Saturday, November 9

A little chat with the Bartender

"You look thirsty," he says.

"Your worst. Bitter. Rough. Strong."

"Cheap ale, I assume," he says as he pours it correctly.

He drops a glance at my indifference. I accept it with a make believe smile. Obviously, see through.

"Somethings are more disgraceful than a wrongly poured ale," he starts. I nod. To which he leaned with stance of a true barman, "what's botherin' ya?"

"It's a night alone."

"Well," he says moving back, "nothing wrong with that."

"No?... no!" I say shaking my head. "Just you're with what you don't want, want what you don't have... y'know..." I let my voice trail off. "I just want," I take a deep breath, a sip of that drink, about five seconds, "something that puts me to sleep the moment I hit the bed, and something bitter to make me forget that I'm alone."

He allows a momentary silence, listening it as if he's been there.

I'm not botherin' him really. I take that down in a single gulp. And there, I stop to ask, "how much?"

"Take that on the house," he says.

I raise a toast to him. This thing is really strong.

"You, a rookie?" he asks.

"First time alcoholic."

"That calls for one pint water, two pints paracetamol." I nod. Sure. Paracetamol. I eat that before food. What I could use is a decent smoke. There's a jukebox in the corner, playin' my song. One more night... Phil Collins.  "Like a river to the sea" and here I am....

I'm fucking missing you.

Monday, May 27

An Experiment...

When I was reading League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, I got an idea. I hope they don't sue me for this. Presenting yours faithfully's second person narrative, with all due apologies to Duforts, Elisa, H. G. Wells, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and fathers, mothers and others of SteamPunk. #GoingToHellForThis.

Madam Dufort sits sipping her tea. Oh yes! She sips tea. She likes green tea. It is indeed very becoming of the rich folk, and I daresay, madam Dufort drinks tea because she is rich. She doesn't like the taste, the poor rich madam wants regular Earl Grey with more creamery, but no. Green tea is more becoming of the rich folk.

"Elisa," she calls to you in her strong voice, chiseled with nicotine vapours from her silver holder and chipped with her medication.

You walk without making a sound. Some unrest makes you feel that your apron is tightening around your waist. You hold your hands together, bow your head in a courtesy, and not utter a word. It is improper of you to speak, when you are not expected to talk.

"Elisa, I want you to prepare my ink and quill for the letter I am to write to Sir Hill," she takes a pause sips her tea. Oh, don't look up! She doesn't like you meeting her eye. "Also, tell Smith that Mrs. Fonde will be paying us a visit."

"Yes, Madam," you say.

You are aware of madam Dufort's eye for detail. That's why you keep your dress as grey as it is supposed to be and bleach your apron and headrest whenever you have a chance. "And Elisa," she says, "did you wipe your hands with your apron again while cleaning the book case?"

Oh dear! Madam told you she likes uniform to be proper. "Yes madam," you confess. A good servant must be honest, Elisa. And you are good, aren't you? God save you!

"Well, Madam Fonde might not find it graceful. Tell Smith his orders, and you brush that up, clear?"

"Yes, madam," you say, clearing up the tea tray. You make your way past the halls, trying to remember what day it is. And your gaze wanders outside. Sir Samuel is practicing archery. Aye, that does feel something, doesn't it, Elisa? Had you been not a servant, how blessed would it be?

"How blessed would it be, dear Elisa?" you hear a voice call out from behind you. You turn around to address it. "How very blessed would it be?"

"Who is it?" you say turning behind you.

"You obviously don't know me Elisa," calls out the voice. Oh, it is so very near, yet you cannot see.

"Well, are you man, God or beast?" ah, dear Elisa, too late to hold your tongue, aren't you?

"Ha-ha-ha!" he laughs! "Oh, simple servant girls know not what to say! That's so very dear of you, sweet Elisa. Yet, you know not who I am?"

"Bless you, no! I cannot even see you, how can I recognise you if I don't see you?" now, when did you last talk to voices with no face?

"C'est moi, Elisa. You may refer to me as, 'that man' or 'shadow' or 'the unseen'... haven't you heard of me ever?"

The unseen... is it? "Professor Griffin?" your eyes light up. The lesson in sciences when you still had a family... oh how could you forget your own teacher?

"Yes, dear child, it is I," he says, "but you haven't really fared well, I see."

"Elisa," a voice calls you from a distance. It is Mr. Smith, the butler.

"I shall talk to you later," says the voice.

Smith comes to you, "are you alright?" you nod to the old butler's concern.

"The Madam wants me to inform you of Madam Fonde's arrival this evening, and I must go and prepare her ink and quill. She is to write a letter to Sir Hill." You say as you go past him, through the great hall to the study. Sharpening the quill, and preparing the ink solutions, you let thoughts go in your head. What is your professor doing here? After faking his murder, the poor gent was given immortality by Gabriel. And how he convinced your father to train you in pagan sciences... and how your approach became so very unlike a true Victorian Christian. Dear! You did read the fate of Hyptia, now, didn't you? You wouldn't be her! That is why you agreed on serving the rich when your family died in an accident along with your teacher. Isn't it? Oh, the immortal can never die, Elisa, professor might have survived. And he managed to find you here!

There ought to be more of his allies around, of course. It is unlikely of him to... "Elisa," you here his voice again.

"Yes, professor?" you say. The part of your instinct so trained and thorough in warfare speaks.

"Whatever became of you, dear?"

"Oh, professor, Lord knows what has happened!" you cannot refrain from the pain it brings, good Elisa, "the fire 'twas! The fire that consumed mother, father, brother, Margarette, Heffer, you! Oh, professor... the fire 'twas that burned my life down!"

"Now now," says Griffin putting his hand on your shoulder, "I was there when it happened, and it was no fire, I tell you."

"But the estate was down to ashes!" you say.

"Elisa, the estate was burnt, yes. But your family's burial was ensured in Pagan tradition by me, I swear! Oh, no good, no good! They were murdered Elisa, and I tried to save your father, but the bullet passed through me... I couldn't stop it, though I tried! The black veiled isn't distracted, and I saw the Bearer leave. And when he set the estate on fire, I knew I had to escape! I did the best possible preparation for the corpses to go to heaven, Elisa. Lord knows they rest in peace."

You shed a tear. You can't help it. "But that doesn't answer my question, dear girl," he says.

"Elisa," calls a caustic voice, Madam Dufort. The ink is ready, the quill is chipped, you wipe your tears and straighten your face. "Ah, it is ready! You've even laid out fine paper!" you drop a glance at it. Surely the professor did it, "thankyou, dear. Bless you!" says madam Dufort as she sits to write. You drop a courtesy and leave.

Though royal parentage, you are a servant now, Elisa. You deal with truth as you've learnt from your teacher.

You make your way to servant quarters, now you must change your apron. "God, they make you walk so much!" says the voice behind you.

"I wouldn't complain, professor. Just like you taught me to."

"Very well. Now tell me..."

"The Duforts are Christian like everyone in this town, professor. We dislike them, truly. But without a family, and being too proud to beg, I went to the older estate in Gastonbury, only to learn that it has been forcefully acquired by the extremists who survived the Third War. I couldn't fight them with nothing in my hands, professor. I went to Belgium to master all that I could about dynamics and motion. And I did fare better than what they could ever expect. But my pagan identity was revealed and I fled back home to safety. The Duforts were looking for a servant, when they hired me. And one day, Smith recognised me for who I am. Without the surname, sir, I'm as good as any servant named Elisa. I do need someone to prove my identity."

"So you do, dear child, so you do," he says comforting you. "But what if they discover it?"

"Oh no, I cannot handle another war... I would move to somewhere again, of course!"

"But that's no good, is it, dear?" says Professor Griffin.


Monday, May 20

An Evening Walk

Ever been out on a lovely monsoon evening? I'm quite sure you must have, everyone loves monsoon here. Especially yours faithfully.

By the way, hello! Hope all's well, and yes, c'est moi! Missed me?

Winds blow.
Aye, five pm, lovely evening with the sun has hidden behind the clouds- which have now darkened to shades beyond black and tinted in gold. It is the Gods of caprice that chose to keep it so, and it be Ye, Gods, bless us under Your darkness, which never fails to show us the needed light. 
Winds blow.
I already regret cutting my long black hair years ago. I miss tying them up in a braid to keep them off my face for a longer while. I don't know why, but though I'm quite disinterested in fashion, the hairdresser claims it to be 90's of the latest fashion, and his idea of a so-totally-you look. Somehow it convinces me; the present length, being to my shoulders. 
Winds blow. 
The sweet scent of laburnum flowers, and some out-of-season Gulmohar comes from the nearest trees. It's quite funny really, that these flowers bloom in the most beautiful scent and shape, yet they wilt while you carry them home. I have had better successes with carnations. And roses. And... 
Winds blow. 
Ripples are created in that puddle under that bench. Over the bench, the sleeping figure doesn't even shudder in response. Poverty has failed to sadden me, now. It's a part of them, and their society, which in turn, is a part of mine. We care to mutually, agree to not understand, and leave it to that. That's about it. 
Winds blow. 
And burns brighter the lamps in the Sai Sandhya nearby. A beautiful un-electronic (thankfully) evening of music, devotion, and elevation of a fakir to a king. God bless them, for they are simple folk. Bless them, for they are full of love. Bless them, for they hold affections for Him. 
Winds blow.
Children run wild after a fallen guava, fighting to keep it. And as I sit and smile at distance, associating myself with that skinny girl who is more than willing to fight all these goofs off for the magic fruit (though that practically never happens). Some mockery, some giggles, a nose reddened in rage. They let her keep it none-the-less, mainly out of sisterly/ friendly affection. 
Winds blow. 
A light appears from the clouds. I count the seconds to an approximate figure. Five. The nearest thunderstorm is approximately 1.7 km away. I apply that one principle I learnt in fifth grade: speed of sound is 343 m/s in air. Multiplying the time difference between sighting of the storm and sound with the speed ought to give you a rough distance. 
Winds stop. 
A drizzle starts.
Light at first.
And it soon gains momentum. 
The children play in the rain, doing their silly dance, getting drenched, as their mothers call out to them. I hear them in a distance now. 
The devouts in the Mandir take it for a blessing. The Masjid nearby calls out for Aazan as well. A scent comes from Gurudwara, the smell of langar. 
I'm blessed. Right now, humanity has joined hands to thank Gods for the blessing called rain, as a summer shower cools down our ego; my unsuited haircut. 
Torrents blow.