Small puffs of white dotted the sober yellow sky, not unlike a poet’s painting. She saw through the sun’s glare a shadow of herself- grey and lone.
She was alone. In the middle of a crowded city, in tense days and hot weather, she was blatantly alone. All the excitement, all the frenzy- a sheet of dejection was keeping her away. Not only was she alone, she was horribly miserable about it. Her boyfriend had ditched her on the first day after her assignment, giving her ample time to notice his absence. She wasn’t talking to her mother for fear of reproach on yet another of her bad choices, him. Her boss was conveniently mailing her petty tasks from his cruise ship, so she didn’t meet even him in her day. Bundled up in her apartment with small work and plenty time to kill, she only had her cat for company. The cat. How she envied it. How comfortably it yawned all day and slept peacefully. If only she could be as happy doing nothing. But she wasn’t.
In a fit of anger, she flung her mug at the wall, making a large brown stain and cursing. Well at least she had something to do now. The cat gave her a judging look and went back to sleep. Hell, she said to herself, I’m getting out of the country. I need some fresh air. Charged with the idea, she was boarding a flight to Kathmandu, fifty minutes later.
She was already feeling better with the activity in the last fifty minutes. And as the plane thundered through the sky, she smiled at the puffs of white that had depressed her an hour ago.
A plane rumbled overhead. She covered her ears and crouched in pain. It made her head whirl. It felt heavy cause of the dreams it carried; too heavy for her frail body and empty tummy. Even as the plane darts across the open sky she felt a yearning for it, like she belonged up there with it. But those only had been dreams. Where she truly belonged was the marketplace. This, unlike the open sky up ahead, was crowded. It was filled with people, litter and a Stygian odour. This was where she breathed, mingled and found livelihood.
Three children awaited her return at home, the eldest just over nine. Her husband, once a cobbler, had died just a few weeks after their eldest’s sixth birthday and when the youngest was just a few months old. Thus the burden of raising these children had been left on her shoulders. These same sagging shoulders that carried a basket-full of fruits, vegetables and other merchandise to the market everyday.
She scurries, struggling to stand as a customer inquires at her stall. Her emaciated body is covered by a beautifully woven sari. Her husband had bought it for her birthday. He had kept it a secret and had saved up for months to be able to afford it. She had treasured it, in-fact almost revered it and had saved it only for special occasions. Now, this her treasure was the only piece of clothing that she had that was decent enough to wear. The rest of her garments were either torn or heavily stitched.
Even surrounded by a noisy crowd, she felt alone. Her heart full of pain and disappointment. Yet she still lingered on a hope. A hope that someday, maybe someday things would turn out for the better. That hope was all she had; all that mattered. It gave her strength to face the children every evening and will every morning as she left them for the market.
This was her escape. The only plane that she knew that would carry her away from this abyss to the exotic petals of a faraway island flew only in her mind. Even so, with each plane that flew over the marketplace she felt her own plane flying somewhere in her dreams. She would then manage a smile because then she’d feel that someday she’d be just alright.
Written by Peter and Ruchika
But please just give the credit to Peter. I am NOT being modest, he did it really. So check him out, at www.thirdoracle.wordpress.com
The Independence Day patriotism has weaned off completely. I don’t feel as enthusiastic today for several disappointing reasons, so excuse me if I sound dull in this update of the 65th Indian Independence Day on the 15th.
As is tradition, the colony I live in organised a Flag Hoisting Ceremony, with the rose petals that flutter to the ground as the flag unfolds on its short mast. As is tradition, that started off a day of kite-filled skies, as has been done for the last 65 years of India’s Independence- flying the kites as free as us! So what happens is, all the people get on as high ground as possible, or if they can afford it, as huge grounds as possible, and fly their kites, and since that becomes monotonic after a time, the trend to try and cut each other’s kites’ strings ensues. This string, in Hindi, is called maanjaa. Maan, as pronounced in Tar and Jaa as in lalala… Yeah, the same in both…
Have you ever looked up at the sky and found it a very surreal expanse, like a painted top? Well that’s what changes magically with these kites. Look at the sky for a moment and suddenly it turns into a dome- like the clouds are now painted not on a flat top, but a wide wide dome, and the little kites that dance in it are like those little shiny nothings in a snow globe. It’s a sight. And if I hadn’t left my camera in another town, I could have given you pictures. By all means, if you can, visit India near the 15th of August, and let me know if you’re coming to Delhi.
Anyway, this is what happens basically, besides old freedom songs, martyr songs, nightingale voice shrilly songs blare out from hundreds of loudspeakers and all the roads light up extra special with tricolour (The Indian flag) strings of bulbs on the sidewalks and above the dividers. The camera… I wish…
And even though most of today’s youth is clone-skeptical of anything patriotic or ‘Indian’, everyone joins in to celebrate, maybe because of the mad kite-flying. Oh yeah- another part of it- when you finally cut someone else’s maanjaa, you yell in delight, “Aieee Woooo!”. It’s like a signal to Kite Runners that run, a kite is falling for you to catch. The words literally mean ‘It comes.’ That’s my favourite part. Because I’m master only at sinking kites, not flying them, and blessed with a loud voice as I am, I can shout out in better than many. 😀
This is basically tradition. But what is NOT tradition is young boys bursting out in cacophany, the National Anthem, in the middle of the day and fumble over the ending paragraph so they repeat it all over again, and sigh, again. I wonder how many people stood absolutely still when this happened and for how long. Though I wasn’t a willing accomplice, they were singing right under my house and I jumped and dropped a utensil in the kitchen and gave them the perfect crescendo. Did my bit, it appears. Half a minute later, it seems a friend who got late for this proposed performance came running to find the boys signing off but of course, his entry called for a Redo. Five times, ladies and gentlemen, five whole times these previously cute boys minstreled their neighbours without mercy.
Ah, what else?
Oh yes- the poor pigeon.
See, there’s a problem with kites now. Where the human concentration is higher, the kite concentration increases likewise. That increases the cut maanjaa concentration, because we Indians are master players. So these strings eventually fall on land, and on trees and poles… And so do the kites, in fact, there was once a competition for the picture that showed the max number of kites stuck on a tree….
Anyway, this year, to my very great surprise, there formed a WEB of maanjaas on the ground soon after the flying began. And when I stepped out on my balcony, I found in horror, a poor poor pigeon stuck in an invisible bundle of maanjaas. We got him out, sure. But while it was stuck, its wings were bent in such a painful tangle, and it looked so young and scared that everyone held their breaths. I wish such accidents don’t become as much a tradition as kite flying in the years to come.
Though that hope is a little dangerous, as I tripped twice myself for the first time in my life, and that’s after I walk carefully. Something went wrong… but the people won’t let it continue, I know. The respect for Independence Day is too great for such trivialities to be allowed to occur.
So, Happy 65th Birthday India! And believe me when I say this, India earned it.
Thankfully in today’s world, I don’t need to go on a freedom struggle to overthrow any colonizer anymore. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have to fight for freedom anymore!…
It’s Wednesday night, and I’m going to school with my mom, dad and sister, and a packed bag in the trunk. I’m excited- partly because it is windy, partly because my school looks great at night and mostly, because of the adventure awaiting…
I am thinking about all the freedom I would have, all the space and all the time to do all I want! It’s going to be a great time… I pick up the bag and submit attendance, and load the bag in the trunk of the bus… The bus leaving for Solan… For Adventure Camp…
The minutes are mounting as we are waiting for all the children to collect… I am dreaming sweet dreams….
And then the bus starts and my sister rushes up to get a seat for her friends and herself…. I am already loving the space! I am romanticizing with the thought of having the entire bed to myself… getting an extra helping of pasta next morning…. reading into the night for as long as I like! SWEEEEET FREEDOM!
For a second, I jolt out of the pleasures, for farewell, which I do only too willingly. There is a whole procession of emotional mothers, softing fathers, and ecstatic siblings, all playing dumb-charade with their kids, across the thick-glass windows, some obviously out-doing the rest! I specifically stop mom from delivering what we call the “Caution Speech” and tell my sis to have fun… Then instead of saying the plain old Goodbye, I remember how she loved acting in the ‘Macbeth’ play and mime, “Fair is Foul, and Foul is Fair”.
I am one of the best, and the “coolest” family-members present, and all the girls are looking at my sister and me ‘talk’, with starry-eyes! And finally, they are gone…. And as I sit in the car, the wind is cooler, and sweeter….
And here comes the trouble. It’s Saturday today. And dad has gone to… bring her back. Oh, these sweet days of boundless fun, of boundless freedom!