The Golden Ladder

‘Who will play first?’ the old lady asked.

‘The one who comes up with the highest number on the dice,’ the girl said.

The old lady nodded in agreement. ‘Bring the board,’ she said.

The little girl moved towards the corner of the room, dimly lit with spider webs at the edges. The rack was dusty, like no one had visited the place in ages.

‘Ha….shooo,’ the little girl sneezed and rubbed her eyes.

The metal board was heavy and had numbers from one to hundred carved over the surface with tiny little squares. The little girl hadn’t seen it before and wondered how the game is played. She knew a little about the dice which was used in the game.

She walked back to the place where the old lady was seated. The place was bright with the rays of the newly awaken sun entering through the windows.

‘You roll the dice first, Ma,’ the little girl said, grabbing the glass dice from the pocket and handing it to the lady.

‘Do you know the rules of the game, Arki?’ the old lady asked.

‘I know about the dice,’ she said.

The old lady wiped the board and it shone like a fine piece of metal. The little girl’s eyes widened by the sight.

‘Is it true, is it true?’ she asked anxiously.

‘Yes it is,’ the old lady replied. ‘The game is run by magic,’ she added.

Continue reading “The Golden Ladder”

Two Stories

As a school going kid I was very bashful and quiet. My early days of schooling was spent in a very small school. I became even more shy when I transferred to a bigger school. I would find it so big that I would get lost on my way to class from the rest room. If I sauntered into the wrong corridor I’d have to say that I was a new student and I did not remember where I was going.

I would often leave the main ground of the school 10 minutes earlier after the lunch break in case I got lost and had trouble getting back. After 4 years, each minute detail would be imprinted in my mind but before those years were over, a million things would pass. 

Memory is a tricky thing, they say. We can distort and recreate memory of events that never happened. It’s not very reliable. Yet, a wave of memory hit me after almost a decade of leaving my school which I’d like to remember. The memory cue might have been a chat with two other friends who went to the same school, but none of us knew the other existed back then.

Back to the shy kid that I was.  I don’t know how I kept myself from bursting into tears the first few weeks of new school. I must have though, silently wanted to run away. Being the new kid is interesting in some way. All eyes on you. Everyone else is new too, so my eyes must have fallen into a huge state of confusion. The second thing we often asked each other after our names were our grades which is rather funny now that I think about it.

I was a major laggard in extra curricular activities. I had no clue what I could do apart from memorizing passages from books and finishing all my homework before I got home so that I could play Mario or stare at the TV with animax playing on it. I wasn’t good at art, music was okay, sports was a nightmare, and forget about public speaking. 

Whenever teachers came in to get in names for the inter school or inter house competition I raised my hand, in an alternate universe billions of light years away. I wanted to raise my hand in the universe I lived, but I lacked the courage to do so. It was all inside my head.

Fast forward to a few years later, I don’t remember when or how, one day a news about a story writing competition arrived. The visions are a little blurred, was it a teacher who suggested my name or did I finally muster the courage to raise my hand, I don’t recall. But I found myself as one of the participants from my school.

For a moment it felt cool. Back then it was a big deal. Imagine what would happen if I won, I kept telling myself. My name would be called at the morning assembly and I would walk out of the hustling mass of students wearing maroon and white to get my certificate. What a splendid sight it would be!

I think I heard one of the teachers telling me to write a story sample. I wrote and wrote and wrote. I had no idea what the organizers were looking for, but I wrote and wrote some more in royal blue ink. I continue to write in royal blue ink even today, and I still can’t seem to figure out who wants what.

I must say the story back then was a carbon copy of the Barbie movies I had been accustomed to. I had grown to admire the stories in the series. I found it magical. I thought I was creating magic.

For some unknown reason I always felt nervous walking into the staff room of teachers. But on this occasion I had to find the teacher who had asked me to write the story. I climbed many flights of stairs to reach the top floor and in my squeaky little voice I said, “May I come in Sir.”

To my dismay, the teacher I was looking for was not there. There was somebody else though. Normally, my mouth would have run dry and the words would have died out half way through my lungs, but I had to tell who I was looking for.

I had already written two stories, I told the teacher there. I was a participant for the story writing competition. Not much was said. The teacher asked me my name and I slowly exited the room. I walked down the stairs, feeling a little miserable with each step.

I never heard from the teacher I was intending to speak that day and I never enquired about it ever again. May be I should have gone back the next day, or the next week. In my over excitement I had written two stories that did not make much sense. There was no prize. There were only Two Stories. 

While I sure felt miserable that time, I do not remember feeling really sad about not being able to participate. I had two stories, and my friends loved it. We would go on to talk about it for many years. They would say I would write a story, I would write it. My best friend even told me that she’d publish it if I didn’t. Guess as children we love to believe in big things!

Perhaps I’ll find the two stories hiding in my bookshelf someday or they could be completely lost now, thrown away or burnt down. But they were the reason I managed to have a brief conversation without falling apart of nervousness. They were the reason I wrote in excitement, they were the reason I thought I could create magic. My friends believed in me. And that was cool. That is cool.

And I thank everyone who read the carbon copy of the Barbie stories I wrote to the ones who read writings I publish on my little blog every now and then; my little cousins who tell me I should become a writer when I grow up.

Thank you for joining me in this journey. And a new destination awaits!

Alfa

 

And I love

And I love
All of these and more.

These feet
That do not touch the ground
When seated over a chair,

This voice
Too high pitched that pierces
My own ears,

That laugh
Loud and noisy,
Unfit for normal conversations.

But I love
All of these and more.

These lips
At times that speak words
That were better not spoken,

Those hands
Breaking things into pieces
That cannot be rejoined without a scar,

This blurry eyes
That stare into the skies
Hoping to count all of the stars someday.

Yet I love
All of these and more.

This heart
Completely flawed
That still keeps on beating.

And I love
All of these and more,
All of these and more.

Reading Harry Potter at 20 something

Vantage Points

I grew up along with two cousin sisters. We started by playing house. We cooked fake dinners and served imaginary tea. Then we moved on to barbie dolls, online dress up games, art and craft (which I sucked at!). After a point it was now time for exams and school assignments (which still hasn’t left us yet!). But whenever we met, there was a time dedicated specially for Harry Potter. My sisters became Potterheads while they were quite young. I on the other hand, listened to the stories they retold. While I had never read the books and watched only a few of the films, their narration of the Hogwarts world never ceased to make me wonder.  But I never picked up the books, not even from the school library.

Enchanted by the magical world, I continued listening to the stories they told me for many years to come. Sometimes it was about the Patronus, other times about Lily Potter and then Severus Snape. It was even more fascinating to see the two of them try their level best to narrate all the interesting portions from the books and the films as young teens.

One fine day last year I picked up the books, courtesy of one of the same Potterhead sister who had just bought the entire series. The covers looked interesting with the illustrations of the famous Harry Potter with his scar. Then, I read, and read, and read.

Three books later, I can slowly understand what was it in the stories my sisters retold that enchanted me so much many years ago. It was the look in their eyes, how innocently they believed in the story and still do, the warm feeling that lingers after you finish reading each chapter and the urge to know what happens next. Now, Harry Potter references are a common thing between the three of us. The bond between us has grown stronger and special in its own way.

Here are my favorite quotes from the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone at the 20th year anniversary of its release.

‘You flatter me,’ said Dumbledore calmly. ‘Voldemort had powers I will never have.’

‘We can only guess,’ said Dumbledore. ‘We may never know.’

‘I would trust Hagrid with my life,’ said Dumbledore.

There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve foot mountain troll is one of them.

It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.

‘And what if I wave my wand and nothing happens?’
‘Throw it away and punch him on the nose,’ Ron suggested.

To the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.

Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.

It takes great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.

I’d like to believe there’s a reason why I began reading Harry Potter at 20 something instead of 12, and the magic is still as strong as ever. I continue to remain awe stuck at the the world crafted by J.K. Rowling through her fine words.

With each page I turn, I marvel at the power of literature, words and stories. I smile, I hope and I dream. And I continue to write.

 

Five Years Old

What did you think of dreams
when you were five years old?
The first time you could count all
your fingers on one hand,
because thats how old you were.

Did you think about Ali baba and the treasures of gold
or the Knight that marched down the road?
Did you see the mountains that surrounded you,
one thousand years old.

What did you think of dreams back then?
Perhaps it was a parrot’s cage or a lion’s den,
or that blue inked pen
now completely broken.

Tell me my friend,
what did you think of dreams
when you were five years old?
The first time you could count all
your fingers on one hand.
Legs too short, hands too tiny
and yet dreams so bold.

Did you not want to be the hero?
A cape across your back
jumping into life straight from your bookrack,
colorful pages scribbled across,
some things that did not belong to you
like that little pink frock.

Stupid was I
when I was five years old,
unknown to the idea that papers when once fold,
draw scars over them like stories untold.

What did I think of dreams
when I was five years old?
The last story before the silence of the night,
the new shoes because the old ones got too tight.

May be I am still five years old,
even when my age does not fit into my hand, finger or toes,
and I still think of Ali baba and the treasure of gold,
the mountains that surrounded me
one thousand years old.

When I was five years old,
dreams were what I saw at nights,
when the owls opened their eyes and the cats danced,
the dogs slept and the mouse ran.

When I was five years old,
dreams were what I saw at nights,
with eyes closed
and lips tied.

Dreams were what we saw at nights,
with eyes closed
and lips tied.