Sang e Marmar Kai Pahaar, Mountains of Marble

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Here we are again, at the crossroads of fire.

And the mountains of marble seem so close and yet they are so far away. Each time, we stand with brazen memories which are nothing more than hazy blurs. Or pungent dreams which suffocate us and haunt us because we held on for too long. And silhouettes—frozen in the shackles of time, desire and thoughts. We know too well that if we touch them–they will break away. Each time–we think it is not the end. It is not anything, it is nothing. So we become forlorn and hide in shadows of our own selves. And that’s why we are who we are.

That is why, we are just lingering trains, going from station to station, going through murky tunnels into the abyss which we call the end. Because this train goes from station to station, never stopping for longer than intended and never late but never on time either.

And we are all submerged in circles are time, rushing towards the City Fair, thinking we will have one final go on the Ferris Wheel, one final go before they take it down. But we reach there just before they run out of tickets. So we just watch from down below, the mesmerized faces with languid bodies clinging on to the sky, laughing. And we leave knowing we will never come back to it again, because it will be gone and there will be no more tickets to buy.

Little do we know that there is a young red head boy on that Ferris wheel–who wants to stay up there because he knows too well–when he comes down–the hole in the floor will eat him up. And he is scared because that hole will swallow him up and take him nowhere.

Or that girl–who has that recurring dream–right out of the cataclysm, where she sees that forsaken stairway. It goes somewhere, but she does not know. But she knows too well for she never took it. She never intended to. And now it haunts her. Because everything is jaded and everything is cold.

And how often do we stand and stare at the possibilities and feel and say things we were never meant to. And how often do we want to run away, because we had to. Because it is in our blood, our genes. And we cannot stay because we are not meant to. Because we are broken pieces of what we are, and will be and were.

There were two hundred plain red canopies in that stranded ground which no one goes to anymore. Who were they for and why? Were they a vivid dream or were they not? They were empty and they had no purpose. And She would often break free from her melancholy and visit them. And sit and stare at how the sky looked from the red canopies and try to form a question towards the sky–which only asked her more questions in return.

Far off somewhere, music was heard but it meant nothing. It never did. And She just stared, dancing as a lifeless form, knowing quite well how it will burn the canopies. For She was fire–meant to burn out and fizzle away. And She would stop to sit in random trains–which went nowhere and try to figure out where the stairs went. Every time She would be the one to get tired and get off in a rush. Because deep inside her–there was a simmering hole which could never be filled.

So here we are again–at a crossroads which can take us to the marble mountains where nothing exists. Because the soil has been love famished for the rain but the rain, it ceased to fall because it was tired of falling again and again. So both lost–and there was a storm. On the other end is a stairways which never existed. So She takes the path leading to the mountain and atop the marble mountain–She would go and dance–a lifeless form, because that is the only thing She knows. And that is where no dreams haunt her and no trains leave her. And She wants to sit on Ferris Wheels–which are about to be taken down. There, She will laugh one last time and disappear.

 

 

Khwab-Haqiqat

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Isn’t it funny how empty spaces around us take us back to empty memories which we did not even make ourselves. And empty dreams which we see–as vivid as they can be–trying to find recluse in them. We try not to wake up. Because we are no more the warlords, the princes or the goddesses we were in our dreams when we wake up. We can no longer weave pastel shaded threads around empty spaces and call it home when we wake up. And we are never out of breath—suffocating–in our own beings when we go to sleep.

That little girl wearing a blue skirt and a yellow shirt with a pink flower on it–saw an Orange Swan and ran to her father—“Daddy! Look an Orange Swan! I Saw and Orange Swan!”. He laughed at her, “Ha ha…there are no Orange Swans–only White and Black ones darling. It is just in your imagination.”

But she had seen an Orange Swan. For it waded the purple river and spread its bright orange wings and looked at her from the side of its wistful eyes and then disappeared into the misty horizon. And she wanted to run along the river–in order to see it one more time. She never did for she never could. And that was the day the inner child in her broke and dispersed into thin vapor. And she would never see that little girl again–for she disappeared too–in a horizon which could not be seen.

And one day–she dreamed of a flower field–with grey flowers which had no scent and they were all wilting. There was a rusty ground and the stench was of death and stagnation. And she found a pond of thick blood and she took a swim in it and she drowned. After that–she never woke up again but when she finally opened her eyes–an Orange Swan was waiting for her on the end of the horizon so she ran towards it. She saw a little girl wearing a blue skirt and a yellow shirt with a pink flower on it. And they both looked at each other and laughed and rolled down the cotton hill.

They saw a tulip field and ran towards it–and they built a ladder made of tulips which descended towards the green sky which had a hundred brown clouds just floating about in it. They would live in the clouds from now on. And they laughed and climbed. Climbed and laughed. All of it until they were not two people but one which was no longer human. And as this Entity reached the clouds–it could not get in because the clouds were made of thick shiny glass. And the Entity suffered. So it sat on the tulip ladder and cried.

And lightening struck, the glass clouds shattered and the ladder broke away–and there was no hope. Everything was a neon blue and there was tumult. So the tired and sad Entity flew down and sank in the bottom of the red river. Nothing was left there in that world but a wistful looking Orange Swan.

Empty spaces become diluted into macabre nothingness and we sit on see-saws and swings and become thoughtless paintings. Orange Swans and Tulip Ladders and Glass Clouds surround us. And we suffocate in our hopes and dreams and wish we never wake up again. Empty spaces take us no where and empty memories are a torment. We become Orange Swans–gliding and wading into misty horizons which don’t exist.

 

Exile

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Thus, too, they came to know the incorrigible sorrow of all prisoners and exiles, which is to live in company with a memory that serves no purpose.
~Albert Camus, The Plague

All days seem the same now. And all of us, who have become prisoners in our own selves, prisoners of time, prisoners-who have perhaps become stuck in a loophole of tainted and fragmented glass–we all were exiled a long time ago in the deplorable chasm. We were stripped off from the colorful skin we wore as a disguise and sent hurling into a place we barely even recognize anymore–our own selves. We keep asking what time is it, what day is it, what month is it, what year is it–who are we?

None of us can feel anything anymore–because years of feeling too much has shrunk us to something we barely remember now. We blame the algorithm. We blame everything we can–but we were senile figures roaming around in an abstract formation and we were going nowhere. And now–we are stuck nowhere.

For we are prisoners in exile. One which even the long nights and days gave up on!

Did we know people before? Or did we just see them and hear them and touch them? Did we appreciate them? Did we decipher death and living? What is the great absurd–did we ever stand and stare long enough to understand? Did we open our eyes just to close them again or did we close them so we could open them again? And did we know that the two meant different things?

Were we ever able to love–were we castrated? Were we films which no one bothered to watch? Were we animals looking for prey—in a big jungle which kept on going round and round?

Does it matter anymore–in exile–does anything matter? Because now we feel things vividly, love from a distance, linger in our own perturbed bodies, clump into our cells and molecules–we want to break free–but we do not even know what or who to break away from and who to break free into.

We hear music and voices and we think we understand–but we are, as we were, so deeply entrenched in our illusions; of control, of understanding, of knowing, of caring–of everything that we cease to be humans. We are only fragments of an idea–which never was, and never will be our own. And we have the audacity to say–fatalism is just another word.

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The old man sat under the River Birch for he was in exile. And he did not remember when it began or why–and he did not remember who he was where he belonged. He did not know the time, or the place–or for how long had he been sitting under the tree. He had no thought and he had nothing to say. But he had a plastered smile on his wrinkled face…

The wrinkles–yes. They were the only reminder of time–but he did not remember when he got them. He just had them–for as long as could recall.

He could see that far away a little boy flew a kite. It was a green kite–which waded through the thin air which made up the sky which was supposed to be blue. The boy suddenly looked at him and waved.

Even further–he could see another boy–much older–running with a ticket of the latest fantasy film because he had missed the bus–this boy was coming towards him. He now passed the old man and as he did–he looked at him, but only briefly.

And he could hear a faint sound of a woman giggling somewhere far away. Was she calling him? Was she death? Was she his lost lover? Was she a memory? Who was she? Where was she? Could she also not feel?

He was tired and his eyes were heavy with sleep and he did not realize it but he slowly began closing his eyes and slumber took over him.

And after many days–he woke up with a jerk. And the wrinkles were gone and he was not an old man anymore. But he was young–tall, able and virile. And he could run and dance and laugh and he did not feel tired. He remembered everything and felt as if the exile was lifted. Now he could go back from this abstract world into reality.

But as he began to walk–he fell down.

Perturbed, he looked at his feet and realized that they were disintegrating slowly into dust. He felt a benign pain throughout his body and he let out a scream. But his voice did not leave him–he had no voice anymore. And slowly he began to fade. His wretched body crumbling into something which will never be real. And as he looked at his hands–they were wrinkled again–so was his face as he faded into a haunting memory of nothingness. His mouth and eyes wide opened–looking at the relentless sky which was empty and perverse.

And the old man—once again woke up with a jerk. And it was dark. And he was in exile.

 

Impulse

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The earth produces a sound which has never been heard before. It seems like the sound is barefoot. Like the little girl who ran on the naked grass–giddy and in a trance. Fixated on her imaginary friends who ran with her. And a soft breeze blew past them.

Did you see the large tree with had purple leaves and an orange trunk and it bore a golden fruit? We used to go sit under it–and it smelt of lavender. And we would laugh and sleep under the sun. That tree is still there–it is old now. It still has purple leaves and an orange trunk and bears golden fruits…but it doesn’t smell of lavender. Maybe that was just us!

And in the zoo–the grey monkey lives on top of the moon which hangs low. It danced for us–when we went to see it and it bowed at the end and clapped its hands and we cheered for it. The monkey shook my hands and hid somewhere within the moon. I still see the moon some nights—and wonder if the monkey still resides there.

I saw the dirty pavements today–they had red dust on them. Red, like blood–only it wasn’t. It was dust because there was a dust-storm here last night.  For a minute–it felt like the earth is glitching–because of the noise and the optics. But it was just the earth–standing very very still and seeing the mad frenzy pass by.

The alien visited me today. He came in a yellow disc which swam in the sky. He smoked a pipe while standing on my balcony and told me to close my eyes and imagine one hundred planets which look like fish-bowls with pink fish inside. I did and it made me smile. He smoked some more pipe and then ate the lemon tart I had baked last night and left without saying good-bye.

I stood by the red phone booth on Tuesday and it rang on Wednesday. I picked it up and I talked and there was static on the other side. It said so much but I could not understand it. Then it hung up. And it began to rain.

Today is the day 365–and I talk with my shadow. Because I am alone. Everyone is gone. They left in a hurry too. And I see fireworks in my head. And I sing on top of my lungs–for I am stranded in this abyss. Everything has been wiped off. Now eerie and empty buildings stand tall and grey. The seas have begun to smell of stale water. The afternoons are days and the days are evenings. There are brown nights. Everything stands still–except me. I am free.  And I have everywhere to go. I have imaginary friends too–like the little girl who ran on the naked grass. I know–because I was one of them.

Tomorrow will be day 1. And maybe the impulses will stop.

 

Sleepwalking

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Where we begin from and where we end up–these two are not very different. Perhaps they are running anti-parallel to each other. In an absurd world, they might even run parallel to each other. It is like a mini metamorphosis, we begin quashed and end up in the same gutting frenzy.

What are all the stories around us except the same? And what are own stories but the same! We run into circles, spinning and gliding in the same place but with different shadows. And different prisms. And different spectrums of light and different frequencies.

Like that brown haired girl–she was always running wasn’t she? Away from herself and into a wild world full of frenzy and silence. In her world everything was sunny, except the days which were always grey. Everything else was sunny-but never yellow.

She began from running when she was a little girl–into a wild jungle. She had no attachments except for her own self.  And that is when she never had any noise around her. Or voices except of her own giddy breath. That was when she went up the green hill which had the big brown rock and she looked at it and think of giant trolls and fairies.

Until she was cycling one day, around a shadow and they were coiled–both of them cycled around each other. And they knew. Until she fell down and he asked her if she was okay. And she said yes and they laughed. But she knew better.

And that time when she would get on the train and see another shadow–looking at her with mild curiosity. And she would smile. But that was about it–because she had so much noise. And she carried a sickness. She carried a weight. And she knew better.

And she took a journey to the end of the horizon, while she sat on a magic carpet, like that of Aladdin. But she had no genie for she knew better. And she waded one storm after the other. She camped out in a Savannah–under the night sky which showed her the Milky Way and she was in awe. Because she was blended. And she knew better.

And she rode an opal train–which had no other passengers on it. And she saw the magic grasslands where the sky was pink and the grass was orange and the river was purple. And she laughed because she was giddy with pain until a tear of joy came out because she carried a sickness–and she knew better.

Then she took that glass ship and sailed in the ocean which had treas growing inside it and the fish were actually birds and they chirped and the flew under water. And she could see three dolphins swimming in the air, along the ship.

And the noise followed her and it tanked her.  The voices would turn into pictures and she could see her mind. The people. She could hear them. She kept on sailing—to run away. But she knew better.

And then she went to those rocky mountains in Baluchistan–in Nushki. And she stood with a shadow. He looked at her and she took his hand because they were walking on a dark path where they would not be caught. And she did not let go until there was light and fire-works. But when she did let go–she knew better.

Then she was hiking on the mountain made of cotton. And it was cold. And she climbed and climbed till she reached the edge. And there she saw a bear made of honey and it dispersed into the horizon because it was tired and weary and opaque.

But she could hear the noise. And she knew better.

And then she saw the Aurora Borealis and she was happy. And in her mind, there were lights and pictures and they spoke to her. So many memories and she could remember nothing but the lights.

But now she was in Italy–in a small town called Murano and she lived there with a shadow. A stranger. Who had taken her away. They stayed at an apartment and during the night they danced and laughed and hid from each other. And during the day–he waited tables at the local restaurant and she waited for him under the sun. And on weekends they went on picnics and to Venice where they would sit in a gondola and she would wear the white dress and smile at the sun and he would take pictures of her. Even though the pictures would be bad–but she would smile at him.

But she would leave now and then and they would say good bye–because she had so many pictures and stories and noises. Because she knew better.

She would sit on the wings of a big colorful bird with a white beak and she would fly to unknown lands. And she would look down and cry with no feelings because she saw the human predicament–all huddled down below while she was up in the sky.

And she would glide through the deep blue dusk sky which had one single star and peace and quiet. She knew better

Her final stop would be the place where she lived–but this was not her home. She was a vagrant. And she would stay at the beach–where there would be no one else except a light brown fox which would stay twelve feet away from her but always be looking at her. And she would sit at the sand–looking at the end of the ocean. Which way did it begin and which way did it end? Was it running or was it flowing? Was it the sky or was the sky the ocean?

The ocean would always be so full of noise. Yet it would always be calm. And she would always stare deep and listen to the crashing waves. Hoping that is all she is able to hear. But she had pictures in her eyes and noises following her and voices in her ears–all locked in. And she never could escape.For she had a sickness. And everything was sunny and the days were always grey. Was is the sun or was it the moon?

And she knew better.

And we always end where we begin from. We always end into the same noise from which we emanated from. And the pictures. And the shadows. The colors are always the same. We begin and end into ourselves. It is a mini-metamorphosis. It is a cycle. And we know better.

 

Home

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What is home? Do most of us have one? Do we ever stop trying to find a home? Did the young orphan try to find his home in other people or empty hotel rooms where his mistresses would come and go? Or in shadows of people he thought he knew? Or in people he met at drab restaurants? Did he ever quit finding a home? Do we ever stop? Does the tired traveler ever get to his home? Or does he keep changing train-stations? Did he lose himself in the air?

Migratory birds.

At the party, someone asked, “Have you ever found that one place which you can call home?”

Everyone had something to say. Mostly because they had been to places. Mostly because they were empty. Mostly because they had nothing to share. All of them had found homes in residues and filters of cigarettes and wines and liquor. All of them had found homes in slot machines and airports and seas and mountains. In people and love and sorrow.

What did I have to show for my home?

I do not think I am meant to be here. I have no home–so I am not meant to find it, to search for it. I had a home once–in my own self. Until I messed up and now I am not allowed back in. People never let me in–and when they did, I never felt like staying. I never had any force entries–people were always scared and intimidated and I loved it. And home is lost to me just like I am lost to home. I am not lost just not found yet. And when and if I ever am found–I will get away from the fire-escape. Because I have no shadow. Because I am a shadow of someone not supposed to be here. Because I am the tide–it comes and it goes. I had a home once–and there was silence there. Because home is a sickness. It has no cure.

The room grew quiet for a second. Then the silence faded and there was music. And I danced because I had to escape, like most people. And like most of them–I knew it all.

Strangers

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We are nothing more than strangers in this grand absurd world. Billions of strangers scattered away from each other, connected by threads and dots which occasionally collide with each other.  This is because we are all webbed in a complex relationship with each other–of strangeness. And often, like a crowd we gather and like a flock we fly yet we do not know each other.

We know not of the next person who stands close to us who is a stranger. And much more than them, we do not know anything about the stranger who lives in our heads. Or for that matter, we often refuse to recognize the person we see in the mirror–another stranger. Because all of us are billions of solitudes, intricately linked with everyone and no one. Transfixed into each other–outside of each other, in our bubbles.

From the womb of our own selves, we are birthed and put into the laps of other strangers and made to live in a void full of a commotion filled with others like us who are lost souls and shards of, perhaps our own selves.

She had that strange dream again that night after which she woke up rather perplexed. But she was not scared or unhappy, rather with a feeling of dry giddiness.

In the dream she stood in an eerie crowd, apparently lost or perhaps, found for the first time. The sky was a pale orange–the color it has before a storm.

She did not know who or what she was looking for. But she was wearing a long sleeveless white summer dress with small blue flowers. In this mad frenzy, she saw a tall figure standing not very far from her own self. But when she focused her gaze, the figure was not very close either.

Both their eyes met. She did not know the man at all. She did not know or recognize his face which was long, chiselled and pale. He was wearing a white buttoned shirt with white cotton pants.

His amber colored eyes carried an unknown lucid expression, a deep emotional perplexity. Her own dark blue eyes stared back at his with a brazen emptiness. They both stared at each other. Their eyes bore and dug into the souls of the other, and went beyond each other’s oblivion.

There was a growing longing in his eyes which could be deciphered from far and in hers, an ever evolving hunger. She seemed to be standing in a euphoric trance while he was clearly enthralled because his shadow in the pale sun grew. His eyes carried the looks of a very known but forgotten delirious desire while hers stood pale in contrast. His eyes had depth, while hers had pain.

And in that moment, there was enigma and there was ecstasy. And there was heat–for she felt it brush against her face, her body and her soul. And she could taste it on her tongue. And with her nose, she could smell this passionate heat. And she could hear a chorus of divine beings singing somewhere. And she could see him–close yet far.

And there they were–two strangers, stuck in a vortex of time which seemed to be dilating. They could not move ahead, nor remember anymore the meaning of anything. They were both strangers-stuck in a dream which seemed to be shared. They were lost for there was no thought anymore and words became silent and devoid of meaning or sound. The moment seemed frozen

He smiled from afar and the smile hit her like lightening–suddenly! She smiled back and he, for some reason, seemed puzzled. And they both looked at each other—as if inquiring about the other in silence and from no one, exploring the naked souls which were clearly visible, as if quizzing the other, as if feeling the momentary suspended bodies of the other.

She felt a rush, a passion, a tug and in the dream she felt her heart beat–all at the same time.

It seemed like they were both involved in a question less, motionless and disembodied physical touch of the other–an out of body intercourse! Or perhaps it was something else. Something which was much more alive, much more real, more vigorous. It kept on going for a time unknown.

Suddenly the crowd grew and there was a lot of push and pull. Someone pushed her and she was startled, the spell was broken. She had to balance herself at the edge of the road and she had broken eye contact with her Stranger. When she looked back up, he was gone.

Now her longing eyes searched for him. That is when she was suddenly hit was a morbid, dismal realization that he was a Stranger–the crowd was full of them. And among them all–they were two solitudes who had perhaps met–from a distance.

The feelings– were now thawed. The heart went back to being frozen–unheard of. A cold sigh escaped out of her mouth–a warm breath into the cold, placid and haunted frenzy. Everyone seemed to be engulfed in a sea of emptiness and they all suffocated without knowing. It was an asphyxia. Everyone stared at the road–she was still searching and she could see the outline of the horizon and a man walking away from the sun. Wearing a white shirt and white pants.

And she suddenly woke up.