If we had time to ‘stand and stare’…

We sat there on the road by the lake, in the dark. We sat there looking on the silhouettes of motorboats floating still in the murky waters of the lake. It was day two. It was our first time…

We sat there for hours, contemplating on and off about the same things (maybe), without any conversation. Things didn’t seem to trouble me as much in the quiet of the night. The only worry then seemed to be that nights were shorter than days. We looked on the emerging shapes and colors of the boats as we were about to fall off the brink of yet another tranquil night into the horrors of the day.

As the morning began to unfold it brought with it beams of sunlight and people onto the road by the lake. The kind of people that plug music into their ears. People who venerate music and enslave it at the same time. People who can afford to walk and jog every morning and also, choose music for unobservant company. Sunshine streamed through the fog and foliage and fell on the road in warm patches. We looked on the road as one man walked right into a sunny patch opposite us. He turned towards us and glanced for a moment, briskly pulled out a device from his shoulder-bag, and pointed it at us with a firm hand. Assassination? Before I could scream, “There must’a been a mistake…”, he held it across his face and clicked, with what was only his camera, a bright flash at the lake behind us. He didn’t look back at the lake or us. He walked on, looking at the digital image, busily assessing the beauty of the representation of the lake and (possibly) cropping our heads out to enhance the same. Nature photography. One of those men with a morbid taste in nature, I thought.

We looked on as a hefty woman walked past us with long strides, with sweat beads running down from head to toe. She had two tiny dogs, on a leash, walking ahead of her, seeming to guide her way while she prepared a mental list of ‘things to do at work today’ with eyes shut. A few meters behind her we noticed a little girl, slightly smaller than her two pretty dogs, running-limping-stumbling. The girl was the woman’s daughter, neither old enough to grasp the technique of tying a knot in the shoelace, nor loud enough to intercept her mother’s thoughts hard at work, she was struggling to keep pace. As if on a long invisible leash tied to her mother’s broad waist, the little girl continued to be dragged along.

After the early morning hours were wasted thus on these indifferent populations of the big city, the day got hotter and the people more indifferent. Different sorts of vehicles, a few without air-conditioning systems, substituted the early morning joggers and walkers on the road. We
looked on as a motor-bike zoomed past us, on it the man with the camera. He seemed not too pleased with the sun or the trees or the traffic. After a short while, owing to a logjam somewhere down the road, a car came to a stop near us. The car was as huge as any of the boats in the lake, except it wasn’t chock full of people as the boats were then. In it were the mother and daughter from the early morning scene, being driven to work and school, respectively, by their uniformed driver. The mother spoke into her mobile phone and seemed displeased with getting late for work. The daughter stared out of the car towards the boats in the lake and seemed not too pleased with going to school. As the jam cleared, the car passed hurriedly with many other vehicles to offices and schools and other such places amid chaos, smoke and grossly unheeded music playing here and there.

For six long days, we looked on and on at that never-ending loop of people, without an exchange of word or emotion, till we began to feel hungry, feel alive, feel like going to work with them to earn our daily bread. My wife and I vacated the bench that very moment to go home from our successful little vacation and prepared to go to office. Our boss would be happy to see us
’emotionally charged‘ again, said my wife, breaking the ice. The next batch of colleagues took our place on the bench for the next six days, next to other such ‘vacation benches‘ placed there for employees of other companies…to sit and stare.

I was not surprised to see my wife happy to be back in the loop, back to being semi-human, as I drove our small car to office, with air-conditioning turned on. But in my heart I realized I was not ‘emotionally charged‘ to go to work, I would never be, I didn’t enjoy what I saw, what I was, I was not programmed  as the others were; I was not like my wife; she didn’t see things as I saw that early morning, she never did, she enjoyed what she saw – she was motivated by the sight of the woman who was obsessed with her work, by the sight of the photographer who was only concerned with his boss’s comments on his nature photographs; the vacation bench works for everyone. Not for me. I’m defective. I feel more dead, more horrified every time I sit and stare at what the world has turned into … because my defect, my dark secret is that I’m completely human.

Those little blue forget-me-nots…

“Sometime in the future I will meet her again and tell her how much I love her, only that it won’t mean so much to her anymore, probably nothing at all.” Are these lines from a movie? God knows.
If God was really there…okay, well, I shouldn’t go there as I promised my therapist that I won’t, not even if I was just talking to my dog. Anyway, the issue is that I hate it when I forget names, faces, quotes from books and movies and so on. People forget things, it’s natural, she said. Well, I hate that they do, I hate it more when I do. So, she asked me if I hated something  more specific than mere human forgetfulness. It got me thinking. I like visiting her, my shrink, though I don’t prefer to call her that because it reminds me of “shrinking violets”; frankly, I hate it, I don’t feel too comfortable thinking of all the fancy terms that people I know might be using to refer to me in their own private lives, when they are too lazy to put just that bit of effort into at least pretending to recollect my name. As they grow up, some human beings tend to develop mechanisms, mental contraptions, to adapt to the ways of the world; in this context, they learn to utter out loud, with the airs of supreme conviction, four words: “I-forgot-his-name”, just so that their soul which is hiding in some dark, depressing, clammy closet of the apartment, or the castle, or whatever, could hear it and be fooled, for the mind of its owner is deadly ambitious to lead the rest of the people in his company, also, to believe that he is so accomplished to allow himself to think of another human being
as “not worth remembering” even when the reality is that almost every single day he is haunted by this person’s memories. So when such people are supposedly talking to their friends, family, friends of friends like this: “Hey mate, you remember that guy from high school. Oh damn, I-Forgot-His-Name…the shrinking violet…um, the guy who was too shy to open his lunchbox at school…yeah, I think I saw him somewhere yesterday”, then I think to myself, “Oh, it is indeed shameful, so painful, human folly.”
Today, I met my therapist again, and I told her NOT how much I loved her but something else. I said, “What I hate the most is not when people tend to forget but when people pretend to forget.”


The following story and all the characters in the story are purely fictitious…

“Nowadays, every five minutes or so, I have to keep telling myself that it is not the end of the world.
Things seem to be going wrong almost EVERYDAY.
                      Like, three weeks back, I had the biggest fight ever with my boyfriend, on Valentine’s day, and as a result, we broke up after promising never to see each other again. And there is absolutely no hope of getting back together because long before the break-up, we reached a point where we couldn’t stand each other’s company for more than a minute. In fact the only thing that was holding us both together till then was the Valentine’s week’s excitement…yeah, weird as it may sound, we exchanged teddy bears, chocolates, and stuff, just like any other couple in love. He is smart but, I guess he is just incapable of love. I’m feeling better that I got out of that meaningless relationship anyway.
                       Just last week,  after a long series of disputes, my parents finally decided to separate forever. I tried desperately to settle things between them. They seemed just too immature to do anything about peacefully solving their silly problems and misunderstandings. Even if I’m their child, it is not like I can’t comprehend the problems faced by two working people in their married life. I had relationships too. They wouldn’t listen to anybody… not even my grandparents. Fine.
                       And two days back, I had the greatest shock of my life when I got a call from mum about my little sister…sis met with an accident, she said, when she was crossing the road. She got hit by a motorcycle. It was Saturday night and I was hanging out with my friends when mum called. I immediately drove down to the hospital, crying and sobbing all the way. I found her with mum and poor mum looked very disturbed. Sis was fine, after all, no major injuries. 
                       Yesterday, I finally found the time to go to the tattoo place that my friends have suggested. I parked my new car outside. It is silvery blue in colour and I still have to christen it. My dad bought it for my birthday last month. It was a surprise actually. My best birthday surprise ever! Well, I went in and got my favourite fairy tattoo on my wrist. My first tattoo! I came out in flying colours and hell! I didn’t notice the tiny Latin lettering on the wings of the fairy. I got it pierced into my skin without noticing the details. I rushed back in to know what it meant, hoping it was something nice…atleast something sensible. The woman translated it to me, with the dirtiest smirk on her face; she said, “It is ‘Hairy fairy’.” I came back out to the parking space, feeling horrible. And bloody hell! My car! Its left tail light cover came off and was lying on the ground. It got hit by something. But thank heavens, just some minor scratches in the rear…fine!
                         And, for the latest mishap, believe it or not, today morning, when I was on the phone with my best friend, wishing her ‘Happy Women’s Day’, the most disastrous thing ever happened to me- my first period. I didn’t want it to happen so soon. I mean, I’m just 13.”

Happy Women’s Day!!

…also, this story is a spinoff from the discussion with a friend on ‘teen freedom, how childhood is changing, and the transition from childhood to adulthood happening too soon in teenagers nowadays’

On a single piece of creative writing..

The following is my entry into the ‘Seven Samurai’ contest conducted by the English Literary Society, IIT-K, in the summer vacation, year 2009. [‘Seven Samurai’ challenge: To write a 100 word story. 7 words are already given. The story should be written in 93, or less than 93 words of choice AND the 7 given words as they are, without changing form (eg. noun remains noun) and without removing context (eg. “Stegophilist is a word I do not like.” is not allowed). The 7 words and their meanings are: stegophilist = n. One who likes to climb buildings; cruciverbalist = n. One who loves crosswords; dactylion = n. The tip of the middle finger; alopecia = n. Hair loss; defenestration = n. An act of throwing someone or something out of a window; exophagy = n. The practice, amongst cannibals, of not eating one’s relatives or members of one’s tribe; gossypiboma = n. A surgical sponge accidently left inside a patient’s body]

I’m Jack, stegophilist by passion;
bound in marriage by parental exertion
to a cruciverbalist, Jill, without option.

We were fine, no doubt about it,
until each discovered the other’s deficit.
A missing dactylion wouldn’t have mattered a bit,
but what’s missing’s her right tit.

Likewise she intensely loathes my alopecia.
I tried everything- aloe to acacia;
travelled to the deserts of Central Asia…
…found no cure; couldn’t stop causing her constant nausea

Affection long discarded mutually by mental defenestration,
we’re like cannibals following exophagy by tradition.
Disgust’s perpetuating like cancerous cardiac gossypiboma
Friends, marriage between strangers can be ultimate trauma!

 This story is exactly 100 words long. The contest was open for about 45 days. I guess the entries never reached the judges, or received prizes or any form of acknowledgement. Nonetheless, it is the only thing I attempted to write that summer and managed to.

Emily and Sam

I never kept a personal diary when I lived with my parents for I was too afraid they or someone else might come across it. Infact there was never anything so abnormal and secretive about my life as to induce such fear. I had three little brothers and two little sisters with whom I shared everything- books, television, home and parents- except my thoughts or ideas; I was the oldest and way too older than the rest of them. I just preferred to keep my thoughts to myself mostly. Though I had always felt the urge to record my feelings about people and things, I didn’t manage to do so. The notion of writing it in a book and keeping it away from everybody’s sight occurred to me as unsafe and scary. There was a time when I’d experienced such dynamic thoughts about life, death, sexuality running through my head that I contemplated seriously about a way to store them. There was nothing as a private space at home. In those days there was no knowledge of the cyberspace, no computers, no kids with private mail accounts or secret passwords, and no teenagers with direct access to graphic, hardcore pornography at home. It was a simple way of life but not all that good…
By the end of high school, I had developed a full-fledged crush on the most beautiful girl in my class. Emily. She looked like one of those angel-faced actresses of 50s Hollywood. She was an impersonation of everything delicate I could think of. She intrigued me. I pined for her. Well, those days I resorted to cigarettes and weed, listening to music with pals on sunny rooftops. Tobacco, love songs or friends didn’t relieve the pain but surely helped in exaggerating my love for Emily. I longed for her more than anything else. I wanted something, anything- her telephone number, a photo, a chance conversation, or a piece of thread from the frills of her satin blouse- anything to treasure as a token of love, to remember the emotion for the rest of my life. We didn’t have the internet to send “friend requests” or “unfriend” people at the click of a button and share pictures of ourselves and friends. I couldn’t afford a personal camera to carry around at all times and secretly capture her tender image. Neither was I so brave as to steal the polaroid one in my dad’s study. Instead I attempted to capture her beauty in my hopelessly amateur poetry. But then I was too ashamed of my writing to not tear apart the page after writing a line or two. Very soon the time of graduation came and went by.
I moved to the city for my higher education. As I grew up, time had faded the memories of Emily and also the memories of my failed attempts to confront her on graduation day. After four brief, blissful years of academic training, self-discovery, and boundless freedom of thought and expression, I graduated. Almost simultaneously I landed a job. I started working and very soon bought an apartment for myself. I enjoyed the time at work; had made friends with some great chaps in my office. Life was easy and comfortable; six to seven months just flew by that
One pleasant Saturday morning, it being a holiday, I woke up late and strolled to a cafe in my neighbourhood to grab some coffee. It was then that I had this amazing life-changing moment. I met Emily. I couldn’t believe myself. For ten distinct seconds of time I shuttled between different spaces of memory and was benumbed by what stood before me. It was Emily. It was my Emily. Somehow I could still think that she was mine, even after such a long time. After all, it was me who belonged to her. Anyway, I walked right across the room and introduced myself. She also, surprisingly, instantly recognised me as the classmate of one of her cousins in high school. She invited me to sit at her table for a chat. I was elated, ecstatic, overjoyed and what not. We had a good chat over coffee and cookies. Oh my, she was an adorable creature. She told me that she moved to the city for work. And, much more fascinating was the fact that she moved into the flat right opposite to mine in the apartments.
We soon became really good friends and had a great time together doing things we really liked. Though most of our likes and dislikes didn’t match, we understood each others opinions on a lot of issues. Both of us were into photography. We sent our photos to magazines and contests. We won prizes; we celebrated. Life was easy and exciting. Time just flew by.
One fine Saturday afternoon, enjoying a lazy holiday, we strolled to the cafe in the neighbourhood to grab some lunch. It had been an year since we first met each other there. Sitting there, remembering all the happy times we saw together in the past one year, looking at each other, sipping hot coffee, we together realized that we were deeply in love with each other. We were just made inseparable by everything that we remembered that had passed between us in that one year. We were happy for finding each other. We ate our lunch, held hands and walked back to our flats, all the while just smiling at each other.
Ever since then we were in love.
Now we are happily married with two beautiful daughters, Emily Jr., named after Emily, and Samantha Jr., named after me. We feel really blessed everytime our kids kiss us goodnight and say, “We love you mommies!”