Flight of a dragonfly

Written by : Abhisek Pattnaik
image Courtesy : Shutterstock.com

Chiku never liked his afternoon naps. But Lakshmi, his mother, made sure that he doesn’t leave his bed after lunch. She had her own reasons for this of course. After a toil with household chores that stretches from taking shower and fetching water from the village tube-well before the sun rises to eating lunch after everyone else is taken care of; she deserved a good long sound nap after lunch. But if Chiku is up playing, she of course can’t even have this small luxury in her life. Hence, she made sure that Chiku also sleeps post his lunch, making it a routine for him. But Chiku always managed to sneak past her despite her regular warnings. Usually the signal to leave the bed comes in the form of light snores from Lakshmi. He loved spending time playing with his ball or car or doing something fidgety or simply he would search the shelves in the TV room to find any piece of metal or plastic good enough to give flight to his imaginations.

This was like any other day. After the light snores started coming from Lakshmi, Chiku snuck out of the bedroom and started looking for his ball. He had persuaded Lakshmi last month to buy it from the ‘harek mal bhaiya’ (the man who visits each house in the village with his little mobile shop on his cycle) while Lakshmi was buying some ‘bindis’ for herself.
“Maybe Maa hid it somewhere”, he thought.
Then he looked up for his car and failed to find that either he thought of venturing into the top shelf of the TV room. He climbed up on the armrest of the chair next to the shelves and stepped on the lowermost shelf. His eyes hardly went above it. Hanging from it with one hand he let the other explore the shelf with hope to find something interesting. Last time he had found the cap of a coconut oil bottle that had helped him make cylindrical clay moulds from it. A few disused keys, unattended papers and some dusted old books later, his hand met something made of plastic with blades. He drew it out.
It was sheer joy for him. He stood astounded in disbelief for what he had found was a “dragonfly helicopter flying toy!” The same one that he thought to have lost last winter. He straight went running to the photo of Lord Shiva, that was  hanging from the wall and kneeled before it for this gracious surprise. He got up keeping his prayer fast and short; too excited to make the dragonfly fly. Holding it between both his palms, he gave it the hardest churn that his little hands allowed him.
“Shoosh….” And it flew, in a grandest of style possible; almost reaching the wooden ceiling of their mud house. Chiku dived to not let it touch the ground.
“Touchdown means game over”, the game he just invented.
Flights after flights, the dragonfly flew and Chiku was acing the game.
“Maybe they should introduce this game in the Olympics. I can certainly bring a medal for India then.” He let his mind run its course of imagination before the clock in the room rang.
“Tong, tong….” It rang four times! “How come it is four already!”
It was time for Lakshmi to leave her nap. He crept back to his bed next to Lakshmi with his prized possession. Lakshmi was yet to wake up. He covered himself up with a bed-sheet and kept the dragonfly in front of his eyes inside his little tent; slowly falling asleep with a smile on his face.

Brewing Romance

Pic Courtesy : https://stock.adobe.com/
Written by : Abhisek Pattnaik

“Mari Mari Kothaga Ni Jatha..”
The song played in the background as it drizzled outside. I didn’t understand Telegu but somehow this one was making perfect sense to me. There are certain songs that remain with you forever. Isn’t it? I had heard this song for the first time when I was in her room to help her move certain items. She was my friend’s girlfriend. And I fell for her like a dried leave; having no option but to fall. And when you are in Love, it makes you do stupid things. Isn’t it? Guess, now that I look back I won’t be able to assess, which one happened first. The falling in love or the stupidity that allowed me to fall.

“Knock, knock”.

I opened the door to the surprise of her presence there. The very sight of her was keeping me content those days. And there she was in her orange salwar. She must have taken a shower, as only her long hair seemed recently towel dried. Her dark circles were somehow making her Irish Brown eyes even more beautiful.

She smiled looking at my speaker bar that was playing the song; maybe acknowledging my fondness for her without saying a word.
“Tea”, she asked.
We shared the same building only separated by a single floor. We had become good friends by now to seek each other’s company for tea. Five minutes into it, we were sitting on the balcony with the speaker by our side; a cup of tea in our hands to witness the dusky sky grew darker as the evening skies of Kolkata continue to drizzle.

“I didn’t know, you like this song as well”, she said allowing herself an idiosyncratic chuckle.
I couldn’t muster enough courage to look into her eyes. So instead I continued to look into my cup of tea and said “Even I found it out very recently “.

She didn’t say anything nor did I. We simply sat there enjoying each other’s presence. Guess, nothing explicit was ever meant to be said. Love can be many things for many people; each having their own idea for it. But, for me that was it. An evening with her on my balcony as it continued to play…

Mari Mari Kothaga Ni Jatha..

An Usual Morning

Image Copyright : Sushree Satapathy
Written by : Abhisek Pattnaik

It rained cats and dogs last night; the first shower of the season. I woke up to the cool morning breeze that was making its way through the window. The rain had washed off the dusts of the summer, making everything more colorful again.

Rain always manages to summon the artist in me; maybe it also manages to wash away the dust of my daily life. And what better artists enjoy than solitude. High on the freshness of air that had a scent of rain in it, I went out to the terrace, welcomed by the symphony of chirping birds and sat by the table on the rooftop, that my landlady had discarded; with a cup of tea and a lit cigarette to accompany me.

A flock of pigeons on the building across the road were taking their baths, in the water pool collected on the rooftop from last night’s shower; while a conspicuously large pigeon sat on the half done, unattended parapet wall, watching over them; giving an impression as if he was in charge of oversight for this flock of pigeons to take proper baths.It brought me a smile, bringing me back memories of my childhood days; memories of my boarding school, the morning PT classes and our beloved PT teacher.

I was in Navodaya and those of you who are not aware of it, it’s a chain of Government sponsored boarding schools in India. We had our days meticulously divided, from morning till night; Sundays used to be an exception of course. And our days would start with the PT classes that I absolutely loathed. As an avid sleeper, I understood from childhood the beauty of sleeping in the morning hours, which the PT classes weren’t allowing me to have anymore. But, having given the option of attending morning PT verses caning from my PT teacher, I had opted for sacrificing my morning sleep most of the time. The morning yoga classes, the occasional tracking to nearby hills, the preparatory days before cluster meets for sports events that allowed us to play instead of the regular drills and our occasional intermittently successful attempts to escape from the drills after the attendance: it all came flushing in.

“Wouldn’t I absolutely love to relive those days. Maybe a single day to wake up in those bunker beds to the siren of morning PT; reserving taps with our towels for baths; standing in cues for breakfast; a fake fainting act to skip the morning assembly if it’s too sunny; stealing a glance from my childhood crush…. Oh! The list is just endless.”

My tea was over by now. So were the ceremonial baths of that flock of pigeons. Taking a smile on my face I came back to my room of routines. “Time for some dose of reality now.”

INCEPTION

Written by : Abhisek Pattnaik

My smart wearable woke me up at 5:30 in the morning. It’s been years since I have been waking up at this exact same time. Sometimes in perfect synchronization with my alarm: confused whether it woke me up or is it the other way around. The date in my watch said 21/09/2081. The interactive AI on my wall showed me the notification column as soon as I got up from my bed.
“Hello, Mr. Pattnaik. Here are your morning highlights.”
One among it, in particular caught my attention. It’s the last day for print media, as the only surviving newspaper “Bharti Daily” is being shut down. The private players had already left this loss-making business a long time ago and the Government has also finally decided to let it go.
“Who could have thought the days would see so many rapid changes?”, I thought, lost in the memories of my younger years.
I did my chores and left for the Lorey Lane where the Government was holding the virtual exhibitions, as a memoir for ‘Bharti Daily’, like in most of the cities of India. The place was crowded with mostly people of my age; only a few left of that generation who still loved ink on paper than the Kindles. The exhibition showcased Newspapers framed in glass(virtual) from over the years.
While taking a tour through it, I stopped at 2020. The headline in the paper said, ” The spectre of a post Covid-19 world”.
I touched the sync button and my AI asked, “Do you want me to read the full article or just the gist of it?”
“Just the gist, please.”, I said while memories of my past came rushing in. I was among the lucky ones to have survived this pandemic; both during and after. The original Covid-19 after plateauing for a while, fast evolved into SARS 3.0 with an unprecedented mortality rate. First half of the toll came from the virus and the next half, from the depression in the economy coupled with an widespread ‘epidemic of despair’ where many killed themselves voluntarily.The voice of my AI brought me back to the present.
“The author L K Reddy has tried to assess the post Covid-19 scenario from various perspectives; economic, political, social, environmental….”, it continued. I gave a smirk thinking no-one could assess the unfolding of Covid-19 back then. Suddenly, I started hearing this loud noise. My visible world started crumpling, only to be rearranged where I was thrown on my bed, waking me up from my dream. My heartbeat was rushing like a machine gun and my pillow was wet with my sweat. Hurriedly, I looked into the paper calendar hung over the wall and it said 19 November, 2019.

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