Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Violin

Thursday means another Indie Ink Challenge. I challenged Amy to write about what makes her madly deliriously happy and she has responded here. Go read it.

Here is my entry.

Angela placed the pearls round her neck and looked at herself in the mirror. She grimaced and took it off and replaced it with a simple diamond necklace that showed off the plunging neckline of her Versace gown better. Still, the face that looked back at her was not a happy face. Yes, Angela Van Hofsten was not a happy woman. Not as happy as someone who just inherited millions should be.

Angela was the only child of the wealthy Mr and Mrs Van Hosften. She grew up with the best of everything and wanted nothing. Her trust fund kicked in when she was 18, and she was one of the most popular girls at college. Tragedy struck when she was in her senior year and her parents' car met with a fatal accident. She was inconsolable for days afterwards and couldn't bear the thought of life without her only family. Then life dealt her second blow, when she realized there was another relative she didn't know about. She had heard stories about crazy Uncle Matt, but had never met him. Her parents had not been on speaking terms with him throughout her life. But since the wealth was mostly from family investments, as per her great grandfather's will, he got almost everything. She had her trust fund, but it hit hard since she had grown up assuming she would be in millions in her adulthood.

She never got along with Uncle Matt. He looked just like dad and many times she would want to visit him just to see his face. But she soon realized that he was nothing like her dad. For one thing, he didn't believe in any rules. She once got a collection call about turning off electricity at his house. When she asked him about that, he said that he didn't think electricity should cost so much. He drove her insane with his eccentric ways. On the anniversary of her parents' death, she organized a small service at their church for friends and family. He turned up an hour late, in red overalls and drunk to the gills. He refused to donate anything to a charity she founded and said that he would rather throw money on the streets of a poor neighborhood. She gave up all pretense of loving him and after awhile gave up on trying to be in his life too.

One day, her lawyer called her saying he had some bad news. Uncle Matt had gone on an expedition to Africa and had contracted a tropical virus. By the time he was airlifted to a hospital in a city, it was too late. Angela was shocked to hear that. She had her differences with him, but she had never wished him any ill, at least not intentionally. She felt guilty when a corner of her mind burst into jubilation at getting the money back. She brushed those thoughts away and some surprise tears came streaming down her cheeks.

When the dust settled down, it felt good to move back into the house she grew up in. It took a cleaning crew to get the house resemble a home to live in. The grand dining set was broken into pieces and was used to make campfires in the middle of the lawn. The first room that Angela entered the house into was what she had dubbed the "music" room when she was a kid. Her parents loved music and preferred to collect musical instruments instead of art. She loved to go into the room and imagine an orchestra was playing with those old instruments. Her favorite was the 300 year old Stradivarius that her cost her parents more than a million dollars. She had been taking violin lessons since she was six and her parents had promised her the violin after her first performance. Sadly that never came to be. She had been looking forward to playing that violin ever since she got the news.

But try as she may, she couldn't find the violin. All the other instruments were intact, but this one eluded everyone who searched for it. She figured it might have been stolen or maybe Uncle Matt had tried to sell it to buy himself a sandwich. She contacted the police and many art dealers, but no-one had any record of it. She felt like the violin was Uncle Matt's final joke on her. She was sure that he must have known she loved that violin and must have burnt it out of spite.

Her boyfriend Tim walked in while she was putting the last of her makeup on.

"Geez Angie, I told you we are going to a comedy club. Why did you get so dressed up? A jean and a tee would be more appropriate."

Angela stared at him with disguised anger. Yes, Tim would have to go. She knew she was breaking rank by dating him but now the difference seemed more stark than ever. She wanted to be a distinguished socialite and did not care to be seen at such pedestrian places. But she couldn't break up with right away, that would seem too snobbish. She decided two months would be an appropriate time and resolved to send him packing in August.

The comedy club was packed to the gills. The first comedian who came on seemed to go and on in a Seinfeldish way.

"What is the deal with swimming? Don't we have enough bridges to get across water? Flapping your hands and lakes, bobbing up and down for air, that's a poor excuse for fun!"

The proverbial bell rang in Angela's mind. Of course the lake! Their house stood on a lake and the there was a small island in the middle of the lake with a gazebo. She knew that Uncle Matt loved to swim upto the gazebo and stay there for hours just looking at the water. Could he have hidden the violin there?

She left the club rather abruptly and rushed to the gazebo. To her delight, she found the violin case lying on the floor ajar. She hugged it in delight and looked around for the violin. She would have the whole lake dredged if she had to. She could hear the sweet sounds of the violin in her mind. She was going to find it!


The sounds of violin filled the air near the lake in central Mexico. Matt played the violin with abandon, the lessons of his youth came rushing back to him. All the money never agreed with him. He liked to run the way the wind took him and all those lawyers were always behind him. He figured Angela liked doing all those things anyway. He took a few things that he wanted that he knew that no-one would miss - like his favorite saucepan from the kitchen, money to tide him over for the next 10 years and an old violin he found in one of the rooms.


My challenge this week was from The Womanist - Make a story around these three - a 300 year old violin, a comedian, a lake. It's not a strong story, but thanks for pushing me into fiction. Hope you like this :)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Father of the Year

I am back to the Indie Ink Writing Challenge after a two week break - to celebrate the husband's birthday, a visit to New York and to recover from all the celebrations. It feels good to flex my writing muscles again.

I challenged Dafeenah to write about a confrontation at work with her boss. I think she really did a great job with such a boring prompt. Go read it here.

Here is my response. The challenge is at the bottom as always.


She came home from school and announced that to the household by banging the front door close. She immediately regretted doing that because her mother was probably resting. She threw her bag in her room and came to the kitchen to get herself a snack. And then she saw him. He had the audacity to look her in the eye and ask if she wanted a grilled cheese sandwich. Typical! If he had taken any pain to get to know her, he would know that melted cheese made her feel icky and she would never ever eat that, except on pizza. Didn’t he know about her sweet tooth? Her mom usually made a jelly sandwich or a pop tart after school. She poured herself a glass of milk and settled on the table with cookies and a comic. But someone couldn’t take a hint. He followed her and started asking about her day. She wanted to throw the milk on his face and scream. Yes, he was her father. But does he even know what grade she was in? Or her teacher’s name? He had never displayed interest in her in the eight years of her life. He hadn’t even been present. He would always be on the road and the only father she knew was the one who would be sprawled on the couch, clasping a beer with his calloused hands, sleeping the day off. Even when he was awake he never spoke full sentences to her. Never wanted to play catch with her.

She didn’t always feel this angry towards him. She had made her peace with not having a fulltime father and was glad to see him when he was home. But the past few weeks, it was different. For one thing, he was home all the time. There was a lot of yelling and her mother was crying all day. She felt sorry for her mother. And now he thinks he can just waltz back into her life and start playing her father?

He sighed when he saw her read the comic, ignoring his questions. The feeling of sadness in his heart was peppered with flashes of anger at her mother. Yes, he had been absent for a large part of her life. But that was not because he loved her any less. He was a trucker, he had to be on the road most of the time. When he did land back home after driving through ten states, all he wanted to do was eat and sleep. For a few months after she was born, he had stopped driving trucks and had taken up a job stocking shelves at the Piggly Wiggly. But he soon found that his wife preferred an absent husband who made the big bucks to one making minimum wage in town. She liked buying things and wanted everyone to call her pretty. He remembered the night she came to his room crying, with the letter from the credit card company. He was back behind the wheel the next day.

And there was this whole other thing too. Growing up with six brothers, he had been delighted when she told him they were having a daughter. He called all his family and told them the news. Then his buddy called him aside and told him about some rumors that were flying around. That night, they had the biggest fight ever and she swore she was his. And he stayed, because he couldn’t bear the thought of his daughter being raised by someone else and being neglected. And when she came into the world with her black hair and brown eyes, he knew he would love her for the rest of his life. He wished now that he had been different with her. Loving someone and telling someone you love them are independent and separate actions, where one does not imply the other. He took after his father and always had difficulty with words. Many times, he would want to gather her into his arms and just hug her tight. But held back, because in his mind fathers were stern creatures who did not give butterfly kisses to their daughters, preferring to express emotion with grunts.

They had had many fights before, but he didn’t know if they could stay together any longer. A wife is not something you share with a neighbor. For a minute, he wondered if he could just tell his daughter everything. Judging by the dirty looks she was throwing at him, there was no way she would leave her momma and come with him, no matter what he said. Also the only thing he knew in life was driving trucks and what kind of life was that for a little girl? Maybe it was better that she thinks he is the ultimate villain.


My challenge this week was from Laura and it was "the ultimate villain". It feel very Bollywoodish to end my writing with the prompt :) This was a great prompt, thanks Laura.

PS. Please forgive the terrible font/style, blogger has been very bad and does not let me edit the font.