Aslam

Aslam sells Panipuri at the nearby circle. Over our various meetings, we have become decent friends which has resulted in him offering me free dry puchkas as many as I want and in return, I offer him my time as much as he desires.

Aslam had been missing from his spot for nearly a month. This past Saturday, I saw him again, a bit healthier with a bigger face. His beard had grown considerably. He was smiling more and looked happy in general. When his eyes went on me, he waved at me to come over. With a paper plate in my hands, I inquired him about his absence. He blushed and showed me his ring. I didn’t need to have dinner that evening. He stuffed me enough with his ‘wedding treat’ of free puchkas.

God bless him.

(Image for representation only)

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A Sabbatical

It has been a while. A sabbatical was needed. I was taking too much pressure and things were not exactly working out. I have not checked my Facebook in past four weeks. Twitter, Instagram and other ‘important’ places are silent too. Maybe I will do that one by one, maybe not for a few more days. It feels good. I feel fresh, new, myself. As if the rains that have pestered my side of the earth in recent times have washed me too.  I have been writing meanwhile nevertheless, just not going out with my work.

I don’t feel I missed enough though. The World is still a good and bad place to live. We all have our reasons.

I began the practice again yesterday with an open mic and a writer’s gathering. It is always good to see, meet, hug real people.
It was a busy, bustling day. I returned home tired, exhausted and drenched in rain and crashed immediately.

I hope better things await us.

Sleeping child

Last evening I was riding the government bus. While I was looking outside the window, something fell on my lap. It was a child’s head. I looked sideways. On the seats beside me, sat a couple and their 5-year-old. Of course, the five-year-old had fallen asleep and hence fallen on my lap. The parents looked embarrassed. They were trying to wake him up. I insisted not to. They were not from a well off family. They had gone to the city to buy groceries from the flea market. The father had an old worn off shirt while the mother had an ordinary saree. The child, however, was wearing nice denim pants and a red shirt. His sandals had fallen somewhere and they were looking for it. Meanwhile, the child kept sleeping. He was not embarrassed for being a poor guy. He was not embarrassed for dozing off in the bus on a stranger’s lap. He was a child in a true sense.

When their stop came, the father lifted him and took him off me. The mother followed with his sandals in her hands and groceries.

I kept looking at the sleeping child till they boarded off. 

I wish just like the child, we too didn’t feel embarrassed about who we are. Tough to do, I know, but possible.

Mistaken Identity

And then, as I stood there, the door behind me opened. A black, Arabic, pock-marked, elderly gentleman came into the room, and I knew instantly that this was the man I had been mistaken for. He had the quiet and unmistakable authority of being who he was, in real in-law. And my first shock was that I looked nothing like him at all.

I was younger, fresher, better looking. I had vigor and freedom. I wasn’t trapped by tradition. I was lithe. I could go any which way. I had many futures open to me. This man seemed weighed down. There was an air about him of one whose roles were fixed. He was, in the worst sense of the word, middle-aged; with no freedom, even to think independent thoughts. All this I sensed in a flash but realized only afterward. I was profoundly shocked to have been mistaken for this man.

Belonging, Ben Okri

Dungeon

All men needed to hear their stories told. He was a man, but if he died without telling the story he would be something less than that, an albino cockroach, a louse. The dungeon did not understand the idea of a story. The dungeon was static, eternal, black and a story needed motion and time and light. He felt his story slipping away from him, becoming inconsequential, ceasing to be. He has no story. There was no story. He was not a man. There was no man here. There were only the dungeon and the slithering dark.

Enchantress Of Florence, Salman Rushdie

 

(Featured Image- Prisoner of Chillon, Ferdinand Victor Eugene Delacroix)

 

Nightmare

I was not able to sleep last night. There was a dream which kept my mind busy. A nightmare actually.

There is an ancient city. A citadel stands in front of me. I am a visitor, a foreigner. My hair is black and bag is green. I wear a rudraksha necklace. I have never worn a rudraksh
necklace in my life. Demons are walking past me, looking at me with curious eyes. They are eating human flesh while they walk past me. Human legs and human hands.

One thing leads to other and I find myself in a duel with a great 6 (or 8) headed demon.

He is black, kinda cartoonish with round, circular eyes and only canines. He is like a Disney monster. He has held me in his claws and is now playing with me like a ragdoll. I am getting a vertigo. My head hurts. People are laughing at me. They are cruel people, with cruel intentions. They like hurting other humans. Maybe they are monsters too, disguised under human faces.

My entire life comes in front of my eyes. I see my present self. I am sleeping, I can see. I can’t sleep and I can see that too. From my dream I see what’s happening to me. I can smell the sweat on my body and also the wet ground outside the window. It has been raining you see.

Am I seeing the dream or the dream is seeing me?

Have I gone mad?

It is too much to take. 

Tired of this tyranny, my brain forces me to wake up. It is 6 am.

 

Featured Image –  Kajuya Ajimoto (Walpurgis Night, 2007)

#13. First Rains

The sky has turned red and the first rains have arrived. Somewhere behind the clouds the Sun is sheltered, panting heavily.

Wind is fast, furiously running here and there making a lot of noise. A sudden mum has conquered the roads less taken and more. Some people have stopped their attempt of escape –which was futile anyway– and are now strolling, dancing slowly, hand in hand.  They will sneeze and cough later and they know for it is the first rain but they don’t care. They are ready to fly with the wind. Their hats and skirts are leading the way. The trees are hastily shedding the old pale leaves, naked and ready for the new ones. They shiver like everyone else. It is cold and clumsy everywhere. The city is no more a city and the dessert is no more a dessert. All is now one and one is all.

Those who have bunked offices and schools today, peep out of their windows, with hot tea and warm hearts. They are praying, thanking their stars.

The sky has turned red and the first rains have arrived. Everything will change. At least for now.

Featured Image- Rain Storm Union Square (Childe Hassam)