Prompt for the week: 8th June – 13 June 2015
A flashback is a scene in a story that takes the reader back in time from the story’s current setting.
Through flashbacks, readers gain information they need to understand the character’s motives, or to understand a current conflict. Dreaming, finding a diary or an old letter, or meeting an old friend can catapult a character into such a recollection. Another approach is to have the character see, smell, hear, touch, or taste something that leads to a significant memory.
A well written flashback moves the reader from the present to the past without seeming contrived or awkward. For this exercise use a sensory trigger to spark the flashback. Perhaps your character smells banana bread and flashes on a childhood scene with
her grandmother. Or your character sees a candle melted to a stub and remembers dark days when the electric bill wasn’t paid.
In less than 1000 words, use one of the five senses to trigger a flashback that will give a reader needed insight into a character. Begin by briefly grounding your protagonist in the present, provide a sensory trigger that brings forth a memory, and then show us the event that affected your character. Be careful to make a smooth transition.
How smooth was the transition to the past? Was the sensory trigger appropriate and effective? How much insight does the flashback provide?
Naveen and Nirupa
The nine young men and women were either in a relaxed sitting position or lazily lying, in a circle around the bonfire, gazing at the stars. There was inelegant silence amidst ladies’ bangles chiming as they try to tuck a few tendrils behind their ears or adjusting their dupattas. Wind made a smooth whoosh once in a while, blazing, crackling both the fire-wood and the hearts of people gathered there, as the sky was dotted with blinking, mute audience. They were meeting after 10 years, but it felt like eternity to them. It is hard to say, what each of them was thinking.
“Yaar life sucksss,” said Naveen out of the blue with a drunken-slur.
Everyone turned to him looking on with anticipation, for an explanation.
He sat up right, dusting his palms. He took a big swig from his beer bottle and looking up into the sky, steadied himself resting on his palms said, “Imagine what we’d all been if we’d followed our dreamsss.”
“Yeah, you always ask these questions after a few drinks. What’s wrong with your life?” retorted Nirupa, Naveen’s twin sister.
“Easy for you to say Missss. Table Tennis super starrr! You had everything on a platterrr, while I had to grow up to be a fucking breadwinner for the family.”
“Hey you two, easy now,” said Sami intervening between the arch nemesis for siblings.
“Sami my brotherrr… Tell her what my fucking dear Fatherrr said that night. You were there. You heard him. Tell herrr.”
“Naveen, you are drunk. We’ll discuss it tomorrow. Let’s all go home. Party is over,” said Sami looking at Nirupa.
“They have to do this every single time,” muttered Amul under her breath. She looked at the others gathering stuff, getting ready to leave and said, “Let’s go.”
“Whazz there to discussss? She got everything because she’s a girl and I didn’t because I am a Man. Clearrr and simple. Can anyone say women are fucking underrr privilege-d in this countrrry?” Said Naveen leaning on Sami’s shoulder.
Nirupa walked off to her car murmuring abuses at her brother. “Moron. Always embarrasses me. That too, at a school reunion. Like it was my decision and I had any control over things.”
Nirupa was the first one to drive off. Sami and Amul took Naveen home after hugging the rest of their friends a good night.
From the driving seat Amul said, “Sami drop him off. I’ll wait in the car.”
Sami gathered Naveen, helped him out of the car, holding him by his shoulder, rang the calling bell.
Nirupa opened the door and said, “What a drunken nuisance he’s become. Lay him over on the sofa. Thanks for bringing him home.”
“Yeah, no problem.” I had to because you didn’t care for your brother, idiot.
“I’ll get you some water,” she said and vanished into the kitchen.
Sami lay Naveen on the couch and placed a few pillows under his head. Naveen was murmuring something. He was half awake and half asleep.
Sami walked to the showcase and stood still, hands in his pockets, eyes filled with guilt, looking at all the cups and shields on display behind the glass doors.
A memory came swirling, flashing before his eyes. A lone tear welled up the corner of his eye. He turned around to leave and saw Nirupa standing with a glass of water.
He gulped its contents in less than a minute and ran out of the door with a “Tell him I’ll call tomorrow.”
Two fifteen year old boys stood on one side of the desk, heads held down with a pot-bellied man smoking his pipe seated on the other side. The boys were Naveen and Sami and the man was Colonel Rajarao, Naveen father.
“So boys, is it a deal?” he asked looking straight into their eyes.
The lads looked at each other, and nodded in unison.
“All the best for tomorrow. I’ll drive you to the stadium in the morning. Make India proud. Bring back an ASIAD gold,” he said refilling his pipe with tobacco.
As the doubles TT junior players representing India walked out, Naveen said, “Do you think we’ll win? We better or else my career in sports will be go kaput. You heard him – “You guys bring back the gold or else you have to give up sports and concentrate on academics.””
“Why does it have to be one or the other?”
“I know. Look at Nirupa, she is playing singles and no such restrictions on her.”
“I wonder why?”
“My dad once told me, she is a girl and is like a guest in our house until she marries. Also, she doesn’t have to be the breadwinner for her family. But, you have to.”
“Why can’t we marry someone who makes money and we can continue playing. Wouldn’t that be cool?”
“Ha ha ha…You are wicked man Sami.”
“Let’s win this damn thing. Are you ready?”
“I sure am.”
Sami missed a few Services and India lost their players, right at the semi-finals.
“Sami…Sami… Are you listening?” Amol shook his shoulder, “We’re home.”
“Hmm, yeah. I’ll be out in a minute,” replied Sami still in a state of trance reliving the incident in his head.
May be if I had played better, things could have been different for Naveen, he thought.
Naveen’s words from the sofa rang in Sami’s ears – “Freaking woman… gave up sports after getting married.”