A SIMPLE SORRY

The doorbell rang once, then twice and thrice in quick succession. I burst through the doors as soon as they opened, shaking myself dry. The rain was falling in sheets as if to complement my sour mood. I’d just had a big fight with my friend which involved a lot of cursing and shouting. To top it all off, I’d pushed her into the mud and was gone before she could get up. My mother asked me what was wrong and it all came pouring out- how it was all her fault and I had done the right thing. She made me sit down and explained calmly that no matter what had happened, I should apologise for pushing her.

I’ve heard this argument at least a thousand times till now-how apologising makes you the bigger person, how you should learn to forgive and forget. It didn’t make a lot of sense to me back then and things haven’t changed over the years. I judge people within seconds of meeting them, and most of the opinions I form are harsh. And if they do anything to even remotely justify my thoughts, I rant about it to whoever is listening. My parents no longer explain things to me “calmly” and I blame them for not taking their daughter’s side in everything. Sometimes I say sorry, but it doesn’t reach my eyes, so I don’t think anyone is buying it. I have a gift of being unfazed by everything happening around me. You may think I’ve been very rude to you, but chances are that I haven’t attached any importance to the incident and am blissfully ignorant of your anger. I’ve seen people giving “sorry notes” to their friends with a chocolate inside it. What’s the logic? Are you trying to win them over with food? Does putting it down in writing help you feel better? Why invest so much time over such a silly thing? All this was before I joined college and lived in a hostel for the first time. There is something very different about living with someone other than your parents. You form such deep-rooted friendships that they start feeling like family. I was still the same, forming opinions about all my roommates as soon as I met them, rude as ever. But as they turned into friends from roommates, I finally understood why people apologise. You don’t apologise to make yourself feel better, you do it out of love or respect for someone. It’s alright to set your ego aside if it makes someone happy. You write “sorry notes” because the person is important to you. The apologies don’t come easily, but at least I’m trying. I guess some things can never be taught, you have to realise them on your own. Maybe this is what growing up is all about?

 

                                                                                                                -Sonal Mahanta

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JUST ANOTHER DAY

The rooster’s crow at the crack of dawn signalled the beginning of yet another day in the small village which Sameer called home. Sameer was a middle-aged guy who lived with his mother on the outskirts of a town. Tending to his fields and feeding the cattle were the only worries he had. He’d lived his entire life in the same village and had no extraordinary expectations from it. Following his mundane routine, he sat with a newspaper in one hand and a cup of tea in another. The headlines announced that the election results were due that day. Sameer’s indifference to this piece of news mainly stemmed from the fact that there hadn’t been much of a fair voting in the first place. Everyone knew it was rigged and it would be a miracle if the ruling party lost. This was because the opposition party was too scared to contest elections in most of the places due to numerous threats. Thus, Sameer’s few moments of pity was taken over by his usual apathy.
Sameer jolted awake from his afternoon siesta, hearing sounds of commotion outside his house. On further enquiry, he found that by some stroke of luck, the opposition had managed to win that seat and taken out a victory rally for the same. This was not taken well at all by the previous ruling party who had started rioting. Sameer arrived at a full-fledged mob fight in the middle of the street and somehow got dragged into it. Chaos ensued as wherever Sameer looked, he could see people fighting each other with sticks and stones. Not able to apprehend the mindset of the mob, Sameer looked around confused as blood ran in the streets. He suddenly felt a sharp pain at the back of his head and realised he had been hit with a stick. When he clamped a hand to the back of his head, the hot trickling blood assured him of his hopeless position. He fell to the ground and watched in painful silence as the fight continued all around him without anyone realising his condition. Sameer could have been lying there for an hour, maybe two, time seemed to have lost its meaning. After what seemed like an eternity, his mother accompanied by his friends came to his rescue.  His friends asked him how he felt and all he could muster was ” not very good”. The question seemed ridiculous in his head. His injuries had put him in a state that required specialised medical care. Had the politicians focused on adequate hospital facilities in the village, Sameer would not have to travel all the way to the next town for his treatment. What a horrible place to get into a fight, he thought. People should at least have the good sense to fight in front of hospitals. Sameer died on his way to the hospital.

 

-Sonal Mahanta

CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR

Kriya sat contentedly in her room looking at all the pretty gifts her friends and family had given her for her 18th birthday. As she was shuffling through the gifts, a beautiful jewellery box caught her eye. Her friend Aanya had found it in an antique shop and it was truly an elegant piece. She picked it up to examine it closely and that’s when she cut her thumb against its sharp edges.

Kriya suddenly had a feeling she was being watched and turned around to come face to face with a man straight out of Arabian nights. He wore harem pants and a small earring and introduced himself as Jabiri the genie. Perplexed, Kriya listened to him explain how he had been summoned by her blood. She had three wishes and could ask for literally anything. Giddy with excitement, Kriya immediately asked for a lot of money and jewellery. Jabiri snapped his fingers and told her to check her cupboard. And just like that, he was gone. Not sure what to do with the riches, she hid the cash under a loose floorboard in her room and stuffed the ornaments in her jewellery boxes. She then went to sleep, dreaming about all the incredible things she could do with her newly acquired wealth.

Little did she know that genie magic had its consequences. They couldn’t just conjure things which didn’t already exist. When Jabiri had conjured up the riches, it had been transported from the nearest source: the Mehra’s house where a huge wedding was to take place next month. The entire Mehra house was shell shocked as to how all their wedding jewels could suddenly disappear in one night. They immediately lodged a police complaint.

The next day when Kriya was showering, her sister Kritika came to her room to look for a matching set of earrings for her dress. As luck would have it, she wore a set of earrings from Jabiri’s gifts. She then went next door to call her friend Anita Mehra for a party they were supposed to be attending. Anita’s mother couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw Kritika’s earrings and alerted the police at once.

Kritika was a mess and repeatedly kept denying any role in stealing the jewels as the police ransacked their house. Kriya was horrified when she realised what had actually happened and couldn’t bear to see the shame in her parents’ eyes. She rushed to the bathroom with her wishing box and sliced her thumb on it. Jabiri appeared once again and asked if she was ready for her second wish. Kriya wished for her family to be saved from the mess she had caused. Jabiri was gone with another snap of his fingers.

The police could find no evidence of the robbery and the earrings also miraculously turned out to be fake. Kriya thought she could put the whole thing behind her but she was very, very wrong. People still believed Kritika had stolen the jewels as they were never recovered by the police even after days of searching. She had lost her friend Anita and nobody would talk to her at school. The neighbours stopped associating with their family and started calling them nasty names.

Kritika was never the same again. Unable to deal with her depression, she tried to end her life by slicing her wrists. Though Kritika was saved, Kriya knew she was responsible for her sister’s miserable condition. And at that moment, she knew what her final wish would be. Kriya summoned Jabiri again and she wished for time to be turned back to the morning of her 18th birthday. Jabiri let out a loud guffaw and snapped his fingers.

Kriya woke up to a new day to see her family around her wishing her a very happy birthday. That night when she saw the box, she carefully wrapped it up in a cloth and threw it in the river, where it could never harm her family again. As days passed, her memory of the disastrous events also began to fade, until she was left questioning if she hadn’t actually imagined the whole thing.

Years later, a fisherman would catch the box in his net. Wanting to take a closer look he picked it up and accidentally cut his finger on it, thereby summoning Jabiri to the mortal realm again.

STARVED

I woke up to the sound of loud hysterical noises coming from downstairs. Maalati , our neighbour was crying uncontrollably and telling my mother a story which was hard to believe.

Three days earlier, Maalati’s daughter-in-law Sandhya had gone for a quiet walk along the banks of the river Brahmaputra. We live in a small town where people believe that area to be infested with ghosts. Sandhya however did not believe any such tales and went wherever she wished. She came home late that night with a noticeable change in her behaviour.

With her big red eyes she would look around restlessly and constantly demand food. Maalati initially waved it off as Sandhya was heavily pregnant and she wanted to provide her all the nutrition she needed for delivering a healthy baby. But Sandhya’s unnaturally huge appetite and her inability to recognise anyone in the house soon became a cause for concern.

Finally everyone reached the conclusion that some evil spirit had possessed Sandhya and an exorcism had to be conducted at the earliest. A renowned taantrik was called in to rid Sandhya of the evil spirit.

No sooner had the taantrik set foot in the lane that Sandhya started shouting curses at the top of her lungs. It took four people to hold her down as she demanded the taantrik   be taken away. After an hour of chanting mantras , the spirit possessing Sandhya finally agreed to talk. It had apparently taken over her because it craved good food and Sandhya being pregnant was sure to receive a lot of it. After the taantrik explained how Sandhya was nearing her delivery and the supply of good food was limited ,the spirit finally agreed to leave.

Her only demand was that she be provided with one last meal of fried fish and rice under the town’s biggest mango tree. A branch of that tree would fall signalling the end of Sandhya’s possession. The meal was arranged at the earliest and placed at the location. Sandhya who had been so sick that she could hardly move a limb suddenly got up and ran like a madwoman to the mango tree. We would never know what happened that night as no one was courageous enough to follow her.

The next morning, people of the town arrived to find her sleeping peacefully alongside a plate scraped clean and a fallen tree branch. Sandhya gave birth to a beautiful baby a month later. All was well.

 

SONAL MAHANTA