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Friday, October 29, 2010

The Birth

She was looking outside the hospital window when the cramps started. She knew it was time.

I admit he is sort of strange’, she would tell her friends, when she had started dating him. But isn’t that exactly what one looks for in his or her soul mate? Her friends at college had been apprehensive. ‘Steer clear of that one; we don’t even think he is the type to have a conversation with’ they had warned. But she, out of everyone else, was finally in love, or whatever fancy names the poets and storytellers gave it. ‘I am not trying to be different; breaking out of the crowd or something, when I say I like him’, she had repeatedly justified. Her friends were still not convinced. ‘I love him; just the way he is’, she had finally said with a stamp of her foot, and the chapter had not been touched upon again.

A tear streaked down her cheek as the doctor came and gave her a reassuring smile. ‘It’s going to be fine’, he said, getting into position to start wheeling her bed.  Tears were starting to leak down her face now, as she struggled against an overwhelming flood of memories.

He had always been the sorts who would avoid company; just the kind that she liked. She hated the boisterous showoffs who crammed every corridor of her college. She was quite pretty; prettier than an average girl for sure. Her looks had warranted attention from the crowd she had hated to mix all her life. They wanted to take her to pubs, wanted to treat her at various classy restaurants. One of them had even tried to gift a champagne bottle in college! They soon gave up and let random rumours float around, like dry leaves in summer. She hardly cared, for college gossip was the last thing that would get her worked up.

And one day, just like that, she spotted him. He was sitting in the corner, and just…sitting. He seemed to be lost deep in thought; something she loved calling ‘spaced out’ in her own little universe. She had been forcefully snapped out of it by her friends and family a number of times, but she didn’t care. Here was the dreamer she had always wanted. That was when she had walked up to him for the first time, no violin music in the background, no choruses chortling whatsoever. He had looked up at her, and she knew that she had lost her heart forever.

“Almost there”, the doctor said, wheeling her stretcher, breaking into her comfortable school of thought.  The pain was almost starting to turn excruciating; she fought an urge to slip into unconsciousness, straining herself to stay awake. Moonlight flooded the hospital corridor in a milky flood of extraordinary luminescence. She wanted to be here, wanted to live the moment. Even he ought to be around; but where was he?

Love blossomed like a cheerful spring flower; what else could a bunch of late adolescents want? After college, they had soon moved in together, sharing a flat which was on the top floor. It was rather secluded. ‘Why didn’t you get a flat on the lower floors? Isn’t this a pain? It’s almost on the roof!’ she chortled, like a disappointed school kid. ‘Look at the bright side’, he said unperturbed; ‘we have the whole terrace to ourselves!’ ‘What would we need a terrace for? she had wondered, but never asked. After all, if he thought it was worthwhile, who was she to question it?

After living in for two years, they had married. Like all couples, they had their awkward moments. She had taken up work at a publishing house, while he worked in a bank. Strangely enough, she had never ever seen him carry any documents pertaining to his job or met any of his colleagues. She found this quite fishy, but she was hopelessly in love.  She found it rather demeaning to pry into his office life. Wasn’t he in love with her? That was reason enough, not to go trying to play Sherlock behind his back. It had all been fine till one day she had found feathers fluttering in his room. It was the strangest thing.’ Had been to a friend’s poultry farm dear’ he tried, quite unsuccessfully. She had seen through it, but she rather let the matter drop. A bunch of feathers, after all, were not the exact indicators of a steamy affair now, was it?

Her vision was blurry with tears, as her ride did not seem to be coming to an end. She finally spotted him, a teary silhouette of unruly hair and unkempt dressing, running towards her in slow motion. Looking like a gentleman had never been his forte and she never complained about it. ‘Well dressed snots’, as she loved calling them, were not exactly up her league.

Then, there were the dreams; or what she liked to believe. She would wake up on nights, bathed in sweat, thinking that there was a dog howling on the terrace. For a moment, she would imagine, that she was alone in bed, pale moonlight streaming through the window, and he had deserted her; but he was always there. His hand would run across her temple, wiping off the sweat and he would hug her. She would shiver lightly in his embrace and not say anything. Then she would finally blunder into an unhurried peaceful dreamless sleep.

She could feel the stretcher slowing down. She seemed to be slipping in and out of consciousness. A hazy blur, right in front of her field of vision, which she recongised as his face, peered down at her. She tried her best to try and catch snatches of what he was saying; ‘there is something you should know…secret…told you long time back…’

“Enough! Please wait here” the doctor told him, and wheeled her into the emergency. He quickly tried to peek inside the emergency room. Three people. Wouldn’t be that difficult. He had handled more before.
“You are doing great! Just a little more now…yes…here we are!” the doctor finished with flourish. Her face now lay damp with sweat and tears. She was finally breathing a little easy now. The room was slowly coming back into focus. It was perfectly quiet. Everything had gone perfectly; but there was something out of place…what had he said?

I am happy! Don’t you see it on my face? Don’t you see that I am happy?’ he had gone on, but she had seen through it. She had seen that he was flustered; maybe even troubled. She had hoped that it would be a mistake on her part; after all, he had been the happiest when they had discussed the prospects of fatherhood. During the months that ticked off her calendar, he had been around but seemed anxious; almost to the point of being terrified. She could sense there was something that he wanted to tell her, but words failed him every time he had tried, and they had changed the subject. Maybe, just maybe, it was the stress of stepping into fatherhood. After all, it was a new experience for him as well. After all…

“Ouch!” the doctor’s voice broke her thought process. “That’s a first! He bit me! What the heck! He has canin…”

He never finished his sentence, as a huge wolf stepped in, standing on hind legs, and silenced the doctor forever… 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Waking up

The sea of silence lingers,
against an anxious shore;
mysterious illusions walk around
waiting for a cure.

"No more, no more!"
he screams, in hate.
"no more!" he shouts,
a tad too late...
the sea, now lashing
of silent nights before.

The peace is gone
the shadows deep
the shore, now drenched in pain
he blames his heart
now torn apart
promising never to love again.

"I hoped for joy!
I hoped for bliss!
I hoped for yellows and pinks!
Now, heart of hearts,
We must depart
and for a moment, think.

The heart was meant
for blood well spent
to keep our bones alive
how was it then
that Love was when
it chose to lose its drive?

It now sits still,
against its will;
making people fall in love.
Through mush and kiss
and hugs and bliss, 
it randomly peturbs.

The beach now seems to melt away
the sea does ruckus make
I sit now, sleepy, thinking of love
leaving corroded dreams in its wake...

[I am no poet and I hardly understand poetry the way it should be understood...but do drop in a word about what you think of it; suggestions on improvement would be welcome as well.]

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Letting Go....

I have always loved dolls. The morning stands out like a well developed Polaroid, etched deep into the corner of my brain. It’s the corner which keeps my happy thoughts. I keep memories of walking through dead , scrunching leaves on a winter morning and cycling down a slope on a sunny day in there.

We are in the throes of a childhood memory; embracing the moment, hoping to never let it go. My hands are soft and pudgy, capable of holding only little things, meant for little hands, such as mine. The room is full of colours. I see bright oranges, sunny yellows and sparkling greens. They seem to be everywhere. And then I see the doll.

The doll looks deep into my eyes, caught in the moment of a Doll universe. Entrapped in an unknown Doll’s dream, the moment seems to stretch for ages. You sit there, at the corner, nose deep in one of your silly books. The walls stand around us, pale and faded, not interfering in our invisible games of hide-and-seek; the one which we play, without needing to move a muscle. My playthings are strewn all around; miniature pots and pans, a gas stove, even a little beauty kit. It is my world, and the doll lives with me here.  I want you to stay with me here, but I am afraid. I am scared of you turning my offer down. I worry about you turning up your nose from the book, crinkling your forehead and saying “what sort of a silly game is this?” That is when ma walks in.

“This cannot go on!” she says, irritation painted in a bright red on her face. I see her standing there, quiet now, without a word more. I just gape at her. The doll doesn’t look at me anymore at this moment. Its face has found something new to do; stare at the fading walls with a stone cold expression. I can’t see out of the window; not because it’s dark. It’s only because I can’t. Just.

I move my gaze and stare at the floor. The pattern on the mosaic is bright; almost alive. My mood is rotten now. I want the floor to open up and allow me to run down a flight steps, so that I can disappear forever. Ma doesn’t know all of this. She cannot read my thoughts. I sit there, a picture of grumpiness, with a million toys before me lying neglected. As she gets ready to shoot another of her verbal arrows, you finally take your nose out of the book and look at her. Then you say “Why do you have to bother her? She doesn’t want to go! Let her be!”

The silent room somehow turns more silent. It feels as silent as a grave now. Ma just stands there looking at you. She doesn’t say anything. I haven’t changed my expression, but there seems to be a toy train filled with pretty flowers running around in circles in my head.  The doll doesn’t seem to be interested in taking part at the proceedings, and continues to stare at the wall. You go back to reading your book. There may be guilt on your mind, but it doesn’t show on your forehead. Ma, perhaps in hope for some sort of a follow up, waits for a little while. When she sees no reaction from you, she decides to exit, stage right. She is gone for now, and with it, the room becomes a little brighter. I decide to go back to playing, considering you are back to reading. The doll now comes back from her doll universe and decides to spend time with me.

Ma is standing at the corridor speaking to another woman. I can’t see her face, but from Ma’s voice, I can make out that she is talking about the events that transpired a while back. I concentrate till the point I can hear her clearly. She tells her about how I don’t talk to her and won’t go back. She sounds perplexed. She says she doesn’t know how you know everything about me; what I want, what I would say or maybe wish for. Then I hear the other woman’s voice for the first time. It sounds like someone running a chalk on the blackboard. I don’t want to hear, but I have to. She says that there is only one solution to the entire predicament; and then she drops the bomb. She tells her that you must go back. You can’t talk on my behalf for the whole of my existence. You must be sent home.

I am so engrossed, that I don’t notice the walls or you or anything. I suddenly look around to find that everything around has changed. We aren’t kids anymore. The room is gone. We stand on the prettiest sea shore that was ever made. The beach is made up of sand which sparkles like diamond. We stand facing a emerald blue sea, packed prettily with a powdered blue sky. The doll is gone, and so are the toys; Ma cannot be seen anywhere either. That is when you suddenly break out “Go to the sea and never come back!” It almost sounds comical, but I am too happy to notice. I race down the beautiful beach towards the sea, the sand scrunching beneath my feet like coarse silk. The waves crash softly on the shore, spraying their foam in a soft caress, as droplets land on my face in soft unheard steps. I look back in a moment of elation. That’s when I notice that the beach is empty.

You are not there. In a moment of panic, I scream your name over and over. There is no reply. The sky darkens. The sea is turning into a deep shade of azure as I speak. The sand slowly heats up, like baking coals. I am still screaming.
And then, in the moment of desperation, I wake up...

(based on a real dream, which was narrated to me; the guy in the story is actually me in the dream...)

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Residents at 4, Ice Cream Cone

Its not that hard to imagine. All you have to do is put your mind and a freezing soul into it.

When the residents moved into house number four, no one really paid attention. People by now were pretty used to people moving in and out of houses on the ice cream cone all the time. While most claimed that living on an ice cream cone was easy, they soon realized that it wasn’t as easy as it looked.

The first thing about living on an ice cream cone was that it was always cold. There was no scope for any other weather. You always walked around in soft, slushy ice cream and couldn’t complain. While the kids enjoyed the experience, the older folk got a little irritated with all the slush around. They could not do much about it, for an ice cream really wouldn’t look different for them now, would it? So they walked about in the slush without complaining much. It seemed that the people living on candies, taffies and chocolate bars were not having that great a time either.

The family which had moved into house number four had three people; a kid with parents. They had come in with their skin, a light golden, and smart wavy brown hair.  A month on the ice cream cone, and they would start looking white like the rest of the inhabitants. In the beginning, whoever came to stay here mostly stuck out as sore thumbs. Over time, they soon became a part of the system; but if you decided to leave the ice cream cone and move elsewhere, the entire process of acclimatizing would start again. There was a very loud couple living in the house before the new family moved in. People hated them, every time they crossed their house. While the snow and the slush never let sounds travel far, the ice cream cone was not big after all. What you did in your house was not much of a secret anyways. Sooner or later, the whole neighborhood knew.

The first problem came to notice when Mr Smith, from seven, Ice Cream Cone was headed to the house of Mr Jones, who lived at two, Ice Cream Cone. He had to cross the house where the new people had moved in. It was late in the night and the street was empty. As he neared the house numbered four, Ice Cream Cone, he felt a strange sensation. It was one which he had not felt in years, since he had moved into the Ice Cream Cone.

He felt warm.

He had almost forgotten how it felt to be warm. The thing with certain feelings is you don’t know how it feels, if you haven’t felt it for a long time. And then, when the feeling takes you over, you, for a better part of it, are surprised. Sometimes, it fills you with dread, or it washes you over with a spirit of happiness and gaiety. For Mr Smith, it was the latter, and he welcomed the feeling.
He stood in the darkness, soaking up the feeling of warmth. His skin prickled and he looked at it in the soft moonlight, a big grin on his face. His footsteps had slowed down and become more sluggish than before. They sank in the slush softly and came back out in a hushed rhythm. When they decided to start sinking in deep and not come out, he almost did not notice. He was still caught in his moment of warm rapture. He finally noticed when half his body sank in and he was waist deep.

Panic seized him. He tried to thrash around initially but gave it up soon enough. They hadn’t been taught lessons in personal disaster management. He just stood still as he sank deeper. The place felt warm, so he really did not feel like complaining. It was a sensation that made him feel like he was somewhere else. Infact, it was so overwhelming, that he did not fear death, incase it decided to rear its ugly head, and shake him out of his warming fantasies.

And then it froze.

He stood chest high in the slush outside 4, Ice Cream Cone, not knowing what to do. The feeling of warmth was gone. It was cold all over, and he could hardly stand it anymore. He slowly moved his shoulders and brought out his hands. They were almost blue due to the cold. He hated how his hands looked. He managed to extricate himself from the slush, and realized he was soaking completely. He did not like it anymore. His Ice Cream Cone days seemed to have come to an end.

The next morning was special. Mr Jones from 7, Ice Cream Cone was leaving the neighborhood. Everyone was surprised; after all, Mr Jones had been living on the Cone for years now. When people asked him about why he had decided to leave the place, he just clamped his jaws and nodded his head. He decided to keep his reasons a secret, because the last thing that he wanted on the Ice Cream Cone was unrest.

But alas, that was not to be. The next incident happened two nights later. When Harry, the kid from 9, Ice Cream Cone was getting home from his friend Angela’s house, he happened to cross 4, Ice Cream Cone. He spotted a faint orange glow surrounding the house. It made him feel warm and happy, just like Mr Jones. He settled next to the wooden fence of 4, Ice Cream Cone and closed his eyes. Soon, he was fast asleep.

The next morning turned out to be chaotic. Harry’s parents came out, searching for him. There was no police, so all they could do was knock on doors and ask as to where their kid had gone. No one ever went missing, for if they were not at home, they were generally at someone else’s house. They knocked all houses till they found him blissfully blue on the side of the fence of 4, Ice Cream Cone. The cold, it seemed had done him in.

Harry remained sick for a week, during which more incidents occurred outside that house. Two more people left, who were soon replaced by new inhabitants.  Houses in Ice Cream Cone were pretty sought after, but the present spate of people leaving caught them on the wrong foot. Soon enough, people decided to avoid the house altogether. Interestingly, no one ever remembered talking to the inhabitants of the house ever. They couldn’t even agree upon how they looked. There was one thing that they had a unanimous vote about though; they were one family that no one wanted to be friends with.

The mood inside 4, ice cream cone was definitely not of merriment. At this very moment, the elders in the house were busy trying to find all the commotion. With the first report that came in from the neighborhood, they had figured it was a coincidence that occurred outside their house. As the incidents turned more frequent, they knew that there was someone or something inside the house, which was definitely responsible. They did their math and zeroed in on their son, who had lately been keeping to himself.

The son now sat on a chair facing his parents. Like every early teenager, he was a picture of discomfort and fear. His parents had repeated the question innumerable times, but he did not have an answer. He felt responsible for whatever was happening but could never figure out as to what was happening. So he decided against taxing his little mind.

His parents finally gave up on him, and soon it was time for bed. He lay on the bed thinking. What was it that was driving people to behave the way they were? What was it that was leading people to vacate the place? His head was spinning. He felt sleepy. Outside, Mrs Jones struggled to get out of the ice cream slush, but soon gave up, for she felt warm. She had never felt so good before. Next morning, no one would find Mrs Jones, and they would be bothered for a while. Then, forgetting about her, life would go on as normal, even in front of 4, Ice Cream Cone.
His droopy eyelids soon won the war with him and he felt blissfully asleep. There was a smile playing on his lips. Unseen to any, the frost around him seemed to disappear and an orange glow filled the room now. Mrs Jones was gone by now. He was dreaming of roasting marshmallows over a bonfire.


[A cousin of mine told me that she flunked drawing in her upper KG when she drew a house over an ice cream cone. I wish I had been correcting the paper! :) ]

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