An Old Carton

container-office-paper-8737-l

“Sweets, get going!!  We’re all waiting for you.”

“All?”

“Just come, will you? The heat is killing me, I’m going to kill you if you don’t come over in five.”

Would she be with them? The Chitra Basu. In her faded floral palazzo pants billowing in the warm summer wind, cat-eye sunglasses catching the glare of the sun and her lush locks shrouding half her beautiful face, brushing her supple pink unpainted lips. I picked my handbag, stashed some notes from the drawer, snatched the keys, locked the door and walked out before I could allow myself to hold back and hesitate. Continue reading

The inherent entanglement of headphone wires

Varun returned to his laptop to find he had another message from Asha and that his headphone wires were tangled, again. He sighed and began to untangle them as he read Asha’s message, “What did you mean when you said that people should not date outside their own leagues?”

Varun was taken aback. When had he said that? Had he even said that? He knew better by now than to ask Asha what this was in reference too. That would only make her mad and earn him a lecture on how he never paid any attention to what she said. It did not matter that her current  train of thought was delayed by a few weeks. He thought back to all of their conversations over the past few weeks trying to remember where this thought was coming from. He looked at the tangle of headphones in his hand. How did it get so entangled in the blink of an eye! Continue reading

Dopey Hopes

flying-wishing-lamp-hot-air-balloon-kongming-font-b-lantern-b-font-cute-love-heart-font

Morning shower used to be fun. Research says that lonely people spend longer hours in warm showers. Now my only sliver of solace and warmth is disrupted by calls from the cab-drivers. They assign a different cab-driver every day and every driver is a new nightmare. Despite satellites tracking and streaming my precise location right into his goddamn phone, the driver inevitably prefers to call me up and – against a backdrop of dire honking – I must explain in excruciating detail the herculean journey he must undertake to reach me at Number 12, 17th Main.

The commute is too long for the distance but too short for me to listen to music. I don’t like music because music is a lie. When you don a headphone, you’re immersing yourself in a lie but when you must immerse yourself in a lie, it’s a shame when you can’t immerse yourself long enough. Continue reading

Here and There

stars_circle_over_the_residencia_at_cerro_paranal

“Sometimes, I have these questions,” her father says, looking away from the TV. He has always had questions, more so now that he’s been retired for a decade and spends most of his waking hours in front of the TV.

“What keeps everything spinning? I mean the planets, around the sun, they’ve all been spinning for millennia, haven’t they? What keeps them going? Why don’t they just fall into the sun?”

“They would, eventually, I suppose.” She’s not too sure herself.

“Isn’t it fascinating?” He turns around to look at her with an earnestness of a precocious child. He looks older than the seventy or so years he has lived. His eyes have sunk and become dark and stoic. She remembers an afternoon, over lunch, when he’d kneeled down to feed the cat when she’d noticed the first signs of a bald patch. That was years ago when she wasn’t married and had barely just got into college. It was the year when there was a hailstorm in April; the year her mother coughed blood in their tiny blue sink; the year they moved out to the city in an apartment twenty minutes away from the hospital. Continue reading

He…She

He amused her,

She intrigued him.

He liked to hold tight,

She liked her space in the nights.

They first met for lunch,

He paid,

She ate.

Then for drinks,

And a night of uncomfortable snogging.

She gave it a month,

He gave it a few days.

They gave it another night,

It still didn’t feel right.

They met with friends about,

He had fun.

She had more fun with him around.

Maybe, they thought, maybe there was something like love to be found.

They created a routine,

Of texting, calling, meeting, sleeping.

He still liked to hold tight,

She still would put up a fight.

She had long hair, he loved to wrap around his hands and ride,

He had long legs, she longed to wrap her legs around and sleep.

He insisted on dropping her home every single time,

She cracked jokes about rapists waiting for her in the dark of the night.

33

One night, after,

He held her and made her laugh for an hour,

She thought this could be what love looked like, when you watched above from a tower.

That night, she did not fight, instead slept in his arms,

It felt just right.

Continue reading

Of ghost towns and empty hearts

Laura drove her four by four, along a path that could best be described as flattened ground on a bulbous terrain, created by the constant patter of horse hoofs, ages ago. With a buoyant spurt of flora along the path, Laura realized that it was she who had revived it for her journey to Animas Fork, a ghost town in Colorado, after what must have been months or years perhaps. Her freshly aligned jeep tires effortlessly trampled every clueless growth along its path, as it made its way through the winding mountain to reach the top.

Just like its name, the approach route forked into sudden directions in an animated ballet of a mischievous elf. Driving up the path was like chasing Johnny across their massive yard that was almost always strewn with toys. You never know, where the boy might turn, when he might turn or how he might turn.

And finally when Laura would huff and puff and shout in a labored breath that she gave up. Johnny would laugh and say, “See how I tricked you, this is how a Zebra’s stripes create a zigzag illusion, Mummy!”

Laura laughed at the memory just as soon as tears trickled down her smiling face. She did not bother to wipe them away, instead she slowed down and she willed time to slow down as well, willed that lifelike memory of Johnny to stay, wished she could live in that memory a thousand years. Johnny was gone, just one instant, one moment when she had looked away, and he had run down the road chasing a kitten; one flash of a truck with the driver distracted by his buzzing phone. One life lost.

Since then Laura’s life had been all about “what if’s”. What if she hadn’t looked away? What if the kitten had decided to cross Johnny’s path a second later? What if Johnny had been distracted just enough to miss seeing the kitten? What if the driver had kept his phone on silent? What if the call had come a second later?

The “what ifs” had haunted Laura for months and they still did. What if Johnny was still alive; she would not be dead inside.

It had been eleven months and twenty-three days now, and she was finally in a condition to take up a solo assignment. It was to create a photo diary of America’s ghost towns. She had already covered Centralia in Pennsylvania; Bodie in California and now it was Animas Fork, Colorado.

222988_8fc542ced0ee8eae6772bbc014521d1431ab46e6_970x400

The sun had hidden itself behind the horizon of an infinite sky. Millions of stars lit up clear Colorado skies, stars that peeked through tall pine trees lining the woods in a zigzag medley, dangerously claiming the path Laura rode on.

Continue reading

L8 CMMR

headphones20smoking20smoke20smokes20rain20on20glass_www-wall321-com_21

‘Why don’t you work from home?’ Sandhya said, her voice drowning in the pitter-patter of the sudden rain and the relentless honking of the stranded vehicles. She said, louder this time, ‘Why don’t you work from home? From my home?’

His fingers tapped on his wrist-watch. He raked a hand through his wet hair and she caught the faintest whiff of sweat. ‘You stay nearby?’ he asked. Why would he ask that? Of course he knew. Although he hadn’t been home, they’d spoken about it occasionally. She’d mentioned how she walked to work and he’d joked how well that had been working for her. When he’d say something like that, she’d kick at his feet, or if no one was around, blow smoke on his face until he backed off, something she couldn’t imagine doing back in college when they were friends, good friends. She regarded him only briefly as he looked away outside the café at the rain and the people scurrying around to take shelter under heavy trees, holding his hesitance. A surge of chill, unaccounted by the cold howling wind, roused her body and she gripped his hand and stepped into the rain. Continue reading