A Story without a Plot

This story begins with the earliest memories Raika had about herself ; the interspersed moments recollected from her past during the mid -1970s when Raika must have been a child of four or five years. One fine morning after having eagerly waited for the house staff, who had gone to buy two dolls from the market,for her and her sister- a ritual that was repeated every few months when new dolls were ordered for them by their father. She had ran down the staircase in great excitement and in the haste to get hold of her doll she had fallen down the stairs with a cut on her forehead, blood trickling down her face. Her father rushed to attend to her and the doctor was called to tackle the emergency. She sustained a few stitches on the centre of her forehead and the memory of this incidence was etched forever by the scar mark which had become a part of her, an identity mark, later often mentioned in her service and other application forms.

The mark was a reflection of Raika’s passionate spontaneity, her lively manner and carefree spirit that often put her in trouble but that was the price she had to pay for following her heart. She could not be bound by rules and rigidities and the worldly ways but later as she moved on in life she often found herself in a situation where she had to curb her romantic ideals and give way to the rational, practical, logical ways that made one successful in worldly terms. Each time she curbed her natural instincts she would shrivel like flowers that go dry without water.

Raika’s full attention was taken by her new doll and she was immersed in great joy, forgetful about the pain and the injury. This big blue fat doll was unique; difficult to get anywhere now. Its image remained with her till her last moment – the big round eyes, and the round face of her prized possession, though physically destroyed long ago but forever alive in memory.
This story is a sequence of snapshots, a story without a plot, a story in continuum, like a river flowing incessantly. Our lives are also a string of stories connecting our childhood days with our adulthood experiences flowing into the big ocean of life. There are stories within stories intermeshed with each other. We start forming stories once we move out of a particular phase of our lives. There are stories told about us when we were infants and our parents and relatives recounted incidents about us, of what we did, how we behaved. However as we grow older the past images flash now and then on our mind’s screen giving glimpses of the lost world. As we grow we become adept in making stories, mixing facts with prejudices and creating multiple realities with our narrow and myopic understanding of the world around.

Coming back to Rakia getting injured , if you start counting Raika’s experiences of getting hurt due to falling they are numerous!! Once she was playing with her cousins and they were all jumping from an iron trunk when Raika fell and got a cut between her eyes and temples. Another scar, smaller than the one on her forehead and not as prominent, found a place on the side of her forehead. Then again in school she was hit by a hockey stick and got stitches on her head for which they had to shave the area clean for stitches. Since childhood Raika had been vulnerable to injures as if there had been some strong affinity between her and the harmful objects causing her pain – physically when she was a child and emotionally as she grew older – bleeding out, bleeding in.

She loved to cozily live in her imaginary world, being wonderstruck on watching nature’s bounty that exhilarated her soul just like Anne in the novel Anne of Green Gables. During the long days of summer holidays, one of her favorite evening activity was to go with her friends in a deserted park just across her home that had some wild flowers which attracted many yellow coloured butterflies. She was mesmerized with their quick movement from one flower to the other. With practiced gentleness she learned to hold her breath and silentlya nd slowly she would catch the yellow butterflies, feel the movement of the fluttering wings between her fingers, and then quickly release them to fly away. Her soul was inherently inclined towards the elements of nature – rivers, sky, clouds and mountains …. she simply drifted towards the bounty of natural world. Being amidst the tall trees and wide open sky she would have a feeling as if her soul leaped from her body with blissful joy and she felt flying above the clouds with birds as her winged companions. In her childhood this desire to be near nature was fulfilled by her frequent visits to her grandfather’s farm, far away from the city life. The purplish hue over the green mountains far away and the expansive blue sky, with cumulus clouds floating detached and carefree, with brilliant white tufts lit by the sun, flying apace with the birds twittering and chirping, filled Raika with ecstatic joy. The most awaited and enchanting experience in the farm was the dip in the huge stone walled water pool and the water splashing all over.

She yet had enough time to bask in this mesmerizing world full of bright sunshine and the innocence of childhood, of carefree days. There was no divide yet between her romantic visualizations and the real world. Her imaginative thinking led her at an early age to pen down her happy fantasy world into rhyming poems, which she wrote on small square papers and collected in a box. Her childhood poetic outpourings preempted her writing talent which flowered only in her middle age as she had to yet undergo all the crude experiences which would become the theme of her poems. Life had to flow through the shaky and bumpy ride of adolescent confusions, youthful dreams, shattering images to let the reality sink in and fading fantasies slowly shadowing and being subsumed by the growing awareness of the real world.

Time and again, she found herself pondering over her existence, figuring out in her heart about who she was, where she came from, what was the purpose of her life. Still confused about the incomprehensible workings of human life she entered another phase of her adult life where she had to grapple with multiple personality types; some strangely so different from her that shattered all her perception about human nature and all the values she had grown with . Adjusting with the overlapping demands of other personality types, while still trying to grapple with her own identity, became for her a mystery maze to unravel. She wondered at the way some people would be bloated with ego and arrogance, to domineer and suppress others under the compulsion of their own inner demons of hatred and envy. To demean life was the most horrific crime in her mind. She had to undergo some strange human interactions that shook her up to the core, to awaken her from her pleasant world of her dreams and see the stark presence of reality. It was only after great churning in the crucible of life’s experiences that she could gradually settle with a practical formula for life in order to survive. Sadly and slowly the innocent hue of childhood spontaneity, got buried under the dark shades of rehearsed and restrained behavior which is considered the hallmark of being worldly wise.

Leaving behind the simple joys she moved into the deeper levels of the ocean of life .She wondered at the enigmatic existence of human beings,of the existence of transcendental powers, about God and the afterlife .The mystery of life on Earth seemed nothing before the world beyond life, the unknown realm where we go all alone. What were these experiences that drifted Alicefrom her wonderland to the real world? Could she ever again recreate that blissful world in her imagination? Was it possible to take the reins of her life in her own hands rather than passively flow with the waves of circumstantial woes? Are we under the influence of some planetary stars that sway us to and fro into good times and bad? Were these harsh lessons a means to polish and refine her and open her eyes to her own flaws? Raika wondered over these possibilities as her life’s boat moved through many upheavals in stormy waves, struggling to survive through the lessons she learned that were alien to her instincts. Gradually she entered the calm sea of flapping waves, gently taking her once again towards the misty mountains of her wonder world. The blissful innocence could not be fully destroyed as a latent feeling was still alive that despite all, her magical world still existed and once again her childhood enthusiasm and passion was restored in her middle age.

Each one of us may consider our life story to be the most important and the experiences we undergo to be of an extraordinary scale. Could this ordinary life of Raika possibly have an epic plot? Hold on now! I told you in the beginning it is a story without a plot and I can feel you have been waiting for some sequence of events leading to a climax…hold on to your curiosity…as that can be determined only with the end of all events in Raika’s life. Maybe one day the story does come to an end with a gripping plot. Do you know how? If her soul, somehow manages to come to Earth, to narrate about the unprecedented and phenomenal plot captured from the mysterious realms of her life beyond death, maybe then this story will have an interesting end. Till then there would be stories and stories narrated in a flow … a story searching for its plot.

Cheena Puri

Cheena Puri is an Associate Professor in English. She had previously worked as officer on special duty in Rajasthan State Higher Education Council. Her doctorate thesis was on the British writer Iris Murdoch. Indian Literature in English, and the Indian Diaspora writers are her other areas of interest. She has to her credit many literary, articles published in national and international journals and a volume of poems Some Reflections of Life.


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  • One effortlessly relates to this story of Raika…simplicity and elegance too💕living in a world of imagination and fantasies still adapting and going on in life.Every age leaves a mark but childhood memories are always special. I loved going through the story indeed without a plot

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