Forgiveness

They say that when we are about to die, our whole life flashes before our eyes. False. Certainly not for me. For me once again, it is January 1985. The fog of memory has cleared. I am standing there, with him. His hands are behind his head, he is on his knees. Eyes closed. He has already accepted what is to come. I consider briefly, walking away. I remember my promise to him, and I raise my revolver. Then, the shots ring out. Bam! Bam! Bam! He is dead.
I woke with a start, coughing. There are concerned faces looking around at me. This is my large and loving family. Worry lines are writ large on my sons’ faces. “Same dream?” a voice asks me, placing a soft hand on my shoulder. My heart beat calms down. Yet as I acknowledge the presence of my family and reassure them I am going to be alright… I sense his presence. Why is he here? I wonder… Will I ever be free from him? For forty years since that day, I have been haunted by that memory. By his twisted smile. By his calm eyes. His question that I still don’t have the answer to. Did I lose faith in myself, or the system?
As my eyelids begin to droop, I am thankful that I don’t need to look for that answer anymore. I hear gasps around me, and flatlining. It must be me. He holds his arms out wide. As he embraces me, I think that if I could feel… I would have surely broken down. This man, the bane of my existence, the ghost of my past has now become my saviour. He has freed me. As I am walking with him, a sweet fragrance envelops us and I feel a lightness of being… like never before.

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When the veneer falls…

So many winters
We have endured
But we must go now.
We have worn our welcome.
Time to go! Shush! Look!
Those wooden faces contort
In delight
Free to express themselves
At last.
Their true natures revealed
It sickens us.
We must flee their wrath
Or become their prey.
Your cold hearts,
No prayer will melt
Nor words can move.
Your cheeks of porcelain,
Don’t crack when tears are shed.
Too long it’s been this way
But remember this
We only place lilies upon the dead.

The Unusual Man

Yesterday afternoon, I had a strange dream as I had fallen asleep in the recliner to the soothing ever present whirring of the fan above my head.

I dreamed of a man. Now I know, that is not unusual. But this man, he was unusual. He had straight hair that swept his collarbones slightly. He was bare-chested and wore a necklace of bones. He wore a glinting band around his forehead, indicative of his status in the societal hierarchy of his people. He was attired in a flowy garment made of animal skin. On his chest were painted strange symbols in red dye (or what I am hoping was red dye) and I was there. I stood there behind a tree, not hidden from view. I was looking at him. His eyes were resolutely fixed on the path before him, the one that led to the tree where there lay a sheathed blade. It had an ornate hilt. It was sheathed in a roughly hewn bamboo case. His eyes fixed on mine, and I felt the forest come alive around us. The birds burst into song, the colours at once seemed sharper and I was conscious of a warmth pooling in my extremities. His face showed no change in expression as he continued taking measured steps towards me. I see the burning in his eyes. I see the icy gleam of the blade in the slanting evening sunshine.

Just as we took steps towards each other, my phone rang loudly and jolted me out of this dream that left me feeling very disoriented indeed. For it did not feel like a dream, but rather like memories resurfacing, of a past long tucked away carefully.

Girl Crush of the Day

I wish I could tell you that she was one of the most charming or beautiful or intelligent in all the land, but I’d be doing her and myself, a disservice by painting her so. She is not the most anything, but I think the people in her life will agree when I say she is pretty damn special the way she is. She prides herself on a more than healthy sense of curiosity, this colours her world view and she is frequently open to new possibilities, going in with a trusting heart and a more often than not skeptical mind that wants to believe. She has a keen mind, one that is always open to learning but will not accept anything without questioning it first. She loves the energy of certain places and people, and thrives off of it. She has tight circles, woven mutually exclusively. For them, she will do anything. Her approach to comforting a friend is more along the lines of problem solving than offering empty platitudes. She has no use for meaningless words in her dictionary, or her life. She gives her heart easily, but not her trust. Nor her respect. No, you have to earn them. But once you have earned your place in her life, she will seldom let go of you. She will stick with you when nobody else will. She will stick with you when you give up on yourself. She will infuse you with hope and practical wisdom. She will care for you. She will leave her mark on your life.

She wants to do many great and amazing things. She wants to learn archery, shooting, swimming, multiple languages, chess, write, travel and never pin herself down to a life she would have to settle for. She will however willingly put down roots when it is time, and support the dreams and aspirations of her life partner, as long as they can soar together.

She hasn’t been without setbacks. No. She has been handed her fair share of bouquets and brickbats by Life. She is attempting to take them all in stride, and treat them just the same. For now though, she just does her best to look at situations with humour or in a more philosophical light, as a moment to learn from or wonder about the cause and effect nature of a particular incident in her life, and how the ripple effect spills over to other things in her life.

Another thing you need to know about her but you will never know for she won’t flaunt it, is her spiritual beliefs and the values she holds dear to herself. She does not believe in public proclamations of faith.

She is incredibly perceptive and accepting of the duality of mankind. She identifies more with the anti-heroes than the classic heroes and heroines because she too has known the struggle. She grapples with her dark side too. She sees readily and is willing to grant to people a second chance, or even a third or fourth as long as she believes in them. She will see the good in Malfoy, as she will see the callousness of Dumbledore. Oh, and did I mention that she is a huge Potterhead?

She calls herself a writer type, she would like to write some material that challenges perceptions, and informs formative minds. She is deeply interested in people, not merely as individuals but as ideas and who they are as a product of their cumulative life experiences. It is these layers that she peels back and watches in wonder. But mind you, she will tire of you or get bored if you don’t have too many layers to you. Or if she has you figured out.

You wouldn’t know it from seeing her but she is strong and fairly agile, she has a decade or more of martial arts training. She has trained in music, though not formally. She is not a morning person but when she wakes up with a smile on her face, you can almost be certain that it is accompanied by a tune on her lips. She loves a good mystery or something to ponder upon. To her though, it is human behaviour and relationships that are sort of the ultimate puzzle. She constantly seeks to better her understanding of the two. Not only this, she is tireless in her quest for evolving into a better human being. She does have momentary lapses, for she is also human but for the most part you are requested to remember that she comes with good intentions, which may end up in flawed execution. She may be a Gryffindor but what keeps her up at night is thinking about the times when she could have acted better, said something different or even wondering if she is smart enough, capable enough. To fulfil her dreams. She is. She just has to believe in herself. She can be everything she wants to be, and more as long as she doesn’t allow herself to be crushed under the weight of the expectations of family and society. She has a streak of fierce independence and rebellion; easily distractible but few can match her single mindedness when she sets her mind to something, but seldom does something retain her fancy for long enough for her to form feasible goals around it, and then prepare a plan to “go in for the kill”, so as to speak. Speaking of which, she loves metaphors and analogies, she is unabashedly wordy. She forms really long sentences, often meandering ones; each connected to a particular (related) train of thought but more often than not, they present contradictions within themselves. Much like her.

She is a bundle of contradictions most of the time. This contrarian nature of hers mostly manifests itself in an internal struggle for self expression and what is appropriate. No, she doesn’t care about what is deemed appropriate but she would rather not hurt your feelings if she has the slightest iota of care about you. Many a time, she will laugh it off or wipe the streaking tears from her eyes as they settle on her pillow, while she is unable to sleep because of something she said to you. But she would rather process her emotions by talking it through, always even if it doesn’t always come easily to her. Perhaps with the person involved or a neutral perspective from a friend which she doesn’t realise is not always the best thing to do because a friend is only getting one side of the story and she… She is big on justice and fairness. She will root for the little guy. But she is no bleeding idealist. Indeed, some may see her as a dreamer but she is far more pragmatic than she gets credit for. Except when she is in love. In love, she is giddy and excited. She is scared and doesn’t know how to process what she is feeling. She feels deeply. She trusts easily but fears just as easily too. In love, she is anxious yet confident. She wants to be adored and desired, both at once. She wants to have the charm of the girl next door, while exuding the sex appeal of a showgirl. She is a bit of an emotional exhibitionist when she is with the right person. There will be no lies, nor secrets.

She is fond of finding herself in others, parallels to her own character, she might compare herself one day to a lion, another day to an eagle. She may compare her life to a certain raga or a musical note, or even a particular Shakespearean play. She will try to fit as many labels on her as she can because those labels, according to her neither define her nor limit her. They are just facets of who she is. She is all these and more.

She is the flavour that if you taste once, you can never forget.

The Ceramic Women

“Run, Missus! It is not safe for you here any more” the boy implored. “Nonsense, Jonathan. You have a very active imagination.” She ruffled his hair, noting with a slight smile how he coloured when her fingers grazed his forehead accidentally. “Now get to work” she reminded him firmly, but not unkindly. Several moments passed with the pair working perfectly in unison. “Your Master was married twice before, was he not?” She asked suddenly. The boy nodded. “Do you know how they died? I have heard people talk. I know he can be a bit rough around the edges, but he is not as bad as they think him to be.” She continued. The boy looked surprised, peered at her from between his sandy hair. For a long time, he didn’t say anything. She watched him. He seemed to be shifting from foot to foot, contemplating and struggling with something. “He killed them, Missus! He is a bad man, he deserves to rot in Hell. You shouldn’t be here!” He burst out hotly, wiping his eyes on his sleeve. “Jonathan!” She went after him, shocked at his outburst. She was ready to reprimand him strongly for what he said. She followed him, and found him sniveling while feverishly ruffling around in the Master’s workshop. “What do you think you are doing?” She said sharply, pulling him away. “Wait, please… I want to show you something.” He pulled out miniature ceramic figurines of women, rendered so beautifully. “He made this? They are so life – like. He never told me about his artistic abilities”. She was astonished. Showing her the figurine of the woman in a bath tub, Jonathan said “This was his first wife. God bless her, she was as saintly as they come. She was his cousin. She always had a kind word for everyone.” He paused. ” How did she die? I heard that she died shortly after childbirth.” She inquired. “The Master wanted a boy. She gave birth to a girl child. The Master was displeased. He drowned them both in the tub and threatened me with the same fate if I told anybody. Besides who would ever believe that someone of his stature would do something so heinous?” His voice rang out in that shed. She shuddered slightly. Regardless of whether it was true, it was a horrible story. She was tempted to cut the boy’s pay for the day. What a horrid boy, him and his imagination! Spreading such lies! She crossed her hands, gazed at him levelly betraying none of her thoughts or emotions. “And what about this one? I am presuming this is the second one then?” She asked him as she turned around a figurine slightly more voluptuous than the first one with a sunny smile. This one looked to be in repose. “She was indeed his second wife. The post master’s daughter. We were classmates. She was vivacious and had a lovely, singing voice. I liked her a lot. You could even say, I was a bit sweet on her. And I think she knew. Which is why it came as a shock to me when the Master brought her home as his new bride.” Jonathan looked away, his eyes burning. She reached out and squeezed​ his shoulder. “She was seventeen, and with child when she supposedly fell down the stairs. I had heard them arguing the day before. He was accusing her of infidelity, and she, the same. It was true that she had taken up with a young writer at the lodge down the street and she was planning to run away in order to escape the tyranny of the master. Somehow, the Master found out. A passionate fight ensued between the two of them. She was never one to mince words. When it happened, they were the only two people in the house. Or so I am told.” The words spilled out, as if he had held them in for years. He probably had. She mused. “What makes you think I am not safe anymore?” “I found this when I was cleaning the shed yesterday.” With trembling fingers, he handed over a brown paper bundle tied in string. Puzzled, she unwrapped the bundle, and let the contents fall to the ground with a scream. There lay on the ground, fragments of what was earlier, a perfectly rendered miniature figurine of her.

The Window and the Great White Bird

I looked through the shimmering glass window. I saw her ornate writing desk, half opened like someone had gone through it looking for something. A lot of things I remembered placing there were missing. A few journals, I think. There were a few loose sheafs of paper. I recognised her handwriting. Those were my words, in a different time. The Sun was setting in the distance, I looked to my right side. The bed so perfectly made. Mine. But it wouldn’t be slept in, it had not been. For a long time. Briefly I considered just that. I sat there and soaked in the room. My one and only chance to see it. This wasn’t my time. I had to go back after all.
I closed my eyes. I remembered. She walked around, she seemed restless. She had never been more alone, but she had also never felt more free as she looked at the elephant that seemed to have materialised before her. The elephant didn’t seem afraid of her, she felt calm looking at it. She walked towards it. It sat down, so did she. She stroked it gently. Murmured words of comfort, and also relaying her predicament. How strange, she thought… That a creature she had only encountered a while ago should make her feel so safe, as though everything was going to be just fine. She sat down, her back resting against the elephant and closed her eyes. And waited. I felt the hours pass by. I knew what was coming. Sure enough, there appeared a white bird in the sky, the wings flapping majestically. The bird rose up towards the Sun, as though to devour it. There was a great explosion of light, like a canopy of shimmering fragments of diamonds enveloping the entire forest they were in. She rose, she was free.
She had arrived at the beach. She watched as the waters lapped at her feet gently, an ever present cool breeze playing with her curls, casting them about hither and thither. She opened her arms wide and received all of it, smiling serenely.
It was at once, the most peaceful and the most heartbreaking thing I had ever seen. I wanted to see no more, I opened my eyes. My eyes flooded with joy and envy, I know not if those tears running down my cheeks were mine or hers. It does not matter.

Here I am. Once again. Till the great white bird comes, I bid you all adieu!

Girl Crushes – Guess Who?

A Queen whose machinations shape the fate of a powerful empire. Another, a Princess whose words would change the history of that empire forever. That woman whose grace, prowess, intelligence and beauty made the prospective Emperor bow before her. Yet another, a fierce warrior. A Goddess of unparalleled skill, chosen for the most elite of missions. One woman who is driven by duty and family, the very family that goes on to betray her. Another, driven by love. A Queen she remains, even in captivity. Living without lament for the loss of her love, his life most cruelly snatched away well before his time. The other is driven by duty and sacrifice, inspiring the Saviour to take up arms and thus, changing the trajectory of his destiny forever. Setting in motion, a chain of events that inexplicably intertwined the tales of all three women as they powerfully come together to defeat The Man.