Shivika Aggrawal, Longlist Short Story 2017

Hand or Handkerchief?

Shivika Aggrawal

It was a bright summer day with a clear sky adorned with the patches of clouds forming various shapes and the time was around 3:00 p.m. I was on my way to Noida City Centre in Ghaziabad. It is considered not-so-safe place to travel alone in a hired auto rickshaw or a cab, so I decided to go to the metro station in a sharing auto. As usual auto was packed with people more than its capacity. People were flocked in as if this was the last auto that existed on the planet. During winters though heavy jackets and sweaters reduce the usable capacity for sitting but still traveling in an auto is relatively easier as one doesn’t have to hold breath like in summer. During summers, it becomes a herculean task to sit in a packed auto. One can easily feel the presence of bad smells and exuding malodorousness in their surroundings; vapors of sweat seem to be evaporating all around. A person has to hold breath for maximum time one can when wind blows across the auto through its two wide openings. I got in such an auto rickshaw that was stacked with people of different age groups, professions and they all seemed to be tired after a long day work. Auto rickshaw also had a sound system that was playing Bhojpuri tracks. Once overloaded, the driver started the auto and drove it in its full pace piercing through the dusty winds.

There was a Keralite couple sitting in front me. They had a small baby who was sleeping. It was quite humid. Everybody seemed to be melting with sweat on their forehead. The mixture of smells of different strong deodorants and body odors intoxicated the ambient air of auto rickshaw. The ride was a bumpy one. In India, when vehicle passes over the speed breakers, it appears as if we are sitting in a Rohit Shetty’s car that has its rear wheels in the air. No matter what was going on, the baby was enjoying his deep meditative sleep in his father’s arm with his chin resting on shoulder. Father with his hands was cautious enough to support the baby’s neck and head. The couple were speaking in their mother tongue Malayalam, so I didn’t understand anything they were speaking of. What I could get was their names- AARYA and SAANVI and this was also clear from their talks that they had to go to the same destination where I was going. So, I felt a bit relaxed as I was going to have the safe company for a forty-five minute journey.

Clouds were playing hide and seek. But this was not bringing any kind of relief as the temperature was soaring high. The couple was silent for a while. The father realized that the patch of the shirt where baby was resting his head has gone all wet and his small baby is getting out of his meditative slumber because of this. Now what happened next made me thoughtful. Aarya moved his hand towards Saanvi. Saanvi out of her reflex action or may be because of her habit extended her hand. In a millionth of a second she realized that Aarya was not asking for her hand but he wanted handkerchief to put it on the shoulder so that baby can rest his head on something soft and dry that could absorb the sweat also. Saanvi withdrew her hand as swiftly she could and gave handkerchief. By this time both have realized what has happened between them. They had a magical eye contact. Saanvi smiled with her cheeks getting blushed and rosy.

This small incident made me compelled to think about the power of love and tenderness we all have in our hearts. I am using the ‘hand’ and ‘handkerchief’ as analogy to feelings of love and support and materialistic things respectively. Human beings are endowed with feelings of love and compassion in their hearts. No matter how much luxurious life one has, one needs peace of mind. This peace of mind can’t be bought. While in some countries this is also been en-cashed in the form of hugs-for-money, talk-for-money, cry-paying-money. But this also has their limitations. No one can provide a soft touch like a mother or a warm hug like a husband. Everything cannot be turned into a commodity. We all have very few people in our lives that extend their helping hand without a second thought. They don’t go for the pricey calculations of profit and loss to help you. We must understand the importance of such people in life. It is because of them that our lives become easy, we think to take risks and move ahead, life gets a reason to live. Love can never be out-shined by the gleam and sparkle of expensive things. Realization of the tenderness, flowery beauty of human emotions and supremacy of love in human heart is necessary to lead a happy and blissful life. Not only flowers are tender in this creation, hearts are also as soft as beautiful fragrant flowers. Spread love , spread happiness!

One thought on “Shivika Aggrawal, Longlist Short Story 2017

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s