The jasmine garland

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The water here reflects ones thoughts they say.. It make a gurgling sound that syncs along with the ringing of the cow bells. Her worn out anklets make some strange music of their own. She sits there ,her feat in the cool stream , looking at the reflection of the trees that the morning sun has brought .Lost in the dreams of childhood all the while idly stringing the jasmine flowers together. The breeze here is rustling the paddy that is soon to be harvested. There is an anticipation that is building up, like the wait for the storm to come, but Anupa seems oblivious, because for her this wait has been too long. She remembers the times when she would swing and dunk into the stream on hot sticky summers with her friends and sister. Her sigh is almost a whisper in the cocoon of her thoughts and trees.
She mentally lists the chores that are yet to be done.

The sun is peaking at the horizon; her mother would have finished her rituals around the courtyard tulsi this morning and would be on her way to the Devi temple on the hillock. She should have been with her today, but akka’s favourite attic hadn’t been cleaned yet .Akka, she would be full of stories from her travels everywhere. Akshaya Akka had always been so excited about those cities she would go to, ever since the days they used to go to school with Sarita and Mangala. She always was the smartest and the funniest. They would hide in the attic, secretly light the lamp so that amma wouldn’t wake up .Then they would dress each other up in the old sarees of their grandmother that were folded and stored .The attic was full of trinkets that have been thrown away. Her favourite was the three legged stool around which she and Akshaya would sit and laugh at all those silly love letters Sridhar would write to her. While Akshaya chose to live her life vicariously through all those fancy books Appa used to get her from the city, Anupa lived her life through the eyes of her Akka. Was she ever envious of her sister? There were times she wished she was more like her, but like amma would say, she was daughter of her father while Akshaya was the son.

The thunderous roar of the bullet that her father drives nearing the stream brings her back from her wandering memories. She runs to her father and hands him the jasmine garland that she was stringing together all the while, “is Akka here yet?” she questions barely able to contain her excitement “no Anupa”…. “is your mother back home? “Her father asks with the annoyed expression he always gives her whenever she asks about Akshaya .His patient tone would disconcert her, appa and amma sometimes treated her like she were crazy .

“I don’t know appa ,she was supposed to be back in half an hour” Anupa says ,a frown forming between her brows ,her brown eyes slightly crestfallen .She wished Akshaya was here already…she had so much to talk and a short weekend trip would never be enough. Her footsteps take her home and she doesn’t know how she got here. Her lapses in this memory no longer disturbed her. She had made peace with it; at least she remembered the important parts of her life. She opens the door and walks into the room which she once shared with her sister. She scans the house in search for her mother; amma sits in the puja room, silently weeping as always. The jasmine flowers she stringed together are on the one photograph that she doesn’t look at anymore. Her mother puts a kumkum on her forehead and weeps,” look Anupa look!…it’s been a year since she’s gone! Gone never to return.”

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