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Sunday, 15 December 2013

Audition

The light so bright, its blinding
Feet nervously shuffling as I look around
Look up as I clear my throat
Open my mouth but I make no sound.

Silence.

Its beautiful, isn't it?
The calm before the storm.
The serenity of the moment,
right before it shows its true form?

A cough in the audience.

The apprehension is exhausting
Can they see the sweat on my brow?
My fingers won't stop trembling
I feel nauseous to the core.

A twitching left eye.

They're judging me right now
I know it in my gut,
I was a nobody and always will be one
But.
This is my moment, my only moment.

A camera flashes.

I picture myself, up on the dais
A fool amidst a crowd of wits
My head hangs low, my self-belief, lower
I look down, into the abyss.

The screech of a microphone.

I'm shocked back into reality
But not into speech, my throat's so dry
I have failed, my will is broken
My heart gives up. I cry.

Tears.

I cry for every day I've lost
I cry for every unwritten ream,
I cry for every broken voice
I cry for every unheard scream.

A sniffle in the crowd.

I cry for every heart I've broken
I cry for every friend that's parted,
I cry for everything unfinished
I cry for what I never started.

Applause.

Why are they clapping? 
What do they see?
What are they doing?
Was it maybe.. me?

The hint of a smile.

Poetry, what does it mean to you?
Syllables, words or a rhyming scheme?
A shapeless thought, an abstract idea
A fantasy, or an impossible dream?

Realization.

Poetry to me, is syllables.
Poetry to me,  is words.
Poetry to me,  is a rhyming scheme.
Poetry to me,  is a shapeless thought.
Poetry to me,  is an abstract idea.
Poetry to me,  is a fantasy.
Poetry to me,  is an impossible dream.
Poetry to me,  is a photograph.
Poetry to me,  is a speech.
Poetry to me,  is a sunset.
Poetry to me,  is a gesture.
Poetry to me,  is raindrops on my window.
Poetry to me,  is the memories I treasure.
Poetry to me,  is the shreds I preserve.
Poetry to me,  is the smiles I remember.
Poetry to me,  is the tears I cry.

Poetry to me,  is everything.
Everything is poetry to me.


I walk off, not having said a word
I don't look up, nor show you my face,
Not one word spoken, yet my heart lies open
And I welcome you, to my solace.

Monday, 30 September 2013

S One


For an instant, their gaze met, they looked right into each other’s eyes, there was a glimmer in their eyes as they both recognized each other for who they were.

The next moment, the world around them exploded.



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She’d been a straight ‘A’ student her entire life.
She was also the only girl in her school who played any sports whatsoever, and ended up stunning her peers when she excelled at that too. Girls weren't supposed to be that good at physical activities, it just wasn't an expected occurrence in her school.
At the age of thirteen, she finished high school while also managing to be a part of the school’s track team.
She won two Golds for her school at State.

Nobody batted an eyelid when she announced her plans to attend college, nor did it cause a flutter when she graduated with complete honors at the age of sixteen.
It had been well established by now that she was a child prodigy and would soar to great heights. Perhaps she would be a scientist, or maybe a doctor. Whatever it would be, she would excel and be the best, they all expected it.

That’s when the Agency first noticed her.
They realized, right away, how big an asset she could be, working for them. They knew it would be smart to recruit her early on, have her as a friend rather than risk having her turn into an adversary later.



The big men in black clothes didn't intimidate her. They had literally broken down her front door and swarmed into the tiny one-bedroom apartment she called home.
She was a little annoyed at the one with the mole under his left ear. He’d broken her favorite flower pot while rushing to secure the perimeter.
She knew right away that she wanted to join them.
She wanted to help them serve the people.
She wanted to make a difference.
She wanted to live.

It didn't take the Agency long to realize that she was the best agent they’d ever had.
Every task set out to her was carried out flawlessly, every mission executed with perfection.
Quite simply, she made no mistakes.
As long as she knew she was working for the safety and the integrity of her nation and its people, she kept pushing harder and stronger.
To work for the Agency, however, she had to sacrifice her old life, her identity, everything.

She was now simply called S1.



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He had been a quiet kid his entire life.
Growing up in a rather poor locality, he was always bullied upon by the bigger kids, sometimes even the smaller kids.
He never fought back, never pushed back.

He was an average kid, in school and even more so, in life.
The kind who just sails through life achieving nothing except the bare minimum.
He finished school, taking a year longer than the kids in his class to do so and had no plans to do anything more with his life.

He came home late that night.
He’d been out drinking.
Not with friends, he didn't have any of those.
He’d fought with his parents right before barging out of the house.
They didn't approve of his ways, they believed it was against their religion, the things he did.
They wanted him to do something with his life, make something out of himself.

It was the last time he saw his parents.

The house had been completely blown apart.
A gas explosion, that’s what the cops told him.
But he knew better, he knew it wasn't a regular gas leak that had caused the blast.

That day, he vowed to get back at them.
Get back at the people responsible for his parents’ deaths.
He swore to himself that he would not rest till he had his revenge with every single person who may have had a hand in the explosion.

His ascent and general increase in popularity was surprising to anyone who had ever known him.
From being an average nobody, he was suddenly a man who was not to be taken lightly.
He was a man on a mission.
A man with a purpose.

His loyalists swelled in numbers, till he finally commanded respect from more people than he had ever imagined he would.
Millions of people followed every single word he said, he was praised by many.
He had his fair share of haters too.
People who did not agree with his views, his opinions.
People who thought his actions were too extreme, his behavior unacceptable.

There were people who loved him, people who hated him.
They all took him very seriously.

For now, from being an average kid who was bullied everyday, he had transformed into one of the most powerful, influential and feared leaders in the world.



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The day ahead of him was tough.
Probably the toughest day of his life.
He had to get through seven levels of security before he reached the innermost office.
Passing through security barricades without being stopped was something he managed with ease.
The office was empty when he got there, he knew the cleaning staff would come in another five minutes. He had their schedules memorized.
He looked around and sat himself down on one of the couches.
He opened the message he had on his phone.
“S1” the subject simply said.
It was a pity the Agency had got to her before his men did, he thought to himself.
She would have been extremely useful to him.
Now, she had to die.

She was too dangerous to be allowed to live.
She had almost got to him on two separate occasions.
Even people he trusted did not have easy access to him and yet she had managed it twice, in the last six months itself.

There was a buzz on the intercom as someone made their way into the office.
He didn't look up.
The cleaning staff was obviously early.
They would pay no attention to him, sitting on his own on the couch, it was not their job to interact with anyone.
His mind wandered back to the girl.
With even more conviction, he decided that she had to die for the greater good.
He asked God for forgiveness for the sin he was considering.

“Hi there.”

The raspy, low voice was extremely unexpected, it made him jump up in shock.
He looked up.



For an instant, their gaze met, they looked right into each other’s eyes, there was a glimmer in their eyes as they both recognized each other for who they were.

The next moment, the world around them exploded.



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The Secret Service communication frequency buzzed back to life.
“Agent Marvin reporting” came a voice over the line. “I have.. an update.”

“The President is down. I repeat, the President is down.”

There was a looming silence as every single agent took in those words.
The words they put their lives on the line for to ensure they’d never have to hear.

“It was her, I saw her detonate the bomb” he continued.
“It was S1”

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Wobble


This story is about a friend of mine.
Lets not name him.
He's in an Engineering college.
Not a dumb kid, but not really academically gifted.
His family isn't very well to do, but definitely not struggling.
He travels to college everyday on his own, on a two-wheeler, a scooty.
He told me that he does have the option of asking his mom to let him take the car
But he prefers the scooty for some reason and I somewhat understand how he feels.
Plus, he feels its safer for his mom to have a car available for her own use.
As a resident of Gurgaon, I'm not surprised.

Anyway, he was on his way to college, for an exam.
Physics was racing through his mind, when suddenly, in the corner of his rearview mirror, he spotted a flash of light.
Instinctively, his left hand shot up to adjust the mirror so the light wouldn’t leave him blinded.
It was at that very moment, the front tire made contact with a pile of loose gravel.

Everything after that happened in slow-motion.

The scooty skid along, before losing balance after a few metres.
He was still holding the handle by his right hand.

As he looked up, the last thing he saw was the pavement as it came hurtling towards his face at over 90kmph and he heard in his mind his friend's voice from just the day before
'Helmet? Seriously dude? Stop being a pussy.'

He regained consciousness right where he had crashed.
A few people were looking in his direction. Nobody moved an inch towards him.
A man, who he now realized had been there when he had lost control of the scooty, looked at him and said with a sneer 'Aur chalao ek haath se', before walking off.
He barely managed to extract himself from underneath the scooty.
Luckily for him, peer pressure was not something he succumbed to easily, he thought, as he took off his helmet.

He was badly bruised.
A little cut up too, at various places.
Walking was out of the question for now, he could only stumble to the side somehow.
There was a hospital just a few hundred meters away, he knew.
But he was also certain he needed help getting there.
He called up his mom.
She was there within ten minutes.
No words were exchanged as she raced him to the hospital.

Injuries heal, scars fade.

A month later, he was almost back to full health.
He was actually feeling quite a lot better.
And most of the wounds were now barely noticeable.
He was feeling exceptionally happy that day, for no reason at all.
Life was definitely looking up, he thought, as he flipped the page of the novel he was reading.

He got mugged that night.

Beaten up and left in a bloodied mess by the roadside, he barely managed to get to the hospital, driven there by his father on his scooty.

Injuries heal, scars fade.

While riding his scooty a few months later, he realizes there's a wobble in the front tyre.
He ignores it at first.
But it grows more pronounced.
So he takes it to the service centre to get it checked.
They service it and give it a clean chit.

While driving it back home, he drives over a small mound of gravel.
*Wobble*
He's not sure what's wrong.

He takes it back.
They tell him there's nothing wrong with it.
He comes back home, tells his friend about the problem.
His friend checks it out, 'There's no wobble', he tells him.
Not entirely reassured, he continues with his day to day life all the same.

Then, one day, a classmate comes to college on a scooty.
He decides to compare the wobble with this scooty.
He barely makes it a quarter mile before it happens.
*Wobble*

He brakes almost immediately.
This one is a brand new vehicle.
There’s no way this could be happening.
He rests the scooty on its stand,
And looks down.



At his trembling hands.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Memory


The same spot. The usual table. She sat at the coffee house with a gloomy look.

Nothing in particular bothered her, and yet everything seemed to be jumping on to the wrong track.



It was raining outside.
She looked out of the window, tracing the trail of a raindrop. It followed a strange pattern, that raindrop. No path in particular, yet destined to fall on the ground.
She connected with that drop.
Connected with how the raindrop, like herself, fought the battle of being important versus been left as insignificant..
She turned her gaze to her table, staring aimlessly at it, glancing at the same small doodles that had been present on it, before she had become a regular customer.
She scanned through them, not impressed by any. She stared at the table with such intensity, as if expecting answers to her problems from the table itself.
That's when she saw it.
A new one. A tiny, fresh doodle.
Beautifully written, with a bold blue pen. The words seem to follow the rules of cursive writing and yet the whole sentence seemed to be mocking her.

"When you feel low, I'll give you a hug"
A tiny cartoon stared back at her, wording it's action.

Her emotions blinding her, she scribbled something furiously, right below that doodle and got up and left, a sense of disgust, anger and hopelessness overcoming her.




This isn't how she'd always been. She was usually one of the most cheerful people to be around, always a bundle of joy, bringing smiles to people's faces by her sheer presence. Even in the most adverse situations, she would look up, smile and keep on walking, as if unfazed by the hardships faced by other mortals.
She worked two jobs, had a loving family back in her hometown and a pet dog, Timothy, who she adored more than her life. She was the kind of girl one could expect to see dancing gleefully in the rain in the middle of the night.


But that was before. Only a memory now.


She'd first seen him at the park.
She used to go to the park every evening, right when she changed shifts, to go over from her first job to her second. She'd go and sit on the bench, her favorite bench, the one along the track that ran through the park. She'd sit there, everyday and observe the hundreds of people that passed her. Some were lost in their own worlds, completely oblivious to her presence, others had come to recognize her, they would even greet her warmly and talk to her for a bit. She would sit and observe all these people, sit and take in all the tiny details. The old couple from down the street, who came every day at five, walking hand in hand, as they looked each other in the eyes and smiled, reminded of their exuberant youthfulness that now remained only within their hearts. The little boy from the big mansion uptown who came and sat with her and had her read a story to him every other day. The homeless man from the streets who shared a sandwich with her everyday, probably the only proper meal he got to enjoy throughout the day. The retired colonel who lived in the little grey house behind the park, who sat with her and told her war stories, not of blood and gore and gruesome killings, but of love and friendship and hope, as they did the daily crossword together.

There were countless others, who came to the park. Some saw her, others did not. She saw them all.
She smiled at every single one of them.


That was before. Only a memory.


It had been a Friday evening. The end of a long, tiring week. To most people in the city, it meant a weekend of fun, relaxation and partying to look forward to, but not to her. She had her studies to catch up with. One couldn't become a lawyer without putting some serious hard work into it.
She faced the park entrance. Something felt different.
It was her instincts speaking again. She had learnt a long time ago to trust her instincts, they had seldom been proven wrong.
She walked in anyways, to her bench, her favorite bench and sat down. The old couple passed right by her. The wife seemed to be having a little trouble walking, she noticed. Her husband had a concerned look on his face as he helped her maintain her balance and she couldn't help but notice the hint of sadness that had crept into their eyes.

She pulled out the paper bag with the sandwiches from her purse and almost immediately, as if on cue, Matt showed up. They sat and ate the sandwiches, not looking at each other, not saying a word, simply content to enjoy the pleasures nature had gifted them with that they took in with all the senses. He got up and left with a silent thank you, not said out aloud, but reflected in his eyes.

She had a long weekend ahead of her, she thought to herself, wondering how she was going to finish the course she'd set aside for these two days and find enough time to pick up new curtains for her apartment.

That's when she saw him.

In an old and worn out, but rather comfortable looking pair of jeans, coupled with a blue sweatshirt, he came shuffling down the path, his face hung low, his eyes lowered, staring at the same spot two feet in front of his legs the entire time. He'd almost walked past her when he suddenly stopped.

He turned around to face her, she wasn't sure whether to be scared or not. Before she could figure out what was happening, he was holding a flower in front of her, seemingly pulled out of thin air.

It was a tiny white lily. She stood there, stunned, at a loss for words. And then he smiled. He had the most infectious smile in the world. She'd never seen a smile like that! It was a smile that could rid you of sadness, turn your misery into joy, make you smile while you were crying, make you feel glad to be alive. That smile could make autumn turn to spring, it could make mountains seem easy to scale, it could melt the coldest of hearts, it could make one fall in love.
Almost as if on its own, her hand stretched out, accepting the flower, her face returning the smile.

And though most people found the story a little too far-fetched and romantic, filled with too much drama, that's how it had been. That's how they'd first met.

They'd met again the next week, and the day after that and the day after that too. Every day, she would wait for him on her favorite bench. At half past five, he would show up, always clutching onto a lily that he presented to her with a flourish and the smile, that smile.


That was before. A memory.


He worked a job at a coffee house downtown, which he took her to one weekend. They had the best chocolate muffins ever, he told her.
She sat at a table overlooking the window, from where she could observe the people who passed her.

There was a crash as the door swung open and a petite young girl ran into the room. Her red eyes made it quite evident she'd been crying.
She was wearing an apron just like his, which indicated she worked here too. He took one look at her and strode right up to the girl.
She was almost whimpering now, apparently about to burst into tears all over again.

He grabbed onto her shoulders, pulled her face up so she was looking at him and said to her in what was a whisper, but seemed to reverberate around the room louder than any other sentence muttered in the vicinity, "Don't cry? Remember what I told you? When you feel low, I'll give you a hug", following this up with a hug that the girl almost sank into.

She'd been seeing all this from her table at the window. She knew what was happening, but she wasn't sure if it wasn't just a dream.

She had fallen in love with him.

He came and sat with her, bringing with him freshly baked muffins, two cups of coffee and his infectious smile. They sat there as they ate and drank. They talked about almost every topic under the sun and laughed together at the most absurd things imaginable.
He showed her the doodles on the tables, drawn by customers as they waited for their muffins to be popped out of the oven. There was one of a dog running around in circles trying to catch its own tail below which the artist had scribbled the word 'Life'. Another one was of a sign which proclaimed 'Studies. Sleep. Life. Choose any two.' She was rather amused how this particular doodle hit so close to home.


Before. A memory.


Why had it been him? It was supposed to be her. She was the one who hadn’t been careful. She was the one who had been at fault. Why had he paid the price?
She was furious at the old man who’d been driving the car, she was enraged at herself, she was mad at her boss for giving her a leave on that day, she was angry at the world for taking away from her the one thing that meant the world to her.

The funeral was a quiet affair, but it was attended by hundreds of people. Not a single one of them was related to him, yet they all spoke of him as if he was one of the closest people in their lives.
She stood by her own, in a dark corner, refusing to accept the fate life had handed out to her.
It wasn’t just, it wasn’t right, it simply wasn’t fair.


Before. Memory.


The same spot. The usual table. She sat at the coffee house with a gloomy look. Nothing in particular bothered her, and yet everything seemed to be jumping on to the wrong track.

It was raining outside.
She looked out of the window, tracing the trail of a raindrop. It followed a strange pattern, that raindrop. No path in particular, yet destined to fall on the ground.
She connected with that drop.
Connected with how the raindrop, like herself, fought the battle of being important versus been left as insignificant..
She turned her gaze to her table, staring aimlessly at it, glancing at the same small doodles that had been present on it, before she had become a regular customer.
She scanned through them, not impressed by any. She stared at the table with such intensity, as if expecting answers to her problems from the table itself.

That's when she saw it.
A new one. A tiny, fresh doodle.
Beautifully written, with a bold blue pen. The words seem to follow the rules of cursive writing and yet the whole sentence seemed to be mocking her.

"When you feel low, I'll give you a hug."
A tiny cartoon stared back at her, wording it's action.

Her emotions blinding her, she scribbled something furiously, right below that doodle and got up and left, a sense of disgust, anger and hopelessness overcoming her.

Etched underneath the doodle, her words shone under the overhead lamp.
“I need a hug, I’m finally coming to you to get one.”


Memory.





Credits: The combined genius of these two, right here.
I'd also appreciate if you could comment with your interpretation of the story itself.