Amelie

Ah, there she goes again. Curious little creature. And its’s… 8:30 now. I have a feeling she’ll be gone for a long time.

She’s got something about her. Maybe that’s why I can’t paint the woman. There’s this whiff of destiny- look at that gait- a bit of fear too. Perhaps it’s time I offer a bit of help. How long has it been? Half a century? Maybe more. Back when things were still different. I think I spent months working on my painting. I wonder what a young and virgin eyed version of myself would say if someone told me I was going to paint the same thing every year. Maybe I would be happy, happy about knowing.

Who was that other girl? I think I remember her. The one with silky,yellow curls who pranced around in her apartment when I was young. I can’t remember her name. Years. Years I spent looking out through my window. they say the world changed. All I see is another woman at the window, in shadows where my dreams paint in the blanks. I wonder if I really want to know who she is. But Amelie seems so permanent.

Like the woman in the painting, captured on canvas now and forever. That is of course, only if I manage to paint her. To copy the window, that seems to have her preserved forever. But first my bones of glass will have to carry me far. to understand her I must tell her all I know. Tell her not to make my mistakes. To look through no windows.

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Sounds

After  walking the long winding maze of streets that were filled with loud cars and people, the chirping crickets sounded like aliens.

You could still hear the bikes rushing past, the shopkeepers and customers talking, and the food shops frying the nights special, as you enter the street. The street seemed like a lifeless world without the buzz of electric lights or voices that carried out from within the homes around its flanks. If electricity was still supplied, this street along with three others would surround and guard the park and fill it with voices, as though the patch of greenery was a great marvel meant to be protected, preserved.

You could hear footsteps and people brushing aside the low hanging branches as they made their way away from the park. There was only one person walking in the opposite direction at any given time, so even if the night left you blind you’d hear footsteps and know where not to go. A man left the park and walked into the street, his dog’s chain clinking as they darted to and fro, lead forward by excited sniffing.I heard his feet scrapping along the road and crushing leaves long after he disappeared from underneath the dim moonlight.

I heard a group of kids in the park huddled around a single bench. They argue with each other for more space in hushed voices. Another dogs, which has no chain, is busy turning over rocks, kicking up leaves and wining excitedly. One kid, who sounds young, keeps repeating in Kannada that his uncle has a phone and he wants a rematch. An old couple sit on the elevated foot path murmuring to themselves.

On the left I see a woman open her squeaky window, she lights a match and goes back in.A group of Rajasthani women clothes as loud as their voices have what I mistake to be a yelling match with other Rajasthani women in cramped apartments. As their laughter carried across the streets and echoed off the houses, I realized they were just having a conversation. An old couple who looked a lot like the two who were sitting murmured as they pointed at the women.

I reached the end of the street and heard someone bounding up their stairs. the power came back on as I walked back. TV’s came back on, the now nosy street and park gained a renewed vigor. Lights and people buzzed about me. It was still quite in comparison to the main street, but not as silent as it was before.

I could now see people in their homes. They like the noise, seemed to heave come from no-where. An Enfield purred and another in response. I walked off the street and all the street’s nosises were drowned out.

Hansel and Gretel

While  Mom-Dad where at hill station, Hardipur and Geetu, had gone wandering around the neighbourhood.

Annu antie would have watched then like a hawk [or an obese parrot], nothing like gossiping about chootu children. Can understand parents full genealogy.But poor Mom-Dad didn’t account for latest serial played on full blast on brand new Ultra, Ultra HD Plasma curve, super sonic TV bought by NRI son.

Hardipur and Geetu, who preferred Hansel and Gretel, had never gone around their neighborhood, slum area is too close by. They were picked up by AC school bus and went to international school named after a random phirangi [probably Richard or Jacob or someone, as long as he has white skin and blue hair why does it matter?], and went to kids section of overpriced club #24 after they reached home and finished googling homework.

Hardipur and Geetu went up and down, left and right, here and there, like they smelt 3 tons of chocolate. They can to a strange lane where everything smelt strange, dogs weren’t on chains and people wore lungis-sarees, full traditional get-up even though it wasn’t ethnic day.

Hansel-Gretel or whatever you call them, ran up-down making their white, white uniforms brown and bought some pani-puri. It was better than canteen version. They went to small park smaller than their front yard, where other kids played. Other kids looked at them, they looked at other kids. Hardipur wanted to discuss Pokemon gen 40 and new super-duper, ultra evolution, but they didn’t understand him. Hansel-Gretel/Hardipur-Geetu played on their phones. Everything was very nice they noticed, it was nice to be out they said and sat awkwardly on the benches.

It was soon night and they were scared.Google maps doesn’t work when your phone has expired. Hansel-Gretel were very sad, scared even when a nice dark old lady came along and offered to take them home. She took them to her home first, asked them a few questions, but they just smiled awkwardly in response. She looked like a witch working on magic brew when she made them dinner. She ate little, and kept smiling as they ate.They decided she must be a cook .

She wasn’t smiling when sirens screamed and neighbors came out to watch as police took her away. Parents said hi to Hansel-Gretel/Hardipur-Geetu, police looked everywhere and some random case was booked. Hansel-Gretel/Hardipur-Geetu noticed the house was dust covered and looked a little like chocolate as they taken back home in their tinted window, AC car. They looked at each other and felt a little guilty, but Mom-Dad said she is not a nice lady. She had forced them to cancel vacation.

Probably kidnapping she was trying. Don’t go to the slums again they said. They could hardly stop huffing and puffing when they realized that Hansel-Gretel/ Hardipur-Geetu must have eaten meat. Later they discussed what caste the old lady must have been and what purification ceremony they would have to perform. Hansel-Gretel shrugged were happy to have Wi-Fi access again and everyone called it a happy ending.

Poor Rapunzel

Poor Rapunzel locked away in her room, her corner, her gender. Poor, poor Rapunzel. Didn’t she understand it was for her own good? Why are women so blond yaar? We just have their best interests in mind but they never see.

Look at her now. Choking down tears. What’s the point in suppressing tears? She looks so ugly like that. Don’t even get me started on how annoying the muffled sobs of girls are. Why is she ashamed? If she was a boy we wouldn’t have let her cry. If she was a boy all these problems wouldn’t be there. Now who will marry her? She looked like a cow, but now she’s a buffalo.

What is this short hair hungama? Doesn’t she care about her looks? It is not Indian culture. We’ve lost our standing now. All the neighbors have seen. They’ll say look at that girl; they’ll never come to her wedding. She’s marked. She’s almost worthless on the marriage market now. We let her color her hair. We sent her to medical. But still she cut those beautiful locks.

She’s lucky. She doesn’t understand. If this was Pakistan, no? How much more a villager would have done if she’d gone all over the city after with a boy who, god forbid, might be Muslim. So lucky she is. Anywhere else this would call for an honor killing. She’s lucky a beating is all we gave to remind her of her place, to punish her for cutting her hair. Now we’ll have to find a better astrologer. The family will have to sell a few kidneys, but hopefully we’ll find one of these Americanized boys for her. Some of them like short hair.

But we? We are martyrs. So much we have to suffer. This would never happen in my Grandfather’s day. This would never happen in your Great Grandfather’s day. What to do? Kids these days. We should have been smart and kept her at home. One day a prince will take her and make her his long haired prize, just you wait.