Archive for January, 2010

Dusty Streets

Posted: January 31, 2010 in Poetry
Tags: , , , ,

 

Danger on the streets mom

You didn’t tell me

They slick you and throw you

Out in the wild

I was only a kid when they stole me

Of my dreams

They got me to join them soon

Gone to hell in a day

Its today they said or never

You left me no choice mom

You said you will live

You said you will stick around

But you weren’t there

They did you in and threw you out

On the dusty streets

To pick up the pieces and walk

You said you couldn’t

Not today or tomorrow

I learnt to walk on my own mom

I limped and crawled

Wherever my feet carried me to

I cried for days

I wanted to be normal that’s all

But fate didn’t let me

Infernal is my existence here

I pray and I seek

The dusty streets are all I have

 

Demun Soriasis flipped the cigarette between his lips, lighted it, the flame of the lighter adding a glint to his maniacal eyes. He inhaled and then exhaled a long stream of putrid smoke that mingled with the dense night fog. His eyes darted, searching in the darkness for unwanted trouble. He stood casually leaning against the door of a dilapidated building, his other hand in his pocket occasionally touching the gun in the holster. The cold metal gave him confidence. He would need it tonight.  The street had occasional drunks and homeless people loitering around.  A couple of drug pushers ambled around pretending to be pedestrians, their eyes darting around sizing up the situation, keeping an alert for cops on the prowl.

His low slung hat shielding his eyes from the glare of a random car that whizzed around with loud music blaring. This was the seediest part of town where the ‘untouchables’ lived, a common phrase used by the cops when they referred to the 12th ward, a few blocks beyond downtown Madrid City. The cops never ventured alone here. They worked in pairs with a backup on the alert, not too far away. He wasn’t worried about the cops, he never was. It was the informers that bothered him; the bounty hunters who prowled around and collected, for tipping off the cops and the rival gangs.

Today he wasn’t going to use his disguise. He would take a chance and see what happens. Demun was never known to be careless at his job. His precision, eye for details and quick executions had earned him the title of the top ‘hit man’. They called him “Quicksilver”. He had never messed up and he worked alone.  He preferred his solitude, not wanting to train any insolent newbie, who might bite his back eventually. He was the master of his domain and he got paid well. Nobody had seen him. The message he got today was cryptic. An apartment number and a street number, all decoded and deciphered by him.  A series of un-associated messages was conveyed to him; none along the conveyor chain knowing the source.  It was hard to trace and nobody cared as long as the job was done.

He looked at his luminescent watch, half- past- one. Another half hour and he would be all set to get on with the job. He had it all figured out and had spent days studying his escape route. The watch was his only reminder of his past. His mother had given it to him the night she died. She had overdosed on some crummy dope; someone had pushed on to her. Her embittered life of drugs and prostitution had come to a painful end that night, as he watched helplessly. She had pushed the watch into his hands muttering something under her breath. He would never know why she wanted him to keep it. But he had kept it as the only source of memory, of a dysfunctional family he had.

The bitterness in life had hardened him into an unfeeling person, which he displayed on his job.  Lately he was sobering down and loosing his edge. He was softening and getting an aversion to the calls he was receiving. He only took the jobs that paid well. He wanted to make a good nest egg and run away somewhere far and start anew. He knew it was a matter of time before the will to continue collapsed and left him adrift. He was pretty sure he didn’t want to spend time behind bars or face the death penalty ever.

The clock ticked away slowly and he steadily walked towards his destination.

“Apartment #24, Langley Court,” the code had said.

“Female,” the next code revealed.

“Eliminate,” was the standard phrase after that.

This was the usual pattern of events and directions for him. It was the first time in eight months the target was a ‘female’. He never needed the answers or clarifications for his targets.

He pried open the window lock and gently lowered him in. His mask, gloves, and shoe mitts took care of evidences.  ‘Swift job and out’ he told himself as he walked towards the bedroom of the house. Tip-toeing around, he found himself in the wrong bedroom. It was the children’s room. There were four bunkers with kids occupying them. The fifth one slept on the floor on a sleeping bag. The dim light from the night-light revealed angelic faces lost in their own dreamland.  He let out a stifled breath of exasperation, cursed and walked to the second bedroom down the hallway.  He nudged open the door and walked towards the bed, the nylon rope taut in his hands.

He looked down at the sleeping face on the pillow and his hands wavered. The serene sleeping face of a mother of five looked back at him. Who the devil wanted this woman dead, his head screamed? His face broke out into a sweat. His money was waiting in a coded mail box somewhere. He lowered the nylon rope gently towards her neck …

He slipped out as quietly as he entered and walked away, as far away as he could and then broke out into a run. His getaway car was waiting in the moonlight. With skidding wheels he hurtled down the highway never looking back, driving on and on into the darkness; the headlights making strange zigzag patterns on the tarred road. He had done it finally. He had won over himself. This was his last chance and the only one he would ever get. He had to take it and run with it, if he wanted to survive.

In Apartment #24, Langley Court the children all sat around the breakfast table wolfing down pancakes while their mother watched over them lovingly. It was another day, another morning…

 ——–

Verses

Posted: January 28, 2010 in Poetry
Tags:

Verses as they came:

 

Safely Moored…

 Anchored sturdy upon a pond
Calm and safe that little boat
Quietly lies she in an inlet tonight
In the fading light of the eastern sky
She will catch the tide with morrow 
With no wild sea beyond her shores
We too in life are proved and tried
Some ride out while others fail
Reaching for the harbor walls
Much before darkness falls
Safely moored…

 

 Continuity…

 Drowning in your endless rivers

Waking up to chills and shivers

Silvery twilight slowly reaching

Quietly then I stand there breathing

Sweet serenity often that beckons

Compromising that often I reckon

Together flying past minds

Soaring and letting go binds

Somewhere when it all crashed

Hopes of all kinds dashed

Death

And then rebirth

Elusive

Devoid of continuity…

 

 

Shreds…

 The fog rolls in tonight from the ocean

adding a strange sense of disquiet

and ambiguous silence.

 

Pulverized thoughts lay scattered

on the sands of time

washed and cleansed by the tide.

 

 

Memory…

  Make me a memory,

I could write a few lines

Obfuscating dream & reality,

Sailing on choppy seas

Spying a lighthouse, yonder

Rowing to its light, beacon

Night fog rolling in, misty

Tears lined my eyes…

 

 Make me a memory

I could sing a few lines

Serenading myself and you

Drifting along the shore

Seeing the wind blown leaves

Spreading its light and colors

Fall sweeps in and takes it away

A smile creased my lips…

 Make me a memory

To live and die for

As I savor life…

 

He stood there gazing through the bars at a blue sky in the distance. He saw a pair of birds fly away towards the horizon. He dwelled on that thought ‘what wouldn’t I give to fly away from this prison’. His was a life that came to halt a long time back; a long, long time back, maybe 22 years ago or was it more. He had lost count and didn’t care anymore. If this was where he was condemned to die and take his last breath, nothing would stop that from happening and he had given up hope a long time back.

He walked back to his tiny cell that had become his home and the walls that had become his friends and his echo. A wooden sleeper with a blanket and a sorry pillow that had lost all its fluff was the only furniture there. An occasional rat wandered in, hoping for crumbs when there wasn’t much for him either.

A lone decrepit wash basin stood in the corner with a mug and bucket at the bottom of it. His only personal belongings- a picture he had cut out and  stuck on the wall, from a magazine, of a happy home with a family standing in the driveway, with laughing kids- that reminded him of a painful, lost past.  A bible with dog ears and lost pages along with a history book the prison guard had kindly supplied him. He had read the book from front to back, over and over again memorizing every word in there.

He could read back the Bible and its verses now. He had aged beyond recognition. 22 years had taken a toll on his life and his physical attributes. The hair was gone; stubble of a beard, drooping shoulders and a small paunch was what was left of him not to mention the lost, faraway look his eyes had.

The prison guards loved him, a gentle soul that he was, always with a smile and kind word. The laugh lines ran all over his face and no one could ever believe he was accused of such heinous crimes that were attributed to him.

***

22 years back they found David Malcolm’s wife with her throat slashed and a bloody living room with tell-tale signs of a struggle. What he remembered was the way blood was smeared all over the house in a gory fashion. His 5-yr-old who came running into the room was suffocated and stuffed away in a closet. His 12-yr-old was away at school and had escaped the horrendous crime. The cops looked high and low, month after month and eventually an overzealous cop seeking fast promotions and glory had latched on to the him as the convict.

 Several non-circumstantial evidences later, basing on cooked up stories and false witnesses, they had dragged him to court. They accused him of being a vindictive, jealous husband who suspected his wife’s fidelity and had done her to death in fury. He was a mute spectator, whose life got stolen under him for no reason. The court had done with the case soon and he found himself implicated. He found himself in the slammer with a life sentence, since the crime was so gory and vindictive. They didn’t give him a chance, they didn’t listen to his appeals, and they didn’t care.

He was forty-one then and had just begun his new life on a factory floor that was paying him decent allowances to take care of his un-glamorous life and family. All of that came crashing down in a jiffy like a pack of cards. He heard occasionally from his son. He was married and lived somewhere and wrote to him occasionally. Did his son believe he was innocent? Did he still love him? Did he think about him …these were questions that went through his mind day in and day out?

***

His lawyer had come through the doors that Sunday after church services, with a bundle of papers and a happy smile on his face. He grabbed David and hugged him. He had tears flowing down his face. Haltingly his lawyer had given him the news. He was a free man. They had found the guilty murderer and arrested him. The jig- saw puzzle had all fallen in place. The overzealous cop had died in an automobile accident but some law school students had worked their heart out, traced back all the stories and documents and had found evidence that vindicated him. He was a free man. He was free to go back to the world that had put him in there in the first place. Freedom was knocking on his doors after 22 years. He could now be the bird he always envied.

David couldn’t think straight after that. How does one go back to ‘living’ when the ‘living’ was snatched away from him a long time back? Was it possible to learn to live again? What were the things he enjoyed doing outside the prison walls? What were the good things he liked about the world that shut him out of it? How was he going to find his place in society again and earn everyone’s respect? Wouldn’t he be treated as an outcast? These thoughts went through his mind as he bid goodbye, collected his belongings and walked out of that door that was home for him most of his life. He was not elated, neither was he sad. A stoic feeling of walking the good earth, outside the prison walls, beckoning him, until his death. .. It was then he spied a car waiting for him with a family, with children. A tall man came running to him throwing his arms around him.

“Father,” he said hugging him with tears.

——-

(Based on a true story of an accused here who spent 27 years in prison and was released after they found him innocent. Some law students working on the case unearthed it and helped solve the case. The original story has been changed…)

—-

Shut My Eyes

Posted: January 22, 2010 in Poetry

Surreal is what it is

Pin pricks that open wide

Trying to unshed tears

Beholding scenes

That I don’t want to see

 

Clasping and holding tight

Never ever letting go

Blind is what I want to be

Take away that light

 

Shut my eyes

And let me be

 

The strife, those travails

Of poverty and violence

The falling and rising

Of blackness around me

 

It hurts and it stings

And squeezes my orbs

Steadying my gaze

When I am turning away

 

Shut my eyes

And let me be

 

Those sights I saw before 

Only haze they now bring

A touch of magic

Gone with a blink

 

A vision and euphoria

Is what I seek

Of a perfect world

With an imperfect me

 

Shut my eyes

And let me be

 

Ruins That Saved Me

Posted: January 19, 2010 in Fictional stories

(Fictional story based on the communal riots a  long time ago…)

I was running as fast as I could. The palpitations of my heart resounding within my rib cage. Sweat trickled down my face. My oily hair was plastered on my forehead. My feet hurt and were bruised badly, the sores making it impossible to run. But I had to run if I wanted to save my skin, my life.

 They were coming after me. My pupils were dilated in fear. I ran with the last vestiges of energy I possessed. There it was ahead of me. The ruins from the temple. I blindly ran into the darkness of its inviting sanctorum. I hid behind the decrepit monolith holding my hands tightly around my chest hoping nobody would hear its thumping. I stifled the long drawn breaths, as I was desperate to get air into my lungs.

 Then I heard it- the distant murmur becoming stronger and louder. They were coming. They were gaining on me.

‘She is in there,’ someone screamed.

 ‘Forget her, get the other swine’, another voice exploded in vituperation.

 ‘Don’t let that son of a bitch get away,’ said another.

 ‘You go the other way; I saw five of those bastards run into that house across the street, said another one, his spittle of anger almost reaching me.

 I crouched lower. I had wet myself in fear. Tears streamed down my eyes. I was shivering and shaking uncontrollably.

“Hai Allah, save me,” I cried pitifully and clamped my hands on my mouth as I heard loud footsteps hurrying into the temple. Were there two or three, I couldn’t tell in the darkness? A gruff voice ordered one of them to check the side door. The second man walked to the rear of the temple. The third walked slowly towards the inner sanctum sanctorum.

 I braced myself and held my breath not moving a muscle. I couldn’t move. I was numb from head to toe and wasn’t aware of my own breathing either. Then it happened. My dupatta slipped from my neck and went flying away to the side of the monolith, the whiteness of it standing out besides the dark monolith. I knew I was doomed. It was a matter of minutes before the beast would notice it, I thought. I slipped my fingers around it and slowly yanked it, but that was a mistake I made, for the sudden movement of the white dupatta caught his eye.

 I stopped praying and just waited for the inevitable to happen. A sudden rush of air and the beast stood face to face, in front of me. His nostrils flaring and his bloodshot eyes scanning my face with hatred, petrified me. He had a long knife in his hands and it caught the light of the fading sunlight, glistening with dripping blood of some unfortunate victim.

 His hands stuck out and he grabbed my neck and jammed my head against the wall.

“The bitch is here,” he yelled to the other two. Soon there were hurried footsteps. I knew this was my end and I had neither the strength or will to live. I had just witnessed abbajan and Ammi being slaughtered. I had hid Rasool in a trunk as I ran out hoping he will make it alive and be the surviving member of our clan.

Violent riots had broken out the day before near Simri Masjid over some petty matter. It had escalated and before the army could be deployed a full fledged Hindu-Muslim riot had broken out. Nobody knew what the reason was and nobody waited to know. It was a free for all and innocents from both sides were killed and houses set on fire. I had escaped by the skin of my teeth and as I was running they had spotted me and chased me along with a few others.

The footsteps approached me and the remaining two leered at me, laughing while I cowered in fear. This was not how I had imagined I would die. The last thing I remember was the sound of police sirens outside and I had collapsed in a heap at the base of the monolith. Most of what happened later remains a blur in my memory.

 Twenty five years later I still wake up from sleep having nightmares. Some nights a scream escapes me. Rasool and Saira my daughter-in-law took me to a dozen doctors but no medicine has helped me so far. The ruins saved me. Some strange force helped me survive. Somebody watched over me. I go there often but I don’t go inside. I stand outside, join my hands in salutation and pray. I thank that power that saved me on that fateful day. I lived to tell the story.

 I was asked to identify the mobsters by the police. I declined. I wanted no part of it. I did not want revenge or justice. I just wanted peace and the strength to put it all behind me and move on.

 I had Rasool and Saira and my grand-children to look forward to in life.

 I was lucky to be alive.

—–

The Solo Dancer

Posted: January 19, 2010 in Fictional stories
Tags: ,

(A dancer and her last performance-Fiction)

I looked wistfully at the ballerina shoes hanging on the wall. When was the last time I had it on my feet. The date and time were etched in my mind. As if I would ever forget that momentous day.

That was the performance of my lifetime. I stood on my toes with my slender arms held up in the air and my smile touching my ears; my eyes on fire and my mind swimming in a cauldron of unimaginable feelings of effervescence, blitheness and a sensation of living my dreams. I couldn’t see the crowd but they could see me. They were watching me, waiting for me to make it or break it; a faltering step, a misstep perchance, a fall but I wasn’t going to do that. I was here to dance for the ones who wanted to see me dance in my true form, as I was taught by the genius of a Master I had, who’s every step and breath I inhaled until I morphed into him. He had taught me since I was a child, held my hands, scolded me, goaded me, admonished me and molded me into his dream dancer. I wouldn’t let him down. Not now or for ever. He taught me well. 

His master stroke sprang from me to life, in every step I took. All those years of relentless practice into the wee hours of the morning, those frustrations and panic I had felt at not being able to reach the zenith. All of that would be put to rest today. I was the solo dancer. I would perform until the last breath in me, stayed with me and breathed fire into my body, serenely fashioning my every step, into a rhythmic beat that the music was infusing in my blood. And as the music gently filled my ears I moved in slow circles at first on one foot, on my toes then I lifted my other foot higher up balancing it all in one sweeping motion as I arched my body gently forward and pirouetted again on my toes. I closed my eyes. I was one with the supernatural. The presence of a divine infused in the music. I didn’t see anything or feel anything else. My center was my body and the strings that were plucking me were the music and with exquisite perfection, we danced, all in harmony. I was as pliant as the music wanted me to be and as supple and lithe as the dance wanted me to be. I seemed to have been blessed by a grace that had never come through before but appeared to me as strength that I much needed on that day. 

My solo performance, a performance I wanted to leave behind as a memory etched in my inner mind as well as in the audience watching me. Would they feel it? Could they feel what I was feeling? Would they appreciate my efforts? Would they like what they saw and let it seep into their system and transfer them to a divine level of understanding the arts as I was feeling or were they just bourgeoisie, killing and evening to proudly proclaim that they were at the Bolshoi theater of Performing Arts to watch the Ballet of some nameless artist, whose solo performance would make her or break her. Would they go back to their little cozy homes and write up a review trashing me or would they just ignore me as someone beneath their standards of recognition? 

Would they even know I was born into a family of 10 for whom food was hard to come by let alone dancing? Would they know that my parents worked hard to raise us by sheer toil and cleaning their palatial houses and the money they spent buying a ticket would have actually fed the whole family. I was called ‘twinkle toes’ and my mother insisted that I learn dance come rain or shine and she worked night-shifts to see me through. That was years ago but they aren’t there to see me dance my solo performance anymore.

So I dance tonight for them and for me and I know they are watching me and showering me with their celestial music while I am lost in swaying to the music while I did my rendition of the ‘Swan Lake’. The music had stopped but my body wouldn’t and danced until all the applause died down. I had tears streaming down my eyes. At least it was the best I could come up with. That was the day and I hadn’t stopped dancing since, but now. 

I had hung up my shoes; they look at me from there, as a sole reminder of who I was and what I had become. Maybe I did achieve what I wanted and what they wanted of me. I had a good life and so did my shoes, for which I am thankful.

And now it was time for the curtain call after all, I thought as I hobbled slowly on my crutches towards the window. I threw open the window, inhaled the morning air and soaked the sun, lounging in my armchair. It sure was a good life I thought, as I closed my eyes forever.