Big Bounce – Part 5

It was a dull Friday morning like it is when you have to go to work though you wish to stay in bed a little longer. Arya was busy preparing breakfast for herself and Sameer before they rushed off to their workplaces.

Sameer stepped inside the kitchen and offered help. Arya was naturally taken aback as Sameer had never done that before.

“No, thank you,” smiled Arya, “It is almost done. Why this sudden change though?”

Sameer put his arms around her, “Oh I don’t know. I just felt a little love for you today.”

“And on other days?”

“I love you on all the days, Arya. I just don’t express it enough.”

“Don’t you think you should do something about it?”

“No, not at all,” quipped Sameer. “I think I’ll continue loving you.”

“One more joke,” warned Arya swaying a knife, “and I’ll eat you raw for breakfast.”

“I just love your style,” Sameer continued laughing as he pulled her cheeks. “What’s for breakfast?”

“It’s right in front of you. Can’t you see? Now stop annoying me and go and lay the table.”

As Sameer walked out of the kitchen, Arya looked at the sky through the window and thanked God for a beautiful start to the day.

As they were about to finish a quick breakfast Sameer came up with a suggestion. “We should do something tonight or over the weekends. What do you say?”

“Like what?”

“Like anything – dinner, movie, binge-watch, anything. You pick.”

Arya asked suspiciously, “No, no, no. What have you done this time? Have you broken something? Have lost something? Have you…”

“No, no, no,” imitated Sameer, “I feel happy today. I feel different today. Maybe it’s because you are looking beautiful.”

Before Arya could rebut him, Sameer got up to hug her and accidentally knocked a glass of milk on the floor.

Arya laughed at his clumsiness, “I guess nobody in this house is used to you showing too much love. Now go get running or else you will miss your bus today.”

“No, darling. I have never missed my bus and I never will.”

“Enough now. Go now and take care. And remember…”

“Remember what?”

“Two things. First – come home early tonight. We’ll have something special for dinner. Second – I love you too.”

“Oh yes I will. I hope today isn’t a long day.”

Arya smiled, “I hope so too.”

Big Bounce – Part 4

Even though she was standing in a serene environment, Arya was bubbling with emotions inside. Having been caught in a tug-of-war between sorrow and madness, she exclaimed her heart’s desire. “I want to see him.”

A voice shot out of the enveloping darkness to answer her, “I am afraid you can’t.”

“Why not?”

“Because you are still alive and he is not.”

Those words echoed painfully in her heart, “Why? Why him?”

When she received no answers, she continued haranguing.

“Please tell me why,” she sobbed. “What was his fault? What did he do to deserve this untimely death?”

“Nothing ever is untimely. Everyone must one day come back home. Someday you too will return home.”

Arya was, however, relentless, “No, no, no. I want my Sameer back. He belongs with me, not here. I am his world and he is mine. He is everything to me and I cannot imagine a single moment without him. What have I done to deserve something so terrible as losing that one person I love the most?

“How am I supposed to live now without him? Why did you not take me away too? He was everything to me, he was a meaning to my life, he was a part of me and now he has gone away. A part of me has died, a part of me that will never be recovered, a part of me that will never be the same again.

“We had dreams, we had plans, we had time; now all that is left is a fleeting memory. What am I to do with it? Why don’t you take me away too? Without him I see no purpose in living. In an instant, I have lost my world. In an instant, my dreams are shattered. Say something. What do I do now?”

The voice instructed her to take a few steps forward. When she did, she sensed a creature standing not too far away from her. Slowly the creature opened its  wings and revealed itself to be a bright and massive butterfly. Its wings were adorned with blazing stars and its eyes were as dark as a hole. Though the brightness was overpowering, Arya was not blinded by it; instead she felt a sense of calm surge through her veins.

The butterfly shrinked down to Arya’s frame and asked her, “What is it that you want?”

“All I want,” exclaimed Arya, “is a chance to say goodbye to him. I want to spend more time with him. I want to be with him in his final moments. Is it too much to ask for?”

“No,” came the answer, “what you are asking for is too little. Very well, you shall have your wish. I won’t drink his nectar all at once but drop by drop. Please close your eyes and take a deep breath.”

With a speed greater than the speed of light, Arya was teleported from an unworldly realm to a bright sunny Friday morning in the comforts of her bed. Next to her was Sameer and he was snoring loudly.

Big Bounce – Part 3

Arya woke up to see some earthworms crawling over her. In a flash, she hurled them off her body through one swing of her hand. Their faces turned red as they let their frustration known and then slowly disappeared beneath the ground. “You always do this to us,” she thought she heard them say.

She dusted her dress with trembling hands and got up on her feet and began to look around in a peculiar dread and amazement. One way she could see little children holding hands and sliding down a giant rainbow together; another way she could see tiny fishes resting in the shade of trees as tall as mountains. One way she saw an aurora of dazzling colours chasing after a wooden clock, another way she was thrilled to see two mirrors conversing. She looked up and she found darkness to be her roof; she looked down and it was the same darkness as her floor. The ground on which she stood, though dark and uncomprehensible, was soft. It felt like she was standing, or rather floating, on a cloud. She rubbed her eyes but nothing changed. This was an unusually dark nighttime in an unusual world.

“Sameer!” she wanted to scream but she couldn’t; something held her back. The events of the day were still circling around her head and she didn’t want to go through them again in her head. All she wished for was Sameer. She wished to see him, hold him, talk to him; she wished to see him alive again.

As she gently marched forward trying to make sense of this unworldly place, her feet hit a block and she stopped. Unable to see it clearly, she bent down and touched the object. Immediately, the object began to glow and revealed itself to be a giant tortoise. The tortoise looked at her and smiled, “I knew you’d come. Let me take you.”

Something inside her urged her to climb it and she did. “Where will you take me?” she asked.

The tortoise smiled again, “Where I have always taken you — the place you have come to visit.”

The tortoise rose from the ground and slowly began to carry Arya skywards. “Don’t you want to spend more time here with us?”

Arya pretended not to hear him as she continued to gaze all around her. She saw the fantastical creatures down below getting more and more blurry as the distance between them grew. Around her, several other tortoises ascended to the skies with people resting on them. She couldn’t hold back her curiosity, “Who are they and where are they going?” This time it was the tortoise’s turn to ignore her.

“We have reached,” the tortoise told her after a while. “You may descend now.”

As she leaped off the tortoise, her eyes began to feast on the fulgurous display of lights forming a door. She stepped closer to the door and it opened itself up. She took a deep breath and entered the other side to find herself in another realm. This realm wasn’t much different to the previous realm except that this was darker and empty. Arya, however, felt her nerves calming down. She felt the presence of someone or something around her. She didn’t understand what to do next. Everything about the place seemed vaguely familiar to her.

“Welcome home,” came a greeting from the blowing winds.

Arya looked all around trying to understand where the voice came from but all her eyes could see was sheer darkness.

“Shall we begin?” the voice spoke again from beyond the darkness.

“Yes,” replied Arya. “Let us begin.”

Big Bounce – Part 2

It was a sunny Friday morning as it always is. Arya was busy preparing breakfast for herself and Sameer before they rushed off to their workplaces.

An agitated Sameer pleaded, “Arya dear, can I skip today’s breakfast?”

“No,” Arya replied curtly.

Sameer wasn’t going to give in without a fight, “Arya, I am getting late. It’s okay if I skip breakfast once. Nothing’s going to happen to me. See how healthy I am. Can you see my biceps? Can you?”

Arya, too, was always up for a fight, “Those biceps exist because I insist on you having breakfast daily.”

Sameer threw a counter-punch, “Yes, I know. That is why I am saying skipping breakfast once is not going to hurt me.”

Arya knew how to dodge any attack, “You are not making any sense, Sameer.”

Sameer grew increasingly helpless, “I am going to miss my bus today.”

Arya could smell victory now, “Take a cab, but don’t miss your breakfast.”

They sat down for breakfast eventually. End of Round I

Sameer sprinted towards the finish line while Arya was still slowly savouring the dishes she had prepared. It wasn’t long before Sameer got up in a hurry and turned around to leave. “I better be going now.”

Round II was itching to get started.

“Not yet, Mister. Your glass of milk is still waiting,” spoke Arya without even looking at him.

Sameer could sense danger lurking around. Instead of having a futile argument with Arya again, he thought it would be much faster instead to empty that glass of milk as quickly as possible. He turned around to grab it but ended up dropping the glass on the floor.

Arya gave him a death stare, “Great. You’ve done it again.”

“Oh no! I am sorry, Arya. I would have cleaned it up but I am in such a hurry. You understand, right?”

“Yes, yes, I understand. You go and catch your bus now. And don’t be in a hurry or you’ll get yourself hurt.”

“Oh thank you so much. I thought I’d see a fuming Arya but you reacted like an angel. That is why I love you so much.”

“Enough now. Go now and take care. And remember…”

“Remember what?”

“Two things. First – come home early tonight. We’ll have something special for dinner. Second – I love you too.”

“Oh yes I will. I hope today isn’t a long day, Arya. I really hope so.”

Big Bounce – Part 1

It was a sunny Friday morning and the sun had cast its net all around the cold bustling land warming it up in the process. There was chatter on the streets and screaming children in the neighbourhood. It was one of those days when the weather was neither too warm nor too cold, the kind of days when you don’t notice the weather at all. Despite the bliss knocking at her window, a young woman had no time to admire it.

Arya’s phone was buzzing. While arranging the cutlery, she quickly glanced at her phone to check the caller’s name but the call was from an unknown number. She thought that it must be for some insurance offer. She wondered for a moment if it would be worth it to get an insurance to stop this flood of calls. The idea seemed to appeal to her until she realised that she might still get inundated. Her phone was still buzzing. She looked up at the clock and laughed at the misery of the people who have to call and offer insurance policies to people so early in the day. The day had barely begun and she had no inclination to hear the monotonous yacking on the other end.

The phone stopped buzzing but before she could thank God, it rang again. She glanced at the screen and saw that it was the same number. Surely, this could not be an insurance offer. It had to be something else. She picked up the phone with a slight hesitation. A voice in her head told her that something was wrong.

The voice on the other side spoke hurriedly, “Hello?”

Arya’s fears began to grow, “Hello, who’s this?”

“Ma’am, your husband has had an accident. He is…”

Arya went numb as if a bolt of lightning had passed through the call and hit her. She could hear the voice on the other side speak but her ears did not process anything.

“Please get here as soon as possible”.

The forks and spoons in her hand dropped to the floor. She was about to join them but she grabbed a hold of herself. Suddenly the blissful morning had acquired a solemn undertone. A young woman’s husband was caught in the sun’s net.

When she reached the hospital, she saw a worried Trisha standing near the receptionist’s desk.

Arya flung at her with questions, “What is going on, Trisha? What are you doing here?”

Trisha burst out crying, “Oh Arya, it’s such a terrible day. Karan and Sameer have had an accident. They…”

Arya grabbed her arms and shook her hard, “What? How?”

Trisha continued crying, “I don’t know, Arya. I don’t know. I only arrived here a few minutes ago.”

The lady at the counter interrupted them, “Third floor — to the right.”

On reaching the floor, they found Karan coming out of the treatment room. They helped him sit down on a seat before bombarding him with questions.

Karan explained, “I don’t know what happened. We missed our bus to work. So we decided to take a cab. We had not gone too far and were just having a conversation when suddenly a truck rammed into us. I don’t remember much after that except that even Sameer and the cab driver were badly injured. I think I lost consciousness immediately after and when I woke up I found myself here. I got off lightly I believe. I cannot thank God enough.”

Trisha hugged him tightly, “Oh Karan, I am so glad to know that you are okay.”

Arya stood there with her heart in her mouth, “What about Sameer? Where is he?”

Before Karan could say something, a doctor approached him, “Excuse me, I need to speak to you about your friend.”

“Yes, doctor. How is he? This is Arya, Sameer’s wife.”

Arya’s heart started beating heavily, “What happened, doctor? How is Sameer?”

The doctor turned to Arya, “I am sorry ma’am. We tried our best but we could not save him. He had lost a lot of blood before he arrived here.”

This time Arya did drop to the floor as her senses deserted her. She could faintly hear Trisha and Karan scream her name but what she could hear loud and clear now were the last words Sameer spoke to her before leaving home for work this morning — I hope today isn’t a long day, Arya. I really hope so.

Hide And Seek – Part 13/13

A long, long time ago
Darkness and Light dwelled in Heaven
Closest friends you might ever see
Inseparable, the two of them were
Running around, jumping, playing
Spreading happiness everywhere
Always together

They were also God’s favourite children
He loved them so much
That He let the world be their playground
But He also gave them some duties
He asked them
To keep the playground clean and safe
To keep it intact
To not let any harm come to it
All they had to do was keep the balance
Of Light and Darkness
In every corner of the world

One ill-fated day
While leisuring with Darkness
Light forgot all about her duties
A portion of the universe
Was left unattended
It began to rot
And soon it withered
Withered beyond recovery

When Light realised her folly
Fear gripped her heart
Afraid that God might punish her
For neglecting her duty
For letting harm come to the universe
Darkness was worried for his friend too

Light trembled, “What do I do? What have I done? How can I be so careless? What will happen of me? How would I defend myself?”

Darkness said, “I think you should admit to the truth. Go ahead, and own up. It is scary and difficult but it will be the right thing to do.”

“Oh no, I can’t. I just can’t,” cried Light. “What if He stops loving me for what I did? What if He doesn’t let us play together anymore?”

“Whatever He may decide, it will be right,” answered Darkness. “But we must also do what is right. You must speak to Him before it is too late.”

Light decided not to disclose the truth supposing that God may never find out about it

When God summoned the two for an explanation
Light did not utter a single word
She stood still
But her heart was shaking

Darkness looked at Light and realised
That she was too scared to do anything
He decided to lie for her
Lie something, anything
He knew God would catch him
But something had to be done
He was about to say something when…

“It is my fault,” Light spoke. “There is no excuse for it. I let harm come to our playground. I was negligent. You may punish me as you deem fit.” She turned and looked at Darkness with tears filling her eyes. Darkness looked back at her with a faint smile, reassuring her that she had done the right thing.

And God gave His verdict

“You have been negligent, but you have also been brave enough to own up to it. I could restore that portion of the world but I wouldn’t. That is your punishment. The good part is that it is your only punishment. I forgive you. You may play together again. The playground is still yours and open and vast. Go and play. The playground is yours and it will forever be yours. It will be whatever you make of it.”

Light and Darkness looked at each other in jubilation. Darkness ran away from the spot, “Catch me if you can.” Chasing his tail, Light said, “I will. I will.”

And they have been playing Hide and Seek ever since, but Light has never been able to catch Darkness yet. Whenever she comes close to catching him, he disappears.

Hide And Seek – Part 12/13

The boy could do nothing but watch as his skin slowly turned golden with light emanating from each pore.

The room, that had only just encountered Light, was now glowing, burning like a star.

The boy wanted to cry, not because he was in pain, but because he didn’t know what was happening to him. He didn’t know whether it was right or wrong, good or bad, true or not. All he knew was that he was helpless and had no powers to control anything that was happening to him or to the things around him.

He wanted to cry — wanted to cry but no tear came to his eyes. A little voice though, did reach his ears asking him to be calm and patient. Where did that voice come from? He didn’t have a clue. Probably from his heart. But he listened to it nevertheless. He dropped all his fears, confusion and thoughts on the floor, and let the situation take him over. He stood there, in the middle of the room, with arms wide open, with closed eyes, and with lips that broke a smile.

The window shattered first and all the shreds evaporated in the magical air. The door cracked and flew a thousand miles away. Next, the roof disappeared in the sky, while the floor was swallowed by the earth. Slowly, in bits and pieces, the room vanished leaving behind no trace of either itself or the things inside. All that was left was an open, green field wrapped in an enchanting twilight.

Hide And Seek – Part 11/13

“A hole in my heart? Impossible. I am certain that you drove him away. He feared you. He warned me not to let you in but I didn’t listen to him. Now he’s gone. I don’t think he will ever come back. I’ve lost a friend. And what have I gained? Nothing. Just a moment of brightness, a flicker of light, a temporary taste of paradise. This is not what I want. I want my friend back. Bring him back to me. I want to play Hide and Seek with him.”

“I’ll bring him back, but before that let us play hide and seek. I will bring him back only if you are able to catch me. Fair enough?”

“What if I am not able to catch you? What more will you take away from me?”

“Then you’d be left with neither me nor Darkness. Are you willing to play this game with me? Or are you afraid, just like your friend?”

“Play, I will.”

“Very well then. Close your eyes and hold my hand.”

“Hold your hand? You are supposed to hide while I count till ten. Have you not played this game before?”

Without further warning, she took his hand in hers and headed straight for his heart, passing through his skin, blood and bones

Hide And Seek – Part 10/13

She asked, “So where is Darkness, your friend, hiding?”

“I keep him in my pocket,” the boy answered

“How about I go inside your pocket, say hello to your friend, and break the curse?”

“No, no, no, no, no, no, …”

“Why is that?”

“I don’t know. I am scared. What if something happens?”

“That’s what happens when you stick around Darkness for so long. He is a great friend but he teaches you a lot of other things like fear…”

“But even if you go inside my pocket, Darkness will disappear; just like it has disappeared from this little room. This room had never known what it is like to be lit. Now if Darkness ever comes back, this room will loathe him. It will never be the same again. Things have changed.”

She smiled, “That’s what I am here for.”

“It is not easy to accept change even if it is for your own good…”

Without waiting another second, she jumped right inside his pocket and caused the boy tremendous panic. But just as quickly as she went in, she came out.

“Stop screaming, little boy. You’ve been duped.”

“Duped? What do you mean?” The little boy asked, recollecting his breath.

“Darkness does not dwell in your pocket.”

“That just could not be. He told me he stays there. I’ve seen him there. Surely he must have disappeared at the sight of you. Where else could he be?”

“He dwells in your heart,” she said

“My heart?”

“Yes, in a little hole in your heart.”

Hide And Seek – Part 9/13

“Why is my friend, Darkness, so afraid of you?” asked the little boy

And Light said —
“A long, long time ago
Darkness used to dwell in Heaven
And Light was his closest friend
They were inseparable
Running around, jumping, playing
Spreading happiness everywhere
Always together

“They were also God’s favourite children
He loved them so much
That He let the world be their playground
But He also gave them some duties
He asked them
To keep the playground intact
To not let any harm come to it
All they had to do
Was to travel to every corner of the world
Everyday

“One ill-fated day
While leisuring with Darkness
Light forgot all about her duties
A portion of the universe
Was left unattended
It began to rot
And soon it withered
Withered beyond recovery

“When God summoned the two
For an explanation
Light stood still
Without uttering a single word
Fear gripped her heart
Fearing the worst for Light
Darkness lied to God to save her

“But God knew the truth
And He was furious beyond words
Furious with Light
For neglecting her duties
And not owning up to her fault
And furious with Darkness for lying

“God punished them for their defiance
He let them have the playground
But cursed them such that they can never be together
Wherever there be Darkness, there will be no Light
And wherever there be Light, there will be no Darkness
It was a playground still
But they could not play together anymore

“God took away Darkness’s legs
And let him abound the universe
Cursing his heart with a fear of Light
He let Light keep her limbs
But cursed her such that
Wherever she will go
She will wipe out her best friend

“And that is why your friend, Darkness, is afraid of me.”

“So you and him could never be together? But surely God cannot be so cruel. He must have given you a way to break the curse too.”

“He did. The only way we can break the curse is by being together.”

“But that is what the curse forbids you from doing…”

Light merely smiled, “I know.”