Tuesday, August 14, 2007

God giveth, God taketh away

The Good Lord giveth, the Good Lord taketh away. He gave me hope, deceit, chance, agony. He gave me lunacy, gave me illusions, of the cruellest nature. He held the passion fruit right in front of my nose and made me run miles to grab it, only to make it disappear after I ended up to the point of no return. He gave me visions – vicious and vile. He spun webs of despair. He made me grab poison disguised in the form of wine. And then he took it away. Right from my lips, he did. He took away with him the last remnants of joy. He gave malice – in copious proportions, and in return, he took my faith away from me.
He had promised the land of happiness – pure and true. But promises disappeared like raindrops down the gutter. He gave me smoke, he took away the fire within. He gave me courage; he took away morality. He gave me money, and he took it away before I could even measure how much it was worth.
The Good Lord giveth, the Good Lord taketh away. He gave the destination, took the map away. He gave the words, took the voice away. He gave beauty and He gave blindness.
He gave patience, took persistence away……
I see a light. It’s the high beam of a car – most probably an ambulance. I hear the screeching sirens – it is an ambulance. My thoughts of the Good Lord disappear into thin air – He has just given me the greatest thing on Earth – life. I hear the paramedics talking amongst themselves, their voices faint – “lucky Devil, he is – bullet grazed through and made no damage save the skin. Couple of inches inwards and he was a goner.” I try to sit up. I cant; I am strapped tight on a stretcher, ready to be carried away. some is trying to fit a mask around my mouth and I catch his eyes. “Oi! The fella’s back in his senses, mate”, he shouts to another. I try to recollect the immediate past. A silence, a shot, a dream. A phone call – where is my mobile? I try to look around – currently my whole body is immobile. I try to talk. Not a chance – the mask is pumping in volumes of oxygen down my throat and nose. The head feels lighter now – the mind starts to think better. I remember the last few seconds before losing consciousness – I was on the phone, at the other end of a stony silence. Who had called? The number hadn’t shown up, I remember. I was kind of sure she had called. Did she call back again? I must search my mobile for missed calls. But I cant find my mobile. I realise I am wrapped in a blanket, and my hands are numb and cant feel beyond the warmth of the blanket. The stretcher is still lying. I try to break away from what presently seems like shackles. Either the shackles are too tight or I am terribly weak. I think it’s the latter. I soon realise I am being carried towards the ambulance. I soon get loaded, the ambulance screams on as the driver puts a brick on top of the accelerator.
The traffic all around is slowing down for the VIP to pass by. We are jumping signals and taking wrong lanes and honking and hooting and screeching and speeding. Suddenly a familiar noise – my mobile is ringing again. My neck is too stiff to even turn and figure out where it is. I am just hoping one of the attendants pick it up. But both look reluctant. I know this call is important. I cant even tell them that. Life is being a bitch with me lately. The phone stops ringing. Pause. Starts ringing again. This time it has caught the attention of one of the buggers. He picks up the phone – the way he is talking now I know its just a one sided communication. Wait. He responded to an unknown question. Did he catch her voice then? What is she asking? What did he say? His voice is calm – bullet in the head – injured but alive – being transported to the hospital – the hospital is in – dead – I knew this would happen. Bloody me and my lethargy – at least thanks to the mobile it went live three days without needing to be charged. But why do all things, living or otherwise, need to die at the wrong time? Just another word and things would have been so good. But the mobile wanted to die its death at the time decided by nature. God giveth connection, God taketh the battery away.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

at the other end

it was not a blank call. there was silence at the other end, but it was not dead. she wanted to hear his voice, she heard his voice, and then she heard the shot. her instint made her shout "hello!!" but she was responded by a ghostly silence. and then a few faint faraway words. she fought against the urge to lose her senses. she wanted to hear his voice - again. she kept calling his name at the other end, screamed, cried, pleaded and cursed. silence at the other end of the world. she didnt know another soul in his city, and she didnt another soul in his family. he was all she had, and it was only him that she knew. she thought of calling the police, but how would that help? the police wouldnt be able to trace a gunshot heard some 6000 miles away in an unknown backalley of some unknown town. what would she do? whose door would she knock next? she didnt know what to do, what she didnt want to do was to hang up. she wanted assurance from the other end of the phone - an elusive assurance that just didnt seem to come along her way.

she thought of calling her friend and tell her - she had by now, over the past six months, assumed he had a parallel affair with her and hoped against all hopes that her friend would know a bit more about him or his friends and family than her. the only phone she had was now speaking silence from the other end. she desperately wanted to hang up and call her friend. but a thought passed by. a distinctive woman's instict. she hung up.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Dead

I walk down the alley. The rose in my inside jacket pocket has withered already; the thorns are pricking right next to my heart. The wait had been long and silent. The cold night added to the chill running down my spine. She had not come. She would have never come. I was certain of that, yet I had braved the cold weather and stood 4 hours at the bus stand as promised.
I walk down the alley. The odd owl hoots and scares the hell out of me. It’s a downtown alley – sounds of shrieks and slaps from behind the neighbouring walls are not uncommon. I suddenly stumble. Not much damage done – it’s just a drunk man lying across the footpath. The man moans and throws a kick in the air. I ignore and walk along. There is a shrill noise. Its my phone. I pick it up – there is no voice at the other end. Its not a blank call, the line is still alive. I stop walking and keep responding to the silence at the other end. The silence is suddenly broken – I hear a gun shot. I slump to the ground. The bullet has hit me in the head. My senses fade as I hear the accentuated rant – “Fuck man! You missed again – twice this week. Now we have to dig that bugger out of the shit hole all over again. How could you fuckin’ miss this simple shot man….”

Sunday, July 29, 2007

An August night

It wasn’t the best of August evenings when he stepped out. Late, lingering monsoon rains, the kind that always dampened his spirits, lashed out and Arjun shuddered at the thought of the task ahead. "Why me," he thought.... "Was this what I was made for? And that too, her? Does she deserve this?" And at that he recalled a verse she had read to him, one summer, "Since this was written, and needs must be". How far away it all seemed now. "Browning" he muttered, unbidden. "Browning", he muttered, "yet again.....". "A face to lose youth for, to occupy age with the dream of, meet death with." With death, he was going to meet tonight, but not his. A million thoughts crossed his mind, a million emotions stirred in the depths of his soul. It seemed like a dream and he'd wake any moment only to find her lying snugly by his side. But it wasn't. "It isn’t meant to be Arjun", she had shut the door on his face more than a year back; the day that changed his life forever. He had lost more than love that night. He had lost his mind, his faith, his happiness, and he had lost his patience....Paradoxically, as he walked the paved paths that led to her home, he felt a calm stealing over him. His mind cleared and he felt strangely patient. Tonight would last forever. Tonight, he thought, would be what he had so patiently for. Tonight. All his wait, his perseverance, his hope and his determination. The august rain would wash the sins, he thought - her sins. And his. Born in a puritan Brahmin household he could remember his mother tell him that it was a grave sin to kill a woman… Brahma Hatya….His fingers closed upon the pistol in his pocket. It felt cold. As cold as the emptiness in his heart. To him nothing else mattered tonight. He would have his revenge. The door was a foot away. The practiced feet made no sound as the practiced hand gripped the door knob and stealthily opened the only barrier between him and his destiny. Habit dictated that he take the stairs to the bedroom upstairs. He smiled. Not tonight. He knew where he would find her. A wry smile swept through his face as he tiptoed towards the living room.....the piano......he knew from the silence of its chords that someone was playing the grand instrument. The icy silence. The gloom. The wet august air. The stage could not have been better set. Yes, they were both there. As he had left them, after dinner earlier that night. The draught he had added to their coffee had worked well. He caught her eyes.....drowsy and tearful. Tears rolled like precious pearls from her lovely dark eyes. He moved his hands. She moved her lips. "Arjun, I knew you would come tonight," she said, "but the gun is a welcome surprise...." “It’s yours, my love”, he said. A single click. Arjun hardly blinked as blood squirted from her husband’s temples. Sleep was stealing over her. He quietly placed the gun in her fingers, kissed the lips he had now come to love and left quickly without turning back.

Monday, May 28, 2007

a busy day

a busy day does not permit the wandering mind to rest and think. consumed by countless conferences and cups of coffee, the mind turns into no more than just a brain. a brain that does the science of thinking, not the art of it. a brain that doesnt find beauty in numbers and counts because it has to. the brain becomes its own slave, and the tyranny of the trained brain ties the meek mind in shackles of mediocrity. the weapon loses its sharpness, the metal decays in crude negligence, and the brain starts becoming more mind-less. it is in one of these sad moments when the mind becomes a rebel. a rebel - a mind who says no. a mind plagiarised by the inefficient yet triumphant brain that currently controls the keyboard being used to type this very essay. a paradox? a rebellion? or just another passing moment to be washed away with another steaming cup of coffee? another elusive answer being seeked, another reason to believe in miracles, this was just another moment that passed me by.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Mortality

The thermometer read 104 degrees Fahrenheit. A touch of concern, for a twenty year old. But to his mother it was a state of panic. She had always protected her son from every turmoil, every problem. She had shielded him from the world outside, and his slightest sneeze would be enough to have her running around for medicines and doctors. Mrityunjay had never for once lived without his mother. He had never gone to hostel, and in fact he had never set foot outside Calcutta in all his twenty years. He was born and brought up in his quaint north Calcutta house, studied in the school just 10 feet away, and ran to college at the other end of the lake behind his house. A 4-square kilometre of under-privileged urban Calcutta was what he knew as the big bad world. Mrityunjay was a man with a rare talent - he could read minds. He could look into the eyes of any man and tell what the man had in his mind. He didn’t really practice it on men, though - the effect seemed to be better if the subject was a woman, and even better still if she was young and pretty. Of course, he did pick up the odd bet with his friends and confront an arbitrary man on a dull Sunday afternoon by the lake, and bewilder him by announcing the man was contemplating suicide as he recently lost his job and had a family of 7 to support. Well, this incident actually happened to be the last time he tried the trick, and this revelation had led him into almost 7 years of depression. On coming out of it, he merely kept his talent as a hobby to attract and woo pretty ladies. He had once fallen in love with the prettiest girl in all college - after he had looked in her eyes and revealed the girl was thinking of slapping him! The girl obviously got very embarrassed, but nevertheless she reserved a small awe for his amazing talent. To the class he was known as ‘Mental’, as many thought his was clearly a case of mental instability rather than a gift. His mother, ironically, knew nothing about it. She would have known, had he told her he had seen the extra-marital affair in his father’s eyes - and his intentions of dumping them and going off to Delhi with another woman. Maybe his father did leave them after all because he was too afraid to tell this to anybody. He had thought about this all his life; two incidents, both truth, but one when told caused agony while the other, when not told, caused the same. He was in a dilemma as to which path to take. His seven years of depression was a battleground of thoughts for him, the fight between what to and what not to, the realisation of whether what he possessed was a gift or a curse. He had, for a while, decided to say only pleasant things that he saw, while keep the bad things to himself. But that did not hold out to be a good argument - his father’s motive was unpleasant, but had to be told, and he hadn’t. He remembered what Death had said to Nachiketa - “The good is one thing, the pleasant another; these two, having different objects, chain a man. It is well with him who clings to the good; he who chooses the pleasant, misses the end”Soaking with sweat, his body burning and head splitting, he was pondering the over the same thought. Was it good, or the pleasant? Did mother need to know? He had fumbled with his decision on many occasions, and he was fumbling rather bad on this one. Mother was trying to put damp swabs on his forehead to reduce the temperature. “Mother,” he started mumbling, “I saw it in the doctor’s eyes today”...

Futile

She was my life, and she also happened to be a famous danseuse. We had known each other for a decade now. There were days when time wouldn’t move without us seeing each other, talking our hearts out and feeling each other in our arms. But unknown to both, time did move on, and so did we. The mediocrity of our lives had forced us both to leave home in search of the daily bread. Soon we were living in two distant parts of the country, the only ray of hope shining through the optical fibers of telephone lines. The occasional letters, albeit long and detailed, soon started disappearing as the monotony of the monstrous metropolis manifested the meanings of our lives. I started to dive deep down the dark dungeons of despair to drown the deepest desires of being with her.Soon as it was, I returned to my city as an engineer busy building bridges and boulevards. I also came to know she, by now, had her claim to fame by becoming a notable dancer of an eastern dance form. She was now busy touring the world, performing to please the spellbound spectators and critics alike. Her life now was framed in calendar. She had grown big, and busy. Too busy for me too, maybe? She had promised to meet me in our city two years back; I had come all the way to just catch her glimpse, but her silver sedan had sped past me, not even braking for a glance. Since then I haven’t seen or heard from her. Since then I have moved a step closer to lunacy every passing day. I have spent many a sleepless night and disdainful day yearning for her, wanting her, just the look of her at least. But she has remained as elusive as her correspondence address and telephone number.But today it was not to be. Today I knew for sure she would be back in the city. I knew the city she was coming from, the flight she was to take, the hour of her arrival and the route she would take to her next destination. Here I was, half past eleven at night, atop the foot over bridge, looking down at the road she was to take any minute now. My eyes frantically checked for signs of her sedan, the beam of whose headlight was to shine on me any moment now. It was an unusually empty road, and hardly a couple of cars had crossed this path in the last infinite hours of what seemed to be my wait. Was there a light in the distance? Was it that of a car? A sedan? Maybe even a silver one? It sure was! It was her! Speeding down the road. I had no time to climb down the bridge to intercept. The windows were closed and I couldn’t even shout out. What was I to do? Will He give me such a chance again? I jumped.The driver slowed down briefly and looked around to check for eye witnesses. There was blood on his windshield. The wiper could take care of that, though, with some water. The body had bounced off his bonnet and landed in a bush nearby, away from public sight. Chances of survival were out of question. What was he to do, after all? A hard day’s work, followed by a binge drinking session at a friend’s place and then a tiresome drunk drive back home. Even if he did report, who would believe a drunk driver claiming a man had literally fallen from the sky on top of his car? He had already decided to let this be a nightmare for the rest of his life and sped off. Nightmares in one’s own bed were better than those in a prison cell any given day!At the same time there was an announcement in the airport. All flights landing in the city that night had to be cancelled because of bad weather and foggy conditions. All arriving flights for that night have been delayed and are expected at least 24 hours late.