Thursday, September 07, 2006

trudging

And so they walked.

Step after painful step, like the minute arm of a broken clock slowly losing time, they walked. The desert heat scorched them, yet they encouraged each other on - patting backs, shifting bags, coaxing every next step out of each other. They knew their supplies were dwindling - there was no food, there was no water. The bags were empty. The bags were meals.

And they walked.

Their wanderings left footprints in the sand that lasted only a few hours. The wind then erased them and the desert looked untouched again. Makes you wonder if any of them noticed that it was a lot like their lives (our lives).. and that the wind was about to erase their footprints. No, I don't think they knew. All they knew was thirst, exhaustion, and the pain of their lips cracking and their skin going crisp.

And they walked.

They gave new meaning to the "dropping like flies" phrase.. their numbers dwindling as more and more succumbed to the unforgiving desert. And they tried not to count how many were being left behind. Some of them called to God, but only some. Only some.

And they walked.

And they couldn't recognize each other anymore. Their faces had been burnt away by the blazing sun. Sun-dried walking corpses. No, they couldn't tell who was who. Expressionless, skin-less faces not even turning to look over their shoulders. They couldnt. They were barely walking. Names, habits, scars all burnt to show the white bone beneath.

And the flies kept dropping. And they rest kept walking. Walking to the horizon, where the sun met the dunes and where the last two finally found solace. In death.

There are things far worse than dieing.

"I swear I saw the devil in an empty glass of Hennessey"

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Choices

The old man looked up again and stared at the boy. It was remarkable, the acquiline face, the little nose. Something inside the old man woke up . the Hunger had begun. The boy sat on the stone bench and ate the sandwich his father had made him, staring straight ahead at some pigeons, painfully aware of the old man who watched him. The boy was praying. Praying to a nameless god. Telling the deity that he should have gone to school, that he shouldnt be in the park so early in the morning when no one was around.

The old man walked up slowly to the boy and sat next to him. He continued staring at him, while the boy visibly stiffened. Finally the old man spoke up "Good morning , son" . The Boy looked up at the stranger, and noticed how there were beads of sweat on the man's forehead. How his eyes had a faint dazed look in them. He was growing scared and yet he could not move. In retrospect he would wonder why he never got up and ran.

The boy replied "Good morning" and lowered his head, looking at the ground, the sandwich in his hand long forgotten. The old man smiled "What are you doing in the park so early on a Sunday?" The boy looked up a little confused and murmured "Today's Wednesday" The old man shivered a little. There was silence around them, the little boy now quite scared, and the old man battling a demon that wouldn't rest. Finally he looked at the boy and whispered 'I can't help it, it eats me from inside. They said it was because of a similar experience as a boy" But I dont remember much of it now, memories from my youth have lost their place. I remember prison, the courts, the people who wanted me dead. But most of all, I remember the pleasure, the warmth of being with someone. The feeling of satisfaction later." The boy remained silent.

The old man touched his hair," so soft, mmmmm" but stopped suddenly. He looked at the boy again, and asked him "What is your name?". The boy replied "Daniel". The old man stared in silence and asked him "Your mother, she's not there anymore, is she?" , The boy looked into the old man's eyes and nodded. The old man stood up slowly. There were tears in his eyes, tears that flowed freely. "I'm so sorry, so very sorry." The boy felt something in the man's voice, a pain, one that had lasted years. That, coupled with his fears brought tears to his eyes too, he wanted to be home.

Finally the old man turned, weary and silent. He never said goodbye, he just walked away. That morning, an old man had found his redemption, and a little boy would never face his demons.

Friday, July 07, 2006

faith

All his friends just asked for toys. Darth Vader toys and Barbies. Scooters and skateboards and doll houses. At 7, that’s what he should have asked for too.

Its night, and it’s cold and he is snuggling up in his blankie. Mom tucks him in and kisses his forehead.

“Now be a good boy and shut those eyes. You have school in the morning”. And she leaves him. But he isn’t being a good boy – he is looking out the window to the many many stars. Simba said that they were the great kings of the past. He liked that better than what Timon said (fireflies) or Pumba did (balls of gas?? No way!!).

And there amongst all the sparkling little dots he finds the brightest firefly, the biggest king – and he gets an idea.

Shuffling quickly out of bed, he gets to his knees by the bedside. A little frightened he is that mom would come back to check on him, but she never comes back so quickly, so he knows he is safe. Besides, this is important. It always is in the movies and cartoons. The good children always pray. Maybe he IS being a good boy after all. Maybe mom just doesn’t understand.

Shutting his eyes, drowning out all the bad thoughts of the day he prays to that Great King. He prays vehemently, his little hands clenched in fists, his body stiff with concentration. He shivers a little because of the cold, but his fledgling belief keeps him steady in his prayer.

Mumbling out his sincerity and his hopes, he ends with a little praise – promising his new deity that he will be the bestest good boy on the planet if The King accepts his prayer. Unable to mask his childish and pure expectance he looks up again to the shining light in reverence.

A n d t h e s p a r k l i n g l i g h t g o e s o u t

-x-

“All systems are go, Captain”, says the Lieutenant – nodding to the man in charge.

The captain takes one last sweep of the cockpit, and briefly shuts his weary eyes. It’d been a long day. “Alright, I’m going to get some shut-eye. We have a lot of tests to run tomorrow. Keep us in orbit and turn off all unnecessary auxiliary power. We won’t need the lights out here in space either. It’s not like a drunken spacecraft pilot will crash into us. I hope they’re having fun on the ground.”

The Lieutenant grins, and offers a small salute as the Captain wanders off to his quarters.

Reaching out, he flips a switch and the outer hull of the craft goes dark leaving only the soft glow of the many switches and screens in the cockpit.

-x-

Stunned he slowly rises, dully aware of the pain in his knees – but his eyes fixated on the spot where the Great King was just moments ago. Tears brim in his young eyes as he wonders why… confused, and shattered he climbs into bed and forces himself into a troubled sleep… wondering why… wondering if he had killed the Great King (but he was already dead..!), wondering if the firefly had finally burnt out (were fireflies like matches Dad lights his cigars with?)… wondering if that meant his prayers were not accepted… wondering if that meant he should never have fucking asked in the first place.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

paying his last respects

It was raining hard again. He remembered the last time it was raining this hard, but decided not to delve into those memories. He always hated things like that - recollections, pictures, 'trips down memory lane'.. didn't know why though.

Well, actually he did. Because he just didn't like memories. Even at his age, he had come to despise so much. He blamed television and the news in general for his disillusionment

"Just like every other cynic" he thought dully.

But not really.. he knew it was a lot more than that. He knew it was a lot deeper. Vaguely, he wondered if every other cynic knew the same.

The droplets came pelting down like a thousand tiny bullets, drenching the sombre gathering. It was an unusal turn up at the graveyard. The sleep of the dead was disturbed though not by the surprising number of black-adorned men and women, standing in the pouring rain with their umbrellas - braving the weather.. no, the distubance was more of a buzz. They were excited because another was joining, being put into the earth. A young one at that - just 24! Atleast he thought they were waiting for the dead one - for his friend, for his worst enemy, for the person he begrudgingly grew up with, for the person he thought he'd die with.

Under the heavy, cloudy sky - ignoring all those around him... all these people that came to say good-bye to their 'beloved' - he knelt by the grave. He was dimly aware of R reading out the eulogy but ignored it - gazing intently on the Dead One's face. Still. Peaceful. Peaceful? You could never tell with Him - the bastard was a scorpio. Looks usually were decieving with him. Yet there he lay in His black suit, not breathing. And he just kept staring at His face for a while - disconnected, flooded with emotion - anger, hatred, admiration, even a little envy.

"..and he was handsome - everyone called him that.. even the kids.."

"No you weren't, you ugly bastard. You were ugly. Even on the inside.. inside you were ugly like me." he said with a choked whisper, wondering if the Dead One could hear him.

"..a lively person that went around making freinds, making everyone happy.."

"Happy? you don't even know how much grief you have caused. You and I can't even begin to measure how many people we have made miserable over the course of your fuck-up of a life." leaning in closer, bringing his lips to the corpse's ears.

The rain came down even harder, and he was completely soaked - dripping wet - yet he didn't feel it. Didn't feel wet at all, didn't even feel those drops splashing rudely against him.

"..a great brother, a wonderful son, the perfect friend - always understanding, always supportive.."

"Thats rich.. supportive? Understanding? You selfish little shit - if only these people knew you like I did. But now they never will get to.. thank god for that! Thank him personally for me."

The women sobbed respectfully, the men shuffled their feet - everyone now hoping R would just finish so they could get the fucking hell out of the rain. Finally R did - and with a sigh, scooped up a handful of the freshly dug mud and tossed it onto the coffin. This is when he realised it was finally happening. Looking up at R for a second - registering the pained, broken look in the man's eyes he turned back to the grave.. the lid shut now, Dead One's face completely shut from the world.

He remained at the graveside as more and more people tossed their handful of dirt onto the filling-up grave - some stepping right through him as they shuffled to stand by the graveside - others just flinging the rich earth right through him.. his eyes fixed on the spot where His face was moments ago. And thus He was buried, the darkness in the grave increasing with each handful, in an increasingly big mound of dirt and sand and rubbish.. a befitting destiny for you, he thought. And the rest of us.

Long after everyone else had left he just sat there alone, staring at the gravestone. Rising, he dusted himself off, mumbling something about people's audacity to shovel dirt right through him - fuck, didn't they think they'd fuck-up my suit? Assholes.

Straightening, he spit loudly onto the fresh grave - there.. paid you my last respects, you fuck. He looked up at the sky wiping his chin, and was pretty sure in all 24 years of his life he had never seen a sky so dark. Shaking his head, he wandered aimlessly out of the graveyard leaving Himself buried alone - the darkness increasing with each step he took just like my grave did.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

i miss you when you're here

Silence.

It's that time of day when the electric lamps across the streets and in the many segragated houses are yet to light up - but the sky has already dimmed. She stands by the window, smoking and staring quietly.

He sits at a small dining table in the center of the room... watching her watch nothing.

"Why do you come here?" he asks her.

"I miss you when I'm gone." her first words.

"I miss you when you're here." is his reply.

"And yet you ask me to come back?"

He rises slowly, making his way over to the window - by her side - and looks out to the dark, cold city. Slowly, he turns to face her, something tugging at his heart, and says quietly "How could I not?" He reaches for her shoulder - pauses as if conflicted - withdraws his hand - then reaches out again letting his fingers pass through her ephemeral body which shimmers in the wake of this slight gesture.

"Why do you do that? You know we can't touch.."

"Yes, I do.. but I don't - can't - believe it.. still.." comes the anguished reponse.

She turns from the window, facing him finally, looking into his eyes and says "Im sorry, I don't mean for this to hurt you. I..." and as the moonlight spills into the room, her whispered words dry up. In the growing silence she walks through the wall into the gloom as he watches her from the window.

Watches her fading away - like the smoke from the cigarette - to invisibility.

Monday, February 06, 2006

on life and the darkness within

"Melancholy. As any Elizabethan could tell you if they all weren't dead, melancholy is a far richer and more complex ailment than simple depression. There is a generous amplitude of possibility, chances for productive behavior, even what may be identified as a sense of humor. . . . Humor in these conditions leans toward the anti-transcendent -- like jail humor and military and rodeo humor, it finds high amusement in failure and loss, and it celebrates survival one day, one disaster, to the next."


"What happened?" "Why are you always depressed?" "Did she say something?" "Is everything okay?" "Oh come on - don't be sad, it was just a game" "Having a bad day?" "Is he being an asshole again?"

Right - first, let's get our terms straight. For simplicity's sake, we can order the blues into three general categories of increasing severity:
(1) "sadness," which is the short-term grief one feels after a loss,
(2) "melancholy," which is a long-term state of being characterized by pensive reflection, sometimes accompanied by wistfulness, sadness and even gloom, and
(3) "depression," which is a disorder that strips all pleasure and initiative from one's mind, replacing it with a monochromatic anhedonic stasis.

Sadness usually has a specific cause. Sadness is temporary, "fixed" by the passage of time. Sometimes you can fix sadness by replacing what was lost.

Depression pretty much has a specific cause as well -- something in the brain chemistry gets fuckered in a seriously wrong way. Depression can be fixed through medication, may be fixable by the passage of time, and (according to therapists) can be fixed by therapy.

Melancholy does not have a specific cause. It also cannot be fixed. Even if it could be fixed, if you are melancholic, chances are you wouldn't want it fixed.

If you're melancholic, you don't understand the need to "Have a Nice Day!" You simply don't smile on command. You're never giddy. You're not a fucking cheerleader for anything. You value introspection over sensation. You flatter yourself that you see the world with a clear-eyed, unstinting, shit-and-sunshine vision. Although you think of yourself as pretty balanced, seeing both the good and the bad, the "shiny happy people" think you're just fucking gloomy and listen to Linkin Park while staring at a razorblade (The depressed people might think of you as a crazy optimist, but they're usually too lost in their own problems to notice you or anyone else.)

When you're melancholic, people ask you "what's wrong?" and try to cheer you up, not realizing that nothing's wrong, that's just the way you are. You're allergic to cheer for cheer's sake. When you're melancholic, your lack of unbridled enthusiasm will be interpreted as a bad attitude. When you're melancholic, people will assume you're depressed, ignoring the fact that you manage to experience a wide range of emotions, you manage to see the humor in life, and you manage to stay productive, all while being followed about by your own personal black rain cloud. That's quite a fucking feat, let me tell you.

Another tidbit - the funniest people I know are invariably the most melancholic people I know. Something about blending the sunny light with the gathering dark produces that skewed take on life we call "humor." Happy people and depressed people are rarely funny people.

At root, a melancholic temperament seems the logical next step after one's youthful optimism is jaded by the cares, responsibilities and hard-learned lessons of adulthood. One can face one's losses, and one's mortality, with happy denial, with melancholic serenity
or with depressed paralysis.

So to end this missive... if I were melancholic, chances are it my melancholy would be with me for much of my life - and it wouldn't be due to any external cause like an argument, or an election result. If I were melancholic, the outcome of a conversation or the result of a cricket match wouldn't do much to cheer me up, or let me down. If I were melancholic, I'd be living a life without illusions (or delusions) that get inflated when "a" happens, or deflated when "b" does.

IF I were melancholic, that is...