Thursday, November 16, 2006

Submission - 1

This is one of the submissions I had made to the CBA Short Story competition. As might be known ( the better ones won.

Life in black and white

There are things in life which cannot be reversed and that fact gives great solace…
"Are we done? Only the attic is left and I will..." asked Luke.
"I'll do the attic", I interrupted, "Why don't you check on the kids and see if they have loaded their stuff into the wagon?"
He paused for a minute and then agreed with the fluency of the smile that grew on his stubble.

Our attic was a long passage into another world, whose romanticism required us to bow low and walk through its four feet high walls. It spanned the length of our house and captured all the relegated wonders and now useless commodities into a uniform family of memories and sighs.

Stray teddy bears and hose pipes tripped me onto cartons of palm sized squeaky shoes and heart sized t-shirts. I took one long breath of musty air filled with cheerful voices and images of yesteryears: Must these go too?

I crawled towards the far corner where festering cardboard cartons housed things I had well forgotten. I lit a small bulb and opened one dust cloaked box with disgust - old papers. Another one contained moth ravaged curtains and rusting hooks. A few cartons and several sharp coughs and wheezes later I decided that all of these could remain and stay buried under the rubble.

As I turned around on my haunches to return to the pleasant cubes of memories of the euphoria which followed childbirth, I spotted a small suitcase covered in a large checked cloth. What was that? I pulled it out and fell back with the hollow plastic handle in my hand. I sat down and moved the cartons on top of it and opened the suitcase. In its dark interiors lay thick velvet labyrinths of memories wrapped in plastic.

My fingers trembled as I brought these photo albums to my lap, and I blamed it on their weight. I opened one to the traditional South Indian marriage of my parents, the most colourful event of their life captured in black and white, and the important scenes in the then costly sepia. Sepia was common when a smart young man, devoid of wedding finery held aloft a little nappy clad girl, as she happily sucked on her thumb. Eastman colour ruled the roost when she could walk and played with her toys, posing with her cousins. Kodak prints were affordable when she was in college. I put those albums back in the suitcase and picked the smaller convenient pocket-sized albums. Pictures of me while at Kent, while on my first job in Bristol, an occasional picture of my aging parents captured in full ironic detail and colour.

Amidst those albums were envelopes of dread. Envelopes which contained arguments about my marriage to Luke - a foreigner to them and one who transformed them into alien memories for me. Envelopes which informed me of my father's heart attack, of my mother's depression and refusing to accept help from me, of refusing to ever see me. Black and white images and dark ink cleaved the endless attic into pastel memories of my children and shadowy reminiscence of my childhood in India.

Later in the evening I stood with Luke and watched the machines nudge the walls down. I walked over to the man in charge.
"Yes ma'am?"
"Once you're done, it's impossible to get anything out, right?"
"Nope. Buried forever ma'am. You want me to stop for a while?"
"No. Go ahead, flatten her nice and tight."
"Sure ma'am?"
Over the accusing voices from the cartons I shouted hastily, "Sure."


  1. all three submissions were good; the ones that won must have been better.

    but man, the attic story definitely had soem wonderful lines about sepia, eastman, and kodak. i loved it.

  2. Dear AW,
    Thanks. Honestly, I enjoyed these stories myself. Here is a link to the previous winner. Better or worse is very subjective... :-)