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Insanely Inane Thoughts

If fate doesn't make you laugh, you just don't get the joke.

5:04 local

Thursday, February 09, 2006
Repost of an earlier blog; retouched slightly.

She refused to answer my question even as the slow local pulled in towards the station, half-mired in shade and half in the glow of the setting sun. Hundreds of commuters thronged towards it as if it was their ticket to heaven. Passengers in the train held onto their seats for dear life till the train stopped completely. Some foolish, albeit brave, souls who had dared to stand by the gangway were treated as tackling bags by the horde of humanity who swept into the train even before it grounded to a halt.

In spite of having a first-class and a second-class bogey, rush hour made a mockery of this distinction. In times like these, the only difference between a "first" and a "second" was the coat of paint.

I stood guard by one side of the door and gestured at her to get in. She leapt into the compartment as men around her pressed into each other in an attempt to capture a seat. Getting seats on the train was almost next to impossible so we took the next best alternative and stood by the door.

People jostled for space; elbows spoke where voices failed. She leant back on the support while I stood facing her, holding onto the bar over her head.

An opportunistic vendor tried coaxing weary commuters to buy the evening tabloid. Someone sought him out; loose change clanged onto the floor. Swearing ensued but the train nipped the fight in its bud .It chimed once; the vendor picked up his change and made his way towards the exit. The train lurched forward, groaning under the weight of the bustling city. People shouted at him as he jumped off the moving train and landed on the platform.

A cell phone rang somewhere while others stared at each other morosely. Papers rustled in unison as gossip was gobbled up earnestly. I asked the person next to me to haul my bag onto the storage plank. He glared at me before acceding to me grudgingly.

"Your bag?” I asked her. She shook her head slowly; my arms relaxed. I stared out of the train as it passed a plethora of gymkhanas thinking of whether I should ask her again. I turned to look at her only to find her eyes burning into mine. She raised her eyebrows as if in question. I couldn’t help but notice the way her raven hair, cut short, grew beautifully away from her forehead. I grinned sheepishly and looked out again.

The train slowed down as it approached a station. People pushed against each other almost willing to fell the folks by the door. They held on resolutely, just as they clung onto their drab existence in this spawning megalopolis. The train halted, thoughts broken.

"Hato, hato," people chided. Others weren't as polite; they pushed their way out irrespective of whether you wanted out or not. And to make this milieu more exciting, commuters waiting to board to train would rush in like an unstoppable tsunami Men struggled against each other, life repeats itself.

I got shoved from all sides but still managed to retain my place. I grabbed hold of her bag and she held onto my arm gingerly. The train threatened to rumble to life only to go silent again. Grumbling voices enveloped us; suddenly it felt like we were in an alien city. A guttural cry brings to my attention the plight of pickpocket who got caught. He is thrown out of the train unceremoniously with a good number of bruises.

Sweat trickles down the back of the gladiators as the train finally distanced itself from the site of such indemnity. That it has to endure the sight of people living by her steely path was another question altogether.

She released my hand; I let the bag fall against her.

Pretentious adults talk loudly; some snickered at them while the rest stared into oblivion. The sun, akin to peaches dripping opium, sputtered stray rays onto the train. Papers rustled again: this time to offer protection from the intruding sun.

A small boy tugged against my shirt and held out his arms in anticipation. I studied the boy; detached. Runny nose highlighted grime; disheveled hair; a token cloth he called a shirt. He scratched his head obligingly; dirt has made a haven under his nails. He then cried; whether a performance or not, I shall not know; and fell onto my feet.

Begging. For money or a life, we shall not know.

People around me shooed him away but not before I managed to give him some money. He face lit up with joy as he pocketed his alms. She touched my arm gently and my face flushed. I felt confused.

Was it because of her ere or because in spite of her?

I turned to her and asked her again. She simply looked at me and smiled. It frightened yet reassured me at the same time.

The train slowed down yet again. The kid made his way between the legs of the gladiators; little spy, they called him. He got off the train with that smile still on his face. I breathe again.

People came; I held her bag as she clutched at my arm; and people went. The train lurched forward like a hardened warrior. I let go off the bag.

She doesn't let go off my arm.

Shadows of our mind

Sunday, February 05, 2006
Carmelle sighed, easing back from the letter while setting her pen on the table. She rubbed her temples and looked towards the window. The pitter-patter of the raindrops against the windowpane dispelled the quiet within the room. Her eyes followed the raindrops, which were washing away the grime from the window. If only it were so easy, she thought. The storm had knocked out the power and the room was dark, but for the candles.

She closed her eyes and stayed still for a while, seemingly asleep, but then started. She had found sleep hard to come by, but even more so on the days Mark was at home. It had been one such night when he had come back home, drink in his breath, and found her sleeping. She stopped knitting the tiny sweater, which was half done, after a visit to the clinic the next day.

Carmelle rubbed the sleep out of her eyes and looked at the sweater she had abandoned then. It was now almost complete. The candles flickered, casting shadows on the empty walls. Battling demons of their own, she imagined wryly.

She picked up the pen and continued writing the letter to her mother. She wouldn’t get it, of course, because Carmelle never sent them out to her. The last one she had mailed was on the day before her first miscarriage. But that didn't matter now because Carmelle knew it would be read by her in the place she had moved into now.

… some days, he didn’t even return home. Those days are few and far between now so one would say that he is getting better. We are trying to have a baby again, Ma. He still feels guilty about that day. He swears he will stay on the wagon and I believe him….

A gust of wind rattled the window, breaking her concentration. Carmelle craned her neck towards the door and stared. A few moments passed before she looked away from the unmoving lock. She stared at the words and her lips quavered. The words came easily but the tears should have been easier still.

The flames hovered over the photo by the table, gushing about the time when she had no trouble believing. She was smiling at Mark, who held her heart with tenderness. Her heart, bundled in layers of blue, slept through the idyllic moment. Now all that remained was bundles of rag and a piece of gloss trapped under the suffocating plastic.

As she forayed further into the letter, her hand ran over the bulge on her stomach. She winced as her fingers slowed over the stretches of her past and the raw oceans of blue. Pearls of time slid down her cheek and formed a necklace of emotions over the scribbled paper. She knew that she was no longer the captain of a boat that was being tossed perpetually over the waves. They had finally worn her down.

…and yesterday, he came back home later than usual. There was the usual discussion about this and he started shouting. It was the first time in a few months he had shouted at me, and whenever he shouts…

Carmelle pressed the nib once too deeply and the words flooded the paper. Her letter, once full of life and promise, now stood drenched without meaning. Carmelle shut the book and limped towards the kitchen, grimacing at every step. She poured herself a glass of water and tipped it past her cut lips. She had taken a fall again; just like she always did in her eyes. She mumbled in the dark. Her pen might have started to run dry but she continued writing the letter, fearful of letting go of the only friend she had.

Hope.

Carmelle slid into bed and her head hit the lumpy pillow. The breath came slow and steady but there was no rhythm to be matched tonight. Her gaze wandered over the wall above their bed, flitting back towards the peeling patch of paint that had always been there.

How could I have not seen it before, she wondered.

As her eyes grew heavier and the shadows conspired, the candles flickered for the last time before giving in to the darkness they had kept at bay for so long.

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