Cake

Tarun rushed towards the black Fortuner that he had just unlocked in the parking lot of the Mumbai Police Headquaters. He held in his hand an enormous list of things  that needed to be done, and there simply was no time to waste.
The speedometer reflected zero to hundred in no time as the vehicle zoomed past pedestrians.
“10:00”, the clock said.

The first stop was going to be the infamous local bakery that went by the name of ‘Baker’s Street’. Necessary supplies had to be picked from there tonight. He wondered if she would like the candles that looked like flowers or the Sparkler candles. He chose the Sparklers. She had always loved the firework show on New Years eve right before the final countdown.

Next halt was going to be at Petals, the florist he relied on when the days were dark and he needed to remind someone of his undying, unconditional love for her.
“I’d like to buy all of these, please. All of these orchids. Orchids are her favourite!” he blushed as he pointed to every bouquet that stood in the store eagerly waiting to be taken home.

He glanced at the Tissot T-Race on his wrist. He had less than an hour!

With the scent of flowers taking over his senses, he raced the Fortuner towards a residence.
Plot no. 302. Was it?
Nevertheless, he rang the doorbell.

A woman wrapped in a purple satin robe opened the door and welcomed him into her home with a smile. She looked gorgeous. Her lustrous, dark hair fell over her shoulders. Her eyes gleamed.

“Take a seat” she said.
He nodded before she left his company and walked into her dim- lit bedroom.

Within minutes, she reappeared.
There it was. In her hand. A small rectangular box wrapped in a red gift wrap.
Tarun’s face shone.

“Thank you so much Naina. I knew I could count on you!” he exclaimed.
“You’re my cousin. There’s no need for all that formality” she replied.

The traveller finally left for his destination.

When he finally arrived, he looked at the watch one more time. Eleven forty. He smiled and tip-toed into his two storied bungalow. She would be in the study, taking a cat-nap on the leather recliner. He didn’t need to worry.

One by one, he placed the items he had bought on the dining table. He decorated the bedroom with all the orchids.
He placed the candles, and the lighter, and a pink paper box on the table. Next to it, he placed with a letter, the gift he had bought for his beloved. It was a pair of diamond earrings she had shown interest towards last month. She would love it.

Lastly, he pulled out from his pocket a small fridge magnet he had bought at Petals. She adored his gooey romantic gestures.
You’re my one and only, forever and ever” it said.

His hands froze before he could place the magnet on the fridge. A note written in black ink was stuck to it.

“Looks like it’s not just your wife’s birthday today, Tarun. I’m turning a year older today as well and I’m taking your wife as my birthday present.You can have her back, but only when you send my brother back. Yes, the one you helped send to prison last week.
Oh and, don’t forget to send me some of the Cake you bought!
-You know who I am”

Mawlynnong- The Magical Getaway

image

We lay on the bed, gazing at the ceiling of the bamboo house we were residing in. The only sound that reached our ears, was that of crickets having a loud late night conversation.

“What if a snake falls in through the gaps in the ceiling?”, questioned my brother.
“I haven’t seen a mosquito here, and you are talking about snakes”…

We were guests at Asia’s Cleanest Village- Mawlynnong, situated around hundred kilometers from Shillong, in the East Khasi Hills of Meghalaya and it had lived up to all our expectations.
It was gorgeous, like a magical getaway that one would have to visit through a mysterious doorway. None of us had ever visited a place that had not a spec of dirt, not one piece of rubbish anywhere. The Khasi Huts were placed amidst the lush green forest, surrounded by colorful shrubs. In some areas, the trees created a canopy under which I sat and my brother captured the moment in my father’s beloved DSLR. My parents could not get enough of the scenery. I can’t blame them;  the waterfall, the gardens, the flowers, the trees, it all really was enchanting!

Every single resident of the village treated us like we were not Tourists , but  a part of their beautiful family. We were greeted with genuine smiles and treated to a delectable supper that had been prepared to suit our tastes. In a new state, amongst unfamiliar faces, we felt loved, and cared for.

…”But we’re literally in the middle of a forest, and forests have snakes” said my brother in another attempt to scare me.
“Sleep, will you? We have to bid farewell to the family tomorrow morning” I replied and turned the lights off.

Monsoon

As soon as the first few drops of rain fell on the blazing hot city of Patna, it calmed down like a tranquilized animal.
The hustle-bustle of vegetable and fruit mandis and the overcrowded bazaars faded away. The paint that clothed the adjacent building was soon drenched, exposing red bricks and cement. Roofs, balconies were seperated of their company of newly washed clothes. The clothing lines were vacant, so were the streets.
The beautiful wheatish-skinned girl who had been yelling into the phone while flinging her hands in the air every time she spoke, was gone, so was the toddler who had been driving his steady tricycle with more concentration than my mother.
The smell of Mongra and Jasmine incense sticks had been replaced with that smell of wet soil.
The continuous roaring of car engines, the giggle of school children, the chatter of housewives, the clanking of cow bells. Everything. Every sound was muffled by the relaxing pitter patter of raindrops falling on the Earth, quenching its thirst.

And through the fenced window, came the raindrops, and sprinkled themselves on the piece of paper I was penning down my experience on. They touched my face, they danced in front of me.
I smiled, brushed the little fellas away and carried on.

Three Years

Three times in three years.

Therefore according to the math, every year, there comes one such time when my heart bounces right out of my chest seeing your name flash on my phone screen. However, as soon as I swipe to the right and your voice reaches my ears, my storms calm down. My hurricanes die, my demons are put to rest.

You are like aroma therapy for my soul. Every word out of your mouth is soothing.
I am able to escape the clutches of stress and dip my feet into the warm waves of memories washing against the bank of my mind.
The adorable nicknames.
The song dedications.
The unconditional love.
The dreams of becoming one.
The long distance.
The intimacy.
The chemistry.
One by one, every single element of our bond, runs through my head like a movie on fast forward.

You are no longer the one I can rightfully call mine, but the idea of it brings a tingling sensation to this day, a sensation that runs through my entire body like current, sparking life into every inch of me.

As you speak of your new life in a town one hour from mine, I wonder if I will ever be able to witness you do the things you talk about. They say it’s a small world, but I still wonder if our paths would ever cross. They haven’t, so far.

As we converse, I always wonder if it would be appropriate to question if there has been a replacement; if someone else now sits on the throne situated in your heart or is the throne still vacant, waiting eagerly for me to return and fill it again.

Time flies, my mother says, and whenever you are on the other end of the line, she is proved right. All the theories of physics, of time and sun and stars are defied in one go. In a second, forty minutes pass and I am left feeling helpless!
I can’t tell you to stay.
I don’t want to tell you to leave.
All I can do, is Whisper my feelings into the phone just softly enough for them to not be able to cross the line and get to you.

Ah, love.
What a beautiful mess.

Messed up

“Am I a bad girl?”, I had asked.
“No” he had said as in the sun we basked.
I knew his answer was a white lie,
I could see otherwise in his brown eye.

I was a bad girl, and I was aware,
I was messed up, boy; you better beware.
But he still always took me in his embrace,
Causing tears in my eyes to run down my face.

I smiled later, but he could comprehend,
I was a broken vase he was unable to mend.
Because he could attempt to wipe my tear,
But what about the insecurity of losing my dear?

Over the edge

“Drink another one.Drink!”
He gave her a slight push, and she crumbled on the marbled floor like a China doll. Overpowering her with all his might, he forced yet another drink down her throat.
Her tears united with the alcohol, and her painful screams were covered by his satanic laughter.

It was their daily routine, monotonous, yet something she could never get used to.
Their neighbours however, had.

Every day, he would burn her throat with cheap alcohol. Then, he would violently undress her soul, leave marks of his teeth on it. He would rip it apart piece by piece like a hyena and every day it would hurt more than the previous day.

She was supposed to be getting used to this. Her mother had said she needed to, it would make her a good wife, but she couldn’t. How could anyone?

All she wished for was to abscond, away from this monster, but she also knew this was a far fetched dream. He was always around…always.
She could feel his breath on her face, even when she slept. She slept rarely.
He haunted her in the other world too.

“Aaahh!”, she cried as he pulled her up by her dull dark hair.
“Shhh shhh. No noise, okay?” he whispered while dragging her to the mahogany dining table.
They rarely ate there.

They rarely sat and talked.
They rarely laughed.
They never made love.

“Stop, pleaaassee, stop!”, she begged.

“I won’t. Can you do anything about it? No! No, you cannot. Because you are my wife. You are supposed to do what I want you to do, all your bloody life!”

Did she want to do what he wanted to do all her life? She didn’t. Did she want to spend her entire life crying and begging for mercy? She didn’t. She needed to go over the Edge and take a step.
So she did.

And the house roared with satanic laughter again, as she stood with a broken bottle that no longer reeked of cheap alcohol, but of the monster’s blood.

Mosaic

Cross legged, I sat on the sidelines adoring the wind fondle with every strand of his dark hair. I loved how drops of sweat would travel the length of his face and take cover in his medium stubble as he did the one thing that made him ecstatic. I loved watching him play football, because the zeal he would instantly acquire during football was like no other. It would make me forget to realise that football was a sport that required group efforts. I would forget that there were other players on the field. An imaginary limelight would fall on him and I’d find myself staring at him like my eyes had been glued.
He was a mosaic, broken, yet a work of art and I was an aesthete falling in love with every little perfect imperfection.

Slippers

“What are you doing?”

Before I knew it, a boy, around six or seven of age, walked over to me. He was dressed in a shabby old t-shirt – color of which had gone from red to muddy brown – and three quarter pants that had been patched up several times. He had no slippers. His feet were covered in sand from the construction site nearby. I immediately made a presumption that he was one of the many children whose parents worked as laborers and lived in temporary aluminium roofed dwellings.

“Madam, you better save your life and go back to where you came from” he said with his facial expressions mimicking Salman Khan.

It was perhaps the cutest threat I had received in twenty years. Like an idiot, I giggled.

“Go go, run away!”, he yelled in a vain attempt to sound angry.
“I can’t”
“Why?”
“I can’t leave without my man”

I pointed at more similar little boys who had my best friend in their custody. They stood around him like this was Chipko Movement 2.

“Your man?” the boy questioned with raised eyebrows.
“Yeah, he’s mine. Now, can you please tell your boys to allow him to leave?”

“No madam, you leave. He will either give us Rs.50 or he will not leave today”

This adorable little bully had both me and my best friend smiling away. He also reminded me of what we had learnt in class an hour ago.

“Assault can be anything that creates fear in the mind of another. It can be a threat, showing of fist so on and so forth. However, there should be capability.
For example, if a small boy threatens an adult, that if he does not leave, he will be hurt, it is not assault, because of lack of capability”

“Ishita?” a familiar voice brought me back to the moment.

I looked up to see my best friend, with his palms covering his mouth. He was giggling like a toddler.

“Yeah? How do you feel? Being bullied by children?” I said.
“This is pretty fun. We made a deal” he replied with a grin.

“A deal?”
“Yeah, they said, if I promise to bring them each a pair of slippers tomorrow, they will let me leave today. I agreed”

“Ahan? Well, let’s get going then. We need find a store before the sun sets!”

Stranger

Today, I fell in love with a stranger, a stranger who snuck into my life in the dead of night, and stealthily stole myself from me.

Today, I fell in love with a stranger,  and he is unlike them all. He is one who plants on my round face not kisses of adulation but of sarcastic humor.

He whispers into my ears not words of love but of wisdom. He challenges every thought of mine. He proves me wrong and it is peculiarly pleasurable.

He is a myriad of mysteries, arousing my curiosity as he speaks.He drives me insane.

Every time his lips part to say my name, I feel his hands on my dull face, gently caressing it. My lifeless body revives the minute we begin conversing and as soon as he bids me farewell, my body disintegrates to ashes.

Come back, oh stranger!

Father To Be

It was in the wee hours of the morning when I was forced out of my slumber by this peculiar pain in my stomach. The peculiarity however, soon became familiar.
After burying my face in the pillow, I softly cried and clinched my fists as  every possible muscle in my stomach contracted. I experienced the life inside of me, twist and turn.

My efforts to let my husband get at least five hours of sleep were foiled by my muffled cries making their way to his cautious ears.

“Honey? Honey, are you okay?” I heard him say.

He switched on the Venetian glass bedside lamp, sat upright and caressed my face,  wiping my tears as he did so.
“It hurts again. I…I don’t want to do this anymore” I replied.

He smiled at my foolishness, with his gaze fixed on me,  while I observed his face. There were suddenly so many elements that had never existed. There were bags under his eyes. His hazel eyes were swollen and sleep deprived. He looked exhausted; exhausted of catering to my needs and cravings, reminding me to eat on time, to take my medication, to keep me from climbing the stairs. He looked tired of watching me cry and complain of one or the other health issue every single day.
Yet he smiled.

“Honey, you will be alright. It is a matter of a couple of weeks and trust me, by that time, you’ll not remember a bit of this pain. You’ll be a mother. It will be the happiest feeling in the world” he said as he ran his fingers through my hair.

My eyelids opened once again when the sun’s rays penetrated the thin curtains and fell on my dull face. I looked up. He slept, still sitting upright, with his palm right over my head.
“You’re the best father to be” I whispered, gently covered him with our blue quilt, and slept by his side again.