A bullet zipped passed the soldier as he threw himself against the broken wall – just another holding up an already ruined town – seeking refuge that he knew would be short, temporary.
It was then he saw the writing, faded by the suffering and agony the wall had seen-“Make Music, not War”.
As he read the words, the cackles of gunshots, his comrades dying around him, the echoes of devastation – all became dim, just a humming in his ears. His eyes shone as he pulled out something from an ammo pouch in his vest.
‘Music I can make…The war, no, that is not my making’, he whispered to no one.
He was still holding the mouth organ when the final bullet ripped
He threaded his way through cubicles,which looked as tired and worn as their owners, making his way to the water cooler.
“Did you see the new girl in accounts”, a colleague whose name he did not remember stopped him. ” Over there, near the water cooler, quite a looker, that one”. The colleague paused and let out a disappointed sigh.He obviously realized how out of his league the looker was.
“Married and blinkers on, my man, blinkers on”. He smiled and tried to look as disappointed as the other.
There she was, filling an oversized bottle with water. As he approached, she straightened and he saw the eyes first. Layers and layers of green, flecks of gold embellished in them. They owner of the mesmerizing eyes smiled at him. A perfect face, a perfect smile; his heart skipped a beat.
” Hey, I m Renu, just joined the Accounts team today”.
A few seconds passed.
“I m Punit, from IT” , he managed to say, finally finding his voice”. ” Welcome to the madhouse”.
“Thank you, I love madhouses”, she smiled shyly.
Was he staring at her? Suddenly realizing he was, he fumbled with the cap of his bottle and bent over to fill it.
‘So how has been your first day so far’, trying to strike a conversation before she said goodbye. He did not want her to leave.
“Induction today, Mr. Sharma has been explaining the organization structure”
“Have a coffee with me, I will tell you all about it rather than listening to Sharma.” He blurted out before he could stop himself.
“Just kidding, it is just that his voice is worse than the drone of a thousand bees”, he redeemed himself.
She laughed, and his heart did a somersault. Her laughter had just smeared all colors of the rainbow in his being.
He had to leave. He did not want to.
“Let me know if you need anything. My extension is 3404.”
“I will, thank you. Was nice meeting you” she smiled a knowing smile, as if she could sense what was going on inside of him.
Later that evening, he got home late from a meeting.
He walked in and saw his wife in the balcony, looking down at the darkness which was splattered with stars –lights from a million homes.
He sneaked up to her and wrapped his arms around her.
“Hey, what are you doing out here? How was your day?” He said gently, taking in her fragrance.
“Good”, she replied. “And how was yours?”
“Well”, he slowly turned her face towards him. “I fell in love.”
The same layers of green and flecks of gold gazed back at him.
“Again”, he finished.
They both broke into laughter and fell into each others arms as the stars above and below haloed them.
As I look at my sleeping baby, I m awestruck, yet again -at her beauty, at life and at being the person I have become. I was a career woman and someday maybe I will resume being one, maybe I will learn to re-love the limitless stress, the endless meetings and the ladder that I hope to climb. Maybe, I will learn to re-love the adrenaline rush I used to get when I set to work, the cubicles, the smell of coffee and sandwiches, the overcrowded lifts, the swiveling chairs, the conference rooms.But today I am just a mom, who is exulting in the little thing she has co-created,who loves the smell, the touch of her baby, who looks forward to playful giggles,the crawls and the cuddles, who wakes up in the middle of the night just to hear her baby‘s breaths, whose heart sinks when her baby cries and for whom all colors of the rainbow make up her baby‘s laughter…my role as a mom has completed me for it has taught me what unalloyed happiness and love can feel like- pure,divine, magical.
She held her newborn grandson close.
‘ He is so handsome’, she said proudly, ‘he radiates a kind spirit’.
‘He sure does’, beamed her son.
‘He will take care of you when you are old’, the old lady looked at her son, her eyes giving nothing away, none of the pain, none of the longing, none of the questions. Maybe this time, she thought, she hoped.
‘Of course, he will’, said the son.
‘Uh, we better get going. You take care’.
She kissed her grandson’s forehead, a silent blessing passed her lips and slowly, reluctantly she handed him back to her son.
They walked away.
Had she seen a glimmer of guilt in her son’s eyes? Was he remorseful? She will never know. She did not want to know anymore. Her last strand of hope had just broken, her frail heart could hope no more.
She slowly walked up to the window of the tiny room and looked down at the yard.
Her son, with her grandson in his arms was getting in the car as a chauffeur held the door open.
She closed her eyes and said a prayer, again gave a blessing. When she opened her eyes, they were gone. She continued looking, trying hard to capture the silhouette of her son, her grandson, her blood.
The Old Age Home, the yard, the window had just been witness to yet another breaking heart, yet another hope dying. A hope that death comes in a place where life had been – Home, that is.