Reflections in the dark

There is a sense of foreboding rife in the night air. Tonight there is no moon or stars, not even the distant lights that shine in his dark eyes when he searches for her. The absence of the celestial lights is not due to clouds either. The clouds from south are yet to arrive, there must be another explanation. He might be going blind. This inability to rationalize is always disconcerting, it makes him ask questions. Indulging the unknown by asking questions makes it tolerable. What is it then that holds the night together in the absence of the moon and the stars? It is not the dark sky that seems too big to care, no the sky never cared. Maybe what keeps the night alive is its arrogant defiance of light. It is only in the blatant disregard to doubts that the absolute is ever achieved.

He must learn more from the night. He must learn to swallow the light even though it burns within, leaving the taste of charred regrets. He knows he must go on till he devours the last of the wavering wisps of pride. The enemy, she had told him, lies within. He had then spent ages trying to fight it, fight them, looking for her approval. Each victory felt a load off, expunged, they became shadows. Even in the dark of this night, he can see their silhouettes. Memories don’t have a shape, structure or silver linings, they just have these haunting silhouettes. Her eyes move rapidly as if excited in his forays, but he can see from within. Beyond the eyelids, beyond the eyes, the vision she finds difficult to fathom, a vision that betrays the disappointment in him.

She was never afraid of the shadows, it’s the reflections that disturbed her. She defied them, but not with conviction. Since a young age she would stare deep into the mirror, trying to look for a movement, and often trying to gauge the depths of her soul. Is the reflection exactly as she appeared to others, or do they see more? We don’t always need mirrors to see ourselves, he had said, sometimes the reflections in our mind show us graver truths because in this case the mirror is made of our conscience. All we need is a calm mind, and a calm mind is like a black mirror. It absorbs all the light, all your essence, rendering you void. The only proof of your existence is in the reflection, but to see the reflection emanating from the black mirror requires an assimilation into the void. She must go further to look for him, before he wakes up and she becomes one of his reflections.

He feels his mouth dried up, the tongue feeling the back of his parched throat. She must be probing again, he could feel himself drained out of life. The dryness progressing further, reaching his now withered heart. He is convinced it would spread further leaving him with a shriveled soul. The prospect is comforting. But he must exist, not because he loves her. He must exist so that she has a purpose as she sleeps keeping his night alive. He takes a last longing look at her and retreats back into the depths of the night, before she can find him and destroy them both.



Seemingly oblivious of my presence she was looking up at the sky, a morning sky on the verge of maturing into a full-fledged sunny day. For my part, I didn’t care about being in a crowded place, the place where I was told she would be located. People brushing against me as they rushed to their offices, hurtling towards their petty dreams and to their miserable lives didn’t bother me. All I could see was her blue skirt flapping against her legs making the outline of her legs appear unhindered to my vision. They were not long legs, but their lean nature gave the impression of length that was further accentuated by the pointed head of the shoes she was wearing. The blue and surprisingly smooth triangle at the other end of the legs left me with no choice but to peer into the centre. The orange shirt that covered her upper body was a size too big and that too facing the march wind stuck to her body. The lack of sufficient provisions at the breast made my scanning vision quickly settle on the slender hands; outstretched, as she was using them to shield her eyes from the sun. The neck too was slender but glistened not with pearls or other jewelry, she seemed to be the kind of woman who had since long stopped wearing fancy to prove her feminism. The neck glistened most likely with sweat, or probably with something that was building up inside me, burning and thus making everything start to acquire a shimmering look. My attention mildly diverted by the brilliant colors of her clothes and the outlines of an enticing and well structured body returned to the object of her close attention at the moment, the sky.

What was she looking at, or was trying to, I wondered. The sky was a flawless blue without a trace of cloud, there was not even a bird in sight. Is she looking for the gods, for a sign, or is she asking the universe about the meaning of life, trying to remember a song whose rhythm haunts her but she can’t find the words. Maybe she just loves the blue, the tranquil sky which makes us feel insignificant, which infuses us with insouciance and insight at the same time. All these are the thoughts I might have if I were her, maybe we are no different and we connect at this moment; both looking at the same expanse of the sky. It struck me then, against all the apparent odds that I might be capable of love. Immediately though I realize it to be just wishful thinking borne out of the queasy feeling I woke up with today; which since morning has been messing with my mind. She is most likely looking at something I won’t ever see, maybe her thoughts are so different that mine that no amount of reflection can bridge the gap.

I was startled when she stopped looking up to fix her scrutinizing gaze at me, her beautiful, dark eyes piercing through me, as if I am naked and she can see my tainted soul. It then occurred to me that she might be looking at him towering over me and not the sky. I still have doubts about his existence even though it’s been years since I have been aware of his presence. How does one make sure, I have always wondered. When you can’t be too sure about yourself, how do you verify the physical existence of a feeling, a whim that you start believing in so much that it becomes impossible to find ways or methods to prove it. This elusive entity makes it appearance at the times I feel most vulnerable, when I feel exposed by my own arguments, when I waver in carrying out my work, and especially when I start thinking of emotional constructs like love and kindness. It never faces me but puts a soothing, almost motherly hand on my shoulder, not that I have known a mother, but my measly interactions with people who I have worked upon have given me a notion of the calming effect of a mother and her famed touch. The fact that I derive strength and sanity from him makes me feel ashamed, but over time shame has taken a back seat as he became an addiction, a part of my life. Like all addictions that fail social conformance, I fight the desire to get rid of him, vacillate between loving him and eliminating him. But if he is something that exists in my mind, a product of faith, the only way to destroy him is to destroy myself.

I freeze as she starts walking towards me, the only muscle in my whole body that works makes my grip on the pistol tighten. She has come so close now that I can see everything I assessed about the eyes coming true, I could grab her and kiss hard on the dark lips or kill her with a click and walk away. Instead, like a love struck kid I remain motionless, emotionless, which she must have noticed because a smile escapes her beautiful mouth. It’s so captivating that my last muscle and last hope to make the day count vanish in the crevices of the crinkled eyes as the smile transforms into a laugh while she draws my hand out of the pocket, grabs it and starts walking as if she had it planned to the last details. Don’t worry, she says to my still love struck frozen face, we will have a coffee and settle the matter without love or war. I agree with a nod, realizing how helpless I must look, but for the first time in my life I feel as if I am in safe hands.

I still vividly remember the day when it happened. I remember not finding anything suitable to go with the blue skirt, my favorite in those days. But the vivid memory is about the message on phone with the details of the person I had to deal with that day, and what followed. This person had good looks; was tall with strangely wiry limbs, but what stood out were the eyes. They seemed as if two drops of darkness are suspended in cups filled with liquid ivory, eyes that looked beyond you as if they were not capable of focusing on anything. I could feel that if they focused all they would see is grey, they looked as if searching for beauty in the depraved, searching for gloom in the happiness of people, finding it in the pain and suffering. For the first time in my life I could say something with assured surety, I knew he haunted this person too. I also knew together we could get rid of him, to be free from the shackles of obsession. Something made me happy and I couldn’t remember when was the last time I was so happy, that day I choose coffee over the morning shot as I headed towards the place of the engagement, the sky was a flawless blue, the way I loved it to be.


Guilt and persecution

There is water everywhere, imparting a sense of panic within. It is not that I am scared of water; on the contrary, I have always liked the sight, sound and even the feel of water on my body. Swimming in my opinion is the most exhilarating thing one can do when alone and want to be alone, erasing everything else around. The presence of a water body enhances the beauty of any place, I can spend hours watching the ocean play with the winds, lakes undulating under the morning breeze, even the muddy pools, those leftovers from a recent bout of rain makes me long for paper boats, splashing it on an unsuspecting passerby and such insipid, innocent fun.

But the water that surrounds me now is different, it’s unbearably blue almost as if I am looking at a summer sky, or maybe it is the sky. There is only so much that delineates the ocean and the sky at the horizon, here though I feel like I am standing in the middle of the world on a rock projecting from the tranquil pristine water pervading all tangible dimensions as if I am finally able to see eternity. This vision though calming when juxtaposed with my presence makes me feel like a blemish and the asphalt rock my darkened soul that is holding me steady. I turn my head to find the unchanging waters stare back at me from every direction and with such serenity that it blinds my eyes. I squint and peer at it for some deviation, some distraction in this aquatic perfection, only to discover that it is shallow. The limpid water even lets me see the bed of sand so clearly that I can make out it’s not sand, the surface is polished and possesses the same color as the vitrified tiles in my room. This realization strikes me hard, I could just get off the rock and start walking, these are not dangerous waters and there is no reason why I must get this feeling of extreme unrest, why must I accept I am some deformation in the perfect creation and scheme of things. But try as I may my legs won’t budge. Any movement or change from the state I am seems fraught with an ineffable danger, a danger of crossing the thin line that separates uncertainty and futility.

Thus I am left with no choice but to ruminate, not just on this particular situation and the internal dilemma but about everything that my mind with its limited abilities would allow me to ponder about. As soon as you do that, giving your mind a free rein to analyze a disagreeable situation the first thing it brings up is guilt. If guilt had a face it won’t be able to wipe out the smirk, or at least mine wouldn’t be able to. Is this some kind of retribution, guilt suggests, the smirk getting a chuckle for company. I have never committed any crime in the purview of the laws that qualify crime and decide the fate of criminals. But my guilt feeds on the many moral and ethical transgressions, I have; for instance, been cruel to the point of harming people who loved and cared for me. There were and always will be reasons and justifications for my actions, not of the usual namesake or the superficial kind either. I truly believe in them. This is what my guilt smirks at maybe, but do I care or do I act snobbish with my educated reasoning for the most disconcerting actions. I say disconcerting because it affected others in a way I cannot really understand, behavior of people who get close to you invariably end up baffling you.

Once you handle guilt with such high-handed dismissal, the next thing your mind throws at you is the feeling of helplessness, an enquiry into what is fair and what is not. Why am I being persecuted I start thinking. Why should I be in this absurd place, who decides the course of my life, is there any logic that drives our existence, is there a free will. If I was selfish and in the process hurt people, or to be more specific two people and probably a few more, and a dog, then somewhere in the grand vision of this arbitrary arbiter they would be found equally responsible. I don’t so much remember the details of why I broke up with the girls but I vividly remember the dog and the incident in the dark of the night. It barked for no apparent reason, I did what it takes to get it silenced. Also, I am not even sure if it was much hurt because it ran back to his compatriots, who looked at me in synchronized vision making me take flight. As for the people, they were much better off without me as I was without them in my life, so in a way in the bigger picture I did the right thing and for everyone’s good. So why am I stuck here; why do I still feel guilt; why am I helpless; unable to move.

The answers dawned upon me with a shock; an alarming shock to be precise, originating from the inconsiderate phone lying hidden among the folds of the bed sheet, or probably lying on the floor next to the bed kicked out during one of my usual subconscious acts that dramatically end in my waking up with a bad hangover. Dramatic I say because more often than not, after the nights when I ingest more poison that I know I am capable of digesting, I find myself waking up diagonally opposite and in complete disarray that it takes a few seconds to register I was sleeping, and the world is still sane.