Her new friend at the mall

The victim

When she staggered into the listless café, it sprung to life. The serving girl rushed towards her. The man engrossed in his laptop screen was perturbed enough to shut the laptop. Even the impatient diva stopped tapping the table and twisted her handkerchief instead. It wasn’t the girl’s beauty, but her tattered appearance which attracted the attention.

Her dishevelled clothes, the torn right sleeve near the biceps, makeup smudged with tears, and the scattered hair on the forehead failed to hide the fresh wound—the perfect appearance of shattered innocence.

“Help me,” she said clutching the edge of the coffee table for support.

A nauseating smell preceded the man who dashed soon after her. His stinky clothes, unkempt beard, and pinpoint pupils told his story. The man looked around before his eyes found her surrounded by the rest of the occupants. As he moved towards the girl, she shrieked.

“Please don’t let him…he…he’s the one….”

The man stopped in his tracks staring at her accusing finger, at the diva now calling the cops. He backed towards the door, and ran.

“He killed my boyfriend,” the girl said, staring at his fleeing form.

Her choice of the secluded cafe was perfect, more so the choice of the victim—a junkie. He had all the attributes of a fall guy.

An evening on the beach

Every place you visit will leave its mark on you. The place changes a little bit of you; sometimes it’s so subtle that you don’t even realise it. At times, the place becomes a turning point of your life. I don’t know whether it’s the atmosphere, people or the rocks and sand but something in place will click with a part of you.

Hampi taught me humility. Beaches always cheer me up. But of all the beaches I visited, Varkala will always be special to me.

When I visited Varkala, I was happy because it was the first time, I was out after the pandemic started. But, my thoughts were in chaos. I had no idea what I wanted. There were so many questions, and no answers. And so many fears, the foremost was of committing to the wrong person. As I take commitments very seriously, this was a big thing for me.

And there I was, on the Varkala beach, waves sweeping up my legs, trying their best to climb higher and soak me as much as they can. The sand under my feet was giving away to the pressure of the water, my toes digging deep to stand still without falling. The people around playing in the water, swimming, yelling. In short, total chaos. Neither I nor my thoughts were calm. But, I still had a decision to make in another day.

The best way was to stick to my usual habits. No major changes, nothing to worry. As I walked along the shore, I realised my comfort zone was changing. I couldn’t stick to my regular life without feeling a sense of regret. But, I also was afraid of diving into an uncertain future. The waves kept splashing, thoughts kept bouncing in my head, and then as the setting sun drowned in the sea, I knew.

There was more peace to found in the uncertainty than in my comfort zone. My heart felt like the calm sea beyond the waves. I realised I cannot let the transient fear dictate my actions. I needed to look beyond the fears to what I really feel. And my decision was made.

I wanted to spend the rest of my life with the guy next to me.

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loss of innocence

lie after lie uncovered

a cynic is born

Senryu is a poem styled like haiku (5-7-5 syllables in three lines) but where as haiku is based on nature, senryu comments on foibles of human nature.

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The girl in the mirror

There’s a girl in my mirror.
She used to be my ray of light—
a happy and confident girl—
every time I looked at her,
she gave me hope to live.

Now the girl’s grown, and lost her glow;
no spark in her eyes,
or life in her smile.
But, I still look at her
to give her the boost she needs
to get her through the day.

Our roles are reversed; she’s the one
in the dumps, and I am the one who cheers.
Yet I can’t stop looking at her
for she’s still  my friend—
the only one who stayed.

© K.A. Acharya 2021

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When betrayal hung in the air

She stood there in her balcony, watching the view—the lush greenery, a lone house between the trees, a fluttering myna, the sun shining through the trees. Everything guaranteed to make her heart soar, and her soul happy.

Not anymore.

Joy had been sucked out of her life.

The mesmerizing nature had lost its enchantment. Now, she couldn’t even see it. It was like a background, which was present but went unnoticed.

She only saw the ongoing construction work on the side. The continuous whirring of the cutter, the thud thud of the hammer, the piercing sparks from the welding, and the dust particles scattered in the air appealed to her. It was just like her life—drudgery.

She was left with questions, which kept ringing in her head. The questions that every betrayed person asked. Why? Why did he lie? Why would he do this to her? Did he ever think her beautiful? Did he even care a little bit? And so on.

She felt, the answers would help her heal. Poor thing, she did not realise it was her leftover innocence that was thinking this.

To her misfortune, he answered. “But, I was kidding. How would I know you would take it seriously?”

All the love he showered, the I love yous, the promises he made, and every other word of love that came out of his mouth was a jest. And she had thought he cared. So, was her life a joke? But, it didn’t feel funny. Maybe because she had no sense of humour. After all, he had a hearty laugh when he answered her.

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*After a streak of positivity (4 Alexa posts) it seems like a bit too much sad. But, that’s life. Life is like a wave. If you have reached the top, you are bound to hit the bottom before rising again. I wanted to reflect that balance in my alexa posts.

Finding Yourself

When you are little, you can live life with full zest. Every activity you do, you are completely yourself. And people find it cute. You seem to get away with everything.

As you grow you realise, that what you say is not always what people understand. Then, in order to connect with others, you start forfeiting a part of yourself. Sometimes, this goes to an extent, that you start losing yourself. You can’t really connect to your true self. Though it is still you, it’s a completely transformed sophisticated you, not the same kid who used to live in abandon delight. That is when you need a journey to self-discovery to find that little kid. Because, that kid is the true source of your happiness.

Sadly, we all neither have enough time nor money to go on a long journey of such kind. But that doesn’t mean, we can’t find ourselves. Every long journey is made of small steps, and we can all make small trips to our hearts. The easiest way to find ourselves is amidst nature.

Nature at its raw has a mesmerising effect on our souls. It strips us of all the artifices, and shows us glimpses of who we really are. For me, it has been water—be it the splashing waterfalls, the calm river, the waving sea.

I cannot resist the lure of water. It calls the child in me. It reminds me of racing after the bubbles to catch them all, memories of spraying water over your sibling, soaking in the rain (in spite of wearing a raincoat; no way you’re not letting the rain in by opening a button or two), and jumping in the water puddle.

What is your way of getting back to yourself?

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Sitting by my window

I sit in a room by the window. A lovely scene greets me. Various varieties of trees of different heights, and lush leaves lined along the stone paved path. The trees are so fresh, and colourful, but no fragrance. Or maybe it’s my congestion, which prevents me from soaking in the smells. The reddish morning sun is peeping through the trees. Cars parked here and there. Asbestos roofs lined over the makeshift centre created at the entrance—coloured roofs—red, yellow and white in not so organized pattern, but still appealing to the eyes. The white walled permanent entrance with brown thatched roofs. I can feel like, I’m at some hotel/resort watching out. An occasional car makes an entry. Then, a screeching siren of the coming ambulance serves a reminder. I’m not at some hotel.

My room has nothing but bare minimum facilities. The plaster of the pastel walls is falling. The windows have stains, a glass pane is broken. The floors are clean, but there are cobwebs here. Even the cleaners are scared to stay for a long time in covid wards to merit a thorough cleaning. This is a hospital. People come here for serious reasons.

I have a roommate too. A nice woman, though we can’t speak to each other except through gestures. She only speaks Malayalam; I can’t yet. That is why, I can’t speak to anyone here. Or understand them. The nurse has to bring another nurse with her for translation. But that doesn’t stop anyone here from being helpful. Language is only a barrier when you want to use it as an excuse. Kindness on the other hand transcends all barriers. This kindness helps me maintain my optimism for humanity.

I keep receiving messages and calls from my loved ones. Anxious calls, worried calls, caring calls. Talking with them again makes me forget where I am. It envelopes me with a feeling of warmth. It’s like always; people close to you giving you advise. It’s as endearing as it is annoying. And my newly acquired husband messages and calls. Then, I’m 100 % sure, this isn’t a vacation. No way would I go on a holiday without him. It does make me feel lonely, but as someone (I can’t remember who, now) has said, “absence makes the heart grow fonder” so it’s a good thing, right?

All these people remind me that I’m loved. And where there is love, there is no place for sadness or worry.

I don’t know if this post qualifies as connecting with nature. But, connecting I am, with myself, with my dear ones, and with human nature in general. And the view from my window; it’s really lovely, just like a nature resort.

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This wasn’t in my original plan for #MyFriendAlexa, but this is the only one I can write now. And I haven’t written any posts beforehand, so this has to do.

The Missing Stars

“Twinkle, twinkle little stars,

How I wonder where they are?”

These were the lines that ran through Rinku’s mind when adults talked about stars. OK, the stars were lovely, even beautiful. But they were not many. Just ten. Maybe twelve. One night, there were as many as twenty. That was the maximum she had counted. And she could count up to seventy. So, why did adults call them countless, she wondered. Could these old people not count till twenty? That couldn’t be true. Her mom was one of them. And Mom could count till thousands, and a lot more. After all, she was the one, who taught Rinku to count.

She decided that this must be one of the many strange fantasies that adults have. Whenever, anyone talked about infinite stars, she nodded her head as if it was some wonderful mystery. But that was about to change. This time, Mom had gone too far. She had enrolled them for stargazing. Stargazing! A whole night! How long can one look at a dozen stars? Rinku gave a firm negative answer. No way was she wasting a whole night on stars. That too on a weekend. She had better plans. She would invite Soni, her best friend for a sleepover. They could watch Finding Nemo, or The Jungle Book. She could watch Finding Nemo ten times instead of counting the same stars a dozen times in a night.

When Rinku called her friend to invite her for the sleepover, she got a shock. Mom was many steps ahead of her. She had already invited Soni, and Soni had accepted it.

“But, why would we want to waste a Saturday night on stars?” Rinku protested.

Soni appeared not to have heard her. “Oh, a whole night outside. No night curfew. Can you believe it?” she was gushing on as if Rinku’s mom had given her a magic marker.

Rinku gave up, but she was not going to forgive her mom. She was going to be miserable, and let Mom see her misery. Mom needed to know that she had ruined her daughter’s weekend.

Stargazing was at a far off remote area. Some place called Saguna Baug. They had to travel via a train first, and then take a bus. Mom was of the opinion they would reach sooner this way. The train journey wasn’t that bad. Soni was awestruck by the huge crowd, though they were informed the train was supposedly empty that day. Rinku sulked all through the journey. She didn’t laugh at the baby across from her. She could not afford to do that. She had to prove a point. However, she did give the baby a smile.

Moreover, she had decided, she wasn’t going to look at the sky at all. Not even one glance. That way Mom would feel bad for dragging her to that God forsaken place. She intently stared at her feet throughout the next bus journey, and the pebbled path after she got down. After the registrations were done, she settled on the mattress, Mom had laid down for them, and proceeded to stare at her lap. Specifically, at the design of her handkerchief. Mom refused to give her a mobile. It was supposed to be their electronic free time or some such thing. She wasn’t even interested in the welcome drink or cookies. She ignored her friend and her happy chatter as well. Rinku was lost in her thoughts about how she hoped a tiger came at the place, and scared everyone away. She had seen enough trees on the road to merit such a wild possibility. After some attempts to cajole her, Mom gave up, and chatted with Soni.

Soon, darkness set in. Rinku was brought out of her reverie by her friend’s squeals. “Look stars. Look Rinku, so many stars,” Soni yelled, and at the same time pulled Rinku’s hand. Rinku pushed her friend away, but Soni persisted.” Rinku, look up,” she said. She tried pushing Rinku’s forehead down, so that her friend would see up. Rinku shut her eyes tight.

Rinku’s mom interrupted. “Soni, let Rinku be. She can’t count them anyway. You know how bad she is at numbers,” she said. This was not true. Rinku was good at numbers. Soni knew it too. Rinku would have ignored the deliberate provocation had neighbouring lady not interfered saying ” my son is the same.” Rinku could not have her mom telling strangers lies about her. She was going to count all the stars. And it wouldn’t take her above a minute.

Rinku opened her eyes, and was mesmerised. The sky was completely filled with twinkling dots. They were so many unlike the meagre few outside her house. She was bewildered.

“Are there always so many stars in the sky?” she asked her mom.

“Of course, sweetheart. Don’t you just love them?” Mom answered.

Rinku did love them, but she was confused. “Then, why do we see only a few from our terrace?” she asked.

Mom held her close, and said, “because of light pollution. Stars can be seen only in the dark. When there’s too much light, they aren’t visible. Cities have too much light, so you can’t see them in the city sky.”

Rinku looked around at the trees glowing in the night sky full of twinkling stars, and wished she didn’t have to live in a city.

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© K.A. Acharya 2021