a smile forever…

The place was usual. The scene was usual most of the days. The colors, the people travelling by that road were usual. The weather was usual. The sounds, the rush was usual. But something was different. The clocked ticked as usual but someone had made time stand still. Someone who was a usual face. A usual for the place, not the people. For them he was a person that they occasionally spared a glance and sometimes a few coins. Coins that were thrown at him, not to be given but to drive him away. They flinched every time they saw him, their eyes screamed in horror, the voice was carried to his heart , their faces were not so good to conceal.

He had gotten used to their stares, he had slowly and painfully learned to lower his eyes as he begged for food. His respect had been broken to pieces the day he had first opened his fist , the way his fingers were spaced. But he felt himself lose a one of the broken pieces every time something harsh managed to pierce his heart. The way he had to every time knock a window, hoping that they would slide it down. Most of times, he faced his own reflection that stared back at him through one of the moments when he dared to lift his gaze. His sunken eyes stared back at him like a dried hollow tree that had lost hopes to blossom. If ever did the glass slid down, a coin or two did land in his palm. A few out of pity, a few genuinely understanding his hunger.

The weathers had written their own stories for him. The summer made his feet burn, the winter made him shiver hopelessly and the rains drained him to his core , sometimes his despair mingled with them too. Nobody did ever notice. He did not know if being a leper had  reduced him to a body that struggled to live by with whatever  little life he had with him or being a beggar. His leprosy had never rid him of his will to live nor had his own set of the dark moments of loneliness had. He never did mind the distance they tried to maintain, it never ripped him.

But their stares had. Their mocking had. Their flinching had. Their refusal to smile had robbed him of his ability to look up. His own bleeding limbs seemed less painful than his lost identity. He could not quite recall when he had laughed, when he had smiled willingly. He watched the sun and knew the difference that it so clearly emphasized at every sunrise and every sunset. He was the sun that would never rise again, he moved slowly towards the horizon, his time would come. He questioned the sun if there would at least be one different color for the time when he would set, for a few seconds at least, to acknowledge that he had lived.

This rushed through his mind at this present moment. He could not recognize, could not trust the new curve on his withered face, the new spark in his eyes as he stared at them. They had fed him home cooked food, quenched his thirst. They had said they watched him that noon, weak and frail. They had come to take care of him. They had come to genuinely come for him. They had sat beside him as he at, they had talked to him, they had lost their words when he had narrated his life. For the first time throughout his misery, had someone come for him. He had smiled. He did not recognize the emotion, but he felt the warmth, it made him feel good.

He watched them lift his body and carry it away. His soul floated at the horizon, smiling. The sky was a mixed shade of darkness and light. A mingle of colors, like they were not sure if they could ever move away from their embrace. And everybody noticed it. He had set in his world with a smile. That was a good end. He had his smile forever, its warmth glowed.

 

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a withered memory

She sat on the stairs waiting for her son. It was noon. The breeze blew along occasionally. The trees were as green as ever , the birds chirped as the shaded shadows danced below.

She was always fond of him. We all knew them well. As a young woman she had  trouble being pregnant. After a long wait of seven years was she blessed with a healthy baby boy. She fondly spoke about the two most loving moments in her life.The day they had known that their chances of having a baby were pretty low.She had been numb the whole day. That night her husband , before he tucked her in, had hugged her as she cried . He had made her promise that she would smile for him .he loved her too deep.he couldn’t bear see her tears. He had promised that he wouldn’t give up hope. She had learned to live but with a smile. And the day as their little son was being born , he had held her hand tight as she fought the pains.

And then as they heard his first cry, he had kissed her forehead. She could never forget the way his eyes conveyed his joy. As she first held her little baby , she felt her tears flow but she was smiling. Smiling, that all their struggle was worth that tiny life in her arms. All their pain , their struggle  , was a blurred memory as their tiny little baby opened its eyes and looked at her. Their tears of joy as he held his father’s finger with his tiny red little fist.  They had a few ups and downs, but their son was what they lived for. From his first little steps , his first word, his mischievous laugh, his cute dimple , every little moment was carved lovingly on the walls of their heart.

A few years later , her husband passed away. They had known he wasn’t going to live, his disease was brutal.They had spent the last few months of his life, being together, remembering old times,always being fond of their son. Every time she wished him good night he said that he loved her, he loved their baby ,he said she was beautiful even with all her wrinkles.He said he was proud of their son. He adored him.
She would smile and hold him till he fell asleep.

After he was gone,  her son had helped her cope with that huge hollow in her life. She had lived for him.Her soul had grown up.But she knew her baby needed her.  And she then had to deal with Alzheimer’s.

As the sun set, I took her into her room. Her son had not yet come home. I promised that I would wake her the moment he came but she had to rest. She had grown weak over the past month. Her breaths had turned shallow.
As she fell asleep, tears rolled down my cheeks. I entered my room and opened his letter. His words stung worse than anything in this world.

‘ I have sent the fees for this month. Do inform if any extra money needed.Thank you.’

His mother would never know the place she thought as her home was an old-age home.
The son she waited for everyday, the only person’s memory she had held on to , was not coming back. She could not remember that everyday she sat waiting for him to return home , everyday he did not come , everyday I promised that he would.

Her Alzheimer’s never proved to be a blessing ,never proved to be a curse.She swung in between, like a dried leaf that floats along with the air, with no particular destination, but all that was left for it was to rest  somewhere on this huge earth faraway from The tree it grew on, faraway that no one would know if it was dead or alive.

A mother had been strong for her baby but her baby was too grown up…….

the other side…

She  smiled as she watched him fuss all over their child. The little boy had been reluctant to get up so early. And even more reluctant to attend school. As she prepared breakfast , the father and son had quite a run around the house getting ready. He combed his hair, dressed him up , packed his bag. As they sat around the table , they noticed it felt empty. “Grandpa and grandma promised they would come home yesterday night.”, the little boy frowned.The couple smiled. Their child had wanted to go on the trip with them, but he wasn’t allowed to miss school.Convincing him had cost them a few ice-creams , a few horse rides and a visit to the zoo. His father then walked him down to the spot where his school bus picked him. He waved him goodbye till the bus made a turn around the corner. He walked back to their home. He had been granted a leave from work today. He had made her take a day off. She was cleaning the table as he walked in.

“Another struggle sending him off to school. Were you like that when you were a kid??”, she laughed. “No , I wasn’t . But maybe you were.” She threw a napkin at him as he laughed and dodged it. She picked up the dishes and arranged them in their proper places. He walked towards her and hugged her from behind. She blushed.”I don’t think you can use the dialogue that someone may see us, can you ?”.They both laughed. “Its been a long span of time since we have had time just for the two of us.”he said as she turned around and looked at him.”I know.” She hugged him back. They were silent for a long time , as they held each other.The morning sunlight filtered through, slowly moving towards where they stood.

“Wake up.”

“Wake up . Its almost midnight.”

She felt someone slap her face.

She woke up startled and saw the man standing in front of her.She had been dreaming again.

”  Get ready fast . You have a customer.”

The man left.  By the sounds of music , she gathered  her placed had buzzed to life.

As she closed the doors behind her, a tear rolled down her cheek, mercilessly dragging down the life she’d dream about everyday.From the day she had been dragged into this, despite the  murk that ripped her soul ,she had never given up hope . One day she would run away and live her dreams. Her dreams would someday seep down to reality. The reality of respect and love.  Her warmth and love faced hatred and lust. She wished one day she would live a life in peace. Her screams would someday find a voice.

She wiped her tears as someone knocked the door.

 

the cry…

The weekend was a day away. Anuja couldn’t wait for the day to end. It had been quite hectic. Lately, she realized, her schedule sapped too much of her energy. To top the list, her project had taken most of her free time, she felt good she got time to glance  herself in the mirror at least once.But, she also liked her work. It paid her well and hardwork always satisfied her. And today it was finally over.The report and all other fine details had been submitted and approved.She felt the warmth of a relaxed noon spread through her as she sipped coffee. Just the regular office work, a final presentation for the day and she would be off for a calm weekend. She deserved all the three days of isolation after the three months of running around.

As she walked down the stairs , it occurred that she should be treat herself with a ride. A ride to some unknown village. Her bike seemed to understand her thoughts. It looked as though it was pleased by her idea. She smiled. That was a lovely thought.Nature , serenity , the bike , the weather and herself. She Spent almost an hour in her bathtub that evening. She had already ordered her favorite dishes for dinner. She was in no mood even for the slightest effort.She packed her essentials in a small rucksack.As the heard the doorbell, her hunger roared.She felt the sudden surge of happiness.That night , she slept as though she had entered the world of peace forever and there lay her final dream to infinity.

The morning was as pleasant as it could be. She had not felt this free since a long time. The breeze blew through her hair , making her smile spread across her face. She felt like a feather that floated along the wind. The sky was a perfect shade of black and blue,tiny streaks of the lighter background filtering through. It looked like the light had blended in with the shadows. The trees on both sides of the road ; their branches spreading out towards on another like they couldn’t bear being apart. It looked like the roof of natures’ palace. They looked down at her like a mother looks at her new born baby. She felt fond. The road had only her company.   As she prepared  for a tricky turn, it felt like leaving behind another world and beyond it , starts a new world.And all of a sudden , a raindrop hit her nose hard. And then , the rain hit the ground. She drove on but it seemed more difficult with every distance as the rain thrashed. She stopped  her bike under a tree. It was at the end of a farm. A woman was already there, she had a big belly which looked like her pregnancy term was about to end.

” looks like a storm is going to visit.”, that woman spoke.”Are you travelling by this road for the first time ??”

“Yes. Just a casual visit, a trip. Do you stay nearby ??”

“Yes. Half a kilometer ahead is our village.I had come here to collect firewood.”

“Why did you come ? Couldn’t anybody else do it? I mean, it must be difficult with a baby due.”

“I have one child , but he is too small.My husband has gone to the city for some work. My in-laws are too old.So I insisted. And the doctor said I was due in a couple of weeks. Tomorrow I am going to my folks place for the baby.”

They chatted for a few minutes before Anuja noticed her face.  And all of a sudden , she screamed. As she clutched her belly, Anuja felt a cold chill run down her spine which had nothing to do with the cold around her.

The baby .

Summing her discomfort ,she realized she could not take her on her bike to the village. Nor was there any person around and that half a kilometer was impossible to be walked. Another scream brought her to her senses. Feeling helpless , she rubbed her back as she held her hand tight. She couldn’t look at her face, couldn’t hear her screams as she prayed for the rain to stop. Terrified as she was, the rain and pain seemed to worsen. She removed her jacket and scarf and tried to cover her in vain. the woman screamed like she was the thunder. She looked into her eyes and whispered “Help me”. She was gasping for breath as the rain hit harder from outside and the labour from inside.Her hand felt cold. Scarred , Anuja sobbed as she realized the woman and her baby was her responsibility.Not a single person was to be seen around.She did not know what to do.

The woman looked deep it her eyes. They pleaded her not to waste time. She positioned herself. Her hands trembled as the woman screamed and she saw the head. She felt dizzy. The lightening hit the skies above. As she touched the small little person coming out , the woman was unconscious. She looked at the little girl, in blood. She wrapped the baby in the only scarf left and her tears rolled down her cheeks like a flood. The woman was silent but she knew she was alive. And then, she suddenly realized.

The baby had not cried.A numb sensation grasped her.  The tiny body did not feel alive. She kept the baby close to her chest. Her throat felt dry. She stared at the baby girl.

Please ,she thought , please no. Please stay. Please I am scared. Please, please ,please she cried. Please live , Please do cry, please baby, please don’t scare me. Please. Please .Please.

But the baby did not cry. The baby was silent.The wind felt harsh as her hope began to fade away. She hugged the baby tight as her legs gave away, she did not have any strength. She stared at the baby’s silent face.The world had gone silent. She did not hear the the thrashing of the rain, the lightening,  the force of the wind . She felt blank.It was over. Anuja looked at the mother as she opened her eyes and turned to look at her baby.

And all of a sudden, the baby cried.

 

 

 

 

the diary.

He was a new admission in the college. Everybody around him had already settled into small groups. Shy as he was, he quietly entered the classroom and sat next to a boy, Sameer. A few days later , they couldn’t be seen apart. Everywhere they went , it was Anuj and Sameer toghether.   A short span of time and Anuj still wasn’t noticed nor did he had the courage to strike up a conversation with anybody.

Then one day, due to shuffled places, that girl was given a seat between Anuj and Sameer. She was Mrudul, the most outgoing personality of the college. He felt tensed. After they were introduced ,the three of them turned their attention back to the computer screen. Little did they know , they were going to have the best time of their lives.

“Sameer, Mrudul and Anuj, will you children ever shutup ?? “,irritated ,the teacher called out. They had gained quite a reputation for their mischief and non-stop talking. One would expect Mrudul being a girl to be the one to avoid pranks or forbid the other two from doing so, but she was always the one who most of the times came up with new ones. Anuj liked it. He liked that talkative ,fun loving nature but sometimes he wished she would shutup. But it was noticed by every single person ; the bond they shared. They had a friendship that many smiled lovingly only at the mention about it. Never could the three be seen without one another.

Though the boys were close , Anuj found himself more comfortable around her. She was easy to break the wall and open up to. But for all that anyone may care ,he had opened it for her. He knew he had feelings, he had begin to love her. And for the three of them, they would talk and talk and talk about any topic that came across their mind. With passing time, they realized they were inseparable, they couldn’t be without each other. They never had the need of words to convey their emotions to each other. But as their bond grew, so did his feelings for her. He enjoyed being with her , listening to her stories, supporting her as she came up with new plans to disrupt the normal schedule , her carefree laugh……he loved everything about her. He wished he had the courage to tell her or atleast in the name of a miracle , she might guess it , but it wasn’t supposed to be that way. One day he gathered his courage and typed a text about his love for her, prayed a hundred times and clicked ‘send’. As fate may have it, it was a broken message. An error invaded his love and she received parts of it. She texted him back, asking him to resend the message. He could not do it.

A few years more, they moved to different cities, but at every chance they could get they made sure they met each other. His feelings grew strong with time and age, they accompanied his heartrate everytime he saw her.

‘To this very day, I love her. I wish somehow I could tell her. I still feel like heaven and hell everytime I remember when as we parted she had said that she was always mine to be. Only if she knew that was how I wanted her, forever.’      Mrudul, with tears in her eyes, finished reading what was well hidden all these years. She felt lonely , his diary in her hand, listening as the others chattered in the other room. Anuj had been out for a long time to buy snacks for their get-toghether.

Suddenly , the door opened and Anuj walked in. It took him a few moments to register that it was his diary in her hands. Her tears were clear that she had read it. He froze. For the sake of their friendship , he had been silent and now she knew. He could not utter a word as he looked at her.

Her lips finally moved. “You idiot…. ” was all she managed to whisper as she choked and ran into his arms. His diary finally felt the warmth between them.