I have a few words,
Stuck in my throat,
I have a few words,
On the sheet that I wrote,
I have a few words,
That are hard to explain,
I have a few words,
That no one can claim…
I have so much to say,
About the dogs in the street,
I have so much to say,
Of the brave naval fleet,
I have so much to say,
Of the Love that I share,
I have so much to say,
Only if I could Dare…
A little girl in her ragged white outfit,
stood at the temple gate along with her brother;
the duo seemed like God’s children,
for I could not see the girl’s mother…
She stared with fervour at the Goddess divine;
her hand clasped her little brother’s, while
another clutched her frock’s hem;
her face was lit-up by a smile…
Soon the drums played alongside the flute;
the little girl stood on her toes,
careful not to step into the temple,
for maybe her family had had enough foes!
She held her brother closer to herself,
and leaned in to take a look at the drum;
her muddy feet balancing on the doorstep,
she waited for the drummer to come…
The temple drummer walked up to the gate,
as the little girl grinned as wide she could;
he beat the leather drum with skill,
using a drumstick made of wood…
He beat it loud; the girl wasn’t at ease;
she dropped her brother’s hand,
and took two steps away from the temple drummer,
who indeed wouldn’t let her stand!
She shut her eyes tight,
her hand covered her ear,
but she still looked out for her brother,
she was much in fear…
Losing her balance, she tripped inside;
her matted hair fell on her face;
she found her brother, and with him ran out
of the temple, this was a race!
Festive season in India literally translates to just one word: ‘Food’. The variety of food items you get to see during a festival is incomprehensible… It is not a bad thing to have 29 states after all! The north Indian tandoori food, the south Indian variety of rice, the different types of fish from both the eastern and western coasts and of course, the Italian and Chinese cuisine which almost every Indian mother prepares these days; in this context I presume it is safe to say that when we say ‘Atithi Devo Bhavaha’ we not only mean ‘Guest is God’, we also mean ‘Feed the Guest like he is your own kid who returned from an exile of fourteen years’. To those who didn’t get this one: Lord Rama returned back to his kingdom after a fourteen year exile on the day of Diwali (which is celebrated to mark his return). You get the connection right?
Guest => God => Lord Rama => Returning from exile => Diwali => Festival => Food
And when I say food, let us not rule out the most obvious item: Sweets! Everyone loves them, well, most people do anyway. Sweets are everywhere during festivals, and they come in so many flavours! Oh, you don’t like a lot of milk products? Try the sweets made out of dry fruits then, or the ones that use wheat or something…. But you have to eat them, it is the festive season!
Festive season reminds me, it is the second week of October and it is time for Durga Puja aka Navratri, which as a matter of fact is currently going on! It is a 10-day festival, and I think we are about half-way through today, so my mother and I went out to purchase some sweets. We went to our favourite sweet store in Bangalore after a good deal of shopping. That means I had my hands filled with different bags while my mother walked about with her hands free, pointing at the stuff she wanted and all that she could do with a pair of free hands.
As we entered the already crowded sweet store, I glanced around to see if I found familiar faces, this place is pretty famous, many people I know came here! I was really hoping to find an old friend or someone I hadn’t seen in a while so I could just drop the packets down and have a little chat, but in vain. I just saw one familiar face apart from my mother’s, that of the cashier. A bunch of chubby aunties were busy selecting their favourite sweets and my mother soon joined them while I stood aside, staring out of the glass onto the busy street we had just left behind. I noticed from the corner of my eye a boy who looked so bored that nothing worse than a zombie apocalypse would take his boredom away!
The weird thing that I have for observing people, I started observing him, trying hard to make it look not-so-obvious because we were in a tiny, crowded sweet store and I would have nowhere to hide my face if he caught me observing him. He wore a loose, dark grey t-shirt and black Adidas tracks. It looked like his mother had just pulled him out of the bed for the sake of company and was dragging the poor soul around. She shoved a piece of a type of sweet into his hand which he clearly didn’t want and asked him what he thought. He popped it into his mouth anyway and nodded, probably even before the piece had a chance of landing on this tongue.
He walked toward me and joined me, staring out of the window onto the street. He had his I-Pod in his hand a pair of white earphones that made him next-to-deaf in the crowded store to his mother who was tired of calling out the name ‘Aditya’ so often that she preferred walking over to where her son, who was the tallest customer, stood in order to talk to him. Five minutes after I walked in, the duo walked out and I found another person to observe. It was a salesman who worked so enthusiastically that he was ready to give us one piece of the sweet my mother demanded instead of a whole kg, which was the actual request. I think dealing with so many people made him a little crazy, poor man. He offered a girl a kilo of the sweet she had asked a piece of just so she could taste it! He must have been really tired. And that girl was a cunning girl too, she asked for one piece of the sweet she wanted to ‘taste’, but hey, she got to eat what she wanted without paying for it!
The variety of people you see in a sweet store is just fantastic! A little while later, while my mother was confirming the order and moving on to pay the bill, I saw a little boy walk in with his grandmother. They were Muslims. I can never misidentify a Muslim in a crowd of people! He seemed like a Syrian or Iranian by the looks of him. His milky white complexion and sweet accent were enough to confirm this. He looked at his grandma in a confusion; his hand gripping one end of her dupatta. There were so many people and so many sweets and the sweet-sour smell of all the food… So confusing!
“What do you want?” His grandmother asked affectionately. The way she clutched her purse in both her hands said that she was eager to spend money on her grandson who stood by her side in his denim jeans and a smart bright yellow-blue striped shirt. “I don’t know,” he said. “I want the normal peda!’ he said, referring to the famous Indian milk sweet which he couldn’t see through the number of legs that covered the glass of the racks in which the salesmen had so carefully placed all the sweets separately. His grandmother took a little while to understand what her little companion meant by ‘normal peda’. Then she saw the different types of the sweet being offered by the store: Red Peda, Milk Peda, Chocolate Peda… What not!
Finally, she walked over to the counter, pushing through the chubby aunties and their men or children, whoever accompanied them. “Give me half a kilo milk peda please,” she spoke delicately. Minutes later I saw a happy boy leaving the store with his happier grandmother. I turned around to take a look at my mother who had finally paid the bill. Soon, we walked out of the sweet store with another packet in my hand and my mother pointing at the store she wanted to enter next…
With long lashes and fluttery eyes,
those gentle moves and calmer lies,
she preys upon his soul – so innocent,
she preys upon his love – so sweet…
Playing with his feelings, she doesn’t care,
enchanting him with looks and that constant stare,
killing him inside and appearing so loyal,
she’s filled with the sweetest poison of love…
Drowning him in wines, depriving him of fear,
she makes it all stable, everything is clear,
it’s his downfall that awaits him in her arms,
a waiting to pierce his heart…
He is aware, he does know,
that his lover is his foe,
but then, love is stronger,
than the approaching death,
stronger than the forces of Heaven and Hell…
I know where I went wrong,
I painted Love Blue & Black;
I painted it in the color,
But that is the color of Attack!
That is the color left on the skin,
After a Punch so strong;
But if it’s the mark of such a strong Love,
Then how can it be wrong?
“Aren’t you Blue Alex; the Lover Boy?” He asked me in his hoarse voice. I nodded. He was a young man in his thirties who had a broad jaw, a bulky body and cropped hair. He sat in a white shirt and army pants. “What are you doing here? This is no place for you!” He smoked his cigarette, clearly disturbed by my presence. “Where am I anyway?” I asked as I observed my surroundings. I was in a black room with no doors or windows in sight. The walls, the floor, and the ceiling were all black, but surprisingly it wasn’t dark. I felt like I was in a studio for a shoot and the hot-lights were invisible – not a trace of the light source! “They call it the dark room. It is meant for people like us.”
“What do you mean ‘like us’?” I asked. “We are Emotionless.” He replied bluntly. We sat quiet for a long time. “You’ll spend eternity here, mind if I introduce myself? Or ask a few things about you?” I looked at him and nodded, unable to smile. “Sure, tell me your name first.” “I’m James Cole, used to serve the army before I ended up here.” He shrugged and continued, “Is Blue Alex you real name?”
I felt like laughing but couldn’t, “No, no, no!” I shook my head as I spoke. “My name is Alex Weaver.”
“Fancy a name like that!” He said in a loud voice that would have shaken up any normal person. I just sat there and nodded; normally, I would’ve smiled. “How did you end up here?” I asked. “Came back from the army after developing PTSD…” he explained. I nodded again. “One day I was re-experiencing and I ran down the stairs; must’ve slipped, hit my head hard. I think I am in coma, I don’t know.” “I didn’t know PTSD made you emotionless.” I said. “They said it was a symptom; Blunt Affect they called it. If I find a way out of here, I might just be able to feel again!”
I didn’t know what to say and so I sat still. “How did you end up here? You are like the guy who puts emotions in to everything; makes people cry with his songs and all that… What happened to you?”
I stared into the blackness, “It’s a long story” I said. “Well, we’ve eternity ahead of us.” He rubbed the cigarette butt against the floor and sat up crossed legged, facing me; waiting for me to begin. I looked at him, hoping that my eyes stated the obvious when they didn’t. “I prefer not to talk about it.” I spoke again. “Well, you have to at some point of time. Wake me up when you want to talk again.” Saying so, he lay flat on his black and placing his arm over his head, fell asleep almost instantly.
I sat all by myself and thought about all that had mattered to me in my life. It was a long list and on top of the list was the name of Summer, my fiancé. I pulled out the wallet from my pants and opened it to see her pretty face. Her grey eyes smiled at me as a strand of her strawberry blond hair covered her cheek. Her perfect teeth smiled at me through her slightly parted lips that I had kissed so often. She wore a bright blue cardigan, a gift from her mother on her 24th birthday. I felt like talking to her and pouring out my feelings once again. I remembered every word to the song I had written for her, I tried singing it. The love in my voice was lost; I didn’t do justice to my baby. I had no proper pitch or tone. I was the useless thing I am.
My babbling woke James up. “What was that?” he asked. “I was trying to sing for Summer…” I muttered. “You were singing?” He asked, cocking his head to one side. I nodded. “Okay…” He sat up, “Why don’t you sleep for a while?” “I just can’t” I told him. “Are you an insomniac?” “Sort of,” I admitted. “I had depression.” He shook his head and looked up at me. “Wasn’t that after your father passed away, six years ago?” he asked. I nodded. “That was when I had returned from the army…” he said thinking deeply. “But you were never this…” he hesitated. “Horrible at singing, I know.” I completed his sentence. “Since Summer’s accident six months ago, I went into severe depression and developed signs of Flat Affect.” “Wait, Summer had an accident?” he asked, maybe surprised. I nodded once more. “I told you it is a long story.” I said. “Well, tell me from the beginning will you?” He asked hopefully. I thought for a while, “Alright,” I said.
“Tell me as far as you know about me.” I told him. “Well,” he started. “I don’t know much… I was not that into your music, frankly. All I know is you are the guy girls went crazy about. Your father had passed away six years ago, I heard your song for him on the radio and it made me cry. I missed my dad that time… And then I heard something about an engagement with Summer. That’s all!” I nodded, each of those events playing clearly in my head.
“I was really close to my father.” I spoke. “He introduced me to music which earned me whatever I ever had. I went to a music school where I met Summer. I was in a relationship with this girl called Lora at the time, but somehow I always found myself thinking about Summer. We became really close friends and this angered Lora. I remember the night we had fought. We were out on a date and later I invited to my dorm room. We were both in a good mood, there was no thought of Summer on my mind; it was only Lora.”
“She teased me a little and I took control, pinning her down on my bed and kissing her. She hit me with a pillow that lay next to her and soon we were play-fighting. It was a beautiful night. After having a nice time, we both lay in my bed, tired. I walked out of the room to get some fresh air while she slept and there I saw Summer, walking all alone in the distance. I waved at her and she waved back. I signalled her to walk over to my dorm room and she did. ‘Hey,’ I said. ‘What are you doing out here so late?’ She asked me the same question in her reply. ‘Lora’s sleeping in there, had some fun tonight’ I said with a goofy smile.”
“She wasn’t happy. She nodded and said she had to leave. I followed her, determined to find out what was wrong. When I returned, I found Lora fuming with anger. She started abusing me and calling me names. I knew what had happened…” “She saw you guys together?” James interrupted. I nodded. “I lost my temper at that point. We had a crazy fight. I had to punch the wall several times just to make sure I didn’t end up hurting her. She broke up with me that night.”
“What was the deal with Summer?” He asked, taking interest. “Her mother never wanted her to pursue music. She had lied and come to the university. Her mother had found out and they had had a fight. She was upset.” “Oh…” I nodded again. “It was a while before things got back to normal. Two years after I had met her, Summer and I started dating. She convinced her mother that music was all she wanted and we moved into a shared dorm room. Everything was perfect. We graduated and I found a voice in the industry, had to albums hit in a row. I was living my dream!” I saw a hint of a smile on my companion’s face.
“One day, 15th of June, to be precise, I got a phone call from my mother. Dad had been in an accident. He was on the way to see me and Summer… I remember I had cried every day for a week. Summer never left my side. She came with me to my hometown to make sure I was okay, because if I was okay, my mother would be okay. She took a lot of pressure at the time. She was my only support back then. And although she had tried hard, I did slip into the low side. It wasn’t that bad though, I wasn’t suicidal, just generally sad.”
“Because of her I was able to bounce back into the industry and reclaim my stolen spot. I was the star again, the Blue Alex had returned and so had the Lover Boy of millions of girls out there. I sang the songs they loved, I wrote many more, about my father, about Summer. Everything was going well. And one day after a show in Miami, I was alone with Summer in my hotel room. I was crying. I had given my last performance of the day and it was the song I had written for my father… I had started crying mid-performance, but the crowd had loved it. Some cried along with me… I returned to my room in her comforting arms.”
“She let me cry and said nothing. She knew me better for four years now; our anniversary had passed with us travelling from one place to another, but she didn’t complain. She was the best I had ever had. ‘Alex,’ she told me once I had composed myself. ‘I love you, and I always will. Please, never think you are alone.’ And I had hugged her so tightly, she was out of breath. She kissed me on my eyes and put me bed that night; that night I knew she really was the one for me.”
“We were both 22 at the time. Years passed and we grew stronger. Then my fame boomed with the song I wrote for her.” “’Summer’s Girl’” James said. I nodded. “I had listeners in countries I never thought my music would reach! Russia, India, France, Sri Lanka, Germany… I was on top of the world! And she was by my side. But my commitments to work and our personal life lost balance, we often fought, she complained, I shouted… life sucked. But I never wanted to lose her. ‘Your love for me killed our love’ she told me one day. I was shocked. I loved her too much!”
“This was two years back. I cuddled her at the instant she spoke those words and told her it was not so, I was hers before anyone else’s. We kissed slowly, tears rolling, I felt like I was in a music video! Everything was beautiful. That evening, we ended up in bed and I proposed to her. We were officially engaged within a week and slowly, but surely, everything fell back in place. I was still a depression patient, but life was wonderful! We were due to be getting married this year…” I stopped speaking. James said nothing either. I closed my eyes and rested my head against the wall, praying hard for a tear to fall, but it didn’t. I took a deep breath.
“My ‘tour de amour’ started six months back. I made it a tribute to Summer; we were getting married soon after it ended. She was joining me for this tour on the final day. I was at the airport, waiting for her to arrive, humming Summer’s girl to myself and signing autographs to the countless girls who shrieked ‘Blue Alex!’ the minute they spotted me. I called Summer, we were running late. A lady officer picked up the phone. My manager tapped my shoulder and pointed at a TV screen nearby. I saw people turning away from me but glancing at me so often, it made me nervous. I looked at the screen: *Singer Blue Alex’s fiancé Summer Weaver rushed to the hospital after a car crash*”
“I was shocked. This had to be a joke! I couldn’t lose the two people I loved the most to two stupid car crashes! I walked towards the exit but my manager pulled me back. I wanted to visit my baby, make sure she was okay and all the guy cared about was the damn tour! I was mad and sad but no emotion showed on my face, I was in deep shock. We boarded the flight; I called my mother and asked her to make sure Summer was okay. She promised she would take care of her. I don’t know if I ever got over the shock. My performances in the first two cities were bad, but they were accompanied by condolences. Things were getting worse. There were no updates on Summer’s condition on the news, but I knew she had slipped into coma.”
“My performance in third city was almost a month after her accident, and I barely showed emotions now. I was giving my closing performance, Summer’s Girl. I thought I’ll end up crying again, but it didn’t happen. I couldn’t bring any emotion in the song. I sounded funny. The crowd booed. I was so uneasy… The people who loved me were booing me and the person I loved was not around. I blacked out and the next thing I knew, I woke up in my green room.”
“I went back to my hometown. There were news flashes everywhere about Blue Alex’s failure. Everyone mocked Blue Alex, but it was Alex Weaver that died with every comment that was passed. ‘Weak-hearted, softie, drama-queen…’ they called me everything, and then they tagged me ‘Emotionless’. In order to take a break I left for the summer house where both Summer and I had had beautiful moments. Last week I heard from my mother, Summer lost the battle. She passed away.” We were both quiet. “I’m sorry,” said James.
I shook my head and looked away. “It is my birthday today…” I spoke bluntly. “And I celebrated…” I looked at him. “I overdosed on the pills and had enough vodka to knock me out. I’m dead, James, literally. I thought I’ll meet my baby once I was gone, but look where I am…” I placed my head on my knees and closed my eyes. James tried comforting me with words I didn’t understand. His voice was fading away. I looked up to see him disappear into the dark walls. He woke up from his coma and left me all alone.
I sat alone in the dark room for days, unable to sleep, nothing to eat. I was going crazy. I wanted to express! I wanted to talk to someone, a person, my Summer, someone! I often found myself talking to my wallet. It made me sick. I realised how emotions earned me everything and lack of them brought me to a dark room. I was useless, I was emotionless.
It is the new age,
working hard for a daily wage,
trapped in a circus cage,
decorated in its own rage…
Around the cage grow trees of money,
reaching out to the purple sky so sunny,
but in the end this is all so funny,
for the sky is more purple than it is sunny!
The rivers of grime are flowing fast,
taking along the age of past,
letting the new age be the cast,
although they know they aren’t the last…
The new age is breathing in chemicals;
No more is it haemoglobin in their pulse!
The new age is thriving on the medicals;
I wonder what will be their chronicles…
All documents are wired,
lesser people are hired,
most of them are tired,
and all of them are fired!
The new age is dying,
it isn’t even trying!
Money that’s for buying
is being used for spying…
Inviting its own doom,
the new age is going boom-boom,
with all that nuclear in the room,
and its chemical fume…
Our age has died,
and the new age has lied;
the method is tested and tried,
our resources have dried…
It is the new age,
waiting for a sage,
locked in their cage,
decorated in its own rage…