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Microfiction Contest April 1-10th 2016

Winners
       
First Prize
Second Prize
Third Prize
   
         
All Entries
       
       

Canonisation by Haimanti Dutta Ray

The poor, untouchable lepers slowly became her constant companions. She worked tirelessly for their cure and comfort. They, in their turn, looked up to her as their sole benefactor.

“Sisters you call them. I would call them angels in white and blue.”

My friend had just returned from her visit to the Missionaries of Charity, near the Entally area of Kolkata. She was, of course, referring to the Algerian dame who served the downtrodden till her death and whose own demise had brought the city to a standstill, with the Pope visiting Kolkata (Calcutta then) for the first time.

Mother Teresa, that human symbol of selfless devotion to the human cause, had been the mentor at the Missionaries. Her trademark – blue cotton sari with a blue single-stripped border – is the uniform for all sisters at her institution of human service. Indians as well as foreign nationals had joined here in order to support her cause.
Miracles were ones which we read about in books. ‘They hardly happen in real lives’ - we were taught at schools. Yet Mother Teresa had made miracles happen in real life. Her mere touch had cured a person from a fatal, incurable disease. The result: Sainthood. Saint Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity would, forever, become totems of service to mankind.

The Café by Kashif Ilyas Back to Top

I sat in a café staring out the glass window at the infinite number of people hurrying to their endless destinations. As I gazed at the grey forlorn night with my forgotten cup of coffee in front of me, my eyelids began to get heavy and my vision started to cloud.

I was startled awake by a gentle hand on my shoulder. A beautiful apparition was smiling at me.

...

“Sir? It’s closing time…”

“Huh.. oh yes… okay…” I mumbled and started getting up.

“Could you point me to the restroom?”

“Sure,” she said, pointing to a door in the far corner.

After relieving myself, I was splashing my face with cold water when I heard loud voices. As soon as I walked out I saw the man who had been standing at the counter slap the waitress hard. She cried out in pain and stumbled onto the nearby table. Blind anger flashed in my mind and I started rushing towards the man.

“Hey!” He shouted at me. “You stay out of this!”

His words barely registered in my mind. As I closed in on him, he reached behind his back and brought out a gun. A burst of light erupted from the muzzle and I felt the bullet pierce my chest. I fell on the floor as my blood pooled around me.

For the second time that night, everything started to darken.

Then I was being woken up by the waitress. There was the angelic smile again. The forgotten cup of coffee on the table. The words out of her mouth which I couldn’t hear as I was in shock, but which I could make out from the movement of her lips:

“Sir? It’s closing time…”

 

Untitled by Amen Benjamin Salve Back to Top

It was her report session at the hospital. An appointment at four, she had definitely made it early. In the waiting room she flipped magazine pages. The room smelt a bit odd like saline and drugs. The walls looked like were painted in 70’s, the cracks in the walls were almost earthquake stricken. She disgusted the haunting look of the hospital and tried to glue her eyes to the magazine. The room was so quite that you could hear even yourself breathing the crummy smell of blood and medicines.

Another sound disrupted her thoughts of the sketchy wall, the sound of someone else breathing. She looked upon to see a man whose eyes were glued on her as were hers on the magazine. She ignored it once and continued to flip pages pretending she doesn’t care his heavy breathing. To her he looked like someone straight from the asylum. She began to feel uneasy at the constant gazing. Those big eyes one black another brown and thick black brows fixated on hers. She stretched the skirt down her knee and buttoned her blouse to conceal her cleavage. But her efforts couldn’t take his shuddery eyes off her. She gulped saliva down her throat and wiped sweat off her forehead. She sat like a lamb tied to lion’s cave avoiding eye contact.

The patient she was so afraid of finally made the move. He got up from her seat, she shivered in the cold. He stepped forward, and she barged outside the room.

The receptionist followed her to hand over her reports she had come for, which wrote “Positive symptoms of Schizophrenia”

While the other patient put on his black glasses and white cane and went in for the appointment.

 

The Path by Pulkit Khare Back to Top

They say life is a race. If you don’t run faster, people will outrun you and you’ll become a failure. They want you to continuously sprint amidst millions of others on the same race course and have a life of ‘success’ where success is defined by your car, bungalow and clothes.
This track has been travelled upon for thousands of years. With time, the society developed and we started using money as a launch pad in the race.
But it remained the same race. It got exponentially more populated, we learnt to use technology and society for our benefit, the fight became more intense and we started finding new ways to exceed others...and the race continued. Life went on.
This is the short story of life that you and I have been told for years. This is what they believe in, expect you to absorb and pass on.

But is that it? Is that how life should be lived?

Imagine a racecourse where thousands run each day.
How muddy, insipid, dirty and uneven it must have become?
Indeed, it has.
They believe that the beaten path of life will take you to paradise.
They lie.
They are the anonymous demons in form of humans. They have formed their society.
We happen to live in it.
Both human and divine perceptions of the ‘paradise’ can be found on earth if we are wise enough to accept and experience beauty as it comes to us.

So what will I do?
I’ll run.
I’ll run where the breathtaking Flamboyant and Cherry blossom trees form the archway; I’ll run where the smell of Roses and Wisteria takes me to another world while enjoying the mesmerizing path that I’ll find.
I will find this paradise.
And I won’t let demons in my paradise.

 

Humanity Murdered by Happy Singh Back to Top

That day too the street was crowded with cars, motorcycles, trucks rushing towards their destination. Amidst the loud traffic, there stood a truck with four overexcited, gleaming faces inside. Of those four, one spoke to driver loudly,"Hey bro, drive to the place fast. After a long struggle we got her in our trap. We will have fun. I can't wait anymore ."

Driver said," I am trying my best to get there but the traffic is too harsh. My condition is the same." He smiled.
"Ok, but try to be there before night falls," said the other one.

Finally, after a long struggle at around 7:30 pm they reached their destination, a cottage inside a roadside dense forest.
They opened the back of truck and brought her out. Her mouth and limbs were tied hard with the rope so she couldn't make noise. They took her inside and started to drink. After finishing a bottle of whisky , they ran towards her like a devil.

They started to tear her clothes and scratching her body. Blood started oozing out from every part and tears rolled down her cheeks. But those stone-hearted kept on hurting her until they tore each bit of cloth from her body, letting her naked and finally due to continuous bleeding, she succumbed to death. They threw her in a stream flowing nearby.
Next day her body was discovered, the police arrived but a strange thing happened. No one felt guilty and were sympathetic towards her. They came saw her dead body and left without any mark of remorse.
It was not their fault because she was just a Tigress being "Raped" by Smugglers for Skin.

Unknown by Gaurav Pal

That raft of penguins had souls of many forms.
A few were nice, some diabolical, but only the two beautiful ones.
The female had an aura that attracted all....
The male was someone who was in his own world all along.
A while later he realized that the female would complete his world.
With the best intentions he asked out the girl.
She fell for his innocence and decided to be with him;
Something that couldn’t be accepted by many others of them.
He, to many was unknown whereas she was the queen of hearts.
They were gleeful when they were around one another.
Weak, when they would yearn for each other.
Years passed, everyone accepted that their fate was written as ‘one’.
But not the jealousy ridden penguin who wanted her around.
He introduced her to a world, completely different.
Gullible as she was, she saw the image he pictured as substantive.
‘The male was a swindler and the evil was innocuous’.
Dilemma befell upon her as to whom to trust.
On one hand, her soul, on the other hand, her love.
She trusted everyone; little did she understand whom to believe.
The male noticed her changing, but ignored.
The rage inside her heart only made things sore.
The evil wanted her now with no further delay.
He cut him out of the picture.
Got intoxicated by her and sent away.
The evil, with his pure heart from then on was innocent to all.
Everybody was joyous but how she felt was the enigma.
The male asked what his mistake was.
Again, there was no answer.
And yet another raft left him to rot.

 

The Final Refuge by Anwesha Padhy Back to Top

Staring at her reflection in the stillness of the lake, she felt the most agonizing melancholy descend over her. The excruciating pain that surged through her as she snapped out of her introspective trance wasn’t unexpected, yet it took her by surprise every time. Her thoughts, poetic in their symbolism, had once been her place of refuge. A counter against the stark banalities of a life she perceived extraordinary, only in its ordinariness.

She cannot exactly place in time the moment the transformation started, but somewhere between trying to bridge the chasm of how she’d always visualized her life and how those ideas had come to clash violently with the reality of her existence, she was left stranded in an island of desolation and despair. An island of her own making.

She thought of him. How she’d pushed him away. He had been the angel of light to her darkness, prudent in his cynicism, discerning in his opinions. His love so paradoxically tender and so beautifully understated that you could mistake it for nonchalance.

She saw the truth of his affection in her moments of clarity. Even so, instead of living the blissful moment induced by the magical hypnotism of first love, she doubted. He did not conform to her ideals. He wasn’t how she’d imagined she’d love and be loved. Her inner demons were overpowering.
She was torn between her two worlds. And his perceptiveness was limited to his reality.

She was tired of how their two worlds refused to meet. Self-deception was the biggest mistake one could make. And she had done wrong by herself for far too long.
As she walked into the water, her last clear thought was of his dimpled smile, before she was engulfed in a whirlwind reverie of her past.

 

God by Rounak Roy Chowdhury Back to Top

''Children always respect your mother and love her because she is your God. She was the one who gave birth to you she was the one who bore you for nine months in her womb, she took all the pain so that you can see the bright light of this beautiful world. She is your first and your last teacher, guide and friend. She held your hand when you tottered while you were learning to walk and she will be the one who will hold your hand and show you the right path of life always,'' and the period ended.

After School.

The Good Life; Sam's house.
''Sam why don't you eat this? You just came back from school you are hungry'' , his mother pleaded.

''I won't touch this also. I told you I don't like this stuff. Make me something else or just go away from my sight.

The Bad Life; Raj's house.

While eating his 'self-made' food, after coming back from school, he spoke to himself, ''the teacher said today that everybody has their mother but she was wrong. I don't have my mother. But why? Wasn't I born from my mother? Then? Why did she leave me? I make my own food everyday. When I get ill nobody gets me medicines. I still remember when she was here and I used to get ill she used to give me medicines, she used to make me tasty food. She used to care for me so much. She was the world's best cook and eating from her hand used to make the food even more tasty. I remember she used to stroke my hair and I used to fall asleep. All my friends have their mother but why not me? Maybe thats why I don't believe in God'' , tears rolled down the 14 year old's cheeks.

 

Keep Distance - Horn - O.K. Please Back to Top
(Love story of a Truck) by Rushati Ghosh

They say, ‘without wheels, love can never drive you crazy’. If that was the case, I was definitely doomed.

...

We were crossing on the highway. Horns blew, dippers blinked, our headlights met and we fell in love. Dhanno was one of a kind. I had never met a hot wheel like her before. She was colorful, decorative and swift. (And by swift I mean the literal meaning of it, not Maruti Suzuki Swift! We don’t go for intercars marriage, oh I mean, garage. Our garages were divided here in Dugdugpur long ago on 4-wheeler type basis.)

Anyway, driving back to where I was; all I have to say is, there was something so attractive about this fancy daughter of Tata that I couldn’t keep my headlights off her. And by Eicher’s grace, she too had fallen for my rustic and robust look.

Today was our second date at the dhaba. I saw Dhanno parking herself swiftly and elegantly on the side, and it made me feel weak in the wheels. Such was her charm. We were to leave for the movie Transformers in a while, the lady had requested and I couldn’t help say no, though I did feel insecure and a bit jealous after watching its trailer last night. I hope there won’t be an Optimus Prime to be seen on the highway tonight.

I finally gathered my diesel and rushed towards Dhanno to sit close to her when she whispered in my ear ‘Dharam, Keep distance.’ My eyes fell on the clichéd dictum, buri nazar wale tera muh kaala. I quickly honked and said ‘Ok Please.’

I wondered, if there was a speed limit on love!

 

Untitled by Sakshy Rai Back to Top

Beauty was more beautiful than beauty itself. The pulchritudinous princess left everyone enchanted. UGLY was unsightly and monstrous.

The king locked BEAUTY in her castle because he believed that her exquisite figure could provoke lust even in the most celibate priest. The outside world was dangerous for her and she was dangerous to the world outside. Unaware of UGLY, she despised God for cursing her with beauty and craved ugliness.

The king locked UGLY in her castle because he believed that she was displeasing even to the eyes of the blind. The outside world was not meant for her and she was not meant for the world outside. Unaware of BEAUTY, she despised God for cursing her with ugliness.

They both accepted the king's order and gave themselves up to fate. Little did they realize that their curse was neither beauty nor ugliness, but the lack of courage to stand up for themselves and question the authorities; to take their lives under their control and be their own goddess.

 

The Price She Paid by Divya Garg Back to Top

Sitting at the edge of wrought iron bed, gazing towards the pavement from her windowpane – Sarmishtha’s mind was running at the speed of bullet...

Resonant and coherent voices battling with each other from all the corners of her mind, leading only to one conclusion – “May be its good for everyone, may be it’s the time for an end.” And there it was, Boom! With pulling of that trigger, she took a hard shot at it and bang on. It was an instant kill.

She had finally made the decision, today would be the day when she had to bid final goodbye to her. At last the day has come when she would be free of this strife within herself to end it all, for once and forever.

No one knew the inflicting pain she was going through, though today she would be free from it. Free from it or caged forever: she mumbled to herself.

And then she closed her eyes and aimed for the target. There was no blood, no mess, no chaos and no mourning. It was a silent kill. It was death of her dreams and her freedom to the wishful world of the society.

She tore the tickets of her next long trip US assignment to get married next week.

It was the happiest day for her parents and relatives with this decision coming across, and she silently died by killing her dreams on her own.

Light And Darkness by Kasturi Patra Back to Top

A thin streak of light from the street lamp stole its way through the curtains and fell upon her belly. Her dark form appeared to be cut by a sword that had left behind a fluorescent mark. She was thin and vulnerable, and tried to please me with all her 18-year-old self. I loved visiting such places, where money could buy you fake devotion for some time.

She grew conscious of my hunched form looming over her with rapt attention, as if she were a valuable display in the museum. Initially, she had the look of a frightened stray dog, waiting to be beaten. After five minutes, she must have felt I was one of those perverts whose appetite stretched beyond the ordinary and the paths they took were far from pleasing. She was about to explain to me the rules when I put a finger on her lips and asked her to be quiet.

I just come here to look at these girls though I pay for the full service. Their forms arouse me. I never take off my clothes. All they have to do is lie in the darkness while the street light creeps in the nooks and crevices of their naked bodies. I gently devour the flirting of light and shade.

The place where I come from thinks of this as a depravity. So, I take on the disguise of a man. No one expects a man to behave. I could have taken up one of these girls as my steady lover, but I was afraid to reveal my secret for the fear of being shunned from here. This is the only place that offered me some satiation and hence, sanity.

My real life is a place where I can only don the ‘good girl’ mask.

 

Untitled by Shivapriya Ambalavanan Back to Top

It came as a pleasant surprise to her.
"Me, sir?"
"Yes. You. The youngest partner of our firm. You'll be joining tomorrow in your new post, won't you? "
" Definitely, sir. "
Now as she thought about it, she felt proud. No one could've expected this of her. Her parents who had sacrificed everything for her were ecstatic. She would bring her father, who was retiring in two months time, home with her. She would have to rent a bigger house for sure and buy a new car. After all it seemed unseemly for the youngest member of a major shareholding company to go by train as she was now, going back home.
As she saw the couple, along with their child sitting across her, she felt a pang of discomfort. This was one tide she had never tread on. Even when her erstwhile enthusiastic 'chacha' had sought to find a decent match for her, her father, respecting her dreams had refused flatly. Her chacha had said, "Bhaisaab, you don't understand, he earns fifty thousand rupees a month, he will take care of our little princess."
Well, chacha, she thought savagely, I earn a whole lot more than him now. I can take care of myself.
The train was now going through the homeless sector of the city. She remembered her past which resembled this and her future which she saw sitting across from her. The child of the couple looked up at her and smiled.
There was a shrieking noise as the train pushed the brakes and a falling sensation. She saw the child skewered on a pole and something hit her right arm. The pain was the last thing she felt.
As she drifted in and out of consciousness, she heard people around her. "The only survivor." "Her arm though.. " "We'll have to call someone.."
When she fully regained consciousness, she saw her father crying by her feet and her mother looking distraught. Only then did she see the stump of her right arm. Tears came unbidden to her eyes.
No more could she have the job she had dreamt of or find herself a future. She would always be beholden to her retired parents, a person who couldn't sustain herself. Or.... There was another thought which came unbidden to her mind. She could be everything she wanted with just a little more effort.
The next thing the doctors saw was a miracle.

 

Refuge in Memories Ipshita Chatterjee Back to Top

Sometimes, I yield to the temptation of taking refuge in memories....
Sometimes, when the going gets too tough, I beat a retreat into your strong arms, and try, just for a fleeting moment, to feel safe and not continuously threatened by unnamed fears.
Sometimes, when overwhelmed by the harsh realities of life breaking upon me, like rough waves of the sea break upon the shore, I talk. I talk to you, like we used to do, and you, like those good old days, calm and counsel me, like a lighthouse on the rocky beach, a beacon for all ships floundering in the sea.
Sometimes, I yield to the temptation of taking refuge in memories.
In my memories, your smile is immortal, etched forever in cool marble.
In my memories, I always drift off to sleep in your strong arms, knowing that you are there, watching over me.
In my memories, your firm hands hold my face and your eyes look into mine, and tell me that you love me.
In my memories, we both find home in each other.
In my memories, we are halves of each other, completing each other in our unique ways.
I don’t know about you, but me,
Sometimes, I yield to the temptation of taking refuge in memories.

 

That Playlist Anupama Srivasatava Back to Top

Aahhhh!! The songs give us the best feelings when we are sitting alone. Also in the middle of the busy schedule, they act as a medicine to a person. But here what I'm talking about is that bunch of songs..those old songs, that are related to a particular incident or moment..A perfect cloudy, windy day it was when my sister switched on her old cell phone and the songs she played from 'That Playlist'. It brought back the nostalgic memories which were buried back somewhere deep in the past under the heavy years of pressure and burden. "But they're back again just like a long lost friend, all the songs I loved so well..every sha la la la.." I hummed and sang. Those songs just blowed everything away and came back to that layer. I know time passes and takes away all the pain but after listening the songs, it felt as if it was a sweet little pain of past. Time passes and blows away the memories but then 'that playlist' brings it back. We all know memories never die and these small incidents keep them alive. I felt relaxed, cool breeze was flowing and inside me was a feeling of contentment. I lived that moment again, I had a glimpse of beautiful innocent days and those songs gave me a sweet memory to remember.

 

I Got Your Back by Angel Jajo Back to Top

“You have to be strong for mom and dad. I know the meds are hard on you but you gonna feel better very soon,” Kathy said to Lily, who is lying in bed, hopelessly moaning from her parched throat.
“Will you read the verse that I had marked?” Lily requested.
Kathy took the Bible from the table and read aloud, “Phillipians 1:23-24, I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.”
Kathy shut the Bible and disappointedly said, “Don’t be silly and don’t tell me to read this again.” And they both went to sleep with Kathy’s arm gently resting over Lily’s head.
At dawn, Lily whisper to Kate, “Hey Kate, I forgot to tell you last night, will you please tell Claire and Fiona that I miss them.”
“Tell them yourself, and why are you so cold? Pull over the blanket and get some sleep, mom and dad will be up soon.”
“Thank you Kate for always having my back.”
Early morning, mom carefully wakes up Kathy, “Wake up Kate, are you alright?”
“Yeh, I’m fine” and Kate sluggishly walk towards the bathroom.
When she came out, she find her parents sobbing beside the bed, she then look at Lily, she has turned pale, with patches of dark spots and stiff.
Kathy stood motionless, she could no longer hear her parents cry. Her heart beat so fast, she could not tell if it is because of the grief or of fear. She herself has turned pale and her body starts to tremble, before her weak knees gave way.
Just then, someone grab her from behind and whisper on her ears, “Now, I got your back.”

 

Will You Walk With Me In The Screenlight? by Amelia Alberts Back to Top

She walks along the sidewalk
staring at the screen, at words, made of pixels.

An instagram notification tears through the screen.
The Sun sets over the horizon and over her shoulder.
Double Tap the instagram image.

She checks her whatsapp tab.
251 messages from 7 conversations.
She walks past a group of people, each immersed in their own whatsapp conversations.

Silence.

She reaches her party.
Or assembly,
so to speak.
Or type, on the next Snapchat caption or Facebook Check-in.

Her phone is the coffin her soul is buried in.
Ten people around her.
Screenlight beams onto their faces.

The only time she looks up,
She flips her phone, turns to her neighbour,
Flashes her brightest smile.

Pout. Click. Post.

"Feeling crazy with ______ at _________ with 8 others. "

The Names,
mere Facebook Profiles,
whose last names she doesn't need to know,
Cause she can look them up, anyway.

200 likes.

She decides to leave and walks away.
Neither notices.
Them. Or her.
Only notifications.

She clicks an icon on her phone.
Enter destination.
Book Cab.
Cab Arrives.
Enters Cab.
Reaches Home.
Pays.
Exits cab.

Silence.

She decides to tell her friend about the evening.
She posts on her Facebook timeline.
Shouting across the hall so that everyone present hears what she says, and reacts. Or Comments.
Instead of walking over to her and speaking to her individually. Or texting her.

She's pleased with the advertising accomplished today.

She scrolls through Facebook.
"Drought affected villagers starve to death."
She shares the post. "Humanity needs to unite."
400 likes.
She didn't notice the homeless woman whimpering next to her doorstep.
Because her view was blocked.
By the size of her non-medicinal Tablet.

She notices a familiar face from the party.
She clicks a word on a screen.

Will you walk with me in the screenlight?

 

Shirley Arrogance Makes Her Pay by Niharika G Back to Top

Look Vasu dear , Don’t be proud of your ‘Happy Family’ image , Shirley says through her gritted teeth as everyone around her is highly talking about Vasu’s love for his family .
Lucky Saberwal a A -listed Bollywood Hero is her fiancee , this fact makes her arrogant and pig headed .
But one day during their college reunion party , Lucky Saberwal looking at Meera simply makes a statement that “Meera looks awesome even at this age”Not wonder .....our lovable Vasu who is entrepreneur cum author cannot takes his eyes from her .Hearing these words Shirley mocks at him and says “ Hmm....what so great about her , and anyways she is coming from a class which is not up to mark according to me”.
“She belong my class”Lucky painfully says .
Meaning “Shirley , I too come from Meera’s class and today you are willing to marry me only because......I have power naa....” he says peacefully
There is no use of taking to you Ms Shirley , as you are not made of pure heart but you are made up of sticky and muddy money because of which you are not able to differentiate between good ,bad and ugly .
Saying so he leaves the place .Lucky ! Lucky! her shouts reverberated the room .Feeling helpless she cries a lot as realizes “ How aimless is she?”
In this form Shirley arrogance makes her pay for the attitude she throws at people around her.

 

Picture-Perfect by Diasha Bardhan Back to Top

"I'm sorry. Happy Birthday", he was breathing into her neck. Like, 'I'm sorry' would make everything right again.
"It's okay", she was saying "...but I think you should go. I forgive you. But that doesn't mean you didn't hurt me".

2:42 am. 24/03/2023

Sana's phone vibrated. A whatsapp message popped up that said 'Happy 24th Birthday!'
The text was from that number she thought of deleting seven years ago. And just then the doorbell rang.
It was him. Rehaan.
She wanted to say those words which she caged since years. He took her soul and her heart and cushioned her fears with kisses and hugs and empty promises. He took her on long walks that night where he told that she was exactly perfect for him and she was all he would ever need.
"Make it last", she uttered with a happy face and tearful eyes.

Days passed. Years passed. Everything seemed picture-perfect.

Then one day the two got into a fight that was caused over some girl whose name he might not remember in a year but she'll remember for the rest of her life. It was the night they were meant to be engaged. He left her heart gasping for air at her feet as he drove away for the last time. He made her whole body scream with pain so loud, she believed she would either die of a broken heart or get arrested for a noise complaint.
That was when she accepted that, contrary to what everything seemed, she probably wasn't enough.
That was when she knew he was gone forever.
That was when she screamed "I forgive you. But that doesn't mean you didn't hurt me"
..while her throat on fire..

 

The Sight by Priya Athipatla Arun Back to Top

Kanakamma was clearly distressed. Her eyes held fear and revulsion, the kind you reserve for a poisonous snake. She was standing just beyond the gate,... with fistfuls of sand, deciding whether to come in or walk away. I thought of calling out to her, ask her what was wrong but I felt that would only make matters worse. So I just stood there, watching her. Something had changed about the whole place and there were feelings, or memories rather, that were trying to rise up but my mind seems to be resisting them.

Just then I heard the door open behind me. My aunt. God, why do I feel like it's been ages since I saw her?! She seemed weary and much older than her years. So much pain in her eyes.

"Kanakamma? What are you doing? Why are you standing there?" aunty says.

"Go away, Paapa. You have no business here any more. Go away to your world, where you belong. Let your family be." Kanakamma started throwing the sand on the gate, eyes boring into mine, oblivious to my aunt's confused looks.

"Kanakamma, stop that! What has gotten into you? Go, now. I'll see you tomorrow. You know what's happening here. Have some sense."

"Crazy woman!", my aunt muttered under her breath and turned away to close the door.

Crazy, indeed! I smiled to myself and walked back into the house, where a big photo made me stop. My photo. There was a garland, sticks of incense sending up curls of smoke and other puja paraphernalia. And that smell - sweet and cloying, of agarbatti mixed with the heady aroma of funereal roses and lilies. And a slight, very slight, undertone of decayed flesh.

And then I remembered. Remembered how I died

 

Untitled Damarla Nalini Back to Top

How often do I struggle to answer the simplest question? Here’s an example to how my complex brain works. Blame it on the creator for the feminine complexity.
...My son did an assignment couple of months ago on “What Freedom means to me?”. I was surprised that he laid his points well for his age. The article he wrote was about freedom of education that he is getting in this Country whereas Kids like Malala have been fighting for the basic education in their Country. After the appreciation to his article, he asked me what my freedom meant to me.
Freedom? Am I free to do anything I want? This is where my many folded brain got into a serious thinking. Usually, you might have come across two kinds of “I-don’t- know”. A 5-year-old, who ate his sibling’s cookie and when questioned about the cookie, who did take it but replies with a stub born, reluctant “I-don’t know”. A reckless carefree teenager’s “I don’t know- you-better-figure-it-out-yourself” falls into the second kind. There’s one more kind of don’t know that arises in your mid- thirties – a big pause one. I am still thinking about it is what I meant. It must have been more than a couple of months trying to figure out my perfect square root like answer.
What books can best give my answers? My mind slowly drifts to find answers in nature. Is the Sun free? Are the trees, the wind and the river free? May be we are underestimating the value of nature because they are free. What would freedom have meant to them? The Sun is there, bold and calm, experiencing freedom for millions of years. It can do what it wants too. The Sun need not cajole us Humans to take a cigarette break or punch a hole in time slot expecting something in return. It is there, just there. The Sun can very well eat up an entire planet or destroy our earth in 8 seconds (So I have read it somewhere). But it doesn’t do that. It stands where it has to– performing its sole purpose of existence. We exuberate ourselves when bright yellow light falls on our skin. Can the Sun think of such a total exuberance? Never. So I get that nature is experiencing freedom in a controlled way. When did the Sun, the stars and the wind realize their control is their freedom? That control and discipline earned them their freedom. Maybe if it was to wander in the way it wanted, we would have been destroyed. Am I not right? The more I think, there are more puzzling questions. Interesting thing about Questions is that they single dimensional and the answers we get are always multi-dimensional, based on one’s perspective.
Returning to searching the answer to my freedom, I feel I am in this jar called “Home”. I breathe, live, innovate and emote in these four walls. TV sitcoms, movies, cooking shows and books take me to places, fictional adventures, dystopian era, sights - smell envision my capabilities. As a life lesson, a kid is enough to bring all kinds of emotions in a mother. The jar gives me endless possibilities in these four walls. Nobody can stop me to write, paint, sing, dance or do yoga. I like that privacy.
I, sometimes, imagine myself as a fig Bonsai tree. Why Fig? I fell in love with Sylvia Plath’s Fig tree reference. It is exactly me. On the contrary, I am not sitting under the tree. Instead I am that tree holding to lot of tiny figs – family, career, health, love, past, dreams, hopes, passions and laughs. It has been very difficult to give up one. I am defying Newton’s gravity, taking pride in my youth and Herculean strength. There’s time to remind me that age withers, but to me gracefully.
When I am on my strolls, I am either concerned about a family issue or the dish I will be able to make it in an hour the next day to pack for lunch. Planning next day’s menu is not frivolous activity as it might make you grin. I have to put a lot of effort in balancing health, time and taste. Then all of a sudden, I realize I didn’t feel my breathing at all those times. This is just like amateur meditation session. Your mind should stay calm, but it wanders to our kids, Funniest videos that made you laugh, pressure cooker sounds and sometimes questioning the sole purpose of meditation in your own ignorant way. And there I take a minute pause to look around me.
A squirrel hides a pine nut in a tiny shoe – the safest bank it knows,
A mourning dove is busy eating a worm – the closest drive through it found is my patio,
A Canadian geese family is out quacking in the small pond – may be arguing serious family matters as any other happy couple should do,
A gloomy gray trash disposal area suddenly brightens up with spring flower decorated tree standing next to it - like polished antique furniture in a renovated house,
A 20 mph speeding car just sways a gazillion pink and white tiny flower petals in one direction on the road – the gentle petals forgive the machine every time by forming a musical note in music lessons,
At the least, there I notice, are four different types of greens in plants in spring, there are interesting mended potholes on the way I walk,
And out of the blue, a cold wind takes back my attention to my duties. What if my kid catches cold or if I get sick, it is even worse?
A cold wind, rain or even a small kid playing near the car parking area is enough to grab my motherly attention to my Bonsai Jar.
And that fifty to hundred meters’ walk, my friends, is enough to spark my imagination to write or to think. All my five senses synchronize in a beautiful pattern and I end up doing a short signature drawing, henna, writing or cooking or paper craft. I own those thirty minutes. To be precise, I steal myself. If this answers how I define my freedom, I don’t know. I really don’t.

 
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