It is a cloudy night. No stars are visible. But the city lights are being reflected from the clouds which appear like dusty cotton, arranged gracefully with a few small dark patches of the cloudless sky.
Under one of the tall streetlights contributing to the light pollution, lies the hospital parking. Like everywhere in California, the parking outside this hospital too is a huge flat land, with absolutely no thought given to space management. The parking is huge but almost full, he could find a spot only after going to the very end, and hoping not to hit a car in the dark.
But that was 3 hours ago. Right now he lies in the driver’s seat of the car, extended to the maximum comfort. But the thoughts offset all the comfort the seat tries to provide. He looks at the 4 red lights in front of him, refusing to turn green after what seems like a century.
The art of waiting has been mastered by him. It feels like he waits for a lot of things. He drives things too, but none of the conventionally important things. For those he prefers to wait and be content in whatever is given by fate, and privilege.
Suddenly the lights turn green, yellow after exactly 10 seconds, and a couple of seconds later they are red again.
He continues to wait, for them to turn green again.
A new city, a new world
New faces, new names
What is old is the struggle,
To share a smile, instead of the joke
A new city, a new world
New food, new tastes
What is old is the watch,
To wait for the meal, instead of the people
A new city, a new world
New work, new accomplishments
What is old is the happiness,
To solve for a million people, instead of the boss
A leg in 2007, a wrist ten years later. It was funny how every time his heart broke, a few bones volunteered to give company.
Probably to disguise the pain.
“Ah take a pain killer” they would say.
“We have seen worse times” they would convince.
Smile, is all he could manage. And some music, to drown the voice of his shrieking heart.
Sometimes you have so much in your mind, that nothing comes out.
A phone call is all it takes, to change lives forever. Sometimes it pushes you in an ocean of scary uncertainty with statements like “Kohli, Navneet ko kuchh hua hai, koi kuchh bata nai raha” (Kohli, something has happened to Navneet, no one is telling me anything).
Other times, the voices from the other side are calm and composed. They silently throw you into emptiness. They just state the fact as they are. They can be as simple as “nahi” (no) when you desperately shout to the other person, “is he alive or not!?”.
Last year, it was a dear friend. This time, on the first anniversary of that friend, is a senior. The times when you are forced to believe that the worst happens to the best of us, you are consumed by both despair and fearlessness. You stop believing in everything you thought to be obvious till now. Suddenly, lung cancer and smoking seem completely unrelated. Drinking and driving start causing deaths to innocents rather than the culprits.
The fond memories of laughter, discussions, let downs, guidance do remain with us, but the reality of God’s cruelty haunts the heart in nights.
Navneet and Sagar, wherever you are, hope you keep making lives of others beautiful like you did with us 🙂
Alcohol touched his lips
Wandered through his throat
Reached inside, making its magic
More came, drowning his liver
Adrenaline rushed into blood
Raced towards everywhere
The effect reached outside, showing its trick
More came, he now picked up his keys
Petrol ignited, flooded the engine
An ego soothing vroom now being heard
Burning inside, it readied its show
More came, now refusing to stop
Blood now crawled where the car was
Brown coloured highway now blushed red
Fleeing from inside, it now ran free
More came, never agreeing to stop
Seeing the bright pink petals,
The bee couldn’t resist
Flying in love and joy,
He rushed to the seductive petals
Moments later, exhilarated he danced
Kissed the flower, sucked the nectar
Drowned in pleasure he failed to see
he hadn’t arrived, but was brought
The beautiful petals swiftly began to close
Before he realized the delicious poison started affect
Unable to understand, he gasped for air
Strangled, he cried for help
“Yes”, said the flower to the betrayed lover
“In the world I was born to kill
With fools like you love never gets over
The dinner is on me, your life will pay the bill”
It is incredible how the meaning of ‘freedom’ has almost completely become ‘choice’. We have choices between Apple and Samsung, Suzuki and Enfield, Reebok and Nike and so on. But we have lost the freedom to talk, to explore, to wander. In the quest of owning means, we have forgotten or made to forget the abstract things of which they were means of. We are mindwashed into believing that owning the means of communication is what we really want. It doesn’t matter if you are really feel comfortable in communicating.
Probably I am wrong and having the choices is indeed more important than the old-fashioned freedom for which people gave their lives. Probably all they wanted was free markets and foreign investments when they hoisted the national flag for the first time. Probably they wished somewhere deep in their hearts that right winged leaders take up the mission of displacing and eradicating minorities in the name of development when they walked shoulder to shoulder without noticing the beard, the hairstyle, the turban, or the cross.
We are today flooded with ideas (and one of them is this). Ideas that tell us what we really want, what will really make us happy, what is really the right thing to do in some random situation in which you will probably never be in. But all these ideas really have one thing in common. They all come with a huge amount of self pity and regret. They talk about things that you should have done earlier, things you should do but can’t, things you never thought about doing but now you know you will never be able to either. But thank God you have your smartphone so you open social media so that the cycle of ideas and self pity can start again.
But if I am against right wing politics, free markets, foreign investments and choices, I should be prepared to be called as anti-national, communist, maoist, terrorist, sexist, dentist and other ists. Is it a co-incidence that the poorest societies in the world contain the most dangerous anti social elements while the most powerful ones are the rightful protectors of justice? How does every act of ‘humanity’ done by every government of the world somehow directly brings fortunes to the corporate world?
Who cares! Where is my smartphone? I need to be awake and google ‘how to fall asleep’.
The sea looked beautiful
So different from land
Mesmerized, the diver jumped
Into the ocean his dreams had
The ocean was made of change
No sign of pause wherever he saw
The exciting sea now felt tiring
Sequence of changes leaving him in awe.
His tales transformed from mermaids to sharks
Ideals changed from Phelps to Grylls
Once a firefly, he became afraid of darks
Hunger of adventure was now struggle to survive.
For the second time in last 6 months, he left home in a hurry to catch the first metro. It was still dark, dogs were once again looking at him with suspicion, barking occasionally.
Ironically, his mind was restless this time too, but so much was different. Earlier, fear and guilt were the culprits. This time it was the excitement of the slight possibility that something good could happen today.
With the first step to enter the metro, he looked at his phone. It didn’t ring this time. No one called in a shivering voice to say “call me once you reach there”.
The phone was silent. So were the few early risers quietly seated inside.
The train started. His mind trying hard to convince his heart that today is indeed different. Not every time this route at this hour leads to that building with a red plus on it. A red plus and the soft music, shining floors and walls, painted with despair.
The train after, after half an hour appeared from underground. A sign that half the journey is done. Oh! He looked at that red rising sun! The most beautiful sunrise ever it could have been. He thought this 6 months back. He thought of it and his body shivered. It was Dusshera – a holiday that pleasantly came in the middle of the week. Like this time, he was sitting in the last coach. But unlike today he was then in shock, voices of a group of cheerful teenagers discussing the height of tallest Raavana (the intelligent devil that is burnt on this day) being made fell on his ears, as silent tears rolled down his cheek.
The station came and he woke to the present. It was time for the hackathon he worked so hard for. The memories were stealthily left back in the last coach, so that a new and different day could be started.