TIMES

It had been cloudy since noon today. The clock tower showed 1 o’clock but it only worked twice a day. Looking at it, he sighed. It didn’t work, just like everything he did. He was walking towards the place he walked to everyday, the same time as yesterday and the day before. He looked at his watch, 6 o’clock. The watch was old and weary. The metal of the watch dial suddenly grew too cold for his hand, he shuddered.

He was walking to a cafe which was on the corner of the street. The cafe was small, cozy one and the window table gave him enough closure and also a full view of the road and the pavement where he could observe people for as long as he wanted without being stared back at. He sighed again, when he looked at his watch. He remembered buying it with his first paycheck. It was a spring watch, it would be an antic in a few years, but he didn’t want to buy a new one until it stopped working which he knew it would soon.

He reminisced and wished that he could tell his younger self to not chase after windmills like Don Quixote, but again; he used to be happy then. He stopped abruptly at the surprise of a few raindrops which fell on his face, indicating the commence of a thunderstorm. Pushing his thoughts away, he started running towards the cafe. As he ran, he pushed past people running in the other direction and stepped into a puddle, wet himself, but didn’t care. His bag barely clinging onto his shoulder got drenched in rain. In this agony, he yelled out loud taking his stance against the weather report which reported clear skies,

“ Oh! COME ON! Those idiots, how do they get it wrong every single day?”

But again, he liked the rain. Or at least he used to. Anyways he reached the cafe, pushed the door, scurried inside and sat at the window table.

He was a editor of a daily newspaper. You could say it was a good job, well… it was but the pay was not good enough to let the both ends meet and even if he pulled his hardest, the most he could do was bring them close enough so that the could at least see each other before they sprung back to their original state like elastic bands. He laughed out loud thinking about this and how it resembled him and people around him. He looked around composing himself and looked around; no one cared.

He was a regular here as were nearly all the others, they gave each other enough space so that one could do one’s thinking in solitude. The waitress came,

“The usual?”

“Yes.”

The waitress walked away leaving him to continue the string of his thoughts…he was walking in an alley towards a Sunday book market. There was a water treatment plant right behind the alley making the place stink of sewage, but, he liked it there. They placed thousands of books on the pavement. There were an array of rare books, you would take years to find elsewhere and the price for any book was fifty rupees as the book vendors repetitively called out. He found pleasure in looking through the varied array of books, from Somerset Maugham to Vikram Seth….

He came out of his reverie as the waitress placed his bitter tea with a rap on the table. He took the cup in his hands, he didn’t like the tea but it was one thing which saved him from other bitter thoughts. But his reverie continued. He didn’t go to the alley anymore, he always thought he would go the coming Sunday for sure but the Sundays kept coming but the alley didn’t see his face again. As he sipped the tea his face distorted into a frown, gulping as he lowered the cup from his lips only waiting a few seconds to repeat the same action.

He used to take a bus to and from the alley, that day he picked up a book on early Bollywood and JOURNEY TO THE RIVER SEA by Eva Ibbotson, a book about an orphan girl who finds herself home in the Amazon.

At last, he freed himself of his thoughts, took a last sip from the cup, placed money under the cup and got up to leave seeing the rain stop. As soon as he stepped forward to go to the door, his bag caught onto a nail on the side of the table and got ripped, his books almost fell out, he tilted his bag, caught the edges of the bag and walked out. He had to buy a new bag, this one lasted two years, where did he buy this one?

His reverie continued again

He was holding the bag in it’s plastic cover standing in the midst of many people covered in sweat, but he remembered chatting with an old man and the bus conductor. He bought it on his way back from the book market. The same day he was reading a book, a play by Harold Pinter OLD TIMES. He grinned at the irony of his situation. He suddenly turned grave and bolted, he didn’t want to keep thinking about the old times, why did he stop going to the alley?

The next day, a Sunday

It had been cloudy since noon and it started raining two hours ago. The clock tower showed 1 o’clock but it only worked twice a day. He had an extremely exhausting day at work, the head editor was not happy with his work and a meeting with one of the distributors did not reap anything, he was at the height of frustration and he had to walk all the way to the cafe in this precipitation. He looked up from the entrance of his office and glared at the sky as if it would stop raining if he did that.

Accepting the truth, he just started walking in the rain, he loosened his tie and opened his collar button in agony, held his bag tighter on the corner where he had pinned it up and started walking.

On his way to the cafe he saw a group of children running in the rain following their paper boats and jumping in joy, when they started moving. He saw something very similar before; it was last year….the same place.

He was in the SAME place.

He gaped, though his memory was vague, the feeling was very, very familiar. The one thing that kept him up everyday, thinking that things will be better if he worked harder for others and ignored his needs, he could go further. This is what kept him awake at night and made him work overtime, the fear of being in the same place all of his life and he ended up being in the same place doing the same thing. But, he didn’t even enjoy it anymore. He didn’t understand where he went wrong. What was he working this hard for? Himself? NO!

For his future he thought……..He was always living for his future thinking about the past. This was his worst nightmare come true, his watch’s spring was unwinding and it screeched, he looked at it, it stopped ticking. He couldn’t understand, he walked towards the cafe in a trance. He opened the door and sat at the usual seat and thought,

“I should do something, something right now, I want to live.”.

The waitress came, she said,

“The usual?”

Before she swung back he shouted,

“No, NO!”

The waitress raised her eyebrows and then he slowly said,

“No, I want coffee and ice cream:

The waitress grinned,

“I will be right back with your order.”

She then turned and walked away.

He looked at the clock tower, there were people repairing it, he called out to the waitress, “Can you get it a bit faster? I have a bus to catch.” He looked at his own watch.

It was time to mend it.

The same group of kids from earlier were walking on the pavement singing in unison,

“Hickory Dickory Dock!…….”

and the man could faintly hear it. When he did, he knew it.

They were going to change, the times.

INSANE

The mirror reflects a man crying incurably. The man is probably in his fifties, wrinkles and folds paint his face. There is no light in the room except a small bulb on top of the man, illuminating his face and throwing everything else into darkness. He stops; abruptly looks up into the mirror and starts sniggering which slowly grows louder as the man starts laughing throwing his arms up in the air. His hysteric laughter echoing in the room. The animated look on his face makes one think (almost surely) if he is insane. The laughing ends as he exhales still in small fits and then stops with a deep breath ….

After a moment of silence, there comes a voice,

“CUT! THAT WAS AMAZING. Now let’s do that again from the top.”

The man looks to his side, there is a script on the table beside him. His eyes fall on the last line on the page:

The Last Piece

Sound of laughter between many noises.

It’s a pizza place.

A pizza is slid onto a table seating two people. Their hands reach for the pieces.

The pieces get over soon leaving few crusts behind.

One last piece remains.

There is a silence and their hands keep signalling each other to take the last piece,

“Go on!” a hand signals

The other hand turns it down and signals, “No, you take it.”

“It’s fine, I am not hungry…”

“No, you take it!”

And then the hands are folded as a final statement.

The last piece remains between the two folded hands.

It’s a pizza place.

A table is silent in the bustle.

BLIND

A person rubs his eyes and looks up

A galactic experience unfolds. The blues and purples of the galaxies merge and the stars keep twinkling in this mixture and then a whole lot of violet and pink merge in this, the person just stares amazed into this miracle unfolding in front of his eyes and rubs his eyes to confirm. This time it’s like the world before has flipped to the other side now it’s like he is in a bubble and the world outside the bubble is a medley of red and celestial blue.

He hears a disturbance from the side, he can’t move his head.

“You really need a pair of these”

Something is put on his eyes and he is in a white room being stared at by a doctor, reality dawns.

I animated this story: https://youtu.be/8aLD5pMs6NA

IT WAS A WHITE ROAD AND A WINDY DAY..

It was a white road and a very windy day…

All of them went in a line on the road not caring if there were cracks or potholes on the road. Occasionally they would dodge big squishy things which landed over them, trying to kill them. If one of them got squished under it, the others just moved around him and continued along the same path. They all were black. They always ventured to a place where they all got their food in the form of white crystal cubes as big as their own self. They would take one each and again start walking in a line back to where they came from.

The big squishy things were the fingers of a giant who lost her interest in the passing ants as she was hungry. She and the people like her started down the road.

It was a grey road and a very windy day.

They all walked in a line on a road not caring if there were cracks or potholes and looked out for the big squishy grey things above them in case it would rain, they would dodge it with a cloth stretched out on a rod which they all held.

They always ventured to a place where they got their food, in grey plates. They all would take one each.

It was a blue road and a very windy day.

The big squishy things were clouds. They all moved together and they were always very, very sad.