Archive for category Short stories

Rest

The waves crashed against the cliff

The wind whipped her long black hair

Reminiscing about the ages she lived thro

As she stood waiting

For the golden rays of the sun…

So many centuries…so many identities…I thought about my life as it was since the beginning…Flashes of it came to the fore…

An attendant in the court of King John, fleeing with the Romanovs during the Russian revolution, Watching the beheading of Queen Marie Antoinette, Watched the first play of Shakespeare come alive, the American revolution, paid a visit to Dr. Livingstone in Africa, been the wife of the Caliph of Persia and the mother of another, witnessed the sufferings of soldiers as a military nurse in WWII, paid homage at the passing of Mahatma Gandhi… it was a long list

I was tired. Tired of constantly moving from place to place changing my identity. Tired of constantly having to look over my shoulder. I was tired of watching the farce of human evolution. I was ready to let go and sleep.

My only regret was… Nikolai…But I guess it is for the best. If he knew how much I loved him, he would never let me go. And he deserved someone better than the world weary Queen of the damned.

The waves were already tinged pink at the horizon. I could feel my skin burning even now. Gritting my teeth, I watched my first sunrise in over a millennia.

And there she stood

Frozen for a second in time

Till the wind blew her ashes

Into the sea

Hidden in the shadows of the trees, Nikolai watched the beatific smile that lit up her face before her body turned to dust. “I will always love you…Sleep well Zoya”

Dust thou art And to dust thou returnest

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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The yagna

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Hamlet Act 1, scene 5

The heat was oppressing even as I got out of the car to step on the soil of my ancestors. My birthplace-a little village in the State of Kerala in Southern India.

My grandmother, a tiny woman with nerves of steel, gave me a hug and a broad smile as she enquired about my journey and told the maid behind her to place my bags in my old room.

After chit-chat and general gossip for sometime, she sent me to the ‘kolam’ (a large bathing pool). Dressed in the traditional settu-mundu(a two piece sari), I toweled my hair dry. It was wonderful being back in this house, back to my roots.

My grandmother set out my lunch for me and we settled down to feast on traditional keralite sadya or feast. I commented on how hot it was this year when compared to the last timed I visited. She explained that it had been a year since it had rained. The crops were suffering and drinking water was running out. Even the kulams had less water now, a fact that I had noted as I had my bath. The village panchayat had called a eminent brahmana to perform the rain invoking yagna. Today was the last day and it was supposed to rain at the close of the yagna.

I had my doubts about such things working, being of the general that believed in science and not in tradition as my grandmother put it. I explained that it was not tradition that I was against but superstitions like this yagna which seemed more like money making schemes to me.

I spent the rest of my afternoon meeting my cousins and the myriad aunts and uncles and neighbors in the village.

Apparently the whole village had gathered in the huge temple grounds where the yagna was being performed. I had to appreciate the brahmanas performing the yagna in this blistering heat even if I did not set much store by what they were doing.

Nevertheless, there was something to be said for watching a yagna being performed. Te chants and the smells and sounds added to the flickering flames were hypnotic and created an atmosphere that had to be seen to be believed. I could see the hope on the villager’s faces. Women in traditional sttu mundu with multi-colored blouses, a deep red bindi and sacred chandanam on their foreheads and the men elegant in their dhotis. The little girls played at a distance decked in brightly colored pattu-pavadas.

Splot…I blinked as a drop of water fell on my head…The crowd was murmuring in delight as drop after drop fell on the parched earth…

The rain came down in torrents and the people were dancing with joy as I looked on in disbelief as the yagna fire was completely put out by the rain it summoned.

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the Flickering Candle

The candle light flickered in the wind, half heartedly staying on. There is no sound from the expansive halls where once it was filled with clanking of bangles, tinkle of anklets,  laughter over a joke said, shouts of children playing in the hall, the footsteps of servants running errands. All that was till a week ago. The hall lay empty and barren, the two old souls were all that is left of the days of the old.

The house had been sold. The house was to be demolished as soon as night passes. Then they will have to leave. Leave where he had been born. Leave the only place she knew after her marriage. The home where their children and their children’s children were birthed and made their homes.

They had their share now. Nobody cared about the old structure of bricks and stone and the two lost souls. Lost in thoughts and grief, they leaned back in their chairs in the veranda. The candle gave a final splutter and died.

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Amina


Amina was dead. Amina with her twinkling brown eyes, soft smile and gentle ways, was dead.

Killed by my brother to save the family’s honor when she tried to run away with the neighbor’s son Khalid.

Abba clapped Afsal, my oldest brother on his shoulder. I did not understand why my sister had to die. I remember Abba preaching that good Muslims did not kill unless the cause was holy. What is unholy about loving someone and wanting to be someone’s wife. Amina had to marry someday. Why couldn’t it be to someone she knew and loved.

My thoughts have been muddled ever since Afsal rushed into the house this morning and furiously told Abba that Amina had dishonored the family by running away with Khalid but Afsal had caught them with his friends. Abba had turned so silent then he told Afsal to save the family’s honor.

Afsal returned with the police in handcuffs. Abba embraced him and said he was proud of him.

I’m standing with my family in the veranda after the police took Afsal away . I watch Abba’s stern profile as he sees his once beloved daughter’s belongings being hauled out to be burnt with her body in the morning. I wonder at the difference in Abba’s thoughts. Amina was his favorite as I was my mother’s. there was never a moment when Amina was not by his side-laughing, talking, fetching things for him. Amina the child he loved the most. The same child he had killed by sending his son, when she had fallen in love with someone his honor wouldn’t approve of.

I nod and give a last look at my sister’s things before I walk into the room I shared with Amina just the night before.

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Moving on…

i saw this pic on thatlittlesomthing.wordpress.com..

…thank u so much.this pic was my inspiration for this story n i hope u dont mind

She had cried so much when she heard Alan had cancer. Now she had no more tears to shed. She hadn’t cried at the funeral. Instead she stood by the coffin, telling goodbye to her long time friend and lover.

As she dangled her legs over the pier…she thought of the days she used to sit in the same spot talking with Alan, teasing him about his newest writings..how long ago it seemed…when it was barely a week.

People have gone back to their own lives, but her life was in stasis…waiting for her to make the first move.

She knew in time that she would but not now when the pain was too fresh…

She thought bitterly how much movies and Hollywood romanticized terminal illness…the protagonist would spend his last few days doing what he always wanted to do with his lady love and would die peacefully in her arms, with all his loved ones around him, promising to be together again in the next life…

How far from reality that was…

Cancer and the chemo with constant medications had drained Alan so much that it was difficult for him to stand much less go skiing in the alpines like in the movies. And there had been no dying peacefully either. She had watched helplessly as he moaned in intense pain clutching his stomach crying out for her help. And when his vitals almost  failed, his eyes blinded by agony had met hers for the last time…and he had died knowing he would never see her again..Pain has no dignity or grace…death even lesser…

No, she dint set much store for re-birth. That hope is for those who just cannot accept death. But she, she had seen death and knew there would be no return. And she wasn’t willing to believe otherwise even if they thought her a  cold-hearted bitch. Yes she hurt…so much that she would never be the same again. But in time this numbness and pain would fade and she would move on as everyone else…maybe even meet someone and get married and live a full and happy life…But for now she was content to sit by the pier near the house Alan had left her in his will.

While watching the sun moving closer to the horizon, she knew she would have to sell this house, her last physical reminder of him after sometime. For what use she had with this house when what or who attracted her to it no longer exists…

She knew she would never forget Alan, even if she moved on…pushed to the back of her mind and buried in new memories..yes…but when those memories come rushing back, he will  be there foremost in her thought…

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