Return – Chapter 4

As I walked back, I pondered on how she would feel if she knew of this. She had always been patient when it came to listening to stories about Shaena. She was beautiful. We were beautiful. Irtiqa. When we first met, we had talked for a couple of hours before we exchanged our names, and by then it had been too late for us to back out. How everything went after that, and what it led to, only we knew. Irtiqa, she said, meant progression. She had kept the entire thing afloat, and somehow I had felt it was her who I owed so much in my life. But life is a strange affair, and we were meant to not be. If she were here today, she would probably have walked with me, discussed if it were right, whatever I was doing, and maybe even encourage me a little, boost up my confidence, that pretty smile that changed everything, those instantaneous hugs and pats on the head… it had been a good time together.

I sat in the drawing room, waiting for Shaena to come downstairs. On the opposite wall, there was a poster, which reminded me of a stanza which she had read out to me ages ago.

“For when the sky is dark,
The rains will come,
And when the rains do come,
The dust will wash off,
And when the dust washes off,
New dust will settle,
Until the sky turns dark again.”

It seemed so true and so clearly untrue at the same time. Indeed life was a circle. Not one big one, but many small circles. You kept going round and round unless you found the way out. For me, I still hadn’t discovered the way, and was engulfed in it, round and round and round. I looked up at the ceiling, the fan moving persistently, in slow circles, never tiring. I wondered what would happen if the fan rotated counter clockwise instead of clockwise, and whether it would just break out of the ceiling and fall on my head if I were to close my eyes. I kept my eyes open. Irtiqa kept interrupting my thoughts. I thought of the day when I had finally decided I would ask her out, and then the tumultuous events that led to me deciding for once and all, that it was never meant to be. Once a while I looked up the stairs to see if she was coming down.

After half an hour she did. She looked mesmerizing. It would have been wrong to say she looked just pretty, or gorgeous. She looked different. Different from how she looked yesterday, when we met for the first time in years. Of course, she didn’t realize she was talking to me then. She had drank more than she was capable of. We had talked as if we were strangers, until Saeeka turned up. Things changed, and I instantaneously left that place. But how she talked today didn’t really suggest she had any idea of what happened yesterday. And maybe that was for the good, because it would have been the worst possible reunion I could have imagined if it were to happen that way. But things happen, they just, happen. They are not always under your control. Two years back, when Irtiqa and I first kissed (and it was the last time too), it just happened. We never talked about it again, pretending as if it never happened. Could it be Shaena was pretending too? Whatever it was, I decided to let it be as it was. She came down the stairs. “Let’s go?” she asked. “Yes,” I replied, and we walked out.

On our way, she chattered consistently. It felt nice to listen to her, after such a long time. The wind blew through her hair, so she took it up all in a bun, but then she saw the dismayed face that I had involuntarily and unintentionally made, and she left it open again. It was only after she smiled that I realized my face was crooked. “Have you read A Song of Ice and Fire?” she asked. “Oh yes, it is one of my favorite series,” I replied. It had been fifteen minutes since the last time I spoke, and so I had to grab this opportunity. But she didn’t let me. Instead, she prattled about her friends, college, life, thoughts, plans, wishes, memories and what not. Even so, it felt good. The winter wind on my face, the damp sun after the rain, and the snowy streets, all reminded me of times long gone by. We crossed a pond, where in the summer you would spot lots of fishermen trying to grab their lot of fishes for the day. Now, however, it was covered with a sheet of ice. The trees were white too, as if they had white leaves. The aroma of Christmas floated. It was less than a fortnight away. “I have a friend, her name is Irtiqa,” I said. “Oh, nice name,” she said, before continuing with whatever she was talking about. It was five minutes later that she realized I wanted to tell her something, and then she finally stopped talking. It was my turn.

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#12 – The Howl of the Wolf

The Things sat around the Fire, shouting, screaming, singing and drinking. They prayed to their gods. New Things would be joining them today, and they would arise from the Fire they prayed to. They had been praying for hours and days together now, but neither had the Wolf howled nor had the Fire given them their presents. They feasted on meat of the horses they rode, now that they could fly, who would need the horses? And they kept praying.

From the fire, rose the bodies of the new Things. They were happy. They knew that the Things were not the only kind of creatures on this world, but whatever other creatures existed, they would slowly all turn into Things. The Fire would do that, as it had been doing all these years. The wolf howled. A boy emerged from the fire. He had a wound on the left, where they knew the fabled humans had their hearts. Now it was theirs. “Tell us your name,” they demanded.

“I am of this world a Thing, and will remain so forever. This thing’s name is Brad.”

A smile gleamed over their faces. “And tell me, Brad, what do you remember of your previous life?”

“Nothing. I am of this world a Thing, and will remain so forever.”

In the next one hour hundreds of such came, increasing their strength manifold. The Things smiled at all, sharing their beer and bread with every one of them, until they all decided it was time to put off the Fire. Once the fire was out, they flew. To the humans. They flew.

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Forget what happened that one night and I promise you it will never happen again.
Smile at me when you see me next time and I promise you will never frown again.
Walk with me for five minutes and I promise you I will walk alone forever after that.
Become my tears and I promise you I will never cry again.

For Those Who Care

I will smile, and be happy again,
Blossom like the flower of spring,
And cuddle myself against the warmth of sunlight,
And hide under a bird’s wing.
I will tell you what I think is wrong,
Why birds should go to school,
Why men should fly, why elephants should smile,
When the gods should rule.
None of it is what you think I am,
I am but a lonely wretched affair,
But I’ll change myself, change for the good,
Change for those who care.

Pecks on my Shirt

I kept sitting there, wondering what to do,
Whilst you came and took a seat beside me,
I kept quiet then, wondering what to say,
Whilst you smiled and talked to me,
And how naturally and gently it came,
Two pecks on the left sleeve of my shirt,
That I didn’t even care to think of it,
Now that I do, I feel I should have.

The slightest of perfume behind your ears,
The life of a wren, silent but long,
The smile on your face, wry but persistent,
And the tears which I’d wish were mine,
I wish I could love you, a dream impossible,
But aren’t most of them like that?
You know how I feel, and you’ve kept it that way,
That I’d move forever like a pawn in the game,
Though I wished I could have walked liked the queen,
Now that I miss you, a lot more than before,
I’d think you do too, had you said that to me,
It’s an incomplete way to finish what I wanted to say,
But my life’s incomplete too, so it would do.

Bring Out That Smile

For you, who I long to see smiling genuinely

You say you’re done, when it has only started,
Your life, your dreams, your wishes, everything,
You say it’s over, when it didn’t even start,
Your happiness, your cheer, your smile, your fear.
Life is not made of a night,
Which you’d spend and regret tomorrow,
It’s made of a summer, a summer of joy,
Which comes again after a winter of pain.
You say you’re happy, and your eyes do show,
How happily you live each moment of your life,
How you wish to cry and then keep dumb,
Your tears, which dry out in the heat of the night.
It’s he about who you talk each moment,
I silently listen, trying to stop you from doing it,
You yourself, still a mystery to me,
For that light is wiped out even before it’s lit.
I know I am no one, no one will I remain,
I am happy this way, because I don’t expect,
The only thing I’d wish if I wished,
Is that you bring out that smile on your face,
Give yourself a chance you’ve never given,
Try to live it how it should be lived,
For a rotten apple can rot the whole tree,
Unless it is plucked and set free.

To Myself

Winds have come and they have gone,
Taken with them dust to her land,
And they have worked hard to break,
Each of my dreams, the castles of sand.
Yet I have decided to forget the past,
Bury everything and move ahead,
And the strength that this has given me,
Has increased and rendered my past dead.
I wish that when one fine morning,
I look back and see what I did in the past,
Things that I have done do make me smile,
And its happiness would with me last.
I wish I could say proudly to myself,
That as long as I lived it was without you,
And even as I die a smile lingered,
On my face, and on your face too.
They speak of shedding tears in happiness,
I’d speak of smiling when in grief,
You’d think of the times we shared a smile,
A time that was happy, albeit brief.
Today when I speak I am still happy,
And when you’d read this I’d be happy still,
Smile to yourself as I tell you this,
The space you left in me, no one can fill.