The Spider’s Web

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The alarm goes off, piercing through the cold December morning. It is still dark – all the stars seem to have died. A tangible darkness, like a shroud. Like my shroud. I’d felt at peace while asleep; the alarm changed that, allowing the darkness to sit on my chest like an incubus paralyzing me.

It sings a pleasant tune – more a lullaby than an alarm. In its pleasantness, I sense an evil. A smile that holds knives at the ready. A smile that will slit your throat even as you smile back. Yet it won’t stop ringing.

I grope at the darkness and find a drawer whose steel handle is like ice. I’m about to shove the alarm in, when I find the things I’d lost. Things I thought I’d lost. A long time ago. And among them, a mirror with a golden frame shimmers through the darkness, inviting me to look.

I do and I see again the ugliness I’d forgotten, a resignation, a despair, all woven in. I throw the mirror in after the alarm, and a brief flash shows it to me – shows me the spider’s web in the corner.

I collect my resignation, I collect my despair, and I walk towards the web. I bite my thumb to draw blood. I spit out chunks of skin, erasing off the prints of my fingers. My swollen eyelids burst in pain. And I get the spider’s attention.

My knees tremble for I know it’s the end. Yet I keep walking, one foot after another, on a single silken thread. I see it rise from slumber, its drool spilling, my ugliness mirrored in its ugly eyes. It smiles and reminds me of my alarm clock, the clock that started this mess. I feel no desire to turn back. I walk, I surrender, I’m consumed whole. Then there is nothing but darkness. All the stars seem to have died.


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New Day | #AtoZChallenge

Engulfed. That’s how I felt during those first few days. By the toxic fumes of what was left of us.

I’d go to sleep with my breath and unshed tears getting caught in my chest like a tumor.
I’d wake up and you’d be my first thought even before my eyes opened to face the dawn, and the pain would press down on me like I was drowning.

I couldn’t throw my thoughts into a suitcase and throw them away like I did with so many of my things when I couldn’t bear to see them.

The ticket stubsA receipt from that one time we got matching toothbrushes. The sunglasses I bought because you recommended them.

Sunshine. How do you escape sunshine?
Do you know it falls differently during different times of the day? It’s golden yellow around 2 PM, bends around buildings, and alters your shadow. After what happened, the 2 PM sun turned into an enemy I couldn’t bear to look at, one that reminded me of all the times we met at that time, one that made me angry, one that made me scream.

Everything made me scream.

There were days I wished I could scream with more than just my throat and lungs. I wished I could scream with my hands and the tips of my toes. I wished my skin could scream and shed and erase every last trace of you. I wished I could stop wanting to see you at every corner I turned in the street. I wished I didn’t break down in to tears all the time when I thought of you. I wished the day turned to night at 2 PM and I didn’t have to face that shade of gold that carried your name. I wished my heart would just explode and kill me, instead of letting me carry on and suffer.

I wished I wished I wished.

Then one day you weren’t my last thought before falling asleep. Another day, you weren’t the first when I woke up. The sun was still my enemy, the tears still came uninvited. And yet, with each new day, it hurt a little less and a little less.

I was guilty that I didn’t think of you that often.
I was relieved that I didn’t think of you that often.

It hasn’t stopped hurting. It may never stop hurting, and on days like this when I write about it, it returns like that first day.

But time goes on, and blood eventually stops burning.


Hi everyone! I’m working on a minimalist fiction project for this year’s #AtoZChallenge. The story will be shared in snippets, and the events occur non-sequentially. It is for the reader to interpret and form the “whole”. You can read all the posts here. Join me, and do share links to your AtoZ posts as well!

N

Waking Up To Brown

“What is the one color you would never use to paint your room?” he asked.

“Brown,” I said without missing a beat.

“Why?”

“It’s so dull and depressing. Waking up to that every morning is not something I imagine is a pleasant experience.”

My answer niggled at my mind for the rest of the day. As if I had lied. I had given that answer without so much as a thought; aren’t answers you give without thinking often the truth? Why then did that answer feel like a blunder? After all, there were actual blunders I could waste time pondering over and feeling foolish.

I reached home, exhausted after a long walk, and plopped into bed. It was then that I noticed the walls.

Why had this never registered before?

The Heavier Expectations

A few weeks ago, I was discussing Past life regression with an acquaintance. While I was always interested in the study of the mind, and the subconscious, and Freud’s theories, past life regression is a wholly new area for me. I had, of course, heard of it, but it was not something I gave much thought to. To me, until then, reincarnation, or past life, or the manifestations of accumulated karma were a largely religious concept, and therefore something to be dismissed as hokum. They were also, to some extent, a Bollywoodesque idea, that had run its course somewhere in the 90s.

No matter, because the idea was still intriguing, and I have to say, all of a sudden, I wanted to know if I had lived lives before. Wait. I’d be lying if I said the idea took root when the discussion happened. The fact is, I had been curious about past lives ever since I read Ashwin Sanghi’s The Rozabal Line, back in 2009. It has come and gone like a whiff every now and then since then. If such a thing exists, then I’d like to know something about it. Anything. It is difficult not to romanticize about it once the idea has planted itself.

But this particular discussion dug its toes deeper into my head. Suddenly, I was googling past life regression in the middle of the night, in the midst of a splitting headache, and reading all I could find on the subject. I dreamed up all kinds of scenarios, where I sat with a practitioner and discovered who I was, and dramatically discovered my relationships with those who are in my present life. Most prominently though, I secretly harbored this fantasy that I would discover I was Sylvia Plath or Anais Nin in a past life. A girl can dream, eh?

One of the articles I read said that the only people who are advised to perform past life regression are those who feel there is something lacking in their present life, or those who are trying to find the root cause of a problem or emotion. I have always felt this strange sense of “not belonging”. Not to this world, not to this period in time. Always a little lost, always searching for “home.” Always trying to figure something out. I have written several posts about this as well. This explains the Sylvia Plath fantasy!

The reason why I am a writer today is partly because I have been trying to explore these questions. On the other hand, I believe writers must keep an open mind – to all hypotheses, to all ideas, to all experiences. I also believe writers must give in to instincts and emotions. Writers grow through excesses. The excesses they fit into their short attention spans. The whys. The hows. The alrights. The welcomes. The loves. The lusts. The harmonys. The cordialitys. The honestys. The opennesses. The acceptances. The understandings.

The being.

My error was, however, I bracketed all writers into these open-minded souls. I forgot, at the end of the day, we are humans. Humans with our pettiness and our general smallness of mind. I went out into the world expecting the same openness from everyone around me, placing the burden of my heavy expectations on their broad but weak shoulders.

Where I went looking for open-mindedness, I found the same kind of world I sought to abandon – closed, small souls, calling themselves creators but being nothing more than lice trying to trample each other on one head of hair. Angry souls. Dishonest souls. Backstabbing souls. Lonely and afraid souls. Friendless souls. Judgmental souls. Mocking souls.

Not souls. They were mere humans.

I went looking for people, who, perhaps felt as lost as I. I believed I would find the honesty and humility I was looking for in a crooked world. That maybe, in being among my own kind, or who I thought were my own kind, I would find myself. That together, we would better ourselves. Instead, all I found was a subset of the same people who already thought they were higher than the rest simply because they could string sentences one after the other. Who I found were those looking for instant fame. Writers on the outside, nosey, obnoxious neighbours on the inside.

Not writers. They were mere marketers.

Often, even in friendships, my expectations of others have been too great a weight for them to bear. Perhaps, this is an extension of it, and perhaps, this feeds my somewhat dormant misanthropy. It cushions the disappointments that come my way.

I wonder if I were to actually do the regression (since that is, after all, what we were discussing), what would I find about myself that would explain my boredom? What would I find that would stop me from placing so many expectations on simple-minded folk who do not deserve it.

 

Dear Heart, Why Did You?

 

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Dear Heart, why did you love him?

Because all you said is,

Look at me,

And he replied with a kiss on your lips.

Dear Heart, why did that shake you?

But my dear, it did not,

Nor did I skip a beat;

What it did was make the universe crack and stop.

Dear Heart, tell me more, remind me again,

Why, my dear, how could I,

Love like that doesn’t happen twice,

All I have are his eyes and a collection of your smiles

Dear Heart, why do you hurt me so?

My dear, in desperation, I found nothing but to leave,

For you, I will preserve,

Clasped hands in a car and an apology.

And dear heart, why did you tell me to let go?

That, my dear, is what I never learned.

 

Of Regrets In Love

You remember being young and reckless, never hurt, never believing you ever would be. You remember shouting out to summer winds and winter blizzards about having lived a life with no regrets. You know now that you were wrong. That you are only now learning what regrets truly are. And you’re learning what regrets are not.

You learn regret isn’t that pang caused by unannounced flashbacks to those one night stands that drenched you fibre by fibre in shame and guilt. They peel off.

Regret isn’t that one-sided love affair you, when you built a sculpture of someone who did not exist, except in your imagination. You put the sculpture on a pedestal so high that the sun hurt your eyes when you looked at it. Regret isn’t loving that someone. It isn’t not telling them how you feel. It isn’t telling them either.

Regret isn’t a missed chance – two people in love with each other on either ends of a timeline.

Regret isn’t being with the wrong person. There are no regrets in lessons you learn, no matter how long it took.

Regret isn’t even sleeping next to the one person in this world who makes you feel the loneliest every single night, even when their breathing patterns are as familiar to you as your own…

Regret is having to make yourself forget the world exists, day by day, second by grating second.

Regret is having to listen to the loudest music, so you can’t hear the pain of your bleeding heart.

Regret is getting a whiff of a familiar fragrance, and having to shut your eyes against the tears that threaten to spill.

Regret is burying yourself in a pile of books, just so you could shut reality out, live in a warm world of fantasy, where the dragons are real within the pages, and outside is something that momentarily stops being.

Regret is forcing yourself to think of the worst memories you had with that one person you miss every day, because sometimes happier memories threaten to appear like shooting stars across your dark thoughtscape. You cannot let that happen. You think. All the time. Even when you’re talking to people, you’re immersed. Elsewhere. Constantly thinking. You lose yourself in your own thoughts, because the din of the real world keeps rising like a tide, and you would do everything in your power to keep it down. You think, so that you don’t have to think.

Regret is wearing the truth like skin, that you had everything you wanted, but you chose to be a coward. That’s the skin does not shed. Like the cells that never regenerate. Truth, stuck to you like a migraine-causing odour.

Regret is knowing that happiness comes in small black boxes, like surprises that you least expect. And once you foolishly let go, it’s gone.

The Train To Nowhere

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Rumbling loud, those wheels on steel;

Hurtling down, like the sun on me

Burns, sears into the tissues

Hidden; it vibrates within my shoes.

 

Save me, hurtling train, take me home.

The train to nowhere, open your doors.

Let’s seek faraway lands together,

Take me away, away, farther and farther.

 

Grows the sun’s noise in my head

Oh, take this off, this strait jacket

I am not mad; why don’t you hear me scream?

Have you all been deafened by the sun’s heat?

 

The rumble comes closer, oh, so near,

Give me a place for my head, you hear?

The wheels are rolling, the sun beats down,

No matter. The steel is cool; I’m home now.