Tag Archives: strength

In the woods. (2)

Contd from.

I heard a rustle I hadn’t before. There was something alive around me. A second step and I realised there was something soft and squishy beneath me. A soft shriek emerged from my mouth. My hand flew to my face, covering my eyes and face. I took my phone out of my pocket to flash light the floor beneath. “It’s okay. All is well,” I murmured repeatedly. Turns out all wasn’t well. I’d stepped on to a pile of leaves soggy from the evening damp but the rustling I’d heard was the bats waking up. The house, or whatever it had once been, now had a bat infestation! Lightning struck again. I didn’t need the flashlight to see the bats this time. Thunder followed slower this time though. “All is well,” I repeated. I pulled the sleeve cuffs of my sweater up to my palms and covered my ears with them. It muffled the sound and the cold out. 

I squatted outside on the porch, back stuck to the brick wall. I tried recalling why exactly I’d stomped out of the room. It was my honeymoon. And I couldn’t get myself to even begin to adore him. We constantly fought. Our match was arranged by our parents. I’d known him for six months and been married eight days. We’d fought enough already that I was fed up of being in the same room as him. Just thinking about him stressed me out! My stress came rushing out in the form of tears. I bawled.

Once I’d cried enough to tire myself out, I checked my phone. It had network bars now but I no longer cared. The winds had calmed down and I’d made up my mind. Trees swayed lesser; I heard a car honk in the distance. Maybe I’d find a road that’d take me away from the resort. Vigor induced in me, I rushed up from the ground and flashlight on I walked towards the direction I thought I’d heard the honk from. Come jaguar or snake, I didn’t care now. I couldn’t fight them maybe but I needn’t sit crouched in fear either. I saw a road, a dust covered grey strip of tar, to be precise. It needed washing. I almost ran to it and found myself looking at what I was running away from. The resort loomed large and at the gates was my husband getting into an open Jeep, possibly to hunt me down. Again.

Gritting my teeth, I snorted and stepped back into the bushes, taking cover behind a tree. I wouldn’t let him see me. I couldn’t. 

Graciously Yours!

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Life Notes #13.

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I’m not the one on the stage this time, yet the test is mine.

The last life note that I wrote had to do with my entry into public speaking, with me emceeing for one of our corporate events. This one has to do with public speaking too but this time I am putting a lot of other people on the stage, wanting them to enjoy the stage just as I had on that day four months ago. Some of us at office came up with a public speaking forum so that others too got a chance to taste the rush of the stage, overcome the fear of the microphone and find themselves while letting go of the clench of the teeth, the shake of the knees and the sweat in the palms.

To be honest, I am more freaked out now than I was then. Probably because this time around, it’s not me but 30 odd people who are going to be under the scan of an audience that is almost three times the stage-gracers. This is going to be their make-or-break moment, because if we manage to break through their walls of fear together, we’ll make it! I still haven’t figured out why this means so much to me, why I am praying all goes well, why I’d rather keep my fingers crossed till the D-day than uncross them and work on my manuscript. I want each of them to go up there on the stage that day and unveil the magic of their thoughts, perform like they’ve unwound their shackles, unbound themselves from all the chains, like they’ve found themselves. I want to take pride in their efforts and see them take on the stage and world with confidence that shines like the sweat after an innings well played.

Note to self : Making a difference in someone’s life is all about the effort. It doesn’t matter if you succeed or not, though success would indeed be sweeter! What matters is that you tried. Efforts do count, even if not recounted or acknowledged enough.

Graciously Yours!

Marmee!

She’s flawed. Yet she’s perfect.

She’s elegant. She’s hardworking. She’s barely tired. She’s always concerned.

She taught me to accept nothing lesser than what I deserve. She made me bold. She proved women are at par with men.

She put me to sleep on long days. She stroked my hair telling me how proud I made her. She let me make up my mind about what is right and what wrong.

She taught me life. She learnt from me too. She shared her mistakes, overlooked mine. She broke rules. Yet she respected them.

She let me fly free. She brought me back to the earth when I lost my way. She cried at my success. She held me through my failures.

She fought for me. She let me hold her when she was weak. She showed me her weakness. She became my strength.

She’s my ‘Marmee’. And I couldn’t have asked for any better!

Some days, I miss you here. Other days, I write about you! 😉 Love you, Mom!

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Graciously Yours!

Sea.

Guide to reading : Below are, not one but, three completely unrelated short stories all bound by the one word ~ “Sea”.

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He walked towards the seas. Stretched far across till where his eyes could see, only blues greeted him, shimmering in different shades from azure to teal to royal blue with hints of cyan and turquoise pitching in! This was the quieter part of the beach. Not many residents came here. And tourists? Barely. He dropped the bag and slowly moved to the edge of the rocks. As he looked down at the lapping waves twenty feet below, a rush of excitement passed through him. Goosebumps lined up his arms. He took in a lot of air, breathing deep. It would be a while before he did that again. “Whenever you’re ready,” he heard someone shout. He looked across to the adjacent cliff. Nodding, ever so slightly, he gave the clique of photographers a thumbs up and then spreading his arms like those of an eagle’s, he swooped down on the water, cold air rushing past him and all of reality a mere joke in that moment of truth!


“Mom, be careful. The baby might get hurt,” my daughter warned me, as soon as I set the toddler on the sand. I smiled at her, nostalgia hitting me in my guts! Twenty years ago, my little girl was perched in my lap eating her way through sand more than playing with it. She ran across the sands, collecting shells, screaming with delight at wriggling snails. Crabs scared her. Starfish made her curious. Corals were her collectibles. I still had some kept in one of my boxes. I scooped up the kid in my arms. “Are you stronger than your mother?” I asked him. But he was fiddling with a coral in his hand. He curiously stared at it and gurgled “Ma”, the best way he could, showing the coral to me and his mother turn by turn. “Oh well, let him out on the sand. He’ll be fine!” said my daughter, possibly reminiscing her own coral days! “But we’ll bathe him once after,” she said, as soon as I put the kid on the beach where I had raised my family and my husband’s mother had raised hers and so on. We were the sea and sand people. You couldn’t take the salts of the seas out of our blood.


He needed to talk to someone. His brain was a flurry of thoughts. Everything was going wrong. He was screwing up whatever was left in his life after having lost all that he once had. He got out of his car. He closed the door lightly. His girlfriend’s banging of the car door still reverberated in his ears. Walking along the beach, he saw a girl sitting alone. Hoping it would not be a mistake, he went up to her and asked politely, “Do you mind if I sit here?” She looked up at him. Her tear streaked cheeks glistened in the soft lights. “It’s a free country,” she said, resignedly. He sat down beside her. He cupped up the sand and watched it flow out of his hands, tears rolling down his cheeks. “I don’t want us to be running out of time,” he said out loud to his girlfriend. “And if you go away, this is all I’ll ever be,” showing her his now empty hands. “You cannot love me so much. You should not,” she said, putting her hand in his. “The sands of time will take care of us. Just let them,” he pleaded. She sighed, didn’t say anything, but let her hand stay right where it belonged.


Graciously Yours!

Picture Courtesy : Devesh Lunia.

The Hope?

He sent his father away for breakfast. It was ticking 10 AM. She would be coming over  any time to the shop now. And there she was, clad in a sari, hiding all possible parts with the six yards of cloth. She had a beautiful body, one she should have been flaunting had it not been marred with red, blue, purple and brown. Her eyes showed what the clothes hid.

His eyes lit up and smile broadened whenever he saw her. And when she looked at him and smiled, his wings fluttered to fly! She handed him a list of groceries required. Their hands touched. Neither pulled away. They both knew they wanted it. It was her console and his concern.

 “How are you today?” he asked, while slowly picking out items from the shelves. There was no hurry. There never was.

“Same as yesterday. Same as every day. Existing.”

She was morose today. Anyone in her shoes would be.

“You’ll start living soon.”

“Will I now?”

“Yes,” he said with a conviction she admired in him. He was the reason she had more purple than red.

“He touches you again and it’ll be all over, okay?” he asked her, handing her the packet.

He took the money she gave him and put it aside in a drawer his father knew nothing about.

“I’ll give him a week at the most. He’s a rotten fellow.”

“A week it is then,” he said, looking at her. Her sad smile spiked a pain in his chest. He knew she wasn’t an infatuation. And he let her know. Every damn day.

“I love you,” he said, his parting words.

“I do, too,” she said softly, her day already feeling better and brighter.

He watched her walk away. She was married. She was elder to him. Theirs was a match the society would frown upon.

But he had taken to her like salt to sea. He was her only hope and she his beacon of light. Together they would alight the horizon.

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Graciously Yours!

The Ideal?

Her eyes teared up as she wrote another long, lying letter to her mother. A letter which would give away nothing of what was happening to her, which killed her bit by bit from guilt every time she thought of her mother.

Her mother had always been her best friend. She still was. But this time she couldn’t share her happiness with her mother. Or her pain. She looked at herself in the mirror across the bed. She saw her blurred self lying on the bed, papers piled up neatly on a hard bound dictionary. She covered her bosom with her saree. The red marks around her neck didn’t need a mirror as a reminder.

She was in love. With a man not her husband. She was in pain. With a man her husband.

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To be contd…

Graciously Yours!

Picture Courtesy : Pinterest.

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.

Black and White.

Some say the world is black and white.
Some say the world is grey.

Which is the truth? Which a perspective?

Or is truth itself just a perspective?

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To him the world was white and black,
The greys he’d announced as sins,
To empathise with others he’d given up,
Sympathies he wanted abound.

He stared from a distance the lives others lived,
He announced harsh judgements about them,
Little wondering that while he pointed fingers at them,
It said a lot about him.

Always assuming he was on the right,
Pious he thought himself to be,
Faced with the woman who stole for a hungry child,
He failed to pronounce her to be a thief.

Memories of his hard childhood rushed back,
He recalled his mother in the woman,
Ashamed of how cold he himself had become,
He brought the duo back home with him.

The next morning, he found the child asleep,
The woman no longer to be seen,
His world of whites and blacks ripped apart,
The greys in fifty shades stared through at him.

Graciously Yours!

The Rebel’s Wife (2)

For all those who’ve been wanting more, specially the female who asked me at least thrice in the past week ~ here’s the rest of “The Rebel’s Wife“:

“Your father didn’t die in a road accident. Your father was killed on the road. The road was our home. We lost our house. We lost our land. We even lost our identity. The Government took away all that was ours. Or all that we thought we’d owned. And it didn’t even care. All it cared about was money. And we didn’t have any – for us or for them.”

She wiped her tears away. Years had passed and she’d seen worse days but she still went weak in her knees when she thought about those times. She looked into the eyes of her fifteen year old sons and continued.

“Your father, along with others, protested. They were agitating powerlessly against people so ruthless, so cruel and so unforgiving that I wondered if they were created by the same God. We were the wronged; but they looked down upon us. For days on end, we would be without proper food or water. A blanket was a luxury. Smiles seemed to have evaporated overnight. There would be children crying everywhere. Day or night, you could hear the shrieks of babies and the groans of the ill and old. The men were mostly away. Some came back to take their families elsewhere. By the end of the ordeal we were mostly women and children. No one cared if we lived or died. This went on for over a year. We were all scared. Some of us were paranoid. We thought our troubles would never end. But they did.”

“One form of trouble ended. The roads were no longer our homes. They were the burial ground for our men. And the homes they brought us to were the burial grounds for us women. They called my husband a rebel. A rebel he was. He rebelled for a home, for water, for food, for security, for identity, for a life. He rebelled for his family. And he rebelled for all the people he treated as family. He didn’t desert them and run. But he deserted us and died.”

She loved him. But she also hated him. And she let her kids know that today.

She got up to pack the twins’ bags. She was sending them off to the Army. Her country might treat her like the rebel’s wife, but she knew what her late husband wanted. Unlike him she didn’t see his vision of fighting for the masses against the classes but she never questioned him. She accepted that her fate was tied to her husband’s decisions.

Graciously Yours!

Wheeling towards life.

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“You see that man down there who’s cycling?” said the Creator to the little baby beside Him.

The soon-to-be-born gurgled, “Yes” in baby lingo.

Soon, even his mother would understand it as well as God did.

“That cyclist doesn’t have ambitions. He hasn’t made plans on how he wants to spend his next five years. He saves much less than he spends. He helps his neighbor, an old lady, with rations every month. He gives kids, he doesn’t know, candies to eat. The world will tell you it is wrong to be him. They will tell you to think about yourself. They will mock you if you don’t plan. They will chide you for being ambition-less.”

The baby looked up at the peaceful soul beside him. He looked puzzled. Saliva dripped from the corners of his parted lips.

Chuckling, God took the baby in His lap, wiped the drool and continued, “I want you to be like him. I want you to live one day at a time, one moment at a time. I want you to dream but I don’t want you to become so blind with ambition that you forget why exactly you were living. I want you to respect the beauty of my creations and find your strengths, hopes and solace in them. I want you to always believe in yourself and in humanity. I want you to appreciate life much more than fear death.”

“Will it be easy?” the baby asked, looking down at so many unlike the cyclist.

“No, it won’t. And when it isn’t, remember that God did not bring you this far to abandon you.”

And saying so, He let go of the baby, whose head was now visible to the doctor as the mother screamed in pain.

Graciously Yours!

P.S.: What according to you is life?

Picture Credits: Ishita Shah.