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Short Stories

 

The Yellow Rose
Prema Shah

I've been unable to write for two months. As I turn the empty pages of this diary, I feel a great emptiness growing inside of me. What sort of emptiness this is, I don't even know. I'm tired very thin now and sometimes blood comes up mixed with my saliva, dark red blood that dazzles my eyes. It turns out i have tuberculosis. Who knows how long I've had it, but I found out eight months ago and I've been in this sanitarium ever since. The doctor said my right lung was already quite bad when he saw my chest x-ray and that was quite sometime ago.Honestly,i feel as though all that's left is for my rotten lungs to drop out one after the other. I asked my husband if I could see my x-ray and he said I could but he still hasn't shown it to me. He tells nothing is wrong with me. He says I shall be well soon.Oh, it amazes me; why does he try to fool me like this? What's left now? I've already been deceived as much as a person can be before this! My own weakness has left me with this saliva streaked with blood, these rotted lungs. How much more can I be deceived; how much more can I bear!

He shows me so much affection and takes such good care of me; he comes often and stays with me for hours and hours. Doesn't he know what horribly contagious disease I've got? Yet he isn't afraid and he isn't disgusted. On the contrary, he sits on my bed and holds me tight. I really worry about him; so what can I do? When I remember what he did yesterday, I tremble in fear. While he was sitting with me, i was seized with a long spasm of coughing that seemed as if it would bring up my quivering heart and he was so frightened I didn't even realize I had coughed a little clot of blood mixed with saliva that dribbled all over my chin; I only discovered it after he had wiped it up with his own silk handkerchief. His carelessness shocks me; he's just like a child! Earlier this afternoon when he put his hand into his coat pocket, that handkerchief came out, encrusted with the mess. Why did he have to use that handkerchief? There was a towel hanging from the stand near my bed. That handkerchief was so pretty, pure pink silk; I was the one who bought it for him and he was so happy to have it. I love the color pink; almost all the clothes in my trunks and cabinets are pink. Every time I see the color, I feel incredibly happy so he jokes: Shall I keep you in a pink tub all the time or what? He respects my happiness and my desires too. At home, he's planted pink geraniums all across the lawn of dubograss in front of the drawing room. I used to sit among the pink flowers for hours and watch the pleasant evening clouds. It was blissful. Now it's been eight months. I'm here and who will look after those flowers? Those pink geraniums! The pink handkerchief! Alas! How could it get so encrusted with filth? The germs from my lungs must be swarming all over his coat now. Ugh! Even if he washed it, what would anyone do with this diseased handkerchief? So I threw it in the wastebasket. I can't even describe how much he loves me. I know this love has spread within me; it has buried its roots in every one of my veins. How could I ever get free of it? I am not happy; what sort of love is this, in which I cannot find even scrap of peace? Even with all this love, I am empty. Perhaps I will never be able to fill this emptiness.

For two months I was so ill I couldn't even get up; now I'm a little better but so what! These TB germs have already eaten up as much of my lungs as they can; there must be nothing left but huge holes. Sometimes it feels as though the wind pierces my whole chest and my heart too. There must be nothing but air inside me, a balloon filled with air. My lungs have already had a huge hole torn in them; the whole sky could fit in here, a sky with nothing in it. I fill up this space too with as much emptiness as I can hold. After all, it seems all we can do is empty ourselves. The more you try to fill things in, the emptier you become.

9th Asar:

He came. As he always does, he peeled and sectioned a pomegranate, and squeezed the juice into a glass. I didn't want to drink it; I wouldn't even look in the direction of the glass, nor would I pay attention to what he said. Since yesterday I've been so sad; I neither wanted to move nor speak. For a while he held the glass of pomegranate juice in his hand and tried to convince me. I refused to listen. Finally he seized hold of my head and poured the rosy juice into my mouth. I had hardly had a chance to wipe off the juice around my mouth when suddenly it seemed a crocodile's sharp teeth started snapping at my lips; I got dizzy. I had no idea how much blood or how many germs flowed from my lips; I fell into a faint. I only woke up two hours ago. Well he had already gone; perhaps because it started to rain? The rain is still pouring down. This rain looks as if it will continue all night. Ouch, why does my arm hurt so? It feels as though it's been brutally twisted. Oh, of course, perhaps the doctor gave me an injection this morning. What's that on the stand? He's gone and left his coat on top of my blouse. Such rain and he isn't wearing his raincoat. This coat on my blouse; my white blouse is as white and worn as my bloodless face, yet he still loves me so much, not like before but even more so, more than before. Oh, how hasty are his caresses, how greedy his kisses. My lips are still sticky and wet with the saliva he left there.

12th Asar

For two days I haven't been able to write. I shouldn't say that I haven't been able but that I haven't had the chance; I haven't had any free time. For three days he hasn't left me at all. I've been bound up in his overpowering embraces. I'm ill and this tuberculosis has already exhausted me; where could I find the strength to escape?

This rose bush and its vines are quite dazzling! The rain yesterday morning and all last night has left them sparkling. The rose bush has been here since I first arrived. Vines which keep climbing up from the portico below always seem to come to rest at the window of my room. This rose bush is ill, as I am-it only grows yellow blossoms and so I feel affectionate towards it. I won't let single caterpillar onto its leaves; as soon as I see one I will always pluck it off and throw it away. Now the vines are laden with yellow buds. When they bloom, the whole window will be framed in yellow. Yellow is our common suffering.

He hasn't come yet. I anger easily; if he'd be even a little bit late, I'm patient. Now I wait for him and only for him.

The consolation in my illness is his hands which give off the cold scent of cologne and his cold lips. These are what he tries to soothe me with. He has been soothing me with those hands and lips for four years now. I'm already exhausted by it; I'm so tired of his consolations! He, however, is not in the least tired of it yet. There's another man lurking inside him, who is even stronger and more powerful than he is. He loves me and caters to my every desire or anxiety. He licks me the way a cat licks her kittens but he has no idea that this powerful man inside him drags me along, knocks me over and pulls my hair as relentlessly as a tomcat. In the four years of our marriage, he has shown his love for me in many ways but what does he know of how his caresses have destroyed me, left me naked? On the first night of our marriage, I gave myself to him. Back then, my eyes were full of dreams. I felt I had everything that was possible in the world when I got him. I didn't intend to be a dam to be burst by his rapt love but rather to be like a quiet, self-contained lake. Alas! He was a hasty man. His excitement flowed and swept me along, too. In the course of his love, he ground me thin, inside and out. I flowed. I had to-he had opened the way. He had forgotten everything but that he was a man and I was a woman because there I was before him, a desirable ball of flesh! At that point, his desire was satisfied. He spilled over me like a greedy jackal and tore the cover off my ideals. Since then I've been squeezed inside his fist like a lemon again and again; I've melted in his hot saliva like so much chewing gum. Now what do I have left? Only hardened rubber, from which no amount of sucking, biting or squeezing will produce a single drop of liquid.

Alas! There are caterpillars on the roses again. No matter how many I pick off, they come scurrying from somewhere. Will they turn the leaves into sieves before the buds have a chance to bloom? They should bloom in a couple of days. It's time to take my medicine; the doctor will be coming now. There's the doctor! Ugh, how much medicine do I have to take-not just one kind, either! All sorts and kinds. The doctor's gone, taking the empty ounce-glass with him. When he goes into another room, he'll fill that glass up with medicine, and then empty again. I am that empty ounce-glass, too hollow, with nothing inside. What there was, he finished off. Even the remnants, scattered here and there, have been swept away. Honestly, in these four years, he hasn't suffered any loss at all. I'm loser; now that what I had is finished off, I've ended up playing host to these TB germs throughout my body and waiting for death. What's clever as a salesman selling clarified butter but he can't show me any kindness. What have I left but this wasted body and these rotted lungs? What more does he come here to get from me?

When I heard that I had TB, I wasn't sad; in fact I was happy. I thought that at least I had gained relief from this torment. That day I lit an incense stick to a god; my heart was light. I thought to forget one trouble in the face of another but since I came here, I've had to suffer the same abuse. Except for the two months when I was too ill to get up, I've spent six months mingled with his saliva like a creature of hell. This substance never dries up, never goes away. My arms and legs are stuck fast in it. Where is heaven? In the pink germaniums and hell is in his saliva. How disgusting life! Sometimes I want to pour an entire bottle of poison down my throat but no, I can't do that, either. How much longer will I have to drag my life through this fiercely burning hell? I've heard that those with TB live longer than those with other diseases!

I'll go ahead and write something that happened yesterday. I don't want to remember it because I'm ashamed. Just now when the doctor came in to give me my medicine, I couldn't look him straight in the eyes; he knows everything. Why shouldn't he know? I'm his private patient. Last night, my husband was lying next to me on some errand without any warning; immediately he spun around and went out of the room then came back in, still laughing: Silly doctor! My face was hot and red; I looked at him and his face was undisturbed. I felt so ashamed; what could I do? I understood everything, yet I swallowed my shame.

He's come; that's the sound of our Cadillac. Thousands of cars come to a place like the sanitarium, but I still recognize our Cadillac well.

14th Asar

The roses have bloomed. Only two and they are so beautiful. How long I have waited for these yellow roses; the others haven't bloomed yet. Right now these unopened buds in bliss; they are in a deep sleep in blissful peace. Alas for the blossoms! There are caterpillars on them again. Plucking off these caterpillars is now a full time job. Sanucha a skinny five year old boy has come to the door. His mother Champa, though a dark skinned woman, has bright red cheeks. She sweeps here and goes from room to room of the diseased removing the dirty bedpans. She has her own life. Sanucha is attracted by my biscuits; right now he's standing on the threshold with one foot inside and one foot out, grinning. As soon as he shows his teeth, I understand, poor thing! Ugh! Sometimes I'm disgusted; his dirty teeth and snot-encrusted nose make me nauseous. Once again he's come for a biscuit. I take out a cream cracker and toss it towards the door; he quickly snatches it up and races away, the foolish boy! Yesterday I couldn't write anything. At one o' clock in the morning I sat down to write. But I didn't feel like writing at all. Nor could I sleep. What can I write today? It feels like some huge boulder has been dug up to hang around my neck. I've become like the fossil of a lifeless century.

Yesterday he harassed me to the limit. Dangling me the hawk dangles a mouse, he whirled me all about high, high up in the sky. It was an infinite sky; I could see very far down from there, but the higher we went, the dizzier I felt. The doctor just came to give me an injection again. There was no place to give me shot; my arms are already riddled with holes, so I boldly exposed my backside. The doctor just held the syringe and started. My backside was all blue with bruises from pinching, as if a witch had sucked on it. I told the doctor, "I had a dream that I was flying high up in the sky. Then suddenly I fell to the ground. Of course, it wasn't the sky; I found I'd fallen out bed in my sleep." The doctor said nothing; he silently gave me the injection on my black-and-blue backside, gave me an odd look, and left.

Since the day before yesterday my chest has started to hurt. Before, the pain was insignificant; I paid no attention to it. Since yesterday it's gotten worse and worse. I pushed him away so many times yesterday and didn't speak. As if I'm not speaking would make a difference! He chattered on obliviously like madman, and laughed loudly as though he were insane. Tsk! These caterpillars have already defeated me! Look how they cling to the flowers.

Yesterday when he arrived, he handed me a bouquet of pink flowers. I just laid them on the table. After he went home, I picked them up to look at them. It had been a long time since I'd had a chance to play with pink flowers, so I looked long. I counted them one by one. Suddenly bristles pierced my hand; there was a caterpillar on such a pretty flower. Red itchy spots appeared all over my hand, and from somewhere, his ringing laugh sounded throughout my private sickroom. Two bright black eyes peered out from the caterpillar's two gleaming ones. I was startled; he's really trying to torment me. I had those pink flowers thrown far away; otherwise the caterpillar would have climbed onto my yellow rosebush.

Oh! What a cough just seized hold of me! What a lot of blood came up, too. I didn't see any clear saliva at all. The doctor said it's bad when a lot of blood comes up like that. Shooting pains have started in my chest and won't go away even when I press my pillow to my chest. It's time for him to come, too. If he brings a bunch of pink flowers like yesterday, he's only going to make this pain in my chest worse. Let it ache, this chest of mine; how much longer will it hurt? It'll go on hurting; the blood will keep spewing up until I'm already finished, why should I worry about it happening again? I won't want perfection; I already have everything. Now I'm disgusted with it all; I know I won't recover; I won't. Just now I brought up even more blood than before. He'll come now. He'll joke around, roll me into a ball and squeeze me hard, then go. More blood will flow.

Behind the yellow roses in the window, the green field spreading farther then the eye can see looks pleasant against the pine forest. Both the greens become one shape. Who can that couple be on the lawn?

Perhaps they've come for a stroll; they've already covered the whole field. From far away they look so pretty. There's a red rose in the woman's hair; the man has his arm around her shoulders as they walk. They've reached the pine forest. On the dense shade of the forest has completely covered that red rose and that arm on the shoulder. Now there is only the empty expanse of waves of terraces. That red rose has dazzles my eyes. Oh! I can't bear it; why is my heart trembling this way? This iron bed has melted and stuck fast to my body. What scorching envy! Why is the sky shaking? Look, oh mother! The sun is starting to fall, too; it's shaking, look! Oh! The sun will break into pieces on my head. Suddenly everything will be on fire; I shall burn, and these yellow roses will burn with me. Look, what a huge caterpillar has got onto the roses! Let it burn and die, too; I won't pluck it off now, let it die. Mt chest is cracking, my heart is quivering so, and it's as if there's an earthquake going on inside me. Will my chest burst too? A river of blood will flow from my burst chest, blood as red as that red rose that went into the pine forest. It'll burst, it will; a pool of blood will come flowing out. It's time for him to come, too, he'll come, my chest...!

I'll bite him, too; I'll show him love, too! I'll become a cat, too, and scrape his tender body all over with a rough tongue of thorns. I'll dig pieces out of his rosy flesh, and fill it with all the germs from my lungs. That rosy body, which loves me, must become scaly, like a hard fossil just as mine is. His lips look as if milk would flow from them; how long since mine have been like that? It's time for him to come; I have to be ready. I'll bite his lips all over and drink from them in gulps. I'll pour all my rotted blood into his fresh blood. I'll give him the same kind of love he gives me. He loves me, so I'll love him. How difficult it is for him to come from home everyday to see me here; so how would it be if I could tie him to this very white bed! Today I won't let him go; I won't let him go at all. In his lungs, a huge hole like the one in my lungs, a hole big enough to fit the whole sky into. The holes in our lungs will grow and meet somewhere; we'll become a great void, and two hard, scaly fossils in it. Ugh, there's a caterpillar on every petal of my yellow rose. It's nearly finished off the whole flower; these huge ones finish off the petals so quickly! It's starting to drizzle; the sky is trembling; all that's left is for it to fall. The rose! The yellow rose is losing its petals one by one.

 

Awaiting Doomsday
Dev Kumari Thapa

"They say all nine planets are going to crash into one another and that the world is going to get submerged in water."

"Surely not the whole world. Only the places with sinners, I am sure. God will protect holy places."

"Nothing's going to be spared when all nine planets crash, neither the sinful nor the holy, everything will be razed to the dust."

The villagers are warming their hands on the fire completely engrossed in conversations like these. The women continued about their chores but with great anxiety. Everyone was sacred because of the rumours of the impending arrival of doomsday.

Having completed his bachelor level education in the terai, Bikram had come to this village and had been teaching at the village school, since the last year. Because of the worsening financial situation at home, he had had to drop out of college but he kept appearing in the exams independently. He started teaching and continuing his self studies. He quite liked the village. His meals were cooked at the house where he was staying. He didn't have to bother with cooking. The landlady and her daughter treated him as one of their own family members.

At first he laughed at the rumours going around in the village. But as people continued on and on about this doomsday issue, he too started having his doubts. Although he believed that an educated person like himself should not fall for such superstitions, that inherent flow of human nature was making him loose his footing. He reached the spot where the villagers were warming up by the fire with all these musings in his head. Everyone called out to him in a welcoming note, "Hey master nani, come on over here. Come and warm your hands. So young, not even settled yet and now all is going to end."

Bikram asked," Who is forecasting this end of the world phenomenon?"

An elderly man responded" Who else but that holy saint. Sure a pure soul! Every morning we go to him and pay our respects. I am sure some of sins have already been washed off merely by the sight of him. Haven't you been nani?"

Bikram answered" I did hear about the holy one but I haven't been to him as yet. I think I'll go soon."

Villagers said," You must go right anyway, nani, as within a week, a great catastrophe is going to take place and everything ends."

Bikram said OK to go but he wasn't quite resolved to do it. He thought," What nonsense! The comet Dhumketu has already made its round of earth and disappeared and nothing happened; so what could this catastrophe be?" He didn't think it wise to try to unconvince the villagers' thought. Their superstition had already taken roots. He spoke to the villagers for a while and went over to his rented place.

Once he reached there, the landlady called him for his meal. He walked into the kitchen from his room. There too was talk of the impending doomsday. The landlady's daughter Maiya's was forlorn. Time and again she looked at Bikram's face as though she were trying to say something to him. Since the mood was quite somber there, he didn't stay on to talk as he used to do on other days.

He went into his room and turned down the lantern a little. He lay down on the bed without taking off his clothes. With his fingers crossed behind his head, he stared at the ceiling. All kinds of memories surfaced in his head like the tides rising in the sea. He fell asleep thinking about all sorts of issues.

Someone caressed him and kissed him in his sleep. He got up with a startle and looked all around. When he woke out of his sleep, he saw that it was the landlady's daughter Maiya. He looked at her in total surprise and asked her" What happened Maiya? Why are you here at this hour?"

"Nothing's happened. I came just like that," said Maiya with her head bent down. Bikram added a note of harshness in his voice and said, "Go to sleep. You shouldn't be here at this time of the night. What'll people say if they saw you?"

Maiya responded a little flirtatiously, "Who cares what they say? We'll all be dead and gone soon anyway" and at this latter statement, her voice was heavy with emotions.

Bikram was shocked to realize that this was the other side of Maiya. Today she was speaking like a matured adult. What could he say to her? The teacher felt that he should try to work some sense into her "What childishness! You shouldn't believe in what any and everyone says. Is this what you have learnt from that I taught you so hard for?"

Maiya suddenly caught him in her arms and started to cry. "What's going to happen to us now?" Bikram had yet to adjust himself to this unexpected attack when Maiya started kissing and touching him. The more he pushed her, the more she stuck him like a leech. In the end, he gave up. The long dormant thirst of a man suddenly gushed out in search of an outlet and gorged out. He pulled Maiya into his covers.

It was already morning when Maiya went to her room.

Bikram took a bath and went to the kitchen for his meal. He was feeling a little odd, a new kind of sensation. He felt a little stronger; a little matured and also felt a sense of victory. He stole a glance at Maiya who was serving the meal. How amazing! Maiya looked like a good housewife serving food and she neither seemed unsettled nor scared by the events of the night before. Her face looked bright and content. She had the grace of a new bride in her appearance. There was no expression of insecurity or remorse in her. Overnight Maiya had turned into a woman from a young girl. After having done with his meal, Bikram went to teach.

The rumours regarding the catastrophe started spreading even more. People were spending money without care. "What to save for when there was to be no future?" they said. Dambare Karki cut his big goat which he had saved for Dashain and gave a big party. Hakucha slaughtered his string buffalo and distributed the meat the meat for all. Whoever had saved a little to avoid financial problems, started to spend it all. More than the fear of the doomsday, people seemed to be taking pleasure in spending without a worry and having a great time. It was as if the festivities had arrived.

There was an equally vibrant atmosphere in the hermit's hut. There was a mound of jwellery, money, fruits, cereals, that the devotees had given to the saint in the offering and on the other side was the darkly bearded and mustached, healthy and proud looking saint sitting cross-legged on top of the leopard skin. Bikram was really taken aback. So much gold and silver in such a seemingly poor village. He too bowed down at the saint's feet like everyone else but he didn't offer any alms. The saint showered Bikram with blessings "May you live very long" and Bikram accepted the blessings with open palms. It seemed to Bikram as if the leopard skin the "Maharaj" was sitting on had come alive and was sitting right in front of him in the form of the saint. There seemed to be the same expression in the eyes of the leopard and that of the "Maharaj" captured the prey in your gaze and attack! Bikram was frightened by these sinful thoughts and rushed home fast.

Maiya was waiting for Bikram with food she had cooked. He felt a little awkward. He wasn't sure how to accept this new relationship but he could also feel a sweet sensation within himself.

Maiya gave him some food. Her natural and unashamed demeanor thoroughly amazed him. He even felt suspicious that "Is she a girl of loose character?"

Saturday arrived-the day of the professed catastrophe. From Friday night people started singing devotional songs and praying to the lord. They stayed up all night in prayers and in the morning gathered and had a feast- the Last Supper!! Rice flour doughnuts, beaten rice and mustard greens, potato, pickle, salad and curd. The villagers waited doomsday with much eagerness and excitement. But Saturday turned into night and passed midnight but the catastrophe never fell. People started getting restless. They behaved as if a loved guest had failed to arrive and started pacing back and forth. They stopped singing.

On Sunday morning the elderly people in the village walked up the hill to pay their respects to the "Maharaj". To their total disbelief, the hut was empty and neither the "Maharaj" nor the mound of alms was there. Scattered all over the floor were flowers, greens, garlands and tika. The villagers were totally taken aback and collapsed into the floor of the hut.

Once news got out, people started getting angry. The youth went running in search of the saint as there weren't any seeds or grains left in the village. How were they to survive now? All their goats and lambs, ducks and chickens, buffaloes and boars were consumed. Thanks God! At least the cows and bulls were still alive.

The villagers started justifying but some lost their cool totally. Some even resigned and started making fun of the whole situation. The most surprising thing was that no one seemed relieved at the failure of the catastrophe. It was this very failure in the so awaited doomsday that proved them to be fools. Some outsider had walked into their village and made fools out of them and that to them was the most and made fools out of them and that to them was the most shameful thing of all.

Bikram was lying on his bed and thinking "I was the educated one, I was the teacher and yet I was proved a fool too. I had noticed that the "Maharaj" looked more like a leopard than saint but how I didn't warn the villagers? I didn't have the guts for. But a cowardly youth that's what I am." Suddenly he felt a little bit uplifted by the events of the events of the night before. That young woman, Maiya, had at least shown her courage. She made sure that she got the man she liked. Circumstances prove a person, he thought. And from depth of his heart, he felt love budding into shape for Maiya.

 

R.K.
Maya Thakuri

After a long period of almost sixteen years Lily had sent an e-mail to Sujata.

She had written:

My dear friend (sister) Sujata,

Love and kisses to you. It is but natural for you to be surprised on receiving, my mail after so many years. Here, I don't deem it necessary to disclose to you as how I found your e-mail address as I am in the belief that it is a right thing to let certain matters remain shrouded in mystery.

It is not that I don't think it necessary to share things about my personal life with you or with my own kith and kins, but it was the few moments that I had the opportunity to spend with R.K. I did not want to part from. Speaking truthfully to you, I did not want to share even a trifle bit of the moments that I had the opportunity to spend with R.K.

Knowing very well that the word 'R.K' might arouse your curiosity I, hereby, deem it necessary to introduce him to you;

R.K is an unmarried man of the same age as that of mine. We two are living together since the last twelve years using the same kitchen, the same living room, the same toilet, the same bed room and the same bed.
We love each other so much that there is not a single moment when we have had any kind of misunderstanding or altercation in between the two of us. R.K. seems never tired of exhibiting his love towards me. So much so that he finds time to call me several times a day whenever he has to be away from me on some business. With the passing of every day the tree of our love is flourishing and getting more and more luxuriant. He is a man with a charming personality. He is endowed with the physical beauty of a stone sculptured Roman warrior. The very thought of him is enough to fill me with excitement and thrill. I pine for the romantic strokes of his loving hands in his absence.

It has been quite a number of years since I have been treasuring a pair of red Banarasi-saris with matching blouses, bangles and glass studded shawls. Crazily he overwhelms me within his arms and smothers my whole body with kisses whenever I present myself before him attired in those costumes.

Now, is that clear who R.K. is to you?

Today, I have got cooked for him a dinner of his choicest food with a bottle of ten years old French wine.

I will be writing to you again.

Love
Lily or Lalita.

Sujata was indeed very surprised on receiving a letter from Lalita, her own friend, after so many years.

And again, that same afternoon Sujata received another e-mail from Lalita. :

Hi!

It must have been a great surprise to you to receive my mail, right? I knew very well that you had never thought not even in your wildest dreams of ever receiving my mail, am I right?

This is life. Things never expected get to happen. The most cherished moments of my life are the ones that I have been able to spend and share with R.K. Now, after the advent of him in my life, I have begun to find the world very beautiful and very charming. Now I have been able to comprehend about nuances of nature's creations. Now I realize that there is constant exchange and expression of love among the living creatures in the world.

You know very well how I was as good in the extra-curricular activities as I was good in my studies. You know very well how I always stood first in dance and in sports that used to be held in our school.

After I came here, I found my identity lost somewhere in the crowd. Yes, the momentum of people flocking here to America from all over the world is increasing by leaps and bounds. The glitter and glare of the fast change that is taking place in this country has already blinded and is in the process of blinding the minds, eyes of the many outsiders like me. People from different parts of the world flock to this country with a dream of a bright future, but they are unaware of the fact that in their quest for dollar their dreams are forced to their last breath in some dark dungeons. I, too in the past, had dreamt a beautiful dream of my own. According to that dream of mine, today I ought to have been serving some helpless sick persons in some remote corners of my country. But, after coming here, the open and free life style of this country brought about a sea change not only to my life style but also to the very innermost consciousness of my life.

Like a bird I began relishing the free and open life style of this free country. Of course, the same may not also happen to everyone.
Oh yes, I forgot to tell you; one American family here had sponsored me as their own daughter and it was because of their support that I could take a teacher training course at a college and work part time at the same time.

Even before the completion of four years of my coming here, the news of the death of my parents in a motor accident had left me all shattered.

And it was during those difficult times when I had met R.K I had begun taking a fancy on him from the very first few minutes of our conversation because I had noticed a gentle and sensitive personality in him from the care and concern that he had shown towards me. I had received his affection when I was drowning in the ocean of sorrow and misery. From then onwards, I was gradually drawn towards him.

From then on I began pouring all my experiences of happiness and sorrow before him. Indeed, I had found very dear and close friendship in him.

See, how it is always like this only when I sit down to write. I have to decorate my houses today. I have to change the flower in the vase and I also have to roast a chicken in the oven. R.K. has promised to bring a bottle of champagne on his way home later today. A spicy roasted chicken with champagne is his favourite delicacy. As for me, I prefer wine to champagne but of course, I don't like to disappoint him. And therefore, I have to set the table with two champagne glasses made of crystal.

I will write you again as I am in a bit of hurry now.

Yours,
Lily or Lalita.

Next morning, while she was very anxiously going through her mails Sujata received a mail from Lalita.

She had written:

Last evening, we had a candle light dinner in our apartment.

Even as he was in his fourth peg of champagne he got tipsy and it is in situations like this he overwhelms me with his love and his caress. Shall I share one secret with you? Yesterday, I had repeated before him my desire to become a mother. On hearing me as usual he became very emotional and almost cried and said, "A woman remains fully devoted to man only so long as she does not become a mother. Her love splits after she becomes a mother."

How strange his thoughts are, isn't it? Sometimes I find the men's nature very intriguing and I wonder if they all feel insecure deep within them at the thought of being ignored or neglected after the wife attains her motherhood. Anyway, all men may not think alike.
He is taking me for dinner this evening. I will wear my blue gown with the pearl set.

He will wear his blue suit.

Well, you ought not to write to me. Let me first finish myself.

Yours,
Lily or Lalita.

Sujata just grinned after reading Lalita's mail.

And again next day there was another mail from her.

... ... ... . Were you offended when I had told you that you ought not to write to me in yesterday's mail? Please take no offence, o.k.? Actually, I already know so many things about the small family of yours: I am well aware of your Ph.D. degree in economics. I have already heard about your job, your kids and their progress and also about your husband's three years trip to Canada. It is rather you who is quite unaware about me.

R.K. and myself are leaving for France for a week. I will write to you again I return from there. Till then you please wait for my mail.

Yours,
Lily or Lalita.

Sujata did not receive any mail from Lalita for a week. Actually speaking, it was rather a boring experience for Sujata not to receive any mail from Lalita.

It had been the eighth day for Sujata of not receiving any email from Lalita. She was out to Bishal Bazaar to do some shopping for her kids.

"Hi, isn't this Sujata?" "Namaste! ," Subhashri turned serious and said, "I presume you know well how she has become a mental case after the sudden demise of her boy friend R.K. four years ago due to a brain tumor. Actually, we hardly meet each other, but I find her talking only about R.K. whenever I meet her in our parties and get-together. And, I was also told by her American sponsor that her case had even worsened. I have no idea of what they are going to do to her."

Sujata was dumb-struck on hearing Lalita's story.

On returning back home and on opening her computer Sujata found a long mail for her.

Lalita had written:

Dear Sujata,

Last week R.K. and I passed every minute of our time in each other's arms. Every night he waited in our bedroom with a bouquet in his hand for my... ...tears began to well up in Sujata's eyes and she switched her computer off in the middle of her reading.

 

It's Your Choice, Momila
Indira Prasai

Script Before Mutation These days I don't feel writing anything. It so happens whether with the pressure of diverse plot or ever decaying of the sensitivity, I don't know. Perhaps, my writing is destined to the final station. It may be so, too. Who knows? Everything can be happened in this time of axiom where the things are so juxtraposed. This is the preface of writing this short –story. Momila is the name of an energetic writer with the strong struggling background of prosaic sensitivity. Because of here unselfish and unbiased behaviour towards me Momila is dear name to me.

– Didi, you've to write a story for the first issue of the Kalashree. Please, don't deny...

Summary of her poetic –order was somewhat like this. Having been failed to deny her completely and engrossed by her delicate dearness/nearness, summary of my counter –response was too enchoed some what like this:

– Bahini, I may not be able to write. I can't Promise you.

This is the pre –conceived periodical –script of the impregnant story lodged inside the womb of PLOT. A request thrown with the delicacy of Momila touched my heart.

IMPERGNANT

A suffocated writer in the absurd atmosphere destroyed by civil –war, terrorism, imperialism plus natural disaster, lie counting the last breath around the lake –side of sentiments. I gave a whisper to my writer who was dead –asleep inside me. He moved a bit and once again turned to soap –opera of immortal TV channel. Such a denial to the writing! Is the writer really dead? Can he still experience me? I can't say. Such a time we spends a lot, in a sense that the writer would have already created lots of creations, in these wasted moments. But the writer didn't feel like writing. But, I kept on inspiring the writer with a loving request of Momila. The other day the writer asked me:

-what's there to write?Celebrating my victory against the cruelty of absurd atmosphere, I said: -story, write a story- I won't write murder, terror, destruction. And the unvoiced story which I write may not be your story et all, in this time of crises. No, I won't write any stuff.- Write, please write. Write anything that comes from your heart. I won't interfere. It's my promise. After this, I watched the face of the writer shining with the dew –drops of eternal satisfaction. I started waiting for his writing. The script was thus conceived in the womb of story in such a way.

BIRTH OF A STORY : Worth –less –nessFirst scene: (Grand party. Gentlemen and ladies. Formal talks everywhere. A devoted –couple is seen on the off –stage. They're lover. The gentleman introduced me with his fiancee)

Gentleman: I can't live without her. You see! she's the source of inspiration of my entire literary creations. Well, my existence is nowhere without her.

Narrator: (The couple was nice, indeed. I was fascinated by those devotee of lovers)

Second scene:

Narrator:

An advertisement of the gentleman's father's Sudden death was published in a daily newspaper. We, husband and I went insearch of the gentleman's house to express our sympathy only because there used to be a profound relationship between us. The gentleman's portico, courtyard were majestic. But, he was seen grief –stricken. The universal –grief which shocks the son on the so –called untimely demise of his father was also vividly portrayed on his face.

The gentleman then, introduced us with his house –wife. The grief –which was exhibited on his face earlier was now over –ruled by the presence of his newly bride. He said:

-Meet my wife. She's the one who manages my entire family in this time of great loss. Well, you see, this home is recognized in this respectable way only because of her..

There, my eyes searched that lady whom I'd met in the grand party. But, she was nowhere to be seen.

INTERMISSION:

The other self

So, he was a reverend husband of other woman! Husband of such a terrible witch! But, the gentleman had never mentioned about his wife in our informal get –to –gether. I often thought about the lady whom I met with him. wasn't she an inspiring –force of this gentleman? Because of my deep intimacy with the lady I'd once asked her long ago:- There's such a deep intimacy between you. Is this relationship of yours subjected to the mere present or do you've any plan of the future? Is he also single like you?

This is the incident of long time ago. She then, revealed her secret. She'd told me:– No, No, No. He's deadly married. He has a wife. But, she doesn't care whether he exist or not. He's a victim of matrimonial institution. Although he's married, he is the man with a bachelor –experience. I've surrendered myself to him only because of his legally disturbed lifeI tried to bond their relationship in regard with social phenamenon. I'd my own effort to bring them into the legal formality of social acceptance. I'd asked her:– Is that so? Is he ready to accept you as his life –long –friend? Is he ready to marry you at any time provided that he divorced his wife?– He's already ready to marry me.How could I explain the sketches of joys and happiness which were pencilled in her eyes, lips, faced and entire body! Her beautiful face was paraded by colourful poetry; images and metaphors of living existence.

But, unfoutunately: this was the story of PAST told by an unauthorized PRESENT. Because of the metropolitan hustling and bustling we didnot meet them again for a long time: A lady with a gentalman.

Third Scene:

This was a literary programme organized by a wealthy person. He was a doctor by profession. He loved to spend his money organizing literary programmes at five –star –hotel. Accidently, I met the gentleman there. I looked around him to see the lady but failed. After the formal ending of the programme there started an informal celebration. Hoping that I would find the lady somewhere I approached him. His hair was complete brown and I found his face furrowed where dark ages had written unromantic verse of an ugly existence. But, still, his pride had no limitations. I found my voice utter:-Excuse me, gentleman. Is this an illusion? Where's the lady you once used to be with? I didn't see her here.

Feeling ashamed of my sudden interrogation, he somehow maintained his red –spotted –nose and said unceremonously:-what a man er... woman you're! Interesting ...er... exciting, You see! Forget those damn bloody things. Well, let's talk about TIME. How could I know about her: that lady? why should I gather information about her? well, she must have been wandering somewhere in the hell...With a desire to introduce his PAST, I asked: - can you still remember your past life? Once, long ago, you'd told me that you couldn't live without her. She used to be the source of your inspirations...- Ofcourse, yes. That was my prefect answer that time. Inspirations are useless ... er... worthless. Who deserves them nowadays? I gave her importance because she dserved it those days. But, the time we're living now is far different form the days we used to live. Well she was good –for –nothing. See my status, my identity. Where's she, now? And where I'm now, just see. She may be still wandering around her bloody poetic jungle of hell: Uenractical, unsocial and informal. Well, I'm a family –man now, you see? How could I spend time with a woman( whom you call: lady) who was my past? Please, don't talk about these stuffs with me any more.Then, the gentleman drank his third –glass –of whisky. I remained there frozen. This is how my little curiosity related with him ended forever.

CLOSE –UP

-The story is finished.- said the writer- But why didn't you write anything about the lady? –I asked him - I don't want to write anything about the lady. I don't want to enclose her into the boundary of my writing. I've a desire to see her attaining a complete freedom: Free from all the bloody bondages, associations and attachments.- And what is she doing these days? Atleast, please give some information about her.- Look, don't create any mess now. Whatever I'd to write I wrote. The lady was useless to the gentleman. That's all. Finished. The little of this story too, is useless. That's all. – the writer said angrily.I, too asked him angrily- No. I find your story incomplete. You must tell me something about the lady. Add some new scene to the story: What harm is there?- My God! You're impossible ...er... I won't add any scene any more. But I’ll provide you some secret affairs of the lady. You can choose her among them:

Secret affairs

• The lady committed suicide • The lady is a housewife of someone else
• She is spending her life in this city. Now she is the source of inspiration of other man • Indeed, she was mistakenly trapped into the ocean of betray, remorse and hatred. Now, she has joined some criminal gangster.
• She is not here anymore. Getting the lottery of e –DV she's already flown to the USA. • To hell with the American Green –card! she got married with an old American swine
• The lady has been emancipated: Free from the bondage of this materialistic world. She's far from the carnal –venture of the mortal earth. She's free from the lust and desire.

Etc...

In this way the writer provided me afore –mentioned –affairs of the lady. The writer now disappeared. Vanished somewhere into the world of materialistic desires, perhaps. Disappeared, perhaps into the sensory –world of metaphysics-

EPILOGUE

Momila,How's the story? I don't know whether the story is pencilled according to your wish or not. But, let me speak from my heart Momila. I wrote this story just for you. That's why you've a complete right over this text. If you like publish this in the Kalashree. Perhaps, my unauthorized writer of my being would feel joy. If you find raw which you sensitivity may dislike, please tear this manuscript and throw it into the dust –bin.

It's upto you Momila, whether you deny or accept. It's your choice, Momila!

Transcreated by
Kumar Nagarkoti

Compiled by
Anukritika