Someone I Met While Walking

 

 

Someone I Met While Walking
(Chalte chalte, yuhin koi mil gaya tha) – Kaifi Azmi
“Walking along aimlessly, I
Met a stranger, while on my journey
Walking along aimlessly
And my night stopped, where I met him
My night stopped in a heart beat, where I
Met a stranger, while on my journey

The things I could not say were
Shouted at us, by all of society
Shouted at us, by who could see
My story had become a fable
My story had become a fantasy
Just walking along aimlessly

But the eve draws to a close
It will end, I know it will
The length of time it spans
Is slowly becoming still
-These lamps are burning, are extinguished
Those lamps are burning, are extinguished
All the lights are going out, do you see?
They are burning in step with me
Walking along aimlessly

I met a stranger, while on my journey
Walking along aimlessly
Walking along aimlessly”

 

 

Day 30! Last day of NaPoWriMo, and I thought to close it this year with a Bollywood themed bang. The prompt today was to translate a poem to English. I picked a poem by the Indian Urdu poet, lyricist, and philosopher Kaifi Azmi. This particular poem is a song in a well known Bollywood movie as well (from 1972, but hey, classics are classics).

So the story is this- A young girl sold into prostitution meets a stranger on a train. The stranger does not know that she is a prostitute, and the encounter changes her life forever.

If you like the song, check out a dubbed or subtitled version of the movie as well. It’s full of subtle and nuanced performances. After all, you never know, you could meet a stranger who changes your life forever too. :p

 

 

NA! PO! WRI! MO! – OUT!ūüėÄ

 

 

 

 

Invisible

Invisible

 

What about the paths that tears take?
What about the furrows blood makes?
What about the roads lazy fingers take down spines
What of the goosebumps that soft whispers raised?

And the spaces between fingers, that were filled?
Glances that caressed, lips that swilled?
Quakes of pure adrenaline, and aftershocks
That undiminished, each encounter instilled?

No, you can still feel invisible stains
Some things seep deeper than cloth and flesh
And marks fade, but impressions remain
That with a perfunctory glance, refreshed
Some lessons are learnt with naught gained
Some pills you swallow to no relief
Sometimes you smile, and laugh, and work,
And you grieve, and you grieve, and you grieve

Some hurt, some bruises go all the way in
Not all scars show on skin

 

 

©CM
29.04.2016

 

 

Almost at the end of NaPoWriMo, one day to go.

Chin up, and Cheerio chin chin!

 

His Kitchen Window

 

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His Kitchen Window

 

 

 

His kitchen window always held the strangest appeal
Probably a bit because it was the only place
In his house where we could smoke
And not worry about
his aunt smelling us, it went right out
The view of the alley and the squashed vegetables
Where that crazy girl would screech back at that
Other girl with Down’s
It was the oddest, loudest, quiet place I’ve been
The boys would be in the bedroom, debating
Pros and cons of gaming strategy
Often, we’d skip class and head straight there, just to be free
Of any authority for a little while
And that kitchen window made a good perch
We’d look into the trash can and know exactly
How many beers he was running on, or
If he was running low
There was beer practically in arm’s reach anyway, you
Could see the shop from the window
It was a bubble of stasis, we’d come by even
If he’d gone out
Make ramen in the kitchen, make out
Fall in love over and over again
Discuss Liverpool’s abysmal performance,
Have existential crises
And then he moved away, our idiotic best friend
I swung by the place today, it
Was already leased
It’s funny though, how sunlight and
Smoke and love in a kitchen window
Can leave you with such
Oddly specific memories…

©CM
27.04.2016

Day 27 of Napowrimo. Just.. Missing a friend and better times today.

Cheers, you guys. :) 

Prophet

Prophet

 

Back when I was a kid, I used to haunt my neighbor’s bookstore. That’s probably the best kind of neighbor a kid could ask for, growing up. His house was a treasure trove- comics, novels, magazines, some stuff that wasnt entirely age appropriate, some completely inappropriate.. and a fellow partner in crime, a girl a few years older than me. It wasn’t enough that the both of us spent every moment not in school or doing homework, together. We’d prowl around in her dad’s store/library, reading books carefully without bending their spines, putting them back, and moving on. We were fixtures there. That’s where I met Prophet.

Prophet was a big guy. In my recollections he seems even bigger than his sizeable 6′ 6″- when you’re a kid, everyone does seem a lot bigger. But the scraggly beard and trademark flannels that would be intimidating on someone else, just served to soften him even more. His real name was Sam, but hardly anyone called him that. The name ‘Prophet’, I found out later, was a college tag that had followed him for his whole life because of his invincibility. He had been in not one, but four near fatal accidents. Two on the road, and two at the construction site where he moonlighted. Not that he was particularly clumsy, he wasn’t at all, really. Just had really bad luck. The last accident, which had totalled his car and one that hit him, killed the other guy on the spot. Prophet had crawled out and dragged himself across the wreckage, which is where the EMT found him when they came. He lived, but the last one had taken his back. He would walk with a peculiar shuffling gait for the rest of his life. When he got to know us better and realized that we weren’t a pair of squealing, squeamish teen girls, he showed us the scars around his calves, too. His calves were nothing but scars.

That, and his odd knack for telling people the right thing to do, had earned him the nickname ‘Prophet’. He was a big teddy bear of a guy, all seriousness and wry jokes around the adults, and an infinite amount of patience for two girls who asked him an endless stream of questions about anything and everything, all the while devouring every book in their reach. Technically, we weren’t the same age. I was eleven, and my best friend was fifteen. That didn’t matter as much as it seems it would, we had exactly the same interests anyway. And Prophet was so familiar a face that her dad would often leave him to manage the register and keep an eye on light fingered customers, if he fancied a chat with someone, or took a break and went off fr lunch. The only times we couldn’t badger him would be when my neighbor’s son stopped by, all grown up at seventeen and having man-to-man conversations about girls and what not- Prophet didn’t care, he treated us all the same anyway, but a couple of kiddie tag alongs aren’t good for a newly cool guy’s image, so my friend’s brother would turf us to the back.

Looking back, I can’t pinpoint what moment was so significant in the impact that he had on us. Or maybe there’s so many of them that I can’t think of one that stands out. What I do know for sure is that he was one of the most important formative influences in my young adult life – some of the lessons of which I’ve carried well into my adult life. Whether it’s his penchant for smoking Reds (which I frowned upon back then), the fact that he drank coffee black as Lillith’s heart (which I would gag on back then, but drink multiple times a day now), or that staple uniform of flannels, which I still associate with safer times, happier times. Or the fact that I learned as much about the real world from him, as I did about the world inside my head from the books around us. About honor, about courage, about morals… never in so many words, often as stories or recollections. About loyalty, about love- the value of both, and the pain of both when broken. His wife left him during a particularly rough patch with his disability, and he never really moved on. While me and my friend used the forbidden words for her when alone -the bitch- he didn’t even need to move on. He loved her, and that was enough for him. Just like he dealt with pain- every. single. day. But it was just pain, and he was master of it. We’d know on days when it was really bad, but the man never complained, never made an issue of it. He was fine, it was fine, everything was fine.

Kindness. Patience. A sense of humor that led him to tolerate out nonsense, and on whimsical days, even contribute to it. Like finding me a solid window frame from God knows where for the rickety shed I built on my roof. Other kids had treehouses. I had a room made by own two hands. I probably wouldn’t anyone’s kid come within four feet of such a dilapidated construction today, but back then it was a fortress. It would be baking hot in the sun, but I’d be up on the roof, away from the shouting that would filter through from the house, and I had a fucking window. Not even the boys had fucking windows.

Things changed eventually, though. He didn’t tire of our questions, or of the fact that his adolescent fan club had whittled down to one. My friend finally discovered guys when he hit sixteen, and boys finally separated us in a way five years never had before. While she fought the make up fight, I was still struggling along with my usual, now working through a pile of my grandfather’s books that had been shipped in from Moscow. And while I pestered Prophet with incredulous questions about Marxism and the World Wars – I always asked him. I doubt my father can even spell ‘Marx’ without asking me which exam I’m asking for – while this fabric of the bookstore bunch frayed, things were changing in his life too. His father passed away, when I was thirteen, and suddenly he was faced with the responsibility of having to care for his mum. I think he was thirty eight at the time, or thirty nine. But he was gone for a month, and then when he came back, he came back only to wind everything up from here and move away permanently. I barely spoke to him for five minutes, while dad watched suspiciously from the window as a guy a good head taller than him stood on the doorstep, handed me a box of his old comics, and told me I’d always been a good girl, and a good friend to him. And that if he was a prophet in any way at all, I’d be in his prayers. None of which made much sense to dad, but it was one the first real partings for me. I was old enough to know, and to understand. We probably wouldn’t see each other again.

This was well before facebook and social media. I never even got his last name, any way. I like to think that he did move on eventually, and had kids of his own to be a great father to, instead of just to a lost kid like me, and some others. One of the first things I ever wrote was in the diary that he gave me, and that my father later read, triggering one of the worst periods of my life- but that’s a story for another day. I wonder if he’s even read my work somewhere, anywhere. Would he know that the girl he gave a window to, shared his poisonous coffee with, has grown old enough to smoke her own Reds now, write articulately enough to miss him on the Internet, and have an obsession with Orthopedics? I do hope he knows. I also hope he knows he taught me how even seemingly indestructible people can be secretly vulnerable. How pain is just another beast to tame. And how a little sincere attention given to a growing, shaping mind, can shape an entire person. Now I’m trying to be that person for a friend’s younger sister, who’s recently begun to write poetry- quite seriously for a fifteen year old, and none of that Insta-crap either. And as I write back to her about how her sonnets work, and how punctuation fits in, I know Prophet would’ve been happy at least with some of the ways I turned out.

To Sam.

Fluctuat nec mergitur

I think I made it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Kill A Man

To Kill A Man

Too many ways to kill a man
Not enough ways to save him
Too much pain brought on by his own hand
How could the prognosis be anything, but grim?
Be accused of prejudice, fat shaming,
When you advise a patient to lose some weight
A society that works for weekend alcohol
Is not easily convinced to moderate
Point to sky high cholesterol on charts
And you’re looked at with sullen or unconvinced eyes
Threats of liver cirrhosis fall flat
Unlike liver enzymes, which soon upwards rise
That jaundice isn’t merely you feeling yellow, my dear
– At this stage, it could be carcinoma in disguise

But red wine’s good for you! the specialists say
And it is, so is beer Рbut a little a day
Your liquid weight in vodka might help your depression
But it’s not going to keep the doctors too far away
And what of a nice steak? Mash taters, rashers, et al?
They protest – it’s just protein, GoogleDoc said it’s okay!
-In small portions, and lean is still better protein
Not, though, if you’re going to chase it with a souffle

And don’t even get me started on these diet fads
Ketotic, acidotic, kidneys almost failing
Still pushing away no-carb or no-fat, insistent
All the while, pulse irregular, or vitals flailing
The problem’s that there is no cure for ignorance
Fragments of info will give you fractured health
Would you take your sick cat to a plumber?
No, right? – then why do we invite this stealth
This truculence, resistance. We know it’s online
And please do read up on your illness, that’s fine
But don’t self medicate a horse for a zebra
You can’t fix erectile dysfunction with Clozapine
You can’t be obese and think that you’re still fit
‘Fit’ means ‘in fitness’ – there are dimensions to it
And yes, we have sleep meds we will not prescribe
Till we know that you’re clean, that you’ve really quit

It’s not a petty thrill – we have a moral code
It’s not that we’ll throw pills at you by the boat load
That’ll fix all your problems- no, we are looking out
For what’s best for you, it’s part of our oath
There’s too many ways to kill a man, and
Not nearly enough to save him
But with a little luck, and a little cooperation
The prognosis doesn’t really have to be grim

 

©CM
17.04.2016

 
Day 17. Maybe I cheated a little on this one, because I write from the medical dictionary pretty often (Broken Heart Syndrome, anyone?). This prompt was still fun to write, though. And made for a terrific break from studying.

And now *grand flourish* coffee time. Hope y’all are having an amazing day!

Cheers,
Cookie

An Ascent Into Madness

 

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Being up before dawn is quite something.

Not sleeping at all, and waiting for a semblance of a new day, quite another.
I’m sitting on the steps that lead into my backyard, lighting a cigarette for the morning, fingers still stained here and there with old blood. My hair’s still wet from the shower, and matches fizzle out, catching stray droplets. Couple of tries and I get it though. Wish I could say the same about falling asleep. Dunno if the insomnia fuels the stress or the stress perpetuates the insomnia. Probably both, and the vicious cycle has my mind turning verbal somersaults.
Not proverbial. There is no wisdom here.
The yard is damp, there’s a promise of rain. The sky’s beginning to show the faintest of gleams shooting into the sky on my right. It’s beautiful enough, I suppose. Not nearly as the tiny ember I hold in my hand. It’s closer to earth. It holds more meaning. I realize that a cigarette can bring you more calm than the promise of a new day. It’s all about perspective.
Or maybe that’s what I lack. My vision’s gotten blurry. It’s an odd sort of focus where the world kind of weaves in and out, the green of the patch of trees blending with the incongruously placed electricity poles. They’re there, and not there. My mind buzzes with a sort of frantic awakening that my lethargic body wishes it could replicate. Even the noxious tin can promising energy sitting next to me cant give me that. Nor can the rancid tasting excuse for yogurt next to it. Tastes like cow spit.
Either way.
Dawn comes rather suddenly. One minute it’s all blue and violet, and the next minute the mysteries of the darkest night are nowhere to be seen. The sky is white. It’s a blank space, a canvas crisscrossed by telephone lines- is this why it’s a new beginning? Could I do what the man said, and paint my will across in clouds? Probably not.
Would be nice to, though.
I can barely see, and yet, I see too much. I know nothing, like that idiot Jon Snow. And I know too much. I don’t want to. I don’t want to feel this vacant buzzing in my ears, of words that form rhymes in couplets and drop off stray into the unknown. I want to gather them, pour them out so that I can refill myself properly, but there’s always some more, always some more. There was an ode to a crack in the floor just now, a series of observations about the movements of ants stealing from the bin, remnants of a three hour long conversation from last night, weighing responsibilities, pressing chores, imminent deadlines. There is no possible space for silence here.
Silence. What a word.
I never did learn the ‘meaning’ of extremes. After days like yesterday, I always realize that I still don’t know how someone with so little value for their own life can revere the keeping of others’. Where did I learn these lessons? My blood on my hands is art. Even the sight of someone else’s blood, is immediately recognized as pain. My pain is fulfilment, to be felt, to be revelled in. Someone else in pain, incites the urge to heal, to help.
Odd sort of double standards, really. Most people take it the other way round, as far as I know.
So young. So full of ideals. So old. So bitter, so inured. And love. The great equalizer, binding the two, bizarrely united halves together. I have very strange dreams to live for.
At least I can see much better now, even with the ashen aftertaste in my mouth. Morning is here properly. There’s one shrub in the far corner quivering away on its own. A collective of jackdaws chockchocking away next door. Maybe I won’t have to go very far to refill my mind. There are stories here, even in this stretch of land I know as well as the map of veins in my hand. And I haven’t even begun to hear them.
But I have begun to see. Morning is here.

Milk and Honey 

  

Milk and Honey 

She baked his heart into a pie 

He lay watching, detachedly 

Bleeding out, impossibly still alive 

As she sliced through the remaining arteries 

Obscenely licking her red stained fingers 

That blissful smile, an angelic fixture 

Twisting her knife as his heart drained

-Such a seemingly innocent gesture 

But as she laughed, she gave the mania away 

The lurking tell tale signs of insanity 

A bit too late for him to back track now 

He was for dinner – and the last ignominy 

Would be that he hadn’t even put up a fight 

He’d all but given himself- and she 

She’d smiled knowingly

He’d be up for dessert tonight 

¬©CM 

16.04.2016

Day Sixteen of Napowrimo. Written for the Almanac prompt- maenads, milk, and honey.:)

Go on, have a slice of madness. ;-) 
Orrrrr have a Cookie. :p 

Image credit : Jesselee13 at DeviantArt