In a room with my murderer

I look into the eyes of my killer,

And I know I face certain death,

There’s no mercy in those eyes, and I bet:

When the time comes there will be no hesitation either;

 

Pitiless, vast black pits of hell – did I see a flash of red?

There’s nothing else in this world I quite so dread.

She tilts her head, peers at me —

A lazy smile on her face: There’s nowhere to hide.

Anywhere you go I come along for the ride.

 

I flinch, and the reflection steps back too.

I am glad of the cold mirror that separates me —

From you.

 

Wish someone had warned me,

The monsters under my bed:

Are the ones that crept out from my head.

 

 

Beauty and the Beast

“Here” she thrust the folded piece of paper hastily torn from a notebook into my hands. Her perfectly manicured nails, though the school didn’t allow us to wear polish, scratched my wrist and drew blood.

“Give it to him”. I watched her run away. Her lithe figure and grace made even the grey tunic of the school uniform look elegant. I remembered holding the skirt straight while she cut the extra inches of cloth away till it was high enough to ride dangerously above her thigh when she sat. Silver earrings dangled from her ears, hair tied in a messy ponytail and just a hint of eyeliner that was too subtle to break the ‘no make-up’ rule of our campus.

Plump, graceless and clumsy I was the antithesis of my best friend. Our friendship was the biggest mystery of our school. All I knew was that Parul had been my friend ever since I could remember. We had entered kindergarten holding hands and grown up together, sharing everything from toys to homework.

We lived next door, played together every evening, swore a blood oath to be best friends forever at eight, lost our first tooth on the same day, bled together for the first time and even received the same marks in all exams. Yet puberty decided to bestow on her a gift while all I got were pimples.

Suddenly she was the most popular girl in class and I was the fat nerd. ‘Beauty and the Beast’ our classmates called us. Parul would drag me along to birthday parties I hadn’t been invited to; shopping at stores where nothing ever fitted me and to lunches with the other girls….till I complained and refused to go along. Yet every night she comes over to my house, and over homework tell me stories of her life, as far from mine as possible.

Boys fell all over her but she would politely kept her distance from all of them…till Abhimanyu arrived. His family shifted from Dehradun and he was wonderful! Tall, smart and a wonderful sense of humour. Sparks flew from the moment Parul and Abhimanyu met. Abhimanyu wrote a poem for her and put it in a Nicholas Sparks novel that he lent to Parul.

I never expected to see my friend act like a lovestruck heroine from the movies, but she did. She would suddenly drift off into day dreams that would make her smile and blush, and behind her notebook she doodled hearts with ‘A+P ‘ written in them.

She penned down a reply to his poem but her courage wore off when it actually came to giving it to him.

He was sitting with a gang of friends in the garden. I walked over. The other boys sniggered at my audacity to approach them, but Abhimanyu smiled and shifted to make room for me to sit. He was always kind to me, and sometimes when Parul had other plans we would walk to the bus stop together. When we were alone like this he would tell me stories about his childhood in Dehradun, and cracked jokes that had me doubling over with laughter. I loved those afternoons.

“I have a message for you from Parul”.

He looked at me expectantly. The note fluttered in my pocket.

The words came out in a rush, “She doesn’t like what you wrote. She asked me to ask you to stay away from her”.

I ran as far from his disappointed face as I could. And once I was out of sight, I took out the folded note, tore it into as many pieces as I could and threw it in the nearest dustbin.

If this was a divine test of my loyalty I failed.

Cupid in Hell smirked.

 

Just In Jest

“Come on! What are you afraid of, chicken?”

“I told you, I am not in the mood. Feeling really tired…it’s been a long day”.

“It’s not a competition. Just a playful thing, no marks, no winners. C’mon, where’s your sportsmanspirit?”

“Okay then. Fine”.

Dust and gravel are shaken out of their stupor; breaths in rhythm to the limbs; and an exalted cry of truimph. “Hahaha! I win. Suck it loser”.

You said it was just in jest. No winners, and definitely no taunting!”

“Oh please, there are always winners. Why else would we compete? L-oser!”

 

 

A Song of Parting

We avoid each other’s eyes.

The fly on the glass enchants me.

He is riveted by my earrings;

Silver little things that sparkle in sunlight,

And dance with the wind.

 

Rip the bandage,

Painful and quick!

“I can’t do this!”

I repeat the oft told lie,

“It’s not you, it’s I”.

 

He doesn’t look at me,

But beckons the waiter:

With an unsteady finger,

“Bill please –

We are done here”.

 

I don’t often write poetry, and this is a shaky attempt after a long time. I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback. Thank you. 

Short Story – Nerve

proposal

The clock struck 6, and like every day in the past two weeks, the well-dressed young man with ruffled hair, walked into the restaurant and headed straight to the bar.

“One whiskey”

The bartender was already reaching for the bottle.

The young man gulped down the contents. He shuddered and ran his hand through his hair. “One more”.

The bartender had the glass ready. He slid it across, and in jest asked, “So should I keep a bottle of champagne ready?”

The young man didn’t speak, but his hand sneaked into his trousers’ left pocket and caressed the velvet box inside.

“Show it to me again” the waitress walked over.

Wordlessly the youth took the box out and flipped open the top. The radiant gem sparkled with vivacity for its enraptured audience.

“Wow!” the waitress sucked in her breath wistfully. “She’s one lucky girl!”

The bartender laughed, “Well she would be if he ever worked up the nerve to ask her”.

“We met here…”the youth spoke convulsively and in small bursts. “A common friend’s birthday…I couldn’t take my eyes off her…three years we have been going out…I thought maybe…”His voice trailed off with the despair of his nervousness.

The bartender felt sorry for his young patron, and with a paternal air said, “C’mon, just ask her today. You love each other and it will all work out”.

“Nerves. I have always suffered from it” the youth spoke again. “I would freeze whenever they sent me to the front of the class…well it’s too late now…she was there yesterday…at the metro station…if only I had asked sooner….”

*

In memory of the victims of Brussels and Turkey attacks.

 

 

Thanks for the Memories

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In three days, I will be done with my end semester exams and will become a college graduate. And there are only two things that I shall be taking along with me from there:

  1. A document pronouncing me as a graduate
  2. Memories

The first one undoubtedly is important because it will help me in whichever career path I chose in the near future, but the latter is paramount.

It is this wealth of memories that I will carry with me for the rest of my life, and on dark, gloomy days of montony and amidst strangers in a foreign land, the wisps of days gone by will make me smile.

It is a difficult realization: my friends and I, after spending a few years together and aiding each other in the painful process of growing up, shall now part ways. Of course we shall promise to keep in touch, but promises slowly fade away.

Some of us will become famous, and we one fine day, we shall see them on the TV and with a start cry out, “Oh! I knew her!”, and stare at the screen, mentally comparing the gawky teenager we knew to the well-groomed celebrity on screen.

News of some will filter to us through other acquaintainces, and we shall delight or rue their truimphs and defeats vicariously. (In our hearts, we shall long for those days when we were the ones they confided all their news to first).

Some we shall meet, suddenly, in markets and at the bus stop.

“How have you been?”

“Good. Can’t complain, and you?”

“Just doing fine”.

At this point his bus arrives, and we both move on with our lives, and maybe later that night reminisce about the’good old days’.

Maybe right now I am being cynical but change is scary. And yet part we must for whatever next adventure life takes to.

There’s only one thing that can be said…Thanks for the memories!

 

Roses Are Red,Thorns Are Black.

My best friend, and one of the most talented writers I personally know, recently started blogging. This is her latest poem. Do give it a read! 

It isn’t your lips with the fragrance from roses, it’s your body bleeding from the thorns. It is when you don’t kill each other, and neither do you let each other live. It is not a colorful picture with chocolates in candle lights. It is the passionate one behind thick fumes of smoke.

Source: Roses Are Red,Thorns Are Black.

Hoarder Alert!

When it comes to quotes, I am something of a hoarder.

I collect quotes: from books, magazines, social media and even (on occasion) tea coasters. So here are four of my favourite ones, collected over years:

Already how am I so far

Out of that minute? Must I go

Still like the thistle ball, no bar,

Onward whenever light winds blow.

Fixed by no friendly star.

Just when I seemed about to learn!

Where is the thread now? Off again!

The old trick! Only I discern –

Infinite passion and the pain

Of finite hearts that yearn.

Robert Browning

“In the factory we make cosmetics, in the store we sell hope” – Charles Revson

You just do it. You force yourself to get up. You force yourself to put one foot before the other, and God damn it, you refuse to let it get to you. You fight. You cry. You curse. Then you go about the business of living. That’s how I have done it. There’s no other way.

Elizabeth Taylor

Remember me when I am gone away, 

Gone far away into the silent land;

When you can no more hold me by the hand,

Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.

Christina Georgina Rossetti

 

That Awkward Moment

The train rhythmically drones on it’s way. All the passengers are staring at you. One teenager nudges her friend, points and both of them giggle.
You fidget in your seat and wonder what’s the problem. Is it your clothes? Have you worn your shirt inside-out again?
You pull at your clothes, and the lady next to you turns her face to fix you with a hostile glare.
You sink back into your seat sheepishly. People are still staring. Small smiles are playing around some of their lips, like they’re at a circus and you are the freak.
You wish you could, like a chameleon, merge with the ugly blue colour of the train seats and gain some modicum of invisibility. You wonder again if it’s your posture – are you taking up too much space? You shuffle your feet and straighten your back.
To no avail, people are still looking.

And then you realize………….your earphone jack isn’t locked in properly. Your mp3 player is blasting music not only to your ears. The entire train compartment can hear Shakira crooning.

This is My Life?

Daily PromptIf you could read a book containing all that has happened and will ever happen in your life, would you? If you choose to read it, you must read it cover to cover. 

“Excuse me, how much is this porcelain doll for?” I asked the ancient-looking shopkeeper with wizened eyes and a silver beard Santa Claus would be jealous of. Christmas being just around the corner I was stocking up presents for friends and family, and a rather quaint pink porcelain fairy doll in the window of an antique shop caught my fancy. I thought I would try to get it for my mother.

The shopkeeper, without even moving from his post behind the counter, pointed at the dusty label on the doll which proclaimed it’s price to be 50 rupees. A bargain by any estimate but being an astute shopper I thought I would try for more. The first rule of bargaining: don’t seem too interested in the object you are buying. So I set down the doll with a grim “hmm” to indicate my dissatisfaction with the price and looked around aimlessly. The shop was crammed with odds and ends: tarnished silver spoons, a dozen cracked mirrors (how many years of bad luck does that accrue to?) , dream catchers that have caught nothing but dust bunnies, porcelain dolls with frozen smiles and a few leather-bound books. Being the bookworm I am, I naturally graviated towards those, and froze in shock. The black leather bound book with golden edges, fifth from the right in the second row, very clearly proclaimed in its title my name in bold, engraved, and golden alphabets. A dozen possibilities ran through my mind, each more intriguing than the last: I had a namesake, who coincidentally, was also an author; I had travelled back from the future in a T.A.R.D.I.S. and this is a book I myself wrote; this was the book my parents read before they had me and named me after it. 

Intrigued and surprised I picked it up and was about to open it when a wrinkled old hand with surprising strength slammed it shut. I flinched back in shock. I was pretty sure I had left the old propreitor sitting behind the counter, at the other end of the store, only seconds ago. How on Earth did he creep up on me so fast?

“This is your book” he said. “This is your life”.

“What?” I said. 

“This book chronicles all that has happened to you in the past and that will happen to you in the future. It details your entire life. You can read it if you want, but you must read it cover to cover”.

A thousand things crossed my mind but what crossed my lips was, “It’s so short!”

The old man clicked his tongue, “Tsk, tsk! Such a typical comment of someone your age” (Why is it that grown-ups can’t say anything without making at least one comment about your age?) “You yourself are a writer of flash fiction. You should know better than to judge a story by its length”.

The idea that my life was similar to a flash fiction story written by me didn’t really reassure me. But I had more pressing concerns, like: “You read it?”

The shopkeeper shrugged, “It gets lonely around here”.

“Ohh…” I said because what else was there to be said.

“Can you give me some tips then? Anything I should look out for, a  lottery ticket number, the question paper of the final exams?” 

He fixed me with a stern glance, “That is against the rules. You must read for yourself, if you choose to…” He let his voice trail off meaningfully.

Oh man, did I want to read that book! So many questions that I wanted an answer for – did the guy I like like me back, would I get into the institute I was aiming for, would there be a Sherlock Season 4, so on and so forth. But there was also the realization that if I did I would never be able to unread it. And that meant No Surprises – Good or Bad, ever again in life, and how boring would such a life be!

So with a heavy heart I kept the book down and told the shopkeeper, “Thanks but no thanks”. He gave me a mysteriously knowing smile, which prompted me to add, “Wait…you already knew I wouldn’t read it! You read it!” 

“Maybe, maybe not” he said. “Now where were we on the porcelain doll? 45 is my final offer, and don’t pretend because I know you want it”.

There was little argument I could offer to that so I meekly paid the price, and left.

Just before the door closed, he called out, “By the way, I would look out for Komodo dragons if I were you”.

“Wait…what?” I tried to push the door open but it had locked itself behind me.

I don’t know if the man was bluffing or not but I think I will cancel my trip to Komodo in Indonesia, just in case….