Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"IT"



Often the road ahead is blocked. It is so hard to explain it. I catch my breath to give my mind some strength. I look up from my cynical the-world-is-over thoughts and the world around me dissolves instantly. I only see ‘it’ standing fiercely tall. My legs tremble in fright, I breathe in and out to muster all my might. ‘It’ stood insistently between me and growth. ‘It’ stood without a window or a door. I had to find a way around or climb my way across. I stared at ‘it’ for seconds that turned into hours, trying to imagine a way. I pictured running ‘it’ down, head on. I ended up with a throbbing head ache. I placed a ladder to climb over ‘it’. Midway I realised the ladder would always be too small. I climbed back down to find a way around ‘it’. If I avoided ‘it’ altogether and just dodged ‘it’, ‘it’ would no longer be an obstacle in this race course of life. No matter which side I walked ‘it’ stretched all around. I eventually tired myself out enough to land on the floor and stare at it. I noticed its large size, the gravity of the situation I was in. I knew then that I had to face ‘it’, deal with ‘it’, and bring ‘it’ crashing down if I had to go ahead on this road. I could turn around walk away and find another path. But I was sure that sooner or later I would be faced by ‘it’ again. I knew ‘it’ had to be dealt with right away. 
I stared ‘it’. I looked at its superficial coating. I looked beneath that to understand what it was revealing. I probed to explore the intricacies to estimate how the process of demolishing would unfold. I knew that physically I would never be able to bring ‘it’ down. I had to find ‘its’ weaknesses and work on those. I noticed ‘it’ was far from shaky and had a strong rooting. So that was an open and shut option. It then struck me.
I pretended ‘it’ was all a farce, the obstacle was merely in my mind. I floated a thought of bringing ‘it’ down. I heard the sound of bricks crumble. But this was just the beginning. I focussed harder on it. I told myself if I opened my eyes ‘it’ would seize to exist. I told myself ‘it’ was deconstructed within and that the battle is fought in the mind. The battle won there is battle won over all. The battle was fought today for sanity and company. The war was waged by me against my wall of fears; demolishing it to emerge fearless and stronger. It takes courage to spot the wall within, it takes strength to bring it to its end. It made sense to acknowledge its existence, to focus all my energies in making it part of history. I knew its remains would be there somewhere. But singular entities are much easier to address than an army of them, standing together and tall fearlessly attacking you. I eased my mind by telling myself that the battle is won. And all I had to do was realise it was all in my mind.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Racing thoughts..

It all seems wrong,
the messed up balance in this world,
I see him fight with all his might,
but the force of the wave brings him down,
on his knees he lies,
he pleads to the lord to save him,
he finds a way to his feet,
he strives to climb the ladder so steep,
until he is pushed down along the way,
his faith stifled,
his strength drained,
he still staggers along the way.
How much longer will he last,
without divine help.
How much can he do all by himself.
This world has tons of judgments and tons of talk,
it has ways to put you in your spot.
He wonders if he depends too much on these signs,
he wonders if he will always be left behind.
When will he run along side, forget ahead of his peers,
when will his worst fears stop turning real.
The world's voice has gotten too loud,
the world's ways have gotten too foul.
When will he get what he deserves,
When will the sun light up his path.
Time will reveal the truth,
And I hope the time has come,
and I hope the time is now.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Together forever.

He approached her from behind. She didn't know what was coming and she did not expect that attack. He ran from behind and stopped few feet behind her and growled. She did a sudden turn and she growled bravely. She didn't hesitate. She barked and he inched back. She barked loudly and continuously. There was the patter of paws from behind. In a jiffy there were around four more four legged fur balls by her side. They stood like the Great Wall of China. They howled, probably calling their friends. Before I knew it, more were there and the line up was ready to wage war. The opposition was outnumbered, one to 8. He made noises, calling his kind. They scampered from across the street and by lanes to be by his side. Mothers, children, fathers, brothers and sisters whom he knew and who just responded to his SOS were all there for him.

I stood on my terrace watching in awe. They stood by each other in times of need. They answered the calls with such immediacy it was magnificent and moving. I wondered if I stood out outnumbered on the road and called for help if the response would be half as much. I have grown up in a place where dog vs. monkey fights were always omnipresent. I notice how the war was never one sided. The war was always fought in numbers and fought with pride. It is probably a hallucination in my mind, but animals are aware of the united we stand policy. How I wish we humans learnt it. How I wish.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Stay away.




She looked at them with such love. It was a sight I wouldn't forget for a while. She counted them mentally ensuring all along that she did not lose sight of any of them. Her heart filled up for them. She gently moved towards them. They were together in a pile and you could barely distinguish between each one. But from the look in her eyes, she had memorized each one of them. She lie down next to them, shutting her eyes to rest, never taking her mind of them. She opened her eyes at the slightest sound. She feared they would be taken away and the thought terrified her. She couldn't be separated from them. They were her own. He approached her, probably to get a better look at them, to check up on her. But she stirred and growled. She didn't want anything to come close. She was adamant about it. He retreated and she dozed back after making sure he had moved far enough behind. I noticed the protective, possessive attitude she already showered on them. It was like she had enveloped them in a bubble that she would use to keep them away from evil.
It was scary and cute all at the same time. I didn't dare go near her. I was tempted to pick one of them up. They were tiny and pale brown, all eyes shut tightly, cuddled together. The aura around the mother and her puppies was one of serenity mixed with the warning she was sending out. It was the first time I saw such love, at such an early stage. The mother had just given birth to her pups less than ten minutes ago. Yet, she knows them, probably better than all of us in the room put together. There were 7 of them in total and their coat shined as the light from the window fell on them lying on newspapers on the floor. The mother, a beautiful whiskey brown Irish setter stayed close and the father a shade lighter, watched from across the room at his own. She took a while before she let even him near them. He crawled closer and lie near them. He didn't play the protector though. That was totally her job description.
I was just a spectator in all this; boy was it a miracle to watch. It sent me into a thinking spree as I felt we all had our own, not necessarily brought into our world in the similar way. But, ones that we chose to call our own. I thought of the ones that I would growl to protect from danger, ones that I would fight for. I realised we all have our puppies, we might not realise it yet but we have precious bundles of arms and legs that we would go that extra mile to protect from harm.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Plain scare.

I unlock the large wooden door to my house. I hang my keys by the door, slip out of my sandles to walk towards the kitchen. I open the refrigerator to grab an apple and quench my thirst with some soda. I stand with door ajar and get lost in the cold air. I then close the door to head to the living room. I land on the couch, place my legs on the side table and switch on the T.V with the remote control. I suddenly notice a light glowing in my room. I am sure I did not leave it on as I left home at 8 in the morning. I sit jolted in my spot as the T.V blares in the background. I compose myself and get off the couch. I tip toe to my room on the right. I gently move my blue curtains aside to peep in. There is a red splatter across the floor that doesn't resemble ketchup from a long shot. I'm frightened till my bones but I step in and notice the trail of blood lead to my bathroom. As I push open the door of my bathroom, the letters KILL stare at me in bold red on my mirror. The sink showed signs of blood and water. I take a deep breath before stepping forward to see a beheaded chicken in bucket of blood inside my bathroom. I scream and rush to call my supervisor. As I dial the number I see a shadow swish past me in the other room. My legs shake as I turn ice cold with fright. I stand frozen resigning to my faith whatever it is...
I shut the book with a thud. The words swirled in front of me, all around me. The pictures of what the scene would have looked like frightened me. I couldn't even imagine living through that without a heart attack. I pulled my sheets over me, switched off my night lamp, said a little prayer to ward off the evil eye, cursed horror novels and went to bed. I silently told myself to never read scary stuff when home alone.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Till death do us part...

Her eyes caught my attention from across the room. She smiled and laughed but the joy never did reach the depths of her eyes. She sat with a large group of people and ate her meals. They all seemed happy. However to me, they all were a blur, only she stood out. I had never spoken to her till that day. I saw her get up and make her way to the water cooler. I followed swiftly in an attempt to engage her in a conversation. I stood behind her in line at the water cooler. She turned and smiled at me like she usually did when our eyes met in the hallway. She had a vibrant smile, never showing her teeth but a big broad smile lit her face up. I initiated some small talk. By and by I told her I would be going to a dance drama that evening. I invited her to join me if she was free. Without any hesitation she agreed. We made plans to meet by 7 at the hall. She waved enthusiastically as she headed to class. I remember that wave oh so distinctly. I couldn't help but smile to myself all through my afternoon class. We had always politely smiled at the other. But I never dared approach her. There was a warmth about her but my anti--social tendencies held me behind. Each day I wandered into the lunch room alone and watched the display of human actions unfold. It provided good entertainment and I never felt the need to associate myself closely. There was the odd day when I felt the need for company. That day was something else, her eyes were calling out to me and I did not resist.
I put all thoughts aside as I opened my room door and attempted to put together an outfit. I slipped into a beige casual dress, simple black sandles and left my hair open before waving out to my mom as I rushed out. I bought two glasses of soft drinks, before I spotted her. She was dressed in a dull red skirt and a white tee. She looked pleasant and her eyes sparkled. There on those steps when we exchanged a hug, I knew she would become a part of my life.
We didn't take any oaths, we didn't sign a deal, but a silent pact of sisterhood bound us together. We didn't need to always be around the other but a force inevitably brought us together. That was the day I met Laney. That was the day we found each other I would think. Every relationship has a unique characteristic to it. Ours was one were we never needed to say, it was always understood. We didn't need to take an oath to stand by the other in sickness and in health. It was natural instinct.
With her around, I began to feel less complex and more secure. As I glance over the lunch table now, she smiles and raises her eye brows at me. Her eyes shine and I can't help myself as I lean over and whisper, "Till death do us part"...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mind games.

Confusion forms a part of the unknown new entries in his mind. He questions the reason for their presence there. Knowingly he sets the questions aside and addresses the problems at hand. The questions linger at the back of his mind. They wander in when the body is idle and wander out when the mind is put to work. Having had enough, he dodges around them, but fails. He builds a wall around them, confining them to a corner of his mind. They multiply, overlap and soon take over that area. They scream and shout, demanding his attention. He lets them play in the background. But they won’t be denied what they deserve. They burst, spilling muck all over, turning his mind into occupied land. Now, he gives in, he pays heed. He cleans the thoughts and drains the good from the nasty. He leaves specks behind that just can’t be cleaned. He lets them be. He forces himself to believe they don’t matter. They gnaw at those areas little by little. They hurt his mind but he felt it is temporary. He enjoys the new enforced calm. And imagines it will stay.
One of those specks leads him to think that all this is just the calm before the storm. As he basks in the harmony, he sincerely hopes for his sanity and mental peace that it becomes permanent.

Hallucinations.

She lies awake in bed, staring at the beige ceiling. The fan spins at a pace, making it difficult to focus. She sits up in bed, irritation running right through her. She walks to the bathroom to splash water on her face, to rid herself of the aggressive energy. She stands with her hands on the sink, glances up at the mirror, to see a ghastly image. Frozen in fright, she stumbles back and collides with the wall. She stares at her pale face, blood shot eyes and messy hair. She leans in to scrutinize, only to notice another image hovering around, almost mocking the lack of an existence. She reaches out to feel that silver reflection, that livelier image. It looks like a ghost. There is certain paleness about it. But it is just the translucence playing with her mind. It looms overhead, shocking her, shaking her vision and mind. Her double vision slowly blurs eventually fading to black. The next sensation is of icy water falling on her face. Her roommate was standing over her, deep in worry, screaming her name while holding an empty mug of water. She had collapsed from the trauma of the hallucination. As she lies on the floor of her bathroom, she finds herself drained of energy and totally shaken. She grasps the hand held out by her friend and picks herself up.She sighs in relief as it is least over.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Inner being.

She looks around her. Everyone conceals themselves in their own lives; submerged in thought or deep in discussion and almost always, both. It is ironic how everyone isn’t just a single piece of existence. A girl in her class happened to mention the presence of “fragmented lives”. She begun to marinate this thought and she realized how she is not a single, unified piece. However, does one have the courage, to explore these fragments of ourselves? Or do they remain unearthed, till we become one with this world. It tempts her to further question if people do believe in such an existence. One where, all the pieces are stitched neatly together, in a unique form, that is exclusive to just that being. Probably the stitches differ; in the sense, every one of us is put through tests in this life. We all don’t, however, learn the lessons in the same way or in a similar span of time. This creates a difference in the core of each person. Our contents are approximately alike, but the composition varies. This makes understanding and relating to others very tedious. It takes patience, time, understanding and compassion. Accepting ourselves is a task in itself, expecting others to do so is asking for too much, she thought. Being in someone else’s shoes, hence, is close to impossible. Bringing about the concept of the troubles involved in the co existence of two beings. However, is it genuinely so difficult to imagine another explanation to every action? Is it too much to try, just try, to perceive another point of view?
She focuses on the fights around, the screams and shouts of her fellow ones. Her eyes stop short, when they narrow in on a couple that seem in harmony. She can’t help but stare. Her eyes blink in disbelief as she witnesses laughter, smiles, joy and even love. She walks past them smiling at her reinforced faith in some traces of goodness. She then goes back to her thoughts of our fragmented existence. Only to realise maybe, her life clicks with ones that she mirrors. Her patches match with those that have seen what she has. Her ideas evolve around those that fine tune them for her. She “gets along” with ones whose inner most fragments are most similar to her. The others she strives to understand and along that windy path she struggles to not forget the essence of herself. As she learns, unlearns and relearns all the lessons this life has to teach her, she simply accepts that it all will help in holding herself more together, a tighter and stronger inner being. Hopefully through the tests of time, she will be lesser prone to falling apart and a more stable individual.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Run on..

I bend into my stance, preparing psychologically and physically in the process, for my run. As the whistle goes, I start running. Camaufloging into the crowd running and just run my own race. I find it hard to compete, to fight neck to neck with my fellow comrades. I look down at my watch, I am running three seconds too slow. I up my pace by a bit. I glance around me, the day is a beautiful one. The green trees bring a smile to my face. The birds chirp as the sun shines brightly making it a gorgeous day for the run. I continue to run and soon I notice stares directed at me. My run is still two seconds behind. I huff as I pick up my speed. I take deep breaths and I slowly inch forward making my way through others fighting, struggling to move ahead. I fight my very own battle with stamina and endurance as I make my way around the track.
I love to run. I love even more to run on a beautiful day. I enjoy running 400 to 800 m. I am suitable for the longer sessions cause I can withstand time better. On the other hand, pace doesnt come very naturally to me.
As the run continues on and soon enough the finish line comes in my line of vision. Then, I notice two others along side of me. Glancing nervously between each other and the now faster approaching red ribbon they run on. I calm myself and run my best 100m run. As the ribbon falls and the crowd applauds, I forget the taste of victory and bask in the sweetness of the run. I look around at the other atheletes all bending over catching their breath. Looking dismal at their own remarkable performance. Pleading me to ask the question if life is all about the final destination? If yes, then the beauty of the journey was never truly experienced.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Surreal.

I can barely open my eyes. With all the strength I can muster, I open them slightly. It feels different. The back of my head is throbbing. I attempt to pick up my hand. However, I can not feel its existence. My eyes begin to close again. I struggle to keep them open but I fail miserably. Slowly I lose control and give in. Darkness steps right in.
I stir. I have no recollection of how long it has been. I recall no memory of where I am or how I got here. My eyes reject every message from my brain. Anyhow, I can feel my hands this time. My legs are far from straight. It feels like pressure from the heel end. I try to get up. I send an “I am ready” signal to my mind. My mind has a mind of its own right now and all my messages remain inaccessible to it. Post ignoring my impatience to stand up, I feel the competence to gradually open my eyes. The action is slow and draining but at the very least I’ll figure out where I am. Or so I hope.
I am positive minutes go by in my dismal attempts at opening my eyes. Several of these efforts resulting in my eyes just shutting, after barely opening into slits. Finally my struggle is fruitful. I look to place where I am. But it is too dark to put a finger on it. Not like I could pick one up even if I tried. I’m unable to even manage a laugh at my own bad jokes. Any movement just seems too much of a task. My eyes scan the view from this position I am in. It looks like I have landed myself in a hole. And a deep one at that. But I am a large man. How did I fit in a hole? Must be a darned pit.
Memories before these hours of black, come back to me, bit by bit. I had slipped out of my room for a run. They must have been digging something here and in the dark I didn’t notice to only fall right in. My head begins to throb more. The thought processes were aggravating it I guess. I feel the last thread of energy leave me as my eyes close and I go blank.
I can barely estimate how long it is before the light rays reach me in my new found place. They shine on me and I can feel the warmth spread through me. Steadily passing from my hands to legs, giving me the strength I need to be able to move them. Or that’s how it feels. I don’t feel cramped any more. My feet are able to move. I still feel weak but I have control over my limbs. Almost painlessly I open my eyes. A fan spins over my head, I can feel a mattress under me, a pillow cushioning my head and even a sheet over me… I sit up in the bed to realize I am in my room, in my bed. Safe and sound. I can’t even manage a sigh of relief because I don’t feel even an ounce of respite. I look around to find the curtains open and the sunlight welcoming me. Then it hits me, it was all a dream, a very real and traumatizing one. I step out of bed and my legs quiver almost giving way under the pressure of standing up. Apparently, I am still very shaken by it. Can I be blamed? It was all so dark and deep.
But strangely enough as I walk to my bathroom, with a little difficulty, I can remember every detail of it with precision. I wash my face with cold water to splash myself back to reality. Then I abruptly stop, with the tap still running, to see why it felt so real. Maybe because it is symbolic. Not just of my life, but every life at one point. It makes me wonder, if it is about knowing you need to wake up and snap out of it. Probably it is. Possibly, I just received my wake up call.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Leap.

It seems so achievable yet such a task. How often has dad told me to walk up to it without any fear, to look it square in the eye and just take the leap. I never really listened to him. I mean, I did. But applying it was a whole different thing. It had become about reaching new heights and surpassing milestones. Dad was not the kind to push me very hard, always just that encouraging nudge. But today it was a bit more coercive and it really shocked me.
We drive in utter silence, quite normal conversation for us both. However, today his eyes were doing all the talking and more. They shone with resolve. He seems set on giving me that urge to believe, to make me see through his eyes. He did give me strength. Naturally, I doubt how long it would linger before being blown out by my cynicism. He seems more positive than me and it was apparent in his cheering smile. His emotions had come to the fore clearly and it shook me up. He believed in me. He believed I could do it and that it would be me who would be victorious.
Unfortunately, I give in to my fear too often. I get muddled in what ifs and what not and all my hard earned vigor comes to a staggering halt. We continue on our journey, still in that silent daze. I didn’t need to close my eyes to see his eyes radiating hope. Our drive finally comes to an end, so I turn to him and smile. He gently pats my back as he drops me off and solemnly wishes me luck. My smile broadens as I step out of the car. He never came to watch but he never failed to drop me off. It made him too nervous to stay and watch, I assume.
I walk in with a tiny bit of confidence, shaking cause of my nerves and place my bag down. I sit down and pull out my running shoes. I change into them and stay sitting on the ground for a while, still swamped by my anxieties. I need some movement I realize. I get up, warm my body and stretch a bit. I see the other girls doing the same with thrice as much confidence. I must look quite hopeless. I feel like it at least.
Soon I hear the announcement in a gruff male voice demanding the attention of the women in my section. I jog up to the reporting stand. On checking the names I find mine right on top. “Great”, I mutter to myself. I jump to calm myself, start walking to give myself a run up, simultaneously preparing myself, mentally for a few practice jumps. I steady myself, start running, step on the plate and jump. They obviously don’t measure these. I repeat my routine twice more before they are ready for us. “Under-17 national selections for Long jump girls. 12 candidates but only 2 will be selected”, the voice booms through the speakers.
We had all practiced hard and waited in baited breath for this day. And it all came down to three jumps. “Nina Lawson”, the speaker literally roars. The sound of the go whistle follows my name, indicating its time I give it my first shot. I jump up, close my eyes for just a milli second and I see a vision of my dad’s eyes. It gives me a sudden boost of energy reeling me into my most confident state of mind.
I set my eyes on the pit as I run as fast as I can, step on the plate before flawlessly taking that huge leap and land in the pile of sand with a sigh. They measure as I walk back for my run up. Though my name followed by my jump resounds through the air, I pay no heed as a gear up for jump two. I just repeat my routine again and again.
6.43 m; I am later told is my best out of the three. These three jumps are probably my best jumps till date. Not just in length but the emotions enveloping them. It was like a leap of faith. And it felt just perfect.
Even if I hadn’t made it to the national team, today would have been one of the most prized days of my life. After the years of practice and hardwork invested in it, along with the hours of brooding over it, it all came down to that look in his eyes. The one that simply stated, better than any language probably would, that he has faith. Pure unwavering faith in me.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Time.

I sit up straight in my bed. I am sweating a tad more than the usual. I rummage around on my small night table for my glasses. I put them on to see that it is just about sunrise time. I look around for Cindy, my beloved wife. Not seeing her anywhere, I presume she must already be at church. She had an early morning mass routine that despite age and sickness never shifted. I slowly get out of bed and reach over for my walking stick by the wall. I stick my hand into my glass of water and plop my dentures into my mouth before I make my way to the bathroom. The early morning businesses needed my fleeting attention. I was never much of a fan of brushing, flossing and cleaning. But Cindy would through a mad fit of rage if my dentures didn’t look their shiny best and I do not like to make her angry.

I feel more disturbed than the ordinary today. I stare at my reflection in the mirror while I grip the basin with one hand. A few more wrinkles I chuckle to myself. I concentrate hard to recollect last night’s dreams. But considering how disturbed I feel it was probably a nightmare. Unfortunately nothing concrete visualizes. I hope my routine morning walk will spark things up. I hurriedly make the bed, fluff the pillows, turn off the fan before grabbing the keys and wearing my shoes. I pull the door behind me and stagger off down my driveway.

Cindy and I will be married this spring for 60 years and we have lived in the same house all through. Our kids have walked, fallen and run on this very driveway before growing up and going places. We have come a long way since our initial years of crazy love and parenthood. Fond, warm memories of Cindy come rushing back to me as I coincidentally cross paths to the church.

I walk on past it tapping my stick along to a well known rhythm in my head. I finally reach my rejuvenation spot, a bench in the nearby park. I land myself on the bench and I am left gasping for my breath. My old age is really catching on and I better admit it. I look around at the sun rising, the early morning breath of pure nature is breathtakingly energizing.

The park is pretty deserted except a couple of lone joggers, some brisk walkers and a sprinkle of pregnant mothers all getting in some exercise before the sun makes itself comfortable in the sky. They all seemed pretty charged and probably had only just arrived a while before me. The park is one of my favorites because of the lack of noise and the sensible crowd of adults that trickle in. It always ensures my bench experience stays pleasant.

The trees looked to be shedding their way to autumn. I gaze at a nearby tree, its huge astounding charisma regardless of the age and the present nearly dry state. Beneath its mighty branches is a small pile of brownish yellow leaves. However, the tree is still bearing a couple of piles more. As I watch the tree a small breeze blows, few more leaves detach and drift to the ground. It all reminded me of the ever constant change. Change in my life over the decades, change in this tree in the past few minutes, change. It happens to everything and everyone I deduce. But dealing with it has never been easy, for me at least. I watch on as the tree faces the steady change of season as it persists standing tall with its eternal beauty never reducing. The tree embraces change making it seem so effortless and conquerable.

As I pick up my head, still swimming in these thoughts I see Cindy walking towards me in her familiar flowery gown and smile lit face and I realize the strength she brings to me with her overwhelming presence. As she sits down next to me and our smiles do all the talking, I am just left feeling glad that we, Cindy and I, lived on and grew old together. Despite every change and the storms of time.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Simple things.

She walked into her room, gently lifted the aquarium off the table and placed it on the floor. She sat cross legged on the floor peeping into her aquarium with excitement and awe. Her aquarium was unlike others. She had hand picked the members of it and it was a strange assortment. She had two turtles, three snails, a couple of gold fish, shiny black pebbles, clear water and a small mound of sand with a bridge to reach it. It was a square tank, quite big but essentially not heavy and an easily portable one. She usually placed it on her night table by her head, throughout most of the day and all night. But everyday she has a habit of placing it on the floor to look inside. Her beady eyes gleamed with joy every time a turtle surfaced onto its little island. And with marvel each time a snail fell off the walls and into the water. Or just intrigue when a fish nibbled on the colourful pellets. Remarkably, she never went a day without her staring session and absolutely never forgot to feed them. She peeped into it each day with the same warmth as the previous. Her thrill of watching them failed to make any sense to me. I never probed or intruded to understand. I just let her be. Her fascination I thought would fade away with time. If not, someday I hope to be able to see through her eyes.
It's been 2 years, 3 months and around a week and a half since we first went to the pet store. Fishes have bellied up and been replaced, snails have shriveled and the turtles have grown, but her everyday routine has not altered even a bit. She still sits and ogles.
She never threw a tantrum when she found one of them belly up. She calmly ran up to me and told me that another one has moved on. That first time, I was perplexed to have to decode to her the cryptic circle of life. But her insight left me astounded. She didn't need my help at all. Either her reason shined through, never for a moment tarnishing her innocence. Or she knew better than to scrutinize it.
At that tender age of 6, she taught me to let life run its course. Sometimes maybe we need to look closely to attempt to understand those complexities. But finally somethings will never be in our control and others will remain a mystery. And that is the simple truth.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The possibilities.

I stare out the window and imagine how different it must look at night. Dark and scary? Or will the vision with sunlight keep me unnerved? Something very mysterious about the dark though. There is always the possibility of a surprise ready to pounce. Well, I grew up with that illusion at least. I say grew up like I am all old. Long way for that Mia. You are just 16, I try to pacify myself. But it works only temporarily.
However, there is some truth in the fact that it is not just the years gone by. On the other hand it is the experiences and lessons of these years. Some of us see the world baring itself to us, while some haven't even started on the path of self discovery. And that sets us all apart.
I look past the three dimensional world, to explore a realm of the world, in my hearts mind. I instantly see beautiful white angels hovering around, cupid with his bows and arrows firing away, fairies in their pretty dresses flying about and suddenly all seems right. The energy in me now feels more positive and vibrant. I like this. No, I love this.
I held onto this vibe with a determination of an impressive kind. I close my eyes and let it spread through every cell, every molecule in me. I open my eyes again and I cant help but smile. I smile at the feeling, so clear, pure and distinct. Such positivity is a pleasant surprise.
A shrill voice on the speaker breaks into my thoughts and snaps me out of this rare mood. The lady announces that we are preparing for landing. I look out my window again. The clouds are reluctantly moving far away, the landscape sluggishly materializes. My wishful world is now a realm above. A realm I felt for the first time on my first flight.
The heights, the clouds, the separation from anything real and mundane, gives you the sensational feel of the existence of a parallel world. A world that fulfills blazing hopes and the most outrageous imaginations. A world that surpasses all natural feeling and breaks all superstitious barriers to let you believe. To let you actually live.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Choices.

My first ever short story. Just reposting it here now.


It was 6 years ago. Even today I cannot forget that walk. The longest, most thought filled walk of my life. What if I could go back in time? Would I do any of it differently? It was the most difficult choice. I admit I had not thought things through and it was all finally just an impulse. But 6 years later my life is not everything I hoped it would be. I can barely recognise myself. My name is Mark (probably the only thing that has remained the same) and here’s the story of an impulse that changed the pulse … the very beat of my life.

6 years ago…

Every step shapes the future and… you.

I work at a big law firm when I get called in to the boss’s office. It is just 3 years into my job and they want me to shift departments. Shock number one. My law firm handles murder cases, divorce cases, copyright cases basically anything and everything. I have done many copyright cases, numerous murder cases (a fair share of both victims and convicts), but that’s about it. Apparently we are running short of divorce lawyers and they want me to explore. Shock number two. Walking and thinking is something that eases my mind and my racing heart beat. So I decide to take a walk. I leave the office with my bag in hand and thoughts looming over my head. Less than a minute after I start walking the walk turns into a slow jog.

At 11 in the morning on a cool winter’s day, in New York, one does not sweat so much. Either this sudden change in departments or the urgency of meeting the client in half an hour makes me fret and of course sweat. I slow down and gather my thoughts, my inhibitions, as well as my anxieties. A divorce attorney. I take a deep breath and sigh. Here I am a ‘die hard romantic’. Will I be fuelling a client’s want to end a lifelong promise to stick by each other… through thick and thin? Or are divorces only a chance at ‘love’ again? Oh who am I kidding? It is breaking a promise. But isn’t this a far lesser evil than saving a criminal from lifelong imprisonment? Have I not done that a number of times? Boy oh boy, am I going to hell. Saving criminals from punishment, hindering justice to reach the defendant, swindling money in the process, there must be a special punishment in hell for lawyers of my kind. And now divorces. Maybe cupid will punish me by never letting me find love also. 38 and unmarried. Breaking dreams and marriages, my specialty. The matrimonial Ad truly sells itself.

But being a lawyer in America I should have seen this coming. We never fall short of divorce lawyers or even ministers for that matter. And even if I do say so myself, my record of victories is quite impressive. Not the best. But I guess good enough to have a slight demand. I laugh. At my lack of more pride.

Bates (my boss) had said that our divorce cases are 4 times our other cases all put together. My firm is one of the biggest in the city and housing over 35 top class lawyers each handling a minimum of 2 cases at once. So we must be receiving a large chunk of the cases. I do hope. Or else the number of divorces is just plain alarming. Shock three?

Till then I was so lost in thought that I had not taken in any part of my surroundings. I look around me. I notice a lot of teenagers enjoying the beautiful morning arm in arm. The look of fondness in their eyes. Sights of pure immeasurable joy. And even the rare smiles at strangers. A lot of love in the air I think. It makes me wonder then why all the divorces? I slowly take in this unblemished feeling and hold onto it. The wonderful feeling of belonging which I remember from years ago. It brings a tiny smile to my face as my long and reflecting walk neared its end. I have to meet the client now I think. Yet I have not reached any decision and if possible I am more confused. I slow down to close to a crawl. The parting words of Bates come to mind, “this requires a whole different approach. A more sensitive one, Mark. But I am sure you will handle it just fine.” Saying this he had handed me a paper that I had hastily tucked into my pocket. Remembering it, I frantically dig around in my pockets for it. I find the chit at the same time I reach the café. I read out loud. “Lauren Waterston. 23. Wants a divorce. No complications. Just unhappy. Brunette. Short. Will be dressed casually. Mostly denims and a tee. Hint: Go easy on her. She is still fresh from her decision.”

I walk into the café ‘bleu’ and scan the room for her. The overwhelming smell of food takes over me. As I walk in I realise how hungry I am from my strenuous walk. The smell of muffins and eggs waft to my nose. I stand there in the doorway paralysed by these delightful smells. After what seems like an eternity, I snap myself out of it. I look around the room. It is a quiet place with blue wallpaper. Typical I think. There is a soft murmur in the air. Slow melodious music playing in the background. Combined with the wallpaper it had a calming effect on me. The waitresses are all dressed in ‘blue’. Mostly middle aged women with smiling and approachable faces. Lots of couples laughing. Two friends sharing a deep moment over drinks. A man eating something that looked simply delicious, alone in a corner. A woman with a book and a coffee, alone in another corner. I shoot another glance at the paper in my hand. I look at her again. It is her. On second thought she did look sad. Very sad.

Young. Impressionable. Bruised.

I wake up in bed stressed and restless. The same feeling I have been waking up with for weeks now. The same sleep I have been sleeping for weeks now. Stressed and restless. What was I thinking? I was 20 when I got married. 20!! Honestly it just doesn’t make sense sometimes. I could barely decide what to have for dinner. But this decision I had to make in such a hurry. Trust me to make big decisions rashly. And think forever on tiny insignificant ones. Smart really.

But in fairness I was in love. And what a feeling that is. So pure. A feeling of joy, elation and endless hours of staring into each others eyes. Walking arm in arm always. Sipping the same cold drink with a single straw. Sharing a bar of chocolate. Surprise visits at work. A bunch of flowers on a warm summer’s day. Hours disappearing over repeated refillings of coffee. Ah that mindless feeling of a brand new love. The tingling sensation of a first kiss. The spark of the million kisses after. No doubt it is probably the best feeling in the world. Was I a fool to think it will all last? Just then my phone burst into its loud jingle interrupting my thoughts. I answer it and say “hello?” “Bates and Hermann”, the female voice on the other side said. I reply “yes...” “Ms Waterston, your scheduled to meet your lawyer around 12 o clock at the café bleu. He/she will recognise you. Preferably please be dressed casually”, she continues almost breathless. I nod in approval then let out a hasty “oh sure thing” realising my stupidity. I hang up barely managing a thank you. Looks like I’m going through with this I think.

After all, James and I have already been separated for 6 weeks, 3 days probably 12 hours and definitely counting. The last I heard from him was 5 weeks back when he left me that message on my answering machine. It was aloof, blunt and hurtful. Maybe necessary. He had said it was over. He had been losing interest in me for at least 6 months now. Maybe even longer. Maybe I just didn’t see it before. Probably just didn’t want to. Mostly the latter. Everyone says the first year of marriage is the honeymoon period. Everything is rosy and bright. After, you will be faced with challenges and troubles. You can either face them or flee. No doubt from where I am now what he chose to do. All this could just be sour grapes. I wanted to stick it out… he clearly did not see the need. I let go of as much of my hostility as possible with some deep breaths and decide to get to the café early and calm myself. Before the heart wrenching procedures begin. I pull on a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt, grab my backpack, stuff a book and my player inside it and brace the winter’s day with a meek smile. I switch on my player that has upbeat music and tune out all the negativity swarming my head. Well, I try.

In less than 15 minutes I reach the café and look down at my watch to find it is only 10:40. Lots of time to spare I think. Might as well get something to eat. I stuff my player swiftly into my bag and walk in. I can’t help but smile. The place is bustling with smiles and everything is blue. Just like the name. The waitresses seem joyous to be bringing you your food. Adorable I think. The place smells mouth watering delicious. I find myself a table in a quiet corner and collapse into the comfort of the arm chair. A beaming waitress approaches me and I order a chocolate croissant, a blueberry muffin and a cappuccino. She nods in agreement and bustles away. I pull out my book and drown myself in the words. Within 5 minutes my order arrives looking more sumptuous that I expected. I put my book aside and dig into my food. Each bite into the croissant was another piece of pure heaven! Yummy…

Having relished it and indulged to my sweet tooth, a bubbly waitress clears the table and brings me my cappuccino. I sit back in my chair and sip on the coffee. I enjoy and savour every sip. Coffee is an essential part of my day. Actually the love for coffee was one of the first things that sparked the romance between Jamie and me. I live alone and work at a PR firm. He is a software consultant. We have barely anything in common except we both had met at a local film appreciation club. So typically, our first few dates were spent either watching movies or talking over coffee and sometimes both. Looking back at it, I am reminded fondly of all the times we laughed, joked and talked. Our relationship was not even one of those superficial ones that can be easily forgotten. It has left a lasting impression on me. One that I cannot forget or even begin to forget in a hurry. Though, over a period of time into our marriage we had lost that spark. He and I both began spending longer hours at work. Voluntarily or involuntarily. Then over time we drifted apart, living together. Finally when we sat down and discussed it, there seemed nothing left to rekindle.

I still remember his almost cold stare. His walk out that door. His last attempt at a smile. The sound of the door closing. The end of us. Back then I didn’t see it that way. Now, as I sit here, miles from that spot, a lot less in pain, I see that door as a sign. There was no option left. This divorce will be a chance at living again… maybe even love. Will give me a chance to finally shut that door and move on. Not just stare at it. Every once in a while I go back in time (in my head itself obviously) to make sure it I had not just imagined it all. Then the image of his eyes, where I had often found comfort returns to me. But now only leaving me with a cold shudder. The sound of his voice, which usually calmed me instantly. Now just reminding me that it is all over. Is it possible to retain any good feeling post a divorce? Is it possible to not regret having gotten married in the first place? Will I ever feel that top-of-the-world-insane feeling again?

Questions nag and haunt my every step. So much that I didn’t even notice the clock strike 12. Neither did I notice it slowly turn to 12:15. I was snapped out of my distant and quite mournful thoughts when I heard someone say “excuse me…”

Innocence can hurt.

“Hey… I’m Mark Mathews… Lawyer…” I manage as our eyes meet. Words escape me the minute I see her. She is young, very young. Yet there is a stunning maturity in her face. She looks heart broken. Her eyes look drained and teary. She has absolutely no make up on. She looks fit. What I could see that is. She looks like a little lost child facing the demons of the world. I decide to shut my thoughts out and sit down. She says in a low tone, “hey… I’m Lauren Waterston”. I reply “yes ma’am.” She quickly adds, “Please call me Lauren.” I manage a tiny smile, “so do we get right into the details or you want to know something about my background?” I ask politely. She smiles softly. I notice she doesn’t have any dimples as she says, “No, this will really be an open and shut case. I just want to keep the house… he can…” she stops to give out a huge sigh and then continues to finish her statement “walk away a happier man.” I respond with a quick “okay”. This statement of hers reveals a lot to even an ignorant mind, an insight to their story to even an absolute outsider. All my thoughts are instantly replaced by the case in hand. This lady is clearly not fully satisfied or for that matter even okay with her decision. It makes me wonder what pushed her to make this decision in the first place. Something drastic I assume.

I muster enough gumption to say “want to talk business or…?” my voice trails off. “Business please…” she replies, her voice barely audible, over the soft music and the café ambience together. But I didn’t have a doubt in my mind as to what she had picked. She looks weary from all the thinking probably needs a break anyway.

A waitress just then makes her way to our table. I order a latte and look over at Lauren and say “any suggestions for food?” she replies with the broadest smile I had seen all morning, “the croissants are a delightful treat.” I turn to speak to the waitress “make those two croissants then.” I tilt my head towards Lauren and the waitress promptly looks at her, patiently waiting for her to order, still smiling. Lauren says “Another cappuccino for me will do.” As the waitress nods in approval and walks away. I tell her, “I took the liberty of ordering you a croissant.” We both share a short lived laugh.

I take out my file from my bag and my note book to take notes as we walk through the full scenario. She slowly eases up and starts talking, “We have been together 6 years. 3 of which we spent married. We started dating when I was 17 which you must have calculated by now. A lot of this must be irrelevant but…” before she clams up again I smile and say “go on... it is all part of a flow.” This encourages her to talk again. She continues still very subdued (as expected), “his name is Jamie Wilson and he is 3 years older than me. About 6 months back we mutually agreed to separate. I was in denial for maybe 6 months before that itself. It was a bomb waiting to explode for a while; I just chose to ignore the loud ticking. About a week after I got a call from him saying it was definitely over and when I am ready we should…” her voice stops suddenly as she catches her breath and probably also replays that message in her head. Then after several minutes of silence that I didn’t dare utter a word in, she finally is able to find the words. She finishes her statement with “… get a divorce.”

Her eyes fill with tears. I offer her a tissue. She takes it without looking at me. Our order chose to arrive right at that moment. The waitress smiles a sympathetic smile at Lauren before leaving. I wait a while and watch her sip on her large cup of coffee. Then I slowly pop the question “Has he sent you any papers? Or are you taking the first step?” She replies with a shake of the head, her cup still in hand. I respond with “did you sign a prenuptial agreement?” She put her mug down and replied, “No… we both had not thought of it.”

She bends over, picks up her bag and begins to dig inside it. She produces a red file and hands it over to me. She says “this should cover all my legal details, my records and even my financial situation.” I nod and take the file from her. I open it and glance through the sheets inside. After giving it a rough read, I close the file and say, “this will be safe with me, it gives me all the information I will need.” I give the case talk a little break while we gorge on the delicious looking croissant. She was right. The croissant is a delight, like a tiny bit of heaven. Delectable and exquisite. Several minutes pass without a word being said. An aura of gloom, doom and anxiety surround us. A mix of them from both of us. I get through mine a little before her. I open my mouth to say something, anything. But words and thoughts just didn’t connect. So I promptly just shut my mouth.

What can I say to her? I barely have my next step figured out. I’m in no position to dish out advice. Let alone to a heart broken 23 year old, who has a fresh, probably a less cynical and more lasting memory of love. I should be honest with her about my uncertainties. But I haven’t even discussed it with Bates. Actually forget Bates. I haven’t discussed it with me yet.

I pick up my head and look across the table. There was this innocence about her. Her eyes I realise. They look fed up yet hopeful. I have this sudden urge to rescue her from this doom and land her safely on the other side. It is an irrational yet a very alpha male feeling. A feeling of being the one that rescues the woman in distress. I then find the courage (if that’s what courage is) and say “Give me his number. I will fix an appointment with his lawyer. We both will go over the details of the agreement. We will fix a date for the hearing. If all goes well you won’t have to see him till the day you sign the agreement.”

I probably took her by surprise because she seemed at a complete loss of words. She nods a solemn nod. She takes a handful seconds before she says “You will find the number in the file.” A look of gratitude had crept into her eyes and face. I smile a meek smile at her. I say, “So I can meet you again this week for us to go over the agreement that I will draft once I get back to my office.” She says “you can just mail it to me if it is too much trouble to come down to see me again.” I just smile. And then say “We can work that out.” I pick up my hand requesting for the check. In the mean time we make small talk about the weather and just follow it up with nervous jokes and more nervous laughter. The tension in the air had reduced but only barely. In the middle of all this our check arrives. I quickly take it and pull out my wallet to make the payments. She says, “But that won’t be necessary.” I reply, “You are paying us a hefty sum to make this happen already. This one is on me.” And then I heard her laugh. For the first time since I had met her she laughed a laugh from within, an almost carefree one. Almost. It was only temporary but it did make me smile to see her that way. We get up, picking up our belongings from all around the table we are seated at. I walk behind her and open the door of the café for her. We stand on the footpath as the cold New York breeze hits us. It reminds me suddenly of the harsh realities. Finally I say goodbye and leave. But not before promising her things are under control and that I will be in touch. She walks away. In the opposite direction and even from the back I knew I had eased her worries some. She deserved a chance. She deserved a new start.

I raise my hand and call for a cab. One stops almost instantly. I say “Bates and Hermann? Marshall Street?” The cabbie nods. I get into the cab and I am welcomed by a familiar feeling. I stay lost in that feeling as the streets of New York dissolve around me and my cab.

Harsh reality of today. Or?

There began my saga of a divorce attorney. I went on to get Lauren her divorce and her house without her ever needing to be in the same room as him. Even to sign the papers. She did move on. She is going steady and in no rush to get married. Happy things worked out for her. She is really a nice kid. She says she is just living in the moment. Those are her words exactly, actually. I share a funny sort of relationship with her. The only client of mine in 9 years of practice I have stayed in touch with. So, definitely the only one I have befriended. We do meet up for that occasional coffee and croissant.

But in fairness I met her at a crucial part of my career. I now practice at “Bates, Hermann and Mathews.” And this big promotion didn’t exactly fall into my lap. The past 6 years have not been easy. They were tough, challenging, involved lots of hard work and obviously a large number of victories with a sprinkle of the inevitable losses. I had began working nearly 18 hours a day. With no personal life whatsoever, it was easy to accomplish. And since I continued this, there was no prospect of a commitment of any sort. Two years ago, I got the biggest promotion and was made partner. Maybe a little early, many would think.

So as of today, I am probably one of the most wanted divorce attorneys in this city. I am rich and basically famous. Safe to say that puts me in demand. I am however 44 and unmarried. Yes, still. Career has become the centre, basically the crux of my life and my existence. Now, I specialise in divorce cases and copyright cases (of course). My personal favourite. I take some up by myself from time to time. When all the others are busy or if it is temptingly challenging. But usually just end up allotting cases to junior lawyers and guide them wherever necessary. Soon after my promotion I moved to real estate paradise in New York. My life on most days was everything one could hope for. I have the job one dreams of when little. I have the house one pictures for themselves. I have more money than I can spend.

But the fact is that I come home to an empty house. On a regular busy day, I can barely make it to my room with both eyes open. But on other days I know something is missing. On those days, December 3rd 2000 comes to mind. I can still picture her face when I saw her for the first time. It had a charm. I am glad that charm never left her face. Over time she healed and found herself bit by bit. And just learnt to live with her past. I am grateful she never lost her smile. That would have been a loss to mankind. I chuckle.

But each time I look back I am nagged by the same question. If I went back in time would I do anything differently? If I went back in time would my life have taken that turn? Would I have ended up somewhere else all together? But the harsh truth of reality is I cannot turn back time. I probably will never find out how my life could have been.

What if life is just a play of words…? A twist of fate…? A spark of irony…? And what if my irony is that I didn’t get life’s pun and I missed that blessed turn of the road…