I visited the House after several years

I visited the house after several years,

This time, not to spend my holidays-

My grandfather died.

 

Nothing had changed, except,

The porch was covered in moss,

And the stream behind the house was thinner.

Cousins from London and Zurich and Paris laughed endlessly,

Overwhelmed to see each other.

They exchanged usernames as I sat alone on a wet rock by the stream,

Recalling an afternoon from my teenage holidays.

The heat on my cheeks when he held my hand,

Our wrinkled feet dipped in the ice cold water,

A sin enough to forget each other by the following summer.

 

I walked towards my grandfather’s house,

As night fell slowly like curtains dropping after a magic show,

Stopped abruptly at the entrance. Remembering,

At the funeral I had overheard my brothers and father’s brothers-

They said they’d sell the house,

Before it was completely covered in moss,

For that wouldn’t yield them money enough.

 

Advertisements

Scribble Series #9-Writers’ Block

His blog posts became infrequent. The latest draft wasn’t touched up for a month.  Storey after storey, the high-rise completely covered the orphanage and the adjacent park from his view.

The builders successfully created a permanent writers’ block for the paralysed poet.

 

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

For a Day

It was an unusual day. He, with a torn towel on his shoulder,  zealously swept the floor and wiped the glass windows. It was a big day for the small roadside eatery. A film scene was to be shot at the place. The hero and Miss Priya would be shown drinking coffee. So he also polished the cups till they shone. Actually, he was more excited about the actress than anything else. He never missed her movies. She was beautiful. She danced well. Her voice was that of a nightingale. She was his secret fantasy.

He was cleaning tables when the crew arrived. Within moments the eatery was crowded with people, with cameras, large lights, microphones. Some people were carrying clothes. The actors were surrounded by security. He earnestly tried to look for Miss Priya. But there were too many people. His master welcomed a few important looking people inside and tried shooing him away, who was eagerly waiting for a glimpse of his favourite actress. As he turned to retreat into the kitchen, looking crestfallen, a man with a beard called out to him. The man wanted him to casually clean the tables in the background when the actors would drink coffee. For a second he couldn’t believe his ears. He would be shot too. He would be sharing a screen with his favourite actress. He couldn’t contain his happiness. Vigorously shaking his head, he responded in agreement. Later, during the shoot, he was lost in his effort in cleaning tables. Never in these five years had he cleaned that surface with such determination. His trance was broken by a fellow, who approached him and handed out two hundred rupee notes. When he looked up, he saw the crew packing up. The actors were nowhere in sight. None of the other important looking people were around. The boy handed him the money and left without a word. 

Quickly shaking off the vague feeling of sadness, his imagination took flight. Probably it was his start, he would slowly become famous, directors would notice his hard work and his fearless presence before the camera. And they’d call him. And someday, he too, would sing and dance with the lady of his dreams. He would hold her hands on mountain tops and near waterfalls, walk on white sand beaches, in ornate gardens, or on American streets. Twisting and turning in his small bed at one end of the eatery, he didn’t realise when he had drifted off to sleep, smiling to himself.

But on all the following mornings, he woke up to the yells of an angry master and carried on with work, the torn towel on his shoulder.

Scribble Series #6

I have been standing for almost a couple hours. This is getting harder for me by the minute. I can feel cold sweat trickling in slow motion down the sides of my cheeks, and patches of sweat on my eyebrows, tickling me uncomfortably. My glasses keep slipping off. Standing behind at least fifty people, in the considerably large hall, furnished with designer desks and chairs and cobwebs hanging from the yellowed ceiling, I’m profusely sweating in spite of the chilly November cold. I can feel an overwhelming numbness approaching my left leg. My wristwatch says I have half an hour before my next insulin shot, which I cannot miss. A quick mental calculation tells me that I only have fifteen minutes to reach the counter and finish my business after which I have to walk back home, wash my hands and feet, without which my wife wouldn’t let me take a step inside the house; and take the shot. I wish I hadn’t retired. Then I wouldn’t have to stand in this stupid queue every month, waiting to collect my pension. 

The queue is moving faster now. I check my wristwatch again. I still have five minutes and there are ten more people ahead of me. I can now see the man behind the counter. I stare at him like a hawk fixes his gaze upon his prey. The number of people before me reduces by the moment. And finally, I am standing behind just one customer. I wipe the sweat off my forehead with the back of my hand and re-adjust my glasses, regaining motivation to wait some more. But this customer seems to take an eternity. My patience magically vaporizes. The numbness in my leg is reappearing. Fresh beads of sweat break out on my skin. And there- she is done. As I eagerly rush to the front of the counter, a mechanical voice echoes across the hall- “All functions shall resume after lunch”. The man behind the counter throws at me a swift glance and leaves his seat. 

This story is purely a work of fiction and has no resemblance to actual services at the bank or any such sector. 

Scribble Series #3

The old man was there as usual. They looked at each other briefly as John made his way to the rickety bench at the remotest end of the park, where the old man was seated.

John walked to the park everyday at dusk, to spend a few hours alone before clamming himself up in his one-roomed flat, on his way back from his bakery. His favourite bench in the entire park was the oldest and the dirtiest. Nobody ever used it, save for the other aged man. John was more than happy. He wasn’t socially awkward, but liked to spend most of his time alone, especially this time of the day.

The old man, his neighbour, a retired clerk, looked much older for his years. Life hadn’t been kind to him. He had lost his beloved wife shortly after marriage and was left with an infant daughter. After several years, his daughter grew up to have an admirable intellect and a heart of gold. Betty, apple of her father’s eye, grew up to be a social worker, nursing diseased tribes in the deep forests of Africa. She had left home shortly after earning a diploma and flew away to pursue her dreams. She wrote to her father regularly, who wasn’t well equipped with the complicated Internet. Betty was away for almost five years, and the old man’s heart ached to see his only kin. She had promised to return soon, in her letters she had delightfully announced to have found a charming man for herself, and wanted to marry him in her father’s presence.

John sat quietly with his head down as he recalled his beautiful days with Betty, in Africa. She was the most magnificent person he had ever come across. They were happy together…she had wanted to marry him at her family church…they had made all arrangements…But Fate smirked at their attempts at planning their future- after all it was she who pulled the strings according to her whim. A week before their departure, Betty was diagnosed with a fungal infection that steadily spread in her blood. Vivid images flashed across his mind as John recalled how the doctors were removing the life support after confirming her death. He was completely shattered and couldn’t stay there anymore. He decided to move to Durham, Betty’s birthplace and start afresh. He lived alone, and ran a bakery. Every evening, he visited the park at dusk and spent a few hours in quiet solitude to think about his beloved. He loved the rickety bench because it gave him a perfect view of the sunset. Betty loved sunsets.

The old man had only received a telegram from the organisation she worked for. Carefully counted words told him of her death. The telegram was followed by a monetary compensation. The heartbroken father, helpless, routinely spent a few hours on the bench alone, thinking about his daughter, watching the sun, set. Betty loved sunsets.

Eventually, John got up and turned to face the old man who was preparing to leave. The old man looked at the handsome stranger who looked oddly familiar, for a few seconds. They held their glances once again, a quiet goodbye. They were headed home, and walked away in opposite directions.