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.

 

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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.

 

Insomnia

His eyes were wide open. The pupils showed no signs of dilation. He lost count of when was the last time he even blinked. He had tried all possible ways of inviting sleep, but sleep was not paying heed to his enticing calls. Maybe he hadn’t tried enough.

He stared at the ceiling. Shapes started forming from the shadows. He enjoyed looking at the monkey which jumped from one tree to another. Bang. He chuckled at the cloud’s feeble attempts to bump each off other from the imaginary track. Bang. He marveled when a bridge was constructed between two edges on the wall. Bang. Gun. Bang. Definitely, staring at the ceiling was not helping.

He tried keeping his eyes closed for eons, but ultimately it used to defy his willpower and open at even the slightest distraction on cue. The poundings at his door wasn’t helping either.

He remembered some statement that counting backwards helps in this case.

100, 99, 98, 97, 96, …

He knocks on the door. Waiting to be greeted by his wife. After a tiring day of work, he always used to look forward to the kisses she showered upon him.

81, 80, 79, 78, 77, …

She wasn’t opening the door. Aaaah. She might have slept. He had told her, he wouldn’t be coming in the night as work would be keeping him occupied. He pushed in his key in the keyhole, and gave it a rotation.

63, 62, 61, 59, 58, …

He walked up the stairs. Light was coming in through the shaft of the door. He tiptoed in wanting to surprise her, but…

47, 46, 45, 44, 43, …

he was surprised. Seeing his wife’s body entwined with someone else’s, he tried hard to tip the dipping scales of his mood in the favour of serenity. But her  words had more weight and they provided the final push, “Steve, what the fuck are you doing here?”

30, 29, 28, 27, 26, …

Fueled by anger, out came his gun. BANG. BANG. Two shots was all it took, to ensure that when they breathed their last, they were naked.. Pressing the cold muzzle of the gun to his temple, he pulled the trigger again. BANG.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

Counting backwards wasn’t helping either. He stood up, glided across the room, passed unnoticed by the neighbours whose poundings on the door had finally managed to bring the frame down.

Even though he would remain asleep forever, in a different realm, he could never sleep again.

Friday the 13th

She didn’t want to be alone in the flat, today. The fact that she stayed on the 13th floor aggravated her fear. She had phoned Steve to come over.  She glanced a furtive look at the clock. 90 minutes to midnight.

Suddenly, there was loud banging from the cupboard. She tried to ignore the sound but it was persistent. She reached for the cupboard’s door. The banging stopped, but the mirror on the cupboard looked odd to her. She raised her hand to tuck back a strand of hair behind the ears. Her reflection in the mirror, didn’t.

Petrified, she ran across the hallway to the living room, where she bumped into Steve.

Thank you Steve for coming here quickly. This place is haunted. Please take me to your place, instead” she said, collapsing into his arms.

You sure?” She nodded in reply.

Her phone buzzed at that very moment. She had received a text. From Steve.

‘Hey. Caught in traffic. Dnt wrry. Will rch in 20.’

Her skin turned pale. She felt as if every muscle in her body had mysteriously knotted itself, rendering her unable to move. She felt cold hands grip her by the shoulder.

You still sure?” She collapsed hearing this cold, deep whisper.

She woke up the next day in her flat, feeling unharmed. Heaving a huge sigh of relief, she was glad to have survived the ordeal and she even thought of passing it of as a nightmare. She lit her cigarette and spread the morning  newspaper on the reading table. As her eyes jumped from one headline to another, she saw something familiar in a section on the left. The obituary column had her name in it.

She died a second time.

 

Freitag_der_13._im_Kalender

Bible

Chris’s last rites was over. The world moved on, but Amanda stayed back at the grave. She kept prying on her husband’s headstone with her fingernails. In her darkest time, she placed her faith in the Bible. Neither a single morsel eaten, nor a drop of water gulped. Eventually, another 6ft of earth was replaced by a coffin. They blamed her grief for her fate.

But nobody noticed the ‘T’ she managed to chisel out after her husband’s name.

Nobody noticed what happened on the 3rd day.

Fault in the stars

His past was the reason for his interest in Astronomy. Alpha, Centauri, Sirius, Orion were not alien to him.

On finding Eris, he still could not find a reason to smile. He had to find his Dad.

‘Where is papa?’ He screamed angrily at the moonlit sky.

Countless stars winked at him, fuelling his angst.

Two drinks and a gunshot later, he was reunited with him.