Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Episode XXIII

There was no milk in the fridge. Sarala opened the window and shouted at Raju, "There's no milk. Shall I make the tea without milk?" "Hmmm," Raju replied, deep in his newspaper. She knew he hadn't heard a word of what she'd said, but she didn't want to go to the corner shop just to get milk for his morning tea. He certainly wouldn't dream of going.

She made the tea and took it out to him. Raju took one sip and spat it out.
"What kind of tea is this?" he asked furiously.
"There was no milk, so I thought.."
"Don't you know I don't like tea without milk?"
This wasn't true, he had drunk tea plenty of times without milk, but that had been before.
"I did ask you," she said defensively.
"Just now. I asked from the window."
"Don't lie! You just want to make my life living Hell!" Raju said. He threw the cup on the ground, where it broke into three pieces and lay like a fallen bird, bleeding the brown water into the earth. He gathered up his newspaper and strode furiously away.

Sarala stood there, blinking furiously in an effort to not cry in front of the neighbours, who would all be behind their twitching curtains watching this daily episode of the neighbourhood drama. After a while, she bent over and picked up the broken cup. It was white with blue flowers and a golden border, part of a set that had been gifted to her by her parents for her wedding. The tea set had survived the first eight years of her marriage unscathed, but not the last two. This had been the last cup.

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Saturday, April 14, 2007

Giving In

They keep coming back, the demons in black. Their faces are disfigured, their hands are claws. They keep coming back. How can I make them stay away, how can I satisfy their hunger? Each time, I give them something, something precious to me, some bit of me that I shall have to learn to live without. Soon, I shall have nothing left to give, and then they shall take away the thing they want, the thing they keep coming back for. It's inevitable.

Each time they come, I struggle with the despair. Each time, I am tempted to end it, to give them what they seek. Each time, the part of me that is still alive, that can still remember the swaying trees of childhood and the scent of the sea wind, wins somehow. I don't know how long it can hold out. And it's pointless - a last battle in a war that has already been lost.

If I end it this time, I can escape the struggle. I can escape the despair, the gloom, the ennui of existence. Let me do it, God. Let my stubbornness seep away and let me give in. Let me give in.
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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Red Day

It was going to be a red day. The sun rose early, bleeding over the city ruthlessly. The tops of buildings and trees and hills turned red and then yellow and then white. Everyone knew what was going to happen. Everyone waited breathlessly.

It began in the East, across the Yamuna. Screams and cries echoed over the water. Smoke curled up, dark and threatening, like an approaching thunderstorm. People looked to the East, eyes sheltered, and then retreated into whatever safety they thought they had found. The safety of their religion, the safety of their friends, the safety, perhaps, of violence.

It continued. Blood flowed down from the East to the West. Rumours would have flowered, except they could find no soil. No one spoke to one another. Neighbours had become possible foes, friends had become possible victims. Only family counted - family, and religion. Every other bond had broken down.

It ended at dusk. The sun turned red for the second time that day, but the city - the city had been red all along.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Wind - II

It was misfortune. Yes, it was. Couldn't have happened otherwise. She slipped and fell. There was no earthly reason for her to - no, I won't think about it. She wouldn't have done that to me. To us. Look at him, sitting there. Why did we let her go? Knowing her, how careless she is, how she sometimes doesn't quite live in this world. She must have gone to the edge to look at the ocean. She must have seen it below her, blue and green and white. And then.

How could it have happened? Did God see her through a parting in the clouds? Did He see her standing there, a beautiful slender little thing on the edge of that black black cliff? Was there a ray of sunshine on her, making her hair golden and her eyes wistful? Did He suddenly want her back? Did He send a spurt of wind to bring her back to Him?

Or did she want to go back to Him?

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She loves the wind. She loves the way it tugs at her hair. She loves that free-floating feeling it gives her. The wind brings with it the sound of sea gulls from the sea shore below. The smell of the salty sea as it breaks on the rocks. She wishes she could live on wind - eat it, drink it, float along with it. Maybe in the next life. She spreads her arms and leans forward and lets the wind take her.

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