Month: October 2011

The Wind Roared


The wind roared in his ears as he took to his task.

The metal frame was cold against his skin. He slid the bar of the bicycle lock through the handle bars of the door. And, not that it was necessary, he slipped another one to and clicked it in place. The sun was at its peak then, flinging a blanket of heat and light over the city that enveloped and choked it. The air suspended thickly in the summer sky, broken only momentarily by piercing gusts of warm wind that died moments after forming . He threw his eyes contemplatingly at his surroundings: at the empty concrete floor, the uncovered metal piping to his left with its muffled purr of running water, the scattered grains of feed for the benign city pigeons, and the circular patch of hardened droppings they left in their wake. 

The roof.

For a moment he stood looking ahead, with tired unfluttering eyes, at the barren, emerald-blue sky. Then, in slight steps he edged forward toward the raised brick railing. He threw his arms up and, clutching the outer edge of the railing, thrust himself upward, climbing the railing of half his length. He stood at the very highest point of the office-building now, the front rims of his shoes meeting the surface of the railing at the very point where it broke off and there was nothing but air and space. 

Under him the city lived: the howls of cars and taxicabs, relentless and constant. About him buildings sprinkled the streets. A horizon of beaming structures, flung toward the sky above. They glistened in the sunlight. Rays of light clung to spotless, perfect panes of glass, as if trapped. They gleamed in the bed of light, shining like immaculately designed pieces someone’s collection of crystal sculptures. Where light didn’t gather, warped reflections of the city appeared: cyclists, the fountain, people chasing after taxicabs, the empty park. There on the edge of the warehouse that had housed him for so long, he waited for the panicking cries. The wind roared in his ears as he waited. 

Mix water, sugar and paper, you get a sweet-tasting papery mush. Add potassium nitrate and leave to set, and it becomes a smoke bomb. Amateur bomb-makers call the magic ingredient Saltpeter. The resulting product is odorless, harmless, and like all good bombs should, produces smoke that sets the most insensitive of smoke-detectors alive. Upon lighting the fuse, the crusty mass quick-burns with a hiss and, more noticeably, a white cloud of fast-expanding smoke, harmless and frightening. Now, attach a slow-burning fuse to a pound of smoke bomb, leave it in your high rise office, light it, leave the door open, and the rest is done for you. In a minute the smoke detector rings out, then your coworkers spot the rising smoke as it snakes out of the office-room toward them. Afraid and confused, everyone runs for dear life. Exterminators smoke out rodents like that. 

In a minute, this would happen. And in a minute, it did. 

The reverberating barks of the alarm sounded, and in his head, drowned out the monstrous groans of the city. The wind roared in his ears as he listened.

 A panicking crowd assembled at the base of the building. His audience had arrived, burst in to witness his performance. Soon policecars and firetrucks would storm in, all because of him. For him. He felt the thousand worried eyes on him, watching his every move. People who had always had a sameness about them, obvious in the way they moved, they way they dressed, the way they made phone calls while walking the streets, staring into space. Seeing, yet never really seeing. Like drones, drones going about their business, vacant and genial. Predictable people assuming pre-decided identities, he had always thought. Dear ladies, gentlemen and glorified sheep.

I am different, he thought now as watched the crowd with unblinking eyes. The wind roared in his ears as he watched.

It wasn’t long before the information of his being there spread through the shocked crowd like forest fire. They looked as him with wondrous eyes and mouths agape. He stood perfectly upright, at the very edge, as though one with the building. As he stood with their eyes fixed to him, he looked away, as if he were a celebrity looking through squealing fans. White smoke jetted out of the window he’d left open. The wind roared in his ears as he stood. Behind him the metal door, the entrance to the roof, was forced forward, and every time it was the steel of the bicycle locks forced it back with a clang. 

I am not of you any more, he thought.

With that thought, he looked down one last time, at the crowd, the cars, the white cloud, the policemen, the buildings and the other world that existed within its mirrored walls. The siren blared still. The wind roared in his ears as he flew.
Advertisements

Fading

In one sudden burst, the light shone brightly. Everywhere. Its
beams flooded his surroundings, inundating him with light so intense, so
brilliant, that it hurt his eyes. Distressed, he raised his hands to his face,
shielding his eyes from the blinding gush of light. With one hand glued to his
face, he extended his free arm and hand forward, grabbing air, warily feeling
his way through his invisible environment. Exploring the unseeable. He did, in
slight, cautious steps.
 
He felt drowsy and, from time to time, a shrill sound would
ring in his ear. Like skidding tires, he thought, distorted and warped,
screeching endlessly. Then, gradually, it lowered in pitch and volume before
evanishing completely. Again and again it assailed him, paining him for a
moment, and then disappearing. A vexing, repeating melody.
The light had begun receding, its gleam slowly diminishing. He
could tell because it didn’t hurt his eyes as much as it did before. Carefully,
he peeled his hand away from his face, one finger at a time until he had
removed it all, leaving only his eyelids to cover his eyes. He slowly uncovered
them, and was met with a wall of green. It took his eyes a moment to adjust, to feed him his
surroundings again. A haze of barely visible, albeit clearly green, objects
before him came into view. Before long, his eyes focused. He could see again.
 
He saw a field, lush with greenery, and, in the middle of it, was him. Running. Not knowing where he
was running to or from what, he ran. As fast as his legs would allow. The feel
of earth beneath his feet, grass cushioning his every step consumed his thoughts.
That and, overwhelmingly, the happiness it brought him. The feeling of hovering
over his worries, of bypassing them. Like a thick cloud of contentment in his
head. Of feeling as though he was a blade of grass, like the ones he was
stepping on, not a care to hinder his enjoyment. Endlessly dancing to the
gentle breeze. He relished it, every second of it. The faster he ran, the happier he got.
He looked down at his right hand; found that he was now
holding a doll. It was worn out, its colours had faded, loose strings of thread
protruded from its hem, its exterior battered by what must have been years of
play, toting around, loving.
 
A familiar voice rang out, calling his name.
 
“Adam!”
 
He looked over his shoulder, taking care not to fall into a
small pond of mud ahead of him, skipping over it before he turned to look. A
few feet behind him was a girl, chasing after him. Her long, thick locks of
illustrious hair tied back in a ponytail that bounced behind her and,
occasionally, spun around, striking her on the face. He saw her, very visibly,
trying to stifle a laugh, trying to stop herself from bursting into a frenzy of
snickers and giggles. She attempted to look serious, to threaten him into
giving back her cottony friend.
 
Clutching it, he ran and ran. Skillfully hopping across
little pools of water, puddles of mud. She matched every maneuver of his, anticipating
his every turn, swerve and jump with the apprehension of someone who had been
through similar kidnappings before. With the apprehension of a lifelong friend.
His tactics had become predictable, easy to foretell and counteract.
She knew that, every so often, he would tilt his body, as if
turning to run in another direction, only to thrust his body in the
opposite direction a few seconds later.  
 
She knew not to fall for that, to veer sideways before he did.
She knew that he runs as fast as he can, that he, excitedly,
uses up all his energy, funnels it into one joyous and short dash, and that,
when he drapes his arms on his sides or flails them about, that he had tired
himself; that the calculatedly conservative approach she takes to running him
down would, eventually, prove a better strategy.
 
Looking on, he saw a stream of dense, black smoke in the
distance, emerging from the tree line. For a fleeting moment, everything was
blocked out, his attention drawn solely to the trail of ascending blackness. He
blocked it all, the wind ruffling his hair, the wild, unkempt vegetation, the
wobbly reflection of the sun on the many ponds along his path, the faint whoosh
of leaves rubbing against each other, the buzzing of an all-too-curious bee
that wouldn’t leave his side, the thought of how much he enjoyed his pursuer’s
company, how much he loved her.
 
“Adam!” she called again.
 
She had caught up to him and, with all the might she could
muster, shoved him from behind. Letting out a hearty yelp as she did. Not so much
impacting him as forcefully, and surprisingly gently, pouncing on him. He lost
balance and, after a few failed attempts to regain his footing, started to
tumble, falling face first into a stale, still patch of murky water, his face
piercing its undisturbed surface.
 
He fell and fell, perpetually sinking into the water, into
the darkness. Into a pit of nothingness. Again, the screeching tires plagued
his mind. It hurt the most this time, feeling like a blunt blade wedged in his
head.
 
And, with that, the last of a string of a thousand memories
bolting through his mind had ended. In rapid succession, they occupied his
thoughts once more. Every cherished memory, every warm, welcoming smile, every
image of a loved one engrained in his mind. Memories of life-long friendships,
of days spent laughing till it hurt, of lost loves. Every agitation of his
soul. The insufferable screech assaulting him in between each one.
The sound, as it did before, started to die down. Drowned out
by the ebony of a never-ending emptiness.
 
Fading one last time.

Find Me

His wound itched. With his dirt-ridden left hand, he scratched it, scraping the surface of the length of wool he had instinctively wrapped around his mauled leg, a makeshift bandage. He looked down and, after examining the wound once more, saw that his fingers had been stained by blood that had seeped through the cloth. Dry, stale blood. From time to time, a searing shock of pain would shoot up his leg, bolt through his body and to his head. The muzzle of his gas mask hovered before his head. He realized that wearing it was of no use anymore. In one smooth motion, he yanked it off and hurled it away, punishing it for restricting his vision for so long.

His body spat out his blood, as though it was relishing discharging the now contaminated liquid. In short, mighty bursts it would bleed, stop bleeding, and bleed again. As if all the blood in his body had leaked out through the gaping hole and his wound was now fetching the last of his blood from his trembling body to spew. Banishing it. His foot was doused with it, and he left a trail of bloody footsteps in his path. He lay flat on the floor and faced the sky. It was grey and cloudless, bare. Like it had died.

In his right hand, he held a piece of aged wood. Its surface was scratched, engraved by the force of terrified fingernails. A part of a floorboard that it had been pried from. A streak of blood, now a deteriorated, rusty black, smeared across it, running from one far end to the other. The sound of his every move and aching groan echoed through his surroundings, or possibly just through his own head. He couldn’t tell.

He lay shivering, recounting the day’s events. As though if he thought hard enough, he could reverse what had happened. He lamented as his body withered and bled. He painted the empty canvas of the sky before him with his memories. He thought of the girl, her image engrained in his memory. How he’d looked at her, with fear and awe, past the dust and specks of filth that had accumulated on his gas mask.

He remembered how she’d stood there, frozen. Eyeing her next meal. So still that he thought she’d died where she stood. Her hair was wildly growing and unkempt in places, forcibly pulled out in others. Like a map, he thought. It looked like a map detailing, in startling and horrendous clarity, all that had gone wrong with the world, all that had stripped children of their smiles, the fall breeze of its gentle sweetness, the sun of its light. Her teeth, visibly sharpened by manic gritting or vicious grinding against the bones of someone’s living ribcage, were always on display. The children were the fiercest, the most dangerous.

She scowled at him, a contemptuous look upon her scarred face. He looked in her eyes and saw a cloud of bloodthirsty desire. The embodiment of what it is to be inhuman, ruthless. He remembered his gas mask being uncomfortable, as if always had been. Her clothes were bloody, not so much stained as drenched in blood.
Another shock of pain blazed though his body. He howled in pain. His voice shrill, faint now. His wound caught his attention for a second, then the girl occupied his thoughts again. He remembered the pain most of all; the pain of her jabbing her teeth into his thigh, clenching her jaw with all her might. Her nails digging into his back. He pulled out a knife and thrashed blindly at her, turning his head away and covering his eyes with his free arm as he did.

Her dying screams rang in his ear. Like a knife wedged in his head. Guttural cries, soaked in agony and torment. For before they died, pain would engulf them, viciously extinguishing the savage creatures, erasing every trace of their being. Viciously omitting them from existence. The disease was just as ferocious they were.

His mind emptied of everything, all the grief and misery of his world. All his memories melted into a mass that faded away. The unmistakable feeling of death, he thought. He imagined the girl had felt the same. All the memories, thoughts, pain vanished into a corner of his mind until there was nothing.  Nothing except the block of wood he’d spent years studying, sought hope, motivation and encouragement from. He thought of how it embodied his will, his power, his purpose in life. He thought of how it had fed his soul hope with unyielding intensity. He thought of how it was his only reason to live. He thought of his unforgivable failure.
With the care of a mother carrying her child, he placed the block on his chest. On his heart. He shut his eyes one last time, and, just as he had for years before, thought of the words etched on the block of wood.

find me

The Prison of Mind

The idea of a prison of mind has been sloshing around in my
head for quite a while now, I think it’s only appropriate that I articulate what I’ve come to discover.
What is a prison of mind? What does mental imprisonment
entail?
 
Of course, far be it from me to pontificate on philosophy- I
am by no means a philosopher- but I’ll define it the way I see it. I would
define it as anything that shackles free thought; any deliberate untruth that
changes our perceptions of reality, what we hold to be true. Any dogmatic idea
that causes us to -knowingly or otherwise- act in accordance with others’
interests, and against our own. A prison of mind is one that stops you from
forming coherent thought, forming genuine opinions, unpolluted by pernicious
influence. Most of all, it can be characterized by its causing of great
detriment to the sufferer. All this decidedly constitutes mental imprisonment.
To be mentally imprisoned is to be incapable of controlling one’s
actions and thoughts, because they are controlled by others. It’s a case of
abating of will. And, in that sense, it’s a disease of both the body and mind.
All this, in a remarkable way, harks back to the recent Arab
revolutions.
 
When you consider the mass mental conditioning dictators
enforced –and imprudently, daringly continue to- on their countrymen, the
similarities become flagrant. Making us think –mendaciously, of course- that
they are both intent on our benefit and are all-powerful and omnipotent, in equal
measure, proved very potent – we kept them in office for decades!
In fact, mental imprisonment is, in all likelihood, culpable
for most every injustice in our world. Thoughts à la “you’re too insignificant to change anything “
and “what difference will you little old you make?” relieve the righteousness
we should rightfully feel. Evil thrives when good men do nothing.
 
Advertising is another startlingly widespread example of
mind imprisonment. Every day we are bombarded with advertising promising us the
illusion of happiness; asserting that if we buy, buy and buy, we will be
complete, happy and content. We’re stuck in a
vicious cycle, endlessly pursuing a facade. Thinking that maybe, just maybe,
it’ll make us happy. It never will. It entrenches us in a culture that
is unimaginably detrimental to us. We find ourselves willingly following the
self-destroying herd, spending every waking moment in a futile pursuit of
satisfaction.
 
Racism and intolerance arise from mental imprisonment. Both are a direct result of believing in falsehoods and acting upon those, resulting in the deprecation, mistreatment and vilification of segments of society. Not to mention viciously eating away at society itself.
 
The examples are endless.
 
Mind you, we merit our equal share of the blame. For
foolishly lazing and accepting whatever we are maliciously presented with as
unequivocal truth, for, in the case of dictators, keeling over to the
threatening, seemingly unchangeable –the key word being seemingly- status quo,
for not seeking the true nature of things, we are equally liable.
 
A quote from Christopher Nolan’s ‘Batman Begins’ comes to mind
as very befitting. While sword fighting an amateurish Bruce Wayne, Liam Neeson’s
character, Ducard, roars “Will is everything!” and elaborates with a restrained
“The will to act”. The infamous “open your eyes!” also comes to mind in exactly
the same vein. A pragmatic, objective look at everything we hold to be true is
desperately needed.
A prison of mind is the most confining prison of all.

Back To Darkness Now

The sirens wailed; the waves of their sound propagating in
every which direction, inundating the surrounding air with deafening sonance. The
road was wide and busy, stretching on for miles, seemingly endless. The
squadron, threatening as it was, forced other vehicles on the road to swerve
out of its way; veering abruptly to the sides of the road to avoid impact. The
cars traveled in near perfect unison, slicing through the warm, still air of
that summer day. They did so, in pursuit. In unrelenting chase.

Leading this armada was a lone vessel, one that is blatantly
different from the rest. One that was attempting, and struggling, to evade
capture. Its driver, no older than twenty, was panting uncontrollably. Frantically
and hurriedly, with the bed of his index finger, he wiped away the pool of
sweat that had collected on his forehead, dripped onto the sides of his face.
 
He squinted; a teardrop had slid into his left eye. Periodically, he’d
worriedly look over his shoulder, tilting his neck to look back, and tilting it
back again, moving so swiftly and suddenly his vertebrae would snap in protest.
He did this incessantly, as if his pursuers would disappear,
vanish into the summer heat. His foot weighting down the acceleration pedal so
forcefully, so mightily that it was as though cement had solidified over it. In
doing so, he squeezed out every last horsepower his fluttering engine had to
give. It purred and hissed, as if apologizing for its less-than-favorable
performance.
 
His heart pounded in his chest. Pulsing like, he thought, it
had never done before. It amazed him that, after beating that way for so long,
it hadn’t degenerated into a trembling, twitching mass, given out on him. Let
him die. Spared him the torturous agony of his existence. It beat so fast it
was as though, if it beat any faster, it would burst out of his body in one
gushing surge of blood. It did, mostly, not for fear of capture, but at the realization
of what he done. The full magnitude of his act struck him, shocked him.
 
He sat there, palpitating. His mind lay suspended vaguely at
the midpoint of, on one side, the awe of his deed and the bitterness, the
heartache on the other. At times, it would change position. Sporadically, one side
would overpower the other. The thick, wounding smoke of sorrow and the
breathtaking flood of astonishment taking turns consuming his thoughts.
Torturing him.
 
 The harsh reality of his futile attempt did not escape him, either. There was no escape. Not for
him. Not on this highway. He knew, was certain, that they’d get to him.
Eventually.
 
His determination, his resolve, his conviction to not get
captured, even to the drivers of the vehicles trailing him, seemed admirable. After
all, what he had done was, to most people’s sensibilities, entirely
justifiable. Commendable, even. It dawned on them that, put in the same
situation, they would’ve done the same. They’d imagined themselves in his shoes
and decided that it was very unfortunate that they were tasked with running him
down. In fact, given the chance, they would let him be. They pitied him, almost
as much as he pitied himself. One of life’s many injustices, they halfheartedly
rationalized.
 
In the distance, slight buildings, trees and pedestrians
materialized. A small town.  They had out-driven the highway. It wasn’t endless after all. Gradually, the wide
highway funneled into a narrow patch of road that, soon, gave rise to an even
narrower road. For a moment, a bench far away caught his eye. A woman sitting
atop it, her face buried in a book. He envied her. Her calmness, serenity.
 
He wiped his forehead again.
 
It wasn’t long before he, his car and the others were in the
centre of town, trespassing on its peaceful grounds. Their collective bolting
by drew all manner of apprehension from the townspeople. Bystanders, startled,
cringed away at the sound of the traveling fleet, its menacing speed. Havoc.
The road, once a beeline, free of curves, was now a winding path.
It gave the lone driver ample opportunity to engage in elaborate maneuvers
along the ever-bending track. With every curve he’d gain distance away from the
cars behind him. With every curve, he’d gain ground. A tiny glimmer of possibility
shone, only to be abated shortly.
 
Not far ahead of him, a little boy, not more than half a mile
away, scurried across the street, chasing after a marble of his that had
rolled out of his reach. Wholly unaware of the approaching cars, their speed,
that they could kill him. In an earnest attempt to avoid driving over the boy,
he steered away from him, as quickly and as acutely as his quivering hands
would allow. The car banked sharply. It flipped, perpetually and of its own
ability, side over side, tossing the driver from his seat to the roof and back
again, his head thrust against the metal roof and frame repeatedly. A thud rang
out every time it did.
 
Ultimately, as if finally content with the extent it had
clobbered itself and its driver, the car lost momentum, finally resting a
remarkable distance away from the road.
 
Everything blurred, vanishing into nothingness. All the
sadness that had crushed his soul, all the tantalizing thoughts of what might
have been, all the pity he had for himself, every morsel of anguish that had
ate away at his being, all the shame and regret,  disappeared. Blended into oblivion. Faded to
black.
 
A single, faint sound pierced through the darkness, drenched
in reluctance. “You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to …”
 
Back to darkness now.

I Saw It

I saw it
Staring back at me
it stood
years in the making.

 

A wall.

 

The misery and death
The tortured, the wounded
The dying screams
 collected
And made a wall
Always present,
over everything, everyone
It is all there is
all I see.

 

I carry them.
Entirely our creation
We made this
The years of blackness
The tears and pain
The cries
collected.

I carry them,
in my head.

 

We made this.
Stop and stare and say:
I don’t care
Let me be.

 

Bullets pierce through silent air
Here is where life ends
The dead,
the hungry
images in news reels
Snapshots of misery.

 

Shock turns to fear turns to apathy
and finally
I don’t care
I don’t see.

 

We made this.

 

Laugh and turn your back
ignore the injustice
ignore the crime.

 

Building
It is building now
It is growing
bigger
louder.
Turn your eyes away
 leave your humanity.

 

The other side, I see it
Alive
When light will pierce through
the black of our deeds
and the eternity of our apathy
When it will end.
I see them now.

 

They’re waiting,
to be freed
For us to listen
to one day
heed the call of the
bloodstained roses.

 

It will be soon
When sunlight will gently kiss your face once more
And the tears will burn away
There,
where a smile will live
forever.

 

I saw it.

Moments

All in a moment …

The entirety of life passing
before your eyes
memories
encapsulated
in heart and mind.

Memories of loved ones
of friendships begotten
of days spent laughing till it hurt
of lost loves.

Shock turns to regret turns to sorrow
but it is of no use
your time has come
the pain will now seize.

Now,
lay, weary soul
the candle has burnt out
fight no more
Final breath, exhaled

All in a moment …