they drank till their slight touches turned into slaps, and repeated their favourite line, ‘tu haan kar, ya naa kar, tu hai meri kiran.’
translation: ‘even if you say yes, or no, you are my kiran.’
my uncles liked having loud conversations,
they liked keeping count,
of how many people survived,
and of how many died,
they liked arguing over policies,
capitalist or communist,
conservative or socialist,
as if the leaders involved were just by passers,
diplomats in their monarchical world,
they liked to talk while chewing,
often spitting in each other's plates,
secretly staring verma aunty up and down,
her liberal mind was too much to bear,
some days were worse than others,
for they drank till their slight touches turned into slaps,
and repeated their favourite line,
'tu haan kar,
ya naa kar,
tu hai meri kiran,'
over and over again, every single time.
my uncles liked to take names,
calling the pakistani traitors,
and the bangladeshi bastards,
sharma uncle would always say that our politicians were corrupt,
that the strikes were staged,
and the roads were never built,
for the taxes we paid were rather used,
for their luxurious spa treatments,
and sarees of silk,
but he never dared to speak,
of the tea stained rupee notes that he slid,
to the man with stars on his vardi,
nor of the abundant notes he gave to his son's principal,
and how he just forgot to mention they were farsi.
but the women in our family,
well they never spoke,
they'd clear the tables,
throw away the seeds on the orange peels,
tidy up the washbasin,
while uncles smoked their pipes and went to sleep,
although they weren't literate enough to read,
and their lips remained steadily shut,
their ears always perked up,
for they longed to hear of a day,
when the headlines would talk about their win,
and the misogynists' defeat,
the day they could be the ones commenting on medha pathkar's feminist ideals,
and the outspoken female who only won one seat,
they would continue to scrub the spots of the dhotis which smelled like mrs.sharma,
and put cotton on their swollen bruises,
they would continue to nod and say 'no matter,'
and then leave to take care of chores,
for whether or not china chose to avenge itself,
whether or not the workers staged their strikes,
whether or not policemen took bribes,
they'd have to grow barley and pluck their weeds,
uncle would continue to come home at 11,
although the security guard said he left at 7,
friday evening dinners would still turn into political campaigns for the parties which paid more,
for even if the economy slows down,
and all those endangered are gone,
manages to go on.
“For maybe, the wolf is in love with the moon, and each month it cries for a love it will never reach, and maybe the moon is in love with the sun, and each night it longs for a love it will never touch.”
Before this vast world started swarming with the undying human race, it was just a dim forest. A forest as dark as death’s eye, and as gloomy as a graveyard on a wet Sunday. Until Solis came. Solis was a gift from the gods, a gift to the creatures who resided in the mystical forest. He sang harmonious songs, which were so bright and melodious, that they ignited the correct path for those who lost their way in that enchanting yet, forgotten forest. But alas, no matter how much one tried, no one was ever able to even catch a glimpse of the rumoured to be divine looking Solis. Until Luna lost her way. Luna had been on her way to the huge Venus tree. She went there once a year, just to pluck those alluring white flowers. The white flowers complimented her complexion which was as white as they were. Luna had been strolling around, without thinking about which way she was going. She was too busy day dreaming about the gorgeous flowers she was going to have in her palms in a few hours. Then the speculated happened, and Luna didn’t know where she was. She had heard a lot about Solis, and often heard his faint singing when someone near her lost their way. But this was the first time she had lost her way, although it wasn’t something she wished for, she was keen on hearing Solis’ oh so soothing voice, so she called for him, “Solis, I have lost my way, could you please lead me to the Venus tree?” Luna waited for a few minutes, and then she heard a gentle voice, which gradually grew into the most remarkable voices she had ever heard. It took Solis just a few minutes to highlight the correct path she had to go in with a bright sparkling golden light. Luna, slightly disappointed that his song ended, thanked Solis. But before leaving, she didn’t hesitate to ask him why he never showed himself. To which he replied with the most adorable chuckle Luna had ever heard and said “It’s what the gods have commanded me to do.” Luna was puzzled and longed to know more, hence she asked him what would happen if he showed himself. She waited for a reply, but none came. Maybe he had gone with the wind, possibly to help another lost soul. Instead of collecting those white flowers, Luna now had another desire. She was bound to catch a sight of Solis. She set on a long journey to look for him. When she heard even the slightest sound of his voice, she would go running into its direction, only to be greeted with nothingness. One day she heard him singing, and this time it felt as if he was extremely close to her. She grabbed her things and went running into the direction of the voice. This time, she wasn’t greeted with nothingness, but instead a hairy man, with sharp features. She silently approached him and asked him in a faint voice – “Are you Solis?” The man chuckled, sounding nothing like Solis. “Of course not, I’m just another lost man who he has succeeded to guide in the right direction. If I’m not wrong, you must be another soul trying to look for him, but bound to fail to do so?” Luna scoffed, and said “I am not just another person trying to look for him, I am determined to find him and I will not fail in doing so.” The man was fascinated by her perseverant personality, and said “If this is so, I am obliged to help you. What is your good name, young lady?” Although Luna disliked the gentleman, she really could use some help and hence, introduced herself. He told her his name was Lupus, and together they continued their hunt for Solis. For many days, they looked for him. They tried to summon him while pretending to lose their way, but nothing worked. Once, Luna could have sworn that she saw Solis’s golden hair before he disappeared into darkness. One day, Lupus said – “This isn’t working Luna, we need to think of a better plan instead of chasing him.” The truth was, that Lupus wanted to leave Luna a long time ago, but he had fallen in love with Luna’s personality and her stunning looks. He wasn’t interested in finding Solis, but he knew how much Luna wanted to and although it hurt him, he knew she adored Solis. “Well, what else can we do? I don’t think there is any other way,” said Luna. Lupus sat down, and began to think ways to trick Solis into showing himself. He thought about why the gods had sent him on this earth, and suddenly it hit him. “Luna! If we summon Solis, and tell him to guide us to him, then he will have to show himself!” “And why would he show himself just because we ask him to?” “Because he has been ordered to! Remember, Solis is obliged to guide every creature to whichever way direction they want to. He cannot say no, because its his duty,” I told Luna. Luna excitedly started jumping around, and after she had calmed down, we took our plan forward. As per our wish, Solis came and when we told him our destination, he said with hesitation in his voice – “ But I am not supposed to show myself to you creatures,” To which Luna replied, “Its your duty to guide us to our destination, and you must do so.” Solis then quietly showed himself. Luna saw him and gasped. He had god like features, which were glowing because of the shimmering golden light surround his body. He carried a mysterious aura around him, which made him stand out from everybody else. Luna had never seen someone so charming and beguiling before. His intense gaze glimmered into her lost eyes. Unfortunately, all good things don’t last forever. Before any of them had time to say anything, thunder and lightning struck out of nowhere. The thunder seemed to crack the air, as if the very heavens might split apart, which sort of happened. An enormous figure appeared, with huge features, and a body ten times the normal size. “SOLIS! I COMMANDED YOU TO NEVER SHOW YOUR FACE TO ANY CREATURE, WHY HAVE YOU DISOBEYED ME?” Solis replied in a scared tone – “Oh lord, they asked me to guide them to me, and as it’s my duty to do so, I was obliged to show myself.” God was outraged, and announced- “NEVERTHELESS, YOU ALL DESERVED TO BE CURSED FOR MAKING SUCH A FOOLISH MISTAKE.” They all gasped, and begged for forgiveness, but of course god was too angered to feel any amount of sympathy for us. He began again, “FIRSTLY, SOLIS YOU ARE FORBIDDEN TO STEP FOOT IN THIS LAND AGAIN. YOU WILL NOW STAY IN THE SKY AND PROVIDE LIGHT TO THE CREATURES DURING THE DAY.” “SECOND, LUNA AS YOU ARE IN LOVE WITH SOLIS. YOU ARE FORBIDDEN TO EVER BE ABLE TO TOUCH HIM AGAIN, AND YOU WILL NOW STAY IN THE SKY AND PROVIDE LIGHT TO THE CREATURES DURING THE NIGHT. AS SOLIS WILL DRIFT FROM THE EARTH, YOU WILL ENTER WITHOUT COMING CLOSE TO HIM.” “AND AS FOR YOU, LUPUS. YOU WERE THE MAIN CAUSE OF THIS. AS YOU ARE IN LOVE WITH LUNA, I PUNISH YOU TO STAY IN THIS LAND FOREVER ALONE. EVERY MONTH YOU WILL CRY FOR HER BUT YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO REACH HER.” Then the god left, after destroying the love they had. Luna cried tears upon hearing the curse and created the stars. Lupus looked at Luna one last time and said, “I will look for you among the stars,” and disappeared. ‘Solis’ which is Latin for Sun, became the source of light for the creatures during the day. When it set, then came ‘Luna’, Latin for Moon, she lightened up the world during the night. Providing them with hope, even during the darkest of times, just like her persona. Lupus, Latin for ‘wolf’ remained forever alone, and once a month, tried to jump and reach the moon while howling loudly for its love. “For maybe, the wolf is in love with the moon, and each month it cries for a love it will never reach, and maybe the moon is in love with the sun, and each night it longs for a love it will never touch.”
I guess that maybe, I’m not the only flawed one here. For we are more alike, than we are unlike.
I stared at the person in the mirror. The person was me, but also not me. Messy hair, face filled with acne, too thin, big nose, I had so many flaws. I tried to remind myself that looks do not define who I am but oh well, society thinks they do. It’s as if society tells us to be who we are but in a certain way. The way I look doesn’t fit their beauty standards. My hair is a part of me that I’ve always despised. My eyes too. They are two things that I think are my most flawed physical traits. My eyes are too big and dark, and I have absolutely no eyelashes. My hair is always too curly and messy, and a little too dark. My sister stands beside me, at least two inches taller. I’ve always adored her hair, straight and blonde. I continue staring at my reflection, it’s a new habit I’ve developed. Its as if I judge myself so that others don’t have to. After glaring at myself for five minutes, something hits me. It’s quite obvious but I’ve never realized it before. My eyes and my hair; two things that I hate, are the exact same colour. They are both dark brown. I stare at my huge eyes, and then at my long hair, and then my eyes, and then my hair and so on. Without realizing I say it out aloud – “My eyes and my hair are the same colour, ugh I hate them so much.” My sister faintly chuckles and says “You know, this is how we humans are. We judge each other and only spot our flaws. We fail to notice the one thing that brings us together. That is, how alike we are. In one way or another, no matter how diverse and flawed we all are, at the end we’re still human. It’s one similarity no one can change or take away from us. Sometimes we just get too busy hating on others and talking about their flaws that we forget how similar we are. Humanity brings us all together. For there is unity in diversity. I hope you know sister, that no matter how much you may despise your flaws, they still are what make us all alike.” I don’t show it, but I am deeply affected by what my sister just said. I guess we all will always be the same no matter what. I guess that maybe, I’m not the only flawed one here. For we are more alike, than we are unlike.
An entirely fictional, but at the same time – real short story.
I catch a last glimpse of my home and my city – Copenhagen, once so stunning and lively, now in ruins and lifeless. I then take a deep breath. Say goodbye to my home and enter the underground tunnel. I run to wherever the tunnel takes me. Hopefully, where the wild things are.
I can feel it coming. It begins with the clouds whispering within themselves, whispers which lead to aggressive arguments. It can strike any moment. Maybe after every three seconds, maybe ten or even thirty. It’s like the future; impossible to predict. And then it does strike, a flash of brightness in the sky which is as dark as a coal miner’s handkerchief. Throughout, the wind screams rather than howling. It’s uncontrollable and powerful enough to turn grasses into seas. The gusty wind blows through my hair, touches my skin and soul, makes me feel alive, like I’ve never felt before. It is wild and free, something I wish to become one day. The clouds continue to argue. Their anger boils and it seems like they’re about to burst any second, and then they do.
A shower of tears; rain. The rain washes the world, and brings a sense of calmness to me, which can never be found elsewhere. The pitter – patter sound is soothing, unlike the frightening thunder. This storm has come out of nowhere, without any warning, just like the soldiers. The storm will go but, the soldiers won’t. War is coming. I have to escape, I have to go through the storm. They say that “when you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in”. Well that’s how storm and war are similar. In was we find out who we are and how strong we can become. Soldiers are all around, they have stopped us from roaming around in our own home. I see them, screaming and pushing everybody into their homes. The tall, fair, muscular man shouts something to the others in German, and so it begins. Rifles are pulled, and firing starts. Anybody who tries to rebel or argue with them is shot straight to the heart. The scene is horrifying. How can a human be so cruel to another human. All of the soldiers look deadly and scary. I take a brief glance at all the bodies lying on the ground; lifeless. I see women, men, children; crying. Some sobbing for the loss of their loved ones, and some crying for just everything happening to them – getting tortured for being Jewish and getting trapped in their own country isn’t exactly a delightful experience.
I can already imagine what the days ahead are going to be filled with – food shortages, no electricity, curfew. We’re stuck in between a war, and this wasn’t our choice. I feel bad for leaving the people of my city behind, I wish I could save them, but as they say “During war, only you can save yourself.” I catch a last glimpse of my home and my city – Copenhagen, once so stunning and lively, now in ruins and lifeless. I then take a deep breath. Say goodbye to my home and enter the underground tunnel. I run to wherever it takes me. Hopefully, where the wild things are.