'What shall I write about?' Angelica Fernandez, a native of a beautiful town, Cusco, Peru was in her study room trying to collect some words for her new story. She was an architect by her profession but she had some sort of zeal for English literature. Therefore, sometimes she would jot down her thoughts and feelings in the form of words trying to create a unique piece of literature.
'Why am I not able to go in the flow today? I feel some sort of blankness in my mind.'She kept on struggling with the selection of right words and sentences to give a kick to her writing process. However, this time she felt her hands were reluctant to write anything else due to the scarcity of words in her mind. She was expert at imagining situations and characters and giving them a concrete shape in her writings but this time nothing was created in her imagination.
'May be I need to think of some ways out to create the flow.'Thinking this, she gave up writing for the moment and came out of her room. She lived with her mother as her father was dead when she was just six months and her mother had brought her up without letting her feel the absence of her father. A very delicious smell of some delicious food item was emerging from the kitchen where her mother Jacinta Fernandez was busy in cooking something.
'Mom, what's that you are cooking?Its smell has filled my nose causing my mouth to water like a fountain.'As she said this, she kept on taking long breath to inhale the smell deep inside.
'Guess. Any idea?' counter questioned Jacinta.
'I think it's ceviche.'
No, it's Aji de Gavina.'(Creamy chicken)
'Wow! Then I will finish it alone!'She hugged her mother saying this.
'I know you have gluttony appetite for such dishes. So I have cooked it a bit more than the other dishes. And by the way, I guess you were writing something but instead of catching your pen, you are here catching the smell. Why?'
'Well, I could not be creative enough to collect words and situations to concretize my writing. In short, my imaginative mind has come to a blank point causing me to keep my pen down.'
'Are you serious?' asked Jacinta in surprise.
Yap, mom. I'm thinking of a way out to collect characters for my story.'
'I have thought of many characters but this time I will find some real life characters by going on a hunt for the characters.'
'What do you mean?'
'It's simple. I will go out to find some people from real walks of life whom I could include in my stories.'
'That's going to be amazing if you could do that. Where will you go for that?'
'May be I will take a walk through some places of city and country side.'
'But what about your office today?'
'Relax mom. Today is Sunday and it's fun day.'
As they were talking the food was ready.
'See, the food is ready. Have it and then go for hunting your characters.'
'Don't worry ,mom. I am not moving even an inch without food. After all, who else can give me such delicious foods if I go out?'
'Flattery'girl.Who'else can win you in such flattery gossips?'
'And who else can win you in preparing such delicious dishes?'
They hugged each other and Jacinta served the food. As said before, most of the dishes were eaten by Angelica since she craved for it. Thereafter, she dressed herself up and got ready for hunting her characters. It was a long time since she had gone out for visiting somewhere in town. Particularly, this visit was going to be exciting because she would go to the countryside as well. Also it would give her the idea about real life people whom she could include as her characters in the story.
'Okay, mom. I'm leaving now.'
When will you be back?'
'Probably in the evening.'
She bade goodbye to her mom and set out on her mission. As she was on the way, she saw a crowd of people.
'It seems that something has happened there. Let me see if I can find some characters worthy to be included in my'story.Time'to strike the hot iron.'Thinking this she rushed towards the crowd. A man was lying there unconscious and people had gathered there to see him. Some of them were busy in taking photos and busy uploading in social networking sites describing about the situation going on while some were doing live telecast in order to let the whole situation be viable to everyone. From the appearance it was crystal clear that he was over forty and he seemed to have been the victim of starvation.
'Excuse me ,sir' she called a man who was already there.
'Yes, ' the man replied.
'Can you please explain me the situation?'she inquired although she had gained some information looking at the situation.
'To be frank, none here knows exactly what has happened but this man was here since early morning today. That's it.'
Then she heard someone say, 'See, I uploaded his picture. A lot of people have reacted sad in it and they have also prayed for his situation to be improved.'
At the same time another unknown voice was heard, 'Good news guys. I've informed the media and they will be here in a while to cover the news of this man.'
Angelica was there to find a character for her story but she found there a bunch of characters that she tagged as 'The indifferent mob.'People were busy expressing their sadness at the pitiful condition of that man. Angelica called for an EMS van (Emergency Medical Service) and shortly it arrived there and took the man causing the mob to be dispersed.
'Really the people have become very emotional as they help decrease the grief of a person by sharing it through the social platforms and getting sympathy.' This thought struck her mind and she too left that place. As soon as she had moved away from there, her phone rang.
'Who's this calling? This little digital bucket won't let me go anywhere alone.'As she fetched her phone from the inner bag pocket, she saw her phone flashing the name Veronica Castro,her best friend.
'Hey Vero! What's up?' She asked in excitement.
Hello, Angel .I'm as fit as fiddle.'
'How did you happen to call me?'
'Do I need any specific reason to call you?'
'I don't mean that. I meant it was quite unexpected.'
'I'm back in Cusco from Canada. I arrived here last week. So I thought of filling our long gap of untouched time by arranging a meeting.'
'That's fantastic but now I'm out of home. I mean I'm out for some travel.'
'Where are you right now?' asked Veronica.
'I'm exactly in front of Plaza de Arma.'
'Okay. Then just be there. I'll pick you up in fifteen minutes. I'm on the way.'
'No but .Just be there. I'm coming.' Saying this Veronica hung up the phone.
' Till then Angelica gave a cursory glance at the people and the surrounding. In that particular area of Plaza de Arma, there were many majestic houses that had added structural beauty to that area. She noticed that two things were common among those majestic houses-they all had very big boundary walls and a sign board that said 'Be Aware of Dogs.'
'Clustered to each other but still very far away from each other secured by borders (boundary walls) and guards (dogs),' she thought. 'Let me call them 'The alienated surrounding', another character for my story.' '
Nearly after waiting for ten minutes, Veronica arrived there driving her car.
'Hey,Angel!I missed you so much.'
Hey,Vero!I missed you ,too. It's been a long time since we last met.'
'Yup.I have thought of compensating this gap today. Let's go for some long drive today.'
' It was a surprising blessing for Angel because now she had someone to accompany her. The most important thing was that she didn't have to take a public vehicle and could go anywhere else according to her wish making any place as her destination.
'That's awesome. Let's set out.' They got inside the car but Angelica didn't' disclose the reason behind her travel.
'How was your trip to Canada, Vero?'
'It was enthralling. I had a lot of beautiful memories there. I befriended with many people and now I chat with them in the social media. They're really awesome.'
'And isn't there any gift for me?'
'To be honest, I haven't brought because the situation was like that and this tour is the compensation for that. I am much hungry as I haven't taken my food today. So let's go to a caf' because my stomach is making a lot of sound.'
'Just a few distances away is one good caf'. Let's go there.'
' The car headed forward and a jolly atmosphere was created due to the reunion after a long time between them. Soon the caf' arrived which was named Amistad Caf' which means Friendship Caf', a typical caf' for traditional Peruvian dishes. They took a table and ordered foods like Lomo Saltado,Alfajores,Ceviche etc.
'See here. I've purchased an 'i-Phone as well,'Veronica showed it to Angelica taking it out from her pocket. She also expressed her happiness at being engaged in talks with those foreign friends through video calls and adding new friends to her list everyday from overseas. This made Angel feel something awkward about Veronica as she was boasting in a quite unusual way regarding her good relations with those people abroad.A while later the dishes were served and Angelica took Saltado but before that Veronica interrupted her.
'Wait. Let me upload their pictures and show it to my friends.'She snapped the pictures and uploaded them. Also she sent them to her friends abroad.
'You know Angel I have a very fantastic social life.'
'It's good to have a good relationship with neighbors. That's the secret for a good life.'
'Who's talking about the neighborhood? I'm talking about my friends on social media.'
Angelica was somewhat bewildered hearing this and then Veronica went on.
'There's a social media group for meeting people from other countries in which I am also the member. We share about our feelings, happenings of daily life and almost everything else. Once a day we have a video conference to keep the bond of friendship strong and intimate.'
Haven't you got any friends in your surrounding?' asked Angelica on hearing the explanation by Veronica.
'I've got a few but I don't give them a damn.'
Because they are mean and disgusting people. Every time I've to see the same face and same people with irritating nature.'
'Have you ever tried spending time with them?'
Who cares? I'd rather talk to my overseas friends than being engaged with those filthy beings.'
' Angelica didn't say anything after hearing this explanation from Veronica. In the mean time someone from abroad called Veronica and she received'it.She'talked to that person with immense delight and showed him the foods lying on the table and gave him a virtual tour of the caf'. Angelica kept on watching all these like a dumb. Finally, after half an hour of being socialized in the social media, she put the digital monster on the table.
'Did you see? I've very strong connections overseas? Each of them is ready to talk to me and help me anytime I need.'The way she told it reflected as if twenty four hour visa service was guaranteed to her friends abroad who would come to assist her in the blink of the eyes.
'What a shit person Vero has become,' she contemplated. 'But wait.A good point.Another important character for my story. Like a prey falling victim to hunter, she has come to me as I was in quest for'characters.The'most sociable person with dozens good friends overseas on social media.'
'Angel, it has been a long time we haven't visited some countryside. Shall we do that today? What you say?'Angelica, who had originally thought that she would visit countryside in search for characters, was delighted to hear the similar desire expressed by Veronica and agreed to it at once. 'Let's move to Pisac then. It's roughly eighteen kilometers ahead.'
'But there is one small problem Vero,' told Angelica.
'I've told my mom that I would return back in the evening.'
'That's not a big issue. Pick up your cell and tell her that you will come tomorrow.'
Angelica called her mom and told her everything. At first she was reluctant to let her stay out but when she told that Veronica was with her, she agreed at once. They began their journey ahead in the car driven by Veronica while Angelica kept on enjoying the series of panoramic scenes. There was a signboard indicating that they were two kilometers away from'Pisac.The'scenes on the way were changing from the concrete clustered houses to green surroundings with small eco houses. Most of them were thatched roofs while some had fiber one. There were fences in most of the houses whose one side was open in order to ensure easy access to neighbors' homes. It was late noon by the time they had reached there when Angel's mom gave another ring.
'Hello, Angel. I've something to tell you.'The way Jacinta spoke in a hurried tone indicated as if she had some important things to say.
'Is everything all right?' Angel asked suspecting something fishy.
'Yes, everything is all right. I just wanted to tell you something about one of our neighbors. Do you know Mr.Edmundo Chavez, the man whose sons are in the USA?'
'You mean the father of the trio- Bryan, Carlos and Tomas?'
'Yes. Their father passed away an hour ago due to falling off from a ladder.'
'Holy shit!I guess his sons are the PR holders of the USA, aren't they ? I know about it because one of his sons, Tomas , is my friend.'
'Yes, absolutely .I'm shocked by this news. Mr. Chavez always used to become happy for his sons as they had settled successfully in the USA but none of them is here now to carry out the funeral procession except his neighbors and some of his relatives.'
'May his departed soul rest in peace. After all we all share the common destination,'death.When'will the funeral procession take place?'
' There was a melancholic atmosphere as reflected in their talks and after some minutes the call was disconnected. The jolly moment Angel was experiencing was somewhat over clouded by the bad news. Veronica, who was hearing and witnessing all these things, noticed the sadness in Angelica's face.
'Let's come to the present time Angel. I know how it feels like to hear the news about someone's death but that's the way of the world.' Angel said nothing but tried to adjust in the present condition.
'Yes, now that's the only way out,' she spoke in a broken voice.
They didn't notice that they had already entered inside the beautiful village, Pisac. They chose home stay to hotels for the night stay as they wanted to enjoy some home like'atmosphere.Home'stay would give them relatives although not their own and that momentary relations would create life long memories. The home where they stayed belonged to the Brunos-Mr. Ed Bruno and his wife Isabella Bruno. They had a lovely daughter of ten years, Evangeline Bruno with a chubby face and dark grey eyes. It was a quite simple house built with rural standard in an elegant way. The Brunos served them chicken roast and many other traditional dishes of that place which added another new level of unique taste to the cuisine. There were other people too in that home stay .One group looked so odd type as they looked like some hippies since they had tattoos all over their body along with piercings in several body parts. A cultural dance was performed for the entertainment of the visitors. There was the gathering of people from other neighboring village as well. Like a carnival festival that blends the people from all walks of life without any discrimination, the people were enjoying there each others' company. It was not a mob or crowd of people as Angelica had seen in the town. Rather it was the blending of people to form a cosmopolitan relation without any kind of selfish intension.
'Wow! They could be another character for my story.'This thought struck Angel's mind while she was dancing. 'What shall I call them? The beautiful souls. That would be most apt one.'
It was the most beautiful night for Angelica and Veronica. The program continued till mid-night and then slowly everyone began to retire to their room.
'Angel, shall we retire, too?'
'If only we could spend the whole night like this,' was the reply from Angelica.
' The tone of ecstasy could be felt in her voice because of the atmosphere of that place. They were given a room with natural AC where there was free flow of cool breeze and the beautiful view of the sky filled with stars and moon could be easily viewed. The enthralling sight and the tiredness of the night made them fall asleep quickly. The next morning as they woke up, there was a different kind of atmosphere. The freshness of the light misty morning was intensified by the chirping of the birds. The Brunos had already woken up and were engaged in their chores. She was feeling the charm of the village but still the news about Mr. Chavez's death was making her feel restless. She opened her social media and opened the profile of Tomas, one of Mr. Chavez's sons, who was her friend. She saw a post in his profile that read as follow-
'Rest in peace'dad.We're'sorry .None of us could attend your funeral. You will always remain in our hearts and memories.'
She logged out and kept her phone aside. 'How many parents are there in the world who have to face such kind of situations?'She made a ponderous thought.'What's the purpose of educating and settling children abroad when a father can't receive even a bouquet of flowers and the presence of children at the last hour?The unlucky parents.'It was a sad occasion but she listed it in her characters' list.
'Thereafter, she woke up and freshed herself up. Just then Veronica also woke up and completed her morning routine. They went to the kitchen where the other guests were already there and the Brunos had prepared the breakfast. Finishing the breakfast, they packed everything up and moved out thanking the Brunos for their warm hospitality. The previous day Angelica and Veronica were only two friends but today there was a group of people who had become friends from strangers. Angelica still wanted to enjoy the beauty of village and hence, proposed a plan.
'Hey guys. What if we go on foot up to the next station so that we can enjoy the beauty a bit more?'
'Yes, that would be fantastic.'An unknown voice answered. Actually, he was not unknown since Angelica had seen him the previous evening. He was the same strange looking man with tattoos and piercings They were total six in their group which consisted of four boys and two girls. All of them were ultra hippie in their appearance.
'Hey,I'm Diego, 'that strange looking man moved towards Angelica.
'Hi, I'm Angelica.'While she introduced herself, she kept on looking at him and his friends with strange body. In the mean time, Veronica also got introduced with that man. Angelica told Veronica to go ahead and wait at the next station since Veronica had to drive the car.
'Anything wrong with us?' asked Diego realizing that he was being stared at.
'Nope.I was just amazed by your body.'
'This is the way we live. We are lost in our own world going against the normal way of life .That's why we are outcast by friends, family and social circle.'When he spoke his pointed tongue and teeth were seen. They were made like that deliberately. She was quite surprised to hear this from Diego's mouth. She also knew that Diego and his friends, who were there, liked to live their lives in their own terms. Their unnatural looks were indigestible for their family because of which they had been abandoned. And now they were living their life in their own world on their own terms and conditions.
'Is there anything wrong if I want to pierce my body? Does the society have to bear the expenses I spent on my appearance? Do I have to sacrifice my choices to live on the terms and conditions of other people?' A series of such other questions were asked by Diego and a kind of frustration could be noticed in those questions. The group was silent but they kept on moving. This made everyone somewhat emotional.
'When will the society and its people respect the feelings of others without trying to impose their own rules and regulations?'This question hit her mind.'They could be my character. Let me call them the 'Outcast Rebels.'Yes!The perfect name.'
' The station arrived while they were busy in conversation. Veronica was already there waiting for Angelica in her car. Thereafter, everyone departed to their respective destinations thanking each other. They also promised to meet later on sharing their phone numbers as well as social media profile. Both Angelica and Veronica were highly delighted by the trip. It was especially best for Angelica as she was able to find characters for her story. While returning back, there was a funeral procession which had stopped on the way when they were about to reach Cusco. Veronica took the car aside and both of them came out. Angelica saw that some people were holding some flags which were certainly not the national flag. It seemed some unusual type of flag. On asking one of the participants, she knew that it was the flag of a political party. She came to know that the deceased was one of the best cadres and to pay respect to him, his funeral was conducted in such a way. She asked that participant the deceased's name but he said that he didn't know anything about it. Same question was asked to some other participants as well. From one of them she knew that the deceased was popular with the nickname 'Lethal Leopard.'
'He will be given a grand farewell salutation by our party on his funeral. We have covered him with our party's flag,' the man told her.'
Then the funeral procession passed and they also moved ahead.
'What a strange thing is life? Someone dies but even at death a person is not given the status of a simple human being. He is associated with the political parties. He dies working for the political party but the political party doesn't know anything about him except the nickname. Just a tag is given in the party's name.'Angelica was somewhat desperate seeing this condition as a human being had died an unknown death.'Thousands are the participants but none knows who you are. Not even the real name. An unknown death,' she noted it down.
Finally, they reached their home town and Veronica dropped Angelica on the same spot from where she had picked her up the day before
'Angel, it was a cherishing moment. I'll continue to cherish it forever.'
'Yep,Veron. And thank you for the fantastic trip. I'll be grateful to you forever for that. Veronica kept on smiling which clearly reflected that she was also grateful for that moment. Veronica snapped a selfie and then they too moved their own way. Reaching at the gate of the house, she gave a call to her mom as she was taking a nap. They hugged each other as if someone had met after a long separation.
'So how did the hunting go? Did you find any character?'
'The hunting was totally meaningful. However, still I feel that the story is lacking one more character to give it a proper ending.'
'I don't know but I need to think of a subtle character to conclude my writing.'
'Just relax for now and do it later on.'
Angelica went to her room and closed her eyes. Then things began to play in her mind about herself and her mother. She thought about how her mother had helped her feel complete in each and every situation since she had provided the love of both father and mother. She also thought about the struggles and hardships her mother had made to make every situation favorable for her. All of a sudden, something struck her mind.
'Mother! Yes mother! How can I forget her?'
She at once went to Jacinta's room and gave her another tight hug. Jacinta was surprised by that unusual tight hug. As Jacinta tried interrogating about it, Angelica started:
'Mom, you've come through many ups and downs to bring me up. You faced many obstacles but never let them hinder my life and progress. Like a mountain that keeps on standing high head regardless of the changes in weather, you have made me feel high though you felt low on many occasions. How could I forget that the most important character of my story was at home only? My super mom.'As she said this, tears dropped from their eyes and Jacinta could not speak a word. They hugged for a long time and after a few minutes of emotional moments, Angelica went to her room and started her story as follow-
'Once there was a woman who had a daughter. She was a super woman as she had given her daughter the love of both father and mother as father was already dead'..'