Love from the road #3

Tea In The Rains

Today it will be a month since I left. I don’t know when you will get this because I’m in a very remote coastal town. I actually have to travel quite a lot just to post this! 

Not that I mind. It’s green and beautiful! It rained here. I wonder if it’s rained there? I think not. It’s only when the winds move from here that they’ll flourish there. 

I suppose, everything has its place and time. 

Image Source 

It reminded me of one of those first dates. That auto with old hindi songs playing, the pitter patter of rain drops, and you. 

You were gently humming to the song, and in that moment, things were so complete. 

I never underappreciated your presence in my life. But I feel I could have been more expressive of my gratefulness. I’m going to actively do that when I’m back. 

The steam rises from my tea. I stopped on a roadside stall to have it. Some rain drops too are mixed with it. We will never be able to tell them apart. And I guess, we don’t need to. 

I’m much more content now. I think the decision to not take my phone along was a good one. But I miss the sound of your voice. Maybe I will have an inkling of that through your reply. I miss you. 

Love from the road #2

It is the early hours of the morning. I am sitting by the side of a flowing stream. Apart from the birds, the rustling leaves, the sound of gently gurgling water and the scratching noise of my pen against paper, there is no other sound. With such silence, the voices inside me become a lot more clear and loud.

Maybe this is why city life is so full of noises? Because we cannot bear to listen what our inner voice is saying?

You know, I was weeping last night. No, don’t worry, I’m all right. It’s just that when I lost dad, being the elder son, I just pushed it all in and stored it away to deal with it later. As I saw the funeral pyre burn, I thought the rites would give me the outlet I require.

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But yesterday, I saw a parent bird teach it’s offspring the tricks of survival. I could not control the burst of tears. I thought of all the good times with dad. I thought of all the time I wanted to spend with him, all the things I wanted to say, ‘when I got the time’. But the time, never comes, does it?

We push away our grief to deal with later, and enter the push on and work or push on and party mode. But later never happens, and all our sorrow and longing grows like rust inside.

I don’t want to lose time with you. I want to tell you over and over that I love you. I miss you each step of my journey, and while I am discovering myself with each passing mile, I can’t wait to get back and rediscover you again.

Love, from the road.

I was returning from work.. it had been a tiring day. I saw that there was a lonely postcard on my doorstep. In this day and age of technology, no one sends these. It was from him. My heartbeat suddenly increased.. it had been days since I heard from him.

With groceries balanced in one hand and my bag in another, I opened the postcard before opening my door.

I really am blessed to have met you. How many girls would put up with a partner who decides to suddenly leave on a road trip, with the vague explanation of  inner exploration?

But I hope you forgive me for my abruptness. I will write to you at every important juncture in my journey. I see you in everything that inspires me – the beautiful colours of the sky as I lie in an open rice field, to the hard work that a weaving woman puts into making cloth.

I remembering insisting that you join me and you said that you can’t, your work needs you. Those children need you. But I think you sensed something before I did:  that I needed to make this quest alone to bring my life into focus. You would have been a comforting presence but what I need right now is hardships that make me think.

Thank you for being who you are. The picture on the other side is that of the first breaking of ice as the summer hits the frozen rivers in the Himalayas.

Love,
Your Wandering Love.

Clues in Crochet – Part 3 – Finale.

Christie and Mr. Mason were stunned and silenced by the sound. They could not believe it. The thugs and their boss – all blown to tithers. Finally, Christie found the strength to speak.

“Mr. Mason, these thugs were the only ones who knew we are here.. and now they are dead.. what will we do?”

“I believe Miss, that this was a devastating design, but nonetheless one for your safety, designed by Madam before she died.. I’m not saying she got the mines placed there – I would have known and so would other people.. but she definitely knew about them.. and she chose to be silent – except for that paper with the codes you’re carrying”.

Christie understood. Grannie might have foreseen that the thugs may get to Christie, and she put it in place so that both Christie and the treasure would be safe and the thugs would be finished off.

However, that still didn’t solve the problem that both of them were tied with rope to the pole, with no sign of human life around. Add to the fact that they hadn’t eaten anything since yesterday.

“But Mr. Mason, for us to get to the treasure or even to get back, we need to be freed of the ropes.. there’s no one around. How will we do that?”

“Oh miss, you do underestimate this farmer.. do you think he would roam about in hostile land without his indispensable tools?”

He then removed a swiss knife, and gradually began to cut the rope. It was a thick rope and it took them a while to get free, but they were eventually untied.

“Now,” said, Christie, massaging her wrists that seemed to be devoid of blood flow, what do we make of this?”

On the sheet of paper was a single line with a sort of code.

Rnd 5: (2 sc in next st, sc in nxt 3 st) 6 times (30 st)

“Any idea what this is, Mr. Mason?”

“It doesn’t sound familiar to me, but we ought to think more. Because if we do not get it right, we may get blown to pieces too. This is a ruthless but necessary part of Madam’s plan, to keep the treasure safe”.

They sat thinking, and chewing some leaves for want of food.

“Oh of course!”, said Christie, slapping her forehead in irritation.

“You know what it means?” said Mr. Mason, rather taken aback by the force of her slap.

“Mr. Mason, this part of the field, is it sort of like a hexagon.. a snowflake?”

“Well, if you think of it that way yes, the borders that the historians made do roughly resemble that shape.”

“This is crochet code, what is written on the paper – and I hope I remember it right, but its translates like this –

Rnd 5 This is the fifth round of the pattern.

2 sc in next st Make 2 single crochet stitches, both into the same stitch.

sc in next 3 st Make 1 single crochet stitch into each of the next 3 stitches.

(…) 6 times Repeat everything within the parentheses 6 times.

(30 st) You’ll make a total of 30 stitches in this round.”

“But Miss.. is there any way to cross-check? If we have this wrong, we can die here and all of Madam’s work will be in vain.”

“I’m afraid not, Mr. Mason. Light-weight objects do not trigger the mines so trying to make such a thing pass over the code-route will yield nothing. We have to take the risk”.

Slowly, they followed the path of the stitches laid out by the code. Christie thought her feat had turned to lead and her heart had stopped beating. She almost thought that with each next step, as they got closer to where the thugs were headed, she would die, blown to pieces by a mine. But she re-instilled faith in herself, believing fiercely in Grannie.

Alas, they reached a block of stones. This was where one of the men had said that the deposits of whatever they were looking for were bound to be.

Christie looked around. What, were they to dig now? They did not have shovels or anything.

Just then, she saw that a block in the stones was of a slightly different colour.

Carefully, she pulled out what seemed to be a wooden box. It was painted so as to camouflage with the rest of the boulders.

She opened it. Inside it was a remote-control like machine with several buttons on it and some sheets of paper.

First she opened the envelope labeled ‘To Christie’.

“Dear Christie,

If you have reached here, my plan has worked. When the historians came, they came with geologists, because here are deposits of a rare metal. No, it’s not gold. It’s Dalenium, this is what they called it after testing. The government that funded the project got greedy and wanted to use the reserves for harmful purposes. This is one of the few sites of the deposits. It can harness a lot of energy, much more efficient than coal. It is found in our fields in a sort of snowflake pattern – regular intervals of branched growth. To make sure that the deposits don’t fall into wrong hands until the current term of government ended, the head historian suggested we carefully mine the area. There would be casualties she said, but it was important to do so.

Soon after, despite her warnings, some of her staff tried fiddling and died in the procedure. We could not say it was the mines that were killing people, so we circulated strange stories. Sadly, the story of the deposits had leaked, and all sorts of people with vested interests started approaching me, directly and indirectly. I knew it was only a matter of days before they killed me in some obscure manner – food poisoning or some such, as I was vehemently refusing to relent to their negotiation. The historian thought it would be wise to leave for now and let the rumors die down.

The remote will help you make your way around the underground pathways that were made when they started digging up for the fossils. Also in this box is an exclusive will stating your ownership over the deposits. Lastly, you can also find information in this Box on Aki Ra, a living legend from Combodia, who has detonated many land-mines in his own country. You can request him to do so for our filed too, if you feel its safe. Along with him, the geologists, historians and of course, Mr. Mason, you should have a way out of this.

Follow the right path, use these resources wisely. You may be able to change the way the world functions, because we need energy for everything. And remember, trouble may be temporarily over, but don’t stop looking over your shoulder.

Yours,

Grannie”.

After reading this, when she looked up, Mr. Mason’s eyes were as misty as hers.

She read the post script –

“Oh, and yes, here are blue and white crochet coatees for you and Mr. Mason. For a change, you won’t have to look for any clues in them. Except perhaps, those of my love for the two of you”.

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A thank you to the follwing websites –

http://idiotsguides.com/static/quickguides/hobbiescrafts/how-to-read-a-crochet-pattern.html

http://www.noob.us/miscellaneous/defusing-land-mines-in-cambodia-scary/

The Aki Ra guy is real and has defused 10,000 land mines in Cambodia. Check out the above link for more.

 

 

Clues in Crochet – part 2!

imagesWhen Christie came to, she was looking into kind old eyes. She blinked. She knew these eyes.

“Oh, my dear, don’t strain yourself. These men bludgeoned you rather hard on the head, I’m afraid.”

Of course, it was the old caretaker, Mr. Mason. Grannie always sang his praises.

“These bad men have been here when Madam was living, and now they want her treasure now that she is dead. They told me you were ill and I was to nurse you until you came to. It seems that they want you to lead them to Madam’s treasure. Tell me dear, is it true? You know where she kept it?”

“I just had an idea that the clues to the hiding place might be hidden in all the crochet work in the house.. you know how grannie loved to crochet, and that’s when they hit me on the head so bad. But who are these men?”

“Local mafia. But that’s not all. They seem to have tied up with some powerful people, who want to get their hands on this land, thus they tried to get you to sell first. But you did not and they also needed you to tell them where exactly to look. They have tried to locate it themselves but their men have just gotten lost in the vast estate, days without food and water and no way to get back. This land is much more mysterious than it looks, and they have finally realized that”.

“But what is this treasure Grannie keeps talking about in the letter?”

“I only know a bit of gold that can be accessed in some spots with rather deep digging. But what your grandmother meant was something entirely different. Even I do not know what it was, but it was more precious than gold. She would ride off early in the morning, and take a different servant each time and a different route each time. We don’t know what it was or how to find it, only you do.”

“But Mr. Mason, surely, they will kill us once they find what they’re after?”

Well, I can safely assume that the purpose of the first crochet was to let me know that the treasure is in the farm, or at least the way to it is, thought Christie.

Now, the second crochet, proceeding to the second room of the house, is an Afghan square in red and white. Towards the north-east of it, is rather a big knot. This can’t be a mistake, Grannie was simply too good at crochet..

“Mr. Mason, do you have a world map around here?”

“What do you need a world map for?” said one of the thugs.

“You hit me on the head, and it hurts even if I think I little. I don’t want to explain myself to a thick-head. I’m doing what I can to find the treasure. No internet connection in this remote place or I’d just use Google”.

“Here you are Miss, a life sized world map.”

“Oh good, now look up Afghanistan, is Kabul sort of towards the North-east?”

“Yes, it is why?”

“Look at this red knot here, this is not a mistake. On the afghan square crochet, Grannie has faintly traced the borders of Afghanishtan, but they have faded with time, what remains is her highlighting Kabul’s location. Are the coordinates of the place given on the map?”

“Yes, its 34.53 North and 69.16 East.”

Good! Is such a spot possible to locate on the farm? I believe that’s where either the next clue or treasure lies”

“If we measure in hectares no, but if we measured in acres, yes.. but that’s still a very vague and vast area to search, it would take days to dig up that patch, that would be towards the end of the farm, mainly our storage units built on infertile land..”

“Wait, what is common between crochet and land? the one unit which is common to both fabric and land..the yard! Think in yards, does it narrow down then?”

“If I super impose the acre plot you mentioned by the yards.. well then those coordinates would point to the tool-shed”.

————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

“Lot’s of dingy tools here, no treasure! Are you sure about this girl? The boss will be unhappy if you’ve led us on a wild-goose chase!”

“You can shove the boss..! Never mind!”

“Look here Miss,A crochet pattern under the toolbox!”

“Oh of course! One of the reasons why crochet is used is to save wooden surfaces from straining from tea cups.. and rust!”

“It’s different from the one’s we saw in the house Miss.”

“Yes, its a tunisian pattern, it’s started with a slipknot.. and then a chain, which you then replicate once the foundation row is made.. but there’s nothing, no clue within this one, as far as I know.. so it must be the method.. Mr. Mason, anywhere near hear where there’s ropes, or chain, or some construction work where foundations are laid, anything of that sort at all?”

“Well, there was an excavation site here, just when I came, I used to see all these learned people around. Madam said they were historians. They were laying foundation for big machines, permanent machines that go into the ground. They were looking for something.. But way too many of them died of mysterious deaths, and so, the work was left and the site abandoned. No one ever went back there, and so that’s why it’s all still there – the half-laid foundation, the ropes used to pull out rocks, the chains used in the digging machines.”

“That’s it then! that’s where the treasure is!” thought Christie, but she still didn’t feel it was right. There was a piece of paper with codes in her hand that fell from the box. What was the use of this?

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

The thugs grinned as the boss stepped down from the helicopter.

“The pretty-face found it boss! The detector is bleeping! We are positive that those rocks there are where the deposits are and what perhaps the historians and archaeologists were after!

“But wait!” said Christie. She and Mason were tied to a pole at the beginning of the site.

“Yeah right! Wait for you to come up with some funny business to stop us now that we are here! Once me and my men get the deposits, we are killing you and this old bugger, a finishing touch! You just wait here and watch!”

“Listen to me, i think this is not as easy as it looks..I think the area is..”

Just then, there was a loud noise, as bits of human flesh flow everywhere. The noise drowned Christie’s voice, but she said it anyway –

“mined!”

Clues in Crochet – Part 1.

Christie shifted her weight from one foot to another. It seemed to take an eternity to swallow the meaning of the letter she had in her hand. Her beloved grandma had passed away. She remembered spending lovely and interesting time in childhood at their country home. While growing up, school and career had taken priority, and her parents were not very fond of Grandma Annie, or Grannie, for short.

The reason why the letter was accompanied by a lawyer, was that Grannie had left the country home and the accompanying farm to Christie. Christie told the lawyer that she would be flying down for the funeral and would only then declare what she wanted to do with her inheritance.

Her parents came over to her studio apartment to frown about her decision to ‘waste money going down that village’. Her father was a banker and her mother, a school administrator. Not that the jobs made them so, but Christie always wondered how she could be the daughter of these two dreadfully boring and extremely financial minded (read: stingy) people.

She believed she inherited her creative streak from her Grannie. Grannie did crochet while Christie did modern art. She did not inherit lots of facial features from Grannie, except for the resolute, stubble nose which could scare people with its determination if it had to. It was doing so now.

Her father ventured hesitantly, ‘christie, dear, you are young..’

‘I’m 30 years old, father’

‘Well, yes, but younger to us, aren’t you? I say there’s no weight in this inheritance business. Why fly down to the downtrodden farm? I think you should do what the lawyer says, sell it to his firm. It will fetch you whatever meager price its worth and you can use that to finance a painting exhibition. It’s about time you had a proper launch’.

Christie raised an eyebrow, as if to say, ‘so now you know Art do you?’

Her mother saw this exchange and before a philosophical discussion on the importance of Art emerged, she chipped in, ‘I know the right thing to do would be to go wish mother her ultimate goodbye, but I’m sure she would understand that we are busy, and that to reach her in that obscure land will cause a lot of ticket fare, dear.. the local church have agreed to do the burial, haven’t they?’

‘Yes they have mother. But there are two main reasons why I need to go. Firstly, the trip is paid by the lawyer’s firm, and secondly, along with the paid trip, he was putting additional pressure on me to give up the land. I don’t like it. Something’s fishy. I think I owe it to Grannie to go see the place once and see if everything is OK’

But, dear..

Mom, dad, you don’t think painting is a real career anyway.. what does it matter if I do take a little break then?

The flight was tedious, but the prospect of seeing her childhood home kept Christie energized.

What Christie didn’t know, was that as she excitedly made her way from the airport to the farmhouse, she was being followed.

She walked into the lovely familiar veranda, where along the birch trees was the swing she would play on for hours as a child. As she crossed the rooms full of old wooden furniture and beautiful crochet adorning the wall, she abruptly came to a halt. There was her grandmother, lying on the hearse, lifeless and cold, a couple of neighbours by her side.

She cried. She howled.

After the funeral was over, the local pastor handed her a letter her grandmother had left for her.

“Dear Christie,

I have an inheritance that goes beyond what is easily visible, something that I used sparingly to get by and to finance the causes I believed in. But there are evil eyes on it, even as I die. That is why, although I’m leaving it to you, you’ll have to search for it, using both wit and memory. Have a good look at the house, I’m sure you’ll know what I am talking about.

Yours,

Grannie”

The letter puzzled Christie. She spent some time looking at it, but it  was clear that it would say no more. She walked back and forth in the house. She looked at each of the rooms. They were simply furnished, and she knew that there were no trap doors or secret passageways.

What was this inheritance then? Where was it? Where were the clues?

As she pondered over this, she looked at the Granny Square crochet hung over the fireplace. She smiled. Grannie sure was quirky, since the farm was square.. and she was a grandma..

Oh wait! Did that mean..

“The clues to the inheritance are hidden in the crochet!” exclaimed Christie

“Good, because you’ll be telling us exactly where the hell to look!”

Before she could identified the source of the voice, she felt a sharp pain at the back of her head and fell forward with a dull thud.

All turned black.

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A struggle?

“Sab kuch commercial ho gaya hai yaar”, she says and waves her hand nonchalantly.

Her friend, sitting across from the table, nods solemnly, sipping expensive wine in an expensive glass, a trademark of being in an expensive hotel. The conversation was about art. Or was it about fabric? Did it matter? They were just whiling away their time, splurging the cash that would last them up until the next ‘job’.

Both of them were high profile escorts. Important men would routinely ask especially for their company. Rita, the one who thought that the world is rapidly becoming commercial, was a favourite of one of the important ministers these days, thus the expensive meals so often. The only problem though, was that he was becoming too attached. He was paying the agency money so that they would not ‘employ’ her anywhere else.

But she could not devote herself entirely to him, despite that. This is why she had called her friend to lunch – to tell her about this development. She had met someone. She had gone to accompany a friend who was a struggling actor to one of the auditions. Often these girls make do in between acting jobs by becoming escorts.

When her turn came, she was to give single auditions and group auditions and many other formalities. She said she would take long. Rita had spotted a guy from one of the ‘parties’ and was uncomfortable. She decided to go to a nearby mall and wait for her friend to get done. Rita crossed all the clothes’ shops with only a quick glance. She needed to dress well for her work, but right now, she needed to indulge her mind.

She went into a book shop. Rita had a fantastical idea that knowledge would save her. She would read anything and everything. From trashy romance novels to those discussing the economy or philosophy or religion, she would read anything she could access. She would become a transparent being in this world of words, symbols of her freedom. She would absorb what others had to say, and form an idea only after she was done reading that book or piece. This helped her to acquire a non-judgemental, and to some, an opinionless taste in books.

But she did have her favourites of course. She did not side with a particular opinion, but rather, some ways of expressing opinion opinion appealed to her more than others. How could we describe it? She did not like it when the writer tried to hoard readers by mindlessly introducing sex or some other desirable trait in the book, neither did she like extremely technical writers who would be very dry regarding what they had to say.

She read them all nonetheless, but she loved those the most who could charm the readers simply, without jargon or glamour, or mindless rubbish. It didn’t matter what these writers were saying, were they anti-religion or pro-religion, whether they were feminists or patriarchs. What was important, was this – they way they spoke their mind. Isn’t that how we function in life, too, Rita would think. There are many things that are not good for us, but we do them because they come across as appealing.

One such writer had just released a book, and there was a huge crowd in the bookshop. Rita just remembered this, and cursed herself for not coming sooner. She ran into the bookshop and asked for a copy of his book. Why was this writer special? He never put up his picture, and most people assumed that the current name was not his real name either. His books were about nothing in particular, and everything. It was a commentary on various aspects – on the social world, the political system, romantic love, the efficiency or inefficiency of Greenwich Mean time.. about everything under the sun. Why people liked him was often a mystery to critics. But it was true that his opinions were informed ones, and he was well-read, and if possible, had worked in multiple fields to know so many things so well. But he told them like you would discuss the weather over chai.

As a result, the readers did not feel overwhelmed and reduced to nincompoops. They felt like they were talking to a friend. A wise friend. And because he often jumped topics, yet linked them well, in so obscure way, they never got bored. When his first book came out, the publishing house that supported this venture was ridiculed by the who’s who of Literati. But later they realized that this small little publisher was growing, thanks to the sales by this writer. They were solidly guarded of his identity however. No matter how much the newsfolks tried to dig, by hook or by crook, they would not let go.

As a result, this writer had become a new-age guru of some kind. The critics slowly started to accept that he was influential. Often, they would fight over the genre he wrote. He used fiction too sometimes, at other times it was narration of his own life, or his observations, or hard facts broken down for understanding. Such was the enigma who’s book Rita wanted to buy. However, she saw that there was only one copy on the shelf. She ran to grab it.

However, she saw that the other end of the book was grabbed by someone else. A moderately hairy arm, it was a man. Youngish – late 20s, glasses and a creased shirt, with cotton pants. He looked like a voracious reader. He was about to say something when Rita interrupted him.

“Can you please let me buy this book? I may not be able to go out for several days after today, and this is the largest bookstore and they are running out of copies. Please? I’ll pay you double the amount of the book so that you can buy two copies for yourself, tomorrow? Let me take this one?”

Many things went through the young man’s mind. For instance, what was the logic behind buying two copies? He shrugged it off. Maybe the girl was just flustered. He said he would let her have the book, if she had coffee with him. Rita was taken aback. Nerds had social skills? Lack of opinions meant that Rita still hadn’t challenged the stereotypes in her head. She agreed. It was a small price for letter her have the book.

They discussed about many things, hit it off, and one thing led to another, and they ended up exchanging numbers, fixing a date to meet again. He said he was a product designer. She nodded vehemently, not sure whether this was the right time to ask what products he designed.

“Is that what you told him?” Rita’s friend asked, almost near the end of her wine, gesturing the waiter for a refill. “You told him you’re a struggling actor?”

“Well, am I not? I sleep with important men, just like struggling actors have to do. I put on a face with every new man. And if outside of my knowledge, if one of those creeps makes a video of us fucking, it’d complete the story, would it not? I hardly lied,” Rita said, smiling wryly.

Note – I would like feedback if I should continue this story, with a part 2 or end it here? I have several endings in mind that I could use in part 2, if I were to write it.