Belief

I first came across Vaisakh Venugopal when I read his entry for a contest in June 2013. Soon after I read this post of his. I was taken up with his creative style and language. When I got to know him better and read more of his work, I was even more impressed. Quiet and unassuming, he is a man of many talents – writing, music and painting  are just some I’ve discovered. With Vaisakh, I always think there’s more talent to be revealed. I’m waiting. My one grouse is that he doesn’t write enough – or at least doesn’t post enough on his blog. Today I’m happy to showcase his work on our blog. Thank you, Vaisakh for your fantastic post!

vaisakh

Here’s how Vaisakh describes himself:  Compulsive thinker ¤ Aquarian ¤ Bibliophile ¤ Curious by nature ¤ Perseverant by choice ¤ Smitten by Music & Life ¤Occasional shutterbug ¤ Sporadic blogger
Connect with him on his blog The Museum Piece and follow him on Facebook , Twitter and Google +

Belief

Calmness of mind is a virtue that many people seek. The incessant emotions that churn around in one’s mind can easily push it into a state of turmoil, which is not a pleasant one. People want their minds to be calm, serene, and blissful. But an agitated mind is not one of utmost discomfort. I would give that distinction to an empty mind. A mind in which no action takes place. A mind populated by no ideas – banal or otherwise. A mind so full of void that one begins to feel suffocated. A mind like mine.

It is to escape from this perpetual nothingness that I decided to consciously bring in chaos into my mind. And no better a place to observe randomness than in nature itself. The rough sea, in fact. From my vantage point, I can clearly see the roaring waves crashing against the gigantic rocks and disappearing in a frothy mist. The turbulent motion of the waves helped me keep my mind busy. This outer disorder was the crutch which my paralysed mind used to push itself around. Without this, my mind will look for the turmoil inside – it will bring back memories. I am not yet strong enough to handle those.

waves

Far ahead, I could see a small boat swaying in the waves. It was not out on the open sea, rather secured to a pole on the shore. It was just that the waves were quite strong and rough today. The motion of the boat was interesting and held my attention for quite some time.

Raghu has been quiet for a while now. Engrossed in some book perhaps. I know he is keeping mum deliberately so as not to break the thread of my thoughts. I am blessed to have someone like him as my aide.

“Do you see that boat over there, Raghu?” I asked.

“Yes, it was there the last time we visited too.” He replied without looking up. Though I couldn’t turn around and see, I could make it out by the way his voice sounded.

“I remember that. But the last time, it was not being punished like this by the sea.”

“Don’t worry, it is secured. Those waves are not going to pull it away.” said Raghu.

“No, no, I am not worried or anything.” I said.

True, I was not worried. But there was an uneasy feeling in my mind. The emptiness that I had in my mind was gone. There seemed to be a lingering uncertainty instead. Only, I couldn’t come to a conclusion why.

“It is a good sign, you see.” said Raghu after a few moments of silence.

“What?”

“You thinking, and talking. Feels much better. I have your pen and notebook ready, anytime you need it.”

“I know, Raghu. I will get back to writing. I just need some more time. I need to set my mind in motion. Fill it with chaos and then let everything settle down to order. It is empty as of now.” I said.

“That’s impressive! You should really get on with your writing, you know.” said Raghu.

“Soon, but not now. I am getting my mind ready. You can’t drive a car without starting the engine, can you?”

“You can push it.”

“That’s exactly what I am doing now.”

“I see the ideas are coming along fine.” replied Raghu with a smile.

“That boat, Raghu. The way it is holding on. Something is in my mind, but I can’t put a finger on it.”

“What about the boat?” he asked.

“I don’t know. “ There was a pause as we both ran out of ideas to drive the conversation forward. The initial phase of silence came back. But my mind was busy. A couple of minutes passed by like this. Then I asked him, ”Raghu, tell me, how important is for one to have belief?”

“Belief in what?”

“In something. In someone. In some cause. Anything.”

“Well it depends, doesn’t it? It is all upto the person whether or not to believe in something.”

“Maybe. But in this world – if you allow me to be trite, in this relentless, unforgiving world – it does help to have a belief. To have something to hold on to, don’t you think? At times when everything else fails, to have that one iota of hope, even if not real, just to help you keep your head above the water?” I asked.

“That is an interesting perspective. At times when all is lost, having something to hold on to would be a big relief.” Raghu concurred.

“Indeed.” I said, having got the confirmation that my line of thought was agreeable. Up above, the clouds were forming some strange shapes. The clouds, combined with the purplish-yellow color in the backdrop, made the the sky look like something out of a surrealistic painting.

“See the sky, Raghu. The twilight playing on that bizarre cloud. Beautiful. It looks so serrated. There is beauty in disorder, don’t you think? Chaos in the skies, chaos in the seas. Perfect!”

Raghu turned around in his position and craned his neck to see where I was looking.

“Well that, is a Cumulonimbus.” he said. “The night is going to be rough out there. Tell you what, I think we should go in now. The light is dropping quickly, and by the looks of it, a storm is on its way.”

“Right then. I guess my mind has taken in enough for the day. Now I can just sleep over it and probably will have some ideas to jot down tomorrow. Could you please pass me my crutches?”

Raghu helped me get up from my chair and gave me the crutches. I slowly made my way back into my room. Raghu started clearing up the place outside and bringing in the chairs. On reaching the threshold of the room, I turned back to take a last look at the waves. I saw the boat, bobbing up and down, holding its ground inspite of the roaring waves thrashing against it.

The rest of the evening and the night was all a blur. I only remember getting into the bed with a book in hand. Sometime in the morning I woke up. I had imagined that the uneasy feeling would go away if I sleep over it. But somehow, my mind was still searching for answers. I took my crutches and slowly made my way out of the room to the sea-facing French window. I found that Raghu was already out there, sipping a cup of coffee.

He turned as he heard me coming, and said, “Good morning! Had a great sleep, I assume.”

“Not really. It was a sound sleep of course; but not the kind that answers one’s questions.”

“Sleeps that answer questions?” asked Raghu, a tinge of incredulity in his voice.

“Sometimes they do, yes.”

“Ah okay, I take it that you had a dreamless sleep.. Which is good at times.” said Raghu.

I ran my gaze along the length of the shoreline ahead. Something seemed amiss. The boat. It was missing. I could make out the outline of the pole that it was secured to last night. But the boat was not to be seen anywhere. Where is it?

“Looking for the boat?” asked Raghu. His voice suddenly brought me back from my trance.

“Huh?! Ah, yes. The boat. Where is it?” I asked.

“Bad news buddy. The storm was pretty strong last night. You see those planks over that rock near the pole? That is all what’s left of the boat.”

“Oh my! Looks like the boat was smashed on to the rock by the waves.” I exclaimed.

“Yes,” said Raghu, “looks like it would have been safer out in the sea.”

“Queer, isn’t it? The pole was supposed to secure the boat from floating away. But somehow, it spelt doom for the boat.”

I stood there, contemplating. Raghu reached over, took the coffee pot and poured some coffee into a mug. He then offered it to me. “Here, have some coffee. You will need something to wash down your thoughts.”

“Right,” I said as I absent-mindedly took the mug from him.

We sat there in silence, once again observing the raw power of nature; the chaos.

“Raghu, we were talking about belief yesterday.” I said after about five minutes of listless observing.

“Yes, we did. What of it?” he asked.

“I just thought of another perspective of it. And guess what? This probably answers the confusion in my mind.”

“And that is..?” asked Raghu, with an expectant look on his face.

“..that we should probably have belief, as we said yesterday, but then, we should know when to let go. You know, clutching on to stale beliefs and memories might do more harm than good. Memories and beliefs are good to survive when you are drowning, but once you are up and floating, you should move on. Isn’t that so?” I asked.

“Yes, that makes sense. And all the better, since you are saying that with a lot of conviction, which was not there yesterday.” replied Raghu.

After a pause of few seconds, he asked, “You want your notebook and pen?”

“Yes, I might as well start writing. And please refill my coffee, mate. The engine is up and running. It needs the fuel now.” I found myself grinning as I said this.

“My pleasure,” said Raghu as he took the empty mug from me.

As I made myself comfortable in my chair, I again shifted my focus towards the sea. To draw in its chaos. Far ahead, I could vaguely make out a few planks of wood floating away. The ones that broke the shackles, I mused.

Pic credit

Connecting Online

Although you're far... 

“Meet me tomorrow?”

Leanne had to read this line twice before she comprehended what he had typed. She had been chatting with Mr-I-Won’t-Give-Up for two weeks now, but was surprised that he wanted to meet face to face. She had felt an instant connection with him. Their conversation was crazy, fun and harmless. Just what she needed to get her mind off Felix and the state of their marriage.

“How did it all go so wrong with our marriage? Leanne wondered.

Life had been going well even if they lived in a small apartment in a not-so-great neighbourhood. They both worked hard. Evenings were spent cooking together, catching some television and just talking. They had hoped to build up their savings in a few years to buy a larger apartment to accommodate that big family they had always planned. Somehow, their savings could never keep pace with the rising prices of property. This was the one thing that got them down.

“Are you still there?” Mr-I-Won’t-Give-Up typed.

“Yes.” Leanne typed back hesitantly. “I’m thinking.”

“I’m not pushing you. There’s no hurry. But I would really like to meet you, Ms-Glass-Half-Empty.” he said, adding a smiley at the end of the sentence. “I can never understand your nickname,” he continued. “You seem so positive. Isn’t it funny that my nickname is just the opposite of yours? I will never give up!”

Leanne’s thoughts went back to her marriage. The problems started four months ago, when Felix  started working long hours. Instead of the usual 6 pm, he had started coming home at 11 pm. Even later, some nights. He hardly ever answered his mobile phone after 6 pm. When he did, he was always in a hurry and she could hear a lot of voices in the background. This seemed strange especially since her calls to his office went to the switchboard and all she got was a recorded voice, saying they were closed for the day. When she questioned Felix about the background noise, he told her that he and a few colleagues had gone to catch a bite just when she called. It all started to seem terribly fishy to Leanne.

These days, Felix always came back too tired to talk. After a couple of weeks of waiting up for him, Leanne decided not to bother and now went to bed before he got home. He let himself in and she didn’t bother to keep  track of what time he got home. She had also stopped cooking and started to order in – pizza, Chinese or Indian. Some nights she went to sleep on an empty stomach. These bad eating habits were causing her to put on weight.

Felix got up later and later each morning and was consequently in a rush. No time for breakfast together too. No time to talk. No time for each other.

Resentment started to build up and Leanne felt their marriage steadily going down the tube. To his credit, for the first two months, Felix had tried to make it up to her on the weekends. Then, inexplicably he started to work on the weekends. When she questioned him, he said, “Think about how all these extra hours will convert into savings, sweetheart. We’ll get our house sooner now.” Leanne wasn’t impressed. “Damn the house,” she said angrily. Felix just smiled nonchalantly.

Two months ago, during some downtime at work, Leanne signed on to Friendship.com. This was the site where she had first met Felix. It was not a dating site, but when they connected here, their friendship soon turned to love. Leanne decided to use her old nickname, Ms-Glass-Half-Empty. Strangely, back then, Felix had the nickname Mr-Glass-Half-Full. Their meeting seemed destined to be. Until recently, whenever she grumbled about something he teasingly called her Ms-Glass-Half-Empty. When she signed back on the site, she meant to just browse. However, soon she found herself getting into chats with a couple of women and then she connected with Mr-I-Won’t-Give-Up. He was friendly, funny and married! “But what does that matter,” thought Leanne, “we’re just friends connecting online.”

Now, he wanted to meet and so did she. She was lonely and longed for good company and light-hearted banter. “The kind of stuff Felix and I enjoyed until he spoiled it all.” Leanne thought.

“Okay. Let’s meet” she typed. “But where and when?”
“Tomorrow evening at 6 pm? At that new cafe, Coffee & More?” Mr-I-Won’t-Give-Up responded immediately.
“I’ve never been there,” she said. “I heard that it’s good. It opened about six months ago, didn’t it?” Leanne asked.
“About four months now,’ he responded.
“How will I know you?” she asked.
“I’m the evening manager of the cafe,” he typed. “You can’t miss me! But just in case, I’ll wear a red rose in my buttonhole!”
“See you at 6 tomorrow evening,” she replied.

Leanne thought it kind of strange that he wanted to meet her at his workplace. “That’s his problem,” she thought.”For one thing it will be a safe place to meet!”

The next day, Mr-I-Won’t-Give-Up was not online and Leanne wondered whether to keep her date or not. “It’s not a date,” she told herself. “We’re both married. Just friends….”

Always punctual, Leanne walked into Coffee & More at 6 pm. There he was sitting at a table grinning at her. Suddenly, Leanne felt giddy, as he got up and walked towards her. Gently he led her to the table. “I said I will never give up, didn’t I, Ms-Glass-Half-Empty?” said Felix.

 

I’m blogging through the 31 Days of October.


31days

I’m desperately behind because of a poor internet connection. But I’m not giving up – I’m back dating all the ones I missed out on! 🙂

Pic credit: Aphrodite via Compfight

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Sentenced For Life

Sentenced For Life is one the longest short stories I’ve written! 😉 I would love your feedback.

MC900390722

Taking a sip of her first cup of coffee that morning, Sameera allowed her mind to wander down memory lane. And wander it did, taking her right back to a cold winter’s morning twenty five years ago.

Twenty five years ago, Sameera was twenty-three – a lovely young woman, full of energy and joie de vivre. Her job her to travel out of town for ten days of the month. During that time, she stayed in a hotel. She missed her Mum’s cooking and her parents, but she enjoyed these days in her own company too. She would get up late, have a leisurely breakfast and saunter down the road to the office. After work, she would wander around the shopping area close to the office. She was not a big shopper but enjoyed buying little things to take back home. She would then buy a snack – something sinful usually and eat it as she walked back to the hotel. Once back in her room, she would call her parents, read and watch television. Most evenings she would order room service for dinner. Although she was working, these ten days seemed like something of a holiday to her.

On that particular morning, Sameera was woken up by the telephone ringing in her hotel room. Half asleep, she picked up the phone. “Hello, sleepyhead,” said an unfamiliar male voice. “I’m waiting for you in the lobby.” “You’ve got the wrong number, sir,” Sameera responded, trying not to show her irritation. “You are Sameera, aren’t you?” the man asked. Now Sameera was well and truly awake. She wondered who this was and said so. “Come on. You don’t remember my voice? I’m so hurt,” the man said. Not ready to play games so early in the morning, Sameera banged the receiver down. He called again. “I’m waiting for you in the lobby. It’s completely safe to come down and find out who I am,” he said. She could almost hear a smile in his voice, and what a nice voice it was! Sameera’s natural curiosity won. “Okay, I’ll be down in twenty minutes, “she said looking at her watch and realizing it was only seven. “Twenty minutes?” he laughed. “You don’t need to dress up too much for me. The last time I saw you, you were wearing shorts!” Sameera didn’t find that funny at all. She wondered, “I haven’t worn shorts since I was seven years old. Who could this be?”

Having a quick wash, Sameera pulled on a pair of jeans and a tee-shirt, ran a brush through her hair and set off for the lobby. She looked for a familiar face in the lobby. The only people she saw at this time of the morning were the night receptionist and cashier. Irritated, and making a mental note to complain to the hotel manager, she started back for the elevator. Suddenly someone popped out from behind a pillar. “Sameera! You’re all grown up and you didn’t inform me!” said a tall and vaguely familiar looking man. “Who are you?” she said asked. “Isn’t it sad when one’s wife doesn’t recognize a man?” he laughed. Sameera blushed, then smiled. “Sanjay?” she asked. “After all these years. How did you know where to contact me?” “I visited your parents two days ago. They told me that you were in Bangalore. Since I was coming here, I asked them where you were staying. I decided to surprise you and asked them not to tell you.” “So you are going to continue that silly joke,” she asked. “It was never a joke,” he answered.

Sanjay’s parents and her parents had been friends for years. Sanjay and her brother Karthik were classmates. Whenever Sanjay, seven years older than Sameera, met her he would tease her saying that she was his wife and he was just waiting for her to grow up. Both sets of parents thought the whole thing was hilarious. Sanjay’s parents even referred to her as their daughter-in-law. Sanjay had gone off to study and his parents moved away to another city and it was about twelve years since they had met. She blushed thinking of how he had been her fantasy husband through her teen years.

“Sameera,” a loud voice brought her back to the present. “Coming. Do you want your coffee now?” she said as she walked in to the bedroom where her husband was still lazing around. “Get up, lazy bones. We have a long day ahead of us,” she said. “Remind me again why we’re celebrating our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary” he grumbled. “I’ve been married to you all your life, remember?”

I’m blogging through the 31 Days of October.


31days

I’m desperately behind because of a poor internet connection. But I’m not giving up! 🙂

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The End

yellowbowtie

 

How she laughed looking at that picture! How silly he looked in that white suit with a big yellow bow tie! If anything, the picture went to prove how mismatched they had been. She would never have condescended to stand next to him, if he wore such an outfit! To think that she had wasted time and tears over this odious man! What had he hoped to achieve by sending it to her? Was it proof that he was happily married now? What did she care, anyway. She herself was married for over a year now and well over him for the last four.

 

The End is written in response to a prompt from a Facebook Writing Group called GBE2. Here’s what the prompt read:
We’d like you to write the ending of a fictional story, but NOT the beginning or the middle. Jump in to your piece somewhere right near where everything gets wrapped up and then take us to the end.

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The Last Day

domestic violence

He seemed to take forever to get ready. He kept yelling, as usual.
“When will you ever learn to fry an egg? Useless woman!”
“How many times have I to teach you how to fold a d*** shirt?
Today, I was so tempted to answer back. But I bit my tongue. I knew it was my last day there.
At last, he left.
When his car was out of sight, I turned on the gas, took my bag and shut the door behind me.
A creature of habit, the moment he got into the house, he would light a cigarette!

100 Words on Saturday - Write Tribe

*****

Domestic violence is a very present reality for many women all over the world. We often wonder why women stay on in relationships in which they are abused. A blogger friend of mine, herself a victim, shared her story on Everyday Gyaan in her post, Why Do We Stay?

In my story today, I’ve tried to capture the fear and anger of a victim. However, this one has made a choice to escape. She also made a choice to have her revenge. I’m not advocating violence and revenge against the perpetrators of domestic violence. But sometimes, victims are driven to violence – this is a reality, but rare.

In most cases, like my that of my friend, Kim Sisto Robinson’s sister, the violence ends in the tragic death of the victim.  Kim in her blog, My Inner Chick is constantly urging us to speak out for the victims – to be the voice of the voiceless.  Please read her post Silence Is A Killer‘ and take the pledge to never be silent again.

 

I’m blogging through the 31 Days of October.


31days

I’m desperately behind because of a poor internet connection. But I’m not giving up! 🙂

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