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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: India (02/12/09)

TITLE: Prismatic Perceptions
By Marlene Bonney


The sun’s reflections danced, playing tag around the shiny beads hanging against the window. Surrounded by pieces of luggage in varying stages of packing, Ramu stared trance-like at the woven rug’s vibrant pigments at his feet.

“I can no more capture the colors of my country into my soul than can the sun’s rays capture these threads it glances across,” Ramu murmured, “as it is, I must hang memories in my heart and this painting on my dorm room wall.” He carefully removed and wrapped “Colors of India”, the graduation present from his parents.

Four, or perhaps even eight years overseas to America for a state-of-the-art education in the medical field, his parents could not afford trips for him to visit this, his India. Only one week remained to give final farewells to his native friends and family, only seven days to memorize the dazzling colors of his country.

His favorite celebration of the year, Festival of Holi, was underway. The young man especially enjoyed the freedom of revelry and comradeship expressed by smearing colored powders on everyone in sight and the water balloons filled with a kaleidoscope of dyes. The heavy sprinkling reminded him of a crop-duster soaring low over its target, dropping clouds of dust, much like a fairy waving a magic wand.

“I’m going to get you!” Ramu ran to a crowd of costumed paraders and threw his pot over their heads, where it showered them heavily with blue, while shades of rich red or golden turbans peeked through. FOCUS—SNAP—SAVE!

Last night’s crimson bonfire was the prelude to this magnificent animated, painted overture, and Ramu closed his eyes to recall the multi-colored dancers and singers circling the village square. Their creative costumes, accessorized with burnt orange, aqua, and golden bangles and beads had kept time with the vibrant and gay tints, creating a concert of dazzling and muted rainbows. RETRIEVE—FOCUS—VIEW!

Jostled back to the present, Ramu hurried over to the distant makeshift tables protected by a banyan tree, it’s oval glossy green leaves shading the delicacies prepared earlier by the townswomen. There was vada made up of daal, served on bright green banana leaves, seasoned liberally with garlic and spices. Sweet chutney and dry fruits were his favorite, the deep red tomatoes mingling with the orangey sun-dried mango pulp and vying with the blacks and browns of dates and raisins. FOCUS—SNAP—SAVE!

That evening, Ramu gazed nostalgically at the vibrant oranges, reds, and yellows of the sunset spread against the graying horizon in sweet relief not far from his costal home. The stark naked beauty stabbed his soul, much like a throbbing toothache, making him homesick already. FOCUS—SNAP—SAVE!

The remaining days overflowed with trips to Ramu’s preferred haunts:

Trekking the Himalayan mountain range and catching sight of the scarce snow leopard—black, yellow-outlined spots on the purest white backdrop imaginable. FOCUS—SNAP—SAVE! Passing by a peachy-pink mountain balsam tree set against the rugged yellow desert sand dunes of Rajasthan. FOCUS—SNAP—SAVE! Fingering the delicate blossoms of a red bell bush in its dry, rocky habitat. FOCUS—SNAP—SAVE! Stroking the velvety shiny green leaves of the deep purple snow lotus peeping behind a brilliant display of icy himalayan daphne, the yellow poppies waving in the breeze. FOCUS—SNAP—SAVE! Breathing in the delicate lavenders of sadonanda flowers at a forest’s edge, laced with blue anemones and soft white and pink rhododendrons. FOCUS—SNAP—SAVE! Saluting the national flag of suffron (sacrifice), white (truth), and green (prosperity) hanging proudly against the sky. FOCUS—SNAP—SAVE!

And, back home again, admiring the bamboo-framed certificate on his bedroom wall:

“Whereas Ramu Nambiar has exceeded India’s highest educational standards enabled by his amazing photographic memory, he has hereby been awarded the Mahindra Scholarship for the American medical school of his choice . . .” FOCUS—SNAP—SAVE!

A surprise party had been thrown in his honor, complimented with women in peacock shades of blue, green, and purple sarees that intermixed with the men’s yellows and golds, creating a panoramic view of bright, warm pigments. FOCUS—SNAP—SAVE!

As he waved good-by at the airport, Ramu pictured his parents beginning the exhaustive search for his future bride, whom he would meet upon his eventual homecoming. The arranged marriage between the two sets of parents would take place simultaneously with him joining his father at the nearby medical clinic where he would specialize in vision impairment. FOCUS—DREAM—SAVE!

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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 02/20/09
Very interesting approach!
Angela M. Baker-Bridge02/21/09
Vibrant descriptions. The Focus-Snap-Save started getting in the way. Maybe just one word, like SNAP or SAVE would have been sufficient. Very heartfelt.
Helen Murray02/23/09
Thank you, This story gave us the very heart of what India is trying to achieve these days. I thought "FOCUS, SNAP, SAVE" captured the soul of the story beautifully, as the young man was leaving all he knew and understood for a very long time. They brought into focus his long-term intention of returning to India to practice with his father and to marry within family tradition and agreement. This is a very interesting proposition for today's young people - because it often works!

Loved the name.
Seema Bagai 02/23/09
I liked the "pictures" you created with words in this piece.

I have one question, though. Holi is in March or April. School in the U.S. begins in August or September. Why would the MC be leaving India in the spring?

Good work here.