Sunday, August 19, 2007

Devil's Chronicles: Epiloque

The priest walked towards the confession booth. The mass was over and there were no worshippers in the pew.

The priest took his seat and closed the door. He flicked on the overhead dim light. He heard the door opening on the other side , followed by the faint click of the door closing. He heard the creak of the wooden kneeling board.

He heard the husky female voice, very breathy say :' Forgive me father, for you have sinned.'

He smiled at the mistake and opened the sliding window.

His smile froze on his face when he saw me.

I personally thought I was looking rather hot. My hair was brunette, wavy. My lips was painted red. I wore a simple black dress with a black lace shawl wrapped around my shoulder ,covering the curves of my ample breasts .After all, the place demanded a certain decorum.

'Its you,' he whispered, recoqnizing me ' and you are a woman'

'Yes' I sneered, my lips curling into a smile,' perhaps you would have preferred a nine year old altar boy?'

I watched the blood drain from his face.

I know a good soul when I see one.

I smiled.

Outside a storm was gathering.

Devil's Chronicles : Chapter 12

I walked .

The reddish golden sands burned under my feet.

The heat from the overhead desert sun, beat down on me. I felt the overpowering human sense of thirst. I focused on that feeling. My mouth was dry and my tongue felt swollen .

Why do they do this?

Its what they want.

Why this need to limit themselves? To enslave themselves? To understand themselves through mortal flesh and faulty senses?

Its how they want it.

Why are you being dragged into all this?

Because they have chose to forget in order to remember.

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She sat by his side. His broken body was dwarfed by the machines around him, sustaining his flicker of life.His breathing sounded magnified by the ventilator.

She sat by his side. Holding his tiny hands in her palm. There were no more tears. There was only a coldness towards the inevitable conclusion she knew will unfold.

She felt her husband's presence behind her. She did not turn.

' The lawyer is here ; again' He said softly. His eyes swam over his son.He turned away. Unable to look without the fury blinding him.

She nodded.

' What do we say to him?' He asked. His hand rested on her right shoulder.

' What we had decided.' She replied in a voice barely audible. She let her face tilt and rest on the top of his hands. He moved closer to her.

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He shared the cell with 12 other prisoners. The cell had concrete beds built on to the three walls. There were no segregation according to the crimes they had committed. He sat on his bunk. They had shaved his head on the second day of his detention.

The Shariah law gave him 15 years imprisonment and Dirhams 30,000 as blood money, which will earn him another 5 years more upon failure to pay.

The court appointed lawyer had appealed.

He knew that he looked forward to about 20 years in prison and a deportation upon completion of his sentence. His life was over. His wife. His family. Over.

He bowed his head and prayed that the child lives. He accepted his situation with a calmness that he didnt know was capable by him. He only wanted the child to live.

He heard the cell doors being opened.

The jail warden called out to him in Arabic and gestured him to come outside.

He got up. Nervous . The Arabic language seemed crude and incomprehensible to his hears. He feared the worst. Whatever that was.

The warden locked the bars behind him. He stood there, watching.

'Yalah habibi, yalah' (Hurry my friend, hurry) the warden barked , gently pushing him on his shoulder.

He turned to look at the warden, frightened , when they reached the wardens room. The lawyer was sitting on the chair opposite the large wooden desk. The lawyer stood as they entered.

'Mubarak Habibi', the warden said, as he patted him on his shoulder.

'You have been pardoned by the parents.' the lawyer interjected,' They have requested the court to let you go. They have not pressed any charges. You are free to go.'

He looked at the lawyer, his eyes brimming with tears of gratitude.

' So,the child is safe.' He asked

' No, he died last night, a little after they signed the pardon statement' The lawyer answered.

Velayudan Siva Shankaran walked out of the prison a free man. As free as any man in his situation.


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The sun beat down on me.

The head scarf I wore offered me no respite. I felt His burning touch on my cheek.

How long will you go on, my friend?

Until I understand.

What dont you understand?

They are a fickle race. They can never return.

You are wrong my friend. They always return. You have to have more faith in them.

They need You?

No. They do not need me. My existence is not dependent on their belief in me.They dwell upon me due to their fears, that their self imposed limitations have generated.

For what purpose is this silly game?

To be me, my friend.

A cool gust of wind swept over me. The sky darkened with grey clouds.

Then it rained.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Devil's Chronicle : Chapter 11

She got and opened the door.

A man stood outside. He was partially drenched by the rain. In one hand he held a dripping umbrella , folded, which he was shaking and in the other he held a 3 tier tiffin box, which remained miraculously dry, without a spot of rain on it.

'Velayudan' She addressed him,'You should have at least waited untill it stopped raining.' She took the tiffin box from his hand ' Come in.'

Velayudan remained at the door step.He shook his head in negation and said, 'Its okay, chechi. Meenu had the tiffin packed and I thought I will get it to you before it became cold. She told me to tell you that she has put in two pieces of fried sardines also.'

She smiled at the middle aged man who perhaps was older than her, yet called her chechi.

She came back into the room to place the tiffin on top of the table in front of me. ' You should tell her thanks from my side' she spoke loudly , so that Velayudan could hear outside.'You are really going out of the way. I have told you hundred times that I can manage to cook for myself. This is too much. At least let me pay you for the supplies'

She knew that Velayudan will not take her money. She has tried many times before.

Velayudan did not speak. He too has heard this lamentation too many times before.

'Chechi, who were you speaking to?' he asked, changing the topic and leaning inside to take a peak inside to see the visitor.

She turned around. She saw Velayudan looking at were Iam sitting. She saw that Velayudan could not perceive me. I smiled at her.

She walked towards the door. Velayudan retreated.' Nobody, you must have imagined it.'

'I heard you speaking when I rang the door bell' said Velayudan timidly,'Must have been the radio or something'

She did not answer.

'Chechi?' Velayudan asked, worried ' is everything okay?'

'Everything is fine , Velayuda , everything is fine' She assured him. 'Tell Meenu that I will come by on the way to the way to the Orphanage and drop off the tiffin box'

'Ok chechi' he replied. He stepped out from the porch and opened the umbrella.

She watched his retreating figure until he reached the road and closed the gate behind him.

'He could not see you' She said as she sat opposite me.

' No , he could not' I replied.

' Are you real?' she asked,'or is all this just my imagination? Am I going crazy?'

' Iam as real as you want me to be' I assured her,'Iam not the result of a delusional mind but then again that would be exactly what I would have said if I was a figment of you imagination.'

' You are confusing me. Please stop that.' She said. She leaned forward and held her head in the palm of her hands.

I stood up and walked towards her. She sat there , cradling her head. I knelt before her and gently took her hands in mine. She looked up.

'I understand a little better now' I said. She looked into my eyes . Enquiring.

I released her hands and got up. I walked towards the door and opened it. Outside , it was dark. The rain was letting up. I could hear the dripping of its drops from the trees in her garden.

I stood outside. The gentle drizzle caressed my face and body. He touched me as a gentle breeze.

How long must I endure this , my lord?

Until you find me in your search, my friend.

She is beautiful.

Ah yes, my friend, they all are, as you shall find.

Not all.

The breeze died out.

I smiled at His silence.

But I do know a good soul when I see one , I whispered.

She was still sitting where I left her when I dispelled the will and dissipated the body.

Tomorrow Velayudan will find her in the same spot. He would have had to break open the door to reach her.

That night he will sit beside Meenu who lies on the bed sobbing. He will tell her how chechi was smiling when he found her. Then he will bury his head in the thin towel he clenches in his hand and cry uncontrollably.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Devil's Chronicle : Chapter 10

Why did I come back?

A question I keep asking myself.

'To understand' I said to her.

'To understand what?' she asked.

'What makes you so special? What made Him ask us, Ancients, to kneel before you?' I answered.

' You wanted to understand?' She roared, grabbing my collar,'Is that your justification? You played with my life, killed my son, so that you could understand?

‘I did nothing. Neither did He. You did it all’ I replied.

She stared at me, tears of frustration running down her cheek. I slowly released her clasps on my collar; never could stand being touched. She walked back towards her chair, sat heavily on it.

She sat in the darkness thus for a long time. I too made myself comfortable on my sofa and watched her.

‘ I asked for this?’ she asked me in a whisper.

‘Well, not asked, rather you wished it. When you ask, you let someone else become the doer.’

Sometimes I have noticed , putting you in a corner has its benefits. It brings you out. The actual you.

“ Why do your grieve death?” I asked.

“ Its not death I grieve for, its my child. He was taken away from me, I grieve for him. His misfortune of a life unfulfilled, the meaningless of his existence” She replied. “ moreover I grieve for me , The tearing away of a life I produced, the love I felt, the lack of his presence….the meaningless of my existence.”

I kept my silence. I have heard this for centuries, this yearning due to your clinging.

‘ His death has destroyed all that I have felt. My faith in a god who could do this, or rather a life which has no seeming purpose other than to be born and to die. I loath my being alive to experience this sorrow. I loath having to face another day and seeing everything going on as it was while my life is destroyed. I loath the teachings which tells me to accept it and to learn from it. How easy it seems for others to be objective about me pain and to offer me those empty words of condolences. How can anyone understand? Other than a mother? What sort of a god permits this pain to exist? What sort of god allows his children to go through this?’ she stopped.

She was not done. She continued, ‘ You are right. I should have known why you came to me. Iam shaken of faith and I no longer belive. Iam paying for my lack of faith. This is my punishment for doubting. You knew me from within, you saw and you waited. I failed the test and now I have lost my child and through that I have lost my desire to live. Yet I do not regret. I would never accept a god who acts the way he did. I cannot worship something that cruel, unforgiving and without compassion. I deny him.’

She stood up, tears flowed down her face. ‘ They say that you are his adversary, bring my son back , put it how it was before, take me to the day I saw you last. Do this for me and Iam yours. Do what you will with me but let me have my life as a mother to my son.’

‘ Its not for me to give or take’ , I said. ‘ I merely observe. You can give me nothing that I really want. You over estimate me . I too am like you. A creature in search the meaning of my existence. Your passions, your attachments , your desires , all of it , have no meaning from where I stand. To me you look pitiful, loathful, pathetic; with your constant births and never ending yearnings from which so few of you have actually emerged. You cry for your son when thousands of sons have died on the very moment your son did. Yet, you cannot feel that pain. To you your pain is more engulfing. You never seem to realize that all situation that you experience can be borne with the same calmness if you see it from the correct perspective. That all emotions are indulgences. Merely your way of enforcing upon your intellect your existence.’

‘Then why are you here?’ she asked , ‘ to watch me grieve my loss? To mock my faith? To hover around like a vulture attracted to my misfortune? Is that your great purpose , you exalted one? To look upon us pitiful creatures , watch us and feel for yourself a greater destiny? What is it that you seek by being here , in my house , at this hour?’ Her voice raised in octaves with each sentences .

‘Of course!’ she said, turning towards me with a sarcastic smile, ‘ you want to hear me say that you were right’

‘You are right’ she continued, ‘ my basis of faith has no foundation. My beliefs were handed down to me so I have no understanding of it. My beliefs were blind acceptances. Are you happy? I stand before you destroyed, having lost the meaning of my existence and I have nothing to hold on to , no hope, no god, no meaning....are you finally satisfied? Do you finally understand? I have nothing to live for. Is that what you hoped to achieve? And you say I wished for this? Wished for all this? Wished for my child's death?

'Yes' I answered. I never could win any popularity contest.

'You are a species with an inherent need for experiences and you thrive on it. You are emotion junkies.You have slated yourself to experience those experiences through your emotions. Take a good look at yourself. You have become the experience that you craved for. Your drama. Your expressions. Your poor bleeding life. All your own making.Then you need someone to take the blame when you feel a little lost.You are here because you wanted to be here, to experience what you are feeling right now.' I stopped for breath.

'And Iam here ' I continued, 'because I too am part of your need to experience.'

'I wished for my Son's death? She whispered.

'No' I corrected,'that was his own wish.'

'Dont you see? Its all about you. Everything comes together to let you have what ever you want.'

'What is it that I wanted when I wished for all this?' she asked.

'How am I to know?' I answered.' Its your fucking life.'

We looked at each other.

Then the door bell rang.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Devils Chronicles: Chapter 9

I waited for her.

It was dusk and was the flag end of an Indian monsoon. I sat on the steps. The awning above prevented me from getting wet, but I watched with delight the rain wet the stairs. All around me was the sound of the falling rain, not heavy, just enough for me to know of his presence. I have always loved the ways he expresses. Rain is my favourite.

She sensed me before she saw me. She stood by the gate, protected under her large black umbrella. The darkness had fallen. The street light near the gate came on, revealing her. Her cloths were wet in places. She wore a simple salwar , white which had yellowed slightly due to age. A red dupata was wrapped like a veil around her head and neck. Her hands held open the gate latch. She hesitated. I saw her looking at me. She latched the gate and walked towards me. I got up . She climbed the stairs, folded the umbrella and shook the rain out of it and propped it by the parapet near the steps. She switched on the naked bulb which hung above where I stood.

She turned and looked at me. I stood there , in the circle of the light she has thrown on me.

‘ I was waiting for you’ I said.

‘So was I’ , she replied.

She took the house keys from her bag and opened the door to her house, stepped in and switched on the table lamp near the living room sofa. Apart from the glow of the lamp, illuminating the immediate vicinity ,the room still lingered in dark.

‘Come in.’ She called out to me from inside.

I walked in, careful to stamp the rain and mud from my shoes on the rug that lay by the door. She was standing by the sofa. Her features were still hidden partially by the shadows.

‘Would you like to have some tea?’ she asked , after she invited me to sit of a single soft cushioned sofa.

‘If its no trouble.’

‘ No trouble, I was going to make one for myself.’

I leaned back , my back buried itself in the cushions. I looked around.

The living room was large. It was also a very old building. The original local architectural showed itself in every corner. The furnishing was relatively new and modern. The walls were lined with framed sepia prints , from where ancient faces stared out. There were no recent pictures. None of her family.

None of her son.

‘ When did you leave from there?’ I asked , as she walked in bringing with her two cups of tea. She held a cup in each hands. The steam curled up from the hot brew and the room was captivating filled with the aroma of it. She handed me one cup.

‘I just didn’t go back after the funeral’ she said, seating herself on the sofa facing me. She held her cup between her palms on her lap.

I sipped my tea. She sat; watching me.

We sat there in silence, drinking our tea, listening to the sound of the rain ,which was becoming a downpour.

‘Your husband is still there?’ I asked

‘Yes’ she replied. ‘ He didn’t object when I told him that I will not be joining him. He transfers money to our account here. He had written that he had moved out of our apartment and has now taken up a studio apartment. He is planning to sublet it to a bachelor, because he finds being alone very lonely.’

‘What about you? Do you find it lonely?’ I asked

‘Lonely? No. I just wanted to be near him. As near as I can.’ Tears welled in her eyes.

‘Iam sorry. This must be hard for you. I can stop.’ I said, not meaning it at all.

Then she did the most amazing thing. She leaned forward , moving from the shadows to the light of the lamp. I saw that she had aged. Her once black hair had streaks of grey in it. The shadows highlighted the wrinkles that had formed on her forehead- worry lines, but her eyes were bright. She looked straight into my eyes and said ,

‘ I know who you are.’

The words were whispered at me. She gave me a knowing smile, and then she leaned back on the sofa, with the smile still lingering , waiting for my reaction.

I was surprised. Really was. Moreover I was impressed. Most people who are in my presence are aware deep within themselves of my nature. But few would dare to confront it; for to confront is to acknowledge.

I had to smile, seeing her smug expression as if she had just solved the biggest riddle there is and was waiting for a pat on her back.

I could have played with her. I could have questioned her to the extent of making her doubt herself. I could have confused her, unsettled her. I didn’t do any of those. I decided to give her what she wanted. Acceptance.

‘Are you scared?’ I asked.

‘Surprisingly no. You are not what I expected you to be.’ She replied.

‘Actually Iam exactly what you expected me to be.’

I had finished my tea. I placed it on the coffee table in front of me. She still cradled her cup in her palm, relishing the warmth.

‘Would you like to see him?’ she asked quietly. She was not looking at me. Her eyes were looking unseeingly into her cup.

‘Yes.’ I replied.

She went up the stairs. I could hear the draw being pulled open in her bedroom. I saw through her, the album being pulled out. I saw her placing her palm above the cover. Hesitating. Remembering. She held it close to her breast with both her hands and shut the draw by leaning on it.

She came to where I sat, and placed the album in front of me on the coffee table. I pulled my seat closer to the table. She sat on the ground, next to my legs and opened the album.

Sometimes life makes its presence felt more in its absence.

‘ I got pregnant two years after our marriage.’ She said. ‘My husband and I had decided that we will have the delivery there itself instead of here. Actually we could not afford the travel expenses and moreover our combined earning was essential.’

She had opened the album to a picture of her sitting on a plastic chair in their balcony. She was dressed in a white housecoat with a read border. Her pregnancy was clearly visible. She was looking straight at the camera and she was radiant. The sun was behind her, the brown tinge of her hair was highlighted like a halo, her face was in the shadow but was clear. She had in her hand a bitten doughnut, the crumbs lined her lips.

‘ We were very happy,’ She continued, her fingers tracing the border of the picture, her eyes still searching intently at the picture for any possible sign of events yet to happen. ‘He was truly wonderful. He used make me breakfast during the weekends.’

Out side the rain fell .

‘We weren’t prepared for the pregnancy . I had a tough time dealing with it. I used to have terrible mood swings. Sometimes I used to feel as if Iam no longer in control of my body, as if it was invaded. I hated it. He was very patient with me.There were times, when I could see the disappointment and hurt in his eyes but I didn’t care. I was more consumed with what I was going through. I guess I blamed him partially for everything.’

She flipped the sheets of the album absent mindedly. More pictures of her , in various stages of her pregnancy . There were few pictures of both of them together, where the picture was taken with one of them pointing the camera at themselves.

‘When the labour began,’ She continued, ‘ we were in the kitchen. We were talking about making evening walks a mandatory thing in our life . I was becoming worried about the weight I was putting on. Suddenly the water broke.’

I know.

I was there.

How the floor became wet. The sudden silence between them. Then the panic. She running into the bathroom to change and he looking for the carry case they had packed for in the event of such an emergency. The frantic drive to the hospital. The labour pains. The cigarette smoke in the waiting room. The forms to be signed. The expenses. Finally the birth.

Then the days filled with sweet sufferings.

The kind of life which looks good only in retrospect. The sleepless nights, the pains from the after effect of the operation, the sore breasts…the breakdowns with the baby lying in your lap and howling, refuting all attempts to pacify him and you start screaming…you lament the loss of yourself.

Then there are days when he squints at you and grabs the finger you hold out to him and you melt. You feel as if your whole journey was towards this moment. All you talk about is him, you practically cease to exist ; what he eats, the words he say, the day he turned and lay on his stomach, the day he walked. Being unable to throw away his baby cloths. A love truly baffling , yet so right. You don’t want to analysis it or understand it, you just want to live in it.

She kept on speaking. I listened.

I waited.

She stopped talking. She had exhausted herself on the living. Memories have been taken up, dusted and examined. She looked at me and saw me for what I was.

'Why did you come back?' She asked.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Devil's Chronicles : Chapter 8

Its all in the timing. To be available when the opportunity strikes.

Me being me has certain advantages. I know when you are going to be faced with a crisis. I don’t cause it. I can't cause or change the course of your life. Only you can. I do try my damn best to exert my influence on your choices. This is the biggest grouse between me and Him. For him its all about the freewill and other such nonsense. Sometimes I rage over his impotence. Alright, its very admirable to be so father like and so aloof , detached . The whole thing bothers me. Left to yourself, you are like sheeps ; defenceless , stupid and never to reach your destination unless lead. Look around you and then say if iam wrong. If He waits for all of you to finally understand the forgotten messages and then go ‘ aha!’ and whack your forehead and reach out towards him; He is in for a lot more longer wait than eternity.

That’s where I come in.Lets not get any fresh ideas, I do not have his blessings in my endeavours. I do it for the sheer love of Him. In the end He will see that I had helped his cause. I had made him bigger.Somewhere along the way, I realize that I too have become like him because I stood up to him. If hes so much into freewill, wheres mine? I have asked him. His reply ,as usual, was direct.

‘You can never have what you have never given’

I understand. I understand so much. Then I see you, your sufferings due to your ignorance, your delusions through your illusions, your pain through your yearning. You were never his most brilliant of creation , but to let you go on suffering, because you had chosen this upon yourself, is wrong. You need help. You need the miracles. You need the prophets and you need those religions.

Sometimes , like a freak of nature, some among you surprises me. They get in tune with the beginning, your true potential. To an onlooker it will appear as if those gifts are easily begotten. I know the superhuman effort and the numerous life times it had taken for them to evolve to that stage.

Want to know how they started?- by dedicating their entire being to the right question.

They are far too few in between. They come forth like a flying star. Fascinating and brilliant and only to then die out. Between their attainment and their final end, they try to make you understand what they know.

Never works.

It can't work. It’s the freewill thing. You need to work out your own salvation. Which in reality also means that you have to clean your own shit. You will be always liable for your own actions and toughts. You cannot claim ever to be influenced. If you think you were influenced you must have learned too that it takes two hands to clap. Trust me on this. You may save yourself today with all this ‘devil made me do it’ and the mental illness and psycho routine , but you have no idea how just the system really is. You will be your own punish er and theres none out there who can make you go through the hell of your own making. Every agony you see, every injustices that you see, every murder, rape, death, starvation, perversions , everything that you perceive to be evil – all you deserve, because you wanted it. All that you see as good in this world too is there because you chose it. You are all in various stages of working out your salvation and if you do not see that big picture, rightfully you are going to be a little pissed off. How are you to know that yesterdays murderer is todays victim ? How are you to know the credits you earn when you stop your karmic debt by not participating?

So you stand around trying to make some sense out of it. Lets blame the devil. Some of you blame the gods. Its all the same actually , but in the end you come out feeling a sense of hopelessness, a sense of doom. Who’s to blame? Him?

Me?

You?

I don’t cause your sufferings, neither can I cause your happiness. Iam there to test you. To see if I am right in my assumptions, in my first argument ; if you really deserve the freewill. In every turn, you seem to agree with me. You are ready to surrender your will to your gods. Let god take the responsibility. How many of you despicable creatures know what it is to surrender to Him? To offer everything at His feet? Your sins, your happiness, your punishment and your rewards?

You don’t have the guts. You pathetic worms are willing to praise his name to highest glory, if everything around you is hunky and dory; take one thing away, and you will curse him. I still stand by what I have caused Job to go through. I still stand by what I believed. I still admire a soul who can stay steadfast in all situation.

Theres no truth you can see in the word, because you are blind and unprepared. Only he who is ready will attain Him and himself. Those who do that, does not need the scriptures or your religions. Yet you lowest of the lowest will cling to the dust that once clung to their garments and create a crutch for you to hang on. You will use their words, you will twist it, misunderstand it, sometime understand it yet ignore it, you will pervert it, to suit your needs. You will create your religions and build bigger walls from the truth. You will hide in your darkness and you will kill for your truths and you will proclaim yourself as the true faith. You are fools. For you I await. To you Iam the enemy. You should fear me. For I shall haunt your actions, watch your undoing, I will destroy your bearings, your small faith. I will watch and laugh while you rip each others throat, for you deserve no mercy because you show none. There awaits no heaven for you, no nymphs in sensual cloths. There will await no Father on a throne with his divine son beside Him.

One of the ironies of your race is that you are totally oblivious to the truth in front of you. No matter how many prophets shout it down from roof tops, no matter how many new books are written, you will always remain true only to your nature- animal. I have seen the frustration in his face when he said about pearls at swine’s feet. You will not get it. No religion you practice is the true religion, you practice words of the dead, twisted beyond recognition, to suit your lower standards , your convenience, your base conscience.

You, the people of the Lie, are a doomed race. Know this , you have not known love if you have hate in your heart. You cannot be a believer and kill at the same time. Every action and thought you do in His name will be noted and will be evened out . Theres no rewards or punishment as you think ; theres only balancing. So each cruel act is met with a cruel act , kindness with kindness, eye for an eye is a cosmic law, but in your hand it becomes a cruel act. See the catch? Detachment is the key. To be in the act without a care for the result. Then you become gods.

Anyway, why waste time? We have a long way to go, you and I.

My little librarian.

Her belief in her faith. A faith based on such loose foundation. A faith she was born into, without any understanding had clung onto. That’s not a belief , it’s a habit. Every one of you will one day face a crisis, which will be your cross road. The choice you make , the action you adopt, the thought you have will define and change the remaining of your life. Whenever you stand at that cross road, you are not alone. I stand along with you.

Why go into details? When you are as ancient as Iam, you learn to see the signs. You start to see and appreciate the pattern. When a person is going to face a crisis , its an event which has been choreographed to such perfection by you. Every birth is to give you an opportunity to experience and learn. Every event is planned by you to shed the ignorance that surrounds you and become more like Him. The catch is, of course the freewill part : you can take the horse to the water but you can’t make it drink. So in the end , its all up to you.

This is where I have a problem. Like I said earlier, you are set to fail. You have no recollection of your being or source ( but then if you did, we wouldn’t be having this conversation), you are by nature like your Creator : fickle, arrogant and naive. Yes, we have our disagreements, but in the over all picture, I believe He should adopt a more hands on approach with you. I think you need a push once in a while. A small reality check. Me.

I repeat, I had nothing to do with her problems. Iam just a witness. Yes, I could have prevented it but Iam not inclined towards such actions; moreover it will be an invasion to your scheme of things. Her son had chosen a smaller life span, and wanted to pay back the karmic debt by being killed in an accident by a soul who has suffered a similar fate in the hands of him. A simple plan. Works for everybody. He had chosen this family to be born into for the lesson his death will give them. Win Win situation. This was the actual purpose. Observe how it plays out.

The school bus driver was having the worst morning in his life. His salary had not been paid for the last month by the school, because it was being adjusted against the advance he had taken for his vacation. Yesterday, he had received a letter from home, where his wife had lamented about the financial dire strait they are facing : his children's’ school fees, mother in law’s hospital expenses, the loan sharks. He had spend the night fretting . Clueless as to how to make both ends meet. His reaction was that of anger.

He reported for duty early morning as usual. Normally the preschoolers screams and shouts were music to his ears. He was a nice man, friendly, fatherly to the children and a good worker. Today everything irritated him. The rules of the school does not permit him to shout at his wards. So he was seething by the time he reached the school. On a normal day, he would have stood by the bus door, assisting the ayahs in carrying out each kid and doing a head count. But today was not an ordinary day.

He sat behind his wheel, defiant; glad for the moment of peace in his bus. He saw through his rear view mirror the ayah cradling a small girl in her arms and closing the door. He revered the engine, put it in reverse to pull out of the drive way and go for his breakfast.

Everything what happened after that occurred in seconds. Later, he will replay it in his head again and again like a dog chasing its tail.It will seem to him as if the time stood still and those seconds dragged on like hours.

He had released the clutch and reversed.The next instant he heard the ayah banging on the side of the bus with an open palm, shouting something. The sound startled him, he felt the bus tyre going over something soft, yet hard.

His blood froze when he heard the scream .

Win win situation.

Devil's Chronicles : Chapter 7

She sat down at her chair by the counter. She was aware of her rudeness to him. Somehow she didn’t care. A feeling of dread had engulfed her bringing on a wave of nausea.

She leaned forward on the counter , placed her head on the counter and closed her eyes.

She was startled by the ring of her mobile phone. She looked at the number. It was her husband.

Oh God, No…don’t let it be…please.’ Her mind wailed.

Her husband’s voice seemed to come from far off.

‘Hello, can you hear me?’

‘Yes’ she whispered.

‘Its our son. There was an accident in the school. They called me. Hes in the hospital . You go straight home. I will bring him there. ' He spoke in short sentences. She could make out the strain in his voice, trying to keep his emotions in check. Being a man. A scared man.

‘Is he ok?’ she asked. A chill took hold of her; she realized she was shivering.

‘I don’t know….they are not saying…they are not saying anything…’ he stopped. There was a lump in his throat, he could not talk, he gasped. Then he cried.

She heard her husband’s sobs over the phone and placed the mobile on the counter. She looked at it dispassionately. She could hear the mute voice of her husband asking if she was still there.

She tried to stand up, but her leg gave up underneath her. Her mind was racing,

Did you have the lunch I packed for you….or did you throw it like you do at home? What did you wear today? Was it the color dress day or the uniform day? God! I don’t remember. Why did I scream at him last night? I have been an awful mother…my poor baby…my poor baby. I would do anything to hold you now…my poor baby…I will never shout at you…you can have anything you want….just be there when I get back home….please be there when I get back…oh god, please let him be there when I get back home…

Devil's Chronicles : Chapter 6

We walked back to the library. She was still buried in her thoughts. She fished the keys out of her bag. Unlocked the door and stepped in. She turned around to face me , at the door way. I stood outside .The sun had come out of the clouds and was shinning upon me.

‘ Will you gone long?’ She asked. I was not being asked in.

‘ We will meet again. Theres a reason behind our meeting. I have sought you out.’

‘Are you one of Them? Like Jesus?’ She was looking down at her feet as she spoke. Her hand gripping the side of the door. The bell attached to the door rang its melody.

‘ No, Iam not like them. Iam on your side.’ That’s the closest I could come to revealing my true self.

She looked at me. I saw what she saw. An old man, with his white hair haloed by the sun, wearing a black cotton pants and a white linen half sleeves shirt. Harmless, vulnerable . I took the cotton handkerchief out of my packet and wiped my forehead clear of sweat. She was unmoved.

‘Goodbye.’ She closed the door behind her. I watched her while she switched on the light inside.

‘ Until we meet again’

If she had looked, she would have seen an old man walking in the middle of the road , enjoying the searing afternoon desert sun .

If she ran after me , overtook me and faced me, she would have seen that I was smiling.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Devil's Chronicles : Chapter 5

The sky was overcast when I stood outside the library that day.

He does have a dramatic way of showing his displeasure.

The bell hanging on top of the door tinkled as I walked in.

She looked up and smiled. There were few customers in various stages of browsing, buying and renting the books. I recognized all of them. I amused myself by evesdropping on their thoughts while I waited for the lunch hour to come. I walked to the autobiography section, leafed through some books. I find autobiographies interesting, not that I read much of it. In my existence I have learnt that all lives are heroic and every life is dramatic. Theres no such thing as an ordinary life.

She touched my shirt sleeve. I turned around . The library was empty. She had already switched off the lights . The keychain dangled from her hands.

“ Today’s lunch is on you” , she said , still smiling and looking right into my eyes.

‘Everything is on me today’ I replied, holding her gaze. Her smile faded.

We stepped out into the humid weather outside. I looked up at the dark clouds covering the sun, betraying the afternoon into appearing like dusk. She locked the shop and followed my gaze.

‘It seems a little surreal, don’t you think? Dark , hot afternoon.’

I didn’t comment; it was not expected.

We walked towards a nearby restaurant. The inside was cold due to the high blast of the central aircondition. We sat in a private corner in the family section. The waiter handed us the menu and stood at a discreet distance while we placed our order. A greek salad with extra helping of cheese and a glass of lemon mint for me and a plate of filfal with hommus and kobus for her.

I sipped the cold mineral water which the waiter had poured into a wine glass. We still had not spoken.

She was watching the level of the water being poured into her glass. Her eyes followed the waiter as he went towards the kitchen to place our order. She averted her eyes towards mine when she realized that I was watching her. She blushed as if I have caught her doing something embaressing. I smiled back.

‘ I will be gone for sometime’ I said, breaking the silence

‘Where? For how long?’

‘ Iam going home for a while. Have some business to attend to.’

She was quite until the waiter bought us our order. We ate in silence.

‘It was nice ; talking to you. Iam going to miss that.’ She said , her eyes on her food.

‘I enjoyed my afternoons with you too. We will meet again.’ I reached out to touch her hand. She held my wrinkled hands in hers. I gently pulled it out. No matter what people think, Iam not much of touchy feely kind of person.

‘ Lets forget that for a moment’, I said, clapping my hands together . The sound startled her to snap out of her reviere as was intended. ‘I do owe you an apology for getting you all worked up the last we spoke.’

She smiled, ‘We always seems to be apologizing to each other.’

‘That’s true.’

‘Who are you anyway? I don’t seem to know anything about you. I went through the registration form in the library and called the number you had listed there. It was not connecting.’

‘My my, Arent you being snoopy! Why did you want to get in touch with me? You could have asked for my number.’

‘No, it wasn’t like that. Yesterday, I could have sworn that you disappeared. Somehow it didn’t seem very real – all of it. The way you seem to bring out the worst in me or is it the best ? I don’t know anymore. I just wanted to call you. Kind of make it all real. That you existed.’

‘I exist. Do you find that hard to accept?’

She looked annoyed now. ‘This is the problem. Why can't I have a normal converstation with you? You take off on this philoshical babble. It tires me out. Theres a part of me which wants to snap at you and never see or speak to you again... and then; then theres this part which is very curious to find out what you can draw out of me , about what you are going to say next. Its all very strange to me.’

‘Why?’ I asked.

‘Well, for one thing Iam not that sort of a person. My life is quite simple. But now I feel a kind of anxiety. I question everything around me. I don’t know. I feel scared, as if all this is a prelude to something bad.’

It was . I don’t make anything happen. I cant. No one can. Everything is the cause of a series of actions and thoughts by the living entity. It serves my need to be available when an opportunity arrives.

I had been sitting back while she spoke. The waiter came and placed our order on the table, hovered around a bit and left us. There was a temporary silence. She broke the kubbos and dipped it in the hummos and inserted it to the left corner of her mouth and started chewing. I toyed with my salad.

‘Do you believe that theres a reason why people meet? That theres a purpose behind it?’ I asked. A cube of fetah cheese pierced by my fork found its way to my mouth.

She looked up; ‘Are you implying that theres a reason why we are having this talk?’

‘That’s exactly what I meant.’

‘Well, I can agree with that to some extent. I think we find a reason to justify the meeting. Like , now that Iam married to my husband, I can find numerous incidents which can look very extraordinary and coincidental ; as if the world was conspiring to put us together. But I do know so many people I have met in my life who have not added or subtracted from my life. Like my school friends and people I have met on the trains and buses , who I have spoken to , exchanged addresses with and never bothered keeping in touch with. So I think it all depends.’

I was not finding the salad very satisfying. I continued playing with it.

‘ Actually theres a reason in every interaction.' I said,' Infact you cannot in some way not be effected by any interaction. Even the interactions which you have discontinued would have changed or altered you in some way, like you have to them. Everything that you are today is the direct result of a lot of things, which includes these interactions.’

‘ What are the others?’she asked.

‘You are what you are today due to a lot of things: your genetics, your birth, even down to the location and date and time, to your choices, people you have met, haven’t met, what you have heard, what you have spoken, what you haven’t said, your thoughts, your ignorance and lots more’

I had given up on the salad. I took the tall glass of lemon mint and took a sip.

‘ That doesn’t sound like a reason.' She insisted,' Sounds more like a random mix of events and at the end of it you got you. How can that be considered purposeful? I do believe what you are saying , which is that , today is the end result of all the yesterdays. But I disagree with the part that one has control over how their life has turned out. You can say it’s the choices that I have made. That’s only one part of it. Iam of the opinion that life is a series of random events and one tries their best to stay a float in it.’

‘Maybe,' I said,' Maybe I can understand why you might think like that. If one day you could stand apart from yourself and see life as it is, you will realize that there is nothing random in this universe. You are exactly where you want to be, how you want to be. The day you can truly see that, is the day you will be in control of your destiny. Until then, I guess , its natural to think the way you do.’ I finished my little speech and finished the lemon mint in one gulp.

She was seething now.

‘Why do you talk down on me?' She asked,' As if you are the wisest thing that have ever crossed this planet. Do you realize how arrogant you sound? Do you see it?'

' Standing apart and seeing the life for what it is?' She imitated me pretty well,' Show me one person who has done it. This is the kind of pseudo intellectual crap that irritates me. Your answer to everything is based on something that no mortal being has experienced . Like a mirage.’ She was gasping for breath. The waiter was looking at our direction.

‘ Jesus.’ I said quietly.

‘What?’ she snapped .

‘You asked me to show you one person who has done it. Jesus. He had done it. So has several others. They were never the same after that. You will never be able to play the game once you know it’s a game. The rules changes as and when you want it. You shape your destiny.’

She was silent. I asked the waiter for the check.

Devil's Chronicles : Chapter 4

When she closed up the shop that evening and walked towards her apartment , she felt a moment of anxiety. It was unusually dark ; even the streetlights seemed to have difficulty penetrating its thick envelope , so much so that there were rings of light around each posts with sheer blackness separating it.

She held her purse next to her chest and walked faster .She didn’t slow down until she was in her flat with the door locked behind her. She went straight to the bedroom, changed into her night dress and started the dinner.

She called up her neighbour, who baby sat her son after he got back from his preschool, to let her know that she was back and that she will be there to pick him up. With the dinner still on fire, she went to the next door flat to collect her son.

She could hear the laughter and the running feet when she rang the bell. Her neighbour, a kindly mother of two , opened the door. Her son, wedged out from behind her with his school bag in one hand and the other reaching out to be picked up.

The same sequence every time. She picked him up , thanked the neighbour and carried him to her flat.

Her heart melts with each jibberish he spoke; a language only she understood, in some inner level. He mixed his baby language with common place words like ‘ok’ , ‘its ok’ , ‘naughty boy’. She asked him about his school, checked his lunch box to see if the sandwich and biscut she had packed in the morning was finished. She always worried about his eating. He was so thin. Big head and skinny body. Her husband kids about that by calling him a match stick.

Once in the flat, she undress the child and put him in his pyjamas. The dinner is done and she feeds the relectent child.

Her husband walks in when the child is nodding off to sleep, cradled in her arms as she watches the tv. The dinner is already placed on the dining table. The man walks over to his wife and takes the child, kissing him and takes him to the bedroom.

At that moment everyday, everything makes sense. They are a family; codependent, solitary,nuclear; loved , reciprocated : family.

She watched the father tucking his son into bed, sitting in the dark room, still in his office clothes. She stood by the door, hesitating to break the spell. She watches while her husband kiss her son's forehead and silently walks over to join her.

They stood together , holding each other , taking in the vision of their sleeping son; in silence.

Each together, yet separate , in the myrid of thoughts that passed through their minds.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Devils Chronicles - Chapter 3

I gave it couple of days before paying her my next visit. This time I walked in just before she closed for lunch. She seemed to expect me.

‘I was just about to close. Would you like to join me for lunch?’

‘That will be nice. I really would like to get another book after that. I read the book you gave me again. I always find it amazing how the same book which is never changing can have a different impact on you in relation to the time when you read it.’

She smiled. She knew what I meant. It was a movie. She had seen it when she was young and it had the most profound effect on her, and after marriage, she had insisted her husband to rent this movie. She could not stop raving about the story line to her husband. After dinner they had sat down expectedly to watch it. She, gleefully holding onto her husband’s forearms in excitement. But the movie proved to be a damp squid. The story seemed so ordinary and full of drawn out dramas. The actors seemed to be overacting. The heroine seemed so melodramatic and childish. The problems they faced seemed so petty. Her husband had tried to put on a ‘this is a great movie’ front for her benefit which irritated her more. What had happened? She had changed, evolved, grown. Her perspectives had changed.

‘I know what you mean’ she said as she switched off the lights and turned the sign to ‘Closed’. I stepped outside and waited while she locked the door.

‘I normally have my lunch at this restaurant on the corner. Its only walking distance away.’

I nodded. I followed her to the restaurant. It was not so crowded yet. We found a table near the window which faced the street. I like watching life go by. I told her to order for me also; something light.

After the waiter had taken the order and left she faced me, looked at me squarely.

‘I am really sorry about the other day. I thought about what you had said. I have to admit that there’s truth in what you said. I know that I believe in something that I have no experience of. I am not a very spiritual person. I don’t try to understand the great mystic reasoning behind life. I am a housewife who is also working. I got my own worries. I got a son who is ready to go to kindergarten. We are not financially well off. I try to do my part by taking this job as a librarian. I don’t even read.’ She laughed. I smiled.

‘What I am trying to say is that, when you said all those things, you were being cruel. Or so I thought. Later on I realized that you had not done that with an intention to hurt me. I am the one who initiated the conversation and you told me what you thought....’

‘Know’ I said quietly.

‘What?’ she seemed surprised by my intrusion into her monologue.

‘Know…what I know, not what I thought.’

The waiter came with our order. He laid out the dishes and left. We remained quite until he left.

‘I don’t understand. Your opinion about that is always an idea, like you said mine were. How can you state that it’s the way things actually are? How can you for certainty claim that what I believe in or the faith that I follow is wrong?’

She seemed more in control today than our tirade before. I was glad that finally we will be able to discuss this without an outburst.

I took the salad leaf with my hands, ignoring the fork. Always liked touching what I eat. Using these senses. It was so beautiful. She waited while I chewed the crunchy lettuce leaf.

‘Have your lunch, while I devour this salad. Since you asked me, I shall tell you but you must promise me to listen…truly listen with your ears. Let what I say be understood by your head. Detach your feeling when you listen. Pretend as if you are reading a book. What we are having is a discussion, not an argument. Understand this. My intentions are not to hurt you nor am I saying this in any personal context. The truth is simple, its you who complicate it’

“Me?’

‘Not you personally but all of human beings. You expect things to be complex where it is not. You seek to hide. You don’t want answers, you want orders. You are a scared race. Fear is your driving force.’

‘Fear?’ a piece of chicken dangled from her fork which she held in her hands.

‘Yes, fear. Think about it. Forget your religious books, let’s not even go there. It’s filled with words to inspire fear. Look at your life. You live in constant fear. You are taught to fear early on in your life. The boogy man will come to get you if you don’t go to sleep. You will grow thin and die like those kids on TV if you don’t eat. You will be living on the street if you don’t study. You will spend all your life alone and miserable like that aunt if you don’t marry at the correct age. You have to put up and compromise your needs in your marriage if you don’t want your husband to leave you or worse find someone else. You have to have a child for ‘what will the others think of us’ and then you do the same to your child. You live in constant fear. So it’s not surprising that you are scared about your god also. You created him to be a fearful god.’

‘Created God? We didn’t create god, he created us.’ She had stopped eating. Yet this time I didn’t feel from her repulsion, she wanted to know.

‘You do believe that you are made in the image of god?’

‘Yes.’

‘God is attribute less, which means that you can attribute any qualities to him and that too will be him. You take away any qualities, yet he will not diminish. He is experiencing himself through his creation. So you can give god any mask and everything will fit. The god you worship is created by you. All forces in nature are neutral. You can harness those forces. God too is neutral. You can harness god to create anything. Like electricity, wind, sunlight, gravity…anything. Think about it. Electricity is responsible for the light in the bulb, but you created the bulb to harness that electricity to create light, you created the heater to make electricity into heat, the electric car to create transportation. The forces exist for you to harness any way you choose. So too is god. Nothing is hidden from you. You can learn and understand the working of the infinite by just observing the world around you. Nothing is complicated, everything is simple. Your fear prevents you from accepting the truth.’

I stopped here. The salad was beckoning me. I let the time I spend eating for her to assimilate what I have revealed to her and to give her time to finish her food. She ate in silence. So did I.

We didn’t say anything even when the waiter brought the bill, which was paid by her, absentmindedly. I smiled at waiter and thanked him before following her out.

We walked towards the bookshop.

‘I still got 40 minutes more before I open the shop again’, she said. ‘ I normally go and sit in that park until its time , sometimes I bring a magazine. Would you like to join me? I would like to continue the conversation’

‘Sure’

She lead the way to a park near the restaurant. It was a median converted into a park, with couple of benches and some trees offering shade from the sun and well manicured lawns. She sat on a bench which was not too sullied by pigeon shit. I sat next to her.

‘ What about evil? If what you say is true, then you can harness god for evil purpose also.’

‘ Yes you can.’

‘ That does not seem right.’

‘ Why doesn’t it seem right? You are assuming that god will reject any evil purpose done through him. Is gravity responsible for the death when you push someone from a building? Then again what exactly is evil? Is not good and bad a perception ? Sati was considered in ancient times as an honorable way for a hindu widow to die, today you find that barbaric. Women were tried ,tortured and put to death in Salem in the name of witch craft, today you would laugh at the reasons which could have condemned a person then. A man murdering another is considered by you as evil, yet when your courts sentences him to death, that becomes justice. Everything is relative. In the natural order of things theres no chaos. Everything is perfect, where it should be, how YOU want it to be .’

‘ How can you call the world around you perfect?' She retaliated, ' What about the thousands dying of hunger in Africa when surplus food stocks are being destroyed or wasted in other countries? Why wasn’t the earth created with equal amount of abudance ? Why are some fertile while others are not? Why are some cruel and others kind? Evil exist all around us and only by god’s intervention can we hope to survive in such a hostile world. Its only by his benevolence that we can understand and be good human beings in this world. I belive that we are punished to live amongst evil and if we hold god within us we can surpass the evil around us and become one with gos and live in paradise. I belive that we are given this so that we will strive for paradise….’

‘where is god in this picture?’ I enquired.

‘Stop! Let me complete' She snapped, 'I know what you will say. This is all to do with us. Where does god picture? God exist all around us just like evil. All around us is the battle between good and evil . Just like there are good people and bad people. Just like there are fertile areas and deserts. By going with what you are saying and that if I have to understand the working of the universe all I have to do is look around me , then what I see is a constant struggle between bad and good. If everyone obeys the commandments that has been given by god himself , we can make a heaven on earth. Jesus has said that the kingdom is at hand, I believe that if we can all strive to be like what has been told to us to be, then we can remove evil and change the very world that we live in and make it the kingdom. We can have heaven on earth.’

She stopped. I was ecstatic . Finally she was speaking , revealing.
Passion . What is life without it?
Questions…what is life without it?
Anger…what is faith without it?

‘ Let me get this clear.' I said, 'Evil exist and so does good. God is good and evil is not part of his design. You live in this world that is abundant with bad. God has given you a set of rules to live by to overcome the bad times or rather understand what is going on around you and if the whole world lives by these rules then the evil will cease to exist and you will make the world around you heaven … hmmm.. is it only me or do you also see how na├»ve that sounds? You had answered most of your questions in your question.What I understand from what you just said,is that you are the one who has to do all the doing. You have to live by the rules. You have to make the changes. You have to obey. You have to. My question still stands, where does god picture? The one who made the rules? He creates a world , makes it intentially evil and then puts you there and gives you rules to fight the evil and make it all whole again. Where is the reason? For what purpose? Divine plan? Whats divine about such a sadistic plan? Seems to me that the odds are stacked against you and pray, let me ask you, what does happens if you don’t partake in this game? Are you punished? Why are you punished for not accepting this game that god seems to have invented for his own delight? Aren’t you capable of understanding that you are behaving likes pawns when you are given enough sense to understand or know when you are being a pawn? Don’t you think its more pathetic when you are aware of your status and yet you continue your actions and thoughts? Don’t you think its cowardly? Did your god want you to be cowards?’


She looked at me. The afternoon heat enveloped us.

‘ So much hatred .' She wispered,'who are you? There seems to pulsate from you so much anger. Are you asking me or are you stating? Why do I get this feeling that this is not a passing debate between two strangers? You are here to get an answer. Iam no longer comfortable. I don’t think its because you are shaking my faith any longer ; its something about you. Who are you?’

There always comes a time in my existence that my real self shines through. If you meet your conscience on the street, either you will consider him your best of friends or your worst enemy . No matter who or what I portray when I approach you, I have learned to realize that , some inane sense in you always recognize me for who iam. Iam not you.

‘ Iam whoever you want me to be.' I answered,'Iam one like you, who sees things and cannot accept this drummed in concept of how our religions wants us to be. I see and understand my real nature and respects it, knowing that that what iam is the only real thing that I know exist. Every thing else is a perception . my view of the world around me. To me , acknowledging without understanding is the worst sin that I can do to myself. Therefore iam also a questionnaire .’

I sat back . The wooden bench back rest was warm. I knew that I have answered her question to satisfy her for the moment. Later on , when she is lying down in her bed with her husband she will see that I haven’t answered her real question. What am I supposed to tell her? Iam the devil? That is always such a conversation stopper.

‘ So,' She retorted,' in order to get your answer, you seek it from others? So your truth , or whatever you derive as your truth, will have to come from another? Is your questions meant to understand or is it meant as a prelude to my teaching of your truth? Either way you just negated your concept of your understanding, of your real self. If you know the truth , why do you question? If I knew the truth, I would shut up’

Bravo!

Sometimes you realize yourself. I have seen that for eons . In my presence you become sometimes heroic. What she said was so true. When you come upon real knowledge you will become silent. What else can you be? No one who has not experienced it will be able to understand it. Explaining it will be like the age old story of the blind men who describe what an elephant is. So, the only solution to an enlighted one is silence. The eternal paradox : I have caught up ,now you catch up.

My test for her was far from over. Like most of you, in the midst of your emotions you have struck upon a truth. A truth still remains a myth until you realize its worth , its potential to release you. So I stalled . If you can recall and still feel its worth , given time , then you know that you have stumbled on something worthwhile.

‘ Its getting late. You have to open the shop’ I stood up.

It never ceases to amaze me how much you value your work. You seem to always forget that you started to work as a mean to sustain your life.

‘ You are right,” she said, glancing hastly at her watch.

She got up from the bench and we walked towards the book shop. We didn’t speak until she reached the door. She took out the keys to open the door. The keys wre dangling from a cute mickey mouse keychain.

‘ I will see you later’ I said, moving towards the road . She turned towards me and smiled . She had forgotten.

I watched her as she entered her library and went into her automode of turning on the lights and arranging the books on the counter. Then I dissipated.

Pride. I agree . Whats the fun in being what you are if you cant be recognized?

I saw her surprise in not seeing me where I was supposed to be when she sat at her desk. But it quickly vanished , when the next customer walked in.

Devils Chronicles - Chapter 2

When she walked back to her shop, her mind was still on the conversation she had with the old man. She was still feeling guilty about her outburst. It’s been such a bad morning. Of late she has been noticing an eagerness to please in her husband, which she viewed with a little suspicion. In the beginning it was very flattering. She had gone back home with her son to visit her parents and her husband had stayed behind. He has been extremely attentive when she came back. Very attentive. Compliments..gifts..restaurant dinners. She reveled in all the attentions. Now she has thing nagging feeling with she cannot put her finger on. It started last night. The child was asleep and she moved towards her husband and she felt a distance in his loving making- as if she wasn’t there. She felt undesired and strangely unsatisfied by the end of it. Maybe it was all in her head. Maybe he had a tiring day at work. Who can know what goes on in a man’s head?

The old man. There was something so fatherly about him. As if he carried the worries of the world on his shoulders. He had this tired look and the first time he came to her shop, she immediately poured a glass of water for him and he drank it with such a relish. He has always been quiet and it’s funny how very little she
knew about him. He had no routine timing. He sometimes walk in just when she is about to close and asks her for the book she has picked for him. That’s another thing she has started doing for him. She had a fair idea the books he likes to read. He is so not into fiction.

‘There’s so much of life around and no amount of fiction can really be fictitious, since it will be contain someone’s life in it- I would rather read life’

Whatever that means. This is what fascinated her about him. She reminded her of her favorite chemistry professor. These ramblings which made sense when she heard it but cannot put in context to anything later.

She liked talking to him. She always felt she is the one who had to initiate it. He was quite and non intrusive, one has to draw him to a conversation and it’s a delight to hear his insights which are always such an eye-opener.

She was surprised at today’s conversation. She never realized how provoked she became. She had assumed him to be something else in regards to religion. He did have a priestly look. His discourse was a shocker for her. It was the passion in which he said it, as if this is what he is all about. For a brief moment, he sacred her. How silly!

‘Perhaps I should invite him during my lunch break. That should make it up for my behavior. He looks like he would like some company.’

Well, that was that. She felt a lot better after she had made her resolution. She always did have remedies to suit all situations. Like a kiss on a child’s bruised knee.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Devil's Chronicles : Chapter 1

The shop was in decrepit. Part of a residential complex. Ground floor, facing a one way street. A book shop.

“We sell, buy and lend books” a small type written A4 sheet taped on the door.

The latest Harry Porter book was being sold for half the price. Used books. There was a hanging sign which showed the shop was closed. I am a patient one. I walked to the small grocery next door. The malayali shop keeper saw me walk in and saw a fellow expatriate.

“Oru laban up vennum” I asked.

How I love the things you make. The shopkeeper, whose name I knew but never uttered, whose life I knew, the worries that he carried on his shoulders …all I knew.

I served myself. Paid him. Took the small blue tetra pack of salted buttermilk and went outside.

The desert sun burned brightly. I took my stand in the parking lot, leaned against the hood of the parked car and drank my Laban up. Then I waited.

She came in a rush. Like always. Time is not the same for you and me. With making breakfast just right for her husband, who demands his dosa to be freshly made so that it is crisp when he eats it and a child to be sent to school; freshly fed, bathed and clothed; time for her is never enough.

How I knew her.

Timing is everything in my role.

When I walked in she had already completed the daily routine that she always did every morning for the last 3 years. She had switched on the lights, switched on the computer, arranged the stray books on the counter which the customers had debated to lend or buy and have changed their mind, then she called up her husband to let him know that she’s in the shop and asked him to specifically comment on the lunch she had packed for him after he eats it. All in that order and all everyday.

Sometime my being fills with such immense love for you and your routines.

I waited for the next door grocery to deliver her morning bottle of water. I waited and watched the woman on the same block, enter, return her book and rent another self help book and leave.

I crushed my tetra pack, threw it on the ground, already knowing its destiny, (scrutinized by a cat, kicked by a kid under the car, swept into the bin by night and then dumped in the municipal garbage heap, serving as a home to a family of cockroach, and then being sorted and taken by a recycle plant to be turned again into something else – see the pattern?) ; and I entered the shop.

Of course, she saw me as one of her regulars. She greeted me with genuine happiness. I was old, a fellow man, someone who spends the little time I spend there , while I select my read, conversing with her. Nothing personal, always discussion, opinions, debates. She believes that she knows me. I am sure she does in her own ways. I am not a threat, dangerous or rude. I am kind to her opinions .I am waiting for her to talk about her faith. Christianity. Today I will put her to her test.

As usual I walked towards the fiction. As usual she had a book which she felt I would be interested in. Today it was ‘Possession’. In her experience with me previously, I have shown a penchant towards books that have won some awards. It’s always heartening to realize that you have been thought of.

‘Lovely book, but I am afraid I have already read it’

It gave me pleasure to see the slight disappointment that flitted across her face.

‘Iam so sorry..hope you didn’t go through too much trouble. That’s a nice necklace. Gift? ' I asked.

‘You like it?’ her hand holding the pendent. The book forgotten.

‘Yes, it’s interesting. Where did you get it from?’ I was already heading towards the shelf next to her reception counter.

‘It’s a gift. My husband gave it to me. No occasion; just out of the blue.’ Her fingers were stroking the pendent as she spoke; an American diamond clasped on a simple gold frame. It was simple yet beautiful. The gift, a symbol of guilty repentance for that one time her husband gave in to a temptation of the flesh.

‘It’s lovely. I wish you knew where he got it from, my wife would have loved it’, I reached for the stray books that were not put back into order. I have always liked to find that book which is found as if by some divine design.

‘She lives here with you?’


‘Hmmm, this one looks interesting. Yes, she does.’ I placed the book on the counter. ‘The blood and the shroud’. A study on the authenticity of the Turin shroud and other Christian relics.


‘You like this one? Maybe you would like to read another book, which is also along the same line’

I already knew the title she was thinking about. She placed the paper back version of ‘Da Vinci code’ on the counter.

‘I have read this. Lovely concept, don’t you think?’

‘Actually I don’t think so. He has sowed discord among our faith with this book.’

‘Your faith? How so?’ I am afraid I was smiling at her indulgently when I asked her that. She saw that as a challenge to establish her statement and she sat a little more erect, faced me square and said:

‘What’s your faith?

‘I am of no faith. I believe in an existence, that’s supreme. It’s logical for me to accept the fact of a creator. As of attributing it qualities, I don’t think it’s rational to believe that with a human beings limited attributes, we can ever truly understand it; we will only have theories but never a fact. Therefore to have a faith in something that I have never experienced with my senses will always remain a belief and I am too old to have faith, which to me means total realization and therefore is unquestionable. So, to emphasize what I asked you; how can anything shake your faith?’

She looked at me…no, she stared at me. I knew she would. I returned that stare, waiting for her response.


‘I am a Christian, I believe in the holy immaculate conception of Jesus, I believe in the trinity of the father, the son and the Holy Spirit. It’s what I believe in; it’s what I have been brought up to believe in. Faith does not mean what you say it means. Real faith means that I believe without having to experience.”

‘What will you base it upon? ‘

‘What?’ she seemed confused but I knew that she understood but was bidding for time to frame her answers.


‘In order to believe in anything, you have to have a foundation. How can you believe in something that has no foundation?’

I knew her answer before she even spoke it.


‘There is foundation in believing in god. The very creation around you is the proof of his existence.’


‘I wasn’t asking you about your belief in god. I already told you that I too believe in a supreme existence that has created all that we see around us. I am questioning your wisdom in believing the rest of the baloney surrounding him- like the holy conception and the so called miracles and the special people of god. I mean, if you truly believe in your bible, then obviously you must believe that the Jews are his special people and you may have become a Christian but you certainly are not a Jew.’

I could see her twisting the handkerchief that she held in her hand but I wasn’t about to stop.

‘My worry is that we call him the father, but has he acted like your father? If the whole of human kind were his children would a father have chosen children? If he does then doesn’t it make him a not so ideal father? Why would a father have to send down another son, but this one, apparently more in connection with him, to make the rest of his children see his way? He is god; he can make you see if he wants to without resorting to any of this. You are after all his creation and why should he resort to such drama for the sake of removing the ‘sins of the world’ by having his divine son dying on the cross? If you were his children, why aren’t all of you Jesus?’

‘Jesus is the son of god!’ she screamed. She quickly checked herself. ‘I am sorry. It’s just that, I can’t argue with you. You are obviously older and better read than me but all I know is my faith. It makes me happy. It gives me comfort and most of the time it offers me hopes. But when you talk like this, it makes me insecure. Why can’t you just leave it alone? Let’s not talk of this anymore. Let’s just talk like a librarian and a book buyer. I am scared by what you say.’ She was on the verge of tears.

I lack compassion. I know what the term implies and since I know what it means, I don’t feel it. I see you for what you really are. Mere shells that identifies your self as shells, mere mortal thoughts that you call your mind which lives and dies with your shell. You have a concept of the soul but no understanding of it. You yearn for immortality which you already have. You have the knowledge right in front of you but you never see it. So, and for millions of other reason, it’s difficult for me to be compassionate to you.

I smiled. Knowing perfectly well that it will ignite her emotion. I was right.

‘You think its funny isn’t it? Questioning someone’s faith, shaking their beliefs? I wish you would go now. I know that I seem to be rude and it’s not intended towards you wholly. I am at a stage in my life where I cannot afford to give up or even question my foundations. Try and understand. Please buy what books you want and go. Let’s end our conversations here.’

I stood for sometime in silence. I wished her to assimilate all what she has spoken and therefore to bring out the guilt that normally always surfaces.

I picked up the book she had suggested. ‘I will buy this’

She rang up the till and I paid.

‘I am truly sorry’ I said, ‘I had no intention to hurt you or even to question your faith. I am old and I guess when engaged in an interesting conversation, I tend to show off my knowledge on the subject. I want you to know that I truly love all what your religion stands for but I will always have my apprehensions and questions about how the truth is handled and interpreted by you’

I stood by the door, my hand on the knob, ‘there are things we both can learn from each other. My intentions were only that. I am sorry.’

I stepped out and walked out into the burning afternoon sun.

She called out for me standing near the opened door when I was ten steps away. She had an apologetic smile on her face. I stood where I stopped. She came towards me touched my sleeves. ‘Do come again. Perhaps we can talk more on this subject when aim in a better mood.’

I smiled, ‘I intend to. I know a good soul when I see when.’ I placed my hands on hers and patted it.

I walked away. I knew she was smiling when she went back to her job.