Tag Archives: melancholy

Is this my life?

Note: This piece is part of Creative Writing series.

I am walking on a lonely road. The road is not dark. It is illuminated by the yellow lamps of the shops on the side. It is populated by people walking beside me, ahead of me, people on the other side. I do not know any of them. I do not speak most of their language.

I live in a solitary room. The walls are far away from each other. From the window, I hear rain fall on leaves of trees. I can hear crows caw if I wake up from a nightmare in the morning. I live on my own. I do not speak. I watch my life unfold in text messages, social media posts. I do not really do anything – I do not take decisions. I feel confused: at what point in life do you intervene the river of life and try to course it to the tune of your free will? At what point do you take charge?

Life is passing by. I fight my poor posture, keep straightening my back which invariably slumps back to a more comfortable but potentially harmful position. My teeth ache from time to time, I keep postponing the visit to the dentist. I think under my bed the plastic bowl of food is still lying. I did not cook today. I do not feel like it. I eat junk knowing fully well that is not what I should be doing.

Days are passing by. The love I care about flit through my grasp. I look at his picture on my phone, knowing well that it is futile. We are not meant for each other. Yet, sometimes, most times, in fact, every day, I lie in my bed, hoping for miracles to happen, while somehow being fully aware that the odds are steeped against me. In fact, there has never been the promise of a relationship.

I am at a fork in my life, slouching through it. On my morning walks, I meet the squirrels on the boundary of my apartment. I do not have any relationship with them. I want to Google what squirrels eat, but I do not know if they will come near me even if I take them food they like to eat. I do not wish to take chances. Somehow, I do not want to influence anything. Somehow, I just want to let life run its course, and watch it like a passive audience.

Is this my life? Or is this the shadow of someone else’s life that I am living?

The God of Small Things – Initial Thoughts

While we are in training at office, every instructor starts by asking, “What are your expectations from this session?” Most of the time the answer is: We came with an open mind.

When I ordered The God of Small Things via Kwench, I did so with an open mind. I did not know what the book was about. I did not even read the book extract. I had heard the name of the book often and that it was famous. “So, let’s read it!” That was the thought.

Since I had no prior information as to the narrative and structure of this book, it caught me off guard. The adjectives are creative and new, certain non-noun words italicized. It felt like poetry. With the first chapter, I felt I had been forced inside the private life of a family, without even getting to know the family-members first. By the first chapter we know bad things have happened. The following chapters build on to that bad thing that happened.

The capitalization jagged my reading – I saw no sense in it. Eventually, I Googled the reason. Turns out the story is told through the limited point of view of a young girl. After I figured that out, the voice in the story felt much more natural.

When you read this book you realize that the young twins through whom this story is told are very sensitive to the visuals, smells and emotions around them. That’s why the adjectives hit you so hard. That said, I wondered if it is not beyond the a young mind to be so perceiving of the world around them, especially in such poignant details. Was the author trying too hard?

The God of Small Things is definitely one of those books which make you choose sides: you either like it or you don’t. That’s why it has got both one star and five star reviews. If you’re someone who likes experimental writing, disjointed narrative with jumping time-frame, totally uncommon adjectives to describe normal, commonplace events and emotions, you can’t help but fall in love with Roy’s masterpiece.

If you’re into reading to take your mind off things, relax yourself, get yourself a different book. This book has the potential to knock you off the edge and leave you hanging, disturbed and with a book-shaped hole in the universe of your mind.

Tear Bubbles

Her silent tears

Fell on a cold blanket.

The shivers within were mutely contained

The soothing hand that was no more present

Loomed in the yellow shadow of a glass window

Ever present, ever elusive

Flimsy, broken, continuous

Like her endless tear-bubbles.

Copyright © 2015 Arpita Pramanick

On growing up, education, personal finance and nostalgia

Yesterday, I woke up in the afternoon to a clouded sky. It had rained heavily few hours ago. I live in the first floor of a flat building that is part of a continuous row of identical flat buildings. facing our row of buildings there is another identical row and behind ours another and so on. Most of these buildings have been painted a long time ago and are now blackish. During cloudy days, these buildings appear like specters of a dystopian world – sad, isolated hollow accommodations with no hope or smile.

Housed inside this dystopian exterior, however, there is a different story. Each of the flats has two rooms, a kitchen, bathrooms and a balcony for those who live on first floors. For a family of grown people, it is rather small. But it feels like only yesterday when the house was so big for my brother and me. Growing up, we never complained of lack of space.

This table where I am typing out on my laptop was only four years ago piled with scores of books. I was in my final year of school, preparing for school-end and college entrance examinations. I had a hectic schedule. If there is hell, it is those two final years of school for me. I was studying physics, chemistry, mathematics, computer, English and Bengali and there were just so many textbooks and reference books that if I were made to stand beside the pile, I would soon be dwarfed. I slept little and complained much. I was continuously irritated and shouted at everyone. I had no time for myself, let alone anyone else.

In college, I moved out of my home. The first two years were miserable. I hated the place I stayed in. One of the walls of my room was plywood and it carried over the noise that my housemates made. I shared the tiny square room with two others and would wake up in sweats in the summer – it felt that the fan was miles away from me. Even in the daytime, we had to keep the light on. The food was gross too, but that I adjusted with, eventually. Not a day passed when I wanted college life to end as soon as possible, so that I could finally earn and live in a better place.

The last two years were comparatively better. I moved to another accommodation which was a lot airy and well-lit. Most of the boarders were working girls, and after a busy period in the mornings, the house would fall strangely silent. Of course no place is without its problems, and I had my share of pathetic experiences there as well, but I lived better there.

Life at college improved too. I met a great teacher who inspired me to do new things. I guess the learning curve was steeper towards the final semesters in college that the first four.

When I left the Kolkata, the city of my college, and returned home on the last day of June 2015, I was worried if I would miss the independence that I enjoy while living alone. But as much as I prized my freedom, I loved to spend time with family because I was soon to realize that the time with my family was going to end soon. Soon, I would be shifting to another part of the country and would probably visit my parents once in six months. There would be no eating together as a family and no endless soul-baring chats with my mother. The worst part is my family would be sadder than me when I leave.

My parents were never that successful with their finances. My grandparents were first generation immigrants from Bangladesh and could not provide well for their eight children. My father and his siblings did not receive proper education or food or clothes. By the time my father started his own family, he inherited nothing except few antiquated copper utensils. My grandparents lived with us until they died. Both of them were bedridden for about one year each before death. It was a huge strain on my father’s finances – my mother tells me now that at that point of time, our shop had literally become empty – they was no money to buy goods to sell. What a difficult time it must have been for my parents – to take care of my ailing grandparents and my brother and me.

The good thing about being educated is that you have more control over your finances. When you are well-educated you make smart investments, take informed financial decisions. My father provided for my living costs while I was in Kolkata, but he couldn’t make enough to cover my tuition fees. Whatever savings he had made went towards my admission. I took a loan which has now surmounted to an obscene amount with interest. Ever since my first year of college, I have felt perpetually weighed down with the burden of student loan – I worried when finally would I be able to pay it back.

As I start my career, I think of the same thing. Thankfully, I am more aware of my finances than my father. I do all my banking work myself – something I was fearful of when I started college.

Every year more and more millennials are moving out, flying to different parts of the country or different countries, altogether. When I look back now, I see the child version of myself hating every moment of childhood and wanting to grow up. Now, I am grown up and no matter how much I wish to squeeze Time in my hand to make the moments with my family longer, the days end. So do months. And soon, it will be October and I will move to another part of the country, to officially start my career.

I wish I never grew up!

Choices – A Short Story

I am immensely delighted to inform you all that one of my short stories, I am Mala, has been accepted for publication in the eFiction magazine (Yay, looks like my endeavors are starting to pay off!). It will come out on 1st May, 2015. I am Mala is the story of a young Indian woman named Mala who becomes a victim of the dogmatic caste system. The eFiction magazine is available on Amazon as a Kindle ebook. Do buy your copy! I am so excited to hear your feedback about my story!

Meanwhile, here’s another story from me for you to enjoy this week!


Smita lay on her bed, feeling the rough bed-sheet irritate the inner side of her left calf. She rested her right leg on the wall, trying to absorb its cool in her skin. Moisture seeped through the pores on her brown skin. Even though the fan whirred above her dutifully, it was hot. Typical Indian evenings.

Smita counted the days on the brown lines of her fingers. Starting from the little finger on her right hand she stopped in the middle of her index finger. Fourteen days more. Just two weeks.

The fluorescent lamp in the room was switched off. However, plenty of light came through the window to illuminate the book shelf on the opposite wall, two feet from her bed. Books that she has been accumulating through the years stood next to each other on the shelf. Some of them had tattered spines, the ones she had bought from the old book stores.

Two weeks and a new life. A new city, far away from the comfort of familiar walls, far away from this hot, sweaty bed.

Her parents were both out this evening, working their asses off in the store where they sold little electrical gadgets. Her father was a part-time electrician. For years, he visited the clients’ places repairing their wiring system or replacing their fans and tube-lights. In the last few months, however, he complained of weak vision in both eyes. Her mother started frequenting the shop then, to help him out. They couldn’t afford someone to help at the shop. They did not make enough money for that.

Four years back Smita had wanted to become an engineer. She was good at physics and mathematics. However, her joint entrance rank for engineering did not allow for a seat in any government college. She did not have the magic certificate that declared her as a scheduled caste.

Privately-funded colleges were expensive. Her parents sat her down and said, “Please don’t worry about the money, dear. We will manage. We’ll take a loan or something. Do not cut back on your dreams.”

Smita argued, “No, Baba. I love mathematics. I could go for a B.Sc.”

The next day, her father had taken her to her higher secondary school. He wanted her to talk to her chemistry professor. The professor was a short woman who wore circular specs on the ridge of her nose.

“Smita, come in!” Her teacher called her to the staff room.

“Thank you, ma’am! My father wants me to talk to you about my college preferences.”

In the next half an hour, Smita had her future chartered before her. Her teacher was a convincing speaker. Pursuing dreams was at the top of her list of priorities, for herself and for her students.

Today, four years since that conversation with her chemistry professor, Smita lay on her uncomfortable bed, counting the days remaining for her to join her first job.

The job was right out of an IT engineer’s dream. The promise of a handsome paycheck and onshore opportunities hung before her like a lollipop on the rope in a chocolate race for primary school children. The minor setback was she had to leave her home town. She had to go to a city in a different state which took three days to reach via an express train.

Ever since she could remember, her life had been a series of repeated events, no variation, no changes. Life at home would remain strikingly same even as she left. Her mother would wake up at six in the morning, prepare simple breakfast of hand-made rotis and a vegetable. After breakfast, her father would leave for the shop at around eight-thirty. After he left, her mother would sweep the floors of their two-room house with a wet rag which she occasionally dipped in a bucket full of murky water. Then she would proceed to cut the vegetables for the lunch.

When the fish soup was cooked and the rice boiled, her mother would take a bath. For the next half an hour her mother would sit before the twelve idols of Hindu gods and goddesses that flanked a sanctum in one corner of her parents’ bedroom. Her mother would meditate, burn incense sticks and arrange fresh flowers in front of the idols.

These days, after her mother completed her prayers, Smita and her mother ate their lunch. Soon after, her mother packed some curry and rice in the three-bowl steel lunch box. Smita would then ride her pink bicycle and ferry the food to her father’s shop, balancing an umbrella in her left hand to cut off the glare of the angry sun.

She would stay there for a while, helping her father out with the sales, which were far between these days. In the evenings, after the sun hid his face, she cycled back to her house. On most days her mother would already be ready to leave for her shift at the shop. Her father found it more difficult to see in the evenings.

In two weeks, her life would be different. She would ride a sleek car provided by the company to and from her office. She would probably buy sets of clothes she had so often admired on the mannequins of the recently opened shopping mall.

After she left, no one would read these books anymore. Neither of her parents was a book-worm – they simply did not have time for the simple pleasures of life. Who would carry the lunch box after she left? Would her father brave the sun in the hot afternoons for a lunch? Or would her mother walk all the way to the shop, an umbrella in her left hand and the lunch box in her right? Or would she learn to ride the bicycle?

In her schooldays, when Smita was promoted to a higher class, her father struggled to buy her books. Even now that she had graduated, the financial picture remained the same. No, there was a minor change, she corrected herself. Now they had this added burden of an education loan. Also, they had to save up some money for her father’s treatment, his eyes got worse each day.

Yesterday at dinner she asked her father, “Baba, do you really want me to take up this job?” She wondered if her mother could handle everything alone after she left – the shop and her father’s treatment.

He father smacked the fingers of his right hand clean (he really loved this mutton curry that her mother cooked once a month). Then he adjusted his spectacles and said, “What alternative have we got?”

No alternatives. She could try for other IT companies, of course. But all of them would transport her to glossy metros. The teaching job at the local school couldn’t possibly pay off her loan. Government jobs were a gamble anyway – you could try for five years and still have nothing on your hand.

Smita wanted to think of the better things. Something that would make her lips curve upwards. Couldn’t I have some more choice in my life? She asked aloud. No answer came.

Only a lizard croaked on the wall.

Smita watched the whirring fan above her – the contour of its blades made a perfect circle. The individuality of each blade was lost in the motion. In motion they became something they were not – something they could not choose to become but couldn’t prevent as well.

Smita scratched her damp scalp as she watched the blades move. No choices, she muttered. She turned over in the bed and killed with a single slap the mosquito that was blissfully sucking blood at her ankle.

 The End

Does Smita’s story leave an impact on you? Please let me know what you feel about this story in the comments section. Like they say, it’s feedback that helps authors grow!