Friday, December 27, 2013

Man with a bandaged hand

The ravine oddly stood in front of the house. Seeping rain water had led to the growth of some kind of a mossy muck on its walls. The man with a bandaged hand was standing on the other end, a mere silhouette in my sight. Gingerly, I stepped down.

Halfway, I took a peek and saw him turning to my direction. I halted and started throwing mud into the bottom of the ravine. Crushing the brittle chunks and watching a red clayey layer forming over the reluctant green that seemed to have remained undisturbed for years.

The man with bandaged hands had started walking towards me. Definitely, the silhouette was closer than where it was when I looked last time. A mild panic was reluctantly setting in. I looked above, doubting whether I’d be able to make it.

Maybe reading my unrest, he spoke. His voice, devoid of any haste, got echoed within the mossy walls. “Wait” he said, “We need to talk”.

The panic was far beyond mild with the distance to climb looking inconceivably high up. The only hope I had was some kind of a déjà vu, in which I remembered making it to the top. Drawing some hope from it, I pelted along clambering awkwardly. The sound of his feet sloping across the slushy floor was nearing and the panic wave hit me with full force. Muscles felt like pieces of rubber and joints proceeded to a grinding halt like a rusted piece of machinery. Even the slightest movement demanded a great lot of effort.

The déjà vu had betrayed and I knew he was somewhere near. Terrified to look back, I took a peek at the shadows on the wall beside me and his was there with that bandaged hand stretched. I thought I saw a gun in it. I froze.

The voice spoke, "Why do you fear? I am you."


Another nightmare with an absurd ending.
Image courtesy: Motortion Films

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Aslan in Udyog Bhawan

On the dry scorcher of a Sunday afternoon, I came across Aslan near Udyog Bhawan Metro Station. 

Dusty July roads were yet to be dampened by the scanty rains that the Capital earned and stray leaves flitted around in an occasional dry breeze. Metro and its surroundings were devoid of commuters with all offices closed shut. Green sentry boxes by bungalow gates were empty, their dopey occupants lying in front of the whizzing large coolers inside.  Monkeys dozed away on the trees, waiting for the sun to go down. 

Standing outside the metro waiting for a rickshaw on that desolate day, I found him walking across with none of the grace that his picture in my mind carried. Apart from that, he was still the same Aslan, huge with the gilded skin. 

Afternoon,” he said with a frigid sadness, the voice still sinewy. “I wish it had been a good one,” he added and licked few tiny blobs of blood on his legs.  Dogs...” he paused and continued after cleaning the bare wounds for a while that looked like ugly tattoo patches on his perfect skin, “those infernal street dogs.”

He curled himself down on the exit of the Metro where the excess treated cold air from down below bunked out. When the silence started getting a bit awkward, I asked, “Don’t they get scared?” He looked at me for a while and replied, “No. They probably think I’m a plump calf.” Raising himself up, he said, maybe to himself, “got to leave before the monkeys get down”. 

He walked away in the evening sun, the leaves and the dust.

Image courtesy:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Tribute to the Dolphin Hotel of my Life

I woke up in the morning to find myself staring at a door that was wide open. It quietly rocked in the sea wind from an open window above my bed. There was a dull creeping sensation all over from a couple of red ants that were everywhere in the bed, their ruby selves visibly moving about in the worn out but well laundered white sheet. The fan above struggled in circles and I was sweating from the humid air inside. 

For a while, I did nothing and kept staring at the door. I didn’t remember closing it but I might have done it nevertheless. Shifting my glance to the grimy coffee table beside the door, I found almost all the contents from yesterday night as I’d left them. The old laptop, a small steel flask, two oddly twisted paper cups, a book on law of contracts and the huge bronze keychain with the room keys. Nothing had been taken. If someone had broken in, he had quietly contemplated the picture inside and left. 

I clambered out of the bed and stepped to the corridor outside. It was deserted as always. The walls had been painted light green and the mild odor of fresh paint lingered in the trapped air. Shivering, I stepped back and closed the door shut. It was 4 in the afternoon and I’d missed another day in my life. 

This was the dolphin hotel that I had. 

It had no one but a senile receptionist who kept staring at an old 14” TV set. He handed me the keys when I walked in, which was, almost always in the midnight. I would take a late train to Thalassery and walk all the way through the dark rain soaked roads to the lodge, the lights from the occasional cars and trucks guiding me to it. He’d always be there, slightly twisting his mouth into a cursory smile acknowledging my familiarly and hand me the keys of a random room. I’d always ask whether it was to the direction of the sea and he’d nod. 

I’d seldom seen any other occupants, though there would be occasional dust bins with trash placed outside some doors indicating the presence of occupants within. Once I came across a scruffy foreigner with a backpack on the stairs and we both eyed each other speculatively while we crossed.

One sleepless humid night, I took a scrap of paper and wrote “This is the Dolphin hotel. Don’t let appearances fool you. Open your door in the midnight and walk out to the old Dolphin hotel. Do not be scared when you find the sheep man waiting in the end of your corridor.”

I tore off the portion, folded it and placed it carefully inside after removing a draw from the shelf. I replaced the draw and slept imagining nothing. 


Dolphin Hotel and the sheep man © Haruki Murakami and Vintage Books International
Image courtesy

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Thought Pilfering Woman

She always slept with an arm behind her head. And mouth slightly open. In a naively ugly way. With that sight, I would pull down the shutters, close the door quietly and leave. Every time I left that scene, I would go and stand by the kitchen window with the kids playing in the park two stories below. I would stare at them blankly for a while. It was like a routine.

There was nothing to think about her. It was as if she sucked out all thoughts from your mind. Her twisted shape sleeping soundly with the hand behind the head, operating that silent apparatus that pilfered your thoughts. And thoroughly unsettled, I would stand by the window and stare. Day after day. I felt neither love nor hatred because none of those feelings endured her presence. The stray thoughts that I forced into my mind would reverberate and die in the hollow nothingness within. This would quieten me which would annoy her. And she would start arguing. Not a passionate argument. An argument which spewed a kind of cold annoyance. 

Standing outside one night, I turned the flashlight towards the sky. It sent a straight beam into the night sky and faded into the dark abyss above. I switched the beam on and off like an SOS message. She kept straightening out the clothes on the line occasionally glowering at me.