Wednesday, July 19, 2006

New beginnings and old pasts



He'd just married her. Untouched still. They had been packed hurriedly to an almost stomping, impatient train. Rather it was his impatience, to be alone with her.

Summer months are dry. They kinda dry up conversations too. His carefully planned dialogues, ones that were to draw her out, impress her to how witty her husband was, tell her about the politics- just a little. They had all the time to discuss that in detail later. When she would rub his tired legs from doing nothing the whole day...

She sat, timid and terrified. This being her first journey anywhere. And especially into the unknown.

She hoped her husband would be kind. Not like Latha's or even Padma's. Rather like Annie's, the kind who would smuggle the strong smell of flowers in plastic bags and weave it onto her hair. Then they would hold hands and ....How childish were her thoughts, she scolded herself. She was married. And married women didn't think of flowers or swings or holding hands. What happened after that was quite vague, but her mother had promised her that all her answers were in the cookbook. That was her forte. Just the right amount of color, spice, salt and sugar. Concentrate on that and your life is almost made out. She clutched the stylish handbag her uncle had given her- as part of a present.

It had nothing except a comb, few lace handkerchiefs and a crushed rose. The crushed rose, being what she had picked up after her ex-lover had dramatically thrown it. Shhh... He was in the past. One mustn’t think of such sinful thoughts.

He bought her the rice and dal that was served in aluminum foiled packs. She wanted to save those shiny foils, but they were way too greasy and they would stain her handkerchiefs. She wouldn't use those lacy wonders even when she had a terrible cold. She'd take them out when they went out for the parties. Matching them with her new sarees. She hugged her dreams to herself.

Did we check if she could talk, he wondered frantically. He'd never heard her open her mouth all the while. Or if she did, it was in the louder noise of trumpets and relatives at the wedding. But his confidence in his tyrant of a mother was more than his fears. She must have checked to the last little digit!

"Aren't you sleepy?” he asked her.

She nodded in the negative. This was cause for concern. Maybe his mother slipped...

"Well, I am going to retire for the night", he sounded as pompous as he felt.

Her eyes widened in admiration. He sounded like the curled-greased-oiled-moustache hero in the only movie she'd seen. She remembered every frame of it. Especially the stolen kisses. Shhh... She banished the sins again.

Changing into checkered pajamas, he told her, "I'll see you in bed and only then sleep."

She waited not sure of what that meant.

"Do you have anything to change into? Something more comfortable perhaps?"

She clutched her silk saree tighter. There was no way she was removing that.

She nodded her head in the negative. This was cause for alarm. He pushed down the panic that seemed to rise with every passing monologue.

"Which berth do you wanna take? Would the middle one be too high for you?"

She smiled thinking of the number of trees of dizzying height that she'd climbed.

He caught her smile.

She nodded.

"No. Speak. Let me hear your voice” he insisted.

The train's rhythmic beat, conversations from neighboring coupes, the whir of the fan and the whoosh of the wind was all that hovered around his ears and in front of her lips for a few seconds.

Voice demure with fright and lack of use, she murmured, "I'll take the middle one. Thank you very much"

It felt like music to his ears. She could speak!

She hoped she sounded sophisticated. She hoped he heard the thank-you parts. She'd practiced them to almost Scarlett O'Hara perfection.

29 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very cute. Welcome change for you and us...

1:40 AM  
Blogger mathew said...

It felt like music to his ears. She could speak!

Lol!!!

beautiful flow just like prose!!

2:35 AM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Anon: I don't think I mentioned anywhere that I needed a change!

Mathew: He he! Thank you! :)

4:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey.................
As usual...........
Great..............

4:52 AM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Anon: As usual, thank you! :)

6:38 AM  
Anonymous Inbha said...

Gosh... Almost read all your blogs and fell in love with its simplicity. Great work Poorni. I almost felt like turning the pages of my diary sometimes. You inspire me a lot.

11:39 PM  
Blogger Lazy strokes said...

1. Couldn't help finding a few cliches here and there...
2. Your attempt to break away from the independent modern girl characterisation is rather uninspiring...
3. The guy in the piece is a shadow, soul-less.

U know, just... ;)

11:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Totallly unexpected dudette!!!
and that txt!! outrageous :p
spoke to S day before yest...u guys been busy getting famous eh! ;D

2:12 AM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Inbha: Thank you! :))

Lazy Strokes: I know.

Sharat: I got a mail from the big boss saying that!!!!!!

5:44 AM  
Blogger sp said...

Cool ! I like your prose more than the verses.

But do I smell a whiff of sarcasm here; are we being judgemental here? :-)Maybe not, maybe I am reading too much into things.

Is this part of the book you are writing?

11:49 AM  
Blogger sp said...

"And practised them to almost Scarlett o Hara perfection. " Aptly put ! Good to find a fellow GWTW fan.

There is another reader of your blog, a friend of mine, who will be delighted to see the reference to Scarlett here.

11:53 AM  
Blogger sparsh said...

Too sweet:)...pls add some spice in the next one...lol...beggers can't be choosers, I almost forgot!!!Nice...
-A

7:34 PM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Prasanna: I write like the way I read! Putting my fingers in too many pies! But yes, this does have a long-term continuation! And the GWTW fan, woman?

Sparsh: Oh, there is gonna be more of it and hopefully not so tame!

8:33 AM  
Blogger Dev Nair said...

She is a modern feminist's nightmare

4:45 AM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Dev: The time frame is slightly older than recent times. Say 25 yrs before.

10:22 PM  
Blogger A.G.Sudarshan said...

seems like a romanticized text of an uncle/aunt's anecdote of the train journey after their marriage (15-20 yrs back i.e.)

U know something like: "I didn't even know if ur aunt could speak.. hahaha... the first time I heard her speak when she said she'll take the middle berth.. hahaha"

So on and so forth... :)

3:16 AM  
Blogger dharmabum said...

wanted to share my space with u -

www.debum.blogspot.com

read it, and u'll probably guess who this is :)

3:57 AM  
Blogger Dhanush said...

Well .. I wrote about them getting separated on a train and you about their first journey together. Beautiful craft.

Its really a great feeling when you here the first words from your loved ones, at least you felt me think so.

Nice post.

4:40 AM  
Blogger Pritika Gupta said...

very cute.. liked it

5:22 AM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Sudarshan: Lol! Ok- I get the pic. Lets see how it develops! :)

Dharmabums: The only person I know with the name Dharma, well... u, her?

Dhanush: Love is a long way away! :)

Pritika: Thank Q!

5:31 AM  
Blogger dharmabum said...

poornima, how does it matter who it is?

12:44 AM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Dharma: Since it was you who asked me to take a guess, I did.

1:48 AM  
Anonymous Aparna said...

You made me drift a decade or two backwards.

Thanks!I gotto to know of my mom's days :)

4:56 PM  
Blogger Shinu Mathew said...

Poornima,
It's an excellent piece of writing. You have successfully captured the mood of a newly wed, village girl migrating to the unknown. And the mood of an arranged marriage.
Well written. I can feel the words.

9:41 PM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Aparna: Ask your mom. She may have some interesting stories to tell too! :)

Shinu: Am glad you like it! :)

9:53 PM  
Anonymous Bakfire said...

Has been reading your posts for quite sometime. change is inevitable ..isnt it ?

7:39 AM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Bakfire: Nothing is permanent but change said someone and I so agree.

10:09 PM  
Anonymous Bakfire said...

Its also quite nice in not changing at all, If its all ready beautiful.

10:29 AM  
Blogger Poornima said...

Bakfire: Sadly that never happens. Else it would all have been blissful childhood forever!

10:05 PM  

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