Thursday, July 28, 2011

Guilty [Short Fiction]

I was late again. I expected him to be fuming but I was greeted with a child like smile. The relieved look on his face filled me with guilt of a mother who is late to pick up her kid from the school. I managed to surface a smile quickly occupying the chair opposite him;” You ordered anything?” He shook his head. Guilt. The food didn’t take much time to arrive. As I mentally fabricated various reasons why I couldn’t make it on time he spoke about his day at work, his sister who was spending her last few days in the country, a friend who got promoted, about a walk he took in the morning and about the Gulmohar petals. He suddenly paused. Guilt. I was absorbed in my own world and made no effort even to pretend I was listening. I nodded my head and cheerfully added,”Gulmohar petals.. interesting!”

 A confident young man who once walked up to me and floored me with his charisma, witty remarks and profound insights on every thing I did. A man, because of whom I had found sense in the cliché- feeling complete in love. Because of whom the restlessness had died out and there was peace. I used to giggle like a little girl in response to his quirky sense of humour and walk with pride as he held my hand at public gatherings. It was a relief knowing I wasn’t dating someone stupid. He was respected, was well learned and was in many ways what I believed I liked. I loved. Here he was the same man I had fallen madly in love with-stabbing a piece of baked potato with his fork, fidgeting like a little child restless about not being paid enough attention. What have I done to him?

I suddenly realize there is silence. No conversation. What happened to the Gulmohar petals..? Ask. No. Okay..Ask.. hmmmm ,” So what about the Gulmohar petals?” A catch his desperate attempt to conceal a smile. I smile and widen my eyes to pretend interest. He continued, “It reminded me of the day when I first saw you. You were standing beneath a Gulmohar tree, with a smile that connected us instantly.” Guilty, I cut the piece of meat as his words slit my heart. The delicate bands of our relationship strain. How could I forget? Oh.. he is silent again. Speak something. Anything, “I remember that day!” I bend my lips into a smile. No response. Nothing. He is looking at the food. I feel a sting. Does it matter? I can’t think any longer. I am too tired of pretending to care. I liked him. I loved him but I think I ruined him. What if I walk out saying I am bored? Because there is no other reason. I am just bored.  Soaking the bread in the sauce I look at him. Still- No response.

Suddenly, I catch his jet black eyes staring right at me. Wait. He has a smile on his face. I am missing something. I try to mute my thoughts and reel back every word he said.-the Gulmohar petals. I look at him and smile stupidly I am missing something. Something. What? I smile wider in an attempt to make him speak. But nothing. Arrgh. Stubborn young man. My eyes dart to something red on the table. Oh Gulmohar petals. I reach out and pick them. He holds my hand. I am confused. He is still smiling. Oh God! Speak something. Mute. My thoughts go blank. I can’t think anything. I am still smiling as I don’t know how I am supposed to emote feeling nothing.  Say something. Something. “I love you!” he finally speaks. I feel trapped. I try to react,” I love.. hmmm. Thank you!” I see his smile fade. Guilty.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

High Spirits- Part1 [Short Story]

This a story about the modern Indian young adults and Arranged Marriage melodrama. Here is a part of the piece- 

Gaurav was pissed with every thing associated with his existence- his job, his formal clothes and his mom’s determination to get him a bride. He decided he needed a break from it all. He rushed to Bhaati his best buddy. Bhaati like always had a plan. No matter what the complexity of any situation was Bhaati would invariably end it with one solution – Drinks! This time too he winked at Gaurav- “High Spirits is the new happening pub. Let’s see if the place can fix your mood and I heard that place is flooded by beautiful women.” Gaurav was cynical,”The last thing I want to do today is meet women. I almost feel like I was born to do just that and its sickening”. His reaction didn’t surprise Bhaati. He had helped Gaurav sail over twelve prospective brides. Tension, discomfort, anticipation, hope and dislike- it was regular cycle. He asked with mocking sarcasm, “So who is the lucky thirteenth girl?” Gaurav responded in a monotonous tune without an iota of excitement,” Some Mitaali a techi girl, works with Wipro. Mom as usual thinks she is very beautiful, the miss goody two shoes. I haven’t even seen her and mom is already taking her side. She asked me to get a haircut done for tomorrow can you believe that?? ” Bhaati snatched the keys,” Listen Bro, I want to be alive so let’s not mix your mood with the drive. I’ll drive while you can sit back and sulk”

Some place else..

“God Nitz I need a break. I need a drink today. No matter what I do I cannot seem to avoid this melodrama every month. It’s like I am put up for sale and all the losers ahem ahem sorry.. all the most eligible bachelors will line up see me.  I need to see, meet and talk to random people. Random people who would not want to know if I can cook, if I like pets, wear jeans or skirts or the worst of all- they won’t ask questions on my virginity! Nitz..? Nitz..? You there?”

“Hell ye-a-h! I was waiting for the record to end. You pick the phone expecting a greeting but woah! Anyway.. Drinks eh? I can’t do this every time you know....

(c) Ashish Arora Photography

To read the complete story visit our page - Captured Writings- High Spirits-Part-1
Part2 Scheduled 27th July
Part3 Scheduled 30th July

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A Goodnight Wish...

Let not sleep bind my eyes
Until your memories adorn, the skies
Until your arms tuck, goodnights
Until your dreams bide,long after I arise


Monday, July 18, 2011

Captured Writings!

This is about another project I am involved with. I have teamed up with an excellent photographer friend of mine (Ashish Arora- Ashish Arora Photography). My job is to bring out the story from the pictures captured by him. Hope you all enjoy our little experiment with creativity.

Here is a para from the first story "The Best Art" with the Photograph:

Amidst the sea of expressionless faces and distracting waves of fake expressions were her eyes. Eyes that were soothing because of their genuineness and enigmatic because of the tales they revealed. Her sight set in a downward glance but not looking down but looking back. Looking back at her life or memories or brunt dreams that have slipped from her eyes to the Kohl smudged eye contours. Was it sorrow? It wasn’t. Was it pain? Maybe. Was it a silent display of achievement – any personal victory? A tinge of accomplishment could be traced. But it was more. It was beyond the general classifications of happiness or sadness. It was a whole gamut of emotions delicately held in what seemed like windows to her soul.  Her feminine hands framed her eyes, her thoughts with a grace that only a woman can display.

(c) Ashish Arora Photography

Click here to go to our page and read the full story 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Familiar Love [Poem]

No violins played or flowers sprayed
No signals conveyed or conversations were made
But in a fleeting second- a feeling unexplained
Heart racing beneath the composure restrained

We were two smiling strangers in the drizzling rain
An unknown familiarity, but nothing to complain
Two steps backward a hesitant step forward
A wave of affection, a moment little awkward

A loving embrace, hearts entwined
Friendly greetings exchanged, identities defined
Is this the thing they called love?
What else can describe -we know each other how 


P.S: Nothing ;)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

“Okay easy.. one step at a time" [Short Fiction]

“Okay easy.. one step at a time.. you will be fine” she could almost picture that scene. She was a little girl and she felt her sponge feet land on the ground and she suddenly stretched out her hands in a final attempt to balance and thud she landed on her bum and burst out into a cry. When you are a two year old you just cry for evident reasons. You fell on the floor hit your tiny bottom and that made you cry. That cry was not for the inability to walk. The cry was the fear of experiencing the same pain if you attempt the same activity again. She felt two soft hands rub against her cheeks wiping out the tears. And she heard,” Okay easy.. one step at a time.. you will be fine”

As she walked along the wide spread magnificent beach she felt like a little girl again. This sudden memory of the early childhood seemed to fit into her current life -real well not as a little girl but as a young adult. ”Okay easy step at a time.. you will be fine”. A smile spread across her lips as that line played on her mind.

A beach walk was a remedy to fix gloomy days her gloomy days. An attempt to to throw away her worrisome thoughts into the water and watch them sink. Was she trying everything too early? Too hard or too fast?? Nothing grave happened. But there were so many plans and no priority chart. It was a war between fulfilling fancy wishes and becoming a sensible grownup. It was like army of things to do, things to buy, things to save. One step forward meant moving an army ahead. And every cancelled, postponed plan felt like one army man dead or injured. Injury similar to that thud when she was learning to walk. Should she cry? Instead she laughed. Looked at the waves… rushing towards the shore. Crest by crest. Step by step. She walked and it played again on her mind, ” Okay easy.. one step at a time.. you will be fine”

P.S: If they story appears little vague- it was a deliberate effort. :P

Friday, July 15, 2011

Dream of growth

Have you ever felt an incredible urge to grow? It is funny but something like how "The Hulk" transforms into a big invincible creature. Do you have these enormous growth pangs? After one small feat which many would call an achievement do you see yourself at the end of a cliff from where you need to take a big leap to become the something better? Does that hunger and restlessness make you toss in your bed? Does it strain your neurons to a limit that they are tuned to think nothing else. Do you feel that inability to sit because you are empowered by an enormous will and desire? Do your feel like screaming your lungs out? Do you feel like a runner waiting for the gun shot- waiting patiently for the right moment to unleash your thoughts into motion? Move with all the speed  you have got?

Do you feel your two hands firmly resting on a big rock- pushing it with all your strength? The objective - is not moving the rock. It is to feel a higher energy level. A higher form of you. Do you have a dream? A dream that is not the destination. A dream is that is the journey. A dream that is the burn. A dream that is the need. A dream that is the realization to grow. A dream that is the growth. And contentment is the death.

P.S: The post is multicoloured. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Smile [Short Fiction]

Anger- is always considered as a negative emotion. It probably is. But I find it incredibly powerful unlike the common belief that the one that gets angry loses the battle. There is immense strength in knowing in a second you couldn’t care enough to rip a person apart either in words or otherwise and you are holding back yourself because of a thin line of thought which tells you not to. There is immense strength when that line is stretched, tested time and again and you are pushed against it almost making way through it but bouncing back to safety region way below its limit of elasticity. There is immense power in that tolerance in that control you have while maintaining a clam exterior while you are molten and burning inside. There is remarkable amount of pleasure to smile at a person you almost have the urge to engage in a once for all battle with. Smile and built that tension. That has an effect of sharpening one’s knife before a ghastly battle.  Just that empowering feeling in knowing the damage you can but will never cause.

I held it all close. Not letting a drop of emotion spill. For fourteen years. I just smiled. Smiled at that one person-irrespective of what he did, irrespective of the unjustified emotional wounds that have left my soul in tatters. There was just one day when he felt his words and actions wouldn’t suffice- he decided to leave an imprint of his hand on my cheek- unjustified again. I gripped his hand right in the middle of the air. I looked at him and I smiled. It gave a satisfaction that people who fight back don’t know. He got the message. I wouldn't let him win. He kept poking words, abuses beautifully wrapped in sarcastic comments and public embarrassments over years in front of people from all walks of life and people of all kinds. But I just smiled.

Today he is reduced to manic trying all sorts of tactics to undo what cannot be undone. He has failed his innumerable attempts to prove it was all in my mind.  He has failed at fooling himself and me that life was always normal. And he failed to understand that the darkest walls I built around myself will never break. He has failed. And Me? I smile. My smile has undergone a million alterations has undergone various shades of expressions- suppressed anger, happiness of being invincible and lot more that cannot be explained but can only be felt. Today my smile emerges from the confusion and desire I have managed to create in his head and that new definition of being powerless that is visible in his eyes. From that words that leave his lips as abuses but fall on my ears like a purrs of a lost injured cat. It emerges from being able to look right into his eyes and see him breaking. It emerges from the indomitable strength I have found in resistance. It emerges from still being able to be myself around other people.

I have been complimented enough about my smile from people who do not have a clue about the deep dark emotional labyrinths I walked through. People figure it out in their own ways and assign attributes to my personality. They tell me my smile is charming. And what can I say? I just smile. And this smile breaks into a chuckle and now a laugh!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Two Houses [Short Fiction]

I sweep the roads on the 19th Cross- Everyday. I have been doing this for 18 years now. In the initial years of my work the roads fascinated me. Call me crazy but I developed a sense of belonging to wide tar sheets running on the earth. Every morning I walked to my roads to see which flower, which tree has knocked on its doors and left its traces while I was asleep someplace else. The road had a story to tell. Everyday I would fix the puzzle as I swept the remains, throwaways and imagine what could have happened the previous day. I felt like an investigator scrutinizing a crime scene to retrace the paths of people who have been on these roads. The only difference was- people always left their belongings unlike the actual trespassers who take things away.

While this fascination for roads- is exciting. I couldn’t help but discover how non-existent my  presence was to the people who lived here- the 19th cross. They were unaware how much I could tell about there lives just by looking at their balconies. By -catching the glimpse of their lives once in a while. It is strange -the power of human comprehension. I will tell you the story of two houses- two balconies in particular.

It was 5am and I saw the balcony light go on in one of the houses that stood next to each other on the one, two three.. yeah the fourth floor. Every house was identical in that building. I saw a young lady walkout. The balcony was beautifully decorated, brought to life by small crotons, few flowers and creepers that gave the icy grills of the balcony- welcoming warmth. The lady ran her hands on the plants. She looked at the early morning. She had a beautiful smile. I fell in love with her happiness. It is amazing how people can have that effect on you. Her smile made me smile. She went back in for her regular coffee (I suppose). Over few days of observation I figured out in five mins the husband would be there repeating the same actions with a coffee mug in his hand. I loved his happiness too.  

Everyday at 5.30am I walk by that street to collect the heaps of dried leaves I leave while sweeping. And that day and all the other days that followed I saw the light on the other balcony go on. A woman with a grumpy little face stormed into the balcony. The balcony was lined with buckets of all sizes and the grill supported the mopping cloths torn from old clothes. She picked up a broom from the balcony floor, threw the mopping cloth into one of the buckets and slammed the door behind her back. I could tell there was a husband though I never saw him- as the torn cloth pieces seemed to be a part of worn out shirts.

Standing here on the ground -levels below their lives I don’t know the intricate details of what happens to them everyday. But all I understand is- two families probably in same financial status. Living in the same houses, same locality, similar jobs probably– how different they were.One balcony full of happiness and life the other too caught in the mundane activities not a moment to smile. Could it be perspectives? I believe it is. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Unusual - Part3 [Short Fiction]

          The Unusual- Part-2

Part 3- Start

“What are we doing with our lives? We are striving hard to reach a state of balance- A mental state of no disturbance. A consistency- say constant happiness. Correct?” He nodded in response, ” A balance. A state of constant happiness. Unbelievable what we are striving for but yeah true.” She proceeded,” So, we are busy ironing the little folds in our lives. Trying hard to do things correct. Feel good. Feel Nice. Feel Happy ?”. He replied,” Well, yeah it is a healthy sign. Anyone who isn’t doing that is in serious danger.” She smiled,” Interesting. So you being the well learned fairly mature man you are- balanced if I may add. Do you feel that constant state of happiness? I know every tiny bit of you and neither you nor me or us have grave problems plaguing our lives. Are we too balanced? Too achieved or accomplished to be hit by any emotion?” She had managed to strike a chord. He thought for a while. She thought too.

After few minutes of no conversation, he said,” No!” Shaking his head “Not at all! I feel low for unknown reasons. At times I feel I have lost the meaning of what happiness is.  I am doing well. Doing good. I am in love. I love my job. Each day I get up and do what I feel like. But at times that constant happiness that constant high is confusing.” She clapped her hands with excitement,” Ahha! Yes!! The ‘constant’- lets take that word and replace it with ‘balance’ – That balance is confusing! It is that need and effort to achieve balance that is ironically creating these incomprehensible mood  feeling  thoughts  emotions? I wonder which category would that fall into- high -low- little ups little downs.”

She tapped her finger on the paper and traced it along the lines that resembled a heartbeat. “This- is a heartbeat. It is life. It is our life. Yours. Mine. And everybody’s life. We all are alive for this pulsating, vibrating rhythmic and constant up and down. Highs and lows in our hearts the core of our human existence. “ She pulled out a pen and drew a flat line cutting across the heartbeat. She tapped her pen at that start of the line as she spoke “ This line is what we are trying to achieve. A balance-A constant.  What happens when the heartbeat is flat? What does it mean? It means death. It means no life. Balance kills us in different ways we are not capable of understanding. We need to vibrate to resonate with the life. We need to move high move low. When do we feel something? When there is a deviation from what is already there. So we need to go off balance to feel good – one cannot constantly feel good. One has to have high and low . Little ups little downs. And then the heart –beats and pumps life into our mechanical bodies. We resonate, we pulsate, we vibrate we are living. We are happy yet little sad. But we are happy.”

She looked at him to understand if she was going too fast. She was happy to notice him smile. He said,” So to sum it up my darling unusual girl. You say- It is okay if I am sad. It is okay if I am thrown off the balance. I don’t need to struggle. For I feel sad just because I am alive. It is a part of living. And I am sad because I cannot constantly feel happy. I will hit a low because of that constant happiness and there will be another transition. The transition will cause the happiness again. And these transitions will happen every time. That is what I was born with. That is what gave me life.”

She nodded with the smile of a child.  Her struggle. Her thoughts. Her highs her lows for the past two days mapped on a piece of paper resembled the heartbeat. Her heartbeat. Her life. She picked up the pen and signed

“– With love
Your Unusual.
P.S. Coded love note   “

She slipped it in the pocket over his heart and winked as she said, “Keep this with you.”

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