Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Another Day

A woman ran after the cow letting it run amok on the railway platform. It had a black and white patchy coat. Her hoofs made a distinct clicking noise. She kept turning back, stealing glances at the lady, slowing down and picking pace as and when the woman neared it.

They faded into a distance.

Then came a mooing which kept getting louder as it neared. A calf in panic.It went on and on.  Maybe the patchy one was its mother. It looked at everyone on the platform confused and kept making that desperate call. On and on and on it went.

A small herd of cows passed by and it joined them in visible relief. They all slowly moved past the people on the platform staring at them. A big cow and three calves.

People resumed watching each other again. 

Alien Within

I have an extra-terrestrial inside me. It keeps looking at human beings with a suppressed smile. Some kind of a paranoid happiness.

Being the host, I could never detect its presence. Only once did it slip, revealing itself.

That happened on a train journey. One of those monsoon days. Rains lashed around the whole day soaking Calicut in a mucky mess. And by evening all was quiet. Creatures of dampness started squeaking and creaking after a prolonged lull.

People inside the train compartment started raising their windows reluctantly. There were almost a dozen people in front of me somehow pressing themselves on a four feet seat. Half of them were a family with few slumbering kids. Kids kept dozing, their heads swinging up and down.

One kid kept crying for tea and they got it for him. With shaky little fingers, he kept balancing that paper cup, huge in his tiny hands. Another started wildly swinging so much that his mother arranged a long towel on the floor of the train to sleep.

Everyone slept off after a while. Except me. I kept watching all these people while the damp winds from outside blanketed me. 

And my alien smiled for the first time, unable to suppress anymore. Out in the open.

That’s when I knew it. 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Fire Story

And then it spread. Orange flames rose up to lick the dried leaves into glowing grey embers. People were running downstairs carrying buckets of water and desperately throwing it into the spreading fire. Thick black smoke spiralled up and filled my floor reducing my visibility to nearly half. The fire was like an enraged serpent hissing and sputtering its way into the hillside dangerously close to my building.

Two parallel thoughts wrestled with each other inside me. Help them in this losing battle or flee. There was still time to make away with a few things before the flames swallowed the buildings and trees. I ran around the house like a trapped animal, now gathering my stuff and now returning to the balcony to stupidly throw coffee mugs after coffee mugs of water into the sputtering flames below. It was as if my mind was split into two each grappling to take control of the body.

And suddenly someone ran down with a large water hose and started spraying pressured jets of water into the fire. For the first time, it displayed some signs of recession. About fifteen-twenty minutes of spraying two tanks of water, the maddened creature disappeared into the blackened soot leaving an emasculated smoke that smelt of defeat.

With a thumping heart, I went inside the house to slump onto the sofa and closed my eyes for a while. When I opened it, through the smoke-induced tears, I saw the bags I had packed. Certificates, laptop and some books. Weirdly, books. The possessions that might have defined my life had the fire ate the rest.

I remembered Frances Harrison’s narration of the civilians caught in the final battle between the Tamil Tigers and Sri Lankan Army in 2009. With indiscriminate shelling all around them, they moved from one "so called" safe zone to the other with their belongings as the war progressed. There were bags full of certificates which were thrown away along with the other things in their order of priority in the course of their exodus to death.

Life, defined by one’s instant possessions.


Image courtesy: wallpapercave.com