Posted in Love, Nature

Heartache

I picked up the flower that had fallen from her hair. It still held her fragrance.

Ever since she moved here, I followed her around, hoping she would look at me and never look away. Often, I would walk behind her, right past her, in front of her…

But she seemed to look right through me.

Then, this guy came and held her from behind. She squealed in terror. Naturally, I attacked him. But instead of supporting her saviour, she hit me with a stick and called me a ‘stupid bird’! Worse still, she kissed him!

I’ll never love again!


Photo by Raimond Klavins on Unsplash

Posted in Love

Awaiting

I look at the clock for the hundredth time. He’s still not home.

3:21 AM: It’s futile to wait up. It is only 3 hour journey. If he was coming home tonight, he would be home long back.

4:07 AM: But his friend had said he met him at VT station…

5:37 AM: He probably didn’t find a train…

6:58 AM: But why hasn’t he picked up the phone?

8:09 AM: Is he alright? Why would he not call me back? I know he is always angry but how can he ignore 26 calls?

9:16 AM: Did he have an accident?

9:45 AM: Should I call police?

10:15 AM: His text reads, “The maid will be late.”

11:13 AM: The maid is home, more cheerful than usual.

11:30 AM: He saunters in more cheerful than usual. I rush to meet him. His hair is wet from the shower.

I quietly move to the inner room. He speaks to the maid in a low tone. They laugh…

Posted in Love

Rejected

Her knuckles were white as she gripped the handles of her two wheeler tight–lost, teary-eyed, not sure where she was driving to, except that she had to get away from…herself? Because he, clearly, wasn’t following her when she walked away without looking back.

Why would he? He hadn’t made any promises…just an ‘I love you’ spoken on the phone from a thousand miles away.

She, on the other hand, had taken another month to speak those words until she meant every syllable and was ready to make a promise, because for her, saying ‘I love you’ meant ‘I can’t live without you and that I want to marry you so that I can be around you for the next seven lives’. Her ‘I love you’ was a promise of eternity. His was a spurt-of-moment statement spoken in the wake of Valentine’s Day–a day she never celebrated before him and had never ever since.

She was going too fast–the road was too crowded for that kind of speed, but in that moment, she didn’t care that she couldn’t see with tears filling her eyes, couldn’t anticipate with her mind crowded with so many thoughts, couldn’t stop if needed because her brakes weren’t meant for that speed.

She wanted to die…

No, he hadn’t slept with her or done any thing to incriminate him, but knowing that she wasn’t anywhere on his list of priorities in life, was painful, heart wrenching. When during their date, she broke the news that her parents were looking for a groom for her, he wasn’t the least concerned. He later told her of his life plans, probably to clarify his stand about her, she could clearly see he wasn’t considering a future with her.

And here she was worrying night and day about losing him…Somewhere between their phone conversations, he had become her life. Somewhere between those conversations, she hadn’t become that for him.

Her stomach had dropped in a bottomless pit and she was going down with it. She couldn’t let him see that though. So, she had quickly ended the date and drove away in silence at an irrational speed.

Blurry-eyed, she saw an open rickshaw. She was ready to die but not to kill. Instantly, breaks screached and two wheeler halted–without skidding. She could hear the drivers from vehicles behind her shouting profanities.

The rickshaw had moved on without noticing her.

She moved to the side of the road and stopped. There, she cried with her face hidden under the helmet. She wasn’t sure how long but she could finally breath and see again. She drove back to her parental home, then, wearing that unwavering smile, pretending that all was well in her world.

Posted in Life and After, Love

The Day of Reunions

Author’s note: The story doesn’t intend to disrespect anyone based on their parentage. It just speaks of a person who has been raised in the society that gives more credit to birth than ability.

Karna is a central character in Mahabharata, the longest and most revered epic in Sanskrit. He is the illegitimate son of the Sun God and Princess Kunti. He faces too many caste-based prejudices because he is raised by a low-caste Charioteer. Visit Wikipedia to know more about him. This story is set in the morning of the longest day of his life–when he joins the greatest war of ancient history.

Karna was fuming after his conversation with the Sun God–his real father. His entire life was a lie.

For nearly seventy years, he had believed he was the son of a lowly Charioteer. He had struggled with casteism for every privilege reserved for higher castes: education, power and rightful recognition as the world’s best warrior. But the world had jeered at him, declining him a single chance to show his true mettle, simply because he wasn’t born in a Kshatriya family. If it wasn’t for Prince Duryodhan who made him the king of Angadesh, he would be scrubbing horses and sleeping in stables.

And today, when Prince Duryodhan has given him the chance to lead his army in the greatest of all wars against his illegitimate cousins–the Pandavas, the war that may finally give him the recognition he had always craved for…

He had arrived at the river to pray to the Sun God as usual, and there he was, standing in all his glory, to tell him that he was a Prince, a Kshatriya, a demi-god…

And a bastard!

He couldn’t remember how many times in his life had he wished to have the royal blood, so that he could be an equal of his best friend. Now he did–as the eldest son of Rajmata Kunti, born while she was still unmarried. She still has a brood of five similar sons, the Pandavas, ‘blessings’ from five gods after her marriage to the impotent King Pandu. Her husband had approved of them. He, on the other hand, was born before marriage and she had cast him away in the river.

He had never hated Arjun so much before–his arch-enemy was now his step-brother. She had kept him and the other four sons, raised them as kind princes and capable warriors who were respected and loved by all, while he lived his life as Duryodhan’s lapdog. He might be a king, but his subjects clearly didn’t approve.

The number of times he had jeered at Pandavas because of their many fathers…it all came back to him. Now, he was one of them. What would his best friend think of him now? Will he still let him lead his army?

As he finished his daily prayers, he could see Kunti at a distance, hesitating from approaching him. He gave the customary bow and waited for her to speak.

“How are you, Son?” She had always addressed him as “Son”. But today, he could understand the true meaning of the word.

“My lady, how can I serve you today?”

“I came to see my son today.”

He could see her steeling herself for the onslaught. He had no pity for her. “There is none here. You should perhaps look a little further in the Pandavas’ camp.”

Undeterred, she continued, “I’ve come to see my first-born, the son of the Sun God, born with the fiery temper of his father–who will be the next King of Hastinapur (Delhi).”

“Hastinapur belongs to the true descendants of King Shantanu. It is not up to a woman to give it away to those who have the blood of several unknown men”, he dealt a low blow.

She stood strong though, “The true descendant of Shantanu do not deserve to be kings. They are vain and self-serving. They do not know justice and their subjects are mere means to fulfill their ends. They keep vile company that advises them to destroy their people and businesses. Their best men are hog-tied by oath to serve the king, incapable of stopping injustice, and they stand by watching women being raped in public.”

“And am I not one of the vile company? As far as I remember, I am Duryodhan’s best friend.”

“You are, but Pandavas–your brothers–are capable administrators and advisors. They had given 26 years of their lives to make Hastinapur a land of opportunity–converting arid lands to fertile farms, and dense forests infested by demons into fruit orchards. They had invited farmers, tradesmen and craftsmen from different kingdoms with a promise of a peaceful and luxurios life–a promise they had fullfilled as long as they ruled. They can do it again, with you on the throne.”

“Ah! Bribing me into changing sides. So that I won’t kill your precious sons…”

“I am not afraid of my sons dying. They are Kshatriyas–born to fight. They have lived a long life. A death in the battle field will only bring them further glory. It is you that I am afraid for. Will you be able to look yourself in the mirror, knowing that you killed able and just kings who were the best chance their subjects had? Knowing they were your younger brothers?”

“You speak as if you know me, as if you care for me…you let me deal with seventy years of humiliation. You knew who I was, and yet, you let your sons disrespect me by calling me a ‘Charioteer’s son’. You never spoke up for me, and yet, you dare to call me ‘Son’? You bribe me with throne and family, respect and metarnal love, and expect me to forget that all this has been denied to me for seventy years?”

“Son…disowning you was a mistake. But I was only fourteen and scared of society. I wanted to own you up later when I saw you at the Royal games fifty years back.”

“Then, why didn’t you?”

“Arjun had called you a Charioteer’s son, but you had held your head up. In return, Duryodhan had called Arjun a “Bastard”. The look of disgrace you gave Arjun at that moment…I realised that it was better for you to never share the fate of being my son.”


Illustrated by Ammpryt ART

Posted in Love

Riding the High Sea

Riding the high sea,

As waves excitedly carried me,

I embarked on adventure of lifetime,

Until I was left behind

Stranded ashore.

I waited long

For the sea to return

But it never quite reached me

Always in the periphery

Just out of reach–

Teasing,

Mocking, daring me

To make the journey alone

Through the sands

Of destiny,

Always watching

Wickedly amused at my predicament

As I pushed on against the

Unyielding sands

A plaything,

an entertainment,

Until I could

push no more…

And died…

Posted in Love

The Exile

The forest was full of early morning noises as Rishi Valmiki walked to the river for a bath before the daily Yajna. His hair, tied in a bun above his head, was white with the experiences of a life full of sin and, later, hard penance. His beard was long enough to trip him, but his agility belied his advanced years. A sound of someone tripping alerts him of a presence—not an animal, for sure.

He squared his shoulders, expecting a Danava or a Rakshasa. He called out, “Who goes there? Show yourself.”

“I am Sita, Sir.” A petite woman appeared around the thick trunk of an ancient Banyan tree. In the pre-dawn light, he could see that her clothes were torn in places. She had angry red bruises on her bare arms and face, probably from stumbling around in the forest all night. She seemed several months pregnant.

Concern filled his voice now, “Dear lady, how come you are alone in this forest full of wild animals, and bare-handed? Are you lost?”

“Exiled would be a better word.”

“Exiled? And your crime?”

“I have not been informed of the crime, just the punishment,” she said dejectedly.

“You seem to have a very unjust king!”

“Ironically, he is the best king the world ever saw,” she chuckled without humor.

That’s when the pieces fell together. “Are you the famous Queen Sita, the wife of King Rama Chandra?”

When Sita answered, her voice was hoarse, “I was that a lifetime ago. Or was that only yesterday? Time loses its significance when you are abandoned by the man you love. Now, I am just Sita.”

He was confused. It was all so different from what he had heard about the king—he was the perfect king revered and loved by his subjects, who keeps their will before his own; the perfect brother who handed over his rightful kingdom to his step-brother without batting an eyelid; the perfect son who had gone to fourteen years of exile to keep his father’s word to his step-mother. And when King Ravana had abducted Sita from the forest, he had collected small wild tribes, crossed the sea and fought the most powerful king of all times to retrieve his wife—the perfect husband…

He had always been in awe of that man.

Sita continued, “Last evening, his younger brother left me in the forest on his orders. While leaving, he’d hinted that Rama was following the will of his subjects who are against keeping a woman who had ‘lived with another’. Even though, after winning me back, he had made me walk on flames as a proof of my purity, it wasn’t proof enough for his beloved subjects. And, of course, he wouldn’t give up his beloved kingdom for me as I had once done for him.” The words left a bitter taste in her mouth.

He chose his words carefully now, “Do you wish to go to your father, King Janaka of Mithila?”

“My father? Who hasn’t checked on me since I returned from a fourteen-years exile? He probably believes I eloped willingly, like everyone else,” she said, shaking her head in disbelief.

He was completely at loss now. But he couldn’t leave the lonely woman on her own—pregnant and unable to defend herself, would be an easy target for hungry animals. Moreover, the forest was infested by Danavas and Rakshasas. God only knows what they would do to a woman who looked so beautiful, even in rags. 

He made a final effort. “Would you like to return to King Rama and plead your case? I assure you I can get you an audience with him. He will not deny the request of a Rishi.”

“Thank you! But I will not plead mercy in front of someone who punishes a victim of crime and her unborn child. Anyway, he would have granted me an audience if he had the courage to face me. He knows well that he’s wrong but did it anyway. He may forgive me, but I will not forgive him.

I was a princess, brought up in luxury, when I married him, but when he was exiled, I chose to accompany him to the forest. There were days, we did not have a roof over our heads. To make him happy, I picked fruits and vegetables in the forest, cooked meals, spun cloth, walked until my feet hurt and worked until I was sore all over, only to end up sleeping on the forest floor like a common woman. For fourteen years…

When Ravana abducted me, he had offered to marry me. I could have led a life of luxury in his castle, but I refused him and chose to live in a cottage like my Rama. And this is how he repays me?”

The fire in her eyes now turned to steel. “I’d rather stay in the forest like I’ve done it for fourteen years. My child needs no father.”

There was only one way to go from there, “Would you like to live in my humble ashram? I answer to no king.”

She gave a little smile, full of gratitude, “Only if you promise to raise my child as a fearless warrior and a better man.”

Author’s note: This story is about an unfortunate day in Ramayana, a revered epic in Sanskrit. It is said that King Rama Chandra grieved for his wife and never remarried. Many years later, his massive army was intercepted and easily defeated by two little boys in the forest. When Rama came to war, Sita finally stepped in and handed over the sons he never knew. However, she declined to return with him.


Photo by Ammpryt ART

Posted in Life and After

The Pool

The pool in his estate, built on his brother’s suggestion, was meant to be decorative, until, in a drunken stupor, he tripped over his girlfriend’s long legs.

His brother ran out of the huge house at the hue and cry, and took off his expensive Rolex and Ray-Ban– dallying just long enough to ensure the ‘inevitable’–before jumping in the pool after him.

When the Police arrived, his brother was wiping tears off his girl’s face, while the Rolex and Ray-Ban lay by the poolside winking in the sun.


Image by Unsplash

Posted in Love

When My World Went Crazy

You had walked in the room

for the first time

after we married

for love–

one that I had fought for

against my world.

 

I was shivering with anticipation

as you kissed my cheek,

and then,

without a preface,

you asked me

(on the day you wed me for ‘love’)

when my father would send the money.

 

When I answered,

I saw your face fall.

you hadn’t married me

for love, after all.

 

That day my world tumbled

Until nothing made sense anymore.

Posted in Love

When my world went crazy

You had walked in the room

For the first time

After we married

For love–

One that I had fought for

Against my world.

I was shivering with anticipation

As you kissed my cheek,

And then,

Without a preface,

You asked me

(On the day you wed me for ‘love’)

When my father would send the money.

When I answered,

I saw your face fall.

You hadn’t married me

For love, after all.

That day my world tumbled

Until nothing made sense anymore.

Posted in Twisted Tales

A Hushed Conversation

forest-1031022_640

A hushed conversation

“Isn’t that the same tree stump we passed twice before?”

“Not sure. Can’t tell one from another in the mist.”

Silence

“Greta, should we call out father’s name?”

“Han! We have been over that before. He isn’t coming. You heard mother last night, didn’t you?”

“She was just complaining about the lack of food…”

“And too many mouths to feed!”

“Then, why didn’t they send us to the king? We could have worked as slaves or something.”

“Because then, they would have to give us food for the way and money for the ride. It beats the whole point.”

Silence

“I’m scared.”

“Me too.”

“And hungry.”

“I’m so hungry, I can smell gingerbread.”

“Me too.”

Silence

“Do you remember what old Rabbi told about the witch house made of gingerbread?”

“He’s senile.”

“I hope he’s right. I would rather be eaten than starved.”

Silence


Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Posted in Love

When A Little Bird Told Me

I was still reliving

How you once held me,

When a little bird told me

You’ve returned to the town

To marry

The woman of your dreams.

The memories came

Flooding back to me.

The strolls through the gardens,

The stolen kisses,

The promises of eternity,

And whatever came after

That brought blush

To my cheeks.

Over the moon I walked,

As I wore my bridal dress.

I flew through the air

Wind teasing my tresses,

Looking for you,

Sure that you were

Looking for me too.

From the seventh cloud,

I saw you…

…walking out of the Chapel,

Under the rice showers

With the new Mrs. You.


Image by Petr Ovralov on Unsplash

Posted in Love

The Bus Detour

She was looking out of the window with unseeing eyes as the bus took a detour to avoid a roadblock.

For the hundredth time, she thought of earlier that day…in the back of his car… She smiled. Absent-mindedly playing with the ring he gave her, she wondered if he was thinking of her as well.

Suddenly, the bus turned a corner into a dark alley. Its headlights revealed a familiar car with a couple entangled ferociously in the backseat. She had her answer.