A Misty Morning
by Roshan Chutkey
“I have done it again amma! I have done it again!” she repeated, screaming gibberish, loud enough to feel the filtered sun rays cleaving her into two portions, one siphoning off the body’s share from the other gradually; that prickly feeling which got her on terms with reality. But her eyes weren’t half-open or drowsy; instead they were bright and wide, leaping out to reach, to capture, the fading dream! Disheartened, she turns to the window panes, sighs, and then, grins.
The dream, it was old, a recurring five-year old one – She walks up to the Oscar podium in her unique gait, dressed in a designer saree, to receive her best actress award amidst enthusiastic audience going berserk as she delivered her edgy speech, “All that glitters is not gold, but some that glitter are worth far more than gold.” Clapping, cheering go louder. “I just want to close my ears and freeze these precious moments.” The pulsating voice never felt more speechless. And the moist eyes never had a clearer view. Impalpably, she senses joy within resonating with the electric atmosphere around, with the pride the television sets in India jostled for full volume, with the pent up tear glands her amma relented gleefully; all until, the sun played spoilsport.
No wonder, her favourite pastime was watching movies; more so, imitating the antics of her favourite stars from those masala movies, where style meant the protagonist looked in a direction which is at an angle to the one he walked in, where a damsel’s stole brushed past the actor’s face and this blew up into an interplay of song and dance, where a wiggle of an eyebrow and a thump on a thigh was all that took the hero to send the goons flat on the floor. She recalled loving them all, didn’t she?
And her dream, it got the much needed fillip when news of Slumdog Millionaire broke. How much she loved watching the little Rubina Ali (a child actor in Slumdog Millionaire) at the Oscar pageant? And how much she hated Rubina’s father when he apparently sold her to a family in Dubai? Much of a muchness! The parallels couldn’t have been starker.
Some of the mystique in the surroundings departed.
Quite like the shy grin on her face which got replaced by an array of thoughts, one stemming from the other, loosely bound, which shared little causal relationship with one another. Only common thing, if at all, was the ticking clock that bore testimony to them but couldn’t keep pace with them.
Conjuring up her figments of imagination? Not quite! But the dream, quite so, at least! So integral, it defined her life; it gave her solitude, his only companion. “We will all be lifeless mannequins if not for these dreams. They cost us nothing, yet they are priceless. Persevere,” her amma taught her, didn’t she?
Like the last speck of dough residue which continued to stick to her palms? Like the last set of smoke molecules she could smell, long after the ashtray was cleaned? Like the semen stains on the dish-dash-ah, which held disdainfully, after an undercover amalgamation, she witnessed?
There were other puzzling questions for which she had no answers.
“If women are preferred for maids, why aren’t they employed as chefs at the star hotels?”
What’d her amma have to say to that?
Ethos of life, perhaps, weighed heavier, like the gong in the clock! The chain of thoughts has to stop now.
“Come on, snap to it!” she hears, almost!
Rolling up the mat into a cheroot, she rushes to the kitchen; all in a tearing hurry!
The fourteen-year old’s day just began.
Roshan works for an investment bank in Kuwait. In his spare time, he enjoys reading and writing, both prose and poetry. Contact Roshan.