Friday, December 16, 2011

An Immigrant’s Story - 1

She wakes up sweating. The heat inside the room has gone ablaze. Before the walls close upon her, she hastily removes the comforter. Her eyes adjust to the bare whiteness all around - the walls, the closet, the comforter that covered her and the one underneath, on the carpeted floor. No, the carpet isn’t white. There is a hint of grey in it. The only furniture in the room, a two shelved brown pantry stares back at her. There is a laptop lying there, half open. A modem on the rack below over couple of boxes. And a whole lot of ugly black wires. All entangled. She gets up and touches it. The machine springs to life. Her day begins too, opening a window to the wider world. 

There, outside her window panes, snows start to gather. Soft balls of virgin flakes come pouring on the grey buildings, empty parking lots and the withered branches of bare trees. Soon, everything is wrapped up in a snowy cocoon. The winds stream down the alley once in a while making hushed whispering noise. Silence prevail rest of the time. You may call it bliss. She calls it bereavement.

Far away, in another part of the world, sun sets slowly. Weary passersby wipe the sweat off their foreheads.  An old man gets down from a rickshaw, holding multiple plastic bags filled with everyday items. As he stooped to pay the rickshaw puller, a few stray potatoes spilled from his bag and scattered on the cracked pavement. He looks at them with exasperation and moves on to climb the long steps of his humble apartment complex. On the third floor, sits his wife, waiting in anticipation for his return. The house seems empty and quiet, devoid of the vibrant cacophony that characterizes the city outside. The only mood-changer is the television that never ceases to amuse it’s fellow inhabitants. While the old man was climbing up and the lady sitting down, the television announced the birth of quadruplets in a suburban hospital, death of a Maoist rebel in the jungles of central India, rise of a new hegemony in Belarus, merger of two Wall Street corporations. The last one evoked most reaction from the couple. That’s the corner of the planet that means the whole world to them. That’s where their only daughter resides. Clad in good fortune and glory, she accompanied her husband to America a year back. They say, it’s the place of boundless dreams. Glistening in pride they wait in the mellow lights of the sordid apartment, if she would call today.

While the clock keeps ticking, marking morning to noon, she walks from the bedroom to the kitchen, taking small, lazy steps, fatigued of the stark nothingness that gapes at her in awe. What will she do now? Maybe make a cup of coffee. Maybe try organizing and rearranging the scanty furniture that disturbs the spartanism of the abode. There isn’t a picture somewhere. None on the walls or the small white tea-table or the antiquated wooden television set. She has been thinking about it for some time now. She wants to bring in a plant too, to add a little life and color to her lackluster sustenance. At least she would have a living being to talk to. She doesn’t seem to be seeing any whole day other than her husband who remains so preoccupied in his pursuit of professional wellbeing that she seems almost like an after-thought in his life. She wished he made her busier, even if it was routine work.

She sits on the sofa that they just fetched the weekend before from a bargain showroom. The cushions were from another shop and to her utmost glee the tag mentioned, ‘Made in India’. The cushions are bright red in color with patters in orange and yellow. They transport her back to her old days. Days that were warm, filled up in lights and sounds. Laughter. And a meaning to life. The times with her numerous cousins and friends, of abundant energy, reckless candor and that of hopes and aspirations for a better tomorrow. Her university days, when they would work hard to find a place in the sun. She thinks of the moments with her parents who had lofty dreams about her. They opened all doors for her always, to usher new opportunities her way. They wanted her to hold her head high and make her mark in the world. She thought of her days and nights now. It’s been a year in here; yet, she has no idea what lies ahead, in her new life with a new man in a foreign land with complete unknown prospects and possibilities.

She looks at the snows outside. Out there amidst the white heap sits a tiny little black bird. It nods its head and flies off with utmost urgency. She gets up too, coming out of her daze, strolling down the winding corridor, out of the building in a jiffy. The cold winds splash against her face, watering her nostrils, numbing her senses for a while. She blinks at the dazzling new sun. From there, on that auspicious day she makes that journey.


anncee said...

Very vivid....the immigrant came alive before my eyes!

Arindam Roy said...

In our quest for glory
We fly around the world
Like the long forgotten peter pan
In a different world, if we can
With the world of ours stretched thread bare
What shall we dream, and what we aspire
We are but the shadows of our dreams
And for our future we perspire
The epitaphs have already been written
For us to burn in our beautiful cage
We have been already been smitten
And given up on our dreams as we grow old in age