Buddha in the bathing sand

The sun beamed with confidence, or so it seemed, while the dry air exemplified its glory blatantly. The helpless sand, spread over a breadth of overwhelming magnitude, bathed in shades of yellow, much like the oppressor itself. The sparse population of shrubs over the vast expanse of listless sand defied the inherent morbidity of the surroundings. In every direction, as far as the eyes could see, the sand lulled in the bosom of Gaea in complete harmony, much like the boundless oceans, minus the serenity.  Any sane person would argue that it was almost impossible to survive there, but nature has a fondness for proving humans wrong.

Much like the misplaced foliage, a trail of footsteps led across the enduring sand, crossing dunes and drifts into the infinite expanse. But if one looked closely it wasn’t difficult to deduce that the trail was fresh and if one was passionate enough, and perhaps had a pair of binoculars at hand, one could easily make out a person like figure at a distance walking on the inert sand. The man was dressed in Hawaiian shirt coupled with camouflaged bermuda shorts, and causal sandals – the perfect dress for a desert safari. But this wasn’t a desert safari and the man in question was way beyond traditional sense; presumably at a much higher, and unstable, state of being. He walked along with the lingering silence of the golden ocean without a particular thought, or destination, in mind. Proximity to the solitary sands and remoteness from the hubbub, he had presumed, would put his mind at ease; that the deafening silence of loneliness would be more soothing than the reticent noise of survival. So far, reality seemed to be dictating the terms of this atypical undertaking but that didn’t affect the man in the Hawaiian shirt in the least for he was, as any sane man would presume, at a higher state of being. The conventional concepts of success and failure were now distant memories of a clueless childhood; a time when he, too, was a part of the rat race – a period he wasn’t particularly fond of. Moreover, rats didn’t survive the vicious circle of life where the only guiding principle is ‘survival of the fittest’, and he was well acquainted with that fact.

The shadow of doubt looming over his vulnerable self seemed to be dispersing, thinning, with every footprint in the uncharted expanse. Occasionally his mind drifted towards trivial matters and distant memories, but that was to be expected of someone traversing such inhospitable surroundings. The hostile environment was compelling enough to instil a fear of the unknown in any mortal instrument; a creeping anxiety that tightens it grip ever so slowly that no one suspects it until it finally chokes you into obsidian. But this was no ordinary man, and his sense of adventure far outweighed his insecurities and indecision; a trap which the common man is just too clever to evade. He advanced in the strange land with such certainty that one would believe he belonged there – although the idea stems from the apex of idiocy – unlike the sparse foliage.

In the distance, to his right, he could see another figure; another shadow. Any sane person would assume it to be another misplaced entity – another misguided soul that wandered the land of the golden sand in pursuit of answers; a soul that needed guidance; a soul that needed help. But the man in the bermuda shorts knew better. He had been tricked far too many times to be tricked ever again. And so the lousy attempt by the corrosive desert dissolved into nothingness, like a mirage within reach. A faint smile curled upon his lips as he registered this fine victory against the revolting desert. He knew that this was neither the end nor the beginning for he had been at odds with life since the time he could remember, or chose to remember. But this was certainly a step in the right direction because no one actually cared to stop you from moving in the wrong direction. This modest victory steeled his resolve to continue on his journey with a newfound confidence; another brick in the towering wall.

The trail of footprints in the golden sands kept on elongating as the mighty sun retreated from the majestic sky, its fading light casting shades of orange and red over the golden ocean, bidding farewell to the Buddha in the bathing sand. Buddha’s journey would be long and remarkable and the mighty sun didn’t want to miss the opportunity to greet him with a beaming smile the next morning. And while the charming night enjoyed the company of the man in Hawaiian shirt coupled with bermuda shorts and his cultivated thoughts, the mighty sun waited patiently to illuminate the ocean of golden sands and the Buddha’s receptive mind.

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The Collector

The retreating rays of the mighty sun, having travelled longer distance, dispersed into its various shades of life, leaving behind the blue-green tinge and cutting through the surroundings like knife in butter, transforming everything into different shades of a ripe apricot. The greenish water of Yamuna and the much clearer water of Ganga couldn’t elude the influence of the charming dusk.

While most of the people were either busy appreciating the beauty of this holy land or fishing to feed their families, ‘The Collector’ stood on a wooden platform, carefully hooked to the river bed, his eyes scanning the fuzzy boundary where the holiness of Ganga and tranquillity of Yamuna met the spirituality of Saraswati; a confluence of sanctity, and treasure. A fairly big piece of magnet dangled from his fishing line which was neatly looped in his right hand. For a few moments he just stood there, the piece of magnet swaying back and forth, like a pendulum, while his mind wandered off to distant thoughts. He looked at his small boat carefully tied to the wooden platform and found his battered slipper neatly placed near the front end of the boat. A thought crossed his mind but he dismissed it because he had much more important matters to attend to.

He placed the fishing line at the platform and threw the magnet towards the holy confluence of rivers. This was the place where he would find countless coins; not because of the sheer quantity but as a result of his inability to keep a valid count after twenty. So he usually counted to twenty and dropped the idea after that. Once the line stopped shifting and he was satisfied that the piece of magnet was patiently resting at the river bed awaiting further instructions, he started pulling the fishing line slowly, gathering the excess of it at his feet, and felt the gradually increasing weight of the magnet as more and more coins stuck to it. Hundreds of pilgrims visited this holy site each day and paid their homage to the river goddess in the form of coins, coconuts and flowers. He wasn’t concerned with the coconut and flowers so he never paid any attention to them. Besides, the coconut department was allotted to the apprentices of the priests who carried out all the important invocations.

He pulled the magnet piece out of water, removed and collected all the coins in a small satchel attached to his shorts and threw the magnet towards a different spot. He carried out this routine daily, seven to eight times or until the light faded. When his satchel grew heavy and he was convinced there were no more coins in his area, he got on his boat, untied it from the bamboo making up the platform and started rowing towards the bank. It would take him thirty to forty minutes to reach the bank and another 30 minutes to reach the market. He hoped to make it home before dinner time so he didn’t miss his favourite piece of the fish, its head.

The boy reached a footwear shop in the nearby market, the only one he knew, and placed his satchel brimming with coins at the counter of the shop and demanded,

“I need slippers for my little sister.”

“What?” the vendor was surprised at the audacity of this little boy. “What did you say?”

“I need slippers for my little sister. She is three years old.”

“And you’ve brought all these coins to buy a pair of slippers?”

“Yes. That’s all I have.”

“Do you think I am roadside beggar who would accept all these coins?”

“No. But I only have coins.”

The vendor looked frustratingly at the little kid and was thinking about shooing him away when he felt the weight of the satchel placed over the counter. It seemed fairly heavy and he wondered how much money it actually contained. His eyes fell on the little boy and then towards his feet.

“I don’t have slippers for a three year old. But you could use a pair yourself, don’t you think?”

The boy looked at his feet, thought for a moment and then replied, “No. I need slippers for my sister. She hurt herself while walking barefoot.”

The idea of parting with the satchel made the vendor look around his shop and his eyes fell on a used pair of slippers, a little too big for a three year old.

“Look boy, since you are so sincere I think I can help you. I have a pair of slippers that might fulfil your need. You won’t find a deal sweeter than this in any shop. Moreover, no vendor would accept such a tiny sum and that too in coins,” the vendor told the boy, showing him the used pair of slippers.

The boy didn’t know any footwear shop other than this. He looked at the slippers, his only option, which looked a tad big for a three year old. He kept gazing at the slippers deep in thought.

“Come on boy, I don’t have all day”

“I will take them,” announced the boy.

The vendor quickly placed the satchel full of money in one his cupboards, packed the pair of slippers in newspaper and handed it to the boy.

“You should be thankful. You couldn’t have got a deal sweeter than this anywhere else. I am in a good mood today. You’re lucky.”

The boy thanked the vendor, and then the river goddess who had showered their blessings on him. He ran towards his home; the thought of his sister’s smiling face when he would present the slippers to her put a big smile across his face. That evening he felt proud, and happy. And this happiness was quite different from the one that he usually experienced with the first bunch of coins in his hand; this was more meaningful, in contrast to the coins.

‘Rukhsat The Departure’ by Sujit Banerjee – Book Review

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Title : Rukhsat The Departure
Author : Sujit Banerjee
Pages : 260
Publisher : Leadstart Publication
Genre : Short Story Collection

Rating :

Cover : 3/5
Writing Style : 3.5/5
Presentation :
4/5
Overall :
3.5/5

Overview:

Twenty-six alphabets, twenty-six names, and twenty-six short stories. Each exploring one unique emotion, taking you into the dark recess of the mind. Some frothy and most of them dark. Most standing alone and some facing a mirror, where the same story comes alive in two different ways, through two different protagonist . Meet myriad characters – from the single-minded prostitute to the man on the railways station bereft of any memory; a woman desperate for a biological child to a dead man’s trial. Meet a jealous lover with a twisted brain and a gay man’s memory of a one-night encounter. Meet twenty-six such characters arrested and sentenced for life inside the pages of a book. Each one leaving an indelible mark on your soul.

Review:

Sujit Banerjee in his debut work has transformed his A-Z Challenge of blog posts (in this case short stories) into a beautiful collection. Widely accepted phenomenon among bloggers gave Sujit Banerjee an idea to make his debut in the world of books and I must say that it is surely a brilliant one.

Rukhsat The Departure is the collection of 26 heart touching stories that are connected to each other because of the characters that are used in each story. Simple language and simplicity of thoughts to explain uncommon emotions of humans, is the USP of the book. The characters look lively and it is pretty difficult to build up the whole magic with 4 or 5 pages but the author does that pretty well. Almost every story is predictable but still they do succeed to touch the reader’s soul.

One unique thing that I loved the most was the same story being told from 2 different perspective. It was like you are witnessing the same chain of events but with two narrations. beautiful writing of the author made me hear the characters and took me beyond the reality. It was totally a divine feeling.

Now the drawbacks. Most of the stories in the book leaves a long term impact over the reader but some are not so good. Those stories are not upto the mark and makes the collection, a dull one. There are few mistakes in editing as well. Another thing that took me off is the book cover. For me, it is not eye-catchy.

Overall, I would say that the author has done justice to his debut and presents a book that will stay with his readers for long. A must read for short story collection readers and to someone who loves to experiment with their reading list.

 

Not Enough

He stood at the edge of the mountain road that ascended the mighty mountain like a serpent around its victim. He stood perfectly still, his eyes fixed at the deep valley below & his conscience struggling with the challenging quandary, to jump or not to jump. Of course he had made up his mind hours ago, but then, standing at the edge of life itself, the task seemed impossible. But maybe it was because he was pondering over something he had already decided upon. It seemed logical – logic that bent and warped with every passing moment. Logic that led him to believe that securing 87% marks was not enough. Securing 19th position in the class was enough. Just qualifying the college-entry-level exam was not enough. Distancing yourself from every means of entertainment to secure good marks in board exams was not enough. But it was not entirely his fault. His being was moulded by the social strain of society and hardened by the booming competition.

So he jumped, dismissing the hurdling thoughts and accepting the ultimate truth – the one backed by logic. For a moment he felt a gush of fresh air across his face, but then it was only the branches and leaves. He hit one and bounced off another until his body stuck in a thick alpine.

******

Four hours later 2 teams of disaster-SOS department arrived at the already crowded spot. TV reporters were busy interviewing a fellow, reportedly the only eye-witness. He was one who alerted the police about the incident. It took the SOS team around 30 minutes to descend the deep gorge and rescue the boy from the thick green alpine cover. Once on the boy reached the safety of the ground, a SOS unit doctor examined him.

“A broken limb, another wounded, dislocated shoulder, possible fracture in the right arm and some bruises. No serious head injury. He will live.”, the doctor declared.

“He is a lucky fellow. The thick tree cover along the slope saved him.”, said the team leader.

“How much?”, the doctor asked.

“A hundred feet, give or take”, replied the team leader.

“Lucky indeed”, said the doctor.

Somewhere in the medical van, struggling with fading consciousness, the disfigured boy lay waste to his latest failure. One last thought crossed his grumpy mind as his consciousness gave in to the overpowering anaesthesia – a hundred feet is not enough!

******

Fridays with DX

Holi Hooligans ~ {SS #2}

There were colours all around; in the air, on the ground, and every living being was covered covered in them. The surroundings were soaked in captivating essence of various flowers. People were dancing and cheering all around. The environment was filled with so much energy that the usually morbid beings looked as if they had been injected with a new variety of drug, something ecstatic.  The sounds of laughter and joy together cultivated a state of bliss. The smiling faces burst into laughter every time a relatively clean person was soaked in colourful water or bombarded with water balloons.

Soon the thrilling yet peaceful environment was disturbed by the high pitched roaring of extremists, who came in groups, laden with balloons filled with dirty water and pockets filled with tacky colours bottles – the holi hooligans. The smiles faded away giving in to fear, and joy turned into hysteria as the hooligans infiltrated the gathering, celebrating in their own way, exploiting the virtue of a festival they were vaguely familiar with.

The music was still on, colours still soared the sky as the festivities continued, people still celebrating – some willingly and others unwillingly. No one objected and no one cried; the festival of colours, dull and bright.

******

Enjoy a new story every Friday from my side. Feel free to drop your feedback in the comments below. Any sort of criticism is welcomed. Spread the word!

Fridays with DX

 

Soar[ed] ~ {SS #1}

The sole of his right shoe made a squeaky sound as he walked along the road, loud music thumping his inner lobes. His eyes, glazed as a winter’s morning, were lost in a distant summer; a pool of memories soothing the aching soul. His body seemed to be on autopilot while his mind scavenged parts of a different world, of a different time – neverland of memories.

His hands lay vigil on the steering as his dreamy eyes sought some relief, a reward for their incessant efforts. The loud music on the music player failed to evoke even a sliver of interest in him. The musical notes passed through his habitual mind, as they had thousands of time before, leaving no impact whatsoever. It seemed as if his mind, preoccupied with cramped and limited thoughts, had resolved to maintain its state of being.

His shoe squeaked along the path, his body still on autopilot, his mind still trying to make sense of the complex past. Amid the cerebral rubble, the sun seemed to be a bit over-enthusiastic as it appeared out of nowhere, its brilliance increasing every moment. The pale yellow light broke the interim trance as it met the glazing eyes, and suddenly he saw a truck moving towards him at an incomprehensible speed. The truck driver’s dreamy eyes widened in a state of hysteria as his vigil hand and stern legs seemed victims of a relentless fate. Their frozen eyes met for a brief moment, their minds aligning in a bizarre chemistry as their distant thoughts collided in single pool of horror – Oh fuck!

******

Enjoy a new story every Friday from my side. Feel free to drop your feedback in the comments below. Any sort of criticism is welcomed. Spread the word!

Fridays with DX

‘How can I let her go!’ by Sandeep Sharma

Another drink will help, well, may be it should help. He filled up his empty glass and gulped it down his already burning throat. ‘Pain kills pain’, he believed. He smiled with teary eyes. Once the burning of his throat stopped, that same pain came back from his chest. The weight of someone’s memories, some unfulfilled dreams, promises & desires, all together on his heart. He could feel the painful heaviness. He needs another drink.
He took the bottle & tried to empty the already empty bottle in the empty glass to fulfil his empty wish of letting her go out of his heart.
He laughed to see his foolishness. Tears fell down his red eyes. He heard someone sobbing from the next room but ignored. He had much to worry about other than that sound.
Balancing himself, he tried to get up from the couch on which he had spent maximum of his time after getting married.
Somehow he reached the desktop. He had sleepy eyes but still, wanted to see something else other than the bed.
He logged on the desktop and opened up the secret folder where his life was hiding from the world.
‘This folder is empty’.
He closed his eyes when realized what he had done few days back. The question was not that what he did was right or wrong but the question was, what could be the remedy of it? How he’s going to let her go. How?
He looked around, a room with memories, those quite and calm sleepy days and naughty nights; there was no feeling, there was nothing that they had left to share with each other, except that one photograph on which his gaze finally got fixed upon. Photograph of his marriage. How badly he wished to see ‘her’ instead of her.
He wanted to cry, or rather howl in pain and let everyone know what he is feeling right now but he stopped. A promise stopped him, a promise of never crying. ‘How cruel you are!’ He thought and smiled in pain.
Finally, he decided to hit the bed next to the lady whom he never loved but got married in hope of moving on in life, just like ‘she’ did. He was not angry on her, how could he ever be? He was just following the road that ‘she’ paved for him but nothing worked for him and may be, for ‘her’ too.
He looked at the clock, 2 ‘ o clock, time to sleep. He forwarded towards the bedroom where his wife was still sobbing. He felt bad for her. Three or may be four lives got destroyed because of one love. He had to let her go and give his wife what she deserves.
He grabbed her from behind while falling on bed next to her, rubbed her wet eyes and when she turned, he faked a smile too.
He could see ‘her’ in his wife. He knew he was hallucinating but still hugged her tightly and asked the almighty, ‘how can I let her go!’.