Drops of Rain

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As the first drop of rain falls,
I can only start to think again,
That life can begin in May again.

The dust in my eyes is washed off,
the lust in my soul too.
The love in my heart, still unrewarded,
again joyously yearns for you.

Blooms my mind with thoughts,
When that first rain hits the earth,
Of unfinished dreams and a life,
That begs to be lived uncompromised.

The air cools all around,
And takes my mind to that wonderful place,
Where there are thoughts of home,
And people waiting for me unrestrained.

The petrichor then hits me,
Makes me once again realise.
That there might not be time left,
Even to live a life half satisfied.

But, as the last drop of rain falls,
I can only start to think again,
That maybe, just maybe,
life can begin in death again.

Memories Blurred

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You evoke feelings that I thought
In time I had somewhere lost.
But why can’t I seem to remember,
Having met you in some previous time?

Do you exist or like a mist you are,
There but not there at the same time.
Cause I remember reaching out for you,
But I do not remember ever reaching.

A fleeting glance of you remains there,
Deep within the recesses of my mind.
But despite everyone telling me otherwise,
Why can’t I remember more of you?

Your smell still lingers here,
Like a lily plucked fresh from a garden.
But were you really here besides me,
Or was my mind playing with me again.

You are a mist I firmly believe now,
A mist that is always around me.
But the more I reach out for that mist,
The more it seems to not exist.

The Lady and the Knight

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The daughter of the generous lord,
is a lady pretty and kind.
The daughter of the mighty lord,
is a person hard to find.

She has friends numbering in thousands,
some are black, while some are white.
And one such friend is a person,
who is one of the king’s knight.

Be it war or be it peace,
the knight would stay in touch with her.
And when there was a crease in between,
he would always mend ways with her.

The lady considered him to be sweet,
and as gentle as a dove.
But till when could he be content with it,
so soon his friendship turned into love.

He told the lady all about,
the feelings that his heart bore.
But she didn’t respond to his feelings,
instead her happy nature turned sore.

Her answer was ‘no’ all along,
but she couldn’t let the knight know.
Because she feared that his fragile heart,
might just break into pieces two.

With hope he daily wrote her letters,
asking for her approval.
Then one fine day, one such letter,
reached the lord instead of the daughter.

The lady cried and plead for the knight,
but with the lord’s wrath those were met.
For loving someone of a higher social status,
the knight was sentenced to death.

With the lady’s name on his lips,
he bravely walked towards the guillotine.
He wanted to see her one final time,
but nowhere was his beloved seen.

His head was placed on the slab,
the blade was ready to rip.
It was then that he saw his love,
and a content smile crossed his lips.

In the final moments of his life,
he did not think about his teen.
Instead he thought of his lady,
before the drop of the guillotine.

Us and Them

Sam and I moved along the trenches. Last night’s heavy rain had made the ground extremely difficult to walk upon. Every now and then we would slip or our feet would get stuck somewhere, but this wasn’t even the most troublesome part. Once in a while our feet would step on or trip on dead bodies, sometimes we even fell down on the top of bodies. The stench that invaded our nostrils then nearly choked us, made us want to throw up, but we hadn’t eaten since yesterday morning, what would we throw up?Despite all this, Sam and I continued to hurry along the trenches, without any light. We moved along in the utter darkness. But more than this darkness, the dead bodies strewn all around us or the mud, what discomforted us the most was the silence, the ‘pin-drop’ silence. We were in the middle of a war, in the middle of a place where just till this evening, a terrible battle was being waged, a battle which was guaranteed to drag for a few days. Yet, now there was nothing but silence. Had everyone died off so quickly or a ceasefire had been initiated?

“Something’s terribly wrong, Mark.” I heard Sam’s voice between his heavy intakes of breath.

I knew something was terribly wrong, but how was I supposed to respond to this statement of his? With speculation? I didn’t care for all that stuff, not anymore. There was too much going on right now on the continent, for anyone to even make a remotely correct speculation. And so, Sam and I continued moving in the darkness, in the silence.

There had been eight of us who had been sent behind enemy lines this morning, to take out some mortar posts of the enemy. We had taken out the first one with little difficulty. Sam decided then that we must use this mortar to take out the other sites, while a few of us would go to another site, making our work shorter and our return to the warmth of our bunkers that much quicker. We all had agreed. I and another soldier, Philips, stayed with Sam to control the mortar while the others leapt out of the trench to approach the next one, only to be instantly cut down by machine gun fire.

A faraway sound of a machine gun brought me back to reality.

“Is it us or them?” Sam asked.

“How the hell am I supposed to know?” I replied to him, irritated at him for asking these stupid questions.

“We must find out because that is the direction we are heading towards. And if those are our friends, then I don’t want to get killed just because we were wearing the enemy’s uniform.”

Surrounded by the enemy forces, we had decided that to survive in that mortar site we would have to wear the uniform of the enemy. And so we had exchanged our uniform with those of the dead enemy soldiers. 

“How are we going to find out who it is?” Sam asked again.

Nearly shouting, I replied, “If the machine gun is on the right of us, then it’s them and if it’s on the left then it’s us. And if it’s ours, then we would shout out our regimental details so that they don’t fire at us looking at our uniform.”

It was not that I was frustrated with the war, no. I was simply frustrated at what Sam had earlier done. After the incident of the mortar site and the exchange of uniforms, the three of us had been making our way towards one of our trenches. And we had nearly reached one when Sam in his excitement unpinned one of his grenades. Whether it was done deliberately or by mistake I don’t know. But by the time Sam was able to get it out of his pocket and throw it away, it was too late. The grenade burst in front of Philips’ face, showering the surrounding with his blood and brains, and threw Sam and me off our feet and knocked us out cold. When we woke up, we were greeted by this silent and dark world.

We were walking in the direction of the machine gun fire, which still seemed far-off when we saw a flare light up ahead in the sky. The flare didn’t manage to light up our surrounding, but it did reveal to us soldiers moving about up ahead. But which soldiers those were, I don’t know.

“It’s a search party! Colonel Higgs was telling us that he would send out search parties tonight. Those are our people, we are saved!” Sam shouted and began running towards the flare.

I for one couldn’t make out who those soldiers were neither did I remember colonel Higgs saying anything and right now when we were so close to returning home, I didn’t want to commit a mistake that would get me killed. So, I ran after Sam, to subdue him.

The flare was gone by the time I caught up with him and tackled him down on the mud.

“Just shut up!” I said to him and punched him in the face. It was an involuntary action, there was nothing I thought about it.

But Sam in retaliation punched me in the gut and began screaming out his regimental details. Suddenly, a madness took hold of me and all the irritation and anger I had for Sam, came out. I grabbed his head by the hair and began mercilessly punching it, all the while saying,

“Just shut up! I don’t want to die because of a foolish mistake of yours.”

I continued punching his face long after his body stopped squirming. I continued punching his face long after its hard features had become pulpy. I only stopped when another flare lit up in the sky, this time right above my position. And I didn’t stop because I saw the mess I had beaten Sam’s face into, I stopped because standing in front of me was one of our soldiers, a soldier who was seeing a man clad in the enemy’s uniform, a soldier who had just seen a man beat another to death.

Before I could speak out anything, he fired a volley straight at my head.

The Battle of Kurzgesagt

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Headlong they charged,
headlong they fell,
but headlong they charged again.

Firmly we stood,
firmly we were battered,
yet firmly we rose again.

They decimated our knights,
they smashed our infantry,
they destroyed our war machines.

We decapitated their commander,
we captured their prince,
we ran back into the misty woods.

They burned the trees,
they forded the rivers,
they chased us like wild dogs.

We ran like hell,
we went far ahead of them,
until we reached a sheer grey cliff.

They surrounded us there,
they threatened us with death,
if they did not get their prince back.

We complied with their demand,
we beheaded their prince,
and we threw his head towards them.

They vowed to drink our blood,
they made their battle formation,
they prepared to charge against us.

But headlong we charged,
headlong we fell,
and headlong we charged again.

Cost of Dreams

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It had never been Gladwell’s earnest desire to work in the paper mill, yet here now he was, toiling day and night for a promotion to the post of ‘chief of mill’. A post, for which his wife, parents, friends and neighbours were more excited than him. He simply worked in the mill like a ghost, not caring about whether he was promoted or demoted.

It was not that he hated the paper mill, he simply had a liking for it like watching movies might be a liking for a football star or hearing music might be for a scientist. The paper mill only fascinated him like a hundred other things did. His first and foremost desire had been to be a painter. But coming from a working class family which chose to get him married off at twenty-two, he had not much choice but to become the bread earner of the house. Taking these for a temporary inconvenience, he had joined the work at the mill, thinking that one day he would return back to his painting. But he had just spiralled further and further into responsibilities which forced him to stay in the paper business. Gladwell, who once had been a boy who couldn’t have survived one day without touching a brush, now had spent five years without having done so. He had, as would be expected from a person in such a situation, grown into an irritated and humourless man.

As he locked the door of his office and made his way down the old corridor with pest infested carpets and cheap wooden panelling, he thought of running away from the city. Running off into some place where no one would know him and where he could follow his dreams without the undue hindrance of responsibilities and society. But this was not the first time he was thinking so, and like every previous time, these thoughts of his died down as he left the main door of the mill and got into his car.

He looked at the grocery list lying on his dashboard. He had been forgetting to shop for the past two days. His wife would really eat into his head if he didn’t complete this task even today. And so, starting up his car, he made his way downtown, towards a familiar grocery store.

The drive to the store was uneventful, and the state of mind of Gladwell during the entire ride was blank. He had often begun to relapse into these blank states since the past few months. This made him bitterer than he already was. Parking the car in front of the store, he made his way inside. And if it was not for a mother and son at the far end of the aisle he was facing, he would have assumed the store to be closed, because of its dim lighting and the lack of an employee at the cash counter.

Buying the things written down on the list took not more than ten minutes, after which, alongside the mother-son duo, he reached the counter, which now had an employee. He was standing right behind the pair and so couldn’t help but overhear their conversation.

“Mom, promise me that you will let me go into the line of acting and not force me to study.” Said the boy, who seemed to be in his mid-teens.

The mother, who seemed a little old to have such a young son replied back,

“I just told you back there, I have no problem with which career you choose to follow, as long as it is legal.” She finished her sentence with a slight smirk.

Gladwell recognised the insecurity that plagued this boy. We as little children believe our parents without a second thought, but as we grow into teens and our demands become a little preposterous, it is hard to believe when our parents agree with them without any protest.

The boy hugged his mother tightly and said cheerfully,

“I promise you, I’ll be a great actor one day.”

Gladwell couldn’t help but feel happy for this boy. At least he was getting the chance to pursue what he wanted and not what his family’s situation demanded.

He scanned the mother and son from top to bottom and reached the conclusion that they were well-off, at least more than what his family had been when he had been the boy’s age. What if his own parents had been slightly, just slightly richer than they had been, would he to then have gotten the opportunity to follow his passion? Maybe yes.

As he reached the counter, and the billing of his grocery began, he decided that he would work with double effort in the mills, so that he could amass enough money, so that his children would never have to forsake their dreams. Gladwell, for the first time in his life, began to have dreams not for himself, but for someone else.

My Mistress

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Sweet as the river that flows beneath,
an eternal moon starved night.
Glorious as the wind that blows away,
the dark clouds of gloom out of sight.

Proud as the mountains that stand guard,
against evil that hath dare to spread its wings.
Yet accepting like the waters of the ocean,
which doesn’t differentiate good or bad things.

Radiant as the sun on a summer’s day,
providing peace to those who have lived in cold.
Gracious as death itself which relieves,
the suffering of those who have grown old.

Soft as the kiss of an unrequited love,
but wild as a panther from the Amazons.
Such is the mistress who caught me,
In her love’s embracing horizons.

The Death Conqueror

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O mother, sweet mother, I’ll return to you,
When weary of the worldly conquests I’ll grow.
I’ll rest my head on your soft lap then,
And a lost tranquillity my body will again know.

O father, caring father, I could never tell,
how much love and respect I had for you.
But when I’ll return from the tiring quest,
Like mother, I’ll hold you in an embrace too.

O grandsire, my dear grandsire, worry no longer,
for what deeds in my time I might commit.
For when I’ll return home from the brutal world,
Our family’s name would be atop the highest summit.

O friend, my loyal friend, not for long now,
Will you miss my presence in the field.
For I may return bruised and battered,
But that old enthusiasm for playing I’ll still wield.

O love, my unrequited love, I desperately hope,
that in your heart rises a flame of affection for me,
when you hear about my exploits and toils,
when you hear how I fought against destiny.

O cosmos, ruthless cosmos, I’ll now go to sleep,
for I have to be refreshed when I return,
to my city, to my playing fields,
that milky place under the sun.

Prepare for me a meal worthy of Gods, mother
arrange for me the largest welcome known, father.
But more than that forgive me for not being,
as good a son as I could have been.

I’ll now go to sleep, a peaceful rest,
for warriors like me do not die.
But I’ll rise again in your womb, mother,
rise like the sun rises in the sky.

I’ll wake up as a better version of myself,
I’ll do deeds worthy of paradise next time around.
But for now let me simply drift off to sleep,
under that fig tree, on that soothing ground.

In Conversation

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“There was a young man who said “God
Must find it exceedingly odd
To think that the tree
Should continue to be
When there’s no one about in the quad.”

Reply:
“Dear Sir: Your astonishment’s odd;
I am always about in the quad.
And that’s why the tree
Will continue to be
Since observed by, Yours faithfully, God.”
― Ronald Knox

 

“This garden is a little too uncared for.” I said to no one in particular, but to the gentleman walking beside me it seemed as if I had spoken to him.

“Eh? What did you say?”

I think he was a little hard of hearing. Calmly I repeated my statement to him, while he kept on nodding his head.

“It wasn’t like this always. Once there was so much love and compassion and joy here, once an eternal beauty seemed to last here.” He said looking into the far distance.

I couldn’t make heads or tails of what he just said, maybe it was just a bit too poetic for me.

The two of us kept on walking on the dilapidated brick path that cut smack through the middle of the garden. The grass’s growth on either side had been unchecked for so long that I could right now barely see the bushes hidden behind them. I made a rough estimate as to how many bushes were present and realised that this garden once must have been beautiful. The trees were the last remaining symbols of this garden’s glorious past, but to me, they seemed far less attractive than any random tree I see on my way to the office. But somehow this ruinous garden had a beauty.

A couple of birds suddenly flew out from the tree I was presently gazing, and I followed them with my gaze until their playful flight pattern grew monotonous.

“This garden is an allegory for the world!” The stranger exclaimed, causing me to break out of the reverie that I had begun to enjoy so much.

“What do you mean?” I was once again utterly confused at his statement.

But he for one remained silent, and our walk continued. I right now hoped that I had come alone here, I was not much used to the kind of mystery and uncomfortableness that seeped out through this man.

Beyond a bend in the path, we saw a man, probably of my age, climbing a tree. My attention would have soon shifted onto something else had I not seen the awkward way in which he was making the climb, there was a great chance that he might fall down.

“Hey, mister!” I shouted across to that man, “Be careful with that climb of yours or else you might fall and snap your neck!”

He for one just flashed me a thumbs-up and continued with what he was doing and I waited a little while longer to see what his final aim was.

He put his hand into a leafy part of the tree and brought out an apple that was blood red in colour. But this singular action of his caused the upper part of the tree to shake so violently that several apples fell down and a flock of birds flew away from that tree.

“And that’s the world for you.” Said the stranger.

I somehow didn’t have the energy anymore to ask him, in vain, to explain his cryptic statements, but this time, luck had something else in store for me. He explained on his own accord.

“Man reaps the fruit of the elderly’s work, while the young are ignored and have to fend for themselves.”

I wouldn’t say that this statement of his was far less cryptic, but at least I understood bits and pieces of it, enough to formulate a reply,

“The world’s not that much gloomy.”

“And who are you to say so?” He asked.

“I am a part of that world only.”

“You see a garden which is in ruin and you feel it must have been beautiful in the past, but you do not take steps to restore its glory because you are busy in your self-interests. And if you are part of the world as you say, then how is it not a gloomy world?”

Somehow his reply infuriated me a lot and I immediately jumped up with a reply,

“But you too ignore it!”

He stopped midstride, while I kept on walking. I was too irritated to wait and listen to his reply.

“But I do take care of this place, that’s why you found beauty even in the ruin.” He said.

I had had enough of his pseudo-philosophical responses, I turned around to confront him, but to my utter shock, I saw no one there. The path, the garden were empty for as far as I could see. The grass was not tall enough to hide a full grown adult and there were no trees nearby to which a man could run and hide. It was as if no one had been with me.

In the distance, I could still see the earlier guy plucking apples from a tree, and a couple of little birds flying around from one tree to another.

At the End of Hope

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Alas, it was not meant to be,
despite the efforts that we did put in,
for life on the principle of proportionality,
between struggle and reward does not work.

Alas, now we have to venture forth,
towards grasses greener or even a wasteland,
for staying still is no longer worth,
when hope itself has been squashed.

Alas, we will have to settle down one day,
far away from our dreams and into reality,
and look onto our bygone youth that may,
swell us with sorrow and not pride.

Alas, we can spend our time in grief,
and repent on what was and might have been,
or else we can rise up with hope again,
like till now we have always done.