Ecstacy

“You have This One Life! How do you wanna spend it? Apologizing? Regretting? Questioning? Hating yourself? Running after people who don’t see you? Be brave. Believe in yourself. Do what feels good. Take risks. You have this one life. Make yourself proud.” ¹

“Life is short, so live it. Love is rare, so grab it. Fear controls you, so face it. Memories are precious, so
cherish them. We only get one life. Live it.” ²

I pondered over the quotations that had transformed my laptop screen into live coal. The heat of it smouldered me but the warmth greeted me with a pacifying smile. Motivation? Stimulus? Positivity? Why would anyone want to be driven by some external force? Don’t we all have that spark within us? Scores of these on the Net, we read, feel inspired for a while and when faced with adversities and challenges, inspiration turns into perspiration! Oh, the evanescence of it all! 

Strangely, my eyes were still glued to the screen, reading, rereading, absorbing the essence, despite feeling the purposelessness of the motivational quotes.

 Am I a cynic? Why can’t I accept someone’s effort to revitalize life? What has made me muse about the transience of motivation? Why do I look at the impermanence? Bitterness seems to have engulfed me. Monotony, lethargy have taken the better part of me! No wonder I see the gloomy side of life.

The memories of strife, hardships, failures, criticism flooded my mind and I seemed to flow with the strong current of those troublesome memories.

I chided myself- ‘Rachita come out of your shell, there is so much to rejoice.’

Maybe it is the solitude that was playing havoc with my feelings. It has been long since I have stepped out, so engrossed I have been in my own world that I have lost sense of time and place. 

I should catch up with Rehana, the balm to my agitated soul. (How poetic!) 

The very thought of Rehana brought a smile on my face. I know I am beaming. Such is our bond. 

“Rehana, a cup of coffee at 5 o’clock today?”

“Ummmm, so finally you are out of your shell. Have been waiting to hear from you. Honestly, I am a little weary of this habit of yours. Break it Rachita, break that shell and  look at the world, it is beckoning you with open arms. Feel the immensity of it, the depth of it. Breath in the fresh air and fill yourself with the scintillating beauty of nature, your surroundings……”

Rehana’s liveliness has always been infectious. Rachita burst out laughing. 

“You said it. You know I have been down in the dumps for the past several weeks. Mental fatigue, emotional turmoil. Nothing seemed to uplift my spirits. One call to you and your magic wand has done it. Why did I think of you? Am I again going into that phase? 

“Oh, lift me like wave, a wind , a leaf

I fall upon the thorns of life

I bleed!” 

Remember Shelley’s Ode to West wind? What an expression of agony! These words are so close to my life. I see such pain and melancholy in these words. Life hasn’t been gentle with me. I know, you will not agree with me. But that’s how I feel, if only….. there it stops. 

Thou art my saviour.’ You redeem my tormented soul with your geniality. We are diametrically opposite, yet we strike a chord.”

“Rachita, you are incorrigible. Your philosophy will drive me crazy. Your coffee invite is accepted. I shall look forward to RENDEZVOUZ with Rachita.”

I could almost see her impish smile.

………………………..

Rachna paused. 

‘It wasn’t easy to pen your thoughts convincingly. My protagonist seems to lack depth. The character is turning out to be despondent person. A strong, convincing character should carry the story forward, despite all the vicissitudes that she/ he faces. 

She mused. 

‘My protagonist is shaping up as a cynic. Bitterness in a person cannot shoulder the responsibility of an entire story. Do I see my reflection in this character? Undoubtedly, yes.’

Rachna was agitated. This wasn’t what she had planned to write. Her original sketch and what she was delineating were poles apart. Remodelling was the best solution; she was convinced.

 ‘Rachna, the Bestseller, struggling to pen her thoughts!’ She wondered at the conflicts within her. What’s causing this tussle? Instead of the characters, it was she who was speaking, it was her struggles that were getting reflected in her protagonist, it was her thoughts, ideas that were floating in the story. She definitely was deviating from the point of view. Should she take a break? 

The very thought of abandoning the book idea, gnawed at her. 

Rachna got up from her desk, packed all her writing material neatly and stacked it in her book rack; having cleared the clutter from her desk, she took a deep breath and slowly released the air that had filled her lungs.

 Ah! How fresh the air feels! It was as though the block in the air passage was dissipating. She refilled her lungs with a whiff of fresh air, and felt fatigue taking to its heels. She strolled in the garden and shut all thoughts of story, plot, characters. 

‘Let me rejoice life. I have been too hard with myself. Self-care, self-love have disappeared from my life. My journey as an author has been a long one, and at what cost? I have merged my identity with Rachna the author. It is as though the ‘I’ in Rachna has been transforming with each book, merging with each character that came alive with every stroke of my pen. The bestseller tag has been so intoxicating that I dived deep into the sea of glory and fame. Success, achievements, appreciation, awards, interviews….. what a grandeur! What a breath-taking experience!’ 

Rachna relived every moment with fondness. Her resolution to keep thoughts away failed miserably. 

She looked at the starlit sky and smiled. ONCE A WRITER ALWAYS A WRITER. 

‘Rachna, bask in the glory of being an accomplished writer, you are ruthlessly ambitious, and it isn’t a sin as long as you aren’t snatching away someone else’s achievements and adding to your cart. Remember the arduous journey of yours. 

The ascent has been a journey into self and away from the world you live in, till you established a connect with your inner self, relentlessly reimaging yourself to adapt yourself to face the challenges. Hasn’t it been a worthy transformation? The connect is a harmonious one, your inner self has blended smoothly with outer world and the challenges have fine-tuned you. 

DO NOT REGRET. The merging has been a beautiful experience. Celebrate it. 

Rachna’s inner voice surfaced fervently. She couldn’t smother the feelings, in fact, she was keen on letting those pent-up emotions to flow out, liberating her from the shackles of the past. It’s time to move on. She felt her taut muscles relax. 

The past that has been haunting her for long, seemed to fade away leaving only a shadow of it lingering in her subconscious mind. No qualms, no pinching, no guilt pricks. 

………………………………………….

Hiren dumped his laptop bag on the sofa, loosened his tie impatiently and slumped on the chair. He was seething with rage; his clenched fists and gritting teeth were proof of it. His impatience grew as the clock ticked. She was not in sight.

“Rachna….” His raised voice shook the roof. 

“Racchhhnnaaa…”

“……..” she wasn’t audible. He walked towards the backyard.

“I have been calling you, have you gone deaf?” 

Rachna was shocked to see him flare up. 

“…..” Rachna felt choked; could hardly get her voice back to answer him. 

“Don’t give me those innocent looks. Ah! Frailty thy name is woman!” 

She stood there motionless. What was the reason for such indignation? She had never seen him lose his cool. Fear gripped her. She cleared her throat….but….

“Rachna, your parents hid the fact that you are a writer, that you are an established writer, that you have published books. It obviously means you have ardent fans, and you receive fan mails. If it is fair enough I wouldn’t have been kept in the dark about your passion, your vocation. We had met several times before we tied the knot, why wasn’t this particular interest mentioned even casually?”

Hiren lashed out at her. Seeing him in such rage, she took a step back to avoid any physical assault. This worsened the situation. He took a step closer to her and shook her shoulders. 

“Hiren you are hurting me.” She tried to free herself from his strong grip.

“Hurt! Don’t you dare talk about it. What about me, my family, aren’t we hurt? You have tricked us.”

“I don’t write anymore Hiren. I have given up my passion. For you, for us. For our family. Though you let me continue with my Corporate job, you did make it clear that my job is a need for the family, and I should look at it objectively and nothing more than that. My dreams crashed like a pack of cards.  It was difficult to come to terms with your demands, your dictates, but I did accommodate myself to suit the family requirements.”

“Yes, hiding it is my mistake, but I wanted to avoid any misunderstandings that may accrue between us. Now I understand I should have spoken to you about it, may be you wouldn’t have any objections, maybe you would have encouraged me. Hiren I do apologise for this grave mistake. …..”

Hiren stood his ground, for him it was a sin not just a mistake. It was his colleague who talked about Rachna’s books, congratulated him for “being the husband” of such a renowned author. That broke him completely. His office staff was busy appreciating Rachna’s skill as a writer, her mastery in weaving out convincing stories… it went on till hell broke loose. 

His ego was hurt, he felt belittled and embarrassed. Why didn’t she tell him before marriage about her cherished interest? It kept nagging him. Were there more secrets buried in her heart? Did she have any favourite author? Were her fans become more than admirers? Was there a special friend too? 

Day and night these thoughts kept him away from her. The gap kept widening. Two single cots replaced the double cot and that was it. Emotional detachment snatched their peace of mind and glaring errors in her office work made the management question her competence several times. 

“Hiren, let’s talk it out. We can’t shy away and allow the distance to grow further. I have apologised and I mean it. I am sorry that I made it look like a sacrifice. I have no regrets about giving up writing. Honestly, believe me….” She spoke in all earnest, but it fell flat on him.  

“Trust is the last thing between us. We live under the same roof but there is nothing that connects us. The gap is widening, I know, but tell me who is responsible? I am not comfortable with you. Tell me, did any of your fans propose to you? Did you have any special feelings for any……” He broke off.

Rachna was dumbstruck. 

“Tell me Rachna, these doubts are killing me. I can’t accept you. We all have one life to live. Let that one life be of our choice. And when choices are dissimilar compatibility is at stake.”

“What is the solution?” Rachna knew it even before he spelt it out.

“You know it. Convincing my parents will not be easy, but I am left with no option.”
……………………..
“Mutual”, “ at least in this we are together…”Rachna’s pale smile wrenched his heart. 

“May you find happiness in your choice.” He walked away.

“You too…”she knew he hadn’t heard her. It was his choice.
…………………………………….
 The chirping of the birds woke her to a fresh, exhilarating new beginning. A new dawn welcomed her. Rachna looked at the rising sun and the brightly lit sky. With a song on her lips, and a gleam in her eyes…. Rachna made her way into the world. The Brave new world of her CHOICE.
………………………………………   
“Rehana, ‘getting and spending, we lay waste our powers….’ I have fond memories of Wordsworth’s ‘The World is too much with us.’

I realise how unenthusiastic I have been through the rough years. My cynicism invaded my sensibilities and impoverished me. My thought flow, my values, my creativity… everything got swept away. We  have one life. Why can’t we make the most of it? Trivialities have taken the better part of us and have left us gaping at the immensity of  opportunities. We realise only when we bypass these golden chances. Each detour is a new chance, let us grab it. 

Life is a challenge, face it, life is a festival, celebrate it, life is …..life, live it. 

The ability to rejoice life is the most precious gift that Nature has endowed us with. I now know my life ambition. Let bygones be bygones, I shall not tread those paths that have robbed me of my charisma……”

“Rachita did you happen to rub the Alladin’s magic lamp? Such a wonderful transformation. I am so happy that you have retraced your steps. No looking back now. March ahead!”

Rachita looked at the offer letter from ISRO. 

“Sky is the limit …. Or is it?” 

Life is a celebration, rejoice!

……………………………………………..

“The author of the year award goes to Ms. Rachna for her book titled – “One life to live.”

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*  Quotes Source: 1. notsalmon.com; 2. Unknown.

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6 Comments

  1. Reply

    Starting lines are enough to tell about the flavour of the write up. I thoroughly enjoyed. I read multiple times and each time I read it gave me a different flavour of life. Congratulations

  2. Monica

    Reply

    Hi Shashikala. This is a good attempt. The POV from the writersw vantage was something unique and I enjoyed reading your take on the prompt.

    A few suggestions from my end.

    1. slowly released the air that had filled her lungs.// There is quite a lot of mention of lungs, and it sounds very clinical. May be use a different word or phrase – she breathed deeply, and the fresh air invigorated her. Something like this.

    2. may be you wouldn’t have any objections, // you wouldn’t have had any objections.

    3. Were her fans become more than admirers? // Were her fans becoming

    4. The gap kept widening. // This phrase is repeated twice or even thrice. Maybe used some different way of saying it? Like the disctance between them was increasing. Or, the chasm between fhem grew wider as time passed.

    Welcome to Penmancy. Keep writing! All the best! 🙌💖😊

    • Shashikala

      Reply

      Dear Monica
      Thank you for your feed back , inputs n review.
      Reg use of the word’ lungs’ it was a deliberate expression, unusual in the context of an emotional theme.
      Reg ‘ were her fans…..it is an oversight. Should have reviewed before submitting.
      I did think of the phrase’chasm widening…but did not incorporate.
      Reg the use of ‘have had’ is again oversight.
      Thanks for bringing it my notice. Henceforth I shall review n edit before submitting.

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