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Monday, September 28, 2009

Quest.


Its 2 am precise on the Tuesday 2 days short from the last quarter of the ninth year post 2000 years After Christ. And it just struck me what flavour the people of my new world thrive on.
I can’t recollect or identify when it began, damn my obsession with self or short existence. But tonight I know what I, like the rest of my kind, will spend my most probably numbered days doing.
Going ahead, progressing.
Doesn’t sound maniacal enough to be the subject to cross my mind an hour before evil is most alive, eh?
It’s the next level of terror. See... progress here too!
Progress Progress everywhere- Not a place you can spot that evades it- This damned progress.
An apt rule for life, is it as apt for ‘living’?
Let’s think together on that.
The purpose... Just assessment of thoughts. Not taking them anywhere! There can be meaning without progress too.
Say what?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

'Yellow' (Final Version)

Yellow

They say the curse still lingers... That silent afternoons carry his noise, pedalling roughly through the villages’ desolate paths. That he looks around. That he waits. Not like he had much to do ever!
Jayadols’ remaining few inhabitants now only walk to get to their destination... or it is rumoured they will fall.
When asked about this, she only laughs... her coarse laughter, wet yet. Never hinting. Though everyone knows she knows. It was her curse after all.
And she sings diligently every afternoon. To the silence they believe is him. Maybe just to keep them believing... Who knows?
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“Sheetaala Bauuaa sheetaala... chau gangya paari kheti meri, eeju kheti meri... Sheetaala bauuaa sheetaala...” (Sleep my baby sleep... I am to cross four rivers to reach my farm... so sleep)
As sand engulfs all in its piercing blanket. Suffocating within, everything that happens. Sharp heat pours, flooding the desert drowning that stands amidst: A forgotten piece of thatch, within it... forgotten people.
The lady of the hut, in her later thirties, sings. Her voice, coarse, like her face, coarse though not old, brushing against the walls of the home to return to her son’s ears, smooth, as he stares into her with emotion, drowsy and confused.
A door-long boy in small khakis, small... like him, for his age. Built of a villager, tanned face dripping with oil his mother has just put on his forehead, which she does thrice a day and chants along. He is shining, but remains quiet.
She is patting his face with pressure to make him sleep. While he looks at her through the gaps between her fingers, fiddling with her naval and spitting each time she pats. To show that he is awake! Mischievous he has always been.
After some time, the fiddling stops and spit remains.
Hariya waits for him to fall into deep sleep; her eyes are shut too... when the vision comes back.
The black of that night, its sounds catapulting her back... his small face distorted, yet vivid in its expression. Like he knew why he was being bathed in milk.
The devil must be drowned. The clattering of the steel tub against its lid, of milk being poured into it; Hariya’s hysteria, the thud of her feet against the wooden staircase when she had to be dragged up, while the men headed for the sacrifice, of chants and prayers, of screams of the pundit, Hariya’s escaping fall through the window, the crushing of the winter leaves underneath her feet as she limps to the river, of cold, of fire logs carried by men, of fire, of that piece of burning log she put upon the pundit, her rescuing Hari, the chase, the British officer who protected her and let them stay with her for the next few months leaving them at this small hut outside the village after he had satisfied all his motives, ensuring protecting though... All this against the noise of the boy of two who just looked on!
Who is looking at her now... she couldn’t let him see. Has he?
She snaps back, to find Hari sleeping. The vision has left her tired, and she is sweating profusely.
She comes out of the hut, to find other women who work with her already far ahead. She must hurry as she has to walk the distance unlike them. Quickly she puts a roti in her steel tiffin and sets out.
Hari gets up the moment she leaves. However, it is not the playful getting up of a child after his mother goes away; his expression is rather grave, as he looks out of the hole adjacent to the chaarpayi.
The sight of his mother. Walking unsteadily with her steel tiffin. Flickering in the loo. Around her, more women with more steel tiffins, but they aren’t walking. They are being ridden on bicycles by door-long shadows, like his.
A twitch runs his body. He frowns to distract himself. Then takes out a slate and chalk from underneath the chaarpayi and starts to draw.
Two little kids (About eight years old or so... his only friends from the nearby hut) hiss from the door, “Ber todhne aa riya hai??” They did this every day once their mother left for work.
“Na. Hat”, but he shoos them away.
And continues to draw. Cracked ground. Above it a bicycle. Huge sun. He colours it yellow.
Hari made a new drawing every day while Hariya was at work and he made sure he completed it by the time she came back. Then they would talk about why he drew what he did because usually Hariya couldn’t understand what Hari made. It was Hari’s favourite most part of the day.
He looks at what he has just made. Then looks outside. It’s not the excellence in his drawing but something else about the picture that is pulling him. He holds it next to the hole and is now staring at the view and his imitation of it.
Drawing comparisons. Comparing intentions...
He must true to his drawing. He must pursue it. After all, he too is door long like the other boys.
Quietly so, he gets up and goes to the back yard of the hut, where he keeps his secret friend. Itthu. Itthu is a matka on which he has painted a face and made holes according to his eyes. Summons him. They talk via heat waves. Itthu looks on as Hari explains to him his desires. Both have their eyes peering into each other, their hearts upfront, as judging and contemplation takes place. Some more speculation and a deal is struck!
So Hari puts him on and sets out.
Towards the village. Where he and his mother are unwelcome, but what does he know... little devil!
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The village is still, stirred only by sounds of the Radio from selective few houses, along with the continuous din of the loo.
Itthu and Hari walk slowly marvelling at the built of the houses, majestic and calling.
Outside one such house, parked is a bicycle like the one he drew! It stands consciously like it is being judged. It is!
By a brown matka, heavy on a slender body, with long legs covered in small khaki. And a 20 year old boy underneath. Their eyes maliciously set on the bicycle. The bicycle maliciously set on their eyes.
Two smiles and two nods!
And the cycle follows them outside the verandah. Gleaming like a gladiator. Dust rising over their trail, in rebellion, in tribute. As they march through the village road, ignoring the developing protests of the path and the mighty houses that stand on its side.
As they go further the noises begin to grow heavier. It is making Hari uneasy but he keeps his mind on the reward and keeps striding forward. Itthu is also shaken by them. Both trying very hard to endure.
They are voices and they seem to be prompting something which Hari can’t figure out... some sort of a discovery... some sort of a connection... that is making him feel very familiar and unknown at the same time.
Steps begin to pace.
He is near the end of the village, a few more houses and he will be through.
‘I can. I can. I can. I can. I can... Itthus we can’
They have approached the very last lane of houses when Hari just stops.
In front is this house with enormous red gates, a verandah with blue walls around to fence. There is no one outside the house but he can see that the main door is ajar. What has struck Hari most is a sealed window directly above the main door. Hari seems to remember the window somehow... maybe from his dreams but he can’t place it anywhere.
He looks back to the cycle. Itthu also seems to have withdrawn. Ditcher!
And he looks back at the house to find... it has turned into night.
He is inside the house. Being bathed in milk!
The devil must be drowned. The clattering of the steel tub against its lid, of milk being poured into it; His mothers cry, the thud of her feet against the wooden staircase as she is being dragged upstairs... Locked in the room directly above the main door. It has a window, while the men are headed for the sacrifice along with him, sounds of chants, and prayers, of screams of the pundit, Her mother shouting and finally jumping out of the window...
He wants to run and hold her but he can’t.
‘Maa...... Maa..... ‘ Hari is now shouting trying to get himself to run to her and save her. Hariya falls.
‘Maa..... ’ He is shouting mad in the want to run to her but he can’t.
‘No... No... No...’ He is crying and shaking his head vigorously.
It is in this movement that Itthu looses balance and falls off Hari’s head, falling off and breaking into pieces, dying instantly. It’s this noise of the shattering that breaks Hari’s experience.
And he finds himself back... in the daytime, in front of the same house.
Only this time, when he turns back... he is not alone. But surrounded by his murderers.
His yells cautioned them and they came outside.
To complete what they couldn’t eighteen years back. He just smiles at them... looks on!
She watches him, the cycle, as Hari is assaulted by his captors. They are blaming him for their misfortunes as they beat the life out of him. Why... he still can’t understand...
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One only feels pain when one knows the reason behind it. So Hari never felt anything when he was being thrashed.
Nonetheless he knows what is to come. After all, he had always had the shine!
He can smell that he is in his house... yes it is his home. Its dark and he can see his mothers’ silhouette near the chulha... Hariya, His mother. He calls out to her.
At once she is beside him, caressing his wound with a hot rag.
He looks at her tenderly and she kisses him back. Hariya was a strong woman.
‘I know why Maa... ‘
And she bursts out putting her head on his chest.
‘Your oil finally worked...’ he says almost laughing. It brings a smile to Hariya’s face.
‘Why did you go there... why?’ she can’t resist asking. Hari looks on.
He put his hand under the chaarpayi and takes out his slate.
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Not until what seems hours does Hariya even move from beside him. She just lays there her head on his chest. Eyes shut, for from today no visions will ever haunt her. Then slowly she picks up the slate and brings it near the stove.
Light falls on it making it glow. It is Hari’s last drawing.
Flat ground. Above it a bicycle. Huge sun. All yellow.
And a lady with a steel tiffin box behind. Being ridden.
By a door-long Khaki wearing fellow.
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Hari’s last desire.
And she falls on to her knees and cries out...
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The red gate house in Jayadol stands forsaken. All the family members succumbed to the plague that hit the village just two years after Hari’s death...
Some people claim to have heard Hariya from within her cot yelling a curse to the family and the village.
If it’s the truth, only she knows!
As for Hari... he is too busy riding to give a shit about anything. Occasionally, one also finds exquisite drawings on random walls in the village... people just leave them alone. The little devil that he is :-)
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