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.

 

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 .

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.