Twilight Dawn

Twilight DawnOppression filled the foggy twilit dawn, the recherché feminism of the morning light danced an undulating number with the mood of the solitary cyclist as he wound his way up the serpentine path to the crest of the craggy peak, bathed in the soft glow of the fiercely burning star billions of miles away, still under the horizon. The tires of the mountain bike crunched the partly-dewed leaves, much as innocence caught under sin’s cruel tires, all its spirit squeezed out.

The cyclist himself was an old hand at judging the curves – both of the road and of the weather – and immediately realized that the hiding sun was an aftermath to something oppressive that was in the offing. That’s when he felt the oppression. The Shah of Persia had once prophesized that an oppressive feeling was an indication of impending misfortune, but the cyclist had neither heard of nor had cared for the kingdom of Persia. So when he hit the pick-up truck that was barreling down the slope head-on, he attributed the accident to plain bad luck.

The cyclist’s name was Michener, and he was a hopeful for that year’s French circuit, when his career and his life had been cut short by an obese, drunk, hardly conscious idiot thought he could do a seventy on the slope, on the way down. The first thing Michener was aware of was an intense pain in his head – in fact, the pain seemed to originate from his head and spread its claws all over his numb body. Numb, that when he recognized the perpetual numbness. He couldn’t move an inch, let alone open his eyelids. There was a consistent hum in his ears that blocked out all other noise, but even the loudness of the hum didn’t feel in the least painful. It was, on the contrary, a soothing cacophony that seemed to say, “Hush, now. It’ll all be over soon.”

Through the pain, Michener amassed enough strength to force his eyelids open. He was staring at a black expanse of nothingness. The blackness confused his numb brain – he couldn’t tell for sure if his eyes were open or closed. All he was sure of was that, he could “see” the darkness clearly enough to deduce that he was, perhaps, blind. Though this thought didn’t particularly affect him, it shook him up a bit. To live a life without having to see it, to see the beautiful face of his two-year-old daughter, the twilight dawn, and a lot of other million things worth seeing, forced some tears to his eyes. Funnily enough, he couldn’t feel the warm tears flowing down his face, but could taste the bittersweet on his tongue.

This brought new hope to Michener, and at the same time, a new sinking feeling. Hope, that he was still alive, and had the use of his mouth, which probably he could use to call out, and despair by the thought that since he was alive, he had most definitely lost the use of his eyes and ears. Then, all of a sudden, the humming in his ears stopped and was replaced by memories – memories of the time when he had first heard John Denver sing “I’m leaving on a jet plane”, the time when he had first heard his mother put him to sleep with the story of the Three Little Pigs – her voice was particularly vivid – and the time when he had his daughter cal him “Da-Da” for the first time – and he found himself trying to smile, only he couldn’t tell if he was already smiling or not. The numbness was perpetual. The hum returned with a vengeance and filled his soul with a detached horror – a horror he couldn’t feel; a horror he would have given anything to feel.

Michener had heard the expression “Light at the end of the Tunnel” for years, and was not surprised to learn that it was a load of hogwash. There wasn’t any such tunnel, let alone light. His mind freed, his soul released, his life over, Michener found enough strength to close his eyelids – again, he couldn’t tell if they were closed or not, for the blackness lingered. Salacious thoughts entered his mind and he quickly snubbed them away. He forced himself to think of something else – he remembered the time his saloppete had torn on the ski slope and he had been the laughing stock of the entire lodge back in the valley, and he tried to smile.

His soul felt a lot lighter when he could sense it! He felt the smile spread slowly across the face! He could feel the gentle stretching of the skin across his cheek. And then, he saw her.

And when he did, he knew he was really dead. There she was, the only woman he had ever loved – his wife, who had been cruelly wrenched away from him and his daughter a year ago, also, ironically, by an accident. He had always blamed himself for her death; he should have never let her cross the street alone. But when he saw her standing there in all her beauty and radiance, he could see that delicate nose, those deep brown eyes he had missed all these days, and the lithe figure he had fallen in love with. His soul felt a thousand times lighter and he felt himself standing up – it took hardly any effort – and he walked up to her.

“What about Amy?” were the first words out of her mouth.

“Oh, she’ll be fine,” said Michener. “I’ve finally seen it.”

“Seen what?” she asked.

He held her tight and kissed her on the lips long and hard, then hugged her. He could still smell the intoxicating perfume that lingered in her golden hair. He would never let her go again. Amy would be taken care of by his mother, who would be heart-broken at first, but she had always been a woman of astounding mental strength. It never is bliss to attend a funeral, but for a parent to arrange the funeral of her son was punishment enough for her unnamed sins of her past years. Her chastity and her unquestionable purity of this life was a mockery to that effect.

“I’ve seen the light at the end of the tunnel, darling. It’s you,” he said and they both held each other.

Image Courtesy: TrekEarth.com

Things To Do Before I Die

No, this isn’t just any other bucket list. This one’s unique.

There are quite a few bucket lists floating around in the blogosphere (By the way, is the word ‘blogosphere’ extinct?). I’ve seen and read them all, and most of them follow a predictable formula – go traveling somewhere, see some sights, taste some foods, etc. That’s all fine and dandy, and I wish them all the best in their endeavors. I have a few of those things to do as well, but I don’t think they would qualify for my bucket list. For example, I’d love to see a sunset over the Grand Canyon someday and I would give a hand and a foot to see the insides of a Pyramid. But these are things that I can and will do over the next few years. What I would ideally put in my bucket list are unconventional things that one would not normally find in conventional bucket lists.

Here’s my list.

  1. I want to see the DNA molecule. Not the vague, hazy white mass that appears at the bottom of a test tube after centrifugation, no. I want to see the molecule in all its double helical glory. I don’t think anyone has. Ever.
  2. I want someone to come up with a concrete explanation for the nature of light. I think Newton was confused enough to propose two theories that fit his math better. If light is a wave, then one equation works and if light is made up of particles, then the other equation fails. I don’t think I’m alone when I say that both these schools of thought were born out of necessity than reality. I want to see a solid unifying explanation before I die.
  3. I want to travel around the world in 80 days without flying. If Jules Verne can do it (or his character, at least), then so should I. Yeah, I know, this isn’t exactly a wow-event, but it’d be cooler than seeing the Eiffel Tower. And without flights, it’d be double the fun!
  4. I want to be able to sit on my porch with my dog on a Monday morning, put my feet up, open a can of cold beer, and shoot trespassers with birdshot. Redneck for a day. Nice concept!
  5. So far, in all my 27 years, there has only one book that has made me go, “Oh wow!” at the end – Italo Calvino’s “If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler”. I want to read three more such books before I die.
  6. There are seven people I know whose lives I want to ruin. I think I should be able to do that without too much trouble. Don’t worry, I’m not a scheming psychopath. I just think that these seven people deserve a lot worse for all the lives they have ruined.

One fine day, I’m going to buy a house in Gokarna and settle down there. What would make life more interesting at that point of time is owning a nice big tavern on the ground floor.

One day at a time.

PS: I used the full screen distraction free feature of worpress to write this. A neat idea, Jane. Thanks!

Sliver

“No one cares when a clown cries…”

–Joan O’Brien
(1972, The Day The clown Cried)

The clown stood in front of the mirror, leaning one hand against the wall. It was late in the night and the tiny incandescent bulb above the mirror did its best to drive out the lengthening shadows. He looked at his reflection, his alter ego, his image that wasn’t true, and sighed. This is not me, he told himself. I am not someone who gives up. I’ve been making people laugh ever since I can remember and now, in a matter of one week, I’ve seemed to slip.

He shook his head and broke his train of thought. The make-up on his face was fading after a hard day’s work and he could feel the tiredness in his legs creeping upward. He knew that come tomorrow, he would forget all his insecurities and go about his routine as if nothing were wrong. He knew, therefore, that this was the only time he could devote to some soul-searching. The tiredness could wait.

“You’re desperate,” someone had told him. “You are clutching at straws and hoping that people would laugh at your inane attempt at humor. You have lost your touch.”

He cringed when those words played back in his head. He looked back at all those times when he felt genuinely satisfied about the quality of his work; he knew that he could manage to keep his audience enthralled come what may, and he had done it, time and again, over the past five years. And now…

And now, in a matter of a week, he had had three lousy performances and one no-show and he was shocked when he realized it a bit too late. Reviews started pouring in, and bouquets were replaced with brickbats. One member of the audience had walked out in the middle of the show, something that had never ever happened before. He had to pull up his socks or give up trying to make people laugh.

“I’m not someone who gives up,” he told his reflection in the mirror. “Tomorrow will be a better day.”

He splashed cold water over his face and closed his eyes, allowing the slight breeze to wash over him. His skin felt the heat of the day evaporating and his mind relaxed a bit. As he switched off the light and plunged the room into darkness, a tiny sliver of light from a street lamp forced its way through the half-open window, kissed the small imperfection on the mirror, and shone with an unexpected brilliance, reflecting a thousand times within the crack, causing a mosaic of light and glass.

The clown did not notice the mirror cracked with shards of light as he pulled the sheets over himself and fell into a dreamless sleep.