Saturday, 16 July 2011

Variations - A Short Story

Gingy was a nice chap. He was happy and easy going. People knew him for his smile, which was rather permanent, carved out with a small peppermint stick. Some people did not like him, because he was brown, and that did not upset him. He still smiled, as he always did. He loved everybody except one, Santa Claus. Because Santa ate his wife Suzy, some three years back. His parents, Mrs. & Mr. Travis died in their own bakery fire, days after his wife was untimely eaten. Muffy was the only one he can call family. Gingy, as everyone called him, was not his real name. He was born Gingerbread Man, in the Travis bakery by Mrs. & Mr. Travis as an experiment. When he came out of the oven, Mrs. Travis fell in love with him, and brought him up like her son. His elder brother, Muffy, the Muffin Man did not like him at first, for the same reason as others. He was brown. He thought he did not belong to them; he should have born to a Hawaiian or Brazilian Family. Soon after because of his happy nature and that permanent smile, he too fell in love with him. Now Gingy was the most loved kid in the family. He was the most loved not just in the family, but also in the community.

That morning was like any other; sun came up bright, birds chirruping, people going for their morning rituals as usual. The Lincoln Street in Houston came alive as it does every morning. Gingy too was busy managing the bakery, selling breads, cakes, muffins, chocolates and what not. The pace of life here is just a little bit calmer and closer to nature. Muffy was angry with Gingy over last night’s bread issue and had gone to take a walk along the Panamera beach. The beach was not far from their bakery-home so Gingy did not mind. Ting! The bell hanging over the entrance of the bakery tinged as the first customer, Mr. Samuels of the news business entered. He asked for two loafs of bread and butter, which Gingy handed him smiling. Mr. Samuels asked him to switch on the radio to get the brief of the morning news.
“The waves are gigantic. Navy officials are clearing the coastal area. Met Department has advised people to stay away from beaches and other coastal regions”.
“Oh my god!” Cried Gingy.
“What happened?”
“Muffy has gone to the beach. We had a tiff last night. What should I do now?”
“The beach isn’t far. We still can go and find him. Let’s Go”.

They took his jeep to find Muffy. The seashore breeze had turned into a little sand storm.
There was no sign of Muffy.
“Muffy, Muffy”!  He shouted, almost crying.
Just then, a drop of water fell on his cheek. He looked above, and another drop fell into his eye. And another drop, and another, in a moment it started raining heavily. The hands of Mr. Samuels were slipping over the steering. He slowed down and turned.
“Let us go back and check with the police. There’s no one here and he might have gone too”. Gingy nodded.
Just as when they were, crossing the jog-path a roar pierced their eardrums. A gigantic tide was approaching them. They were dumbstruck. In a moment, the wave was behind them. The jeep was not moving. Millions of gallons of water hit them from behind.
It was the Tsunami.
They felt that in them. In fact, now they were inside that infinite volume of seawater. They were moving with the jeep towards the city with an enormous speed. Only thing was, the water was with them, or they were with that water, so as millions of other things. Trees, cars, huts, anything and everything washed away with tsunami.

It was hard to recognize that beauty amid that wreckage and destruction watching the aftermath. The sight of inter-city trains flung like toys testifies the force of that monstrous wall of water that hit them. The Tsunami hit the whole of Texas, and Houston was one of the hardest hit that fateful afternoon of early summers.  Muffy was walking along the lane of his bakery when waves splashed him across the street. His right arm hit the pole and was lost. In a moment, so was he amidst that swelled sea. Their bakery was underwater, the civic-center was underwater, and Houston was underwater. People were scared. They ran. Then they had to swim. They were taken down by it without an option,.

A week later Gingy got the news of Muffy’s Death. He was not surprised. The news only confirmed his death. Mr. Samuels was lost; the list prepared by the rescue team said that. Gingy too, was lost, inside himself. His eyes were crying, but still he was smiling. Sadness and hope entwine as the people of Houston mourn their loved ones. Gingy was still smiling. The Gingerbread Man was still smiling. His permanent lips had only one shape, Smile.
                        “My store house burnt down;
                         There is nothing to obstruct
                         The Moon view”.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

18 and Married

Neeti was 18 now. Every elder in her family got married before this age. It wasn’t like that her family didn’t approach her earlier for marriage, but her brother  always said let her study more, let her get mature. But now that she was 18, there was no denying the fact that she has to marry.
In that era, a government job and a government babu was considered more than enough to be the most eligible bachelor. But this was not true to be a fact. Guryog Singh, was the most eligible bachelor, keeping in mind that he was in government service for more than 12 years, he belonged to the same district, was of the same caste, had only a brother as his family, who too was married and living separate. That certified – No family drama. The only thing which wasn’t in his favor, he wasn’t fair. Namar Singh, Neeti’s father had been introduced to Guryog Singh through a common acquaintance, or the middle-man. He liked him since he was a babu. Apparently he was perturbed over a couple of things. Firstly, he was way too older than his daughter and secondly, if he is so old, why isn’t he married yet? But the fact that he was a government servant for the last 12 years eclipsed everything else. So now this job guarantee was the lone star in his profile, despite the fact that he was an eligible bachelor 10 years back too, when he had joined his job. But no one gave a thought to this.
Marriage was fixed. Neeti didn’t with whom she would spend the next part of her life. Nobody cared to tell her about her soon-to be husband. About his job, his personality, his likes dislikes? Does he smoke, or drink? About his lifestyle, no one told Neeti. Nobody cared to tell her who he was? The rituals started on both sides separately. The date was fixed for the last Sunday of July as Mr. Groom didn’t want to miss a single day from his office. The day kept coming closer and closer, preparations and rituals going on their full flow. Her curiosity to be in the arms of someone she didn’t know. The anticipation, the anxiety, the feeling to be in that blood-red dress, emotions were at their peak. She was sad and baffled. She had never ever seen her soon to be husband. She was happy and flurried. She was getting married.
            It was the day. Her wedding day. Everything was beautiful, the lighting, the flowers, the new carpets, the draped chairs, and the bride. Everyone looked busy to receive the baarat. Namar Sing was the zamindar, and he prepared for a grand reception for the grander baarat. Sun was over the head. A yellow-black taxi stopped just outside the main entrance. It honked again and again. Namar Singh and others came outside. A man stepped out of the back seat, with a turban on his head. It wasn’t the usual turban, but much more grandeur and decorated. It wasn’t the turban. It was the sehra. And he wasn’t just the man. He was the groom.
Two more men stepped out, completing the baarat. Neeti was called and the wedding ceremony started. Neeti was seated alongside a 40-something man, a thousand shades darker than her and her would be husband, so she thought. She was scared, and angry and sad. She was crying. She was crying when circling the fire with him, completing her feraas. She was crying when her forehead was reddened with sindoor. She was crying when the mangalsutra choked her throat. She was crying walking out the door with him. She was crying sitting alongside him in the back seat of the taxi. She was crying waving goodbye to her family. She cried for the last time thinking she has to cry all her life.