Chapter 2

Shreya

Walls of high rise apartments assault the eye as one turns into Haralur road off Sarjapur road. The road, a narrow one groaned under the weight of thousands of cars every day, a tremendous strain for its rope like frame. Builders have eaten into the road further and further in, the village of Haralur being rendered a dream of a forgotten past. The rectangularity of it all deadens the eye, as much does the repetition of the Suburbia after a point everything composed of hard edged with hardly a breath of softness or greenery of respite in sight.The pinprick of lights shining from Apartment blocks and street lights,(surprised at their own ability to function) are hardy welcoming and cause nothing but irritation the passing motorist whose ears are already deafened by the hooting of the vehicles which snaked down the road at speeds comparable to thatof a sloth and all motorists deluding themselves with the fact that more noiseis directly proportionate to more movement.

In one such Apartment building lived Shreya, her mother, father and grandmother. The family was having dinner in the dining hall but nobody was speaking. The harsh luminescent light of the florescent lamp was softened in the curly hair that framed Shreya’s face, making it glow softly and gently like a halo. She had a curiously expressionless in her ebony eyes and her face was exotic to say the least with a firm masculine jaw line juxtaposed with delicately arched eyebrows. Though not extraordinarily short, she was of a fine build like a sparrow. Her hand carried out the mechanical task of taking food from her plate and depositing it in her mouth. She was carefully perched on the edge of her seat with delicate toes pointing downwards like a ballerina about to burst into dance. In spite of her seemingly serene posture, she is hardly at ease and the corner of her left eye twitches very occasionally at some unseen nuisance.

Her father chose to break the silence rather unceremoniously and said, “I hope you have finished packing your bag for tomorrow?” Shreya nodded deliberately, and continued chewing her food with some sort of dogged desperation. Her father, not satisfied asked yet again, “Read and understood the first chapters of all your textbooks?” Another slow deliberate nod ensued. Her father’s irritation was palpable to her mother Shika, a nervous woman, who though beautiful, was faded,like a rose dying with only a whisper of its former beauty. Shika chided her daughter saying, “Can’t you even answer a simple question properly? How many times do you need to be told to do things right?” Exasperation clung to Shreya’s eyes, and she answered to a space slightly to the left of her father’s face, “Yes Appa, I have done the reading of the first few chapters of all my textbooks, I have ordered the booklets for the NSO (National Science Olympiad)also. In addition to that I have finished making a study plan for the next 3months.”

The indignant look on her father’s face had now faded away. He was mollified and her mother a fraction calmer. Shreya’s grandmother eyes this entire pantomime, but did not breathe a word about her opinion of it. It was not like it would count for much anyways. Shreya’s father Manjith continued his tirade saying, “You know how lucky you are to have been allowed to take the Theatre elective? You will becoming home from school much later not you know. One entire hour. But we let you do that because we care about our child and her somewhat unnecessary hobbies.” Shreya continued to say nothing. She knew this already. That that empty rhetoric, all that useless rhetoric. Just stated and re stated with the expressed purpose of..of what, does one even need to enunciate that now?  The curls on her head stood out angrily each individual curl with the mythical pointedness of a mechanical implement.  Her silence screamed at him. It said things that words were too meagre to encapsulate, because the intensity of their meaning was too great for the paltry written word to construct.

 Manjith went on,happily oblivious to the fact that he was making his daughter uncomfortable.However at the pulpit of this house he was the only and unchallenged pastor. He went on to say, “We have allowed you to take literature also! That is itself a sign of how much we care. We are okay if you take a redundant subject. It will be the last time you will. Most people do not even consider it a subject. Ask any of you friends. My colleague’s daughter Aisha wanted to do literature. Bala had asked her if she was out of her mind. She did not do literature of course and now Aisha is a Doctor.” Shreya threw her father a parched smile this time. She had taken literature as an additional subject along with Physics, Chemistry and Math. The golden trio for most Indian parents though they would still mourn the loss of biology, sacrificed at the altar of literature. Literature which was what talentless people did, those who were incapable of analyzing the empirical finesse of numbers, equations and definitions. But then again, she would do external courses in Python and C++ programming. It was her parents desire for he to become a computer science engineer, or was it mechanical? There would be the JEE mains to give anyways, that standardized test to which most students.

Her mother,nodded vigorously saying, “Yes, yes. That is for sure though I wonder why you want to take literature….” She trailed off not knowing what to say. Her grandmother got up silently and moved towards the basin. Sensing that it was polite to leave now Shreya murmured something and left the table. On her way to the basin, she saw her grandmother. She had a wasting disorder and it was not getting much better. However, Shreya had a soft spot for the woman who read her the first stories she have ever know. Though speech was a painful thing for her, Her grandmother communicated a wealth of cove and compassion to her granddaughter through her well eyes. Shreya nodded gratefully and left the kitchen.

She walked into her room and took out a diary from her drawer, her she wrote in laborious cursive,

“The last time I will,

The last time I will.

Well, what will?

So I have one still?

It seems like a faraway dream on the ledge of some watercolour window sill.

Some watercolour window sill.”

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