My most valuable possession is an old, slightly warped blond guitar―the first instrument I taught myself how to play. It's nothing fancy, just a Madeira folk guitar, all scuffed and scratched and fingerprinted. At the top is a bramble of copper-wound strings, each one hooked through the eye of a silver tuning key. The strings are stretched down a long, slim neck, its frets tarnished, the wood worn by years of fingers pressing chords and picking notes. The body of the Madeira is shaped like an enormous yellow pear, one that was slightly damaged in shipping. The blond wood has been chipped and gouged to grey, particularly where the pick guard fell off years ago. No, it's not a beautiful instrument, but it still lets me make music, and for that I will always treasure it.
Gregory is my beautiful grey Persian cat. He walks with pride and grace, performing a dance of disdain as he slowly lifts and lowers each paw with the delicacy of a ballet dancer. His pride, however, does not extend to his appearance, for he spends most of his time indoors watching television and growing fat. He enjoys TV commercials, especially those for Meow Mix and 9 Lives. His familiarity with cat food commercials has led him to reject generic brands of cat food in favour of only the most expensive brands. Gregory is as finicky about visitors as he is about what he eats, befriending some and repelling others. He may snuggle up against your ankle, begging to be petted, or he may imitate a skunk and stain your favourite trousers. Gregory does not do this to establish his territory, as many cat experts think, but to humiliate me because he is jealous of my friends. After my guests have fled, I look at the old fleabag snoozing and smiling to himself in front of the television set, and I have to forgive him for his obnoxious, but endearing, habits.
Judith watched as Kenneth, the man she had been in love with for what seemed like years, slowly and affectionately intertwined his long, slender fingers with the petite fingers of another girl's hand. Judith closed her eyes to block out the image, but the scent of coffee—rich, bold, and bitter—still lingered in the air, and the knowledge that it was his coffee was enough to make the inside of her mouth taste and feel like cotton. Kenneth and the other girl remained silent, but the silence spoke volumes about how intimate the moment between them was. A large, painful lump was beginning to form inside of Judith's throat, making it hard to breathe, and she felt as though she might suffocate if she did not flee from the room. Her legs were frozen, however, and would not budge, leaving her with the faintest hope that perhaps the rest of her would soon become just as numb.
A pot of stew
Trisha stirred the large stock pot of stew, watching as flashes of bright orange carrot and stark white potato danced around, occasionally peeking through the thick brown liquid as it bubbled and steamed. The stew had a strong, spicy scent, and when she ventured a taste, Trisha was immediately struck by a slap of red cayenne pepper and a bold tanginess that reminded her of the sauce served at her favourite steakhouse. The stew was hot on her tongue, and even the small amount she had taken was enough to warm her throat as it slid down. As she leaned forward, the steam made her face equally warm, and the soft sound of roiling bubbles tickled her ears. It wouldn't be long now until the dish was ready, and the thought made her stomach give a small grumble of anticipation.
Arrival on an island
As I placed one foot out from my wooden boat, and the next foot out, my feet decided to plant itself into the sand. My eyes felt like it didn’t know how to blink at that moment as I was awe-struck by what my eyes witnessed. In front of me was a place filled with the unending grains of golden sand, as if the whole island was made out of gold itself. Shimmering blue waters that sparkled in the presence of the sunlight encircled the island. Greenery spread out all around the island, with patches of different coloured flowers that grew among bushes occasionally. In a distant, was a majestic waterfall that looked like a sheet of blue velour swishing down, its edges hemmed with whipped-white lines. The water thundered down into the pool like a gigantic waterspout. Just as I arrived, it so happened the sky began to glow as the flaming orb rose from the horizon and ignited the sky, causing it to burst into a bright, passionate mix of scarlet and yellow. The clouds had no place in the morning sky as the majestic sun reigned supreme. The colours of the sky blended perfectly with the colours of the scenery. Its ineffable beauty was like a masterpiece painted by Picasso that came to life, lying right in front of my eyes. As I was finally able to take control of my body, I walked towards the island, with my feet brushing against the silky, smooth sand. The feeling of the sand in between my toes reminded me of my childhood where I spent a reasonable amount of time at the beach. The stream of dark, glossy waves falling over my shoulder swayed to one side as the gentle breeze blew. Palm trees swayed with synchronisation, as if it was choreographed dance. I rested my eyelids and instantly, my ears could pick up the unnoticeable sounds of nature. An orchestra of birds chirped harmoniously to a melody that soothed the ears of a person, the leaves rustled softly in the breeze as they fell and fluttered like snowflakes. The calming, repetitive sounds of the lapping waves came together in gently, a hypnotic melody, casting a spell of serene tranquillity over the mesmerizing scene. From a distant, I heard the sounds of words being said, though I could not make out what the words were. I started to regain my sight as my eyelids gradually lifted. Tiny figures from afar were nearing towards my direction. There were humans living in this place that seemed like a dreamed paradise, how fortunate for them to live in such a place, I whispered to myself. I jogged lightly towards them, eager to meet them. Finally, we were close enough to communicate with each other as we shook hands and introduced each other. The smiles and excitement on their faces were welcoming and inviting, as if they had known me for ages. As they spoke, they were filled with energy and liveliness, their personalities made one feel like a part of their family. Their characters fitted perfectly with the view of this paradise island, a place where the world seemed flawless, a world where there’s the insignificance of money and fame. After my personal encounter with this place, I finally believed there was a heaven on earth.
A turquoise blue stream wound its merry way through the forest. Babbling and burbling, it sprung over the limestone rocks in its way. Pebbles whisked about in the under wash like pieces of glitter. Chords of soft light speared from above, bathing its surface in gold. It was glinting, like a thousand diamonds blessed with an inner fire. A galaxy of dragonflies fizzed through the beams of light, their wings a-glitter in the sun. The hedgerows were pregnant with juicy berries.
The serrated mountains loomed in the distance. We made our way towards them as we had to make base camp by nightfall. They were flour-white and brooded over the land. Just as we approached, a chute of snow detached itself and went trundling down one of the mountains. It slid over the knotted edge and then went crashing into the chasm below. The silence that followed was spine chilling. It froze our marrow to think that we would be climbing in those conditions tomorrow.
The heaven-touching apex of the mountain was drenched in brilliant light. Spikes of thin light impaled the snow in a bristling, moving line. We assumed that the heat had displaced the snow from the hip of the time chiselled mountain. All across our line of sight, the tips of the mountain range stuck up like a row of thorns. Swaddled around them were necklaces of powdery snow. The air became arctic cold as we came closer to base camp. The unmistakable whiff of chargrilled lamb wafted to our noses. Dinner that night was cosmic.
It’s not often you get to see a sunrise-gold beach. That was our privilege as we gazed out at the slothful sea. Ebbing ever so gently, it looked at peace in its jade-green gown. It felt like we were walking on a carpet of candy floss, such was its softness. The golden sand swept around in a scythe of beach, hemmed in by towering dunes. Far out to sea, rivers of pulsing light saturated the sea with gold. Only the occasional tourist walked past us. There was an absence of sun-blasted bodies in this Babylon of beaches. The horizon seemed to be stitched with a silver line. The seagulls were squawking over our heads and squabbling for morsels from the hotel kitchen. As the sun scorched our bodies to a crisp, a funfair of barbecued aromas drifted towards us. The saline tang of the sea mingled with the cuisine, adding salt to its appeal. We decided to obey our rumbling stomachs and eat. Lobster on a bed of watercress was our fare that afternoon. It tasted tender and briny and the shell food sauce had a hint of bouquet to it.
The waterfall was Mediterranean-blue and magical. It was swishing over the rocks joyfully. It was thundering down into the pool like a gigantic water spout. When it toppled into the ecstasy-pool, it foamed it at the bottom. The rest of the pool was as clear as cellophane, enabling us to see down into the rocky bottom. Fronds of forest-green plants waved gently in the depths. The waterfall looked like a sheet of blue velour as it swished down. Its edges were hemmed with whipped-white lines.
We could see a gaggle of geese grazing by the bank and the scene was picture perfect. A group of Amazonian ferns, edged with saw’s teeth and statue still, added a tropical flavour. We stood under the waterfall to cool down, but it was catacomb cold. It gave us goose bumps immediately. We ended up quivering and shivering on the bank. The nectar sweet smell of the spring flowers perked up our spirits. We had a cup of chocolate and it was Godlike after our moment of madness.
The malachite-green fields seemed to be covered in a bright sheen under the dawn moon. We could hear yipping fox cubs breaking the quiet of the world. Clouds shaped like tufty pillows glided slowly across the sky. They carried an airy, warm, drizzling rain with them. It cleansed the land and banished the strangling coldness and stunned silence of winter. Plinking and pattering off the leaves, then fading into memory, the rain energized the flora. It left behind a world baptized and rebirthed by its liquid grace. Song thrushes trilled as the spectre-silver moon began to wane and the fog of flowers in the meadow slowly revealed itself. We could smell their aromas hovering in the air.
Versace-purple crocuses seemed to glow before our eyes. Jewel-green grasshoppers bounced atop the grass like leggy trampolines. In the stony verges, Rafael-red valerian sprouted from between coral-black cracks. Spears of dawn light suddenly drenched the farthest corners with their golden magic. A pair of misty-eyed cubs yelped as they saw us and darted to safety. A murmuration of starlings wheeled and banked overhead like wind-tossed gunpowder. The rustic scene was spirit-renewing and we let the menu of melon fresh scents wash over us. We ate our hamper of food under the leafy umbrella of a great oak and it tasted molasses sweet.
Your ears are constantly assaulted by the whining, shrieking and laughter of happy children. What can they possibly have to be so happy about? Stuffing their snotty faces with lurid pink, foul tasting confections of every variety; it makes me shudder. I feel like it’s a conspiracy: even the air smells sweet and the grass beneath my feet feels somewhat bouncy.
Black ominous clouds blanketed the dark grey sky, threatening everyone of a heavy downpour. A fork of sparkling bright lightning flashed, causing a crack to form in the sky. A great clap of thunder then came close upon each other and soon, a sudden shower was released.
I shrieked in fear and shoved my fist into my mouth. I froze, mouth trout-like, agape in anticipation and heart racing. I could feel my stomach knot up and hair standing on its end. The sight of seeing a **** sent shudders down my spine.
My eyes were glued to her and then looked away. Gritting my teeth and creasing my eyebrows into a row, I tried to suppress the emotion and the tears rising within me. Soon, the dam of tears within me exploded and it flushed down my pair of red and puffy eyes.
I had never been claustrophobic before, but in that almighty swell of humanity I felt the panic rise in my chest. When they moved I had to also and if my feet failed to keep up I risked being trampled underfoot. Even in the bitter January cold I felt the warmth of all those bodies pressing in. People were gaunt and serious, there was hardly a single utterance in the thousands strong throng, save a few frightened yelps. There was nothing for it but to move with the crowd. I could smell them too, the people I mean, an unholy agglomeration of perfumes, body odour and over-applied cologne.
By: Sharvani Sivakumar