Sunday, October 05, 2008

Air I Breathe

There’s something in the air I breathe. It’s almost perceptible. Almost tangible. Although I have jumped in surprise, time and again, each time its presence has become known, its ignorance has come just as naturally. Its acceptance as a part of life even more so. Now, it hangs over all of us like an invisible miasma, its stench unbearable and suffocating. If I were to stretch out my palm, I would be able to feel its greasy existence on my fingertips. See its vile presence soiling almost every aspect of my person. I wince at the horrid prospect and close my eyes, willing that somehow the act of doing so will make things better. Like they promised in the movies. Like they wrote about in those books Ritwick recommended. It’s a pity I never got around to reading them. But none of that.

I can witness it on the faces of the people around me. They used to be honest faces. A long time ago. But maybe it just seems that long. Time itself seems to be dilating in order to accommodate the worst of it. The façade that people seem to have assumed seems just that, a farce. They converse with each other about subjects they hate talking about. They pretend to feign nonchalance even when something is eating their innards, slowly but steadily. They smile for the benefit of others and put up a show of crying too. They try to look worried when gloating over their ill-gotten gains and cribbing over not so ill-gotten ones. They search for an identity that was never there in the first place and cry blood when someone shows them the mirror. All this while, the others have been staging a show too. Ritwick has been playing his part as well. Quite commendably too. It just keeps going around in an unending spiral.

Friends have now been compelled to don a moral obligation and look concerned. When did friendship entail that? A pretence even a child can see through? When left to their devices, they luxuriate in the bliss of the success they have managed to win in a contest. Humility has suddenly become an obsolete virtue. The sadness that devours each of us leaves a gaping hole, something we defend with fierce gumption. Nobody is allowed to touch or heal it for suspicion has become inherent to our thoughts. As a foregoing consequence, friends don’t speak their thoughts as easily as they used to. Even Akanksha seems to be hiding something. And Ritwick never managed to really open up anyway. I wish they shared their opinion so that each of us got a chance to improve. I wish their frankness didn’t seem that intimidating. Grudges, complaints, and grouses have now welled up within us to the point of causing an eruption. I wish for it to happen. So that the magma that seethes inside us burns everything in sight, necessitating a fresh start. A new beginning.

We spit spite at each other. Believe in rumors and shed the mantle of composure when calling each other names. Sometimes, when alone, we wish we had not done so. Wish we had been a bit more humane and yes, naive. Yet the disdain that we had despised with all our might seems to be gaining a foothold in each of our hearts. Trust seems conspicuous by its absence and it takes inebriation to reveal the vileness that plagues our souls. The unease seems so palpable that I can taste its bitter tang in my mouth. Feel the essence writhing its way down my gut, scarring it in its wake. Sometimes, the restlessness takes you by the scruff of your neck, jolts you into submission, and when you have accepted its ascendancy, leaves you in a deplorable state. It’s then you realize that things could not be worse. It’s then that the decision has to be made. You can either wallow in your plight or see this as a silver lining. Ritwick said so last night. He was mumbling something in his dreams. I never got around to paying the attention his incoherent muttering warranted. I was too busy telling my story to a nondescript writer and waltzing my way to glory through his words. I wished I had been a bit nobler.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

In Another Universe

I guess, sometimes, acceptance of facts and bending over to take a bow only serve to make one humbler, and wiser. I will try to find out if that's true. And I will try to swallow my pride in the meantime. I assume I stopped writing, for some time, because I found it hard to digest criticism in the guise it was dished out to me. Someone even went ahead and said that it was a cheap publicity gimmick to increase the dwindling number of readers. Gimmicks for a damn blog? What next? I do not even know how to respond to such a vile comment. So I will refrain from retaliating.

The Writing. Someone said it was too inane, others found it lacking quality, while the majority just stopped giving a damn. I decided to give it all a break. And I had meant it to be for good. Perhaps I was foolish and, yes, naive. But maybe I have realized that none of that should stop me from doing something I like much more than a lot of other important things. At the same time it dawned that while writing, it is very important to be honest in depicting the emotions we talk about. I am going to search for that honesty. Give it a try again. Strive for the benchmark. I hope for the best.

In case you didn't understand this, do not worry. You probably were never meant to :)

He felt the ink of her name, gradually moving his fingertips over the word and smoothening out the rough edges of the letters. They shifted uneasily in their slumber, not wanting to be disturbed. However, he continued stroking them, just like he would have petted his cat. This time they purred in approval. He smiled and let the reverie take reign of his senses.

He tried to imagine what she would have been like in a different life. In another universe. Perhaps he believed that if he could feel her soul through her name, he would be able to rid himself of all the preconditioning that had accumulated like soot over his instincts. In this parallel universe, he would be one with her, with none of the inhibitions camouflaging his affections. His passion would not be mellowed or reserved, but pure and unbridled. She would be his consort and he her lord, he thought, giving an almost divine touch to his itinerant feelings. Surprising himself with his own eccentricities, he began to whisper to her name, half excepting it to come alive any moment and begin telling its tale.

For a second, the alphabets did not feel right. They were dead and callous. How could they tell him about her lively past? How could they talk of her ravishing beauty, or her vivacity for that matter? The color of the ink did nothing to help matters. It was jet black. So offensively monotonous. He hesitated in feeling them, as if the pristine beauty of her name had somehow been corrupted by writing it down. Then his curiosity got the better of him and he relapsed into the daydream.

He called out to the well formed shapes gracing the ruled pages, just like a tantrik mumbling his incantations. Slowly, he saw them shed their shyness. One by one, they started jiggling their toes, shaking off the dirt that had accumulated over the decades. They blinked in surprise when they saw who had summoned them. Then they chuckled with delight at the prospect of the sacrilege they would incite. Finally they gathered round and began.

Did her hair curl cheerfully over her forehead? Is that what the k told him? “Did the illimitable love in her eyes show so conspicuously even then?” he asked an a matter-of-factly. And her lips? What about those lips? Did they convey an unfulfilled longing? Or were they much too innocent to give away any telling signs? Her lissome figure? Had it only accentuated with age? What about her bosom? Was it just as comfortable as it seemed now? The s preferred to keep quiet this time. Each time he asked them the questions, they giggled mischievously, never giving away too much. They were aware of the repercussions their answers. Eventually, he got tired of the game, accusing the name of cheating on him. Akanksha just shrugged off and went into hiding in the pages. Realizing the ramifications of his misdemeanor, he called out to Akanksha, cajoling, pleading, and even begging. But it had already vowed to never again tell him the story of its bearer.

He looked at those letters again, now as lifeless as the dust that had once again settled on them. He looked at them wistfully, hoping they would someday complete their tale.

“Ritwick”, he heard his mother call out. He hastily shut the covers of her journal and slid it back into place, as if it had never been touched. As if its confines had never been defiled.