Posted in Life and After

The Maze

Author’s note: This is my second attempt at a “first-line story” to break what we all know as a writer’s block. The first line of the story was suggested by GP. I hope I did it justice. 🙂


She wandered aimlessly through the maze, wondering what the surprise was when she emerged.

Her father was holding her hand, of course, afraid that she too will run ahead of him like her brother did. She was constantly barraging her father with questions he had no answer to—how did he know where to turn and which door to take, and how would they find their way back when they have found her brother.

When, and not if…her faith was absolute—nothing untoward could befall her seventeen-year-old brother. He was her hero—fearless, invicible and undestructible.

The maze seemed to be going on forever as they went door after door looking for him. She was sure he would have reached the prize by now and must be waiting for them with the trophy in his hand; or may be it would be a really big teddy, like the one she saw the other day when her brother had taken her to the market. The thought perked her up and she quickened her pace, pushing the doors open before her father could stop her.

She felt her brother before she saw him. The smell of his favourite deodorant and the familiar sound of his favourite love song album filled the room that, she suddenly realised, was his bedroom. The sense of dread filled her heart and her gut told her to close the door before… But, like every time before that, she couldn’t stop herself.

Her brother’s body hung from the ceiling fan—tongue lolling, eyes popped out…

She was screaming until her husband shook her out of the ‘nightmare’ and held her against his heart as he had done for countless nights in the past eight years and her parents did for many more years before that. She sobbed until she drifted into an uneasy sleep, hoping against hope for a dreamless night.

And to think that her brother died believing that no one loved him…


Photo by MontyLov on Unsplash

Posted in Love

Mirage

Your arms curl around me

I snuggle content, hoping to die before

waking to find you gone.


A Haiku is a Japanese form of poetry with 5, 7, 5 syllable combination. Usually, all lines are independent with a least one reference to nature/seasons.

Posted in Life and After, Love

The Last Straw

Author’s note: This is my first attempt at first line stories. The first line of the story was suggested by Fraggle. Thank you, FR. I hope it loves up to your expectations.

The death of the goldfish is the last straw.

My tail is twitching with agitation. I want to kill Gilly. I’ve been telling her since day one not to overfeed Goldy but she’s been constantly offering him treats for tricks when she thought I wasn’t looking. And now as I return from work, Goldy floating sideways in water, eyes closed, close to the cove roof while Gilly is looking at me sheepishly from the far corner, waiting for the sharp rebuke that is sure to come. The weight of the life lost is coming down on my shoulders making it difficult to stand.

I can’t always keep an eye on her. I’m a single mother with a job to keep. Apart from my regular job at the Shell and Pearls art shop, I work three nights a week at the Oceans One Disco to pay for Gilly’s tution. So, she’s alone after study hours. I adopted Goldy, hoping he’d give her the much needed company. I hadn’t considered if, without adult supervision, my young daughter would be able to keep him alive…

I sit down heavily on the ancient coral reef seat that once belonged to my great-grandmother. How did my mother manage to raise me and her mother before her, since none of our fathers—the stranded sailors—stayed long enough for us to grow up. They’d rather catch the first ship back home. But in those times, mermaids raised their children together in large schools so there was always someone elderly to take care of the young ones while mothers foraged for food and wannabe mothers foraged for sailors. I remember clearly the hours I had spent hanging around in open ocean with friends and elderly mermaids, learning how to sing, dance and read. I had a happy childhood.

But now, as the city of Atlantis grows to the outskirts and unfamiliar faces become a common sight, it isn’t safe to leave behind our children out in the open. So, schools are limited to a few hours a day with classes held in closed rooms, and children are sent back to empty homes to fend for themselves. Gilly has to spend uncountable hours alone and I had believed a pet would make her happy. He did too as her constant companion and friend. But now, he’s gone, and I’m not sure I’ll risk another life again.

A deep sadness settles in the pit of my stomach. Goldy wasn’t just a fish; he was family. He was my responsibility too—another one I failed at. Should I rebuke Gilly for being a careless owner? But she must also be grieving…

I look at her and am greeted with expectant eyes. I open my arms to Gilly and beckon her to me. She shouts with glee, “Didn’t I tell you, Goldy, she loves me too,” as she swims in my lap, and Goldy rushes forward to join her, leaving the play-dead act behind.

I roll my eyes to show I amn’t affected by their little drama, but my heart throbs happily, beating a steady rhythm against my chest, trying to drive away the memories of ancient pain.

Posted in Nature, Painting

5-minute sketches

This January, I was at mom’s and had a bit of time at hand so I drew these 5-minute sketches (using the pictures I had taken during our visit to the zoo) to entertain my daughter while she practiced writing hindi alphabets.

Now, my daughter has started water colours this month and as a gesture of comraderie, I joined in the fun and made these.

Here is the only one where I took a bit of time, around 30 mins.

Back of a golden pheasant

My reintroduction to art is so much fun I am having a hard time stopping to live the real life.

Posted in Love, Twisted Tales

Sleeping Beauty

In days of yore, a young lass

pretty as pretty could be,

her tresses gilted in gold,

azure eyes sparkled with glee.

At age, her parents invited

men from places far and neigh,

she slept assured true love will

find her in her reverie.

Years passed unaccounted for.

No one broke her thousand winks.

No prince ever came for her.

Parents crossed the rainbow bridge.

Their once pretty girl–with grey hair,

clouded eyes and sagging skin–

died in her sleep…

I wish she’d done something, instead.

Posted in Random Thoughts

Meet Rapunzel

Most of you might already know how my daughter is crazy about animals and birds. She has been asking me to get her a pigeon for ages. To know more about our first conversation, visit my post: Negotiating with Intelligent Beings. She has been at it ever since. Every couple of days, she reminds my husband and I how much happier she would be if she could get a pigeon.

We have been fighting the never ending waves of emotional torture using various means.

At times, we try to make her see how our house is like a bird sanctuary where so many birds visit us every day–pigeons, doves, crows, babblers, parrots, hornbills, owls, eagles, hawks, and so on. When she said she wanted birds that would meet her every day, my husband bought a couple of clay parrots in a cage.

She played with it for a couple of days and the cage broke. She was afterme to build a nest for them and get eggs but that plan never came through for the lack of grass needed to create the nest.

And then, I got her a set of unbreakable plastic birds. She played with them for a week and now they sit in a box awaiting their owner’s return.

Lately, she started her barrage of requests for a pigeon again. We had to decline point blank, reminding her that the bird would probably hate her for caging her and die an early death too. That was when she relented and, with a sadness of Romeo upon the death of Juliet, she said that she’d would not cage a bird.

I guess God smiled that day because what we saw next was divine intervention. A pigeon started visiting us.

We are not sure if it is the same pigeon, but it certainly looks the same and chooses the same branch to sit–right in front of our window–on the same time every day. So, as soon as my daugher has her bath, we open the window to let sunlight in and there it sits waiting for her. Then my daughter takes some time socializing with it.

When the visits became a habit and a daily expectation, my daughter finally named it as Rapunzel. Honestly, I always thought Rapunzel is supposed to have hair long enough to reach down a few floors. He seems more like the prince visiting my daughter (who is Rapunzel, living on top of the tallest tower). But since my daughter is the Disney Princess expert here and the owner-apparent of this wayward pigeon, she gets to decide the name.

At least, she is happy now. Thank God!

Posted in Blogging

Thank you for the Little Help!

I cannot believe it. I had run out of ideas and was wondering where to begin my first story and now I have 21 potential starting points. Thanks a lot, all of you. Please keep the suggestions pouring in.

Thank you, Pete for reblogging since more than half of these suggestions come from your readership. 🙂

I may be a little slow on the uptake though since my stories take around a week or two to build. I will eventually get to your suggestion. Pinky Promise! 🙂

Posted in Life and After, Random Thoughts

I and Me

“So, did you find me yet?”

“Ouch! When was the last time you cleaned this place? It’s cluttered with regret and anger.”

“Don’t evade the question.”

“I’m trying but it’s too dark in here. Can’t see a thing.”

“I know. It’s long since I saw any light.”

“You’ve covered the windows with deception.”

“Yeah! Coming up clean is long overdue.”

“Help me help you. Shed some light.”

“It hurts my eyes

and ego.”

“Fine! I’ll still find you somehow.”

Posted in Blogging

A Little Help!

Hi friends,

I am going through a writer’s block regarding stories. Please send me the first line for a story, so I can build on it–any thing mundane or crazy would do.

I am picking this idea from Pete, who is by far, my favourite short story writer.

Thanks for the help in advance.

Posted in Love

Unrequited | Poetry | Sher

You said “I do” but you didn’t,

Inception of love eternal lost in the forbidden,

Love unrequited wishes still

For chances endless until you return.


Qubool kar be hua nhi. Irshad kho gya zina me kahi.

Teri ashanai me hume fir bhi musalsal mukarrar ka hi irada h.


Author’s note: An English Quatrain (verse with four lines) translated into Urdu Sher (couplet)

Posted in Love

Mourning | Lantern | Sher

Trees

ceased flowering

mourning the one

who deserted ruined garden,

in disgust.

Jinki yaad me shazar pe gulo ne ugna chood diya,

Unhi ne hikarat se sunsaan gulistaa chhod diya.


Author’s note: A Lantern (Japanese style of poetry with 1, 2, 3, 4, 1 words) translated in an Urdu sher (couplet). Mine is “nearly a Lantern” because the last line has two words.

Posted in Life and After, Nature

Predictable

The moonless night hid me well, clocking my dark coat to the point of invisibility as I stood in the corner observing her. I was hungry and she was alone at the stand, waiting for the bus, looking around nervously—an easy prey. She wasn’t grand but she’d have to do.

I moved towards her stealthily. Just twenty feet…

Ten…

Five…

She shivered as she sensed me. Her face ashen and eyes wide with fear, she looked around trying to find the source of her discomfort.

It was now or never for me, so I stalked closer—close enough to rub my back with her leg—and gave a low growl. Finally, her eyes spotted me.

“Hey little kitty, are you lost? Are you hungry?” I purred in affirmation as she picked me up and grinned widely. “You don’t have a collar. Do you want to come home with me?”

Humans are so predictable!


Dedicated to John Melone for his crazy cat poetry and to Prashanth’s Ikru and his northern lights

Posted in Life and After, Love

Bridled

My feet were killing me. I had spend yesterday’s Sangeet (Music and Dance) ceremony limping around in two-inch heels. It was as if I was continuously walking downhill. The fear of slipping and falling on my face made me clench my toes and within a few minutes, my calves and feet began complaining. I was the only one at the party who wasn’t able to dance at all.

And today, in a couple of hours, I will be expected to walk to my future husband while wearing these three-inch stiletto monstrocities. My cousins specially ordered these online bacause they loved me and wanted to make my day special. I wish I could stop them but it seems like all my life choices had been taken out of my hands ever since I agreed to marry.

I looked away to think of something else and my eyes rested on my lap, on the appalling red lehenga dress I was wearing—my mother’s choice. The equally red dupatta sat at a distance leering at me waiting for its turn to wrap me in its folds, its golden lace trimming and countless stones winking in the light.

The air of the room reeked of hair spray as the beautician tried to stick my short, spiky hair to my scalp in an attempt to hide my obvious boyishness. The large fake hair bun she had attached to the nape of my neck with a hundred pins was weighing my head down. Soon, she’d cover it with what seemed like half-the-flowershop, and paint my face with primer, concealer, foundation, face powder, face glitter, eye-shadow, kajal, eyeliner, blush, lip-liner, lipstck, an assortment of bindi

I had a sudden urge to throw on my favourite t-shirt, jeans and sneakers, and run away—if only my feet would stop hurting…

My phone vibrated.

“How are you holding up?”

“I’m running away.”

“Take me with you. They are making me wear a brocade sherwani. I’m melting in the stifling heat.”

“At least, you won’t wear heels.”

“Can you sneak out for a minute?”

“They won’t let me leave the room until they are done painting me.”

“Well, then, I’ll have to do this formally. See you in a minute.”

What was my future husband doing outside my home a couple of hours before our marriage? Why wasn’t he home preparing for the marriage procession? He was the only silver lining in all this craziness—the only guy who didn’t flinch at my obvious boyishness and career choice as a travel guide. What did he want to talk to me about now? Did he change his mind?

A knock on the door brought me out of the reverie. One of my cousins let my groom in, giggling uncontrollably. My parents were tailing him, clearly worried by his sudden appearance two hours before the time and without his family too.

He gave me a smile of comaderie, “So, I was looking at your video from yesterday’s function. I kept waiting for you to dance because your had once said that you loved to, but you just sat there, trying to smile and failing. Then, I realised you will be required to wear something even fancier today…”

I couldn’t understand where he was going with this speech. It didn’t seem like a matter urgent enough for the unexpected visit. However, he came closer and sat down on one knee next to my chair, a shopping bag open next to him. “I decided to be your knight in the shining armour, so you could dance with me today.” He took off the fancy heels from my aching feet, and slid on a pair of sneakers.

Finally freed, I fell in love.

Posted in Life and After, Random Thoughts

Lost and Bound

So many dreams shatter every year,

Lives lost and tears shed,

Coz we can’t step outside the role

Thrusted upon us the moment we were born

Against our wishes.

——–

We are molded to accept it

As our nature and our destiny.

——-

There is no question of not falling in line.

I am the woman: The fairer gender? Homemaker? Caregiver?

You are the man: The stronger gender? Bread winner? Protector?

You can’t cry.

I can’t stop.

——-

There is no question of not falling in line.

So many dreams shatter every year…

Posted in Life and After

Stuck

My shoe was stuck. Hurriedly, I tried to pull it off but my feet won’t come out. The train was due to arrive any minute.

I was sweating by the bucketload but it wasn’t helping. My feet seemed to be glued to the sole of the shoe. It was always like that. Every day the same time, I’d be late and try to hurry across the railway line, and then, one of my shoes’d get stuck. The train would, then, arrive…

…and run me over.

Here we go again!

Well, there’s always another time…

Posted in Love

Gum (Lost)

Ab aaye ho? Mujhe dhoondhte jana.

Ek arse se kisi ki yado me gum hu.

___________

English translation:

So, you’ve finally returned? Find me before you leave again.

For ages, I’ve been lost in someone’s memories.

___________

Author’s note: Sher are couplets in Urdu that tell a complete story.

Posted in Life and After

Fighting Fate

It’s a long night,

safe, for now, in the swan’s feather,

delaying inevitable.

.

Precariously balanced,

wind threatening to topple me over,

onto the thirsty ground.

.

I grieve over the fate

all falling droplets meet—

before me and after.

.

I wonder…

I pray…

I hope to be better.

.

Dawn wakes me.

No longer falling, I rise in a cloud

to be one with the sky…


Free photo by Erik Stine on Unsplash