A Call Answered (Micro-Fiction)

That evening, she had resorted to an old friend for company. Her friend wore the colour of sparkling gold – alacritous bubbles effervescing within her – and lay in a glass with a long stem and a slim bowl. Somehow, unlike always, her friend couldn’t comfort her. Instead, her mind seemed to go into unrest with the painful reminder that even though her feelings were being understood by millions through her book, she was still lonely. The see through French windows in her house allowed her the sight of her garden, which invited her outside to drown these destructive feelings of hers. She relented to the invitation. A long walk and six steps in the warmth of the farewell bidding sun helped clear her mind. Given time, sand settles in water and the solution becomes clear to the eyes. Thoughts worked the same way with her sobriety vanquisher, and she felt able enough to make a decision. Her recent intakes also gifted her courage. She released her constant company from the confines of her pocket and dialed a number so etched into her memory, she hadn’t bothered to save it. Her Bluetooth earpiece crackled to life with a couple of beeps and then poured into her ears an unfamiliar song, which sounded like a melancholic melody with vocals that wanted to bury a resurfacing pain. Just as the song touched a higher note to vent out greater despair, the call was answered. Her hands went numb as the magnitude of the situation sunk in. The earpiece stayed silent… For a while!

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The maps of his project and their rendering had been the latest occupants of his weary mind. He wished to think of things more relaxing, but being a project-in-charge meant giving up on certain luxuries like sustained peace of mind. He was glad to get home and wanted to feel happy to be back with his wife, but some long gone feeling was being a roadblock to it. He craved for a hug of understanding, and right now it wouldn’t suffice to just be with a faithful, dutiful, beautiful partner. He looked into her eyes and searched for a sense of compassion, but in vain. He did receive a smile though, that meant to say that the eyes complementing the smile were delighted to see him back and that tea was waiting for him. Before he could say yes to the tea, a five-inch-diagonal rectangle lit up within his pocket and Carl Orff’s complaint to lady luck began ringing with an increasing volume. He brought out the source of the sound into his hands and looked at the screen. The number displayed on the screen was way more than just familiar. It had the face of compassion. It promised what he hungered for – understanding. He looked at his wife with eyes that mixed confusion with surprise, and then walked determinedly to the verandah, with the lit rectangle in his hand. He swiped his finger over the screen and the ringing stopped. When he brought the speaker end to his ear, the rectangle was no more lit. He waited for the speaker to gift that unforgotten voice to his thirsty ears, but it stayed silent… For a while!

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(I had written this long back and I admit to this being a mediocre, lacklustre piece. I really could have done better. This was just an attempt to push through my old nemesis – the writer’s block!)

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Home, At Last… (Micro-Fiction)

After a long enervating day, my muscles wish to relegate into dormancy. I want them to hold on for a few more minutes, till I reach home – home, where I can be myself, where my socks can allow half their bodies to bask outside their shoe homes, where my sweat dried shirt can relax itself upon the cushioned chair facing a wall for no reason, where now familiar ants can gorge upon the remains of a chocolate bar that I shared with a beautiful soul as we walked through fading memories last night, where the kitchen sees its inventory refresh just once every month and where the basin-tap runs water for a long while, before a sleep-deprived face in the mirror rushes out of realisation and brings the flow to rest. However, uninviting my home may seem, it is the only place that does not roll its eyes on encountering what I really am within. So, once again, when my muscles ask me to rest for a while and break my journey, I call for them to prod on against the fatigue and just help me reach home, so I can relax in comfort with no fear of judgement. Tonight, it seems that the slumber in my bed would last much longer than usual. Try as much, I can’t help but go gentle into that good night…

Her Socks Are The Culprits!

Her socks have created within me a new sense of appreciation for beauty. I would not call it a sudden development; rather a slow progress from gleeful glances to profound observations. My eyes now demand to be fixated on those small pairs of clothing that have the gift of fortune to stay so close and hug her shapely ankles, often helping them play peek-a-boo. I don’t know if it is the colours of the fabric that demand my attention or (at the risk of being exposed to accusations of perversion) if it is just a fetish I have developed for feet, but I find it difficult to stop staring at those socks and imagining the landscape underneath. How could something that has the ground and its dust for regular company create such a strong affinity within me?

Maybe I’m just fascinated with the choice of the colours she decides to wear on her feet… But then, I find myself least interested in the same colours when they await moisture’s farewell on her drying line! It is only when socks envelope her body’s lowest (strictly in an anatomical sense) beauties do I find myself staring at them with no sense of what the waiter standing beside us with our coffee might be thinking of me. I have even found myself to be slightly absent to what she might be saying, and I must add that I’m not exaggerating one bit because I do remember incidents when it happened (even though as I write this, they do seem to be some quite peculiar memories I have gathered).

I am almost completely sure it is not a perversion I have given myself access to, because I don’t find myself staring at other feet around me. I understand that this is not a very logically reasoned argument, as the pervert within sometimes comes alive only when a certain prerequisite is met – that you are attracted to the said subject. So, I should not really dismiss the idea of perversion completely. I may have developed a liking for the lovelies closest to earth. Like I said a few lines ago, her socks have managed to fill me with a new found sense of beauty, or if words were scarce, I’d say her socks have made me a pervert.

Cynic – I : Episode 4

 

Episode – 4 : The Homecoming


            A sense of peace prevails now. The much needed smoking session has stimulated Cynic’s senses enough to bring order to her cluttered mind. She now carries a vibe strong enough to inspire inanimate humans to write stories. She reaches her hostel room and spends an hour cleaning every accessible nook and corner. Now that neither her inner space nor her outer surroundings seem confused, she sits down to write, her favourite pen in hand. Writing comes naturally to her and she is surprised to find that there is no estrangement between her words and her thoughts, in spite of her long sabbatical.

             The minute hand on her desk clock has crossed the same mark seven times since she has started writing. She becomes aware of the passage of time only when dawn’s first rays begin to illuminate strands of her hair, which have come forward to mention sweet nothings to her cheeks. She smiles to herself as she realises that she has been in the process of writing all night. Leagues of stories played in her mind, before she finally decided to settle on the one that is she is writing now. She seems content with her content, and finds that her writing has developed into a style she has never tried. The piece she has just finished is in the third person narrative, yet the writer within is celebrating the first of many autobiographical accounts, that are sure to come soon. She is unsure about the chances of her piece winning the competition, but she does not worry about that now.

            What matters is that she is back to writing stories, and the significance of this homecoming is magnified by her realization that she has figured out a way to be able to show herself to the world without any fear of judgement or be accused of blasphemy. All she has to do is resort to the third person. She now plans to reward herself for deciding to participate in the competition. She may lose this battle, but she has won a war. She decides to go through her piece once more. She starts reading aloud, “Geet feels lost nowadays. He wouldn’t confess this to you though…”

-Geet


The End


Click on the following links to revisit any episode of your choice:

Cynic – I : Foreword
Episode-1 : The Imprisoned Writer
Episode-2 : The Raging River
Episode-3 : The Love-Hate Relationship
Episode-3(a): Cynic’s Thoughts As She Smokes [Song – Innocence of Youth]

Cynic – I : Episode 3

 

Episode – 3 : The Love-Hate Relationship


             Cynic decides to take a short break. A cigarette would relax her and help her focus. She ties up her hair in a quick bun, and paces out of the hostel. Her steps trod a path that leads to a Motor Transit station, which however is much more popular with the students for a reason that is quite unrelated to transport services – the easy access to cigarettes. Cynic goes there with the same purpose. She, however, would argue that the purpose is not really unrelated to transport. The difference in the transport she seeks is that it does not lead her to a geographical destination, but instead, transports her mind to a much relaxed state – a destination where her mind finally calms down. She looks around and sees that a minor fraction of the demographic is not really here for the destination, but for the joyride. These are mostly young boys, who have not grown their first bit of facial hair. She smiles at their innocence and tells herself that very soon they would find no joy in the joyride, and would come only to get to the destination. They would know the ride did not wish them well, but the destination would feel like home – it would be the only place they were used to being in. It would be dreadful to even think of not reaching home after a while.

            Cynic suddenly remembers the early days of her graduation in Bombay, when she was also a part of this same, innocent demography, which held slim, slow-suicide sticks with their lips, not for the feel of it, but for the look of it, for the charm of it. She had always been a rebel, but she did not possess then, the wisdom to know that not every rebellion was as rational as it was radical. A rebellious adolescence, minus the insight to control it, had led her through to an inescapable love-hate relationship with nicotine. Today, she regrets every moment of those days and wishes to go back to her non-smoking self, but then, her hatred for this habit is often overcome by the spurts of yearning that keep coming back to greet her in the most stressful of times.

                Unable to withhold herself, she lights up a death-rewarding cigarette, as familiar well-meaning hymns resound in the temple behind her. She tries to match the frequency of her puffs, with the beats from the temple dhol, but the time signature of the hymn is too fast, and she coughs. Achieving a high frequency of puffs might be difficult, but she knows the frequency of these coughs would definitely increase as she gets older. She returns to the thought of how an innocent youth had become the cause for her hideous habit. As these thoughts linger in her head, the same hideous habit comes back to take control. She takes a deep breath, relaxes her lungs and then takes a non-resonating puff, which starts another cycle of unrest for her lungs.


Click for the last episode, Episode-4 : The Homecoming

Click to read Cynic’s thoughts as she smokes [Song – Innocence of Youth]

Cynic – I : Episode 2

Episode – 2 : The Raging River


               Cynic’s decision to end the sabbatical from writing is showing its wonders. Long withheld ideas have now found an outlet, and the turbulence they bring to her mind amazes her. The flow of thoughts is so rapid that she is unable to pick and process each one. She smiles, as she realises how many treasures of thoughts she has buried over time. The writer has been dead for some time, but has now become a phoenix, who has resurrected from the ashes of loneliness. Cynic connects with her old friend, the writer within. She has had enough of spitting out textbook-friendly phrases on pages. She is eager to write words like she used to – words that shout, but are silent, words that whisper, yet touch a chord, words that belong to the reservoir of her own feelings, words with thoughts that hug her heart, words that make her alien to her friends, yet help her resonate with complete strangers.

                 With pen in hand and resolve in heart, she opens a fresh page in her book and ponders for a while. If you have access to look inside her thought process, you’ll see Cynic constructing a mind-map of her ideas – a network of inter-linked clouds of different sizes. Some link with others on an equal level, while most link with a single, large parent cloud. This large cloud comprises feelings that make her heart heavy, and for this same reason, the mind decides to paint this large cloud in a dark grey hue. Much like the dark, large, heavy clouds in the air above, this one too looks ready to rain down hard on the book below.

                  Thoughts filled with anger are what rain down first. It is a complete downpour, and it has come down without a warning. She doesn’t have to wait and think for the right words. Her mind is a storehouse brimming with bitter experiences, which help keep the process of spewing out angry words, a continuous one. She is continuously provided with memories of incidents that made her hate the people around her. The anger originates in different tributaries, and then confluences into a mighty raging river, which in turn nourishes her hatred for society. The source of one such tributary is her disgust for the way men behave around her. Their piercing eyes make their vulgar imaginations visible to her. Their not-so-subtle stares ensure that her love for summer shorts and miniskirts is never manifested in her clothing. Another tributary is her hatred for the way members of her own sex annoy her. Their nasty comments and smirks, when they smell the ash from her clothes, make her want to ignore them. Yet another tributary originates from the unasked horror that nature gifts her once every month. She especially hates the packaging that this gift comes in – the cramps that make her into a monster much worse than she really is. Many more such tributaries come together to bring enough anger that it makes the river capable of destruction.

                 True to its nature, the river brings destruction to the story Cynic has been penning for a while. Like an athlete’s anger destroys his game; angst has done to her story the same. As she reads it over, she grins. This is not even close to a story. This is angst, though not alone. Melancholy proves to be a worthy companion to it. She feels that a lighter, a more feel-good piece would perform better, if it is a creative writing competition she intends to win. Now, with all this release of emotions, she does feel a lot lighter and capable of writing a serene story, not as dark as the one she just wrote. This is in spite of the fact that she knows true stories have a much better impact. She wants to keep it for her diary. By no means will she allow the world to witness what is within her.


Click for Episode-3 : The Love-Hate Relationship

Cynic – I : Episode 1

Episode – 1 : The Imprisoned Writer


                  Cynic feels lost nowadays. She wouldn’t confess this to you, though. She portrays herself as completely callous to everything that goes on around her. She has an innate ability to hide and stay hidden. Very few are able to witness Cynic unmask herself. The words in her diary and the frets on her guitar are among the privileged ones. Often, the smoke she devotedly billows, gives good company to them. However, it has been a long while since the smoke got together with her words. She has kept herself busy with lectures, submissions and nerve-wrecking exams. The words she writes nowadays seem static. They all have a single, common intent – better grades. Her pen feels strangled by all the mechanical writing. Her pages miss the life that the flow of ink used to have. The writer within her feels suffocated by the lack of inspired air in her textbook-like words and remains arrested in a prison of peer competition and mono-context words.

                  Since the mid-semester exams got over, Cynic has felt empty inside. She doesn’t realize that it is the imprisoned writer that is wishing to be set free; she doesn’t see the light that the writer within is wishing to see. The toil through the exam times has weakened her. She cannot figure out what to do. A sip of coffee and two seconds later, her phone gives out a short whimper, as the screen comes to life. She gives a hopeful glance to it. The glance does not disappoint and brings back hope to her heart. As she stares at what has come up on the lit screen, her eyes light up. A long gone smile complements her now radiant face. Sooner than her tongue can say “yes”, her mind makes a decision. She gets up, finishes the coffee and walks towards her hostel room, where her diary has long been awaiting her, pressed under the burden of textbooks. The writer within her leaps for joy. It is time to be freed. The phone screen still reads “1 New Email: [students] [ELS] Online Creative Writing Competiti…”


Click for Episode-2 : The Raging River