Tiger in a cage : Reflection on the repressed desires, a short story

28 Mar

Jameel was a middle-aged tourist guide in the regional national park in Mombasa, Kenya. It could be said in succinct that he was much too endowed than a ‘tourist guide’ is usually imagined as. He was tall and slim but not thin, he moved briskly with agility and grace at the same time. He was quite reflexive to the sounds, as he needed to be – from tourists and the jungle alike. His face was sharp with prominent jaw lines and the aviators complemented his countenance superbly.

Today, he had a little stubble which he couldn’t care for, in his morning routine as he had errands and a visit due to her grandmother at the hospital before going to work. He always had so much on his plate, much of what he enjoyed and accepted everything else as burden to be shouldered responsibly like attending school meeting for his younger sister, helping her with homework, cooking meals for his family which included a much too young sister and a much too old grandmother — being the parent for the lack of them. He always did everything to the best of his ability and time. Took every day as it came, for there wasn’t really a choice otherwise.

But there was a desire lurking inside him, kept shackled only by his earthly circumstances which he could break only in his imagination—daydreaming as some of us call it.

When we cannot fulfil something in the real world, we tend to do that in an alternate reality in our mind. He did that too, but he was resolute in bringing that to the real world. He wanted a car, all for himself not rented or leased but his own, almost like an extension of himself, which he could drive and feel at the steering like the proud captain at the helm of a ship.

Amongst all the vain and childish desire that he had managed to kill conveniently, throughout his years growing up. This one was a survivor and he took cognizance of it by toiling tirelessly day and night, saving up. But somehow, he always fell short.

Today, while returning from the hospital he thought to himself ‘I need to keep some money saved for in case Kiki needs hospital care for long and it will be a wise for if she does not need it Luna will need it for her university and if I keep saving, it will contribute to my car’ He smiled at himself, he had successfully tricked his mind like a ring master would put a tiger in a cage but one day the tiger will explode out of it, Hopefully.

Different mornings – A piece about the start of the day

27 Mar

Waking up is the best part of the day when I am at home, especially in the winters. It usually is by the chatter of the news reporters on the television which my father puts up, only as a morning routine and paying no attention whatsoever while reading his newspaper and sipping his richly sweetened ‘chai’, the aroma of which fills the room and for me is enough to awaken my senses. After wishing him good morning and exchanging a quick untainted smile, I settle on my Sofa with my phone and all the otherworldly thing it has to offer. The sofais placed such that the sun casts a wide arc of ‘stage light’, which tenderly warms me. My olfactory senses are soon attacked by an army of aromas from the kitchen, which usually, inevitably abducts me and bring me to my mom where her uncorrupted smile greets me. She offers me a rich cream milk, every sip of which lasts a lifetime on my tongue … my day begins.

On some days and usually earlier than my dad, it can be my mom in the prayer room chanting mantras and prayers with the metronomical beating of the prayer bell. Although, I have never noticed, if there is a difference on how the day progresses differently when it starts this way. This draws me into a more relaxed mood, almost like a continuation of my repose but in a more engaging way, I follow the sound trail and end up in the prayer room. I, am agnostic by belief but when the ambience is at harmony with the peace of the soul, I submit to whatever that is and indulge in it. Very, soon my gurgling belly demands for supplies and I find myself fishing for breakfast in the kitchen … my day begins.

On most days, when I am at work, the alarm bell rings and becomes a lullaby for the ensuing power nap and every passing minute becomes henceforth, the force which pulls the string of the slingshot and it finally snaps and sends me off in the mechanics of the day. My mind goes from sleep to a hyperfunctioning state in a matter of seconds, the acceleration can even beat a 2020 Tesla Roadster and suddenly I am brewing coffee and hardly finding time and space to appreciate one the most beautiful smell of the world, I am also getting ready in all possible ways – mentally and physically for the day that lies ahead.

There’s you – A poem about the overwhelming feeling of love

31 Jan

Everywhere I went,

Every person I met,

Every laughter I sent,

Every evening where the sun set.

There was you.

 

You live in tenses, all three;

The present, I live;

The past, I believe;

The future, we will be.

 

Aloof from the world we remain,

Living in it nevertheless,

There is nothing left to gain,

Except togetherness.

 

Eternal life is a myth,

They say with mouths stiff.

That forever has its limits,

But, we walk on the edge of a cliff.

 

To feel the strong sea,

and touch the ground beneath,

The waves are our life’s potpourri

The stars above and us Underneath.

One Summer

27 Jan

One summer, I made a sandcastle with my sister on the terrace of our old house, it was two flights of stairs and very sunny on the top, so our mother would advise us against it, rather prohibit us from going there in the noon time. And, we as all children are, were indomitable to do just the opposite of that, which usually is against our parents’ advice. So, we would wait each day for our mother to take her afternoon nap so that we could sneak into the terrace and work on it day-by-day, from architectural design, to building material to the engineering and the actual construction, it took us almost the whole of that summer to build it.

It is one of the most vivid childhood memories I have. Every day it would become more beautiful and bigger, we would never feel the thirst or the heat or the dirt on our hands, we were very enthusiastic, we were kids!

Some days, we would even have some wreckage due to winds or rapid drying of the sand or due to some birds while we were gone and some days we would just spend on repairing what was lost without making actual progress, well we did not have a blueprint or a timeline anyway, which was helpful in preventing us from being disappointed and, again, we were kids! But, slowly and surely, we thought that it will be complete even to our vague understanding of complete and that one day we would surprise Mom!

One day, it drizzled just a little bit and we enjoyed that because it was the first rain of that year and I had always loved it, so we danced in the rain, enjoyed it a lot, received some furious words of caution and warning from our mother about that too, about how we can fall sick if we played in it for too long. But, only after savouring the rain for all it was, did we stop and then waited to resume our project that afternoon. With a joy more than usual we climbed the stairs and to our dismay we found that our castle was washed away, with some pricking remains of it trying to hold on, in despair. It was hurtful to the eyes and our hearts, that months of our hard work, dreams and fantasies crumbled to a modest and innocuous rain which we ourselves had enjoyed so much not so long ago. I remember my sister crying and I not knowing what I was feeling, my sister wanted to work at it again and rebuild it. But I was dissuaded, and we never returned to it. The first few days were hard, every afternoon we would miss the ‘castle’, but as more days passed, we found comfort in the feeling that it is not the castle that is gone that we miss, we miss us working at it, together. The sand was cleared, and it gave way for a nice patio which we enjoyed growing up. Now, we never talk about it, something that once consumed us and our mind almost all of the day is now reduced to a distant memory, a memory which we now remember, and it only brings us happiness of the times we worked together.

When I reflect about it now after 20 years, I think that summer, taught me this:

  • Nothing lasts forever.
  • It is important to enjoy the moment.
  • Do not stop anyone from doing what they want, it will always be in their interest and the best for them.
  • It is the knowledge and our interpretation of things and events which can either make us happy or sad, not the thing itself.
  • It would be a prudent advice not to invest your feelings in something that is not permanent, but I know it is impossible to so.
  • We all need distractions in our lives.
  • Find someone to work on a common goal, the road becomes so much more enjoyable.
  • Moving on from something is not a sign of incapability or cowardice, not all the time at least.
  • You and only you are the best judge of that and everything else.

Thanks for reading!

Ruffled feathers and grace – Fiction

11 Apr

With much longing and anticipation, the day has finally come when he can forget about the ordinary, the everyday grind and fly to her. Standing at the airport check-in line, he is greeting people like he has known them for long, a smile so bright, refuses to leave his lips. Even the glare of Swarowski cannot compare to the light in his heart as he paces towards his boarding gate 43A at O’Hare. A long walk perhaps but everything seems small. He can feel everything right from his feet bouncing off the shiny floor to his thumping heart. While at the gate he ruminates to check if everything is in order right from remembering to have switched off the garden lights to his neck pillow.

He is already with her it seems; his phone is bombarded with text messages full of honey dew expressions of love from her. After a long haul and endless walking at the layovers at airports, he is now running to find the exit gate at the El Prat. After, a burst of saccadic movements of his eyes, they fixate on each other and the moment is frozen harder than a Daguerreotype.

Nothing needs to be said, only the bodies, allowed to talk. They entwine, envelope and embrace each other. Not even Nobel laureates hold their trophy with such pride and passion. There is one thing however, that seems to eat him away. “What is it darling?” Eva demands softly. “Nothing! my luggage hasn’t arrived” he replied raising his shoulders and forcing a smile which melted into a grimace. “So, what! We’ll buy you a new lot of clothes” she returned to her flow and lead him to the parking lot. “I have been such a fool, not keeping the ring in my cabin luggage, with me” he bleated silently and managed to say, “Of course darling”.

While revealing the plans she had made for them for the week she pauses, lowers the radio, picks up her phone “Yes, I will be there by 3, bye!” raises the radio and resumes. An anxious surprise on his face loomed vivid as he surmised that Eva needs to attend a meeting. She was a staunch believer in human rights and a devout War journalist, he never questioned her disposition. He smothered his desire to be with her which must have been fuelled by the long road he travelled to see her, he surmised again.

He waited and waited at Xiloka a small, family run restaurant where they had planned to meet for dinner that night, shook by the server’s reminder “Last order, Sir” He asked for another glass of Cava, generously tipped the server, exchanged greetings and headed for his hotel. The city has suddenly become colder and the time slowed down. Shook, again by the buzz of his phone “… sorry darling, will see you tomorrow” at midnight, he lost his senses. “maybe it is the jetlag” he surmised again and went back to sleep “okay” he texted back.

A bell boy hands him a note the next morning ‘Curfew in the city until, midnight’. He mutters ‘thank you’ in exasperation. A luxurious empty room for the day gives him the devils time to chain the dots, nothing seems to go as he had imagined. But nothing ever does, does it? He receives a phone call from his sister, during most which she was sobbing and barely managed to say “… Dad had an accident, he is in the ICU”.

Blow after blow, Alan’s thoughts were hazed and muddled, he couldn’t think clearly or keep his patience. He paced and stomped in the room, the sun was nowhere to be seen, through the big glass window overlooking the city with mountains in the distance, all that he could see was clouds, dark grey clouds. In a gush of the moment, he decided to call Eva to seek some solace and decided not to leave a message in the end. He called some friends instead, to check up on his dad but there was guilt simmering inside of him.

Just after the sun had set the phone rang, Evy calling it said. “Darling, how are you?” she said in excitement. “Not bad, darling”, noticing the sad undertone in his voice Eva went on “…I understand, but there is something I must tell you” The call lasted many minutes and had multiple crests and troughs, words seem to have eluded him but he grasped the information – Eva needed to leave on an assignment in Afghanistan to cover a civil unrest “…Pronto” was her last word. Alan trapped between understanding and demanding could collect himself to only say “Best luck, darling, stay safe!”. Eva jovially thanked him for his understanding.

He summoned his favourite quote from Marcus Aurelius – “You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength” and tried to sleepover the waves of thoughts that tried to crash over him. The second hand of the wall clock made the most screeching sound as he caressed the satin white sheets beneath him and rubbed his feet as if to generate some warmth.

He woke up to the menacing sun and took some time to make sure that if he had really slept. Mornings are very powerful, and he felt the dire need to be in the driving seat. He planned to meet Eva before she leaves for Afghanistan and leave himself for home, he did all of this while brewing his coffee.

People are clamouring over curfew in the café, Eva rushes in and says sorry for being late while settling herself and her luggage. “You are leaving soon, it seems. I ordered your favourite Strawberry shake and Nachos…” he says with a piercing gaze and calm eyes. The moment is frozen again. They have travelled from words to eluding words to no words needed. They understood each other. He exhaled a deep sigh like a pot of boiling water removed from the heat and thrown into the kitchen sink and said while collecting his things from the table “Stay safe, Eva!”

A face in the crowd – An experience

6 Apr

There are hundreds of faces we see every day, but some faces have a tendency to stick in our minds and evince recurrently in our conscious. Such was a face I saw yesterday at the ‘Museum of Man’.

She was seated on a parapet overlooking the big lake, she seemed so much at peace with herself that it had a gravitational pull at my gaze every now and then. She had a saddle bag resting on her side which was flung open revealing its contents partially – a diary, Lay’s and some pencil. She grabbed these items in an erratic manner signifying that she was lost in her thoughts.

I wondered what is it, that she might be thinking? Is she sad? Or supremely content? Or merely blank? But what I grew sure of was that she had an overflowing serenity and grace, just like the gentle wind that bathed her. She was a writer, probably. She did not disturb anyone to the point that her gaze was constantly fixed at the lake and wasn’t disturbed by anyone. It felt as if, she wasn’t really there, that her existence on that parapet could very well be imaginary. I usually am quite warm and amiable but here I daresay, I wasn’t myself, She threw me off.

For reasons still unknown to me I did not approach her despite her magnetism, maybe I didn’t dare to end the streak of her unkempt elegance.

The Accident

6 Apr

They were moving too fast in the car and also in their life. This is an anecdote of three friends.

The car moved swiftly serving on the roundabout, screeching sounds of the rubber’s baleful cry on asphalt. While everyone inside were high on life, they barely noticed the sign of what is going to happen. The warmth inside the car was too comforting than the inclement cold weather outside, perhaps too comforting. The three looked at each other for the one last time and were brimming with mirth. The wheelman looked straight perhaps a little too late, to notice a figure in the middle of their way and as his natural instinct dictated him to do, he swerved further and saved the ‘figure’, at least that is what everyone believes.

The wheelman blinked, just once, only to see another figure but this time it wasn’t a living one or a one which could be swerved past by. This was an end both literally and figuratively of their joy spree, the car smashed into the metal. Metal met metal, and, it made a devastating sound. A sound, I am sure must have been heard for miles and it is in this moment that he attained the power of clairvoyance but only for this moment, he could see years into the future. The wheel man has a wheel even now not one but two, not in front of him but under him.

A Haiku and A Tanka –

6 Apr

Haiku – The Big white (incomplete)

A glimmer of hope

In the dark sky, I follow you

If only I could fly.

Tanka – The Breeze/Air (incomplete)

Whenever a breeze blows by,

I sit still and close my eyes;

It lofts my soul in to the sky;

Closer to heaven, without a cry.

Fleeting, it passes by, with a smile.

My version of ‘So, we’ll go no more a roving’ Originally by Lord Byron

6 Apr

Let us all be a roving,

   Morning, evening and night,

With tender care and loving

   Delight, spread in a sun so bright.

 

The heart need not its sheath,

    Nor does it have to thump the breast,

Beat of life is more than a breathe,

    Some living is done more in rest.

 

Spare all but loving,

   Don’t quit too soon,

Let us all be a roving

   In to the gentle moon.

Driftwood – An allegory of life

6 Apr

Life is but a driftwood

Don’t you agree with me

But, where is the river?

As you shall see. See.

 

A river flows in us

We cannot glimpse but feel

We flow in a river

Cannot be felt but seen.

 

For reasons unalike,

and not pole-distinct.

River swirls with a verve-

Believe nothing, but instinct.

 

For there is no way to find

Out the course a priori.

No good, will it do, mind

That your guess be likely awry.

Nature – A poem

6 Apr

The musical chirping.

The invisible white.

The non-clingy love

For change ever so slight.

 

The spectacle of dim delight,

The untiring regularity and

The antagonizing plight.

Pick your cherry.

 

Or make your sherry.

Everything is, but,

a fruit of the mother

Be beholden and just.

A Gazelle – A poem about perspective

6 Apr

Bright as a twinkle in a dark

Night, filled with the howling

Of the wind, Unrestrained —

Elegant and rare like a unicorn.

 

Value of all things timestamped,

For they change with the hand

Of the clock—perpetual dread—

Look yonder where you stand.

 

The guise can be deceiving,

A wishing star for a meteorite,

Such is the absurdity of vain living—

Glass seen as diamond, gold trite.

 

No axiom, no aphorism exist,

Sagacious advice futile and blown.

Heed to the calling of close fist—

Yours, yours and yours alone.

IRONMAN – An article about determination

6 Apr

He stood at the edge of the cliff, overlooking the boundless expanse of the blue, the sun has set. Tracing his eyes from the horizon back to the shore beneath him, he felt as if he was coming back from a moment he had just spent with himself in a parallel world – we all seem to create, when the real one has something, we find hard to accept.

As he did so, the vague rumbling of the mighty waves crashing and smashing against the rocks crescendos into a roar, becomes deafening when he looked chin down. Without much thought his feet withdrew from the cliff and as he walked back to his cottage, he was accosted, once again with his medical reports his doctor divulged this morning. He had a cancer of the spinal cord, a word with 7 syllables, he doesn’t even want to remember.

Life can be unforgiving – he prepared for years to partake in the ironman triathlon, something he fancied as a child which metamorphosed into an incorruptible dream and as diligent a samurai can be – he trained in harsh rain, scorching sun, after a break-up, on weekends, before a class test, after a class test and so on. The stakes had grown higher and higher with every passing day.

He learnt of his medical condition in the pre-event medical check-up. “can it get any more dramatic!” he chuckled at the busy doctor sipping his first coffee of the day, grabbed his report and rushed back with a cacophony of sounds in his mind – his loving mother, his angry teacher, his indifferent girl-friend, his loyal dog, his proud neighbours, his supporting friends, himself. He paused them, once seated in the crowded train on the way back to his apartment “Why does it have to me!, if it had to me, why now!, if it had to be now, why couldn’t it be something curable!” He went through all the stages of grief, all five of them – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance quite like the train stations on the Marunouchi line headed home.

He arrived home, his dog ‘Katashi’ a Shiba-Inu – a furry, fierce, friend hugged him with a force – more than that of everyday as if someone had paged Katashi about his friend’s situation. Katashi said, ‘go Ken’ichi!, you cannot stop’ He heard those words with absolute fidelity and promised himself and Katashi that he is going to go for it remembering a proverb his mother always told him – ‘kishi kaisei’, Literally – Wake from death and return to life!

The cacophony resumed but this time there was a conductor to orchestrate it all – himself. His resolve had come to his aide, he felt stronger. He had made his choice, to go with a firmer mindset, stronger than he ever was.

Seven days later, the cacophony had sublimed in music, an obstacle has become a propellant. He was standing at the edge of the pool to begin the first part of the IRONMAN, a little gust of wind touched his feet, reminiscent of the cliff but this time, it was an invitation. An ironman (over PA) said to another ironman – “We are only as strong as our will”. The crowd cheered while Ken’ichi chuckled again softer this time – “YES!”

The Daily grind – Second person

31 Mar

You wake up, apparently, with a lot of help by the alarm clock. The first thing you do is rush to the kitchen and boil some water for the French press, then take a big deep peek inside the refrigerator to find something that will take the least amount of time to become edible.

Somewhere in this process, you actually wake up and you’re being ripped apart by the desire to remember or rather reaffirm that you didn’t do an indelible mistake last night after being drunk and trying to map out the day that lies ahead. But, just like any sound minded person, you want to begin with a clear conscience, so somehow you get to the point where you recollect her saying “take care Juan, Good night” and yes, she was smirking, at least. So, you exonerate yourself with a banging head.

Moving on, the assignments from yesterday start to take a beastly size in your head just before you realize the time, “Oh, time” you exclaim and rush to the shower and other rituals of making yourself presentable to the world. Rushing out, you check – Mobile, check; Wallet, check; Car keys, check! And as your patience wanes beyond these items you rush to the elevator and start to sense a modicum of comfort, a smile grows on your face, lighting up your countenance, which in fact is another measure of making yourself presentable. As soon as you get to the car and search for ‘that song’ that will make you go! “Oh! Crap! I poured the boiling water in the French Press, and I left it on the kitchen counter” at this point since you don’t want to spoil your day, you need a hefty amount of self-consolation and a cigarette.

Well, work has become a drill, which swallows the day like vociferous glutton whose only quality to admire is its punctuality, it spits you out at 5pm. Which, is another waft of partial freedom before you have the French class at 6. Now, no exaggeration or anymore wailing. This is the favourite part of your day. You find a surge of energy as you drive down to it, playing upbeat song as if they were playing in your head first. You do realise every day at this hour when the class gets over, that the time spent well, slides past fast.

The next self-imposed ritual is the gym, had you not paid the extortionate amount at the beginning of the year. You would probably skip it, at least 3 days a week in favour of the world of Netflix and chips. You do it nonetheless, also because you want to keep fit, in shape and good in bed.

You arrive half-dead back home, fix yourself a glass of wine, but like a true warrior you know that you haven’t lost anything, why? because you were half dead to begin with.