Friday, July 04, 2014

First Blood

She had propped me on the granite kitchen counter top, I had one leg extended along it's length, the other tucked under me. Butterflies and gremlins danced in my stomach. I watched her dip a table knife repeatedly into a bowl of hot sugary caramel. Checking. Runny. Checking. Runny. Checking. Syrup. Check. 

"It needs to be...so it pulls just right," - she was obviously talking to herself.
 She then turned to me - like Hannibal - and said, "Shall we try?"
Did I have f%$&*ing choice? 
"There is no beauty without pain, mollay…no pain, no gain," she smiled. 

I was 12, I levelled my gaze, to meet her mocking stare dead centre and set my jaw. 
She raised her eyebrow, almost half impressed.

It felt warm. Like warm cocoa. The right kind of warm. It glistened. As she spread the dollop, down my calf - it tugged, ever so slightly, here…there, a small pinch, a firm tug, a mild sting...I was mesmerised.

She had laid out strips of muslin (from a butter biscuit tin…#malayaleeswag) and considered each one like a snob shopping for silk scarves. She then lifted it gently and in a reassuring and almost maternal way patted it on. I'm still under the influence…the soft, rhythmic, warm pats…

I wasn't aware that she was looking at me. Her hooded gaze. 
I don't remember the exact moment she had stopped. 
I was still transfixed, my gaze solidly set on my calf. The caramel under the muslin looked dark. Like a wound - on the delicate tipping point - before it stained and swelled and seeped afresh. It felt like thick basting. 

I inhaled, distractedly…deeply…and my eyes refocused. It was suddenly very quiet. Her hands were by her side, they were right next to my leg. My eyes shot up and met hers again. My mouth parted. 

Sharp intake of breath. Her lips curled into 'Cheshire gone rogue'. Her hands were swift, merciless. 


First blood.


Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Go Away! And Save Me.

Why is it that when I connect with one the other wrestles away?
What is this curious see-saw connection you both share?

When you're happy, the other's sad.
When you're trigger-happy. The other is glad. Maniacally so.

When you wallow, she flies.
When you whoop with laughter, she dies inside.

If I extend a hand or a call to say hello to you
She cowers away spitting and hissing.

And when you and I fall out over a simple matter,
She rejoices, in ways big and small.

What is this thread that tugs and connects you both?
Can we snap it and free you two?

So I might be free of both of you.

- MA (2012)

Monday, August 06, 2012

No Turns In Sight

I'm not sure where we go from here
It seems as if the turns have passed.

The road now stretches - an endless ribbon
As our sources of conversation run out fast.

I partially turn by head away
As a gear shifts within our minds
I watch bleak and lush lanscapes hurtle past.

There's no more music in this patch of empty
No more whirlwind dervish dance.

We take turns to shut our eyes
And in pity we seek recourse from each other. 

The road stretches out before us. 
No turns in sight. Not one. 

- MA (2012)

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Yesterday

I was split open emotionally at work last evening. I was ploughing through reams of research and expert feedback on a trending topic in economics and finance and I was 4 hours past my deadline. I kept staring at the screen as the panic slow and steady shot up my spine and lodged in my brain. I slammed the desk, wrung my hands and clasped them into a tight ball. Hot tears welled up behind my eyelids squeezed shut, smarting from frustration. 

After muttering an incoherent rant, I shot up from my chair and walked away with my phone securely in my hand, head down staring at the screen pretending to message someone. I hit the side stairwell and climbed up to the top floor where no one goes and sat down on the topmost stair. Emerging from a frigid interior, I note in relief that the air up here is warmer. 

For half an hour, I did nothing but take deep measured breaths to steady my raw nerves. I then stared at the wall for another fifteen, until my mind relented and left me alone to recover. 

All in a day's work for me as writer. I'm wondering if more seasoned writers ever feel this way. When I read established writers' online or in print, I envy how well their story flows, how effortless their language constructs and how succinct their points are in writing; yet when they communicate so much more is conveyed through a single sentence. 

Don't get me wrong, my research, ground work and ability to chase known and unknown sources are spot on. In fact, I'll go as far as to say that I'm pretty good. I'm not very good with compliments and I've never really given myself credit where it's due - but this I will admit, because honestly, its a skill I worked hard to hone. 

But I digress. It's the constructing that I peak and trough with. The troughs, oh, how they smart! How do I explain the sheer agony of having all the information I need but not being able to draw out its essence in superbly fashioned paragraphs. 

On some days, its perfect. Literally. I see sentences map out in front of me even before I type them. Each one linking beautifully to the next until the perfect finish. On a day like that, the high trumps all else. You almost feel like you could accomplish anything, and still have time for a long drive afterward. 

I want that feeling everyday. Everyday! To be able to put a story together in the syntax and flourish of those writers whose words I greedily devour. At times I loathe my vocabulary and on occasion I marvel at the way my turn of phrase, quick wit and clever puns. I smile indulgently when I pack a punch. It's so addictive. 

Yet that next hit can be a torturous lover, who scorns you for fun and remains hidden deliberately, playing silly games as you thrash about in the dark playing in protest but playing - pitifully - anyway. 

I question myself as a writer everyday. For above me so many do better and below me so many have unbridled passion. It isn't uncommon to feel like a pretender even when in your heart you've swum oceans, and sacrificed equilibrium to dance with words.

I hold court, she says. So easily, flippantly even. Almost jealous. Good people can be too. I don't grudge her subtle mocking, for I can see there are aspects of me she'd rather have herself. Funnily enough, her stature is hard won, but not natural. She knows this. Yet, I will not belittle what she has accomplished. 

I have a talent, this much I know. An unwieldy power that I'm able to grasp when it lies sleeping with one eye open. When it awakes it's cyclonic temperament puts me in tailspin. My stubborn and gutsy countenance forbids that I let go even when it thrashes wildly. It's at this moment I look around me in despair, hoping against hope that a godsend force helps me tame it - this power - this talent. I wish to master it. 

It lets me guide it under false pretext. Why can't we be friends? Is it the place, the time, the space, the air conditioning? 

How do I smoke the peace pipe with you? Won't you sit awhile and talk? Won't you have a hot beverage with me? Won't you let me in?

It's time. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Procrastination has waged war with me. My arch-nemesis and half-brother of indecision. He comes to avenge his sibling's crushing defeat. The retaliation was expected. Yet, for reasons unknown, I am only half prepared.

Time still remains to prepare myself, I am consumed by the thought of it. Action somehow eludes me. Clarity shines its perspectives everywhere, and Understanding stands shoulder to shoulder with me.

Determination desperately seeks counsel and insists on drawing up plans for battle. I acquiese and give her a postponed date. She is not happy, but has grudgingly accepted it nonetheless.

I stand overlooking a vast swathe of my existence. My empire. If only you could see it from my eyes. The vista is beautiful and humbling. As a child, it was a play field of discovery...today, there is so much at stake.

"Individuality, we must overcome this," I murmur.

I turn my head slightly to see him step up behind me. He feels what I am consumed by and nods slowly. His expression is grim. He doesn't take kindly to challenge. He is wise, yet ruthless when it comes to anyone questioning my sovereignity or my realm.

"Freedom has expressed her concern, your Majesty. She strongly advises a counsel with Determination and Energy. We must complete our stand."

I nodded slowly. I knew I had to meet with them, but something was holding me back, my mind suddenly veered away from the conversation as I caught sight of an upliftment soaring majestically past.

I was suddenly filled with a need to ride into congnizance, I scarcely noticed Energy enter.

I turned to find her sitting a little away from me on a chair, crackling in irritation.

"What word of our counsel gathering, my lady?"

"I...need to clear my mind."

"Forgive me, but I sense an avoidance..."

"No, no...Energy, you are mistaken..."

"Am I?..."

"Energy..."

"I speak out of turn, I know, but please, you must understand the urgency...the.."

"I understand! We will hold counsel, as soon as..."

"As..."

"As soon I have completed my ride into congnizance, for a review...I feel I must do this."

"My Lady, this is your seventh ride into cognizance; what do you intend to find, you must speak of an intention, otherwise..."

"I know what a cognizance ride requires, Energy..."

"Then I request permission to ride with you."

I stared right at her. Her fiery aura was beginning to take on an electric hue. I had to smile; such loyalty, such raw, brute passion. What was I waiting for, when my trusted instincts were armed and ready? I had no answer. The questions and diversions were many.

Individuality's sudden conjunction broke me out of my reverie. He opened his eyes and looked straight at me.

"It is Freedom, she has something important to tell us. We must meet with her immediately."

"Is all well?" I asked, suddenly concerned.

Energy was already gone. Individuality extended his arm, he didn't say a word.

____________

We approached Freedom's chambers. She had been confined to it since Procrastination's declaration of war. Her protection was an absolute requirement. However, bounding Freedom to chambers was a dangerous act of self-defence. She would not be contained for long. We had to act quickly.

Energy spoke the words to Freedom's chambers and the doors heaved themselves open. We entered to find her restlessly pacing before us. She looked up and her senses enveloped us instantly.

Experiencing Freedom's sense is to be stunned and breathless and overwhelmed to the highest degree. Until now, no one but individuality had been able to pair with her perfectly. They were joined in Energy's infintismal burst when the empire was first conceived. Only they truly understood each other's essence.

She rushed forward and enveloped us in her flow. She touched palms with Individuality. I was lost in abandon and needed to sit down. She knelt and touched my knee, and slowed her breathing. I opened my eyes and looked at her. Such weightlessness, such beauty.

"Are you present enough," she breathed.

I nodded.

Energy was stemming the flow; I was more connected to my ground realities now. I nodded again.

She sat back on her haunches and flopped to the floor, crossing her legs and cocking her head to one side.

"What holds you back, have you narrowed down the possibilities?"

"Why did you summon us, Freedom?" Individuality interjected.

"I must know this first, Indiv, it is important..."

I suddenly felt like I was back in infancy modus. Deep training, in the dead of night, while the outer world slept and all was unlocked. I sensed Energy's glow, and felt annoyance at the way they congregated around me.

"Nothing holds me back! Nothing!" I spat out.

"She is overwhelmed still...Energy..."

Energy sighed and her wattage pulsed down to the dullest glow I had ever seen. It frightened me. She eyed me with disappointment and walked out into the antechamber.

Freedom turned to me and smiled. "Tell me, please..."

"This is infuriating! I do not know! That's why I intend to do a cognizance ride, this time, I think..."

"Let Energy ride with you, Thought will come to your aid, but Reason will only come if you ask the right questions...you must know what you are looking for, only then will it manifest from the eternal sea of cognizance, you already know this."

"Then why REPEAT it?!" I asked stubbornly. I stood up in rage and made my way past them, striding toward the door, when I stopped mid-step.

"...Purpose, where is he hiding?"

"My lady..."

"Why won't Purpose meet with us?!"

Individuality stepped in front of Freedom, as if defending her.

"Your Majesty, Purpose was banished to incubation, several years ago, by your command."

My head began to spin. Part in anger and part in disbelief.

"What? Why?!"

"You were not pleased with his manifest."

"That's impossible! How can you say that?!"

"It is the truth, the war with indecision was long and fierce...it was during revivification, you blamed indecision's attacks on the empire on Purpose's lack of merit and substance..."

"How can that be...!," I stammered, I felt impotent and vile. My eyes began to burn.

Individuality stood his ground. He was too sure, too absolute. He could not fathom the sense in my outburst.

"What was Purpose's first manifest?" I asked breathlessly shaking from newfound resolve.

Freedom looked at Indivuality with a sudden glimmer in her eyes; she smiled at me like Hope would in the darkest times. I would have given anything to have Hope here now; but she was far, accompanying Courage to help summon and build the armies.

"You have identified your first question for cognizance, my Lady...now...we begin our ride to unlock the answer."

Energy was already back amongst us. She smiled and strode out calling for our transship. Individuality walked past and clenched my shoulder, nodding. He would ride with me too.

Freedom embraced me. "Remember, Procrastination's power is subtle but immense. He understands your weakness and strikes at the heart of it."

I nod. "Then this ride could be..."

"A diversion...yes...but it is where your answer to winning this war lies. Be brave, let nothing hold you back. May Courage's spirit ride with you. ."

"And Patience with you."

She smiles knowingly, and we embrace again.

As I walk out, my uneasiness is slightly abated as I think of my comrades joining me. I am not alone. The journey's magnitude settles on me once more. As I walk, I see them waiting for me. Understanding is at the ship's helm. I nod in acknowledgement.

My mind equips me almost without hesitation, I am clothed and sheathed. I step on to the transship and we ride out to into cognizance.


End of Part one.