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Lava

lava

They are afraid of you, and they will never admit it.

Sometimes you’re ablaze, because the sun has temporarily set to rise again in your eyes. Other times they’ll shake their heads in perplexity, you will blink and all that will be left is a dull, incandescent glow.

Lovers pour their hearts out to you in pretentious poetry and plastic roses. Even the chocolates they feed you taste like margarine, not butter. Their kisses feel sticky, like cello tape-how else will they shut you up? You see, people dismiss things they don’t understand.

Before you sleep, they will remind you that pillows are for smothering your thoughts, your ideas, dreams…and feelings, what are they?

But you won’t die a soft, feathery death.

You’re tired of only standing by the edge of the pool. You muster up enough courage to do a cannonball. You’re tired of skirting the edges, so you hit bullseye. You’re done with being a molehill because really, you’re a mountain, a volcano, poised to erupt. And when you do, the doubts will be set adrift amidst the lava, and you will feel content because you finally woke up and decided to wear your passion on your sleeve. You will remind yourself daily that no matter what, you will never roll up those sleeves.

But people will still complain.

That you always set things on fire.

 

Via Daily Prompt: Adrift

Daily Prompts

Muse

chaos

You’ve finally given up on the muse who promised to come, but never did.

So you take a walk to clear your head, ambling along like an untethered cow. The sun is dipping, cloaking everything in partial shadows. But you’re caught in between, half-illumined.

You see children leap over potholes and garbage heaps-and hope that they don’t vault into adulthood too soon. You pass a bevy of tittering women, and stop to stare at their faces. Caked with an illusory whiteness, you wonder whether they realise that their kohl-lined eyes betray ancient sorrows. You want to tell them that youth is a farce of time.

Several hands string flowers together but you cannot discern their perfume-the atmosphere is wreathed with sweat, tears, staccato outbursts of laughs and the pungency of unfulfilled desires. You stand there, realising that there are no stand-alones, only amalgamations.

As you keep walking you are jostled, assaulted by sights, smells and sounds, and you understand that this is how it has been, will always be. The world is a chaos of colours, a web of dreams and a swamp of uncertainties. You, the artist has seen and felt much-but not overwhelmingly so. Inspiration sometimes traces its sensuous fingers up your spine or rakes its nails down it, but you will endure both sensations to reproduce the curious things that have touched you.

You cannot be a child playing hopscotch, hopping from one box to the next, carefully avoiding the lines. You must be brave enough to step on them-they are the artistic boundaries that cannot be explored by anyone but you.

You hold your thoughts close, but your ideas closer.

And that is when you know that all along, you were your own muse.

 

Inspired by Ben Okri’s novel ‘Dangerous Love’ previously titled ‘The Landscapes Within’.

Via Daily Prompt: Farce

Uncategorized

Before you send this to voicemail…

tele

Hello.

Everyday, I hear a million conversations. Many of them are unspoken.

I consider it a painful privilege.

I often dwell on all the calls that never went through-calls that were disconnected even before I began to ring. Calls intended to convey emotions that somehow got lost in transit.

Some people pick me up and don’t say anything. They vacillate between sighs and silence. Between sigh-lence. They finger my little black cable listlessly. I curl around their fingers imperceptibly, to offer solace in the best way I can.

Then there are those who pick me up to rehearse what they want to say. Deaths. Breakups. Unwanted pregnancies. But they never get around to making the call. They leave me behind with the weight of their untold secrets.

But I’ve enjoyed a fair share of happy conversations. Promotions. Marriages. Birthdays. Listening to their squeals of pleasure, I produce a burst of static, unable to control my own excitement. But I take care not to cause too much disturbance and ruin the moment. There is only so much we can do as inanimate objects to partake in moments of joy.

I remember no names. Only sentiments.

If you were to take me apart one day, you’d see a vault of thoughts. Perhaps you’d find some of yours too.

And so I sit, for time to come, replaying conversations that don’t belong to me.

You always speak into me, through me. But someday, will you pick me up to just…speak to me?

 

Daily Prompts

Zen and the Art of Sustenance

zen

 

“It’s been a dry spell.”

“Oh. For how long?”

“Quite a while. I think it’s back.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“I’m not. It’s only a guess.”

“Be patient. You have written before. You will write again.”

“Maybe. I don’t know.”

“How do you feel?”

“Barren.”

“It won’t be long before you’re fertile again.”

“You think so?”

“I’m quite confident.”

“So what do I do until then?”

“You will write magnificent trash and create fool’s gold.”

“But what’s the use of that?”

“Well, you can’t become an overnight sensation.”

“I know.”

“Writing is like this: sometimes the words drip slowly, like a leaky faucet. When that happens, you need to get your hands dirty by reaching in and pulling out the dirt.”

“And then?”

“Even after you’ve unclogged the tap, the water will be muddy for a while. But soon enough, it’ll flow, crystal clear.”

“So this blankness is just temporary?”

“Yes, but so is lucidity.”

“So what endures?”

“Your desire to create.”

 

 

Via Daily Prompt: Temporary

Daily Prompts

Love, Specifically

“I love you” is so passé.

 

Tell me

I smell like melons

In the summer and pine

In the winter.

 

Point to the mole

In my little toe and whisper

That it is but one star

In the constellation of my body.

 

Do a magic trick and

Pull out a syllable

From behind my ear, grinning

“Love is the word of the day!”

 

Although we may be snuggled

Warm beneath the covers,

Expose those secrets-that can’t be

Kept under wraps.

 

I’m not one

For sweeping conclusions,

Don’t be so general-get down

To the specifics.

 

Via Daily Prompt: Exposed

Daily Prompts

My Name is Eggplant

As the clock strikes 10, he briskly walks in to the department to serve coffee. Once he enters, his gait is slow and careful. His face is scrunched up in such concentration that a sweat bead on his forehead stays frozen, afraid to drip until the very last cup is served.

His footsteps always make a squelching sound, as though he walked for miles in the rain.  Several times I run to the window to see if the sky parted, but it is the same dry soil every time.

One day I went to the pantry to grab a biscuit. I saw him sitting on the edge of a stool, waiting for a call from someone in the department. As soon as I walked in, I was met with a blast of hot air. I leant against the counter and asked him casually, “What’s your name?”

“People here call me Eggplant.”

“Eggplant?” I mused, taking in his bright purple uniform. The connection was easy to make.

“Yes.” he replied with a grin that didn’t quite meet his eyes.

“Wow, it’s so hot in here. Don’t you at least have a fan?” I asked, looking around. Inside the office, where the AC’s were perpetually whirring, we escaped the summer heat unscathed. I didn’t know the conditions outside were so starkly different.

“No, we do not get such facilities,” he said quietly, looking down at his shoes. The shoes that squelched from the sweat which accumulated while sitting stifled in a humid pantry.  His life was measured by the distance between the pantry and the department. A distance that was so small-yet made all the difference.

He is back again, and it is almost 5 pm. His tray is laden with snacks and sweetmeats. After he serves everyone, he walks away, empty-handed. His tread is slow as always, and now I know why. It is to savour those extra few moments inside the AC-cooled department, before he returns to his post at the pantry. As he exits, I catch Eggplant pause near the door. He leans briefly against a wall, yearning to blend in, and sit there forever within the cool cracks. But his purple shirt is too bright, too unmistakeable. Then he is gone.

He will be back tomorrow, and the next day, and the next, with the same old squelching shoes and bright purple shirt, and if anyone cares to ask, he will reply, “My name is Eggplant” resignedly.

 

Via Daily Prompt: Lifestyle

Daily Prompts

Heaven-sent Angle

geometry

She thought about him. Again. About how he had always told her that her face was perfectly geometrical, but towards the end, never looked her square in the eye. How her palm didn’t feel smooth and oval in his hand, but rough, like an uncut diamond. How his embrace didn’t go all the way around her, stopping short at a semi-circle. How his touches evoked a sense of sharpness, ones that reminded her of acute angles.

She wanted none of the geometry without the symmetry.

Then it began to rain with such a vengeance that it began hailing. She wondered if hailstones fell when clouds wept a little harder, more forcefully. She touched the tears on her own cheek and wondered, if humans cried the way clouds did during hailstorms, would lumps of salt trickle down?

 

Via Daily Prompt: None

Daily Prompts

Cataract

Car-Headlight-Bulbs-2

She was hurriedly crossing the road, grocery bags in hand, when a car’s tyres screeched to a halt in front of her. Hearing the driver curse, she glared in return. A few potatoes fell out and rolled all the way down the street.

The panic of having been nearly run over hadn’t left her yet. Then she realised why the car hadn’t seen her. The headlights were queer-they emitted an eerie milky glow in the night. She diagnosed the problem: cataract.

 

Via Daily Prompt: Panicked

Uncategorized

Patchwork Quilt

Chennai_train_station.jpg
Chennai, a city in South India

The day has come for you to leave the comfort of home and move to a new city. As you fly alone for the first time, you examine the contents of a plastic pouch in front of you. Aside from a magazine and a safety manual, you find a paper bag that would come handy if you felt airsick. But none gave you a paper bag that read “In case you feel homesick.”

As you look out the window, you recall what someone wise once said, “Every place has its own vibe. Listen to what it has got to say to you.”

And so you do.

Chennai. A seamless blend of the old and new. The modern and ancient. Traditional yet avant-garde. An electric, no, eclectic city that you cannot wait to explore.

On the first day, you take the bus to work. Even at 7 am, it is crowded. Seats that can only accommodate two squeeze four. Sweat patches create map-like patterns on mens’ shirts, and you wonder what destinations await them. Your mind rotates faster than the wheels of the bus.

You get off and take your seat in the office. Two hours into work, you feel a little drowsy. While stretching, you look up and notice something for the first time. The ceiling is shaped like an inverted ice tray. Instead of ice cubes, tube lights are nestled in the hollows, brilliantly lighting up the entire floor.

The days pass faster than you hoped they would. While walking back home, you see the road swelling, like a tide. You are glad you are not another fish entrapped in a net of traffic. You look down and thank your feet.

You turn the key in the lock of a house that is not yours. But still, you hear a familiar click.  Houses, given time, eventually turn to homes.

Reclining on the sofa with a cup of coffee, you run over the events of the day, and soon enough, your eyes close. Your dreams weave a patchwork quilt from your experiences, so when you fall asleep, you are warm and snug. You dream that in this new city, you will encounter a lot more stories.

That can’t wait to be told.

Daily Prompts

Civilisation of Discontent

He visited today, after long.

At first, Ma didn’t notice him, but he always has to make his presence felt. So he rattles the grill a bit, making a sound somewhere between hissing and cackling. Ma looks up finally, and her face breaks into a smile. “There you are! Where have you been all this while?” He gazes at her, his teeth bared. Ma potters around the kitchen, looking for something to feed him. She finally hands him some peanuts.

His tiny fingers nimbly reach in through the grills to grab them. As he munches quickly, he furtively glances at Ma, as she inches nearer. The relief, I know, is mutual.

Up close, he engulfs the blue of the sky. After the peanuts, he tries to reach for the tomatoes soaked in water inside, but Ma is quick to say “No, don’t even dare.” I think he looks a little sad-the light in his eyes dims a little.

Ma talks to him some more. Shares tidbits with him about her life, what she plans to cook for lunch and where she will go shopping later in the day. He seems to be listening politely, his lips parted in an ‘o’. He then shakes the grills suddenly, screeching. A grief slowly washes over me, like an uncomfortably cold, lazy tide that decides to only wet the toes. I wonder on which side of the grill stands the real prisoner.

I go to the window, and look outside to see tall trees with sturdy branches built for swinging. I see freedom in shades of green and brown. The monkey follows my gaze, in silent agreement. After all, we originate from the same roots.

He grabs the nearest electric wire, and swings out of sight. Until next time.

 

Via Daily Prompt: Roots

monkey