Hope

 (This is an old story which I think fit quite well with the new Weekly Writing Challenge on writing a Descriptive Piece)
There is something special about the morning today. The warm sun envelopes her like a soft blanket and discourages her from getting out of bed. The chirping of the birds sounds like a sweet lullaby to her sleepy ears. But she does not let this dampen her plans for the day. She soaks in the tub for a good hour or so, acknowledging the aromatic genius of the bath salts. The freshly laundered Turkish towel feels like cotton wool against her cheeks. Donning her favourite skirt and blouse, she is off to the beach for the ritualistic walk.

The air tastes salty. She can feel silken sand caressing her naked feet. The waves create a beautiful symphony as they crash along the shore. The gentle wind blows about; whispering sweet nothings in her ears. The seagulls call to one another in the far off sea. She imagines young couples walking hand in hand with slow lazy steps. There will be the older children making sand castles and the younger ones parading as sentinels to prevent the destruction of the castles. There is the sound of laughter and merriment coming from all directions – everyone seems to be reflecting her happy state of mind. A hot lemon tea reinvigorates her to the core and she gets back the zing in her step.

Wrapping a jacket tightly around her, she proceeds to her favourite restaurant at the end of the beach. The smell of roasted corn kernels wafts through her senses, creating a tantalizing effect. Without referring to the menu, she orders for the usual. The spluttering of the oil as the bacon rashers sizzle in the pan, the sound of the eggs being gently cracked to make a fluffy omelette, the smell of fresh scones being removed from the oven – all promise to deliver as well as always. She takes a moment to take a deep breath as the food is placed in front of her before digging into the gastronomic pleasure. As a celebration for the advent of this wonderful day, she decides to order a beer instead of the regular dose of raspberry and banana milkshake with extra cream and cherries. The beer tastes like drops of sweet poison sliding down her parched throat.

She is aware of everything going on around her but nothing is successful in perturbing her today. The cars seem to be honking in a weird sort of melody. The clashing of pots and pans, clinking of cutlery, water droplets from an open tap falling in perfect rhythm in the bare kitchen sink, the whirring sound of the radio being tuned, the drone of the ceiling fans, the constant bickering between the waiters and the kitchen staff, the well-timed snoring coming from the adjacent table and the occasional pop of a beer can being opened – all seem to be contributing to orchestrate a perfect harmony.

The way through the fields to the church is her favourite part of the town. The grass swishes under her feet, still wet from the dew last night. Many church goers wish her on her way to the church, and she politely returns the greetings. The church bell gongs and startles her for a moment. She thanks God for this wonderful day and the promise it brings to fulfill her hopes and desires. The sanctity among the church walls calms her, as if asking her to be patient for just a little while more.

She walks to the old age home that she visits every week and spends the afternoon with the elderly. No one fails to notice her excitement, flushed cheeks and the radiant smile. They all are extremely happy for her – she has been waiting too long for this day to arrive. A quick lunch follows and she is on her way back home, after a stopover at the bakery. She purposely takes a longer route across the bridge over the creek. The croaking of a lone frog indicates the arrival of monsoons. She bites into a delicious brioche, strolling through an apple orchard and over a small hillock, where she used to sit for long hours till her mother would come to pick her up after work. But she does not have the time to sit – there is good news waiting to be delivered to her and she does not wish to tarry. She wants to stand on this very hillock and scream out the news to one and all – it is going to be the most memorable day of her life.

On reaching home, she is so deliriously excited that she begins to shiver slightly and has to be helped by her mother to put on the seat belt in the car. Each minute of the drive stretches for what seems like hours. She continuously fidgets with the hem of her skirt as she waits for the verdict to be delivered. The long wait has been extremely excruciating and she knows she surely deserves this chance to happiness.

She can hear her mother’s voice whispering softly and the raspy voice of the other person, as she impatiently walks up and down the corridor; but nothing is audible. By the time she hears her mother approaching, she is shivering so badly that she has to hold on to a chair to steady herself.

“C’mon mom, spill the beans”, she blurts, unable to contain her excitement.

“I’m sorry honey, the doctor said there wasn’t a match. Probably there will be a donor next year……”.

But the next few words by her mother fall on deaf ears as she tries to make sense of the situation. For six years she had looked forward to receive a favourable news, but the unfair world comes crashing down on her head. She wants to scream and wake up from this awful dream. But a sudden hush sweeps over her and she regains her composure. “Yes mom, I’ll get a donor next year”, is what she manages to feebly say.

Once again she is left to fight this darkness alone. Dejected, she steps out of the hospital wearing her large black sunglasses and back to where she was…

I Chickened Out

The last week of October was a busy one for me. I had a novel to write.

 

A brief background of what I am talking about –

Last year, I found a few of my fellow bloggers waxing eloquent about NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month. It is a competition of sorts where you write a novel of 50,000 words (or more) on any topic/genre of your choice in a matter of 30 days. Random ramblings or serious script writing, it doesn’t matter what you write. The point is to write. I was so kicked about it. Unfortunately I was too late to participate last year and decided that I would get set and write the next time definitely.

ab2

Opportunity presented itself when I found NaNoWriMo updates for the month of November. I promptly registered myself and began thinking about a plot line (which involved scouring online articles for story ideas). How difficult could it be? You just had to connect finger to keyboard and type away to glory, keeping a daily/weekly word count in mind, There are writer forums and discussions and tips and all sort of material floating around that can help one have an awesome novel writing experience. I had a couple of plot lines in mind and couldn’t wait to start writing.

On the morning of 1st November, 2013, when I was officially supposed to begin writing, I paused. Erm,..maybe I need to refine the plot line a bit more. I’ll start writing tomorrow.

On the morning of 2nd November, 2013, I obviously couldn’t write. It was Dad’s birthday and I had stuff to do.

On the mornings of 3rd & 4th November, 2013, I couldn’t write because It was Diwali (The grand Indian festival of lights, sweets, firecrackers, merriment and family get togethers).

On the morning of 6th November, 2013, I deleted my NaNoWriMo account, Who was I kidding. Enough of excuses.

 

I’ve been wanting to write a novel. I don’t care if it stays collecting dust in obscure shelves of unknown bookstores. I want to feel the satisfaction of having completed something that has been at the back of my mind for so long. Someday I will – sooner than later.

 

Maybe I’ll keep signing up on platforms like NaNoWriMo and never completing what I set out to do. Years maybe, if I can resist the temptation to write for that long. Maybe I’m right when I think I don’t have it in me to write a novel. But how will that be confirmed unless I START writing one. I think I (mis)judged myself too soon. I ought to give myself a chance. Once in a while.

 

I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. Nothing in life is easy. But that’s no reason to give up. You’ll be surprised what you can accomplish if you set your mind to it. After all, you only have one life, so you should try to make the most of it.

– Louis Sachar

 

It is a horrible feeling to know you have failed even before trying. So go ahead and do what your heart tells you, and give that cross-questioning brain a much-needed vacation. It is ok to fail after having given your best shot. You’ll still be happy for having tried.

 

Note to self: Read the last two lines every time self-doubt raises its ugly head.

 

This Story Has 3 Sides

(Written for Weekly Writing Challenge : This week’s challenge is to tell the same story from two or more unique perspectives in whichever format you want)

 

The scene: Stark hospital room with a female patient.

In a white bed I lie

Revisiting old memories, happy & sad

Clock ticks as life ebbs

Clock ticks as life ebbs

I smile as the end seems near now

A beckoning arises from the beyond

Woman – The one with all the time, all the enthusiasm but no energy.

 —

The scene: Stark hospital room with a female patient, her husband holding her hand.

They say time heals

But it only deepens the sorrow

My love fades before my eyes

My love fades before my eyes

She smiles to suggest she is ok

My eyes smile back as the heart cries

Husband – The one with all the energy, all the time, but no enthusiasm.

 —

The scene: Stark hospital room with a female patient, her husband holding her hand as the doctor hurries to check the patient’s reports.

I rush past my duties

Mechanically, emotionlessly

Need to catch the matinee show

Need to catch the matinee show

Apart from the drama unfolding in the room

This job defies emotional indulgence

Doctor – The one with all the enthusiasm, all the energy but no time.

  .

 

 

 

 

 

Criticism never kills

(Written for Daily Prompt – Tell us about the harshest, most difficult to hear — but accurate — criticism you’e ever gotten. Does it still apply?)

 p20121127-095213“Writer? You want to be a writer? Where has that sprung from? Can you even write?”, Dad asked me incredulously.

This was a question, yes, but it stung me as though judgement had been thrown in to my face. But then again, I knew better than getting miffed with Dad. I had not shared a word of what I wrote with my parents, or anyone else for that matter. So obviously, I couldn’t expect a better reaction when I told my parents that I wanted to be a writer – a copywriter specifically.

Mom gave me a look which said “There goes my daughter with one of her harebrained ideas which she won’t see through till the end…again!” She suggested I get a regular job (in line with the masters degree in marketing I possessed) and then write as a by-the-way thing. I stood my ground.

I wanted to be a full-time writer.

But then, my parents’ reaction forced me to question my career decision again. Did I have it me to be a writer? Would I stick with this choice? Did I really possess the kind of imagination that might interest people in reading my writing? Luckily for me, the strangling question of will I earn enough? never occurred to me. I sought creative satisfaction over material comfort. I’d rather be happy with my limited amount of money than be rushing through a round-the-clock job that leaves me with no mental peace.

That was the last time, however, that I questioned my choice. And thankfully, neither did my parents.

Today, I’m glad I took that step and listened to my heart. I’m glad I made friends with words. I’m glad I’m doing fairly decently in my chosen field.

And it feels so nice when I see Dad sharing a piece written by me on Facebook 🙂

I Am (my own) Rock

(Written for Daily Prompt)

Self Portrait by Rishal Bhide

Self Portrait by Rishal Bhide

With self reliance comes a great responsibility. There is no one to blame for that wrong decision you made, no one to question when things don’t go according to the plan, no one to lean on in times of distress.

But, there also comes a great sense of freedom. Of being independent. Of being responsible for your own actions, and their own outcomes.

I am that kind of person. I don’t like to burden someone else with my life’s issues. That is something I have to deal with on my own. And most times, I do a fine job of it. Writing helps me a lot these days. Writing about what I feel, why I feel that way, unspoken words – all find their way into my stories (maintained in a separate private blog). At the end of the day, you need an outlet – and writing is mine.

However, it does get difficult to grapple with issues especially when I am down on emotion. But what is gained from such experiences is the ability to take a multi-sided view of situations. I look at things from different perspectives even when the situation concerns other people. At least for me, it helps me empathize with them in a more effective manner.

But the downer on this is I come across as someone who doesn’t share stuff with others (which I obviously am). I see people trying hard to get through to me, while I fight to keep them at an arm’s distance. Don’t want to  too many people getting to close to me, and in the process getting hurt.

This has miffed a lot of my closed ones. I’m trying to strike a balance somewhere.

Sometime soon.

If wishes were horses…

(Written for #FWF: Free Write Friday)

This week’s FWF prompt is a word bank: blanket – falsetto – cumbersome – cinema – coins

~~~~~~~~~~

mother-and-daughter

They returned from the cinema house to their shabby home,

Dreaming of London, Paris, New York and Rome.

“Mama why can’t we live in bungalow like the movie stars”, asked young Jill

“Instead of this rundown down place on a lonely hill”

“But we live in such a lovely house,” argued Mary

With a wide open playground and trees full of cherry”

“But this rain taps annoyingly on the tin roof all night”

Oh but the wonderful rhythm it gives to our songs is just perfectly right.

“Mama why can’t we eat cheese and pasta and the delicious risotto?”

“But that doesn’t beat the taste of our garden veggies, eh?”, Mary asked, acutely aware of her own falsetto

“I too want to be rich movie star and wear pretty frocks”

“Dream high pretty girl”, said Mary, counting the pennies stashed in some torn socks.

“Why can’t I come with you Mama, it scares me to be alone when all is dark outside”

“Honey the stars will give you company tonight, I’ll soon be back by your side”

It was not an easy job to have these cumbersome conversations all day long

Life would have been so nice if it was just one happy song

How Mary wished she could be like the other mothers and not live a life of lies

And tuck her baby under the blanket each night and sing her lullabies

She put on her fishnet stockings and corset and whipped a brush through her hair

“Life is unfortunately not a movie, little one”, her tear whispered in the air.

~~~~~~

Out in the Blue

(Written for Friday Fictioneers)

Photograph by Douglas M. MacIlroy

Photograph by Douglas M. MacIlroy

“I’m a bird Mommy”, Jimmy had squealed.

“The airplane is flying, not us!” Julia had replied, her knuckles white from clutching the armrest.

“I know we’re birds Mommy, you and me”, Jimmy had whispered.

Julia was white as a sheet. But she had to do this. For Jimmy. Oh how her boy had loved to fly! And fly he did – straight in to an unfortunate mountain last summer.

Julia held her breath as the countdown began.

“3…2…1…JUMP”

She squealed and skydived right into the arms of the blue sky.

“We’re really are BIRDS!”, she shouted at an imaginary speck thousands of feet below – which looked like her son in a wheelchair.

A chance to live

(Written for Alastair’s Photo Fiction)

If the rumours were true, I was on my way to get the key to eternal happiness. I was desperate at the time. Exhausted with my broken life. Seeking redemption.

“Find the purple flower with a red shadow growing around the roots of the tallest tree on the banks of the Ganges”, the cherubic monk had said.

It took me 8 months, 21 days, 5 hours and 33 minutes. But I did find the flower.

17-07-july-21st-2013

Photograph by Alastair Forbes

“Run towards the end of this platform and you will see –”

I didn’t wait for him to finish. I ran as I had never run before. The sweet taste of freedom on my lips.

Closer and closer to the darkness. The flower gripped in my sweaty palm.

I was out of breath by the time I opened the Great Oak Door.

What lay ahead surprised me.

“THAT is the key to life’s secret!”, I laughed aloud. Why hadn’t I thought of this before? It was the simplest answer.

What I saw was a –

.

.

.

Look inside you. Maybe you won’t take that long to find your key. 

 

The Return

(Written for Alastair’s Photo Fiction)

“It’s been seven years but that vile woman STILL won’t leave your mind. Get out of my house!”, Erica screamed furiously, spit fountains flying around unabashedly.

Two strong forces occupied the room. She, the erupting volcano. I, the calm sea.

I didn’t want to lie to myself again.

Photograph by Alastair Forbes

Photograph by Alastair Forbes

I walked, then jogged and finally ended up running – excited like an eager teenager on his first date.

Our favourite lane. It felt like home. Every leaf and stone seemed familiar. This bend was where we first met, that tree we shared our first kiss under, and those steps led to the church where we…

I felt her presence before she called out. Her perfume made me go weak in the knees, even after all these years. She still looked exactly like the photograph in my wallet.

Lauren – my wife. If only she would have me back.