Monday, April 15, 2013

Locks First

Sarah stared at her surroundings a little apprehensively; she had never lived in a neighborhood like this before. The dry paint peeling off the walls, the smell of garbage that hadn't been picked up for what seemed like years and the lingering glances of men, all of it filled her with a sense of dread . She had to keep telling herself “I’ll be alright, I can do this”, she would just buy a few extra locks for the doors and the windows and any other place she could think of, and come home as early as it was possible for her. She entered the house quickly and looked around; finally she released that breath she had been holding in without even realizing  It had sparse furniture apart from a bed, writing table and TV box, the room was too small to hold much more but this was home now.
She was 21 and she had decided it was time to move out of her parents’ house and make a person out of herself. She couldn't explain it but she only felt like half a person all this time. She wasn't the most adventurous of people and had up till this moment always lived a very sheltered life with her parents, going to private schools, even during college she had opted to live with her parents since she hadn't found any real reason to move out. She even seemed to have always had a few close friends and never really had to interact a lot with people she didn't know too well or out of her way. She had liked her life but she had felt that of all adventures, life itself was the greatest and she had to go out there to live it, live it fully with her own mistakes, her own regrets and problems. When she got the internship offer as a junior feature writer for the local newspaper she had taken it without consulting anyone. She had also gone and found herself a tiny studio apartment close to the office. When she finally broke the news to her parents, they had been quite upset with her but had respected her wishes. They worried about her but understood her reasons.
Now staring at the hell-hole she called home, she realized that there was no food there; she needed to first buy cooking material before locks. No, she needed to learn to cook first. She sighed in frustration wondering if she had maybe jumped into all this a little too soon. Again the mantra rang in her head “I’ll be alright, I can do this”. It had all happened so suddenly she hadn't got a chance to buy all the essentials, she would go with mum next week. As she stepped out her mind again registered, “locks first”.
            She entered the nearby cafe and ordered a small burger meal with a strong hot coffee. She was sitting on the counter and waiting for her meal to arrive, when he entered. He was one the best looking male specimens she had ever seen. She could hardly believe her eyes. Who would believe that she would come across someone like him in a place like this? Then her eyes subtly, or so she thought, roved over his figure, torn jeans, faded shirt, broad shoulders, a slightly tired, irritable look on his face, maybe it wasn't so surprising, he looked more in tune with the atmosphere of the place than she did. She wanted to speak to him, say something, anything, but she had no experience in this kind of thing, so she was unable to make a sound. She turned back to the newspaper in her hand with a slightly defeated feeling inside her. She was startled when a voice said asked her if she was holding the today’s newspaper. She turned to see him, sitting next to her on the counter, she liked his voice, it was rich and calm. Actually she had to admit even if he had sounded like a whiney teenager she would have liked it. She nodded slightly and handed him the paper. He read in silence for the next ten minutes or so and she stared at him from the corner of her eyes hoping that she was being subtle. When he spoke again her food had come. He just looked at the paper and seemed to be saying to no one in particular, “I don’t know whether or not to believe half of the news printed these days”. She found her opening and responded “no, it’s not like that, I work for this paper, I’m sure everything written is well researched”. She sounded like petulant child, he was amused and he asked her how long she’s been working for the paper, when she squeaked out “one week”, he looked smug and thus began a short argument about the merits and believability of the newspaper that soon led to a more spirited discussion about the morals and fickleness of people in general. She felt invigorated. When she left the place, they didn't exchange numbers but she hoped she would see him again. Suddenly the world didn't seem like such a scary place anymore. She had a silly grin on her face all the way back home.

By Radha Agarwal

Monday, April 1, 2013

Let Go

Let go,
Let go of the old loves that never happened,
Let go of the promises that the new love will never fulfill.
Let go of the witch’s curse and snarky words that you never got to say.
Let go of friendships that don’t feel the same even though you haven’t changed and neither have they.
Let go,
Let go of dreams that never came true,
Let go of beautiful places that you never got to see.
Let go of stories that you never got to say.
Let go of kindness that never got returned.
Let go,
Let go of words almost forgotten and falling flowers that will never come back.
Let go of stories only half-finished and an imagination that won’t fill in the gaps.
Let go of thoughts that never got formed.
Let go of frustrations that make you guilty and are not really there.
Let go,
Let go of children’s tales and tales you thought might be yours.
Let go of the person you used to be.
Let go of the person you thought you might be.
Let go of everything that isn't the future.
Let go,
Because they may come to pass yet again,
Because worry won’t bring you closer to it,
Because while you can still taste it on your tongue you can’t move on, just yet.
Because, letting go might be just what you need.
Just let it go.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Jack and Jill

Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water,
Jack fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after!

It’s the song my mother sings to me every morning. I don’t like it much; it gave me an eerie feeling. I used to joke that she needs to update her song list. She just smiled and replied “it’s a special song; it reminds me of my greatest victory.”
Grandmother has been living with us for the past few weeks, I asked her about mother’s obsession with the rhyme, it seemed to distress grandma, and she said she wasn’t sure, mother had been singing it since she was a child.

A few days later I was watching a movie based on the tragic separation of twins- a brother and sister, the beginning was quite happy but I saw my grandma’s eyes widen at the screen and leave quietly. I followed her out and asked her about what had happened. She looked at me and seemed to make up her mind about something, “I’m assuming your mother has never told you about your Uncle Sam?” I shook my head in surprise. “He is, or rather he was your mother’s twin, he passed away in an accident when they were just twelve years old” I wanted to know everything about him and she also must have wanted to talk about him because for the next one hour she spoke about her beloved lost son. He and my mother had been very close; she was very protective of him. He was at his happiest at the time, he was going to boarding school, his life was just beginning but then the accident happened. I couldn’t get Grandma to talk about his death; I guess it was too painful.
I couldn’t help but wonder why mother had never told me about him. I finally asked her one night, she looked shaken; she simply got up and walked off. I think I heard her have an argument with Grandma later that night. I was hurt. What about this did she feel she needed to keep a secret from me? Mother and I were always close but after father’s death five years ago she has become my best friend. She was my greatest confidante so why did I suddenly feel like she was hiding things from me?
I am leaving for University in a few days; I think this is why grandma has come to live with us. I’m so grateful to her. I used to worry about how mother would get by without me. She is so protective of me, she worries all day long, and I don’t think she’s very comfortable with the idea of me leaving. I know grandma will help mother adjust to our new situation. Last night mother and I started bridging all these gaps that had appeared in our relationship. We went to our favourite Mexican restaurant and over quesadillas and nachos mother finally opened up to me about everything. She was scared I was leaving but she had accepted it. She told me that I will never ever leave her heart, just like Uncle Sam never has.  He used to love to hear her sing, just like me! She sings for him every day, maybe she would sing for me too! I couldn’t help but thinking that my mother is the best!
Tomorrow my life beings anew, University, new classes and friends I can barely contain my excitement. Grandma has gone to my aunt’s house and tonight, one last time, I’m alone with mother. She’s singing “Jack and Jill…” again.
“Mama, what is this victory you always talk about?”
“Oh! I sing this song for your Uncle Sam”
She has been talking more and more about him these days, maybe she is finally being able to think of him with some happiness.
“Was the victory you won…something over Uncle Sam?”
“Yes it was, and now he can never leave my side and this song has everything to do with it!”
I’m getting excited “What song will you sing for me when I go away?”
“Ring around the roses, pocketful of poses, ashes ashes we all fall down, Baby you loved playing to this rhyme when you were young. You will always be a baby for me. I will never let you leave me, my thoughts I mean”.
I beam at her; no one will love me like my mother does.
“Come Baby, put your head in my lap, and let me put you to sleep, one last time.”
I go gladly, and as she fusses over me and tucks me in, I can’t help but stare at her. I remember dad’s words- her heart is as big as her. He loved teasing her about her big frame. I’ve always thought she loves with all her heart. I can feel her love tonight!
She’s singing “Ring around the roses” to me, I’m drifting to sleep, I don’t even realise when her hands creep onto my neck and start pressing too hard. I struggle. My eyes are imploring her to stop. “Baby I can’t let you leave me. You will be at peace after this; just like your Uncle Sam was, after I pushed him down the hill. We would not have been able to bear being apart, this way he never had to go to that horrid boarding school, don’t you see? Even you needn't go to college. You can stay with mama forever”.

By Radha Agarwal