Saturday, 26 April 2014

The Oranges



Nothing ever happens, nothing happens at all
The needle returns to the start of the song
And we all sing along like before

And we'll all be lonely tonight and lonely tomorrow

Her green bangle broke as she scrubbed the collar. Three pieces. The dirty soap water carried them to the drain cover, where they sat. Waiting as if to go below, and drown. She looked at her brown wrist with a gaze full of vacuum. The shirt collar in contrast gleamed white under it. After madam’s last tirade she was making sure the laundry was done properly. But, her bangle had broken, one from among three her husband had gifted her a certain Teej. Her husband who… She got back to the clothes. Scrubbing knees of jeans and seats of pants with new-found fury in her hands. Holding cuffs in both and rubbing them. Suffocating the dirt off them. The plastic brush lost some teeth, which joined the exodus near the drain. She didn’t notice. For the sound of the tap running had filled the bathroom. And her head. And in came that pain her constant companion. And its lover, tiredness. Oh how they screamed now, the two left bangles. Going in and coming out from the sea of water in the bucket. Rinsing. But as if being murdered. Being forced into a watery grave. Clips bit into the wrung clothes now hanging in a line. Hanged with care.  

2:30 pm. She could hear madam, shouting on the phone at a tele-caller in crisp English and so had to wait for her to finish. To leave. To take bus number 199 to Mangolpuri. To her husband … lying in his watery grave. Drunk. Always. Angry beyond measure for today she was late.   

Nothing ever happens, nothing happens at all
The needle returns to the start of the song
And we all sing along like before

And we'll all be lonely tonight and lonely tomorrow

Every day he was made to sit in the middle. They did not give him the window to breathe. As if intentionally. As if he was dead already with sorrowful faces sitting around him. Taking him … home. The cab full of tele-callers turned corners lit by twilight. Speeding. The driver in a wakefulness full of hurry. But he sitting behind him, sitting as if in a syrup. Half-asleep and half-aware of leaving the maddening buzz of telephone calls behind, for a day. The Chris the Bob the Alex that he had to be. Day after day. ‘Hello, would you like to buy a credit card?’ and the ensuing abuse. He remembered the bitter lady on the other side today. In crisp English she had dis-robed him. Of his mask which did not pay. He closed his eyes, and his hands around his neck-tie. No way to set his self free from the computers clicking and targets hitting. Bills and mortgages, EMIs and rent. Too much to think about. So little left to dream. The cab climbed a flyover and the metro bridge loomed large. Larger loomed the advert of a car with a smiling family of four. Like a dream. He felt his gorge rising, the faux silk noose tightening, the faux leather belt squeezing him into a tiny sphere. Of monotony, and meaninglessness. Fake accents and mechanizations. Of missing … 

The driver shook him awake with a strange haste. He had missed his home stop today. Last one dropped. That much less time to sleep away, in a home empty of any more dreams. Empty. But home still. But empty.  
Nothing ever happens, nothing happens at all
The needle returns to the start of the song
And we all sing along like before

And we'll all be lonely tonight and lonely tomorrow

He could barely see. Except, the calendar next to the clock. They said it was a miracle. It must have been, to be able to see through the cataract. No longer did he know when his drawstrings hung low to the floor. No matter that spittle dribbled down his lip as he mumbled. To the winds. About his loneliness. His hands too he could not see. To feed to clean to hold the stick and sit outside his room in the old age home.  But he always knew the date and time. When his son would come. This evening, for instance. To see him dressed in his cleanest. Oranges in one hand and a hug in the other and 'how have you been, papa?' on his lips. Once, when he said he saw things heard voices, they put him here. Love remained, but he scared the kids at home. His son’s. His son is a driver. ‘Oh, he will find his way here in time’ said the old voice to the bench beneath him. Tick-tock-tick-tock-tick… The wrinkled hand loosened its grip. The stick fell. His son was too late to reach. Too late. Forever. It just so happened.

He had to make a detour, to drop a man who slept off and missed his home stop. 

The oranges lay at the back, suffocating silently in the bag. 

Unseen.  
  
[Written for WordPress Daily Prompts: 365 Writing Prompts aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. The prompt for today was - Earworm - What song is stuck in your head (or on permanent rotation in your CD or MP3 player) these days? Why does it speak to you? I picked Del Amitri’s ‘Nothing Ever Happens’. The song has always spoken to me of a post-modernist angst that individuals are living.]



63 comments:

  1. What an interesting take on a song that keeps playing in a loop! The prose is poetic, the eye focused on nuance and the narrative so vivid. Not many can narrate a poignant story in such an engaging manner.

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    1. Thank you for liking this, Alka. Your comment makes me feel exclusive. ;) Many thanks!

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  2. I admit I had to read this twice to get the whole picture. But the sheer beauty of the prose, the poignancy , the visuals filled with monotony and pathos just blew me away. Cheers! :)

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    1. Wow! Feels good to have blown a writer like yourself away, Sridevi.
      Heartfelt thank you. Really!

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  3. Omg! Seriously amazing.. I wished to read more.. totally engaging!

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  5. Amazing, actually haunting with the underlying melody, the constant refrain.

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  6. My goodness Sakshi!! How brilliant..the connections between the two stories!
    The depiction of pain, missing, dreams, hope and monotony!
    Brilliant. You need to write a book. You have it in you.
    I genuinely believe so!
    Now look at the way you concentrated on the tiny details that misses one's mind. The plastic brushes missing their teeth, the bangles vanishing and appearing back from the soapy water, the tightening of the faux silk noose and a home empty of dreams but a home nonetheless! The mumbling man, the dribble....such intricate details that you create a vivid picture in the mind.
    Khalid Hosseini does that to me. I am not being generous here, bot am I trying to place you on the 9th cloud. Just letting you know that you need to write a book. :)

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    1. Thanks, Red. All three threads are connected by people in them. I like how you picked the emotions I meant to convey along the way but I absolutely love how well you read, registered and reproduced my post to me in this comment. Makes me so happy.
      As for the "comparison", ab mein kya boloon. Too much too much. But certainly more flattering than any I have heard before, about my writing. :)
      I'm sitting on my chair a few inches above it. Levitating with glee. Thank you, Red!

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  7. How connected we all are even when we aren't. Like insects caught in a web. Waiting for the spider called Time to, one day, come and set us free. Until then, we wobble at the same spot. Caught in a web. But thinking we are alive. That we matter.
    I think fiction like this might be your best kind of writing.

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    1. Beautiful thing you say there.
      Thank you for the compliment, Rickie. I might just take it too seriously! :D

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  8. I am coming for the first time to this blog and I cant thank Red enough for sharing this post. :) Totally and absolutely loved it.
    This was written so well and flawless (that is the one thing which keeps coming to my mind). When I read stories, I am usually unsatisfied with a ending or a part of the story but this one was perfect. :)

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    1. Welcome here, Me-er! I cannot thank Red enough for finding me a reader who liked what she read. :)
      'Flawless' is a perfect word to hear. Many thanks!

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  9. I didn't get it the first time, but then I slowed down and read it again. That's when the beauty unraveled before me in your words. I believe not many can do this - write 3 different vignettes and connect them with such a fine thread. Hats off!

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    1. Taking a humble bow to your raised hat. :)
      Your good words matter!

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  10. I intended to write a comment in the morning itself when I read the post first but my office firewalls wouldn't let me do so.

    This was a post which truly blew me away with the sheer brilliance and intelligence with which it has been conceived and delivered. The three interweaved threads all bound by common emotions and the way you have put them together is like a Kancheepuram silk weaver putting together different colored threads to create a beautiful silk saree.

    Truly lovely post.

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    1. No explanations required, Jai.

      Love the simile. Makes me really believe in the beauty that you saw here. Many thanks, Jai. :)

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  11. Oh the connection was just brilliant. Damn, I have already read this thrice and I'm going again. This was sheer magic, beauty! Wow!

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    1. Thrice, really? That is huge, Soumya. You made me so happy!

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  12. This is extraordinary writing, Sakshi! I must join the chorus - you need to write a book and soon.

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    1. GOOD to see you here and even better to hear what you have to say, Suresh. It makes me nervous to even think of what you suggest. Not that I don't think about it, but it does seem like I'm still in my salad days. Maybe, someday! :)
      Thank you and keep coming back!

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  13. This is such a visual such an expressive post …. It was like watching a movie – Frame after brilliant Frame !
    You created the whole scene for me, made me see it, feel it .And that is the mark of a brilliant writer.
    This post is going to stay with me for a long long time !

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    1. My God, Ruch. Thank you. Those are really nice things to hear about one's writing. I am happy to hear this will stay with you for a long long time, bleak as it may be. Glad to have touched that chord!

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  14. Oh my God! You are so amazing. You should write a book. You really have that magic in your words. I mean it. The way you pictured the details. The emotions. The everything! You are brilliant :D

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    1. And you are so full of love always, Parvathy. Thank you so so much for sharing the love on FB too. Getting all vain in my brilliance now. :D

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  15. so engaging and the detailing is fabulous. Awesome!!

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  16. I am speechless, Sakshi at the powerful and evocative narratives bout different lives. Don't we all have our own battles to fight in life. Such an engaging tale which is the story of every commoners in town. The post means a lot to me and will tell you, someday:)

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    1. Thank you, Vishal. You are right. We are fighting our own battles, unseen unheard and without any chance of deliverance. I am happy to hear this post means a lot to you! :)

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  17. Very interesting. How lives are connected even when we don't know it. Very expressive with a sense of calm.

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  18. I read it and sat still for sometime.. At one point I wondered about the wakefulness of the driver and then it is there.. He misses by a few minutes.. Once when I lament at the empty home, next how the tele-caller plays a role in making the driver late to reach his father..And how he is in a daze after mind numbing job, having to bear with choicest abuses hurled by the madam, which in turn is the cause that the maid is late to reach her home..

    And oh the details, I loved this line - 'The plastic brush lost some teeth, which joined the exodus near the drain' ..

    Beautiful post and it definitely affects the reader, well at least me...

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    1. Oh so good to see you made all those connections. Really glad you liked this.
      Thank you, so so much!

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  19. What a beautiful narration and the scene building. One moment I was sitting in the living room looking at the madam shouting on the phone while looking at the maid from the corner of my eye and the next I was in the cab being shouted at by the same woman. However you saved the best scene for the end. This is brilliant writing.

    I am subscribed to your blog via email so I don't get to visit often and comment but I had to tell you how amazing this was!

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    1. Thank you so much, Prateek. I am glad you made your presence felt. This felt good. :)

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  20. You write really so well, Sakshi. I loved your narration. The way it joined...it connected...the style...all of it...keep them coming. Cheers!

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  21. This post has been selected for the Spicy Saturday Picks this week. Thank You for an amazing post! Cheers! Keep Blogging :)

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    1. I'm glad you read it too! :) Thank you, Mahathi.

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  23. ..fantabulous write..keep it up Sakshi.. :)

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    1. Thanks, Rigzin. Happy you liked it!

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  24. Fabulous read Sakshi.. And what a take on the prompt. Loved the way the stories connected somewhere :)

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  25. Loved the chain, Sakshi :) This leaves me with an ache in my heart !!

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    1. Thank you for reading this, Sreeja. :)

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  26. Fabulously written.
    Hanged with care. As if each entity is so carefully placed it fills a gap created for itself.
    Brilliant.

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  27. Absolutely amazing! Great narration and wonderfully sketched characters, connecting back to one another. Brilliant work, Sakshi!

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  28. Thanks to Purba I didn't miss this. Beautifully described Saks...the pain of loneliness and the endless wait.

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  29. This is pure brilliance! I have only read a few of your posts but I am already a fan of your writing. :)
    I can't wait to finish reading all your posts and also the new ones to come! :)

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    1. Hey, why not just ignore the older ones. You know, they embarrass me already! :P
      Thank you so much, Side! :)

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  30. This was really outstanding. Among the best I've read from you. Sheer brilliance in writing. No one could have decoded the prompt this way. I loved how you brought out the interconnections. Read it twice to grasp it. Not sure if I still got all the nuances perfectly. This one I bookmarked! Great going, Sakshi! BTW, I am not getting email notifications from your blog. Do check.

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    1. Wow! Thank you, Rachna. And many thanks for sharing it elsewhere too.
      Will check the notifications bit. Glad you pointed it out to me.

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