Fiction


NEVER HOUR

What would ’never hour’ be?

Point-zero like the non-existence of the self. Somewhere floating in space. I can’t recollect when I started thinking along these lines. Maybe the time when my father was sick and couldn’t move a muscle or was it when I had a seizure and couldn’t find myself after that, for a while wondering what went wrong. How an organ of my body, the supercenter suddenly decided to call it quits and just floored my being in one single sweep as I lay on the street, helpless, completely dead to the world. When I came to my senses feet were shuffling around me, in unhurried movements and somebody was leaning over me in a benevolent fashion waiting to see if I would come around.

A series of headaches and a CT scan had not shown anything debilitating. Was there a monster in my head that I wasn’t aware off? I had heard of aneurysms erupting and taking its toll. There had to be an explanation since I was one of those who believed that every action has a reason and sometimes a scientific one at that.

The day seemed long and the nights longer. Being on the edge not knowing is pressure in itself. Trying to believe that destiny would not compel me to call it quits so early in my life was not the way I wanted to spend the evening of my life. Perchance the diagnosis was wrong and I had miles to go yet. Fait accompli might have other designs- on my insides collapsing while on the outside I was dandy and peachy pie. Savoring every moment of my existence as I whittled and jaded under my own brutal self-death. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I envisioned it to be but the doctor didn’t look as hopeful or was he the pessimistic kind that I had the misfortune to run into. Only time would tell.

The swing on the porch creaked as I rocked myself to sleep in the sun, the benign kindness of my spirits not letting me down as I gathered myself to dream away my time into world’s that I wouldn’t normally have made it on foot. The experience of being in the present but away in mind and space was as close as I could get to ecstasy on my sleepy feet. I wasn’t sure how long I slept that day and I wasn’t sure if I was awake or dead. I couldn’t feel a thing and that somehow didn’t seem important anymore.

 I was happy, very happy to have been alive in that moment and that was important to me even if it was my final moment.

FICTION

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Punctuations in Life

 April 28, 2010 · 4 Comments · Edit This

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 FICTION 

 

 

I dragged the creaking drawer out, protesting, refusing to expose its contents. I gave it a couple of more tugs before it tore away and landed on the floor, scattering whatever it held in there. A small, dog-eared diary caught my attention and I scooped it up as if it held the answers to all my questions.

  My  life filled with inexplicable and  drone-like existentialism was about to come to a further standstill. Life was like a monstrous quicksand, constant shifting of particles of time, lit up by the evening sunlight, occasionally gleaming and inviting, then grey like the evening after a storm.

 Perfunctory mirth, guarded and wasted lines that often dissipated with the vapors of the morning, every time I spoke. I felt transient both in mind and heart, forever it seemed a long winding journey not knowing its destination,  often taking recourse to fantasies; filling in the void that I had sunk into.

 I had sat at my desk and put my quill to the papyrus going on with my parody of existential angst with resonances of anguish; as if I was the complete authority on  disquiet. My every page was filled with fairy tales which at best would describe my life; if I placed it between a period and punctuation.

 Had it not been for the blighted life when my wife and sweetheart eloped on the morning of September 12th disregarding my existence and making null my sacred wedlock that I had treasured until then, I would have been in a different frame of mind when I wrote my guts out. But now the empty pages stared at me.

 It wasn’t for carnal fulfillment that led to her deciding to run away that night; she wrote in the diary I discovered in the drawer. She said it was  my refusal to climb out of the embalmed fortress I had built for myself over the years, that cocooned me from other people’s half-baked lies and conceits that I couldn’t digest anymore. Leaving in abject misery with me only added to her hastened decision to save herself from the world she was sinking into, living in my shade.

 As insulting and enfeebling as it made me I didn’t reprimand her or yield to chastising her, for I sought the truth about my own life. I had ignored the lusterless pools of sadness that her eyes had become over time. Was I a fool that I couldn’t see the pain she was going through? Her needless sacrifice was uncalled for and her forced amiable nature with me had not come to my notice either. The cryptic conversations I had with her were taken by me as companionable silences. If only I knew I could have saved ‘us’ from deteriorating into a sham.

 It was late, too late and my philosophical ripening and awareness was not going to salvage the situation or make it better for me. So I took the diary, replaced it in the drawer and shut it back again. A tug and a pull didn’t let it free anymore and I relegated it to history even though the air was redolent with her perfume and memories.

 I let out a slow, guttural groan and thrust my face between my palms and breathed deeply. I walked over to the coat rack and threw the warm overcoat around me hastily and walked out into the cold night air, breathing it in as if my life depended on it.

I would survive.

I always did.

Sarayu

April 20, 2010 · 2 Comments · Edit This

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She stood by the window. Her languid frame merging into the gossamer thin window curtains that seemed to shield her from the outside world. She shivered as a gentle breeze seeped in through the rusted window frames. She crossed her slender arms across her breasts, beguiling herself to the soreness she felt inside.

A void opened within her, almost feeling like an empty husk that the wind swept in, a secret anger tingling in her veins. She hadn’t felt so enfeebled and in captivity by her own chains of desolation. Somewhere she heard the night Owl cry in desperation; echoing the very thoughts that outweighed her shredded self. The moonlight cast its feeble glow on her face, illuminating it now and then as the dark clouds harried past the glowing orb.

She gently ran her hands from her neck down to the belly and left it there- around the curve of her waist looking for that warmth that had ignited her, not so long ago. Manav had held her in a vice like grip and had snuggled his unshaved chin at the nape of her neck, whispering as he ran his tongue delectably around her ears nibling it; filling her with a warmth she dissolved into. They had succumbed to the sweet purifying sensation that engulfed them, under the moonlight.

Now the pitch black of the night swathed her in utter hopelessness as she stared afar at the star ridden sky. Tears swelled as her misty eyes looked away. Manav was merely a shadow in her memories playing havoc with her sanity. She wouldn’t find him within her or in the desolate world anymore.

He had taken away with him her moorings. When she had seen him lifeless, she had collapsed with a numbing sensation. Sarayu was a shell of her former self; the depths of her grief unforgiving .

The night owl perceived a movement in the dark and fluttered away shrieking. Sarayu shook herself off her reverie and walked towards the antique bed where the seed of their love was blissfully asleep. She ran her fingers through his hair and kissed his forehead gently and sighed. It was another night.

Waiting to Exhale

FICTION

Janet walked down 5th Avenue, NY, jostling with the crowd of office-goers, the regular pedestrians and tourists. Life around her seemed like a fast-paced Brownian movement of people. People were rushing around in their infinite quest for bettering their lives, people leading their everyday life, people just hanging out watching the crowd and the awe-struck tourists glancing heavenward at the tall sky-scrapers.

 Everybody’s lives running parallel never converging, like endless stretches of train tracks.
Her high-heeled shoes clicking on the sidewalk was drowned out by the everyday noises. The screeching alarms of the fire truck mingling with the ambulance wails. The yellow cabs were hurtling down the one-way avenues trying to reach their destinations faster than the ambulances. Well-dressed business people and nattily dressed, in-vogue girls danced around daintily avoiding being stepped on, in the crowd. Homeless people sat around reclining on the sidewalk benches looking dis-passionately at the milling crowd. Life for them was anything but a fast track.  

 Janet found herself in the little Greek café overlooking the busy street next to the Rockefellers building. The business meeting had gone on for ever, long enough to get her mind wandering all over the globe. She had idly glanced around watching her co-workers and the CFO discussing at great lengths the slides she had put together for her presentation. The projections, graphs and statistics zoomed in and out of her vision along with her drifting mind. She was almost nauseated towards the end of the meeting. She wanted to run as fast as she could and breathe. She dreaded the onset of the panic attacks she was lately having.  

  
Stretching her legs under the table of the outdoor café, she breathed in big gulps of air and tried to relax her stiff muscles. A couple of sips of her favorite mocha and a peaceful sensation drifted over her. She looked around her and noticed several young couples leisurely walking around holding hands and whispering sweet nothings to each other. There was a time she had also gone through those very same motions, with stars in her eyes and a spring in her step. Those were the days she had thrown her head back and laughed with joyous abandon.

 Mark was everything in the world for her. He was a smart, sensitive and an attentive man. They were so much in love. Life then was a roller-coaster for them. She used to look forward to meeting up with him after work in the evenings, at the corner of 5th and 50th street. They took the subway home together. He was always waiting at the street corner with a bear hug and a warm kiss which brought on a radiant smile on her face, no matter how lousy the day at work was.  

That was 4 years back and time didn’t really heal anything for her since then. On the fateful day of September 11th, like every other worker on the TwinTowers he had gone to work early, hoping to take off early so they could go to dinner that night. She had heard the sirens of the fire-trucks, had watched the news reports with the flames and smoke bursting out of the twin towers. It had looked surreal then. Along with the buildings she knew her world had collapsed on her.

Janet had tried everything from talking to shrinks, to yoga, and a month long vacation. A part of her seemed to have become permanently encased in sorrow. She had tried unsuccessfully to date other men and get her life back on track. She was only 32 but felt as if she was older, with all the burden of her grief. Every time she came close to someone, she found herself building walls around her in a defensive mode. She couldn’t stop herself, from running away from her pain. She thought if she ignored it long enough, it would go away eventually.    

 Janet couldn’t do it anymore. Her migraines had worsened and she tried spending long hours at work shutting herself in, but realized she was becoming a classic basket-case. The towering sky-scrapers loomed above her in a frightening silence. She wanted to run away from it all, somewhere, where she could feel the pain, share her sorrows and reach out. As she sipped her coffee, an idea blossomed and she caught herself smiling. Immensely relieved and ecstatic she hurriedly gulped her coffee and rushed back to her office. She muttered to herself over and over again as to why she did not think of it earlier. Suddenly her life seemed to have a purpose. She felt that this was exactly what she needed to do, to shake herself out of the little bubble she had created for herself.
She registered online at the Bill and Melinda Foundation as a volunteer for the ongoing Global Volunteer Network and hurriedly e-mailed her boss that she was going on a vacation for a couple of months. She found herself cleaning her desk and packing with a nervous anticipation, akin to going on a first date. The volunteer job called for her arrival at Chennai, India a week earlier to prepare for the orientation and training. The work revolved around rebuilding and rehabilitating the Tsunami disaster victims.

Janet didn’t care if she had a job when she came back after her vacation. She didn’t know if all of this would help her get her life in the groove again, she just felt that this was the best thing to do for now. She felt alive just thinking about the task that lay ahead of her. All the love she had locked out of her soul seemed to be brimming. She wanted to share it all. There were people who needed her. She walked out into the sun humming a tune.

“I’ll see you in a while, New York,” she thought aloud, hailing a taxicab …

March 14, 2010 Posted by serenemusings | Fictional stories | , , , , , | 2 Comments | Edit

Awaiting Death

 (Fiction)

Stanley capped his pen and slowly put it away in the stand. His eyes scanned the ‘Will’ for one last time. Everything was in order. His sons would be taken care off. He had divided his estates equally between the two of them so there wouldn’t be any quibbling over it later. His daughter would get the seaside condominium with a cabana attached. She had loved the place since her childhood. That would make her happy.

 The awaiting death had spread a light on his life like never before. Impending death had purged his life of all the blemishes that had stood out at one point in his life as sores. The jagged lines traced in his life had taken on a new meaning as he found peace in his voyage so far and the tidal waves that rocked his boat then were calm and devoid of any angry reprisals. Life had dealt him all sorts of cards but he had surmounted them all. They were mostly external threats and acts done by own volition that he had no regrets doing. But this, he felt helpless with. Something he had no control over. He could feel his body being eaten on the inside and consuming his life away. All that he had achieved and gained all his life suddenly seemed ready to float away as a wisp of cloud when he was not ready for it. Slowly over the months he had accepted the fact and finally came to a stage where he was ready to embrace it.

 He leaned back into his plush armchair and slowly hoisted his feet on to the table and sat leaning back in contemplation. He was approaching the evening of his life and he knew every day was precious but he had miles to go before the final sleep. He was preparing for it ever so slowly but meticulously. There were so many details that couldn’t be tossed aside; so many documents to be signed, the bank accounts, his stocks, mutual funds and his medical bills. Those were the ones that were eating away his time and energy. He had accepted the fact that he was dying. His weekly visits to the doctor for check ups were a habit now and didn’t bother him too much. It was inevitable. His insides were being eaten by cancerous cells that had metastasized all over. It was a matter of time and time suddenly seemed so precious.

 ‘Death’ what was it about death that had him flummoxed, like never before? ‘Living’ had never been a problem. He had lived life to its fullest and had skipped every rock thrown in his direction. Obstacles had only challenged him and excited him. Fame, money eventually fell in place and he never felt deprived or lacking. He had achieved most of what he wanted to do. He sat back reflecting and wondering if this was how it was all planned out for him. To be extinguished, being fully aware of its oncoming force was a hard ball to dodge. He would have preferred to have died in his sleep but he didn’t comprehend the part as to why he was being subjected to so much torture by his own body, realizing the painful treatments and counting the number of days left, on his fingers.

 ‘We all die, the goal is probably to create something that will live on forever’, he thought. Then he wondered about it. Had he really left behind anything for posterity?

Dying is certainly not a romantic event and death is certainly a game that will be over…it is nothing; it is the absence of the presence…an endless time of never coming back to this world…a gap you can’t see and when the wind blows through it, it makes not a sound… he  had heard someone say. But why did he feel today that he was not ready for it yet. Is it because he felt the desire to live, to experience and sail through life and travails all over again …all of which he enjoyed doing so much. His entire life flashed in front of his eyes like an old black and white movie. He stood up and took a deep breath and taking his walking cane, he walked out into the garden with a smile. Come what may nobody can take the happiness away from my ‘this moment…’

 “Of all the wonders that I have heard

It seems to me most strange, that men should fear;

Seeing that death, a necessary end

Will come when it will come”

 -William Shakespeare

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February 17, 2010 Posted by serenemusings | Fictional stories | , , | No Comments Yet | Edit

The Red Umbrella

The incessant pitter-patter of the rain broke the stillness in the room. Rivulets of water cruised down the window panes steadily creating zigzag patterns. The glistening free drops clung to the glass refusing to join the rivulets, reflecting the glow of the sun playing hide and seek between the clouds. Samar stretched himself on the couch lazily watching the scene unfolding in front of him mesmerized by it.

There was something beautiful about the rain song. The distant melody was continuous and calming, yet haunting in its steadiness. The elements outside were slowly mixing with his blood and traveling through his vein, bringing a serene lullaby in his love-struck mind. Samar saw visions of his love etched on the window.

 The rivulets were caressing her profile, the gentle winds kissing her cheeks and her half-opened lips. If love could do this to anyone he wished it a hundred times over to everyone else, to sink, to float and rise in its enveloping warmth. He was afraid to move a muscle, for fear of loosing the ethereal vision. He stayed in the position for what seemed an eternity, then slowly retuning from his reverie he looked at the clock.

The hands of the clock slowly moved towards the countdown. She had said she would meet him at six. If he could will the clock to move a tad faster; if only he had the power to change it all to make the meeting sooner yet slower, so it lingered on until he was smothered by it. The power of love he said, smiled and pulled himself up.

Samar fished out his black umbrella and stepped out into the rain. The rain hadn’t let down. There was something magical in the way the big drops fell from the sky in a continuous stream, as if it wanted to empty every bit of happy tears onto the earth. When it hit the umbrella, the drops annoyed at the obstruction loudly protested and rolled away. He jumped over puddles and quickly found his footsteps taking him towards more puddles, just to side-step it in perverse glee. His heart was as light as a feather and a heat suffused from his depths.

Was she going to wear the white dress with the little red buttons on her shoulder?
‘I hope she will,’ his mind said childishly. The first time he had seen her, she was wearing it and standing on the bridge at the park, when he had gone for a walk on sunny day. He had never believed in love at first sight but whatever happened to him that day way in-explainable. He had fallen hook-line and sinker for the apparition. Her white skirt had fluttered in the breeze. Her hair was flying all over her face as she looked at the swans gently skimming the surface of the pond. The red sash of her shirt fluttered behind her like a flag. The vision had stayed in his mind and refused to go away. And as they got acquainted and she had moved away she had promised one day she would come back for him. Today was the day.

The street had several other people walking, jostling, with their black umbrellas and side-stepping puddles trying to stay dry. Samar lingered on looking around. As he reached the bookshop at the intersection where they had promised to meet, he folded his black umbrella and leaned against the wall, under the awning, surveying the scene before him.

People were walking around, a few running to avoid getting wet, and a few standing around waiting for a bus or taxi. A sea of black umbrellas-bobbing around-unknown faces, unknown minds, unknown destinations–he was only a passive onlooker there–waiting in anticipation for that known face and warm smile. He had eyes only for his radiant, sunny goddess, his eyes scouring the sea waiting breathlessly. He knew she would come. He knew she would keep her promise. It was only a matter of time before his prayers were answered. He unconsciously put the palm of his hands on his beating chest to calm the rhythmic palpitation of his heart.

Then he saw it and a spark coursed through his being. Among the sea of black umbrellas a lone red umbrella bobbed in unison, yet standing out in its vivacity and color. A glowing smile spread on his face and he chuckled. The distant red umbrella slowly made its way through the sea towards him. So far, yet so near. The warm flush of his blood pounded headily. She had kept her promise. It had to be her. The red umbrella was undoubtedly hers. It made its way hiding the face behind it. The person inched towards him, towards the bookshop as he waited breathlessly. She stopped in front of him. She was wearing the white dress with the red sash, resplendent in all its glory. Her face looked up at him and broke into a luminous smile. Wisps of damp hair clung to her forehead.

‘Hello!’  She said.

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( Story published in Chicken Soup for the Romantic Indian Soul)

Photo from Internet

February 11, 2010 Posted by serenemusings | Fictional stories | , , , | 2 Comments | Edit

Gangsta Confidential

Demun Soriasis flipped the cigarette between his lips, lighted it, the flame of the lighter adding a glint to his maniacal eyes. He inhaled and then exhaled a long stream of putrid smoke that mingled with the dense night fog. His eyes darted, searching in the darkness for unwanted trouble. He stood casually leaning against the door of a dilapidated building, his other hand in his pocket occasionally touching the gun in the holster. The cold metal gave him confidence. He would need it tonight.  The street had occasional drunks and homeless people loitering around.  A couple of drug pushers ambled around pretending to be pedestrians, their eyes darting around sizing up the situation, keeping an alert for cops on the prowl.

His low slung hat shielding his eyes from the glare of a random car that whizzed around with loud music blaring. This was the seediest part of town where the ‘untouchables’ lived, a common phrase used by the cops when they referred to the 12th ward, a few blocks beyond downtown Madrid City. The cops never ventured alone here. They worked in pairs with a backup on the alert, not too far away. He wasn’t worried about the cops, he never was. It was the informers that bothered him; the bounty hunters who prowled around and collected, for tipping off the cops and the rival gangs.

Today he wasn’t going to use his disguise. He would take a chance and see what happens. Demun was never known to be careless at his job. His precision, eye for details and quick executions had earned him the title of the top ‘hit man’. They called him “Quicksilver”. He had never messed up and he worked alone.  He preferred his solitude, not wanting to train any insolent newbie, who might bite his back eventually. He was the master of his domain and he got paid well. Nobody had seen him. The message he got today was cryptic. An apartment number and a street number, all decoded and deciphered by him.  A series of un-associated messages was conveyed to him; none along the conveyor chain knowing the source.  It was hard to trace and nobody cared as long as the job was done.

He looked at his luminescent watch, half- past- one. Another half hour and he would be all set to get on with the job. He had it all figured out and had spent days studying his escape route. The watch was his only reminder of his past. His mother had given it to him the night she died. She had overdosed on some crummy dope; someone had pushed on to her. Her embittered life of drugs and prostitution had come to a painful end that night, as he watched helplessly. She had pushed the watch into his hands muttering something under her breath. He would never know why she wanted him to keep it. But he had kept it as the only source of memory, of a dysfunctional family he had.

The bitterness in life had hardened him into an unfeeling person, which he displayed on his job.  Lately he was sobering down and loosing his edge. He was softening and getting an aversion to the calls he was receiving. He only took the jobs that paid well. He wanted to make a good nest egg and run away somewhere far and start anew. He knew it was a matter of time before the will to continue collapsed and left him adrift. He was pretty sure he didn’t want to spend time behind bars or face the death penalty ever.

The clock ticked away slowly and he steadily walked towards his destination.

“Apartment #24, Langley Court,” the code had said.

“Female,” the next code revealed.

“Eliminate,” was the standard phrase after that.

This was the usual pattern of events and directions for him. It was the first time in eight months the target was a ‘female’. He never needed the answers or clarifications for his targets.

He pried open the window lock and gently lowered him in. His mask, gloves, and shoe mitts took care of evidences.  ‘Swift job and out’ he told himself as he walked towards the bedroom of the house. Tip-toeing around, he found himself in the wrong bedroom. It was the children’s room. There were four bunkers with kids occupying them. The fifth one slept on the floor on a sleeping bag. The dim light from the night-light revealed angelic faces lost in their own dreamland.  He let out a stifled breath of exasperation, cursed and walked to the second bedroom down the hallway.  He nudged open the door and walked towards the bed, the nylon rope taut in his hands.

He looked down at the sleeping face on the pillow and his hands wavered. The serene sleeping face of a mother of five looked back at him. Who the devil wanted this woman dead, his head screamed? His face broke out into a sweat. His money was waiting in a coded mail box somewhere. He lowered the nylon rope gently towards her neck …

He slipped out as quietly as he entered and walked away, as far away as he could and then broke out into a run. His getaway car was waiting in the moonlight. With skidding wheels he hurtled down the highway never looking back, driving on and on into the darkness; the headlights making strange zigzag patterns on the tarred road. He had done it finally. He had won over himself. This was his last chance and the only one he would ever get. He had to take it and run with it, if he wanted to survive.

In Apartment #24, Langley Court the children all sat around the breakfast table wolfing down pancakes while their mother watched over them lovingly. It was another day, another morning…

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January 29, 2010 Posted by serenemusings | Fictional stories | , | No Comments Yet | Edit

The Accused

He stood there gazing through the bars at a blue sky in the distance. He saw a pair of birds fly away towards the horizon. He dwelled on that thought ‘what wouldn’t I give to fly away from this prison’. His was a life that came to halt a long time back; a long, long time back, maybe 22 years ago or was it more. He had lost count and didn’t care anymore. If this was where he was condemned to die and take his last breath, nothing would stop that from happening and he had given up hope a long time back.

He walked back to his tiny cell that had become his home and the walls that had become his friends and his echo. A wooden sleeper with a blanket and a sorry pillow that had lost all its fluff was the only furniture there. An occasional rat wandered in, hoping for crumbs when there wasn’t much for him either.

A lone decrepit wash basin stood in the corner with a mug and bucket at the bottom of it. His only personal belongings- a picture he had cut out and  stuck on the wall, from a magazine, of a happy home with a family standing in the driveway, with laughing kids- that reminded him of a painful, lost past.  A bible with dog ears and lost pages along with a history book the prison guard had kindly supplied him. He had read the book from front to back, over and over again memorizing every word in there.

He could read back the Bible and its verses now. He had aged beyond recognition. 22 years had taken a toll on his life and his physical attributes. The hair was gone; stubble of a beard, drooping shoulders and a small paunch was what was left of him not to mention the lost, faraway look his eyes had.

The prison guards loved him, a gentle soul that he was, always with a smile and kind word. The laugh lines ran all over his face and no one could ever believe he was accused of such heinous crimes that were attributed to him.

***

22 years back they found David Malcolm’s wife with her throat slashed and a bloody living room with tell-tale signs of a struggle. What he remembered was the way blood was smeared all over the house in a gory fashion. His 5-yr-old who came running into the room was suffocated and stuffed away in a closet. His 12-yr-old was away at school and had escaped the horrendous crime. The cops looked high and low, month after month and eventually an overzealous cop seeking fast promotions and glory had latched on to the him as the convict.

 Several non-circumstantial evidences later, basing on cooked up stories and false witnesses, they had dragged him to court. They accused him of being a vindictive, jealous husband who suspected his wife’s fidelity and had done her to death in fury. He was a mute spectator, whose life got stolen under him for no reason. The court had done with the case soon and he found himself implicated. He found himself in the slammer with a life sentence, since the crime was so gory and vindictive. They didn’t give him a chance, they didn’t listen to his appeals, and they didn’t care.

He was forty-one then and had just begun his new life on a factory floor that was paying him decent allowances to take care of his un-glamorous life and family. All of that came crashing down in a jiffy like a pack of cards. He heard occasionally from his son. He was married and lived somewhere and wrote to him occasionally. Did his son believe he was innocent? Did he still love him? Did he think about him …these were questions that went through his mind day in and day out?

***

His lawyer had come through the doors that Sunday after church services, with a bundle of papers and a happy smile on his face. He grabbed David and hugged him. He had tears flowing down his face. Haltingly his lawyer had given him the news. He was a free man. They had found the guilty murderer and arrested him. The jig- saw puzzle had all fallen in place. The overzealous cop had died in an automobile accident but some law school students had worked their heart out, traced back all the stories and documents and had found evidence that vindicated him. He was a free man. He was free to go back to the world that had put him in there in the first place. Freedom was knocking on his doors after 22 years. He could now be the bird he always envied.

David couldn’t think straight after that. How does one go back to ‘living’ when the ‘living’ was snatched away from him a long time back? Was it possible to learn to live again? What were the things he enjoyed doing outside the prison walls? What were the good things he liked about the world that shut him out of it? How was he going to find his place in society again and earn everyone’s respect? Wouldn’t he be treated as an outcast? These thoughts went through his mind as he bid goodbye, collected his belongings and walked out of that door that was home for him most of his life. He was not elated, neither was he sad. A stoic feeling of walking the good earth, outside the prison walls, beckoning him, until his death. .. It was then he spied a car waiting for him with a family, with children. A tall man came running to him throwing his arms around him.

“Father,” he said hugging him with tears.

——-

(Based on a true story of an accused here who spent 27 years in prison and was released after they found him innocent. Some law students working on the case unearthed it and helped solve the case. The original story has been changed…)

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January 25, 2010 Posted by serenemusings | Fictional stories | , , | 4 Comments | Edit

Ruins That Saved Me

(Fictional story based on the communal riots a  long time ago…)

I was running as fast as I could. The palpitations of my heart resounding within my rib cage. Sweat trickled down my face. My oily hair was plastered on my forehead. My feet hurt and were bruised badly, the sores making it impossible to run. But I had to run if I wanted to save my skin, my life.

 They were coming after me. My pupils were dilated in fear. I ran with the last vestiges of energy I possessed. There it was ahead of me. The ruins from the temple. I blindly ran into the darkness of its inviting sanctorum. I hid behind the decrepit monolith holding my hands tightly around my chest hoping nobody would hear its thumping. I stifled the long drawn breaths, as I was desperate to get air into my lungs.

 Then I heard it- the distant murmur becoming stronger and louder. They were coming. They were gaining on me.

‘She is in there,’ someone screamed.

 ‘Forget her, get the other swine’, another voice exploded in vituperation.

 ‘Don’t let that son of a bitch get away,’ said another.

 ‘You go the other way; I saw five of those bastards run into that house across the street, said another one, his spittle of anger almost reaching me.

 I crouched lower. I had wet myself in fear. Tears streamed down my eyes. I was shivering and shaking uncontrollably.

“Hai Allah, save me,” I cried pitifully and clamped my hands on my mouth as I heard loud footsteps hurrying into the temple. Were there two or three, I couldn’t tell in the darkness? A gruff voice ordered one of them to check the side door. The second man walked to the rear of the temple. The third walked slowly towards the inner sanctum sanctorum.

 I braced myself and held my breath not moving a muscle. I couldn’t move. I was numb from head to toe and wasn’t aware of my own breathing either. Then it happened. My dupatta slipped from my neck and went flying away to the side of the monolith, the whiteness of it standing out besides the dark monolith. I knew I was doomed. It was a matter of minutes before the beast would notice it, I thought. I slipped my fingers around it and slowly yanked it, but that was a mistake I made, for the sudden movement of the white dupatta caught his eye.

 I stopped praying and just waited for the inevitable to happen. A sudden rush of air and the beast stood face to face, in front of me. His nostrils flaring and his bloodshot eyes scanning my face with hatred, petrified me. He had a long knife in his hands and it caught the light of the fading sunlight, glistening with dripping blood of some unfortunate victim.

 His hands stuck out and he grabbed my neck and jammed my head against the wall.

“The bitch is here,” he yelled to the other two. Soon there were hurried footsteps. I knew this was my end and I had neither the strength or will to live. I had just witnessed abbajan and Ammi being slaughtered. I had hid Rasool in a trunk as I ran out hoping he will make it alive and be the surviving member of our clan.

Violent riots had broken out the day before near Simri Masjid over some petty matter. It had escalated and before the army could be deployed a full fledged Hindu-Muslim riot had broken out. Nobody knew what the reason was and nobody waited to know. It was a free for all and innocents from both sides were killed and houses set on fire. I had escaped by the skin of my teeth and as I was running they had spotted me and chased me along with a few others.

The footsteps approached me and the remaining two leered at me, laughing while I cowered in fear. This was not how I had imagined I would die. The last thing I remember was the sound of police sirens outside and I had collapsed in a heap at the base of the monolith. Most of what happened later remains a blur in my memory.

 Twenty five years later I still wake up from sleep having nightmares. Some nights a scream escapes me. Rasool and Saira my daughter-in-law took me to a dozen doctors but no medicine has helped me so far. The ruins saved me. Some strange force helped me survive. Somebody watched over me. I go there often but I don’t go inside. I stand outside, join my hands in salutation and pray. I thank that power that saved me on that fateful day. I lived to tell the story.

 I was asked to identify the mobsters by the police. I declined. I wanted no part of it. I did not want revenge or justice. I just wanted peace and the strength to put it all behind me and move on.

 I had Rasool and Saira and my grand-children to look forward to in life.

 I was lucky to be alive.

—–

January 19, 2010 Posted by serenemusings | Fictional stories | | No Comments Yet | Edit

The Solo Dancer

(A dancer and her last performance-Fiction)

I looked wistfully at the ballerina shoes hanging on the wall. When was the last time I had it on my feet. The date and time were etched in my mind. As if I would ever forget that momentous day.

That was the performance of my lifetime. I stood on my toes with my slender arms held up in the air and my smile touching my ears; my eyes on fire and my mind swimming in a cauldron of unimaginable feelings of effervescence, blitheness and a sensation of living my dreams. I couldn’t see the crowd but they could see me. They were watching me, waiting for me to make it or break it; a faltering step, a misstep perchance, a fall but I wasn’t going to do that. I was here to dance for the ones who wanted to see me dance in my true form, as I was taught by the genius of a Master I had, who’s every step and breath I inhaled until I morphed into him. He had taught me since I was a child, held my hands, scolded me, goaded me, admonished me and molded me into his dream dancer. I wouldn’t let him down. Not now or for ever. He taught me well. 

His master stroke sprang from me to life, in every step I took. All those years of relentless practice into the wee hours of the morning, those frustrations and panic I had felt at not being able to reach the zenith. All of that would be put to rest today. I was the solo dancer. I would perform until the last breath in me, stayed with me and breathed fire into my body, serenely fashioning my every step, into a rhythmic beat that the music was infusing in my blood. And as the music gently filled my ears I moved in slow circles at first on one foot, on my toes then I lifted my other foot higher up balancing it all in one sweeping motion as I arched my body gently forward and pirouetted again on my toes. I closed my eyes. I was one with the supernatural. The presence of a divine infused in the music. I didn’t see anything or feel anything else. My center was my body and the strings that were plucking me were the music and with exquisite perfection, we danced, all in harmony. I was as pliant as the music wanted me to be and as supple and lithe as the dance wanted me to be. I seemed to have been blessed by a grace that had never come through before but appeared to me as strength that I much needed on that day. 

My solo performance, a performance I wanted to leave behind as a memory etched in my inner mind as well as in the audience watching me. Would they feel it? Could they feel what I was feeling? Would they appreciate my efforts? Would they like what they saw and let it seep into their system and transfer them to a divine level of understanding the arts as I was feeling or were they just bourgeoisie, killing and evening to proudly proclaim that they were at the Bolshoi theater of Performing Arts to watch the Ballet of some nameless artist, whose solo performance would make her or break her. Would they go back to their little cozy homes and write up a review trashing me or would they just ignore me as someone beneath their standards of recognition? 

Would they even know I was born into a family of 10 for whom food was hard to come by let alone dancing? Would they know that my parents worked hard to raise us by sheer toil and cleaning their palatial houses and the money they spent buying a ticket would have actually fed the whole family. I was called ‘twinkle toes’ and my mother insisted that I learn dance come rain or shine and she worked night-shifts to see me through. That was years ago but they aren’t there to see me dance my solo performance anymore.

So I dance tonight for them and for me and I know they are watching me and showering me with their celestial music while I am lost in swaying to the music while I did my rendition of the ‘Swan Lake’. The music had stopped but my body wouldn’t and danced until all the applause died down. I had tears streaming down my eyes. At least it was the best I could come up with. That was the day and I hadn’t stopped dancing since, but now. 

I had hung up my shoes; they look at me from there, as a sole reminder of who I was and what I had become. Maybe I did achieve what I wanted and what they wanted of me. I had a good life and so did my shoes, for which I am thankful.

And now it was time for the curtain call after all, I thought as I hobbled slowly on my crutches towards the window. I threw open the window, inhaled the morning air and soaked the sun, lounging in my armchair. It sure was a good life I thought, as I closed my eyes forever.

January 19, 2010 Posted by serenemusings | Fictional stories | , | No Comments Yet | Edit

Father’s Ashes

 (One man’s journey with his father’s ashes …)

 

The rocking of the train had lulled me to sleep. The grinding noise of the brakes roused me at night and my hands automatically reached out for my travel bag. I pulled it closer to me. I turned the dial of my watch towards the yellow light streaming in from the window. The hands of the clock were stuck at 2 am. I tapped on it. It was dead- as dead as my mind was. I pulled the blanket closer to me as a cold draft swept through the cars. Somebody must have alighted at the station. A distant whistle indicated the train was ready to move again. The compartment door slammed shut and a lanky man with a black blanket around his head walked in and sat down opposite to me. He looked me over. I looked back at him. He nodded and muttered that he couldn’t sleep and I acknowledged saying that I couldn’t either. There we were, two travelers sitting around like insomniacs, staring out into the night as the train pulled out of the station, each caught up in their own thoughts, looking out seeking answers as if the night would offer what the day couldn’t.

He was all I had, a communication to my past, my lifeline. Now he was gone and I felt so guilty that I wasn’t there for him when he needed me most. It wasn’t my fault, I argued. I had my life, my future and my own passions to take care off. I had left him to the mercy of my siblings who had promised me they would take care of him. I had run away from my responsibilities, yet again, like I always did in my childhood. I was his favorite child but the onus of being around for him, ever since my mother died was conveniently pushed on to my siblings.

 Was my life more important than his?

Aren’t obligations a way of life and a labor of love?

 There were a hundred questions that tore at my heart and now all I was left with was his ashes. My brother had gone to Kuala Lumpur on a business trip and my sister had an important board meeting that she couldn’t miss. I had flown in from Detroit the minute I got the news of his death. ‘He was dead’, I told myself a million times and seeing his lifeless body confirmed it. All my bottled up emotions surfaced and nothing could hold me back. I was the youngest son after all and I was allowed the luxury of breaking down without having to look mature.

The deep lines etched on his face, the crinkled smile and his reserved nature made him a sought after person. He was always there for us and had never let us realize the full extent of the loss of a mother or feel deprived. The guilt suffocated me and I found myself taking the small urn out of the bag and holding it close to me. Is this what it all comes down to?

It was his last wish when a debilitating illness had confined him to a wheelchair and a nurse had taken care of him; that his ashes be scattered in the river running through the village he grew up in. My youthful excesses had reduced me to a non-existent person in his life. It was my choosing and here I was humbled beyond words with guilt and an overwhelming sense of love that I couldn’t show him when he was alive.

Would I ever be forgiven by me? Would I ever see peace in his death or was this the unbecoming of me to become someone who could reciprocate thereon what he sees exuding from others? The dark night outside had no answers and I couldn’t find it in me and a few that I did made me sad beyond words.

I dozed off with my head leaning against the window, as the train pulled into the station of Dharmapuri. The stranger woke me up and informed me that I had arrived at my destination. I alighted at the station and walked through the sleepy little village that had fewer than a hundred residents. A village that had never heard of America or New Delhi perhaps but continued to live on as a tiny dot on the vast map of India. A time-warped village that hadn’t changed much since the beginning of civilization but had my roots firmly entrenched in one of those little shacks that they called home.

 I didn’t stop to look around much. I didn’t talk to anyone. I didn’t feel like talking. I was carrying the burden of my sorrows and did not want to share it with anyone. I would let go of it along with the ashes, I reassured myself. I walked through the soggy marshes. A recent flood had turned the wetlands marshy and the earth smelled of death to me. I walked to the edge of the river, opened the urn and gently sprinkled the ashes in the river and watched as it got swept away with the currents. I stood there for a very long time lost in thought. I didn’t know what time it was and I didn’t care. Time was inconsequential in this desolate place and I needed to breathe.

With a heavy heart I returned to the village and sat under the Banyan tree and watched as life moved around me very slowly, transported to an era that I couldn’t comprehend much but brought on a strange sense of peace. The peace and tranquility that my father had enjoyed when he was growing up in the village was palpable. The innocence of his childhood might have gradually erased over the years after his migration to the city. A life that did not pay him any rich dividends but took away my mother early and left him tending to us instead. The illness that had no cure had brought a proud man to his knees, dependent on us.

How he must have hated it. I had admired his sense of self then. Maybe I didn’t want to see him broken. I played it all in my head over and again.

I put my expensive looking leather bag under my head and lay down there falling into an exhausted sleep. I had lost what was most precious to me and now there was nothing much left.

 Time stood still and I was in no hurry.

——————-

(Fictional Story)

January 18, 2010 Posted by serenemusings | Fictional stories | | 4 Comments | Edit

Regarding James

(A dispassionate peek into the life of James : Fiction)

James sat down and stared at the wall. He noticed the nail on the wall made a point equidistant from the ends. He sat motionless, his mind a blank and his hands resting on the table. The light from behind threw an oblique shadow on the wall. He raised his fingers and made figures. A deer, a monkey, a cat and a bird materialized with his dexterity.

He indulged in these pleasures for a while engrossed with his creations. The evening threw silhouettes around his town. Not that he cared. His mind was impervious to the outside world. The tenebrous time of the day plunged his abject world into further discomfort.

He ambled over and threw the curtains aside. The light filtered in and threw grotesque images on the wall. He swiveled around and watched it in fascination as the light dimmed in the horizon; the shapes looked elongated and stretched on the walls.

Shadows of a ‘today’- that disappeared with the light.

He prodded himself to rise off his chair and turn the light on. Artificial light, something he despised.

He loved the natural light and the way it streamed into his room in the morning, bringing in energy and a strange sense of excitement, an indulgence he craved for.

He sauntered over to his desk and sipped the cold, tasteless coffee. He must remind Mrs. Summons to bring in better coffee grinds next time. This one tasted like dishwater running down the sink. After living for 60 long years the routine never changed. He was padding around in his housecoat and floppies that his daughter sent him every Christmas. She lived so far away and had never visited him after she ran away with the village idiot.

 He cursed under his breath. If only she had listened to him. She was so young and in love that she ignored the warnings from the village elders. She never failed to send him Christmas gifts. It was her way off making up for her decision and her guilt. He hated to admit that he loved getting the gifts from her reminding him of the reason for his existence.

Beatrice left him early. She had cancer or at least that’s what the doctor had told him twenty years back. He wasn’t sure if the yokel knew what he was talking about. Strangely he didn’t miss her at all. They didn’t have much in common at all and he had often wondered why the heck he was staying in the relationship. She stayed and he stayed and they both lived, if it could be called living by any standards.

 He liked having his daughter with him. Bella was the soul of the house. Bubbly and a walking sunshine who added fall colors on a bereft winter tree. Her laughter filled the house and when she wasn’t around, there was a deathly silence that filled all the vacuous spaces in his life.

Then she ran away with a village boy never to be seen again after she got pregnant with his son. She was only eighteen. James cursed her and his incapacities at raising a girl. Her useless mother didn’t teach her much and was only interested in crocheting and knitting her time away. He couldn’t blame her either since she was the weak child in her brood of eight who was kicked around and punched in the face by an abusive father.

She had looked so helpless and lost when he had first met her and married her. He didn’t know she was suffering the consequences and bleeding inside.

Now he lost them both and he had nothing much to look forward to except the pair of floppies that promptly appeared Christmas time from Bella. He didn’t throw away the old ones. He neatly arranged them in his closet and looked at them when he missed her. The maid came in and dusted the house for him and cooked his meals.

James sat at the piano and played Beethoven’s moonlight sonata, his favorite. He was calling it a day and calling in the closure to his life.

 He had lived and that was enough. He was ready to let go.

A knock on the door woke him from his trance. He ambled to the door and slowly opened it.

There she stood.

 Bella!

January 13, 2010 Posted by serenemusings | Fictional stories | , , | 2 Comments | Edit

The Last 10 Minutes

The copter veered first to the left and then to the right. A strange clanking noise followed by a small thud or was it a boom like a car back firing. Sergeant Nick Kendall couldn’t tell for sure. He just knew something wasn’t right. The occupants looked at each other with trepidation and a creased brow. They had this weird feeling in the pit of their stomach as the copter continued heading north towards the Killaon Mountains where they were to meet with the rest of the brigade for some mountaineering activities they were training for. The CH-47 Sea Night, a Marine transport helicopter was often used for these activities when not engaged in war. The copter had gone through routine inspections at the base before take off and the six army personnel had packed their army rucksacks and headed for duty.

Sergeant Jimmy Johnson had kissed his wife hurriedly and told her he would meet her in a week after the exercises were completed. Ryan their 8–yr-old had left for school that morning in the school bus. Jimmy had promised Ryan a toy remote controlled copter on his return. He sat buckled down to his seat now, his palms sweating. He knew something was wrong. The pilot had announced that they were having technical problems and he was going to find a landing spot soon.

Unfortunately for the occupants there was no clear landing spots for as far as the eye could see. The swollen Shamrock River flowed in a yellow sinuous path between thick and lush jungles of Chile. The mountains stretched endlessly covered in lustrous green. The only available landing areas were far beyond the mountains where the training was scheduled. They knew this and what followed was an ominous silence and a clear and present danger of loosing it all in a hostile environment with no chances of survival. Each one of them lost in their own world of thoughts and last minute prayers for their near and dear ones.

Shawn looked out of the window and noticed they were losing altitude soon. The whirring of the propellers sounded eerie and out of sync. His face broke out into a sweat. It was three years since he joined this brigade and had loved every moment of it. But now he wished he had opted for the ground training he had earlier set his sights on. Visions of his pretty wife and 2-yr-old kid flashed before his eyes. Sheila and he had fallen in love at the academy and had run to the altar for their wedding vows. They couldn’t wait to be with each other. How were they going to manage without him? Sheila and he had planned on having a second child soon. She was the love of his life. He wished he had told her so more often. He wished they had made love yesterday, when all he did was turn away claiming fatigue from his drill. Tears welled in his eyes.

Rory McKnight sat quietly and thought about his parents in Midfield, Chicago. His father had survived a prostate cancer and was recovering. They had promised to meet for Christmas after his training. There wouldn’t be one anymore. He had forgotten to call them that morning since he was running late. His mother would be waiting for his call he knew.

Patrick put his hands in his pocket and pulled out his wallet. The pictures of his family choked him. His wife Glenda and his two lovely kids were in the picture they took last year at a mall. “I love you all,” he whispered. His only sister was in Detroit. He hadn’t talked to her in over a year over something so silly; he couldn’t even remember what it was. Why hadn’t he called up and patched up with her. He felt an overwhelming remorse and sorrow. This wasn’t supposed to end this way at all. He wanted another chance to set things right in life. It would weigh on his conscience for ever.

The copter lost altitude steadily and the pilot was trying in vain to ease it into a small clearing on the ground. His duty called both to salvage the chopper and save the occupants. The rotors were spluttering and not co-operating. After sending the required May Day signals and location grid he said a prayer and just stared out into the blue sky.

The copter crashed into the thicket at 1100 hours. There were three survivors with varying degrees of disability. The last ten minutes of their life was a flash of light and their life a gift to renew. They would live on to look at everything with a different perspective. Things they took for granted.

Yesterday is history

Tomorrow is a mystery

Today is a gift, hence called the present!

……

 

Another Day in Paradise

 The battleground is quiet; the din of warfare is lulled by a silence that is deafening. The bodies lay strewn all over. Some perished without a prayer on their lips. The others had time to gaze at the sky and welcome the momentary silence. A few just stared as their glassy eyes looked around at their fallen brethren, thinking why it all ended this way.

The same place was rattled by sabers a few minutes ago, the place where a thousand bombshells had unloaded itself with all its might, another invention to maim more. The battle-scarred returned to fight yet another war, to go home and regale the ‘alive’ with their deeds of bravery.

 The canons rested with a few wisps of smoke, lazily finding its way out into the air that was loaded with the stench of death and vulgarity. The men had fought for a piece of land that they each claimed to be their own. When did the land they lived on become so much a possession to fight, maim and kill worthlessly? The malediction is here to stay. Out there in the horizon I see the sky turning crimson with the blood of our ancestors and our today.

 The sharp edge of the knife cuts through the body of another and a war cry pierces the night sky. Another abode torched while yet another explosion rocks the surface, in a distance and in the daylight we see a glimpse of the tortuous cycles, vanquished and erected on a monument of what is called faith.

 Awake and alive yet seeing this beautiful world going into pieces is not what was envisioned while growing up. When the sweet innocence died out and questions stopped asking, since answers were hard to come by, then the mystery no longer appealed. Waking up every morning unsure what is in it for some and others.

 The circle of life incomplete for most; as they inhale the fresh air in the morning and find themselves blown to smithereens in a second. An undignified end to human passions and survival, handing it out on a platter for another to extinguish in a second, is what it has come to. And so we wear blinkers in an effort to mask and see only what we want to see. Our life on hold we cannot put, for it goes on. And whatever happens in it, around it and to it, is a summation of that existence taking choice cuts and dumping the rest in the sea of humanity, obliterating memories that cut deep.

 Cauterizing the pain, pushing unsavory scenes behind us,  into the recesses of our minds, re-write history books and change the geography of our hand–drawn maps, segregating people into little demarcated territories, telling them ‘you stay within that’. Cataclysmic events everyday throwing us off-track from a neatly conjectured and pre- ordained life and sometimes written out in our heads all jumbled up.

 We walk around, doing our tasks, in a stupor, part of our brain seeing, feeling, touching, and reaching out at a distance to all, yet unable to touch, Somewhere in between the hand freezes as walls are erected in the fog, a  defense mechanism to avoid hurt and pain. An act from one human to another with strings of understanding their pain and a desire to mitigate it and see them happy as everybody should be.

 A deep rooted desire to achieve balance and equilibrium, to find one’s own centre of bliss, in harmony with the world, not wanting to become a  robot, de-humanized to the plight of what goes on around us. Not wanting to walk away from the stench of human life getting wasted, holding our nostrils high and away to ignore the scent of life, as it turns putrid and assails us. Trying to seek retribution for every soul out there, taking on more than one can handle, yet wanting to be a part of it all to avoid obfuscation between ‘feeling’ and being ‘dead’ alive.

 And so I turn the TV and the radio off and toss the headline news in the trash, trying to get the circulation back in my head, as I hike up the mountain, the nearest thing to heaven, far away from all that I don’t want to see but stares at me gaping, grasping, beckoning me into its merciless currents and I am saying I don’t want any part of its madness as I scramble higher and higher, breathless but sane.

 Then I halt to smell the wildflowers and inhale the crisp air that has been around the world thinking, “Who the heck has seen paradise? Paradise is wherever and whatever the mind wants it to be.”

 So I rush back and hug my little ones, thinking ‘hopefully when our generation passes away you will still have a wonderful world to live in.’

 

——————–

December 26, 2009 Posted by serenemusings | Non-Fiction | | No Comments Yet | Edit

Unadoptable

 

 Vicky ducked under the bed and covered his face. He slid his small hands out from under and pulled the sheet down slowly until it touched the floor and curtained him. He sighed. He couldn’t be seen. They wouldn’t find him.

 The door opened and a pair of shoes stepped in, the light from the corridor filtering in to the dark room. They ambled away from the bed towards the closet door. The doors opened and closed with a creak. The steps were retraced and the shoes walked towards the bed again. Vicky pressed himself closer to the wall and held his breath. A face peered under the bed searching in the darkness until the eyes met his. Vicky screamed in terror and backed himself into the corner, in a ball.

 A pair of hands tried pulling him out. Vicky screamed louder, kicking and yelling and found himself yanked out from under the bed.

He found himself in a bear hug.

 A soothing voice said ‘Now, Now, Don’t be scared I won’t hurt you! Hold me tight now, stop crying Vicky…”

 A simpering Vicky stopped screaming, his breath coming out slower. He turned around and looked into the kind eyes of Dr. Mason who was the social worker and the resident Psychiatrist for the inmates of ‘Sanctuary’ the home for abused and abandoned kids who entered the foster care system run by the state.

 Vicky as he was lovingly called is Victor Hugo the 11-year–old son of a Hispanic couple, who was abused relentlessly by his parents both of whom were victims of substance abuse. Vicky used to hide in the closets for most part of the day avoiding his father’s beatings and his mother’s verbal abuse.

He would watch through the closet doors his parents snorting on some kind of white powder. They would throw food into his room once in two days and if he was lucky he would hear them talk to him in a normal tone.

 Every time an employee of the orphanage came close to him he would jump up startled and walk away. It took Dr. Mason several months to gain his confidence and unmask his horrors. On the fateful day when he was discovered by the police his father was shot to death at home by a drug dealer. His mother had run away leaving him with his father’s body for two days. The psychological trauma that Vicky went through before and after had plunged him into an abyss that seemed hard for him to recover from.

 Then started the process of court hearings and he was shuttled from one foster home to the other and when nobody wanted him anymore, they certified him as unadoptable and brought him to the ‘Sanctuary’. He found himself among several such children in various stages of recovery abused by their own kith and kin and by a system that has abandoned hopes for their normal development. 

 These kids find themselves in the system when they are discovered by social workers who report their abuse and abandonment. Some of these children are so emotionally devastated and broken beyond any kind of treatment. Dr. Mason had heard of every kind of abuse and torture that the kids were subjected to in their homes by their parents or relatives or care-givers. Parents who themselves were victims of social neglect and had gotten into a vicious cycle of alcohol and drug abuse. They vent their frustrations on the children not realizing the consequences of their actions.

  Kind souls like Dr. Mason work on them round-the–clock offering them a shoulder to cry on and slowly healing their scars, one at a time. They are taken care off by social workers and volunteers who spend their time looking after the individual needs of children and making sure they are not hopelessly lost. Case workers work alongside these children making sure their court papers are in order; they are being treated rightly and have a 24 hour access to these children.

 The stories are heart-rending and just listening to them brings on the tears and a strange sense of anger towards humans in general for bringing it on  these innocent children in the first place. Working among them takes a lot of resolve and strength to guide them in the right direction, sometimes it leaves one feeling saddened by the harsh realities that confronts these children and the kind of future that awaits them.

 PS: Names here have been changed and story altered to protect identity of cases.

December 22, 2009 Posted by serenemusings | Non-Fiction | | No Comments Yet | Edit

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