Saturday, April 21, 2012


The desert sands can do strange things to a person. The grains burrow deep into your skin to lend your face a timeless quality. The old man squatting opposite us was around ninety, but he looked older than anyone I had ever seen. Underneath a pair of bushy eyebrows, his eyes still retained sparks of a long forgotten fire.
We were in the middle of the Great Indian Desert, listening to a story being spun by the village great grandfather. We perched on a colourful mat in the courtyard, right outside a cluster of huts which belonged to his extended family.  I leant against a mud wall, trying to keep the scorching sun out of my eyes.
When he started speaking, we could barely hear his voice at first. Then slowly, we got used to the ragged, whispery tone that he spoke in. He told us of the times when India had still been under the British Empire. Stories which don’t make it to the history textbooks.
“We never had enough water in those days. There was only one well, many kilometres away. People would walk there and stand in queue for hours on end. Hundreds of thirsty men and women gathered there for water, not just for themselves but also for their families. “
He stopped.
In the distance, I could hear a faint sound of the winds blowing over the sands. If you close your eyes and think hard enough, it will remind you of the sea at night. Sounds of water rushing over sand.
He went on.
“Each person was allowed one pitcher of water for the entire family. We walked for hours back and forth in the burning sun. You couldn’t even leave your place in the queue for a while because someone else would seize your place. “
I stared into his face. It looked like an ancient parchment, wrinkled and frail.
“Do you know the thorns that stick to your clothes and prick your feet as you walk on the sands?”
We grimaced. Of course we did, those annoying little burrs were a constant bother. We would spend hours picking them off our clothes and feet.
“If you look closely, you will see that each thorn has a little grain inside. We used to go hungry for days on end and these grains kept us alive. “
I think he spoke in an alien tongue that day. Survival at such a primal level dealt a heavy blow to my urban naiveté. It took a long time for my mind to wrap itself around what he was saying.
“Those days were long and hard. But I am happy now. “
I took my eyes off this living storybook and looked at the hut he was leaning against. It was soot blackened and looked rather battle weary.
 Feeling guilty would be cliché. However, I had an odd feeling that being a hero was probably the last thing on his mind. The sands do that to you.

Written long ago.

Sometimes, the words don’t look the same. The same everyday words mutate into twisted creatures from a desolate netherland. That dark land is inside your head, painting your nerves and brains with a riot of colours.
You have given the artist, a ladder to your head. He’s gonna run inside your mind and splash off. That colour shall come seeping down your eyes when you are walking. That golden yellow is crawling down your eyelids, colouring your vision to jaundice. Your ears hear the sounds of death, slaughter and laughter. The red seeps in, closer and closer till she sees red for what it was truly meant to be.
Do you think he will leave your head? He already knows the narrow pathways of your mind, dousing them in colour wherever he so pleases. Move your head wildly from side to side. Let the colours mix up in a frantic madness of colour. The colours will seep in through your body, with fluorescent leaps and bounds. Your coloured footprints will be a work of art, with penniless artists feeding off the dried strips of colour on a dirty pavement.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Home, sweet soul

The city is lies, deceit and pretend humane. It is a complex machine of sorts, masquerading with a human face, a familiar place. It lulls its unknowing people into a complacent nap.
 Everything is alright because I am a happy place with a smiling face. Believe in me and the buildings that you see around you. You are mistaken. Behind those shut windows are not soulless souls who pretend to live.