Title-less – fiction

by Anita Menon

Once upon a time there was a little girl called Tara. When she was born, she was as colourless as water and as transparent as a crystal. Yes, you read that right. Strange as it may seem but it didn’t feel in the least bit weird. Her parents beamed with pride and pleasure to carry their special child in their hands. Tara cooed and smiled the whole day long.

Such a happy child she was!

Tara and her parents lived away from all the other people. Her father was an important man and they always had guards protecting them. Tara, the cheeky toddler wasn’t allowed to move about alone. So growing up, she was curious and perhaps more curious than most children her age might be. Restrain can do that to anyone. It is only natural. But you could easily see through her and there was nothing she could hide. All her emotions were always so clear as a cloudless sky. Red for anger, green for envy, blue for sadness and all the emotion colours didn’t have a chance to stay. They slipped because she was transparent and oh-so pure. Happy colours reflected off her; the pinks, yellows, the purples and lavender drenching people around her in a rainbow coloured hue.

Such a wonderful child she was!

When she was old enough to go to school, her parents were very worried. Since Tara was always so sheltered, she hadn’t known a care in the world. Her first step into the outside world was attending a play school very close to her home. They had guards standing outside her classroom door monitoring the school’s every move. Tara found that she was different compared to the rest of the children in her class. While she was transparent, the other children were solid colours. They kept away from her and Tara felt strange when she realized these children were cross with her for no fault of hers. She let it be and was content being her own friend. The teacher was indifferent because she felt that the school had to tolerate the presence of the guards because of Tara. But as months passed, everybody in her class warmed up towards her. She made close friends and her teacher loved her.

Such a sweet child she was!

As she grew older, she moved from the playschool to the big school (and the guards went wherever she went). She thought of it as an opportunity to make new friends. But it proved to be more difficult than in the playschool. Tara tried her best to fit in. She realized her classmates were quite relentless and wouldn’t let her in their circle. She wished to be a little less transparent and then they might accept her. Every night before going to sleep, she prayed hard. She prayed for a solid colour like that of her classmates. One such night, she saw a shooting star and she took that for a sign and satisfied, she slept peacefully. The next morning she woke up to see that nothing had changed. She felt cross and unhappy. When she reached her class, all her classmates were looking at her queerly. Tara didn’t dwell on it as she was used to her classmates’ rude stares. One of them came up to her and said, “You look different.” Tara pepped up a bit because this was the first time someone was attempting to speak to her. She rushed to the school washroom to look at herself in the reflection of the mirror and found that a pale blue had crept in. Tara wanted to jump up in joy but to her surprise, she didn’t feel like. She felt different. She caught her eyes In the mirror and found them less sparkly. That is when she realized she had changed. The pale blue colour won her many friends and Tara tried to convince herself that now that she was accepted, this is what she wanted to be; happy or not.

Such a lovely girl she was!

As a teenager, she felt confused. Suddenly pale blue wasn’t good enough. All her girl-friends had boyfriends and that kept them busy. Nobody had time for Tara. She felt inadequate constantly complained to her parents for all the deficiencies that were their fault. Her parents couldn’t see a single thing that was wrong with their daughter. They shook their heads in despair and tried in vain to help her see how wonderful, sweet and lovely she was. Tara didn’t see it. She saw a pale blue person with no personality, grace or beauty. Talented she was and she knew but that wasn’t enough to have a boyfriend. So she prayed again and saw the moon shining more brightly than it usually does. She took that as a sign and slept peacefully. The next day, she waited and waited for a change. Nothing happened until she saw a girl flirting with a boy in her class. Tara had the biggest crush on the boy. She turned into a deep shade of green. She felt cross and unhappy. Filled with jealousy, she marched towards the courting couple and called the boy out. The boy looked at her and said, “Wow! Tara, you look different, but nice. Do you want to hang out after school?” Tara was thrilled. Goosebumps invaded her green body and she took the boy’s hand and walked with him (with the guards walking behind them) . The other girl left in a huff.

Such a sought after girl she was!

Many boys came like seasons in a year and Tara was popular in college (with the guards beating up most of them). She was talented, smart and intelligent.  But When she went back home, her parents had to look hard to find their old Tara. She wasn’t transparent or colourless anymore. She changed colours as she pleased. She could green, red, yellow and blue. She could be a myriad of colours all at once  like an artist’s painting gone bad.  She didn’t reflect any colour because she was more concerned about how she was feeling. The only trait that she perhaps yet retained was her curiosity for everything. She wanted to try everything, do everything, and be everything. She wanted the whole world. Ofcourse there was nothing wrong with that, but all that ambition changed her. She was turning into a solid colour like everybody else around her. People in her life, like her parents and a few school friends saw her transform into something they couldn’t recognize. Tara thought being popular was being happy. She didn’t realize how many changes she had to go through to turn into the Tara of now.

Such an ambitious girl she is!

Tara moved out her parents home to work in the most prestigious firm there was. She told her parents that she wouldn’t have the guards following her anymore. She was a responsible adult and she knew what she was doing. Her parents respected her wishes and let her go. By this time she was a mesh-mash of solid colour, unidentifiable. But she felt powerful armed with all the tricks of the trade. The World was her oyster. During the initial days of her new work life, she met many people and each had a role to play in adding more colours. Sometimes,in her moments of peace Tara would sit and reflect. She would look at her baby pictures and see the shining baby she was and feel a bit lost. Soon something exciting would come her way and she would shrug and move on. Soon Tara got married to a man whom she thought she was in love with. She felt on top of the world and thought of this as her true happiness. If this was true happiness, why would she feel that tiniest bit of doubt each time she was alone with her thoughts. But she would brush it aside and get on with her life that revolved around her husband and her job.

Such a contented woman she is!

Time passed and life was rushing by. In the truest sense of the word, she was settled and God had been kind to her. She was a mother of beautiful baby girl. Tara’s little girl was colourless as a rain drop and transparent as a crystal. Tara was very protective about her. She would look at herself and feel disillusioned. Her baby was her past staring at her and her current self was a solid colour of something nobody could make out. She tried in vain to rub the colours off her body, wash them and even tried to dissolve them with the toughest of solvents. The harder she tried , the more miserable she felt as the colours wouldn’t budge. She asked her husband what she could do to go back to her former self.  Since he hadn’t seen Tara’s former self, he was helpless. Nevertheless he did sympathize with Tara. Tara found herself feeling lost in the everyday machinations of life and clinging to every tiny speck of happiness that came her way.

Tara knew there was a problem and that she needed help. She read books on enlightenment and did a lot of soul-searching but nothing seemed to help her. Frustrated and disappointed she took her daughter and went to live with her parents for a few days. At her parents home, she felt much at ease. The lingering questions ebbed for the moment and gave her the much-needed peace of mind. One day, as she strolled in her parents garden, she heard a voice calling out to her. Startled, Tara looked at the direction of the voice to find a young boy not older than 10 years,  staring at her. She noticed that he was gold and shining like the sun. His brilliance was blinding yet mesmerizing. She walked towards him to have a closer look but the boy ran off to her mother’s kitchen. She followed him to find him helping the cook peel onions. He was shining brightly and to her dismay nobody seem to see the glory of this boy. The cook got up and greeted Tara and asked her if she needed anything. Tara smiled and asked the cook,

” Who is this boy? What is his name?”

To which the cook replied, ” This is Surya. We don’t know where he is from. Maybe he is an orphan.”

Tara smiled at the boy who refused to look at her and kept at peeling the onions. Tara was hooked to the scene as she observed the golden boy peel of layer after layer of the onion to reveal the pink bulb. As if hypnotized, she followed the deft movement of the boy’s fingers. Suddenly on an impulse she ran out of the kitchen and into her bedroom. She looked at herself in the mirror and tried to identify the different colours on her body. She sat down with a note-book and a pen. With every colour she identified she noted down the emotion attached to. By the time it was midnight, she had a huge list of colours and emotions written down. Many of them were repetitions but she wrote them down anyways.

Tired and exhausted she took one more look at her list and went to bed. That night she had a dream. In the dream she saw Surya’s golden fingers peeling layers off the onions and each layer was a different colour. He kept peeling and peeling and peeling. The dream just didn’t seem to end. Finally when Tara awoke, she realized she had overslept. She felt a lightness that she hadn’t experienced before. She saw her daughter snoring lightly and that made her smile.

‘There is no greater joy than when the disturbed heart finds the source of its unhappiness. The heart knows now that the problem has been identified, the solution can’t be far behind. said Tara to herself.

‘Then she turned towards the mirror to look at her reflection closely and  imagined peeling layers of her colours one by one.

Such a relieved person she is!