Halloween gone wrong…

“Tonight, some one is going to kill us. Pick us off one by one, when we least expect it, when we think we are safe in our cozy dorms, snuggled up to our furry feline friends; the killer is going to come unnoticed, sneak up on us and before our cats can even raise an alarm, bury a hatchet in our brain and watch in rapt fascination when tissues of grey matter squiggle out of the only deep opening in heads.” I said in a silent whisper, hoping that I sound menacing enough to scare the girls.

“Ahhhh” I hear two, satisfyingly, loud intake of breaths just as Fuschia, my Persian cat, snuggles up to me demanding a belly rub.

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“Jasmine, you can do better than that. Come on, this remotely sounding prophetic statement wouldn’t scare an 9 year old, forget 19 year olds.” Laura, my nemesis, spoke clearly exasperated by our incompetence to scare each other.

But then again, I knew she had it in for me. From her ordinary mousy brown hair to her spectacled black eyes; from her evident poo belly to her H&M’s clearance sale clothes; Laura was not the type who would be asked out on a date even if she were the last girl in the dorm. Continue reading

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The day Pikku disappeared

I make myself believe that I clearly remember the day Pikku disappeared. I remember the bright rays of sunshine that shone through our windows. I remember the smell of pancakes wafting up through the steps into our room. I remember mummy and daddy talking loudly, about something, something inconsequential to the memories of that day. I remember Pikku lifting my blanket and peeping inside, grinning. Her front two teeth were missing. All I saw were pink gums, bright blue eyes and flushed cheeks. Her brown hair fell in ringlets around her chubby face as she tickled me and ran down the steps giggling. I ran behind her, laughing loudly, “You chump, you absolute chump, I am going to get you.” I shouted. This was our weekend routine.

It always took me a while to settle into the skin of an elder brother, a whole two and half years older. Now that I am an adult, I realize how easy it is for a child to forget, forget that he is growing up. Continue reading

Facial Hair

 

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I woke up with a full-fledged beard. Lush, unruly, reckless. I stood before the mirror, stroking it, trying to come to terms with the man I had ceased to be – the man with at best a week’s accrual of patchy stubble. I nudged the bathroom door shut to the studio apartment outside, muting its early morning smallness, containing myself to the confines of this room with its slick blue slippery tiles, steamy air and an indifferent white glow of the light bulb. With that beard, a smattering of hair on my chest and those idle pecs, I could pass for a married man. A young father.

Neighborhood women peek through the curtains at me, as I walk my daughter to the school, imagining, I’d like to believe, what I would be like in bed. We stay in a quiet locality with broad streets lined with tall trees. In the evening, the kids are often out on the streets to play. My daughter is five. I take her out for a walk except on Sundays when her mother takes her to the park near my in-laws’ place. On Sundays, I smoke. That Sunday, I was up on the terrace, smoking, and getting some fresh air. The sky was open and the air carried a certain chill. I ambled about, panning a dizzying vista of lit windows, watching families at dinner table, or in the living room watching TV. Continue reading

Don’t talk to Bob

“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?

Stay calm

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.

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“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.

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“The Pig”

You walk stomping in an urgent pace through the corridors of the old school. Your footsteps echo throughout the abandoned building intruding a comfortable silence that reigns.

What was it like? You wonder. What was it like when I studied here? Garish laughter, childish screams, pitter patter of tiny feet assault your memories and a loss of the days long gone envelops your being.

Your foot steps slow down and you can almost hear the clanging of bells just like it did for lunch break. Another ten minutes, that is all it will take. You tell yourself. The huge sack you carry on your back weighs you down.

You hear a light giggle from some where behind you. You turn around, your heart rate shoots up and sweat trickles down your forehead.

“Who is it?” You ask. Loudly. Louder than you actually meant to. “Who is it? Who is it? Who is it?” Your voice echoes through the empty corridors mocking you. Your own voice reverberating, ricocheting off the walls, reminding you that it is truly YOU who is the intruder here. The fine hair in the back of your neck stand hard, hard enough to cause a subtle, buzzing pain down your spine.

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You wait for the echoes to die down and shine your torchlight all around you. All you see are tiny rodents skittering about in search of another rodent to eat.

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The Forest

They say the forest is enchanted, magical and mystical. Some say it is haunted, some say it is dark. Some hear the wailing of trees in the night beckoning them to ease the thirst of old gnarled roots, some feel whispers wafting in the dark, asking them to join the forest in its loneliness.

I stand here, old and gnarled like the roots of the forest trees. I stand before it, at the entrance, wondering if I should step in. The breeze beckons me inside, and the tall trees, bend into one another to form a dome, asking me to join them.

I mumble to myself, “yes…yes I am coming in. I know it is time.” An old, bitter man. Barely able to walk ten feet without a wheezing fit. Stooping to almost half my height, I don’t represent the truth. The truth of what I was, the truth about what has made me. To everyone else, except the forest, I am just another sweet old man.

I shuffle through the rustling leaves, fallen, crunching in excited chatter. The moist ground beneath me, feels soft, soft like that of Mary’s breasts, even her body. The way it would melt inside me, when I would take her in my arms.

Impatience grows, when the breeze whooshes past me, and the trees sway in an angry dance. The forest is asking me to hurry up. Mary always did that too. Asking me to pick up my pace. Mary was always running somewhere, always impatient. As if, she was forever in a race against time. She walked faster, ate faster, made love faster, lived faster, except dying. Dying was slow; it took hours for the life to disappear from her eyes.

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I am almost half a mile inside the forest now, the trees rejoice in an elegant ballet of vacillating branches. They are not lonely anymore. I smirk, “So much, so much like my Mary.” Just like her, the forest too, couldn’t stand loneliness. And just like her, the forest too would invite any stranger into its home, to feel less forlorn, to feel a head rush, a passing adventure, a temporary joyride, a momentary fling.

“I am coming, I am coming.” I shout out loud. Somewhere deep into the woods, I hear the forest wailing. A cry; a loud mewling of a baby, who has been denied food for a long, long time. A baby who can sense its mother about, a baby demanding the attention it deserves.

I shuffle further inside the winding narrow mud paths, created by the young, energetic feet of trekkers and campers. They are a complex network of veins that carry blood into the pumping heart of the forest. The wailing grows louder, whinier and impetuous. My shuffling grows faster, sure and eager. I don’t want to keep the forest waiting anymore.

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Being Elsewhere

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Adil felt a fresh frisson of excitement watching the vista of the Blue Mountains unfolding before him. He clutched Girish’s handsome hand. Girish had, despite numerous nudges from Adil, dozed through the entire journey up the mountains until a few moments ago when a rough stretch of snores had woken him up. Adil couldn’t stop smiling – the day had finally dawned when he’d be travelling as Aditi – with a man. A tall dark man. His nails dug into Girish’s cheeks as he pinched them and Girish offered a tired smile. “Oh, don’t be such a downer, get excited already, we’re here, we’re hereContinue reading