Saturday, February 27, 2010


Miditha 2010, the IISc Institute Fest is on. On a whim, I decided to participate in the Creative Writing section. 4 topics were given on spot: "Now", "Silhouette", "FacePalm" (please tell me what that means!) and another topic that I've now forgotten. The alloted time was 2 hours. One look at the topics and I was all set to get up and go away, but the writer in me said an emphatic "NO!" Hey, I wasn't there to actually compete. I was there to see what remained of my writing skills and creative thinking. I hadn't been writing in a long long time. So I sat myself down once again and spent the first hour and half trying to figure out what topic to choose and then, on what to write on the chosen topic. What I finally submitted at the end of two hours was a hurriedly written (I just had 20 minutes left after all the 'creative thinking' I did ;)), shortened version of the full story that I present below. Maybe I should have participated in the 'Cartooning' session as well, coz the topic there was "The Long and Short of It". What I finally submitted was a short essay, what I write here is the long of it :D Let me know if you like it.

She stood silhouetted against the setting sun, the gentle sea waves playing upon her feet. They came and went, bringing on and taking away the sand with them, forming a slight hollow where she stood. What was she thinking about? What were her feelings?

I sat in silent contemplation, sipping on coconut water as I watched her. I had moved into my new seaside bungalow a week ago, and not a day had gone by without her coming to the same spot, same time, on my private beach. Today, I decided to take matters into my hands and speak to her sternly about it, after all she was trespassing on my private beach, invading my privacy.

I walked up to her. " Excuse me, Ma'am, but this happens to be a private beach. You are trespassing. Didn't you read the sign board? Please go away before I call the security."
"Oh! I didn't know that. I'm sorry", she said and started to walk away.

Something about her gait struck me as odd. Was there a slight shuffle - as if she was uncertain on which direction to take? I watched until she was a tiny speck on the horizon then went back into the house.For a long time afterward her face did not leave my mind. It had been a beautiful face, a face that radiated true inner beauty, an attractive magnetism. But her beauty was marred by some deep unknown sorrow. What was her suffering? Dead parents? A lost lover, perhaps? I fell asleep with these thoughts on my mind.

The next day, I sat on the veranda, sipping my evening glass of coconut water. I had had a hard day at work. A million dollar deal had gone awry because of my own stupidity, and I was upset with myself. I sat there, thinking angry thoughts and cursing myself. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a silhouette on the beach. The mysterious lady was there on my beach again! All my anger precipitated and she was the target. Had I not asked her to leave yesterday? This was my beach and she had no right to be on it! I got up and angrily went up to where she stood. If she could not comprehend politeness, I was going to be rude today, very rude!

"Hey you! Didn't I tell you not to come here? This is a private area. It's my beach. Get it? It's mine! Go away this instant before I set my dogs on you! Do you hear me? Go away!"

She turned towards me, tears streaming down her beautiful face. A sudden pang of guilt hit me. Maybe I had been too harsh on her. But before I could find something a little comforting to say, she had moved away and was gone. Remorse filled my heart. I had not always been like this. I had been a happy, successful businessman with a bright future and a lovely wife. Then one day, my wife had died in a car crash. I was still to come to terms with her death. Her sudden death had converted me into the hard-hearted, bitter young man that I was now. Thoughts of my personal loss bogged down my spirit further. It seemed to sink with the setting sun.

The mysterious silhouetted lady never came back after that day, and I soon forgot about her.

A couple of months of hard, back-breaking work at the office, and I was a complete nervous wreck. Lack of sleep and over work had turned me into a zombie. That is when I decided to call it quits. I took a break and immersed myself into charity work that my loving wife had so often wanted me to do. And soon my soul felt lighter and happier, and a smile often played upon my lips. As I sat sipping coconut water on the veranda overlooking my private beach. 'My beach' - ha ha! What a laugh it sounds now! Days of social work had made me realize that nothing was mine - or for that matter - our, his, her, or their. The humbled soul realizes that all is His. That was when I remembered the mysterious, lovely silhouetted lady. I felt truly ashamed of my behaviour and wanted to apologize to her. "Oh God, please give me one opportunity, just one! Please!"

An opportunity I did get. I met her again, but this time she wasn't silhouetted by the setting sun, but was under the spotlight on the dias, introducing me, the Chief Guest, at the annual convocation of the 'City School for the Blind'. She stood there - confident, beautiful and radiant as ever. She was a much loved teacher at the school and was BLIND! That explained her shuffling gait when I had ordered her away from the beach.A small chat with the school principal brought out the fact that Maria, for that was her name, had not always been blind. She had been born with sight, a happy, observant and inquisitive girl. She had wanted to become an artist and paint Mother Nature in her full glory. She had wanted to show people the beautiful colours that wove life together on earth. But that was not to be. Fate had other things in store for Maria. Once when she had gone to the beach to paint the lovely sunset, a couple of drunken youth had thrown acid into her eyes and blinded her for life. Her colourful dreams had died a sad death that day on the beach - my beach - the exact spot where she had stood in those days gone by. I deeply moved and vowed to do something to make her life better for her, to bring back the smile on her lovely face.

Five years down the line, I'm leaning back on the couch on the veranda, coconut water in my hand. I watched Maria stand silhouetted against the setting sun, the very spot where she had stood so many times before. She looks even more radiant in the golden red sun rays with her hair blowing in the cool, gentle breeze. I decide to walk up to her - but no, no shouting this time. What reason do I have to shout at my beautiful wife? After all she has all the rights to stand on the beach wherever she wants to - on our private beach.

I gently walk up to her and put my arm around her shoulders. She smiles and rests her head on my shoulder. We are enveloped by warmth and love as we stand together and watch the sunset, she with unseeing open eyes, and I with seeing eyes, recently opened. We stand there silhouetted against the golden red globe, hope and joy filling our hearts as we wait for another beautiful day to dawn.