Memories

Duma Xan

Duma is a 2005 film directed by Carroll Ballard.
©Warner Bros. Pictures

Xan’s life changed forever. He didn’t change his path; he walked on the path that was meant for him.

Everything revealed slowly and transformed him and made him aware. Xan cared for Duma, loved Duma to an extent that he started understanding him completely.

Though he accepted it only at the last moment, he somewhere always knew that Duma deserves to live a free life.

The laughs, the games, the tears, the silent talks were soon going to be nothing but shared moments stored in an old box kept somewhere in the past.

All Xan knew was that he could open that box anytime and relive those memories – memories of his late father and his lovely friend, Duma.

Xan often thought about Duma and the time they said goodbye to each other. At first, he was skeptical, he thought Duma might be upset with him for leaving, but then, he realised that it was the right thing to do.

He closed his eyes and saw Duma’s eyes –big, beautiful, and alive. Xan was hit by a gust of wind which slowly tried to calm him down and stayed with him until he smiled.

He told himself, ‘Duma must be with his friends right now, going down to the riverside or maybe already there… relaxing under the shade.’  

Xan and Duma.
The film is based on a children’s book How it Was with Dooms
that tells the true story of a young boy’s friendship with an orphaned Cheetah.
©Warner Bros. Pictures

Duma is sitting on a tree branch, one of his friends is sitting nearby and the other one is strolling in the bushes, just like that.

The sun rays are not falling on Duma, but his eyes are shining nevertheless. He can see Xan.    

Watch the trailer now

While these questions circle uneasily in our minds, “Duma” creates scenes of wonderful adventure. The stalled motorcycle is turned into a wind-driven land yacht. A raft trip on a river involves rapids and crocodiles. The cheetah itself plays a role in their survival. And the movie takes on an additional depth because Xan is not a cute one-dimensional “family movie” child, and Ripkuna is freed from the usual cliches about noble and helpful wanderers. These are characters free to hold surprises in the real world.

Roger Ebert, the film critic.
Read his review of Duma here.

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I See You

Where do I start I don’t know. There are so many memories and each time when I think of any particular one, a multitude of her personality traits leaves me overwhelmed.
 
Though, I am sure about one thing and it is about the end. I am sure that there is no end, there never was and never will be. Yes, she is not physically present here but I know she is everywhere. Silky!
 
My pet dog, my sister, my teacher, my baby, my Silky left me last year on this day, this month. And this whole year when she was not here, she was with me the most.
 
I met her in my dreams and I cuddled her and kissed her. She is so lovely and she is very happy. My mind allows me to cry but my heart laughs and tells me that she is right with me. And this leaves me laughing as well.
 
And my laugh tells me, Silky, that you are with me in me. Because that is you, spreading joy and love, that is you. And I thank you.
 
Words can certainly not express my feelings but can surely mirror some.
 
What are you? More than magic can define and less than facts will agree. You taught me what the power of patience can do. And it has done great things, silently. Your selfless love for everyone makes me wonder.
 
Who are you? A pair of excited eyes and one fluffy tail. Your wisdom confirmed it to me and my brother that you are a secret agent and that all the animals in the world are quietly working for peace.
 
How can you? Meditating day and night and each time glowing with intelligence. You had to hide from us but you wanted us to know and you did tell us but after you left. Very smart!
 
The answer is very simple. This is what you told us.
 
One part of me says that you left us too soon and one part of me meets you every now and then. Which one is right?
 
You told me that there is no wrong answer. You told me that there is one truth. You told me that blissfulness will prevail. You told me that I’ll smile.
 
I did smile. You were right. You are right. You are here, now and forever.
 
Please meet me when the time comes. Love you Silky! 
 
J
 
 
 

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The Better Way

Flash Fiction
Neatly folded and settled.
[Source – Pixabay]

Kavya was searching for a book to read, only to pass that foggy evening. She was in her grandma’s house for vacation. Nothing but memories was left of her grandparents. A faint image entered her mind every time she thought of them- she is sitting beside them and her grandma is reading a book, they are on the balcony, soon she falls asleep, nevertheless feels the warmth because of their presence.

She was young now and restless. An idea came to her, she imagined herself sitting the way her grandma was sitting and reading, she felt that if she copied it she would get some of the serenity that her grandma had on her face. Strangely, Kavya could now see wholeness and contentment in her grandma’s eyes; calmness on her face; as if she is telling everyone to have faith…to believe; even the old monotone photographs of her grandma spoke the same whenever Kavya looked at them.

Finally, she picked a book and went outside on the balcony. Pulling a chair towards her she sat on it. She sighed…what for…she had no clue herself. Was it something in her life or was she simply missing her grandma? Maybe she sighed because we sometimes do, without knowing that we did.

There were two more pages to finish the first chapter, checked Kavya. She always did so. Kavya didn’t count herself in the category of the fervent readers, but among those who read because others read, because books are there to read and because they know reading is a good habit. There is nothing wrong with being in this category; it is just that you lag in one or the other way.

Trying to sit in a comfortable position Kavya got up and dragged the chair but while doing so she dropped the book. The book was old and some pages peeped out as soon as it hit the floor. ‘Oh!’ said Kavya. They say what happens, happens for the good. While placing the pages properly she found a folded piece of paper. Curiosity made her eyes big. She opened it; her grandma’s handwriting spoke to her. The words were few. It said ‘Just smile…it is the better way’ and under it were her grandma’s initials.

How quickly can things change, how strangely can people change, how fast the light passes in the darkness, right? Kavya couldn’t believe that she was suddenly full of happiness; spirited to do anything. She looked at the piece of paper once again and said, ‘Thank you grandma…thank you so much.’ She got up and left the balcony.

Indeed, Kavya didn’t finish that book but then she had something else to complete. The old book is back on the shelf but the message is with Kavya, which will stay with her forever.


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Kites Are Happy By Nature

Flash Fiction
Look, I am flying.
[Source – Pixabay]

Jo loves kite flying and he is flying one right now. His kite is bright red and cheerful. Jo is a very skillful boy and he knows all the tricks needed to fly a kite high.

Dramatizing happily, he tells his friends, ‘Look at my kite…soaring high, up above the sky’. All the boys burst out laughing and Theo animatedly sings ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ while an out-of-tune chorus follows him.

These kids are full of fun at the moment. Life is beautiful for them.

The kite flies high. Wind is also playing with it; taking it high and low, twisting and tickling it.

A kite has a wonderful life. Everyone looks at it with awe when it glides and dances along with the wind and the kid holding the string also feels it. A kite is joyous by nature. It brings smile on the face that looks at it. It has only one purpose in life and that is to fly high in the free sky.

Jo knows nothing but one thing that kite flying on a holiday is his life’s purpose. He didn’t even know how to spell the word purpose correctly, his English dictation test is a non-living proof of this fact, but he knew this feeling very well.

It is something to do with passion and excitement and playing well and concentration. These big words are also a problem for him, especially to remember the spellings. Jo knows the feeling and not the spelling of such words, how silly and smart of him to be so.

Jo shouts, ‘I am flying…see I am flying… o twinkle twinkle little star oye, here I come oye’.

A sound of real, innocent, pure somewhat like the rustling of the leaves, laughter filled that lucky area.

Pleasure is all around here. It is a vanilla cake sweet moment.

Slowly the winds begin to get crazier; Jo understands immediately that now is the time to fight and stay alive. All the kites are ready for the battle. Who is their enemy? Not an outsider, they are against each other. Jo tells his kite, ‘Come on… fight hard… it’s an order!’

*

Glide and rise!
[Source – Pixabay]

The bright red kite gets tangled up with the black one which is Mat’s kite. ‘It’s a knot!’ said a kid (who exactly spoke, we don’t know, anyway something more important is going on up above in the sky).

It’s the nature of the strings to get tangled, form knots and then break away.

Jo warns Mat and Mat challenges him. The mad winds knew it, Jo and Mat knew it, and the kites knew it- one will be defeated and it’ll fall.

That lucky area is now filled with exclamations, some funny, some ridiculous.

And without any final announcement it happened. Jo feels it, the string is now loose in his hand, and he looks at Mat for a millisecond. All of them stare upwards. His bright red kite is gliding away with the winds.

To his surprise, it is not alone as now the black kite is also gliding away.

Jo and Mat, half-glad, scream excitedly. Walking towards each other; their little gang members encircle them. Whatever the two say, the other boys find it entertaining.

The kites are gone, says their experience in kite flying. Like mirror images of each other, Jo and Mat begin the debate.

Possession is powerful, it can make enemies (but in this case, just for a while).

Let us leave the kids alone, they’ll be alright soon.


Life is very funny and very fickle minded. It jumps from one emotion to the other. But then this is how life is by nature. The interesting thing is that kites don’t copy life, kites always remain in one state and that is the happy state.

So look where the bright red kite is going. Colour is beautiful and this is a truth. One will naturally follow the colourful kite.

Oh! The way it matches with the dance winds do, is heavenly. It seems this kite wants to reach a selected place. It is driving for itself. But the trees are near now, will it get to rest on a tree?

No! It lands safely in a garden. Who lives here? Someone is pruning the plants there. It is Mr. James. The kite fell in Mr. James little garden.

Don’t know what will happen now. Mr. James is very old. See he walks with a limp and can’t see properly. Oh, he picked up the kite. He is checking it. Is he trying to read the kite? Maybe he thinks it is a newspaper or something.

Anyway, he’ll know what he is holding when he wears his reading glasses. Surely there is nothing to read in a kite.

He sits on the lawn chair, but without washing his hands? He is a clean freak and there is some dirt on his hands.

What is he trying to find in this kite? Perhaps he likes the material of the kite. He is rubbing his hands against the kite. And now he smells it. The kite must have been prepared using a high quality paper.

*

Lost in the world of memories.
[Source – Pixabay]

Mr. James is caught in a reverie. His eyes are looking bigger. Where ever he is, it is a good and happy place. There is a grin on his face. He suddenly looks peaceful.

A bicycle passes outside his gate and rings the cycle-bell. God knows why the bicycle rider did so, surely not to wake-up Mr. James. But see, he breaks out of his daydream. He looks around and gets up. His expression changed, though it isn’t that clear due to the wrinkles. He looks at the sky and then at the kite.

Moving towards the house leisurely, he bends slowly to keep the kite on the top staircase. Then he returns to work in the garden.

Even the flowers and the bushes and the leaves he was pruning could tell that Mr. James is still pondering about something.

After five or so minutes, Mr. James gets up, fixed on the spot, shares with his garden, ‘I know all the tricks to fly a kite high…up above the sky’.

He is now beaming, now humming something, it is not clear. But then it is the nature of the aged people, they have a smiling face, they answer in a mystical style (unclear to others) and they always chew the songs they enjoyed in their life.


Freedom from life

Or finding freedom in life,

What a joyous ride,

Especially if you are a kite.


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The Zine List

Playing the pond and the leaf game.
[Image from Pixabay]

·         I prefer ink pens if I have an option and I strongly feel that the white paper thinks the same. The smoothness with which it works makes bad handwriting elegant, adding to it an old-world charm.

·         ‘Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone…’ this song is stuck in my head. I cannot put pen to paper when my mind is out for a stroll somewhere in a far land.

·         I think I know what will be the name of the main character in my story. I will call him Shakespeare. What a wonderful name for a tree. This will be so as the other character Tim, a kid, who after reading a story in his English class written by William Shakespeare is captivated by the music of the surname and decides to name the Tree, Shakespeare. The Tree, Tim’s best friend, will be a large, leafy and shady tree.
It looks quite okay so far. I hope I’ll complete the story in time.

·         I love to come on this hilltop. What a calm place this is. My eyes can see greenery everywhere, with a shade of blue, as if these are God’s favourite colours. And the birds fly here and there as if they are the paintbrush. I think I will be able to pour my heart into my writing, in such a beautiful place.
God bless the person who thought of putting a bench in this place.
Oops! Please teach manners to some idiots who enjoy putting chewing gums on the benches. Hah!

·         The story is moving at a good pace. I feel both, Tim and Shakespeare the Tree, are looking strong. But if I am to consider what my teacher said, dealing with an experimental plot like mine could result in a lame tale. Nevertheless, I am going to stick with what I have thought of. Do we have the liberty to express ourselves or not? So what if one enjoys writing absurd stories?

·         Well, I haven’t written much for a long time. My lovely ink pen looks dry lying on the table by the notebook. I wonder what the ink pen is thinking. Maybe it is waiting to pour fresh ink on the paper and make cursive designs. Maybe it dies when one is not using it and when used, it comes back to life.
I can’t forget that scene when Ella trying to fill the ink pen, somehow managed to spill the inkpot all over, staining her new dress. She shouted at me because the ink pen was mine and blamed me for the disaster. I didn’t reply because I was busy laughing and cleaning the site of the accident.

*

Ella and me. {I am the one who is busy reading about insects, Ella is chilling.}
[Image from Pixabay]

·         The highlight of my story will be the interesting conversations between Tim and Shakespeare the Tree. Tim will be a sensitive boy, who notices and relishes each and every movement of the Tree- the dance of every single leaf and every branch, the falling of all the old leaves, the ants walking non-stop on the Tree, sometimes tickling the Tree and the habit of the Tree to make the leaf always fall in the pool of water. Shakespeare the Tree will be like its name- grand and simple, mysterious, life-giving and a great actor. An actor who knows its role very well and performs it perfectly with such swiftness that it looks dynamically static.

·         It is raining today and Ella doesn’t like it. We cancelled our plan. Ella messaged me ‘rainfall… not happening yaar’ and I agreed, though I didn’t in reality. I like the rainy season; the dominant sound of rain splashing everywhere; watching the birds trying to hide; the dripping roof; and the hot coffee.
Thanks to the rain, I’ll add a chapter about it in my story. A sequence about how Tim rushes to save himself from the heavy shower and finds Shakespeare the Tree as his rescuer…but not like a cliche, it should represent the bond between the two friends.

[After a few days.]

·         I am excited because tomorrow I’ll present a sneak peek of my story in the class. And so will the other participants. I’ll have to make the opening sound both reasonable and authentic. I think I’ll be able to sustain the interest of all those who will hear me out. I’ll end the summary in verse.

Tonight the moon looks quite talkative or maybe I can hear more.


The Moon: Do you know about my friend Cactus? He lives in a desert.
Me: How calm one gets just by looking at you.
The Moon: You talk like my friend Cactus. He said he enjoys my calm white rays.
Me: What is that you want to say dear Moon?
The Moon: A lot. It’s quite lonely up here sometimes, you know. I’ll tell you about my other friend, he is a sailor. But later sometime, for now, I wish you a sweet night.
Me: Talk to you soon. I am feeling sleepy. Good night!             

·         I got an average response in the class. It is so that people like straightforward love stories and adventure tales more than any experimental tale like that of a friendship between a boy and a tree. Well, this will not stop me from continuing. I asked my ink pen and he said nothing. Instead, he was ready to write. So was I.

·         Tim can’t be a single child or an adopted child or mentally challenged or troubled at school or anything weird and obvious. Tim should be normal and a happy go lucky child. I want him to be one of us, whose innocent mind bonds with a tree. I think I’ll make him a hostler and his school will be in a beautiful hill station. This sounds familiar but I have to start with this basic idea. Because later in the story I’ll have to deal with lots of How’s and Where’s etc.

·         Shakespeare the Tree will be an Oak tree and I was always clear about this; a big tree with canopy branches and spiral leaves. Like all the trees, this one too will be warm and welcoming. I feel we all have been friends with a tree or will be in future. Not a single tree in the world needs the help of words to express itself. Their aura is such that if we get close to them we immediately sense the connection. This is what I and Tim believe.

·         Ella disagrees. I never want to fight with my best friend but we sometimes upset each other a lot. Like yesterday she said that the story is too “something” and when I asked her to describe exactly what this “something” is, she said it is risky to write such out of place stories. We are not talking, for now.

·         After two days she messaged me sorry. I did the same. We are back.

[The girl writes a lot about herself and her thoughts.]

·         I am irritated. What was Ma’am thinking when she asked us to empty our minds and hearts and see how the zine list helps us?

[Crux of the story.]

·         Tim and Shakespeare the Tree: it is about a blessed friendship between Tim, a 5th standard kid and an oak tree, who is named Shakespeare the Tree by Tim. He names him so because he is impressed by the grandeur of William Shakespeare when his English teacher talks about the legend in the class. Tim wishes to call the magnificent Tree by a magnificent name. He visits the Tree daily and enjoys talking with the Tree. Tim is astounded by the fact that the Tree offers so much to the surrounding. He decides to be like his friend Shakespeare the Tree when he grows up, to be as helpful as the Tree is. Without giving a thought about the future, he delightfully gets close to the Tree.

*

Tim…happy in the jungle.
[Image from Pixabay]

[She is ready.]

·         Tomorrow morning I’ll submit the story. Fingers crossed!

[Before throwing the writing pad away she writes.]

·         My teacher announced the name of the story that was selected for the competition. It wasn’t mine. Ella cheered me up and we went shopping. She asked me not to take it seriously. I told her that I am fine. We both knew I lied.


[No one told Time that it can stop and rest. And so, the life of the girl who wrote the zine list went on. She became a teacher and her dream to be a writer didn’t come true… life wasn’t the way she had imagined. Ella is still her friend but they are not in touch. Ella is married and lives in a foreign country. That girl is now a lady, who works to earn, to survive.

She is presently in her class. She is talking about writing competition. She encourages all her students to participate. Students burst with questions but she is lost. For a second she enters a reverie. She comes back and asks the class to make a zine list related to their stories. It helps she adds.


She reaches home and drinks tea. She knew she’ll not be at rest until she finds her zine list. She rummages all the racks. She finds it and unfolds it. The thin writing pad was old but half of the pages were blank… half filled.  She reads through the zine list. Then she picks up her pen and writes.]

*

Dry ink, dry words, fresh memories.
[Image from Pixabay]



  ·         I am writing with a ball pen. It doesn’t matter much. All you need is words.

[She rubs her wet eyes.]

·         I am glad that my teacher didn’t choose my story, it wasn’t well-written. My story was too sunny and happy. The title for instance Tim and Shakespeare the Tree…what was I thinking? And the chitchat between little Tim and the Tree…everything was like a dream, it was out of place.

[She looks outside the window.]

·         Life is such a shrewd player that you are bound to lose. I have not lost. I avoid participating. But I’ll write a fair ending to this story here. And let me give a fair opening to it as well. The writer in me is back. Funny me!

·         Tim walked into the jungle. As soon as the voice of all the other campers was absorbed by the colossal forest, he thought of returning. He felt the hushes piercing. He was scared but soon the natural noise sunk in him. He took a deep breath and felt alive. He didn’t realize when the serene madness of the jungle entered within him and brought him in front of a giant oak tree. It was godly. Tim felt as if the branches of the Tree were ready to give him a tight hug. Seeing the gigantic structure Tim took a step back. But in a few minutes, he got hypnotized and sat near the Tree, adoring it and letting it seep inside him. He knew somehow that the Tree was waiting for him for a long time. He had a feeling that he was meeting a very old, dear friend. Tim was staring hard. Then he looked around. Nearby, a stream was playing a sweet melody and Tim started humming. Nature is always at its best. Always perfect. Receiving everyone with an everlasting, undying warmth. Tim didn’t realize it, but soon he fell asleep. The smile on his face made it evident that he was at peace.  

[A sigh!]

·         Why am I not Tim? Why have I never tried to meet my old, dear friend? Life can be so mean if you don’t appreciate it. I find myself empty.  

[She stops writing and looks outside the window again.]

·         I hope the idea of making a zine list will help my students. It’s a crazy class. Boys are busy fighting and shouting and girls love giggling excitedly. I love all of them. And those two girls, they are always together, I have noticed their Best Friend Forever bands.  

[Another Sigh! She adds.]

·         “Tim and Shakespeare the Tree” remains my favourite.    

*

Shakespeare in autumn.
[Image from Pixabay]

                                                                                 

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