It was Heavenly! The bright blue Aegean sea spread into infinity… till it reached the cerulean sky and the twain kissed each other like long lost lovers! Sheema sighed softly as she turned on the rock, she had been occupying for her evening practice of yoga. As she gazed into the distance, the sea breeze gently teased her long black tresses, like a snake charmer from India making the King cobras dance to his tune.
The setting sun cast its golden, rosy hues into the firmament and lit up her beautifully chiselled face with her big black doe eyes! They didn’t call her temptress for nothing! Like a Goddess from an unknown world, she dropped back comfortably into ‘Chakrasan’ (wheel pose).
Below her on the beach, till quite some distance, yoga mats of all hues jostled with each other, as people of all shapes and sizes, all ages, all genders- male, female, trans, grappled for space and did their best to follow in to the asan. Among the utterance of tribulations, one could also hear the sighing of restless hearts pining, as they looked up to watch their living goddess!
For Sheema it wasn’t always like this. The skies were grey and inky too! Life had been grey and murky.
It seemed like a long time back. When she wasn’t anyone’s Goddess, and her life was Hell. She was treated like nothing, and given a raw deal, like most Indian women. She had been encouraged to keep her mouth shut and adjust.
Her mother-in-law was a witch reincarnate, nah a witch, and her husband Satan’s crony for sure. She would do all the household chores from morn till midnight, but Mother-in-law was never satisfied, lacking empathy she neither lent a hand (though perfectly fine in arm and leg) nor ever appreciated the food, the beverage or the thousand and one jobs done for her. Satan’s crony wanted everything done his way and what was left he would manipulate his way. He was well ingrained in his rights as husband lest anyone forget…
She would not hold it against her parents, that they did not take up for her, they were too cowed down by ‘SOCIETY’, ‘what will people say’. If she had her way she would have said, “ They can go to hell!” or maybe something stronger, that the kids kept saying so casually these days. Nobody asked her. Nobody cared. It was the story in many homes.
One evening she stole a few moments as she went to pick up some vegetables. She lingered on the tree lined boulevard, watching the golden sunset, feeling the sunlight caress her gently, the wind whispered sweet nothings in her ears, and something stirred in her. She was born to relish the sun, the moon, the stars. Probably be a small twinkling star herself, somewhere far away, spreading light and love.
The seed had been sown, now all that was required was to let it grow. The blue of the sky was slowly turning mauve and inky night sky was reflecting her mood and pensive thoughts.
Ever since a child the blue sky peeping in through her window and the sunroof never failed to lift her moods. The fluffy white clouds sailing across a brilliant blue always made her smile and naturally she loved blue. Though she hardly ever felt blue, her dresses, her room, her choice always settled down on blue.
Whether it was her passion for gardening; all her bonsais and succulents, her adeniums and philodendrons aesthetically arranged in blue pottery in all shapes and sizes or her love for yoga, all her leotards and mats were vibrant shades of blue – from powder blue to teal, to aqua, to turquoise.
Her mother was afraid she might even dye her hair blue someday.
Of course, it made life easy for her friends to pick up gifts for Sheema- anything blue would be lapped up.
She hastened her steps and picked up her pace mentally picturing all the chores awaiting her still and the sullen, unhappy faces. The bruises in her heart were deeper than those on her body, verily making her blue. The golden sunshine a distant memory. As she nearly sprinted up the steps, the jingling of her anklets and the clinking of her bangles protested vehemently! They didn’t for a second, like the agitation to which she had surrendered her very soul. They remembered the spring in her step and song on her lip, reverberating the music of joy, travelling to every corner of their home.
It was past midnight, when she finally wound up after cooking two separate meals for the monarchs at home, and somehow swallowed a few mouthfuls herself.
“Ah Cinderella! I understand your pain… but no fairy Godmother for me, nor a prince Charming!”
“But you have those beautiful blue shoes, prettier than Cinderella’s certainly!” piped up her heart.
Smiling, she opened her closet and pulled out her beautiful blue pair! It was a dream. Somehow it always lifted her heart and mood when she snuggled her toes into them. The radiant blue rhinestones, sparkled like sapphires and the high heels made her feel elegant and magical. She always felt like dancing when she wore them. She could dance away her blues.
She picked up her purse and waltzed out of the door. She felt she was in limbo as she clicked her heels, jumped up, pirouetted, and flagged down a rickshaw.
“Where to?” asked the driver.
“Home! Sweet home!” she said emphatically. Enough was enough!
Lord Shri Krishna once said to Arjuna “It is sin to commit injustice, but it is a greater sin to tolerate injustice!”
Who had taught her that? She could not remember. How come it surfaced in her heart today? Did it matter? She was going home finally. She had taken a big step. Crossed the boundaries, though invisible it loomed high like Rapunzel’s tower! Well, she had broken the shackles finally and would learn to soar in the blue sky once again… her wings may have been broken… she would fix it!
Knock! Knock! Knock!
Knock! Knock! Knock!
Slow shuffling of old, arthritic feet could be heard, muffled by the thick, huge, commanding door.
“Who is it? We haven’t ordered anything friend!”
“Surprise!” she shouted cheerfully as tears cascaded down her cheeks.
She could clearly see the fumbling of the gnarled, swollen fingers, trying to come together to unite to reach their goal, yet tripping over one another as excitement must be mounting high in her mother’s heart, cause she was the only one in this world who loved her… truly and unconditionally!
Is it you?
In the middle of the night?
Is everything ok?
Are you fine?”
The staccato beats of the verbal diarrhea tried to make up for what the hands took ages to do. And finally, the door was flung open, and she was enveloped in the warmth of her mother’s love. The bony arms of an elderly lady with a headful of silver, yet with the kindest black eyes and the loveliest of pink smile wrapped around her shaking, quivering body ready to pick up cudgels against those who brought those tears in the eyes of her princess!
“You should have called,” she chided. “I would have sent Papa, silly girl, when will you grow up?”
She just sobbed, wiped her tears, tried too smile at the timeless tone of her mother’s talk, yet feeling alive for the first time in years.
As her mother made her a cup of hot aromatic coffee and settled down beside her to listen to the broken heart, their tears mingled, and smiles blurred. Hanging on to each other physically and emotionally, a long night lay ahead, they knew.
As she let the tears flow, which had long been held back, they came cascading down, flowing from her heart, her mind, her soul. They came squeezing out as if a juicy lemon had been freshly squeezed or onions seeking revenge, tearing the eyes out of the chopper at large. The old lady was filled with sorrow, guilt, and disbelief! Her Precious, dealt such blows, served not sustenance but abhorrence? The bile leapt up to her throat and the incessant tears would have put the Monsoon to shame.
The blues were not easy to chase away.
The family huddled together! Decision was taken! Divorce Satan’s crony!
The long-drawn process began.
The geriatric couple gently nudged her, to life and living. They just wanted to see her smile again. (What would people say… mattered not anymore!)
Getting back to her home… her own room was what comforted her. It was as comforting as getting into the foetal position, ‘Garbhapindasan’! The blue sky peeped in through the window, beckoning the golden sunshine to ensconce her in its warmth and positivity. As the day progressed the Prussian blue sky would turn inky dragging the sleepy stars out one by one till, they sprinkled the Heavenly garment swaddling all on mundane earth.
Sheema reached into her past to move forward. It had been on her bucket list to travel… solo! She looked towards her pillars, smilingly they nudged her on, they were the wind beneath her wings no doubt. Pulling out travel brochures from travel agents and poring over the lonely planet, she finally settled for Greece. If you have seen the pictures of this ancient country looming out of the glossy travel magazines you will know exactly what captivated Sheema.
She packed and left one fine evening.
The moment she first caught a glimpse of the Mediterranean glowing like a piece of the blue sky a smile slowly crept up her face and refused to budge. She had to catch a short cruise to the fabled island of Mykonos and the rest is history. The bluest of skies and the sea as far as one could see! This was nothing short of Paradise for her.
With a view of the sea and vast endless sky from every window of her room, her soul soon started to sing. She would walk to the beach in her myriad blue dresses, shorts, swimsuits and became one with the crowd. Mykonos a paradise for men, women, and all from around the world with unprohibited love was scandalizing for Sheema at first. But soon she was adopted by a gay couple- John and George. After she got over their uniqueness, her Bohemian spirit took over and found herself reveling with newfound friends and strangers alike.
She was practicing Yoga at the beach, on the fine white sands one morning, looking like a goddess, Athena or probably Nike, gracefully folding and unfolding into various asanas, Virbhadrasan (Warrior pose) to Chakrasan (Wheel pose) to Prishika asan (Lizard pose) and finally into a Shirshasan (Headstand). Few people watched in awe. And as she settled into Padmasan (Lotus pose) and sunk into her meditation, quite a few just sat down and joined in.
When she opened her eyes, she couldn’t believe what was happening. John and George happened to come along and urged her to start teaching yoga. That’s how it started. Yoga on the beach with Sheema!
Years of cooking mechanically had stolen her zest for food. On the islands, the sea breeze and the local produce cast a spell on her.The Greek Salad -Choriatiki, with fresh crunchy cucumbers, juicy tomatoes, olives, and feta cheese generously drizzled with olive oil and paprika tasted delicious, specially at the street café down the hill. It was definitely a favourite any time of the day. Tucking into the fabulous Greek delicacies of Moussaka, Spanakopita, Dolmades and Loukoumades was a highlight of her day. One evening as she was sipping a wine, listening to John and George argue over what to order for dinner, at a new taverna, she caught a stare. The mesmerizing blue eyes could not move its gaze from her. She should have felt offended, but in Mykonos… Never! In fact, she smiled and waved at the handsome stranger. The spellbound admirer couldn’t believe his luck… the Goddess was smiling at him.
He went over with a leap and laughing a little self-consciously proffered his hand. “Hi! I am Alexis! Welcome to my humble taverna and blessing it!” Her dark eyes widened in bewilderment as wisps of her long black tresses blew in the breeze, making her more alluring. “I am…”
“Athena?” murmured her ardent worshipper and all around the table burst out laughing.
“No, Sheema… a distant cousin of hers!”
As they were plied with freshly baked moussaka juicy and delicious, dolmades with the freshest grape leaves packed with the goodness of sunshine along with the freshest, crunchiest of Choriatiki, the banter and laughter couldn’t keep pace with each other. After ages she had felt herself glowing in the attention of a male admirer. The Prussian sky was banished by the golden Cheesy Moon trying to create the brightness of a sunny day, mellowed down – of course. Cupid had struck Bulls eye. Alexis and Sheema found themselves exchanging numbers, addresses, pasts and the present.
Ha! A perfect fairytale ending you would say!
But life is not a fairy tale.
As she strolled down the blue edged white, stone cobbled street rolling down to the beach next morning, Satan came face to face with her. Rather Satan’s crony.
Laughing maniacally at her stupefied look, he grabbed her arm roughly and said,
“So how are you? Greek Goddess?”
“Leave me alone! How dare you even touch me?”
“I have touched you and done much more. Remember you were my wife? You think a decree by a magistrate in a court will allow you to escape from me? Have you forgotten how I tamed you, you ungrateful witch!” And he twisted her arm behind her back bringing himself close to her body.
She yelped in pain and shrieked “Get off me you… Satan” and she kneed him hard. She had become stronger in body and mind. The reeking, reeling hulk was taken by total surprise. As he yelped in pain, crouching to nurse his sensitive male hood, she wheeled around and ran towards Alexis taverna, ‘A Greek Rhapsody’. She ran inside screaming “Alexis! Help me! He is here!” As the bewildered Alexis came running to her, Satan’s crony had jogged in, limping a bit.
One look and Alexis understood what was going on. “Hey mister! Lay off Sheema, do you understand?”
“Ah, a new boyfriend? Was this the reason you left?”
“ How dare you even speak to me like that? Leave right now, else I will call the police!” she said with quite determination, an edge of steel in her voice.
Looking at her, he realised, she was different, not the meek, easy to manipulate and easy to exploit doormat of a woman, he called wife. He also realised he was in a foreign country with foreign rules. What was he thinking when he was provoked by his mother, that he could not tame his woman and they were left to fending for their own selves?
Then he saw a picture of her, looking like a golden Greek Goddess teaching yoga on the beach. That made him go mad. He would bring her home and show her, her place, prancing around in front of thousands of strangers. Only he had forgotten she was his ex. No property to stake claim on!
He felt a strong box landing straight in his solar plexus blowing the wind out of him completely! As he crashed on the floor howling in pain, Alexis bent down and roughly pulled him up. “Get out and never dare to set even your finger on her! Understand?” Two of his workers dragged him up and out.
That was the last she saw of him. Quite a few months back.
As she took a deep breath, she released the past and urged everyone to chant “Om”!
Her breath became calm and deep as the blue sea and the blue sky all around her! No more blues for her!
Author’s notes: Though a simple story it urges people, specially women to stand up for themselves.
Virbhadrasan, Prishakasan, Shirshasan – Different yoga poses.
Moussaka – , a Greek dish. It includes sliced eggplant baked in a ground beef sauce and then smothered in a cheesy white sauce.
Choriatiki – Greek traditional salad has the following basic ingredients: Fresh summer tomatoes, Onion, cucumber, Feta cheese, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned.
Spanakopita – Spanakopita is a popular Greek savory pie made of perfectly flaky phyllo dough with a comforting filling of spinach and feta cheese nestled in.
Dolmades- Greek dish made with either cabbage or vine/ grape leaves, stuffed with a delicious herb-y rice mix, shaped into little rolls.
Loukoumades- Little bite-sized fluffy sweet honey balls (the Greek version of donuts), which are deep fried to golden and crispy perfection.
Athena and Nike – Greek Goddesses from Mythology
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