Aahhh…to be rejected me once again! Would she ever forgive me for my bêtise, my impetuous disappearance that day?
I stood there, transfixed. Stunned at the horrific sight.
They were melting away in front of me…my little babies. I lunged forward, trying to scoop them up in my arms but it was in vain. They slipped through my fingers like burnt sand.
My beautiful children…both of them gone in a trice. All because of my idiocy.
I slumped on the floor, stupefied. They were so young and small. How could their life be snuffed out so soon. Damn! Why did I give in to the temptation and drink myself senseless?
If only I could turn the clock back…
Chandni had warned me to not go too near the children.
But taking instructions from a mere woman is not in my genes. I am a man. Men are born to rule. They’re not to be dictated by witless women. What do they know about the world?
While leaving for the day, she kept issuing instructions; the do’s and don’ts, you know. Remind the kids to eat their lunch and take a nap. Watch over them but from a distance. I kept nodding my head, paying scant attention. She knew that absent minded look on my face quite well and chided me, ‘Aditya, are you listening?’
‘Aye aye, Captain! Learnt everything by heart.’ It’s good to keep the lady of the house in good humor.
My plans were set. Varun and Sameer had called a while ago. It had been long since we met. And a few hours away from home never hurts anyone, does it? I would be back home before the kids woke up. Chandni wouldn’t even know about my absence.
The party was stupendous. It had been eons since we had some guys’ time out. Varun had us in splits with his wisecracks. Aaarghh…how much I needed it. Countless shots were downed one after the other. A couple of hours later, we bid goodbye, on a high note.
Time to rush home.
Awww…the little brats looked so cute when asleep. Love you to the moon and back, kiddos. I sang gaily. Time to wake up, darlings.
They turned and tossed but refused to open their eyes. A round of tickling would do the trick, I knew. They loved it when Chandni embraced and caressed them.
I tumbled forward. I needed a hug too.
Mommaaa…Still half asleep, they yelped as a gust of intense heat hit them. Before the impact of my nearness to them could alert my inebriated mind and I could retract my steps…my children disintegrated. Within seconds.
How would I explain my asininity to Chandni? No words could ever provide solace to the devastated mother whose children had perished due to the carelessness of their father. Curse be on me!
She would be back soon. Was I prepared to face her wrath, her wails?
Dreading the inevitable war of words, I vanished.
Within minutes, everything started wobbling, tumbling, rattling. Darkness descended sooner than dusk. Birds squeaked in consternation at the chaos. As a thick mist enveloped everything and temperature dipped, the terrified animals rushed back to their pens and burrows. Humans scurried around in search of safer hideouts. A strange cacophony had rendered even the usually reticent sky in turmoil.
I heard Sameer, Varun, Bhumi, Akash and Shuchi calling out to me in desperation. Even the elements of nature were bewildered at my sudden invisibility.
For a moment, I gloated in self-importance.
Huh! Chandni didn’t realize how crucial I am for the existence and survival of this universe. She would fight with me ceaselessly but she didn’t know that she was nothing without me. Left to herself, she couldn’t survive even for a moment.
Damn you, Aditya! Even at such a terrible moment you’re thinking about yourself…how vain and narcissistic you are! I glowered at myself.
Could I let the universe be wrecked for my egomania? Could I ignore my responsibilities once again? I had failed my children but could I fail the millions of others who trusted me for their existence and survival?
The dilemma rose with each passing moment. I knew what catastrophe was going to befall the universe if I didn’t return soon. I needed to shake myself out of the disoriented state and return before everyone broke out of their meticulously created orbits.
Slowly I came back to form, bracing myself for the furious tears and questions of Chandni. The consequences of my recklessness had to be borne. But I knew how to placate her. She would forgive me as always. My love had that effect on her.
As I crept back home, a sense of sanity appeared to be returning around me. The wobbling and gusts of chilly winds had probably been accepted as an aberration though some people were seemingly still shaken.
I shrugged. The agonized eyes of my children, as they burnt to ashes, still haunted me.
Chandni was sitting outside the home. Pale faced, she stared at the fragmented remains of her children. I touched her shoulder, gingerly. She flinched.
My explanations, pleadings…nothing could calm the maelstrom of emotions in her raging eyes. I endured the barrage of accusations with equanimity and begged forgiveness but when she hit me with a stick, I lost my tether too. Why couldn’t the loony woman understand that it was an accident? Enraged, I threw handfuls of sand in her face.
That put an end to her diatribe. And our relationship.
It hurts to this day. But no amount of pain can waiver my focus. The learning is perdurable. Even one moment’s lapse in duty can wreck my universe. Literally.
Since that day, Sun has been chasing Moon, trying to woo her back but she keeps rejecting him resolutely.
The stars look on with hope. One day, their mother may forgive their father.
Following are the five elements of nature.
Sameer: Hawa, Air
Varun: Jal, Water
Bhumi: Prithvi, Earth
Akash: Aasmaan, Sky
Shuchi: Agni, Fire
Inspiration from a Filipino folktale.
Information from this article.
Photo By: Bailey Littlejohn
When was the last time you read some modern sea stories—stories of ships and the seafarers who man them? Tales of adventure, love, romance, piracy, intrigue... and human nature? Well, look no further.
These are twelve stories of the sea, but not necessarily for seafarers alone. They are for anybody and everybody who likes to read fiction. And a ripping good yarn, as sailors used to say once upon a time.
Written by a sea captain who has spent his entire adult life at sea, more than forty years on the waves and still counting, these are stories set in the 70s, 80s up till the present day.
Will you come aboard now? The voyage is about to begin.
Link to buy this book: https://www.amazon.in/Driftwood-Beetashok-Chatterjee/dp/9385854771 and also at selected bookstores all over India.
Author:Beetashok Chatterjee, ex-Claws Club member at ArtoonsInn.
The story you've read is an entry for UniK-5, #Invisible, a room8 Writing event by ArtoonsInn.
Check the event guidelines here: https://artoonsinn.com/unik-5-writing-event-artoonsinn/