An Afternoon In The Forest

They stood at the edge of the forest.

“Come on!” He urged and ran up the winding path.

She hesitated. Then, she followed.

 

Her first step fell on the dew-kissed grass

Her second, on a mound of soft earth

Her feet sunk in, tickled by her senses.

She spread her hands out, looked around with wide eyes

Rough bark grazed her fingertips and drew a giggle

From her lips

 

He heard the giggle and turned around

Five feet ahead of her, yet, thousand of miles between them

Somehow, today, he felt a little closer.

 

He grabbed her hand.

“Come on!” he urged again

He pulled her along to his secret place.

 

“Here!” he says, 5 minutes later.

 

The smell of damp earth wafted in the air

Tickled her nose, caressed her senses

Slowly she followed the sound of his impatient voice.

 

Her first step fell on a patch of wet ground,

Her second step fell on something…

Something cold and something solid,

Something cold and something liquid,

Something cold and strong, also,

Something cold and something gentle,

She gasped and pulled her step back.

As her feet sank in the soggy earth

As her hair was lifted by the humid breeze

An unnoticed tear rolled down her flushed cheek.

 

“Why’d you stop? Come on!” his voice jolted her up

And stopped her tears.

She took that second step again,

And a third, and a fourth

A wondrous smile lit up her face.

 

“This is my lake” his proud voice came to her ears

And made her laugh.

“Why is it yours?” she asked.

“Because only I know about it” all of his 10 year old pride

Stuffed into that single sentence

“And now you,” he graciously granted.

 

Splash! Splash! Splash!

And her hand was taken up in his.

“It’s cold, isn’t it?” he asked

Tears flowed out of her empty eyes

And dampened the blank canvas that

Life had given her…

“It’s beautiful,” she laughed.

 

A winding path, a canopy of trees

A cacophony of birds, a feeling of peace

It’s the story of an afternoon in the forest

Spent by a blind girl and her dear friend.

 

*END*

 

 

 

 

 

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No Time To Say Goodbye

Why do people have to die?

Sickness, I can understand; your body giving up cell by cell…

It gives me time to understand.

But, why an accident?

Why do people have to die in accidents?

And leave behind these gaping person-sized hole that can never be filled?

No matter what we do!

 

I had no time

To say I love you that morning

To remind you that I might fight you

I might argue with you

I might even do things you don’t like

But, I still need you

 

I had no time

To say sorry that morning

For those nights you lost sleep over me

For those days you kept thinking of me

For all those years I made you worry,

I even made you cry…

I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’m sorry!

Come back to me!

 

I had no time

To let you kiss me that morning

Like you always do before leaving

Is that why you left?

Is that why you didn’t come back?

Is it my fault?

 

I had no time

To say everything I wanted to say

To share everything I wanted to share

To show everything I wanted to show

I wanted to take you places

I wanted to hear you talk, your laugh, so much more

I wanted so many things…I had planned for so many things…

 

I had no time

To say goodbye…

 

 

We meet up now, with family, with friends

An invisible presence hovers by my side- your absence

The person-sized hole you left behind

And I carry around…

If she was here, she would’ve enjoyed this so much

If she’d been here, she’d have supported me on this

If she would be here, she would’ve ordered this…

Said this…

Laughed at this…

 

I stopped going anywhere

 

Do you see the gaping hole you left behind?

What do I do?

How do I fill it?

People say give it time…

But, you didn’t give me any

So, how do I trust time anymore?

 

They say you’re gone

But, you’re everywhere!

I hear your voice in my head

I see your footsteps in the house

I feel your presence so much around me, that

I spent an entire night searching for you

Before they guided me back to bed

And said you were no more

 

 

My tears have dried up now

But, my heart still feels heavy

I’ve stopped searching for you in the house

Because I’ve stopped going to the house

My life has been torn up into a before and after

And I have no idea what to do in this after

 

Because in that before I left behind,

You were there

And now, you’re not

 

Tell me, what do I do?

 

*END*

13:27 hrs, Summer Rains

I love summer rains!

I love rain in general. But, summer rains are just the best!

They’re always a surprise. You’re melting your skin off most of the time and suddenly, you wake up one morning and the sun is away on a holiday. You walk to the hospital without shedding a drop of sweat and you congratulate yourself on finishing the ward rounds without your shirt getting too intimate with your skin. An unimaginable feat on any other summer day.

On that day, you greet your patients with a smile, listen to them with a smidgen more of patience; because in between their tales of woe and insanity, you can brighten yourself up with a peep out the window to a glance to the skies above. They are laden and grey and they spell an evening of delicious rain and a tomorrow of gorgeous humidity.

Now, I hate humidity as much as the next person, but that’s tomorrow! Today I get to spend my free time taking long walks on short roads, sipping water while hanging out in the corridor because there’s no power in the hostel and of course, anticipating the downpour that never comes.

But, if it does- oh the joy! I can dance in the rain, I can jump in the puddles, I can sing loudly because the rest of the world doesn’t encourage getting drenched in the rain and of course, I can take pictures of dripping leaves and call it art of photography.

So, summer rains are the best. They take me out of the gloom of dehydration and desiccation and give me a glimpse of tomorrow. They remind that everything, however unbearable it might be now, shall come to pass. They also show me how even in the most difficult of times, there’s a respite, a chance to recharge, an opportunity to re-energize yourself that will arise; how, out of hot shit, something of such beauty can take birth.

Summer rains give me hope. They give me glimpse of a better tomorrow so that even when the sun is overhead and attempting to peel my skin off, I can smile to myself and think: let the clouds come; one day, the clouds will come.

Here’s to everyone in the tropics. May you survive your summers and party all winter.

Cheers!

Girl Hallucinating

She stands by the road

Another of the faceless crowd

Standing out with her thin frame and bow legs

And the fact that she’s having an entire conversation by herself

She gestures avidly, she points with precision

She smiles at the nobody beside her and glances slyly at the emptiness behind her

She makes accusations, she hurls abuses

Nobody hears her from behind their glassed windows and AC-ed interiors

They wheel their vehicles around her, pretend to not notice her

Passers-by walk past her, glancing at her out the corners of their eyes

But refusing to meet her eye

They’re afraid when she stands in the way of an oncoming car and points an accusing finger at its driver

They’re embarrassed when she hovers around a group of youngsters like she wants to join in their conversation

They pretend she doesn’t exist

They prefer she not exist

I watch her from behind my blackened window

Comfortable in my higher place and confirmed sanity

Comfortable with the unreachable distance and anonymity between us

I think what a beautiful case, what a beautiful display of hallucinations; she would give me a beautiful MSE

(Mental Status Examination; for those not in the know, I’m a budding psychiatrist)

I watch like I would watch a lion in its cage, restrained by the bars, but unaware of our presence

Unaware that it’s putting up a show and we’re watching

Unaware that we’re enjoying, that we’re judging, that we’ve reduced it’s sentient worth for our convenience

I’ve to remind myself that she’s a person behind her unhinged mutterings and misplaced sanity

That feelings and emotions still exist for her, even if she’s not cognisant of them at the moment

But, that’s too hard

That’s too sad

That brings about questions like who is she? Whose is she? Is she being missed by anyone? Does she have anyone?

No, it’s too hard

It’s too difficult

What a beautiful case…what a beautiful display of hallucinatory behaviour…she would give me a beautiful MSE

(Mental Status Examination, for those in the know now, I’m a budding psychiatrist)

And right now what I’m doing is disassociating…

The person from the case

The feelings from the symptoms

The identity from the patient…

Standing by the road, talking to herself

Laughing to herself

Fighting with herself

What a beautiful presentation…the hallucinatory girl…what a beautiful case she’d be.

*END*

Beautiful Lie

She’s coming tomorrow, I tell him.

He gives me a toothless smile and promises to introduce me to the best woman in his life.

I tell him, I already know her; she’s my mother.

His face crumples into confusion;

No, no, he shakes his head irritably, you’re mixing up people. She’s the love of my life. She’s the best. She’s so pretty that I fell in love with her the first time I saw her; it only took a second.

He smiles blissfully again and pats my hand.

You’ll love her, he whispers, everybody loves her.

Even my mother, he guffaws.

I laugh with him and cover his wrinkled hand with my smooth one.

Though, I can see a wrinkle on mine too; just setting in between the second and third knuckle.

It makes me pause and frown…my thoughts start to wander; how old am I getting? I wonder.

Will I start losing myself too?

I look at him, toothless, wrinkled, eyes once blissful, mostly confused.

He’s hungry, he says and I give him juice- the same one that he’s been drinking since the last one hour.

What is it? He asks. It’s the fifth time.

It’s grape juice, I answer. For the fifth time.

He sips and nods his head. It’s all the same to him now, the nurse tells me with a sympathetic smile.

I smile back. I feel uncomfortable. Am I looking at my future here? The thought comes unbidden into my head. And I feel scared. And guilty.

I take his hand into mine gently, to ease my guilt. He doesn’t notice.

Dad, I call him.

He doesn’t answer.

Dad, I pull on his finger gently.

He looks at me.

I’ve got to get going now, I say softly.

Ah…he nods his head. Did you meet my wife? She hasn’t come yet, he says, wide-eyed and pouty.

She’ll come tomorrow, I assure him. I pat his hand again, place a kiss on the edge of his sparsely haired head and leave the room.

I stop on my way home at the familiar cemetery and stand before the familiar grave.

My routine since 5 years; two hundred and sixty five Sundays of visiting the nursing home.

My routine since 5 days; two hours of visiting the nursing home, then the cemetery on the way back…

I saw him today, mom, I tell the marble. He’s doing fine. Same as always.

He was asking for you, I swallow the lump in my throat. It doesn’t go away.

Did he really fall in love with you at first sight? I squeeze the words past the stubborn ball of pain crushing my vocal cords.

He said that everyone loves you. The tears fall despite my attempts to stop them.

He still remembers you. I smile as I touch the headstone.

He doesn’t remember me, I want to whine, but swallow the words instead.

Two hundred and sixty five Sundays;

On the two hundred and sixty sixth Sunday, I lie to my father.

She’ll come tomorrow, I lie.

He smiles his toothless smile and promises to introduce her to me;

I’m looking forward to it, I lie.

She’s the best. Everybody loves her, he gushes.

I can’t wait to meet her, I lie.

You’ll love her too, he pats my hand and nods brightly at me.

Yes, I’ll love her…in the final minute, I tell the truth and kiss him goodbye.

*END*

Not Mine

You asked me out. You took me on my first date. You said I love you first.

But…

I see them looking at you. I see them frowning at us.

I see you smiling at their jokes. I see you laughing in their company.

I see you care. I see them love. I look at you…

I know you’re not mine.

 

You go on the stage. You sing your song. You say it’s for me.

You declare your love. You serenade my name. You call me up and hold my hand.

But…

I see them looking at us. I see them turning away.

I see their smile dim just a bit, before they cover it up and laugh it away.

I see you notice. I see them hide. I look at you…

I know you’re not mine.

 

We live together. We share our stories. We share our secrets.

You hold me when I’m down. I cheer for you when you’re scared.

I make you breakfast. You pour me the wine. I drown in your kisses;

Long for your touch; dream of your caress.

I sometimes lose myself…I sometimes forget…

 

I laugh out loud while you’re next to me and hold my hand

I cuddle into your warmth when you hug me, when I’m cold

I catch myself thinking of you at work, on the way home

I lose myself in your smile when you open the door and welcome me home.

I lose myself in your smile…

 

Out of the corner of my eye, I see

The shift of your eyes to a different face

A little frown, a tiny flinch

I’m too close to you. I notice everything.

You’re too close to them. You’re their everything.

 

I pull myself back. I push my feelings in. I hug you tight

And I let you go.

The guard is up now. My heart is protected.

I know you know. I know you hurt. I know you love me.

But,

I know you’re not mine.

 

I know you’re trying. I know you’re torn.

I know you smile brighter every time when they frown.

But,

I also know you miss laughing with them.

I know you wish you weren’t so awkward with them.

 

I see you try. I see them cry.

I see the silent glances they send your way. I see you notice. I see you look away.

I see you know…

You know they care. You know they hurt. You see their pain.

I see the extra care you put in their sandwich. The special smile you save for them.

I see the way you hug them impulsively. I see the way you lean in when they talk.

I see you love me. I see them love you.

I see it all and I smile.

My guard is up now. My heart is protected.

Because…

 

I know you’re not mine.

Cherry Blossom

She stood tall and proud. And beautiful. People came from afar to admire her colours, her grace, her beauty. Spring brings forth with it a new feeling and a new batch of tourists. They would stand in her shade and admire her. Some in words, some in song and some just lie there and stare wistfully at her boughs.

Sometimes, new parents would visit her. They would lovingly run a hand down her body and name their baby after her. They would pick up a fallen flower and adorn their baby’s head with it. They would spread out a blanket, open their picnic basket and they would dream new dreams while laughing in her shade.

Sometimes, people would come to click pictures. Pictures with her, her flowers, and pictures in an artistic expression- with the falling petals in the flowing wind…

Everybody loved her. Everybody admired her. They called her the nation’s treasure. And they took care of her well. People were assigned to prune her and keep her pretty. They were assigned to make sure she was watered well and adequately. People to make sure that nobody scratched her bark or cut her branches. She was guarded for her beauty and protected for her splendour. And there were people assigned to sweep up the fallen petals every dawn before sunrise.

She was old and slightly bent. Her spine had been straight and upright once upon a time. But, life had challenged its strength and life had won. A son with a twisted leg and a husband that drinks; a daughter who killed herself and a spirit that’s barely holding on to life… She makes her way every morning to the park and in the park, she makes her way to the tree.

It’s beautiful, they say. It’s our treasure, they say. We should protect it, keep it safe, make sure it lives on forever…they say.

She looks down at the petals dropped by the wind, scattered on the earth. They radiate around the trunk with a nonchalant disregard for the boundaries of space and limitations of time. She looks down at the sweep in her hands and sighs; with a disregard for her.

She curses the tree. She holds it responsible for her bent back and broken spirit. She calls it names for looking so pretty and causing her pain from behind that veil of beauty. Each soft petal swept by her broom cements the hardness in her heart. They become the bricks, their stems the mortar and the wall builds up inch by inch, until its high enough that she can’t see beyond it anymore.

So, she hates the tree. She curses it beautiful flowers and their glorious showers. She mutters her harshness all the while she tends to it and every day, she doesn’t notice it-

A leaf in the corner withers and withers, but fears to fall.

*END*