Saturday, 30 August 2014 5 comments

Have I Told You Lately...

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda. 

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Hello my heart, my core, my old friend. 

Muscle of endurance
Pumping life in my veins
Reason for my being
Edifice of vivacity
A child at play
Erudite at times
Temple of philosophy
Displaying surprising naïveté
Shenanigans galore
There you go running into trouble again
Innumerable times
Have you been broken
Still you refrain to grasp 
The self centred core of the other's whole
Devoid from logic
You tread on a dangerous path
Looking for shadows long gone
Searching for things never to be found
Intent on recklessness
When will you learn? 
Ages of anguish
Lust for peace
Quest for the truth
Desire to be loved
Eager to be seen
Packing bouts of hope
Object of marvel, worthy of awe
Rebel for life
A shield that protects 
A vow of the soul... 

Friday, 15 August 2014 3 comments

At The Stroke of Midnight

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda. 

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Somewhere between the overly sensationalised bytes of the newsreader and the innumerable tv commercials, I fell asleep. I was so tired I couldn't muster up the strength to drag myself to my bed as the first faint whisperings of my deep slumber started making their presence felt. So I dozed off on the couch with the TV still on and it's low sounds stirring me from my repose occasionally.

It must have been around 11:45 pm when I first heard it.

A slight sound.

A hum? No.

This was more than that. That sound roused me from my slumber like a mother does when waking her child. At first I couldn't comprehend it and my half asleep state prevented it further.

A few seconds later I realized that my house was echoing with a woman's sobs. I got up with a start. Grabbing my cell phone off the table in front of me I checked the time.

11:47 pm

I froze as it hit me that the sobbing sounds were emanating not too far from me. A spot on the wall right in front of me seemed to be the source. On rubbing my eyes a few times I could see a woman sitting there. She wasn't entirely visible to me in the dim light that glowed from the night lamp beside the couch.

I could make out a woman who may have been in her sixties, the luminance of her long white sari, her dark hair flowing endlessly to the ground where I assumed her feet would be.

It was something about her. Or the way she sat in front of me. Or the vibes she radiated. I knew who she was. But I couldn't bring myself to believe it.

"You... I... You're..?" was all I could manage.

"I am her. The spirit of the land you dwell on. The soil on which you lay your forehead in reverence. The embodiment of The Mother who has looked after you. I am India," and those words resounded in the small space of my room, my world.

Her words stifled by her sobs now and then.

"We're free!" I exclaimed in a whisper in a bid to stop her from crying.

"68 years," I sighed still hazy on what I thought I was seeing.

She was silent. I thought she would say something about it. All these years. The era before Independence. The taste of freedom.

"68 years and we are yet to be free," she uttered.

As if on cue, my attention diverted to the TV screen where a recent rape case was making headlines. Gruesome details about how the incident took place coloured the ticker space. The news anchor kept badgering the viewer with this sensitive piece of news.

I quickly found the remote and shut it off.
Instinctively, my eyes alighted on the newspaper that lay within my reach that had another rape case headlining its front page wedged between another old case, whose unsatisfactory court ruling had left the public enraged, and a full page size advertisement of a new product launch.
I quickly picked up the newspaper and folded it neatly before placing it under the table.

"You think placing it under the table or switching off the TV will make it go away?" she asked and slowly crept out of the spot where she sat and came towards me.

It was then that I saw her completely.

Her once beautiful face was badly battered. Her lower lip swollen and her right eye tainted by a nasty bruise. Her forehead a zoo of gashes and scabs. The rest of what was visible of her was either bleeding or covered in wounds some healing - some fresh as new. Her sari was tainted by spots of blood everywhere.

I stood up with a gasp.

I don't know how. I don't know when.

But my eyes started watering.

And I didn't realise that I was crying until I tasted my own salty tears as they made their way to my lips.

I saw her and it all flashed before my eyes. The many times I have been scared to venture out all alone at night. The many times I have been compelled to doubt the intentions of the stranger beside me as I travel in broad daylight, the many times my eyes rest on a piece of black and white lettering forming a news article in the paper about some incident of abuse, the many times I hear about the guilty being acquitted, the laws that continue to fail us, the promises made after the end of every five years and how little they are implemented.

And then I remembered the helpless parents. Their faces. The empty holes that their lives remain in the aftermath. Their hopes.

My legs turned to jelly as I pooled on the floor crying. My weak body bent towards her as me head rested on her lap.

And I cried.
Like I had incurred the biggest of losses.

I wailed.
Like I had nowhere to go to.

I howled.
Like it suddenly dawned on me that this was not what India had dreamt of when she became 'free.'

My eyes fluttered open and I realised I had been dreaming. I woke up and searched for her where she had sat but she was nowhere to be found. The only tangible proof was the cushion on the couch that was now soaked in tears.

I looked up at the TV which was still running. It was 12:12 am and the news channels were telecasting the Independence Day specials. Words from Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's midnight speech were being aired.

"At the stroke of midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom..."
"...We have to build the noble mansion of free India where all her children may dwell."

A fresh bout of tears erupted as I sat on the couch my head hanging low.

Friday, 8 August 2014 8 comments

Love Will Turn Back The Hands of Time...

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.  

5 year old kids. 

Hands filled with dirt. Nails caked with soil. Clothes with patches of mud. 
Scraped knees. 
The pockets of his shorts weighed down by marbles. 
A tiny edge of her lemon yellow frock balled up in her fists to hide that portion of it that was tattered while climbing the rocks by the sea. 
Mouths - a constant chatter. Eyes - a mirror, a virtuous doorway to two innocent souls. Words spoken - building castles in the air, puerile, careless, painting a comic book world of red and blue. 
Their naive tones dripping with the kind of carefreeness that those not belonging to their magical realm of age crave. 
Not wanting to go further. 
Not wanting to grow up. 
Wedged in this nook of imagined timelessness. 
The purest kind of love in this uncorrupted impasse. 

5 year olds no more. 
Limbs all perfectly fine. 
Clothes tailored to follow the immaculate code of banality. No speck of dirt visible. 
But there's darkness in the heart. 
No scraped knees. But bruised egos. 
Lips zipped up shut tight. Lest they say what they really feel like saying. 
Their eyes a pair of glassy lances - regarding each other with cluelessness interspersed with contempt. 
The innocence disappeared like a myth. 
All that leaves the lips are stone cold terse sentences. 
No child like narrative alive with mirth. 
Fallen into that inevitable abyss where all adults reluctantly retire. 
All grown up and yet thirsting for those carefree bokeh draped Sundays. 
Sanctity no more. 

She broods over the same thing he does. 
How did we get here? 
What if we could go back? Get a second chance? Rewrite what has already been written? Undo all that wasn't meant to be said? Erase the gunk of all the years? A do over?

Can we go back to how we were?

Wishful thinking. 
Sunday, 3 August 2014 2 comments

And It Rained That Night

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

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It was gloomy outside. Grey clouds stagnant overhead though it was surprisingly and reasonably windy.

It had been a month since it had rained. It seemed that the ashen clouds were playing a merciless game of tease with the gullible and cautiously hopeful people everywhere.

Inside one of the edifices on the edge of a sleepy town on this dreary day were holed up two people. Two unfortunate people.

"What about this? Is this important?" she asked looking at the worn out title of a dusty old book as she held it out.

"It could be," he said from the far corner of the room.

Their eyes met as he walked towards her.

He took the book from her hands deliberately grazing the pad of his thumb against the exposed part of her palm that held it.

She looked up at him for a millisecond before resuming scouring through the pile of books in front of her.

She shifted and straightened her back as she felt him sit beside her.

There he sat in that cramped up space amidst the old books close to her.

Too close, she thought.

"Have you looked through all the volumes there?" she asked hoping to get him back in the other corner of the room.

"Yes," he said breathing an adamant sigh as he revelled at being perched beside her.

She tried to ignore the undercurrent vibes his curt replies carried as she busied herself with other books. She turned herself so she now sat with her back against him. It was better because she didn't have to look into his eyes now.

If she gazed into them too long then she would be in trouble.

Lot of trouble.

A few minutes later she remembered something crucial to their search as she flipped the pages of a book in her lap. Her eyes still focused on that page, her other hand reached out beside her, fumbling for a book she had just perused.

In one of those unbelievable stroke of coincidences her hand fell on his as they reached out for the same book.

At the same time.

Their fingers intertwined for a few meagre seconds before she jerked her hand back.

"Why do you do that?" he asked  dropping his voice to almost a whisper.

"What?" she feigned ignorance.

"Whenever I look at you, you look away, whenever our hands brush you... It's as if you don't... When you know that there is something... Between us," his words flowed in a rush as if a carefully built dam broke.

Still her back to him she hung her head low thinking of something to say.

He had given up hope of getting a response from her when she spoke slowly.

"Why do you keep on doing it then? Pushing me. Deliberately?"

"Because I know that you know. And I know that you like it," he said as he ran his fingers through her long hair, touching the tips of the strands that curled at the base, ever so slowly.

"You intrigue me," he breathed.

"And that scares me," she uttered as her heart fluttered at his touch.

"Why?" his hand stopped.

"Because people are only interested in intriguing things as long as it intrigues them. Have you ever seen somebody hold onto a puzzle after they have solved it?" she quizzed him.

"What if someone never thought of them as a puzzle in the first place? What if it was always more than that?" he answered.

She was silent.

"There is something. Amidst us. Around us. It envelopes us. I know it. I see it," he said.

"I know. I feel it too. It is so strong and potent. Like a scent that refuses to wear off," she said.
"But we do nothing," she continued.

At this he fell silent.

"The thing is - we both are quite the same. You are just as twisted as I am. I am just as broken as you are," she propounded.

"How does that help?" he asked, now touching her arm coaxing her to turn around.

She did.

"It is an endless cycle of pain. We try to fool ourselves into thinking that we can be happy. But we won't. Pretty soon we would be just like any other two people out there. Keeping secrets. Hiding. The lies. Worse. It would be like holding our breaths to see which one of us falls first. Which one of us hurts the other first," her voice trailed as she got lost in his eyes.

He raised his hand to touch her cheek.

"I've seen it too. You're not the only one who has you know. I am a sceptic just like you waiting to be proved wrong. We all are," he said as his thumb caresses her lips.

"You would hurt me. We would hurt each other," she whispered.

"It is inevitable," he said.

She saw the shadows underneath his eyes and the years of gloom that they hid.

She wished she could kiss them away.

"I would be in a lot of trouble if I act on my impulses," she said, her voice barely a whisper now as she felt the lascivious warmth that penetrated her where his fingers came in contact with her skin.

"We both would be in a lot of trouble," he said as his eyes burned an unknown color. She would never forget their intensity for as long as she was alive.

And just like that the place where his fingers were became vacant. Leaving a void. A cold draft touched her face bringing her back to reality. The warmth was no more.

His fingers ached at the loss of contact. He ached to feel her skin again. He dove into the pile of books once more.

That evening, the heavens above saw two people coming back from a sleepy old town. Quite on the outside. Tattered from within. Not speaking a word to each other they resumed their respective paths.

And it rained that night.