Dear Diary…

Dear Diary,

Would you believe another 25th of December has gone by? Father insisted on going to church today and I wish he hadn’t because during the service, when I looked at him, he was crying and it nearly broke my heart. He tries so hard to be strong but then Christmas day comes along and I can almost feel the pain radiating from him. I think he thinks he should have been able to stop it…that he should have done something differently that day, but how could he have known what was to be? How could Father have stopped what happened? I wish he wouldn’t blame himself. I don’t. I almost reached out to him, to hold his hand today, but, I hesitated for just a second too long and by the time I decided to, the moment had passed and it was too late…

Christmas used to be such a wonderful time for the family Diary…we used to have a big celebratory dinner with delicious food and carols and dancing…I wish only the parties could be remembered instead of just that Christmas night nine years ago being the clearest…why Diary? Why are painful memories like that always so powerful? Why doesn’t the sadness ever end…?

On that night, I remember I was sitting at the foot of the stairs rubbing my tummy because I was hungry. It was way past my dinner time and Mother and her sister, Aunty Tina had only just begun setting the table! Father’s youngest sister my beautiful stylish Aunty Kendra, who insisted I called her just Kendra, was pouting at her reflection in the mirror that hung in our little foyer as she combed her hair first this way then that trying to get it to sit in a style she found most flattering. Aunty Grace, Father’s elder sister was at the piano, absent mindedly playing the first few bars of “Jingle Bells” while her husband Uncle Jude was successfully convincing Father to break out a bottle of his more expensive bubbly. I remember that the last time I heard Father laughing was as he went to the bar to fetch it. Uncle Jude popped the bottle and I recall that the cork went flying through the room and landed at the far end of the hall. I was supposed to submit an art project once school re-opened the next year and I thought the cork would be a useful addition to the piece I was making. I bent down to poke my head under the sofa to see if that was where the cork had rolled off to when Aunty Enid (who was quite old at the time) didn’t see me, tripped over me and fell. The glass she was holding fell to the ground and shattered and she cut her hand on the shards. I remember Mother rushed to her side to tend to her injuries giving me a very stern look. Father just pulled me up and gave me a hard smack on my behind in front of everybody, his eyes flashing. He hissed at me to apologise, which I did, shakily. Then he just walked away from me. I was so angry probably just as angry as he was. I was almost seven years old…how dare he smack me in front of so many people when I was almost old enough to be a lady?!?

I turned around and stormed out of the room, my eyes smarting almost as much as my derrière. I threw on my favourite pink coat, and bolted out of the house. I walked out onto the road going in a direction that I thought would take me furthest away from my house and from my father with whom I was so angry…but the further I walked, the less angry I got. So I turned around to head back home…

Diary…the last thing I remember about that Christmas night was the appearance of this patch on the snow…like bright red ink staining a white sheet of paper…

The next time I see Father, please make sure I give his hand a squeeze Diary…he won’t be able to see me, but maybe he will be able to feel my presence and know that I love him and don’t blame him and that the accident was never his fault…

-xoxo

******

I randomly generated SEVEN words to write a piece of fiction. The words I got were: Christmas, Diary, Cork, Comb, Ink, Dinner, Power. Hope you enjoyed the read. 🙂

******
I am taking part in The Write Tribe Festival of Words 1st – 7th September 2013.

Write Tribe
Advertisements

That smells like home

aeroplane-164663_640Growing up, I remember that during the summer holidays every year, the four of us would pack a very large number of suitcases with goodies from “the Gulf” for our relatives in India and travel from our little town of Al Ain, (which was so little, it didn’t have its own airport for the longest time) to Dubai to make the journey to Mangalore. I remember the never-ending queues we waited in to get into the air plane and then fighting with my brother to get the window seat. (One of the many perks of being the younger child was that he usually had to give it to me…. 🙂 ) The aeroplane had a distinct smell. A mixture of your run-of-the-mill bug spray and the essence of some wild exotic flower. The scent was so strong that it used to make my father and I sneeze and sneeze until our eyes watered but, there was no getting around it. Through the years, I’ve made many journeys by air and the air plane smell still never fails to set me on a sneezing bout and remind me of all those trips to India I made growing up.

By the time we reached Mangalore, we were all tired but, I remember that I always knew we had reached because as soon as I stepped out of the plane, half asleep though I was, the humidity would hit me like a solid wall and fog up my brothers spectacles.But, that happened only if we landed when there was a break in usually constant monsoon rains. If it was raining, we were greeted by the delicious smell of clean wet mud. It was something that I didn’t get to breathe in too often since I lived in the dry dry desert. To this day, the smell of the earth just after the rain has tenderly caressed it reminds me of holidays spent in my grandmother’s house.

Speaking of my grandmother’s house, I guess, that’s where memories my nose has made seems to be the strongest. I remember that there was a lady who had a herd of cows in the plot of land behind our house. Every morning, I would wake

Way back when! My cousin and brother with me outside our house

Way back when! My cousin and brother with me outside our house in Mangalore

to the sound of cows mooing and the smell of cow dung. Even though I’m more scared of cows than I could possibly explain to you, funnily enough, the smell of their poop generates a good feeling deep inside my being. 🙂

My grandmother drank a glass of hot milk in a tall steel tumbler every morning at about 11 I think and I remember the smell of boiling milk permeating every room of the house…so strong there was almost no getting away from it until a strong gust of wind would blow through the open windows in the hall and bring with it, the tantalizing fragrance of ripening jack-fruit and a wonderful confluence of the sweet scents of all the flowers on plants that my mother had planted when she had first entered that house as a bride.

Come afternoon and the house would fill with the aroma of fish being fried in piping hot coconut oil…a smell that would linger on much after the last bits of the fish had been licked off my fingers. My own mother never used coconut oil to cook, so after my grandmother’s house, I only smelt that smell at my in-laws and the memories came rushing back….

Once dusk had arrived, Ratna, the girl who stayed with my grandmother to look after her, would light one of those old tortoise coils to keep the mosquitoes away. The smell was so strong, it’s no wonder the mosquitoes couldn’t survive it! Although no one lights them any more, when I see them in the store, I think of my holidays in Mangalore.

Eventually, tired out doing nothing in particular, I would fall asleep to the sound of crickets chirping and frogs croaking only to be awoken the next day again to the sound of cows waiting to be milked in the next compound in all their smelly goodness….

******

To get your home to smell exactly the way you want, try Ambi Pur. Check out their page at www.facebook.com/AmbiPurIndia.

Today…today, I’m homesick…

Last week, the husband and I decided to go home and it was a beautiful, green, cool, wet Mangalore that greeted us. Now for those of you who do not know, Mangalore doesn’t always treat its residents that kindly…usually, it’s terribly hot and the humidity is off the charts. You’re sweating the second after you’ve had a nice cool shower and there isn’t a lot you can do to feel comfortable. But this time, we reached just as the monsoons hit the coast and the weather was perfect for a relaxing holiday. 

Unfortunately, as is the case with all good things, it zipped by faster than light and now, back in Bangalore I’m homesick…sigh…

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been a baby person and since during this little vacation, I was in Mangalore for a whole week, I was able to devote precious hours to enjoying the wonderful company of my two-year old niece who is the most adorable child on the planet! Yay!!! She is such a cute girl!  My husband finds it surprising thatIMG_20120513_132312 I’m willing to play with my niece endlessly; carrying her around and making a complete idiot out of myself just to see her laugh. But she’s a baby and the first one in the family since I was born years and years ago! Besides, who can resist a child who looks at you and says, “I love you so much!”, before planting a kiss on your cheek? Thanks to Adelin, I have come to reaffirm my believe that babies are glorious creations. They are such absolute perfection in miniature.

But it’s not just Adelin…it’s having my family and my husband’s family around. It’s such a good feeling to have the house full instead of it being just the two of us like it usually is. It’s constant company. And not on a phone! If you’ve ever lived away from home, I think you would understand what I’m saying. For days before you go home excitement builds and that becomes pure joy when you’re finally there. But then, before you realize, it’s time to pack those bags again and the fall from bliss is so rapid, you feel miserable.

I have always hated leaving home. The hugs and goodbyes at the bus stop make me very sad. So, I usually avoid everyone’s gaze and get on my bus before my tears have a chance to fall. This time too, I quickly said goodbye to everyone but, my heart nearly broke when my niece put her tiny hands on my face and said, “Teythi (which is what she calls me) don’t go anywhere okay? Stay with Addu.”…

Today….today I’m so very very homesick….sigh…

The holiday

Maroo! That’s where she finally decided to go. The brochure promised plenty of things to do, including dune bashing which was something she had always wanted to try. Plus, and most importantly, it was cheap. For the longest time she had wanted to travel but never had enough money to go anywhere…well, she had some money but, everywhere she wanted to go cost too much money and she had almost given up hope until today, when that flame was renewed. Nita needed a break and had made up her mind, she was going on a summer vacation!!

Those first few days of her week long holiday were magic. She spent hours on the pristine beaches swimming and surfing and just lying on the sand till it was time to go back to her hotel room. She explored the town on foot and was amazed at how big malls housing all the big foreign brands existed parallel to old vendors with nothing but baskets to hold their wares. There were luxurious cars and ancient bicycles all moving on the same roads and even the people were a strange contrast of the ancient and the modern with the children dressed in Europe’s’ finest while the older folk work traditional outfits. It was turning out to be the holiday of her dreams. She saved the best for last and booked an overnight safari trip just a couple of days before she had to return to her dreary old life.

Nita’s first glimpse of the desert took her breath away. A never ending majestic expanse of golden sand constantly changing position and place in the hot desert winds. Sand that was so hot during the day, it could burn your feet through your shoes and sand that was so cold at night, you could freeze to death if you weren’t protected. It was beautiful in a terrible sort of way but she wished she didn’t have to leave. Away in the distance, marring her perfect view was a concrete structure. It seemed strange to have a facility out there, in literally the middle of no-where and Nita felt her curiosity piqued.

“What’s that?” she asked her local guide who was like everything else in the city a mix of the old and the new in his colourful headgear, traditional clothes and Ray-Ban sunglasses.

“Oh, Ms. Nita,” he replied, “It’s science facility of government. Not many activity there now.”

“Science facility? What kind of work did they do?”

“I is not too sure Ms. Nita. Animals were taken there one time I think. Before many years. Now, I think all is quiet…”

Nita gazed out into the distance and wondered what experiments took place in that stone monument in the middle of the sand. She didn’t think it looked abandoned but then, the guide should know. She imagined it bustling with activity with scientists and labs and those poor animals….she was lost in her slightly dark reverie when a fellow traveler tugged at her arm and pointed at the line of dune buggies a little in the distance. She grinned and ran towards the desert vehicles along with all the others in her little party spending the next few hours riding the dunes having the most fun of her life before returning to the tent for a local feast.

Nita collapsed in the tent so glad she had come on this trip hardly believing that her time in the sun was almost over. She weren’t sure when she fell asleep but suddenly, Nita woke up to something that sounded like an old bomb-siren. She bolted out of her tent, blinking in the near pitch darkness and looked around her. The sound seemed to be coming from the abandoned science facility where there was a beacon shining out in the darkness and what looked like a hell of a lot of activity. She could see dark figures moving on the walls of the building with something that looked like blow torches. She couldn’t understand it and while she was trying to make sense of what she saw, she was joined by others who had woken up because of the noise.

“Mamma what’s that?” little Amy asked pointing to something in the sand.

Nita and the others looked to where Amy was pointing and sure enough, there was something moving in the cool desert sand. As it got closer, there was a strange rustling and clicking noise that seemed to be emerging from the wave coming towards them. But no one knew what it meant. The guide who had gone back to the main tent to bring out a torch walked towards the sea of darkness and disappeared over a dune. Suddenly, they heard him scream.

RUN!!!! Giant scorpions!!! Giant scorpions!!!!”

No one reacted at first, they just thought he was using the wrong words as he often did, English not being his native tongue. But the terror on his face as he got closer to them was enough to strike fear in them all. Nita looked at the dune behind him and there following him was a sea of scorpions the size of small dogs coming towards them at a terrifying pace. Suddenly everyone was screaming. Everyone was running.

******

When she opened her eyes, at first she didn’t know what it was that woke her, but in no time, she felt like her skin was on fire. It was as if someone had doused her in kerosene and set her alight. She was in so much pain, even the restraints they had placed on her couldn’t hold her down and the nurses had to rush in. All she wanted was it to stop. They gave her a shot to sedate her and just before she passed out again, she turned to the beds next to her and saw a  long long line of others who seemed to be suffering the same fate….

Someone had turned on the news and that woke her up again. Everyone was watching with looks of horror on their faces. All over the city, scorpions of monstrous proportions were running amok and authorities were doing their best to capture and destroy the beasts. Thousands had been stung and only the very young or the very old had died, the rest were suffering in hospitals in different parts of the city. It appeared that the military scientists in the facility had been conducting experiments on these creatures to unleash them on the enemy….the sting of these scorpions wouldn’t kill you instantly, just render you insane with pain. They needed a cure…but, the scientists were far from providing one. The authorities were calling it a military-scientific experiment gone awry…that’s when she fell into restless slumber again…

She had wanted adventure….

****

Another Chuck Wendig challenge. Hope you liked it!