The Chronicles of Miss Shola

The blog's epitaph: Miss Shola came and went as she pleased

Archive for October 2011

6:00 pm of September 18th

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3:15 pm of September 18th is a lazy minute that basks in the harsh sunlight and looks at the world around it aimlessly with no interest in changing its course. At the Good Luck Corner, it’s the moment when Nargis Daruwalah, owner of ‘The Turning Wheel’ sighs deeply and looks outside the solitary window of her 10 feet by 20 feet pottery studio. She has not had a single customer since the girl from the Fine Arts college came in five days ago. As a token of appreciation for all the information Nargis shared with her for her thesis on ‘ceramic sculptures: history and appreciation’, she had bought a small vase that Nargis had herself crafted more than a decade ago for an exhibition on ‘Clay as Canvas’. Those were the days when Shezaan, her husband and proprietor of ‘Sheer Sanitaryware’ next door, would wallow in pride at the artistic creations of his wife. Every piece fresh out of the kiln had to be passed under his microscopic eyes before it was put up for sale. There were some that were instantly termed ‘masterpieces by my Noorie’ and prohibited from joining the shelf queue. But now all those masterpieces had dried and hardened to almost unbreakability. Shezaan had not even stepped into the studio for months or possibly years. Lunch was always in his part of the shop now and dotted with business calls and shouting out terse orders to his team of five assistants. Selling bathroom fittings had never seemed a more onerous task in that half an hour. Nargis would soon retreat into her own little corner gifted to her by her loving husband on her 40th birthday. It was a wall he had gifted her, quite literally and metaphorically as time proved.

Time is like the judge on the pedestal in its black robe and white wig doling out words of wisdom in no shades of grey and not leaving room for any interruptions. So before you know it the springy 4:00 pm of September 18th has arrived with a cool breeze under its arms and the scent of jasmine from a faraway tree. It carries with it a warm anticipation of things to come and settles at the brightest spot of Good Luck Corner, that of ‘Sangeeta’s New Fashions’ adjacent to the Sheer Sanitaryware showroom. Sangeeta, master and woman of the shop, was bent over her workdesk carefully examining the sequins that one of her tailors had stitched onto the soft mal fabric of her customer’s saree blouse. In the air was the sweet smell emanating from the incense stick lit near the photograph of Goddess Lakshmi. Sangeeta especially loved working on saree blouses. It was the heart of the saree and it could either make the saree or break it. So entangled would she get in the threads of the fabric that she wouldn’t notice how and when the fabric from her own saree would slip off ever so gently and give way to a large pound of her exposed bosom. Not that her coterie of tailors minded the occasional disrobing; it only made the job of creating robes a bit more exciting.

Sangeeta often corrected her customers when they referred to her as a ‘dress designer’. She would profess that a true designer wouldn’t survive in just one medium, but let her skill permeate through every aspect of life. In accordance to this spirit and her motto of ‘simply designs for high taste’, she had self decorated her small ‘outfit’ at Good Luck Corner. The three walls were painted olive green except for the highlight wall which was a deep shade of maroon. On it stood posters of famous Bollywood celebrities in costumes that inspired Sangeeta to better her designs. Raveena Tandon, Shilpa Shetty, Madhuri Dixit adorned her walls but the center spot was reserved for her favourite siren Piggy Chops dressed in a sexy sleek mauve saree from the movie Bluffmaster. Sangeeta had also set up a small divan with multi-colored cushions in one corner for her customers to rest their haunches as they tirelessly waited. To complete the look there was a hookah style lamp on her workdesk that made the shop seem like an Arabic den right out of an item girl song sequence.

4:20 pm of September 18th is a sinister little thing. Just a minute long but full of deep dark mysteries as it travels in the Tata Sumo of Umesh Upadhyay, the burly shawl-clad local MLA. The big car was racing against time towards Good Luck Corner where in an abandoned garage adjacent to Nargis’ studio Umesh held confidential meet ups with his hench men. Today the huddle was called for all of a sudden. He had something important to convey and wanted them to gather at 6:00 pm sharp at their regular covert meeting place. No one was to know of the meeting except the inner circle. Umesh had himself torn away from a family picnic at Lonavala and was in a hurry to sort things out before they got out of hand.

The strained wall between Sheer Sanitaryware and The Turning Wheel was a disgruntled soul at the fleeting 5:05 pm. The intense emotion between its two sides had caused cracks to appear on its surface. And it was not Nargis and Shezaan that had anything to do with it. Sheer Sanitaryware was opposed to the move of getting divided into two unequal parts. The Turning Wheel was now a separate entity and the larger parent room from which it spun off was rather displeased at this separation. It missed the fullness of its being and would often in those unsparing afternoon hours push the hot air against the miserable wall. The Turning Wheel on the other side was a bored little space that would have much rather been a part of the complete entity. It would hear the buzz of people and clanking of objects on the other side of the wall and remember those days when it was a part of the big story and not just a small uninteresting side plot within it. It would push at the wall too when the depression of its sole occupant combined with its own frustration of being as useless as the pots of different shapes and sizes that it contained, got to it.

5:38 pm is a slow minute that stretches in the time between afternoon that ambles along quietly and evening that holds much promise. It’s also the minute when Jagral Pandey is just a minute away from Good Luck Corner but seems like an eternity would pass till he got to it. Jagral suffers from slowness, a disease that leaves its targets with painfully pronounced movements. Jagral, the postman, would do simple activities such as brushing his teeth, washing his teacup, lifting the mail to be delivered, in the time that an average person would do it ten times over if not more. With courier companies flourishing and postboxes going out of fashion, Jagral should have ideally made the lucrative move like his peers in the post office had eons ago, but aware of his impediment he continued to be loyal to his menial livelihood. But Jagral was an optimistic man. Every morning he set out hoping he would be able to complete his quota of mail delivery and still have time left over in the day, and keep getting better at it till one day he would become the flying super-postman that he often dreamt of.

And I’m 6:00 pm of September 18th, the protagonist of this story. I’m the time that people refer to as the ‘twist of fate’ or ‘the turning point’ because I make things happen. Just before I come into existence Umesh Upadhyay’s secret meeting is interrupted by a group of gun-toting masked men that seemed to have not paid attention during shooting class. I’m the one who stands unguarded when the misfired bullet goes past the garage hideout through Nargis’ cute little studio. I triumphantly see Jagral overcome his lifelong handicap as his sharp hearing and sharper sense of trouble guide him to quickly push Mrs. Daruwalah and the letter she is holding from her pottery teacher in New York, away from the line of fire. I also happily see that life snatching piece of metal go past the wall between the sanitaryware showroom and the studio causing it to crumble and create a hole large enough to open new channels of communication. But unfortunately that far reaching bullet gets its innocent victim. As it races past the showroom into the outlandish den of the lovely designer Sangeeta, the bullet is smitten. It rushes towards her and lodges itself right on the sexy navel of the dusky actress. The poster first jerks out of place and hangs crookedly for a split second within me and then most definitely decides to fall off and finally make contact with the hookah lamp it had been eyeing for a while. It all comes crashing down and so does poor Sangeeta bent at her workdesk as always. I’m the moment that sees her lusciously creamy assets before the smirk on my face gets wiped off forever.

Written by Miss Shola

October 31, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Posted in Shorts

Tall Story

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“Hola, is that your highness senora Agustina Carlos?”

“Hola senor. She isn’t here. Can I take a message please?”

“This is her old friend John. I have a private matter to discuss. And whom am I speaking to?”

“Her daughter Ana”

“Ah, senora Ana! A fine young lady all of 18 years now eh?”

“Yes, that’s right. Well, how is it that mother never spoke about you?”

“You must ask your mother that. I think it has to do with the private matter I intend to discuss”

“Alas, I cannot senor. My mother is dead! Long ago, in a car accident”

“Poor Agustina, may her soul rest in peace. Well Ana, there is something you need to know. A well-guarded secret that concerns you.”

“Go on senor…”

“Your mother was about your age then and you were too small to know. Your father, the Duke of Madrid, couldn’t tolerate such breach of trust”

“Breach of trust?!”

“Infidelity, dear Ana. Your mother eloped with the Duke’s advisor, Jonathan. But the Duke did not want the sympathy of his people. The search was discreet, and a new Duchess was found.”

“I don’t understand…”

“They found her in Mexico. So identical, no one would know the difference”

“Couldn’t be. You are not in your right mind…”

“I would know, dear Ana, because I’m Jonathan. And your real mother is with me. She is on her death-bed and wants to meet her only child.”

“It’s untrue!”

“Ana…are you there?”

There was silence at the other end. Mr. Ramanathan put down the receiver of his round-dial telephone and checked the time. It was end of day’s play for the retired literature professor and his ex-wife. He would wait for the old wall-clock to strike 2 pm again. It was her turn to call tomorrow.

~ Longlisted at the Literary Contest of Kala Ghoda Art Festival in 2008

Written by Miss Shola

October 24, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Posted in Shorts

The all day cafe

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Friday is the sensuous woman playing footsie under the table,
And Monday is her grouchy boyfriend unwilling to relent.
Tuesday is the anxious mother sipping her soup quietly,
But Wednesday, her impish child, is spewing it all over the table.
Thursday is just the forlorn old man eyeing Friday’s playful leg listlessly,
While the jolly old sisters, Saturday and Sunday, are stirring their coffee and playing ‘I Spy’.

Written by Miss Shola

October 18, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Posted in Poetry

And then there were 132

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It was a quiet sultry night of October, just like it is now, when it came into existence. A pair of small black eyes was peering at it oddly and the whirr of the fan could be heard at a distance. Very tiny it was then and uncertain of its future. What if the monstrous Writer’s Block wrung its neck and left it to die? What if the witchy Had-Fun-Bye-Bye abandoned it when it was just learning to crawl? What if Update-Once-In-A-While left it crying in a dark corner for months? But it lived. Small black eyes made it hear a lot of stories, fed it good food, read out many poems and held lovely paintings for it to see. It grew, matured and was happy with its few loving caretakers.

 Happy 2nd TCOMS! And thank you for bringing me joy.

Written by Miss Shola

October 11, 2011 at 12:09 am

Posted in Ramblings

Destiny

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They both lived in the same city and the same area with the same pin-code. Their postal addresses differed by just a street name. They went to different schools though. Hers was St. Mary’s Convent for Girls and his was St. Stephen’s Convent for Boys across the road. But in the board exams, their answer papers somehow found their way one on top of another for the examiner to assess.

Their shoulders brushed against each other at the local grocer once. She had gone to purchase her first packet of sanitary napkins while he and his friends were waiting impatiently for the grocer’s son to let them in the covert cyber café behind the shop. The packet covered with brown paper fell from her hand and he bent to pick it up out of courtesy but she swooped it up before he could. She muttered “Thank you” but never looked up.

There was a time when they had the same guitar teacher. She had felt a pang of jealousy when the teacher sang laurels of how his student in the other street had learnt to pick on the strings so much more deftly than she had. The teacher never mentioned his name and she didn’t care to know.

They went to the same college but never met; except on one occasion. In a college jam session, he was introduced to her and her girl gang by a common friend. She smiled feebly as she would at any stranger. He barely rested his eyes on her and they both moved on with their respective group of friends.

After graduation, they got married in a wedding hall in the same area that they grew up in but one year apart. She moved out of the city post marriage, he didn’t. She came back to the city two years later when her father died and stayed for a month, but he had already left for his post-graduation to London by then.

Many years later they met at the waiting aisle of Delhi airport. She was sitting with her five year old daughter when he came and sat opposite her. He was dressed in a spiffy business suit and carried a sleek leather carry case. Through the half an hour wait he jabbered away on his phone on official matters as she looked on wondering where she had seen him. When the boarding announcement was made, he finally looked at her for a good ten seconds. The familiarity jabbed at him too but he didn’t ponder over it.

She lost her husband at the age of forty and came back to live at her parent’s house. Her daughter enrolled in the same college as they had gone to almost two decades ago. He, on the other hand, had no children and only his work to keep him company on long weekends. His wife had left him within a year of marriage.

They shared the same maid for almost five years who referred to him as that ‘crazy old man who is a stickler for cleanliness’. She heard many stories about him and his OCD but forgot about it as soon as the maid left for the day. There were too many things in life to worry about than a man gone wrong on the other street.

And then one day the maid announced that he had died that morning – fatal heart attack on way to the hospital. She wondered if it was the same ambulance that had passed urgently around the bend of the street when she was haggling with the vegetable vendor. Little did she know that two years hence on the very same spot she would be trampled to death by a speeding truck.

It was no surprise then that they were buried side by side too, in the old crematorium in the same city and the same area with the same pin-code.

Written by Miss Shola

October 9, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Posted in Shorts

60th in pictures

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All set for a trip down memory lane

At home finally

 

60 year old schoolgirl

The eagles that stole her bread pakoda

That girl with the yellow umbrella

Happy Birthday Mom!

Written by Miss Shola

October 5, 2011 at 12:57 am

Posted in Shots