Change is everywhere
This is the first short story that i wrote last year...
Change. It is everywhere. It happens every time. Changes are sometimes favourable, sometimes not, sometimes desirable other times not. Whatever it is, Change is one of the most powerful and vital things in life and the US president Obama recognised it and popularised himself by using it’s name in the most effective and ingenuous way.
Anamika, of course, did not know anything about Obama or his slogan. But for her five and a half years, she certainly knew what Change meant and how it frequently turned up at every corner, usually without a warning. And she resented it. Change was the most horrible word in her vocabulary and in her life.
For her, change came in different forms. The regular and most harmless ones involving the day-to-day activities were, changing into her school uniform in the mornings and changing back into one of her favourite frocks in the afternoon; getting into her comfy pyjamas at night; changing Anna’s (her favourite doll whom she proudly named after herself) clothes and such like.
When she was younger, she was so attached to her rug, her bag and other things like that, that she refused to part with it even for a day of washing, how much ever dirty and smelly it became, driving her usually unruffled mother to the brink of infuriation. To her mother’s relief, Anamika herself had realised a little later, the filthy condition of her belongings and one Sunday morning, she had dumped them on the floor of the bathroom before her mother went in for bath and had slipped away.
But Anamika’s greatest worry lay in bigger changes, the not so day-to-day ones. The kitchen help would mysteriously disappear one afternoon and her mother would not be available for their daily read-aloud session. Or her beloved but busy uncle would cancel his half yearly visit to their house and she cannot see him for the next six months. Unexpected rains would dampen a very much expected and exciting picnic…the list is endless. Anamika would get intolerably frustrated and her mother would try to explain with the best possibilities.
Why? Why? Why? Why should the help be absent at this time only? She must have gone to her native place. Why now? Why not in the morning or in the evening? She has to cook for her family and then go; it takes some time to reach the village, at least half a day. Then why can’t she go after she’s finished her work here? That’ll be too late. Even if she comes to work today and then goes to the village, she won’t be able to come tomorrow, it’s the same thing…Anamika must have understood this but merely understanding the situation would not make up for the time lost in the afternoon, would it? Her mother would be busy with her interior designing job and clients in the evenings. She knew she shouldn’t disturb her mother at that time.
Why oh why do such things happen? Do they happen only to her?
“No, Anamika,” said her father when she was upset because her uncle had called off his visit, “These things happen to everyone. It happens to us also. Look, even we are feeling sad that Uncle Shyam cannot come home this whole month. But what can we do?”
“But…but, he does come some day in this month every year. How can he just forget it?” she wailed.
“He has not forgotten it, I’m sure,” explained her mother, “Since he has his own business, he is very busy”.
“No one can tell what work might come at which time. Not even he. I really think he is also feeling bad about it in the same way you are,” said her father.
“He can get his work here and do it. I don’t mind,” she said desperately.
She had seen her uncle bring home his laptop and work on it for hours together. He wouldn’t be available for her at that time and naturally, she Did Mind It. But she would be seeing him at least. She loved him very much since he was a very nice and jovial uncle. No other grown up would talk to her like he did.
“No, dear. If that was the case he would have come certainly”.
Anamika said no more but was still upset. It was the same thing always. Her parents would give explanations, which she felt only they could understand properly. What is this ‘work’ they keep talking about? Was it so important that he couldn’t even visit her just once, once in a year? He eats, drinks, sleeps and works everyday (this sentence is an extract from her teachers’ dialogue whenever she had not finished her homework!). Then, why can’t he do those things at their house for a change? At least one day in a year?
Then, a scarier thought flashed. What if he says that every time and he does not come at all? She won’t be able to see him again! This thought brought out fresh sobs.
Her parents enquired after it helplessly, not knowing how to convince her.
But she did not tell them the reason. She did not want to. They would only say something lamer.
That night, after Anamika had gone to bed, her parents held a Roundtable Conference. They wanted to do something about their daughter’s rigid attitude towards change. It would be very difficult for her to cope up with life if she was not flexible in her plans, ideas and situations.
They had tried explaining to her the reasons and facts of an upsetting situation but that did not seem to change her mood. She might stop arguing but not stop being sad and sulky.
It was up to them to bring her to tread the right path after all. Maybe they can try singing a different tune. Perhaps they have to change the way they approach and explain her about things…
This discussion went on till late night. Finally, they arrived at a possible solution and decided to implement it from the very next day.
“Ma,” called Anamika, one day, as she entered the kitchen, wearing a frock that was bursting at its seams. No, she had not bloated all of a sudden. It was just that she was wearing a dress that would have perfectly fitted the three-year-old version of her.
“Its torn on this side…” she reported to her mother, “And the frock has become very short too”.
Her mother knelt down and examined the torn part and discovered that the frock would be better off being used as a rag. The sleeves were too tight and so was the waist. The colour had faded. And finally, the skirt was too short. No remote chance of lengthening it by opening out the folds underneath.
She was about to say that, but she stopped herself. The stark truth was what Anamika could not bear. Yes, she’ll have to know it sooner or later. But it would be better if Anamika found it out herself, rather than her mother revealing it the very second. That was one of the conclusions of that night’s Conference.
“I’ll try patching up the hole,” she said, as Anamika glanced at her hopefully.
“But, I have a little problem. I don’t think I have the exact coloured scrap of cloth to patch it up”.
She didn’t know whether Anamika understood it. So she took her into one of the rooms and opened a bundle of scraps of cloth of various colours, shapes and sizes and hunted for the nearest shade to that of the frock’s red, while Anamika amused herself in toying with brightly coloured scraps, which she got her eyes on.
At last, her mother came up with a rust coloured piece of cloth and showed it to her.
“This is the nearest shade of the lot that goes with your frock’s red,” she said.
Anamika thoughtfully took the piece and kept it on her lap, against the red of her frock as the background. Somehow, it did not feel right. The rusty colour was too obvious against red. It will definitely look ugly if her mother patched up all the holes with this coloured cloth.
Her mother was watching her carefully. Anamika seemed to be in deep thought, sure to arrive at some sensible conclusion.
“Is there any other better colour?” Anamika asked, handing the rust coloured bit back.
“No” replied her mother, hanging on Anamika’s words.
“Ok. Then I don’t want this colour to be used as a patch,” she said.
It’s working, her mother smiled to herself.
“Then what can we do about this frock? You can’t wear it just like that,” she said.
“Then…then I won’t wear it anymore!” Anamika said with an air of finality.
“So, shall I discard it?” her mother asked, silently rejoicing over the first victory. When it came to discarding any old and over used possession of Anamika’s, it was always an ordeal.
“Er…ok” Anamika asserted in a small voice. It was hard for her to let go of that frock. It was her uncle’s first present to her on her third birthday. It was a pretty frock too.
But she realized it was not of much use. She had grown bigger. It would not look as good as it did before, even if her mother altered it.
Her mother was happy at Anamika’s progress. If she had straight away told the fact that this frock had become useless, Anamika would have retaliated with the usual tears and sobs and would have clung to it more and history would repeat itself.
This was the beginning of a better Anamika all right.
“Look, Anamika!” her father said that evening while she came home after play, pointing to the headlines of the evening daily.
“One of the bridges on the way from Bangalore to Mysore collapsed today morning because of poor construction,” he told, “Thank Heavens, Uncle Shyam is busy with work…”
Anamika did not say anything but went on staring at the article with her heart thumping. Uncle Shyam lived in Bangalore and to come to Mysore, he had to cross this bridge. And at that time, if that bridge…a shudder ran down her spine.
“Aren’t we all lucky?” her mother said, “Uncle Shyam is safe at his home with his work!”
“Yes,” Anamika said, after a pause.
“God does everything for the best,” her mother went on, “You have to remember that, always”.
The next day was a Sunday. So the father and daughter decided to do some gardening in the morning. They marched up to their beautiful garden in front of the house with pickaxes. Gardening was something she enjoyed doing with her father.
She knelt down beside him and they together pulled out the weeds.
She spied something moving about in the grass a little far from where they were weeding and pointed it out to her father. She had not noticed it before and wanted to know what it was. It looked like a garden lizard of the exactly same colour as the grass.
“That’s a Chameleon,” her father answered, “And do you know how it is special over the usual garden lizards we see here?”
“It can camouflage itself nicely by changing its body colour to match the colour of its surroundings”.
“What is camouflage?”
“To stay away from danger, it has to hide. If there is no place to hide, it disguises itself by becoming the same colour as its surroundings. Look, now it is amongst the grass. There is nowhere to hide. And the grass is green. So to protect itself, it has changed its body colour to green. That is how it is special,”
“Oh,” was all she said. After a while her eyes lit up.
“God camouflaged uncle by giving him lots of work so that he could be protected from the accident!” she stated confidently.
Her father was both surprised and amused at this statement.
“Yes, that’s right,” he said.
That afternoon was bright and sunny. Anamika was watching a cartoon serial on TV.
Her parents had retired for an afternoon siesta. They were telling each other how Anamika had improved. They agreed she was changing positively.
Suddenly, they heard an angry shout from Anamika. The power had gone since there was a light shower outside.
Ok, the improvement is yet to complete, they decided.
They were expecting her to come into the room and throw a tantrum.
Astonishingly, she did not! Also, there were no sobs to be heard!
Curiously, they went to the living room and found the front door open. They stepped outside into the porch and found Anamika staring ecstatically at the western sky.
“Look! A rainbow!” she cried when she spotted them.
They hurried to watch it.
A very distinct and beautiful rainbow had arched in the sky.
“Quick, I want a picture of it!” she demanded.
Her father rushed inside to get the camera.
After that, she decided to paint a rainbow and went about getting the painting things ready, forgetting to be disappointed about the power failure.
Her parents watched her joyfully.
She was changing! She had made a wonderful beginning and the route was long.
But still, Anamika was changing