Kunal Sen (149)
“The ceiling fan billows the white sheet, giving an illusion of breathing inside. It is such a tempting illusion”
“Dr. Dey says he hasn’t spoken a word since Wednesday morning, locking himself instead in his bedroom of denial. But the rouge of his eyes, unlike the dimple of his smile, betrays him from under his sepia-toned sunglasses”
“I can feel the howls about to follow, taking shape inside; sleepless and rancid. I didn’t want to wait for you, didn’t even think you would come. But the ice had maybe made me numb“
“Now, I sit here. You sit there”
“While strangers all come up in a line to ask you, ‘How’s your pain?’, and then try to cop a feel through the silk, reminding me of another day, another fire; the same slicing sounds of wails and chants, the fading-pervading scent of incense and the wilted yellow marigolds”
The smoke of the candle
had barely found the time
to melt into thin air
before her side of the bed
started to turn cold.
When she sang “love emerges
and it disappears” did she
want to teach me all about
the candle, the hot wax, the smoke
and the cold side of the bed
or was she gently telling me
that it was time for her to go?
Either way, that it was me
who put the candle out
is a riddle even to myself.
Will we ever light it up again?
All I know now is that love can
be found in the presence of an absence:
I can still feel that warmth through this cold,
still see that fire through this smoke.
Genuine Fake (143)
Lightning strikes; the match ignites,
A bunch of perfect crystal leaves
And as the bong gently heaves,
My mind, it sluggishly excites.
Inhale. She’s moving up slowly.
Embracing my mind coyly,
Making her way to my nerve,
Toying with it, making me swerve.
Exhale. There goes my cloud of smoke.
Ahh, what a feeling it evokes!
Exhale. I move into oblivion,
Welcoming the indifference I’ve long craven.
Lightning strikes; now it’s dark,
The room however needs no spark,
Cos I leave the world that consumes me,
While entering one where they let me be.
There is happiness in the air,
With no doubt or despair,
I am surrounded by smiles, so bare;
That it feels like someplace elsewhere.
The air resounds laughter,
And I feel numb yet quare,
There is no sad thought to spare,
Cos this is my night…my night without care.
There I was standing, with torn denims & glares
A Honda I rode, managed to steal some stares
The girls came & I knew, I had to be the best
Rings of smoke, made me feel better than the rest
Then there was college, all were to be engineers
To come to the top was the only dare.
Got married to the girl of my dreams,
Had twins, got us a brand new Mercedes.
Then strove harder to pass the test
Rings of smoke, made me feel better than the rest
Here I am, alone waiting for her to come
To take me in her arms, to the father of the world
Vows of marriage where being broken by me
The girls had tears & I was only forty
The cancer had spread; doctor’s said they would do their best
Rings of smoke had finally put me to rest.
The street was empty and silent,
Though all decked up, for a festival I guess.
The silence was like a storm was due,
Or maybe one had already passed through.
The complete landscape was weird,
The lights, the food; not a single soul in view.
This would have been scary otherwise,
But of late, weird was rarely new.
The houses on the sides were similar,
Except one at the end of the road.
I went up to it; saw a stone angel by the door,
The nameplate read ‘Heavenly Abode!’
I puffed on my pipe and turned,
The food had gone, the lights were out.
Heard a voice behind me say,
‘You are dead. That’s what it’s all about.’
‘And how did I die exactly?’ I chuckled,
Puffed on my pipe but started to choke,
The stone figure replied coldly,
‘You just didn’t know when you had enough to smoke.’
Tale Twister (119)
He woke up from his power nap and checked the time.
12 am! Time to resume work!
As a freelance graphic designer this was his big chance.
The money was less, but the NGO was famous.
One successful campaign and he will be flooded with offers.
His mind wasn’t working, he needed a kick.
He lit a Marlboro and stared again at the screen.
With each drag his mind worked faster.
Another drag, as he kept working with his mouse in CorelDraw.
Just a final touch required. He took the last drag of his cigarette.
Without a cig, it would have being unable to complete this task.
The ad on “Quit Smoking” got ready just an hour before deadline.
Mr. B. Reeves
He was privately fearful of hazarding an exit from anywhere I thought he belonged. Emotions were accidental. Depending on the weather, he caned them into expression.
The news crash landed. Half–split, semi clad .Feelings began to facilitate and apportion themselves in tiny dim sums. He diarized events and regained a respectfully cumulative face. It was an average of all superlative fiascoes.
What did he want to be when I grew up? Tall. Taller. It was arduous .Reading post-it conversations glued on rusty refrigerators. We grew old, simultaneously. In albums.
We knew her from the forms we filled up.
Word evasion got him acquainted with nods and nudges. Occasionally I wrote a postcard. Stubbed a cigarette.
You talkin’ to me. Who are you, Travis now? Don’t you have to wear black? Hundred and fifty bucks to the cremat…tell the cabbie to take the shortcut. You’ll save time.
This musty sweet smell of tobacco always reminds me of him. Cigarette and Dad seemed ‘made for each other’. I had always persuaded him to quit, but every time he reasoned, “Sonny, it soothes my nerves. You will not understand the kinda pressure I handle.” He was the MD of a big construction company. “Dad, you can try Yoga. You know cigarette’s cancerous.” “OK I’ll quit when you get selected to the Medical College.”
He kept his promise. He never touched a cigarette since the day my pre-medical result came. He passed away two years later. Massive brain hemorrhage, we were told. That’s twenty years ago, but even today, this musty sweet smell of tobacco reminds me of him.
A piece of heaven: Kashmir
Long ago when god created the magnificent earth,
A piece of paradise in it, he wanted to insert.
Snow clad mountains, crystal clear lakes,
The valley of flowers, a painting no one could ever make.
Then one day, Satan had to cast his spell,
Everything changed, heaven transformed into hell.
Harmony & peace, were the things of the past,
Tanks & bullets, the war was here to last.
The pinkness of the cheeks was replaced by the color red,
Murders & rapes left a thousand dead.
The seeds of hatred were long sown by men with power,
We followed blindly, building boundaries on flowers.
Time to wake up, from our hibernation,
Make the creator proud of his creation.
Let us wipe the smoke of hatred & fear, the time is right to come together
& once again make the valley, heaven on earth forever.
They were destined to meet some day
Just for one short instant.
They were born to meet this way
Though their origins were distant;
One fine evening, amid a misty plane.
Poised, the White Knight came forth and embraced.
The lean Princess arose with a tiara aflame.
And their lips met for a scarlet exchange.
Flares of passion flew as she was sparked.
He burnt along as he surrendered to her charm;
For a second or two, and she was done and gone.
But in her loving memory to smithereens he turned.
In a while, he too laid his life.
And their immortal selves arose, entwined, up in smoke.
Here ends the quick love chronicle
Of a matchstick and tobacco rolled in paper.
Last strike of mine…
armored to the soul… I jumped…
There was smoke everywhere,
Flames shooting out of the building,
Plane crashing above me,
No choice but to give up,
my last strike was no more than a living victim,
to the dark dense smoke…
a day later….
As a dead soul,
I was still over my corpse burnt to dust,
I could not weep, I was dead..
but I stared at my burnt body,
The death that was planned to speak out,
lay meaning less…
my last step… unsuccessful…
my last letter … burnt to ash..
I did not weep, I stared..
and vanished into the smoke,
That stole my identity,
The smoke dark and dense…
That unifying smoke when stomach is the venue
and everybody gathers home for a barbeque
On a romantic date, that bustling sizzling smoke
And the following emotions that evoke
The cancerous smoke that transports to one’s body
Carried forward from a circle of friends, unfaithful and shoddy
The irresponsible smoke from the chimneys that pollutes the air
And the mischievous smoke from a fuelling argument, that isn’t always fair
The aromatic smoke from the kitchen
Yummy!! Especially Mother’s signature smoked chicken
The benevolent smoke from the fire that gives out warmth
Invigorates the senses, soothes like a balm
The smoke and its myriad hues
So, which one will you choose?
“What if, one day, you could find Aladdin’s Lamp under your bed? Or another day, you fail to see your reflection in the mirror. But either ways, it’ll prove that you are a smokescreen of yourself.”
“Bullshit!” he mumbled, sipping his whiskey, discarding the ominous note under his table. Clearly, a man of actions, not words. Concentrating on the sting, set up at this bar; dingy, moldy, full of the grey mist that enveloped the same venue some 20 years back.
Remembering how he helped smoke out a mole in the police department, he felt proud, as if cleaning the dirt of the society. But how did he transform into his evil reflection?
Waiting for his nemesis, he caught a glimpse of the Aladdin’s Lamp, lurking around. Suddenly, his greed filled his memories, nostrils choked with gunpowder smoke and his still-born eyes reflected his enemy, his partner, the mole.
Nandini Sen (150)
Sameer lit up a cigarette. He watched the small white rings emanating from the glowering cig, slowly forming fleeting figures, before dissipating into nothingness.
He thought “That’s what is news. Fire raging within and without, which enveloped everyone with this vague white gaseous thing. We didn’t start the fire said the politicians, the social activists the leader, the society. But the fire of poverty raged for the farmers, fire of greed for the politicians, fire of ambition for the businessman, fire of recognition for the student. And this potion of poverty, greed, ambition, recognition created that same white, opaque, gaseous thing which enveloped all, making each oblivious to society’s plight.”
Wryly Sameer thought “how else could I keep reporting murders, suicides, building of unlawful wealth, arrests, and yet unable to shake the society’s blindness. The times and ages had hardened the smokescreens we put up for ourselves, and against ourselves”