Diaspora

People moving here and there; leaving their homelands in search of happiness; the grass is always greener on the other side, and then the ego comes in; happiness they do not get, but they can’t come back either, no, they are not losers, they must stay and seek happiness yet, while they have a chance. Everyone dispersing, spreading; groups all breaking down into fragments by narrow domestic walls; people start thinking, and then they start over-thinking, making plans, reverting back, new plans, no, these won’t work out, something else then, yeah, let’s try this maybe; two weeks later, back to square one. Some confused, some exasperated already, some tired and longing to go back to where they came from, but now it is too late, and they must work towards their goal, for the goal is what is important, but they know they can’t achieve it, but try they must, and try they do; but they do know, that nothing’s gonna happen, but yet they don’t stop, for stopping might make them look foolish, and they are sinking, deep in their thoughts at times, and floating mid-air at other times, sinking, floating, drowning, catching a stick, coming up, going downstream, swimming against the currents, trying to reach the banks, for the banks now are full of silt, but no, oh no, they can see, right in front of their eyes, how the river floods the banks; now only desolate land, devoid of everything, a barren island, just like their hearts, barren, empty, devoid of feelings, and now they realize, oh, they did not want this at all in the first place, their hearts that were filled with joy and hope, they want it back, yet they have sacrificed it, and they don’t remember a thing, because their memories are so short-lived, and there’s a fire somewhere, but they’ll put it out later, and they remember bits and pieces, from long back when they were together, in another country, with other people too, oh, where are they now, and what do they do? And the fire is burning, red flames and yellow, orange flames and red, burning every single man and every single woman, yet they do not flinch, for how would they show that they were vulnerable, when the opposite is what they have tried to prove to themselves all this while; and the fire keeps burning, but it will go out in a while, for there’s nothing around that can burn anymore, already the ashes are working against it, and the ashes do fly, and the sky is now black, the air is now black, the wind carries the ash, to other desolate lands, with other desolate people, and in this process, they all meet, ashes and memories, joys and pain, the joys that were once a reality, now only a myth, only a dream, an unfulfilled prophecy, a crescent moon, slowly covered by clouds, yet there will be no rain, for the rain would quench the thirst all around, and that cannot happen, for happen it will not, because that is the will of the One, the One who created this diaspora.

Yet in the dark of night when the sky is black and black is the color that they all love because black is what they have seen forever, they dream and their dreams are wild and wild as hell but no one stops them for no one can, and why should they when dreams are the one that give them hope and let them live and stop them from gnawing into each else’s lives like rodents burrowing into a hole in the ground, removing the soil and getting into the skins of the earth, and here something is getting inside the skins of the people, something warm and they can feel it, oh now they are warm, but the heat keeps increasing and now they burn, oh look at them, from black and white, and brown and yellow, all their skins turn red, and they cling to each other, likes babies clinging to their mothers’ aprons, and they walk through puddled grounds, wary of falling, yet now they fall, from hills they fall, down into the vales, they tumble and they tumble, and the ground breaks free, and rocks now fall, crumbling into stones, and joining to form caves in the vales, and the people hide their faces, for fear of being scathed, their faces they hide, and they’ve done so at other times too, but then it had been for shame, for ashamed they were of what they did, and how they lived and what they thought, for thoughts they cannot control, and they creep in the midst of night inside the mind like tigers leering in forests looking for prey, and the thoughts encumber them and burden them and now the weight is too much and they need to get rid of them, but the parasites keep clinging, much like a baby, clinging to a mother’s apron, and the cycle continues, a vicious cycle, no one can come out once they’ve got in, and yet they still get in because it lures them in, like a black hole, sucking all their energy, pulling them in and making them its own, and look at them now, how they struggle, how they fight, how they battle among themselves, oh yes there is bloodshed, and how the blood and the fight made them forget of the heat that was burning them only a while ago, but the heat has now subdued, though some have been diseased by it, and some have recovered, but the change is visible, and now blood flows out, out of the cycle, and out they rush, all of them, racing towards the periphery, they do not care where they are headed to, as long as they are running, for all are running, and though they are out of breath, see how they run, and men are running, and women are running, running they all are, because their lives are at stake now, and they value it, see how they value it, and now they’ve realized that their battle was not against each other, but it was them against the One, and One against them, destruction trying to overwhelm their lives, but they are strong, and they cannot lose, and so fight they must, and so they fight, and they think they can win, and who can tell, for all you know, they just might.

The Mermaid

A tide rose somewhere, and a boat sunk down,
Went down down down to the bottom of the sea,
And for the first time in his life he saw her,
Half of her looked like his wife, and half a whale.

She had big ears, and had gills for her nose,
And was a bright blue where the fish started in her,
Fairer her face than any he had seen,
And locks of golden brown hair huddled close.

She told him a story of love and war,
How she became what she became,
How the axe tore her through her midrib,
And how she was thrown into the waters.

The water Queen had bandaged her,
To the best possible sized fish she found,
And slowly each had grown into the other,
And had come to union and became one.

He, a lost soldier, now a fisherman,
Now dead, drowning, sinking,
Finally finds solace in meeting her,
Who he had mourned for so many years.

And she, oh tears well up,
And her throat goes dry though the seas surround her,
What could she say, and what would she say,
She had reunited with the love of her life.

The Clientele

[1]

The black of the night gave way to light. It was just another normal winter morning. The birds chirped just as usual and the sun hid partly behind the clouds, glancing at the grass once a while, which partially covered with frost, occasionally turned back to look at the sun. The morning dew on the leaves was still as fresh as it could be, and the dogs on the street lay lazily without barking at the pedestrians who passed by them. As she woke up, she heard the bustles of cars and trucks from down somewhere. It was going to be another long day for her. Sometimes she wished she could just keep sleeping and not do anything else on a Sunday. But clearly, that was not possible. She went downstairs and looked around the house, clothes piled up on the sofa, a cup of coffee spilled on the floor staining the carpet, breadcrumbs on the table, and a half-finished bottle of fine Irish whiskey. She drew the curtains to let in some light, and sprayed a bit of the freshener to nullify the smell of cigarettes which seemed to be coming from everywhere. Slowly she staggered into the kitchen, finding the cupboards half-open, an untouched packet of chips lying on the floor, a coffee mug splintered into pieces. A slice of pizza was still left in the box, and the tap was open, so she went up to it and turned the knob. At the opposite end of the room, the television was playing songs on MTV. She lowered the volume; she wanted to sit for a while and catch up with the news, but there was hardly any place to sit. She smiled wryly and went back to the bedroom. The last week had been hectic for her, with five assignments in seven days. She took out her phone and checked her appointment for the day. Then she undressed herself and threw her blood-stained clothes carelessly upon the bed before moving into the shower. There, beside her clothes, slept the corpse of her latest client, Mr Jacob.

Once she had showered and dressed up in fresh clothes, she started with her daily chores. She cleaned up the bedroom, bundling up the blood-stained sheets that she would need to throw. She folded them one by one and put them neatly into a polythene bag. Then she took out a bottle of hydrogen peroxide and an old rag from her bag. She dabbed the rag with the solution, and slowly but carefully removed the stains from the study table and from the floors around, where the blood was now turning brown. Had someone else been around, he could have pointed out that there was a blotch remaining at the corner of the bed where he was lying now, but she missed the spot. Rag and solution went back into her bag. She looked at him one last time and planted a kiss on his lips. Then she went down and cleaned up the kitchen. As she moved out of the house, she picked up the blood-stained knife from the table. It would be her souvenir from last night. Had she been more observant, she would have spotted a man standing on the other side of the road, clicking a picture of hers.

She needed to move fast, if she were ever to reach on time for her appointment. As she sped up the highway in the newly acquired BMW, her thoughts went back to the night before. She had put up a good show, and she had fought bravely. If only Jacob realized what was going to happen after he was tied to his bed, he would have never agreed. She let out a smile as his face came to her mind: the grin slowly fading out from his lips and the horror creeping into his eyes. He had tried to put up a good fight, but a businessman with his hands tied pitting himself against a trained martial artist were as good as a deer surrounded by a pack of lions. The odds were clearly not in his favour. He tried to shout for help, but she bit his tongue, and then he fell quiet. That was almost the end of it. She plunged out a knife from her side and quickly stabbed him thrice in his chest, after which she untied him. She did not want him to die a handicap. She could not be so brutal. And she was amazed at what she saw, for Jacob was man enough to still try come back at her. He staggered and pushed her against the table, and clenched his fists around hers. But he had lost too much blood by then. He only wished to have not drunk so much. The whiskey was doing its job pretty well, and he started feeling dizzy again. He picked up a cushion to hide his face as she came back at him. Knife struck cushion as sword against shield, and in moments his face had gained more scars than she had ever put on anyone. He fell back onto the bed, mumbling words of despair. She solemnly closed his eyes. And then she had a sound sleep.

[2]

She was about to reach the other end of the city. Her appointment was scheduled at eleven in the morning, and she had a good thirty minutes to reach. She called in at her office, and the secretary picked up the call. “Please mark a sick leave for me, today, Miss Donnett,” she said politely. “Sure, Mira,” she said, and added, “Get well soon,” before she hung up. As she came nearer to the sea, she started feeling better than before. She stopped by the sea for a while. She liked to visit the beach between subsequent appointments. It gave her solace. She had learnt a lot from the sea. Like the sea which took its colour from the sky, never trying hard enough to change. She believed in being controlled. Like the sky which controlled the colours of the sea, and the moon which controlled the tides, controlling when the sea be angry and when it be calm, yet the sea hardly revolted. But when it did, it did with all its might, flooding the cities and washing the sand of all its memories and the sand castles were washed and the letters people wrote in the sand of being together forever, they were all washed out. It seemed strange to her how the sea could be so tranquil and so ferocious at the same time, and how it could manage two opposite characters so well. She had always tried to do that, manage both her responsibilities with all her will, yet it seemed sometimes that one was slipping away to make way for the other. She saw a flock of white seagulls flying across the sky, and the sun gleaming blissfully over her. The clouds were gone, and the day was happy. She saw children holding hands and walking on the sands, barefooted, and she saw an American woman riding a camel in the distance where the sand met the horizon. A vendor came by, and she bought a scarf. A blue silk scarf, just like the sea, she thought. She glanced at her watch, and saw it was time she moved on.

She sped up her car, and reached just in the nick of time. She went in, and took a seat at the end of the aisle. Having order a crème latte, she sat in the Starbucks cafe, sipping her coffee and staring out of the window. The blood stained knife lay next to her handbag, covered with her blue silk scarf. She took out her phone and checked her messages. Somebody had sent her a picture. As she took her last sip, she saw a man in a black suit coming out of a car and heading towards the café. He was the same one as in the picture. As he entered, she stood up. They came face to face, and she shook hands with her next client. “Good to meet you,” she said. “Good to meet you too,” he replied, “I hope you know how important this day is for me.” She replied, “Yes, I hope you don’t start hating me by tonight,” and they both laughed together. Had he been observant, he would have noticed how her voice stiffened when she said that line. Had she been observant, she would have seen a man on the other side of the road, clicking a picture of them.