Sunday, 31 March 2013

The Other Side (Flash Fiction)

He was quite groggy in the morning when he got up. Last night, the farewell-party had lasted too long. Although sleep-deprived, his spirits were high at the thought of the new job in a foreign country with the love of his life by his side. Life just could not get any better than this! He got into a taxi and headed for the airport. He did not know when he dozed off but he woke up to the sound of blaring horns. A crowd of people were gathered at a little distance away from him. He could also see an ambulance parked. He wondered how he had landed on the road. Without looking behind, he tried making his way through the crowd. They had surrounded a broken down taxi. The bonnet of the car was smashed and the bumpers were off. A taxi-driver lay dead on the ground. He recognized the driver – it was the same man who was driving him to the airport. He overheard the conversation of the people – there had been a terrible accident; both, the driver and passenger had died on the spot. He turned around to look at the passenger and was shocked to see his own body lying on the ground. He realized that the people could not see him, hear him or sense him. Surely this wasn’t real! He could not be dead!

As she waited for him at the airport, she could feel the butterflies in her stomach, fluttering around with excitement. The future that she had always anticipated was soon going to turn into reality. Her knight in shining armour, who had already swept her off her feet, was finally taking her away from home so that the two of them could begin a new chapter of life together. As the thought that she was leaving everything that she knew behind crossed her mind, her heart started feeling heavy. Letting go is never easy even if one knows for certain that a better life lies ahead…Giving up on things with which one is familiar is difficult, even if it causes one pain, because no fear is greater than the fear of the strange and the unknown. The idea of leaving behind her nagging parents that had initially seemed welcoming was now pricking her. What if the feeling of being alone appeared and started biting her? She quickly tried dismissing those thoughts. She knew that she wasn’t alone. He would always be there to hold her hand. A smile appeared on her face and her eyes lit up at the thought of him. Even if she was being invaded by feelings of emptiness and barrenness, his love would shower her, once again, with fulfillment and contentment.

His soul found her still at the airport. There was a crease of worry on her forehead and a frown on her face as she repeatedly dialled his number and found his phone not available. He wanted to speak to her but she could not hear the sound of his voice. He was a rain-cloud, held back behind the mountain of doom. She was a desert, aching for his touch, on just the other side…

Monday, 25 March 2013


I am walking down the cramped street that leads to a place I temporarily call home. The entire lane is bustling with people – people who are, probably, more actualized than I am, for they appear to be completely sure of where they are headed.  A part of me feels a tinge of jealousy. I wish I could walk like them with blinkers on. I feel lost and I can’t seem to focus. What troubles me more is the fact that I seem to enjoy being in this state – a part of me is secretly rejoicing at the thought that it has still not been found! As I get in touch with this part of me, another part begins its lament.

I am made up of all these parts. As a whole, I am much bigger than the sum of my parts – at least that is what Gestalt psychology would want me to believe – but if that is the case, why do I feel caught up in this tussle between the various parts of my personality? The voices in my head are constantly at loggerheads with one another – as one speaks, the other one analyses; when the other tries to make a point, the first part slashes it down with a long list of well-defined arguments. Both these parts belong to me but I find it really hard to play referee. Sometimes, life is not about making a list of pros and cons and judging which side outweighs the other.

Both these parts seem to be on opposing polarities. Is it possible for the same person to think on such extremes, I wonder. I am split in two; and each split part of me is sharing its own story. Which story is really mine? Which of the two parts is the real me? I am still to find answers to these questions.

I hide myself behind the curtains. I sneak a look at the mirror and see a reflection judging me. This same reflection is judging others too. I want to be neutral. I want an impartial view of things. But is that really possible? Am I asking for too much? After all, I am experiencing the world through my five senses – my five senses can only perceive the world as me and not anybody else. For a glimpse at another’s world, I would need to make use of their senses. We all make our own meanings out of the experiences that life bestows upon our way. This is the reason why I do not believe in a genre called ‘Non-Fiction’ even though it haunts me by silently crying out to me each time I visit a book-store. I do my best to not be lured into the trap – I know we are all just constructing our own realities; and some of us are trying to give it meaning by upgrading our experience of a perceived reality to an eternal truth.

I find it hard to believe that something is not fiction. I cannot write anything that is not autobiographical even though I have tried to do so a number of times. Detaching yourself from anything or anyone you are connected is not an easy task.  I am always dictated by my own perception of realities. You can try rationalizing with me but you might just end up becoming another voice, this time not in my head but in the field of my external reality. My senses will still continue to dominate and in the end, reason might just give up on me. Unfortunately, I tend to be ruled more by the heart than the head, these days.

I pay no heed to the suggestions that are hurled my way. Even though I pretend to shut my ears, I am still forced to listen. Some voices influence me more than others. Yes, I admit it – I am biased. I see no harm in preferring one thing over another. I am not the only one. Even your perceptions are coloured by your past. So, why am I the only one being judged? I admit that I am nothing more than an autobiography. When will you see who you really are?

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Pink With A Tinge Of Red, And Several Squawking Noises!

I hate waking up early in the mornings. Getting out of bed in the wee hours of morning is a Herculean task for me. This has been one of the reasons why I have been unable to catch sight of the flamingos that flock the Sewri bay in Mumbai between the months of November and March despite living in Mumbai for almost three years now. Every year, I heard some friend or the other ranting about their wonderful experience of sighting the migratory birds and this year, I decided that by hook or by crook, I would make it to the Sewri creek.

Making it there was no easy task. On three mornings, I could not force myself out of bed despite responding to the alarm-rings. I was informed that one can catch sight of the birds even at sunset - however, something or the other kept coming up and I was not able to make it to Sewri even in the evenings. Owing to my busy schedule, I could not even make time for the 'Flamingo Festival' that was organized by the BNHS.

Not one to give up on things once I have set my mind, I started researching and found out that flamingos arrive at the creek most frequently after the high tide. After finding out the high tide timings from a website which I hoped would be reliable, I concluded that there was no point in trying to wake up at 4:30 a.m. or 5 a.m. in the morning - even if I reached before 8:00 a.m. there was a good chance of me spotting the birds.

Today morning, I finally woke up at 6:00 a.m. Accompanied by a friend, we managed to make it to Sewri and we really hoped that it would be worth the effort; and guess what? It totally was!

As soon as we arrived at the swamp, we spotted hundreds of flamingos against the backdrop of the mangrove trees. I was quite mesmerized by the plethora of pink that greeted me.Watching the flamingos walking in line one behind the other, seeing them drinking the marshy water, and hearing their squawks was an exhilarating experience. They did not seem to be bothered by the human presence as they continued to engage in all the activities they were doing. Even though the sun was out, a pleasant breeze was blowing which made it easy for me to tolerate the heat. I clicked a number of pictures - I just could not get enough of this Pinkville!

The Indian Stork
An Egret
I had read that apart from flamingos, one also gets to see other species of birds at the Sewri creek. While looking out for the other species of birds was not on my personal agenda, an ornithologist, who happened to be present at the creek while we were watching the flocks of flamingos, helped us locate some of these other birds. I spotted an Indian Stork, some egrets, herons and even some kites. From a distance, the Indian Stork looked like the flamingos - it was only when we went closer and noticed it was white and not pink that we realized the difference.

I wanted to watch the flamingos taking flight before I left. My prayers were, miraculously, answered as we just started to leave. However, it happened very suddenly and I did not get a chance to get a good shot of these birds. The picture below is the only image that I managed to capture of them flying towards the horizon. I waited for some more time to get a better picture. However, the birds just remained at the creek after that, and seemed to be in no mood to take off - despite me screaming at them, "Fly, you funny, stupid birds! Fly!"

I wish to return to Sewri again, next year, and spot more birds, and, hopefully, take some better pictures. Next year, I hope to reach the place even earlier. Getting to the Sewri creek is not easy - my friend and I discovered that the road leading up to the creek from Sewri station is quite deserted, and filled with shady-looking men. We concluded that it's best to go there in the earlier hours of morning when there are more people who are assembled there to watch the birds. The later one goes, the fewer are the bird-enthusiasts, and the more difficult it is to return. We were lucky enough to get a lift back to the station from a couple. They were visiting the creek for the third time - on the last two occasions, they had not managed to spot the flamingos despite waiting patiently for over four hours. They felt extremely fortunate for having, finally, caught a glimpse of these birds. I guess good things always come to those who wait. It was one of those rare, pleasant mornings for me...The flamingos will stay in Mumbai until next week after which they will fly back to their original breeding grounds in the Rann of Kutch. So, if you do not want to wait until the month of November to spot these birds, it is best that you head to Sewri this week and allow the pats of flamingos to delight your senses. 

Monday, 11 March 2013


Weddings are a particularly noisy affair. This one was no different. A large number of guests had congregated at the courtyard that overlooked the huge, well-lit, mansion. They congratulated the bride and groom, admired the decorations, criticized the food arrangements – everything was just the way typical weddings are!

The children were also decked up in the fanciest of attires. However, instead of joining the adults on the dance-floor, they were more interested in playing amongst themselves. The entire house was empty and it became the venue for the game that they were about to play – hide-and-seek. The seeker closed his eyes and began the count from 1 to 100 while the rest of the children ran helter-skelter trying to hide in a place where they would not be easily found.
She ran up the stairs until she reached the third floor that led to a room which opened up to the terrace. She was quite smart for a nine year old – she figured that by the time the seeker reached the last floor of the house, he would have already found her other friends and cousins, and she would be the winner. When she reached the room, it wasn’t empty. Her neighbour’s uncle was sitting there, with a glass of whiskey in his hand.

“What are you doing here, uncle?” she asked.
He explained that he was expecting an important call and, therefore, was in the house so that he would not miss hearing the phone ring. She heard the gleeful screams of a few children on the ground floor. “Quick! I don’t have much time,” she squealed. “I need to hide!” He told her to sit down quietly and make no noise. He, then, turned off the lights and carefully made his way back to the sofa. She had not caught his evil gleam in the darkness nor had she heard him silently bolt the door from inside. It was dark and she could not see a thing. “Don’t be scared,” he whispered. “I am here.” She merely nodded her head and sat still. Suddenly, she felt his hand on her mouth and in a soothing, hushed voice, he said, “Don’t worry. You will enjoy this game – it is called dark room.” Something about his syrupy-sweet voice spooked her but she just sighed in compliance – she loved playing games; after all she was just another child. The other children searched for her in the house but finding the door of the third floor locked, they went down to look for her in other spaces. Her choked voice gave no hint of her presence. As his fingers brushed through her entire body from under her clothes, she experienced shivers. She did not like what was happening but she did not cry for help. She could not. The brutal monster abused her body despite her silent, fervent, prayers begging him to stop.
Even when he, ultimately, stopped, she, still, did not feel the same. Her body continued to ache while her mind was terrorized with fear. He made her swear that she would not tell anyone – this game was their little secret. She nodded in agreement, blinking her eyelids rapidly to stop the tears that were about to trickle down her face. She had not enjoyed this one bit – she had no intention of playing this game with any of her friends.

She trudged down the staircase only to be hounded by some of the children, who, still had been looking for her. “Where were you hiding?” they asked. “You are the winner of this round!” She did not know how to answer them. On seeing her silent and subdued, they merely shrugged their shoulders, “Fine! Don’t tell us if you don’t want to!”
The new seeker began her count. Once again, the children started looking for places to hide themselves. She hid with the other children. This time, she did not want to become the winner of the game. One always has to pay a heavy price for winning – on that fateful day, that was the lesson that she learnt. 

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Free Association

The alarm rings and I reach to hit the ‘Snooze’ button with a big groan. The extra five minutes of sleep are not really enough to arm me to wake up and face the world. Nevertheless, I put my feet on the ground and get out of bed. This is probably the only time of the day when you can proclaim, with assured guarantee, that I will not be having a smile on my face.

I brush my teeth and switch on the geyser. In the mornings, I feel too lazy to bathe and I try dawdling as much as I can. I grab the newspaper and amuse myself by reading just one particular column and some comic strips – yes, that is all I read! Don’t let the quantity of two newspapers delivered at my door-step every morning, with all the supplements, deceive you!

I switch on my laptop and visit Facebook. I like this book of faces. I like playing games with some of these faces. I like spying on some of these faces. I like the Facebook memes. I like the Facebook Likes! I am glad that Facebook allows me to “share”. Believe me, I am a very generous person!

I realize I can procrastinate no more. I push myself to get ready. Fifteen minutes is all it takes. I leave the house looking the best I can with my clothes, accessories, and the theme of my Windows Phone, all, colour-coordinated and matching. If you find it hard to believe that all this can be achieved in such a short while, I’m afraid that is your problem!

 It’s just a two-minute walk from my house to the station but it takes me longer. I like to look at the people I pass. My thoughts seem to wander instead of focusing on the road. Even though I take the same road, I always find new things to wonder about. The railway platform is just as fascinating and even more colourful. Most people hate the train journeys in Mumbai. I do not mind. I like travelling. It helps me know the world. It helps me know myself. More importantly, it allows me to Tweet, check-in, update my status, and, basically, tell the world what I am doing now!

On some occasions, a sudden text from an unexpected loved one lifts up my spirits. Not that my spirit needs any kind of lifting…On most days, I am way too high on happiness for my own good! But then, what is life without love? It’s like watching The Big Bang Theory without Sheldon (or Dr. Sheldon Cooper, as he likes to be called)…And The Big Bang Theory without Sheldon is like…well, nothing! Ironically, the Big Bang Theory states that out of nothing, everything was formed…but then, let us not distract ourselves with these sudden diversions of thoughts…

What? You are finding it hard to see where I am going with this post? How does it matter? Is it always necessary to know one’s destination when one ventures out on a journey? Sometimes, it’ll be nice if we just allow ourselves to flow. Allow your thoughts to flow. Why does one always insist on connections? Are you and I connected? Despite technology’s repeated attempts at making us believe otherwise, tell me, honestly, are you truly connected with anyone?

If you were here for the first time, by now, you will know that I talk a lot. If you’ve been here before, you could say that I’ve, probably, started talking even more. “These are all your perceptions! I don’t really care about the world!” is what I usually declare except that it isn’t always true. Inside, I am still screaming, tattered and crushed about the fact that I was judged, and perhaps, wrongly. But it’s a cruel world and I am a brave girl. The smile on my face defeats all your attacks. This smile on my face will never fade; and trust me when I tell you that; I am not someone who will be caught unaware. I completely believe in taking things at face-value even if that attitude goes against my profession. Looks can be deceiving but I really enjoy the game – you deceive me and I will deceive you. In the end, we are all just deceiving our own selves. There is no ‘you’ just like there is no ‘I’.

As you can see by now, this rant can go on endlessly. However, I shall have mercy on your soul and put an end to this jibber-jabber now. Feel free to “like” or make your presence felt in any other way; you also have the choice to meander to other spaces in the virtual world, pretending as if you were never here. Life is still beautiful.