Eternal Wait

A nearly deserted lane

A barber shop in the shanty

Of that lane

Young barber is on the edge of his shop

He reads a newspaper

We don’t know if he is reading

We also don’t know if the paper is recent

Or even upside down

Like a hawk, his eyes dart left to right

Then right to left, swiftly

And then rest back on the news paper

He is not reading the paper

He can’t be

He is merely there

On the edge of his shop

On the edge of his life

On the edge

He is waiting

Waiting for an elusive customer

To come in

And stare at the mirror casually

Move his fingers through his thick growth

And… ask for a haircut

Or a shave, at least

Barber does not budge

He is like a tiger in the wild

He has to shave someone

Shave off a few rupees from someone

He lowers the newspaper a bit

To search for someone scratching his beard

Or a hero looking boy with long hair

Soon he has to spot such a kill

Who might occupy his empty chair

And he knows it best

Waiting is not easy

He wipes the mirror

Dusts the chair

Then goes back to the hunting point

He is tense

His body is getting tight

Worst of all he is helpless

At the back of the shop

Hangs a brown, grimy gunny bag curtain

On the other side of gunny bag curtain

A female skeleton is leaning on a frail wall

Little girl is scribbling on a note book

Her school fees has to be paid

A baby is squirming in skeleton’s lap

He cries suckling the hanging breast

Utensils are empty

Stove is cold

Life is on hold

On both sides of the brown, grimy, sad,

Gunny bag curtain

Barber fakes reading newspaper

Cry Baby

Over crowded passenger bus was crawling. There was a lot of traffic. The journey was less than half done. Weather also was rather hot. Sun was peeping through the windows. Some of the younger passengers had opened top button of their shirts. Gautam looked around to see general mood of passengers. Most people were speaking on phone, which meant that the heat was not really affecting them, or at least they were not noticing the discomfort. Some were even dozing with their heads rolling sideways and others front and back. Gautam wiped beads of sweat from his forehead with the back of his palm. In a few seconds he heard a soft cry of a small baby. The next moment it quietened. But soon the wailing started again. The mother tried to rock the baby on her lap with sounds of “mumm, mumm”. The cry was from behind, so Gautam couldn’t see them. Soon the cry became very loud and kept going louder and louder. By now many passengers had started turning towards them. Some even suggested to the mother, “baby must be hungry”, “feed her”, “it is very hot, give her water”, “rock her”…

It was becoming very disturbing for Gautam to hear that continuous crying. A small baby’s cry can be very heart wrenching. Soon the baby started getting hiccups. All that sounded very distressing. Then cry started getting softer and weaker. Baby had become limp by now. Mother was looking up at her husband to do something. He seemed totally helpless. Baby now had become fully quiet. Her face tilted sideways down, seemingly lifeless. She had stopped moving her arms and legs…

Extremely worked up with emotions both husband and wife started shaking the baby, but of no avail. Gautam asked if there was doctor in the bus. No one came forward. Mother caught husband’s collar to do something. He seemed dumb struck. Young mother started whimpering. Gradually it turned into cries and then into loud wailing. She was beating her forehead now. Passengers in the bus were now hearing a woman’s cry instead of the baby’s. Mother was now fully out of control. Her body had started leaning towards isle. Husband took hold of the baby and supported his wife with his side so she wouldn’t fall off the seat…

At this point Gautam noticed that the baby was dressed up like an Eskimo! He instantly knew the reason for the baby’s problem. Parents had dressed her up in thick woollen sweater and pant of same material and pattern. Baby also had a monkey cap covering her head, side of the face and all of neck. Gautam urgently asked the man to remove all those woolens starting from monkey cap. Baby was finally left only in her vest and panty. By now the mother had cried enough and had resigned to her fate of losing the child. Gautam also asked everyone on that side to open the windows to let cool breeze in. Young  father now did not know who to tend to. Passenger besides the mother had given him his seat. Gautam said let the baby get some air…

Within a few seconds the baby kicked her legs violently once and then continuously, cried some more and started looking around. She held window’s railing. And soon was enjoying the breeze on her face.

Man looked at the revived child and then at his wife’s stoic expressionless face. 

…little girl was too small to make any sense of all this.

Gem Hunter

Let me look into your eyes

I want live the comfort of drowning once again

In that deep blue ocean

Or is it blue deep, ocean

Your flickering eye-lids

Getting confused

Finding my eyes so close

Inches away from them

My hungry eyes diving into yours

Trying to find gems

I need those valuable gems

Transparent gems of promises

Blue gems of love

Yellow gems of forever friendship

Maroon ones for passion

But my eyes got lost

In the maze of your confused eyes

In that ocean

Many burning objects crisscrossed

Confusing me

What were those things?

They did not allow me in

Keeping me in the shallow

Never letting me search deep in

Beyond that firewall

I couldn’t find any promise

Or passion

Even friendship

Alas there was no love to be found

I am not a gem hunter

I am hungry for them

I need your eyes to say something

Give me a faint hint

A little hope if they could

Something like, “try next time

Or, of course it is possible,

I can’t say it right now”

I feed on such flimsy lies

For the hunger of my heart

For the sake of my survival

For the sake of my sanity

19 June, 2013