You are, you

You have flaws,
Some little things amiss,
Just a wee bit misfit;
In this world of clumsy people,
You are one more klutz.

Walking down the busy street
You are one more bobbing head,
Bustling through the afternoon traffic
Just another pair of legs,
In the sea of crowd
You are but a tiny drop.

In the infinite stretch of years passed
Your life is just a speck,
In the story of the planet
You are but one word, or even less.
Yet,
You are, you.

Even if a little crooked,
With a few parts missing, here and there
Riddled with imperfections,
Tearing at the edges,
Maybe a wee bit misfit.
Inspite of that all,
You are, you.

And that’s all you need to be.
Just You.

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Roasted Sweet Potato

The roads were desolate except for the few flickering lights and shadows of passing vehicles that occassionaly hurried through the empty night. A girl in her early twenties was slowly walking on the pavement, her head hanging low in deep thought. She had on a loose oversized coat and carried a little book in one hand, holding it rather firmly. Her pale fingers looked frozen stiff. Another book was bulging out from her coat pocket. Every now and then she would tug her hat and pull the scarf around her neck closer. It was cold and the icy wind pierced through her flesh, chilling her to the bones.

Near the signal, she stood huddled in one corner, waiting for it to turn green. And as she started walking down the road, an impatient driver honked his horn twice. She fumbled in her steps as she tried to hasten her pace. Looking up at the driver she muttered a curse before climbing onto the pavement at the other side of the road again.

It had snowed earlier in the evening. And the roads were still moist and slippery. The wet pavements glistened eerily in the yellow street light, casting her long shadow on the glassy surface.

The front yard of her appartment was caked in slushy mud and snow. Reluctantly, she lifted the lock of the gate and trudged inside. Her boots squished against the half frozen puddles. From inside, a baritone voice enquired, “Is that you Melanie?” She affirmed her presence from the porch as she bent down to remove her boots gingerly. Shuffling them aside with her toes, Melanie entered into the warmth of her appartment.

The smell of roasted sweet potato welcomed her and she felt herself smile inspite of her sour mood. She quickly took off her coat and left it dangling on the hook behind the door. Setting down her book on the table, she rubbed her numb hands together. With a spring in her steps she went straight towards the kitchen. Stealing from behind her mother’s back she shoved a few hot pieces of sweet potato into her mouth, ignoring her mother’s distress and the nagging that followed. “Melanie, dont do that. Go wash your hands first. How many times have I told you to sit at the table and wait for the food to be brought there instead of coming here and pouncing on them from behind me? You never pay any heed to my words. Are you even listening?”

Melanie just laughed and shrugged it off. She loved her mother’s roasted sweet potatoes. For that matter, she loved any food that her mother made. Whenever she returned home, these pleasant treats never failed to cheer her up. Sometimes, while walking stiff out in the cold, the scent of her mother’s food would pop into her mind and instantly, she would feel happier. And taking longer strides, she would race homewards.

Beneath the balcony, down the city lane..

She stared up blankly. It was broad daylight. And the shadows of leaves danced on the white ceiling, moving feverishly as the wind blew outside.

From down the hall, soft music of piano drifted to her room, in slow waves bouncing against the walls and floating out through the window. She couldnt recognise the tune and it left her momentarily puzzled. Was it Tschaikovsky or Bach?

She looked at the fresh daffodils propped up in the vase on the bedside table and the music slowly retreated to the background in her mind. She recalled a scene from her past. Small children entering in twos and threes, giving her flowers. Beautiful bright flowers which made her smile as she sniffed them, close to her face.

There was a glass of water beside the vase. She felt thirsty but she didnt want to get up yet. She wondered which day it was that she had just recollected. She couldnt remember.

She let her eyes shut again. The noise of shuffling feet announced the presence of her nurse in the room. The nurse brought in a tray carrying her breakfast on it. She was a plump jovial lady who smelt like kitchen and medicines, and whenever she greeted her “Good mornin’ Miss Daisy!” she laughed breezily as if she had just shared a joke with her. Placing the tray on the table, she helped her to sit up in her bed, adjusting the pillow behind her back to make her feel more comfortable.

It was like this every morning here, she would finish her breakfast and then Mrs Mcleary, her nurse would wheel her out to the balcony and leave her there till it was time for lunch again.

Miss Daisy didnt talk very much. Even with Mrs Mcleary, who was forever willing to talk and whose natural disposition was to be cheerful and effervescent, she barely made conversation in terms of ‘Oh’ and ‘hmm’.

She usually pleased herself with watching the people on the street below her balcony. Sometimes, she would doze off in between, during the drowsy afternoons and on waking again, continue with her vigilance. While looking outside, Miss Daisy travelled through space and time, often revisiting her childhood or old bygone days.

She lived within the square of the four white walls. But she longed to go out in the sun, into that street which she could see from her perch. Only, she knew she couldnt. So she watched and watched all the people passing by. And as she watched, she became one of those men and women. She felt herself hurrying past shops and striding down the lane with her footsteps thudding on the pavement with a sense of purpose.

Bokeh

Lights in a bar making elastic rebounds
Shooting over space like a boomerang
Hitting walls and disappearing amidst the crowd
Red blue yellow lights glittering in the air
Shimmering and trembling,
Light and shadow blending into bright darkness
The swaying bodies, the blaring loudspeakers,
The stench of alcohol, sweat and cheap perfumes
And people on the floor,
Drenched in half lit embraces
Dancing, dancing madly in a drunken mess

Watchman

The watchman standing near the gates of the appartment had been there since three hours in the cold dreary winter night. The wind was picking up along the pavements and carrying dry leaves across the road. They made a shuffling noise breaking the otherwise slumbering silence of the neighbourhood.

The burly man was probably in his late fifties, his fading hairline and grey duffle coat made him look old. But he paced in front of the gate, alert and restless. He couldnt afford to stand still at one place, he might fall asleep. And walking made him feel less cold. Every now and then he would blow onto his broad palms and rub them together afraid that they would turn blue and numb.

Whenever any car approached the entrance, he would rush towards the door to examine the driver’s permission and then let him in. There was a small cabin for the watchman. It had some kind of a reguator switch inside, to pick and drop the yellow barrier fence, and each time he allowed a car to pass in, he would click the regulator and let the fence move up slowly so that the gates would open and the car could enter.

That was his job. Throughout the entire night just a couple of cars would drive up to the entrance. And until then he would pace, pausing only at the appearance of a vehicle.

What did the solitary man protecting the whole of that neighbourhood think about while pacing back and forth? Always vigilant, yet did his mind go back to his own childhood from time to time, when he used to play with marbles with the other street kids. Or perhaps he thought of the small bed in the corner of his room, that he longed to sit and rest in.

With the break of dawn, he turned off the street lamps and went inside the cabin again. He picked up his bag and slung it over his shoulder. As he walked out, he greeted the other watchman who would now be taking his place.

Strangers in the Night

Late at night, the station looked so desolate and empty. A handful of people stood scattered near the edges, two strangers sat on a long bench on the platform. They were waiting to catch the last train of the day.

The hooded figure on the right was sleeping and kept nodding off. The person seated on the left was feeling bored and listless. His phone was dead and he was left with nothing to do. With his head propped up on his hands above his knees, he leaned forward to watch the people around him. And he noticed the dozing form beside him.

The stranger’s chin was resting on top of her bag, while her hands were folded over it, clutching it tightly. Her hood looked like it could fall off any minute, and peeping from inside it were her heavily dishevelled brown hair. 

Just then the station clock chimed an hour, ringing loud and clear. The hood fell off and brown hair cascaded down her shoulders loosely. She woke with a start. Wiping the drool, she looked around blankly trying to get her bearings.

He stopped staring at her and looked the other way. He couldnt help but smile as he thought of how funny the whole sight was. Then he suddenly realised that the train had finally crawled into the station. He got up to leave. The girl beat him to it and she made a run for the train. As soon as the door opened she rushed in to grab a window seat. He laughed a little and followed her. She looked up at him curiously.

He smiled back at her as he sat down facing her. The doors closed again. The train started pulling out of the platform and the next station could be heard being announced inside the compartment.

An Old Book

She had found it in the Library Sale. A small book with a light jade coloured hard cover. It was a novel. An illustrated novel about the French aristocrats and those early days of the French Revolution.

However, it was the cover illustration more than the story itself that held her fascinated. There was an intricate sketch of a little girl holding a book in her hands, standing between her mother and father beneath an elaborately designed arch. It made in the classical style, most probably with pen and ink.

When she picked up the book, she felt the pages with her hands and realised it was very old. It looked fragile and as she turned through the pages delicately, she noticed wormings and sometimes, flaky white powder would stain her fingers like chalk dust. The book was shaky in its covers, the spine had come loose. But the damp smell accompanying it, gave her a sense of nostalgia and she bought the book almost on an impulse even though it had some torn pages and had become worn out with age.

She went back home and immediately sat down to treat the book. She handled it with immense care, as though she was treating the wounds of a small child. With a soft brush she first removed the mildew, then with tape she painstakingly stuck the torn pages together and fixed the cracked edges of the book. After diligently examining the book for any other remaining injuries, she kept it in the open to get some fresh air.

She was fond of such old books. She always felt for them. Their forsaken, lonely and abandoned state of misery cried out to her. Everytime she went to the Sales, she would bring home some of these books that had stayed for too long in the dark unvisited corners of the Library, and had grown sad and gloomy over the days. Her love and attention gave these books new hope, and they soon became a part of her collection, standing happily in her shelf, knowing that here was a reader who valued them.

Moonlit Town

It was a quiet dark night. And the mountains stood still against the black sky.

Pregnant with dazzling white light, the moon could be seen peeping furtively from behind them. It was a full moon night.

Slowly, inch by inch the white glowing ball crawled up towards the sky, lighting the shadowed mountains beneath and pouring moonlight all over the town below. Roads washed in moonlight, trees covered with the silver light and little houses with snow white terraces.

Dew-drenched leaves glistened in the soft light. Some birds mistook it for the breaking of dawn and started chirping. Wind shifted the shadows on the lanes as the clouds played with the moon above.

The place seemed to be waiting for something with bated breath. It was enchanting and solemn at the same time. The penetrating silence in the air made the moonlit town hauntingly beautiful.

Water

Water has a strange beauty in itself. Tangible yet elusive. Wave after wave, it will crash on the shore and pull the sand away from below. Beneath your feet, you would feel the sand shifting, the water tugging and swallowing it in.

I remember it clearly.. it was a bright afternoon. And the water was warm on the surface. Just lukewarm.

Inside, in the depths, it was cold. Cold and still. Almost stagnant.
Further down, it was dark and numb. But I could feel the water around me growing heavier.
I had tried pushing myself deeper and deeper. Watched the sunlight reflecting on the water above me, slowly fade away among the ripples.
And then I waited.

I dont know what I was waiting for. But I stayed there, looking at the dark seaweeds through my goggles and hearing the water moving beside me. Invisible waves hitting my body. Like damp wind. And slipping past.

It would have been barely a few minutes. But it had felt a long time. Infinite to measurement.
I could feel my legs kicking softly inside the water, yet there was no sound. It felt like water hitting water. The movements of my body felt fluid.

And then I had let go. As I shot up towards the sun, the sky, the air. I felt the emotions battling inside my mind, trying to take control. Breaking through the water surface, I looked up at the world above me. And gasped for the fresh blowing wind. The sun glared down at me while I smiled back at it.

Water was streaming down my face, there were seaweeds stuck in my hair. My goggles had become foggy. But the warm breeze felt amazing on my cold skin.

And it was then that I knew. What it feels like to be alive.

A Story to Tell

Each brick on that wall has a story –
Every cloud floating on the sky has a story –
Scattered pebbles by the sea shore have a story –
A story to tell
Waiting for you
To unearth, and to hear

Times when you sit alone in the dark
Or when you stand by yourself at dawn,
They watch you as you live by –
Unaware Unperceived Inconspicuous

They want you to see them
To hear them, and
To know them, like they know you.

Sometimes, just a few minutes,
Close your eyes to listen to their murmurs
Open your mind to acknowledge them
And feel them, with the entirety of your soul
Because-
They will be there, even when you are lonely.
Forever waiting for you,
Beside you and all around you.
With a story to tell you.