Posted in Life and After

The Maze

Author’s note: This is my second attempt at a “first-line story” to break what we all know as a writer’s block. The first line of the story was suggested by GP. I hope I did it justice. 🙂


She wandered aimlessly through the maze, wondering what the surprise was when she emerged.

Her father was holding her hand, of course, afraid that she too will run ahead of him like her brother did. She was constantly barraging her father with questions he had no answer to—how did he know where to turn and which door to take, and how would they find their way back when they have found her brother.

When, and not if…her faith was absolute—nothing untoward could befall her seventeen-year-old brother. He was her hero—fearless, invicible and undestructible.

The maze seemed to be going on forever as they went door after door looking for him. She was sure he would have reached the prize by now and must be waiting for them with the trophy in his hand; or may be it would be a really big teddy, like the one she saw the other day when her brother had taken her to the market. The thought perked her up and she quickened her pace, pushing the doors open before her father could stop her.

She felt her brother before she saw him. The smell of his favourite deodorant and the familiar sound of his favourite love song album filled the room that, she suddenly realised, was his bedroom. The sense of dread filled her heart and her gut told her to close the door before… But, like every time before that, she couldn’t stop herself.

Her brother’s body hung from the ceiling fan—tongue lolling, eyes popped out…

She was screaming until her husband shook her out of the ‘nightmare’ and held her against his heart as he had done for countless nights in the past eight years and her parents did for many more years before that. She sobbed until she drifted into an uneasy sleep, hoping against hope for a dreamless night.

And to think that her brother died believing that no one loved him…


Photo by MontyLov on Unsplash

Posted in Love

Mirage

Your arms curl around me

I snuggle content, hoping to die before

waking to find you gone.


A Haiku is a Japanese form of poetry with 5, 7, 5 syllable combination. Usually, all lines are independent with a least one reference to nature/seasons.

Posted in Love

Gum (Lost)

Ab aaye ho? Mujhe dhoondhte jana.

Ek arse se kisi ki yado me gum hu.

___________

English translation:

So, you’ve finally returned? Find me before you leave again.

For ages, I’ve been lost in someone’s memories.

___________

Author’s note: Sher are couplets in Urdu that tell a complete story.

Posted in Love

At Fault

You told me it was in my best interest–

the yelling, the barely restrained anger.

Then,

You told me it was all my fault–

the yelling, the unrestrained anger.

Now,

You tell me I deserve it–

before all hell breaks loose

everyday…

Posted in Life and After, Love

The Long Walk

It is a long walk down the aisle. My father holds my hand reassuringly while my mom sobs in the pew. He stands with the pastor looking perfect as ever but I can’t bring myself to smile.

Is it too late to cancel?

Is it wrong to wish for something other than perfection?

I pass by her and, for a second, her entire face lightens up but, then, the lights go out again. Her red-rimmed eyes mirror mine.

Is it too late to cancel?

Posted in Love, Nature

Heartache

I picked up the flower that had fallen from her hair. It still held her fragrance.

Ever since she moved here, I followed her around, hoping she would look at me and never look away. Often, I would walk behind her, right past her, in front of her…

But she seemed to look right through me.

Then, this guy came and held her from behind. She squealed in terror. Naturally, I attacked him. But instead of supporting her saviour, she hit me with a stick and called me a ‘stupid bird’! Worse still, she kissed him!

I’ll never love again!


Photo by Raimond Klavins on Unsplash

Posted in Love

Awaiting

I look at the clock for the hundredth time. He’s still not home.

3:21 AM: It’s futile to wait up. It is only 3 hour journey. If he was coming home tonight, he would be home long back.

4:07 AM: But his friend had said he met him at VT station…

5:37 AM: He probably didn’t find a train…

6:58 AM: But why hasn’t he picked up the phone?

8:09 AM: Is he alright? Why would he not call me back? I know he is always angry but how can he ignore 26 calls?

9:16 AM: Did he have an accident?

9:45 AM: Should I call police?

10:15 AM: His text reads, “The maid will be late.”

11:13 AM: The maid is home, more cheerful than usual.

11:30 AM: He saunters in more cheerful than usual. I rush to meet him. His hair is wet from the shower.

I quietly move to the inner room. He speaks to the maid in a low tone. They laugh…

Posted in Love

Impasse

I hold the phone

hoping you’ll pick up;

hoping you wouldn’t;

hoping you’ll recognise the number;

hoping you wouldn’t;

wondering how you could forget the number

when I couldn’t…


I hold the phone

hoping you’re awake;

hoping you’re asleep;

wondering how you could,

when I couldn’t…


I hold the phone wondering

if you have company

and who could she be;

fuming, how you could

when I couldn’t…

Raging, I throw the phone

at the wall

breaking it into pieces

like me…

Still wishing,

you had taken that call…

Posted in Love

Unsaid Goodbyes

You stand with your family

looking at me with eyes full of hate–

angry at god-knows-what

since god-knows-when–

glaring at the lawyer, the clerk, the judge,

your mortal enemies without a grudge.

You shift the glare

to burn a hole through my heart.

Startled, I glance back without anger,

only deep loss at the part

where the last thing we ever share

is the papers you hand over

to set us both apart.

Posted in Love

Nowhere

Taking steps one at a time,

Lost in a haze of images–

Too slow to look at,

Too fast to understand,

Backwards in the good times we had,

Fast forward in the non-existent future.

Voices of friends

a blur of background noises–

Too high to like,

Too low to register,

Numb to all pain–

Too numb to be alive,

Too dead to be breathing,

Still existing

In a world without you…


Image by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

Posted in Love

Deep Within

I sit in the class

with all my best friends

laughing at their silly jokes

when I look behind

to find

my parents asking

why I am not packing.

So I walk to my drawer

and pull out all I own–

my bed and study table,

my colours and pencils,

drawing board and birthday cards,

letters and flowers,

and a stapler

to tie it all together

in a shoe box

that I’d carry to my new home.

I turn around one last time.

My friends disappear

one-by-one

in the rapidly darkening hall.

I hunt for a candle to light

so I won’t lose their sight

but there is none to find.

I feel no fear,

only deep inevitable pain,

an emptiness in my gut,

on losing

all that mattered the most.

I wake up choking on my tears

like every time

I dream of the days from the past.

Posted in Love, Twisted Tales

The Apple of Discord: The Mother

The moment I saw him riding on his stead through my village, I fell in love. He was all I ever wanted–tall, handsome and regal, and a just King. I was sure he would love me too. I’m the most beautiful woman the world had ever seen. He had just lost his wife during childbirth. I could see his pain in the lines of his forehead. I wanted to smooth them out so he would be happy again.

That night, I cooked the love potion with all my heart and sent it to him in the food offering the next day. Being the King, he was obliged to accept it, which he did and after the first morsel, he sent me the marriage proposal. I was over the moon, riding the clouds, flying on the wind as I walked down the aisle and up to him where he stood holding a tiny girl in his arms, Snowdrop.

My steps faltered. She’d always be between us, reminding him of his past, never truly letting him move on. But his warm smile fell on me like sunshine. My breath was stuck in my throat. I took our marriage vows in that moment of insanity. Three days later, he woke up changed. The effect of the love potion had vaned. He was remorseful for having forgotten his first wife so soon. He wouldn’t allow me close. He drowned himself in alcohal while I waited in our bedchamber night after night for him to return. I tried creating the potion again, but failed miserably because even I could see, he’d never love me. His heart was too full of one woman to have room for another. A dead woman had bested me.

For years, I played governess to Snowdrop while he spent his days avoiding us. She reminded him of his first love. I reminded him of the failure to remember her. Everywhere I went, I heard whispers that the dead queen couldn’t hold a candle in front of me. That I was the most beautiful woman ever, yet even in her death, she has dwarfed me, forever, in love…

For years, I roamed the unending passages of this castle hiding from the pain of constant rejection, the whispering staff, the lusting courtiers and my own burning desire. He wouldn’t love me and I couldn’t love another. I was always on fire, and it consumed me until I wasn’t.

For years, I tried everything to lure him to me–sympathy, seduction, magic. I kept Snowdrop as far from him as possible, in the servant’s quarters hoping that, without the reminder, he would forget his past. But I received not a single drop of his affection, nor a child, heir to the throne and no future.

Once the king dies, which seems soon enough considering his failing health, the heir to the throne shall be the next male kin, Snowdop’s husband. I have tried to hide her in rags but she grows each day like a carnivorous flower, her alluring beauty trapping the affection of all those around her. Even at seven, the mirror calls her ‘the fairest of all’. Soon enough, princes from kingdoms around the world would line up for her hand. And with that would go my kingdom and my claim to beauty.

I have dealt with being the second-best all my life, but can I live with being a nobody?

Well, there is only one way to go from here…

Snowdrop has to die!

Posted in Life and After

The Wildflower

When I die,

Don’t cover my grave with stones or epitaph.

Let me feel the seasons on my skin.

Don’t tend it everyday. Let life take over.

Let weeds grow–Wildflowers of every colour,

So, you’d think of me in death

as in life–

A splash of wild colour in a bleak world.

When I die,

Don’t bring fresh flowers everyday.

I won’t meet you, anyway.

I’ll be somewhere sitting in a sunny nook,

Thinking of a lost song or an old book.

So, you, too, better move on.

Let life take over.

Posted in Life and After

The Boat Ride

The rocking movement of the boat is making me sick. It’s stuffy with the thirty of us inside the small cabin on the warm day. Our hands are tied to stop us from escaping, as if we could attempt anything like that after going without food for three days. I am not sure why this is happening.

Everything was so normal three days back. I was watching my father chopping wood outside our teepee when my mother had called me in for some chores. Suddenly, the whole place rang with booming sounds. We got down on our knees, terrified. An eerie silence ensued, soon followed by horror-filled wails and sound of urgent footsteps and struggle.

Worried for my father, I ran outside, in spite of my mother’s frantic calls. My father was lying on the earth. It was difficult to recognise him with a gaping hole on his cheek. Grandfather had a wound on his chest the oozed blood. I tried to staunch the blood flow, but his eyes rolled. Of course, I didn’t cry–true warriors don’t cry…may be a little, but father had once said that, since I was six, I was allowed.

People in foreign dress were holding weapons, asking women and children to line-up. I thought they were going to kill us too. But they tied our hands together behind us and made us march for two days. Elusa, my best friend, couldn’t walk as fast as they wanted because her one leg wasn’t quite right. They shot her in the head. Of course, I didn’t cry–true warriors don’t cry. But I was six…

On the second night, they brought us to this dark room that smelled of urine. We weren’t allowed to make a sound. Anybody who spoke was whipped until they bled. It was hot with around a hundred of us in there. I wanted to ask for food, or at least water, but mother shushed me. She said it will bring whiplashes. My feet were full of blisters. My sandals had broken on the way and I dare not ask for another pair.

Now thirty of us are cramped inside this boat…I am thirsty, hungry, tired and a little sick. Worse still, I understand nothing of what ‘they’ say, except that it isn’t anything good. They haven’t told us where they are taking us…or may be they have, we just can’t understand them.

I whisper, “Mother, I’m going to be sick. Should I ask them if they can let me out, so I can throw up?”

“Honey! I don’t think they’d care if you throw up on yourself. We are just chattel for them.”

Scared, I blurt out, “Will they kill us too?”

But Mother is thoughtful, “I don’t think so. They could have killed us at the village, if they wanted. May be, they will sell us…”

“So, where are they taking us?”

“Not sure, but feels like it is terribly far away.”

I finally ask the question that has been killing me for all these days, “If they sell us, will I still be allowed live with you, Mother?”

Her lips tremble but she’s silent, looking at me with eyes full of pain. Of course, I don’t cry–true warriors never cry. But, then, I’m just six…

Author’s note: Before slavery was abolished in the USA, native Americans who were prisoners of war were sold as slaves. Once slavery was abolished in USA, these prisoners were shipped to Mexico, where slavery was still legal, in stuffy, small boats. Children as young as six years and women were sold as chattel to whoever made the highest bid. They, then, lived and died on the whim of their owners, without any rights and treatment fit for animals.

Posted in Love

Pieces

You picked my pieces

from the ruins,

dreaming to put me

together

on the pedestal

of perfection–

A place where I could

never belong.

Angry, you pushed me

off the pedestal

Shattering me into

Countless pieces

of heart.

Every day.