Friday, June 05, 2015

Heaven and Earth

My latest short story published in the Spark magazine is a love story that you might like. Read on.

Original link is the following

http://www.sparkthemagazine.com/?p=9187 


Heaven and Earth


“Chotu, take one cutting chai for the sahib”, the owner of the tea-stall announced loudly for his new customer to hear.

A tiny boy of pleasant disposition scurried over to Uday, who was steadying himself on the base of the old tree near the chai stall. Someone had made a makeshift temple out of it by installing an idol of Ganesha on one side. People respectfully removed their footwear to pay obeisance to the Lord of good tidings. On the other side, chai flowed with full freedom.

Uday always picked that spot. Wearing his thick glasses and an intense expression, he let his wiry frame down on that base made out of brick and set his bag aside. It was nearing 4 pm. It was about time.

The sun could set his clock by looking at him. He was there at the same time every day including the weekends. During the week, these were the three hours he had at his disposal. He spent the morning taking classes at an arts college and spent the evenings giving tuition to Mr. Ishwar’s son.

“Steady, Raghav. The lines need to be straight,” he’d always tell that boy, who, despite his parents’ best efforts, was more interested in playing video games than sketching. At least they paid good money, Uday thought, as he took the chai from Chotu and kept it beside him. He took out his large sketchbook and his quixotic collection of pencils, watching the clock tick over.

It was about time.

The wind was gentle but persuasive. The curls of her hair gave up their obstinacy within moments of the breeze touching her face. They fluttered ever so slightly, parting away the gentle clouds covering her ears. A smiling face now beheld the city through her window.

From the second floor of her building, from a narrow window that overlooked a busy street, Tanvi surveyed a throbbing slice of the metropolis. The world was playing out its own agenda. Vendors were busy trying to sell their wares with a mind cast back to their hungry families. Kids were playing a game of cricket with a chair as a makeshift stump, and with little license to hit anywhere other than a straight line. The cars honked incessantly as if carrying on a mild conversation in blaring tones.
“Tanvi beta, did you drink your tea?” asked a booming voice from the kitchen.

“Yes, Ma!”,Tanvi responded, her dulcet tones barely making it across the house.

She had finished her tea alright. Before that, she had washed her face, scrubbing the blemishes away, selected a new pair of earrings, handpicked the bindi that would adorn the center of her forehead. She didn’t need the tea to freshen up. She was wide awake. As the clock ticked closer to 4 pm, her heart beat a little quicker and a sense of anticipation flooded her.

It was about time. Uday had always thought of himself to be the observer of life’s little accidents. His spot under the tree gave him the perfect platform to sit and observe, to spot the absurdities and the pleasantries, the cruelties and the compassions that flooded the world around him. He would sit and sketch, filling up pages with what he saw. However, a month ago, all of that had changed. He no longer cared for the vegetable vendor pushing his cart down the street, his sinews straining against the weight of the potatoes and the onions. He no longer wanted to draw the picture of the street urchins trying to catch each other, oblivious to the sudden dangers of an incoming car.

No, Uday did not care for all that anymore. He had spotted her once, her face peeking through the window on the second floor. That girl with the curls, who seemed to be taking in the world with the same hunger that he seemed to have. She had an innocence about her, an eagerness tinged with sadness which he could not put a finger on. He could not peel his eyes away from her.

From that moment on, Uday was in love with Tanvi.

No words were exchanged, but as the days passed, Tanvi became aware of Uday’s presence. Her reaction went from annoyance to curiosity. In a few days, she knew that she had an admirer who was firmly besotted by her. Tanvi would not make any eye contact with him, yet she never once shied away from making an appearance.

Today was no different.

Fifty feet away from him, Uday’s muse had shown her face. She, of the delicate expression and the gentle smile. He knew that Tanvi would come and silently observe the world beneath her, ignoring him. He would ignore the rest of her world and set his sights on her. His hands would furiously animate his expression of admiration on paper. The collection of portraits he made of her were enough to publish a book.

Uday made no attempt to hide his love, but kept a respectful distance. An artist’s hardest quest is that of a muse, and nothing would be worse than handing over the reality back to an illusion. The delicate balance could not be disturbed. He knew that he would never bridge those fifty feet, though he harbored a fleeting hope that someday she would turn and see him, that someday she would descend from her private heaven and meet him.

Tanvi spent her routine thirty minutes at the window. She knew his rhythms, knew how much time he needed to draw a new version of her, and she gave him that time. She wondered what it would take for him to venture forth, to walk those fifty feet, to leave the world for a while and join her in her isolation. She dared to dream the dream and castigated herself immediately. Nothing would be worse than handing over

She turned back, scanned around her heaven, and with gentle arms, pushed her wheelchair back into the house.

2 comments:

Ruch said...

The artist and his muse ! Beautifully told and what a twist at the end !

Parth said...

@Ruch: Thanks so much for visiting the blog (I am almost always surprised when anyone does that anymore :) ). I am so glad you liked the story, particularly the end.