Feline nocturne🐱

Every time he crossed neighbor’s threshold, there was this old cat lying there supine, half asleep, half awake. Dozing in and out of this world and cat’s dream world. Seeing her asleep cozily on her smooth mat, bought a certain calm and quietude to his heart. And three little ceramic ducks, led by the duck with a broken beak were the constant in cat’s life, like the Trinity guarding her.

Sometime when he woke up at wee hours of the morning, the cat would be up, for she was a diurnal sleeper and a nocturnal creature. She would calmly cry, probably for the food or making conversation with the ceramic ducks. The one with broken beak always had the best stories of its adventure, one time when he swam across Malacca straits, and another time when he got into a fight with monitor lizard at Pulau Bin. They never grew tired of these repetitive stories. And when the cat cried at those hours, it was joined by a background band of chirping crickets, and together they tried to wove a sad opera, lamenting love lost together. Chopin would have felt challenged probably?

The truth – short story

“You first said you want to go to the library and now you want to go this way.”, came the vexed reply in Tamil with a shade of broken English from the gatekeeper. The gatekeeper himself was as historic as the place was, with a set of pale eyes- whites of which were dirty, a face marked with wrinkles and scars, and a tumor-like affliction in the mouth. One could have categorically placed his countenance as uneasing if not scary!

He reiterated the clichéd getaway lines, to the gatekeeper
“Tamil terima, anna. I am new to this place.”

The mellowed gatekeeper reluctantly guided him in, getting his sign on visitor’s register. The place smelled peace and was achingly yet charmingly infused with shrieking silence. A cool quiet that felt intangible in the hot summer afternoon. But here it was, and he was already feeling blessed, and yes he tried to feel the nature like a gaia theorist with his eyes closed. There was a different kind of vibes in ether.
It was all green on both sides of the dilapidated asphalt road, with no sign of human inhabitation. Long grasses with jutting blades tried their best to engulf the horizon. The buildings were ancient, and a gardener was clearing the brown dried grass with a motor-blades. The humming sound sounded sinister, foreboding of lurking secrets. He listened mindfully to the sound made by his footsteps as he continued his nonchalant stroll.

An ancient building loomed in front, with a huge old wooden placard at the gate declaring “There is nothing higher than truth”.

He pondered on the veracity of the statement as he circled the main atrium of building twice. Like a planet wondering why it has been encircling sun since eons.

He ushered in without confidence into the secretary room, from which he could hear hushed tones. Two elderly ladies were chatting behind two huge mahogany desks. Each desk had an IBM desktop computer-neatly wrapped under transparent sheets as if it was too precious to touch. The sound of rusty typewriter mingled with the creaking of the ceiling fan.

“So are you a healer?”, the younger of two asked breaking the eerie silence.

“Healer??”, she definitely did not mean the psychic healer, it can’t be. But judging by her unfazed expression that was what she meant, to the boy’s utter amazement.
“Maybe I am clairvoyant, maybe? A bit. Not sure”, that was his till-now-kept-secret thought. Although he had shared it with few close friends who would have an understanding of it, else it was a secret.

She went on to explain the roots of organization handling him some centenary pamphlets 39 years old. The older of two ladies continued her recce on his face, suspiciously. His contrasting clothes gave him away, old navy capris with red converse sleepers. It was like Bill Gates attending Ku-Klux Klan meeting in a tuxedo.

“If you have enough karmas, you will become a member. Do not worry about it”.

A strange reply, coming in this age. But then it was very pertinent to the atmosphere. He would have laughed over it if someone would have said that at a cafe or restaurant. But this was coming from a secretary of an international office of Agnostics. It was like a movie scene, where the protagonist finds himself waking up in an old villa, having the answers to all strange things happening to him. Like Harry finding Dumbledore, or Frodo finding Gandalf.

He came out, with a red and a purple pamphlet, more unconfident than before. He sat there on a solitary bench beside the green shrub under the banyan tree and started reading through the pamphlets with rapt attention. He was lost. A sudden tinge at his calf skin caused by an unwary ant brought him back to the cement bench beside the green shrub under the banyan tree.

“Do you have a light?”
He noticed a girl in early twenties, she looked of south Indian descent, with big deep-set eyes, he would have named her Meenaxi.
She had an olive complexion and looked stunning yet enchanting in a deep v-neck tank top with fitting blue denim. He caught a whiff of her perfume, and a twitch in his heart told him that he was already smitten. She held a smoke elegantly between her delicate fingers.

“Do you have a light?”, she repeated carelessly.
“Umm…ahh….well no”.
“I suspected that you look like a kid.”, followed by a tinkering mocking laugh. “But kids don’t visit here”.
“Oh my gosh! You are reading about death, kid”, she glimpsed on the pamphlets.

The noun quoted was now confused, whether to continue his sublime mesmerization or retort to quip.
Choosing the second, he retorted, “I was until you interrupted me”,

“As life is interrupted by death”.

He mused on the depth of phrase and cleavage at the same time, balancing the conflicting thoughts.

“A human tends to propagate this theory, but death is a continuation, not an interruption.”
“Hmmm. So are you a celestial being? Huh! How come you adjust in this human world”.
“Believe me, it’s very tough !”, she replied casually after taking another whiff.

Was that a sarcasm or banter. Sarcasm, he concluded.
She was now smoking an unlit cigarette making brilliant smoke rings. She adjusted herself on the small bench, and ‘kid’ twitched to the corner. The universe was already laughing behind his back. He could have closed his eyes and felt her human aura, deciphered the aural color he saw and made things easy. But he decided to play it human, it was getting interesting.

A faint breeze touched his nose, unconsciously closing his pupils. He felt the wind on his physical body. He wanted to fly on this zephyr.
As he was flying a realization dawned upon him, there was no human aura in close vicinity. He concentrated hard on the darkness, trying to locate the luminous aural colors. No. They were absent. A pang of pain in his pupils ended his effort, and he came back to his physical body cement bench beside the green shrub under the banyan tree.
Opening his eyes he studied his neighbors face. doubting his amateur visions. She smiled back as if acknowledging his cognizance and challenging his abilities at the same time.
“It’s tough right?”
He was taken aback. This was the second time in a day when his secrets came out of cloak.
“What is tough?”, he fumbled.
“Adjusting in this human world, as you said”.

He was flummoxed.
She stood up, still holding the cigarette- now a crumpled piece. She glanced at the unburnt stub and threw it dexterously with her two fingers. The tobacco stub made a boomerang motion before crashing among the long grasses with jutting blades.

“Remember that there is nothing like an absolute truth !”

She turned around looking the kid in eyes. And within moments she was lost in darkening darkness of dawn down the dark asphalt path.

Unfinished…the impostor

They were trying to overpower the giant man. He was now lying down on the bed with his legs limping down at knees- unconscious. The effect of sedative was wearing away for he was regaining conscience. The boy was afraid now. From where has this impostor lurked in? The impostor was strong and menacing in his builds. Dad had previously shot him with the brass vase, and he fell like a fallen tree onto the bed. Father being a doctor administered him the sedative via a syringe. Emergency was in air. The air conditioning chilled his feet. The impostor was awake suddenly and grabbed him by his neck. He pleaded his parents to run away, to his surprise they actually ran away. The sweat ran profusely across his forehead. He could feel his breath giving away as the fingers burned into his throat muscles. His airway was blocked and his face turned pale due to lack of blood. The whole world was growing dark.

 

He murmured to himself unknowingly. Horse is a vain hope for deliverance. Despite all it’s great strength it cannot save. Psalm 33:17 Was he looking for deliverance…or he submitted to the situation. If he would have lived he would have spent days thinking all the inevitable questions. His life flashed in front of his eyes. He at age of 9 playing with his father in park. Praying in a dhoti at diwali, trying to blow the shell. His first love. His lost love. His present love. He was satisfied, and a smirk- of contentment, spread across his lips.

The attacker still had dried blood across his forehead, and acted trance like after the sedative. He was confused at his smirk-probably the last one. This confusion disrupted the grip. He slammed his right toe into attacker’s groin, completely disrupting the grip. The boy fell down noisily onto the tiled floor on his back. He gasped for air, all he could see were rods and cones. The attacker clutched his groin and was seething in pain. It was fight or flight. He grabbed his lcd monitor screen and smashed it on attacker face. His heart was an over-revved piston engine. He had a tunnel vision. He could only see his dementor’s face from his constricted circular tunnel-like field of vision., The face gleamed with red blood and shards of glass. The attacker staggered on his feet. Whamm! He smashed his right fist into his nose. He used to punch cement walls till his knuckles bled.They did bled this time too, but they smashed his attacker’s nose. There was a gaping hole in his jaw. Impostor was losing blood at the rate of pint per second, he fell down unconscious onto the computer table, breaking it in the process. His head rolled away down to the left.

It was all too much for him. He slumped back in front of window AC vent. The cold air eased him and got back his peripheral vision. He was thoughtless. His back was paining His white linen shirt was a total mess, with drops of dark blood. His glasses had somehow survived the adventure, and were still adoring his face. He soothed his bleeding knuckles, and arched his hurt back. The gold-gem ring in his middle finger did the trick, probably he broke the attackers’ nose. The ring now as red as the gem it kept. A silent fart convinced him of his still active metabolic activity. He was looked blindly at the fluorescent bulb at ceiling, he wanted to be part of its white light. He was still trying to remember from where did the impostor ensued, all he could recollect that he awaked suddenly by the noise of the brass vase slamming against impostor’s forehead.

He wondered what to do with the body now. He stood up, and took the vial of sedative and found syringe lurking in the shards of broken computer table. He gave the unconscious impostor another shot of sedative, trying not to see the bloody mess that his face was now. ‘This will keep him grounded for 2-3 hours’. He thought of dialing up nearest police station. But his instincts stopped him. He was confused, as always. His confusion ran ahead of him ever since he picked up himself. All the thriller and detective movies flashbacked. They all are so cool with the corpse, but this was not a corpse. He could not leave this fellow like this, and moreover he did not know why he was attacked at first place. He nervously ran his fingers through his new long hairs, it had been three months since he took a haircut. A nouveau director he was, struggling with the anticlimax of his movie. “What would have Watson said, ‘Dear Holmes, this is a clear case of attempted homicide’ .Alas why he only befriended Holmes.” He stood up and felt brave enough to ruffle through the impostor’s pockets. He was wearing a rugged blue denim and white tee with brown corduroy jacket. He found a crumpled piece of bus ticket, and a black leather wallet. It contained few currency notes something around a thousand and papers and a postcard size picture. He cleared off the wallet to his back pocket. He had a dark complexion, wearing a white cotton shirt and a white lungi with black leather chappals. A wore his moustache over his freckled face, like a typical south Indian. ‘They all look same’. But this one was not menacing, he had a soothing demeanor. But his eyes had an experienced vision, a face of one who has seen a lot of life, and struggled through it. A tang of pity came and went instantaneously. The boy waited for a while and saw two cans of room freshner lying at the shelf. He got an inspiration. He figured a fire triangle in his mind, he needed oxygen, fuel source and heat.

He went to the kitchen and twisted the gas knob to open position. He meticulously closed all the windows of kitchen but keeping the windows of the flat open, for oxygen. He distributed the newspaper like a stack of dominoes, such that it covered whole of the room and the stack ended in the kitchen. He got unused old nokia cellphone of his dad and placed the cell battery – four in number, around the unconscious impostor. He threw the cordless phone and his i-pod for added tertiary fuel source. The defeated impostor lied unconscious in his stupor unaware of how his prey has become an arsonist. He took out two bottles of chilled lager beer and poured them over the carpet, the one his dad had brought from Kashmir. He switched off the air conditioning for it would hamper with the heat and threw the carpet over the impostor. He was done with one more edge of fire triangle. Only heat edge remained. He took scissor and a cello tape from his study drawer- the heat. He got two cans of room freshener and another two of his deospray.He went on to rotate the tape in such a way over the canisters such that the plunger was pressed permanently. There was gushing sound made as the gas rushed out. He did the same to other canisters. He placed all the four canisters in a semicircle such that their spray jet met at a point- the focus. The focus was a stack of newspaper piled one and half feet above the ground- the fuel primary fuel source. The cans were empting at a rapid pace. He took out a match, he was already feeling the heat. He lit it and placed a bit of flame into the gushing current of aerosol. Boom! The whole system was now a massive flame thrower. There was fire in the air, all random and making random shapes. A morbid splendor. He rushed towards the door, and grabbed his denim jacket before banging the door shut. He ran down the three flights of stairs. It was all very quite for evening 7 o’clock. But his heart was at riot, juxtaposed with quite exteriors. His was panting like a steam engine. He was sweating like a horse. He had just made a homemade aerosol bomb, and set his flat to fire. The impostor would be charred to death, definitely, by an arsonist.

He caught a shared taxi to nearest metro station. He came across a cold drink stall.He took a can of coke and paid with crumpled 50 rupee note. He was used to drinking chilled coke when he was deeply upset or agitated. He gulped the cold beverage and it in turn cooled his interiors. He finished the whole can in 2 more gulp. And asked for another one. “May be I should not have incinerated the flat and impostor.”, his super-ego screamed. “ But I was acting on impulse”, his id supported him. He was used to acting on his impulse, and which always saved him from dreadful decision making process. He recollected reading somewhere that impulsivity was a defining characteristic of ADHD or bipolar disorder. “Nay not the bipolar disorder, but definitely may be ADHD”. He always thought himself to be affected by ADHD in a way or other. “Is this my another impulsive decision”, he wondered. His life has been chequered by spur-acting, yet he survived every time thanks to his luck. “Am I a pyromaniac?”, he added to the rhetoric question.

Blind Camaraderie

He caught another echo, he held it in light, observed it only to realize that it was his own thoughts. The moonlight sonata would have ended in another 2 mins and 4 seconds, a sense of urgency gripped him. He silently took a challenge to write something before it ends. It was like reading Harry Potter novels , when he got them a day before he was to catch train back to hilly adobes, all he could see was 14-15 hours in hand and … (hah… trickster did a stealthy rewind, buys him another 4 minutes or so)…and all he could concentrate on finishing the book, even if it was reading with lamp inside the quilt. From his view point it looked like that shorter chap was hanging onto the other guy’s shoulders. As he moved a bit ahead he realised that they were atop a pony or was it a horse? Rather the shorter chap was astride the horse and  elder one was standing beside him. Both of them had a frail look, tired eyes which reflected their tired soul and the lines on their face had seen better, younger days. The horse was white or more of a pale white, and they had painted skin around his eyes as pink. His eyes made eye contact with theirs and boom the older chap was looking into infinity… as if no space …no world existed between him and infinity. It looked liked teary eyed but then it wasn’t tears. The elder pressed his partners hand gently below the elbow, signalling that it was time to move. It was then he realised that both of them were blind, and horse was their guiding ally. He quickly took a note to  find a doc for them.

The only joyous thing in the whole scene was horse, the white horse, the white horse with his white mane, the white horse with white mane having funny pink color painted around his eyes. His eyes were pure happiness !! He was stuck with the stark juxtaposition of man vs animal … of happiness vs melancholy…

And yet he remembered

Psalm 33:17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save.

Probably the religious essence was in 33:18- 33:22.

Psalm 33:18-22
New International Version (NIV)

18 But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
19 to deliver them from death
and keep them alive in famine.
20 We wait in hope for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
22 May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
even as we put our hope in you.

Shocked & awed

It was a hot afternoon. The sudden shriek from the automobile had shaken him up from his slumber. He found himself sleeping on a grey grass patch. The earth underneath him was still cold. He yawned deeply and stretched his body. The taste of earth lingered in his mouth. Lying down he glanced around. Three men were drinking tea which he hated. He hated everything that had a salty flavor. He also hated the smoke that they used to emit from their mouth, and often confused it with the smoke coming from automobiles

 He tried to remember. He was running with two of his friends after her, in heavy rain. And all of a sudden she disappeared. Was it real? For he was alone now, none of his friends seemed to be around, and he was as dry as Sahara. “May be I was dreaming”. He yawned in full glory this time, and felt the hot air on his tongue. “Damn! It’s hot.”

 He walked with heavy steps still in stupor, circling around the rusted metal bin, which again smelt terrible. No this was horrible. A man eyed him suspiciously gazing through a dilute smoke that he had just emitted. He returned his gaze forcing his eyelids open through his beautiful brown eyes. A whiff of edibles caught his olfactory muscles, and he was happy again. He walked across the road, narrowly missing the speedy bus. He comforted himself on the floor of cemented pavement. The air was cooler under the shade of the tree. He struggled with a sneeze that never came. It just ended in loud aachhhh. “Dats gross, I love to sneeze, clears the guts”.

 A family of three has now occupied his former place on the green patch across the road. A mom with her two children. One of them limped, and looked lost. The other one -agile and jauntily- nibbled at the piece of fruit cake, greedily. Former gazed greedily at him, unable to summon strength to ask his share.

 A pang in his stomach ended the family-drama. ’Food’. He sluggishly took a 270 degree panoramic view. He looked up to skies, half hoping for manna from heaven to fall. It was said to be sweet in taste.  The sun was dim now. He must be fidgeting with the RGB controls. A rush of liveliness caught him, may be because of hunger or dimmed sun. He started running down the pavement.

 The air was sweet. The sound of his footfall salt and pepper. His vision like an auto focusing Nikon D1000.

He steered swiftly towards right at the end of pavement, skidding on the gravel. If he would have been abled he would have taken a note of Newton’s physics. Forces called centripetal and centrifugal. He came to a sudden halt.

He was panting. His heart was throbbing. His ears were ringing. He exhaled audibly and inhaled inaudibly. He was well known for his speed and agility, and the reason for getting the adjective ‘alpha’. He cared for his group and loved the juniors. He was popular among them and was looked upon as a role model. But today he was away from his fans. It was dark now. He loved the nocturnal period- dusk to dawn period.

He perked up. He smelt salt in the air. He must be very near to sea shore. He could hear the waves. He crouched low to ground, and quietly smelled the air

She was near, he was suddenly all tensed up. May be it was not a dream after all. He attentively made a recee of the region. He saw her on the boundary wall. Action time. He had been eluded in his last two attempts, utterly beaten. He shuddered in anger still remembering her mocking glance, getting high on revenge.

He must plan this time, and should not go on instincts. The darkness was an advantage to both of them, but she had a slight edge.  There she was camouflaged in her black. Her back was arched. She turned sideways and hissed at him. He was calculating the distance, being on lower level he blocked the locomotion on ground. He was ready for an ambush. If that failed he would follow plan B- coursing her.

Coursing is the method in which the prey is often sighted from a distance, stalked, pursued and neatly killed. He had the killer instincts, and his friends would have applauded him. He had all the skills of successful hunter- physical strength, infinite patience and a great power of observation. But she was as dexterous as him. L’enfant terrible.

Their eyes met for the first time. He admired the her bright retina- shining focused and ready. He started having second thoughts in his mind. “Carpe diem! Carpe Noctem!” A war like cry came form his throat. A return growl established her defiance. The length of road was brightly lit by moon, and a row of palm trees were casting long dark shadows. There was a 100watt bulb shone behind the boundary wall, which hinted her silhouette, placing her in penumbra.

“How can I praise thee, Oh Edison!”, he murmured.  He concealed him under the umbra of nearest palm tree, keeping eye on her. She never moved. Still waiting for a first move.

He stepped back counting his steps. One-two-three-four. Four steps behind, and charged forward with full force, summoning just enough velocity and  kinetic energy for the jump. All jumping involves the application of force against a substrate, which in turn generates a reactive force that propels the jumper away from the substrate- Newton’s third law. “Hail Newton!”.

Just before the launch he pushed hard into the substrate- the sand and gravel. And propelled him up in the air towards the boundary wall she was upon. The launch angle was near perfect. He zoomed in the air two and half feet above the ground. His hind limbs ready for the grab. It all happened in less than one second. Shock and awe. She was too flabbergasted to move.

“It was all near perfect”, he thought doctoring the scratches he got from the boundary wall.  “Impose this overwhelming level of Shock and Awe against an adversary on an immediate or sufficiently timely basis to paralyze its will to carry on.” He had got her in her grip landing noisily on the other side of wall, when the other two attacked him from behind. But then he had never expected that she was with two of her accomplice. He was least prepared for three of foes. He was shocked and awed. They attacked him from three sides and ran away just in time. He lied defeated on ground, and he remembered grudgingly the last glance of triumph he got from those shining dark eyes.

He was utterly frustrated when he saw a black automobile coming down the street. It was still dark, and headlights were blinding. He ran furiously behind the wheels barking his guts out. He was after all a dog chasing cars. And he didn’t knew what to do with one if he caught one.

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