Alka Jha

her chair had a scar


Her chair had a scar

She is gone. I was sitting on the wooden chair, watching sun withering behind the clouds.

A mute audience of her farewell!

I come here every day. I prefer sitting on the same place we used to sit, with her chair in front of mine. Her chair had a scar. Every time she looked at it, she used to see different forms taking shape out of the scar. She used to give it names.

Somehow I could never see anything more than an ugly patch on the wood.

She used to love sitting in the corner. The dark patchy wooden chair had become her second soul mate. Together, we witnessed uncountable sunsets through the dusky glass pane. She loved watching the sun leaving it’s imprints on the vast canvas

The fading sun used to brighten her face. The color of her curls seemed to be drenched in the rays of the sun. She used to laugh occasionally. It was infectious, I should say. She used to pause for a moment and then she used to laugh again.

Memories are more adamant than I thought. They don’t leave you alone when you want them to.

She took few sips from her coffee. Her face was more blank than usual. There wasn’t pain. There wasn’t anger. The calmness on her face was confusing. She always had the expression, as if she was protecting an unfolding mystery.

I could never read the silence lying beneath those eyes. The peace on her face, hiding the storm inside, baffled me even more.

Without a single word, without any prior notice, she left.

Disappeared would be more appropriate. She had disappeared. And she made sure that her disappearance does justice to the meaning of the word.

For hours, I would stare at the corner seat in some vain hope that someday she might come back here for coffee.

I sit here, letting my mind wander off to seek answers for her unasked questions. I come here to feel those thin fingers holding the coffee mug again. I come here to feel the infectious giggle of hers. I come here to see an illusion of the happiest smile I could ever see.

Watching the empty wooden chair makes the evening colder than usual. I sit here till the fragrance of coffee chokes my air pipe. I sit here, allowing the aroma to fill the hollowness inside.

Sometimes I smell her fragrance while walking on road. My heart freezes for a second. I turn around in a hope that I might see her face in the middle of random faces walking towards me.

I couldn’t love her. I was scared to set my heart free to love her in return. I always calculated how not to get myself hurt. She made me love myself when everyone refused to. She was a dreamer and I have become a prisoner in the cage of past.

The coffee is the same. They perfectly managed to bring the same fragrance every time. They are still using the chair with a scar, in the left corner of their coffee shop. But the girl sitting on the chair doesn’t come here anymore.

She disappeared.

I couldn’t tell her. I am carrying a scar too, every day, on the every beating organ on my body.

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Our first hello

If our first hello

And if our first hello
would have born
when this winter has disappeared,
I might have looked pale
all this while
crossing that street light,
with the end of dusk.
I would have passed,
millions of moments,
waiting for a tinge of warmth.

What if our first hello
would have entered
slowly sailing in our lives
after the rains,
I would have lost
millions of drops
Crawling through my neck
while walking alone.

Our first hello
would not have travelled
towards our world
by the end of summer
who would have brought
pool of wind
refreshing the soul.

If our first hello
would not have reached,
till the spring says goodbye
would the flowers had sent
enough fragrance to fill
the corners of my heart,
with happiness of life.

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Smile on Streets

Smile on Street

Last week I met Raman, sitting alone on a heap of sand, lost in his thoughts. I interrupted as I came near and asked his name.  “Raman” he said with a sheepish smile. With perplexed looks he asked what big thing I was carrying in my hand. I told him that it is a toy, which captures anything I want to.

I asked him to come close if he wants to see how it works. He jumped in excitement, almost snatching it from my hand. After examining the outer body he returned it asking to show how it works. I asked him to smile and captured his face.

Mentioning his infinite dreams, he added “I want to buy a red car”. Baffled by his demand of a red car, I asked “Why red?”. He replied with a big smile “because I have a red shirt”.

He ran away saying that next time when u see a red car, capture it for me.


Travelling on wheels

Travelling on Wheels

The sudden jerk awakened me from my sleep. Bus had stopped, stirring the passengers in its own cruel way. Fragrance of butter soaked Aloo Parantha* rushed towards my drowsy nostrils and blocked my air pipe without giving any prior information.

With continuously increasing noise of hawkers, running feet, murmuring and constant babble; I started losing my comfort.

Parantha’s smell kept increasing with the darkness of the dusk. Tired sun might have waited till I opened my eyes and then disappeared, leaving ink dipped imprints behind on the huge canvas.

The dim light coming from the shops informed that the bus had stopped on a midway dhaba.**

On my third attempt of opening my eyes, I noticed the knock on my window. A dark outline had blocked the light. I found a pair of wide eyes peeping directly from my window; deep limpid eyes, thick eyebrows, short hooked nose as if designed hurriedly, face covered with dense lines as if all he got on his each birthday was nothing but lines, those uncountable lines on his face as a birthday present.

A man in his mid-70s was standing out, holding few packed water bottles.

Madam Water!

Buy a bottle of water!

He shifted to the next window without waiting for my answer. His eyes moved from one face to another in a hope that someone will buy a bottle for sure. He shifted to my window again and said

Madam Water!

This is the last stop. There isn’t any stop after this.

Do you want to buy a bottle of water?

The request in his eyes seemed irresistible. Without thinking for a moment, my hands reached for my wallet and I passed a 20 rupee note through the window. As he returned the change, he said -” My younger daughter is of the same age of yours, you must be a college student.”

In reply, I could only manage to smile.

His wide eyes brightened and it seemed more limpid in the yellow light coming straight away from the shops.

Bus had already given the horn.  I took two sip of water from the bottle while the bus headed towards slowly. Murmurs and whispers dispersed with the flow of the wind.  I opened the window a bit. It was now difficult to recognize the smell of parantha dissolved in the air.

To capture the momentary smile of those watery eyes, before they get vanished with the wind, I closed my eyes slowly.

* a flat bread stuffed with boiled potatoes that originated in the Indian Subcontinent

** Dhaba – a roadside food stall


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