Seize the day… #FlashFiction

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She looked out of the window and a beautiful sight beheld her. The intermittent rains that had continued since last couple of days had brought about a familiar chill in the air.

Unwittingly, she found herself looking at the embossed photograph on the mantelpiece. She vividly remembered that day. Michael had finally goaded her into taking a break from her busy work schedule and so off they went for a weekend outing.

But, weather played foul. As she sat inside the hotel room, fighting the urge to open her laptop and get to work, Michael appeared with a shiny umbrella and a wide smile.

“We are going out. Come on”.

“But, it is pouring”, she exclaimed.

“I have an umbrella. Let us make the most out of this day.

The picture of the two of them strolling in the rain, is still a beautiful reminder of that afternoon.

Today, as she looked out, she sighed. She stared down at her wheelchair and hoped she had seized the day more often, when she could.

(173 words)

Linking up with Priceless Joy who hosts a weekly flash fiction challenge for aspiring writers. This week’s photo prompt is provided by Michelle De Angelis. Thank you Michelle!

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Posted in Flash Fiction | 11 Comments

When My Eleven Year Old Self Made Me Think…

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Nostalgia is a strange thing. It suddenly engulfs you from nowhere when you least expect it and distant memories that were hitherto buried in your past come calling out to you. I too was left reminiscing about those misty memories when I thought of writing this particular post.

I meant to write about a small change that I brought about. As I wondered if I was ever instrumental in bringing about a change that was selfless (Phoebe’s dilemma about a selfless good deed did cross my mind –Yes I am a Friends fanatic and keep going back to it- pardon me). So, did I ever do something selfless that infused a change however paltry?

It was then, the memories come flashing back.

It was the time when I was an emaciated young girl on the verge of being a teenager. I lived in a sleepy small town somewhere in Rajasthan. Those were the nineties, when our evenings were not spent browsing through our phone and the majestic forces of whatsapp and facebook had not taken over our lives. During those days, we had a middle aged Punjabi woman who worked as a part time maid at our house. She had a daughter who was my age. Though, at age eleven, I was well aware of the class demarcation that existed in the society at large, my naïve young heart did not let it overpower the basic sentiment of brotherhood or in this case, sisterhood.

The girl’s name was Geeta and she used to often accompany her mother to work. We would spend the time playing ‘make believe games’ and would enjoy to the hilt. I used to eagerly wait for her mom to arrive so that I could get those precious moments of joy.

Geeta was not like my other friends. She was mostly fascinated by my toys and looked at me like a star-struck teenager. I on the other hand, reveled in the attention.

It was a sultry afternoon. We decided to play the most famous ‘make believe’ games of our times. Yes, it was called ‘teacher-teacher’. Geeta said she would like to become the teacher. I acquiesced and sat with a notebook in my hand. Geeta took the chalk in her hand and headed towards the little blackboard that my dad had bought for me a few days ago. It was my prized possession. As she prepared to write, I saw her expression alter and the radiant smile gave way to a crestfallen look of dismay. She stood there transfixed for a few minutes only to say, “Didi, I do not know how to write. I cannot be a teacher in this game.”

I looked at her stunned as I never had an inkling that she was illiterate. Just then her mother called out and she rambled towards her mother with weary steps. She was gone. But, something in me had stirred. I could not bring myself to believe that my dear friend was bereft of the basic right to education.  I made a decision.

Next day, as Geeta came home, I made her sit next to me. I gave her a notebook and a new set of pencils and erasers. She looked at me questioningly. “I will teach you how to read and write”. This time it was her turn to be shocked.

From then on, whenever she came in, we would disappear in my room where I would wear the teacher’s hat and she would be the diligent student. Within no time, Geeta could write her name with ease and read a bit.

I was ecstatic. The joy I experienced was unparalleled. But, most importantly, it was unadulterated. I was merely happy that my friend could read and write. There were no hidden agendas and no vested interests. We went on to play ‘teacher-teacher’ many times after that and Geeta proudly proclaimed, “Now, I can be a teacher”. The sparkle in her eyes was hard to miss when she held the chalk in her hand.

After a few months, we shifted to a different city.

Today, as I look back, I marvel at my deed. I do not know if Geeta went on to achieve something later in her life. But, it makes me really question that if an eleven year old child can bring about a change, why does a woman in her thirties merely sit and make a commentary of sorts on all that is wrong in the world. This memory has been an eye- opener for me and has put things into perspective like never before. I hope I can learn something from my eleven year old self who was unscathed by the vagaries of the world. She did not just know the meaning of a ‘selfless deed’ but actually practiced it.

 

Every change begins with a small step, whether it’s a change within your family, or the whole country! India’s hero, Padman, had its digital premiere on ZEE5, on 11th May. Don’t miss this inspiring true-life story, only on ZEE5. Download the app and subscribe nowFor every subscription, ZEE5 will donate Rs. 5 towards the personal hygiene needs of underprivileged women.

 

Image: http://www.top-art-gallery.com/William-Adolphe-Bouguereau/Two-Girls-(Childhood-Idyll).html

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And then she slept!!

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I sit on the big brown coloured couch which is discolured at the edges but still offers the warmth of an old friend. I am fidgeting with the remote and my eyes are transfixed on the television which presents a panorama of images, images of gaiety mostly. But, it does nothing to push away the clouds of loneliness that loom large over me. I have tried in vain to uplift my spirits. I want to be happy, I want to live each day to the brim but something plunges me back to this unpleasant place and I am left utterly miserable and perplexed.

My life was not always the mess it is today. It is hard to believe that I was once a happy person who was constantly on the move. My life revolved around my son Ayansh. I was ecstatic when I held my baby boy in my arms for the first time. I was overwhelmed with emotions and from then on something in me changed. I was not the same person. I was a mother now and unwittingly, I took on the role a tad too seriously. Motherhood is a journey which engulfs you and transforms you into something else. But, I was delighted to be transformed. And from then on a mother was born but it shoved the ‘me’ from my identity, into a bottomless dark chasm.

Bringing up a child is an arduous task and I was blissfully engrossed in bringing up my bonny boy. My relationship with my husband also took a backseat and slowly but steadily he became the second fiddle in my life.

I would wake up in the wee hours of the morning and sweat out in the kitchen to make what my boy demanded. Oh! How I beamed to see that smile on my son’s face.

As Ayansh grew into a lanky teenager, my time was filled with the pick and drop rides to tuition classes. I was very particular about his studies and meticulously researched about books that would lend him that edge and carve a path that would lead to academic excellence.

I distinctly remember that day. Ayansh’s board exams were in full swing. My best friend Sheetal decided to call me on one of those crucial March days when the examinations had made their Draconian presence in my house. Sheetal was one of my closest friends and we had studied together in school and college. After college, she got married and moved to US. I hardly used to get time to call her but she kept in touch despite everything.

As I picked up the phone, the familiar voice at the other hand instilled in me a sense of nostalgia and I was transported back to the old dusty lanes of the town where I had spent my childhood.

“Hey, Aarti, how are you? I am so excited. I landed yesterday and the first thing I want to do is meet you. I am still jet lagged but what the heck!” It was difficult to escape the jubilation in Sheetal’s voice. And so, unwillingly I acquiesced to meet her.

The hip coffee shop lingered with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee and as I sat there waiting for Sheetal, I could not help but think about Ayansh and worried if he would loiter in the house, now that I am away. The mere thought made me repent as to why I stepped out.

My reverie was broken by Sheetal’s warm bear hug while she exclaimed animatedly, “Aarti, you look lovely. I so missed you. Today, we will talk and talk and do nothing else. It has been ages”.

As we chatted, we were once again the spirited young girls who laughed at the drop of a hat and who were unscathed by the travails of time.
Suddenly, I glanced at my watch.

“Sheetal, I have to leave now. I should be home now. Ayansh has his exams.”

Sheetal looked at me and held my hand.

“Aarti I have known you almost all your life. You are very dear to me and I care about you immensely. So, I need to tell you this. I respect you for being the par excellence mother you are. But, don’t you think you have lost yourself while playing the role of a mother? It is important to be be there for your children but have you considered what will happen once your son will move away to carve his own life? Do not lose yourself Arti, discover your true self, the chirpy, opinionated level- headed girl who was fond of music and who lived each day to the hilt. You have pushed that girl into oblivion. Please find that girl before it is too late. You owe it to yourself.”

I vividly recall each and every word that Sheetal said as each word pierced my soul not because she said those words harshly but because deep down I knew she was right. But, I chose to shut my eyes and move on and live a life of delusion.

Back to the Present day

As I continue to stare at the tv screen, the feeling of worthlessness grips me all over again. It has been six months since Ayansh left for college. I knew this day would arrive sooner or later but what I did not know was that it would affect me in such a catastrophic manner. My son who was the axis around which my life encircled has flown the nest.

To make things worse, he hardly speak to me now. My world has come crashing down and suddenly I have no purpose in life. My husband sensed my plight and desperation but in being the perfect mother, I had created a huge fissure between us, which deepened with each passing day.

It has been a couple of months since I have been suffering from insomnia. I hardly venture out. I have no one to talk to as I never invested in any other relationship. With shivering hands, I dial the number.

As I hear the peppy voice from the other end, it at once feels like home. I speak for an hour incessantly and the barrage of emotions let themselves unfold unabated.

She listens to me quietly.

A couple of hours later, Sheetal is sitting next to me.

She holds on to me as I sob like someone possessed.

When I can cry no more, she looks into my eyes.

“You have to find yourself. You cannot let motherhood define you. You are one hell of a woman and you will start your life afresh. I will be there by you come what may. So, get up, get a grip over yourself. Henceforth, you will live your life for yourself.”

****************

Sheetal helped me come out of the most traumatic phase of my life. I rediscovered myself and started learning music. I made an effort to rekindle the love between me and my husband and gradually took charge of my life.

Today after my music session and a warm home cooked dinner with my husband, as I lay down my head on the pillow, I take a sigh of relief and suddenly find all the exhaustion dispelling into thin air. As I rediscovered myself, sleepless nights gave way to nights of sweet slumber and so I slept only to wake up to be the person who was lost in the labyrinths of motherhood.

Image : https://www.pinterest.com/pin/451697037604647656/

Posted in feminism, parenting, Short Story, Social Lens | 6 Comments

Reflections !!!

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April was a month of adventure and accomplishment. It is during this time of the year that bloggers put on their creative hat and embark on a writing journey that begins from ‘A’ and ends on ‘Z’. Yes, this is what the ‘A2Z’ challenge is about.

Though I have been around in the blogosphere for quite some time now, I have never been prolific with my writing. And this is something I frowned upon. I yearned to write extensively and thwart the inner demons of self doubt that would often grab me. To become a good writer you need to write more and hone your pen.

So, when I came across Blogchatter’s A2Z challenge, I was glued. As daunting as blogging for an entire month and producing as many as twenty six posts sounded, I knew it would be a fun filled ride.

April was a month when my daughter’s school vacations commenced and so did our travelling sprees. Owing to this I was dubious about taking up the challenge, but my husband prodded me to go for it and I am grateful to him for always inspiring me to put my best foot forward. So, I made up my mind and amidst numerous hiccups managed to complete the challenge. And boy, what an exhilarating feeling it is to conquer your inner fears and come out triumphant.

I chose a theme just a day before the challenge began and I am glad I did. Having a theme remarkably helped me to move forth one step at a time without having to brood over ‘what to write’.

I was amazed to come across some amazing writers who left me awestruck with their creativity and writing prowess.

Anshu from ‘firsttimemoomy.net’ was someone I met through this challenge, though we both have been writing for momspresso for quite some time. She wrote a beautiful novella and I fell in love with her protagonist Tara. Each morning I would hop on to see what transpired next in the life of Tara. In the last few days of the challenge when I was lagging behind, Anshu really pushed me and I am so happy I found such a warm and kind soul through this journey.

Akshata is someone I have always admired as a person. In fact, even before the challenge began when I had doubts as I was to travel during April, she was the one who motivated me to take the plunge. Her novella was about a girl named Myra and her journey. Each post had a beautiful message and shattered certain stereotypical notion that plagues the society.

KanikaG wrote such well researched and meaningful posts about topics pertaining to women’s health. She really put her heart and soul in penning these posts and I was left awed by her diligence.

Varad left me spellbound with his “tales with a twist” while Seema left me awestruck with her beautiful sketches and travelogues. Anagha’s quirky stories left me guffawing and Anurag’s flash fiction took me by surpize. Lavanya’s novella took creativity to another dimension and I was left agape.

I was happy to be in the august company of such wonderful writers.

So, what did I learn from the challenge?

The most important thing that I learned was that we often underestimate ourselves. If we set our heart and mind at something, we can surely surprise ourselves. I churned twenty six stories in a month and that makes me feel accomplished. Also, I penned these posts amidst busy travel schedules and family commitments, so much so that I ended up writing in taxis, trains and hotel rooms. We can indeed stretch our limits if we persevere.

So, as exhausting and challenging April was, I enjoyed it to the brim and I will miss the frenzy that it brought. Once I finished the challenge, the feeling of accomplishment was unparalleled.

Thank you Blogchatter for the wonderful opportunity and all my blogger friends for the fun-filled ride.

 

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Image : https://www.pinterest.com/kjsung/woman-writing-or-painting/

Posted in Uncategorized | 12 Comments

Zest for life!!

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It was a beautiful evening. Soft wind rustled the trees that otherwise stood gaunt and aloof. A petite young woman rambled on the pathway just outside the society entrance. A cute little girl, who must be five or six years old, held the woman’s hand and walked gleefully.

A dog sprinted along with them and all three of them were a picture of exuberance.

Slowly, they reached the road that stood right in front of the Rainbow Housing Society. The road was almost always bustling with vehicles and pedestrians. The woman clutched the little girl’s hand and went on to cross the road that was lively with the honks of cars and the light from the trucks that seemed to blind one’s eyes.

Just then the little girl let go of her mother’s hand and ran on the road. The mother called out to her shocked with fear. A speeding truck made its way towards the girl. As it was about to hit her with full force, the dog jumped in from nowhere and pushed the girl on the pavement. The truck screeched its brake and came to a sudden halt but not before it had run down the hapless log. The entire scene unfolded in a few seconds.

The woman ran towards the little girl and hugged her profusely.

A large crowd gathered at the sight of the accident. The woman looked at the road and started crying vehemently. The little girl too wailed at the sight.

The dog lay on the road soaked in blood. He was no more.

“The dog saved your daughter’s life. He jumped in and pushed her or she would have been hit.”

People exclaimed similar laments and an ambulance was called.

The dog was a black coloured Labrador.

His name was Bruno.

Yes, you are right.

It was me.

Today, I decided to tell you about myself.

I was a pet dog and stayed with the little girl Rhea her mother and her father. We were a happy family. Rhea was extremely fond of me and I had seen her since the day she was born. She was like a baby to me.

We moved into the Rainbow Housing Society some years ago and I absolutely loved the place. I would loiter around with Rhea every evening and look at all sorts of people staying under one roof. I was always curious to know more about them. But, who knew what went on in their lives behind those closed doors. I was happy observing them sometimes taking a stroll in the park, sometimes peering from their balconies and sometimes walking hurriedly at the onset of each new day.

Life was blissful.

Then, on that fateful day, I lost my life. But, I had no grudges about it because I died saving baby Rhea. I could not have asked for a better death.

But, even after my death I was left to wander through the alleys of Rainbow Housing Society.

Why?

I had no plausible answers to this question. May be He knew how I wished to unravel the various layers of human life. So, he let me fulfill this wish in my afterlife.

But, I am grateful to the power who gave me this opportunity to study the life of the residents of the Rainbow Housing Society at close quarters.

I got to tell so many tales being the invisible force that I had turned into.

There were stories of grit, perseverance, love, resilience and I witnessed humans in all their shades. Some left me inspired, some left me despondent while some left me awed.

But, I hope that we can all draw inspiration and life lessons from each story that unfolded in the myriads of houses that stood in the Rainbow Housing Society and live our lives with zest and make each day count.

With this thought, I think it is now time for me to bid adieu!!

 

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(I am taking part in  and today is the twenty sixth day of the challenge. Today’s letter is ‘Z’).

Image: https://www.etsy.com/ie/listing/105678975/black-labrador-art-labrador-retriever

 

Posted in A to Z, Novella, Short Story, Social Lens | 9 Comments