It lay there on the table, untouched for a week, a seemingly innocent envelope that had become a huge source of discomfort to her. Whoever said letters got lost in transit was obviously wrong, as this envelope had travelled five cities – each time redirected via multiple addresses in hope of finding her.
P Shrikant, Delhi was clearly the original sender of the letter.
The name triggered memories of a tightly shut past. Why would he contact her after six years?
Six years ago she got married and left Delhi and severed all connections.
With Shrikant and all her college friends.
The graduation years were marked by a host of activities and Shrikant was always with her. They studied together, travelled together, and competed for the top spot. She felt there was something beyond friendship between them but was not sure if Shrikant reciprocated. Neither of them spoke and going with her family’s flow she married the chosen Boy as soon as her final year exams were over.
A clean cut was the best to settle into her role as a wife.
She was happy and content now.
A hundred possibilities crossed her mind. What if he wanted to reconnect… Was she ready to go on that road?
Her husband was curious about her sudden agitation. Who is he? Why don’t you open it?
Finally, she did.
With trembling hands, she unfolded the single sheet.
The envelope held her BSc Degree that Shrikant had collected from the University and sent to her last known address.
I am joining Vinitha in her Fiction Monday series.
Yash stepped out of his house eagerly looking forward to closing the deal. This was to be his come-back project after a break. As Yash rose the corporate ladder facing success after success, he unknowingly picked up a routine to which he attributed his success.
The lucky Pen. The lucky Tie. The Auspicious day. The lucky Number.
There was a longer list of no-nos. Saturdays were out of question. Blue shirts were out. And the list increased every day.
The entire team was forced to follow his quirks especially as the company continued to benefit from every transaction he closed.
As the years went by, Yash’s superstitious behaviour became almost fanatic and took on shades of OCD. His individual whims were now imposed on the team; something which the top brass was forced to take notice of irrespective of the successes he brought.
They decided that he either took medical help or would be shown the door.
So here he was, after six months of therapy and medication, ready to prove his mettle. A make or break stage in his career.
As Yash drove out of the building, he floored the brake and broke out into a sweat.
A black cat was crossing the road ahead of him.
Yash compulsively reversed the car.
I am joining Vinitha in her Fiction Monday series using the above photo prompt.
Forty years ago, I came into the Haveli as part of the dowry that Badi Bahurani brought. Yet I spent all my time with Rai Bahadur Sahib. He loved the smooth feel of my skin, my colour and declared we were a good fit! He was indeed a visionary and I saw his company grow from a single factory to the current conglomerate. It was thrilling to see him plot the takeover many a competitor. Sahib was a workaholic and I wasn’t complaining! It meant we could spend more time together and Badi Bahurani was sure I was taking good care of him.
Sangram Bahadur learnt the ropes at Sahib’s feet and I watched him mature into an astute businessman. It was natural for him to take over the reins once Sahib retired and I continued to serve him. Sangram treated me with the same respect as did his father in fact even more so when both my arms were broken. We spent long hours and Choti Bahurani too joined us sometimes. I only wish I could hold his hand when he was stressed out when Demonetisation hit us. But I am sure, sitting together did give him support, peace and new ideas as our company bounced back very soon.
Sangram’s children were not interested in running and taking the family business forward. I had grave doubts about the future.
My worst fears were realised when Sangram Bahadur was forced into retirement due to a massive heart attack. Choti Bahurani did not put up any resistance to the next generation’s decision to sell off the company.
Suddenly I was orphaned. And sentenced to one corner of the storeroom.
The new owners had no place for a 40-year-old wooden chair. With broken arms.
I am joining Vinitha in her Fiction Monday series using the above picture prompt .
Priya had been thrilled to take up the Salon offer. Four sittings for the price of two. An unbelievable deal. At twice a month, she need not look for deals for their upcoming 30th anniversary. She could confidently accept compliments like “you look as if you were married yesterday!”
Appearances had unknowingly become a priority… and she had given in.. As an active member of the Tea party, Cocktail, Kitty circuit; she felt as if she had to look young 24X7.
But of late, this was becoming too strenuous. Suddenly the fine lines needed extra effort to be hidden and the greys appeared faster. Fatigue was setting in. In her fight with Age, the latter seemed to have the upper hand.
Priya was tempted to stop these frequent Salon visits but lacked the will power.
And then, out of the blue, the Lockdown happened. Everything was shut. Salons. Gyms. No parties either.
That meant her wonderful Salon discount could not be used.
After a few weeks of hesitation, she gathered courage to look at her reflection.
The fine lines and greys did not laugh at her.
When she smiled, they smiled back at her.
Suddenly the mirror became her friend as did Aging.
Abhi’s cousin had sequinned shoes and Abhie longed to wear them, the only time , when she had envied anyone. Sensing her desire Ma had got her similar ones as a trophy for today’s task. Abhi smiled in anticipation and excitement. After 10 years on this earth, today she was taking her first steps in the Parallel Bars. She commanded her unwilling limbs supported with splints to move ahead one excruciating step at a time. It was tough going.
Abhi thought she would faint as her throat went dry even as the twinkling shoes at the far end beckoned her forwards. She could see herself in the biggest sequin and the shoes glowed golden from sunlight streaming in from the window.
Abhi was almost there… She could sense Ma and Varshadi- her therapist, cheering her on but their words were drowned by the thudding of her heart. Three steps more, two more and then suddenly she was enveloped in her Ma’s arms, both crying copiously as if their hearts would break. Abhi tried to wipe her mother’s tears, which seemed to be glittering brighter than any baubles.. So what if her limbs were not fully under her control and her speech not clear? Abhilasha was one of God’s own children and ‘special’ to everyone else.
The shoes were a perfect fit and Abhi admired her multiple reflections in them. She was tired but agreed instantaneously for another walk. Her life journey would be rockier than most others but she could do it, she would!
Meena sat desultorily in the Mall guarding the numerous bags that Anu, her daughter-in-law had deposited in her care along with the children. Anu was getting her nails done.
Music blaring from hidden speakers drowned out shrieks of her grandchildren playing in the Kids Zone. The Game Console shone with bright lights which made it the top attraction. A toy train chugged past, whistling ineffectively in its attempt to clear its path.
They had been here since the Mall opened and Meena’s knees were protesting. Her feet ached from the unbroken Walking Shoes. Was her Plantar Fascitis returning? Walking on these super smooth floors was not easy at her age.
She was nursing an expensive coffee that had more froth than brew. It was cold now and tasteless . Maybe she should have opted for good old Nimboo Pani instead..
Meena had never understood the attraction of spending time in a Mall.
Before her patience was tested, Anu returned, smiling from ear to ear.
“Thank you so much Maaji. I hope the kids did not trouble too much. Now its your turn. I have booked a special foot massage for you. All you have to do is relax, I will mind the bags and kids.”
So saying she escorted a happily surprised Meena into the Spa she had just exited.
I am joining Vinitha in her Fiction Monday series using the word prompt ‘bright’.
He looked around this office which had been his home for the last decade.
He had started as as a Lab Assistant and rose to be the Institute’s Chief Administrator.
Over the years, the primary school had grown to this premier stature. Professionally, it had been an immensely satisfying journey. Their new building housed a state-of-the-art Sciences Laboratory and a Sports Complex.
Being his last working day he was clearing out the office.
Books. Photographs. Mementos.
Ready to move.
Except for one last thing – A file which was the only blemish on an otherwise spotless career.
It held correspondence about accusations against him about accepting favours for choosing vendors for the new Lab.
In the ensuing proceedings, his words had fallen on deaf ears.
The Board did not believe him when he repeatedly said, “I am innocent.”
Hence this premature retirement.
With a deep sigh, he picked up his bag and walked out for the last time, head held high to his new SUV parked outside.
I am joining Vinitha in her Fiction Monday series using the word prompt “innocent”
Asha opened her eyes to the sound of chirping birds. Whatever the month, they always heralded the rising sun. It would be quite some time before the milkman arrived but she had much to do before that… Fist open close Fist open close. Elbow bend straighten elbow bend straighten. Raise arms over head Raise arms overhead. Circle ankles twice. Knee to chest right and knee to chest left. Repeat. She slowly turned to her side and got up.
‘Karagre vasate Laxmi Kar madhe Saraswati Karmule to tu Govindam Prabhate kara darshanam’. So muttering she folded her hands in prayer and got off the bed.
Her husband continued to snore after one too many last night. It was a long overdue course mates reunion – hence all was forgiven.
She quickly brushed her teeth and swallowed her Thyronorm. At this age, she was grateful to have only a couple of tablets to support her.
To be honest it was not the birds that caught her attention at day break these days. The persistent Illuminate ringtone from the drawing room was what beckoned her out of the bed. The silvery device glowed in the night lamp. It was a smartphone that their daughter in law had practically forced into their lives.
Asha and VS were happy enough with their landline and the ‘small’ mobile for emergencies. However Asha took to this quite easily and it had opened a new world to her. A world she could not otherwise be part of . One where she could stay updated yet silent…
She pulled out the charging cable and switched on the lamp and settled into the rocking chair, wore her reading glasses and unlocked the Apple. The finger easily tapped the green icon.
There were 62 messages from the Maher group, 37 from her Yoga group and a missed video call from Chiku …. This was her lifeline to the world!
The mandatory one hour fasting post-Thyronorm would pass very easily.
The rhythmic creak of the arm chair soothed the babies as they drifted into sleep in Neena’s arms. They were just about a month old and soon she would not be able to hold them both simultaneously. She ignored her aching arms and relished their closeness. Her mind moved back and forth in time in tandem with the rocking movements. Was it really only a year ago that Life meted out its lessons to her?
Barely out of her teens and already married, which was what her family arranged and she had acquiesced. Soon after they celebrated their first anniversary, Neena was already pregnant. Twins, the doctor said, and Sam was overjoyed. Double the joy he said! He made sure he was with her for every check up and stood by her through her phase of morning sickness. The nine months couldn’t pass soon enough for him. Sam was due for a career course and decided to ask his Commanding Officer for a posting. Yet unexpectedly, his Unit was deployed in a conflict zone.With barely any time for farewells, the officers and men left without a backward glance. The operation turned into a prolonged one as causalities mounted. Some of the worst fears were realised and Neena was bereft. At the end of her third trimester, she remained confused and dazed not comprehending the storm that had hit her life. Her family took her home and what had was meant to be a rosy future suddenly turned dark.
Neena went through the final days of her pregnancy completely unaware of her surroundings. She cried all the time, but without understanding for whom.. was it for dear departed Sam who would never see his twins, was it for herself or for her babies.. It was only when she held the boys in her arms for the first time that the enormity of her situation hit Neena….
She had no home. She was not financially literate. Would her graduation degree get a job of any kind? Could she bring up the boys single highhandedly? While her parents made all efforts to make her feel comfortable, how long could she depend on them? Relatives showed their true colours as being only fair weather friends and so-called friends were suddenly missing. Her in-laws were least interested in Neena’s welfare or that of the boys.
The future was bleak. The war machine had taken its toll and left her life in pieces. Her sons innocent trusting smiles served as a wake up call and inspiration. The time to grieve was over. There was no time to cry or for self pity. It was up to her to pick up the pieces and rebuild her life again. She owed it to her sons. To Herself.
This is my post for the BAR-A-THON by Blog-A-Rhythm and the theme for June 23th 2017 is War And Pieces. It is my among my maiden attempts at fiction. Any resemblance to any individuals living or dead is purely coincidental.
The city had become a grey, white concrete
glass jungle. Green was now an artificial colour in books and paints. He looked
hopefully at the assortment of seeds in the magician’s hands. Maybe he could do
the impossible. Get the seeds to germinate. Bring green back to life.
Word count: 48
Linking up with the Fiction Challenge ‘From15 to 50’