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.