My first love

Ahhh! My First love!

The unnatural cadence of the heart. The inner tumult in her presence.

The unspoken words. The unwritten love-letters.

The ambrosial pleasure from her smile.

The euphoria brought about by her ebullient tress.

The everlasting yearning to catch a glimpse.

The heart wrenching pain at her absence in school.

The wild agony for the unanswered looks.

The transcendence of emotions, when she laughed.

The daunting proposal. The exultation over victory.

The electrifying feel of her first touch.

The evenings in heavens, The nights in hell.

The joy of springing while walking.

The endless blushing behind a book. The evanescence of walking together alone.

The vacuousness of endless staring at the walls. The impatience understood and teased.

The buoyancy of those nudges. The mystic rapture of decrypting those eyes. 

The turning of tides. 

The broken promises. The sleepless nights.

The futile arguments.The persuasive strokes on the cheek.

The anxiety about the future.

The unfortunate crossroads.

The flared nose. The curled lips.

The life-shattering tears.The unending hug. 

The last breath of hers I inhaled.

The striving to preserve her inside me; forever. 

The love that morphed into a memory.

Fin

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The leaves of emotions

Motionless I stand in the whirlpool of insanity,

in veneration of the chaos, its absurdity, its improbability,

its sheer unpredictability.

The leaves keep on falling,

I just stand and watch.

 

The sun burns them to dust,

The wind swirls them off my breasts,

The merciless rain then sweeps away their cadavers,

I just stand and watch.

 

But, ceaselessly, the leaves fall,

The planets revolve,

The stars die,

The universe expands into nothing.

As it was before. Time passes.

I just stand and watch.

 

But in the stillness of night,

Desperate and hopeless.

You can find me on my knees; crying.

The tears they turn into dew.

For no one to know,

The leaves keep on falling.

I just……

The Black Lotus

 

In a gloomy corner beneath the city’s busiest flyover, blooms a black lotus, which goes by the name of “Shanti”, meaning peace. Relinquished by humanity, she found solace in the darkness mustered by this corner and made it her home.

It was such a vicious darkness that light shivered in fear, at the idea of entrance. The darkness found her unintimidating and she found the darkness soothing. This child of darkness though, was not so dark. Hidden in linens of dirt and mud, one could catch glimpses of her fair skin. People looked at her feeble, emaciated body and turned their heads in to their blissful world of ignorance. Her eyes enunciated the misery and pain, she had walked through. The glimmer of hope in her eyes would make you feel sick to your core, blow away every shred of ignorance in you and force you to prostrate before this wretched wretchedness. But, no one cared or one may say, dared to look in her eyes.

So, this sequestered corner of obscurity has been her dwelling since she could remember. She was found here in the form of a three month old baby, draped in a blue chadar, twelve years ago. Here, the time consumed her and her chadar’s life bit by bit. The air, the moisture, the city and the entire universe, according to her, was trying to destroy her chadar, bond by bond; knot by knot; thread by thread. But, the same thing was being done to her by the air, the moisture, the city and the entire universe; of this she was completely incognizant of.

Bond by bond; knot by knot; thread by thread.

She would have withered away sooner if it were not for her chadar. Her chadar had kept her breathing. The chadar had shielded her from the cauterizing arrows of the sun and was her aegis against the icy cold hands of the winter. Of all the streams of love that flowed through her, though they were few, the most serene and the most pristine of them flowed for her blue chadar. She loved her like a child loves its mother. But, she didn’t know that. How a child loves its mother, was a subject totally alien to her. She embraced her tightly during the lonely nights, for her body cried out, craving for warmth and affection. The chadar soaked not only her sporadic tears and blood but also her pain and misery. She slumbered in her bosoms vacuously when suffused with hunger. The chadar caressed her tenderly through fever and illness. Her chadar sang her a lullaby and she listened though her skin. She cherished her chadar and her chadar cherished her back.

On the outskirts of this kingdom of darkness, lived a tenacious and caring woman. Shanti called her ‘Misri-Didi’ for she always had misri (tobacco) in her mouth. Her body was petite but looked tough and resilient with an apropos countenance. Misri-didi collected empty plastic bottles from garbage and sold it somewhere of which, Shanti had no idea. Shanti helped Misri-didi collect some bottles, for which Misri-didi gave some of the food prepared for her family to Shanti.

Misri-didi’s husband was a notorious drunkard. Everyone called him ‘Bevadya’ (meaning drunkard) for all ruckus he created. Shanti mistook that for his name and started calling him ‘Bevadya’. Bevadya too, somehow liquefied with such unseen innocence let her call him by that name.

The days went by, searching bare-feet through the garbage for bottles. Countless times, pieces of glass had mercilessly pierced her feet allowing the red, scarce blood out. Countless times, the persistent wound had caught infection subjugating her with pain for weeks. Misri-didi applied the only feasible ointment she knew, misri on her wound which inexplicably and miraculously cured it; sometimes. Countless times, she had caught hold of pathogens, the pain magnified by the cold would take her to the boundaries where death lived. But she would somehow fight back to safety. Still fading away;

Bond by bond; knot by knot; thread by thread.

Days may be vanquishing, but the nights were treacherous. When the city slept in its secured fortresses surrounded by the oceans of apathy, the wolves came out of their caves to purloin whatever that can be purloined, pillage whatever that can be pillaged, to ravish whatever that can be ravished, to kill whatever that needs to be killed. The city goes silent save the howling of the wolves and the cries of those purloined, pillaged, ravished, and killed. While the voice of the forlorn masquerading in their fragile tents, shivering in fear with a minuscule hope for the early death of the night, goes unheard.

Misri-didi had admonished Shanti of these wolves. “They come and take little children away”, she said. “They cut off their fingers, hands, or ears, scorch their eyes and then force them to beg on the streets”, she warned. Horrified and terrorized, Shanti had curled up inside her blue chadar in the dark corner behind the huge heaps of filthy plastic bags filled with filthy plastic bottles.

Then one night, they came for her. Sniggering at the absconding sun, they came for her. Howling at the rising moon, they came for her. They knew she was hiding behind the bags. They looked at the curled up silhouette of hers in the blue chadar rapaciously. Underneath the thin veils of the worn-out chadar she shuddered. She closed her eyes and saw herself without hands, legs and scorched up eyes. A thought scurried through her mind that, what would be the last thing in her whole universe, she would like to touch before her hands were cut and see before her eyes were scorched? The answer flickered back in a second and it was in her arms the whole time. She hugged the chadar tightly. The curled up silhouette became more curled up.

They seized one corner of the chadar and pulled it to unveil the terrified and curled up Shanti. She grabbed on to the other corner of the chadar, shivering all over. Unable to bear the tension and the pain, the chadar tore at its weakest. She at once let it go and a sharp yelp ejaculated out of her. They grabbed the chadar and threw it in the corner. She froze. Shudders went down her spine, as if her body was torn along with the chadar. Tears started flowing inexorably and she no more cared where the wolves were taking her and what they were planning to do with her. She stared at the chadar in shock and cried out like a mother that cries holding her child’s cadaver.

They snatched her by the arm and towed her with them. She didn’t rebel. She didn’t fight back. She couldn’t persuade her volition. Her volition wouldn’t have agreed even if she had tried. Everything had gone white for her. She was in the world where only she and her chadar existed in the infinite whiteness. Her bubble was ruptured by the shrill shout of Bevadya. He sprung out his tent with a beer bottle in his hand. When he was in the striking distance, he flung the bottle towards the wolves. It flew by Shanti and hit one of them right in the head. The bottle smashed and shattered into blood laden pieces. One of the pieces went on to pierce Shanti’s thigh making a cut. Blood gushed out. The wolves disoriented by this unforeseen calamitous event, galloped away squealing and cursing. Unfrozen, she hurried towards the chadar. Another piece stabbed her foot, but couldn’t intimidate and stop her. Sniveling and bawling, she held her chadar in her arms. Misri-didi came running towards her and embraced Shanti, pushing Shanti’s head in her breasts. But, she was beyond control.

Her incessant loud wailing stopped when Misri-didi sewed the torn chadar with rotten thread using the rotten needle, both of them, she had found in the trash. Misri-didi positioned Shanti’s head on her lap and began patting the head. It was a ritual to summon the goddess of sleep. “Don’t you cry Shanti” she began plaintively. Her voice broke. She sighed and then finding some strength and firmness, she said “don’t you cry Shanti. It is all God’s doing.” Looking at the stars with a philosophical look, she continued “on the judgment day, I tell you, when we all die. He will be judged for everything he is doing to us. He will be judged for all the suffering in the world.” While her patting continued along with some caressing, she went on “it’s truth, believe me. He will be judged for all the pain and grief we have suffered, everyone has suffered. He will be punished for every terrifying, forlorn night we have not slept. Then he will be castigated to hell by those above him.”  Shanti never knew when the judgment day was or who was going to judge whom or why would it matter if he (whoever) was castigated to hell after all this suffering, grief and pain. She curled herself in the sewed up, salvaged blue chadar and tried her chance at sleep dolefully.

Bond by bond; knot by knot; thread by thread.

Few nights passed. Normal arduous life had returned after a vicious sojourn. Her lesions on the body and her mind had subsided behind a frail veil, biding their time to resurface when she is at her weakest. Adulation from Misri-didi and others for his heroic rescue of Shanti had made Bevadya cheerful and proud. Misri-didi was happy too. Their squabbles too had subsided along with shanti’s legions behind the frail veil.

Shanti used to look at the moon every night with inquisition and hopeful suspicion. She thought of the moon as a giant cookie. Shanti had never tasted a cookie but glimpsed it through the polished glass of the cookie shop. She believed that some mischievous child of god bites some of it every night before rushing off to play, only too be pulled back, by his mother to consummate his half-eaten cookie. Then when the cookie gets over, she lays another fresh cookie for him. She secretly hoped for the cookie jar to be empty soon.

It was a pleasant morning. The sun shone in the sky timorously. The ebullient wind blew strewing the air with serenity. Bevadya had not returned for nights, shattering his previous records of not returning. Shanti was getting ready for an onerous day ahead of her when Misri-didi came up to her. She said “Shante, come we will go someplace else today. Wear your favorite dress.” The favorite dress of Shanti was the one she found while rummaging through a garbage bin behind the plaza. It had vomit stains over it otherwise it was perfect. Shanti had washed it thoroughly and wore it on special occasions which seldom came. Today seemed to be one of them.

She always shined with ebullience, whenever she was presented with a chance to wear her favorite dress. It was pink and had red ribbons on both the arms. It was magical to see the black lotus glimmer with vivacity and exhilaration. She would then curl her blue chadar around her dress. She thought somehow the chadar could see how beautiful she felt and how happy she was. The dress still had the stain marks but the light that glinted out of Shanti blinded everyone and turned them invisible.

She hurried and wore the dress quickly and hopped towards Misri-didi, who told her to bring her chadar along too. It was an odd thing but she never did mind to take her chadar with her for it made her feel secure. May be they were going to stay for a night somewhere, she thought.

They walked for some time along the footpath, while the weather changed from pleasant to stormy. But it could not infiltrate the fortress around Shanti. After all, she had her chadar with her. She was hopping and skipping all the way.

Misri-didi ceasing her strides, turned towards Shanti. “Tell me, what you want to eat? Anything!” she said. Shanti was taken aback by the question which was asked to her for the first time and looked around for answers. She tried to remember the best of the half-eaten things she had tasted. And she remembered how once, she had watched a small boy eating an ice-cream. The sun had thawed it and made it fall to the ground. The boy had started crying and looked avariciously at the ice-cream. She had gone near the fallen ice-cream and had tasted it and it was the best thing, she had ever tasted. Then, the boy’s father had come running and driven her away vehemently, while the dog came and licked away the ice-cream. She told Misri-didi that she would like an ice-cream to eat. It would be the first time she would eat something specially made for her. Happiness combined with gratitude showed on her face. The weariness from the burdens of wretchedness and toil was nowhere to be seen. The misery and pain that enunciated through her eyes were erased through such previously unseen and unfelt affection and love. She clutched her blue chadar tightly as her body got acclimatized to such new emotions.

She looked at ice-cream with acute attention, noticing the minute details as if she knew, this was the last time in her life, she would hold such a thing again. A drop empowered by the sun, began sliding down the cone. She caught it with her tongue and it was ambrosia! The sweetest thing she had ever tasted. Her taste buds must have been dancing and singing with joy as they must have woken up from slumber for the first time. Her face depicted nothing but pleasure. No one could have guessed that this was the same Shanti in whose eyes no-one dared to look. She would have liked to enjoy the moment but the sun persuaded her otherwise.

Misri-didi looked complacent as she watched shanti eat the ice-cream, but worry and anxiousness soon surfaced. She glanced at the corners, looking for something with apprehension and trepidation. Shanti was licking the last drops of ice-cream from her hands when Misri-didi grabbed her hands and started walking. She stopped unexpectedly and bending down on her knees, she looked into Shanti’s eyes. Misri-didi’s eyes were wet and sullen. They were swollen from crying. Misri-didi hugged Shanti tightly and started crying. Shanti couldn’t comprehend the situation a tiny bit. Misri-didi in her broken voice began “Shante….aye….Shante, take good care of you, won’t you? I am sorry. Don’t remember me like this. Ok? Remember me like a mother, wont you? I am sorry.” She hugged Shanti more tightly. “You look beautiful today. Always be like this. Be happy.—sob—-I am sorry. Please forgive me…….whatever happens, listen carefully whatever happens, and don’t give up. He will be punished for everything he does to you. Remember this. I am such a scoundrel, bitch.” She started bawling violently. She began slapping her face and pulling her hair. Shanti stopped her. “Dide…..don’t cry… what happened? Did I do something wrong? What happened?” Misri-didi didn’t stop. Her tears falling on Shanti’s favorite dress made circular stains that would remain on it forever and swirl Shanti into the past, whenever she would look at them. “I am sorry. Please forgive such a scoundrel.” This is all she said.

Then out of a sudden a hand grabbed Shanti and stood before them. The other hand forced something into didi’s hands and towed Shanti along with it. The grasp was immensely tight that it killed every inchoate little desire in Shanti to fight back. She didn’t rebel; the grasp was too daunting; she knew the result. She didn’t cry for help. She didn’t feel like crying. Something had died inside her. The grief and pain had numbed her mind. The faint glimmer of hope that she had in her eyes, vanished.

She kept looking at Misri-didi, who was still crying, slapping her face and cursing herself and the god. She couldn’t decrypt any sense from the situation, but from the behavior of Misri-didi, she knew that she had been betrayed. She clinched her blue chadar tightly.

She knew that now she belonged to this hand that was pulling her to new circles of hell. But, she thought “at least, I have my chadar with me.”

So she walked along the road with her ice-creamy-sticky hand being tugged by a imprecated hand that would take her to the new world of even greater pain, misery and wretchedness; still oblivious of the fact that she and her chadar were being decimated-

Bond by bond; knot by knot; thread by thread.

The Lost Heart

After the war,

We searched ceaselessly for our lost heart

all over the conquered lands.

But in vain.

We searched for it in the temples,

We searched for it in the mosques,

We even searched it within ourselves,

But in vain.

We blamed the gods,

We blamed the devil,

We even blamed each other,

But in vain.

We fooled ourselves in to believing,

that we never had any heart,

We whined, We cried, We bawled.

But in vain.

But all this time A heart was beating

underneath the rubble,

Slow but steady,

Crushed but alive,

Where,we were too proud to look,

Where,we were too afraid to look.

The Story of a Beautiful Flower

Once upon a time, there lived a king with his beloved daughter. Most of the people in the kingdom thought of her as the most beautiful thing they had ever laid their eyes on. Her captivating smile was enchanting enough to bring down a prolific poet to ineffability. Her eyes were a magical juxtaposition of innocence and acumen. Her hair flew in the wind with such effortless grace; it almost looked magical, even surreal. The wind danced around her hair with perfect rhythm nearly falling in love with it. Her face glowed of an aura powerful enough to transform the lust of the most lecherous men into veneration of the beauty that stood before them. Her voice transcended from the physical world and somehow reached the soul of those listening to it, pouring in it the sweet nectar of joy and happiness. Even if God was to descend on earth, he would feel unworthy of her, his own creation.

She ran through the mountains, jumped through the streets, fluttered through the kingdom, bringing with her the deluge of life she had within. People stopped their work to look at her and got overflowed with joy and pride. It was an enigma that girl of such immense beauty had an untainted heart of a child. She talked, played and showed love to everyone, even birds and animals. The thought of being a princess never crossed her mind. Vanity could not cripple her innocence. When she glided through the forest, trees sang along with her, birds joined in the chorus. The wind swayed the trees to the melody of her song. The leaves forsake the droplets to the cadence of her music, flaunting their prowess in this pristine, cathartic orchestra. Tired of all the chirping she did in the day, she slept like a baby in the night to refill her reservoir with the spirit of life.

One night, while she was fast asleep, she felt someone touching her legs. She opened her eyes and was flabbergasted to look into the eyes of the devil glaring at her from the side of her bed. She wanted to scream and yell, but the eyes crippled her. They looked at her with the ferocity of an animal waiting to devour its prey. She had never seen such eyes, filled with libidinal greed and hunger. Her heart was pounding so fast, she thought it would come right out her body breaking off the cage. Her skin burned wherever he touched her. Fear started to grip over her, horror surfaced as the devil meandered treacherously over her body. Still, her muscles refused to move, they won’t listen, she cried and pleaded before them, they just won’t move. Now the devil was all above her, the dreadful pain oozing from every part of her body. Shame started to settle in, it tore her apart. It crawled allover beneath her skin intending to peel off her skin, to scratch off every cell from her body that had come in contact with the devil. The pain never ceased, it increased tremendously with every second as the devil consumed her body and her mind. Her mother had warned her of the devil, told her to be prepared; she wasn’t. Now the pain spread to such parts of the body where she never felt pain before. Blood gushed out, pain and shame intensified to such levels she felt unconscious.

The next morning, she woke up from the nightmare and was slightly glad that it was only a dream, but then stench of blood came over followed by the waves of pain extending allover her body. It created havoc in her mind, the shame, the fear, the terror all returned. She rushed to the bathroom, washed off all the blood, but the stench remained. She threw away her clothes and washed her body again and again. How was she to wash away all the shame, pain, guilt, fear, horror instilled in her mind? She locked herself in her room and stared at the painting of her mother for hours. Her debilitated mind could no longer think of anything other than her mother. She wanted to be with her, immerse herself into her bosoms and forget everything that happened, forget herself. May be the gentle embrace of her mother could have cleansed away the shame indelibly marked on her skin.

Days passed by. She mostly remained to her room. Joy and happiness had absconded, leaving behind an empty shell devoid of life. Her morose and sullen face created rumors of being cursed by a witch. Her eyes looked like pits filled with melancholy and misery. No one had heard her voice for days. It got more frightening at night, sleep seldom visited her. If luckily some night she slept, nightmares crept from inside her sorrow, dark side of her mind and decimated her insides. She almost always woke up screeching and shouting, for the devil’s eyes peeked right into her soul and devoured every essence of life she possessed. Her health deteriorated with her mind. She could no longer run or walk for long distances. She became weak and looked emaciated.

One fine morning, she dared to leave the palace and roam the mountains where she once glided through. But the forest seemed different; it had turned evil as if it was deceitfully planning to harm her. The wind made a shrill noise admonishing her. The shadows of the trees morphed to generate demonic creatures. The birds and animals all had the eyes of the devil which sent shudders through her body. They joined in the cacophony of sound created by the wind gushing through the leaves creating a haunting effect. She ran from the shadows but they seemed to follow her. Her withered body abandoned her and she tumbled into mud. She got up and ran gasping for air towards the village. Even the village seemed unusual, it seemed distant and uninviting. People looked at her disgraceful carcass as it was, with pity and repugnance, even fear. She ran away from their faces from their disturbing eyes towards the castle. She glanced at the sun, which was shining without remorse. The scorching heat became so unbearable that her feeble body abdicated her and fell head first on the ground. Through the red mist, she could see their abhorrent looks, she closed her eyes. She could still hear them muttering. Intense desire to evaporate away completely came over her.

Suddenly, the mutterings vanished; she could hear her heart beating. When she opened her eyes she was staring in to an unbroken emptiness. She stood up; she noticed she could stand up. There was nothing but parched land in every direction wherever she gazed. Suddenly, a silhouette of a woman emerged at some distance. She ran towards her with all her strength. When she got closer, she recognized it as her mother. She galloped towards her using every bit of energy left in her. She wanted to leap into her arms and cry like an infant. But no matter how far she ran, the distance between them remained the same. She looked at her mother in despondency; hopelessness engulfed her. Another figure emerged beside her mother that made her stop in her tracks. It was her sister. Memories started rushing back in her mind. She had always loved her sister; instead adored her to the extent of idolizing her. She could remember how her sister had jumped from the cliff to extinguish her abject life. All of a sudden, it got hazy. The mist started spreading everywhere which made it impossible to see anything. When the mist cleared, she was in her bed and a person resembling her father stood besides her talking with the doctor. She closed her eyes again but in vain.

Seasons changed; her health started improving. Her father had gone to the north to invade another kingdom and was to return after a long time. She spent most of the time gazing from the castle window in to the horizon. From that window, she could see the exact place where her sister’s body was found. She investigated all her servants about her sister, but got no answers. Nightmares had died down along with the dreams of her mother and sister. The king returned with his glorious victory bringing joy and pleasure for everyone except his own daughter. She had lost her war on shame and guilt and was being held as a prisoner. The flower could not protect its fragrance in this lecherous and contemptuous world. She tried her best to forget everything but the thoughts lingered.

Then, one night, as she stood in the gallery, staring at the lights lit in the villages, her mind shimmered with the light. Dark clouds were gathering in communion over the village. Lightning struck inside the clouds, making them glow perniciously. The draconian sound that followed made her quiver with fear. She stretched out her hand out of the window and felt tingle of some droplets. Rain started pouring heavily as if in vicious anger. She stood there in the rain, as if it was pouring just to cleanse her. She thought the rain could somehow wash away the poison that was feeding of her. A voice behind her made her turn, her eyes appalled in terror. The devil had returned to ravish whatever that was left of her cadaver. He walked right towards her; holding her hand, threw her on the floor. As he came closer to her, he grew larger and bigger in her mind. Shivering with fear, she closed her eyes shut. She wanted to throw off the layers of flesh that she wore every day and vanish into nothingness. At that instant, she found herself in the desert, she had visited before. Her mother and sister were looking at her in compassion. She loped towards them but they somehow drifted away as she came closer. Every part in her was pleading and gesticulating for her to be taken away. She could see the land breaking off into a cliff in the distance. Her mother and sister vanished. She scurried towards the cliff and plunged into the ocean below. The cold water felt to her like prickles. But it didn’t matter as she could see the face of her mother which gave her warmth. Something unusual caught her attention when she looked at her sister. Her sister had the same eyes as her. She saw in them the same pain, the same guilt, the same fear and the same hollowness as she had experienced. For the first time, fury blasted in her, exploding in her veins and overwhelming her mind. The terror and embarrassment disappeared, as she looked at her sister, cognizant of the reason of her sister’s death. She opened her eyes to gleam in the eyes of the devil, startling him for a moment. Pushing him aside, she dashed towards the dagger hanging on the wall. The devil understanding her intentions tried to grab her. But she was fast; she had unsheathed the dagger before he could grab her. Then, with all the energy she could muster, she thrust the dagger into his heart. The devil fell on the floor with hands on his heart. Blood was sprinkling out, spraying allover her and the floor. She stood over the dead body of the devil with dagger in her hand, looking at the painting of her mother with ting of glimmer in her eyes.

The next day, the king was found dead in his daughter’s room lying in his own pool of blood. A withered red flower was found right beneath the balcony with a dagger in her hand.