Sunday, December 23, 2018

The sparkling Diwali

“This ought to be sparkly enough”, I added another line of the led strip. My eyes hurt from the constant flicker but who cared. I would mumble but my family wouldn't let me have that too.

“Just leave it, I will find some more decorative lights. I ordered online and they came yesterday too”, the excitement on my sister's face reflected a grimace on my face. “Who twirls and claps their hands on seeing so much of eyes-hurting artificial lighting. Hello! May be worry a little about light pollution this Diwali”, I talked within. Maybe my soul heard my heart's voice. Or was it my mind speaking? I could never make it out definitively.

“Throw me that you little devil. I will lay them out along the margins you penciled. No one can afford to miss the design”, I tried to colour down my sarcastic tone. Sometimes I feel like a devil who has nothing but a weapon of sarcasm which she wields incessantly, all the time with no concern for possible whiplash. Yeah backlash would be much softer.

My mother could have been a professional decorator-slash-designer in an alternate universe. And my sister a complementing and worthy assistant. But my disdain for too much cheeriness is incentive enough to keep away and be just another sheep in the large flock which comes to my house to celebrate Diwali.

“Na na, you go. You need to lay out the diyas along the railings, and the rangoli, and don't forget the perimeter wall”, she almost sounded authoritative. But it was actually a much better fit for me. I've always loved the calm of a lit diya. Something about how close to nature it is. Crude cotton wisps rolled to form wicks soaked in the home-pressed flaxseed oil. All that contained in an earthen pot shaped like a fat flame itself.

I took as many diyas as my tray could hold and started laying them down. After I was finished with the perimeter, I looked up and my eyes couldn't believe the magic. My whole house was sparkling like a diya surrounded by many little diyas. The gals did it! Oh how beautifully they mixed the artificial with natural. No clog out of place in an intricately beautiful sparkling machine. Yet a non-machine. Ethereal. How did I ever call it eyes-hurting!
Prompt: Use the word "Sparkly".

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Dumb and struck

She was totally frantic. Moving frantically across from one end of the room to the next. Running the same line over and  over. Mumbling. Prima facie, she was a little dopey. The glass in her hand had bourbon and the little round-edged cubes which must have been full-sized at some point.

“You know…”, she almost jumped at me when I entered the room barely comprehending her centre of gravity. With that girl around you for two years, you know she is just struggling to express.

Everytime she scratched her hair near her temple and lunged, I knew she was fighting to wrest words from thin air. I knew I had to feed her those words. But which ones?

“You know when we talk to so many people and read so many books, we start to know the way people behave”, she raised her eyebrows at me to solicit approval for conversation to continue. I nodded along.

“You know how things go out of control when you start to care”, her words were slurring. I wanted to go along but we have had strong disagreements on the topic in the past. The brief pause felt like the moment of disconnect with potential to ruin the chances of a possible conclusion. “Damn the world and its hypocrisy and its darkness and its pessimism”, the words were popular in her vocabulary. I may have been desperate but I instantly knew they were random with no relevance. I had taken a cheap shot. She looked at me in total confusion which moulded into derision the way she constricted her eyes. If any words were to be spoken, I had to take myself out and I hung my head down. Maybe then she could forgive if I didn't make eye-contact. Yet I could feel her eyes piercing me with sharp judgement.

But when you know a girl you know the reason behind the crinkle on her forehead, fold between her eye and her cheek, the way her lips move. My sense organs knew she was turning away. And I couldn't let her.

I rose my head, slid my hands around her waist while my left hand ended at her back. It was more of my admission than it was hers. I was in love with her. She pushed me slowly and I let myself get wheeled away slightly. Silently. She was not angry rather her cheeks were damserk. No word would remain unsaid now.

“This. How is it that when I see you my heart stops. When you are not around, I hate for so many reasons but the moment you show up all I want is to put my hand into yours while my head clings to your chest and we dance. For hours. A day. Days and then forever. I can't explain any of this”, I knew it was my moment.

Prompt : Use word and its meaning as plot's basis.
CATALYST = an agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action

Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Pianist

I always enjoyed the private shows she put. The ones where she sang in solitude. I would hide behind the taupe wall at the entrance so she couldn't see. Its not my fault. She never talked. To me or any other being. Maximum she'd do is smile and nod along in yes or no. But when she sang I swear the nightingales would burst open their hearts just to emulate her. I knew she was a cool person. I have a connection with people, they communicate with me with their eyes. Plus only the good ones can have such blessed voice. I wanted to butt in. But somehow, I gathered myself before I went pricking on.

"I have seen you staring at her. This is the third time. I will tell her if you don't stop. You are a lurker, aren't you?", I was flabbergasted by the vocabulary of a ten-year old. I had just been accused of something almost criminal. And, so I needed to snub it away before she shrieked. Guess I was lurking.

"No I wasn't. We have known each other for a long time. I just come by to hear her play while she teaches you. I don't have a kid and I don't want to disturb you all while you learn". I must have assuaged her, "We'd hang together but she doesn't talk much, does she?".

"Yea, she's pretty cool. And really really smart. She plays but also teaches us about animals and plants and sun and earth. Better than Miss Patterson at school", I was intrigued. Had I not heard her sing I'd have assumed she is speechless. But now I know she just doesn't talk to adults.

"So what did you guys talk about today", I felt like a sleuth on a mission. I must have realised it but it was time to put all the small-town gossips to rest. "Yesterday we talked about elephant. She has two elephants. One is grey and other is blue. Day before that we talked about frogs. You know the prince and the frog", I smiled at the tenderness of the age.

"So what about today?", children are so easy to talk to. And honest. "Today. We  talked about goats and helped her stack them up so nicely on the piano. She usually cleans them by herself".
"That’s a weird place for a goat" I thought I  murmured. Yet it made across to the brown-eyed Jas. Not Jazz, she had made it very clear.

"Why?", Jas had her eyebrows raised.

"You know putting stuff down everytime you play and up when you are done, seems like a waste to me, don't you agree?", I made a point.

"No silly. She plays cello and guitar. She says once I am done with my cello lessons she'll teach me to play guitar."

"No no I have heard her play piano all the time. She just plays cello for fun. For you guys.", I was confused. That was queer because I could tell her piano was way better than other instruments.

The theatre was almost wrapped up. It was time to leave. Jas also left with her mother.
The next day felt like the judgement day. I had to know the truth. I went up to her and introduced myself. She recalled who I was, thanks to the little confabulations of past where under bewitchment I would monopolize the conversation and she'd nod.

"Why don't you put up public shows? People deserve to hear you", I have been in awe of her for so long. She smiled, "Ah I am no good. I am a teacher not a performer."
"No I am talking about your piano. I have heard you. Please don't deny it", it was as if I needed to reveal her story. Today.
She staggered but confessed, "Oh that, no that's nothing."

I wouldn't want her to blush and thus I continued my interview questions. If only I had the power to broadcast it or had been popular enough to post it on Facebook or Twitter.

"Who taught you?"

"Oh I had a friend. He was a magician. I was pretty wild then. He introduced me to the world of music", her gaze followed everything that related to music.

She wanted to rest her eyes at each of them, the ukulele, the guitar, the piano, the tambourine. And a notebook. She disconnected with me for a moment but I could see she was back to some beautiful memories.

Once she was back, "Oh he was a godsend. He and his music brought me to the world and gave me voice. My voice. He would take my fingers and place them on these keys himself. Single tap, smooth cords, however did I learn them. I can't play it. This ukulele's more my style", she looked at the piano with lust. That was clear.

"What happened then?", I didn't realise it could be a privileged information. I was swayed along with her mystery.

She looked at me with snap judgement. A distinct shock. I woke up to reality since. My lips were sewed shut. I thought I was speaking to explain my faux pas but there were no words.

"He left for Nashville", her statement had fleeting words.

I tried to dampen the situation. I wouldn't want to be the one who hurt her. Yet with childlike petulance I demanded "Could you play something anything for me?" What if I get a private show solely for me. Yet I was totally mindful of getting her mind off any unease.

She slipped along and started dusting off the things that were standing up. I had caused the situation to deteriorate. Apologies weren't going to help especially when I had overstepped her hospitality. I was disappointed in me. All I could do was turn around and slip away to not sadden her anymore.

Two steps in, she called out "Wouldn't you stay?" I didn't know how to balance the loony excitement and redemption.
Prompt 1: That’s a weird place for a goat.
Prompt 2: Tone - "Redemption"

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

With love, Death

What of her, a broken one.
So her table, pencil and soul.
With palpable weary
A sprightly turned into a ghost.

He never looked back at her,
She rose above. May be just
She could pen them in words.
An anthem for to feel less alone.

Pencil pierced sheet and another
And thump shuddered roaches from under
Still like corpse, she stared down the ground.
All I could do was watch from afar.

Death is not an embrace of life
Unless I be a new start from the cards.
But I can't let her choose now
Even when she's wise, I know.
Prompt 1: Start with  "If you wanted to set your life on fire there wasn't a better combination".
Prompt 2: Death's pov

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Freenie, the monster friend!

It was time for me to leave. Leave the comfort of darkness under the bed.
“Who was I hurting? No one!”, I was agitated. A life of selflessness and it is I who must give up her principles. It is all very confusing.

To take on the burden of teaching and informing the world is not an easy task. I always reminded myself of that. Only the toughie toughs can do that.

Jake and I have been pals since he was born. More like since he started crawling and then could stand up and finally move around. Before I signed up for the job, I made it abundantly clear to my employers that I would not go on scaring the little kid or kids I was going to be assigned to. It is not fair. But, I realized the kids also need to know about the demons and evils in the world.  So, I decided to appear apparition-y. I worked on my deportment. And, it worked. I would spread out like a whirl of shadow and eat jam crackers. He wouldn’t see that. Only me.  

But one thing was for sure even before me, Jake knew to fear darkness. And my only job was to let him lean in and befriend the darkness or may be slay me to overcome it. I would sacrifice myself for the cause. “Wasn’t that the whole purpose of it?”, I was keenly assured.

After few slaps and beatings from Jake’s mom and dad; some here some there, I most certainly could inculcate empathy within Jake. The day we became friends. He wanted to know why I was different from him? How could I diffuse in the air in a snap of finger? Did the job pay? And we would talk for an hour daily. At least. He was not a weird kid. I was just one among many of his friends. And, he wanted to lower the loneliness in my life. It was comforting. It was just the apt amount of interaction I was willing to make space for.

Since his high school, we started drifting apart. Academics, you see! I took on different jobs but would check up on him from time to time. We would talk for hours then at a stretch; discussing books, girls, teachers, cricket, and whatnot. And lie beneath his bed if I was tired.

Lately his demeanor has changed. Especially after he left for college. I discounted that he was an adult now. And further you stay from an adult, the better. Sam, my new buddy, his brother is friends with Jake. And, he keeps me informed about his DUIs, gambling and other tasty predilections. It is high time things changed. It is time to scare one ghoul into oblivion.

I can literally hear the derision in voices of my employers. “All talk talk talk, huh, Freenie!”, I can feel the disgust rising in my amorphous blob-shaped body. “Grrrr!”, I bobbed my head. But I have a job to do.

And that’s why I have least remorse for my plan. It is going to be so much fun. It involves a lot of time for me in the air, floating around, transparent. And, slapping around now and then whenever I am pissed by the degrading creatures of humanity. So. Very often.

Prompt 1: Start with "It was time for me to leave."
Prompt 2: POV of 'A monster under the bed'

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Mincy the Mouse

Mincy, the mouse was recently separated from his family. He was a sweet mouse. They were rushed out of the house of the messy couple on second floor. Mincy left at the last after making sure every other member was out. On their way down the stairs, they lost track of each other or atleast Mincy did. He couldn’t find the others. Scared, a little, he slid into the first door he found opened.

That was one slick, shiny looking place. Meredith, the owner was the sort who detested mess from far away and one who no one ever tried to mess with. The birthday party had almost ended. Leaving her closest few friends behind, everyone else had gone home. The floors and the corners were all spic-and-span. Mincy needed somewhere to lie low. With the meagre crowd in the living room, he found the bedroom to be empty. All, he had to do was slither across the hall past the house-guests and the host who were little drunk with the festivities and beer-bottle in almost every person’s hands.

He took small, swiveled steps. Few forward movements, few backtracks and he almost got through to the centre of the hall. This was an open zone. Openly vulnerable to the onslaught of the enemies. A possible scream in the house in very near future.  But, he made himself small into a lump of black-brownish and yeah, oh, yeah, he succeeded. He pushed forward, lumped, pushed forward, lumped. And, he was out of sight of the humans once again. In the bedroom, carefully planting himself in the corner and the bed between the night-lamp table and the wooden edge of the Maharaja-style bed on the left. In the loneliness, he stated missing his family. He was hungry but the present loss overwhelmed him.

It was the turn of the resolutions. She had to pick any number from the ones proposed by the guests and it was a tradition amongst them.

          Be a kook.

She never knew how to put a plate on the table crooked, never knew bills could be paid on the date of deadline and even after.

          Be a little aggressive towards her work colleagues she never liked.

The diligence with which she worked and the perfection she sought had made her more than the final touch-up artist to the workhorse with no special incentives, recognition. Nothing. It was really disrespectful but she drilled on.

          Go for a cave-dive this year.

She was a little claustrophobic. And, that intensified with the fear of water dripping down from the caves along its walls would make her numb.  

She chose the first. Others were life-altering if not performed adequately and she didn’t need any performance review with her manager or with her psychiatrist if she could avoid them.
“Meredith, Meredith!”, the chant filled the house. Certainly strong enough to distract Mincy but he didn’t move. He was comfortable, warm and satisfied if he could find food. Even strewn on the floors.
A definite course of action was chalked out for her. Kick few pieces of cake to the floor and let them there on the floor till the morning. She agreed for one piece. No point in wasting chocolate-drizzled cake with Belgian, Swiss, Zanzibar chocolate oozing from here and there. And, after everyone left. Test would be to check upon the next morning when Alicia would visit. Meredith was an honest soul though.

And, so she did.  The crumbs scattered in a small region near the foot of the backless sofa. She was pushing her limits. “Yay!”, she yelled with a cringe. She barely took a narrow turn towards bedroom before she took to her mops. Even before she got under wraps, she was wide-eyed looking almost into a dreadful darkness. She barely slept for one two hours.

Yet, in the morning, when Alicia dropped by to check on her, she woke up in a deadly astonishment to the living hall and absence of pie-crust and opened the door with a shriek.

“It’s gone, it’s gone! Come, see, its gone”, she was bewildered to the extent of crazy.  The noise woke Mincy up. He barely made sense of what was going on. Even while Meredith was disconsolate, she already had tens of swear-words out in the few minutes to wake Mincy. Bright-eyed. 

"You have to give me one more chance. They were all strewn around". Alicia didn't seem to distrust her. But she didn't realise the panic inside Mer that her fastidiousness was so overpowering even when it would lead her to lose a simple bet! But, what came as a bigger surprise to Mincywas how none of their minds led to the presence of a kin of Mincy's in the house. They didn't know Mincy ofcourse. He screeched a little, in alomst human voice. To let them know of his presence. But the thought of possible death or a harsh lockout from a warm house, his voice receded. 

That night she crushed some cookie leftovers like an Indian Juggernaut crushing his enemy who hurt her mother's pride. Mincy was around and the smell got him out. Tempted. But, he didn't want to be a part of the similar dramedy again the next day. May be more intense. 

Deep in night, he went near the sofa. Bit few specks, and collected the rest in a mound and bit some more. And, he waited for the morning to come. It came, Mer woke up, and rushed towards the living room. Just then he slid in front of Mer and started running around the house. "I am sorry, it was me... I am sorry", it was a chant. It was her turn now to witness the unthinkable. A mouse. In the house. That too a speaking one! "I enjoyed my time here. Let me out now please." He moved away to not scare her. And once she opened the door, he was out never to be seen again. Seeing him run down the stairs, she patted her right cheek almost to hide the blushing smile.



Thursday, August 16, 2018

Dance to the tune.

The life gets accustomed to a kind of calm when you are alone. And, everything around is just in place. No mess, no disorder, no clink-clank to get you out of your hibernation. This hibernation then leads to lethargy and finally a puddle of emotional upheaval. It’s a paradox really. And, she was the epitome. 

The life in city would be too active one would think, yet she managed to make an island of peace for herself. More like, one was created for her. She was a lonesome soul. Not too talkative, not too big of a sharer, so, it was assumed she would like the peace. Away from all hustle-bustle. Her fiancé, now husband, found for themselves that palace of solace. No one asked her for her opinion. Maybe he wanted it to be a surprise. But, too calming peace was now questioning every motivation of her fiancé.       
She had not gone out for a long time. Keeping aside those few neighborhood meets, much-needed sojourns to the nearest Gofers, she pretty much confined herself. She tried to talk with the few people around, but the small subset, and diminishing number of interactions made her feel more awkward than she ever was. She felt comfortable till she stuck to her 850 square feet. 

Though it was another irony that the only time she would be comfortable in talking to would be around Aisha, her next-door neighbor. Oh she loved to see how Aisha would just talk to everyone around her, turn everyone into chatterbox with her mere "Hello". She always wondered about the change she felt in her when she was around. She was happy, happy to share. "Why not in my own skin?", she always questioned herself.

It was a different Saturday today. She was going out. With her husband. For lunch. Thanks to the broken plumbing in the house and the constant whirring of the electric saw in Aisha’s house. The cacophony was creating undulating waves in their still life. She paired her ravishing red Perkins with those Louboutins. She didn’t even remember last time they had gone out and neither did she want to.

The lunch was silent. No melody to complete the experience. It was of course peaceful. The drinks helped a little. And then a lot. The husband kept broaching some political day-to-days. She nodded along and swilled down drinks as they came. His husband didn’t notice and no one was counting.

Nothing changed in the 3 hours they went out. The house looked same. She wished if colors had livened up, may be the tapestries would let the sunlight through. But, she instantly recoiled from the grim. She didn’t care. Much because of the whimsy of the night and those tall glasses. She felt serotonin, dopamine flowing through her head. Though she was unsure what they were or what they meant. The television programmes are the storehouse of half-baked information.

But, one thing sure had changed. Amid her alcohol-addled stupor, the whirring of the saw felt like a disruption to the rhythmic drips of the leaky faucet. It yielded resonance of some kind she sure liked. She started tapping her feet to it involuntarily, move her slender waist. Slowly, her neck was getting into the flow. She wondered if the last trace of the raspiness were gone. That way, she could even afford herself an ear-splitting leitmotif.

Maybe the posterity builds something like that with rhythm, melody, timbre and call it ‘music’. The word has a sonorous ring to it.  

Prompt1: “What if music didn’t exist?”
Prompt2: Gregarious(character trait) without using the word.