Full Moon

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Photo (c) Gah Learner

Full Moon

Words 102

“Why are you packing?”

“I’ve had enough.”

“But why? You know I love you!”

Love?”

“Yes. A thousand times yes. My love for you shines brighter than the moon.”

“That I agree.”

“Then…?”

Your love lives off my love. No wonder it’s fickle and ever-changing.”

“Don’t say that!”

“Why not? It’s the bitter truth unlike your sweet lies. Your game is up for I can see through your fake protestations of undying avowals of love.”

“Don’t be so mean. My love for you is pure!”

“The only thing pure about you is the darkness of your soul.” He picked up his bag.

***

Written (after an eon and this one too almost slipped out – or perhaps it would have been better if it had missed the bus) for the Friday Fictioneers – a story in 100 words or less. Thanks to Rochelle for hosting the challenge and Gah Learner for the photo prompt. To read the other stories inspired by this prompt click here.

 

Sonu aur Titu ki Lovely – X

Links to the previous parts are here:

Chapter 1: A Lovely Noose

Chapter 2: A Lovely Surprise

Chapter 3: A Lovely Story

Chapter 4: The Unfinished Story

Chapter 5: A Lovely Dinner

Chapter 6: A Lovely Confession and a Spat

Chapter 7: To Hell and Back

Chapter 8: A tête-à-tête

Chapter 9: The Ugly Truth

Chapter 10: Unanswered Questions

Lovely spent a sleepless night reliving the horrors, which she had pushed away to the dark recesses of her mind. She was glad when it was morning and she could forcibly pull on the mask of normalcy and go back to work her still raw and bleeding wounds tucked firmly away out of sight – even her own.

The day dragged.

There was no sign of Sonu, not on phone or outside her office.

Just as well she thought as she reluctantly trudged back home and as expected.

But at home she was taken aback to see Sonu along with everybody else, including Ghasitaram. The animated discussion gave way to silence at her entry. Lovely stood at the doorway defiant and questioning. Ghasitaram walked up to her and met her eyes for the briefest moments before looking away.

He drew a deep breath and said. “What happened wasn’t right.”

Her lips twisted. “You mean I should have kept my mouth shut.” She cast Sonu a sneer. “I told you he wouldn’t believe me.”

“It’s not that.” Ghasitaram spoke before Sonu could.

“You believe me?” She was skeptical.

“When Sonu told me, I…I confess I didn’t. But…but like he said why would you say such a thing. So I confronted Lallan.”

“He admitted that he…?”

“No.”

Lovely flashed Sonu another accusing glare and walked away.

“But I saw guilt written on his face.” Lovely halted. “He is alive only because he is bedridden.” She turned around. “I am sorry beta.”

“Why are you apologizing?” She choked.

“Because he is,” Ghasitaram paused, “he was my friend. I feel responsible. But forgive him beta, he is not right in his mind. He is sick. Forgive him and let yourself heal.”

“It’s not just he who hurt me,” Lovely managed to say.

A hushed murmur ran through the room. “Who…?”

“Everyone,” she pointed an accusing finger to her family, “Dadi, Chacha, Chachi. They knew everything but said nothing. Did nothing.” Her voice became stronger. “Instead they told me to keep quiet, behaved as if it was my fault. That it would be better if I just killed myself out of shame and disgust and spare them the bother of having me on their conscience. What kind of society do we live in? Why must the victim keep quiet? Why is the victim shamed?”

Only questions and no answers…

“Why are questions always raised about the girl’s character, her intentions? Despite knowing everything why do they risk their own daughters’ future? Why is everybody so hell bent upon hiding the reality? Why is everyone so afraid of speaking the truth? When will the focus shift from the victim to the rapist?”

A thick silence pervaded the room.

She put a hand to her throat. “I feel suffocated, strangulated because of this enforced silence and the hypocritical lives that we have to live and hold up the image of a perfect family man.”

Eyes burning she faced Sonu. “If a goonda comes and slashes at you, breaks your leg, do you keep quiet?” Her eyes scorched Titu. “Do you hide your face in shame? No! Then why are we forced to do so? Why? Why? Why?” She screamed but again there were no answers.

She shouldered past the gathered crowd and ran to her room. She locked and bolted herself in.

The next day after work, she found Sonu waiting for her outside the bank. She froze him with a blank stare and disappeared into a waiting auto before he could move. But he was waiting for her again the next day and managed to catch her as she got into the auto but she urged the driver to speed away. After five days, Lovely gave in and took the bull by its horns.

“Yes?” she was cold. “What do you want?”

“I…I want to talk to you.”

She crossed her arms. “About what?”

“Things.” He said vaguely. “Many things.”

“I don’t think we have anything more to talk about.”

“You are wrong!” he jumped in. “I have a lot to say.” He looked around. “Please can we go somewhere private?” He quailed at the expression on her face. “A public place,” he clarified. “Like the mall?”

Lovely shook her head resignedly. He really was like a dog with a bone.

“So? What’s the problem?” Lovely asked the moment they were seated in a quiet little café at the nearest mall.

Sonu looked at her with troubled eyes. “I…I just…”

Lovely unbent. “It’s okay Sonu. It’s not your fault. You don’t have to feel guilty and over-correct for someone else’s crime. I am fine.” She swallowed and looked away. “It’s just that I have this huge wound inside of me. It doesn’t hurt if I don’t poke or prod it. But even the slightest of touches inflames it and all the pus comes gushing forth proving again that it hasn’t healed and probably never will. But,” she inhaled sharply, “I repeat it’s not your fault. So don’t feel obliged to explain, justify or even,” her voice wavered, “do a repeat telecast of your avowals of love and what not. Don’t worry I won’t hold you to it.” She smiled mirthlessly. “You can walk away and forget that we ever met.”

He shook his head. “But I can’t forget you.”

“You can and will. Just give it time.” She advised. “Trust me.”

“You can. I can’t and…and I won’t.”

“Oh please Sonu! Don’t be the drama king.” She flared up. “Don’t be so childish and stubborn. You don’t know what you are saying.”

“I know perfectly well what I am saying, if you will let me speak.” He held her eyes. “I love you and I want to marry you.”

“Even after all this?” She looked at him with shock.

“How does that change anything? One evil man hurt you wounded you and I am terribly sorry for that, but that doesn’t change my feelings for you. And why are you so surprised? Isn’t that your angst? Why blame the victim? I don’t think any of this was your fault and so it doesn’t change my feelings. If anything I love you more for having overcome this and come back to save your sister.”

“Don’t try to play the hero Sonu,” Lovely was shaking. “It will backfire on you. The novelty will wear off and…and…and besides I can’t I can’t stomach the thought of,” she broke off.

Sonu draped his jacket over her shoulders.

“Let’s have some coffee or would you prefer tea? You’ll feel better. And they make absolutely delicious tortillas. Have you tried them?”

She didn’t answer and neither did he push her. He took out his phone and flicked through his gallery. “What do you think of this?” He showed her the picture of Goan sunset at the beach. She stared at the colors lighting up the clouded skies. She cleared her throat. “It’s of course beautiful. Why do you ask?”

“The Dhoodhsagar falls was particularly spectacular.” He showed her another picture. “What do you think?”

She nodded.

He scrolled through the pictures holding out the phone to her. “Which do you prefer? The sandy beaches or the rocky beaches?”

“Why do you want to know?”

“I don’t know anything about you, your likes dislikes.” He shrugged. “I am just trying to get to know you.”

“Is this anyway to know a person? By playing twenty questions?” She threw up her hands. “Besides what does it matter?”

“It matters to me.”

“You are crazy.”

“I think you are right.” He nodded thoughtfully. “Do you know I fell in love with you at first sight?” he grinned at her expression, “Despite your protective gear,” He paused. “Or maybe because of it.”

“Sonu…”

“God woman! Will you let me speak?” He shook his head. “Boy you are such a chatterbox.”

She glared at him. “That’s rich coming from you.”

“Exactly. So please don’t keep trying to snatch the mike or the center stage from me.” He rebuked her. “So where was I? Yes, when I confessed my feelings to Titu after our third meeting, he also thought the same thing.” He looked into her eyes. “And he promptly whisked me away to Goa for de-addiction and rehabilitation. We had a blast but yet all I could think of was you. How you would have liked the sunset, whether you would have found it romantic or dismissed it with some scientific explanation, whether you would have liked to walk on the beaches or grumbled about the sand that got into everything, whether I could have convinced to try the feni or dance to the music on the ferry…”

“Sonu please,” her voice was raw and cracked. “Please don’t do this.”

“It’s already done. I can’t undo it. I can’t get you out of my system. Not then. Not while I was struggling to cope with the physical pain of the accident. Not now.”

“You’ll regret it.”

“Maybe maybe not. But in this,” he gestured between them, “I don’t have a choice.”

She blew her nose.

“Let’s not talk about me.” Sonu said earnestly. “Tell me what you want.”

“I want you to leave me alone.”

“Are you sure?” He asked.

Her eyes dropped before the intensity in his eyes. “I can’t marry you. It wouldn’t be right. I can’t…can’t,” her voice dropped to a whisper, “I don’t think I can have a physical relationship…”

“Okay so we won’t. Any other thing? You don’t dislike me do you?”

She shook her head dumbly.

“Great. So maybe you even like me a little bit?” He grinned engagingly at her.

“You are too much.” Her lips twitched.

“So you are saying that you too love me?”

“When did I say that?”

“Your eyes did.”

“Nonsense.” She looked at her watch. “I think I better go.”

“Look I am trying to cut a deal here.”

Lovely sighed. “What deal?”

“I want us to live together as friends, as partners,” he raised a hand, “and if we have to marry for that,” He shrugged. “So be it.”

“It won’t work out…”

“Well then it won’t! We’ll go our separate ways. What’s the problem?”

“You are the problem Sonu. You are oversimplifying things.”

“No. You are over-complicating things. I just want to share my life with you. Besides, Titu will get married soon and then what’ll become of me? I’ll be all alone.” He made a tragic face.

“You should also get married.”

“Excellent suggestion.” He beamed at her. “So when should we get married? Would you like a destination wedding? How about Goa? Or we could go after the wedding…”

“You aren’t listening to me!” She snapped.

“We’ll have separate rooms. For as long as you want. We can draw up a pre-nuptial and have it written down if you like.”

“It won’t work Sonu it won’t.” She said in despairing tones.

“Why will it not? For centuries people have gotten married for sex, for procreation, for political and strategic reasons so why not for friendship and companionship?” He argued. “You want a career right. Go ahead and make your career but wouldn’t it be nice to have someone at home waiting to eat your head?” Encouraged by her expression he gathered steam and waxed eloquent. “While you are busy at work who will take care of our daughters? Somebody has to be home for them right?”

“Daughters?”

“Weren’t you planning to adopt them? Children need both mother and father.” He paused as a thought struck him. He fiddled with the cutlery. “Or don’t you trust me?”

“I don’t know,” she whispered.

***

Click here for the Final Chapter: Will She Wont She

 

Brothers in Arms

stock photo, family, sibling, home, funny, kids, rivalry, patenthood

Photo from here

 

Brothers in Arms

Words 250

The only girl among three boys, I was mercilessly ragged and teased.

Their one stop entertainment channel.

Their unpaid servant.

Make me an omelet, one would say.

Coffee for me, another said.

Why me? Why always me? Make it yourself. I stamped my foot and threw a tantrum.

“Fine, I am off to tell Ma, that you went bike riding with…”

Okay fine! Thwarted, I stomp off in impotent fury. They double up laughing. I shake my fist at them. They laugh even harder.

I grow older, taller, and prettier. Besotted, I stare at myself – Mirror Mirror on the wall…

Snickers and muffled gasps from the window still haunt me. “Oooh isn’t she pretty – for a donkey?”

Skirt flying, I chase them around the neighborhood.

Mother catches me and thrashes me.

“Did you hear the poor lil donkey go heehaw heehaw?” They rub salt on my wounds.

They make me buy cricket gear with my Rakhi money. In return they allow me to fetch and hunt the ball from the undergrowth.

School and college bring distances and greener pastures.

I move on with my man, the love and light of my life.

All too soon, he showers me with curses, kicks and punches.

Sporting a black eye, I decline to go home for Rakhi.

I couldn’t face the boys’ howls of laughter.

They landed up to get their pound of flesh.

They whisked me back home even as he lay trussed up in a hospital bed.

***

Rakhi: An Indian annual festival wherein sisters of all ages tie a Rakhi (a decorative string) around the wrists of their brothers, while praying for his health and protection from all evil/mishaps. She in turn receives a gift from them and a promise to take the responsibility of her well-being.

 

 

SPF: Where Ever You Go

227-04-april-1st-2018

Where Ever You Go

Words 201

“Got your tickets? Your ID, your…?” I fussed.

“Relax Mom! That’s the nth time you asked me that.”

“But I didn’t see you check anything even once!” I flared up.

“I have it with me.” He patted his pocket. “It’s not going to disappear…”

“You could check it just to humor me.” I was resentful.

“Like I could not go just to humor you?”

Hurt, I stared at him. “I never told you not to go!”

“Maybe not in so many words,” he admitted, “but your dark dire predictions…”

“I didn’t mean to discourage you.” I was stiff. “I was just trying to prepare you…”

“By scaring the life out of me?”

I looked around the room. “Doesn’t look like it.” I sniffed.

“Would you have been happy if I was?”

Ashamed I shook my head.

“Aww Mom,” He put his arm around me. “Don’t worry so much. Remember how worried you were when I went to boarding school?”

“I wasn’t worried then!” I protested. “I knew what was going to happen, where you were going, what you were going to eat, but now…”

“Even now you’ll know Mom. They’ve promised to do a live telecast of our life on Mars.”

***

Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction – a story in 200 words or less. Thanks to Alistair Forbes for hosting the challenge and the photo prompt. To read the other stories inspired by this prompt, click here.

Life and Death

As I come out of my shell and explore my surroundings I can’t help but notice a unique seasonal feature around these parts. Spring and fall seem to coexist. Leaves carpet the roads and mounds of leaves dot the sides of the roads until they are carted off to their final resting place. And yet gardens are abloom with a riot of colors – pink purple yellow and magenta. The peepal tree outside my office is a case in point. It is almost bare with a few green leaves determinedly hanging on until they turn yellow and reluctantly make their way down to whence they grew to such dizzying heights. And yet whilst this tussle is on, a new unruly batch has already sprung up gung-ho and eager to make their mark in this world. I have been feeling too inhibited to click this particule tree but I did mix and match some photos in an earlier post – Peepal in Spring.

For this post I have captured a few contrasting images from the world around me. Come scroll with me…

20180331_102923Clutching at straws

20180330_101305Brilliant and defiant in death.

20180330_101433Life towers over and mocks at death – it is not for me!

20180330_101500Yet some die before their time

20180330_101451While others bloom despite all odds

20180401_081112Even when there appears to be no hope or escape

20180401_082956

Only when we accept that ups and downs, life and death will happen can we move on and live life as she deserves to be led – wholly completely, entirely and unabashedly.

Wish you all a wonderful day.

WPS: Into the Maelstrom

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Photo from Google Maps

Into the Maelstrom

Words 151

“Exams over?”

She gave an ecstatic twirl. “I am free!”

“Free?” I queried. “But what about admissions, career…”

“None of that nonsense for me,” she dismissed with her nose in the air. “I have my future all planned.”

“Let’s hear it.”

“First college for some graduation course…”

“Which course?”

“Whatever I qualify for.”

“Okay. Next?”

“Prince Charming will find me and sweep me off my feet. I will lead him to a merry dance, before agreeing to marry him.”

“Wow.”

She smiled dreamily. “A stupendous destination wedding with both Shah Rukh and Salman Khan dancing and then go abroad for our honeymoon.”

“Where abroad?”

“Anywhere! The States to do lots of shopping.” She giggled. “Visit all the famous tourist spots, go trekking, camping, just him and me.” She clasped her hands. “It will be the most romantic time ever.”

“Nice.” I said. “And then what?

“I haven’t thought further than that.”

***

Written for What Pegman Saw – a story in 150 words or less based on locations chosen from Google Maps. This week we are off to Yellowstone National Park in the US and on my bucket list. Thanks to K Rawson for hosting the challenge. To read the other stories inspired by this prompt, click here.

A Love Story in Pics

The Daily Post this week invites us to share a visual story. I am busy shifting houses (now that would tell an amazing story but that’s another story for another day 😉 but since I can’t seem to keep away from the blog world, I am re-posting one (from August 2016) which some of you may have seen. But I think it is worth a revisit. Feel free to disagree and move on! 😀

Stories and more

The other day I spotted a pair of geese:

1A GOOSE.jpg

Excited, I moved in for a closer shot:

But no matter how much I tried, the goose just wouldn’t let me click his mate. It honked and glared and pretended to be interested in the distal most piece juicy stem.

G3.jpg

Can you beat that?

The typical Indian male I supposed and walked away (or at least pretended to but the goose wasn’t that much of a goose – it wasn’t buying or budging).

Until I really walked away. That’s when I noticed:

G4

She was injured or ill and he was merely trying to keep away an opportunistic predator.

G5

Blessed to witness such a rare and precious sight.

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