The Last Prayer

The taste of brine, foam in his mouth,
He smelled of sand, the sun and the birds,
Kept going deeper every next moment,
Drowning, drowning into the sea,
When he spoke, only bubbles,
And he breathed, only bubbles,
No one to see, no one to hear,
They said under water, the dumb and the rest,
All are alike, because neither speak,
And here he was, proving it true.
The sun glimmered, shining through the waters,
But every second it kept being dimmer,
Whether his eyes were closing,
Or he was going deeper,
He could not tell.
He’d lost track of time, didn’t know,
How long it had been since he was under,
His eyes were closing, his eyelids heavy,
He realized he should have drank lesser last night,
He longed to know one last time,
Who it was that had pushed him,
They were all his friends, all close to him,
Yet one plotted behind his back,
Or were they all involved, he could not tell.
He prayed one last time, prayed fervently,
That the gods forgive him for all his sins,
And slowly he stopped struggling,
One last breath, and then he decided to rest.

Winter is Coming

I sit outside in the balcony, sipping from my cup of tea. The slight tinge of ginger in it helps me stay awake. I see the sun, red as blood, uncover slowly at the eastern edge of the sky. It isn’t morning yet, but it will be, in a few minutes. I like this time of the day. It’s the time when the birds chirp and yet none fly out as yet, waiting patiently for the first ray to fall on their nests. The wind is chilly, I need a thick shawl, but I don’t want to go inside as yet.

In another hour, I’ll leave for work. Then it will be nine hours of tough grueling on codes written by big professionals out there, but right now my mind doesn’t want to think about that. I smell the air, a tinge of perfume of the girl in the next verandah, potatoes frying in oil, and gulmohur flowers. I imagine how life would have been if I had been a bird, flying at sunrise, returning at sunset. On a second thought, I kind of actually do the same, only I ride inside a bus instead of flying. People come out of their houses once a while, stretch and go back. Some dogs are awake on the streets, but they seem too lazy to bark, and they keep lying down anyways. I hear sounds of bells ringing. The pious lady in the adjacent house strictly observes an early-morning pray-time, and now I smell the incense sticks too. It seems as if the olfactory senses are the only ones alive inside my brain right now, and my fingers continue typing without realizing what I just finished writing.

Even though I try not to think much, my mind is clouded with lots of thoughts, which are really unsorted, and I make a mental note to sort them based on priority once I am ready to begin my day. I bring out another cup of tea, this time making sure I enjoy every sip, but it gets over, just like the one before. Winter is coming. I can feel it in my bones. It reminds me of Game of Thrones, of the Stark family, of the Red Wedding. Then it reminds me of Lady Stoneheart and I smile a silent smile when my devious mind tells me I should let out this spoiler to a friend of mine. But I dig it in, postponing it to a later time. The cycle of thoughts is a wondrous process, moving from one thing to another as swift as a deer, until you forget how the train started. The floor is cold, and I cannot put my feet down. I check my phone once a while, seeing if it’s time; I could as well put an alarm, but find it tiresome to do anything right now. Yesternight was good, we went to a pub. It has been over ten months since I last went to one, and my entire college life kept creeping inside me back and again all the while, until I left for home, my parents and the regular monotonous life that I lead.

And now it’s time to go. I need to take a shower and then get ready for work. So I’ll catch up later. Bye!

Only a Shade of Grey

Things, if they’d been in black and white,
Or in black, or in white,
Life would have been so simple,
So easy to cope with,
So monotonous to lead, though.
It’s the grey that makes me worry,
And the different shades of it that cause,
The turmoil in my mind,
Which one to choose,
Which one to accept,
And which to deny,
The cause, the choice, the right, the wrong,
Everything but a shade.
There’s nothing right and nothing wrong,
Only something yet more wrong than the other,
Nothing more right than that the most right,
And nothing worse than the worst.
Then why do they fight,
And call us black,
And beat us up,
When they but know,
No one is black,
None white either,
Only a shade of grey.

Return – Chapter 4

As I walked back, I pondered on how she would feel if she knew of this. She had always been patient when it came to listening to stories about Shaena. She was beautiful. We were beautiful. Irtiqa. When we first met, we had talked for a couple of hours before we exchanged our names, and by then it had been too late for us to back out. How everything went after that, and what it led to, only we knew. Irtiqa, she said, meant progression. She had kept the entire thing afloat, and somehow I had felt it was her who I owed so much in my life. But life is a strange affair, and we were meant to not be. If she were here today, she would probably have walked with me, discussed if it were right, whatever I was doing, and maybe even encourage me a little, boost up my confidence, that pretty smile that changed everything, those instantaneous hugs and pats on the head… it had been a good time together.

I sat in the drawing room, waiting for Shaena to come downstairs. On the opposite wall, there was a poster, which reminded me of a stanza which she had read out to me ages ago.

“For when the sky is dark,
The rains will come,
And when the rains do come,
The dust will wash off,
And when the dust washes off,
New dust will settle,
Until the sky turns dark again.”

It seemed so true and so clearly untrue at the same time. Indeed life was a circle. Not one big one, but many small circles. You kept going round and round unless you found the way out. For me, I still hadn’t discovered the way, and was engulfed in it, round and round and round. I looked up at the ceiling, the fan moving persistently, in slow circles, never tiring. I wondered what would happen if the fan rotated counter clockwise instead of clockwise, and whether it would just break out of the ceiling and fall on my head if I were to close my eyes. I kept my eyes open. Irtiqa kept interrupting my thoughts. I thought of the day when I had finally decided I would ask her out, and then the tumultuous events that led to me deciding for once and all, that it was never meant to be. Once a while I looked up the stairs to see if she was coming down.

After half an hour she did. She looked mesmerizing. It would have been wrong to say she looked just pretty, or gorgeous. She looked different. Different from how she looked yesterday, when we met for the first time in years. Of course, she didn’t realize she was talking to me then. She had drank more than she was capable of. We had talked as if we were strangers, until Saeeka turned up. Things changed, and I instantaneously left that place. But how she talked today didn’t really suggest she had any idea of what happened yesterday. And maybe that was for the good, because it would have been the worst possible reunion I could have imagined if it were to happen that way. But things happen, they just, happen. They are not always under your control. Two years back, when Irtiqa and I first kissed (and it was the last time too), it just happened. We never talked about it again, pretending as if it never happened. Could it be Shaena was pretending too? Whatever it was, I decided to let it be as it was. She came down the stairs. “Let’s go?” she asked. “Yes,” I replied, and we walked out.

On our way, she chattered consistently. It felt nice to listen to her, after such a long time. The wind blew through her hair, so she took it up all in a bun, but then she saw the dismayed face that I had involuntarily and unintentionally made, and she left it open again. It was only after she smiled that I realized my face was crooked. “Have you read A Song of Ice and Fire?” she asked. “Oh yes, it is one of my favorite series,” I replied. It had been fifteen minutes since the last time I spoke, and so I had to grab this opportunity. But she didn’t let me. Instead, she prattled about her friends, college, life, thoughts, plans, wishes, memories and what not. Even so, it felt good. The winter wind on my face, the damp sun after the rain, and the snowy streets, all reminded me of times long gone by. We crossed a pond, where in the summer you would spot lots of fishermen trying to grab their lot of fishes for the day. Now, however, it was covered with a sheet of ice. The trees were white too, as if they had white leaves. The aroma of Christmas floated. It was less than a fortnight away. “I have a friend, her name is Irtiqa,” I said. “Oh, nice name,” she said, before continuing with whatever she was talking about. It was five minutes later that she realized I wanted to tell her something, and then she finally stopped talking. It was my turn.

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Return – Chapter 3

Breakfast consisted of a lot of catching up. “What are you reading these days?” I asked. She looked at me melancholically, as if an entire life ushered in front of her eyes. “Love Story,” she said. “The Erich Segal one?” I paused, “or the one we wrote?” I tried keeping my face straight. She blushed, and in an instance I was transported back to school. Her shy smile hadn’t changed a bit. “The Erich Segal one, you fool,” she smiled. We talked a lot about what happened in our lives in the past four years, shared lots of stories. She talked nonchalantly, her hair still auburn, a thousand clips placed tightly. It reminded me of the first time I had seen her, how she kept drawing petals and flowers on her notebook, and how far we had come from there. “You remember the Biology lab?” she asked. The biology lab was where our entire story started. “You think I can forget it?” I said, winking slightly. My mind kept shifting from memory to memory, sieving those which had her in them. It was astonishing how I remembered so much, when I had not given much thought to it for such a long time. She insisted that I tell her more about my college, and what I had been up to for the past four years. I could tell her the truth, this time I had nothing to lose, but somehow, I kept back most of the truth from the story. I told her a bit about my friends, and a bit about my college, only as much as was needed. We decided to go out for lunch in another two hours. I told her I would be back on time to pick her up. We hugged and waved good bye to each other.

The sun was up, shining ever so brightly. It was as if it rejoiced in my return. I went back home, knocked on the door, hoping she’d not close it on my face like she did a while ago. I had my plan ready; I would hug her as soon as she opened the door, giving her no time to shut it on my face. As I retraced my steps, it began to rain. It was only a drizzle first, a pitter-patter, but I stood there, in the middle of the street, rejoicing the rain, as it washed away the dust on the streets, and from the memories that lay stacked in my brain for so many years. It reminded me of the days when I went to school during the monsoons. I still remember the faint white tube-lights of the classroom switched on even though it was early in the morning, and the smell of the mud never allowing me to concentrate in the class, my eyes always shifting from the blackboard to the skies outside, black and grey, dull and gloomy, yet happier than what the teacher was teaching. And how that changed later, when though it rained, the only place my eyes went were her eyes, and the teacher kept running through huge courses I had no idea of. But that was a lifetime ago. Those need not have bothered me anymore, not more than the fact that I would never grow young again, and never relive those moments; etched deep in my thoughts, like engravings on stone, made with other stones, proclaiming love in the forts and on the trees, so that people around the world knew who you were; the wish to be famous. It was queer how we never became famous for our good acts, and some, like us, never got any fame, remained in the backgrounds, forever working for those who received all the fame, and yet I didn’t regret. And suddenly I realized, the rain had stopped. I needed to do some serious business now. And so I walked.

I went back home, only to find the door locked. I waited outside, for an hour, and another, and then another, but she didn’t come. Where could she have gone? She was here this morning. I felt an eerie sense of disownment. Maybe it was never destined to be so. Our lives had separated, and no matter how hard I tried, probably nothing good would ever come out of it. Our relationship was like a thread, once broken; I tried knotting it up, and making it one whole piece again, but that knot… that knot was there, and howsoever hard I tried, the knot would be there. To remove the knot would mean to break the thread again, and I had to choose one over the other. But the knot was hurting, it hurt a lot. And so I needed to break the thread, even if it meant losing someone dear, someone close to the heart. For sometimes, it’s not the act, but the repercussions and the consequences that make you act towards it. And something similar was happening here. I got up, kicked the door one last time, though nothing really changed, and strolled off. I had to be on time for lunch.

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Rough

He kept sailing, the waters turning rough,
Storms every night, and rain sodding his clothes,
He caught a fever, but then recovered,
Yet caught it again, the rain never stopped.
The brine and the wind made him dizzy as ever,
And he retched constantly into the waters,
But never did he stop, it was important that he didn’t,
And he continued to sail, by the light of the moon.
Food had become scarce, wine even scarcer,
Water nowhere to be found,
And so he drank the sea water,
His stomach else empty.
When he went down, rats had infested,
The leftover grains and he’d have to throw them,
There was no one to talk, he the sole survivor on ship,
But he didn’t lose hope, he kept sailing.
A fortnight later, he found an island,
Stranded though, it had some trees,
He used the wood to mend the holes in the ship,
Then resumed on his journey.
How long he’d have to sail, he had no clue,
And didn’t know whether the winds would be in his favor,
But he knew he had to reach,
The land where the sun never sets,
And where his life would be just one long day.
He longed for his dream to come true,
And he’d set forth to make it so,
And he prayed to the gods to make it happen.
For deep in his heart he did believe,
And somewhere within we should too,
That dreams are but visions of what could be true,
And to make them possible, we alone must strive.

Minutes to My Death

I can count on my fingers, though they move no more,
The minutes left before I leave this world,
And yet I write, in memory of the past,
Rejoicing in life, and what I did with it.
I see myself, the five-year kid,
Walking to school clutching his mother’s hand,
And I see her smiling in front of me,
Like a wavy line of the candle, always providing warmth.
I see myself as a boy of nineteen,
Fighting for a girl I never met again,
Blood on my fingers, bloodstained shirt,
And how I wore it with pride, in mark of her love.
I see the day when I bombarded the school,
Killing my own son in a bargain,
Wearing orange, the jail, the keeper,
I see everything, and in a flash it disappears.
I see my daughter, a small girl,
But then she grows up, and spits on my face,
I see the guy who fought me for her,
And reveled in the blood, on his stained shirt.
My eyes close often, I can’t open them much,
And darkness spreads like a cloth on my face,
I hear the sound of muffles,
And a grr-grr-grr,
Then the pay-pay-pay,
Of the ambulance I hear,
And they put me in.
I close my eyes, take my last strong breath,
Don a smile on my face, and am done with this life.