Breathing Underwater

…I am walking into the sea. Salty air. Grainy earth. Heat. I breathed it all in for one last time and let the coolness of water take me in, bit by bit. Feet. Legs. A wave of relaxation travels from my legs to my mind, making the water more inviting. Thighs. Hips. I swirl my fingers on the surface of water that now lies just below their tips. Hands. Chest. Neck and finally all of me is surrounded by it. I open my eyes and even though I know I will see only the grey Arabian Sea, I bear the stinging saltiness in hope that I may stumble upon something; a shiny stone, may be a lonely little crab, tiny fishes perhaps.

My grip on the silky ground loosens slightly. I know I cannot go deeper anymore without the water pushing me above. I drop to my knees and firmly plant them in the ground.

I give up the rest of my body to the to and fro of the currents. Calmness and silence grows around and in me. I let loose my final breath and watch the bubbles, small and big, rise up to the surface. I feel lighter.

The breathlessness makes me feel livelier than the time I spent breathing. I try to stretch these few moments as long as possible…

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SnapShots: A Little Man, Hundred Rupees and The Conductor

Public Transport. Bus, to be specific. It’s a world of its own.

Ofcourse, if you haven’t travelled in a bus you have no idea what I am talking about. Let me explain.

You are bound to meet two kinds of people on a bus. The first kind forget the rest of the world the moment they plug in their earphones. You are not sure if they are thinking anything at all.
The second kind converse with whomever they can but sooner or later turn to the window and stare… stare so intently that you wonder what they are thinking.

Oh wait! There is a third kind. It’s me. People like me who are looking at everyone else. They seem to be staring at the loose change in their hand or staring at the back of the driver’s seat…no, don’t be deceived. They sure as hell are observing you.

If you have never been in a bus you might be of the notion that the journey is mundane and tiring. Yeah, if you are the first two kinds of people, I regret to tell you that it is. I must also tell you that if you are the third kind- like me, then you get stories.

A Little Man–

It is February and it is half past eight in the morning. But the sun thinks it is May and thinks it is noon, therefore burns into his skin. He wipes the sweat off his brow with his handkerchief. He is wearing a very neat school uniform; shoes are spotless, trousers and shirt freshly ironed, hair arranged in a perfect side parting.He appears to be a 10 year old boy.

He is waiting for a bus, probably, to take him school. He spots a bus and just then, fortunately, the traffic light blinks red. He climbs onto the bus. He looks at the conductor who is at the back of the bus, making his way forward, demanding money for tickets from people who got on at the previous stop and clicking his tongue when some of them can’t find their passes or money quickly enough.

The little boy grabs a hundred rupee note out of his pocket to avoid being subjected to the conductor’s impatient eyes and tongue-clicking. He finds no seat. The engines of cars and bikes and autos bellowed as they waited around the bus for the signal to turn green. The rising pollution makes the air thick and humid.

The boy finds a comfortable spot in the middle of the bus to stand and he stands straight without the slightest of slump in his stance as if the bulky bag on his shoulders is not a burden at all. Holds his chin in the air. His left hand slips in to his pocket. His eyes are so serious and face so rigid. He seems like a grown-up man. He is a bit worried. I will have a lot of change once I pay for my ticket. I hope I can hide the money and keep it safe from thieves all day, he thinks.

Where to?” the conductor demands of the boy.

The boy suddenly aware of the conductor, wastes no time and hands out his hundred rupees note, ” Birla Road.”

Ehhh! Who will have a change for this note so early in the morning!”  the conductor spits out. He raises his hand to point something ahead.

The boy doesn’t know what the conductor is pointing at. He face softens and the innocence, that children of his age usually have and he seemed devoid of, settles in his eyes.

The conductor collects tickets from others, sits in his seat but does not allow his gaze to leave the boy. He sees the boy walking towards the front of the bus. But instead of getting down the boy taps on the driver’s shoulder.

The conductor slaps his forehead and before the driver could turn around, the conductor with a rediculous smile on his face and his hand pointing at something ahead tells the boy to get down and catch the other bus ahead of them.

The boy, as he gets down, realizes that the conductor pointed at the other bus and not the driver. He had wanted the boy to get off the bus and had not asked the boy to take change for his hundred rupees from the driver. He feels stupid. Now there was equal amounts of innocence and embarassment in his eyes.

The much awaited green light returns.The vehicles begin honking. The boy manages to reach the bus stop in time but still seems lost.

The seriousness returns in his eyes and he stretches his neck out to look for the next bus amidst the approaching vehicles.

SnapShots: Of Pebbles and Puzzles

It has to be 2 a.m and you gotta be really sleepless to have such deep thoughts…

CAUTION: Reading any further might cause side-effects like self-absorption, absent mindedness, sadness, anxiety, dramatic mood swings or silent tears depending on the degree of relatability you feel with the following text. It might compel you to listen to Adele or Eminem on high volume. In such a case, please take a long walk, watch the sun set or call your mom.

~~ The wrongs and The regrets

When you throw a pebble in water it will create ripples. Everyone knows that. I knew it too well.

When I dropped pebbles I made sure I was at a distance. A distance safe enough so even if I threw a stone with might, the largest and most intense of ripples wouldn’t be able to reach me. You see I am the kind of person who makes the backup plan before making the plan. I was counting on the distance.

It took a while to realise that I wasn’t dropping pebbles in water but me. I was the pebble sinking lower and lowewith time by the weight of my delusions and by the force of my deeds.

~~ The uncertainty

I don’t know why but things often fail, they often come together too. It’s like executing a puzzle; you don’t know anything until you reach the end.

Everything in my life is a piece of that puzzle, and I can’t wait to get the whole picture.Well, I felt like that some millions of years ago.I was someone else then. I was sure of my identity, my role, my purpose…

Now, I feel like a piece of that puzzle; just trying to fit anywhere I can as soon as possible.

 

 

SnapShots: To My Bully

We have all known bullies; either we have seen them, met them or had the unpleasant experience of being bullied by them. But I have befriended One.

Dear Bully,

When I first met you, it was the first day of school. I smiled at you because that’s a nice thing to do. You smiled back and I took it as a start of something new.

Yes, it was new indeed. I was never a part of a pack of wolves before.We were four; four powerful, toxic girls, but I laughed the hardest, I daresay. And became more like you everyday.

So, dear bully, one day when we huddled together and poked fun at him, I had to stop laughing. To see why he was quiet. You shouted out your slurs but he stayed still. His eyes were blank, you said he is just playing dumb. I felt depth in them but you said he is too cowardly to retaliate. I believed you. You are my friend, you see, I truly loved you.

As days went by, I saw you mock him in corridors, in canteen, in class. You were so mean, and so was I. I saw you befriend beautiful people, intellectual people or anyone you could use; you  are like the sweetest drop of dew. But people who didn’t fit in either category, you mocked them.

Whenever you were in a good mood, you mocked. And I laughed.

With a few we were openly enemies; they retaliated with hate. A few were nasty like us but intimidated by us, they pretended to be nice and we pretended too but mocked them the hardest. Many stayed away from us; their indifference made us huddle closer into a gang. You said it was all fun- we are friends, right? Wouldn’t we make fun of each other as well if we did something or looked somewhat stupid and weird?  I believed you. I ridiculed and made fun of people too. I insulted others for you and the gang. I embarrassed people for you and the gang.

What we didn’t understand was that we were not laughing with them, we were laughing at them. Deluded we are. Our age, our beauty, our skills, our talents, our attitude we were so deluded by these. We failed to see the innocence in his eyes. We failed to see the dignity in his silence.

Dear Bully, when you mocked me, I would have believed you were just being goofy, if it was not for the spite in your words and cruelty in your tone. I was hurt. You see, I loved you. You were a friend to me. I never thought I could be at the receiving end, atleast yours. I didn’t leave… because guess who turned out to be a coward.

Snapshots: Another Morning, A Smiley and The Ticking Clock

7:15 am. Nadia knew she couldn’t hit snooze anymore. But she hit it anyway. “Last 5 minutes. I won’t take a bath”

7:35 am. Officially late. May be too late even. She snapped her eyes open. She “dismissed” the alarm and slapped her phone screen-down on the pillow with frustration. With some strength from her belly and arms, she sat in her bed facing the wall clock.

” 25 minutes… I really don’t have time for a bath now. 10 minutes for assignment. 5 minutes for changing clothes and for breakfast. 10 minutes to get to the bus-stop.”

Nadia threw the comforter aside and pulled out her assignment papers and pencil from under the bed. As if the reading , re-reading and staring at the question last night wasn’t enough; she reads the instruction again.  As she reads the first words, the following words form in her mind. She knew exactly what she has to do- write a limerick.

She groped for words. She came up with ideas and then shot them down. After a little more thinking and over-thinking she decides to skip the English class today. She shoves all her books in her bag and rushes downstairs.

She climbs down the stairs, skiping one with each step. She makes a final jump anticipating the floor of the dining room ahead, and eventhough she lands perfectly, the surprise of finding one more stair puts off her balance, she trips and crashes into her mother’s wheelchair. The wheelchair stops at a distance while Nadia is struggling to get up.

The loud thud reaches her father. He comes out of the bedroom, soap dripping from his hands.

“What are you upto?”, he says that as if he is making small talk with a co-worker, ” Are you fine? I am sorry I must have left it there…”

“Yes, NO! You… didn’t. It was…umm.. just..there….I..rammed..”

She is fighting for every bit of air now and soon it will be hurting in several places around her ribs and legs.

“Please just finish your breakfast. Be careful. Don’t forget your lunch.”

“Damn it”. It’s 7: 45 already. She sees her father turn towards the bedroom, walk into the washroom and close the door behind him. She had noticed the water stains on his clothes, the soap and realises that he had been giving  mom a bath.

She went into the kitchen to find  bread and egg for lunch packed. Bread and jam for breakfast ready. Mom’s soup is also ready but Dad hasn’t made himself anything yet. She puts together two slices of bread and fried egg together and makes a smiley face on the bread with ketcup. She leaves that at the dining table for Dad and does a time check.

7:50 am. Damn! No time for breakfast. Several siren go off in her head. She wraps the scarf around her head,  puts on the burkha and runs for it…

Snapshots- You Could Have Saved Us

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The last sun of summer was about to set. Abr- The Silent One, cursed the translucent moon.  A wild gust of warm wind swept her red, shiny hair away from her brows. She sensed footsteps behind her and knew who had arrived.

“The Bearers had anticipated an end like this…”

I heard Abr say that out loud. I don’t know what I was doing behind my terrace door so early in the morning; I remember falling asleep on the sofa. Hearing Abr’s voice on my rooftop was even more perplexing…

It’s all burning down. A bit of me turns stone with every bit of my city’s ash that the winds take away with them. Where are you, my creator? Why do I have to watch this?

I heard her thoughts like they were my own. I felt her tears sting my eyes. Was I doing this to her? I watched with her eyes the collapsing city..

Abr, my warrior. She will avenge her people and this ancient city. She will.  She has to. I whispered to her my plan. She is to find them and kill them. 

Suri- The whisperer, my creator. Is this how you truly are? Do you squash every bug that bites you? I am Abr. I have a sword, but I don’t kill. I will save lives now. How many I can. Rebuild the city from its ashes. People need hope more than vengeance. Those who harm others will get theirs…

Besides you planned this massacre. You have a habit of putting everything in a pot and setting the pot on fire. You like to destroy worlds. You drenched Abil’s heart with greed and malice. You gave him the dream of this city and when he couldn’t have it, you had him burn the dream. 

You wanted to see how far an evil person could go.  You wanted to look deeper into his heart and guess what, you dwelled a bit too  long in his heart. Don’t have pity for me. I am the hero. I will find my way. You watch. Just watch like you have did all this time. Stay here, behind this door, and with the knowledge that  you could have saved us.

— I woke up on my sofa, wondering if all writers have characters smarter than them and if these characters pay them visits every now and then. Or is it from reading too much of Illiad?

A Book, An Author, The Sadness

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” This event is gonna be so great. I will be signing away books to people all day. They will ask me questions, wait in line just to let me know that they loved his book…”  She wondered if this were his first thoughts in the morning today.

Then she realised that  not everyone thinks wishfully as hard as she does.

They were people here- at the bookstore, today. But nobody bothered to give as much as a second glance to the author or his book.

The very way that the author is sitting makes her sad- his eyes and brows all scrunched together, he holds his hands in a ball and keeps them rigid on his lap, he is staring at those hands. She hates it. She hates to see his shoulders all rounded up, his head bowed down and the fact that he is using that desk as his defence. Trying to protect himself from  eyes, afraid of what he might find in there.

So what the marketing stint failed. She wants to shake him up. Tell him to get over it.

Then she realised the sad part was not that no one showed up. The sad part is that the author thinks he wrote a mediocre book.  He will have to sit here all day even if no one comes, and she thought if he doubts himself now, how much destruction will he let it cause to his passion and confidence by the end of the day?

She bought his book but not for his sake. She had to know something. She read it.  And she knew that another good book got tossed in the corner. She wondered if she is ready to be an author just yet…

 

 

Snapshots: The Guy, The Girl and The Knife

The following is a prompt by Niel d’Silva on the FB group For Writers, By Authors–

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A woman is bound with ropes at the wrists and ankles. There is a gag in her mouth. She is in a room she has never seen before and does not know of any exits. Her captor is a man, and he is right ahead of her. How does she escape??


This is how I did it—

She kicks and wriggles; the ropes won’t loosen up. Her screams are muffled, ineffective. He watches her, silently.
A little light finds its way in to the room. He seems to be sitting on a chair; his silhouette just as dark and sinister as him. He is rotating something in his hand. The light reflects off the long blade. She freezes. She watches him, intently.

And suddenly...

 He lunges at her, the chair drops to the ground. His hold is firm on the knife, he lunges at her. The little light leaves the room; she shuts her eyes. He lunges at her.

In the next moment…

She opens her eyes and realises that it was all a dream.

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