Overpowering scents ruined the mood in her head. “Why must the priest fill the room with those sticks,” she complained in silence. As if the incense wasn’t bad enough, oversized flowers of the same type, added sickeningly strong odor to her nose. The people sat in white. She abhorred their chattiness. “Let’s get out of here, ” she said, proceeding to grab the frame from under everybody’s oblivious nose.
I stood there calling to you,
Not believing you were gone.
I cried and fed the others,
Without you standing there.
I still see you greeting me,
But then I see you lying like that.
Now I only wish to meet you,
And all my other children.
Wait for me with love,
Be there for me when it’s time.
They say you all wait at the gate,
We must be together again.
Her fingers brushed aside the tendrils of hair. They had seen their last bath a month ago. Her eyes looked ill from the inside and the outside. These eyes craved for happiness and sunlight. Her grayish lips looked like a cracked field of gravel. They had forgotten the taste of moisture. The toes traced a line on the mosaic tile, leaving behind blood from the ugly big toe.
The rice inside the roll required at least ten more minutes of cooking. Each bite of tomato tasted spoilt. Her thoughtful brownies resembled dirty mounds of mud. He pushed his plate away as she chewed the unappreciated meal. “How can a woman serve a meal like this?” He asked her before gulping down a bottle of water. She dropped her fork with no noise and said, “And how can a man not see how exhausted this woman is after 15 hours in the office and a homework session with the kids?”
Chiki Kangaroo was a good girl. She did her homework without any help. She ate her vegetables with no fuss. Her friends’ mothers all said, “Look at Chiki. She is so disciplined.” Chiki would smile and enjoy watching her classmates turn red with jealousy. Mother Kangaroo was proud of Chiki, but she did not like her thinking that she was better than the others.
“Chiki, you should be nicer to your friends.” “But, Mother, what have I done?” Mother Kangaroo tried to explain how Chiki should not like making her classmates jealous. “Chiki, sometimes you can thank the person offering you a kind word and say that everybody else is good too.” Chiki looked confused as she played with her brother who was peeping out of his pouch. She replied with a frown. “I’ve always been the sweetest girl in class,” she thought. Hearing she was wonderful was nothing new. It always happened. “So it must be true,” she said to herself.
One day, Father Kangaroo brought home a little game for Chiki. It looked like a tiny box with some buttons on it, and a small screen. “Here is a toy for you,” said Father Kangaroo. He told her to play with it after she finished her homework in the evenings.
Chiki Kangaroo could not wait to get her hands on the game. When she did, she didn’t want to stop. The screen was full of letters and had a little clock too. Chiki made word after word with the floating letters as she raced against time. She started writing down the scores. “I have to show this to everybody at school,” she decided.
The next day, Chiki Kangaroo showed the game to her classmates. Then she showed them the little piece of paper with her scores written on it. She made sure that all the aunties saw it too. “You are the best speller in class, right little Chiki?” Chiki Kangaroo grinned happily. “If only Kiran played such useful games instead of watching television,” said another aunty. Everybody was angry – except for Chiki Kangaroo.
At the dinner table, Father Kangaroo and Mother Kangaroo were upset. They were waiting for Chiki to stop playing her game and talk to them, but trying to beat her own Highest Score was keeping Chiki busy. She pressed each button excitedly, her eyes not blinking.
Suddenly, she leaped up and announced that her score was very high. Nobody looked interested. They continued to eat. Chiki Kangaroo looked sad. She wanted to hear them say that she was the best speller in the world!
The family went for a walk. Chiki joined them with her game. “You can take a break from the game,” her mother told her. Chiki shook her head, her fingers busy on the buttons.
As they turned into a dark corner of the neighbourhood where the lights were dim, Chiki Kangaroo almost fell down. She had missed a bump on the road. Father Kangaroo asked her to stop playing the game while they were walking. Chiki Kangaroo nodded and stopped playing – but just for a minute or two.
When they were almost home after the long walk, Chiki Kangaroo found herself and her new game in a puddle of mud. The game was ruined and Mother Kangaroo and Father Kangaroo were happy.
“See, Chiki? Everybody says that you are a good girl, but that doesn’t mean that you should stop listening to your parents,” they said. Chiki Kangaroo knew they were right. She said sorry and promised to listen next time.
This was in The Statesman yesterday.
The storm of words hit after days of a depressing lull. Too much sleep became no sleep at all. A few hundred hit the blankness, but seemed like unimportant drops of rain. She tried to stop but could not. It hurt to think everything could stop soon. Every detail whirled around her head until it came out in a gust. Twenty four hours later, the storm died leaving in its aftermath, 6000 telling words.