Journey


I don’t think, that by asking more questions, we are making it any less powerful than it is supposed to be.

I think this journey, which gives me tears every single time we start out on it, is beautiful.

I think its worth it.

Everything is worth it in this way, in this exquisitely gripping embrace of longing.

Because everything I seem to want, is concentrated in this one place. But every time I decide to grab it with both hands, I want to broaden my horizons and maybe that holds me back. That holds us back. But I can’t be the only one to blame! I can’t play the blame game alone.

I can ask questions,  they don’t break my momentum.

Sometimes I am walking on a line, but when I think about it, every woman does!

The tragedy is that I don’t want to fall, one way or the other. But I might have to, some day.

Its true what they say; your career will never wake up and say, ‘I don’t love you anymore’. But, I mused today, nor is it going to hug you and whisper ‘I love you’ into your ear.

But that isn’t even the question right now. The question is: why do feelings bubble in this manner?

Sometimes its too hard to take, this emotional influx. And I am not even a teenager anymore.

I have crossed the line into full accountability. A place where things I have learnt stick to my head like strong lessons and yet I want to dare the wind to take me higher.

Its like a never-ending ride and I like it this way.

The Falls


Dark places in the sea

Where stillness lingers and the depths are unknown

Where the ships don’t go

They would rather face the tempest

the_falls

This is not the first time the end of a novel has put me into a dark, brooding mood. Sometimes its the sheer fact of having reached the end of a good book and being unsure about what to do next, because every book changes me a little. I don’t always learn something but I relate to someone and its not t he same anymore. I would never look at those words as just words again. The Falls. When you know that they represent the title of a murder mystery, you will never look at the falls as something beautiful and magical but rather, as something sinister.

DI Rebus‘s Edinburgh is not a pretty place, I am learning. Two novels in and I know Rebus carries the baggage of ghosts…relationship’s gone wrong, both personal and professional, a crippled daughter and a department that mistrusts the directions his ethics lead him in and maybe they see that the cases he deals with really get to him, but they can’t accept the way in which he let’s them.

And so the city Rebus lives in is full of dingy pubs and where others see beauty, he sees shadows which haunt him; his music is a testimony to the loneliness of the nights he spends  in his apartment, dealing with the things he doesn’t care to explain. But in the sub spaces of his mind, the victims he is dealing with find justice because he lets them get under his skin and stay there. His unsolved cases stay there. The times he crossed the line stay there. The mistakes he’s made stay there. The apologies he owes stay there. And he considers himself damaged, always returning to alcohol to carry him elsewhere.

And The Falls is about all of that. But its about more. A missing girl who may or may not be dead. Her on-and-off boyfriend who is coolly detached and yet visibly shaken. Her father, whose business is the most important thing in his life. Her mother, who can’t help but want her back with the quietly desperate melancholy that only mothers can feel. An old school friend who may or may not have reasons to seek revenge. A business associate who has a dark secret buried underneath his executive layers. And beyond that, a pathologist clamped within the clutches of history, a woman getting too far lost in her own life and career. And also, possibly, someone new for Rebus to begin testing those waters again.

The characters come alive and dance past one another and the shadows lengthen as layers are added to layers, motives overlap and interchange. At the heart of it all is the story of an online game involving clues and questions. And the story of tiny coffins with dolls buried in them. There is something macabre and menacing about these cremated dolls, nailed shut, found in the wilderness, almost as if they are a talisman for someone who did not wish for them to be found.

Either way, right from the Burke and Hare murders of the 18oos, which draw Rebus towards them with a magnetic pull, right up to Siobhan’s encounters with the online Quizmaster who refuses to identify himself as he leads her on a chase with mind games sweeping through Edinburgh, this novel is a heart0-thumping tale that will draw you in with its little twists as you discover each character a little more, understand their imperfections and rip through their well-guarded secrets.

The more pages you read, the more impressed the story gets into your brain because the horrors of everything Rebus unfolds, the things that don’t leave him and won’t leave you, even after you’re done reading; they fill your head with images.

I can’t help somberly reflecting upon the things that wouldn’t leave me: Siobhan’s perception of the Quizmaster and the way she understood exactly what the missing student Flipside has felt as the riddles had gotten to her head, the cryptic and smug manner in which the Quizmaster communicates with her, that image of little smiling dolls staring out of a custom-made coffin, the story of Burke and Hare and that of the Arthur Seat’s coffins.

I can’t make the heebie jeebies go away, can’t rid my mind of these stories, can’t get this darkness out. And when I read Ian Rankin’s afterword and discovered that a role playing game had led to a Frenchman’s unexplained death on a Scottish mountaintop; well, the internet is a scary place. Maybe more scary than other places where we can at least judge a man by his appearance, judge a book by its cover.

This book is gonna stay with me for a while. This was the second Ian Rankin I read after Resurrection Men, liked this one bucketloads better. Tried to enjoy Rankin’s recommendation The Falls, by Mutton Birds, but gave up after a few lines

Its true what they said though,

‘There must be a story behind all that.’

And boy, does Ian Rankin tell it and tell it well.

Because:

‘Aren’t we all curious about the things we fear?’

Don’t miss this book if you can help it.

So, what does the UNIVERSE taste like?


universe_taste

 

 

I was standing on the edge

I peered down one side

I saw a smutch of wonder

And held it on my palm

It evaporated quickly

Left me standing quite still and calm

 

I thought I’d put it together

Make a concoction out of love

And add a pinch of salt and lemon

To soak out excess sweetness

It hisses and swirled delightfully

And I revelled in its pinkness

 

I thought I’d add a little something green

And I searched for it far and wide

I saw some beautiful sights in wilderness

My thinly veiled potion glowed

It was bathed in yellow starlight

And frothed  as the thickness grew

 

And then I cast another spell

Like a class of Potions in Harry’s world

But ugly things came swirling too

Blood red anger swam

And a fiery pit within emerged

And something blue to the surface sprang

And bubbled along as my mixture brew

 

But a drop of black expanse I thought

Needed seething within it too

So I carefully let one tiny droplet sink

But it spread like fire through and through

And slowly everything was grey

The magic was dulling away

It seemed like nothing left was new

 

Then I saw a lump of mystery

Shining golden like crown

It was beautiful and on being added

Spread a warmth through the thick black gruel

I watched the rich textures rise

And saw it with my own delighted eyes

And when I touched it to my lips it was

Tingly and wonderfully comforting

Like hot cocoa on a cold, dark night

Or a summery drink on the beach:

It could be anything you’d want it to be

It was hot and cold and delicious too

It was chocolaty and fruity

In fact, this potion that I brew

Was just like everything inside  you and me

 

[Prompt offered by: writing prompts.]

 

Inside Gir


It was still dark outside at 6 am and extremely chilly in the open jeep when we drove into the depths of the Gir Forest National Park, famous for its Asiatic lion, which we hoped to catch a glimpse of. Under the misty, low light of the early morning, pre-dawn moments, the forest appeared mysterious and quiet.

We had been told not to get our hopes up because not everyone is lucky enough to spot the king of the jungle. Despite that, the human mind works in its own ways because as dawn broke onto the surface of the flora and bathed it in its first light of the day, the shades of brown that stained this forest began to play tricks with our mind. Every shadow and every tree seemed to hold a lion’s head behind it. It felt like a grand adventure to me, with or without the actual spotting of the lion.

The permit

Apparently, getting a permit to enter the forest is a real headache. Some of the larger resorts have a system of pre-booking but we had made our plans 24 hours before leaving and the pre-booking is done fifteen days in advance.

The only other option?

For a 7am safari, the queues start to form at 2 am. Locals have made a business out of this by inserting the classic middleman. He will stand in the line from 2 to 4 am, which is when you have to turn up and he forfeits his position to you. There is no bullying and no monopoly here because they have devised a system of who goes in the line on which day of the week and they continue thus in a weekly rotation basis.

But you can’t get the permit if you don’t pay up to the middlemen.

The two other safaris of the day are at 9am and 3pm. The 9am safari would probably not give you a glimpse of the lion because when its hot, the lion sleeps. But in the evening the lioness goes out to hunt.

The spotted deer

There were plenty of those, grazing in seeming nonchalance, but when your vehicle would pass by they would raise their heads and become alert immediately. A deer can never let its guard down. Pre-knowledge is its greatest weapon because the element of surprise on part of its predator can make all the difference between life and death. And so the deer is always on its guard, and it can smell death and warn its friends. Most deers we saw were grazing in groups, moving in groups, a sort of rearguard standing on the edges to blow the trumpet in case of danger. A shrill, high-pitched sound is the deer warning its herd of the presence of a nearby leopard or lion.

Other animals

We also saw Nilgai (Bluebull) and Sambar.

IMG_0644

The lion and his lioness

Suddenly the man driving our vehicle stopped and pointed at lion’s footprints on the tracks.

‘He’s close by’, he said ominously and I felt goosebumps on my arm. As we went forward still, we stopped to look at a Sambar and click photos.

The guide said,’ Shh… can you hear it?’

We strained our ears and heard it. A lion’s roar.

The driver began to back the jeep until we reached a watering hole we had passed a minute ago. The jeep coming behind us had caught up in the meantime and it stopped too. Soon, there were five jeeps waiting and watching on the track.

And then, after fifteen to twenty minutes of anticipation, of camera being switched on and off, of children getting restless and of all this, interspersed with the occasional roaring and panting of a lion nearby, while pehens shouted warning signals, the lion emerged along this dirt track on one side.

He was followed by a man, a tracker we were told, he wasn’t herding the lion out, we were told; this wasn’t staged and the driver of our vehicle seemingly feigned injury at the mere suggestion that it could be.

So our lion walked out amidst us and then we spotted his lioness further away within the trees, she was shy, it seemed and wouldn’t come out, choosing instead, to drink at the watering hole further in. The lion walked out proudly, its belly swinging majestically underneath. It crossed the path where all the jeeps were parked, it even posed for the camera and then took a swig from its water source. Then it chose a long-winding path back to his lioness, having circled around us. The lion and lioness stayed near the trees a little ways away from us and seemed to engage in a little playful banter before retreating.

What I hadn’t realised in the very beginning when it was still dark and the jungle had seemed still and thrilling, was how the years of constantly streaming tourist safaris had domesticated and tamed the lions who lived around here. This lion we saw wasn’t scared of humans and he wasn’t threatened by them. In fact, he seemed to feel like a celebrity walking down the red carpet or a model on the ramp, proud in the knowledge that all eyes and cameras were on it.

IMG_0695

 

The real thrill of our trip came later, when we cut through a forest road on our way to Diu that same day. We didn’t expect to see a wild lion sitting in the trees, right on the side of the road. A police car stopped next to us and some locals began to provoke the lion. It got agitated. This one wasn’t human-friendly because it lived beyond the safari-frequented zones. It came out in a mock-attack, baring its trees and growling before getting bored of the scene and retreating. We left soon afterwards but did get some shots of this untamed beast before leaving.

Nevertheless it was thrilling to imagine what it would have been like if he had decided to test the strength of our car’s glass.

IMG_0773

 

PS: ALL photos here were taken from our camera.

A Battle


my heart is on  your hands.

In New Delhi, on a crowded bus route a 23 year old girl returning from a movie with a guy friend at 9.30 pm was raped and beaten and indescribably tortured by a group of six drunken men, who first got rid of her friend by knocking him unconscious.

The questions:

HOW did they have the nerve to rape a woman while driving through a busy traffic route?

WHY were the glasses of their bus tinted, when tinted glasses are not allowed?

WHY were the lights in a public bus turned off?

WHERE was the police? Did NOBODY notice a suspicious bus driving through with no lights on and the windows darkened?

And more importantly, now that the entire nation is outraged, why are two of these six men still on the run?

A few months ago, further northeast, in GuwahatiAssam, India a teenage girl returning from a bar after a friend’s birthday, was molested on a busy street by a crowd of men. The  whole incident was recorded on camera by a T.V. reporter and aired.

Guwahati’s C.M. Tarun Gogoi‘s office accidentally released this girl’s name during a press conference.

The editor-in-chief of the channel which aired the episode, resigned but maintained that his reporter did nothing wrong.

The media hype surrounding these incidents and the public outrage they led to forced the police to capture the criminals in both cases.

But it is deeply sickening and highly shameful for all the women and for all the decent men in our country that episodes like these take place here, not in some remote corner where the police’s negligence and incompetence may still be overlooked, but in the heart of our biggest cities, in the bloodline of our country’s capital.

Ask any girl you know: when she is out on the streets, does she not have to endure the jeers and stares and glares of a bucketload of sick men? Ask any woman who uses public transport, has she never been groped in the heat of the crowd?

If any of us have travelled alone or with girl friends, even a little, we have most definitely suffered some form of sexual abuse. The sad part is that these incidents are not seen as being the cause of great tragedy, not even by the girls who are at the receiving end because they have been conditioned to accept this as normal, because they have been subjected to it so often.

The sad truth is, in a country which is struggling so hard to still rise above so many prejudices against women, where the issues of education and healthcare and abortion and sati are still alive and thriving, where sexuality is beginning to be considered a weapon in the hands of a girl and clothing is dictated by the glares of these undeserving, worthless men on the roads and curfews are placed not on these men but on the girls, our men- even our educated men are still unaware of the struggles that women undergo on a day-to-day basis.

The streets of our country are unsafe and the retorts people come up with are varied and outrageous.

Women have no business being out alone in a street at midnight.

Women should dress carefully; women who  show even a little bit of cleavage are asking for it; they might even be said to be lusting for it.

Women shouldn’t be drinking.

Women shouldn’t be moving around without escorts or with only male friends, because the male friend might be the one to take advantage of a dark alley.

Shouldn’t men, instead be the ones to not be drinking, the ones to not be allowed outside alone after a certain time?

In my institute, even wearing capris to class is frowned upon. But what does this mean, when professors ask us to cover up our ankles and thighs? It merely means that they themselves have no bloody self control.

And how do we fight all this? We post things on Facebook, we conduct long-winding debates and offer dozens of suggestions about how the situation can be reformed. We hold rallies and protests and demonstrations. But at the end of it all, we go back to simply putting up with it because that’s how hard it is for men to change, for men to stop being savage animals, for men to control even vestiges of sexual lust.

If every women in our country got drunk at the same time and all the men were to be locked up, much less violence would ensue than the amount we face day-to-day.

So we need to prepare ourselves in self-defense because that is the best chance we have of beating them. And by them I mean these beasts you see out on the streets everyday, who are fantasizing about you, who wouldn’t hesitate to take advantage of you, who are secretly desiring having you right there and then. Sexual desire drives every man, no matter how hard we deny it, no matter how difficult it is to be a girl and believe this; it could be us instead of her right now, battling for life while a nation prays for justice.

The only ones we can rely upon our ourselves. Because behind long hours of debates and outrageous cries for justice, is a system which will take years to deliver and might never get us where we want to be. Sometimes it is foolish to dream it would. But we can’t lose hope.

Carry a pepper spray. Carry a bludgeon, if you will. Aim for their balls, hit them where it might hurt forever, even if they walk away, even if you die. Learn some self-defense. And do everything you can to protect the other women and girls around you.

Our God-given smaller size and comparitively delicate bodies shouldn’t be a punishment. We need to be respected too. Don’t let them destroy you.

Prayer for that girl fighting for her life in Delhi, the girl who wants to live and see justice happen.

How to Love a T.V. Series


I have friends who just don’t get it. Friends who don’t have the patience or energy or dedication to sit through one episode of a  T.V. series. And then I have friends who don’t want to put in the energy or effort to actually truly connect with a T.V. series (or okay, I have one friend for each of those above-mentioned traits). Well they should know that you can’t just love a T.V. series in one day. Not all of them, anyway.

250px-Community_title

(1) Take Community for example. It is the latest new (for me) T.V. series that I have been watching.  Now, with Community, I feel two things are likely to happen. You might start getting irritated by all the characters in its cast, or you could fall instantaneously in love. Now I can tell you, that the moment I saw both Britta and Anne, I loved them. They’re pretty and smart and just generally nice. Anne might irritate the crap out of you at times, with her exaggerated exclamations and her large, large eyes. But I liked her. And of course, as a girl I would have to like Jeff. Abed, I feel, is a controversial person. I like him. But you could easily find his Asperger’s syndrome and his manner of speaking and relating everything with a T.V. series (not to mention his continuous references to T.V. a little annoying- but hey, look what you’re reading). The character I dislike the most is Pierce. He is shown to be crass and racist and inappropriate, but more than anything else, he seems the most unnecessary member of the crew.

So yes, to be in love with a show like Community with a very diversified cast, you need to have some patience. The episode in which I finally started appreciating this show’s humor and story lines was the one in which Britta performs a dance sequence on stage and Troy has to rescue her because she gets paralyzed with jealousy.

prison-break-tattoo

(2) Believe it or not, I have a friend who does not like Prison Break, even though she has watched a few episodes and yet she loves Castle and White Collar. My question: how on EARTH can you NOT fall head-over-heels in love with Prison Break from the very first fifteen minutes of the very first episode? I am not saying that you have to love Michael Scofield. I am not saying you have to love Sara Tancredi. I am not saying you have to watch T-Bag with a sense of disgusted amazement and yet not be able to draw your eyes away from him. All I am saying is, how can you not not NOT love the beautiful, intricate, absolutely ingenious plot of the show? Do you not know that any show or movie that you watch about breaking out of prison (yes, Great Escape, Midnight Express… I mean you) will henceforth be paled in comparison?

So okay. Perhaps you do not enjoy the first episode (how could you not though, when in the end of it Scofield reveals that the tattoos all over his body are actually a map of the entire prison that can only be read by him- and by a certain schizoaffective, bipolar prisoner later on, along with containing clues and riddles to help him through the rest of Seasons 1 and 2?). Well take a deep breath and move on to episode 2. And if you still don’t like it, go kill yourself! Prison Break is the most addictive, imaginative show on T.V. with a cast of rich characters you’ll either love or hate to death but ultimately won’t be able to stop watching. And Season 1 is probably its best season (but please do not take this to believe that the other seasons are any less amazing-you don’t even get to meet Alexander Mahone until Season 2 and he will blow your mind).

1348851717969_Xfinity_Dexter_1280x640_Overlay_640_320

(3) The same friend who did not like Prison Break also does not happen to like DexterWell, I will pardon her here. Dexter is not the best of series because it has its highs and lows and some people get disgusted by the fact that the protagonist is a mass-murderer. Yes, Dexter has double standards and he has a blurred sense of justice (read more about all that here). And some other people get grossed out by the way he murders people and the amount of blood. I can’t deny there is blood in Dexter, but boy if we are going down the blood and gore road, please scroll further and read point (4). But Dexter’s first season is pretty amazing (spoilers ahead). We know the guy Deborah is dating is queer even though he is a doctor and soon enough we find out that he is indeed the ice-truck killer and he befriends Dexter but Dexter is clueless about him and his biggest secret is revealed later on. And once you like Season 1, you have to go further with it of course.

As I watched Season 2, 3 and 4 I developed a great love for the girl Rita Bennet, who Dexter was dating and her two kids from her first failed marriage. She was adorable and I got so attached to her that the end of Season 4 (MAJOR spoiler) where she dies, broke my heart into little bits. And yes, Season 4 is one of the awesome episodes, and so is season 6.

House-Stark-game-of-thrones-21499072-1680-1050

(4) If you’re not a fan of the blood and gore of Dexter you would probably avoid Game of Thrones, right? But the wonder is, the very friend of mine who didn’t like Dexter, enjoyed Game of Thrones so much that she made everyone else around her watch it and they all enjoyed it too. On my recommendation. So let’s take a pause here and love me.

Game of Thrones is set in a fictional wonderland Westeros where magic and politics combine in a ruthless manner. Comprised of seven houses, the rulers of each of which are seeking the ultimate control of the Iron Throne, one of the disturbing aspects of this series is that though the bloody, murderous scenes and the constant, pain-in-the-ass nudity (by nudity I mean, only female nudity) deem this show completely, absolutely unfit for children, its cast comprises of rather a lot of child actors.

Two seasons in, Game of Thrones is an H.B.O. show at the heights of its glory and goriness, as well. So if you can stomach swords cutting through flesh, you need to watch Game of Thrones. And believe me, as you watch, you will get rather resistant to the murders until it will seem uncanny if even an episode would go by without the display of blood or tits.

And also, this show has dragons and Walking Dead people. ^_^

the-big-bang-theory-2

(5) Moving on, I would like to give you one of the success stories of recent television: Big Bang Theory. We all know geeky is the new sexy and this show has picked up with the speed of light. From modest beginnings, Big Bang Theory’s five member cast has now blown up to encompass two more characters and for me, a source of happiness is that this series has an Indian Kunal Nayyar playing Raj Kuthrapalli. But Indian humor is pretty stereotyped and concentrates on call centers, funny accents (which we all do NOT have by the way) and also, Raj’s constant failure in the girl department does not please me.

Moving on from this digression, The Big Bang Theory is about three scientists and an engineer (who is constantly leg-pulled for that) who live across the hall from a blonde, pretty girl. Comedy ensues, of course. Comedy which gets technical and scientific in the best kind of way. Best characters? Sheldon Cooper and Howard Wolowitz. So you can buckle your seatbelts and get through this show. Its slow to fall in love with but picks up wondrously.

Spoiler which doesn’t really matter: Raj woos and flirts with Siri in one episode. Ingenious!

How-I-Met-Your-Mother-CBS-Neil-Patrick-Harris

(6) How I Met Your Mother picked up in a unique flashback, time-capsule-filled fashion. And the first few seasons were amazing so you won’t have a hard time starting to enjoy it (despite the many similarities it shares with the unbeatable F.R.I.E.N.D.S. – scroll down further) but then it slowed to a standstill and Barney Stinson played by Neil Patrick Harris became the only high-point of the show. The latest season, however, is nice if you have the patience to watch up until it. Its still a bit of a drag and the suspense surrounding the mother seems to have scared the writers a little bit. Because, yes, eight seasons in and we still don’t know exactly how he meets the mother of his children since they haven’t introduced her unless you count her yellow umbrella and high heels an introduction.

(7) If you’ve been hearing references to being Sherlocked then that most definitely means that the person in question is in love with BBC’s Sherlock. My warning to you is: watch only at your own discretion and if you’re sure you can handle the suspense of waiting for one whole year for a new season of this show because it is that awesome.

A contemporary spin on Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, based in modern, fast-paced London with a most delightfully scheming Jim Moriarty, I cannot describe to you how exquisite this show is. You have to watch it. No really. Right NOW. If you haven’t seen it, please drop whatever you are doing and go watch Benedict Cumberbatch blow your mind away.

I will not say anything more about Sherlock. There are tears in my eyes.

tumblr_m6m2uzQhS61r3pz0yo1_1280

(8) Of course, if you’re so new to television that you haven’t even seen F.R.I.E.N.D.S., you definitely need to make it a priority. A gender-balanced cast of six characters, each more lovable than the other, this 10 season show from the the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s is the most loved T.V. show ever and nobody will be exaggerating if they tell you that when you’re sad or low and want a laugh or a distraction, when you’re bored and have some time to kill, when you’re lonely and need a friend (see what I did there?), this is by far your best option.

So whatever excuses you have for not watching T.V. series. Get over them. Chuck ’em out the window and please just go watch one of the above shows. I have a whole list of other T.V. shows that I have watched but these will have to be the best ones. By the way, can I ask you: do I need help?

8748_10152476898345107_259313092_n

Hands Clasped in Mine (2)


Life on the Murder Scene
Life on the Murder Scene (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

When she left, my life turned into a series of blank pages at the end of an unfinished book deserted by its writer in an exasperated lack of inspiration. I swam through life, through the doors of my residence, through the streets we had haunted together, through the nightclubs and the glitz. I  missed he in my own way. I spent hours playing on my violin and I gave myself in to reading with a feverish passion. I was not interested in the woman who sought to me to console me. I did not like it when they pulled up their skirts suggestively or offered to buy me a drink. I myself did not offer to buy anyone any drinks. I adopted asexuality with a sense of comradeship and spent lonely hours going over photoalbums, exploring tirelessly every aspect of her social life that I had captured in her years as my mistress.

When love dies, the thing that rears its ugly head in its place is not indifference or hate, but a desperate need to claim back what we have lost. That was what I wanted. I wanted her back. I didn’t know why the only people she wanted to impress were the ones who did not care if she was cold at night, or hurt, or unsafe, or unsatisfied, or unsure, or in tears. I cared about all those things. I would have kept her as my mistress for another fifty years until I lay cold in my grave but the excessiveness of her overtly ambitious desire to be the social butterfly of the world had grappled me with a white-hot scar that made me want to seek out every nightclub, every ball, every social event of the universe and replace them with a flaming desire in her loins so she would come crawling back to my arms.

I spent many fanciful evenings creating such long lusty scenes in my head; scenes that always ended with animalistic detailing of a powerful nature.

And then one day when I least expected it, a letter came in her artistically curvy handwriting. I tried to control my trembling hands, tried to tell myself that I was just glad she was alive but when the letter lay open at my feet, I knew a part of my soul had died forever. The unanswered questions did not matter anymore. Our quest had ended forever. I tore up the letter and rode out alone into the sunset sustaining my passionate urges with whores I picked up at reasonable prices, releasing my months of abstinence with a revengeful series of paid escorts who hung on my arms during a night-long festival of dancing and then got into my pants until the wee hours for love-making. This pleasure building exercise alienated me from all the women who had earlier flocked around me for attention.

At the heart of my wondrous, inventive nightly adventures lay a howling animal so wounded he would have slashed out at anything and everything if uncaged and so I let him remain tightly locked up underneath layers and layers of self-restraint padlocks. The magical remains of her smell, her skin, her beautiful, well-rounded body, her smile, her lips, her neck, her eyes disappeared from deep inside my memory. All that remained was an idea of a woman who was weak to the world but strong to me, seen by everyone but known only by me. My woman companions were lusty revenges but I did not know who I was taking revenge on. The woman who had shattered me lived on another continent now and flirted with life and men alike without a damned care in the world.

Then, one dawn when I lay in the arms of a modest hooker from somewhere Far East, I knew she was back in the city. I didn’t know how I knew or why it had to be true but it was. I untangled myself from the arms of this person who suddenly seemed both unreal and wrong to me and ran down several flights of stairs into the cold morning air in slippers and pyjamas, hastily pulling a cloak around myself.

I searched high and dry that entire day in all the places I thought she could be but without luck. When it finally dawned on me to look in the one place I had missed, it was already nightfall. I walked back slowly, drawing curious stares from strangers as I had been all day.

When I threw open the door of my apartment, I noticed at once that something was very amiss. Clothes lay strewn about everywhere; not just my clothes but silk dresses, stockings, silk undergarments…everything in loud, fast colours.

But it was the walls that drew me towards them. She had drawn a mosaic on all the walls of my small flat. Intricate paintings in flat, quick strokes that displayed every aspect of my years with her; everything told in a musical way that made the images dance before my eyes in visual ecstasy.

The trail of blood took a while to emerge before my eyes but once it did, I followed it into the bedroom. Propped up against my desk, arranged in a dignified manner was my hot whore from last night, her throat slit from side-to-side in a fluid motion. I understood at once, but did not recoil. I did not have the need to recoil. I could see and believe what I saw in an objective manner but it did not make me love her any less. It did not make me want her any less. In fact, she had clearly left me the one message I had sub-consciously known all along but never admitted to myself.

I smiled.

There was no need to clear up this mess. They wouldn’t find me. I walked to my closet and started to pack. I was going places.

I left behind all my books, gathering only some clothes and a bag of toiletries. I did not touch anything else, choosing to leave a broad mosaic of clues for the police.

As I closed the lights and walked out, I knew what the truth about us was.

She always had been the woman I thought she had just pretended to be, the woman I had seen only in the bedroom. Her need to please had been limited to me but I had interpreted her wrongly and she had chosen to let it all pass because for her, life really was a huge, unparalleled adventure and she couldn’t have drawn me into it with anything but the most drastic of steps.

And if a life had been lost in the process, it was just a life lost for a greater cause, wasn’t it? There was a world waiting for us.

I turned my back on that world, knowing that she would eventually find me.

Hands Clasped in Mine


All the world's a stage,
All the world’s a stage, (Photo credit: sara biljana)

When she twirled into a room, she wanted everyone to watch. She was the attention-craving, fancy, lit-up metaphor of twitching nervous energy disguised beneath dainty legs, an ever-smiling face and lips that were always crimson. I did not envy her but I did love her.

The first night we were together, I put my arms around her and asked her why she craved attention like a little child. Her simple answer was to quote Shakespeare,

All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players”.

I knew then that drama was what she wanted and her craving for it was so great, so uncontrollably overwhelming, that she would tear down anyone who stood in her way.

She loved the theater. Every time we hit the underbelly of nightlife, she wanted to go to the greasy, sleazy theaters enacting out Mafia-movies or undignified, crass comedies. I went with her to humor her but I was too cultured to understand the significance of such exasperating entertainment in her life.

But as I judged her, I realised that underneath the woman who sang her way through social circles  slept all morning and spent all afternoon looking for that perfect cocktail dress, those perfect nails, the perfect heels for the night, was a woman who found simplistic pleasures in the most dramatically enhanced comedic interpretations of life.

She had no love or patience for reading. I smoked a long pipe and spent hours sitting besides a lamp on the wooden floor of my sparingly furnished apartment but she fretted. I told her to learn the valuable lesson in the virtue they called patience but she had no time for my philosophically bent monologues.

She would gently set aside my book, take off my reading glasses and throw away my pipe and set herself upon my knee. She would perch there and look at me with playfully sparkling eyes and throw back her hair and laugh. The irresistible delicacy of that moment would light me with a hot fire and I would start my journey up her flimsy nightdress, my hands exploring all parts of her body. Her welcoming moans only flattered my beliefs in my powers of exciting women, especially since the woman in my arms was the most challenging of them all.

Our nighttime prowess would start late at night and keep us occupied till breakfast time the next morning. We were both fiery in our own ways and in the bedroom, she did not suffer the piteous urge to please as much as I did. It came to her naturally; it was like second nature because with one fluid motion she would hold me captivated like a tigress and it would be up to me then to offer her something no other man could. And for some reason, I knew that I was offering her something no other man could. I understood her, both inside and outside the bedroom. Her aloofness was a cloak and it fell apart when we were alone. But when we slept together, I forgot to be superior, I forgot how she utterly degraded herself in front of the whole wide world without anyone realising it. I forgot that I was the one saving her and not vice versa. She was the only woman I wanted, my carefully guarded asexual demeanor lay shattered at her feet. She never realised it; not in the all-consuming kisses we shared, nor in the bestiality of our love-making.

Indeed she did not see that her creamy-white skin, her high cheekbones, her alluring neck, her crimson pout, her tastefully coiffed hair called out to me when we were grasped with sinful, beautiful lust. For her, her need to be magnificent ended once she stepped out of the external world.

The unbearable heat of our bedroom explorations never fizzed out but once we stepped out, we both became the opposite of what we were. I began to see her once more as a child playing a hopeless game of hide-and-seek with the world; they never would find the things she hid but they knew where those things were; whereas she believed they were ignorant. But she was the one who was actually grappled in ignorance. I could not see how she could not see that.

The culmination of sixteen years of painfully, unimaginably exciting extractions came when she announced her desire to move to France. France has forever filled many, many men and women with des sentiments d’amour but I never imagined she would take her need to please to such a level of downtrodden decision-making.

I pleaded with her, I begged her to stay and then in the last desperate act of a desperate man I offered her my heart in a manner I knew was wrong. A manner I knew wasn’t meant for us. She stomped on it on her way out the door but the tremors of that banged door shut my humanity out with a sorry light.

(…to be continued)

[You can also choose to read my complete story here, on Bookrix]