This is a blog about writing. Mostly short fiction. And occasional personal rant once in a while, if I may. Feel free to make your comments and feel sane again.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A New Life

How I wrote it / Why I wrote it:

This is speed writing. It works best when you feel blocked, or get stuck with a dead-end story. Happens to me every other day! So you start writing in a void, without an idea, or a single conscious thought, or any kind of systematic planning. It takes a few minutes to put down the first skeletal draft (pure drivel), and if you believe in it, then some semblance of character/s and a plot emerges-if you are lucky. It might take a few days, weeks, or months to shape and polish it to perfection. This might be rewritten, so let's be open-minded about it!

A New Life

Her Swift Dsire is doing 170 kms per hour, tyres screaming, overtaking every other car on Mumbai - Pune highway. Geera Punjabi is in the driver seat: her eyes blood shot and puffed, her blood laced with rounds of vodka, her calf muscles aching from constant pressure, and her pride shaken like a rag puppet. This is speed therapy, cleans the mental clogging, according to her best friend. Works best in a top down car with cool wind blowing in your face!

"I can use a cigarette," she mutters an oft-repeated sentence from her college years.

Irrationally fragmented images of her life wheezes past like green trees and waving shrubs in the car window. Dad's posting all over the country. Schools, schools and more schools. Bicycle injuries. Cousins' marriages. Love affairs that costed a few years of life and her college degree. Sudden marriage into money and high-rise respectability that turned out to be hollow. Wayward husband. Kids that grew too fast. She lifts her foot from accelerator paddle against her wishes She slows down the car and stops at a toll booth. The uniformed man touches her white, manicured hand on sly as he accepts the money and hands over the ripped receipt.

"Sick bastard," she mumbles and slams her foot down. The speed needle hits 180 in a few seconds. She enters an endless claustrophobic tunnel. An intestine of a giant beast. Overhead lights reminds her of an endless, fake diamond necklace. She blinks, breathes easy as her car emerges into blinding bright sunshine. She has an idea to punish her husband. But there are catches. She still loves him. Two kids who can go either way, so divorce is out of question. Nevertheless she has to teach him lesson for being a regular customer of certain 'pleasure establishment,' as the the detective agency has phrased it in the report. Why can't he be open about it and talk to her instead? There is no answer.

She check the truck and her face in the rear view mirror. Is that nose too big? What happened to the full bloom lips that fascinated him so much? Has she grown that old and unattractive? She studies the mirror. It is a split second delay in her reaction that glances her car against an overtaking car. Impact makes a terrible metallic scream. An impatient Jeep rider from the other side forces her to twist the steering wheel, but the air pressure in the wheels hasn't been checked for a week, so the car skids a few feet before it can go straight. She brakes hard, a terrible mistake. Her elbow hits the door panel from the impact and goes numb. Next moment she is in the way of a truck too loaded to slow down in hurry. Her car turn a neat 90 degree on sudden impact, is thrown clear off the road. It slams into the railing that comes loose, twists and breaks. The car turns over like a cheap plastic toy. A slow black out.

Geera Panjabi is sprawled in her seat, hanging on the cracked steering wheel, her feet still in one piece. The engine finally dies down. She passes out on and off. In her subconscious state, she pulls up her feet and waits in the wrecked car. A lapse of time she is unable fathom and an overpowering stuffiness resulting from fumes of petrol. Her eyes open as if in deep sleep. A white Ambassador taxi stops by. A thin man climbs down. He examines the damage and looks inside the car. "She is probably..." he yells to his companion sitting in the car. They try to open Geera's car. She pretends to be unconscious.

"She is till warm," the man mutters as they pull her out through the shattered wind shield. She is thrilled by the touch of another life. "That feels good," she mumble in delirium.

"Are you okay?" the man asks as she tries to stand up on her feet and falls.

She wakes up in a speeding ambulance. An unknown face looks down at her.

"It feels good to be alive," she tells herself. "My mobile phone, three silk dresses and crockery in the backseat...Rotary meeting...younger kid's report card for..."

Geera Panjabi smiles despite a dead hand, an oxygen mask and an IV bottle swinging over her head.

She knows what to do with her new life.

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