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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Need for Speed

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Lament

The monsoon rain fell in thick sheets, the cruel drops impinging upon fragile bodies, sending them scampering for cover. The clouds gurgled with laughter, watching the futile efforts of drenched mortals trying to shelter under a tree.

I reminisced about the happy times he and I had spent together at Marine Drive. He. The one who my heart beat for. Strong and virile. And I was then beautiful and comely. In my arrogant youth, when I believed I’d stay young and lovely for ever. If he had been around, he’d still have loved me. Like before. Despite my scars and ugliness.

I remember the time when I was his soul and he was mine. When our identities blended with each other so well that no one knew where one ended and the other began.

No matter how clichéd it sounds, in his case and mine, it had been love at first sight. No one else had ever evoked the same feelings, the now familiar rush of emotion in my heart. I reciprocated his feelings, and we became inseparable companions. For a while, at least. We believed that we were meant to be together. He and I. I and him. We

But, that was only till they came. Those cruel men, with cold steel in their hearts, veneered under thin smiles made of plastic. I shrieked and struggled, but to no avail. Vain were my cries of help, and he could do nothing but watch in anguish, as I was defiled by those monsters.

I remember my appeals to you, to you who stood there in mute stupefaction, gaping at the dastardly dervish dance that went on in front of your very eyes. You never came to my aid. You shrugged your shoulders mournfully, and went away.

The rain fell in thick sheets, trying to wash off their filth from me, trying to cleanse my soul with its sheer impact. And he writhed in agony from the blows that they had landed on him. I took him under my fold, and we wept.

But you never noticed.

He was a tough character. He wouldn’t die on me just yet. He managed to drag himself around, just to lend me strength and help me live.

You rejoiced in your cowardice, rejoiced at the fact that he still lived. That’s when I learnt to hate you. That’s when I realised that your life revolved only around yourself. You only stopped to capture a vicarious thrill, an adrenaline rush of being in the thick of things. You never even cared.

You were not there when they had come again. One night, when all was quiet, those men with faces cloaked in darkness came. The evil glint of their weapons still gives me sleepless nights. I cower in fear, dreading that they may return yet another day.

The rain fell, washing away the blood from his mortal wounds as he lay there. You never came.

He died that night.

On those monsoon nights, when the clouds rumble in anger at your cowardice, and the sea threatens to breach its shores in its angst, the wind carries my whispered longings away to where I think he can still hear me.

I’m a broken shell, an old woman pitted ugly sores, brought low by my own hubris and your cowardice.

I am Mumbai.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Coffee and Conversation

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

State of Fear

History is a little like the most boring professor we used to have in school - always repeating herself, only for her words to fall on deaf ears. But, she'd always have the last laugh, when we came up short in every test that she threw at us.

Everytime, we resolved anew that we would heed her words carefully. Of course, by the time her tests caught us by surprise, we had forgotten what she taught us last.We clenched our fists, gnashed our teeth, orated about her cruelty in our closed rooms, and went on with life hoping we'd get rid of her soon.

Hearing a news channel airing a 'breaking news' program, as soon as I stepped into my house, I realised that there we were again. Mumbai - the business capital of India. THE Metropolis. The City of Dreams. Blasts. Flashes. Shrapnel. Screams. Death. Destruction. Sympathy. Concern. Apathy.

Frantic calls to loved ones. Concern giving way to annoyance on finding jammed phone networks. Texts, emails, twitter updates, FB updates, and now Google+ updates too.

It doesn't take much to throw our nation into a frenzy. All it takes is a bunch of lunatics to target a busy area in a major city, and wreak havoc. News channels have a field day, waving their microphones in the faces of the dying, the injured and the bereaved. Our respected leaders leave no stone unturned to illuminate themselves from the burning pyres of the dead. Our security agencies go into a tizzy and blame 'foreign hands' trying to destabilise our country.

We oscillate between incredulity, anger, outrage and despair, sending our blood pressure to alarming levels. Absent-mindedly, we stir our bitterness into our coffee cups and drink them down.

13/12. 26/11. 13/7. 10 dead. Thousands feared killed. Hundreds injured. Mere dates, mere statistics to be relegated to some file gathering dust in the corner of a government office, piled up for 'compensating' the relatives of the dead. Numbers to be quoted by politicians spewing vitriol. People who were neglected in life, finally getting some 'value' ascribed to them post-death.

We'll hold candle-lit vigils at India Gate, watching the ficklely flickering flames. We'll organize prayer meetings at the Gateway of India, letting our tears be one with the salty sea. We'll attempt to drown out terrorism by flooding social networks with our rants.

Of course, we'll tighten our security. We'll install CCTVs at busy markets, allowing pot-bellied policemen to ogle at nubile girls. We'll hand metal detectors to security guards, hoping their loud beeps scare away miscreants. We'll double the security of our leaders, to keep their revered souls safe from the madness.

Then, a few months later, that cruel professor called History will throw us another test, and laugh as we miserably fail again. We'll clench our fists, gnash our teeth, orate about her cruelty in our closed rooms, and go on with life hoping we'd get rid of her soon.