Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Life is what we make of it - Final part




"I walked away. Out of the door of our bedroom, out of our house. Past where little Stravos was playing with other children. I walked up to the top of the town and into a little bar. A place where only the old men sat and drank." As Isodora heard in rapt attention, Alanah continued, "I ordered raki, you know, the very rough spirit they have. I drank untill I could forget the way her round beautiful shoulder had snuggled against his chest. I drank untill I fell on the ground. They carried me home, I remember nothing of it. I woke up next day in our bed. There was no sign of Pegaso. I remembered her there in the bed and I got up to be very sick. There was no sign of little Stravos either. I went to work, but the smell of the petrol and the exhaust of the cars made me very sick again." Alanah suddenly felt tired, a wave of nausea swept over her and with that she again craved, after so many years, the wasteful taste of raki. Christina who was sketching, started humming a melodious tune and slowly Alanah composed herself again and after a short break of cold water, continued with her story.


"Magda had taken my child, my child! to her house. That night I had brandy, good Metaxa brandy to get me over the shock, and then I sort of crawled back to the petrol station, but couldn't talk to anyone, so I went home . Home! Huh! There was nobody there. Four days and nights of drinking, then I realised they had taken my child away from me. I heard like in a dream, that Magda's husband had gone away on a fishing boat to another island. And then the mind is a blank till I woke up in the hospital near the bus station."


"Come Isadora, sit near me, this is where your mother enters my story again. listen well and understand that missing year of her life, when she left her young family to be with a friend. I had given her name as 'next of kin' to the hospital authorities and they had telephoned her. She reached Lipsi the same evening." Saying this Alanah got up and hugged her friend of many years once again. Some bonds are eternal, forged without any reason, and yet they stand the test of time and blossom even in the coldest of winters. Such was the bond between Alanah and Christina.


"Pretend to be calm, pretend to be better, then they'll let you out." Christina had said to her, and that's what Alanah had done, pretended. It helped in the begining and she was let out of the hospital and sent back home. Pegaso did not speak to her, wouldnt tell her where Stravos was. Alanah could not raise her voice in fear of being locked up again in that wretched hospital, where every door closed in on her. Pegaso was living just across the road with Magda, Stravos was never to be seen, she could not go up to the bar and drink, as the whole town was watching her always. she bought a bottle here and a bottle there and drank till she passed out crying and being sick on Christina's lap. She never slept on the bed again, always on the sofa.


Every morning Christina would help her to take her bath, would wash her hair and tidy her up. She would speak of ordinary things like getting the grocery and in the same tone she would speak of going over to Magda's house and confronting Pegaso. Slowly she managed to get her message across to Alanah. And one day a tidy and relatively sober Alanah walked across the street to where Pegaso now lived. He asked her to go away, to leave him. She could stay in the house, but he had changed all the locks of the petrol pump. He said their son was living in Athens with his aunt and that she should never try and meet him as she would be a bad influence on the child. He was speaking as if to a person who had mental problems. Everybody except Christina treated her that way during those days, with quiet and patient concern mixed with a fear that she might suddenly jump on them. Pegaso said that he would sell the petrol pump and Magda and he would take little Stravos and start a new life somewhere. He would try and build a new and better life for Stravos away, he had said, from "this drunken madness".


Christina could not divert Alanah from the bottle, and she had to be put in rehab once again. "Once I knew I had lost everything, I didnt see any point in pretending." Alanah said. She had sold stuff out of the house and bought drink. She was in and out of rehab like a yo-yo. Taking advantage of her condition, Pegaso explained to everyone that she was an unfit mother. There was no court of law or social workers in the village those days. Alanah's not being sober was not helping either.


Little Stravos came back to Lipsi one day, and for a short while Alanah was allowed to see him for three hours every week. The visits were not a success though. Christina would tidy her up on these days and make her wear her best outfit. She always made Alanah carry a basket of baked goodies for Stravos. But still the visits were disastrous. She cried, you see, cried for the entire three hours over all that she had lost. She would clutch little Stravos and cry and tell him how much she loved him and needed him. She scared the boy out of his wits. Stravos started hating the meetings, he was fidgety and looked for an escape. He didnt recognise her anymore, how would he? He had never seen her like this before, and he was just a lttle boy.


These meetings continued. After the ordeal Stravos would look forward to going with Magda in the waiting car, an odd and unnecessary duty accomplished. Alanah would fill her bladder till Christina carried her back home. It was only after they left Lipsi, that Christina could start healing the bleeding wounds. There was not a fear now of them re-opening, you see. And so in the coming months as Christina worked in shops and cleaned floors to make money for them, Alanah got out of her stupour to realise the wastefulness of her actions. The tireless Christina who had just carried Isadora's picture with her to Lipsi was managing slowly to distract her friend. Old man Leros, who had a taverna on the outskirts of Lipsi gave Alanah work. And then one day a man, they all knew from the rehab, took his life. It sounds simple, but that was the day that Alanah gave up the bottle. It happened just like that. She had nothing to live for anymore, but she knew that unless she got her life in order, Christina would never return to her family.


Stravos would be almost thirty now. Every birthday Alanah wrote to him, to the last mailing address that she had, but till date there was never any reply. This had been the case with every every letter she had written in her life be it to her parents, her friends in Ireland or to her son in Greece, never a reply!! Suddenly she laughed and said, "Bless my stars !! I was not told to write to Christina from the hospital, else I would be still be locked up in the rehab!!" She didnt blame Stravos, how could she? He was a small boy, and she had been a nightmarish experience to him. How was he to know that she had mellowed down and could be courteous and polite to people? If he were ever to get in contact with her, it would be out of pity, and Alanah had never accepted that emotion from people.


"Dhen pirazi Isadora, Nothing really matters anymore." ended Alanah.

Isadora looked at these two weathered, and time worn women and smiled. She would find out where Stravos was, of course she would. The world was tinier now. But first she would go buy three tickets for a journey to Ireland. As the sun set that day there was healing for all as the painful gaps in their lives had been finally filled.

30 comments:

Arun Meethale Chirakkal said...

see I'm the first. I was just hanging around here till morning. Hope, a lot of hope...

Arun Meethale Chirakkal said...

I mean since morning.

Suraj said...

Oh i thought Alanah will have a great life and she will be the support system for everyone around,life can change !

Now i can relate the entire story to your title - For sure life is what we make of it we can keep critcizing pegaso & magda for being a lesser human but i guess they were made like that.

Jyothi said...

Morale of the story. Men will be men anywhere in the world. :)

There is a song that my daughter sings often. Its by her favorite singer Hanna Montana,"Life's what we make it, so lets make it rock!" I guess that is the philosophy of life.

Vaishnavi said...

I would almost feel sad for Alanah but there is hope. Isadora will find Stravos. This is a beautiful story, even though the ending wasn't quite happy happy I liked the unexpectedness of it :) Can we all hope for a sequel? :)

JD said...

Really liked the story Sujata. Why don't u send it to some magazine?? There should be more readership for such writing..

kavita said...

I have never seen you like this before Sujata....this is your best that i have come across.Speechless !!

sujata said...

@Arun There is always hope everywhere only we dont see it willingly at times. Thanks for waiting patiently.

@Suraj People are not always strong, thats the reality, and they know it only when they face it. Alanah continued in Lipsi, she didnt go back begging forgiveness to her parents, I think that speaks volumes about her, she came out of her drinking bout and slowly worked out a life for herself, opened a store, rented out her house and lived, thats normal, I think..she was no heroine you see, just a woman!

@Jyothi life is definitely what we make of it!! So finally you speak..thanks dear for patiently waiting till the end!!

@Vaishnavi normal lives end in death and thats always a sad ending na? So there isnt a happy ending to anything actually..'endings' the word itself is a sad word!! My eyes are really hurting after such long hours in front of the machine at work and again at home..so no sequel..will blog hop for a while now

@JD thanks, I write in a publication house, so had enough of that already. I am glad you liked the story.

@Kavita really? yayy!! am all happy now!!

Nikita Banerjee said...

Oh no this is not the final part! You have to write more! I loved it!

Butterfly Thoughts said...

I liked the story in overall.but I dont know i felt there should had been some thing more onP egaso and magda and that they have to pay for their actions, I dont knowmaybe I was just angry at that man for treating his beautiful wife this way. He cant be out so easily. but certainly a good one.

Shivi said...

I will read all parts and comment back. Infact I was waiting for the final one so that I can read all together :)

sujata said...

@Nikita hahhah what about Isadora finding Stravos and falling in love and that crap all over again..hmm?

@Butterfly thoughts I understand how you feel about Pegaso and Magda, but they are people who chose that path in life..Its not for us to judge right? Its their destiny..come what may.

@Shivi happy reading!

Arun Meethale Chirakkal said...

"Morale of the story. Men will be men anywhere in the world. :)"

To Jyothi:

So as women.

Aparna said...

I never thought Alana's life would be like this.
I am sad she took so long to get her life back. Would have loved it more if only she had shown more spunk. Why do you think her parents never responded to her? The idea of never forgiving/accepting your children is totally beyond me.
Still thinking about the story.

indranil said...

the end looks like, that a sequel could follow, but jokes apart, the story brings forward the ancient Greek concept of "catharsis" which Aristotle used to brilliance. Alanah in spite of all the sinned against looks more like a tragedy queen but the saving grace was single line you used.. "She would speak of ordinary things like getting the grocery and in the same tone she would speak of going over to Magda's house and confronting Pegaso"..... yes same tone...

thats what life is all about.. you accept things thrown at you, if you don't have the power to change it. As John Lennon would sing " Life is what happens to you when you are busy making another plan."

but at the end i still would root for Pegaso and Magda. as i stated before they are real human beings with shades of grey. with their sublimes and banalities. gloires and bathos. Alanah is perfect.. but too perfect...too divine as potrayed here...we live with and amongst humans. who wants to co-exist with a God..

any way my views have always been skewed and radically different. but magda is just true...i relate it to real-life experiences.

Yes as some one above in one of the posts had commented.. Men will be men.... and Magdas will be Magdas..

Jyothi said...

Hey Arun, yes. women too...and thats a compliment for us by the way. :)

Arun Meethale Chirakkal said...

Spoilsport! Plan was to initiate a battle of sexes and withdraw quietly only to surface sometimes later to ask ‘oh, you guys didn’t sort it out yet’? You foiled the whole plot. Happy? 

Jyothi said...

Sorry Sujata...I am commenting again and again....he he..

I have lived long enough to that battle of sexes is never won by anyone.

But being a women, I always end up empathizing with the woman. Even if she is someone like Magda. But Alanah too was not the first woman in Pegaso's life, right??

sujata said...

@Arun lets just say that its human to err and its also human to let live!! And I dont discriminate between sexes..if there are Pegasos there are Magdas too..Its just circumstances, and how we deal with them!

@Aparna I have known quite a few parents in our previous generations who have completely disowned a child, usually a son, who has married out of caste...I think with time we are becoming liberal atleast to the follies of our kids, more accepting maybe because we know, we dont have an option! I think, like you, even I cannot comprehend being so rigid.

@Indranil no sequel at all. This is where it ends.

Alanah, Magda, Pegaso, Christina are all people dealing the best with what life has offered them. They are all human.

@jyothi and @Arun I am enjoying the fight btw!!

sujata said...

@Jyothi yes that is the whole point, There are people(I am not saying man, because there are women too, like this)who keep falling in love, I wouldnt call them fickle, but maybe its that spark inspiration here, an ego satisfaction there, a voluptous charm somewhere else, but it happens over and over and over..at times the partner is unaware, at times forgiving, at times also having affairs so not bothered..Pegaso was probably that kind. Who knows, If he stayed with Magda or lest her later for another pretty girl?

Arun Meethale Chirakkal said...

Even I do that, empathize with Magda. She might’ve endured more than she could, and then stepped in Pegaso like a saviour out of the blue. “But Alanah too was not the first woman in Pegaso's life, right??” No, she was not, neither Alenso is a representative of men.

R. Ramesh said...

omg u have jumped to the concluson i am "funny man." bahhhh...ya life is what we make of it...along with the fun, i just pray i am an "illumined" man, as schopenhaur put it using upanishads..hey buddy, have fun ya..hi to fmly:)

BK Chowla, said...

It is so beautifully written that I have no words to express myself.

deeps said...

the background music is apt and sums it up :-)

sujata said...

@Ramesh hahah gotcha!! I take my words back if you didnt like it, but it was a heartfelt compliment

@BKC Thanks Sir, I am so glad you liked it.

@Deeps which song was playing? I have quite a few on my playlist at the moment.. was it awarapan banjarapan??

R. Ramesh said...

Hiiii Su...this is just to say Hi..your compliment accepted with thanks...hehehe...

Sucharita Sarkar said...

I came in late but am spellbound at the pathos and lyricism. And yes, the grit.

Bikram said...

hmmmm wowow is the word ..

Always hope for everyone.. and thats what life is..u fall-u get up-- u walk -- u run...and so on..

beautiful story

Shivi said...

Whoa!!!!! Amazing Di! What a great writer you are! I have nothing to comment upon everything seems perfect to 360 degrees! Keep writing! ;D

sujata said...

@Sucharita Thanks for stopping by, and also for the lovely words.

@Bikram Welcome to my page, you are a first time visitor and am glad you liked the story.. take heart, most of my posts are not so long!! Will surely hop on to your page soon.

@Shivi thanks dear, am so glad you read and liked the story.