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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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

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.

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.

 

Jesus: A mortal’s story

He was a man like every other, but with strong beliefs. His principles never stooped like a Willow tree in the wind, but stood firm like an Oak. He was defiantly against the unjust laws of the Roman Church, and wanted his voice to matter for a better tomorrow. An unjust law is no law at all, and he echoed this thought. Hence he was called the ‘Messiah’, the anointed one, or the chosen one.

Centuries later, his sobriquet would be confused with that of the Son of God.

He moved to the east, when he was 12. Traveler and a keen learner, he reached the land of the Himalayas, where he was introduced to many medicinal herbs. The locals sung folklore in which one such herb, Selaginella Bryopteris or commonly known as Sanjeevani, had revived some dead prince of Ayodhya. He pocketed many such wonder herbs for his people back home., where he cured leprosy, blindness, etc.

Centuries later, the herbs would never be written about and he would be considered divine.

There was a small water body, to the east of Jerusalem. When he strolled near it, the breeze which filled his lungs, made him realize that there was something wrong with the water. He had walked by countless seas and rivers and, never, the air was so much saline. He tasted it, and any doubts he had harboured, were allayed. He dived into the water but did not drown in it, as the water was denser than him. He called out his followers to join him. They were too awestruck to follow.

Centuries later, no one would mention the Dead Sea, but only the Prophet who rose from the dead.

When those in power got fed up of his rising popularity, they rounded him off for crucifixion. His travels had taught him many ways to feign death. Losing pulse was the easiest. He knew of Rhododendron plants near the Black sea in Turkey, which when administered stopped the pulse, and the heart. He carefully administered himself the right dosage and fooled the world about his death. When he woke up in his tomb, all he had to do was get out of that shroud draped across his body. Every magic trick involved three stages- The Pledge, where you make your audience believe in something, The Turn, when the disappearance happen, and then The Prestige, when the reappearance takes place.

Centuries later, everyone will forget the trick but elevate him to the status of God.

 

All religions, that is, all mythologies … are merely man’s own invention—Christ as much as Loki.

 

 

 

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.

He

He gulped another single malt. It was his ninth drink (probably tenth) of the night, but He didn’t care. After all, it was the night of self pity. It was the night when you compare yourself with no one in the world and you still manage to lose.

He lived on the first floor and his neighbour lived so far that it wouldn’t be surprising if they didn’t even recognize each other. Loneliness was creeping upon him and He needed to meet new people. Make friends. Hence He had decided to give the bar a shot. 9 drinks later (probably 10), He cursed himself for taking that decision.

He ordered for another drink. As his eyes wandered across the room, He saw a pretty Asian girl, with a familiar face, enter the bar.  Wasn’t she the girl from the second floor? He thought hard. Yes! Li. That was her name. She looked alluring. She was well dressed and was wearing a smile that even reflected in her eyes. Their eyes met and almost on cue she started walking towards him. It was either the loneliness or the alcohol which started making his heart beat faster and skip the very next beat at the same time.

She reached his table, and stood besides him. Looking around and finding no empty seats, He stood up and offered his seat to her. Noble. That was what He was known for. She gracefully eased into the seat and stretched her hand forward. “Hi, I am Li. We see each other quite a lot, but we’ve never talked.”

His eyes never left her’s. He was dazed and mesmerized. He didn’t even took and shook her hand. It lingered in the air for eternity. He wanted to say things, but due to his inert (INtrovERT) nature, He didn’t even make a slight movement. Not even a blink.

Finally gravity resumed, and Li’s hand fell by her sides. She felt embarrassed. Angrily, she got on her feet and said, “It would have been elementary if you would have at least not ignored my hand. Thanks for not reacting.” Hurt, she stormed out of the bar.

But He was Helium, a noble gas. He never reacted.

Guns

He opened the window overlooking the streets. The sun’s ray entered the house uninvited. It filled the room with light, but couldn’t invade the dark thoughts in his mind.

He pressed the button on the side of the hand grip and the magazine eased into his hands. He had been given 3 bullets for the job. He needed only one. With the rounded side forward, he inserted the lone bullet into the magazine. Lonely? Not for much time. You will soon be embedded into flesh. His malicious thoughts were infecting his brains at an alarming rate.

He pushed the magazine back in the hand-grip. A short ‘click’ confirmed it was in place. Now he waited by the window for the elderly man to step out. Blasphemy shouldn’t go unpunished, he repeated it to himself for the umpteenth time. He was entrusted with the task of plucking the weed out. He was the crusader.

Finally the moment arrived. His target was walking gingerly on the road. Two years more and he would have died anyways, he smirked to himself. Pushing down the safety lock on the top of the gun, he raised it at his eye level. Beads of sweat started forming at his brow. Wiping them off, he took a deep breath. Aiming the gun at the man’s torso, he gripped the trigger.

As he was about to pull it, his attention got diverted by his mother’s loud voice from the other room.

‘Aamir! You are getting late for school. Hope you finished your homework.’

By the time he recovered from the momentary lapse of concentration, the old man was no longer in sight. ‘I had almost finished my homework,’ he cursed under his breath. ‘Until tomorrow,’ he thought, kissed the gun, muttered the Holy name, and placed it between the books in his rucksack. He checked himself in the mirror. The school uniform was tucked in. The hair was neatly parted. The only thing missing was the 11 year old’s innocence.

In Afghanistan, they start young.

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