Saturday, 24 February 2018


An African Boy


                                                     Pencil Sketch
                                                     An African Boy

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The Grey Boots

‘It isn't love if you aren't proud of him. Had you ever been? I can’t think of a single instance when you battled for him or contradicted our statements that mocked you rather, him and you as a couple. Was this not inevitable? Is this not just? The years shall unfurl how propitious and wise have been these hours which you scorn for being so dark.How imprudent you could have been to prod into a world which is so disparate to ours and catch an ailment that could have jaundiced the repute!Had you not been a gem and a subject of adoration to many such eyes which find place in the grander niche? It was undeniably a ridiculous camaraderie.’She had been silently listening to Dora with her penitent countenance buried in her palms. Her elbows were pedestalled on the table with a pair of shiny boots resting next to them and she sat muted and engrossed in the thoughts that had been pestering her since her conscience rebelled her desires.

Dora had been a witness to that companionship since it began but it never found a gesture of appreciation from her, ever! They had often communed the most intricate and the surreptitious matters with each other but this never picked much importance to be a topic of disquisition.  It all began when there wasn't much intrusion of the friends, foes and those detested others who were often found in her proximity. A summer’s violent moon, engulfed in its silvery attire had mischievously played the subtle game that day. He had been a soothing companion to her seclusion and despair, which was later pursued by a strong infatuation and then…..which wasn’t ‘Love’ .It would have been strange if it would have happened at all! But it did, violating the conventions that governed the assortment of a perfect companion.
Rose had looked straight into his gleaming eyes and had fathomed the earnestness with which he had asked her to bare her heart. She could have flouted it but she hadn't! Perhaps, it was the virtue of the intellect of a painter that made her succumb to his unseen immensity. It was an obscure corner of a balcony owned by a tea-shop that was preferred by the non –garrulous, self-possessed fraction of the populace. He was a painter at the nascence of his career and she was a corporate professional.  The bounty of richness that brandished her status was quite ungenerous to him. She had been a woman of means while he was mean, in his etiquettes, his attires and every social attribute that defines ‘Gentleness’. Yet, he had picked her curiosity! It was definitely not by mere chance, but by the stars that they shared the same table that day.

They had conversed, though not for long but it was enough for her to be seized. The flippant deliberations had gradually begot a serious tone about the tumultuousness of life, the perils and her. She had perhaps found the most suitable pair of ears which could listen without placing forth a single opinion. She could see his fingers playing with a pen captured betwixt two of them and the rest of his entire body captivated in her words. She had always been a lonesome child then a lonesome woman and  craved for a voice in  her silence.

She was enthralled by the naïve witticisms, the slovenliness and the ingenuousness that described him. Before she could speak more, which she desperately coveted to, he stood up with a jerk, pushing the seat behind and hurriedly spoke, ‘I wonder if I could talk more but I have to depart. I had a friend who was to make a visit and I should have been home by now.’ She made no delay in probing into the purse clasped in her hands and soon they emerged with a small paper which bore her name, a few more details and a number. She rose from the stool to reach his hand that extended towards her.  He stood upright, yet small in his full length while she leaned towards him to hand him the paper. She took notice of the full stature of this man who had amused her with his brilliance and simplicity. He appeared a little charmer, basking in his naturalness opposite to her fine daintiness. He grabbed the paper and he straddled away while her inquisitive large eyes still rested on the receding man.

It wasn't many days yet, when she received a telephone call. It was her ‘little man’. They often conversed thereafter, rendezvoused, walked down those long tedious lanes where they would have rather taken a cab, spent hours waiting for the bus but took to their heels when they saw one nearing. Perhaps, they found solace in each other’s presence except when even the most reluctant eyes watched them with derision while making their way past them on the streets and in the cafes. Their scornful stares intended sarcasm at the unlikely couple. She was tall, slender and refined while he, a petite unkempt imp. How could she have found love in that incongruence? What made her slip her gentle hands into his’? It was perhaps the colors she usurped from the artist that probably explained the affair!
The frequent trysts had progressively found a place in their daily schedules but there was an unspoken discomposure which had progressively got raised. The sarcastic stares and those disconcerting remarks of mockery which appeared insignificant some time ago had gradually gained quite significance. She often appeared quite dejected in his companionship and frequently passed swift diffident glances at the crowd around to spot such ridiculing eyes.
Soon she could feel a faint slackness in her desire to adhere to her little man. It was an enforced detestation. Yet she yearned for him. But wasn't he an ill-fit gem in her solitude? Wasn't severance the panacea to all her woes? She was pursued by a determination to part with him. Ultimately, happiness born of immature whims is ephemeral!
The sudden intimacy trailed by an abrupt avoidance was an unjust affair that had ravaged the normalcy of the poor man. It definitely wasn't an unrequited attraction. The inexplicable avoidance had made him approach her several times to scavenge for an answer but it remained unanswered! He could have never perceived the thought of being disregarded for being that what had enticed her but only when he received a written note, his curiosity was answered.
The note explained their disparateness and her naivety to pursue an unlikely communion. The note was answered by another note. It was the best token of affection that he could have sent. And the last one!
It was a pair of high-heeled, grey boots for men and a note  was attached to it!
The letter read:

Dear Rose,

Love is an inevitable ailment and it finds way through the loneliest of all paths. Perhaps I was loved by your seclusion than by you! The ‘disparity’ betwixt us is an exaggerated explanation to your conscience to justify thy imprudence.  The difference in those insignificant inches and my flawed behavior could probably be a justifiable reason for the separation in your ostentatious niche. Hence, I gift you these pair of boots which cost me all the money that I had accrued over time to procure something precious for you. But love is often less valued than the luster and life! The boots might prove to be a better companion in your solitude than me.

Yours loved,

Dora continued, ‘The idea of severance is indeed an excruciating one, but you can’t consume which cannot be digested!’ She lifted her sunken face from her palms and passed a serious gaze at the garrulous ever intruding and irrefutable friend.  Her hands sluggishly crawled over the surface of the table and grasped one of those polished boots and the crumbled paper and glanced at those distorted letters buried in the folds of the letter. Was it not intense impertinence? But was she not deceitful?
She shot up from the chair with an unexpected swiftness and tucked the shoes into box. The words were rude enough to malign the egotism and the blow was to be answered. She marched out of the room pushed the boots into the bag resting at the corner of the table. Dora stood dazed at the abruptness of her friend. It was rather a sense of accomplishment that her persuasion wasn't rendered futile.
It was after few months when Dora received an envelope. It contained an invitation.

  The honor of your presence is requested at the wedding of
Rose and J.Vimal
The seventh of July
Two thousand and thirteen
At two clock in the afternoon

The Wedding Hall, Street-5
Near Café 9, Gurgaon, New Delhi

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

A friend

Far beyond the cacophony of the bustling populace, on the meandering lanes that lead to the outskirts of the city, dwelt a beggar. The undulating lane overshadowed by an old bridge had been his abode since an unknown time. A small iron chest which contained a bunch of tattered clothes, few match boxes, broken jars and other abstract articles which perhaps had never found any use in the past years had been his few paraphernalia . The bank of the sordid street walled with the massive bridge had protected the poor beggar from the extremities of the sultriness of the tropical summers and the battering monsoons. A patched thick plastic cover that he had accrued from the trashes served as the roof when the rain water seeped down the olden bricks and wetted the soil floor.
He often went up to the yonder town-market and earned a few pennies by doing the odd jobs at a sweet shop. The money made helped him to eke a living for the next couple of weeks. It was his indolence that had consumed his youthfulness and restrained him from working. The dung cakes that he made served as the only fuel to make his meals. He sat himself on a heap of wooden planks infested with mites and relished his meager meals.
An irksome stray dog often came wandering to the estranged beggar and perturbed his tranquil living. He threw at him a handful of his half cooked rice and as soon as it portcullised the last grain in between its canines, he kicked him away. It often whined or barked back but returned again the next day. The dog was perhaps the sole companion in his deprived exile, though unwanted and despised.
The sultry summer had begun to retreat and the squalling monsoon clouds had started roiling the cracked summer fields. Water trickled down the crazed roof of the dilapidated bridge. Water flooded the streets and the old plastic roof had become too old to hold the monsoon water. The nippiness of the sodden air made the beggar ill. He hid himself underneath a tattered blanket and a polythene sheet. However, the unkind rain water invaded him through those numerous holes in it.
The dog strayed around the sick man and whined aloud but he hardly twitched or moaned. His sickness was exacerbated by starvation. The man lay in unconsciousness. The dog too starved. There wasn’t a morsel of grain! The feeble frame of the beggar was too frail to pick him from the illness. The only live object his eyes could perceive was that petulant creature but it too disappeared!
He slowly raised his blanket from his weary countenance and his eyes probed into the farthest corner till which they could see. The dog had gone! He slipped back into his slumber. The clouds ruthlessly poured down and drenched the streets more. He had slept for hours in unconsciousness and hunger. There was a sudden push on his head. He dragged down the blanket from his wizened face. It was the dog. A couple of loaves of chapattis firmly clenched between his teeth dangled from his mouth. It was the only piece of food that he had found. It laid the loaves on the ground and waddled away. After a while the man mustered himself up and nibbled on them. The rains had begun to cease by then.
The ill man slipped out of his wrecked dwelling, wrapped in a dank shawl and made his way towards the town-market. The rains had expunged the fields and the streets appeared as a grave of the dead
remnants. Broken trunks of the trees, heaps of shards, reeking trash and lifeless carcasses of rats and lizards bordered the wet streets. And there slept the annoying dog, dead with cold and hunger!

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Page 789

Nikhil's diary had always been a subject of intense curiosity to me. The forceful pace with which he scribbled in it exacerbated my inquisitiveness each time I saw it but his tranquil and grave countenance prevented my nosiness from yielding results. He and I were great friends, yet there was an untold flimsy barricade. He often came to my place to spend his futile hours and sat narrating the agonizing intricacies of his life. At times I endeavored to probe into the pages of his prussian blue testament but it culminated into utter futility and often into trivial wars.

There was a sudden ringing of the door bell this morning. I woke up startled on my bed and stared at the giant wall clock. It was six in the morning. I dragged myself to the door and pushed it open. It was Nikhil. He stood pale and lifeless, shivering and drenched in the winter rains. Water dribbled down his wet hair in thick runnels. It had been raining violently since the last night. I called him in and fetched him a towel.  I told him to wait for a while so that I could get him a mug of coffee. He placed his little bag on the table and grabbed the towel from my hand to dry himself. I returned in a while with a couple of coffee mugs and found him plucking out articles from within his bag. All had been wetted by the rain water. There was a square watch, a drenched kerchief, a couple of cigarettes and that diary. He sipped onto the cup and released a breath of relief.

Before I could question him much, he interrupted me and said, “I need to leave early. I have some important work to finish so I am leaving these stuffs to dry. Bring these to the office” and he departed abruptly after taking the last sip.
 As soon as he left, I leapt upon his diary with an elevated sense of victory. Ah I had made it! I ruffled the pages and it opened to the last one. It bore the number 789 and I started reading those scribbled paragraphs.
December 17, 1992

This diary has been an intimate fragment of mine since that year of 1989. It bares every moment of my life and contains a testimony of every single incident that had etched the pages of this sojourn leaving behind its impression inerasable and irreparable. It has been a loyal companion perhaps like a mirror where I stood clad in the naked truth of selfness, unfettered and unmasked. It is an oeuvre which reflects those numerous events that fills the lacuna between the brackets of my life, death and…..after!
 It was a gift from her. I had preserved it, caressed it and wrought it. She had been a concealed secret of mine. How beautiful! How somber! How feminine she appeared draped in her floral frocks! How capriciously she held me captive in her ceaseless charm! How furtively the curls tossed on her shoulders as she treaded those cobbled pavements! I had been intoxicated. We had been the most intimate cohort of each other in those few years. That was an unexplained magnetism and an inseparable amity. We sauntered about in those populated corridors where hundreds of pupils sat themselves in clusters engrossed in their playfulness and sincerity. There was immeasurable warmth of ardor, youth and nascent maturity.
The incessant disquisitions in those galloping hours, the immense desire to possess her and the lurking fervent affection kept me fastened to her. How desperately I raced to catch her companionship despite the monotony of those loathsome studious hours! But despite the intense familiarity, my fears rather my cowardice desisted my confession. Years fled with subtle nimbleness and the unspoken admiration leached deep down into the crevice of time. She was lost and so was I.
It was on the last Monday when I took a bus to that old city to toss those frozen myriad of lost moments. The old friends had decided to meet. The monotonous winter evening sky and the tardy cold grappled every other passenger in its piercing wintry bitterness. My neck stood out through that layered fortification of the checkered muffler and my crest lay buried under a brown woolen cap. The bus stood amidst a little crowd by the side of a narrow sordid street. There were men, women and children gaping at those endless lanes banked by the lofty eucalyptuses.
It was eight by my watch. The tearing honk of the bus disconcerted the chilly silence. I climbed up the bus and waded through the streaming crowd to reach my seat. Placing my bag on it, I threw myself on the soft Prussian cushion.  I slid aside the window pane and a frozen wintry gust of wind stroked my greasy countenance. I hastened to drag back the pane and tilted myself a little towards the back and rested my head.
The swift fleeing lights and the persistently following moon seemed to peer through the pane as I gazed out with my crest on the soft cushion. The bus raced through the city towards the tranquil peripheries of the civilization. It stopped for a while and a flock of people crawled up those steel steps onto the bus. They jostled through the array of the seats and one of them bundled in a wrap of shawls and settled beside me. It was her!
The dimly lit bus showed me her delicate form, ignited in surprise to see me. She sat glaring at me with her brows elevated and smiling. She rained down a buffet of questions and I still gawked at her startled and overjoyed. We were heading towards the same destination to rejuvenate those old memories. I was seized with an uncontainable desire to confess those old buried emotions but the sudden ardor subsided with time.  
There were a few lame discussions on trivial matters and soon she retired to sleep. The pale light of the trailing moon silvered the seats and its passengers as it pushed through the desolate woods of the outskirts.
There was a sudden jerk and I felt a sharp pain. I felt a wet stream oozing out of my thighs. There was a heavy weight on my chest and I gasped to breathe. There was a sudden upheaval and before I could comprehend the situation, the uproar subsided. There were broken glasses on the road and a couple of broken rods dangling from the window. The heavy weight on my chest was her lifeless body. Streams of blood pooled that rugged street. The night stood still. The unkind silence spoke of death. There wasn’t a single living life. They all had died…..even me!
 The diary dropped and I stood dazed. A sudden call disrupted the silence. A sobbing voice spoke mournfully, “I have an awful thing to say. Nikhil Sir passed away in a bus accident last night! None of the passengers survived…..”