Again she dropped the stone on hearth and allowed it to get warm. After a while she pressed Boitumelo’s breasts with it. Boitumelo felt a melting sensation within and then she noticed it going inside. Crying till her throat went dry and prickly she tried to run but in vain. Being a girl of twelve she couldn’t fight the two women who were holding her hands so tightly. Thinking that Boitumelo had cried enough for the day she left her in a room and closed the door behind her but only after announcing that they’ll continue with the process at night. Tears streamed her cheeks , sniffing sounds filled the room when she noticed the door was left ajar. A notion of running away quickly passed her mind but then she knew it was safe in here. Her mother’s voice reverberated in her mind “This is for your own safety. I’m trying to protect you. If you don’t let me do it the boys will get attracted to you, only a couple of months more then you’ll be safe”. She told herself that whatever her mother was doing was correct.
She tried to recall the day when her mother had first ironed her breasts. The memory was getting cloudy as was the day, filled with clouds of dust, created by children’s incessant running. Usually she walked past, oblivious to her surrounding but that day she was mindful of every quotidian event. She had been specifically noticing the boys, the little ones were chasing each other and the elders, nowhere to be seen. Relieved she had proceeded to her class and lo and behold! There they were staring directly at her. She had noticed they weren’t making eye contact, wondering where they were looking a chill had run down her vertebrae. Afraid and horrified she had scuttled to the furthest bench.
This had been a fortnight ago. Now her thoughts are occupied with the stories of her mother which she tells her to prove her undertakings. While a crucial part of her is being lesioned and carbuncled she is taught that the men around her, if they see her breasts, would think she’s ready for sex. Sadly she surmise that this is the way of women hood. Little does she know that it’s a mere taboo in Cameroon. Boitulmelo means joy but now she lies un veiled to mental trauma, breast cancer, deformities, cysts and other such maladies. Will her life be joyful?
There were around sixty of them , the class was almost full with boys except the first row . I trudged towards the last bench glancing sideways if I could find an empty seat but there were none . It felt like I was in an alienated world but with me being the one amongst them . Our tutor entered and asked us to introduce ourselves .I was looking at my feet and when I heard Jamshedpur I moved my glance towards the source of sound just in time to see you sitting and when my turn came I caught you smiling at your friend. First few days went without much difference, in the same last bench which had the capacity of 6 people but me sitting alone hiding from the bombardments of what is band gap? Formula of probability of number of holes? So on and so forth. I had never thought that you would even talk to me that too properly with the look you carried and from the school you came. Little did you know about the impact of your words when you asked me to team up with you . Was the first time when I didn’t have to beg someone to finish my class projects. I was just staring at you , dumbfounded and you didn’t even ask you had already decided. Thank you Aayush for being the stanchion in my journey.
But my problems didn’t end here. There’s this hell of a guy
who has been source of my hurdles from the first semester. Do you want me to tell everyone what you did
in my English class , Siddharth? You uncle ji types kid , I used to look at you
and wander how you might be feeling with no one of your branch in the class.
Well I didn’t have to mull over it for too long, you know why! It was a
peaceful afternoon with soft breeze and branches doing waltz, not at all like
the ambiance suggesting the entry of a villain and then you entered Mr.Menon
with a grey cells nourishing news that we would soon be called in our tutor’s
cabin. Anyways that doesn’t count as you sat beside me , then and forever,
enjoyed my company (again a new thing for me), gave a worrisome look when I
felt sick and you always know when things are not right with me. It’s not
about those two questions that you
solved it’s about the warmth and confidence that I got when I sat beside you .
I used to be a timid, shy, diffident and cringey girl but when I was wrapped by
you both I was no longer the same. Initially such petty thoughts leaked in as
you might be avoiding me but it were those times when you text me first that
proves you care. Thank you for the moral support because of which I’m here.
Even now with my messed up timetable you pursue to take classes with me.
Believe me no one has ever wanted to do that.
Though things were commencing to be okay but all these above
realizations dawned on me much later. Till now my life was messed up enough to
doubt the best person yet to come. Now if I wax lyrical about him it would be
an injustice for there’s no adjective that portrays him felicitously. From the
moment I judged you to be a South Indian senior (and I won’t forget you thought
I was a Bengali) till the time when you are feeling tiered but still talking to
me (maybe you are afraid I’ll get angry)” darr lagta hai na merese?” you have
been with me . I’ve seen you shiver and tremble beside me in the library. You
remember I went to the fiction section pretending to give you time to solve the
question , I actually wanted to give you space . I saw your shivering lips,
your nervous smile , fear in eyes , uncoordination in hands , it was incredible
how you managed yourself then. No amount of thanks in any language can ever sum
up the things you have done for me. From my assignments to my practicals, from
my interviews to my speech, through my nightmares and dreams , my sorrows and
joys (the list won’t end) I had the privilege to have you by my side. Thank you
for not losing hope when I did. Thank you for being there with me setting your
fears aside. Thank you for sharing with me things which nobody else knows .
Thank you for being what I thought could never be mine. Thank you for remaining
a true friend Shikhar.
It has been more than a couple of months now and in less than 24 hours we’ll be together again.
PS : I just saw your smile when you met Rocky , it was …… sorry no such adjective coined yet. Just keep that smile. And yes just a few hours…..
Killing a President would have been much easier than putting on his EMU, but that was the reason why he was here struggling with his lower torso assembly. A couple of years ago India had suggested to pass a bill in UN for deploying criminals in any new and fatal space endeavor . Cosmonauts would be spared from dying in the unknown and criminals (already sentenced to death) would not be affected. He gripped the EVA hatch of Quest airlock and took a long breath. He had to replace the wheels of Tesla with beach wheels (to transform Tesla into a rover) and cover it with an airbag and then penetrate the Martian atmosphere . He had oxygen supply only for a fortnight(after entering Mars) during which he could produce as much oxygen as he could. If he succeeded more men will be sent by NASA for colonization , if he failed he would die. This all passed through his mind in fractions of a second and in another he was out of the airlock .A brilliant crimson against the black background , was a pity to leave Tesla Roadster exposed to cosmic radiations. Covering it with airbag all he had to do was to pull some levers and tap some buttons to get the car attached to his spaceship. This was just a warm up , the real feat was ahead – to be the first man on Mars.
60 YEARS LATER …………………
Life on the red planet’s surface was alive with storms. Dust clouds were rolling and high wind screaming across the surface , but the solar green houses were unstirred by these outside squall. These were the high-rise vertical infrastructures that concaved down while forming a closed semi-sphere. The green hue was due to the plants supported on solar panels divided in irregular quadrangles that composed the walls of the building . On closer inspection one could see that these were the
windows and through one of them a woman of about 50 was visible gazing at the dusk sky. She was gazing at Earth , which now looked more brown than blue . Remembering how her father had landed on Mars and had slowly built this city ,she missed her home, her father’s home to be more specific , though she had never visited it. This city still had to produce water from electrolysis , there was just enough oxygen for everyone . Don’t get deluded by those green house boundary , the storms frequently covered the glasses blocking light to the plants. Not all food crops could be grown on Martian lands , terraformation on this small scale had faced so much difficulty the whole Mars has yet to be colonized. “ I have tasted better days my son, better days on Earth “,her father used to say. She was the manager of this city , yet yearned to go to Earth . Life was still difficult here , strange thoughts trailed across her grey cells , “if only humans had not taken Earth for granted , if only they had given more heed to the population problem , if only my father was not sent here I would not have been MARS BORN” .