Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Dream's Finally Coming True...

It has been more than seven years...not a long time, considering how quickly life goes by these days. But, surely a long time, when I think of it as the span for which I have been writing. I still remember the trepidation, the nervousness of sitting in front of a blank sheet of paper, trying to pen down my thoughts for the first time...

Seems like a distant memory that I want to go back to, over and over; just to experience the same nervousness, the same gushing flow of thoughts that threatened to break the dams of my soul. All those instances when arcane inspirations, muses, and emotions translated into words, have now been given an opportunity to be compiled; to coexist.

My first anthology of poems titled "Murmurs in the Dark" is due to be released soon, and I credit this to everyone who has been a part of my life as a writer; my family, friends, acquaintances from the blogosphere some of whom were close to me despite not having met them...every one.

Will update this space soon, when the book releases...

Monday, March 10, 2014


This was written as a response to a challenge that required writing something on the colour Red.
        What a colour! Deep, melliflous, flowing like an incessant river, peaceful on the surface but possessing a potent undertow. Yes, thats what it was...the colour red.

        He had always had an affinity to that colour right from the start, but that day it just became something much more! He had been dreaming that day...or was it had been so very vivid. There she was standing, on that a crimson red dress. Oh, yes; crimson red, such beauty in that colour...the glow reaching her face making it almost seem incandescent, like a divine angel walking the face of this earth. With outstretched arms she had beckoned him; a simple act, yet so seductive that he found his feet carrying him into her arms. He melted there. When their lips met, it was a pleasure like no other, where a thousand emotions cascaded through his mind, flowing with excitement through his heart, and ending up pooling in his soul, where they formed a tumultuos sea of feelings; the waves of which crashed again and again on the walls of his heart, reverberating through his entire body. The night was chilly but her embrace was as warm as a cozy blanket, and as she nestled her head against his chest, he lost himself in the lovely curls of her frizzled hair which appealed so much to him.

        And then with him standing there with his eyes closed, she had left him. And as his eager gaze darted about to sight her, she was walking out over the sea. He tried calling out, but somehow his voice failed him. He lost his ability to move, his feet stuck as if in quicksand; he dropped to his knees. She was already out onto the sea, she gave him a final look, an angelic smile...and dissolved in shimmers which twinkled bright red and then disappeared in an infinite red mist.

        Unlike his voice, his tears did not fail him. His eyes clouded over and agonizing pain trickled down his face, hot colourless pain...the pain of losing someone who meant the world to him, in whose company he didn't care about anything else. Someone who took away a piece of him, his dreams, hopes, and almost everything else. The world turned a shade of black which increased in magnitude with every passing instant. He rolled over and fainted...

        Eyes wide open, he had lived it again. As on many other nights, that dream or nightmare was clear as day. He was so confounded; an imaginary act so powerful that one part of it made his heart want to live it endlessly, eternally; and the other part so cruelly painful that he cringed even at the thought of it. A dilemma that had no answer; just the lone option of living through it, with it.

        He walked to the window and stared outside. The world looked peaceful; a stark contrast to the insides of him which were heaving like a sea in the middle of a violent hurricane. The world stared back at him with red eyes. Everything after that day had been imbued with a red tinge...crimson red. He dressed and walked out, gazing at the crimson hues of the red flowers, the red colour of the buildings, the red of the just rising sun. The sea was blood red and moving anxiously. People milled about, a bright crimson shade of red. Monochrome - how that word stuck to him; except that his world had only one colour, which flowed, superfluous, imposing itself on his mind, painting his soul, and with that, tainting his dreams...

        He walked on, shaking his head at the strange numbness, which almost infallibly accompanied this feeling, and disappeared in a red haze...

The Garden of Nightmares

Listless, he sat up on his bed as the nightmares metamorphosed into sweat beads slowly dripping over his visage. Every single night he had been haunted...haunted by a past that seemed so painful to him, that a hurt in the present would not cause the same agony as this arcane throbbing that emanated from his core and resonated through his body. His arms reflexively wrapped around himself to try and weather the shivers that rocked him to the bone.

          That delicate necklace on his bedside table seemed to taunt him…an ugly token...a memoir that he so wished to do away with and yet knew somehow, somewhere a part of his soul lay embedded in it. The fear of losing himself, his sanity was the reason the ornament stayed where it was. Innumerable were the times when he had held it in his hands and felt her pulse...the strange thrumming inside him as if she were right there around him, beside him...cocking her head to one side as she always did while looking at him...and then disintegrated into mist right before his eyes. His ears still rung from the scream she let out when that semi hit her car.

          He shut his eyes tight as if to block out the heart-wringing vista that had been imprinted in his if his mind, his soul had been branded by time; a sigil left so clear that its purpose seemed to persist till eternity. He staggered up from the bed, holding out an arm to prop himself up against the wall. Alcohol hadn't helped either. Initially it was faithful to its promise of blunting the edges of the blade that cut into his core. But, with time, the addiction rose and the remedial value perished to unknown depths. All that the numerous swigs of liquor achieved were a burning sensation as the liquid coursed down his innards and the total nonchalance and disregard for the present state of events. His bedraggled appearance too, didn't perturb him whenever the mirror was bestowed a rare and involuntary glance.

          This wasn't a battle to regain lost wasn't a fray whose goal was to forget...The real struggle was to comprehend the situation. It seemed an insurmountable challenge for him to let go...that life beyond her, beyond their time could hold meaning, could hold substance...could actually be worth living! And yet there was the burning desire to break away, to hold true to the ideals that they both had practiced, that they had been so happy to share and find in common...the ideals of independence. The fact that life with or without someone always had something to teach them...there was always a mystic value attached to things that only a keen eye could discover and decipher. Constant replays of their conversations over seemingly random subjects ran over and over in his ears, impossible to shut out...her voice soothing, and yet carrying with it the realization that was all there was left of her - her voice...her touch...her face; all in his memories. By now he had lost count of the number of lifelike scenes that re-staged themselves inside him, their vividness mesmerizing him, drawing him within himself, such that the entanglement was beyond solution. Such that the interlaced thread of memories bound him tight unwilling to set him free.

          On wobbly feet, he dragged himself to the kitchen and took deep swallows of cold water from the refrigerator. The liquid sizzled down his warm skin as the beads of sweat intermingled with water and streaked away to nothingness. His gaze fell on to the make-shift garden that had adorned their apartment until some time ago. The barren soil broke his heart as the dim moonlight inter-playing with the melancholy darkness of the night brought back nostalgic visions of flourishing plants and saplings. The night cast bizarre shadows across the small open space and he could almost see her flitting around caressing the once blooming roses and geraniums. He swiped his calloused hand across his face in a desperate attempt to ward away the alluring phantasm and was surprised to see the back of his palm come away wet. Tears were a rarity with him...had always been.

          As if an epiphany had occurred, he stood straight, defiant, willing the hurt to subside. He strode over to his bed-side and gingerly picked up the necklace, the familiar symptoms of her being materializing around him. He grasped it firmer and pushed himself towards the garden. The austere small space had suddenly seemed a metaphor for his soul which was starkly desolate, devoid of all human touches, of emotions. He dug into the soil without a care as the hard clumps broke his skin bruising, scraping him, digging a deep hole into the soil. He took a final look at her last memoir, shut his eyes tight to imprint it into his memory, and shoved it into the hole! He piled back the soil that he had dug out and fell back on the ground. Somewhere inside a dam seemed to have broken as tears fell freely on the hard ground, staying as a drop for an ephemeral instant and then disappearing as the soil yielded and absorbed them. His soul was transmuting into something similar, the pain was being absorbed and was disappearing somewhere inside...releasing him of the barbed emotional bonds that had bound his heart and hurt him with every debilitating beat.

          He stood up and found a trowel from the corner-shed. Getting to his knees he started digging the soil around the spot where their life lay, metamorphosed into a material trinket that somehow held every moment inside its metallic countenance! Tears and sweat welled up and streaked down as he furiously dug in and in a few hours the entire place was ready for a new beginning. This would again be the garden that once was...and so would his soul. He would nourish it back to health with her memories and ensure it stayed happy. Because somewhere, he knew she would be happy to see him that way too! The first glowing rays of the dawn nodded their approval and a hint of smile played on his face after a long time.


Published in N-zine, July 2010 Issue 

          Aimless footsteps trod the worn asphalt, dusty tar beaten to an unrecognizable countenance! The vestiges of a mundane day were slowly fading into the darkness that imposed itself with alacrity on a world oblivious to all simple things…simple things, such as the relief of walking all alone, discovering every street corner, every nook and every cranny in a new way.

The last few people drained away into the water holes of their homes; like water muddied from its frivolous travel through variegated terrain flows away into the storm drains. A verisimilitude of silence descended on the world that if a vacuum had pervaded a sanctimonious place that had been marked off bounds. This was the time of the day I loved, for it gave me the immensely alluring sense of freedom to observe the world at leisure; as it cooled down from being over-worked through the day. It allowed me to get my bearings right...helped me contemplate on my role in the grander scheme of things or the bigger picture as they call it. And helped me dream...with my eyes wide open!

          But, there was something different about this night. Sultry as ever, it was loaded with an intense kind of anticipation, as if it harboured a secret; a surprise that was to be revealed. And as if providing me with an affirmative answer, the heavens echoed the first menacing rumble of an approaching shower. The breeze picked up with that familiar wet scent of rain, acting like pheromones luring my soul into the realm of dreamy ecstasy....acting like a catalyst that made my heart beat faster than normal....and made my mind conjure dreams of the most arcane kind! Keeping pace with the beat of my heart, the dark clouds omnipresent but indiscernible against the deep black of the night; tore open their souls.....and drops of rain sprinted down towards the ground....leaving a wet mark on anything that came in their ephemeral memento of their visit to earth. The whole eclectic mix of the cool water on my brazen face and the euphoric freedom of being alone to experience this mesmerizing vista that mother nature had created; tipped me over into a trance...the kind which generates psychedelic illusions...coupled with the state of being semi-awake to the real world and still acting as if in a séance...the mind playing tricks in all its grandeur!

          And there she was...the most beautiful illusion my mind could every muster. She slowly emerged from the dark shadows...into the pale glow of the street lights. Arms raised, face upturned trying to garner every drop of that mystical shower into her embrace. Motionless I stood, gazing at her as if the whole universe was centered on her, in her.....within her beautiful soul! She performed a slow pirouette…an amazing little mesmerizing act that wound my heart into uttering a soft sigh. Watching her there, in the rain, without a care in the world was one dream I would never want to wake up from. And then she turned and smiled at me...tip-toed over to take my hand and lead me below the fading glow of the lamp. We moved to the rhythm created by the incessant patter of drops on the tarmac...a soulful melody whose notes were only understood by us.

The intense black of the night was split by forks of lightning. I could sense the shiver that ran down her spine every time thunder rumbled; a metaphor for the tumultuous sea of emotions that heaved in my heart, straining against its walls! All around me, my dreams encaged in the prison of raindrops, found a release from their captivity as they struck the earth.....found salvation! I saw us surrounded by the mute spectres of my dreams…all incandescent with hope...hope that stemmed from her...made me want to live...and dream...and never leave her! If only I could convince her to stay...if I could only say:

Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
En wrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams!

          The last few drops of rain took their final plunge to fulfill their destiny...and I opened my eyes to see her evanesce from my embrace...shiny wet shimmers that gleamed in the night for a moment before disappearing into nothingness. She was my dream...that I lived more than I ever did in the real world. Every second of this dream that I lived with my open eyes...seemed etched in my memory...seemed equal to eons. My mind ended its frivolity, and I woke up from my stupor...the mirage had vanished, but every intimate detail was still vivid in my if branded in, leaving a seared mark. And to convince myself, I cupped my hands to collate the last few beads of those dreamdrops...sole souvenirs of the rain of my dreams!

PS: The Poem is by W.B.Yeats (He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven) from the collection of poems titled The Wind Among the Reeds, 1899.

Déjà vu!

A first draft of a story that was written quite some years ago, when I was still coming to terms with writing...

     The movie was wonderful. I did not regret my decision to watch it alone. All my friends had been busy with something or the other and could not make it. I was desperate to watch it and as it was the last show for the week I went ahead with my decision.
It was late in the night. I came out into the parking lot, straddled my bike and started the long journey home. The theatre was quite a long distance from my place. I was riding along at a comfortable speed, humming a song from the movie. The street lights were out and the road was enveloped in darkness. The dark brooding night didn't help the atmosphere at all. In fact, I felt it was a bit too dark. But living in Mumbai made you numb to certain situations. You became used to the "in"efficiency of the civic bodies.

        I continued on my way ahead and then it struck me. The lights in all the homes in the buildings around were out. Also the large hoardings, that otherwise shone so brightly and cast a glow around them were unlit. They looked derelict and foreboding, sticking out into the night at awkward angles. It also struck me as odd, that even though it was late in the night, there wasn’t a soul on the streets! The way ahead was pitch black with only my bike's headlight throwing a swab of white light into the looming darkness. It gave me a nervous feeling. The fact that my vision was restricted to the boundaries of this small beam of light made me apprehensive.

        Suddenly, my bike's light picked up a prone form lying on the ground a small distance away from me. I stopped my bike, but kept the engine running. It looked human alright. With the increasing amount of road crimes, I wasn't sure if I should approach and see what the matter was!

        But I made up my mind and was about to get off my bike to pursue the matter, when I saw something that chilled my spine. A pair of shining eyes appeared, just outside the edge of the light globe that my bike was casting on the prostrate form. My limbs didn’t seem to respond but somehow I turned my bike's handlebars so that the light was cast in the direction of those ghastly eyes.

        What I saw was something that I cannot possibly describe in words. It was a creature so appalling that it looked a personification of the devil himself. It slowly lifted its round head and I got a glimpse of what a horrifying face actually looks like! It opened its jaw to reveal a pair of long canines which shone bright red as if they had been dipped in fresh blood. I sat on my bike rooted to the spot with none of my senses working! The only thought coursing through my mind was that this was bound to be the last day of my life!

The creature slowly sniffed the air, its wide nostrils flaring as it caught the scent of a human! ME! It slowly started moving towards me, its gait unlike any living being I had ever seen. As it neared me, my breath exceeded its normal limit and my heart thudded against my chest threatening to burst out! It was a few feet away from me when Adrenaline kicked in and my senses jarred back awake. I rammed my bike into gear and twisted the throttle all the way up causing the bike to spring forward. The creature lunged for me, its claws almost reaching my back. But the bike accelerated and I escaped by a hair's breadth. I didn't loosen my grip on the throttle until I was sure that I was a good distance away from the creature.

        Then in the distance I heard a guttural cry, so piercing and shrill that there was no doubt that it wasn't human. As if that cry wasn't scary enough I heard answering cries emanating from different directions. I sped up my bike and shot towards my home. I parked my bike and dashed up the stairs. As I lived alone I had the keys with me. My fingers trembled and the keys jangled in my hand as I struggled to find the keyhole in the darkness. Finally, after what seemed an eon I managed to thrust the key into the keyhole and almost broke through the door. I latched up the door and raced to my room. I drew close all the curtains and sat on the bed with fear.

        The silence was eerie. It almost threatened to engulf me. It then struck me that my apartment was unnaturally silent. The after effects of the adrenaline flow and the events that had transpired were catching up with me. I was shivering partly with fear and partly due to exhaustion. I fell asleep sitting there on the bed with my back to the wall.

        Sometime later in the night I woke up with a start because I thought heard something. I strained my eyes in the dark to try and identify the source of the sound but couldn't do it. Outside I could still hear the silence being broken only by the unearthly screams of those damned creatures. I swung around to get off the bed and then my eyes fell on the shape crouching at the foot of my bed. It was a sight that I had seen earlier in the night. The same horrifying creature was now crouched there in my room. The same pair of shining eyes looked at me. The jaw opened into what looked like a devilish grin which seemed to seal my fate. It started reaching out for me. I tried to cry for help but my voice failed me. The macabre, ghastly entity standing in front of me drained out my will to survive. I managed to scream as its claws reached my side. And then darkness engulfed me................

        I woke up to the sound of my cell phone alarm ringing incessantly pleading to be put on snooze! I sat up and checked myself. I could see bright sunlight streaming in through the windows. Outside I could hear the normal bustle as people went about their daily chores. I thanked God that it had only been a nightmare. But it had seemed so real, so vivid. I could still visualize the creature standing in front of me and its sharp claws inching towards me. I shook my head to try and clear my mind. Weeks passed after that incident and established routine continued.

        Then some time later, a long awaited movie released. Due to some extra responsibilities at my workplace I couldn't see it. But I couldn't resist the urge to catch the movie. I called up my friends for some company, but most of them had either already watched it or were busy.

        Desperate as I was, I decided that I would watch it alone. It was a late night show. The movie was wonderful. I did not regret my decision of going alone for it. I started my bike and sped towards my home. I was humming a song from the movie. It seemed odd to me that I seemed very comfortable with the lyrics even though I had heard it for the first time. And then a couple of blocks away I saw that the streets were engulfed in darkness, the streetlights obviously not working.

        And then realization dawned on me. It was happening for real. Or was this a dream too, a nightmare? Or was it Deja Vu...