Revenge and Solace

He could see the terror in the eyes of the twelve-year old. It reminded him of his niece, Sakina, killed by a stray bullet.

Sakina. Her name meant peace, serenity – that elusive dream he had been hunting for three years now.

Have patience” they told him. “We will extract our revenge“.

This was his moment. His moment to take vengeance for her death and the deaths of all children who had died like her.

He uttered the name of his God for forgiveness and courage, and shot the girl at point-blank range. The bullet hit her right in the centre of the forehead. Her eyes glazed over. All the life, laughter, mischief and innocence in them died. She lay extremely still, one more body in the sea of blood in the deathly-silent auditorium.

He waited for peace, for the serenity he had been waiting for, once the anger and rage in him burnt out.

All he felt was grief.

Revenge was easy to get. Redemption was harder. 

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. An innocent death for another innocent death is just the massacre of humanity. 

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11th October 2014: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

She glared at me from across the classroom, over the heads of the students calmly writing their papers (hiding the stress that bubbled just beneath the surface). Sweat glistened on my brow. It was ridiculous — I knew I hadn’t done anything, but there was something so accusatory in that glare that I felt guilty, like I had committed some unpardonable sin.

This is a scene from my examination hall today afternoon. For some inexplicable reason, the invigilator had taken into her head that I was copying answers off the paper of the girl sitting in front of me. I wasn’t. It was a 60 marks paper, with 4 questions of 15 marks. Completely subjective. I couldn’t copy, even if I wanted to – and I didn’t really need to. I knew the answers, was assured of them, and yet She was convinced that I was cheating.

Do you know how difficult it is to concentrate on writing when someone glares at you? She kept coming over, and every time – EVERY TIME – I looked up she was there, staring at me with narrowed eyes. I hadn’t done anything, but her gaze made me feel like I had. Every time she walked past my desk, I only had one thing in mind – don’t look guilty, act cool, act cool. And of course this meant I looked all the more guilty.

She looked at me like the lean, mean cop in the hard-core detective film looks at the suspect, who squirms under his gaze, and confesses to the crime. I never sympathized with the poor fellow till today, when I was placed under the same position.

Invigilator *with her eyes*: Cheat in my exam will you? I don’t think so! 

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Me: I didn’t do anything – stop glaring at me!! 

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I was afraid to look up, to even move an inch, just in case she came over again. I got a crick in my neck. I was more focused on acting nonchalant than on answering my paper!

I was relieved when the final bell rang, but the narrowed eyes of the invigilator as she collected the answer booklets told me I was by no way free from the burden of accusations – what can I say – Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Renovated Proverbs: 12 July 2014

One of the worst sights in this world are watching a train you intended to catch, leave.
So while I sit at the platform waiting for the next train, let me tell you a little bit about my day. Today in creative writing class, my teacher had the unique idea of giving us half of a popular proverb, and asking us to complete the sentence. These are some unique renovated proverbs me and my classmates came up with:

Better safe than…. Pregnant
(Only for Mumbai residents – the proverb me and my friend thought of was Better Safe And Leave Early Than Take A Virar Local)

People in glass houses shouldn’t… Change Clothes.
Also People in glass houses… Should use solar cookers.

Strike while… The Mother’s Out.

It’s always darkest before the… Movie Starts.
Also It is always darkest before… You turn the lights on.

You can lead a horse to the water but you can’t… Do That With A Lion.

Do not underestimate the power of…Desperation.

Do not bite the hand that…Pays You.

Love all, trust… Me.

Where there is smoke, there is… A Cigarette.

Somehow I like some of these, More Than The Originals 😛

Daily Prompt: An Odd Trio

I sit in the college canteen amidst the usual hustle-bustle of students, nursing a bowl of hot Manchow soup between my hands. The warmth feels nice on this dreary, cold morning. It has been raining continuously since yesterday afternoon, but knowing this is Mumbai, it will continue raining ceaselessly till tomorrow afternoon, if not longer. The wooden chairs painted a bright, sunshine yellow are the only spot of brightness under the dull gray sky, and I wonder if that is the reason they painted the chairs yellow in the first place. It is a strange colour to pick, without any thought or reason. Surely there must have been some reason…I pursue this train of thought for a while before realizing I am thinking about chairs! 

With lack of anything else to do, I sip some of the hot soup, and burn my tongue as a result. 

The cat comes up to me and meows piteously. The cat is our canteen cat. Nobody knows when and where she came from, but she is a constant presence in the college canteen. She isn’t an ordinary cat either. She has perfectly mastered the art of begging. She spends her days moving from student to student, meowing piteously and looking at us with pleading eyes (who knew a cat could master the ‘puppy eyes’ technique so well!) in a way that made it seem as if she has been starving for days (despite her fat girth). “Shoo!” I tell her, not knowing how exactly to serve soup to a cat. She gives me another adorably cute look, before realizing that I was going to stay firm.

With a final hiss, she moves on to the group at the next table. The girls ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ over her, and as most of their kind do pet her belly and feed her tidbits from their plates; while the boys, as most of their kind do while the objects of their attention do not give them attention, glare sullenly. I spend a few more minutes observing the most popular feline socialite of our college. When in between there were rumours of her being pregnant, the entire college had been in a tizzy. The college newspaper even did a story on possible kitten names! 

I take another spoonful of soup, savouring the warm, spicy taste. 

A classmate walks by, holding a beach towel. I can’t stop myself from asking: “What are you doing with a beach towel?” The guy pauses, and looks confused for a minute, “I am not really sure. I had an epiphany that you needed it”. 

Why would I need a beach towel?” I ask mystified. 

You don’t need it. You need to see it” he explains patiently, before walking away.

I continue drinking my soup, and wonder idly why the tables were painted red…?

Today’s Daily Prompt: An Odd Trio

June 20 2014: Welcome Back to College

It has been exactly 12 days since college reopened, and the charm is gradually wearing off. During vacations you feel so eager to return back to college – to meet old friends, visit the popular hang-outs and enjoy the a la carte menu at the canteen.
But as and when college does open, you remember all the reasons that you wanted to get away from it in the first place – lectures, assignments and the all-pervasive homework.
Barely 2 weeks in college, and am already exhausted. I can barely find enough strength in myself to get up at the crack of dawn, get ready and go to college. The alarm clock and I have reinstated our mutual enmity, and it is harassing me with renewed vigour.
At college I look through groggy eyes at the beautifully dressed fashion divas, marveling at the fact that they managed to curl their hair and match their accessories, when I had just managed to throw on the first pieces of apparel I touched in the morning. There are others like me too. You can easily spot them in the canteen – red, bleary eyes nursing a cup of hot coffee.

The bell rings, and you begin the long trudge to the lecture room, up 3 flights of stairs, chanting in your mind all the reasons you love college for….the sandwiches at the canteen for instance.

Talking about the Future on the School Bus

10320348_757120340986332_8630196627970622781_nHave you ever wondered why we only remember snippets of our memories? Like one precious moment in time we managed to catch just before it slipped away, and stored it in the treasure chest of our minds. It might be a little dusty with time, but the essence remains pure.

This is one such memory carefully preserved in my memory box – the details are a little dusty, but it is still cherished.

What do you want to be when you grow up? – the favourite question of every adult whom you met. Today we had just written a paragraph in class on what we wanted to be when we grew up, and the topic was still fresh in our minds. By we, I mean me and my two best friends – who for the sake of anonymity, I am calling S and M. 

“So” I asked, looking out of the school bus window, at the receding building, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” 

“You tell, first”, M demands, testing the waters, testing if it is a trick question.  We were only 4 years old. 

“I wanna be a doctor” I replied proudly. “Like my uncle. He stays in London”. I never knew which held more fascination for me – the profession or the distant land, synonymous with all the magical places I read about in books (maybe that is why when I finally visited the city, a few years ago I was vaguely a little disappointed). Whatever the case, that was the only career path I knew of and deemed fitting back then. 

Now, S followed, a little tentatively, “I wanna be a teacher”. We turn up our noses. Being a teacher is the worst thing you could want to be at that age. A teacher was a wooden ruler wielding monster back then, who mercilessly gave homework to students. “Not any teacher”, she is quick to defend. “A good one, like Rina Miss. I will help students. I will be kind and never shout at them”. This was, still understandable. Rina Miss was all of our favourite teacher. She was kind, and always took extra interest in the underdogs – those who were bullied in the playground, those who didn’t seem to have friends, those who had problems at home. She would call them and talk to them at length. Sometimes she would give us chocolates and small gifts like pencils or ball-point pens (a rare privilege allowed to kids). She would take interest in what books we read and what films we saw, and when another teacher scolded us, it was to she who wiped our tears. 

Now it was M’s turn. She proudly puffed up her chest – “I want to be a wife!” We broke into peals of laughter. Marriage only had two meanings for us – 

  1. A game to play with when we were playing with our dolls.
  2. An occasion where we had to go dressed up and would be served tasty food, and would have our cheeks pulled by a dozen people we never remembered meeting. 

Once we managed to resume seriousness, we gave some serious thought to the question. “You will have to leave your parents”, I said gravely. As a girl, that was the biggest obstacle to marriage, in my opinion.

“I won’t”, M said, confidently. “I will make my husband leave his house, and come to live with my parents. My mother said that long ago that is how it happened. Men left their houses after marriage to come, stay with their wives”. (I have thought of this strange piece of knowledge for long. I guess my friend had misunderstood, or maybe her mother was talking about matriarchal societies)

“That is such a nice tradition!” I said. “Why did they change it? Why did our mothers shift residence after marriage?” 

For a moment we ponder this incomprehensible question. This ridiculousness of our mothers. “My father has a nice house” S said, almost defensively. We all were quiet. We couldn’t really debate this topic, without debasing either one of our parents, so we left it.

“When we get married, we won’t be like our mothers” I decide. “We will bring our husbands to our home. I will never leave my family!” images (1)

More than fifteen years has passed since this conversation took place. None of us are married….yet. I am pursuing a journalism career. M is pursuing English majors, and S just cleared high school. Very little remains of that ignorance and confidence now. Back then, all insurmountable problems had a simple solution. Sometimes I wish I could view life as simplistically now too.

(This post is in response to today’s Daily Prompt: Futures Past)

 

 

 

Everything I have ever been

Today’s Daily Prompt: If you were one part human, two parts something else — another animal, a plant, an inanimate object — what would the other two parts be?

A lot of images run through my mind when I read this prompt:

  1. I am 10-years old, and standing on the boundary wall of the playground. The earth seems so far away. I shake my head, and tell my friends, I can’t jump. One of them shouts, Chicken! You are Chicken!
  2. I am 12 years old, and my mother is telling me: A Woman should be like Water. She should fit in whatever bowl or situation she is poured into, perfectly moulding herself to the requirement. I remember her words vividly till day. It is some of the best advice I have ever received.
  3. I am 13 years old, and my mother is screaming at me – You are a Locked Chest. You never tell me anything anymore. This was the age when I first started keeping secrets from my parents.
  4. I am in ninth-grade. I am 14-years old. This was the time when my biology teacher devised a nickname for me: Dictionary. I was a voracious reader, and thus had built up a vocabulary better than the average 14-year old student. I don’t remember which word it was whose meaning I was able to correctly tell her, but soon she affectionately started to call me Her Dictionary. Whenever while reading out a chapter in class any student would ask her the meaning of a word, she would turn to me. When I couldn’t answer, she would be so disappointed, that I soon started making it a point to read up lessons before class, and learn all the difficult words I didn’t know the meaning of. In a way, I guess, I did become the class dictionary then.
  5. I am 16 years old. I have recently joined high school. The teacher asks something and I know the answer. I raise my hand, recite the answer, and become my friend’s Encyclopedia. That was my nickname in high-school, sometimes inter-changed with ‘Wiki’ (from Wikipedia).
  6. I am 17 years, and my article has been published in a magazine. My friends look at me with awe. One of them say, You write so well. You are like a Pen. Words flow easily from your mind.
  7. I am 19, and taking an online test What Animal Are You? The answer comes – Beaver (Really, I have never even seen one in my life! But apparently, I am like one). 

If you ask my opinion, I am one part human, one part chameleon and one part of a budding flower. 

I am a chameleon. You will never be able to categorize me in one pigeon-hole. I am made up of many colours: red for assertiveness, blue for desire for peace, black for recklessness, yellow for cheerfulness, dark blue for sadness, gold for joy, green for imagination and pink for femininity…..and white to absorb all these colours into one. 

I am a budding flower. I blossom a little more everyday. Everyday as I learn something new, I open my petals a little further, and look at the world with a new perspective – see something that I never knew existed before.

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