Daddy’s little girl…

http://www.creativeadawards.com/hurt-girl/

You lug yourself forward, it hurts in places you did not know existed, until now. You drag yourself ahead; your body is heavy, panting like a dog in a desert. You are all alone, but that is a relief. You don’t mind dragging yourself to the bed stand, you don’t mind using the dying strength in your arms to slowly lift your upper body, and plop it on the bed. You don’t mind being alone; in fact you are positively relieved in your solitude. Because the alternative, the alternative to being alone propels you into tears of dread, misery and frustration.

You know that for at least another three to four hours, you will be alone. That time would help you lick your wounds, huddled in the corner of your bed. But before that you need to check, check your body, check your bones, check your face. No cuts, no visible wounds, no broken bones; that is your first priority; because the last thing you want is for people to notice. Your abdomen screams in pain, so does your nine months old daughter, she screams in hunger. Your abdomen can wait maybe, but not your daughter.

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Mean Animals

“When I was a kid, I used to nag – a lot. I would go to my room, shut the door, often latch it from inside, and talk to the posters of animals in my room and nag some more. Yell out my side of the story, seek sympathy, say things out loud that hurt me. Talk about other the mean kids. Yell out bad words.”

Mom would barge in and say, “Keep the door open baby. Don’t latch it from inside.”

“But why mom?”

“Because kids shouldn’t be confined in their rooms all alone. That’s why. God forbid, if something goes wrong, we wouldn’t even come to know about it.”

“Okay. Fineee, mom!”

“And that happened every other day. Any time things went wrong, or upset me, I did the same thing; locked myself in and talked to these lifeless posters for hours and hours.  And it was not always just a one sided vent. These animals talked too. And I listened to them more than I listened to my best friend, or my teacher, or my own parents.  And this went on, say, till I was in my late teen years.”

“And then what happened?” asked the doctor.

boy-and-dog

“Then it stopped. Obviously. I grew up.”

“But why is it the obvious, Sam?” Continue reading

Goodbye and all that “stuff”

I am shoving her suitcase in the car trunk and then shoving it further down between her other bags, is when she says, “what are you doing? Be gentle! This one’s fragile.”

“Yeah?” I say, “Unfortunately I am not your cabin crew … and put a fucking sticker on this thing. Make it bold.”

“I have put a sticker on it. And it is bold. Look,” she points.

“Well then make it more bolder. I can barely see it,” I say.

“There is no such thing as, “more bolder””, she corrects me.

“Well, there is now,” I say, “And sorry, I am not born or brought up or moving to America, unlike some other people. For me, more bolder means, more bolder, you get it? Something I can see or read from 20 mtrs away … And oh! Boulder also means something I want people to get smeared by, when they annoy me.”

“I am sure, you can read this from far. If only you want to,” she says.

“Nope! I can’t. I can’t read or write things. I am stupid. Okay?”

She breathes deeply. Looks away and looks back at me.

“Really? Right Now? God! You are such a jerk” she says, not loud enough for me to hear it but loud enough to grab my attention.

“I heard that!”

“Good. Coz I wanted you to!” She yells, walking towards the house and slams the door behind her.

all-that-stuff

I stand there, staring at the open car door and appreciating a pigeon fidgeting with a dark spot on the windshield. His feathers are messed up. He is probably hungry too, but look at him; he is so calm and beautiful, he is not shouting at me, plus he is not even flying to a different country by himself. Even though he could – free of cost. This pigeon is a star!

Why can’t she be like this? Why does she have to either be an ugly monk or a raging bitchface?  Why there is no in between?

And a voice from within, that I am way too familiar with, shoots up to my head and whispers, “stop it! You know it’s you. It’s always you. She’s more of a gentleman than you are. She has the calmness of a bomb squad, you on the other hand, look like you are always in a moshpit of a metal concert, elbowing the person behind you. Screaming, “Hell yeahhh!!!”, or whatever the fuck they yell in moshpits.”

And while I am having a moment with myself, she comes back with some more stuff. She has more luggage labeled as “stuff” than what should be called as “stuff”. And all her “stuff” come with her other “stuff”. Because she buys “stuff” and doesn’t throw them away. Then she buys more stuff to match the “stuff” that she has bought before. So there are twice as many and as much “stuff” with her than there should have been in the first place.

She stands and looks at me for help.

“What?” I shrug.

“What what?” Help me with these, she says, pointing at her “stuff”.

So then, I stuff all her “stuff” with all her other “stuff” in the car. Fuck it! It’s all stuffed now.

“Happy?” I bang shut the door. She frowns.

And we drive away to the airport. She is checking her phone and I am honking at every next person; scooters, bikers, fucking autorickshaws, vegetable vendors. All of them. The Madmax in me is looking to ram this car somewhere. Take it to a desert and destroy it, put it on fire. Cut through a bridge railing and drown it in the sea. Call it a day and die somewhere. I am done.

But since I can’t do all that, I play the FM at a deafening level. She doesn’t say much, gives me the look and turns the volume knob down. So I give her the look now and I turn it back up. She turns it back down. I turn it back up. She turns it back down.

I take a pause. My hands are reaching to turn it back up, but I am also a little scared …

“Staaaaaaaphhhhh it!” She yells.

The rebel in me still wants to turn it up, but what’s the point, really? I don’t like that kind of noise either. It would annoy me more than it would annoy her. So I let it be. But in my head, I haven’t lost this to her. I have lost this to myself. Which is fine, I don’t mind losing to myself.

And then I drive ZIG-ZAG, don’t slow down at speed breakers, break signals, honk occasionally at no one, and also sudden unexpected breaks are my new favorites at this moment.

Next, I switch off the AC at a signal.

“What’s that for?” She says.

“Saving petrol.”

“Fine!” She says. Wipes sweat off of her forehead. I check my face in the mirror. My cheeks and ears are burning with the heat and the frustration that I have brought upon myself.

I peek outside the window like a dog. Bark at the traffic. Honk harder. Abuse pedestrians in local language, that I can barely speak.

You see, I don’t usually do these things. I am not “that” guy. But today I have turned into one and at this point, I am also afraid, that if someone abuses me back in the same language, I wouldn’t have a comeback. I would lose the fight and probably get beaten up. Yelling at random no-ones is never a smart thing to do anyway. You don’t know which sidewalk the next Jeffrey Dahmer is walking on.

She sits through all this. Unbuzzed. Fiddles with her phone. Breathes heavily. Stares at me occasionally- with love, anger and pity.  I don’t look back. She knows me and knows how I behave in the moments when I don’t know how to behave.

Now we are at the parking lot of the airport, I put her luggage in the cart, roll it up the escalator and turn left at the end of it. She turns right.

“Hello? Where are you going? It’s this way.” I say, pointing at the signboard.

“How do you know how to read a bold signboard, when you don’t know how to read or write bold things? It’s such a paradox.” She giggles.

“Well. Ha Ha” I mock her.

At the entrance, where we stand, her passport is in her left hand with ticket printouts sticking out of it.

“18 months,” she says, sliding her phone in the back-pocket of her jeans.

“18 fucking months, that’s fucking long. Okay? ”I say.

“I know. I know. I know. But don’t put it like that and it will be over before you know. Also we will Skype. Daily. I promise. Okay?”

“Yeah, well that never goes well.” I say, “People die. Haven’t you seen that movie … what’s it called? Befriended or Unfriended … or something like that?”

“Shush … it’s not important and listen it will be fine … trust me. This is not a movie. Although at this point it almost seems like one. But it isn’t.  And please don’t make it a sad goodbye.” She stands on her toes and kisses me on my cheek.

“Alright! If you insist.”

“Yes. I do.” She says. “Now smile.” She hugs me. I hug her back, but not like how I usually hug her. “This hug is as cold as her intentions right now.” I tell myself.

“Yeah whatever.” I say, and push her to the entrance, “you are late.”

And she waves back at me and disappears in the mob.

“She is never coming back,” I tell myself. “And if she ever does. She will never be the same. I know this. I have seen enough movies to claim that I exactly know how this will end.”,  I keep talking to myself holding a teardrop or two as I walk my way back to the car.

When I open the car-door, a kitty cat from nowhere appears and hugs my leg. So I pick it up and drive him home. Feed him milk or something.

“The animal has found me in these dark times to keep me company” I tell myself, “because, I guess, animals know these things?”

Murder is easy – A Sherlock Holmes mystery

“Murder is easy, as long as you don’t make it look like a murder.” He said. Using hand to scratch his crotch fervently, in a dog like frenzy when it’s trying to bury a bone.

“So, you mean that it’s easy to commit a murder as long as you make it look like an accident, suicide or illness.” I spoke, seriously concerned about his hygiene while he ardently moved on to scratch his butt cheeks now.

“Took you long enough to catch up, detective.” He looked at me from head to toe, disdainful. As if his East London lodging was any better than my Irish accent.

“In that case, Mr. Holmes, the death of Dr. Watson is not an accident. I’d be loathe to tell you this, but now you would be considered the primary suspect. Because you were the last person to see him.” I said.

“Also, I am loathe to tell you, Detective, while I might be your primary suspect, I am also your greatest ally, because I am after all ‘the Sherlock Holmes’.” He said that while tipping his hat with his left hand and awkwardly itching his long beard with his right. He coughed up something awful, and removed his tell tale hat that looked like it had tiny holes burrowed by very hungry mice.

“You see detective….” he continued, looking at me questioningly and murmuring about my Irish origins.

“Boyle..” I offered.

sherlock-doodle

“Yes detective Boyle….. A common Irish ancestry, I presume. You see Dr. Watson here had invited me over for tea this evening, while his wife Mary and their son has been visiting their aunt in Watford. We had an hour-long tete-a-tete about this and that, in which he mentioned that just last week he had cleaned his shotgun. Therefore, I honestly don’t think he would feel the need to clean it again.”

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The Guard

Twice already, the guard, against his will, has entertained the access requests of her new acquaintances – who reek of tobacco and sexual desperation – tonight.

Over the intercom, she sounds a bit woozy, and her lisp – that often titillates the guard – is fiddling with her diction, and cannibalising the words and turning them into a puzzle of some kind.

“But madam,” the guard says, faking a cordial tone and suppressing an urge of defiance, “he doesn’t have an ID proof on him.”
“That’s okay, I know him personally. Let him in,” she commands.
And he compels himself to say, “Alright. Could you please come downstairs and sign for him?”,
“Yes. I will!”

And the third time tonight, she is at the entrance gate, arching her body like a sloppy contortionist, to sign the register, and while doing so, the strap of her brassiere falls sideways, and the guard, in his full capacity, pretends to remain oblivious to the sexual tension that she has ignorantly weaved around him.

peephole

While the visitor, who clearly doesn’t know her that well, is standing at a little distance; smoking a cigarette and impatiently waiting for certain events – that he looks assured of – to unfold.

And then they both hug, a cold detached side-hug, and walk in the direction of the window that opens to her bedroom on a floor above the ground.

The guard’s eyes follow them, till they mould into elongated shadows, that soon collapse into each other and becomes a distorted sketch of temporary tenderness. Continue reading

Hard candy for Diwali

I knew I was going to regret today the minute I woke up. A strong cloud of foreboding hung over my head and after almost a year I found myself craving for a Chocalate Ganache. My stomach tore in desire as I searched my fridge for anything, anything fattening or gluttonous or sinful. All I found were ragi flavored breakfast bars.

I stuffed the bar in my mouth and flakes of bland ragi dropped on my white tee. How did I ever eat this shit for 365 days? I thought. I kept stuffing not one, not two but three of those bars down my throat and simultaneously dusting off the big flakes off my clothes.

Bam, at the stroke of noon my mobile shrilled with Meghan Trainor singing that it was all about her base. The call was from mummy. She was demanding why I was not at her place helping her with all the cooking and other shit that always needs to be done.

moitchur-ke-ladoo

By the time she was done yelling at me, which was exactly 15 minutes, I was in an creased red chudidaar with a torn dupatta. I knew I could cleverly conceal the tear if I wore the dupatta right.

Another fifteen minutes of almost empty roads, I entered my parent’s home. Some may call it a mansion, I called it the fancy house of terrors, mostly because my mother lived there. As I entered the drive way I saw a red santro that belonged to my sister and her two kids. There was another that belonged to my widowed aunt and finally Munna uncle’s land rover, my mother’s younger brother.

I groaned, loud enough that the mansion’s watchman jerked towards me, twisted his head and gave me the “Are you alright, lady?” stare.

The living room smelled like a strange concoction of diya oil, motichor laddoos, marigold flowers and the stench of cigarettes. One sweep across the room and I took in my mother screaming at my twelve year old niece to be nice to Munna nanu, my sister screaming at mummy to leave her alone, my father screaming at them to take their bickering elsewhere because Arnab was debating about the steel flyover, my six year old nephew crashing into my pelvis and my aunt, who sat knitting sweaters in Bangalore with a glass of red wine.

In that instance I knew the reason for my daylong foreboding, this family, these people who I had managed to escape for last three years, working abroad. With a sinking feeling I realised I was back where I started.

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Radio

Some of my childhood memories are about dad being all weird and having a strange relationship with his radio.

We would flock out behind him every morning, pressed against his leg like clueless kittens and he would stare out of the window at nothing for a good fifteen minutes, sipping his own made tea and smoking his own rolled cigarette, as the BBC tune in the background reached its crescendo.radio

During the summer vacation hot afternoons, when we pretended to sleep, the radio would transition from the news updates to the early 70s songs and then back to the news again, but dad – on purpose – would skip the songs that we craved for so much and tune into the news stations and would listen to the same news over and over again.

In my infant years, I believed, dad was an encyclopaedia and knew everything, just by listening to the news from all over the world, but in my adolescent years, I was just confused about his behaviour and doubted his ability to retain information.

The first time I brought Sarah, my girlfriend then and my wife now, over to my place, she said, “What’s with your dad and his radio?”, and I couldn’t think of a good answer and sat next to her blinking. Continue reading