July 31, 2014

Jayamma's Bangles - Part 2

Naani loved jumping in the puddles. However, today she was in no mood. She avoided them and stepped onto the pavement. She took the longest route yet  her house seemed to have appeared sooner.
Jayamma who was waiting for her rushed to her.
"Did you find him?"
"No, Ammamma. I looked for him in every street" Naani exaggerated. Jayamma was getting restless.
"Did you ask anyone if they have seen him?"
"I did. I asked Venkanna from who we bought the bananas. He said taata took the 5.30 bus to the town."
"He did?"
Naani nodded her head. Jayamma knew it. She knew it all along. She knew her efforts would be futile.  Her eyes filled with tears. Naani went inside quietly to change her wet clothes.

That night Naani lied down on the folding cot under the open sky and waited for Jayamma to come to her. The unusual activity made her tired and counting the stars; Naani slept off. It was past midnight when she felt a small chill and looked for the blanket that normally rested at her feet. She didn't find one. She didn't find her ammamma too next to her. She woke up to go and get the blanket. Jayamma was sleeping alone inside. Naani went and snuggled her.

Naani woke up late the next morning. It was second Saturday which meant two holidays and more playing with Sumathi. But today did not feel like a holiday. Ammamma was quieter than usual. Today she did not even have breakfast. Naani felt sad. In a small voice, she called “Ammamma”.
“Ummm..” There was a moan kind of whisper from Jayamma.
“Will taata come tonight?"
"No”, answered ammamma almost to herself. It was as though ammamma knew that taata wouldn't come home that night.
Ammamma when will he return?", she asked dread filling her insides. She no longer felt like having breakfast.
Jayamma replied, "Monday Morning"
"How do you know?"
"You will see for yourself"
 Naani nodded and tried to understand.

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Finally, it was Monday morning. Naani was brushing her teeth in their backyard when she heard the clank of the gate. Happily she ran. Her taata was right there. Ammamma was right all along!
"Taata is here!". She shouted, her mouth still full of toothpaste. But something was not right. His clothes were untidy.  Not just untidy, he looked shabby and dirty.
"Taata, where were you?" Little did she realize that he was half deaf. He smiled at her and went inside. Naani was surprised that Jayamma didn't say anything to him. She did not even look happy to see taata back.
She ran and tugged at her sari. "Ammammataata is home". Jayamma was silent. "Ammamma, taata is home".
"I  know, said Jayamma silently”.
"You were looking for him on Friday. He is home now".
"I know".
Naani didn't know what else to say. The silence was awkward. She slowly went and picked her books to write. She watched her taata brush, shave and go to the bathroom. Naani saw Jayamma rummaging through his dirty clothes. She went from pocket to pocket, only to find it empty. He came out with a towel wrapped around and switched on the iron.
Jayamma lifted the dirty dhoti with a stick and dangled it in front of him. "What is this?" Naani couldn't help laughing at her ammamma's sarcasm. Her taata yanked it away in a jerk. Naani felt scared.
Wearing a clean white dhoti, he walked out. Out of the same iron gate where she had been hanging for the past three days waiting for taata to return in big long strides. On the soft muddy roads hardening after the rain.
Jayamma slumped onto the floor and leaned against the gas cylinder in the corner of the kitchen. Naani ran inside. She knew her ammamma was about to cry. She was scared when elders cried. She wanted to hug her ammamma, tightly. Something drew her back. She stood there, silently. Jayamma held her last pair of gold bangles with her fingers loosely as if she was going to drop them any moment.

The house was filled with silence and it made Naani awkward. The same awkward silence Naani felt half an hour back. She bent her head pretending not having seen anything. But deep inside, she wanted to run. Somewhere where there was no silence. Where her taata didn't disappear on the Friday before second Saturdays, and she didn't have to run to the bus stand to fetch him, where her taata didn't come back with dirty dhoti and a stench on Monday mornings. Where ammamma didn't have to stare at the crumpled bills from the Kirana (Grocery) store and the current office with trembling hands, where ammamma would be wearing her last pair of bangles and not holding them between her fingers. Naani wished her taata never went to the clubs and spend his entire salary playing cards.

P.S: A special thanks to Sridevi Datta in helping me do a wonderful job in completing my first short story. Thank you for all your time.

36 comments:

  1. Latha, I loved the way the story took shape, Naani's innocence shone through the harsh realities of life. However, I wish you had been more specific in the concluding para about what had happened, although I could guess. But of course that's just me..I'm a little dense and like to explain myself more :-)

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    1. Thank you so much Uma, for the constructive criticism. Really appreciate your suggestion. Honestly, I wasn't happy with the ending either and I didn't like any other endings too. So, I stuck with what I initially had in mind. I added a line at the end to avoid confusions. :) Will try to improvise from now...

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  2. Captivating story and a great first attempt, Latha. Loved the detailing and you have captured the emotions so beautifully too. Well done! Looking forward to read more stories from you :)

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    1. Aww...thank you so much Shilpa. Your words of encouragement means a lot me. And now this kind of set an expectation for me to do even better work than this. I hope I will be able to write more :)

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  3. What a terribly sad ending! And you did a fine job of narrating the tale. My heart went out to Naani!

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    1. Thank you so much dear. A praise from you means a lot to me. My heart went for Jayamma :)

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  4. A great first attempt at story writing. The interest is maintained till the end. Congrats. Looking forward for more stories .

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    1. Thanks a lot, Usha ji. It is readers like you who keep encouraging me in improving my writing abilities. :)

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  5. Ah that's sad. Really really sad. Loved the way you narrated the story through Naani's eyes. Can't believe this is a first attempt :-0 Great going. Keep writing more :-)

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    1. :-) Thank you for reading, Ashwini. I wish to write more too....let us see how it goes.

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  6. What a lovely story, Latha. Poignant and beautifully narrated. Feeling so proud of you.

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    1. When I read your comment, I felt as if a member of my family said that. I'm honored :-)

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  7. That was a very well narrated story ..
    You kept the reader guessing all the while as to where the story is heading and that subtle one line ending said it all .. Well done!

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    1. Really? you know Aarthy, when I started writing it, I had no clue how I would end it. The concept was ready but not the ending :-) It's been long seeing you here. Hope you are doing good.

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  8. Thank god it ended the way it did. I was imagining all kinds of stuff :) I loved the way you have narrated the story from Naani's pov with the innocence and helplessness of a child coming through so well. The reality of many rural and small town families has been depicted nicely.

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    1. Hahaha...or else which way did you think it would end? So, did it end in one of the two ways you thought it will? Thank you BM for the complimenting comment :) Coming from a writer like yourself, it surely is a big thing for me. True, it is a cycle...

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  9. oh well,this is quite a surprise.But see how our shenanigans affect children--you brought it out excellently.
    Love.

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    1. I thought you must have half guessed it, aunty. Thank you for reading. Lots of love to you too.

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  10. I read both parts one after the other. So poignant and so beautifully narrated !

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    1. oh Thank you so much Ruchira. Welcome here!

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  11. oh no .. but that is the reality . I know as I came from a small village and saw it often.. thankfully my nana was not like that although he spent days away from home.. :)

    I am sad that the little one had to see all this


    Bikram's

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    1. Glad you had a good nana...Many nanas I know are not bad either...but some are there like this...:)

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  12. Latha this was a very touching narrative! Enjoyed the read and hope you will write more such stories:)

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    1. Thank you Rahul sir. Glad you liked it. Hmm writing more stories, I have to think about it. My first try and it didn't turn out bad :) so, have to try writing more :)

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  13. Quite an interesting story, Latha. A very refreshing change to some of the usual types that we read these days. It was touching, poignant and narrated reasonably well. Sometimes we don't realise how our behaviour affects little kids. You've tackled that element really well.

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    1. You are right, Sid. The deeds of elders affect kids in many ways than we know. Those are real words of encouragement from a gripping fiction writer like yourself to a novice like me :) Thank you again.

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  14. This was a lovely story... and it is true, sometimes we do not realize how our behaviours affect children... they watch and absorb and we have no idea how it has been interpreted..

    This is my first time here, hope to stop by more often :)

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    1. Welcome here, Sita :) Can't agree to you better. Hope to see you more...thank you for reading.

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  15. This was a refreshing story, Prudhvi. When it comes from the heart, it connects.
    Fiction is not easy to write, I know it.

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    1. True, Alka. Fiction is not so easy to write as we think. Hats off to all the writers out there who churn out stories so easily :) And yes, this is a story very close to my heart.

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  16. That's a brilliant first attempt!! Kudos to Sridevi for helping you through it! You couldn't have found a better teacher!

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    1. Yep, you are right. And thank you for that wonderful comment.

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  17. Oh, story of many families. Some drink, some gamble.

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  18. That was very good Latha. I enjoyed it fully. Sridevi has mentored you well :)

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Jas. Thank you for your words of encouragement. Yes, she did a great job...didn't she?

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