Paper Boats

The brook gurgles beside, and I sit with a paper in my hand,
Wondering what I could possibly write that could change your mind,
So I write, “I miss you, come back please?”, and make a paper boat out of it,
Does this brook run through where you live?

The breeze turns into a stronger wind, and I sit with a paper in my hand,
Wondering what I could say in defense of all my mistakes,
So I write, “I am sorry, honestly, truly,” and make a paper plane out of it,
Does this wind blow towards your house?

The trees bear leaves a shade of orange, like your favorite dress,
I sit on a bench, one where we used to sit not so long ago,
And run my hand through the cold iron handle where your hand would have been,
Will you come to sit here this fall?

The narrow lanes so full of leaves, and winter is nigh,
Soon they’ll be painted white, a layer of ice warmer than your breath,
I would do anything that you asked of me,
Would you come back to this world?

Return – Chapter 3

Breakfast consisted of a lot of catching up. “What are you reading these days?” I asked. She looked at me melancholically, as if an entire life ushered in front of her eyes. “Love Story,” she said. “The Erich Segal one?” I paused, “or the one we wrote?” I tried keeping my face straight. She blushed, and in an instance I was transported back to school. Her shy smile hadn’t changed a bit. “The Erich Segal one, you fool,” she smiled. We talked a lot about what happened in our lives in the past four years, shared lots of stories. She talked nonchalantly, her hair still auburn, a thousand clips placed tightly. It reminded me of the first time I had seen her, how she kept drawing petals and flowers on her notebook, and how far we had come from there. “You remember the Biology lab?” she asked. The biology lab was where our entire story started. “You think I can forget it?” I said, winking slightly. My mind kept shifting from memory to memory, sieving those which had her in them. It was astonishing how I remembered so much, when I had not given much thought to it for such a long time. She insisted that I tell her more about my college, and what I had been up to for the past four years. I could tell her the truth, this time I had nothing to lose, but somehow, I kept back most of the truth from the story. I told her a bit about my friends, and a bit about my college, only as much as was needed. We decided to go out for lunch in another two hours. I told her I would be back on time to pick her up. We hugged and waved good bye to each other.

The sun was up, shining ever so brightly. It was as if it rejoiced in my return. I went back home, knocked on the door, hoping she’d not close it on my face like she did a while ago. I had my plan ready; I would hug her as soon as she opened the door, giving her no time to shut it on my face. As I retraced my steps, it began to rain. It was only a drizzle first, a pitter-patter, but I stood there, in the middle of the street, rejoicing the rain, as it washed away the dust on the streets, and from the memories that lay stacked in my brain for so many years. It reminded me of the days when I went to school during the monsoons. I still remember the faint white tube-lights of the classroom switched on even though it was early in the morning, and the smell of the mud never allowing me to concentrate in the class, my eyes always shifting from the blackboard to the skies outside, black and grey, dull and gloomy, yet happier than what the teacher was teaching. And how that changed later, when though it rained, the only place my eyes went were her eyes, and the teacher kept running through huge courses I had no idea of. But that was a lifetime ago. Those need not have bothered me anymore, not more than the fact that I would never grow young again, and never relive those moments; etched deep in my thoughts, like engravings on stone, made with other stones, proclaiming love in the forts and on the trees, so that people around the world knew who you were; the wish to be famous. It was queer how we never became famous for our good acts, and some, like us, never got any fame, remained in the backgrounds, forever working for those who received all the fame, and yet I didn’t regret. And suddenly I realized, the rain had stopped. I needed to do some serious business now. And so I walked.

I went back home, only to find the door locked. I waited outside, for an hour, and another, and then another, but she didn’t come. Where could she have gone? She was here this morning. I felt an eerie sense of disownment. Maybe it was never destined to be so. Our lives had separated, and no matter how hard I tried, probably nothing good would ever come out of it. Our relationship was like a thread, once broken; I tried knotting it up, and making it one whole piece again, but that knot… that knot was there, and howsoever hard I tried, the knot would be there. To remove the knot would mean to break the thread again, and I had to choose one over the other. But the knot was hurting, it hurt a lot. And so I needed to break the thread, even if it meant losing someone dear, someone close to the heart. For sometimes, it’s not the act, but the repercussions and the consequences that make you act towards it. And something similar was happening here. I got up, kicked the door one last time, though nothing really changed, and strolled off. I had to be on time for lunch.

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Return – Chapter 1

As I sat there, watching the black of the sky fade into deep maroon, the sun rising between the clouds, more crimson than ever, and watched it light the sky into an orange, the chirps of the sparrows, and the caws of the crows who had left their nests already, the alarm in my watch buzzed. It was five in the morning, the iron bench on which I sat still cold, drops of dew settled on it, and on my coat, and the sun slowly started hiding behind the clouds, turning the sky into a black, and in a few minutes, the drizzle came upon me. The grass looked greener than ever, as if it rejuvenated in the morning mist and rain, the dogs running back into their shelters where they slept, and the road in front of me, empty. Only after the drizzle had stopped did I see old couples back on the road, some walking, and in some, one pushing the other around on a wheelchair. A guy in a raincoat rode a bicycle, had roses to sell, and newspapers too, but the papers were all wet already, and he didn’t have anything to protect them from the rain. He reminded me of a time long before, when I used to see someone else exactly this way, only the face was different, rest everything same. Or was the face same too? I didn’t remember. It was six o’ clock then, when I rose from the bench, and smiled at the guy who had been sitting beside me for the past two hours, never making an introduction, never saying a word. It was better that way, no one liked to talk early in the morning, he was out for some reason, I for some other, or may be the same, who knew. I had to return, I decided.

It couldn’t go on forever like this. I had tried long and hard for four years to stay away from her, and had thought that maybe we both would forget each other, get on with our lives, move ahead, never looking back at the path we had left. And yet, God works in mysterious ways. Sometimes, you run so hard away from destiny that you don’t realize you’ve taken a full circle back to where you started. Maybe in a parallel universe we might have never met, and had been much happier than right now, but then, I needed to live in the present. I needed to be happy. Spring was around the corner, small green leaves on each tree, wet with the morning fog. I liked the winter rain. It made the surrounding slightly colder, and nothing could be better than going back inside, cuddle a quilt around, sip a cup of coffee, and get engrossed in a novel. However, right now, that didn’t seem the best option. In fact, going back didn’t seem a viable option at all. Going back now would mean getting back to square one. When one has read a story one didn’t like a bit, he is less likely to want to read it all over again. I was somehow the reader of this very bad book, and it seemed that someone had just thrown the book on my face again, only with a new cover, or maybe not even so much a new cover than a reprinted one. Yet if I had to read it, it were better I got started and get done with it already, rather than procrastinate it so much that it would seem to have gained more importance in my life than it should have.

I plied a bus and took a seat near the window. A few stops later, a man got up and took the seat beside me. He was roughly middle-aged, and smiled at me congenially, which was perhaps the first good thing that happened to me in the day. I was too flagged to make a good conversation with him, so I decided to let him speak if he wanted to, assuming he would get tired after a while and try to lessen the small-talk. But when he stopped, I felt miserable. It was nicer when he was talking, and so I started talking to him. He was a father of two kids, he said, had been living here for the past three years and found this city extremely affable. I laughed at my destiny. Here I was, listening to a person telling me how pleasant this place was, when it had succeeded in giving me nothing but nervousness of what was impending. A few stops later, he got up, we shook hands, and he left. A beggar got up in the bus, pleaded for some money, and I gave him some. I had always been lenient towards them, perhaps it was because of the way I was brought up, or maybe just because I had a soft corner for everything, or maybe, I really didn’t know what spurred me to spare something for them every time they asked for something. Perhaps deep inside, I wished that if ever I had asked someone for something, may be they would also give it to me, just as much as I wanted it, nothing more, nothing less. But life, strange as it is, hardly works in the ways you would have wanted it to. When I got down from the bus, the place was completely new. It wasn’t how I had remembered it, and not really how I would have wanted it to be. My memories raked up the old place, and superimposed it on the current. The entire scenery looked misplaced now. I realized that time indeed does change things. It might not have been weird to see it grow into what it was today, had I been through it entirely. But right now it felt as I had time-travelled into the future, and that somehow twenty years had passed since I had last seen it. There was no smoke from the chimney of the tavern, instead air-conditioning machines placed on the roof. The trees used to bear orange leaves perennially, yet now they were all green. Something was different about this place.

Perhaps it was time to embrace the change. Perhaps it would be better for me to go back to the point where I started again. Maybe this was the way it was all supposed to be. If so, then life was giving me a second chance. If not, it would be the most terrible mistake that I would ever commit in my life. I only hoped that this time the journey would not end so soon, like it did before. My mind was firm, and strong as ever, but my heart wasn’t ready to accept this fate. But when it saw the spring, and how the trees bore new leaves again, it sometimes found solace in nature. It realized that this is how life was supposed to have been in the first place. Make, break, make, break. It was an endless cycle, and how much ever you wanted to get out of it, at the end, it was inevitable to get sucked into it. Because that was the difference between God and us. We could not control everything. Because if we could, then we would have been as powerful as Him, as stoic as ever, never wandering from our path, and never being forced to choose anything. But now that I had made my choice, I would live by it, and live it good. Or so I wished. I would soon set things right, but before that I had one last thing to do.

Next

The Somnambulist

The rains came with thunder today,
Reminding me of a day gone by,
When you’d held me to yourself,
And sniffed and cried,
You were afraid of the lightning,
I remember.
Whilst I ran, getting wet in the rain,
My clothes drenched, my hair all wet,
You stood inside a building,
Making sure the rains never reached you,
It wasn’t until it had stopped thundering,
That you stopped sniffing,
I remember.
You were my dream,
I the somnambulist,
Walking towards my dream each moment,
Never realizing my folly,
Or what I moved towards,
Always being directed back to my sleep,
By others who thought they cared about me.
Today the rains have come with thunders,
I still remember that evening we spent,
And even now as I get wet,
I see you amongst the people inside the building.

Stranded – 2

Read the first part in Stranded – 1.

She looked at him, he was still drinking,
He hadn’t said a word in the past three hours,
Wondered how terse he had become,
And wondered whether he even loved her anymore.
The blood on his face had dried to black,
A stream of it from his forehead to chin,
She remembers how that had splashed on his face,
And the axe that he used to kill him.

The boy who was waiting on him came up later,
And told them they needed to pay for the ale,
She explained how their money had been stolen,
How they had been robbed of everything as they came.
He went back to his mistress, explained everything,
The wench was ruthless, she didn’t care,
Came up and slapped her on both her cheeks,
That was the last time the wench ever breathed.

As night fell upon them, they decided to sleep,
Shared the hay that the horse in the stable slept on,
She talked to him about love and hopes,
About the children that she planned to have,
The things she had ruminated on while he drank,
He listened intently, or so he pretended,
Until a point when he dozed off,
Leaving her to herself, still talking intently.

When the sun next rose, the girl woke up,
And as she rubbed her eyes and faced his side,
Lo, her love was nowhere to be seen,
Nor was the horse, the stable gates open.
She leaped up and started running,
Never missing the footsteps the horse left behind,
But after some hours she realized her folly,
Sat down where she stood, and wept out loud.

She learned that day what love was about,
How it seldom stood against the face of adversity,
How people changed, and did not realize,
And how love like all things eventually came to an end.
Her love knew no bounds, then why was she,
Alone today, in despair and turmoil?
Stranded she sat, amidst the sand,
Which would bury her into itself, come tonight.

Sunshine on Her Forehead

Through the tiny slit between the curtains,
That blocks her from the outside for most of the day,
Two tiny rays of sunshine slither through,
And fall on her forehead, making a tiny yellow moon.
She knows when the rains come pouring,
A pitter-patter on the windows,
She cannot smell the wet mud outside,
Nor see the birds fly back to their nests.

Sunshine on her forehead, she smiles,
A face of glee forever overshadowing,
Her life of plight that she has carefully masked,
Against day, against night, and against herself.
She dreams of a day when she’d go outside,
She sees her father, his hands wide apart,
She runs to him, and embraces him dearly,
But alas! Then she wakes up.

She doesn’t know how her story will end,
Whether her hero would rescue her,
She dreams of people who are blind like her,
And tells them to be patient, in her thoughts.
She walks up to the door sometimes,
But there are no latches on the inside,
She wonders who locked her up here,
But alas! Then she wakes up.

Sometimes when she sees the slit,
Between the curtains turn to a shade of black,
She knows it is night, and that she must sleep,
Yet never her eyes close, endlessly she stares.
She doesn’t remember the last time she cried,
She wants to wail, tears betray her,
She covers her face with the pillow she has,
It smells of her, she hasn’t known any other.

Yet next morning, when the sunshine,
Draws a tiny moon on her forehead again,
She feels a wetness in her eyes,
And tries hard to cover it with her smile.
She knows this could go on forever,
And wishes she had been dead long ago,
But she promises to herself she’d live through it,
And show to the day another black night.

Somewhere

They said I killed her, that she died because of me,
Although deep somewhere, I know it wasn’t my fault.

Jet black eyes and a white dress,
She walked into my life one day,
And before I realized what was happening,
She changed it in a strange way.
It wasn’t love which I’d fallen in,
Because there was no pain in it,
The only pain that I felt each day,
Was when she said, “Tomorrow we’ll meet.”
If it were a jigsaw puzzle which I was solving,
Only one piece was what I couldn’t find,
And I knew it was around, hiding somewhere,
So that someone could stab me from behind.
And yes it happened, as I thought it would,
She ran away as far as she could,
Not bothering to tell me what happened to her,
And left me alone the whole of that summer.
When people found out that she had died,
By eating food with poison mixed,
They said she killed herself for I had betrayed her,
I couldn’t respond, I was already fixed,
Fixed into something which would never wash off,
The fact that she had left me alone,
And though I knew I didn’t hurt her,
I kept shut, as dumb as a stone.
Two years have passed, and sometimes in my dreams,
She comes and apologizes to me,
Says she’s sorry for what she did,
And calls me to her world where all are free.