Stupid

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Not all lives are patterned the same.

Not every breath grudged.

Not every effort rejected.

Not every attempt thwarted.

Stupid girl chanted this mantra every day of her life. Her special little prayer. Her little affirmation of faith. In anticipation of the deluge of change, she knew awaited her.

Stupid girl stood by the door, watching the others at play. They called her.

Who didn’t want attention? A wise person once said.

Hide and Seek. Stupid girl hid with the others. Stupid girl was caught first. Bad at hiding, Stupid girl had no choice but to seek.

Easier said than done.

Stupid girl gave up after a few attempts and returned home sniveling.

Mother was too busy worrying about the evening meal to bother.

Who didn’t want attention? A wise person once said.

Stupid girl wiped the tears off her grimy cheeks and settled down in a corner with her books. The film on her burning eyes made the letters all blurred and they swam, enticing her to dream. Dream? Stupid girl couldn’t for long. Mother came by, saw her with a faraway look in her eyes and hit her on the head. Feeling very stupid again and most insignificant, Stupid girl looked at her lesson. It didn’t make sense to her at all.

Father was at it again. This time Stupid girl knew dinner would be late. An hour later, Stupid girl crept into the kitchen for dinner. The vessels were scattered on the floor and Mother was sitting there, staring at nothing.

Who didn’t want attention? A wise person once said.

Stupid girl looked at her and away.

Stupid girl gave up on Mother. Food. Where was food,now? Stupid girl foraged for food. Father had thrown the rotis into the sink. The vegetables lay in the slop that had been a curry earlier that evening. Stupid girl could smell the tobacco rolled in betel leaves. See the red stains on the wall.

Telltale signs.

Stupid girl picked up the soggy rotis and ate one. Stupid girl gagged. Threw up. Got slapped by Mother. Father snarled again. A feral beast.

Who didn’t want attention? A wise person once said.

Stupid girl felt really stupid this time.

Being hit always made her feel like an idiot. Her brain would freeze for so long, Stupid girl couldn’t think anymore. Stupid girl couldn’t say a word either.  Stupid girl felt like an imbecile.

Stupid girl blinked at her reflection in the mirror and now suddenly thought of the beggar who sat in front of the temple. The stupid grin on his face. Stupid girl was like him. How grateful he looked when someone dropped a coin into his bowl! Stupid girl felt the same too. For Stupid girl was a beggar sitting on the fringes of her home, her school, starved for affection and maybe even attention.

Who didn’t want attention? A wise person once said.

The only difference was, nobody noticed her.

No alms came her way. No words, no smiles, it was as though Stupid girl wasn’t even there.

Stupid girl looked at the group of girls chattering incessantly. The only time Stupid girl wished they would speak to her was the last. It was a slap in her stupid face.

Who didn’t want attention? A wise person once said.

She felt their scorn bore into her soul.

She felt dumb again. Stupid really.

Stupid girl watched in incomprehension, as they turned away and laughed a little louder, their backs an impenetrable fortress.

Why did they then seek her when they were alone and reject her when together? She had listened eagerly when each one told her things. Had run little errands for them, willingly. Had helped each one enthusiastically almost every other day.

Why did they now behave this way?

Stupid girl felt like a moron again.

Who didn’t want attention? A wise person once said.

Story of her life.

Stupid girl.

Stupid girl grew up, despite life.

Stupid girl lived, despite dying a thousand deaths inside. You gotta hand it to her. A thousand at least.

Stupid girl tried to believe, despite all her faith being crushed.

Stupid girl dared to love, hoping it would make her feel whole.

Love split her soul to pieces mangled beyond recognition.

Stupid roadkill.

Stupid girl thought…What? She still thought?

Stupid girl could have a family.

Really? Stupid couldn’t be that stupid now, could she?

Well she was. Stupid.

Father died.

Mother cried.

Stupid girl lied? Sighed? Tied? Flied? Gosh what would her teacher say!

Fried? Plied? Mied? Aied? Jied? Kied? Wied? Nied? Ried? Uied? Hied? Xied? Zied? Ried? Oh no! Said that already!

Vied? Aha! That made sense! No, that was too stupid a rhyme. Even Stupid girl knew that.

Maybe she should have just died? Now that made a lot of sense. Even to Stupid.

Stupid girl now made another attempt.

Who didn’t want attention? A wise person once said.

Stupid is as stupid does.

Stupid thought she could be happy. Stupid thought she could start afresh.

Stupid didn’t reckon that grownups were overgrown versions of the little bullies they had been.

Who didn’t want attention? A wise person once said.

So Stupid thought she could make a difference.

So she thought.

Stupid! Oh, so stupid!

Stupid girl chanted her prayer. Yes, you are right. A stupid prayer.

Shouldn’t her prayer have been a little different? If only she knew better.

Not all lives are patterned the same, but mine is frozen forever.

No breath grudged, but mine.

No effort rejected, but mine.

No attempt thwarted, but mine.

Every single time.

Every single time.

So now Stupid girl lives her life and is as invisible to people as beggars are. No, the futility of it all- she cannot be invisible, now can she?

More of an eyesore really!

Who didn’t want attention? A wise person once said.

Look how gazes are hastily averted, things are held with a tighter grasp, conversation becomes animated. Oh, for Heaven’s sake let there be no gap, we simply cannot allow Stupid girl to loom large and clumsy, awkward, on our horizon!

For everybody who is stupid enough to look at her, I won’t say any more, see for yourself…

Just notice them wince and cringe. They visibly shrink away from her as she glides about her day, a stupid freak, with a stupid smile on her face, a stupid word on her lips as she waits for someone to get her.

Finally get her.

Who didn’t want attention? A wise person once said.

After all, she does believe in the power of her mantra.

Not all lives are patterned the same.

Not every breath grudged.

Not every effort rejected.

Not every attempt thwarted.

Stupid girl!

Who didn’t want attention? A wise person once said.

Anticipation

Doomspell

footy-and-foody

My waters beguile you. I stretch as far as the eye can see, not a drop fit for life. I’m the ocean. You don’t know my depth. I hold sway by my shores, my waves rendering rocks to fine sand, washed onto another shore. I hold in my ample bosom, many a wrecked ship I helped reach the abyss; their treasure now declared void and soon forgotten.

I take all the venom you cast into my waters, churning below the surface.

The poisons around me choke the unsuspecting. Vast skies as far as the eye can behold. Not a single gasp purer than what is expelled. I’m the vast expanse around you. I don’t know any boundaries. I just sweep by the horizon, my gusts gathering clouds, scattering their virulence over the thirsty earth. I hold in my outspread arms the souls I gather, their lives now oblivion.

I spew all the toxins I can in the air above me, spiraling into the firmament.

Don’t pay any heed.

Go about your business, while I wait.

[175 words]

 

PJ, thank you for hosting this challenge. Such a wonderful platform to share our work!

Thank you Footy and Foodie for the beautiful photograph.

Dr.M.Balamuralikrishna- A tribute

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Grew up listening to your haunting melodies.

Please click on this link to listen to Emi Sethura Linga? – my personal favourite.

For those who cannot understand the lyrics of this tattvam , my feeble attempt at translation.

A devotee of Lord Shiva regrets his inability to offer the Lord, the purest tokens of his gratitude. 
He contemplates offering the holy waters of the Ganges, but a little tadpole informs him that the river water is contaminated by the spittle of frogs and fishes living in the water.
What can be purer than milk fresh from the holy cow? Sorry, says the calf, but the calves got there first and their spittle has pervaded the milk.
Alright then, what about flowers freshly plucked from the garden? Millions of bees buzz, from their hives on the branches of trees confessing that they got there first!
What can a devotee then do? He can only lament, ‘What can I do, Oh Lord, What can I possibly do?’ ‘Emi sethura Linga?’

You will be missed, Maestro.

Rest in peace.

Head in the Clouds

sunday

Now you know. All that exists is now. The beauty of breathing. The beauty around you and love. Just plain love. You don’t expect to be loved back any more. You know nothing can hold you anymore.

It’s so simple really. Look at the clouds!

Step out of your Self.

Caught in those murky depths, you slowly began to choke.

Self-preservation.

You learnt in your mother’s womb. You waited, remember, though you knew, all you wanted was out.

When you found love it scarred you. You were branded, seared with hate, born of love.

Self-preservation reared its head.

You made a life for yourself. You learnt the art of separating soul from body. You began to free your mind.

You thought things had changed but a dusky fog penetrated your shield and fed itself on energies fostered by your errant mind. You lashed out. First at others and then at yourself.

Self-preservation kicked in, yet again.

You perfected the art of living. You gathered forces, rose above the blackness, which threatened to engulf, and found pristine clouds in gloomy mists. You rose, defying all gravity. You left it all behind. Nothing mattered. You forgave the world.

You forgave yourself.

[199 words]

This is in response to the Sunday Photo Fiction Prompt, hosted by Al Forbes. Thanks for the opportunity!

Fish and Chips

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Every Sunday he would disappear with his fishing gear, coaxing his motorbike to rattle its bumpy way to one of the elusive spots that have perfected the art of camouflage.

A few had posted themselves already: silent sentinels at their chosen spots, dotting the riverside.The water dared to barely ripple under their watchful eyes.

The line dangled in the water and he settled down to a morning of calm, that stretched ahead of him. Oh, the bliss of not having a conversation. The hours of silence. The birds. The silent unspoken code of companionable silence between brothers who meant business.

Fishing was serious business indeed.

He unstatued himself after a few hours. Late in the  afternoon he sauntered into the shack by the pier and ordered fish and chips with draught beer.

He would return late in the evening sporting sunburn, like a warrior, ready to face the week ahead.

He never caught a fish, however. Ever.

Never complained about it though.

You see, he never had a hook at the end of his line.

[175 words]

Thank you Barb C T, of the blog Gallimaufry, for the beautiful photograph! A million thanks for hosting this challenge PJ! Wish I could do this every single day!

Mountain Belles

Hey there Dolkar! Long time no see!

Hello Pasang! You look great! I love what you’ve done to your hair. Left it loose, hanging down your shoulders.

Yes, Dolkar, I don’t have your patience. You take such good care of your silver tresses, combing them every morning and evening and tying them back into this adorable little knot at the back of your head.

Wow Pasang, all your teeth have gone! How beautiful! I can see your gums!

Don’t worry Dolkar, you’ll lose that lone tooth soon. And then your look will be complete!

Pasang! Thank you! This tooth is rather annoying. It is a sore spot, comes in the way of my gums when I’m chewing. Carmah says I should get new teeth. How uncomfortable! You were saying something about my hair. Yes! You know how tiresome my now thinning tresses were four decades ago. I’m so glad I lost most of my hair and I can now wash my hair at will. It dries up so quickly. No sinusitis, coughs or colds.

You look fabulous. You have at least twenty more wrinkles than you sported the last time we met.

Oh, absolutely. You see, I laugh so much these days. They are crazy, these children. They are so stupid to worry so much. Yesterday, the goat went missing. You should have heard Carmah fuss. I told her the little one would return and it sure did, in the evening. Carmah lost it though! Want more wrinkles? You could do with a few, you know. Sitting out in the sun longer, helps. Next year, I aim for more lines, around the eyes.

Ha! Ha! Any more lines around the eyes and I won’t be able to recognize you, my dear.

Don’t worry. You’ll recognize me by my beautiful jewellery. I look so good, don’t I?

Yes, you do, Love! Look at my necklace. Got a new one just last week.

You were always a great one for jewellery, Pasang. Your fingers look so beautiful with these folds and lines. Do your rings still fit?

Yes, they do. I’m rather vain about my chapped hands. Every crack is testimony to the chores I still do at home.

Yes, you always do a lot. Now, how about some Butter tea at the shop up the mountain?

OK. let’s go. But first let me take a look at the mirror.

You always look good, dear, you don’t need the mirror!

I know my darling, but I do love a little primp.

You never change!

You too!

 Primp

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Image sourced from the internet.

Checkmate

 

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So we sit across the table. This board between us. Time and some random moves separating us.

I check all the pieces. Left with a few. Your foolish haste never ceases to amaze.

I check the pieces. I win again. Yes! I’m invincible!

I shall re-arrange the board again. See how things turn out this time.

It is ready for me again. I make the first move, as usual.

No, not that. Hold on to a few pieces. Don’t sacrifice all your pawns. Allow the…

It’s my board. My life. My moves.

Hold on. Think before you make a move. I’m you, eventually. There’s consequences. I know.

You? Me? No way! I’m young. It’s my life.

How many times shall I try to piece it all together? How…?

Leave me alone! I’m free to make my moves.

I shudder. What’s your next move?

Check.

No. It doesn’t end like this. Let’s begin again.

[153 words]

Thank you, Iain Kelly, for this week’s photograph. I hope this piece is worthy of your wonderful photograph.

PJ , thanks for hosting this incredible challenge! ❤

Epiphany

Epiphany.

At dawn.

You give up. There is no struggle anymore. You are light again. You are not dead, however. You float. On the surface of all the raging waters you once thought was your life.

You give up. You offer no resistance. You are led to different shores, bits of you erode and you now perfect the art of living. You don’t seek hope because, for you, hope doesn’t exist anymore. Not from the outside world, anyway. You become Hope yourself.  Hope festers, becoming you. Because you don’t care anymore.

Care to seek hope? Not really.

Care, to seek hope. Not your deal.

You rue the day you were born. A product of indecent haste, you are everything that nothing should ever be. Their mistakes reflect on you. Your mistakes loom large, magnified a million times over.

You look around, with overwhelming shame, at the lives of people.

The images taunt you, showing you how things should be.

Sometimes it gets under your skin.

Like an abscess.

Suppurated, like a gleaming ruby edged with pearls.  And then thoughts fester in your mind. Thoughts find release in words, words that are twisted out of context, startling you with meanings you never thought possible. You now choose to mute yourself. Your silence says more than all the slander the world ever spewed.

You feel the dull throb of the sore you left unattended.

It bursts.

You are amazed at the oozing drama. The jewels of suppression, harvested.

Oppressed, your shame renders you numb.

Your thoughts, now, gather to fester, seeking blessed release.

A ruby and lots of pearls.

Pearls mean tears, don’t they?

You have tears you say. You prepare to shed them.

Your eye tears up. Mind you. Only one eye. They say the eyes never behave differently. Two eyes, one vision. But nothing is really normal, right? This eye of yours sheds a tear that you aren’t even aware of. You sit sipping your morning coffee and it trickles down your cheek. A surprised onlooker bothers to query and you attribute it to an unheard of allergy. Only you know, the secret revealed to you, it’s your life.

The epic tale of Murphy’s Woe.

You realize soon enough that there are people who have heard of legendary lives such as yours.

The great Murphy dreamed of a perfect subject like you.

You prove him right.

Every single time.

How?

Let’s see.

You are born into this family, you had no choice, really.

He didn’t know how to be a father. He couldn’t really.

She turned cold, even before you screamed angrily as you fought your way out, shrieking your fury at the unfortunate accident of your birth.

Accident?

Right!

You should have been crushed under the wheels of their drama.

But, no. Instead, you were beaten to pulp, every single time, but you were persistent, learning a lot from the Roadrunner Show. Flattened, you waited, popped your limbs out, cackled in glee and continued your mutilated survival.

You wanted to live, right?

You wanted to breathe, right?

You filled your lungs with painful gasps in the sewer of your existence.

Your deformed spirit is still an embarrassment to the wholesome lives around you.

Trees twist around their trunks, seeking elusive sunlight.

Roots claw into the earth, finding traces of moisture that doesn’t even begin to quench your thirst.

Everything snaps or wriggles away into the mud while you lie, on your side, head burrowed in the muck, willing yourself to find air.

You grow up too. Somehow. You make it so far. However, you don’t learn from the mistakes of the ones who begot you. You decide to play with fate. You go down the same road. But fate, she has other plans for you. Your choice after all. So endure it. Remember, she always has the last laugh.

Ha!

You look away. Out into the world. You try to make a difference and think, now it is all going to work out.

It’s your choice after all.

You add to your collection of rubble, crumbling bits of your mistakes as well.

After a while you are blessed. You turn blind. You stop looking anymore. You are now completely visionless.

Congratulations!

For now, you realize you’ve let yourself down.

You allowed one chink in your armor, one ray of light in your chasm to be the real deal and the walls close in.

You are trapped.

You are now in an incinerator of your own making.

You know there is no hope.

Not anymore.

Not for the likes of you.

How do you expect to hold on to strings believing them to be hope?

There are no more strings for you to hold on to.

Want to survive?

Stop looking for hope. On the outside at least.

It’s a battle alright.

Learn to fight. Or face it. Or give up.

Either way, it doesn’t matter.

Ever.

On second thoughts, why do I even bother telling you all this?

That is Epiphany.

My Epiphany.

At dusk.

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Second Thoughts

Becoming Mrs. Reddy.

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Amma sat chewing on her customary paan, betel leaf and nut, till her mouth and teeth turned a crimson red and fragments of green nestled in the gaps between her teeth. She grinned and her mouth was a festive Christmas theme all gone wrong. I looked away and cleared the table after dinner. The Lord and Master had had his dinner and retired to his customary spot on the balcony. Contorting himself at an impossible angle, he leaned against the railing of the balcony, talking incessantly on his phone.

The telephone rang. Checking the caller id, I answered, for it was my friend, Rekha. I spoke softly into the receiver and the TV blared in the corner, updating us all on the condition of the Kulkarni family. Mrs. Kulkarni was declaring her daughters-in-law absolutely incompetent, while her sons stood in the background watching helplessly. The camera raced from one impossibly made-up face to a fixed one and then to an apoplectic one, when the Lord and Master walked in, folding the hem of his lungi, tying the ends in a tight knot.

‘Sarla!’ He snarled. I hastily put the receiver down.

‘You are just like Mrs. Reddy.’

Ah, the reference to Mrs. Reddy. Again. Irksome

I knew Mrs. Reddy. Anybody who was somebody knew her. She was this delightful woman who was everything a regular woman could never aspire to be. In a sea of illiterate and barely literate women, Mrs. Reddy had a Bachelor’s degree in Home Science. Oh! The exotic creature! In a world where women teamed up their silks with one faded black blouse, Mrs. Reddy had matching accessories. And her home! A study in elegance. From the store-bought curtains to the polished brassware, she was elegant, cultured, sophisticated and savvy. Such a far cry from the women who bunched their sarees around their flabby waistlines, hair tied up into awkward knots, a bunch of wilting flowers sitting awkwardly atop oiled heads, Mrs. Reddy was unique. She dressed like a dream, a movie star, and was the cynosure of all eyes.

So, it puzzled me no end. Why would the Lord and Master snarl at me while comparing me to this gorgeous creature?

It certainly was a compliment.

I sat at the table chopping vegetables for the next day. I worked in a bank and had to balance both work at home and outside. But, I don’t want to talk about that now.

Amma got up to get herself a cushion and as she walked back into the hall, scratching her head and inspecting the residue under her nails, I said, ‘Do you remember the dinner we had at Mrs. Reddy’s? I wonder what the recipe of her salad dressing is. Do you think she adds honey?’

Amma snorted. ‘Aiyyo. Malini can neverr stop yexperrimenting woenly. She and her barrr-coli, that green cauliflower and mushrooms.’ She spat out of the window and said, ‘Chee, mushrooms are fungusss, you know. Unclean. Aiyyo, thoo.’

I seized the opportunity. Someone had told me that if you want to get the dirt on someone, praise him or her to any random acquaintance.

I was not disappointed.

‘I believe Malini Reddy is so beautiful. What a lovely home she has! Mr. Reddy is so lucky.’

Amma launched off. I sat, mesmerized. When Amma gets her claws into someone, she can be merciless.

Meeow!

‘Maaaaalini is good and alllll. Wokay. Aaaal very nice woenly. Bootifool, you say, Yess. If you go to the booty parlarrr regularly, spending aaaal his moneyyyyy…

Cooking-aa? Yesss. She cooks. No orrrdinaree fud for her. All vegetabulls and frootsu. All Home Science naansensss.

Yesssss. And she has no shame woenly. Gossoooooooooooooooooout with her fraands and allllll. Sometimesss Mr. Reddy comes here woenly to have meals. He tells for mee.. aiyyo vaini, he calls me sister-in-law, you allwaysss make the bestu saammbbaaar and rice. Your vegetabulls are saaaft and I can swamp it in one go woenly…Malini never cooks the vegatabulls prraaperlee woenly. Yand she knows-aa that I am home for dinnerrrr, but she goes aaff with her best fraands to movies and restauranttts, she don’t care woenly.’

Amma paused.

I held my breath.

Why was I like her?

Look at me. My drab existence.

Amma lowered her tone significantly.

‘Akchooly, Malini talks to all mens. She sits with them at the clubb, and talks sooooo much woenly. All we ladies we sitttt with each other woenly, but-aaa, this Maaleeneee, she crazy. She likes to talk to mens. She drinks wine alsooo. I sawd. With mice wone eyes woenly. Mr. Reddy lookeddd so hurrt, I feel sooooo bad for him. I made him special coffeeee that day…’

Amma droned on.

Oh. Now it made sense.

The Lord and Master didn’t like me speaking on the phone to Rekha.

He didn’t want me to have a life.

I worked because it suited him.

The money.

There. Now the reference to Mrs. Reddy made sense.

Well, I always liked Mrs. Reddy.

Now, I positively loved her.

The next evening I came home, changed and walked out calling out to Amma, ‘I’m going out to catch a movie with Rekha. And then dinner. Don’t wait up. Tell him to heat up the dal in the microwave.’

I ran into the Lord and Master who turned his scooter into the compound. I waved at a cosmonaut whose eyes almost popped. His blood pressure, I didn’t care to know!

Oh, boy! He now had Mrs. Reddy to reckon with. Wasn’t his wildest fantasy coming alive!

Irksome

Still Waters

the-bridge

Joy Pixley provided this beautiful picture for the challenge. Thank you Joy!

Invisible whirlpools are reined in by resilient currents.

Tranquil, these waters flow, assured of their serene strength, despite the drift that sometimes encounters eddies.

On the surface, calm and still, I stand on the bridge and look at my reflection in the rippling waters; my mind, a roar.

The colours pour with a splash and quickly melt into the waters, carrying away bits of myself.

Here now, then gone forever.

I have tried to make sense of it all. To understand the connections. The mind failing to harness all the conflicting energies.

I am drawn to this bridge, where I survey the expanse around me.

So much, and yet…

The horizon shifts. I knife through and surface a little ahead.

I meet my dissolving reflection.

Now, on the bank, I squint at the bridge, formidable and rather imposing.

Can I give it a try?

Next time, not look into the waters.

Meet myself wherever I go?

Hush!

Let this bridge lead me away.

Let welcome change overwhelm me as I embrace it.

 

This piece is in response to the FFfAW challenge hosted by Priceless Joy.