Staggering Back to Life

man on a bridge1

There hasn’t been a single day that he hasn’t thought about her. Maybe out of fondness or out of anger, but her name continues to slip out like a cursory mantra. It used to be a scintillating expression once, but it’s just a curse now. Once revered a genius, known for his chivalry and class, he now finds himself abhorred by acquaintances and friends alike.Ever since they heard him shrieking into the night, howling to the wolves the name of his girl he had loved so much, his life has been an abyss of inebriation with sore eyes wondering through the smoke of cigarettes, trying to find her in the haze. That day, he had broken through the thresholds of emotional pain. He chastised himself to tear wounds onto his flesh, hoping the mortal pain would subsume the emotional grief he was laden with. Though deep down,he knew that was near impossible.

The mystique that seemed to surround her and her name, was now a macabre symbol of his solitude . While his sorry state evoked a sense of responsibility in those around, and even validated his six-month hiatus reeling over prints of old film in his one bedroom apartment, his recent sudden outbursts  nipped people the wrong end. It was as if his mind had shut itself and he now found himself like an animal trapped in a hole, in the plinth of darkness, not being able to comprehend anything . His weak mind with lack of subjectivity had been cascaded by thoughts of  her. Result, he had lost his existence to her, and every word he mouthed were in fact her.

Not long ago, he longed to be home with her, lay in her arms and caress her with love. He had hoped for them to get  married someday and to see his children bear her eyes. To how prudent he had been in life, checking boxes at every stage, he thought his dream was close. But then, fate can never be the next checkbox you tick.

Now, every morning is as hazy as the last one, for the only thing that seems different are the rainbow pills sitting on the night study. When adrenaline gives you a high one too many times and heart skips a beat, reverting back to what is normal is near impossible. So had been the case with him, as he struggled to revert back to reality. He had tried to take it in his stride and walk away unscathed, but love is one enemy that scars you for life. So as he walked up to the bridge in the night, asking himself the tough question, was it indeed the end, his brain could only agree more. However, the vibrant beauty of the face in this wallet stared back at him, and asked him to do otherwise. Yet he stood on the edge, withering through the moist breeze. It was indeed time to put an end to this misery, and his fate would not stand in his way, nor would the water slashing 200 feet below. It was time to take back control of his life, but not by taking a step forward, but by a step backward. As he turned around to leave, he knew he would remember this moment in the years to come, he would remember the breeze.

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Not My Intention

#FlashFiction

“Get out of my life; get on with your life; just calm down and get a move on; Work hard; Focus more so to achieve more; Get a new job”

Those words reverberated over and over again like a rhythmic heartbeat. At a point of time it was so, that these insults and advices caught up like a tune, that I hummed like a playful song. It wasn’t me that caught onto my innocent yet weird habit, but the little girl in the elevator, who stuck out her lollypop just to ask, “Which artist’s song is this” It pained me to tell her that the rap of expletives was a wrathful tale about my divorce, my poor work life, my social life; essentially everything about my life. She wasn’t there yet, but I had a feeling that her wrathful song was just about to be written.

Hi I am jack, and this is my story.

I am a man of unusual habits, a rather calm demeanor with a countenance to etch an everlasting impression on you that will last, not in positive way. I get distracted so much that my 3 year old niece sleeps off out of frustration than because of my melodic voice reading out bed time stories. Sometimes I pander about topics and adorn a sagely fixture, to disguise my lack of creativity and subjectivity in life by a false illusion of wisdom. For me, life is a game of options, wherein my decisions are largely contemplated as a result of ‘easy options being the right ones’ mantra. Hence, I am stuck in a dead end job, in a dead end industry with a motivation level matching that of a Wall Street broker tying a noose round his neck, swiveling over a crooked chair. If life really is a race, I am the guy who hands out bananas and water bottles by stretching his hands out to runners, sometimes brushed aside and sometimes plainly ignored. Nobody really values my intention.

Life has funny ways of turning and twisting around. It started with a crying baby, followed by an indignant kid, a reticent teenager and a foolhardy youth whose aim in life revolved around getting laid. After short term aims subsided to make way for something better, my life wasn’t my own and I was expected to take upon the challenge of matrimony in life. It involved me getting hitched to a girl that I may have fancied a little, but there being no time and no room for doubt, parental pressure just caught on. The idea was to live happily ever after, had her legs not fancied being in the air for others around too. Like a bolt out of the blue, it struck me hard and thus began my passive journey into oblivion. I would have liked to start it off with a few days of unshaven living, trapped in the basement of my own house, probably cooking meth if I could, but then life catches on. So, from an ‘Into the Wild’ mindset I moved back into the ‘Back to the Cubicle’ mindset. It wasn’t fun to start off again, as life seemed different. As I would crane my neck about the cubicle like a radar trying to pick up signs of life, I would see robotic minds at work. That really bothered me. I didn’t have any obligations now and just didn’t care for the money so much. At work, I was losing focus and barely knew of what went around. So one day, I just lost it all. In a video conference meeting involving a foreign client, I walked in my tracks, as nonchalant as ever. Though my inputs weren’t really required, just to break the ice, I went on a self-deprecation spree, breaking the façade of my company’s make believe reputation layer by layer. That was my last day in the office. Again, my intent was right, but execution was wrong.

Coming back to the elevator, where I now stood, I can say it was a breather after so many days. I had been there the entire day, surviving off a burger which consumed my food quota of 2 days. I didn’t have any electricity at home anymore, nor any money or an AC, so I spent my time wandering in the air conditioned mall. Drooling about the food court for a slice of bread and festering off like a predator from one place to another, my life had certainly come to a really bad phase. My timeline of thoughts has drastically reduced, and now my major concern isn’t about another promotion or another social obligation to deal with, but how to go about another meal. It’s been six months since my ouster from the company, and I now it’s time to go back to that life or rather ‘lie’. This is my life’s unwanted intention.

 

The Promiscuous Ladder

#FlashFiction

“Hey, you must have had a love life or a couple of flings? Now, don’t act all elusive, and let me on it” Sonali said in a surreptitious and seductive manner, as if to ascertain my candidature to be her next in line.

“I am not really that kind and get by just fine” I voiced out.

I was backing up against the other side of the elevator, and certainly hating the conversation we were having all along from the 20th to the ground floor. Of all the places, I had to be stranded in the elevator with just the right person. In the midst of the awkwardness of the situation, I found a rather astound me, staring right back at me through the mirror in the elevator. In the flurry of the moment, the color had left my face and now the orchid’s aroma was catching up my nose. Flattened and stuck against the wall, I wished I could just wriggle out of the ceiling hatch, maybe trample her over or disapparate the hell out of there, Harry Potter style. I wasn’t sure if it was my hatred for orchids or just the fact that her legs was cramming too close, steering in towards me, I just wanted to push her back.

“Wait!!!”

“What?” she exclaimed, startled by my innocent request.

“I am not sure to what really makes you think that I am up for it, but I really don’t want anything happening here. That’s not how I operate.” I stammered back.

“Don’t make it sound like a task. For all you know, this might just reflect on your performance evaluation.” Sonali sniggered off.

In our moment of candor, she twitched my butt and left me alone. There was a sudden calm and just that moment, we hit ground floor. As the crack between the doors slid open enough to let me through, I was out.

It’s one thing to be under an impressionable Boss and have her like you, but it is altogether another thing to have her under you. I wasn’t going to dole out to the corporate hegemony, playing it out to the fetishes of a dysfunctional person whose desire for power was so much, that it ached her beyond the sphere of professional life, leaving her dissatisfied all the time.

As I drudged towards the exit of the building, beating my internal desire, I quaked within, disputing between what was right and what was wrong. My brain told me that the idea was wrong and my action was right, my genitals told me that her intent was right, but the place was wrong. Clearly, men aren’t biologically wired to function properly in such situation, but I did force myself out of it anyway. Clearly, the ladder of success had let itself down for me to climb, in a manner I hadn’t sought.

Finding Yourself

“The day you find yourself is when you will find me”

With that line said, she left me to my solitude and miserable fate. As I stumbled to the ground, tears filled my eyes and her silhouette faded away into the blurring of the roadside lamps. Every step that she took further away from me was like the scalping of my heart, as I soaked in my sorrow and bled through my heart. For a minute I just sat there, oblivious to the gaze of those around me, ignorant of the sky that seemed dazed with the flight of my happiness, struck by a fate that seemed cursed and vindictive to my very existence, and a life I had become a victim of. I don’t know if it was the physical wreathing pain of a heartbreak, or the fact that her words had pierced through my heart, my chest suffered a searing pain. I wanted to get up and call out to her, tell her to how much I loved her and how life would be without her. But, as I tried to speak out those words, bereft of any power to resonate a sound, my lips stood pressed against each other staring at the glaring reality of the situation.

Staggering and fumbling, I dragged myself away from the grimness of the place to find some fresh air. I sat in my car and drove away from the eerie place of drudgery to seek calm, think clearly and weigh upon the reality that seemed so harsh. With one hand on the steering and other on the wine, with a vision so blurry, I sought something that was rightfully mine. Lucidity was now a novel notion, curbed by the wine, so I pressed on the accelerator to reel in the helplessness that seemed to swathe over. Finally, I reached a cliff that stared into the darkness, with blips of sporadic lights. In the past couple of minutes, from being a romantic, I wished myself a misanthrope who reveled in the fact, that lights of misery were now far away. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be, maybe it was destiny or maybe it was just my fault.

Churning the sand under my feet, I gathered myself to walk towards the edge.So I stood there, on the extremity of danger, staring at death, breathing heavily, arching towards the ultimate way.This is when I remembered it again, maybe this is how I find myself, so as to find her again.

Soldier’s Dairy #1

Flash Fiction

Lt Rahul Mishra, was the name of the officer whose charred body lay in front of me.He  had been killed in the operation earlier in the morning, trying to flush out terrorists from a two-storeyed hedged roof building, which happened to be the regional headquarter of the Lashkar-e-Taiba. Hardly a year into service, the lad had been pressed into action in the valley, as his first tenure with his parent unit, the 2nd Battalion of the Bihar Regiment. His enthusiasm and valor had been the talk of the town, and this had only prompted me to allow him to lead a section on his own today. With 18 terrorists killed in a day, at the loss of 4 of our own, the statistics were deeply in our favor, it was only the heart which seemed to be giving away

It was like yesterday when this boy, the son of an officer of the same unit had walked onto me,a young Captain, at a party. Smartly dressed for a 10 year old, he had a very calm and equally bold demeanor. On being asked about his ambitions in life, he had a monosyllabic answer, “Army”. One could see the flair in his eyes and it wasn’t long since that day that I knew, that he was no ordinary kid, but a brave soldier in the reckoning. It’s been 13 years since that day, and until today, I continued to see that flair in this boy. My seniority and my age didn’t prove to be a hindrance to my being held in awe by the qualities this young officer had.

It is the smoke from the burning of the terrorist hideout which seems to choke my lungs and swell my eyes, or maybe the irreparable loss which grieves me, I may not know. I just stand here and wonder, how will I carry this soldier to his father, who once protected me like his own, and whom I had now failed .

Transition

For the DAILY PROMPT

“Train stations, airport terminals, subway stops: soulless spaces full of distracted, stressed zombies, or magical sets for fleeting, interlocking human stories?”

By the time she reached the railway station, she was panting with sweat tricking down her face, ebbing down her breasts and drenching her completely. She had hardly been able to pack her bag when he had come back knocking. high on desperation and inebriated out of his wits. Today was the day that she had called it quit to those incessant nasty disparaging remarks that she as the lady of the house had chosen not to conform to. Aisha wanted a different life, a better life, a life with respect and a life without her alcoholic better-half.

Lately his responses to her concerns about his life were becoming vague. Was he going to loose his job, would they have to shift again or was he finally getting back on track? Sanjay had an issue with his temper and usually would spring up on everything and anything that would insinuate a repugnant remark on his caliber and character. He had come to think of life as a constant  affair of immeasurable pain, wherein he tread the path of misery alone. His love for Aisha had dwindled over a period of time, as it had become difficult for him to see her concern as an act of utmost love, but an act to rip through his insecurities  by reminding him of his acts of indiscretions and incompetence. Slowly and slowly, the cracks in the relationship had become so wide, that the wife he adored became a paddle to rub against as he swerved through rough waters in life. Sanjay would constantly abuse Aisha, both physically and emotionally. Number of occasions, he would come back really late, usually drunk. He had been going through some tough times at office in the past one year, and his professional life had started taking a toll on his personal life. Over the past two months, things had only gotten worse. Not only did he sound dejected and cheated in life, all his frustration in life would translate into forced sex with Aisha. If she would refuse, he would beat her up and do so regardless. Making love had taken a different trajectory in life and it was becoming harder for Aisha to believe that in what was once a relished as a union of two bodies and one soul, was now a relationship bereft of any emotion and was a plain carnal relationship.From being that jovial woman with an intellect, who painted a larger than life picture across her,Aisha had come to become  a submissive and passive woman, who would startle even at the sound of a bell. A fine delicate face, which once fashioned a broad smile, now had bruises and dark patches redolent of a violent life. She was loosing it and loosing it fast.

Having deliberated on situation and options, Aisha could no more find reason to stay in a relationship wherein her husband no more saw her as a partner, but just a critic. She had become a symbol of his failure. So, one evening she confronted Sanjay for the dismal condition that they had reached in their life and told him about her finally calling it quit and leaving him forever. Of what followed were constant rebukes and utter violence. She was not only beaten but locked inside the house as well. Having lost her parents at a young age, Aisha didn’t have anyone to look upto and with in-laws who were not even willing to acknowledge her as their daughter-in-law, things couldn’t have been worse. So, she began writing and counting days of her miserable existence. She even contemplated killing herself, but in a place where she was already dead in her aspiration in life, physical death hardly mattered.  Deep down inside she wanted to live.

So, one day when Sanjay was out for work, Aisha made up her mind to run away. She packed her bag and took whatever she could in that short time, for he could return any minute. As she had feared, he returned shouting shortly afterwards. Only later when he realised that he had locked her in, did he open the door . This is when Aisha, completely shaken and shivering knew that the time had come. It was now or never, or else life would come catching and cut it short of the happiness it deserved. As Sanjay made way, the house opened to an empty living room with things discarded and thrown around, with an open window and a rope running down. She had run away from the shackles of his abhorrent life to see life in a way she knew how.

Probably too exhilarating an experience, Aisha was making a dash for her life and was finally smiling again. She felt liberated not at the breath of fresh air, or by the fact that there was no more incessant beating, but only because she could decide for herself. She ran towards the station as fast as she could, fleeing away from the place not even to let the old air catch her and cake her lungs with the weakness that had come to adorn lately.

She booked the ticket for the next north-bound train she could find and waited for a few minutes. She placed the satchel on her lap as she sat down on the bench at the deserted station, keeping the suitcase beside her. Nearly exhausted enough to pass out, she glared at the lights around her, which seemed to transcend from just beacons of illumination to thoughts of a future. As true perspective had come to her when she was forced upon a pedestal of pain and agony, she now envisaged life differently .With a discerning gaze, she looked at the passing by people, observing them for what they were and how different they seemed. She knew in her heart, that people were all the same, struggling in their own existence yet laughing away , taking things in their strides.