This shivering won’t stop.
I had two shots, tonight.
The drink was fine,
I even came back on time, but,
someone quietly followed me, here.
I don’t remember the rest, something
drips from my hair,
the duct tape, the steel of the chair.
A gun pointed at my head – 
think, think, you can’t disappear
bloody THINK!
Buy some time, maybe
I should confess my crime.
Maybe, I admit that 
I stink of judgment, I know
I’ll judge you by your last name and your clothes,
the words you chose,
the product of your
environment, I suppose.
Tell me how am I wrong,
if this is all that goes
in this rotting, over-heating world
you built on chaos?

All I wanted was peaceful days of retirement,
where I could just sit and watch
the sunset, the seagulls and gaze
at my yacht anchored at the docks,
my private jet, four billions in a vault,
a safe haven where I could store
all your little gods, and still have space
left for extra four, but I’m stuck here.
Wait, let me see my family,
at least, one last time
I want to tell them I love them,
I love my school, my old room,
mud sprinkled calves, 
the puddles, the monsoon.
No, please don’t shoot, but
put a pitchy whistle piercing
through my ears, calm me down.

I had two shots, again,
tonight.
The drink was fine.
My shivering is gone,
the cold air doesn’t bite
Lights flicker near a plaza,
windows dot the sky.
Ample space left for more
material wishes, everything nice
one could ever dream of.
People kill and die,
then staple the corpses with reasons
and justify.
I prefer staying away from all
listen to the sirens
blaring in the distance
‘Two shots, tonight’
‘Two shots, tonight’ 

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Who is a writer?

Going by a certain definition, people say that a writer is someone who is a published author. But then that would only be about a percent of the total number of people who actually ‘write’. There are people who write books to boost their popularity and fanbase (and to get the tag), and there are people who write songs that are no less than entire books in themselves.

I’d tell you who I think a writer is. A writer is a person who writes solely for themselves. Whether it’s for pleasure or a form of self-expression, is a matter of choice – but the intention remains the same.

A teenage poem you kept hidden, scribbled at the back of a notebook that your friend borrowed, once but never returned. And then months later, people started asking you if you wrote it on your own, and that’s how they came to know about you and you came to know about yourself, and that writing is something you really enjoy. You realized it brings you happiness, gives you a sense of peace and calm, takes away your pain for a while.

But because you and me, and so many like us with all our third world problems didn’t set out with a fixed goal in mind to become a writer since day 1 – ‘oh, but writing is a very unstable profession and being a writer is hard’ – we remain unsure and confused about ourselves. And god forbid modesty, if you owe it anything, it won’t let you sleep.

So if you write because it liberates you, soothes you and helps you grow, you need not care about the number of readers. Because you’re giving out a lot more through your words than you can imagine, and because being true to one’s calling is something no one regrets on their death beds.

Once upon a time,
spoons running races
fell at the first step,
broke into pieces,
teacups and coffee mugs.
Taping itself in a corner, a heart giggled softly,
looked at the mess.
Hoping to be a little less than its memories,
a story was hushed,
few wounds uncovered.
The last person who broke it, 
poured some wise words.
‘Listen to your heart,
but your heart
never listens to you,
never gives up, never learns
unlike the teacups and coffee mugs
and spoons which decorate
our dinner tables, now
and don’t compete in silly races,
it still runs and falls
and gets up and runs again
and falls again and keeps running.
It doesn’t know how to stop’.
So beyond all the lows and highs,
there’s a love that lies,
but finds someone
running at the same pace.
Then there, all the cuisines
cook it and serve to the world.
The cutlery laughs.

Dear bartender,
Grab a large glass
I’ve walked a long way here,
Please pour me some scotch
I’ve still got a few coins
Left in my pocket
Someone stole my wallet
I seem to have lost my watch

These days, I pant a bit more
Now I sweat a lot, too
Powdered my joy and scattered
In the wind with a few
Of my friends’ mementos
Now I live alone like you
Because no one really care,
So I’ve slowly learned to do

Dear bartender
Grab another glass
I’ve nowhere else to go
Please pour me some more scotch
Let me tell you all my stories
While the opioid soothes my nerves
Nobody reads them anyway
Maybe they’re obscure like Botch

My jeans are all torn
From bending for her
She’s been gone for too long
Took my eyes, left some blur
Got me kicked from my house
My heart poorly taped
How do I numb this pain?
I think I’ll cut another notch

I’ll lay my head to rest
And tell it to shut up
What did you mix with my drink?
Never before it’s been so true
I got bitter, foul and grumpy
But it feels really good
Squeeze a lemon, add a couple
Drops of reality, too

Dear bartender
Never mind my tripping steps
I’ll find myself a shelter
It’s half past a lauch
Once I leave the bar for good
Please don’t tell them I came
I am closing myself up
Need a battery and a torch

The coins in my pockets
I spent them all along
On poisonous fluids and now
I’ve got none left for food
When I sober down a bit
I’ll dig the ground below
Maybe you’ll know, then, why I burn
Maybe I’ll understand you, too

The lids part and ‘lashes clung
My nose bleeds
My head hurts
What time is it, I ask the wall
I can’t feel my fucking legs
I walk slow
My faint nerves
People sleeping in corners
Somewhere close to me
SOAD plays
“Disorder! Disorder”
The mirror tries hard 
To reflect on
My life, skin and bones
What day is it, I ask the bed
My teeth smell of salt powders
I grab myself in lumps
Couch before the sunlight

Catches my eyes, another
Day has come to us. Why?
How far again is the night?
I ask the tap, and the water
Stings like cold needles
And I talk in riddles
Sometimes to you
Mostly to myself, alone
I turn it off and light one
I take a puff
My head hurts
The piles all around
My debt hurts
Where are you, mother
My stomach churns
I miss you, mother
My heart burns
It all comes crashing down on me
So I sniff something
Or take a hit
Whatever is close, whoever is trying
To bother me
Last time and I’ll quit, I swear
But then BAMM! goes reality
Woohoo, I feel gravity
For most part of this journey
The wings on my back
Were tax-free, six hours later,
All the meanings seem absurd
T..take a drag
My chest hurts
My collarbones, all the rest hurts
Someone threw me down hard, here
Last time
I quit, I swear.

I didn’t write this.

Though I wish I had, so you could read it. But not all stories are great and not all stories survive long, so I guess it’s okay.

I was tired from my day’s work and a constant headache as I sat down beside a road near the wooden bench, watching countless headlights approach me then turn away, the pedestrians walking in front of them, forming crisp silhouettes ready to be put on a canvas or inside a frame. That view looked like a photograph I had seen somewhere, perhaps on a piece of newspaper or an old magazine.

I thought I wanted to be a photographer. Or a car mechanic. Or just the people in those headlights.

That was my last memory of the outside world. A few steps left on my way back home when I heard a deafening noise in my left ear and the pain was so unbearable, I fell on the road unconscious.

When I woke up someone told me I had some disease related to blood, and that its treatment is only available at a few places across the globe, requires a lot of money and time, but still doesn’t guarantee success. Someone else told me that I could fill up a few forms and a few doctors would fly from other countries to check me up. Someone else told me something else I don’t remember, because everything stopped making sense, so they started telling things to my parents.

A lot of people walked past me, a lot of them were either sitting or lying around – stiff new-borns, wailing mothers, men with flies buzzing around their open wounds.

A couple of mornings later, I saw several learned people following a doctor towards the hallway, taking a quick look at everyone inside and then move out. They paused for a minute or two in the hallway to look at all the people there. I saw someone point a finger towards me.

They discussed something for a while, nodded & shrugged before moving on with their duties. I guess they didn’t want to touch me, either, like everyone else. A lot of days have passed since then.

I’ll be 21 in a few weeks, if I live that long. I could have been studying at a good college, or working a nice day job, or repairing cars. But a few weeks from now, they’ll sell the trash cart I used to pull and someone else will take my place near the wooden bench.

They say I have some rare type of blood disease still under research. I have been allotted a spot on the floor of the city hospital, where I hope to lie for a few more days. Then they will pick up my body and hand it over to my parents, who will have a hard time figuring out how to cremate me.

I never got the chance to go to school. I don’t know how to read and write, so I didn’t write this. Though I wish I had, so you could read it.

But not all stories are great and not all stories survive long, so I guess it’s okay.

The AFC gates don’t listen to you. You need to punch twice. Is the token not working? Maybe thrice, but it just. Won’t. Let. You. In.

Step aside, you need to change to the other row. Or maybe wait for your turn after the next guy, or maybe just go back to the end of the line. Only… a few dozen people.

Or maybe a little more.
 ________

A nice lady let me have the next turn. Her god bless that lady!

I was soon standing on the platform of the Govindpuri metro station towards ITO, watching the city lights from the balcony. All I had was a notebook, a few pens, my ear phones in a side bag and the newly formed habit of carrying a water bottle. I travel light, you see?

So the metro arrives.
And what else can you expect? It’s 8:15 PM on a weekday. Tada! (Sigh)

Anyway.
I get inside the metro, plug in my earphones and play the album ‘Themata’, beginning from “Cote”. Fuck off, world. See you later (at Mandi House, of course). Pause, plug out, deboard, climb up, climb down, board. Plug in, play. Towards Noida Sector 15.

I listen to the album for a while more, before a notification on my phone screen reminds me of something which happened in the metro towards Mandi House. I pause again at Akshardham. Go a few minutes back in time.

________

A lot of people had boarded at the first few metro stations after Govindpuri. I was standing near the two conjoined seats at the end of the coach, and a man with a little girl in his lap was sitting in one of the them. I remember myself nano-lip-syncing to the bridge of “Shutterspeed”: something something something, then ‘…lead myself back to a coma shell, no better face left too bare…’

The crowd inside the train was approximately half of Rajeev-Chowk-any-given-time, so naturally there wasn’t much space between the passengers. I don’t know the proper word, so I will address him as a mohammaden, a man who had boarded the train a station ago and was standing near me, right beside the man with the child.

I looked at the maulvi sahab. His all-white traditional dress, the frame of his reading glasses, his reddish hena-dyed longbeard now almost fiery with the warm light droplets from the coach hanging on to it. He looked like a box inside a four-lines page, a pattern-break I’ve named in people photography.

I followed his other hand down to his wrist – a poly bag and his mobile phone held between a couple of fingers and the rest of the palm. I looked at the girl on the man’s lap. The phone was well within her range and there she goes!

The girl inspected the phone like a baby monkey for well over a minute, taking it almost completely in her hands, totally unaware of her surroundings. She only stopped when she saw me observing her. Then, when she realized that the phone she had in her hands wasn’t hers, and belonged to a man she has never seen, she pulled away her hands and crossed them across her chest. You don’t touch strangers’ belongings without permission.

That’s it. Kids and their uniquely innocent gestures, I tell you. What followed would be labeled an ‘aww’ moment or maybe ‘cute’ with a lot of stress on ‘u’.

I couldn’t resist smiling at all that I just saw, so I slipped a minute laugh which, although unintentionally, got fivex amplified due to the earphones. I regretted immediately, but then the Maulvi sahab looked at me and he started laughing, as well and then we both looked at the man with the girl and he was laughing, too. There was an unspoken understanding right there among us, three humble, nice stranger-laugh-alongs being shared in a small setting, like a tiny light-bulb in the dark in a solitary barn on a large field in a remote area. No one minded the inconvenience, even if there were any. His phone could have been stolen that way, but he didn’t stop the girl even once from playing with it.

Nice man.

________

I heard a ding sound, saw the coach door open at Sector 15. Shit, run!

After barely escaping my ill fate of getting crushed between those closing doors like a fucking cockroach just like that for yet another day, I stood at Noida Sector 15 metro station platform watching the city lights, wondering how many people standing side-by-side would it take to form a straight line from here to that farthest light? Incomprehensible, I thought.

Then I looked at my phone screen again, the notification which set me off on my thought train, earlier. It said something about the recent reports of communal violence happening in different parts of the country. Several people dead, causes not clear or justified.

I looked at the city lights again. Maybe I was living in a different world, something Ian calls a ‘coma shell’. It would definitely take several thousand idiots like me to do something as silly as forming a chain from here to the farthest light.

Or maybe a little more.