The other half


Everyday I wake up
I open my eyes
I find the other half
Tidy and unslept

Its been a while now
You have left
Left for good?
I can’t believe

Still smell you
On my clothes
I feel you around
When kids smile

They miss you
I try to be both
You and me
But I miss you

Go to rocks
I sit there
Cry alone
Cry for long

I book your tickets
From random places
For I don’t know
Where you’ve gone

Next morning
I open my eyes
Hoping to see
Your smiling face

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Instead


How I wish I could close the door
Shun the memories, bitter & sore
 
How I wish it was all that easy
These thoughts could just go fizzy
 
I don’t want to look back to the past
I want it erased & I want it fast
 
I don’t want to embrace the dread
I want to let go & move on, instead
 
How I wish it was all that easy
This question mark’s kept me busy
 
How I wish I could close the door
Oh should I? I can’t be so sure

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Window Seat


“Pudhe chala, pudhe chala”, conductor shooed me even before I could enter into the bus completely.

I scanned the rows of seats, more to check out for girls than for the empty seats.

No girls, let alone the possibility of finding a beautiful one. Instead, I found a pair of empty seats behind the driver’s cabin labeled ‘Striyannsathi’. Reluctantly I sat at the window, recalling those terrifying episodes of aunties arguing over these reserved seats for ladies. Battle of sexes.

The bus was reaching to the next stop and I could see a ray of hope. A flock of birds. Four. I counted in my mind. The group reached to the seats and impulsively I came to my feet and walked ahead and stood there. From the corner of my eye I checked the girls. Did I see her smiling at me as she took my window seat?

My heart started pounding. Sine waves of ‘x’ frequency and ‘y’ amplitude ran through my spine.

Shut up Rahul. Come out of those CET preparations. You are through. It’s done.

Excitement had started building up inside me.

My first day in that disciplined engineering college is going to be eventful. Hope she is in my class.

Rahul was sitting in the same bus with his diary. He had written that incidence as a story. He hoped it was another Two States or Five Point in making. But after that first day he had not got any time to write anything further. Well, it wasn’t just about the time. Nothing had happened anyways.

He would catch the same bus everyday and look for her on the next stop. But only her friends would get into the bus. He was missing her so much. He was scared if she had fallen sick. He had even thought of asking about her to her friends but he was scared. He did not know how will she take it. She might find it embarrassing.

It’s a Saturday today. It’s been a week since I saw her first.

Rahul was sitting behind her friends in the bus, reading the diary page over and over.

I don’t even know her name.

He felt very sad. His thoughts were broken by the phone ring of one of her friends. He listened to the conversation carefully.

“Hey Neha, where have you been? Didn’t even call us. its been a week. What’s the news?”, her friend was excited and was talking very loudly.

Oh, so her name is Neha. I love it.

“You got into IIT? That too Kanpur? Thats so cool.” the friend of her was getting louder with every sentence.

“Oh, you are already there at Kanpur now? Don’t tell me. We did not even meet. What? The lectures started already?”

The other two friends were trying to snatch the phone from her to talk to Neha.

How I wish I could do that too and talk to Neha. My Neha. I wish I could tell her, I am missing her a lot.

“Hey wait, I will write it down. This mobile will be with you?”, the friend took out one of her notebook and started scribbling. She was repeating each digit to confirm.

Bus reached to the college and Rahul literally ran towards the PCO booth near the bus stop. He took out 6-7 coins from his pockets. He recalled the number and dialed.

“Hello!”, a sweet voice answered at the other end.

This has to be her. Yes, it is her.

Rahul slammed the receiver back and cut the call. His heart was pounding loudly. He did not know what to say.

Calm down. You can do it, Rahul. You have to do it. Just speak up dude. You know she likes you.

After a minute he found the courage to dial her number again. Slowly he dialed it. He was deciding how to talk to her and what to say.

After a ring the call was answered. Rahul’s heartbeat stopped. The words froze in his mouth again.

The sweet voice at the other end spoke, “Hello?

“Rahul, I know its you. Please don’t hang up”.

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The moment I regret the most in my life.


St. Augustin High School, Sector – 11, Nerul, Navi Mumbai. My school versus the home team. All the players and our coach are tensed. Net in this volleyball court is 4 inches higher than the net at our school where the team had practiced. This is a first match of the knock-out inter-school volleyball championship. Scoreboard reads 4-15.

There I am standing with my 6’2″ tall body, beside the court with other team extras. Coach walks to me and orders, “You playing at Anand’s”.

“Are you nuts? Anand is the captain”, I tried speaking but words wouldn’t find the way out.

I often see myself playing on the net, easily blocking smashes, placing a few myself, scoring points for my team in that very match. No, not in the dreams, but in bright day light when I am thinking about it. I wish I had said yes that day and had not frozen to death with the thought of Playing-in. At the captain’s position? For an Extra this was too much to believe at that moment.

No need to mention, we lost. And we lost badly. My coach nor anyone else spoke to me about that incidence after that. After that, till date I have never tuned down any opportunity to play Volleyball. Be it picnics, free lectures during my graduation or annual competitions, I have played them all. But whats the use. You don’t play inter-school championships everyday. The moment I regret the most is passed and cannot be re-lived and changed.

It was evident, we would have lost in any case, me or not me. What did I think when I said no? I was scared to lead a losing team? I did not have any glory in past to lose with that match. I was mere an extra. No it wasn’t the fear of losing. It was just a fear, fear of playing. I was not ready. After weeks of practice of being an extra, it was very difficult for me to go in.

Me going in and bringing in the victory to us would have only been possible with magical wand. Well, without me also the victory to us would have asked for the same wand anyways. May be that is why the coach wanted to experiment? Was it a test for me for the upcoming tournaments? If I had played even on an average level, I would have had a chance to be ‘in’ for the next tournament? May be that would have been a start? Start of a new Me. More confident Me. ‘Bring it to on’ attitude Me.

Not that I did not have that start later in my life. But then it would have been earlier, much earlier.

One thing is for sure. I will not be able to forget this incidence in my life. And that is what now makes me never say a no for any challenge.

For now that I know, what worse can happen is, I’ll lose. But after all, not trying is the worst of it all, isn’t it?

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Vacant


Little Johnny looked back. The old lady was standing in the veranda trying to light the lamps which were hanging from the ceiling.

Johnny ran to her and offered, “Let me help you. don’t trouble yourself with this.”

“Oh, that’s so sweet of you”, said the old lady smiling at johnny.

Johnny was nine now. He would turn ten on coming Sunday. He was disappointed as he wouldn’t be able to celebrate it with his school buddies . He was feeling very bad about it and had decided to take a longer route back home from the school. He chose to walk along the riverbank. It was a deserted walk, away from the colonies.

On his way after some distance, he saw an old house. He got curious to know who could be staying in there. He waited at the fence and observed the house. It looked empty and rusty, making it look scary. The darkness inside the house made it look scarier.

Johnny was hesitant to go inside as he was scared. He decided to turn and run towards his home. He was about to start when he heard opening of the door. He looked back and found this old lady struggling to light the lamps which hung from her porch ceiling.

“Here. This was the last one”, Johnny said as he finished lighting all the four lamps.

“Be careful while you get down from the railing”, told the old lady with a tender voice.

Johnny jumped from the railing and landed on all his fours.

The old lady came close to Johnny. Stroking his silky golden hair she said, “Thank you very much my child.”

“No no. Its fine. We have been told at school to help our elders in every possible way. I will tell miss Jenny I helped you with the lamps”, Johnny said with the excitement sprinkling in his deep green eyes.

“You look so similar to my grandson. His name is Johnathan”, the old lady said sitting the rocking chair.

“Oh, you have a grandson? Is he inside? Does he go to school with me? What class he is into?”, Johnny tried peeping into the house from window.

“No he is not inside. They don’t stay with me anymore. My son moved to town after marrying Johnathan’s mom. I have never met Johnathan”. Tears rolled down from the eyes of the old lady. She sat silently rocking her chair slowly.

Johnny couldn’t think what to say. He just stood there with his head bent down.

The old lady sensed the discomfort in Johnny’s eyes. “It’s OK dear. It’s been a long time. I have accepted it now.” she said.

Johnny still stood silently not knowing what to say.

“I’m sorry”, he just managed to say after some time.

“Ten years back they told me Johnathan died in a plane crash. He was a pilot in the air force. I could  never meet him. I only have his photographs my son sent me when I insisted”.

Johnny’s face looked sorrowful. He was not able to take it.

“His eyes are exactly like yours”, the old lady said. She tried changing the topic but she couldn’t think of anything else but her grandson to whom she had not been able to meet. She wouldn’t now, ever.

Johnny noticed someone standing at the gate, staring at the house.

“I’ll check what he wants”, said johnny and ran towards gate.

“Are you looking for something mister?” johnny enquired.

“Oh, hi”, the man seemed baffled with sudden approach by johnny. “I’m not sure if I’m searching for anything particular. I just come here sometimes. It feels good around here

“What brings you here kid?”

“I was just passing by”, Johnny said.

“My name is Johnathan. I’m a pilot”, said the man and extended his hand.

“I’m Johnny”, Johnny said and shook hands with the man.

“I used to stay with my parents in the town away from here.

“Yes, May be you are right. May be I’m looking for someone. My granny stayed here. My parents never allowed me to visit her. I always longed to meet her.”

“Oh, you are Johnathan the pilot? I know you. The old lady just told me about you. She will be happy to see you. Come I’ll take you to her”, little Johnny was excited.

“But she died an year back…”

The man could not complete the statement. Johnny’s face looked aghast. He wasn’t listening anymore.

Little johnny looked back. The old lady was standing in the veranda trying to light the lamps which were hanging from the ceiling…

Author’s Note:

This is the result of my thought process about a question. If spirits are free form souls, then can they feel each other??

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Can you change your past, I wonder.


Across 12. A person with ability to see the future; a software giant (6).

I’m smiling to myself. I put the newspaper down, reaching for my bag to get the case. I open it gently. Still smiling to myself, I take out the spectacles from the case and wear them. I take a look at the paper again. 12 Across is waiting to be filled. I adjust, on the frame of the spectacles, a knob of a kind. My vision blurs, as it does when opticians change slides while checking your eye power. It blurs for a small amount of time before I can see clearly. I check the crossword. 12 Across. ORACLE. The blocks appear filled. I adjust the knob again. When my vision clears up, I fill the empty blocks. O-R-A-C-L-E. I let out an evil laughter in my mind.

I can see the future. Am I an Oracle? But, I can only see two minutes ahead into the future. These spectacles only allow me to see what will happen at particular place two minutes later. Is it really a big thing? Two minutes is not a big time. What can I do in two minutes? Nothing great.

Next station Dadar, speakers in the local train crackle.

I recall how, when I boarded the train, I was late and did not get the seat. Then how, I adjusted the knob on the spectacles and kept watching people around me. It is sometimes funny to know what people do in public. I saw a person pricking his nose deep. I made a mental note of not seeing in that direction after 2 minutes. It was grose. I turned my head in other direction and there he was. I saw him getting up from his place. He took his bag from the rack above and started for the door. I hurriedly walked to his seat and stood there, restored the knob and waited, waited for him to get up, get up in real this time.

Here I am, sitting at the window seat, feeling the fresh air gushing over my face. Oh, it feels great. It feels powerful. I sigh. 2 minutes is a very short time man. Hell, what more can I do, by seeing two minutes ahead, than getting window seats in the local train. I want more time. 2 hours. 2 days. I need to do something. There must be some way to increase the duration. I need to know how this stuff works. Oh, why did I hate physics in school?

Next station Andheri, speakers crackle again.

I get down. I meet my wife who is waiting for me. I join her in the queue for the bus. I notice she has shopped for grocery. Why does she shop for the whole week at once? I choose to ignore her else I will end up having to carry all of it. I have better business to do. I still have the spectacles on. I fidget with the knob and wonder how it works. I want to increase the duration. I can do so much if I get this thing to see much ahead into the future. I see that my wife is telling things to me. I don’t care. I don’t have time for her office gossip. I do not care how that lousy peon refused to fill a water bottle for some colleague or how some male chauvinist pig is troubling a friend of her over promotion. I’m sick of it.

Hey wait what did I just see? I saw these specs falling down on road and a bus smashing it into pieces. I remove the spectacles. I don’t know what to do. I look at them. In the next two minutes these are going to fall from my hands and I’m going to loose them. I need to do something about it. I don’t want to loose them. Think something man, think some way out. I instinctively put the specs into my wife’s shopping bag. She must have got furious. She must be yelling at me that if I can’t take some weight off her, I shouldn’t be at least adding to it. I don’t care what she feels about it. I’m too tensed. Have I changed the future? Oh wait. Future can be changed like this? If I saw it happening, doesn’t it mean it’ll happen anyways? If I was to change the future then shouldn’t I have seen the changed future? Freak, this is insane. Oh no, is it true that the actions one takes now, decide the events in the future? This is getting very scary.

“You don’t care for me. I am carrying this heavy bag and instead of taking it from me, you putting your own stuff in it? And what is this anyways? Why are you carrying these weird glasses? Where are your own? You aren’t even listening to me. Go to hell. And take your weird stuff with you.”

I see the spectacles in my wife’s right hand, raised high in air.

Can you change your past, I wonder.

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Addiction to the game of Chess


Chess is an addictive game. It may sound funny to you. It’s not a card game and if it’s addictive then why isn’t made part of a casino. You might think I have gone crazy. But trust me. This simple board game of 16 pieces moving over alternate black and white 64 squares can get addictive at times.

I have this particular chess game installed on my mobile called champion chess.  May be it’s the word champion which makes you feel like one when you win a game. It’s one of those chess games where it allows you to choose the colour of pieces you want to play with. And then you play against the artificial intelligence. It has got a nice AI.

It’s not that I’m a great chess player or something but I do win against this game. Well but yes sometimes when I’m very confident to win the game, suddenly whole board changes. The game takes a twist and I start losing pieces after pieces.

This game has amazing feature to save such situations. That is the trick. It lets you undo your moves. Great, isn’t it? I keep undoing until I reach to a position where I had command over the game. And then I proceed. I proceed to win. Sometimes I have allowed the game to continue without undoing the moves. Still, on few occasions I have managed to survive on my own and to turn the game quite graciously in my favour.

At times when I’m depressed or low I pick my mobile and start a game to cheer me up, just to gain back some confidence  and to feel like a champion. But, you know it well. When one is feeling low it’s tough to win. It’s tough to win anything that time. Even a simple game of chess. And once you start losing, you keep losing. That is the stage where you cannot stop. You cannot quit. You feel a desperate need to win, to win at least once. Game after game you struggle and urge to win. You might even consider quitting. But it’s not possible now. You have to win. You need to win. You might not get sleep if you won’t. And then suddenly, you win. You don’t understand how. You don’t remember that one magical move. You don’t know. You won’t know. But, you have just won. Finally, a victory. You are worth. You can win, yes you can win. You hurray loudly in your mind. You can win more. You want to win more. One more game. You ought to win this as well. Yes one more game, surely…

Chess can get addictive at times I tell you.

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