Jugnu

My entry for #FlasFiction Contest which was the winning story for the author #RuchiSingh

 

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It was a starlit night, the lofty mountains embosomed by the darkness and the cold breeze that sneaked through her window reminded Ashima of the emptiness in her life. Ashima was in her mid thirties. Her life was never easy, meeting an accident early in her life she had to drop out from college . After her Abbu’s death she was the sole breadwinner of the family comprising of ammi, widowed sister Zoya and her son Rishab. Ashima brooded over life when a tiny pair of hands clasped her legs and a smile surfaced as Rishu snuggled into her arms. She rested her cheeks on Rishab’s face, held him tightly and swayed along playfully to his amusement.

The lights went off suddenly and they heard a knock outside. Ammi opened the door and informed that the guest their house owner mentioned has arrived.  Ashima was about to get up when a jugnu appeared from the dark, it travelled all the way from window, circled over her head and flew to the main door. It was a belief in kasauli, their village, that a firefly hovered over the head when someone was about to fall in love. Knowing this, Rishu wriggled out of her arms and started clapping his hand:

“khala ko mohabbeth hone wali hai” he shouted and ran to the door with Ashima trailing behind.

She felt embarrassed and angry to see that the visitor had overheard them and was waiting with a smirk, flaunting  dimples through his stubble.

“I am Zayd Abbas Rizvi” The tall figure mentioned and Ashima felt uneasy at his presence.

“Are you married?” Rishab enquired , Zayd  entered into a loud laughter.

Ashima closed Rishab’s mouth and pulled him inside. Zayd saw Ashima’s amputated hand for the first time and stopped laughing abruptly. Ashima realised the awkwardness, “Your room is downstairs” she tried to evade him.

“Help him out, Ashi” Ammi said. Zayd moved down stairs and unwillingly Ashima lighted a lantern and followed him. As she opened the room Ashima could sense his eyes lingering over her. She entered the room , a table was lying blocking her way. She tried to lift it when Zayd moved forward to help her.

“I can mange “She said firmly and zayd backed out. He watched admiringly as Ashima dragged it with her arm and did all the other odd jobs seamlessly.

She placed the lantern on the table and was about to leave.

“jalth hai kiske liye there ankhon ke diye ” Zayd’s voice floated into her ears. Those lines were very familiar and nostalgic to her, she fumbled knocking the lamp. It was about to fall on her when Zayd grabbed it burning his hand.

“Ashima are you trying to pretend to yourself that you don’t recognise me?”

She tried to move past him but he held her hands firmly.

“You disappeared from my life after our accident, because you thought you are going to be a burden for me?” he said.

“Please go away, you deserve better” Tears rolled down her eyes as she nudged him and tried to move away.

zayd pinned her to wall and said  “Ammi passed away recently, she had told me you moved on,  but in death bed she regretfully told me how she had lambasted at you when you came to reply to my first proposal”

He hugged her “Come back Ashi, I need you, it’s not you who need me “.

She couldn’t stop herself anymore and hugged him back .All the chidings drained away in their tears .

 “So here Ashima Khan I invite you once again to my life’, Zayd  held out his hands.

Ashima smiled and placed her special hand in his, as the jugnu gleamed high above them silently.

 

 

 

 

Featured image credit to its owner 🙂

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Frida and her Mind Readers

via Daily Prompt: Cranky

Frida kept secrets from herself …Each time an urge or desire crawled up her mind she pretended to be not interested . Wonder why? Because she believed that, if her heart longed for something the entire universe conspired against it from materializing in her life. Frida considered herself unlucky and her desires as a hindrance to her goals.

“Sometimes I feel there are spies suppressed in my heart … They rebel stealthily as if they hold me responsible for their oppression.

They crawl out at nights .When heat of my thoughts smolder them they stealthily wriggle out and acquire their mighty form and conspire against me. Conspire against me with nature and my destiny…They are the mind readers….They read my mind  .

They whisper …I don’t hear their voices, but I feel them. My intuitions warn me. Whenever I plan something…They conspire and topple my plans.”    : Frida believed.

So she devised an easy way to escape her fears. She despised her feelings , and started treating her thought and mind as two mutually intangible separate entities. She tried to fortify her dreams by keeping her desires elusive .

Frida was not like this always. In her growing years she was a bubbly kid. She had tinkling hazel eyes and her hair locks bounced with vigor in the little ponytail her mom made as she hopped through her neighborhood in her colorful frocks.

All this started in high school. Frida was popular in her school for her painting skills. As a kid whenever she saw those sparkling trophies in principal’s shelf she dreamed to hold one of it amidst an applauding school assembly some day. Finally in eighth grade her name was suggested for Inter school painting fest . Frida was  excited that she got the much awaited chance to fulfill her long lasting dream. She even broke her piggy bank to get a new set of water color.

 “I am sure to win this one, papa “ she promised; but things didn’t materialise as little Frida planned.

She got injured while playing with Tom her neighbor’s Lab, and couldn’t attend the fest. She shed tears for a week after seeing her friends applauding the winner in assembly.

Everybody including teacher consoled her : “it was just misfortune” and advised to try next year.

That next time never happened. It was either some illness or miss happening; she could never attend the fest even in the following years .Each year she became more dejected and the phrase “unlucky “ got stuck in her head.

That was the first instance when she felt that sinking melancholy. From then it was  a trail of such events .Even though she was best in class she never got admission in the college of her choice nor did she end up in the kind of job she desired. She always had this feeling of unfulfillment even when she was doing well and always felt things happened not according to her preferences and choice.

As she grew her believes resized itself too. Frida was rarely impressed by men. After years of plodding life ,she felt little jaunty after meeting Thomas her new colleague. She started to develop fondness for him and his witty ways. Thomas was a tall, dark man with chiseled face and good humor .Her happiness grew in leaps and bounds when he invited her to join him New Year dinner. Just when they were about to head for the restaurant Thomas realized his car Tyre was flat and had to drop their plan. That was when Kate happened to hope in from nowhere. Kate was her college mate, quintessential beauty with brain.

“Thomas, this is Kate my college friend ” Frida introduced her.

Their rendezvous ended up as a friendly chat among three friends than a date.

Thomas even took initiatives in organizing few more meeting between three of them .  Frida felt gleeful as Thomas continued to impress her each time with his charms.

Her happiness didn’t last  long . After few months Frida found Kate and Thomas in a mall shopping together holding hands. Frida couldn’t stop blaming herself for the strange line up of coincidence that toppled “her share of luck”.

This incident kind of reinstated her belief.  A strange fear started to consume her that her feelings will turn as a curse to her dreams.  She was scared to dream…it was like someone secretly was spying on her mind. Frida constantly tried to push back all her qualms from appearing on her mind frame while she secretly urged to fulfill her dreams . She tried to detach from her feelings.  As time passed she became a master in disguise …disguise of her feelings.

She became totally reclusive from the world and cranky, withdrawn from hopes in life.

Life rolled on. It was one of those usual mornings when she was trying to gather herself in bed, when her mobile rang and screen displayed an unknown number. Usually she avoided calls especially from known numbers, but since she had just ordered food she picked up the call. Contrary to her expectation the call was from Medical center a hospital near to her apartment and the lady informed there was an emergency and asked her to reach hospital immediately. The five minutes seemed never so long before and her mind had already imagined several permutation combinations of worst scenario possibilities. She parked her car and ran to the reception with heavy breath where a young nurse with thick framed spectacles finally informed that Kate was admitted in the hospital after having a bad fight with Thomas. Frida realised that Kate had called her in the morning for an advocate’s number and the hospital had dialed up the last number on her call list.

Frida supplied the prescribed medicine and was waiting outside the room. She couldn’t but mock at the irony;

“See destiny tried too hard to spoil my plan, they were never meant to be”.

As she was blaming her mind readers again, Ryan a little boy came running towards her. Ryan was lean boy, tall for his age with trimmed hair and a divine smile .They exchanged a friendly banter over his ball when a lady came running after him.

Frida tapped the boy’s cheek and said “he is a cute smart boy, why is he here? Who is not well?” .

The lady’s face dimmed and she said “Ryan is the patient; he is diagnosed with a heart disease”.  Even though Frida met Ryan for the first time his energy and vibe was so contagious that she felt her heart was sinking.

Seeing Frida worried Ryan ran towards her, hugged and said “Don’t worry I am lucky it is just the initial stage and doctor uncle said it can be cured”.

That hug actually shook her too hard she felt like liberated from those shackles that had captivated her for so long. She embraced and scooped him up in her hands as tears tickled down her face. Ryan wiped her tears with his tiny hands and pecked her forehead.

Frida thought “Look at that boy he was going through so much but yet he kept his hope kindled and more than anything enjoyed his life”.

She felt like the cage in her head just released all those captives up there, but more than anyone else she felt liberated from her cranky self. That little boy just managed to change her perspective. Few minutes ago she was spiteful but now she felt sorry for Kate, at the same time felt relieved to have stayed away from an abuser like Thomas.

The talk with Ryan was like untangling all those knots around her mind… she felt free from all fears at last. As Frida dodged Ryans hand ball, she couldn’t stop thinking how everything fell into place by having a positive perspective and how events had taken its course this time in her advantage.

Header Credit : to the owner (via google)

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