Friday, June 27, 2014

Base level (Micro Fiction)

“Add the Calzone Pockets and the Choco Lava Cake to our Pizza order, will you?” Meha did not bother hiding the smile, her mother was used to their unabashed amusement at her expense. “To hell with my weight, I have earned this today, all that heavy duty relocating, life can be tough” the maternal rummaged around in her bag for the exact change. “It is rude to keep the delivery boy waiting” she directed the gem at Meha, “they are providing us a service and we must respect that.”

The mother daughter pair settled into their domestic hum, an expectation of hot pizzas easing their unsettled space somewhat. The house was like a war zone, boxes and packing material strewn around in untidy heaps. “This is the one thing I hate about being in the Armed Forces. When I look back, life seems so fragmented” Meha half heard the familiar litany. She had covered the rainbow range of uniform colours, having attended ten schools in fourteen years, ‘friends come and go’ was the eternal truth scarred into her retina.

“Here, hang this uniform up carefully….it is a symbol of honour and privilege…you see those stars on the epaulettes….they don’t come easy….there are years and years of consistent work behind the salutes directed at your father” Meha quietly plugged her ears, logging into Grooveshark online for music. “What an archaic, servile and hierarchical structure, completely out of step with the millennial world and its challenge to authority and patriarchy” her young mind whirred dismissively.

It was as though Meha’s generation had penta-jumped ahead of the parents, their heads and ears abuzz with signals from a global monoculture. Liberty, personal autonomy, ownership of one’s spaces; their modern buzzwords duelled with the family idioms of solidarity, group identity and ancestral approval. Where did one end and the other begin, it was hard to fix the base level!

The bell chimed and Meha pattered to the door. “Wonder what the conversation is about, the order was pretty clear and I gave her the exact change”’ her Mum furrowed her brows at the soft voices. She fought her paranoia at events going awry for lack of anticipation and foresight. Years of negotiating a busy and productive life had taught her the value of staying organized. She heaved herself up from the dining table, pushing back her chair only to knock into Meha bringing in the Pizza boxes from the door end.

“Did you check the delivery? They once got us an incomplete order. Let me get the scissors for the seasoning sachets” the senior pushed open the spring door to the kitchen. A rustle and a flap caught her eye on the table. She squinted at the five hundred rupee note tucked under the napkin holder. Confused and full of self-doubt, she turned towards Meha.

“No big deal Mom! We do it all the time in the hostel. I gave our neighbour’s address on my cell phone. They are out of station on leave you know…I saved the delivery guy from logging a non-delivery…he sold me the order for half the price. Chill!”

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Trinity (Micro Fiction)

“I feel like a soggy choco!” Asmi’s hand shook as she flipped her music book to one of her exam pieces ‘O Sole Mio’! There was an hour to go before the music exam and the fluttering in her stomach was intensifying.

“You should eat a banana before the recital, potassium settles it somewhat” Nevan shared the golden tip on handling stage fright given him by his instructor.

The two waited on the ground floor, their 2HB pencils out and scribbling over sample music sheets. Music flowed down the staircase from the class rooms above, sounds of tentative tuning interspersed with confident notes. The Trinity Board examiners were already ensconced in the Principal’s office. The rest of the examinees were trickling in, plucking and pulling awkwardly at their formal outfits.

A sizable number of the attendees were present under duress. The dress code, rigidity of form and insistence on silence grated on their free spirited youthfulness. They waited in their isolated bubbles of victimhood while their parents milled anxiously in the lawn outside.

“These children have damaged their ear drums with the high decibel music they seem to enjoy. I am sure they have no idea if Frank Sinatra is a classical artist” Asmi’s mother began disbelievingly on the state of the young today. 

“And Trinity has a strange exam format; the students learn just three pieces!” Nevan’s Dad nodded his assent at the inadequacy of their musical education.

The two stood surveying the flock moseying in, “Most do not practice enough, they would rather go to rock concerts…..if they knew the value of things as much as they know the price of everything….” the parental bonding was broken rudely by Asmi stumbling out of the lobby door.

She beckoned for the mother’s ear, forcing her to lean over “Mum, there is a nine year old playing ‘O Sole Mio’ in the warm up room. She is brilliant and it is making me nervous. ” The mother gathered herself together to place an arm around Asmi and turned her towards the school gate for encouragement where Dubey Ji was waving the victory sign vigorously. Asmi smiled weakly, kicking herself mentally for not having practiced enough. “Dubey Ji, the school guard, has known Asmi since her first lesson here and he always looks out for her” the mother turned to Nevan’s father by way of explanation.

“Scales, sight reading, aural tests and the pieces, there is quite a bit” he commiserated. “Oh, she has a record of distinctions, she will be fine. I am not worried. In fact, I had her try out the exam piano last noon” Asmi’s Mum was cheerful. 

There was a stir at the entrance as Nevan stuck his head out to wave at his father, “Dad, I am going in, it is my turn next.” The mother urged the parent on, “Please go ahead. I have to wait here for Asmi’s sign language interpreter. She gets a little extra time. She is taking the alternative aural test for the hearing impaired. She has been deaf since her birth!”