Thursday, April 14, 2011

Short Stories- Butterflies


This is more of an essay. Was supposed to be a Woman's Day post. :)

Butterflies

Lalitha with one year old Gowri clinging on to her took small but fast steps towards the house she visited ritually for the past 5 years. She was the sun’s clock, for as she knocked at the large gold painted iron gates of ‘Ashanivas’, the sun leisurely rose. She placed the bag of freshly strung jasmine on the gate and hurriedly left. Her husband and four school going kids would wake up and demand their morning breakfast of yesterday’s rice soaked in water flavored with green chilly, before they dispersed for their busier day.

Shantha nodded as lalitha smiled and said “See you tomorrow sister” before she took the turn. They had no time to have their 5 minute gossip session today. Shantha took the cover, opened the gate walked across the dew coated grass, placed the flowers and the milk cover she brought in the blue and white jute bag in front of the large teak door. After this she had to go to the school where she worked as an attendant. She was lucky the management sponsored her last daughter’s education. There wasn’t a day that passed without her being worried about how she would get all the 5 of them married into good homes. That was all that mattered after the ruthlessly fast electric train killed her poor drunkard husband.

Ambiga wished she could continue her bountiful dream. The warm morning breeze sucked her back to the vacuous reality. She picked up the straw broom placed tactfully behind the water pump. With a bucket of hard water and mug filled with snow-white rice powder she waddled across the stoned pathway and out of the gate. As she engaged in the sweep and sprinkle routine, her mind travelled miles away to the brown cattle-plough strewn moist grounds that transformed to golden crop-laden fields. She created the most complicated designs on the wet mud with her work-worn fingers. It has been a decade since she left the little hut that housed her father, sister and two brothers. She was the eldest and deemed to be God’s child. This meant she didn’t have the right to marry and would have to serve her family until death. When Janaki brought her home she had made sure the boys were independent and married off her little sister. Today everything she earned was sent every month to her family. She wanted nothing but her dreams.

Janaki knew Ambiga would dilly - dally her morning duties so she quickly freshened up and came down the wooden stairs. There was a long list of chores to be done and delegated. Her mind had imprinted the menu for the day. Her day primarily consisted of doing the pooja, cooking, cleaning, watching a bit of TV, having a nap after lunch, pooja and cooking again. She placed the flowers in the pooja room and the milk on the stove. “Ambiga, Come in fast. You don’t have the whole day to clean.” she screamed while getting the vegetables, cereal and dough out of the refrigerator.

Little Asha in her little blue pinafore and white shirt came and hugged her grandmother. “I want my glass of rose milk, now” she cried. Janaki consoled the little one with a kiss and gave her an apple to nibble on. “Apple every day doctor goes away” sang a very distracted Asha.“ Preetha come down and get your daughter’s milk ready will you” yelled an otherwise very patient Janaki. Her husband would be here any moment after his half mile walk. She had to keep the newspaper, tea and ginger biscuits ready.

Preetha was getting her wet hair braided after her two minute bath. She had a meeting to attend at half past nine exactly 7 kms away from the mirror she stood in front of. She monotonously wore what her hands could find rummaging her textile teeming closet. She cursed herself for watching that romantic comedy on TV the previous night and applied a bit of kajal on her sleep deprived eyes. “Come on baby let’s go to school” she said stuffing her mouth with diet cereal and tapping her recently acquired iPad with rapt attention.  

The day had just begun and these butterflies flutter in life’s wild garden, with similarities and differences so colorful making it a Beautiful life.

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