Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Rainbows in Real Life

This is my entry to this week's Indie Ink Writing Challenge. The challenge I received is at the bottom of the post.


I walked into the building with a skip and a jump. Today I was going to see where my Mommy worked. Our playschool was closed today because it was take your children to work day. She hadn't wanted me to come to work with her, but our babysitter said she couldn't watch me this morning. Also I cried and cried till she caved. I was so excited that I was going to see what Mommy did everyday after she dropped me at the daycare. I imagined that it must be something magical, with rainbows on the walls.

But something seemed amiss. The walls really needed a coat of paint. And the stench of something unpleasant teased my tender senses when I walked through the corridors. "Mommy, what happens when we walk all the way to the end" I asked, filled with curiosity that all five year olds have. "To the rooms", she said and started talking to a woman using some big words I couldn't understand. I spent that time hopping on one leg and trying to guess what those rooms were for.

Soon we reached my mother's office. Like the rest of the building, the room had a dark aura about it. I was glad to see my mother had hung the pictures I had drawn on the wall. I made a mental note to draw her a rainbow soon. I sat on a chair that was too big for me and started working on the lollipop that my mother had given in exchange for good behavior.

The woman who had accosted my mother in the hallway came in with another woman and a boy. The woman looked pale and haggard with some ugly welts on her face. The boy looked about my age, but he didn't respond to my friendly wave. He looked scared and his clothes were too big for him. He hid behind his mother and looked at everyone with his big brown eyes. My mother talked to them and pressed some random keys on her computer. She asked her colleague to lead them to the dining hall and assured them they were safe here.

"Mommy, can I play with that boy later? Please? What's his name? Does he go to play school too?"
My mother turned to me and smiled sadly. "He can't play with you today. He is not well. He hasn't had a meal in two days. After he eats, he is going to visit the doctor."
I felt bad that I hadn't offered him my lollipop. That's why he didn't wave back at me. Maybe his Mommy had made broccoli for dinner the last two days. I really hated broccoli.
"Sweetie, do you realize these people and everyone who is in those rooms are not well. They don't come from happy homes. Most of them don't even have homes. Some of them don't have enough to eat. Sometimes there are parents who don't love each other, nor their children. This is what we do, we try to help them, give them a place to stay, food to eat in the hopes that they get better soon."

Tears welled up in my eyes and I forgot to swallow the bits of the lollipop in my mouth. I couldn't believe that there were children without a home, a Mommy to bake cakes, a Daddy to throw you up in the air and catch you and ice cream every Friday at dinner.

"Mommy, can we empty my piggy bank at home and buy all the kids candy?"
My mother hugged me with tears in her eyes. Many years later, she told me that she had never been more happy and sad at the same time than at that moment.


This challenge was very difficult for me. At first, I wanted to write a funny piece about a child who doesn't understand what her parent did at work everyday and the parent struggling to explain it in a way that the child can understand. But it didn't go anywhere, I think pathos is easier than comedy. :) It's been a while since I was a kid and I don't have any children, and so writing about parent-child relationships was hard (my challenge last week was also about the same relationship) But I think this is the beauty of the challenge, it forces you to go outside your comfort zone and actually write.

My challenge was:
4/28 is take your daughter to work day. Imagine this is your first time going to see your mother or father's place of work. What does s/he do? What do you see? Who do you meet?

Thank you Melissa for the challenge. I hope you like what I did with it.

I challenged Wendryn to write about rain and she has a beautiful post up on the topic.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Just a Bunch of Keys

Last Monday, I drove home for lunch like I usually do (I live 1.5 miles from work and yes I eat lunch at home everyday and sometimes even play on the Wii a little before going back to work) At my door, I looked for my keys in my purse and couldn't find them (My car keys are in a separate key ring. Don't ask why, no reason). No biggie, I figured I had just forgotten to take it in the morning since S had left for work after me. I went to my favorite sandwich place for lunch and didn't worry about it.

Tuesday morning, when I was scrambling to leave for work, I groped around in the little bowl we use for keys and I couldn't find them. I started worrying then. That night, I searched in the usual places that I find my keys, in my coat pocket, my other purse, in my gym bag, in S' coat pocket and so on. No dice! I remembered that I had gone to the gym on Saturday morning and I had my keys then.

On Thursday I went to my apartment office and asked about a temporary key. They gave me one, but said that I would need to change my locks if I had lost my keys which would cost $75. My heart skipped a beat, because I was planning a shopping trip that weekend and my entire budget was around that much. I convinced myself that I had left my keys at the gym and asked the nice lady at the front desk if anyone had turned in a set of keys. She told me that if they key ring contained the gym access card, they would look up the phone number and call. And if I hadn't been called, they didn't have my keys. She also mentioned that replacing that access card would cost $10. I knew that my shopping trip was doomed.

When I came home I started thinking about my key ring. It had a MVP card from Food Lion, a grocery store chain in Raleigh, NC which was where I landed in the US in 2007. I didn't understand why they would give discounts only to people with cards, but if that meant a little lower in food costs, as a poor grad student I would take it. I didn't know that this was how most grocery stores worked. I also had a NC State Wolfpack Rules key tag (is it what it is called?). I have not attended any game in college ever, but I felt so proud to get that. It meant that I was a part of NC State. After that Food Lion incident, I went a little card crazy and I had a nice little bunch from a myriad of stores. One time when S had a stopover in Minneapolis, he found this keychain at an airport store that looked like a small licence plate and said "Jan". That gift meant a lot to me because after a two hour flight and with a three hour flight ahead of him, if he can stop to buy something because it had my name, it means he loves me right?

When you think about it, a key ring is so much more than just keys. At first I felt bad because I didn't want to spend the money to replace my keys. But then I started feeling sad about losing all of this. And just as I was typing the last sentence, S threw a bunch of keys at me. He found it, gentle readers! I think he is a keeper. I have never been happier to hold keys in my hand. Isn't this a beautiful sight?

Monday, April 18, 2011

All Things Considered

This is my entry for the Indie Ink Writing Challenge. This is my first time and I feel a little nervous because the other writers are just awesome (for the lack of a better superlative). The challenge I received is at the bottom of the post. Here goes


Her heart was beating faster with every step she took to her son's room. She had made that trip a million times and yet had never realized there were so many steps from the living room to his bedroom.
He was lying on his bed with a sullen look on his face.
Hi sweetie, how was school today?
Don't "how was school today" me!
She felt a little cheered up. At least it was not the silent treatment. She thought about asking about homework, but wisely decided not to.
I want to talk to you about something. I know I should have checked with you before doing anything. It's not like I am the only person who is affected by this.
Well duh!
She could see his mind churn furiously, searching for a better response.
I know, I know! I screwed up this time. But you should think about this from my perpective too. It's hard for a woman like me to get out there.
The minute she became a little defensive, the anger came back flushing into his hot cheeks.
No no, that is not a reason! If I trash the house tomorrow because I feel upset, would you consider that from MY perspective? Or the next time I fail an English class and tell you it's because I hate reading, would you let me off without bringing the roof down with your high pitched shrieks? So to answer your question, no, I refuse to consider anything from your perspective. If anything, you should have thought about me. I don't know how I am going to face my friends tomorrow. How about thinking about that for a change?
She blinked back her tears after the eloquent tirade. She agreed with everything he said. What was she thinking!
I am sorry.
She said the words she came to say and said it again.
I am sorry. I really am. I know this is a difficult transition for you. Your father left less than six months ago and I know it must feel awful to see your mother out on a date with your classmate's father. But it has been hard after your father left and it's been a while since anyone made me feel pretty. But obviously it is too soon and at any rate I should have talked to you before I did anything. I didn't mean for you to find out this way, when you spotted us at the restaurant yesterday. I will call him tonight and tell him that I can't see him again. You are the most important person in my life.
She felt a wave of relief washing over her entire being the minute the words were out. She had really struggled with alternating feelings of guilt and romance pulsing through her mind the entire time on the date. She wondered how her ex husband had managed to cheat on her for more than a year and claimed to have enjoyed it.
Oh you wanted to feel pretty! Is that why you bust out my Halo:Reach out of the XBox without saving my campaign and put in your stupid Biggest Loser Kinect game? You know I was playing that campaign with my friends on Live. How many times do I have to tell you that you do not just pop out a game from the Xbox without hitting save? Do you know how long it's going to take for me to get to where I was? Why couldn't you have used the Wii Fit instead?
She stared him, hearing but not comprehending what he was saying.
Did you even hear what I said?
Oh that, yeah whatever. I mean, don't make me be nice to his kid or anything. Or let me see anything that will make me throw up.
She looked at him trying to hold back a different kind of tears this time. He had been a Daddy's boy ever since he was a baby and this could not be as easy as he made it out to be. She remembered the look of surprise on his face when he had seen her yesterday and it had broken her heart into a million pieces. She knew that he had done a lot of soul searching, after all the light in his room had been on until after midnight yesterday. She was being let off easy only because he wanted to and she was grateful for that. Sometimes, wise men take refuge under video games.
So let's make it a rule. The XBox is off limits to you. Or if you want to use it, send me a text asking if it is ok. You know we should just move the big TV and the XBox into my room. The Wii does not do HD, so you can make do with my TV.
She gathered him, despite his protests and gave him a big hug and after a few seconds he hugged her back too. Sometimes, the best conversations happen when people don't say out loud exactly what they are thinking.
She skipped down the stairs, humming a tune. They were going to be alright.


My prompt:
Dialogue between a parent and child over a serious mistake the parent has made.
My prompt was from Joelyn. Thank you for this prompt. It was hard to do dialogue only and I hope you don't mind the narratives I sneaked in between.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

What's Up With This Blog?

I have been thinking a lot about this blog lately. I started this blog back in the days of yore, when I broke up with S. We all know where that ended, don't we? But even back then, I started a blog because I loved to write. I tell everyone I meet that when I grow up I want to write a book. Sadly this blog does not look like something that a writer owns. And apart from owning a Moleskin notebook and claiming ownership to S' Macbook Pro, I don't bear any semblance to a writer too. Any (imagined) creativity in me has dried up like a creek in Madras during summer.

That needs to change, pronto! And it begins with changes to my blog. I ashamed to read the past posts, where I talk about the Kinect. Jeez! And I have 2 unpublished posts that also talk about the Kinect. When I am not writing about the Kinect, it is Super Mario. Though I have been reading some wonderful books lately, there is no talk of them. This blatant reduction in the quality of my writing has not resulted in more quantity too. I feel sad that the first page of my blog has posts back from September. And look at the blogs on my blogroll, with the exception of one, all others have not been updated in months.

One of my favorite blogs in the whole wide web is widelawns. She has some extraordinary tales and she writes the regular stories in an extraordinary way too. If I could write half as well as she does, I would consider quitting my job and start writing a book. In her last post, she had talked about the Indie Ink Writing Challenge. Since I am the kind of person who jumps into things without thinking about anything, I registered for next week's challenge. And then I started reading the past challenges and reading the incredible writing by the amazing writers. I feel quite intimidated and honestly would not have signed up had I read more of the writing before. But I did sign up and I have decided to try my best. I have sent my prompt and got my challenge. I will post my response by Thursday.

Gentle readers, this means that I want to grow up. I like writing almost as much as I like reading. I want to take this business of writing more seriously. That is not say that I will only be writing about art and other such serious matters. I will still be writing silly stories, things that happen to me and rant about people I don't like. But I want to write more and not in 140 characters or less. It seems presumptuous to write a post saying I want to write more, when I can just go ahead and write more without making so much of an ado. But they say that if you want something bad enough, you need to tell the universe what you want to make things happen. And I am doing just that. Just hope the universe reads blogs.