Friday 15 June 2012

Flash Fiction 2012 Longlist, Deepa Ranganathan


She looked into the mirror as if it bore a clear statement of her oblique future. It looked mystic. She couldn’t make much sense of what she was looking at. She wasn’t sure if the woman who stared at her from the other side was an identical image of her physical self. For a moment, she admired what she saw. And then she turned critical.

Rubbing the puffiness under her eyes with a wet cotton swab, she wondered what had caused them. It was too fashionable to blame it on ‘stress.’ It was like saying that the blood is red in colour. Then, what about blue blood?

Her kohl-eyed face had developed wrinkles. Intricate lines that seemed to gape at her and pass judgments. That she was growing old. In an obvious sort of way.

Much to her reluctance, she had been an unwilling host to her birthday party last night. Her husband had insisted and so she did not have the heart to say no. She despised the idea of her big fat number to be declared oh-so-openly so it could be celebrated in a loud and lavish manner. What was the point of reiterating something that had happened 33 years ago? It did not make any sense to her.

But she could not escape her husband’s sugar-coated talks. In any case, wasn’t that what she once admired the most in him? His ability to converse in the most effortless fashion. His way with words. The way in which he convinced her into doing almost anything that she would not even have dreamed herself capable of doing. His voice. His speech. And the illusory wisdom in them.
Today, they suddenly felt obsolete. All together. Was this because she was growing old? That just like she had fell in love with him, she had finally fell out of it? Perhaps she was never in love with him. She was merely in love with the idea of being in love with him*.  It gave her a strange sense of security. An assurance of regular company.

Then what had changed? She looked at the lines on her forehead. As if they were expected to blurt out the answer. It wasn’t like she hated him, she told herself. She couldn’t overlook the fact that he was crazy about her. Even today: six years after their marriage.  But his presence seemed to inculcate a deep feeling of self-loathing in her. And the poison was spreading fast. Right into her body. Her veins. Her face. Her self.

The kajal had spread below the line of her eyes.  That she had shed a few tears a while ago helped create a merged effect under them, highlighting her dark circles like never before. She felt it gave her eyes a tired look. They didn’t even need that, she mused.

She analyzed her face crudely. Once in the abundance of light; twice in the flood of darkness. Was the mirror lying?
She prayed not.

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