Friday, August 25, 2006

Entry #34

The Crater Doesn't Move
by Bhaswati Ghosh


I've stopped sleeping in our bedroom. Without the blare of heavy metal booming out of Shankar's room, slumber eludes me. I lie on the blue-green cot on the terrace, staring at the sky. Sleep is still evasive.

I sit up and light a cigarette—my nemesis and redemption.

Fluffy mounds of cloud shroud the moon. As the cloud masses drift along the darkening horizon, the moon ambles with them. But this isn't supposed to happen. Doesn't the moon stay in one place while clouds sweep over it? If this is some strange celestial phenomenon, I will take it. Anything that defies reality.

My smoky mind joins the floating clouds.

Shankar makes it to the army. "You just see, Baba, I will make the cut for the Air Force," he tells me, when I suggest joining the infantry. He's always been defiant; who am I to say he wouldn't defeat bronchial-asthma to rule the skies?

A small patch of nimbus passes.

Eight months after I buy him a motorbike, Shankar promises to pay me back by flying fighter jets. "With interest even—a Hyundai Santro."

A dilatant cloud lump is taking forever to move. My chest throbs.

Shankar remembers the date of my heart attack. A year later, he wants to celebrate. "Baba, only vegetable stew for you. Biryani for us!" Laughter all around.

The morning after, we take out Shankar's dead body. Asthma wins.


At dawn, the clouds depart. The moon hasn't moved an inch. It's the crater within me.

37 comments:

Joni said...

"my nemesis and redemption" - love that.

A sad story. The loss is portrayed well. I can see how the picture brought on this mood for you.

Ironic, too, that he is smoking after his son dies of asthma.

Jim said...

How much more terrible it would be if they were the cause. The nemesis? Painful and sad.

anne frasier said...

you captured the pain of loss so well. the choppy and broken way the mind keeps returning. very nice.

Lisa said...

Baba's pain is clearly evident in this story. To me, the clouds represent his memories as they float through his thoughts. And the moon represents his son. He's afraid the moon will leave, but when he looks closer, the moon is steadfast. Despite losing his son, the memories he has of him stay in his heart. A truly heartwrenching story, my friend. You have a gift with words.

robert rohloff said...

A very good read. Sad but well written.

Bernita said...

Much said in little.
Trememdously inferential.
Both characters come alive.

k lawson gilbert said...

Very powerful and descriptive. I like the way you go back and forth between memories and reality...very effective. You clearly defined both characters.

Bonnie Cehovet said...

Bravo!

aleah said...

I really loved this. Strong writing and a unique voice (while remaining authentic).

I'd love to keep reading! Fantastic.

anna said...

absolutely fantastic read. Your characters are so well drawn in such a few words. Good writing needs to evoke strong emotion.
This does this -- and more.
Excellent!

Scott said...

Wow Bhaswati, this was so sad and rife with irony and metaphor.

Robert Ball said...

The deepness of the loss comes across very well. Nice i.e. sad read.

Southern Writer said...

I was right there on the terrace with you, seeing the moon and clouds, feeling the pain. Well done.

Shadowrite said...

You've portrayed the devastation of losing a child with such vivid and emotional sadness. This was wonderful writing.

Bhaswati said...

Thank you everyone for taking the time to read and comment. I've been tardy in replying. Sorry.

Joni, life is full of ironical twists. Since the story draws from life, the irony came in naturally.

Jim, the father does suffer from guilt following his son's death. The word "redemption" is an indication of that. Despite being a heart patient, he smokes. He wants to join his son fast.

Anne, many thanks.

Lisa, you got the metaphors correct all right :). Thanks for the kind words.

Robert, thank you. :)

Bernita, glad to hear that from you. I tried.

K Lawson, I am happy to know the contrast between the two characters comes out clearly. Thank you.

Bonnie, thanks!

Aleah, you are so kind. Thanks for the compliment :)

Anna, reactions like yours are a writer's greatest reward, aren't they? Thanks!

Scott, like I said to Joni, it's life itself that's strewn with ironies. It took no effort to portray the same in a story.

Robert, thank you. :)

Southern Writer, that is such a nice thing for me to hear. Thank you. :)

Shadowrite, I am glad it struck a chord with you. That is so satisfactory for a writer.

Note: The story is based on a true incident, as most of my writing is. The father, a heart patient, coudn't deal with the loss of his 22-year-old son. He died three months later.

Linda Fort-Bolton said...

I loved the title.
I wasn't surprised that it was based on a true story, however I was very impressed by the way it was written. Good Job.

Flood said...

Bhaswati, you know I love your writing. This is really excellent. There is a delicate quality to your story. As I read, I hear the words being whispered to me.

Always a pleasure to read your work.

Bofire said...

Thanks for your comment on my story.
I like the way your story flows. You have a way with words.

Bhaswati said...

Thank you so much, Linda. :)

Flood, you are too kind. Comments like yours make my day because I know they are sincere.

Spilling a secret: 'Love your writing too. :)

Bofire, that's so kind of you to say that. I liked your story, especially the ending. :)

Susan Abraham said...

Hi Bhas,
The concluding tragedy strengthened the subtle philosophical romanticism of the whole piece that served as its theme.
Also, I felt that by talking about Shankar, you expanded the creative sphere of what you were originally asked to write on. Well-done!

Bhaswati said...

Susan, so good to see you here! Thanks for the lovely comment. :)

fringes said...

"Asthma wins" made my heart hurt. It's a two-word statement filled with defeat. Words can't be wasted in an effective piece of flash.

Thank you for your encouraging comment on my entry. I am flattered.

Kathleen said...

I'm just glad that I don't have to pick the winner, because I'd be hard-pressed to pick one over the other, although this was so beautifully and heart-breakingly written.

Being as asthma sufferer, it struck home.

Bhaswati said...

Thank you, Fringes, and Kathleen. I have been as stunned as you by the quality of writing and the depth of sensitivity this contest has showcased. To have taken part is an honor in itself.

Natalia said...

The last line absolutely slew me. Great job.

Jer said...

Absolutely beautiful, and exquisitely sad. Jer

Bhaswati said...

Huge thanks, Natalia and Jer. Glad you liked it. :)

cesarcarlos said...

What a wonderful piece. So full of sentiment. You deal with the most terrible of pains with such craft that you make us take part of Baba's sorrow. In the end we too suffer Shankar's losing battle.

Very well done.

Amin said...

Bhaswati, you certainly know how to move your audience.

That was a very reflective piece filled with poignancy. Left me feeling quite low at the end, but I think it underscores the way we remember a lost loved one very effectively.

Atyllah said...

Evocative and poignant story, Bhaswati. Beautifully written.

Bhaswati said...

Thank you, Cesar. As a writer, I am glad to know the pain felt real for you.

Amin, thanks a lot for the kind words. Sorry to know the story depressed you; it left me a bit sad too, when I wrote it. More so, because this happened for real.

Bhaswati said...

Atyllah, I just saw your comment. Thanks. :)

Saaleha said...

the pain was tangible. Flowed through the entire story. Wonderfully poignant

Bhaswati said...

Thanks, Saaleha. :)

Suzanne Smith Karg said...

Bhaswati, excellent & powerful description, making me weep...

Bhaswati said...

Suzanne, that's about as good a compliment as I could get on this story. Thank you so much. :)

jason evans said...

The failed dream and the harm it causes--the ripples. Very hard. And powerful. Good marks overall.