Contest #154 winner 🏆

159 comments

Romance Historical Fiction Desi

Your eyes pour the moonlight on my path as I turn my back to you. In the dead of the night, I walk with my family, away from my home, my street, my town, and what was till yesterday- my country.

There are other families with us. Snaking their way to Lahore railway station. In fear, pain, and certainty that their lives are not theirs anymore. It can be cut, morphed, or smoked out within a matter of seconds. Even if they get on that train to Amritsar and arrive there in one piece, they would just be a wisp of what they once were.

I walk. With a volcano in my chest where my heart used to be. My heart is left crying on that terrace. The terrace where we used to meet under the moonlight. When it was still the moon that lit up the night. When your head covered in hijab was still in my reach. And the moon in my cupped hands was still in your reach.

I carry a small load on my back as others. It will help us in getting to a new nation that is about to be my nation. And build a new life. From the ruins of a life that has been uprooted.

The air is still. A rare gust of wind brings the acrid smoke. And wails. From people unknown. From the far end of the town that I can no longer call mine. I doubt if it would ever be yours either. You may be too numb to its embrace.

My family moves in a huddle. Alone, amongst a sea of people. Clutching each other’s hands. As if we could be more lost than we already are. My father, mother, brothers, and sisters are watchful, looking back every now and then-half expecting the earth they are walking on to swallow them.

We cross the end of the road, the edge of the town, and the border of the wilderness beyond. But I know you are still watching me. With your eyes as dry as mine, your spirit as broken as mine, and your heart trying to console itself on that terrace.

The terrace I can never go back to. And you may never go back to.

All because a man drew a line. Quashing the hearts to choose a side; pulling the threads it had formed till they snapped, shattering it. Brushing the fragments under the carpet of darkness.

I have walked to the brink of what held us together. After this turn, you will not be able to see the speck that I have become now. The speck that has entered the vortex created by time.

Will we ever meet again? I don’t know. But know this, till there is skin on my back and breath in my lungs, the air around me will whisper only one name – Yas…min.

***

When the news of your family leaving town made no ripples in my family, I knew we were never meant to live together.

I leaped up the staircase to the terrace, to meet you for one last time. You were there. Forlorn. The full moon weighed down on us. You didn’t dare to cup him to give me.

You just uttered three words- “Jasmine, forgive me”. It made my world crumble around me, slowly, one brick at a time. I didn’t say a thing. There was nothing left to say.

You left. With your family. Along with many others. Turning your back to me. Walking away from a new nation that had turned its back on you.

You didn’t look back. Till you reached the very edge of the drop from where you could never climb back. Not in near future.

I hoped you will stay safe. When you walked through the rubble and dodged the murderous mobs baying for blood. When you squeezed into the train. Till you reached Amritsar.

I know it will be a hard life for you. You will have to find a new place to call your home. New job to sustain your family. And a new heart to start making threads. Tying you to new soil, people and life.

I wish you find someone to give the moon to. If not on a terrace, maybe by the campfire; to laugh with and share your stories before partition. And never stumble at my name when doing so.

I thought I would never go back to the terrace. But you see, that is the thing about the people who get left behind. They have to revisit the terraces, houses, and streets that led to their hearts shattering into a million shards. And smile, even as the shards pierce their soul.

Time will flow. Upstream. For me. But it will flow nevertheless.

A young woman cannot live alone. Not in this town. There will be talks of my nikah. It will be to a good man. There is no escaping it. I hope I would have grown a new heart by then. One that wouldn’t beat the syllables of your name- Ra-aj. For his sake.

Seasons will change and I will be a mother to the children of a not-so-new nation. They will be taught about how gruesome the partition was and how the other community turned into traitors and had to be driven away. They will grow with venom in their hearts for the footprints you left behind.

If I grow a voice back, I will tell them- no home is more wrecked than the one where brothers turn into enemies.

I will still have hope in my heart. No, not about ever meeting you again. But the line that ripped us apart will become blurred and the angry little men will be lulled in the vortex of time. Maybe not in our lifetime, but someday.

Till then know this. I never believed the moon could be mine, but I never doubted you wanting to pluck it for me. Some things are beyond the reach of lines drawn by the man- moonlight and madness.

July 15, 2022 05:53

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159 comments

Suma Jayachandar
15:28 Jul 22, 2022

Dear Reedsy When I took the road to creative writing in a non-native language, it was purely out of my love for the art. I never thought my work would receive the kind of love I experienced on this site. Thank you so much for just being there!

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J.C. Lovero
22:49 Jul 22, 2022

CONGRATS on the win, Suma! So glad to see your work receive the recognition it deserves! (and you know how much I love me a good romance story)

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Suma Jayachandar
05:10 Jul 23, 2022

Hey J.C. So good to hear you cheering me on! Thank you for all the encouragement along my journey.

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Suma Jayachandar
06:01 Jul 15, 2022

The partition of India in 1947 led to one of the bloodiest exoduses in human history. This story is based on a news clipping about two young lives drawn into the vortex. This is a creative interpretation and has been kept short. I did not add too many details as I wanted to be respectful. This is a heartfelt tribute to Yasmin and Raj.

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02:52 Jul 20, 2022

Suma! This was so beautiful and poetic. I loved so many of the lines, but I think this was my favorite — “After this turn, you will not be able to see the speck that I have become now.” That image was so powerful amid the narrative of “ill-timed” love Well done! 👏👏👏

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Suma Jayachandar
09:07 Jul 20, 2022

Hannah, Thank you so much. I wasn't very sure about posting this story as it is very short. But I'm so happy it is receiving so much love😊 Thank you for your kind words.❤️

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12:46 Jul 20, 2022

Don’t ever be nervous because of length, you don’t need a lot of words to tell a beautiful story! You did an amazing job 😊❤️

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Suma Jayachandar
16:51 Jul 20, 2022

Aww thank you!

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Daniel R. Hayes
05:37 Jul 20, 2022

Hi Suma, this was wonderfully beautiful and amazing. You did a great job writing this and I thought it worked with the prompt perfectly. It was time well spent, and I loved it!! :)

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Suma Jayachandar
09:09 Jul 20, 2022

Hi Daniel, Thank you so much for your generous appreciation. I'm glad you loved reading it and took time to comment on it. Thank you!

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Wally Schmidt
23:59 Nov 30, 2022

What a heartbreakingly beautiful story. I loved how each of the lovers reacted to the same event. The man, who must undertake the journey, remains steadfast and the woman who stays behind moves forward with this new reality of their lives. Your prose is moving and I look forward to reading your other stories.

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Suma Jayachandar
03:36 Dec 02, 2022

Thank you so much Wally. I appreciate you taking time to read and appreciate the story.

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Yuvraj Dev
16:05 Nov 30, 2022

This short story is AWESOME! I LOVE IT!

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Suma Jayachandar
03:35 Dec 02, 2022

Thank you!

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San R
07:32 Nov 07, 2022

Hey, I liked your writing very much. This is the first short story I read of yours, and I am hooked. I am now eager to read all of your stories.

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Suma Jayachandar
04:50 Nov 08, 2022

Thank you for your kind words. Welcome to Reedsy!

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Bianca Cosip
22:37 Oct 12, 2022

Where this happen story Chaacter and their roles in the story

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21:06 Sep 24, 2022

SUMA!! I am so late to congratulate you, but 👏👏👏 this was a beautiful story, and you deserve to have your writing highlighted. ❤️❤️❤️

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Suma Jayachandar
09:41 Sep 27, 2022

Thank you so much, Hannah❤️

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Salmah Ahmed
20:36 Sep 15, 2022

I read this a week back, wanted to comment but my toddler distracted me( as usual) and see I'm back which shows this stayed with me. Ordinary people from both sides of the border bear the trans-generational trauma of partition, but despite the madness, love will always triumph!

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Suma Jayachandar
04:38 Sep 16, 2022

Thank you!

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Becky Baynes
09:57 Sep 15, 2022

This is truly beautiful. I'm very moved. Thank you.

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Suma Jayachandar
01:04 Sep 16, 2022

Thank you so much for your kind words.

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Graham Kinross
09:07 Sep 05, 2022

This is really interesting. I mostly know about the partition from watching Ms Marvel on Disney Plus. It’s amazing how many times some genius has ruined lives and split families by thinking a country would be better split up. India. Germany. Ireland. The Gaza Strip. History repeats and no one learns the lesson. I hope that someday the lines on the map that people take so seriously become less important. It’s a ridiculous way for the world to work. Not that I can think of a replacement but it leads so so many conflicts and rivalries. Needles...

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Suma Jayachandar
09:26 Sep 05, 2022

Thank you for your kind words.

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Thando Lwethu
18:39 Aug 29, 2022

Can i get a exposition and summery of your short story ❤

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Shlomo Ben Zvi
00:18 Aug 22, 2022

This is more a poem than prose. Beautiful writing. If you weave the same style, mood, imagery into a complex narrative that would make a great novel.

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Suma Jayachandar
11:16 Aug 22, 2022

Thank you so much for your kind words.

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Mia Fitzpatrick
04:35 Aug 20, 2022

Short, however powerful. The description is incredible. Strong feelings were felt reading this. Great job.

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Suma Jayachandar
12:54 Aug 20, 2022

Thank you so much for your generous appreciation 😊

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Audrey Jem
22:04 Aug 17, 2022

"But you see, that is the thing about the people who get left behind. They have to revisit the terraces, houses, and streets that led to their hearts shattering into a million shards." Wow, this line hurt me in the best way possible. I'll carry this line in my heart.

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Suma Jayachandar
12:36 Aug 18, 2022

Thank you so much for your kind words.

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Wajahat Wahidi
06:54 Aug 16, 2022

What a wonderfull story. What an ending. Never read anything like this . Awsome. Beautifull..

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Suma Jayachandar
07:17 Aug 16, 2022

Thank you so much for your kind words.

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Wajahat Wahidi
10:17 Aug 16, 2022

When did you first started writing?

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Suma Jayachandar
05:08 Aug 17, 2022

Maybe when I was a child. Short stories? Regularly? Since last year. Good luck in your literary journey.

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قصص Histoires
21:02 Aug 15, 2022

Love you

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Suma Jayachandar
07:17 Aug 16, 2022

The story loves you back

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Miguel P
15:39 Aug 07, 2022

Very well written. Your narrative brings your character to life in a way that makes you feel she is there talking to you. Keep up the good work!

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Suma Jayachandar
01:08 Aug 08, 2022

Thank you so much for your kind words

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Theresa Jimenez
07:19 Aug 06, 2022

This story is so beautiful, powerful, loved it.

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Suma Jayachandar
14:12 Aug 06, 2022

Thank you so much for your kind words.

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