Staircase to hell

Karma always puzzled me. I always thought, people were supposed to protect their own interests rather than letting Karma interfere with and constrict their lives. So, I gave less, retained more. Made my partner, my children – the others. I was proud, I was living the most rational, practical life. Until, the messenger beckoned to me and said it was ‘time’.

He pushed me through broken doors and pulled me through lava-hot staircases, till we reached the pitch-black bottom, called hell.

I am trying to help them, mend my ways. But, they can’t see me.

Alas, it is  too late.

Written for Friday Fictioneers hosted by the talented author and  artist Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

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The trail to freedom

The soft sun gently embraced the pinks and whites of her tastefully decorated bedroom. She relished it. She didn’t have to worry about the hideous, insincere game of truth or dare, and  sobbing herself to sleep. She had realized, one was never too young or  too old to do or  decode the ‘impossible’. She had read out instructions from the colorful, folded notes in her candy jar and guided him through a chain of to-do’s, that ended in his end. The treasure called life was finally hers. Best of all, it all was done in the spirit of a just revenge.

Written for Friday Fictioneers hosted by the talented author and  artist Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.

PHOTO PROMPT © Priya Bajpal

Me time

At first, it  was like a film of dust. Hazy names,  wobbly street addresses, difficulty summing-up the correct grocery list.

Then, it was sudden and steady erosion. Forgetting colors, putting gravy before sauteing the vegetables, calling wrong numbers.

Finally, it was like  one where sand dunes looked like real images. She talked to  her long lost teenage son, traveled to Kashmir, even discovered a medicine, from her unloved corner of the corridor. Long   stretches  of indifferent silence brushed aside her vacant words and cries of  pain.

Written for Friday Fictioneers hosted by the talented author and  artist Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

PHOTO PROMPT © Russell Gayer

 

The tragedy of no more chances

My father said, my uncle  would be receiving  chemotherapy  in the city, every two months. My courage, loyalty or love didn’t push me hard enough to dial his number.

My father talked about my  uncle’s home with a seasonal flower garden, in front, pet hens and pigeons cooing in their coops in his courtyard, a fish pond in the backyard. I had meant to visit, but never had enough time.

One morning, my father said ‘your uncle is no more’. I had meant to reply to his ‘how are you’? That’s the tragedy.

word count  -93

Written for Friday Fictioneers hosted by the talented author and  artist Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

PHOTO PROMPT © Randy Mazie

 

 

 

Babu Dinanath’s boots

Munna tiptoes to the staircase in Babu Dinanath’s living room that leads to his bedroom.
Munna hears Dinanath relishing his afternoon siesta. Dinanath’s favourite pair of brown boots stands sparkling near his bedroom door.
Munna quietly puts them in his grocery bag and runs for his life. Munna’s friends waiting in the alleyway near Dinanath’s palatial house cheer for him.

They put the landlord’s boots on a stool. ‘These are the boots that mercilessly punish our fathers when they fail to pay their land taxes’. The farmers’ sons start bombarding the boots with the stones in their hands.

 

Note: Babu was a respectful title used to address a man belonging to the privileged class.
Word count :97
Written for Friday Fictioneers hosted by the talented author and  artist Rochelle Wisoff-Fields .
PHOTO PROMPT © Adam Ickes

I will be there for you

‘Take care of yourself, Anjana’s  husband had said. His last words. She had  looked at her children, standing near her, the girl, a 10 year old, the boy, 15. She had felt like holding her deceased husband’s cold hands and crying all night through. ‘Ma, when will baba wake up’, the patient 10 year old had asked. Anjana had  said ‘Sona, I am your baba and Maa from today. When you need baba, call me.’

 

Close relatives  had visited Anjana after receiving the news of her husband’s sudden  passing. But over the period of a month, the visits had dwindled until it became nil. People pray to God or shun Him when faced with such a calamity, but not Anjana. Anjana would stand in front of her husband’s life-like portrait, instead, and talk to him, about her day,  ‘Sona went to school today, after one and a half months. Babai is still very disturbed. I see him walking to the verandah each night and staring up at the dark sky. I am trying to talk to him. I will do my best’.

 

Finances became another major concern for Anajana, since in the early 1970’s, ‘Occupation:housewife’ was still the norm for most middle class married women. Anjana needed enough to keep her home and hearth running and her children properly-fed. She started selling her gold jewelleries, as she didn’t want to take monetary help from her relatives. Her son, Babai was going through a phase of depression.To counter his emptiness, he had fallen into addiction. Anjana had break-downs in her private space, but she pulled herself together, patted herself and kept going.

 

It took a lot of support from his mother and doctors for Babai to recover. After his higher secondary, he went on to pursue Polytechnique. Sona declared her intentions to drop-out after higher secondary and help her mother  in the small business that she had started. Anjana didn’t force her daughter to continue with higher education. She sewed dresses, created handbags and sold them through her neighbours and friends. Anjana also divided her house into two halves and rented out one half to supplement her income. In the early 1980’s , she started the first creche in her neighbourhood. Sona helped her mother out, shared her responsibilities. Later, Anjana’s became a trusted name in day care.

 

Anjana thakuma(grandmother) was my father’s maternal aunt. When I  came to Kolkata as a college student in the late 1990’s, I got the privilege to know her closely. She was always dressed in a pristine white saree, her hair tied into a neat bun, the ever-compassionate smile, her special ornament. She had the  fairest of fair skin tones and the most  perfect features but that’s not why I think she was one of the most beautiful women, I have had the privilege of knowing. Rather, she defined TRUE BEAUTY with her strength, her determination,  her courage to ‘be there’, her poise in adversity.

 

I remember how we would flock to her house- my friends, my sister and I- to have homemade food and a good weekend, the thirsty hostel-girls that we were. Anjana  thakuma would welcome us with her kind smile and open arms. She would cook delicious meals to keep our taste buds happy till the next weekend, though she was almost 70 then.  Anjana thakuma was so well-loved by  her friends and neighbours that they would often seek shelter in her wise counsel and food-therapy, when they were low. I would never see her getting overwhelmed with a full-living room. She believed in celebrating life and relationships  with an equinanimity that I have known to be solely hers.

 

Anjana thakuma is no more here with us but her kindness, warmth and generosity will continue to inspire me and tell me what it is to be truly beautiful. I would always be grateful to her for teaching me that my less-than-fair complexion is OK, that my less-than-perfect features are OK, that what really matters is how kind, strong, optimistic I am and whether or not I hesitate to lend another my smile, when they need one.

I believe every woman has TRUE BEAUTY within her in all the roles she plays. For over 18 years across 650 plus salons across the country, Naturals has been helping the Beautiful Indian Woman get more Beautiful.

Today Naturals Salutes the Beautiful Indian Woman.

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A day to remember

Wrote something of a story,  after a very long time. And, for some reason, thought of being kind to my long-abandoned blog. The prompt for this story was ‘the night I lost my phone’. I managed to sew- together  some whimsical thoughts.

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A day to remember

I was  more adventurous than my normal self that afternoon. I took my dream of  surreptitiously attending Prof. Sen’s ‘Industrial Revolution’ class to fruition, checked off ‘writing a love letter to my imaginary lover in the class room’ from my  ‘things to do before I die’ list, loitered around in the garden of the huge library, near the university campus, examining its flora and fauna intently, rather than even turning a passing thought to my ritual of examining  the books inside. I then took a bus to the nearest movie theatre, impulsively, and chose a movie in the unfathomable Mandarin language. Quite evidently, even after stepping outside the movie theatre, I was struggling to figure out the rationale behind the sequence of events witnessed on the screen. Head throbbing from the extra-long and inquisitive walk in the library garden plus a movie that was more like a puzzle, I walked to the tea stall, in my bid to counter my frustration, with a cup of strong tea. To cheer myself up, I decided to ‘play’ with my phone, only to be stabbed in my heart (so to speak). My dear phone was  missing from the one bag that I considered to be ‘impregnably safe’. I took the only available course of action- started retracing steps in my mind, in an effort to locate the exact moment of my last rendezvous with the precious gadget. Delusional from the offbeat day, my memory betrayed me. So I physically dragged myself back to the theatre, and resorted to a mendicancy of the most extreme variety. The doorman wouldn’t let me in as the next show was already, one-quarter way through. Eventually, however, my hands folded in the perfect namaskara and the moistness in my eyes convinced him to let me in. Like a blind woman without a stick, I meandered across to the last seat in the theatre where I was seated not so long ago. There was no sign of the phone. While  hurrying down the flights of stairs, the worst thing happened. I tripped over and fell. In a matter of seconds, I lost the ability to stand up on my own. Before I knew, I was in an ambulance, on my way to the nearest nursing home. I prayed to God for the warden to be kind enough to not confiscate my seat in the one-bed, one-chair, one-creaking cabinet of a luxurious room, since I had violated the 10 pm entry rule. I requested the nurse to call my hostel and inform the warden about my predicament. The two months that followed saw me glued to my bed in a semi-handicapped state. For the want of better things to do or a phone to give me sweet company, I started writing, 24/7. The good news is, you might soon see my name peeping out of a shelf in a book store. All because of, the night I lost my phone.

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Note: This story was originally written for https://penmancy.com