Tuesday, 22 August 2017

The Young Woman

*    Hi Friends, this is my latest short story.

 The young Woman

It was an endurable October evening that had acquired some amiability due to the forenoon rains, which had smothered humidity to a large extent and added a bit of chill to the lazy wind. The officers with their wives were rejoicing in the Army Mess. The get-together was organized in the honour of the visiting general officer. The crowd was smartly turned-out. The women in multi-coloured sarees, back-showing blouses and jewellery dazzled. Each one of them was dressed to outshine the other. The fairer sex added grace and beauty to the gathering. Among the officers only a handful had taken care to dress well, otherwise most of them had worn clothes as required by the occasion, without bothering to match the colour of shirt and pant. They were out there to enjoy some good whisky, good conversation and good food with their friends and comrades.
A wide range of perfumes wafted across the lawn. In the corners pungent smell of the anti-mosquito coil struggled to spread. An hour later the smell of liquor, mostly rum and whisky, overpowered every other smell in the air, barring the smell of the tobacco. The jazz band was playing tunes. In between a singer sang new Hindi numbers in which anybody hardly seemed interested. The cacophony drowned the dull music.
Part of the crowd, I chattered with my friends. The sprawling, manicured lawn was filled with people, who stood or sat in the chairs in several groups of varying numbers. Some were pure groups of men and women, and some were mixed groups. The VIP moved around, chatting for a few minutes in every group. I watched people and their expressions as they talked among themselves. A young woman, wearing light blue chiffon saree and dark blue sleeveless blouse, moved around anxiously. Sometimes she talked with the ladies and sometimes with the officers, though she didn’t look interested any conversation. Her roving gaze showed that her mind was on something else. As she passed by me, we exchanged a quick glance and when she turned her head away from me I caught a piece of smile on her left cheek. Intrigued, I followed her nervous mannerism for a while and then lost interest.
High on drinks many officers told and retold tales, shared experiences, jokes and anecdotes with one another. The senior officers in every group talked non-stop while the juniors, with glass in hand, dutifully nodded. While some of them seemed to enjoy those talks, the others prayed for an early end to their torture. Then the master of ceremony (MC), a young major announced the name of a lady and requested her for a song. Suddenly the noise subsided and all eyes turned towards the stage where the band had stopped playing and waited for the singer. In the crowd a woman, in early forties, stood up, adjusted her saree and walked to the stage, escorted by a young officer. Dressed in a silk saree and backless blouse, she on her supple shoulders carried the beauty of a young mother and an air of authority. Before she could reach the stage and hold the microphone, the most men had resumed drinking and chatting.
Sadly, the poor song choice made her effort lackluster. With a better song her voice could have been passable. But when she finished the audience broke into rapturous applause that went on until she was escorted back to her seat where she received personal compliments that gave her a heady feeling that she had sung very well. A little later she and other ladies settled down to listen to the next singer.
Around me I heard a male voice say that she was the commandant’s wife. Further, I needed no enquiry about such enthusiastic clapping. ‘My wife can sing a thousand times better than her’, the words escaped my lips. My friends expressed disappointment as they wouldn’t get to hear my wife. We all were alone on a temporary duty to that military station. My hope of listening to some good songs soon died down when a few colonels caught hold of the mike and started singing public school song in their raucous voices. With large pegs down their throats suddenly they had discovered that they too could sing. It was a free for all among them, with the band playing bizarre tunes. Mischievous cheers and claps by some officers encouraged the singers whose chorus grew louder. It seemed we all were to suffer their torture for some more time. Soon voices of discontent reached the general officer who sent the deputy commandant to call them back.
          Suddenly I saw the young woman speak with the MC in a pleading tone. Her gestures said so. Now my gaze settled on her in renewed curiosity. With a satisfied look she walked back to the crowd and stood alone, with her gaze fixed at the band party in the centre. A male singer came forward and belted out a song with insipid melody, and deservedly got a tired response. As he walked back, I saw the young woman rush to the stage. My gaze followed her restless gait. And before her name was announced she had the microphone in her hand. I didn’t get her name. I didn’t wish to. A name would have confined her innocent and anxious beauty to a few words. I wished her youthful charm to retain its radiance wrapped in anonymity.
          She turned back and whispered to the band master the name of the song she was going to sing. As the musicians began and she hummed, I knew it was going to be the best soulful song of the evening. Then in her magical voice she sang, ‘Tinka, tinka……’, a famous Hindi number sung in husky voice by the famous singer, Alisha Chinoy. There was a pin-drop silence. All eyes and ears were turned to the stage. The moving breeze carried her soulful voice all around and far beyond the mess boundaries. In the interlude she closed her eyes and drew inspiration from the innermost depths of her heart. The vibrations in her voice had the right mix of melody, huskiness and loneliness, and she used all three with aplomb. In particular the depth of loneliness in her voice made the song far better than that of the original singer. She got a good applause.
When she walked back I caught a glimpse of her face. Our eyes met. She smiled. Her smile, broader this time, seemed to say, ‘I can sing better……..’ Had she heard me what I’d confided in my friend’s a few minutes ago. I gave her a puzzled glance. She looked at me for the last time and then walked away, with a flush of satisfaction on her face and a tinge of sadness in her eyes. As a young Army wife she knew this harsh fact that the greater accolades were reserved for the senior ladies. 
Thereafter she was lost in the gathering. I curbed my urge of finding her name and complimenting her for a wonderful song. Then I dropped the idea, had dinner and returned to my room. But the song stayed in my mind and so did the singer. I never thought I’d write a story about the young woman and her poignant song. But I did. Perhaps she herself had written this tale on that lovely October evening five years ago. I simply put words to it.
                                                                             -    SP Singh 

Saturday, 5 August 2017

A Soldier's Loneliness

*     I composed this poem after watching, "Dunkirk". It's my humble tribute to the soldiers on the battlefield. 

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Dunkirk....................... A Masterpiece.

* "Dunkirk" ....... Awesome, Amazing, Incredible !!!!!!!!! One of the finest (War) movies of all times. It's a captivating tale of the Allied soldiers (British, French, Belgian and Dutch) trapped by the German soldiers in the French seaside town of Dunkirk in May 1940. 

* A must watch for all film makers and writers. It captures the pain, anguish and loneliness of thousands of hearts without saying many words. Christopher Nolan as a writer and director has surely won millions of hearts, in particular of soldiers.

* A small sea town in France until 21 Jul 2017 remained consigned to the dustbin of history of the World War II. In May 1940 Germany had advanced into France and trapped about 3,30,000 allied troops on the beaches of Dunkirk. Until then the Unites States had not joined the war.

*  If you are a writer, soldier and film maker, watch this movie alone in the theatre to feel the immensity of sufferings a soldier goes through on the battlefield. Under constant fear of death a soldier fights the enemy, weather, and most importantly, the loneliness (that only a soldier can understand).  As a soldier I've fought all the above in some measure. Who knows the movie night inspire me to write a book.

Monday, 3 July 2017

*    Quotes from the Book................. 

*   To enjoy such beautiful passages read "Parrot Under the Pine Tree". 

Friday, 16 June 2017

Quotes from Parrot Under the Pine Tree

* Dear All,

   From inside pages of my book, "Parrot Under the Pine Tree".........

*      To enjoy more such passages please buy the book, available on amazon throughout the world. 


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