Tag Archives: life

Loneliness is an Island

This day has sent me to an island,
My thoughts are pecking the wet sand.
The horizon is bereft, and the waves roar,
But I remember being a castaway, before.

Though all this seems too familiar,
I don’t really know how to live here.
I have never had my food alone,
Or If I have, those days are gone.

A broken raft is my only hope,
Old logs tied with a primitive rope.
Trees provide shade on this hot day,
But as time passes, I’m filled with dismay.

Loneliness is a museum of memories,
Deaths to which I’m an accessory.
If I had one wish, I’d wish for love,
As rare on this island, as is a dove.

A setting sun isn’t enough a despair,
Worse are things that you can’t repair.
Shattered hearts don’t just hurt rib-cages,
On such islands, they put you for ages.

But when it’s dark, the sea is swept away,
The land breeze makes a sail-worthy bay.
The raft is ready, and so is the food,
And so am I, under a makeshift hood.

So off I go, uncertain but with a drive,
I won’t give up; I know I will survive.
It may be tough, but I’ve seen worse,
To me, no island is as potent a curse.

When you find me, famished and weak,
Just remember that I refused to be meek.
And I’ll tell you how I endured the sea,
Stranded in the day, till the night rescued me.

A Blown Eyelash

They are found in shooting stars,
and in flying dandelion seeds,
seen in extinguished birthday candles,
and also in other men’s deeds.

They have made lunatics of greats,
yet they are the power of braves.
They have made people attempt
to raise loved ones from their graves.

Sometimes they nibble the insides
of my mind, they slowly gnaw,
until I am certain that they will
one day consume me, raw.

Then there are those times, when
they give me bliss that’s pure.
They make me overeat my elation,
and leave me wanting for more.

My oldest friends, they are,
they keep me on my toes.
But when there are too many of them,
they turn into my worst foes.

Why do I end up believing
that a blown eyelash will cure?
Why am I always dreaming,
when I know that I remain unsure?

Is there a way to comprehend
if these wishes will come true?
Or do I have to be only content
with fulfilled ones, so few?

I am with this knowledge, though,
my wishes are known for rebirth.
They make me the man that I am.
In me, you shall find no dearth.

Rainy Night

On a rainy night, by the window,
I sit with steaming coffee on a tray.
Though the world is dark, right now,
I seem to always like it this way.

The drumming of drops on the windowsill;
Far away, some frogs croak.
Mom asks me to close the window,
Dad is busy having a smoke.

Inside the house, it is even darker.
Nothing, but a solitary candle.
As I walk away from the sill, I get
hurt by the cupboard handle.

I sit down on the floor and scoff,
My beloved rain is away.
Then, a sudden bolt of lightning
makes a bright, momentary day.

My eyes shine as I see the flash,
then I hear the loud roll of thunder.
While everyone is clearly startled,
my lack of fear makes me wonder.

All the house-flies that seek refuge
from the rain, buzz inside the house.
My memories have flown inside, too,
Oh! The nostalgia they arouse!

Droplets to drops; drops to puddles;
Puddles to rivulets; rivulets to streams.
Senses to thoughts, thoughts to visions;
Visions to imagination; imagination to dreams.

I wake up with a start, I find
the rainy night is gone.
Though this day started hours ago,
of my contemplation, it’s only the dawn.

What have I done?

What have I done?
I have seen a lot in life.
I have experienced true love.
I have felt bitter hate.
I have laughed like it was my last time.
I have cried like a little child would.
I have stood face to face with the truth.
I have been a victim of inconspicuous lies.
I have believed blindly, only to suffer later.
I have questioned many, as a result.
I have got angry over small things.
I have provided calm when it was needed.
I have held grudges.
I have made enemies.
I have forgiven.
I have gained friends.
I have remembered things that seemingly don’t matter.
I have forgotten events that appear to have changed my life.
I have been alone for as long as I can remember.
I have become a part of the community without effort.
I have celebrated life.
I have wished for death.
What have I done?
I have learned.
I have been human.

 

The Little Bunting

(Dedicated to all the caged souls who crave freedom)


In a drab cage of a lonely house,
a little bunting had a home.
All she knew was the rusted bars
and the semi-golden dome.

She was born and grew up in there,
not knowing about the world.
Her wings were all but useless now,
for they were never unfurled.

For a long time she lived happy there,
oblivious to what lay beyond.
Her freedom was never a thought
since she was part of her spawn.

One day from her drab old cage,
she saw a flock of pardalotes.
They flew like kings and glided fine,
high up, they appeared to float.

All of a sudden, she grew morose,
and took a look at her wings.
She wondered of the open sky,
she wondered of unseen things.

She knew that she had had enough
and tried to get through the bars.
But her frail body failed her, so
she just stared at the stars.

A sudden rush, a sudden urge
forced her to spread her wings.
She knew she’d be free soon enough,
so she began to merrily sing.

When the following dawn arrived,
she strengthened her resolve.
She knew she wanted her freedom,
and she felt her fear dissolve.

She opened her wings and closed her eyes,
praying this as she cried:
“Help me God, I deserve to be free,
Enough, I have been tried.”

She fluttered her wings, for the very first time ,
she generated a torrent of wind.
As she slowly raised herself,
she gasped, as her breathe thinned.

She chose not to stop, she wanted to fly,
she broke the semi-golden dome.
Her cage broke open, and out she flew,
the sky was now her home.

The bunting looked at the world below,
growing happier as she flew faster.
The drab cage was no longer her home,
and finally, she was her own master.

Caged no more

(The image above is original art. Please do not use it without permission)

A View Back In Time

I have always believed that our brain has been hardwired to compare. Be it objects, emotions or scenarios, our mind constantly compares. We are able to distinguish good from bad, black from white, shiny from rusty; and I feel this is where lies the basis of our intelligence. In short, I think that the human race is this intelligent because it can compare things better than any other group of organisms we know.

Since I am a part of this human race, and I am what can be safely called ‘normal’, I also have this quality to compare, especially to distinguish between things I saw during my childhood and those that exist now. And I dare say, I am really good at it!  Now there are some places that really don’t seem different with respect to time, until the difference is no longer possible to overlook. Mumbra, where I have spent a decent part of my childhood, is one such place… The streets are still as dirty as they were, 15 years ago; the people still quarrel like they did, back then; and the roads there still resemble the moon’s surface. The one remarkable change that one would easily notice now is the presence of a huge number buildings now. In a short while, many  residential structures have sprung up. It is jarring for the eyes, really. I mean, would you not be startled to discover a building that didn’t exist on your last visit, about three and a half month ago? To many, this is ‘rapid development.’

Mumbra is not that bad, as far as scenic beauty is concerned. Beautiful hills adorn one side of the town, a creek and mangroves on another. As a child, I enjoyed watching these hills while sitting on the windowsill of my Grandmother’s house on the first floor of Bhoora Mahal, though it is not really the best place to allow the creek’s view. The hills had something that had me gazing at them for apparently no reason. I enjoyed the way they turned green after a few rains, sometimes enveloped by clouds. And when it was summer, their hue would turn more and more earthern, till they were almost barren. My cousins and I would watch people (who looked no larger than ants from such a distance) climb up a long flight of stairs that reached all the way till the Mumbradevi temple, situated at the side of a steep cliff. It was a great time-killer, especially during summer vacations, when time-killing had to be ‘great’ by compulsion.

The View in 1999
The View in 1999

Soon, a ‘rapid development’, like those mentioned before, happened right beside my grandmother’s building. Not only did it block the view of the beautiful hills entirely, it also barred most of the natural light from entering grandmom’s house. It was a shocking change. No more sitting on the sill, no more watching the hills covered in clouds. It could well be the most shocking change I experienced till that age (I was around 12 years old, I guess).

After that, lights in Bhoora Mahal had to be kept on 16-hours-a-day (considering 8 hours of sleep). Meanwhile, more buildings got constructed, engulfing little huts and trees in the locality. The air lost some of its freshness each day. As time passed, some of my brain cells, that remembered the view from that window, died every moment. Only a picture clicked by my elder sister, from a borrowed film camera, back in 1999, kept the memory alive somehow. I had somehow stopped missing that view because I gave in to the fact that it could no longer be a possibility. True, I could view it from other places (such as building terraces), but it certainly never felt like how it felt from the sill. And one day, the ‘rapid development’ that stood beside a much-older Bhoora Mahal, crumbled and gave away.

Three people died, from what I heard, and many people lost everything they had. Too busy with my own life (no time left to be killed, anymore), I only went to meet my grandmom after a few weeks i.e. after Bhoora Mahal was declared safe. It was a sunny afternoon,  the characteristic of the day I remember because I realized it was too bright the moment I reached the first floor. My steps hurried, taking me faster in the direction of my destination. They hurried because I started to realize what awaited me. The moment, when I stepped into the house, was special. It felt as if I was re-entering my childhood. The moment was bright, like the fresh sunlight that embellished the room I was in. My joy was at a constant ascent. And each single spec of time that had settled on my life’s own window, began to disappear, allowing me to view those moments of my past vividly. Some memory triggers are nature’s own time machines. I relived my moment, standing on the window sill and gazing at my beloved hills in the same way as I did as a child. I did so one eyeful at a time, because it was choking me with emotions. My oscillating mind began to compare two images of the same scene, images separated by a period of about eight years. As tears began forming in my myopic eyes, I looked away uneagerly. I came back to the sill many times during the few hours I spent there. In the little amount of time I spent there, I understood the true meaning of nostalgia. It is good that some things don’t change.

What I saw in 2013
What I saw in 2013

The Frail Furball

“Wake up, Salman! You will be late for work!”

“Gah! 5 minutes more please…”

When I woke up ‘5 minutes’ later, half an hour had passed. As I looked at the clock while running to the bathroom, with my towel mopping the floor graciously without much effort, I realized I had approximately 25 minutes to bathe, get ready, comb my hair (always takes a bit of time), have breakfast, catch an auto rickshaw, reach the station and catch my regular train. Considering the fact that this was routine stuff, I was slightly less troubled in my mind. Afterall, I had been desperately trying to reach office on time since ages, in vain. I had been so unsuccessful in this endeavor, that my not-so-on-time arrivals earned me another epithet – “Late Latif.” This, too, was routine stuff. I had been a “Monday Man” (for falling ill a lot, mostly on Mondays), “The Prolific Patient” (for falling ill a lot) and “Mr.Clumsy-pants” (for falling a lot).

Deciding while bathing, that I needed to skip breakfast to ensure my rare moment of punctuality, I quickly rushed to change my clothes. It didn’t take long for me to realize that they were not taken out last night from the cupboard. This was a big ask, considering that the cupboard was in the upper room. Perhaps the only challenge more demanding was that I had to rush upstairs on a ladder (there were no stairs) wearing nothing but a towel around my waist. I hardly had any time to ponder. Frenzied, I rushed upstairs and quickly went across the room. In no time at all, I was ready and combing my hair looking at the mirror. I had shaved last evening, and my skin gleamed, and I grinned at how good a job was done by my barber. The reflection of a white ball of fur, lying on the floor just behind me, caught my attention. It was a cat.

Now it was not a surprise that felines loved our upper room – it was their favorite place to hang out when they weren’t pouncing around on roofs. Even with windows shut, they always found a way to sneak in and rest on a cloth fallen from a clothesline. I admit they had been a nuisance, sometimes, but I have always loved cats. I always make it a point to show love to these fluffy creatures, provided they are tame and do not get uncomfortable.

I turned around and advanced towards the animal, half expecting it to run away. But it stayed still as I brought my hand near it. It was not asleep and was looking at me. But it did not move. As my hand made contact with its soft fur, it started to get up. I felt a shiver it its body, and before I could assume that it was getting ready to run away, it no longer attempted to stand up, coming back to its original state. It was for the first time since the moments of my first encounter with it, that I noticed its extreme weakness. The outline of its ribcage peeped out at places from underneath the surface of its skin. It blinked very rarely, and produced no sound at all since I first saw it. What looked like a curled-up ball of fur, was now a mute bag of bones. I was convinced it would die if I didn’t help, and images of a pet that died years ago flashed before me. All this was shattering my heart.

Leaving the comb on the floor, I rushed downstairs to the kitchen. Finding a steel bowl with great difficulty (Our kitchen was a maze of utensils), I poured some fresh milk and came back upstairs. The sapless kitten still lay there, too frail to even change its position. I lifted it in my hands and somehow tried to bring its mouth to that of the bowl. As its whiskers touched the surface of the white liquid, its tongue began lapping it hurriedly. It almost fell out of my hands into the bowl, as I struggled to ensure it did not. It seemed as if the milk was pulling the kitten towards itself. In around two minutes, the bowl was empty. I went back downstairs to get some more milk. But when I returned, the animal was gone. I scoured the entire room, but the feline was nowhere to be found. Worried and surprised, I slowly started to descend down the ladder. The open window, that was not open earlier, grabbed my fancy. I came back up again and looked outside from that window. My worries faded and I smiled silently for a few moments. My little ball of fur was sitting on the opposite roof, licking its paw. My smile was more a result of disbelief than of happiness. Surely, such a small quantity of milk would not have been enough to bring the kitten back to life. It was too weak to move its limbs, the same limbs it was now cleaning merrily with its tongue.

While having breakfast, I looked at the tea in my cup for sometime. It was about the same quantity as the milk the kitten had sipped. Many questions crossed my mind: Where would the kitten go? Would it get more food? Would it live long enough? I could no longer eat in peace, so I stood and left without finishing my breakfast. If there have been times when I ran away from a straining thought, this was surely one of it. As I walked towards the rickshaw stand, I saw the the cat sitting at the edge of the pavement, stretching and yawning. Changing my direction at once, I went near it. I was already convinced that it was the same animal, but before I could touch it once again, it got up and ran away. I genuinely smiled for the second time during the day, not due to disbelief this time, but from happiness. As I saw it disappear at a distance, I boarded the rickshaw and left for work. I was happy to be late this time.

Kitten

(Image is for representation purpose only, and is owned by its author)