In a Lapse

I wake up in a daze. I open my eyes and see the blue sky above my head surrounded by trees. I sit up with a startle and look around in panic, too many trees and scattered fallen leaves on the ground.

Where am I?

What is this place?

“I think I am in a forest, somewhere deep inside a forest.”

I stand up in fright to see if anyone was around. I start walking slowly, worried that I would get lost. I fear of getting deeper into the forest with no way out.

I do not cry for help or make any noise. I just keep walking. Walking carefully, always alert, searching for some kind of a trail or sign that could lead me out of this strange forest. My mind is a blur and then suddenly I heard something. The sound wasn’t from the forest, it sounded like moving cars. I run towards the direction of the sound hoping that I would hear it again.

I finally see a highway far ahead. I feel relieved but I do not move. I just stand motionless and continue staring ahead because I do not recognize this place. This isn’t my home, I am in a foreign land. This feels does not like home, I do not belong in this world anymore.

Something has changed. I slowly lift my hand and touch the back of my shoulder. There was a swelling with a bulge on my back, with something jutting out. I quickly turn my head to look. Wings. There were wings on my back, in the color of my skin, they feel like a part of me now. I try to move them and surprisingly they move with ease like any other part of me. I try flapping them slowly, they move smoothly and effortlessly. Slowly I can feel my feet rising above the ground. I get frightened and stop moving and end up abruptly falling on the ground.

Then it all the memories come whooshing back to me. The night was as dark as a night could be, hazy vision, swollen fingers reaching for me in an inebriated state, and then the fall. I had fallen from my balcony but I did not drop to the ground, I had grown wings and flown away from the miseries of the world.

I shut up my eyes and stop looking ahead at the highway. I turn back towards the forest and slowly start moving. But this time I don’t walk, I fly.

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Mint Garden

The smell of fresh mint lifts up her spirits.

Every morning, Anima enters the gates of our home at 5.30 AM and goes straight to the garden to collect fresh herbs.

Anima is a cook in our house and I have known her since I was a child. Every day she goes to the kitchen with a smile holding a bunch of fresh mint in her hands like they are a bouquet of flowers.

Every morning, we drink mint juice with breakfast and there is always extra stocked up in the fridge. I wonder why Anima is so obsessed with mint, even Appa and Amma never tell her anything.

Sometimes I have seen her from the terrace watering the mint garden and mumbling silent prayers. I felt she was going crazy.

I even went up to her one day and asked,

Anima, why do you like mint so much?

She gently brushed her hand through my hair and smiled at me.

I never got an answer.

I was upset, I couldn’t take it anymore so I decided to stop all the madness. At night, I secretly went into the garden and destroyed all the mint plants.

Next morning, I wake up and see Anima sobbing by the wreckage in the garden. Appa and Amma look like they are in a state of shock. They just stood by her side, motionless.

Next second, I see them come running towards my room.

I look at them in confusion and ask,

What’s wrong? Why do you all look so awful? It was only mint!

They stand in front of me wide-eyed without saying a word.

I could feel myself turning pale.

Amma bursts out crying, “Lips.. her lips are turning purple. Call the doctor!

I feel the room spinning in circles and my legs feel like jelly. While being carried in Appa’s arms I see a faint light, a disheveled garden and Anima standing solemnly by the door holding onto rotten mint leaves.

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A simple chai

A misty morning.

I watch Ganesh get out of his gunny sack and stretch. The streets are wet due to the mist in the air. It must have been a pretty chilly night, I wonder how Ganesh manages to sleep every night on the street and wake up with a smile.

His wooden cart is always parked right by his side. Ganesh wakes up every morning and makes Adrak wali chai and hot badam milk with honey in his chai thela. I can never miss his garam chai every morning and on rainy days. We all have fond memories of drinking chai in the rain and I guess this is one of mine. Every time it rains, I run across the street to his thela and say,  “Ganesh, one hot ginger tea please..” and hand him ten rupees. He smilingly nods and gives me my sweet cup of tea which I sip and enjoy while watching the rain.

I do not know much about Ganesh, I’ve never given it a thought. I have always seen him selling chai opposite my house and all I know is that I associate my fond memories of growing up drinking badam milk and tea in the rain under his chai thela. He must be everyone’s favorite in the neighborhood, rich and poor stop by his stall to drink his tea. I wonder why I am giving it so much thought? I guess I am only thankful because every time I look at his stall I subconsciously smile. The little pleasures in life come from the simple things that people do towards humankind.

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Basket Full

At 8.52 AM, I left home to get to work. I need to walk a kilometer to get to the bus stop. A pretty sunny day so I walk faster to avoid getting tanned. A long walk uphill, carrying my bag of bricks on my back. Huffing and puffing, I finally reach my stop, hoping the bus to be on time.

The bus is supposed to arrive by 9.15 AM but it is never on time. Sometimes it’s early and sometimes it’s way too late. However, I am always on time, peasants such as me cannot afford to be late. It arrived by 9.25 AM, surprisingly the bus wasn’t crowded and I got a seat by the window. Today, seems to be a fine day!

People who take public transport would understand the importance of getting a seat in a bus. You need to pray, pray really hard for the bus to be less crowded so you can get a seat alone by the window. Now, praying for it to be empty is asking for too much!

Overcrowded buses are a nightmare, human life is very cheap here. Nobody finds it surprising to see people hanging from the doors of a moving bus. In fact, they find it disturbing to even look at something so unpleasant so they turn away as though it’s an open can of overspilling garbage.

Sometimes, it even becomes difficult to breathe in buses stuffed with humans, you get tossed around in the bus as more bodies come rushing towards you. You try to adjust your position and try to squeeze yourself, hoping you will shrink in size when the bus gets fuller, managing to balance yourself holding on to your heavy bag, while also keeping a careful watch of not being robbed or molested. However, today is not one of those days, today I will sit like a king on my throne and enjoy the view outside from the window.

While being stuck in a jam at a traffic signal, I notice two little girls selling marigold flowers by the corner of a street. Such innocent and happy faces they have, inviting busy bodies to come and buy their fresh yellow marigold flowers.

The girls are mostly ignored, some quieten them down with a wave of their hand, some ridicule the girls, and very few stopped by to buy. But, the girls didn’t really care, they are happy sitting next each other with a basket of flowers in front of their laps under the open sky. I watch them giggle, laugh at people passing by while also managing to sell flowers because they do not want to upset their parents who are just by their side.

They do not understand the meaning of hardship, they are content. No worries of the world can take those smiles away from them. I sat there in the bus admiring their joy and their simplicity, wishing the miseries of the world do not take away their innocence and beautiful smiles.

While I complain about the hardships of my life, I realize I have a job that pays me every month even when there is no work at times. Unlike the girls, who will have to sleep on an empty stomach if they do not manage to sell their basket full of marigold flowers.

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