The Price of Freedom – A Short Story

Inspired by real events


August 19, 2019, 9:20PM

Aditi

Tonight is going to be a long night. I look at the clock and I know it’s showtime. My father laying still in front of me. Ah, what a sight! His chest heaving up and down to the rhythm of his torpid breaths. I almost want to paint this tranquility. I want to capture this serenity, this moment. The tables have turned. Today, I am in control. Today, I am spoiled by choice. I could talk to my boyfriend, I could be out till late at night, and I could watch a movie. I could do any goddamn thing under the sun. Today, I am a bird and I will spread my wings. I think I want to dance.

Overwhelmed by choice, I decide to play some Frank Sinatra. Music calms my nerves. It’s time to examine the subject. I go near my father and slap him just to ensure that the sedatives have kicked in. He doesn’t move. Impulsively, I slap him again. This one’s for taking away my phone. Then another, for throwing away my skirts. I am enjoying this now. One more, for forbidding me to fall in love and for hitting me. One, for being alive instead of my mother. And last one, for taking away my freedom. His cheeks have flushed red at this point but he doesn’t move. I know he won’t move for a while.

The first time I wished to be away from my father was when I had to go through a whole year without buying a single new piece of cloth because I hadn’t scored all ‘A’s in my third standard. When my grades didn’t improve, the cable connection was cut off next year and this feeling of wanting to be away from him intensified. I felt like a dog on a short lease. I was only rewarded when I performed. Worse, I felt like a circus animal. A performing animal. But I really wanted him to be dead when he almost beat me to death for falling in love. There is this boy with who I want to spend my life, make babies and my father almost kills me for that. I remember laying in a pool of blood. My blood. I felt molested as there was no part of my body, his belt hadn’t touched. The scars were all over my body. My flawless face wasn’t so flawless anymore. My reflection almost irked me. He not only took away my beauty, but also a part of my life. Today, it’s my turn.


August 20, 2019, 5:59 AM

Dad

The rain is relentless. I hear it thrumming on the metal roof and running down the broken pipe into the mud, and I moisten my cracked lips with my tongue. I wonder if they’ll bring me food and water. I wonder if they’re coming at all.​ The last thing I remember was going to bed and the next thing I know I am here, waking up from a hazy cloud of numbness. I am wearing the same clothes that I had worn to bed last night, my white ​kurta pajama which are now mildly soiled as if I have been dragged through my bedroom to the living room to the porch and further down my garden until here. I feel paralysed with my limbs tied and my mouth taped shut. My mouth feels as parched as it gets on the morning after a continuum of inebriation. My head weighs like a hundred kilos. I realize I may have been drugged.

I could hear the thunder ripping the sky outside. It seems even the Gods are furious. It hasn’t rained like this in New Delhi during the past six years.

I am almost certain that this must be a case of robbery as I do not have any enemies that I know of. I suddenly remembered my daughter and wondered where she was. A current jolts through me and I become fully alert. I realized that she was not here so she must be inside the house. Has she also been left to die somewhere like me? But goons don’t just tie up little girls. She could be raped. She could have been gang raped and then killed. No. No. No. No. No. ​Dear God, may they not touch her. Dear God, may Aditi be safe.I​ tried to call out her name but I cannot. There were just stifled cries.

Almost 10 feet away from me, is our backup LPG cylinder that we keep here, as it is safer to keep it outside the house. Next to it stands an antique wooden cupboard that contains a whole arsenal of weapons: a tool box with a hammer, pliers, handsaw, screwdrivers, and knives amongst other things that would have helped me untie myself right now, if only I could reach them. I know this because I assembled this kit myself over a span of 14 years that I have lived in this house and today, I have been held captive in my own garage. I have been tied to a hinge that I planted myself almost ten years back. I helplessly looked around. I observe that there are two sets of muddy shoe prints all over the floor. One must be around size 10 and another it’s half. Probably a male and female.

I must have been dreaming because I see the door storm open and Aditi walks in. She glides in like an angel in her spotless white school uniform. I almost jumped with happiness to see that she’s alright and unharmed. Hot tears once again streaming down my cheeks. ​It’s over.


August 20, 2019, 3:00 AM

Aditi

You know you are soul mates when even your thoughts are in sync. I remember seeing Praveen almost three weeks after the incident. My whole body melted when we embraced. With my best friend’s help, we managed to meet after school at her place. I wept that day in his arms. His strong protective arms almost felt like a warm blanket. He stroked my hair and softly kissed my scars. He told me everything will be alright. “Nothing will be alright till that man is alive…” I said somewhere between my cries. “Then let’s get him out of our way,” he said. I looked at his face to fully understand what he was saying or to search for any traces of humour but there were none. I knew he was suffering too. Praveen and I are not just any high school sweethearts but we have actually battled hardships together. We are endgame. He was the only person by my side when my mother succumbed to her illness and father drowned himself in alcohol without a care in the world. I knew Praveen truly cared for me. We hadn’t been with anyone but each other in past three years. In my heart, I knew I couldn’t live without him. No one else matters. In life, I know you are either a hunter or the hunted. I choose not to be hunted. I choose life.

I have to admit that this was the day when the seed was planted. This was almost two months back. But when last week, he found out my secret phone inside the pillowcase, he not only smashed it against the wall, but also declared that I will be sent off to an all-girls boarding school, almost 5000 miles from Delhi. That was the exact moment when I decided to kill my father and I am not sorry about it. Only I have the decision to choose my own life. No one else can choose for me. Not even “my father”. With Praveen by side, I knew I could do this. Nothing is invincible.

I thought about this decision for days. My decision only became stronger when I realized how much there was to gain from it. After all, one cannot put a price on freedom. I may not have been a class topper, to my father’s plight but this time, I had done my homework. I had watched at least a hundred documentaries and read at least a dozen books on the subject. I am almost excited for my future for the first time in years. I know I will get away with this. I had called Praveen from a friend’s phone and asked him to be here tonight. He should be here any moment now. Outside, the rain hasn’t stopped pouring for hours. It looks like God’s on our side. Amen.


August 20, 2019, 6:15 AM

Dad

I see that Aditi has carefully locked the door behind her. Her angelic face looks eerily calm and composed. I felt a pang of guilt for treating her the way I had been for the past few years but children tend to be lost and they need to be guided. Her grandfather wasn’t the one to spare a stick and that made me what I am today. I am thankful to my father and I know in my heart, one day she will thank me too.

“So you are up, huh? Sooner than we expected.” she says as she looks at me without blinking. “The pills were supposed to knock you out for at least 15 hours.” She continues speaking as if it’s business as usual. She crinkles her nose as she comes closer. “Did you piss your pants, Dad? Ewww!”

I realize the questions were rhetoric. My mind’s running haywire now. Why hasn’t she untied me yet?

“Praveen will be here soon. He’s probably late because of the rain.” She announces. For the first time, it begins to dawn on me that perhaps it is not a case of robbery and maybe, I have been held captive by my own 15 year old daughter. “This must be a joke.” I thought.

“What now? Why do you look so shocked? Don’t act like you didn’t see this coming.” she says as if reading my thoughts. Her voice laced with childlike rebellion. “Did you really think that you could get away with trying to sabotage my freedom? Not-going to-happen. ​Dad.​ ”

There have been a lot of times in the past 41 years when life hasn’t made any sense to me such as when the only woman I ever loved died a slow, painful death right in front of my eyes and there was nothing under the sun I could do to save her but this moment definitely takes away the prize. I hadn’t felt more futile in my whole life. After each chemotherapy, I could see my wife withering away until there was nothing left of her. I knew that life would never be the same. And now, it seemed like my own daughter, the only thing left from my wife, had trapped me in my own house and is on some kind of childish mission to teach-me-a-lesson.

It wasn’t long before I heard another knock on the door. Aditi unlatches the door and strides in the boy whose face is etched in my memory. He too is in his school uniform which is drenched from the pouring rain outside. He’s the boy who took away my little girl. The animal in me awakens, I want to tear him apart. He’s the boy who’s fucking my daughter. Period. There’s no other way to put that.

I still remember the night I first saw this scumbag. I had come back home after a hard day at the shop around 10:30PM. As I parked my car outside, I could hear the music coming from my house. This was unusual. Aditi usually slept around this time and almost never had any friends over. As I walked inside my home, the music got louder. I realized that it was coming from Aditi’s room. I opened the gate at once and there he was, merrymaking with my daughter. The room was filled with cigarette and Aditi was smoking one herself. The room was lit by fairy lights. She was draped in only a bed sheet. It seemed like a scene from a movie. I did what any father would. I grabbed the little bastard by his neck and kicked that piece of shit out of my house, naked in the middle of the night. No warnings were left to be spoken. The message was clear. I wondered for how long all this had been going on, under my own nose. In my own house. I wondered if the maids and the neighbors knew before me.

My daughter, as beautiful as she is, like her mother, walks up to me and rips off the tape from my mouth. That hurt but I didn’t make a sound. I realized I was choked.
“What’s with the tears now, Dad? Do you really expect me to buy all this drama especially when you never gave a shit about my feelings? Huh?”

“Are you going to kill me now?” I asked, sarcastically. She wouldn’t, I knew. We were blood after all. But I felt like I had to ask.


August 20, 2019, 6:47 AM​

Aditi

Praveen was finally here and he had brought everything that we would need today. I looked at my father who was looking at me intently. His face was almost unreadable. I didn’t like that. I wanted him to be scared. Like I had been of him all these years.

“What’s in there?” Dad asks looking at the container.
“Just petrol.”
“What the hell are you thinking? Release me right now, you dumb goat!!” He yells, just as he always does. Yelling is his first reaction to everyone and everything.
“How does it feel to be tied up, father? To feel that your life is in someone else’s hands.” I asked playfully. I could finally afford to be playful after all.
“You have gone mad. Release me right now!” He commanded again.
“Why did you had to be so strict, Dad? Why couldn’t you just let me be? Let us be?” I wanted to know. “He is just using you, you dumb girl. Boys use girls like you and then they leave when they find another one. You think I don’t know anything? I had lived in a boy’s hostel for 8 years. I know how young fuckers think. Your naivety almost terrifies me.”
“You terrify me!” I yelled back but realized now is not the time to lose my cool. “It’s too bad, these will be your last words.” I told him.
“Open the fucking knot…” He almost pleaded. His voice almost begging. I looked at him and for a moment, it all seemed too unreal. He didn’t seem like a man who could hit anyone, let alone his own daughter. He looked so sweet. So vulnerable. I wondered if I was doing the right thing. But it’s not like I had a choice. If he lives, I suffer. I become the hunted.

“Don’t look at me like that, Dad. This story is real. Maybe, a bit too real. No one is going to come in to rescue you. It will be short and simple. You will die and I will get my life back. It’s really that simple.” I told him calmly. I did not want to be angry at him in his last moments.
“Wouldn’t you wish me Happy Independence Day, Dad?” I asked, as I lit a cigarette.


August 20, 2019, 14:59 IST. Times News Network.

Delhi: Businessman killed after fire breaks out at residence in West Delhi

A 41 year old businessman was killed after a fire broke out in his garage at his West Delhi residence on Tuesday morning. The victim lived with his daughter in the house. As reported by his daughter, the victim had gone to fix the garage door early morning when the fire broke out due to a faulty cylinder, supposedly after he lit a cigarette.

“The fire department received information at around 7:30am regarding the fire. We rushed to the spot with two fire tenders. The fire was doused before it could spread to the rest of the house,” said a senior Delhi Fire Services officer. The victim was a widower and is survived by his 15 year old daughter.


29/9/19.

PC: Unspalsh. elijah-hiett-ISUqlGMU7o0-unsplash. ❤

A Note from Posterity


Tell me father-
Were you a child?
To have thought you knew it all
To have thought you knew the best
To have thought that 
you
Understood religion
Understood universe
Understood humans
To have thought 
So highly of oneself 
And yet leaned on God
In the name of guiding light 
To unravel the great mystery of life
Of love and hate
Of love and loss
Wrong and right

Tell me father
Didn’t you know
You, your forefathers
And their grandfathers
Who knew not
the reason
Of blue skies
Of mountains high
That plants do live
the cycle of life
Your forefathers and their grandfathers
Knew not
Difference between 
a fact and a lie
Knew not
Physics
Maths chemistry history biology
Knew not fire 
Knew not rain
Yes them
Your those forefathers
And their fathers
created god.
Father, you created god.
It wasn’t waiting
When Adam and Eve arrived.

And in name of God
There were people whose
houses were burned
sons were lynched
Daughters were touched
Daughters were beaten
Daughters were dragged
And you sat in the comfort
Of your Home
Of your office
Of your car
And talked
And instigated
And polarized
While the capital burned down.
Their homes burned down.
Their homes.
Burned.
Down.
While you listened to music
Hummed in the shower
Attended fancy parties
Holding a glass of champagne 
Overlooking 
A lovely bed of flowers
reading
forwarded texts
With propaganda
Made you a rad
But I know
Your scars were borrowed
So was your pain
Your wars were
Uncalled for
Based on hatred and hunger
And revenge
Because today
None of it matters
And it was all an idea
Just as you were one. 

But i know
I know
You weren’t alone
You were united by divisions
With those you thought to be your own
Divided by boundaries
United by boundaries
Divided by color
United by color
Divided by theocracy
United by theocracy
And it went on and on
But sooner or later
one after another 
The veils were lifted 


And today when we know
There are other realities
We know
It was all a facade
A crutch
A conspiracy for commerce
For power
Just as slavery
Just as holocaust
Just as racism
And
I wish I could bring you
Back
Dig up your grave 
Sit you up
To show you
What a royal circus it was
And you 
a joker
a spectator
A puppet
But also
A co-conspirator 
Watching and clapping 
As you liked
living vicariously 
In a pseudo reality 
Of an idea
That played out too long 
I wish i could dig you up
To show you 
Your whole existence 
Was a lie. 
 

Letter to The Governor of Alabama

Dear Madame Governor of Alabama, would you fancy me with an imaginary ride? I ask this as you happen to be a very creative person who seems to have pushed her imagination to believe that life is ideal and world is utopian.
Imagine that you are 15. Your exams are approaching and because logic and Science have never been your strong suit, you decide to go to your friend’s place for group studies and to brush up some concepts. It’s 7:30 in the evening and you decide to walk back home which is just two blocks from where you live. The winters are here and the roads are deserted. The air is thick with cold. You have almost crossed the first block that a screeching car halts next to you and before you can make heads and tails of what’s of happening, you are nabbed by three masked men. These masked men drive you to some deserted place where you are held captive in a dark room. It is in this room you are raped by these men for days, months and years- no one could say for sure. These men assaulted you both physically and sexually. You were their ash tray and their punching bag. You were also their bed. When the police discovered you a few weeks later, you were in a catatonic state. The medical examinations later revealed that you were pregnant and you didn’t know who the father was. Honestly, you don’t even want to find out because it doesn’t matter who it was, as they were all goons.

Don’t you think you should have had the right to choose the father of your child Madame Governor?

Do you think it is appropriate to force a pregnancy?

Maybe you think it is alright but it turns out to be so devastating for a lot of rape victims who would rather kill themselves than bear their culprit’s child.

Imagine that you are now 20 years old, Madame Governor. The trauma of gang rape that haunted you has somewhat faded. At least you no longer wake up screaming in the middle of the night anymore. You no longer jump with fear when someone gives you a friendly pat on the back. You are less jaded. It’s getting better. You are now studying law at one of the best colleges in the country. After college hours you have signed up for a part time job at a local food joint in order to meet your student loans. Somewhere amongst this topsy-turviness of life, you were fortunate enough to find love. He cares for you. It’s as if “God” is compensating you for all the suffering he bestowed upon you when you were a child. When you are with him, it’s so poetic that all the suffering appears to make sense. After all, you earn this kind of joy.
This morning you are going through your planner to see the class line up and suddenly it hits you that you have missed your period. A few tests later you know that you have been impregnated by the love of your life.
A brief but bitter confrontation later, you realized that your love however is not interested in raising this baby because he has somewhere/anywhere else to be and he’s definitely not interested in marrying you (not that it matters).

As a child, you always knew that when you grow up, you want to be a lawmaker by joining mainstream politics in the greatest country on the face of earth and your parents believed in you because you always passed top of your class. They silently thought that you can even go on to become The President of United States. They exhausted all their money and their savings on your college fees.
But, when you told your parents about this latest “accident”, they seemed devastated. Your parents are outraged by your recklessness. As religious as they are living in the conservative state of Alabama, they are so not interested in this gift of God. You were not such a good investment after all and a child out of wedlock means that your prospective political career is doomed even before it’s begun.
You don’t have time or money or whole hearted support from your family or partner. What you do have is your student loan, part time jobs and a vague sense of ambition to be someone when you grow up.
Worst part is that you don’t even love this baby because you didn’t plan for it and everyday the baby reminds you of your treacherous boyfriend. While your parents question their lack of judgment, you question yours.

But do you think it is fair to keep the baby because some Governor passed a bill banning not to keep it? Do you think you are ready for parenting or are you looking at foster care or God forbid, garbage bins? After all, there are also mothers who abandon their children.

Dear Madame Governor of Alabama, you are 34 now and happily married. Life as is, ran it’s course and you were able to get over your college heart break. In fact, you are over 12 weeks pregnant now. Happily living with the man of your dreams. You and your husband cannot be more excited to welcome your third child. However, over last couple of days you haven’t been feeling so great. You wonder if it’s the morning sickness gone bad. You anyway decide to see your obstetrician tomorrow. Now you are at the doctor’s office, and the doctor doesn’t look very happy navigating the ultrasound screen. Even you can see that your baby is not moving. The doctor is quiet.
An hour later, you learn that your fetus has a neural tube disorder. It is the rarest of the rare disease called Anencephaly, that cannot be cured. There are chances that the baby will be a still born or will not make it more than few days of mortality. By now, you are hysterically sobbing and your husband leaves everything at office to join you at the clinic. The doctor explains to you that although the baby has a disease and his survival chances are less than 0.5 percent, your case doesn’t qualify for termination of pregnancy by law. He explains to you your options, which aren’t that many. You decide to wait for your ultrasound reports for one more week before you make up your mind. The whole week you spend praying and thinking what went wrong. You did everything by the books then WHAT WENT WRONG. The following week at the doctor’s office your biggest fears are confirmed. The baby will not live whatsoever.

You remember that the doctor hinted that one of the options is going to those shady, underground, overpriced clinics that sometimes don’t even sterilize their equipment. You know you are putting your health at a bigger risk but you just cannot go through this pregnancy knowing that there is no other way this will end. There are no surprises here. A fetus with Anencephaly does not survive. Now, are you supposed to carry a baby just so that you can donate his tiny organs 6 months later? You and your husband agree that you don’t want your baby to only know suffering.
After much contemplation, you did make that doctor’s visit in the squalid clinic, the beds of which are bloodstained from other women’s bodies and the ceiling is dampened, on the verge of leaking. Just because a governor decided to think she’s a messenger of God didn’t alter you from making your life decisions and you have never been guilty about it. You have been sad, oh so sad. You still say a little prayer for your baby every night before you go to bed. You pray for it to be happy in heaven. But have you been guilty? Never.

Dear Governor of Alabama, all this is getting too serious. You know the gang rape scenario, not being ready to be a single mother scenario and the terminally-ill fetus scenario is a bit too much maybe. But I wonder if you would accept the gift of God if your husband knocks up one of your house maids while you are caught up rallying your life out and it falls upon you, for whatever turn of events- to raise the love child? I am pretty sure Madame that you’d pray really hard that the baby, it’s mother and even your husband would collectively drop dead. Wouldn’t you now?

Dear Governor of Alabama, when you signed this abhorrent bill banning abortions, you stated that “every life is precious and a gift of God”. This is exactly the kind of statement one doesn’t expect from the lawmakers of first world countries as they are expected to be more in sync with the changing times.
Having made a statement as conservative as “protecting a gift of God”, you have out rightly disrespected the fact that some people may choose to be agnostic. Disrespected democracy. Disrespected the fact that first and foremost, you are supposed to protect your citizens and right now not only your citizens but the whole world is appalled by this imperceptive move. Also how different are you from other radical extremists?
If you think that you could masquerade a political move as a human life protection law then I am sorry for your delusions because nobody is buying this, for you have not even spared the rape victims. It hurts to explain to a woman, who is more than twice my age, that a seed cannot be separated from the fruit.
A fetus doesn’t start breathing till it is 24 weeks old. And although life is so much more than the act of breathing, it should only be a mother’s decision if she is ready to bring in a life to this planet- without any stigma, without any questions being asked at least during the first trimester.
As a citizen of a developing country, I can tell you that people in my country, India, look up to the United States of America as dreamland, floating in the clouds. Grass is green. Sky is blue. Air is clean and liberal. It is a matter of immense pride when someone in a family even travels to the United States, let alone securing an admission at a university or getting a job. It is seen not only as a land of opportunities but also a place where you can just be you. Where it is okay to choose whatever profession you like, where you could wear whatever you like, where you can be out till late because it’s safe to be out, you can marry whoever you like or not marry at all. A dream country which is a lot less conservative than the East. A rescue from the conservativeness that shackles the spirit. But today, it is as if the United States is going 200 years back in time. And today, I can vouch many women share my sentiment, when I say I am relieved to have not been born in the state of Alabama, USA.
I hope the Supreme court of the United States of America ends this madness that Madame Governor, Kay Ivey has started.


Proofreading Credits – My good friend Sri (@Sri_sallan) .

The Old Man and the Sea – Book Review

old_man_and_the_sea.jpg

 

Synopsis

This is a story of an aging and a poor Cuban fisherman named Santiago, who hasn’t caught a fish in 84 days – a symbol of ultimate bad luck in the Cuban fishing community known as “salao“.

The book revolves around three characters: Santiago – the old fisherman, Manolin – Santiago’s apprentice and a marlin. Manolin is a young boy who deeply cares and loves the old man however, due to salao, the young boy is forbidden by his parents to go fishing with the old man for the bad luck is seldom contagious. Determined to catch a fish and break his salao, Santiago sails far deep into the Gulf Stream where he finally hooks a magnificent marlin. The reader might be momentarily relieved here only to find out that the marlin is so giant and powerful, that the old man fails to haul him in and instead, it is the marlin that tows the skiff for next two days, pushing Santiago into deeper waters.

Still not willing to give up, the old man hopes that the marlin will ultimately get tired of towing around and will die of either fatigue or starvation. As experienced as he was, he decided to put up a fight. While he battles the fish with sweat and blood for the next two days, he develops compassion and respect for the magnificent marlin because just as the old man himself, the marlin refuses to give in. The old man wonders: “There is no one worthy of eating him from the manner of his behavior and his great dignity.”

On day three, the marlin finally becomes sluggish in its movement and the old man seizes this opportunity to kill it with his harpoon.  The marlin is now dead and in old man’s control. The old man and the reader is yet momentarily relieved here. The old man tastes the marlin’s flesh and decides that it is one of finest he has ever had and it will earn him a fortune. Could there be a better way to end a what seemed like a never ending salao? However, the marlin’s blood begins to lure ravenous sharks. Santiago kills and drives away as many sharks as he could but the sharks keep coming and there comes a time, he loses his harpoon, his only weapon. It’s almost sunrise by the time the old man reaches the shoreline and not much remained of the magnificent fish. He is so exhausted that he goes back home and slumps into his bed and falls into deep slumber.

Next day, the fishermen gather around Santiago’s boat and measure that the fish is 18 feet long. They feel sorry about Santiago and tell Manolin to let Santiago know. Manolin cries and feels guilty for not being there for the old man when he needed him the most. He vows to accompany Santiago on his next fishing trip.

Review 

A certain kind of wisdom, one which might be comparable to the depth of an ocean is attained only by virtue of age and adversity, for adversity introduces a man to himself.  This book captures the epiphanies and wisdom which only a man as old and experienced as Santiago can posses. The message of the book is quite precise: ‘Man can be destroyed, but not defeated’ or in simple words, it’s all in the head. Experiencing this book definitely  requires some patience. Imagine sitting on a boat in the middle of an ocean and waiting to catch a fish. It could be an hour, a day or days. Life is about being patient and it is only human to hope and romanticize the impending victory. And just as in this book, in life too, sometimes there is no there when we reach there but we have to keep trying. We have to overcome our enemies, our demons – as much powerful as they appear, as much as we appreciate their strength and hold them above us, on a pedestal. Most of the times, they are only as strong as our weakness. The simple plot of this book captures the essence of most complex struggles in life.  Therefore, just as Ernest Miller Hemingway says through Santiago, Man can be destroyed, but not defeated. Righteously marked as one of the finest classics, this novella is definitely a must-read.

Excerpts 

Some of my favorite quotes from this book are:

  • “It is silly not to hope, he thought.”

 

  • “He [Santiago] was too simple to wonder when he had attained humility. But he knew he had attained it and he knew it was not disgraceful and it carried no loss of true pride.”

 

  • “No one should be alone in their old age, he thought. But it is unavoidable.”

 

  • “You were born to be a fisherman as the fish was born to be a fish.”

 

  • “Why do old men wake so early? Is it to have one longer day?”

 

  • “I have never seen or heard of such a fish. But I must kill him. I am glad we do not have to try to kill the stars. Imagine if each day a man must try to kill the moon, he thought. The moon runs away. . . . Then he was sorry for the great fish that had nothing to eat and his determination to kill him never relaxed in his sorrow for him. . . . There is no one worthy of eating him from the manner of his behavior and his great dignity. I do not understand these things, he thought. But it is good that we do not have to try to kill the sun or the moon or the stars. It is enough to live on the sea and kill our true brothers.”

 

  • “He did not say that because he knew that if you said a good thing it might not happen.”
    But, thank God, [the fish] are not as intelligent as we who kill them; although they are more noble and more able.”

 

  • “He looked across the sea and knew how alone he was now. But he could see the prisms in the deep dark water and the line stretching ahead and the strange undulation of the calm. The clouds were building up now for the trade wind and he looked ahead and saw a flight of wild ducks etching themselves against the sky over the water, then blurring, then etching again and he knew no man was ever alone on the sea.”

 

  • “She is kind and very beautiful. But she can be so cruel and it comes so suddenly”
    “the fish’s eye looked as detached as the mirrors in a periscope or as a saint in a procession.”

 

  • “They were as old as erosions in a fishless desert. Everything”

 

  • “Fish,” he said, “I love you and respect you very much. But I will kill you dead before this day ends.”

He left his Home.

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Photo Courtesy: flick: Aftab Uzzaman

He left his home,

to gather light

to feed his soul

to construe his mind

to gather stories

to gather scars

to gather light

straight from the stars.

 

He left his home

for a new emprise

to nourish gain

to steer plight

to see come alive

what he had read as a child

the oceans, the mountains

the chaste and the vice.

 

To see what it made of him

to duck the mold,

to embrace the whim-

of creating the less created

of trying the less tried.

He left his home

to become worldly-wise.

 

The mirror now reflected

a thoughtful visage.

devoid of vanity,

pragmatism disparaged.

A face with eyes

that held what it saw

and saw as it was

no notions prefixed

no conclusions suffixed

 

A face with lips

that curved when it could

that kissed when it could

for love is rare

and did bliss ever lasted so long

that it would succumb every battle

one ever fought for.

Lips that weighed

what they say

for they had seen some

and didn’t like their ways.

 

Face with ears

that had grown more patient

Sometimes that wished

they had heard a bit harder

with not so much agitation

Maybe then,

just then,

some paths

may have differed.

 

A face that knew

you give before you take

A face that knew

that struggles only change.

So he ventured a little farther

for he had already left his home

a little farther wouldn’t hurt

a little farther

he might as well roam.

Despite all that has been

seen, said and heard

he feared nothing

but to be the one in a herd.

***