Thursday 24 November 2022

Anisha Dutta, Short Story 2022 Shortlist


I am running in seventies. During long journey of life I have acquired lots of experience as natural happenstances, sometimes miracles and few incidents to be called mysterious or super natural.

Now I am going to narrate about the event most queer and completely unexplained. Then I was only ten years old. On my tenth birthday my Mom declared ' Now you are no longer a kid but a grown up girl, quite intelligent and more or less take care of yourself.’ And onward I got the permission to go to the nearby park without any escort and also to go to my friend’s house with other friends. The compulsory restriction of going out only with parents was lifted.

We were three siblings. My twin brothers were four years younger than me. So long I was the only child, I was the princess of the house. But debut of my brothers shook my unique position. I was feeling jealous but soon I discovered that I have been benefited as parents got more attentive to my brothers and I was getting more scope to enjoy freedom.

My Mom was a school teacher and Dad an advocate. We had a Nanny Miss Laura to look after three siblings and to manage household chores. So while going out in absence of parents gradually I got habituated just to inform Miss Laura. There was no need to take her permission.

* *

Basically I was introvert and own small group of friends among my classmates. In the class regarding sitting arrangement each desk was designed for two students to sit side by side. Mostly two seats are occupied in each desk and few were used by single student. Incidentally I was enjoying a desk alone. My adjacent seat was vacant.

In mid session a new girl named Indigo took admission in our class and eventually she chose the seat beside me. On the very first day I liked the girl much. Indigo told about her family. She had an older sister named Violet and an younger brother named Blue. She had a pair of rabbits whom she had named as Green and Yellow. I was highly amused and suggested that she should get another pets as a puppy or kitten to name them as Orange and Red. She laughed and said “ Sure. I should follow your advice!. For your information. My Mom is an Artist and runs an Art School. Off and on she arranges Art Exhibition in our hall. Lots of painting are sold at good price.”

I got excited and told “ Both my parents are Art Lovers and Mom holds a hobby to draw and paint in her off time. My Mom will love to meet your Mom.”

Indigo promptly replied coming Saturday is my Birthday Party. But that’s a children party! You please attend and my Mom will invite your Mom next week.”

My nature was not of free mixing type. So I hesitated “ Indigo, in your house I will not feel comfortable among unfamiliar group of children. May be I have a feeling of an intruder attending party.”

“Why? A stupid analysis. Okay I will also invite your group of friends.”

I felt embarrassed and said “ So kind of You. But you need not take trouble. You are a new student and not at all well acquainted with class mates. But if they refuse! They also don’t know you. Better forget!.”

“No. I won’t. You must come. I am assuring that you will have lots of fun. Listen Maria, you should train yourself to meet new people to interact free in unknown zone.”

“ Okay Miss Teacher. I will take permission from my Mom.”

“ That sounds like a smart girl.” Both of us gave a loud laughter. It echoed. We were chatting in tiffin break. Few students were in the classroom but those few got startled.

“Tomorrow is holiday and next day is my birthday. So we will meet straight at my birthday party.”

“ But you have not given your address. Also I need directions.”

“ Why? My Mom will take all responsibility. She will take you from home and reach you timely.”

* *

Being back from school I narrated tit bits of our conversation to Mom and asked her permission to attend the birthday party. Mom told “ Where do they stay? Me or your Dad will drop and pick you up.” Promptly I interrupted “ No need to worry! Mom of Indigo will pick and drop me.”

“ Ok. Fine. By what time you will leave?”

‘They will come around 5-00 pm. Mom, You will be in your school. No problem. Laura will be in the house. .After dinner they will reach me within 9-00 pm.”

I was too much excited as I liked Indigo very much and was feeling a strong emotional bond. Basically I discovered a sweet girl of my age holding a compassionate generous heart. On scheduled date before leaving for school my Mom gave me a box of chocolates as her Birthday Gift.

Generally on holiday I took a nap. But on excitement of coming party I did not sleep but feeling drowsy. At sharp 5 -00 pm calling bell at main gate rang. I peeped through window and got surprised to notice a vintage car at the gate. In the car Indigo was sitting in the back seat and a beautiful lady surely her Mom was on the seat of the driver. I rushed downstairs and told Laura “ Car is waiting at door step.”

Laura was curious “ How do you know?”

I got annoyed,” Have you not heard the calling bell? I have also seen through the window. Bye Laura.”

But I remembered, on hurry I have left the chocolate box in my bed room. So again I rushed upstairs to get the box. Then I came down and didn’t see Laura. But I didn’t wait for Laura to bid buy as horn of the waiting car was blown.

I went out and boarded the car to take seat beside Indigo. Mom of Indigo was a nice lady. She came out of the car and hugged me. Being back to driver-seat she started the car. I was amused to board a vintage car for the first time. Soon we followed the solitary road leading to suburbs.

Natural scenery on road side began to change. Appeared vine yards and cornfields. We passed a horse driven cart loaded with bundles of sugar cane. Up above sky, flocks of egrets were eager to fly fast making V-shaped garland. It seemed to me as if I was watching a movie of last century. It was an amazing experience.

Sun was slipping down slowly to touch horizon. Twilight got scope to display colour patches at random on azure sky . Mostly crimson and reddish orange hues were painted on sky album. Suddenly we saw a prominent rainbow carved as clear semi- circular arch pasted neatly.

Indigo told, “ Maria, I will show you a masterpiece picture with caption ‘Rainbow’ hung on our hall where my birthday party will be going to be celebrated.” We reached our destination. It was a huge house of bunglow type. At the entrance gate the name of the house was inscribed as SPECTRUM on a marble tablet.

One Banyan tree and other Peepal tree stood at two sides of the gate like Sentry. Peepal tree sheltered a colony of parrots all chirping in high pitch. Banyan tree was accommodating varieties of birds returning to nests tweeting loud probably exchanging day long experiences.

Her Mom entered through gate and drove the car on the path leading to main building. On one side of the inside road neatly mowed lawn with glossy mossy dense green grass welcomed me. On other side array of sunflowers and series of cosmos nodded to greet us.

Entering the hall I got astounded to look at the large photograph of Twilight with splendid panorama and a neat semi circular arch of Rainbow. I exclaimed “ Excellent photograph.”

Indigo laughed loud “ It is not a photograph but an oil painting done by Mom. I could not hide that I was simply overwhelmed. Spontaneously I spoke “ I will definitely show this picture to my Mom. She will love it. Also Mom must be too eager to meet your Mom. ”

All the children played in the lawn for sometime and as Twilight faded and evening merged all of us entered the hall. We had lots of fun. Additional charm appeared when her elder sister Violet showed few magic. Over and above her Mom arranged interesting games and all of us had won prizes. Party ended with sumptuous food and wonderful drinks. Indigo cut her Birthday Cake baked by her Mom. The big wall clock was showing half past eight. So her Mom told “ Come Maria, now I will drop you at home.” So both Indigo and her Mom reached me at my home.

*. *

I was too tired and as it was almost nine. None was seen in the hall. I felt terribly sleepy and straight went to bed in my room.

Next day was Sunday. I woke up late. Coming down I met every body in the break fast table. “ Good morning Maria!” Dad addressed and asked “ How was the Birthday party?”

“ Oh! Dad. It was fantastic. I enjoyed beyond my expectations. They will invite you and Mom to show the paintings made by Mom of Indigo. You couldn’t imagine those looked like photographs not hand painted. Oh! Mom, I enjoyed so much. It’s a beautiful memorable day.”

Mom told “ Last night you went to bed early. Coming from school I couldn’t meet you. Today your Dad will be going to an Auction sale of precious old oil paintings. I have some urgent work to finish, I am unable to accompany him. If you wish you can come with your Dad.”

“ Thanks Mom. But today I will have to finish my home work as yesterday I have done nothing .”

“ Okay my child. Complete your lessons.”

Laura was serving breakfast. Without any context she spoke, “ Maria! I didn’t notice you neither to leave nor to be back. About to nine I went upstairs and discovered you asleep in your room. You are a magician. When your parents came you were in deep sleep.”

I didn’t like the comments of Laura. I told Mom, “ You will be surprised to know, Mom of Indigo is a great painter. I saw a masterpiece paining of Rainbow painted by her. She runs an Art School. She has named her house ‘Spectrum’. You will love to meet her.”

“Sure. I must meet her. Tomorrow you can bring your friend to our house. When Me or your Dad will go to pick up you from school, she can come with you. We will drop her back to her house.”

I was delighted and nodded cheerfully.

* *

Next day Indigo didn’t come in the School and as she didn’t turn up for the whole week I was really worried. As I inquired whether other classmates had any information none could even remember her. On other hand they told they had not seen any new girl named Indigo. I couldn’t convince them that she attended class for three days and occupied the seat next to me. Also, I had gone to her house to enjoy her Birthday party.

* *

One week had passed. Next Sunday after breakfast Mom asked my Dad to bring the Painting bought last Sunday. Whole week went so busy Dad didn’t have time to unwrap the painting. Mom and I were eagerly waiting . Unwrapping, Dad put the painting on the table and I was spell bound.

I yelled ” it’s the same painting “ Rainbow” painted by Mom of Indigo and was hung on the wall of the hall where I attended the Birthday party of Indigo. Mom, just look at the right corner at bottom of the picture. It is written Sonia, Spectrum. Sonia is the name of Mom of Indigo and ‘Spectrum’ the name of their house. I told you that day.”

Instantaneously Dad drew our attention “ See, the date of the painting written: March , 1925.” Immediately my Mom reacted “ Oh ! Sonia! Sonia was the name of my Great Grandma. She was an Artist. My Mom used to tell that she had re-incarnated through me and that’s why I have special knack in drawing and painting.”

I felt scared “ Then? Had I attended Ghosh party boarding a vintage car? I gifted her chocolate box and she returned the box by filling with raisins brought from their farm. I am showing you. I rushed to my room and got the box. It was sealed. Mom opened. There was no raisins but all chocolates!.

Mom told “ So! Box was not opened at all. Maria, I think your attendance in Birthday party was not real but virtual. Your experience was true as this painting is real . You were neither aware of ‘Sonia’ nor about the house named ‘Spectrum’ beforehand yet you had witnessed! Might be in dream or in your wishful imagination.

“ Was Indigo a ghost? Why was she interested about me ?”

“ Not necessarily. I don’t believe in ghost but I believe in ‘Soul’ or ‘Consciousness’ which is immortal. It’s a self realisation not to be explained with proof. So far my realisation and knowledge acquired from researchers or experiences of others, I think on journey of life, small part of conscious energy is manifested through physical existence. Major part is stored somehow and can be manifested through virtual existence in other places.”

“ So! Part of Consciousness of soul of Indigo has interacted me as I have that experience which can’t be denied! I visited the house Spectrum, enjoyed party and saw the same painting made by Sonia How was that possible ? Why soul of Indigo wanted to interact ?”

“ Quite possible both you and Indigo own parts of same soul. Think, nobody has seen you to board a car to go out. Laura specifically told that. She had not seen you to re-enter in the house. She holds the idea that you were tired and slept early. The chocolate box remained intact. Might be all happened in your dream. Remember you told you were feeling drowsy at the prime time of your departure. Or you had a virtual venture to Spectrum guided by super natural power of your soul. Because your experiences revealed some facts that can’t be ignored.”

“ But why Indigo had chosen me to be close. Is it true we own fragments of some soul ?” “ Another explanation can be concluded. Might Indigo be re-incarnated through you! Some super natural power has allowed you to visit a day of your past life.”

I inquired “Then? Was Indigo your Grand mother?”

“ No. Violet was the name of my Grandmother.”

Dad smiled and told “ We have shifted to this new house last year . Let’s name it SPECTRUM .”

He called Mason to put a marble tablet at entrance gate with inscription SPECTRUM.

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