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Archive for the ‘life\’s…fiction’ Category

At First Sight

Sridhar hated having to travel by second class. The train was already very crowded. And it wasn’t just because of the people traveling. It was all the annoying relatives/friends/neighbors’ onnu vitta mama ponnu*/all and sundry that had come to see the people off. People without tickets shouldn’t be allowed to board the train, he thought to himself. And then immediately regretted it because he recalled how his parents always came to see him off and his dad always supervised the stowing of his luggage, and no arrangement ever seemed to satisfy him. The memory made him smile inwardly. In any case, as a student he did like traveling by second class. It enriches your journey, he used to say.

Presently he settled into his seat and whipped out his novel and then sat back and let his mind wander. He thought about the purpose of this latest trip to Chennai. He had to meet a girl some relative had suggested to his parents. He never thought of himself as someone who would resignedly accept his fate and agree to have a wedding arranged by his parents. But then with his job taking up all his time, where was the opportunity to meet the girl he had dreamt about since he had hit puberty? And his longing for companionship was only increasing with every passing day. He had to submit to his parents’ pressures and accept that perhaps the woman of his dreams would remain just that. A dream.

The girl was fine. She was good looking, which was why she went from the pile of rejects to the ‘possible’ pile. His parents had a carefully regimented approach for moving a girl through the process flow. First the girl’s photograph was looked at from multiple angles and in different lights. If she seemed to pass the vision test, her ‘bio-data’ was examined and scrutinized to pick on any teeny tiny flaw that seemed to permeate through the already-rigidly-QA’ed summary. Which, of course, was probably not even drafted by her so how was he to know how well she wrote or how she articulated her thoughts or how much she read? ‘Don’t ask silly questions, if you have such a big problem with her way of expression then reject her after you talk to her’, admonished his dad. He decided that the time for argument was long past and that he should just let them do what they wanted.

Anyway, the girl was alright. She was easy on the eyes, if not beautiful; she seemed like a very homely and docile creature, too shy to even make eye-contact with him while he asked her questions. She would probably be perfect in his mom’s eyes. She did have a job, but didn’t seem to have a preference for staying on or quitting. In fact, she didn’t seem to have a preference for anything, and kept coming across as indecisive and incapable of independent thought. It sort of annoyed him a little. He didn’t want to have to make all their life decisions on his own even if his wife left all choices up to him. He needed an equal, a companion, someone who had an opinion that would add new perspectives. Unfortunately, the three girls he had met so far were all too shy or were ordered to appear submissive, which was a whole different problem altogether. ‘Argh, this is too hard!’ he thought.

It had started to get very hot and so he tried to turn on the overhead fan. It didn’t work, obviously so he needed to get up and stick a pen into the grill of the fan and prod the blades a little to get them to start moving. As he sat back down, he looked outside and there on the platform was the most stunning-looking girl he had ever seen. She wasn’t beautiful, but there was just something about her that made him want to keep looking. She was dark and had wavy hair that seemed to fall around her oval-shaped face in gentle curls. Her eyes were expressive and she was talking on her cell phone. She was evidently very animated and kept gesticulating with her hands that had a bunch of flashy bracelets that clashed and jangled as she moved. He noticed her long and slender fingers, possibly indicating an artistic trait. Every now and then she would laugh and her eyes would light up and make her face glow. He watched her walk across the platform to buy a bottle of mineral water. And she looked so sexy with every movement she made as she dug into her purse for some cash and picked up the mineral water and then thanked the vendor with a smile before she left.

Sridhar had never believed in love at first sight. He was the kinda guy that needed to talk to a girl and probe her mind before deciding to take it any further. He knew that he wasn’t ‘in love’ even now. And yet here he was, smitten by this minx who was both extremely cute and incredibly hot at the same time. He sat there, mesmerized by her indescribable chic, transfixed to his seat. And then finally something clunked in his head and he looked at the watch. The train was not scheduled to leave for another 10 minutes so he decided that if he didn’t do something right then, he would regret it for the rest of his life. He got up and waded his way through the throngs of people. As he reached there he couldn’t believe his luck, when he saw that who else should be boarding the train but her! She looked like she was traveling light and only had one small suitcase.

She set the suitcase on the passageway of the train and looked up at him with a hint of a smile. Then she lifted up her skirt so that she could climb the steps of the train with ease. And that is when he glanced at her feet and literally felt all his excitement ebb away. She had on metti**.

***

“Damn Neha and her fashion advice. Now I’ve scared that cute guy off. ”

*Uncle’s daughter, once removed.
**Traditional toe rings that every married woman wears in the toe next to her big toe.

P.S. Alright, peeps! This is THE END. No Part II. How the story proceeds is upto you guys. 🙂

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The Journey

He was nervous. He had been mulling things over for the last few days and every time he thought about it, he felt a tingling excitement mixed with something bordering fear. All of his friends seemed to think he was being stupid. How did it matter anymore? Did he think he could change anything now? And yet, he had always been different from his friends. Passionate and bashful, he never did anything after calculated thought. He found that every time he brooded over anything, it made his life more complicated and he ended up going along with his gut feeling anyway. He decided.

The first time he thought about this was when he overheard his parents talking one night after they thought he was asleep.

“Ramakrishnan has sent me a message. Krishnaveni is 15 years old now. They want us to make all the arrangements for her to be accepted into our household.”

“Oh, that’s wonderful! My daughter-in-law will finally come home!”

Of course, he knew whom they were talking about. The girl whom he had “married” when he was 11. He knew about it, of course, he even remembered the actual ceremony that had taken place. He had vague recollections of tying the knot around her neck, but what he vividly remembered was the jangris that he had guzzled nonstop without anyone even trying to stop him. He found it strange at the time that a boy who used to be berated every single time he touched a sweet was given such a free rein on this day. Must have been the girl. Did she say something to them?

He just never thought of it as a real thing, never once imagined that the marriage that he saw others living in, would be connected to him through the ceremony that happened 7 years ago. But now, he knew. He kept tossing and turning that night, trying to at least remember the face of the girl who was his “wife”. It felt strange saying those words. Even in his head. And then he was overcome this urge to see her once before he could fully accept her. This was unheard of in his family, if his father ever came to know, he would probably be whipped within an inch of his life.

And yet, he went to sleep peacefully that night, thinking he would somehow devise a plan to see the girl before she came to be a part of his family. The next morning, he put forth his proposal to his buddies. They all burst out laughing at this seemingly ludicrous desire of Subramani to see his wife before she came to his house. He had always been a little impulsive, but this was pushing it. They then sat him down and told him all the cons of ever being caught trying to do something like this. He seemed a little doubtful, but he promised to at least think about it.

And he did think about it. Was it his fault that every time he thought about it, he became more and more convinced that he had to see her and speak to her at least once? Once his mind was made up, he settled on a plan. He told his friends of his decision and they wanted no part in this. But he managed to convince one of them to at least be his alibi in case anything went wrong. He knew how much risk he was putting his friend in, but what had to be done had to be done.

And so, he came upon the road going to Pattukkottai. His nervousness was reaching a crescendo now, and the day was hot. He had no idea where she lived, but his plan was to stop someone on the way and ask them where Pattukkottai Ramakrishnan lived. Judging by his title, the man had to be pretty famous in his village and someone would surely be able to point him in the right direction. If people asked any questions, he would simply say he was a government official from Thanjavur. With his attire and his sophisticated air, he thought he could be very convincing.

He didn’t really run into too many problems, his journey to her house was smoother than he expected. Now came the tricky part. He obviously didn’t want to meet her father, or for that matter, any member of her family. He needed to see her alone and speak to her for a few minutes. So he went around to the back of the house where he knew the ladies of the house would be doing household chores. He also knew that since it was about a half-hour to lunch time, the older women of the house would be in the kitchen, cooking, while the younger women (including daughters-in law and nubile daughters) would be in the backyard, washing clothes. Fortunately for Subramani, Ramakrishnan only had 2 daughters and the elder one had already left for her pukkaam or her husband’s house.

So the only girl in the backyard, washing clothes was his Krishnaveni. The minute he set eyes on her, he knew all his fears were unfounded. She did not, in fact, look like a scarecrow. She had a full, voluptuous body, her olive skin was glowing in the sun, while drops of water intermingled with sweat from her labor glistened on her cheeks and arms. Her eyes were the deepest black and her mouth was a natural pout that seemed to increase her beauty manifold. She had worn a beautiful green saree and bangles to match. Her forehead was dotted with a red kungumapottu. She had a pair of golden jimikki in her ears that danced to her every movement. She looked as if the goddess Mahalakshmi herself had descended from the heavens and decided to walk into his life. And while he was standing there, mesmerized in her beauty, she spotted him. A look of fear crossed her face and she made to drop everything she was doing and run inside.

 

He knew what she was about to do and yelled out her name in time to stop her. Then he set out to explain himself and his inappropriate behavior.

“Krishnaveni, do you remember me? I am Subramani, the 11 year old boy you were married to almost 7 years ago.” Somehow he couldn’t bring himself to say, “your husband”.

She still looked skeptical but she didn’t attempt to leave. He went on.

“I know you think I am crazy, but you must have heard talk of you being sent away to become part of our family in Pulavanji. Well, I needed to see you once before you finally made your entry into my home. And trust me, you are every bit more beautiful than I had ever imagined you to be!”

She seemed mollified by this last statement, and he did say it in all earnest.

“Well, I was hoping I wouldn’t be the only one talking. Didn’t you ever feel like seeing me?”

At first she seemed very shy and unable to form a sentence in her mind. But then, she opened her mouth to speak in the most lilting, melodious voice ever.

“Umm.. No, not really. Appa said that once he received word from Pulavanji that all the arrangements were done, I would be leaving. I never really thought of doubting my parents’ decision. But I must say, I am glad you did come to see me.”

At this she smiled and her teeth looked like a string of pearls. And then a woman’s voice came sailing through the open windows in the house.

“Krishnaveni! Lunch is ready, come inside. You can do the clothes later. Hurry!”

She looked at him and said a rushed goodbye and went inside. She seemed to be gliding rather than walking, such was her effect on him.

He was supremely happy at his decision of having come to see Krishnaveni and decided to go home. As he turned out of the alley leading into the main street a voice arrested him. His heart sank.

“Hey, Subramani, aren’t you Chandrasekaran’s son? Do you recognize me? I am your father’s cousin Gopu. In fact, I am on my way to see your father today, why don’t you come with me……..”


P.S.: The painting is Raja Ravi Varma’s painting ‘The Milkmaid’. I have always found Ravi Varma’s women to be classically beautiful. I could only think of the women in his paintings when I thought of Krishnaveni.

55 Fiction – The Exam

She wondered if she could ever count each of the twinkling stars in the night sky. The clock in the tower struck 9. She had to get back to reading her text book, ignoring the weird grumbling noises her stomach was making. The flickering orange street light looked like it would go put any minute.

Edited to add: This is the start of a new tag game. I now tag Rayshma to complete the next part of this story in 55 words exactly. She, in turn, will tag someone else and come back to me and tell me whom she has tagged. This way I can follow the story to its end. Each person tagged will inform their tagger whom they’ve tagged, so that the thread can be followed.

55 Fiction – "Those 3 Words"

Beyond what point would she stop feeling, she wondered. She let herself feel the wind in her hair, smell the fragrance of the spring, the sunlight kissing her upturned nose. No time to dwell or to reflect. Her feet were treading air now. Air that belonged to the unending, bottomless, gaping abyss. I love you.

P? or Q?

I looked. And I looked again. I tried to rub my eyes. I still couldn’t make out what I was supposed to be reading. Think, I admonished to myself. You’ve done this before. Yesterday, in fact. I peered again. Ms. Andrew was waiting. I could feel her anger mounting. But then I could also hear a solitary sparrow chirping outside. How I wanted to peek outside, just to see where it was! Shaking myself from the momentary reverie, I attempted yet again, to decipher what the hell it was that the stupid poem was saying.

Sometimes though, I feel like English should be the other way round. Life would be so much simpler then. Why can’t ‘b’ be ‘d’ ? Or the “squiggly” in ‘s’ be pointed the other way? Aargh! No time to dwell, I had more pressing issues at hand. Ms. Andrew’s face came looming back to reality and I tried once again. Nope, no success. And then, the all too familiar yell, “Out of the class, and don’t come back unless I permit you!”, with the faces of Arif, Ravi, Sushant and Omar leering at me showed up. Oh well. Another period missed.

*Italicized passage inspired from this. Must watch. For everyone.

Sandhyakaal

She stood by the French windows, looking outside. The drapes were flapping about in the wind. Great clouds were swirling by, forming gigantic eddies that seemed to threaten to unleash themselves at the slightest opportunity. Gloom and desolation seemed to be settling everywhere. The sky seemed to reflect her mood perfectly. Or was it the other way round?

Turning away from the window, she saw that it was almost 6. He would be home soon. Unbelievably enough, the whole day had passed by in a haze of non existence. The daily chores had been performed perfunctorily, without any indication of interest or application of any mental faculties. However, time and date held no meaning for her. Especially today.

Presently, she went about the house turning on the lights and preparing for lighting the little lamp in the puja room. She splashed water on her face, put on a little kumkum, tied her hair into a knot and entered the little room by the kitchen that had all the deities. She lit the lamp and said a few prayers, ringing the traditional bell alongside, all the while wondering if it made the slightest difference.

Shutting the door of the room, she made her way into the living room. Something seemed strange here. She couldn’t place her finger on it, but she knew intuitively that something had changed in the time that she went into the puja room. Before she could do anything, before her body could react, she was accosted and blindfolded. Someone much stronger than she held her hands behind her back, covered her mouth and pushed her forward.

Suddenly the blindfold came off and all she heard were screams before she could pick out his form amidst the sea of faces.

“Surprise!!!!”

The Bus Stop

The rain was pouring down making gigantic “plonk!” noises as it fell on the ground. He stood, bedraggled, at the bus stop waiting for the 78. He was getting more and more impatient by the minute. The bus stop wasn’t really offering much protection, you know; the bus had better get here.

His grumpiness was reaching a crescendo when he saw her. She was standing at the bus stop too. Only, the adjacent one. He realized with dismay that that meant….

She wasn’t really beautiful. Not quite your Elizabeth Taylor. But she did have the most reflective eyes he had ever seen in anyone. It looked like they would betray every single thought going through her mind. Quite literally the mirrors to her soul.

She had picked a spot on the road, and was staring at it intently. The vehicles were zooming by, splashing water all around. Yet her gaze would not budge. Oh, what he would give to know what she was thinking just then!

Lost in his thoughts, he almost missed it. The bus came to a roaring, screeching halt in front of him. Ah, crap! He hated having to leave. As he was getting aboard the bus, he glanced at her to get one final glimpse of her eyes. She looked at him just then. A sudden flash of red, glistening pearls at the corners of her eyes. Blended so well with the pouring rain.

78 pulled away.