“Like, who talks to Bob anyway?” Bob said as he traced out the words written on the walls of a solitary confinement cell in the abandoned, maximum-security, prison that they were scouting for their latest horror movie shoot.
The rules traced out on every single available space in the wall were.
How to survive solitary confinement?
Eat your meals
Keep a track of time
And don’t talk to Bob
Bob of course was offended that a prisoner who died by execution, some twenty odd years ago did not want to talk to him.
“I mean, I totally get it. Like why would anyone want to talk to Bob? Bob is not even a name; it is a fucking sound. Like huh or hmmm or zzzzz.” Ben spoke as they relentlessly kept shooting pictures of the wall.
Rachel laughed, that deep throaty laugh of hers which had been sending slivers of pleasure down my spine since I first saw her.
“Well, don’t you wonder who is this Bob is? The Bob; that the prisoner did not want anyone talking to?” Rachel asked. “I mean, like is it a figment of a prisoner’s imagination. But if that is the case why does the writing on the walls differ so much?”
“Yeah, Rachel is right. Look at this.” Bob said. “Throughout the cell the handwriting style has changed a lot. Some sentences are even written in Spanish and French. Wow, I can safely say that more than thirty prisoners who have lived in solitary confinement here did not want to talk to Bob anymore. This place is doing wonders for my self esteem.”
I sighed. This Bob was such a cry-baby.
“Bob you are such cry baby.” Rachel said. “Not everything is about you, you know. This is another Bob they are talking about.” I smiled as Rachel read my thoughts, literally.
I was at the back, curled up like a fetus, my elbows touching my penis—and Sam, Sam was mostly awake. And he often gawked at the pictures of bikini models and men in speedos (I couldn’t tell which one, when) on his primitive smartphone with joystick and compact buttons.
“Tch! The Wi-Fi sucks”, he would grunt loudly, in fact, I woke up to his grumbles more often I remember I woke up to my alarm.
I was new to this. I was new to everything. Our dormitory smelt of cum, at places, of cum and piss. I would walk in, walk out, no eye contact or exchange of greetings—like a slave.
The very first day, he and they—all of them—occurred odd. I barely managed a “hello”, at the shorter, less intimidating and almost likeable guy in V-neck vests. He winked. Strange! I thought. Fourteen years of my life, and no one had ever winked at me. My dad used to wink at me, but he would do that only when he cajoled mom in getting me one more scoop of ice-cream after dinner or hide an entire packet of jelly beans from my elder sister, just for me, or things like that.
That day I walked up to my rusty cot—it stroked like a swing, whenever I tossed or turned on it—carrying my backpack, a pair of sneakers, the dormitory guidelines Continue reading
The Hollow comes crawling up to you in the dead of the night,
A night when you are tucked in safe, when you sleep amidst the memories of mommy singing you a lullaby.
A night, when you thank God for the warm duvet you have to snuggle.
A night when comfort is the soft yellow light, shining outside.
A night when the sturdy lock on your main door, lulls you into thinking you are safe.
The Hollow lies in wait,
Sometimes in your closet,
Sometimes on the branch of a tree outside your window,
Sometimes in dark corners of the passage,
Sometimes peeking through the keyhole of your main door.
The Hollow lies in wait,
Tanya is browsing through the swimwear collection on nile.com her favorite shopping website. It’s true that father has said she cannot go to Goa and there is no way he will let her buy a swimsuit, but Tanya is sure she will figure it out, she always does. Her phone rings, it’s Manju, her best friend for the season. Tanya takes the call, “So I was wondering, what would be a better shade for my swimsuit? Should I go with the turquoise one or the peacock blue one? The peacock blue on makes my skin look…”
“Tanya, babe…” the urgency in her voice gives Tanya pause, “it’s Ananya…she’s…just check the college website…”
Tanya opens the website to the image of a glowing lamp and ‘shraddhanjali’ written in a somber font besides an old photo of Ananya. There is a second where Tanya feels a sensation of transition, as if a dying sputtering candle in a large dark room was finally snuffed out. Then she gathers herself with remarkable ease, “what has the nerd gone and done now?” she asks with mock contempt. Continue reading
You are assaulted by the acrid smell of piss, puke and the stench of waste. Not the best way to wake up from deep slumber, you think. You wake up on hard ground, with your legs entangled in those of a complete stranger. Not even of the opposite gender.
(Artist: Kalansh Gala)
You curse and you spit at the man, secretly thankful that he is still passed out. You look around, only to find yourself surrounded by a melee of entangled bodies interwoven to blur any lines of gender, age and color. The darkness surrounding you is partially because your eyes are yet to focus and because you are in a giant dome that barely lets in any light through the massive stained glass windows near the ceiling. Continue reading
We sit huddled in three corners of the room. Our bodies emaciated, our skin withered, our bones jutting from odd angles, after days of starvation. Our eyes skitter from one to another in rapid succession. We do not trust each other; we are terrified of the ground that supports our gaunt bodies, the ceiling that shelters our fading existence and the walls that hold up our wilted selves.
We have given up any thoughts of leaving the room, moons ago, or is it eons? We don’t know, how long have we waned away in this room.
I look at her, sitting across me, holding a rotting child in her arms. Her eyes bulge, what was once smooth, silky skin, now corrodes in flakes and falls all around her cadaverous form. I try hard to recall her name, but all I can remember is the word “Babe”. I used to call her Babe. I think she Continue reading
“Now where did I keep the damn stick.” I muttered to myself as I trudged along my cottage, feeling the cold damp walls for a long wooden appendage that I needed to walk.
“cluck cluck cluck.” Mathilda walked with her tiny feet beside me, smelling of grains, dirt and fresh leaves. Her matchstick thin feet made slight scraping noises as they scuffed along the old creaky wooden floor.
“Yeah, I know. I kept it beside the fireplace.” I told Mathilda. Continue reading
‘I bet you can’t climb this tree and jump from the highest branch!’ said the new boy. I sat there lightly caressing Candy’s back, and smiled when she purred in approval.
Tom, stared at the new boy with suspicion and anger. No one, and I cannot insist this enough, no one spoke to Tom in that tone.
“Of course, I can.” Claimed Tom. Although I had never in the twelve years of knowing Tom, watched him climb the peeple tree and jump from its highest branch. But then again, what the heck, who was I to contradict Tom, our leader? Continue reading
I began tucking him into his bed and he tells me, “Daddy, check for monsters beneath my bed!” He was a brave kid, never scared of anything but maybe he too was picking up on the atmosphere of the house. His wide watery eyes stared at me as if to confirm my suspicions. My legs began to shiver and I had to take a dry gulp. I almost ran out of his room, but you never let you child know you are too afraid to look beneath his bed! Continue reading
I laboured myself off my bed, it took exactly ten minutes for me to lift my legs and place them on the ground beneath. Parts of my body, I never knew existed, had been aching in pain and anger since five years now. I trudged to the mirror to take in my sunken eyes, chapped hollow cheeks and smoke stained teeth.
Last night’s binge drinking and smoking pot was not helping me in any way. For that matter so wasn’t the night before, or the night before that.
I loved my routine, the routine that involved replacing food with alcohol and water with weed. It allowed me to pass out night after night; in a drunken stupor. Just what the doctor advised. Continue reading
They entered through the door, the woman and her two daughters. With flowing white togas, clinched at their waist, they looked like the ray of sunshine, I did not know, who they were. But I had been waiting for them, for too long.
“Mother, is this where we will live?” The younger one, almost five years of age, with golden locks, and the face of an angel, spoke up.
The woman looked around, her face a mix of sorrow and disdain.
“Yes, agape mou this is our home now.” Continue reading
There are voices, but I don’t know what they say. They are either distant whispers or my ears are clogged with water. All I hear is, someone sobbing — often for hours. Sometimes, I think it’s not just one person, they are out there in numbers; because there are different crying patterns. Some moan with intermittent hiccups, some endlessly curse and howl. The voices that are clearer, also sound familiar, and although it’s someone or the other weeping, I hate to admit, that it’s mildly comforting. But the one’s that come from far-off, are unfamiliar and upsetting. I wish, they could hear me, and for once, just shut up, the way I hear them, and beg them to shut up — all the time.
There is also very little or no light here. But that’s okay, I can still see what I want to. Maybe this is how it appears, when you’ve lived in the darkness for a while — your pupils adjust. They adjust to the idea of darkness and then you see a whole new world that you thought, you could only see with your open eyes or in bright light. And although, I can’t see what is out there, I know that I have seen, sometime in the recent past — the vast world, beyond these four walls, where these voices come from. Continue reading