29 comments

Submitted on 08/04/2020

Categories: General

The city, once privy to the ongoings of my world, now seemed marred by contempt for the world. The star gazing ritual from my rooftop now felt so disdainful; the armchair which used to flawlessly fit my corpulent body now pricked me and reminded me of the unwanted bulkiness; the modestly built teapoy which I adored now appeared tastelessly fashionable.


I looked above; the firmament was a blanket of stars. Stars always made me believe that illusions can be magical. But there was nothing magical about today.


I could have saved Ruth. He saw me, his eyes were fixed on me. I could have shouted, called for help. But I remained there, silent. Staring and then slowly walking away.


When his mother called and asked if I knew why his face was bruised and shirt bloody, I feigned surprise.

But now after three hours to the incident and less than 48 hours before we go away. I wanted to ask him for once and all, if we have parted ways. 

Next day, when the clock struck six, I went to the balcony to catch a glimpse of Ruth on the street, before he came to my room. I chose this time because it's his best time. I had once asked him what his favourite hour of the day was, to which he gave me a bewildered look and said he never thought about it. But I think it's six when the sun is just about to set. 


I saw him, the last rays of the sun glimmering on his face. The street light burnt itself into life. This hour was his, and everything around him accentuated in beauty. I just stayed there until I heard ruffling inside my room.


'So you're all set for the day?' Ruth asked, in his toneless voice. 'You are coming, right?'

I looked at him. He was sitting on the armchair, eyes fixed at the bookshelf, watching the spines of Homers', Dickens', Austens' and Brontes' with an insatiable gaze.

'Yes, maybe,' I reply 

'Maybe,' he repeated slowly after a while as if making some sense of the word.


I know that he would never cajole me into going, my refusal would mean that he simply goes alone. Yet, his tacit expression spoke otherwise- that my presence would be somewhat appealing to him.


The shirt I was wearing was now clinging to my back, sweat tracing the bones of my spine. I got up and opened the balcony door. I touched my face, rubbed the side of my nose and was left with a grimy, oily residue on my hands. Awaiting rain to fall on the now deserted streets, I came back in.


I have been close to people in the same way I have been with myself, but I'm unfiltered chaos by myself, whereas, what others get is an infinitesimal part of that chaos. But with Ruth, my ideas always had an urge to jut out of my mind. But then things changed and I cannot trace back the exact time when everything changed. I looked at him again, and every time I found something new hidden in those wistful eyes, which spoke more than the monosyllables uttered once in a while.


'So why were you fighting those guys?' I remarked in a fervent tone.

'I don't know, the usual.'

'What usual?'

'The usual, usual.'

'Why can't you tell me?

You used to tell me everything when we were kids? What happened suddenly? You are a horrible person, you know that! And if I'm not admitted to your sadness, I don't wish to know your happiness too,' I finished, already regretting those words and turned around.


He stood up, grabbed his crutches and moved slowly towards the bookshelf; his hands reached for a book, his muscles flexed into an arch, like that of an intrinsic piece of architecture; his shoulders were perfect and his hands agile as if to compensate for his languid legs. The acrid smell of pomade which he always applied, reached my nose, and he crumbled down into a chair facing me. I felt miserable for some reason. That smell makes me sad. But he loves it and uses nothing else, almost as if he's afraid that his hair won't be the same without it. 


'And that I did not give anyone the responsibility for my life. It is mine. I made it. And can do whatever I want to with it. Live it. Give it back, someday without bitterness, to the wild and weedy dunes,' he spoke directly looking at me. 'You know who said this? Mary Oliver!'


For some reason, this made me even more vexed. Quoting people and quieting people, that's all he ever did. I did not wish to say anything more and remained silent pretending to write something important.


'Matt, listen,' he whispered with a voice which quivered with a glint of sadness. 'It's just that I don't wish to disclose the most intimate details of my life. They are to be devoured within the heart. So that no one can claim their part. It's my pain, that's the only real thing I can claim for myself. You know when I am sad, I am always thinking about myself. There is this overwhelming feeling which cuts me off from the world. I feel more alive with every step I take, every breath is a mournful celebration. Yes. A celebration, Matt,' he spoke softly, looking at my confused expression. 'Celebrations are meant to make you alive, and this makes me so alive. Maybe that's why I don't hate being sad, nor am I afraid of it. Why should I be afraid of something which makes me more alive and close to myself?' he finished with an ounce of satisfaction and looked at me. Just looked at me. I knew he did not want any reply, it was a look which embarked a new journey, which said here- you are a part of me now, I'm allowing you to know me because -I love you.


'I am going for a walk,' I said, suddenly. 'I'll be back before dinner. Tell mom, if she asks.


He nodded.


I put on my small bonnet because I knew it would rain and did not feel like holding an umbrella.


I went to the park just below our house. There was no one there except a small child with pale blue eyes, crying hysterically. I went over and sat next to him and asked, 'Why are you crying?' looking at the shattered house of cards.


He paid no heed to my presence and continued to bawl. I took the cards and built a house out of it again.


'See, it's okay now!' I exclaimed proudly.


But watching the now perfectly built castle he sobbed harder. His expression was that of bewilderment, accusation and betrayal as if I had done something which shouldn't have been done. Suddenly, I felt a huge droplet hit my nose. I looked above and saw the sky turn black. Within a matter of seconds, it started raining cats and dogs. I saw Ruth peeping through the window, raindrops mapping the curves of his face, reaching his mouth. I wonder how salty it must have tasted. The sound of the rain, the muffled cries of the child and Ruth's innocuous smile, all blended into an inexplicable emotion. It felt like a new beginning.


'Matt,' Ruth called gleefully, 'you know we both got into the same college?'

'Whaaatttttt?'

'Come inside I'll tell you,' he shouted.


The child had stopped crying. He trotted, jerking his tiny head sideways, every time he took a step, leaving the perfect house of cards behind. Well, I think sometimes it's also about leaving things untouched even if they are broken. 


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29 comments

Charles Stucker
17:15 Aug 04, 2020

I can see why you quote Mary Oliver. Your opening sentence, "The city which was once privy to the ongoings of my world now seemed marred by contempt for the world." might be changed to "The city, once privy to the ongoings of my world, now seemed marred by contempt for the world." It still has the ambiguity about which world Matt means in that last word. Is it contempt for the entire world or just his world, the one he built for himself? However by shifting from passive to active, you infer that Matt either is more active or wants to be mo...

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Gopika Ashokan
17:39 Aug 04, 2020

Thanks for reading. Yes, your suggestion for the first line is so apt. I will change it. The first use of 'world' is specifically the world he created for himself, but the second 'world' is used to imply how the confusion and inability to understand himself has led to a kind of disdain for the outside world too. Again thanks a lot for providing your feedback :)

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Adhi Das
16:49 Aug 15, 2020

Good job 👌🏼

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Gopika Ashokan
09:39 Aug 21, 2020

Thanks!

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Jo d. Sans
03:25 Aug 13, 2020

Hi there! Your story was recommended to me by the Critique Circle, and though I am not much of a critique, the email said that by leaving a feedback I might also gain some feedback on my own stories. I thought of giving it a try so, here goes... You got a great command of the language, but there are parts of the dialogue that puts me off. It didn't seem like something I would hear in the real world. To me, it's rather too formal, unless I've read this wrong and that this story is set in a time where talking this way is normal. Otherwis...

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Gopika Ashokan
08:22 Aug 13, 2020

Hey! Thanks for your honest feedback. And I get where you are coming from. As you said there are parts of the dialogue that puts you off. I was forced to ask myself that are these dialogues pretentious, that someone does not use in the real world, or everyday life per se? But the fact is that these conversations do exist in the real world. At least I have had such conversations with many people. Also, talking about my piece I already did set the tone of it as something deep and layered. The characters could have just spoken like people in ...

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Shreya S
08:48 Aug 11, 2020

The starting is beautiful- it just grabbed my attention, and the story did not disappoint. Great work!

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Gopika Ashokan
17:11 Aug 11, 2020

Thank you !

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Karlynn Erickson
14:09 Aug 10, 2020

This is a beautifully written story. Very poetic and meaningful! Thanks for sharing it!

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Gopika Ashokan
17:42 Aug 10, 2020

Thank you for your kind words!

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Deborah Angevin
11:26 Aug 08, 2020

I liked your writing style. I loved the dialogue, as well as the ending. This is a well-written story, Gopika! Would you mind checking my recent story out, "(Pink)y Promise"? Thank you :D

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Gopika Ashokan
11:57 Aug 09, 2020

Thank you so much :) Sure!

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Estelle Westley
06:19 Aug 08, 2020

A good read with good description. I haven't heard the word teapoy in a long time.😀

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Gopika Ashokan
11:58 Aug 09, 2020

Haha, thanks!

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Shivani Manocha
16:46 Aug 07, 2020

A very well-written story! Just one thing. Consider revising the use of en dashes (small dashes) in your story. "I knew he did not want any reply, it was a look which embarked a new journey, which said here- you are a part of me now, I'm allowing you to know me because -I love you." For example, here in this sentence you could have used the em dash in the first place and maybe an ellipsis in the second. This is just what I think. I might be wrong. You are a great writer. Keep writing:)

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Gopika Ashokan
12:00 Aug 09, 2020

Thank you so much ! Really appreciate your honest feedback. I'll take care of these in future. Thanks for reading!

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Khizra Aslam
15:04 Aug 07, 2020

Hey there, I saw that you liked my story so I am here to read yours as well. A beautiful story with a beautiful ending. Especially the last line, that touched my heart seriously. You did a really great job.❤

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Gopika Ashokan
12:01 Aug 09, 2020

I'm so glad you liked it, thanks for reading!

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Tvisha Yerra
20:25 Aug 06, 2020

Loved the story, but just wanted to mention, having more than one punctuation mark (?) is grammatically incorrect. So when you wrote " 'Whaaatttttt??????' " it could be changed to a simple "'Whaaatttttt?'

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Gopika Ashokan
02:53 Aug 07, 2020

Thanks for pointing it out, really appreciate your feedback.

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Kristin Neubauer
19:28 Aug 06, 2020

A very philosophical and intriguing story. There was so much depth to the dialogue and thoughts of Matt and Ruth that I'm going to need to think for awhile. I thought your writing was really lovely - it flowed so easily. I look forward to reading more!

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Gopika Ashokan
02:59 Aug 07, 2020

I'm so glad you liked it. This story was meant to be character driven, as you must have noticed there's isn't a specific plot that one could point out to. I'm really happy that you liked the characters. Thanks for reading!

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Madisson James
18:29 Aug 06, 2020

Your writing is deep and incredible. Nice!

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Gopika Ashokan
03:04 Aug 07, 2020

Thank you so much :)

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Blake Hogen
05:20 Aug 06, 2020

Wow. I love the dialogue and how it’s both saying something literal and yet deeply layered. Also, the vocabulary, as already mentioned, is fantastic.

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Gopika Ashokan
06:42 Aug 06, 2020

I am really glad you enjoyed the story and also thanks for seeing through the layers :)

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Wow, Gopika! I really enjoyed this story! Your vocabulary is good, and your dialogue is realistic. The ending was great too! Great job! Could you please check out my stories when you can? I would really appreciate it! :D

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Gopika Ashokan
04:23 Aug 06, 2020

Thankyou so much for your kind words Sure, will do :)

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