FULL STORIES: The Flames Of Paradise – Episode 04 [Read]

Episode 4
Dimple!’ Snigdha looked at her bubbly friend Dimple’s wistful expression and felt like shaking her up. Dimple was an incorrigible romantic regardless of some really bad busted relationships in her past.Yet her innate romantic streak remained intact making her vulnerable.
‘Okay! My lips are sealed… for now!’ Dimple winked. ‘Going to make somemasala tea. Want some?’
After Dimple left, Snigdha still felt bursting with excitement as if she wanted to share this news with someone else. She did not want to tell her mom so soon as she knew she would panic at the thought of her going to Kashmir. Maybe she could call up her sister Sumedha? But resisting the urge to bore all and sundry with the details till she had signed the contract, she switched on the T.V and started surfing the channels, Sit Coms, Fashion T.V., daily soaps and finally settled down to a news channel watching some dramatic news about the caving in of a roof of a school in Mumbai, injuring hundreds of children, with no casualties. The shrieking voices of the parents, the panic-ridden reporting, the shots of the debris and the non committal bytes of the local politicians, all washing over her, making her restless. She hit the power off button on the remote, getting up. Hearing a rumbling in her stomach, Snigdha knew it was her dinner time, as she ate before 8pm. Strolling inside her small compact kitchen, she opened her fridge and rummaged inside to take out some salad, brown bread and cheese to make a hearty sandwich.Pulling a bottle of cold water,Snigdha suddenly remembered her Mom’s concerned voice complaining about her eating habits, last time she had visited her in Pachmari, where her Dad and Mom resided after her Dad’s retirement from army. Her Mom didn’t like one iota her habit of munching on sandwiches, slurping noodles and pasta or grabbing a hot dog from the nearest mall. But her no nonsense cool dude of a Dad, calmed her Mom’s fiery temper by reminding her that Snigdha is an adult and knows how to look after herself. Gulping the last bite of her sandwich and taking a few more swigs of cool water, Snigdha walked towards the balcony of the one bedroom flat. It had started drizzling which was not a common sight in Delhi at this time of the year, yet nothing could match the misty drizzle and cloudy weather of Pachmari nearly all year round. Snigdha reminisced the times she had visited Pachmari, just few hours from Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh. Sitting on the huge verandah of her Dad’s bunglow, was her favourite past time, sipping tea and watching the mistiness enveloping the rolling hills, the serpentine roads just in front of the house, slick with dampness and the air sharp and tangy with the smell of rains mixed with the heady fragrance of the abundant ferns around. Pachmari had always been Snigdha’s favourite haunt where she could unwind and relax.
Heaving a sigh, Snigdha remembered the care-free days when her family used to visit the place during holidays, Sumedha her elder sister and Sumit, her brother running around like mad urchins, having the time of their life. Snigdha’s soft lips curved in a reminiscent smile. When they were kids, Sumedha was the quiet, contemplative types, always sitting under a birch tree, with a pen and paper, writing ditties. Whereas Sumit, constantly pestered Dad to go inside the Satpura National Park, to spot bisons, deers or even a leopard. Snigdha, on the other hand, loved visiting the ruins of temples, hidden waterfalls, and caves telling many untold stories. She still remembered when she was just a lanky girl of 12, she had climbed all the 1300 steps leading through three hills towards the famous ‘Chauragarh’ temple where hundreds of metal ‘Trishul’ marked the visit of hordes of devotees during the holy festival of Shivratri, celebrating the marriage anniversary of Lord Shiv and Goddess Parvati who are known for love and passion. Being a tomboy, Snigdha had sprinted away to glory jumping and counting the steps with her Dad’s driver and his 16 year old daughter, all the way to the top from where the whole of picturesque Pachmari could be seen, the Army Cantonment, the Mahadeo and Jatashankar Cave temples and the Pandav Caves. Wiping the crumbs off her loose top and matching track pants, Snigdha took the plate to the kitchen sink and rinsed. A sudden staccato knock heralded the arrival of Nitin who she knew would be coming as soon as his office got over.

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