I was invited by Mark McBradley, (I forget what he was known as on xanga), to join the group. I think by now you have guessed that I enjoy writing and reading. SO, I agreed and to the prompts given by another xangan, I wrote this piece of fiction.
The prompts today, were Key/Keys; (Light and dark and Portals and Time were extra bonus prompts.) Here is my offering.
The prompts are key/keys, Portals and time, light and dark.
She saw Raju again yesterday, drawing water from the well near the rice fields. His brown skin shining with sweat, and the muscles rippling as he pulled the bucket of water from the depth of the well. Just as he was splashing the water on his face he had looked up, and seen her. For just an instant he smiled, or did he? He had to have smiled, why else did her heart lurch in her chest?
She closed her eyes, and tried to visualize that moment. Bright and blinding sunlight was playing hide and seek between the broad leaves of the Banyan tree, tiny points of warmth all along her face, and suddenly the smile was gone, before she could realize that he had smiled at her.
They grew up in the same area, and played in the courtyard of her home; she, her brothers and all the kids from the village. But as the time of childhood turned into that of a more reserved and untouchable factor between the daughter of the homestead and the domestic help, she found herself wanting to be by his side. She wanted him to search for her in the different corners of the garden where light and dark shadows filtered through the eaves, just like he had done when they were little kids.
But she grew up. More quickly than he did. She was made to wear saris, and not step out of the grand portals of the mansion. He had come several times to the gates and called for her, but his father, the gardener, had sent him away to the fields, to work along with other young boys. And just like that he got busy with the life in the village across the canal and the fields, and came over to the mansion only on days of festivals, or if there was a dance celebrating the harvest season. She would sit with her brothers and parents and watch the dances of the servants and the field workers….throwing color at each other, some old Bollywood music playing on the old gramophone. She wanted to get up and dance with him. Her feet would tap on the ground, the tiny silver bells in her anklets keeping time, her hands gripping the sides of her chair, ready to spring up. But the stern looks from her parents made sure that she melted into the rattan of the seat.
One night she heard her father talking to her mother. “We should get her hitched. Then we can send her away to the city, where she can live like a lady of the house, and not be like a horny tramp, ogling at young men.”
“Oh don’t say that! She loves this village. She has spent her childhood in these portals, and time writes everything. She knows these men and women of her childhood.” Mother said. “She will be heartbroken if she is sent away. You think she will survive in a city?” Her mother tried to defend her.
“Cities depend on the villages. Without our rice and wheat and tamarind and lentils, they are nothing. Our cotton builds their strength. Our villages hold the keys to the cities! She will get used to the city life and forget all about the village. I do not care for the way she looks at Raju.”
Her father the land lord, had spoken. The line was drawn in the sand. She couldn’t cross it, even though she knew that she would feel like a princess if only she could cross the canal and the rice fields and go live in Raju’s hut in his village.
Copy right: Zakiah Sayeed.