Thursday, 22 May 2014

Circle of Life



She had no idea what she was doing on the yellow bench, staring at the patterns the union of rust and old paint made on it. She had been married in the biggest house around this park, but she had never been here. Office and work and parties and shopping and spa and movies and office and work. That busy thing we call Life. To think that for 10 years she parked her Honda Accord right behind the stone wall this rickety bench rested upon. And on which she rested today. Alone. With some papers by her side. With her hand holding them down on the bench. What was she doing here? Shouldn’t I be in office? Damn, it’s 3:00 pm and Linux Tech comes calling in 30 minutes for handing over Eastern Region’s project to me and ... and this is what I have been waiting for, working for all my …

The wheels of the pram screeched on the jogger’s path every time it turned around the oval’s bends. They did now too, just at the yellow bench. The baby giggled, the dribble running down the chin doubled, as did the loud delight at the turns. The mother did not seem to notice. She pushed the pram along, looking straight at a point only she could see. A face devoid of expressions, but thoughts sprinting into each other at full speed. Somewhere else. Certainly not here, where the two pig-tails on the pram were dancing with glee. The baby let her mother be, as if she understood. But who can ... can anyone understand, help? This ... guilt, this feeling of nothingness. Just burps and nappies and sleepless nights. This worry I am too tired to admit as real ... bone fatigued. These chapters I had not signed up for my entire …  

She straightened up on her bench at the noise, where wheels met pavement to turn a different direction. The grinning jingling monkey hanging on the pram pulled her out from the abyss of her thoughts. Her Linux meeting was tucked in a drawer. She noticed then, the pram, the baby, the mother. And then she stared with an expression her face had never before seen. The papers felt the pressure ease, but only slightly. What a darling baby! Oh look at that hair those curls the twinkle in her eyes. How happy she is. How old must she be? A few months, maybe a year? I love how she claps her hands when the pram turns ... as if she is flying. They are called bundles of joy ... Oh! What a lucky mother … and her nails dug into the bench. Green with jealousy. Now yellow with old paint. She looked away at a barren tree. The papers still struggling to breathe under all that weight.

She swerved the pram with one hand and adjusted her dupatta. Took a long breath. Her mother used to say it helps whenever you feel cornered by customs or people even. Breathe, and keep that scream from coming. Keep it in. Will I ever wear my ghunghroos and dance ... Oh! I must be mad. God’s gift of a child in my pram and such ungrateful thoughts. Evil ... Her swollen feet seemed to agree with the noises in her head. Sent a shot of pain rocketing up into her thoughts, where it remained. Pulsating. Where it would remain for every waking hour of her being it seemed. What would I do to just feel free! Lie down on this grass with not a lullaby to breathe or story to tell. No night becoming day becoming night. Just dance ... hear applause. No responsibility, none depending on me. Like ... like that woman on the bench. Sitting free without a care in the world enjoying the sun the calm. If only in her place I could be … and it sprung within her. Jealousy. She averted her gaze skywards at the lonely cloud drifting aimlessly. The hand clutched the pram tighter. It picked up speed.

And then the wind blew. As if it was eavesdropping. Peeping inside their minds. Colluding with an unseen pattern, the wind blew strong, then stronger.

The baby’s joy knew no bounds. It soared like a polythene on a string, as did her joyful shouts all around. In the meantime, one woman’s dupatta with stains of milk and baby oil protested and was set free, even as the hands tried holding on to it. The other’s papers blew away with the wind, no longer wanting to be clutched, leaving the yellow bench behind. There was confusion in the air. Hair and papers and clothes and pig tails all going wild. Together. The wind kept blowing as if it had a purpose to. And then it slowed down, just a bit. The baby’s mother helped collect the papers spread across the lawn. The woman on the bench unravelled the soiled dupatta from her legs. They walked up to each other to hand over what was not their own. And then to sense what was theirs, together.

The tears. 

They had both been crying. One because she had a child and the other because she perhaps never could. That’s what the papers said, those medical reports. She had just found out and had driven home. Straight. To this bench where she had never been before. 

The wind was gone. Left a quiet behind, intentionally. Also left behind a lawn peppered with leaves. Mostly dry and wilting but some fresh and green too. Like hope, no not jealousy! Or say, like finding a friend to share a yellow bench with, no matter how rickety the bench or how unknown the friend.

To share a circle of life, and understand the patterns drawn within it too. 


[Written for WordPress Daily Prompts : 365 Writing Prompts. The prompt for today was - Green-eyed – Tell us about the last time you were really, truly jealous of someone. Did you act on it? Did it hurt your relationship?]

73 comments:

  1. Poignant post Sakshi. I don't think I have anything else to add here. Nicely done

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  2. A woman who's free wants to be tied down with love. And the one who has it in plenty is yearning to be free. You have portrayed this eternal dilemma so beautifully. Sakshi.

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    1. Thank you so much for liking this piece. I wasn't very sure if I was successful in showing what you did manage to gather. Happy! :)

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  3. Sad how we all believe that the weight of the world we carry is the heaviest.
    Nice narration, Sakshi!

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  4. Now I know what your writing reminds me of, George Eliot. It is the same concept of everything being connected by invisible cobwebby strands, touch one and the whole cobweb reverberates. The connected-ness shows.

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    1. Oh my! I recently ended up reading the whole 'Mill on the Floss' because I saw huge parallels between that and 'Sita's Curse'. She's classic, our George Eliot.
      I love what you say about 'invisible cobwebby strands'. It is true, and I now realise it is true for the stories I have written too. I would not have realised this myself.
      Thanks a lot, Ritu ma'am.

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  5. It touched the heart Sakshi. What I like in your stories is how you bring people together with the raw emotions.

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    1. Thanks, Jas. They are about the very basic, I do realise that. Stories around us, everywhere. I do wish one day I can let my imagination run wild and reach other planets and civilisations. Something tells me I will never be bale to write fantasy.
      Many thanks for reading!

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  6. A moving account of two women vulnerable to their circumstances. Beautiful expressions. The two para's that describe their trauma are heart wrenching. Great job Sakshi.

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    1. Thank you, Anita. That felt good. :)

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  7. Ah! The grass is greener..and how beautifully you painted this picture of eternal dilemma young women are facing these days. Very real, I can so easily picture them. Wonderful story, Sakshi.

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    1. Thank you, Mousume. Good to see you reading me today! :)

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    1. :) Thank you, Janu. Made me happy! :)

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  9. Wow!! I'm speechless!! Such a wonderful post!! So poignant and beautiful..

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  10. Very touching piece Sakshi...

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  11. Sakshi! Again such a brilliant, power, poignant and emotional story weaved and touched the heart. You've sensitively stroked with your pen the condition of women, the one desiring to live every moment of life minus a child and the other one longing for a child. Love the end where both hearts melts and meet each other, subconsciously, at a point. Speak bout' soul connection:)

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    1. :) Yes, something like a soul connection made coincidentally. Thanks a lot for the appreciation, Vishal.

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  12. Sakshi , a powerful punch here.
    Two women who desired what they did not have . The wind of desire brought them closer to understand each other, but can they trade places. NO. This is life.

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    1. Well summed up, Kalpana. Thanks for reading me! :)

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  13. So beautifully portrayed... But such is life.

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    1. Such is life, indeed! :)
      Thanks, A!

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  14. The emotions are so profound, moved me immensely. :)

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  15. WOW!!!! That was so touching. Feelings weaved into words stirred the strings of my heart! Brilliantly penned down!

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    1. Thanks so much, Nibhz. Glad you liked it so much.

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  16. The classic grass is always greener on the other side. Brought out nicely with the tale. Also how easily we fall into the trap of envy as we struggle with our own life situations.

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    1. Yes, Rachna.
      I now realise you are not on FB. Hope all is well and you are enjoying a break from it all. Do come back soon though! Take care.

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  17. well dont we all do that always .. as rachna says grass is greener on the other side always .. I always think why dont we get what we want.. we dont want something but have it .. someone wants it so hard but cant have it .. LIFE.. typical

    Bikram

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    1. Yes, always always, B.
      Typical. :)
      Thanks for reading!

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  18. I don't know which adjective to use.

    But if you ever decide to write a book, be sure that you have a reader here who'd love to read and share it with others.

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    1. :) I wonder if I ever will write a book. But this comment I will remember always. :)
      Thank you, Vaishali.

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  19. Beautiful Sakshi, the narrative is amazing. And I particularly loved this line - That thing we call life.. A very nice usage of words for the story and it does paint a beautiful picture :)

    Cheers,
    V+

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    1. Thanks, Vinchesso. You do read real carefully, don't you? :)
      Best.

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    2. He he, I love the play of words and I have always been a huge fan of those.. I really do like your posts, lot of life in them :) ..

      PS: I am trying to get rid of the name from my google blogger profile. For some reason it is not taking Vinay Nagaraju as an update :D .. And the comment section doesn't allow me to post using any other profile.. So I guess I am kinda stuck with a silly old nickname :D

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    3. Thanks, V+. Issi khushi mein let me say V++. :D

      Oh, okay, Vijay, I thought you were a national chess champ and hence the name. :D I did have to check twice if I got the spelling right. However, I'm just going to stick with V++. :D

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  20. All of us are crawling day in and day out in the circle of life. We really do not know what we really want and if we are really happy with what we have. Are we in terms with what we are ? The way we are ? Nicely portrayed this eternal confusion through two women characters.. enjoyed it.

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    1. Quite a lot of subjectivity there, isn't it, Jayanta? I don't think man can ever be in terms with all that he has. There is always something else something more that he desires. It's human aspiration, and that is what keeps us alive.
      Thanks a lot for reading and dropping your feedback. :)

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  21. Very moving piece, lovely usage of the thoughts of the two ladies as a medium of narration, awesome usage of the wind at the end of the post to merge the two stories together. Lovely post.

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  22. That is a beautiful story...that i could see and feel as i was reading. seriously can't think of anything more to say...simply lovely..

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    1. Thanks, Preethi. 'Simply lovely' is music enough to hear. :)

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  23. That restless feeling of discontent and yearning for more out of life, even when all seems well on the surface, captured nicely here :) Very well done, Sakshi.

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    1. Thanks so much for reading this, Beloo. :)

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  24. Beautifully and very sensitively captured Sakshi ! Human beings are never contended are they..

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  25. I could actually live it while I was reading it....

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  26. I could actually live it while I was reading it....

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  27. I love the way you connect the fragments that are not joined. You have a way of telling stories. :) Keep them coming.

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    1. Thank you. I have barely written any stories so far, but you encourage me. :)

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    2. I read your other story too...don't remember the name...the maid washing clothes...her broken bangle washing away and the cab driver....:)

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    3. :) You made me so happy. That was 'The Oranges'. My favourite so far.

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  28. Well written Sakshi. And yes 'The Oranges' was my favourite too :)

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  29. Every time I read your short stories I take half an hour to think and re think and feel those emotions again and again.. you just don't write but create some kind of magic with words that makes the reader just sink in it completely... I have become your fan, to say less... just beautiful... still floating in these words and emotions...

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    1. Oh my, Shruti. Those are very beautiful words to read. I will hold them very dear to my heart to feel happy on days which make me feel low about my writing. :)
      I love that you loved this!

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  30. Ok. What should I say? Rather, how should I say anything? Your posts leave me speechless always. Whether you write fiction or some snippets from life or book reviews, each of them set a benchmark that I aim for ... you truly are an amazing writer.

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    1. Amrit, I really like your reviews. And you know how good your poetry is. So this coming from you should make ME speechless. I am not your benchmark. You are made for bigger things. :)
      Thank you!

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  31. Once, I felt I was the woman on the bench. The next moment , the girl with the flying dupatta, pushing the pram , made me feel I was living in her.
    So much truth in what you've written, Sakshi.
    So many of the 'woman on the bench' among us. And many more of the other woman, too.
    All united by some invisible strand of destiny.
    The fragments of those two women are there in each one of us.
    And that binds us together, as women.

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    1. Lovely way to sum up my thoughts behind writing this post. I should have called this story 'The Circle of Women'. :)
      Many thanks!

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