Into the Foliage.

“So what are we up to today.” I tried to smile. I wanted to explain to him the fact that I didn’t feel emotions the way he did.

“Come with me.” he whispered.

He took me by the hand and we ventured deep into the foliage of our neighbourhood park. The moment we stepped into the treeline we were greeted by a gust of cold wind; it was June. This sent shivers down my spine. There was great darkness beyond the tree line. To my surprise there were banana trees in front of me, or so they seemed in the darkness. I turned out trying to see the pathway behind me, there was nothing but darkness behind me. I started to sweat, I believed I was having a dream. My heart started to vibrate like a cell phone, my face was probably white as a ghost. Dreams had never felt that way ever before.

“What is this place?” I gulped.

“Somewhere only we know.” he laughed as his nails bit into my arm. He was over doing it, I was never going to let go of his hand in this darkness.

“This is not possible…” I muttered as we got into the clearing in the woods.

He circled on the bald patch of forest and sat on a felled tree. “Have a seat, make your self comfortable. ” he mused like a seasoned psychiatrist.

“I am not lying down on this log, these ants, they are huge!” he shook my head. He didn’t notice by the nod was probably more of a shiver.

“They haven’t had interactions with any humans before, we don’t know how they may respond. It’s much of an ecological experiment as a psychological one.” This man was different. My face ditorted as a I tried to focus on his face.

“First tell me, is this a dream?” I asked.

“First tell me this, how is this question relevent?” he smiled.

“I am not sure if I want to continue of wake up.” I shrugged again and I circled the clearing again. Beyond the yonder I heard a squaw that belonged to a species that I didn’t recognize. The cool breeze got me again and I turned around as if some had slapped the nape of my neck. My temples began beating in unison with my trembling heart. Dizziness struck and I cradled my head into my arms as i sat on the ant infested log.

“Not sure where you are isn’t relevent. What is important is that this is how you see your world, at least emotionally. It’s a jungle that is full of darkness, unknown smells and sound. You are doing what a snail would do in such a condition; cower under a moldy rock until your primitive senses would allow you.” he explained as he brought is hand in front of his chest and started cycling it with the palm facing his chest.

“What is this place?” I folded like a crumpled sheet of paper and fell to the ground. ” Take me back, back to where we came from.”

“Where? You will have to wake up to go back where you came from. So far you and I are stuck here.” he said as if consoling me.

“Is this a dream?” I am not sure how many times I had asked the same question already.

“Come with me, I brought you here, in this special place and all you are doing is sticking to reality.” He smiled. He was being generous as it seemed, his eyes were laughing madly.

I said nothing and reached for his arm. He took a left turn and we turned into the foliage.

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The Stranger

The luxury of having a friend is not for me. I rely on the fourth, thank you very much. Quite often this is not enough to  sustain the emotional trauma I have to go through. I was roaming the internet, business as usual, when I came across a blog that asked readers to dive into their subconsciousness. Despite what I may say about myself, I do try to get out of my ‘predicament’ from time to time. That day I sat on my favourite sofa and began pondering the state I was in.

Things weren’t looking so good. The dream, the recurring sense of suffocation and the general gloom all pointed towards a problem that lied within my ‘processor’. With great courage, I stood up and went out of the room. I was going to change things. From now on, I did not need to be sad, at least not by choice.

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The world outside was different on that day. The only thing that had changed was my perspective about it. This fine tuning had brought out the colors of my surroundings nicely. The first thing that occurred to me was the impulse to go to a public park. Public parks were different from what they had been a few years ago. Now they were well maintained, groomed and teemed with life. I sat on a chair that was a testament to ‘pigeon graffiti’. After a few minutes a young man came along and nodded for my permission to sit. I nodded in affirmative and there we were.

“You seem to be in a bind.” He smiled.

I was speechless, spontaneous conversations were difficult outside of my dreams. I effectively pinched my self by hitting my elbow against the back of the chair. I didn’t wake up; finally, Human Contact.

“You can call it that.” I tried to smile, I heard it was always nice to smile to strangers.

“Can I help in any way?” he offered.

“I am not sure how, I would really appreciate it though.” I replied with my fore head furrowed like that of a chess player.

“Ah, that means it is a problem of the spirit.” he put his elbow on the back of the chair and faced me.

“Well, obviously, if it were something physical, I would have seen a doctor or something.” I shrugged. Panic began to set in as I prepared to put my life on his examination table. How could this hurt? I was going to confide in a stranger in a non specific way, no prejudice, no forethought, no holds barred, honest opinions.

“Tell me about it.” he smiled. My heart cracked, was this a dream. Was I going to commit some sort of suicide. The setting was ideal for seppuku.

“I am having night mares about killing myself.” I inhaled.

“So.” He replied casually. The only thing that could have been worse was him taking a casual bite out of an apple.

I was silent. No emotion. For the first time a part of me cried for some attention. It was a rare thing indeed. The majority, the part that has always been in control, disagreed.

“Nothing.” was all that I could say.

“Don’t worry bud, just joking, of course it’s a big deal. No man has to admit that he wants to kill himself.” he smiled with an attempt to show some shame.

“I never said I wanted it, I dreamt about it. ” I clarified.

“It’s almost the same, ” he replied, “by the way, why do you want to do it?”

“I don’t know, impulse I guess.” The answer in itself was impulsive.

“Can I help you?” he asked.

“Excuse me,” I was almost furious, “you are asking me if you can help me.”

“No my dear dear friend, the question is not if I can, the question is if you want it to happen.”

There was an awkward silence. The awkwardness extended by every second that passed. For some times the surroundings came into perspective. The birds chirping, passers-by, the strange cloud in the sky that looked like Abraham Lincoln, the heart beats magnified by the strange and sudden bout of simultaneous introversion and extroversion.

After some time I replied, “Yes.”

A smile sailed across his face, he thrust his hand forwards,”What’s your name?”

“No names for now. We will meet on this bench daily and try to work some thing out.” I clarified.

He whistled in disbelief. “OK!  Done deal. The end point is going to be when I finally make you smile.”

“Or when I kill myself.” I smiled.

The Dark Days of Akhtar Hussain

There is a time of day when time stops, all the humors of the body come to a stand still, an impending sense of doom prevails and begins to suffocate my existence. The journey I have took in my life is all a blur. The future isn’t any clearer. It is like the lucid interval some coma survivors report before succumbing to their oblivious sleep. Up until recently such attacks weren’t worth a mention.

Now they are beginning to define my personality. They are the reason you will see me in shades and pulled up collars. Shying away from the crowd. My complexion has grown a sickly white because of the time I spend indoors churning out my stories. As tired as I have grown of life, I still hate sleeping through it and this is reflected in my pathological desire for caffeine and everything associated with it.

This is not an insight into how came to be what I am, rather a heavily fictionalized journal into my days and nights on this lonely earth.

——————————-

“Guilt is a disease!” These weren’t the words of my psychiatrist (though I could use one) but my good friend Yasoob Ghori.

“Indeed, I could do something about it if I knew why it was there in the first place. No, no…” I shook my fingers as if trying to delete my previous sentence, “…I could do something about it if I were sure that it even existed.”

“Denial, killed the cat.” he pressed on.

“Then I wouldn’t be the first one to go. Would I?” I laughed.

“I certainly hope not, for your sake.” he seemed worried.

This exchange may apparently seem like the discussion of two bros sitting in the college canteen.

This exchange was actually taking place in my office. There was a noose hanging from the ceiling. There were ligature marks on my neck, he had rescued me in time, according to him.

” I am going to put this, some where safe.” he said as he wound the rope around his hand.
“That wouldn’t be the only way out. Would there? ” I joked.

He grew uneasy. ” You are my friend. A good one. I don’t want to loose you. I don’t know how to ensure you of my sincerity but I do.”

“For starters,” I said as rubbed my neck, “Stop! Stop interfering with my life, all this is my fault and no one will be to blame.”

I woke up in the middle of the night. I tried to remember the dream I just had. I had tried to commit suicide and a friend had saved me. The truth was that I didn’t have any friends. Least of all a super here who would rescue me from such a critical situation. I didn’t know any Yasoob, it was a dream. Its prospects as bleak as the my existence.

I woke up for my morning coffee at 4 am. Not too early for me, no Sir, I was just in time for my morning rituals which would span an hour. They were the only source of calm in my sordid days.

Why were my days sordid? I did not know the answers to the question. I hear friends are the ones who help you out of situations like these. I had none. I had rationalized that I needed none. My dreams were telling me other wise.