Raging across Delhi

She rides smooth and fast, bends and gleams;
she smells like mahogany inside and carries you away like a dream.
Had it not been for her, the waging summer would have melted me inside,and I would have shred in sun,
sweat through my palms I would, and cry in the dusty winds.

It’s not a ferrari , but I love in nonetheless. It keeps me away from the fuming monoxide in the air and the dusty clouds of smoke. But the appreciation comes as a passenger than as the one at helm, for one of the agonizing parts about driving in Delhi is its traffic. It’s been five years since I took to steering on the empty roads, shuttling between the driveway and the garage, but the roads of Delhi are still a distant dream. I remember my initial days here, when my heart would  pound at the sight of traffic, drubbing faster as each car would inch closer.I would close my eyes and wish for the cars to move away,  but I am happy I was never the one driving.

Much to the happiness of Aristotle, Delhites are known to share a similar interest in volume analysis as him. Every trucker, biker and car driver that you find of the roads, though defies the laws Physics as and when it pleases him, has astute regard for the principles of Volume. Unsaid rules of the road mandate that every nook and crany available on the road is to be filled, for an inch left is an opportunity forgone. Delhites also firmly believe that the walkways are basically extensions of the roads and should be driven on, and empty roads are an anathema that need to be bloodied out of existence. Here to walk over the Zebra crossing is like finding death in its crudest form.

As the great F1 Champion Lewis Hamilton once said, ” F1 is easy, Delhi roads are not”, Delhi’s traffic is a tryst with patience for most and a thing of passion for a few. Maybe down the line, philosophy and mythology shall find a place for traffic, fashioning it as penance for all that has been done wrong, encouraging those who tread the slow signal lines to absolve for a lifetime of misdeeds. Maybe a congruence of such thoughts shall never meet, but if it does, our Road Ragers and the trigger friendly driver might find God in their struggle through the red light. A little empathy can go a long way, can save a few bullets and certainly save the ones who dread to walk over the crossing.

Dedicated to the Delhi Traffic, which teaches you that there isn’t a shortcut to anything in life, and bottlenecks are a b****h.

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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.

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.

 

Faces

From a peachy face of a new born to a radiating one of a teenager, one thing that readily distinguishes us from the other 8.7 million species inhabiting this planet is our face. The unique features bestowed to every individual are a biological marvel. It’s even more amazing to how certain features are carried on within generations of family, thus personalizing our physical existence in synonymic characteristics. The subtlety of human life has been governed by idealism of these characteristics, sometimes to fashion and sometimes to sheer enticement.

Though faces have served what they essentially are meant for, the human mind has created jargon to see faces from a different facet. Faces have long been regarded as a measure of one’s inherent values and quality, a yardstick for defining beauty and genuineness. Though one can only imagine to how such demarcation prevailed within the society, facial characteristics went onto rule and serve the people in different ways. We have been conditioned over a period of time, to judge one’s inner values by how they look. Usually, the benevolent characteristics bend towards the one which the mind finds pleasing. The one’s with not such sharp features are adjudged as negative and guile, abhorred in general.

Anyways, moving away from the negativity to the personal touch that the faces offer. Faces are like the barcode to life, wherein you are known first by your face and then by how you are. Faces capture our lives and our age. When we were born, we were cuddly odd shaped creatures with tiny minuscule features outlining our faces, but as we grew up, we distinguished ourselves further. Can you imagine the relevance of pictures without faces? I guess not. In fact, should you take pictures of exotic places which don’t feature you, you will realise that such pictures lose their relevance over a period of time and are ultimately deleted off. Imagine how Mark Zuckerberg would have survived had it not been for our faces. What would he have called the Facebook then?  One of the main things that he leverages through his multi-billion dollar company is how we look. What would have happened to the idea of ‘selfies’ had we all been a bunch of identical humanoids, barely distinguished by our girth, height and how long our ear lobes reach out. Life wouldn’t have been so much fun. In the movie, (Spoiler Alert) Oblivion, Tom Cruise finds out that the earth has been divided into sectors, each manned by its own Tom Cruise. The only thing restraining one Cruise from meeting the other one is a plot by alien to disguise each other’s zone as Nuclear Radiation Zone. Imagine his disappointment when he finds the other Tom Cruise, who too has an equally ravishing female accomplice and gizmos to go with. He is cheated of his uniqueness and individuality.

In a world with similar faces, the concept of love and devotion, reverence and unity would have been lost. We would all be the same, probably bearing tags with numbers. All males with the same faces would go about trying to entice females bearing the same face. No amount dressing up and fancy talk would facilitate chances of getting action in the night.  There wouldn’t exist a romantic notion of love at first sight, but maybe chances of love with unique numbers. Girls wouldn’t be curious to know how they would look in ‘that dress’ when they see their friends wearing it, and guys wouldn’t really be obsessing about the best friend’s girlfriend. The good thing would be that the concept of racism would be browbeaten into anonymity, with no major feature to draw comparison to, Obama would have been just another President, and Leonardo Di Caprio would have gagged Matthew McConaughey on the Oscar night to take the Oscar instead, so to feel how it really is to have one. In fact Mona Lisa would have been an ordinary women who struggled to smile while being painted. Life would have been just funny, if not better.

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.

Instant Gratification

“You have completely lost it.” the rapacious December Playboy issue on my desk spoke out loud.
“You need to get things back in control man, its high time you do” the TV remote control added on.

“Yeah. That also means that you need to stay away from that girl, she seems to be an awful distraction to your life. ” came a sound from  nowhere.

As I looked around to check the source, the JBL Pulse flinched. It then stretched out its hand shyly, and pointed to the computer. The Computer was rather rampant in defending itself, and gyrated about to shake itself out of screen saver. The culprit taking a jab at my girlfriend was in sight, FACEBOOK.

“You of all the people talk about distraction” I asked it.
“C’mon, the onus lies on you. I wasn’t the one who dragged you onto me, and had you slay over and over, viciously clambering over the lives of others.” said FB
“First of all, that just sounds wrong. Second, you are due for deactivation now”

Such was my irritation, that in a sudden blip, the screen went off . I didn’t want to listen to it anymore, and then power cord was just a plug away

Another interview, and another rejection. They weren’t mutually exclusive events anymore, but buddies who seemed to be too pally. Poor academics and a pathetic ECA seemed to add-on to the already near abysmal existence.

Except for the JBL, the rest of the folks had all seen me grow up, and now were concerned about the way things were in my life. It was only in the past few years that I had befriended these wretched souls, who were otherwise stationery pieces of the living room set. From an ace student to a grace student,what had gone wrong in the past couple of years, was I not good enough or was I too scared to deal with the increasing pressure. I no more juggled between assignments and commitments, rather left them all than just choose one. I have lost my capability to slug it out for hours and hours, to practice and to improve. 

The TV remote is right, I do need to take things in control. But where exactly am I going wrong?

I don’t think I have to think too hard along these lines. The reason sits right there on my face as I write this article, patience and instant gratification. I lack the patience to give words to my ideas and I want immediate results in the form of quality and good reviews. Patience is a virtue, when exercised reaps benefits, when abhorred leads to loss. In my case, my patience in pursuit of goals, combined with my love for instant gratification seemed to have swayed me on a different line altogether. My efforts are diluted in quality and quantity, my goals are utterly vague since I have no means to believe that I can do better. Since I no more believe in myself, I am here surrounded my bunch of unnecessary distractions which offer no potent solution to any issue in life. It’s like delayed reaction to problems as a means of instant gratification. Defer the problem now, enjoy the moment and who knows, something might magically work out in the future.

TV, computer and mobile are my best friends, while the books bite dust in the corner of the room.I remember reading that the TVs are like lullabies, which force the mental activity to zero down. In contrast, reading a book is more challenging, since it involves observing, contemplating and inferring. Like panda on streak, I have been scratching off work off my list, and making room for more pleasure than working towards a better future. That’s the disease of instant gratification

 

 

 

Dilemma Called Life

There are some glory days and moments of epiphany, when your life transcribes itself into something trivial yet empowering, that you feel enlightened. Sitting on the ledge across the park that day, I had that feeling. So, I asked the random stranger beside me a question just to work along that idea.

“Do you see the pillar, Sir?” I asked

“Yes” He replied in a quivering manner, clearly startled by my question.

Encouraged by his monosyllabic reply, I further added
” Well, then imagine a line between me and the pillar. Now, think of it as the line of life and the pillar being the goal. The goal here is death, and the journey to it is life, as you live it. If you were me, how would you go about such a journey to reach that pillar?”

“I guess I would walk towards the pillar, with resilience and fortitude bearing in mind the ultimate destination of life. ” came his reply.

I felt that he drew the question to be along the lines of his own commitment in life, and thus, hardwork to achieve success became the undertone of his reply.This is a standard answer, I thought . I am sure he didn’t really want to appear too candid with a stranger. Anyways, I perched him more, and drew him onto the undertones of my life.

“Well, Sir, are you telling me that you would walk straight to that goal with your conscious belief telling you of its presence right at the end. Don’t you think, it gives the phrase ‘ staring at death’ a different connotation. How would you enjoy life, if ‘death’ influences your path? How would you live your life, if your goal instills a sense of fear than motivation. ”

” I think overcoming that fear is what makes people successful and that is how the ultimate goal is achieved. ” he replied.

“Well, I like your view, but I don’t see death as a goal, it is just a destination. This destination is an inevitable one, something that is conceivable by the mind, but is accepted without protest as a natural process. Fearing it would be like fearing success. Success comes through arduous incessant efforts in life and is meant to be celebrated. Same is the case with death, the only difference is that we don’t remain to celebrate our life, we just celebrate it in spirit with our loved ones” I spurt out with an enthusiastic smile.

The stranger seemed perturbed, probably by the tone of my voice or just because his idea of a Sunday morning walk didn’t feature him being badgered by collegiate curiosity . Anyways, he chose to stay seated which was a promising thing. So, I continued.

” I meant to take this symbolism to prove another point as well. I see that pillar, so do you, but I wouldn’t just walk towards the pillar. In fact, like a slow cycling race, I would twist and twirl by legs around, run in a zig zag manner, to make it to the pillar. This is not because I mean to delay my achieving that goal , but because there is so much to life than death. My dashing through the park over the lush green grass, ducking down under a Frisbee and plunging my head into the sprinkler’s spray is a symbol of the journey that I mean to undertake in life. I wish to enjoy life as I go on than stay sad about the lost opportunities and relations.”

” So how is this slow cycling race going on for you, not in ideation but in reality?” He asked.

” Honestly, It’s been fine. I have come to believe that if not inherently,one should force himself to an optimistic outlook. Maybe it might not work initially, but over a period of time, when this optimism stays in your head all the time, it starts affecting the way you operate. Yous instinctive thoughts are more positive, and you attract positivity. So, basically it all amounts to more zig-zag sprints in life, without much concern for what lies ahead.”

With that we ended our conversation. After exchanging goodbyes, we got up and walked in different directions. I had been pressing an idea, not to him but to myself for I am a believer and thus, like to reinforce certain ideas by discussing it out more often than would please random strangers at parks.

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 .