The Unborn

 

He drove at an abnormal speed today, 20Km/hour. He got off work earlier than usual after his last night’s shift. The Sun shone really bright. As if, God had some trouble looking into everyone’s mind and so increased the brightness. The rear-view mirror reflected his anxiousness as he saw people driving past him. Like they were all ready to move on, but for some reason, he was being held back. He turned on the radio. ‘Music helps’, he thought. Madonna instantly shot down his thought and charged him with being Frozen. ‘Or not’, he thought again and turned off the radio. He pulled over at the red light, five blocks away from his home. ‘It’s almost time’, he thought.

The Liquor store by the road was flooded with people today.  ‘Morons fear the dry day?’ He chuckled in response. And then suddenly, his face severed. He remembered his father’s funeral pyre. He has often lived his past in those sixty seconds at the same red light for the past twenty three years. He was eight years old then, the only son. They wanted him to light the pyre. He had always been afraid of fire; afraid, that it might consume him and the people he loved. But it was not the fire that destroyed his father. It was alcohol. He watched the fire bringing solace to his father’s inebriated body. Fire didn’t terrify him anymore. The thin air above the pyre contained images of what his life could have been if his father had stopped at the first peg. Every now and then, ashes flew into those images and parched his heart. Tears rolled down his young eyes to pacify his heart and vaporized before they even reached it.

Horns blared and broke into his reverie and the startled mortal took a spontaneous U-turn and started heading away from his home. His anxiousness had reached the tip of his right foot and he drove as fast as they let him. He was still not free; even though he wanted to be. He drove for the next two and a half minutes and pulled over at a barren lane. He took out a pack of cigarettes, and then another until each cig reached the very core of his lungs. He leaned back for a moment. He was a different person now, ready to face the world. He opened his eyes and started heading back to his house. For the first time since he and his wife decided to take the test, he was completely thoughtless. Monotony took over his life as he reached his house, parked his car and reached the doorstep. Ephemerally.

He opened the door to his house and found his wife sitting on the sofa. He wasn’t exactly expecting a company in dealing with what might change the course of their lives.

“Why aren’t you at work?” he asked.

She stared at him blankly. He noticed the redness in her eyes.

“Did you cry?”

She kept staring.

“Did you sleep properly?”

 She stared still. Her eyes had been pleading to him since they tied the knot; the same old request, over and over again. It has gone unnoticed for thirty nine months. And she didn’t expect him to hear her silence even now. “The reports came in”, she finally found words.

He knew something was amiss. He knew exactly what was amiss. He just wanted to un-know it all. If only.

“Hmmm… What does it say?”

“It’s you.”

“What?”

“It’s you, Akash. It’s you! Your sperm count is low and we cannot have a baby because of YOU!”

She burst into tears and buried her head in her palms that contained her destiny; destiny that she chose to twine with Akash’s.

“But…”He began to speak and she suddenly stood up, giving vent to all her anger.

“But? You still have something to say, Akash? You go on and on about how your father’s drinking problem ruined your childhood. And you smoke all the freaking time, Akash! How the hell are you even remotely different from your father? Don’t you see what you’re doing to yourself? Don’t you see what you’re doing to us?”

“Stop blaming me for everything, okay! You have no idea what it was like to live without a father”

“Thanks to you and your cigarettes, our child will never have to live without a father, because guess what? We cannot fuckin’ have a child, Akash!”

She collapsed on the sofa again and Akash ran to console her. He was hurt and finding her so miserable grieved him more. He had never thought he could love Neha when his parents arranged his marriage with her. But before he knew it, he fell for her. Neha accepted him the way he was, unlike his girlfriend in college who refused to marry him. He held Neha while she sobbed in his arms. She will never be able to console her child when he cries. She will never even have a child. The very thought made her sick.

She fought back her tears, looked him in the eyes, and said “Alcohol ruined your father’s life. Smoking has ruined yours. It took away your career, your girlfriend, your health and now it is taking a toll on our family. When has it ever given you anything? These are all warning signs, Akash. Stop ignoring them. Please.”

He couldn’t find words. He hugged her again. There was nothing in those words he already didn’t know. He just didn’t want to remind himself that he did. He needed a drag again. Instead he thought to go and check on his niece who was visiting during her vacations.

‘Where’s Annie?’

‘In the bedroom. Sleeping.”

He got up and went towards the room. Annie lay asleep on her bed. Akash loved Annie and Annie was crazy about him. She visited the couple twice every year since she was four years old. Every time he saw Annie, he secretly wanted a daughter who he could spoil. He felt guilty for letting yet another dream slip away.

He walked towards her bed, “Good morning, Sunshine! Get up and give me a kiss.”

Akash had mastered feigning happiness by now. He went up to her and took her in his arms. The six-year-old seemed different today. “What? Where’s my kiss?”, he asked.

She looked at him, as if begging for his forgiveness for wanting to refrain from the ritual that bound their summer mornings. “What’s wrong, honey?”, he asked again.

“You don’t smell nice”, she said.

And Akash’s world collapsed. He never smoked again.

 

Moral of the story : Life is too short to learn a lesson the hard way.

 

This blog post has been written for the COLGATE Total Pro-Gum Health Contest.

Visit My Healthy Speak Blog for more.

 

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Here in the Moment

On the first birth anniversary of Camouflaged Whispers, presenting a guest post by Uday Mane.

*Applause* 😀 😀

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

It’s a warm day, he thought.

It was surprisingly a warm day for mid-December. He was wearing a jacket and had started regretting it now. A drop of sweat was finding its way from behind his ear. He rolled down the window and a strong surge of wind barged in against the speeding cab.

He turned towards her. She was lost in her own thoughts, staring at shops racing behind them; trying to catch a glimpse of each, or probably read the names on each. Was this a game she played with herself when riding in a car? He wished to know but decided against interrupting her concentration. The wind had blown her hair away, and now she had brushed them to one side, holding them with her hand. He liked the sight of her by his side.

He was happy for no reason.

She turned to him, and caught him looking at her. There was no change in her expression, neither of a surprise nor of an offense; as if she was saying, I like it when you look at me and can’t get enough of it; whatever this is between us, I wish we could do this and not worry about when the day is close to an end.

He smiled at her and she knew he was expressing his gratitude.

There is nothing to thank, she let her eyes speak.

There was nothing to thank; she loved being by his side, as much as he did by hers. Fate or destiny, what was it, she believed in none or cared less; but whatever had brought them together in this moment; racing against the time, and all odds of the nature pitched against them; whatever this was, was beyond her understanding.

She was happy for no reason.

She smiled back at him, “take off your jacket,” she said. “Aren’t you warm?”

He did, obediently so. He felt light. He put the jacket between them. She picked it up and rested it on her lap.

Let not anything come between us, a random thought crossed her mind and surprised her.

They took a cab, as always they did, from Cadell Road to Nariman Point. She loved this route, and he had come to realize why. She shared a fascination for the sea. She did request the cab driver to drive closer to the sea, no short cuts, take the long way if need be, she insisted. She loved racing by the sea. She loved watching the tides wet the sand serenely, or hit the rocks in rhythm. She loved the sound and sight of it.

They were crossing Worli Seaface. Her eyes were fixated on the water all along, as if she had lived her life yearning to meet the sea, as if to fall in love with it. She looked at it with deep passion, as if she had longed the sea for ages.

She spoke in between her moments, till she caught glimpse of the sea again and turned her thoughts to it. He felt a tinge of jealousy sparkle inside him.

Jealous of sea, he thought, you are losing mind. But why not?

He wanted her, all for himself. And why not? He would give her everything she did ask for.

Everything? Jealous of sea? He mocked at his self.

“What are you thinking?” she asked.

He nodded in denial and smiled again. They had reached Marine Drive and the Sun had begun to find its way beyond the waters. It had changed its color to Orange. The orange that was now shining in her eyes; it made her a pleasant sight.

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” she said drooling at the preparing sunset.

“Yes,” he said, referring to the color of her eyes.

She did not utter another word till the sea, the sand, the rocks and the orange sun were lost beyond the gigantic glass buildings.

“Almost there,” she said reaching for the jacket and handing it over.

They walked along the long curved stretch on Nariman Point, quiet most of the times; but thoughts gushing inside them. When the sun had found its ultimate beauty and threatened to drown miles away, she decided to find a spot and enjoy the view.

He let her choose the spot, and she chose the least crowded one, on a lonely tripod. They let their feet hang in the air, the breeze blowing strong in their face, cold, friendly and welcoming. The orange light was serenely spread over the mile long water lazily stretching in front of them. The water behaved itself, lying peacefully, as if the entire sea had set itself for her pleasure only. The smile on her face was unchanging.

Let this moment stop right here, he thought, let her enjoy the sight of the sea and I the sight of her.

“What is it about the sea?” he asked.

“The beauty,” she said, “is in not knowing why you love something. It’s the only way to protect the love. Why look for answers that don’t matter?”

There was a hidden secrecy in her voice as was the depth in her answer. He had loved her dearly since the day he met her, and he knew no reason. Does knowing why you love something changes the way you look at it? And he wished forever, that he only loved her without having to know why.

“We should not do this so often,” she said. “I may fall in love.”

He wondered and waited to see if there was an end to the sentence. He wished not.

She turned to him and said realizing so, “with the city.”

“Of course,” he said.

They sat in that moment, waiting for the sun to bid goodbye and set far beyond their reach. The sea had begun to disappear in the arms of endless darkness.

“I like being here with you,” she said, “even if we are hardly talking.” She said, smiling this time, in gratitude.

This is the moment, he thought.

“It’s like a dream, isn’t it?” she continued, “looking at the invincible beauty of nature. And when the sun sets far beyond and the sea hides in darkness, you turn back to face the reality that is the deep jungle of glass and cement buildings and a life that hangs on your career choices and depends on learned people dressed in formals.”

“Do you wish for anything?” he asked.

“How do you mean?”

“When we love something,” he explained, “or someone dearly, we wish for them or from them. What is it that you wish?”

“I wish for a house by the sea.” She answered almost immediately. “Far away from the city honks and horns; where the only sound is that of curtains dancing to the tunes of a strong breeze; where I can stroll on the beach after a delightful meal, not worrying about returning to unworldly demands; where I can walk bare feet, feel the sand grains between my fingers and the cold water kiss my feet; where there is wind, water and the sound of it for miles to come. I wish to be in that moment, once and again.”

She turned to him knowing she had spoken long and full of herself. He had been such kind and attentive listener. His eyes deeply absorbing everything she said, slowly turning her words into imaginative reality. He was such a dreamer. Somewhere in those eyes, he had seen and built the place she desired, for her.

“How is it?” she asked.

“It’s beautiful,” he answered.

“But something always seems to be missing.”

“What is it?”

“I wish I knew.”

The street light had taken over conquering the rocks by the sea and the moon was beginning to make its entrance.

“What do you wish?” she asked of him.

“To be in that moment with you,” he said.

And she knew how greatly she had wished to hear this from him.

 

 

Coy and Stub

I have always wondered what happened to that poor cocoa bean, let’s call it ‘Coy’, which apparently, was not good enough to be a part of a Bournville. This is where my imagination took me:

 

After being rejected and insulted in front of all his friends and the people who more or less brought him up, he got up and began to walk out of the chamber. Sadly, nobody even noticed that he’s gone. Not even his friends who were now a part of something, ah! well, something elite! Coy walked out into the hallway and then silently towards the trashcan in a dark corner. The eyes that until a few minutes back harbored so many dreams were now covered with tears. All his friends have been a part of Bournville and Ritter Sport. He remembered his childhood. They always made fun of the cocoa beans that went on to make a sachet of Nescafe. Bru was even worse! Coy always believed that he was different, that he would do something extraordinary. All his hopes were shattered now. He was utterly disappointed.

 

As he reached near the trash can, the place began to stink. It had a hallway of its own. Ants and termites bumped into one another. The water drops dipping from a Kinley water bottle was a manmade calamity for those poor ants. In the corner, a crushed éclairs-wrapper was taking its last breath. The worst thing happened to the pencil shavings. Every time the door to the washroom opened, a strong wind would gush out and blow them away and they would be separated from one another. Coy was petrified at the sight. Just when he was about to enter the bin, a half-smoked cigarette stub called on him.

 

“Hey there Beany boy!”

Coy looked around in surprise.

“Here! To your left.” said Stub, the cigarette stub.

Coy turned instantly to look at Stub.

“Where’d you think you’re going eh?”

Coy was still in tears. He fought back his urge to break down and whispered coyly “to the trash bin…”

“Speak up!” he shot back.

“To the trash bin” He replied. This time more clear.

 

“Willingly? Hmmm.. But why?!” asked Stub, confused. “No one ever wants to go to a trash bin. Everyone’s thrown here. Those sons of humans first use us. And then, when they are done with us, they just throw us away in a stinking pile of dirt and crap!” He took a deep breath and tried to calm himself down. “What’s your story, boy?”

 

Coy narrated him the entire story. In case you are wondering what exactly happened, watch this video here

 

“Hmmm… That’s it? And you gave up? So soon?”

 

Coy’s eyes began to well up again and Stub realized he has been harsh on the poor bean.

 

“Listen to me…” Stub began, rather softly this time. “You see that éclairs-wrapper? A hippy crushed him and threw him there about an hour back. And he’s still lying there helplessly. You know why? Because there’s nothing much he can do about it! He has served the purpose of his life. But look at you! You’re as good as new! You were born to be a part of someone’s caffeine content! And you haven’t achieved it yet. So what if Bournville doesn’t want you? Ritter might. Nescafe might. CCD might. And Bru..oh not Bru. Bru sucks! But that’s not the point. The point is, it’s a big world out there! And it’s waiting for you. If you escape now, you’d be nothing but an escapist! So go, get outta here! Go and do what you’re born to do!”

 

Coy’s eyes lit up with a new-found hope and fire to achieve his goal. Stub had inspired every ounce of him. Overjoyed, he went to hug him. “Hey hey watch out for the fire, dude! The douche didn’t put me out” said Stub. “Now come on, go! Before someone puts you in the bin too.”

 

Coy smiled and began to leave. In the next few days, he went from door to door and on his way, met many beans that were just like him. Few had even met Stub! They all went on to become a part of something better, something valued and respected. Some went to Barista, some others went to Costa, and Coy, along with two more beans, went to Starbucks! Fortunately, none of them went to Bru. And as for Stub, well, he continued to be a Santa for many a broken soul and change their lives.

 

It is the little acts of kindness and compassion that set Santa apart from the rest of the humanity. We love him because he does something that makes us smile. (Sadly, we need a reason to smile.) And so, anyone, with a heart that beats for others, is a Santa. There’s a Santa in each one of us. Most of us simply fail to see him. And you what’s the best thing about it? It’s never too late to see him. Never.

 

 

 

Untruly Yours

His last words incessantly reverberated in her ears. “You have to move on. Without me.” The holy fire in the hawan-kund reminded her of his funeral pyre. Tears hid in shyness in the eyes of the young bride. She pinched her hand, just in case all of this was a nightmare and the one she loved was still alive. She was about to spend the rest of her life with the man beside her. The ceremony was almost complete. He winked at her and said “I am yours now”. She smiled feebly and said “And I am yours”. Untruly yours.

 

A Lifetime Of Eternity


 

As he walked past the glass door entrance of the cafe, taking a quick glimpse of what lay inside, a certain something stopped his feet from moving any further. He retreated a little and took a long and proper look at the magnificent blue cover of the book that had attracted his pre-occupied mind. He stood there for a couple of seconds, took a long breath and entered the café. There were tables for two on either side of the passage that led to the wider seating area and the counter. In the couple of seconds that he stayed outside the café, making up his mind about walking in, he observed something beyond the blue cover. The book was his favorite; the reader, a girl. She sat on one of the tables, facing the door. To her left, on the wall, was a huge mirror. The diamonds on her left ear-lobe shone every now and then in the mirror. With every step that he took towards her, his curiosity aroused more than it got satiated. She sat there cross-legged, leaning her back against the mirror on the wall, her mysterious face covered by the book. She moved a little in her seat, adjusting her posture again. He walked past her and took a seat to her right, diagonally backwards. He had not seen her face yet. She was looking at the door now, still engrossed in her book. All he could see now was her side reflection in the mirror beside her. She kept the book on the table and stared hard, lost in every word she read. She was gliding her fingers into the tangles of her dark brown hair, pulling a few and swirling them, making them go twirl. Her pink nails dived in the ocean of her hair and then emerged out with pride. Her gentle palm took care of every strand of hair that came between the book and her gaze. As she tucked her hair behind her left ear, he saw her left profile. A tiny mole adorned her fair skin, just above her gloss-eaten lips. She bit her lips as she read, the interval between her subsequent blink depicting the tension that the plot of the book created.

 

More people had started walking in for coffee in that cold winter evening. He took out a diary from his back-pack and started scribbling, taking an occasional glimpse at her blinking eye, every now and then. Her lips suddenly curved into a smile as she reached the climax of the book. He gazed at the reflection, awe-struck. She sighed, shut the book, and this time, with her right hand grazing her hair, she turned to look at her contented face in the mirror. In that sea of humanity, he finally saw the face that contained an untold story behind the pages of another one. Their eyes met and he was caught stealing a glimpse of what now had become priceless to him. He quickly looked away and started writing again.

 

She yawned and stretched to disguise her effort of looking at him through the mirror. Her eyes had already registered a complaint against her stalker. But her heart seemed to favor the culprit, no matter what the mind said. He seemed in his early twenties, clad in a Lacoste, Denim and Converse from top to bottom. His jacket covered the bare shoulders of the chair he was sitting on and his guitar leaned against the wall to the right of him. He was writing something with mock seriousness. Every now and then, he would look up, as if engrossed in a deep thought. With the top of his pen near his chin, he would look around for inspiration and finally, finding some in the reflection, would continue to weave words again.

 

And then, like any cliched romantic movie, a series of seemingly never-ending exchange of looks took place, each with the perfectly wrong timing, completely evading the possibility of any prospective eye-contact. Losing her patience, she finally decided to turn back a little and look at him. Just as she turned, a waiter came and stood in front of his table, prolonging the mystery a little more. Disappointed, she turned to face the door again. The waiter then came to her table, gave her the menu and asked her, in the most polite manner possible, to place her order at the counter. The poor waiter, despite all his etiquette  had been cursed. She took a deep breath and got up from her seat. He looked up at her. Determined to get what she wanted, she got up, turned back and making a piercing eye-contact with her stalker, walked towards the counter and said, “One black coffee, please?”

 

She took the bill and paid the amount. As she stood there, waiting for the change, she turned to take a quick look at him. He was still there, engrossed in his diary.

 

“This will take a minute, Ma’am”

 

She politely smiled at the guy who took her order. After a couple of minutes, she finally got the change and turned back in exhilaration to see him again. But he was gone. Her heart ached a little. She felt like a farmer fooled by the dark grey clouds that shed no rain. She gathered herself quickly and started walking towards her table. Despite the rush, the café now seemed empty to her. She sank into her chair and her eyes fell on a little piece of paper pressed within the pages of her book. She took the paper out and began to read,

 

“A lifetime of eternity

Lived in an ephemeral moment

An eternal satiation

Now dwells in my eyes that met yours.

Eternal the memory, eternal the joy

Eternal like the Helen of Troy

In this brief odyssey left to traverse,

Eternal be you, in this eternal verse.”

Soaked in Love.


The shudder from the sudden cold brought her back to consciousness. She had stayed up all night, working on her thesis. This was the first time she had slumbered on her study table. Inadequacy of caffeine, she guessed and went on for some more. It was an exceptionally cold afternoon. She went to her balcony, hoping to catch a few feeble rays of the dying Sun. A part of the gallery was strewn with wet lifeless leaves and buds. It rained, she assumed. The children in her neighborhood had just started coming out of their homes. It was quiet, except the occasional rattle of their bicycles, hesitant chirping of a pair of birds and the tolling of the bell in the temple near-by. A lot has changed since she first moved here with her mother. A few haphazard houses have turned into, what it seemed, a whole new world. Until last fall, she had perceived all of these changes in the company of her mother, over their evening cups of coffee. She was all by herself now. Probably, too changed herself, to perceive any change in the world around her.

The telephone-ring broke into her reverie. She went inside and received the call.

“Hello?”

“Amy, he’s dead.”

She knew the voice. It was her aunt. She knew the ‘He’ too. It was her father.

“Come home, Amy. At least now.” She was choking with tears. Amy’s had dried up already.

“When did it happen?” she asked, avoiding her aunt’s request.

“Last night.”

“How?”

“His car went off the road and collided with a rock. He was soaked in blood when the cops found him. ”

“Oh! Blood, for a change. It has always been alcohol.” she said apathetically.

“How can you be so heartless?!!”

Amy was quiet. Her aunt was obviously heart-broken. He was her only brother. Amy understood her pain. But not enough to console her for his death. Frankly, she couldn’t care less.

“Amy, your father loved you.”

“He loved his alcohol more.” Amy snapped. She heard her aunt sighing on the other end.

“Tomorrow is the funeral. You are coming, aren’t you?”

Amy paused for a while.

“I’ll see what I can do about that.”

“Don’t be so cold, honey. He was your father. I agree he has not been a good one. But still. It’s his funeral we’re talking about. You should be there.”

“I gotta go, Manny. You take care. Bye.”

Her aunt sighed again. “Bye, Amy.”

Amy hung up. She was benumbed. A long-standing pain dwelled within her. She didn’t live in the past. Nor let the past live within her. But it kept visiting. And she let it. She lied back on the couch. Dire memories tormented her mind with a gale-force. The ones, once hazy, seemed so vivid now. A wasted father, her father, assaulting his 9-year-old daughter. The only daughter. The cold wind blew again. She rubbed her hands against her arms for warmth, feeling patches of burn from the stub of her father’s ciggarette. There were lots of them. At lots of places. She had often thought of getting a tattoo to hide the burns. But then how many tattoos could she possibly get? Moreover, she got attached to her scars. They did remind her of the pain she has gone through. But at the same time, they also filled her heart with gratitude, for if it wasn’t for her mother, the situation could have been worse.

 

 A part of her wanted to go and see her father for the one last time. The man who had   a role in molding Amy into who she is today.  The other one, was still brimming with disgust for molding into who she is today. Her father introduced her to hatred. But her mother taught her about the thin line between love and hatred. As she sat there, pondering over the reminiscences from the past, her eyes fell upon a photo-frame that lay on the table adjacent to her. It was a picture of her dad holding the one-day old Amy. She had seen the picture a million times before. But at that moment, for the first time, she saw something that she has missed for all those million times. She saw her father’s eyes. The two satiated eyes, filled with love and pride. His lips didn’t curve into a smile but his face certainly beamed with joy.  It suddenly dawned upon her, that for over 14 years, she has been letting hatred win over love. so much so, that she had not let love register in her senses. All she saw, heard and thought of, was betrayal and hatred. She could not let that happen. She owed this to her mother. And to her father’s eyes, that never really reflected betrayal. All they spoke of, was love. It was the alcohol that changed his perspective momentarily.

The next morning, with the verse, For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God ”  from Bible, she bade farewell to her father. Amy was transformed. Just a night before, she was brimming with hatred. Now, she was soaked in love.


PS. This post is written for Indiblogger’s ‘Surf Excel Matic #SoakNoMore Contest‘.

The Last Drop.

Drops of rain ornamented the railing of the porch where they sat religiously for their evening tea. The leaves of the money plant conspired with water droplets and tickled Hugo’s ear. The poor thing  jumped in surprise and annoyance and began to bark at the innocent plant. The old couple chuckled at the sight.

“Have you ever seen a container overflowing with water?” asked the old man.

“Joseph,  I have lived for sixty-four years. Of course I have. Why do you ask?” replied his soul-mate in her usual mocking tone.

Joseph and Liah have been more than happily married for forty six years now. They melted into each other perfectly; understanding not only each other’s words but also silence. Time and again, however, they surprised each other with their witty romantic expressions of their love that only augmented their fondness for one another.

“You see, Liah, just before the container begins to over-flow, it reaches its equilibrium. A drop of water falls in the container such that, neither the water in the container spills over, nor the container is capable of holding any extra drop. It’s in equilibrium. It’s stable. Complete.”

“Umm.. okay. So?” she asked, still confused.

He looked at her straight in the eye, smiled and said,

“You are that last drop of water in my life, Liah. You  complete  me.”