Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #92

For Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #92:

It was the party to end all parties. To celebrate Diwali, the whole village had come together in one vast festival spirit. Nisha had danced and danced until she felt she would drop. The celebration was tinged in sadness, however, because fourteen-year-old Nisha would also be leaving for Mumbai the next day. It was time for Nisha to begin contributing to the family, Nisha’s mother had arranged for her to keep house for a distant cousin in the city, and Nisha had said tearful goodbyes to parents and siblings for who knows how long?

At 3AM the next morning, Nisha woke, dressed, and without waking a soul, picked up a small case of vital belongings. Her destination? The town of Chatghar, a three-mile walk from her village, where she would catch the 6AM train into Mumbai, and her new job.

Nisha opened the door to leave, when her mother’s figure appeared through the darkness. They embraced tearfully, silently. As a parting gift, Mum untied some left-over balloons and handed them to Nisha as a memento of the night before.

Lockdown Blues

inspired by Fandango’s One Word Challenge (FOWC) of 16 November 2020, aberration.

An old woman from the Azores,
Was forced to start living indoors,
She kept well out of sight,
Neither fresh air nor light,
Could not even get out to the stores.

Many people would probably say that 2020 is an aberration, that we have put our normal lives on hold, just while the pandemic passes. But I’m not so sure. Has anybody else noticed how many “once in a lifetime” events have happened in the last few years? Forest fires, floods, storms, etc. We even had a plague of locusts in Africa at the start of the year. Not to mention the pandemic itself, which is merely the latest in a long line of SARS-type illnesses. Unrelated? Well, if I were religious I might be reading “Revelation” right about now.

Open Book Blog Hop (wb 16 November 2020)

In her Open Book Blog Hop, Stevie asks:

Has the pandemic affected your writing? If so, how? Have your writing habits changed in reaction to the ‘different’ world we are faced with?

Okay, it’s a tricky one this week, just because I’m not a writer. Not literature, anyway. So I’ll interpret the question as a more general regular activity rather than writing, specifically .

Actually, my regular activity is writing, but software rather than literature. And I ramped that down, just because there seemed to be more important things to be doing.

Over the last few years I’ve been doing some voluntary work. It is only calling people to chit-chat, but that human contact is important, especially when many of the clients are isolated anyway. At the start of lockdown, I said “if there is anything more I can do…” and my list doubled overnight!

Ostensibly, it was tangible things, “do you have enough food?”, but over time the intangible came to the fore, people’s mental health. Some people went crazy, while for others lockdown was no different to any other day. Please take a moment to let that sink in – some people are forced to live every day as though they are locked down. But while that is terrible, when lockdown did happen, these people already had their logistics sorted. Many people are still locked down (from February, they have never not been locked down) and I am still in contact with them.

So, there was one “regular activity” which got ramped up.

Another was blogging. Before, I posted 3-4 times per week, but I thought it was important to put out some kind of regular “heartbeat” message. Because when we post, whatever the subject, we’re also saying “I am OK”. It’s weird, because there’s nothing we can actually do if somebody isn’t OK, but we care anyway. I do, I’m sure you do, too.

So I started posting daily. I got involved with a few more prompts, which helped find something to write about. A lot of these were just links to a song or a photo, but I was posting daily. And, I tried my hand at fiction and poetry, because… why not? Between you and me, I’m really pleased with how the poetry has gone – absolute nonsense but I enjoy writing it, I find it easy, and people seem to like reading it.

So while I’m not so sure I’d measure volume, I’ve certainly found my scope has broadened.