The stories we tell

Our lives are stories that we live. Each of us has our own reality, a story that we create of which we are the protagonists. Often, we step into each others lives, even when we are not related, even when we do not share the same social, economic or recreational spaces.

We are bonded to people of our choosing. From birth, we are given parents, siblings, relatives. As we move out socially, we choose whom to relate to, who to make part of our clique. Later, we choose our community based on religion, ethnicity, interests. It is when our paths intersect with different people that we encounter the most unexpected stories.

I have been fortunate enough to step into many such stories.

Most mornings, A. looks calm, patiently arranging his books, guided gently by his teacher. In the school, he studies in a special classroom for mentally challenged children. His classmates make a varied group in terms of age and learning disabilities. A. spends the longest part of his day with his teacher, who during school hours is his teacher and a caretaker in the after hours. His parents pick him once they are back from work in the evenings.

His face lights up when he spots me. He first checks my hands to see if I have my phone with me. And then, as on most days, he immediately asks me to take a photograph of his. He proudly poses next to the cleaning supplies and if I omit the broom in the photo, he insists on another photo in his barely articulate voice. He gestures to tell me the highlights of his day. His struggle to communicate breaks my heart, as does his gentle smile that endears him to me.

I am grateful to be sharing his world, offering a modicum of comfort in his hard life and knowing a part of his life’s story.

S. looks the peaceful, elderly lady, looking a comforting grandmother as she crosses the street, walking slowly and painfully up the stairs to her hardware store. When I pass by, I stop to talk to her. She never complains about her life which is full of hardship, having lost her son and raising her grandchildren. I hear her words of encouragement and her wisdom handed down to me with a twinkling eye. She is always ready with a smile hiding her own worries. A talk with her raises my spirits always and I draw strength from her cheer.

I daily meet the ready-with-a-smile cobbler. And then there is this garbage collector who is in and out of jobs for most days, yet his energy and cheer are infectious. I talk to the young mother selling vegetables by the roadside in a makeshift shack, whose face lights up at the hint of gossip.

The shy schoolgirl in blue ribbons and a scrubbed face half hides behind her mother as she spots me. Hurrying towards her school, she mumbles a good morning and skips her way to school.

I feel grateful that I could step into the story of the migrant labourer family who lived in a small shack behind my house. In bitter cold, they would make a fire and drag a gunny bag which held their meagre kitchen supplies. Their smiling faces made me look at my spacious house, stuffed with every material comfort and wonder whether money and prosperity really brings happiness to the hearts of people.

There are my belly-laugh girlfriends who listen to my obscure ramblings and give their honest advice, the bus conductor who gives me the correct ticket each time without me telling him anything, the temple priest who looks out for my daughter, the people who call out a greeting to my son.

The stories that I hear from them and the people I know by faces who pass me by nodding a greeting are the ones that make up the fabric of my life. At some point, our stories intersect and we learn from each other.

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Rain

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The little boy scampered through the puddles left by the rain that came on him suddenly. The tin roof of his shack by the dirt track had holes that let in the rain water. The coarse orange blanket he shared with his brother was soaking wet. He would get curses and kicks when Buddy got home from working the shift. He pulled the blanket out to spread and dry in the sun, dragging it and making it muddy.

The sky looked grey and the little boy sat outside on the edge of a large jagged stone, half buried in the dirt track. Momma had once cut her face on that, when Pa had pushed her out in a drunken rage. She was gone before long and the boys took to looking for food in the bins.

The sun was out now and it got warm. The little boy scraped the mud stains out of the blanket and flicked away the water droplets.

Word Count : 162. This is my submission for Priceless Joy’s Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers Challenge, where we are given a photo prompt and approximately 100-175 words with which to build our stories. The challenge is open to everyone who would like to participate.

Cross posted for Day 4 task of Writing 101.

Thank You All

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My thanks to all. Photo Credit: http://www.rcapsolutions.org

Thank You. Big words. Sometimes, so oft repeated that they lose their meaning and relevance. But said at the right time (or even late) and with sincerity, they can warm someone’s heart… and a few months of winter.

I am grateful to Daily Post for providing me this opportunity to express my appreciation to all those who made the good in me and my life possible.

Well then, here goes. Thank you to all the people in my life-my parents, grandparents, siblings, spouse, children,friends, colleagues, enemies, strangers, guardian angels for feeding, caring, guiding, companionship, criticism, love, appreciation, gratitude, flattery, obstacles, difficulties, lessons…

Now that the living, breathing beings have been thanked, I am sending out special thanks to my pair of wooden parrots. Diminutive and green (obviously), they sat on my study desk at the time I was completing my post graduation studies. This table was in my hostel room which meant they were gawked at by philistines all the time. I had bought them while on a pilgrimage with my parents. Hidden away in the serpentine lanes adjoining the magnificent Gurudwara were the small and impoverished workshops of the artisans, eking out a living by crafting handmade wooden toys. Oh! We fell in love with them! So, back came the parrots with me, hundreds of miles, to where I was trying to contain my dreams till the world was ready to receive me.

I christened them “Yossarian” and “Godot”. Their names wee written down on their bases. Yossarian was the name of the main character in Joseph Heller’s book “Catch-22”. He is the soldier who is perpetually trying to escape the battlefront. It is madcap fun, reading the book. It is also sometimes called a tragedy by readers. Godot was the mysterious character(?) in the play “Waiting for Godot” written by Samuel Beckett. Godot is someone everybody (rather the two characters) is waiting for fervently but he (He?) never appears.

The parrots stood for the opposing influences in life, in our worlds, both physical and emotional. Yossarian was somebody who wanted to go and Godot was someone who never came.

I was asked by a friend, whom also I should thank after all these years, about them. As I enthusiastically told their names and their significance, I was met with raised eyebrows and widened eyes (is it possible to do that the same time?). I was told that I lived in an imaginary world. People whispered about my sanity. That made me all the more determined to protect my world of books, imagined characters and stories.

Thank God for that, it made my imagination richer and I learnt to put my thoughts on paper.

Shoma Learns to Fly- A story for Children

Shoma was a fluffy white sheep in farmer Bholu’s pen. She was the fattest of the young sheep. While other sheep ran here and there when they were let out, Shoma merely waddled. Other sheep thought she was lazy and teased her.

Shoma, at last was tired of all the teasing. She wanted to do something different. As she was moving near the chicken coop, she saw the little yellow chicks trying to fly. They would flutter for a while and then settle down.

‘I would learn to fly! That would show all the other sheep how smart I am.”

This made her feel very happy. The rest of the afternoon she chewed the cud in a daze, dreaming of flying.

The next day, as the sheep were let out of the pen, Shoma went straight to the chicken coop. Now, she sat in the shade of a tree pretending to sleep. But she watched the chicks from half opened eyes. It all seemed so easy. ‘Oh, but I do not have wings!”, Shoma thought. “Well, maybe, I can use my arms”. She tried flailing her arms but felt tired after a couple of tries. The chicks and the hens saw her and spluttered with laughter. The rooster crowed loudly to scare Shoma away.

Shoma turned to go and saw a large cloud of dust a little far away. It grew bigger and came closer. It was Bumpy the sheep dog! He was rounding up all the sheep into the pen. Shoma ran for her life. In and out of fences, over the puddles, around the bushes and trees, Shoma ran. And ran.

As she reached the pen, she panted and heaved. Then she heard other sheep clapping loudly, “Whee, Shoma can run too!”

Shoma smiled and felt SO proud.