Tuesday, November 10, 2009

891 : NPR 3 minute story - “The nurse left work at 5 o’clock”

Read about http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=105660765 NPR running such a story contest. Found it very intriguing.

On further investigation, it turns out you have to write  a story, starting with the sentence “The nurse left work at 5 o’clock”,  that can be read in 3 minutes. That was still not good enough a brief for me. So I copied a “runner up” story  onto Word, did a quick word count, came to 497 words.

I told myself a story around this had to be less than 500 words, and then got cracking. 2 hours today evening, and this is the output.

Do let me know what you think of it? Very interested to debate on it… must admit, this was tough to write.

( :- ( Hell no, the contest is over, so I can’t participate now, but I still enjoyed writing it.)

The nurse left work at 5 o’clock. Anne would usually be back home by then to take care of her ailing comatose mother, called “Ma” by one and all. By convention, the nurse, did not necessarily have to wait until Anne came back, though she usually always did.

At 3pm, today, a call from her employing agency, had cursorily informed, that today would be her last day at Anne’s house. Starting tomorrow, she needed to report to a new place to work with a “new client”.

For 5 long years, she had steadily nursed and nurtured Ma, in the process knowing and adopting her frailty. For her, to willingly have receded into the depths of another’s vulnerability and let that susceptibility perennially dance lamely around your thumb, was both,  a very humbling and an immensely fulfilling experience.

Ma  was forever confined to be on the fringes of “the end”, but never really there yet, living in a distant nether land between speech and silence, between touch and inert, between warm and cold….always near, yet always appearing afar.

Today, as she walked out of the door for one last time, it distinctly occurred to her that this was it, she would never again get to see Ma. This was a full-stop just as similar as Ma’s yet-to-happen end…..and yet, between that cessation and she having to move to a new job….in both cases the net result was exactly the same. A further thought crossed her mind, that it did not really matter who amongst them ended up “winding-up” today, the conclusion would still remain absolutely the very same.

At 5pm, today, she did not want to wait for Anne to return, she did not want to have one long last look at Ma, she did not want to kiss her goodbye…..as she moved out of the door, past the stairway, passing the lobby, merging into the street…she continued walking, not stopping, not pausing, never once turning back.

On the street, she walked with her eyes downcast, the steady stream of humanity comforting her, their gross anonymity and complete inability to peek into her personal grief, providing for an ideal air cushion. After a few minutes, she did reach a busy intersection, which had a circle and statue at the center of it. She walked across the street onto the intersection, which was bereft of any people, and then she stopped.

Turning around, raising her eyes, she did a panoramic scan. Far and wide, all she saw were people, apparently oblivious, and yet, steadily and continuously moving towards a imminent frosty death, just like Ma and her.

(My story is approx 425 words)

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Lost Soul said...

Hey Ami,
The flow of the story is awesome. Grasps the readers attention till the end. much better than the one at the NPR site. The end was really good and quite apt but quit depressing too. Not used to this kind of ends esp being a Hindi movie buff. Do understand the limitation of the contest.

Amitabh said...

Hey Lost Soul,
The language seems familiar (as in your comment), cant seem to place you though.
Do I know you?

Lost Soul said...

I know you but not vice versa;much through your blog...You may be seeing a lot of people around you on your floor... Pick up any one of those faces...A stupid Software engineer ;)
picked up from A Wednesday...Sorry could not help.. Seemd Apt

I do a lot of talking within myself, confused, trying to figure out things around me, lost in transtion from childhood to a college teen to a working adult trying hard to get more out of life.. Reading a lot of stuff to clear the air.. your blog being one of them.. tryin to emulate you in talking to myself... you write really gooood...

Assure you this link wont be the homepage of other ppl on our floor.. ;)..and would not like to reveal my identiti...want any conversation to be like peers.. Njoy...

Amitabh said...

I know your comment was not to get this published. Apologies in advance, since I have taken this liberty.

I dont intend to know you, if you dont want to. though initially the language did seem familiar ))

As for talking within myself, I talk to myself all the time. As for struggling with transitions, I struggle with it all the time. As for not being ok with some things in life, I am continuously part of the struggle.

Does that state of being mean either of us is weak? Of course not.

In my head, a life which totters and teeters is a life more lived, than an ultra conformist fool who does not see that life is but a facade within a facade, and hence fails to recognize the inherent joy and complexiety of life.

Life is complex not just at a somatic level, its also incredibly convulted at the psycho level.

Thanks for reading the blog...though I dont write for you or anyone else, I write for myself to maintain my own little cup of (in)sanity, prevent it from overflowing.

I must stop this rambling now, if my sister reads this, she shall murder me....(my love for her just stands out, ain't it :-))

Lost Soul said...

Hey Ami,
Thanks for your reply. M all fine with publishing the comment. I am quite bad at memory and hardly remember what I wrote.

You are a genius. The words below describe aptly what is going on within. I am all cool with my life but my efforts are going into finding the inherent joys that life gives, finding out real needs of life and working towards it.
my life's car has been driving for a very long time and I am still in search for my destination. someday I would wake up finding myself in the wrong place or just going round and round. Somehow I have lost my track already and now I am
all wanting to get back on highway getting as much as possible from life.

I read a lot of autobiographies abt great ppl doing great things. but I read your blog as it is at a much micro level about normal beings though some words are understood only by dictionary and not normal human beings. M quite bad at vocabs :(..