Big Bounce – Part 7

When they returned home from the hospital, Sameer was more worried about work than anything else. He was busy talking to himself loudly about the work that must have gone unattended that day. Arya, however, was worried about something else. She urged him to stop worrying about work and pay a little more attention to his own body but he kept mumbling to himself. She asked him to stop talking and rest on the bed. When Sameer kept getting hysterical about work, Arya butted in.

“Today things could have turned out to be really bad. You are lucky to be discharged so quickly. You have no idea what the reports tomorrow might suggest. So stop worrying about work and look at yourself a little.”

“Oh no! I have to take another leave tomorrow. Who would do all the work there? My boss is going to kill me.”

Arya grabbed his phone, “Give me his number. I’ll call him and tell him that you won’t be coming to work for a week. If he comes here to kill you, he’ll have to go through me first.”

Sameer was awed, “Oh babe, I know that you will fight with the devil if you have to.”

Arya threw the phone back at him, “You only have one work to do tomorrow. Go and get that report and rest all day. You will not do anything else tomorrow.”

“But…”

“And rest your little head too. You have to give your body some rest. What happened today was not normal.”

“I feel quite fine right now.”

“Trembling in pain and nearly fainting is not fine.”

Sameer turned mute.

Arya continued screeching, “What kind of work do you do that forbids you from revealing a chronic pain to your spouse? What’s the point of earning so much if you die like this?”

“Who said anything about dying?”, Sameer playfully replied. “I am going to bother you for at least another fifty years.”

“If you bother me even for a minute more, I’ll kill you myself.”

“Have I ever told you that you look beautiful when you are angry?”

Arya put up an enraged face, “What’s so beautiful about this?”

“That little nose turning red.”

“That’s it. Where’s the knife?”

“Alright, alright. No more jokes. Just come and sit with me for a little while. See the good part about me fainting — now we can spend the day together. How I wish I could faint everyday!”

“Sameer! Don’t ever…”

“Alright. Alright. Who would dare to take me away when you are here to protect me?”

Arya hugged Sameer tightly, “I wouldn’t let anybody. Never ever.”

Big Bounce – Part 6

Arya was about to leave for work when her phone began buzzing. It was Sameer.

“Now what could the guy want?” she thought to herself before picking up the phone.

“Hello, Arya. Sameer here. I need you to meet me at the hospital.”

Arya did not believe him at first, “Nice try, honey. Haven’t you annoyed me enough today already?”

“I am serious,” Sameer pleaded in a sincere tone. “I was waiting at the bus stop when the pain in my back became unbearable. Karan offered to take me to the hospital but I told him not to skip work.”

Arya’s face turned grave, “Is everything alright?”

Sameer faithlessly assured her, “Yes, yes; everything’s alright.”

Arya was not the kind of person to fall for any false assurances, “Sameer, if everything is alright then why are you going to the hospital?”

“I am just feeling a bit of a pain.”

“What kind of a pain?”

“I don’t know. I told you, it’s paining around my back.”

“You’re going to the hospital for a back pain?”

“It’s more than what I can bear now.”

“What? How long have you been bearing this pain?”

“For some time.”

“And why did you never tell me about it?”

“I thought it was just a minor ache and it will go away.”

“Very well, doctor. So smart of you, as always.”

Sameer pleaded again, “Arya, please just come to the hospital. I will explain to you everything. I need you here. You know how afraid I am of doctors.”

Arya suppressed her fury, “Yes, I know that very well.”

“I have taken the day off from work. You might also have to take an off today. I am really sorry.”

Again, Arya suppressed her fury, “Yes, I know that too.”

Sameer now had two problems to tackle. A back pain and a fuming wife, “Arya, don’t be mad at me. Just come here please.”

Without any further delay, Arya rushed to the hospital. She knew something was wrong. Sameer would never take a day off from work for something trivial. Arya was worried. A drop of sweat glistened on her forehead.

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.

Laugh At Your Fears

Oh my dear girl
Laugh at your fears
Out there is a world
Crueler than it appears

Let it not frighten, scare you
When a wild storm nears
Let it not disturb, tear you
Darling, laugh at your fears

When you are feeling lonely
When certainty disappears
Remember one thing only
Learn to laugh at your fears

When the terrifying demons grin
Their haunting sound reach your ears
There is one way to win
Baby, you have to laugh at your fears

Nobody ever taught me
Through all these dreaded years
So daughter go one up on me
Laugh back at your fears

Tonight We Have No Food To Eat

We’ve got no food to eat
But we’ve got stories to tell
So come on children line up around
The night will pass on well

Wanna hear about a dragon?
Or about a little dino?
Yes the one who got really upset
When he hurt his giant toe

Or we can discuss fairies
Elves, dwarfs and gnomes
Who built in an underground cave
Their beautiful magical homes

Or why not tell some horror tales
Of those who defied death
Who spit venom as they please
Who leak blood with their breath

Oh I have got a great story
About God who lives above
He blesses us with hope and patience
With family, strength and love

Oh baby I know you’re hungry
Let a new story be read
Tonight we have no food to eat
These stories are our bread