Awkward

via Daily Prompt: Awkward

She had always been mocked, made fun of by everyone. As a child, these had hurt her, she had sought solace in a world of her own… Her tears had not solved her problem, nor had her introversion. Nothing could change her awkward gait, nothing could change her birth defect.

At some point of time, she had got a good friend, a friend who looked at who she was and not her physical deformities… Her friend had taught her to smile, to laugh and to ignore all those jibes…She realised that God had made her with an awkward gait, but God had made them all with an awkward mind and unkind thoughts. She felt pity for them.

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Forest

via Daily Prompt: Forest

They roamed around – the last surviving species. But it was also doomed; its end nearing. Survival of the fittest had been the rule of the day, and when many other smaller beings had perished unable to cope with the increased hostile environment, one species had risen above these, preyed on all other beings and established its superiority.

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“No!”

via Daily Prompt: Rebel

 

“Not that dress! It will make me look like a baby! Who wears pink?”

“But… you bought it”

“No..Amma… not for this party…My friends will make fun of me…”

“Ah!” , Smitha sighed.

“Do these pearls look good on me?”

“Yes… they are lovely”

“No… you are lying Amma…they make me look like a 90-year old. Let me try that choker”

“O No… this looks disgusting” she replied looking into the mirror, though her mother thought that it looked good on her. But she knew it was wiser to remain mum.

“Let me try the simple golden chain with the rose pendant….O but where are its matching earrings?”

Her mother shrugged her shoulders as her daughter rummaged through her wardrobe, looking for the perfect dress and the perfect set of jewellery to go with it. Her mother watched with rising temper as her daughter pulled, tried and threw on the bed, dress after dress.

“What is this???There is nothing worthy of wearing! Amma…” she screamed and turned to her mother.

“Nothing to wear ??? Look at all the dresses lying on the floor… And yet you say nothing to wear?” yelled back her mother.

“I have decided…No party for you today… And you are to fold all these dresses back neatly into the cupboard. Is that clear?”

There was hint of steel in her mother’s voice and so she thought it best not to argue.

Few hours later.

“Sometimes mothers have to rebel too when they have a teenage daughter who rebels at the drop of a hat… They need to be taught not to take their mothers for granted” said Smitha to her husband laughing.

 

 

 

Daily Prompt: Laughter

via Daily Prompt: Laughter

Her laughter resounded throughout the building. When I heard it, a strange fear crept through me. It was not a laughter indicating happiness, rather it was completely devoid of any feelings – there was no triumph, no joy, not even hatred!

Whose laughter was that, I thought? I looked at my Uncle. He always had the knack of reading my mind. and this time too, her read it, rather precisely.

“You should see her. come with me.”

I walked with him to the interiors of the old building. It was badly in need of maintenance, but the authorities hardly cared, nor did the people who lived. The souls that existed there were the ones who had been forsaken by their near and dear ones, forgotten by the society, and they in turn had turned escaped to their own world!

A frail lady wearing a simple white saree stood before me. her hair was well-combed, and she looked well-dressed too, which took me by surprise. I had somehow expected a dishevelled looking lady.

Once again my Uncle turned to me and smiled knowingly.

“She is an interesting case. Looking at her, you would feel she is quite normal. She is indeed, to some extent. But the trauma that she has undergone is beyond words. she saw with her own eyes her two children burning to death, that too on her birthday. they had been making arrangements to give her a surprise party. it was a freak accident, but somehow she blames herself. Strangely, when she saw her kids burning, she laughed aloud…a hollow laughter…like the one you heard now… She has not moved out of that day. She is always well-dressed, as she thinks its still her birthday, and once in a while she laughs, maybe bits and pieces of that incident flash on her mind, or maybe she thinks of children. When she reached this mental institution, she was like a statue, not reacting to anything. but there is a slight improvement now, she takes effort to dress. ”

Human mind , I knew, was a really frail thing. But common man hardly ever bothers about it, he always takes care of his body, but mental peace is equally important. For in a second, our mind can snap and push us into a world of our own, away from this busy and selfish world. As a student of psychiatry, I had come across many such strange cases. But her laughter haunted me for many many days.

Who is she?

I kept checking my watch. I was about to begin a new job. Not a job that I had dreamt of, but a job nevertheless. I should have felt elated and happy at having got a job at the age of 35 with no prior experience. Having lived a life of a housewife, or a “homemaker” as they call themselves today, all these years, I cursed myself for having fallen into this trap called ‘marriage’ and felt depressed at having to work. But money was the current  priority of my family, and I was their ‘genie from the bottle’ who ought to fulfill all their wishes. So here i was going in a bus to the first job of my life!

Many a random thought crossed my mind as I was going, from very normal ones like ‘had  taken the appointment letter’ to very irrational ones like ‘what if the building had just disappeared by the time i reach there’. The overpowering fragrance of a perfume put an end to my increasingly illogical musings. I looked around and noted the lady who had just taken the seat behind me. I automatically noted that she was wearing a beautiful red chiffon saree with big black roses printed on the skirt part, the upper part had been kept plain. She wore a silver chain with a diamond pendant, a matching silver bracelet, and silver earrings all studded with stones. The whole ensemble emanated a silent elegance which somehow jarred with the crowded bus. It was only when she gave a knowing smile, that  I realised that i had been shamelessly staring at her! I gave a weak smile and took a sudden interest in the sultry images of the dry and hot city scenes that passed by me.

I kept scolding myself for having been such a fool, when my stop arrived. I got up and turned to see that she too was getting down. After the bus left, we both crossed the road and as i watched she went into a big building named ‘Olivia Gardens’. It looked like a huge gated community. I continued watching her for another minute or two, when my phone rang.

“Hello

Yes…got down the bus just now…

O… ok… will hurry”

That was my mother-in-law, calling to check if her slave had escaped. Of course, i couldn’t for she used my 10-year old daughter from my first marriage, to keep me enslaved to her son.  As  I looked around, I found the board I was looking for.

“Gyana Bhavan Senior Secondary School” , it said and pointed an arrow towards a narrow lane.

I must have walked for about 15 minutes. Many kids, small and big, passed by me, but none were wearing uniform. Though i guessed that these must be the kids of the school where I was about to join, their not wearing uniform surprised me.

The school was quite big, with 2 large playgrounds, on either side. The presence of such a spacious school right in the heart of a city astonished me.

As per the instructions given to me, I met the Vice Principal, who told the peon to take me to LKG –L section.

He walked through the long corridor and I followed him, looking around and absorbing the sights of shouting kids and teachers all around me.

“There, that is L section” he said pointing to a room at the far end.

I walked with unsure steps, wondering if I will be able to manage a class?

As I entered the class, i saw a bunch of tiny tots looking upto me with eager eyes, some smiling at me, a few howling, some running around and one or two sitting quietly and a lady shouting at them to be quiet. As soon as she saw me, she came and asked, “Are you the new teacher?”

I nodded my head and I could see that she felt very relieved on hearing this.

“Ok.. you can start the class…” she said and left.

I looked around, not knowing how or what or where to start.  As if reading my thoughts the teacher from the adjacent class popped in and said “Maybe you can start with a simple prayer, introduce yourself and get the kids to tell their names. By the way, here is your attendance register. And get started as soon as possible, for in 10 minutes, Principal ma’m will be here on rounds.”

And so began an eventful day, filled with laughter, howls, music and  scoldings from my part. By afternoon my throat was sore, as I realised that these angelic looking kids can be quite trying too. This would continue to be my routine for many more years.

I also noticed on my very first day that, in this school everything in a teacher’s life right from class prayer, to going to toilet, to eating lunch, was punctuated by the “Principal Mam’s “ rounds.

As days passed, I became more adept at handling kids, and the kids too started responding to me. With my life at home becoming more and more difficult, repeated taunts from my mother-in-law and physical abuse from my husband, I was finding solace in these kids. The school became the place I looked forward to go to each day.

The one thing that had not, however changed in my life was my fellow-traveller – the elegant lady I had seen on the bus on my first day, whom I had by now named “Rose”. Though i wanted to get to know her, never did I try talking to her for I felt too shy after the incident on the first day. But I felt we shared a strange bond. Just as one doesn’t take any special notice of the furniture in our house till it goes missing or is misplaced, similarly we had become used to seeing each other every day,

Without even being conscious of it, we looked out for each other every day,  and it had become a habit. When we got down both of us went our way, but we always exchanged a parting look, an iota of smile playing on our lips.

This saga of silent acknowledgement continued for many years. I never mentioned about her to anyone at home, not even to my daughter. I always wanted to know more about her, and where she was going everyday but my day-to-day problems kept me preoccupied never ever giving my curiosity a chance to overpower my mind and actions until that day.

It had been raining incessantly for the last one week. Many parts of the city were flooded. All schools had been given holiday. I was not sure if teachers were required to come or not, but i didn’t go. Our home too had been flooded, and we shifted to a nearby refugee centre, which happened to be a Government school. My mother-in-law and husband were quick to blame me for this predicament saying that I had squandered away all my salary and should have used it raise the height of our house. They even blamed me for the heavy downpour pounding the city!! Having heard such and similar ridicules all my life, I hardly bothered about these comments, rather I hoped that being in a public place  would help me to probably escape the physical torture at their hands, which by now had become a routine activity. But I was worried about Rose. Where would she be, and how would she be? I had this nagging thought at the back of my mind that something definitely was not right.  I knew that she was not well. All my fears proved to be correct when a few weeks after floods her body was discovered in an apartment at “Olivia Gardens”.

I read about it in the papers. Different newspapers carried different versions of who she was and her life. I tried reading as many papers as possible. As I put together the pieces, a very tragic tale unfolded in front of me leaving me dazed.

My “Rose” was known by the name “Nitya” in real life.  The death of her husband marked an end to her peaceful life, and when she stepped into a second marriage, she made perhaps the biggest mistake in her life. Her husband and family forced her to work and earn while they squandered away her earnings and tortured her for more. She was taking classes for a special child who lived in that apartment. Her calm and elegant appearance that had initially drawn my attention had just been a mask that successfully hid her agony. The police found that she had been physically assaulted and tormented, and very old marks suggested that this had been going on for perhaps many years now. The police were still looking for her husband who had absconded. Her in-laws had been arrested.

Perhaps my first day had been hers too; perhaps just like me she may not have worked for many years; perhaps that might have been her first job ; perhaps…as the train of thoughts whizzed forward, i started noticing an odd similarity, very unusual to be termed ‘coincidence’. A strange fear gripped my heart. My happy married life had been smashed to pieces by the death of my husband and the second life that I had chosen, had given me nothing but misery. Each and every printed word seemed to be mocking, challenging and warning me as to what fate awaited me.

Truth can indeed be stranger than fiction! Who was telling the story ? And whose story was it anyway ?
The words fluttered and flew in the wind.

 

ADJUSTMENT

ADJUSTMENT

Rakshitha’s eyes filled as she hailed the auto.

“Jawahar Nagar” said she and got in.

As she sat in the auto, the argument that she had just had with her husband played back in her mind, repeatedly. How  could he be so heartless, she thought. More tears rolled from her eyes, but she was quick to wipe them off.

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NORMAL

“She is perfectly normal.”, said the doctor.

“Really?” asked Priya, her mother.

“Are you sure, doctor? Maybe we need to do a few more tests, you know…” suggested her father, Vishnu.

The doctor, controlling his rising anger looked at the parents and said “You are the first set of parents I’m seeing who deliberately want to prove that their kid is not normal. Please…”

“O sorry doctor” interrupted Priya, “but the all her teachers insist that she is not normal.”

“What?! How can they say that?”, said the doctor, looking at the innocent face of Varnika.

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Vows of Love

As the incessant rains thrashed over the tin roofing, Asha looked at the clock, perhaps for the hundredth time. She then looked outside. It was quite dark, no street lights, as power had been switched off to avoid accidental electrocution.

Except for the occasional loud thunders and thrash of the rain, there was no other sound. Thanks to the inverter installed during last monsoon, there are lights in her house. Most of the other houses were adjusting with candle lights. The deathly silence was broken by the sudden ringing of her mobile phone from somewhere inside. She rushed to grab the phone.

“Hello…”

“Asha, this is Renu…”

“O Renu… Yes.. Tell me…”

“Has Rohit come?”

“No…Not yet…”

“Manoj called up just now… Most of the roads are flooded and traffic is blocked… So everyone is stuck… Don’t worry.. Rohit too must have been caught in the jam… He’ll come, but will be late, Ok…”

“Hmmm…” Asha murmurmed, already in tears.

She couldn’t imagine where he could be or in what state. For the past three hours she had been trying to contact him. His phone was switched off. She had tried calling his office; there they informed her that he had already left.

It took roughly 45 minutes for him to reach office even in heavy traffic. And he always kept his phone in full charge, every time he travelled. She could not make sense of his absence. She had been watching the flash news an hour back, before the power went off, where reports of people being washed away by the rising water level had been aired.

She looked around the house. Everything reminded her of Rohit. The remote over which they fought every night. The cupboard which he always messed up. The windows which he always kept open and she wanted them closed. She remembered every argument and fight they had had in the two years of their married life. In her mind’s kaleidoscope she could see his small faults, and how she had magnified it.

Her heart felt heavy. She wished she had uttered a sorry, at least once, to him. Her train of thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a bike. She ran to the door.

“That must be Rohit”

On opening the door, she saw that it was Divya’s husband.

“Has Rohit arrived?” Manoj called out.

“No…”  Asha said shaking her head. Her voice choked as she said that.

“The roads are all full. There is roadblock on every road, and unending lines of vehicles held up. Don’t worry. Police have been deployed everywhere and they are helping out. Rohit will reach soon.”

Asha nodded, and went inside.

The force of the rain had reduced now, but it constantly reminded her of Rohit.

Nothing sounded right. She was scared. Manoj, despite his office being quite far away, had returned, but Rohit hadn’t. His phone too was switched off. Where could he be? Was he hurt? Has something happened to him? Or was he…She tried to calm herself; to distract herself;  to keep the lamp of hope burning in her mind; but found it impossible. She prayed fervently to every God she believed in. She promised to the Omniscient that she would never ever quarrel with her husband.  She vowed never to hurt him. If only he came home safe and sound….

She began walking from one room to the other. Her mind was in turmoil imagining every possible fatality that could have befallen him. Suspense and nervousness was making her more and more anxious. With panic rising, she quickened her pace. The avalanche of unanswered questions followed her. She tried to outpace the vicious presentiments that were haunting her; totally unaware of her surroundings.

*******************

Daylight was streaming in through the glass window. The curtains had been drawn apart, and the light fell directly on her face, waking her up. As Asha slowly opened her eyes, all she saw was a white mist surrounding her.

“Where am I?”

The mists cleared slightly to reveal an unfamiliar room, and a beautiful lady clad in white sari was telling her, “You are ok. You are home.”

A distant voice boomed out, “Yes… A little more rest and you will be fine.”

“I know… oooh…never thought there will be thorns in heaven” she smiled contentedly and dozed off.

The next time her eyes opened, which was a few hours later, the mist had cleared and she realised she was in a hospital. She looked around and then remembered about Rohit. She wanted to know what had happened to him, but there was no one around to ask.

“You are awake. I will get the doctor…” said the nurse.

“Wait… Where is my husband?”

The nurse had walked off.

Why doesn’t anyone tell me? Is Rohit…? Who brought me here? Why am I here?

Once more Asha was tangled in a whirlwind of questions. But this time, she got her answers almost immediately, for Rohit walked into the room smiling.

Asha felt delighted and relieved on seeing him, as tears of joy streamed down her eyes. Later, after her discharge, he answered all her questions.

He began his narration – I started from office quite early that day. The roads were fast filling with water. But I managed to drive. But due to the roads being flooded, I failed to see a pothole, and fell down. My phone got lost. I continued to drive and then suddenly my bike stopped. It simply refused to start. I abandoned it. I was frightened. I didn’t know what to do. I stood in the middle of the road holding a traffic light post tightly. As I stood there, waiting for someone to help, I saw some people being washed away. I don’t know for how long I waited. Finally a lorry driver picked me up and dropped me at this junction.

Reaching home, to my shock, I found the front door ajar and you lying unconscious in a small pool of blood. For a moment I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t take you to a hospital because all roads were blocked. Then I remembered the nurse who stays in the opposite flat, above Manoj’s. I sought her help and she said that you had hit your head on something hard and had fallen. But more important was the fact that you looked totally exhausted.

Today, early morning, Manoj somehow managed to take us to the near-by clinic in his car. Luckily the duty doctor had not yet left and you were taken care of.

“But, tell me Asha, who hit you?”

“I don’t remember much Rohit… I was scared, tensed that you had not returned. All kinds of frightening thoughts engulfed me and I started walking to clear my mind, to get rid of those feelings. But I instead of calming, I went into some kind of frenzy, I guess. I don’t remember anything after that…”

“I love you, Rohit…I will never ever quarrel with you.”

“I love you too, Asha.”

“ While struggling in the floods, I kept thinking of you…I was not even sure if I will see you again…And then when I saw you lying like that, I can’t tell you how I felt… It was like my whole world had crumbled to pieces… I swore that if I get you back I’ll fill your life with happiness…never be angry at you…or shout you…and love you like there is no tomorrow…I’m truly sorry, Asha, for having shouted at you so many times..”

“I too have been quite rude to you many times.. I’m also sorry…”

They hugged each other, and thanked the Almighty for having given them another chance at life.

A week later

“Rohit, give me the remote… It’s time for my serial…”

“You watch your serials everyday… Today there is an important match… I came home early to watch it…”

“But its climax today…I can’t miss today’s episode..”

“Hey.. How dare you grab the remote? Better give it back…”

“I WILL NOT”

Noise of things being thrown and more raised voices could be heard from the couple who had vowed never to fight. Let us take leave of them, as they continue to profess their true love.

Giving Back Childhood – 3

“Mamma….Mammaaa….”

“Amma….Take me back….”

The room is filled with such and similar cries. No, I am not about narrate a horror story. Its not a torture scene as well. This is happening on the first day in a kindergarten classroom. The tiny tots dressed in their very best are crying for their mamma to come back to them and not to leave them with these strange new faces who are trying their level best to bring down the volume levels. Do I see a faint smile playing on your lips as you visualise this scene?

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