Wednesday, August 24, 2016

ALTAR EGO

His head was splitting. It seemed like every nerve was revolting, ready to explode any minute. His heart had lost its mirth long ago, but today it seems to have given up its spirit. His purpose in doubt; his existence questioned. He felt pain no more. He had had enough of it. Numbness had engulfed his veins. He felt like a slaughter sacrifice waiting his turn at the altar. Only a little too desperately. He looked at his friend who was sitting right in front of him. What has life done to us, he thought?

We were so happy, vivacious, lived life by the minute and enjoyed every second of it. We felt invincible. We fought in the mud, got drenched in the rain, sang out of tune, danced like nobody was watching, screamed at the top of our lungs. We sat for hours staring at nothing, talked for hours about nothing. We went on a long drive to nowhere, ate and drank everything we could get our hands on, fished in the pond for hours only to get a shoe for a prized catch, fished for a few more hours in search of its pair without luck, roamed the streets in the night with carefree abandon, spent the very last ounce of energy in our bodies and came back to crash into our beds as if never to wake up again. And then we woke up the next day fresh and ready for another adventure.

And so life rolled on amidst chaos, excitement, fervor and charm. Day after day went by chasing nothing and enjoying everything. I wish I had never woken up after one of those days. But I did. And here I am. A changed man. A deflated man. A lost man. A man no more.

His thoughts brought him back to reality. He looked at his friend again who smiled casually. There was the same innocence and zeal that he had seen years ago. How could that be possible? When did we part ways? How does he not have any of life’s scars? Why has God been so kind to him? Or maybe was he too cruel to me? Is he even there? His blood started boiling even more. His friend still had his smile as he looked at him with even eyes. That made him even more livid.

“What is it that makes you so happy? Seeing me like this. Helpless, hapless and hopeless. Seems like life has been very kind to you my friend. If you had been me, then probably you wouldn’t even be here. Do you know how much I have endured? Do you know how it feels when your wing is ripped apart? Feather by feather. Do you know what it does to your self-esteem? Have you felt scrutiny? Have you experienced love? Do you know how it feels to yearn for affection and not receive any? Have you experienced failure? Do you know how it is to fail in the eyes of your friends? Your family? Your foes? And the coup de grace! Do you how excruciating it is to finally fail in your own eyes? The final fall!  

Have you ever thought how would after life be? Would it be more peaceful? It certainly sounds more mysterious. Do heaven and hell exist? Wonder where I would go. Will I be transported through space to get there? It would be cool to see some planets on the way. And be it hell or heaven that I reach, I probably will be better off than I am now. I wouldn’t have to work consistently to satisfy others. I won’t be judged. I would already have been judged. I can be myself. I won’t be a disappointment to the people I know as they won’t be there. Well at least I hope so.

Yes, I have considered death. I have no shame in admitting it. You may think I am a coward. Well heck, maybe I am. Isn’t it easier to just press the shutdown button? We can restart in a new life if there is something like that or be lost into obscurity. Isn’t that an interesting prospect? To myself and to the people who are tired of me? May be. But I can’t muster courage for that either. Will someone miss me? Am I disappointing them again? For one last time. Do I owe them to live? Do I owe myself a death? I can’t seem to decide. Like every other decision, I put this one off too.

Why don’t you say something? Are you deaf? That would be so cool actually. But I know you can hear me. The smirk on your lips tells me you are enjoying this. You think you are safe inside that mirror. You think it is cool to see me make a fool of myself in front of you. In front you, of all people? While you stand there majestically reminding me again and again of my glorified past!  

He looked at the man in front of him who was so calm and composed, so carefree and happy, so blissful and na├»ve, so simple and kind, so full of life and love. This was a man he once knew. This was a man he once loved. This was a man he once was. He wondered how long it had been since he left him inside the mirror. He couldn’t remember. That was the man he still wanted to be. Everyday! Or even just for one day! A wry smile came to his lips. He laughed it up. Life indeed does strange things to you.







Tuesday, August 2, 2016

FIRE AND SMOKE


Death, I believe is the ultimate mystery. Life is known, at least for the most part. Death is not, again for the most part. Probably we can feel every other emotion that is out there to be felt. But death lurks in the dark. It is just around the corner all our lives, but we don’t live to see it. Yet it embraces each and every one of us eventually. When it decides to, depends on our luck or the lack of it. But even though we mostly don’t see our death coming or prefer not to think about it, we experience death more than we realize. What we understand from it will differ and will shape our eventual tryst with it.

As I sit there watching you sleep as peacefully as ever, I feel numb. I have lost a sense of time or place. I know I am going somewhere but I don’t feel myself moving. I don’t feel the sun scorching my skin. I have lost every other sense but sight. I see you in front of me, sleeping with a gentle smile across your lips just like any other day. But something is different. Today is not every other day. Although I want it to be more than ever. I don’t recognize the streets I have driven by for the last 35 years. I don’t realize how much time we were there together in that van, seeing each other like it was the first time we set eyes on each other. I don’t remember our first encounter. And you wouldn’t remember our last.

I have never seen you cry. You have never seen me cry. Not for long I guess. I see my entire childhood flash in front of my eyes and the only thing that is constant in every frame is you. I sit there in vacuum as a single tear is resisting gravity in a last ditch attempt to prevent my defeat. All through my life, you have let me win every game we have played. I guess it is about time I lost. The tear agrees.

The lone tear slowly makes its way down my cheek as I sit there still in disbelief. There is a storm of despair stirring inside me as I try hard and resist every single tear it produces. Don’t they say one should cry his heart out? I don’t want to. Every tear is a memory. Your memory. I want to keep it inside me forever. This storm is never going to die. The tears are never going to stop. But I know I will never let you go.

The van stops. I see people around me. Nothing registers. They take you away from me momentarily. I hear voices in my head. I meander in a trance as I find you on a wooden bed. You seem comfortable. I am told to say and do things. I comply mechanically. The thought that I might not see your face again makes its way into my head for the first time. I shudder. I close my eyes. I see your face. It doesn’t exactly look like how you are now. It is not the very first one that I remember as a child either. It is a unique mixture of your face that I grew up watching and adoring all these years. It is your face just for me. I fear no more.

Several years ago, I lost something. My loss was painful, at first. I then got used to it pretty soon. I could never forget it, but I learnt to live with it. Or rather without it. But it took me several years to realize what that did to you. I have always known you to be such a tough guy that I didn’t imagine the extent my loss would affect you. You never told me. But one day I saw it in your eyes. I saw a different man. A man whom you managed to hide well from me. A man more endearing than you already were.  

 Fire and smoke engulf me. Your thought alone consumes me. I come back the next day. You are still there. Well, in pieces. They say you burned all night. I am asked to collect your bones. I want to keep one. I am told not to. Well, I don’t have to worry as you are in my bones. I put your remains in a copper pot and bathe you in milk. I am supposed to give you to Mother Nature. I am not ready to let you go. I reluctantly go to the sea and am about to open the pot when all of a sudden a giant wave comes roaring as she grabs you away from me in a flash. I stand there transfixed having lost your last physical remains. Looks like nature was so eager to have you amidst her. I am sure you will love her company. But I hope you will miss me occasionally and step out from wherever you are to see what I am up to. I will look out for you.  

I come back home. I look into the mirror. I see you. I reminisce of all that has transpired. It was a strange day. You wore my shirt. I wore your dhoti. I burned with you. And you will live with me. Forever!






































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