Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Circle of Life - A short story.

This story of mine was placed third in a company-wide short-storywriting competition.

The Circle of Life

She banged the door shut, locked it and walked out. He was not there to hear her, but she felt strangely satisfied by the loud noise of the banging door. She fingered her new string of pearls as she walked to work. He was so preoccupied that he had not even noticed her wearing the pearls that he had gifted her. He had been curt, to the point. She had no idea what was bothering him. Had she irritated him, or was it work? What is with these men, she wondered. Why don't they speak out?

The sky was as dark as her mood. The clouds opened up and so did her umbrella. A little boy in his uniform was running past her. He was getting wet. She automatically pulled him under her umbrella. He looked up at her, with urgent eyes. “My bus!” he said, pointing. A big yellow bus was pulling slowly out of the bus stop on the other side of the road. In one sweeping movement, she picked up the little boy, crossed the road, ran after the bus, and banged on the side of the bus. It stopped. She deposited the boy on the steps, and closed the door. As the bus moved away, she saw the boy’s nose pressed against the glass. He was smiling a most angelic smile, and was waving at her. She waved back, and suddenly her heart felt light. She resumed walking with a smile on her face.

*****

The little boy sat at his usual window seat. At the next stop, a senior student got on the bus, and with a frown on her face, looked around and sat next to him. He ventured a “Good morning!” to her. She looked away with a snort. Undaunted, he took out his drawing book and opened the page to his favorite drawing of a clown. He poked and prodded the girl next to him until she looked at him, ready to snap. She then looked at the book the boy was holding out, and burst into laughter. She pinched the boy’s cheeks, ruffled his hair and gave the book back to him. She leaned back on the seat.

*****

As soon as the bus reached school, she got down from the bus and went to her class, hoping that the class bully did not make fun of her braces again. She had gone ready with her own comments against him. But even when she saw him, she felt no antagonism against him. She had no idea why. She found herself smiling and saying, “Hi! Did you finish your homework?” and left him there, mouth agape.

*****

Nobody had ever smiled at him before, let alone ask a polite question. He felt good. He felt strange. He went through the day, dazed, and was even polite to the teachers. In the lunch break, he went out to eat his lunch all by himself, as usual. The gardener came by, watering his bushes. He carefully kept out of the boy’s way. The boy suddenly wanted someone to speak to. “Ahoy!” he shouted at the gardener. The gardener peered at him suspiciously through the corner of his eyes. “Here! Taste this Pulao! Its delicious!” The gardener walked up slowly and held out his hand, and the boy piled a couple of spoonfuls on his dirty palm. “It is delicious! Please tell your mother”, he said. “I will!” said the boy. “And by the way, my mother thinks that the school garden is the prettiest one she has ever seen!” The gardener smiled a wide, toothless smile.

*****

He walked away, smiling to himself, deep in thought. So there are people who appreciate good things, after all! He thought that nobody, except his daughter, thought that his beloved garden was beautiful. His daughter! The poor girl. She does so much for me; I never do anything for her. I should take something for her on the way home. He stopped at a sweet shop and bought a couple of her favorite laddus. He entered his little house to see his daughter stirring the dal on the stove. “Come and sit down. I will serve lunch in a moment!” she called out. He touched her shoulder, and she turned around. He handed her the packet. She opened it curiously. Tears stung her eyes. How she loved laddus! She ate one, and offered one to her father. Both of them sat, side by side, silently eating the sweet, savoring the moment. Suddenly with a horrified look she jumped up. “The dal!” she cried.

*****

The dal was slightly overdone, but neither of them cared. As they ate, she smiled to herself. Father is such a dear. He is so forgetful, always obsessed with his garden. But he does care for me after all! Humming a popular Bollywood tune, she cleared the plates. She took them out to wash them at the common tap in the locality. The boy who lived on the next street walked past, looking at her furtively. They said he was a nice boy and that he worked as an odd-job man in a good company. Everybody knew that he liked her, and that he was summoning up enough courage to talk to her old father. She kind of liked him too, but she never acknowledged his presence. Today she looked at him. He immediately averted his eyes, but slowly looked back at her again. She smiled.

*****

His heart turned somersaults. She had never even looked at him before, and today she smiled at him! Her dimpled cheeks, the sunlight on her hair – she looked divine. I will surely talk to the gardener this Saturday, he thought and smiled. His lunch break was coming to a close, else maybe he would have gone and talked to her. He hurried back. Sir would be waiting. He peeped in into Sir’s office. He was rubbing his temples. Maybe Sir has a headache. Sir wasn’t well and hasn’t been in office all these days. And so much work. I’ll make him some good ginger tea. The boy whistled as he made the tea, and took it to Sir’s office. He had never disturbed Sir like this before, but today he was too happy to care about what Sir would say. As he entered with the tea, Sir looked up absently. He took the tea and sipped it. “Its good to have you back, Sir” said the boy. Sir just smiled and waved him away.

*****

The tea was refreshing. He felt much better. His mind cleared. He smiled as his fingers tapped the keys with a new urgency. He found a proposal that had to be dealt with at the earliest. Twenty minutes later, he nodded with satisfaction, glanced through the proposal one last time, typed out the email and clicked on send.

*****

“You’ve got a new message. Do you want to open it now?” asked the pop-up box on the young man’s screen. But he did not see it. He was sitting at his desk, brooding, playing with a paper clip. He was so sure that his proposal would be accepted and that his company would get the contract. But when? He had sent in his proposal almost a week ago. Still no response. He was to submit his appraisal form for promotion today. If the acceptance mail came in today, he could include it as one of his achievements. It would really boost his performance records, as this contract was a big one for the company. Of course, he could always mention it in the next appraisal, but that was months away. He fretted. It’s just an email! He had checked his inbox for new mail countless times since morning. Mechanically he turned back to the monitor. He saw the pop-up box. His heart skipped a beat. He hurriedly clicked on “Yes”. A cursory glance confirmed that it was what he hoped it would be. His heart beat like a rock concert, and a smile spread across his face. He quickly forwarded the mail to his seniors, and went to tell his boss about it personally. He came back and added this achievement to his appraisal form. He then saved and submitted it, and relaxed in his chair.

He thought about his wife. He couldn’t wait to tell her. He looked at his watch. He could go and pick her up from work and surprise her. He left immediately, drove to her office, and persuaded her to leave early. She came out of her office, smiling, and got into the car. “What’s all this about?” She asked. “You’ll see”, he winked, “Where do you want to go?” “Anywhere”, she said. “Ok”, he said, “And dear, those pearls look beautiful on you.”

36 comments:

meera said...

Wow! That was simply amazing. A friend of mine recommended your blog to me. I am really thankful to her. Please keep posting so that others can keep marking it as the highlight of their day.

Khushi said...

hey,
that was damn sweet :)
I was actually expecting some ending like this :)

Shruthi said...

@Meera: Wowowow.. thank you.. what a compliment! :) And who's your friend? ;)

@Khushi: Thank you ;)

chitra said...

hey shruthi,

Amazing! It was like watching a short story. I meant , this piece is so fabulously written that i forgot i was reading , started visualising the story.
Bunch of amazing thoughts. Lots of positivity. Very well done. Wish to read more :)

Swathi said...

beautiful, loved the story n somehow reminded me of tat cute french movie 'Amelie'

Manasi said...

Congratualtions! That story does deserve a prize :)
Its nice because you can easily relate to it, as somewhere each one of us has had similar experiences and though we may not realise then that'that' one smile has come full circle to us again, it sure does make our day!

shammi said...

What goes around comes around... what a nice way to illustrate that! Very nice story, Shruthi!

Anonymous said...

Very nice story, simple, straight and brings a smile. Just a comment, nothing to take away from your effort but I feel I had seen an ad very similar to this on TV a cpl of years back in India. Not sure if it was an ad for a cellular service or smthg.
But still well written and very nice

Kishore

Sri Harsha said...

Cooooool!!!!!!!!!

Shruthi said...

@Chitra: Thank you :) That's a very nice compliment :)

@Swathi: Thank you! :) Haven't seen Amelie, though :(

@Manasi: That's so true! Wish we had the big picture, so that we could feel happier, knowing that our smile or action has made a difference! Thanks!

Shruthi said...

@Shammi, Harsha: thanks!

@Kishore: Thanks! Don't remember seeing that ad, though! Someone else told me that she has read an essay on similar lines... not too surprised, actually... in fact, after I wrote it, I did think that this was the kind of theme which must have been dealt with in other ways before.

silverine said...

Amazingly well written story!!!

Came here via another blog:)

Bhupi said...

i read first line...then scrolled down....and was wondering HOW can you have patience of writing so much.....phew!!!!

Shruthi said...

@Silverine: Thank you! :)

@Bhupi: For that, you should have the love for language... it's not about patience at all!

Supremus said...

BRILLIANT!

Thats just about how I would sum this story - very warm, very pleasant and ultimately a very rich story!! Beautifuclly written shruti - you should seriously consider writing as a career now!

Keep writing such stuff....

Suyog

Bhupi said...

Since u wrote it i had to read :(

AWSOMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE...thats all i can say.

Except the first scene where the woman meets the child every is well connected. Why, bcoz thats absolutely coincidental that it was raining and the boy was running beside her to catch his school bus. Just my thought :) but still its great....

Shruthi said...

@Suyog: Hey thank you so much :)
Writer? Ha ha... lets see about that :)

@Bhupi: Wow I am honoured that you had the patience to read it ;P .... thanks :)

Anonymous said...

u truly deserved the prize shruthi. and i must say, all ur blogs are extremely well-written. it was heartening to note how an endearing smile can lift ur sagging spirits. keep up the gud work!!!!

Anonymous said...

that was a real cute story. very nice!
ano

asterix said...

Excellent work, reminded me of a short story by Jeffrey Archer on the same lines... Liked it a lot

Shruthi said...

@Anon: Thanks so much :) Though I wish you would leave your name ;)

@Ano: Thank you!

@Asterix: Thank you! :)
A short story by Jeffrey Archer? Which one? Under which collection?

keerthi said...

Cool Yo ! Good one..

Could you help ?

asterix said...

The short story by Archer was "The Grass is Greener" from his collection To Cut a Long Story Short , check that out :)

Shruthi said...

@Keerthi: Thank you! Pls chk ur blog for my comments :)

@Asterix: Oh, thanks... will check it out :)

Full2 Faltu said...

Thats a good one

If you haven't seen "Crash", see it, Reminded me of Crash

Keep it up

Punds

Amita said...

It was very refreshing ! Keep it up.

Shruthi said...

@Full3Faltu: Crash? Will check it out!

@Sapna: Thanks! :)

shub said...

beautiful:)

Jay said...

WOW! :-)! Nice one!

Good deeds are like Bommerangs ?

Shruthi said...

@Shub : Thank you :)

@Jay: Indeed they are :) If only we could see the path in which it comes back to us ;))

Viky said...

What an awesome way to illustrate the concept of 'paying it forward', instead of paying it back.

Totally deserves recognition. Congratulations.

veena shivanna said...

Somehow those best sellers Fiction never gathers my attention, I tried long back & lost ..
This sounds like a beautiful one.. ! Nice narration Prof...

I see there are so much of jumping emotions everywhere, those gardener & daughter piece was very touchy, Its more easier to relate that way!!

Anonymous said...

hey,


very very nice.Enjoyed the story.

parijata said...

I have only one thing to say, a big WOW!
Reminds me of Volkswagen Bug's advertisement on TV.
Great writing!

Anonymous said...

Hi Shruti, I came across your blog y'day and since then have been hooked to it!! You write very well. I liked everything I have read so far.

Divya said...

Came across your blog through a number of links, and checked out the fiction bit first. Awesome story this was! Was smiling the whole time while reading it :)

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