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Of A Painting

Ah, I haven’t been around here since what feels like an eternity. With exams catching up and newer avenues at college, I had little time to spare for the blog. But here, I’m back again! And this is a little poem that I wrote during the so-called break that I took. It’s an attempt at poetry after a long time. I’m looking forward to some feedback.

“an artist,
he couldn’t speak,
instead he could paint galaxies
on her sallow skin,
hurdled by a tone or two of olive,
caressing a silent picture of radiant starbeams
pressed against the little window.

an artist,
he couldn’t speak,
as her eyelids fluttered open to reveal harlot eyes,
soaking in his reflection in its translucence,
no dreams for the day,
only snapshots of wrinkled eyes and
a masterpiece underneath.

an artist,
he couldn’t speak,
so he rolled over to a corner which was darker;
quivering fingers pulled out a canvas,
and in a hurried stance,
overthrew the paint cans and brushes;
azure spread across the starbeams
gazing down on the floor.

an artist,
he couldn’t speak,
he gulped,
as he picked up a brush,
and stretched a stroke,
like Hunter’s belt across the eclipsed sky,
and watched her watch him with awe,
and his fingers ran over the board,
combusting.

an artist,
he couldn’t speak,
drawing stars and skin,
against hushed moans,
as her body arched
under his fingertips,
revealing a hint of crimson string
from under white, warped sheets,
and he pulled away for a second,
to capture her lips,
drifting closer to the shivering skin down her throat,
needing, wanting;
more.

an artist,
he couldn’t speak,
he saw the orange spreading across the purple sky,
and he heard her scintillating cries,
as her nails scraped against his hot skin,
breaths hitching, mingling, floating away,
and his hands found their way back to the masterpiece.

an artist,
he couldn’t speak,
yet he captured every word un-uttered, unsaid,
in the medley of iridescent colours
trickling down his brushes, slow and hesitant;
and beside him,
she gasped,
glimmering eyes staring into a rather colourful reflection,
and sighed.

an artist,
he couldn’t speak,
he knew she’d be gone by the dawn;
wrapped in white,
she dragged herself across the room,
and stood next to the window;
a silhouette of voluptuous curves and beauty,
with tangled locks of hair shining grey,
and lips parting,
to say goodbye.

an artist,
he couldn’t speak,
only nodded,
pushing the canvas further into the darkness,
beads of sweat clinging to the ends of his hair,
hesitance painted across his face;
and she walked to him,
and knelt down,
nails clawing across his bare thighs,
and stole a lingering, last kiss.

an artist,
he couldn’t speak,
he’d saved a shade a disastrous black;
when morning knocked and she was gone,
he pulled out the painting from mangled shadows,
and overturned the can of black paint
over the painting, once colourful and blue and grey,
and smiled.”

Image Credits- Internet

Of The Boy In The Corner Of The Class

I’d like to say that it started just like that, but then we’d all know that I’m lying. Nothing ever happens just like that. I believe it began when I was the shy, last bench girl who sat in a corner, hiding away from the rest of the class… and he was anything but a stereotype.

Often, he’d lean back in his chair and throw a glance at my direction while I’d be hiding my face behind the stray strands of my hair, tucking the hem of my skirt under my knees and biting my lips in random intervals. When I’d look up, often, I’d catch him staring at me, a pencil or pen poking out of his mouth and his eyes twinkling. Those would be awkward moments and I would be lying if I tell you that it was okay for me to catch a boy staring at me, especially when the boy was him – an enigma of his own.

With a mop of dark hair, curling against his nape, a few strands plastered to his forehead, and gleaming charcoal eyes, he was the kind of boy you found between the pages of some kindergarten sweetheart novel. His lips would curl into a smile whenever he spoke to anyone and I would find a slight grin force itself on my face as well when I saw him smile. When he would climb up the top of his desk and sit there, talking aloud to his friends and clapping them on their backs, I would find my eyes follow his every move.

Even during the most boring lessons of History, I’d find myself leaning back and forth to catch a glimpse of him four rows to my front. He was the only person in the class of forty who acknowledged my presence. Growing up, I had always been an awkward kid, finding it hard to pick up conversations. I was self-conscious, nervous and a lot more, like people had often pointed out, but he saw through that. He looked at me like he knew me forever. And I looked at him like I could never figure out what went through beneath his smile.

Each day, I would pass by his seat and wish he would say something. Only, he wouldn’t. Instead, his eyes would follow me as I would fumble with the books in my hand, breathing heavily, almost melting under his gaze. But never did we, for the first six months of the semester, pick up the courage to utter a word to each other.

However, one day, he did.

In the lunch break one day, when the class was empty and the corridors were abuzz, I found him walking inside the class. His hair was messed up and his shirt stuck against his lanky frame as he nearly staggered against his desk. Almost immediately, I gasped and his eyes wandered down the rows of benches and landed on me. They held something… not pain, not sorrow, but indescribable confusion, as if something was killing him inside, yet he was helpless. I expected him to turn away; instead, he smiled.

“Hi,” he mumbled.

That was how it began – a friendship. A friendship between two individuals who had so many stories to share.

Each lunch break, I would find him in the cafeteria, sitting in the middle of the room with his friends. When he would see me, he would lift his hand slowly and smile. Amidst the loud howls from the bunch of boys and his deeper voice, I spent the best few months of my school life.

Sometimes, when I’d have forgotten to bring some money in my bag, he’d push his tray towards me. Everything with him was like a script from a slow, black and white movie.

“Hey?” Sometimes, he’d put his hand on my shoulder and stare down into my eyes. Time stopped at that moment, for I found myself lost in the utter sincerity his eyes held. They held so much pain as well, but I was too young to dig deeper.

When I’d frown and grumble at something, he would turn and ask me if I was okay. Nobody did that. He would sit beside me for long, until I would tell him what’s wrong. He was the type of boy everyone wanted as a friend. When happy, he would have instant jokes up his sleeve. When sad, he would never tell anyone. And that was what I forgot. He never told anything, so I never asked. Or perhaps, I had been too occupied basking under the sunshine that I forgot to ask him at times, if he was okay.

With him, I was not the shy, quiet girl at the back of the class and he was not the quiet, serious, popular boy. We were so much more than that, with so many infinite stories to tell.

And one fine winter morning, with one incident, instead of our stories intertwining, we wrote different tales.

“Why wouldn’t you tell me what’s wrong?” I had told him that day. Frustrated with his lack of response and careless behavior, I had stomped out of the class, balling my fists and fighting tears. He had arrived late to the class with a slight sore on his chin and bruises on his face. I had been too angry because he wouldn’t tell me what was wrong.

That day, he didn’t look at me. His eyes didn’t glimmer like they did always. His face was cold. His eyes were dark. Something about him, scared me that day. And it was perhaps why I never walked back.

“Really?” I heard a group of girls talking in high-pitched tones. In fact, the whole cafeteria talked loudly about something… about someone. There were so many people talking at once, that I couldn’t catch the train of words – of where what began and what came to an end.

“He starves himself?”

“Are you kidding me?”

“But he’s a boy… anorexia? I mean I have heard girls do so, but he?”

“That is so awkward! He always seemed so strange to me!”

“Who? He caught him in the washroom, puking?”

“You are kidding me! I don’t believe this!”

“Seriously?”

“And what?”

“He was beaten up?”

“Seniors… I don’t understand.”

I didn’t keep a track of time of how long I sat in the sweaty cafeteria, hearing loud noises all around me. I knew who they were talking about, but a part of me refused to believe. A part of me was adamant and held on to the fact that it was just a rumour, but when things started getting clearer and details appeared, I couldn’t help but storm out of the cafeteria and run to him.

“Why?” I almost cried, but not because I was sad for him, but I wanted to know why he didn’t tell me.

“As if you could make things fine,” he retorted.

“B-But-” I struggled to say something, but words caught up in my throat.

We sat in silence. He played with the edges of his shirt while I sat, motionless and cold. In a mirror world, it was seen as if our roles were reversed. He was no longer that easy-going popular boy who had a solution to everything. And I was no longer the quiet girl. Staying in his company had given me an ounce of confidence. I had made many friends by then, but he remained in my books.

But that one day, I felt confused. I felt like every bit of energy had been soaked out of my body, leaving me with an empty feeling.

“Why do you do this?” I asked.

He shrugged his shoulders before leaning back against the chair and pulling out something from his back pocket.

“This,” he muttered, passing me an old photograph. There stood a little, chubby boy smiling giddily at the camera.

“That was me at some point,” he continued. “I was fat. I was ugly. The kids in the neighbourhood wouldn’t play with me. So, I wanted to become someone who would be loved. Someone people would admire.”

“You are!”

“Because I am this now,” he pointed at himself.

When I looked at him that day, I didn’t fail to notice how his shirt pressed against his flat chest and the way his collar bones stood out against his collar. That day, I didn’t fail to notice the many things that hid beneath his smile. Inside, he was hurting. Yet, he put on his best face, just to impress the world.

“It’s so embarrassing,” he said. “I thought nobody would ever find out.”

All those summers and springs melted in the pain that his eyes held. I felt betrayed. I felt almost useless, because even though I was so close to him, I could do nothing.

My lips quivered when he spoke the next words.

“I’ll leave.”

And just like that, he left.

No one saw him at school after that. But people talked about him. They said rude things. They told how pathetic it was.

And it was too much for me to hear.

So that one art class, when the teacher had not yet arrived, I screamed against the hushed whispers.

“He is not pathetic!” I cried. A string of gasps followed pin-drop silence. “It could happen to anyone! Anyone can feel bad about how they look. It’s only human! But when they feel low, when people around us feel low, isn’t it us who should pick them up and provide them strength? Why do you think it’s embarrassing? When girls starve themselves, we say it’s normal. But heck, boys want to look perfect too. Each one of us wants to lose a few pounds so that we can fit into out favourite dresses. Each one of us wants to be in perfect shape so that others won’t make fun of us. So, it isn’t awkward. It isn’t embarrassing. It is just that when a friend was hurting, we couldn’t help him. And now that he’s gone, instead of feeling guilty or sad, you speak so dirty things about him? It is you who is pathetic! Not he! He was perfect!”

When I sat down with a thud, I was crying. Tears ran down my cheeks and no matter how much I wiped them off, they were not stopping.

My eyes wandered over the desk and I found several drawings on them. He had a strange habit of scratching the tip of his pen against the furnished ply of the desk and make small, little pictures. Every time that I passed by his desk, I had a strong urge to run my hand over them, but the ink seemed so fresh, I was sure that it would only end of messing the pictures and making my hands dirty. But that day, I did.

With wet palms, sticky with the tears, I ran my quivering fingers over the drawings. I wanted them to fade away. I wanted all this to be a bad dream. But they didn’t smear. The ink didn’t smear. It had dried up. And they stared right at me, telling tall tales.

When the class was empty and people had left for their homes, I stayed behind. Pulling open a pen out of my bag, next to the stuff he had drawn,

I wrote:

In a race to fit in someone else’s books,

In a race to look finer,

Did we forget that we looked so much better just the way we are?

Did we forget to love ourselves first?

And when the school year finally came to an end, I prayed that someday, he would see this and smile to himself.

To this day, when I’m feeling low and down, I think of the wonderful memories we had and of the many more stories we could have had.

Of Returning Home

The train jerks to a halt, the metal wheels screeching against the rails, momentarily piercing through the drone of noises in the station. Picking up my duffel bag and grabbing the door handle to steady myself, I stare out at the maddening crowd of people all around.

Hawkers and taxi drivers and stationmasters and masses of men – it surprises me as to how the ground doesn’t crumble under their weight.

Stepping out of the train into the light of a scorching autumn sun, I take a moment to look around and breathe in the air. A smell if roasted peanuts coupled with a faint aroma of lemon oil teases the breeze.

Somewhere a hawker screams at the stray dogs that are running away with s piece of his bread. To my right, a coolie picks up the luggage of an old Lady, wincing under the weight of the blue suitcases. He complains and asks her to pay more as he starts walking, dragging the other bag behind him. Somewhere far away, a little boy sells newspapers, shrieking wildly, running after every person, hoping they’d buy a copy.

Silence is evasive as a xerox machine next to a shop, whirs and clicks, throwing sheets of paper all around. The owner shouts at the boy who is serving customers at the counter and he immediately comes to the rescue. Together, they slam the metal top to shut the machine.

Heels click against the gravel pavement. A little boy who us wearing a pair of oversized bunny slippers, jumps on every drying puddle, clapping his hands in excitement.

It is an unusually noisy Sunday.

But amidst all this, I find a deep sense of oblivion.

Nobody seems bothered. Everyone walks their own wat, occasionally stopping by to take a look here and there. Children hold on to their mothers, tight, while the men load the luggage into the train. Some people are leaving while some are returning back from where they had arrived.

As the evening air quietly blows, I can’t help but spread my arms and take a deep breath. It smells of home.

As if on cue, a frail man dressed in a pair of white pants and a grey shirt, approaches me.

“Madam ji,” he says. “Are you looking for a taxi?”

A slight gasp of surprise leaves my mouth as I withdraw my hands and shove them into the pockets of my overcoat.

“Why,yes!” I reply him after some time.

“Where to?” he asks but doesn’t wait for a reply. Instead, he picks up my bag and motions me to follow him.

“I’ve parked my taxi just there,” he talks as he manoeuvres around the people who’ve fallen asleep on the platform.

As we walk past the swirling rush of people, hearing a plethora of noises zooming into a drone, I can’t help but feel a strange peace within me. The noises don’t affect me.

With a slight spring in my steps, I walk out of the station into the slightly thick air of the parking lot. Every second fills my heart with profound happiness.

I watch him put my bags at the back of the car. Before he gets inside the taxi, he motions me to take the backseat.

Pulling open the door, I glance back at the station again. It seems as if it is moving away from me with each passing second.

Soon, I tell myself, I’ll be home. The little daisies in the garden will greet me and a bowl of corn soup will be waiting at the table.

Mom will be sitting in the living room, sipping in her usual cup of tea and flipping through the pages of some random magazine. Outside, on the street, my brother will be playing with his friends, crying in joy with the other children. And Dad will be glued to the TV screen, watching the latest political debate. They will be waiting for me. They will be calling to each other and sneaking glances at the clock, waiting for me to ring the bell. And when I will, they will rush to the door and hug me like there will be no tomorrow.

“Madam ji,” the driver’s gruff voice breaks me from my train of thought. “Where to?”

Slipping into the backseat and peeling down the windows, I feel the same air brush against my face again.

“Home,” I say and he smiles.

Of Not-Yous

…So one fine night, I asked her something.

“Have you ever had an instance in your life that has changed you?” I said.

“No,” she replied.

“Anything interesting or inspiring?” I pressed.

“No,” she said again.

“Something?” I asked.

She kept quiet. Her eyes wandered momentarily, staring into the far horizon. The evening sunset gleamed in her eyes.

“Interesting,” she mumbled. “My life has been way too interesting. I have been broken to pieces and have managed to glue it all together.”

Her reply surprised me. For all these years I had known her, she had never been like this – so lost. She had always been the bubbly teenager who knew what to speak and when; how to dress right and for what; how to live life and for whom. She was this tiny quantum of energy and never before had I heard her so … defeated.

“You don’t sound like you,” I told her.

“Wow, that’s new,” she said. “Why?”

I shrugged.

“It’s just that deep, dark, sad has never been you,” I said.

She sighed. A ghost of a smile flickered on her face. A sad smile.

“If only someone asked,” she said in a low whisper. I heard her, though.

Of Cooking For Dad

I’ll shamelessly confess that I don’t know how to cook.

Some people have at least the basic idea of cooking, but sadly, I have none.

The only thing I mange to cook with perfection is Maggi and yes, I do know how to make coffee (wouldn’t that be a serious travesty of logic if the person with a blog named “A Caffeinated Blog” doesn’t know how to make coffee!). But that is it. I can roll a dough but I make amoeboid shapes! Children love them, but sadly, Mom dumps them into the batter again and makes a fresh batch. Often, I question why does a roti (flatbread) or naan needs to have a round shape? It is pretty illogical, right? Why can’t we have square-shaped rotis and round slices of bread?

Now, I have a brother who is eternally hungry!

So the day Mom happened to call me up and tell me that they’d be late, my brother took it as an evil opportunity to force me into the kitchen and make him some food. He knows that I have zero cooking skills and I’m pretty sure it was a sick, little plan of his mischievous brain, but at the same time, I was bored and I really wanted to do something new!

So, I decided to cook!

(Yes, I can already see you clapping in appreciation. Why, thank you!)

Here, in my part of the world, we have dosas, which are basically pancakes made from rice flour and ground pulses, typically served with a spiced vegetable filling. Mom had the batter ready, resting in the fridge and I knew that all it took to make the dish was to pour some oil into a pan, pour the batter and somehow make a round shape out of it.

I had seen Mom making those numerous times and I was pretty sure it wasn’t such a tough job.

So, I did the same, that is – poured some oil into the pan, poured the batter and spread it with a spoon to make a remotely round shape.

Though I really hadn’t thought it would work, what happened two minutes later, surprised me.

I managed to make a picture perfect, delicious dosa!

Just when I had managed to lift it up from the pan and rest it on a plate, the doorbell rang and from the living room, my brother informed me that Mom and Dad had arrived.

See, now it happens that some times we are too shy. Sometimes, we are apprehensive while sharing some things with our parents and I believe that it is natural. So when Dad walked into the kitchen and asked me what I was up to, I really didn’t know how to tell him that I just cooked something. It was awkward.

“What are you doing in the kitchen?” Mom joined, hurriedly walking into the kitchen wondering if I had burnt something.

“Mom!” I cried when she spun me around to check if I was all right. This was getting too dramatic.

By then, Dad had pulled the plate from behind me and was already taking a bite of the dosa.

I kept my gaze low, waiting to hear what he had to say.

“You made this?” he asked.

Slowly, I nodded.

“This is so good! I can’t believe you made this,” he declared. “This is better than what your mom makes!”

“I prepared the batter!” Mom retorted.

“But she cooked it so beautifully!”

And when I had least expected it, he pulled me close into a small hug.

“My daughter has grown up so much!”

I had a tingling feeling at the pit of my stomach. My heart swelled with pride and it was almost a foreign feeling for I had never been so much happy. I hadn’t been looking forward to Dad praising me for what I made because I had presumed it would be bad, owing to my history of zero cooking skills, but no, it was great and Dad loved it! What could be a greater happiness than that?

True, little things can bring someone immense joy.

That night, as I sat at my desk, clicking a pen rapidly, thinking about what to write, the only thing that struck my mind was how Dad had praised me that evening. It was that giddy little feeling, tugging at the corners of my lips and I kept on breaking into small smiles. Every step I took felt like strokes in air. Every breath I took seemed so effortless.

The entire you-have-grown-up-so-much gave me an immense pleasure.

True, I had grown up from the nervous little kid who never tried anything new to an eighteen year old amateur cook!

Tears pricked the corners of my eyes. Happy tears they were. If Dad would’ve asked me to cook him anything else, I’d have gladly rushed into the kitchen and gave it a try, never mind those zero cooking skills.

That night, I learned the most important lesson of cooking – the first ingredient is love.

So, as I write this, I bite into the most delicious chocolate ice-cream that Dad bought me as a reward for the delicious dosa I made. Dad generally keeps telling us not to have ice-creams and chocolates because we are always eating that. And it surprised me when he happened to call me up and ask what ice-cream do I like the most!

“Why this?” I had asked, surprised.

“For cooking me such a lovely dish!” he had said.

And that was my biggest reward. Period. The ice-cream doesn’t sum up the happiness I feel.

And now I know, I am not that bad a cook!

Of The Boy I Wait For

Perhaps the best part about living in India, according to me, is the people you meet here. Tall and short, fair and tanned, rich and poor – all of then blend in such a beautiful harmony that it is like watching a sunset, slowly, and without your knowing, the orange and the purple and the white and the blue have drowned into the abyss of darkness, almost magically.

Like I’ve always said, I find every person to be truly fascinating. There is a hope in their eyes. They cry happy smiles as well as sad. And even without speaking or doing any significant thing, in a strange way, they manage to reach deep and touch your heart. You remember these people. You carry their stories with you. And once in a while, when you are lost, you remember them and smile.

I do that, every now and then as I remember the toothed smile of the frail, little boy who happened to stop by my house on Deepavali.

In his eyes, shone a winter wonderland of hope, as he watched the hundred firecrackers light up around him and bursting into a million stars. He looked at them like they painted the stars in the sky.

I watched him as he cautiously made his way towards us, stepping over the stiffened grass. His eyes kept darting back and forth, fear profound in them. He had no proper clothes for winter – no mittens, no socks – he walked with bare feet. His shirt had a torn sleeve and his trousers barely fell up to his ankles. Yet, the cold didn’t bother him.

For minutes, he stood behind Dad’s car, watching us. Until, Dad spotted him and called him to join us.

I will never forget the sheer joy that spread across his face, the instant he heard Dad call him. For a moment, he looked around to see if he was actually being called. His smile was brighter than those million lights that shone in the cityscape.

He almost cried in joy when Dad offered him a phuljhari (a cracker). I had seen his lips quiver.

He watched in awe – lights, big and small, blue and red, white and dead – as if the world he was seeing was surreal.

The firework that went up at that moment – showering the night sky with showers of light – didn’t snap me out of my trance. I was too busy watching him clap his hands and jump up in joy.

It was strange – of how a thing as small as a cracker, could brighten up this boy’s life. Just because we lived a life so plentiful, did we forget to find happiness in those little things?

When the noises started dying down and every cracker was burnt, I saw his shoulders fall. A bittersweet expression clouded his face as he looked around and watched people retreat back into their houses. I wondered if it made him sad that the night was finally coming to an end.

Almost instinctively, I walked to him and knelt down before his tiny figure.

“You want more crackers?” I asked.

Slowly, he nodded his head, almost afraid.

I pushed the few packets of crackers I had been holding from the very start, into his little hands. At first, he was too surprised. Then, he smiled.

And his smile was so sincere and so beautiful that my heart swelled with joy. I remembered that there had been a few stray packets lying in my brother’s room.

“Wait here!” I told him. “I’ll bring you more.”

Perhaps I should have waited to hear his reply.

When I returned, hugging an entire box, he was gone.

Setting down the box, with scrunched eyebrows, I looked frantically, searching for him. I looked down the street but it was as empty as it had ever been. There were no noises around – no free spirited cries of the happy boy, no sound of thumping feet – no him.

To this day, I question myself – why did he leave? To this day, every year, on Deepavali, I wait for that little boy to stop by again.

At times, I think about him and find little tears prick at the corners of my eyes. At those times, I can only hope he remembers me, as well.

The Rain That Never Came

The sweet-smelling dust of a scorching May evening settled in front of Daya’s house. The blistering sun had dipped down beneath the horizon, the salmon sky sporting a canopy of faint grey clouds which never rained. As the darkness spread its veil over the land, the clouds seemed to be devoured into the night, replaced by a sprinkle of stars. The clouds brought with them, a little spark of hope- a hope that led farmers like Daya to believe that it would rain that night. When it didn’t, they felt their hearts wrenched out till it shed the last drop of blood. This type of hope was dangerous, for it brought them happy dreams and later pushed them into the dungeons of delusion.

 That evening was no different.

 Daya sat in front of his house, on top of the weak bamboo fence that had cost him a small fortune.

When his old father had passed away, the land in front of their dingy hut had been passed on to him. With high hopes and brimming dreams, he had taken out his broken bicycle with the bent wheel frame and leather-less seat and rode to the marketplace where he had brought five fences to cover either side of his land.

 On his way back from the marketplace, he had stopped at the moneylender Govind ji’s house and asked him for a little bit of money to buy the seeds and the fertilizers. When the scrawny, greedy man with a bald head had hesitated, Daya had told him about the piece of fertile land he had inherited and how it would reap the gold. With eyes on the little land, the moneylender had given some money to Daya.

 It was strange how things had suddenly started favouring him. He had money. He had the land. He had the spirits. And he had a bundle of hopes that he was going to make it big. Perhaps, they might appoint him as a member of the Farmer’s Association in their little town of Kaman. For a man who had spent almost half of his life doing odd jobs on another person’s land, even six feet of earth meant a lot to him.

 That very evening, the rains had come lashing down on the little village, quenching the thirst of the parched soil. The rain had drenched the flamboyant trees and their leaves had turned a shade brighter. Little saplings were awoken from their slumber and they greeted the silver sheets of rain as it crashed deafeningly on the thatched roof of Daya’s hut. In a matter of few minutes, the sky had gone from an eloquent blue to an ominous shade of gravel grey.

 Daya and his wife had sat in a corner of their little hut, escaping the dripping droplets of rain. As occasional flashes of lightning lit up the dark sky, Daya had felt a uncontainable joy at the pit of his heart. Oh, how he would plant the radishes and carrots and potatoes in this little land! Oh, how generous were the lords to bring them a spell of showers in early summer! It certainly meant something good, didn’t it? Daya’s poor human heart exploited his hopes with richer thoughts.

 Daya had tilled his land with viral enthusiasm, singing songs in merry stupor and buying his wife a brocaded silk saree from the market. When his wife had complained, he had asked her not to worry for they were going to be rich! Such were his hopes that it drove him into a frenzy.

 Each night he had gone to sleep, smelling the rain that lingered in the air and the canopy of stars in the desert night sky.

 However, only the smell of rain had lingered. It never came down in a glorious downpour. It never kissed his land and never brought it back to life. It doused off all his dreams, zoning them out into oblivion.

 How he had waited for the rain! How he had waited for his hopes to come back!

 Two dry months.

 And it hadn’t rained.

 The last traces of summer wind waltzed past him, creeping into his lonely house where his pale wife lay, bathed in the glorious light of the evening that trickled in through the little windows. The same saree, that  Daya had given her months ago, was wrapped around her in a careless fashion, rough knots of her unwashed, dark hair drowning into the creases of the fabric.

 The sound of a little bird rose and fell with the wind, the wispy clouds clearing from the sky to make way for the stars.

 The chilly desert air had taken its toll, but it did nothing to the restless, thirsty throats of the couple who hadn’t eaten for a week. The land in front of their house had cracked open. The little saplings that Daya had planted had withered away, leaving no trace behind.

 A faint light from the lantern flickered inside his house and smelling the scent of the burnt wick and the smoked glass, Daya turned around to see the same, obliterated by the rapidly darkening night. The darkness of the moment devoured his sanity, transforming him into a madman.

 Everything had started chalking his doom.

 When he had visited the mukhiya the other day, he had waved Daya off. At a time when drought had taken over the land, there was very little anyone could do for anybody.

 The greedy, heartless moneylender had come to his house, demanding him to return the money. Poor Daya could only give him the brass utensils and a pair of bronze bangles that belonged to his wife. Although the man had his eyes set on the piece of land, he left, knowing that the land wouldn’t be of any use as the drought had set in.

 There was nothing left in the house. Only two pitchers of clear water stayed in a desolate corner of the house, staring at the agony of the helpless couple.

 Daya jumped off the fence and started making his way inside his little abode. The tatters, he wore were unwashed, and covered with freckles of dirt and his bony chest glistened as the low light of the lantern hit him. His wife sat leaning against the mud wall, her hand on her head, wondering if they were suffering because of some sin they had committed in their previous lives.

Oh, the heartbreaking explanations we resort to!

 The things that had seemed to be going so well had instantly stopped, driving their ripened dreams into an unfathomable dead-end. Life was a brute, wasn’t it? And so was the restless human heart that held on to the withering thread of hope, thinking that one day or the other, radiance shall come through the pain.

 Daya staggered down beside his wife, crawling up to the bed and leaning against it. Staring at the faint darkness that was interrupted by the light from the night sky, he let out a hollow laugh.

 “It will rain!” he cried in feverish excitement. “We will grow everything on our land! We will be rich! Everyone will look up to us!”

 A slight sob escaped his wife’s lips.

 On a dull, summer night, when the moon was high up in the sky, a blissful cry erupted from somewhere, the breeze carrying its echoes into forgettable corners of the land.

 From nowhere, the air became thick with moisture, the rain-laden breeze calling out to the people of the land. A clammy haze of rain spread across the land, hiding the moon and the stars somewhere behind their drapes.

 Tiny drops of rain splattered across the unpaved paths, clearing out the sand and trickling in between the cracks. A few drops trickled into Daya’s house through the thatched roof and landed on their limp bodies. If only they had held on to that hope for a little more.

 The next morning, all the people of the land knew was that, the drought had driven yet another farmer to his death. No one sympathized. They blamed it on fate and they blamed it the sins the poor couple had probably committed in their previous lives. No one blamed the rain. No one blamed the drought. For them, it had become an everyday phenomenon, waking up each day to hear how a couple of farmers had given up. They stared at their abject poverty and prayed it didn’t happen to them.

 It rained for the next few days as well.

 If only Daya was alive to see the same. If only…