Moonbeams and Sunshine : Chapter 4 Prelude to the psalm of life


Continued from Chapter 3. Tara  

Orgasmic, that’s the first word that came to Tara’s mind when she saw the spectacular view of Pattaya for the first time. The gauzy cloud curtain had lifted and the long stretches of curvy beaches along the bay on the Gulf of Thailand’s east coast took her breath away.

The flight landed on time and a taxi was waiting to take her to Naklua Beach where the 10 writers were given accommodation. She had got an invite from a friend who worked with Luna e Sol Literary Society. The workshop was part of a reading and writing festival. Tara was mainly lured by the star attraction of the fest. Asma Khan the literary diva was going to do a reading and question session on her new novel.  She was one of the most celebrated and controversial authors of her time and Tara worshiped her.

Ron met her at the reception and introduced to two other visiting writers. She was the youngest member of the group. After a sumptuous dinner she retired to her luxurious room facing the picturesque beach. For a long time she stood in the balcony mesmerized by the moonbeams floating upon the waves letting the Zen moment seep into her.

The romantic couples enjoying the night on the beach sent a flush of memories through her. Neither Keshav nor she had called since she left. She wondered if at all this physical separation would ultimately bridge the distances of the hearts.

Mine is the night with all its stars” she whispered and closed her eyes. Sleep was a bridge between despair and hope and she had a long day ahead.

Tara woke up as the first glow of the dawn lit the sky.  Mornings were the best time to commune with the ocean. She witnessed the most electrifying sunrise streaked with colors she never associated with sunrises or sunsets. Wrapped in timeless serenity she stood at the beach in complete silence. Everything ceased to exist around her.

“Every moment is an irreplaceable miracle here. Exquisite and unforgettable” Ron’s voice brought her back to reality.

“The Fest begins at nine. I hate to call it a workshop. Takes all the romance out of it.” He winked.

“I’ll be there.” She gave him a bright smile.

She had attended literary festivals before but never on an international level and the excitement was making her nervous. Sitting under the shades of emerald-green palms writers joined together to celebrate creativity, to encourage new talents and to discuss their works. There was a different kind of intensity and devotion and a special kind of bonding. It almost felt like a spiritual quest to her. These fests provided insights that she couldn’t have found elsewhere. ‘An open platform for all to share their work’ was a fantastic idea and Ron had done a wonderful job.

Asma arrived late in the evening. Tara was in the lobby gazing at the intricate design on the walls when she saw her walk in, elegant, graceful and extremely attractive in her simplicity. Completely unfazed by the turbulence her latest book had caused. Her life was drenched with rumors, hoaxes and that’s what made her real. Asma was a strong woman and the only one who had mastered the art of writing crime noir, cult fiction and her bold take on sexuality always kept her in headlines. Beneath Asma’s sensuous exterior burned a fire that flowed like molten lava in her works. She led a bizarre life. Lived on her terms and strongly voiced her thoughts about social evils that were eating the very foundation of humanity. You could draw life from her words. Awed by her presence Tara watched her till she vanished in the dimly lit corridor. She took a deep breath to calm her unruly heart.

They met at dinner. Ron introduced Asma to the group. Many had met her before and it seemed like a little reunion. She sure was an enigma. Tara kicked herself for being an introvert. Stupefied she watched the animated group from a distance. They were all hustling for attention something she still hadn’t learned. Dinner was a chatty affair and it was only during the coffee session that Asma came to her.

“You are Tara, right? Angel of the evening,”

Tara felt the blood rush to her cheeks. “I admire you a lot, rather worship you.” She finally found her voice.

“I am no goddess sweetheart, it’s women like you who need to be worshiped for their relentless desire to learn and excel. Your passion for writing is very evident in your work. “She smiled warmly.

“No one ever said that to me. Thank you, I would love to be your student.”

“We are all students Tara, learning is an eternal process. We are all here to communicate, to express. Relax, enjoy your stay here. I am around if you need me.”  The warmth brought tears in Tara’s eyes but she managed to keep them buried. Asma patted her cheek and said a quick goodnight.

Brimming with respect and gratitude Tara turned to get another coffee and saw Ron watching her.

“I see, so it was you? What have you told her Ron?” She asked.

“Nothing much but enough to make sure that you get what you came for.” His deep voice tugged at her heart. Ron was around fifty. He had helped her get many assignments in the past and treated her like a daughter. She hugged him gently. Her dark liquid eyes said all that her lips couldn’t

“Sleep well; we have two hectic days ahead. Work by day play by night “, he gave a mischievous smile. She laughed and wished him ‘night.

Tara felt a thousand different sensations as she watched the night sky’s reflection in the ocean.

Asma had called her an evening star. She remembered Blake’s lines.

Thou fair-haired angel of the evening,

Now, whilst the sun rests on the mountains, light

Thy bright torch of love; thy radiant crown

Put on, and smile upon our evening bed

Her eyes caught her own reflection in the mirror and she realized how long it had been since she had seen what her body looked like. She dropped the gown and stood gazing at herself as the cool breeze flirted with her raven hair. She was young, good-looking, intelligent and had an open heart and mind. She had a whole new world to explore. Picking up her gown she went to take a shower. Under the jets of cold water she let all the stress, all the pain wash away. Water always healed her, sort of renewal for her to start afresh. It was the first time in many years she felt complete. Guess it was a good sign. Saturated with prayers and dreams she closed her eyes and murmured

“And if tonight my soul may find her peace
in sleep, and sink in good oblivion,
and in the morning wake like a new-opened flower
then I have been dipped again in God, and new-created.”

-D.H. Lawrence

 It was a prelude to the psalm of life. A time for the heart’s petals to open, time to blossom, to let the breeze carry her fragrance and she was ready.



Moonbeams and Sunshine : Chapter 3.Tara


Continued from 2:  Kite strings  

Chapter 3. TARA  

She gazed at the wine spilled western sky. The soft breeze played with her curls and occasionally a stray curl rested briefly on her face. She loved these summer pool side parties, the colorful people who fluttered like butterflies, the wine, gorgeous variety of food, the music and most of all the man behind all this fun. He had met Keshav during his Piano performance at the rest o bar he owned.  He wasn’t a looker by the society’s beauty standards but he was certainly a charmer.  He still remembered their first meeting and the deep voice that almost made her swoon.

“You must get close to him Tara. I know he has his eyes on you for some time. Go get him babes”. Shona whispered from behind her smoke rings.

“Oh stop it. He is good but not my kind and I am just twenty-six.” She did not sound convincing.

“Really”, Shona winked and drifted away to get another drink.

At the other side of the pool Keshav was entertaining a group of women with his unending supply of jokes.  She wanted to know more about this fascinating young man. A warm flush rushed inside her body and suddenly she was conscious of Shona staring at her.

“Not your kind, eh? “, she smiled.

The bird orchestra on the trees was getting louder and the strains of clarinet were barely audible. She loved his taste in music.  She knew he was an art connoisseur . She had seen some exquisite art pieces collected from across the globe.

“Are you a loner or is it that I haven’t been a gracious host?” His voice made her jump.

Turning a deep shade of red she mumbled some alien words while her eyes searched urgently for Shona. She was buried in the arms of one of her producers. Liquor, food, gossip, favors, deals and sex, these made the base line for all such parties. Everyone fake till the very core.

“ Shonali seems to be enjoying herself. Would you like to see the library?  He was standing so close that she could smell the faint fragrance of aftershave. Her body turned liquid.

“Are you alright? Come let’s go.” He held her hand and she sailed like a breeze along with him. Her heart was beating like the red Ferrari which was parked in the porch.

He held her hand firmly and she was aware of the warmth seeping through. The library and study were the most beautiful areas of the house.  The fireplace,  collection of books and music CDs, piano and the lovely rugs thrown around the room were simply breathtaking. Suddenly she was filled with life.

“Wow, this is amazing. Do you ever find time to read these?” she asked.

“That’s one thing I don’t do but I aim to please especially writers like you.”  His gaze held her captive. She smiled when all she wanted to do was throw her arms around him.

“Feel at home Tara, come over anytime even if I am not there. “ He said warmly.” I know you are more passionate about the books than the men”.

“I will and I think you should change your source of information about me.” Now she loved the teasing and wished they could spend the entire night together.

They met regularly and slowly Keshav became a part of her.  She married him within a year.  The private wedding at Mukteshwar, a long leisurely honeymoon and then life was back to normal.

Within a year the rainbow began to fade. She was alone most of the time as he toured and ran his business. The parties became less and slowly the laughter and fun faded like the colors of evening sky.  She became a recluse. Shonali married her producer lover and went abroad so there was no one except the silence and the books to give her company during the endlessly long days. The nights were even worse.  Keshav came home in the wee hours of the morning and love-making became just another ritual. Sometimes for days or months she burned and hungered for him while he traveled for business.

She burned night after night for that passion, that warmth, that touch.  The very house that had earlier bewitched her now became her prison. She had everything but still there was a vacuüm.  Keshav too felt it and compensated it with all that he thought she would love but that made things worse. She wanted him and he had no time. Business had increased many folds and he ran two more clubs now.

He went for parties just as a compulsion. She had stopped accompanying him long back.

It was their fourth wedding anniversary and opening of his Piano night when she told him about the Writer’s workshop in Pattaya. A friend had emailed her and she desperately wanted to go. It was a lifetime opportunity for her as a writer.

“When do you leave?” He asked without a trace of emotion.

“Day after tomorrow“, she had replied without giving any more information. These days they spoke only what was essential.

“Alright, whatever makes you happy.” Start packing I will arrange the other things. “He left early for the opening while she cleared the kitchen and trashed all the food she had cooked for their anniversary dinner.

This time tears stayed buried in her deep black eyes.  She was thrilled about the workshop not just because it was important to her as an aspiring writer but also because it was her passport to freedom.  An escape from this museum she called home.  It would give time to both of them to reflect upon their lives, she thought. She loved him and longed for those good old days.

Keshav stayed home on the day of her leaving. They had a candle light dinner and sat huddled on the rug in front of the fireplace, together still far away. Each had million things to say but  silence stood between them like a sentinel.

“One of the deepest truths about the cry of the human heart is that it is so often muted, so often a cry that is never uttered. To be sure there are needs and feelings that we express quite openly; lying deeper are emotions we share only with loved ones, and deeper still the things we tell no one….It is strange that members of a species renowned for communicative gifts should leave unexpressed some of their deepest yearnings”

The flight took off on time. They had hugged awkwardly and Keshav had left for a meeting immediately.  With mixed emotions she bid farewell to him wondering where their fate with take them.

Beneath her in were soft fluffy cloud castles and right outside her window was God’s illuminated promise, a magnificent rainbow. She remembered the lines by Byron;

Be thou the rainbow in the storms of life. The evening beam that smiles the clouds away, and tints tomorrow with prophetic ray.

Her life was about to change forever. Air borne she felt an ethereal feeling sweep through her. A whole new world lay in front of her and she was ready to take it on.

to be continued ….

Moonbeams and Sunshine


Continued from I. Like a river flowing 

Chapter 2.  Kite strings 

Rejection had been a constant companion to her.  ” This isn’t love,  this is business”, someone had told her.

The package had arrived by morning mail. The editor, a silver-haired man she admired, had said in his letter that she had potential but not ripe enough to be published with them as yet. “You are emerging. I’m proud to be a part of your blossoming. No limits. Just stay with it. Endurance is 90% of the art. I sense a good heart–and I know a good mind. Keep your faith and your discipline. I really hope for your success–and your happiness. An ally here.”  She admired the man. At least he has not discarded her like many.

She sighed and looked at the autumn sky full of kites. Her perspective about kites had changed over the years. She was more balanced now. The swing swayed slowly with the breeze and she closed her eyes.

She had a love hate relationship with kites as a girl. Her heart took a leap and sailed with the kites as she sat enviously watching the boys flying them. It seemed like a long time back but the sting of humiliation still made her cringe. She was determined to learn kite flying despite of all the hooting from boys but could never get it up in the sky. Her brother had taken pity on her plight and allowed her to manage his favorite kite for  a little while . She had been ecstatic to have the control in her hands but controlling was not instilled in her and the kite went wild with the shifting winds sending the boy hysteric. Before he could do anything it released itself from the string and vanished in the vastness of the gray-blue sky. Fuming with rage he jumped on her and slapped, pulled her hair ,abused in full view of friends and neighbors until their father separated them.

She never forgot the insult and the very next day shredded and set fire to all his trophy kites which he had chased and collected. The reels were given away to friends and it marked the end of kite flying in her house. The siblings never spoke to each other after that. Ever.

“Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back .” It was 25 years since someone mentioned kites to her. She looked in the eyes of her beloved. She smiled.

“Have you ever known what it is like to be on the brink of freedom and not taste it? Like a kite that flies in the blue skies but cannot escape because of the string that tugs it down? To be held down? To be controlled?  To be cut down by another ruthless kite before you  fall to the ground gracelessly?  I do. ”

He loved her but never understood her eccentricities, the fire that burned inside her and her disquiet. She was talented, had potential but was extremely unpredictable. Playful and child like on one hand wistful and dejected on the other. Full of contradiction and yet  balanced in her unique way.

He understood her viewpoint, felt for her , wanted to escape his own prejudices and  limitations and soar with her dreams but  could not for various reasons.

They were like two parallel rivers flowing but in different directions.  It was fate that had thrown them together.  In his interaction with her a vein had slit open and he wasn’t able to control the gush that poured out of him. It left him weak at times, he wasn’t ready for it. She was a string-less kite wandering aimlessly in merciless sky. He wanted to catch her, give her direction,  the flight of freedom she needed and yet hold the strings in his hands if she began to lose herself or is caught in a ruthless battle for survival.

There was a conflict. Inner as well as outer.  In her heart and his .

The cacophony of birds on the flaming Gulmohar tree woke her up. A tear had silently escaped her eye and ended on her lips. The sky was saturated with colors. She collected the fluttering papers , the empty coffee mug , her new spectacles and reluctantly went indoors.

The fridge held  remnant of yesterday. She was too listless to eat. The events of last two days had drained her.  With a bowl full of ice-cream she tugged herself in bed and began to read.

The new spectacles had helped her look at the world and herself in a different light.

Somewhere a nightingale sang a soulful song.

to be continued ……