On a high !!

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I woke up with a start.

I heard loud voices which became even more prominent in the stillness of the night.

Taking long strides I followed the sounds and moved towards the bizarre noises.

I found myself standing on the second floor. Flat 206 was the humble abode of three young girls. All three of them were independent, sassy women who worked in premier organizations.

They stood out in their chiseled frames and embellished faces and many a times I looked at them in amazement but at the same time wondered what they must actually look like.

They would be busy on weekdays and weekends would be like a big outstretched party. I had long realized that in these big cities human beings spent their lives clutching on to these two days of the week.

For these girls weekends were characterized by a wave of gratification galore. Music and liquor flowed freely and unabated and soon everyone was inebriated enough to fall in a trance of sorts.

The residents on the second floor many a times complained about the loud noises but the girls were relentless and unapologetic. They claimed that just like their male counterparts, they too had the right to live their lives the way they wanted.

Fellow residents could not help but turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the weekend shenanigans of the girls.

They were mostly concerned about the fact that a number of male acquaintances too were a part of their weekend adventures.

So, as I heard those loud voices, I was worried for the safety of the girls. I looked around and was happy to see that a group of people were headed towards the house.

They vehemently and with a sense of urgency banged the door.

The door was opened by one of the girls and as they peeked in, they realized that a scuffle between the girls and two lanky young men was on.

The house was in a royal mess and there were liquor bottles strewn everywhere.

One of the feisty men intervened and the boys grabbed their belongings and fled a quick escape.

“They suddenly started misbehaving and coming on to us. But we would have managed. Sorry for the noises though”, one of the girls who looked disheveled and white with fear, said appearing to be restrained.

“How much do you know these men? You realize things could have got really ugly. Why do you have to misuse your independence? There are other ways to feel and exhibit that you are empowered. Why risk your life?”

One of the neighbours who was taking the lead, exclaimed trying to sound as calm as possible.

“If you do not behave as mature individuals, we will have to intervene and ask you to leave the society”, he said with an air of finality while the girls looked at him dismayed.

I looked at the three women who were in a sorry state. They were in stark contrast to the feisty and confident women I marveled at in the day.

I abhorred those men who failed to respect women, the brunt of which was borne by the fairer sex.

What freedom meant for this generation, I wondered

Were we being unfair in treating men and women or while trying to create an equilibrium our ideas of equality had botched up?

As always, I had no definite answers and I took a sigh of relief that at least they were unscathed for now.

Tomorrow though would be another day in the Rainbow Housing Society.

 

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

Image : https://fineartamerica.com/featured/life-of-the-party-dandre-brooks.html

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Nostalgia !!

 

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The month of May had descended upon Rainbow Housing Society in full glory. Days had turned warmer and the sun shone brighter than ever.

I could feel languor engulf me from all fours and inactivity had become the order of the day. The Society appeared calmer than ever as, owing to the yearly summer vacations, children were away on a holiday soaking in the joys of idle days.

It was one of those summer afternoons when I saw him moving towards the elevator. I had seen him earlier too but he was always accompanied by a woman and two little brats.

Today, he was alone for a change. I knew he resided in one of the flats on the first floor as the corridor facing his dwelling was my favourite joint since last few weeks. It was cooler as the sun rays did not directly fall over the corner house corridor. I would sprawl comfortably and get respite from the scorching heat.

As he walked towards his house, I followed him. He opened the door and I realized that he was alone. I assumed that his family would be out of town as I had not seen his children since a week or so.

Few days passed and one day, as I was about to fall asleep, I saw him walking towards his house but today he was not alone. He was accompanied by a woman who must be in her thirties. She had a shiny countenance and looked pretty with her thick black hair and large hazel eyes. She looked resplendent in a bright mauve saree.
I had never seen her in the Society compound earlier and before I could ogle further, she went in with him.

I was curious. What was she doing here in his house when his wife and kids were away? As the errant thought seeped in my mind, I mentally chided myself for turning into humans who would have missed no opportunity to gossip and make presumptions under similar situation.

Nevertheless, I wanted to know more about the saree clad woman and so I stepped in. There in the living room which was tastefully set up, I could see both of them talking animatedly while sipping tea.

“The house looks good. And despite the fact that your wife is away, I must say you have kept it well. You used to be so callous back then. I could never picture you being associated with cleanliness.”

To this, he replied, “Well, people change. They evolve with the vagaries of time. You have changed too. I could never imagine you wearing a saree. You used to be tomboyish and so clumsy. I wonder how you manage to walk in this attire with such élan.”

“Should I ask you something?”

He looked at her for a couple of minutes and then said, “Yes, go ahead.”

“Are you happy?”

She continued , “When Priya told me that you were in this city, I was dubious about meeting you. Though, both of us moved on and carved separate lives, I always kept you in my prayers. I always wondered if you had found happiness”.

He smiled and then said, “Happiness is relative. Yes, I have a full life. I have a loving wife and two adorable children I dote upon. But, to be honest, I do remember you  at times and wonder how life would have been if circumstances would have been in our favour. Are you happy?”

She kept looking towards the window with a faraway look in her eyes.

Gradually, she got up and said, “I have a fulfilled life too. I would not lie by saying that I never think about you. But, I guess I would fall into a pit of darkness, if I begin to brood over the ‘what ifs’. I wish I could have met your wife and children. But, do come to visit me if you happen to be in my city.”

She walked towards the door while he walked behind her with weary steps. Their eyes meet for a while and though they do not say anything, silence speaks a thousand words.

She walks away and he stands there for a minute and his reverie is broken unceremoniously by the ringing of his phone.

“Yes. I am good. How are the kids? Yes, I had lunch. The cook had come on time.”

It did not take me long to understand that I had witnessed the meeting between two old lovers who could not spend their lives with each other. Circumstances had made them choose different destinies.

Love is a strange emotion in the human world. It may be withered like old flowers but the scent lingered long after to make its presence felt.

Was it better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all? The age old question loomed large in my mind and yet again I was left utterly aghast at the intricacies of human emotions.

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

Image: http://nicksavides.com/paris/a-couple-sitting-on-a-bench-in-the-place-des-vosges/

 

 

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Marriage !!

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The old couple resided in one of the flats on the third floor. The two of them were in their late fifties and they were at that stage in life when their children had flown from the nest and when they had all the time in the world to sit back, take a pause and gloat over the journey that they had undertaken and glide on to the next phase of life with renewed anticipation.

Every morning I would see them walk briskly in the walking area. They seemed content and in sync with each other. Being with each other for almost a lifetime does make you each other’s soul mates in the true sense of the word, I would often wonder.

The man had a receding hairline but he was fit for his age. He had a quiet air around him and he seemed like a man of few words. The woman had a yellowish pallor but had long beautiful hair which cascaded on her back. I could see tinges of grey which peeked unsuspectingly though it appeared that she did not give much thought to how she looked.

Life went on with a weary pace in the Rainbow Housing Society as summer had made its unsavory appearance and the days were filled with languor.

One of these days, I saw a lot of commotion on the floor where the old couple lived. I realized that the old couple had guests. Their children were home. I knew that they had a daughter and a son. Both were married as during the Christmas break the children had visited their parents.

Today, as I was walking down the corridor that lay next to the old couple’s flat, I heard noises. It seemed as if someone was shouting at the top of his voice. Whenever the children visited the old couple, the house used to become a picture of glee. But not today or so it seemed.

Immediately, I barged in.

There, in the living room the old couple sat next to each other with a glum look on their face while a man and woman both in their thirties, sat in front of them. I at once recognized them as the son and daughter of the old couple.

The man, who seemed displeased said, “Baba, how can you take such a decision at this point in life. You had a beautiful life together. Now that you need each other, you are calling it quits. Why?”

To this the woman who looked equally agitated exclaimed,” What is wrong Aai? You do not love each other anymore?”

“Beta, ours was an arranged marriage. When we got married, we realized in a few months that we had hardly anything in common. But, by then, you were born and those were the times, when family honor was important. So, we carried on living with each other. We did not despise each other but we did not love each other either. We had responsibilities then. But, now when both of you are settled and happy living your lives we do not find the need to be together anymore.”

The old woman continued, “Yes, your father is right. I know it is distressing for you. But, you will have to accept the truth. Your father wants to work with an NGO. And I want to travel and later on do that Art course in US. We wish to live our lives the way we want. Please, support us and let us take chances now that we can.”

I was flabbergasted as I listened to the entire conversation.

I had always pictured them as your typical husband and wife, haggard with the usual course of life. But, they were opinionated individuals who wanted to break free.

Will they find happiness once they would shatter the social obligations of togetherness? I turned around and wondered if marriage in the human world was a farce.

There was no definite answer to this question and it was not the first time that I was left bemused at the vagaries of the human world.

 

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

Image : https://www.oceansbridge.com/shop/artists/m/mao-mar/martin-henri/the-married-couple-study-for-reapers

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Love !!

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As the sun spread its rays on the inhabitants of the Rainbow Housing Society, the place would be abuzz with activity.  Each one heralded the new day with gaiety. Some houses echoed with the rhythmic spiritual music while some put on the latest Bollywood songs in full swing.

Morning descended and while some preferred to make way for the new day with commotion there were some who liked the solemn sound of stillness.

Amidst the morning cacophony, these two human beings would welcome each day with a wide smile and a heart filled with new vigour. The boy would wait outside the girl’s house each morning without fail. The girl would walk out grinning from ear to ear and they would hold hands oblivious to their surroundings.

The sight of them each day filled my heart with exuberance. If mornings were a witness to their togetherness, evenings were when they would sit huddled building castles in the air and meandering together.

Just outside the society entrance stood an array of trees. The tamarind tree was laden with fruit at this time of the year and I would often see the boy trying tooth and nail to gather the tangy tamarinds. He would not eat it himself but put them in a basket. They were meant for the girl who would be overjoyed at the sight of them. She would devour those tamarinds and the boy would seem content.

One day during the evening the boy apparently had a tiff with some other boys and it was followed by scuffles and angry allegations. The girl immediately came to his rescue, calmed the boy and made peace.

Though there were no major discords between the people of the Rainbow Housing Society, some unwarranted conflicts did raise their heads from nowhere. The issues were petty but they escalated to a point wherein intervention would become mandatory.

The lady on the first floor was perpetually miffed by the loud music played by the boys on the second floor. She would create a furore about it so much so that the Secretary had to jump in.

There were many such incidents of malice in the society and amidst all the hostility the boy and the girl went about being each other’s constant companion.

It did not matter to them that the music was loud.

It did not matter to them that the garbage was not picked up.

It did not matter to them that the watchman was often away.

It did not matter to him that the Ironing lady was charging too much money.

They loved to be together walking hand in hand oblivious to the numerous worries that held others captive. They were an epitome of innocence and the language of love was all that they understood.

The boy and the girl were deaf and dumb.

The boy was ten and the girl was nine.

Their unadulterated love filled my heart with mirth and I realized that love had no language. Humans took me by surprise each day, sometimes with their rancour while sometimes with their warmth and each day I marvelled at the gamut of human emotions that I witnessed and wondered what else I would be privy to in the days to come.

 

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

Image : https://fineartamerica.com/art/paintings/abstract+love

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Killed !

 

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It was way past midnight when I heard a thud which was so loud that I woke up with a start. As I woke up still half asleep, I felt that I saw a white shadow lurking outside the society entrance.

The watchman was snoring away to glory but the deafening sound made him stand up and startled, he ran inside.

The next day began on a morbid note in the Rainbow Housing Society as a life was lost. The sound that woke us from our carefree slumber was that of a girl falling from her fifth floor balcony. She fell to her death and the air felt macabre and heavy that morning.

A group of men in khaki uniform spread out in the society arena like swarm of bees. The residents were shocked and everyone seemed to be walking on tip toes as the Society which bustled with happy energy now wore a shroud of ghastly veil.

It was revealed that the woman who jumped to her death was a twenty five year old girl who had recently rented the apartment on the fifth floor. She supposedly committed suicide as she was depressed. She had been visiting a therapist, the Police had found out.

Though she was new to the Society, I remembered having seen her many times walking in and out of the Housing Society. She was many a times accompanied by a boy and they seemed like a happy couple.

I saw the boy two days after the fateful day. He looked aghast and grief stricken. His eyes were red and swollen and my heart went out to him seeing him so distraught.

I overheard a couple of people from the Society mention that he was the deceased’s boyfriend and that the Police was questioning him.

Eventually, the Police had reached to a conclusion that the girl did commit suicide as she had fallen in love with a boy who was from a different caste and her family was dead against her marrying him.

The boy conceded that they were depressed as they wanted to marry with the blessings of their parents. But, he kept on stressing that she was not so cowardly so as to end her life.

But, after a prolonged investigation and after interrogating the girl’s family and her boyfriend, the case was closed.

I had been deeply affected with the course of events. Having seen her as a vivacious young girl, I found it difficult to stop thinking about her. How desperate one must be that he/she would put an end to his/her life, I would wonder staying awake on many a nights staring at the star studded sky.

A few months passed. Life went back to normal in the Society.

Then, one day, I saw a middle aged man clad in a white kurta pyjama walk with long steps towards the elevator. I had a sudden urge to see what he was up to.

He reached the fifth floor and I was surprised to see that he opened the flat that used to be the abode of the dead girl.

I barged in as he shut the door hastily. Once inside, he took out his phone and dialed a number.

“Hello. Yes, I would be wrapping up the house today. I will take all her belongings. Once, I have moved her stuff, I will give you the key once and for all.”

I realized that he was making a call to the landlord and had come to vacate the house.

Just as I was about to turn, I heard him speak again, this time in a triumphant voice,

“Yes, I have reached. I will clear the dues. She wanted to live on her own and marry that boy. She said she could make her own decisions. Bull shit! Since when did  the women in our house start asserting their choices? I would not have had that girl disgrace me in front of the whole clan. Who would have elected me as the Sarpanch knowing that my niece is marrying a lower caste boy? I am happy I pushed her off the balcony that day. She just would not relent.”

I stood there too shocked to move. Could someone be so heartless so as to kill their own kin in the name of honour? What was this world where the false honour held more importance than your child’s happiness? I was appalled and agitated.

I stepped out of the flat glaring at the man who had committed the monstrous crime of killing one of his own. I knew what had to be done. Somehow, I had to draw the boy’s attention to this man so that he pays for his deeds and so that the hapless girl gets justice.

Human world had strange notions in the name of religion, financial stature, caste and what not. Today, as I closed my eyes, I could picture the girl’s radiant face and for the first time I profusely thanked the Almighty for making me a dog.

 

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

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