The Wire Mesh

The Wire Mesh

Whenever the dust settled after an afternoon storm, the sweet seller arrived at my doorstep with a guilty smile on his bearded face. He would sit in the verandah for about an hour, carefully blowing away the red mud from the surface of the homemade sweetmeats. I often asked him how he could live with selling those contaminated sweets but he claimed that the earthiness enhanced their flavour. Despite this clever justification, he would always keep my batch at the bottom of his bag, cautiously wrapped in butter paper.

Feelings diffused through the wire mesh of my front door, creating a wonderful harmony on each side. I was sheltered yet troubled while he was wild and raw but frightened of overstepping the boundaries defined by society. He was so afraid of disturbing the fragile balance of this friendship that he always left my bundle of sweets at the door. The risk of the dream ending with an accidental brush of fingertips made him insist on keeping the barrier of the wire mesh between us at all times.

Whenever I asked him about his family, he would cheesily remark that in this city I was all he had.  This response was not unfair considering that he never questioned the absence of another soul in a bungalow that was clearly not meant for one. Our sporadic encounters were enough for love to blossom in our youthful hearts. With no means of contacting him, I would pray for a storm whenever I yearned for his company. He would magically appear from behind the murky curtain of smog, his tray of sweets dangling from his neck, his hands behind his back as if they were holding a message that he was too shy to deliver.

Ours was a language of silence, of subdued smiles and unheard whispers. He knew nothing about the world that existed beyond the shadows of my drawing room but he knew everything about me. Softly humming my favorite song, he would display the sweet treat of the day as if it was a painting expressing his love. Layers of powdered sugar always embraced his thick fingers that were evidently meant for a hardier profession than brewing syrups. It almost seemed like he was running away from his past, trying to hide his pain in the whirls of his Jalebis, concealing the blemishes with thin slices of almonds.

His gentle voice would echo through the empty house until the next storm brought him my way. Years passed, neighbours changed, the paint of the bungalow started peeling in places, but the taste of his Coconut Barfi remained the same. Not all storms are the harbingers of happy times though. Unfortunately, I had to learn this lesson the hard way.

One night the thunder shook the house and the pouring rain didn’t cease for hours. As the feeble rays of the rising sun struggled to pierce through the shroud of clouds, I heard a strange metallic clang at my door. There he was, wet, pale and cold. This storm was one that he could not defeat. His tray of sweets still couldn’t manage to breach the boundary that had kept us apart for years.

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Summer Petals: A tale of love

Summer Petals: A tale of love

The headiness of summer dulled the sword of reason and brought together two strangers with starkly different personalities. The shy periwinkle was firmly rooted to the ground. Quiet, reclusive, and comfortably shaded from the harsh sun rays by an emerald umbrella of palm leaves, she did not mind a life of solitude in the least. The bumble bee, on the other hand, was effervescent and jovial. He was a gypsy that wandered from lavenders to tulips and roses to sunflowers, on the hunt for the sweetest nectar. However, the subtle brightness of the periwinkle forced him to frequent her corner ever so often, especially since the sweltering heat had wilted most of the other flowers.

The periwinkle was shocked by the unforeseen showers of affection but soon got accustomed to his hovering presence. The furious hot winds had wrinkled the edges of her petals, but he didn’t seem to notice her flaws at all. A chivalrous soul, he even helped her out when some drops of melted strawberry ice cream from a toddler’s cone had blinded her. The intoxicating flavor of the fruit, combined with the faint aroma of her sweetness, was a pure elixir for the bumble bee. Silently but surely, a fondness developed between the two even though their intentions were not congruent.

The enthralling encounters continued for days and he soon became familiar with each bend of her petals while she could recognize his buzzing from afar. Not a single creature ventured out in the unforgiving sunlight but the two lovers were oblivious to the sorrows of the world. The streaks of clouds that had witnessed this romance since the beginning grew angrier as they realized the whimsical attitude of the bee. They puffed and darkened with rage until they couldn’t hold the wrath any longer and exploded to expose his philandering ways.

The comforting scent of wet mud tickled his tentacles; he looked around to find several buds erupting from the moistened shoots. The rain offered respite to the dried up vegetation but also kindled a spark of passion in the bee’s tiny heart. He could not defy his natural urge to fly from bloom to bloom. Soon enough, she noticed tiny specks of the pollen from a red hibiscus on his feet and disengaged from her stalk that night. He came looking for her the next day but his limited range of vision could not extend till the murky ground.

She fell in the path of a lonely ant, a dreamer who could not believe that a precious flower had chosen to pay him a visit. He gently rolled her along the cobbled path that led to his home. She got scraped and bruised but could sense the concern in the ant’s careful movements. He dug out a cozy bed for her right next to the entrance of his nest and fluffed it up with some fallen feathers. It was the soundest sleep of her life as she had finally found the meaning of true love.

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Thorny Nettles: An Unfortunate Love Story

Thorny Nettles: An Unfortunate Love Story

The yearning for solitude led them into the haunted woods. They were forewarned by well-wishers about the cursed willows, but there was no other refuge in the vicinity that could shelter sprouting love from the perils of practicality. Misty eyes firmly set on each other, they bid adieu to concerned friends and entered the realm of relentless romance. They were pleasantly surprised to be greeted by sunlit trails and chirping birds. The melodious music of nature muffled the troubled whispers of lost souls who had traversed this path before.

Seven days flew by, joyous hours doused with the sweet nectar of love, untarnished by the worries of the material world. The seventh night was a moonless one but hunger forced them to venture into the shadows in the search of food. This was their first encounter with reality since they had pledged their lives to each other. The woods seemed claustrophobic in the darkness. Shrieking bats flew over their heads, their sharp claws brushed her hair. Dead branches scraped his legs, making red rivulets flow down his skin. Shiny eyes, green and yellow, appeared in the thorny bushes. The cloudless sky began to shed tears; the grey pellets were nothing like the hailstones they had seen before.

Overcome with fear and fatigue, she wanted to return to their den but his resolve was undeterred. He left her in a cave lit up by a swarm of fireflies and continued to wade through the murky water that had engulfed the daisies. He squeezed through a dense bamboo forest to reach a path that was miraculously dry. The intertwining branches of ancient trees had created a tunnel that appeared to stretch for miles. The sound of a gushing waterfall enticed him towards the other end. He had reached mid-way when the first rays of sunshine pierced through the canopy of leaves and magically transported him back to the spot where he had left her.

The itch of defeat disturbed him all day and the moment the sun drowned in the invisible sea, he rushed back to the tunnel. Unfortunately, he was unsuccessful yet again and found himself beside her as soon as dawn broke. This continued for several weeks, the rainbows, butterflies and silver clouds were not sufficient to heal the wounds of failure. Even the sight of her face, deep in a satisfied slumber, became a constant reminder of his shortcomings. He was irked because she couldn’t associate with the undying urge to win this curious game.

Each night he tried a new tactic until he was left with just one. The final strategy worked marvellously well and he plunged ecstatically into the pristine waters that sparkled in his victorious glow. Knowing that she was dead broke all restraints of inhibition and helped him run faster than he ever could.

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