Stories that i wrote in the late 90’s and early 2K when every young adult goes through a roller-coaster of emotions….
Butterfly! In its deepest shade of blue wings, with the powdery streaks of silver and black running the span of its wings, it sets off the artistry in every little fluttery creation of our world. It brings to mind what a marvelous conversion of chemistry and biology brings about the making of our winged friend. That repulsive caterpillar which makes the hair on your neck stand when it crawls, stuffing its face all the goddamn time and growing squelchy and fat each moment, which converts to that wormed pupa in its not so pretty cocoon, they don’t really give one the perception of what is yet to come. But come it does in its entire splendor, surprising an unassuming bystander into awakening.
Ranjini loved butterflies. They made her smile. She walked into the crowded backyard with the Chemmanu and the Mallipoo Chedi, the overfull clothesline sagging and groaning with the morning’s load of washed clothes that smelled of an acrid and limey detergent, and the washing stone, wet with years of collected moss, caked with remnants of soap water and a grey alkaline mass of dirt. The saving grace in this over accumulated junkyard, it seems was the serene, tall and overtly green mango tree which in all its greenness and woody branches gave Ranjini an unexpressed feeling of strength and solace that nothing living or otherwise had given her. Every day she climbed the massive trunk of her Manga Maram with the agility that rightfully belonged to a 12-year-old and sat on the lowest branch which came out at an angle of 75 degrees to the trunk. She wedged herself comfortably into the gap it created, just as if it wanted to fit her lower torso in. Here she sat thinking deeply about the wounds that had been inflicted upon her untarnished mind and body. Ranjini was unable to confront the naked fears that her unripe age had asked of her. What was it that made someone so normal as her feel so tarnished and stripped? Entwined in her thoughts of darkness and fear she tried to flee the conscious world around her. This was the only time she got to reflect upon why she had been sold to the Zamindar at the age of 10, to waive of debts her father owed to the master.
How dark her life had become? Dark shadows like ‘black death’ crept up behind her neck each day and breathed down her puny body as if it had a score to settle with her. How the Zamindar, Kandavelu Swamy who had seemed like a second father to her had all of a sudden taken to bringing sick men home and entertaining them. Swamy Ayah, who called her Little Ranju, let these men hurt her. They beat her and tore her clothes off and made her do things she had never dreamed off. Ranju wanted to die but for her puny age, her wisdom was vast and she knew death wouldn’t come. She knew she would not just end up dead even if no one missed her. Her pathetic family was nothing to return to. Ranju wanted to run away, but where would she go? Her father did not want her back. He still had to educate Ranga, her brother, who would earn money for them. If he took Ranju back then Swamy Ayah would flog him for the rest of his life and make him pay his debts back along with insurmountable interests that her father could not afford. So, she had been suffering this ghastly life for 1-½ years now. She wanted to escape. What if she could fly away into the blue sky far up above, into the distant horizon with the orange tinge and the silvery lining? She would not have to put up anymore with drunken men and sweaty bodies pressed forcibly against her and go through the agony of being hurt over and over again.
Ranju shuddered and drew herself into a tight mass as a cold breeze caressed her skin on its journey nowhere. Her eyes settled on a drying, leafy, somewhat warty brownish green cocoon thingy that was struggling and wriggling, writhing from within for some unknown reason. All troubles forgotten her eyes stayed glued to this thingy. What was it? It was ugly, dark and sickening to watch. It was like her life was replaying in front of her, only much worse. How could anything survive such a choked existence? Didn’t it want to perish right there, inside its prison? She had just heard from the bloke on discovery channel that a butterfly came out of a cocoon but here she was watching it now and she hated it with every ounce of life that was contained in her petite body. Yet she stayed and watched the form fighting against itself. Slowly it emerged, a little gooey, icky and unsure of what it was doing. As it emerged completely and tried to take flight, Ranju suddenly realized what it meant. She saw light through the powder blue wings of the tiny butterfly and she knew that it did not perish inside because it had a will to live. Through the darkness it knew the silvery arc of day would eventually come through and rescue the limp form that was to be a butterfly. The spiritual transformation hit Ranju with an intensity that she could not comprehend. She jumped off the branch and ran behind the butterfly, over the washing stone, around the Mallipoo Chedi. She kept following it in hope that it would help her understand better how she could transform into a butterfly too, how she could channel the beauty inside her and regain her life. She jumped over the wall, eyes glued to the fluttering form above her, the entire world and its noise shut out by the effort and concentration.
It happened so suddenly then, she got blown over into the air and fell with a sickening sound of something heavy hitting soft earth. There she was lying in a pool of her own blood as the menacing truck sped past. The soft sand below her absorbed her blood like a thirsty dog, parched and lonely. She tried to smile but nothing escaped her weak lips. She tried to cry but her eyes were too dry from months of crying. Life was leaving her like the same slippery sand leaving the tight grip of the human palm. She had after all attained liberation! Her last view of the world was that butterfly, the blue wings with the powdery streaks of silver and black. It had indeed freed her like it freed itself from the sinful corner, the irksome life she was enduring. Death was not the bat like shadow of fear anymore, but salvation through the flight of the winged fairy.