OF SOUL & LIFE

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If ever I die,

That will only be a reprieve,

For I shall walk again and again

In mystifying forms of Life.

 

Keep the sparrows alive,

Chirping from tree to balcony,

And the beautiful butterfly,

That sips the nectar honey.

 

Keep the eagles soaring,

Kissing the Sun high

And the tigers roaring,

That gods bow to knees nigh.

 

Ah, the life that runs wild

Gambols, cascades, spirits

In fascinating forms of life.

 

Let them be alive

For if I ever die

That will only be a reprieve

For I shall come again and again

To walk the wonderful forms of life.

 

 

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Available also on amazon.com {Kindle edition also}. Do please get a copy !! 🙂

 

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THE MOST TREASURED GUESTS

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“They too came,

The most treasured guests;

But they stood behind,

And waited till

All had dined;

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And when others had gone,

And it was quiet and empty;

They came and wished me,

And we talked of old times,

 

Of laughter and sunshine;                                   

And when my wife came out,

And asked what I was doing

Standing alone in the dark night;

How could I tell her

That the night had just come alive !”

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CIRCLES OF FAITH (DEDICATED TO PHANTOM, MY PET LABRADOR)

 

“Did time again so knock?

For there again in sight,

Where the road curved thrice,

Walked the man and his dog

On a brilliant moonlit night,

With scented orchards on the side;

The wind sighed in tree,

Then in a gust, broke free;

Scattering the leaves,

The dog chasing after,

in bounding leaps;

The peace was so deep,

For eternity in soul to keep;

Suddenly the clouds shifted,

And hid the moon,

Shadows lurked, spread in loom,

And deep dark menace

Climbed in hysterical scariness;

Did time again so knock?

For there with the stranger

walked Phantom, that could be a dog

The Good that could be so Bad;

 As if God and Devil

cavorted in endless pact !”



Journey of My Life (As I took to write)

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“Some passed by

And called out aloud,

Others came in

And slept in the house,

While some came in

And sat by my side,

As I took to write

The journey of my life

 

The wind picked up

Heaved and sighed,

Those sleeping

Tossed and shifted,

While others nodded 

And made to listen,

As I took to write

The journey of my life

 

Rain fell

Drummed on the roof,

The candle flickered

Sputtered and muttered,

While shadows danced

Leapt and slithered,

As I took to write 

The journey of my life

 

Towards dawn

Silence fell,

The moon slipped back

And all was calm and well,

With others sleeping

And some by my side,

As I took to write

The journey of my life”

 

THE VOICE INSIDE

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_1_

The small flat was bare and empty. There was hardly anything in it except the bed they had bought and the mattress on it.

His wife had packed a dinner for him and put in a quarter bottle of whiskey along with a soda bottle. He had some of the whiskey and then ate part of the dinner.

He went and lay down on the bed.

Outside, it was surprisingly quiet. Lights were on in some of the other apartments on different floors of the building. But there was hardly any sound. Not even the noise of a TV. Only small sounds of muted laughter came from somewhere nearby.

On one side of the room were glass doors; facing out. On the other side was the bedroom door opening inside the house. The room itself was small.

From the floor above came the sound of a toilet being flushed and then someone moving around. That too went quiet after sometime.

He slipped off to sleep but woke up to find a solitary mosquito buzzing around. He pulled a rug that he had brought over his head trying to keep the mosquito out.

He woke again to sharp mosquito bites and swore; scratching the side of his face where the mosquito had bitten.

Sometime afterwards, he again slipped off to sleep. He woke numerously. The mosquito wasn’t there. The few lights that had been on were off now. He would look at the dark face of the building around visible from his un-curtained glass doors and would doze off to intermittent small sleeps.

Then he woke up again.

This time it was different. He was immediately uncomfortable as he woke up.

Instinctively, his glance went to the half open door of the bedroom opening towards the inside. There was a faint moonlight coming through the glass doors. He didn’t see anything there. But he heard a voice inside his head murmuring, “someone is watching……”

He didn’t know when he fell asleep again. He woke up early morning to the continuous barking of a dog.

He quickly collected the few things he had brought along for the night and tidied up a little. Then he drove back to where they lived.

That night his wife asked, “how was your first night in our new apartment?”

He shrugged, “it was surprisingly quiet. I had expected the place to be more lively”.

“Maybe because it was a Monday night”, his wife said.

“Maybe,” he nodded.

He suddenly remembered that feeling of someone watching at that unknown hour of the night.

But he kept quiet.

When he thought over that feeling; he could sense a woman.

A woman somewhere around forty; tall, fair and attractive. Watching quietly; but intently.

_2_

Some days after, they shifted to their new apartment.

The first few days were busy; occupied in settling down.

It was after about a week.

He was sipping hot tea in the evening. His wife was telling the maid what to cook for dinner. Then she frowned, as if she remembered something.

“You know we had a guest today, when you were away. She said she lives nearby. I asked her to come in; but she said she would come again.”

He stopped sipping his tea.

She pursed her lips, “I asked her how she knew about us. And you know, she gave a strange answer”.

“What did she say?” he asked quickly.

“She said that some persons she liked watching …….

xxx–xxx

THE THIN LINE

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On the road ahead, he saw nothing but a building haze and dense trees on either side.  It was still early evening, but the growing mist or fog,  whatever it was, had considerably reduced visibility.

He switched on the headlights – and then, the fog lamps.

Driving was becoming increasingly tedious.  Not only was visibility bad; but the road was also narrow and twisting.

And then, a slow drizzle started, which made it worse.

The haze had come quickly and unexpectedly.

He had planned to pass through, but realized that he would have to find a place to stop at, and find it quickly.

He remembered the place and took care to locate the turn when he came to it.  An even narrower road, more uneven and broken, branched off to the left.  He took this turn and after driving for another fifteen to twenty minutes, came to a wooden gate on his left.

He stopped the vehicle and got out to open the gate.  After putting the vehicle inside, he carefully closed the gate and drove up the path.

The tyres crunched the gravel.

There were grass lawns and flower beds on either side of the path; well lit by a number of lamp posts.  Up ahead, there was an open portico herding a cheerful looking ambling cottage.

He drove up to the portico, stopped the vehicle and got out.

Flowerpots lay all around.  A wide door, painted white, framed the entrance to the cottage.

As he was in the act of walking up to this door, – it opened and a man came out, looking vaguely familiar.

“Hello, good evening,” he addressed the man who had come out, “the mist came down suddenly thick and heavy and I had to stop.  Is it all right if I park my vehicle near your house for the night?”

The man crossed his arms across his chest.  He was tall, somewhere in his mid-fifties.  He was wearing a light-coloured tweed jacket, dark trousers with a silk scarf knotted at his throat.  He looked distinguished.

“Of course, I would be sleeping inside the vehicle,” he added.

The man continued to look at him and then gave an imperceptible nod.  “Come on inside”, he said quietly with a smile.

Inside, it was warm and cheerful, almost like home.

The host was courteous with a demeanour which was infectiously relaxing.  He was shown a washroom and, after he had finished, found himself in a comfortable sofa in the front room.

The conversation was routine.  It came out that the house belonged to the host and that he had been living there for a number of years.

Sitting in the sofa, he found himself feeling pleasantly tired and must have nodded off; for the host suddenly insisted that he should take his dinner and then retire for the night.  He mumbled a polite refusal, but the host was insistent.

After dinner, he was shown to a small bedroom, – again warm and cheerful.

From the window of this bedroom, he could see the night outside – dark and cold.
“Thank you, it’s a cold night outside.”

The host was in the act of leaving the room, but hearing this, he paused and turned around. He smiled, “No need to say thanks. Just a thin wall from the night outside.” Then he turned and went away after wishing him good night.

He stood near the bed, alone in the neatly furnished room – slightly uneasy. The parting remark of the host, as also the host himself, seemed vaguely familiar.

But he was tired and quickly fell asleep.

He wasn’t sure what woke him up.
Suddenly, he was awake.
It was quiet.
The house was peaceful.

He lay in the bed, then looked at the window. Curtains were drawn across it, but not fully, and the night outside was visible from a slight gap between the drawn curtains.

On an impulse, he got up and looked outside – and instantly froze.

A number of persons were moving outside. But there was no sound. Only one or two lamp posts were burning now and it was dark – so dark that it made the figures look like silhouettes.

But then, there was no sound. They moved in total silence, randomly, like shadows and he found himself holding his breath.

It was a dream like sequence outside; peculiarly soothing.

He sank down on his knees, his chin resting on the window sill.
He didn’t know exactly when he fell asleep again. The cold woke him up and he stumbled to his feet with a start. Hastily he peered outside – but there was nothing out there – just the fog hanging heavy and dimming the one or two lamp posts that were still alight.

He looked at his watch. It was nearly morning now. He tidied himself up, put on his shoes and then, treading slowly, came out of his room.

The house had an empty feeling. Slowly and carefully he made his way around. The place had a different look now – though still quiet, but as if empty – without anyone living there.

He stood in the front room, looking around; and as he did so, it grew to be morning. He parted the curtains and let in the morning light. Somehow, he was reluctant to switch on the electric lights.

A book lay open on a side table. He picked it up.

Two lines, heavily underscored, caught his eye.

It read, “The line between the good and the evil is thin, surprisingly thin. Both are compellingly driven, and therefore so much more close than we think.”

He turned to the title of the book and looked at the name of the author.

He put down the book.

He came out of the Cottage, closing the front white door carefully.

To the side of the wooden door, which he had somehow not noticed in the night, hung a wooden placard which gave the information that the author of the book that he had picked up a while ago had lived in this house – and the place had been converted into a memorial house after the author’s death.

As he walked away, idly he wondered why he had not recognized himself the other night – for the name of the author was his.

Was it because of the thin line in between………………

CRISS CROSS

He stood in the open doorway. Outside it was brilliantly moonlit. He stood watching. A breeze had sprung up and he felt its coolness on his face.

He closed the door and stepped out. On an impulse, he found himself looking up. The sky was clear. There were tufts of clouds here and there and the moon was shining full and bright.

He walked out to the path in front of the house which climbed up on the hill. He didn’t have an idea as to the exact time but guessed that it was past midnight.

The night was quiet. The path wound up the hill; shaded ocassionally by trees. He strolled up this path; lazily kicking a pebble now and then.

There, when he turned the corner, he saw the figure – sitting, it looked like, on some high boulder or fence next to the path.

He was a little intrigued by the presence of this figure at such late hour in the night. He increased his pace a little; interested now. As he came close; he saw that it was a child – wearing some kind of a large cloak or coat which made it look larger than it was.

When he came closer; the child lifted his face. It was an extraordinarily pale face which seemed to be filled by the deep dark eyes of the child. The child sat quietly and in many ways, it was eerie. It didn’t affect him, however, even though he noticed the eeriness.

“Hey kid, what are you doing here,” he called out to the child.

The child didn’t answer but kept looking at him.

“Not the time for you to be alone pal”, he said, looking at the child closely.

For a second, the child’s face seemed to blossom and distend; but when he looked again, there the kid sat looking at him silently.

“Uh, ok, no joking, tell me your house and I’ll take you back. Not safe here,” he gestured coming further close.

A smell, as if of dry fallen leaves, came from the child.

Their eyes locked. He felt a deep abyss somewhere. He jerked his eyes away.

The child lifted his hand and pointed. He turned back to look at where the child was pointing. On the sea, beneath the hill, some distance away, a light blinked.

He turned aside, so that he would keep the child within his view as also watch the distant gleam. Slowly he could make out what looked like a small motor boat heading towards the shore. The moonlight glinted off its shining hull as he watched the boat.

Suddenly he lost interest in the kid and found himself walking down to the shore. The boat was already there; anchored close to the shore when he reached it. But there was no one around.

As he stood watching the boat; he became conscious of a movement on the sands behind him. He turned – to see the same kid with a scruffy looking dog beside him.

He picked up a broken twig lying at his feet and threw it for the dog. In a few moments, the dog was bounding up to him with the twig in his mouth. He looked at the dog and smiled.

Then he felt apprehensive and quickly looked up. The kid was no longer there. Instead stood a large indiscriminate figure; quiet but menacing.

He sighed. He turned as if to walk away; but suddenly came around facing the large figure. There was a snarl on his face and his mouth opened wolf like. With a cry of unholy joy; he sprang at the figure and brought it down to the ground. But the figure shook itself free and with a leap was running up the hill. He sat looking at the running figure till it disappeared in the shadows of the hill.

The boat was still there. But there was no dog. Neither could he see the child. He lay down on the sand; tasting the salty wind on his lips.

He found the night growing darker and looked up to see clouds much more than there were earlier. Somewhere in the hill behind, he heard a sound; a long wailing sound.

In a blitz, he was up; racing to the hill path where he had met the child.

It was much darker now. But he could still see that there appeared to be a figure; in fact two figures – sitting at the same place where the child had sat earlier.

He slowed down, and as he did so; the dog bounded up in front of him and merged with the figures.

He went up to them. A kind of mist was building up; or so it seemed to him.

He went nearer; walking slowly and quietly. He reached out and touched the misty outline and it was like the feel of dust upon his fingers.

He sat down before them, head bowed; while the misty outline slowly faded away in the darkness.

There was the boat down at the shore waiting for him and there lay the open door of his house where he could go back and rest. Or he could go back to the cemetery and lie down with them; his son, their pet dog and the driver who had crashed their car.

He would decide for he had time. The night was not over yet and there was plenty yet left to criss-cross.

 

 

 

 

April 12/13, 2010 Sanjay Kumar Singh