A walk down the street

The cars moving at slow pace,

Bikers riding through the narrow lanes,

Crowd in the buses trying to beat the heat,

And here I was walking down the street.

Asked a biker for a lift,

Gave me an expression so grim,

Wasn’t the kind of reaction expected,

Rather it was something to be neglected.

Walked through the butcher’s shop by my side,

The hungry dog watching it with delight,

Had to be careful with the manholes,

Concrete roads weren’t to be found,only the potholes.

The street started to seem familiar,

The pungent garbage bin made him happier,

Even the stray dogs started recognising him,

Ended the tiring and weary walk with a hymn.

And then there were none

The rumpled little man took a seat at the plush bar that lined the casino. He ordered tequila – the gold amber color of sunshine, and let the liquid slide down his arid throat. It burned and felt like silk at the same time. His raw nerves frazzled were a live wire sizzling with frustration. 

He yanked his last cigarette from its crushed pack. It was smashed almost flat and lit it with trembling fingers. He blew out the match. Smoke and sulphur mingled for more than a minute.

He looked around searchingly for action he couldn’t afford. Flashy fast women did not spend time with hopeless little men in ill-fitting clothes. His brown trousers were wrinkled and his fake leather loafers had holes worn through the man-made soles.

Arnold stopped eyeing the various stream of females, grunting to himself that it was their loss. He laid his last five dollars on the leather-padded bar.

“One for the road, barkeep.” He wiped the back of his hand across his nose and sniffed back a sigh.

A shot glass of golden liquid was placed in front of him and the five dollars disappeared. He tossed back the shot and he began to ruminate about what he would say to Peggy and the kids. She thought he was on a job interview. He had been so optimistic. Taking the last of their savings and flying to Las Vegas for the weekend. A private getaway, and then come back a winner. He wanted to show his wife and kids he wasn’t a loser. That he was someone other than a husband and father unemployed since the downsizing epidemic.

He had felt so lucky for hours flooding the tinkling coins through the machines, never to get the fruit of his effort. Sadly, he tucked his tail between his legs admitting defeat.

Arnold slid off the barstool with slumped shoulders and pathetic eyes, winding around the casino, oblivious to the cacophony of lost wages. He bumped his way past the crowded roulette tables and coin robbing one-arm-bandits. 

He swiped at his nose again and then thrust his hands into his baggy pockets and felt, to his surprise, the last silver dollar he had to his name. He pulled it out and rolled it between his thumb and forefinger as his other hand touched the revolving door that would exit him to the street of broken dreams. He paused a neon flash second before he turned back to look at the slot machines. Puny bloodshot eyes crinkled with a sly smile, while an adrenaline rush stained his face red with perspiration.

Arnold was beginning to feel lucky again.

Together

She lay there, just looking exquisite. And I stood a few steps away wondering what good in the world I had done, of which I had no clue to deserve her. No. I did not deserve her. I knew that. She could have had someone who was better than me in everything. Someone more intelligent, more handsome and in every way better than me, of that I am not just sure but positive.

But the one thing, the one thing which I think tipped the scales in my favour was that I am sure no one could have loved her the way I loved her. And no I do not exaggerate here though people believe I do. I loved her just the way she was- free as the wind. She wasn’t in any chains of the world and yet she was more a part of it than any other being I have ever seen.

And love her I did. And do. And always will. Because ask me what colour I love the most and I would tell you that it is the colour of her eyes when she first looked at me and I realised that she loved me too. She didn’t say anything. She didn’t need to. But that was the time when I felt that I would be overwhelmed by this feeling in my heart. The time when I felt that maybe I had a second chance at love. When I realised that heartbreak does not need to last forever.

Ask me what my favourite song is and I would tell you that it was that one song without any music in the background which she had sung herself. The one when I was down in the mud and she sent to me just to lift me up. We were hundreds of miles apart and yet in that moment it felt that she was right beside me whispering that everything is going to be all right. And sometimes that is all someone needs.

Ask me what is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen and I would tell you that it was when she was so sleepy that she fell asleep while talking to me on a video call. And just lay there like the most beautiful creature in the world and all I could do was look and not touch because fairies are not meant to be touched. 

Ask me what my greatest fear is and I would tell you it is the fear of losing her. To think that one day we might never be together again, that she might leave me or we might get lost in this world with things which would be beyond the illusions of control that we mere mortals have established for ourselves. The things that we believe we can control when we cannot even tell what is going to happen in the next moment let alone years into the future.

She’s like one of those ideal things they talk about in epics. The ones which you think are not possible but you admire because they set a bar for you to achieve because they are the ideals you admire. One you think that you’ll never be able to achieve but you want to try all the same. Except that she was real and she was sleeping right in front of me.

I climbed in right next to her and took in her sight. Sleeping just like she had been all those years before. Everything had changed in the world but it seemed she was the only one unaffected by the cruel wounds time inflicts on us. The only divine being in this world of men and women.

I looked at her once more, slowly kissed her cheek and then lay down to sleep. Who cares where the future will take us. All that matters is that for now, at least, she is with me, I am with her. 

The fact that we are together. That is all that matters.

A dream in a dream

Take this kiss upon the brow! 
And, in parting from you now, 
Thus much let me avow- 
You are not wrong, who deem 
That my days have been a dream; 
Yet if hope has flown away 
In a night, or in a day, 
In a vision, or in none, 
Is it therefore the less gone? 
All that we see or seem 
Is but a dream within a dream. 

I stand amid the roar 
Of a surf-tormented shore, 
And I hold within my hand 
Grains of the golden sand- 
How few! yet how they creep 
Through my fingers to the deep, 
While I weep- while I weep! 
O God! can I not grasp 
Them with a tighter clasp? 
O God! can I not save 
One from the pitiless wave? 
Is all that we see or seem 
But a dream within a dream?

by Edgar Allan Poe

The other way

You got to BE before you can DO.
You got to DO before you can HAVE.
You got to HAVE before you can GIVE.
To be, to do, to have, to give…
is the upward spiral of life.

Ocean Spirits

Every weekday morning, as the clementine sun rose behind the murky clouds, the man would begin his long journey up the cliff near his brick house. The mornings were serene, unrushed, so he took his time, listening to the soft lapping of waves against rock. Once he reached the top he’d run his hands over the mossy rocks near the edge, searching for a place to sit.

Once he’d found the perfect rock he’d flip open his cardboard tackle box, stuffed to the brim with leaves. He’d select the greenest, fattest leaf and fasten it to the end of his fishing pole as bait. He had crafted the fishing pole from a hollowed-out stick of a mulberry tree, a tiny iron hook, and a piece of silvery twine he’d weaved from spiderweb.

He would cast the fishing line deep into the tranquil ocean waters, aiming for the horizon. He’d let the line drift far away from his perch, rising the smooth current. And then he’d wait. At high noon he’d draw a rye sandwich from his bag and gobble it down, never taking his eyes off the fishing pole.

When he felt a stir at the end of the hook, a small whirlpool swirling around the hook, he’d reel it in with vigorous tugs. Curled around the leaf would be a faceless, twisting being, an ethereal vapor. Always of a blue color, but never the same shade; peacock to turquoise to navy. Cool to the touch, slightly rough, covered with flecks of salt from the ocean. He would cup his hands around the being, shaping it into a writhing sphere. He’d take a glass mason jar, thoroughly wiped clean with a wet cloth, and force the being inside before hastily screwing on the aluminum lid.

As the dark began to eat away at the sky the man would scoop his jars up into his bag and mosey back down the cliff, the furious sound of the battering waves behind him. Once home, he would unload the jars, taking a leather satchel from his desk drawer. Inside the satchel he’d take plastic berries and rich vines and decorate the jars, fastening the adornments with a tree sap adhesive. The beings would have turned an angry scarlet by then.

He’d walk to his small shop and stack the jars on mahogany shelves, eat roasted wild chicken or turkey for dinner, and sleep in his woven, netted hammock. On weekends, he’d open his shop to the townsfolk, who would rush inside waving paper bills in the air, clamoring for the newest jar to place on their white window sills or use as a centerpiece for their sleek dining tables.

But one weekend, as the man was preparing to return home, a young girl walked in, jingling the silver bells on the door. She was less than four feet tall, with combed blonde hair, tight pink shoes, and unnerving blue eyes. She walked around the store, bobbing up and down, observing the beings in their prisons. Each time ran a finger over a jar her eyes narrowed, fists clenched tighter.

The scream was unexpected, terrifying, horribly thin, shrill, sonic, even. It flew out of her mouth and bounced across the room in rings, shattering the jars as they collided. How someone could produce such a noise the man did not know.

The beings were free. The man crouched down, eyes wide as they peered over the counter. The beings hopped, leaped, bounded, twirled, experimenting with their newfound liberty, eventually coalescing around the girl. The spun around, faster and faster, becoming a red — no, blue, they had changed again — tornado, shot into the air, the girl in their clutches, bursting through the roof, leaving behind a gaping hole, soaring back to the calm ocean.

 

The Nextworld

Perplexed by fear and soothed by calmness,

Feelings replaced by erroneous code,

A world full of ifs and else,

Nothing to ponder yet everything to express.

Machine learning is what they call,

Possibility of getting better than all,

It isn’t going to be a choice,

It’s going to be our way of life.

Productivity levels all time high,

Profits and margins soaring towards the sky,

Learning curve being as small,

Are we ready for such kinda haul.

Can we replace anger with love,

Will we be able to identify fear,

How will we differentiate ourselves from the rest,

For immortality remains our ultimate quest.