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Arpita was lost in the sheer beauty of floating over the ground. She felt like a beautiful bird. She savoured the feeling. She felt free.
Our Muse of the Month series this year focus on stories that pass the Bechdel test, and are written on inspiration from a new prompt every month. This month, the prompt was “Fearless. Because I’ve Been Afraid”, and the story should pass the Bechdel Test, that is, it should have at least two well crafted, named women characters (we differ here slightly from the classic Bechdel test, in that we require these characters to be named),
The fifth winner of our June 2018 Muse of the Month contest is Aruna Menon.
Arpita adjusted her scarf as she made her way to her parked in the garage. It was that time of the year when the nip in the air felt like an old friend. She loved the beginning of the winters. A south Indian herself it was her job that had brought her to the North and she had grown to love the winters. Not the frosty ice cold peak winters but the sharp drop in temperatures as winters started made her love the weather. Smiling she pulled the scarf a little tighter. A light breeze had come up and that only increased the anticipation of a nippy morning.
As she pulled out of the driveway, her phone rang. “Hello” said a hesitant voice at the other end as she pressed the answer button on the steering wheel console. “Is that Arpita?’” “Yes” Arpita replied followed by a excited squeal “Is that you Amrita?” Oh My God!! Oh My God!! Its been so long!” She quickly pulled to side of the road as she went for a run down memory lane. Arpita and Amrita – the Dauntless Duo of the college as well as the hostel. Up for an adventure any and every time, they often got into scrapes with the hostel warden. But they were a well-loved pair – their impish smiles brought a smile to the sternest of faces and anyways their escapades were more of the innocent kind and they were idolised by the students and well loved by the faculty. They were popular, always did well in exams and so were a popular pair on the campus.
Arpita brought her mind back from where it had wandered. “Where are you?”, was her next question. In Chandigarh was the answer. “Really?” I can’t believe this! When are you coming home?” “Is this evening ok? “, was the excited answer. “Oh Yes! Yes! Perfect!!” laughed Arpita.
That set the tone for the rest of the evening as the old friends caught up with each other’s lives and recent pets and peeves. It was strange how some people who are such essential parts of your lives just drop out of it unannounced and then reappear, again unannounced, reflected Arpita.
“Let’s take a weekend trip to Manali”, said Amrita as always, the leader. Fine, her friend happily acquiesced.
So, the next weekend found the two friends heading up into the hills.
It was evening by the time they had settled down on the comfy cushions strewn around the cosy cottage they had rented over the weekend. “Out with it!” said Amrita as she watched Arpita over the steaming cup of coffee Room service had sent up, on order. “What?” asked Arpita. “Whatever is troubling that intelligent brain of yours”, said Amrita.
“Ah!”, sighed Arpita. Amrita had always been so quick to read her mind. Nothing had really changed! She took a deep breath. “I’m afraid”, she said softly. “What about?” asked Amrita. “Oh, this and that”. She was hesitant at first. Then she opened up. She was being offered a position that involved her being abroad for the better half of every month for the next 6 months. “I’m not sure I am up to the challenge. It is the logical step forward in my career as a travel talk show anchor and a huge step, at that. But here, I’m in my comfort zone. My country, my people, my team, my language. Out there, who knows? What if I fail? What if I do not get the right nuance of the country or city I’m covering?”, Arpita mused. Talking to herself as much as to Amrita.
“Hmmm”, said Amrita, thinking.
The next day dawned bright and clear. “Come on, lazybones!” said Amrita waking up Arpita. “We have a tryst today. “She would not divulge the details. They quickly showered, got ready and set out in the taxi arranged by the resort. As they got out, Arpita took a double take. “Paragliding? No way. You know that, Amrita.” She did not have a head for heights. “You are doing it today, Arpita! You must confront your fears. Its all in the mind. The coach will be there all through the procedure. You just have to follow the instructions and keep an open mind. Believe in yourself. Tell your mind you can do it. And you will do it.”
After that short speech, she went off to look for a suitable guide. She soon came back with one. Arpita was worried. What if it does not take off? What if the wind does not pick it up? What if I fall? What if I land incorrectly? What if I injure myself?” “Well see,” was all that Amrita would concede.
Arpita was securely strapped up. The guide told her to jog slowly at first, then faster as they reached the edge of the drop. And then suddenly they were in the sky, floating over the beautiful valley. Arpita was lost in the sheer beauty of floating over the ground. She felt like a beautiful bird. She savoured the feeling. She felt free. She felt confident. She landed perfectly as the guide had instructed her to. She felt exhilarated!! The grin on her face as Amrita came to meet her said it all. “Wow!!” she said. “What an experience!” Amrita smiled at her friend. “Yes, wow! You looked good there!”
Laughing happily, the two friends made their way to an eatery nearby. They spent the rest of the day sight-seeing and shopping. Happily exhausted, they reached their resort by dusk. They dined in the restaurant that overlooked the valley that night. The view was beautiful. Hundreds of lights dotted the valley, looking like fireflies from where they sat. The night sounds were soothing. They could hear a brook in the distance gurgling as it made its way down the slope.
“Amrita, I’ve made a decision. I’m taking the new assignment”, said Arpita. “Good!” said Amrita.
Arpita smiled. She felt fearless now. She had been afraid, earlier. The paragliding had cleared her mind. She knew she was strong. She knew she could do it. She had learnt to control her mind. The rest was easy.
The Dauntless Duo had done it. Again.
Sometimes, all one needs is a gentle push. From a friend. From oneself. From one’s mind.
And you learn to fly.
Aruna Menon wins a Rs 250 Amazon voucher, as well as a chance to be picked one among the top winners at the end of 2018. Congratulations!
Image source: Flickr
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A Gynecologist by profession n blogger by passion, I love words!
I love weaving life
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