I had a strange dream. That I was marooned on an island, all alone. The ship lay in tatters, half sunk. Suddenly I heard an unearthly scream and it was coming from the ship. I ran to it, wading into the sea, when I saw a figure appear on the deck. To my horror, the figure was me and in the next instant I was on the deck crying out to someone on the shore. I woke up to find myself strapped to the hospital bed. Tubes all over. My wife was standing beside me. She was smiling!
As I rolled the joint, I was thinking how many times I have fought the urge during the last few days. I don't think I am an addict. I can stop this any time. Just this once, I want to feel the thick fumes inside my body , soothing my nerves and taking me to a wonderful, colourful world. As I was searching for my matches, a kid , about 12 years old, ran up to me and asked, "Hey, do you have matches?" I looked at him wondering whether he was my own reflection from the past. .
Who should I be today? A Hindu, a Christian or a Muslim? As I was contemplating on what pendant to wear today, I heard a familiar voice calling my name from downstairs. “Hey Langda”, you will be dropped near church street today. “I need minimum Rs 2000 from you by the end of the day”, the voice bellowed. Soon, before sunrise, I found myself in front of the big white church. Just then the temple bells started to ring from across the street. Unknowingly I brought my palms together in veneration. The irony brought a smile to my lips. .
She ditched him for his fair-skinned friend. Nahida, the love of his life. As Ahmed was climbing the stairs of the old mosque near the Madrasa, he started to think. Why did god create him this way, dark and ugly? Everything was OK until that ill-fated day when he expressed his love for her. Ahmed stepped on to the ledge on the terrace and looked below to see the familiar black and white tiled floor. With a silent prayer on his lips, he took a step forward. Blood splattered on the tiles, both black as well as white..
I was into my daily evening stroll on the beach, the effervescent water caressing my feet every now and then, when I noticed an object lying a few feet ahead of me. It was an empty vodka bottle. I picked it up and noticed that there was a strip of paper inside it. I opened the cap and extricated the paper rather bemusedly. Four innocuous words, “You are a Genie,” were written on it. I read the message again and thought to myself, “Am I?" As I was contemplating, a gentle breeze blew through, whispering in affirmation. .
The school bag was kind of heavy today. Kiran, who was walking beside me, had an idyllic smile on his face. We were supposed to meet the guy near that deserted dockyard. I could smell the sea as we got near the place. There, in the shadows of a ramshackle boat, stood our stranger. On reaching he surreptitiously passed on a packet which I safely deposited in my bag. Then he gave a small pack to Kiran. “A test dose for you boys,” he said and left. An exhilarated Kiran turned to me and said, “Let’s do it”! .
It was raining heavily. I called up Ravi and told him that I won’t be doing this dirty job again. I need to take care of my family. Need to exorcise the wrath of those innocent people whom I have oppressed for money. Enough is enough! By the time I reached the hospital I was totally drenched. The ward was crowded. I saw my father standing near a bed at the farthest corner. When he saw me, his face hardened. ”It’s a baby girl,” he said. I just looked at the wrapped gift from god and smiled.
10 years of courtship and still I fail to understand you! I have been flagrantly neglected and ridiculed by your family every time and you still turn a blind eye towards it! I was too engrossed in my thoughts when I felt a hand on my shoulder. I looked up to see Karan peering down on me. He just pulled me up. Amidst the unruly waves reflecting in his eyes, I saw flashes of love and adoration. As we stood staring at each other, the frothy water washed our feet clean, as if performing an act of catharsis, of purgation. .
I clasped her hand a little too tightly, not wanting to let go. Pia, I am going to miss you so much. Every time I look at her, she gives me a very reassuring smile and hugs me. I have to tell her that I am leaving tomorrow. Days of loneliness and desolation await me. I know that I have some peculiarities, quintessential of an aging man. But don’t we all have our own inadequacies and idiosyncrasies? As I stooped to kiss her forehead, she turned to me with a despondent face and asked innocuously, “When is your train, dada”?.
Everyone had forlorn looks on their faces. The strong wind billowing through the trees breathed life into the lush green fields. Even the bird’s cacophony was sounding mellifluous today. We all stood staring at the expanse of nature’s beauty in front of us, which is soon going to be decimated. The land has been leased to a big construction company. The work will start tomorrow and the area cordoned off. Our meeting point. Our playground. The source of our creative musings. We stood there for what seemed like eternity, refusing to leave, relishing every moment..
I have sinned. In that nebulous haze of anger, I have bludgeoned a man to death. The sight of his motionless body lying in a pool of blood still haunts me. The aftermath of a drunken brawl. That was a long time ago. 25 years, to be precise. And now from the dark confines of prison, I have been given a new lease of life. Freedom!
As the train was hooting and chugging along, my disjointed memories were getting connected. The picturesque landscape whizzing past ushered in an elusive happiness. I'm coming home !.
I am going to find you today monu. I know you are out there somewhere, mislaid amidst the endless stretch of the mighty blue ocean. If not for that pointless altercation that I had with you on that fateful morning over some inconsequential matter, I would have accompanied you my dear son. But fear not I'm coming to get you.
Suddenly I see two hands pop up from underwater. Crying aloud I dive into the icy water. In the engulfing darkness and silence I hear a familiar laugh. A hand stretches out towards me.
I was sitting and closely watching the communion. Everyone had a black thing on their body and was hugging each other in complete merriment. They all looked like those grotesque beings shooed out from the cozy confines of the trees. Some patted me as they passed by. I just looked at them without any emotion. Finally amidst the myriad legs scuttling past me, I spotted him. He was sitting all alone, looking gloomy and dejected. I scampered towards him. His face lit up as soon as he saw me. Wagging my tail, I jumped on to his lap..
The boat was inching forward. The sound of the oars breaking the lull of the moonless night. The banks of the river were crowded. Women decked in ornaments. Their sporadic laughter echoed across the still water. The magnificent fort shimmered in its resplendent decoration, casting a reflection on the still water. As I sat mesmerized by this sight, I had a feeling that I had seen all this before. It was dÃ©jÃ vu. I turned to see my wife looking intently at me. As I opened my mouth to speak, I heard her say, â€œHave you really forgottenâ€?.
I am tired of this job. The scorching sun, the endless wait, the painstaking walk up and down the sweltering beach, the stink of the sea... enough!! I have heard that the new restaurant in town needs attendants. As I look up to see the bobbing heads atop the gentle beast, I notice a tiny hand waving at me. She is gleefully sucking her thumb, happiness written all over her face. For a brief moment, she takes out her thumb and asks, â€œPapa can I ride tomorrow also?" I look at her say, â€œSure, Meenu. Definitely!".