The Time I Survived

Yesterday, I felt my end was near.

There was a sharp, shooting pain that took birth from my ear till my chest. Numbing my face, making it difficult to speak. 

Fear rose in my chest, leaving the tiny red beast within the confines of my rib cage in a tizzy. Deep breaths. Deep breaths. Yet, I could feel it. My end was near. 

There was a serene acceptance. Almost embracing the fate that seemed sealed within the confines of my mind.  

I wondered if you would remember me. I wondered if you will look at my typed out words, resting in your phone and feel loved. I wondered, if my words would help you feel cherished. I wondered if you could finally feel me next to you.

The day sailed by, without any physical incident to the little red beast. It was still beating. By night, it slept restlessly. 

Then there was dawn. 

I had survived.

But my words still hung on in your phone with a silent hope in my being that those words would still have an effect on you, which I cannot define.

About a Long Affair

As soon as the bus halts at my stop, I find myself rushing to cross the road. Forgetting my fear of crossing roads. Rushing like a mad woman to climb the three tiny steps and stand next to this jolly man with his hair parted in the centre. Just this. The man with the magical stall of wonder. My Pani Puri walla.

He nods his greeting and silently thrusts a small bowl made out of dried leaves in my hand. He puts on his gloves, takes a puri from the stacked heap, cracks it open, fills it with masala aloo, dips it in the spicy tangy paani and places it gently on my bowl. 

The first Puri, when it touches my tongue and cracks open in my mouth, the flavours explode! Melting away all the frustration and stress of the day. I feel comforted. Sometimes, this spicy beauty soothes my soul better than the saccharin words of my dearest friend.

The flavour brings out the vivid colours of the darkening night skies, and as it starts refreshing my soul I can finally hear things around me. Till then it’s just my Pani Puri walla filling my bowl with my beloved street food, comforting me silently, without understanding the chaos in my mind. 

By the end of maybe ‘one plate’ or even two, I don’t even feel guilty about my indulgence. 

Rather, I feel happy. Content. Comforted.

Always!

That Sweet Lullaby

The mother held her baby in her arms as she rocked her gently. She sang that sweet lullaby in her soothing, gentle voice. Her dream of wanting to be a singer was fulfilled. She had an eager audience. Her daughter calmed down. Her breathing became regular. Her eyes heavy, until it was unbearable to keep them open anymore. She was finally asleep. But the mother continued to sing. Repeating the verses, enjoying the lyrics as she imagined dedicating each words to her daughter. Singing her emotions to her. Till the song slowly faded on her lips. Her eyes rested with the trailing verses. 

The day came to an end. Another battle won. All that mattered was her baby daughter in her arms.

Is Everything Fine?

He had seen it. It was supposed to be an unmentionable incident. Yet, he reached out to her and asked her, “Is everything fine?” 

She ignored his question, doubting his concerns. Avoided him at all cost. But his persistence to know couldn’t match her will to stay aloof and she broke her silence and said a feeble, “Yes, thank​ you for asking.” It only took her three days to look him in the eye with the answer on her lips. Even if a white lie, which he knew, he seemed to let her easy.

Maybe, he really did care. Maybe he just wanted to know the story. Her mind raced again, overthinking on full swing. This and the incident. Taking control over her and her mind. Her heart raced. That familiar unease. The familiar irrational fear gripped her.

She reached out for that tiny pill in her bag and popped it in her mouth. Waiting for the med to kick in. She closed her eyes as it slowly took over and eased the anxiety that had gripped her soul. Unaware that he was still watching her.

His voice steady he asked, “Promise me you’ll not take too many? Promise you’ll never abuse it?”

Startled, she opened her eyes. 

Calm. She assured him and realised he really did care. Warmth seeped in her heart. The effect complete. Sealing the trust in the growing friendship.

Everything was certainly fine.

Her Time Turner

She sat up staright, took his hand in hers and grasped them tight. She looked straight in his eyes and asked him with a hopeful tone, “Will you take me back? Will you remind me who I was? Will you help me find the pieces of myself? Will you help me remember? Everything we did and how we laughed…”

Her voice trailed away, wondering if he could understand the urgency in her voice. The unbearable loss of control over her memories. The slow decay of her essence. The first signs of Alzheimer’s beginning to show.

He pulled her close, and wrapped his arms around her tightly. And he began, “Remember that day we went to the beach, and you insisted on…”

“He can fix anything”, she thought with a smile as she closed her eyes and listened to her stories with him. His voice bringing out the faint memories. “Maybe, he can bring me back too.” 

He was her relaxant to her anxiety.

He helped her breathe.

Mindnight Lullaby

The room was dark. She had just closed her eyes in an attempt to fall asleep. But suddenly there​ was a gush of strong breeze. The curtain rose in the air, sending the wind chimes in a tizzy. And then she heard someone jump. Startled, her eyes opened with a start.

She consoled herself that it was her mind playing dirty tricks again to steal her sleep. Stopped the anxiety before it burst out of control.

The breeze blew again bringing a relief on this night of hot summer. The wind chimes tinkling in a rhythm. Lulling her back to sleep. 

Her eyes drooped shut.

All was silent again.

That One Kiss

She would rush around the rooms of her house, her mind swirling in turmoil. Her elder daughter’s marriage was failing. Her younger daughter refused to settle down. She found no comfort in her husband’s words, rather they flared up her temper even more. So she rushed around, busied herself in work. She overworked at her hospital as a consultant. Her patients choosing her over other doctors, because of her soft, patient and sweet nature, provided her no comfort. This success was nothing. She threw herself at the kitchen to not let her thoughts overtake her sanity. Her home was where she could be herself. Even if she held herself back, she was herself. Her impatience, her irritation and her tiredness would spill out in her tone. 

This one day when her daughters were going out together they saw her brows crossed. She had her hands on her hips as she came at the door to close after them. The younger daughter called for the lift. Neither of the daughters would dare, but the younger one pushed the door open while her mother was closing it. She looked annoyed. The daughter rushed near her and planted a kiss on her right cheek and ran off to a safe distance near the lift.

The kiss seemed to melt her bitterness away. Her brows were uncrossed and she couldn’t help herself and she gave a reluctant albeit a big smile. 

For a while, in that moment, everything was perfect and fine again. 

That One Hug

They stood on the porch at four hours past midnight, as their paths awaited to be diverged again. Their adventure had come to an end. With time, the familiarity that the distance had deprived them of, was discovered in an unknown land. With time, the comfort of being themselves with each other had fallen in comfortably like that one missing puzzle of a jigsaw.

When it was time to say their goodbyes, he held his hand forward while she glared at his formality. She opened her arms timidly and he took a step forward and gave her a hug. This was not a drunken state of mind hug. This was a conscious hug. And his hug conveyed everything that maybe his words couldn’t for the last three years of knowing each other over long distance.

That one hug, opened up a box of suppressed emotions in her. But she hid her face in the dark as she saw him sit in the car and head towards the airport. She walked away towards the elevator before he could see her again from his car.

But that one hug…

The pretense icicles in her heart had melted. There was acceptance of deep attachment to another human being. She was overwhelmed and surprised with the enormity of the feelings she had for him.

She held back the dry tears that threatened to break from her eyes. She thought maybe sleep will make it easy to bear. Maybe sleep will make the ‘momentary’ feeling wash away, she thought. She went and slept on his freshly made bed.

The morning after dark was cloudy with light drizzles. The enormity of being able to feel so deeply had still successfully caught on with her as she boarded her cab towards the airport. She confided in her friend, who sat next to her with her arms on her shoulder, as she began to understand that she was simply missing him. She had gotten used to the unasked assurance from him. The unasked fulfilled promise of being by her side, no matter how, when she needed him the most. She had gotten used to his presence around her during their adventure together. As her friend held her, she let go of her pride and felt hot tears flow freely from her eyes.

It was finally the acceptance of a beautiful bond that they shared – friendship. It was a pure, unadulterated, unselfish, maybe a little selfish, friendship. It was the acceptance of letting go of her controlled boundaries and acknowledge the special place he held in her life. It was this acceptance that made her determine to make an attempt to show her emotions like he did with her all the time.

To be honest, she had taken a while to realize the emotions of his hug. Once the feeling of his arms around her shoulders was gone, only thing that remained was the warmth that he had left behind. Maybe this was their last goodbye after all.

The Adventures of a Bluejay

The river flowed peacefully, reflecting the shimmering golden hues. The Bluejay spread it’s wings wide in joy as it glided over the vastness of the river, enjoying its crystal clear pureness. This was better than a dream. It felt like it is a free soul. A soul in a quest to explore. The vibration in its wings emaneted the power within.

It flew dangerously close, taking in everything the nature had to offer. Then suddenly, it saw something. At the corner of the river lay a crocodile with its mouth wide open. Resting. Minding its own business.

The Bluejay felt a feeling rise in it. That feeling was boosting its confidence, slowly tipping towards arrogance. The Bluejay scooped a stone in its break and threw in the crocodile’s mouth. The stone lodged itself in the crocodile’s throat, causing the poor beast to choke and choke. It chocked till it pushed the stone out of its throat with a powerful cough. The Bluejay snickered and flew away from the scene before the crocodile recovered and realised what hit it.

Was there a little bit of arrogance, the observer wondered. What had overcome the gentle Bluejay? Was the arrogance because of its smooth sailing success that caused it to belittle the crocodile on the shore?

But the questions had to wait.

The Bluejay kept flying, now with its eyes closed. Letting the wind take it wherever it blew. And soon enough, the Bluejay bumped into a wall and was on the other side of the world.

It was a world where it’s legs were chained in an invisible cage. It was a world where it was controlled at the whims of the unseen voices. The Bluejay was subjected to sadism by making it a playing of a boy who loved to beat up his toys.

Karma smiled.

The Bluejay wished for the other side of the wall, to see the river again. It flapped it’s wings, struggling to break the chain, desperate to breathe in the air of the world he was thrown away from. To feel the familiarity of success and ease of acceptance that came along with it.

The Bluejay promised to remember humility if it broke free and gave a powerful tug to loosen the links in the chain. But the chain wouldn’t budge. The lesson and its essence were being stubborn and insisted to live bounded to the Bluejay’s feet. Forever. A glaring reminder. Maybe that will keep it down, the observer thought.

The Bluejay felt the its energy ebb out. It felt the weight of its own past action beginning to sink in. It felt like a terrible dream.

“But I’m not that person!”, the Bluejay cried and it finally opened its eyes. The Bluejay found itself perched on a branch of a tree on the riverside. The river still flowed peacefully, now reflecting a subdued orange hue of the setting sunlight.

A dream had opened its eyes. It was a much needed humbling fall after an aggressive rise. Saving the Bluejay from falling into its worst fears of turning into something that it couldn’t itself recognise at all.

Him, Her and Her Journey

He stood with his legs apart, his hands on his hips. He stood there in the middle of no where. Maybe he was in the middle of a desert. Maybe in he was in the middle of a national highway. Maybe. Right there in the middle, he stood on her way, patiently. Waiting to greet her.

She saw him. Panic gripped her heart. The space within the confines of her car seemed to suffocate her. She wanted to burst out of the door and at the same time wanted to stay in the pretense security of the four metallic doors. Her hands tightened on the wheels and she pressed the accelerator to keep moving.

But, he stood there, wordlessly demanding her to slow down.

“Do I have a choice?”, she asked herself as she slowly brought her car to halt. He was there on the other side of the door. Her hands still on the wheels, she slowly turned her head and looked at him. His face bore no signs of emotions. His eyes, yellow in colour with a small dot for pupil, spoke loud and clear. The black soot that he had spread around his eyes with his fingers added to the ferocity of his steady, cold gaze.

She was trapped in the confines of her fear. Her mind drew a blank. The flight response seemed to start kicking into her. Yet, she sat there, facing her storm.

“Would he cease to exist if I close my eyes?”, she wondered.

“Would he disappear if I breathe in slowly and deeply?”

“Would he ever go away?”

Her heart raced. He had managed to control her. He was successful in making her forget about her journey.

Her head started spinning. A bead of sweat broke on her forehead.

“Breathe!” she reminded herself.

She started begging for him to go away as panic gripped the core of her soul.  At that moment, an agnostic prayed for things to be fine again.

Her eyes remained tightly shut. She knew now she had two choices, as usual. One – to let him, her fear, crush her to nothingness and let him hold her hand and take her into depression. Two – face him head on, confront him, accept him and fight him, and continue with her journey.

“Breathe!”

What would you do?

And then, she opened her eyes and…