Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The lament of a sister

We'll get you a brother,
They promised;
Running errands
Outside our nest,
Pushing my wedding-cart,
Running our family-name,
Sustaining their withering souls;
Never lamenting
The sisters I could have had,
Not even once.
Its okay, I offered.
Its fun catching fireflies alone.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The blade of time

She was tall for her age. Lanky. Bony. And Spartan. She had that don’t mess with me permanence pasted on her face, even in her early years. Odette was not easy to be with. And Odette was not popular. Not ever since she had been reported in pre-school for mauling a boy thrice her size. He had devoured her lunch secretly before lunch hours.
Odette was counseled and reded before being re-admitted. All she had understood was that if she did not fall in line with others, she would be outcast. The doors of knowledge would close on her, perhaps forever. More than anything else, she dreaded that darkness. And then one of the teachers fed her with some story about the infamous crocodile well in the old compound. The unwieldy Odette yielded to the stifling discipline of school. It could be the fear of ending up being a nescient and ignorant or the fear of being fed to crocodiles. But somehow she managed to stay out of trouble, deporting with modest reserve in school hours. Though, at home, she was wild and untamed, engaging in ruckus and rumpus with her younger brother Dariel, all the time.
Gradually, it was like wake up and smell the routine.
Until that summer afternoon.
It was her class for numerals. She had mastered 1 to 5 in an unclear hand. She stood in the queue to get her sheet appraised. There were some 5 students in front of her. The line was moving at snail-pace.
4 students to go.
3. Ah! They were almost there.
2. Soon now!
The teacher started scolding the boy, twisting his ear and shoving him out of the classroom. Perhaps taking him to the principal’s office. But they had not been excused. So, she waited in the queue.
After a few minutes, Dariel rushed in. Scared. Panicky. Looking over his shoulder again and again. There was an unmistakable red blush on his face. A handprint. He hugged her tight and sobbed into her embrace.
Who was it, Dariel?
Norman was year older than her. A confirmed browbeat. And Dariel was just a kid. Odette took a deep breath.
You stand here. My teacher is going to come anytime. You show her my classwork and tell her that I had to go out to talk to Norman, Okay? And don’t you cry. I will be back soon.
Odette handed over her notebook to Dariel who watched her disappear out of the classroom door, still sobbing and wiping his face with the cuff of his shirt.
Odette found Norman near the drinking-water facility.
Norman, she called out. Her voice stern and severe.
She could not wait to talk and reason. She had to do it fast and quick. So, she lifted her hand and slapped him on his face, loosely but forcefully. Her bony hand stinging and blushing by the impact. Her handprint distinct on Norman’s face.
She turned back almost instantly, expecting Norman to hit her from behind. But all she heard was loud shouts. Some commotion happening in the background. She did not look back. She had to reach the safety of her classroom.
Norman’s accusation was faster than her footsteps. She was detained in the corridor by his class teacher. Taken to the principal’s office. She accepted having slapped Norman. She did not volunteer the fact that he had slapped Dariel to begin with. She was suspended. For a week.
Her mother was surprised to see her home early.
Home already? Where’s Dariel?
He is getting my classwork examined … and I … I don’t have to go to school for rest of the week.
Her mother looked up from the sink, the soapy scrubber in her hands, the detergent dripping on the dishes in the sink, and water from the faucet running waste.
The water from the faucet was running waste. The detergent dripped on the dishes in the sink. She looked out of the windowsill, a soapy scrubber in her hands. Odette choked back the trees.
She had asked Dariel to help her convince dad about her boyfriend. There were too many barriers between the families and she was fighting alone. Dariel had simply shrugged his shoulders and walked away.
What can I possibly say in the matter, Odette. It’s between you and dad.
The match was never approved.
Hey, where’s your brother? Have to send him to market.
Left him in the classroom, haven’t seen him since.

Odette barged out of kitchen.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Maybe next time...

She didn’t look up the details of suitors now. This one was, anyways, late. Prejudice was beginning to blur the rationale. She moseyed through the labyrinth and watched the dying sun. Tired of enduring the cliché, phony, glamour of the shopping-plaza, she typed a goodbye and then back-spaced it. She knew she couldn’t, rather, wouldn’t hit the send button. Not with mom’s words resonant, “Maybe this time, you can be persuaded otherwise”. She bought a bestseller from a peddler and was halfway through the sixth chapter when he arrived. A familiar wave of ennui spread through her.

Maybe next time…

PHOTO PROMPT - © Kent Bonham
Courtesy: Friday Fictioneers

Linking with : Friday Fictioneers

Thursday, June 25, 2015

F is for ... Family

For all that I am,
For all that I can be,
For all that I will be,
There is no force
More propelling,
More steering,
More balancing
The love of my folks.
A part of their blood,
Their flesh
Their genes;
A part of their dreams
And aspirations and hopes;
A part of their hearts and souls;
I am nothing,
Nothing but dust,
Nothing but zilch,
Nothing but bones and flesh
Without their tiny resemblances
Coursing through my being.
They define me
They refine me, too.
My each step, every single breath
Is because of them.
Thank you Lord!
For I can find you distributed
Bits and pieces
In this human tapestry
Closest to me.
I choose to call it my family.

Jenny Matlock

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The last hurrah

She savored her stay with us.
Every single moment.
A slight pause,
Miniscule almost.
And then
It was time for her,
To wander
Beyond the horizon,
Behind the sun.
I still remember her last hurrah,

Alright! 80 years of heaven are up

Thursday, June 18, 2015

E is for ... Evenings

The evening descends,
The beauteous dusk sweeping the day
In shadows,
The eventide
Heralding a stillness to the rush.
The birds, ravens and crows and sparrows,
All flocking back to the safety of their nests,
The trees sighing,
Their breaths labored, short bursts of oxygen,
Being replaced earnestly with that counterpart carbon dioxide.
The crickets chirping at night,
The lovelorn staccato of katydids,
Causing a racket in heart.
The silver globe rising
From behind the canopy of deodars
Coming down for a little while
To celebrate this life with us
And slowly,
Like every slightest step measured,
All activities ceasing beneath the
Spread of stars and skies.
Slowly the dusk
Blending to night
Fusing into dawn,
Renewed, revived
And resuscitated.
Thy hand has led us
Through another day.
Thy light guarding us through
This dark night
And Thy goodness
Shall shower yet another dawn.
Our trespasses and violations
We are watched and kept
By Thee
In Your tender care.
What more could we ask for,
But to spend this hour of rest
Mindful of your blessings.

Jenny Matlock

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Beatifying Plunge

The twin
Caramel pools
A thousand secrets,
Lurking in their
Unfathomable depths,
Waiting to be unraveled.
Radiant glimpse,
Catching me haply
And holding me, enamored.
My only wish is
To drown
Forever in that abyss,
To jump-in and sink.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

D is for ... Dinner

The family gathered together,
Around the old mahogany table,
The night coming alive
In the clamor of spoons and speeches,
Clueing in each other
About the day that was,
Planning the day that will be,
Occasionally making faces
At not-so-favorite dish
Or perhaps a repeat menu,
And still ending up eating it
With globs of love and joy,
The hands reaching out for bowls
At the same time,
And spirits
Merrily bonding over salads,
And lentils and rice,
Thank you Lord,
That there is dinner on my plate,
And breakfast on my table
And family to share it with.
Bless my Lord,
The hands that
Prepare it with love,
The hearth that nourishes us,
And holds for a guest or two.
Thank you Lord
That I can relish the taste

And savor the blessing.

Jenny Matlock

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Grieving with Akshat

Sweltering June morning had a lazy feel. The day was ripe by the time Meira left for office. And by the time she reached there, the sun was almost overhead. The central air conditioner had been shut down due to some issues with voltage stabilization. And in the absence of continuous roar, everything seemed loud and blaring. The voices that sounded soft in the din of air conditioner now sounded unpleasant and penetrating. It was like they were accustomed to huge decibels without realizing the impact. It was okay initially, sitting in her cramped seat but with passage of time, she started getting a heavy feeling. She felt like she was breathing stale air, laden with warm dust. She turned around to ask Akshat to open the window. But Akshat was not in his seat. In the rush of work, she did not realize his absence. She got up and opened the window. A couple of pigeons on the ledge below flew away, flapping their wings noisily. But the whiff of fresh air felt so refreshing. A couple of heads turned towards her, spared a smile from their schedule and were again lost in computers. That was a due acknowledgment of her initiative. She sighed. She missed the young energy. The nearest in her age group happened to be Akshat. They had 10 years gap between them with Akshat leading the age board. But he still cracked a joke or two and made it a little easy to while the office hours. He had appeared to be busy today and so they had mostly worked in silence. Meira returned to task at hand, the fresh air making it bearable to work. The next time she looked up was after a good one and a half hour of dedication. But something had made her look up. A sudden clamour. She turned towards the source of disturbance and saw Akshat keeping his helmet aside. And he looked harried. It was strange enough that he had gone somewhere without telling her. The usual practice was to keep one another in loop just in case some authority calls you up. And it was disturbing that he was silent and brooding on return. Meira struggled with the question and then asked him, "where did you go at this hour of the day, with this sun and all"? If anything her profile was teaching her to draft things diplomatically; this sounded like concern and not question. Safer. Akshat managed a tired smile, "had to collect my son's reports". His son. His 12 year old thalassemic son. Who needs blood transplants every second week. Whose treatment was the reason why Akshat had sought compassionate transfer to capital city. Whose treatment was the reason why he had refused to participate in promotion process. Whose family spent the days hoping for a bone-marrow match. "What did the doctors say"? Meira instinctively regretted the question. Even before his face contorted with pain, with sadness, with grief. He muttered something under his breath. All she could catch was the word "worse". And then Akshat busied himself with some papers on his desk. Meira felt her throat go dry. She wanted to say something positive, something hopeful but words died on her tongue. How do you comfort someone who is watching his son edging towards death with every breath. You do not, period. You busy yourself with work and let them live their lives in peace sans the consolation. They do not need pity. They need lives beyond the hospitals. So Meira buried the sympathies in her heart and shuffled through the file on her desk. Often her eyes darted towards Akshat. But he was lost in some manpower planning data. At least he was working. He left a little early than usual. And Meira wondered what answers he would take home today to his wife and son.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

C is for ... Children

The older one
Broken nibs
And empty cartridges
While gaining millimeters daily
And loosing milk teeth
Now and then.
The younger one
Scuttling behind
His not-so-old
Mentor in all nuances,
Eager to grow up
And match strides with him.
And finding stances together
They create a beautiful,
Perfectly ordered chaos.
And while I am undecided
If I would prefer
Yet another round of UNO
(Which I keep losing
This boy is really good at it)
Catch me if you can
(Which I will have to lose now
Because I won the last round
With my nestling),
I know, I know I will have to
Make a choice soon,
One thing I am sure of
Is that
This is my heaven here,
In their blessed company.
It is really glorious,
This growing up with them again.
Thank you Lord!
Thank you.

Sometimes you just have to leave it there.

Jenny Matlock

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Moonlight Revelations

From behind the silhouettes
Of pointed cedars, sending
The sweet iridescent caresses,
Shimmering and shivering
In sparkling midnight sky.
Splaying, playing, waxing, waning,
Hiding. Seeking.
1.2 light-seconds away
(To be exact),
Always in heart.
Inspiring to look up,
Look high,
Look further.