All posts by dilgracekaur

Infinite.

Mandi

IMG_2176

Jasmine held onto the driving rickshaw tightly, as the cold breeze on the road hit her face and made her ears cold. She was playing with her breath, emanating clouds from her mouth that would disperse and disappear into the air.

As she got down at the vegetable market along with her mother, she noticed some women chattering with a vendor, bargaining for the prices. She saw an aged man with his distinctive jute bag examining the capsicums as he loaded them all into the worn out plastic basket. A little kid in torn mini jeans passed her walking so confidently, with a plastic bag of fruits in his one hand and currency notes clutched tightly into the wrist of the other.

She struggled to pass through people in the heavily crowded passage. Her vision was restricted to see only the lower halves of people walking by her. She hated coming to the market with her mother.

They stopped at their regular vegetable vendor. Her mother began examining tomatoes and putting them into a yellow basket lying on the top of vegetables itself. There was nothing in this particular market that fancied her. Nothing she could pick and pester her mother to purchase for her. It was just heaps of dusty potatoes piled on one another with odd looking stuff growing out it, red tomatoes of different sizes, ginger, brinjal, cucumbers, capsicums, onions, chillies, lettuce and what not. It was like revising names of all the vegetables she had seen in her school books. It was not just any boring place; it was a boring place selling boring vegetables that reminded her of school.

The girl saw the shopkeeper looking at her. She grabbed her mother’s shawl and hid behind her, still staring at the man as he was coughing. He was a middle aged person, wearing a dusky sweater and a muffler wrapped around his head. He had a thin voice and was answering rudely as people asked him about the prices of the vegetables he had on sale.

She wondered how all these fruits and vegetables landed up in these stalls here. Who got them there? How much would the old man sitting in the middle of all of this, his entire day, might be earning? She thought why he would be so skinny and unhealthy if he had so many vegetables with him. He could cook some and eat them.

The world on the television she saw was happy and perfect. Coming to the market was a sad occasion for her. She saw people, who either looked unhappy or old. She thought about the man who drove her to the market in the rickshaw. It pained her heart seeing the old man putting so much effort on the pedal, to drive the weight of the vehicle forward. And when he asked for 30 rupees, her mother gave him a long lecture along with the unwillingly handed over extra 10 rupees.

She just wanted to run away from there. But she was little and needed her mother. The thing she wanted the most in the world was to grow up. She didn’t like to rely on her mother for seeing everything there was to see around her.

She wanted a cell phone, a driving license, a credit card and a wallet filled with money. She wanted to be a grown up and do the things she desired. Not waste time like her mother buying boring vegetables but give money to poor people and those old men working on streets, who should be at their homes being loved by their children and grandchildren.

She realised she was standing over water, that had gotten into her floaters. She immediately stepped back, and titled her footwear to let the dirty water drop down. It was already so cold, now her feet were drenched in dirty water. Her mother turned and asked her if she would like cauliflower or lettuce for lunch. She ran her eyes over the vegetables spread in front of her, like examining a restaurant menu and asked her to buy brinjals instead and make bharta.

People around fascinated her, walking and heading somewhere; all of them up to something. She also wanted to have a purpose and walk like them. They were capable of doing things that she thought she wasn’t. Hardly she knew back then, she was capable of thinking things they weren’t.

 

***

2017 Favorites

Advertisements

The Sunny Rain

4718575916_84b78557d3_b

She loved colours. Every bit of her appearance was shimmering like a rainbow sitting on the perch of the road, as she sold toys on that bright sunny afternoon in the city of Pune. Despite the atrocious heat, she wore her block printed black dupatta graciously over her head and kept smiling at the strangers passing by. It was time of the year when the number of her prospective customers on street went as high as it could be. The market looked as bright as her, flushed with decor all around, celebrating the arrival of Ganesh in its hometown.

In an attempt to divert attention to her conveniently ignored tiny little toys, she arranged them on a clean poster that she got from an old newspaper shop that morning, spread over a dusty sack. Placed one after another in rows- the dancing belles, tow trucks, yellow ducklings and Ganpatis of various designs, she made the best of what she could do to make her earnings prosper.

*

He saw the duckling; yellow, with a red nose and a blue strap around the neck, down there by the pavement. He was reminded of a similar character he came across in the television every afternoon. As his mother kept walking straight holding his left hand, ignoring everything that could lure his innocent and playful eyes, he got himself free from her and picked up the duckling off the Krishna poster it was kept on. She turned to him and asked him to keep it back that very instant. He refused and in a kind of tone that demanded a certain compensation for bringing him to the market despite him not wanting to, he asked her to buy him the duckling. As she pulled his hand, he shifted all his weight to the other side, hanging on her hand, crying and whining for the duckling, which in that instant meant the world to him. Feeling awkward with all the eyes around on her, she asked the girl on the pavement for the price of the toy.

*

A slight amusement in his day felt like a relief to him, watching the whining kid victorious in his battle. He leaned further from his balcony as he noticed the happy kid disappearing into the crowd, with the yellow toy in his hand.

It is not enough to just celebrate a festival in India. It should be sufficiently loud to an extent that the entire city sounds like it and you can feel its arrival in the air. Amidst the tumult of the people on roads, he couldn’t write his story. The celebration of Ganesh Chathurthi was at its peak.

Finally giving up on the struggle, he grabbed a chair of his dining table and came out in the air, glancing at people as they rushed through one another for their destinations. Their attire, belongings and odd expressions made it interesting for him to contemplate where they came from and where they were headed to. For him they weren’t mere humans, but hundreds of walking stories that left their houses in the morning to complete themselves, and begin all over again the next day.

The sunny afternoon changed its shade and out of nowhere the clouds began pouring. The unpredictable weather was a characteristic trait of the city. He picked his clothes from the hung wire and piled them on his chair immediately. He noticed the running vendors on the pavement of the street, grabbing their things and stuffing them into blue plastic bags. Within seconds, the entire illegal street business vanished off the streets and dispersed into places. The chattering noises were overtaken by the melody of the raindrops, and the gleaming market suddenly felt peaceful as the concerns of the crowd on road became similar. But within the hurrying atmosphere of humans across the road, he saw a young girl sitting on the top of the stairs of a mobile store. She wasn’t moving but rather observing people, as they looked for shelter, just like him. For that moment he felt a strange connection to her.

*

She closed her sketch book and kept all the coloured pens into the side pocket of her orange sling bag. She was satisfied with the sketches she had made in the market. At the same time she was annoyed as the rains were back and the sun gone, once again.

She always loathed Delhi for the heat. And now Pune’s rains were getting over her nerves. Sitting on the stairs, she began wondering whether any city existed with a climate that she could be cheerful about. Now that her subject of attention had vanished and the time for her assignment was almost up, she flipped open her red umbrella and began retracing the path that brought her there. Walking through the mud while holding her umbrella and slightly lifting her lowers to avoid contact with the dirt on street, she saw the same girl, her subject, in a tunnel to the right. Standing in the similar block printed black dupatta, and floral green skirt, she was settling down with her family alongside all their stuff piled up by the wall. She stood there looking at her. Then giving the known stranger one last look of goodbye, she left and joined the dispersing crowd on the street.

 


***

Cherries for the Pudding

 

FullSizeRenderIt was a lovely Sunday afternoon. He woke up to the mellow sunlight briskly entering his room. He was supposed to get out of bed and clean his car in the garage like he used to every week on that day. Afterwards, he should be trimming the grass in the lawn and spending his time looking at the progress of the seeds he sowed. For him, his plants were his kids, and he reserved his Sunday for them. He didn’t take any calls on that day from the office.

Today was different. He didn’t wish to get up. He wanted to stay in the room all day, with his quilt and the fragrance of his wife’s perfume in the bed. She was not home. She had been going as per her routine. She had woken up exactly like she used to in the morning and had gone to the market to purchase fruits to make her Sunday morning pudding.

He knew they had to talk. He knew his wife hasn’t been the same she used to be before. She didn’t sing like she used to before. Or forcefully take him to clubs at night, where she danced in the glittering lights like a lightening herself. He wanted to spend time with her today. He wanted to let her know that despite how busy he stays, and how uncaring he might be looking to her these days, and unacquainted she thinks he is with her pain, he wanted to hold her today and tell her that he loved her and that till they both have each other they will never be alone in their lives.

She bought packs of cream, some mangoes and a jar of sweetened cherries along with cartons of skimmed milk. She kept them on the cashier’s counter and stood there watching the lady on the other counter holding her child in one hand, as she struggled to pick the bags in the other. She hushed her baby and kissed it, as she walked to the door of the store, that opened itself as she approached it. She left. The person at the counter woke Madie of her wonders and told her the total amount. She apologised and checked her purse for the amount. She remembered she had to withdraw money from the ATM. She gave her card instead and left with her bags.

He looked outside, through the transparent, satin white curtains of the window. He saw his wife’s car parked outside the house. The lilies on the window panel looked as if they hadn’t been watered for days, and had gone withered. He noticed a layer of dust on the window panel. His wife loved that window and sat there every evening reading her collection of philosophy. It was her place of peace, where she felt away from the entire world; her own little world. Since he changed his job, he hasn’t been much in the house in the daytime. He missed seeing her sitting on that cushiony chair and smiling to him in her red frame spectacles. As he sat on the chair, he saw her book on the stool beside his chair also has a layer of dust on it. He got up and dialled his wife number, aking her when will she be back home. Her song began playing in the room and he saw her beeping phone beside the television.

She chose to drive her bicycle today to the supermarket. She felt the breeze on her face as she passed through the air, cycling through the roads. Her bag and the jar of cherries in her basket in the front of the cycle, she paddled. She took a turn to the right of the bridge, where she saw a little girl looking at her, standing by the streetlight. The girl took a step forward and Madie took a turn towards her.

He receives a call. He rushes to Parkington Street. A crowd is gathered around the yellow tape in the area alongside an ambulance. There’s a police car parked at a distance.  He sees her on the floor alongside the broken jar of cherries, all shattered on the floor.

Beneath.

wp-1481149479101.jpg

He noticed his uncut, uneven nails dark on the ends with dirt. He observed how ugly the nail of his little toe was, minuscule and just unattractive. His faded blue paragon chappals reminded him about how long it had been since he went to the market to purchase any footwear, which was astonishing for him given the exertion he subjected them to everyday. He liked those faded blue chappals, though he had a pair of black ones at home too. But they weren’t just the same as them. In his lost thoughts, he was interrupted by a sweaty man standing behind him,

‘Will you move ahead? Where are you lost man?’

‘Yeah. Sorry.’

Clutching his old brown bag to his chest he took two steps ahead in the line. He pulled an ironed white handkerchief out of his left pocket and wiped his forehead with it. He felt kind of breathless standing there, surrounded by impatient office people, who after their tiring shift in the day were desperate to withdraw money from the ATM and leave for home. He looked at all their feet. Brown dusky leather shoes, mustard wedge sandals with orange ends, dark red cotton slippers with black stripes, black shining belles with powdered dirt over it. They all spoke of the distance their owners covered each day.

Two men similar to his age, standing in his front began ranting,

‘What did we just end up doing? Sir, you bet that this man would change India. All he’s done with this move is that he’s created more lines for us to stand in. As if there were any lesser before’.

He couldn’t understand where to look anymore. The constant rattling wasn’t appealing to him. He took out his cellphone for a few minutes and texted a few replies to unread messages that came in the day. He wanted to leave the line and just be somewhere else, anywhere else but there.

But he stayed there. For he had to buy white sneakers for his son’s sports day. The promise kept him bonded to the line.

Suddenly his neck began aching, and the weight of his body felt too heavy for him to stand anymore. The sight of dirty feet, the footwear they were in and the ground they were upon. wasn’t as entertaining to him anymore. He looked at people around, all walking or standing, looking at one another, or below, or at the ATM or their phones, some in their wallets, some at other women as they walked by and some with their eyes on the verge of shutting. And. he looked above.

There they were, within the peaceful blue shade of the sky like speckles of cotton attached in a painting. Soft, subtle, calm as a river, serene as silence. Just there, unaffected by the dilemmas that were occurring down here. They didn’t care, they didn’t bother. They were just being. And more time he spent looking at them, he realized they weren’t still, they were moving too. And the thoughts in his mind suddenly became slow and his breath came in sync themselves with clouds.

The man behind shouted again, ‘Dude, are you high? Move dammit.’

He took two steps forward.