Not to be washed away
April 9, 2014 § 1 Comment
He was as crumpled as a paper waiting to be tossed into the infinite mess of the world, when she picked him up, straightened the sheet and read their future, as if the wrinkles were palm lines. She was convent educated, he refused to shave more than once a week. She adored eloquence and finery, while he had an old comb and a worn out toothbrush in his backpack.
He never knew love; and now in the verses she learnt him. His scrawl was a savagery, and yet she liked the t’s. There was a margin none too wide, and the words seemed too afraid to be too far away, lest a stranger makes them part ways.
It was a love like none other, and lasted all for a fleeting moment. And then she noticed the chewing gum, smartly sticking to her white dress. “Ugh,” she said, picking the gum in disgust, rolled the paper and binned it, with vehemence.
Yet, the words seemed to have left a mark, not to be washed away.
January 23, 2014 § Leave a comment
Inspired by an experience, a friend had recently. This isn’t a real dream, rather a work of fiction,er…I think.
And the gas cylinder burst. I woke up with a start, only to find myself in a room full of what seemed like Oompa-Loompas. They peered at me, curiously, through the bright light; a few moments later they panicked when I blew my nose and a boogie hit one of them in the eye. A big ruckus followed, I lay there, tied, unable to shut my ears, nose or other er…entries,er…access points? Before I could choose the right word,a big needle emerged, which I guessed, they intended to poke me with.
And I screamed my lungs out- never, ever use a needle which you are unsure about; or razors. I have screamed quite a bit in my life, my voice holds its own at those decibels, much like the singer who can out shout..er, sing, supersonic planes, but for some reason my lungs decided to tear. Blood splattered as I continued to scream and splattered the white wall, the whitest thing I have ever seen, except the face of the Oompa-Loompa on whose face the boogie had landed. The blood painted the wall and suddenly the red queen came up to me. She was happy and even conferred a title upon me; the plaque awkwardly placed, caused itches, and I desperately wanted to scratch. At that moment my lungs decided to disintegrate- they seemed to have popped out through my mouth and lay on the floor, the queen stamped on them and the alveoli popped like bubble-wrap. The red queen tasted the blood which seemed to have hit her face, concluded that I was a slimy wretch, decreed I had to be executed.
And I whimpered unable to move. There was water all around, I could feel it and see it out of the corner of the eye, but I couldn’t turn. Above me were the most beautiful colours I had ever seen; what a lovely sunset, I thought. I relaxed, though I knew my limbs were bound and was waiting shark food. It was night, but the sea was lit by some sort of light, I knew not what- maybe a meteorite making its way to end humanity or a volcano- but I wasn’t particularly in a mood to think about our very evolved species. Suddenly, a single horn appeared at the horizon of my sight. I was glad, I would be saved, this was surely a manifestation of the god who has over numerous ancient, not-to-be-questioned books saved quite a few from impending doom. I wasn’t sure I had done enough to merit this, but, strange are the ways of…this is when I became aware that this was a dream…but what if…
And I was right. This wasn’t a dream, I saw that it wasn’t a fish approaching me, rather there was a school of them. Each of a religion, I thought. Food for thought, maybe now their brain might build with that tiny-winy additional protein. I heard screams, so there were others here, lots of good protein, though I am sure they aren’t as fit as I am. As the fish(one, not the school) swallowed me, I felt a tug, there had been a string attached to me all along, so this was all a ploy to catch them…
And I felt the acids burn. It corroded me, my skin was coming off…I was on a mountain top- die, they said, burn, for that is the law of this land, they said, I felt something moving below me, it left familiar, it was my fiance and he was dead. I didn’t scream and accepted it, for there was nothing else to do; it wasn’t done yet. Wait, I am a guy or am I- my hands are still tied.
And they planned to pull my brains out of my head. This seemed comforting, for this would all surely draw to a tame close. At that thought, the doctor looked at me; they wanted to peel my skin, for science. They wanted to test the pain barriers, apparently, for science. Presently they taped my mouth, and the man in the white coat walked up to me and assured me that it would all be deliciously painful.
And bear our sins, they chanted. You are our messiah, I could still smell the perfumes they had sprayed me with a few hours ago. It all burnt, like old cloth I burnt, a mess…
And I could smell the paper burning. I woke up with a start. This was the issue all along, I guess, the paper burning. What a way to wake me up, I chided my head. The paper had caught fire from the mosquito coil, and was burning. I picked up the water bottle and doused the fire, dark the other half.
And the nurse walked in- there she stood, a nurse in perfect whites, hair in a perfect bun, perfectly shined shoes, with a perfect shine, perfect in every way a nurse is perfect. I could even smell the shampoo she had used on her lovely, perfectly curly hair. I smiled, but she looked perfectly horrified. I did not know what and glanced at the bottle. The terror grew, with the pain. At first a tickle, and then a recognition, by the time the terror reached adolescents, my head hit the pillow, I lay.
I could hear someone else walk in, not nurse shoes, maybe a male nurse? But…it was the doctor. I could feel the light slowly fading out, exactly like in the thousands of movies you have seen, but just before I popped off, I saw the doctor, he smiled and stroked my jugular, and said something which didn’t sound too promising. Vampire food, but don’t they like it fresh? I felt something pierce my neck. Damn you, twi…
And blink now, thrice or you shall die.
How not to begin your day
July 11, 2013 § 1 Comment
Don’t think. Tie the stupid watch but don’t look at the time, don’t think. Walk forward, one step at a time, walk forward, one more step at a time, slowly, slower, slowly.
Don’t see, don’t think. Stare blankly and freak the person out. Look deep into the eyes and then quickly go blank. And when they freak out, pretend to look at the watch, but don’t look at the time. Repeat that till the person walks away or runs away. If that seems to take forever, hell just walk past them, waving at infinity. That’s a perfectly good way to begin a day.
Not that it would make anyone feel happy, but there.
At a Cafe
August 6, 2012 § 6 Comments
Sitting at a café on a busy intersection and watching the rush hour traffic flow by- a slush is the only evidence of the rain a few hours ago. There is much ado about something. An organized chaos flows through the city like a drug through the blood stream. There is a hope to reducing some swelling but there is nothing to show for it. A medley of horns from clandestine vehicles emerges from the desperation, the need to get to somewhere before everyone else does.
A quick glance at the watch and people are always late. A little smile. Here in another city, which feels far from home. But that’s nothing the nice weather and a good cup of coffee cannot set right. The addict that he is, the caffeine kick helps him settle down. He searches the crowd for a pretty face. Any pretty face would do. He just had to see a pretty face. Not a beautiful one. Not a face with tons of makeup on it. Not a face held together by a deliberate nonchalance or decoction anger. But a simply pretty face- Without the air of high pretension, one that will knock you out with a slight smile. Maybe a hit of recognition would help as well.
One always likes to know people. Meet new ones. Especially pretty new ones. Another kick from the caffeine, he sits a little deeper into the couch. The couple at the next table rip apart the value of humanity to shreds. He wonders if they could shred paper with their mouths. Some purpose might be served. There was enough paper in this world waiting to be shred. Loveless love letters, thoughtless resignations and hopeless letters to distant homes. Some are written never to be read, others are written to be shredded.
The coffee cup stood there in an expensive stance, drawing the attention of anyone who would bother to look at not its contents but its shape and size- an appearance of something fantastic. He took out a ragged book and turned to page eighty-seven, took out the bookmark and began reading.
If only the world was written by Hemingway. If only we measured our sanity against Kafka. If only Shelley had lived longer. It didn’t matter, in the books he left the alarming crime rates of the city and immersed himself in the world of bulls, roaches and winds. The world is but an illusion after another, in between books.
Every page held another minute in a life which could have been written by anyone; or by monkeys on typewriters; or drawn by a surrealist; or sung as a voppari*. The words are but sounds which the tongue rolls, but what mighty things they do to the little recess of our senses. The way some words are the emotion rather than just a mindless blabber. If he could be a word, he would be spoken by everyone in this world.
He could never be sold or owned or hurt. He would be hurled but someone would catch him. He could be out on the streets and someone might pick him. But some day, he might go out of use, just like that- because no one felt for him anymore. Now, he was a little word in an unknown corner. Waiting to be born- he might become a noun, or be a verb or an article for indecisiveness.
He flipped the page. The world around him stood in perfect oblivion, passing through the motions of existence, contemplating origins from miniscule particles which might never exist. The world didn’t bother to prove its existence and he didn’t search for it. He would rather think of it as a fictitious mystery, a supposing God striking a furious pose behind a closed screen. No atlas was drawn and none held the world, not on shoulders, not on a boar snout.
Page eighty-seven became page eighty-eight and eight nine. A sudden rap on the nearby window- a familiar face looked in. The warmth of recognition followed by implications, struck him. He smiled politely and got up. He walked past the couple who had by now come close to triggering the Gods to unite in decimating them. He walked as fast as he could towards the wash at the far end. His friend from the window, realizing what was happening, made for the door with a mighty rush, shopping in tow.
As she reached, he disappeared. She stood there looking intently at where he disappeared. She knew, he would never come back. But there was his bag, his book and signs of him. She sat where he had just been moments ago. The wait, she had felt was over, but evidently not.
She flipped the book and stared at it. Page eighty-nine. She flipped till a hundred. And ran through till the end and then forward. Nothing.
The book was a blank. So he was, so he was, she told herself content. The world might live another day.
“Sorry madam, this seat is already occupied.”
Startled she looked up. A young waiter looked at her. His face is a blank slate with no emotions.
“Ohh, sorry.” She murmured and walked out.
*Voppari : Tamil. Crying loudly for someone dead. Mostly over the dead body.
Matchbox of hope
September 12, 2011 § 2 Comments
The boy had a box of matchsticks in his hand. In front of him was a candle- A plain old cream-white candle. The only light in the room came from the LED street lights outside the window. The murmur of the rain and the occasional vehicle were the only sounds that made their way in. His eyes sparkled bright as he lit each matchstick and watched it die even as he tried to light the candle.
He would have been about 10 years old. His brows were in keen concentration and he smiled rarely. There was a bottle of water next to him, which seemed to never run out. There was perspiration on his forehead. His hair was unkempt and fell on his forehead. He had brown eyes and his nose was rather flat. He sat there legs crossed and kept striking the matches. His hands were slightly large for his age and the fingers showed signs of effort.
The artist stared at the boy and in his vision, painted. Hopeless though it seemed, he couldn’t help noticing that all that the boy wanted to do was light the candle. He never seemed to run out of matchsticks. He kept trying, again and again. He probably would grow old and the water would turn into whiskey. The calm face might lose its steadiness and become wrinkle ridden. His eyes may lose their charm to the light and he may start looking up occasionally at the window. He might go on till the day in desperation, he struck a match for one last time, tried to light the candle, watched it burn out and breath in the smoke for one last time.
But the boy had no clue what was outside. All he knew was that he had to light the candle. He did not know why. But he would have to keep trying, till he succeeded.
Matchbox of hope.
It hurt no more
June 14, 2011 § 6 Comments
He stood still, his gaze transfixed at what would cause his end. It possessed not the vulgar slur of a rustic goon, nor did it curl its tongue in chaste decree. It stared back at him, just the way he did.
But there was fear in his eyes, whereas it had courage. You could tell it could kill. It could destroy anything, even a rainbow, if it wanted to. To him, it was a relief to meet something with the zeal and vigour it possessed. There would be nothing wrong in meeting his end at the hands of one so potent.
He couldn’t go down without a fight though. It was his instinct- to fight, to bite, to scream, to mock, to reject venomously anything and everything. Some people are socially conditioned to belong, others to not belong- that is their way of belonging.
Not every creature can appreciate the beauty, the melancholy innate in each step, each vista. The allegro, played by the horns and swearing of mimicking mouths and mass produced tyres, leads into a slow grave, slowly mounting sand , ever certainly covering the eyes with tears of uncertain depressing joy and leaves the mind dense and lost in the vile vogue of ever present perspiration.
He was that mind, caught in this jungle of penury between deserts of plenty. The belief had petered away, like dripping ice cream with more water than milk. The faith had petered away, like camphor sold in packets in front of temples. There was only hope- he hung onto it dear with enough gratitude, hopelessly.
Now the mind stood, face to face, bare and just born, unstable, asphyxiating and waited for the first move. It will end tonight, it was as sure as the sun would rise. There is no reason to reason, just to fight and let it end. There might be a final kiss, he was hopeful.
The room was cold and flooded by a street light. There were shadows, ever so eager to throw a stolen punch or to back a falling creature. But they stood there, still, somber, both waiting for the inevitable.
There were no more appointments, no ice to be stopped from melting or money to be dealt evenly among parvenu founders. There was nothing to do, except stare at each other and wait expectantly.
Slowly he felt mesmerized. He felt enchanted. He heard words and dreamt of broken toys, sea sand and see-saw. He swayed in misplaced hope to the curly locks of some girl. He feel down and stretched, he lay with hands open and a content smile, waiting for some knife or hands to end it.
But there was nothing.
The sound of a passing car woke him up. The light ricocheted of the mirror and fell on his face. He felt sad- all over again. But it hurt no more.
Into The Unknown
March 10, 2011 § 4 Comments
He stood there transfixed and dazed. Everything felt new to him. The endless throng and their choking unmoderated movements. On platform 6 lay porters and those identity less men of the cratering cart. Above them, mosquito nets to protect them from things more than mosquitoes.
Maybe it would be easier to have taken their path he thought. He felt like a lame sheep in the midst of a herd of charging buffaloes. Someone pushed him from behind. Helplessly and with as little deliberation as possible he started walking with the flow. Suitcases with wheels, big bags and backpacks with laptops passed him.
He felt dizzy. He had not expected this. He had heard that the city was ruthless but he had scoffed. He had stood at more than the 6 foot he was when he left his home, now though he felt small, very small. In fact he wished he would be invisible. He was searching for a familiar face, whom he hoped would notice him.
The speed at which people were moving was frightening maybe if they stopped, the world would end. He was conscious of the sudden increase in noise levels. There was just enough air to breathe the rest was taken by the dust and the various bright nauseating smells of a station.
Half sleepily and tense, he knew not what to expect at this wee hour. The ghosts of people who had been here before and their fear haunted him. He was far away from anywhere he knew, this was a wonderland without the wonder, but of course he had never heard of wonderland. Step by step, he was being brushed aside already. He wanted to fight back, he tried desperately. Sadly, the Bata chappals failed to match the better brands and the fakes. It seemed easier to give up.
More people-how many people are there in this world anyway? They were everywhere. Families were waiting for trains to carry them back home or to another unknown city, which waited as eagerly as this one to corrupt and steal away any hope they had and fling them back into the unreserved compartments.
His friend hadn’t come. He took out the small piece of paper, torn from an old paper at Bhiya’s tea stall and having found a PCO, he dialed.
This Number Does Not Exist.
Headlights. Under an antique roof, he felt sealed. Announcements he could understand only them, for only they were in a language he understood. He sat down in a dark corner and watched the entrance. he cursed everyone he knew and soon he fell asleep.
He woke up a while later there was no way he could go back. He listened intently, hoping to hear someone speak in a language he understood. Everything felt alien and scary. He got up and took his small bag. A tiny fish was entering a pool of sharks either he would be eaten or he might escape if he was clever enough to be never seen either way no one would care or miss him, he felt.
People and more people, the rats, the insects and the trains all seemed oblivious to this building which to him seemed like a monumental tomb with a clock counting away the seconds before it would all end-sooner rather than later.
He had nowhere to go and he clutched on to his bag as hard as possible. He got out of the station,turned left and started walking into the unknown.
January 9, 2011 § 3 Comments
She sat on a wooden stool next to a stub. Her hand moved over the cavernous canvas, freely sketching a parapraxical tree.
A thick, short trunk which called upon an infinite foliage. The olive melt into the bright green- an iridescent plaque of herself to be hung on a sour cream wall of a monstrous mansion. Her passions tempered into a 30 inch hypotenuse, the diagonal to the quenching quadrilateral.
Behind her a seemingly infinite jungle made of imported trees, with eyes prying and mice hiding from venomous snake in rat holes – a montage to the erogeneity of the city. In front of her a perfect boulevard, leading to a monumental arch, commemorating the thesauri of a linguist state.
Yet, neither the painted jungle nor the built arches inspired her. The tree which once belonged there and had cast its shadow to the dusty traveller and the hopeless migrant, was now a marginal stub- cut and left to grow mushrooms, moved her enough to empathies and create.
She sat there, dreamily, unaware of the snide sarees and disgruntled dothis- the gossip mongers and jinn eyed obnoxious self-professed moralists, who knew none better than to judge. Her world moved faster than the time it took the sweat to trickle down from her forehead to her brows. She was in a canopy of dreams and azure blues, beyond the jaded varnish of a painted plants and polythene leaves.
On the stub, stood her paints, strew around and left a mark or two of colours on the once magnificent Banyan. The clock milled along second by second, exasperated, waiting for the artist to reach the poignant final stroke, so that it could stop itself and look at the world for a moment. The Janusian winds urged the dead leaves to rustle a bit more on the cobbled paths and moved the fountains to spray drops on to her enchanting face.
Her hands moved faster than the dissonant traffic, that screamed away past the red lights into junctions of copping helmets. Her face gleamed brighter than the setting sun, the awakening neon lights and the impending moonlight. As the day set into the inevitable night, a sudden chill thrust itself on the painted tree and the paint flowed no more.
In desperation, he searched for her and her work, but none was around. Neither a stub, nor a stool. All that remained were bright lights of the newly laid pathway and flowers with name boards. The trees swayed silently, absorbing the din, the jinn and malign.
As he came to his senses, he realized that it was a dream. A young girl with her mother walked by- there was a book in her hand whose cover he recognized.
Sometimes all it takes is a leap to create faith
January 2, 2011 § 4 Comments
He stood at the balcony- he was a score stories high.
He watched as the evening sun dealt its oblique rays on to the transgressed shore. The waves crashed in hope to win back the mile they had lost to the thick boulders of the city. Under the heavy cloud of the city’s spirit and pollution, the panorama was breath taking, literally.
He was long used to the choke and wicked whispers of this city built by Britannia and concrete. The bridges that seemed to connect, also cut through the arteries and brought to an end the tracks left by the last generation. Anachronistic cenotaphs to iconoclasts and sensationalists, served to remind anyone who would look- the origins of the parimutuel progress of the city’s neighbourhoods.
Today, he stood on the balcony with a railing painted black and potted plants hanging in proportional chains looking at the sunset, waiting for the right moment, to do what he wanted to do.
The sparrows, parrots and crows, flew in tight groups keeping shape, towards their distant homes, cemented into the souls of every growing area. The decadent heart, was slowly being to be troubled by the clandestine wheels, which clogged the cycles and caused the tired black cells to curse and honk their way to a place of hopeful quite and peace.
The city with its sundering cacophony was a furlong away from where he was- caught in the mesmerising magic of the sunset. The ravenous sun, which scorched hard on works and toils, was now bidding its adieu for a few hours. It first dipped behind the miranda glasses of an assurance company- he moved a couple steps and could see it again. It then hid behind the veils of a corporate- he again moved.
The sun now hung, on a few yards of open horizon, between the corporate and a newspaper company. It pressed on now, a few yards from the translucent waters of the sea. By now he was at the end of the balcony. To get a better view he climbed over the spiky railing and stood confident on the edge.
A crowd gathered below- reporters hoped to scavenge a scandal, police to ponder a rescue and others out of abject curiosity. He saw the finally minuscule crimson dive- he jumped.
As the crowd rushed fast towards him, he heard them scream and could feel the din. He was a star- he was a son of the sun. When they noticed who he was, the crowd was stupefied and a wail hung over.
The implications- the heir to the horizon of bridges had leapt over a rail! The parks laden with waste newspapers, airport with incomplete hangers! The shock. Who would bear the riots and rage of the malevolent men?
But their worst fears failed to come alive. He hung on from a shock cord. The sun after all never dies- it sets, only to returns to arise and awake.
The crowd noticed he wasn’t who they supposed. Neither was he a bud with two leaves – he was a someone, who they never knew was there.
Sometimes all it takes is a leap to create faith.