Unforgivable Present

This is an old post but, well,

CURRENT DAY

“She just sits there and stares into oblivion. What is wrong with her? You think a demon attacked her?” asked Aria, gigging with her friend.

************************************

ONE MONTH AGO

T was a happy girl. She loved life. She was always cheerful and brought an instant smile on people’s faces. She never stayed upset for long. “What’s the point?” she asked. Her happiness and cheerfulness was contagious. One “hello” from her and it turned a frown into a smile.

T was turning thirteen tomorrow. Her body went through all the familiar changes as it entered what is popularly called as ‘womanhood’. She took all the awkwardness in her usual cheery style.  She was excited would be an understatement. It being a Friday, at school her friends wished her in advance, hugged her and begged her for a party to celebrate her birthday. Yes, T was extremely happy.

************************************

SECONDS BEFORE T’S BIRTHDAY

“5…4…3…2…1”… T was lying in bed counting down the seconds to her officially turning thirteen. “Happy birthday!”, screeched voices. T got up with a jerk and laughed as she saw her parents at the door. They rushed in and hugged their daughter. “We have a surprise for you”, said T’s father. T’s eyes gleamed with excitement. “What is it?” Her parents looked at each other and her mother smiled and said “it’s in the garage.” T squealed and went with her parents.

***********************************

IN THE GARAGE

“Nnnnooooooo!! Please!! Stttooppp!! Why are you doing this? Please… let… me… go… What are you… doing? Why… why… why do you have a … a… a knife in your hand? What are you going to do to me? No, no, nooooo! Get away from me!! No, nooooooooooooo…….”

***********************************

THE NEXT DAY

T is on her bed. Sleeping. She wakes up with her heart racing. As she tries to get up she screams in agony and clutches herself. Crying bitterly, she pulls the bed cover off herself and looks down at the blood stained pajamas and bed. She screams again and again and again and again… T will never be the same laughing girl again.

**********************************

IN THE GARAGE POST MIDNIGHT

Eyes covered with a piece of cloth, T entered the garage with excitement. Her mother led her to a long table and asked her to sit on it. Puzzled, T obliged. From that second things changed. T was forcibly tied to the table and the piece of cloth was pulled off her eyes. Her pajama was yanked down in one swift move and her father stood next to her feet towering over her, holding a knife in his hand. T screamed for about a minute while her father slashed her three times. Before the first ‘cut’ was even made, T passed out. Cuts done with, her mother yanked her daughter’s pajamas up and undid the knots around her hands and feet. They carried T back to her room and lay her on the bed and left.

**********************************

NOTE:- FGM, Female genital mutilation, a practice that involves the removal of a female’s clitoris and sewing up the labia is practised all over the world. Why? To curb her ‘sexual urges.’ The pain, the agony that a girl/woman would go through is unimaginable. A close, personal friend of mine and a fellow blogger wrote about it. You can read her article Failed Determination and follow the links provided by her. Following her footsteps, with this FICTIONAL story, I am trying to do what I can do best; spread awareness. Maybe you are aware of it, maybe you aren’t. But I do sincerely request all readers to make people aware of it. It’s just the first step, but I hope someday with these steps, FGM will be put to an end.

©NJ

Advertisements

Lost and Found

2010

‘Here we come, walking down the street….,’sang The Monkees on Danny aka Donald’s iPod (a gift from his uncle). Oblivious to his surroundings, he danced to the belting tune with funny moves.

Danny was a unique boy. Ask him to describe himself and all he would do is click his fingers, adjust his cap and say ‘I’m unique’ and grin wickedly. He always had a smile plastered on his face. No one could remember him without that goofy smile and cap. As he continued humming the song he noticed something on the ground a few feet away. He frowned and screwed his eyes to take a good look at it.

Noticing it to be a wallet he turned his head left and right and then went to pick it up. He casually turned it around in his hand as he headed back to the sidewalk. As he opened it something slipped out and fell to the ground. He picked it up and was about to put it back into the wallet when he glanced at it. He stopped humming the song, his face turned grey and he stumbled a little.

2005

Danny was a regular five year old kid. He played, he went to school, and he spoke in the cutest of voices… a typical five years old. Danny loved animals. He would chase street puppies playfully and play with them, catch spiders and keep them as pets and even cuddle with cats. He would beg his parents to get him a pet. It didn’t matter which animal. For all he knew he wouldn’t mind even having a giant bear as a pet!

But his parents would always refuse. They couldn’t afford it, they would say. They have him and his little sister to take care off and with the soaring prices, it was difficult. Danny was disappointed but he understood his parents’ dilemma. He wasn’t too fussy. But he missed having a pet. He never had one but his friend, Amit, had a pet dog and seeing them together all the time made Danny long for one. So instead, he played with and adopted the puppies from his area. He even named them. After school, he would rush back and hunt for the puppies and sit down cross-legged and tell each one of them what happened in school every day.

“Today, Mrs. Sharma taught us addition” or “Amit brought a picture of him and his pet dog, Rocket” and so on. The puppies would scramble to get onto his tiny lap and Danny would stroke them lovingly. He would sit for hours together with them and talk to them about everything. Sometimes he would describe things or people to them. He even introduced them to his friend, Amit. Amit was his ‘sort of’ best friend, as Donald would describe him.

“You know Tingles; Amit is my ‘sort of’ best friend. We share everything. Our lunches, our water bottles, our toys. You understand what I’m saying?”

“Woof”

“That’s why I introduced you all to him. You see I’m going to disappear for a day and I don’t want you guys to think I’ve left you or something. But the thing is; I’m ill. And I don’t know what’s wrong. But I tend to get this funny pain like thing in my head and well, they hurt. No one knows why it happens. So I’m going to one of those big hospitals that try and figure out these sorts of things. They all use these fancy words so I have no clue what they’re saying. I just go with mom and dad when they ask me to. So while I’m gone, Amit will be here with you. “

“Woof”

Danny wanted to tell them more but he didn’t know how to get the words out. After all, he was just five. So he sat there letting Tingles, Waddles and Nudgers nibble on his fingers.

The next day his parents took him to the hospital for and the doctors conducted various tests on him, poking him with needles and scanning various areas of his tiny little head. Danny stayed quiet through all of it, patiently letting the doctors do their work. All the while his parents had a worried look on their faces. Danny would look at them and say “don’t worry mom and dad. They are doctors. They know what they’re doing. I’m sure they’ll figure out what’s wrong with this (knocks his head with his knuckles) and tell us how to fix it.”

But they never did. They couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him and why his head would hurt so much. Days passed by, years even and doctors were baffled. Danny continued to grow irrespective of the pain and hoped that someday he would be relieved of it.

After all the tests that day, Danny returned home and longed to meet his four legged pals. So as soon as they got home, he ran to his room, changed his clothes and rushed back out.

“I’m off to Amit’s house.”

“Come back before it gets dark”, yelled his mom.

“Amit! Amit! Are you there?”yells Danny, standing outside Amit’s house. Amit pokes his head out of his window and looks down.

“Danny, you’re back. I’ll be right down.”

Amit rushes out of his house yelling at his parents that he’s meeting Danny downstairs and will be back in a few hours. His mom yells the same as Danny’s mom about getting home before it’s dark.

“Danny, Danny! Are you alright? What did the doctors say? Did they use those cool ‘gadgets’ on you?”

The questions poured out in eagerness and Danny answered them with equal enthusiasm. As they talked they rushed to the spot where the puppies stayed. The puppies were delighted to see them and ran towards them, half tripping, trying to climb onto them, bite them, sniff them etc. Danny and Amit were delighted too and played with them for a long time. After a while, Danny asked Amit a question.

“I have a favour to ask of you. Would you do something for me?”

“Sure, what do you need?”

“Could you take a picture of us? The puppies and me? Just like the one you have with Rocket. I’d like one for myself.”

“I’ll go get my dad’s camera.”

Amit ran to get his dad’s camera. Danny was thrilled. Now he would have a picture too. He looked at the puppies and grinned. Amit returned and took a few pictures of Danny with his favourite puppies. Not wanting Amit to feel left out, Danny pulled him along and they snapped a picture of all of them together. They ran back to Amit’s place and his dad downloaded them, took a few copies and gave them to the kids. They beamed with pleasure.

It was beginning to get dark so Danny left Amit’s house and went home. He went around proudly showing the picture to his parents and little sister. He went up to his room and stuck it to his cupboard. Amit’s father had given him several copies of the photographs in different sizes. Danny stashed one in his school bag to show his friends, one in his personal drawer, one onto his computer and one (his favourite) into his kiddy wallet. He remembered asking his father to buy him one so that he could be a grown up too. He never used it for he didn’t know what to keep in it. But now he had something. He kept it safely in it and shoved it into his pant pocket–just like his dad.

The next morning, at school he showed off the pictures to everyone in class. They were all very excited to see them. Danny couldn’t wait to show the pictures to the puppies. So he and Amit met up after school and went straight to the puppies’ hideout.

They couldn’t find them. They ran here and there calling out to the puppies.

“Tingles! Nudgers! Waddles! Where are you? Look it’s me and Amit. See what I have to show you. Where are they?”

“Maybe they’re playing over there. They must have run off. Come on. I’m sure they’re here somewhere.”

Danny and Amit ran around searching for the puppies but in vain. In the end they reluctantly went home. The next day being a holiday they started looking for them since morning. But they couldn’t find them. They were fine just two days back and now everything’s different. They looked for hours, days together. But they could find them anywhere. Danny was distraught. He couldn’t understand what happened.

After a week, he went back to the spot and looked again. He still couldn’t find them. He sat down on a rock nearby and pulled out his new wallet containing that one picture and looked at it hungrily for a long time. Tears poured down his face as he clutched the picture tightly. He sat there for a few hours and finally shoved the picture back into the wallet. He got up, wiped his eyes and finally accepted the truth, the truth that the puppies were never coming back. He looked at his wallet one last time and then flung it as far as he could. He turned his back on his favourite spot and walked home. He never looked back again. He never visited that spot again.

©NJ

Walk-In or Online

Her fingertips gently caressed each book as she walked in between each row, glancing at the titles at a random while taking in the aroma of coffee from a nearby coffee booth. To her it felt like each book was beckoning her fingers so that they lay gently on her palm as she ravished each word on every page. She’d stop on occasion if a title would catch her eye. She’d screw her eyebrows and frown in concentration and think to herself ‘have I read this or would I like to read?’ If the right signals were sent to her brain, she’d slide the book out and gently open it. The words would rush out as if in a race to reach her eyes first. They’d dance and jump up in her view and she’d catch them all at once and process them in her head. If interested, she’d hold on to it. If not, she’d keep it back oblivious to the ‘heart wrenching’ cry the book would give out. The other books would smirk and say ‘Ha! It’s not your day today either’. She’d continue this little game of ‘give and take’ with the books till she finally finds ‘the one’.

Finally she reaches out and slides a book off the top shelf. She smiles at it, takes a satisfying deep breath and whispers to herself ‘the one’. The book in turn squeals in delight and boos all the other books left there waiting for someone else to come and do the same. Clutching the book to her heart she heads to the checkout counter and checks it in. Once done, she leaves to go home. She couldn’t wait to devour the book and let the words stimulate her mental palate.

The last time I walked into a library was in 2005. But soon work and other ‘life duties’ took over and even before I knew it, libraries slid onto the ‘extinct’ road.

Walk-In libraries are the ones that people actually walk into, pick up a book, glance through it, read the blurb or a few pages even and if they don’t like it they keep it back. But if they do, into the library cart it went and the scene continued till they’ve had their fill of books to last them a few days or weeks. These kinds of libraries are almost extinct. Now you have the more fancy ones called ‘online libraries’ where you log-in (which I am sorry to say is in no way a comparison to walking into a library) and choose the books you want. You cannot randomly glance through a book; you can’t even pick up that book for you to decide whether you’d want to read that book or not. No, that depends purely on the blurbs which are typed off onto the site. You do not have the luxury of saying to yourself ‘hmmm, this book sounds interesting, I wonder what it is about’ and then go on to actually read a few pages of it before making a decision.

Online libraries have their advantages and disadvantages, I give you that. They definitely do cut down on the travel time, they give you the option of pick-up and delivery which means time is not much of a constraint. You can just let them know when you’d like your books to be picked up and delivered and it’s done! Most guarantee to do so the very next day. Also and I feel this is a major advantage especially for the people who work full-time, they really don’t need to squeeze in a ‘return books’ on their To-do list. One click and you’re set.

On the other hand the disadvantages also are aplenty. What if the site conks off, what if your computer conks off, what if you don’t have a computer, what if you don’t have an internet connection, what if your internet connection is wonky, etc.

What I truly miss is the ‘picking up a book, finding a quiet corner and sitting down and randomly glancing through the pages’ part. Plus just the sheer thrill of being in a library has gone missing. The smell of fresh new unopened pages of a book or picking up a book that has been read by countless people countless number of times; all that is gone from an online version of a library.

I don’t know how many people would actually pick up random books from an online library. I mean how many of us would scroll through various pages before we actually choose one or say ‘hey this might sound interesting’. We might scroll through a couple of pages but twenty of them, I highly doubt it. With the pace the world is going and time literally slipping through our fingers; online libraries do come as a blessing for many people out there.

I remember when in school, we had a ‘library period’ for reading. We’d pick up a book from our school library and mark it in our calendars to take home. Most of the books were of course for kids and youngsters but nevertheless it was a thrill reading the likes of Nancy Drew and Famous Five and Secret Seven etc. it was one of my favourite times in school.  Now it’s more about X-boxes and Play Stations and video games et al for kids these days.

Knowing that someday books may turn out to be ‘extinct’ too really is very creepy to me. Reading a soft copy of a book is not the same as reading a hard copy. Holding a book in your hand and flipping each page unsure of the surprises it’s going to spring on you next is something that excites me far more than reading something on word or a pdf. But I guess that’s just me. Or is it?

What about you, dear readers? Do you miss walking into a library or do you prefer the online option?

©NJ