Why I read

I have been asked this question enough times in my life to be bothered by it. Most times, I just get all prickly and silently bark ‘why the heck should you be concerned’ at the questioner while the audible quip is something more puerile and polite. I do not find it odd at all, for example, if someone who is knackered and at the threshold of being comatose, wills themselves to stay up a wee bit and read a couple of pages- so that if they die in their sleep reading is the last thing they did. Hyperbole eh?

Another common but equally witless query is ‘why so many books simultaneously? Huh? Come again please. We rotate clothes and food and even people (if we can)- and yet you want me to read the same book, at one go, without regard for how or what I feel at the moment? How naive can you be?

Then, there is the problem of content. Apparently, some people find it hard to wrap their heads around to the fact that Middle Eastern history, witches, reborn kings, lone- man demolition armies, Afghani housewives, serial killers, quirks of Gandhi, Indian elections, American democracy, second- chances romance; everything is worth a read. Of course it is, just depends on the disposition at the time of choice.

Now coming back to the question of why I read. I do not have or need a reason to do so. It is not for the need for information, or want of enlightenment or to further intellect or wisdom. I do so, because I enjoy it. Period.

Till next time,

J.

P.S. – Now, if someone asks me why I am an obsessive book hoarder- there is a question I CAN answer. I attribute it to the trauma during my childhood where my parents enforced the thought upon me that reading anything other than school textbooks is an utter and almost complete waste of my time. Probably.

Fragmented -3

Click to read earlier chapters.

He knew he was awake. He knew it was morning. His brain had powered on, but hadn’t ‘booted to start’ yet. He kept his eyes shut, and let his mind wander. He thought of the things he would have to do today; the chores and the mundane errands, the endless packing and planning, and one very important meeting. He did not want to dwell on that now. He just wanted to be awake with eyes closed.

Last night was hard, but definitely not among the hardest. Not by a long mile. Nothing a few cuts and drinks could not tackle. He wasn’t sure if it the was the Long Dark or the Short Dark though. He tried to gauge his mind’s mood and mien. He gently nudged and prodded his inner self, without daring to disturb Him. He seemed to be reasonably jolly and light. Even so far as to be thinking a few pleasant thoughts. It might be a good day after all.

He finally let his eyes drift open. It wasn’t as light as he thought it would be. It was dawn, not full- blown morning yet. Damn. He hadn’t slept long at all. Well, not that it mattered. He could sleep an entire day, and still feel tired and battered. Four hours of restful, dreamless sleep is almost divine.

He contemplated going back to sleep. Then abruptly, he jumped out of bed, brushed his teeth and put on a pair of tracks and a flimsy tee. He pottered around the room looking for his iPod and headphones. He located them under the bed and shoved them into his pockets. He was still working in partial darkness. He did not feel the need to turn on the lights, the slither of dawn peeking through the curtains would do. He quickly laced up his trainers in his usual quirky way- a double wrap around the ankle and a bow knot to secure; and strode into the first morning light.

The air was cool and crisp. And fresh. It was nippy enough for a light shiver and some goosebumps. He walked briskly for a few minutes and then broke into a jog. He jogged toward the sea. He loved running on the sand. And it was a bloody brilliant way to work- out.

He inhaled deeply and as the air filled his lungs, he could feel his spirits rise. The blackness in his head, was conspicuous by it’s absence. Aah! It was the Short Dark after all. He smiled to himself, it was most definitely going to be a good day!

A ten mile run, 50 crunches, and an equal number of pull- ups and push ups later, Zun felt enlivened and sprightly. The sweat dripped off his brow and stuck to his clothes. It made his flimsy tee even flimsier. The middle- aged throng of women in their chudidars and sneakers passing by stared appreciatively. He wasn’t paying attention though. He was in his White Bright World where he needed no appreciation or flattery be feel like the king of the world. It was going to be a splendid day.

On days like these, he was on super-charge mode. Where time seemed to expand, and his ability to get work done seemed to increase manifold. By late afternoon, he had applied to terminate his gas, telephone and broadband connections. He also packed up all his books into cartons and haggled with and hired a goods- van to transport them home. He even managed to squeeze in a hair (read neighborhood barber) appointment. He wanted to look his best. He didn’t bother with lunch. On days like this, even air alone can be sustenance enough.

He was contemplating another shower when his phone rang. It was one his rowdy colleagues. He corrected himself. Now ex- colleague. He probably wanted to know why he went AWOL last night. Zun was in no mood for small talk and explanations. His mind was on other more important matters.

The hot water felt good. The tiny bathroom steamed up. “One more night” by Maroon 5 played on the radio. He sang  along, unmelodious and out of tune but with enough feeling and zest to make up for the lack of melody and tune. He knew he shouldn’t be excited. It was rather pointless. But he was. Undeniably excited. He heard the phone ring again. He sang louder. It continued to ring, stop and then ring again. He swore, grabbed a towel and ended his very enjoyable shower.

He was still dripping when he grabbed the phone to yell at or curse whichever moron (he used far more colorful words in his head) was calling so persistently. His swear words evaporated in his head when he saw the caller- name. He smiled. The slow, languid, crooked, one- sided smile. The smile that left female undergrads, interns, juniors, patients and scrub nurses tingly and weak- kneed.

It was her, calling to say she’d be an hour late. She apologized profusely, and he was extravagant in his “it’s alright”s. But he was on the edge. A White Day meant a lot of excess energy, and now he had an hour to kill. An hour filled with anticipation. He was pissed. In a good way.

He dressed meticulously. Uncharacteristically, he changed and re- changed his clothes about four times. He wasn’t sure what made him look good. He was vaguely aware that some women consider him attractive, but he was clueless as to what particular garments or style enhanced his looks.

He settled on a classic and safe choice of attire. Bordering on boring even. Starched white linen shirt tucked into light blue jeans. He did not even bother trying to tame his wet hair with a comb, he just ran his fingers through them. He left his two- day stubble on, he wanted to look somber and vulnerable. Not dark, and mad like he truly was.

He wore his trademark brown- leather Tag Heuer watch and loafers and got out of the house. He was still forty- minutes early. He fidgeted with the door lock and then with his sleeves, folding them up and then unfolding them about half-a- dozen times. He finally left them folded.

Enough, he berated himself. None of this was going to make any difference. He’d never imagined being this stupid and petty. Ugg! Of all the darned women in the world….

Mr Fragmented Genius – 2

Read the beginning here

He heads home. Parks his car carelessly with no regard for the owners of adjoining vehicles. It is the least of his troubles at the moment. He is sinking. He desperately seeks isolation;  a room all to himself . A place to do the things he needs to do in order to survive the impending attack.

He manages to unlock the door in the fourth attempt. His hands tremble and his body seems to be convulsing under the sheer intensity of his mind’s all- consuming restlessness. He heads straight to the bedroom.

He turns on the night- lamp. Just the night- lamp. Nothing more. Just enough light to kill the intensity of the darkness. Just enough to not make the room a black hole.

He quickly undresses and heads to the bathroom. He stands over the sink and stares at the mirror.

A distinct, unforgettable face stares back. A face that many would call attractive, handsome even. Distinct nose, strong, square-cut jaw. Full, defined. almost androgynous lips. Eyes deep in their sockets, airing a look of intelligence and intensity. Eyes that often twinkle with mischief and vitality. Of laughter and joie de vivre.

Eyes that can also appear haunted and empty. That sometimes are a window into the inner turmoil. Like how the proverbial warewolf transforms on a full- moon night….The eyes change as his head does…

Bile rises up his throat. He tries to hold it in. It’s a tug o’ war between him and and his innards. His insides win. He retches. Violently.

The vomiting is emotionally cathartic. On most days, it would suffice. The demons would go away. Not today though.

He sinks into the floor. Spent. Tired. His insides burning and his mouth sour. His teeth tingle. All the acidic disgorgement was making its mark. Eroding away bits of enamel every time. Eroding away bits of himself every time.

He needs to do more. He drags himself up and staggers into the kitchen. He searches for his favourite paring knife. He violently opens the drawers and leaves them open as he looks for it. He finds it in the sink. He had cut apples in the morning. He doesn’t even bother washing it.  It’s uncleanness makes it even more appealing.

He sits down on the kitchen floor and in the semi- darkness cuts himself. On his right inner thigh.  It’s a single, neat, long, one –stroke incision. He uses just the right amount of pressure to cut through the skin. He cuts people for a living, so he should know. If he wanted to, he could go really deep, and hit the femoral artery and make it a blood bath. No. That is not his intention. Not today at least.

The simple cut fires- up millions of pain receptors. Distracts his chaotic, stormy brain. Calms him enough to think straight again. He lets the blood trickle down onto the floor. He cannot see it but knows a small puddle would have formed. He visualizes the bright red pooling of blood and derives comfort. He knows there will be a mess to clean up next morning. But the next morning is at present nothing but a vague notion. The night looms large. The pain is a welcome distraction.

He sits there for a long time. Time is of no consequence. He has nowhere to be, or go tomorrow. He leans against a cabinet and voids his head of all thoughts. One by one, he extricates himself form their vicious claws. The feeling of dread and despair slows lifts. He feel lighter.

It was quick. It rarely leaves him this quickly. Most times, it drags on for days.

Finally, he musters enough energy to get into bed. He curls up under his blanket and closes his eyes. Praying.

Praying to the universe.

Praying to the God’s of sleep.

All he asks for, is sleep. Nothing more.

He does not wish for vivid, spectacular dreams or untold riches or beautiful possessions.

He does not wish for inexhaustible happiness or undying love.

He longs to sleep. And be rid of this feeling of utter desolateness. A feeling that has no reason for existence, except probably some fault in the workings of his mind.

Sleep is his only release. The only way this can pass, and allow him to live to fight another day.

The only other way to end this, would be to end his life. He has contemplated that far too many times….

His death that is…

 

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Mr Fragmented Genius.

A new challenge. Here’s a completely unedited, roughest of rough drafts (so “rough” that you might even find spelling errors!) of a story unfolding…. Let’s see where we head to…

A true test… Only type and publish… No proofreads….No edits….

Mr Fragmented Genius.

The demons are back in full force. They unleash their full fury on Zun’s already fragile and buckling mind. He staggers under its sheer ruthlessness. He knows it will pass. This feeling of utter hopelessness and despair. This time, at least. He knows it will pass.

He seeks solace in the familiar motions of a mundane activity. He turns the water on and lets it whoosh into the gleaming sink. For a moment. For a brief moment, there is nothing but the whooshing sound in his head. He takes in a deep breath.

The kitsch walls of the upmarket restaurant are covered in graffiti. Not the carefree , spontaneous, chaotic markings of a rebellious mind; but the paid- for, carefully construed strokes of an amateur, struggling artist. The colors and patterns offend him. They seem to compound the chaos in his head. He knows he should go back. He washes his hand for the fourth time, pulls out a wipe and leaves.

He returns to the dining area. They have rented the banquet hall for the evening. The party seems to have gone rogue. Everyone seems to have had a drink too many. All his colleagues, friends and even borderline- foes seem to be having a swell time. They deserve it. It has been three years. Three years of toil and torture. For Zun, it has been three, very trying years. Everyday testing his sanity some more. Pushing its boundaries farther. Changing him. For the worse.

He settles into his chair and pokes around his food. He wonders if he has snapped. If he will ever be “normal” again. Can he ever be a fully functional “family- man”? Work never bothers him. He knows he can do it even if he is stark, raving mad. Of that he’s sure. In fact his unhinged mind makes his work easier. He is better for it.

The revellers around him start to lose the plot. The racket reaches a crescendo. Too much joy is sickening. Especially if one is witness to it but cannot partake in it. Zun can take it no more. He decides to leave.

He is just about to get into his car. He feels the urge to look to his right. The parking area is dimly lit. He can barely make out silhouettes. He sees a couple walking towards the entrance of the restaurant. They are still engulfed in partial darkness. But he knows it’s her. It is an almost palpable, physical feeling.

As they appear into the halo cast by the fluorescent lights, he sees she’s all dressed-up. Not in her ignore-me- I’m- almost-a-man garb. But in a far more feminine avatar.  Her hair; carefully constructed, falling in loose curls framing her impish face. Her smile uninhibited. The kind he dreams about. But for another man. Her husband.

Zun follows the couple with his eyes. Till they are nothing but a speck in the darkness. Till they disappear. He shakes his head. Another battle that he will never win.  Another fight that was fought and won, even before he entered the ring.

This is not a love story. Or a story about love lost. Nor does it romanticise and exalt unrequited love. Love is an emotion for those who can understand and feel. Who are capable of feeling emotions. Not for those who are not in command of their own mind. Not for those who are fragmented; confused about their very existence.

Who carry monsters and demons in their head…

 

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