Monday, November 26, 2012


(This story was written for the Urban Shots Yuva Competition, didn't get through but I really like what I managed writing. Hope you do as well.)

The Rubik’s Cube stuck in the middle of the sand cuts through - a tiny botch of colour surrounded by a sea of brown. I don’t know what appeals to me about this blob of colour. Is it because it breaks the monotony of the beach- that small little object catching the sun’s rays? It does look beautiful. But for how long can its beauty be admired? I mean after a while even watching a sunrise becomes a drag. That’s why we have the night.

It had been an insanely mundane day and somewhat I find these harder to get by than those super- charged tiring days. As I entered home it was as if I had entered a slow-burning oven. Long gone were the times when I’d get a hug or even a smile; now just the way Ma looked at me, with all that expectation shining in her eyes, it always started to bring me down. Was there no place I could go to be by myself? Be myself?
Where have you been, Natasha? Dinner was supposed to be served 20 minutes ago.”
The sharpness in her voice stung.

Coming in 10 minutes.

I replied equally strongly. I was going to pay for this later, I knew it.

I rushed into the dark comfort of my room. It almost felt as if I had entered another dimension- the warmth of the fairy lights, the view of the beach outside my window, the lingering smell from an unclosed Victoria Secret perfume bottle. Somehow, just entering my room was a complete mood changer. Do babies feel like this in their wombs, I wondered. They say that you might settle down in a hundred other places but your bedroom, and everything about it- that’s where one’s heart truly resides.

I look around my room with sudden nostalgia welling in my heart, it’s my happy place, and I knew ‘happy’ was a passing permanence. There were so many colours around- the soft board full of photos, messages, drawings, my very own jewellery collection, medals from my sport and dance events. In one corner, under the broken flap of my desk, there was Goolywog, my teddy, a few scraps with unfinished poems written on them, a ball of colourful threads, a small stub of a blunted pencil and, my precious pearl necklace – at least that’s what Alex claimed it was –“truly deeply freshly true pearl necklace” . I smile as I see them, Alex really treated me like a queen when he wanted to. But then that’s what those early infatuations assure- a promise of undying love - which suddenly dies when his eyes meet another’s which aren’t yours! Wonder where or with whom he was now.

There was so much life in these inanimate objects. Parts of me, after all - all lying in full view, but each with a story hidden in them, which only I knew. I wish I could just be up here forever. Just locked up in these stories....….

“Natasha! Do you need a special invitation? Dinner! Downstairs! Now!”

And I was pulled back from my happy reverie, the shock treatment of reality!

Dinner with family is supposed to be a happy affair, with food, cheer, conversation and love flowing around- it’s what Enid Blyton told me, years back. I scoffed as I thought of it: she should have met my family. It was almost like sitting with life- sized Dementors from Harry Potter- where’s the Patronus Charm when you need it?

“I asked you a question! Where were you at this time of the night?”

 That shrill voice of hers was really getting to me now.

“I was not out having sex on the beach, Mom or taking drugs for that matter. I just went out for a stroll on the beach and I lost track of….”


That was not totally unexpected but still threw me off balance. I sat there just looking at her, shamelessly.
My mind raced heatedly at a million miles an hour, and was reaching nowhere,, but I told myself “This too shall pass, this too shall pass.”
Life was just trying to break me down- with its show of control over me, with its constant questioning, with its ominous omnipresence. I ate in complete silence as Ma looked at me indignantly like an anger-spewing dragon.

The lasagna was actually delicious - maybe I should compliment her. Or maybe not, you never know she might think I was mocking her and get angrier. I tried focusing on everything but the pain. For the first time, I looked at my baby brother, Nascar, sitting, looking seriously at me, at the dinner table- for a little three-year old he was really silent! What a name to have - after a racing event! The boy will have trouble growing up. I am sure if he understood, he’d be throwing tantrums left, right and centre. Should this home be designated a Nazi camp?

At least I had a few hours of respite, when I went to college and then my own little time at the beach. Nascar, the poor brat had to bear Ma’s wrath 24*7. I stole a glimpse at the kid- his eyes were little glassy beads, There were no toys he played with, nothing! All he had was this little dino, which I had given to him - and he held onto it every night while sleeping.
It was a thought that brought a smile to my face. I loved seeing him sleep- it was as if he was finally happy.

Eons and eons of coastline lay before me now; I always slipped out of my window and came to this little place on the edge of the beach, open and protected with palm trees. I could sit here for hours and watch the world – sometimes only the stars - go by. I loved the feeling of water and sand run through my feet, like quicksand- it was like time was slipping away and I was trying hard to keep it, in between my toes. When I was here, I left behind all my problems, all my frustrations. Everything. Just happy to be. It was that place where I just sat and thought- about the way things were, the ways they could be, what they might become.

“If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, I bet they would live a lot differently.”
Hobbes was right when he’d said this to Calvin. It was a spectacle in itself. We had so much to be thankful for and yet we didn’t bother to appreciate it.. I sat there pondering, hearing the waves go by, keeping an eye out on the stars hanging like chandeliers in the sky overhead. I cared. Many people didn’t, but I did. I wondered if that meant anything.

Somewhere out there amongst those stars I saw my perfect world - up there! This existence here in these salty lanes of Margao seemed - forced, compulsory. I was a child of the sea, I did not belong to people or people did not somehow belong to me.

Would it have been different if Dad had been there?

I got Nascar here sometimes, but I don’t think he really was old enough to know why. I wish he did: maybe we could have talked about it. I missed a friend at times I suddenly felt pity for my brother. And my friends in the school, and my mom and everyone I knew- they were suddenly just pictures from a long book that I was living out. They had to put up with such a scary girl. I really felt sorry for them. A familiar feeling of hate, sorrow and pity welled up inside me again. I tried pushing it down, but it was overwhelming! I somehow blamed the state I was in on my dad- this life of a confused dreamer I was stuck in. Yes, it’s because of him. I feel my head go hot again and just as fast, the breeze from the sea counters it. I start thinking of him again, even after saying so much that I wouldn’t. I missed him, and today, I think I have to let go. There are times when you just have to. This is my time.

He looked out for me from somewhere. I knew he knew what I was up to and whether I was happy or not.
It was a pity my brother will not know him, he was a star of a man who made one bad mistake for which everyone was paying for eternity. I laughed at myself; I was such a mixed bag of emotions right now. But this battery of memories wasn’t going to stop until it ran its course...

He shouldn’t have left my mom for dead and ran away, with all the money, with someone, with us – by ironically leaving us behind. I will never know his reasons It was because of him that Ma had to shoulder all this responsibility and in trying to take care of her kids- she slowly turned into a control freak, behaving almost maniacally. She never let another guy even roam around me for fear that they might all turn out to be someone like my dad.

I couldn’t blame her either. She was being protective. Who could I blame? Someone who was a teenage girl’s very first knight in shining armor or someone whose aim was to protect and love. Who do I go to? Troubled times these, for someone, who was just another college student. And I was forced to leave such questions unanswered, more often than not.

But in my dreams, I revisited my Elysium- the house, the dinners, Nascar’s naughtiness, my life- everything that was a happy place once. But now the sea called. And I walked into it. I don’t know when I will stop.