Tag Archives: short story

Varanasi

“There was this man who I remember seeing couple of years ago, a peculiar individual in his own right. He was draped in a saffron dhoti with number of beads around his neck which in turn was shielded with his really longish grey beard. His hair was unkempt so was his walk, absent minded it felt. But his eyes had an altogether new story on offer.  Despite the wrinkles sagging over his cheeks, his sunken eyes had remained full of life as if they had never aged. There was a sense of excitement in his voice as he narrated the tales from mythology related to the Dashashwamedh Ghat on the banks of River Ganga, the place where we had been for the past two hours. Our itinerary had a long list of places to cover, but we seemed to remain here transfixed.

The early morning sunrise, the moderating winter breeze and his nonchalant manner of storytelling became the perfect foil for the day. It was Tara’s idea to start our trip from Varanasi which I was hell opposed to, atleast initially. I had my reasons; it isn’t a normal occurrence for a couple to reunite after thirteen years of divorce and to start that journey together from a place of pilgrimage was something which I had my inhibitions about. After all no one wants to be reminded of their receding hairline and greyish hair, atleast I didn’t. Tara on the other hand had remained elegant and beautiful; her greying hair seemed to have complimented her much more. I am not denying that I may have been biased in my description about her, why wouldn’t I be? But she did, indeed, look graceful as always.

We were seated along the banks, facing the river, while the old man stood to our left as he narrated the story from Mahabharata. He continued in a deep tone, “King Shantanu…” while we sat hand in hand with a smile on our face. I realized only then how much I missed her. More than the place it was her all along who made all the difference, who made the world a little more bearable for me to survive. She placed her head over my shoulder as we kept hearing the old man’s endless stories with a child-like curiosity in our eyes.

A year later, the saffron cladded man was present with us again, this time hearing our Ramayana with a graceful smile while wishing us a successful marriage, which I really hoped to be this time around. He, although, remained a peculiar man with those youthful eyes and a frailing body but we, however, remember him often when we narrate our story of getting back together where he remains a graceful influence who rekindled our common love for stories, all over again.”

#Tara&Ryan
Picture Courtesy: Getty Images

Advertisements

Sea

“Sea. I had heard a lot of stories, a few from my parents and a few by my friends but I as such never witnessed the spectacle, the grace of the deep blue sea. However, events of the past few nights had left us with no option but the sea. It took us over six hours maneuvering through the forests to reach the coast. We had been extra careful to avoid the trigger happy guards, after all it was my dad who was leading the escape. There were over fifty of us moving together, some were carrying steel boxes on their head while a few brought along their cattle, but the most astonishing was the woman cladded in red. Her clothes were tattered at the edges while her skin bore many visible bruises, however she as such carried nothing with her but I somehow felt that she carried more baggage than anyone else in the entire group. She bore a dead pan expression, and spoke to none apart from my mother. I often wondered what they spoke but never dared to ask Ammi.

The night was shining with its full flare and the hushing sound of the waves began to rise as we reached our planned destination, an abandoned stretch of the mighty Bay of Bengal. The sea looked beautiful, way better than the stories. The waves blended with the moonlight as they rose high in the sky before crashing into the rocks on the way side. The excitement caught be by surprise as I began to pace ahead of the rest, rushing towards the coastline, finally feeling the sea breeze for the very first time. I called out my mom, describing her the beauty that I was becoming a part of but all I could see was desperation in her eyes. The boat that was to ferry us hadn’t arrived, the food that we carried wasn’t left anymore, and the beloved roof that we built and lived for centuries wasn’t ours anymore. All that was left was the sea. I hoped in silence that unlike the land they won’t divide us from the sea, I just hoped they wouldn’t.”

#refugee

The Missing Son

The ball crashed into Mrs. Jadhav’s house, shattering the window glass into pieces. It was stuck with immense power by Sunil, a thirteen year old kid from the neighbouring colony. He was touted to be the next cricketing sensation from the neighbourhood which had seen over ten representations in the Indian cricket team in past five decades. His father, Raghav, a former Mumbai Ranji team member, was a close friend of Daksh, Mrs. Jadhav’s only son. Sunil rang the bell twice before Sunitha answered. She placed the ball in his hand with a gentle smile on her face. “Next time, hit it towards Mrs. Dsouza’s house. She was laughing when you broke mine. It’s time for payback!”

“Dadi, I am sorry.” Sunil replied.

“It’s okay, kiddo. Smash as many glasses as you want but do get yourself selected for the Indian team.”

He nodded, as he handed over an envelope which was lying on the floor of her main door and rushed back towards his friends. Mrs. Jadhav placed the envelope on her study table as she continued to broom away the broken pieces. It took over 15 minutes for her to finally get her hands over the envelope. Her frailing health wasn’t helping either but it was of no match when compared to the grievous pain she had felt since Daksh ran away from home.

He was only thirteen then, he had an argument previous night where his parents wanted him to concentrate on studies than cricket. But like most of the kids from the neighbourhood, even he dreamed to wear the blue jersey. The banter wasn’t new; it had been going on for over a year then, his falling grades and poor performances in local cricket tournaments weren’t supporting his case either. That night, the argument got more louder and finally ended when Mr. Jadhav slapped Daksh and asked him to do exactly what he says. The next morning, when Sunitha entered her son’s room, she found only a letter to settle for. The cricket kit bag, a few crisp notes from Mr. Jadhav’s purse and, most importantly, her son Daksh were missing. All that was left was that letter; a letter which asked his parents not to look for him with a promise that he will return only when he makes it into the Indian Cricket Team. It’s been over twenty five years now, Daksh never came back.

She collected her reading glasses, and opened the peculiar looking blue envelope. And what happened next, was something which Sunitha had expected time and again to happen but remained unrealised until today. It was a letter from him, he was coming home finally.

Part1 Ends.
Picture Courtesy: Tom Shaw/Getty Images.

The Movie Effect

“There always is a girl, there will always be one. School was where I found her, but the only problem which remained was that I kept finding her over and over again. If you didn’t follow what I said then try to hear the story that follows a little more closely, because even I didn’t get it the very first time.

Crushes, I know we do have quite a number of them. They come, they make you feel good, then they disappear as we find another. It all began with the movies for me, and it never ended like one though. I was a perpetual newcomer in school due to my father’s frequent postings, and unlike others I liked it that way. Short and sweet was something that I had always come to terms with but the moment she arrived, a new longing broke into life for me. It was different than before, yet similar like the others. Every school I had gone, I found someone connected to, someone who I believed may be right for me. I know that’s a big word for a school going kid but I would blame the movies like I had mentioned before. Anyways, she wasn’t like the others, she was special, obviously she has to be, right.

I saw her waiting under the shade, I believe her van was late to pick them up. She kept peeping into the street corner to find a trace of her van but all she found was me passing a smile at her. It was strange to be honest when I think about it now but that’s what I did then. It went on like that for days before I finally spoke but she turned the other way and walked away. I tried again but the same response. I tried yet again but the response remained unwavered, even on the last day of school. I didn’t know what to make out of this, and that’s when the movie industry went into a transformation.

That’s the time I came to know what stalking really was, that’s when I realised what might have turned her off. I finally understood that sometimes it was okay to let it go than to pester around just to prove a point. I evolved but never moved. Three years later at a school get together I found her again. Like always I smiled but this time I walked away after that. It took us another three years, and a few reunions to finally get speaking. But when we did, unlike always, was special. It wasn’t the cliches I had grown up with but it was just a casual yet fascinating talk about movies between two. We joked around about the movies of the past, we played those lines and deliberated on them equally before we finally bid each other goodbye. She was standing their waiting but I didn’t have the courage to ask her number, I didn’t wanted to become a creep again, I really didn’t want to. She finally left with a smile on her face, and I stood there completely lost. I tried to satiate myself that I would meet her soon and may be get her number then. But that never happened, at least for the next four years.

Coincidences like our movies aren’t that common in our lives, it isn’t the small world they portray it to be. We were already seeing other people at that time when we met at a common friends wedding. We laughed about how we should have been in touch and made it a point to remain so in the near future. The texts kept coming in and going out, we developed a mutual trust, a sense of camaraderie between each other. In short span of time we gave away our deepest and darkest secrets. But we weren’t in the right state then, we had commitments to be kept and one fine day, she called up and we decided to lay off for a while to figure out what we really want. That’s the most hardest part to be honest; it’s the time when you know she is the one for you but you can’t do a damn about it. It wasn’t that I didn’t love my girlfriend that much but this was kind of different. We decided to honour our relationships to keep our conscience intact but they eventually got battered down in midst of artificiality that I think we tried to impose. It took time to get over the guilt of letting down the ones who loved us for our own selfish sense but when we did, we met again and we never turned back after that.”

 

The Separation

“I sat down, recollecting and refurbishing the details of our last encounter. The time froze as the thoughts poured in to the floating phrases that I had been left to deal with. I closed my eyes, and finally allowed them the space to regroup into a complete whole for me to understand. The play was disturbing; the first thought that sparked reminded me of the void she had left, years ago. It’s really strange that the first possible thought we get when we meet someone, who used to be close, is the one of departure, the one that actually hurts.

It was raining heavily that day; cyclone warning had been issued and the landfall was expected in the next 6 hours. I still remember the frantic calls she had made to my office and how easily I had brushed them aside. She kept telling me to come home soon but I had an important client to satisfy. The deal would have been a big boost to my company, it would have sent us to the next level and I was too ambitious to avoid that. The last call that I received from her was on 8:05 P.M. There were 12 missed calls from her in total. When I finally gave her a call an hour later, the lines were left jammed. I kept trying her phone but all I could hear was how unreachable she was. I didn’t leave hope, as I frantically called her number every other minute, but signal was nowhere to be found.

I left the office in a hurry, managed my way through the overflowing flood to finally reach home. The lights were cut off, the house door was left open. The water had seeped in and all the items were floating in the verandah. I sensed my daughter’s teddy bear near my leg, while her favourite red dress was flowing away in to the main road. I couldn’t control my anxiety any more; the endless thoughts were running amok in my head. All of them related to their safety but I couldn’t find a trace of that in the house. I enquired with the neighbours but nobody was able to answer. I leaned towards the wall and seated myself with the tears that began to flow; it even beat the rain that stopped half a day later.

Next day, I reached my friend’s place after I received a text from her about Tara and Arya.

“Is she safe? How is Arya? Where are they?”

“They are upstairs.” She replied.

As I made my way towards the stairs, my friend stopped me with words that shook my world and left me shattered in a second.

“She wants divorce Ryan. She can’t handle you anymore.”

I didn’t want to believe those words, my Tara can never do that to me. I know my selfish self was talking again, but some characters in us are really difficult to be plucked.

I went ahead with the stairs and knocked her door only to hear the same words from Tara. The only difference was that this one broke my heart to pieces which I was sure would be never fixed again. I could hear my daughter sob from a distance but I wasn’t allowed inside the room. The door remained shut despite my endless protests. I didn’t realise then that the door would be bolted for me forever.

We signed the divorce papers the next Wednesday, and the last sight I remember of my daughter was in the court where her mother took the custody from me forever.

Today after ten long years, I saw Tara again.”

#EpisodesOfLove
#Tara&Ryan

Two Tablespoons Salt

She picked up salt instead of sugar and added two tablespoons of it. I sat down to have my cup of tea, and I wasn’t amused. I rallied myself to the bathroom only to return red faced with a simple question in my mind.
“What did I do now?”

She chose not to answer. I tried hard to think what I had forgotten, what special could this day be. I very well knew Tara’s way of expressing her displeasure, it had almost become a routine, at least once every month. But today’s tea was the most salty that I have been yet served, that made me only more perplexed to find the reason.

“Tell me, what did I do wrong?” I sat down, dumbfounded, looking at her.

She slowly passed a note and made her way towards the balcony.

“Do you remember the day you proposed?” The note screamed out the memories of our past. It was a pleasant day, a decade ago, and it was our first date. We had been together for over an year before that, but the time zones were just too different for us to go out even once together. The night went on well; we were too into each other that we never realised when the time passed away, and how I got on my knee and proposed to her on our very first date. She said yes, if anyone is till wondering. And the rest as everyone says is history lies the fact that we had been married for almost a decade now and still can’t get enough of each other.

But today I had forgotten that beautiful night, so I had to do what I do the best. I went into the kitchen, and made ourselves hot steaming coffee and came out with her cup held out. I handed her the cup and sat next to her with my arm around her shoulder, whispering silently along the breeze, “I love you, my lady. I always will.” She sipped into her coffee with a gentle smile, and then slowly moved over my chest to reach a place close to my lips to finally reply, “I love your coffee, and I love you too.”

#EpisodesOfLove
#Tara&Ryan

War & Peace

Work of Fiction

“Did you see the rainbow in the morning?” enquired Tara with her curious eyes still stuck to the sky.

“I was too immersed in the drizzle that I failed to notice it” Neera replies back as she continues tapping her hands playfully over the pool of water that had formed in the verandah.

“There was a faint lightning that I could see around the rainbow, it was like the story Kishore ji was trying to tell, the story of Lord Indra. Do you remember?” hinted back Tara.

“I do. The story where Masterji had said that when there is a war in heaven, Lord Indra uses his thunderbolt weapon to destroy the evil forces and thus causing lightning in the sky” Neera still wondering as she says; why rain, which comes after lightning, is so beautiful and serene; how could war provide something as beautiful as the rain?

“Do you believe in this story Neera?” It was as if Tara knew exactly what her little sister was thinking.

“I really don’t know. War never produces beautiful things, it only takes our close people away. It can never produce something as beautiful as rain, it surely can’t” Neera answers as she moves closer to her elder sister, though only by a year.

“Neither do I believe in it” Tara replies with her vision moving towards the sky again as she holds her sister close. Her eyes carry a bit of gloom as if she is praying for someone’s safe return, who she knows clearly will never return.

In the meantime, a woman cladded in a white saree with her hair tied closely behind her back with a faint fickle of greyness in her hair walks up to the verandah of her home where the two little girls are sitting and gazing the innocent sky above.

“Neera, Tara, It’s going to rain, and you don’t want to get yourself sick again. So rush down, there are hot jalebis which your grandfather has brought. Go eat them before they become cold” the lady, their mother said in full authority yet with love.

As the little girls in their pre-teens run down, the lady stands there for a while. Trying to savour an old memory which she had shared with her deceased husband in the past. It brings up a smile on her face but a sense of anguish runs parallel with that beautiful smile of hers as she walks her way back down.

We find a hustle in the house, complimented with cheers by the little girls as they play with their grandpa while relishing their jalebis with a wide smile. The one storey house was slowly returning back to become their home again; it was over an year since Major Rajdeep had been killed in an enemy crossfire at the border, leaving behind his two daughters, wife and an ailing father.

Key:

1. Masterji- Teacher.