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Author Topic: Sign Off to begin  (Read 2637 times)

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Offline KornoTopic starter

Sign Off to begin
« on: June 13, 2013, 09:49:36 PM »
[I feel it necessary to honestly state that the I got the impetus for this very short story from one crazy question that was set here]

I once dreamed that I had established myself as a writer with a fair degree of popularity. Gone were the days when I used to spend hours on end, trying to script a reasonably good plot without making much progress. As a writer, I found that words flowed with ease and it was not at all difficult to build on an idea. Soon, my books were eagerly awaited to be released and I was invited, by the shop owner of a renowned book store in town, to autograph my books for avid readers and fans who, most likely, would be inside the shop at the specified hour. At the book store, I found the gathering was unusually large and I was overwhelmed at the response that my much awaited new book had generated. I could hardly suppress my inner glee when I walked in, my costly pen tucked inside the breast pocket of my jacket, waiting to be unsheathed and used for my signature.  At a corner of the shop, I eyed a small rostrum which, I was certain, had been built for the event that was to follow in a while. The shop owner was standing beside the rostrum and I ambled across to inform him about my presence, trying to push my way through the crowded floor.

   Before I could reach the rostrum, an elderly lady held an open book towards me, with imploring eyes. May be she was too old to push her way forward towards the rostrum, I thought, and was seizing this opportunity to get my autograph when I was nearer. I quickly pulled out my pen and, with a flourish, signed on the blank page held in front of my eyes. By the time my ornamental signature was complete, the shopkeeper was by my side, glaring at me through his spectacles.

   “Whatever on earth made you sign on that book?” he asked, without an iota of recognition in his voice.

   I looked at him bewildered and completely taken aback. Here was I, having turned up at his invitation, signing a book of which I was the author, being helpful to an elderly lady who was unable to proceed to the rostrum, and this guy questions me in such a rough tone in front of all and sundry! But, before I could recover and respond to his question, he had me on the mat again.

   “You have any idea who would be here in a short while? And do you know on what book you signed just now? Any idea at all? Do you know why all these people have gathered here? ” he asked in a grave voice.       

   I glanced at the book that was now in the hands of the elderly lady. My hand went almost to mouth as I saw written, on the cover of the book, INFERNO – By Dan Brown.
   It was impossible for me to look at the shop owner, or the elderly lady or as a matter of fact, at any body inside the shop. Eyes on the floor, I wanted to disappear as quickly as I could. Pushing my way back through the crowd that was surging forward towards the rostrum, I had a trying time reaching the back which was less crowded.

   I was very near to the exit when, all of a sudden, I felt a tug at my trousers. Looking down, I found that a tiny hand had gripped me somewhere near the knee. A little girl, may be around seven, with her blonde hair tied in a pony tail, was peering at me through her expressive blue eyes. In her other hand, she was holding my latest book, CASTLE FEVER which also was being released that day.

   “Please, could I have your autograph,” she said sweetly.

   The pen was once again in my hand but, this time, my reaction was not that of a person basking in gloated pride but that of one in dejected hurry. Yet, the smile on the girl’s face was intoxicating and surely raised my spirits. Asking her name, I got to know that she was Anna.

   My autograph on her book, she ran back towards her mother who stood at a distance, witnessing the scene enacted by her little girl and the much belittled author.

   The girl was happy beyond imagination – she now possessed a book, a book that carried the autograph of its author. I too felt elated, for no matter what may have happened a while ago, I had been able to bring some joy to a little girl with my first autograph underneath the following words –

                                                                                       “To Lovely Anna –
                                                                                            THANK YOU

Offline KornoTopic starter

Re: Sign Off to begin
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2013, 10:13:00 PM »
             The face of that little girl and her spontaneous joy that I had witnessed did not leave me quickly. Nor even, perhaps, the face of her mother, radiantly smiling at just seeing her daughter so happy that evening.

             A few days later, ambling inside the mall to replenish my much depleted stock of groceries, I saw Anna and her mother, equally busy in selecting their household necessities. Normally, one would tend to forget a casual acquaintance, more so if he or she was a child, but I hadn’t. Soon, they were just in front and we faced one another.

            “And what’s our pretty Anna shopping with her Mom?” I asked smilingly.

            The little child held on to her mother’s hand, without an answer to my curiosity. Either she was shy to respond or she preferred to keep her secret to herself.

            “She wants to write stories and is looking for the right exercise book in which she can begin,” smiled her mother, “isn’t that so Anna?”

            Little Anna nodded her head in approval and then looked up and smiled, “What are you shopping for Korno?”

            I was surprised that she had called me by name, for it seemed quite unlikely that, at her age, she could spontaneously recollect the name of a person from an earlier brief encounter. 

           “Some food to fill my empty stomach and some books to feed my hungry mind,” I smiled and said, even as I extended a hand to both the mother and her daughter and turned to Anna whose hand I held.

          “I would love to read your story Anna. Have you thought about what you are going to write; a fairy tale with lots of castles?” I asked her.

          “No, I haven’t,” Anna replied, “but I’ll think about it when I sit in front of my window. Will you help me?”

          “I think the window will help you more than I ever could, but I am willing to try. May be, you can help me too. Tell you what, let’s help one another,” I suggested.

          “But how on earth can we write stories if we keep standing here,” asked Anna impatiently.

          “Sure thing,” I said and looked at Anna’s mother, for the answer to that riddle lay with her. If she was reluctant to let a stranger into her house, she would find an excuse to turn down Anna’s implied wish. If, on the other hand, she was comfortable with the idea, she wouldn’t hesitate to offer an invitation.

Offline KornoTopic starter

Re: Sign Off to begin
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2013, 01:16:34 PM »
Anna’s mother decided to repose her trust in me, for she took little time to decide on the invitation.

“Beyond doubt, Anna would be happy if she could share that window of hers with you. May be, if you are not too occupied, she could get your company this weekend? By the way, I am Fanny Miller and we live not too far off, assuming that you stay somewhere nearby yourself,” she said, exuding as much warmth as one would expect from a dignified and, certainly, graceful lady.

Having provided me with their address, we parted to complete our shopping, the very purpose for which we had come to the mall. As I picked up my requirements from the shelves, I thought of Anna. Her innocence and smile were certainly captivating and I looked forward to my literary journeys with this little girl. But, in all fairness and honesty, I couldn’t help but think of Fanny Miller with equal intensity – not with any particular intention as many would interpret but with the curiosity that men get themselves entrapped into when introduced to a woman.

The days that followed till the weekend went about briskly. I carried on with my writing, erasing as many ideas that sprung in my mind as the number that I found worthwhile to remain in my laptop. The best thing to have happened in the age of computers, to writers at least, is the ability to create and delete random ideas that flow in the mind. One did not have to scribble on pages, strike out sentences or even tear up pages of rubbish. This enormous benefit gave me the freedom to toy with ideas, begin with a story and then, if dissatisfied, change it completely to begin afresh.

Soon, I stepped out of bed into the weekend Saturday morning. The parting of curtains ushered in as much sunshine as the tree outside would allow; the quivering of its leaves that early morning created crazy shadows on the wall opposite my bed. Just the right morning, I thought, to make one feel happy and optimistic to look forward to.

Later in the day, I was driving along the boulevard leading to the house of Fanny Miller and her daughter Anna. When I alighted from my car, Anna was on the portico of her house, curiously and intently listening to the distinctly unique call of a bird that repeated on and off from a nearby tree. I went up to her unobserved, for she was not only engrossed in that sound but was looking the other way. I stood awhile behind her, not wishing to barge in and break the intensity of her participation in the serenade that nature herself had laid out for her. After some moments, she looked behind her but the usual smiles that easily formed on her lips the other day, seemed to have been taken over by a serious and thoughtful face.

“Hi! Little Lady! Where on earth did you hide your smile today?” I asked.

Anna didn’t respond to my question, remaining as thoughtful as she was. I followed up my question with another, as soon as the bird’s whistle broke out in strings of ten.

“You know what the robin is telling you?” I asked in an affectionate tone.

“No, I can’t,” she said seriously, “but I can see it sitting on that branch over there.”

“Listen carefully, Anna, and you’ll know that the robin sings to tell something that you should be doing right now,” I smiled.

She remained serious but it was apparent that Anna was now curious to know what the bird had been singing all the while.

“It’s what robins go on repeating all the time for those who are sad. Cheerily, cheer up, cheer up, cheerily, cheer up…….can you make that out? Listen carefully again, Anna,” I explained to her.

I could see a smile forming at the corner of her mouth as she interpreted the bird’s whistles in the manner in which I wanted her to. Soon, she was laughing her heart out and it was difficult for me to make out what carried more mirth and innocence – the call of the bird or the laughter of the girl standing beside me.

“Ah! That’s better,” I said,”now, we can go sit beside that window of yours and think of what to write. But first, where’s your Mom?”

« Last Edit: August 18, 2013, 01:53:17 AM by Korno »

Offline KornoTopic starter

Re: Sign Off to begin
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2013, 10:44:14 PM »
 As we entered through the front door Mrs. Miller came out from the kitchen, an apron across her waist and her hair partly disheveled, something that only enhanced the already abundant beauty that she possesed. This only reconfirmed my belief that women need not necessarily have to take recourse to their make-up kit to look more beautiful when they are naturally so.

As she came towards us, I could sense that her invitation the other day was not one offered on the spur of the moment. The warmth of her smile was enough to get across the message of being welcome to both the child and her mother.

“Pardon me but I look awful at the moment,” she said, seemingly embarrassed in the little beads of sweat and flour that she was brushed with in the kitchen, “but please, do come inside and feel at home. We are overjoyed to have you here with us this afternoon.”

“Thank you Mrs. Miller but you forget that Anna has already taken over the duties of being the perfect host. Hospitality seems to flow in the house and its members rather easily, I believe,” I responded to her welcome.

 “How sweet,” the graceful lady said as she looked away smilingly. Sometimes, the best way to overcome a compliment is to ride over it, just as you would over a wave while surfing. She just took it in her stride and looked at her daughter.

Anna was impatient, for she pulled her mother’s hands to ask if she could take me to her small study room and the window about which she had told me earlier. At that moment, nothing could be more important to her than showing me her small kingdom, the small desk and the window beside it - a place where she reigned with her innocence and imaginative mind.  I leaned out of the window to see the surroundings and then smiled at Anna.

“Beautiful! How ridiculously beautiful!” I uttered.

There was no doubt in my mind that Anna’s kingdom, small as it seemed to my eyes, was really vast in a different sense. It extended to the depths of her thoughts and imagination that could truly become an empire in time through her experiences and knowledge over the years. A tug at my trousers and I turned around to face Anna. It was obvious to me that she demanded my undivided attention; she was the empress after all.

“Korno, won’t we begin?” she enquired with an air which exuded authority.

 I bowed even as I said, “Yes, Your Majesty, we must !”

Offline KornoTopic starter

Re: Sign Off to begin
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2013, 06:41:35 AM »
I looked at Anna’s desk and what she had placed on it. Her new writing book, with an ornamental cover, lay on one side as did a pencil, sharpened and ready to undertake its journey on the blank pages. On the desk, beside her items, were a sheaf of blank papers and a pen which, I could guess, were provided for me. Two upholstered chairs, a smaller for her and the larger for me I presumed, rested by the desk till we drew them out.

“Please, let’s sit down Korno,” she urged.

“Ah!” I said, looking at what she had arranged for me, “So the lovely princess thinks of her subjects too, I see. Thank you, Your Majesty.”

Making myself comfortable, I looked at Anna. She fidgeted in her chair for a while and I wondered what thoughts were going through her tender mind. I watched her actions silently, not wishing to impose my thoughts on her. She looked out of the window searching, bending back and front, to get a wider view of what opened out to her outside. Soon, her attention was inside the room as she peered at the Barbie doll lying on the floor in a corner, and then slowly looked up at a painting of a castle and a queen riding out on a horse. I continued to follow her eyes, for I could guess that her eyes were searching for a story through these visual inputs. Back went her attention to her writing book, but not before her eyes remained on a photograph frame of her mother placed on a shelf affixed to the wall. Looking up once at me, she glanced again at my sheaf of papers and then back at that book of hers, flipping a few of its pages. In the end, she shrugged her shoulders.
“Korno, I don’t know where to begin,” she surrendered in an expression of helplessness.

“Well, you could begin with any of the thoughts that went through your mind a while ago, Princess,” I said.

Anna stared at me before she queried, “Which one?”

“You could write something about the robin that you strained your neck to see just now. Even perhaps about the doll you glanced at, making it something human, like Pinnocchio; or may be, about a queen living in a castle, a brave one who fought beside her subjects. Or, very easily, you could write about your loving mother.”

She didn’t say anything for a while, preferring to keep looking down at a blank page on her book with her pencil in hand as she listened to what I had to say.

“Anna, if you so feel, we could even get all those characters into one story. We could get someone, just as pure and lovely as your Mom, to be an angel or fairy who would turn the doll into a pretty and sweet girl like you. The robin could be her friend and they could set out to a mysterious land with a wonderful brave queen. Would you like to try that out?”

Offline KornoTopic starter

Re: Sign Off to begin
« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2014, 09:31:48 AM »
I was certain that my words had brought about a chain of thoughts in the little girl. Just at that moment, her mother walked into the room.  By now, Mrs. Miller had finished her chores in the kitchen and she had changed into a lovely summer dress – cotton, pleated, coral colored frock that came down to her knees. Every trace of the earlier busy homemaker was gone and she oozed a beauty that was too much for me to remain indifferent to. I started comparing her smile with those that had looked out at me from TV screens or from the pages of magazines, familiar and famous faces that had stood apart from many other women who were no less beautiful.

“Mom, did you hear what Korno said just now?” she asked of her mother, repeating what I had told her a while ago.

“It’ll take more than a wish to turn me into a fairy and that too with magical powers Anna,” said Helen Miller smiling, “but you have the wand that should help you to do it yourself.”

Anna stared at her mother, unable to comprehend fully what she meant. Mrs. Miller came across to where we were sitting and picked up the finely chiseled pencil that lay on the table.

“This, Anna! This is your wand,” she said affectionately but trying to convey as much seriousness as she could, “and this has the magical powers that could be yours all through your life.”

Mrs. Miller had put across something valuable to her daughter. As someone who loved to write, her words only added to my already rising level of curiosity for this lady. Given an opportunity, I would have loved to get answers to a fleeting lot of questions but these might have been embarrassing to her and, almost certainly, would have shown me in poor light. I decided to keep my curiosity in check and quickly focused on Anna.

“Begin Anna, go on,” I said, “start your story and see where it leads. Once you start it must lead somewhere, even if it resulted in walking just a few paces.”

Anna picked up the pencil on the desk and, turning a leaf on her writing book, began her journey. I was eager to know how this little girl began her story. At her age, she would have come across most stories beginning with “Once upon a time….”.

Anna was not exactly sitting beside me and I found it a bit difficult to read what had been the opening sentence in her story. I didn’t want to make it too obvious that I was peeping at what she was writing but, even if she did notice my effort, she ignored my curiosity. Soon, the words that made that sentence were clear to my eyes and I could well make out how she had begun.

“I got a lovely gift from my mother that afternoon. It was a magic wand with which I could do anything that I wanted.”

Offline KornoTopic starter

Re: Sign Off to begin
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2014, 12:43:26 PM »
Anna seemed thoughtful after that first sentence but soon she continued to write her lines. For a little girl like her, I was amazed at the flow of her thoughts once she had settled down and, thereafter, she wrote easily. Finding her daughter to be immersed in her thoughts, Fanny Miller left the room. She had played the role of the fairy to the hilt even though, earlier, she had declared that it would take more than her daughter’s wish to turn her into a fairy. To my mind, the purpose of the fairy was to get Anna to begin writing and this had been accomplished. 

In a little while, the gentle hum of a lawnmower floated through the open window beside Anna’s desk and, although no one was immediately visible, it was neither difficult to guess who was on the job. Soon enough, I saw Mrs. Miller busily mowing the open spaces of her compound. Back and forth she went along the turf but always ensuring that even though she overlapped on each run, she did so without the wheels going over the same line again. She was a busy lady, no doubt about it and to me it seemed that she preferred to complete these tasks alone. A sudden gush of wind rushed in out of nowhere and as it brushed against this graceful lady, playing mischievously with her golden hair and the hem of her sober skirt, I couldn’t help but inwardly appreciate her beauty. I remained seated for a while before I got up, aiming to walk outside while little Anna continued with her story.

“Are you leaving Korno?” Anna’s eyes still remained fixed on the sheet that she was writing on, “I would have preferred if you stayed a while longer.”
“Well, no, princess. I was just thinking of taking a stroll outside your house,” I answered in explanation, “I just wondered if I could talk a little with a fairy. You don’t come across them frequently, so I wanted to seize the opportunity.”

“I think I know the fairy that you are talking of,” Anna replied, “Okay. Go, if you must but come back….if you can.”

“Of course I will,” I was already at the door of her room, “but tell me Anna, is there anything that your mom can’t do? Or, rather, she doesn’t like doing?”

“Yes,” she said, without lifting her eyes. I waited for her to continue but she kept quiet. I prodded her again.

“Yes? Is that what you said?”

Anna preferred to remain quiet and I knew that it would be futile to coax or goad her for an answer. It could be possible that this was a shortcoming in her mother that the girl didn’t want to share. Or, it could be just something which the little girl wanted out of her mother but couldn’t get for different reasons altogether. Cruelly, I was insistent.

“Well, is it something that your dad can do but mom can’t?” I had been curious to know the exact composition of this family and the question of the ‘missing’ person of the house was in mind.

“I don’t have a dad. I never did,” the little girl was bereft of any emotion. Much as I was taken aback by her words, I wondered if it could be because her parents were divorced. It could also be that she was born after her father’s death. My curiosity had taken a beating.

Offline KornoTopic starter

Re: Sign Off to begin
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2014, 01:28:20 PM »
I walked out of the room wondering if I hadn’t made an inconsiderate remark to a child who had been deprived the love of a father. To my thinking, the unique and distinct love of both the parents was necessary for a child. You cannot exclude one at the expense of the other and a blend of both makes up the love that nourishes a child.  It is another matter that it does not always happen like that in life and fate and circumstances very often decide otherwise.  I felt a trifle guilty as I walked out of the room and house.

Outside, I stood at the edge of the turf and watched Mrs. Miller mowing at the other end. Soon, she turned and followed the tracks to come nearer towards where I stood.

“You always seem to have work in your hands,” I appreciated.

“But it’s so much fun,” she responded happily. She had already turned around to continue mowing as she headed to the opposite side. I pondered over what I could ask next. I had about two to three minutes in hand before she would be back again at this side of the green turf.

“I would love to share that fun, if you will permit,” was more a statement than a question that I could think of and say when she came nearer. I had almost taken a step towards her to follow through with what I had said.

“Good heavens! Whatever for?” a question had been shot at me this time. She didn’t wait, having turned around again and walking away briskly.

It was impossible to continue a conversation in the manner that we were indulging in. More so, Mrs. Miller, to me, seemed far too distant and indifferent to encourage further conversation and I was almost walking back to Anna when she was near this end again. May be she could sense my despair for her voice and words carried far more warmth than earlier.

“I am almost done, Korno,” she said, “and both of us would look ridiculous if we decided to share something when there’s hardly anything left. But thank you, all the same.” She didn’t turn away as briskly as she had been doing previously.

“I understand,” I said and then continued smilingly, “May be you’ll keep some real hard work left for me when I turn up the next time.”

“You bet I will,” she laughed and continued mowing the lawn. I too was back with Anna in a short while.

Back in the room, I found that little Anna had made considerable progress in her story. She had already filled in two pages and I was eager to read the lines just as much as she was to let me read them.

It didn’t take too much time to read the two pages that this little girl had written but I was truly amazed in the manner in which she was trying to weave her plot. The wand, I thought, was busy with the task in hand.

Offline KornoTopic starter

Re: Sign Off to begin
« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2014, 12:27:02 PM »
Anna’s plot evolved around the magical powers of the wand. Like any child, or even grownups, it was apparent that the colorful rainbow had always been something more than ethereal to her. She had imagined that the wand had transported a little girl to a world that comprised of seven kingdoms, each with a distinct colour of the rainbow that we sometimes behold on a rainy day. The castle where the king lived, the houses where the people dwelled, the sky that domed overhead, all these and more had that one uniform colour after which the kingdom had been named. So it was that there was Redshire, Orangedome, Yellowsphere, Evergreen, Bluecastle, Indigoland and Violette.

What amazed me was that she was trying to show that the character of the residents of each kingdom, including their king, carried the usual traits that we relate to a particular colour. The people of Red shire, for example, were blood thristy and aggressive and greedy war mongers. Orangedome had its people and a king who were good natured, likable and social. In this way, Anna had briefly described the attitude of each kingdom. I was certain that with a bit of encouragement, she could indeed write a wonderful story that any child would like.

“Anna,” I said, filled with an interest,”this is simply wonderful. I can’t wait to read more.”

Anna seemed indifferent to my appreciation.
“Did you meet the fairy?” Anna suddenly blurted out, oblivious to what I was saying. I quickly realised that she was hinting at her mother with whom I had just conversed outside.

“Yes, I did. But she is one busy fairy, I can tell you that.” I responded.

“You like her, don’t you?” Anna prodded me. What was she trying to lead me to, I thought?

“Of course!” I emphasized before I added,” Just as much as I like you and about almost everything that you have or what is your very own, not to mention that captivating story that you have just begun.”

Anna kept quiet, fiddling with the pencil in her hand that her mother had termed ‘the wand’. Whether her thoughts roamed around the story she was weaving or whether she was pondering over my ‘likings’ I could neither guess nor know.

Offline KornoTopic starter

Re: Sign Off to begin
« Reply #9 on: September 19, 2014, 12:36:23 PM »
Much as I would have liked to stay, and not just for Anna, I felt that it would be wiser to leave. No matter how much Anna might have wished my company, I couldn’t afford to have her mother silently wanting my exit.

“If the princess would permit, I was hoping to withdraw,” I bowed to Anna.

“What makes you believe that permission will be granted?” Anna was being mischievous.

“No?” my voice asking in a tone of uncertainty.

“You should know, Korno, that in this kingdom, permission comes from the Queen,” little Anna said impishly.

“But it was you for whom she had engaged me,” I countered,”surely, in that case, you should be the one to decide.”

Anna simply dismissed me with a wave of a hand, in probable acceptance . She might not have liked the thought of my departure but I walked out of the room.

Outside the house, as I walked down the cobbled path, I saw Mrs. Miller in conversation with an elderly woman at the gate. A neighbor probably, I surmised.

“I take your leave, Mrs. Miller,” I said smiling,” your daughter has helped me to spend some wonderful moments - enough to see me off for a few days but inadequate to leave me hunger for more. I wish both of you well.”

“She has taken a fascination for you, Korno. Or else, she wouldn’t have spent so much time inside the room while I remained outside mowing the lawn,” Mrs. Miller said, “and you have encouraged her sufficiently to make me believe that her interest in the story that she is writing will remain.”

The elderly lady, who stood beside Mrs. Miller, smiled broadly.

“Fanny tells me that you are an author, Korno. That’s your name, right. Just in case you took me to be just a neighbor, I am Mrs. Patricia Palmer, Anna’s grandmother. But yes, I do stay nearby,” the elderly lady had introduced herself.

I extended my hand and warmly shook her hands,” Ma’am, it’s been a pleasure knowing your family – from grand mother to grand daughter. “

“Will you be back next weekend, Korno?” Mrs. Miller queried.

The expression on Mrs. Palmer’s face was expressive enough to indicate that she was keen to know the answer although she didn’t say as such. I knew I had a busy schedule the entire next week and, frankly, I would have to stitch together some time to be here. I was about to express my diificulty and apologize.

Just at that moment, involuntarily, I turned back my head towards the house. I could see Anna standing behind the glass panes of the window to her room. As our eyes met, she smiled, charming and innocent as I would have liked. The decision on my visit next weekend became easier.

“I would like to, Mrs. Miller, if little Anna is around,” I was happy to say.

Offline KornoTopic starter

Re: Sign Off to begin
« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2014, 10:01:56 AM »
The weeks that followed were one busy phase for me as I immersed in my writing to meet the deadline set by my publisher. Besides, I had been out of town visiting my parents. These factors prevented any further interaction between me and this small but wonderful family. It was much later that, quite accidentally, I bumped into Mrs. Miller at the end of a rather grueling day. I had been to the library to collect a few reference books that I needed for my next story, a crime thriller that was different from the children’s stories that I usually wrote. I had selected my books and stood in a queue in front of the librarian when I saw Mrs. Miller walking up with her selections in her hand.

A smile was the best and the most that I could offer when our eyes met and she responded with one, herself.  I moved back a couple of paces, allowing her to stand in front of me.

“Hi,” I whispered, not wishing to distort the silence of the library.

“Oh! Hi,” she responded.

A hand of hers came up to her mouth, as a cover to help her voice from floating around beyond what was absolutely necessary.

“Anna keeps talking about you. She feels that you have probably forgotten her,” she stated.

“Oh! No! Mrs. Miller. It’s just that I have been busy,” I whispered back, “I would surely like to know how far she has progressed in her story.”

“Her interest has somewhat subsided. For one, there’s was no Korno around to give her the impetus or encouragement to go on,” she smiled as she said.

For a while there was silence, we just waited our turn to go up to the librarian.  I was certain she wanted to say something, just as much as I wanted too, but both of us waited without a word. In a few minutes, we were through with the task of getting our cards punched and the return dates noted, before we walked out of the library with our books.

Outside, I smiled before I got back some words in my mouth. The Starbucks store on the opposite pavement was a good reason, if not an inviting place, to pick up a thread.

“I am not too much a fan of any type of caffeine, not even coffee from Starbucks, but the place would be welcome to my weary legs. Do you mind joining?” I asked hesitatingly.

“Coming to think of it - sounds to be a wonderful idea. I’m accepting,” Mrs. Miller graciously accepted my invitation.

“Why are we waiting then? “ I said, almost in a hurry to cross the road before a dreaded change in her decision could dampen my growing interest for the evening.

“I don't know. Search me!” she replied in good humor. But we dashed across the road, library books in hand, like two young students out to have some fun.

Inside the busy café, we jostled to get our coffee and to find a place to sit together. This was in sharp contrast with the serenity of her house and its surrounding, or even the prevailing silence of the library.

“Not a good spot to pick when one invites a lady, even if it’s just for a cuppa,” I was partly apologetic.

“I am not grumbling,” she was most understanding, “If you can hear someone over the din and bustle, it means you are certainly attentive and most willing to hear and know.”

I wondered if this was her way of telling me that she had something to say. Sometimes, the probability becomes the obvious and I wanted to lead her into sharing what she was prepared to part with.

“I haven’t had my ears tested in a long time. But I would sure like to see if I can hear you above the din,” I asked between my sips of coffee.

“I think I have a better suggestion. It’s impossible for me to raise my voice further and, even if you tried, you’ll not be able to hear a word of what I say. We could go over to my place …,” she hesitated before she ended by saying,” …… or yours.” For once, I saw this gracious lady blush a bit.

“If you wish to say anything in privacy Mrs. Miller, it’s best that we go to our place. On the other hand, Anna is too much of an attraction and I would just as much love to have a cup of coffee at your place.” I responded.

Offline KornoTopic starter

Re: Sign Off to begin
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2016, 12:14:06 PM »
Mrs. Miller was thoughtful for a moment before she explained, “You see Korno, Anna has grown very fond of you and, much as I would like that she gets your company, there could be moments when a little bit of privacy is needed. If you are not too uncomfortable at the thought, we could go to your place.”

“I understand Mrs. Miller. But I would just like to add that my apartment is rather small. Fittingly, I have named it ‘The Hole’, making no pretension about its size or its occupant,” I said honestly.

“The smallest place, very often, turns out to be the warmest,” she said graciously,” I would be overjoyed to spend a few moments at the place.”

“But we couldn’t possibly go together,” I said in mirth, certain that she would fail to catch on.

Mrs. Miller was taken aback. “Why? Is there any problem in my being seen together with you when we go there?”

“No, not at all. It just struck me that both of us have our cars parked outside and, unless we decide to leave a car behind, we will have to drive separately to reach my place,” I explained, much to her relief. In the end, we drove off separately, her car following mine.

When we parked our cars and rushed into the elevator and to more people inside it, there was a little girl, not more than three years, holding her mother’s hand and looking up at our grim elderly faces that were straight and expressionless. I found a striking similarity between Anna and this little girl which made me keep looking at her.

“Why are you staring at me?” the girl asked in a serious voice when she found that my eyes were on her. 

“Because I like to stare,” I said as I continued to look at her, this time raising my eyelids to the extent possible and with really ‘big eyes’.

“You mustn’t. I am not supposed to look at strangers,” she hadn’t ended the argument.

Embarrassed, her mother quickly pulled on her daughter’s hand and she was hushed into silence. I looked away amused.

“You get on with kids nicely, don’t you,” Mrs. Miller asked as we walked out of the elevator.

“I find them adorable,” I said as we came and stood in front of the door to our apartment.  The nameplate on the door caught the attention of Mrs. Miller and she stared at it for a while.

“The Hole,” she murmured silently to herself.

“Yes, ‘The Hole’, just like I mentioned when we were having coffee sometime back. You now have the opportunity of checking for yourself and finding out if the name is appropriate,” I said as I turned the key and pushed inside, “Although this occupant, rarely, takes cheese like other inmates who occupy holes.”

As I switched on the lights and my modest apartment lay bare before Mrs. Miller, I wondered what her impressions would be now. Here was a place that accommodated a bachelor and that too one who was undoubtedly disorganized, mostly untidy and obviously forgetful. Scattered across the room and occupying the top of most of the furniture and their available space were books and magazines. Many were lying on the floor, stacked one on top of the other, mostly near the corners of the room. I made a feeble and almost ridiculous attempt to arrange some of them to give a semblance of orderliness before my eyes fell, at the other end of the room, on the chair accompanying the small dining table. My last worn trouser, ignored by its owner and wearer after its use, was dangling across the backrest of the chair with half of it on the floor. As I rushed to pick it up and hide it from the eyes of the beautiful lady I saw, to my horror, that the condition of dining table was pathetic to say the least. The used dishes and cutlery, with dried leftovers, were lying on the table just as I had left them in the morning when I had rushed out to keep an appointment. I wondered if Mrs. Miller would be prepared to remain long enough inside my apartment to discuss whatever she had decided earlier.

“Not exactly my best presentation, possibly my worst. If you believe me, I am not usually …uh … that bad. Would you care for a cup of coffee?” I asked. I thought I was being too optimistic in hoping she would agree.

“I didn’t set a condition for coming to your place so you needn’t feel embarrassed. And I haven’t really given you an opportunity to be prepared for a guest,” she said forgivingly.

“Thank you Mrs. Miller. You have made things easier for me,” I said. The more I saw and knew this lady the more reasons I had to admire her. She had, by now, sat down on the couch as I stood in the kitchen arranging the coffee mugs. Mrs. Miller had picked up a book from the numerous that lay around and was already flipping over its pages.