Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The book shop

pic courtesy: http://vi.sualize.us

A lot was going on in the bookshop.
That moment.
When their eyes met.
Some toddler toddled over comic books, some customer cussed over flimsy looks.
In some time came a benign smile, call it a lifetime, call it a while. 
In a silly move, he waved at her, and quickly regretted his demeanor.

A woman ran her finger over the lines, as another held two books by their spines.
In a flash he was a nostalgic mess of those wonderful times of togetherness.
Hadn't he grown over that hurtful phase? Those depressing nights and doleful days?

A rude old woman made the owner bark, silence met a worthy counterpart.
She faked a blink and another two, to make for time to say hello.
Wallowed in a vacuum of words and yet, enjoyed this silent tete-a-tete.

A five hundred pounder plunked on the couch, while the poor furniture stymied an ouch!
And just when they were exchanging smiles, she eagerly tried to read his eyes. 
A lot had changed from those times, from hearty talks to subtle signs.

The cat meowed and tried to pounce, only to miss the bookish mouse.
So this is it, she thought and sighed, there's no running away and nowhere to hide.
Then slowly touching her pouting belly, she sent a message specifically.

The beeper howled in dire protest, when a shop lifter din't try his best.
His nod told her he understands the weight of the current circumstance.
They were now beyond realms of heart, within arm's reach, yet world apart.

The corny owner strained to find some contentment and peace of mind.
"The one who stole from me is dead!", he flung a thesaurus on the crook's head.
He whacked the lights out of the pawing cat, and marched to where the fatso sat.
He growled and ask the man to leave and the sofa heaved a sigh of relief.

The hag meanwhile had zipped her lips to save her dentures and a dented hip.
The others who toyed with his precious books were now reminiscing the vows they took.
While a lot happened, just two of them stood, and weren't bothered as they have should.
Wonder, whether they would ever forget, that moment, when their eyes met.

Poorna-Chandra I (Work in Progress)

Chandra held her father's hands between hers and waited. She was somewhere in the middle of having overlooked and realizing that maybe he had not held his breath to recall something in the middle of a sentence. That was all he had to say. She closed her eyes and pictured him sitting on his charpoy in the little canopy outside their house in Vellore. His face was serene, eyes sealed, taking a moment to pay respect to the Goddess of music as the class started. She smiled and then froze. She opened her eyes and tightened her grip on his hand. Dont. Dont go. Not now. Not when i need you the most....

                  **********************************************************

She kept the steaming cup of kaapi for Murali on the table. He stood near the parapet smoking, gaping at the sky. She waited near the table for his eyes to come find her. And before she could justify this to her conscience, she felt repulsed for having hoped so. She quickly turned and walked away. There was no one in this world who could placate her her torn soul. After years of having been tortured by life, this was almost absolutely normal. The sorrow of Appa's death was deeper than all of that. He was the only one who knew the real her - of what she was capable of doing and what she was not. As for Murali, she would have to wait a little bit more before she unleashed the truth on to him.

She was in the middle of her bath when she heard her voice. "Has she left?", she was perhaps asking the maid. "She is taking a bath." said the other voice. Chandra wiped her body, taking time to watch the towel move on the scars on her hands and back. She clothed herself and wrapped the towel on her wet hair. She went to the kitchen and with trembling hands searched for a knife. Slowly, she walked out on the corridor towards her room. She was waiting there. Chandra kept her cool, though her heart was beating wildly. 

"Why haven't you left yet?", the woman asked. "Haven't you had enough of disrupting the peace of this house? I know you would do everything possible to embarrass me apart from just being alive, which is even more unbearable."

Chandra stood there, listening.

"And your face... your ugly face.. repulses me. If only i could tear it apart and prevent myself from looking at a perverted version of myself."

Oh she agrees Im a version of her, Chandra wondered, amused.

"You... are you smiling? Ha! I knew you always wanted Appa dead. You criminal! You killed him you know that? You killed him!", she shouted, barging forward in anger.

Chandra took out the knife from under the folds of her sari and shoved it in the air. The woman froze, her eyes ready to pop out of her face.

"Don't test my patience. If i can do it once, i can do it again...." Chandra slowly said, her eyes not leaving the woman's face.

Then the widened eyes narrowed. The corners of the woman's lips curved into a wicked smile. "You know what? I know you never did it. I always knew. But you had to go, so i lied. You freak."

"You are mistaken, Poornima. I did it. I killed Aaralan Tambi. And i let you believe you lied. All these years, i let you believe you won. But know this today.. you hadn't. And you never will, my dear sister." said Chandra.

Hearing her name erupt from Chandra's mouth was a little unnerving for her - Poornima.... besides the fact that she was looking at a drawn out knife and staring at a fact that what she believed she had set up was not a set up after all. She stormed out of the room, both extremely irate and frightened what more she may have to witness if she stayed put.

Chandra continued to stare blankly where Poornima had stood a fraction of a second ago... a whiff of her sister's perfume made way into her nostrils as she swept past her, bewildered.

"We could have ended up so fine, Poornima...", Chandra said to herself, clenching the knife to her bosom, ".. if only could you unlove yourself a bit and unhate me a bit."

                ***************************************************************

Chandra and Poornima were born in the month of February of a certain leap year. At least one could say they both had... except that Chandra came into this world a few seconds after Poornima... a few seconds into the very next last of the month - the 29th. From what Chandra had heard her Paatti say, it was as if the devil had entered the room, for her mother, Savitriamma, who was just fine till then suddenly developed convulsions and lost her consciousness. She never recovered from that state thereafter. She hadn't died but wasn't alive either. She would just lie on the bed staring at the ceiling, her lifeless torso and limbs seemingly just a part of a soul which had decided to stay 'undead'. Due to obvious lack of medical explainations for this occurence, the practitioners planted the idea of ill-fate and bad luck and conveniently made the younger of the twins the bearer of this burden for the rest of her life.
Chandra never understood how she, who had no apparent role in even her birth, could be held responsible for her mother's condition. There were times during her childhood when she would sit beside her mother's motionless body and search for answers in her eyes. And when tears would roll out of her mother's eyes, she would realise she was not the only one trapped in the pangs of destiny. The innocent woman who gave birth to her was also in hopeless pain, and agony she never could share. But she knew Chandra's pain and Chandra knew hers. Without having heard her, Chandra would know her mother loved her. And that she dint hold her responsible for her state. Little Chandra would then hug the cold torso of her mother and cry for hours.


To be continued...

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Untamed Quest

Pic courtesy: www.cordair.com

In my quest to do something utterly intellectual I end up with things that are so mundane and archaic that my head splits with pain. There are some evident drops of guilt and disgust. Wish there were something.. even a vision of things that may be remotely close to what I secretly admire and dream of.. Weird is the fact that no one knows about it.... weirder still, they remain a secret to me too. Yet, at times of surreal moments of truth, I realize I have such a long way to go that it seems as if this journey is perennial. When I look up at other beings (my vanity, I must admit) I realize that it is an inexorable attribute of nature to pin us down as seemingly lesser mortals. Alas, if only I could point at nature alone for having conspired against me... for there is an existence beyond it that knows and acknowledges this and also plots against my vain existence.. waiting to entrap my mind which limps helplessly beyond what they call normal.. into profanity... as if dancing to the tunes of the one that stands in the shadows. Is it me, or does the silhouette actually look fiercely familiar to someone I know... or maybe used to? I don't think I want to know. Let me be here. In this dark room. When the time comes, and I have enough in my arsenal, I shall leap out. Oh what? You say it may be an ambush? Wait till you see how I ambush thee. Soon, I shall be out. Till then, let me be.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Etched - III (Contd.)

"....b√£chao!...."
"....agun legechhe!..."
"... bhoy peyo na, bhoy peyo na..."
"...thamun!..."
"Golu da!!....."
"..baba.. darun lagchhe, baba.. baba, mili kothay, baba?... baba?"

He sat up on his bed, pushing away his blanket, breathing hard. Trying to make way for air, he scrambled out and struggled to switch on the light. He blinked and stared blankly at the clock.. it was almost 3 a.m. Catching his breath, he ambled to his desk, slumped into the chair and put his head down ignoring his sodden T-shirt and shaky hands and the ominous residue of a nightmare which never seemed to leave him despite all these years.

When he got up in the morning, Shondeep was already late for the ritualistic jog. After a quick bath, he rushed to the kitchen where Ratnamma was busy preparing breakfast and readying 'tiffin' which he would later carry to work. 
"Shuprobhat, Shondeep babu!", she faked, in Bangla. Ratnamma was originally from Tanjavore, married to Bakul Da who was Baba's man Friday, the all in all when it came to errands and chores at his home. Nobody considered or treated them as servants, though. 
"Good morning, amma", greeted Shondeep. He served himself spoonfuls of chirer pulao, and walked into the living room where Choto Kaku sat reading the newspaper.
"Golu! how come you are late? Hurry  up, come on!", cried Kaku.
"Yeah, dont worry, ill get out in time.. Where's Baba?" Shondeep asked him. Kaku shifted his weight to his left and sniffed. "He's in his room. He said he wanted to talk to you about something." Kaku emphasised, in English. 
Shondeep knew it had to be something serious. Kaku spoke in English only when things were beyond mundane.. things he felt he couldn't explain in Bangla without getting sentimental about it.
"I'll talk to Baba on the way.", he replied, gulping some water to wash down unchewed chirer pulao
"Baba! Come fast! We're getting late!"
*******************************************************************************************************
Etched - I
Etched - II