Tag Archives: short stories

Breathe.

Her husband sat her down at the bed. She’d just taken a hot water bath. She placed her towel on her shoulder to soak up water from her wet hair. She inhaled deeply. This wasn’t the first time she had to answer the questions. This wouldn’t be the last.

“How did it happen?”

“What did he say?”

“How does it feel?”

“When exactly did it happen?”

“Did you see it all?”

Once again she closed her eyes and recalled the moment. In a flash, it was all over. One second she was at the pavement, the next she was on the road, the head of a dying man on her lap, blood drenching her clothes, tickling down her skin, shock overriding the bile building up in her stomach.

She opened up her eyes again. She was ready.

Her husband instead said, “It must be difficult for you dealing with the accident. Do you want to eat outside or should I cook?”

She breathed again!

Graciously Yours!

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The unseen face.

PST

 

They could not afford the granduer of the Durga Puja pandals which were stretched across the length and breadth of the city. Their idol had none of the splendor associated with the city’s most festive days. They were five women praying to the strongest woman deity they’d ever known, celebrating her stories, wondering if she still existed somewhere among one of them.

Not many of them prayed anymore. Over the years, the numbers at the Puja had dwindled. She didn’t blame them. After all, how long can you fight against your own destiny and hope that things will change, tides will turn and the unthinkable will happen? But she hadn’t been able to forsake praying. That is the one thing that she had wholeheartedly learnt from her mother – to pray.

They weren’t a part of the privileged – if she could put it lightly. Goddesses and prayers couldn’t be an element of their daily living. Far from it, in fact. They lived in areas, the others called red light areas. She never understood where the name came from. She always wondered if the red light signified danger – and if yes, then were they a danger to society or was the society a danger to them?

She seemed to have lost herself in the sounds of the conch shell and the bells. The fragrance of the incense sticks devoured her into a trance.  Someone banged on the door. Snapping out of her trance, she opened the door. “How much longer will you all be at it? It’s almost sun down. You need to get to work,” the lady at the door, said strictly. The lady was not a bad person, but she wasn’t necessarily good either. She was, unfortunately, just right.

“We’ll be downstairs soon,” she said ruefully.

Closing the small 10 by 10 feet spare room which housed a small idol of the Goddess of the season, the five ladies trooped to their respective rooms downstairs. Taking off her red and white bangles, she kept them carefully in a velvet clothed box. Her mangalsutra* lay beside it. She’d never worn it after her wedding day. Tears welling up in her eyes, she kept the box tucked far inside her wardrobe. She removed her red bindi and stuck it on the top of the box. They were to be used again after a long time. Slowly she took off her red and white sari, an attire which held no significance in the life she was living, an attire that was to be kept hidden away from her ‘customers’, an attire that shouldn’t remind them in any manner of the life that was awaiting them outside the red light area.

She was faceless to them. Nameless to them. They wanted it that way. And she wanted to keep it that way too. She didn’t want to think of what her life meant – either to her or to them. She wanted to keep her dreams locked away in that velvet clothed box.

She was a devotee of  the Durga. But she couldn’t harness the Goddess’ strength in herself. They were devotees of the Durga too. And they didn’t want her to harness Her strength.

Graciously Yours!

Picture Courtesy : Prashant from Just Spoken Thoughts. Thank you for coming up with the beautiful sketch in almost no time! Hoping that this post will allure you into further creative collaborations! ;)

*The black and golden beaded necklace that signifies marital connection and is a part of the married Hindu woman’s attire.

Yearning.

I yearned for your touch. You slept two feet from me but were miles away. I wanted to reach out to you and run my hand down your arm. I wanted to feel your rough hands caressing my face. I wanted my slender fingers to run through your hair. Involuntarily, my hand went towards your heaving torso. I wanted to feel your heart beating. Was it thudding as fast as mine? I pulled myself together just in time. I adjusted the pillows between us again and went out into the balcony. Tomorrow I’d ask for a separate hotel room.

I don’t know when I fell in love with you. Worse still, I didn’t know when you fell out of love with me.

Graciously Yours!

Picture Courtesy : Colourbox.

The Last Laugh.

The scratching of pens wouldn’t stop. The overhead fan was whirring at full speed. Yet, she could sense the beads of sweat forming over her brow. A couple more minutes and she would wipe it off again. The students had just another 30 minutes and then she could go and rest in the staff room.

This was the third consecutive day her cook hadn’t turned up. Her ailing mother in law was demanding even when on bed. Then there was her husband who couldn’t see her burdens even if she threw them in his face. Well, he was dead anyways. He met with an accident while he was on a trip with his mistress. The world thought he died alone and mourned him for all that he wasn’t. She didn’t care to correct their assumptions to save her daughter from the society’s cruel impending jibes.

She could see two students passing papers at the back of the room. She didn’t care! They were old enough to know what was right and what wasn’t. If they thought these marks could secure their future, she wanted to roll on the floor laughing at their silliness. The real world would make them repent for their underhand methods. Or at least life would. She let them enjoy the short lived moments of adrenalin rushed success. And noted their roll numbers for further reference.

If they were good, she was better.

Graciously Yours!

At the break of dawn.

All the while as she waited, no sign of respite, the clock ticking by ceaselessly, breathing seemingly harder.

Her optimism was gradually fading, the smile turning to nervous twitches, the feet tapping rhythmically to the gush of the wind and roar of the seas.

The night was falling darker than before, the moonless sky not helping, she wringed her hands in despair as she paced up and down the beach.

Breaking the horizon, at last, she saw a trawler approaching, she held her breath as her stomach tingled, praying that it was the one she’d helped paint.

The horizon had never seemed farther, the time never went slower, as seconds seemed like hours and eras had bygone as the trawler broke shore.

“Oh I was so worried,” she teared as she clung to her husband’s torso. Amused, he was going to mock her, but her tears made him say, “The winds held us longer than expected.”

“Are you alright, dear?”, he asked worried, when she didn’t let him go. He fell to his knees, unaware of the rocks scraping them. Blood trickled down on to the jagged pieces while he hugged her waist like never before.

“I’m pregnant, ” she’d said.

Graciously Yours!

Picture Courtesy : Pinterest.

Of Darker Alleys (Part 2)


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She started walking faster. She had to get to the house early to make use of all the time she could get. She wanted to get away from them. She was desperate.

She reached the house. She could see the men standing outside impatiently. Bowing her head, lowering her eyes, she walked past them silently. She felt their eyes piercing her back. An involuntary shudder passed through her as she walked in through the wooden door. It was the last time she was going to do it.

It was a beautiful house. Much better than what she had been brought up in. The elders of the house had built it with much love and money. Latticed windows, carved doors, floral designs adorning the middle of the courtyard; she fell in love with the place when she saw it. She used to imagine how she would one day take care of it. Little had she imagined anyone could be as unhappy here as she had become.

Her mother-in-law was walking towards her. She muttered instructions to her. All she caught was the confirmation that they would be back in some time. Possibly half an hour. She didn’t listen to anything else. Not anymore.

The minute they left the compound to attend the neighborhood wedding, she ran to her room. She didn’t want to attend the wedding. It was a trade. The girl was being sold and she wouldn’t know it for a while. That is how the village was surviving. The current generation had almost no girls. Who would the boys marry? They killed their own daughters and bought daughters of other parents only to sell them off as commodities once their utility was over. Higher the demand, higher the price. She preferred the dried grasslands over such fake lushness. At least back at her place, they treated humans as humans.

She had put together a few of her clothes. She was still in two minds if she should run away with her baby or alone. She knew if they found the baby missing, they would not leave any stone unturned to get to her. But if she alone went missing, they might not even bother. With a heavy heart, she picked up her little cloth bag and crossed the length of the house to leave.

She stopped right at the main door. Her son was wailing. Her only son was wailing! She opened the door. She tried ignoring his cries. She could see her freedom waiting down the road. She could hear a hungry heart and an impatient stomach calling out to her.

The mother in her had decided. She had decided to remain human. She closed the doors on herself again. Clutching her bag to her chest, she ran up to his room. Her baby wanted her. Her freedom would have to wait today.

Graciously Yours!

P.S. : I do not know about other countries but I do know that such practices are rampant in India. How rampant, where, since when ~ I wish I could answer those questions with surety, but I cannot.

Picture Credits : Ishita Shah.

Of Darker Alleys (Part 1)

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She squinted her eyes to block the Sun out. She counted the coins she had and kept them in a hidden pocket, of her money bag, she had sewn in. Today was the last day she had to do this. Not anymore.

She picked up her bags of vegetables. She saw the vendor stare at her mammary glands. Shuddering at the thought of what he may be thinking, she walked away. Today was the last day she would walk away silently. Not anymore.

She walked down to her home, no, her husband’s home. The men of the village knew what she was. The women of the village were silent watchers. There were many like her here. No one said anything aloud. But the way they stared at her, spoke to her, spoke about her, gave it all away. They were all hand in glove.

Two years ago, she’d set foot in the village. She was happy at the turn of events in her life. From dried grasslands into lush green living. She thanked her fortunes every day and showered love on her fortune changer. At the back of her mind, however she always found something amiss. She ignored it again and again. Her husband’s abject lack of affection, her in-laws’ desire for an early child, the villagers eyeing her with a look that could make fathers drive back daughters into the houses forever, the pity in the eyes of some women for her; it all kept prodding at that feeling of danger lurking around nearby.

Three months ago, she gave birth to her husband’s son. Everyone at the house was overjoyed. She wanted to die. She was a vessel for them. That is all she was. She may be sparsely educated but she was perceptive. She read people’s behavior, heard them talk, noticed things around. She didn’t want to believe her fate. Her husband had married her for a child. Like the other men in the village, he would sell her off after that. The first time her mother in law hugged her was after the test confirmed she was bearing a boy. She sobbed all night.

Once her son was born, she was rarely allowed to be with him. She was to only feed him and take care of him after the others were tired of playing with him. All she became was a nanny to her own son. She had hoped things would change after her child’s birth. They did. The people of the house showered affection. On her son.

(to be continued…)

Graciously Yours!

The Angel in You.

 

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Amy had seen that face before. She would recognise it anywhere. The face that had over the years faded away but resurfaced strongly when the appearance became physical. The face had changed Amy’s life. The face that had given Amy a second chance.

The lady wasn’t in her patrolling uniform. Her hair was open and flowing. She had a glittering dress on. Her smile was stunning as she looked at her beau. The eyes were still the same though. Compassionate and empathic.

As Amy sat there in the underground railway, looking at the lady, that night came flashing before her.

The stormy night, the strong currents, the alluring bridge, a broken heart, deserted roads, an emptying wallet, She had been overcome by a strong and sudden bout of depression. Nothing had seemed to be working in her favor. Her parents didn’t say it, but she could see their disappointed eyes. It was worse when they put on unmatched smiles to make her feel better. Her mind gave her so many easier ways out, as she stood under the canopy of the cafe, waiting for the torrential rain to take a break. With not much to do, she felt deserted and lonely like never before. She didn’t want to step out into the rain. But her mind made her limbs move onto the roads from the kerb. She didn’t want to get wet. But she found herself soaked to the bones within seconds. She didn’t want to cross over to the bridge. But she found herself standing at its egde. Precariously. She was afraid — of herself. She wanted someone to stop her. She also knew there was no one around, no ray of hope, no silver lining. Was this the only way? Maybe, this was what was meant to happen. She could feel water rolling down her cheeks. She wasn’t sure if it was tears or drops of the rain water. She looked into the water below. They seemed to be hungry to lap her up, thrashing themselves on the banks impatiently.

Someone jolted her out of her trance, dragging her away by the arms. She seemed like an angel to Amy! The lady only said, “Go home. However bad things might be, you do not deserve this.” Embarrassed and shocked at the recent turn of events, Amy practically remembered fleeing the scene, with that face etched in her memory forever.

 

Without further waste of time, Amy walked up to the lady and said to her, “You saved my life once. And I will be eternally grateful to you.” Puzzled, but understanding that she must have helped her in some way, the lady welcomed the hug Amy gave her.

 

Today, Amy is returning home from work to a loving husband. Her parents are proud of her. She is proud of herself.

 

Graciously Yours!