Monthly Archives: June 2017

The Fragrance of Love

stock-photo-female-hands-heart-shape-on-nature-green-bokeh-sun-light-flare-and-blur-leaf-abstract-background-448739392

At the first hint of his arrival she would start withdrawing – quietly, unobtrusively. Gathering up her diaphanous gown she would go around swiftly, pulling down the thick green curtains of her tiny room. And she would sit, waiting for him to leave.

He would arrive with a flourish – happy, cheerful, too cheerful, she thought – sure of everyone’s adoration. He was a star, the darling of the people. ‘We love you’ they chanted, ‘You are our very life’. He soaked it all in – all that adulation, the applause – like it was his due.

She felt his compelling presence, right there, outside, coaxing her to come out. As if he couldn’t fathom why someone wouldn’t be delighted by his presence. But she refused, pulling her curtains tighter together.

What is with this mass hysteria? she seethed. She hated the loud colours he sported, hated his haughtiness, his smug smile that seemed to charm everyone.

And then in her mind’s eye rose up the other one, unsolicited unbidden – her one true love. All the bitterness drained from her and her lips curved up in a tender smile. It was his gentleness that had first struck her. Or was it simply the contrast that had intrigued her? Drawn her to him? His simplicity over the other one’s ostentation, humility over arrogance.. perhaps. ‘He is but a pale shadow’, said the others. But not to her. To her he was the world.

The excited buzz of her friends outside broke into her reverie. She was tempted, for one tiny instant, to lift that curtain, to step out. And just as suddenly the thought left her. Her friends would have to choose – him or her. She stayed stubbornly in.

The hours passed slowly until finally she heard him begin to say his farewells. He was leaving. ‘Come back soon. We’ll be waiting for you’, said his adoring fans. ‘I’ll be back’, said he with a wave of his hand, smiling still, ‘But I have other places to go to’. And then in a blaze of colour, he was gone.

Inside her room, she heaved a happy sigh. She reached out for the curtains, pulling them aside with a flamboyant flourish, revelling in the caress of the cool breeze, lifting up her face to soak it all in. Her gossamer dress fluttered gently, teasing her, tickling her, drawing out a spontaneous delighted laugh. Soon, very soon he’d arrive… up there, lighting up the night sky – her one true lover.

This one is inspired by the Moonflower that is said to bloom at dusk and fold up by the morning.

***********

Written for the prompt ‘Suns and Lovers’ for Day 6 of the second edition of the fortnight-long #Bar-a-thon.

barathon

 

 

Lord of the Files

stock-photo-beautiful-woman-nails-with-a-beautiful-bright-manicure-529358056

‘Hello! Good morning. How may I help you?’
‘I want an appointment for this weekend’.
‘We don’t work on weekends.’
‘Oh yes. Darn it! How could I forget! How about this Friday?’
‘Friday? This Friday? This Friday is just three days away. We’re all booked.’
‘How about next week then? Monday?’
Sigh! ‘We’re booked all of this month ma’am. This is not your walk-in-when-you-want establishment, you know.’
‘Yes yes, I know. I’m a regular. I do understand. It’s just that this is urgent. Please squeeze in an appointment for me. Any day this month will do. Please.’
‘Umm… let me see. How about you come in next Friday. I’ll see if I can put you between two appointments. But no guarantees, okay? And it will cost you.’
‘That’s fine. Absolutely fine. I’ll be there.’

The next Friday saw Sanaya waiting anxiously, at the edge of a sink-right-in sofa, fingers crossed, hoping her tryst would happen. Anxiety made her revert to her childhood habit and she bit her nails as she waited. She caught sight of herself in the large mirror across the sofa and pulled her hand out with a frustrated jerk, looking around guiltily to see if anyone had noticed. She could not possibly be seen sitting here biting her nails, she’d be thrown out, barred forever, perhaps. She shuddered at the thought.

Tina walked out with a smile and a sashay. ‘Hello ma’am, relax!’ she said, ‘He’ll see you in a while.’

Sanaya gave her a tight, nervous smile.

A bell tinkled musically somewhere deep inside and Tina looked up from her desk, ‘You may go in now, ma’am,’ said she.

At those magical word Sanaya felt her tense muscles relax. Oh thank God, she muttered. All would be well now.

She walked into a large room that somehow managed to look cosy. One of the walls was painted a happy lemon yellow while the others were shades of pink and lavender. A fuchsia rug lay at the bottom of a silver pink sofa, a turquoise and scarlet painting graced the wall above it while yellow bean bags and rosewood easy chairs were strewn around the room. In the middle of this colourful chaos sat the Lord of the Files.

‘So what was the desperate hurry, my dear? asked he.

‘Thank you so very much for seeing me at such short notice. I know this is last minute but I have a crucial Board meeting and I couldn’t possibly go like this.’

Sanaya held up her hands with her bitten through nails. He took them in his, fingering the damaged bits with gentle fingers. Sanaya was a regular and he was privy to her nervous secret. ‘It’s been a stressful month and I’ve had just too much on my mind,’ offered Sanaya as a rather sorry bid at an explanation.

‘Hmm… bad, bad, very bad …… but nothing that cannot be set right,’ he sighed. And then with a shake of his head and a ‘tch tch tch’ he reached out for his toolbox, picked out the gentlest of files and went to work on her nails, buffing and polishing them to perfection.

Half an hour later she walked out of the nail spa her confidence renewed, her secret safe with the Lord of the Files.

*************

Written for the prompt ‘Lord of the Files’ for Day 5 of the second edition of the fortnight-long Bar-a-thon.

barathon

Kick Like a Girl

stock-photo-woman-footballer-294196874

‘Go away. We are in the middle of a game,’ said Rishabh as soon as he saw Raina approaching the field.

‘I want to play too,’ said she.

Not again, sighed Rishabh. As if living with a twin sister wasn’t bad enough, she must now follow him to the playground and embarrass him before his friends, he fumed.

The ‘friends’ were a group of older boys. It was after months of hanging at the sidelines that he had been given entry into this elite big boys’ football club and now here she was spoiling everything. Personally, he liked playing with Raina. They had spent the entire vacation fooling around with the ball and he had to admit, she was darned good at the game.

He knew, however, the other boys would never let her join in. I wish she’d just disappear, thought he.

But that was not to be.

She walked right into the field and stood there more real than ever, her hands at her waist, chin stuck out stubbornly, bringing the game to a standstill.

‘I want to play too,’ she announced.

The boys, some eight or ten of them, walked up and surrounded her.

‘Go away girl, just because your mom bought you a jersey, doesn’t mean you can play football,’ taunted one of them.
The others laughed.
‘Football has nothing to do with clothes’, she shot back.
‘Let her be’, Rishabh rushed to her defence, ‘Go away Raina, please.’

His irritation was now tinged with concern and a tiny note of pleading crept into his voice. He stood there, looking from the boys to Raina, torn between standing up for his sister and siding with his friends, hoping she would just go away.

‘I’m not going anywhere,’ said she, reading his thoughts. You know I’m good Ri, tell them.’
‘It’s a boy’s game,’ said Sharman, the tallest of the lot, flexing his shoulders.
‘No it isn’t. The game belongs to anyone who knows how to kick a ball,’ Raina maintained.
‘Well then shoot a goal and show us what you’ve got’, said he pointing slyly to the goal post at the far end of the field.
‘Hey that’s not fair’, protested Rishabh. It’s way too far, even for you.’
‘Shut up, big brother,’ said Sharman, ‘Go on girl, kick the ball and own the game.’

Stupid, stupid, stupid Raina, thought Rishabh, she’ll never be able do it and then we’ll both be sitting in the stands forever.

But Raina was already tightening her laces with a determined look on her face. This was war, and she was going to win it. She ignored the mocking glances of the other boys as well as the anxious one of her brother.

She stepped back a few paces, took a short run up positioning her foot so that the inside of her shoe made contact with the ball. And she kicked with all she had, just like she’d watched Messi go for it hundreds of times. The ball rose up obediently in a glorious curl and smashed into the goal post shattering all stereotypes into a thousand tiny pieces.

************

Written for the prompt ‘War and Pieces’ for Day 4 of the second edition of the fortnight-long Bar-a-thon.

barathon

The Meeting

stock-photo-lovely-golf-fall-in-love-152581661

It’s going to be a tough day today. I can feel it. I know what you are thinking, ‘Since when did men start doing this intuition thing?’ Not my style either, but today I feel it in my gut. I mean how much fun can it be to meet up with your fiancee’s US-returned childhood pal? The one who thinks she knows my girl waaay better than I ever will and loves her waaay more than I ever will do? The ‘I got married before you so I know all about men and I’ll check out your fiancee for you’ friend.

It might have been fine if it were just her. But there’s also the husband to contend with. The ‘Jiju’. Ugh! I hate the sound of that word just as much as I hate it when Aditi goes on and on about him. But then I focus on that tiny endearing lisp she has and I can put up with almost anything. I do love this girl. More than I ever loved any girl, more than I thought I could ever love any girl. Aditi. I love her for her passion, for her strong sense of right and wrong, for the way she stands up for what she believes in, the way she talks – with her entire body – her eyes dance and her hands move as fast as she talks. Oh she can sweep a thousand people along simply on the wave of her enthusiasm. Within the space of a few months she had taken over my first love, Golf.

But I digress.

The thing is I need to get it right today because these guys are important to her. I dressed with care picking out a blue check shirt and my favourite tan jeans.

I arrived well before time but there she was, already. Aditi waved at me like seeing me across the road was the happiest thing that had happened to her. I forgot my nerves, my heart gave a joyous leap and I waved back at her. Sometimes I wondered at this miracle – the miracle that made her love me back just as much as I loved her.

Behind her stood Kirti and the ‘Jiju’ – the two spokes in the wheel of my perfect love story. I crossed over and as she made the introductions I sensed I was being sized up. I sensed a tinge of approval from Kirti but the ‘Jiju’ looked like a tough nut to crack. We must be about the same age, I mused. But he had a huge Rajput moustache that made him look some ten years older. We shook hands and walked into the restaurant.

In that instance I began to empathise with all those girls who had ever had to walk into a room with a tray laden with tea and samosas when the groom’s family came for the bride viewing.

We settled down and Kirti asked me about my parents and work and the wedding date. We seemed to be getting along pretty fine, better than I expected. I would have relaxed but for the Jiju who simply stared on. He was beginning to freak me out when he said, So what’s your handicap? You do play golf, right?

Man oh man! A fellow golfer! Who would have thought! And just like that the ice was broken.

**************

Written for the prompt ‘Of Ice and Men’ for Day 3 of the second edition of the
fortnight-long Bar-a-thon.

barathon

Lemon Pie Cafe

Life of Pie1

He stood in front of the cafe enjoying the crisp winter morning. The air felt cool on his hot face.

As a young couple walked in, the glass doors swung open and he caught sight of his reflection. He couldn’t help giving a self-satisfied smile. I look good, thought he, glancing appreciatively at his golden mop, its bright yellow contrasting spectacularly with his tanned chocolate body. He puffed out his chest a trifle more, settled the pleats of his paper cup just so and put on his best ever look. He was, after all, the life and soul of the cafe.

He sniffed the air – it smelt good too – fresh and lemony with a dash of cinnamon. Life’s good, thought he. It was going to be a good day.

Not everyone, however, was having a good day. He glanced back at the young couple as they spoke in angry whispers barely managing to keep their voices down; not that there was anyone else in the tiny restaurant, apart from the plump affable Mrs Brown who had discreetly retreated to the back of the bakery.

Mrs Brown glanced at the couple, then looked back at him. And then before he knew it, he was at the table and Mrs Brown was saying, “This is for both of you, with best compliments from Lemon Pie Cafe.”

The couple looked from him to Mrs Brown their frowns slowly melting.

‘You remember,’ whispered the girl, ‘the time you’d stuck a candle in one of these for my birthday,’
‘and,’ he added softly, ‘we’d argued over who should get the larger piece’,
‘and then,’ she went on, her eyes tearing up, ‘I’d almost eaten up the ring you’d put in there.’
‘And I was grateful you found it in time because it had cost my whole damn salary,’ he completed with a laugh in his voice his hand closing on hers.

At this point Mrs Brown thought it best to return to her station at the back of the bakery while he just gave a proprietary smile. That’s another sweet ending to a love-story.

This, this is what makes the life of a pie worthwhile, thought he.

************

Written for the prompt ‘Life of Pie’ for the second edition of the fortnight-long Bar-a-thon.

barathon

The Bar-A-Thon begins

I haven’t dilly dallied ever about anything as I have about this fortnight-long Blog Marathon. – the Bar-a-thon. I could do a whole blogpost on the ideas that I’ve thought and rejected because they just didn’t seem to come together. Finally, I’m plunging right in with no plan at all, taking a day at a time hoping to have a short fiction piece up here on the blog every alternate day. Very daring of me, given that I have rarely been this busy but after missing out on the A to Z I didn’t want to miss the excitement yet again.

So here it is – my first post for the Bar-a-thon.

Never Judge a Book by it’s Cover

Twilightbook

Sana put down her book and yawned. She could barely keep her eyes open. ‘Darn it’, thought she, ‘had I not missed that connecting flight I would have been home, tucked cosily into my own warm bed’. Instead, here she was, trying to make herself comfortable on a cold steel airport chair waiting for her early morning flight.

Sana normally, loved airports. She was a people-watcher, which is why she never minded the wait. But not today. And definitely not at 4 am in the morning, she mumbled to herself.

With a sigh she picked up her well-thumbed copy of War and Peace but then a huge yawn split her face and she put it down again. It was no good. She couldn’t read. As she turned to put it away in her rucksack her eyes fell on the man.

He sat in the corner seat lost in a book. Or so it seemed. And …. he was wearing glares. Glares! For goodness sake! Who wear glares inside airports, thought Sana. Other than rock-stars or film-stars. But despite his stubbled, manly good looks, he was neither. For one, he was bereft of the entourage that’s the norm with every famous personality and two because he slouched in the most unbecoming manner. No self-respecting celebrity would be caught dead sitting like that. He sat there – his shoulders slumped, his back bent, lost in the book.

And then that red apple leapt at her from the cover. Sana sat up bolt upright. She looked, and she looked again, she stared till she was very sure. Yeah it was Twilight! Which man in his right mind read Twilight? Which person in his right mind read Twilight? thought she, rather derisively. Unless they were giggly headed teenage girls. And Mr Glares here definitely wasn’t one. To Sana’s mind the book sat rather incongruously in his hands.

One really gets to the most unusual sights at airports, thought she.

From behind his glares Samir stared on unseeingly, fingering the tiny heart doodled at the corner of book – the last one his 15 year old sister would ever read.

***********

Written for the prompt ‘The Fault in our Stares’

barathon