We have to get out of this alive. I looked over to my sister standing knee deep in the debris and holding on to a palm tree trunk- holding onto dear life.
I tried to keep talking to her amidst the rumble the sea was creating, almost as if it didn’t want any voice rising above its own. Half the town was being swept in front of our eyes and it was a sight that made your heart sink. The grumbling was deafening. Cars and entire houses were being swept away as if they were made of paper. That day the sea was the monster devouring everything that came into its path.
Debris laden water was rushing in, flooding the coastal town. Clouds of muddy sludge started filling the clear blue water of the pool and for a moment, I forgot I was struggling to keep myself from being swept away. Wooden planks and metal objects kept banging against my leg under the sheer force of water. But for a moment I watched that dark slurry invade the pool, like a sandstorm inside water. It moved as if a spell was cast on it, as if it was a monster feeding on that clear water. I couldn’t blink for it was such an incredible sight. At a moment like that, when destruction was all around me I was captivated by the image in front of me and you may call me crazy. But I forgot my fear. When you are staring at death, you struggle to seek that moment when you can ignore the horror of it. If I was supposed to die today, what would I not give to not feel the desperation that precedes it.
When that moment ended, I realised we had to get out of this alive. I turned towards Mahi who seemed exhausted and was drowsy.
‘Hey! Hey! Hold on, okay? Stay awake. We will get out of this. I promise you we will. This is not how we die, okay?’
Why must you intimidate me so?
Looming large over my speck of a head.
Standing tall and grandiose,
Only the faces on the photographs change.
You tower above the rest,
The hands that carried you from sand to pillars lie dead,
Like monuments razed to the ground.
So fleeting, to have existed for a fraction of your history,
When you just go on.
Only the shadows change,
On your walls,
From tinted panes to rusty hinges.
Overwhelmed, I gulp down my fate in a split second.
Why is it,
That you shall be,
And I shall not.
Why only the words to the song change,
Reverberating inside your halls.
Tell me why the faces change.
Day after day,
With you not around me.
I know years have passed,
And time should have filled up that vacant space,
With memories anew.
But the ache remains the same,
In no way lessened.
I wake up with the thought of your absence,
Piercing my skin like needles.
And it lingers on all day.
I laugh and I always long for you to see me like this,
See me trying too hard to blend in,
To justify what people around me are thinking,
That I have moved on.
I haven’t taken a step since that day.
I relive that morning,
When too lazy to get up,
We cuddled together, the sheets on the floor,
Your legs entwined in mine.
Seems like a snapshot etched in my mind.
I live like a shadow,
Running out of time.
I heard footsteps in my room.
Someone stood for a moment right beside the bed. That person hurriedly moved towards the bathroom to ensure there was no one hiding and shouted something in a language I had no knowledge of.
He ran outside, and they ambushed someone in the very next room.
I felt suffocated as the smell of gunpowder reached me.
Outside, sirens blared on patrol cars.
The assailants must’ve spent about five minutes in the other room.
There were two of them, talking to one another.
And then, there was silence after the last footsteps down the corridor had died down. I slid the door of my closet.
Even with all the commotion around, the cacophony dropped dead as I tried hard to strain my senses as to find out if they had really left.
Cautiously, I stepped outside and stood for a second. On tip toes, I moved towards the door.
I stood holding it, moving just my head to peek outside. To my right, I saw the couple lying in a pool of blood, still holding hands. I headed left, and reached the room of the next door. I could take deep breaths now. But for reasons beyond my comprehension, I still was breathing scantily between the gulps of air I took in to hold. I was no longer in the closet. I will never know why I did that.
Another explosion. It rocked the hotel as if there was an earthquake. I clung to the wall. My legs felt funny. They were failing to hold me up.
I heard voices, coming from the end of the corridor where the terrorists had moved to. And footsteps. This really, was the end of my life. I gathered all my strength and focused it all on my feet.
But they gave in. I fell headfirst on the creaky wooden floor, but not before catching a glimpse of armoured officers rushing towards me.
I buried her,
a tiny ball of fur
too small for my hands.
And there were no mourners,
except the cat.
I could hear her,
rummaging through the closet,
for her first and the only kitten.
My heart ached,
for I felt I had tricked her,
that she was still there.
While I, teary eyed,
wrapped the lifeless creature in my favorite handkerchief.
And with a shovel set to work,
digging on in the hush of the night.
And all the while I heard,
not a cat,
but a mother,
scrambling through heaps of clothes,
and all the while,
I had the little one.
Lifted her up and filled that clumsy grave of sorts,
covered it up with regret and dismay.
And sat there, still.
Hushed up in the calmness of loss.
Dear, dear is pain to me,
O that I wasn’t such frail hearted,
O for the firmness of sentiments!
Woe, woe is me!
One day I’ll die.
And the world, forgetful as it already is,
in hibernating spell shall lie,
unaware of the tragedy.
What happens then,
of promises that weren’t kept?
Does it remind them of an untrue me,
who in a painless hurry,
What happens to bed time stories?
Of passion flaring up in a fluid love,
of the bedside now unclaimed, empty and undone.
The burly arms often held in embrace,
now seek assurance,
of renewed presence,
of a body that was mine.
Of a heart that beat against a heavy chest.
Heavy with fear and despairing request,
to relish and bless.
I’ll be gone, to never return.
And with me will be washed away memories.
Waves on shore bring nothing but remembrances,
of those times that I was here.
And now I am gone,
you’ll have to live,
with false assurances,
of ‘Everything will be fine.’
While deep down you want to shout,
Leaving me in agony alone!’