Conquering a Demon

“Shhhh, careful!”, fearful, Jule hissed from behind us. “You shouldn’t have come with us. I knew you’d be scared and put up a fuss”, I scowled at her.

“Both of you be quiet, this isn’t the time for you to fight!”

We tiptoed around the table, past the long corridor and were able, to silently cross Aunt M’s bedroom. Even though I mocked Jule, in my heart of hearts, fear ruled. My mouth was as dry as the loaf Aunt M gives us for breakfast. I tugged hard at Moddy’s shirt.

“What?”, annoyed, he turned to look at me. “Aunt M might wake up anytime, it’s almost three.”

“Oh she won’t! Now keep quiet or go back, and I’ll do this on my own.”

I was too scared but I couldn’t let him unlock the cupboard alone. So I followed him with a silent groan. Not that I wanted to see my demon, but Moddy said it’d be the size of a lemon, since it fit into that little cupboard. Jule held on to my hand tight, and both of us with all our might, followed our leader closely.

Jule and I met Moddy last year during Christmas. He visits his grandma’s house every now and then, which is a few houses away from ours. This time, he came here to spend his summer holidays. “I don’t like you playing with him”, Aunt M says always. But we naturally reunited. We invited him over for lunch last week, little did we know that he’d seek an adventure later. No sooner had he entered the kitchen than the tiny white cupboard captured his attention. There was nothing else remarkable enough to evoke curiosity, but the white marble cupboard with flowers on it was exceptionally pretty. It was forbidden too. Aunt M always kept it locked, the keys hung from a peg high up on the wall. We weren’t supposed to go near it at all. It contained an ugly demon, who was locked up by Aunt, would otherwise come out in the night to hunt, little kids like us.

But Moddy did not seem convinced at all. “How can it hunt if it’s tiny enough to fit into a cupboard so small? Lies!”, he said. Although his words seemed wise, Jule and I never tried going near it, until he wanted to see how the demon fits. “No! You’re not supposed to see it. It looks terrifying. It has long canines, and only one eye. Has red hands and black fangs.”, I tried explaining. But Moddy was a headstrong kid. A little older to us, he was eight. Jule and I were young and naive. I was seven and she was five.

So we stood on the floor, eager but tense, glancing at the door every now and then. Moddy dragged a chair and climbed with ease. Within a moment he had the keys. Jule and I covered our faces, planning to flee before the demon chases. But as soon as the cupboard was unlocked, all three of us were surprised and shocked.

There was a row of large glass jars. They contained colourful treats- jellies and cookies and all kinds of sweets. “So this is the demon, ah-hah!”, Moddy smiled evilly, and embarked on the task of emptying them speedily.

And with my mouthful of red blue jellies, I wondered if it was a coincidence that Aunt M wasn’t quite fond of our friend.

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The weapon

He was later than usual. The night was very dark, it had also started snowing outside. All he carried was a cleaver in his hand. There was a slight wobble in his steps. Was he drunk?

The room was dark and quiet. He lit a candle, then took off his patched woollen coat and hung it on the peg. He lifted the hem a little- the blood had already dried and was almost invisible. Dried mud was stuck to the cloth. His coat smelled of fish, it was full of bloodstains. You cannot expect a butcher to take his coat off at work in this cold, especially when he can’t afford any other clothing. The stains were all dried and looked like rust. One cannot easily make out because of the dark wool and the dirt stuck to it. The stains looked more like a subtle pattern now, almost like a pretty design in the otherwise plain coat, he thought. He admiringly stared at his coat for a while. It looked pretty, he thought. Even if it smelled of fish and blood all day. He didn’t really mind the blood, he hadn’t decided about the fish yet.

He had placed the cleaver on the small table near the door. He looked down at it with the same air of admiration, feeling the dried trails of blood. He picked it up and walked to other door at the end of the room. A gush of ice cold wind hit him as he threw away the weapon he used to kill the man, and shut the door.

Snowflakes steadily gathered on the sharp metal outside.

Captive Speech

I paid a few thousands for my new pair today,
A fine new pair of scales,
A polished silver beam delicately embellished with an artist’s mind.
No, I’m no vendor, the pen is what I employ.
The scales are for me to carefully measure out my words,
Because the blotting paper can only soak up the periphery.
But a pair of polished silver scales? Oh they can do much more!
Keep me from accidentally spilling out words that you abhor.
I cannot deny that I am full of cowardice,
Unable to exist in the underground. I crawl back up with my puny spirit,
A perfidious poet, forcefully shutting my ears to the cries of revolution.
A half hearted agreement to my half hearted mind, “I need to stay safe”.
Within your ornamented walls of facade, I’ve agreed to perform.
Now I’m supposed to speak through your thick veil of rules,
My voice muffled…you’d hardly hear it over the censors.
So I don’t mind paying a a large price for my new silver scales.
If I am banned from speaking my mind,
I’d rather do it aesthetically.

Via Daily Prompts: Price and
Cowardice

Escape thoughts

I tried looking around quickly, they were locking the door again. I wanted to devour the whole room with my eyes in the limited time. Failed. The thin ray of dusty light disappeared at once as he closed the strong iron door behind him. This iron cell is meant for me. It gives me some pleasure to think that I cannot be contained in cement rooms with wooden doors. But being a prisoner is not nice anyway. A shudder ran down my spine. Do I have to spend the rest of my life here? It’s so damp. They’ve probably never opened this room before. A cockroach ran across the room. I could feel sweat trickling down. I think they looked like silver beads. They generally do. I cannot see in the dark. But I need to leave this room. I cannot see anything. It is too dark in here, there are no windows. No cracks and no holes. Crawled from one end to the other. The floor is sticky, dirt stuck to my moist palms. There aren’t any ventilators either I think. I looked up at the ceiling. I cannot see it. I am getting weaker day by day. Before they come with their tubes and vials tomorrow, I need to leave. I am scared of them. You shall think it’s a joke. I am formless, but a chameleon nonetheless. I peep inside human beings, and I seep in, slowly. Like water in crevices. And that’s how I win over. Usurp their lives. Limit them, cripple them, overcome their minds. I occupy very little space. Sleep inside a tiny oval structure, the size of a nut- amygdala. But it surprises even me to sometimes think of the things I’m capable of. It’s a nasty thing, you’d say. But who has ever won over hunger? Hunger for power. Sans shape, sans teeth, sans form, I have to exercise my power in every way I can. Scared of losing my identity, I started crawling frantically once again, on the seemingly never ending wall. I wish I knew what colour the wall was. I laughed at my fate. I feel scared. Fear. A restless feeling in a non existant heart. Like falling off a cliff. Or drifting away in the sea. Mapless. That’s how you describe me, I’ve heard. I’ve already spent countless hours in this room, spent from trying to find an escape route. Should I accept defeat? Should I stay here and watch them recreating me, reproducing me in more powerful ways, be content with it? After all, my purpose is being fulfilled. But they can’t strip me of my power. You cannot live feeling inferior. They’re using me to do what I am supposed to do after all. They are supposed to fear me too. I cannot be trapped. I have to run away. I fidget in the dark. My eyes are aching from relentless attempts to look in the darkness. You think of my insidious motives and shudder when alone, but the apparent sweetness in stretched smiles of your fellow beings is more wretched than my business. They come here everyday. They come in suits and glasses and polished shoes. Sometimes, they wear cheap nylon shirts too. They caught me with their tricks and tools. They are clever. Cut me up in formless polygons and squeeze out my strength. I am mixed with vibrant chemicals, stored in air conditioned rooms. Or they make thin barrels and triggers out of me. And egg shaped shells which induce fear.

Via Daily Post:  Identity

The treasure I never found

I had always looked at the staircase and wondered what could be behind it. The staircase didn’t seem to be in the middle of the space. I am sure they attached it to a wall with screws, a half-window half-wall. The window covered with a translucent piece of bright yellow tin. You couldn’t move the staircase, and so couldn’t reach the half wall. The railings had a lot of gap in between, but you still couldn’t see the half window. There was a translucent tin sheet on its journey of opacity. The stairs spiralled down, to a place I still don’t know. They removed their shoes at the landing. I was certain of a dark room which the stairs led to, its windows covered with tinted glass. Tinted glass windows was not too important, but the bathroom was a large dark hall with black flooring, tinted windows and a tub in the middle of it. I never peeped in to check if the tub had water, I was scared. The room had hidden treasures. Not hidden, they were all placed in the open darkness of the room. I wanted to climb down, but I never did. I don’t remember why. I didn’t tell anyone about my truth, not because they’d laugh, for I didn’t think they would laugh. I climbed up and down the stairs. The railings were covered in cobwebs. They weren’t fresh spider-webs glistening in the sun. There was no sun at the bottom of the stairs, nor at the top. The stairs were red, not a bright red. The railings were black, neither shiny, nor faded. They existed in their shade of black, like most railings do. And they were beautifully carved. Or not. Maybe they were just ordinary. The shoes- they were mostly sandals, old, wearable at home. I can’t remember if there was a bulb hanging from the top, a dim yellow bulb…I think I want to sit on the steps. Dust on the stairs, it is an old building nevertheless. And worn out cobwebs on the railings. I can draw shapes on the dust. I should have just climbed downstairs. I wasn’t scared whatsoever. I wanted to wait, to grow up to know if I would still believe in treasures and go look for them down the spiralled…no, it wouldn’t be a skeleton still. If only I had known that I would lose it all, lose my staircase! If only I had known, I would have climbed down. I’ll probably never know ever if the stairs led to hidden treasures stored in the open, it’s a road that crumbles behind you as you move forward. But God, I would love to know what was behind the staircase, maybe the tin has rusted, and falling off, and I can see without dismantling the staircase. Otherwise, storing it would be a problem, I cannot twist it more than it already is, and you can’t fold it either. Someone has to hold it the entire time I look out through the half window, and it’s too heavy for one person. What if I want to look out of the window the next day again? The ice cream vendor sells a different flavour everyday. The half window probably has intricately designed grilles and I can’t put my hand out. It is unlikely though, because I’ve never seen convincing silhouettes through the tin. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll find faint scratches on the floor from where they have dragged the vessels out.

Mad-Method

Polonius said of Hamlet-  Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.

A frenzied flurry of pain,

Follow the same old pattern,

Jump from one blood vessel to another-

Bursting each open.

Faces move past in a blur, like streetlights through the window of a speeding car.

It’s the first step I take every time.

Second, I pause at each face.

I am belted on to the driver’s seat, my left foot on the brake.

A maddening reluctance to feel safe, a desire to fall step by step,

Into a dark abyss of repetition. Of methodical heartbreak every time.

Like scientific results of frenzied experiments.

Maddening results repeated every time.

Who evades the fall? I ask.

Those who speed past faces…fall into an unimaginably circular habit,

Of not falling at all.

And some

Keep going back and forth

To new faces and old,

New faces and old.

Because human actions are a methodical folly-

Repeated in circles and circles more.

Fear

Mr. Bhusan was up at five in the morning as usual. Hastily washing his face, he opened the small window by the wooden table and got down to finishing his latest novel. It was the thirty-third draft, which he was about to discard, out of his eternal, persistent fear. Mr. Bhusan has remained an aspiring writer from his teenage, owing to the fact that he never managed to complete any of his works in over two decades. How could he? He has always suffered from an intense fear, almost like a phobia- his fear of unknowingly writing something that already exists. Of course the ideas could be similar, but what if his entire work turned out to be an unintentional copy of someone else’s work?

It all started some twenty-five years back, when Mr. Bhusan won a prize at his college for an essay. Since then, he decided to become an author. He confided in his sister his dreams, who had playfully remarked, “Beware, you might write something which already exists, and you won’t even know.” Alas, what was said in innocent humour proved to be Mr. Bhusan’s biggest fear. He wrote dozens of poems, expressing his love for doe-eyed women who he hadn’t met; tons of pages, novels about lost empires, heart-breaking tales about failed marriages and about anything possible under the heavens. But he never built up the guts to read them out in close circles of family or friends, let alone publish it. He wrote pages and pages and tore them down to unidentifiable pieces. There was his reason, lying in the open- who knew if some author hasn’t already penned down exactly the same things? He would be laughed at by the others. Or worse, people would call him a cheat. He was scared for a reputation which he hadn’t built, in the first place. He never had the nerve to show anyone his works. He stared blankly, his hands shook and the soles of his feet went ice-cold when someone even vaguely mentioned of his literary practices.

After years of struggle, when last Sunday, he almost convinced himself of the originality of his work, like he had done before on rare occasions, he headed to the publishers. But as always, halfway to the office, he had to stop. His heart beat crazily, sweat broke out all over his face and there were visions of him standing upon a podium and his readers throwing his book at him, along with paper balls and eggs. All he could manage was to take a sharp about turn, and walk back home rapidly.

But the good thing about him, or so he thought, was that he did not discard his dream of becoming a writer. So he woke up early in the morning everyday to finish a few hours of writing before he went to the kitchen to prepare lunch for his wife, who was a professor, and very particular about timing. Presently, he was intently working on his thirty-fourth draft, when his wife’s shrill cry broke his trance. “I don’t know how I fell for an aspiring writer and still staying with the same aspiring writer after nineteen years. My life is a farce!”, screamed an infuriated Padma. Mr. Bhusan sighed, and quickly got up to go to the kitchen, so that his wife could leave the house as soon as possible. She wouldn’t understand. He needed a peaceful environment to think, concentrate and write. Probably this time, he would make it to the publishers…

Via Daily Prompts:

Farce