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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The dusty destiny!

‘Tis has been quite a while since we conversed. True. Time flew by and we walked into our own little closets, strengthened the walls around it and ensured the barbed wires saved us from any foreseen onslaught. The little that we heard, when we shouted across the inches of concrete, was the hatred and the hostility within. Staged? Practised? I know nought. Our keen discernment ensured that even a sincere act of fondness was falsified with riddles and mysteries. As each taunt built on another, the walls grew thicker, stronger and more fortified than before. The walls we built for one another, mysterious indeed.

In this lone cell, I hear sounds that baffle me; unknown visions from the past, I realize. A unified laugh at a played out hysteria, a cohesive smirk at the newest stereotype and a mortified scorn at tradition emerge, coerce and drift my way. I play witness to evenings spent in silent harmony, the music of the souls drifting by. I see two lone figures battling an entirety, the mass multitude. They walk together in their lone paths, alone in their combined missions, and yet powerful in each other’s presence.

Something stirs within, a wish? a dream? Fear maybe. I withdraw deeper into my surroundings, my facade from the outside world. And in the urgency to protect my heart from the hurt outside, have I forced you out with it? Did you want to be forced out from sheer exhaustion? Did the togetherness threaten your uniqueness?

The alter ego had vaporized, the best friend had vanished and out emerged my nemesis. Strong in knowing the real me, weak in being me.

[…]

She stiffened her sleeves, smoothing the crease that was beginning to develop. Smart move Mr. Murphy; throwing the wrongs her way, when she intended to make it her best performance. It was going to be the destiny she had fought for own her own, built it from the grave. The world had definitely been more accepting than it had been before. The bruises from her past wars showed themselves black and blue, reminding the observer to tread with caution. Was that the reason for the distanced reactions this time? Was the world busy living a more saner life for itself, untouched by her anxiety?

She shook her thoughts back to the moment she was basking in; the world could live its life and she hers. The walk towards the bridge had been painful. She had to conquer the worst enemy before setting out on this path; her inner self. The ego, bloated from years of hurt and neglect, had thrown its army of reasons at her, one more convincing than the other, declaring the entire episode a mere school girl’s trick. Her brain, the self-proclaimed master, had reasoned with them all, while the heart sat quiet, listening to the war wage on. As days turned into weeks and no consensus was in sight, the heart stiffly sat up, proclaimed the verdict and went back into its sanctuary. The trip would be made.

As her mind raced through the happenings of the past, her feet slowly tread on, stopping at the foot of the bridge. She looked ahead and gasped at the beauty that lay ahead. Pearly gates laid out for the mundane, reachable yet mystic in their ways. She took her first step forward and felt herself sink in, the soft touch of the feathers beneath her tickled her little toe. She let out a muffled laugh. As she lingered on, the season sunk in; little drops of rain slid by the window, concealing the harsh lights beyond. The familiar smells of the ocean swept by, bringing with them sounds from the past. Moments leapt by, as she validated the reality quotient of it. She walked out from aeons of movement and glared at having reached midway. The view amazed her.

She had lost count of the time she had spent there after the initial day itself. A sense of helplessness had set in, rising the devil within. As the heart lay curled at the corner, the ego threw its tantrums. The turmoil within manifested itself louder by the passing. They had all birthed a mistake in unison and now hell lay about. Sad, searching eyes flooded with drops of lost morale, as two feet slowly dragged the entirety back to the earth. She had won the war, but the battle was lost forever.

The world seemed more accepting at her return than anticipated, a welcome worthy of the prodigal was laid out. Aged fingers pointed to the direction of the rightful destiny; it lay in photographs floating in virtual space, clicked hastily by emotionless hands. Destiny flourished in names matched against the stars, lifetimes of congeniality predicted from meaningless scrawls on the eternal parchment. It lived in interests created with the purpose of hitting a match, wavelengths sourced to traverse as one. It rested on familiarity bred over time, distances being lost by it all. Destiny lay elsewhere from where she had sought it.

As the heart built its newest layer of fortification, there was a world out there that needed to be satiated. The brain promised itself to be just that. The head hung low, nodded in acceptance. Destiny lay elsewhere indeed.

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.

Wild Wild West – I

One thing that hit us with a quick gush, as soon as we stepped out of the airport, was the hot and dry air. A 100 Fahrenheit and we rechecked our stock of sunscreen, put on those glasses and strut on to our ride. I have to flashback a few hours to how we got here though, because the beginning ensured that we were to have a fun trip after all.

2 AM miseries

Some sane thought that Switch and I had, made us book tickets out of far-off PHL, instead of backyard EWR or across-the-street NYC airports. This “out-of-this-world” decision, that seemed pretty reasonable when we punched out our credit card details, ensured that we were up at 2 in the morning, out of town by 2 30, only to be roaming the streets of EWR for a decent parking lot. Well, we had to put the car in safe hands for four long days; that automatically ruled out any off-street ones, those that had a voice operated system talking to no one in particular and of course the ones closed. Frantic search was on. It’s funny to digest the number of weenies who actually roam the earth that early in the morning.

After trying out every possible option dear mr/ms garmin gave us and having let go of two of the five, to magically walk into the dream parking space, we had a little of five minutes to spare before our train out. Better sense prevailed and we drove into the very same lot that we had driven past a hundred times in that one night in search of a safer option. Yeah right! Who are we kidding!

Feeble pleasanteries exchanged, keys to the ride surrendered in the hands of a total stranger and two bags baring us down, DShah and I ran for it, while Switch tried to fumble the tickets out. We dint care if we looked like two goons, running away from mad dogs chasing us; we had a vacation to start on time. Acela arrived, the conductor obliged and we rode an hour into PHL, all in a weary sleep-embedded daze.

Note to self: cops in Philly are very cordial, nice to the point of being over intrusive I guess. It’s a fact, because Dear mr cop chose to accompany us from one station to the other, made sure we boarded the correct connecting ride and wove good bye to DShah with tear-filled eyes. Ok I might have fuzzed the facts on that one a bit; I was sleep deprived and it was too early in the morning for nocturnals like me, remember?

Philly billies

A minor fiasco at the “security check” left Switch bereft of his dear-old ninja gear. How many camping trips had he gone out on, pulling it out of his kit, nimbly; flaunting it out in the open, boldly; as other covetous eyes stared on! True, he had hoped to demand extra drinks on the flight with that one weapon and damn, his plot lay out in the open. We drank to his ill fortune, promised to buy him a stronger, sharper, meaner, sleeker, ahmm.. er weapon and boarded the flight at the back of the crowd.

Proud to be back benchers indeed, we tried having sane conversations with the ‘air hosts’, Damn! I still cant get used to that profession for a man, before somebody’s good judgement stepped in. We slept through the rest of our flight.

Wild West

Turbulence woke us up, in time to see the first glimpses of the mighty canyon. We straightened up, crained out the pot hole windows and Viva Las Vegas!!

PS: Learnings so far:

– It is impossible to try being on a diet and on vacation at the same time.

– When fast asleep, an hour is like a minute and 1500 miles take a mere five.

– Male air hostesses, using their spare time knitting a sweater, are not a welcome sight to wake up to.

– Deccan airways was not the only one that had carriers rattling during take-off.

– Security check personnel love Swiss army knives.

In Wild Wild West – II, The Mustang compromise, Hoover’s arch and the mad dirt ride to walk.

Two tracks and one soccer game.

She had reached the train station with enough time in hand to let the chill kill her nerves. Was it her guts or her brain that made her go through the torture of the cold every other minute? Every time her teeth shuddered and her muscles twitched in the wind, she let out a sigh, looked up at the heavens and laughed. Yes! She was still alive.

The girl was too young to realize if it was love or a plain high school crush. They had been chums since they’d joined back in mid school. They’d grown closer in the last few years and the five hour long phone conversations had left every couple in class jealous. But today, when he had confessed to her that he had found love and he was going to propose to their best friend for years, she din’t know if she was being plain and simple possessive or he really meant the world to her.

Yes! She was still alive; and that realization brought with it the pains of the night. Time when another realization had struck, the fact that she had been kidding herself this far. The last few years had been a roller coaster ride, with her shifting from one foundation to another to keep her shack grounded. It was surprising how everytime her boat drifted off the shore, she’d found a new bark of wood mid water, to moor her boat. But last night she realized that no matter how hard she tried, it was meant to be.

He really meant the world to her and watching him fall for another girl in front of her eyes left her stranded. The icing on the cake had been him falling for her very best friend. Now everytime she saw her, it hit her harder than ever. The theory was proved after all;  everyone falls in love one big time, everyone is fighting for something and everyone has something to hide.

It was meant to be and she had to let the tides wash her ship off shore. Mortal ties of friendship had gotten her through some of the worst times in her life; start of college with all the growing up to do, a new job, work in an unknown land. There had always been a heart to go back to at the end of a sad day, with a smile, a cheer and a hug to kiss the pain away. These were hearts that meant the world to her at some point in space. They had helped her fight it through; and now it was the same few who failed to see it.

Everyone has something to hide and the girl let that guide her when she held both the souls dearest to her heart close to it. The move to a new school, college in a land from the past had given her the break she had needed to fall out of these misunderstandings and grow up. Five years and she had totally out lived her childish charms. She’d grown up. She’d grown out of them.

And now it was the same few who failed to see it; she was not meant to be rooted to the ground to begin with. Every time she thought it was the wave and the tide to be blamed, she had ignored the voice within that was enjoying the unsteady waters. There had always been the hand that quietly cut all ties to the earth, given that perfect boost up skward. Noone had noticed it then because noone had cared.

She’d grown out of them and today when he discovered her in the web world, while she was expected to be ecstatic about it, all we felt was a gush of the smells from the past. Mere fictious characters playing the part in her head, a play that barely made anymore sense to her, something that barely made sense to anyone. Things had changed within her in the years that flew by and she hadn’t noticed it. Noone had noticed it then because noone had cared.

Noone had noticed it then, because noone had cared and she was used to life being like that. The prince of the dumpster, the ruler of no-man’s isle she had been. And now, when she saw visitors to her little island, wanting a piece of the land, adding their own colors to their little patch and worrying about the bright ones in the neighbours, she wonders if she is to be blamed. She fails to understand why the visitors don’t see, that all that should matter is their being there. And their making their stay worth it. 

For as much as I am open to them walking in and as much as it would hurt me to see them go away, my heart would not change from what it had liked before and after. As often as a new traveller would break my heart, it would welcome another one in with open arms, for that is how pink and plum it is bred to be. It has been each such blow that has made the heart stronger. 

No matter how many more bandaids this knee might hold, the soccer game is on and it has to be bled to live to the fullest..