There's a voice inside my head, whose silence is as unperturbed, as the name of a recently deceased in their lover's breathe yet, as chaotic as the breathe of a sailor trapped in an uncalled storm.
There's a voice inside my head, that reminds me of something my mother used to say; of how patience helps a thread into a needle, and the first step to being patient is being still, patience as still as a leaf before a tornado, without no wind.
Of how still the voice inside is, yet so impatient. Of how mother was wrong: there's stillness in this world, that mixes with it's surroundings, and you'll never know it at all.
There's a voice inside my head, whose name I see scribbled in your poems, and sometimes in the space between your actions; of how your eyes try to look beyond a person, yet you get stuck with your gaze on the ground.
There's an unrequited voice, seeking both of our soul.
Memories stay behind like the hole that a nail makes. You put up a picture, sometimes filled with hope and sometimes despair, hence connecting every hole with a story, occasionally full of glory, and other times of gory.
The first memory I have of riding in swings,was at the age of four, in the park opposite to the theatre, four blocks away from our house.
/'Higher Baba', I exclaimed. 'How much higher, Najima jo You would touch the sky, if I pushed you harder." "Maybe that is where I belong", I reply with utmost cheer/
We got cotton candy after, one for me and one for Baba, one for Nana back home. We sat on the grass and he told me stories, of how empty the fields used to be in the village where he had come from, although I started recalling them, only when he told the same stories four years after.
The sun sank in the city, Baba said was always full, yet now the city feels too empty without him.
/'Five more minutes Baba', I begged. The corners of his eyes wrinkled as he smiled and replied, 'Only because you say so.'/
He always looked at peace in the park, as if he enjoyed the sunset in the city, and when Baba used to sing for me the cities fell, people disappeared, the only ones left were Baba and I.
/Our own city; of laughter and smiles and of bright suns/
/'Do you like your name?', he asked, in between a song. 'Of course I do', I replied, eyeing the cotton candy for Nana. 'Good. You know why I named you Najima?" I shook my head. "Najima means stars, the ones that remain untouched by the dark, even though, it often accompanies it."/
/"Why don't we come out at night, we could look at the night sky together?", I ask, wishing we could actually do it. 'I like where your head is at, Najima jo, but cities do not have nights, they only have darkness arrive at their doorstep."/
Now when the laughter of Baba reverberates in my ears, and the image of him trying to replicate the poster of the actor that was playing in the theatre every weekend, forms in my mind, I break into a laugh, and imagine our own city; one with laughter and smiles,and a blissful night in the soil Baba used to call home.
/We headed back home few minutes later, with a cotton candy for Nana, weed on our pants and Baba's urge to sleep in a bed in his village at night/
A city at night, especially snowy nights like this, often seems too deserted and dark. The few souls that roam on the streets, make their way through the snow to their cosy homes.
The darker it gets, the more vacant it becomes, and at eleven, the city sleeps. At every intersection, every foothpath, and every shop established, the wait of a warm sun to shine, awaits.
The eye of a protagonist would usually catch the traffic light that keeps changing colours in vain, or maybe the hustle-bustle of the wee hours would still be reverberating in their ear, but had the protagonist known the city while it was alive?
A grave yard spreads across an acre of land, and in the heart of a city for breathing human beings, an acre stands just for the departed souls. All of a sudden time stands still, and as the clock strikes twelve, all the dead in the city doesn't live in graves anymore. Some lived in the grave yard itself, easily blending in the surroundings.
The dead, in her own peculiarity wore lilac coloured dress, and sat down on the ground unbothered of mud stains. Counting the graves present, she gave up when it exceeded the number of fingers on her hand. A routine she repeated every night, counting the number of graves before she would be drawn to the great sleep too.
The protagonist would still be overcome with the deads beauty. So much so they will sit right beside her, and ask her if she needed anyone besides the moon, to keep her company. Maybe she will nod, but most probably a silence will prevail, and the protagonist will anyway stay.
Some questions will linger in the protagonists mind, but the hesitation would make them stiffen, and nothing near the sound of twenty six alphabets would come out of their mouth. She will speak, enthralling the one hearing, and maybe if she asked, 'How many times would you ride into hell?' The protagonist would reply, 'As many times hell would let me in.'
Maybe that is what drew in city victim number 36, and made them give up their life. A city that slept by eleven, had been deaths least favourite city to lure human beings to her. This city that slept by eleven, had too many people already kissed by ice, and nights that were too tame for them. Death hated putting people too much like her, to the great sleep.
When protagonists leave, or rather she makes them, she looks at the six feet dug graves, each engraved with her name, hidden from the human sight, yet the only thing that catches her eye. A city that sleeps by eleven, gets lonely by one, yet too busy when the clock strikes five in the morning.
I heard footsteps in the front yard, and some rustling of leaves.The front yard is full of dried leaves, but the gulmohar stands in the middle; majestic, yet barren. When I was a child, I used to call it the 'flame tree', and that's what my father used to call me, 'Flame'.
The footsteps are getting more evident, and in all honesty, it sounds like my father's. The footsteps falter in between, like he stopped to pick a dorsoventrally flattened leaf. The footsteps are taken cautiously, and it reminds me of when I was younger, and my father would sneak in from behind and surprise me with a Cordate leaf, and I would run to my room to keep it in the box where I collected them.
I put on my rumbled antique maroon sweater, and it reminds me of my mother. It was her favourite sweater, gifted by my father. Everytime she wore it she looked like an angel, hence father calling her angel in his songs was always justified to me.The dining table near me, reminds me when I was fourteen, and asked for to borrow the sweater. My mother handed it over to me happily saying, 'My little girl has grown up.'
The doorbell rings, and I run to open the door. Just like I did when I was younger, to open the door before Drish. And this time I win, since she is not here.
I pull the mauve handle of the door, and it groans, father never got to replace the door. It is nostalgia, he is dressed in a flannel shirt jacket, just like Drish would.
'But we had our last seesion just last week. You know you are visiting me the second time in a month, right?', I ask with a grin.
'Of course I know that. But you are visiting your childhood house. It is my job to visit you here', he says, while walking inside the house.
'This is the last time I will ever be able to visit it, before I go abroad', I say, still stuttering in the middle, conscious of how foreign the words sound.
Nostalgia doesn't reply, he nods his head. I collect my wooden box full of dried and dead leaves. Everytime I hold it, it reminds me of the first time my father gave it to me. It had been so heavy to carry, and now, I can carry it with just one hand. Mother's sweater is already wrapped around me. As for Drish, I will always have her in my heart, and Nostalgia, he won't ever let me forget her too.
I walk to the three burial cross in the backyard, and place the two lilies, on the first two gravestone, and as for the third, I place a Cordate leaf. Forgive me father, your flame hadn't wished to kill you all. It had been a mistake. A mistake she regrets. Forgive me mother, but your little girl has finally grown up.
Forgive me father, but your flame stands; majestic yet barren.
I am swallowing down tears, one after another in the hope that it will taste sweet after plethora of bitterness they wrapped around my brown, sugary scars. Scars and sins, are all I am left to once you left me bleak over the edge. And they drag me along holding the same braids you once laced with the gypsies in between. They take me to the backyard, along the fence which still holds the fresh rotten scent of the dead pigeon trying to pass through it the other day. Will you forgive me if I say I saw it struggling, stiffed gasping for air? I saw it slowly losing its senses, breathing at a pace likely to break down any moment, striving for rescue with the broken voice gone mute. Will you ask me why I didn't hold the bird in my hands, why I stared it all along its moribund?
The stars of my delusions collided against the door you closed and choked me with the key then. Once again, I am choked of your absence, engulfing me throughout my existence; until I was reminded me the reason I bide amongst the demons of my words. "The pigeon under the fence, kissed death while watching the mid day sky. And I had been embracing the idea of being dead since that day. My skin doesn't need to puke out blood anymore, the ink unbinding the misery is enough. Grasping the knives, carved with ugly souvenirs of my nineteenth grave, I ripped the wings off its body. I kept on sniffing the murky wings exhaling fresh breaths of pain, as the slits of my body dried up long back."
I don't remember how it feels to be wrapped in the Softest cloth my parents could wrapped me in and my body is embraced, swinging in their arms, their faces are smiling at me and even if I didn't spoke back they knew what I needed, because all their questions to me would be the answers. But somehow I can think of it when I see a mother playing with her child, and children would play forever with strangers but in the end they ask for their mother's face,I don't think it's very different now too. Perhaps, someday I'll look into this deeper, when I'll be trying to fit in the picture of a perfect mother.
The kitchen is silent, and the constant chatter of an unorganized play of kids can be heard. The sky never makes them sad until it rains, and today the sky's trying to match my sweater. A heart is good and all have heart but some go heartless with all the reasons that made it so, but isn't it in our control with our heart, and make it win?
I go heartless many a times, and it hurts badly, I wish I didn't fought back, I didn't say things I shouldn't, and I remembered the right things in the right time or my mother could decipher the gaps between my words that were truer than the words I put in front. I wish I was a kid and this phase that says "for a mother her child will always remain a child" was more true.
You have mistaken me lily, it's not that my mother and I have come short of love. Today I am talking more of my heart, that fails me to think good of people, to forgive, to not give up. The heart is the hardest thing to keep among all the things which is mine. I don't want to be heartless. A child is never heartless. I want to be a child again. I'm sorry you have to keep my words that you may have not understand probably , but I promise to tell you about winter sun, next time.
Yours Lovingly Joe .
Ps: sorry for all shorts of roller coaster that didn't end to it's stop.
It has been quite long since I wrote you that last letter. To be exact, 2 summers, 3 achievements, and 4 breakdowns. A lot seems to have transpired in between. I've had ample moments of bliss, euphoria as well as gloom and defeat. There have been situations of personal failure and emotional incompetence. But, today, I'll not write about them because words will not be able to carry the burden of my scars. I tried umpteen number of times, but the ink simply flowed away, carrying away with it multiple pieces of my broken soul. So, I'll make this letter completely about you. About your grief and aplomb. About your loneliness and hallucinations. About the heavy weight you carry on your shoulders of high expectations and great responsibilities. I know that however much I try, I won't ever be able to measure the gravity of your problems. But, still I will try like every other time to find a small gap to enter your well hidden world of tragedies and mysteries. Because you've always been there for me and now it's my turn. I still remember that smile on your face upon my first small achievement. I can very well recall all those moments when despite my silly mistakes, you stood against all odds and reposed faith in me. The time when I fell down while playing and started crying then you told me that falling down and getting up is the best way to progress in life. How I can forget that day when you cooked food at 2 in the middle of the night, just because I was feeling hungry. I can never forget all those cheerful days when you danced with me celebrating my small achievements and those starry nights, when you sat and cried with me on my worst failures. Be it my peculiar problems or my never ending demands, you always solved them so easily, so smoothly, as if it was just a piece of cake for you. I know that you've got far more number of scars than I will ever have in my life. But, I still wonder at your magical ability to hide all those beneath your shining eyes and smiling face. Your grey hairs and wrinkled palms are in themselves a great reminder of endless pain and numbness you've been through. You still keep locked your aspirations inside that small black iron box of yours. Till date I haven't been able to find it's key. I know that I trouble you a lot. At times, we also have petty conflicts and childish arguments. But, these all add more flavour to the bond we share. At last I want you to know that, no matter what, I'll always be there for you.