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A Scintilla of Thoughts

the cat’s pajamas

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Fiction

How To Save a Life

A Piece of Advice

Age, race, gender – yet what remains undivided is our ability to give advice. We always have a scoop of this happened to my neighbours sibling, poured to the brim of our necks, which obviously gives us complete jurisdiction over any matter. Coming to terms with the harsh reality – that each one of us is a blissfully small vessel with a leaky hole at the bottom – is something best avoided.

I do sometimes let my particular wisdom overflow, because having had a shallow experience of over twenty years – of no particular tragedy, it is my duty to show those around me the passion I contain for understanding humanity. Hence, here’s my very irrelevant, just-thought-of, delightful secret – live and let live.

No seriously, as long as it is not mentally or physically devastating anyone – it is not a problem. If it is, do your fundamental best, with whatever knowledge or power you’ve garnered over the course of your short guest appearance, to stop it. If the laws of nature do not allow you to help it be stopped, bottle your delicious pieces of advice up and give hugs and comfort to whoever might need them.

That’s all I have in my cup of tea right now.

Veiled

Feminism.

Doesn’t that word itself pull a trigger inside you? A flush of anger? Is the word too radical for you?  Too demanding?

The word is nothing but a symbol of the struggle a certain sect of society has faced over centuries. It is the notion, the belief that fully liberates the “weaker sex” from the shackles of patriarchy.

Patriarchy, the existence of which seeks to  shelter itself under fields of modernism. Patriarchy, something you shrug off as an element of the past, as you continue to sip tea made by a maid who is paid less than your manservant. Patriarchy, a socially prevalent evil, which you choose to accept has been overcome and yet you forget that to this day, thousands of women struggle with their identity behind a veil.

It is very easy for you, with all the privileges you struggle to maintain, to point out how feminism is a weapon against men. You type out a tweet speaking about the lack of a men’s day. You write enraged articles about how the legal structure of India tends to favor women. You loathe the fact that women have reserved coaches in the metro while you try to glimpse down her shirt. You have brief chats in your office breaks that women today have the same  opportunities as you, yet they fight for a cause just to get an edge.

Feminism does not mean that women need an edge. It simply means that women need a push. For when you venture out beyond the fact that you “let your wife” go to office, you will see the great lot of misogyny that exists in each nook and cranny of the world in some form of the other.

Till the day we feel a need to applaud women  for going out of their comfort zone, or achieving a feat meant for men, or shedding their feminine traits to “work like a man”; till the day personal choice is not a luxury but a need ; we will need feminism as a crutch for women.

When Maslow was right.

We would quite often visit the vendor outside college for a cheap and refreshing cup of tea. There’s something about the street, some secret ingredient they add, or probably just the feel of the glass, that makes the ten rupee sips a highlight of your day.

We’d sit on a low table and chat,  while the chai wala would pour out the kadak drink and come to serve it to us. It tasted of everything around us – the road, the typical Indian traffic and the silly tree that had seen our college being built but told no stories.

The first time we went, we started conversing, trying to read each other.  She told me that she believed  musicians today were to us children what poets were in the 16th century. How there was always this one song which described the saddest thing about your life, at the moment, whether it be losing a lover or unrequited love. Yet, how most of the creators of the more beautiful art would isolate themselves, and why. How there were some who reached out to millions but failed to inspire themselves. She spoke for an hour, on something which meant so much to her, because apart from the kadak chai, art was something that helped her.

I kept an empty glass on my side, and it touched something. There, I noticed, lay a tiny girl, probably the chai walas daughter, trying to find the most comfortable position to sleep on the creaky wooden table. She turned to her side, this position would block most of the sun because it was partially covered by the silly tree, then closed her eyes and smiled.

One spoke how music helped her on her low days, as the other dreamt of the day when she had got two rotis for dinner.
One would save money to buy a poster of her favorite artist, and the other for a packet of namkeen.

I paid the chai wala twenty rupees for my cup, and we left because we had a lecture to attend.

This land is now mine,  the Grand man exclaimed,  borrowing from the Mother a piece of her soil. He cleared it of the helpless trees and bushes. He had worked hard for it,  and this was a product of his toil.

The first brick was laid, a foundation. The first stroke you paint on your canvas, which will remain still after layers of paint have been added to create a masterpiece.

The first wall, a humble barrier of red, was then built. The first line of the poem which could mean anything, but would hold strongly the poems lyrical beauty.

Nights later, a modest four walled hut put together to cover the purchased part of nature, and protect it from its own. A roof, a door, a window. A luxury.

Grand men need more than luxury, because they have worked so hard for it. So the Grand man did not stop.

Another storey, upon the first, and then another. When I stand up on the terrace, I’d like to touch the sky, instructed the Grand man. And so bricks were piled and cement spread.

And then it was complete,  his beauty. For him,  it wasn’t bricks, but his sweat that held his twenty storied home together.

But the Mother, she disagreed. Sweat doesn’t pain your brothers. Sweat doesn’t kill green trees. Sweat doesn’t exclude those meant to coexist.

So she shook.

The Grand man, and his grand creation, now returned to the ground, where they belonged.

A sapling begun to grow between two fallen bricks.

How high will you go before you come back?

Carve

Pick up a pen with your permeable fingers. Your veins, they are visible, and they yearn to leak the sorrow and the joy that trickles in them. Print on paper the meekness of a child, the love of a crow or the sorrow of a rock. Prance with ink and touch the paper with why what she said hurt you today, or why what he said uplifted. Prick the lines with your golden nib and scream at them, scream how obscene society is, how materialism chews at your conscience and how you believe that capitalism is the only way forward. Preach your religion or tickle at being a cynic. Power your words with a world of your own where leprechauns are kings or choose to crash into the reality you live in. Pick up the pen and write, write to change or just because it pains.

Stir emotion, anger, grief. Stir the extremists, the moderates.

Question. Cry. Carve.

Distract

 

I was the wind and I, I brushed past you. You seized to notice, crying inside the beautiful bubble formed by the strings of your withered perception. I stayed for a moment, taking hostage in the trees, whispering to you, whining to you and you’d look at me with rose-tinted glasses and sigh, for I wasn’t yours to breathe. Or so you’d believe.

I was the peacock with a tapestry for wings, and when it would rain, I would hide my tears with an upward gaze and shadow my face with the brilliance of vivid pastel shades. They had been carefully embroidered to please – and distract. You’d look on from a distance and lament, for my joy was not yours to share, my beauty not yours to feel. You’d go  back to sleep in the warmth of your covers while I, I’d pretend to dance in the rain for a glimpse of your glazed, lonely smile.

You were someone who would never find the white daisy in a field of swamp, a daisy which yearned to be plucked by you from the dirt.

Obedience

“Mother, I will not go to school from tomorrow. I hate it.”

“Why, what happened, Billy?”

“A big boy came to me in the bus today. He asked me for my lunch box, so I gave it to him. But he punched me when I told him not to eat all of it!”

“What? Why did you give him your lunch box?”

“He had told me that he wanted to be friends with me, mother, and you had told me to make some today.”

The helpless mother wished to put him right back in his crib, for his first day at school had taught him more than she could in three long years. She had taught him what numbers were, today he had learnt how to count, and soon he would solve Calculus.

Oh, her worst fear, her fragile one had taken his first step into a perplexing hell called life, and she could but be a mere witness.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Imaginary Friend.”

Last Laugh

It took half a lifetime full of cliffs and ridges for her to finally make his smiling face the first thing she saw in the morning. Tears and scars had blooded the lines on her palms, to the point that they would represent her past, and not her future. It had begun how it concluded, a smile. A slight gaze, a chat, a night shadowed with conversation. They were what any two people in love are, two innocent hearts completely disconnected with the rational section of their brain. When they got together, a hut became a mysterious castle and a bed, wonderland. Calm as a lake yet stormy as an ocean, a feeling best left undescribed. They then faced the wrath of reality when society would pull them apart, for they were born as could not be. They fought a valiant war, against all odds, and emerged with battle wounds so deep, but the victory nectar couldn’t be sweeter. Each day, they then woke up hand in hand, looking at destiny with a new found respect. Memories they made and songs they sang, and time started flying as it always does.

She glimpsed at him, her trophy, her star, which she had stolen from a possessive night sky, meant to be her little niche of peace in a chaotic world. He looked strange with his eyes, so perfectly coloured, now staring blankly at the roof. Twenty years later, there was no change in his smile, but his face was now without emotion. She couldn’t understand. She had pushed all who came in between her and hers. She had never felt so helpless before, as she couldn’t push away the force that had finally snatched him from her.

Death had the last laugh.

Crowned

“You can never do this.”
My tender fingers smiled, for they had work to do. They had been moulding a crown. Soldered by naysayers and caste by those who mocked. Plated with ductile dreams of gold, then polished by cutting words, it could now impart spectral reflections. Reflections so vivid, they could hurt the eyes of those who stared with spite. It was spectacular the way light got emitted from the embedded gems, which were themselves dark inside, since they were knifed by rejections. My thumb chuckled, since this was the last push the diamond shaped from nothing but hearts of coal would need. The masterpiece was ready, now waiting to rest on my head for the world to see and to control a mind that would do exactly what it was told it could not.
It would conquer.

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