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Friday, July 1, 2016

Short Story : The Eternal Summer

The Eternal Summer

It was the first thought that came to her as she woke up. He was gone. And, soon, this bedroom, the house in whose eastern corner it sat, and the tiny garden outside with its gnarled old red hibiscus and the half-grown mango tree they had planted together,all those would be gone as well. It was the strangest feeling ever.
The Gardenias' fragrance filled her deep breath.The birds were chirping warmly, she could hear their pleasant chat in the garden. Last year, just like every other year, the cuckoos had come up to soothe their tired, little bodies in the large Banyan tree in the garden ; the hanging branches of which would draw figures of light and shadows and mutter long lost tales, in its calm, weary tone. And then by the summer ,the cuckoos would begone again. Gone –just gone, like that. Their descendants grow up within fleets of other birds, as free as creatures with blood flowing in their veins could ever be.It was mid-summer now and even the otherwise tranquilly bright morning rays glared towards the earth’s bosom. Throughout the day then, littleby little –the heat would suck life out of the planet. The sudden slam of the door brought her back to her thoughts about the real situation. It felt consoling that she hadn’t woken up a little earlier. She would have to watch him depart then, in silent steps, as he faded from contexts and circumstances, as the lines determining the ever-increasing distance between them would have set feet towards an unknown number, a terribly scary oblivion.

She dragged her tired feet up to the balcony as the screeches between her bare feet and the tiled floor indulged themselves in a secret conversation. She looked up, straight at the sky –she could almost visualize the reflection of despair in her large, calm eyes within the clouds that now floated serenely towards the west. Where do tears go back to? No one even builds them a home. They are free, free to indulge, free to covet, free to set sail, free to set themselves free. If there weren’t any chains now and no burdens amidst her soul,no scribblings,no wounds,she would have set sail,too. Towards something that moved the modest hibiscus leaves in the summers apart from the hot, gushing winds; something she never could finda term for.
They had spent twenty eightyears together, more than aquarter of a century. Twenty eight. It was a big number for her. And perhaps for him, too. It was not known if the time was the burden or was the bitter series of events that had taken place in the last elevenyears. Was it just the last eleven years? Or was it that the events themselves were sowing the seeds for the circumstances to grow into cruel, fat creepers that silently shackled them and ate away all the pleasant memories, the divine times, the taste of being, of existence itself.When did time turnstatic? When did the luxurious voyage of his lips touching hers fade to the grey river in a rainy day, drowning deep, deep, deeper still? Was the rubble after the storm stuck at her throat like the poison apple that had dimmed the glory in the sparkling white of the snow? Was it all that affected her now?The stones that he hurled at her through words descended towards her subconscious, loosely passing from her long fingerson her cheeks to the pain that was whirling into a whining sound from her throat now.

It had been quite a while that the storm raged through her eyes and her voice rebelled in soft murmurs and whispers,each time reassuring herself that she could gather her lostpieces, walk on the shore that they called life, yet again. Suddenly, something flashed in her eyes, except for the flickering of the lamp she lit inside-the quiet, sullen burn constantly incited the fire in it, this was what made her hold the pen for a living someday, against worlds and worlds inside worlds. She hadn’t noticed by now, the clouds had turned into a deep shade of ashy grey…she had clipped up wet clothes last night on the roof and left them there to dry. She was about to make her way towards the roof as she heard the telephone ring.
“Yes? SunainaNair speaking.”
“Hello,Mam.It’s Akansha from the agency.The furniture will be moved out by tomorrow.We have already settled the transaction. The money shall be available by this noon in both your and Mr.Nair’s accounts. Please get it all ready by tomorrow morning. ThankYou and have a nice day. Is there anything else we may help you with?...Hello?”
“Uh…No,Thank You.”
The raindrops by now were spirallingacross the large glass windows and balcony door.She quickly placed the receiver back and went to the roof to get the clothes inside.By the time she had got in,it was raining hard outside.There was one thing she could hope for,rather pray for,at the moment : The flight doesn’t have to be cancelled. Another day here means another myriad decades.The stinging essence of this thought brought the shallowness of sorrow back into her face again.She quietly opened the sliding door as the rumbling of the clouds and the sound of fast flowing currents filled her ears. 
Eight months ago from this day, he had come home at aroundmidnight, something that he had developed of late then. She had smelled the eerie fumes of alcohol as he stepped in and just cast a glance at him, one that consisted of pain and disgust combined together. He had struggled his way up to the bathroom and then silently they sat at the dinner table. For all these years, Sunaina could never dine unless he was home. The rest was rather simple, the food would be warmed, nobody would complain about a thing as they used to, all those years ago. They would just lookdown at their plates 
and consume whatever was in there, disregarding its feel and flavour. But then something strange happened-he spoke. In a tone that was pleasant, just as it has always been, a deep, smooth, delicious baritone that she had fallen in love with since the very first moment he had spoken to her. She couldn’t figure out if there was a slight tremble in it, but something made her heart pump way faster than usual. And then, just as easily as dew slips from fresh, green meadows, he said it. They didn’t need this anymore. It was time to uproot it from below, to just get rid of it finally, and choose their own ground to circle for the rest of their lives. No more disgust, no more trembling, no more confusions, no more of necessities and known habits. They had had enough of bitterness, she knew it far better than he did. She had agreed by nodding her head and their wasn’t any tears in her eyes, nor any surprise. She barely muttereda single sentence then : “Are you moving to her place?” 
Long pause. “Good.”
Intimacywas stoned, forever.
The stubborn breeze washed her tired face. Despair always made the otherwise insomniac lady rather sleepy. Her bags were now packed, she only had to leave. A small, five-lettered word : leave. Yet, it was so uniquely impactful. The strangest word, the strangest feel it imparted into each little being on this universe.Didn’t they say every departure is an arrival? But…but everything would be gone by tomorrow. The half-grown mango tree that they had planted together, the chirping of the birds, the morning tea, the clutter of utensils,the memorised shadows,the sullen temptation, the useless clinging. None of that fell into the category of necessity, but they were habits they had clutched to, until their fingers refused to hold on to the plank that had been recently made wearier by termites. The bridge was now broken. There were no temptations at sight, there was an obscure pathway but it treaded continuously, pumping its own heart with new anecdotes everynow and then. Why couldn’t Sunaina scream “freedom?” Why couldn’t she let out a jolly wailand say, “It’s over now. I am through. I have been through it and all I am is a wanderer, a nomad, a sailor, a tempter, a garden? “ Instead, she was folding, constantly falling, bending over –trying to hold on to an inexistent tie, a bond everyone imagines to hold on to. Fancy thinking, she did try to convince herself about that. But time and again, the thoughtsrushed through her and broke the sand dunes of consolation that had been scarcely well-built due to the crumbling down of thesculptor’s elbows –out of the most disastrous and insulting of the race’s emotions : self-pity. 
Something else,that same very thing that made the leaves move in summer,apart from winds hit the heart of the tree. And the leaves danced in its tune, their fiery motion awakened the raindrops that were resting on them until then. Something similar moved inside her. Her words, her pen, seemed to get reduced to broken walls. What was beneath the rubble? What was above it? Where did all the highways lead? Where was the key? Even if she discovered it, what about the door? What about the door?
Thedownpour had slowed down by then. There was a strange light filtering through the clouds as the river currents flowed, consuming the shadows of clouds,slowly gathering the means to give birth to 
an illumination that the Sun itself could never shower since time began its journey. Sunaina suddenly had an irresistible urge to go and sit on the veranda on the second floor, right at the place from where they used to watch the Sun set together. She quietly placed her feet on each step,like the fluttering of leaves in autumn,the ripples of music engraved inside its veins.Whatdid the stairs leadto?,she began to think.”As long as you don’t stop climbing,the stairs won’t end.Under your climbing feet, they will go on growing upwards.” –she recalledKafka..the lines inculcated a steady motion inside her, of the sort they calledfaith.She went upstairs in a current of intoxication, she put on a gush of oblivion on her feet.What was on the other side?Where did sides end?The veranda welcomed her with the twinkling of metaland resonance in ringingin the two wind chimes that enlightened its enthrallment.It resembled the sound of gongs in monasteries up in the eastern hillsides. She sat there, on the wet floor and watched the river flow. From times beyondthe birth of beliefs and faiths, just a little later to the birth of time itself, thought appeared. In a flow, in an indulgence for indulgence itself, the unnamedwarmth, a kind of summer,took flight in the wings of the river. At times of wild downpour, it proudly roared its existence.

Disclaimer : The passage in Italics had been suggested by author Jayashree Mishra.
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  2. Whoa...Heavy Stuff...melancholic, sad, beautiful in the most painstaking way


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