Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Bud, Nipped.


“Neha, don’t dance around. Go back to your room and sleep.” scolded her granny.

A bonfire blazed in the courtyard behind the bungalow at midnight. A huge vessel of milk, placed over the fore by three men under the directions of an old lady, was waiting to be boiled.
There was a kind of gloomy yet ceremonial atmosphere.
Two huge lamps, one facing the bonfire and the other facing the bungalow tried to swallow as much of that gloom as possible.

But Neha was in her joyous mood since morning. After all she had a real doll to play with. Her little sister was born. She was happy to see her more than her mother herself. Neha had her little sister’s future schedule all planned. Braiding her hair was the foremost thing she thought she’d do. Neha named her little sister, Tanaya. She was going around telling this name to everyone, even before Tanaya was born. These things for some reason angered her granny. Slaps and beatings from her granny were a common place for Neha. She used to run back to her mother’s tummy when this happened and talked to her yet to be born sister about such slapping incidence. Or any incidence for that matter.

Neha was running to and fro from one lamp post to another, singing her made up songs and getting scolded by her granny.
Amidst that she heard her mother’s cry. A cry that she had never heard before.
She ran to her granny and asked, “Why is my ma crying?”
Not waiting for the granny to reply, she ran upstairs and banged on the door of the room where she thought the cries came from.

Two pairs of large hands lifted her up and locked her into another room, a room filled with tons of sweets, gifts and greeting cards. Cards that read “ To Tanmay”. She wondered who this Tanmay was. Apparently all the gifts were addressed to him. And she did not know about any
Tanmay. Infact there were no Tanmays in her family that she could recall.

Cries, followed by screaming and pleadings were reaching her room again. She could make out three voices apart from her mom’s very distinctly. Her father’s, her granny’s and her aunt’s.

Then there was a fourth voice, the baby’s. Her little sister was crying the loudest. She could hear it from the adjacent room, her ears and heart following it downstairs and then in the backside courtyard.

A while later, her mother had stopped crying, but so had her little sister.  

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Mine

What she saw in him was her perspective. A perspective  not shared by everyone around her.
Even by him.
Words spoken, that would be not legible to a stranger’s ears were perfectly audible and understandable to her. She replied to him in English, and he spoke the “language of the invalids” something that he himself jocularly referred to it as.

“Did you bring the photographs?” She asked. “I told you, why cannot we just use digital photographs like rest of the world instead of these 1970’s films. I hate that stupid mess that you create using those chemical stuff in your so called dark room.”
He made some sounds to which she frowned. But her frown was soon turned into a smile after he promised her. And in particular, showed her a microscope glass slide with something imprinted on it.
“Aww… is it a teddy bear? It looks like a teddy bear to me. It is cute! Can I keep it?”
Hiding in his other hand a burnt out remains of a small plastic teddy, he acquiesced.
“Thank you so much! The teddy is mine!” she exclaimed in joy.
A hug,  followed by some more conversation killed the time.

Conversations like these were witnessed by random people, who had their own opinions about this couple. But one guy took special interest in their conversation. Rather only in her.
She was cute. She was beautiful. And for this guy, the “invalid” was literally was an invalid for his plans pertaining to her.
He made his move on her. She fell for him. The “invalid” was hurt, but was more realistic about what was going on than the other guy. As the dawn of this new relationship saw the dusk of another. They hardly met. The only thing that kept him and her still in contact, was photography.

One evening she was asked to come to his dark room, where he processed the films. A stagnant odour filled the environs. She could see him standing there. Alone, but working on something. She called him and he responded by pulling her towards him. She was shocked at such a behaviour and immediately retaliated. But he pulled her back again. This time, with a tighter hold.
Though an invalid, he was not physically weak. He forced him onto her. All she could do was reiterate his name, sometimes in screams sometimes in fear and sometimes in pleading.

He stood behind her back and grabbed her hands, forcing his whole body onto her. He held one of her fingers and pressed it  hard onto something. She felt her skin burning and screamed in agony. This sudden shock of pain made her push him away, grab a metal rod lying around and hit him on his head. Three strikes and the invalid fell.
Lying down there, he raised his hand, in it was a glass slide. With her fingerprint on it.

“Mine” he whispered as the life in him left his injured body.