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  A strand of hair played right above her cheek. With her hands full of clay, she twitched her cheek to stop it. But it didn’t, and neither did the wind do any favours. It was a cloudy day and she wondered when she would finish with the modeling. She wished there would be sunlight for it to dry out. A small dimple dug at her cheek as she smiled.

It had been two years at her job now, and the mundane schedule was fast getting to her. She remembered how she had enjoyed taking long walks by herself in the leisure time. She would love doing that now too. Two years ago, as she sat on her desk, she smiled and was delighted at her achievements. But now, she no longer felt the passion. She no longer relented to fixing herself behind that desk.

It had not been an affluent childhood. She would go ahead and save her pocket money when all other students had delicious candies in school. She couldn’t ask her parents for more as she knew they were doing their best to provide for her. It made her sad to see them struggle through their jobs each morning and night, doing double shifts. She knew they would buy fruits, but just for her. She never saw her parents consume any dairy products but always insisted she finish her glass of milk.

She had duly returned them her respect and obedience. She had never been caught cheating in exams, or speaking deceitful lies, or sharing goodies with her classmates. They called her weird, but she never retorted. She thought that sharing the lovely eatables with her classmates would shame her parents about not being able to buy them for her. So she knew God had a share of things kept away for her, so why ask for more!

She had finished shaping the pot now. It was a small one with a wide mouth. She had already decided the colour scheme for it. Pottery was a way of connecting the peace within. Her parents had always been preoccupied with earning the basic money; she had never seen them do anything leisurely. There were no books in her house, or music records, or an occasional dance. There was hardly any time for small talk. All they asked her was about homework and school. Every academic term, it was about her grades. They had always told her about white collar jobs, and how she would be perfect for them.

She washed her hands and removed the cool clay from her hands. Carefully, she took the sharp thread and looped it over the pot. Slowly, removing it from the wheel, she put it at her window sill. Suddenly, drops of rain splattered hard on the open window. She quickly latched the window. The sky started to roar and got all dark. “Maybe it is your fate”, she said it aloud to the pot. She wasn’t sure if she believed in luck, but she surely believed in fate. Or maybe so because her parents had already written one for her. She could never refuse them or argue with them. She felt indebted, and however she tried, she couldn’t change the feeling.

One evening, her decided fate had been announced to her. “We think you should be a Charted Accountant. You grades are good and we think you should apply to the prestigious schools. Don’t worry about the fee, your Ma has taken a loan for the forms and I will be taking one when you get in. I hear CAs are paid really well in today’s times.” She had just nodded. She never felt victimized, not that day, not today. She took life as it came to her. One lesson was absolutely certain, her parents had never smiled much, and she was determined to be happy – no matter the circumstances, no matter her profession, no matter what future withheld.

She stared at her pot at the window. The clay was still wet and could be moulded in any way required. And when she would colour it, it would determine its identity. It could be a fiery red, a passionate pink or a cheery orange. She could also make it a cool blue or a classic black. It was all in her hands. Just like she had been moulded to join the corporate world. The year she had graduated, she had started paying off her debts and taken an apartment on a huge loan, one where her parents could live in peace. They had often told her how proud they were, and she had felt gratified for being their daughter.

But other emotions, she found them hard to find. Now she knew the meaning of passion. She had taken up pottery with great interest over a year ago and had gone ahead to make some beautiful pieces. She had been asked to display it for a pottery show by one of her neighbours, who happened to appreciate them in her small garden. There was another show coming up, and she had been invited.

The more she fell in love with pottery, the more she resisted the desk in office. She had been a cage bird all her life, and it was time she found her wings. She had thought about it several times, but the EMIs and the loan swirled like a dagger in front of her. The pot was beginning to fuse at a few places, just like her emotions. “I wish the sun comes out soon and clears my dilemma.”

It was easy in the movies, where they took decisions and things turned out well. Nor was her life made of any bestselling novel, where after churning out of troubles, she reached her destination. She just wanted to be happy, to love what she did and never regret it. But would it be fair to her parents, who slaved all their lives to get her the white collar job? Maybe she had to be Santa all her life – she had the gifts but would never be gifted anything.

She sat down to eat her lunch at the small dining table. As she stirred her spaghetti, memories of childhood captured her. On Avik’s birthday, his mother had come to school to distribute pastries to all children. Everyone had eaten and wished him, and asked for more. She had just smiled and never asked for more. But the presence of a pastry in her hands had been delightful. Instead of eating it, she had carefully packed it in her lunch box. Very proudly, she had gone home and waited impatiently for her parents to arrive. They would all share it as a family. She was determined to see them smile that day.

When her parents arrived, she just passed on her lunch box to her mother, like every other day, for her to inspect whether lunch had been finished. “What on earth do you have here?” “It’s a pastry Ma”, she had smiled. As she looked into the lunch box, she could sense a foul smell. The icing had melted and was floating in the box. “Don’t get such things to the house, it smells so bad, I will have a tough time cleaning it.” She never did it again.

She could see the rain from her window, so beautiful and yet so forceful. It reminded her of her only wish - to be happy. Pottery was her passion, and not a desk job. Life would go on and people would always have complaints, but she did not want to grow old and look back apologetically.

The pottery exhibition was three weeks from now. If she worked hard, she could have a good number of display pieces there. She went to her handbag and took out the resignation letter from its front pocket. She signed on it and put the date. As she looked up, she realized that the sky had cleared and sun was out. She opened the window and let the pot get its due warmth. And the first time in her life, she felt the beam of exhilaration she had always longed for.

 


Vimal
12/14/2010 1:46am

Good story as usual !!

Your narration style is improving day by day..

I could sense that the main character of your stories are always away and different from everyone else, any reason behind that? :-)

Hope you are not going to Pottery instead of white color job :D

Reply
12/14/2010 4:51am

Thanks Vimal. Have noticed you are a frequent reader. Do keep reading further...theres lots more to come.

I try to weave each character differently so that there is no shadow from one to another.

As for me, the stories are more of my creation than about my life :)

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12/17/2010 11:18pm

This was fun, I enjoyed reading your blogfest entry! I love snowball fights--although I've never had to play against people with Gifts! LOL. :D

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01/30/2011 12:26am

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07/30/2012 1:46am

No matter where to go, no matter what the weather, remember to bring your own sunshine.

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Smile doesn't always mean happiness, as tears do not always means sadness.

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