Left loose, wrinkled leaves fell. Autumn.
Left loose, wrinkled leaves fell. Autumn.
I had dozens of marigold flowers in my hand, a garland of it actually. What lovers did to a rose, I did to the pretty orange flower. “He loves me, he loves me not,” I uttered, plucking out the petals one by one at first and then bunches of it together until all that was left in my hand was the green stub filled with white broken fragments of the petal base. I ended at “He loves me.” I thought of picking another flower. Instead, I closed my eyes.
When he was in pain, I felt the pangs. He ran against the odds, but I felt breathless. I would be worried about him, but his first words would be “How are you?”. No one said it would be easy, but being by his side made it all so. “Was this love?” I asked of the marigolds. They wouldn’t say.
Karma, they say, bites back. Sometimes in the cold.
When you’re sweater-less!
Taking you back to a couple of months ago. A friend returned from Kashmir, the ‘Paradise on Earth’, having toured among the snow capped mountains and under the blazing sun, in the cold, dry and biting winds and by the sparkling lakes. He came back to Bangalore rejuvenated and a pair of jeans short. Which he somehow, quite conveniently didn’t realize until a week later.
Of course once I knew about it, I didn’t let him stay in peace. Poor guy, he couldn’t even mourn peacefully his expensive, recently purchased at a massive discount (but still expensive) pair of jeans.
But before you start snorting away in laughter like I did, at his plight, wait and think. Read the title of the post again and if that doesn’t tell you what the rest of this post is about, well the rest of the post will tell you what it is about!
Coming to the matter of karma. Technically, this post would have been about the wedding I attended last weekend in Agra. But as fate would have it, or rather, as karma would, it’s about a sweater. And yes, you guessed it right, if you did guess, that is. A lost sweater.
I lost my inexpensive, low on market value but extremely high on intrinsic value sweater, the one I used to wear and twin with my little sister. This was the sweater which kept me snug and warm on my first trip almost two years ago with practically 15 strangers! This was the sweater which first came to my mind each time I thought of wearing one. And it was in my favourite colour. Damn. And I forgot it in the hotel room’s cupboard. My lone piece of clothing lying in the dark depths of the cupboard.
Though it didn’t take me as long as him to figure out what had happened, the housekeeping staff says it was already too late. I’ve now lost it. Forever, maybe. Unless my sister agrees to donate hers to me. (Could you all please be kind and request her on my behalf too?)
So, I guess my friend has the last laugh, even in his sorrow.
And signing off, a tad sad, though actually laughing at the post I’ve come up with,
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.
The box. The door. The crumbling brick. They all begged me to enter. It was the only shelter I could find from the thunders outside! I’d lost my way back. Now it didn’t seem such a good idea to stomp out of the resort in anger. In my blind anger, I’d forgotten the road and the turns I’d taken, the spot where I’d decided to enter the woods. I recalled a milestone sign, but I couldn’t recollect the number written on it as I’d seen it through my blurry vision then, clouded by tears. I was never this careless. My mobile phone showed no network. This was a decision I’d have to make. I couldn’t Whatsapp a friend and ask them about whether I should enter the house or try another turn in the woods. The trees were swishing loudly, the darkness that had set in not helping my heart calm down! I was shivering, gooseflesh lining my arms. Was it the cold? Or was it fear?
My ears were on alert but I didn’t want to pick up any more noises than I already was. I didn’t know what a slithering snake or the roar of a jaguar sounded like, or the bite of a wolf felt. Lightning struck once again. The trees around me lit up. The house was just a dozen feet away. Closing my eyes, taking a deep breath, I decided to go there than lose myself further into the woods. I took each step carefully, hands crossed across my chest, lest my heart thumped out of my body, phone inside the pocket and head lowered. But one step on the porch and I knew I’d made a mistake!
A week off from work means going home and then away from home again. Home always is special but the day, when thanks to tech advancement, you are in both cities on the same day, when you leave home in the morning and are away by evening in another city, is the day the stark contrast between both hits you hard.
Back at home, I stayed 100 metres away from the kitchen and Mother was more than happy to feed me! Our domestic help whipped up my favourites, bringing food to the table for me every couple of hours. Her sole motto was to not let me feel even the slightest pang of hunger. Even on insistence to cook, Mother refused to let me enter the kitchen. Away though was a different scene altogether! Within two hours of stepping into our rented flat, I was cleaning the refrigerator with soap water and then stocking freshly bought vegetables in them. Our cook wasn’t turning up for the night and my flatmate, S and I were too tired to bother about even cooking Maggi!
Back home, well fed and humidity affected, we were ready to sleep by 9:30 PM itself, though I never did, because when else do you get to have late night chats snuggled beside the younger sister? On two occasions though, she’d slept off while I was recounting my stories! Wake up time was 7 AM, thanks to the Sun, Father, and my favourite radio jockey, RJ Praveen’s morning show. Away though, by 9:30 PM, dinner isn’t even ready, let alone thinking of sleep! Oh, but wake up time still is at 7 AM because someone’s gotta let the cook into the house.
Back at home, Dad knows I love fruits. So fruits are myriad and spread across the table to be eaten at different times of the day – sometimes even freshly cut. Fruits, here, however mean apples and bananas, which are few and far between, that too if we buy them on a one-off day. Oh and avocado on some days!
And considering I went home for Diwali, the spring cleaning time for the whole of India, there was a lot of cleaning, fixing and repairing to do, obviously! My mother made me a handyman, or a handywoman to be politically correct, where I sandpapered, primered and painted to complete pending repair on walls. Whereas here, even dusting once in a fortnight seems so tedious that we learn to live with the dust!
Back home, there’s family and friends too. Here, away from home, there’re friends who became family. Home or away – there’s none which is better or worse.
Idea Courtesy : Ishita.
The red curtains were being pulled back. Dressed in a black floor sweeping gown, with sequinned black trimmings lining it, her wrinkled skin touched up by a pair of deft young hands on her troupe, she walked on to the stage. The soft light on the stage made her eyes twinkle. She could see a lot of heads in the audience but couldn’t make out their faces. Rushed silence welcomed her as her stilettos clicked on the wooden floor, until she reached the carpeted spot around the mike. This was her last opera. She’d chosen to retire Prima Donna before she was replaced by someone younger, more beautiful and maybe, just maybe, a better singer than her. The deft hands that had touched her up – she was retiring to her.
As he watched her walk away, he muttered abuses under his breath. As she walked farther, his voice became louder, hurling out the abuses loud now. It made him angry and unlike her, anger did not make him cry. Anger took him away from the pain, it made him feel in charge. He was no longer the helpless one. She may have broken up with him, but he was the one who would decide what he felt. And he chose to be angry. She looked back at him; the passersby were staring at her. She felt uncomfortable. Where there was pain in her eyes a few minutes ago, now there was shame and fear. Her confident gait was now hurried and skeptical. He broke her heart, twice now.
Coming up is a survival guide if you are being forced to sit through a horror film on the 70 mm film on cinema screens. For those of you bold and brave people out there who stepped into the halls knowing your dreams might not be as pleasant in the nights to come, I have put together a list of life hacks to, well, make life simpler. Isn’t that what life hacks do? Also, I have specifically picked up cinema halls because at home, you have a way out that is not 100 metres away shining in bright red reading ‘EXIT’, devilishly grinning at you while you sit crouched in fear as people scream and shout for their lives on the screen. Not that I was sitting crouched in fear. Anyway, let’s get to the point.
And the point is, or the points are:
Have you ever noted what the ceiling of a cinema hall looks like? When we go to museums, temples, mosques, churches, palaces or even when in the open, we look ceiling-wards or skyward to opine about the place. But why not a movie theatre? Well, for starters, obviously because you don’t go to admire the interiors of the theatre but the quality of their audio and visual. I get it. But you should try looking up too, you know? I did and I ended up counting 13 rows and 24 columns of tiles. At least. While the film was playing. It was difficult counting with the play of light on the ceiling. So rest assured, I spent a good amount of time not looking at the screen, while Annabelle Creations was being played.
Always, and I am telling you this very seriously, always go with someone who’s worse than you at watching horror films, who screams at the drop of a hat or well, knife here, who jumps at every turn the protagonist takes, who bites their nails or digs them into the neighbour’s arm! That way the limelight is on them and their rather audible gasps and you leave unscathed from being the butt of jokes in your friend circle!
Keep your eyes closed if you want, but your ears open. There will always be one of those know-it-alls in the audience who will try to predict out loud what happens next and sometimes they’re correct too, being experts having watched way too many horror films over the years. That way you’re prepared for what all might happen next and your heart doesn’t jump into your throat at times odd and even.
What’s your coping mechanism when fear settles in? Fight or flight? Well, reality check. Here, both won’t work. You can neither fight or flight. So what could work? Laughter! I picked up random scenes and separated them from the context – voila, the comments were such that my friend was in splits while the rest of the hall was intensely silent. One such chain of thought : Talking to myself, Tune out the audio, girl. That is what is scaring you. Tune out… Tune out… Auto tune… Shirley Sethia. And friend is in spilts. Google ‘auto tune and Shirley Sethia’. You’ll know what I mean.
And if nothing else works, then whip out your phone, dim screen brightness, make sure it is on silent and start browsing through the multiple apps which have reduced our attention span, narrowed our world view while expanding our reach worldwide, update your interests on FaceBook, add a few snapchats in the dark, use some Instagram filters. Or like me, SMS (yes, it still exists) another friend sitting three seats away who was complaining about the film being boring! Boring would be the last thing I would call the film. I wonder what he’s made of.
These are my life hacks. What are yours?
P.S. : Want more life hacks? Tell me the topic in your mind and I’ll work on it for you. 😉
His hand beneath her head, he sat beside her carefully, trying not to jerk her awake. The street was cold, almost wet. He took off his jacket and placed it on the ground. He awkwardly shuffled on to it. He checked his watch. Another 20 minutes to full light. What am I doing here, he wondered. Did I have to waste my night on her? I could have picked a girl today. Business is running slow these days. The drinks never hit him because he never drank. The bar tender knew he never drank on duty and every night was duty night for him. It was in the day that he drank, sometimes after delivering the package, at times after he was done with them himself first.
His boss asked him once, “What’s your type?” “Why limit yourself?” he’d responded. His boss had guffawed and he’d responded with the perfect smile, he’d spend thousands on. He had chosen not to wear braces when young. He’d always been headstrong, a rebel. But that rebellion had cost him thousands, years later. It had the perks too. Women fell for his smile.
He sat looking at her. He parted her hair which was now all over her face. She’d changed a lot over the years, wrinkles hidden with a well skilled hand, lips plumper than he recalled. But he could well be mistaken. He’d, after all, seen so many lips after hers, tasted them, bitten across. He turned her a little more on her stomach. There should be a tattoo here, he thought, pulling her tank top up. Botched up art, it still is there, he thought, running his fingers over the small of her back, a feeble smile playing across his lips. She shuddered involuntarily. There were goose bumps over her arm. She must be cold!
He stood up, looking down at Jane. Dawn had given way to the light. Such a pitiful drunk ball of meat unaware of the fate she’s been saved from. She should thank me well. Shaking himself out of his stupor, he rushed out of the alley. He walked up the street and saw some cabs lined up.
One of them agreed to go. He handed a card to him. Taking Jane up in his arms, he put her in the back seat of the cab, smoothing out her skirt as much as he could to decency. “I’ll call at the hotel in an hour. She better be there by then,” he warned the cabbie. He nodded and drove away.
He started going back into the club, tired, famished and more so, thirsty after the long night. He needed a strong drink. This wasn’t the first time someone had recognized him while he was at work and it wouldn’t be the last.
“Not your type? Some problem with her?” the guard asked Rick, having seen him act out this charade a lot of times but never ending with tucking the girl safely away in a cab.
“Yes,” he nodded. “I knew her.”