She looks at herself in the mirror. And she is surprised to find that she is still tiny not an inch over four feet and eleven-ish inches. She looks at herself and wonders if she is self-obsessed. She looks at herself and wonders if change will engrave itself in pits of her skin. She wonders whether the change will fill the imperfections and allow room for something more pleasant.
It was one of those game periods – where giggly girls sit in groups and gossip. A bright sunny winter morning, ironically didn’t inspire them to pick up rackets in their hands for a bout of badminton or go fetch the orange ball and dribble it on the limestone court. They sat their on the patch of grass growing in the uneven ground of the school campus and chit-chatted. They talked of everything aspirations, travel, food, life ahead and their expectations. Somehow the talk went off tangent, and diverted to the first episode of Satyamev Jayate. The show had gone off air for about more that six months. But then too the girls sat and gave their opinions. She listened as she always did, putting forth ideas as a wise lady of barely seventeen. Ideas and suggestions and opinions – each person had. How it wasn’t suitable that there should be prejudice based on gender.
‘Really, do you think a first-born baby being a girl is welcomed into the family with the same happiness as much as a boy?’ Vedika spoke aloud. She was a pretty girl of eighteen with dusky complexion and sharp features. The previous year, she had been the school captain and before that the class leader. Her word was listened to – always and adhered most of the time. I concede I was not as fond of her as others but she was likeable when I was in the mood. I looked up from tearing the blade of grass into minute pieces and stared at her like others, willing her to continue. ‘I can say without any convictions that my family wasn’t happy when I was born – especially not my papa. He didn’t even hold me in his arms for the first six months because he couldn’t return for the birth of a mere daughter. And my mother affirms that her life would be easier if her first born was a boy.’ Almost everyone had a piteous face for the lovely girl who hadn’t been appreciated. Nishita was one of Vedika’s – for the lack of decent phrase – close friend. She bobbed her head at every command, the leader issued and marched as she was told to. ‘Oh, a few orthodox families do feel that way, Vedu! But not all. Every one has modernised. My family didn’t mind me being born before my bhai,’ she tried to soothe the aggrieved friend. ‘As long as there was you bhai,’ Vedika spoke curtly. ‘And really, it’s true. Sons are more important than daughters. They’ll provide the finance for the upkeep of their parents. They can’t expect me to leave my household and look after them.’ She added to the unpleasantness of the pleasant day. I wanted to speak. I did open my mouth but was shut up by Kay’s nails digging into my palm. She understood, it wasn’t a place for aggression and I would do nothing but add to the upsetting mood.
If twelve years of education in an all girls school still teaches one nothing but that sons are more important for the upkeep or that to be happy about a girl being born is ‘modernisation.’ Where do we go? In front of the mirror. And for what? To put on some more make-up or a facade of pretentiousness or to look at the blemished face, see the pits and dark patches and try to heal them.
She’ll always remain 4-11-ish. She can either always wear high heels and learn to walk and accept or she can pretend she’ll grow up. She will always have a small mirror in her bag. She can correct the make-up at times but she needs to remember, it’s only that – make up not her.
The present situation inspires truthfulness in all its glory and ugliness. The unblemished surfaces need polishing and the dark corner – a hint of sunlight. What it doesn’t need is unwanted unhappiness and a hollow mass of greeting and nodding of heads when there is nothing within those gray cells.
She stood there on the sandy road in the middle of a deserted garage. The sky was fuchsia turning into a hue of violet. She tried to concentrate on the white clouds above. She, however, could not help but stare at the brown grains under her feet. The breeze blowing announced the arrival of rain in the near future. She felt the moistness of her skin. She had her back turned to the only person present there. She knew he was there. She knew she had to tell him. She knew his heart would break. She just hoped that her heart would survive the storm.
I think it’s time we ended this thing.
This thing that we have.
I don’t understand. Explain.
Why do you want to end it?
I don’t know.
She heard him making his way out. She could hear the sand under his feet flying around. Although it was evening, there were no stars in the sky. The clouds were slowly but swiftly covering the colours of the heaven and making everything dark.
In that moment, her heart broke. It broke into small pieces as if it were made of glass. She was battling her inner self – debating with herself if she should laugh out loud or allow the tears at the brim of her eyes full reign. She merely smiled. She deemed it not correct to cry. She was responsible for a heart-break. She was responsible for his state. She knew, however, that she’d never be what he deserved. She understood that she was merely in love with the love he felt for her. She was just in love with herself.
A/N – This one is for R! For all the time we’ve sat and discussed heartbreaks and love and especially to one long night chat! 🙂
She saw the foreign city sprawling ahead of her – enveloped in darkness. The buildings were like silhouettes in a shady lane. She saw the blazing orange headlights in the streets below. She liked it there – on the parapet of the roof, with her legs dangling down towards the lower terrace. She heard nothing but Katy Perry telling her loudly in her ears, “Baby, you’re a firework.” Her eyes were fixed on the Himalayas in the backdrop. The clouds and mist were circling them in the hues of fuchsia and violet. She could feel the gentle breeze brush her hair and sometimes splash a little at her cheeks.
She liked it how she was. She knew someone might be searching for her at the moment. She, however, could care no more. She was content at the moment. She did not seek any company. She needed no books to entertain her. Her I-pod was enough. And she liked the song it was playing and she had no intention of changing it. She liked the weather. She was not in a moment for even a warm garment to secure her from the cold she was going to catch soon. Her brown jacket was lying carelessly beside her. She loved the way she was – a firework. She wanted no more or maybe just to stand on the edge of where she was sitting and dance, shout on the top of her voice. She wanted to tell anyone who was listening, that she indeed could light up the skyline of this city. If only, it were the stray dogs in the neighborhood. She couldn’t care less. Instead, she played safe.
She looked down and saw her red floaters stuck only by her toes. She loosened her hold on the right one. It fell – floated through the air and landed on the lower roof. She let the left one fall too. She sat there bare footed, without any jacket – still listening to the music in her ear.
She felt the drops on her hair – just the slightest flick of her locks. And then, she felt them come down in clusters. She let them be. She let herself be. She let the drops swipe her face, glide down through her cheeks. She allowed herself to enjoy the tingling of those water drops, which were stuck on her nose. She didn’t wipe her face. She let it all be.
Suddenly, she swung her legs and climbed down. The phones still plugged in her ears. She picked up her jacket from the parapet. She ran through the terrace to the other end. She twirled with her imaginary partner and let her jacket enjoy the whirlwind of the wind. It fell on the concrete floor. She did not pick it up. She went about dancing and shouting on the top of her voice, surprising even herself.
“Baby, you’re a firework.”
It was still raining and she was still dancing. She was jumping and laughing. She looked up in the sky to see how the clouds had covered the crescent moon and the few twinkling stars. She shouted to the sky that she was a firework.
She felt a tap on her shoulder. She turned and saw her cousin standing there with a blue polka-dot umbrella. She nodded her face as if to ask ‘what?’ The girl merely said that mom was calling and safely made her way, hurriedly, to the warmth of their home. She, however, took her sweet time. She drooped down and picked up her wet jacket. She threw it carelessly on her shoulder. She jumped, a few times, in the almost flooded floor as she padded her way and climbed the stairs. She slipped but she cared not. She was bare-footed but she liked the cold water tingling her feet. She picked up her floaters and walked to the door. She still listened – humming along.
“Boom Boom Boom, even brighter than the moon, moon moon.”
She swung open the door. She entered the dry foyer. Her white tee shirt was clinging to her soaked skin. The song had ended. She waited for the door to shut behind her. She pulled out the player from her damp Levi. She powered it off.
Whether it is ironic or sheer convention, I have been unable to understand. The universe seems to play a hideous game with its inhabitants. It is neither hide-n-seek nor catch-n-cook yet just the same. It is a simple game where each person born in this zoned out place is handed over a gift called life, which is wrapped in a beautiful glossy paper called circumstances and tied with a bright ribbon of decisions. The insides are consequences. In all the years, when the sand has been gathering and has formed rocks and the stones weathering and going back to grains, there have only been few winners – winners who understand and enervate the imbalance in the balance of nature – the right and the wrong, the happy and the sad.
At one moment, there is a smile on the beautiful faces of lovely people and the next, it turns upside down and a tear drop rolls down the pale cheeks of the same yet ugly individual. To some life seems to be a beautiful canvas of bright and dull hues but to the same it turns into a black and white documentary, which is difficult to tolerate. Where there was anticipation, disappointment makes its way and settles down so quickly yet so slowly that we forget the presence of that another feeling – the oblivion and dizziness of a happy desire.
The universe is a strange place with even stranger people living in it. We grow apart deliberately and then try to mend the wedge. We laugh and then they cry. We smile and we frown. We like things and dislike friends. We keep friends close and enemies closer. We love and we hate. We lose our way midst the crowd and find not our destinies. We do away with micro – seconds of joy for greater hours of ending yet endless sorrows.
So when a lovely and bubbly girl grows into a sober and quiet lady, there is only one explanation – the universe took things into its hands and then all that happened to her was life – “Life happened.”
A/N – This one was written ages ago, meant for a blog I abandoned. But Couldn’t help putting it up here!
She looks on the field, from the road where she stands. It is bare everywhere save a few patches of green and yellow. She cannot see any trees until her gaze turns to the right end of the field. She can feel the lump in her throat rising. As she walks towards those trees she can see small leaves coming in view and some moss on the trunks. The ground is bedecked with beautiful yellow dried leaves. She can feel the softness of those hanging on the branches and the smell of gum as she tears one in her imagination. As she nears she can hear the rustling of the leaves in the whooshing of the wind. And she can suddenly see them together, walking on the leaves. She can hear the crunching of the fall beneath her shoes as if it were paper she was walking on instead of leaves. She likes the sound. She likes the feeling – the emotion. She likes it when they are together – when they were together. With each step they take she can hear a buzzing in her ear and realizes that voices are knocking on her ear drum – waiting to be heard. She hears them talking dirty, she listens to them singing songs in off tunes – the oldest song in the industry or may be the saddest one. She listens and she laughs at how the words seem funny in their voices even though they are supposed to be sad. And then she feels the wetness on her cheek. She doesn’t let it bring her back to present. She sees them saving their scarves from blowing away in the wind. She watches them chase each other to the end of the mini orchard and then turn back to chase each other into the middle of those trees. She understands the silent pact they have – not to run out into the open. She knows they’d like to stay there in the protective shelter of those trees.
Suddenly, she sees them going further into the cluster and she has lost sight of them. She cranes her head in search for them. She doesn’t want to lose herself into those trees – those memories. She opens her mouth to calm herself. All that comes out is nothing. The leaves on the trees are incongruously growing with the haziness in her eyes and the lump in her throat. The leaves which were waiting on the ground to be raked are gone, replaced with green shrubs and moss which she abhors. She is brought back from her memories with a clang of the bell sounding. She turns her back to cluster of trees – not to look back. She walks back to the boulevard – boulevard of reality!
A/N – This is for Y.
I pick up a pen to copy a passage from the screen. I am frantically searching for a paper. Everything is organized and ironically, I cannot find a thing. The drawer does not have my notes copy. There is not even a scrap of paper. I scream in frustration. And suddenly there are hot tears welling up my eyes and streaming down my cheeks. The frustration has given way to emotional breakdown. I am incredulous. I don’t understand how I am going to explain this to even myself. My state very simply presents the erratic weather. One moment, the sun is shining bright and the next moment I can hear the rattling peal of thunder and the dirge of the wind. I am too tired to get up and fetch myself the stationery. I don’t want to just copy-paste the beautiful lines on a lifeless word-document. I have my head in both of my hands. I clumsily move over everything beside the PC in an attempt to show-case my fury; the coffee-mug tumbles and falls on the floor. There are porcelain pieces all over the floor and the icy coffee has already tinted the marble like a red straight from the kiln. I don’t have enough energy or will to clean the mess. At last I see my nephew’s six-line copy lying on the adjoining bed. I pick it up and open the last page. I try jotting down the lines. My handwriting is too small to fit in the crevices. I am irritated again. I want to fit the letters and the words as nicely as my nephew has written his rhymes in the six lines. My handwriting, however, crumbles like my inner turmoil and it seems my state has finally found a way to speak through the pen which does not move properly and I have to steady my hand to stop it from shaking. I look up to the screen to see the words. I cannot really see anything. The tears have blurred my vision. I open my mouth to voice my thoughts to myself. I hear only a choked croak. I pick up the pen again. I cannot write. I throw away the blue dot pen and it hits bed and rolls and falls on the ground. I get up with the note book still in my hand. I walk to the other side of the bed and slam down on the floor where the pen lay. I pick up the pen and wait for the tears to emerge. They don’t. I laugh at myself. It is laughter without the merriness or even the helplessness. It seems to me just like the disgusting sound that a lunatic makes. And suddenly realization dawns upon me. My fingers act on their own accord and I look down to see a scrawl on the parchments in my hand. ‘Lunatic.’