Saturday, May 22, 2010

The transgression

Often into memories the soul does wander,
To reflect, reminisce, learn and ponder,
Fickle beliefs and choices on the loose,
Easy to follow and difficult to choose.
Delusional hearts promise to beat forever as one,
Then misunderstand while speaking the same tongue.
Ignorant minds meet, share thoughts and flourish,
Then selfishly fail to remember and cherish.
Life takes falls in fallacious times,
Unsaid apologies, broken promises add to the crimes.
Guilt is ignored; there is fate to blame,
Rather than face the demons and give in to shame.
The soul still wanders with sadness and regret,
With mistakes it can't undo or forgive and forget.
Silently it laments over the passing of each breath,
Searching for peace before the advent of death.

The passing glimpse

It was indeed strange that I found myself sitting on a stone bench by the side of a road when I came to my senses after what felt like an unintended dose of sleep or a bout of unconsciousness. The mind was momentarily disoriented as I instructed it to gather recent memories. It came up with hazy images that muddled things up a bit more. I gave up and started focusing and my surroundings instead. When I saw the familiar houses and buildings and shops I sighed with overwhelming relief and crossed off “amnesia” and “drugged, kidnapped and dumped in an alley” from my recovering mind. Besides I didn’t think I looked “dumped”. I felt fine and my clothes were in good, almost pristine, condition. The sun was beating down with vengeance but I wasn’t sweating. It was probably because the bench I was sitting on under a gigantic, sprawling banyan tree. My brain was still sifting through memories and it found one that showed myself in the mirror getting ready to head out. So that was how I ended up here, not far from my house and the heat and the seemingly slow moving time of the early afternoon had lulled me to sleep. As if on cue a bus arrived and stopped right in front of me and a couple of men got off it. Automatically I got up and got into the bus, my actions propelled by an indescribable urge to get moving. Since my conscious mind was still meandering in uncertainty, my subconscious had seemed it fit to take over and guide me to my destination.
There weren’t many people in the bus and considering the ungodly tedious hours of the day I could understand why. All the window seats were taken and so I moved to the last row of seats which was currently occupied only by the bus conductor. He was dozing fitfully which struck as slightly odd to me. What if someone got off the bus without paying? Then I saw the helper standing on the footboard of the rear entrance. He had placed a whistle between his lips and was looking out with a bored expression on his face. It wasn’t one of those common sights where young men like him dangled off the footboard. Barely holding onto the poles for support, with the wind hitting their faces and buffeting their hair and clothes wildly. Deciding to pay the helper if ever the conductor failed to wake up before my stop arrived; I settled back in my seat and began gathering my recuperating thoughts. Then the first wave hit me with a shocking force.
It caught me off guard with such intensity that I bolted up from my seat. With nothing to hold on to, I fell back on my seat again but the shock still remained. The wave was not physical, not tangible, not visible. But it might as well have been a solid onslaught of iron blows on my face; such was its effect, its determined presence. It passed as quickly and unpredictably as it had arrived but it left me dazed and wary with a sense of sense of unease and fear settling in like ashes on a burning city. Once I could think steadily I began wondering what it was. I looked around and everything seemed normal enough. The conductor was still dozing fitfully, the young man still stood on the footboard whistling feebly at bus stops. I tried making sense of the event that had occurred, that had taken only for a few seconds. The second wave hit me then, but my wariness had anticipated the uncanny happening this time. As if sensing its inability to catch me off guard the second time the wave rushed towards me with relative slowness and great deliberation. This time the shock came with the realisation of what the wave really was. And this time the wave didn’t recede. A commotion of thoughts, emotions, sounds and feelings that made up this wave had washed over me inexorably. My senses were being drowned and the unwitting culprits behind it were the people in the bus. It dawned on me with sudden and much needed clarity that the feelings, emotions, thoughts and sounds were of the poor unsuspecting souls around me. I’d have laughed with relief if it wasn’t for the simple logical fact that strange things like this never happen in the real world. What was the explanation then? Was I dreaming? Should I pinch myself? Or had I suddenly turned clairvoyant? I quickly dismissed these questioning thoughts as soon as I realised how downright silly they sounded even in my head. I looked around once again, my eyes sweeping over all the people in the bus beginning from the partially obscured driver in the front to the dozing conductor at the back. The effects of the wave still lingered and there was no beginning or end to them. They were in me and around at the same time. They played with my outer senses, tingled every nerve in my body, probed my soul and dared my mind to unravel them. My mind did dare and they all but willingly unravelled. The thoughts and sounds came to me as swirling murmurs and whispers. The feelings and emotions were like shimmering revelations.
I looked at a middle aged man in the first seat of the left row. He prayed for a profit this month. He had worked hard in the garment shop and his third child would be arriving soon in to this world. I sensed his elation, his anxiety, his hopes, and his joy as he thought of his wife and children.
A young woman sat in the first seat of the right hand side row. She wasn't exactly enjoying the bus ride. Maybe she should go to those driving classes like her mother-in-law had suggested. Or take the driving lessons her husband had offered to give. She smiled and blushed at the thought. Six months now. Who would've thought arranged marriages worked out so wonderfully? I felt her disapproval of bus rides, her sweet shyness as she thought of her husband, her prayers thanking God for blessing her with such a nice family. 
A teenaged boy was sitting next to his best friend in the third seat. The best friend, a girl his age, wondered if it was okay to have feelings for her best friend. The boy wondered if telling her he loved her would ruin their friendship. I felt their blossoming love, their loyalties towards each other, their fears, their dreams.
A young man in soiled clothes sat in the last row on my right. He thought of life ahead now with his only sister married off. He had spent almost all of his hard earned money on her wedding. He wished for her happiness. He loved her more than his own life. I felt his loneliness, his pain from the bruised knuckles, sun-burnt skin and blistered feet that he got from working at the construction site all day long. I felt his immense love for his sister, his only family. 
I saw two young men in the third seat on my left. They had both been recruited by a company at the same time. They had known each other only for a few days now. The one next to the window talked animatedly, with sound effects, about a new video game. He hoped he wasn't boring or annoying his new found friend. But no one else bothered listening to his video game stories. His friend actually listened more out of pity than interest. Sure, he talked a lot. But he was a good guy, kind at heart. His narration of the stories amused him more than the stories themselves. Somehow both knew they were going to be best friends for life. Every person in the bus had a story in their lives, a lesson that could be learnt, an experience that would become a part of my soul for an eternity.
A girl sat alone in the only row of seats beyond the front entrance, on the driver's left hand side. She seemed lost in thoughts as she looked out the window. She didn't have to support her family. She was enjoying the bus ride and she preferred it, although she knew how to drive. She thought she was in love once, but now she knew she wasn't since she had learnt there was a lot to take, lots more to give and even more to understand and sacrifice in love. She had had her share of loneliness and pain that was more emotional than physical. She had many friends, but only a few she really loved and cared for. She seemed content with her thoughts for now and I couldn't feel much from her like I did from the others. She turned then, to look at the conductor it seemed, and I saw her face. Thus began the greatest realisation of all.
I saw her and it was like looking at my reflection. She smiled my smile when she saw the conductor dozing. Someone let out a scream and she frowned just like I always did. She turned around to look ahead. The realisation was crashing on me now. I wanted to yell, reach out, do something! But all I could do was stare helplessly as a monstrous truck, a speeding harbinger of destruction filled up the whole front view before I was wrenched out of the fabric of reality. The wave finally receded as I was pulled into an unknown oblivion. And I finally realised in the fullness of that moment that in the slowness of that day, that life, death had come quickly.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The message

When I opened my eyes I realised my entire field of vision was filled by an azure sky dotted with almost comical looking white and grey clouds drifting lazily from one end of the field to the other. I was lying on something soft and wonderful and I was comfortable enough to believe that this must be a dream. Such a sense of bliss can never be perceived in reality. I lay there for a long time gazing at the clouds, feeling the cool breeze against my skin. It felt so wonderful; I wanted it all to be real. The breeze felt real enough, so did the sweet smell of grass and the wet earth that washed over me and surrounded me like an exquisite silk blanket. Yet I continued looking straight ahead at the gorgeous blue sky. As time passed, the soft sapphire of the sky began to pale and the ever drifting clouds started acquiring an orange tinge on one side. West, I thought, that side is west. The sun was setting. The blue wasn’t only paling but changing to orange as well. The scent of earth around me became heady and inviting and I finally gave in to my urge to get up and look around. I did so slowly, afraid that any sudden movement would shatter the perfect setting and wrench me away from what I had decided was my wilful delusion. I wanted it to last as long as possible. I wish it could last forever; that this was the predestined reality and the world where I had fallen asleep had just been an elaborate dream.
As I looked around the sight that greeted me was an apt representation of all the smells I was breathing in. All around me, at a short distance away were gently swaying trees, their wet leaves dancing gleefully on the branches and sparkling like a million rubies in the dying sun. A stream gurgled nearby but I couldn’t see it since I was sitting in the midst of tall yellowing grass. With every gentle gust of breeze the grass swayed wildly and the tips teased through my hair and tickled my face. I heard faint chirping of crickets and saw a couple of them to hopping and balancing themselves impossibly over the thin blades of the grass. I listened intently to the happy gurgling of the invisible stream trying to ascertain its location and I was suddenly thirsty. I welcomed the feeling since it convinced me some more that I wasn’t dreaming. As I rose slowly to my feet I looked around searching for the stream and I realised that I was in a glade of some sort, with tall yellow grass dominating almost all of the area. The stream was nowhere to be seen but the incessant and inviting sound of flowing water elevated my thirst and urged me to move. I took a couple of steps in the general direction of the sound, my eyes still searching and they caught a sudden movement a few meters ahead slightly to my left.
I stopped and looked harder but whatever had caused the movement was gone. Instead I noticed that the grass ended abruptly to give way to a narrow trail that snaked its way through the grass and disappeared behind the line of trees that marked the boundary of the glade. I began walking again intent on finding the place where the trail began so I could follow it out of the glade. It was hard making my way through the tall grass. My thirst was rising steadily and I wished I could find the trail soon. With every step the sound of flowing stream increased and so did the hope of quenching my thirst. I was still wading through the sea of grass when I heard someone calling my name. The voice was very faint, almost a whisper, but it cut through the wind so cleanly that I wondered if it was all in my head. After all a significant part of my mind insisted that this was all a dream. I looked around turning my head this way and that wildly. I resumed walking, now with renewed determination. The mounting mystery of this place and the sounds and sights were driving me to inexplicable frustration and the only to tackle it was by dousing myself in physical activity.
I was gathering speed now but before I could take any satisfaction from that fact I slipped on a wet patch of mud and fell face-first into the grass. There was a splash and that was when I realised I had finally found the stream. Luckily I had stuck my arms out in front of me as I fell. Now my arms were all wet and muddy. Great. Resisting an urge to curse loudly I pushed myself up with my hands on the ground. My hands slipped and I fell again, this time on my back. I gave up then, sighed and just sat there breathing hard. I wanted to make rude hand signs. Really. But then I realised that gesticulating wildly with my muddy hands would only send flecks of mud flying on my face and clothes. Instead I got on my knees and moved towards the stream. I began washing my hands in the cool, crystal clear water. I let the muddy water flow and was about to dip my hands again to drink from the stream when I saw the reflection of a hand right next to that of my head. I gulped, turned and looked up slowly at the hand and then its owner.
He stood there, with his hand held out, the wind teasing through his hair that glistened coppery brown in the light of the dusk. I could barely see his face but I didn’t need to. Somehow I just knew he was the most beautiful person in the world. The beauty surpassed the mere physical visage. He was a good and kind human being and he cared for me deeply and I just knew these things. I felt them and their truth rang through my existence. He smiled at me then and although I couldn’t see his face, I felt his smile, the warmth and the genuineness that came along with it. Here, let me help you, he said and again it was that faint voice. Yet, the words were clear. They sounded deep within my mind and yet it felt like they surrounding me from the outside. The voice itself was magically sweet, warm and reassuring. I slipped my wet hand into his outstretched one. He barely applied strength but I lifted up as if I were made of feather. Once I was on my feet I felt the wet mud rise up between my toes. I looked down and found that he was barefoot too. I looked at his face again. I still couldn’t see it but it didn’t bother me. I knew all about it and I was content with just staring at it.
I’ll find you a way home, he said and the words sounded like they had been made up by the wind that was gently blowing all around us. Still holding my hand he stood beside me and took a step forward. I did too and we began walking along the bank of the stream. I continued looking at him like my life depended on it. He was looking straight ahead and after a few moments I felt his smile again. You are not thirsty anymore, he said. It wasn’t a question, it was a statement. I felt I should say something but I suddenly realised that I was indeed not thirsty anymore. I didn’t bother myself with trivial questions like ‘how did he know about my thirst?’ or that it had disappeared. I couldn’t care less. He was with me and nothing else mattered. We walked a little more and soon came to the trail hidden between the grasses. We were moving away from the trees, deeper into the glade, with the sun breathing its last for the day behind us. By this time I realised I should probably stop staring at him like a dazzled damsel. I concentrated instead on the trail twisting and turning in front of us. He spoke again and this time his voice seeped into every fibre of my being and reflected on every living creature around us.
In this land of mystery and all possibilities we will depart, maybe never to meet again. The fortune of our paths crossing is immense and rare and you must not entertain disappointment in the event of our separation. I will meet you again, but in another land, much far from this one, with as much mystery and fewer possibilities. You will not see me there the way you see me now. However you may feel all that you are feeling right now and, unlike in this land, in the other one that feeling will come with lots of lessons, experiences and cherishable memories. I cannot tell how long it will take you to find me. It is neither in my hands nor in yours to preordain the duration. But know this, my dearest. The one person who will capture your heart, stay in it, share your life, sorrows, joys, thoughts and promise you unconditional care and support without saying any words, in that person’s heart you will find me and in his face you will see your world.
With those final words he turned to face me and I felt his yearning to find me again in that distant land he had spoken of. Then, as if to finally reveal his identity he began turning towards the fading light of the sun. That was when I woke up.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The contest IV

Hey bloggers,
The April Contest is here! Post your best post to The Blog Contest.