Katha 2012. Second Place.
I blinked. It was dark and wet. I blinked again. I was lying upside down and couldn’t make out anything in the dark. I stretched my legs but stopped short. Something was right in front of me. I felt safe though. A sweet voice was floating in the air. I went back to sleep softly.
I blinked. It was bright, very bright. The light stung my eyes. It was warm, too. The air was dry and free. The wetness around me was drying up. Long pale faces were looking upon me. They seemed happy. Their eyes were shining. I was scared, though. I cried and kicked, shouting in fear. And then I saw this face. A face I knew I would never forget. She reached for me and held me soft and safe. All my fear lapsed and I went back to sleep holding her little finger.
I blinked. She was now looking over me, beaming. I saw her lips move trying to tell me something. I reached my hand out for it and moved my lips, too. She cried in surprise. Strong glee shone through her eyes. I spoke again. She kissed all over my face with slow soft wet kisses. That was one joyous face.
I blinked. It was an early morning. Sun rays carried sweet sparrow talk to my room. I got down from bed. I could smell the aroma of freshly baked vanilla cakes. It was my 3rd birthday. I ran to the kitchen and saw her singing in a sweet tone. I wrapped my arms around her soft pudgy legs. I inhaled a whiff of innocent cherry blossom. She ruffled my hair and gave me a shiny wrapped present. I smiled back at her. I loved that face.
I blinked. It was scary. I was surrounded by many new faces. A knot was growing in my stomach. Her face was sunken and had moist eyes. She stood far and was moving farther. She waved, watching me go. Her face was confused. I couldn’t tell if she was happy or sad. I was upset and did not want to let her go. I kept waving at her as the school van turned at a corner and sped off.
I blinked. The full moon was shining bright. I was amazed at how that face could reflect so much shine back. That shy looking mole on her upper lip was shining bright, too. I put my arms around her waist and inhaled a load of cherry blossom. Dozing off to her sweet melodious lullaby, I wondered if the moon felt jealous about me.
I blinked. I was jealous. My hands were itching and my legs shaking. I saw a tiny little marvel, lying so close to her. It was a baby boy. Her face was happy and filled with joy. Looking at that tiny sprat, I wanted to push him away badly and lie next to her instead, but I knew I couldn’t. I turned around and stomped off.
I blinked. I was extremely happy. Not for the fact that I topped a state level quiz competition but that she had her arms around me and hugged tight. I felt so warm and cozy. I could smell her cherry blossom fragrance all around me. I softly pushed her away and ran towards my other classmates to boast. I saw that face beaming.
I blinked. My heart was racing. She hadn’t slept the previous night. I kept refreshing the web page while she got me some milk, praying simultaneously. I silently drank my milk and in anxiety waited for the results to turn up. Her face was the most intense ever.
I blinked. She was standing across the rails. She had the same look the time when I first left her for school. Yet, her face seemed to be more mature and controlled. My mind was too full to reciprocate. I was finally through to my dream college. New people and new environment waited for me on the other end. My heart reached for her, but I asked it to stay still. I can never forget that longing, happy face.
I blinked. She looked at us and was shocked. A dry lump was stuck in my throat. I felt torn. I can never forget that longing for replaced love. The other love of my life stood next to me, waiting for me to say something. I looked at that face, the one I had known so well, so long that my mind knew every single curve, mole and strand of hair, and I looked at the other face soft, loving and new, infusing me with a cocktail of emotions every time I adorned her. I had to decide between them.
I blinked. I knew she was upset. I knew she was trying so hard to keep it down. Life is always unfair. I simply let go of it and tried to live the moment. Though the thought of her face unhinged me, it was my wedding day.
I blinked. She wasn’t responding. I kept shaking her and crying out her name. My mom had fainted at home. The doctor said she had had her first heart attack. I was crushed. She was in a lot of pain yet lay quiet in an isolated bed in the ICU. The bed was surrounded by strange equipment buzzing and beeping. My head started spinning. I made a quick thousand promises to God in return for her recovery.
I blinked in happiness. A little tear flowed out of my eye. The love of my life was sleeping in a plain fulllength gown. Mom was holding my daughter wrapped in a fresh cotton cloth. I could finally see a smile on her face. I missed that face for a long time. I held her hand and pressed it softly naming my kid after her.
I blinked. She looked peaceful and complete. I tasted salt from the tears that rolled off from my eyes. My wife leaned over me, squeezing my arm. I murmured ‘ma!’ softly, hoping she would hear and react. She had left us peacefully, never bothering to disturb us like we did to her all the time. That face, that stunning round spectacle, I will never lose its memory.
I blinked. She had come back in my dream. She had held me and was singing a soft lullaby. I then fell down a deep dark hole reaching out for her. I woke up sweating like every other night.
I blinked. The phone rang. I reached for it and realized it was the middle of the night. My son-in-law was on the other end. He told me I had become a grandfather. A little boy had been born. I asked for my daughter. I had named her after my mother. She reminded me of her. We spoke only a little though. She kept in touch via Skype. International calls from Germany were too costly. I sometimes missed my mom. I wished I could dream of her again.
I blinked. I saw my face covered with bright white stubble in the mirror. It took me 15 minutes to rise from bed every day. My trousers and skin both hung loose and were baggy. The pillow next to mine was unused for a long time, yet its memory hung around. She was a wife, a mother. I too had a mother. It was a long time back. She smelled sweet and was, too. I sometimes miss her. I think she had a mole or two above her lips somewhere.
Mohamed Refai Mohamed Irfan of Chennai, India, says that clothes make the man, but books make the soul. He is an ardent reader, writer, and fan of criticism. He believes emotions play a vital role in keeping a man alive. Otherwise, he is just like any other teenager, pursuing his final year for a Bachelor of Engineering in Biomedical Engineering. His hobbies other than books are food—making and eating.
|Katha 2012 Results|
|First Place: “Lucky Sky”
by MALAY JALUNDHWALA,
San Francisco, CaliforniaSecond Place: “Amma”
by MOHAMED REFAI MOHAMED
IRFAN, Chennai, IndiaThird Place: “For Sale”
by VRINDA BALIGA, Hyderabad, IndiaHonorable Mention: “Commonwealth Games”
by NIKESH MURALI,
Canberra, AustraliaHonorable Mention: “The Beggar”
by PURNENDU CHATTERJEE,
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