We are the mashup of all the things we let into our life.

We are the mashup of all the things we let into our life.
The music in my heart I bore, Long after it was heard no more ---William Wordsworth

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Soliloquy of Silence

dim, orange patch of light from a nearby pole occupied a circular area on the eerie, abandoned street. It was a windy, whispering, moonless night and the hissing and sighing of the wind amongst the trees carried a macabre touch with it, as if the rustling leaves were having a conversation with the wind. The colored and wrinkled leaves on the road suggested the advent of autumn and their dancing on the wind presented an ironic sight, as if they were bursting with joy and life after being withered from their branches. There was a flurry of movement behind a hedge and a figure soon emerged clad in a reefer jacket and worn out jeans, hands thrust deep into the pockets. He walked with a cautious tread lest he should disturb the fugue of excitement that the night had chanced to bring about, but, each footstep produced a resonance which pierced the night and replaced the howling of the wind with indistinct, receding voices and laughter that chased him until he reached the porch of an old, abandoned house.

The door creaked open, moving open a centimeter at a time, it could move faster but the door had grown moldy and soft with water and neglect. Once inside, the sheen from the moonlight slanting through the broken window illuminated the room and revealed a poignant scene. A thick coating of dust and mold encrusted everything. The once, grand wooden staircase was now thick with dust and dust covered papers were strewn on the stairs, each paper a burning memory. Old teacups lay on the coffee table, thick with dried up mold, dust covered mirrors, smell of mildew and stale air. Silence reigned supreme in the house, and its only occupants weaved their webs from the spindle of the stair banisters and and from the ceiling to the wall. Each mote of dust dancing in the moonlight carried a voice, a laughter, a cry, a shout, a silence. Until tears welled up in his eyes and rolled down the cheeks, his legs became weak and he lay on the floor, sobbing explosively, hands outstretched, crying for  redemption. 

Yes, drown yourself in your guilt, go tell yourself nothing is worth smiling at, let that sonorous voice echo into your conscience and convince you that this is what happiness sounds like. Maybe we're all stories in the end, read by fractured, depressed and guilty souls in silence, reflecting on their lives. Perhaps i am redemption, or perhaps i am damnation. I am the songs left unsung, the stories left unwritten, the pause between each telephone ring, each honk, and each...sob. I am the cloud pregnant with emotions and anticipation hovering over every soul. 

The crisp, musical rustle of her gown on the polished, wooden surfaces of the stairs is what you could have cherished. The fresh, rejuvenating perfume of her skin is what you could have yearned for. The child curled up in a white blanket in her lap is what you could have smiled at...but you..you apathetic being turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to her and now, after all these years rings the familiar telephone ring somewhere in the pit of your brain, erasing the memories into wisps of smoke which fade into the background, like landscape on a fast moving train.

A dim, orange patch of light from a nearby pole occupied a circular area on an eerie, abandoned street. In this circular area stood a woman with a bundle of white blanket in her hands, rocking to and fro, shivering, shrieking and vibrating with cold at the same time, like the shrill, piercing urgency of a telephone ringing somewhere.

Monday, 24 June 2013

The Wandering Zephyr

 It was a lovely night, one of those nights, dear reader, which can only happen when you are young. The sky was so bright and starry that when you looked at it the first question that came into your mind was whether it was really possible that all sorts of bad-tempered and unstable people could live under such a glorious sky. The mention of bad-tempered and unstable people reminds me that my behavior during the day and in fact during all other days has been reproachful.

When i woke up in the morning, i felt strangely depressed, as i did every morning. The disheveled hair covering my forehead, the reek of piss and vomit from my bed indicating that i didn't changed them since a week, and the disorderly state of my room completed the picture of a man depressed with his life and an enemy of himself. I must confess that i liked my room this way, for it made me aware of my conscience and i didn't trust the maid. She would barge into my room every morning to clean it which resulted in my cursing and swearing oaths at her till tears glistened in her eyes and i was forced to stop and let her clean it. Oh how a girl's tears have the ability to pierce the strongest of hearts!

I am spiteful. i am vile, base and impudent. I am a sick man. Forgive me, dear reader, as you must be cross at my disdainful demeanor  but it really relieves me by expressing myself so. I have not been able to make a single acquaintance during all the years i have been living in Baltiysk, Russia.  But what do i want an acquaintance for? I know the whole of Baltiysk without them. Every Sunday night i would go to Hob's market where half a million workers, men and women, with their children spill into the streets like a flood, flocking to certain parts of the town, all through the night, till five o' clock in the morning, eating and drinking like beasts. The people swarm round the open taverns and into the streets, eating and drinking everywhere. It was as though a ball had been prepared for them, the public houses were as gay as palaces. I, however, did not take part in the festivity and felicity but rather enjoy watching the expressions on their gleaming faces but at the same time feel sorry for my unhappy state.
Suddenly, new jobs were being available in the country and the whole town leaving for them. It terrified me to be left alone, and for three days i was racking my brains in trying to find if something was wrong with me. I would no longer see and meet the old familiar faces that i used to see every morning, and it hurt me to even think about it. It is true, i am a complete stranger to the people on the street, but they are not so to me, i know them rather intimately, for i have made a thorough study of their faces during my wanderings in the street. I am happy when they are happy, and i am sad when they are sad and downcast. This particular old beggar used to wave his cap and blanket at me whenever i left my house, and i did the same to him.

The houses too, are familiar to me. When i used to walk along the street, they seemed to be running before me. They would gaze through the windows and practically say to me, " Good morning, how are you? I am fine, thank-you  They are going to add another storey to me in April", or " I was nearly burnt last night, oh how withered i am now, i was so terrified!"
It seemed as thought everyone and everything had left the city for good, as it looked like a desert now. Perhaps they had started to dislike my company and my presence  After a day or two, the houses too, had lost their charm and gaiety with which they saluted me every morning and looked forlorn and sad. I had no excuse to go to the country, as i had no cottage or relative to go to.
Days and months flew by but the deafening silence which prevailed in the city was not broken, for i strained my ear against the window pane for the slightest sound of their arrival. During my lonely walks in the day, i noticed that even the birds had stopped singing, as if they were hurt that nobody liked them and had forsaken them because  of their incessant noise.

After getting dressed in my usual clothes and an overcoat, i left the house in search of them. for it was impossible that they should forget me. I walked for hours and hours  and, as usual had for some time been completely oblivious of my surroundings, when i found myself near the toll gate. I felt cheerful at once and stepping beyond the gate, walked along the road between fields of corn and lush grass, unconscious of any fatigue and feeling with every breath i drew that a heavy weight was being lifted from my heart. There is something incredibly moving in the way nature, with the coming of spring, suddenly reveals herself in all the glory, splendor and blossoms out with flowers....She reminds me of that girl, ailing and faded, upon whom you look with pity and compassionate affection, but who in the twinkling of an eye, becomes by some  magic chance indescribably fair and beautiful, stunned and fascinated, you ask yourself what power it was that made the sad eyes gleam with fire? what caused the rush of blood to her pale face? What brought the passion to that sweet face? Why her bosom heaved so wildly? What was it that filled the face of the poor girl with life and vigor and forced it to light up  with so brilliant a smile and so contagious a laugh? You look around and wonder who it could have been, you begin to suspect the truth. But the brief moment passes, and tomorrow perhaps you will encounter the same forlorn gaze, the same remorse in her eyes and traces of vexation in her movements. And you feel sorry that the beauty, so suddenly evoked, should have faded so irrevocably and so to little purpose that she did not even give time to fall in love with her.
Suddenly, a loud boom occurring at intervals reverberated across the land and shattered my reverie. It happened in a bell-tolling sequence, perhaps it was a bell tolling. A wedding? A hanging? It could be anything. A tear glistened in my eyes and the cheerful countenance which i had just now, faded away. I turned around and walked back the way i came, dejected and dispirited   eyes downcast.
And so, i would always wander away in search of my dear friends and in search of solace, oblivious of my surroundings, drowned in my own thoughts, until the 'sound' would reach my ears and would force me to retire back to my home.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Whisper of the Sirens

KAZAKHSTAN,                         (1)

From the ramparts and their jagged towers, the village of Balkhash presented a wonderful sight. Woman paced through the market, a blue blur of burqas. Children guided goats through the crowds, struggling to avoid the throng of cyclists . Pigeons wheeled in the sunset. Various birds squawked from treetops in an evening chorus joined by barking dogs below. Some street mongers pushed trolleys along, selling scrap metal and pieces of plastic. Sheep entails hung over the bicycle handlebars of a butcher's shop. A  row turbaned 'white beards', the elders of Balkhash, sat on a mosque rooftop talking among themselves while they waited for the call to prayer. On the mud roofs around them,  boys of all ages ran here and there, shouting and chasing each other wildly amidst the smoke drifting upwards from the kitchens below. Many were flying home made kites  which fluttered in the breeze, gathered around the sun like excited moths. In the distance, lights were being turned on in the sixteenth century mosque. Further off, hovering over the Balkhash like a dark cloud was the black crayon smudge of the Paripomosus mountains.

Then it came, first the crackling, croaky whir  a large intake of breath and them, the melodious voice of the muaddin calling the faithful to the evening prayer. As the call continued, a tide of men, swelling by the minute, flowed across the city towards the mosque, and the white beards descended from the roof to pray. High above the street, a man stood on a flat rooftop, elbows atop the low parapet, surveying the scene with delight. He was clad in torn shirt and  jeans and raising his cellphone to his face he muttered something and closing his eyes, pressed a button. 

It seemed like everything and everyone had stopped. The time had completely ceased to move forward and the only sound that was heard was the ticking of the second hand until the minute hand moved forward and then, it all happened. An immense explosion erupted near the mosque in a ball of fire and all the shops, stalls, cars, people and houses disintegrated and disjointed as a beast pulls its prey limb from limb. The fire and smoke spiraled up into the air and the twisted, blackened remains plummeted to earth with breathtaking speed. Madness began.


Amsterdam, Schiphol Airport.   (2)

As the big DC-8 sank down, i glanced round its crowded interior. The bulk of passengers who shared my belief in the madness of flying, dug their fingers in the upholstery or in the seat, while the others who were not, sat with excessive nonchalance like those who are ever ready to face their impending doom.

The DC-8 landed with a short bump and taxied on the runway to the airport where it was to line up with the corrugated disembarkation tube. The exit door opened and i stepped into the tube and came out on the terminal floor, passing  tow or three airport employees who eyed me suspiciously. Oh well, its their job, i thought, and moved on. There was a man standing at the end of the platform. He was of middle height, with dark hair and black, cold eyes. I recognized him immediately : Nathan Lloyd. He was dressed in a black suit and overcoat but his forehead was accumulated with beads of sweat and looked worried. As he came forward to greet me, his worried countenance jelled almost instantly into an expression of pure shock. It was then that i observed , almost subconsciously, that he was looking to his right and not at me.  

In that small fraction of a second, i caught a glimpse of a man in grey suit to Nathan's right with a pistol raised to his head as he pulled the trigger of his silenced  Walther. He jerked convulsively and fell on his face on the floor, as the assailant made his escape. My senses were numb and i couldn't react, waves of nausea engulfed me and my stomach was in a knot. On noticing the dead body riddled with bullets, the whole terminal was soon enveloped in furor and madness. In this commotion, i lost my bearing due to the pushing and nudging of people running by but soon regained my balance and on impulse started towards the door of the second terminal.

On my way there, i found myself correct as the first terminal was flooded with screaming people. Suddenly, i saw the man in grey suit making his way past the door of the second terminal. I darted towards it and tried to pass through but the damned door was blocked by a person trying to enter. A girl. I dodged to the right and she dodged to the left. I dodged to my left and she dodged to her right. Check. You can see the same performance take place any minute on a city pavement when two over polite people succeed in blocking each other's way. I looked up to see her face but right then, a heavy, blunt instrument hit my head and i fell on the floor, lying unconscious. 


When i opened my eyes, i found myself seated on a chair with my face on the table in front of me. I guessed myself to be in a cabin of  a boat or ship with a single light at the end of the room, as it was swaying side by side. I tried to sit erect but couldn't, and my face and body ached painfully. My head was swarming with unconnected places and people and my thoughts were a kaleidoscopic whirl. I couldn't focus correctly but on shaking my head, i made out some pictures on the table and two large hands picking them up and putting them down. There was a brass knuckle on his right hand, from which i judge, i got the bruises on my body.

Silence reigned in the room save for my muffled groans, and after a lapse of some time , a hoarse voice spoke in an Italian accent from the darkness in front of me. He was probably fat and short necked.

"You scoundrel! You failed us, dammit. You've failed us ALL!", exclaimed the fat guy.

I tried to speak but couldn't find my voice.

"Kazakhstan, the Mosque, You ruined my plan. Nathan Lloyd, shit, he was YOURS, goddammit! It was a good thing i tested you, you mole. Look for yourself, you twerp!" 

He threw the pictures at me, and i found to my surprise, that it was me in every picture. How could that happen? I gasped in horror and recoiled in my seat.
"Ten years of my planning gone down the drain. Ten years! Hell, you were my best man, Brain. I relied on you. But, no....NO! You do not get a pardon this time. This time...you sleep with the fishes!" He shouted in anger, and pounding his fist on the table he cursed at me in Italian and pointing his burning cigar at my face, whispered in my ear the words, " Brian Cain". 

Brian Cain. Brain. Oh God, no, this cannot be. And then, it all came to me. Everything. And before i had time to assemble my thoughts together, i was lifted off my feet and thrown into the sea. Struggling against the current in vain, i kept myself afloat and saw to my horror, barrels of oil being emptied into the sea. I was slowly losing my balance as the waves pounded and engulfed me, and the last thing that my eyes could register was the light of a flickering flame coming towards me. Everything turned black after that.                                                              

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Of Dust and Ashes

The moon, looking as ageless as ever, peered through the wisps of clouds and graced the graveyard with it's graceful splendor  The time of the night when the churchyards  yawn and profound silence reigns supreme. When the owl hoots it's mournful song, careful not to disturb the dead, when the hum and murmur of the crickets and grasshoppers blend into a chorus which gradually ascends with the passage of night. This is the time of the night when softly and deftly, the music of the night caresses you and then secretly possess you.

   The wind fell; it's distant moaning were more low and mournful, carrying with it the hum and hiss and clatter of the train passing by. By degrees, it lulled and died away; and then it came onto snow. The flakes fell fast and thick, soon covering the ground some inches deep and spreading abroad a solemn stillness. Rows and rows of venerable gravestones dotted the churchyard, and were slowly being enveloped by the falling snow. The Church, with it's low, cracked arches, fragments of blackened walls and foliage and overgrown grass crowding the porch indicated that it was built many hundred years ago. Besides the Church was a small house with a quaint, thatched roof with walls that were blackened by time. This is where the old Sexton lived. The door led to a small room, with two old windows on either side of the door and a large hearth. It was not quite destitute of furniture. A few strange chairs whose arms and legs looked as though they had dwindled away with age, a table which had a pile of papers and the Bible upon it and a bed.  On one of these chairs sat the Sexton, wearing a black wool jacket. His eyes were deep and sharp, but they had a peculiar shade under them. There were deep creases on his forehead which showed that he mused a lot, he had grey, unkempt hair and his emaciated hands, like his body, were worn rough by the constant digging and repairing of graves. 

  He sat hunched on the chair with his chin on his chest, eyes inward. One would have thought that he was asleep, but in truth, he was thinking. Thinking about the grave he had recently dug and the person he had laid to rest in. A few tear drops still remained on his cheeks, and wiping them with the back of his hands, stood up and leaning on his cane, approached the table. Holding the jug of water with both hands, he poured it in the glass, but halfway through, it slipped from his hands and fell on the floor. 

Frowning in vexation, he turned towards the hearth and shouted, "Marge...Margret! Where is my darned juice?  I've told you to keep it with in my reach! Old hag, never learns." 

Muttering the latter part under his breath, he returned to his chair and sitting down, sighed explosively.

"You look adorable with those wrinkles, David, try smiling sometimes. Lights up the face", returned a woman's voice, chuckling.

"Yeah, yeah. Butter me up. Keep sewing your whole life, and clean the hearth! The ash is piling up", bellowed the old man, scratching his head in anger.

" Yes sir. What would you do without me, i wonder?" 

A chair was pushed back, there was some shifting of feet and the sound of the poker being used to shift the coals in the hearth was heard. The old man shook his head in dismay and resting his head in his hands, cried uncontrollably. Hysterical sobs bubbled out, tears ran down in rivulets, blurring his vision. All this time, an almost deafening, painful and stressful silence filled the room.

At last, he wiped the tears from his face with his jacket sleeve, and holding the sewing cloth tightly in his hands, spoke softly, "Mar..Marge? Margret  It's me, David. Would you like some juice? An om..omelette, perhaps? Oh, you do? Ha ha! You naughty girl, i can't cook. Its c..c..cold outside, Marge. Oh how my bones creak! You want some flowers? I'm going outside. You look pretty, Margret. K..keep sewing, i'll be back." Smiling and chuckling as he talked with gestures of hands, he stood up and leaning on his cane, approached the door. A gust of cold wind rushed inside the room as he opened it, and  smiled, " Yes, Marge, i heard you, some sunflowers too." Chuckling and talking as before, he trudged forward, closing the door behind him.

The constant fidgeting of birds in their dark recesses pointed towards the approach of  
dawn. With the passage of time, the stars grew dim and a  tinge of blue appeared in the sky, the snow fall also gradually lessened in it's intensity.

The old church bell rang out the hour with a mournful sound, as if it had grown sad from so much communing with the dead and unheeded warning to living; the fallen leaves rustled; the grass stirred upon the graves; all else was still and sleeping. 

Let sleep be the death of each day's life. 

And let the dreams be the canvas on which the dead paint their sorrows. 

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Fear in a handful of dust

Paris, France.

                     The Blue Ripples International Airways landed with a short bump and then slowly taxied its way on the runway towards the Charles De Gaulle airport. It was forty-five degrees in Paris, the sky a perfect, cloudless blue. The snow from the previous days had blanketed the whole airport. Frank Adkins of the British Embassy disembarked the plane and had simply no difficulty going through the corrugated disembarkation tube which linked the airport and with a slight, cunning expression on his face, he entered the security check.
Going through the security monitor he felt ostensibly anxious for some reason and after coming out of it he heaved a sigh of relief. Three policemen near the check point were talking to each other in a jovial kind of mood like a college student has when talking with his friends and when he came near them, the smile on their faces disappeared and changed into a slight frown. Their eyes were glued to his briefcase for some dim reason and in that frozen moment in time ,he really felt that there was something truly dreadful with his luggage and then, the inevitable happened. 
                                He was always scared of these moments since his childhood, and when one of the policemen yelled at him, he totally ignored him and kept on walking. The policemen then revealed his silenced Walther from the waist band at the small of his back and aiming on him said, ‘‘stop right now or I’ll shoot your head off! You understand?!” and then, at that very moment he seized his opportunity and darted to the door. He could hear the ricochets of bullets behind him but paid no heed to them and reaching at the door he almost stumbled, but had caught the handle of the door and rushed out.

               High above the street, a figure crouched on a flat rooftop, elbows atop the low parapet. He was holding a MR-k41 bolt action sniper rifle and his eyes peering through the sniper’s lens were focused on a particular target on the street. He took his Nokia cell phone from his olive green army holdall and after punching the redial button he placed it on his ear. In a deep, hoarse voice he said something in Russian, and after listening for sometime, he put his phone away and looked through the sniper’s lens. The figure on the rooftop shifted his gaze for a moment to see if someone was looking at him or not, capturing everyone like a mega pixel camera. People of all shapes, sizes, religions, walking, staring mindlessly, standing undecided, lounging, slouching, smoking, getting on and off vehicles, talking to one another, plugged into I pods, shopping, eating on the run, kissing goodbyes, cuddling, arguing, saying bad words, forgetful, cell phones glued to their ears, hunched, drunk, fighting with one another, first- date embarrassments and mumbling to themselves. Suddenly his gaze was distracted by the bellowing and yelling of the people on the street. He quickly peered through his sniper’s lens and found his target running with the cops on his tail. Aiming on his target he shot one, two, three times and then stopped. Madness began. 

Frank was running on the sidewalk with all the strength he had albeit his legs were killing him, but was suddenly grabbed by the lapels of his trench coat and was pulled inside a dark alley beside the sidewalk. His stomach churned up and was in a knot, fear surged through him but when he looked closely in the eyes of the man who pulled him in; he saw to his surprise that it was a girl. A short, middle-aged girl with a pale face and dark eyes. He was about to open his mouth to speak but she grabbed his arm and led him towards the door with a sign post that said ‘Hades inn’.

                     Inside it was dull and overriding, two large fans revolving in a low ceiling. There were several booths against the walls, a scattering of marble topped tables across a floor with black and white tiles. There were high stools on the long mahogany bar, bottles on glass shelves against the mirror behind. A large, handsome black man with graying hair was constantly polishing glasses, Tom Curry, the barman. Only two people were sitting at the darkest corner of the room, talking discreetly amongst each other. The girl stiffened her grip on his arm and as they came near those men on the table, her hand was slowly turning into a tight fist as though she was about to hit them but she suddenly relieved herself and stepped back from him as if it was his turn  to go in the noose. The man with the broad shoulders stood up, his face calm, and looked at him, “What’s your name, old son?”, he asked him, there was a hint of Russian  in his accent and calming himself, he replied, “ Frank, sir, Frank Adkins”. The man with the broad shoulders nodded in satisfaction and sat down. Frank hesitated for a moment and then sat down, putting his briefcase between his legs. The man removed his cap, and ran a hand nervously over his hair which he’d dyed black and then turned to him. “The name’s Melvin, Melvin Strauss. I’m the head of the DCRI here, that’s French intelligence. The thing that concerns me is the briefcase that you’re carrying, nothing else”. Frank swallowed hard enough to choke himself up, then replied with ease, “my personal belongings are in that case sir”. Melvin patted vigorously on the shoulder of the man sitting at his side and said angrily, “even though my brother here doesn’t speak English but is quite efficient with weapons, and so, if you refuse to answer me, he wouldn’t hesitate a moment to blow your kneecap off, you understand!” At that moment, his brother took out the silenced Beretta from the pocket of his overcoat, took out the magazine, checked it, and then rammed it home. He was thunderstruck, beads of sweat came trickling down his forehead, his throat became dry,   and before he could reply, a huge, blunt instrument struck his head, and in minutes, everything seemed to drown into the abyss. 

“Goddamnit!” shouted the man on the rooftop, and kept on cursing himself while he was collecting his gear, and then stood up, picked up his army holdall, and proceeded towards the stairs, the rifle slung on his chest. He took out the cell phone from his jacket, punched the redial button, listened for a while and then closed it. He had failed his mission; he knew that pretty well, his career, his fame, was now all drowned just because of one silly mistake. He went to the curb on the road, and amidst the huge furor on the street, he waved to the van that was approaching him, slid open the door and jumped in. “So how’d it go, me ould son?” came a voice from the front. “It went as planned”, he replied and sat back, relaxed on his seat as the van started to move. “To tell you the truth, if I were you, I would never lie in front of my boss”, the man said. “Go to hell!”  Came the reply to him from the back, and at that moment, some hands grabbed him from the rear, the man in the front turned around in his seat, raised his gun, and shot him between the eyes, killing him instantly.

Frank was all of a sudden shaken from his reverie with the sound of the keys that were rattling in the door. He opened his eyes and saw that he was situated in a room not big from his own, and had seen better days. The only light coming in the room was from the window above him that was too far to reach. The door flung open with a bang, and he saw two men appear in reefer coats, coming towards him. At the sight of those men, he stood up, went back a few steps and then lurched at them, hands crawling on their skin with a fierce anger that was beyond their control and then, one of the men divulged a Walther PPK with a Carswell  silencer from his coat, and the other one punched him hard in the kidneys that made Frank lose all his strength, and crying in agony, he fell on the floor on one knee. All of a sudden, the fluorescent bulbs above him were opened, letting out light that penetrated into his sullen eyes, weakening him, and illuminating the whole room. The man with the gun had now concealed it in his coat, pulled a chair in front of him, and sat on one himself. “Have a seat Mr. Frank; we have some real questions that need some straight answers, okay? Now straighten up and be a good lad, and by the way, Erich’s the name”. Frank stood up and sat on the chair given by Erich, and after glaring at them furiously for some while, he said wryly, “Is that a fact, now?” 
                     “I’ll give the spanking of your life, you cheeky old bastard! Do as he says!” bellowed the man beside Erich with enraged fury in reply to Frank’s statement, and lurched forward in an attempt to hit him but Erich got in his way and grabbing him by his collar,  took him to the corner and said in his ear discreetly, “ you get out of this Johnson, don’t spoil this one now, we can catch the fish when its still in the bloody net, you understand?” “Fair enough”, replied Johnson, his face red with anger. Frank glanced at Johnson and noticed the prominent scar on his face that ran from the corner of his eye to his nose, which along with his long hair gave him altogether a more sinister look. 

“Sorry for that, that’s my brother, he can get stupid sometimes, especially when it comes to interrogation. Anyways, where was I now?”

“The damn questions! Now don’t get all Gestapo with me here, okay?” Frank frowned and lit a cigarette from the Zippo lighter provided by Erich that now dangled from the corner of his mouth.

“Ah yes, so, how did you happen to come to Paris?” asked Erich, a sly smile dancing on his lips.

“Paris?  Well, obviously for vacation!” Frank answered back thoughtfully. 

“Okay, then would you care to tell me that why, on a vacation like this, would you be carrying a aluminum briefcase comprising of two .32 AK assault rifles and a Belgian automatic, which I’m afraid would be your only luggage?” inquired Erich, a slight ironic smile had now appeared on the corner of his mouth.
      Frank sat facing him motionless and in complete horror, his face pale, he tried to speak but nothing came out, actually felt his bowels move, and so, he ran his hands on his face, straightened up, and then, looking at Erich, he told him the worst, stuttering in between. After hearing what he wanted to, Erich took out his silenced Walther from his coat, and aiming at Frank he said merrily, “ all’s well that ends well, my friend”, and then, the last thing Frank heard was the laughing of those people as the Walther coughed once, swaying Frank on one side, his eyes staring into oblivion. 

    John Hopkins was making scrambled eggs and sausages in his kitchen and was humming the Tchaikovsky’s 6th symphony simultaneously, when the phone rang, he cursed at whoever it was, then went over to answer it. 
“John here, who is it?” 

“It’s me Carter, something bad has happened, Johnny boy”, there was a slight pause, he sighed, and then continued, “Frank blurted it all out. He's dead. Gunshot wound.”  

“Holy God!” exclaimed John, and then the line went dead.

He stood there with the receiver still in his trembling hands, thinking of it all, replaced it, then went to his door, he paused for a second to hear the rain that was still drumming relentlessly against the roofs, got his rain coat on, opened his umbrella and went out. The rain increased the intensity of cold and was followed by a loud peal of thunder. A few gunshots and shrieks were also heard outside but were soon drowned in the ascending  sound of thunder and rain. Inside the house, the phone rang for several times and then stopped.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Fear is the key

                 (Written when in grade ninth)          
 "Boom!" Every thing suddenly went quiet; there was a blast nearby the prison and the guards darted towards it. I sat gazing at the pitch-black wall thinking what to do with only a strip of light coming through the open window. I was tightly tied with ropes on the chair and suddenly I saw something gleaming in the darkness and could not make what it was but when I looked closely, I saw that it was a key, which had fallen from the guards pocket when he ran to examine the blast.

                            Somehow I loosened and freed myself from the taut ropes, picked up the key and went into the guard’s room to find some kind of weapon to defend myself in case there is a need. I delved thoroughly, under the table, in the closet, everywhere one could imagine them to be, but had failed to find one. Suddenly, I heard some disturbance outside the door and so, I looked around, spotted an opened window, dashed towards it, and then jumped out. The guards had started searching for me and had even alerted the police. They opened the cages of the guard dogs, which barked constantly and started to sniff for my trail. All of a sudden, I heard the policemen coming and surrounding the prison. I was wearing a white outfit of some kind that could easily be seen, so I stuck close to the wall, found a stinky drain and lowered myself in it. The mud in the drain camouflaged my dress, enabling me to escape unseen. Gradually, the morning light was trying to come through the emerging clouds. Half stumbling, I moved towards the riverbank and ahead of me loomed a forest. I could still hear behind me the noise made by the guards and the dogs that were persistently looking for me. In order to hide quickly from them, I started running towards the forest through the clearing. The winds were now wailing fiercely and the dark clouds had simultaneously engulfed the entire sky leaving the valley enveloped into its gloominess. My clothes were all torn  because of the thorns in the bushes that kept getting in my way, and the legs were killing me with a pain that would not recede away, due to which I was dying with thirst. It was just the beginning of my journey as a fugitive and the desire to continue on my run was fast receding. After a long run of I don’t know how long, I slipped and crumbled down on the sandy ground. With no more energy left, I tried to slumber for a while; the sharp chilled wind that was perpetually hissing and sighing around me was now making me sick and weaker. The thirst was now, after a long wait getting intolerable, so I got to my feet and with a great struggle, started hunting for water.

                             After a while I found a stream which was gently flowing by, I immediately dove into it and lay over the smooth water, lapping and sucking it like an animal. The weakness in me slowly ebbed away and I was feeling a little stronger, after that, I started walking on the path that would eventually help me to escape. I was going on and on in the torn clothes but could scarcely see any village or town nearby where I could find shelter. There was still some strength left in me and so, with that intention, I took a step forward and then suddenly the area around me became all blurred and gloomy. There was dizziness in my head and I fell to the floor lying unconscious. 

        The sun was almost out and as usual, looked ageless as ever. There was a tall man, half- bald, with a big moustache, standing a few steps away from him when he heard someone rustling ahead of him. He threw away his scissors, with which he was cutting the shrubs, took out a Walther from his waist at the small of his back, and slid into the darkness of the trees, waiting. After waiting for some moments, he gave up and proceeded towards the place from where the sound emanated. On observing who it was he recoiled back, his face aghast. Dropping the Walther on the ground he ran as fast as he could, never looking back. Madness began.

The Last Train

(Written when i was in grade eighth) 

'The station is ominous at midnight
 Hope is a dead letter

No local trains now
Long since departed

No way of getting back 
To where you started'

"All those people who are going in the 747 Kehkashan train to Bombay should be ready as it is arriving in three minutes, thank you", blasted the speakers with a female voice. I was in the bathroom of Chagnai National Railway station of Calcutta washing the beads of sweat on my face and..thooooknooskshtsshthshth...the train had arrived.
Madness began.
I started shuffling my clothes here and there in the rusted brown suitcase and dashed out of the dilapidated bathroom. Was there something missing? oh no! My other briefcase!
Startled, i started asking the people who were sitting beside where i left my briefcase, but they weren't replying me back as their headphones were glued to their ears, engrossed in their own world of music. I frantically ran here and there in the frenzy of madness but to no avail and suddenly, the train gave it's melancholy, hooting horn, its final wail and left off.

i shook my head in dismay and lingered for the next train for which i had booked, and by that time, almost all of the people had left. i continued my search for the briefcase in every nook and corner of the station and hadn't the vaguest idea where it was.
i felt uneasy because of two things : firstly, my briefcase which was never to be found and the time of the train which was to come. Abruptly, the lights went out. Everything became dark and melancholy and complete silence reigned in the station. Only the hissing and sighing of the wind from the windows above were audible. i then saw, from the corner of my eye, some lights ahead and there it was, the last train.
BANG! BANG! There were two deafening gunshots and the people who were there screamed their lungs out and ran frantically. The boom of the gunshots rooted me to my spot and i stood where i was. Unexpectedly, the lights came back again and what i saw ahead confirmed my fears. Fears that i had dreaded. There was a many lying on the floor beside the train, drenched in his own pool of blood. It was the conductor!
There was an intruder here, i mused, and darted towards the train which was leaving, taking a last glance at the ill-fated scene that i had witnessed. I was deeply engrossed in my thoughts, thinking about the intruder or murderer or whoever it was, and then regrettably, i craned my head back and took a sharp glance at the people sitting on the back seats. The train was empty, i thought, except for four or five people at the back who i just saw, wearing jet-black suits and smoking cigarettes. i had a suspicious feeling about them and thought to inquire them about what happened just now but as i looked back again, they were gone. As if they had read my mind. As i stood up and turned to walk towards their seats, a heavy, blunt instrument crashed down on my skull and i fell on the floor, lying unconscious.
When i opened my eyes, i was lying on the floor, barely able to breath, and could hear a faint, raspy voice coming from somewhere, " thinking of outrunning the world, eh? We're alone now, time for some action, buddy". i stood up at that voice and started searching for the man. I limped here and there in the labyrinth of corridors and suddenly,"beep. beep. beep". The ticking beep of the time bomb resulted in an adrenaline of rush flowing through my veins. In the frenzy of fear i broke the glass window with my foot and plunged out. "BHOOOOM!" The train disjointed as a beast tears its prey, limb from limb, and the debris plummeted towards the earth at breath-taking speed. Smoke and fire rose to great heights and i fell on the floor with a 'thud', having both my legs fractured. The scene was strangely familiar, i mused. i groaned as excruciating pain shook my whole body and slipped into unconsciousness again.
When i opened my eyes, i had a blurred vision of two or three people standing beside me, holding tongs. My mind was in a kaleidoscopic whirl of thoughts and i had no idea if i even existed. Where and who was the murderer? Am i still alive? Where am i? Whats happening? These thoughts kept circulating through my brain but it was all over, it was a miracle, i thought, and smiled.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Music from the dying embers

The pen danced away, writing and re-writing the same paragraph again and again until it smote his heart and rivulets of tears rolled down his cheeks and trickled down on his paper. Deeming this as an appropriate ending, he folded the paper and kept it in his breast pocket.
 Wiping his eyes with his frail, wrinkled hands, he stood up from his chair and approaching the dusty, grimy window of his room, peeped out. Watching the din and tumult of the crowded street in the high tide of its occupation was a  favorite past time of the old man and he loved the myriad of sounds which eventually blended themselves into a fugue of excitement. That constant pacing to and fro, that incessant tread of feet wearing the rough stones smooth and glossy --is it not a wonder how the dwellers in these narrow streets can bear to hear it! Throngs of people hurried by in opposite directions, with no indication of stopping or exhaustion, intent upon their own affairs, the roar of carts and wagons and the stamping of horses' feet upon the greasy pavement, all pointed towards the approach of dusk, which meant the shops were to be closed.  Watching the faces of those who passed by was another favorite amusement of his. Some frowned, some smiled, some made slight gestures, some wore a cunning look of plotting, some were anxious and eager and some were dull and slow. Startled by the sound of the clock as it struck the hour was like a departed sound to him, and sighing explosively, he walked towards his arm chair and sank in it. Outside, the wind began to moan in hollow murmurs, as the sun went down carrying day elsewhere, a train of dull clouds followed it and heralded the coming of thunder and lightening. 

The bright fire in the hearth cast a glow upon his face. The unkempt, fuzzy hair, wrinkled face with a prominent mole on the chin, eyes that were half closed and numerous lines scattered on his forehead completed the picture of a man who loved solitude and seldom interacted with anyone. Gazing into the fire, he started humming a half-remembered tune as if he pictured a scene from his childhood. An unexpected knock upon the door shattered his reverie into thin wisps of smoke.

"Confound you! Who is it?" bellowed the old man, craning his neck.

" Its really cold and damp outside, sir, and i have no lodgings for the night, can i stay here please? If you would be so kind." 

Spoke a tremulous, meek voice from the half opened door, trembling entirely. Straining his eyes and observing a childish figure clad in tattered, wet garments, he corrected himself and calling her to himself, gave her a few warm blankets to wrap herself in, and made her sit on a chair near the hearth.

"My apologies, ma'am. i'm not accustomed to invite strangers into my house", said the old man in a friendly tone.

"Its quite alright, sir, my name is Nelly", came the reply from the girl, a faint smile spreading on her face at the old man's hospitality.

Gaining his former position on his chair, he resumed staring into the fire -- with an attention of fixed earnestness. The puzzled girl, being sufficiently warmed up by this time and yawning prodigiously at intervals, ventured to break the deafening silence which had reigned in the room and inquired about his strange manner of looking into the fire. A deep frown spread on the face of the old man at this interruption and he turned towards her in vexation, but his frown soon relaxed into a cheerful smile as he thought of the child. Bending forward, he shifted the coals in the hearth with a poker and spoke in a soft voice, " nobody likes me and leaves me to myself. They know my humor  See over there -- that's my friend.".

"The fire?" said the child.

"It has been alive as long as i have", the old man made answer, "we talk and think together all night long." 

The child glanced at him in bewilderment but he kept looking in his former direction, musing as before.

"Its like a book to me", he said, "the only book i ever learned to read; and it tells me many old stories. Its music, for i should know it's voice among a thousand, elevates my mood and makes me happy. It has it's pictures too. You don't know how many strange faces and different scenes i have seen in the red-hot coals. It's my memory, the fire, shows me my whole life."
The crackle of the coals being engulfed by the fire and the glow from the dying embers brought a smile on his lips, and his eyes sparkled with tears. On turning towards the child and seeing that she snored peacefully in her calm repose, he chuckled discreetly and added, "oh yes, many an old story it tells me, does the fire yonder." 

Here, the old man closed his eyes and reclined in his chair, enjoying the serenity in the music from the dying embers, a faint smile still lingering on his lips.
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