The Enchanting Light -Flash Fiction- Part 8

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The following work of Flash Fiction is in collaboration with my fellow blogger friend Jithin of Photrablogger. The picture above is his creative photography which inspired this series of fiction writing. Do check out his blog to read about his adventures while travelling and some lovely photographs.

Character List

Rebecca: Protagonist (Main Character)

Samantha: Rebecca’s mother

David Lyngdoh: Samantha’s husband and Rebecca’s father

Joe: Samantha’s childhood friend

Eda: Joe’s daughter and Rebecca’s friend

Kavin: An elderly widower who works as a supervisor in the monastery

Liam A. Viratre: Rebecca’s husband

Luna: Liam’s evil lover

Dalai Lama: The Spiritual ruler and highest priest of the Tibetan Buddhists

Anna: Chief matron at the mental asylum

Dr. Hannock: Junior doctor at the mental asylum (new character)

Part 1 by Soul and Spirit

Part 2 by Ruth

Part 3 by Saya D

Part 4 by Sweety

Part 5 by James

Part 6 by Fiction Limbo

Part 7 by Wandering Story Teller

You are now reading Part 8 of The Enchanting Light. To enjoy my story better, you need to read the parts that came before..

The rain started with huge droplets that soon turned into a torrent. The evening deepened and it was dark near the bushes Dr. Hannock usually parked his car. The trees swayed in the wind as every other sound drowned out. The mental asylum was soon a shrieking, quivering mass of dark shadows.

“Typical weather”, muttered Dr. Hannock as he pulled the hood of his raincoat lower and walked briskly around to the driver’s side of the car. He just pulled open the door and got in, making puddles on his seat. There was no need to lock cars or for that matter anything else in this god forsaken place. The engine sprang to life and the headlights could barely illuminate the road ahead but Dr. Hannock knew every curve, every bend, every bush and tree on the road to the asylum dormitory. He had to make the rounds twice daily- from his living quarters in the asylum premises to the dormitory.

As the car braked to a stop, Dr. Hannock pulled out a polaroid camera from the back seat and placed it deep in the recesses of his raincoat. It was a good day to be photographing the ghosts. Slamming the door of the car, he bounded up the steps of the dormitory. Anna, the matron at the mental asylum looked up anxiously. Her wrinkled face showed a nervousness she felt on days like this-when everything turned spooky and unreal. The rain battered down relentlessly on the arches and spires of the Victorian era building turned into an institution for the mentally ill.

Anna had been with the asylum for nearly eight years now. Much longer than Dr. Hannock, who had come in only 8 months earlier. 8 months! she repeated bitterly to herself as she reluctantly got up to escort him to his patient, Rebecca, the petite, pretty woman diagnosed with schizophrenia. When Rebecca was brought in nearly three years ago, she was fragile, ready to go to pieces at the slightest mental trauma. Although as per policy, Anna was supposed to keep her distance and treat the case professionally, yet she developed a maternal attitude towards Rebecca.

Anna worried for Rebecca constantly because of her frequent and vivid hallucinations which grew in intensity over a period of time. Anna began to feel emotionally drained because of her helplessness. Then Dr. Hannock was assigned to Rebecca’s case. A junior doctor, he nevertheless made astonishing progress and Rebecca improved. Her hallucinations subsided. Her health improved and she seemed much stable over a period of just a few months. Anna was thankful and envious…

Both Anna and Dr. Hannock walked in smiling in Rebecca’s high-ceilinged room. The spaciousness lengthened the shadows for the room was seldom well-lit. “Budget cuts”, rued Anna. Rebecca was staring out of the window, looking at… nothing but the rain. Dr. Hannock took out his polaroid and placed it on the table. He whispered a few soothing words to Rebecca to bring her out of her reverie. In spite of that, Rebecca started and turned her reddened eyes towards Anna.

“Anna, tonight is the time I must talk to them, confront them”, said Rebecca in a heavy voice.

“Who do you mean, Rebecca?”, asked a startled Anna. “Them, out there”, said Rebecca wearily. “Liam, my beloved. Luna, my hateful enemy who seduced Liam away from me. My friends, Joe and Eda, who tried to murder me, to take me away from my journey where I wanted to make the golden locket whole again. To free Liam from the curse…to save my mother from the evil travellers from the planet of Pandora.” Rebecca convulsively placed her fingers around her wrist and twisted them, as if holding a bracelet.

Anna darted anxious glances from Rebecca to Dr.Hannock and back again. Why was the doctor not doing anything to calm down Rebecca? Instead, he was fiddling with his Polaroid, taking pictures of the darkened window!! No, it was not just the window but what was beyond it. As the photos developed in front of her eyes, Anna discerned irregular shapes. Shadowy forms! She could not see anything with her naked eyes!

Rebecca traced one shape fondly with her fingers. “Liam”, she moaned. Dr. Hannock put his hand on Anna’s shoulder.”We need your help”, he said hoarsely.

” Are you feeding her hallucinations?”, Anna almost shrieked. “Have you been telling her that all that is in her head, all her visions are true?”

“Yes, because it is a truth beyond the timelines we know and the boundaries of life and spirits as we understand.” Ignoring the look of horror on Anna’s face, he continued. “When I first came here, I treated Rebecca as any other schizophrenia patient. Then I realised that what she remembered may not make sense to you or me trained in modern medicine but to somebody who believed in past lives. As it is, I trained in past life regression before I came to this mental asylum. My mother remembered a lot from her past life and was branded mentally ill. I vowed to become a doctor to cure her. But what I found was that there were many things that could only be explained through delving into the patient’s mind and believing her version. Anyway, I have tried past life regression with Rebecca and it works. What she talks about is not a figment of her imagination or the ramblings of a diseased mind. She has lived through all these life incidences.”

“She remembers the people whom she encountered in her previous life and on an unfinished mission. And more so, because they are a part of her present life as well. She is an extraordinarily sensitive soul and she was thwarted in her mission. So she would live the cycle of those events till they are resolved.”

As Dr. Hannock spoke, Anna looked at Rebecca to see her get out of her bed and towards the window. The sky was lightening. Incredibly, it was still night. Yet the light glowed brightly and Rebecca walked towards it as if in a trace.

Would Rebecca be able to reconcile her past and present lives? Would she succeed in her mission of saving Liam and defeating the evil travellers from the planet of Pandora?

Read the next part by Stardust Elephant

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What came before…

I silently passed the much creased and almost torn sheet of paper to my sister. She opened it, with a questioning glance at my face. As she read the fading scribbles, an incredulous look took over.

“You managed to hold on to this for so long?”

“Isn’t it a good thing I did? It does bring back memories”, I said.

“Ah, 18 years”, she breathed.

She looked around for her absent cup of tea. Having faced our respective mid life crises; we now needed the crutch of a beverage to get a conversation going. Where did all the spontaneity and excitement go?

I flattened out the paper with my palm. And ended up in tearing it a little bit more. “Read it aloud”, she said.

I gave a wan smile and started.

“Our List of Resolutions made in January 1996″, I said.

” Learn Driving.
Lose weight
Improve English speaking skills
Be more patient with our younger sister
Help mom more
Clarify career goals
Clear out unnecessary papers from drawers.
Revamp wardrobe.

Our smiles broadened as we moved down the list.

” You know, 90% of these things are still on my resolution list. They have only been modified a bit. In some cases, they have been toned down, taking in view the practicality of things. In other cases, the scope has expanded. But the list remains the same”, my sister exclaimed.

“I have stopped making resolutions”, I said. But inside I wondered if that were the solution. I looked around for my art journal and doodled to get a clearer head.

I thought back to how my perception of things had changed over time.

I now value memories and experiences over things. Revamping wardrobe may still be done but not on war foot. We may not go armed with our month’s savings to bargain hunt for cool clothes. I would much rather take a day trip to a nearby place with friends or my children. In experience vs things, experience wins hands down.

A few years ago, my goals and dreams were paramount. Needs and desires are still important. Perhaps in some ways even more so. I now tend to put others needs before mine. That was unthinkable a few years back. At times, even I am out of touch with my deepest desires. This should change, for a happier me would spread more cheer.

I cherish moments more. I am aware of being mortal, like the rest of humanity. This also makes me realistic. I know what is important in this shorter life span.

I have learnt that the only one I can count on is me. I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by extremely supportive people but I know that the first and the final push has to be mine. I have to take initiative and I have to muster the momentum, for only I know truly about the journey I am on.

I understand that lucky are those who are prepared. Vision, preparation and hard work makes you lucky, not the alignment of your stars.

I recognise the wisdom that age brings. Many years ago, I stubbornly refused to listen to those older to me. I was determined to strike out on my path, alone and undeterred. I know now to look at other’s lives and listen to words so as to predict accurately outcomes of certain actions. There are some immutable laws of the universe that can be uncovered through observation alone.

And most importantly, the thing that is holding you back is usually, rather always in your head.

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As for my resolutions this year, I might still put many of those things on my list again. But my attitude to attaining it all has changed, just like my priorities.

Celebratory Chop Suey

For the past couple of days I have been checking my WordPress stats eagerly the first thing in the morning. This is to help decide what to eat during the day. Confused?

I decided a month back that the day I get 100 followers on my blog, I would celebrate- by treating myself to some Chop Suey. Somehow I was getting a craving for the sweet and tangy taste. I had also decided to do a different post once the magic number showed up. (I did celebrate 500 likes a few days back). So, why not make Chop Suey from scratch and write a post about it? It would be a far cry from what I normally write about and frankly reading a lot about making pies and chocolates and soups is making me itch to turn out a great dish and a great post.

I did a vegetarian version of the American Chop Suey because these days I have given up eating meat, chicken, fish… So I looked in the refrigerator to get together the vegetables available. Hmm.. onions of course from the vegetable basket and carrots, capsicum and cauliflower (yes, cauliflower and not the traditionally used cabbage which my family does not like anyway) from the fridge.

The vegetables got chopped into thin slices and juliennes.

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Sliced Vegetables

I crispy fried the vegetables, starting with onions and adding other vegetables later on. This was done for a few minutes till I felt they were done. I seasoned these with some salt, black pepper and a couple of pinches of sugar. No, I did not use MSG because I figured out this was American, not a Chinese dish (actually, I just did not have any ajinomoto).

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Crispy Fried Vegetables

Then, the noodles. I happened to have only the instant variety of noodles. OK, OK, I know I should have planned the 100 follower celebration better… So, the noodles got boiled and drained and kept aside. Do not peer too closely otherwise your spectacles would get steamy. I then took about 1/3 of them and deep fried them in oil. So far, so good.

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Noodles-boiled and drained

After that, I raided the kitchen cabinet to see how many (or maybe all) ingredients I had to make the sauce. Tomato Ketchup, check. Soya sauce, check. Vinegar, check. And great, I found some corn flour too! This should make some tasty sauce. I mixed all the things in a pan and brought them to a boil and let them simmer. To thicken the sauce, I put in a little of the cornflour mixed in cold water to the simmering mixture and stirred rapidly. I also added salt, red chilli flakes and a tsp of sugar. I let it sit on the fire till the sauce thickened to my taste. I tried taking a picture here but the steaming sauce fogged up the camera lens!

Everything seemed to be going good. Serving the finished dish meant I put the noodles in a shallow dish, topped with the vegetables and poured the sauce over. A sprinkle of the crispy fried noodles and I was ready to celebrate!

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Celebratory Dish- American Vegetable Chop Suey

No Coffee=Groggy

Coffee drinkers, unite!

Unfortunately, I cannot heed that call for I have given up drinking coffee. A hard core drinker (of coffee, what else?), I embarked on this journey eight years ago when I had my first child. All through pregnancy and breastfeeding, I was exhorted to drink milk. I could not tolerate much of the white stuff so I mixed it up with a little bit of the brown powder (the instant variety). I still drink coffee that way. All milk. The purists would snort at me but once an addict, always an addict.

I read an interesting post from an eminent blogger a couple of months back. He is eminent because he speaks of lofty ideals, dedication to community service, higher goals and subjects worthy of an encyclopedia. Sandwiched between all this, I found his reminiscences when he ran out of coffee filters. The agony! He ended up using the paper napkins.

Am I similarly distraught? Yes, for I realised I had run out of coffee and it was not possible to get more of the stuff as it was snowing. For a few minutes, I lost myself in the soft flakes drifting down gently. I watched as they settled on the leaves, the railings, my clothesline. The white stuff was exhilarating. Forgiving it for disrupting my daily routine, I brewed myself some tulsi ginger tea.

This tea is healthy. Full of antioxidants. Combines the goodness of the herb tulsi and the ginger root. It is expensive (hence, not meant for philistines). It warms my insides. It looks like mud mixed in water and tastes like grass (a bovine likes it very much, so this is what I surmised).

It snowed the entire day. The car is surrounded by snow. The streets are full of the icy stuff. The phone does not work to call the home delivery guy. After the fourth cup of the abomination tea, I decide to make a virtue out of a necessity. I have given up drinking the numerous cups of coffee. For some days, at least. How many? Oh! I am too grumpy to decide.

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Is that coffee or tulsi ginger tea?

Twinkle

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The Twinkle of evening lights, lamps and crackers

This a photograph I took on Diwali- the Indian Festival of Lights.

Three different kinds of twinkle can be seen in the picture. In the background is the twinkle of lights from the houses on the hill slopes. There are my ‘divas’- traditional earthern lamps in the balcony and on the floor is the light seen from ‘chakri’-one of the crackers burst by children and adults alike on this day.

Posted in response to the Weekly Photo Challenge.