Lightning Across Blue Sky

Tulip Chowdhury:

Javy took a look around her bedroom as she opened her eyes early in the morning. Soft sun light was seeping into the room through the netted curtains. The early day was rather cool for winter was whispering in nature. Javy pulled up the blanket that was folded beside the pillow and covered herself. A gust of cool wind blew in through the open window. The hands of the clock showed that it was near time to get ready for her university. She remembered that she had a presentation in her class. Throwing the blanket aside she sat up, this was not a day to take things

After taking a look at the wall clock, Javy got out of her bed. What to wear to her university that day? She decided that jeans and the blue T-shirt would do. Blue usually held good luck for her. As she brushed her hair, she could see excitement on her face. She was looking forward to the presentation. Her straight black hair was way below her slim waist. Her eyes, dark and sharp were brighter than usual on her fair oval face.  The firm mouth showed determination below the sharp nose. She was humming as she started getting her books into her bag. Her eyes fell on a photo on her table. It showed Javy with her parents when she was just ten. It was a nice family photograph, something that was symbolical and made one feel loved.

But that morning, smiling faces of her parents in the photo just didn’t look really happy. Recently Javy had been noting a strained relationship between her parents, as if they were not on the same page anymore. Bitter words, awkward silences and unhappy looks in the past weeks sent whispers of troubles brewing somewhere. Maybe it’s just a little misunderstanding and things like that happen when you live under the same roof, she consoled herself.

Javy was just about to get her breakfast when a loud crash from her parent’s room made her hasten her steps and step out of her room. The door of her parent’s room was open. Javy could see the black glass lamp from her father’s table on the floor, shattered to pieces.  Her mother, was standing on one side of the bed, her eyes blazing with anger. Seeing Javy standing outside, she shut the door as if to keep her daughter out of the storm raging inside. Javy had a glimpse of her disheveled looks and the tears stained face. She could not see her father but she could hear his voice. Their shouting was too loud for the wooden door to keep them out of Javy’s ears.

“Why do you have to go to that woman? Have you forgotten that you have a daughter …”It was Javy’s mother’s voice. Then another loud crash of something thrown against the wall drowned the voice and Javy could not hear the last of the words.

“How many times I have I told you that I love that woman and cannot live without her…” Javy heard her father’s voice screaming back.

As Javy watched, the door of her parents’ room swung open again and her father stamped out. He had a large bag in his hand and was still putting things inside.  As he chained up the bag he strode the front gate.

“Where the hell are you going?”  Her mother’s voice, shrill and loud followed the angry, receding figure of her father. Still in her nightie, her mother  followed him, dragging her feet as if she could not walk the short distance to the front gate.

Javy’s father did not look back as he stormed out. She only heard the words thrown over the shoulder,

“To her….I am going to Siena…!”

“ Siena.”Javy Muttered repeated to herself.

Who was Siena, this woman making a father forget his own child, forget that he had a family? Was she young, beautiful and sexy? Did it matter anyway? Why, it seems as though it was only yesterday that her parents were referred to as a ‘happy couple’. A lightning stuck and that changed to ashes.

Javy went back to her room and closed the door. She slumped on the bed and felt the tears pour out. Did it matter what her father, mother or what that woman looked like anymore? They all held distorted images for her. Life, when it is pleasant holds up beautiful picture and when unhappiness comes, all pictures get smeared with ugly colours. The  family picture frame in which everyone seemed so happy was broken into pieces, it was a puzzle that could never be set again.

When Javy’s father had opened the door and gone out, Javy felt her whole life was going away with him. It was like watching a movie in which the bad father leaves for his mistress. No, it cannot be happening to her! Ugh! Those things happened in cinemas, not in real life, at least they could not happen to her. Can truth really be stranger than fiction?

Javy had seen only a fraction of the storm that was blowing in her parent’s life and yet walls were closing around her. Her father was having an affair, at this age? He was in mid- fifties and had a 22 year old daughter who was thinking of getting married herself. Till that day, her parents’ marriage seemed to be on such a solid rock, how come it was giving away?

Javy came out of her daze, she remembered that she was supposed to be at school. She looked at the breakfast table. No mother waited for her that morning. No lovingly prepared toast and hot tea.  The sunlight that had seemed so welcoming in her room a while ago failed to lighten her heart. The winter morn that had awakened her with new promises gave away to an uncertain future. Could life change so suddenly, no warning bells whatsoever? Javy felt an earthquake shaking her whole surrounding, as if the ground under her feet would give away and she would be swallowed up by a great darkness.

The grandfather clock in the living room struck and shook Javy out of her stupor;  she had dozed off after crying her heart out. Oh, the presentation! There was still time if she can take a shorter route to the university.

But she felt like a lost child. A short while ago she had been fully prepared to present her project. Yet after witnessing her parents’ fight,  she could not recall any of the words she had taken the whole month to write. She didn’t know where she stood. The loud announcing of the hours by the grandfather clock came again. It had always added happy meanings to each passing hour but now the sound rang hollow.

When the ground underneath gives away; a drowning man clings to nearest support. Javy’s thoughts ran havoc. She did not know what to think or not to think. She thought of her friend Ricky, how he is always depending on clouds of blue smoke, on drugs, to keep himself afloat over a troubled home and the acrimonious relationship of his parents. Javy has been telling him not to punish himself over problems of his parents.

Suddenly Javy saw a different picture. She saw herself getting swallowed up by a monster and being dragged down, down to a point of no return. How wrong she had been to think Ricky could keep himself aloof from his parents’ problems. Her parents’ voices, shouting and cursing each other echoed back and forth in her mind. She reached for her mobile phone in her backpack. The small thing was so inviting, holding out long arms of welcome.

Javy called Ricky’s number. She had always told him to leave friends who joined him with the ceremonious taking of LSD. Won’t he be surprised, she thought, when he finds that he has one more new friend to join him dream in the world of cocaine? Javy waited for Ricky to pick up the phone. She could already imagine herself in the heavenly, feel of cocaine. If not that, heroine or ecstasy would surely help her escape from demons in her home?

Tulip Chowdhury is an eminent Bangladeshi novelist, poet, columnist and former teacher. At present, she lives in USA.

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