This story is by Marien Oommen and was part of our 2020 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
“The birdies have disappeared. Where did they go?”
Mia, who spoke softly to them each time she walked under the pomegranate tree, was
crying…“Don’t tell me somebody flicked them! It’s the second lot that’s vanished.”
“It ain’t no cat. Dolce won’t let a cat within a mile.”
“Did the gardeners?” Mia sang a requiem for the birds that had gone for good.
There were no parent-birds hovering close, no incriminating evidence anywhere.
Her deep sadness persisted the whole day. To cheer her up, with much fanfare, George
made Kartoffelkloesse for lunch, a flashback of his Berlin college dorm.
There was a daily battle for kitchen rights which was now a much desired isolation
“Today, I’m cooking,” George announced.
“Nah, it’s my turn.”
Sadly the Kartoffel balls didn’t taste great but it’s the time of life when praise is a
linchpin for healthy coexistence. Everything’s gotta be taken in jest; ‘Tis the new normal.
“O honey pumpkin, it tastes fabulous,” Mia opined in her sweetest tones, as she rolled the
colorless, odorless potato balls in her mouth, jaw to jaw.
Cheekiness was a lifesaver. White lies, subtly told, helped ease tensions.
When a man’s about the house 24/7 and his woman as well, one needs to think up lots of
ingenuity backed with Churchillian humour.
The afternoon wore on and the only solution to the momentary loss of being grandma-bird
was ……..to BAKE. The oven was waiting with open grills.
Into the leftover potato, Mia chucked in some flour, followed by a cup of green moringa
powder. Then she added some butter, sprinkled some raisins.
(Yuck, the very thought should make your stomach churn. But please don’t go away)
“This ain’t gonna taste any good, but it’s HEALTHY. And we gotta eat what’s healthy.”
The Mama method.
Mia’s left brain started talking to her right, as she gently cut and folded the gooey mess together.
Two bananas should go in now.
I’ll squish them, then I’ll bake them.
Two dollops o’ fig jam,
Organic, with some turmeric.
Within the normal human world, I know,
Such goings-on would not be so.
Ina Garten would tut, perchance she saw.
“It’s the worst baked cookie dough in the world. Taste buds going where NO baker would
dare to go!” Mia declared boldly, looking at the tray with the mass of ugly green grey.
“Mama, dark green mixed with overripe banana gives this shitty brown color. I hate the
smell.. Yuck. Wasted calories.”
“Tsk tsk. Not good, girl. No such expletives, kay?”
“This is what the evil white witch eats with her minions in Narnia.”
The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe was on Netflix. They’d got up to snatch some bites
on their belly-determined intervals.
“Moringa builds up immunity, and fights infection. American food stores are going wild
with these smoothies..So eat what you’re given.” Mia glared.
Even Dolce snorted. Unwilling to pick up the crumbs under her table, certainly not one laced with Moringa, he turned his furry face away.
Finally, the ugly green cake was cast out, trashed in the bin outside.
They commenced on their solitary walk, with lips pursed, a studied avoidance, and
absolutely no ‘love-thy-neighbour’ handshakes. They didn’t dare to smile in case some
friendly idler stopped to chat.
The beach lay invitingly before them.
Jumping over sand dunes and desert cacti, they were careful not to step on turtle holes, being turtle season. Stragglers from the city were breaking the law and sneaking into their ‘out of bounds’ beach.
“But why stop people from going to the beach? It’s insane. The waters contain microbes for the healing of all. Entry shouldn’t be stopped.” Mia grumbled. “It’s everybody’s right just as much as the land we live on.”
“But then you’ll have bodies crowding and dirtying the place.” George’s voice of reason boomed on.
Equally culpable, the lawbreaking couple sneaked into the open beach to walk on the waters lapping on their toes. The weeds and shells made pretty patterns on the sand, the orange sky above, was divine to behold.
Bikini-clad women were metres away giving ample space for social and unsocial distancing. A man was doing his 20th push up on the sand.
Far away, Mia spotted something black flying in the breeze. Coulda been Merlin in the dark, or coulda been a trash bag….
They quietly walked away from the waters, over more desert cacti, straight into the sprawling 100 acre golf club- also ‘out of bounds’.
During these special times, rules are meant to be broken for sanity’s sake.
It was magical to be out on the deserted golf course. There were no stray balls nor irate golfers -now restricted with Social Distancing aka Friendship Killer.
The unpolluted sky looked stunning with stars shining down on the white path that lay between the winding green hills. They tripped over the green, like lovers, into the bunkers..
Mia, still in a Narnian frame of mind, imagined an Aslan lookalike, from behind a shrub. But it vanished.
When she reached the low narrow bridge overhanging the waters, the sliver of moon shining bright over her, Mia uttered her gratitude, raising her hands to God above. She loved doing this when certain nobody was watching her.
If anyone did spot her, she’d turn it into a vigorous mountain pose, yoga style, so nobody would think she was a crazy coot.
But her connection to the Almighty, during these unusual times, was out of the ordinary.
It was really dark in some corners, and the moon hadn’t yet come out. Nobody else was on the course. Only the quackle of the ducks was heard from the water under the long romantic bridge.
“O! I wish we were younger. So perfect to hug and kiss right here. Listening to the jumping fish, the ducks… lapping of the waves. These covid times are the height of peacefulness. I tellya.”
“Ya, mind the bird shit, You don’t want it sticking to your shoes.”
Talk about wasting a romantic moment… Mia got annoyed at his response.
The Narnian feel was all pervasive. Except instead of the lush green woods, this area was covered with desert plants and glistening white sand.
The sun had set by now and darkness was over the 100 acre land. Lights turned on in the beautiful homes overlooking the course, the grand hotels in the distance looked stark empty.
That’s when they both spotted a huge figure move quietly in the dark. Surely a man in the strangest outfit ever.
“What’s he wearing? It’s flying in the breeze. Look! He’s crouching, hiding from us.”
“Could be the maintenance guy. Why is he prowling? Probably manning the water pumps.
Work’s over for them and it’s late. Why is he still here?
Oh! Hello there…,” hailed George, the Brave.
The creature slunk into the darkness. Afraid, shivering, he was eating something off his hands..
“O heavens, looks like he’s eating that moringa stuff I dumped. Poor chap. I feel sorry for him. Must be starving.”
The creature wrapped the black trash bag around him against the raw cold breeze blowing from the sea.
“Can I help you?” George asked.
“Nahhh! Nobodeh can. I ain’t HUMANNN. Dey created me, then let me loose in the wilderness. I am made to spread fear. Fear to control youz earthlings! That’s my sole mission. Youz ‘fraid when youz see me.” The creature whined as though in pain.
“If you ain’t human, WHY are you eatin’? Are you hungry?” A Mama kinda query.
“AHHH! I wez fodderin’ around, got dis delicious piece of green kook. So totally satisfying.. mmmmmm…”
“I should tell the officials about you. You shouldn’t be hanging around here,” said George, now hugely authoritative.
“I got nowhere to go. I don’t look like youz.. Don’t belong here.
GO AWAY… leave me alone. Soon I’ll disappear. You allz be much stronger ‘n cleaner then.”
Mia recalled her birds with horror. Was it this creature that got them?
This rotten microbe had no business on this earth, darkness shall not overcome.
A sudden surge of bravery overtaking her, flashing her two-edged sword, she commanded,
“Out in God’s Mighty Name, go back to your hell hole from whence you sprung!”
Her words spilt out furiously, into the air, under her breath.
The entire city was praying for the death of this troublemaker. They had a dedicated day for prayer.
“No evil shall come anywhere near those who dwell in the shadow of the Almighty! Out damn spot!”
In a roaring whoosh, the creature slithered into its trash bag and flew away into the
darkness, followed by a huge ugly swarm of flies. Faraway there was a loud thud, sounding
as if the ground had cracked.
It was all over. Silence prevailed.
The earth, being finally freed of the menace, the media attributed it to Moringa.
However, there were some who said that PRAYER was the real Invisible Virus Slayer.