Monday, December 26, 2016

Desolation

It is the dead of the night, as always, always,
For there is no other time that I can seek
To carefully unwrap my guarded soul.
The wind whistles, as if in complete understanding
Of the quiet tempest which shall yet unfold.
I demand no answers, you see.
No shrieks of ‘why me’ to escape this being,
But tears have a mind of their own.
I breathe through choking sobs,
Staring ahead painfully,
As if hoping the vista would gaze back
And save me the bother
Of putting into words those long-buried remnants
Of hope, love...salvation.
Am I dying already?
Or can I still walk on ahead
One step at a time,
Brushing away stray wishes and indulgent dreams,
Towards the inevitable...whatever that might be,
While caring little for those flimsy little things
That we call relationships?
The metaphorical bridges stand burnt,
And I wish I knew how to swim.
But one must learn, mustn’t one?

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Wherewithal, Bereft

[Fanfiction written for the Peaky Blinders series. Oh, how I've missed novelising.]


''You see, I've got a bright future…"

It was often that Michael Gray would wake up to the sound of his own words ringing in his ears, the irony of his incarceration (for the second time, he'd have to remind himself) not lost upon him.

There was time for painful reflection after all, a bit too much in his opinion, but what else could he do while confined within these dank stone walls?

Reflection that didn't culminate in him retching from shameful remorse at the thought of having taken two lives within a single day. It so remained that he contemplated the possibility of remorse only perfunctorily.

For no one willingly walked into the lair of the Peaky Blinders with any intention of holding onto their moral scruples. Michael knew what he was in for when Tommy took him under his wing, even as his mother held onto the mistaken belief that he was only required to look the other way.

What he hadn't anticipated was their boss turning on them, every single one of them.

And so Michael would pace the length of his sordid cell, bitterly aware of his conversion to the gang's true methodology – a lethal mix of intoxicating power and force – as the realisation that normal, ordinary life wouldn't sate him henceforth began to sink its teeth into his very being.



The door to his cell opened, forcing Michael to snap out of his usual reverie, as he heard a brusque command emerge from the shadows followed by the sound of heels clicking against the stone floor, the silhouette of a woman darkening the doorway.

He looked up as Charlotte Murray lifted the veil off her face, offering a strained smile by a way of a greeting. Michael rose to his feet, astonishment etched in his features, and gestured to the mourning attire she was dressed in. "Did someone…?"

Charlotte shook her head. "It's a disguise. Your lot has considerably lost favour with the city."

"It's all part of a plan," he sighed in response, echoing Tommy's words, albeit hollowly. She shook her head yet again, this time in disbelief.

Michael stepped closer, tentatively reaching out to cup her face. "That night…was it taken care of?"

Charlotte momentarily leaned into his touch before pulling back abruptly. "It was taken care of," she affirmed, locking her gaze with his, and he sighed again, conveying the apology he couldn't bring himself to express in words.

She stepped back as he continued to appraise her, murmuring, "Why are you here, Charlotte?"

She looked away, unsure of her answer. It lay somewhere between her impending engagement to that cavalry officer stationed in Ceylon and her increasingly inability to stay away from this dangerous, dangerous man.

A man who both was and wasn't like the bunch of gangsters he called 'family'. A man almost the father of her almost born child.

Instead, she simply said, "You killed a man."

Michael stared back at her with affected equanimity, taking a moment to register that his formal charges listed only Father Hughes, that blasted priest. "I would explain, but it won't matter, would it?"

How was he to explain to her the strangely liberating feeling of hacking away at his childhood abuser's throat, a yet unacknowledged thirst for vengeance fulfilled at last?

His silence spoke for him, and Charlotte could barely hold herself together as she turned around and started to walk away.

Michael didn't try to hold her back, choosing to call after her instead. "But you wanted me to be like them, didn't you?"

She didn't look back, and in a single moment of permitted frustration, he punched the wall before him.

"Well, here I am, a fucking Peaky Blinder."

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Misgivings

It wasn’t often that she took to the bottle – hardly in fact – but the days that she chose to become, well, inebriated enough to stop thinking, she was either possessed by a devil-may-care disposition or was too melancholy to bother with anything or anyone else.

It was strange. She usually hated the aggravating effect that alcohol had on her existing frame of mind. However, like most things, she’d come to realise that the intoxicant, used in lesser, precise measures, could be a tool. Whether it’d be to put her nerves at ease in a situation too social for her liking, or to take the seething edge off her ruminations, the luxury of which she would allow herself only within the confines of her room with the unspoken assurance of being left to her devices for hours to come.

(Her father’s nonchalance at her liberty to make a drink for herself at will did come in handy at times, after all.)

Nonetheless, reverting to the occasion that warranted the use of such recreation in the first place. Well, not so much an occasion than a series of realisations acquired over time – most notably, over the past two years – which led her to worriedly introspect, confront herself even, all this while that she was home with time to spare finally.

Realisations of her not so subtle sense of disdain for people not as clever or bright as they should be (whether the need to be about one’s wits was a trait self-acquired or drilled into her through her upbringing was a question she was yet unable to answer). Realisations of her misplaced arrogance with respect to her understanding of the world, her character traits which in her opinion placed her on a higher pedestal than most others. Realisations of her deep-rooted distrust derived either from such aforementioned contempt or fear of being trivialised that kept most at bay, while she was rendered bitterly complaining about the disappointment arising from people tripping over her own deliberately laid traps and obstacles in order to reach her.

All of which served to instil some form of misanthropy in her mannerisms, to say nothing of her thoughts.

It was indeed strange. She retreated further and further into the fortress of her mind, deluding herself with the prospect of being entertained only by those worthy and capable enough of recognising her defence mechanisms, even as she remembered the grim reality that no sane person would be willingly subject to an acid test over and over. Her concern, that the first, preliminary layer of filtration shouldn’t suffice to keep her safe from being betrayed later, served as little consolation. 

But the arrogance, the flimsy assurance of having something of your own to claim…it is what kept her from bowing down and meeting the objects of her misanthropy halfway. 

Easier to keep your head high and march forward, in the everlasting hope that you stand to gain better than what you left behind, isn’t it?

Even if it meant going back to a book and a glass of wine, people be damned. 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Incertitude

It is easy to take your own self for granted. I remember a time when writing was not merely a convenient mode of expression, but a necessary fallback against the vagaries of the world.

I can’t seem to place it any longer. Thought self-care could be put on the backburner while I ran after things, often not any less material. Never thought I’d start viewing everything from a life-or-death perspective. Nothing ever is

However, I often forget my own pithy observations about life and the ideal ways to counter its bittersweet snares.

Nonetheless, I itch to write. Something. Anything. In times where my inner realm stands charred in the flames of my self-loathing and its worldly manifestation dangles precariously on the edge of maddening hopelessness, I don’t have it in me to go flailing before another entity in order to be rescued.

The last time I did that, it was akin to being saved from a cesspool only to be thrown in quick sand. No, thank you.

Thus the drive to turn upon what remains of my survival instincts. The lure of creativity, the brief illusion of power -  to be what I’d wish to be, to run free and unthinking…maybe writing is not something I could ever forget, despite making myself believe otherwise…


He doesn’t bother reading through the rest of the entry. “Pessimist,” he almost sighs in response.

I continue to regard him steadily, my gaze turning ever so hostile at the slight posed to me by his lack of patience with respect to my work. “You could at least finish.”

“I don’t need to.”

“Just because I may have conveyed the same thoughts maybe a thousand times to you previously, the written form has more to it than the content.”

“I’m not here to appraise your writing skill. How much more flattery do you need?”

“Limitless.”

“Insecure.”

“You don’t talk.”

“Why not? Easier to point fingers, no?”

“Let me shatter your glass walls next, then.”

My hand snakes up to his, tentatively grazing his fingers. It takes all of my strength to remain composed – my eyes are beginning to cloud, my breath already coming and going in heaves.  I could do with more than just holding hands, but it is all I can allow myself to seek.

He grips my hand nevertheless. “What is it?”

“You know.”

“I do. I still need to hear it from you.”

I regard him, both a plea and an unspoken understanding in my eyes. Of course he knows – we are cut from the same cloth after all. Forever caught up in our heads, unable to demarcate reality from the veritable battlefields which our minds are. Ruminating over our past selves, grieving for mistakes in a manner almost akin to exhuming corpses when they should just be left buried, dead and forgotten to the world except to our own selves.

“Does it matter?”

He doesn’t misunderstand the question. “Never mind, I won’t hold such repetition against you.”

And so I tell him, perhaps for the thousandth and one time, wishing he would simply read the rest of my scribblings instead.


However we write, with the tiniest of hopes, for it to be read. It doesn’t matter whether it is the world, or just one person; writing is also an exercise in vindication, complete only upon external acknowledgement.

It is also a measure of calculated courage over the false bravery of the spoken word.

I write to you, my friend. There are, of course, a dozen threads in my head needing some form of expression, closure even. Not all of them would result in the sort of reaffirmation I need at the moment.

Reassurance that I’m not the only one, certainly not mad enough to be feeling this way. Recognition of my rather skewed perspective on life and the reasons for the same.

I weave words into a veil, hiding behind it while yet calling out to you. I drew that line myself.

For you see, I look to not delude myself with the temporary comfort of your embrace, but stand on my own two feet while drawing strength from your faraway presence. The idea, of ‘help’ being a call away, is empowering in itself.

After all, did you not tell me that “darling, you see, no heroes are coming for you – grab your sword and don your own armour”?

Friday, January 22, 2016

Maelstrom

A quiet moment of gazing at the glowing sky was all it took for her to lapse into rumination.

After all, moments of deep introspection didn’t occur to her unless she was facing a vista. It took all of nature’s breathtaking beauty to still the chaos within her mind.

Chaos, or mere numbness? Her life seemed no less convoluted than a tangled ball of yarn, but she felt more like the needle entwined in the fibres, inert, unmoving… trapped.

Cornered, up against a wall like a frightened prey…unable to rationalise, one step away from lashing out, even as she awaits the killing blow. 

She can’t even remember the chain of events which got her to this unpleasant state of being.

But like everything, the cause didn’t matter either. Futile – everything was so bloody futile. Why was she even trying?

Her own reflection was nothing more than a carefully crafted mirage, vanishing in the realm of solitude to nothingness.

There had been something…someone, even, but the anchors had been torn away long enough for her to lose herself to the distant horizon.

And she didn’t know where to look.

Like broken shards of glass, beautiful yet merciless, her feelings lie scattered before her, wounding her with every step.

And so she trudges forward, leaving blood in her wake. A hazily marked trail, indeterminate yet significant to anyone who would bother looking for traces and yet she sought no salvation, no knight in shining armour.

Just a tiny little spark of hope – that damned double-edged sword – of being sought after regardless. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Languish

She sat by the window, gazing out as was her wont to do. Her gaze languidly searched the sky for patterns amidst the myriad hues that the clouds seemed to take on with the setting sun. The quiet chill of twilight brought about a strange stillness to her being, afraid even to breathe.

Lost in a reverie she was, yet alert enough to discern another presence in the room. Her gaze did not shift; she remained where she was.

Quiet, breathing. The hand barely touched her shoulder before it was taken away.  She didn’t look up, only murmuring a ‘yes’ to convey that she was listening.

She couldn’t miss the oddly half-sheepish, half –rakish smile in his voice as he asked, “So, what are you up to?”

And she smiled, despite herself. “Waiting for you, sir, so that I may be graced with your honourable presence.”

“Stop playing the princess.”

“Says the one who acts all high and mighty himself.”

“Oh, as if! I’m a person of humble means, you see…”

The mindless banter went on back and forth, while the twilight continued to fade, vestige by vestige.

There was this and there were other moments. Of unspoken understandings, shared insights and common inspirations. Her vehemence would cross paths with his anguish – the only time they would. Those few moments of togetherness,  revelling in the way they were so alike beneath the veneers.

Those few moments were all that she could allow herself, after all.

But they had more than those few moments, didn’t they?

Long talks, hands held, kisses stolen in the dark. The rare occasions where they willingly allowed inebriation to break their walls. Only to revert to their otherwise impenetrable fortresses, nursing old wounds, on the lookout for yet another battle which would, hopefully, not be their doing this time.

They were both fighting the same enemy, and yet unwilling to come together, preferring to be distant allies, keeping their endeavours as less intertwined as possible.

He dreamt of the one person he couldn’t be with; she grappled with her fear of never finding anyone else again. And as hopeless as these quests seemed, they were all they had to fight on for. Quests that brought them dangerously close to a single path, but it takes more than shared interests to keep one bound to the other, doesn’t it?

And that, the crucial element, was dearly missing.

For she reached out to him against both their wills, and his response, while comforting, was nonetheless marred by the bitter realisation that even that couldn’t be to her claim, let alone his heart.

It was another question - a question she refused to acknowledge – whether she truly wanted to claim him in any respect to begin with.

She leaned by the parapet, her gaze resting on the gently rippling waters of the lake, her body heaving with the measured breaths she forced herself to take. It had been a long, excruciating walk and climbing low hills worryingly proved a challenge to her decreased stamina. Her somewhat fragile health was on a long list of things she didn’t find to be all right. And as always, it was bound to give away to more pressing matters.

Matters which existed in her head. Anxieties and fears none too real, but acutely felt within the realm of her dreams.

It did not help that the only way she had known to fight them off, all these years, was through an anchor.  An idea, a motive…but mostly, a person.

Something she had failed to find well over a year now, the last attempt succeeding no better than the others.

Her eyelids fluttered to a close, her senses focused on taking in the sunlight that warmed her skin against the light breeze. She stilled herself to take in the moment as much as she could, knowing that moments like these were substitutes for the lack of a veritable safe haven, however poor.

What she didn’t anticipate was to feel a hand brush against her shoulder, starkly reminiscent of the previous times and unwillingly she looked up to see him standing there, the same slight smile gracing his countenance.

She thought she was dreaming.

"I’d say, what a pleasant surprise, but I’ll forego the pleasantries – the startled look on your face is a little humiliating, to be honest-“

“What are you doing here?” she cut in, having little patience for his ramblings.

“I could ask you the same, princess.”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake! Can’t a person have a little peace and quiet some times?”

“Eh, no one’s denying you that,” he remarked, not failing to take note of her impassive expression which was only betrayed by impatience flashing through her eyes. Impatience crossed with anguish. “I know that look very well, you know.”

“I know you do.” And much as I may have wanted it to be, it’s none of your business.

“So tell me. Why are you here?”

By this time, she was already on her feet, almost shaking with antipathy. “How does it matter?”

He shot her a narrowed look, but said nothing. To which she almost smiled. Of course, not your place to say it matters, right?

The forced mirth was replaced by quiet seriousness as he asked again, “Tell me.”

But he remained where he was, and she was only too aware of the distance.  Mutual understanding be damned; I refuse to partake affection and concern from afar.

She crossed the gap and walked past him, but not before stopping to lay her hand on his shoulder. ”It’s nothing. You may go.” Time you did. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Noesis

I miss writing. I really, truly do miss it. It’s something…to feel the clatter of the keys beneath your fingers, to see that image viewed in your mind’s eye come alive word by word. Or the times when I bother to take paper and pen, to see black ink scrawled across a pristine white background. [I hereby admit that my handwriting takes on a life of its own, compared to the neat, precise letters that I otherwise maintain.]

For now, I’ve decided to go the stream-of-consciousness way. My muse refuses to humour me, you see.

Strange that it does, considering my current environs – I call it my own English manor; this house atop a low cliff overlooking the sea, in midst of torrential rains that abate for only a few blessed hours during the day while the sky continues to remain overcast, making it a permanent twilight. Monsoon is my favourite season, and nothing calms me more than the rumble of the ocean. To see the two combined should have brought out my artistic ability in oodles. But all I see is a blank slate, with no colours around that I could even splash on it for random effect.



[Maybe I never had any artistic ability in the first place. Cue more randomness.]

But when the rains finally ceased long enough for me to venture out, I walked all the way down to the jetty. The clouds were there, all right, and the sea was as restive as ever.  The jetty was crowded with silly tourists getting themselves photographed at a dozen spots - none of them differing any more substantially than the previous ones – and corny souvenir shops. I lingered around just long enough to take in the sight of the waves crashing against the pier, and walked back home.

The next day, I venture towards the city, stopping short of the main beach. The place from where the coast began was thinly populated with hutments and fishing boats. The sky was shroud in myriad hues of grey, steadily overwhelming the pale rays of sunshine which broke through from time to time. Except for the sea, it was quiet. I wandered onto the wet sand, with the waves occasionally reaching up to my shins. The stiff winds had thrown my hair asunder, but I bothered enough only to rake through them to ensure that they didn’t get into my eyes.

And I stood still, the water lapping at my feet and the sea breeze rippling through my clothes, my gaze settled on the horizon, almost indistinguishable in the grey haze.

I felt nothing.

[Maybe this soul-searching business is overhyped, after all.]

There was a time, when the mere sight of the sea lifted my spirits to a state of joyous abandon.  It symbolized an inexplicable sense of freedom which I so often envisaged in my daydreams. A lot of my writing did have the element of water in the backdrop.

[And strange that I should be writing about not being able to write about the sea – it is still writing after all, isn’t it?]

However, to stand there today amidst what I considered as one of my infallible sources of inspiration…and not be stirred in the least, it was disconcertingly puzzling.

And yet the gale was inescapable as was the sound of the sea, thrashing about in the distance, its waves appearing no more than white jagged lines to my eye as I would idly sit by the balcony railing.

[Looks like that is all my consciousness is filled with at the moment.]

Maybe I am not able to appreciate my surroundings as much as I would like to do, considering that I am present in them to begin with. Maybe this serenity which I seemed to have taken for granted will come to me when I go back to my desolate, landlocked city.

My notions stand changed – some recrafted, some simply annihilated – and I rummage about in the remains, looking to see if in the process my creative ideals have been laid to waste as well. But I hope and I pray that they will resurface in due time.

Just as how some things wash up onto the shore, thrown forth by the ocean.