A section from
‘A Jedi shall not know hatred, nor fear… nor love.’ from Star Wars Episode II
An excerpt from Truly, Madly, Deeply (Faraaz Kazi)
The surviving leaves of the naked Acacia rustle softly as the gates of the park creak open. The park has long been shut with no one to look after its declining state and the tree has existed as a long forgotten song in silent nights such as these. Its dull yellowish flowers lie strewn on the ground, a tribute to the harsh autumn.
The boy walks over them, crushing the petals under his steady feet. He looks neither left nor right but heads straight for that wooden bench in the corner of the park that has an expanding crack in the middle. He lowers himself on the old bench, the only thing that stands in this park apart from the handful of Acacias. He plucks out a dry blade of grass from the ground and wraps it around his fingers. Tugging at it from a corner, he yanks it away, snapping it into two and in the process, leaving circular red marks on his skin.
He turns his hand, facing the palm and just near the forehand, he sees the letters swimming around, forming stories of their own. They are the result of an abhorrently sharp compass that not just drew perfect circles in the past. Almost unconsciously, he traces their shapes; a slithering S, followed by two enchanting E’s, next to which lies a melodious M just before concluding with an amorous A. They are the marks of his love, handcrafted by himself in her memory. They are the only epitaph to his heart, spectral remains of old recollections in the presence of lost love. The name cuts through him like forked lightning and he swallows the pain in humble acceptance. As his fingers brush past the last alphabet, a sudden chill sets in the atmosphere bringing everything around him to a standstill.
The solitary streetlight near the pavement flickers once, twice, before going off inexplicably and plunging the area into darkness. The rusty hinges of the iron gate creak and clatter, their echo reverberating throughout the park. The haunting sound of the nightjars penetrates the still air. A doleful hoot of an owl echoes in the eerie ambience. The forgotten Acacia trees start casting scary shadows on the almost barren ground, the kind that magnify ten times their actual size. But he is unfazed. The only shadows that envelop him are the one in his callous heart which feast on his loneliness, sheltering his sorrow and confining his joy. His expressionless face is undeterred but betrays the early maturity of his troubled mind.
Absent-mindedly, he looks up at the sky, counting the jesting stars whose lights cannot reach his soul. He glances up at the full moon with expectant eyes and it does not disappoint him. A familiar face; the same enticing eyes, the same wavy brown hair and the same delicate smile swirl on its surface. He senses the vacuum in his heart widen and the teeth around its concavity gnaw at his living flesh, swallowing him like an impervious sinkhole. With a cry of anguish, he falls down on his knees, clutching his throbbing head in his hands, willing for the excruciating pain to go away.
The noiseless night further darkens, extending its shadows in the crevices of his desolate heart. The rustle of the trees now sounds so remote, so strange. He hears the soft, slow sound of distant laughter and wraps his legs in his arms while lowering his head in between. Unfortunately, there is no covering for his wounded heart and that is where he feels the chill enter. He flinches. His body quivers in a morbid trance, and then like the final whiff of an extinguished candle he surrenders, like always, to the ghosts of his past. The stars take their leave. They don’t wish him goodbye. Not yet.
LIVING, NOT LEAVING THE LONELINESS
“AND STILL TODAY the heady fragrance
Of sandalwood reminds me of
Her curving body, slender in the waist.
No one but she, a river crystal-clear,
Can quench the devastating flame of love in me.
She was and is the radiant treasure of my heart.”
-The Secret Delights of Love, Pundit Bilhana.
The surrounding atmosphere now suddenly stood out as a study in contrast, when the guy with the long, jet black curly hair, sitting cross-legged on the classroom bench as per his leisurely habit, compared it with the rich ambience in his life that had enveloped him months back. With a long-fingered hand acting as a barrier for his slipping head, he was lost in a world of his own. He seemed a little rumpled, sleepy as if he had been deprived of slumber for a hundred years. His eyes closed, his handsome face now bore signs of maturity that his age would have proved otherwise.
The dusky fair skin and contours of his perfectly symmetrical face proudly proclaimed his Indian heritage. His nose was perfectly curved as if God had taken care to make it geometrically correct while creating him, and his narrow black eyes, contained a lot more than appeal – a myriad of emotions irrefutably. His long neck with a prominent Adam’s apple protruding from the middle, housed a sweet voice once upon a time, but today it had become as rough and brief as his exterior disposition. With a five feet eleven inch frame, he was tall and lean, with broad shoulders, not that he was ever fat but the past had been equally treacherous on his body as it had been on his mind.
No one here had seen him in his heyday, and besides he was least bothered about people in his present avatar. Heck, he did not even care for himself. Once if someone told him his thick curly hair appeared messed up, he would immediately rush to the washroom, pull out his ivory pocket comb from his back pocket and run it vigorously along the scalp to emerge as a slick Raymond’s model. But today, the curls had reached the nape of his neck, making him appear like a punk master one usually comes across in countries such as where he was surviving.
He failed to remember the last time he had gone for a haircut or had thought of shaving his grown beard. His facial hair was lot more than that of a young adult of his age, crisp strands sticking out in a mass, but he shaved it once in a month or so and as a result, usually looked out of place amongst a band of young schoolchildren. Not that he hung around with them but they gravitated towards him, more out of curiosity than anything else. His demeanour was calm and calculated and gave the impression that he was partially hard of hearing which suited him just fine. However, what nobody realized was that the emotions churning his being had paralysed his senses long ago.
He did not look his best today but nature had maintained him in his current frame. His tough composure and fair features combined imbued him with a raw animal appeal. He looked poised and centred, but he was far from that on the inside. Though he had not been around that time, these lines written by an ancient wise man seemed to be written exquisitely for him,
“His scent is musk and his cheek is rose
His teeth are pearls and his lips drop wine;
His form is a brand and his hips a hill,
His hair is night and his face moonshine.”
He sat alone now, isolated from the world and from himself, not caring to look up when a buzzing fly sat on his hair. He barely noticed the fly that was perhaps feasting on his dandruff. But he did hear the metronomic thud thud of footsteps ambling towards the class he was occupying.
The classroom was empty just like his heart but for a couple of flies that enjoyed their mating ritual going all over the place. Their low, irritating sound was met with an imperturbable, disinterested reaction. Being indifferent to his surroundings seemed a well-inculcated habit somehow. Perhaps failure in love and ultimately failure in life teaches a person to be a winner at least in the art of supreme indifference and other such unworthy aspects, he would think lazily, but what would occupy his mind were still the same deep thoughts of the matters that ruled his heart.
“Hey Rahul, what man, what are you doing alone in here? Soon the Primary will be hopping in. Don’t you want to reach the hostel?” A fair, confident guy approached him from behind. His height came into notice when he shoulder to shoulder with Rahul, who was a couple of inches shorter than the boy, though in reality no one would dare call a five foot eleven inch boy short by any standards.
Rahul did not reply audibly, he just nodded.