Welcome to relax in a strange world

Heal

A series of images fill the whole area in front of her; People running, crowds of running men, women with infants and children holding their parent’s hands, showing desperation. A dozens, then hundreds, in pants,t-shirts,shouldering each other,shouting,crying for help. It is almost possible to hear the mass pulse of breath and pounding feet. She can see the tennis shoes with holes and some without the laces, sandals, barefoot. They keep on coming, trying to escape somewhere, something dreadful, mouth open, arms pumping. So desperate to hold on to their families, small children, older parents. She does not understand the words that come out of their mouths but she feels their feelings!

The image fades away slowly but the screams continues. The images reappear again, they come wheeling around the corner.Jade hurries to the only safe zone, the market wall, back flattened,arms spread.The people blast past with wide, scary eyes.They don’t have any destination, they don’t know where to run, where to hide themselves and the children.Outside it is like winter fog, not quite yellow and not quite white. Parents run past her holding tightly to the small bodies of the infants.They try to breathe, but it is hard and there is something in the air. Very suffocating! The white foam comes out from some of the children’s mouth. People are on the side of the road with their older parents,choking, gasping for air. Some are lying motionless in the  mud. Most of the people crying for help and begging for mercy.

Jade’s mind is tunneling back to the parents who are hovering over their children. She could not take it anymore, she wants to do something. Do more that a pledge, write articles, blogs, sending donation.“We are with you, we promise”, she murmurs with a determination. Jade runs through the fog. But she starts to lose her balance.Her eyes sting, nose start to stream.Her out stretched hands hang in the empty air and fall to her sides. She could not take it any more.

It is almost morning.Jade opens her eyes.The dream is so real as if she was there with them. She takes a deep breath. It must be the news that she watched last evening and she switched off the TV before the news ended. “Who is going to help all those innocent people?” She wonders and sighs.It is mentally tiring and hard to believe.  Instead of waking up, she pulls the bed sheet up to her chest and closes her eyes.

She is in a garden with trimmed hedges, shade trees, blades of grass, every sort of flowers. On one side of the garden, a bench in the shadow of a tall tree, a still figure, apparently human. He turns her way and nods, a gesture of permission and Jade approaches slowly.

“ How fragile we are.Is not it true?” He says inviting her to seat on the bench.

“I do not like all these things that are happening to the innocent people.The sadness and stress are hard to bear.” Her forehead wrinkles as she say.

“You try your best to help others and sometimes you have to gather more energy to move ahead. Stress will come but at the same time you need to learn how to cope with that. You seat in a quiet room, close your eyes and listen carefully. What is it you hear? Not traffic,not much sound.” he says “ You hear something but what? The mind itself. The world hum.”

As he explains she tries to understand what it means, she wants to heal herself and others. She closes her eyes.She is able to say what she feels and she is also the same person who stands outside the feelings. All the words themselves all there is or she is just the words. she listens to what she hears. She can feel the time! It feels like she tries to become someone or she is inside something. Is this her own body! Where is she? She is the first person and the third person. She is with all the people she watched in the news and they are in her. Is she trapped? Or this is the reality? Her mind lengthens and reaches them, console them touching their hearts.

Love appears in strange ways

Acceptance

It is a Friday before the spring break. Daisy drives back home picking her daughter Emily from her school. In the car, Emily eats her favorite vanilla ice cream cone and tells her mother all the interesting things of her day in her school. She is a brilliant story-teller just like her father.In the middle of her story Daisy’s cell- phone rings. A call from her son.

“ Emily, please answer the phone”, Daisy says looking at the road straight.

“ Hi brother! We are going home. Do you want to speak to mom.Well she is driving so you can tell me.’’ Emily asks taking one more lick from the cone.

“ What?Really! And you did not stay there? Yes, you are supposed to. Okay, I will ask mom to rush. Bye.” Emily takes a deep breath and turns to face her mother.

“Mom, my cat has a baby in front of our house under the iron bench. And brother did not stay there. He is older than me and he should know what to do in this type of situation.Right mom? So please drive faster.I want to check on the kitten.”

Daisy is not a cat person. She likes the dogs whom you can train or who listens to your command. But cats! They have their own mind and they climb on everything. A cat always behaves like a king and all others in the house have to obey its orders.The stray cat followed her husband and daughter to the townhouse a few times and before she knows, the cat was adopted as a pet. One evening Daisy returns from work and finds a small ceramic bowl with milk at one corner of the living room. “ What is the bowl of milk doing here on the floor?” She asks.

Her husband and daughter both look at each other and reply at the same time. “ It is a part of the game that we are playing, nothing to worry.” A shiny-penny smile flash on their faces as they turn their head towards the front door. Daisy leaves the room without any doubt. After a few days, the milk bowl appears again at the same place and this time tiny dry foods on a paper plate besides the bowl. Daisy walks into the room. Inside the living room, behind the sofa her daughter plays with a cat; game with a yarn. It is very slim yellow cat with white patches on its face and paws.

“ Emily! What is the cat doing inside our house?”, she screams. The cat runs away through the open door and her daughter apologizes. “This is the stray cat that followed me and dad. She does not have any other friend. She has decided to be my friend and I could not say no to the cat.” Emily says flatly, twisting the yarn around her finger.

Daisy looks at her daughter’s pale,sad face and understands her deep affection towards the stray cat. “ So the milk bowl and the cat food are real! She takes out her shoes and pulls a chair to seat. “Why didn’t you tell the truth on the first time?” Daisy asks.

“ So here is the fact,she says wisely drawing a long breath. Emily pauses and picks her words very carefully. “ I know that you do not like cats but she is a very nice cat and I do not have any pets. Dad told me that he will talk to you later. May be he forgot.’’ The next day tabby cat gets the name Blossom and becomes one of her daughter’s best playmate. Daisy receives warm tight hug from her son and daughter. Now she has a kitten. Daisy still do not like cats.She does not say anything but anger bubbles in her mind. Now they will be two, cat and the kitten. The house will be a big mess and the cat hair! laik!

In few days the house turns into a playground of the kitten. Inside Joy and laughter gather and spread. The beautiful kitten is named Chottu. He has the same color on his body just like his mother. Sometimes he hears his mom’s voice outside and climbs the window blinds to reach her. After a few minutes you will find him dangling in the blind by his front paws.Other days he sleeps inside the shoes of either Daisy’s husband or of her son. And the only way to find out is to slip your feet into the shoes un attentively and startle to hear a soft mew from inside the shoe. Even in early morning when you are in a hurry to walk into the kitchen and unknowingly step on the tiny kitten  who likes to sleep on the middle of the room. One night around one o’clock, just after the rain, Daisy’s son Aji is busy doing his homework when he hears a sound. It is faint but sounds as if someone is begging for help. The kitten has escaped through the narrow opening of the front door. Aji has to climb the slippery fence, walks to the house-top to rescue the kitten. That is Chottu’s first adventure where he climbs the fence, goes to the rooftop but could not climb down. Daisy’s husband loves to play with Chottu. He teaches him to play with a small rope or to catch a small bouncing ball. Chottu crouches, his eyes locked on the tiny ball’s movement. He lowers his entire body with all fore legs aligned as he gently lowers his haunches, contracting them so that he becomes slightly rounded like a cocked spring. From that place, he leaps off the floor with a force, boldly pouncing on the tiny ball. Afterwards he plays the ball back and forth between his two-front paws.  

In a big city it is necessary to find a good high school. Daisy and her family decide to move into a suburb for same reason a good neighborhood and best school for Emily. Before their move they decide to give away the kitten to one of Emily’s friend whose cat just passed away from cancer. It is a very hard decision. Emily does not want to give away her pet, but she agrees to in one condition that she will visit the cat every weekend. If the kitten stays with her best friend then it may not be a big deal.

Three weeks have passed. One winter morning, on a saturday, Emily gets a phone call from her best friend. “ Hi Emily! I do not know how to say it but if you don’t mind”, she hesitates, “Please take your kitten back.”

“ Why? Is everything alright?” asks Emily with real concern.

“ He is fine, but very boisterous. Last evening he climbed the table in dad’s room and knocked the coffee mug on his laptop. It is getting a little hard to manage him.He is not an indoor cat and he will enjoy more in your house with big back yard.” She replies.

The smile on Emily’s face is wide open, sunny without a doubt on the world that everything will be wonderful today.

So they get the kitten back.Gradually Chottu transforms from kittenhood into a young wildcat. He is like a character from a daredevil story, who loves daring stunts. He is a hyperactive cat who loves to leap, climb and explore-all the big trees and house tops. Happiness, in Chottu’s world is fresh can food, a few spoons of warm milk, cat nips and climbing the trees. He loves to hide in boxes and leap out from them unexpectedly. He would honker all the way down, making sure the flap of the box is closed over his head, and spring out like a jack-in-the box to scare their dog.Some days he growls at the door. Daisy opens the door and screams. Chottu stands there with an  awesome present  either a dead small bird or a squirrel in his mouth. He does not understand the scream because he just wants to make Daisy happy with a precious gift. He forgets and repeats the same thing in another day. Daisy has a very dominant personality which classes with the cat’s personality. Sometimes it is hard to understand who is the boss is it Daisy or the cat? Having played to his heart’s content,Chottu would come inside and take his power nap on Daisy’s pretty mats in the kitchen, in the hallways or on the nice leather sofa. He sleeps like a talisman curled gently in the shape of a coma as if dug up from a prehistoric archeological site. Quietly and gingerly, he tiptoes around the house in a leisurely fashion. He loves to sit with Emily while she does her homework but not when she practices the violin. He hates the shrill sound of it.

The back yard with trees is like a forest to Chottu. He would race recklessly around one particular area and then climb high up into one of the tall trees, exploring his body in mid air-as if about to veer off in another direction.

Chottu is almost sixteen years now. Almost eighty in cat year! As soon as Daisy comes home, he greets her and follows her in happy, half-swallowed little yips. “ Yes, you are home! Feeding time. Daisy gives him his favorite can food, after that a little warm milk and a few treats. The feeding time continues until Daisy goes to bed. Chottu has slowly but surely conquered Daisy’s heart.

It is the second day of spring when Daisy notices a difference in the cat. He approaches the food bowl half heartedly, sniffs, takes one lick then walks out from the room. It is not typically his behavior. “ Are you Okay? Come I will give you a treat. Come!” Daisy says opening the treat packet. Chottu turns around and walks slowly towards Daisy. He says a small mew and sits there. He is not hungry. “It may be the can food or the food bowl. I should clean the bowl again.” Daisy murmurs. She throws the food and washes the small food bowl again. Next morning, Daisy finds the cat under the dining table. As soon as he hears the footsteps he opens his eyes, purrs softly and walks towards Daisy. But after two or three steps he sits on the wood floor. He breaths heavily. “What is going on? She strokes chottu’s head. “ Come on kitty,” She coxes, “ you are a strong kitty. Come. Do you want me to feed you today?” Daisy runs to get the cat food. Rising unsteadily to his feet, Chottu lowers his head to the bowl but does not eat any. He rubs the top of his head against Daisy’s leg and purrs. And his purr is very feeble. “ Poor thing, Daisy sits on the floor close to Chottu and calls her husband to take him to the veterinary.

The next morning, a cloudy day. It is hard for Daisy to concentrate in her work. She wants to know Chottu’s health condition. Around noon she calls her husband. 

“ We have to let him go. The virus has spread in his body and he is suffering. Pray for him and for his soul. He will be with us in his next life. Are you listening?” Daisy’s husband asks in the phone.

Daisy drops the phone on the counter. She leans her elbows on the table and cries.

“…love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.” – Kahlil Gibran

 

Her memory

Blur

Every hour a thought floats to the surface. If we’re all going to end up happy together in Heaven then why does anyone wait? A big sadness hangs behind her ribs, sharp and gleaming, and it’s all she can do to keep breathing. She does not know the reason but one early morning she had to fly to her grandfather’s house with her dog Luke. She never goes anywhere without her parents! Her grandfather’s house is long and narrow, like a train  and it has five bedrooms: a big living room in the front, a rectangle kitchen, a prayer room, one study room and other two are bedrooms.  The windows are all the same but the color and the pattern of  lacy curtains are different in each one.Grand father hugged her in the middle of a sentence and there are tears on his cheeks. “ Are you okay?” Riana asks with deep concern in her eyes.

“ Yes, now that you are here everything will be fine.” He replies. He says that there was a time when all the houses were a collective farm and grandmother used to walk everyday to work in a chemical plant. She was a brave woman. Now she has to be hooked up to her oxygen machine every night. “ It must be the chemicals!” He says with a heavy sigh. It is cancer. First they found it in my mom, then in dad in his lungs. She imagines cancer as a tree: big, black, leafless nasty tree which took her parent’s lives. Riana walked into her grandmother’s room to meet her. Her face resembles a lot with her mother. “ Hello grandma!”

She smiles and asks her to sit on her bed. “How are you young woman? It is so nice to see you here. Make yourself home and feel free to ask if you need anything. Your grandpa will help you.” “Thank you grandma.”

In the afternoon Riana stands on the front porch.Out side she can hear the little white butterflies are looping through the willows, the grasshoppers chewing the leaves.

“God made the world and everything in it.” says her grandfather. Riana thinks, then why isn’t everything perfect? She wants her parents back in her life. Up in the sky she sees her dad sipping coffee and watching the evening news and her mother reading a book leaning on the couch. Their cat is taking a nap on a piece of  old newspaper. It is not that blurry at all.

“ Tell me about my mom.” Riana asks her grandmother sitting on her bed. She glances over and then her eyes are a thousand miles away. She tells all trips down the river in boat, fun days of picnics in the park,  time that they spent in the swing set reading stories together. Suddenly she pauses and closes her eyelids. Riana understands and leaves the room quietly.

Oné rainy day,when she was five something happened to her. Her mother called the family physician and she put some drops in her eyes. Pretty soon all Riana could see are blurs and colors.Dad was a fog a mom was a smudge and world looked like it does when your eyes are full of tears. A couple of hours later, right when she was riding in the back seat of mom’s car, the world started coming back to focus. She could see the trees, the leaves more clearly dark on the top and pale on the undersides, are moving independently but still in concert with others.

Almost everyday she misses her parents; mom walking into the grocery store holding her hand or to the library picking books for her and the bicycle ride and story time with her dad.Sometimes in the silence she feels her mom, together with her, under the beautiful sun, both of with decades to live.

Her grandfather does not believe her. He sits on the edge of his bed, elbows on the small table with droopy eyes and broken blood vessels in his cheeks. He wipes his eyes and tells her that she needs read more books and start thinking about school. Riana stands close to her grandfather. “You don’t believe in anything that you can not see or feel? I believe in souls and I feel my mother on my side. Even I see her and dad sitting on the puffy cloud” Riana says angrily and leaves the room.

That night she lays in her bed with her grandmother. The unpainted plaster of the wall slowly cracking all around her. She tries to remember a sentence mom or dad said but everything seem so blurry!

Dense fog and sunny day

Discover

There is no time for luck or good fortune or discovering new things in life instead to be at work from early morning to midnight. Jade works in a garment factory where she sews until her arms fall asleep. She sews elegant and expensive dresses which wind up looking very nice on Italian, Canadian, Swedish, American women, different ones for every season. Cutting, stitching, finishing, ironing, packing all the time makes life more difficult when you are not worthy of the product. It is difficult to break the agreement and to look for another job. She sits quietly looking at her severely dry long bony fingers. Her father used to say that long fingers are perfect for drawing, playing piano or any musical instrument, they are very artistic fingers. She remembers when for the first time she played the ‘Flight of the bumbled bee’; she played like lightning, every note so clear and perfect that the audience  were mesmerized and then clapped hard. It was her greatest revelation. But now it seems as though her life has been rolled up like a newspaper, fastened with a rubber band and tossed into the bushes. After her father passed away she started the job in this garment factory. A fat fly buzzes in circle just above her head. It settles on her one arm, she tries to swat it. Then it lands on the back of her neck, below her ear. It escapes and perches on the window frame. Jade tries to shoo it out through the open window into the air; she wants it to fly freely in the open air and to enjoy its freedom. She wants it also for herself and the people of Syria.

Sunlight falls in the long hall, while fluorescent light burns overhead. All the ladies are like tired children of a camp. Jade’s heart thumps inside her head. She leaves the half-stitched dress in the showing machine and grabs her small handbag.

Next morning She stands with a cup of hot tea. she holds the chipped cup delicately pinching the curved handle between her thumb and forefinger. She looks outside of her kitchen window. There the small black birds fly through a vast stretch of sky in circles of their own invention. This morning they are flying low and by looking at them she could tell that it is a whole new day.

Jade does not have the luxury of a car so she walks aimlessly on the streets to discover something new. The street side vendors are a destination, inviting her to linger. She sits on a wooden stool and orders ice-cream. Just when her exasperation at the wait  reaches the breaking point, the ice-cream arrives. It is a mix flavors of vanilla, chocolate with so many nuts. She takes one spoonful of ice-cream and it is delicious! She leans at the edge of the chair, her eyes wander around. At one corner of the street, under a small leafy tree an old woman sits. She is very frail and bony and from her torn, heavily patched cloth she looks very poor. She stares straight ahead, seemingly lost in memories. Jade stops eating and walks up to the woman. “ Would you like to try this?” She asks as she hands her the cup. She opens her purse and gives a few rupees. A grateful, happy warm smile lingers on the old lady’s face.

It is almost evening. Jade is all wrapped up, the decorated street lamps and lighted windows are glittering, the frost bit into her face, her lips feel like frozen crusts of bread, cheeks are smooth and cold as porcelain. The sky and streets are full of Christmas spirit. Jade stands in-front of a shop, her arms folded on her stomach, one foot crossed. The concentration is on the beautiful gown on the mannequin. “ I would love to see that on me.” Then she steps back. She has to save the money until she finds another job. “ Well, nothing wrong in just trying.” She murmurs and walks into the store. The heavy glass door opens in a soft click. She stands in-front of the long rectangular mirror with the dress. The sales woman asks her adjusting the belt on the dress. “ It looks so pretty on you and fits perfectly. Would you like to buy this?”

“ I will think about it, thank you.” Jade replies touching the soft fabric of the  blue dress and watching the news on the small television on the wall-” The evacuation of civilians and fighters from the last rebels held part of Aleppo ended yesterday, after weeks of heavy fighting, Damascus announces complete victory in the battle to retake eastern Aleppo from rebels.”

That is the best part of her discovery. The dress falls into the floor as she runs around the room, a huge smile sparkle on her overly excited face, she is happy for all the people and especially the children . Her struggle is not much comparable to the people of Aleppo.

Her inner strength

Calm

Nora wants to live more than a hundred years. She has planned everything in her mind, in front of her the future has stretched out like a long shimmering road.  But the other day when she fainted in her gym class, the doctor in the hospital told her  mother that her lungs are not good. But it can be changed. She has to draw the cool, clean air in, treasure it and release it and she has to stay a couple of days in the hospital. That will make her lung good as new. Ten years old Nora is confident that she can do it.  Although it is hard for her mother Maisie.

Nora dwindles over packing, folding, refolding her clothes, tucking in a few moments to brighten up her room before she leaves for the hospital. She squares the cover of her bedsheet, smooths the bedspreads,tilts the shade of the lamp cover of the reading lamp. She stands in the middle of the oval rug. Her room is small but tidy and decorated in shades of blue, her favorite color. Each significant object has a name and to each she says goodbye or rather until they meet again. Nora closes the door.

Maisie is busy or rather tries hard to stay that way in the kitchen. It is hard for her to see her daughter in this condition. Nora runs into the kitchen. “ Mom, Uncle Jess is here to take me to the hospital.” No answer but Nora knows her mother is sad and afraid. Nora hugs her mother with her small hands. “ I will be fine mom, and come visit me in the hospital.” Her mother sighs. Nora picks up her small suitcase.

The air is cold. From the car window Nora looks at the house. Her mother stands there leaning slightly to the metal mail box in her walker. She waives her hand to her mother and wipes her tears.

There is not much to do in the hospital wake up,  take bath, eat, read,take nap, watch television and be patient while the doctor takes a lots of test. The ward is alive with gossip, mostly about the imaginary romances between this or that girl or a boy or men. It is like a soap opera to her like the ones that come in television and her mom always say they are not real, just wastage of time and brain. Nora spends her time in reading the encyclopedias that her mother brought for her. She loves the mysteries inside and the beautiful information in them, their sedate dark-green binding, gold letters on their spines. She slides the little tower of books towards her slowly as though they are gathered treasure. Reading makes her calmer; she does not care about the hospital or health, she is confident that everything will be fine.

On the other hand her room-mate Liona is quite different. She loves to gossip in the phone with her friends. Some days she invites Nora to meet her friends in the lobby. But they laugh a little, sit pretty on the sofa touching their fancy jeweleries or adjusting their new hairstyles, gossiping on useless topics. “They are less sympathetic than the ambulance chasers. They are not real friends.” Nora murmurs to herself. When her mother comes to visit her the ward turns into a playground as if azaleas bloom and honeysuckle perfumes the air. Her mother tries to stay calm but sometimes she is washed to the emotion of rage which she does not know how to control its directions. At the end of the month  it started to get harder for her mother to see Nora in the hospital. She wants her to go to school, play with her friends and to have a normal life. She argued with the doctors. “ Nothing has happened to my daughter. She will be fine at home and I will take good care of her.” 

Just before Christmas Nora returns home with her mother. They sit in their living room. The bare  Douglas-fir-tree sits on the corner of the room and the ornaments in a metal container. Her mother smiles brightly at her. “ Have faith and everything will be alright.” She says wrapping her hand around Nora tight as a robin’s nest. As they hang the ornaments on the fir-tree, her mother says,“ You are an angel straight from heaven.”

 

Image result for image of a christmas tree

Strange things in a modern society.

Crisis

At 3 Am on Saturday morning Serenity wakes up in a start. A strange sensation that something is not right. A swirl of anxiety spins in her mind. She sits on the bed . Last night she did not hear anyone coming in or the barking of the dog. That is not possible because she is very light sleeper. Serenity slips from the bed. She pushes her daughter’s bedroom door and stands in the doorway staring. The bed is undisturbed. Celeste is supposed to be back before midnight. Serenity tries her cell phone number which rings but goes straight to the answering message. Something is very wrong here. Serenity breaths quickly now  though her heart beat is calm.

She walks outside to the wooden deck.Only a smoldering dull light seems to descend from the sky as if a bright moon is trapped behind the clouds. Her daughter’s sagging hammock between the two sturdy trees is there but no Celeste of course. Serenity goes to the garage, entering through a side door no one inside there.  May be she stayed with her friend but did not call. May be her phone battery is down. Serenity enters again to her daughter’s room and turns on the light. She sees how neatly tightly books are arranged into the small Red oak bookcase. Celeste always love books and mostly classics. Her favorite pencil drawings on stiff white construction paper decorates one side of the white wall. Serenity moves closer to the wall the drawings are so elaborate, fine and meaningful. She looks at the small vintage clock on the table. It is almost 5 Am. Where on earth could she be!  Serenity speaks sharply. No she is angry and at the same time despair. She  fumbles for a chair, a kitchen chair and sits down heavily as if the air has slammed out of her. She starts to call all of Celeste’s friends one after another. Nobody knows. They all reply that she was with them in the school dance until it was over and they did not see her after that. Serenity feels so weak and so frightened. Her daughter is only thirteen years old. She contacts the sheriff department, her last hope. It feels as if a nightmare movie runs at high-speed for a cruel-comic effect. And she does not like scary movies not at all. She has watched and read so many news on missing children and she has cried many a times for the mothers, for those children.

We have found your daughter-alive and well. This call, so desperately wished for  does not come.

The search team has looked for Celeste everywhere, morning to dusk. Volunteers a flex flyers to telephone poles, trees, public walls, in post office, in walking trails. But no answer yet. Serenity’s eyes pouched in tiredness and damp. She sits in her prayer room eyes closed, hands folded. ‘God if I could trade my life for my little girl, then let that be, please keep her safe and spare her, take mine instead.’

There is a reward to find Celeste. Many calls come in but not the right one. Someday Serenity fantasizes to here ‘ We have found your daughter and she wants to talk to you.’ But there is nothing, nothing at all. The sheriff finds Celeste’s navy blue scarf and one pair of her black high heels in a parking lot but not her. Serenity has accepted the fate, the cruelty of life.

Six years have passed.

One summer evening in July. Serenity has just returned from her volunteer work from the women’s shelter. The doorbell rings. In front of  the door stands the local sheriff, who has helped Serenity a lot in her daughter’s missing case.In his eyes a strange elation. “ I have a good news for you. We have your daughter.” He says with a tight small smile.

“What? Serenity begins to feel very faint. The news is dazzling as a sudden bright,blindness scalding her brain. “ What did you say? You found Celeste?” Serenity tries her best to stand straight holding to the side of the door.

She runs towards the police car in bare foot.Her dog runs behind her. There on the back seat, someone is lying wrapped in a grey blanket and her face hidden, unmoving and she has known at once who it is. “ Celeste!” she lifts her daughter’s body and wraps her arms around her in a rib-crushing embrace. “ I love you so much.” She says kissing her daughter’s forehead.

The daughter’s pale skin, her shadowed eyes, dark curly hair that has thinned a lot from malnutrition and the scars on her abused body tells a very long sad,and heart breaking story to her mother. Serenity glances closely. Mother understands very well the emotion,the feelings, the sadness in her child’s eyes. “ I am so grateful that you are with me.” Serenity wipes her own tears. “ Do not you worry, I will take care of you. I will bring justice to you.” She carries her daughter to inside the house as she whispers choking in her own tears. “ Together we will fight and we will win.”

 

Simple Pleasure

Pleasure

“I adore simple pleasures. They are the last refuge of the complex.”- Oscar Wilde.

Aura tries to be a touch giver in workplace, in the volunteer programs, in the meetings and she does in her own way. She loves the gracious act of decoration and transformation.But sometimes she is a bit bewilder as to how one can perform pretty miracles to make a huge difference in the world of a house. Today is July 4th, off from work. She has plenty of time at hand. Aura looks around. She walks towards the mantel, lifts the beautiful hand painted vase, the one she painted in her second painting class. It turned out good for a new learner. Her husband and children do not say any negative which concludes her doubt. She looks at it closely. “Sure it looks pretty.” She decides to keep that in between the two white elephants which she purchased last time from India. She moves the wooden giraffe from there. According to Aura giraffes must have been made by someone talented but distracted.

The wooden bookcase caught her eyes and gratefully Aura crosses the hall. Her husband and children like to collect books but they just pile them in the book case.To relieve the congestion she takes up the framed photographs of her last visit to the Yellowstone National Forest and sets them on the top of the piano. Aura steps back and surveys her innovation. “Wow! It is Amazing!” The doorbell rings. Aura opens the door at the first bell. Her husband returns from his long morning walk with the dogs, still lots of energy to smile brightly at her. They sit on the beige sofa with two glasses of lemonade on hands. “ Well, it seems like you have rearranged the room again?” He says with a small smile taking a sip from the glass.Aura moves forward on cushion excitedly to tell all the new things she has done.She does not talk too much but a little to break the monotonous time. But at that time her husband has already opened the newspaper and hid most of himself behind the paper. Aura moves back on the sofa with the fashion and art page of the newspaper on her hand but she gets bored. She puts the paper down on the small end table. She wonders how he could get so much enjoyment out of a newspaper. She wish she could. Aura looks around to get her husband’s attention. “ I love these flowers,” she says arranging the bright yellow roses in a long neck glass vase. Her husband does not answer. He sighs and continues his reading.

In the late afternoon Aura drives to the elderly care home. She walks upstairs to the room to the right of the hall. The room is bright and comfortable furnished with pristine bed,  a small sofa. The old man, a friend of Aura sits on the chair, his eyes towards the door. Twice in a month Aura visits him and lifts the curtain on his creativity,helping him in the music lessons.This is the greatest pleasure for Aura when her blind friend plays passionately with great care pausing for emphasis, shaking his head at certain notes as if  he walks in a rainbow.You  will just breathe hard and listen to him mesmerized. After the practice Aura leaves to meet another woman in the same building. She knocks gently on her door and not expecting a response anyway she enters. Her other friend is in the bed. The yellow blanket is pulled up to her chest. Aura arranges the fresh picked flowers from her garden into a small glass vase and places on the wooden table close to the bed. Her name is Ivy and she is ninety years old. She does not have any family member so Aura visits her to give her company. Aura wraps her warm fingers around Ivy’s delicate hand. Ivy opens her eyes and smiles.

The last faint colors of the sun are gone. Aura returns home.

Rearranging a puzzle

Clouds

Overnight it has turned into thick Summer. Clarissa closes the book ‘ The Sun also rises’ and leans back on the chair. Too much reading leaves her mind contracting and expanding like the mainspring of a clock. The sounds in the garden outside joins with the clock and the small noises of midday. She raises her first finger and lets it fall on the arm of her chair so as to bring back to herself some consciousness of her own existence. She leans deeper on to the soft cushion and her thought takes a different perspective.

What is life? It is only a light passing over the surface and vanishing, as in no time she would vanish though the furniture, the books, her writings would stay same. She sits perfectly still. It is too dense even to think. The huge mountain range through the glass window looks spectacular. Clarissa twists the brass knob of the door and walks outside to the right.  A hiking trail towards the mountain.

She walks faster and faster until she reaches on the summit of a little hill. On a narrow turn she sinks down on to earth, clasping her knees together and looking blankly in front of her. A yellow butterfly which is opening and closing its deep blue wings very slowly on a little flat stone.Hypnotized by the wings of the butterfly she sits for some time longer. Life is beautiful, she agrees. She continues to walk until she reaches on the flat space on the top of the mountain. The extraordinarily beautiful forest has merged into mountains. The Colorado river down below runs across the plain as flat as the land. Clarissa looks around, then stands still. She shouts out a line of poetry but the words escape her and she stumbles among lines and fragments of lines which has no meaning at all except for the beauty of words.The sun is beginning to go down. Long thin clouds of flamingo red with edges like the edges of curled ostrich feathers lay up and down the sky at different altitudes.She runs down hill.

Inside the hotel room she sits with her chin on her hands, trying to remember the things she is supposed to do. It feels strange to be in a hotel by myself. May be I have taken off to write a book. If that is the case then I want to write a novel on Silence, the things people don’t say; their sorrows, difficulties, their nightmares. She sighs as she leans on her elbow and arranges the flowers in the glass vase. In front of her on the small oval  mirror her reflection plays.She must be in her fifties. Who is she? What is she doing in a hotel in Colorado? What about her family? Clarissa opens her black hand bag, picks each stuff and checks them closely to find her identity. Nothing. She looks at her phone. So many names and so many numbers. She leans her head on her forearm.The phone rings.Clarissa startles. “Yes this is she. Who? O’, yes I will. I will text you the address.” She replies nervously touching the ring on her finger.

Early morning. Clarissa moves across the hall. Her thoughts spin into fragments. There are days when memories run away and hide, by the time she comes chasing after, they have wriggled off somewhere else to be another thing.With a hot cup of tea in her hand, she settles herself on a stool to play the  piano in the lobby. Up and up the steep spiral of Beethoven sonata she climbs, like a person ascending a staircase energetically at first, then more laboriously advancing with her feet with effort.The front glass door opens and a gentleman walks in smiling warmly. He sits down on the chair close to Clarissa.“ How are you? Are you having a good time? I am here to take you home.” His voice is cheerful and loving.

Clarissa rocks with a happy rhythm as she tries to build a new body of memory.

images.jpgmemory

 

Crafting Life

Purpose

From time to time a gust of uneasiness would blow through the back rooms of my mind, as if a window has been left open there and a storm has come through and her neatly stacked pages of notes in being human has blown off the desk.

Joanna is an ordinary woman with high hopes, very loving, sometimes funny, overprotective, loves her family, thoughtful and always ready to help others. Last week she attended the wedding of her cousin sister and had lots of fun with family and friends. This week the regular day has started- go to work, run to the grocery, make time for the exercise routine either Body combat or kickboxing, prepare dinner, watch TV, make phone calls etc… All these striving, all the joys,miseries, meetings, mood swings, parties she asks to herself, leads exactly to where? Too much of fun and then what?

Early Sunday morning. Joanna feels enormous feeling of emptiness. Turn your eyes away from the good life for just a second and there it is : kind of lingering questions what is the purpose of life or what is the point of all these? She sits up on the bed. It is only four thirty in the morning. But can not sleep. Joanna walks out to the back deck and stands leaning against the wooden post, her arms folded, one foot crossed and the toe pointed into the ground. She tries to search for an answer in the darkness, in the air, within her own self.

Sometimes a particular memory sparkles more strongly than the others.

One bright summer day in June.  Sixteen years old Joanna sits with her grandmother in the living room. In Front of them sits a sage in a deep orange robe with saffron border. His eyes are very clear, bright,calm and full of kindness. He sips the mango juice calmly and deliberately, then looks up giving a beaming, magical smile to us. He waves his hand around in a way as if he is playing an imaginary upside down keyboard with floating fingers and tries to explain a meaningful life. His voice comes out without rise or fall. “ It is fine to enjoy what you like, but always keep a balance in them.” He says waving his hand, “ Life should be purposeful, meaningful. Clear visions and positive goals, leads to positive actions and purposeful life. Different types of pleasure, sadness are all very temporary; they come and go. But when you help people it lasts for long time and that is more enjoyable.”

 

He smiles and says, “ Is it clear? It should.”

The mask of a modern society

Superstition

Piya loves the tinkling sounds of the colorful glass bangles. There is a big hand crafted wooden box that sits on the right side of the dresser in her mother’s bedroom. The box has decorated vines on the sides and pretty flowers on middle. Inside the box there are different bold and bright colors of glass bangles to go with the saris. Whenever her mother plans to go out either to a party or to a movie or to a friend’s house she changes her bangles to match with her sari. Today they are going to a wedding party. Piya adjusts the frill of her lilac dress and settles herself on a small wooden chair close to the dresser. She glances at her mother. Her mother gently opens the box with her slender fingers and pulls out each color of bangles to try on the sari. She nods her head and tries another color then another. It continues for a while. Patience is very important. At the end either the matching color or a contrasting one wins. Piya pushes her curly black hair behind her ears and lifts her big brown anxious eyes. A delightful smile plays on her mother’s face. Daisy waits patiently to see the next part. Her mother pulls out a royal blue silk sari with a golden boarder, slides the matching bangles in her arms and stands in front of the huge mirror. “Mom, you look so pretty!” Piya says touching the soft material of the sari.

Piya’s mother smiles lovingly as she pulls out a pair of small bangles from the wooden box.

“Let’s try these on your arms.” The bangles sit perfectly.

“you look lovely too.” She says hugging her daughter.

It is a stormy day when the driver comes to pick up Piya from the elementary school. Piya makes several attempts to ask him the reason for picking her early from school but she decides to sit quietly. The house is full with people; her grandparents, uncles, aunts and lots of her dad’s friends. The atmosphere of the house matches to the outside weather- very gloomy!  Piya walks into her mother’s room. Her mother sits there on the floor with her head down on her folded knees. She has a white sari and no bangles .The room is full with other ladies of the neighborhood. Piya runs towards her mother.

“Mom, what is going on here?” She says gently touching her mother’s shoulder.

Her mother makes an attempt to open her mouth then she quickly looks down. Her eyes are brimming with tears. She tries hard to control but could not. She pulls piya to her lap and wraps her arms tightly around her.

“Mom, what has happened? Why are you crying? Why are you wearing a white sari? And no bangles! Why mom?” Piya asks curiously wiping the tears from her mother’s eyes.

One of the lady wipes her own tears with a handkerchief and clears her voice. “Sweetie, today something bad has happened. Your dad has passed away to heaven. It is a custom that from now on your mother has to wear white saris and no bangles”. She shakes her head, dabs her eyes and says.” But you will not understand that, so go to the other room to your aunt.” The lady bends down to pick up the broken bangles from the floor.

Piya takes her mother’s cold hand within her hand and slowly leans against her body. Tears roll down on her cheeks. “Is that true mom?”

They hug each other and cry while seven years old Piya promises herself to make her mother happy.  She cannot bring her father back but she will let her mother breath. Yes, her mother will wear the bangles and the pretty bright saris.

The mask of the modern Indian society to hide the saddest superstition has fallen apart. It is still prevalent and deeply embedded in the culture. It exists in most of the small cities and rural areas. People strongly believe that the widows cannot remarry, cannot wear jewelry, can’t wear bright saris which are all useless dogmas. Life should not end as one becomes widow. They should be allowed to open the door and step out.   

 

 

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Lekhamisra

Lekhamisra

Hello and Namaste to my wonderful bloggers and readers. I am Lekha, grew up in one of the beautiful city of Odisha in the mystical land India. My paternal grandmother was a perfect story teller- stories of brave kings and queens to stories of freedom fighters, to stories on kindness,honesty, compassion, truthfulness. As soon as I learned to read, my marvelous adventures started through the fairy tales, the mysteries, the classics and the autobiographies. O’ Yes, it was lots of fun! Life got busy with my son and daughter in their school,library, music class, dance class, tennis, soccer, scout, debate...Staying active is very important for me. I have a deep affection and respect to Nature. After the children started their own lives, enormous time has poured into my weekends. I decide to do devout my time in volunteering. But still I could not satisfy my hunger and craving to do something more. One evening, I was reading some article on international issues on children, women,and on animal cruelty, which were very disturbing, traumatic and sad. It is very hard to see others in suffering. Life is more fulfilling and rich when you help others, when you bring smile on others. “ Be a rainbow in someone else’s clouds.”- Maya Angelou. So I start to write again. I want my writing to be a strong voice for others in distress; for the innocent animals,for children, for women, on global warming and for all other social causes. Sometimes the truth is hard to digest but I am determined to reflect on those topics to make my readers aware on social issues. And I am thankful to WordPress for providing this wonderful platform to express my observation, views and dreams. I hope you explore the stories,enjoy and leave appropriate comments.

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