A Blazing Echo

Waking from the deep throes of his imagination, he looked up from the page. A slight buzz emanated from his brain, the residual whirring of a machine after it has been switched off. The pen dangled nervously between his fingers, a drop of ink slowly finding its way down and staining his starched, white kurta. He had heard it, that deep rumble of senseless souls.

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The day had come. He had known it would happen eventually, but he could not stop his heart from bursting into anxious colours. He was human, after all.

He turned around from his desk and looked longingly at his shelves and yellowed walls. It was a small abode, quaint in its minimalism. It had its own story, a deep meaning to his life. Here is where he had picked up his pen for the first time, rhyming words and stringing fiery pieces. They were bound to agitate, he intended them to.

He could still hear it, getting louder, angrier.

Books and newspapers were strewn around the floor for want of space. He smiled, a wistful feeling flooding him. That home was a treasure chest to him, and what it held was beyond anything money or power could ever achieve.

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Closer. He could hear a hollow sound now and then, the hiss of bullets.

It is strange how certain things dawn upon one in a single moment. He remembered that day, not the exact words of that blasphemous proclamation, but his own blood ringing in his ears, thumping loud and clear. That day, that moment, he had decided. His pen shall finally bleed, through the withered pages and the innards of these enslavers.

For ages, he had burned in the shadows, a meek figure questioning his own sanity, writing away,

letter after letter,

word after word,

verse after verse.

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That had meant nothing to him then, all those years of struggle. That moment defined a purpose for him, and then, what flowed through the flawed tip was pure gold.

The Underground started resonating almost instantly. The power of words was unimaginable. Youths rallied to the cause, fighters started quoting the fierce realism, and circulation never stopped. A daily was released, openly seditious in nature.

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But, all they could see was the tip of the iceberg. There was a fire brewing. They could sense the slow, dangerous warmth. Headquarters were reduced to ashes, people were shot, blatantly and unapologetically.

These lives, with fire in their hearts and murder on their minds, weren’t afraid to die anymore, no, they were willing to.

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And he went on, free and emboldened.

Soon, the Underground sea was huge, threatening to force this unrest out as a tsunami.

That’s when they caught on. And they were here. To get him.

He knew what his words had done, and he was proud of it; peaceful for the first time in his life. He knew what this meant. He had stabbed into the heart of it, splattered blood. He had shaken them from the inside. All with the ink that slithered into vicious grooves and burnt their supremacist egos.

The doors burst open with a loud thud. They were screaming, but he never heard them, because he had submitted to himself. He allowed himself to be cuffed and was dragged along. Once outside, he nodded ever so slightly in the general direction of the sky.

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He coughed and brought his hands closer to his mouth. The pill killed him almost instantly. He fell in a calm motion and was kicked and beaten blue in his final moments, as if they wanted to deprive him of his final comfort. They couldn’t.

This might be a delusion, but the slight hint of a satisfied smile never left his face.

Hours later, when his house had been searched and documents and writings had been towed away, a boy climbed down from the terrace opposite his home. He had seen it. He quietly slipped into the empty home with a small hammer.

Dust particles sparkled and twinkled in the orange sunlight. The home echoed of ache and loneliness.

A section of the wall was softer than the others, but they hadn’t noticed that. He hit the section a couple of times and it gave away. Inside was his treasure. A thick pile of sheets was wrapped in a red cloth, preventing it from decay. He picked it up. On his way out, he saw a solitary sheet of paper flying about.

On it, in an ornate calligraphic hand, were the words – Inquilab Zindabad.

Some legacies never die.

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This is a work of fiction, but it is meant to acknowledge every fighter who decided to let his veins fill with ink and embraced the darkness.

While popular culture connotes the final phrase to radicals like Bhagat Singh, the real face behind it gets lost between the lines. History books barely mention him, even when he was the inspiration for an entire school of ideology.

Maulana Hasrat Mohani (real name: Syed Fazl-ul-Hasan) was a freedom fighter and a poet, although that is not mutually exclusive. A lot of his work centres around romance, but he was the first person to claim complete independence instead of Dominion Status.

It is time to remember the forgotten pages and burnt souls.

Inquilab Zindabad – Long Live the Revolution.

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(I do not own the pictures used in this post.)

Romantic Tragedies

This is a tribute to my love for second-hand books and quaint streets, which can be attributed to this beautiful stretch in Calcutta called College Street. One just cannot get enough of that magical fantasy. Do read on to experience the sweet memories yourself.

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No ancient perfume, no dusty bloom,
Only dandy lights and a sprayed room,
No dreams, hopes and lives,
Only paper people with their paper smiles,
No wild calls and raucous bargains,
Only glossy covers and printed grains.
Oh, the worldliness of things!
Where stories recede and money begins.

(There’s a place you might want to go)

Words find their time here in this rainbow street,
Where one smells love like the lost cause it is,
A sea of legacies, old and new,
A gift, a tale, a letter anew,
Where the message of threaded art
Finds a lost soul to part,
Where bitter almonds and vanilla crystals,
Etched in a forgotten tree,
Burst forth into tiny dewdrops,
Sizzling, sparkling, free.

O dear things of a tell-tale smile,
These pages hold not letters and strokes,
Neither do they carry the whiff of your hoax,
They carry a thousand pictures,
And a million shattered pieces,
Pieces of pathos, pieces that scar,
Pieces that burn with your eternally beating heart,
Charring and fusing,
Till no death can do them part.

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A Lonely Whisper

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Listen to my lullaby,
Far away into the night,
Floating in the sweet chill,
Caught by the frost of time.
Wandering its way through dark lanes,
Turning souls in its wake,
A gypsy of ink and blood,
Burning with a marvelous ache.

It spills and rushes
Into crevices and craters
Filling smoky bubbles with vicious ink,
Pulsating auburn at the brink,
Diffusing lazily into the air
A whiff of my pain,
Searching the skies,
For a parched, thirsty rain.

I wrote this for you,
For loved memories and sour lies,
For lost times and heavy sighs,
I wrote this for me,
For sliced veins and edged feet,
For lonely times and melting heat.

This sparkling pool of salty tears,
Turns into strings and words,
Madness the key to this closed door,
Behind which lies the store,
Of purple scars and blue bruises,
Picked deep by scalding knives,
Torn apart by sharp tongues,
Made
Of a withered lullaby.

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Evanescence

Today, I swallowed the tear of time. It swirled inside, mingling with the atoms, reacting, transforming. It took me to a lost place, not entirely lost, but faded. I could see the soft, yellow lamps. I could hear the chirp of birds, incessant, sharp and warm.

I travel through time again.

A usual monotony for some, but a kaleidoscope of sorts for me. The slow rattle of the engine turns into a noisy affair, as the train rolls through grasslands, farms and forests. The images flash past at a nerve-wracking speed. I can feel the wind kissing my face, seeping into the pores of my body, washing away the elusive faculties of conscience.

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I love the way the terrain changes its face as the train storms past. Fields of yellow flowers adorn the land at one point, barren rocks at another. One realizes that diversity is not just in people or cultures, but is ground and sprinkled into the very element of nature, waiting to be unraveled by a wandering soul.

I notice a few kids push a ragged rubber tyre with a stick, fluttering little white flags in the air, an unadulterated joy shining on their faces. It makes me wonder if we are moving too fast, or if we are moving in the wrong direction. Maybe we are just forgetting the simple joys the present offers.

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One night, just one night, sleep under a luscious blanket of stars and you will know what it feels like to peep beyond the realm of imagination, to feel infinity. The mirage of progress seems to mask our dreams, but the freedom of the heart always finds and fills its corners with a sweet, syrupy muse.

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People are incessantly talking. Chatter, meaningless, trivial. Silence has lost all meaning in a world that cannot stop and listen. It is saddening that quiet has been a regarded as a sign of weakness and shyness by so many. One does not seem to realize that blatant speech entails the scope of being utterly frivolous, whereas silence has the power to shape the words, the idea, a potent amalgam of the mind and heart, achieved through solitude and meditation.

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The sun sets in a flurry of red and orange, slowly receding into oblivion, as a curtain of black falls over the bubble of speed. The air is ornamented with a sweet chill now, spiraling down the spine as it touches me tenderly. Outside, it’s dark. Pitch dark. Occasionally, a scarlet fire breaks the monotony with its tongues lapping up the blank, feeding on the cold of travelers and farmers. I am intoxicated by the beauty of this inky sea, drowning and surfacing again, slow and lazy.

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The whispers of fantasy give way to a blurry reality as I realize it is time to get down and go home. I walk out with my belongings.

The soft, yellow lamps flicker with a hiss. The auto drivers scream their lungs out with their calls.

But, no birds chirp on the lines today.

No sweet song, no rueful desire.

Only the silence in the chaos.

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(I do not own the pictures used in this post.)

A Shackled Sunrise

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I feel weak today. Strangled. The other days pass; this one is stuck, like a rotting corpse under a bombed shack.

I have thought about it, a lot. That is all I seem to be doing nowadays. It feels like I have been pulled into a time warp. No sense of passage, no sense of space. I must have been staring at this wall for three, four hours maybe now, and it has changed, growing on me, around the edges of my blurry vision. It shall consume me.

This wall is a strange thing, almost like a person, pale and flaking, scars of lost souls etched onto its wrinkled face. I wish I could splash my tumult on this withered being, scratching away at it till my skin gave away and my fingers bled crimson, feeding on its cries, cleansing myself. I really wish I could.

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But I have no stories to tell. Not out loud, at least. It is all in my head, churning and turning, a shifting mass of grey, a tangled mess I made for myself. Contrary to what anyone might say, this is comforting, this sense of finality. It is a warm haven in the constant noise of expectations and dreams.

At this moment, I am not weighed down by anything, no burdens, nothing to fulfill except that one pure goal. It is calm, but it hurts. The kind of pain that cannot be cured by makeshift remedies and solemn promises.

If only I could tell someone. If only I could unravel my mind and pour forth into another being, willing to soak all the darkness in, pulling the curtains away if there is any light left in this unforgiving world. I could have saved myself, perhaps.

No.

What has talking ever done except add a few more inconsequential syllables to latent conversations, feeding fake fires of concern? Everyone has their time and everyone has to deal with it.

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I can’t, not anymore.

I am tired.

Tired of putting up that façade every time I walk out.

Tired of laughing as if the sunshine graced me.

Tired of getting out of bed every single day.

Tired of pretending.

I am tired.

I wonder, would the world be a simpler place if we had no desires?

But what a world would that be, then.

Happier? Perhaps.

Worth living? Probably not.

Is it worth living right now, though?

I know my answer.

I hope this settles the dust.

I hope my mess becomes one with this dust.

(I do not mean to advocate or glorify suicide or self-harm through this piece, in any manner. If you feel sad or isolated, reach out to someone you trust, someone you can talk to. There are online forums which maintain anonymity too.

One can check out https://www.7cups.com/.

Seek professional help, there is no shame in it.)

Infinite

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I love my silence.

Those rare moments in which your mind floats around, questioning the triviality of existence and the extent of the universe.

Those precious moments in which clarity hits you, drizzling like the first rain, eventually flooding your insides with cold.

Those beautiful moments in which you notice the little things, the colors, the emotions and the hope, your eyes shine with a golden spark, and you embrace the world around you.

I love my silence because it lets me wander, free and fresh, closer to the sun, sea and beyond.

Silence lets me unravel the tangled ropes, wrap my head around the mystery that is life.

They watch me, lost in my own reality, and they mock me, my bizarre nature.

But I pity them.

They just see things, I feel them.

They freeze frames on a chip, I keep them in my heart.

They touch the sea, the sand, I carry it within me.

My smile hides a hundred different lives and my head contains multitudes. I evolve with time – learning, understanding, and living.

They miss so much that nature offers, fixated on the surface, never diving deeper into the azure ocean, never drifting lazily, never exploring the riddles.

Sometimes, it is good to let go, to let yourself be overwhelmed.

Listen to the sounds of the violin, the strings rubbing away, melody after melody,

Read a withered book, cure that malady,

Wander sans glamour, all stark and rustic,

Feed your silence, forget the world for that moment mystic.

A Soliloquy of Colours

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It is blue here, deep, edging on black. I look at my hands, thin and wrinkled, shaking. The water trickles slowly through the tap, forming ripples in the stagnant water. The sound haunts me. Drop after drop, banging like drums in my head, refusing to stop no matter what. Drenched in the cold, I sit and stare.

I can hear the hiss of the cameras flashing outside, the self-appointed judges of moral code crying out red chants of blasphemy. I walk out of the bathroom. The curtains have been closed, leaving the room sprinkled with the vestiges of a soft sun. I peep through the broken glass. Chaos guides this crowd, who claim to be united, but would be at each other’s throats as soon as a little thorn threatens their inflated egos.

A stone crashes into the house, shattering the glass into tiny edged crystals. Third one today. I had always thought that the glass was strong. I now realize good times are not the perfect judges of adversity. I walk back and slump down on the sofa. It is strange how people can twist the truth to mould and soothe their own trivial realities, how seamlessly their minds can wrap around their mistakes, transforming it into a self-glorifying truth.

My eyes catch sight of a photograph, old and ruffled in the frame, a frozen tear of time. I pull it out. It is fragile, torn at the edges, and it smells of memories. Lost, faded memories. A boy looks happy, all smiles and joy, ignorant of the vicious whirlpools life is going to plunge him into.

They say life is but a journey, and every sunrise is preceded by a dreary night. But what if it’s not a day, but a season, a cold, grey winter? Reckless, unending. The leaves fall and the spring doesn’t greet. Isn’t that a fair possibility? The edges are not smooth and rounded. They are sharp, jagged, waiting for someone to falter and bleed. I have been cut, deep and purple, and I do not want to wait for the light.

I walk towards the terrace. The sky is slightly clouded. I walk over to the ledge and prop myself on the thin, rough surface. I stumble, balance again. A cool breeze strokes my face. I feel myself giving away.

Police personnel enter the house sometime later.

It’s Blue.

And Black.

And Red.

I just wanted my freedom.