Monday, April 20, 2020


500 words, write a fictional piece in the form similar to that of a continuous painting. I learnt it is called triptych.
Prompt courtesy Veena Mani
Three little girls sitting on the floor, each one nested between her older sister’s legs. The youngest one is holding a home–made rag doll, rocking it to sleep and singing softly to herself. The middle sister is oiling the little one’s hair, and jerking her own head away from the comb which her older sister is wielding. The older sister takes her role as Little Mother very seriously. Their mother is addressed by them as Bibi. The oldest daughter goes through life being addressed as Chhoti Bibi by her siblings. There are also three brothers in the mix, but they are, at this point, busy somewhere in the outside world. Sisters are, for now, merely background music in the rhythms of their lives. Their father finds this everyday scene so endearing that he expends upon it one frame of the precious film of his Agfa box camera, recording it for posterity.
The youngest sister is getting married. She is standing with her right foot on the sil, (the stone used for grinding chutneys and spices), her favourite brother’s arms around her, pouring parched rice into her cupped hands. Her bridegroom, seated, looks on attentively. The older brothers and their wives form the backdrop. The middle sister is hugely pregnant, and stands leaning against her husband. Chhoti Bibi is caught in mid-shout, as she tries to control her three unruly children, while her husband is deeply engaged in conversation with one of the many uncles. Their parents, of course, are seated at floor level, attending to the priest’s many instructions. This is one of the rare photographs which actually has all members of the family in the same frame, with a few extras!
The oldest nephew’s wedding. A huge group photograph, with the groom’s grandparents centre-stage, standing behind the bridal couple on their ‘thrones’. Fortunately the wedding ceremonies are over, so the new bride can be photographed with the clan. Getting everyone together for this one photograph has probably been the most difficult part of the entire evening, barring the nervous rearing up of the groom’s mare when the band suddenly struck up with a loud clash of cymbals. (The intrepid groom kept his nerve, trusting the mare’s handler to deal with her jitters). The youngest batch of grandchildren have been having a gala time, guzzling down all the cold drinks they can lay their greedy hands on, and creating games with the decorative marigold gardens which they are pulling down with impunity. One greedy toddler has been sick, and his mother is trying desperately to clean him up. The older boys are engaged in aankhon aankhon mein conversations with the pretty girls on the bride’s side. Who cares for a stupid family photo? The patriarch is getting tired and cranky. He bangs his stick hard on the stage, and lets out a loud protest: I am leaving. Everyone obediently scurries into whatever position seems apt. The photographer heaves a huge sigh of relief, and clicks away.

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