Monday, December 21, 2009

Steel Unicorn - a short story.

Disclaimer - all characters and incidents in this story are a fragment of my fertile imagination - any resemblances to people you know is a coincidence.


During my summer vacations, I loved playing in the generous yard in our grandfather's cute little bungalow with the humongous sky light - the one that formed in the center of the ceiling of a living room that was kept empty, saving the stool like bench that lay casually on side of the room, rested against the wall. The sky light was like a celebration of the elements though it resembled more of a hole created by an imaginary object falling on the carefully arranged tile roof and the sun, moon, stars and rain sifted themselves through the generous crevices of a cast iron frame. I often looked up at the frame, and wondered what purpose it served. It was definitely not there to stop the elements, nor was it particularly soothing on the eye (ruling out the possibility of an aesthetic) but it was there, like a crater, or a void on an otherwise perfect layout.

I enjoyed sitting there an gazing at the sunlight that haloed into the house - enjoying freshly squeezed mango pulp or reading the children's supplement of the Daily chronicle. Only one thing interrupted my idle thoughts- my uncle - the steel Unicorn. Unicorn was a tall, athletic man. with sinewy lean muscle shrugging on a teenager like body structure. He was a bachelor - a bachelor past prime (especially in Indian standards) at the age of thirty six. There were stories circulating about his bachelorhood - some blamed it on a failed affair though I could not, for the life of me, imagine this grump of a human being ever smiling at someone, let alone falling in love.
Unicorn despised idling, and laughter and gestures of affection. He had a strange nonchalance towards kids of all shapes and sizes, his nephews and niece included. He seldom spoke, except when addressing my grand mom for a second helping of rice or vegetables as she patiently waited at his table during his lunch. Unicorn ate like a bird - daintily picking on the fluffy rice sticking out of the spoon and cleared his plate without wasting a morsel of food.

Once in a while, as I idled away in the sky lighted living room, sitting crisscross applesauce on the stone- tiled floor that was grouted with uneven strips of cement, he used to stop and clear his throat like he wanted me to notice his presence in the room. I used to look up in an attempt to make eye contact - He would briefly look into my eyes and look away and hurry into the dining room to have his lunch.

" She should find better things to do with her time" He would speak to an imaginary being as my grandmother served him his meal "The girl squanders her time away" making sure that the conversation between him and his imaginary friend would be loud enough for me to eavesdrop on.

I was eleven and a half - a gawky little creature in pre-puberty. The aperture between my front teeth bothered me to no end, though the dentist assured my mom that it was just a matter of time that it would disappear. I was in a hurry to get rid of it. Just like I was in a hurry to grow at least a couple inches less as tall as Farah, that middle-eastern looking, drop dead gorgeous, most famous girl from the middle school who, owing to my huge misfortune, shared my class and bench with me. Unicorn scared me - but he intrigued me more than he scared me. I would sit on the bench trying to pronounce the tongue twister of a new word out loud as I'd read the Chronicle and notice Unicorn's shadow and peek at him through the corner of my eyes, still pretending to read. He would clear his throat and glide past me in his awkwardly agile gait.

To be continued.

1 comment:

  1. so this was what kept us waiting? Please make sure this is a regular release :)