Friday 15 June 2012

Flash Fiction 2012 Longlist, Lena Saha


‘Oh! How trendy those boots look,’ she thought, glancing at an eye-catching pair displayed in the shop window of a footwear store in town.

They were made of suede and maroon in colour and had chunky straps around the calves. She imagined how good she would look teaming them up with a knee-length dress and a shrug of the same colour as the boots. And how she would become the cynosure of all eyes!

As she struggled to suppress a giggle at the visualisation of herself, she noticed the price tag and all her lovely visions shrank to a point. The boots were too expensive, but finding that hard to accept, she wondered irritatingly: ‘What sort of a price is 3,999? Only a rupee less than Rs 4,000! Ha! Would that persuade me to buy the pair?’ ‘No,’ replied her inner voice – stoic and unemotional. Her shoulders drooped and her face fell.

As she was turning away from the shop reluctantly, from out of the blue a series of images flashed before her eyes: A pair of black-coloured boots of a smaller size standing in the shoe cupboard in her house in Kolkata. She had taken a fancy to them and put on a drama queen act, to make her parents buy them for her. But after wearing the boots a few times, she neglected them like a woman in a fairy tale does her stepdaughter. Dusty from not being worn for years, they now imitated her expression – when she had realised the suede boots could not be hers.

More images flashed before her eyes: the golden velvet dress she discarded after wearing once, the parrot green suit she grew tired of in no time, the pair of sunglasses she thought were cute while buying, but hideous afterwards... 

Soon the images turned into a torrent and became a blur. But suddenly the torrent stopped and the images started playing slowly.

Two five-year-old girls going to school for the first time, growing up together, sharing everything – from their tiffin to their deepest thoughts; jealousy creeping into their friendship, drifting apart and then... pitch black darkness.
She winced.
A 21-year-old guy cracking jokes when she got mad. A true friend; but the selfish monster reared its head, hurt and haughtiness took over and before long he was gone. 

She shivered even in the warm, sunny morning.
He had long hair, then he cut it short; his loud, clownish laugh seemed to mock her; best buddies; blissful happiness; a mistake and more of them; pleadings, a period of calm and hope of matters improving, then everything descending into chaos...

Something made of glass shattered somewhere. It startled her. She was standing in her one-room tenement.
She bit her lip. Her tongue tasted blood. Remorse swelled within her. All was lost, she thought. Or was it? Amends had to be made. Impossible maybe, but she would try without carrying the baggage of the past. Hope would be her companion, her anchor.

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