Monthly Archives: February 2021

The other side

The other side is a compilation of my short stories that present the ‘other’ perspective.

The shoe that took me places

The shoe lay turned on its side in the middle of the road. Vehicles swerved to its right and left to avoid crushing it. The road was a busy one, and traffic slowed down as vehicles approached the lone shoe, and steered themselves clear of it. My car, too, cautiously avoided it.

The shoe stayed in my mind forever. Without warning, randomly at unpredictable times during the day, the shoe pushed its way through stacks of memories to the top of my mind. I remember how it lay on its side, the red stains on it open to the sky. It was a shoe that fitted the right foot of its owner. The shoe did not reveal the gender of its owner, yet it revealed a lot more.

The shoe was there by accident. I mean, due to an accident. The owner was dashing across the road to get to the other side. They were evidently not quick enough. An oncoming vehicle had screeched to a halt, but a tad late. The impact had thrown the person a furlong away, but not before dislodging the shoe off a foot, leaving the shoe to play the important role of narrating the horrific incident.

The shoe lay alone in the middle of a busy road where life criss-crossed at a frenetic pace. The stains on its body revealed the extent of injury. It lay abandoned by the body to which it belonged. There was no trace of the body. It was obvious that the accident had happened a while ago, and the body, that is how usually dead people are referred to, with only one shoe was lying on a cold hospital table, waiting to be identified by its kin.

The shoe on the road was the perfect identification. It was a canvas shoe with a thick rubber sole. Perhaps a jogger on their morning routine? When they do not return home, the family would be frantic. Maybe they lived alone, and no one will know for a long time.

Perhaps a lover on their way to a rendezvous? The heartbreak would be deep and lasting.

Perhaps someone who had just received bad news and was on their way to help their distraught friend? How will the friend now cope with another devastating news?  

Perhaps it was this…or perhaps it was that? Who is to know?

The red stains told a tale of their own. Of pain. Of hurt. Of a life that had bled.

A few minutes after my car swerved away from the shoe and dropped me off at work, a shrill whistle stood out amongst the cacophony of traffic.

The policeman crossed over to the other side and walked towards a bedraggled woman sitting with her back leaning against a huge sack.

“Hey you!” he addressed her.

She looked up at him, startled.

“You’ve created a mess in the middle of the road, and you sit here innocently?” he shouted poking her with his baton.

“What?” she said rising to her feet and turning towards the road.

“See what you’ve dropped there,” the policeman said pointing his baton to the shoe.

“Oh, sir, my sack is torn. It must have fallen off.”

“Now don’t just stand there giving excuses. Go pick it up!”

He blew the whistle again, and gestured to the vehicles to stop.

The woman limped to the middle of the road, and picked up the shoe.

The traffic resumed as she made her way back.

“Now move away from here with your sack, and dare you drop anything else,” the policeman warned.

“She nodded, and wiped her paan-stained lips against the shoe.

“You rag pickers are a nuisance,” he muttered turning away from her.

Wine, anyone?

It was my first visit to the winery, and my first ‘formal’ wine-tasting experience.

“There are four S’s to wine drinking,” the winery tour guide pompously told my friends and me.

“Seeing, Swirling, Smelling and Sipping,” he continued with an air of authority.

He demonstrated, “First, pick up the glass of wine. Then see the wine, Swirl the wine, Smell the wine, and then Sip the wine.”

I watched amusedly.

Then, it was my turn.

I held the stem of the glass in which the ruby red liquid was poured. I looked into the glass and inhaled deeply.

“No!” Mr Guide shouted. “Swirl first,” he said.

“Oh, sorry,” I said unapologetically.

“Let’s start again,” he said through a forced smile.

I was on a vacation in the hills and this winery visit was nothing more than a pit stop for me. I am a person who carries a poetess, a writer, a romantic, and a dreamer in her heart. The mountains, mists, and Mohabbat make up the purpose of my life. And all these thrive in an unstructured ecosystem.

Not some prescribed protocol for drinking wine.

Just to be polite, I picked up my glass again. The ruby red liquid winked at me. I swirled the wine, closed my eyes. Imagining myself sitting by the river bank overlooking verdant mountains, I took the glass to my parched lips.

“No! No!” the guide’s voice rudely burst my bubble of bliss.

“You didn’t see it, you didn’t smell it…”

“PODA!” I said, in my loudest Tamil. “This is wine. Red wine. Drink. Feel. Repeat,” I said, taking a swig. And, I practised exactly what I preached.

Drink. Feel. Repeat.

Wine ho ya dine, hum toh aise hai bhaiyya!

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