Magnetic Skin

Listen folks over here let me tell you somethin’,
I will tell you today of the magnetic skin.
The heart craves for those days of the past,
Which we have only heard of, saw nothin’.
Heard that she with the pot on her head,
Went miles to the river where her clothes she shed,
And whilst bathing in the sunshine she used to sing,
And from far places water she used to bring,
Perspiring on her way, she being of weak built,
And heavy being the pot, in front she would tilt.
We search today for those earrings around,
And we search today for lips tight bound,
Kohl on the eyes, and braids on her hair,
And the beautiful gait of girls slim and fair,
Those days have passed, it won’t come again,
When she used to dance in the beautiful rain.
And the three small spots at the end of the chin,
When we used to wait to see the magnetic skin.
The anklets, the bangles, the silences all gone,
The swings of rain, the letters all torn,
Nights awake, pillows wet,
No more these things anyone will get,
Eyes’ talks, lips’ words, promises to die,
All these seem now cold and wry.
Still there is a wish, deep in my heart,
That we’ll again see them, when death do us apart.

How the Essay Spoke

Mr. Susanne then handed over the sheet to me. Stapled were two sheets of paper, A4 size, single ruled, with notes written in blue ink, cursive, beautiful. It seemed that whoever had written the essay had planned well before writing. Neatly written, without many scratches, the write-up would surely get a ten on ten if assessed on handwriting. I started reading it, knowing not why I was doing so, but knew that Mr. Susanne had asked me to, and so I ought to. Mr. Susanne was a teacher in the primary section of Edinburgh School, the most famous school in our town. He was an English teacher, however, frequently he also solved a bit of mathematics for his son, had he any doubt in them. Tall and lean, one could have hardly guessed he was in his late-fifties if not informed earlier. I then took out my spectacles from the pocket on the right hand side of my shirt. I was wearing a formal shirt today; it had been gifted by one of my old friends last month on my anniversary, and I hadn’t got a chance to wear it all these days. So when I opened my wardrobe today, I first glanced as usual through the whole wardrobe and, coming across this, I decided to wear it, and was consequently complimented by Susanne for doing so.

I was in the personal cabin of Susanne now. Although most teachers were allotted chairs in the staff room, Susanne had been allotted a separate cabin. There could be possibly two reasons for this. The more probable one would be his long stay at the school, for I remember he used to teach in the school even in the times when I studied there. Back to the essay, Susanne had said to keep in mind that it was a fictitious one, it started off,

“An Accident”

“Accidents are things that happen by mistake, of course, and that is why they are accidents, not deliberate attempts to harm people. They may occur with anyone, anywhere, anytime and the person involved may be slightly injured or seriously, and if fatal, it can also lead to death. However, the people involved in the accident are to be blamed too, for it may cause the life of a person too. Being an eye-witness to an accident is bad enough, however, being a part of an accident is worse than that. I narrate to you an account of what happened to me last year.

It was the season of festivals. The various festivals along with their pompous celebrations had instilled into everyone an urge of fun-making. In such a situation, people cannot stop but commit mistakes. In some other cases, people get overdrunk and run into accidents. Such a case happened that day, and I do not know whether fortunately or unfortunately, but I was involved in it. Not that I was drunk, not that I was driving fast, but only that I was crossing a busy street. Even then, I was very cautious, because, being here in this city for so long, I have learnt that people hardly care about the traffic rules, and that they could well run into anyone if the signals showed red. Moreover, there was a faith, because I was holding my father’s hand, and if I forgot to tell you, my father was with me all this while, and also my mother, because we were out together as a family.

Just as I was crossing the road, suddenly a car, I can bleakly remember, but it was a Volkswagen, although I don’t intend to blame the name of the company, because the entire fault was of the driver’s, rushed through the street, and even before I could realize, it ran into me and then I do not know what happened, because when my eyes opened, I was on bed number 5 in the children’s ward in the local hospital. I looked desperately for my right leg, but couldn’t see it. I had become lame, however, I could still see, smell, taste, feel and hear. All my senses were perfect, and I looked around and saw my parents sitting beside at the table. My father smiled wryly at the fact that I had finally opened my eyes, but no one could stop my mother from crying loudly, as if it were hers and not my leg that had disappeared.

Now, I am absolutely fine just like any other friend of mine, except that I need to use a pair of crutches, which hardly makes any difference to me.”

The essay ended there. It was written finely, and I admired at the imagination of the boy who had written it. He would grow up to be a great poet, or author, or script-writer may be, I thought. I turned around at Susanne to request to meet the boy, and it was then that I saw tears in his eyes, he was weeping, softly though, so that no one would hear. I asked him what happened, as I could see no reason to cry at such a beautiful piece of writing. He then said, “This was written yesterday morning, and yesterday afternoon, after the school ended, while he, the boy who you want to meet, was returning home, a car ran into him. The right leg was cut from the body, and the boy passed away on the spot.”

The Roof Beam

“That was the ultimate story for the night,” said my father, keeping his glass of tea on the wooden table in front of us. And then he burst out into laughter. Mr. Farmer looked annoyed, since in his past sixty years, this was the first time someone had told him that the things he spoke were all a joke. “Ghosts do not exist Mr. Farmer, and people do not die looking at a beam under the roof,” said he, bursting out into laughter again.

Indeed, the story the farmer told us was clearly made up, just like the ones we used to see on the television. Who would indeed believe that there was a ghost in the haunted house who killed people, and the people were found dead, each one’s eyes staring at the roof beam above. Mr. Farmer, annoyed now, said, “Fine, then why do you not go there yourself and check out whether it is true? I give you a chance, prove me wrong.” Silence followed, after which my father again burst out into laughter, which annoyed the farmer even more, and said, “Okay, tomorrow night I go and meet your ghost. Let me see what is so charming about the roof beam that everyone dies looking at it,” and winked at me. I smiled wryly, already too sleepy to indulge in this conversation. I was tired by the day’s journey, and here my father was over enthusiastic and wanted to wait for another day only to prove a fable wrong.

I stood up, went into the hut where we had taken shelter for the night, and started looking for a place to sleep. There was no bed, nothing to rest my head upon, so I just went near the fireplace and lay on the floor, it was warmer there, and the mosquitoes would not come troubling me, put my head upon my hands, curled myself, took an empty dirty sack for a sheet, and went off to sleep. The noise of the heavy rain on the tinned shed behind kept me half awake. There was no light in the room, no fan, only a hand-fan which the farmer was using for himself. I stopped thinking about the ghost, or whatever it was the farmer was saying, and concentrated on sleeping.

The next night, I was not so over enthusiastic. In fact I was a bit afraid of the farmer’s story turning out to be true, but when I told my father what I felt, he gazed at me with his mouth open and gave a wtf expression that made me quiet again. We had dinner quietly, although father tried to crack a few jokes at the farmer’s expense. Post-dinner, we walked up to the haunted house that we were told about the previous day.

The house indeed looked like a haunted one. The dark sky, no light around except the full moon on the sky which made a shadow of the house overlap with the trees surrounding it, and silence all around. It had two big windows, and the door was made of wood but was broken from the bottom. A bird had made its nest in the house too. It started making me nervous too, and I wanted to stop my father, but then I realized how foolishly I was behaving. I bid bye to my father, and we had a hearty laugh about father being the ghost’s dinner for the night. Then we came back to the farmer’s hut.

I could not sleep that night, partly because of the monotonous sound of the rain on the tinned shed, and partly thinking of what was happening at the haunted house. I was somehow desperately waiting for morning to arrive, and I do not know why, but it seemed as if the night would not end. The farmer snored in the other room whilst I played with myself, and kept looking at my mobile now and then, checking whether it was time enough for me to get out and rush to the house and check the circumstances there.

The first chirp of the bird made me stand up on my feet. It was a twenty-minute walk from this hut to the haunted house, and even as I said the word “haunted house” in my mind, it made me smile wryly as to how villagers term every small thing so huge. I was almost near the house when I saw my father come out of a side-lane that led to the house. I was overjoyed to see him. I went up to him.

“So, how was your experience last night?” I asked.

My father again burst out into laughter. He threw the twig with which he was cleaning his teeth and said, “See, I told you. The farmers say anything that comes into their mind. Everything is a lie.”

I laughed and said, “And what about the roof-beam? What was so attractive about it that all people looked at it and died?” winking at him.

He suddenly became serious. “No, there is something about that beam.”

“What?”

“I do not know. I cannot explain. But there is something about that beam. You need to see it and then may be you would feel alike.”

“Okay, then into the house I go and get infatuated about the beam,” I said, and we both burst out into laughter.

I rushed into the room, and it was then that my heart pumped faster than ever before. There was my father, lying on the bed, his eyes gazing the beam, his eyes not blinking anymore, his heart, no more beating. He was dead. I rushed out to find the man to whom I talked, but there was no one outside. But I just talked to him outside. Then who was he…?

Nanny

It was now evening. Although I didn’t have a watch; I had lost my best one I bought from the Sunday footpath market on a bet over a pack of cigarettes; it was a nice one, a bit of gold plated, but smoking was much better than wearing watches, so I dealt it, but lost…. Anyways, by the sky I could tell there was still about an hour left for the sun to set. The sky was growing a bit dark, from white it started turning purple, and the crows and white pigeons sitting with me, had also started leaving, for their homes, leaving me alone as earlier. I kept sitting on the steps, waiting for my father to come, and say “Let’s go.” I had told him to reach here by afternoon, but as usual, he is late, and today was no different.

I always loved my father. He was a different man. Not like the other dads, but a soft-hearted, and I always took advantage of that… may be he will never realize how much I loved him and how much I cared for him; he was bald, with a  bit of hair in the front, although the sides and the back of the head was covered with hair. He looked good that way, short-heighted, with a moustache; black-white combined, no beard, and wore a pair of spectacles sometimes which made him look even cuter. I loved the way he smiled at me…. All sweet memories suddenly coming to my mind; but now I was angry with him, for being late; the river flowed with its own slow speed, it was rather dirty, but the reflection of the sky made it look beautiful.

I was getting bored, and the only way I could devise now of entertaining me was throwing stones in the river, pebbles, but there also my bad luck… the small children did this so passionately that there was hardly any pebble left. “Ahem!” I suddenly got alarmed by a voice from behind. I turned back, uninterested… the dim light around me lessened by the shadows of the palm trees, huge tall ones, but no palms; it wasn’t the season,; prevented me from figuring out who it is. So then I had to stand up and then turn around… hated doing that, I was so happy sitting, I am a bit lazy I guess.

Standing at a bit distance I figured it was a woman. In a white sari, and a big smile, she was looking beautiful. If only I can see her face I thought. She was definitely not my mother, my mother never used to wear white saris, those were meant only for old women, and my mother was young, very young, at least for me. No she wasn’t my mother. I went a bit closer. Now I could decipher her face. Yes she was old, as I knew old women had wrinkles on their faces, and she had a number of them. Her eyes, more beautiful than any other girl even of my age…. I stopped thinking. I just ran to her. Yes, yes, I guessed right, she was my grandma. My sweetest pal. Oh!!! How did she get to know I was here?

When I was small, and when I used to be sitting alone, she would come and sit with me, telling me stories about her childhood. God knows whether they were true or just a fairy tale, I couldn’t care less. Old memories started flashing through my mind. She always came to our home during the puja vacations, and we used to roam the cities together, papa, mummy, nanny and I. And then at night we used to chatter and chatter and chatter. Oh what a lovely time it was……. Wait!!! Was I dreaming??? Is it really my nanny??? I took a second deep look, yes, definitely she is my own sweet nanny. Why were both of us acting so awkwardly??? We were not talking only. I went up to her, “Nanny!” I had been used to calling her Nanny, since my elder cousins did the same. I said, “There’s time for dad to come. Let’s go and sit by the river and talk.” She just smiled, but didn’t say anything. I clasped her hand and we moved slowly back to the steps.

I started tweeting away, I always did that; never allowed her to answer my questions. I used to question her, and then I would answer them myself, and my nanny would just look at me and smile. I started telling her how bored I was feeling here. “Dad’s so bad,” I said.  “I told him to come an hour earlier, he didn’t reach till now.” And I kept on talking and talking and talking. I somehow assumed that my nanny had come to the temple beside, although she never said anything like that, but the basket in her hand… the basket I had given her a few years back; and it was her favorite basket… and the flowers in it brought me to that conclusion.

I had so much to tell her, all about my new school friends, and how one had beaten me up so much that he was suspended from school. Oh, that boy, I really really hate him. And then I wanted to tell her about our new teacher who came to teach me at my house… and my new computer… and that my dad had bought a new car, the one in which you wished to sit. Suddenly she rose, and when I asked whether she was getting late, she smiled, patted on my head, and then…. She kissed me. Yeah, I felt it. I couldn’t control myself. I hugged her hard and started crying. Then she left.

It wasn’t even five minutes she left that my dad came to pick me up. I had planned to shout at him for being late, but now I was so overjoyed I wanted to tell him everything that just happened. He came, and I suppose he was also expecting me to shout at him, so he got rather astonished at me smiling wide. I asked him, “Did you see her?”

“Who?” retorted my father, puzzled.

“Why, nanny of course! She just left. Didn’t you see her on the way back?”

My father silent. After a moment he said, “No. May be I missed her. Let’s go now.”

I agreed and we both drove home. Reaching home, I rushed inside. And……… I was then shocked. There was my nanny, lying down, my mother lamenting over her body. She had left for her heavenly abode that noon…. but I had talked to her in the evening…. Then…… was it….?

Café and Bouquet

The world cries out to me all day,
To forget the people that have left me alone,
I cry back to the world and say,
Whatever they have done, they have to me the way shown,
Then it laughs out loud and laughs again,
And bewildered when I look at it,
Ask me to tell it my loss and my gain,
And unable to tell it, I am in a fit.
Then it clutches my hand, on to it tight,
And though I have always hated it,
Takes me out to the torturing light,
And tells me to continuously stare at it.
Then when I see it shining on raw hay,
I am reminded of the bouquet,
The bouquet I bought for my lady that day,
When we were seated at the café.
And even now I go to the places where we,
Used to sit together watching the sea.
The sand which we sat still hold the temple,
We made with our hands, and they still tell,
They cry for you, I don’t know why,
The chairs have become cold and dry,
Where we sat together each evening and day,
That park still lies on my way.
And when I sit there the wind about you asks,
It recognizes me under all my masks,
The masks I wore since you left me,
Of happiness to show everyone that we,
That we are happy as happy as can be.
But deep in my heart, my soul cries all day,
To bring back the days of the café and bouquet.

Clock Strikes

And at last I heard the melody, the melody of life I heard,
As when the small schoolboy had cried of class being over and jumped,
It was of joy no doubt for him, and this of joy too,
Amidst all the sorrows which I came through, the joyful sorrow was here too.
It played the tune, the tune which was,
May be for others only a ring,
But in my ears they echoed, echoed innumerable times,
Echoed so much it made me sing.
Sing the joys I had with me, although alone I lived so long,
And though others had pointed me to be, I never had thought that I was wrong,
The cell here in which I lived, lived for the past two fortnights,
Hadn’t been able to instill in me, instill in me those frights,
And then I heard the setting, the setting of the mikes,
And that was what was to happen I knew, when that old clock strikes.
I know what they will do now, do what they do always,
And someday another, I will go through, the same clock strike one day.
The crowd gathers, as if a show begins, with curtains too for sure,
And wait for the behead of the one who did, bloody things pure.
Days have passed since I last heard it, I know today is mine,
I talk to myself that this is the last time I witness the sands of time.
For in an hour or so my head will be somewhere or the other,
And my body will crave when it looks at it, but will only get a shudder,
When it realizes that it can’t play the way it on streets bumped,
As when the small schoolboy had cried of class being over and jumped.

Footpath

There’s the window I used to stand at,
Looking at the road that leads to her house,
And when I see it now I remember,
The footpath we walked where my feelings rose.
The set of her eyes, those dark twinkling ones,
The hand of her, in my hand it stayed,
For so many hours, and now it’s away.
The anklet’s chime, the feelings they brought,
My sleep, her dreams, my sufferings, her smile.
The times we met at her house, or the roads,
I saw my yellow one turning into a red rose.
Little did I know that building I was,
Castles of sand that would get washed,
Washed by the tears that rushed through my eyes,
And flow even today though the memories are iced.
Chained was I to what I didn’t know,
And couldn’t break it though I tried high and low.
Then one day she came, unhooked my chain,
Took me with her, through that same lane,
And I was so happy and I was so keen,
Till I found out that it was all a dream.
The leaves which fell last autumn call me,
The leaves of love, they cry and call me,
Tell me that she’s gone, don’t wait for her,
Try to bring back in me that shudder,
The feel I got when I first saw her with him,
Whom I didn’t know and didn’t want to meet him,
I want her alone as I am right now,
And surely we’ll join, and that’s my vow.