The dim light of the small room and door that walled them from the noise around was not enough to halt the sea of reflections and memories that came like a deluge in her mind. He turned up and queried, “What are you thinking? Don’t hide anything from me. I know you in and out.” She smiled and took his hand in hers and said, “I wondered what it is like to be unlucky and be destined to suffer?” She wanted to suffer no more, rather climb against the series of unfortunate episodes. Born as an optimist, growing as a pessimist, life was more than a topsy-turvy ride for her. She loved life, and life, too, loved her; but it was unpredictable.
She reflects and thinks, “The day when I can shed this cloak of tradition and rediscover the wonders of life, then I shall redeem myself as a free soul. Free from all shackles … this tethered soul will wander and moon around in search of that haven where ‘I am what I am’. I don’t want to carry the borrowed clothes, but want to stitch my own, free from the bondages of obligations and responsibilities. These thoughts hanged around my neck like dead albatross.” For her, life has been always about tragedies and unimagined incidents, where clouds of happiness were seldom visible.
Nightmares were her closest pals; she knew them like the other side of her palm. Every day when she woke up, she knew that if she didn’t desert and flee away from all the chores rottening her mind and making her sick slowly and steadily now, she shall never be able to get hold of another opportunity. By now, symbols and rituals forced on her body and mind have already wounded her sub-consciousness. And, even a surgery cannot transmute those pallid-looking injuries into a normal-looking skin. Everyday like a night watchman she guarded her body from a known intruder, who never sought permission while breaking the sovereignty of her body. She often wondered, “When was the last time she slept and had dreamt of a land as beautiful as that on the glossy cover of Alice in Wonderland?” Last time when she enjoyed sleeping was at a remote village, where she had gone for a trip with her friends. Everything looked as fresh as the morning dew, joy overwhelmed her veins, and she looked prettier than ever before.

When the show was over, she got incarcerated once again, in-between the wolves and hyenas, feasting over the death and destruction of someone’s individuality. She cried, sobbed, and cribbed heavily. Also, she tried to pack her bags to escape from the clunk of the house, which was imposing its self-created rules. Death always looked nearer than dreams, which far from being cherished were dissolving with the time into an unknown and irredeemable zone. She often asked herself, “Whether education has turned her into a Frankenstein? Like the monster in Frankenstein, she, too, turned to her creator to challenge him for creating her and forgetting his responsibilities. She yearned for murdering his evil soul that killed innumerable imaginations of a young and innocent girl. The dagger with which he had murdered those dreams was never thrown away. Forgiveness was not an option, since the dagger always remained with him in his favorite closet. The closet from where he always picked up his favorite weapons and ideas for making his dependents as vulnerable as the terminally sick patient in the last stage of death. Burning the closet was always a secret desire. And, poisoning his food a prime goal. But something held her away from murdering someone who created her. As usual she woke up and watered the not-so-happy plants, watched the television that had made her more sick than anything else, in-between a volley of abuses were thrown to remind that ‘you are still in a prison’.

It’s never easy to pen down everything from the backyard of one’s memory. There are moments that keep coming in our imaginations and dreams. Then, it becomes impossible to grow away from such bondages. We can never be free. Probably, we all have gone through such incomprehensive feelings. She had never planned her life in the manner it had taken shape. The ride was smooth till it lost its control over brakes and got a new driver for the journey. Death of her mother was still haunting her and disturbing her mind. The morning she succumbed to death, she construed it as her deliverance. Deliverance from her irresponsible man for whom she shed tears every day and night, from her kids whom she raised in all odds to only hear unbearable words while at the deathbed, from the society where all biases and prejudices were hurled upon her and her family, and relatives who treated her as an enemy. To suffer and bear the brunt of this odd society has a limit. Wounded by the society and her family, she also suffered a lot from ennui. She wanted to have fun and enjoy as others have and are pretending to, but death seemed an easy way to escape from all sufferings. People who earlier fought like savages descended with their bags and baggage to shed and mock over our sadistic destiny. In-between this unbearable maze of confusion, like a selfish whore she gulped down a pint of vodka with her unreliable colleagues. The guilt never gripped her consciousness, till few years had passed, and she realized the loss that can never be compensated by anyone. Images or apparitions of her dead mother haunted her. She saw her in her night gown, breathing heavily, with eyes welling up with tears she, every now and then, called for her kids. She scolded her for being such a selfish and disoriented child. She sobbed like a child that day. Till now she hasn’t found rest or peace from those frightening and haunting images.
With an unopened mind and unknocked heart, she rented a small studio room in one of the slimmest street with not-so-busy people around. A room whose windows were never opened, a balcony that had no admirer, and the resident who only showed up, now and then, like the phantom. People hardly knew them— she and her painter partner, its here that she decided to disconnect. Disconnection from the masses and connection with silence was needed like an elixir. A room with scattered gadgets, books and newspapers, cloths that rest on a shelf of books, a painting of a nude woman lying upside down again resting on a table adorned with books, medicines, pens, and periodicals—this way she connected and tried to solve the maze of her life. The only talisman of an unresolved maze is physical chaos but mental unity. This spontaneous disconnection colored her mind, clouded till now with frustration, with new hopes and dreams—-coming in different packages. Words passing like jet planes around her in her day job were ignored like always. Hence to feel that forgotten bondage with nature and body, she picked her bag and started travelling to unknown destinations and paths. For hours she stared and silently conversed with the Sun that punctually showed up in the east side of her bus stop. The unprecedented growth of speed, crowd, sweat, smoke, wealth, and ego around her was making her lunatic. The heart was passing through a whirlpool of chaotic and incomprehensible doubts. To rest forever, seems to be the right choice than living in a hell changing its shape and attribute every second. At least, death can be defined and just one word is enough to describe it, i.e., end—end from all abuses, sarcasms, ego clashes, violence, doubts, etc.

Hope was an over-exaggerated word for her, dreams were useless like the scrap but there was naturally no escape, and success was Greek to her. Sometimes, she kept aside her mind with strict instructions to lead her life with no daily doses of frustrations. Disconnection as a therapy was proving beneficial. With so many conversations happening in her heart, she had no energy left to answer to the conversations of people who begin with a query and also end with a query. Her new day job was not as killing as the earlier one, marking red marks on the copies of other authors bored her. She just wanted to kick everything and write out-worldly. The artist waited for her and cooked for her whenever and wherever he got hold of time. At night, sleeping around each other’s arms, they shared their regrets and plans to make their life more relaxing than taxing. They shared kisses, saliva, and the bed for making love—the only activity that saved their souls from dying every day. It was like a medicine for their disappointed souls, looking for immunity from the communicable diseases of the society. The whole society is plagued by such diseases, souls around us are ravaged, some have genetically modified their hearts to live happily, but people like them had decided to fight back.

Fancy cinema halls were mushrooming everywhere, newspapers shared gossips and fun, television was already part of the scrap, and food outlets were ensuring happiness if only you ‘Can shell out money as demanded’—pay for being happy’. But she didn’t have money, so she is not supposed to be happy. Another reason for disconnection was to avoid addiction to this happiness. After we are robbed for this happiness, we feel free and empowered also. This microscopic view of the society was irritating her. Was disconnection making her mad, definitely, no! Yet in his absence, she tossed in the bed, wondering when the fruit shall ripe and she can relish a bite. Broken home and a family that always fought like wild cats, squeaking at each other, she failed to have her passport and other cards. She also never knew what it is like to have a permanent roof; she had borne the travails of weather, constantly shifted from one house to another, and borne the brunt of humiliation and embarrassment. Before she escaped with the painter, she never had her own room, where she could enjoy her own nudity. Those masturbating moments saved her from succumbing to death.

However the key question still remains unanswered: When and how she wants to change her destiny? She wanted to pick her stars and put them as per her wish. She wanted to play with her stars and arrange them accordingly. In dreams, she dreamt and dreamt about her unfulfilled wishes. She wanted to fly and see the world, die in the lap of history. Wake up late on an island, walk nude in-between the forest, and talk to deers and flowers. She wanted to burn all rituals and create a planet of her own where all rumor mills are shut forever.

Toxicity of dreaming gripped her mind; she penned down her each and every dream. She quit the land of moral restraints and migrated to an island where rules of heart ruled. The outlet for all her frustration was through her words: words of heart penned down in a paper, where each word had its own identity and cried aloud for identification. Each word described her pain and wrath about everything. Each writing and the good love with the artist made her grow profusely. She detested the idea of getting acquainted with the reality – reality pains like the guilt factor in our hearts. Who cares for the reality and practicality? She walked all alone in the crowd, conversed all alone, but she was happy!

She hugged him and said, “Now I am free!” That day they made love as wilds as in the wild. She panted heavily and said, “I want to die, die for words and you. I want to sleep near a stream with no known intruder within my reach. I want to lie naked in the forest and speak to my soul. I want to wash off this thick patch of drama from my face. I want to live in a hut and sleep forever with you, feeling the warmth of your body. I want to dream and dream forever… I want to cry like a baby and sleep like a wood.”

A short story by Hither kusum