I have always struggled with my self-description. I am a lot of things, and sometimes I am nothing. I am a lover, a warrior and everything in between. I fly and sometimes slide between extremes. I am very social and I am also a loner. I am timid but I am also very brave. How do you put a breathing soul in the mere capacity of words? For now, just call me Jean.
My love for you is like the green
In your city
You cut me off to pave paths and tracks
To build your life, with stones and bricks
As if this world is yours
You forget it’s mine too
It’s been mine before you
You adored me first
Then I was forsaken to the dust
But, I continued to grow on your sides
All around adding beauty
Unperturbed by your absolute disregard
My love transforms into a million forms
Like on a gloomy morning
When skies are losing tempers
I add to your beauty in the dark
Patiently waiting for you to notice
To take at least an insignificant look at me
And you are so busy
To cast a glance or to even see
I bloom into wild little flowers
Of colours yellow red and pink
Pastels, hues and candy clouds
Smiling at your existence
But for how long
Till you realise I am gone
Believe me you don’t want that
Cause then your skies will pour
Your sun will burn
The wind will aid more sun and less you
And both will set you apart in flames
Of sparks that flew between us
Closer to another world
One step at a time
What do you do?
What’d she do,
When her mind is slowly dying
But her heart’s beating;
One beat at a time
Slower everyday like if it was preparing for a new journey.
Her mind raced back and forth
To when she was a little girl
And bricks and leaves were
What she fed her imaginary tree guests
They were back,
But where’d she find their food
In a concrete jungle
She lived with a stranger
He was full of life
She knew him from somewhere
Where! She wondered every time
He walked closer to her, crashed beside,
Whenever he moved she beamed
At times he felt like a soul friend
Other times a ghost
But he lit her face up when around he was
He was a human made from star-dust
In a field full of horses
He was a unicorn
When he danced
Colors flew as sparks
She tried to trace their history
He was still a mystery
Drew a blank every try she attempted to locate his chronology,
when he moved so close
As if they were breathing life into
The universe in unison
On a stormy night, when all hell flew wild
They were fire
Her tree friends cheered when they were close
They complained when he moved away
Her mind sunk every day
And then one night, her heart accepted defeat
Her sun brown face changed to a subtle red
Oh the beauty, passing away brings
But she was leaving him behind
His eyes were as if set on fire,
His red face lost color, he knew
The melancholy that’d follow
Sunrise would never be the same again
Storms were growing cruel
Hey you, have you seen pain?
Pain is when words fail and
Songs fail to soothe
It’s when you know and you can’t,
Depression is when you feel lifeless
While you are awake
And you see your love going away
Beat by beat, breath by breath
Moment by moment, all in slow motion
A motion capture,
Of your life that is a fairy tale in reverse
She held his hand, clasped it with whatever was left
Their faces so close as if at any moment
They were to become one
The connection formed through their nose
Wasn’t it how you connect, the pheromones
Her hair was left open as if to taste
Her frail body rested against his
While he held her close
He was her last look of life
Phosphenes mixed with his face
His eyes that can melt the sun
She cast her longest glance
Before finally closing her eyes
To sleep forever
He suddenly felt the chills
He knew then, what winter felt like
When her warm breath withdrew
Her grip loosened and her heart
Calmed down from the first time
While her hair still had some life in them
Her ears were closing the last transactions for the night
And he knew he had a debt to clear too.
As he lay her down to sleep
and leaned close to her left ear
Kissed the nape.
There wasn’t time; he had to do it fast
Before she leaves her body behind
He whispered those very words
She would before demons took over her mind
“Sleep sweet, my love,” he said
And a tear ran down his cheek
The time stopped, and his world came to a halt
Maybe temporarily, albeit for a long time to come.
The Day It Began
Zainab tucked in Zara and left, Zara started feeling better in a while. She took her diary; there was a thread hanging there as a bookmark. She had picked the thread when she was in second grade at the backyard forest. They lived with her father in Kerala at that point of time, and Zara loved to scout the woods like any child of her age. One fine day, as she was walking through the forest, she came across a polythene bag and some other mysterious things around it. There was horrifying stench that emanated from that spot.
Zara was taught not to touch any mysterious things, so she rushed to tell her father about it. On the way, a little way from the plastic she found an unusual looking thread and this eight-year-old child brought it home. Zara reached back and informed her father about the package. There was weird gloom on the dinner table that night, and the guard never lets any child in the forest after that day. Zara did ask her father about it, and her father dismissed it saying it was roadkill and the deer’s carcass was probably dumped in a polythene bag to feed wild animals. He also warned her about dangerous animals.
Although after Zara slept that night, Fahad was livid at everyone for letting Zara anywhere close to the woods. The police kept visiting their place throughout that night which was always a rare sight to find them around the army quarters. Zara did watch a reflection of the red lights on her ceiling of their reading room as she placed the thread in one of her notebooks. She heard the incoherent conversation between her father and the police as Zainab put her sleep.
Later that night, Zara saw a dream that a lady was staring at her from across the bed. She was unable to breathe. She recognized the lady from somewhere, and her wide eyes kept piercing through Zara. The lady merely smiled at Zara. The smile burned Zara’s face as she woke up screaming, but there was no sound. There was plant growth all around her, and the feeling of fear overtook her body.
Fahad’s day had just ended, he entered Zara’s bedroom, and as he turned on the light, the sight of Zara terrified him. She had her eyes open staring into the ceiling and seemed as if frozen in time. Fahad didn’t breathe for a minute as he woke her up. She woke up and looked very reasonable as if she just woke from sleep. He kissed her sleepy eyes good night and went back to sleep. He dismissed it as a one-off incident. He didn’t want to cause any stress to Zainab, so he kept her oblivious to the event.
Zara started behaving weirdly in school the next day. She was quiet, at first, her teacher ignored it, but her grades started dropping. But she kept noticing Zara staring out of the window during her class. Every time her teacher saw it, it was as if a sociopath was staring at her. The teacher quickly took the matter to the school therapist, and Zainab met them days later.
Zara acquired a peculiar habit since that day, and since then she has been having premonitions.
“Zara uttered her first coherent word in the 8th month,” her mom said as she spoke to her therapist. Her mother Zainab didn’t believe in the dark arts or superstitions of a similar sort, but Zara’s sudden silence puzzled everyone who knew her. Zara’s English teacher was the first to point out. That was the first time Zara knew that her silence was scary to people. “Her silence is acidic, pungent, makes my skin crawl. Something very bitter about her. It’s as if something evil has possessed her.” Her teacher whispered her words to the therapist. Zara was outside waiting for them to finish, the little girl was oblivious as her mother accompanied her home.
“Zara, darling, is something troubling you?” Zainab asked that afternoon at lunch. “They bully me if I talk and get me in trouble,” she said through her sobs. Zainab let out relieved laughter. Zainab and her teacher resolved the matter in school, and everyone moved on. From that day onwards, Zara knew her silence had to be a secret. She concealed it with all the noise that she could conjure up. She grew up to the most chirpy girl in the tenth grade. That episode sunk in the background as if it was a distant memory in everyone’s mind until that morning.
Zara came down with a terrible back pain radiated to her chest. It was as if a million horses were racing through her spine. She felt the hooves piercing her back. The sensation radiated all the way to her chest, and every breath hurt. Every rib stung when she moved. She threw up a couple of times. She saw a myriad of colors as she straightened herself. The nerves in her head began throbbing, and she couldn’t open her eyes. Zainab rushed Zara to the emergency.
Zara had a robust immune system unlike her younger brother Zaid. Zara was more like her father who was currently in Africa on a UN peacekeeping mission. Zara had always been her dad’s darling. Zainab didn’t bother him with details that would have him worry. Unfortunately for Zainab, she had aged prematurely with all the work and family stress. She took out her cellphone to call her husband. However, she decided against it. She was sure it was some viral infection.
As Zainab grew restless, a resident intern checked Zara’s vitals. She asked Zara, “Did you meet with an accident or did you fall perhaps?” “No,” Zara replied. The young doctor was baffled. She examined her back and her chest and found absolutely no external marks of injury. She walked out with caution to her senior doctor. “Doctor, her vitals are fine, but her pain seems mysterious to me,” as they walked to where Zara lay. The senior doctor had a daughter of Zara’s age. He knew that he had to handle Zara delicately. As it is puberty was already hard on them. Despite being a doctor, he was always fascinated with how women were a miracle of nature.
“Zara, you have to tell me the truth, did anyone beat you up, playfully or even unintentionally?” Zara merely shook her head to say no. At least from what he saw, the girl wasn’t lying. There was something icy about Zara that he could feel in his bones. She looked so beat up as if she’d never been able to wake up again but her eyes pierced through him. He felt as though he was in the middle of a deserted land covered with shards of glasses and all sorts of plant growth. He wanted to run and never return. However, when she spoke the doctor thought that the warmth had returned. He was back in the present.
The doctor gave the go-ahead for other diagnostic tests, and all of it turned out completely normal. Finally, they let her off with a painkiller injection. Zainab took Zara home, and Zara recovered in a couple of days. The mysterious illness appeared again, and they went through the same cycle with the doctor. The senior doctor was puzzled. But he never saw her again after the second time. She was on his mind for a long time.
To be continued….
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She twirled by the window, dressed
in a long red skirt with a fringe
For the poor boy, it felt like a glimpse of the Candyland;
His own tie-dyed tunic caught her eyes.
And they both stayed still,
while the rain poured like love
and the lightning struck like the flash of a camera shot
on landscape mode.
Your death smelled so pleasant to me
Like it was the first rain of the season;
The caution of an incoming storm.
Well-dressed men rushed into my office
They told me you were unwell
You were shot in the abdomen
By the enemy forces
They shot you through your jacket
That had PRESS written on them.
I gathered my stuff from the table
It wasn’t much
Keychain with a scented bottle
A book, and a pen
All that you gave me, and hurried towards the hospital.
However, then I was diverted towards home
The smell of eerie silence circulated inside
the car that we drove
across the desert.
While our friends left this place, some country
Moreover, some the earth itself.
However, we held on, we were adamant
This land was our home.
The vehicle slowly made its way through the
It poured incessantly.
I prayed in silence that we drive forever
and never reach home
But we inched closer.
The parking lights of numerous cars
and their beautiful red reflection on the raindrops
lit up the way to our home.
Our home never looked so beautiful
They didn’t have to say it out loud to me
I knew for sure.
My heart beat in ultra slow motion
Like the time, you shot me on your phone twirling
You shot me moving closer to your face.
I knew it was all over
As I got out of the car,
I felt the smell of frankincense flowing out of
Where you once stood and
Smirked at me
At thirty, oh so young
Remembering the time I mocked you
Called you old, closer to the grave
and I laughed out loud at the doorway as you left for work.
I didn’t mean it; we were going to
Travel some more,
Write some more weren’t we?
The storm knocked electricity out
The candles smelled pleasant
I bent down to pick a white rose at the door
That probably lost its way inside from.
Your casket smelled so ethereal
As if I was feeling your face through my nose
Lillies covered our floor
Also, there you were in the center, lifeless
The body as they called it
Because you left without saying goodbye.
Our house was in dressed in flowers today
Around you, over you and all over.
If only you smiled
Your death would have been as heaven-like
as your life.
Your death smelled so pleasant to me
That I cried.
Reach out to me
like I am all you see.
In this crowded city
Among a crowd of million beauties
Show me how to feel again
Touch me and let’s fly
Seek me out and let’s hide
Between narrow streams that flow down
Like melted ice in May
Let’s hang our prayer flags
And ask the wind to carry our wishes up above
Sit around a fire
Tell stories of lions and bears
About how they come out to hunt in the darkness of the night
Hold me tight
And let’s share warmth and a bottle of rum
Sway to the tune of a peaceful melody
Let’s lie under stars
And watch as time lapses and takes us along
Let’s call it a party
You, me and these little cuddle monsters
That we pet as let silence take over us
Smile, blush and make our faces turn red
Let’s watch the fireflies come out alive
At the deadbeat of midnight
Come to me love
And kiss me one mo’ time
Reach out to me
As the blood moon touches us one last time