The Sun-Man

When the East Coast Blizzard unleashed its ferocity last year, several snowmen were made. And, my cousin, and his wife created a snowwoman. The statuette was gorgeous. She almost asked for a story to be written about her. The figurine became my cousin’s muse, and he wrote a moving story.

Because the snowwoman was adorable, I couldn’t resist the urge to spin a tiny tale too about her, and I shared stole his muse. 😉 When we exchanged our flash fiction, I was amazed at how similarly, yet differently we had looked at her.

This year, my cousin observed that we must write something about the sun-man.

While all other celestial objects are celebrated, our poor sun is always scolded. “He is either burning, or hiding. He never strikes a balance.” Someone should cut him some slack.

So, my cousin’s idea sounded like a tribute to the sun. A paean for the unsung hero. 🙂

And we wrote two stories on the theme The Sun-Man.

My cousin’s story warmed my heart instantly. It was adequately awww-inducing, thoughtful, and look out for a tiny twist that’s cleverly presented.

Here is the Sun-Man, written by Navin Radha — http://navinradha.blogspot.in/?zx=9d36978717ac582a

His website, which is a charming old soul, is a treasure chest of stories. ❤

Please allow me to share a little, yet important trivia. I began writing only after I read Navin Radha’s blogs, and flash fiction. He is quite an inspiration to me. (Arav, stop feeling embarrassed, and say, “Nandri hai!”

And, of course, we would love to hear about his story. 🙂

*****

Yours truly sat on Navin Radha’s idea for 234 years. Then, I wrestled with my head, and wrote this story on our Sun-Man. I hope you will enjoy our stories.

The Sun-Man

20170415_124641If I could sweat, I would. If I knew to knit, I would. If I knew to doodle, I would. I must do something to cope with my anxiety. But I am an enormous fireball that can’t adopt any of the human methods to alleviate my pain. All that I can do is burn.

It’s been five days since he paid me a visit; he hasn’t been this elusive. Disappearing is not his way. He is the one who shows up.

Tharangambadi. It was a lonely morning. The moon and the stars were exhausted. I was tired to rise too. But they needed a break. I dusted the stardust on my face, pushed a cloud to cover the moon, and rose to face another day.

He was sitting on a rock. He was more tired than all of us. As I lifted myself higher, he squinted, cocked his head, and whispered, “You are gorgeous!” I was shy. His face broke into a smile.

I saw his worn backpack, torn shoes, and sunburnt face. One of those clichéd bikers. Just when I was about to dismiss him, I saw him dropping his camera in his bag. He folded his knees, and hugged them, as he sat straight. I was used to people staring at me. But this man’s unwavering attention made me feel awkward.

I slowly rose with my gaze fixed on his enchanted face. The man continued to talk to me. “What is happening! I drove 723 kilometres. No. I didn’t intend to see you. I couldn’t sleep. Instead of tossing and turning in my bed, I rode a few more kilometres, and decided to rest here for a while. Then I see you.”

I did not know if he spoke to everybody like that. Did he know I was listening?

“I am sure you are listening,” he said. I was so surprised that I would have fallen into Bay of Bengal. But folks like me can’t succumb to such impulses. “In your presence, I am not lonely. You are all that I need. Your measured warmth. Your silent companionship. Your unassuming beauty,” he mumbled.

We were two lonely souls with few words, and more feelings.

He tore his heart open, and allowed me to illuminate his chamber of vulnerabilities, regrets, and pain. I touched his gentle soul with my morning rays.

In that short moment, I knew he would be my friend. My man. The Sun-Man.

Kanyakumari. I was all yellow, orange, and red. The blue was gone. 16 minutes before I could go down, he sat on a rock, holding a girl’s hand. She didn’t make me feel jealous.
From the way she looked at him, when he gushed about our soulful-connection, I knew she was going to love me.

With a heart that brimmed with joy and contentment, I drew the blanket of darkness over me. He stole a kiss from her. She held his hand, but kept smiling at me. Even if the darkness chose to stay for eternity, I wouldn’t have regretted. I wanted their moment to last forever.

Pulicat. The Sun-Man hurled a pebble into the quiet backwater. When the ripples settled, I saw his son’s face. Amaan. He was like his parents; I was not surprised. He looked at me like I was the most beautiful marvel.

“How many sunsets have you seen, Appa?” Amaan wondered. My man wore his signature smile. “Many, many! Maybe, more than 200.” The little child couldn’t count. “200. Is it greater than five?” The Sun-Man threw another stone. “Not really…” He held Amaan’s chin. “Sometimes, one sunset would make you feel like you saw hundreds of them,” he looked at me.

I remembered that look; I wanted to hug him. “You are resplendent today,” he observed. A thin ray of light kissed him. It was my way of ruffling his hair.

He lifted Amaan, and they both left on the Sun-Man’s vintage bike. They rode, and rode, as though they rode into the sunset itself.

Pondicherry. He lives here. His schedule is unpredictable, but he comes to meet me everyday. The Sun-Man’s gait has changed. His pace has become slow. His heart is light, and joyful all the same.

When he sits on the promenade, and looks at me going about my chores, our souls hold hands, and dance on the waves that rise and crash. He doesn’t talk at all these days. But I listen to his silence.

He waits till I go home. Then he looks at the moonbeam that falls on the ancient ocean. The sheet of silver on the water fills his heart with peace, and when he takes a deep breath then, I know how much he loves me, and the moon, the light, and the darkness.

Five days have gone. What is wrong with him? Why would he neglect me? That’s so unlike him.

I have spent 22 days without embracing the Sun-Man. I am livid. I want to burn and burn and burn, and set fire to the world, and the clouds, and the universe. But, I am going to wait. He will come back.

81 days. No signs of the Sun-Man yet. My friends in the cosmos are supposed to form a search party. But they can’t help me. They have to befriend one like the Sun-Man to know what friendship means.

Wadi Rum. I just spotted Amaan, 134 days after my friend went missing. Where was he all this while? Where is the Sun-Man? I thought Amaan’s like his parents. Maybe, I was wrong. This boy doesn’t recognise me. Dude! I am your father’s best friend. No! He is writing something on a journal. I am going to ask the desert winds to throw sand into his eyes. I miss my friend. What happens when I cry?

Amaan writes feverishly, and darts a quick glance at me. I could understand his father’s silence. But this boy seems mysterious. He pushes the notebook aside, lies on the sand, and closes his eyes. Boy! Where is the Sun-Man?

I linger over his head for a while. He must be lost in a dreamless slumber. I hold my anxious heart, and look at his journal. The shapes do not make sense to me. “The Jordanian desert accentuates the sun’s beauty. What makes the sun more beautiful here? My muddled head can’t grasp the soul of Jordan. Without him, nothing makes sense to me. Will this desert, and the sand, and the sun give Appa back?”

He wakes up with a start because I was too severe on him. Amaan doesn’t talk to me. From the way, he ignores me, I know that he needs me the most now. I should stop being harsh. The boy needs a hug.

I ask a stray cloud to cover me a bit; I wink at Amaan. He gives me a lopsided smile. Will you listen to me, boy? “When I met the Sun-Man in Tharangambadi, we shared our souls. I do not know where he is now. But a leaf of his soul lives with me. That is the lantern to my dark life. That is my universe. He is my universe. I will wait and wait and wait to see him again. I might die. The universe might collapse. But I will wait to give him a warm hug one more time. Till then, I carry his soul. Look at me when you want to talk to him. Look at me when you want to hear his voice. Look at me when you feel lonely. I am here. Because I am waiting for the Sun-Man.”

Amaan wakes up. Torrential tears streak down his cheeks. “Appa!” he whispers. The desert wind brings the word to me. “Boy! I am collecting your words, smiles, tears, and memories.We are in this together.”

*****

PS: My story is a loud tribute to the man who carries a pebble in his pocket. You know who you are. 🙂 ❤

The Story of a Snowwoman

It’s charming to create something, despite knowing that the souvenir would’t be alive too along. It cannot be stored in those enormous wooden boxes for posterity. It cannot be brought to the drawing room to entertain the guests. It cannot be mailed as a token of love. And, all that one can do to seal one’s memory is to photograph it — a consolation prize, a feeble attempt, but the last resort nevertheless. The fleeting moment has to be captured before it could melt, this temperamental snowman. 🙂

When the East Coast Blizzard unleashed its ferocity last month, several snowmen were made. And, my cousin, and his wife created a snowwoman. The statuette was gorgeous. She almost asked for a story to be written about her. The figurine became my cousin’s muse, and he wrote a moving story.

Because the snowwoman was adorable, I couldn’t resist the urge to spin a tiny tale too about her, and I shared stole his muse. 😉 When we exchanged our flash fiction, I was amazed at how similarly, yet differently we had looked at her.

What was created might have disappeared, but we have given it a happily-ever-after. I am an incurable romantic that way; I want to believe that stories belong to that Eternal World.

And, let me present: One picture, Two Stories, A Melange of Emotions

Here is my cousin’s flash fiction. He writes intriguing stories at Navinradha.

Snow-woman

Christopher’s care house
Eastern US

Laurie was looking out the window with a half knitted sweater in hand.

Her family had planned to visit her that weekend but the sudden snowstorm had caught everyone unawares. The bright but depressing weather was not helping the cause.

The throat cancer she was diagnosed a few years ago had worsened and she wanted to spend the last few days of her life with the family.

As dawn paved way to a light sunny afternoon, she heard footsteps from the adjacent room as the doors were ajar. Connie’s family had come to visit her a few days back but could not leave as the blizzard broke everyone’s travel plans. Snow piled up for more than 3 ft. and travel in those conditions was impossible.

The visitors had invited themselves to an unplanned holiday. The workaholic husband was disappointed he would be away from work, and the homemaker wife was upset that she would have to be away from their recently bought house. But the children were happy to spend time with their grandmother.

The storm lasted for two days and the mild reprieve they got made the kids venture out to build their favourite snow men and women.

Wearing ski gloves and boots, they went out and started building the white figures. Ron built a snow-man that resembled the famous Hulk character. Lisa settled for the traditional snow-woman with forks and spoons becoming limbs, and carrots and grapes forming facial parts.

Lisa looked at Laurie through the window and smiled. She smiled back and gestured to her that her creation was better than Ron’s. Lisa’s happiness skyrocketed and she ran towards her mother to share the joy.

Laurie sat in the same position for the next two days for any movement she made caused more pain to her already ailing body. The gruelling pain and sadness of not being able to see her loved ones made the cancerous throat dry. Tears trickled down from her eyes and moistened the wrinkled chins.

Her only solace and companion was the snow-woman Lisa had built.

As the weather improved and the sun shone, the snow-woman started to melt and so did the lady watching her.

Written by
Navin Radha

*****

Here is yours truly’s story:

Until Next Winter

“You are a pretty, pretty, snow-woman!” declares the kind lady, who carefully fashioned me. She removes her gloves, scratches her dog’s ears, and surveys me from a distance, with her head tilted, maybe an expression that she borrows from her dog. “I surprised myself,” her weak smile is lopsided.

The naughty canine removes himself from her affectionate clutch, and trots toward me. He makes me nervous; he sniffs my dainty nose, tugs my colourful beanie, lifts his leg, and gingerly takes a leak on my fresh white body. “Charm, stop abusing her,” she guffaws. Strangely, I feel warm, and I bask in the transient heat that the mischievous mutt created. Dogs are not that bad after all.

She stands akimbo, with her gaze fixed on my face. While her dog soaks himself in the pleasant winter sun, and vets every inch of the yard, she is as stationary as me now.

“Charm, your mom’s snowman is handsome,” her old neighbour observes from his garden. His voice is hoarse, his words flirtatious. She doesn’t thank him; she doesn’t tell him that I am a woman.

“The snowman is a bit fat, isn’t he, Charm?” the neighbour laughs. Her expression is as vacant as her black eyes, which are trained on me now.

She might have given me a pair of eyes just a few minutes ago, but I can see something beyond her purple cardigan, black boots, gray hair, panda patches, and the lines around her mouth and eyes.

Through the very eyes that she gave me, I can see a woman, who is so fatigue that she wants to hibernate like polar bears. I can see a battered soul who’s not depressed because of the blizzard. I can see her broken heart, and myriad reflections of her gloomy countenance on the shards.

“Am I the only one on this planet to fall head over heels in love with my snowwoman?” she breaks her own reverie, clearing her throat, adjusting her spectacles. Charm has now jumped over the fence. The old man treats him with a cookie, and the dog is oblivious to the storm in his human’s head. Bad dog!

My dear lady wears her gloves again. She pulls out her camera from her pocket. Click. Click. Click. The little device is put back in its place, and my human walks toward me. As though she is trying hard to swallow the urge to give me a tight hug, she stands in front of me, and shuffles her leg.

“Will you be mine forever? Will you promise not to thaw even if the sun chooses to be harsh on you tomorrow?” she runs her hand on my chubby cheeks. I want to assure her, I want to tell her that I belong to her, I want to tell her that I believe in forever too. But, she raises a red flag in front of my train of thoughts. “I am not naïve anymore, you know. You will disappear in a while, and I am bracing myself for the inevitable. I want to be prepared at least this time. But remember, you are one in a million. When everybody made a snowman, I made you, my little snowwoman.”

I am livid, for I am not able to shed tears for my kind lady. Her fondness, her warmth melt me. She looks at me for one last time, wears her brightest smile, grabs her belongings, and beckons Charm before entering her house. I wail. I try waving my delicate hands. I know my efforts are futile. She cannot hear me. However, I scream. “Until next winter, my dear lady!”

*****

And, meet the legend! 🙂

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Goodby, Pen

48367Dear Pen,

That moment has arrived; the time to lock you up along with many other things, which I don’t use anymore, but don’t have the heart to throw away, is here. I am not going to meet you till I open the carton to dump another item. And, that might take ages. Even if I do, in all probability, I might fail to notice your presence.

So, before I declare your retirement, I am using you dear Pen, to write this letter about how precious you were to me. You noticed it, didn’t you? You were.

Every morning, before leaving to work, I lock the door, and my hand goes to the pocket in my shirt to ensure that you are resting in your pride of place. Even when I am clad in casual clothing, I carry you in my trousers and shorts. Like a marsupial. (Forget the times, when you jumped off from my pocket. I was tipsy then… Okay, I was drunk.)

But, when was the last time I used you? To sign a loan application. Maybe one more time after that. To draw an elephant on a toddler’s hand. That was all. We are in the times of smart phones, my dear Pen. Most men don’t carry you in their pockets anymore, and women’s bags and clutches hold other important things. Things of your kind are mere embellishments these days.

Did you know? Good Handwriting Stationaries, where I met you the first time, has been closed permanently? I still remember how you looked that day. Good Handwriting Stationaries was bright. It was abnormally bright as though an enormous star was hiding in the store. Father was talking to the shop-keeper about an expensive fountain pen. I could hear their chat. I was too short and I was standing behind a huge table, so I couldn’t see the shop-keeper’s face. Pressing one hand on the table, I tried jumping up to take a good look around the store. My pajamas were too loose. I held it with another hand, and jumped again to see the shop-keeper. And, that’s when, you fell from the table. Unlike my other pens, you had four tiny, colorful pens in you. I was astonished. I picked you up, and tried using the green pen to scrawl on my palm. It was one of the happiest days. Then, I tried all the other colors over and over again, scribbling feverishly on a tiny notepad that the shop-keeper offered.

Father smiled. Touching my head, he asked, “Do you want it?” I nodded, and he bought four for me. Since that day, I visited Good Handwriting Stationaries almost every month to buy so many you. Despite knowing that the owner had misspelt ‘Stationaries’ in the signboard, I chose to not tell him because I didn’t want to upset the man, who introduced you to me. And, I knew I could get the best you only in that store.

I wrote my first letter using you, my dear Pen. I sobbed a lot when my favourite teacher Mrs Jones announced her retirement. I was in Class 1 then. Father told me I could write a farewell letter to her. Did you know what I wrote?

Dear Mrs Jones,

I will miss you. Goodby.

Love, Dobby

When Mrs Jones read the letter, she smiled. She walked toward my desk, and pinched my cheeks. Then, she kissed the letter and told me, “Dobby, you are adorable. And, Goodby is usually spelt with an e at the end.” Mrs Jones wrote a letter to me after she retired. That letter will give you company when I put you in that box, my dear Pen.

After I grew up, I filled many application forms using you. I couldn’t use you to write examinations though, because you are a ballpoint pen. But, I still managed to use you profusely. I had a strange fondness for you because you had four pens in one tube. How fascinating!

My first conversation with my girlfriend was about you. “Man, do you still use pens?” she asked, when she found me carrying you in my pocket. “You must be really romantic!” she remarked. I accepted the compliment and offered her an awkward smile.

On a cold night, after a memorable, passionate lovemaking, my girlfriend wore my shirt. As she fastened the buttons, she wondered aloud, touching the pen in the pocket, “Dobby, do you still use pens? And this one is so old-fashioned. With this pen in your pocket, you look like an old man to me.” I didn’t disagree. You certainly didn’t go well with my pleasant clothes and, your green and red pens started looking funny on me.

Now, do not misunderstand me, my dear Pen. I didn’t decide to terminate our unnamed relationship because of my girlfriend. Lately, carrying you in my pocket feels like walking the leash after the dog’s demise.

I have been carrying you because I have done it all my life. But, why should I continue to keep you in my pocket, when I barely use you? And, you must trust, if I admit that it hurts to keep you locked up. However, it’s futile to romanticize the past for the sake of it.

After having written numerous letters, and a few howlers, my dear Pen, I finally choose to let you rest. Will I use you again to write a love-note, you ask? I don’t meet a lot of people, who adore written-notes, these days. But, we would never know.

Goodby!