Old-School

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I wish we lived in an age of letters and radios and playing in the parks in the evening. An age of passing smiles to strangers and reading poetry out loud to share your favourite lines. Having to go out to buy flowers and fresh beans for tonight’s dinner.

But in the pre-computer age, how do you tell someone you miss them when they are miles away on their birthday? Shall I write you an e-mail at midnight, and pretend to have loved you in letters? Let technology save us sometimes when I want to show you the colours of dusk in my sky

 

#MarchMosaics

You

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When you walk out of a forest, you turn into a tree. No longer human and made of skin. Your arms are barks, your legs are stems and you must let birds sit and chirp on them all day long. Before you notice, like wrinkles, your leaves will age. Like rings, years will settle in the iris of your hazel eyes.

And when you reach the city you can try to hide, camouflage yourself between the skyscrapers that rush past your neck, fit yourself between two grey towers, a little space on the pavement, on a hillock in a community park. But you will still swing with the wind, shed leaves in autumn and dress roads with your blood oranges. Your branches will spread, and the world will know where you’ve been.

There is no hiding it. You are a tree now.

And you must grow towards the sunlight until you catch fire and burn.

 

#MarchMosaics

The Ship That Landed On My Shore

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Alisha wrote her favourite sentences from notes sent to her by writers on sticky notes, and pasted them onto her desk.

She treasures her job. Living in the heart of New York city, being a fiction editor felt like discovering intricately beautiful sea shells from an infinite heap of sand. It reminded her, inevitably, of her childhood.

Today, like everyday, she picks up a note that stands distinct from all other letters of appreciation on her desk. This note, in particular, has unfailingly troubled her, each day of her life. It has often been the sole cause of her distress, a peculiar distraction – she looks up from her current manuscript and sits pondering.

She reads what one writer had once written to her, in response to a message she sent, hastily typed, asking the writer, she remembers clearly, to “talk about love”.

“Some sentences are still too difficult to type. Not because the words don’t flow, match or sound good, but because to give them this space would also require me to accept their weight, their truth, and my absolute inability to change them, and for that reason, I choose not to ‘talk about love’ , as you put it. One day I will have to.

Because I know, that to stir the reader, I must pour out my heart in writing, even if that means that I must break like crystal first.” 

The day Alisha received that note, something very significant about her changed.

She was beginning to understand the emotion and power with which each unedited manuscript sits at her desk. And how in that raw way, each of those works, are perfect. They cannot be mingled with, because they are more than stories, they are more than just the truth.

Something about it made her realise, that her job is not to sift for shells – she is sitting at the shore of a tempestuous sea, and she must save each wrecked ship that makes it to the harbour.

Weave Me A Fairytale

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The beautiful white cups painted with pink daisies and dotted with pastel green designs, shined like the white of egg on the shelf under the old television box. When Aunty Bebe bought them from Canada, which she distinctly pronounced as Cunayda, with the roll of a tongue, Mother had treated them like ores of gold, and had placed them on the rack, where they ornamentally rested – “not to be touched or played with,” she instructed.

The Chinese porcelain made cups, a set of three, were Mother’s most prized possession. Even on her worst days, when she was down with high fever and unable to move or shake, reappearing signs of her growing old age, on days she would choose not to cook or do the laundry, she would pull herself out of bed and dust the cups with utmost care and patience. Those cups were her second, and at times Paroza feared her first, child.

She would pester and bedevil her mother as to why she loved the cups so much; why she was not allowed to touch them while she could hastily stir, pick and drop the rest of the cutlery when asked by Mother to cook the usual evening tea. Even the most faithful promise of decent and careful treatment wouldn’t win her the rights to deal with the cups.

Paroza wanted to touch and handle them more than anything in the world; when denied the privilege to do so, her curiosity would get revived like a fresh peel of potato and she would weep and howl.  Just like the urge to do something multiplies when one is repudiated from doing it. Yet for Paroza it was more to satisfy her listless childlike desire than it was for defiance.

One day Mother calmly seated her on her lap, this was before she had Alzheimer’s of course, and whispered in her sweetest, honeycombed voice, “Do you know why I do not let you touch those, Roza?” She pointed a soft finger at the kingly cups.

Paroza shook her head. “You do know they aren’t just cups right?” Mother had theatrical excellence when it came to adding that beautiful arousing tone to a twist.

Paroza gasped in her lap. Her tummy tightened, her eyes locked in Mother’s, awaiting impatiently for the golden secret to be told.

“Oh!” She threw her hands in the air dramatically. “They are disguised lamps of course!”

“A lamp?” Bemused Paroza asked.

“Yes. A lamp. A Genie Lamp. Each lamp has a genie, and you must be oh-so-careful in dealing with such mysterious magical apprentices!” Her eyes widened. “If you drop them by chance, the genie might escape!”

“But aren’t Genies good mother? Do they not fulfil wishes?”

“Oh you are so innocent my love! Not these ones…genies that come from disguised lamps like these claim a life for every wish they fulfil. For every wish asked, another person gets locked inside the lamp – forever.” The last few words ringed in Paroza’s mind for days. Although she now maintained distance with the cups, she did not lose her fantasy about them, they never lost their beauty in her brain. 

Ages later when Mother was in her worst days, she accidently dropped the beauties on the floor. She looked at the painted cups with a blank face. Her love for the cups had now become a faint shadowy memory in her brain, like the blurry image of a defocused picture, just like everything else was nowadays. Roza gasped.

She stared at the tumbling lamp, now rolling on the floor towards the rug where she sat. She sat there, tears in her eyes, a stump in her heart, waiting for the Genie to appear. In her mind she had already made her wish. “Heal her,” she hushed beneath her breath, looking at the dauntless figure of her once strong mother. Her tears rained down her cheeks, she had not forgotten the price of making a wish.    

 

Phantasm, Cannabis and A Flying Machine

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Pink coloured milk in white rimmed mug painted with pictures of cows. Headphones in head, he swayed to music he loved. Eyes read strenuously in a dark room under the lamp, rummaging into the black and white letters of a thick uncensored magazine. He had brought a Cannabis cutting a week back, in the name of Feng Shui.

The sun outside dare not enter the little heartthrob’s dorm. The room was as cool as the ground under palm shade, just like his mind. He had his own little necropolis inside there, painted green and hazy.

His heart pounded to the beat of music, while his mind muffled around the stories in the magazine. The paradoxical, conflicting character of the tasks that occupied him indicated he was whiling his time. Wait lingered at the back of his brain like shadow. He wondered when they would arrive. With dashing helmets on a teleporting bike that blows fire. Today was the day of the escape. He watched the clock with beaming eyes. His eyes baggy with dark circles followed the hands of the clock, and he pondered why they were late.

And then the gruntt of the motor cycle met his ear.

The blow of the engine. The heat sealed within the joy of fleeing away met him.

The milk was spilled on ironed denim.  The page of the novel wasn’t bookmarked. Marijuana spoke to him through fresh chords it had made with his soul, and hallucination arrived on a flying machine.