The Trick

The firing had stopped hours before, yet here they were huddled behind the broken wall like a couple of kids scared of the monsters beneath their beds. Ari craved for a cigarette but feared that the light of the matchstick might give his position away. He looked at the road, bodies torn apart strewn like an angry child’s victim. It was curious how he could no longer smell the rotting carcasses. Perhaps his mind was protecting him, a cocoon to encircle him from the brutality of the world, or perhaps it had simply become overloaded to the point of a constant numbness.

Beside him Serge started to cough. Alarmed, Ari stifled his cough with a strategically placed hand on Serge’s mouth. Serge jerked violently, his eyes streaming but Ari didn’t let go. Soon the coughing fit passed.

“Thanks”, Serge gasped, wiping away the tears from his cheeks. Ari nodded in understanding. Discretion was their only weapon and without that they would be dead in minutes.

Ari looked at Serge’s face and remembered how beautiful his smile was in the photograph he had shown. But war is a petty goddess who demanded it as an offering. Serge got hit by shrapnel on the second day of bombings and his face got the brunt of it. But instead of being relieved of duty, he was patched up, like broken china with quick glue, and sent back with the next dispatch.

And that was how Ari met Serge, with a blood soaked bandage on one side of his face, scared shitless but yet somehow determined to fight for the cause. The cause…, what was it? Ari had some difficulty recalling it. He remembered how he almost fanatically enlisted in the army to fight for the cause. But now today, that cause was a blurred memory from the past. He could not think what he fought for, only that he has to fight till it gets over one way or another.

“I think I can see some movement,” Serge whispered.

“Where?”

“Look closely, top floor of the building to your right,” Serge answered.

Ari put on his glasses and squinted. At first he saw nothing. Then slowly what he thought of was an house plant moved. It was the sniper in camouflage.

“So? What’s the plan? ” inquired Serge.

“We wait for the night to fall and then we move.”

Serge let out a disgruntled moan. Ari thought of saying something but stopped. This was not a time to fight over trivialities. Ari had watched his fellow soldiers one by one being devoured by the beast of war. It had hunted them, slowly, painfully, gnawing with its draconian teeth, morsel by morsel, till it had swallowed them, whole skin, meat and bones.

Now only the two of them remained. Had they met under different circumstances, would they still have been friends, Ari wondered. Perhaps not, Serge was too loud and bawdy for his tastes. He probably would have cursed him under his breadth and moved on. But war has a strange way of throwing together complete strangers in a grinder and letting it rip full throttle until it was one thick mixture.

“You know, my mother always dreamt of visiting this city,” Serge spoke softly, breaking Ari’s reverie. “To her, it was the ultimate pilgrimage.”

“What happened to her?” asked Ari.

“War” he sighed. “She worked as a part time teacher to gather money for the pilgrimage, when one Monday morning a bomb decided to take her for its own.”

Ari looked around and felt glad somewhat that Serge’s mother never got to see this city in its current state. Everything went away with the first air raid. The temples, the people and the warmth. Now all that remained were soldiers and dogs having a lavish feast amidst these crumbling walls.

Night fell and they decided to make a move. They had an upper hand of knowing the sniper’s location and with a careful eye on the sniper they crouched out of their hiding place and made way towards the base of the building. They moved in quiet precision. They were almost at the base. Serge looked at Ari and beamed crookedly at him.

Suddenly blood spurt out Serge’s chest, his smile disappearing as he stumbled and fell. Ari swiveled on the spot reflexively and hid behind the nearby car. Serge was lying in a pool of blood, moving feebly, lit dimly by the bent lamp post. Ari understood. There had to be a second sniper. It was all a ploy. To give away the position of one of the snipers so as to give them a false sense of security.

Serge was trying to reach around his neck. Ari tried to bring him behind the car but the sniper fired out a shot just missing him. Serge broke something, a small vial hanging like a necklace from his neck. He smashed it against the road and started rubbing the greyish powdery contents on the ground.

“Look Ma, we are here at last,” he said and then moved no more, his eyes looking at the stars above.

Ari stared at the corpse. He did not feel any sorrow nor any pain. All he felt was a sense of inevitability. He just lay there behind the car. The sun rose and set but Ari did not move. He kept on staring at the corpse. There were things that he would have traded happily just to step out of this diorama of death. Things, which he once held close to his heart, things which had defined him, shaped him and then become irrelevant to him. Like trinkets held dear by a child, tucked away in a box, hidden under the bed. In this continuous scream of nails scratching against metal, all he wanted, all he desired was a little bit of peace.

He remembered of all of sudden watching as a child Peter O’ Toole’s Lawrence calmly explaining, “The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts.”

The next morning he stood up with a final certainty and started walking. He was ready to feel the impact of the bullet on his chest like a hammer blow by a blacksmith. His face had a smile. The smile shared by soldiers and terrorists alike having lost the fear of oblivion.

But no impact came. The only thing that touched him was the cool morning breeze. His resolution broke as uncertainty and fear crept in. He had accepted death as his fate but this uncertainty shook him. He saw a glimmer of Hope and Hope being a treacherous mistress brought along with it the blood curdling fear of death. His walk changed to a sprint and he ran, ashamed, bewildered and afraid for his life, without looking back.

Perhaps, Lawrence was wrong. Perhaps the trick is minding the hurt, accepting it and then moving ahead making it a part of you.

The snipers on the other hand had been called off a night ago.

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Love, Darling.

“I was walking along the road with two friends – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.”
Edward Munch.

The sky was a dying pale red, as if the sun was trying to claw its way out of a dead womb. The bleak red shone on the icy snow and painted the picture red as if an artist had become fed up and thrown the entire can of paint on the canvass. The roads were empty, the chilling cold forcing people to hide in their blankets by the fires. And here he was, on his corner, dressed in rags, worried.

Nobody knew who he was or where did he come from. One day he had suddenly appeared and occupied the narrow lane as if it had been his birthplace. At first everyone thought that he was yet another beggar and every now and then they threw some coins at him out of pity. But this source of ‘income’ stopped when they found out that he was just wasting the money on the next fix.

Today, he felt worried. His body had become impervious to the cold and only cared about a single thing. He wondered when it would start again. The urge, the tremble in his fingers that slowly consumed his whole body, the aching for the fix. Oh Heroin you sweet sweet death! He could not remember a time when he was not addicted to it. His only possessions included a steel syringe and a spoon to boil the drug. Everything else had either been pawned or sold to buy more of that irreplaceable vice. A few years back he had even ventured into the new street drugs to measure their potency but none of them could hold a candle to his darling.

He was worried because he had run out of it. Usually he used to follow some cheap scheme to get enough money to buy his daily fix, but it seemed that his luck had run out today. He started trembling as the urge began to rear its ugly head. He knew it would only get worse. After the years he had been on heroin, going cold turkey would be fatal. He grabbed a handful of snow and stuffed his mouth with it. The cold will distract the mind. And it worked, if only for a few minutes. The cold dug into his head like a miner chiseling a stone block. But instead of diverting his mind, the cold combined with his urge, barged noisily like a drunken giant into the deepest crevices of his brain, breaking everything in between, till he vomited a bloody ice ball and fell unconscious on the cold earth.

When he woke up night had fallen and another foot of snow had fell. He heard the barkeep nearby shouting for last call and got up. The need had worsened. Something had to be done if he wanted to survive the night. Desperate times called for desperate measures. He picked up a piece of broken glass and set on in the cold night.

The roads were deserted and only few shops were open still. He worried whether his dealer will still be around. But first he had to do something about the money. Suddenly he felt a tugging at his coat. He looked down and saw a boy no more than five looking up to him. The boy was dressed very smartly and had very bright eyes.

“Mister, can you help me?” the boy asked.

“Get lost, boy!” he rasped. He had no time for any childish adventures. His brain felt like a nuclear reactor ready to blow off as he stared at the boy with his bloodshot eyes.

The boy became frightened and broke into a sob at this sudden outburst. The boy’s each sob felt like an explosion in his mind and he knew that if he continued hearing these sobs he would go mad.

“Alright, alright just shut up will you? Just say what you want?” he said. He wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible.

“I’m lost and I’m very hungry. I want to go to my parents,” he spoke between sobs.

“Then go to the fuckin’ police, I don’t have time for this,” he said as he started to move. But something glinted and caught his eye. He turned back to the boy and grabbed him by his shoulders and brought him under the lamp post. There it was, a fine gold necklace. 

“Say kid, you are hungry right? Then why don’t we do a deal? You give me this necklace and I’ll bring you some food. Then we can go look for your parents,” he mood suddenly changing.

“Really? Well then take it quickly!” the boy replied with a new found hope and quickly handed him the necklace.

“Atta boy, now be a good kid and sit beneath this lamp post till I come back okay? Don’t go anywhere or I won’t help you find your parents,” he warned.

The boy nodded furiously and sat beneath the lamp as religiously as he could.

With the necklace in his hand, his feet attained a new found pace. His face was a crooked smile as he could sense the pleasure, the high that would soon run in his veins. He felt giddy with anticipation. The boy was forgotten only his darling remained in his mind.

He found his dealer in his regular spot. Their eyes met and his dealer gave a nod of recognition.

“How much will it be today?” his dealer asked.

“You tell me!” he said and showed the necklace.

“Five vials that’s it. Take it or leave it. I know this is stolen so that’s the best that I can give to you,” said the dealer. The dealer knew how to get the most of these addicted degenerates. He knew that they would do anything just for another fix and he knew how to exploit their weakness as well.

“But…,” he tried to argue.

“Take it or leave it,” came the reply.

Grudgingly, he parted with the necklace and grabbed hold of the vials. It was a supply five days’ worth. All in all it had been a good deal for him. He dropped to his knees, and brought out his syringe and spoon. He emptied a vial into the spoon and boiled the heroin with some matchsticks taken from the dealer. His fingers trembled with excitement as the syringe sucked the liquid from the spoon.
He rolled up his tattered shirt, his arm pockmarked with a numerous needle holes, the flesh raw and angry like someone had thoroughly rubbed it with sandpaper. The needle quietly bore into the skin and he released the contents into his veins.

The effect was instantaneous. This was better than any orgasm in the world. It was irreplaceable. He whimpered with pleasure as he travelled to a multitude of worlds simultaneously. He floated like a feather, sunk like a stone. He was cold as an icicle, hot as lava, he was in the past, and he was in the future. He was the speck of sand and he was all the galaxies combined. He was at his most vulnerable and most invincible.

O Alice, fuck your wonderland!

When he woke up in the morning, his mouth tasted ash. He had almost come down from the high now and would probably not feel the urge again till evening. His dealer was nowhere to be seen, the bright of the day too exposed for his vulgar goods. He could see other addicts lying nearby, some still in the grips of the drug. He stood up, gathered his stuff and started walking back to his ‘home’.

It seemed that it had snowed some more in the night. He noticed a commotion on the street. People covered in layers of clothing were all circling around something. He walked up to them and broke through the circle to get a better look. Smack in the middle of the circle was a lamp post. He couldn’t understand why everyone was looking at a lamppost. Then his eyes wandered down and he saw something at the base of the lamppost. Recognition dawned as he recoiled with horror. The boy in his smart dress still appeared sitting albeit a little hunched, just like he had left him. His face and hands were blue and frozen like specimens preserved in time, his expressions as if looking for someone to return. The brightness had left his eyes.

He tried to move back and tripped and fell face down in the snow. He got up and started running. He ran till his lungs felt on fire, he ran till his legs felt like lead and then he ran some more. The eyes of the child kept following him and he did not dare to look back. He ran till he fell down and sprained his ankle. He gasped for breath, each breath seeming like a gulp of molten fire.

His mind was a broken radio, only static and no tunes. He could think of only one way to escape this hell. He took out his spoon and emptied all the four vials. Thankfully he still had the matches. He boiled and sucked the liquid in his syringe. He jabbed the syringe in his arm, flinching with pain and emptied the syringe in a go.

It hit him like a train at full speed. He did not resist and simply went with the flow. His body started writhing violently but his mind was calm for the first time since so long. He saw his mother and his father and himself when he was five years old. He thought he had forgotten the faces of his parents. He saw the town fair he had gone with them and he saw his own five year old self’s face brimming with happiness. It was such an old memory. From there on it was all downhill. He remembered how he would get lost in the stampede that resulted due to a gunshot and never be able to see his parents again. He remembered roaming around in streets, villages, cities, and a stranger in strange land, alone, scared and being used by every other person around him. He remembered his new friends introducing him to heroin so that he could fund their vices too. It all came crashing down to him. But a single memory stood out. His 5 year old self sitting alone and scared after the stampede, his eyes searching for his parents who never came. A solitary tear rolled down his cheek as his mouth foamed.

He thought he had lost that boy somewhere, only to find him again today.

He was found two days later, frozen, needle still sticking in his arm, eyes open and vacant staring at the nothingness beyond, this dying mural, his only remembrance, left by his darling.

Under the same sun

I killed a man today,
Never knew his name, his ideas, his dreams,
The past he had or the future he wished for,
Just the different colors of his flag,
For that was reason enough,
To kill for my country supreme.

I never knew his wife, his children,
The sorrow he felt when he got bad grades,
The wrinkles on his face when he laughed,
Or the way he pronounced his t’s.
Our Gods were different and that was reason enough,
To pull the pin and throw that grenade.

Had he killed me, would he have wondered as I do now,
About my childhood names, my first bike ride,
My first love, my first son?
Or would he have heard me singing my anthem,
And decided, for that was reason enough,
To gut my stomach and throw my body aside.

Maybe I’m not a man, to think such when the chips all fall,
Maybe I’m not a patriot, to think such when my country calls,
Maybe I’m not human, to think such and still kill another one,
But what if I’m everything or what if it’s just war.
 

To Sisyphus, wherever he may be

A dog died in the street tonight,
A dog with no name, a common cur,
Its eyes a glassy window to nothingness,
Its carcass lain bare to all heavens above.

The man in the room beside still beats his wife,
The owner of the grocery kept fixing his rice,
The children numerous still stomped on ant lines,
The woman on the corner kept selling her body to the night.

There was no gathering of dogs in mourning,
No funeral, no tears, no fond remembrance,
Still the rotting flesh gave incense to the scene,
Maybe a dog’s God is indifferent or maybe there were no God’s dogs.

The bone for which it ran lay ahead,
The delight for which its mouth had foamed,
For a moment after eternity it had felt its nerves on fire,
Before being snuffed like a flame from a candle’s wicker.

Days went by, crows rejoiced,
Their stomachs full from the degenerate’s demise,
Having plucked the juicy meat from its skeleton,
Leaving no memory of the dog that died.

Now only bones remain, along with the bone that was,
And another dog now runs, its mouth salivating for its tasty cause.

Thoughts of a Dying Pessimist

The sun is spent, and now his flasks
Send forth light squibs, no constant rays ;
The world’s whole sap is sunk ;
The general balm th’ hydroptic earth hath drunk,
Whither, as to the bed’s-feet, life is shrunk,
Dead and interr’d ; yet all these seem to laugh,
Compared with me, who am their epitaph.

John Donne

 

Pessimism isn’t child’s play. A truly pessimistic individual is a thing of beauty or rather shall I say, dread. It’s not easy; perpetually on the quest to find the negative aspect of the story. To blot each and every ray of hope with the thought that sooner or later its creator will either set, or blow its fuse or run out of fuel. To watch a happy ending and wondering how long will it last? To find a new ulcer in your mouth and wonder whether it’s the onset of cancer.

“Et in Arcadia ego”… Even in Utopia,I(Death) am present.

Heavy stuff? Well I said this wasn’t going to be easy to swallow. No it’s the bitterest of the bitter medicines. It involves you to accept that nothing good can last and that nothing good will come out of this world. A leap of faith will end with you lying in a ditch, glass half full will leave you thirsty and irritated and searching for the ray of hope amidst turbulent clouds will simply increase your chances to get struck by lightning.

They say pessimism never helped anybody. On the contrary it’s fanatic and ill-found optimism that WILL lead you astray. We often accustom ourselves to adverse situations owing to that devil incarnate Hope, that we keep on hallucinating rather than setting firm our jaws and getting on with the task.

But let’s hold back for a second. Pessimism doesn’t mean that a) I’m depressed or b) That I’m suicidal. It’s a way of thinking rather than a psychological condition. So those of you who had there mobiles ready to dial 911 (or perhaps 109), hold your ruddy horses.

“But still Amol, you can’t be serious? How can you live this morbidly? Don’t you have faith in God, or even perhaps yourself? “

Faith in God. Let’s define a pessimist’s God. Is he the twinkly eyed old chap who made this world on whim and abandoned it while crackling away merrily or is it the strict yet just God who keeps a roving eye on this whole teapot called universe ready to award or punish us? Chances are neither. I for one don’t believe in God. The concept seems archaic, redundant and prone to causing wars/death. A supernatural God only fuels our capabilities to pin our aspirations and shortcomings on someone other than ourselves. A pessimist knows that no God can save him/her and he/she has to get his lazy ass up and start working if he/she wills to survive.

“Dude, pessimistic and an atheist? Phew, are you alright? “

I am. I’ve got a juicy slice of pessimism and matter of fact I’m happy and kicking. I don’t expect much of anything and as a result am quite happy when something yields to my benefit. Pessimism has given me a realistic view of this world. Life is not a fair dice to give you equal probability. Life isn’t fair, and pessimism has given me the tools to accept this and move ahead. People tend to tune themselves out when they hear the sad stuff and focus on the good and happy happy details. It simply shows denial to accept things as they are and work for their betterment.

A little pessimism will never hurt you. It will simply make you better at understanding and dealing with life. After all pessimism never disappoints. If you still need some convincing here are some bullet points:

  • Low expectations lead to pleasant surprises.
  • You can always spoil a smug brat’s mood with a choice serving of morbid sarcasm.
  • You are more prepared to handle when all hell breaks loose.
  • You get super freaked out about diseases and take a good care of your health.
  • You are always prepared for the Mayan Apocalypse situations (not surprised when it didn’t happen…remember low expectations?)
  • You are more likely to go out with winnings still left from a casino.

So hope you had an equally morbid time reading this as I had writing this.You are invited to have an even more morbid discussion with me.

If I ruined your mood, sorry, here are some dancing cats to cheer you up.

 

 Image

Caution: Useless Hope may prove fatal.

 

Same shit different day

There is no sweeter respite than the embrace of death,
The balm to a weary soul, an end to all the troubles,
Silent, engrossing it takes you in,
Mother calling its ducklings home.

We fight; we batter, day after day,
An endless struggle, one foot after another,
Sometimes for the journey, sometimes for the end,
Like dogs fighting over a juicy bone.

But if I stop to think what I have done,
What I fight for, what for do I struggle,
Nothing but an abyss answers,
And so I start again, and again, a mindless drone.

We march to an unheard tune, soldiers in a foreign war,
Pawns to a different Queen, a different King, a different Czar.

El Dorado

I came back lost,before the sun’s first kiss,
To the soil I was born,a memory distant,
Restless,wandering in body and soul,searching,
For some sweet old respite,those feelings resurgent.

A stranger in a strange land,for what I knew was gone,
The roads going nowhere,crude and menacing,
The wind around me an engulfing scream and a silent song,
The concrete asleep, casting caricatures repulsing.

I saw a world,my world,withered and gasping for breath,
It’s voice a mere rasp,seeking an answer,
The love it had given,was it incomplete or ill placed,
For what once it knew,was gone,a waltz tune but no dancers.

Where have they gone now,those monkey shows,those streetfights,
The sparrows in my backyard,the ink pen with which I sometimes wrote,
Old monks mysterious under trees,boys running carefree chasing kites,
The gods of a dying era,sandcastles on a sea shore.

Stupid I was! Wishful thinking my very personal bane,
Looking for answers,when the question was inane.
And as I depart  a thought eases my pain,
My world may be gone but my memories shall remain,
A lost world,my El Dorado,forever etched on my brain,
My world may be gone but those memories will remain.

The Biscuits.

The pure, the beautiful, the bright,
That stirred our hearts in youth,
The impulse to a wordless prayer,
The dreams of love and truth,
The longings after something lost,
The spirit’s yearning cry,
The strivings after better hopes,—
These things can never die. 

– Sarah Doudney.

The shrill whistle of the train jolted Ravi out of his daydreams. It had been a good one. There had been ice creams, sweets, snow cones and jaleebis in it. At 10 that was all Ravi could think of and the thick and humid weather was making him drowsy. The childlike excitement associated with trains had weathered off after four hours at the Charbagh  railway station. To Ravi, it seemed that a million trains had come and gone. It was like some evil supervillian had plotted against him and delayed his train indefinitely.

Papa, is this our train?” Ravi asked earnestly, his eyes full of hope.

His father a tall imposing figure looked at him kindly and gently nodded no. Ravi disheartened and hungry looked for his mother and found her on the station bench away into her own dreamland. He knew better than to wake up his mother. The aftermath would be catastrophic. He rummaged the travel bag himself and after completely turning the contents of the bag into disarray found a packet of his favorite Parle-G.  He laid it beside him and quietly zipped the bag up relieved that his father had not seen him creating a ruckus in the bag.

Happy with himself, Ravi turned and felt the ground slip beneath his feet.  His mother was standing in front of him, looming over him, not at all happy with what she had seen. He braced himself as all hell broke loose. He drifted in and out of the lecture that followed. Like with all boys, Ravi had developed immunity against this downpour of chiding. “Good for nothing”, “absolutely useless”, “God only knows what will happen to him”, these were some of his mother’s favorites and sure as expected there they were again. As a punishment he was sent to sit on the railway bench with the promise that he will not get to see cartoons for a month if he moved from the bench or caused any other fiasco.

Ravi, horrified at the prospect of no cartoons for a month, quickly went to the bench and busied himself with the packet of Parle-G. He looked at the myriad colors and curious characters surrounding him. The chai walas appeared like crows cawing away without a break while the Coolies circling the passengers alighting the train appeared as eagles circling their prey. The various smells from different small food vendors scattered throughout the station kept tantalizing Ravi.

Suddenly he saw something small and furry pass between his dangling legs quickly, carrying a Chapati in its mouth. Surprised and amused, Ravi turned to see that a large mouse had gotten hold of a pretty good Chapati and had taken it to a corner for the feast of the day. A small boy, around the same age as Ravi’s, dressed in rags, came hurrying after the mouse and cornered it. The boy’s hair where long and unclean and he looked like he hadn’t bathed in weeks. The boy dropped to his knees and carefully spread his hands in a V to stop the mouse from escaping and started closing in on the mouse.

There was a loud bang. Ravi spun on the spot at the loud noise, his neck hurting at this swift movement, and saw the resulting commotion. A coolie had tripped and iron trunk he was carrying on his head had fallen against the ground. The coolie was on his knees, praying for mercy, while the customer, a rich Lala, was furiously shouting and asking form money to repair the damages.

Ravi, to whom the ways of Lalas  was nothing new, turned back to the boy and the mouse. Apparently the boy too was distracted by the noise and was looking at the Lala. Upon Ravi’s turning, he too remembered the Chapati. Frantically the boy turned but the mouse had seen its chance and scampered.

The boy broke down into sobs. It had been two days since he had last eaten properly. Ravi saw the boy crying; the boy’s face dirty and streaked by teardrops. Ravi felt very guilty all of a sudden and couldn’t move his hand holding a biscuit to his mouth. He got down from the seat and walked to the boy. The boy looked up, his eyes red from crying, at Ravi. The boy hurriedly brushed the tears away from his eyes, ashamed at crying before a boy of his own age. For a moment they just looked at each other, their thoughts, their aspirations, everything conveyed without a word being uttered. Ravi stretched his hand, containing the packet of biscuits, but it was not a pity, not alms being given to a beggar. It was like two friends sharing a chocolate, a toy, a memory.

Before the boy could take the packet, Ravi was violently turned back by a hand on his shoulder, the packet of biscuits falling in a puddle of dirty water between them. He looked up and saw his mother. There was a loud slap, and a then a stinging sensation on his cheek. His mother was angry and horrified at his giving their food to beggars let alone talking to them. She shouted at the boy who ran away afraid and mingled amongst the hustle bustle of the station.

Ravi was dragged by his mother, who started complaining about Ravi’s behavior to his father. On any other day Ravi would have been terrified at his father getting angry at his mischiefs, but today, at that time, he was shaken. He could not understand what he had done wrong. He wanted to cry, but it was again his childlike pride.

His father, a gentle man, too was getting frustrated of the heat and the constant ramblings of Ravi’s mother about Ravi. But before he could do anything, there was another shrill whistle as the train they were to get on started arriving at the platform. Everything was forgotten as Ravi’s father quickly picked up their belongings while his mother cast a death grip on his hand as they headed towards their coach.

Ravi, seated in his compartment, stared out of the window of the compartment, still numb. Through the bars in the window Ravi saw the boy walk up cautiously to the bench where Ravi had been sitting earlier. The boy did not notice Ravi sitting in the train and walked to the puddle of dirty water. He bent down and started picking biscuits from the dirty water. The boy looked at the biscuits in his hand for a second and then started eating them hungrily, uncaring about the dirt, the filth sticking to the biscuits. The train jolted and started moving forward. Ravi strained against the bars to get a better look. The boy had started to recede now and looked small and shrunken. The boy turned and his eyes met with Ravi for a second time. The boy was horrified his face, with pieces of dirt and biscuit sticking to it, changed to a mosaic of pain and hurt, his eyes haunting.

Ravi turned his face away from the window, breaking the eye contact and wept.

The Companion

                                                                                The Companion

 

“Remember, man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return.”

He woke up with a start. It was a cavernous room. The ceiling so high that it gave the illusion of sky. All his eyes saw was white. There was no color anywhere. Just white. It prevented him from calculating the dimensions of wherever the hell he was. He tried to remember where he was but failed. All there remained was a fleeting memory in his mind, a figment of a dream which escaped like air from a fist. All he could scavenge was that line. “Goddammit,” he swore.

“You shouldn’t blaspheme so easily, especially not in this shit-hole. After all He may be the only chance of your escape.”

He did not know that he had company. Startled, he looked all over and then he saw him. A guy hunched over his knees with his back to him. So he had a companion in this place. His companion’s hands appeared to be moving as if performing some strenuous task. “Where am I?” he asked.

49,” was all his companion said.

None of this made sense. How could he not remember anything? He closed his eyes and concentrated. Again he heard the same words “Remember, man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return”, and then there was a blinding light and he fell, his head feeling like it had been struck with a hammer. This was getting ridiculous. Still clutching his head he ran to the companion, put his hand on his shoulder and turned him around,” Hey, I asked you-“. What he saw was not a pretty sight. There was hole on the back of his head, and everything from the right part of his forehead to his left ear was missing. It was one giant crater and he could see his brain, blown to smithereens. The image brought in his mind his math lectures where his teacher had told him how if we slice a cone with a plane we could get different forms of conic sections. It was as if some plane had sliced off the upper left part of his head, only not so cleanly. His companion suddenly coughed and blood spurted from his head. This was too much for the guy and he vomited.

“Every fuckin’ day,” sighed his companion. His companion got up, took out a handkerchief from his pocket and handed it to him. “Thanks,” the guy muttered, “what happened there?”

His companion sat down again and started again moving his hands furiously as if he had unheard the question. Feeling frustrated at not getting answers he stood up and went to face him. His stomach unsettled again but somehow he controlled it.” Hey, I asked you something?” .But again his questions were unanswered. But now he saw what his companion was furiously working at. It was an old pistol and apparently it was jammed. Suddenly, there was a click and satisfied the companion got up.

“So are you done with the interrogation? “, asked his companion,” Well then shut up and listen.”

“I don’t know where we are, hell I don’t even know when we are. I don’t know whether I am alive or dead. Whether this is reality or just some weird dream. Don’t ask me who brought you here because I don’t know it. Is it Hell, Heaven, some alien’s experiment, some temporal universe? I don’t know it. Why is my half freaking head missing? I DON’T KNOW IT! All I know is that for a long time I was alone and then you showed up,” said the companion and broke into sobs.

“Why has this man started crying?” the guy thought alarmingly.

His companion continued,”…. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I was wrong .Okay .Is that what you want to hear?” he questioned to no one. “All I thought that it would make a difference.” And then the companion looked directly at the guy,” I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I should have listened to you.” With that his companion pointed the gun at the guy’s heart and pulled the trigger.

The guy was shocked and touched his chest and saw blood on his hands. Before he could fall to the ground, his companion got hold of his body and held the guy’s head in his lap.

The guy felt weird, seeing tears falling from one remaining eye of his companion who had half his head literally missing. His companion muttered,” I should have listened to you. I can’t take this anymore.”

“Why does he have to suffer to suffer? The fault was mine”, the companion asked to the sky.

“Please forgive me. I never thought this would happen to you. This is the best way believe me. Remember, man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return. I never really understood what the quote meant. I understand it now. I long to be dust again, oh how badly I want to be dust again. I was such a fool, “said the companion and instantly regretted it. He shouldn’t have mentioned the quote.

The guy’s eye widened, suddenly it all came crashing down. He looked at his companion with his eyes recognizing for the first time. Then he remembered something else and he became horrified. He tried to push away his companion who held him tightly and sobbed. Slowly, the guy ceased and became still.

His companion got up, dragged the guy’s body far away into the pit that wasn’t visible when looked from far and then sat down again to his spot to mend the pistol which was once again stuck. His mind a whirlwind of guilt, sadness and sorrow. It would soon begin again he thought. Atleast his friend didn’t have to bear the burden of knowing the truth and living with it. All he could do was ensure that his friend’s time in this place was as small as possible. This was worse than hell. He could have born the physical pain of hell, but this, this anguish, this constant feeling of millions of souls clamoring around him, crying in pain. This was worst. But this was his alone to bear. He won’t let his friend experience it. His friend would soon have heard those hurting voices had he not shot him. No, this was not his friend’s hell, this was my Hell, my Purgatory.

 

 

 

 

“Goddamit”, someone said.

“You shouldn’t blaspheme so easily, especially not in this shit-hole. After all He may be the only chance of your escape,” said the companion.

The pistol un-jammed earlier than expected this time. Tears swelled in the companion’s eyes as he walked over to his friend whom he had not expected so soon. His friend looked bewildered and vomited as soon as seeing his face. It pained him, to see his friend in such a state.

“Here have a handkerchief,” he offered. His friend took it while still being confused about what was happening.

In another time shooting someone would have been the worst thing that a man could do. Not here, not this time. This was him being merciful.

50,” he said and pulled the trigger and again the wait began.

 

 

 

 

 

CERN Laboratories,

Switzerland

An Eternity before.

 

Dr. Somers rushed. He could not believe what he had just heard. He still wore his pajamas, having been rushed by the security guards. “Please Erik, don’t do it”, he muttered.

“What?” said Anders, chief of security.

“Oh nothing, why didn’t you guys stop him?” asked Somers.

“Well for one we don’t have the clearance to enter the LHC inner room, “retorted Anders.

Somers never thought that Erik would do it. Erik had joked about it but he never thought that Erik would actually do it. He was horrified to think at the repercussions if Erik really did it.

Erik had been his closest and only friend. They had researched together on the matter of Tachyons and there paper had been applauded by the scientific community. Erik was always of the belief that it could be done safely in the lab, even though Somers along with rest of the community thought it was not possible. Erik used to chide them for being cowards by quoting the Bible, “Remember, man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return,” For him, this line was the most belittling as he thought that humans could do anything and could surpass the dimensions of space and time and this line was a mockery that man could never do anything great. This had lately been the cause of distrust amongst them but Somers never thought that Erik would actually do it.

They reached level 42 and Somers punched in the security code.

The room was empty except for Erik who was standing at the control panel of LHC lost in thought.

“Erik step back, don’t do it, it’s not safe, you are going to kill billions “shouted Somers.

“Still being so conservative, eh Somers. When will you learn that nothing was achieved by cowards like you? The future has to be to snatched. And this is the future. I will prove it,” said Erik.

Anders saw that the situation was going out of control. He had worked as part of the NATO army in Iraq and he had seen the sense of belief on the faces of human bombers before they blew themselves. Erik had the same expressions of a religious zealot. He will not stop.

Then everything happened together. Erik’s hand moved towards the Start button as Anders fired.

“No!” shouted Somers looking towards Anders as he rushed towards Erik. There was blood and pieces of brain everywhere. The bullet had passed through his head and blown half his brain apart. Somers couldn’t stomach the gruesome scene and vomited.

But then a deep vibration started. Terrified, Somers looked at the computer screen. Erik had pressed the button before dying. Quickly Somers started typing, he had less than a minute. The machine was gaining power. Soon the particles will achieve critical mass and it will be the end of everything. He started the emergency protocol. The emergency protocol involved cutting power off the super magnets which propelled the particles. All 20 super magnets shut down except two. It seemed that Erik had manually turned off control of the two super magnets so no one could shut them down.

It would still detonate with energy of 100 kilotons of TNT. It would be 5 times Hiroshima.

There was no use to run. Somers sat down next to his friend. “Why didn’t you listen to me, my friend .Why didn’t you? “cried Somers.

There was a blinding light which engulfed him and he knew no more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Remember, man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shalt return.”

He woke up with a start. His head paining he muttered “Goddammit.”

 

“You shouldn’t blaspheme so easily, especially not in this shit-hole. After all He may be the only chance of your escape.”

                                                                                The End.

 

 

The Word

F.Y.I — This is not a hate entry. That will come later.

Set A

  • A man in Tokyo marrying a video game
  • A woman in Paris marrying the Eiffel Tower
  • A man changing his name to all the combined name of all 23 Bond movies.

Set B

  • A guy launching an online search for a girl he saw on a train.
  • King Edward VIII abdicating the Throne just so he could marry a socially unacceptable woman.
  • People putting giant “I’m Sorry” billboards around town to apologize to their partners.

Reaction for A: Dude…That’s fucked up!!!

Reaction for B: Awwwww…

Now don’t try to act shocked. Relax, you are probably in your room, no one will notice. So, Set A was essentially just creepy guys acting weird, while Set B was people going to heroic lengths to find their one true love, right?

Love.

Love is a four lettered word with no possible rhyming patterns with either ‘Crap’ or ‘Shit’ but still has many a times left us feeling like the latter. Wars have been fought, suicides been committed and yeah billions been made too. All in the name of that crazy little thing called Love.

To all my brothers in friendzone, a warm welcome. To others, a lukewarm hello. You read both the Sets and I think I can say with a certain predictability that you’re reactions were more or less the same. A simple question. Why?

Guy A:  “Because that’s not love, that’s just people going crazy over materialistic things. It’s the exact same thing that’s eating away our society from the inside.”

Guy B:  “Because love is a man going to any lengths to find his soul mate so that he can be forever and ever happy with her.”

Me: So you mean that Set A was just psychotic guys on the verge of a breakdown.That, what they had was not love but simply an obsession. Hmmm. Well you know you really have changed my opinions. Thanks.

But hey, how can you decide that what is love and what is obsession.

Guy B: “Well its obvious isn’t it?? Are you blind?”

Me: Well, not me, but love is, isn’t it?

Guy A: “Well then why don’t you tell us what love is, huh”?

Drat. Caught in my own trap. In my defense, where poets, artists, writers have failed, do you seriously expect me to flourish?

But I think that it will be safe to assume that neither can you. You may start but will probably end up feeding me the same old lines that have become an image of Bollywood in the west. Same old dialogues vomited again and again.”What is love?” met with replies “When you find it You’ll Know”.Well thank you very much for clearing it all up.

So, basically everyone is oblivious about what it really is, how can we pinpoint what is love and what’s not. If you measure love by the amount of dedication,care,faithfulness shown, then bro,I’m sorry to say that many people’s cameras,cars,bikes,etc will easily be proven more ‘loved’ than your girlfriend(assuming you have one, if not,remember that love–crap–shit analogy?).

I’m not saying love is a vile thing.No, its not. It’s beautiful and should be experienced by one. Love indeed sets you free. True love is ….I don’t know. My true love has been the asexual boring kind (read friends, family, and relatives) and unless you call sordid one sided affairs as the other Love, I can’t really help you.

I saw something recently that made me think along these lines. A guy, an avid philatelist, gave his collection book, to a girl and she burnt it.By mistake, obviously.Now the guy had spent years over that collection.Searching, caring, cherishing it.And its loss was heartbreaking. His expressions as if someone had ripped out his stomach. The feeling of astonishment, drowning grief and sadness all wrapped into one big rock dragging him down towards the bed of the ocean. I don’t know what love is.But I it would be somewhat like what he felt for his collection.

Remember the Love-Crap-Shit analogy. It strikes again.

I don’t think anyone can judge what love is and what is obsession. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Love can be experienced in a multitude of ways.Media, business tactics have exposed us to a wholly wrong meaning of Love. Wherever money can be made the meanings are re written and believe me this ‘Love Sector’ is a diamond mine. And speaking of diamonds, the whole diamond industry reached its place due to ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ campaign which pitched diamond as an ultimate symbol of love.

Don’t look for love in the wrong places, you’ll end up disappointed. Find your love in things you cherish to do, that don’t become a drag after a while. And don’t you dare go on finding the meaning of the word Love. Let it come to you. You’ll know 😉 😛

Wallace: If you want her so bad, you have to fight for her. Step up your game, Scott. Break out the L-word.

Scott: Lesbian?

Wallace: The other L-word.

Scott: …Lesbians?