A cocktail dinner at Mt. Olympus

The spotlight zoned in on my mother, after all she was Hera, wife of Zeus. And it wasn’t like mom wasn’t used to the spot light.

She stood there, a Cosmopolitan, swirling seductively in her dainty hands, nonchalantly laughing at a joke she devised out of her clever, witty little head. Her posse of similarly dressed friends, yet not as grand as my mother; laughed in sputters. Unsure whether it was a joke, and what was it that even made it funny.

I laughed loud, snorted, pretended to choke on my own bile and back slapped my mother garishly, in affectation of support at her pointless humour.

“Eris, what un-lady like behaviour is this?” She smiled sweetly at me. A smile that did not reach her eyes and promised threats of cutting me off my pocket money.

hetairae

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Isabel

“Isabel, stop staring at your reflection in the window and come back here, you vain little slut” Shouted sister Mary. Just in time for Isabel to shiver at the pure vehemence in Sister Mary’s voice, and start trudging reluctantly towards the rest of her class mates. Sister Mary was the reason twelve years old Isabel hated school. It wasn’t just the fact that the old crone, with her gnarled fingers, wrinkled face and hateful words, was always out to get her. It was also because every story that Sister Mary told, from the bible, gave Isabel nightmares.

Right from the stories of Job, where a poor God fearing man was tortured by Satan for years. Job braved it all, from loosing his children to being physically tortured. All because God had a bet with Satan, that Job would go through every imaginable torture, yet not curse his God.

“Who does that?” Isabel would think. Who does that to their disciples?tumblr_lm3uwh92hx1qkh5eko1_500

The most fearsome of Bible’s tales was the obliteration of Sodom Continue reading

Here and There

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“Sometimes, I have these questions,” her father says, looking away from the TV. He has always had questions, more so now that he’s been retired for a decade and spends most of his waking hours in front of the TV.

“What keeps everything spinning? I mean the planets, around the sun, they’ve all been spinning for millennia, haven’t they? What keeps them going? Why don’t they just fall into the sun?”

“They would, eventually, I suppose.” She’s not too sure herself.

“Isn’t it fascinating?” He turns around to look at her with an earnestness of a precocious child. He looks older than the seventy or so years he has lived. His eyes have sunk and become dark and stoic. She remembers an afternoon, over lunch, when he’d kneeled down to feed the cat when she’d noticed the first signs of a bald patch. That was years ago when she wasn’t married and had barely just got into college. It was the year when there was a hailstorm in April; the year her mother coughed blood in their tiny blue sink; the year they moved out to the city in an apartment twenty minutes away from the hospital. Continue reading

Of ghost towns and empty hearts

Laura drove her four by four, along a path that could best be described as flattened ground on a bulbous terrain, created by the constant patter of horse hoofs, ages ago. With a buoyant spurt of flora along the path, Laura realized that it was she who had revived it for her journey to Animas Fork, a ghost town in Colorado, after what must have been months or years perhaps. Her freshly aligned jeep tires effortlessly trampled every clueless growth along its path, as it made its way through the winding mountain to reach the top.

Just like its name, the approach route forked into sudden directions in an animated ballet of a mischievous elf. Driving up the path was like chasing Johnny across their massive yard that was almost always strewn with toys. You never know, where the boy might turn, when he might turn or how he might turn.

And finally when Laura would huff and puff and shout in a labored breath that she gave up. Johnny would laugh and say, “See how I tricked you, this is how a Zebra’s stripes create a zigzag illusion, Mummy!”

Laura laughed at the memory just as soon as tears trickled down her smiling face. She did not bother to wipe them away, instead she slowed down and she willed time to slow down as well, willed that lifelike memory of Johnny to stay, wished she could live in that memory a thousand years. Johnny was gone, just one instant, one moment when she had looked away, and he had run down the road chasing a kitten; one flash of a truck with the driver distracted by his buzzing phone. One life lost.

Since then Laura’s life had been all about “what if’s”. What if she hadn’t looked away? What if the kitten had decided to cross Johnny’s path a second later? What if Johnny had been distracted just enough to miss seeing the kitten? What if the driver had kept his phone on silent? What if the call had come a second later?

The “what ifs” had haunted Laura for months and they still did. What if Johnny was still alive; she would not be dead inside.

It had been eleven months and twenty-three days now, and she was finally in a condition to take up a solo assignment. It was to create a photo diary of America’s ghost towns. She had already covered Centralia in Pennsylvania; Bodie in California and now it was Animas Fork, Colorado.

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The sun had hidden itself behind the horizon of an infinite sky. Millions of stars lit up clear Colorado skies, stars that peeked through tall pine trees lining the woods in a zigzag medley, dangerously claiming the path Laura rode on.

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Cluck Cluck Cluck…

“Now where did I keep the damn stick.” I muttered to myself as I trudged along my cottage, feeling the cold damp walls for a long wooden appendage that I needed to walk.

“cluck cluck cluck.” Mathilda walked with her tiny feet beside me, smelling of grains, dirt and fresh leaves. Her matchstick thin feet made slight scraping noises as they scuffed along the old creaky wooden floor.

“Yeah, I know. I kept it beside the fireplace.” I told Mathilda. Continue reading

Hide and Seek

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September 1999

We’re crouched in a hollow by a bush. The air is abuzz with mosquitoes. My grimy ankles touch Ankur’s grimy toes. Ankur is hitting Akash. He’s an idiot.

“Shhhhh”

“What’s your problem, supandi?”

“Can you be quiet for one minute?” I whisper as loudly as I can.

Ankur is a second grader and he’s not serious enough to play with us. He ignores me completely and tightens his fist for another assault on Akash’s hand. The fist lands squarely on his arm. Even in the darkness, I can feel it redden. Ankur cannot control his laughter and I cannot stop myself from slapping him. Akash steps between us. The turbulence gives us away. We’ve lost the game.

Ankur pinches Akash again. “Why do you let me do this?” Continue reading