Heaven and heavenly

The rumble progresses and the sky grows darker. Clouds gather in and darkness builds around our little hutment. We stare into each other’s eyes and no words are spoken. The unthinkable was happening; the times we had prepared for in our minds, and had silently prayed to forget, were becoming undeniable. We run into our excuse for a shelter, broken down ruins already conquered by time. We find our little nooks, camouflage into the walls and wish that they’d leave us alone this one.

We sit tightly huddled, mom and I, staring directly into the fear in each others’ eyes. There is little that we can share with each other, when the inevitable end lay ahead. Was this the time when we quietly reminisced about pearly bright days? Do we discuss about the father and the husband that we do not see around anymore? We choose silence and our hands grow moist with sweat.

We see other faces, bodies forced into spots uninhabitable and nothing but periodic rustle of dust under someone’s breath giving away the truth. We see a rodent run from one crevice in the wall to another. The thought of being eaten alive presented itself as a saner choice that being a victim to their attack. We pray the rodent won over the others and close our eyes. I feel the hollow in my soul build and grow larger. I have carried that hollow in me for a while now, the feeling confirms that fact. I do not recollect how we found ourselves in the hutment or what yesterday had been. I only feel the desperate need in me to protect myself from the others.

I must definitely have been warned about their terror, for I had not hesitated for a moment when I’d seen signs of their arrival light up.

The rumbling grows louder and the darkness progresses; we are engulfed in a form of black that we can barely conjure. Whatever it was that we had been warned against, was here and we could feel it’s unmistakable presence around us. The silly me wanted to be brave, open my eyes and make friends with them. The sane me shut her eyes tight and hoped for it all to fade away, just another nightmare that we all wake from with a start. The rest of us were fighting each’s own little battles because a battlefield lay ahead for sure.

I did not feel it coming; I do not have a recollection of being taken. I have a faint remembrance of being up in the air, lifted by a merciless force that had surprisingly left me alive. I see my feet lie ahead of me, with the dense woods far beyond. My dress rustles in the updraft but I do not feel the chill. My eyes shut and the thought fades away. The next time I wake up, a strong pain lashes through my feet and up to my head. My feet it is. I struggle against nothing and look at my right leg wrapped in fresh white gauze. I do not feel the metal rod inside of me any longer; I feel healed. I look around and see nothing; No one.

I wake up to a very familiar feeling that lingers around me; I set my eyes on the face of a man I’ve known for years. I have absolutely no recollection of who he is, but I listen to him non-hesitantly. I let him sit by me and care for my wound while I search for me in my head. He seems to have a mysterious quality of sucking away all thoughts from me. The peace that the lack of thought brings with it is amazing; frees me into a vapor. I pass between states of being asleep and awake with the constant knowledge of him being around. I sense his tender touch and my soul flutters, immensely acquainted with him from time in the past.

I do not know how much time has passed since the dark day but I seem to elude any thoughts of that life now. Wasn’t I supposed to be worried about what had happened to my people? My mother had definitely been one of them; Others had to be around. And yet I sat in peace. Why did I not seem threatened by my current state? Why did they take me, care for me and free me? Who was he?

Recollections returned of a high ground, the wind blowing on our faces. I do not know if this was a dream, a thought, an event in the past or a forecast of the future. He is sitting beside me, endearing and yet mundane. I feel his strong arms around my shoulders and I nuzzle into their comfort. I see him engaged in a conversation with others, yet not once do I feel distant from him. A soft pull towards him, a brief glance in my direction and I know nothing else except for me being there mattered to him. The recognizable feeling returns and I am home.

The peace jolts me out of sleep and I wake up. It is four in the morning and I can’t get his face out of my head. Wonted and yet novel. Earthly, yet angelic. Heaven!

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Rampant progression

What an idea! If things went unhindered, it would be a night to remember indeed. The common interest would work to my benefit here. The object of attention I’d picked was unquestionable; it was a clear-cut favorite, would give us enough to discuss later on, a perfect conversation piece. Sailing through a quick drift of mutual distractions, I throw out the offer, fingers and toes crossed. The proposal is accepted, it is going to be movie-night after all. Unknown to the universe, I do a little jig, feet click up in the sky and hands snap the latest beat.

The stage is set, pillows tucked under and the lights dimmed. Some red devil to lighten the mood? Oh yeah! Who could deny such an offer after all? The game is on and I am having a worthy time already, what if it’s only the opening credits rolling by.

The tricks that the human mind manages to conjure are intriguing indeed. Wisps of an all too familiar smile, those minutes of silence worth a million words, a quick smirk at that movie quote in unison. Signs, strewn across the little green room, all point to a single want for acceptance and a single confirmation of the same. It definitely looks like the Gods have us for their weekend entertainment and are intended on making sure it is a night worth remembering.

I look back farthest into my memory lanes, to when I first set sight on him. There was no lightning or the proverbial thunderbolt. There had not even been a genial conversation that made the mark from day uno. The last I remember, it had started with him deriding me and I running for cover, tears welling up my little round eyes. Most other years, I’ve known him, were similar to that one encounter; intensities of anguish varying at the most.

Time is the best healer, they say, and it has clearly proved true in my case. We slowly grew into similar beings, with like-minded interests and wants from life. Those moments of travail against the common Gods, made us realize we were fighting on the same side of the war; reason enough to build some camaraderie. As our dreams took us miles apart, we’d kept the lines open, grown closer despite the different zip codes, bonded more than ever before. Technically speaking, tonight is the result of days and months of us growing accustomed to the unknown, the last assessment of a year spent in preparation.

A sudden detachment from the present catches my attention and I sneak a glance out to investigate further. Before my mind can prepare the most appropriate question to throw out, he has risen to his feet, jacketed to the least and let himself out of the door. Shocked and stunned, I realize what a hard blow this act has been to my string of thoughts. Happy times of socializing are quickly overwritten by that same feeling of anger I felt, every time I saw myself being thrown around in his mercy. A nausea of wrath seeps in, waiting to burst out at the next opportune moment. What dry humour to walk out on me and my plan, not a word said!

Before my mutiny could proceed any further, the door opens again, and in he walks back, a bright and brilliant smile adorning his face. He brushes away the question on my face with a brief “Sorry!” and goes back to reeling the movie ahead. I feel stuck between strong forces of hatred and indifference, agony and complete normalcy, unaware of the expected reaction to such an incident.

A lot is answered, and newer questions raised, when I catch him stealing quick glimpses away from the movie and showering all attention on her. He had been out for that brief moment, only to smuggle her in, and all my initial fury had forced me to be totally blind to her. He had wronged me and my plan for the duo by bringing a third, uninvited guest to the part. As he catches me staring between him and her, he throws that same charming smile, armed to topple my senses over. That same smile, which gave me a reason to be in the first place, is now a potent dagger, quickly heading my way, waiting to uproot my beliefs in more thoughts than one.

Something in him makes him think it befitting to explain his act. He says that she was sweet and the two of us would get along just fine. Did the expected retort to that statement require me to start bonding with her right away? I hated the mere thought of it, a certain smell that she reeked of, gave me the bumps already. I dodge a glance and look away, finding a new found interest in the movie that no longer holds any meaning to the evening at all. I see him pull her closer to where he is, she huddles in the comfort between his shoulders and his strong hands. I perceive him having ridden aeons away from me, in the quick span of a minute.

I hear a little giggle and I can no longer feign ignorance or act invisible. I stare at their faces, totally in love with each other, a feeling I’d ignored for years now. He pulls her closer, she caves in under his controlling grasp and my mind punishes my eyes by not letting them look away. She gasps as he lets their yearning lips lock, he closes his eyes to feel her consume him from within. She drowns him thoroughly, for when he opens his eyes, I see him in a different plane from mine, wandering a planet unknown to me.

A familiar smile crosses his lips, as he reads her face; something amusing has caught his attention. He thrusts her towards me and asks me to share his enthusiasm as I read off her cover: Smoking is injurious to health.

So is chocolate, ice cream and butter chicken. Why bother!, he retorts, to no one in particular, and takes another puff off his new found love.

My little brother has grown up to be a different man indeed.

Ma, Me and She.

As I was skimming through the previous posts here, something glared back at me; they are all dull, boring, rants from my life and heck who’d care about my past and my God anyway. So I’ve tried a new venture here, spiced up my life and gone ahead and written a story. Yay!!

The usual rules stick, read till the end; if you see your concentration waning, pour that strong cup of coffee, wash it down and hang in there. All events in this story are purely fictional and any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is purely intentional. Duh! It’s my story after all!

He rolled down the windows of the taxi briefly, careful not to let the downpour in. He waved in her direction, met her eye, they exchanged a brief smile and she walked towards him. She gingerly snapped her umbrella shut, sat in and the taxi drove on. They exchanged quick pleasantries.

…”True, The Mumbai monsoon was becoming unbearable”…

…”That new flick had some poor storyline to begin with”…

…”Isn’t it a shame Michael Schumacher is not going to be driving after all!”

It was just their second date, could he really call it that, and he had already begun to like her. Unlike the prospectives his friends usually hitched him up with, she was genial, homely, grounded to the earth, loved soaking in the rain, thought that our traditions had to be respected no matter what and believed that the saari was a snug outfit. The last two were definitely going to get her special-extra-brownie-points with ma.

Amma. If the past had taught him something, it is that amma was a different ballgame altogether. School days was spent cramming up the books, extra tuition ensured that there was no time for wasteful thinking, leave alone squandering. Mom made sure that he got his milk on time, had his homeworks top notch and he was up before sunrise, for an extra round of revision. How else did he plan on becoming an astronaut? College was no less complicated. Amma relocated to his town; Yeah, Pa could manage on his own for couple of years and No, hostels are for kids whose mothers dont care enough.

And so, four years had dragged by at snail’s pace. The first puff of smoke was taken elsewhere while he had been busy completing his engineering drawing, on time and crisp to the P. The first crush was turned into heartbreak for others, while he dozed on the bus, rattling back home for dinner. The kiss had been magical; ephemeral, yet legendary indeed. But it had not been him, for he was at the temple that day, praying for a successful semester.

“Sorry?”

A mental snap, and he was back to today. “Whhaa..?”

“I don’t know. I mentioned coffee and you said ‘If Only’. “

“OH!!”

“It’s alright. We can get coffee sometime later.”

“NO!! No. Coffee is good. Coffee is great. Coffee it shall be”

He watched her, quietly, as she made herself comfortable in the small shack. Their patio table gave every part of her body room to live up and breath. He conceived that very moment, that he was capable of spending the rest of his life, staring at her luscious dark hair, duelling with the renegade breeze. The Indianness in everything about her, sent home a warm feeling within him. The waiter seemed to notice the artful manner in which she ordered our coffee, the nimbleness seemingly inborn. He sported a huge smile, scratched down our order and skipped his way back. Pumpkin what latte!? Pumpkin in a coffee? Really?

She sipped her drink, exuding a sense of peace to the world around her. By her green and yellow attire, everything seemed to pop out and spring into a dance, moving to the eternal song of love and life. Or at least he thought so. She sat there and took a sip of her coffee, undisturbed, while he continued.

He took a sip of the drink and spat it all out. He should not have listened to these guys after all. Amma was right from the beginning, this “was” a drink to hell. He forced another sip in, holding it in his mouth for a second, before gulping it down. As the caustic liquid oozed through his ducts, his inners came to life, burning their presence. When they finally settled, his mind settled too, on a cloud of dust around him. The guys were right, you could hear music with this drink in you. Hail Bro!!

Four hours and numerous drinks down, he walked home carelessly, mimicing a straight line in his gait. He laughed at how unsuccessful he was at it. The guys had helped him rehearse the story he was going to tell amma. He had gone over it a million times. Can you really count straight when you are drunk? There was not an odor or sound left on him to raise an ounce of doubt in her. He had to shoulder up and be a man! He could fool his way through without a doubt, and to think he presumed amma knew it all so far.

Amma knew it all. Period. She knew he was lying from ah-choo! There had been no study circle. There were no notes to copy. It was not just coffee indeed. He had disappointed her to the point of being ashamed. Dared he repeat it and she was going to take drastic steps. No, she did not want to listen to anything more. To the room please.

The soft tap on his hand bought his thoughts rushing back. He could never lie to amma again. But with the sensuous lady tapping his hands right now, he wouldn’t have to. She seemed to have fallen from heaven, or where ever they come from, with him in her mind all along. She pointed at her wrist watch, proclaimed that it was late and she needed to be home in time for the evening prayers.

“Oh!” Feeble protest. “Let’s get a taxi. I’ll ride you home”

Yes. Amma would definitely appreciate her and her impeccable demeanor. Prayers in the evening! There was no conceivable reason an out-going, modern, educated women of today would do that. She was going to be a complete success with Amma, and his dreams were coming to life indeed. He hailed the nearest black and yellow ride, shabbily whispered her address to the driver and settled in the back seat. She seemed to have been sitting there from ages eternal. The way she curled her legs together amused him, what wondrous poise in such cramped spaces. Beside him, she nudged closer and her sweet menthol fragrance gripped him.

He turned to face her, staring deep into her reciprocating eyes. Was this going to be the opportunity he had missed years back? What had the guys said? Don’t waste the moment thinking about it, go ahead and do it. Or wait! Was it, Thinking about it made sure you never missed it? She inched closer and his thoughts shattered, quite similar to the distance between them. Her brown eyes glared back, innocence and naievete in abundance. The inches between her voluptuous lips and his controlled fear seemed to be receding, slowly but surely.

Was he manning up to it and making the move? Finally? Was she being the infallable woman that she is, aware that he would want her to be? He sighed heavily, slumping in his seat.

A second away, and…

“Brother, Do you have a match?”

“What..? I..!”

“Here’s a lighter, bhayya.” With experienced swiftness, she dug through her purse, reached past her menthol cigarettes and produced a gem-studded piece.

Boy! He’d never seen one such before, and he couldn’t take his eyes of it now.

Replay.

It was another one of those times when you felt life was in the replay mode…

It was the same village…mounted high up in the hills…With the smell of the heavens oozing out of every street….People looking very affable…waiting to serve u at the cost of their lives…Those up hill and down hill travels were all too familiar for words…

There was the same monsterous weapon of mass destruction..it had haunted me the previous time….I was wrong to have wished it gone now…coz it was back…Howling the lives out of innocent visitors…these rickshaws knew no fear…autos that decided the fate of their passer bys…They hadnt changed…

The man’s face was a distant memory…but this one sent back shivers….there was that weird feelin within that was tellin me to warn my companion…to remind him that it was wrong…to let him live back the then when it had all happened….to tell him to get out…before it was too late….

We sat snug in the vehicle…the driver looked up at the heavens and laughed….my heart began to beat harder…i felt that crunch that sucks your soul out of you..i could feel it comin any minute….

And there it was…I knew it..it happened….as it had the last time…The squabble broke out from a nothing…I hadnt remembered why the last time too…but it was worsenin…and the final blow..that sent him flying out of the rick…

What happened next and how i reached him is a distant memory…i cant get down to the details in my head…but as i knelt and looked down on him…lying there helples….with blood oozing out from the face that had lit up the life in me….i lost it all…

I panicked for starters…Here was my life, lying there wounded, hurt, most probably because of me..and i wasnt doing anythin….i looked around…the all so pleasant mountain village dint seem half as inviting now…walker bys stopped to stare at the mass of bleeding flesh that lay below…and seemed to care the least…i could see backs turnin to us and walkin away…what was wrong…? wouldnt somebody help a hurt in this world..?

No..! i was not gonna depend on others to save this man lying here…It took no herculian effort to mount him in my arms…and i ran….god knows where though….Throughout my run for life, i peered down into those eyes…a pair that was searching for life…that was knocking on heaven’s doors…but fighting to get back…for there was a life to be lived….

I heard myself scream to him…wishing that he would hear…i begged him to not let go….i scremed at the heavens…to not take him with them…no this could not happen…i ran down those pristine white corridors…with him lying frail like a lump in my arms…

Ran straight through the doors…and OUt…!! I sat up ram-rod straight….It had happend again…the same dream…the same plea….the same door that i woke up at….

I lay awake in bed for the rest of the night…Praying….!