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  • Wayword

    Lachie looked at the dark and ominous sky, icy cold winds lashed at his face; this was perfect weather for the execution of his plan. Fewer prying eyes…

    Would Mr Watt’s shop be closed for the day? The only jeweller on Haydon street. Lachie desperately wanted to satiate his growling stomach. But first he had to pull off this game.

    Only sixteen, he had successfully pulled off countless petty thefts. Somehow, he seemed to be out of luck this time around. He had been keeping an eye on the Watts but was unable to find the ‘magic moment’ to make his entry. Mr Watt’s hawkish eyes never left anyone who entered 40 Haydon Street.  His wife who sometimes relieved her husband was a different story. A pale faced lady whose face sported bruises that appeared mysteriously.

    The problem was that no-one, but Mr Watt, knew when he needed a break…

    Lachie had to take a chance. He lurked around the doorway but then thought that he might raise suspicion. Luckily the bookshop opposite was deserted, he might spend some time in there…Not that he was a booklover, but it was the perfect location for him to keep an eye on the jewellers’. Who knows it might be his lucky day. The ‘Penguin Classics’ aisle, an ideal lookout for the shop next door.  

    The Watts, unlike other jewellers, did not have security cameras. Mr Watt was too stingy for such luxuries. So now it was just a waiting game for the perfect moment… As he flipped through a novel he saw some movement from the corner of his eyes. He turned to get a better view of 40 Haydon Street and what do you know! Mr Watt was walking out his shop leaving his wife to take care! Maybe the weather convinced him that there wouldn’t be many customers.

    Lachie waited for five minutes before he slipped out of the bookshop and briskly entered the shop. Mrs Watt’s smile was laboured, there was something motherly in her gaze as she looked at Lachie. As planned Lachie told her that he was looking for something special for his mother’s birthday.

    “Would you like to see a pair of earrings?” She asked softly. “Do you have something in mind?”

    “I will know when I’ll see it”, Lachie’s replied shrewdly.

    So, she brought out some pretty pearl studs and then some earrings with colourful gems. She carefully placed each pair on a velvet display tray. Lachie still looked dissatisfied and suggested maybe a trinket box might be a better option as he looked in the direction of the display case at the other end of the room. As Mrs Watt walked in the opposite direction Lachie quickly slipped the pearl studs into his pocket.

    Unnoticed Mr Watt entered.

    “How are you, young man?” came a booming voice. He quickly turned around to see Mr Watt looking at him curiously. Mrs Watt nervously shuffled towards them with a trinket box. Something immediately changed in her demeanour.

    “Oh, he was looking for something for his mother’s birthday…” Her voice trailed off as her husband interrupted “Well then hurry-up, you know that the shop closes in fifteen minutes,” he snapped.

    Lachie took this as a cue to leave, “Oh I will return tomorrow, mum’s birthday is still a month away.” Saying this he hurried out of the shop. Wondering what Joe, at the pawn shop, would offer him for the pearl studs. He forced Mrs Watt’s face away from his mind.

    “You must be joking!! Fifteen dollars?? Really, is that all you can offer, Joe? These are pearl studs!!” Screamed Lachie.

    “Hey, take it easy! Go find another buyer for your crap! Moreover, where is the receipt?” Joe yelled back. Joe knew Lachie didn’t have a receipt, he never did…

    “Okay, okay,” grumbled Lachie. “Give me fifteen dollars, hear take the pearl studs” Lachie grabbed the fifteen dollars and stormed out of the shop.

    Lachie spent most nights in a homeless shelter, he thought that he would stop over at Wilson’s for a burger and then head off to the shelter. He did not want to be locked out as they had accommodation for up to 50 people each night. If you were the 51st you were plain unlucky.

     The smile returned to Lachie’s face when he saw Lauren at the food counter. She always gave Lachie a generous serve of meat and potato mash. It had been a cold and miserable day; a hot meal was all he needed. Old Tom was sitting by himself, Lachie decided to join him for dinner. Tom wasn’t a great conversationalist he grunted in response to Lachie’s greeting. They shared a couple of short sentences and then returned to their meal.

    Lachie’s earliest pleasant memory was of his 5th birthday. He had a colourful cake and his mum had invited his neighbourhood friends for a tea party. His mum had been struggling financially and emotionally, it was only a matter of time with her drug habit.

    Most of the events that followed were a blur. Social services intervened, and he moved from one foster family to the next. School life was erratic, his grades were appalling and at 16 he found himself on the streets.

    He often wondered about his mother. He hadn’t met his dad, but his mum provided him with some sketchy details. He was a friend, they had a fling and Lachie was the result of that short affiliation. They had been teenagers, and nothing was given much thought. His mum moved away and was determined to keep and raise her child independently. Her parents disowned her, and she was left to find her own way.

    Though the odds were against him, Lachie desperately wanted to make things work. He wanted to start a small business with the money he had been saving. He had always been fascinated with cars and thought that a Car detailing shop would be ideal. He would then look for his mum and maybe support her… But he desperately needed some money for his plan to work.                         

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  • Crippling

    “Debilitating drudgery,” grumbled Shona. This is how it felt, she couldn’t pinpoint a time when it all started, this sense of meaninglessness. She went about her daily chores robotically, cooking, cleaning and organising her daughter’s room.

    ……………………………….

    She walked up the stairs till she reached the landing, in front of her was the terrace, a vast expanse of cement with what seemed like a tiny granny flat at the other end. It seemed strange that she hadn’t noticed this room before…. She entered the rickety door and found what looked like a fully furnished room. Though dusty it was a paradise for an antique collector. She didn’t touch a thing but walked into the connecting room with a door which almost seemed to be an extension of the wall. Blue paint was peeling off as she pushed open the door. Was it the muffled cry or was it her imagination? To her utter dismay she had knocked a toddler down on his face, she bent and tried to lift the child but was rudely stopped by a man with a bell in his hand ringing shrilly…

    Was that the doorbell? She sat up confused on her bed, realising it was that recurring dream… Hurriedly she got out of bed and ran to the door, “Sorry Em, mum was having a nap,” she explained to her ten-year-old daughter, “how was school?” Shona was grateful for the mindless chatter that followed.

    Next morning after Emily left for school, she decided to go for a stroll to the grocery store and pick-up snacks for afternoon tea. Walking down the cheese aisle at Woolies she felt someone’s glaring gaze on her. Looking up she spotted him, she fumbled past him and rushed out of the store without any groceries. She had to get away, he mustn’t know where she lived. She had worked very hard to disappear, she knew that an AVO wouldn’t keep him away for long, he must not know where she lived.

    She kept checking over her shoulder to ensure that no one was following. Maybe she should spend some time at the local library, she thought. She walked in past the librarian and to the ‘new release’ section. Skimming through the books, unable to focus… She must get herself together, she scolded herself, for Emily. She couldn’t continue with this fear and looming uncertainty. What could she do? She tried everyone and everywhere, and he kept turning up out of nowhere!

    Her part-time job as a waitress hardly provided financial stability, they just got by. She was out of options and had to stop running. Checking her wristwatch nervously she decided to return home, it would soon be time for Emily’s return. She took a shortcut through the park checking regularly over her shoulder. Letting herself in she shut the door behind her and heaved a sigh of relief, she was quite sure that she wasn’t followed. She fixed herself a cup of tea and sat down on her favourite couch to savour the moment. The doorbell rang, who could it be it was only 1pm, it couldn’t be Emily. Should she ignore the doorbell?

    ________________________________

    “Mum what’s wrong, why did you take so long to answer the door? Why are you so upset?” asked Emily. “Something at work?”

    “Yes…Yes just a nasty conversation. Nothing to worry…” she lied, wanting desperately to protect Emily. Emily needn’t know, she rationalised.

    “Okay mum”, said Emily, hugging her mother reassuringly.

    “How are you home so soon? Its only 1pm.”

    “The clock has stopped mum; it is half past three.”

    She sat down on the couch, smiling nervously.

    Should she inform the police, after all she had to protect her daughter. Pacing her tiny apartment, she couldn’t decide if calling the police would mean them dropping by and then the volley of questions that both she and Em would be subjected to… Was it worth it?

    “Mum I am hungry”, Em’s voice interrupted her thoughts.

    “Oh yes, darling I will fix you a sandwich”.

    “Mum can I have noodles instead?”

    “I should have a two-minute packet in the pantry, let me check…”

     Emily’s face brightened at the thought of noodles. She chatted about her school day excited about a new girl in her class whose family had recently moved from Sydney.

    _______________________________________________

    Later that afternoon after Emily returned to her room to complete her homework, Shona finally called the local police station.

    “Matthew Summerfield, how can I help you?”

    “Hello, this is Shona McPherson… I saw my ex-husband, James McPherson in the grocery store earlier today. He has turned-up despite the AVO… please help me… I don’t want him turning up at my doorstep again… I have a ten-year-old daughter… I can’t have him harassing us again…”

    “Calm down Ma’am, I am a trainee just give me a moment to take down the details and record your complaint”

    Shona could hear another person’s voice in the background, probably the mentoring officer.

    “Mrs McPherson… This is David Reynolds; we understand your predicament but according to our records James McPherson died in a car accident earlier this month.”   

  • Wings

    ‘Cause we all have wings/But some of us don’t know why’- Never Tear Us Apart- INXS

    Wings… How exhilarating and freeing. Takes me back to the ‘Star Trek’ days when pushing a button would mean we could be transported to another world. Wings I suppose wouldn’t have similar powers but not bad for a start… The first time I heard the lyrics of the INXS song it made so much sense we can be free if that is what we choose. But often we choose to be shackled, trapped, bound to our routine mundane lives.

    Then there are those of us who quite like this routine… Why question or change the status quo? I suppose there is nothing wrong with this perspective or way of life if it doesn’t serve as a form of criticism to those of us who love spontaneity and the freedom of thought and action. To be oneself, to live life as if it might end any moment. The joy of living life to its fullest. Now don’t get me wrong, for me living life to its fullest is- sitting on a comfortable couch and reading… or listening to songs… or writing my thoughts. All part of my list of things to living life to its fullest. Not having to think about that it will soon be lunchtime and I must have something ready for the family to consume or not having to follow any timetable of any sort. To just be spontaneous is all I ask…

  • To Friendship and Love

    Them- Shireen and Tasavur

    The quiet, cool, summer morning, an invigorating start to the weekend. Shireen loved spending the early hours of the morning reading amidst chirping birds.

    After shoveling down her brekky under the watchful eye of her mother she slipped away and ran upstairs to escape to the peace and quiet of their terrace. She loved the sights and sounds of the morning calm.

     After a while she turned to her novel, sitting comfortably with her legs folded on the ledge of the terrace, there was something liberating about this simple act. However, there was something different today, she felt uncomfortable she looked up and searched the horizon. On a building not half a kilometer away was this figure, a boy dressed in a sky-blue kurta pajama who looking straight in her direction. Something stirred within her, there was something unsettling about this, though not offensive. “Who is this?” she thought. “What is doing up there?” He had as much of a right to enjoy the morning as she did, she told herself. She settled into reading the book, when she looked up again he was gone.

    The following weekends they shared this space amidst the morning calm, not knowing much about each other. However, a growing restlessness and curiosity led to an ongoing exchanging of notes and letters, and their friendship grew.

    The society they lived in frowned upon any friendship between a boy and girl…this was their predicament. But not reason enough for them to give-up on their friendship. They decided to meet at their local market, if only for fifteen minutes at a time. Shireen loved the thrilling exuberance as she walked briskly towards their rendezvous. She silently prayed that they wouldn’t be found out. She ignored the conflicting thoughts that arose in her mind, walking purposefully.  

    His smile was glorious, there was something so adorable about his eyes which reflected beaming happiness on seeing her… She couldn’t help but love him. She knew that their situation was hopeless, they were young and weren’t allowed to choose friends from the opposite sex! Even if it was their own lives at stake! No one would take their feelings seriously.

    She often queried the very validity and depth of their feelings. Should she bother entertaining ideas of their continued friendship or just give up… It was all too much!

    “Shireen what is worrying you?” Tasavur’ s gentle voice cut through her thoughts. “You are here…but not here. What is the matter?”

    “I don’t know what to think,” she said looking into his luminously playful eyes. “Why do we have to meet secretly? What is so wrong in us being friends?

    “True, we can’t change the world, so we have to make the most of our situation?” he lovingly, tried to reassure her. Trying desperately to make her understand that this was the best arrangement, given their situation. Shireen’s heart fluttered as his eyes softened. And they did what they always did, smile at each other and decide on their next rendezvous.             

  • Staying Connected

    Welcome to WordPress! This is your first post. Edit or delete it to take the first step in your blogging journey.

    I am passionate about reading, music and travel… I am a published poet and look forward to publish other forms of text. I was fortunate to experience a beautiful childhood in the North Indian city of Lucknow, a city rich in culture.

    Currently, I am a teacher in Canberra, Australia, where I live with my beautiful family.