Agla Station

Agla station…

This feels weird. Okay, I get it that the train is late, it always is, but there’s a feeling in my head that this is weird. It’s one of those moments of obscurity when the truth is veiled by obvious patterns. And when the winds of instinct flows, the shroud flutters.

I spot a coolie who’s so old that he could be carrying this enormous baggage of failure straight to the graveyard without a single tear being shed for him. There’s a lad who’s orbiting around a pretty face with the pretty face in dark about a potentially hostile satellite. There is an unsuspecting and up-for-adoption bag which is drawing more attention than a child who looks almost ready to bid adieu if he skips another meal. I shouldn’t be looking at the bag, though. There are plenty of faceless people moving up and down an assembly line with their attention glued to technology. That goddamn train should arrive soon, or I might kill one of these folks instead. My conscience is rattling under the leash of acceptability, waiting to break free.

The city was good to me in the beginning just like an encounter with a stranger. You shake hands, force a smile, ask how’s life, small talk about weather and traffic and religion and ISIS, while trying to force down the rising bile in your throat. I was serenaded by its busy life and busier nightlife. The City of Dreams. The City that never sleeps. That’s a contradiction right there. If you don’t sleep, you don’t dream.

When did it all go downhill? When did the City turn its back on me? Maybe it was when it dressed itself in huge billboards from which successful people smile at you. They are paid to smile, paid lakhs of rupees to flaunt their pearly whites, some of which are photoshopped of course, while the ones who actually break sweat are swaying in a bus surrounded by hundred other swaying bodies, exchanging glares and sweat galore, beneath the very same billboard. Or maybe it was when my neighbor, the guy who helped me move my as-heavy-as-a-continent bed to retrieve my keys and who always used to share Biryani and kheer from his kitchen with me, was arrested on preemptive suspicion and then swallowed by the city never to be found again. Or was it when a drunk mob lynched a man just because he thought that kicking a dog and hitting it with sticks is not cool, and the city just stood silent. Part of the scene, part of the crime, as the old adage goes. Maybe I will never find out when the switch tripped. Maybe I will never find out when the terror was born inside my head.

The distant sound of the approaching metal-on-tracks is requiem to the ears. All the things are in place. Except for that guy, a walking advertisement for America, who is caught right at the periphery by a Ticket Examiner. The announcer in an almost un-understandable accent announces that death would be indeed arriving on platform no. 2, and I have a visual confirmation. Others, continue their nonchalant motions oblivious to what they’re about to witness next.

The weirdness in my head is pushed to the periphery by a storm that’s almost grinning at the prospect of causing mayhem. Unleashed and untamed, I took a deep breath. Years of failure and disappointment greets me. A final push, perhaps? I desperately need to get to the other side, and when the moment arrived, I took the leap.

_____________________________________________________________

…Khar road. Next station, Khar road.

The faceless men are back. And they are all staring at me. They come close in a poetic motion but are pulled back by the clutches of inertia, when the train screeched to a halt. Damn! I missed the train. Again.

 

Thy shall be one

“So you always carry that on you?”
“Mostly.”
“And that’s not a totem?”
“No.”
“Do you want another drink?”
“I’m good.”
Damn, she thought. Here was a man, brooding, deep-set eyes, well-chiseled face, and despite all her best efforts she was neither getting him talking nor getting him drunk. The guy across the table in the emo haircut, was appearing lesser gay with every passing second, and it was only a matter of minutes before she abandoned her hopes and jumped ships. Not without a final swing, though.
“Where I come from, they usually have something to go with the dice, you know. Something to play with.”
She edged closer.
“Something to get your hands on.”
She was almost leaning over him. Loud music, that was going to be her defense.
“Have you tucked it somewhere in your pants?”
“Excuse me. I’ll just come.”
He stood up, dodged a waiter pulling off a balancing act, a guy showing off his dancing moves and a girl in the middle of a vanishing act, in one swift yet graceful motion. His reflexes hadn’t slowed down a bit, or was that his omniscience coming back? He would never know for sure. All he knew was that it was time for the roll.

 

‘Get Lucky’ blared from the speakers as he made his way through the crowd, the kitchen, the door. The alley was narrow but moonlit enough to make out the surroundings. It wasn’t like this always, him relying on external sources to make decisions, but now it was an addiction. He could barely go for an hour without his dose of probability, without a roll of the dice. Leaving fate to spin and luck felt more adventurous than knowing every single incident that is ever going to happen. But it was more than just an adventure.
It was about meeting a constant. Universal, timeless, unaffected by conditions and situations. It was almost like meeting your maker. Almost because he knew it isn’t the maker. He knew who he was.
Removing his shoes he sat on the hard concrete. It felt cold. He placed the dice on the palm of his left hand and raised it to his eyelevel. Six sides. Six numbers. Infinite questions. Always one answer. When the thought had first struck him, he immediately knew he had struck gold, found a worthy successor. The creating bit was fun, but the daily maintenance was taking a toll. And the best part was, that like him, even the cube was an advocator of the larger picture. Things always even out in the longer run, the only thing you need to do is take the leap of faith and run. He clenched his fist loosely around the dice, felt its weight, gave it a shake, and let it loose on the ground.

 

The dice rotated with the grace of a seasoned ballet dancer. The world stops while it spins. Thoughts come to a halt, background comes to a pause, while you wait. Wait for your verdict, for your answer, for your calling, for your number.
1
What a good day to feel one again!
With that, he went through the doubts in his head, the staff in the kitchen, the revelers in the club, back to the girl. She wasn’t in the same seat where he had left her, not that he had ever expected that, but he walked to her nevertheless.
“Hey, I thought you’ll never come back.  What took you so long?”
“A game.”
“Who won?”
“Me.”
“And who lost?”
“Everyone.”

dice

The dinner table conversation

The dining table always proved to be the perfect backdrop for deciding things. Today it was for the little child to decide whether their parents were childish in their adulthood.
‘So, basically, you people blushed, gushed and dropped your ‘I Love Yous’ like it was some loose change? And, and you’ll acted like teens in your mid 20s?
Spoons clattered in perfect symphony as if it was invisibly orchestrated to provide a background score to the child’s innocence.
He looked at her. She still look amazing behind those oversized specs. The wrinkles just added another layer of intrigue to her. ‘For you, a thousand times over‘ he thought. Reading his mind, her face changed colour as she smiled.
‘Yes.’ The word was a perfect epilogue to all what he was feeling. And he was feeling a lot.
‘But you must have looked so stupid!’
He looked at her. She was waiting like a teenage girl. Waiting for him to say something simple yet magical. Waiting to fall for him all over again.
He knew his cue.
Leaning over the table he ruffled the hair of his kid and said,
‘It was totally worth it.’

Opium

I start noticing the patterns of the rag
As I inhale the second (long) drag
The patterns start to change
And it doesn’t feel strange
In fact, it feels good
Like the way it should
My vision starts to blur
And the speech starts to slur
By the time, the vice comes back
The dark room becomes more black
The ears ring, failing to pick a sound
The rib-cage hurts as the heart pound
It’s getting hot, I start to sweat
Memories fading, I begin to forget
It’s not Hash, It’s not weed
It’s more strong from some poppy seed
But I don’t care what I took
I never live by the book
As long as it eases the pain
And removes the dark stain
I would be thankful to thee
Suddenly, I start crying in glee
Flashes of her swaying from a fan
Fills my brain, in quick span
But at least I can’t see her face
As everything is filled with the smoke haze
This is the only thing which can truly take her away
Keeping all the pain, anxiety, at bay.
Someday, I’ll quit
I could hear the Opium smirk a bit
Till then, it will be a part of my kit
To keep her from haunting me
Every second, every minute.

Nostradamus

Provence, France. 1556

The images that flashed through his mind were horrific. How could the two not prevent it? They were so accomplished, yet they failed. Their failure would bring the world together, in grief. It would create a huge void in so many lives. Empty seats at dinner table, children  forced to grow up without the comfort of their parents, parents devoid of their child’s embrace. The losses would be intangible. He had to write about it. It would be a fitting quatrain in his 3rd Century. He took the pen in his hand and within few strokes etched the text on the parchment in fluent Latin.

 

Pres loing defaut de deux grands luminaires.
Qui suruiendra entre l’Auril & Mars:
O quel cherré! mais deux grands debonnaires
Par terre & mer secourront toutes pars.


Centuries later, eminent scholars were trying to find a rationale behind Century 3, quatrain 5 of Nostradamus.  Their job was to demystify every quatrain of Michel de Nostredame. They were looking at the translated esoteric text.

Near, far the failure of the two great luminaries
Which will occur between April and March.
Oh, what a loss! but two great good-natured ones
By land and sea will relieve all parts.

After hours of minute scrutiny, they were looking at a blank wall. Either the event had not happened or the great seer was wrong, they thought and called it a day. They will start the next quatrain, fresh in the morning.

But hiding in plain sight was the biggest tragedy of 2014. A mishap which tore apart many lives.

Near, far the failure of the two great luminaries– Zaharie Ahmad Shah and Fariq Abdul Ahmad, combined, have nearly 21,000 hours of flight time.

Which will occur between April and March– The ill-fated aircraft took flight on 8th March, 00:41 local time.

Oh, what a loss! but two great good-natured ones– 12 crew members, 227 passengers from 14 nations have disappeared from the face of this planet. A total of $53,000,000 has been spent so far to uncover the truth behind this catastrophe.

By land and sea will relieve all parts– relieve (verb): Bring military support for. 27 countries have joined hands and combined their military might to scourge lands and seas for any signs of hope.

The search for MH370 is still on. Nostradamus might have prophesied about its location, too. Hope takes us to places which might seem absurd. As they say, hope is a dangerous word. But hope is the only thing which the families of MH370 victims might have.

Möbius strip

The class was eerie quiet. If the human ear had the ability to listen a few notches down, it would easily have picked the sound of heartbeat in this quietness. This was how he liked his class to be. A mathematician by profession, this gave him a sense of power. Power was what he needed in this most important day of his life. He had never felt so alive before. Glancing at the inquisitive looks on the student’s face seated in front of him, he opened his lecture- “Today, we shall learn about the Möbius strip.”

Mundane. That’s what he thought about his job. As a forensic pathologist in a morgue, he dealt with dead bodies day in and day out. In his early days, he used to be panic-stricken seeing the disfigured bodies, with bones sticking out of all the wrong places. The foul stench used to do no good to allay his worries. But now, it was all just a routine. The body in front of him, had his face smashed beyond recognition. Male, mid-thirties, well-built, he started making a mental list as he examined the body. It was a case of a jumper. 10th floor, was written in the accompanying report. Cowardice, he thought. Bravery is going through the hard phase and not being submissive to life.

“A sphere has two sides. An outer one, and an inner one. The door of this classroom has two sides. One side brings you to this dreaded and boring lecturer while the other takes you out to the free world, where you can do anything without any repercussions. Even the books lying in front of you is comprised of pages which has two sides, and they are numbered for your convenience. But, a Möbius strip has only one side.”

Was it really a cowardly act? He replayed the incident back in his mind. He was at his usual hideout spot away from the world’s snooping eyes. Nobody came over here, and that’s why it was perfect. He removed the freshly rolled joint from his pocket and lit it. The first few hits were always the most cherished. Ohh marijuana! What would he do, without its support. His heightened sense of hearing alerted him of approaching footsteps. Who could it be? He dragged his weight, with much effort, behind a wooden box. He saw an elderly man taking gingerly steps towards the railing. Some guy in need of fresh air, he thought. But the guy had other plans. He stepped on the railing, and looked towards the sky. He was about to take his life! Should he do something? But how would he explain his stuttering speech, his red eyes, his… His thoughts was caught short by the man, who, unlike he, didn’t take much time to decide and surrendered his body to gravity. It was not cowardice, it was self defense, he thought. Taking the last few drags, he called Maria.

“A Möbius strip can easily be created by taking a strip of paper, and giving it a half twist. Then you need to join the two ends of the strip to form a loop. Now, this loop will have only one side. If an ant were to walk along the surface of this strip, it will traverse the entire length of the strip on both sides of the original paper and return to the starting point, without ever crossing an edge. Hence, we conclude that the Möbius strip is uni-dimensional with only one side. The start becomes the end, and the loop is completed.”

 Maria had just taken a shower, when he entered. He having an extra key to the house was key to their affair. He had a sombre look on his face. ‘Maria,’ he whispered, ‘I guess I saw  a man die today.’ That explains the look on his face, she thought. Even while the colour was drained off his face, he looked alluring. Better than her husband, she told herself. She lied to her husband everyday, and she used to lie down with her lover, while he was away. She embraced him and her passion made him forget about the man on the railing.

The lecture on Möbius strip  was over. Few of the students told him goodbye. This motivated him further. He had never felt more alive, he thought again. The professor walked up the stairs, and continued walking ignoring the ‘Do Not Enter’ sign. The door hardly provided any resistance, and he found himself on top of the terrace, mesmerized by the view. He heard some scuffling behind, but dismissed it thinking it of as mind tricks. He walked towards the railing and stepped on it. Looking upwards towards the sky he closed his eyes. Scenes of his wife’s body entwined with that of a stranger flooded his mind. That was the final nail in the coffin. Maria, was the last word he ever spoke as his body took a free fall.

The start becomes the end, and the loop is completed.

Line Of Control

He glanced nervously around. The shadows being cast by the street lights were doing a good job of startling him. But he had to remain focused, for the job he was entrusted with, was dangerously important. Countless lives depended upon his act of bravery, he repeated it to himself. Perils have their own thrills.

Reaching the house, he rechecked his GPS co-ordinate to assure himself that he was standing in front of the right door. The door was slightly ajar. He tiptoed inside.

He took a moment to adjust his eyes to the dark surrounding. Irregular shapes morphed into furniture as he dilated his pupils. It took him exactly 37 seconds to convince himself that the ground level was clear. The winding stairs beckoned him. On another day, he would have paused to marvel at the architecture and the intricacies of the stairwell. On another day, he murmured.

There was a door open to the right. Positioning his Glock, he swiftly entered the room. But he wasn’t exactly, prepared for the ‘enemy’ waiting inside.

The woman was none as he had ever seen before in his life. Draped around in a silk bed-sheet, every feature of her body was visibly unequivocal. The moon-light reflected in her eyes and it was beguiling. Transfixed, he glided to her, feeling no body-weight whatsoever. He wanted to be one with her. He was losing control of his body, and he was willing to cross any lines for her.

—————————————————————————————————————-

“Let us all remember Garinder Singh, for the bravery he showcased. Soldiers do get killed when they cross the Line of Control, but he died a martyr’s death,” said the Major wiping away any traces of tear, after seeing his bullet-ridden body.

 

Kiss

He was gazing into her eyes. Wave after wave of love crashed the shore, in his reflection. The world around him paused and waited in anticipation. Even the air around him lingered for a while to gaze at them. Love is in the air, they said. Well said.

This was the moment. The only one surer of moment-certainty of this magnitude in history, was perhaps Glenn McDuffie when he ran across the street to kiss the nurse, when the Second World War was declared over. Kiss her, now! He held her in his hand and brought her face close to his and…

BANG!

Straight into her nose, he hit.

The art of kissing the right way is like that back-heel you pull off in football. You won’t know how to do it unless you try. Though the number of consenting adults who will be willing to try with you would be less than that the number of times Israel and Palestine would have honoured the ceasefire, the eternal search continues. It’s always better to know a few rules, right from the outset, to practise a kiss. You certainly won’t want your first impression to be the final nail in the coffin of your long term hopes.

Everyone nose it.

Make the alignment of your face correct before you lean forward. C’mon, it’s not as difficult as the Earth’s alignment with the galactic center. It saves you from being embarrassed and your partner’s nose from looking like Rudolf.

alignment

It sucks.

You know how the vacuum cleaner works? Good. Chances of your partner knowing it, would be pretty decent as well. You are not doing her any good, by demonstrating her your sucking abilities after you latch onto her tongue. You are a human, not a dementor.

dementor

Mind your tongue.

The urge to force in the tongue is too enticing to ignore. However, don’t let it loose like a withering electric eel. It’s your partner’s mouth, not some 16 ft by 12 ft swimming pool. Do it the Buddhist way. The calmer, the fiercer.

Don’t let the feeling stink in. 

While your partner is passionately trying to devour you, he/she wouldn’t really like your mouth to remind them of their grandmother’s socks. The mouth fresheners were invented for a reason. This reason.

Chew-tiyapa.

It is a normal routine for many people to chew on things like gums, MnM’s, candies. But make sure you spit it out, before you make out. It is not cool to play Hide and Seek with your gum, by placing it under your tongue (or your partner’s).

Don’t say while the sun shines.

A kiss is like a wine. It is supposed to be enjoyed till the taste lasts in the mouth. You would be violating the 11th Commandment by asking her what is she feeling like, or what is the gross GDP of Mozambique, with your tongue still inside her. Thou shalt not hiss while you kiss.

A kiss is a simple trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous. It is a person’s signature. It is the framework on which the relationship is sewed upon. It makes a  person feel happy, pacifying his innermost worries. So the world would be a much happier place if we kiss. The right way, that is.