The Fence

I lounge on the bench in the park. The trees shelter me from the sun. A gentle breeze ruffles my hair. I breathe deep.

I sit on the couch. The sunlight streams in through the window. The walls close in on me. I clutch at the cold pearls around my neck. I yearn to see them scatter over the marbled floor. A yank is all it takes.

I gaze at the perfect little house beyond the fence. The SUV. Picture perfect. I wonder at their perfect home. Their perfect lives.

A bee buzzes at the window, flinging itself at the glass. I am a moth fluttering at blazing light, within reach. Futile movements.

What must it be like, to have it all? A home. A family. To belong.

How does it feel, to walk away? Open spaces. Freedom. To be yourself.

What a life! I shut my eyes and continue to dream.

What is this life? I open my eyes to my reality.

car

This evocative snapshot has been provided by Yinglan Z. Thank you, Yinglan!

Advertisements

Dat’s mah man!

man-and-dog

This week’s photo prompt is provided by Louise with The Storyteller’s Abode. Thank you Louise for providing this beautiful photograph!

Woof!

My name is Valentino. I am fabulous. And I know it. I got my shiz together.

Look at my gleaming silky coat. I’m top dawg, man. I believe in taking care of myself. All I need to be happy is good food. Throw in a bone or two, refill my bowl with clean water and I’m all set. Oh, plenty of exercise. I recommend you take your man for a walk too. I never let him miss his walk. When I see the signs, the bottle of beer, the newspaper, the flickering lights from this strange box and I know it’s time for my act.

A couple of whines and bounding onto his tummy with vigour usually does the trick. Sometimes he has this glazed look in his eyes and I know it calls for desperate measures. Fervent, nervous scratching at the door. Ha! Watch him go!

So here we are, my man and I. I need the leash to pull him along. Will someone tell him to dress smarter? He needs to keep up with my style.

Bow wow to you.

Mystic Mendicant

They say that of all charitable offerings you can think of, food is the most appropriate. Hunger is the only need that can be satisfied to the utmost.

For, if you want to satisfy a soul completely, all you need to do is feed it. Food is the only way a person momentarily feels full and cannot eat anymore. At the end of a sumptuous meal, enough really means enough. For that moment at least.

Now, we are all united by this hunger. We sit at the steps leading to the great temple, the ultimate destination one aspires for.

Throngs of pilgrims make their way up the steps. They pause, gasping for breath and they spot us. Sometimes they pretend not to. An outstretched arm, an open palm and they wince –the sight of abject penury clawing at their gut.

My neediness and yours. Not very different. We are hungry for the crumbs they throw at us. Crumbs they forget to pick up for themselves and sometimes under our wretched eye, they mindlessly swallow what you and I would consider a veritable feast.

A mendicant and a beggar. What’s the difference?

The mendicant is blind to the world.

He says- I see you for what you are and then I don’t. Not anymore. You see, I am tired of the world. Its webs. The conundrum of lies. The traps they lay. I have had enough. My begging bowl is empty now. When it is filled, I shall have my fill. I shall wait till then.

He says- Wait for people. They are blind too. Ironic that I wait for the blind to acknowledge my unseeing eyes. Well there is a difference, I choose to be blind and the world doesn’t know what to see anymore. A twist awaits everyone.

He continues to say-The begging bowl in my hands is the focus of hungry eyes. Always has been. The scraps that come my way are coveted.

I have given up on the world.

My beggary, my ruination, my impoverishment is physical.

I have been reduced to these circumstances by circumstance.

Therefore to exist I need their leftovers. To sustain myself.

They got to me first for I am at the base of the steps.

Always the lowest of the low.

The poorest of the poor.

From a vantage position, they eye my bowl and hanker after its contents.

Attracted by my distress a kind soul offers me a slice of his life and all attention is soon deflected.

Swooning. Bleeding sores. Pus laden wounds. Corpses of the young, demanding attention. Beggarly drama. The finest. The theatre of the macabre. Always such a crowd-puller.

He concludes- My bowl is soon forgotten.

Soon he sits to a side and watches it all unfold.

He watches and thinks-

The only beggar on the steps is the one that survives. The hungry look in the eyes. The craving. The deep rooted desire. If you can hold it all in your eyes and push through the milling crowd, elbowing away the destitute, tripping up the unfortunate and present yourself in the humblest, most ingratiating manner,you get your prize. The most chipped, dented and leaking bowl is yours.

And then, the world is all yours.

The crumbs descend on you. Luck rains on you. Look at your bowl please. You are proud in all the bravery of your tattered rags. Your scruffy appearance is the stuff great painters translate onto canvas that become masterpieces reminding the world the essence of success.

Beggary.  Misery becomes you. You are hungry. Your hunger grows. Soon the scraps aren’t enough anymore. The scraps begin to define you. You become the leftovers. You are what is left behind.

The Impoverishment of the spirit.

Destitute.

Indigent.

Nobody can then play it like you. You make people want to be better human beings. How do they get to feel that way? The way your face lights up on being appreciated. The gifts pour in to satiate the endless want reflected in your eyes. People want to fill that empty void in your eyes. Your naked hunger is too much for the world to bear. You are a success in our wretched world, your story out in the open for all the world to see. Very soon other aspirants in the game of beggary, in dire straits, will learn from you.

Scraps will stop being scraps and your bowl shall be filled lavishly. Just watch out for the next insignificant aspirant who comes by, a vision of needy degeneracy painted in bold strokes.

The mendicant shuts his eyes and mouths a final piece of advice. –

Through all the feasting remember to hold on to your bowl. You never know when you may need it again.

While we are all waiting for the end, never forget where it all began.

Waiting

Unfinished Business?

There are many ways of attaining salvation.

Various paths lead to redemption.

The catch is what kind you are looking for.

You are a successful physician waking up in the morning, in the middle of the night, whenever duty calls. She walks into your clinic with a huge belly and tells you, ‘No, I am not pregnant.’ Never mind that she takes the seat proffered courteously in a crowded bus, smiling at the man who feels good about having done his bit to society, a good turn and all that jazz. She rests her arm on her belly, her mind still.

She wouldn’t be seen dead at the doctor’s clinic, but for the fact that she cannot sleep at night anymore. There was this hand that began at her belly and worked its way upward and she couldn’t breathe. She didn’t mind dying then, but he dragged her, to Medical Woman, much against her will.

You, as a medical woman, lick your chops at facing such a ‘case’. Yes, she can visualize her rubbing her palms in anticipation, thinking, ‘Oh to sink my scalpel into your belly…’

She can hear every word said and those left unsaid. She sits there listening to the conversation you are having with the man and not a shadow flits on her face. They park themselves there discussing her and she doesn’t care. All she wants is to get away.

You give her a couple of sedatives. You make her sign. You make him sign. They don’t even read the papers.

She is ready.

She spends the night in darkness, the mosquitoes singing to her.

She is prepared and lays herself on the cold granite topped table.

Hmmm. Brown and Gray. Strange colours for an operating theatre.

She wishes the team all the very best. They look at her and then away. Their eyes look so warm above their masks. Their eyebrows like suspended caterpillars.

If only they would all be normal.

If only they would exchange banter, friendly like, you know.

After all it was she who would end up dead in all probability.

What was their problem?

If only.

Five hours later, only you didn’t notice the time, for you were ‘out’, you hear the friendly banter you have been waiting for.

Well, finally. You see flash bulbs exploding and your eyelids register them as flashes of orange. And you think, ‘Why the hell are they taking pictures?’ And then you look around groggy from all that and you see the thing you have been growing, harvested in a bucket. Yes, a piece of the creative you.

Medical Miracle woman takes the day off. Her staff of nurses keep a steady eye on her. She slips in and out, like a symphony fading out and coming back with another effort.

Medical Miracle woman feels a twinge in her abdomen.

She ignores it.

Physician, heal thyself.

A year later she’s gone.

The clinic changes hands.

The traffic moves past without knowing.

Without caring.

Deliverance, huh?

Another day, another life.

Thirst. The aches. Trouble in the pancreas. Not enough insulin. Wounds don’t heal. Going blind in an eye. Kidneys don’t flush out toxins. I work despite it all. My home a hell. My family gives me hell. My life hell. You get the drift? Hell. I ride an old, old scooter. I feel dizzy. I pause. If only this spinning stopped.

It did.

Nobody knew. I waited on the cold metal table. They came. Took a look at me and nodded. Took me away.

She called. He called. They called. She called again.

‘Hello?’

‘Could I please speak to –‘

‘I’m sorry he’s no more.’

She mourned his loss for a day. An entire day. He was her financial advisor. He made her take insurance before her surgery. He told her of the new savings’ schemes that were set afloat, advising her what would suit her family the best.

And now he was gone.

Well, he was family.

More than family. Family, often, was out to get you. Your money.

Now she mourned the death of an insurance salesman. Just last week, he had come around to collect her cheques for various payments and he spoke to her about his daughter.

‘I wish she knew what she wanted. She paints the most beautiful pictures. She has such talent. You must see her work. Do you know of any boy, you know, a suitable match… I would like to see her married.’

I shot him impatient looks when he wasn’t noticing and smiled when he looked up from his teacup. Well, how was I to know?

And have you heard of our priest who took on the role of escorting all departed souls to their final place in heaven?

Fools, they all hope for heaven. Now, I, I know I’m going down. Down to hell. Hell is where the action is. Black and red with flickering flames. A colour scheme to die for. People who are like you.

Heaven is not for me. Not with that wishy washy white and blue palette. With insipid clouds and monotonous harps.

Sorry, I digress.

About our priest. Our priest had problems. Tried ‘Home’ remedies. Fasted. Underwent purification rituals.

Now his son escorts the dearly lamented souls over the Vaitarini, the river you cross after death.

There are many ways of attaining salvation. Various paths lead to redemption. The catch is what kind you are looking for.

Well, there is no catch really.

Life happens.

Death happens.

The interval between the two is when it all happens.

Here is where it all happens.

The urgent need of the hour is to live, while you are at it.

I mean, like, really live.

So, when your moment comes, you are ready.

You certainly don’t want your epitaph to read, ‘Unfinished Business’.

I most certainly do not.

urgent

Urgent

Moi, Sass Queen Extraordinaire.

Look, I haven’t always been this way. Nobody starts off like this, OK. Nobody becomes Sass Queen just like that. There comes a time when you realize you’ve had enough. And that heralds the rise of the Sass Queen. She takes the Sass Crown and seats herself on the Sass Throne and takes control of her Sassy Life.

Before the dawn of Sass, I was as elusive as a neurotic fish in a vast ocean, hiding deep underwater. I had nothing to smile about. I had a lot on my mind. Things were not going too well for me. Hold that thought. A Sass Queen never cribs or whines about her pore ole self…no poor me syndrome.

So, in a world of other Sass wannabes, what makes me the original Sass Queen? You got it right, there has to be a list. Learn while you burn, lesser mortals! And then just burn!

  • So, here is the first criterion. I know who I am. You cannot tell me otherwise. Save all your pseudo-psychoanalytical drivel. Save your breath while you can, as well. You cannot tell me anything new about myself. I know what I am. I know I’m being ingloriously vain about my ability, but then you won’t find me in denial about anything ever. A Sass Queen just knows. And doesn’t care.
  • I don’t think I can be a better version of myself. At this moment the version of me is up to date, and don’t presume you know any better. What I am works for me, if you have a problem, deal with it. I ain’t gonna change for nobody. I am absolutely sass-worthily fabulous. So there!
  •  Bring on the vapid, insipid, uninspired, colourless, uninteresting, feeble, flat, dead, dull, boring, tedious, tired, unexciting, uninspiring, unimaginative, lifeless, zestless, spiritless, sterile, anaemic, tame, bloodless, jejune, vacuous, bland, stale, trite, pallid, wishy-washy, watery, tasteless, milk-and-water, flavourless (list compiled from Google), for that is what everybody turns out to be, in comparison to me. And I’m not exaggerating. Cause I be the original- The Sass Queen.
  • I believe in dressing up in my very own unique style and I do not follow fashion trends. I set my own trend, to hell with common opinion. And yes, I shall team an incongruous red, blue and black cotton blouse with a pink and white silk saree and get away with it. Somehow it all gels well with me. So bring your best criticism to me, and say I’ve made a fashion faux pas, and I will say yes, and look you in the eye, and you shall look away and crawl back into whatever you crawled out from, in the first place. So, do not give a Sass Queen your opinion. Nobody asked you for it. Ouch! That must have hurt!
  • I do not need your company. And for that matter anybody’s. I have my family, my students, and a very few friends who really matter. I smile at you, exchange a few words, but that is it. A Sass Queen is an enigma.
  • I can say a lot with my face. It’s pretty elastic and prone to be more honest than I am. See, I wouldn’t correct you in public, classroom excluded, I’m too refined for that, but you will know, if you are looking my way. You’ll know, the next time, at least. So when you see me roll my eyes and give you that look, and fix that glare on you, you ought to know it is time to shut up, or correct yourself. A Sass Queen is a woman of few words.
  • I know a lot. I keep my eyes and ears open and my mouth shut, most of the time. I know more than you think I do. Of course, when you get a little presumptuous or even a little obnoxious, I have the perfect line, to put the brakes on and cut you short. I shall always have the perfect comeback. You cannot ever win. If I am quiet, it is because I choose to be so, not that I am at a loss for words, ever. I am silent because, it is not worth it, or maybe you are not worth it. A Sass Queen knows when to speak up. And when she does, the world listens.
  • You can’t hold me ransom. Ever. I shall not do anything I don’t want to. Ever. I am not going down that road. Big mistake. And Sass Queens learn from their mistakes.
  • I don’t compromise on things that matter. My cup of tea. My routine. My life. My space. Back off, if I make you feel uncomfortable. Nothing else matters. Power. Glory. Name. Fame. All transient. Good while they last. Take them away and what remains defines the real me. And I am real. The me. Very real. The Sass. Absolutely real.
  • Sarcasm is my second language. There can be no greater criterion. Ever. And that makes me The Sass Queen.

img-20160609-wa0000-copy

Thus spake the Sass Queen and the world stopped, to listen.