Entertainingly Evil

Frozen Tears by Chaitali Gawade

Kanya stared mesmerised at the string of beads in her hand.
     Moonlight shimmered through them. They were translucent and felt cool in her hands. They looked like tears she thought. Hypnotised, she stared at them.
     Something touched her heart. She didn’t know what it was. Instinctively she knew it had to do something with the necklace she was holding in her hands. She brought her hand up and rubbed the beads against her cheek, and felt grief. Instinctively, she held it back. For a moment, she stared at them as if it was a living breathing thing in her hand. Tentatively, she rubbed it against her cheek again and was staggered by the emotions that coursed through her. She felt utter and absolute grief. Yet she knew, they were not her emotions.
     The pain she felt was that of someone else.
     It was by pure chance that she had found the necklace. Some invisible force had drawn her to the lake. As she dipped her feet in the freezing water, she felt something wrap around her ankle.
     It had been the necklace – it had felt cooler than the water itself. It was destined to be found by her.
     She had never come to this part of her island before. Narayani-ma had forbidden it, saying that it was not time yet. Kanya was used to Narayani-ma’s eccentric ways and knew she had held some powers. They had been passed down from generation to generation in her family. She was still discovering her secret dimensions herself. Narayani-ma had died a month before earlier and Kanya had no living relative left. She had been devastated, as she had felt Narayani-ma had still had a few years to live left in her. Since her death Kanya had been feeling a sense of urgency and when she found the necklace, she knew she was meant to find it.
     The lake had been abandoned by the islanders long ago. It was rumoured to be haunted. Some people swore of hearing anguished cries in the night, on a full moon, whenever they passed by the lake. Strange sightings led them to believe that the lake was where the ghost woman resided for the better part of the day.
     Kanya had seen the shimmering water of the lake as she approached it. She had felt a strange pull. Something other than her instinct had drawn her towards the lake.
     As she stood at the edge of the lake, she panicked. The beads in her hands felt hot and were losing their shimmer. Something had to be done. She didn’t know what, but she was certain, she had to do something. Just as she was about to drop the necklace on the sand, she felt a warm hand rubbing her cheek. Instead of fear she felt warmth. The touch felt caressing, even loving. It was a touch she had known before.
     In another lifetime, it seemed now.
     The pull felt stronger, urging her on. Almost in a trance she waded through the freezing water of the lake. Just as the ground beneath her feet began to escape, she saw a hazy shape of a woman at the centre of the lake. She swam towards it. It was a statue carved in ice. Her hair fell in waves behind her back. On her head was a tiara of flowers. She was holding a single wildflower in her hands. It was larger than the flowers in her tiara. The expression on her face was melancholy. Kanya, couldn’t yet fathom the emotion she saw in her eyes. She stepped on the circle of stone on which the statue was placed.
     Purely driven by instinct Kanya fastened the necklace around her throat. The beads of the necklace turned to tears, then dropped, as an offering to the freezing lake. The ice maiden came to life. Her hair was the colour of amber and it flowed freely. The wildflowers of her tiara bloomed. Her eyes, deep amber flecked with gold, sang a song – the song of joy.
     ‘The curse has been lifted, if only for a while,’ said the ice maiden in a lilting voice.
     “I’m Angha,” she said and held out the wildflower to Kanya. This flower had not come to life. It was made of glass. Moonlight seemed to glint off its petals in a shower of a thousand tiny sparks.
     Kanya took the flower rubbed her fingers on the flower caressingly and felt the flow of life within.
     “This is my legacy to you. It will guide you and protect you as it did me,” said Angha.
     Angha moved closer to Kanya and rubbed a finger gently on her cheek. It reminded her of the hand she had felt at the edge of the lake.
     “It’s time to say goodbye now, my angel daughter.” And with that she turned back into ice.
     Kanya’s mind whirled with questions. She held the flower against her cheek. Images flashed before her eyes. Images of her mother crying with a baby girl held in her arms fighting with her father. Her father cursing her for dishonouring him. She was never to know the joy of holding her daughter again. Kanya now knew that the emotion she had seen in her mother’s eyes had been grief. She turned to her mother and hugged her fiercely, but felt nothing. She was only a beautiful statue of ice now.
     Kanya tucked the wildflower firmly in her braid and went back in the direction from which she had come. Her heart was heavy with a strange emotion – an emotion for her mother, of whose existence she had not known.
     Until now.

Chaitali Gawade lives in Pune and is a freelance writer. Her writerly musings are fueled by tea and coffee. Her work has been published  by Twenty20 Journal,  Daily Love, Postcard Shots, and Vagabondage Press, among others. This story was previously published on d.ust.bin.

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