Mending the fence

Fence

Her purple scarf was looped around her throat, school books scattered on the bed. She dances to her favorite music. She has pushed up the sleeve of the shirt; the silver bracelet moves up and down the smooth skin of her arm, almost slipping off. Sophia is glad to see her daughter wearing the bracelet that she presented on her last birthday. Leaning against the living room door she watches her twelve years old daughter Jade.

“ Mom! You are here.what do you think of my dance?” She pulls out her earphone and looks at her mother.

Sophia steps forward and quickly kisses Jade on the forehead. “ You dance so gracefully with a natural flow!”

Jade’s voice is impatient: “ No, I mean my shoes. Look at them.”

Sophia is surprised to see the black, pencil high heels. She tries not to criticize so she laughs. “They are so high..”

“ They are not. They are comfortable and I am in love  with them.” Her voice is triumphant.

She smiles and leaves.

Jade is Sophia’s only child and her love. They used to do everything together; library visit, shopping, movies, hiking. Gradually it has changed. Jade behaves very different. She tries to defy whatever her mother says.

On one weekend Jade gets ready for her high school play.  It is a competition between two last teams. Clothes are spilling from her bag, she has thick makeup on her face. “Dad and I will be there tonight.” Sophia says brightly. “ We will pick you after the play around ten.”

She stares at Sophia. “ I am not a little girl. Pick me at eleven. I want to enjoy some time with my friends.”  The anger in her tone is surprising. Sophia does not want to argue. Jade shrugs and turns, bending over the dog. She kisses her, pulling  her ears gently; though she hardly stirs, her tail thumps the floor.

Sophia walks closer and hugs Jade. “ Sweetheart, you are a triumph, so relax, everything will be fine.”

She waves from the door. “ Bye, mum,” she says.

Later that evening it gets windy; a storm is brewing. The raw power of storm is terrifying.  Sophia accompanies her husband to pick up Jade. The doors are locked, parking lot is empty. They drive to a couple of Jade’s friends houses but she is not there. They search her desperately. Sophia’s face is white and hands are cold.

One early morning in October.  Sophia could not sleep. It is hard to see the her daughter’ empty room. She walks into the deck and stands quietly.The silence presses coldly against Sophia’s face. The morning sinks into a dull afternoon and unannounced grief settles closely around her. She misses jade so much. It is hard to see exactly where the change started. Sophia goes back over and over to different points in time to find where she could have altered the fate. She sits on the bench and her tired eyes closes. Jade’s lovely face floats in the gray space in front of her.

Sophia wakes up early; outside the first layer of dark has lifted, leaving the garden as still and flat as a painting under the gray sky. In her dream, Jade has been there, under the tree,shadowed by leafy branches. Minute passes. The stinging shock of empty garden fades into the familiar ache.

As she enters into the kitchen, the doorbell rings. Sophia twists the silver knob and pulls the door open. There stands Jade in a white t-shirt and a jean with a small black duffel bag on her right hand. Her hair has grown long. There are tattoos on her both hands. A small smile flickers on her tight lip. Sophia could not wait to hear her daughter’s excuses. She runs and pulls Jade closer and hugs her. Tears of love runs on her cheek. Jade sobs and whispers. “ I am really  sorry mom, I have given you so much trouble.  You can punish me the way you want.But I could not live without you. You are the best thing in my life.Please forgive me, please.”

Sophia cries and laughs at the same time. “ Yes sweetie, I have forgiven you. But now that you are back, everything will be fine. We will work it out.” She wipes her own tears with the back of her palm and her other hand wraps tightly around her daughter’s delicate hand.

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.   

 

 

Behind the decision

The Road Less Traveled

Deep within a dream Alexia feels someone stroking her forehead. A gentle, soft touch of a cool loving hand. It must be mom. She  squints her eyes. A slim sunbeam thrown across her face, its warmth brushing against her nose and cheeks. Alexia stretches her arms overhead under the pillow and startles. She does not see her mom there but Ms. Janet the supervisor. She adjusts her black cat eye shaped eyeglass on her nose. “It is almost eight o’clock. Get ready in half an hour and come downstairs to my office. Mrs and Mr Archer are coming in the morning and Ms white will come in the afternoon to meet you. The White family is very rich and if they like you , then it will be a fairy tale for you.” From the trail of her eyes Alexia glances at Ms Janet’s face. From her expression she seems to be strict but she has a soft corner for Alexia. Ms Janet taps on Alexia’s shoulder to get her attention and then continues her speech.

“Make sure to sit straight while playing the piano.” Suddenly miss Janet’s small mouth twists, her gray eyes gets wider and she whispers through her clenched teeth. “You don’t have to be loud and obnoxious but at least speak clearly. Otherwise when people hear you, they think that you are withdrawn, like a turtle more comfortable in its shell. You don’t want that, do you?”

Alexia tucks her stray straight black hair behind her ear. She says twisting her favorite fake silver ring on her finger.“ Yes, I will try my best to improve. I will get ready in a few minutes.” She runs to the bathroom. Behind the door she stands quietly staring at the ring. It says Expect a miracle. But it has been so long! She has met so many couples wishing that her adoption will be quick. But it has not happened yet. Alexia sigs. She  tries to remember her real mother or father but her earliest memory are of being in an orphanage. Sometimes she squeezes her own arms around herself. She would pretend her arms are her mother’s, holding her. She would close her eyes and imagine the scent of her hair, the softness of her face, the warmth of her lips on her forehead. But as soon as she opens her eyes the reality sinks in.She is tired of living in a orphanage.

 

Alexia is nine years old, has beautiful bright black eyes, brown skin color just like the raw almond. Her head is full of intelligence. Her manners are kind, sensitive and courteous. But she is very shy and short stature. She does not like strangers or too many people. All the other children in the orphanage always make fun of her. Some say that she has autism. Ms Janet wants her to get adopted as soon as possible. So she has started another new skill; playing piano.

 

Alexia opens the blind from the bathroom window. Outside it is very bright and sunny. She touches her ring and makes the wish. Downstairs in the office, Ms Janet  sits on a chair and on the opposite side of the table sit the couple. There is a  warmth and a motherly affection in the eyes of Mrs Archer.After the initial introduction Ms Janet asks her to play the piano. A small smile appears on Alexia’s anxious and fearful face. At the right side of the big square room sits the ebony color piano. Alexia pulls out the stool from beneath the piano and settles her small body in the ivory cushion. Her back is very straight and takes a deep breath.Now her shoulders relaxed.She stares for a moment at all the keys then slowly lowers her fingers on the white key and presses. The soft sweet music fills the room. The couple could not wait to the end. Mrs Archer pulls her from the stool and hugs her. The air gets alive. “ O’ sweetie you are so talented! It is our pleasure to meet you. You are an angel.” After they leave Alexia meets the other couple the Whites family. They like her so much that on the next day they invite Ms Janet to visit their house.

The house is like from a fairy tale. A long circular driveway with perfectly trimmed hedges on both sides. Evenly spaced apart are charcoal gray lamp posts. On the sides there are large red maple trees with leaves that look like dark rubies. The rooms are brilliant with beautiful chandeliers and candles. The decorations inside of the house is just like from the houses from movies. Alexia hops from one room to the other. There are eighteen rooms  and they are decorated beautifully in bold colors and different designs. Suddenly Alexia stops and looks around. Mr White is furiously typing on his phone and Mrs White is adjusting the big diamond necklace in front of a mirror. The housekeepers are busy in their jobs. This family will provide her everything for her but she does not feel the warmth of Mrs. Archer in her. Everything here seem too much superficial. Alexia leans against the black marble pillar. She wants motherly affection, love and lots of it but about money she is not sure. She climbs down the circular staircase and ready to leave.

As they slid themselves into the car seat Ms Janet clears her throat. “ Are you not happy? Do you know that they will make all your dreams come true. You will live like a princess.”

Alexia sits there in silence staring numbly into the space.

Next morning Alexia visits the home of Mrs Archer. Mrs Archer runs towards the front door to welcome them inside. She hugs her like she has been gone for years. It is a small one story house with four bedrooms. The front yard has different colors of rose plants and a neat square lawn with trees tucking it into shade. From the kitchen comes the aroma of cooking and baking. On the wall of the narrow hall there are pictures of a little girl. Alexia turns around. “ Mrs. Archer, who is this pretty girl in all the pictures?” Her face is quite grave now. Sadness flickers across her face.She stands there still. A long pause. “ She is Hope, my daughter. I love her so much. She was a bundle of energy. Tears gather and fall.Three years back she passed away in cancer.” Alexia leans forward and touches Mrs Archer. “ I am sorry to hear that.” Mrs Archer wipes the tears from her eyes and changes the subject. “ I play piano which is your favorite and I will show you how to play fluently. On the weekends we go to help in the soup kitchen and in our neighborhood food pantry. We will love to take you there. I am a teacher so in summer we take one month off and travel different national parks and do hiking. And what about you? Tell me the things you like to do.” She asks Alexia

.

The final decision has been made. Mrs Archer is now Alexia’s mother. She is ready to share her dreams with  Mrs Archer and be her loving daughter. She feels that certain places on the earth  must produce happiness and love, just as a plant that languishes everywhere else thrives only in special soil.

 

Pinpoint a moment in your past where you had to make a big decision. 

Swan Song

Last Words

The world beyond the glass window is blurry. The wind shifts from South to Northeast. First it brings rain , then sleet and snow. The Primrose and Crocuses are hidden under wintry drifts, the larks are silent. Sage sits on a soft white wing chair in the study room.She rests her chin in her hand, her elbow prop on the chair’s arm and lost in her thoughts. Her thoughts shuttering through her brain like fast,frantic centipedes. The book ‘A Path Appear’ lays spread on her lap and the scarcely perceptible wind from the small opening of the window flutter its pages at interval. She has to take the important decision of her life. Sage leans back on the chair , closes the flap of the book, stretches her arms above her head and then smiles. Decision has been made.

Today is February 2025. A beautiful day. Sage leans against the window and watches the Peach hues of the sunlight,and it’s beautiful dance on the snow. She walk towards the living room, adjusts her eyeglass on her nose and sits on the black Aeron chair. She opens her I-pad. Today Sage has to write her last blog. It is really hard! She says. She squeezes her eyebrow, wiggles her fingers, looks out through the window, then slowly leans her head on the chair and thinks. It has been so many years of writing  blogs in the word press. I love expressing my feelings, ideas, emotions, voice through my writing. Everyday during the lunch break I close my office door, sit comfortably on a chair, pull my I-pad. I read the wonderful posts one after another. O’ it is so much fun, just like a kid in a candy land. Even sometimes it is hard to decide which one to read first. But I have decided to lead my life in a different way. I  should write a letter to all my friends in the Word-press, they will understand. It is really sad to part from both writing and friends. Well, I think this is life! Sage lets the tears collect on her lashes and stream down her cheeks. But she wipes them in the back of her palm. Then she, lifts the strands of stray hairs from her eyes, sits straight on chair and starts typing the letter.

Dear friends, 

This year I am retiring from work. Yes, I know that I will have more time to write, read and hike but may be not. I have joined in an international charity organization, where I will work as a volunteer to help the young children from poverty and will act as a mentor for abused girls. Because these social problems need more attention. I am going to help in providing food, teach classes, be their voice.I will try my best to give them hope and a chance to survive, to face the challenges of life. I am confident that I can do it and at the same time sad, because I may not get time to write. I want to give undivided attention to the young children to lift their spirits. All of you are so wonderful in encouraging me  and letting me enjoy your beautiful blogs. Really I am in love with your writings. I am grateful to Word-press for giving this wonderful opportunity and humble to have you as my friends. Hopefully we will meet again here is the Word press.

“When the sun says goodbye to earth, it leaves a beautiful sunset as a gift. When friends say goodbye to each other, they leave mementos of everlasting and priceless memories”.

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Success through my eyes

If “failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor” (Truman Capote), how spicy do you like your success stories?The Spice of Success

Success and failure are closely related.Failure has been branded a taboo in our society. We need to understand that the elements of success are hidden in failure.Everybody who achieves unbelievable victories also knows saddening defeat. Failure is essential and even inspiring. “Develop success from failure. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping-stones to success.”- Dale Carnegie.

I always notice that success correlates to power, money,possessions,fame.The term varies from person to person, from gender to gender. The definition of success is shaped by social and cultural expectations. Life is very precious and tomorrow is not guaranteed. For me success is like wrapping my life with love, compassion, generosity,gratefulness.And to make it spicier I need  more burning desire to experiment and explore which will help me to identify my inner strength and energies to discover the full potential . I want to live my life passionately spreading joy and happiness and continue my  persistent  journey for a spicier successful life.

Dense Fog

 “One moment she is here, and then she is gone again and each journey takes her a little farther from the reach”. – Debra Dean.

Amber startled and looked around with a mix of bewilderment, shock and wonder.

She sits on a bench on the wet sand; the spilling waves are breaking down softly at her feet. A few sea gulls are scavenging on the sand, and one or two pelicans on the water. She holds a black leather hand bag in one hand, and a notebook on the other. Her black dress is wet from knee down. She tries to adjust her sticky hair. Even her face seems wet and sticky. She tries to remember how she came there, why she is in the beach, and where she is supposed to go. A heavy suffocating blanket of reality began to sink in. She leans with her elbows on her knee, chin in her hands, and remains rapt in deep thought.  But everything seems so hazy and vague; it’s hard to remember anything. She opens her bag and grabs the phone and looks at all the contacts. And now she is in a dilemma on whom to call. Her forehead is shaded with a heavy cloud; lips are sealed in an expression of unspeakable sadness and anxiety.

“Hello, Mason? This is Amber”.

Mason was surprised to hear Amber’s voice “Is everything alright? Are you done with your presentation? And where are you? Are you driving back? It is so late.”

Amber can hear the anxiety from the other end and the voice seems so familiar. She swallows and answers, “I am lost and I do not know how to answer all your questions. But, it would be nice if you could pick me up close to the beach, in the nearby hotel, Hotel Galvez”.

“I will be there between fifteen to twenty minutes!” Mason took a deep breath, glad to know that Amber was fine. He needed to take her to the doctor tomorrow.

His wife is 5’6, almost sixty, cut a striking figure, a tall and graceful woman with long, slender legs. Her hair that is as pale as milkweed has gone from black to white, and the years of laughter and joy reflect through the crow’s feet at the corner of her eyes. She has been happily married for thirty five years, has a very loving family, blessed with one daughter and one son. She enjoys every bit of her life, happy in the job, enjoys her kick boxing, Zumba, yoga classes, long walk, even hiking- a very active lifestyle. She loves doing puzzles and Sudoku. She loves writing. She would put her thoughts into the most beautiful words, and flavors her stories to perfection. She is a little introverted, but very positive and independent.

However she started to become forgetful- cellphone numbers, the lane where she parked the car, the keys to the house or office, important papers. Sometimes she would stand in the doorways trying to figure out where she was going. Sometimes she even forgets what she wants to say. There are days she is more confused than others. Some days she drives crazily. She drives in the wrong lanes and runs red lights or stop signs.

Mason was worried and took Amber to different doctors. The doctor diagnosed the symptoms, as Alzheimer’s a progressive neurological disease, a common form of dementia.

Early in the morning, Amber notices the pink of the new day seeping through the lacey white curtain. She wants to write today. Inside the kitchen, the light reflects off the bits of chrome, sinking quietly into the granite countertops and floor.  In the middle of writing, she stretches her arms above her head, to the back, looks away, stares at the ceilings, looks back at the page in the hope of being surprised by the brilliance of what is there. She held her chin between finger and thumb, tries to think hard, but then it does not matter, she is happy with her writing. Mason looks at his wife and asks if she wants to take a break and join him on the patio for a hot cup of tea. He knows how Amber loves to sit on the patio from where you can see her treasured Rose plants, and the branches of the Cherry trees hang heavy with pink and white blossoms, their petals drifting like a spring snow on to the yellow daffodils below.

Sometimes she would fall in love with me again just like she had a long time ago. And that is the most wonderful feeling in the whole world.”- Nicholas Sparks.

One day Mason walks into the house and sees Amber sitting in an old fashioned wing backed swing from this angle her face is obscured by a large sunhat and sunglass. An album lays spread on her lap, she tries to visualize and the images are fuzzy, obscure, flow of things lost. Both the dogs bent on stretching their paws and yawing and wagging their tails. Amber looks up at Mason. The expression of her face seems disturbed and anxious. Her lips are half open as if she means to speak, and then she draws a deep breath. She smiles, the laugh lines deepens and says, “Hi. It is nice to see you home early.” Mason is determined to heal his wife, help her in this rough time. Noiselessly he pulls the other garden chair, and sits close to his wife gently holding her hand. He says, “I want to chitchat with you, then we can go for a stroll, but first, we can look at the album together”. Mason opens up each page of the albums, and starts telling the stories on the different pictures. It is like a puzzle and each piece held historic facts, personal memory. Amber tries her best to visualize the stories.

A New Norm for modern civilized Society

The shrill sound of the doorbell startled Stella as she was concentrating in coloring the pages with her two years old daughter.  She headed towards the door and opened it slowly thinking about the unexpected guest.  But surprised to find that the small package at the door front. From the back she heard Loren’s soft voice mom what is in that box? Is that the thing you ordered for your recipe Then abruptly Stella replied, ”O’ yes you guessed it right my dear, let me open it first.’ Both went to the kitchen and Stella opened the box and there was the interesting stuff to make delicious brownies that she ordered for the competition.

She asked Loren if she wanted to help her in making the special brownies.  Stella was not a very confident baker, but she wanted to be the best in her subdivision. She baked two dozens of brownies, sprinkled the rainbow colored chocolate chips on the top, and wrapped them nicely.  She looked at them and felt proud for the wonderful job. Next day after work, she hurried home, picked up the brownies and headed to the community hall with both her kids and husband. The competition started. She looked at the tables and saw so many different types of brownies. The judges tried all the sweets one after another. It was very quiet for a while then suddenly some of the judges started giggling then laughing loudly, rolling on the carpet and some of them came and hugged Stella and asked her about the secret ingredient. She did not understand at all about all those strange things that were happening there. She just wanted to win the prize. Her family waited patiently to the end, then after the announcement they left without getting the first prize, but a business card and a big inviting smile from one of the chief guest. On the way back to home Stella and her husband both was thinking about the whole incident and about the strange business card.

 

The following morning Stella was getting ready to go to work and her husband was watching the news when the phone started to ring. Stella hurried to answer the phone and could not believe the words she heard. “MS Stella, good morning, we are calling on behalf of the Cooper Mason Venture in Colorado, to congratulate you that we are glad to hire you as our new brownie supplier and if you have a little time we can discuss the deal in details”. I want to stop the story here and give the reader a chance to think about the outcome and the new, strange trend that is going on here in this society.

Extraordinary Performance

Olivia  for the last time peeped through her presentation points. This is her third speech for the company. As a vice-president  she has such a busy schedule, but some how she manages few hours in every month . Her boss, Mr. Butler, just walked in to accompany her to the stage, “Are  you ready ms Olivia?” She tried to hide her emotion but smiled, and said “Yes Mr Butler,  perfectly ready to win the hearts.”

After the presentation she was overwhelmed with the reaction of the audience. CEOs of different companies, from different states,  organizers, and her colleagues all  came forward to congratulate her. It was a long day but pleasant and satisfactory. That evening when she  was washing her face something caught her attention in her own reflection in the mirror. She went a little closer and looked.

There she is, the five years old little Olivia, standing in one corner of the room. Her mom has dressed her in a beautiful sky blue dress, combed her hair in a pony-tail and asked her to go and join the guests. She stared at the  long rows of the wedding guests, and felt as if getting lost among them.  In every function in her house same gathering had been  going on, always festival and always crowd. She took one step out of the room, looked closely that nobody was watching, then walked swiftly to one of the pillar to hide behind and in her head thanked her grandfather for building all those pretty pillars in the  big Victorian house, a wonderful place to hide from the crowd.

It took her half an hour to move closer to the crowd and finally to find few kids to play with. This type of behavior was very strange for her outgoing, fast paced, talkative so-called extreme  social family. Even in her college she always preferred to participate in small group activities to boost her self. Always she preferred a few close friends to share, books to read, a more solitude life to write  for self-reflection.Olivia blinked her eyes to hide the tears and felt sorry for the little girl who needed so much help that time  to overcome the fear, the helplessness. May be the decision to make her stand out is the right one.

After she joined in the workforce a remarkable change has taken place, The shy, quite, scared little Olivia   has turned into a more confident,  a very social, outspoken,all energetic,  likable person. But at home, she prefers her quiet life, her free time scoring music, gardening, sketching. Sometimes it is  strange to see her own acting on different stages in different ways.

Olivia wiped her wet  face,  and went to her study room to look at the research paper on personality studies, that how it tend to occur in patterns. Introvert as the best philosopher and the extrovert  as fearless leader. Most of us have a little of both, the various  selves of situation factors which predict the person’s behavior Some people are more  aggressive with peers and subordinates  but docile  with authority figures.   To some extent we always admire the extroverts in our society as more out going, fun- loving. And on the other hand  Introverts have a trait called self-monitoring, a high skill, where they monitor and modify the behavior, enjoy deep one to one conversations, opt for e-mails over phone, like to express ideas in writing.

Olivia closed her eyes and, thought for a moment.  Then she decided that the best way to act out of character is to stay true to  her self as Shakespeare advised ” To thine own self to be true” but  also she has to  perform her best depending   upon the stages she is acting on  and the situations.

Good night,  and hope you enjoy my view on personality and my decision.