Morning chores

hallucination-chris-butler

I woke up with an ache in my head. The floor was cluttered with empty cans of beer and cigarette stubs. The dank stink of smoke still clung in the air. I opened a window to let the room breathe. On my bed did lay a body, crumpled, with the sheet rising and falling. Her long black hair spread out into a chaos of waves. Her face and body was covered by the sheet, with her bare limbs poking out. I felt a growing tenderness in my heart. She was very dear.

I set the coffee to brew and put on some light music. The cans clanged as I collected them in a plastic bag and put them in the trash. The toaster made an angry metallic click as the aroma of freshly hot bread filled the room. I applied butter to the toast and sipped some coffee, black. She still lay huddled in the bed. I did not disturb her; didn’t have the heart to.

I was checking my messages when there was a knock at the door. I opened it. My girlfriend was standing outside. She had downcast eyes with a forlorn look. She looked up at me and asked how I was keeping. I said good. She wanted to know why I wasn’t answering her phone calls. I didn’t know how to answer that. I just hadn’t felt like. But then I couldn’t say it, could I. She genuinely cared and I did in turn too. She asked if she could come in. I moved aside to make way.

The room was clean, bright, the bed unoccupied. I looked around to see where she had gone. I could find her nowhere. My girlfriend sat on the bed, looking at my quizzical face. She looked worried. She said, ‘Your mom called. She said you were seeing her again. You know they are hallucinations right. Not real.’ I said that I know. But then, when they happen they do seem real. Is it wrong to see her, feel her presence, even if not real. I did not say any of this. I didn’t want to have her bothered. I sat by her side and said I will eat the medicines. I just wanted some time to feel whole again, with my sister.

She said she understood. She nodded towards the medicine. I went and popped four pills; drowned it with another gulp of coffee. And sat down, beside, on the bed. A little while later there was another knock at the door. I said come in. And my girlfriend entered, looking worried. She wanted to know why I wasn’t taking her calls. Surprised, I turned to the spot on the bed where she was supposed to be sitting. It was empty. I slowly turned again, toward her, still by the doorway, and set out a long painful sigh.

The town fair

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The kid was wearing brown boots. His eyes simmered with the kind of hope that only innocence can offer. He had the string of a green hot-air-balloon pinched tight between his thumb and index finger. With the balloon bobbing in the evening breeze, he walked around alone, checking the various curiosities the town fair had to offer.

As he turned round a corner, by the alley behind the tent with the fortune-teller, the kid came across a boy with his tongue in the mouth of a girl. They were definitely kissing, but he thought they were doing it wrong. The lips should touch the cheeks and the tongue definitely stays safely inside one’s own mouth! Lost to the novelty of this gross spectacle, the kid’s grip on the string loosened which sent the balloon flying.

The balloon climbed, first with a sense of immediacy, and then with a lugubrious slowness as the air within began to cool and it reached a height where the air outside was equally dense and it could rise no further. An ambitious sparrow in the hope of setting a new record for highest flight amongst its clan blinked at the green round shiny thing at head-level ahead. It swerved right and gave it a miss. But given its meek nature, it thought better to take the green thing for a predator that inhabits those particular heights and started making a quick descent to inform its clan of this new discovery.

It flew in a straight line, glidding, cutting through the wind, toward the thicket at the end of a bridge over the river that ran north of the town. Arriving at its nesting site, it set a chirrupy chatter that was picked up by a lone bloke standing on the bridge beside, staring down into the water flowing in swirling turbulent eddies. He was tired, despondent with despair. His parrot had died, he had lost his favourite pebble, his parent’s were having a divorce, and his best friend had gone to the fair without him. He felt alone, lost, and weary. Yearning for love but feeling barricaded all around he wanted to jump down the bridge into the water and end it all.

He made up his mind, climbed the safety railing, and looked up to say goodbye to the world just when a green round something glittered in the sky above. Against the orange shade of the evening twilight, the green formed a pretty harmony of colours, and queerly it seemed to grow bigger with time. He let his gaze follow its flight as it descended from the sky, still hovering in the air, moving in slow stutters toward the town.

Forgetting his original intent, the kid got down the railing and broke into a cheery gallop to where the green round shiny thing was to land. He would get it, and will run to his friend to share with him his find.

And thus, there occurred a town fair such, once, afar!

Amidst the chaos of life..

rainforest

The rain pattered on the leaves, as

through the mutiny of colors, green

brown and nutmeg, blew a chilling breeze.

Drenched, dripping wet, yet

sporting a beaming smile, you stroll

through life, plush with aplomb.

The trees, the beasts, arboreal

volant, fossorial, and piscine,

stir amidst the other.

While in witness, you behold your bounding

heart, that’s beating within with relish

at this nature’s call, and grip tight

The hand, coarse tough rippled with

veins, as you stand testimony to the

chaos of life, together, in harmony.

Cheese-burst pizza, starry sky, and cogitative overflow

pizzaThe slice of pizza was dripping cheese. It’s buy-one-get-one-free at dominos today, thus this pact of momentary friendliness with this random stranger. You had walked into the campus eatery which has a dominos kiosk. It’s a lazy Saturday; the sun is dipping down the horizon, and your body aches from the bout of basketball from a moment before. You came alone, as you often find self, and while intently running the topping varieties and flavor-types against their stated price, you felt a gentle poke. Assuming it as just another strained muscle sighing, you ignore it and continue with your mental computation. The poke, a little more strong and lingering, recurs. As if to assuage the actomyosin fibers of the modest bulk in your right deltoid, you try to rub the region when long spindly fingers, soft, squishy, definitely feminine, get caught between your hand and your shoulder. You turn your long lugubrious post-match body to behold a pretty thing.

May the feminist readers not rise up in arms. The ‘pretty thing’ reference is not out of insensitive objectification, nor because of haughty demeaning arrogance. Rather, it’s just a gentle colloquial quip within, over a random fellow living ‘thing’, in plain purposeless assertion of the fact.

So returning to the narration, yes, she was pretty. Tall, svelte, with a healthy glow of soft nutmeg, her black locks sported what they call a layer-cut. Yeah, I have had ample feminine company in a once remote past when I was more socially involved to know what a layer-cut is. I am fond of its patterned break in symmetry. Her lips were moving as I was busy observing, admiring, and probably withholding a possible spike in heart rate that inevitably happens when a guy beholds a pretty girl; I know, petty biology and stuff. Breaking self from the trance, I tried to force focus on the words that those moving luscious lips were forming. As it started to make sense, though with a definite delay (blame the slowing of cogitation the palpitating heart had brought forth), it seemed she was suggesting we share the price and order a pizza, as we will then get another for free. Seemed a sane deal. I said sure, and  soon we found selves sharing two pizzas, both non-veg, and a bottle of coke at the open-air theatre that forms a comfortable retreat just beside to consume the sustenance, with a black starry sky forming the canopy.

No, it was no love at first sight. I have no faith in the concept of love. It’s an endearing artifice, an artifact of biological evolution, a lie if you may in plain simple terms. And also no, we didn’t have sex right after pizza. We were too full for some physical action. All we did was share a moment of our existence, and left carrying within us a little of the other. For, ideas communicated through conversations that get entrenched in memory accrue real physical change in one’s neural connectome. Put differently, while you are talking to someone, you are making change in their brain. Amazing isn’t it. And that is precisely what we did that night, making and breaking connections in the others brain.

people“I think it is a flawed premise to blame a guy as being superficial as because he likes a girl for her looks”, she said. Yes dear readers, it was the girl’s dialogue, and not this guy’s, as you might be bound to believe. While given the fact that she did have good looks and I did like her, her statement seems a motivated assertion well placed in context, patronizingly placed if to be put blunt and frank. But then, she followed her assertion with a reason that appealed. She said, “When you think about it, introspection is an illusion. While your like for certain things and dislike for some, your inclinations if you may, though totally real, your conscious consideration about the reason for those likes and dislikes needn’t be. And as it turns out, aren’t indeed. You might like an apple. But you do so because it smells good, tastes good, looks an alluring red, feels crunchy in texture, or just because of its oblong spheroid shape, is always a guess. Your stated reason for why you like an apple, needn’t be, and as it turns out, often quite isn’t, THE reason for your liking an apple. Now given that such introspective considerations are illusions, what wrong is in it to say you like a woman just because she looks good. Chances are, you like her for some reason else, but her looks is what you consciously think as to be the reason. Or rather, at the other extreme, you may think you like her because she is well-natured and open-minded, but your like stems from your inherent appreciation for her, let’s say, body odor. A totally sane contention wouldn’t you say.” And as if for dramatic effect, she smiled a broad beaming smile, and bit into her pizza spewing the cheese from within, a drop of which fell on her skirt. She wiped it with the tissue, and had a gulp of coke.

Beauty with brains is an enormously captivating company. But then, I did score in the top 0.1 percentile on the IQ scale. Her smarts gave me a high. And I couldn’t help myself joining in. “Your premise and the reason as for holds. But you oversaw a caveat in your chain of logic. One’s self-image. While the introspective reason for your inclinations may sure be an illusion, assuming you remain honest to self, your reason for those inclinations conjure your self-image. While your like for apples sure might be because it’s crunchy to chew, you think you like it because its nutritious and keeps doctor away. Thus, you build a self-image of prioritizing a rational reason motivated by prominence to nourishment over a petty feeble reason as about its crunchiness. In human terms, you think of yourself as a person who likes a woman because she is well-natured and open-minded, even if unknown to self the real reason might have been her body odor. So, your conscious image of self, which affects your decisions, is different. Thus, rather than neglecting conscious censuring as about the virtuosity of your reason for your likes and dislikes, you totally overseeing them as they might, and probably are untrue, and giving-in to primal instincts demotes your position as a civilized being. True that it’s a lie, this conscious censuring, but the lie consequents a good, your sense of self-respect. And this latter comes a long way in your making pro-active socially-conscious decisions.”

I was looking up at the stars as I went through my turn for monologue. This is the trouble with heavy arguments. To completely make sense as a stand alone assertion, one needs to quote the caveats and define the context, and that stretches it into a laborious monologue. But then, the argument that’s put out results to be robust. She knew it, and she knew that I knew that she knew it. She had been lying beside till then. She sat up, and leaned over, hiding the stars with her pretty face bordered by her locks, and her eyes glittered. I smiled an understanding smile. We understood the other. It’s not often to have someone understand your ideas. Yes, there is a lot of noise about people understanding you, as a person. But they forget that a person is but a bundle of ideas, notions, concepts and contentions. And to truly understand someone is to understand their thoughts. A means vital to this is to converse. Here, we had, and we did now get the other. She bent down and we kissed. Our kiss tasted of cheese. Can one ask for more in life.

handsAnd well, more did happen. About we not having sex right after the pizza, well I did not lie. Though I might have misled you. We did make love, though not ‘right after’. It had to wait till the break of dawn. We both went for a jog. Hot, sweaty, we had a bath and spent the greater part of next  morning in bed. After a nap through noon, we were sharing coffee in the eve again at the eatery, by the open-air theater when she quipped, “You know, your argument about conscious censuring despite the illusion of introspection, it has a fatal flaw. That of motivated reasoning. That is, reasoning is not a purely objective rational process. While possibilities can be conjured honestly, the process of annotating to them a probability of occurrence, is a vague step that can be quite easily biased by one’s motivation depending on personal qualms. Given we cannot divorce the human in us, our reasoning in vague terrains as in the case of introspection is quite often motivated toward the conclusion most appeasing to one. Thus, the censuring despite the illusion is again rigged as because of this motivated bias in reasoning.”

Well, one might argue that recital is too long to be a quip, but then it was well rounded and a resilient stand alone opus. I just had one statement in reply, that I did put across quite unceremoniously. I said, “Will you marry me?” And she, well, crinkled her eyes and burst out into a good-natured laugh. She looked into my eyes with her dark black pearls for eyes and asked, hopefully in mocking jest, “Why not, but pray what is the reason for this like as your might surmise?”

Loss of Innocence

mermaid-on-nova-scotia-beachThe roar of waves breaking against the shore set a continuous polyphonic chirrup in the air. The lone fictional being, our protagonist, sat against the grainy tickle of sand. Her eyes were pinned on the horizon, where the orange-yellow gleam of the rising sun had smeared the sky and sea in shades of red. Raman Effect, she quipped in cold abandon. She was troubled by insomnia, and had come to the shore to await the break of dawn. Now it was about time to leave. But she loathe to.

For a callous observer, it might seem the rapture of dawn with waves lulling in that peaceful serenade had her drawn to the scene, locked in the moment. And had the observer’s intuition been deeply colored by a massive dose of existential angst, he might opine that she sat there, jaded, complacent, hoping to distract self from the tedium of existence. But we are neither callous, nor troubled with wistful imagination. From the vantage point of an interested perspicacious onlooker, she was waiting. For what, we wouldn’t know, nor do we venture to guess. We doubt if she knew herself what it that she awaited was. Was it akin to that age-old itch we all bear, for something incredible to happen in life? Of note, this latter is a quip; not a surmise.

As she breathed the salted breeze, she imagined the molecules flowing in turbulent eddies through her air-passages to the lung alveoli, mixing with the blood gushing just across the surfactant-lined walls, in gurgling streams of pulmonary capillaries. This stream was then churned by the constant continuous pulsations of her dear heart, that still longed for someone she could lose herself into. No, love is not a necessity. Akin to God, it is only an endearing hypothesis. But the need for the same, given the frail fragile constitution of us humans, is very palpable and real. She blinked at her single relationship status. She could undo it in a blink. But to blink for someone any less than self, would be a regretful error she didn’t want to repeat.

With fingers digging into the sand beside, she clenched her palm into a gentle fist, feeling the coarse grittiness of sand rubbing against sand. The tactile sensation seemed to add poignancy to the reality of the grainy nature of the same; just as this façade of human realm with individuals, where inter-individual interactions add weight to our individual reality. She slowly undid her fist and the grains slid down in thin streams. The weightlessness of the act seemed surreal, simple, solemnifying.

She blinked the thought away. She abhorred this metaphysical. She was through with them. Life is fun, or rather, fun could be had in life. And fun is heartening. Thus, to indulge in what’s fun is what, and all, that counts. The pleasure of the senses, the thrill of suspense, the joy of forbearance, and that enticing allure of companionship and understanding, she thought one could be drunk on life. Drunk, in every sense, with all the senses drenched in the exuberance that life has to offer.

As it became light around, she began to notice people. A young man, rippled, jogged by the shoreline, breaking a sweat. He left shoeprints in his wake that formed little pools. Slowly, with the succession of waves, these pools got filled with sand and were erased. She noticed an elderly couple, walking, with the man holding a dog, a german shepherd on a long leash. His wife who probably had put on some weight since her youth, hobbled along, beside, two steps behind, stealing a glace once every while at the horizon, and her husband. If one looked carefully, one could see boats in the sea, far off-coast. Fishermen out in open waters, gathering their days catch.

This last aspect from this near idyllic scene nudged her, our protagonist, that it was time. She need leave, and go about with her day. She lowered her torso against the sand, and slithered in the wet watery coolness. She reached the shoreline, leaving behind an unbroken trail. Once completely immersed, she flicked her tail fin, undulating her body in graceful twirls, as she swam deeper into the sea, toward her watery abode, the mythical Atlantis, at the heart of ocean.

Jim’s last

design1There was a screech. Yeah, that word’s onomatopoeia; sounds like the sound it means. First the screech, then a dull thud, a moment of muted stillness and a slow rise of strained human chatter, in that order. The elderly man who was seated beside our young protagonist till a moment ago, was run over by a speeding car driven by a concerned husband who wanted to get his pregnant wife to the hospital. Her water had broken and it was to be their first. Little did they know of the elderly man before that moment. He was a common man, taught English at the City College, and was survived by his dog. Don’t worry, the dog, a brown brawny spaniel, was later adopted by their understanding neighbor. This little story is about the hour before the accident, as the bus rode out the city into the suburbs while the spirited youth was trying to have a conversation with the elderly man on that ill-fated though pleasant-weathered evening. You must pardon the incongruous upbeat weather, it just happened to be restful, retiring, with the sky smeared in shades of orange and yellow, with the variegated variety of clouds sailing over the pleasingly scented breeze. There was a touch of cold. Just enough to make you button the collar of the shirt as the elderly man, lets say, Mr. Jim had.

The youth, a bumbling bundle of optimism, Sam suites him right, found the seat by Mr. Jim vacant and sat beside. Mr. Jim did not bother to turn and look. He was lost in thought. He had been thinking of carrots. For some inexplicable reason, while reading out Antony’s stirring rhetoric from Julius Caesar to his class earlier in the day, he found his mind’s eye sizing up a carrot in its vivid detail with its orange-red grainy tapering surface, topped by a bunch of green juicy stalks. For the life of him, he couldn’t fathom what led to that thought. Here Antony was craftily inciting the Roman crowd, appealing to their hearts with why Caesar had been wronged, and he was thinking carrots! As scenes by the road flit by, his eyes saw not. It seemed important to know why carrots. The intrigue was compelling. Just then, he felt a nudge. He turned to behold the apologetic Sam’s beaming foolish smile. ‘Hello there’, Jim greeted, holding on to his etiquettes. Sam waved in return. ‘Nice weather, ain’t it sir!’, he added. Jim wanted to correct him, but he let the colloquial slide. He just gave a silent nod and was about to turn around to look out the bus window when a thought occurred. He asked him, ‘So son, what do you want to become when you grow up?’

Sam was surprised a bit, but he liked the invitation for a more serious conversation than the weather. ‘I want to be a politician and change this country for the better’, he said. Jim didn’t say anything. He let his sight linger on him for a while longer, then his lips broke into a good-natured smile. He liked energetic idealists. He was one once. And with time he Black-And-White-Abstract-Wallpapers-6got tired, and he had made himself inconspicuous in this grand scheme of life. It isn’t that circumstances defeated him, nor that he was strained long enough to weaken his will. He just grew tired. With days, his will gradually ebbed. It could instead be reasoned that he didn’t fuel it enough and again to keep going. One day, he found self convinced with the rhetoric ‘why bother’ and had decided to fit in. He stopped making noise. He gave up his job as attorney. No more litigation in public interest. No more serving writ petitions to factories for breaching environment protection norms. No more of that fight, while meaningful and important, yet which for some reason had now come to feel a bother. A burden. He had energy; ample skill and wits as well. Man he was good with rhetoric. But he just did not want to go on. Took a job as lecturer, and decided to spend time reading and teach what he read. Feeling the weight of the silence heavy, Sam asked him if he liked books.

Yes, Jim liked books. But Jim was no more interested in this conversation. Sam, with his energy and enthusiasm, and with that agenda for social crusade was disturbing his peace. Jim had achieved a tranquil state of stillness in his mind, and he liked no ripples in that pool. He smiled at Sam, wished him luck with politics and got up. It wasn’t his stop yet, but he had a growing desire to get out the bus. He decided to walk the way back. Anyway the weather was pleasant. He requested the driver to let him out. The grim respectful poise Jim posed was compelling. The driver slowed, stopped the bus, and opened the door. Jim’s last thought was of carrots, and the moment he stepped out and the car hit him throwing his mortal coil 5 ft up in the air, his mind blinked the image of Caesar crunching a carrot, the next second, the entire Roman mob was crunching carrots, and there was a vague sense of weightlessness, and then Jim ceased to exist. He now lay as a mass of bleeding flesh, huddled in the road, with the husband out the car, kneeling by his side.

Sam sat glued to his seat. It was not that he didn’t care. He just felt locked in that moment, as if the transient nature of life, with the absolute certainty of death lay unfurled before him. He felt a knot in his throat while his eyes welled up. He thought about his sister home. He wanted to go home. While the husband, mortified, felt the pulse of the body lying before; this though only seemed a formality given the crack in Jim’s skull that was pouring blood. Certain there was nothing to be done, he got back into the car and drove slowly away. He had placed his visiting card by Jim’s corpse for police to contact him when they arrive to the scene. They would in a while. Someone would call them. He had something else he first needed to take care. His wife’s on-going labor. As the car was pulling away, Sam’s mind involuntarily registered the number-plate. He would remember those digits for the rest of his life. He also noticed the staff of Asclepius with the sacred snake coiled around, the Doctor’s symbol, stuck to the top right corner of the rear windshield. And for some reason Sam felt it a tad incongruous. The bus pulled away too. And the doctor’s wife gave birth to a son an hour and a half later, who was not named Jim.

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