Monthly Archives: May 2015

Finding Inner piece

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“Now,  VayuMukt-Asana”, our Guru, clad in barely-there spandex, led us.

Watching her , I wonder if she has a spine. Her ribs poke out as she gets into position.  I wonder if she has any flesh.

The Guru’s stare brings me back to my lumpy self. I contort into… a ball of cotton. That’s the best I can do.

“To find my inner chakras”, “To open my third eye”, “For Inner peace”, my classmates responded when asked why they wanted to learn yoga. Me? I just want to find my bones.

“Next, we are going to do the “SuckYourOwnTail-asana”.

I quit.

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This  exactly 100 word story is written in response to the 100 word photo challenge and “double-dare” posted by Rochelle Wisoff-Field each week.

Click on the ‘blue frog’  below to read other amazing takes, that fellow Friday Fictioneers have, on the same photo prompt.

Visitors

© 2015, Barbara W. Beacham© 2015, Barbara W. Beacham

The only residents remaining in the small town of Miners Hill are spirits.

The rest, all visitors ,blow in and out , not knowing their merits,

Like dry leaves drawing the wind’s signature,

they let greed be their ligature,

binding earth to their trash,

crying when one amongst them turns to ash.

The rest, all visitors , of no substance -just glitz, forgets

that the only residents remaining in the small town of Miners Hill are spirits.

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The above poem was in response to ‘Monday’s finish the story’ flash fiction challenge. This unique flash fiction challenge  provides  a new photo each week, and the first sentence of a story. The challenge is to finish the story using 100-150 words, not including the sentence provided. Details are available in this link:

https://mondaysfinishthestory.wordpress.com/2015/05/25/mondays-finish-the-story-may-25th-2015/

The Lotus leaf

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Gautama sat under the shady banyan tree meditating, contemplating the cause of all human misery. After decades of contemplation he arrived at an answer:

“The root cause of all misery is attachment. One’s mind needs be detached from life, like water on a lotus leaf”.

A drought-stricken village buzzed with the news of the enlightening discovery:

“Gautama has found the cause of all misery!”

“Let’s go hear it. Maybe now we can save our failing crops. Our dying cows!”

They all packed to go, except Sudama. He continued to dig a well ,undeterred by the unrelenting sun. Beads of sweat glinting like diamonds, rolled off  his torso, like water on a lotus leaf.

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The above 113 word story , set in ancient India, is based on religious quotes on Lotus leaves/water from the Bhagavad Gita and Buddha’s quest for enlightenment.

The ‘Gita’ has a quote which roughly translates to :  “One who performs his duty without attachment, surrendering the results unto the Supreme Lord, is unaffected by sinful action, as the lotus leaf is untouched by water.”

This is written in response to the 100 word photo challenge posted by Rochelle Wisoff-Field each week. PHOTO PROMPT – © Santoshwriter

Click on the ‘blue frog’  below to read other amazing takes, that fellow Friday Fictioneers have, on the same photo prompt.

That’s an order!

© 2015, Barbara W. Beacham

The crew of the Angel Flame received orders to head out. Their captain gathered them and said:

There will be times when you feel

like a tiger swimming with sharks- way out of your element,

desperately wanting to come up for air – a torment.

There will be times when you have to

dive in and let yourself sink -into oblivion,

live beneath the surface, barely breathing- a mere pawn.

There will be times when your

screams don’t reach your ears – muffled by layers that cushions you,

weighed down by unreasonable demands – more than a few.

There will be times when you

won’t know which way is up – an unfathomable darkness,

 searching for light – tethered to an invisible  harness.

There will be times when you want to

paint the ocean pink –   fighting all the blues,

try to find your feet then and put on what life gave you -a perfect pair of shoes.

 

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The above story/poem was in response to ‘Monday’s finish the story’ flash fiction challenge. This unique flash fiction challenge  provides  a new photo each week, and the first sentence of a story. The challenge is to finish the story using 100-150 words, not including the sentence provided. Details are available in this link:

https://mondaysfinishthestory.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/mondays-finish-the-story-may-18th-2015/

Word count: 141 excluding sentence provided and title.

Where’s the tip?

PHOTO PROMPT -© Marie Gail Stratford

“Archaeologists believe this was built by Druids around 2000 BC .They think it’s their Fertility God. Can anyone guess why? ” I asked , snickering, pointing through a fence that kept inquisitive tourists far away.

My story normally  turns juicy now and everyone would be in splits at my Phallic jokes. Good laughs equals good tips. Most importantly no questions on the story’s historical authenticity. Just then I noticed the tween girl . I had forgotten all about her!!!

It wouldn’t be proper. My snicker turned sober. I mentally scrapped the usual script. Today my tip jar would be empty …like that grain silo turned Fertility god by the Tourism department gods.

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The above 108 word story is written in response to the 100 word photo challenge posted by Rochelle Wisoff-Field each week. PROMPT -© Marie Gail Stratford

Click on the ‘blue frog’  below to read other amazing takes, that fellow Friday Fictioneers have, on the same photo prompt.

Edge

© 2015, Barbara W. Beacham

Arriving at the beach, she reflected on her life. It seemed the earth had given way at her feet often, stranding her on top of precipitous cliffs. Life’s incessant strife had eroded her strength, faith and hope. She stood on the edge of the rocky shore.

The daily grind faced her like a vicious beast growling, foaming at the mouth with malice. Should she end it now? Walk into the ocean until the toes no longer touch the shifting sands? Can she drown herself if she knew how to swim?

A tide of emotion swept her out , far from the shore to answer all her questions. She felt a nibble , then another. A school of small fish were nibbling at the callouses of her sole, tickling her. She couldn’t stop laughing until there were tears in her eyes. A wave lapped it up as if the ocean wasn’t salty enough.

She swam back ashore.

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The above story was in response to ‘Monday’s finish the story’ flash fiction challenge. This unique flash fiction challenge  provides  a new photo each week, and the first sentence of a story. The challenge is to finish the story using 100-150 words, not including the sentence provided. Details are available in this link:

https://mondaysfinishthestory.wordpress.com/2015/05/11/mondays-finish-the-story-may-11th-17th-2015/

Word count: 145 excluding sentence provided and title.

Are Mothers overrated?

Are mothers overrated ? Are we attributing too much credit to the mother’s upbringing for an individual’s success?

I hear responses like: “What kind of stupid question is that?” , “yes , a mother is responsible for her child’s success and character”

My husband used to be ( maybe secretly is)a  firm believer in this theory of full Maternal accountability.

“I owe who  I have become to my mother”, he say proudly gently urging  me to  compete with his mother to “fix” my sons ….I mean our sons.

“If the child behaves badly then it’s the mother’s fault” he continued, to make me understand my full maternal accountability and responsibility.

“So, that negative quality of yours is due to your mother”, I asked innocently naming one trait. (He’s nearly perfect ….nearly …)

“No. That’s just me . Not listening to my mother  . She was still patient and consistently tried to correct me.  I didn’t listen ” he explains very logically.

“So a mother can only do so much and the child is ultimately accountable for their choices . Then why should the mother be blamed when a child does something wrong?” I ask equally logically.

“Didn’t your mother teach you not to argue for the sake of arguing?”, he asked.

“she did. That’s just me. Not listening to her “, I say….logically or illogically depending on your perspective . (It’s not easy living with me when I’m logical …Can u imagine how it will be when I’m illogical? Poor man…)

The prevalent logic apparently is that your mother is faultless and everyone else’s mothers is responsible.

You can get put on a pedestal as a mother but it’s a long perilous climb that you need to go alone and be ready to take the fall if something beyond your control happens …like a small gust of wind.

A mother does not raise a child in a vacuum . She had no control of the genes that she passed down. Or the genes she picked to partner with. She has no control on the environment, the  supporting infrastructure of teachers , the kids in her child’s class and the list goes on.so many factors went into who you are today and the mothers role is everything and nothing at the same time.

She can be the framework of unconditional love . A role model. A friend . A coach . But we all needed more than that to be who we are.  Much of it was our choice on how to use that framework and draw strength from it or not to.

This mother’s Day ,I want to say “don’t overrate the mother and blame her if things don’t go the way you wanted “.

Take responsibility for your choices and go celebrate that unconditional love of a mother who carried you in her womb, went through agonizing pain to give birth to you, lost sleep trying to feed and raise you and …..who takes blame for all your failings . Don’t fail her!

Have a very Happy Mother’s Day !

Crazy!

“Did you brush?”

“I did!”

“I didn’t hear the water run”

“You go : ‘save water‘, ‘don’t let the water run‘. Now, You want me to let the water run huh? ”

“The brush is bone dry”

“I dried it”

Go brush NOW!

“You’re crazy you know!” I say and stomp away.

Mother is crazy. You can see it in her eyes when she stands over me at the Orthodontist. Laughing maniacally. Clicking pictures. Taking videos.  Who does that?! It’s so embarrassing!

You’re crazy” I want to scream.  As if she heard me, she giggles , “Yes, I’m craaaaaaazy!”. She sings that all the way home. CRAZY!

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The above 104 word (true life )story is written in response to the 100 word photo challenge posted by Rochelle Wisoff-Field each week. PHOTO PROMPT – © Madison Woods

Click on the ‘blue frog’  below to read other amazing takes, that fellow Friday Fictioneers have, on the same photo prompt.

My secret Heroine

Note: I’m exorcising a very deep anger here in an effort to find healing and to move on. An anger many women can relate to. The story, situations and character descriptions may change but the underlying theme has been male aggression and their privilege to exercise that aggression.  If you don’t want to read about the need for Feminism, please stop reading here and save yourself some time.

We had a pet dog called Jimmy. She was such a intelligent, kind and friendly dog. Everyone in our neighbourhood treated her as they would a family member. She was loved and respected in society.

One day a little kitten , barely a week or so old strayed into our compound. Now this kitten had just learned to walk and was probably not yet weaned off her mother’s milk. An innocent baby in every sense. Let’s call her Kitty.

What happened when the Intelligent and kind-hearted older dog , a mother of two litters, well fed dog, beacon dog of society, met Kitty? Ofcourse, the deep bias inherent in dogs against cats came out. She started to bark and attack Kitty. I watched Kitty go towards Jimmy still friendly, curious and playful thinking Jimmy’s aggression was a game. Kitty was too young to even understand aggression. She must have only seen in her brief life  the loving care of the mother and she must have projected that image of loving , playful benevolence on Jimmy. The image of that  innocent moment is still etched in my mind.

When Kitty playfully approached Jimmy , she got even more aggressive and went to attack Kitty. Kitty realizing half instinctively that something was wrong , ran to a corner of the compound into an outdoor toilet. She was cornered by Jimmy  who was blocking the entrance. I tried to go near Jimmy to pull her back. But she was so aggressive and snarling, ready to even bite me that I couldn’t do anything. Now cornered Kitty was still confused on what was happening and reached out gently with her paw, mewing softly. I don’t know cat language but I swear it was a peace gesture. Jimmy was still snarling, growling and aggressive.  Jimmy jaws descended towards Kitty. At that very moment Kitty’s instinct fully kicked in and she grew up in that one second. She realized that she was in grave danger and then lashed out to save herself, scratching Jimmy in the face. In the final moments of Kitty’s life, cornered, her playful and loving gestures rewarded with a fatal bite, her eyes showed a flash of ferociousness that also remains etched in my mind.

In many ways this Kitty , her short life cut short by the much adored and loved and lauded Jimmy ,is my secret heroine. No, she didn’t win that battle but that last moment of ferociousness inspires me to this day to fight for myself irrespective of whatever corner the “Jimmys “of my life push me into and however the bleak the prospects of survival may seem.

Yes, I have had a fair share of such “Jimmy’s” in my life. My girl friends too. These “Jimmys” have attacked us with preconceived notions, gender bias, stereotyping  and misunderstanding pure innocence. They have snarled like dogs. Put us in corners. Most of these ‘gentlemen’ walk around in society with their heads held high , lauded and congratulated. Loved. Successful. They go unpunished ,without a scratch. When I see that my blood boils on the injustice because no one knows what they did or even if they knew no one cares that much. Being aggressive or mean to a girl/woman and triggering fight or flight responses is not a crime unless a punch was thrown or there was actual physical contact . Even then we see women struggle to get the justice in court for those offences.

This male aggression towards women, that falls just short of the legal definition of abuse…  is so insidious.  So difficult to fight. So difficult to forget. So difficult to forgive. It has been years since some of  those incidents happened but the wounds open up every time I encounter that abuser’s apparently successful life.

Like, when I see my college ex-principal being lauded for something, I want to fling rotten eggs at him to demonstrate his rotten mind. This man had retired from the Indian Air-force as a high ranking official.  He joined our college as a Head of the computer science department in our second year. Became the vice principal in our third year and Principal in our fourth year. In each year, a bunch of girl friends and me ended up in at least one situation where he was yelling at us for literally nothing. For a couple of girls smiling at each other in class. You may think I exaggerate. Everything  I have written here is exactly as it happened. I have enough male witnesses, who saw yet didn’t  care.
 

The following year, when he called a bunch of us girls into his office to scream at us when a male lecturer complained to him that we were  talking loudly in a hallway, he showed his true colours. He said, ” I know about the characters of you girls (as in bad character). Your seniors have told stories about you”.  Now these same seniors vandalized the girls bathroom with lewd drawings and etched our names in desks with slurs. Why was this refined, older gentleman , a father of a daughter, ex-guardian of the nations skies,  listening to adolescent boys carrying erotic made-up tales about teenage girls? Didn’t he have any common sense to know what is true and what is false? Does he know that talking normally  in an almost empty hallway/building , when there was no electricity, would be loud without the hum of the 100s of electronic equipment? Does it need a telling-off?  Was it even appropriate to scream at girls about their character based on a rumour and how is it related to talking in a hallway? Now, we needed to get out of the college with a ‘Good Conduct certificate’ signed by that man to graduate . So yes, we were kind of cornered, so we endured it. He would have continued his angry rant if I had not started crying after about 10 minutes of that rant. Oh! how I hate myself for crying.  I was crying out of uncontrollable anger on the injustice and and helplessness that I couldn’t scratch his face off.

And then there was this other man a few years later who said that he will destroy me, crush me , ruin my life if he so chooses. It was just a matter of his choice he said when no one was around.  I did nothing to deserve that aggressive threat. “Really, you did nothing?” I can hear someone asking. I can also hear some women say that they believe me. I did nothing more than what Kitty did when she accidentally crossed paths with a species way different from her own. I walked away from him , without even uttering a word, with the grace of a grown up cat on a high compound wall, above reach from the snarling dog below. However coolly I walked away, it was like walking on a high-razor-wire . One misstep is all it can take to plunge to ruin. By this time, I had learned not to cry…to control that anger, channel it, trap it like molten lava in the Earth’s belly.

We continued to love and care for Jimmy after she murdered Kitty. “It’s her nature”, my dad said: “She’s just a dog. What can you expect”. But it was our fault, we never put Jimmy on a leash. No negative feedback loop to discourage unwarranted aggression. So if you can’t help but  love one of these human ‘Jimmys” in spite of fully knowing their ‘nature’, I empathize with you. I understand that a man is more than his gender bias or moments of stupidity. But the lowest moments are how people are judged. Like Bill Clinton. Did I hear someone snicker ? So for all of your sakes you need to  put a leash on him and do something to prevent such aggression. Else you are equally guilty.

I’m  attempting to convert this smouldering anger into a constructive force hoping that by writing about this, at least one person who reads this recognizes and stops their negative behaviour /gender bias or if you witness such incidents to “pick up a leash”. Or if you are cornered like Kitty, know that you need to act ferociously. The incidents I have mentioned are just two of a longer list. The reason I picked these two is because both were senior citizens with a solid standing in society with enough life experience, and had  raised a daughter of their own.  Pillars of society. Yet, they showed bias and aggression towards another man’s daughter with little to no provocation.

I want to say this to all those men, who thought they had me cornered: Just because you are roaming around in society freely, respected, loved, just like my dog Jimmy, doesn’t mean I was afraid or will ever be afraid of you. I would continue to be cautious around you for sure…as I would be with any rabid dog on the street.