Warning: a little amateurish
“You are invited. You must come.” The loud comment made in my general direction by that old man in a crushed kurta pyjama, silver hair matching it, broke my train of thoughts as I stared out of the balcony. “Yes uncle.” My sister managed to stutter, as I looked at her in despair. How could I tell him that I was not willing to. He would just brush aside my unfounded fears, so unexpected of someone educated. If I repeated the fact that years ago an old lady was murdered here in the kitchen, her throat slit, her body decaying when found, and that this repulsed me enough to never enter that house again, he would just give me a ‘you know better than to be scared of an unfortunate incident of the past’ look. But I couldn’t help it.
“There would be so many people around. Ghosts don’t lurk in crowds”, I chided myself. “It’s a moment of festivity and I must go”, I reasoned with myself, looking at the string of lights that decorated the ‘shaadi wala ghar’ right opposite my balcony. The vision of an old red brick house surrounded by complete darkness, with just one torch light bobbing up and down the kitchen, made me break into cold sweat. “I must replace that old vision with this new one. See the festive look, the gaiety, and the cheer. That episode is all over now.” I felt a little comforted.
The d-day came and I, trying to suppress my unfounded fears, put on a gorgeous lehenga and a plastic smile to go with it. I was welcomed to the sound of ladies sangeet with a dholak, all of them sitting on the floor. I was given a spot on the duree. Just when I was getting a little comfortable with the feeling that there was no ghost bursting through the roof, I realised to my horror that I was sitting at the spot at which the body had been found. The kitchen had long ago been refurbished and made a part of the sitting room. With an instant jerk, I got up and excused myself to go to the toilet. “Relax. Just stay for half an hour and discreetly pop in back to your house. After all it’s right opposite.” I looked at my own house out of the window and pictured a little girl, scared stiff – me about 20 years ago, looking at the murder spot with horror.
As I opened the tap to splash some cool water on my perspiring brow, I deliberated with myself, “Enough, for how long can you fool yourself. It’s high time this place got some justice.”
I walked purposefully to the pooja room where uncle was now doing his final prayers before coming out to join the ladies. It wasn’t everyday that his daughter got married.
I stealthily tiptoed from behind and shaping my dupatta like a noose, tightened it around his neck. My hand covered his nose and mouth, blocking a scream as well as the air his lungs screamed for. When I felt his body going limp, I let go. I walked out coolly as if nothing had happened, having sought vengeance at last.
With satisfaction I watched as the scene changed from celebration to mourning. No one could understand how the old man got asphyxiated.
“He met his deserved death if what we heard was true”, whispered one visitor to another. “It is believed that he murdered his old mother for the property. Curiously enough, even a little girl aged 6 in the opposite house was also found dead. The police were speculating that she might have been a sole witness to the incident from her balcony. Till date no one could prove anything against him.”
Warning: a little amateurish
Another one bites the dust. Literally. I witnessed the death of yet another house. This was the third one in a week. It’s a depressing sight. Seeing the carcass of what was once someone’s home. In some time, the skeleton also becomes visible. One can see each and every intimate detail of the house, without ever having visited the place. The bedrooms, where the residents would have slept or shared a private moment. The almirahs which would have cased clothes, jewellery, nick nacks and what not. Only this time, they have a deserted, ‘final’ look about them. Some posters on the walls are still there. The walls have dust patterns depicting rectangles which shows where the family would have hung paintings or maybe portraits of an ancestor. The kitchen looks naked, devoid of its usual utensils, jars, gas burner and the like. The lady of the family would have cooked here. The bathrooms lie bare. It becomes almost embarassing to watch as the ‘private parts’ or rather the sancta sanctorum of the house get exposed to the world. The terrace and the staircase where the children would have gamboled about is almost about to collapse. The occasional tree and the plants if any, are almost gone and forgotten. They bear the look of orphans left behind by their parents. In a few days all this is reduced to dust.
But this isn’t all. Unlike human lives, houses live forever. They rise like a phoenix from the ashes. No soon has the house ‘bitten the dust’ than another one resurrects. This time with a better look about it. A modern architecture. More capacity. Stylish facades, porches and arches. Portruding terraces and balconies. Modern mousetraps, all. Soon it will be inhabited like nothing happened.
“I Love You”, he said with all the courage he could muster, his heart pounding so loud that he imagined his words to be lost in the thumping sound.
“What????!!!!”, she said. Her reaction wasn’t quite unexpected.
“I am not expecting anything in return…I just wanted to let you know of my feelings.”, he blurted.
“Forget expecting or not expecting anything..do you even *know* what you just said? How can you even *say* that to me!!! Just how long has it been since you have known me?”, she asked.
“Errr.. not even a month”.
“Do you even *know* what love is?”, she asked rhetorically.
“Have *you* experienced it?”, he volleyed.
“What do you think I am talking abt then?”. His sinking feeling sank even further. He knew he couldn’t expect her to love back. He knew that she was never to be his. But for her to have loved and been loved by someone else was more painful than he had imagined.
“Well, I think of you all the time. You are on my mind whatever I may try to think of and I can just not let you out of my system, however hard I have tried.”.
“Oh! So that’s what you think love is? That’s called infatuation for your kind information. Go take a vacation for a month and let see if you still remember me when you come back”.
“No, it’s NOT infatuation”, he vehemently added..steaming up a little. “I know that it *is* love. And it is unconditional even if it is unrequited”.
“If I could, I would have married you”, he added.
“Whaaaaat??????!!!!!!”. Her reaction was again not unexpected at all.
“Marriage? My GOD! You have really gone far in this imaginary world of yours.. haven’t you?”
“Well to tell you the truth.. I even thought about the kids…”, he added sheepishly as he saw her almost choke and her eyes pop out in reaction.
“Gosh!! Please stop it! I have had more than the-number-of-shocks-I-can-take-in-a-day”, she spluttered.
And they both laughed. It had lightened the obvious tension a little.
“But seriously.. what’s wrong with you? Have you forgotten that I am at least two years elder to you?”, she came back to the point soon. “What is this that you have suddenly started. Ok, the joke was funny.. now can we get back to work. This has been one hell of a tea break!”
“The age difference doesn’t matter to me.”, he justified. “I know what love is. It is *me* who has been experiencing it so strongly. I can do anything for you. You can try me. Go ahead”, he added.
“Oh please! Stop being filmy and all that. What you feel is simply infatuation. Mark my words. Grow up. And to reiterate, had you really been in “love”, you wouldn’t have made these silly claims of doing *anything* etc.”. She was beginning to lose her patience. Seeing his pained expression she added hurriedly, “Look.. ok.. I know how it feels.. I have been through it myself..it’s not as helpless as you seem to think.. not being able to think of anything else except me.. believe me I am not half as nice as what you are imagining me to be. You are looking at me through rose tinted glasses. Wake up to reality and it won’t be so difficult any more. That’s the way it is.”
“Well, to me you seem as nice as what I think. Anyway I am not forcing myself on you or anything. Just wanted to express myself and I did”.
“Why are you smiling to yourself?”, she heard her husband asking. It broke her reverie and she tried to disguise the startle as her own movement.
“Oh…err.. nothing.. just that someone looked familiar…”, her voice trailed off as she saw that guy from her yesteryears going with a lady, a possessive arm around her and a sprightly looking kid prancing around them.
Sitting at my window,
I can see the dark cloud,
I notice the silver lining for the first time,
it has me completely wowed.
The cloud keeps changing shape,
and looks different each time,
The darkness it seems to drape,
reminds me of a dilemma of mine.
The silver lining beckons me again,
only this time it seems to be clearer,
I realise too, that the problems are but small,
The main thing is the attitude of the bearer.
PS. Excuse the philosophical bent of mind as I composed this one minute poem.
I look out the glass window,
The sky so azure and blue,
A fluff of peppered clouds wafts by,
Oh! How I wish I could float too…
On the wings of nostalgia I fly,
and remember times gone by,
The scent of fresh air, the crystal clear panorama,
all remind me of an evening with you.
The way we were caught in a spell of rain,
huddled like sparrows were us twain,
In dearth of umbrellas, a tree was our shelter,
To prevent ourselves from soaking, we only huddled closer.
Times have gone,
The rains did too.
The rains have come again,
and I still miss you.