The cosmos and I


It's a usual day in the household. I wake up after hitting the snooze button a couple of times. The inky blue sky outside is about to burst into a bright shade of daylight. I know it's only a matter of a few minutes. Is the darkness aware, I wonder, of the simmering ball of fire underneath the surface that's about to erase its identity? The rays either sneak its way, without a fuss like a blushing bride, casting a warm glow all over or scream for attention like a melodramatic model, throwing generous doses of orange and pink kisses to the night that gracefully recedes into oblivion. Does the night ever resent the day for its ability to make heads turn its way each morning?

On some days, my mind is free from the mundane clutter and I receive the bounty of nature with a smile, my hands cupped in gratitude. Most other days, I ignore the drama in the sky.  A teasing interplay of the cosmos, filled with life lessons for those who care to seek. It would never matter to the day or the night whether I partake in their intimate discussions. I could choose to be a part of their clique, but if I did not, I certainly wouldn't be missed.

As I set the milk to boil on one stove and watch the veggies sizzle on the other, I take a deep breath, a reminder to myself. I could afford, today, to sip my coffee in the quiet darkness, letting the caffeine work its way slowly into wiping off the traces of sleep-induced lethargy. I savour these brief moments of languidness before I get consumed by the regular drill of routine life.

I play the roles of a mother, wife, homemaker. These are impressed finitely upon my person like the thick primary lines on my palm. The other fine lines criss-cross and intercept the primary ones but taper off abruptly; an eerie reflection of my life. For, every so often I seek out the person who might be someone other than these titles. Not out of any feeling of inadequacy but perhaps a curiosity to find out if there was a person ever waiting to be discovered. I fancy calling myself a person of importance - a freelancer, a blogger, a writer- at various points but they remain transient. They tempt me with a sense of purpose but I find myself retreating to the familiar and comforting territories of my primary roles each time these turn into shackles.

It is then, I realize, the feeling of importance that appeals to me. The ego bloats up in the know that my contribution makes a difference to someone out there and I add value. The fallacy of it all dawns sooner or later and I realize that I'm just a speck in the sea of humanity. I could be flicked away and just like my place in the cosmos, the world will only carry on in my absence, cleaner and lighter.


Caffeinated attraction


Words jostled inside Anusha's head as she snaked her way between the tables to her favourite spot in the cozy cafe. She slid her laptop out, rested the bag beside her on the silver grey cushioned sofa and called for her favourite cappuccino. They made it just the way she preferred: the right amount of milk and coffee, the closest alternative to the filter kaapi her mom made.

Gazing out of the glass window, she sipped her beverage, letting the bitter-sweet taste linger, weighing her thoughts before her fingers could fly on the keyboard to give shape to them. The white fluffs of clouds against the clear blue skies floated gently with the summer breeze and they seemed, to the writer in her, like mischevious sheep that had strayed off the flock.

Oh, well, it's my mind that's straying now. Need to get my act right for my next submission. Anusha willed herself back to the present.

The cafe was Anusha's muse, the mecca she haunted during the weekends for the past three months since she found her part-time job with an advertising agency. The work kept her finances going and, more importantly, gave fuel to her serious hobby. The process of lining up one word after another on an empty canvas, shuffling and re-shuffling them around until she found perfection filled her soul with inexplicable happiness and satisfaction.

Yet, today, the document looked back at her, stubbornly blank. There was too much chaos in her head to reign into subservience. As it always happened on the days she called home. Conversations invariably veered towards her marriage. The urgency and despair in her mom's tone always filled her with sadness and guilt. Sadness because her parents did not understand why she turned down most matches sent to her from the matrimonial site. It was another story that she got rejected many other times. She felt guilty of finding herself in a situation where she could neither summon the courage to rebel nor talk openly to her parents.

The MBA was more of an excuse to move away from home. To run away from the suffocation, the constant trials masquerading as the bride seeing visits, the prying neighbourhood; to find own feet, and perhaps romance some day.

Romance? Was she really cut out for the Mills & Boons kind of romance she secretly desired? A hot-headed feminist trying to break stereotypes, a logical person who never understood impulsiveness, a coward when it came to decision making, will she allow herself to fall in love?

A pair of teenaged girls noisily occupied the seat behind Anusha. Instinctively, Anusha leaned farther behind into the backrest. Not many moons ago, she was their age. Giggles filled up spaces between their hushed tones. They had bunked their college lecture and were discussing their latest crush. Anusha sighed. A predictably carefree life of college-goers who had no inkling of how their lives would shape up after the blissful years removed from truth and reality.

"Don't look now but check out that hunk there." said one voice, low with urgency.

"He's a bomb" gushed the other voice, stressing on 'bomb'.

A bomb? Anusha cringed and shooked her head at the language used. 'Stud' was the lingo when she was in college she recalled, immediately feeling like a fraud for judging the youngsters.

On an impulse, she looked in the direction of the ripple creator. She felt her heart skip a beat. Even her own matured eyes and mind trained to remain off flirtatious grounds agreed that he looked every bit the Greek God. Surely, a bomb that was intended to detonate any warm-blooded woman's mind, however nonchalant she appeared on the outside, to a thousand fluttering, tender feelings that sang to violins that played, without a permission, in the heart.

The words on the laptop made no sense to her and she erased them all. The submission would be delayed. The cafe was getting dangerous.

*****

Rotting humanity

Doc, there's an emergency!

The breaking news flashes the brutal carnage. Images and voices float in my mind as I drive in manic speed to the hospital.

Of sirens blazing. Of toys and limbs lying scattered on a carpet of red and brown.

Oxygen! I scream. Pump, harder.

Doc, there's no pulse.

Shoulders slump.

I witness grief fuse into flames that rise up collectively at the mass funeral. The ashes fall lightly on me.

Will the stench of hate ever recede?

***
Written for a prompt at

The call of the wind


Mira stepped out into the wide balcony on the 12th floor of the high-rise she and Mayank had recently moved into. Their new home had been a joint decision.

Leaning on the railing, Mira circled the outline of the cup she held and thought wistfully. Just a few months ago they had been so happy to start a new phase together. So much had changed since then.

Mira was up for a promotion at work and she had been looking forward to the long overdue recognition after several months' of hard work. The only catch was it came with a stint abroad. Mayank had been supportive of her decision to accept the opportunity while he stayed back.

Yet, Mira couldn't fully rejoice.

Mayank had not been aware of a third party angle to the whole arrangement and Mira felt anxious and guilty as she pondered over the recent developments. It was not going to be easy but Mayank had to know. Mira had imagined the scene in her head with all the possible permutations and it made her dizzy.

The wind hit her face in rapid succession. The cool air felt like a balm. The view from the top overlooked the vast city skyline and the green and brown dots below made a picturesque sight much in contrast to the harsh realities. She closed her eyes to savour the moments.

Yes, the larger picture always puts things in perspective. The two pink lines were not about to cage her. The wind was calling out to her to spread her wings.

She'd show the world that Motherhood and career could go hand-in-hand.


****

Written in response to the prompt, "The call of the wind" at the BarAThon.




The wedding


Holding hands under the inky blue bejeweled canopy, they swore allegiance to each other. Bedecked in a brown shimmery, the translucent veil flowing away from her coy face, she looked up nervously at him. He replied with an imperceptible nod that spoke volumes of quiet reassurance.

Family and friends had gathered for the ceremony that would bind the two lovers for life. The atmosphere was electrifying and the air abuzz with each of them signaling to the other in a frenzy of activity. A huddle in here, a huddle there, some grouping for a light tete-a-tete, some to discuss an important ritual.

The younger lot broke away from the crowd, not entirely connecting with the significance of the gathering, their individual frames dotting the arena like lost stars.

At the precise moment that would signify the sacred union, the chief called for everyone's unwavering attention. The scattered swarm, even the ones that had strayed, converged obediently towards the altar. Each member of the audience held hands together, sending collective prayer heavenwards to bless the couple wedded into matrimony.

It was pure magic as the fireflies lit up, glowing like a hundred glorious suns, showering their wishes of hope and faith.


*****
Tried to portray a wedding scene in the life of fireflies, who are known to synchronize their signals.

A 200-word fiction written for the prompt "Suns and Lovers" at the BarAThon.


All in a day's work


Adjusting her beige monochrome overalls, Kaya preened into the mirror. A slim body that was accentuated by a blue belt, she quite enjoyed the smirks of envy from her peers. There were talks that some important tenders came in solely because of her looks. But, she didn't care. She knew she had the stuff to make the cut.

"Oh, come on, will you? We're getting late" pressed Lakshmi who was more down-to-earth, hardworking and a stickler for punctuality. She had butterflies in her stomach. The duo was chosen to give a presentation to the head of the department. And, Lakshmi instinctively knew that only she held the cards to crack the deal.

They charted their way hurriedly through the cubicles that were arranged in neat rows. Heads bobbed in and out of them, urgent calls being placed at some desks, complaints being answered patiently at some, while a few wore an uncharacteristic look of calm as though to mock the ones who were running at a frenetic pace of the office hours.

"Hello, gorgeous girls, what's the rush?" a deep voice called out from behind.

Kaya almost bumped into Lakshmi who was walking a few steps ahead in a straight line. They spun around to face Kimi who was perched comfortably on the white desk. With a body that took almost the entire breadth of the surface she sat on, Kimi looked like a reigning queen that looked down upon the working class who did menial jobs for survival.

Casually swinging her stubby legs beneath the desk Kimi beckoned to Kaya and Lakshmi who were irked for being stopped thus. Now, they would be put to interrogation by the all-important person of the office who simply had to know everything that went about in the workplace.

Even as they regrouped themselves for a quick tete-a-tete, a burly moustached person barged in. Dubeyji was ordered by Ms. Raghav, the HOD, to bring the files for finance, design and the thickest of them all, the one marked as confidential, to her cabin.

He thanked his luck to have found all three at the co-ordinator's desk. He quickly grabbed Lakshmi, Kaya, and Kimi together in one swift sweep and marched away. After all, the Lord of the files couldn't be kept waiting.

****
Written for the prompt "Lord of the files" at the BarAThon.



Would you like to read the other posts in this series?

Outnumbered
A new haven
An irrational dream
The fault lies in our stares

Outnumbered



She lay crouched in the dark musty nook. A lone streak of light shone in through the small hole in the makeshift wooden door to the tiny storeroom where she hid. The light diffused air particles in the line of her view as she strained to see outside.

The living room windows opened out on the first level just above the storeroom and she could hear their low voices.

She stifled a rising cough in the throat afraid to attract attention. The voices now transformed to chilling war cries.

Boom! Boom! Bang!

Shrapnel flew and came pelting on the tin roof of the storehouse followed by rapid footsteps. She shuddered. Fearing the worst, she flung open the door and dashed out.

A bile rose to her throat as she saw the damage caused and shook with vengeful rage.

Her favourite white bone china vase with indigo prints that once stood proudly near the window lay shattered in pieces all over the store roof and the ground below.

The two culprits jumped out from behind her displaying toothy grins and cried out in unison.

 "Tag, you're it, Mom!"

"Of course, I'm good at playing the bad cop!" she replied with a twinkle.


*****

Written for the prompt "War and pieces" at the BarAThon. 


Would you like to read the other posts in this series?

A new haven
An irrational dream
The fault lies in our stares