A Cute Love Story

LOVE (Photo credit: StreetFly JZ)

Your dark humor dawned

Full of laughter on my horizon

Breaking the deadening yawn

Of my grounded, worldly creation


You told me, ‘I bought you a wall

Its in the middle of town

You can fashion something: anything at all

And turn my world upside-down’


I smiled crookedly with my lips

And my eyes lit up like fireflies

I said, ‘you saved me all those trips

Wondering if it was even worth the while’


So we walked across to a cute little tea-shop

And bought scones and dainty cups of tea

And you told me, ‘It made my heart stop

The very first time you spoke to me’


We spent hours besides the creek

Talking like teenagers would

You seemed to know things I couldn’t (wouldn’t) speak

And you seemed to know where we stood


Then we went back to that wall

And started to think of things to make

But they wouldn’t come: big or small

So we decided upon a break


Three weeks I didn’t hear from you

My days grew sad, my heart grew sour

But finally when the winter breeze flew

I worked on the wall hour by hour


The day I finished, you came by

And in a bird-like snapping of your neck

You appraised my portrait with a critic’s eye

And smiled because you liked my trick


I stared in astonishment at you

For I had drawn you on my wall, you see

Thinking this dream wouldn’t come true

But that was just the start of our cute love story

Pattern Recognition: William Gibson

Cover of "Pattern Recognition"
Cover of Pattern Recognition

Souls can’t move that quickly, and are left behind, and must be awaited, upon arrival, like lost luggage.

Once in a while you read a book which begins on a weird note, demanding you to change your range of frequency when it comes to understanding it’s tone and layout.

This was, for me, one of those books.

Cayce Pollard is a freelancer who has a very specific task: she gauges the market’s reaction to brand logos and interprets them in a way that allows companies to know how they will be received by the public- and she is very good with that. Flown to London for one such project, Cayce finds that her temporary employer is also interested in hiring her for another purpose: to look into a set of anonymous online film, released randomly in tiny segments across the web, and discover the maker. Because this film has triggered a sub-culture and given rise to a cult, her employer is interested in meeting with the maker of the film in order to better understand the strategy that has allowed these clips to go so viral.

Cayce, a religious follower of the film herself, is unable to resist an offer to track down this film-maker. Meanwhile, somebody is constantly tailing her, choosing to break into her friend’s apartment where she is staying and tracking her emails and correspondence. With the help of friends, colleagues and coincidences, Cayce starts to get closer and closer to the truth. Her quest takes her from London to Tokyo and back and then into the steely grasp of a post-communist, PutinRussia where she will inevitably brush against Russia’s richest man.

Reading the blurb of Pattern Recognition had led me to believe that it would be a modern, internet-savvy detective novel but this book had only elements of what I had expected. It offered a cultural insight into London, Tokyo and Moscow. It also made you feel the indirect wrath of global events such as the Second World War, the collapse of the Berlin Wall and a deeper, more direct link to the 9/11 attacks, since the story here takes place in 2002 and we are told that Cayce’s father went missing on the same day. This obviously leads to direct references to that event, again and again, throughout the span of the novel.

The writing style can be a little distracting at first because it needs some getting used to. Also, the story line moves in a linear, predictable fashion at first and picks up pace very slowly.

But once I reached the ending, I had pretty much decided that I had enjoyed the book though it will be a while before I attempt to pick up another book by William Gibson.

My favourite thought relating to this book stemmed from the author’s observation explaining jet-lag: it occurs because the soul is not able to keep up with the speed of travel and unwinds behind us on an invisible thread as we travel. In the interim, while we wait for it to catch up, we must suffer the side-effects of not having a soul.

Dusted White

Flowers cannot hurt me

They sing a tune I recognize

A melody, a lingering scent with a crescendo

A rise that is beautiful

A fall that is devastating

They take me on a journey I wouldn’t repent

Flowers cannot hurt me

But you can

The flaming bully charged at me

Flung those flailing arms around my waist

And I was falling, expedited

But there was something on the other side of the wake

When the bodies were burnt and my phoenix reborn

You stood there

Dusted white


My world was shades of sepia

Pulling at the string of truth

Through a broken land of halfhearted promises

But survival had been born out of something primitive inside

And I was broken in the shortest span

The fall couldn’t have hurt me

But you can

The leitmotif of my hysteria

Was understood by no one but you

The strangest nights were born from it

And we began to question every hue

But you stood there

Dusted white


I was tired of the glow

Wishing those embers would die down

So I could be washed onto the shore in peace

A peace borne out of something exotic

But something I couldn’t reach

Something that wouldn’t hurt me

The way you can

So I started to sing a blue song

The melody carried in the air

Spreading like a sugar cube sunk in a diabetic’s tea

Closing in deliberately

Until you stood there

Dusted white


The signals are coming in

But my pattern is a study in contrast

A break in the way lives flow

In the way colors attempt to fill in the blanks

This war couldn’t have hurt me

But you most certainly can

I built layers out of thin air

Conjured up a world that is choking me

Its nasty fingers closing in on my throat

The price I pay for these thoughts

Is standing in front of me

Its you- dusted white


White flowers of Osteospermum ecklonis
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Break the dam, let this river flow, don’t hold back, don’t let my silences define where I am.

I feel caged at times; like there is a beast inside me. A beast pouring colors and emotions and passion into the universe but  unable to find all the necessary expressions it needs to explain all the hues that flow inside it.

It makes me want to scream at times, it makes me want to break out of the constrictions of a body so earthly bond, so unaware, so limited in senses.

Only the dimensions a soul can see are visible to me through poetry.

It is as though I am in a close dark room with minimum lighting and through a tiny, narrow slit in the wall I can see the world outside and that is the only way I have of accessing it, all others being close to me unless I can vaporize through the crack and reach the other side.

Misery is born out of the things I see through that crack. Things I cannot even describe or understand because everything I can remember and everything  I actually know is inside the room, leaving me demented to describe the things outside.

The Streets- Part 2

I had met Billy by coincidence- it had been one of those inexplicable things when you start to feel that something like destiny does exists, even though you lead a poverty-stricken life and make your money outside the law.

It had been one of my usual nights on the subway, selling to junkies who knew I was reliable and regular with the supply, even though I couldn’t afford to be cheap. But there was no dearth of buyers, even on the worst of weeks. And close to Christmas, the demand trebled. Holiday loneliness of some sort.

Billy was one of those unpredictable men who would appear and disappear at will. It was hard to notice him; he was smooth and he was sly. He roamed around with two bulky men when he needed protection but he could become a shadow and hide in the darkness whenever he wanted.

Maybe he saw something in me he liked or maybe he was sniffing around to see if I was hunting on his territory. I was always careful to leave the Big Man’s business alone.

Whenever Billy would meet me, he would leave his bursting-out-of-their-shirts bodyguards. He first took me to his large underground hideout behind a regular jeweler store- it was one of those pies in which the Big Man had dipped his fingers. And there was a crack in the wall, through which a conveniently shown flashlight acted as a signal for entry. Or codes for other messages. But Billy never shared those.

He shared other things though. He told me that the Big Man was called Henry and lived in a secret location nobody knew. The only way to reach the Big Man, even for Billy, was to go through a network of men who were frequently rotated to a standard set of locations that changed at whimsy. Billy couldn’t contact his boss at any time; the boss contacted him.

Billy was so good-looking that it was excruciating to be around him those first few nights. He didn’t buy me anything, saying that it would be too¬†ostentatious for him to do so and would immediately come to the boss’s notice. But he helped me in small ways of his own. He often bought all my stash from me at a price so exaggerated, I was afraid to hold the cash in my hand. But he said he would recover the money somewhere else.

And then one night, he turned up with a bottle of champagne. It was something I had never tasted before. He had gone through great pains to smuggle it out because, though he had access to a lot of things, it was all inventoried and subject to the scrutiny of the Big Man at all times.

I think that was the night i fell in love with Billy.

We were at the hide-out with that bottle of champagne. It wasn’t romantic- the rooms had an oddly musty smell and the plaster from the walls was peeling. Billy had a few hours to spare but one of his few trusted men were on the lookout outside, just in case something turned up.

After my first delicate sips of that elixir, I stopped worrying about all the things that pulled me down in the back of my mind. Billy got out some cigarettes and I watched him light up the first one and puff out into the air; the smell of soap mixed with smoke lingered towards me; I leaned closer and dared to rest my hand on his knee- it was our first intimate contact in over a week of friendship.

Truth be told, I was a little scared of Billy. He worked for Big Man, what if he was testing me, breaking me? There were a dozen ulterior motives I could think of in my head and this was one of the many reasons I hadn’t told Rats about him.

But that night, his shrewd eyes were full of amusement and laughter. He was always at ease, and he leaned in and brushed his lips gently against mine. The electricity of that touch made me shudder. I moved closer, until our bodies touched.


Someone was calling out my name. I drifted from the depths of a deep dream, sifting through memories to figure out what was going on. A sharp pain in my neck told me I was alive.

‘Hey’ somebody whispered. ‘Its Billy. Open your eyes.’

I did. I wasn’t dead because the pain was so real, so piercing but I didn’t know what was hurting. I couldn’t see, except for the hazy outline of Billy’s head floating in mid-air.

‘I need you to listen to me carefully.’ Billy was saying but I heard a moan next to me. I turned and saw Rats, half-unconscious and bound on the floor.

‘Remember I told you about the trafficking?’

I did. One night, a few weeks after our first champagne-soaked love-making, I reached the hide-out and noticed a car parked to one side, the car boot was half lifted and a girl, tied up and blindfolded, was lying inside. She wasn’t making much noise but I could see that she was trying to struggle. One side of her dress was a little torn and I noticed that she was wearing an expensive, heavily-laced bra within.

I went down to Billy’s. ‘Who’s that girl?’ I asked him.

Unfazed as ever, Billy lifted a cigarette to his lips and drew in deeply. ‘Just one of the side-businesses’, he offered by way of explanation.

I didn’t press further. In our world, you kept your head low and didn’t try to meddle with other people’s lives. It was the only way to survive. So no matter what I saw, I kept mum about it.

‘They are going to smuggle you and Rats out of here’ Billy was saying. ‘I can’t stop them. They were on to me. That’s how they got to you. I’m sorry.’

Even through my drug-hazed thoughts, this piece of information struck home. Smuggle us out. It meant one thing; I knew that there would be no turning back.

‘But I can’t let that happen’ ¬†Billy was saying. ‘I got one of my men to ring the alarm. He is calling the police. They’ll be here soon, are you listening to me?’

I tried to nod but couldn’t. The police. Yes, I would rather go to jail.

‘You might get busted but I doubt it. This place is flooded with things they’d wanna see. They’d be like children on Christmas morning with a bunch of presents. I think you’ll walk. The Big Man is another matter though.’

I realized suddenly that Billy had my head in his lap, and then realized something was very wrong. If the police were coming…

‘I can’t walk out of this, sweetheart. But I want you to know that through all these years of my¬†infinitely cruel¬†operations, I never for one moment imagined that I would ever get so powerfully caught up in love that I would prefer my own doom to that of a woman.’

A sense of alarm began to take over me. What was Billy saying? I tried to speak up, tried to move, but I was starting to black out. I felt him rest my head gently onto something soft, felt him walk away and then come back. He bent down in front of me and kissed my forehead.

‘Goodbye love’ he said, and before I could do anything or feel anything, the inevitable gunshot rang out and I saw a river of blood cloud my line of sight.

Far away, beyond the walls of the hide-out, I heard the ringing of police sirens.

(The end)