Snippets Again

I hate going to sleep, did you know that?

 

Tomorrow’s my girlfriend’s birthday. We aren’t having an underground party with DJ. We are having — you guessed it — nothing. We can’t have anything. Her parents want to deny I exist, and mine reciprocate it.

Tell me the last time you let the rain drench you through to your soul and you looked with bleary eyes at the beautiful, beautiful Earth around you. I forgot my last time.

Can you believe we are in a disc of stars and planets and gases among million others in the universe among million other universes? Can you believe how far we have closed in on ourselves that we forget we are four-limbed miracles called life on a small blue planet in a circling white disk?

There’s a miracle in the universe, a single planet with life, and look what we do with it. We construct the society and jobs and lawyers and clocks and routines and turn it into something as dry, concrete, lifeless as intergalactic gas mass.

Keep up the good work.

 

Damn, I hate this.

1Life.

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The Last Stand

<about my struggle. Had this vision many a time.>

Deathly silence clothed the atmosphere. The only sound that caressed the senses was the soft, distant moan of the icy wind coming down through the valley. Snowflakes drifted once this way, then the other on the shoulders of the freezing gust. Up ahead, where the cold, bluish-white and lifeless ground melted into darkness, towered two ragged peaks of uniform white and rugged brown, like eternal sentries with heads obscured in the still damp fog that hung in every direction.

Suddenly there was a sound from beyond the peaks a distant grunt, perhaps, short and quick. The wind carried it down through the peaks and swept it over the plane.

Immediately there passed a sharp tension through the air. Twenty-five visors snapped and twenty-five firearms were readied with short sharp sounds that echoed through the bunker. Not a word passed as twenty-five dark human figures readied themselves for another encounter.

Then there was another grunt from much closer, accompanied by scraping metallic sounds. The troop kept motionless, a rigid column of darkness, visors drawn against the vigorous snowflakes.

A few heavy moments passed in cold silence, interrupted only by more than one nervous heartbeat.

Then an earth-shattering growl broke the silence of the summit to pieces, as a great white form emerged from behind the shoulder between the peaks. It took a mighty step forward, metal grating against metal as the parts of its thick rusted armour moved against each other. Its giant paw sent a ripple of shock all around the ground where it landed, and the twenty-five black forms in the bunker felt it more in their heart than in their soles. Perhaps this was the last battle.

‘Okay’, whispered the commander, ‘let’s tell this snowman it’s summer.’

Twenty-four heads nodded in unison. Everyone knew what they had to do.

Another split second of silence as the great bear raised its forepaws and looked around, the wind ruffling its fur about where it showed beneath his armour at the back.

The troop charged simultaneously from all sides, with each alternate soldier climbing out of the trench and running blindly through the open ground, a foot of snow swallowing their each step as they ran on directly towards the white giant, their guns spitting fire at the tough rocky armour. The rest of the soldiers remained in position in the trench.

At the sight of these minute black specks running across the slope, the bear gave an angry roar that resounded through the valley. For a second, perhaps an expression of fear flashed across his cold, hard eyes, but then he crouched low, allowing only his armoured portion to face the chargers’ fire.

Their speed slackened halfway up the slope. The bear was showing no signs of moving. Unfazed, they broke formation, parting into two smaller groups advancing along either side, while the commander alone trudged up along the middle, his firearm landing incessant sparks of flame on the invincible armour.

The monster, realizing their tactic, tried to react quickly, but couldn’t. It lunged at its left with a growl, its fur bristling with rage. Out of the corner of his eye, the commander saw three of his men run around towards the back of the bear from its right while three others provided fire cover. Perhaps this time…

The bear was frantic by now. It could make nothing of this organized, purposeful movement of the tiny creatures, as it never had, and it decided on brute force. It turned its cold grey eyes on the commander who was trudging on towards him, studied his minute resolute form for a moment, then lunged into the air. The commander closed his eyes, his gun still spitting mouthfuls of fire at the armoured monster.

A split second later, the ground reverberated with a heavy shock as an echoing thud drowned all other sound for an instant. The bear was not upon him yet.

The commander opened his eyes. The bear lay on the snow, grunting loudly. on its right hind-leg was a bleeding wound at the joint. Six of his soldiers were stationed behind the beast and firing away, each spit of flame hitting the soft white skin where it enjoyed no armour. At last, after so many days…

The bear gave another roar of rage and stood up slowly, anger burning in its pitiless eyes. A patch of snow beneath its leg was red with the dark blood.

Before another moment had gone by, the bear had turned around and was limping like a raged bull towards the six stationed men. Four of them immediately responded by scattering in different directions, the perfect trick to confuse the beast. The two in the middle did not move a muscle. They watched in pale horror over their firing guns as the bear came upon them. It swept one away with a brush of the paw. He flew through the air before hitting a rock wall. On the second one it closed its jaws. By now the rest of the rank had closed in, and the remaining half had emerged from the trench to join the fighting soldiers. The commander’s dry voice echoed through the group as each followed the directions like a single-minded machine.

It worked. The bear, finished with its vengeance, turned its head towards the two columns of darkness cut out of the air, rigid and resolute. Blood and sinew dripped from the side of his mouth, along with a single black boot that dropped slowly to the ground, spraying blood over the pure snow.

The bear turned and limped slowly away through the shoulder and beyond the peaks into the darkness. After a few more minutes, the soldiers returned to their rocky bunker. The cold gust had picked up, and there might be a blizzard on the way.

‘Not quite summer yet, eh?’ said the commander. A few worn smiles passed through the group.

‘Come on, boys, we weren’t bad. He’s not gonna get a doc to fix his leg for him. That’s the first time we did it. Cheer up!’

Hardly any sign of achievement could be seen in the eyes beneath the dark visors that surrounded him.

‘Remember soldiers, we are the last stand. The last line of defence. Beyond us, there’s none. We have to stand up and hold our ground. We can do it, any day. He’s not gonna live. Some day now we will convince that snowman that it’s summer. And he’ll melt away into the past, like all our persistence and sacrifice and pain. Keep faith.’

Bowed against the chilly gust that was crawling down the slope, twenty-two black visors nodded in unison.

ИΞΘ.

 

I-Day

Today’s I-Day. The 59th Independence Day for India. It’s a public holiday.

What freedom do I want? You wanna listen?

I want the freedom to walk with my girlfriend — hand in hand if I wish — on the streets without earning either the disapproving stare or the wolf stare from anyone.

I want the freedom to get out of the house when I want to at all earthly hours of the day without having to give a suitable explanation.

I want the freedom of privacy.

I want the freedom of having personal relationships without other people butting in as if it were their business.

I want the freedom to have a life of my own.

 

By the way, I just downloaded the Windows Live Writer Beta from Wes’s Space and I’m writing on it now.

Happy I-Day.

1Life.

A Tale of Two Strings

Once upon a time there were two strings. They sprouted like fresh spring flowers from two old and mucky holes on a wooden plank. None of them knew what lay beneath the plank; where each of them led; and neither did they care.

Anyways, what is worth mentioning is that these two strings loved each other very much. They cocked their frayed ends up and talked of old times, when they both had been strong and new, not frayed and dirty as they were now. They also liked to think that through all the times from when they were young and strong till now, when they are frayed and weak, they never ceased to love each other. And so lived these two strings, immersed in each other, never caring to know where each of them stretched beneath the plank.

But nature has its rules, and one day she checked her big wall clock and decided that the strings had had their time on earth. So she sent a messenger to pick them up from home. She was a lovely lady named Death, and she came and stood looking at the two strings that were deep in conversation, and for the umpteenth time, she felt a tad bit sorry that their conversation would soon be over.

She interrupted them softly. She coughed — ‘ahem’.

‘Hello there. Good day to you both. I have been sent by a certain higher authority, you see, to give you some sad news. I am terribly sorry that I had to interrupt you like this.’

‘Go on, beautiful lady,’ said one of the strings, at which the other gave him a very narrow stare.

‘Er… you see, I am afraid your time on earth is over. You must come with me now to your true home.’ replied Death.
‘Both of us, surely?’ said the bewildered string, for they loved each other very much.

‘Yes, both of you. And now please close your eyes and think of the life that you have led, while I do my part.’

So saying, the lady made to raise the wooden plank while the two strings closed their eyes. The lady pulled at something beneath the plank and the strings went right through their holes and out the other side, still dreaming of their life together and feeling sad because they would no longer be together.

Had either of them opened their eyes then, they would have seen something they had never imagined before; that beneath the plank stretched a single string, whose two ends sprouted through two holes in the plank like fresh spring flowers, and had loved each other all their life.

— a string.

The Tube

‘Are we supposed to buy a ticket?’ I asked the businessman-looking guy beside me. He wore a black business suit and trousers, and a grey tie. His polished business shoes shone even in the dim light inside the tube.

At my question, he turned slowly — rather eerily, like the Terminator — towards me and made eye contact. The look on his face scared me out of my wits. I felt as if I was without my pants and asking whether I was supposed to have worn one.

He stared for a long time at me. I tried to look away, but I couldn’t. It was the worst situation I’d ever been in. Then I thought of getting up and moving somewhere else, but I didn’t do that either. So I kept looking at him looking at me for about a minute. Then he spoke, slicing me into a thousand little pieces with his unearthly stare over the rims of his glasses.

‘Yes, didn’t you buy one?’ he spoke each word clearly, spacing them out as if talking to a child.

‘No, I mean if they’re returning the money, what’s the reason —‘

Just as I said that word, I noticed him shrinking almost imperceptibly and a frown cross his face. I said no more.

‘Here comes the checker.’ He motioned towards a dark, gloomy person approaching from the right, sympathy etched deep in his face as he observed me with a distant, cool stare. The checker was still a few seats away, standing before an old couple, one arm around a hand-hold. He took two tickets from them and fished around in his huge black bag before emerging with a few coins and handing them over to one of the old couple. When this transaction was finished, he turned his head towards our direction and swept the passengers with nonchalant yellow eyes before turning back. I decided to get up and get a ticket.

The view outside the window was a blank darkness. The tube didn’t sway, or rock, or turn, or generally give away any symptom of movement. I doubted if there would be any perceptible difference if it was stationary.

I went and stood in front of the old man sitting behind a box beside the doors. He had a single stack of yellow tickets on the box. He looked up as I approached. I was about to ask him which ticket I needed, when he slid one of the stiff cardboard tickets across his makeshift table. I took a better look at the stack now. All of the tickets were not only yellow, but the same stiff piece of cardboard, with the same amount of money printed over them. I extracted the amount from my pocket and placed it on his box. He slid out a drawer and dropped the coins into it with a brush of his hand in the same nonchalant manner that the checker exhibited. I pocketed the ticket and turned. A few questions nagged inside. I remembered the face of the businessman and wondered if I would ever ask them. Then with a bit of logical reasoning, I concluded that it would be best not to give anyone else a shock. It would be wisest to ask him again what I wanted to know. I hoped he wouldn’t be so shocked now that he knew I was the type who could ask if he needed pants.

I met the checker on the way. He took my ticket and returned me the money printed on it, without ever taking his eyes away from his tickets or coins.

All of a sudden I had a desire to laugh at this folly, to point out to him how much it resembled kindergarten games, where everyone feigns purpose in stupid meaningless transactions, in an effort to construct a sort of grown-up structure in their childish activities. The solemnity in the way this was being conducted made me want to laugh out loud. But I didn’t say anything and walked back to my seat. I noticed a few of the passengers whose tickets had been exchanged for money were getting up and walking slowly towards the old man behind the box. I figured it was because the checker would soon be back. How stupid, how funny.

I didn’t really want to face the guy beside me again, but I decided I had to. With much resolution I turned and asked him flatly, ‘Where is this tube going?’

He turned in the same eerie maneuver that made me want to run away from the place. I kept still. He began his disbelieving stare. I was patient.

At length he said ‘No one knows. Why do you want to know?’ He twisted the ‘you’ the way a six-year old would pronounce the scientific name of a strange new creature seen in the zoo.

It was my turn to stare at him. What does he mean, no one knows? There’s a whole train full of passengers going somewhere, and no one wants to know where it’s headed? Wait, the blank darkness outside, the strangely smooth motion…

‘Is this even going somewhere? I mean, is it moving? Because you see, you can’t really tell —‘

‘A tube moves. This looks like a tube.’

I tried to fathom what he wanted to signify, but all it boiled down to was this should be moving. Whether it is, is beside the point.

I was beginning to feel scared. It wasn’t funny and kindergarten any more. With an acidic feeling, I sensed that none of these people in the tube took it as a joke. They took it rather seriously, and didn’t see anything funny in it. Behind their solemn faces was a resolute determination to keep this game going, to not realize it was a game in the first place, to deny that it was stupid.

I glanced at the doors. They didn’t look like they ever performed their function.

I thought to hell with his stare and asked, ‘Why does everyone have the same ticket?’

He turned again, slower than a minute-hand of the clock. I could see now that he was irritated and maybe did not want me to be sitting beside him.

‘Because everyone’s on the same tube.’ He said and cast an anxious glance at the other passengers, as if to see if anyone was looking at us and maybe associating him in some way with this strange new creature that was me.

I could feel a new question in me, knowing it wouldn’t be proper to ask it, that it wouldn’t be appreciated. But I had to know the answer.

‘Why are you doing this? I mean, do you see any point in this?’ I asked rather timidly. I was very afraid of his stare.

At once I wished I hadn’t asked the question. He looked at me as if he would report me to the museum.

‘Everyone’s doing it.’ He said with an air of finality — like saying thus proved — and turned away.

 

Through the blank darkness, the tube sped on without a sway.

 

1Life.