Unburn The Bridges

My Short Story for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers, hosted by Priceless Joy.
Photo provided by Dawn M. Miller.

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Unburn The Bridges

Trying to count the years gone by, as he looked at the leafy concrete road he visualized a school boy carrying a home-made tote bag, walking under the bridge towards his school on the other side.

The Britishers had built the bridge for villagers’ convenience but, by the time people got habituated to using it, the country was divided into two and the metallic bridge soon became a rusted ‘border’ laden with moss and debris.

He looked around. Forest had overgrown where fragrant marigold and jasmine flowers bloomed once. The guava trees he used to climb to the top were now full of wild creepers.

As he sat brooding, a pair of pigeons came from nowhere. He recollected how his mother used to give him food for his birdy friends he met along this school pathway.

The pigeon pair suddenly fluttered away, vanishing out of sight over to the other side of the bridge. He decided. He too will cross the bridge and visit his old pals. No border can stop him today.

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(The sub-continental borders were formed in 1947 when India got independence and was divided into two countries.)

Killing us with Nostalgia Over-dose

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These days, any occasional blogging that I do, somehow ends up becoming oriented towards music rather than proper writing.  Am I running short of inspiration and ideas for writing, or is it that music is my inner calling? In fact both are.

Today I see a music-related Daily Prompt Always Something There to Remind Me. It’s about getting us transported to some other time via music, and as this prompt asks:
A song comes on the radio and instantly, you’re transported to a different time and place. Which song(s) bring back memories for you and why? Be sure to mention the song, and describe the memory it evokes.”

Many of such nostalgic songs that transport me to bygone times, hail from my birth country as well as that from Australia or other parts of the world. Thus there are many Hindi and Punjabi songs I connect to my childhood or youth but here, I’ll stick to English numbers.

One song ‘Fernando’ reminds me of the time my dad brought home a video of ABBA songs that had a vibrant display of the two charming couples singing all their popular numbers. Of course ‘Dancing Queen’ was good for dancing but I somehow liked ‘Fernando’ a lot.  Wonder why, because at that age I must not have known the real meaning of this song. Whether this song is about love and pining, or about war and liberation, it is of course about nostalgia. Today I found some more relevant information on this song.

Another song is ‘Yesterday once more’ by Carpenters. It reminds me of late teens in India in the 80s when I used to take my small battery-operated radio/transistor to bed at night and, covering myself up from head-to-toe inside the quilt, would listen to the radio. One such late night program was ‘Forces Request’ that played English songs requested by families of defense personal. I was charmed by the way army couples dedicated their songs to their husband, wife, children or others. Other than all the songs by Carpenters, ‘Funky town’ was another song popular on this channel.

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Coming back to more recent times, there are a few songs that remind me of our very early migration days to Australia.

Sweet Dreams are made of this‘ by Eurythmics is one of them. The lyrics ‘I travel the world and seven seas, everybody is looking for something‘ is a voice of every migrant. When we just migrated, all the songs by La Bouche were also very popular on the radio as well as MTV hits. Anytime I listen to this song, which is not often, I’m reminded of the old times.

When she says ‘want to be my lover’, my boy who was very little at that time, used to go round and round singing in his melodious girly voice ‘wombie my lava’..’wombie my lava’. That was many years ago when he was learning to speak his first .words. Hope he doesn’t do that anymore 🙂

Thereafter, there have been many such time-connecting songs that represent or remind of a phase of my life. But I’ll leave my musical journeys here, or else I’ll have to rename my blog title as ‘Magnanimous Music’.  Not a bad name for a second blog though.

Sun, Space and Verdure

The writing prompt  Local Flavor asks…Write a piece about a typically “local” experience from where you come from

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But…where do I come from?  If a person spends more than 20 years at one place and then another twenty at another place, interspersed with months here and there, then the whole concept of belonging gets lost.

And yet, even migratory birds are born in a particular nest and if they could remember, they would also say, “That is my home nest”. So the fact remains that, having been born and brought up in Chandigarh, that is pretty much ‘where I come from’, I suppose.

Located near India’s capital Delhi, my home-town Chandigarh is a beautiful city in northern India. It is referred to as ‘The City Beautiful and its original motto was ‘Sun, Space and Verdure’.  Verdure means greenery.

In comparison, Sydney where I have now lived for the last two decades, is also very much about sun, space and verdure. And blue skies. But Sydney is also about expansive beaches.

Both these cities are beautiful. How did this happen to me? God’s been kind. They are actually beautiful cities, not because I like them.

So there you go. This itself is a speciality of Chandigarh City – the abundance of open space and greenery. Other than that, it is this city’s high literacy level that defines the city rather than the heavy industries, business, film industry or movie stars. A huge number of Chandigarhians are from the public services, administration or education.

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Such roundabouts are spread all over Chandigarh

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Women on two-wheelers, a common local sight. I used to be one such.                   pic credit : discoveredindia

Thus one feature worth mentioning in Chandigarh’s travel guide would be that there are well planned big and small gardens throughout the city.

Zakir Rose Garden is one of them. It is Asia’s largest Rose garden with more than 1500 different species of roses. An annual rose festival is held here with cultural shows. Growing up in Chandigarh, in a family of seven, we siblings and our parents, our weekends were often spent packing our meals and going for a picnic in one of the gardens and parks, Rose Garden predominantly one of them.

Rose Garden, Chandigarh

Rose Garden, Chandigarh – India,  Pic credit: scorpion

Another not to be missed local feature of Chandigarh is Rock Garden which is innovative and unique in its craftsmanship of objects that were totally assembled from waste material and useless things thrown away by people. The garden has lined or grouped figures and dummies that are made of scrap, broken glass, bangles, ceramic cutlery and other waste. There are miniature water-falls inside to add to the beauty.

As I see it, the concept of Rock Garden proves that, if we want to, we can create something beautiful even out of scrap, the leftovers. Or should I say crap. That our life might have once been full of broken pieces of scrappy incomplete experiences, but it is up to us to make it meaningful by uniting and compiling these fragmented bits and shaping them into a complete beautiful whole. Now that was excessive!

Situated near this Rock Garden, we have Sukhna Lake, a man-made vast lake amidst the abundance of fine nature. It has nice eateries, fun elements for kids and then there are water sports like yachting and water skiing and so forth. There are birds all around seen from far and near.

Sukhna Lake is a place where you are bound to feel great – whether you come early in the morning when it is quiet and natural or during the day with chirpy lively crowds around or else at night when it is well-lit and sparkling.  I must add, that this is a favourite outing spot for locals of all age-groups. My own childhood and early youth days were spent walking up to Sukhna Lake, jogging there and then walking back home.

Sukhna Lake

Sukhna Lake. Pic: self-clicked

Thus Chandigarh is similar to my current home Sydney in its gardens and greenery but it is different to Sydney, the ‘city of beaches’ for another reason.  Chandigarh is at the foothills of mountain ranges called Shivaliks. As one enters the city, one can see the far off mountains.

I remember, when I was a girl, standing outside our house I could see the far-off mountains that were sometimes hazy and over-shadowed by clouds but often bedecked by star-like twinkling lights. Being a dreamer, I used to be extremely charmed by the view and would specially go out at night to see if the far-off lights were bright or not as the view changed each day. Those days, the mountains seemed very far away so I used to wonder – ‘Who are the people who live there?’.

So travelers if you ever plan to visit Chandigarh, you can have these mountains on your travelling list. Go to these hills and do find out who are the people who live there.  I haven’t discovered this till now as nowadays I do not visit Chandigarh very often, what with my hectic schedule I don’t even get time to know (again) all the people within my close families, many of whom, esp. the elderly, have left this world without saying their last goodbye to me.

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. Most pictures self-clicked
Rock garden: whatagreenlife

© 2015 Alka Girdhar