Friday Fiction with Ronovan Writes. Challenge Prompt # 11

FINAL

FEAR NO TEAR

By Neel Anil Panicker

I lifted her head, she looked at me and said “Hold me darling, just a little while”.
In our family there is a long held tradition that way back in time, in fact several generations back.

It is simply that men don’t cry, and more so, grown up men.
All through my life I have tried and I must say been damn successful in manfully upholding this hallowed family tradition.
Right from the time when I was barely a child; one still to see the first of several double digits of my life.

I remember the day pretty clearly. I had just alighted from the school bus; bid adieu to my gang of best chums tied to our bums; and lazily sauntered my way towards home.
Being an only child of working parents comes with it own share of attendant issues, as well as privileges, one of them being that you get to open the doors to your dwelling. (Yeah, I was owner of a personal key to my house at an age when children still don’t step out of their homes without firmly attaching their arms to their daddies and mummies or elder siblings, if they had any, that is).

So, as I was telling you, there I was opening the main door and stepping into my house and lo! what do I find?
My dear Trinkle, my love, my heartbeat, a most beautiful parrot if ever there was one, lying face down, immobile, cruelly slumped to a corner, in her wide, rectangular cage.

‘She must have caught cold,’ opined mother, or ‘You never know with these birds, what they contract,’ replied father, both trying in vain to distance the blame as far away from us. As if, or so they thought, that would in some way lessen the pain following the pet’s demise.

For days on end after that I was terribly shaken up and stirred but not once did I allow even a tear drop to moisten my ashen cheeks.
Tears are not for a man to show, father would constantly remind us.
As the years passed I learned to hide nee stop, completely, the natural flow of tears, and I must say I have been successful all these years, right through the most trying times of my life.

I even managed to hold on to the family pride when the next major tragedy erupted in the household_ my grandmother’s death. It came at a time when I was right at the far edge of my teens, desperately waiting to leapfrog into the tantalizing twenties.
Though we knew her end was near, struck as she was with a highly malignant form of throat cancer, I for one, was just not able to hold on to myself.
I distinctly remember the last days of her life.

She was in hospital for a week or so and all that while mom and dad would be by her side. Not that she needed much help, bedridden and comatose as she was for a good three weeks before life escaped her.

I would stand guard outside her bed, and still not be able to lock eyes with granny; just was not brave enough, or so I thought, to look at all the drips and needles and wires that attached themselves to her fast disappearing frail frame.

Her death really shook me up, shook me to the extent that I almost forgot I was the torchbearer of a hallowed family tradition, and I began to cry.
Well, almost. For at the nth hour I happened to look at my father, his face all impassive and inscrutable like a battle hardened poker veteran, and miraculously the tears or more precisely the lone tear that was lurching around in the corner of my eye turned back, banished into the dark, interior recesses of my benumbed memory bank, the repository of all pain.

But that was then and this is now. And the truth is that now, as I sit, hunched to a corner wall, in this darkened roadside hotel room, there is a lady in my arms, and she is dying. And she is begging me to allow her to do so, peacefully, slowly, and happily.

 

 

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“Hold me darling, just a little while”. Her words are a mere whisper, a strain, and a pain. Oh, that voice, that once bright, bubbly voice, now sliding and fading away, slowly but surely.
I hold her close, my strong macho torso wrapped around her, shielding her, protecting her, preventing her from dying, for a while, just a little while.

Maybe, she will survive unlike granny.

I know I am wrong and that it is just wishful thinking. Who am I fooling?

Cancer is a remorseless beast. It strikes when one is most vulnerable. As I am now, as is this young girl, my darling Minu, two people who have a lot to love and live for.

And then it stops. The breathing. She is gone. All quiet. No more.
Slowly, painfully, inch by aching inch, her once lithe body goes tender and cold.

And they come, like a torrent. The flood of tears. All bottled up. Submerged.
And as they finally hurl down in a maddening fury down my ravaged face, I let out a deafening roar, a blood curdling cry of despair.

Fuck the family heirloom.
I am sorry dad, I failed you.
***

TJ’s Household Haiku Weekly Challenge prompt: Bottlebrush

callistemon_citrinus

 

Bottle Brush Spiritual Meaning

Abundance, laughter, joy, the essence of the kookaburra. The flowers are used to celebrate birth and all that is new and sustaining. The seed pods make excellent pillow filling allowing the head to breathe.

A lot of our streets and backyards in Australia have these plants and it seems it has become so common place that we look, but do not always see the natural wonders that surround us.

One of Australia’s most iconic natural symbols would have to be the Bottle brush or Callistemon. This natural treasure’s name is of Greek origins callis meaning beauty and stemon meaning stamen which is in reference to its thousands of beautiful stamen flowers creating each individual flower.

 

TJ’s Household Haiku Weekly Challenge:

POEM: HAIKU SERIES  # 2

By Neel Anil Panicker

Wish I could bottle

some fragrance,

to brush up my life.

 

Ronovan,s Flash Fiction Challenge # 10

FLASH FICTION SERIES # 5
Life Is Round the Corner
By Neel Anil Panicker

Once she hears the footsteps slowly receding away she knows it is time to call it a day. She watches as Vijay scratches on his beard, mutters something under his breath, and then slides sideways, to fall asleep beside the baby.
He can afford to but can she. She still has a lot of chores that needed to be done before she too, like dear Viju, can afford to hurl herself into bed, all tired and exhausted from the day’s work.
Watching Grace, all quiet and in deep slumber, her puny little arms neatly entangled inside Viju’s is enough for her to get a wee bit sentimental.
She snuggles upto the two and gently plants a kiss, one each on their cheeks, hers_ all pink and rosy, and his_ still grimy and covered in dirt and grime.
Gosh! all those hours slogging inside the coal mine is taking a huge toll. Concerned, she pores over his face, now almost blackened beyond recognition.
And the coughing. Oh my God!. She must do something about it. It is turning from bad to worse . The other night it just wouldn’t stop. She shudders when she recalls what would have happened had poor little Williams had not come last night and given him the medicines. To his neighbours, he may be unbearably grouchy and generally ill mannered, but then to Mary, the short doctor with the obnoxiously loud voice was an angel; always there when required and  ready to help, come day or night, or even midnight, as was the case the last time around.
And what had he replied when she tried to pay him for his nocturnal visit with a worn out much circulated fifty rupee note?
Wait, let me remember.
Yes, I got it.
“Brothers don’t take money from their sisters”.
Now she remembered. Such a man! Brothers… sisters…
Look at him. Only the other day Minu from next door was telling her that the man had bought the top floor flat and that too at one go.’All cash, you know,’ was how Minu had screeched in that high pitched voice of hers.
Man, how much would that have cost!

Wait let me take a guess. What was it that Sush Aunty had said? (yeah, the same old hag who just couldn’t stop herself from making it her business to know about every single thing that happened or nearly happened or was believed to have happened or otherwise around her and five kilometres beyond, including things inside and outside of peoples’ bedrooms).

Yes, I remember. Thirty lakhs! Yes, that’s how much money the old hag had said was the asking rate for a bare boned one-room flat.
If that was the case, the good doc must have shelled out close to a crore.
And oh! He also had__if Sush again were to be believed__four more flats in different areas of the city.
A lot of money, the man must have. And guess what. It was a known fact that Dr Williams was a bachelor with no relatives whatsoever to speak of __ known or otherwise.
And the man, such a man, a doctor at that, had come to her, not once but every time she needed him.
Yes he had been kind, had always been so.
Why? Because, plain and simple, she was her sister. That’s what he had said and not just once but every single time he had come over to tend to her husband and once for her baby.
She walked upto the kitchen and peered over into the sink. It was a mountain. A neat  pile. Of utensils. All unwashed.
Dammit, why the hell does the water come only in the dead of night? Or, then again, early in the mornings?  That too, very early, at around four. She looked at the heap one more time. It was a Hobson’s choice_either now or the morrow.
She decided to bite the bullet. The hell with it. Now or tomorrow, what difference does it make? Her hands slipped into slippery soapy waters allowing her mind wandered away.
Far, far, away. Into a land__beautiful and unknown__, a land full of small little houses, and among them one cute little house.
A small two roomed independent corner bungalow, and surrounded all around by a beautiful landscaped garden, blooming with an array of flowers, red, yellow and white. And from inside the sound of gentle feet and gurgling laughter and cheery smiles and incessant laughter. A house of joy. A house of her own. A house of celebration of life. A house for her, for Vijay, and for their dear Grace.
Her hands had stopped. The water had stopped. She dried her hands, swithed off the lights, and snuggled her small frame, feeling the warmth of her loved ones.
The dream had just begun and as she cupped the tiny little hands of her dear Grace,  she knew that one day, some day, her dream will turn into a reality, by God’s grace.
***

Friday Fiction with Ronovan Writes.CHALLENGE # 10

FLASH FICTION SERIES # 5
Life Is Round the Corner
By Neel Anil Panicker
Once she hears the footsteps slowly receding away she knows it is time to call it a day. She watches as Vijay scratches on his beard, mutters something under his breath, and then slides sideways, to fall asleep beside the baby.
He can afford to but can she. She still has a lot of chores that needed to be done before she too, like dear Tom, can afford to hurl herself into bed, all tired and exhausted from the day’s work.
Watching Grace, all quiet and in deep slumber, her puny little arms neatly entangled inside Viju’s is enough for her to get a wee bit sentimental.
She snuggles upto the two and gently plants a kiss, one each on their cheeks, hers_ all pink and rosy, and his_ still grimy and covered in dirt and grime.
Gosh! all those hours slogging inside the coal mine is taking a huge toll. Concerned, she pores over his face, now almost blackened beyond recognition.
And the coughing. Oh my God!. She must do something about it. It is turning from bad to worse . The other night it just wouldn’t stop. She shudders when she recalls what would have happened had poor little Williams had not come last night and given him the medicines. To his neighbours, he may be unbearably grouchy and generally ill mannered, but then to Mary, the short doctor with the obnoxiously loud voice was an angel; always there when required and ready to help, come day or night, or even midnight, as was the case the last time around.
And what had he replied when she tried to pay him for his nocturnal visit with a worn out much circulated fifty rupee note?
Wait, let me remember.
Yes, I got it.
“Brothers don’t take money from their sisters”.
Now she remembered. Such a man! Brothers… sisters…
Look at him. Only the other day Minu from next door was telling her that the man had bought the top floor flat and that too at one go.

‘All cash, you know,’ was how Minu had screeched in that high pitched voice of hers.
Man, how much would that have cost!

Wait let me take a guess. What was it that Sush Aunty had said? (yeah, the same old hag who just couldn’t stop herself from making it her business to know about every single thing that happened or nearly happened or was believed to have happened or otherwise around her and five kilometres beyond, including things inside and outside of peoples’ bedrooms).

Yes, I remember. Thirty lakhs! Yes, that’s much money the old hag had said was the asking rate for a bare boned one-room flat.
If that was the case, the good doc must have shelled out close to a crore.
And oh! He also had__if Sush again were to be believed__four more flats in different areas of the city.
A lot of money, the man must have. And guess what. It was a known fact that Dr Williams was a bachelor with no relatives whatsoever to speak of __ known or otherwise.
And the man, such a man, a doctor at that, had come to her, not once but every time she needed him.
Yes he had been kind, had always been so.
Why? Because, plain and simple, she was her sister. That’s what he had said and not just once but every single time he had come over to tend to her husband and once for her baby.
She walked upto the kitchen and peered over into the sink. It was a mountain. A neat pile. Of utensils. All unwashed.
Dammit, why the hell does the water come only in the dead of night? Or, then again, early in the mornings? That too, very early, at around four. She looked at the heap one more time. It was a Hobson’s choice_- either now or the morrow.
She decided to bite the bullet. The hell with it. Now or tomorrow, what difference does it make? Her hands slipped into slippery soapy waters allowing her mind wandered away.
Far, far, away. Into a land__beautiful and unknown__, a land full of small little houses, and among them one cute little house.
A small two roomed independent corner bungalow, and surrounded all around by a beautiful landscaped garden, blooming with an array of flowers, red, yellow and white. And from inside the sound of gentle feet and gurgling laughter and cheery smiles and incessant laughter. A house of joy. A house of her own. A house of celebration of life. A house for her, for Thomas, and for their dear Grace.
Her hands had stopped. The water had stopped. She dried her hands, swithed off the lights, and snuggled her small frame, feeling the warmth of her loved ones.
The dream had just begun and as she cupped the tiny little hands of her dear Grace, she knew that one day, some day, her dream will turn into a reality, by God’s grace.
***