October 30, 2010


Somewhere in my neighbourhood, a house owns a grandfather chiming clock. I imagine it must also have a pendulum, because in the quietness of fourteen hundred hours every day, I can bet I hear a swish-swish in the air, like metal ripping gently through the wind, the pendulum swinging back and forth, marking time, time that only you and I can define. Every hour, the grandfather clock chimes, a majestic ding-dong-dong-dong, in a high baritone, making me jump.

It makes me slip off the time track, that ancient sound, as if resonating from a magnificent palace, perhaps a very large bungalow even, its hallways large and forty-feet high, light flooding through its laced windows, bouncing off its porcelain floors. A palace bungalow where the royalty has disappeared from, where only birds and winds and sunlight find time to dance, where dust gather like moss, where human beings do not remain to age anymore.

When the clock chimes, everything freezes for a split second. Everything goes back to its source. I feel the blankness envelop my head for those few moments and in those moments, nothing exists - even I don't. More so at twilight - when the world comes to a standstill, regardless of ancient grandfather chiming pendulum clocks.

The clock belongs to twilight. I wonder what came first - the sound that makes you silent in quiet remembrance of the place you come from, or twilight itself, freezing the world for a few seconds, turning it into the reality we evade all day.

October 24, 2010

The Problem With Mortality

Artificial smiles. And fake concern. She knew how to make people's lives miserable. She would say one thing to a person, a different thing to another. She loved creating misunderstandings. She was one of those girls that ragged her juniors because her seniors had ragged her. She was one of those people who would stamp her bad temper on to somebody that did not deserve it.

Then one day, through her permanent frown, she glanced at her organiser. She was fifty, her face was starting to hold wrinkles and her skin was sagging already. Her lips seemed to be distorted with what looked like a permanent grimace.

And the average human life span bordered somewhere close to sixty.

Assuming she had only ten more years to continue frowning and glowering at people, she hardly had any time left.

And then it hit her.

If mortality is your default setting, you cannot afford the nonsense you think you are eligible to indulge in.

October 14, 2010

The Train

You are in a local train, which is speeding past the trees and sewers and huts and bare behinds of people early morning, taking a crap. Behinds are safer to bare than faces, aren't they? I always thought of it that way.

You are a piece of the mangled mass of humanity, bruised blue by everyday contact that you do not desire, from strange faces and bodies that travel with you to unknown destinations. Every face your eyes fall upon has the rawness of happiness laced with pain writ large on their faces, every face has a father, a mother, a sibling, a lover, a husband, a wife, a neighbour, a teacher, a boss and occasions to celebrate every few days. Every face has the reflected glory of the past, bottled up concern for the future.

In this mass of humanity fused in together in one bogey, how is your face? Empty? Curious? Does your face show wonder at the train that ties you all like a common thread that holds flowers together on a garland? Flowers from different cities, with different fragrances and colours, but flowers nevertheless? Are there faces you see everyday, that you forget once you step out, never think of again? Do you know them, the lines and wrinkles on their faces, the gentle limp in their gait perhaps, the slightly broken symmetry of their person?

Do you think that if you ran into them in a different city or country several years from now, they would know you and recall and smile, perhaps, laugh maybe? maybe even come and talk to you? Are they strangers, really? In an alien city with no known faces, wouldn't they know you more than anybody else in the city? And the only thing that connects you with them is a train, and silence spent inside it for hours, glancing occasionally, intentionally or otherwise?

Perhaps, next time, you will do more than glance, then? Perhaps this time, you will smile, offer a seat or even ask them their name. And you will then have another point of family in a world where its so easy to get hopelessly lost. Perhaps.