Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Beginning.

I looked down at my shoes, silently listening to the gravel crunch beneath my feet, as I walked towards school. Ah, the gravel! The only constant over the years- The years that moved from gleefulness to misery. Maybe today will be different, I thought. Maybe people will be able to see me today. Maybe I can answer a few questions in class and impress Cathy. Maybe she’ll say hi, and give me a smile that’ll make my heart melt. I crushed my hair with my fingers, scrunched my face with shut eyes and cursed myself till I stopped hoping. And then, I felt something missing. The noise was missing. I opened my eyes. The crunching was gone. And now, there was a five-storied, white building in front of me and within me, well, there was dread.

By mid-day, I gave in. The day hadn’t been any different from the others, so far. I answered a question in Mrs. Muller’s class but she just responded with a “Hmm” and Cathy didn’t notice. Maybe it was because I was just plain ugly. Obese and ugly. With permanent acne marks on my face, even Momma seemed to ignore me these days. Maybe the stretch marks on my fat, squishy arms were visible. Maybe that’s what made me invisible. It was high school, after all, and I was just some unpopular dork sitting in a corner- who nobody noticed, who nobody cared about.

A couple of years ago, I had Yelena and Shaz with me. My best-friends. Then. We hung out every day, all the time. Scrabble, Road Rash, Movies, Shopping- yup, we didn’t miss out on a thing. And then, I wasn’t cool enough to hang out with them anymore. Yelena was a rockstar, literally. She sang and played the guitar and pulled off the moody, broody lyricist part quite well too. Everyone loved her. I didn’t, not anymore. Shaz was the hot athlete. He could run, really fast. He was tall and sleek- he had those hardened calves that all the girls drooled over. And of course, when you get more attention than you could ask for, ignoring friends would be the right thing to do, right? Let’s talk about me now. Yeah- me, well, I had nothing.

There were times when I’d try to speak out. Speak out in the virtual world. It was simple. I just had to pick a picture of some random hunk from Google and show myself as him on a popular social networking website and then, well, act like a complete jackass. It’s crazy, the things that girls these days can take for guys who look good. I got complimented many times, for my “looks”. I was pleased.

But I could feel the desperation rising. I couldn’t stand to be this way. I was thinking of a plan- to get noticed. A master plan, with no flaws. A sure shot path to fame. I didn’t deserve this. I was infuriated. I wished for power too. I wished to be the most popular guy in school, and I was ready to give up anything for it. Everyone would know my name someday, I thought. Everyone would love me and respect me, maybe even fear me. I could be the Lord Voldemort in high school. No one would mess with me. No one would disobey my orders. And with these thoughts swirling in my head, Mr.Trunkle’s awfully monotonous lecture was my blessing in disguise. It struck. The plan!

Dear Annie,

I don’t think you remember me. We were in the same class in the third grade. I know you really well. Not that I’ve been stalking you or anything, but because I remember a day in the third grade. We were in the playground, the two of us. We were just kicking the ball around randomly, you know, like other stupid eight-year olds. I was bragging about my football skills, but I really didn’t have any. You were impressed. You told me that you thought I could become a footballer someday because your mommy told you that anyone could become anything that they wanted to, if they were really good at it. And when we were done, you came over and gave me a hug. I love you, for that day.


Dear Yelena,

You were my first real friend. You said that you could relate to me. You always laughed at my jokes. You called me your bestie. You told me once, that you and I are always going to stand up for each other, no matter what. I’m still waiting. Well, screw you.


Dear Shaz,

You’re the man around here. You have it all, dude. The looks, the body, the attitude. You forgot me, and no, you’re not forgiven. You told me three weeks ago, when I had called you a year later, that you’d call me back, after talking to me for 32 seconds. I don’t think you ever realized how much courage it took for me to pick the phone and dial your number. You probably forgot that I’d even called. But don’t worry, I will hunt you down and kick your ass, very soon.


Dear Cathy,

You don’t know my name. You haven’t seen my face. And even if you have, you don’t remember seeing it. But, I love you. I know a lot of boys tell you that, but this is true love, and I can feel it. I know that you don’t believe me, but that’s okay.


There. I had it all ready. Letters to my “friends”, before the execution of my big plan.

As I was walking towards school next morning, I felt serene. I relished the noise of the gravel. This was the day that would change everything, I thought. I was determined to show myself, and to show myself to each and everyone. I sat through school like any other day, patiently waiting for it to end. I’d already told mommy that I had enrolled for drama workshop in school, and that I would be late. She’d laughed at my face. But I forgive her. It’s only a matter of time before she too, will start to love me again.

I was happy. This felt like sweet revenge. I wondered why I’d never thought of this perfectly impeccable plan earlier. All through the day, I put my face down, trying to hide the smile on my face. This was sheer joy. I think it was the longest that I’d been happy, in a really long time. When school hours finally got over, and the corridors were empty and silent, I slid the letters through the tiny space between each of their closed locker doors and the lockers themselves.

This is it, I thought. This is the part where Jacob Warwinter becomes the school’s most popular boy. I could now look down and laugh. I was laughing already. I was laughing at all the morons. I was laughing at the life that I had till now. I could smell popularity coming my way. But as I was having a free fall from the terrace of the school building, the last thing that occurred to me was that- This is a mistake.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Promise

She was sitting cross-legged, running her fingers across the sand, watching the waves clash against each other, every incoming wave washing over its smaller counter parts. There was still sometime for the sunset. She was wearing a white-colored sleeveless kurti and a red-colored patiala. Her long, curly black hair was left loose and she could feel the smaller strands play with her big-looped red earrings each time the wind brushed against her face. A neat,thick line of kohl was drawn below her eyes, in perfect contrast with her pale skin and complemented her high cheek bones. She was beautiful, and she knew it. She sighed knowing how much she craved for these moments that were her own, and she treasured them when she got them. They gave her a chance to look back, and to look forward, to evaluate, and to act. She respected and relished her solitude. The song in her ears sang-

I love the time and in between
the calm inside me
in the space where I can breathe

I believe there is a
distance I have wandered
to touch upon the years of
reaching out and reaching in
holding out holding in

I believe
this is heaven to no one else but me
and I'll defend it as long as I can be
left here to linger in silence

She smiled. Bethany Joy really knew what she was talking about, she thought. She cringed a little, knowing that people were watching her, from the corner of their eyes, or just simply gawking, but she chose to ignore it. She hit the pause button and slowly closed her eyes and felt the calm, felt that serenity that lay within her.

She imagined herself a few years from now. As a beautiful, mature, young woman, who had followed her principles, her dreams and her passions all her life and in the end, had received respect for it. She imagined herself as a sought-after, famous human being. She imagined her picture in the newspapers, her face on hoardings. She imagined money. Ah yes, money. The money that she earned in her strife for independence. The money that would eventually work for her, in her wrinkled days. She imagined a loving, caring husband and two precious little children. She imagined walking her kids to school, with a look of satiation. She imagined a big, lovely home with the interiors designed by her, with the sole intention of making it a place of comfort, contention and spiritualism. She imagined glory, for herself. She imagined pride, in her husband’s eyes. She imagined power, to control anything that she wished to.

She found imagining some of the things difficult, because they were a little out of her league, at the moment. But every time she realized that her imagination wasn’t a perfect sketch of what she actually had in mind, she scrunched her eyebrows and tried to change the picture. And it worked. Well, at most times it did. And each time it worked, she memorized the picture and she gave it more clarity- A better sari there, a louder applause there. She imagined it all happening, in the space between her eyes and her mind. That is where I want to be, and that is the person I will see in the mirror someday, she thought. She breathed in. A long, deep breath, registering that face, that woman, that life. And then, she was done.

She smiled gently as she slowly breathed out, and opened her eyes. The sun was dark red, sinking at the horizon. The clouds were a shade of reddish-orange, trying to reflect the sun, and failing miserably. The entire canvas was ethereal. She sighed. She could feel her imagination spreading out. It’s shot out of my head and has now covered everything that I can see, and can’t see- she thought. She waited and watched the sun go down, a little too fast. A part of my mind is out there, in the Universe, and what’s in it will be taken care of, by the Universe- she thought again. She waited until she couldn’t see the sun anymore. And before darkness could take over completely, she rose from the sand, picked her jutti up and walked out of the beach.

She felt an alleviating calm, in her heart. She felt a lingering peace, in her mind. She felt the belief that she had, in herself. She felt the promise that she had just made, to herself.


The book of wisdom says that- Dramatic endings must be used intermittently, for the occurrence of stupefaction and awe in correct proportions.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Strange Love

Disclaimer: All characters appearing in this story are purely fictional. Resemblance to any persons (living or dead) is purely coincidental and an assumption of any resemblance between the protagonist and the author of this story is prohibited.


The street-lights gave the area an eerie yet calm ambience. I checked my watch. 21:03 Hours. Two minutes remaining.

It all started on a fine Sunday morning, with a slight drizzle outside my window and The Feminine Mystique in my hand. The only thing missing was a cuppa hot black coffee. But I was out of my stash, and since it was only drizzling, I decided to sprint to the store and buy some, without an umbrella. Chac, the Rain God, decided to turn nasty -He turned the volume up, the very second I stepped into the store. I was stuck in a goddamned grocery store when I could’ve actually sipped my cuppa coffee and had a good read. I cursed out loud, but proceeded to buy my coffee anyway. And that’s when I saw him. He had the perfect chiseled face and I could feel my heart thump loud enough to hurt my ears when he smiled at me and said- “No cover?”


“Me too. Do you smoke?”

Not really.

“Yeah”, I said.

“Well, do you want to go and get one? I love to smoke when it’s pouring.”


I silently apologized to Chac. He was only trying to set me up. We stood right outside the shop, where part of the roof was our parapet. The water got to us anyway but we were mostly covered, with smoke too. We spoke very little initially, as I didn’t want to sound too desperate to get to know him. He would talk intermittently, inhaling smoke from time to time and pausing to watch the rain and feel the cold droplets against his face as the wind gushed. I was watching him. In fact, I was gawking at him and silently praying that it would pour forever. And it did. Well, it poured for two good hours, at least. And even with all the pauses, we managed to speak enough about life and books and how little we appreciated the beauty around us. I nodded about five times at the latter bit. I let him speak most of the time, probably because I was appreciating every move of his from the corner of my eye. He seemed to like to talk to me, and I know that because he stayed for half an hour even after the rain had died down to tell me about some of his adventures, in life. Yeah, men seem to get really excited about all that. And we obviously exchanged numbers, when we both finally headed our way. He asked me for mine.

But it was I, who called him after a couple of days. I was lonely, and I had been thinking-Of his face, the way he had held his cigarette and the distant look in his eyes as he watched the rain- for two days. I decided to mix the two addictions. I asked him if we could meet up for coffee, or drinks, sometime. I didn’t want to add the drinks part but thought I should let him pick. He picked nothing. He said we could just hang out, and talk. He asked me to meet him at a particular spot he’d discovered, on the street, at 9:30 PM. I didn’t want to get my hopes high about that, but they got high anyway. He was obviously interested. He had invited me to his favourite spot, to bond. I remember wanting to hug Chac after I hung up.

So we met. At his favourite location. Here. The place I’m sitting at, right now. On the sidewalk, below the street-light, eerie yet calm. He brought beer. I hate beer, but obviously didn’t tell him so. And this time, we both spoke to each other like we were old-friends, about death and philosophy, about authors and musicians, about warriors and dictators, about spiritualism and meditation. We’d formed a bond, a really strong one. We met often after that, about twice or thrice a week, sometimes for coffee, sometimes for a movie, sometimes for clubbing, but we’d always end up at the same spot- on the side-walk. It had become our bonding place. We spoke, we laughed, we sniggered at snogging couples who went by. Well, the street was pretty dark. We got closer, as time went by. But we never spoke about love. Never. And I didn’t probe because I figured he was probably like me- he couldn’t open up about love to everybody. Sometimes I tried to find out if there was somebody, but he never said too much, so I assumed there was no one.

Three months had gone by. I’d spent a lot –I’d bought some fabulous looking clothes, so that I could wear them every time I met him. I groomed myself all the time. I washed my hair before every meeting. I smelled great every time. I just didn’t want him to lose interest in me. And I smiled for two whole days and only stopped when my jaw started to hurt badly, when he told me that I had a good dressing sense. He called me his best-friend, but I knew what that really meant.

We’d met a countless number of times, and his birthday was approaching. I was madly in love with him. I knew he was madly in love with me too, but was probably too apprehensive to let me know. So I decided that I was going to take the first step, on his birthday. I imagined him telling me a yes, for the twenty-fifth time, on that day. We decided to meet early, at the same spot, because he was going out with his family for dinner. I reached the place first, about half an hour before time. And when he came, we hugged each other like lovers, and I kissed him on his cheek…just to let him know of what was coming.

But he pushed me away. He was confounded. I wasn’t. He demanded an explanation, in rage. I told him. I shouldn’t have, for I knew the truth now. But I guess somewhere, deep down, I hoped he would ask for time, or for something on similar lines. But he was flabbergasted, and I could see a strange fear in his eyes too. But he stayed and watched me, as two tears had started to form at the corner of my eyes. He took his wallet out, and showed me a picture of his girl-friend, in a bikini. She was hot. I was heart-broken.

I checked my watch. 21:05 Hours. It had been exactly one year since. The last thing he said to me was that he never wanted to see my face, again. He said he was sorry. I knew he meant it. I still love him, unconditionally. I still yearn for him, as I did on that regrettable, wretched day -23rd January, 2009. The day I decided to come out of the closet.


For the uninitiated: You should let out a gasp, right about now.

If you still don't get it- *sigh*

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Zenith

Have you ever watched the people who zoom past you when you are travelling in a bus? Do you ever wonder how different each of their lives are? How different they are in the way they eat, dress and walk?

The stooping old woman with a walking stick, the distressed, wearied street-vendor, the cycle-repairer’s uneducated son? The genius under the street-light, the millionaire’s wife in a Mercedes, the unwashed babies of the derelict? The worthless mongrel, the compulsive thief, the chronic drunkard?

As each human with a different stride, a distinct expression and an incomparable face zips by, you tend to wonder - How different am I from these people? Am I just another human being, living the same life, walking the same walk, fighting the same fight -against life? Am I just a drop in the ocean, a grain of sand on the beach, a bean in a bean bag, a stranger in the background of a picture, a single pollen grain in a field of tulips?

And that is when a familiar realization dawns upon you. Your pondering leads you to a conclusion -That you are unique only because you are you. You are your thoughts, your dreams, your mind, your words, your emotions, your distress, your problems, your experiences, your face. You are the only person, among the thousands, who has a life exactly like your own.

And eventually, it occurs to you that, you are the smile on someone’s face, the rhythm of someone’s heart, the happiness in someone’s tears. You are the blissful drop that quenched a mineworker’s thirst. You are the last grain of sand to form the base of the sand-castle. You are the bean in the bean bag that did not deflate. You are the stranger in the background of a picture held by a loving mother of her son’s graduation day. You are the minute grain of pollen that added to the honey.

And that is when you comprehend the measure of this realization in its entirety. The realization that you are, in fact- The Zenith.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The streets...

I live on the streets
Where the sun blazes down on me

I amble in my ragged pants
Mama says I'm a beautiful child
I just think I'm a tiny black kid
Who likes to eat mud off the ground

Mama she says she's not my real Mama
She says she picked me up
On a day when I was crying for milk
I don't know what that means
But she's got to be my real Mama
'Cause she's all that I got

Sometimes, we find food on the streets
Mama picks it up for me
And feeds me with her tender hands
Hunger bites harder as I devour each morsel

But I watch my tongue
And I measure each bite
And then, I pretend to be satiated
The remaining grub is for Mama
'Cause I can see her stare at it
The way I do when I'm athirst

Each morning, I watch people in their cars
Their fragrance is an enchantment
The clean nails, the washed bodies
I even love to watch them cringe
Each time I walk towards them

Mama says I should ask for money
But honestly, I walk upto them only to breathe
To breathe in their freshness
And pat them on their shoulders, sometimes
'Cause I believe it makes me clean

Sometimes I get cursed for it, though
But I don't really mind that
It seems to wash the dirt away
It seems to make me feel unblemished
It seems to make my day

Mama says I can take a bath
For an entire month in a year
She says water falls from the skies
For unfortunate people like us
At times like these I only feel
That I'm glad to have been born unfortunate

I live on the streets
Where I don't mind the sun blazing down on me

The walk...

I walk with my eyes shut
And the world walks with me
A second longer to keep them closed
A second turning longer and longer

The head does not stop me
A mind that does not want to
The deeper courage is what I lack
To turn the next dark second into light

Part of the world pretends not to know
Part of it does not
The heart within that makes us foolish
The head that turns ignorant

The screaming mind waits for the day
For the light awaits at the end of the tunnel
But the mind does not tell me
That I'm standing still
And its the world that keeps walking