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Mon Aug 15, 2011 11:16 am

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Part 1: Monday

1. Everyone has a talent, why dont I?

If you know anything about the world outside of little suburban towns, cozy houses, and huge shiny malls you know that there are places where people dont live in quite as much comfort. Not that I consider the suburbs to always be comfortable. Personally, Ive always considered it to be way too complicated to constitute as comfortable. I always imagined my family living in a different part of town in a small 2-bedroom apartment and one shabby bathroom, imagine all seven of us¦ my pretentious older sisters and my perfect big brother, not to mention mother and father “ and I dont know any two people who value comfort anymore than my parents do. As a result you could say my house is well¦ comfortable. Plush cushions, lazy boys, and those beds where you feel like youre sleeping on wonder bread are everywhere. And yet even though I knew I wasnt living in a hut or in some humid tundra somewhere without any water I was having a hard time considering myself privileged.

I go to Lonecraft High School and let me tell you, if it wasnt for Mark-Antony, my older brother, Id be stuck at Lonecraft Preparatory School like every other unfortunate soul that lives in this neighborhood. You see, my three older sisters went there their entire lives without complain. Because of that school, apparently, all three of my older sisters are now at ivy-league institutions doing ivy-league things, making my ivy-league parents proud, and when they graduate they will be making ivy-league money. However, Mark-Antony, the epitome of perfection, persuaded my closed-minded parents that public school students become successes too. This is true in his case I guess, hes being recruited by every school with a basketball team, but me, once I graduate in approximately one and half years where on earth will I go? I had a 3.0 GPA, an average SAT score, [but Im taking classes this summer], and above all else, no special talent.

Let me tell you, all of the Andersons have a specialty. My mother found hers apparently when she was seven years old and decided she wanted to a high-power corporate lawyer who owned her own firm and guess what - thats exactly what she did. My father didnt find his talent at seven but he found it soon enough and now hes in Congress. My oldest sister Gemma found her talent when she was born. Not even kidding, she was born beautiful. And when youre as beautiful as my sister what else are you going to be but a model. So no joke, shes a professional model across the country in NYC that attends Columbia part-time, my parents alma-mater. My second oldest sister, Anna, is a prolific writer! She is so good she got a job with the New York Times and she hasnt even graduated from journalism school at Columbia yet¦ and then theres Dana. She is way too smart for me. If I stand next to her I feel stupid, am sure that I look stupid, and I begin to act stupid. I dont think my parents notice though “ Im not sure they notice anything besides Dana when she is in the room “ she seems to know everything. Even though she is a year younger than the prolific writer she graduated in the same year.

And I have to tell you about Mark-Antony. I love him, I really do, but sometimes I wish mom and dad would love me half as much as they love him. I mean they love me but when Mark-Antony asks to borrow the car there is no hesitation, when I ask I get, wait until I can take you, like I cant drive myself. He comes home with straight-Bs, [a sin in my house], and my parents dont even care because they know that because of basketball, his niche, he can pretty much get into any college he wants. But its not just basketball that makes Mark-Antony the perfect son. He is the perfect older brother and younger brother. He is the sort of guy who wouldnt mind taking his mother to a school function or even prom night, thats what gets my mother. And he doesnt max credit cards, like Im notorious to do, and doesnt get rip-roaring drunk. He also hasnt gotten any girl pregnant and my father has never found pot hidden in his bedroom. This makes my father happy enough. Since he lives in a house essentially made-up of all women he prides himself on understanding all women. He has to fight the girls off of him, quite literally. They swarm like hungry lions, bees, or any other creature that swarms when hungry. They will do about anything to get even near my brother. I remember one perfectly normal quiet Saturday night when around three screaming girls found their way on my porch. And Mark-Antony was in seventh grade at the time “ hes always been a ladies man. And what gets me even more about Mark, as I like to call him for short, is that hes only ever had one serious girl friend “ Vanessa Leáne, a pretty and smart girl who lives a few houses down. Ever since he met her at a neighborhood event hes been infatuated with her even though she goes to the Prep school and he goes to Public.

Now who was I? Unfortunately I could sum that up in one sentence unlike the descriptions of my sisters and Mark. I was simply Peyton-Vera Anderson. There was nothing more to it. I didnt have a niche, I was just a sixteen year old high school girl who liked Louis Vuitton purses and cute fuzzy puppies, what can I say? Everyone had something theyre good at but I was good at nothing in particular; that fact alone was the one thing that was always constantly on my mind. But really, I think the only reason it saddened me was because when a family friend called Gemma the model, Anna the writer, Dana the mind, and Mark-Antony the basketball star, theyd look at me they would usually call me, the baby of the family like that somehow counted as a description. Like that is somehow a reason why I shouldnt have a talent, a specialty. I always figured Id prove them all wrong, every last one of them.

2. Your momma

One semester down; one unfortunate semester yet to go.
The closer it came to the end of the year the more happy and devastated I became. I mean to be quite honest, I hated school. I hated doing useless busy-work, - there I said it quite simply instead of trying to explain which subjects I could tolerate or anything obnoxious like that. I hated how I had to smile and wave at people I hardly knew in hallways just because its the right thing to do; because its what they expect me to do. I hated how everyone stared at my bag, wondering why I just didnt use a Jansport backpack like everyone else. I hated how every time someone had the nerve to ask me why I didnt use a Jansport backpack I had to repeat the same thing; that over-sized designer bags are cuter; the nice way of saying I like things that are expensive. I hated that all of the guys that stared at me were not even remotely my type. I hated that there are groups and theyre identified by label of shoes and jeans¦ just because of that Ive decided to order all of my clothes from obscure places that hardly anyone has access too, like European countries. But above all I hated how Mark-Antony was going off to Columbia at the end of the year, like my three sisters did before him. When he left I would be destined be left alone without the guy who I had been in the shadows of since the day I was born, the guy who has saved me on more than one occasion and makes me proud everyday.

Unlike most brothers and sisters who attend the same school Mark-Antony and I actually behaved like we knew each other. In fact sometimes, when I didnt want to deal with the world of fake smiles and fake compliments about this and that, [like they really like your shoes “ they want them for themselves], I sat with him. Its relaxing and he doesnt even mind. I think Im part of his grand scheme of attracting women though, not that he wants a grand scheme for attracting women “ but I think they find it cute how he actually likes spending time with his little sister “ and the girls come. The smart ones approach me first, hoping that if they get in with me somehow Ill relay the message to Mark. I fell for that routine once when I was a freshman and this girl offered to tutor me in French, which was then my most difficult class, and she always insisted on coming over to my house to tutor instead of at the school where everyone else received tutors. The whole thing was so stupid though because she never tutored me, shed teeter out to our backyard where Mark-Antony would be shooting hoops and flirt with him for hours on end. Mark got so irritated by it that he told me to get a new tutor “ I was going to do that anyways because as far as I was concerned, I didnt have one.

It was Monday and I was in school but I wasnt really in school; in other words my mind was elsewhere. I was thinking about what my niche might be. I did take ballet when I was three¦ of course I quit¦ before the first lesson ever finished. But I had a legitimate reason, I simply am not flexible. But now Im beginning to think that maybe somehow thirteen years might have increased my flexibility “ I could get into ballet again. Or I could do drama, even though mother tried to get me into the whole modeling thing like she did with Gemma and they said I was pretty but not made to be on camera¦ what would make me good enough for stage then? “ But who knows, I could be. I could join Eco-Club and become one of those northern Californian environmental obsessed girls. I could recycle everything, change all of the lights in my house to that conserving energy stuff, and go through my neighborhood and tell everyone to sell their hummers. “ But somehow that doesnt sound like me. I could join Young Democrats, cause theres no way I could be a Young Republican without my father personally murdering me “ even though I really dont have a care about politics “ at all. Dont even ask me what a Congressman does.

So I wasnt doing very well with finding my natural talent, but I was working on it. I walked into my Anatomy class after lunch, one of those classes I had chosen because 1) I hate science 2) my parents wanted me to take science, and 3) I heard its easier than Biology. And I was about to sit down when I noticed these girls shoes.

Usually I dont notice anybodys shoes except my own but this was under very different circumstances. I mean, she was wearing clothes that looked like something youd find in Wal-Mart, even though since I had never actually been in that store I wouldnt really know, and her hair was gross “ I mean like oily gross “ like never been to a hair-dresser gross. And yet on her fairly sizeable feet there were a pair of brand new Coach shoes. I had never seen such a paradox in my life. I guess she saw me staring at her, first her face, outfit, and obnoxiously oily hair, then her shoes and she decided she was going to say something.

I think she thinks shes bad-ass, because if I caught someone giving me the once-over I wouldnt even talk to them about it “ of course if someone was giving me the once-over they would probably just be wondering where I got my clothes from. This girl must have been on defensive on account of her hot mess of a hairdo.

What the hell are you looking at?

I glanced around for a second wondering if she was actually talking to me and then when I realized that in deed she was I decided upon a safe answer, um, no¦

Yeah you were, you and your stuck-up rich self, youre momma needs to teach you to look in the right direction.

And that was when I decided I was going to let her have it. I stood up and walked right over to her desk and the words sort of came out, Youre momma probably did the whole neighborhood for her to afford those shoes.

And that was the last thing I remember before seeing the whole world turn black.

3. How would you like Fashion Week?

First things were black but then they gradually lightened as I became conscious.

The next thing I knew I was squinting trying to open my eyes. My head was throbbing, I felt like I had just gotten run over by something very huge and heavy. Wherever I was there wasnt much activity and by looking around the empty room with white walls I could not identify where I was.

Hello? Hello? Is anyone there? Where am I? I muttered, more talking to myself than any potential human in the area.

Peyton, youre awake? ˜Well thats an unfamiliar voice, is what I was thinking. It turns out it was the voice of Ms. Crosby, the school nurse.

Where the hell am I?

In the nurses office¦

Why am I here?

She sighed, probably looking at me and wondering how I could ask a question so obvious, Mina Rogers, she paused tentatively, gave you a fairly strong blow to the head.

Oh, the one with the oily hair and coach shoes?

Ms. Crosby sort of frowned at me. Im used to adults frowning at me, especially when I make fun of people by talking about how odd they look. Mom frowns when I come home with 3.0 GPA report cards. Father frowns when I max out credit-cards and Mina Rogers better have frowned as she saw me hit the floor and realized that she could have killed me.

Peyton, for the love of all things that make any sense, what the hell were you thinking insulting some girl like that?!, Mark-Antony marched into the room.

To be honest, I was thinking that she needed to be told off.

Yeah and so you risked your life to tell someone off? Do you know she does boxing? How many girls do you know who do boxing? You cant even get in the position to do a push-up.

Yeah I can.

Thats not the point Peyton-Vera, him calling me Peyton-Vera in itself was an oddity, because Mark calls me Peya just like father does. If he calls me Peyton-Vera it shows that hes pissed, You cant just go pissing people off just because they pissed you off first.

Well I didnt think shed actually do anything, I figured she knew who my father is.

Not everyone cares about who our father is, Peya, what a relief, hes back to calling me by my usual name, You need to be more careful.

I knew that I should have felt terrible about what I had said to that unfortunate oily-haired girl but to be honest I didnt feel in the least way sorry; at least not for her. Now me on the other hand, I felt that persistent thudding inside my brain, it felt like I had a migraine. Oh and what about when I looked in the mirror. I was a wreck, my right eye was completely black or blue or however you care to refer it as, and swollen as hell¦ well there goes my niche in acting if I ever did have a chance.

Mark-Antony has basketball practice pretty much every day of the week. Lonecraft has been obsessed with their basketball team since the legend of ˜Chris Matthews who was the best high school basketball player the district had ever seen. Today Lonecraft is proud to say it has the best basketball team in the area, they may even dare say the best in California. What all of this meant to me was that with my swollen eye I had to find my way home. It was either that or I would have to wait hours and hours for Mark-Antony to be done. So, I insisted that I was well enough to leave the nurses office and left. I felt sort of bad though that everyone in the halls was staring at me. Some looked sympathetic while others looked kind of surprised. Me versus Mina Rogers they must have been thinking; the bad-ass of the school. I had just created for myself quite the reputation.

So with that in mind I sauntered out of the school to the front expecting that I would just walk home when I here this blaring horn, and blaring music to match. It sounds like something a NYC model would listen to¦ and then came the scream.

Little P.V! she was always loud enough to be heard from miles and miles away.

Gemma model Anderson carefully stepped out of moms Benz. She always looks like a model and acts like one too. Every step she takes looks like its good enough for a photograph and her smile is so captivating that it is really hard to tell when she truly is happy or just pretending to be. Gemma model Anderson was about to embrace her little P.V. when she noticed my face.

My gosh, what the hell happened to you¦ looked like you went through a tornado, I mean an earthquake “ no tornados in Cali.

I got knocked out Gemma.

She didnt skip a beat, she didnt even sound surprised, You would be the type that girls would want to kill¦ told you public school sucks. No one likes congressmens daughters¦

Yeah and the girl takes boxing lessons. And I didnt even do anything, she provoked me, she started the whole thing. Wait till I tell father about this¦

Well, maybe with some make-up¦

Dont flatter me G.M., which by the way G.M. happens to stand for Gemma Marie. We have a thing with calling each other by our initials, Im going to look like crap no matter what magic make-up you models have.

True, Gemma had a way with being truthful in a very blunt manner, But dont let that bother you, its not like you get paid to look good.

Ha ha very funny, but it wasnt funny at all.

I came to pick my little sister up because I know Mark has practice today. Plus I have good news¦

Well considering what happened to me a few hours ago and what my face looks like anything will seem like good news.

Fashion week is coming up in New York and I thought I could take you with me.

Hmm, me really? Why not Anna or Dana?

Theyre busy being full-time college students, plus you and I should spend some quality time together¦

Well thats awfully nice of you but I dont know¦

Oh mom and dad will let you go, I already asked them¦ and if you get to go who knows what trouble well get ourselves into¦

You mean youre gonna let me drink? Maybe let me get so wasted that I forget how completely ugly I am!

Well I dont know about that¦ I was more talking about going shopping with dads credit-card¦

Oh I guess that will work too¦

Oh and I have a¦ boyfriend¦, she started very quietly as if it was some big secret.

Is that surprising? Do you ever not have a boyfriend? I dont necessarily want to give you a history of Gemmas failed relationships but lets just say there have been many of them. Gemma has acquired boyfriend after boyfriend, everything from gangsters to multi-millionaires but no matter who her ˜significant other was [I put that in quotes because none of them were significant at all] they were all completely shallow. And Gemma dumped every last one of them. I felt sorry for one of them. Gemma dumped him right at our dinner table, and the poor soul had skipped spending spring break with his own family in New Jersey¦, I hope you dont plan on dumping this one at the dinner table¦ your karma might become very bad if you do that.

P.V. this one is serious! His name is Giovanni Vastrani, and he is the perfect man. He is coming later in the week to meet mom and dad.

Well doesnt that name sound exclusive, thats probably why hes been granted the honor of meeting the folks. And Im sure they will love him because well, he is the perfect man. I hoped she could tell I was being sarcastic.

Hes an Italian model, she gushed, He is so hot.

I am not surprised, we all know you like the shallow ones.

And this I can actually attest to, she really does like shallow/ living with mom/ I dont like college sort of guys¦ Her entire life she has liked shallow guys but they have all been hot. Well at least this Giovanni dude Im guessing must have money¦ he probably bought her that diamond necklace hanging from her neck, not that she couldnt have bought it herself with all of the money she leaches off of our parents and from posing for cameras.

I hopped in the car and the obnoxious model music continued where it had left off. It sounded like an electric orchestra and a confused band got mixed together in a very terrible way.

4. Well you know, pretty.

My family is super traditional. Whenever a college child comes home my parents insist that we do one of those together dinners which means we sit at the main dining table for hours even though we all finish our dinners in around fifteen minutes.

That night it was five of us, my parents, Mark-Antony, Gemma model Anderson, and well me. I think Gemma was telling some model story because Mark had that bored look on his face even though my parents were absolutely fixated. Hearing Gemmas stories are really the only connection they have to her life these days. Of what I did hear Gemma say I could have sworn that not once did Giovanni Vastrani pop up but I wouldnt really know because to be honest I wasnt really listening. All that I needed to get out of Gemmas surprise visit was that she was staying until Sunday morning at which time I would be leaving to spend a week in NYC with her. Everything past that was irrelevant. The one thing though that was great about Gemma arriving that day was that my parents didnt even touch on the subject of Mina Rogers anymore than to say, Shes getting suspended, but make sure you dont get into a fight again. I had gotten off the hook so easily, I usually at least get the whole responsibility talk.

After sitting for around 120 minutes, [I counted], I asked to be excused. I could tell my parents were annoyed but they let me go; if Gemmas plane had been leaving the next morning though I would have had to stay all night.

My bedroom is the only place where I dont feel that bad about not having a talent. At the dining table thats all Im reminded of, since Im surrounded by everyone who has one. At school I remember that I should be looking for a talent, and probably the best place to find one is at school “ and everywhere else, I dont know, I just feel guilty. However, my room is my room. My walls are covered with pictures that Ive either cut-out of magazines or posters. A lot of the pictures are actually drawn by Anna who along with writing also has a niche for art. See, thats yet another talent I dont possess. I was about to settle down in my bed when my phone rang. The great thing about this family is that we all have our own phone lines.

Hello?

Hey, Peyton, you busy? I recognized the voice immediately. It was Michael.

I guess I should tell you who Michael is. Hes this guy that I met through Mark-Antony because hes on the basketball team too. Since freshman year weve been close even though we have absolutely nothing in common. I mean hes been in public schools his entire life, we dont live in the same neighborhood, and we dont even have the same interests. Nevertheless, we always have something to talk about. I can talk to him for hours about pretty much anything.

Nope, Im not, whats happening?

Nothing much which is why I called you¦

Oh thanks.

Youre welcome. So where were you today? I missed you in sixth period.

I was indisposed.

Were you skipping school again?

Hey! I only skipped once “ and that was because we had a test and I didnt study for it.

Yeah well, you might decide to do it again.

Yeah right, I got in trouble for ditching¦ well sort of, they gave me a warning.

What a charming life you lead, being a congressmans daughter “ anyone else and they would have just passed down the detention slip.

I really dont think its cause of my dad, I think its cause I gave the principal some sort of organic drink once that I found at a store. You know she loves that sort of healthy stuff.

Yeah she does, well anyways, where were you?

You know Mina Rogers?

The girl who boxes?

Yeah her, well she sort of knocked me out.

And at this Michael started laughing and sounded like he was having trouble stopping.

I dont think this is funny Michael.

Well I do, Im imagining little you who cant even get in position to do a single push-up¦

I can too! why was everyone saying that today!

Well anyways, Im imagining you and then Im imagining Mina Rogers¦ I bet she didnt hit you that hard, or at least not as hard as shes capable of. If she did she would have killed you.

Well she might as well have, my face looks like it got run over.

Im sure its not that bad. I cant imagine you looking anything different from what you always do.

And what is that?

Well you know, pretty¦

Its statements like this one that cause me to question whether I should really be just friends with Michael. But since nothing ever happens apart from these occasional sort of comments I usually just push it out of my mind. I havent dated for two years and its been sort of nice in light of who I dated last, but Ill elaborate on that later.

There was an uncomfortable silence after that. And I suppose it was due to the fact that I didnt say anything but a girl cant just jump back to normal after a fairly cute guy, okay very cute guy like Michael calls you pretty, not Peyton-Vera Anderson.

Yeah well, it is pretty bad. I continued, hoping to come off as undetectably nervous.

Want to do something, chill?

No, well I would, but Gemmas home¦

Oh.

You know how my parents are about being present when one of my sisters comes to visit.

Yeah¦.

Well Ive got to go, family calls.

Yeah, well see you tomorrow?

Yeah, unless someone else decides to knock me out!

Michael laughed, Yeah, well if they do you probably deserve it.

¦just because I called her mom a whore¦

You called her mom what?

Long story.

¦that you will tell me tomorrow.

That I promise to tell you tomorrow, talk to you later.

Bye.

Bye. And then click and he was gone.

A part of me wished that I had said yes to hanging out with Michael whether Gemma was present or not. I probably could have if I had tried hard enough, I could have told my parents I had some sort of study group. But then I remembered the condition of my face and figured I had made the right choice. Not only models have the right be self-conscious.



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