Thursday, April 30, 2015

Zaffre Alchemy

#AtoZChallenge – Flash fiction based on life’s philosophy or mood or emotions, interpreted using colours.

“Baba, the guests are here!” Tara stomped down the basement stairs and stopped at the last step. “Baba…”

“Sh… sh…” 

She glanced at his raised finger and sighed. It was of no use. She wouldn’t get any help from him, her eyes watered. Why did she expect every time? It’s her fault.

She watched him measure something blue in color from a vial and pour a drop in a beaker on low flame. The matter turned green and he cursed. Being a chemist, her father was always researching for a magic drug for her mother, who was in coma for past five years. Tara didn’t know how he got that blue color powder and was confident to find ‘elixir of life’ with its help. He grunted again and threw the material in the small basin he had installed in the basement.

She knew he would have forgotten her presence and the fact that a family had come to meet her younger sister for an alliance.

“Baba, you have to come for half an hour for Sara’s sake.”

He nodded. Sighing, she climbed the stairs to the living room, feeling tired shouldering the responsibility of earning, being a parent to her two younger siblings and taking care of the family for the past ten years. But there was no way out.
* * *

After an hour, Tara took a deep breath. Everything had gone well. Baba had cleaned himself and sat with boy’s parents for half an hour discussing everything under the sun. The boy seemed to like Sara and they were now talking with each other in their tiny garden. Baba had excused himself on the pretext of tending to their mother, but she knew he had gone to the lab again.

All of a sudden there was a noise as if a bomb had exploded and she ran down the basement with others following her. She gasped as she took in the sight the beaker had shattered over the flame, the entire table was burning and baba was lying unconscious on the floor.
* * *

Dr Arjun Maheshwari was angry beyond words when he saw Tara sleeping on the chair in the waiting room. The worry lines etched on her face even when her body had given in to fatigue. It was midnight and they had been able to revive her father. Her sister and brother had gone home. She seemed thinner than the last week, he had come to check on her mother. He sat on the chair next to hers and she woke up with a jerk.

“Sorry…”

“He is okay, you can go home. I’ll keep an eye over him. Or better still, you can sleep in the couch in my room. Back home you’ll start working again.”

She smiled shaking her head.

“I can’t see you like this Tara. Marry me, let me take care of you.” She shook her head again. “You are on the brink of a collapse.”

“I think I’ll go.” She stood up.
* * *


“What are you researching, Mr. Gupta?”Arjun asked in the morning.

“I will have a perfect formula for elixir of life, then your medicine would no longer be required young man.”

“And when will that moment come?” He was getting angry and didn’t want to curb it today.

“Soon, son. Soon.”

He stood up, hands fisted by his side. “When? When your daughter will also collapse like your wife? When you will lose your sanity? What would your wife do when she wakes up to find that you have sacrificed your daughter for her?”

The old man looked anywhere but him, twisting the bed sheet under his hand. But enough was enough.

“Have you even taken a look at her? She is destroying herself shouldering your responsibilities. Do you even know which subject your son is studying? Has love for your wife surpassed the love for people who are under your care? You are running after a mirage, ruining lives of your children. One should live in the moment Mr. Gupta, and that is the real elixir of life.”

“Arjun!” Tara stood at the threshold of the hospital room, looking daggers at him. “How dare you?”

“He is right,” Baba whispered trying to get out of the bed. “I have to go home. Throw them away. Throw the Zaffre away and everything.”

“Baba…” She held his hand. “Just relax… it’s okay.”

“No its not okay. He is right.” He looked at her, as if seeing her for the first time. How beautiful she was? Serene and caring. “How blind I have been..." He touched her cheek. "You are my treasure! You are my gold… my elixir of life.”
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