Daily Prompt: Toothbrush

The kid was there… again. A frail structure with drooping hair dressed in all black, He reeked of sadness and pity all around. He clumsily made his way to the seat in front of me and silently sat down, mumbling an insincere apology to nobody in general before continuing on focusing on his book. To say I did not like him would be an understatement, I despised him. In this society where the rest of us were fighting like savages for a better life, who was he to insult us by feeling self-pity? He felt pathetic all the time and this… enraged me. But no matter how much I complain, it would be lying to say that I did not find him… interesting. He seemed from a completely different world, a world I only saw through a peephole not understanding it at all.

“Why do you look so concerned Hon?” my mom asked me one day. I sighed, ” it’s nothing mom, there is just this kid in my class and he annoys me to no extent “. My mom gave me a smile of pity before saying “well, why don’t you just ignore him? you are already ignoring everybody else”. “Ouch” that physically hurt, I simply sighed in frustration “Mom it’s not that simple! the rest of them I can simply shut away but with him it’s different… his sadness just feels like such an opaque blanket, it forcefully imposes itself on my mind, it’s… very annoying and I don’t know what to do with him “. She gave me one of those parental smiles before saying “well why don’t you ask him yourself?”

“Hey… is that toothbrush?” I asked him one day talking about the book in his hand, he just gave me a big smile. “what’s your name” I finally asked. “Arjun,” he said. Two months later, while watching a neighbourhood game, I questioned him”So, why were you always so sad back in the day?”. He just gave me a big smile, a smile I had got used to. “look Arjun” I sighed, “If you do not want to talk just tell me, but please for the love of all that is holy do not give me that smile”. He smiled again and just said, “Isn’t all sadness just a big comedy?”. He was like this, way ahead of his years, extremely smart, an intellectual in the true sense stranded between us morons, kind and humorous… all the qualities I have desired but also all the qualities I seriously lack. Sometimes I felt like a foil for him, balancing out his elitist eccentricity, with common social sensibility, as if it was my responsibility to refine his gemstone like qualities and show them to the world…

I was so wrong… so stupid

“I’ll be moving away in a few days” he announced casually one fine day.  “where?” I asked him gravely, trying my level best sound normal. “out of the country” he said giving one of his stupid smiles. “why?” I croaked, my throat feeling dry all of a sudden. He simply smiled again. “I want you to have something,” he said handing me a small box. I opened it slowly, a thousand thoughts racing through my head until I saw what was inside… it was a toothbrush. I was confused, not knowing what to do I just sat there looking into nothingness while he slowly stood up and started making his way. “Wait!” I shouted desperately. He stopped and turned around. “Why a toothbrush?” I asked as felt a tear forming in the corner of my eye. He thought for a while before doing what he did best… he just smiled.

He was like this, thoughtful, fascinating, smart… mysterious. I always thought it was my responsibility to polish him into a sparkling gem and show it to the world… but sometimes while looking at that toothbrush I think… Maybe, I was never the one doing the polishing.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/toothbrush/

 

 

 

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Daily Prompt: Lust

The grey cars whizzed past him on the tarmac, not noticing, uncaring. He dug his hands deeper into the pockets of his overcoat as the snow slowly drifted around him on the cold harsh December morning. The city stretched around him like pathways on a microprocessor… Synthetic, sharp, well defined with a lack of life. The skyscrapers around him rose abruptly from the ground with flat concrete faces, expressionless, logical… cold. He slowly made his way to his office, a building like thousands in the city, with its sharp practical geometric structure, no curves or organic shapes, no sense of life in them. These were production stations, not working places, these were meant for boring, sensible automatons… not creative humans.

As he made his way inside, tall, cruel portraits glared at him ruthlessly, without mercy. occasionally, He saw all black posters with white fonts giving statements like “All work and no play makes Jack an efficient worker” or “Adventure is a sin parallel to sloth” or “what one wants to be most is useful”.  He made his way to the elevator which opened with an unfriendly groan, he slowly stepped inside and pushed the button of his floor which rang with a computer buzz as the elevator whirred into motion with a jerk and quickly made its way.

He stepped into the floor only to be greeted with a cold wind, furious typing, and subtle mumbles. He sighed and made his way to his cubicle, one like the hundreds of identical structures sprawled around the dull grey room. The lights overhead gave an unforgiving, cold beam of light on his table which was all but empty only for his boxy computer sitting in a corner. He slowly sunk his skinny frame onto the creaky old chair and started typing compulsively while he gazed absentmindedly outside from the window towards the city. In front of him, sprawled the grey mass of the capital city, cruelly imposing its presence on the landscape while the sky overhead, mimicking the colour of the ground below, had taken an ash grey shade with the white sun overhead, sharp, providing no warmth. It was truly a world abandoned by colour.

He sighed, this time a sigh of defeat. It choked him, the work, the place, the whole city… it was as if a block of stone had been put on his chest, always making its presence felt to him, hurting him. He was not meant for this world… a world dictated by sensibility and cold logic. He was a free spirit, always wondering, always looking for something new. It was no business for someone like him to be here, to churn out work like an automaton, to lifelessly typing out gibberish on his computer. “It was not always like this” his mother had once told him. “outside the city, there is a world full of wonder, full marvel, full of adventure” she had said dreamily. ” outside the city”… such a situation was bordering fantasy to him, like a magical kingdom. The city was like a black hole, luring people in by showing them the thrall of a better life, only to be shackled by the same city. Once inside the system, there was no escape… it ate like a parasite, sucking the life away from its hosts as for its own nourishment. He sighed again, he was deep in the system now, only a miracle could save him.

No matter how many times he tried to convince himself that he no longer needed the thrill of adventure, the lust of discovery, no matter how much he suppressed it, the feeling continued to stab him… to torment him. He had heard once that sinners would be punished by God for eternity… maybe the lust of adventure was a sin after all…

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/lust/

 

Daily Prompt: Hidden

He woke to the warm sunshine on his back and looked around for a while, the morning birds had already started their chirping and squirrels were busy scurrying around looking for their daily nourishment. He cocked his head to one side and curiously observed a tiny squirrel near his feet, nibbling away happily at an almond with not a care in the world. He slowly lifted his whole body up and started tiptoeing towards the blissfully unaware creature. “Babai! come inside, Lunch is served!” a shrivelled old voice said from inside the house. The tiny little creature, rudely interrupted from its meal was in for a bigger shock as it saw two huge eyes look down to it filled to the brim with wonder… that was enough for the poor squirrel to bristle up with fear and scurry away as fast as its tiny legs could take it.

Ajay sighed, Amma always ruined his plans whether it be purposefully or not. He was just about to get hold of the squirrel and yet… all because Amma had to announce lunch to the whole neighbourhood! “Ajay if you do not get yourself to Table in under a minute, you will be hanging upside down from the fan young Man!” Ajay sighed again, this time one of defeat… even though he was still angry with her, but like any sensible eleven years old, he gave precedence to the fear of beating over stubborn rebellion and quickly started making his way towards the house… “Ajay, what do you do all day just sitting in the garden?” Amma asked severely. “here it goes again,” Ajay thought, he was well versed with the conversation which was going to ensure and hence, had already prepared with his strongest weapon… silence.

“All day you lay and loiter, who will do the homework?” Amma asked slightly raising her voice -Silence-  ” you never do your work or help with the housework, how will you become a responsible person?” -Silence- “And now you don’t even answer, lying has made you into a big alooSilence- “Are you seeing this Prabhat, the child is growing ruder every day!”. Baba looked at Amma and deciding that it was just too tiring to even try to talk sense to her, took the easy route and said: “Yes, you are right”.  Amma turned her head and looked sharply towards Baba “whats with you now, not interested in your son’s well-being?” -“Yes, you are right”. Amma stood up and looked menacingly at the rest of the members seated at the table and said “It is clear to me that I have made my home not with men, but glorified apes… I am going to sleep now and urge all of you not to show me your faces for the next few hours” and with that, she strode off with a huff. Seeing this as his chance, Ajay also sneakily exited towards the garden.

Out of the house now, Ajay made his way to the Banyan tree and made himself comfortable under its wide shade. Adults never understood the joy a garden could create in a child’s mind. For him, this small courtyard lawn was not just a garden but a Hidden world in itself with its different denizens busy in their day to day life, all to delight an eleven years old. Often, he had seen birds of various types make the spreading branches of tree their home while the squirrels scurried hither and fro always on the lookout for food. For him, they were his friends, never angry, always interesting. In Ajay’s mind, the garden had taught him much more than 100 years of school ever could. The mashtermoshais never told him about how the various flowers smelled, or which bird came in which season or how to know if bees had left their hives… all this he learned from observing the citizens of this hidden world, his real mentors.

After loitering and looking around for a while Ajay gave a huge yawn and made himself comfortable beneath the trunk of the great Banyan. It didn’t take long for the aloo posto to work its magic and before he knew it, his eyelids snapped shut and he went into the land of dreams. When he woke up, the Sun was on the verge of setting. The reddish- purple sky poking through foliage made for a beautiful sight. Ajay admired the scene for a few minutes before he could hear the easily recognizable voice of Amma shout from the House ” Ajay, Ae Ajay where did you vanish, off to the world of fairies are we? come inside quick before I start looking for my cane…”. Ajay sighed, but this time it was a sigh of satisfaction as he longingly gazed at the beautiful garden, his hidden wonderland before making his way to the House and the monotonous world of adults at large…

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/hidden/

Daily Prompt: Traditional

He always sat there, almost melting into the rocking chair with his slender bony arms protruding forward with an ancient book in his crooked fingers. Always dressed in pristine white Kurta and Dhoti with his round spectacles, he was the epitome of the traditional Bengali, humbleness in his manner with knowledge in his eyes, he belonged to a rare and dying species of intellectuals.  Ever since I was a child, I had always seen him with a book or at least a newspaper in his hands, his eyes scanning the pages in deep concentration while his fingers kept tapping the cover in a mysterious rhythm. His room was a glorified library with rows and rows of shelves packed to the brim with books on almost all the topics under the sun, he was a hoarder… but the only one who made me envious.

His eyes were like a hawk’s, nothing escaped him. He used to entertain me often by just looking at a person walking on the street below and blurting out information about them he had no way of knowing. Their daily habits, how they are feeling right now, from where did they come, where they are going and much much more. I often asked him how he knew all this and he would just smile, push his spectacles up the bridge of his nose and say “Elementary, my dear Watson”.  He had always been my confidant, not particularly because I trusted him but rather because there was no way I could hide anything from him, He always knew.

“Dadai, why didn’t you become a detective?” I asked him once, my curiosity getting the better of me. He looked at me for a while, sighed and finally said “Baba, I like to see the light in people, I like to keep the windows to my soul open. A Detective? such an occupation is concerned with the darkness in people. Baba… Such pursuit of darkness leads to nothing but the closing of the windows”. Even though I did not understand what he meant to say back then, Even in my innocent blissfulness, I could feel that the person in front of me was what my Father called “an ideal person”… One who had total faith in their belief, a person who could stand up for their ideals.

Over the years, I tried to be like him… with varying degrees of success. However, the more I tried, the better I realised that I was aiming for an impossible goal. People of his calibre are not made, they are born. To me, they are gentle reminders to us what we could be, not as humans, but as people. Even now, whenever I occasionally come to visit my ancestral home, he still sits there, almost melting into the rocking chair with his bony, slender arms protruding forward with the Gitanjali in his crooked fingers and the Principia by his side, he looks at me and gives a warm smile. He truly is a member of a Dying species, the epitome of the traditional Bengali.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/traditional/

Daily Prompt: Fragrance

“How long will you be gone?” she asked hesitantly from behind the door. “2 years” he answered firmly. She let out a small gasp “2 years? You will long forget me by then” she said with hints of accusation in her voice. “Don’t be stupid Chandra! I am just going there for 2 years, not 50!” he answered annoyed. “So, what?” she said retaliating, “God knows what the Sahib do in their nation, they have already ruined ours… besides, will they ever accept a brown skin like you?”. He gave out a laugh “Oh god Chandra you worry too much, I am only going there for studying”. “For studying!!” she said mockingly, “arre look at Lila, her husband went to the Phirengi ka desh for studying and look at him now, settled there with the Sahibs and leaving his wife here”. “that’s enough Chandra!” he answered sternly “I will be going to England and that’s it. I do not want discussions on this topic anymore”. She instantly became silent and even though there was a lot more to say, like her mother and grandmother before her, she perfectly abided by the role of a wife and kept stum.

“What is it like there? In the land of Sahibs?” she asked him a few days later. “oh, it’s nothing impressive, always raining” he answered absentmindedly. Clearly not satisfied with the answer, she repeated her question until finally, in frustration he said “Why are you so impatient? you will see it yourself once I take you there”. This left her mouth wide open. She had been brought up in a conservative household in the nearby village and all she knew was the towns nearby, she had never imagined that she would have to leave her own house let alone the country. This thought terrified her but also it gave birth to an emotion she had not felt since childhood… Curiosity. “you promise?” she asked. “of course” he answered. “swear it on my soul?” she asked almost challengingly. he sighed “yes, yes I do”

The wind was blowing quite hard that day. He stood on the pier, In his Best Kurta and Dhoti with the Round spectacles which made him look like a Mashtarmoshai, patiently listening to his ageing mother give him a huge lecture on things not to do in England. She stood behind her mother in Law, silently waiting for her turn to converse. Once his mother had finished her instructions, he looked towards Chandra ” don’t you have anything to say?” he asked her jokingly. A million thoughts were going through her head, at that moment she just wanted to fall to his feet and beg him not to go but all she could muster up to say was “do not forget me”. He smiled and nodded, slowly picking up his bags he headed towards the ship. After about 15 minutes of waiting, tears and farewells, the ship disappeared from the horizon.

All she could do was wait, pray and hope. For the next two years, these were the only assistances she could provide to him. This forced inaction left her feeling emptiness around her as if with his body and mind, he had also taken his presence and the air around him. All that was left was a slight fragrance, A fragrance which would take his place for the next two years… two years which seemed like an eternity.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/fragrance/

Daily Prompt: Harmonise

The Maestro stared at his dusty ceiling for a while… it was still 30 minutes before his work would start. He slowly and painfully got up and looked around. His small room was still the same as it had been for generations, Except for a Bed and an old rickety wardrobe, the tiny space was empty. He shuffled to his feet and opened the mahogany mammoth… it used to be a beautiful piece of carpentry but even the best quality wood can withstand the tide of time for only a few centuries. Inside, were five pairs of perfectly identical Black tailcoats out which, the Maestro pulled out one and started to place it on his bony frame. Once dressed, taking his trusty baton, he stepped out of his humble abode to start his daily composition… and that to just in time for the sunrise.

It was only a few minutes before he reached his destination, A flat green plain in the middle of nowhere… with a thousand man strong Orchestra troupe in the centre of the flat relief. He slowly made his way to the podium in front and observed the sight. the sun had not risen yet and it was still dark, one could hear the twinkle of the triangles synchronising perfectly with the stars above, occasionally, the pluck of hundreds of violin strings resonated in the area even though the majority of troupe remained motionless. the Maestro sighed and slowly lifted his hands gracefully in the air and started to twirl his Baton. He had done this infinite times till now but the songs, like the sun rises they brought with them were always different, always changing always beautiful. With a sharp gust of air, the Maestro started moving his arms in elaborate and graceful motions and slowly, the orchestra started playing… and with the songs came colour into this world.

It started with the unnoticeable deep plucks of Double Bass which started as dots of Deep red in the sky spreading all over followed by Cellos which brought the occasional streak of scarlet into the Mahogany sky finally, the violins added strings of Cherry like a master painter adding detail to his work. The wind instruments brought a lot more subtle colours in the mix with the Metal section Introducing Sharp shades of orange and deep shades of yellow while their wood counterparts added much softer reds and purples. The percussion unit added Saturation as the sky would light up with every single beat. This continued as the song painted and repainted the sky with the different shades until it reached a frenzied crescendo when the canvas was filled with the infinite shades of yellow, orange and red…

After a while, the pace changed, it was no more energetic and chaotic but rather elegant and calm as the violins and cellos started adding gentle shades of blue till the point when the only ones left playing were the flutes, maintaining the pastel blue and the triangles, which with their twinkle, occasionally brought warm rays of sunshine.

The Maestro finally let his arms go limp beside him as he gazed upwards. This was like millions of the other sun rises he had done in his lifetime and yet it was different. He brushed his silver hair and slowly made his way back. this was his daily task, to harness the eternal chaos of wonder and refine it into something much much more… beauty. And on days like this, he often wondered, maybe just maybe… along with the world around him, he just might be harmonising his soul… the soul of a creator.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/harmonize/

 

 

Daily Prompt: Dormant

” Whats that floating there Dada?” Binni pointed at the frigid form of a dead cat floating along the brook which was once called Victoria street. Ajay hesitated before answering “uh… it’s a cat, it’s taking a swim”. Binni giggled, “what a stupid creature! who takes a swim on the road?” asking with an innocence only children can perfect. Ajay sighed but did not answer back, there were far more interesting things to think about than Binni’s questions. Both of them from the verandah of their home observed the street in front. Maganpur like many cities in West Bengal was originally built by Britishers who never knew the true wrath of an Indian Monsoon and hence, whenever the rains came and Mother Hoogly saw it fit to expand her banks, The misplanned City turned into the Venice of Bengal, a very dirty and inconvenient Venice.

As the two children observed the scene in front of them, The rains pummelled down mercilessly. On the street, which was now submerged in knee deep rainwater, the denizens of the city tried to go through their day to day life. The children could see the Bengali Babus trying to wade their way through the crowded waterways with their stereotypical huge black umbrellas being used more like sticks to prod their way through the crowd rather than for protection against rain. The roadside vendors tried desperately to save their goods from being spoilt by the rain while children big and small were launching small fleets of paper boats in all directions. The feline denizens were not much behind, dogs with their pups made small caravans wading through the waters to find a spot of dry land while the cats made the rooftops their kingdom, travelling across it with the grace and snobbishness only fit for kings. Once in a while, one could see small school fish making their way through the flooded streets.

The children took everything in with their eyes wide with wonder, for they knew, like all good things this time will also come to an end. The rain will stop as suddenly as it started and the river would recede for another year, life in Maganpur would pick up its monotonous pace again. This city was like any other city on the Indian subcontinent but the rains along with floods brought a magical change to it and its denizens. The Children gazed ahead trying to capture every precious and fleeting moment they could with their sparkling eyes and innocent minds for they would be deprived of such a spectacle for another year. “Binni, Ajay! come quick, lunch is ready ” Amma shouted. “Coming Amma,” Ajay said, shuffling to his feet, giving a final longing gaze to the scene ahead before he went inside. The children would have to wait, they would have to wait a long time before the dormant Hoogly would wake up and show its true form to them again.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/dormant/

Daily Prompt: Gate

The old man was waiting in front of the gate as usual. Since the last 5 years, I had seen him standing there … with his figure stooped in an ungodly way, leaning all his weight on his trusty old stick which, like its owner had mostly weathered away over the years. Nobody knew why he stood there and well, nobody really cared. The Gate was of solid iron rusted to almost a dirty crimson over the generations. It’s design… was not very good, to put it lightly. It was as if it lived in a quantum state between classical Georgian and Neo- modern design (how I know these terms is a story for another day), but astonishingly, it felt like a mockery of both styles. Like the old man, the gate had long lost its glory days but one could sometimes see the specks of peeling paint on its corner, which, provided a blurry view of what it once was.

The next day, the old man was there again but something was different. Over the five years, he was religiously present in front of the gate every day, but today, it felt like he had to practically drag his body here. his usual impossible angle of stoop was even steeper and it was as if he was balancing his whole body on his glorified twig of a walking stick. I could almost see his soul splitting from his body bound by just a few strings. He seemed to be in immeasurable amounts of physical pain and for the first time in five years, I felt bad for him. I felt like he was a storyteller who had gathered infinite tales over the years but he had nobody to pass them down to. Finally, after a much inner conflict, I decided to ask him why he waited in front of the gate every day tomorrow.

The old man did not come the next day.

Or the next day

Or the next….

It has been more than 7 weeks since the last time I saw the old man… and with him, disappeared the secret of his pilgrimage. I never got to know why he came to the gate after all. No matter whatever reason I thought of, none satisfied me. I felt bad for everybody around me, they lost something precious and did not even realise it… maybe I even felt envious of their blissful ignorance. For whatever reason, I needed to know and I just realised how he felt… the eternal wait, the unknown conclusion, the insatiable desire to know and even though I did not know him, I mourned for him and maybe, just maybe… I felt like the gate mourned with me.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/

Just A Dictionary Meaning

‘Friends’… this seven letter word has exponentially devalued with every successive year I had the fortune of experiencing it. For me, the word ‘friend’ is nothing more than its dictionary meaning, a social label everyone is obliged to give to a certain set of people in their life, in order to convince society they are not broken. You see, for someone with non-existent self-esteem, everything needs to be weighed objectively… every word, every decision, every relationship needs to be weighed heavily. For such a shell of a person, a friend ends up becoming nothing than a desperate plea to society that they are not…insignificant, that they are like every average joe with nothing wrong within. When a person has basically reached rock bottom in this sense, they desperately cling to any minuscule amount of praise they can get, well… Friends are the perfect tools for this purpose.

Friendship no longer is a mutual bond but rather a contract, a contract I can break when I see fit. Grievances in somebody else’s life should not matter to me, this is the basic philosophy of this exploitative contract I recognise as friendship. Be sympathetic, never empathetic… Put bluntly, Friend is now a tool and every Grievance or Problem they approach you with is a technical glitch. It only takes so many glitches before you terminate a tool and same goes for ‘friends’. One might wonder, “what twisted logic must a person reach to turn into such a parasite?” the answer is simple… stop thinking like a person. Believe me, the human mind is such an imaginative machine, if you ever want an excuse for something, it gives you hundreds of them… “friendship is never permanent, everybody loses touch someday or the other”, “you can always make more friends when you are in a stable position” or “friends are just a mystical fantasies we humans have” are just a few of the numerous excuses I have told myself over the years while I  severed one connection after the other like a butcher… like a monster.

The bliss of knowing that you can blindly trust a person, a person you can share all your problems with and vice-versa is a situation I have desired for many years, a situation I am too cowardly to ever make a reality. But still, no matter how many lies I tell myself, this insatiable desire for a pillar of support haunts me often. No matter how many twisted logical excuses I give to myself, I feel the guilt for every connection I have ever severed, guilt for never trying enough or guilt for never being empathetic enough or the worst… never even caring enough.

This desire to be friends and being a support to someone always nags me. No matter how many times I try to make it a sacrificial lamb on the road to success, this desire to be important to another person always remains. Adults call this desire foolishness while my peers call it “Bhai Chara” but for me, maybe it is the understanding that someone out there thinks that my twisted being is important for them, makes this desire ever burning or maybe it’s my humanity screaming from within trying to prevent another bloke from turning into a robot among the 7 billion robots on this planet.

P.S: As usual, the style is muddled and the paragraphs do not know what they are trying to convey. well, I am a terrible writer and offer my sincerest apologies to anyone who had to wince more than once while going through this work dripping with self-pity and angst.

Daily Prompt: Lolipop

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/

For a child, a lollipop is no less than a box of treasure. A fantastical impossibility which under some freakish circumstances has become true. It is one of the mysteries of the world how a sugar sphere on a plastic stick can entrance a person to a feverish extent. It is this feverish desire to achieve something which, in the eyes of hard logic, seems to be insignificant which to some extent defines our humanity. every single person has this unexplainable desire for something. Maybe, all of us are simply pursuing our own iteration of the lollipop in our own way…

 

PS: this is the first and an extremely clumsy attempt to get back in the habit of writing. most of these will be cathartic confused paragraphs which make no sense, so I offer my sincerest apologies to anyone who feels hellish amounts of cringe just reading this… My sympathies are with you.

P.P.S: Like many an idea, this initiative did not originate in my own contorted mind. this is greatly inspired by a blog maintained by one of my friends, and just in case you were dazed or confused enough to like what I write, you will definitely love their work.

https://happinessmoolmantra.wordpress.com/