Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Entry #81

Translation
by Jennifer


Three steps up, she taunted him: the dress-length pink shirt, the loose pants billowing underneath. But it was the miles of scarf that poached his breath.

He knew what the scarf was called.

He’d seen Sana in a similar outfit once, after her sister’s wedding. She’d arrived after midnight in a bubble of magenta silk, used his bathroom, and emerged wearing only the long, diaphanous scarf. Afterward, when she dressed, she asked him to hand her the dupatta. She couldn’t stay. Later, when he caught pneumonia, she stayed. She took him to bed, breaking his fevers with the heat from her body and responding to his delirious mutterings: No, she wouldn’t let him die. Yes, she’d told his MFA advisor. No, she didn’t wish he were in medical school. She left him only to brew ginger tea and cook dal chaval. The scent of fried garlic and cumin settled into the corners of his apartment until it smelled like a future.

When he recovered, Akil appeared. A cousin, she said. But he was really just a childhood friend. In a month, she married Akil. He was a cardiologist.

At the top of the escalator, the woman turned. Her scarf was caught, choking her, lighting her eyes with panic. He tried to pretend she was Sana. He tried to leave her.

He grabbed the scarf and pulled. It tore, freeing the woman. On solid ground, she smoothed his face with her hands. He knew what it was called.

Redemption.

29 comments:

Sarah Hina said...

Beautiful tale of second chances! Really loved how you utilized the scarf, Jennifer, to connect his past and present (and perhaps his future, too).

You managed to breathe a lot of life into this character, and gave us a very emotionally satisfying end. Lovely writing. :)

Jennifer said...

Thanks, Sarah! This was a lot of fun--and for me, a huge challenge to do "flash."

JR's Thumbprints said...

You did a good job of conveying his thoughts, his emotions, and off-setting it when he freed the scarf. Perhaps it's just me, but I would've had him "not letting go," which, in turn, means letting the escalator do its work. I know, I know, too dark.

Lena said...

i loved it. seriously, you did a great job to let us feel the way he feels. Beautifully done.. :)

anks said...

Lovely story.... great working with the dal chaval and cumin aromas... :)

*~*{Sameera}*~* said...

Liked the way how you painted emotions there :)

Well done!

Jennifer said...

JR's Thumbprints, thanks. And yes, too dark! :) I thought about it, about having him step over the woman on the escalator, but I just don't think, ultimately, he would have given Sana that much power (to change him).

Lena, thank you! I'm glad you liked it.

Anks, thanks. I know the smell well!

Sameera, thank you so much!

BernardL said...

You had me right from the start with the scarf. Nicely done.

Ello said...

This was really lovely! I actually got tense at the end and relieved he did the right thing. And this piece was really alive with detail for me!

pjd said...

This is class. I really enjoy the circular references and the completeness of this story. The details really give the characters depth, too. Very nice.

Jennifer said...

Bernard, thanks. For some reason that was the first image that came to me with the elevator--he was watching a woman in a dupatta.

Ello, thanks! I was glad he did the right thing, too, although at first I wasn't sure he would! :)

pjd, thanks! The class part of your comment means a lot. And I'm glad it seemed complete-250 words is a challenge, at least for me.

Rebecca Livesey said...

beautifully told. the smell of garlic & cumin giving a future drew me in completely! wonderful!

Karen said...

Jennifer -- What a story is here in so few words! We learn so much of his past and get a glimpse of his future. Nicely told; very enjoyable read.

Dottie said...

Lovely story.

Brian said...

Beautiful! The way you "painted" the picture with words was amazing - admittedly I had to look up a few, but really perfect, not only in meaning but in the choice of sounds and syncopation. Quite powerful for such a short piece!

One thought and one question.

The thought: perhaps the point at which she stayed begs for a little more emphasis..."she did stay" or "she couldn't not stay"

And the question: though redeemed from his holding onto Sana, does he still wish he was someone else, someone more like Akil?

Great job you made me think and feel.

McKoala said...

This is a good one. Would have liked a little more substance at the climax but that's probably a word count issue; it was pretty perfect right up to there.

Jennifer said...

Rebecca, thanks! I'm glad you liked it.

Karen, thanks for stopping by to read it and for your nice comments!

Dottie, thank you!

Brian, point taken about emphasizing when she did stay. I think I wrote it more low key because he was so passive with her. He doesn't really go after her; he takes what she gives. I have my own ideas about his redemption, but you are left to yours!

McKoala, point taken as well. Thanks for your eomments!

iLL Man said...

Came to this one late, in my haphazard manner. Like all the best stories here, it takes you on a journey that seems like more than 250 words.

Excellent piece of work.

Jennifer said...

iLL Man, thank you so much. I really appreciate your comment!

Catvibe said...

A very modern India love story. Your ending was interesting, I'm glad he got over his pain enough to help the poor woman. It makes me think of a few occasions of seeing escalators in India and Nepal, with saree clad women afraid to get on them and practically having to be dragged onto the thing. Your story shows why they should be afraid! Well written.

Jennifer said...

Thanks Catvibe! I have been on an escalator in strappy sandals, a floor length outfit, and a dupatta. Not for the faint of heart. :)

Margaret said...

His emotions are superbly conveyed. I like the way the dupatta played a giant roll here.

Terrific read..

Jennifer said...

Thank you Margaret!

bluesugarpoet said...

I really liked your story, Jennifer. Sana might of stayed if it was up to her, eh? Or maybe not. I love the ambiguity. Your tale unfolds nicely.

jana

September said...

sweet love story - makes one believe that good things can come out of something. I like the way you pulled the look together with the scarf. Good job.

ceedy said...

This story can be elaborated into much more than 250 words...very well written

Jennifer said...

Bluesugarpoet, (I love your user name!) I think Sana was torn--what she might have wanted in her heart of hearts, and what was practical.Y

September, thanks!

Ceedy, thanks! It would be fun to flush out all of these stories, don't you think?

jason evans said...

Great job on pacing, technical skill, storytelling, and voice! And welcome to the Forties Club!!

Thanks for being a wonderful part of the contest.

Aniket said...

Okay, I might have missed reading yours in the first go. But I have read (almost) all the entries here and atleast the forties club. I honestly dunno why I didn't comment here, may be cause the scarf reminded me of Heather Graham in 'Killing Me Softly' and I scooted off to see the scene. (See Aine now this is back-pedalling). Amazing tale of life-comes-full-circle. And now I get the official right to demand good fiction from you, right?