A succinct eulogy delivered.
Everything desired said.
‘Riya is dead’.
Pain was normal.
She romanticised both,
and hung in the middle, of nowhere.
As alcohol flowed down my throat,
the pretense came crashing down,
I felt vulnerable and broken
to the core.
Do you see? He pointed ahead.
I aimed the knife
at the mirror behind him.
Not anymore, I cried.
He lived there alone for two full years. It was a lovely home. He decorated it with memories; he bought so many books he didn’t have cupboards to fit them; he cooked and cooked till others could eat his cooking too. The house itself was tiny and modest. It did have a fridge which was a luxury for him. The fridge was mostly stocked with beer, some vegetables and cheese. He missed it all at this point. Not the other difficult moments that house saw him through (a miserable job), but the peaceful, inspirational and happy memories it brought.
Cochin was a rough and tough period in his life. Having that home, those four walls gave him strength even on the worst days. It provided him a safe place, a cocoon and a freedom he hadn’t known till then. He had lived at home with his clothes magically getting clean, never having to clean up and a hot meal when he returned home. It was hard at first. But it got better.
He was mostly happy within those walls. He left the madness of the world outside, the demands of his angry boss and it felt okay. With the move in cities and jobs, his living conditions changed again. He was back to living at home, like a king. A lot changed for the better but he still ached for what that home gave him. A unique kind of freedom and control over his life. Up until then, he never had it. It was the first house where he lived without any support; it was a breath of fresh air.
He remembered his last five minutes in that home. He felt a deep sense of loss. Like he had said goodbye to a dear friend, a confidante, a care-giver.
He felt that pain all over again as he stared at his cupboard full of books. He missed his home.
She had hands, feet and even a voice. I am sure. Though I could hardly make any of this out from the box she was always in. It made quick movements uneasy and her itself unapproachable. But she was too scared to leave these brown walls she had built around herself. They defined her now. Over time, the box grew a little bigger as it got a little stuffy inside; too tiny even for her. But the box hugged her like company would, protected her from ridicule of others and shaped her personality. It was her world. It was all she saw, felt, smelt and did. It was all she knew. It was familiar. Even the loneliness was comforting. She didn’t even need to let out a sound. Who would hear it but her, anyway. She might have had a voice, a personality. But fear kept her within the box. I found it restrictive, cumbersome and suffocating. She didn’t know anything else. So, she never aspired for freedom.
I thought I was a non-believer.
But, I begged; I pleaded.
I assumed my faith had long crumbled. I promised myself that I wouldn’t pray, as life got worse, as it certainly would. I vowed to myself that I would live it without pining for divine help or assistance. I assumed I could find my way. I would struggle I was sure, but I would wobble along. And wobbling was fine for the most part.
Many stubborn years later, I entered the church to kneel before God. I begged him to stop these tests, to put an end to my bankruptcy, to breathe some life into me. I searched my heart to feel a connection to him, to these words I formed inside my mind. But a deep sense of fear coated these words. If he existed and if he listened closely, he would see it too. But, I asked for forgiveness and begged for his attention. I was positive he wouldn’t believe me and I was positive I was just voicing my insecurities. Yet, I had completely lost faith in myself. I felt the urge to turn to someone else. I needed, craved for someone else to share the blame with.
I have fallen, far deeper than the faithful fall. For, I was a non-believer.
I felt gutted. I didn’t believe; yet I prayed.
To understand this dance she did, one needed some background information.
An unbelievable quiet set in but she preferred a storm instead. The calm was unsettling and discomforting for her. It didn’t let her think. The blaring music brought back the rush; she shook the floor with her steps. She danced with a passion and a madness. It didn’t send her into a trance. It revoked and revitalised her senses; she danced to reclaim consciousness.
I understood this dance she did. She didn’t like me watching. I peeped from behind the curtains, though. I invaded the private moment she revelled in with her body. I had seen her go through the routines numerous times before. She danced to focus all her energies on the present, the moment and the motions of her body. She used the movements as a means to channel her inner thoughts and externalise them. I understood her need to perform though we never spoke about it. It was, in all probability, a ritual and reminder to break the silence and protest.
She stamped her feet as I wondered how to keep myself connected to my voice. For, I didn’t dance.
She woke up with a start. She didn’t bother brushing her teeth or combing her hair. In her over-sized white tee shirt and loose tracks, she ran out of the house. She didn’t drink water or even wear comfortable shoes. Just took the house keys and wore slippers she used at home. She ran down the stairs and ran wildly on to the streets. She frantically dodged the vehicles in the mad traffic and continued to run. She ran till she was out of breath. Even then, she stopped just briefly to catch her breath before she started up again. She ran all the way out of the city until she reached the highway. On the highway, she slowed to a crawl. She was tired but not tired enough. She sat on rock to take long deep breaths for a little while. She didn’t have water on her or even any money to buy some. She hadn’t thought of anything logical when she started running that morning. She just wanted to run and not think. To further avoid her thoughts, she started up again and ran. It was noon when she decided to head back. She ran, ran and ran all the way back home, till she collapsed on her door step with exhaustion. She dragged her body into bed and fell deep into sleep almost instantly. She just didn’t want to think, today.
Her blood stained eyes
stared at the map
on her lap.
She had charted
out a course,
to take her away,
from this tiresome place.
She couldn’t fix it,
or even herself,
she didn’t like to pretend.
So she got up and left.
It will pass, I encouraged.
But she knew the abyss
would last if she stayed.
The place she was,
it wasn’t a passing place.
It wasn’t a phase.
Her worry wasn’t misplaced.
So, she left without packing.
She left without saying goodbye.
She left without a plan
or ever come by.
I didn’t get to say bye,
But I was happy she did go,
I cannot lie.
She needed new spaces,
and new faces.
And new things to do.
She needed to be free,
She needed to think,
She needed to be
but here with me.
Prompt from The Mag: Mag 183
If my brain exploded, I could sit face to face with the insides of an unusual breakdown. I wondered time and again about how the insides of my mind reacted when I read and wrote. Chaotic it would be, I was positive. I would have loved to observe the reactions of the lobes of my brain to my thoughts. I would notice a part tingle when I felt the constant urge to write. A wonderful story or a rage filled rant. I would then see another heave as I read the same thought articulated elsewhere. On the Internet, perhaps. I could observe the reactions to my peeks in anger, the drops when disappointed and the numbness when I hit a known dead end. I could then rewire my brain to not go through these range of emotions while seated in front of my laptop with the broken fan inside it whirring in the background. I could then allow myself to not feel discouraged.
Or is there an other non-magical way to do this?
It felt like she was preparing for war. Her body ached to throw in a few punches. But no, she had to stay composed. Her ethics had to command her every move, her every thought. Heart over mind, she confirmed. She wouldn’t fight even if provoked. She wouldn’t growl or snarl. Yet, she felt like she was preparing for war. A war she was far too exhausted to take part in. A war she felt she wasn’t ready for.
‘You are as ready as you will ever be,’ a friendly voice encouraged.
But wars were messy and along with the actual damage the collateral damage bothered her. The actual damage was eventually dealt with at least. But everyone lost sight of the collateral losses. She thought fighting wasn’t in her genes. But nobody revived their dying morals. Nobody even seemed to care that morality had died. People around either fled or stayed on to prepare. She couldn’t flee; there was too much at stake. She couldn’t fight; there was too much to lose. She was torn between her choice or lack of choice.
It felt like war and she was uneasy preparing for it. She could be apathetic, like many others. But then again, she couldn’t. If she didn’t fight actively, she would perhaps be part of the collateral damage.
It, probably, was a war. She didn’t like it, but she had to prepare.
Nothing definite was said when they walked down the road together. Along side each other. Unaware of irrelevant or relevant details about the other’s thoughts. Not a word was exchanged as their eyes locked and they danced in silence to a moonless night. No one spoke as her starry sky turned dark for him. Jolted by the moment, he waltzed away on his own. Yet, again without a word. She looked inattentively at the empty space. The skies cleared up; she pirouetted in her spot under a starry, starry night.
Man: Where do I begin?
Judge: Why don’t you begin when you bought the gun?
Man: The story began 10 years before I illegally purchased that weapon.
Judge: For what?
Man: To protect me from the mad men.
Judge: Where are these mad men?
Man: Somewhere in my neighbourhood.
Judge: Have they attacked you?
Man: They keep banging on the doors.
Judge: Didn’t you report it to the police?
Man: I did. They didn’t believe me.
Man: They said the men, the doors and the banging was happening inside my head.
Judge: But you didn’t agree?
Man: No. There was a real threat. The gun was for my protection.
Judge: Did the real man you shot threaten you?
Man: No. But he banged on my door.
Two disconnected trains of thought. Two disconnected stories.