From dusk to dawn

“How long do I have, doctor?”

“About four years.”

Day One.

Has the world always been this darker? I see light everywhere. But it doesn’t emit any warmth for me. I look at a dark corner, stare at the shadows and it doesn’t feel any different than the pool of light on the wall. Is there any difference between being in light and being in the dark? I see no difference. I feel no difference. Being bathed in a bright light, I am still dying. Four years. Ha. People say there is always light at end of the tunnel. Seems like a joke to me. A four year tunnel. With darkness at the end of it. Eternal darkness.

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A plate full of happiness

It was a Saturday evening. It had rained just for five minutes after a full day of hide n seek between the Sun and clouds. The street was bustling with people, especially the sweet shop around the corner. It was packed with the people who were getting pulled in by the irresistible smell of typical Indian snacks being fried. The cool breeze was doing a wonderful job of spreading the smell of food in the neighborhood. The porch of shop which had small tables and chairs for people to sit and eat had hardly any empty tables by the hour of Sunset.

Ramlal was definitely the odd man out in the crowd with his dirty face, equally dirty and loose clothes and a shabby plastic shopping bag in one hand. This famous sweet shop he was standing in rarely saw someone below poverty line as a customer. The ridiculously overpriced sweets are seen as a proof of quality and standard by some people. For others, they were a luxury. And here Ramlal was, confused, hesitant, afraid of touching anything, scared that he would bump into someone, looking around nervously, making his way towards one of the counters. He was looking at everything curiously with his dark eyes pausing at every counter. The sweets of different type and shapes were stacked in different ways everywhere. But he didn’t really let himself linger on anything for more than a fraction of second as he was looking for something special.

Finally he found what he was looking for. It was the most crowded counter in the shop. He waited and observed how other people were ordering. He was relieved to see

Dhokla
Dhokla

that almost everyone was buying the same thing he wanted to buy. Listening to other people gave him some idea how to ask for it. It was a sponge like yellow colored food item everyone calls Dhokla. He kept looking at the neatly stacked pile of Dhokla cut in shape of small cubes. It was a shade of yellow he had never seen on Dhokla before. Not that he has had any Dhokla ever in any other sweet shops. But by now he was already convinced that these guys were definitely the best Dhokla makers in the world.

The crowd had thinned after a few minutes and there was almost no one buying Dhokla at the counter. Ramlal walked close and looked at the expressionless guy behind the counter, Rajesh. “Can.. can I get a plate of Dhokla?”. Ramlal had no idea if ‘a plate’ was a measurement they entertained.

“Fifty rupees”, said Rajesh, not really looking up.

Ramlal was shocked. Apparently they did have a measurement called ‘one plate’. But it was ridiculously priced. His hand immediately gripped the pocket where he had his money. He knew his pocket had only fifty rupees out of his daily pay of hundred rupees. He had just spent fifty rupees on Grocery shopping. That had ensured his family’s only meal of the day, dinner. He couldn’t possibly spend rest of it all on Dhokla. Not sure what to do now, he looked over his shoulder out of the door of the sweet shop. A moment of hesitation and he turned back to the counter again. Feeling unsure he asked, “Sir, can you give me a half plate of Dhokla please?”

Ramlal was talking as politely and softly as he could be. His tone made Rajesh look up at Ramlal properly for first time. He hesitated but understood the dilemma of the poor man standing in front of him. Nodding, he filled up the plate with half amount of Dhokla and put it on the electronic weighing machine. Ramlal was looking at the plate intently. Two pieces. That was all of ‘half a plate’. Two cubes smaller than his fist. Doing some quick thinking, he asked Rajesh to cut the Dhokla cubes in smaller pieces. Confused Rajesh obliged and cut each cube into four small pieces. Now the plate looked full. A smile appeared on Ramlal’s face as he paid for it and walked out of the shop.

Once outside the shop, he looked around and walked to the corner where his wife Rani had found an empty table. He put down the plate on the table and sat down in the chair next to her.

“Shyam beta”, he called out to his four-year old son sitting in Rani’s lap. Shyam had his both palms covering his eyes as told by his mother, waiting for the big surprise. Ramlal pulled his little hands away from his eyes and said “Here is your favorite Dhokla, a plate full of it with Chutney”. Shyam gave a whoop of joy and started clapping happily. He offered his first piece of Dhokla to his dad and then his mom, both of whom declined with a smile and asked him to go ahead. A moment later his mouth was all smeared with Dhokla as dug in his treat with both hands..

A single tear formed in Rani’s eye looking at her son so happy getting what he wanted. Ramlal caught the tear and tossed it away. Smiling at his wife he put his hand on the happy kid’s head, closing his eyes as he softly said,

“Happy Birthday, Son..”.

 

The end

The End.

I look at sky with the clouds,
and I try to remember how it looked,
when I took my first step.
I don’t remember of course,
but I am sure it was exactly the same,
glowing, blue and bright,
as it is now.

I look at the tree in my yard,
and I try to recall those days,
when I as a kid, learned to climb.
The tree is not as it was anymore,
it has, as they say, ‘become old’,
I bet it has cherished the memories,
so have I.

I look at the paved street,
and remember when I walking home,
with my arm around her.
She is not here anymore,
nor is anyone else,
waiting to meet her, soon, again,
it’s just me.

I look at the porch swing,
and I smile at my baby girl,
swinging and laughing, and calling me.
But she is not really there,
she’s just a memory, faint,
a grown woman now, with her family,
far far away.

I look at the garage,
and I walk towards my favorite car,
to find it covered in dust of years.
She’s become old too,
rusted, withered and so,
haven’t left the place for long,
neither have I.

I look at the sky again,
and start dragging myself, with a sigh,
towards my only place, my house.
No one’s there but an old maid,
who helps me keep alive,
and possibly cherish, however it is,
The end of my life.

Photo credit: Shahram Sharif @Flickr

Posted from WordPress for Android

light

It was a starry night. The rabbit looked at the tar road with weird curves going uphill. He stepped ahead. Suddenly there was a loud noise and lights. Two. Like two big Suns. He froze on the spot. Eyes wide open. Wondering. They came closer. And suddenly it was dark again. This time without stars.

bitter

He wrote a few lines and stopped. “What the hell am I doing?”, he thought.

“I just can’t think about something like that, not right now, or ever.”

He threw the paper away. Suddenly he became aware of bitter taste in his mouth.

“Just like everything else”, he thought. “Nothing but bitterness!”

 

(P.S. This is my first attempt of writing 55ers i.e. stories fit in 55 words only)

a beginning

She was waiting for her friend just inside the front gate of college. First lecture had already started five minutes back. There was no going in now as she never liked to pass in front of whole class. Who knows how many people will be looking. She thought, “I don’t look at anyone, why anyone should look at me?”

“Did we miss it?”, said a hurried voice behind her, “Ohh I am so sorry dear, I had to wait for him as my bike is broke…”

“Yeah right, your usual excu…”, she noticed where her friend was pointing and she forgot what she was saying. A guy was walking towards them after parking his bike. Carelessly playing with keys in his hand, he was walking so smoothly that it looked like he was floating towards them, and smelling so good that… she blinked. He was already close enough that she could smell him and she was still looking at him stupidly. She threw a glance at her friend who apparently had been looking down at her toes ready to be shouted at. She sighed in relief. He always had been a sweet daydream for her. From first day of college, this guy, a childhood friend of her new best friend, had been around. But he had never spoken to her much. And she had never dared to speak with him because she was afraid that she would say something extremely stupid. Her heart had fallen for him the moment she set her eyes on him. And she had no idea what to do next.

Today something was different. For the first time, he held out his hand looking into her eyes directly, smiling. She tried shaking it. But the moment she touched it, a shiver went through her body. She hoped it did not show up on her face. She never knew a touch can do so much to a person.

“Hi, I guess we have never talked much before, but I know you because of her you know”, he nodded towards their common friend.

“I.. I know you too”, she murmured. She could not believe her luck. She was finally speaking to him. And they were still holding hands. Yay. He took back his hand to find something in his jacket; she took a deep breath to control herself from going crazy with joy. He took out an envelope, with golden coloured border, picture of lord Ganesha in the centre and with title “Wedding Invitation”. She just looked at it. He continued, “I want you to be there for my wedding, after all, you are best friend of my best friend. I am buying both of you Saaries, I am sure you will look really nice in a Saari…”.

Her friend interrupted saying something she did not really hear. So long she had waited for a moment. A moment that had come finally just to be followed by something she had never thought of.

“It is a beginning…” she thought,”…. a nice beginning of an end”.

Lost…

“Ticket please”.
Does this guy know any other words? You would have said, “ He is just doing his job, sweetheart. Don’t judge him by that.”
The twinkle in your eyes would save the world one day. That ready smile you always had for anyone, TC, bus conductor, salesman, fruit seller, watchman, children, all grandmas and everyone else. It was one thing which was not mine to keep, it was for everyone. Am I talking in past tense now? Well, why not, dear, why not?

“Hey, watch it!”.
Oops, do I do that every single day? Walking headfirst into someone? You always have that effect on me. From the day we met, that effect, is the thing which makes me feel like holding on you forever. Am I making any sense? Probably not. How can one have any sense when only thing that mattered to them is gone, forever? One moment we were walking together hand in hand and the next you were gone? My life is just the bunch of moments now. Moments I remember from past, moments I miss from past, moments I want to happen, moments I miss because of memories of past. Why you had to leave so early? We were about to kick start our life. Weren’t we?

People ask, have I forgotten how and why you left me in middle of a journey? But do they really know us? We were’nt even started with the journey. And may be you left for some stupid so called real life reasons. But do I have to tarnish the best of you because of those few words? Isn’t forgetting few hurting words worthwhile if it lets you keep the stack of nicest memories free of any stains? People say I should move on. But I say move on to what? Seek someone to replace you? May be I should. But will it be same as before? Will I be able to love that person as much as I love you?

May be asking these questions is as stupid as refusing to let go of something that is not mine anymore. Only thing that refrains me from acceptingthe facts is the hollowness it would create. In my mind and in my life. No. I am not ready. I won’t give up my feelings even if I know there is no chance I will ever have you in my life again. I won’t. I won’t.

The last walk

“I think he is cheating with us..”
“Don’t talk like a human, Cissy. Uncle Messer has never lied in his life.”
“Don’t call me human please”
“Then stop barking mad”
“I am just worried about my child, thats all.”
Cissy wiped a tear off her face by her front paw before turning and going back in to under the cupboard which lay abandoned behind motor garage run by Human Fat Ass(“Thats what his friends call him when he is not looking”, Rocky told cissy once)

Rocky stood still staring at lone figure of Woodstocky standing guard in front of “The Alwa’s” gate. Woodstocy too was lost in thoughts. The rain has affected him less than the Rocky Waggle’s family but still he too suffered a considerable amount. But it was nothing as compared to Rocky’s fate. Cissy chose the same month for birth of three children (Welly,Neil and Vivi) All of them were cute and bore marks around their paws which gave a feel that they are wearing white socks.
“Colors never mattered”, Rocky had announced proudly,”Waggles are not known for their looks, are they?”.
He was true. Waggle family was well known in Dog community or say all wild community for their bravery and wisdom. Rocky has proved to be worthy of this honour and never ever gave anyone chance to question it. But today was different. Today, it was question of life and death of a child.

“Poor Welly”, Uncle Messer sighed(he was a doctor),”she is so young and delicate”.
“What do you mean, sir?”, Rocky’s voice was quivering.
“Rocky, Rocky! This rain, the food crisis had affected this child and as a result she full of fever”. Uncle Messer adjusted his tail and sighed again.
“How much time she have, sir?”,Cissy asked in a voice which shook Uncle to tears. He just tried to cover his wet eye edges.He picked up his bag in his mouth and went to door. He turned his head before leaving, glanced at sleeping Welly over his sholder once and said, “48 Hours at max”.

##########################

No one bothered to close the door behind him. When Neil and Vivi returned from market, they found Cissy and Rocky at same places Uncle Messer had left them. Cissy was little more wet. Neil tried asking what happened but Vivi shooed him out of home and followed. When they were out of earshot of dad, she whispered to Neil,”Don’t ask anything, Neil. Welly is dying.”
“What is dying?”, Neil was looking at his front nails,”Seems a bad thing, I have never seen dad so sad.”
“It must be, I just overheard Stocky uncle speaking to Stock aunty yesterday. He was saying Welly is dying, whatever it means, aunty cried for few minutes.”
Neil looked up at Vivi,”May be it means she will go and never come back. What can be more bad than this?”
Vivi shrugged and tried to put her tail under her body to keep it warm.
“Lets get in, its cold here”, she said and Neil obeyed.

##########################

“Just few paces more dear Welly, just few.”, Rocky helped her to get on to her feet. They were walking from two hours and in meantime Welly has fallen a number of times, helped by her Dad on feet everytime she fell.
“Where…..are……w…we…g..g..goi…ng?”, Welly thought sooner the walk ends, she will be able to sleep peacefully. It was weird, in the evening, Dad just asked if she fancy a walk with him and she agreed. Anyway she was feeling a bit weak from afternoon.
“A walk through grounds would be good for your health”, Cessy assured her with trembling voice.
“I don’t know but something is wrong with mum”, Welly told Rocky as they started walking towards the hill. But it felt a long long ago she left mum and grave looking Neil and Vivi. Funny, she thought, how come they didn’t bother dad for coming with us?

“Lets rest in the soil there, Welly, you will will feel better.”, Rocky was determinedly looking at anywhere but Welly. They sat on the soil. Few minutes passed in silence. Welly broke it with a soft voice,”Is it dark already dad?”. Now Rocky turned to his daughter as his heart gave a jolt at this.
“N…Yes dear, a little. Are you feeling okey?”
“Yeah dad, its…just becoming little dark….I can’t see properly.”
Rocky knew what it meant. His daughter was being silently dragged towards death. Her eyes were only half open. Her breath slow and steady.
“I feel like sleeping, dad.”
“Go ahead, dear, I am here”, he said shortly.

Welly curled up for sleeping. Rocky’s eyes filled with tears as he looked at her. Nothing is more painful for a dog than watching his own daughter die in front of his eyes. He cried silently, she even don’t know what the word death means. He watched her breath slow down, her heart slow down from her skin over the bones. Her body stopped moving slowly and he got up and walked few paces towards hill.
“Enigmoo”, he called in cracking voice. Someone ran towards him, black with tongue hanging out he asked,”Is she…? In sleep…? Oh my…? let me see….”.
Enigmoo ran towards Welly and checked her for signs of life. “Gone”, he said shortly. “Its better you brought her up here, Rocky. Otherwise her body could have caused infection to other children. Its for everyones good you know.” He patted on head of Rocky who was stiff like a pole.
“Go home and look after wife and others, Rocks, they need you there. GO!”, Enigmoo steered Rocky away. “Life and death is not in our hands, Rocks, we have to face it.”

Somewhere right to him in dark, Rocky nodded.
His eyes were dry as his lips and throat. Neil and Vivi were standing outside home absentmindedly staring at moon who had just risen over the hill Rocky just came from.

sweetest birthday gift….

It was a rainy morning. Not stormy but rainy enough to make children feel bunking school and play football in grass. Aadesh was getting ready and was looking at his mobile every other minute. “Mom must not be in doubt at any cost”, he kept reminding himself. Once he was out of home, no one will ask what he was doing so long  before returning home. It has been his strategy for nearly two months now and neither mom nor dad has doubted his frequent visits to college campus even it was holiday period.

“Come on!! Ring!!”, Aadi who was desperately staring at his mobile, blurted out aloud.
“You called me, beta ?”, mom came in the room, “and are you going somewhere?”.
“Ohh, I was about to tell you mom, Rohan just called me and asked to come to his room. He has some new CD’s….”, Aadesh was hoping he wasn’t looking too much convincing. Mom cut him and said,” Its your birthday, come home early!’ and she left for kitchen.

################################################################################

In 10 minutes, he was parking his bike at “Backside Parking” of his college. His heartbeats quickened as he looked at that spot. The spot where he first ate from her tiffin and how by mistake touched her hand and she blushed! Sweet! He smiled. Walking briskly towards the back-gate, Aadesh breathed in the familiar air full of sweet smell coming from white flowers whose name he never learned.
The ground was wearing a carpet of flowers. He walked over them swiftly and picked up a freshly fallen flower. He looked closely at it. “Small but sweet”, he thought, “I wonder if it hurts when I throw them at her….”. His mind again started circling around the memories of last few months. She never stopped smiling and giggling when he showered her with these flowers. She just loved the smell of them. She loved them because He picked them up. She loved everything of him.

He approached the corridor where they sat studying for hours on weekends and evenings. He remembered himself making excuses to come to college on holidays like inventing friends whose parents invited for tea, important Xerox of some article and many more fake ones…. Everything was meant for meeting each other and nothing mattered anymore. The place reminded him how they held each others hands first time when they met in rain one evening, how she leaned her head on his shoulder for first time when he tickled his hand through her hair, how she used to pick up tiny specks fallen on his eyelids with her tongue between teeth, how innocently she used to stare at him listening to his tells, how she had cried when someone used bad words for him, how they always met college principal being alone at back-parking and he never understood why principal gave them a smile while continuing his walk……

Aadesh jumped as the mobile rang suddenly. Leaning over railing of gallery he heard, ” I will be there in few more minutes Aadi, please wait for me”. Rain decided to resume his pace at same time Aadi sighed and thought of going towards canteen. Now he turned towards library instead and found it locked due to holidays.

A cool breeze ruffled his hair. He rested his elbows on the railing and put his chin in hands. He looking intently at hill far far away, at base of which his home was situated. Slowly, two small hands closed his eyes and someone said in his ear in a whisper, “Happy Birthday my love”.
With a rush of joy in heart he turned around and found her trying to regain her balance. She grabbed his hand slightly and made him walk with her, “How come you didn’t notice me coming this time, Aadi?”. Looking directly in her eyes, Aadi replied, “May be I wasn’t supposed to notice!”. She smiled and her eyes sparkled. Aadi’s heart missed a beat.

################################################################################

She stopped on stairs near library with a corridor behind them which was very dark and damp. He felt her hand trembling a little and turned to look at her.
She was standing two stairs up than him and that brought their heads at same level.
“What?”, he felt himself shivering on finding her so close.
“Happy Birthday my dear Aadi”, she repeated in a voice barely a whisper this time and Aadi found her closed eyes very near to his. He felt like closing his own eyes and he did so.
Both of them tightened the grip on each others hands as they came closer and closer and closer.
In an instant their trembling lips met.
Her body shivered from head to foot and so did Aadi.
For a moment both of them pulled back to breathe and again kissed. This time it was a firm. Aadi put his hand on her back and pulled her little close. She wrapped her tiny hands around his neck
First kiss in life has its own effects.
And Aadi was having his sweetest birthday gift ever.

################################################################################

Was it a dream? Really?

“Good night mom”

He threw the the mobile aside pulling the blanket over the head. It was a very dark night. Presence of clouds in sky made it so dark.
Being alone in the flat(“partner went home yesterday”, as he told his mom) was not a very interesting thing to do. No one to talk for 2 whole days(face to face) makes you feel weird sometimes.

***************************************

He was feelingchilly air rushing and ruffling his hair. “Ohh, where is my winter-cap?”, he thought and without noticing the wind stopping suddenly, stretched his hand to his right and picked up the cap. Pulling it over his head he looked ahead and gave a start. He was facing nothing but black. It was like going blind. Also there wasn’t any noise at all. Nothing except his heavy breath. Suddenly, he realized how hard it was to breathe there. Desperate for air, he violently waved his hands and tried to throw the damn blackness away.

In a moment he felt fresh air-breeze soothe him. but it was different from previous one. This time, the freshness made him close his his eyes with pleasure. Or may be his eyes were never open at all. The thought felt weird but he wasn’t bothered about it as he breathed in this air.
“This air”, he asked himself, “isn’t it familiar?”
He tried opening eyes and closed them again as bright light blinded his vision momentarily. He tried again looking for the light source. This time he found no blindingly bright light. Things were very dimly lit. Opening his eyes fully, he noticed that there was a half-spherical lamp hung to a porch with big doorbell button under it and a wooden polished door beside it.

It took a moment for him to realize what he was actually looking at. It was front door of a house.

A very familiar house!! “Hang on!”, it was his home!!! Wasn’t he the one who installed this light? How can he forget it!!!
He was only a step away from his own home. He was only a step away from his mother who probably will pull his cheeks any moment asking why he was late. But something felt wrong. Somehow, he was feeling blank. He remembered nothing. His mind felt numb. Nothing was stirring. After a moment, he tried looking at his left to check for the gate of stairs leading to terrace was closed or not. Unaware of his own action, he again waved his left hand in the direction he wanted to see.

“Noooo!!!”. Head buzzing, breaths heavy and heart thumping like it never did, he was shivering from head to foot. His heart beats were now audible even over his own heavy breaths.
“No!!! It can’t be real. I was in my flat last moment I remember. No. It can’t be true, how can I…!!”

Something was buzzing, vibrating, making noise. He never realized when view changed and now he was looking at nothing at all. Stretching his hand for the object that disturbed the silence, he closed fingers around a small vibrating object emitting white light.
“Ohh, its just my mobile I threw on the Nik’s bed….”, he thought.
As soon as he reached the words “Nik’s bed”, suddenly, way too much noise penetrated his ears. He gave a start and woke up. Opening his eyes for real first time this night, he found himself in his bed, in a room at least 200 Km away from his home. Sweat trickled down from forehead, his head completely wet with it.

***************************************
His heart was still thumping. He looked around him. Clock showed 02.00 am. His blanket was lying at bed’s feet, his winter-cap hanging about-to-fall on his wet head, the Ceiling fan spinning itself madly making quite a racket. Anti-Mosquito liquid machine on wall front of him shone very brightly, the only light source in the room.
He switched the tube-light ON.
Drinking some water from his bottle, a very creepy thought twirled in his mind…,

” Was it really a dream????”