The Window and the Great White Bird

I looked through the shimmering glass window. I saw her ornate writing desk, half opened like someone had gone through it looking for something. A lot of things I remembered placing there were missing. A few journals, I think. There were a few loose sheafs of paper. I recognised her handwriting. Those were my words, in a different time. The Sun was setting in the distance, I looked to my right side. The bed so perfectly made. Mine. But it wouldn’t be slept in, it had not been. For a long time. Briefly I considered just that. I sat there and soaked in the room. My one and only chance to see it. This wasn’t my time. I had to go back after all.
I closed my eyes. I remembered. She walked around, she seemed restless. She had never been more alone, but she had also never felt more free as she looked at the elephant that seemed to have materialised before her. The elephant didn’t seem afraid of her, she felt calm looking at it. She walked towards it. It sat down, so did she. She stroked it gently. Murmured words of comfort, and also relaying her predicament. How strange, she thought… That a creature she had only encountered a while ago should make her feel so safe, as though everything was going to be just fine. She sat down, her back resting against the elephant and closed her eyes. And waited. I felt the hours pass by. I knew what was coming. Sure enough, there appeared a white bird in the sky, the wings flapping majestically. The bird rose up towards the Sun, as though to devour it. There was a great explosion of light, like a canopy of shimmering fragments of diamonds enveloping the entire forest they were in. She rose, she was free.
She had arrived at the beach. She watched as the waters lapped at her feet gently, an ever present cool breeze playing with her curls, casting them about hither and thither. She opened her arms wide and received all of it, smiling serenely.
It was at once, the most peaceful and the most heartbreaking thing I had ever seen. I wanted to see no more, I opened my eyes. My eyes flooded with joy and envy, I know not if those tears running down my cheeks were mine or hers. It does not matter.

Here I am. Once again. Till the great white bird comes, I bid you all adieu!

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Free Writing – piece 2

This was the second exercise we undertook in the writing workshop I have mentioned in my previous blog post titled “Free Writing – piece 1”. The rules remained the same for this exercise, however the interesting part this time around was that Rohini pulled out a slender, wooden box which contained a few decks of tarot cards. We were each asked to select a card, focus on a card and write a story based on that image. The one I drew was the Death card from the Rider Waite deck.

Since I have dabbled in tarot, I felt the need to inform her that I knew what the symbols meant and that an element of bias might possibly creep in. Having said that, off we wrote. The timer was set for ten minutes. Here is what I wrote:

The buildings were burning. A heavy layer of soot and smog engulfed the place. He felt a distinct sense of unease. Death had definitely visited his village, and taken many with Him. If he listened carefully, he could hear the heart breaking wails of many people trapped beneath the ruins. His heart clenched painfully, his eyes teared up but he resolutely moved forward. He ran like he never had. His boots made a dramatic crunching sound, when juxtaposed with the eerie silence all around. He stumbled over bodies of friends and people he knew, but never paused.

There, House no. 43! He had finally reached his destination. All the memories of his childhood came back to him, flooding his senses with nostalgia as he walked through the house. He looked at the charred bodies. Father. Mother. Sister. Wife. Every single one of them was lost to him. He heard a faint wail. Could it be? He headed straight for the crib where lay his boy. His boy looked at him and began crying loudly. Bless the boy, what a pair of lungs he had on him! His boy, as if symbolic of the journey that lay ahead had his face darkened by ash and soot, but remained unharmed. He picked up the child carefully and walked out, feeling a bit more lighter and hopeful than when he first set​ foot in the village.

The rays of the Sun had began to break out in the distance, enveloping he village in a sort of unearthly brightness that seemed to him, more sinister than optimistic. He reassuringly pressed his son to his chest, and kissed the top of his head.

Prayer

Seasons have gone by

One after the other

Love has ebbed, and Love has soared

Looks like it is fading

Soon, it shall be gone for evermore.

 

See those smiles turning upside down,

Young faces set in grimace and frown

We see before us, what is to come

Our bright eyes turning hooded and grey

Our joie de vivre lost among Life’s fray

 

The sins of the father dance gravely upon our heads

Toiling tirelessly, gracelessly as silent tears are shed

We hope for respite and seem to find none

Wherefore are we headed?

Oh Lord, what have we done?

 

Our silent screams are finally heard,

By the Merciful Overlord

Hope is futile, so is Denial

Hush now! Time’s up!

He’ll lay you gently upon his breast,

He will rock you softly to Eternal Rest.

 

By:

MVK.

 

Passage into Adulthood, or My Journey of Life

Childhood.

Who can forget those days? The red frock and matching bag and shoes which I wore on my first day in kindergarten, those tears running down and tiny fingers latched on to my mother’s hand so she would not be able to leave me and go. Then the teacher, a Mrs. K, a benevolent lady with a mellifluous voice gently loosening my grip on my mother’s hand and taking me inside with the promise of lots of new friends, fun and chocolates. I watched sadly as my mom waved to me, calling out to enjoy myself and not to worry about anything. It is true that I do not vividly remember the happenings of that day but I remember till date that it had been a very fun filled day and that was when I met my first friend. I went back home happily with lots of stories to tell my folks at home about my new friends and how I was looking forward to going back the next day. My parents were obviously relieved at my having gotten adjusted quite nicely to my new environment. Kindergarten for the rest of the time passed quite eventfully, learning as well as having fun. My only tension was what I would get to carry for lunch the next day. Life was so carefree.
Then came the next step, the school interview which is etched in my memory because it was such a special day and I met one of the kindest yet firm and dynamic visionary teachers I have ever met. My headmistress Mrs. J, the typical stern looking face that looked down at kids through scary (I though so then!) glasses. But when she smiled, she was a different lady altogether. Soon, we came to know she was a woman who coddled us as much as she expected discipline from us. In fact she was the one who discovered my penchant for creative writing and inspired me to win several competitions. Soon, I became her pet student because (I am not boasting here!!!) I was pretty good at academics, music, creative writing and karate even. Although school was also fun, life changed quite a bit. All of a sudden we were saddled with something called “homework” failing which, every single day the consequences were bound to be quite ugly. Nails had to be snipped perfectly, every hair in place and we were never to forget our badges. (Psst…there has been many an occasion when I forgot my badge). Even that passed rapidly owing to some really memorable teachers who made learning a fun thing.

Adolescence.

I was now in middle school. Environmental Studies (EVS) was now divided into three chunks- Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Social Studies was divided into History & Civics and Geography.

Middle school and high school too passed fairly uneventfully what with homework and record- writing being my primary concern, leaving me with almost nil time for play and enjoyment. As a result, with a heavy heart I dropped music classes but continued to sing for the school music team anyway. Here I must thank Mr. S for not only giving me unofficial musical training but also teaching me lessons in humility and simplicity. His simple way of dressing and living despite his numerous achievements was something I strived to emulate and still hold close to my heart.

All I remember about ninth and tenth is the immense pressure from teachers, parents, relatives to compete with my peers and “beat” them at every exam. The only thing that comes to my mind is studying, studying and more studying. Pulling off all-nighters before the geography and physics exams. Plodding my way through a labyrinth of multiple theorems, formulae, incomprehensible archaic Kannada poetry, geographical statistics and practicing diagrams for biology, night after night. High School passed in a blur and soon, I came to college.

College! That wonderful place I had been wanting to attend ever since I was in school and had seen my cousin doing so. The freedom from the ole’ white-and-blue, no more ties and black ribbons, neither badges nor restrictions. I was simply thrilled at the prospect of attending the same college which my old school gang had joined. We would not be separated. My happiness knew no bounds.

College was one place where I learnt much more than just accountancy, mathematics, statistics and business studies. My equation with some of my old friends changed as I found new ones who despite not fitting into the old mould became very close to me. Despite being allowed to wear the dress of our choice, I realized that there were restrictions, even if they were practically invisible. Freedom brought with it responsibilities too.

Adulthood.

I have always believed firmly that it is not age that matures people but difficulties and disillusionments. All through my life, I had been this happy go lucky child who got everything she wished for and maybe even more. This illusion broke fairly quickly when I became an adult. An adult, at least by the legal requirements of my country. My irrepressible self sobered down when the bubble popped, just when I had believed that my life was absolutely perfect. Just when I thought that I was so utterly lovable that nobody could possibly walk out on me, someone I had considered very close to my heart just turned his back on me and walked out of my life…just like that…forever. Although I have spent many sleepless nights wondering about the reason behind such a rash decision and also how to get my friend back, I must now actually thank him for teaching me the greatest lesson I had yet to learn. A dose of realism into my life and that life was never perfect. Not for long, at least.

This incident and a few more disillusionments led me to appreciate my true friendships and also the value of those things which I had, but had never quite understood the significance of, until I almost lost them. These trying times strengthened me as a person and changed me a lot. Earlier I might have offered perfunctory prayers but since then, my faith and belief have gotten stronger.

These are not the only transformations that adulthood has brought with it. The rosy glasses shattered, now I can view the world more objectively. I scoff now at the awe and admiration that I held for a teacher in my high school who with her fiery speeches was very provocative. I recognize it now for what it was, misdirecting zeal and aggression, twisting of facts to make things appear more romantic to our adolescent minds; something which my adolescent mind could not figure out then. Adolescent minds are quite pliable and impressionable. The lessons taught then and those occurrences, we carry throughout life. I have not been too impacted by her fiery speeches although thanks to her, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose will always remain my favourite freedom fighter. Now, I realize that the docile petite teacher whom we believed to be quite tame and therefore too sweet to be interesting, could be just the one to effectively tackle any crisis competently with her unique blend of gentleness and assertiveness. Mrs. G, your commentary on Shakespeare and the words of wisdom you told to me when you caught me reading a Perry Mason novel in your class, I will never forget. I can never get over my surprise when you spoke at length to me about that book and suggested few other novels, but adding with a smile “However not in my class”. It was also to this very same teacher, that I remember telling that I wanted to do law after tenth standard. Law, then was a very unconventional career choice to follow. She looked at me for the longest time and just when I feared she might comment and embarrass me, she asked me why I wanted to pursue law. To be honest, I had no other answer with me apart from the fact that I felt like Law was my calling. She simply nodded understandingly and smiled that all knowing smile of hers. She was something of a female Dumbledore in my eyes, just as powerfully impacting her students’ lives. I know one thing for sure, wherever she is, we, the ones who were fortunate to be taught by her will never forget her knowledge of the subject, her kindness, quirky sense of humour, soothing manner of speech and the impish manner in which she would trick us into debates opposite each other such as the Lady or the tiger one, the answer to which I still ponder sometimes.

Having thus stepped into adulthood, I hope I will be able to blend the lessons from my adolescence with the carefree optimism of my childhood and forge ahead to create a successful and satisfying life for myself.