Fun

Technology and evolution of men

Progress in technology leads to changes in everyday devices, and changes our everyday life in general which leads to questions about the progress of men using the technology. For instance, over the last decades, the televisions have been getting slimmer, the phones are getting smarter, even laptops have been getting lighter and yet powerful that they have replaced our notebooks and gaming devices alike. With the advent of these powerful appurtenances of modern life, men have been getting more lazy and sedentary, making them act and look much less brighter in comparison.

With every 2GB increase of memory in our devices we stop using an equal amount of ours. There’s no point in remembering anything when Google, Alexa and Siri are available at every fingertip. We would rather use our brains in processing information and performing analytics. Technology, though has been thinking along the same lines, and with compute power getting less expensive, machine learning has come back with vengeance. It may eventually eliminate our use of the analytical brain too. It might not be a bad development either, because our generation has been reducing its exposure to material that may tax the brain. We scan hundreds of images every day on social media, we read texts with word-limits and even fiction flashes by our eyes, most of us wouldn’t even do the reading or photo surfing if we found a Youtube channel with the same content. The enormous amount of data that is accessible, and which is actually being accessed everyday numbs our senses of perception. One would conclude that we men are going to look and act outdated very soon.

That’s where the skeptics are wrong!

We are a generation obsessed with getting slimmer, fitter, and agile. Not just watching calories and developing a taste for green tea, we men have even embraced slim fit jeans that gave and still gives headache to many women, they of course have adopted these much before. We all know that women evolve faster because they go by intuition not by the need for survival. So coming back to men, we have been taking our race to catch up with our sleeker, faster and smarter devices and social behavior seriously, by upping the ante and moving on to skinny fit from slim. It needs a lot of balls, or lack thereof, to fit into these fits, something that our women won’t appreciate, not that they don’t have issues with circular appendages themselves. The modern alpha male walks out of the fitting room wearing the ultra skinny fit and looks disgusted at the slims and the skinnies. As he walks away with pride, one notices the severe punctuations in his gait, not that it matters because he has the evolved fingers that will win him all the females.

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Thoughts

Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights can be described as a tragic love story along the lines of the great tragedies that have been written on the theme. What sets it apart from other works in this genre; however, is the description of pure depravity, which is propounded through its central character, the ever famous Heathcliff. He seems too unearthly, someone who is conceived only to draw hatred and disgust. There is; however, a meek justification proffered in his defense. He is brought to Wuthering Heights with a handicap of not belonging to the society, a world full of etiquettes, refinement, and conventions that come with civilization, a world which eventually abandons him as an outcast. What follows is an unchecked wrath and contempt that propel him to inflict pain and helplessness on everything he comes across. This unadulterated scorn for humanity and all of its good qualities makes him look illogical, more like an idea instead of a person, something that would look almost ridiculous if placed out of the frame of the story and it’s setting. The ability to transcend logic while writing fiction and yet make it acceptable, as a form of pure thought and imagination is characteristic of poetry. It is the poetic element in Emily Bronte’s writing that impresses you as you start on the journey towards the Wuthering Heights.

‘one may guess the power of the north wind blowing over the edge, by the excessive slant of a few stunted firs at the end of the house; and by a range of gaunt thorns all stretching their limbs one way, as if craving alms of the sun.’ – Chapter I

Poetry comes with its uncertainties, with a requirement for interpretation that is human and individualistic, one that doesn’t get bounded by logic and reasoning. There is no universal truth that is presented, but a bare thought, almost whimsical because it doesn’t come fortified with reason. The omniscient narrators in fiction; however, cannot afford to stray, cannot be seen as manipulative while presenting the story. To compensate for the poetic nature of the theme and the unnatural behavior of the characters, we have not one but two narrators who are themselves part of the story. Mr Lockwood is the primary narrator but his version is derived, or possibly reproduced as it was from the narration of another character in the story, Ellen Dean. She is a narrator who has been a participant in most of the scenes, but throughout the book she seems to be wavering between romanticism, honesty, loyalty and redemption, something that induces doubt on the veracity of her words. These choices; of having layers of narration and adding some dubiousness to it, seem like a conscious decision taken by the author, most likely to make the readers question each event. Maybe it is an invitation to the discerning reader to look beyond the surface of the story as it is perused.

‘but I have undergone sharp discipline, which has taught me wisdom; and then, I have read more than you would fancy, Mr. Lockwood. You could not open a book in this library that I have not looked into, and got something out of also’ – Ellen Dean

The story commences from the childhood of Heathcliff and Catherine when love gradually takes root as the kids go exploring the heaths and the moors away from the eyes of adults and their ways. It is in the conflict between their innocence and the moral and appropriate behavior as professed by the adults, that this love grows offshoots; those which reach beyond the realms where it could have been destroyed. This story can be seen in the light of this conflict. Society adds a lot of constraints and restraints, keeping innocence and individuality in check for its sustenance. It is eternally in opposition to the free, childlike spirit of the individual which has an inherent tendency to oppose any restraint, in the process even going to the extent of appearing irrational. But it is the same children that grow into the convention abiding adults, once they concede defeat to the forces of society and its rules, that is. Even in such a person, the spirit of the kid doesn’t die. It manifests itself in the moments of extreme emotions or extreme abandon when one loses one’s guard. Catherine, when faced with the forces and the lure of society concedes to it, she chooses the worldly beau who is refined, rich and sensitive. Heathcliff, on the other hand is not offered any such option, he is left alone in the heath of his bare existence. He is no different from a child who has been shown the pudding, given a taste of it and then denied any further access to it. So like a child he goes about, for the rest of his life, not just hating the cruel world but wrecking havoc on it. Never graduating to become a conformist, he has no regard for the forces of conscience, pity or a definition of good and bad. He knows he has been wronged, for no apparent transgression on his part and therefore the world he is against is evil. His actions are not only justified since he is acting against the wickedness, but they also make him the righteous one. We see no remorse in the man as his deeds keep ruining the lives of people around him, making him a villain who deserves all the hatred of society, if only because instead of giving a speech for his redemption at the end he offers sarcasm and a sneer.

It’s odd what a savage feeling I have to anything that seems afraid of me! Had I been born where laws are less strict and tastes less dainty, I should treat myself to a slow vivisection of those two, as an evening’s amusement.’ – Heathcliff.

The poetics employed in the book also take us to the domain of romanticism. The gothic background and the delineation of characters conjures up images that elicit strong emotions from the reader. The disconnect between the world outside Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange, and the world inside guides the reader to go on the path of fantasy. The flaws in all the characters makes us question the flaws within us. Romanticism makes the world seem fantastic but it comes with a side effect, a consciousness of what is lacking, a question to what is real. These thoughts invariably take a turn towards the cardinal conundrum of existence. Love once stripped down of romanticism can be construed as an undertaking to further one’s existence. Existence of self is the most beautiful and profound concept for the individual, it’s so palpable that everything else starts to seem trivial. However, this solitary nature of its realization forces us to find an extension of our existence beyond the self, as a proof that it’s not an illusion we hold within us. The acknowledgement of our existence, to its very minute details, in another person is more satisfying than life itself, and more liberating than death. We therefore tend to efface our ego when we are truly in love, the loved one becomes the only person that exists in our world. Most of the love stories resist in bringing about a union of the lovers, it’s in death and failure to consummate that this proof of existence, and therefore life, is strengthened. Catherine, in her quavering speech justifying her decision to marry Linton ends up saying that she herself is Heathcliff, there is just no distinction.

I have not broken your heart—you have broken it; and in breaking it, you have broken mine.So much the worse for me that I am strong. Do I want to live? What kind of living will it be when you—oh, God! would you like to live with your soul in the grave?’ – Heathcliff.

The later part of the book seems like an effort to exonerate the author for being too bleak in her outlook towards life. The older generation consisted of Heathcliff, amply described above as the rebel against goodness, Catherine who is just like Heathcliff but betrays her freedom from the norms and switches to the other side, the side of Linton who represents the civilized world. It is in retrospect that we see how the world, with its ultimate intention to survive, embraces the renegades. Linton goes to the extreme in this act, almost losing his respect and identity. This leniency is contradicted by his stern decision in matters of his rebel sister, symbolic of the way how the rational world is unforgiving and shuns the ones who stray. The younger generation is, and is presented to be treading the boundaries between these worlds. Young Cathy maybe saucy but she has a balance in her mental faculties and physical endurance that was lacking in her father or her mother. Young Linton is shown as weak, and almost immoral, for he is the child born from a union of the rational world who erred into the unwilling and disinterested arms of the rebel. Mirrored as the new Heathcliff, a cheerful Hareton contradicts the former’s image in his ignorance and his endeavors to gain favors from the seemingly unkind yet beautiful lady, his sense of righteousness and concern awakening amidst the almost animal identity tells us how life, and reason eventually finds its way.

In spite of all the possible ways you may choose to read and interpret the events and the people of Wuthering Heights, you will still be left enchanted and searching for meaning, searching for a better explanation of the feeling it leaves you with. It’s a feeling of being haunted by the place, by the moors, and the possibility of a love, so violent that it would destroy yourself along with everyone around you. Just like the horror movie actor who finds himself in a haunted house and to your exasperation, walks into the red room defying all logic, you will be drawn to this book again, for another reread.

‘I lingered round them, under that benign sky: watched the moths fluttering among the heath and harebells, listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass, and wondered how any one could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth. The end.’

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Poetry

Fiery ablutions for a new genesis

kissing the
stupefied buildings,
raging, ravaging,
it plays games
with a contempt
kaleidoscopic.

a catharsis
wrapped in every lick,
a thousand suns
in its erratic leap,
it swallows every excess
on this foraging trip.

but that which
razed you to the ground
was a cold heart,
not the burning desires.
excruciating heat
from the frigid touches
desiccated the remains of love,
in the air you breathe.

the city ablaze
reflected in the eyes
feels distant,
yet somehow your own,
as if you have exhaled
some flames of the fire
that consumes you within.

clouds of decadence
rise beyond the skies,
from the fiery ablution
that purges the people
and their city
ignoring the pleas
as civilization cries.

the clouds then melt
in a revelation,
wet ash now bears
the primordial seed.
beyond their losses,
and their lies,
grieving people witness
the sapling grow
feeding the city
with a conscience,
the buildings and
its stories again rise.

why then do you
wallow in your fire,
not letting it die
as your city did.
revenge of the wronged,
inescapable fate, destiny,
or one of your own making,
you let it cleanse
your nascent emotions
feeling a biting singe,
your established beliefs
perished to dust
in its chastising wake.

not the others but you
have been your own nemesis,
flanked by beginnings
in its transience
don’t you see the end
is but a divine providence.
go find the seed
within your soul,
rise again and
write your own genesis.

Standard
Fiction

Love, silence and a few words… (8)

“Can you drop me at my place,” Nikhil asked, realizing immediately that it must have sounded well rehearsed.

“Yeah sure,” said Megha, mildly surprised and then led the way to the car. When she was about to start the car, Nikhil said Wait with some command. As she turned to ask why, she found him leaning towards her and then he pulled her towards him. Their mouths were now almost grazing each other as they looked into each other’s eyes, none making a move. Nikhil was trying to think what to do next, without much success. He felt intoxicated by the smell of Megha, or probably it was her perfume. It was strong and spicy reminding him of exotic flowers he hadn’t smelled before, a smell of love maybe. With her heart trying to beat its way out of her body, Megha couldn’t keep herself in check and kissed him with a passion as if this was their last kiss before they parted for good.

“Keep quiet and drive,” interrupted a heavy voice. It went unheeded till Nikhil was knocked back to his seat, too swiftly for him to react. Megha screamed but no sound came out as she was dealt in the same manner and instantly lost her
consciousness. Nikhil could hear the frantic discussion as if happening in a big hall far away and he saw two guys moving Megha to the back and a third taking the wheel. He tried to turn around to look if she was safe but the pain in his neck moved downwards as if piercing the spine fading out his vision.

“Drink” commanded the youngest member of the trio holding a dirty bottle of water. He looked too young for the job, probably just entered his teens. There was however no trace of nervousness on his part. Nikhil touched the back of his neck to check the pain which had subsided and was now a periodic throb. Megha was huddled close to him on one side and a heavily built guy was sitting on the other side. The mobile phones were gone along with their wallets, which were being investigated by the man in a white turban whose was at the wheel.

“Four ATM cards and three credit cards,” he said in a gruff voice startling Nikhil and Megha.

He looked back and continued, “ok so here is what you two will do, we will stop at the relevant ATMs, you go inside and take out the cash as much as the withdrawal limits allow.” He sounded like a man who was used to giving orders, definitely the leader of the pack.

“Any smart moves on your part will be dealt with smarter moves,” he said as if remembering something he had forgotten. Then in a satisfied tone, he added “not that you look smart.”

“Madam looks classy though,” said the schoolboy turned gangster. I looked at Megha who was looking at him wide-eyed as if in wonder, or maybe it was fear.

“Don’t harm us, we will get you the money,” Nikhil managed to keep anxiety out of his tone. The leader brandished a gun with a smug look, one of those locally manufactured ones that had the reputation of misfiring in the hands of the shooter after the first few shots. This one looked new and had a shine, most probably still virgin. Nikhil’s thoughts were interrupted by Megha’s hands as they surreptitiously slid into his.

Megha was scared out of wits, till now she had been reading and fretting over the news of such crimes, which had in the recent times become more frequent and more violent. She felt the need to be brave and to stay composed but as soon as Nikhil had addressed the abductors and she saw the gun, she succumbed to the wave of panic, sinking and in the need of holding on to something she clasped Nikhil’s hands. Nothing happened though, the leader was at the wheel with the boy next to him. No one spoke, especially the third who sat next to Nikhil on the other side. He seemed to have something concealed under the loose end of his white turban that fell below his chest. They were driven to the ATMs followed by the inconspicuous companion, the only thing that betrayed his presence was the feel of something poking at their back, something of metallic hardness.

The leader seemed satisfied with the proceedings but the young man fidgeted and kept whispering into the leader’s ears. A firm and audible No after a few minutes put an end to the whispering and schoolboy now sat sulking, intermittently looking back at them, with malice. The silent guy had an ominous air around him, silence in such situations being more scary than the scariest of the words. He looked disinterested, and looked out of the window on his side into the dark of the night and the deeper dark of the bushes growing wild next to the road that were whizzing past. Megha too kept checking on him with furtive glances, he seemed composed enough to be cold-blooded.

They drove around the outskirts of the city, driven with a precision on the locations of the ATMs, even the guards on duty appeared to give subtle nods when they saw the leader. These locations were however far apart, it took long and made them stop to refuel. They were asked if they needed tea or something to eat. Schoolboy not keen on hearing negatives brought a bottle of water and gave it to Megha with an awkward smile that made him look shy. He quickly went away and didn’t look back.

As the night progressed, Nikhil and Megha started to relax and wished for the ordeal to be over soon. The only doubt that lingered was if they will be left unharmed once all the cards were done. Holding each others hands and sitting close so as to keep as much distance from the silent one, they thought about the kiss. Nikhil felt the urge to kiss her again, it would definitely scandalize these guys. Did he really want to kiss her again, he felt the awkward dissatisfaction creeping in. Now that he was with her and going through this drama, which would only make their bond stronger, he felt disinterested. It was much better when he had no hope, was being scorned. Reciprocated love leaves you with the same taste of success that you get when you achieve something only to realize you could have aimed for more. Megha remembered and regretted being reckless but then maybe it was their last kiss, she didn’t want to think of the kiss, of Nikhil or love, all she wanted was to get out of the situation alive. She remembered the news story of the victim getting hacked to pieces, would people be able to find which piece was her and which Nikhil. It will be a shame to die like this, like poultry. She needs to do something about her life, she thought. If Nikhil brought anything good it was the sense of new beginnings, of possibilities, she had been giving up on things a little too soon.

Once the last card was used they stopped on the service road next to the highway and everyone got out of the car. They were all looking at the leader to say something, but he took his time, probably enjoying the attention. He just stared at Megha and Nikhil.

“I know where you live,” the leader spoke finally ending the suspense, “so don’t attempt to tell anything to the cops, not that it matters because we also know where the cops live.” He winked at his mates, the schoolboy returned the gesture slyly but not a muscle on the silent killer moved. Maybe he was plotting to take over the reigns. He would make a better leader, one who is unreadable, unpredictable.

“We won’t and you have got your money, please let us go,” Nikhil pleaded.

“Can we have the car back,” he added as an afterthought and ended in pain as Megha nudged him hard with her elbow.

The leader laughed and the silent one turned to look at Nikhil. Schoolboy took a step or two but was held back by the leader who said, “Now that you have been treated like one you have started to feel like a hero, is it?”

“No, no, I mean sorry,” Nikhil blabbered, “please don’t kill me, us.”

“Ok, but you need to be taught some manners,” came the harsh, booming voice of the silent one surprising everyone. The leader started laughing heartily and the schoolboy joined in after some hesitation. Nikhil relaxed and started wondering where they were, looking around. Megha’s eyes were however glued to the three and she knew something was going to happen, something bad. She wanted to warn Nikhil but he seemed to be lost in his world gazing at the nothingness around. Just then in a flash, the silent one snatched the gun from the leaders hands and shot at Nikhil. As if in reflex, Megha dived taking Nikhil down with her. She heard the gunshot, a little too loud than how she thought gunshots should sound, and a pain shot up in her knees as she passed out.

There was a hint of sun in the sky beyond the weedy bushes as Megha woke up and saw Nikhil lying next to her holding his head in a hand soaked in blood. He wasn’t moving, she shuddered and passed out yet again.

~

Nikhil woke up on a bed that reeked of hospital disinfectants and found GD and Sameer looking at him with knowing smiles. Shruti stood a little behind in disheveled hair that made her look a bit scary. He spotted a drop of tear running down her face as he smiled back at all. Megha walked in looking more pretty than she, with a smile that radiated love and leaned down to kiss him. Nikhil tried to rise up but was held back by the pain on the left side of the head, he touched instinctively. The left ear was bandaged, gone. He started panicking when the still smiling, angelic Megha leaning over him said in the softest voice he had ever heard that she loves him. He was now sure this was heaven as he got woozy and Megha turned into Shruti, with a pensive yet eager face. He fought the creeping delirium and realized that the faces were not transforming in his mind but he was looking at Shruti and then something snapped, he relapsed into a blissful sleep.

~

Megha woke up with a start at the sound of the alarm. The alarm didn’t last beyond the third beep as it was deftly snoozed. Yet again. Why does he set the alarm on weekends when all he wants to do over the weekend is to go to the mall and watch movies. She wasn’t going anywhere today and she wont relent, with a resolute happiness she went back to sleep.

The mall was crowded for no apparent reason. It seemed the whole city had poured in having found nothing better to do. The little boy was restless being held back by his mom. He wanted to run between the people, it was like a maze and just too tempting. He soon found his moment when mom leaned towards dad to say something. Running into the crowd he looked back with glee, he loved getting chased by his parents. When he finally managed to get hold of the imp, Nikhil was out of his breath, at least none of it to spare in scolding the incorrigible brat.

“You should do something about your ears, I can’t always shout or talk into them,” came an annoyed yet sweet and mellifluous voice.

“You never say much and I give up after a few words whenever we sit down to have a conversation,” she now sounded bitter, and yet the voice felt soothing as ever.

“But Shruti, if I do that I won’t be able to love you every time you say those few words you manage to say.”

They smiled at each other, a private smile that didn’t impress their son. He kept tugging and pulling his hands away from the grip.

*****

Click here if this post didn’t make sense

Previously: Love, silence and a few words…(7)

Standard
Fiction

From a crack in the wall, continued…

The wall looked more beautiful today, maybe it’s the same but in his relief at finding it again, establishing that it was not a figment of his imagination that was making it seem enchanting. Breathing heavily, Tam reached the stream and closed his eyes thinking of cold refreshing water and he was granted enough to soak him to the burning heels. He tried milk, honey, wine and it worked every time.

To test further, he tried ice-cream but nothing happened. It probably works only for liquids, he thought, examining the surface of the wall. It was made of layers of multi-colored rock, formed it seems over thousands of years. He touched a layer that seemed pink and the surface came off like butter kept out over a warm night. It smelled sweet and when he tasted it with the tip of his tongue he couldn’t believe it was strawberry ice-cream. Licking it he felt it was the best strawberry icecream he has ever had, maybe second best. The best was when he had done well in school his father had taken him out for the first time for a treat. He was so happy but when he had looked at his father there was a disappointment, he had potential and could have done better he was told.

Something flickered on the rock above. He stepped back to get a better view and couldn’t believe his eyes, his father’s face was looking down at him more real than how he was imagining it, and it had the same disappointed look. Tam was spellbound and he waved stupidly, the father on the rock surface seemed surprised and waved back smiling. Could he ask just about anything he desired from the wall. He thought of the woman who he fell in love the first time in his life, though she never did. The picture immediately changed to a version of woman as he often dreamt of, with the exact seductive look on her face and the revealing clothes. This made him think of his wife and kid, he felt pity as he was sure she would be tending to their son besides doing all the chores he didn’t do. The image of his wife, frustrated yet working flashed immediately.

Thoroughly intrigued and excited, he decided to get to the bottom of this wall, or the top. Climbing however wasn’t an option due to the steep angle and lack of foothold. He walked into the ferns that flanked the sides, walking parallel to the wall and finally found an opening. As soon as he was on the other side, the scene transformed into a barren expanse, there was sound of machinery coming from the top. The wall on this side looked like a contraption with thousands of chambers dug out into the rock. Each chamber had a miniature Tam working on a piece of machine protruding out of the wall, with a slot from which a retractable appendage seemed to be coming out with instructions. The Tams appeared sad when idle and looked furtively at the glass windows separating the chambers, the slits on the windows were closed. It was as if they were afraid of seeing one another. As soon as the protruding limb came with a command the Tams got busy, with a sense of purpose.

Some of the chambers had people in it. Peering hard he could make out his father in one, irritated by the Tam questioning him, when all he seemed to be wanting was to go off to sleep. There was one with the toddler sitting ignored while the Tam looked unhappy with having nothing to do. There was one with the seductive woman who was being made to wear clothes she hated. His wife in another chamber looked forlorn as she worked to fill the vessel with wine, or was it milk. There was a chamber with books on a table and its Tam was reading something and typing into a keyboard.

Tam couldn’t decide on a single emotion or response to the scene, he kept looking at it mesmerized till he spotted a sleeping miniature Tam in one of the chambers towards the top. He was being prodded by the probe which finally managed to wake him up.

Tam woke up and realized he was late for work. He looked at the window with the shades closed and had an urge to think about his life, and what it all meant, but he shuddered at the thought and got up, eager to go to work, there was too much of it piled up already.

This post was written in response to the writing challenge From a Crack in the Wall. I have not conformed to the word limit because try as I may, I am not cut out for flash fiction. When I sit down to write a story, I try to emulate the great and immerse myself in it, most of the time this is forced but I notice the stories eventually manage to get out of my hands and flourish on their own.

Standard
Fiction

Love, silence and a few words…(7)

Megha had come back from the wedding, single, drunk and happy, with an annoyed Ma. Ignoring her, she directed her thoughts to Sameer. He was such a nice guy, the type who can’t help being a gentleman even when they are encouraged to be not so gentle. The way he was pitching hard for his friend in love was cute, more so as he got more drunk and more inarticulate. He might have been naive but he managed to make Megha think about Nikhil seriously. Nikhil, from what he has been apparently confessing to his friends, did seem serious about her. Also, now that she wasn’t his colleague, Megha argued with herself, she might as well meet the guy, if only to understand what he finds so attractive about her. It will be like an adventure, she thought. This attraction could be solely based on the lure of the taboo. Falling in love with an older woman, and one’s boss at that qualifies as taboo, especially in today’s world where people spend more time in the office than outside. Well, if she fell in love with Nikhil it would be equally taboo, not to mention the shock it would cause on the caste crazy Bansals.

Thrilled with these thoughts, she dialed Nikhil’s number.

Nikhil couldn’t believe when he saw Megha calling, he paused for a while and decided to stay calm and not let his excitement put off Megha.

“Hi Megha, how are you.”

“Hi Nikhil, do you still love me?” She giggled.

“Don’t make fun, you know that so well. We are destined to be together, who would have thought Sameer and you will get together in the manner you did.”

“Yeah the Gods want us to be together, the least we could do is to go on a date.”

“Yes. We must, now?”

“Of course not, let’s meet in the evening, and please stop being so desperate.”

“See ya,” he said and disconnected to show he wasn’t desperate, at least for more conversation.

Nikhil couldn’t think of anything to do till evening, he tried rehearsing what to say but didn’t like what he came up with. There was also an uncertainty creeping in, did he really love Megha or was this a passing fancy like the many he had after Shruti. Unlike his past relationships that were based on mutual attraction, this was an initiative taken by him. There were no sparks and the only chemistry was what happened in his heart as he thought of Megha, a love that transported him away from the world as he faced her only to be wrenched back by the resounding voice. Maybe he could ask her to speak softly. At least the flaw was behavioral or probably physiological. With Shruti it was hypersensitivity, of being unreasonably emotional for which he had no solution but to plead or agree with her on things he felt strongly about. Why do women have one flaw that you can’t ignore. Shruti used to answer that by calling him shallow, and she was probably right, delving deep into women was too much effort. Megha was much more mature than the women of his past, it gave him hope, of the type that comes with some vexing uneasiness.

Megha hummed a tune she thought she had forgotten as she debated on the appropriate makeup, she couldn’t remember the song. Mayank was good at guessing the song from her humming, he was bad at singing and she bad at guessing. She thought they were perfect and then the songs faded away in the space each demanded of the other. She wanted to grow professionally while Mayank, who was doing well at work, wanted more time with friends, those that he had been neglecting. This space that Mayank wanted turned out to be filled with whiffs of floral perfume and a silence that kept growing till it pervaded every nook and corner of the house. Sometimes it had felt as if both were helpless in front of this silence and their meek attempts to fill it ended up losing to the inane drone from the TV. She never figured out why Mayank lost interest in her, what did she do or not do to repel him away. He never gave a satisfactory answer frustrating her even more, to the extent that it made her leave him for good. She scoffed at herself, getting ready to meet her young irrational lover, like the Megha of those days would have done if she saw her now. Maybe Mayank had no answer and he just drifted apart without knowing why, maybe there are no explanations, just like she couldn’t explain why against all her instincts, she was going to meet Nikhil. The little voice in her head asking these questions had over time taken a back seat while a valiant resurgence intended to defeat the all the deafening silence around her had grown to significance.

Nikhil reached the venue a little too soon, in a cab as his car was out for service. Finding a cab on the weekends was getting difficult with most people preferring cabs over driving themselves. The place Megha had chosen was a little away from the city, one of the garden restaurants that were filling the suburbs.

“Hi Nikhil”, Megha beamed, reminding him of how she did that every Monday when Nikhil came to her office with the answers to the emails ready for her to send across.

“Hi Megha, you look beautiful,” Nikhil said marvelling at how the color of her skin matched the color of the table top.

“So, you really do love me.”

“How is everything at the office,” she asked cutting off Nikhil who was on the verge of saying something, wondering if it was a question or an acknowledgement.

“I haven’t been to the office after you left, the HR have been trying to contact me and getting frustrated I would guess,” Nikhil said relieved that they were off the topic.

“Oh, you must go, all the projects would have been stalled,” Megha checked herself and smiled, “I know. Fuck the projects!”

They laughed and the conversation moved on to Sameer, the wedding night and Kasol, in which Megha was very interested and asked for details. It was easy talking to her, unlike what he had anticipated.

“It’s amazing how life takes you to new places and people and yet you keep looking backwards at your past that has lost all its novelty,” Megha said thoughtfully after having listened to the details of Nikhil’s trip. She felt happy and Nikhil seemed to be so great at talking, and telling stories, something she would have never guessed. He looked thinner and now that she was evaluating looks and not his work he seemed to be more attractive than intelligent. It was pleasing to know that an attractive guy thought she was pretty. She decided it was enough exhilaration for a first date and called it a day.

To be concluded…

Previously: Love, silence and a few words…(1-6)

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Poetry

The living ghosts

Sometimes when I wake up
in the dark of the night,
not sure if I myself want to believe,
I wish I could tell you what I see,
sights that transcend logic and fantasy.

The phantom of sequestered fears
in a shade of gray,
stirs unsure of the smile
lurking at the corners
of its smoke-stained lips,
jeering it seems as it lisps.

The spirit made of jelly,
scorning ethics with a cultivated folly,
fidgets with subtle shifts
in its numb fingertips
beckoning me to join on its
flexibly venal fickle trips.

Then there’s this specter made of
a forgotten shame that rustles
on the rusty remnants
of a conscience, of regrets,
scouring the tarnished memories
exposing guile and my polished lies.

They appear shocked for a moment
when they find me staring,
making me wonder if it’s me
or are they the ones having the visions,
is this all playing in my head, they ask
for who is living and who is truly dead,
who is sleeping and who out of the bed.

When I go about acting as the world expects of me,
mornings when I feel it’s going to be a lovely day.
The phantoms and the specters of night
exist in my mind, I say.
Figments borne out of the insane
starry dreams and moonlight beams.

Then comes another night waking the rebel,
when they come without fanfare, with no care,
stark contrast with the people I met that day,
people who have stopped feeling when they are touched,
without expectations they help but can no more empathize,
they acquiesce without shedding the pretense of being wise.

These ghosts of the night however are naked as truth,
detached, they act like what they appear to be.
Tranquil and wavering only in the visual form,
they suggest maybe when I will take off the mask,
this body, the face and knowledge in which I bask,
I will join them and be what I was meant to be.

Resisting temptation I wake up to yet another day,
working and mingling with my comrades of daylight
as they move, lost, feeding on each others pity
striving to acquire possessions and fame for immortality.
I see in them the reflection of what I have become,
or are they pretending, and will be human when I am gone.
I wonder if along with them I am living my life,
or the lives living us, without us realizing our strife.

Do we write our stories,
or do the stories choose us.
If these ideas have always been around
before they find a prey and strike us.
No wonder even love just happens,
it’s not two people at random that fall,
love chooses us in no way different
than how this weird world with its people did.

Feeling helpless I go off to sleep much late at night,
wishing for the morning sun to come soon,
before I wake up for them to be gone to the moon.
My friends of the night faithfully visit, but with concern,
they make me calm and soothe me to sleep feeling at home.
Among my trusted, loving and the living dead,
I hope that the night never ends as I realize
how its the living ghosts of the day that I truly dread.

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