The Spider’s Web


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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The Tribute


There are places you do not belong to. Places that are physical. Places that are moments in time. Yet you find yourself in them, wondering what your purpose is, and where you’d find this purpose.

I feel like that right now, that I do not belong here, but I must not turn around. There are throngs of people around me, each in black, carrying flowers, weeping. Some sing tributes. I know the lyrics as well as any of them, but I do not join in. I hear ocean waves crashing on boulders in my ears – which is strange as we are far away from the ocean. The headstone lies right in front of me and I read each letter, left to right, observing the font, the color, the texture, each curve of each C, each line that makes the I and the Ls. But I refuse to believe it – this is someone else, a namesake, a doppelganger, an impostor.

Just last month, I’d sung one of his songs to entertain my friends; at the time I did not know that today it would turn into a song of mourning.

There’s a tap on my right shoulder. I turn around to see a man, dry-eyed like me, my dazed expression mirrored on his face. He says nothing, but I nod, and let him stand by my side, and we both turn to look at the headstone. I trace the letters with my eyes again.

“Isn’t it strange,” the man says, “when they say ‘loved one’ they only mean family or friends? Sometimes, strangers are loved ones too.”

“Except he wasn’t a stranger, was he? I know what you mean though. We all lost a loved one.”

“His wife and children…” he began, but trailed off.

“I caught a glimpse of them before they opened the service to the public. The wife refuses to believe it was a suicide, I hear.”

“He seemed so happy…”

Yes. Yes, he did. Maybe he felt like he was in one of those places – a gap in space and time where he felt he didn’t belong. When you’re going through the worst, you decide to put up the most cheerful front.

“The last song he sang the night it happened was a song about death,” I said to the man. He nodded, pursing his lips, a vein twitching in his neck, as though he too was on the verge of breaking down, like the rest of the crowd.

A long time ago, I had attended one of his concerts with a friend. I wanted to tell that friend how much those songs meant to me. But he had stopped me, saying he couldn’t hear me above the music. The subject was left for another day, a day that never came around, and I never got to gather my answer.

“You know what I hate about this?” the man said,”They’re going to romanticize this. Romanticize his death.”

He’s right. The press and the public love a tortured rockstar. It’s one of those tropes, sadly.

“It isn’t fair. Not to him, not to his memory. Not to people who admire him,” I said in response.

I think again about the song I’d sang last month, a song I’d spent a lot of my younger days singing. That too is a song about death. There is undercurrent of death in all his songs. Was it in front of us all along? Could someone have helped? Was the warmth, the friendliness, all a facade and nothing more?

The hours pass by, and soon, just a handful of people, the man who’d been talking to me, and I stay back. I’m still trying to collect my thoughts, collect all the ways in which his songs affected me, affected my life. It’s haunting, how certain things permeate our being, how the sudden departure of those we did not really know drains us so emotionally. But in the end, my reasons can be summed up in one line.

I take out an old notebook from my coat pocket. I’d written the lyrics of one of his songs in it over a decade ago, and pressed a wildflower between those pages. I take the now-withered flower and place it near the headstone, a lonely ghost of a flower among all the other bright ones.

“Thank you for showing me how to live. And goodbye.” I cannot bring myself to say his name, but no tears of mine wet the headstone.

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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.



The Hands Of Fate

Alvira sat for a long time on the park bench, looking at the families enjoying themselves on Saturday afternoon. There were picnic baskets on spread out mats, colorful balls and Frisbees, children laughing, little baby girls in cute puffy frocks, concerned mothers calling out to children to stay safe. She smiled at the happy chaos. She smiled at the dogs fetching balls and at the babies crawling around in their diapers and hair bows.
When the first family that packed up and left glanced at her, she smiled a goodbye. Soon all the families left and the bright yellow afternoon turned into a golden orange evening. The evening air felt fresh, cool and crisp with the hint of distant spices. It turned soon to a reddish dusk, and then to a purplish night, turned greyish blue by the street lamps, around which insects with transparent wings had begun fluttering. Alvira got up and buried her hands into the pockets of her trench coat. She attracted no attention, a solitary figure, trying to take up as little space in the world as possible by hunching her shoulders, and bowing her head as she walked.
She stood on the pavement, waiting for the light to change to cross the street. Suddenly, her mind was assaulted by that image again – Navneet, briefly turning around to wave to her, when a drunk driver rushed in from the wrong side and hit him. The car had sped off without stopping. He had been caught, but Navneet – Navneet did not survive.
Alvira was twenty three and a widow. No matter how much she tried, she couldn’t get that image out of her mind. Every time she slept, she saw the car hitting him. Loneliness and grief drilled into her very last cell. She found no distractions she could immerse herself into.
Then finally, one Saturday, she went to the park – to look at the happiness around her, to look at happy families, at children, and picnic lunches. She walked back, crossed the road when the light turned, despite remembering Navneet again – had she ever really forgotten him, even for an instant?
She reached home and carefully locked and bolted every window and every door. She wiped the bit of dust that had collected on the kitchen platform, and threw out the milk that had been lying in the fridge. Then she went to the bedroom, and slowly withdrew from her trench coat pocket, a bottle she had clutched as she walked back home. A bottle of strong sleeping pills. She gulped them all down with water.
She never woke up.
This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.


Micro-fiction – 2


He often wondered what caused the pain in his right shoulder. 

Because he couldn’t see his late grandfather still leaning on it for support.


“Tell me about the most terrible, creepiest, most horrid thing that ever happened to you.” 
“Well, this one time I fell in love…” 

Flesh At Her Heels

She waved goodbye and turned around. She heard a loud crash.
A piece of blood-covered flesh came flying at her. 
His flesh. 
Against a bus.


He became a recluse. He never saw the sunshine, and hardly ate. 
They remembered him years later. The pale skin was peeling off his bones.


He was always working. He could be found tapping the keys of his laptop at all hours. 

He forgot he had died the day he had been fired.

The Tree

It was a strange tree 
But a most delicious fruit 
Everyone was too enticed by the taste 
To notice the blood gushing out of their stomachs.

Spiders Frozen In Snow

She saw all the spiders were frozen. She cast a spell to bring them back to life. 
They devoured her. 
The venom in her blood killed them.


He was tired of failing repeatedly at every task he tried. 
He had given up. 
He attempted suicide. 
He failed.


Red-orange skies. 
Smoke everywhere. 
Corpses burst and bleeding like sick balloons. 

But the cockroaches survived.


The old man refused to drink the wine. He was convinced it was blood. The others called him senile. 

Only one of them knew he was right.


He swept her off her feet. 
She lost her footing. Her skull cracked against the concrete.

What Goes Around, Comes Around

“Do you drive?” he asked, throwing a brief glance at her. It was night, they were driving on a winding mountain road and he did not want to be too distracted by the beautiful woman in the passenger seat.
“No,” she responded. She was nervous and her throat felt a little parched. But one look at the man beside her filled her with loathing again. She was overcome with a fury greater than any amount of nervousness.
“A woman in your profession must learn,” he said, a lascivious grin painting his bearded face. “What if a patron is unable to drive? Wouldn’t you miss – how shall I put it – a day’s wages in such situations? Or, should I say, a night’s wages?” His grin widened, so did her desire to slap him hard across his smug face.
“Well, sobriety is a must for a prospective patron,” she responded, keeping the quiver and the anger out of her voice. “If he is sober when he is with me, he will ask for me again, another night, another series of nights. How is that a loss?” she raised a perfectly arched eyebrow at him.
“Haha! Awesome!” his laugh was like a bark. “I like you. You’re funny, you’re well-groomed, you smell nice. I don’t usually notice such things, but that black nail polish goes so perfectly with that red dress of yours. And I must say, that dress – !” he placed his left palm on her thigh.
She could no longer contain her fury. She glanced at the rear view mirror. She saw the car was not too far behind them. “Is that what you liked about my sister too?”
Her question caught him off guard. He moved his hand like he had been singed unexpectedly. “Wh – what?” he stammered.
“I am Neha’s sister. Remember her?” she sneered at him.
His thoughts went back to Neha, his old mistress. The twenty-three year old girl who had foolishly fallen in love with him. She had gotten pregnant with his child. He had arranged for an abortion, but unfortunately, she had died due to a fault of the anesthesiologist. Because the anesthesiologist was a man with a price, and he had been bought.
And this beautiful woman was Neha’s sister.
The man felt the blood draining from his face. He had to think of something and quickly. But before he could arrange his thoughts, the woman next to him punched him as hard as she could.
“You lecherous bastard!” she screamed, and at the same time, he felt his car being rear-ended. The blow to his head and the sudden bump from behind had made him afraid. Suddenly, the car was rear-ended again.
“Listen,” he managed to blurt. “This is stupid. If the car pushes us off the highway, you die with me.”
She dug her nails deep into his throat, with all the strength she could muster, and said, “It doesn’t matter. If I die, I have nothing to lose. But if you die, your wife will know there was a woman in the car with you. She will know who you were before you died.”
The man lost sight of the road. He did not realize he was at the edge of a curve. With one final shove from the car behind, they were thrown into the deep valley below, to their deaths.
This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

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Just Another Holiday. I am Gonna Sleep.

December is a cruel month. It’s bloody cold, even in the south, though the rest of the country imagines the deserts of Africa when they hear “south”. But this is Bangalore we’re talking about. Bangalore is the poor and wannabe cousin of certain western cities where it’s snowing this time of the year, and out of wannabe-ness, Bangalore is trying really hard to be as cold as possible.
December reminds you yet again that Santa does not exist, that another year has been wasted, that you’re alive and you still don’t know why. This year, to add to the list of catastrophes, Uday Chopra graced (graced?) the silver screen again in a movie aptly titled Doom..err, Dhoom (please excuse the typos). Another reason why December is cruel is that everyone begins to ask you one terrible, unanswerable, I-am-contemplating-suicide-cos-I-don’t-want=another-person-asking-me-this question, “So… what’s your plan for New Year’s?”
To all those who keep asking this question, do you really think I am the type of person who goes partying, dancing wildly, getting wasted and not remembering any of that shit the next evening when I finally wake up from my hangover? Really? Aww, you think my life’s that awesome? *cries till eyes threaten to fall out of sockets*
Think of the million times you asked me every Friday, “What plans for weekend?” and every Monday, when I replied, “No, I just slept.” (And when I said “slept”, I meant literally slept and not anything that can have glorious interpretations.) New Year’s eve for me is exactly that, multiplied by the number of weekends in a year.
So, to the next person who’s gonna ask me “So… (undertones of *wink* *wink*) what’s your plan for New Year’s?” – I am gonna sleep. On a pillow that’s still stiff from the salt of my poor tears that fell earlier when you thought I actually had other plans, and I wished you were right!
Anyone not wildly partying, and taking the time to read this – what are your plans?