Summer days in Louisiana are not quite the picture of fun. On that day the temperature reached above ninety but that didn’t stop our family from venturing out for our weekly barbeque. I was probably the only sixteen-year-old in my neighborhood that stayed behind that year, while all my friends attended summer camp.
“Jane,” said my dad when I broached the subject, “When I was your age, we didn’t go to summer camp.”
Personally, I think he was just scared to see me go. I tried arguing, cajoling, even threatening but nothing helped. So, I spent my summer roasting under the sun during the day, and at night, getting bitten by a thousand blood-sucking mosquitos while I watched the stars and asked God questions that he never answered.
“Janie dear, we’re leaving to the lake in five minutes. If you don’t get down here by then, you’ll have to pedal all the way there yourself.”
I grunted. “Nobody needs these stupid barbecues.”
But tradition was the tradition in our family. I didn’t bother changing out my pajamas, or fixing my messy bun. I just grabbed my iPod and headphones and ran outside.
Grandpa and dad were piling boxes full of food into the back of the pickup truck, as Grandma admired herself in her little pocket mirror. “Here she is, my little teenager,” she said as she reached out to fluff my hair.
I rolled my eyes at her and pulled away, wincing slightly when I noticed her shoulder sag. I’m not cold or heartless, but sometimes I feel like I have no control over the raging hormones in me. Dad revved up the motor of his pickup truck as we all piled inside. I plugged myself into my earphones, trying to drown out the noise of Grandma’s fake teeth chewing on bubble gum. It was a useless attempt.
After riding in the rickety mess of a vehicle for seemingly an eternity we got to the lake. It was a small secluded reservoir surrounded by a dense forest. We’ve been having our weekly barbecues here ever since I can remember. We never stopped, except when Mom died last July. We were all too stricken with grief to sit around, listening to music, and eating roasted marshmallows.
But then, everyone moved on it seemed. The music was back on in the house, and the laughter resumed as if it had never stopped. And me? Still stuck in the past. I still stayed up night after night, nose pressed against the window, waiting for her. She never came back and deep inside I know she never will. But I was not ready to make peace with that reality yet.
“Jane, whatcha thinkin bout?” said Dad, growling. He had come back to fetch me from the car where I sat lost in thought.
“Um, nothing.” I lied.
“Come on, babe. Cheer up.” Dad looked away as he said those words. I knew it was hard for him to show emotion. He was a tough guy, but under that veneer he had a heart made of marshmallow fluff.
I choked back a cry and forced a smile. “I’m happy, see?” I pointed to my face and saw Dad’s shoulders visibly relax. ‘Why can’t you see through that?’ I silently yelled. And once again my pleads fell on deaf ears.
With a sigh I collected myself, not that anyone would notice anyway, and joined my family hard at work trying to set the barbecue up.
Before long, Uncle Harry’s jeep pulled to a stop beside us, music blaring. Dad waved as all his kids piled out of the van.
“Hey Jane, you look so beautiful.” Aunt Lee showed up beside me and smiled that condescending smile of hers at me. I wanted to punch her in the face. I was wearing pajamas, but was owning it with pride.
“Thank you, it’s actually pajamas, and I got it in Target. But I appreciate you trying so hard.” I smiled back as Lee walked off looking miffed.
I took a can of diet coke out of the cooler and perched myself on the edge of a bench where I got to watch the sun setting over the lake. My cousin Olivia, followed me and plopped down beside me. I turned to look at her, searched her entire face for a sign of pity but found none. “Hi,” I mumbled, gazing off into the distance.
“How are you holding up?” she asked genuinely.
I looked down at my fingers wrapped around the perspiring can of Coke; they were trembling violently. I was tired of holding it all in. Tired of lying. The worst part, I wasn’t even pretending but everyone just attributed my misery to me being a teenager.
“Jane.” Olivia ventured gently.
And then the dam burst. The tears flooded for the first time since Mom’s passing. Olivia put her arms around me and rocked me gently while I cried. I couldn’t stop. All the restrained pain came gushing at me forcefully. I felt like I was drowning in them. Desperately, I gasped for air and coughed on the smoke that entered my lungs.
“It’s okay, Jane. Just remember to breathe,” Olivia whispered into my ears. It was as if I was back in Mom’s arms. As if she was holding me again after I got a bad grade or a kid said something nasty. It was as if she hugged me after I told her the first boy that loved me dumped me. As if she was protecting me from the bad world out there. As if she was here again, right by my side. Loving me.
I looked up to the sky which had turned to pitch black. The tall trees spread out above me. I used to think of them as menacing claws, now I saw them as fierce protectors. Olivia was still beside me now holding my hand as my crying turned into sobbing.
The stars twinkled, and I saw Dad approaching me with open arms. I ran towards him and collapsed in his arms. And from the heavens I swear I heard Mom whisper “You’ll be alright.”
Perry K. is a freelance writer who breathes poetry. Besides for writing, she also has a passion for drawing, ballet, and photography. Her greatest inspiration for her writings are life and humanity.
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Light spilled into the darkness as a little girl opened the package, a smile breaking through her face like she had just found a treasure. She picked me up and gazed at me warmly.
“Papa! I found it!” she said.
A man appeared next to her beaming with pride–I recognized him. He was my creator. He had folded me and shaped me. Made my paper wings and beak with such care and love.
“Make her happy, my friend,” he whispered, as he hid me in a box.
I don’t know why he would talk like that to me. I was useless, a paper crane incapable of doing anything. Protect a smile? How could I do that? Yet, now, as she held me in her hands. I felt like my life suddenly had a purpose. She carried me and played with me as her father watched, delighted with her happiness. My world became colorful with her by my side.
But as the days go by, so do the happy times. Her father had gone, and she succumbed to her loneliness.
“You didn’t keep your promise!” She cried out. She hid me in a trunk, forgotten and decrepit.
They left there me. I kept wondering and wondering if there was something, anything I had done wrong. I was as useless as I had thought, and I felt guilt weigh heavy in my fragile heart.
Did I not keep my promise?
I waited and waited, even as my body started to mold, even when I start to lose my vivid color. I kept believing that she’ll be back.
One night, I had a dream–a memory of when he had made me. I could remember him writing something in my body, but I couldn’t read it. Black ink seeped into my paper body; the ink felt cold, yet; I felt honesty and love within these symbols. I wish I could speak and ask him about it, but I can’t speak or talk for I’m just a mere origami that he made for his daughter.
The next day, the trunk opened, and I saw her face again. She had changed. She became a beautiful lady now.
She scavenged the trunk for a phone, long forgotten like the rest of its contents. She continued to search until she finally noticed me, a small paper crane in the trunk’s corner. She picked me up and examined me. She, at first, thought of me like nothing and was about to throw me away again.
I panicked at first and tried to calm down. With the little strength inside me, I tried to move and shake until one of my folds became undone.
That was when she noticed the strange symbols inside me. She unfolded me revealing the writing inside. Tears began to form in her eyes as she saw the strange characters.
That when it dawned on me–I made her cry. I began to blame myself as she cried, thinking I was useless and terrible. Her hands held me tightly, and she ran out of the open doorway.
A woman saw her and hugged her, but I couldn’t care. I kept thinking I was terrible. Maybe I shouldn’t exist. Maybe I was just a mistake. I wish I could have stopped him.
The girl cried, held in her mother’s arms. Her mother reassured her and said, “I see that you found it. Don’t worry, your father loved you too. I know he has already forgiven you.”
They held each other for a while as she held the handmade origami crane her father made. Though the little paper crane thought of itself as useless, it accomplished something of great relevance to her life.
I’m Denelyn and I am residing in the City of Manila, Philippines. I live with my family and pets. A cat and a dog, respectively. I like to travel and have been to places such as Europe, Asia, and Australia. At first, I wrote poetry to express my mental illness in a safe way. Then, I began to enjoy writing and reading poetry books. I’m fascinated by how writers could tell stories so effectively that I now wish to pursue a career in writing. I still continue to write poetry and short stories and share them on my Instagram and Blog: Thoughtful Wisps. And I am very thankful for this chance to share this with you all!
She glanced at the paintings hanging on the wall. Some abstracts and some landscapes. It was a pleasant sight! When Henry wasn’t busy analysing enzymes and DNA in his lab, he used to paint in his studio. In the corner, she saw a sturdy shelf containing thick books. She trailed her fingers along the titles on the book spine. Secrets of the Chemists, DNA Demystified, and after more interesting titles. She reached his easel. On the canvas was a majestic swan gliding in a blue lake, that part was freshly painted with different shades of blue, which rendered it very vivid, she could almost catch the faintest ripple on the lake. She liked how the sky pigment sculpted the contours of the conifers around the lake.
It was amazing how he could handle electron microscopes and his paintbrush with the same finesse. She came near his table, a white mug contained water he had rinsed his paintbrushes in and the pots of cobalt blue and navy blue pots of paint he used to paint the lake lay next to it.
Cassandra had a passion for painting too but the sands of time wanted otherwise. Each time she started to draw something she was discouraged by her partner’s harsh comments.
Somehow seeing colours always brought back her childhood memories for those were the only colourful phase of her life. Unlike the last 2 years which were only a bleak black and white. She had been under constant psychological and moral abuse by her partner Jake, which had eroded her cheery personality and rendered her stoic. She was being dragged in the swirling vortex of manipulation without even realising it.
Henry had been abroad for some years. It was only two months ago that he came to Hamilton. At first, Cassandra plainly refused for the meet-up, like she had been doing for many other reunions and outings lately because Jake did not see it with a good eye.
In the beginning, she used to feel bad about not being able to meet her friends and relatives, but with time she changed. She started spinning a cocoon of low-esteem around her, and she showed no interest in sharing laughter with happy people.
Cassandra gave in only when her other two friends told her they would pick her up from work and meet over lunch. She would have been swallowed in a depressive tornado by now, if it was not for Henry, who saw how drastically she had changed from the happy-go-lucky girl he had known as a classmate to a forlorn girl with wrinkles of worry.
She went so far back in time that she inadvertently knocked over the cup of water which tipped over the pots of the navy blue and royal blue paint. A navy blue river started to form its way on the table sinuously until it reached Cassandra’s finger, which was lingering on the table. The cold water stimulated the thermoreceptors on her fingertips and flipped Cassandra back to reality. She stared at the mess in horror. She quickly picked up the cup and grabbed hold of some tissue paper and stopped the water from flowing from the edge of the table. Just in time before it reached the floor!
There was still some paint residue on the table. She reached for the tissue roll to wipe the rest of the paint only to find that it was over. She heard the garage door opening. Henry was back! Oh my god, what do I do now?! I created such a mess. It’s always me. Wherever I go things go wrong!
Her heart was pounding as she looked frantically around the room for something to clean the mess. Luckily, she found a bunch of filter papers lying on the bookshelf. She grabbed one of them and lunged towards the table. The knob of the door clicked and Henry’s shadow flooded the doorway.
“Am-am so sorry Henry, I didn’t mean to. I mean it’s my mistake, ev, everything just toppled over. I am cleaning it!” she muttered.
Henry just stood there staring at her. This made her even more uncomfortable. She wondered how will he react, will he brood? Will he scold? Or worst, will he beat me? This was how Jake used to react during disputes, with time she had been conditioned into walking on eggshells.
“Am almost done,” she said heading towards the table her cheeks turning crimson. By now the filter paper had absorbed most of the residual paint. She reached for it and started to crumple it.
She froze. She closed her eyes. It’s coming. She closed her eyes harder, conditioning herself to bear the pain.
She waited. Nothing.
“Cassandra …Cassandra!” he said in a soft voice.
Henry held her shoulders and turned her around and looked into her eyes. “It’s fine!” he said. “it’s just some paint,why are you getting so worked up?”
He picked up the filter paper and admired it, the blue colours which had seeped in had taken different hues of blue.
“This is beautiful,” he whispered.
He bent down took his paintbrush and dipped in the the navy blue pot of paint and brushed a few strokes on the blotting paper. Cassandra peered to see what he was doing but she could only make out a blue blob of paint at the rim of the paper. He dipped the brush in black paint now and painted few more strokes and placed it back.
Now she could make it out. He had drawn a woman figure on the filter paper.
“For you this might be a wasted filter paper meant to be discarded. But the artist in me sees a sky on that paper. And that’s you with all the sky stretched in front of you showing you that possibilities are infinite. Even if you soaked up all the mess that doesn’t make you less valuable, Cassandra. What you have endured does not put you to a disadvantage instead it has built you and armoured you with shields that will help you face harder days with ease.”
He stared at Cassandra’s awe-filled eyes and continued. “Don’t make yourself a victim of what you have undergone, you are more than just a sufferer. You are a Warrior! This sky is just waiting for You to open your wings and fly. Yes, Cassandra fly! Fly and conquer new horizons!”
I am from Mauritius, a tropical island in the Indian Ocean. Presently, I’m working as a lecturer in a Medical University. I started writing as a hobby back in college and gradually, written words became my lifebuoy. With life becoming more of a whirlpool, writing keeps me afloat and helps me reach out to people.
During my journey from medical student to tutor, I have come across many students with difficulty to cope at both academic and psychological levels hence my purpose to write motivational quotes. My other hobbies include cooking, drawing and painting. My current project is to bring together my paintbrush and pen to promote mental and physical health.
The woman in the reflection was unknown to her, a stranger. The figure sat poised and proper at the cherry wood vanity. Her ample breasts spilling out of her strapless black lace bra. Red lipstick clasped in her newly manicured fingers. Her petite hand, adorned with a 1/2 carat diamond on her ring finger, catching the reflective light of the setting sun.
The rays casting through the French doors that led to the perfectly tended yard. Her long golden locks, portraying the perfect illusion, whilst hiding the $500 extensions. She didn’t seem real. Who had she become? This version of herself masked the reality of what she felt. Was she a trophy wife? Is that what one would call it? If so, it was she that had allowed herself to obtain such a title.
Over the years she has given permission for her old self to die away and for the new model to be on display. Disgusted by what stared back at her, she stood, tossing the makeup into the vanity drawer. She sauntered to her closet where her gown for the evening’s festivities hung. Still covered in plastic from being picked up from the dry cleaners earlier in the day. Gently removing the plastic covering, she carefully wiggled her tiny frame into the crimson velvet dress, squeezing her $8,000 bust into it as best she could. She pulled at its ends, causing the fabric to form even more fittingly, hugging her small curves. She slipped her toes into the black Louis Vuitton’s, and took a step back to take a gander at the presentable finished product. She was indeed quite the most beautiful specimen.
But in that moment, it didn’t matter. Her beauty. The big 5,800 square foot home. The gun metal Maserati in the garage, or the crystal flute etched with a golden rim that housed the sparkling Veuve Clicquot. She raised the glass to her lips and took a sip of the delectable liquid. She took one last look in the mirror, raised her free hand and matching the gesture of the pristine red nail of the middle finger, uttered aloud, “Fuck you!” For, It was all a facade.
In a moment she would make her grand entrance. The guests would “ooh and ah” with hushed tones upon her arrival and she would elegantly walk towards her husband and he’d kiss her on the cheek. He would gawk and gush, exaggerating his delight with a plethora of compliments; all the while his gaze straying towards another beauty that stands nearby with smiles of adoration. It was all a game. Lies and falsifications disguised with laughter and grins. Yet, she knew she would play the part, wear the smile, for how could anyone with “all this” be unhappy. One should be grateful for all that they have, and to turn a blind eye to his adulterous ways…was understood, was acceptable, and she would be crazy to give it all up.
She turned away from the reflective image, and she began her walk down the hall to embrace the insignificant faces of the evening. His colleagues, long-life friends, those he had added to the list last minute to simply rub his success and blissful life in their faces. She was his to show off, right along with the cognac that they had brought back from their trip to France, they were all on display. She could hear the chatter and clinking of glasses, and with one last sip and one deep breath (causing her bosom an attempted escape from the constricting dress) and a smile…entre’!
Suit and ties filled the room, various scents (colognes and perfumes clashing) filling her nostrils causing them to flare. In efforts of disguising the overwhelming fragrance, she delicately brought her glass to her lips, taking another gulp whilst holding her breath.
As she walked about the room, greeting her guests with nods, smiles, and hellos, the men’s eyes followed with each sway of her hips. All filled with lust and longing and some aglow with jealousy. The women were dressed to the nines, with various shades of their black and gray splattered about, yet unable to compare to her.
She caught a server by the elbow, trading her empty flute for another crisp cold bubbly, this one embellished with three pomegranates floating at the top, grazing her plump lips as she brought it to her mouth, quenching her thirst.
In that moment, just as she had assumed, her husband, began his approach to her. With much chagrin leaving the side of his muse, but not before whispering sweet nothings into her ear, causing her eyes to sparkle. Anger stung at the corner of her eyes, which then transformed into shame. She felt embarrassed by her husband and his mistress’ cavalier attitude. Their behavior wasn’t blatant, flaunting was even to crass of a word, however; they certainly didn’t disguise their relationship. It was such a ridiculous ruse, and it was expected that she would swallow her pride, her dignity, her value, her worth. She deviated her eyes away from the spectacle. In response and perfect self deprecating fashion, she finished her champagne, and found the server grabbing another.
Much to her dismay, he had chosen to wear his gray Armani suit. Upon purchasing it, weeks prior, she had mentioned that the suit was simply too small. The areas that it hugged and accentuated were not flattering by any means. Yet, he disagreed claiming that it was his exact size, a 42L (in reality a 46 would have sufficed perfectly). But, as he paraded across the room, his red velvety tie caught the flickering of the ambient candlelight that decorated the large room.
It was an intentional choice (the tie) to match her formal wear. His gait was proud, slow and steady, even with his confidence accentuated in each step, he was still unable to hide his middle-age bulge, that was so desperate to be released from the restraint of the single button of his suit. It was laughable really. How ridiculous he looked, yet the compliments and validation he received was all that he required, and of course it was given. The pats on his shoulder, the hand-shakes as he walked by, the nods of approval…the superficial confirmation filling his ego.
She could feel her stomach churn at the idea. The visualization of of the figures filled with greed and envy was more than she could bear. She could see the hunger in their eyes instilled with complete idolization towards this man. Her man. Her husband. She envisioned the gnawing and gnashing of their teeth diving into his flesh in ravenous frenzy in efforts to fulfill their gluttonous adoration. It was sickening. Vile. She had to clear her throat to stifle the bile that was journeying upwards from her belly.
“You look ravishing, my dear,” he muttered under his breath, along with a tooth-filled smile kissing her hand. She nodded in response, her eyes catching the envious stare of his Jezebel from across the room. She then tapped her glass with the base of her ring finger, creating a high clanking, grabbing the attention of the visitors.
“Would you all please raise your glasses?”
The room complied with her bidding. She scoped the great room, a large Christmas tree stood tall and stoic in the corner. Decorated to its absolute perfection. Ribbons and wreaths were strewn above the window and fireplace; the atmosphere so breathtaking that one could easily find themselves agape at its elegance.
“I want to thank you all for being here this evening,” her voice as soothing as the trill of a songbird. “As we celebrate the passing year for all its triumphs and downfalls, I hope we are all able to reflect on our journey with positivity and continue to grow and learn. I do hope that the coming year brings good fortune, enlightenment, and an opportunity of discovery as we move towards a brighter and more satisfying future.”
She paused for a moment, lowering her raised hand, scanning the faces of all those surrounding her. She could feel their piercing eyes of judgement, their smiles of false truths, burning deep into her core, and she could feel the loneliness rising within her depths. It was a room of strangers who desired to be called friends. A room filled with beings that knew nothing of her soul.
With an escape of a small chuckle, she raised her glass and continued, “So, fill your ravenous appetites, indulge on the flowing cocktails, taste all the delicacies proffered within these walls, TAKE what is given, and appease your voracious sinful souls! here’s to you!” The room, in automated response echoed, “Cheers!” She then locked eyes with her spouse, as they each took their sip in response to toasting tradition.
His brow furrowed, as he stood quizzical and confused. She gave him a sly smile and a devilish wink, then ventured towards his muse.
The young woman began to shift and stir in her bargain heels, nervously fidgeting with the diamond earrings that hung loosely from her lobe.
A gift for being, “Such an amazing assistant, a godsend really,” or at least that’s what she was told when she found the bill from the jewelers, that had accidentally fallen from her husband’s pants pocket earlier that morning.
As she reached her destination, the young woman attempted a smile, all the while with quivering lips and her eyes darting sporadically in the direction where her husband still stood watching. She leaned in towards the girl, she placed her lips upon the girl’s cheek, giving a delicate peck, slowly she moved her red lips towards the girl’s ear, and whispered HER sweet nothings.
“He’s all yours, dear.” She placed her empty flute down on the glass coffee table, exited the room, fully aware of the whispers, gossip, and giggles.
Upon returning to her bedroom, she closed the door and fastened the lock behind her. Safe within her solitude. She went before her mirror, freeing her feet from the three inches of height and began unzipping her dress. The red velvet fell to the floor, and with the unsnapping of her bra, her breasts were now liberated. Her nipples stood erect from the sudden exposure of the air. She then removed her underwear, tossing them to the side. She stood before her image. Naked. Susceptible to judgement; her own. She was vulnerable and she was frightened. As she looked about the clothing scattered on the floor, she removed all her jewelry, adding them to pile at her feet. Lastly, her ring. The last materialistic item that connected her to him. The identifier that allowed the world to see that she was taken, that she was a Mrs., that she was still his. She held it in the palm of her hand, feeling its weight. She then chucked it across the room, hitting the wall above their bed frame, dropping to the hardwood floor, giving a thud of finality.
Her skin had been shed. And she could feel a rising fire growing from within her belly. She could feel a new strength flowing throughout her veins. Her heart raced. With one inhale, deeply filling up her lungs, awakening all senses, electrifying her soul and setting her eyes ablaze.
She had been reborn.
About the Author
Robin LeOra Anderson
My name is Robin LeOra Andersen, I am 43, married for 20 years, and have 4 beautiful children. I am a stay at home mom, but do help my hubby and older son (when needed) with our family business. I am located in Northern California, I am a classically trained pianist, I home schooled my children (an incredible blessing and adventure), and have always dabbled here and there (as a hobby) with writing. This past year, and as my children are getting older, I find I have more time for myself. I am taking my writing more seriously and am currently working on completing my first novel. It’s an exciting new journey for me, and I am eager to see where it leads. My poetry can be found on Instagram: @leoras_beautiful_chaos_poetry
She was tired. Too tired to even stand. She kept shifting her body weight on both legs alternatively in repeat. She was waiting for her everyday M10C bus to reach home soon so that she could pick her daughter from her friend’s birthday party. But, to her bad luck, she couldn’t spot her bus. Cursing, the timing, she stood there in the bus stand restlessly. The clouds were black and she couldn’t see the moon either. She was worried if rains could delay her from reaching home on time. Praying to weather gods, she checked the time. The bus was 6 minutes later than usual. She could see people moving super fast in their mopeds, cars and bikes along with their friends and family. She thought how fast she would’ve reached home if her husband would pick her up. She wouldn’t need to stand at the bus stop and wait for the bus, need not board a crowded bus, need not stand amidst crowds until she reaches her stop. Instead she could have happily sat behind her husband in the bike and reach home sooner. This would have happened if their office timings matched, she consoled herself. In addition to the bus being late, she suffered from severe hunger pangs too. The last meal she had was 6 hours ago, which was mostly eaten up by her office colleagues who could never wake up early to prepare their lunch. And, it was a routine for them to share lunch with her. She was dying to have at least a coffee, to suppress her hunger. But, if she spent her time in getting a coffee to drink, there are chances that she might miss the bus, which may end up in misery. Thinking of her, missing the bus, reaching home late, picking her daughter late, preparing dinner late and further repercussions, she immediately diverted herself from the stomach’s call.
She checked her watch again, hastily. After waiting for 11 long minutes, which was a bit more than her average waiting time, she saw her bus. And, of course crowded as usual. Filled with passengers who were passionate enough to travel in spite of being in a crowded bus. She blamed herself for not buying a coffee, now that the bus was late. It was late. Late to regret. The bus driver halted the bus few metres ahead from the bus stand. She ran with the leftover energy, and tried to climb the stairs to board the bus. There were too many to compete with her, in boarding the bus. With few pushes and pulls, somehow after four good attempts, she managed to get in and stick by the bus pole. The bus started moving. She showed her bus pass to the bus conductor. The conductor verified and gave it back to her. Pretty soon, she was submerged in her own thoughts. She mentally reminded herself that, she has to buy pink colored pencil box that her daughter has been asking for days, and an automatic helicopter for her son. She has promised to do so today. Meanwhile, her early morning scoldings from the boss peeped in. She remembered how badly he scolded her for missing a row of data. And, how her junior colleague made a nasty comment about her not working properly despite having years of experience. Period. She had to tolerate. Kilograms didn’t weigh her down, but the humiliation did. Nobody praised her when she corrected her mistake, she thought. Her thoughts were soon dissolved when a middle aged man, stout, curly hair with heavy mustache was trying to touch her wrong, who when confronted had the idea of blaming the crowd. His hands slid near her navel, for which she fumed. She couldn’t stay quiet. She gave him a stern stare. Her one stare, was worth a thousand words. Being a beginner, or a novice, or whatever, he gave up the idea of touching her; afraid of being caught and his identity being revealed. He got down the next stop, and disappeared. Relieved, she got busy with her own thoughts like a snail encircling itself.
Time flew, and the bus reached her stop. Hurriedly, she vanished into the best shop open and bought the pencil box and the helicopter. She wanted to surprise her children, so she asked the shopkeeper to wrap them as a gift. The shopkeeper told that the gift wrapping costed extra money. She didn’t think twice, she agreed. How could she just stop herself from surprising her children? Just mom things you know! She took the gift bag and walked briskly to pick her daughter from her friend’s home, exactly next to six houses from her’s. There she was pretty in her princess gown, that she bought her last birthday playing with her friends. Her daughter came running when she saw her and hugged. Both bid goodbyes. Along the way, her daughter was explaining how big the cake was and how badly she needed a bigger cake than her friend’s, how she came first before her friends to the party, and about the gifts she received. Nodding head affirmatively, she promised her she’d get one too when she continues to be well behaved. Her daughter promised to be one. She always maintained the calm being and wore a contagious smile, whatsoever happened. The sparkle in her eyes were strong enough to kill every chaos in her life. That’s what made her special and pure. Both reached home.
As soon as they reached, her son, who was pretending to study mathematics, couldn’t control his eagerness. He was so keen to know if his mom had bought him the helicopter he asked for. He came running to her, and pestered her to show him the bag she was carrying. In spite of being tired, being scolded by her manager, travelling in a crowded bus and suppressing her hunger pangs for the sake of children, she responded with a smile and called both of them. She handed over the ‘gifts’. They were so surprised to see the golden papers wrapped up. Her son was so excited to see how it was, how it worked, so he began ripping the gift wrapper into pieces. Her daughter was not an exception. Soon, within seconds, their ‘gifts’ were revealed. Both the children hugged their loving mother and soon disappeared to carry on their lives with the new ‘gifts’.
She dragged herself into the kitchen, to prepare dinner. She poured water, added flour and kneaded them into a dough like consistency. Ding dong. Ding dong. It was her husband. She knew. Over the last eleven years, he’d always come to home at this time from office. All that happened in the 11 years was this: She’d come running to open the door leaving her work half way to greet him, get his bag, keep it down and give him a cup of coffee (which is left untouched, unless it is piping hot!) , search the TV remote, tune into his favorite sports channel and make him relax. And, all these to be done by her within microseconds. Meanwhile, him scolding her for not opening the door on time! ‘What if scolding loved ones, humiliating others are nothing but a revenge taken on life?’, she thought. That day was not a ‘sun rises in west’ day. And, the thing was, both were accustomed to this life. With hands full of dough, she came running from the kitchen and opened the door, only to see her husband scolding her again for opening the door late. She greeted him, kept his bag aside, turned on his favorite sports channel, and gave his cup of coffee. Not considering his scoldings much, she resumed with the dough, prepared chapatis and potato masala. Unlucky are those without ears like her! Then, she first served her husband to save herself from getting scolded again, then called her children and fed them.
Once, everyone ate, she ate. Ate the leftovers. It’s always while eating, her son would call her to undress him, wash away his bums after pooping, and dress him again. Though her husband is near, he always considered it was women’s duty to take care of the children. The regular cliches though. She would undress him, make him poop, wash him, put his clothes on and again come and eat the ‘leftovers’ of the ‘leftovers’. These things became a part of her life. Post dinner, it was her unsaid duty to wash the utensils, dry them, arrange them in the racks and put her children to sleep. And, in the mornings, to help her husband locating keys, office files, socks and what not! She lived her life serving her family with love and care diligently. For her, her family was her life. And, it was hard for her to juggle work, personal life, family, and career, you know.
The only thing, that soothed her was the ‘bath’, at the end of the day! Finishing off her works, turning the heater on, she always prepared herself for a bath. This was her mundane task. The bath time late night, at the end of the day once her children and husband slept was completely ‘hers’. No one was there to pester her or scold her. It was only her. It was her own ‘sweet’ time. She left behind her clothes drenched in sweat down on the ground, getting ready to take a bath. Turning on the hot water tap, was the gateway of peace for her. The falling water had always made her take pleasure. It’s sound, the falling water, little drops filling the bucket. Everything made her feel ecstatic and enthusiastic. It was her leisure time. The warmth of the water filled the bathroom with soothing vibes, the aroma of her favorite soap invited her, along with her curiosity to take the first mug of water, hold it like a ‘World Cup’, and pour it on her sleek body. The water made its way through her neck, bosom, her stomach, her abdomen and the legs. It was an experience of pure bliss to her. She took her favorite soap, started scrubbing it all over her body, slowly and steadily. If removing the dirt was 30% of her reason, the remaining 70% was for her to feel. To feel her senses, over her neck, bosom, stomach, abdomen, legs, hands and face. It was to make her feel young. Her thoughts, her body and her soul.
The warm water ran on the curves of her body, releasing her stress, detoxifying her problems, rejuvenating her senses, touching the inner fragile her, making her forget the lags, water flowing down her finger points like elegant drops of rain. She enjoyed every moment of her bath. She soaked, drenched and splashed. She dumped her hands into the bucket filled with water, forming ripples and watched as it went by. Wondering, how beautifully the wavelets had formed and traveled. With the hose of water, she watered herself, the roots and the roofs. She covered herself with soap bubbles, had a beard with foam and bubbles, for which she laughed at her own reflection on the mirror hanging in the bathroom, sang her favorite songs with wrong lyrics, blew bubbles through her nose which made her cough few times and enjoyed playing and popping them. The bubble baths calmed her skin, refueling her with love, care and energy. Every passing second of the bath. With every drop of water, grams of tension made its way down. As the mugs of water fell, down her body, down onto the bathroom floor, she was a step closer towards the end of her bath. As the water went down by the drain, she felt like a newborn. Born again with abundant zeal. Without negatives, more confidence and with ‘love’. Wrapped in towel, with the warmth still persisting in her, aiding for a pleasant sleep. The only ‘self love’ and ‘self care’, she knew of, to rise, run and face tomorrow again is a ‘tub of warm water to bath!’
About the Author:
Named as Priya What is self love my love, aged 21, born and brought up in Chennai. She is an engineer by compulsion (she says, in order to save her parent’s pride, who thinks anything other than Engineering is a waste of money! ) and an epigrammatist by choice. (Because, that’s what my heart always says!).
Currently a Systems Engineer Trainee at Infosys, Mysore. Priya believes big emotions do not come from big words. “I keep my words simple, and yes, I think that’s what makes me unique.” She writes her thoughts, her opinions and reality. Priya’s writings are mostly a reflection of what she sees and of what she goes through in daily life.
“And, I always love my family and feel grateful to them. They’ve taught me over these years how, nothing but, love lasts.