Wednesday, January 7, 2015
The sunlight from the far end of west was getting fainter by the time. I touched my jacket to check whether it was in place without looking at it. I could not remove my gaze from the beautiful golden rays of light touching the leaves.
I was sitting on a bench in a garden near my house. As the sun rays began to get fainter, I put on my jacket to avoid cold. I also wore my shoes to cover up my feet and prevent them from getting colder. The people around me were already wearing different jackets and sweat-shirts to keep them warm.
“There cannot be any logical reason for why am I asking you whether I can sit on this wooden bench next to you…what do you think?”
An old man, probably in his 60s, stood in front of me asking a weird question which was hard to understand. He was 5.4 inches tall and round like a potato. His hairs were whiter than usual and he had worn an unusual kind of hat. In India people don’t believe in wearing hats for sure. Instead elderly people wear turbans. May be he was an NRI living in UK at some point of time.
“May I sit here?” He apparently simplified his question understanding the limitations of my meager brain.
He raised his hat a little to thank me and sat on the bench. I observed that he had a very peculiar kind of mustache which often appear in old English movies…may be he was an NRI after all.
“I see you are sitting here alone…”
“Yes…I live nearby. I normally spent my evening here watching the sunset and observing the people around me.”
“Well that’s interesting because I like to observe people as well. Do you only observe the people around you or also try to speculate that who they are and what might they be thinking?”
“Perhaps I do speculate as well.” I saw his eyes were greenish and small. He blinked twice after realizing that I was noticing his eyes.
“Let’s play a game then…it’s not that I want to bother you or something…just like that…let’s see what I think about the people and what do you think…you will also need to support your theory by facts…If one could not then other wins.”
“I am a writer sir. I make a very keen observation about people so it is unlikely that I will lose…and alternatively I won’t like to take the credit of defeating an old man.”
“Harsh words young one. I am not old by heart though. Why don’t you take an attempt and see how we go about this?”
He smiled in return. I could see that his face was not much changed when he smiled. May be he was habitual of smiling a lot and therefore face has adapted to the changes which happen so frequently. Though I could see the grouping of wrinkles near the corners of his eyes but somehow he looked younger with them. The sunrays were still struggling to detach themselves from the leaves of the trees. I looked at my watch; it was 4 in the evening. I decided to take the first shot in the game.
“The lady who you see sitting on that far bench with a child coved by her ‘Sari’…”
“Yes…better than you can my friend…my eyes are still perfect.”
“I speculate that she is child’s mother and is looking for her husband or a relative, whoever came with her to this park.”
“She has covered the child with a part of her sari which shows her concern for the child. The sunlight has begun to fade away and cold is taking over the park. She is trying to keep her sleeping child warm. She looks anxious as well and is looking everywhere for someone. She also tried to drink the remaining water from her bottle though there is no water left in that…so I am guessing that her husband or someone has gone to bring some water for her…or she is looking for him to ask them to get some water.”
“Nice theory but mine is a little different.”
“And what would that be?”
“She has stolen the child from her neighborhood and is trying to cover the child so that nobody can identify him and he is not sleeping but is drugged. She is anxious because the man who promised her to help in selling the child is absent till now. She is looking for him. She is also nervous because she knows that she is doing a sin, therefore her throat is getting dried-up again and again. She is not from here because she is not asking anyone for help to get some water. Only 10 steps from where she is sitting there is a tap where drinking water is available but she has no idea about it.”
“It is preposterous. Why would she steal a baby from her neighborhood?”
“Because she is infertile and she is envious of the babies her neighbor has. She had been trying to be patient a lot but a few days ago she completely lost her nerves and made this bizarre plan.”
“It sounds more fiction than a reality. Are the facts which you submitted are even coherent to your theory?
I looked at the woman. She was surely in her early-40s and was looking anxious. She was wearing a pale color sari. Normally women like to wear bright colors but in her case maybe she was trying to avoid the eye-balls of the people. I thought that old man’s theory could be correct. I looked at the sunlight…it was still visible. It was taking sunlight a bit longer to disappear today.
“So is she wearing a pale color to avoid the eye-balls?” I asked.
“But no…I got it. If the child is hers then she actually gets lesser time to devote to herself. That could also be a possible reason why she is wearing pale color. She didn’t have time.”
“Well…” The old man looked elsewhere which also was an indication of testifying my theory. He took off one of his shoes and turned it upside down. He probably was trying to get rid of something which went into his shoes. I observed that his shoe probably was much bigger than he needed. Soon a small pebble came out of the shoe. He smiled at the pebble and wore the shoe again.
“So shall we call it as even this time?” He smiled again…the same unfazed smile.
“Hmm” I acknowledge.
“You see that couple?” Old man decided to take the shot now, “The cold days are working for them. See how the girl had dug her face into the warm and large chest of the boy. She is feeling the hormonal cascade due to the body odor of the boy. Look at the boy how gently he is holding the hand of the girl. He is moving his fingers on hers…which indicates that there is some romantic talk going on. Don’t forget to notice the boys other hand. He is moving his other hand on the thigh of the girl…gently and slowly, inducing the flow of estrogen more aggressively inside her. They may have sex today…what you think.”
“I say this time you have mistaken…and mistaken absurdly.”
“The boy who probably is around 17 and the girl, who must be around 16, whom you guessed as a couple are brother and sister in fact. You see the bicycle on the ground near them…actually brother was teaching his sister to ride the bicycle and she fell down during the course. Girl is crying hiding her face in the chest of his elder brother. He apparently is checking her fingers for any possible wound. And also is cleaning the dust from the body of the little sister. They are not trying to hide anything and also the people passing by are not objecting at all…that proves that there is nothing like intimacy going on there.”
“Well you have completely changed the theory but you know these days couples are not daunted displaying their affection anywhere. And people are also getting used to such things in India.”
“How do you explain the bicycle and crying if the girl?”
“May be the bicycle is not theirs at all. And the girls have the tendency to get emotional during romantic talks.”
I didn’t want to but I knew that I would be endorsing the theory of girls getting emotional during romantic talk…I have had experienced it. I looked at the old man. He looked confident and to an extent, his theory was not unlikely as well.
“What do you think?” He asked.
“I think that it is not possible for one of us to lose. It is because whatever is happening around us can be explained in several ways. Our brain picks up the scene which is best suited to it. The positives and the negatives are just the two sides of the same coin. Exactly like different people get different meanings out of a same poem. The words we hear, the music we listen to, the things which we see and the thoughts which we ponder upon are the non-morphological state of brain which is made up of our own memory. And memory contains the things which we have seen, books we have read, movies we have watched, theories we have heard, intuitions we have had and the hypothetical images we have drawn.”
“Yes…in fact I will say that the larger part is imagination because whatever you see…is… calculated reflection of light. Your eyes catch the frequency of reflected light and your brain draws a picture. What if the things which you see are different in appearance than you actually calculate it to be? The sound which you hear is disturbance of molecule. According to scientific theory there has to be an energy loss in the process…then how is it that you are hearing what I am saying? My voice box is disturbing the molecules and the sequence of disturbance is reaching you in the exact pattern…where is the energy loss…if you say that loss is there in the form of heat then why the pattern of disturbance of molecules reaching you is the similar to what I made? There should be difference in the pattern as well.”
I closed my eyes. Everything which we see or hear is based upon the calculated amount of light reflected to our eyes or calculated amount of molecules disturbed respectively. Hence, everything is based upon a calculation. Beauty of a rose, height of a cliff, roar of a loin or singing of a bird…everything is nothing but a calculation by our brain. How about the feelings…are they mere calculations as well?
“What are you doing here?”
I opened my eyes and Nikita was there. She was carrying a shawl. She quickly covered me and touched me to see whether I had fever. Her touch was comely. It was full of affection and care…it could not be calculated and was not based upon calculations for sure. The sunlight was gone. I realized that I have been thinking for a long time.
“Did you take your medicine?” She asked.
I just gazed at her familiar and lovable face. She looked pretty and endearing. Her eyes were big and beautiful…it could not have based upon calculations as well.
“How many times I have told you not to think so much.” She said with pseudo anger.
“That old man…”
“Oh…had you been seeing illusions again…god…I would need to call Dr. Parera. My god…pressure on your brain is increasing everyday…I beg you to stop thinking…doctors are saying that your schizophrenia had become worst…I am so worried…please Manav…don’t you do this with me...I love you so much.”
Her beautiful eyes were soon flooded with tears and big drops of saline water started rolling down her lovely cheeks. She held me with both of her hands and hugged me tightly. She continued whipping and begging to god for my well-being.
“Hey you alright…hello can you hear me?” The Old man was almost trying to shake me up.
“Yes…no…you are an illusion…don’t talk to me.”
“Are you out of your freaking mind?”
“No…don’t talk to me.” I stood up. The old man got up too.
“What’s wrong with you?”
“Nothing…where is Nikita? What have you done with her…you asshole?” I grabbed his jacket.
“What the fuck…are you retard?”
“Where is she?”
I pushed the old man and he almost hit his head with the bench. He looked fiercely towards me. His hat fell on the ground; I could see his half bald head. He quickly picked up the hat and covered his head. For a moment he looked calm but on the very next moment he ran towards me and pushed me with his whole strength. He was definitely old but he possessed much more strength than I imagined. A picture fell from my pocket of the jacket. The old man picked up the photo with a lightning speed.
“You are definitely a retard…you were talking with no one…there was no one out here…you are nuts.”
He looked at the picture and it seemed that he was stuck with a sudden shock.
“Give that back” I screamed and snatched the picture from his hand.
He looked both astonished and traumatized. He took a deep breath and walked away. I stood ready for any surprise attacks from him but he kept walking till he reached the lady sitting on the bench with his child. I felt weird as he started talking with her and pointing towards me.
I shook my head to shred away the thought of the old man…after all my Nikita said that he was just an illusion. I looked at the picture. My eyes spread in circumference and my heart started to pound loudly against the wall of my chest. It was my picture with my family, my wife, a boy around 17, a girl around 16 and an infant in the lap of my wife. And there was a line written on that picture with a mobile number.
‘My husband is schizophrenic. If you find him in any trouble, please call on this number or find any one of us…any one of us would definitely be nearby.’
My brain could not stop thinking about the doctors who told that my schizophrenia had become worst; I could not stop thinking about Nikita. I was terrified to think whether relationships are based upon the calculations too…no they can’t be. Probably I was the biggest example.
I looked impatiently towards the old man who was still talking with the lady surrounded by the boy and the girl. All of a sudden I felt the warmth of a hand on my shoulder, I looked back, and it was Nikita. She was smiling, and undoubtedly it was the most beautiful smile I have ever seen.
“So what if I am an illusion...I will always remain with you in your thoughts...come let’s go to your family.”
Sunday, December 7, 2014
Sunday, March 30, 2014
This morning was different than other mornings. The random noises of relatives and utensils were comparatively more aggravating than ever. She tried to cover her head inside the blanket thinking she could barricade the sound for some more time and could complete her sleep, but it was never to be happened as her mother entered the room howling.
“Get up you sloth. And go to the beauty parlor with your cousin.”
“It is only 8 am mom. No parlor would be open and I have been going to the parlor almost every day from last week.”
“Don’t you dare to say this. I have already requested the parlor owner to open the parlor early today. Moreover, you would be saved from the barging sunlight if you go now and your black, sickening skin may look good for a while.”
Her mom rushed out of the room crushing the sentiments and sleep of her daughter, ‘Sunaina’. She was 28 now and her father was trying to get her married from last 3 years. Despite of having an attractive figure and height she lacked something which Indian people cherish about, the fair complexion. Irrespective of the fact that Indians have been complaining about the racist attacks on them, this community is known as one of the most racist in the entire world. No matter what, color matters…at least in India.
It wasn’t the first time that she was hearing something nasty and devastating. Still, her big and beautiful eyes were filled with tears. She slowly stood up from the bed and stared her face in the mirror.
Starting from the school days, she had tolerated the spears of hatred and biased words. Her friends, classmates, cousins and co-workers everyone had suggested her to use ‘n’ number of creams to make her skin fairer but she wondered why people could not love her the way she was…dark and beautiful.
It was ok until her own parents started impugning her for her complexion. She was made to remember every time that she was dark and hence, ugly. For them, only fair could be beautiful. As retaliation, she wanted to hate herself and peel out the dark skin from her body but she neither had that cruelty nor courage. Old sentences echoed in her brain…
‘Kali Kaluti, Bengan looti’ (a racist line in ‘Hindi’ to address people with darker complexion).
Sunaina came out of her room. A distinct smell of refined oil and unknown dishes distressed her nose. She covered her nose with her ‘duppata’. The house was looking chaotic. Everyone was busy in arranging and rearranging the things, and making eatables for the special guests. It was the first time when a groom’s family had accepted their invitation to visit their home and ‘see’ her. Otherwise, the photograph of her was all what it normally took other families to decide that she was a misfit for their son. No matter what the color of the ‘to be groom’ was…they all wanted fairer brides…all of them.
She stood there for some time robotized thinking about nothing but destiny of her and girls like her. Women are supposed to sacrifice and love all. They are somewhat like ‘camphor’. They burn from within and give light and fragrance to others. They are untainted but still are often devalued by society and underrated than others. But this wasn’t the end of the suffering for the ladies with darker complexion. They are humiliated, insulted and ill-treated by the so called ‘fair society’ of their own brothers, sisters, uncles and parents. They were nothing but black camphor.
The clock was ticking fast. She went to the parlor where she was treated like some dirty cloth. She was ‘cleansed’ and ‘bleached’ with different creams; so that the menace of darker complexion could go away or at least fade a little. She sat restlessly without responding to scratching and burning she endured on her skin. She knew that the lady working there was only completing the formality. She wanted to justify the money she was getting…nothing else.
She had been undergoing such a treatment for a week now. She had seen other beautiful ladies winking to each other after seeing her. She had heard their voiceless cynicism. She had felt as a victim of their malice thinking. She had been ignored, segregated and ill-treated in this parlor. And in riposte she had wondered about the beauty of this beautiful parlor.
“Didi…there is a little dry patch here.” Her cousin tried to attract the attention of the girl working in the salon.
“It doesn’t matter” The lady answered without even looking at Sunaina.
There was a silence after that. No, it doesn’t matter how her skin looked because no cream could make it better than it already was.
She entered her room silently after returning from the parlor. There was a huddle discussion already going on with her mother and aunties as participants. As soon as she entered the room, they stopped talking. Her mom looked at her and shook her head in abhorrence and grief. Aunties started whispering about the outcome of the parlor quest.
“Try to apply some extra powder…your dad had worked hard for this…don’t ruin it.”
“Try Pond’s talcum powder…it works well with people of your skin color.” One of the aunties suggested.
“But it is not natural. ‘Vicco’ would be better…it is natural and works well.”
“What are you talking…look at her…no cream will work effectively.”
Sunaina stood there with her gaze towards ground witnessing the rape of her self-respect and dignity. Her voice lurked under her own conscience to gather some power of protest but all she found was misery and inability to decline on all creams and powder curriculum. She looked at her mother from the corner of her eyes hoping to get some support. She too was gazing downwards, as if, ashamed to give birth to an unfair girl. Drops of briny water swam across her cornea and after some struggle paved their way to wash out her makeup. Her mother quickly pinched her and her eyes with increased circumference suggested not to cry as the tears may completely wash out the makeup.
Soon she was left alone to stare the mirror and curse her dark complexion. She poured some water into the glass and drank it. The water appeased her stress and anger to a certain level. She wiped her lips and kept the glass on the table. There was not much time left. She looked at the dress which was chosen by her mom and aunties. The light blue Salwar suit with golden and colored embroidery was looking decent. She had a close look. The embroidery was actually a picture of several pigeon. The light colored pigeons were flying and the black ones were eating something sitting on a golden ground which looked like a net. She thought it was like her life. Her cousins who were fairer than her were allowed to go anywhere, wear anything and eat anything. But she was always restricted to certain colors, edibles and places. She was a black pigeon.
She looked at the mirror. Her heart skipped couple of beats in horror. She had wiped her semi-pink lipstick color while drinking water. She felt the hot rush of blood as she heard someone’s footstep near her room’s door. She quickly took out the pink lipstick and applied on her lips as professionally as she could. It was not perfect but neither was the earlier one.
“Are you dressed?” Her mother entered her room.
“Just finishing with the make-up”
“Apply some powder too.”
Sunaina looked at her mother with thousands of questions in her eyes.
“We are your parents Sunaina. We want the best for you. I want you to look a bit fairer if not like a princess.”
“Mother, is it not enough which I have done”
“Look at other girls. They look better than you even without makeup. I am so nervous. I will have to keep away all the girls. I don’t want ‘them’ to choose anyone else instead of you.”
“What about the white dress I chose to wear?”
“Are you crazy? Look at yourself. I am not sure how you would look even in blue and you are talking about white. You would look no better than coal in that.”
“Shut up and listen to me. Don’t utter a word unless asked. Do not make eye contact with anyone. We will tell them that the edibles had been made by you. So, if they ask just nod your head in agreement. And yes, we have kept your chair just under the tube light so that you look fairer…rest lies with GOD.”
The tension in the house rose to the highest level. People looked at the watch with every beat of their heart. Everything was arranged; the sweets, cold-drinks, samosa and so on. The other girls were strictly asked to remain inside their rooms. Only the girls under 12 were allowed. They decided that Sunaina would be called only after all the other formalities, so that ‘they’ would get less time to analyze her beauty.
After a slight delay of an hour a car stopped in front of Sunaina’s house. 4 people came out of the car and were greeted by Sunaina’s parents with excitement and enthusiasm. Soon everyone was settled and guests were fed with lots of sweets, samosas and tea. There was a long session of introduction between guests and Sunaina’s relatives. There was a pin drop silence in the room after that for almost two minutes, which was ultimately broken by Sunaina’s dad.
“Sunaina is a very talented girl. She is not only working in an MNC but also is excellent in domestic works. In fact, everything which you see here had been made by her.”
Guests said nothing but smiled. Every one of them was fair. The ‘to be groom’ was looking like price charming and his sister was no less than a princess. After seeing them, Sunaina’s family was on back foot. They had no option but to make excuses and prove how talented Sunaina was.
“So, what is the name of the MNC she works in?” The boy asked after a long waiting.
Sunaina’s father and mother looked at each other’s face. In fact they never knew it. They never took interest in Sunaina’s career. They allowed her to work just because they had heard that working brides are preferred these days.
“It is a big company. Why don’t you ask Sunaina? I think she would be able to answer it better than me. Young people should interact now…what say Mr. Sharma?” Sunaina’s father said with a grin on his face.
“Why not? We also want to see her.”
Sunaina’s mother walked in to fetch her while father continued talking.
“She isn’t well you know. Seasonal fever… It is unfortunate that she is not at her best in your presence.”
“That’s ok…I know seasonal fever is on peak…Manav’s mother had fever a week ago.”
Manav, the ‘to be’ groom’s mother looked fair like goddess. Her pink blush was attracting random eyes more than Sunaina could afford even at her best. Sunaina’s father saw her from the corner of his eyes.
“It must be a light fever.” Sunaina’s father smirked again.
Sunaina entered with her mother. She looked taller and fairer than ever; though her skin color was still the darkest there. Her eyes looked big and beautiful. Her slender lips looked well sculptured and juicy. She walked perfectly like a typical traditional Indian girl showing nothing which could be blamed to be ‘sexy’. She greeted everyone and sat on the chair pre-assigned to her.
“Why don’t you sit with us?” Manav’s mom asked.
“No…no…she should sit there…she is suffering from cold too…it is contagious…you see.” Sunaina’s mother didn’t waste a fraction of second in interrupting.
A strange silence prevailed in which people looked at each other’s face, knowing nothing what to talk about. Sunaina’s parents were hoping that Manav will ask something but that never happened.
“Excuse me…I need to take this call.” Manav stood and walked outside the house.
As soon as Manav left the house, the shoulder of Sunaina’s parents dropped, understanding why Manav left the house with an excuse.
“He could have taken the call after some time.” Manav’s mother complained.
“Could be from his office…that’s ok…I understand how career oriented and ambitious kids are these days. Sunaina is also one of them.” Sunaina’s father no longer had control over his grin.
Clock’s hands ran rapidly, and after almost an hour Manav reentered the house. The sweets and other edible items were over; mostly eaten by Sunaina’s relatives and a second tea session had ended as well. Soon after his arrival it was decided that the meeting should be concluded. Nobody from Sunaina’s family dared to ask Manav or his family about their opinion on marriage. They were afraid, as it was almost clear that they didn’t like her.
“We will call you.” Mr. Sharma had something to say only after reaching safely inside the car.
Manav looked towards the house and noticed Sunaina standing in the balcony. He turned his gaze towards the steering wheel.
“They said nothing.” Sunaina’s mother asked.
“What do you expect them to say…had I been in their place I would not have even bothered to sit here for couple of hours…I would have rather keep my son unmarried for whole life than getting him married with an ugly girl like her…doesn’t even die.”
“What are you saying?”
“So…what should I say? They approached us…and they happily accepted my invitation to come here…now after seeing that menace, they didn’t even respond properly…didn’t you notice that boy…office, my foot…it was all after he saw her obnoxious face…”
“She is your daughter.”
“It is better to remain daughter less than having this hoodoo.”
Sunaina’s father rushed to his room and slammed the door with all his power. Her mother sat on the chair with her hands on her forehead. Relatives started whispering among themselves.
Sunaina on the other hand stood still in the balcony, listening to her own father. Inside of her head, she was the maltreated lady who had found the courage to move on with her life. And she had been finding it, over and over again, after every insult and painful episode. She wiped tears coming out of her eyes and it was a straight ‘no’ to all the powders, creams, bleaches and cleansing. She felt that she love herself more than ever. She looked towards the sky. There were few fairer pigeons flying freely.
She noticed her mobile vibrating.
“Hello, how are you?”
“Why did you walked out?”
“I got a call from the dealer…you remember…the house I am willing to purchase.”
“My parents thought you rejected me.”
“Poor they, how can they even think this…you are so beautiful…nobody can reject you.”
“Enough of flattering…what did your parents say?”
“They said…‘Yes’…they liked you but they didn’t like that you fell ill more often…common cold and fever…my god…you parents are so dramatic…they can win in ‘India’s best Dramebaaz’…”
“Shut up…they are my parents…so…when will you send message to my parents?”
“Tomorrow…my parents will send our priest to give your family the message and find an appropriate time for marriage.”
“Ok…then will see you tomorrow in the office.”
“I love you.”
Sunaina had tears in her eyes…but it wasn’t of grief. It was of love and happiness. She was happy that she met Manav in the office where she worked. They made a plan so that marriage would look arranged. Now when everything was fine, a new hope of a new life was knocking Sunaina’s conscience.
“I love you too Manav”
She disconnected the call and looked up in the sky. The fairer pigeons were joined by some darker ones and they looked beautiful than they ever did. They were flying freely…together. Sunaina had a smile on her lips.
Saturday, March 22, 2014
He sat still on his sepia chair staring the blank face of MS word on his ‘Acer laptop’. His eyes kept on pondering through the layers of his upcoming story and meeting unborn characters. After almost half an hour of gazing and thinking he pushed his chair with his back, making some space for his long legs which were literally stuck between the chair and the table.
He stood and flipped the painting so that he could no longer be distracted due to that. He moved to the kitchen and put some coffee, sugar and hot milk in a designer cup. After a gradual shake, he returned to the sepia chair.
He picked up a pen from the table, a Reynolds’s bold pen with a very familiar white body and a blue cap. It was hard to understand why he was so fond of pen, even though, he had nothing to do with pen now. It was all on the laptop. He gradually, almost in slow motion, took the pen to his mouth. The upper part of the cap was chewed, suggesting that it was not the first time when the cap had become the victim of his writer’s block. He started chewing the hapless cap again, perhaps wishing he could extract some potion of creativity from the cap. With a determination and focus, he kept on chewing the cap for almost 15 minutes…the page was still blank.
All of a sudden he threw the pen on the table and sighed. Indicating, the story inside him was yet not uniform and hence could not take shape of words…at least for now. He could feel the strong currents of the story inside him as if it was a high-tide in the ocean of an unknown fable.
He rubbed his eyes with both of his hand and fixed it on a painting clinging to the front wall. It was hanged a bit low on the wall than usual. It was a painting of a ‘cheetah’ hunting a ‘chinkara’. Studded with vibrant colors and realistic expressions, it was no less than a masterpiece. He probably remembered the place where he purchased this from. It was swarming with pedestrians and slowly crawling vehicles. He scratched his head in frustration of not remembering the name of that place. It was ‘Sheena’ or ‘Fancy’ market or probably something else…situated in the heart of Kolkata. It was a very hot day when he saw this painting searching a place amongst many other paintings in a shop. It was a co-incident that he saw it and purchased it, was a hard bargain though. He smiled. On the course of enjoying the colors of the painting, he remembered something. He shook his head and wondered whether it was true that one should not keep a painting symbolizing violence in the house, it brings negativity. He kept on observing the violent yet beautiful painting for almost 40 minutes.
His eyes roamed back to the white and wordless page of MS word. He wobbled his head in disgust. He required tranquility to keep his ideas flowing like a stream.
He closed his inquisitive eyes and took a sip of the coffee. It tasted like a bitter cough syrup prescribed by his family doctor…he hated him. But it was still ok to bring turbulence among the thoughts. He looked at the rather complex menu of MS word. It was office edition 2010. He rolled his lower lips outwards; indicating his inability to understand the menu and its relevance…word 2003 was much easier for sure. And who could forget the office assistant in the earlier versions of MS office.
‘It used to be fun.’ He thought and smiled. He took a few sips of the coffee. Now he was feeling better. He moved back in his chair, adjusted himself comfortably against the ochre cushion and looks up at the wall again. The painting was flipped now. The brown color back of the painting was emitting a rather pale feeling which was good repellant. He clinched his head and focused again on the blank sheet of MS word. It was a murder mystery he wanted to write, a story of a serial killer. He had done all the research. He had the plot and the characters. All he required to do was the arrangement. It had been hours now that he was trying to write a word and somehow he had started to feel that it wasn’t the day.
‘The red, thick blood dripped from her veins and spread on the white floor, giving it a red essence.’
He stopped for a while and read the line again. It was good, he thought. He stretched his fingers and adjusted himself on the chair. A smile of satisfaction was still on his lips; alas the story had started. He started thinking about the story again, but this time more he thought about the story, more sounds of appreciation he heard in his conscious. A murder mystery of its own kind written by him; he imagined himself sitting in a book signing event. How jealous his friends would be?
Suddenly he remembered something. He quickly minimized the page of the word file and opened the browser. He entered the ‘URL’ of Facebook, he was already logged in. He surfed through the different pages and pictures. He couldn’t remember when he had a long conversation with any of his friends. A quick call or mostly ‘Whatsapp’ was all his social interaction with them these days.
‘Wrote something intriguing today, going strong…hell ya’
He tweeted. He had 500+ followers on twitter but he didn’t know most of them. These followers never tweeted or re-tweeted anything. They were just numbers…but who cares…number is all what people see. He remembered how he was criticized when he shared a line from his story. His friends said that there was too much gore and blood in that.
He restored the word page again. All he could read was ‘blood’ in bold. He closed his eyes and allowed a big sigh out of his mouth. He shook his head and deleted the first line of his story which he thought could win a ‘booker’s award’ for him someday. The page was blank again.
He bumped his fist on the table in frustration. The laptop jumped and settled down again on the same place. Could his thoughts reach out to him across layers of skepticism, shards of cynicism and fog of unreal friends?
He stood and walked towards the storeroom. A foul smell filled his nostrils. He opened the door and entered the room. The whole room was chilled like a cold storage. He stepped forward and switched on the lights. The whole room was divided in little compartments. He moved ahead slowly and observed every compartment keenly. His palate was in writing, some real writing. He stretched his hand and started stroking something. It was a dead body of a girl. A thin line of blood was still visible on her white face. He kissed the body on its forehead. Once, she was his girlfriend…now she was his research.
Every compartment of that room was occupied by a dead body. He slowly walked by every dead body with a grin on his face. Every one of them had a familiar face. They were his friends, the friends who never appreciated his writing. They thought his research was an utter insanity. His dedication towards his writing was nothing but a faux. They made fun of his writing and laughed their heart out on his dreams. He heard everyone until his birthday. They had decided to ruin his birthday party by asking him to quit writing and do something more fruitful. And his girlfriend, who once claimed to be his number one fan, also supported the nuisance of his friend. Nobody cherished his dreams and nobody noticed the tears falling seamlessly from his eyes that day. He poisoned them all. It had been 3 days and nobody knew that where are they? He had made that store a sanctuary of ACs to save the bodies from decaying. Now, all of these bodies were serving as an inspiration for his new murder story.
He went back to the laptop and started typing flawlessly.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
‘Seeing a cat isn’t a problem, the problem is when it disappears.’
A chilling night of December was enough to make me feel awkward but on top of that my ongoing exams were adding the pressure on me. I was not sure how long it would have taken to complete the final sample paper. It was already 1:15 am in a night of December winter. I was preparing for my examinations in my room which was on the 3rd floor of the house. It was chilling outside the house, enough to slow down the beating of a heart. I was trying hard to keep myself warm and to remain awake inside the blanket. But after some time I succumbed against the dozing eyes and killing cold, I closed my book and looked at the clock; it was 1:25 am. I stood up to have some water. Suddenly I thought that I heard a voice, like someone whispering. I heeded it. It was the sound of singing on the terrace above. It was not carrying any tune, but piping shrill and melodious. Such a sound in cold was enough to send shivers in the spine of a common man; but it was more than the fear of a physical invader that held me frozen. I could not define the horror that gripped me.
There was a time when I was frequently haunted by nightmares that made me remain awake in the middle of the night with a cold sweat and tossing and turning here and there, screaming. It went on for months and yet I didn't tell anybody, not a single soul. Suddenly it all stopped.
Fear does not have any clinical definition. It is an emotion, trauma, entertainment or myth. It is perhaps an intense, painful feeling of repugnance. The senses paralyses and heart beat comes a halt for certain time. It is hard to explain.
The strange paralysis that had held me was broken after a few moments. I took a step toward the door, and then checked myself. I came out of the appalling door and moved towards the stairs. I was not running. The tread was deliberate and measured than ever. It was dark near the stairs.
I heard the stairs began to creak. A groping hand, moving along the balustrade, came into the bar of moonlight; then another, and a ghastly thrill went through my body, as I saw that the other hand gripped a hatchet -- a hatchet which dripped blackly. Was that thief who was coming down that stair?
My heart started pounding as never before. Terror held me like a vice-like grip. The torture of my indecision and fear threatened to crush me. I saw two eyes blinking and coming towards me. All of a sudden I felt the rush of blood inside the veins of my body. I was trying to shout...but it was a distant dream as I could not even breathe properly at that moment.
I had seen it in many movies by then. An unknown mask-man with a machete or hatchet comes slowly and if you are lucky enough you won’t see him. If otherwise, before you could scream, his hatchet with flung in air and your intestines will be spread over the floor, pouring red and thick blood all over.
It moved towards me with no sound but tweak of the stairs. It was all spooky and sense of encountering something evil was dominating my thoughts. As the distance reduced between me and the glittering eyes, I closed my eyes…as tight as I could. I knew that anytime that hatchet with segregate my head from rest of my body.
I opened eyes and saw no one near me or the stair. I quickly saw behind me to make sure that no hatchet is swinging towards me. Anyways a person is killed in a movie when he is least alert and feeling secure. There was nothing. I could only see two fireflies in some distance and assumed that the glittering eyes were nothing but these fireflies.
I again moved towards the terrace. I could see a hatchet hanging on the wall. I reached the terrace. It was cold like ice out there. I shivered at the phrase, staring uneasily at the terrace walls that shut them in. The scent of the pines was mingled with the odors of unfamiliar plants and blossoms. But underlying all was a reek of rot and decay. Again a sick abhorrence of these dark mysterious woodlands almost overpowered me. The voices of dog-cry and cats were not helping at all. It seemed that a cry was crying just near our house.
I was again drowned in the feeling of fear and disgust. It was not only chilling but a sense of fear also captured me deep in my heart. I was somehow so frightened that the blood drained from my face, turning it to ghastly waxen color; my fists were clenched, white knuckled, against my flat bosom. I felt goose bombs all over my body. It was like I have forgotten to be happy and a deep sorrow penetrated my heart.
I heard voice of someone crying on the terrace now. It was like a child’s cry. I put pressure on my eyes. It decreased in size and the visibility increased a bit. It was a small shadow, more like a cat. It was not moving, still, grounded but emitting a sound…a hellish sound which could extract blood out of your veins and make it filled with only sorrow and death. The speed of my mind was retarded to nothing. I could not think anything but horrors. I crouched and moved one more step ahead, the cat was eating something.
When I was a kid, my granny used to tell the stories of a devil cat. People say it was a woman, cursed by the witch-craft and black magic. She became a cat and fed upon the dead bodies and little children. It used to kill sleeping people as well. When people used to sleep unconsciously, unaware of what horror was approaching them; this cat would appear from nowhere and would start licking the toe of sleeping man or woman. People believed it was a kind of black spell which used to make that person go into deep sleep. And after confirming the deep sleep, this cat would kill the person and behead it to eat. There was a time when the whole village gathered to search and kill that cat but nobody could find it. It is said that this cat travels from place to place, killing people and feeding upon their heads.
As soon as I remembered the story my heart froze into nothing but a mass of cold ice. I could not feel heartbeat. The saliva gathered into my throat but could not swallow it. Afraid of the fact, that swallowing could make some sound which would attract the attention of the cat which could be the same devilish cat. I don’t know why I stepped ahead. My foot landed on something slippery. Was it blood?
I had no idea why I even tried to go and see on the terrace, how I could forget the horrors of the terrace especially after 12 am midnight. I was terrified by the fact that I was standing on blood of someone and the cat probably was eating someone’s head. I had no torch and even my mobile had dim light. But I took out the mobile, The different pages of virtual worlds like Facebook, Google+, Twitter and instagram were still loading on it. I tried to see the color of the fluid on the terrace with the mobile light. It was red. Suddenly my heart beat went louder, I could hear the pounding in my ears and few drops of sweat appeared on my forehead. Somehow I was recalling all the horror stories have ever heard.
I was 16 when I visited one of my friend’s house. It was in Himachal Pradesh. It was a fruitful stay until I noticed that not everything was right there. I saw a little girl in the bathroom. I thought she is the member of the family but I never saw her with rest of the family. After a day I requested my friend to stop that girl from going to my bathroom but he told me that there was no girl in family. I was shit scared and after that day here was constantly something happening. Doors flying open and shut, voices, footsteps. Nothing ever stayed where you put it. I was not alone there but either it was only me who was seeing things or my friend was lying to me and they knew what was it?
‘Stuff that's hidden, murky and ambiguous is scary because you don't know what it does’.
It was only a horrific day when I came to know that my friend had a niece, who died in that bathroom, drowned in the bathtub. Her spirit remained there and started to haunt everyone. Even after returning Delhi from there, I could not go to the bathroom at night. I always felt as if someone was there…may be that girl.
It was a gut-level disturbing reality now that there was a huge possibility that this cat was a Satan. I pulled my step back, slowly, without making any noise. I could feel as if somebody was squeezing my heart apart. I slowly moved to the stair and as soon as I kept my first step onto the stair, the cat started crying again. It was an ominous sound.
The sound continued to plunge inside my ears but brain I wasn't scared, and I didn't feel anger or any strong emotion. In fact, it was like emotion was trickling out of me somehow, and I was getting more blank, more empty. My mind started feeling a little hazy and more and more I felt like I simply didn't care about anything. A small and rapidly dwindling part of myself started to panic, knew that something bad was happening, but it was like my own inner voice was slowly getting quieter and quieter. My feet became heavy and breathe deeper. I had to literally drag my legs to my room.
I didn’t know why I was so afraid, so scared and panicked. It was just a cat. But I had the fear of cats since I was a kid and there is a reason behind it. I was seven when I killed a cat by throwing it from 2nd floor. The cat fall straight down and collided with a rock. Its head broke and it died almost instantly. I received a lot of heat from my father on this topic. But to my amazement, I saw that very cat alive the next day, following its daily routine. Everybody believed that this cat was different but I knew it was not. It was the same cat. I could see it in its eyes. It’s hazy and brownish eyes which were like fire of hell… was giving out the imprints of an immortal devil; that couldn’t be killed or buried in mere soil. It kept on returning to haunt us and to spread hatred, unlikeness and dismay.
I and my friends also tried to dig the place where cat was buried. But we could find no body, not even the maggots.
I dragged myself into my room and closed the door. I felt relieved that I was back in the room and was not killed by spirits or ghosts. I locked my door properly and turned around. Suddenly the lights fluctuated and I saw something which I cannot explain.
A 6 feet tall woman was standing there in black. She had no legs; she was hovering on the air. Her black hair had covered her half body. The hair was floating in the air as if it was in water. She was smiling and her smile was bigger than what her face could afford, as if her cheeks were cut with a sharp blade. Her brownish and sharp teeth were visible with red pieces of meat stuck in it. She had whiskers like cats do. Her flesh was rotten. Her whole body was covered in a kind of black fur.
It was a killed scream which got buried in my throat. My heart could not beat, and I was not able to breath. The whole body was twisted as if a rift had begun inside my body pulling everything in a black hole. I could not stop thinking about her white eyes; it had no pupil in it.
“I also have a tail.” She said.
She scratched my neck with her long nails and a stream of blood oozed out of my neck. I cried out with dismay and pain. I could only hear the crying of the cat. I ghastly tried to save myself but my neck could not tolerate the second attack and my head broke. It rolled down on the floor and that woman turned into a cat; black cat with white eyes. I died.
I know you are feeling sad for me. It is a bit chilling here. Your heart is filling with fear and misery. You are recalling that cat and that girl in the bathroom. May be you are feeling like someone is watching you. Now you are thinking that how can I tell this. You can turn back and see me because I am right behind you.