Monday, 24 October 2011

Facing It

"No one's in the water. We found nothing."

The voice of the boys came out of the darkness faintly, as their bodies emerged into the light provided by the lantern the girl held high in the air. I couldn't discern the look in her eyes. Perhaps, she had overcome the shock and was now trying to be useful, in her own ways. Did she think that others could help her out of her misery? I didn't want to face her, but she kept looking into my direction.

"My little brother and I, ...we were playing hide and seek, when it started to rain. And then there was the storm. I ran here and there, calling out his name, but he was nowhere to be seen." She kept repeating the same sentences, as if to let reality sink into her consciousness.

"He's just four years old, and is much smaller than me. I was teaching him the game. Yes, he was wearing ... a light blue shirt and black shorts..." her voice trailed off. It pained me that there was hope in her voice.

It upset her a bit when the two boys, who were playing with them, suggested that they search for him in the water. It seemed she was going to cry, when the possibility of her brother's death by drowning dawned on her. But she didn't cry. There was a resilience in her that ruled out whatever she couldn't bear.

I had to find a way to deal with her. My colleagues pretended to strike a conversation with the boys, and distract them away from the scene. We didn't want to make things difficult for this young, courageous girl, all alone in this secluded place. It would be cruel to shatter her hopes in one sweeping gesture.

The cold, lifeless body of her little brother that we found on the other side of the stream was hidden in the ambulance. It was a bit cruel of us to make the boys continue with the searching in the water. To make things look natural, my colleagues also pretended to do some searching, while I stood near the girl, knowing not what to do, or what to tell her when she found out the truth at last. All I could think of was to let her be with her parents first. We needed to take her back to her home, but she kept refusing to move from the place where she stood, with the lantern held tightly in her tiny hands.

"I think we should take her away by force. She just keeps recounting the incident and stands there, insisting on further searching around the place. And it's been an hour, almost..." One of my colleagues mumbled. The girl threw a glance at us, sensing some conspiracy. I could see a glow in her eyes. Had she started crying at last? Yes. She seemed a bit shaken, and her trembling lips betrayed her sense of insecurity. This gave me the confidence to walk closer towards her.

"Isabel, look here... I will keep my friends Joe and Asim here. They and your friends will continue looking for your brother. I'm sure that they will find him. But we have to go home now. It's getting dark, and your Mom and Dad will get worried."

She just stared at me and started to sob. When I held out my hand for the lantern, she hesitated for a moment, and then handed it to me. I gave it to Asim and moved closer to her. Then, without giving myself or her any time to think, I just lifted her up in my arms. She didn't resist. I could feel her shivering through her wet frock. Her hat fell down, and one of the small boys picked it up from the ground and held it towards me. I took it from him, thanked him, and moved fast towards my car.

I didn't know how to console the girl who was sobbing silently to my shoulder, her arms held weakly around my neck. Her body, despite being wet, felt too warm and I wondered whether she had caught a bad cold.

"Please calm down Isabel. We'll see what we can do." I kept murmuring to her ears, like an idiot. 

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Sunday, 23 October 2011

Sliding Deep

The first time water claimed her was when she fell into a well in the village. She was just six years old and curious, climbing onto the loosely held stones that bordered the well. She remembered how her left foot slipped and then she fell - into a mysterious experience. The overgrown ferns inside the well brushed her cheeks softly, leaving white, powdery streaks as she slid into the soft, silent passage that led to water. It was almost like going back to her mother's womb, where she was safe from the world that hurt her in the name of love.

Then she fell deep into the water, into the unexpected cold that numbed and aroused her at the same time. There was a music that claimed her, as she started flowing downwards. It was the heavy thud that alerted those who were close to the well, and before she knew it, her sense of peace was stolen from her by the noises outside. They thought they were saving her from death. But she could never forgive them for taking away the music from her, the music that came to her, only once, as she was moving down, deeper and deeper. They thought she was gasping for breath when they took her out of the well. Only she knew how disappointing it was to be forced away from the watery layers of one's music.

The second time, it was she who claimed the water. She was then a determined woman of twenty six, though her small frame was hardly discernible in the dark night. She just felt an urge to immerse her worthless self in the big lake. There was music in full blast from the speakers, but not the kind of music she liked. But it helped her a lot. No one was going to miss her. Everyone was busy with their inane talk, food and dancing. It was easy to slip away, to this lonely corner. The lake at the back of the hotel looked quiet and enticing. She just felt its coldness by dipping her feet into it, one by one. It was easy to walk into the lake and feel its depth inviting her once again to its music. She didn't feel like looking back. There was nothing left behind. All that she needed was the coldness and music that water can give her.

She was no more that six year old child who didn't know the difference between drowning and claiming the water. She had the confidence, to claim the water, or to lose it. She started flowing downwards, once again - her ears sealed from the horrible noises from outside, and waiting for the music from within.

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Monday, 17 October 2011


My wings were made of dreams
but I fell sideways to the tunnel
that pressed its air on me
from all real surfaces

into water

I dissolved

My tears
got mixed up
with the chlorine
that claims to clean
the pool
of dirty dreamy particles

something in me
that pulls down
the urge to go up in a swirl
of urgency
to regain life

It fails


Image courtesy: Creative Writing Ink, Writing Prompt - October 17th

Friday, 14 October 2011

Alive and Beautiful

They say you died that day, but I know for sure that you are alive, like me. We just need to sit on this branch that is separated in the middle of the tree from the other branch that slants towards the river. I love the way this one bows tantalisingly towards the land, as if it's made for couples like us to sit on. But it's a very lonely place, and we could be the first to be drawn to its charm. From here, we can see the miracles that moonlight performs on our small world. There is a great divide between our world and the one on the other side that moves like a serpent, circling the roads around the river. The illusory glow that falls on it is not for us, since it lacks the warmth of our palms held tightly in each others' as we sit here, bathed in the real glow from above.

Inches away from our dangling feet lies the boat that could once have bridged the gap between the two worlds.  Instead, we made it a part of our world, so that we could stare at it every day and night, and comment on the effect of varying lights, and the lack of it, on its rough, decaying surface.

When all our friends walked away to the mountains for the better, I stayed back. They thought you were dead, but I knew that I could find you here, if I went after the right tracks. I just followed the scent you left in the air, and your songs too. They thought I was the one who went after a mirage, but they were the ones lost in a world that was just a reflection of what could have been the real. I didn't want to be complacent like them, taking my new senses for granted. The leap of conviction that took me to your songs was beyond any sense. And here we are, real as our breath that swims through the air, and the charcoal heavings of our eyes that could burn all doubts.

You were waiting for me, on the spot where I lost my senses of the other world. I was in a daze, when the others made me follow them for a distance, away from you. They thought they were to enter a new life, free from the misery of the one that was part of the dead. For a while, none of us were able to recover from the shock of it when our adventurous picnic turned out to be a nightmare of sorts. The wild fire consumed our tents before we could even move. When I woke up from the blinding lights, the heat, and the smell of my own flesh burning, I was already with those who thought that the other life was dead. You were the only one among us who remained dead, they thought, as we moved on to the new life in the mountains.

But I knew that you were alive, like me. I was not drawn to the mountains, no matter how many flowers bloomed there, or how sweet their scents spread, or how heavenly the music that filled its air happened to be. I came back in search of your songs and tears. And after my journey that lasted days, I found you back here under the tree, separated from both worlds, struggling to cling to a life of your own where memories mattered the most.

You sensed my arrival, and held your weak hands in the air, searching for my love with your fingers. The boat was the only other witness, helpless like us, forced to a decision to stay with us, in our small world. But it was faster in your case, to leave behind the remnants of your death. It was just a matter of days, as we watched from above, that your body was consumed so fast by the creatures of the other world. The boat remained, despite the slow decay.

And we stay here, leaving the mountains behind us, and staring into the other world where death lives on, like worms wriggling in the light that fills the nights. We should be in the mountains. There are people, and a better world, waiting for us there. But we can't move away from here, because there is so much love left between the worlds, and so much of the real light that falls on us, and the boat, and the water... that makes our own small world the best place to be in.

* * * * *

Image courtesy: Creative Writing Ink, Writing Prompt - October 10th

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Bearable Moments

It feels good to sit here, you know, when there is nothing more to lose from life. After all, one has to feel at ease to know that the journey has come to an end. Then, it's time to rejoice like never before - the last attempt to hold back sensations, even as your cells disintegrate in a race against time.

It's all foggy now, and the raindrops that fall on the ground brings forth a smell that rises above the park bench to embrace me. There was a time when the place looked all green, and my little body longed to be everywhere at once, to inhale the pleasure-misery of life to its full. There were other colours too, of flowers, of the carefully (and sometimes carelessly) selected dresses and hats of people who chose to spend the evening in the park - some walking around and some just sitting in their comfortable spots. They all used to sense it when it got too dark, and left - in groups, in pairs ... and some all alone, just the way they came in. I too used to sense the time to leave, in those days when I was a young woman, when I cared for safety. But now, the world is a different place, and I am past care.

It's funny, that the park looks much more beautiful now than it ever was. This is the place where I came across many banal and extraordinary experiences, and how ignorant I had been then about them! How unnecessarily expectant, and how unreasonably depressed...Now I can have a few sweet smiles thinking about them, and stay assured that I know better. Thank God there's no one to spy on me and think that here's a lady who has gone bonkers - sitting all by herself over the red park bench in the rain at this unusual time, half drenched, but trying to protect her fancy shoes from rain drops...and yes, smiling to herself! Well, I may say- That's life child, and I'm so glad that I realised it just before losing my grip on it.

There is no time to leave now, nowhere to go back to, no job to finish, before falling into the rut again, doing the same things day after day. And the colours that are lost in the fog can be claimed back, if I sit here long enough and stare into my favourite spots. I can claim them again ... the colours, the smells, and the intensity of feelings one by one - no matter how stupid they happen to be. After all, it's play time for me now, till I leave these solid things forever.


Image courtesy: Creative Writing Ink - October 3rd Writing Prompt