Friday, May 28, 2010

Simple Connectedness

[My entry for this week's 3WW prompt]

Everyone know it looks like a spider; in fact, when looked down from the sky above, the silken roads leading in and out could be taken to resemble the web a spider might spin around itself. Stay connected.

The words of his mother had stuck him odd then. But now, standing under the shadow of one of the eight stairways that lead up in to the bluish grey building, its shadow slicing him in half, his realisation that his mother had been correct did not surprise him. She had been right about the passenger seated next to him in the bus- the one with glazed expression in his eyes, his shoulders perennially resting in a shrugged position, the two orbs of his earphones tending to his ears, his red jumper zipped up to his neck despite the fiery heat, his hands as high strung as those of a penitent and an air of diffidence around him. Others seated in the bus seemed like the clones of his co-passenger and remarkably silent too; the eyes of those along the window occupied with the drab landscape of the surroundings; the eyes of those along the aisle closed or half closed in deliberate sleep.

There are eight levels in the building. Not eight floors. These levels will only be visible to those who know about it. To your eyes, no levels will be visible. Only five floors.

Please stand in front of the mic and repeat the following word: Zeitgeist.
He did.

The word surprised him. His attempt to pronounce what he took to be a pseudo German word discomfited him. They will know you and what you are. The word will be drawn from your native region. He had prepared for a word like catamaran. Had they upgraded their system? Was this imprecision a sign of weariness, a sign of techno-fatigue? Or had his mother forgotten something? Or had his father been a German? The gate to the stairway opened and he walked in.

Once you are in the building, they will be able to read your mind. Only your mind. Only those of the newcomers and known dissidents. There will be no noticeable change in your body nor in your behaviour. They will never influence it. It is quite a snug fit except for one little flaw: you will suddenly feel happy. But be warned: DO NOT EVER SMILE.

He found it hard to suppress his smile and very hard not to thank his mother. She had indeed been right. He looked up and the sight before his eyes overwhelmed him. Hundreds of hunched figures, including the few who had accompanied him in the bus, were now scurrying up and down the gravity defying ramps that seemed to lead everywhere. There were no discernible sources of light around but the whole building seemed to bask in some ethereal light. He walked up to the lounge area and seated himself on one of the plush chairs that dotted it. The lounge area was a raised circular platform built around a tree like structure. Suddenly, one of the branches of the tree dipped down to him and a small palm sized display opened out of it. He saw his name printed in black preceded by a welcome sign on the display. Before he could respond, the screen displayed the details of his meeting and a voice as soft as a whisper requested him to proceed immediately.

Do not accept what they offer. Harangue if needed. If they appear too impressed, be quick to lessen your impression. Remember: you have to start at the bottom.

He was not sure of his co-ordinates as he stood outside a door. The walls extending along the corridor seemed to end in some infinity, painted white save for thin black rectangular outlines every ten feet. The display above each door kept pointing to the right until he grew tired of walking and paused in front of one. The door opened into a room and he walked into it. Immediately, the ethereal light that had blinded him at the lounge begin to pour into the room. Save for a chair, the room was empty. As he seated himself, the light withdrew and a screen emerged out of nowhere, right opposite him. A few words scrolled across the screen.

You are asked to add 2 2's. Will you be surprised if the answer is 6?

Do not ever think.

Eight questions and half an hour later, the door was thrown open and a figure entered the room. The screen had disappeared and the light gradually began to let itself in again.

We are mightily impressed with your performance. You will start...

Light the cigarette.

Smoke coiled around the room before dissipating. The man seated opposite him seemed both uncomfortable and confounded by this. With a seemingly assured shake of his head, the bottom.


Join tomorrow were the parting words. Moments later, without knowing how, he found himself standing next to the exit door.

The most important step of all: as you emerge out of the building, before you open the door to the exit, think of the woods where you live; think of the snow that falls outside; think of this cabin which you will abandon now; think of the footsteps in the snow pockmarked with blood.

He waited outside the stairway for the bus to arrive. Long, lonesome silhouettes fell upon him. He will be on his own once he had fulfilled the last of his mother's instructions. It was time.

Turn and look behind at the glass facade. The square of glass lit by a yellow light. You will find your father there.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

What use this cry over spilt oil?

[My entry for this week's 3WW prompt. Inspired by the photo on the right. ]

What did they say? It will go away...never will never worry were brave enough to grasp a strand of grass...the driest one in that..what if your hands bleed? will all stop...cherish will help you... it is like reading the newspaper: read the sports will keep you happy..never dwelve into the middle pages...what do you see there?...this bird stuck in oil for example...what was it thinking when it jumped into the sea?...didn't it notice the change in the colour of the sea?...did it really believe that huge wings had spurted out of its shadow covers the breadth of my vision as I dive in...ah!look at me!, where is it?... gasping for a breath of oil-free air at the shore...a kitchen is the hell that a bird dreads the most...and this one must wonder, well I may be slick with oil but I am not dead yet...I may not fly again but my guts are not on a plate, my feathers are not for sale...I am not roasted!..aye water! the mirror you hold up when I beckon you to see my reflection, it is broken! ha ha!!...what do you say now?...what?! I am not an old crone, the one with broken foot who says to herself, I seen the world...what use a foot?...I need not pacify myself like that...go clean up will ya?

Friday, May 7, 2010

Summer Sonata

[My entry for this week's Three Word Wednesday]

From a mosquito the hum that escapes,

a stifled imagination seeks to rhyme

and divine, the nature of their whine:

Is it the scraping of their twin bayonets

on ruddied whetstones, as in wait they lain?

Is it the vibrant hymn they sing, the battle cry,

before they pierce and cause nettling pain?

Is it the howl of gloat from these miniature rigs

after slurping the blood they drained?

Or is it the wail uttered by these guardians

of Dracula's lost soul, for all their slain?

From a mosquito a hum escapes,

and this imagination seeks to rhyme,

the nature of divine.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Death of a Slipper

I hold the cobbler seated at the corner of the street in very high regard. I do, for he has never had a problem in mending my foot wears. Compared to him, even doctors appear fallible in fulfilling the requirements of their job for fail he can't. And I respect him a lot because he has never had a problem in mending my foot wears -those of such absurd state that apparently, as my sister observed once, dogs think twice before chewing them. A year ago, I had taken my shoes to the cobbler- as ever, an old man who I suspected of not hesitating to pluck some silver hair from his beard were he to run out of threads to stitch. One look at one of the pair, barely an infant but with its sole gaping at the road like a one-eyed troll, was enough for him to claim an exorbitant sum to mend it. As he expected of me, I tried to bargain but he refused to swerve from his position. So I had to politely demur and walk across to a shoe store nearby and buy myself a new pair of shoes. There was wisdom in the buy, I convinced myself for I do not like to splurge on footwear. I follow my uncle's dictum on footwear: them of no use but to guard the foot from what it walks on. One could dismiss such an opinion as functional but how elegant and sagacious it is! And since then, it has been easy for me to choose and buy footwear and more importantly, it has never taken me longer than 10 minutes to head away from the nauseating stench of leather.

But the problem is that they tend to wear off faster than it does for others around me. The sole erodes, or if it is a slipper, the annulated big toe holder splits or just comes unhinged. Same happens with buckled slippers too. It is not about the quality or the brand; I have tried shoes and slippers of nearly all brands but longer than six months, they never last. Bata, Durable Chrome Factory, Adidas, Nike, Paragon, even the plastic ones with counterfeit labels - no matter; my foot treats them with an equanimity and impartiality that school students can only dream of from their teachers.

On a rainy day, with dark clouds hovering above like an UFO, water puddled in the furrows made by the rain on the road and jaggedly flowing across the soil heaped beside the road, I found myself on my way to the cobbler with a pair of slippers. The toe ring had come unhinged from one among the pair. I had my doubts about it for the split portion of the toe holder hung in mid air, like a half constructed flyover, over a pear shaped vacuum where the sole should have been, the toe ring ruptured in such a way that it had come away with the piece of leather it was supposed to stick to.

So I found myself outside the cobbler's den, him and his tools resting on ground at the foot of a tree with a black tarpaulin roof stretching over them. I took out the slippers from the plastic bag and gave it to him. He held it in his hand for a moment and gave them back to me with the words "Nothing can be done about it". His instant verdict was stunning. As I had suspected, he pointed to the vacuum where the toe holder was to be held and suggested that I throw the pair away. Unlike for a doctor, one is better off without consulting another cobbler for second opinion. I walked back home feeling a little dazed. His acceptance of failure, this inability to stitch and append a pear shaped piece of leather to the sole, the speed at which he weighed his options and pronounced his verdict, the gawky look that flashed across his visage when he noticed the disappointment on my face, altogether startled me. Of course, there lay in my house, numerous pair of slippers and shoes that I had discarded or had not cared enough to mend. But fail a cobbler never has and his fallibility rankled till I reached home and stuffed the bag containing the pair under the shoe stand where it will rest till I throw the whole lot of it out.