The Accident

Liverpool

Our bus halts. There isn’t any bus stop in immediate vicinity. I don’t notice it at first, still enjoying the lingering taste of Dorayakis on my tongue. We had dropped these Japanese pancakes on the floor of the bus while trying to open the packet. That hadn’t stopped us from eating them though. We had picked them immediately and stuffed them into our mouths. There’s always that three seconds rule.

“Sorry, you’ll have to get off here. The road is closed ahead,” the driver tells us. Abruptly brought back into reality, we stare at him, puzzled.

“Don’t worry. Your stop is just 2 minutes walk away.”

We thank him and get off the bus. A few seconds pass by deciding which way we should head to. Which nothingness are we willing to choose tonight? The right one or the left? Our London plans are always nothing. We end up going to the same places, every time – Soho, Piccadilly, Camden, Shoreditch. London is too big to be explored on spontaneous weekend plans. We walk anyway, to the left or maybe to the right, hoping to find an interesting place and probably meet interesting people. My hopes are dim. The night has progressed too deep and it’s Sunday – nothing’s going to be open. But I am enjoying shivering in the cold and unsuccessfully trying to find the top of the buildings around me. It’s the first time I have been in Liverpool. With fancy buildings and offices splashed all over the man-made scenery I am walking through, I am too amazed to know where to look and fix my gaze at.

“So, that’s why the road was closed…” Lee nudges me.

I look at the ambulance as well. There’s been an accident.

Accidents are not unknown to me. I have seen plenty on Indian roads – the overturned trucks, cars with shattered windshields and their engines bleeding green, two wheelers lying in the middle of road – the victims engaged in a verbal fight, curious people gathering around them and traffic growing rapidly behind.

Lee and I continue walking past the accident scene.

“I..I..” a man is sobbing in front of us, trying to speak but failing horribly.

“There’s a woman on the road..” I tell Lee as cold shiver traverses through my backbone. She nods and we both look at her, immediately turn away afraid of what we might end up seeing. I can’t help it though. I turn to look again. There are three paramedics around her. She’s lying motionless, head covered in blood.

“Paramedics are already there, she should be alright,” I think.

I recall the face of the of the man we had just walked past. So, it was his car…

“Do you think…” I try asking something, immediately forgetting, feeling colder, falling numb. I want to get out of here. We both walk as briskly as we can.

“That woman was-”

“Dead” Lee completes the sentence for me.

I look at her, blink for a couple of seconds, wondering if there was a question mark or a full stop at the end of what she had just said.

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The Movie Premier

We were walking on the streets of London again, still thinking about Mochi. Our tongues craved for one more but we were determined not to succumb to our perverse insatiable greed for this Japanese dessert.

“Is today 12th?” Lee asked.

“Yes,” I said checking my phone.

“I am not sure, I need to check, but if I think what’s tonight is really happening tonight, it might just turn out to be the best night of our lives.”

“Oh, nice!” I clasped my hands in excitement pretending I understood what she said.

“Yes! I know where we need to go!”

I followed Lee blindly. Wherever she would take me, I would happily go. No, I wasn’t in love, we just didn’t have any other plan.

We talked, walking on the pavements, crossing the roads, watching people around us.

“Look at that lady,” I mumbled to Lee. “Yes, I saw,” she nodded.

“I want to be like her when I am old.”

“Me too,” I thought. Who wouldn’t? How could one care to be so well dressed even at eighty something? I didn’t intend to be offensive, if that thought is offensive in anyway. I was just shocked because I am twenty four and I have given up on life already. I don’t even bother to comb my hair sometimes. I wear the same canvas every day. I wear the same jumper. I wear the same jacket. I don’t bother wearing contact lens, I prefer saving two minutes over doing nothing and looking weird in specs instead. This lady, on the other hand, was a model. How does she have so much life? Bottle green stylish hat, velvet dress, shiny pearls, red but not too loud lipstick, white gloves – Posh and graceful – this is what I would like to be. How do I end up being messy and loud instead?

Later, we started coming across even more fashionably dressed people. Despite expensive looking silk gowns and gloves, crisp and handsome tuxedos, no one could be compared to the old lady we had just seen though. The shiny sparkly queue of glamorous rich people was boisterous and long. Everyone seemed happy. Why wouldn’t they be? They were going to watch Star Wars with people who had starred in that movie themselves.

Lee was brimming with excitement. We walked till the very end of the queue, at the entrance of the Royal Theater. Actors were stepping out of the Limousine, posing in front of the camera, stopping by to say a word or few to the anchor, waving to the crowd, signing some autographs, smiling at the camera again and then going inside the theater.

We could have tried asking for an autograph or a selfie too, but we were on the sadder side of the barricade. The side that you don’t have to pay truck load of money for. I stared at the huge LED screen while Lee tried clicking some photos by going closer to the barricade hoping for better angles and views.

Star War premier, who would have thought?

A part of me was excited. I wanted to post photos on facebook, send snaps to my friends in India. “STAR WAR PREMIER! WOW!” #London #IloveLondon #RoyalTheater #soexcited #unbelievable #likereallyunbelievable #Pleasetellmeyouarejealous

But I didn’t.

Wish I had watched even a single Star War movie. Wish I had given a fuck.

How’s life in England?

“So, how’s life in England?” My phone notifies me of yet another text bearing the same question I’ve heard daily since the past two months. And I am left wondering, yet again, how the hell do I answer this?

How’s life in England? Each day, I wake up with a slight hangover because somehow I have developed a habit of mistaking beer for water. The morning begins with me brewing a tasteless tea and slicing an apple, often along with my fingers. Then I connect my phone to the speakers as I eat my so-called breakfast and start preparing my lunch. Two months back, cooking was my least favorite task and now it is my top choice for procrastination. I chop vegetables while dancing to some 2000s rock. I still don’t know how I manage to pull that off. The day progresses as I finish cooking my lunch which is almost never completely consumed by me. I leave some curry for my flatmates. And by the evening, there’s no trace of it left. My utensils are cleaned and neatly placed back in my shelf. Cooking a little extra so that you don’t have to clean? I figure it’s a pretty good strategy to go by. But this is not what you want to know, do you?

How’s life in England? Well, mostly it’s the blue sky and chartreuse grass spread across remarkably vast stretches of land. Each day I discover a new breed of dog. Each day I come across those cars that I never thought I would see in three dimensions with my own eyes. Each day I meet different kinds of people. And almost each day, I write about them in a small cafe with a small blackboard placed at its gate happily flaunting the beautiful handwriting and the supposedly reasonable rates of different kinds of coffees. Hours pass by as I type random stuff on random things and before it gets too cold (and it’s not even Winter yet!) I return to my kitchen to enjoy a multi-cuisine dinner cooked by flatmates. My kitchen is not a particularly attractive one. The dining table is almost never cleaned. Sometimes, the refrigerators stink. Noone is ever able to find his/her plates or spoons or coffee cup on time. When one of us burns food accidentally, we don’t pray for our own safety. Instead we pray for the inefficiency of the smoke detector. I look at the small exhaust, the electric heat stove, the rarely used oven, the toaster that partially works and the silver platform that’s turning grey – This kitchen is as ordinary as it can be. I look at the people I am dining with. This kitchen is my favorite place. But this is not what you want to know either, is it?

How’s life in England? Whenever the sun shines outside my tiny window my heart swells with happiness and hope. And then I think of the pending work, my spinning head and my heart immediately sinks. My table is splashed with my clumsiness. I am running out of clean clothes to wear. The bedsheet of my bed is beginning to stink. The mattress has given me a permanent back ache but I love my tiny little corner. My cupboard is bare but surprisingly, I don’t hate my limited collection of clothes. I am slipping below the poverty line slowly but steadily. However, somehow I don’t hate my depleting financial state. I am not sure why I am here sometimes. To write life? To live life? Sometimes my room haunts me too – to make it more eerie, there are unexplained bruise marks on my limbs. My financial burden haunts me. My insecurity and uncertain future haunts me. My dreams haunt me. But I am here anyway, I guess, happily haunted.

Days in England – It was clear sky a second ago and it’s suddenly raining. And despite the unpredictable weather, I can safely predict that it would never rain when I do have an umbrella with me. The cloudy night sky is bit of a shame but at times when it is clear I can almost get lost among the diamonds shining above, along with the silhouettes of the trees caressing the edges of the river. And then there’s the moon. The same moon I wrote a letter to saying that I would do what I love to do and in some surreal way I am still keeping that promise. I like to picture myself looking at this satellite somewhere someday in the future and instead of the moon, I like to believe that I would be looking at my own present self. We would briefly acknowledge each other, smile and whisper, “It is going to be alright.” The moon is my imaginary time travelling machine. When I look at it now, I suddenly see myself searching for it through the clusters of buildings back in Vadodara or strolling under the moonlight through the peaceful beaches of Goa during my final undergraduate year or picturing nose or eyes on it during my kindergarten days.

How’s my life? Each day I am going older. Each day I am learning something new. Though I can’t specifically point out the change but I can still feel a certain kind of novelty running through my blood. Life in England – It’s the walks among the pretty homes in red bricks. It’s playing with the amber leaves lining the footpaths. It’s being marvelled by the sparrows with orange necks. It’s walking through the trails lining the river. It’s catching a brief experience of forest and making an escape from urban life during those walks. Living here is modern and ancient at the same time. I am simultaneously falling in love in Swedish beer and cutting masala chai found in the streets of India. I am simultaneously falling in love with butter croissant and Latte and also with freshly cooked potato paratha made by my mother back home. I am amazed by the quiet and peaceful locality but at the same time I sometimes miss the crowd and the cacophony as well.

It’s writing, so much writing, reading, scribbling, dancing, drinking and being terrified of the fact that these days are disappearing much faster than they should and also the fact that I would miss this more terribly than I can ever imagine. My life in England? Well, honestly, life seems to be chasing me instead of I chasing it for a change. At first it was overwhelmingly surreal. Now, it’s overwhelmingly busy. Like the gas compressed in a cylinder, it seems like a whole lifetime has been squeezed into a couple of months. Weeks are long but yet they fly by. And sometimes all I do is breathe and watch yet another sun explode into thousands of shades of Crimson and Magenta and all those hues that I can’t even name.

“So, how’s life in England?” My phone is still beeping with that whatsapp message.
“Good.” I text back.

How NOT to get off a crowded Indian Train

I am stuck in the narrow passageway of a general bogie reserved for ladies and my whole life is flashing in front of my eyes. Well, this would have been completely true, had it not been for the woman standing in front of me, whose acute politeness has me, distracted. Her voice has staggering intensity; my ears are barely managing to protect my eardrums from crumbling to the symphony of her cuss words. I am stuck. She is stuck. Behind me is a long queue (as long as the tiny bogie permits) and behind the meek woman, I am busy listening to, are the wild bison cramming their way into the coach that’s already filled till the brim. “Let us out first!” Another woman behind me screams. And I, both leading and blocking the queue of angry goddesses who want to get off the god damned train, am stuck with my bag engaged in an unbreakable embrace with the luggage of the other woman whose symphony has me hypnotized. All around me are people telling me to move! Move woman! Move! But then I can’t. Funny, I think sometimes that’s how life works as well.

I try to recall how I got into this situation in the first place. Well, it all began with  my decision to board a crowded general bogie. And I guess that’s the end of it. The tiny ladies’ coach is an objectified sexism in itself but of course I am not going to get into that debate. I am probably going to get old here, amidst this friendly crowd and feminism is not something I would like to ponder about right now. Paying my special gratitude to the size of this bogie, my mind wanders to the immediate reason that had caused this chaos – The woman who was sitting on the floor (because obviously we don’t have enough seats), blocking the way to the door and absolutely refusing to apply what’s called the common sense, that is, to get up when a train halts at a station. Ultimately when others tell her to stand and make way, she takes eternity to do the same. And by the time she clears the way for us to move ahead, the passengers on the other side have already started to rush in. And the result of her stupidity? Chaos. Victim? Me.

Move! Woman! Move!
Well I can’t. My bag is stuck. I am stuck. Can’t you see?

The polite woman finally stops shouting and decides to apply her brain. She lifts her bag and I am able to step ahead and also drift my bag forward. But there’s still a long way to freedom. There are too many people inside and now it’s my suitcase that’s creating havoc. As I push myself (and the bag, the god damned bag) forward, I accidentally hurt a small kid who was standing on the way. Her mouth turns into a gigantic O, her cheeks turn blood red and river and its tributaries start flowing from her eyes. I want to apologize. I obviously didn’t mean to slam my bag into her foot but there’s this major part of me who just wants her to shut up. She is a kid and I shouldn’t bear such thoughts but I am never going to be able to get off this train and these women and this noise and this wailing child are turning this place into a hell and I haven’t sinned enough to deserve this (Or so I thought!). I have already started formulating alternate plans. I realize I am never getting off here. So, I start thinking what the next stop of this train would be and how will I get back from there.

Move! Woman! Move!
Woman can’t move. CAN’T YOU SEE!
Woman is stuck in between all these people and shouting doesn’t help.
And amidst this greatest struggle I have ever endured to get off a train, comes a helping hand. But the helping hand isn’t polite either. Helping hand is angry and is shouting too, “Why are you coming out so late? So rahe the kya? (Were you sleeping all this while?)” I lose my temper at this. Now is not a good time for the glare and the taunts. If I just knew how to punch, I would have punched you right across your face. In fact in this moment, I can punch god himself. But I settle for glaring back at my Messiah, the red shirted coolie who is lifting my bag. But he doesn’t shut up. Then something rare happens, “Would you stop shouting?”-  I shout (ironically). I scream so hard, in fact, that my voice breaks like the light splits through a prism. Damn. I immediately regret it but at least the coolie is silent now. When I finally get to get off the train, I feel like I have been reborn. The coolie has placed my bag on the platform and has disappeared. Good, I wasn’t going to thank him anyway. There are still significant traces of anger left inside me. I avoid thinking about the near-fatal swarm of the women. I avoid thinking about the crying child. I avoid thinking about the cuss words I had been showered with. Obviously, I fail. I notice that my breathing has become erratic and I am still a bit dizzy. So, I sit on a nearby bench, take a few deep breaths and make myself believe that I really am alive and safe. Get off the train! That’s all I had to do! Realize how powerful chaos is? Realize how hazardous a heavy and huge suitcase is? Don’t carry a bag that weighs more than you do. Or join a gym and set major weightlifting goals. And yes don’t underestimate the stupidity of your fellow passengers. Avoid crowd! Avoid crowd! Avoid crowd! (This suggestion is, in reality, a sham because there’s nothing in India that’s not crowded.) And that’s how you get off a train in India safely.

***

How to open the door the correct way

I am sitting on the pot, locked inside my bathroom clutching an unusual realization with me, “I am going to die today.” I am aware that it’s a bit uncommon thought considering the location. After all, relief is what they call is a bathroom’s real forte. But I am far, far, far away from that emotion. I am drenched in anxiety. I am assailed by the kind of panic that surpasses my worst panic attack by hundred folds. I am going to die today. Right here. For a twenty-two year old young woman like me, who has been blessed with good health, this scenario doesn’t make sense. But how is it that I am dangling just a few inches away from jumping off the cliff into my after-life forever? It’s such a weird spot to have death embrace you but it’s too late and it seems that there is indeed nothing I can do to change it. Death is near; a potential groom – a mere mutter of “I do” away. I can already hear his steps approaching. Thump. Thump. Thump. My heart is in my throat. I am breathing at a frequency which even the latest computer processors can’t match. As a desperate attempt to distract myself, my brain performs an old trick – it throws me into a day-dream. It could be called a good move had it actually been a day dream. Even in the crucial times like this, my brain can’t let go of his sick sense of humor. He throws me into the dream that does the opposite of what it was supposed to do – It intensifies my panic. Can you believe that guy? In my head, as I time travel two to three days in the future, I can see my mother returning home to find our house in a perfectly normal condition. Perfectly normal condition except for the terrible stench. “Where is it coming from?” She wonders. She enters my room. The smell intensifies. Maybe a rat died in the bathroom. She tries to open the bathroom’s door. But it doesn’t budge. It’s locked! Now, she begins to grow anxious. Something is wrong. This stench is too strong to belong to a dead rat. Or the rat is too smart to lock the door. She tries to break open the door but it’s too heavy. She can’t do it. Her brain has already started formulating alternative plans. She rushes downstairs to the fifth floor immediately where she remembers she may be able to find a carpenter. The moment she enters the apartment, carpenter stops his work and stares at the woman’s grim face sprinkled with sweat. Something’s really wrong, his intuitions tell him. Slowly and calmly he asks, “Kya hua Madam?”
“Darwaza todna hai.”

The carpenter doesn’t ask any further questions. He abandons his work, accompanies her upstairs, to my home, to my room and ultimately to the bathroom door. The wretched bathroom door. It doesn’t take the carpenter long to break the lock. He takes a moment before opening the door. From the smell he can guess what he is about to see is going to haunt him for a long time. He slightly pushes the door and it swings open slowly, as if gracefully preparing them for a horrific sight. The woman behind him has already fallen to the floor, unconscious.

I never thought that the first one to see my dead body would be the person whom I had never met in my lifetime. I kind of always fantasied that my death would be glorious one. Glorious not in the sense that I hope to die at a war. By glorious I meant I die in the arms of a loved one. I die with smile and contentment. But this death is the exact opposite. I have never felt loneliness the way I feel right now. I never thought I would die in a freaking toilet! I never thought I would die grieving over my youth and all the dreams that I had once hoped to realize. I had always hoped that I would die with all my dreams already turned into reality. How cruel fate can be!

I had been so engrossed in my day-dream or rather nightmare that I had completely grown oblivious of the banging and voice coming from the other side of the door.

“Are you there? Answer us!”
“Yes, I am here. I am here.”

My friend had been standing outside the bathroom for a long time. I had been standing inside the bathroom for a long time. All I originally wanted to do here was to pee in peace. Since I had guests with me – my friends, I had taken extra precaution of locking the door behind in order to avoid any potentially awkward situations. We weren’t after all in a usual state of mind. Well, congratulations, there will be no awkward situations. They can’t get in even if they tried their best.
When I had been asked to pull the latch even harder after my multiple futile attempts to open the door, I had mustered all my strength and broken it instead. The broken piece is still lying on the floor. And yes, that’s why I am going to die here today. “You can do this,” my friend says again. “Wash your face. Breath. Breathe, okay? You will figure out a way.”
Figure out a way? Yeah. Right. I wash my face anyway. I am never getting out of here. Could be that my friends, on the other side (on the other side of freedom!) figure out a way to open the door. But it will be too late by then. I pick up the piece, to acknowledge how a tiny thing is going to result in my death and then suddenly I am greeted by a tiny ray of hope! I discover that there are threads in the end. Threads mean that the piece is not broken but just detached! Brimming with joy, I insert the piece in the gaping hole of the latch that had been terrorizing me until now and rotate it in. It’s moving in! Maybe I won’t die after all. Boy, I had been so stupid! Filled with hope, I try to open the door again.

It doesn’t budge.

Perfect! The carpenter has called my neighbors. My mother is conscious and furious. Furious. Not sad. Not weeping. Not wailing. FURIOUS. Because that’s how her daughter died? In a bathroom? From a drug overdose? And which drug? Cannabis? Seriously? No, that’s not my daughter. This is not her. I don’t know who this girl is. Take her body away. Take her to a morgue. Dump it. Do whatever. This is not my daughter—

“There?”

That’s my friend again.

“Yes I am here. Not dead. Not yet…”
“Breath, okay? Try to open the door again.”

I take a few deep breaths. I approach this monstrous door, devoid of hope for any success. A funny thought strikes me then. What if you pull the latch on the opposite side?
The opposite side? But that’s the wrong side!
I would lock myself further into this hell! Crazy or what?
But what’s the harm in trying? So, I try anyway.

The lock slides with an unbelievable smoothness. The door is open.

THE. DOOR. IS. OPEN.

I was pushing the latch in the wrong direction this whole time.
I am overwhelmed by relief and happiness and suddenly a deeply profound thought dawns upon me – Maybe that’s how it works with life. We are trying to push the doors open so hard but nothing works even then. Maybe we need to sit back and breathe. And the solution, an incredibly​ simple and obvious solution, will appear out of nowhere. Push the lock in the other direction. It’s that simple.
Door swings open.
Life swings open.
I am laughing. All my tears that contained panic a while ago contain nothing but joy. My friend, my beloved friend throws an incredibly annoyed look at me. I apologize to her. I need to. I must. I ruined her beautiful date with Mary after all. But did you notice how simple it is? Push the latch on the opposite direction and that’s how you open the door the correct way.

***

The door, among other things

If I were to listen to my witless alter ego residing inside my head, you would find me standing with my ears pressed against this door just as they once had been pressed against your chest listening to your beating heart. I admit there are no octaves in the heartbeats but I had discovered a song anyway. I have long gone forgotten the lyrics. I can’t recall its music composition either. But somehow, I still remember how symphonic it sounded. What weird criterion does the mind follow to retain memories? Anyway, that symphony is nothing but an autistic part of the past now but still I am listening to it standing here – sans words, sans notes. Why should I be thinking about those moments? Why should I even be speculating about eavesdropping through this door? There is nothing good I can hope to hear. You don’t live beyond this wooden thing. And this wooden thing has no possibility of being swung open—paving way for our chance encounter. Yet that doesn’t stop me from enjoying this cold wind beautifully complementing the hot day it has been. I, leaning on the wall with some meaningless thoughts concerning you and a non-existent tattoo on my wrist and imaginary flickering light on the ceiling along with a fictitious cigarette between my fingers that I am shamelessly flicking onto to the stairs. Not that I enjoy smoking. Not that I smoke. Not that I have any intention of getting a tattoo. Not that I desire to listen to your voice. Not that I anticipate your unnecessary presence either. And yet, here I am, staring at this cheap wood polish, the old fashioned door lock and resisting my temptation to ring the doorbell. You won’t open the door anyway. Oh no, you would actually, had you been there. And what kind of encounter would that have been other than an awkward exchange of brief salutations? After all, it’s not easy to put a comprehensible vocality to all of my thoughts that have revolved around you. But there’s a reason for this incompetency of mine – In my imagination, you are perfect! Of course, I am aware that the reality is different and it has all its right to be so. However, don’t I have the liberty to enjoy fiction too? It may be factually incorrect. It may be too dreamy. It may be an absolute wastage of time. But why should I refrain myself from this easy source of amusement? For despite my repeated denials, I do secretly admit that it’s a pleasure to think about you, to think about different versions of you which are not actually yours but MY projections of your heavily edited photographs. It’s entertaining creating numerous scenes of a forgettable play where we both can be the protagonists. The play that has perfect set of dialogues. Whenever we perform it in my head, it’s always a standing ovation. House-full auditorium. Critical acclaim. On stage, you are spot on! On stage, you are amazing! Just look at you saying each and every word with such spontaneity and accuracy! In reality, however, these are just some banal sets of conversations penned down by me in the air. Unfortunately, our literacy is just limited to pens and papers. How can one understand the stories flung open in the air? How does one read the unwritten? How does one hear the unsaid? Your incapability makes sense. My unreal expectation doesn’t. You are not the character of my story. You aren’t really the actor of my play. You are just a bad casting, you are just a misunderstood being. But then again, it’s a pleasure standing here. The fact that you won’t come out that door is a relief and your absence is ironically beautiful. And though you might find me shuffling through your memories and contemplating about various possibilities that could have occurred on the other side of this door, paradoxically this very act bars me from entering the past again, from crossing the line, from eventually being an unwanted guest, from taking the misleading detour on the way to my home and from forgetting that our broken connection is beyond repair. This door is not a reminder of you. This door is not a reminder of any closeness. This door is a reminder of the closure. Our closure.

***

The Park

Do not judge her based on her aloofness or hostile temperament. If she asks you to stay away, try not to be offended. She doesn’t hate you, it’s just that she is not used to your unexpected presence. And if, despite her meaningless hostility, you still decide to stay with her, you would slowly and surprisingly discover how feigned her hatred is! The fact is she had been waiting for too long for someone like you to keep her company but just like everyone else she fears that you too would leave her eventually. And it is the inevitable truth, isn’t it?

She likes to believe that her life has been built over her choices rather than some bunch of uncontrollable circumstances. Is it really true? How does it matter even if it isn’t? In labyrinth of her thoughts, she has the liberty to believe in anything she wants to. In labyrinth of her thoughts, she doesn’t have to differentiate dreams from reality. Her dreams can be misleading but she has seen too much of life to care about this trivial thing called truth. Had she always been like this? In her days of youth, she recalls that that things had been different. In her decaying memories, there still exist the echoes of those noises that had once both annoyed and excited her. What was it like back in those days? When she was young and beautiful – when the swings weren’t broken, when the slides hadn’t been rusted, when the see-saws were capable of being used? What was it like when the children loved visiting her, annoying her, infuriating her, tickling her and making her laugh from the core of her heart? Faint projections of the past trickles down her hazy memory. “It was beautiful!” She exclaims. It was beautiful! Those were the days when each setting sun brought different stories, when imaginations of young minds would disperse incoherently in the air she breathed, when she was the canvas where each day creativity was splashed over in unpredictable ways; when she had the ability to be the island surrounded by river filled with crocodiles, when she could transgress from being a mere children’s park to the peak of the mountains or the sea of molten lava. Where have her shape shifting abilities disappeared? She is just a deserted and forgotten park now. What happened?

She aged.

How come, though? Wasn’t she supposed to live a long youthful life? Or was it just her immature assumption? After all, the things that glorified her, were paradoxically also the things that destroyed her. With the imaginations that excited her and made her feel invincible, came also the veiled curse of several diseases and senescence. She recalls how those very children who loved her also broke the chains in the swings, stomped too hard on the top of the slides, dismantled the seats on the see-saws and no one! No one ever bothered to take care of her or even think of rescuing her from her deteriorating condition. But they adored her, didn’t they? Then where did their cruelty and indifference stem from?

She immediately rebukes herself for blaming those kids. They had never been cruel! None of the bruises they inflicted on her was intentional! They were too innocent, that’s all. She should know that! Yes, they had been the harbingers of her downfall. Yes, the things she once flaunted off with pride, also brought her own doom. But isn’t life always like this for everyone – An irony? Things wouldn’t have changed even if the circumstances had been entirely different! It would have still been a tragic paradox.

Isn’t god overusing a trivial literary device? When would he retire from being this arrogant poet? But nothing matters now. Nothing matters. She remembers how she had also hoped for peace. She remembers how she had longed for calm sunsets. And now she has all of these in acute abundance. She gives away her toothless smile. Happiness peeks through her wrinkled face. The solicitous tears of sorrow accompany immediately as if too scared to leave happiness alone. The deserted park embraces them both and then suddenly, scorns at the funny looking thing, who stood scribbling in its notebook at her broken gate, shamelessly interrupting her private moment. “Go away you insolent thing!” she shouts through the rustle of leaves and a sudden gush of wind. The insolent thing doesn’t budge. Instead it stands and stares at her as the yellow light illuminates her face and the musical notes of melancholy floats beautifully under the unusually silent night. When the song finally ends, the funny insolent thing whispers “You are beautiful.”

“Oh! You liar!” The old lady whispers back through her disagreeing blush and laughs herself to sleep.

The hot guy at the coffee shop

(And how I would never ask him out)

She isn’t known for making confident entrances. She steps in as if she has never visited the place before, which is unintentionally a great display of acting on her part. Her face has this perpetual expression of being lost and confused pasted on it. The only hint that she finally gives about how she does know this place is when she  hesitantly throws her mild smile of acknowledgement at the guy on the counter. He, in return, does the same and asks their mutually consented standard question for her obligatory confirmation – “Latté?”  Affirmative. As usual. Then she goes to her favorite table and starts doing her favorite task of the day – Observing people. Regretting that she isn’t invisible and a bit annoyed at how she ought to be careful about not creeping out the people, she balances this act with reading a book or writing on her laptop. There’s rhythm to this – She enters the café, forcibly greets the guy who takes her order, goes to her table, spends two hours doing something that falls into the potential-topic-for-debate (Procrastination or productivity?) category and then she makes an abrupt exit. And she repeats this every day.

But that day – that day sun rose from the west. As she began to leave the café, she did something she had never done before! The guy, whose voice she had been listening to the entire time since he had entered the coffee  shop, was sitting with two of his other friends. He was doing that thing again – imitating the professor who taught him in the university he was studying in. The accent that he was trying to copy came out pathetically but that didn’t matter! No fake accent could possibly suppress the charm of his sexy voice. Coffee doesn’t get you high but pretending that it does, she went up to him and said, “Umm…I don’t know how to say this without being awkward. So, I am just going to get over with it. No perverseness is intended here, a compliment that’s all. I think your voice is great and you are really cute.” Did the girl with the confused face just say this? Did she just speak to a person she didn’t know? And, and, and that too not because she had to but because she wanted to? Bravo! And there, she turned and strode towards the gate. (Colloquially known as swag) She wanted to see his reaction of course, but if she had turned back that would have ruined the whole moment. Then the thing that she had dearly anticipated and yet not expected to happen happened. He hurriedly caught up to her and asked, “Hey! What’s your name?”

Of course, this is not an entirely true account of events that took place that day. When she went up to him and told him he was cute, he looked at her for a moment almost in disbelief and then burst out laughing. Her default expression of confusion took over her face again as his friends started laughing too. When the realization of what had just happened finally hit her, she turned and ran away as soon as she could. Her auditory senses received the stimulus of his voice, his disgustingly sexy voice, which was most probably addressed to her. Whether it was an apology or an extension to her insult she never got to know. She had voluntarily blocked her brain from deciphering the message. It took fourteen showers to wash away the embarrassment but yet the faint scent of it still lingered to annoy the fuck out of her at otherwise peaceful moments.

Of course, this is also not what really happened. She made a U turn before she could even think of a decent way to frame a compliment. She threw a short glance at the guy. The guy shot the glance back. And there it was! The moment! Their moment! She was looking at him and he was looking at her. Was that a sign? Could he be the one? Wait. What? Her eyes disconnected the contact immediately. She got out of the coffee shop and never saw him again.

Of course, this is also not what really happened. She looked at the guy. He was busy conversing with his friends. “He might be called cute.” She thought, trying to sound arrogant despite knowing there wasn’t anyone present in the vicinity who was capable of listening to her thoughts and praise her ‘ego-complimenting-desperate’ arrogance. Instead of turning to this hot guy she had been wanting to talk to this whole time, she turned to the guy at the counter and asked for the bill.  A few weeks later she found herself contemplating about various alternative endings for this trivial incident that ideally she should have forgotten about long ago.

Or maybe, this is also not what really happened. There was no such guy at the café.

~Musings from the coffee shop

P.S. You can find more posts on the musings from the coffee shop here .

The hot girl at the coffee shop

(And how I will never be as hot as she is – An unintentional rant on insecurity)

I sit here in awe as I watch you taking the seat next to my table. I am staring, ain’t I? But I can’t stop myself from doing this. For starters, I won’t deny that I am a bit irked by your hair and how the strands don’t strive to take weird spaces in the air, how they seem perfectly managed and cohered like they show in those advertisements. Then there is the length of your hair. Funny I seem to love long hair again because when my hair used to be that long, I used to look like a broomstick and I eventually grew to hate it. Well, not anymore I guess. Every curl of your hair, they seem to be a deliberate effort, not a mere accident but a perfect plan well executed. Ugh! How beautiful! And how very convenient. You get to be out on your good hair day. And there’s me – always trying to hide the hideousness of my hair in a bun!  Are my bad hair days ever getting over? And then there is your eyeliner. Boy, look at that symmetry! The smokey eye shadow surrounding it, did you notice that my burning heart? How glamorous is that! So, that is how you put it! I am talking to you my dear hand, that is how we are supposed to put it! And by the way, which shade is your lipstick colour? Which brand is it? I need to buy that immediately.

Stop it. What are you doing? What am I doing? Describing her, grandma brain! Don’t act so innocent! My eyes are glued on her because of your orders, not mine. So, don’t pretend to be shocked. You can expect me describing everything about her – Her grey crop top. Grey, notice that colour ; The colour of class. A wardrobe must have and yet we don’t have it. That’s because we are not meant to carry these beautiful things on our body. We are meant to make notes about others carrying it.  Her black shrug, her black jeans, her black sneakers and then there’s the stylish amazing contrast to everything – Her cream sling bag. Just look at that walking Zara showroom, man! How come everything that she is doing right now seem so perfect! This is weird!  I think that was the 100th selfie that she just snapped. Wow. Usually you would have found me rolling my eyes at her and her front camera but today this incessant act of capturing different positions of lips and eyebrows and hands miraculously makes perfect sense to me. Where is all my anti-selfieism spirit gone?

God, she is beautiful. Beautiful? Well, that’s a presumptuous word, isn’t it? I think we should settle for this other adjective – hot. So, she is hot! And also an unintentional salt on my wound. She is making me realize how I don’t know these things; taking care of my own self, putting efforts on myself and not just leaving things on fate and the hormones in my body. She makes me acutely aware of my carelessness, of my cracked lips, of my un-kept nails, of my uncombed hair, of my dark circles, of my acne. But that’s okay. I am not going to be jealous. We are not that kind! We are the kind who stand back and admire. You can imagine me leaning against a wall, taking a puff from my joint and just watching the people around.

Did you notice the guy at the other counter, by the way? Did you notice how he is engaged doing the same thing that we are doing? Yes. That’s why you need to get back. Go back to your book. You have a task to complete, turquoise ink! Don’t you remember? She is a pretty woman. We get it. But we need to get back to our work. And you are not even gay. (are you?) Shut up. Did you see that? How she looked at me again? I like the way we have exchanged glances during this whole time. The guy at the counter didn’t get the same treatment, FYI. But you know what, I do not wish to know her. I do not wish to talk to her and even know her name. As long as she does not object my series of not-so-stolen glances, I am happy just by looking at her. That’ s it. Thank you for letting me watch you, lady! Thank you for not minding my attention and even admiring it, if I may.

Ho gaya? Aur kuch? No. Nothing. You should be happy, you know. I think we just got a new bakri for our blog.

Yeah. The great cure for writer’s block. I think a glance at an attractive girl might be a possible solution for all our problems.  

~Musings from the coffee shop

P.S. You can find more posts on the musings from the coffee shop here .

The bra strap

My bra strap is carefully placed across my shoulder blades – for there must not be any upturned parts. Be careful with the hooks, the motherfuckers never get themselves right when they are really supposed to. Be careful, I repeat, set them nicely and don’t let them come off at satanic timings. They have a habit of doing that. My bra strap – dangling below my shoulder joints like a necklace adorning my arms. Thank god for my full sleeved sweater that I don’t really have to put them back on place and be embarrassed by the slutty displacement of these unintentional tools of she-wants-it-so-badly. My bra strap – the simplest tool of seduction; its visibility through my translucent shirt either makes me desperate or someone with a smart sense of clothing. Pair its exposure with the hair on my arms and I will be both sexy and disgusting at the same time. I, being a mammal, hair is of course not acceptable. My bra strap -a fascinating object for you to ogle and a catalyst for your luscious comments, is also a welcoming source of hush-hush conversations between my acquaintances. Take me to a corner and let’s play some dumb charades about how my modesty is lying vulnerable with a thin strap of clothing. My bra strap; Funny fellow I tell ya! It simultaneously oscillates between being an object to be hurriedly hidden away and something whose total absence is a huge controversy. My bra strap – the mother of the red marks on my shoulder, the reason behind my suffocating breasts, my constant battle against the cruelties of gravity and the disfigurement of my chest. What would I do without it? What would I do with it? My bra strap – a carefully blurred image in a Bollywood movie – either an overestimation of its capabilities or an underestimation of Indian crowd. My bra strap – an unabashedly circled part in a fashion magazine deeming my underclothing as a wardrobe malfunction.  My bra strap – a perfect right swipe for a low neck shirt or my low waist jeans.  Accessorize it with my stained pants or sanitary napkins; the outcome is an explosive publicity. Speaking of menstruation, how dare you talk about it loudly in front of your male colleague, huh? How dare you carry those pads without covering it seven layers of opaque wrappings? My bra strap – don’t limit it with physical entities; it goes well with the question of how I lost/did not lose my virginity or how does a woman touches herself or how she likes watching porn or how she can smoke and swear with an extraordinarily shameless vocabulary or can wear jeans despite being middle-aged and not having a flat belly. My bra strap – exists like those boys dressed in pink or the ones who are five feet two inches tall or the ones who like other boys or the ones who wear sleeveless T-shirts or the ones who have waxed legs or those un-chivalrous feminist ones who believe in splitting the bill on dates and not sending the first text always.

My bra strap, the blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, is just a bra strap. Mind if we devalue it a little?

***

Author’s little note: This article has been written as a prequel to another article named The Bloodstain as a part of The Bullshit trilogy.