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wishes

“I’m not sure we have the same definition of ‘safe’.” I mumbled.

“Just sit tight, it’ll be here any minute,” she reassured.

We sat on the edge of the railway bridge, our legs dangling over the murky waters, of the holy river Ganges, far below. The sun was low on the horizon, dusk was creeping up fast. The water would be freezing I knew, but I couldn’t opt out now. She’d laugh and call me a sissy.

“Can you swim?”

I thought about the tube well and tank in my village where I’d go with the other boys to cool off during summer.

“Yes.”

“Good,” she grinned, “because I can’t.”

“What!” I shouted even as I heard the whistle of an approaching train.

“Remember to catch a coin, okay?” She patted my head.

I should never have run away from home, then I would never have met this crazy girl, scavenging for food, in the alley I was hiding in. I would not be on this stupid bridge to catch a coin thrown by passengers from a stupid train.

The whistle got louder as the train thundered towards us.

“Now!” She said and pushed me.

Sucked in by the freezing water, I kicked about for dear life. Something hard hit my head as I spluttered to the surface.

A coin?

I couldn’t be bothered to catch any, I was struggling to stay afloat. She was bobbing at a little distance. I needed to get to her.

Stupid fool.

She got to me before I could. Grabbing me, she swam to shore.

“You can swim,” I accused.

She laughed with her head thrown back, then she pressed a coin into my palm, “Make a wish.”

I thought we might die of pneumonia, but what the heck, we had a coin and a wish.

friends

like a little brook
we giggled
o’er smooth rocks,
fresh in the woods
not aware of the river
we’d become
or the turbulent seas
we’d spill into
brimming with life,
drunk on laughter
We were so careless,
so carefree
but then…
we were young

love and beyond

Light danced on their faces, to a tune of its own. They stared, open mouthed, in awe. The ground vibrated with the loud music, like a minor earthquake weaving its way underfoot. Darkness cringed in dismay as it got eaten by the blinding bright lights.
She reached out and took his hand. He didn’t seem to notice, or maybe he did, but hid it well. She smiled knowingly, entwining her fingers with his.
She was glad they had come for the concert. The band was exceptional, though a little too loud for her taste.
Just the other day she was wondering what had gone wrong. He didn’t touch her anymore. They didn’t even kiss goodbye in the mornings when he left for work. Sometimes she would wake up in the middle of the night and he wouldn’t be in bed. She’d see him standing on the balcony looking at the sky. He’d be up before her and gone before she came down for breakfast. Loneliness had become her constant companion.
Once the girl next door had brought him an apple pie. She’d seen him smiling and thanking her profusely. A pang of jealousy had sliced her heart.
The next day she had found two tickets to the concert on their bedside table.
So here they were together after so long. She looked down at her hand holding his. It was empty. He was leaning towards a person seated on his other side. To her horror she noticed it was the girl from next door.
What was SHE doing here?
He was showing her their wedding photo in his wallet.
“She was beautiful,” she heard the girl say.
His thumb caressed her face in the photo.
“Yes she was,” he said sadly.

flood

Incessant rain saw the water rise to alarming levels. The officials had no choice but to open the floodgates of the dam.
River Kosi, like a caged lioness, crashed out, breathing devastation. A deluge of muddy water cascaded down the sluice gates in a waterfall of destruction.
Then furious Kosi changed her course; devouring villages, sparing not a man or beast, in her urgency to reach the sea.
___
Durga found herself trapped in an abandoned mud hut. Her husband Ramu, had gone to get help. They had escaped the wrath of the river and reached higher grounds. Now, there was nowhere to go.
She stared at the water swirling around her ankles, as she held her six month old to her bosom.
___
Ramu clutched the side of the rescue boat, as it cut through the water in the direction he had come from. The journey was slow as they manoeuvered around debris, animal carcasses and probably human too.
At last he sighted the mud hut. It was partially submerged in the murky water and the roof had caved in. His heart sank. He called out her name again and again, voice muffled by the heavy downpour. Hopelessness sank in.
Then, he heard her anguished cry.

origami of a life

a single paper flower
folded,
unfolded,
then folded again;
permanent creases pressed in
by back of thumbnails,
until the will is bent—broken
made to fit and adorn
an imitation world
a single paper flower
nodding in the breeze
scentless and colourless soul

recurrence

The old bike trail was covered with thick undergrowth. It had been a good idea when we started on foot, but now I had an uneasy feeling about the place. The forest was unusually quiet, the air felt too thick. I followed Al as quickly as I could, not allowing much distance between us.

We came to a clearing between the trees. I dropped my backpack and slumped against a tree, exhausted. Al dropped down beside me.

“That’s funny,” he pointed to a tree where a bike was tangled high in its branches.

“How did it get there?” I asked nervously.

“Probably some weirdo trying to scare off hikers,” he shrugged.

A sudden gust of wind blew hair into my eyes. Then we heard the most agonising groan as the earth slowly tipped, throwing us against the trees.

Arms flailing I tried to grab at anything as the forest turned upside down.

I held on to a branch, my legs dangled towards the sky. I screamed as I watched our backpacks disappear into the dark blue below.

Al was calling out to me. He was shaking me.

“Wake up! It’s just a nightmare.”

Opening my eyes I found him looking at me with concern. We were in our tent. I trembled with relief.He held me as I sobbed until we fell asleep.

We set out down the old bike trail early. I was nervous. My uneasiness increased as we reached a clearing in the forest.

“That’s weird,” Al said as he pointed to a tree where a bike was tangled in its branches.

I started to scream even as I heard the agonising groan.

“Hush, it’s just a nightmare,” Al’s voice was soothing, as he cradled me in his arms.
Opening my eyes I saw to my relief that we were still in our tent.

“We need to get out of here, NOW!” I insisted.

“It’s still too early,” he protested.

I broke free from him and started packing frantically.

We trudged down the old bike trail as the sun was just rising.

I felt the panic as we reached a clearing in the forest.

“Look,” Al pointed at…

salvation

i’m furious
like the tightly
bound teardrop
you won’t let
drop and explode
on your cheek
you swallow me
back into your eye
silently i’ll invade
your heart
grow diamond edges
and slice through skin
pray let me fall
to my demise
or i will drown
in your blood

untitled

there is a field
of wildflowers
under my ribs
a rampant wild
growth of need
they sway
as you lean in
to kiss my brow
your breath
a scented breeze

rain

it rained all night
my pillow drenched
some puddled dreams
lost in damp hair
this cloudless rain
it fell all night
and in the wake
of morning dew
i was aware
that it was you
who cried all night

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