She ran fast— under the scorching heat, with an aluminium plate sanctified of distortion, to avail the food that the refuge offered. Her tender toes burned. Five years of her life on this planet bestowed upon her the capabilities of bearing any extremity which a person stuck up within air conditioned walls all day will be terrible at. Terrible conditions of war had started showing its ugly side.
Her mom under the thatched roof, was lying almost lifeless, diseased and starving. Her mom’s everyday routine of availing food this way and feeding her first during the war times was nothing new. She managed to find the way amidst the anaemic mob to get a spatula of poorly cooked rice and a spoonful of stale vegetable.
That was a feast for her eyes and belly.
On her way back, the tiny soul didn’t raise a query of why she had to get the food today; circumstances had turned everyone flexible to any situation. Guises of people around spoke of the brutal times they were going through, that is how visuals have been for her since her birth being all these absolutely normal.
Her innocent eyes gleamed of glee when she neared her mom with the food. In the absolute silence, she kept the plate close to her mom trying hard not to disturb her and knelt down. “Mom, we’ll eat. It’s my favourite vegetable today” she said in her silent squeaky voice. Her mom couldn’t respond actively but managed to sit and her pale sulky eyes were filled with tears. After sharing the food that’s available, she laid down. The five-year old, with bruised tiny fingers, wrapped her mom around her neck and rested beside on the dusty rough floor, ignoring her still grumbling belly. Little did she know— death had already approached her mom that moment; she’s with a mass of flesh that doesn’t love her back anymore.
Munna, her friend came in yelling after a few minutes, “I found our horse toy that we had lost.”
She turned reflexively and whispered, “Shhh.. My mom is asleep.”
Water dripped from the rusted asbestos sheet. It was dripping down her cheeks merging with her tears of pain. The flickering yellow bulb helped her spot the muddy way on that rainy night. As the thunder struck again, she crouched more, she shivered. His friend was standing beside her. It was one of those days where she chose this open solace against her cozy, comfortable room and warm bed as if her dilemmatic situation would solve itself.
The face of her lover’s carcass kept flashing in her mind like the flickering bulb. Crying out loud helped for the first few weeks to fade out the past. Consoling would help.
But, there was a problem.
Except for their shadows and his friend, no one knew— that they loved each other.
‘I shouldn’t have fooled myself by ignoring the love’ she thought. The rainy night was a witness of her utter grief. She recalled those days when the titles of the library books conveyed messages, not literally the exchange of conversations, just expressing their inner feels. Smiling until the cheeks ache, staring the stony church walls, walking along the shady streets near his house in anticipation of spotting him were just memories written on water now.
Silence of their love then proved costly — suffering has to be in silence now.
‘Except his appearance, you know nothing about him’, his friend yelled. She raised her head and amidst the continuous patter, she listened to him. Patiently.
‘You’ve created him in your head the way you want. You don’t know him.’
‘Go away’, she blasted.
He bent down and held her hand and said, ‘Why don’t you love me? No one really knows that you loved him. So, forget him and move on. Have you ever realised how much I’ve loved you!’
She was in a tremendous shock. She couldn’t believe what she just heard. She got up flicking away his hand and wiped her tears deciding what to do.
She decided to walk away from this self-indulgent world.
She started her journey, to her abode— her love.
His hands were speaking the same language since twenty-five years. The wrinkles had flattened, the broom’s handle marks were etched in his palm— on the brim of the facial wrinkles were his due responsibilities. Shaping his son’s career was his duty. The filth he swept away knew the taste of his tears, his sweat. The end was near and he wanted it to be that moment— waiting to be hit by any random vehicle that rushes past, hoping that to unhook him from his accountability, life’s selfish demands. The early morning rays fell subtly on his face, adding a glow to his undone jobs.
The pathway was clean, ready to hold fresh autumn leaves. He went and sat on the porch, leaning onto the pillar, dropping the broom. He waited.
Waited for his dead son, to fulfil his duties of shaping his son’s career who will never show up.
He was brimming with obligations, non-existent ones.
The pearl necklace down her neck cascaded as she ascended the stairs. The oak steps across the fireplace held the essence of her home’s memories. It had traces of every instance that happened until then in that paradise. As each pearl fell on the wooden step, she was sacrificing her minutes particle by particle. She could feel her life shrinking and each of her nerve evaporating into nothingness. This mental state certainly did curb her peace of mind. Little did she know that her own deadline was being elegantly drawn by her. Holy words fell from her lips so as to contain the fear. The huge wall clock chimed thrice marking the mid noon- she hasn’t slept yet, it just bloomed on her. Without even collecting the rich scattered pearls, she strode into her room and laid under the thick linen bed sheet. The huge mirror that stood across the bedpost, now seemed to be a curse which was once her pride;a young lady’s materialistic asset. Her husband bestowed her a liability- she can sense it now. Every line of wrinkle on her face was being reflected back drenching her in a state of panic. The linen sheet was dragged upon her face to cover her ageing: the bitter reality, trying to escape the future. The red Anthurium flowers kept in the ceramic vase near the window sill exposed the contrast; the freshness she craved for. She was jealous of young flesh. She wanted to correct every immature thing she did in her days of freshness. How foolishly her ego superseded her conscience when she was young- she worried. High hopes were intact that she could erase all the naive times which were haunting her then.
The clock was ticking solely for her, counting her deadline; she was immersed in these thoughts as four times the clock’s chime intruded her. Spending her every second regretting about her past, she was freshly creating memories to regret about ahead, again becoming the producer of non degradable garbage. She was unaware, still an immature wrinkly baby dooming herself to a life of fret.
She just mastered the art of creating elegant traps.
by the brook
ebony bench resides
draped of rich stories
of a man
to explore the traces of it –
felt his virtual presence-
an elixir of life