He kept sailing, the waters turning rough,
Storms every night, and rain sodding his clothes,
He caught a fever, but then recovered,
Yet caught it again, the rain never stopped.
The brine and the wind made him dizzy as ever,
And he retched constantly into the waters,
But never did he stop, it was important that he didn’t,
And he continued to sail, by the light of the moon.
Food had become scarce, wine even scarcer,
Water nowhere to be found,
And so he drank the sea water,
His stomach else empty.
When he went down, rats had infested,
The leftover grains and he’d have to throw them,
There was no one to talk, he the sole survivor on ship,
But he didn’t lose hope, he kept sailing.
A fortnight later, he found an island,
Stranded though, it had some trees,
He used the wood to mend the holes in the ship,
Then resumed on his journey.
How long he’d have to sail, he had no clue,
And didn’t know whether the winds would be in his favor,
But he knew he had to reach,
The land where the sun never sets,
And where his life would be just one long day.
He longed for his dream to come true,
And he’d set forth to make it so,
And he prayed to the gods to make it happen.
For deep in his heart he did believe,
And somewhere within we should too,
That dreams are but visions of what could be true,
And to make them possible, we alone must strive.

#8 – The Smell of Burned Leaves

She was too young to be called old, yet old enough to not be called a girl. Her auburn curls fell over her shoulder, swaying a little by the breeze, and slightly more by her gait. She walked slowly. She was pregnant, until yesterday. Then she had a girl. A stillborn. It was a curse, they all said. She shouldn’t be with them, she should be stripped and hanged from the oak, they said. All agreed in unison, save one. He was the man who had fallen in deep love with this girl, since the first time he saw her.

He would fight for her. Prince Christian he was called. He was a prince in fact, only his kingdom existed no more than the hours that passed by the seconds. He bore the title still. People said he was arrogant, he believed he was proud. He took out his sword, challenging anyone who would go against him and put her on the tree. He didn’t know her name, nobody knew anyone’s name here. They were all alike, only different in faces, yet this prince wanted to differ from them. His sword remained unsheathed for a long while, until they decided against killing her.

The baby was to be cremated. The smell of burned leaves, mixed with her fragrance as she lit it, was the purest smell he had ever known. He fell all the more in love with her, promising to himself he would soon give her a daughter, a daughter that would live. He once had a daughter, who he had lost in the fire. The fire burnt in front of him even now, choking his breath and tearing his eyes. He turned around to join the group. The woman came and walked with him for a while, and then implanted a kiss on his lips. The saltiness of tears, the dry lips, and the musky skin all fell together on his lips. He savored the moment as long as he could, but they had to keep walking.

Behind them, the one-legged boy Janas limped. His father was a woodcutter once, but now he was dead, and so was his mother. His brother was only what he had. And he had turned out to go against the people. The Things would come for them, he knew, and when it came, they would take him and her, and him too, and they would do nothing about it. Why then, would he care for a girl who he met only on the road, and why would he save her life when hanging was a merciful act compared to what awaited them? He hadn’t an answer, and he wasn’t sure he wanted one.

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#2 – The Broken Branch

The village on the side of the road, ‘was’ a village. Now its houses burned and smoke clouded rows of huts. The picture suddenly started coming back into his mind. Burning huts, fleeing people, dying cattle, and the broken, all suddenly flashed through his mind. What a death that was! The man jumped from the bridge into the river and was never to be seen. His head bubbled up once, but no one could say if he was alive or dead. The dog that chased him all the way until he jumped cried in pain and nature kicked it on its face. No one could comprehend why this was happening.

Walking on the road, Uddin wondered whether this was all a dream or actually true. Indeed it was true. Wasn’t it true that the old woman who sat till yesterday at the corner of the road and asked for money died today when she was beaten up for doing so? A tooth was still there on the corner of the street. The broken branches were still lying on the ground, crying in pain of being separated from their mother, yet wasn’t the sweeper giving them all the more pain by taking them yet far? He kept walking. For the first time, he couldn’t figure out what was happening around him. He was in a dilemma, an unexplainable one, an unexplored one.

The black guy was surrounded by the white boys in the middle of the road. He was lying on the ground crying for help, yet all around just smiled and passed by. Probably that is what everyone is supposed to do, Uddin thought, and so he left the boy to his pain, and went off. Not once did he cry or look up for help. Far at the end of the road, a shop was put on fire. The shopkeeper was still inside and he could not come out. The flames engulfed the shops around, as the grocer spilled all the oil when his feet slipped. God knows what happened to him after that. Questions entangled him, and answers were nowhere. Where would he search for them?

Was the end of this world, and was it just the beginning of a new world? A new beginning, a fresh start. What had happened to him? He felt dizzy, or was the world going round about him? For a moment, he couldn’t say if it were night or if the sun only refused to come up into the skies? Who would give him the answers? Silence followed, as always. Silence, that had always been his companion, had now sought to make the entire world its friends. Everyone was silent. No one talked. It felt as if he lived in a world of dumb people. Dumb, deaf and blind.

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The Journey – 1

She walked through the desert, a dry barren land,
The heat forever taking the toll on her,
But she didn’t stop, oh no she couldn’t,
She kept strolling, strolling forever.
Through sand dunes she walked, her legs forever aching,
Seeped into the sands, sometimes they felt cold,
She knew then it was night, and stopped for a while,
Or else she never knew, her eyes were too old.
Of people around her, alas, there were none,
Sometimes a crow would caw in her ears,
And late at nights, sometimes a snake slithered through,
She wrapped it on her fingers, she had no fears.

A fortnight she had walked, and then another,
And then another, it seemed like forever,
Yet she knew for well the road she’d taken,
And that if she stopped, it would kill her.
She saw a leopard run across the field,
Spotted it mingled with the dust and the land,
A humongous bear, all black and furry,
Slept half buried inside the sand.
Yet she kept walking, none were her cares,
And she kept walking, day after day,
Oases turned into mirages, and her throat went dry,
Yet she walked and she walked, came what may.

The next day she woke up and in front of her,
Stood her lover she had loved for four years and one,
And as she touched him he did disappear,
Became a raven and flew towards the sun.
The sun was above her head and hot,
And her skin had turned to black from red,
Yet she walked and she walked, walked forever,
Otherwise she might as well be dead.
As evening came, she stopped walking,
Her nostrils flaring with a smell she knew,
The smell of the city she had longed forever,
And atop her head the banners flew.

She knew if she went in, she would be contented,
They would greet her as his wife,
As their sister and as their mother,
It would be a pleasant life.
But she couldn’t do that, this wasn’t her place,
She had sworn promises to the other gods,
And for them she had to be at another place,
Fighting herself against all odds.
So she moved ahead, never stepping in,
And she walked and she walked, through sand and storm,
Never stopping to see what she left behind,
Never resting her feet, be it dusk or dawn.

Five and a day later, when she was all but dead,
Her eyes turned moist at what she saw,
The sands of the desert replaced by green meadows,
A lake of snow, which would soon thaw.
She ran towards it, and she ran very fast,
But her legs had given up on her,
She called out a woman squatted beside the well,
Her clothes were all covered in fur.
When she turned towards her, she couldn’t speak for a while,
They both were the same, as if twins they were,
Bu they knew it weren’t true, they were one and the same,
She covered in sand, she covered in fur.

Read the second part in A Journey – 2.

The Dwarf and His Horse

Once upon a time, in a country no far,
Than the length of the mightiest sea,
There lived a dwarf with six others,
Hidden in a cave which no one could see.
You remember Snow White, the fair little girl?
Oh why, he was the same one in whose house she did stay,
Until one day the cave collapsed,
And drove them all away.
The dwarf was called Shimon,
And a horse he did ride on,
And it was so fast it galloped,
To a land away, forlorn.
He had no food, no water to drink,
And so he started trotting back home,
And on his way back he did die,
His mouth filled with foam.

She Had Wings – 3

So they travelled far away,
And the horse had to keep pace with the girl as she flew,
They walked through deserts and they flew across seas,
And sometimes they slept under the trees.
When finally they reached a valley so green,
And the sun shone and each roof glimmered,
They kept walking through narrow walkways,
Until they reached a house,
Where an old lady sat outside the house,
Knitting sweaters for her daughter she’d never see.

The girl ran up and sat in front of her,
And while the lady cringed her eyebrows,
Trying to locate where she’d seen her,
She slowly turned back and revealed her wings.
A smile so great I’d never seen before,
Shone upon the old lady’s face,
And they hugged and they wept,
And they wept and they hugged.
The prince held back his tears, but he was welled up too,
But then at this next sight he couldn’t help but cry,
When Cinderella and Cinderella held hands and rose,
And into the blue space above they’d together fly.

She Had Wings – 2

Five years later, the girl could fly,
And everyone loved her, they called her a Dragon,
Except her father, he called her a dragon-fly.
She was pretty like an angel, eyes blue as the sea,
But the man couldn’t care less, her beauty he didn’t see,
She was his daughter, or was she her maid,
That their dog felt more loved,
Than she had ever been loved by anyone.
She was locked inside a house, and sunlight she’d never seen,
And at night she called her father by his name,
And did stuff only a mistress five times her age,
Could have done with that man.

One day a prince, richer than all other kings,
Asked his horse to take him,
To the place where the most beautiful fairy lives,
Whose name he called Cinderella.
The horse trotted day and night,
And the horse trotted night and day,
Until it finally reached the house of the girl,
Who sat inside weeping softly.

He knocked on the door, Is anybody there?
I have come from a faraway land,
Where princesses sit on cushiony chairs,
And dine on the finest ever heard in the world.
But Cinderella couldn’t open the door,
Her hands were chained to a room inside,
So she kept working in her room,
And she shouted Go away, or you may die.

I won’t, said the prince, and he waited there,
And when the father came walking by,
The horse neighed louder than any you’ve heard,
And ran towards that stubborn guy.
The poor man shouted, but what else could he do,
Beneath the legs of the strongest horse,
And the prince laughed at him and took out his sword,
And slit! Alas! Now the head was inches away from the corpse.

He took the key and opened the door,
And rushed inside to where the princess sat,
And they kissed and they hugged and they smiled and they laughed,
What is your name, he asked the girl.
Dragon, she replied, pointing to her skin,
That was harder than any metal he’d ever seen,
And she turned around, and the prince’s eyes,
Shone and gleamed, oh what a scene,
Her wings so white, like a dove, only prettier,
He took her in her arms, and asked if she would marry him.

Yes, said the princess, but only if,
You take me to a land faraway,
Where the grass is green, and people smile,
Where the sun shines with all its might,
A lady sits there weeping for me.
Yes, said the prince, does she have brown eyes like you do too?
The girl said No, but She has wings.

Read the final part on She Had Wings – 3.