Timeless

Just something I wrote a few months back for a competition I didn’t get selected for 😀 Give it a read, anyway.

The hospital room looked like most hospital rooms do; sad. The kind of sad that doesn’t believe in sunshine, colours or even rainbows. Its surprising how one place can bring to you happiness wrapped in glitter paper yet leave you dry and lifeless. It was sultry and the harshness of the summer was here to make the insides of the human body melt. The fan kept moving in circular motions making the room humid, the air smelled of sweat and medicines and of emotions leaving one’s soul. Somewhere near I could hear the ambulance blaring, a few doctors and nurses rushed to the main entrance to attend the patient who probably suffered a heart attack. There was a flurry of activities with silence resuming as quickly as the storm arriving. My visits to the hospital are not very routinely but sometimes my headaches get the worst of me. On waking up this morning, my head started to explode like a thousand loudspeakers set off at once. The painkillers failed to give any relief and I almost collapsed. I saw a few newspapers and magazines lying around and to occupy myself I kept flipping through them. The doctor was stuck in traffic which meant I had a lot of time in my hands. After about an hour, when the waiting became monotonous, I decided to stroll and stretch my muscles a little.

While walking down the aisle, I passed a room which was slightly open. I heard someone singing. It sounded like the voice of a man. Deciding to not let curiosity get the best of me, I kept walking.  The voice kept getting louder and before I could open the door to understand what was happening, an old man came out of the room looking tired.  He looked a little taken aback by my infringement on his privacy but I apologized for the misconduct and admitted it was just out of sheer curiosity. He listened and then laughed. Unfamiliar as it may sound; his eyes bore a tint of belongingness and comfort. He turned around and closed the door slowly, making no noise while gesturing for a cup of coffee. Hesitatingly, I went ahead with him.

The next few moments changed my life and how.

The old man was a retired police officer. After having served the country for about 30 years he decided to live the last few years of his life with his wife in peace and togetherness. On inquiry I found out, he had no children and no regrets. In the middle of our conversation, he stood up, went inside the room and returned. He kept doing this after every ten minutes. Before I could say anything, he sensed the uneasiness starting to develop, the air getting denser and that’s when he spoke. “It started when we went on a trip post retirement to the hills. She loves adventures and I don’t. But her enthusiasm always wins over my resistance and we end up visiting different parts of the world. While we were returning, she forgot the names of the places we visited. It was strange but not unusual.

On another occasion, she couldn’t remember her favourite TV shows or where the locker keys were or where the laundry clothes were kept. Blaming it on old age, we didn’t pay much heed to her forgetfulness which we believed happened to everyone.” He paused a little, wiping the tears that came running down. Once again he stood up and went to the room. He returned and continued,” Sometimes I wish, I had known. But there are certain things in life that are beyond your capacity and control. When we were having dinner at a dear friend’s house one day, she forgot the names of the people she was surrounded with. And that’s when it hit us. The reality came crashing down and before we could realise what was happening, it was too late. The months that followed kept getting worse. In between everything that was happening I kept telling myself we’d sail through this, we always did. That no matter how extreme the disease was it won’t tear us apart and for a few weeks it felt like there was hope. But as fate would have it, she didn’t remember me. She woke up one morning with terror in her eyes and a scream so deafening it shattered my whole world. I tried to calm her down but nothing would make her feel better. Maybe I knew this would happen. I wasn’t ready to accept it. Nobody can handle such a blow. My wife and I have been married for 60 years and I have never needed anyone else in my life. Seeing her in a state of such helplessness broke my faith in ways more than one. It is difficult trying to be a new person everyday for her because she doesn’t remember me; it’s like living a life wondering whether I will ever get the old her back. Most days, she refuses to look at me. She is scared of my face, this stranger that I am becoming to her.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.” I mumbled.

He went on, “But you know what kept me going?” I nodded.
He smiled and whispered, “Her love. I could not for the life of me be who I am had it not been for her. That’s when I decided my story wasn’t over. It could not end like this. There were parts of her still left that loved me and appreciated me and I wasn’t going to give up so soon.”

It was time for my appointment with the doctor but I refused to go. The old man was staring at the walls of the cafeteria, looking at nothing but I knew his mind was with his wife. A gentle smile spread across his face. He looked at me and I knew. He was reminiscing all those precious times he spent with his wife when they went on adventures along with their nights spent lying under the star lit sky and when the world was cruel but their love wasn’t.
After sharing a few minutes of silence, he stood up for the last time.
“But why were you singing?” I asked.
“When I sing, her eyes lit up like a million fireflies and even if it’s for a few seconds, it’s worth a lifetime of happiness for me. And if you have a wife who smiles like that, you know you’ve found the one.” And he went inside. I don’t remember how long I sat at the cafeteria. His words echoing through my mind, his unwavering faith and the courage to keep believing opened my heart to a new dimension.
I walked down the aisle once again to go back home but this time things became clearer and calmer.

How do you define love then? I thought. Is it when you build a foundation of faith so strong that even fate trembles? Or when you see the one you love slowly disappear yet you keep holding on to the damaged parts till there’s nothing left?
Maybe we will never find out. Or maybe we might just get lucky.

The Phone Call

Just something I wrote a while back. Purely fictional.

Also, The Literary Cat is now active and live and i’ll be posting frequently. Keep reading! 🙂

It was only when the phone rang in the dead of the night, it hit me. I picked up the phone, my hands shivering, I let out a meek, “hello.” There was dead silence. I could hear nothing but silence. I checked the calender. 24th May. My eyes stuck on the date. I stood there for what seemed an eternity. I lost track of the time. Time didn’t seem to matter. These days nothing really did.

While I got busy with life, trying to make a living and working hard to pay for college fees, shuffling between study and work, I had completely forgotten it was her birthday. The landline was obsolete now. Specks of dust filled the top of the table and the phone was concealed by dirt and particles of all kinds. Even though the apartment that I live in is located at the heart of the city and I’m surrounded by friendly neighbours,there are hardly any visitors. Not because I’m socially awkward or an introvert but mostly because people are creeped out by an eerie presence. A family friend once out of impulse and curiosity whispered, “Don’t you think she’s here? It’s like she never left”. Such remarks were as frequent as the young boy delivering the morning newspaper. I guess i was used to it. Maybe after some point all of us get used to the emptiness. The hollowness that is left after a part of you decides to leave.

Before our lives turned upside down,we used to go to a nearby cafe and celebrate till we got wasted. It was a tradition. Birthdays didn’t mean throwing parties or spending the weekend at some posh hotel. Being together and not doing anything was celebration to her. My deliberate attempts at inviting friends over or going to fancy restaurants was always turned down.”You’re so stubborn”, I used to snap, irritated at her lack of enthusiasm. She would smile and shrug it off. Constant requests of doing something different or adventurous went unheard and I was, instead, forced into doing what she would want me to do. I gave in. I always did. So we used to cook ourselves some dinner and celebrate by watching a movie or tv show. Her laughter still echoes in the room, the way she used to fall down laughing uncontrollablly on a joke she found funny. Her hair falling loosely resting on her lean shoulders, legs curled up to her chest and those bright blue eyes staring into the abyss. You could see the entire universe in them; stars, galaxies and everything sparkly and magnificent . She was a moving painting. Looking at her one would picture all the colors, the details, how the colors were beautifully mixed into the other, creating a story.

Emotions were always high especially if we were watching a heartbreaking love story. “Life is meant to be lived out of your comfort zone. It’s not life, if you’re satisfied. Either go all in or you don’t stand a chance” she said as a matter of fact after we had finished watching back to back episodes of her favourite tv show. Always a keen observer and thinker, she would talk about the mere presence of humans on earth, the psychology behind their behaviour, the science behind the universe. There was no particular order, words flew out of her mouth as easily as she composed her thoughts.

Sometimes when I travel back to those memories to catch a glimpse of what life felt like in her presence, guilt overpowers each of the senses and questions my very existence. What if I tried harder? Maybe if I hadn’t given up that easily. “Could haves and would haves” eat us alive. My mind was trapped in a cage and the only beast I had to fight was myself. The harsh wind forced the wind chimes hanging on my window to fall. My thoughts were interrupted and I could see shards of glass spread across the room in an intricate design. The phone still close to my ear, the silence growing even louder. I knew it was her. I knew it because deep down in my heart I could never not deny that possibilty. After what seemed like forever, I gave up. Just as I was about to put the phone down, I heard muffled sounds from the other side of the phone. I composed myself and finally spoke,” Happy Birthday”. But she was long gone.

Let’s go, its time to leave

She heard a faint voice calling out to her somewhere from the backyard. She stood up, wiping away the tears that had now formed in her colossal eyes. She had always been an obedient child and listening to her mother was a chore she would never deny even if that meant killing her own desires. She looked back at the place where she had spent her entire childhood. A place which gave her memories that would stay with her throughout her life. She would miss this place. More than that she would miss what she used to be. Going away meant leaving a huge part of herself behind. She was 20 and was no longer the little girl with two pony tails holding her father’s hand whenever they went out for a morning walk. She missed her father. She missed how he used to wake her up in the morning. The world automatically felt like a safer place back then. Her fathers’ warm embrace, his reassuring smile. It made her cry. She cried. Voices being heard outside again. This time she looked back at the photo frames decorated on her study table.. Staring at her father’s picture she realized how much she was like him. How much of her father’s traits were woven into her. She remembered the last time she saw him on his death-bed. He asked her to hold his hands, to not cry, to be strong. She didn’t listen to him. It wasn’t easy. How could she just watch him die? Of all things that happened to her watching her father go through excruciating pain had killed her. Mentally, she couldn’t revert to being herself ever again. She had no friends to rely on. Being the introvert kind, girls found her weird, some even went on to say she was retarded. Well, maybe she was different.

She looked at the picture of herself and her father of a breathtaking trip. She was 15 at that time and considering her love for adventure her father had taken her for bungee jumping. How she had screamed her lungs out at the sight of it. She smiled a half-smile, reminiscing the beautiful day. Tears falling down. She kept the photo back, turned towards her cupboard. She took out a cardboard box which had her father’s possessions hidden. Her mother was heartbroken and depressed after her father died and rarely kept a track of their only daughter. She was there physically but in reality she had lost her mother that very same day her father had left them. She had silently taken all his belongings and never mentioned anything about this to anyone. In it were photographs of their vacations to various places, his unusually weird hat which used to be the center of all her jokes. His watch, given to him by her on his last birthday, a locket which had both of their picture and his gun. A gun used by him as protection. She held it up in her hands, staring at it with hope and a way to escape. She took a deep breath, bought the gun closer to her forehead, her breath increasing by every second, she thought about her father once again. How happy she would be sitting right next to him, teasing him about his hat.. This made her smile. She waited for a few minutes to pass by. She waited for someone or something to tell her that what she was doing was right. That there was nothing wrong in it. An image of her father calling out to her revolved around her head. She laughed. The gun still firm on her grips. She made up her mind. She had to pull the trigger. A little pain and then it would end once and for all. Her mother would get infuriated but that didn’t bother her much. She had gotten used to her cold wrath. She wondered what she’d tell her father when they meet, would he be happy? He would be, obviously. She knew he missed her too. Sweat forming in her hands, she once again bought the gun to her head. A loud bang on the door shook her up completely. She kept the gun down, got rid off the cardboard box, wore her sweater and dashed out of the room.

‘I’m sorry for being late, mum. I’m ready, let’s get out of here’ . This time she didn’t look back.

That Night

(Figment of my imagination)

I was angry. An argument with my friend at a party got out of hand. Things wouldn’t have gotten worse if the tone in which it was said would have been taken into account. It is rightly said” To err is human”. Well I don’t put all the blame on her . Truth has its own forms. Infuriated as I was I dashed out of the room, down the stairs, through the hallway and in no time i found myself walking down the road. I felt a gust of cold wind rush through my face, it’s when i realized how cold it was. It was midnight , stars shining with all its blaze and the moon appeared as beautiful and luminous as ever. I saw a number of people sleeping on the streets, people with no shelter ,wrapped up in thin blankets trying to protect themselves from this BITTER cold. Ignoring the world around me, i kept on walking.“This was the third time this month that we fought, i wasn’t going to take it anymore”. I thought to myself. My mind on war, preoccupied with the events that had followed, i didn’t notice a girl sitting on the footpath .As soon as i heard a cry i looked around to see, where it was coming from. My eyes met the glaze of the girl who looked at me with frightened eyes, eyes that were sore due to constant weeping, eyes that spoke more than words could. I went up to her. It’s when i realized the dilemma she was in. Her clothes were all torn and shaggy , her hair brittle and dirty. Her little feet were swollen and i could see cuts and bruises on them which she had got walking barefoot. She looked scared and hungry, helpless as I  was I stood there staring at the little girl in utter disbelief. For a moment neither of us spoke, she because i was a complete stranger to her and i because the sight that i saw left me speechless. After a few minutes of silence , I  gathered the strength to talk to her. At first she didn’t speak, I  could see the horror in her eyes, my presence was not liked by her. I somehow wanted to help her. A part of me said that I  should go back home ,it was getting late while the other half of me felt a sense of obligation towards her. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath , i had taken my decision i wasn’t going to leave this poor child alone in this cold. I  gave her a pack of chips i had in my purse.( I wonder how junks come to the rescue even in adverse situations.) However, before i could hand over the packet to her , she snatched it from me. I watched her empty the packet , the way she started licking it. She hadn’t  had a meal for days, which was evident. I regretted having eaten the other packet . She looked at me again, but this time her eyes told a different story…………….

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A Face only a Mother can love

I woke up to my mother’s loud but affectionate voice that always worked a million times better than an alarm clock . She opened the windows , letting the bright sun break the darkness that lingered in and around me . This was her usual routine. I took a glance at my mother who still radiated beauty , her slightly brown hair tied up in a neat bun , she looked as serene as the white snow and as lively as the spring. Her hands constantly moving as she folded the bed sheets , her eyes sparkling , throwing beams of warmth and love and hope. She would talk about the neighbors cat who was nothing but a menace , about her favorite daily soap while she would still continue cleaning up every little thing that’d hamper the hygiene she’d never failed to keep. For once , I couldn’t stop staring at her. Her voice fading away as I was encircled by a ring of thoughts that took me into a land of dreams. There, I saw my mother sitting under a tree . This time she looked completely different. Startled , I stepped back . My mother had lost her charm , her energy , her radiant beauty. Her eyes were now dark and empty. She looked old. That’s when I was hit by reality. I moved towards her . The closer I went , the more excruciatingly painful the sight appeared. The next moment I found myself running while I struggled to catch my breath . I called on to my mother to stop but she didn’t seem to listen . I saw her going away from me , I could see her body becoming smaller as she moved farther , I cried for her to turn back , I cried for her to listen but my voice seemed to encircle around . ‘Stop, please stop!!’ , I screamed. I stumbled and fell hard on the ground. Ignoring the pain I kept running . But she wouldn’t stop. Didn’t she love me ? Wasn’t she supposed to pick me up and make things alright ? Tears streaming down my cheeks , I felt dazed. My vision became blurred and I finally stopped breathing. 
I could feel the familiar touch , sense the familiar smell and at once breathed a sigh of relief. As I began to peel back layers of my own consciousness , my feelings of isolation and desperation lessened. I felt my mother’s strong hands tightly wrapped around me while her soothing voice played like music in my ears. Like a piece of stardust , something deep inside of me began to illuminate my soul as I met her shining eyes . ‘I love you, my child’ . She whispered. ‘ I love you too , mom’ , I said and crawled into her arms and slept for what seemed like eternity.

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