|Creative Writing Competition 2012 India|
|THEME||Dream/Fantasy of a Teenager|
The taxi moved through the busy market of Nager Bazaar and Sharmila was memorizing the guitar notes from the chord book when she lost in her dreams and the first time she had held a guitar when she was twelve came back to her mind… how she had struggled in the first few sessions… how the fingers hurt… how her teacher preserved her patience every time she made a mistake.
Sharmila was late. It showed fifteen minutes past 5 o’clock on the watch and her show was about to begin in forty-five minutes. It was an important day for her and she was just forty five minutes away from her debut show at Kalamandir. The sky looked blue and promising. The road was being continuously painted by many combinations of cheerful hues by the rays of the sun. It veiled her softly with the tender touch of its golden rays of hope, pointing to glorious fame in the world of music.
‘Bhaiya,’ she said, ‘need to make it quick.’
The taxi driver was possibly in his forties and had few streaks of grey hair towards the temples on the forehead and near the ears. The skin under his eyes had few small wrinkles that were fanning out prominently in the sun. He took out a dirty red piece of cloth from under his seat to rub the fare reading meter in the front. His grey shirt was partly tucked out of his trousers.
The taxi began to move past the shops, big and small. Sharmila looked back to see the greenery of trees along the sides of the street. The blue sky was a perfect combination to the lively green. The shops on the sides of the road ran away, behind the cab. The pleasant wind struck her face and she closed her eyes. When she opened them she noticed a white ambassador approaching closer. Eventually, it overtook the taxi leaving them behind a red signal.
It’s truly impossible to travel on the roads of Kolkata these days, she thought. A large group of men and women were shouting from a distance,
‘Stop it! Change it! Bondho Korun!’
They could be heard more clearly as they approached. They walked in a straight line – shouting, screaming and protesting. The narrow street was almost overflowing with people and the busy market looked busier.
‘Bhaiya.’ she asked the taxi driver, ‘how long will they take to clear the road?’
‘Five, at the most ten minutes, Didi’
She began to worry a little. The minute hand on her watch was moving faster than ever that day. Her heart was beating fast.
‘Don’t worry, Didi. We’ll take the shortest possible route. We’ll reach in, say about, twenty five minutes.’
Sharmila leaned back. She tried to relax and looked at the chord book. C – Am – Em – Am.
The golden rays of the sun were beginning to fade away. The driver stopped the engine. Her palpitations got stronger. She thought about informing the show organizers that she could be a little late since it was already five minutes that the taxi was stuck in that terrible jam with no possibilities of it clearing down.
‘One for twenty five paise. Didi, take one please,’ a little girl appeared near the window. She was wearing rags. Her dirty hair was falling on her face. Her tired eyes and pale face showed her poverty. She was selling masks of animals, clowns and ghosts. She was carrying a small bag.
‘Hey girl!’ the taxi driver said, ‘Leave from hear! Go!’
‘No wait,’ Sharmila said.
She had no intention of buying those masks. There was something in that girl which made her stop before moving to the next car. She looked at her and her eyes were hopeful.
‘What’s your name, little girl?’
‘Beautiful! Who’s kept it for you?’
‘It’s my mother’s name. People say that she’d left me when I was very small and went to live with another man. Since then this has become my name,’ she said and smiled at me, ‘please Didi take this one.’
‘I will. Where do you stay?’
‘There,’ she said pointing to the next lane, ‘on that footpath.’
She looked at her and wondered if she was living her life with her mother’s name to remind hers every moment of the injustice her mother had showed towards her or some kind of revenge, anger or just to give her the feeling of the pure form of mother’s love. Maybe, it gives her a virtual realization that her mother is always with her like her name.
‘Where’s your father?’
‘I don’t know about him. People say that he lives in Phoolbangan with his new wife and children.’
‘How old are you, Titli?’
‘Thirteen or fifteen’
‘Do you know the difference between thirteen and fifteen?’
‘How would I, Didi. You must be kidding. Have I ever been to school?’
‘But when you see small children walking to school holding their mother’s hand don’t you feel like going to school?’
‘No Didi, I don’t,’
she looked away to see the traffic light. It was still red.
‘I only wish to hold my mother’s hand like they do. I dream of it every day. I imagine clutching my mother’s hand with my fingers between hers.’
The cars from behind was giving the horns. The traffic light was green.
‘Didi! The light is green!’
‘Here,’ she said taking the coin out of her purse, ‘take your money and keep this mask with you. You can play with your friends with it.’
The taxi began to move. For a moment, Sharmila thought again if she was using to feel the presence of her mother always or was it reminding her of her mother’s infidelity every moment so that she could live in her anger for her mother. May be, she thought, it was a teenager’s empty dream like her empty title. Sharmila looked back and gradually lost sight of her as the taxi regained its speed.