Thursday, July 28, 2011

Care For A Cuppa Coffee?

Abel continued staring at the blank sheet of paper as the Irish Coffee lay beside him, the waft of the air-conditioner cooling the whiskey-laden caffeine drink. He tried connecting the thoughts in his head to coherent words on paper but he couldn’t get his pen moving.

“Sir, would you like anything with your Irish Coffee?” the waitress asked him in a gentle tone. Abel looked up at her. She was wearing the CafĂ© Coffee Day attire, down to the white apron. She had hazel eyes, a rarity in the city where Abel was used to seeing just brown-eyed girls. Her hair was tied up in a neat bun, more to do so with the job she had. He knew she would look more beautiful if she let her hair open.

“I’d like some inspiration,” he said, in a tired voice.

“Excuse me, sir?” the waitress asked.

“Yes, inspiration,” he said. “That’s what I need, uhm, Faye.” Her name was printed in bold black letters on a white plate and pinned to her outfit.

“Er, but sir,” Faye hesitated, “Inspiration isn’t served here.”

“Why not?” Abel screamed. “I don’t think I’m the only person looking for it. I mean, many people who come here must be asking for it, right?”

“Well, no sir,” Faye said, quite enjoying the conversation. She looked up at the counter. Her two colleagues were busy flirting in one corner. The shop was empty, save for two businessmen discussing a future deal. And besides, Abel was handsome. Dressed in jeans and a checkered rolled-up sleeved-shirt, he had a chiselled face. A face that would suit an artist or a sculptor more than a writer, perhaps. “I’m sure many people are looking for inspiration. I think the problem is that they never ask.”

“Oh!” Abel said, looking outside the window for a second and then at Faye in a disapproving tone, “That’s a shame.”

Faye was surprised. She had never met anyone so candid before. She sure had met a unique specimen if anything else.

“Sir, would you like anything else then, if not inspiration?” she asked again. She, after all, had a job to do. “Your Irish Coffee has gone cold too.”

“Okay, you can do two things. Actually, three.”

“And what would that be, sir?” Faye said, quite curious now.

“Firstly, you can stop calling me ‘sir’. My name’s Abel. Spelt A-B-E-L and not the way it is spelt in table. Secondly, I’ll finish this coffee, but can you get me two more of the same? And lastly, if you are free, would you have a coffee with me?”

Faye stood in disbelief, wondering what had happened. She looked around her. Her colleagues were still in the corner while one of the businessmen seemed delighted. She turned back to look at Abel who was now looking at street urchins outside the window begging for money.

“Er, Abel?”

“Yes?” Abel turned around slowly, as if he knew what she would reply.

“I get free in an hour. After that?”

“Sure, no problems. I’ll complete my story till then,” he smiled.

Faye turned around and went back to the counter. Her colleagues stopped hobnobbing together when they saw her approaching. Faye couldn’t stop smiling and hoped that Abel wouldn’t notice. He wouldn’t as he was already immersed into his sheet of paper.

Abel had written just a few words on his paper. But he knew he could elaborate and make a fine story now.

Faye. Abel. Love. Four-letter words.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Help Me, I'm Alive

I tried, recently, writing six-line or seven-line stories. This is one of my attempts. Will post a couple more sometime later.

And for those who are musically inclined, the title of this story is also the title of a song by the band Metric.

I have perfected the art of committing suicide.

Not by hanging: you would want to loosen the noose.

Not by coming in front of a train: you’d step off the track once you hear the horn.

Not by cutting your wrist: your hand shivers just trying that.

The best way is to jump off a cliff blindfolded: you do not know what’s coming your way.

I know this works efficiently; I have, after all, been successful at it.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Let's Write A Story

They began writing in the same book,
they started at opposite ends.
She took the front;
he, the back.

Pens were passé, they said.
Quills were what they felt they should write their story with.
And so it began.

Dipping the grey quill in red ink, they scribbled,

Reams of paper were covered with words,
words that never meant anything to anyone, except them.
They wrote in code, in diagrams, stick figures.
A language only they could understand.

Red ink stains all over their hands, faces and clothes,
as red as the lipstick on her lips,
yet not as red as her nail polish.

They had to run out of ink, and she was first to do so.
She wrote fast, yet lesser.
He was slower, yet dirtier.
Her part of the book was left midway,
as the red ink ran off the white page into blankness.

And as he completed his story.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Death By The Railway Tracks

I feel some of you may not be able to digest what I've written here with regard the content and how I've described most of it. So don't read ahead if you feel you won't be able to complete it.

Don't cry / Don't raise your eye / It's only teenage wasteland

The Who’s Baba O’Riley blasted through my headset as my train gathered speed. I was hanging by the gate of the train and it had just left Dahisar towards Mira Road. I love hanging out the train between Dahisar and Mira Road. The open expanse allows for a lot of breeze, the train moves persistently fast, and nothing beats it when there’s good rock music playing. Just that today, the train screeched to a sudden halt as soon as it left Dahisar.

Usually when such a thing happens it is mostly because someone pulls the chain; mostly as a trick, rarely because of an urgent need. The train, most often, begins moving after halting for around fifteen seconds, but this time it remained stationery for over a couple of minutes. And then the Guard’s voice arrived over the train intercom. He announced that the train would stay in its current position for some time as it had run over a person and he requested the people aboard the train to not get down and walk on the tracks.

A few attendants and officials arrived with a stretcher after ten minutes from Dahisar station, which was roughly a five minute walk from where the train now was. The main official approached with torchlight as the train and its surroundings were engulfed by the darkness. He beamed the torch underneath the train to locate the ‘dead body’. And I don’t exactly remember what my reaction was when he came and stood right next to our coach; right next to the gate I was hanging by, pointing out that the ‘body’ was lying exactly under where I was standing.

He summoned his attendants to come quicker. They pulled out the ‘body’. Blood was oozing from the back of his head. One of the officials said that he was alive, and in all probability he would live. A miracle? Maybe. He was, after all, living. And in one piece. After coming in front of an 80 km/h train.

The train started moving. I put my headsets back on. The drumbeats of Blondie’s Maria filled my ears. Was I just indifferent or what?

It wasn’t the first time that I saw a dead body (though technically this one wasn’t, yet); one that had been through an accident. Train accidents and I are old friends; we’re not close, but we meet each other often. My earliest recollection of a train accident was when I was below the age of ten, perhaps. I remember seeing one at Dadar station. I remember the body being carried away to some distance while the person’s shoes and bag were still at the spot where she (Yes, I think I distinctly remember that person being a woman) was hit. I also remember another one when I was a kid, but this time around I was inside the train and looking out the window at one more life taken.

When I entered college, my affair with train accidents increased. I started jumping into running trains while it entered platforms so that I could catch a window seat. I have dragged myself along the platform at least five times till date. I have had my sandals dropped underneath the train too. And yet, I still do the same everyday.

I remember that I was at Borivali station once and I was just getting down the staircase when a train was leaving the platform. A man hurried to get in. He almost got a foothold and the other passengers tried to hold on to him but he went under. Right in front of my eyes. It did not help that I was listening to Rihanna’s Russian Roulette while this happened. I avoid that song whenever I board a train now.

I’ve been witness to not just train accidents though. Last year, at a usually not-so-busy signal at the junction where a road connects Azad Maidan to Cross Maidan while passing through Fashion Street, a taxi ran over a man and did not wait to help him. Fortunately, some shopkeepers and others from the public came forward to help him but it didn’t seem like he would live. I ignored it, spoke about it to my friend who saw it too; she later admitted that she wanted to slap me and tell me to shut up. That accident had shaken her up. I, evidently, was not harrowed (though I did write a poem about the incident).

So is it that I’ve seen death by accidents so many times that I’ve become numb by it? Is it that I don’t care anymore? Or perhaps as they say, sooner or later, everyone has to die. I’ve had a friend die in a train accident. I’ve had my uncle die in a train accident (much before my birth though) and yet nothing changes. Tomorrow morning I will still jump into the train. To be as comfortable inside, and not realising that I’m putting into danger the ‘comfort’ of my life. Am I not affected anymore? I don’t know. Maybe I am.

And yet,

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou
 art not soe,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill mee.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

                                                 - John Donne

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Twinkle Twinkle

“When I have my own house, I’ll have stars on the ceiling above my bed.”

The clouds covered the diamonds of the night but that didn’t stop Nysa from voicing her wish aloud. Lying on the sand at night on an empty sea shore had pleasures of its own.

“You’ll miss out on these, won’t you?”

“Well, yeah,” she said hesitatingly. “So what? I’ll buy a house next to the shore. I can then have the best of both worlds.”

Nysa was like that. She could alter her dreams to suit her anytime.

“Arhaan, why don’t you get the solar system on your ceiling too?”

“Well, I’d rather have my blank wall staring back at me,” I said hurriedly. “Thank you Nysa.”

“Blank?” she almost shrieked, piercing into the darkness of the night. “You’re a bore. Tell you what. I’ll design your ceiling. Yes, just your ceiling. I’ll have some graffiti engraved on your whitewashed wall.”

“Oh! Hell, I’m never calling you home.”

“Please yourself then, moron,” she said derisively and got up and started walking away.

“Hey! Nysa! Where are you going?” I screamed. This shouting was not helping much with the mood of the place.

“Nowhere,” she said. “No. Somewhere. Somewhere I can see the stars clearer.”

I got up too. I couldn’t leave her alone at this hour of the night. No one was around. But the feeling that you’re alone is always scary. Nysa did put up a nice front though.

“So, why are you running behind me now?” Nysa asked as I reached up to her.

I stayed behind her, not walking with her.

“I’m checking out your footprints. The way your feet caress the sand, slowly embossing themselves onto this wet…”

“Enough poetry-shoetry now,” she interrupted me. “Just admit that you couldn’t lie there alone.”

“I could have,” I replied, not realising that I actually never felt like I was lying. I felt I was telling her the truth. “But your footprints. That’s what I want on my ceiling.”

“Arhaan, what’s wrong with you? Okay no?”

“Perfectly Nysa,” I smiled. “Footprints. That’s what I want on my ceiling, leading to my bedside window.”

A star fell across the azure sky.