The imp.

“I do not wait for unconsciousness to force my eyes shut. The moment the blue truck hits my bike and sends us flying in the air, I let go. I close my eyes, refuse to hug myself and hold on to the shattered pieces of my being. I stretch my arms, loosen my grip and let myself fall on the concrete. When I said I wanted to be a grounded person, I didn’t mean this, gosh!

My left arm hits the ground first, dislodging itself from my shoulder. I hear the bone break before I feel the dampness of the blood on my neck. It is strangely comforting. The warmth of the sun and the pool of blood are soothing enough for me. I open my eyes and see a right hand, palms up and dipped in blood. I try to hold that hand when I realize it is my own. That brings up a chuckle and some blood right out of my mouth. Sometimes, when you’re broken, you can’t always hold your hand, pick yourself up and get on with life. Because sometimes, you really are broken. I make myself laugh from the inside, I refuse to look up or cry for help. I stare at my severed palm and try to make out the lifeline hidden in that blood somewhere. I watch the blood pool beneath me getting bigger. The blood moves around in perfect, steady curves. I decide to trace its boundaries with my fingers. I try to move my fingers; only the forefinger moves. Soon enough, my eyes start to close, so I let them. I am being lifted up by some strangers. I don’t like that. One of them climbs on top of me and tries to get my heart start beating on its own. Suddenly, my eyes are wide open. It’s so dark. Why is it so dark?

I am lying straight. I should move to my side. I can’t move to my side. I try to move my forefinger, I can’t do it either. I feel the heavy weight on my chest. May be the strangers are still trying to save me. But, why am I at home? I try to shift my gaze from the roof towards the stranger sitting over me. I have to keep staring at it in the darkness to make out what I am looking at. She is crouched up on my chest. She’s so tiny. How can such a tiny person weigh so much? The heaviness is killing me. She smiles at me. The pain is killing me, I try to say. But no voice comes out of my mouth. She continues to smile ear to ear. What’s happening? Why can’t I move?  I yank my neck to my right, a hand waves at me. I keep staring in that direction, but it’s just the hand. I try to close my eyes and go back to sleep. I can feel my body shrink. I want to ride a bike and get hit by a blue truck. I want to be able to choose my demons.

My home is full of people, so many people. I don’t recognize any of them. “Hello, who are you?” I ask one. She keeps her hand on my shoulder. I break away from her. I bump into several people in the process, making me sprint away faster. I am running away from my own home. I don’t want to run away. My eyes open up again. I stare to my right, the hand waves. A smile appears above it. I look to my left: two faces, smiling ear to ear, shaking their heads. I try to look away; my neck is so stiff. Someone help me! I try to shake my arms, my legs, neck, anything, everything… Nothing moves, except those faces, smiling at me. I struggle like that for a few minutes, or hours? I try to shout, but all I get is a steady stream of teardrops trickling down from my eyes.”

I stare at the words. I stare at them long enough to strip them off their meaning. I stare at them till the wish to be in an accident and get extremely hurt lays bare, till the shamelessness of writing it down hits hard. I stare at the words that fail to communicate the experience of several regular episodes of sleep paralysis. There’s no relief in being stuck, there’s no relief in running away.  The words dissolve into the randomness that is this moment in life. The forced expressions, the obvious, suggested humor in the work melt into the chaos, taking that last bit of shame with them.

“I want to be able to choose my demons.”  Seriously? Accident would be a trick of fate; sleep paralysis, just a bump in the natural process. But writing and having written? What weird imp is this? I wait for a moment of realization to strike. I wait for this random blackness to move just a tiny bit aside to let the bright light blind my eyes, giving me something more than the clichéd dark-and-light imagery. But deep inside, I am happy with this cliché. It’s dependable and encouraging at the same time. It’s always there, even when it’s not.

The words mock me. They mock me for all the times I used them at places I shouldn’t have. Wait. I refuse to take that shit. I write some more to hit them back; because I would use them again at the same places if I had a chance to do over again. Am I playing with them or am I the one being played with?

The Last Book

O_death

The night was hot, and so was my seat. I had been sitting in the same position for quite some time now, reading a book under the faint light the lamp over my head had to offer. The seat opposite to mine was empty, and had been so since I got on the train. I looked at the seat, and wished I had bothered to look at the reservation list and catch the name of the person who was to occupy this seat. It could be a woman. Who knows, we might strike a conversation or two, and then exchange meaningless stares throughout the night. She might pretend to be a lonely woman, waiting for the right man. And I, I might speak with the arrogance of someone who doesn’t care about love, but is secretly hiding a case of heart-break. Who knows, right? Anything can happen, until it has actually happened.  The woman might just have missed the train, and I might have been destined to marry her, but we will never actually meet. Every passing minute, every passing second could change a lot for me, without me even realizing it. I could suffocate, or get robbed, or I might even find a treasure, all in the next few moments. Anything’s possible. Then how do I have any control over the course of my life. I can fight the suffocation, or kill the robber, or discard the treasure, but what if that too was supposed to happen. Is it all just a set of pre placed dominos? I got back to my book, but it did not interest me anymore, I was still stuck on figuring out how I would introduce myself to the woman who might occupy this seat. Just then, a suitcase rolled from my rear and entered the space between the two seats. Closely following this suitcase was a man, an old man who smelled of whiskey and stale food. He was dressed in a black overcoat that looked too good for someone of his demeanour. His hair was jet black, and was cleanly combed back. A sharp triangle rightly fitted itself over his neck. It carried on it a pair of thin, dark lips and a sharp, plunging nose. It also fit in a pair of eyes that seemed to change colour. If I were a man who did not play by logic, I could have sworn they were completely black for a moment. The man took the seat opposite mine and slid the suitcase underneath it. He looked straight at me, as if he could see through me. I don’t know why but I felt naked. A prepossessing guilt rose within me. I avoided his stare and got back to my book. I tried to focus my eyes on the text, but they would constantly try and record if any movement took place behind the book. I gave up on it, and finally questioned the man.

“Excuse me, why are you staring at me?”

“I am not staring. I’m merely looking.”

“Can you please look somewhere else?”

“I can, but I’d rather continue to look at you.” He replied even before I could complete my sentence.

I sighed in irritation and pushed my face back into the book. Here I was, expecting a woman, and all I got was a creepy old guy instead. The book was tough to read, mostly because I had lost touch over my mother tongue. The translation did help, but I seldom used it. How can a writer convert text from one language to another, without affecting the meaning of the former? I had my doubts, and so I struggled to find my own interpretations of the text. I was trying my best to concentrate, but the idea of an old man staring at me would not let me. There was movement in the background, and I raised my head to see that the old man had now come closer to me. He was bending his body, in an attempt to look closely at me. I threw my book on the seat and faced him, this time with intent to fight.

“What do you want?” I inquired.

“Just a look at the book you read, sir.”

“I’m reading it right now. And because I’m not carrying any other reading material with me now, I can not lend this book to you.”

“Oh no, sir. I do not need to loan it. I already know the story in it, rather too well I’d say. I only need a look. Just one.” He replied with a straight face.

I now noticed how coarse his voice was, as if something had been forced down his throat. It made me pity him, maybe he suffered of some illness. I contemplated his request, and decided to let him have a look.

“Okay, you can have a look. But you promise not to bother me anymore.”

“I do not see how I bother you, young sir. But if you allow me a look at your book, and agree to answer a question, I promise to leave this seat and find myself another one.”

“But all you said was a look at the book.” I replied annoyingly.

“I like to take actions in phases, sir. Do you accept my terms?”

I saw no harm, and hence I nodded in agreement. I passed him the book. He opened it to the last page, smiled at what he read, and returned the book.

“Now for the question.” He said. He paused, as if taking his time to think upon the question. After a moment of silence, he leaned towards me, and asked

“Do you regret killing your father?”

“What! How dare you. What gives you the right, you lonely old fuck.” I shouted at him.

“It is merely a question, my friend. I only need a simple yes or no.”

I ignored him. I did not need to answer a stranger, and especially not someone who accused me of killing my father.

The old man got up from his seat and pushed his face into mine. “Do you blame yourself, for not being at home the one night he wanted you to be?”

I pushed him aside, and threw him back at his seat. He got up, almost mechanically, and then ran his hand through his hair, trying to get them back to how they were. The colour in his eyes flickered. They were completely black for a moment there. I was sure of it this time.

He smiled at me and said. “Do you think he would have survived had you come home early that night?”

I did not pay any attention to his question and picked up my bag. I decided to change my seat with someone. If this man does not intend to leave me alone even then, I will call the authorities on him. As I turned to leave, he caught me by my hand.

“The time has come. The time to pay retribution. It shall happen tomorrow, as you complete your journey, both physically and spiritually.”

And now, I lay here on the floor, constantly replaying this incident in my mind. It is cooler than it was last night. This morning, as I got off the train, I slipped and cracked my skull open. I’m surrounded by people, but more than that I’m surrounded by blood. Somewhere in the crowd, I see a familiar place. It is an old man, with slick black hair, and dressed in an expensive black coat. He raised his hand to show me the book in his hand. It was the same book I was reading last night, but somehow I could not remember its name. As I once again remember the events of last night, I wonder, was I just following a pre-written story all along?