Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The rush of time

He was as usual running. Having checked-in over the phone, he had bare minutes to board the flight. The ever smiling stewardess guided him towards his seat. For the umpteenth time he wondered, whether she actually hid murderous intentions behind that sweet smile. He was always late.

He settled in the luxury of his business class fare and watched from the hole which formed his window, as he left the world behind in favour of the skies. He was forever leaving something behind in favour of something else. He had traded his college cigarettes for a more expensive brand of slim lights, beers had been replaced with single malts, bikes had grown a pair of new wheels and had been renamed cars… Some called it staying in step with life, yet others called it moving on, but he could not help but feel as if he was leaving something behind.

That feeling, of having forgotten something had haunted him almost every single day for the past quarter of this century. Yet, nothing had been out of place. Work would progress as usual, he would even return home to a normal life. But the confused frown had become a natural feature gracing his worn face.

He often wondered if this was precisely why, he did not experience the so-called ‘work satisfaction’. He worked almost on auto-pilot. At work, he just could not feel happy, never got that sense of fulfillment, yet spent hours of broad daylight and the better half after sunset locked up in his office.

He had always walked back home, with the guilt riding his shoulders that he ought to have given more at work. At work more promise, meant fatter pay cheques. What did a promise at home mean?

A commitment which said, I will if I can. It had never been, I undoubtedly will. They were family and family understands. And his family had understood better than most. They had understood so well, that he had ceased to notice them. Notice that they were not just another existing necessity which completed the picture of his life.

He had left behind family for work.

“Daddy?” her voice not sounding like the five-year-old voice he remembered. The question in her voice asking if he would be there for her, seeking answers in the timbre of his voice. This voice was different, it was more authoritative. It didn’t seek the comfort of his voice, it was seeking answers in words.

“Hmmm?” His answer had failed to change in years.

“I am moving on, starting a new life, leaving the old one behind. I need you to be around when I am saying good-bye. Don’t be late this time” her voice almost pleading.

Moving on.

Leaving behind.

Don’t be late.


Life had passed him by. He could recollect none of it. His wife had perhaps stacked memories in an old photo album. But he never had the time.

He was going to be late.

To say good-bye.

He could remember his daughter as the toddler who ran into his arms when he reached home. He didn’t seem to remember the woman his daughter had grown into. He was too busy to notice her growing up.

Again that feeling, that he was leaving something behind

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Engagement

I know there are loads of books which outline the plight (oh yes it is a plight) of single women above the alarming (according to heavens knows whose standards) age of 25. And let me assure you they are not way off the mark.

It must have been after effects of a fever I had last week, which made me attend a distant cousin’s blissful engagement. The reasons why I shouldn’t have gone are more than many. Primarily she was a year younger to me and was already planning cosy scenarios of a house filled with kids and evenings of family dinners. Which in other words means she was definitely on the path of no-return and running superfast towards tying the marital knot.

If you for once had forgotten, that you were now spending a little more on cosmetic care and groaning at the extra flab the mirror insists on telling you that you had put on, rest assured there will be a hoard of over-fat, over-decked, over-made-up aunties who will think of innovative ways of reminding you of just that.

“You look so pretty in a saree, your tyres hardly show!” This however has no bearing on the fact that her saree seemed to have trouble accommodating her wide frame. And as every well brought up child is wont to do, I just politely smiled and refrained from saying anything.

“You know Rajji’s son? He’s a divorcee. Very handsome! And is working with some MNC, I forget the name. He is looking for a bride again! Not very old either. Just 42…” Nobody till date has come up with a rational explanation as to why 42 is ‘not very old’ for a guy while 26 is old for a girl! Not mention that Rajji auntie’s so called son looks like undertaker from the forgotten worlds of wrestling federation. Why would I NOT marry him?

“You know at your age you cant be very particular about the kind of boy you want to marry!” I do not want to marry a boy, thank you. I would like to wed a man. And I am sorry, but if I am expected to spend the rest of my life with anybody, I am picky about how he is going to be.

“Look, that boy there has been eyeing you for quite a while. Ladke wala hai. So cute na?” The incident or the ‘boy’? The incident was far from cute because the ‘boy’ in question was actually a man, who I am sure had a wife stacked away at home and had come to the engagement with the sole purpose of letching at every woman there. The kind of friend the groom- to- be would refuse to acknowledge as his, but would refrain from doing anything about him, simply to avoid creating a scene.

And if all this is not enough, your very own mother will look lovingly at the cousin who is slipping a ring on her fiancé’s finger and sigh very wistfully. She then looks at you and shakes her head in utter despair. The neighbouring auntie pats her shoulder as if to say – its ok, you cant help it if your daughter is such…

Monday, April 28, 2008

A Journey in Space and Time..

This is a much delayed post... I was supposed to post it on 30 March, and I am almost a month late..

Anyways this was during my train journey from Delhi to Hyderabad, and there were a girl (who shot this video) and her brother as my ordained companions for the trip... And lo and behold, there comes this little bundle of enthusiastic childhood from the next compartment...

I am no kid lover, but this kid was amazing... She had us in splits throughout the journey... And when I finally reached Hyderabad, it was like a pilot landing at the end of a particularly exciting flight- an inevitable end to an unbelievably beautiful experience...

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sacred Evil

Listening to the songs playing on his computer, his thoughts went to the name of the album- Sacred Evil. Oh yes, sacred evil. What would be an oxymoron to most was the ultimate truth of life to him. For that matter anything he saw, he could relate to whatever was engulfing his mind.

Sitting in his easychair, he was just watching the blades of the ceiling fan. And thinking. Thinking how success can spell the doom.

A couple of years back, when he had just started creating a mask for himself, had someone told him that his mask would be so close to perfection he would not have believed. But now it had become. Indeed he had been able to hold his own against everyone, choosing at will who all to be allowed to have a peek at his real face, his real self. The world knew him to be what he wanted it to know, and only those who mattered knew the reality.

But now, one of those trusted ones was believing the mask rather than him. The mask had overtaken the personality. For him, the mask had been Sacred. And now it was Evil.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Between Words

“True love does not have happy endings. It just has happy beginnings.”

It did have a happy beginning. But then things started going wrong. The blue skies with white fluffy clouds turned a cumbersome gray. The chirping parrots turned into screeching seagulls. He had hurt her and she was beyond doubt hurting. The burden of that knowledge weighed him down, choked every bit of emotion out of him, till all he could feel was a raw pain.

Everywhere he looked, he found himself staring into her black eyes. Black pearls, he always associated her eyes with black pearls. Beautiful and rare black pearls that would take divers to the depth of a turbulent ocean and emerge feeling as if they owned the world. Her eyes were full of life. Sparkling and clear. But the eyes that haunted him now were different. They were lifeless. Just like the thick grey murky water which was left behind after dousing a raging fire with a bucket of ice cold water. Gray ash mixed with water turning it to an almost black, still and lifeless.

He had willed her to display any emotion. Even wrath and hatred would have sufficed. But ironically what gripped his heart was the complete lack of emotion when she had looked at him that one last time. That was his punishment. One he could not endure.

It was still dark outside, but dawn would break in soon. The first ray slicing through the thick black like a flashlight belonging to a search party, hunting in the dark for their escaped convict. The light would find him and suddenly all lights in heaven would glow bright, flooding the area around him with daylight. They had found the guilty and now wanted the entire world to take a bloody good look at him.

He walked towards her house. His feet unable to carry the burden of his body, his heart making up for the lost momentum. His eyes raising themselves towards the window, they knew would be shut, yet willing them to open some locked up hope. Why was he going to her house? What did he have to say? Everything that had to be said had anyways always been left unspoken and that which did not need saying had been made explicitly clear. He walked to her door and took a deep breath. The fresh air spreading through his body like sweet poison, reminding him once again of the guilt which he would never forget.

He stood there for a complete minute facing the solid wood of the door. The barrier that now separated him from her. He looked down at the ends of his shoes, they were already beckoning him to move. He stared at the door one last time and then turned away and walked. Once again, leaving that which needed to be said, unsaid.

She watched from the window as he walked down the path, the winter winds blowing dried leaves in his way. The early fog swirled around him. He walked without looking back; he seemed in a hurry to get away. She watched the distance grow between them as the horizon swallowed him in lazy bites.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The city I know

People have often asked me – What is Pune like? I have fumbled for an answer, always. It is really so difficult to describe the city.

Pune is like a late teenager – kept awake late into the night in the eager anticipation that something is big is about to happen. Who wakes up at departing dawn, with panic thudding in the heart and the unshakeable feeling that she had missed something while she slept.

Pune does not know where to belong. Whether her place is up there, where the lights shine so bright that stars pale in comparison, almost afraid to display their meager show of twinkling light? Where the sky changes robes to an unseeing audience, just because the show must go on! Where laughter rankles like chains on youth who crave for a freedom they didn’t know existed, but believe the illusion they live to be the real freedom instead.

Or maybe she belongs to places where cloudless skies house an open night? Where parrots were not pets but a part of a natural wilderness. Where nights meant lazy stretches after a day of sweating toil. Where mankind nestled into the bosom of nature ignorant and oblivious to the opportunity of technology.

Little does Pune know, that it carves for itself a unique place. She does not belong anywhere, nothing defines her variations. She is an identity by herself. Just like that teenager who walks confused, but determined, on the road which weathers her into a unique existence.

That my friends, is Pune...

Monday, April 21, 2008

Love - not in the times of Cholera :p

I was having this very interesting debate on love. I was trying to convince someone that love existed, despite all odds and under the weirdest of conditions; love did exist. We were not talking of bonds which were forged by blood, like the love of a mother for her child or that of a brother for her sister. We were talking of bonds forged by destiny. We were talking of an addiction to one particular person, an addiction so strong that it transcends space and time to exist in a realm which is quite surreal.

I emphasized it is possible that one particular somebody comes to mean the world to you, that then this person means much more to you than anybody else.

He looked straight into my eyes and asked, “But he does not mean everything, does he?”

Baffled I sat back. For some reason I could not pull my eyes away from him. But I frowned my confusion.

“This… this person, though he means much more to you than anybody else, he does not mean everything, right?” He asked clarifying his point.

I was a bit confused, I shifted in my seat trying to settle this new dust of thought he had whisked up, “Of course he means everything!” I said, determined to hold my fort.

“So this means that one person means everything to you and then the rest of them just don’t matter!” He persisted.

Almost guessing where this point was leading I smiled and said, “ Man is a social animal. So of course the rest do matter! There have to be relations and friends…”

“But they just exits, right?” he cut me short. “This one person means everything to you, so the rest of the world is a mere décor to complete the backdrop?”

“Wrong!” I said getting agitated now. “Don’t be daft! Everybody has a role to play, they exist in your life for a reason. And very honestly, if he cant see their role in my life, then he really can’t be in love with me can he?” I asked, admittedly quite please to have toed my inch towards the winning edge of this now heated discussion.

“But then you are contradicting yourself!” he said, leaning back and already giving me the victor grin. “You said love was unconditional. But you are raising conditions. There is already the IF. IF he loves you then he will.”

“You just want to be difficult!” I said getting completely annoyed. I turned around to fetch my person, because very honestly by this time I wanted out. He might be a good friend, but his thick-headedness was getting to me. If I wanted to preserve our friendship I needed to get away from him and cool down.

He just watched me fumble around and then said in a very straight voice, “I just want to tell you, that you mean everything to me. Not above everybody else, but everything. You are my world and if I have you then I do not need the rest of the world around me.”

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Love in the times of Cholera

Sometimes I feel that we are just about always playing games... Looking for new playthings... And when we find those new playthings we call them friends... The playthings we like better, we call good friends... But sooner or later we get bored of them, and then the relationship comes to a bog that is difficult to get away from... And once in a lifetime, if we find a plaything we do not get bored of too easily, we call it love... Might sound offensive to most people, but then this is what I think sometimes. Sometimes is the operative word. I never say this is the truth, the ultimate truth. neither do I say I believe in it. But sometimes I do think this way. Just give it a thought. Maybe someone else could give me a fresh perspective....

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Returning Home

“Will you be ok, all by yourself?” the boatman asked her with a concerned frown.

“How can I be anything but ok? I have finally come home!” she answered in her laughter filled voice. “Just give me seven days on my own, in the place I love the most. I won’t ever be able to see it this way, ever again! You won’t tell anybody I am here, will you?” she asked, her brown-black eyes pleading to his soft soul.

“But missy, there is no food, there is no water and you don’t even have a key!” the old man voiced his concerns for his beloved mistress yet again.

“I am carrying food,” she said pointing to her back pack, “inside the gate there are fresh water wells, four of them! And I learnt how to draw water from the wells, the day I turned eight.” She sighed and looked towards the massive iron gates, with their intimidating size they really didn’t need a lock to keep visitors away.

But there was a lock, a huge antique iron lock, which must weigh at least seven or eight kilograms, with huge chains hugging it to the gates. And the truth was, she did not have the keys.

“I will get myself in,” she promised both herself and the old man.

“I will wait here till you are safely inside,” the old man said stubbornly.

“And you will return to fetch me only on the seventh day?” she asked, confirming that she would be stranded on her beloved home island for seven complete days.

The old man nodded reluctantly.

She bobbed off after waving him a smiling goodbye. She didn’t go to the gate but went left instead, to where she knew a tree, unidentifiable to most zoologists, had struck roots more than a century ago. Its branches spread far and wide, and one sweet branch found its way over the compound walls of the mansion. It was this branch which was going to get her inside.

Not having climbed a tree in ages, she set about checking the sturdy trunk for firm footings. A scraped knee, a bleeding elbow and fifteen minutes later, she landed with a successful thump on what would have once upon a time, been the vegetable garden of the mansion.

She got to her aching feet and looked around. The sun was already drowning itself in the embrace of a lustrous night. Shedding its jewelery of bronze and gold for the greedy skies to claim, before they stealthily crept away into the night, like thieves proud of their loot. The west side of the mansion stood silhouetted against the red orange skyline, reminding her of a wounded warrior standing proud for one last time, before death sucked his soul away.

It was a dramatic comparison , but so true. This place which had seen her through her childhood summers, this mansion which had once housed glory and grandeur, this ancestral delight which ought to be renovated for the coming generations, would be demolished after seven days.

Yes, it was an expensive mansion to maintain. And years of neglect had covered all its glory. The place was at best a little better than some ancient ruins, yet Cara found it difficult to part with it. She had argued with her parents, even stooped as low as to appeal to the emotional nature of her mother, but eventually had lost it all to logic.

“Nobody lives there anymore. The place if not a tomb, is itself dead. The only thing alive there is wild vegetation! We are being offered a good price for something that worthless!” Her father had stated.

How could anything so alive with memories, be worthless? But she knew they were not rich enough to be able to afford the upkeep of the mansion. Woefully she had seen them sign the papers off to some greedy business man, who would demolish this structure of delight and turn it into some sort of a spa resort.

The location was ideal. Approachable only by the sea, otherwise cut off from the rest of the world. An island, which was not big enough, but not too small either! 75 acres of pure delight stranded in the middle of the sea. Where silence was a language and there was no dearth for company.

A spa!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Something borrowed ... something beautiful...

Chot lagte gaye fasane mein,
Raaz khulte gaye chupane mein;

Roothne ka sabab toh tum jaano,
Hum to masroof hain manane mein;

Tune tinka samajh ke jise bikher diya,
Meri duniya thi us aashiyane mein...

The passion of red

If the phone in her pocket buzzed one more time, she would seriously consider disowning this piece which the population claimed to be one of the best inventions of technology. She had absolutely no idea who would be trying to call her in the midst of a harrowing Monday afternoon.

She crossed one jean-clad leg over another and leaned back in her chair, pretending to listen to her boss rave and rant about her invisible short-comings. It was another mystery in her clueless Monday.

She had woken up feeling distinctly positive about the morning and thus very hopeful of the week which would follow. But out of the bed, is as far as the positive feeling followed her. She had opened her wardrobe to discover that all her ‘work trousers’ had seemingly taken an affinity to the laundry basket. The laundry basket had however stubbornly refused to make it to the washing machine over the weekend! Someone ought to have written a book on laundry psychology! Which left her with but one choice – don on jeans on the one day when your boss would be sure to notice that you were not a mere wall décor!

She had teamed her jeans with a very official looking white shirt and even gone to the extent of ‘corporating’ her look with a black silk scarf. You think that would have helped?

The first thing she walked into her office, she was summoned in by her boss. He had peered at her and said,

“no doubt this is your definition of office wear….”

And the meeting had begun. She was flawed. At least that is what she thought her boss was trying to tell her through his numerous incitations. It was not that she really had made all those many mistakes; it was just that he was having his round of the male equivalent of PMS. He did get these mood swings once every month. Quite regularly.

But today it seemed to stretch on way beyond the normal. She was closeted with him, in this confine of glass for well over two hours, listening and re-listening that, what she had already heard minutes before. What had definitely worsened matters was the peal of her cell-phone.

It began quite innocently five minutes into the meeting. Her boss was in the midst of proving a point when her phone had begun to sing “umbrella- ella …” It did seem rather funny, but she had turned an embarrassing pink. She’d cut the call and smiled apologetically at her boss.

Every five minutes after that the phone needed to be choked into silence as her persistent caller refused to give up. Annoyed she had switched her phone to the silent mode and pushed it into her pocket, where it had buzzed its presence with a dramatic whir.

Her mind was busy wondering who needed to get in touch with her that desperately. At one point her thoughts had led her into an almost panic – nobody was in an accident, right? Quite unconsciously she started twitching her foot, much to the distraction of her boss, who sighed quite melodramatically and said,

“I suppose we should convene the meeting after you have taken that call?”

As if on cue her phone whirred again. She hastily excused herself and not quite out of the room barked an annoyed “yes?” into the phone.

“Hey!” came the hearty reply.

“You would be?” she asked not wanting to be nice to this particular, as yet unidentified, oppressive entity.

“waiting for the past two and a half hours for you to answer your phone, so that I could quite innovatively ask you out for lunch. But innovation is wasted on you, isn’t it?” came the curt reply.

She stared aghast at her phone. Double-checked to see if her eyes and ears were deceiving her, then looked back through the glass panes into the room she had just walked out of. Sure enough her boss was grinning from ear to ear, shaking his cell phone in front of her face.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Good Morning!

Slumber sheds its lazy skin. The mind comes awake behind the lazy curtains of closed eyes. The body tingles as it acknowledges the warm caress of the morning rays. I snuggle deeper into the pillow, seeking its fluffy comfort. The gurgles of the birds float past my ears. A sigh escapes my parted lips; tender and unnoticed. A sigh of contentment.

The eyes still refuse to yield to the gentle nudges of an impatient mind. I lay awake on the bed, still asleep. The dreams linger just on the brink, reluctant to take their leave, but knowing that they must part for the day. The lashes entwined in their passionate embrace, whisper their lazy goodbyes.

As the last vestiges of sleep drag themselves away from me, I open my eyes to drink in the splendor of a glorious morning.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Thriller

She flung the book aside and watched with wide, horror-filled eyes, as the book somersaulted across the coffee table and landed with distinct thud on the pinkish marble floor. She stared at it full five seconds before she turned around, grabbed her coat and slammed the door as she stormed out of her room.

There was a slight drizzle, like the sky was sweating from bruised pores. The crimson-gray wounds plunging the mood of the entire city into a bleary bleakness, which was both stifling and comforting. She pulled the coat more tightly around herself, stretching the leather across her body, almost as if willing the coat to part at it seams. She kept walking. She didn’t seem to know where she was going, she didn’t seem to care.

The bodies of an evening city, buzzed past her in shades of black, uncaring, occupied. Somewhere along the street a group of teenagers had collected for the evening, laughing at some shared joke. The laughter was a muted echo to her packed ears. She stared past them with unseeing eyes, her mind nevertheless registering the unkempt innocence of the teens, before they would be overthrown by waves of adulthood.

She quickened her pace, her boots kicking the droplets of water before they could be absorbed by the stone pavement. Some sort of a let out for her inner turmoil. She stopped at the store and picked up a fresh cigarette. She lit it with shaking hands. She started walking again, the long drags doing their best to calm her strained nerves. She felt really silly about sucking on a potential killer to give her some easy breaths, but then that was life for you, you squeeze the most out of death itself.

She realized her walk had taken her a full circle and she stood once again facing her door. Water dribbled of in lazy rivulets, down the length of her jacket and onto the floor. She stared at the growing puddle near her feet, like blood from an exit wound. She sighed and as if accepting the inevitable walked back into her room.

For eternal moments she sat on the couch, her feet tucked under her. Her eyes unfocused staring at some point on the floor, seemed to mirror her conflict as she made up her mind. She shook her head and picked up the book. Once again.

She never understood why she read thrillers. The chase always made her nervous. And the utter futility of her actions and her sense of desperation because she could not warn the victim always got to her. But she read on, she had to know what happened in the end!

Oh! The thrill of reading!