Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Old Lady of the Sea

The waves broke and clawed at the rocks but were gentle on the sands. The sands felt the love of the waves as they ebbed and caressed the sands. The rocks on the other hand were feeling the ire of the sea while wave after wave charged like angry bulls at the rocks. The sun was barely visible in the horizon. Twilight was spreading with the clouds creating hues of red in the sky. The flaming clouds stood in awe of the sun and they seemed to give him an ovation, a grand farewell before he made way for the night and shivering stars.

She stood and watched the sea. The end of the shawl, tightly wrapped around her neck, billowed about her. She dug her frail old feet into the sand and felt the same warmth that she felt over the past seventy two years. The waves encircled her feet with familiarity. The Sea had been her friend ever since she could remember. Her father was a man of the sea as well. She used to play writing her name on the sand and then the sea would erase her calligraphy. When she was young, Sea was her playmate, her bridesmaid when she got married, and her bosom friend in whom she confided everything. The Sea was of her age and a perfect friend. Undemanding and always willing to listen, the waves had always been there for her when she wanted.

She strained her eyes and searched the horizon for her son’s boat. Her eyes did not serve her well but the waves always seemed to tell her when her son was approaching. He was late and she was growing impatient.

Her son, Abel was a true son of the sea, she thought. He started to accompany his father in his fishing boat at the age of ten. His father taught him everything about the sea; the places to look for the largest school of fish, how to cast the net for hauling in the shrimps, how to use a rod and bait for the sardines and herrings, and most importantly how to feel at home at sea. She remembered how he brought home his first catch. He was beaming with pride and did not leave her side while she cut, cleaned and cooked it. Over dinner table that day he was as proud and solemn as the man who put food on the table. She smiled when she remembered his attempt to sound very mature with his squeaky young voice that night.

She had to admit that he grew up to be a great fisherman like his father. She always tried to ignore that he was fast growing and wanted him to remain as her little boy forever. But he grew up and began to take care of her rather than the other way around. When his father passed away, he took care of the entire funeral and stood strong. He was twenty two then but was far mature for his age. She still remembered how he stood in front of his father’s grave, shed a single drop of tear and wiped it away as though annoyed by it, and finally walked away. She had realized back then that he had grown up and she had to come to terms with it.

Since then she had resigned herself to the fact that she had to let her son take care of her. He used to get up by five in the morning, cook food for both of them, boil water for her wash and then head out to the sea with a packet of food clutched in his hands. He had continued to use his father’s boat and had refused all offers from other bigger boats to join them. He said he was happy with what he had and happy at being his own captain and crew. He was an independent soul, a hardened sailor who loved the sea. Every evening he would return before nightfall with the day’s catch and sell it to old man John, his dealer. She always waited for him by the shore. It had been her practice when her father and later on her husband used to go to the sea. She continued to do that for her son too.

Then one day, four months ago, he had gone fishing. The radio had crackled about bad weather at sea by mid noon. She had rushed to the shore to find several boats returning heeding the warning. She knew her stubborn son. She feared that he loved the sea more than anything else and would stay longer and be with the sea, his foster mother. He did not return that day or the next day or the day after that. The police had come and taken her statements. They said they were sorry for her loss. “What loss?” she had asked them.

She knew in her heart that he would return. He was just running a little late. She refused to believe that the Sea would separate Abel from her. The Sea was part of her. She told the sea how annoyed she was with her for keeping Abel away for so long. She knew that the old lady, the Sea would return her son to her. So every day in the evening she walked from her lonely house to the shore to wait. People said she was crazy. When she stood there watching the horizon for the silhouette of her son’s boat, she knew that she did not care for what others had to say. She merely wanted to be there when her son returned.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Lonely night

It is night. I gaze out of my window. A small part of the infinite sky is visible to me. There is a star shining in my view. I watch the star. She seems so insignificant and tiny; A blot in a perfect black canvas. She blinks once like a candle in wind, but continues to shine on with stubborn resolve.

She must be lonely up there. She must have been shining before I was born and will continue to shine every night long after I am gone. She shines as one among many stars lighting the night, but still is lonely.

There are nights when I feel lonely too. But I cannot even imagine the star's predicament. She is destined to appear every night and twinkle in the sky. Some of the days, she might get lucky and a few people might notice her; but then she is no different from the other stars.

She is not the brightest of the stars. She is not part of any constellation either. I noticed her today only because my window is a small one. Had my window been a bigger one, I would have gazed at brighter stars. But I feel happy that I found her.

I have to leave. I can no longer stare at her. I take one long glance at her. She blinks as if to say goodbye. She will be waiting, tomorrow night and nights to come, for me. But I do not think I will notice her amongst the others. My escapade ends here. It was a very short one, but the briefness of the moment made it all the more beautiful.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Nothing but Death

I live... live on... for what purpose? I do not know. The world stares at me and I stare back. The contempt is mutual. I am weary and cant wait for the sweet liberation of Death. I do not fear Death nor despise it. I do not picture a dark hooded figure with a cleaver waiting to hack my soul to pieces. I am waiting for the angel of Death.

I do not want Heaven. I do not picture meadows where lilies and roses blossom. I do not want to hear sweet ditties sung by angels playing harps. I do not want to feast nor drink. I want freedom. I want Death.

What transpires through a person's mind when he is about to jump from the precipice of a hill or the tallest building he could find? The last leap to freedom, the final flight of a man while he is falling to certain death... It must be exhilarating. I am sure he must have a smile of defiance playing on his lips. Finally, despite all the conspiracies of Universe, he takes control of his life, looks Life in the eye, lets it go and embraces Death. He is the real Hero.

But I am no hero. So I keep staring in disgust. I am waiting for the beautiful sensation of Death to find me. I am waiting...

Friday, September 3, 2010

Love - Reloaded, Part 4, Finale

Surya waited for Tanvi beneath the Gulmohar tree, like he had done on numerous occasions. But he was not eager to meet her this time. He did not feel ready for the meeting. His stomach growled. He had forgotten to have lunch and his stomach was registering a strong protest. He was wearing the new sky-blue shirt which he had purchased only the day before. He was sweating profusely and the sweat created dark spots on the shirt and turned it into a darker shade. Surya felt anxious and dizzy.

Tanvi was coming towards the Gulmohar from the academic block. She looked very pretty in her motley-green designer sari. Christmas celebrations were in full swing in the college and all the students were dressed in their best possible holiday attire. Surya stared at her and continued to do so, while she was walking towards him.

She approached him, gave him a light punch on his arm and asked, “Why did you want to meet me? You sounded very serious over the phone. Did you commit any crime? Do you want my legal advice?”

She chuckled, but was perplexed when Surya remained silent. She stopped smiling and grew concerned.

“What happened?” she asked once again.

Surya did not know what to say. He glanced at her once but quickly averted his eyes and finally settled his gaze upon a line of ants scurrying across the ground. They looked very busy.

A few moments passed before Surya spoke. “I have to tell you something” said he.

Tanvi was convinced by then that something was troubling Surya and so she did not make any attempt to prod him for information. She wanted him to talk to her rather than answer her questions.

“I have not been completely honest with you. I have been acting like a good friend to you all this while. But the truth is very different.”

He looked at her once again and she was staring at him incredulously.

“I… I… I have been in love with you ever since I saw you the first time. Yes… I fell in love with you and still am deeply in love with you. I know that this confession might come as a shock to you, but it is the truth. I adore you and please do not think of this as a passing fancy or infatuation. No… I am not infatuated with you, but I love you… I always have. I know that you despise such approaches and think that it is very immature to fall in love while in college. Yes, I am in college but I am 22 years old and can tell right from wrong. I feel right when I am with you. I want to be with you for the rest of my life and promise to make you the happiest person if you would let me…”

Surya had stuttered a lot when he had begun but once love was mentioned, he had felt a knot ease from his chest. He still wanted to say more but could not find the words for it. All the while, he had kept his eyes on the ground and finally raised them to look at her. He wished he hadn’t.

Her eyes were blazing. She had listened to the discourse, first in disbelief which was soon replaced by anger and shock.

Surya took out a book from his backpack and opened it. He extended it to her. He was slightly unnerved by her angry looks but decided to see the whole thing through. Tanvi hesitated but finally snatched the book out of his hands. It was a diary. Across the flyleaf, it was written Tanvi, in bold letters.

She opened it. It was like a log book and every meeting that Surya had with Tanvi was recorded. But it was a poetic log book. Against the mention of each meeting, Surya had written a poem. Some pages had pencil drawings of her face. Surya was not a great artist, but greatness was not essential to capture the beauty of Tanvi’s eyes.

Tanvi did not lift her eyes from the book. She remained thoughtful as though in a trance for a long time. Finally she looked up at Surya. The awkwardness was unbearable.

“I hate you. I hate you not for loving me, but for pretending to be my friend all along. I have seen my share of suitors and I have rejected all of them because I know that they all had very immature, fanciful feelings. We have to be realistic in life. You seem to have watched a lot of movies and read a lot of romantic books, because the way you have written this diary is very childish and immature. You feel that my eyes are beautiful; you say that you will make me the happiest person; but let me ask you, What if I am not happy with you? In practical life, it is not possible to be happy all the time. Every relationship would have its ups and downs. People work at their relationships everyday to sustain it. All that requires emotional maturity and you do not have that. You are like a kid who still believes in Santa Claus. You shall not be my friend any longer. I mean, I will not consider you as my friend any longer. In reality, you were never my friend. You are a cheat who used friendship to get closer to me. I do not want to talk to you any further. We might run into each other in future, since we are in the same college. But I do not want you to approach me and try to talk to me. We are perfect strangers from now on.”

She threw the diary on the ground. Some of the ants were crushed under the book and their line was broken.

She wheeled around and walked away without looking at Surya, even once.

Surya stood rooted to the ground and a drop of tear rolled down his cheeks. He finally picked up the diary. He felt that he would never fall in love again. The ants had found a path around the diary by then and went about their work as usual.