Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Last Temptation

Hesitatingly he stood before the rows of neatly stacked cans and bottles.
He licked his lips in anticipation.His taste-buds could almost savour the cool bitterness of chilled beer.Beads of sweat formed at his forehead as he tried to fight his dilemma.

He glanced outside in the direction of his car-as if willing it to magically transform into his therapist and physically drag him out of the store.

But there was no one with him at the moment.He was left to fend for himself.
 He weighed the possibilities-
 His wife was at work.He could finish off the beer in his car and chuck the bottle at a roadside bin and go home.He will sober up by the time Carol returned.She has to know nothing.
And besides what harm could 1 or even 2 bottles of beer do?Surely he could handle that much.
Deep within he knew that it was a shallow argument he was presenting before his own conscience.But then what other option did he have?The allure was too strong.


'Oh...screw it.' he thought and picked up 2 white cans from the rack.He looked around the store nervously as if half expecting someone to ambush him from behind.
He wiped his forehead on his sleeve and proceeded towards the counter.
His cell-phone vibrated twice.
'Dammit..this better not be Carol.' he swore thinking of his wife.
His home number flashed on the phone screen.
'Daddy....' a high-pitched shriek greeted him from the other end as he answered the call.
'Cheryl'-he whispered as if realizing something for the very first time.He felt as if he had been hit by a bolt of lightning.
He closed his eyes.
'I got an A in Math...I got an A...yayy' the voice was bubbling with childish excitement and enthusiasm.

He inhaled deeply,suddenly reminded of how badly he had missed this voice in the past half an year-how he had regretted losing out to his own animal desires-how he had vowed to start anew.
'Mommy said I can have ice-cream...can you bring some on your way home?Please..pretty please!'

Carol

His wife had never left him alone despite the repeated threats for divorce.Reluctantly,furiously,grudgingly she had always stayed by his side during his darkest nights.
How could he have been foolish enough to even consider throwing it all away again?

'Hmm....let's see now..what flavor do you want?' he replied in a mock-serious tone.
'The black currant one... ' the voice on the other end shouted excitedly.
'Sure thing cherrypie...you be a good girl and finish your homework okay?Daddy will be back in an hour..' he answered back and cut the call.
He placed the cans securely on the rack from where he had picked them up and slowly walked to the other side of the store.
What 6 months of rehab couldn't accomplish his 8 year-old daughter did easily with one phone call.
He smiled at the irony of it all.
Never again will he succumb to temptation.

 

P.S:I had originally intended to develop this idea into a 55-word fiction but then somehow I felt I couldn't do justice to the inner conflict that an addict faces in such a short span.That's how this version came into existence.

Sig 2

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cold morning sighs



The misty silhouette-
Of frozen mornings
Leaves impressions-
Outside my window.
I trace patterns-
Lost in a maze of thoughts,
Unaware-
Of how cold I’m.

The icy breath-
Of the North Wind-
Whispers in my ears.
I wonder what it says!
Maybe it, too, has a story to tell.

The flowers in the backyard-
Bloom for me,
For all.
And the sad faces-
Light up as if in revelry.

As dawn breaks-
Across the eastern horizon-
The sun paints the sky crimson.
My reverie is broken.
I yearn for some warmth,
Knowing at the same time-
I’m no longer cold.



P.S: The end of January is near yet the mercury level refuses to go up.The freezing weather seems to be in no hurry to bid adieu and as a result Kolkata continues to experience its coldest winter ever(arguably).Although the cold has never been as severe as the vicious Delhi chill.
I will tell you why I've loved every moment of this season- first of all it has enabled me to savor the heavenly bliss of snuggling inside a warm comforter and reading all day.And secondly it has rendered the use of warm jackets and coats absolutely necessary. (how else will I get to flaunt my winter wardrobe eh? :P)
There's however a single thing bugging me....Achoooo!
Yea that's right I caught a terrible cold...and that too when my college is about to resume classes.Talk about perfect timing! >_<
That aside this post is dedicated to this wonderful season which has painted the city in all its glorious colors this year.
I hope you have enjoyed your winter too! :)

Sig 2

Thursday, January 21, 2010

From the shadows

Here goes my 7th specimen of 55-fiction.Let me know your thoughts on it :)

She watched the road through her tinted shades.
The convoy of black limousines passed by the rows of silent mourners on the sidewalk-the president on his last journey.
A bead of tear trickled down her right cheek.
Nobody noticed.
No one knew the deceased president had an illegitimate daughter.






Sig 2

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Surprise Gift

1
'Yippie the old witch is dead' cooed Manisha the minute she opened the door to Jai.
Jai eyed her with a dumb-founded expression on his face.
Anyone would....given such a hectic day at office then being suddenly presented with the news of someone's death by his ecstatic wife.

'I'm talking about Mrs Gupta.' Manisha rolled her eyes.

'Oh HER.....' Jai slumped on the nearby couch looking immensely relieved.
For one agonizing moment he had thought his better half was talking about her mother-in-law.

'No more early morning bhakti sangeet or 60's hindi music or shrill shouting....ahhh' Manisha exclaimed while literally ballet-dancing her way to the kitchen.
'I can finally enjoy a life of peace and calm.....'
'Well what happened?' he asked fighting hard to keep a straight face.
'Apparently she had a stroke or something ....last night.They found her in the morning...'
'....As if that matters..I am just happy to know she is gone.Whew...' Manisha hummed to herself.

To any outsider Manisha's apparent euphoria over someone's death might have come as a shocker.But Jai was quite familiar with their eccentric(and now deceased) neighbor's obnoxiousness.So he didn't quite blame his wife.
They had shifted into this house 3 years back with the hope of getting away from all the noise and pollution in the heart of the city.
Manisha was a nature lover through and through,being a lass of the mountains.So it was difficult for her to adjust to her new life in the middle of a city bustling with activity.
But finally Jai had saved up enough money to be able to afford a decent-sized two-storied apartment in the greater part of the city.True his workplace was quite a distance away but he could make do with this little inconvenience.

'Anything to see her smile' he had thought at the moment.

But alas destiny had other plans!
2
Mrs Gupta was a 70 year-old widow who lived by herself in what could be called 'almost a mansion'.She was thin and shrivelled up like most old people are but her voice had surprising volume and strength.And she never hesitated to put it to use-be it for shouting at the paper-boy for being 10 minutes late or her domestic help if she spotted so much as a smudge on one of the dinner plates.
There probably wasn't a single soul in the neighborhood with whom she hadn't argued about something.
Vegetable vendors,the grocer,the night-guard-everyone had been at the receiving end of her wrath.
To put it in a word-she was notorious.
In the beginning when Manisha had been blissfully ignorant she had once made the mistake of ringing Mrs Gupta's doorbell with a bowlful of freshly made gajar ka halwa and a smile on her lips.

'I don't accept food from non-vegetarians.' she had said flatly and closed the door on Manisha's face.

The WAR began shortly after that.And Manisha was a fighter.
Unfortunately so was Mrs Gupta.
Initially Jai had thought that Manisha would calm down and let it go after a few days but he was proven wrong.
Their daily verbal battles went from bad to worse.

It began with-
Manisha:You are a horrible specimen of humanity.That is NO WAY to speak to anyone.
Mrs Gupta:Oh so now I'm supposed to learn manners from someone who is half my age?
Manisha:I'm younger than that.

or something along the lines of-

Manisha(poking her head out of the living room window):ARGH will you care to lower the volume?I DON'T WANNA LISTEN TO YOUR DAMNED BHAKTI SANGEET this early in the morning.....
Mrs Gupta(feigning ignorance):What did you say?I can't hear you....
Manisha(looking murderous):How do you listen to your stereo if you are so goddamn DEAF?

......and so on.

Sometimes Jai had the nagging suspicion that Mrs Gupta was thoroughly enjoying herself.

'I'm making Butter Chicken for dinner....are you okay with that?' Manisha shouted from the kitchen interrupting Jai's long chain of thoughts.

'Yeah....sure' he answered back.

There was no doubt about it.Manisha was in a viciously good mood.
 3
Over the next week Manisha would often spot people coming to and from the Gupta Residence.....no doubt to pay their respects to the dead.She wondered whether Mrs Gupta's children were among them.
It was rumored that most of them were settled abroad and cared little about their paranoid mother.

'Oh well..whatever' she thought every time.
She was getting quite used to the lack of verbal death matches in her life however sometimes she ended up missing the old lady...or maybe the excitement that she brought into her otherwise dull life.
But she welcomed the peace and quiet nonetheless.
Life was back to being uneventful again...that is,it remained uneventful till the Sunday two weeks after Mrs Gupta's death.
Now Sundays meant that both Jai and Manisha slept in till atleast 8:30 in the morning...
So both of them were taken by surprise when their doorbell rang a little before 9 on this particular day.
Manisha gaped at the person who stood outside their door and seemed to be dressed in what seemed like formal attire-
'Ah sorry to disturb you this early in the morning.....but is this the Banerjee residence?' he asked with a smile.
'Yea it is......' Manisha said still unable to fathom his identity.
'Ah good...and I assume you are Manisha Banerjee?...' he said with the same unchanging expression.
'Yes that's correct.' she replied warily.
'Well nice to meet you....I'm Rakshit Chatterjee..the deceased Naina Gupta's attorney.'
Manisha tried to suppress a gasp. 'Could she have sued her right before her death or something???'
'Please come inside...'she somehow managed.
'Ah no that's okay...I've urgent business to attend to and this won't take long.'
He paused for a while and continued.
'I'll make this short...Mrs Gupta had submitted a hand-written testament to me about 6 months ago with clear instructions that it was supposed to be her will and I was to be the executioner....although I was well aware of it's contents all this time I was instructed to reveal them only after her death.....' he paused a little and smiled at the confused expression on Manisha's face.

'Well well Mrs Banerjee...seems like you were her favorite neighbor...Mrs Gupta has left the ownership of her house to you.'

Manisha was rendered incapable of speech.
'Um I think there has been a mistake....there's just no way...' she said recovering after a good many seconds.
'...She has clearly mentioned your name along with your home address and other details....there's no mistake Mrs Banerjee... it IS you' he cut across.
By this time even Jai,who had been eavesdropping on their conversation all this time,wore the same shocked expression as Manisha's.
'Well that's all..there will be a meeting a few days later where I will officially disclose the contents of the will to all parties concerned...you will no doubt be informed of the date,time and venue..'

'So then....I must take my leave now..thank you for your time' he smiled again.
He was almost at their gate when he seemed to remember something and returned where Manisha stood frozen like an ice-sculpture at the open door.
'Well one last thing...Mrs Gupta asked me to deliver a message to you...'
'W..what is it?' Manisha somehow managed despite the tears that were threatening to break her composure.
'Tell her it's a thank you gift-that's what she said.' Mr Chatterjee smiled one last time.



Side notes for Non-Indian readers:
bhakti sangeet is a form of devotional music
gajar ka halwa is a popular North-Indian sweet dish made of carrots,sweetened milk and ghee
Authors note:This piece of fiction is purely conceived from my imagination.The incidents described may or may not happen given a real life situation.I had written this solely with the intention of driving home the fact that appearances are often deceptive.It's not fair to form an opinion without having sufficient information.More often than not we end up misjudging old people-like our grandfathers/grandmothers,in-laws or parents.No doubt they keep their set of outdated beliefs,prejudices and superstitions intact-but that's not reason enough to hate them or ignore their existence.That's outright cruel.

Sig 2

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Confessions

I've tried time and again to keep my blog as less personal as possible-I vowed to myself that no matter what happens I would not rant about the woes of my everyday living. (although I've ended up breaking this self-imposed rule quite a few times)
I see so many bloggers across the blogosphere pouring their hearts out about life, love and other disasters. And sometimes I find their posts quite fascinating.It's wonderful to have an insight into the lives of others without having to be acquainted with them.
But then again I wondered who would want to concern themselves with the lives of people they barely knew when everyone are so caught up in theirs.
I always thought that I was blessed with a snow-cold heart-one that isn't easily moved. But then I wonder why my eyes moistened when Ofelia, the juvenile protagonist of Pan's Labyrinth, presses her ear against her mother's pregnant belly and whispers to her yet unborn little brother to be kind to her when he comes into existence.

It's amazing how I contradict myself every second isn't it?

I always believed that the past held no importance in my eyes. I was only concerned with the future. I was confident enough that I  wouldn't let anything thwart my progress...that no matter what I won't let sadness touch me.
Maybe that's the reason why my mind has invented this self-defense mechanism where I go in denial mode, shut out all negative thoughts and try and pretend 'I'm fine on my own'.
And I might add that it works most of the time.
But there are occasions when I feel completely lost, want to cry my heart out and feel so vulnerable that it almost scares me.
A bunch of unanswered questions haunt me at such times-
Is this a charade I'm putting up? Which one is the real me?



This post is sounding more and more like the angst-ridden confession of a teenaged delinquent isn't it?
Well that can't be helped. It seems like I'm blessed with multiple personalities.
*giggle*
I have finally understood what it is-the thing that has been troubling me.
I try and repress my human instincts most of the times 'cause I hate being weak.
I hate depending on someone else.
I hate relinquishing control.
But I've realized my mistake now.
Sometimes you just have to let yourself go along with the flow. You have to trust, hope and believe.
You can't renounce the happenings of the past in order to shape a different future.

At this moment I firmly believe in the fact that nothing happens without a reason.
Without painful memories one would never learn to appreciate the worth of happier ones. It's like an unending chain of events where you'll find a new beginning lying right after every possible conclusion.

Nobody can survive on their own.We need friends,family and people to fall back on in times of need.

Right now I'm thankful to everyone who have come into my life in the course of the last 20 years. Sure I have lost in touch with some of them but in no way are they forgotten. And all of them have taught me some invaluable lesson that I wouldn't have been able to learn otherwise.
It's only because of them that I feel stronger, more confident and sure of everything that I do.

True it's hard to come to terms with the changing equation of relationships. But we need to remember that the time spent with loved ones never dies.
With this parting thought I bid adieu my friends hoping for a change you will like to read something angsty and a tad depressing. :P

P.S:YES this is my comeback post.

P.P.S:About the reference to Pan's Labyrinth..it just happens to be one of my recently watched movies.
Go watch this brilliant masterpiece if you still haven't.
Oh and HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone!

Sig 2
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