The Day

Short Story

She looked beautiful yet tense and silent; she resembled a doll wrapped in grandeur. The Indian bridal outfit she wore had shimmers of gold and delicate red fabric. A red stole covered her braided head showing glimpses of white jasmine flowers decorating her hair. Her jewels reflected simplicity with a red bindi, maang tikka, tiny nose stud, black kohled eyes and subtle stained lips. A small round black kohl mark beneath her ear aligned with the tradition to ward off the ‘evil eyes’.

These seemed to fit her shapely body, accentuating its obvious charm perfectly. But she didn’t seem to be aware of the hustle and bustle around her. She was lost in her own world.

She was conscious that she should fill her eyes with a sparkle for her big day. But where was her mind?Was she happy with the wedding?

Her phone beeped and a text message appeared. As soon as she read “Yahin hoon mein”, a smile blossomed on her lips.She looked ahead and saw a briskness building up around her. With a deep breath, she tried bringing her mind back to the present –  “It’s my wedding day- the day!” she told herself.

No matter how much she pretended to be normal, she could not hold back the creeping feeling of being on the verge of transitioning to an entirely different ambience. “Was this called the cusp of a change, a life changing moment?” she wondered.

A nervousness, with a tinge of pleasant hues, enveloped her. A chain of memories and thoughts rushed in, reminding her about the uniqueness of the experience unfolding, the changeover to someone different, like a larva counting down to emerge from hibernation. How would she manage her new life in a strange place amidst a new family, possibly with entirely different cultural dimensions? The only thread of tenuous continuity would be provided by him! The thought created an effervescence to be with him instantly, though she knew that not possible.

True, they belonged to two different States with almost everything different – language, religion, culture, cuisine, tradition etc. These differences never crossed their minds when they fell in love. How much did such a short period of closeness change their hopes, dreams and expectations? In the proximity of each other, far away from the home and familiar faces, they had come to see each other’s company as a very secure, comforting and private shell to crawl in, sooner than later.

Just moments away from the much looked for occasion, thoughts of adjustments and alignment sprouted in her mind. It brought in an uneasiness quite out of place with the emotional build-up over the past few days.  

The family never stood against her happiness. A smile returned to her lips even as she remembered how smooth and supportive her parents were when she broke the news, quite nervously, about her choice of life partner. The refreshing thought of the ease with which she managed to convince her parents of her choice soothed her nerves, when she was eager to push away the nagging uneasiness.

“Thank you, mom; I know you are always there for me when I need”, suddenly out of nowhere, she thought of the cuddling arms of her mother which used to comfort her in her teenage mood swings.

Her thoughts crept back to him, and the time they had together. Whenever she slipped into her pensive mood, somehow, he sensed it. And he brought her up either with a call or message.How can someone get your vibes, silent and distant, when he is not around?

Even now, he seemed to have read her creeping restlessness. His message brought her back to the present. She looked through the text message and moved her hand over the lines, as if she was caressing his cheeks.

She did not see him for the last two days after the preliminary wedding rituals like mehndi and haldi. They could see each other only briefly at the time of the ceremonies. Whenever she complained about it over the phone, he just laughed aloud. He could sense her impatience to melt into an intense hug. She knew he felt the same, but he wouldn’t express it.

She conveyed her anxiety about his absence.Was she becoming too possessive, even before the ceremonies were over?

She brooded over the days that brought them closer. He had uprooted her from her routine shyness and aloofness. She didn’t realise the change until it became apparent with his presence. The realisation that he was the one who could afford her mood tantrums dawned on her even as they cozied up in the campus life.She never liked anyone imposing likes, dislikes and strong views. Even now she wonders, how they jelled together so seamlessly. He had the right spell on her, and she felt the intensity of reciprocation deep in her heart. Slowly yet within no time, he adapted to her nomadic spirit. She was madly in love with him.

Thinking of him and their relationship made her breathe brisker. Yes, now she was not hesitant or muted to express her love. Is maturity a step ladder that one crucial step makes you emboldened to proclaim your independence and attachment in one breath?

His little sister came and informed that it was time for the ceremony. The families were present in full strength. Smiling faces and inquisitive glances greeted her when she stepped into the hall.

Her sisters and cousins stood beside her. There were a few her classmates, their common friends.  They, too, have been longing for this day. Her parents joined hurriedly, though dad seemed a little tenser than mom. Her brother was standing near the stage. It was his moment to appear serious and obviously proud of his responsibilities in the show.

Shenoticed many smiling faces but felt too nervous to respond with the usual demeanour. Her eyes were searching for the face that she so desperately longed to see. She could see his smiling little sister and parents near the mandap waiting for the moment. After fleeting moments, her eyes caught up with what shewas desperately searching.

There he was, wearing a golden outfit with a red tilak on his forehead. He had his amazing naughty smile. She wanted to show her disappointment for his staying away the last two days. He could read it too. He just smiled mischievously. In another second, he got back his intense gaze over me. His face had so many unsaid expressions which she could read. He wanted to hug her; she could get it. She could not stop smiling, and obviously, he looked irritated by the taunting expressions she so succinctly wore. There were those rare moments, that generation after generation, young men and women lived through, cherished and kept enduringly safe, deep down their memory lane.

Their eye-to-eye talk was subdued and silent. Both could read the meanings of their unspoken expressions. Her brother came forward, held her hands, and led her to climb the steps of the stage. His one hand was over her shoulder. He was still the cute little sibling whom she loved so much. Now he was grown up and big enough to protect her, she thought playfully. Her eyes were on his face, smiling, yet her eyes became wet.

As soon as she reached, the smiling face at the mandap caught herglance.She could see his face glowing with happiness.The priest began reciting the hymns and rituals. She didn’t understand much;she had only seen these mainly on the Bollywood screens.

When the time came to tie the knot, he came forward, smiling and reading her face. He opened an embellished slender box that held a beautiful thin chain with tiny black beads and a pendant. He kept his word! “The chain was fragile and cute. He did not want the remembrance of our matrimony to be heavy on me!”, she thought.

The flower shower distracted them, and they looked around. Rituals continued for a few more minutes. He came forward and whispered in her ears,“And now I am legally your loving husband.”

She just poked his nose and said, “Oh, is that so? Then I am your lovely wife for life”. Her voice was a little louder.  The gathering broke into a spontaneous laughter.

May be years later, she would narrate the experience to her daughter, possibly even as she gets ready to ascend the steps to her own wedding ceremony. Life is like that, enriched with fun, love and sweet recollections.

Becoming A Kindle Addict

From Paperbacks To Kindle – A Journey.

I know many won’t digest the idea of kindle and ebooks, their excuses would be the feel of touching a real book, the smell of it, etc etc. I am sorry mate you are pathetic if you are still stuck to those illusions. Well hold the bricks before you throw them at me, listen to my reasoning or rather the journey and decide. As of now keep that brick down, it won’t be a comforting experience to hold weight and grudge while I takes you through my journey, the journey that made me a Kindle Addict. 

 When I started off I was also like many of the so called readers. I adored the used books, their color, and their time travel. It was my dad who introduced me to reading English books and about the device called Kindle Ebook reader. When I was uprooted from my native ( Malayalam Media School ) to the city I call Las Vegas of South Asia, Chennai, I was thrown into a whirlwind where I had no clue, because I had Malayalam as my second language while rest of the subjects were in English, and the language was truly foreign to me. It was my Dad who insisted that it could be drubbed by hard work; he was a man of positivity and hopes. He gave me 50 rupees, to buy the used books so that I could read and become acquainted with the language, at that point I was little aware that he was handing over a key to endless possibilities and probabilities. That’s how I embark upon the journey into the English literature.   

After considerable amount of reading and with time, I became close to a book vendor. He had a small set up of used books that included mostly dog eared academic books, at the roadside. His knowledge about the authors was spellbinding; I looked at him with a child like excitement. The bond was so good that I used to assist him by selling books when he had his lunch. That bonding helped me to take a book from his collections and I replaced it for the previous purchase I made.  Like barter, after that point books were exchanged for books, no money involved. And it was my favourite outing on my bicycle which was scheduled once a week.  

Life started to blossom into springs even during the autumns, why not? when your best friends are books, casting tons of magic with words.

As days went on after graduations I got placed into the banking sector. To my surprise reading was still pushing me harder to fight back and knock off the challenges life threw at me consistently. If it were not for books, I don’t know I would have lost the battle long ago and probably wouldn’t be writing about these in this article. 

I remember it vividly, the day, when Dad came back from one of his official trips; he was trying to explain about a device for reading. He discovered this device during his train journey. I had no clue, I suggested that it must be an iPad, which has multiple uses, and obviously I’m not going to sacrifice my kidney to get that unaffordable device from apple. Dad being my Dad was not convinced, we carried forward that topic to discuss it over the chai and pakodas made by mom, and it was raining. 

Following Sunday dad was shouting Eureka Eureka almost I doubted that he got possessed by Archimedes, the ancient Greek Mathematician, but the difference was, it was in Malayalam, which went like, Eda! Eda! Ithanu Njan Paranja Sadanam!! Which loosely translates into, this is the device that I indicated on that day! He was surely excited. I looked into the Sunday times; into the newspaper he was holding towards me as a proof that solved a murder mystery. 

That was the advertisement for Amazon Kindle Devices, the very basic variant cost about 5999/-

It was love at first sight; I was completely drawn into its magic. The next strategic move was Window shopping! The sales executive was so excited, he explained everything about the device, which made me feel like owning this is everything. 

 Now I know the target, the next move was crucial, saving ‘the money’ to own one. I informed dad that I am planning to buy one of the devices he introduced. He said nothing but smiled. Mom was furious, she thought I am getting an unwanted member that doesn’t fit into our lower middle class households, and she insisted investment in gold is the wisest, the usual malayalayee’s mentality. We weren’t surprised; me and Dad exchanged the looks and said nothing, never squabble with a woman, especially Mom!  

After two months of waiting, I owned the basic variant, it really meant the world to me, and my reading experience was enhanced to a new horizon. The reading pace increased drastically, I carried it to wherever I went. The best part is you find it surprisingly captivating that you can almost have an ebook of any time period of which the paperbacks aren’t available for. You can shop at the comfort of your living room, sipping a cup of tea, Tada! The book is delivered to your device in less than 60 seconds. There are so many advantages, one will discover only after owning and experiencing it. Am not against paperbacks, but Ebooks are economical and the diversified searching takes you to surrender yourself to books and authors you have never heard about. 

Two years back I upgraded my Kindle to PaperWhite and still it has not lost its charm. I do buy used books but the ratio is like 2:8 to kindle. It is going to be seven years, I lost my Dad, and sometimes I find him, if not then keep trying, to find him in each bit of words I devour, I dedicate this article to the Man, the Super Human, who introduced me to many good habits, one of them to the world of English literature and Kindle. 

The Lockdown Stories

Greetings to all!

While the whole world has been going through a crisis that probably strikes every 100 years, we all felt helpless, sad, dejected and emotional. Cities, countries and continents came to a standstill with lockdowns and curfews. Yet, some of us found solace in cooking, others found comfort in reading and writing. Some went back to painting and gardening. 

We can say that most of us went back to our old habits and hobbies which we had left behind in the race of living.

Keeping in mind, the creativity and feelings in everyone’s hearts, Paperbacks Publishing House came up with the idea of a book based on the stories and expressions which people would like to share keeping the lockdown in mind. And that led to ‘The Lockdown Stories’.

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We are extremely happy to announce that the first book by our Publishing House, will be a collection of articles from touching stories to eulogies. These write ups have come from different corners of the country and include authors of different age groups. 

The collection has turned out to be quite a fascinating assortment of thoughts, feelings and ideas. We are hopeful that this one will cater to the needs of every reader and will leave a lasting impression by the time you turn over the last page. 

We are extremely grateful to the writers for sending in such amazing entries that we had a tough time selecting the best of them. We are excited to bring it out for you and hope you’ll be equally excited to lay your hands on it!

Very soon, we will be announcing the release date. Till then, stay home.Stay Safe.

Editor – In – Chief

Syeda Faiza Rasheed