Zero (A poem)

Preface:- The poem is based on an abstract topic.

What is the point of it all?
When a zero means nothing at all.


An absence, A lack of presence, A void.

Zero’s meaning in itself is devoid.

 

But why did it hurt when it appeared as my marks?
Why did it become an indicator, A blip to show how i’m not ‘that’ smart.

I was mocked, scolded and taught to pull through.
Avoid zero like a plague, was the only truth. 

To me the zero is dreadful.
Reminder to a 

Painful, Regretful, Resentful past. 

Years spent on avoiding the plague.
I wonder where my self esteem would be,

If they ever taught me how to learn from mistakes.  

 

No matter how much i despise it.
No matter how dumb i am,
Zero meant trauma, it assured me that ‘i can’t’
But
It meant everything to my suffering aunt.

 

An ailment scorched her perfect life.
Cancer, her hereditary plight.

The plunge into darkness,
Was painful to witness.
She cried, cursed, prayed and believed.

She tried giving up but failed.
She withstood and prevailed.

Zero cancer cells were all that remained. 

 

What is the point of it all?
Does the zero really mean nothing at all?

 

It cursed the life of a dear friend.
He chased the number of zeros at his salary’s end.
Zero days for himself, He was paranoid.
Now only his voice echoes,
In his penthouse that resembles a void.


It brought joy to my struggling dad.
Zero debt, No interest, No cost EMI’s
He tried his best, to quieten my cries.
He afforded the luxuries all my friends had.
The only thing he couldn’t afford.
Was to see me sad.

To me the zero was dreadful.
A reminder to my scar-ridden heart.
A number that keeps things apart.
Like negatives and positives on a number line chart.

 

What is the point of it all?
I am really confused. I’m not that smart.

Maybe 

There is a point to it all.
Zero means something.
Maybe its unique to one and all.

The crazy town of salem.


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Let me tell you about the town of salem,
The town where it all went down.
The town of coincidences,
The town of crude references,
The town of betrayal,
The town who’s Sheriff was Mr. Brown.

Mr. Brown wasn’t wise enough, nor was he of brawn.
He shot an innocent lady, he was glad he did it when no one was around.
He hid the body, to save his face, but couldn’t gauge,
the deputy staring from far away.
Mr. brown was blackmailed, Mr. Brown was in terrible dismay.

Mrs. Brown was a unique creature.
A hit man hidden within her feminine features.
She knew of what to do.
With a swift plan and a clean kill,
the deputy was no more.
But there was Mr. brown’s will.

Martha cared of the sins of her parents.
She was agitated when she found out.
She made a coup, with bold new move.
She wanted to rattle her parents out.

Paula was the goal, the reason for this elaborate plan.
She was the secret lover, of a man called Mr. Brown.
She was the one who was gunned down,
Mr. Brown faked her death, shot her, to incite the town.
Once they overthrow Mr. Brown,
Once Mrs. Brown knows that her husband is wrong,
Once Martha loses hope and moves on.
Paula and him could be together, alone.

But what comes next, was for the best.
An act of god, a conclusion to this quest.
Mrs. Brown was clever, a tad too sly.
She rattled out Mr. Brown,
She betrayed him in broad daylight,
All to become the new sheriff, the quest of power was her elaborate plan.

Mr. Brown got his wish fulfilled.
He was ousted, at the town’s will.
With Paula, he left the town with a thrill.

Without a trace of discontent, Martha cheered.
Martha was an agent of justice, a wise overseer.

As for Mrs. Brown, she was on cloud 9.
Being a sheriff as well as the hit man.
She was unstoppable.

So now you see,
what fun would it be, to be in the town of salem.
An epic drama, filled with emotions and karma.
This story sounds like fantasy.
But look around, your own old town, there’s a lot to see.
Humans are crazy creatures, crazy for reason maybe?

Gone with the wind.

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Diary entry #420 –

I felt pretty bummed out the other day. Work seemed like a chore for the first time.
I got into animation through pure dedication and ambition but I haven’t been feeling like myself lately. Sifting through frames of still images is kind of boring at times.
Greg got visited by the fairy other day. Lucky bastard. Only a few are fortuitous to be visited by this elusive fairy. I know a few of my friends who’ve met her, it’s the reason they’re as successful as they are now. Legend has it that she creeps into your bed some random night, interferes with your dreams to wake you up. Once you’re up, she does all the paperwork and then with a swift movement of her wand, she makes you perfect. She grants the individual perfection in every aspect of life. Which is pretty fucking cool, in my opinion? People still argue if living the perfect life and being the perfect one is an ideal way to live. I usually turn a blind eye to that.

I haven’t seen Greg since the day he met the fairy. People say he quit his day job. I can’t help but envy him. Not that i despise my job, i don’t know what i despise as of yet. Maybe that’s a flaw i need correction for.
I often wish that she would pay me a visit sometime soon.

Ever since the Greg incident, I usually sleep half awake. I leave the light on, incase ms. Perfection pays a visit. I have been peeing a lot during night time. I’m not sure if it’s deliberate or I’m just nervous.
I can’t possibly give up sleep for her though. I’m not even sure if she might pay a visit in the next few years.
But alas, hope would keep me awake.
I think I should end this entry now. This day was productive, but not interesting.

As soon as I closed my diary, I heard a rustle at the window behind me.
Could it be? She’s here already!
I jumped out from bed and raced towards the window eagerly. The bone white moon shone through the windowsill with a silhouette covering a part of it. I leaned over the window only to find Humphrey. Humphrey the single father pigeon, nursing his little ones. I have no idea of how Humphrey being a male nursed his children but I chose to ignore it.

People are seldom awake to greet me when i visit.” I heard a voice from behind.
I look to my rear and find her sitting on the side of the bed, arranging some papers.

How did you get in? I didn’t even notice you!” I inquired.

Let’s not ask questions to a mystic being. You’re wise enough.” She said as she ruffled through the papers and adjusted her spectacles.

She didn’t look like a fairy at all. It’s not right to follow stereotypes, but I thought a pink dressed, small winged creature would greet me tonight. She wore a pant suit and looked like an executive of a company. With proper combed hair and a really sophisticated tie.
Words can’t describe how disappointed i was when i realized that she won’t have a wand either.

 

So you’re the Perfection fairy? I’ve heard a lot about you. How are you doing today?” I tried to calm my nerves as I sat beside her.

Oh please, just call me Helen. I’m doing fine! Thank you. I just need to get the job done fast, I’ve got places to be.” She said as she pulled out some instruments from her backpack.

“Excuse my weird behavior. I was too excited to meet you. Is there anything I could help you with?”I said.

Oh thank you. Could you put on this ring for me please?” she said she handed me a ring connected to a monitor that she held on to.

I put the ring on, expecting some kind of surge of energy through me. But I felt nothing. I didn’t realize that I squeezed my eyes shut while putting on the ring; I probably looked like a fool.

“If you’re curious, this will check your vitals and sense the amount of perfection you need.” She said trying to hide a smile. She was probably giggling when I tried to put on the ring, I may or may not have looked like Frodo.

Give me a second.” She said as she dug her head into the monitor, scanning through the numbers running through it.

Oh my, How? Is this even possible?” she said placing her palm over her dreary face.

“What? Am I perfect already? Wow. I knew it all along! No wonder no one liked me and i seldom had friends.” I said with a sassy smirk.

She looked up to me and gave a disgusting look.

I’m sorry. But what’s wrong? Should I put it on again maybe? I tried to peep into her monitor.

Yeah, you’re perfect Paul. I think you need some time to let that sink in.” She said while typing on her device.

 

How could it be? Me? I’m perfect? I’m supposed to be the idol to the lonesome strangers walking this earth in pursuit of perfection. I can’t possibly imagine me being that guy. I’m no god. I’m no saint either. I still shiver while talking to a crowd. I still fear the thought of being rejected. I still despise myself at times. All I do is stare at a screen for several hours and socialize with my pets. That’s not how perfect people behave.

This might be due to some error. Could you check again?” I ask her nervously.

“Errors aren’t a thing for us. Think about it. An error caused by the people bestowing perfection.” She says with a busy tone.

It can’t be! Check again!” i felt some aggression building up within me.

No Paul. You’re unique. Calm down. You’ll have to come with me.” She put a hand over my shoulder.

All of sudden, I felt a gush of wind smothering my face. I felt blinded for a second and in a moments notice, i find myself in a dark alleyway.

I look down and find myself naked. She doesn’t appear to be around. I’m glad that she’s not; my mind isn’t glad, it needs answers. I would be lying if I told you that I had a clue of why was I here.
I find a note lying in a puddle of tar like substance in the corner of a bin near of which I landed.

The note said:
I know you’re confused. I know you’re in a deep dilemma. I’m afraid I’m not allowed to answer your questions. I’m instructed to leave you here. It seems like your environment restrained your abilities. We have placed you in an ideal position. I wish you the best of luck. All your belongings have been taken care of.
This is the protocol we need to follow for anomalies like you. So far, you’re the first anomaly.
Do well.

What’s the deal with tragic stories and anomalies being related every time? Well, this solidifies the hope that I’m going to be a billionaire soon. Unless someone catches the future billionaire naked tonight.

I look around and find a scrap of cardboard to cover myself. The city lights flicker through the reflection of the puddles surrounding the alleyway. I find Leo, my cat lurking around the corner of a garbage can.

I sit on a corner, shell-shocked. Leo snuggles beside me. ‘Look where being perfect got you’ whispers my mind.
Look where it’ll take me’ I whisper back.

I may still get anxious, I may act silly. I may still make some wrong decisions. I may still be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I may still get nervous. I may still hesitate to talk to a crowd. I may still make a mediocre friend, a disappointing son. But I find solace in the fact that it’s all part of a grand plan.
It’s the intricacies of these flaws that make me perfect.
It makes me who I am.

I stare at the crescent moon with laying by my side. Lying beside a gutter isn’t bad once you know that you’ll end up in a mansion some day. I’m not sure if i want one. I find the warmth of Leo comforting enough.
I caress his soft fur as i fall into a deep slumber.

 

Out of order.

 

When the sky gets cloudy,
When the stars misalign,
When gloom takes over,
That sight always makes me feel alright.

The bright golden silhouette beaming out the scratched glass.
Calling out to me, pulling me into that ecstatic trance.
As I move closer, as I get another hearty look.
Those curves never fail to impress me; they never fail to make me feel shook.

With every step I take,
My heart beats with a different rate.
My eyes water, I float, losing all the dreaded weight.
Nothing could make my day better, if nothing was her beautiful name.

As I approach the vivid glass,
I’m pushed out of that ecstatic trance.
The out of order sign beams at the top, taking away my only chance.
The chance to reconcile.
The chance to meet her one more time.
The chance to see her smile.
The chance to devour her with my eyes.
The chance to make my day alright.

Dread takes a toll.
Misfortune comes upon us all.
It’s fills me with fury.
It lights up all that pent up angst.
But alas, that glass holds us apart.
As I stare at that golden packet,
It breaks my delicate heart.

As I stare I can’t help but feel.
The aggression filling into me.
With a fist of fury, I bang the smudged glass.
“But that won’t fix us.” Said my feeble heart.
As soon as I fall to my knees,
I hear a crackle, a rustle of that plastic tarp.
I look up, I’ve just witnessed the act of god.

The bag slides down in all its glory.
Falling into the tray below, from the second storey.
It fills me with joy.
I feel like I’m on cloud 9.
My heart was fixed instantly, i can’t deny.
Being out of order, the machine still respected the relationship between the bag of chips and I.

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Dear friend

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Dear friend,
We’ve had our scuffles,
We’ve had our fights.
You stuck around every time.
You’re the person, I’m glad to call a friend of mine.

You never needed anything in return for making me smile.
You’re the purest person that comes to mind.
Yeah, you might need the money I borrowed from you but that’s alright.
We’re friends after all, you’ll forget about that after a petty fight.

I turn to you when I seek advice.
I turn to you when I want to speak my mind.
It’s almost as if you don’t listen to a word of mine.
Until you reply with a remark, about how I’m wrong and you are right.
Right as always. 

You’re a great money lender, its not the only reason you’re a friend of mine.
I’ll surely return the money I owe you, I might not do it in time.
Let’s not let materialistic things control this relationship between you and I.

Not bound by commitment, I feel strangely connected.
It breaks my heart, to find you dejected.
I feel responsible; I know I’m supposed to make things alright.
But talking about feelings always feels eerie.
Instead of asking, I’ll guess what makes you feel dreary.
Then through an intuitive maneuver I’ll try to get in your mind.
I’ll never be invasive, but I’ll surely make you feel alright.

You’re the reason I feel ugly.
You’re the reason I constantly try to dress nice.
Yet, every time I look a little bright.
“You look like a clown” is what you say, feeling a little jealous inside.

You’re special.
You’re irreplaceable. At times, you’re extremely nice.
To make me human, you’re presence would suffice.
You’re unique; you’re one of a kind.
You’re the most amazing person; I’ve met in my entire life.
I may never convey my feelings but I hope you realize.
I wouldn’t be me, without you by my side.

So why worry about petty little things?
We can’t let a debt intervene our joyful life.
I might never return the money I owe you.
But we’re good friends now.
Isn’t that nice?

 

 

Panic room

The voices from hell called out to me. Disfigured bodies sat across the room, chanting in their mystic voices. Something was coming. Someone was coming.

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I wasn’t aware of how I ended up in that dreaded room, but wondering about that was the least of my worries. The room seemed only 50 ft. wide, 50 ft. tall. The walls were glistening white. The absence of light made it difficult to guess the depth of the floor.  I felt breathless, I felt restless. I tried to move but somehow my legs wouldn’t budge. A dim source of illumination hung above the red door. It hung stiff.
The eerie silence in the room made it hard to breathe. The light dimmed, it dimmed smoothly.

The air smelled like ash. Soot and dust covered the floor. Trails of footsteps lead to the red door. An invisible force had a hold on me. With my hands locked behind my back, I couldn’t move. Nails dug deeper into my wrists with even with the slightest of movement i made.

Escape stood just a few strides away, yet I couldn’t move.

The light flickered and all of a sudden, the room grew hot. The light flickered with a flash and I was blinded for a few seconds. What came next is something I couldn’t have imagined even in my wildest of dreams. Nightmares couldn’t recreate the emotions I went through in that room.

The heat was unbearable, yet I was alive. I could feel the flames rising high within the room. I opened my eyes and saw a figure standing across the room, facing the door. By a glance, I was assured that the figure was far from human. Horns pierced through its back. Blood dripped from the scars that looked like lashes covering its back. The scaly skin on its back seemed oddly burnt.
It stood 40 ft. tall, headless. It had claws, sharp and crooked ones. I was so consumed by fear that I couldn’t feel the temperature rising in the room. Hellish fires engulfed the peripheries of the room.

The feeling of helplessness is something I hope no one has to go through. In the moment, I still couldn’t help but wonder the reason of me being in this room. Why was I in this portal to hell?

The light flickered; each flicker had a blinding flash. With every fleeting moment, the temperature increased. I could feel the absence of flesh in my body, I was oddly aware that it melted away.
I was horrified at the sight I saw when I looked down upon myself.
I heard chants in the distance. Blood was smeared on the glistening white walls.

The blinding flash brought with it, a new sight. A group of figures sat in the middle of the room, forming a circle. I somehow knew that they were performing a ritual. The figures chanted a bewildering verse. They were the same monstrosity I saw a few moments ago. The sight of several of them sent chills down my spine.

Heads encircled the fire raging in the midst of the room.

I knew I had to escape; it was evident that I wasn’t supposed to be there. I knew that something was coming.
My breath started to get heavier, the air in the room thickened with smoke. Suffocating, I had the urge to scream. But screaming was surely not a viable option.

The figures chanted their verses vigorously. They chanted in rhythm. It felt almost as if any mistake they made would have dire consequences. I felt terrified and curious at the same time. The fire in the middle danced with the rhythm. The heat turned up with every syllable they spoke in their hoarse, hellish voices.

The red door stood just a few strides away.  The door was inviting, the feeling of freedom called out to me. I tried to yank away the chains restricting me. I pulled with all my might. The nails dug deeper. Blood seeped through the rigid nails. I could hear the drips of blood falling onto the floor even through the noisy chants. I felt like screaming. The pain was unbearable.
I couldn’t afford to make noise. I knew my demise inched closer with every second I wasted.
As I struggled to move, the pace of their chanting grew more. The fire raged.

The light flickered all of a sudden, and they stopped.
The room grew hotter.
A hoarse voice pierced through the thick sheet of silence engulfing the room.

“What next, master?” The figure on the far right, said to the one sitting right in front of me facing away from the red door.

“We pray.” said the master.

The master was the only monster with its head intact.

The master looked right at me as I stood tethered to the wall opposite to him. His eyeless sockets sent shivers down my spine. I had to leave. It was now or never. I felt timid in company of these headless beasts, I found hope in that.

“We pray with the last breath in our lungs; it’s the only way we can unleash the deity.” said the master as he arranged the apparatus lying in the middle of group.

He looked right through me; he seemed unaware of my presence. The monsters proceeded to clasp their claws together. With a flicker and a blinding flash, the fire engulfed the room again.
The scorching heat in the room was unbearable. I was desperate to escape.
I tried to yank my hand free, but the grip was too strong.

The monsters were chanting again, they were chanting with all their might this time. All of a sudden, one member went limp and fell into the flame.
I was petrified. As his gigantic body disintegrated within the flames, their chants grew faster.

I could feel my hands trembling. I had chewed my lips away in fear. With a swift movement I pulled my right hand with vigor and it broke free.
The fire raged as each member fell into the flame one by one.

The master was the only one left. He chanted away religiously watching the flames devour his disciples.
I knew that he was next. He was the next victim to the monstrous flame. But the deity was coming, I couldn’t even imagine the sight of a monster like that.

I had to escape by any means.
With all the tenacity I could muster up, I screamed and pulled my left hand. I heard a crack. I envisioned my arm being cut off, but it was the chains that cracked.

The light flickered.

Suddenly, I found myself standing in the middle of the room. Flames engulfed my timid body. In a flash, the fire vanished. I stood in the middle of the pentagram drawn on the floor, with the master staring right at me. Ashes flew across the room.

The doorway to hell was wide open. The red door swayed with the hot breeze.
The light was nowhere to be found.

The master looked up.

“Your excellency, we’ve been waiting for you.” said the master to me with a drop of magma running down his scaly cheek.

“We imagined our deity would be like us. Maybe demons aren’t supposed to look terrifying always” he said as he bowed to my feet.

Hold on.

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What are you afraid of?
Why did you stop trying?
Why do you abandon your dreams?
Why did you stop flying?

Is it because of the people shooting you down?
Is it because of the fear of losing the crown?
Is it because you think you’ll make a mistake?
Is it because you can’t bear that ache?

Oh pretty bird, you’ll surely fall down.
One day, you’ll come crashing to the ground.
And when you do come crashing down, When you can’t help but frown.
When you feel like your wings are clipped.
When you feel like you’ve lost your instinct.
Hold on.

You’ll lay on that ground, in the scorching heat.
You’ll curse up a storm, you’ll feel beat.
You’ll blame yourself, you’ll believe that you’re dead meat.
For not softening the collision, you’ll blame your feet.
Hold on.

When you feel like the dread has passed.
When you know that the pain is in the distant past.
Fear will creep up and make the feeling of vain last.
You can get back up and be free of it at last.
Or lay there helpless, as the sky turns dark.

You’ll fall, you’ll stumble.
You’ll take flight and then tumble.
You thought you were invincible in the endless skies.
Know that the scars are there for a reason, I hope you feel humble.

You dream of soaring, but never consider the pain.
Think of flying, block out the fear and the vain.
When you get back up there, I hope you’re safe.
I hope you learnt from that mistake you made.
Fear chained you to the ground.
You abandoned the dreams, you let them fade.

Now that you’re up there, I hope you know.
When you come crashing down again, don’t make it such a shit show!

 

Afterthoughts- This song was loosely inspired by a song. I highly suggest you give it a listen!

Leave your feedback and criticism in the comments below 🙂

We’ll be the heir.

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Oh mighty child, what have you done?
In this ruthless world, what have you become?
You were meant to be strong; you were god’s chosen one.
We feel responsible; we’re the cause behind this dreaded outcome.

Oh how blessed we were to see you cry for the first time.
The feeling when we held you for the first time, was sublime.
We sheltered you from the slightest of threats.
You were that tiny drop of love; all that’s left now is regrets.

We couldn’t pick you up every time you fell.
We couldn’t help you, even when you thought you were going through hell.
You had so much to learn, you had so much to yearn.
You were never scared, you never faltered.
But whenever you called out for us; we should’ve answered.
Maybe strength is exhaustive; Maybe it fades with every new scar.
We’re sorry we didn’t help you; we thought it was better to care from afar.

Oh how we wish you never grew up.
Oh how we wish you never stopped crying.
We can’t imagine the pain you went through,
The pain that made you consider dying.

We’re guilty; it’s us who can’t stop crying.
Oh how we wish we go back in time to just hold you,
Oh how we wish we could embrace your weakness instead of denying.

We’re sorry for not being there.
We’re sorry for not sharing your despair.
We’re the killers; we’re the ones god wouldn’t spare.
You were strong, strong enough to hold in more than you could bear.

You’re still the light in this lonely life.
You’re the palm that wipes off these tears.
You’re still our only love.
We’re indebted to have a child like you.

This strength you leave behind won’t be left in despair.
You’ve inherited it to us.
We’ll be its rightful heir. 

The consequences of dreaming.

The only down side of dreaming is that those dreams usually don’t clarify the obstacles one has to overcome to achieve it. Dreams have consequences, dire ones.

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The street light flickered on the lonely damp street like a firefly swaying in its final flight. As I pulled over to the street across an alleyway, I felt a sigh of relief. The lights of the ATM shone through pitch black night sky like a beacon of hope. Shutting the engine down for the day is like the relief one gets after running a sprint. This isn’t what I dreamt of when we decided to move to the great city of Mumbai.

“You’ll have a future there.” said dad as we stepped onto the last train leaving Udaipur.

We didn’t leave Udaipur for my future. For all I knew, Udaipur was well-developed and the living conditions there were far pleasing compared to Mumbai. I didn’t move here for a selfish goal of living the dream. I came here seeking the mercy that the medical advancement of Mumbai could provide.
I believe that my resemblance to baba, my dad is very evident. Selfish goals disgust us. This struggle is to help him see again. Eye cancer rendered him blind before my birth. The tumor in his retinas would’ve been fatal if the doctors didn’t take his vision away from him. He knew what trees looked like, he knew what the world looked like. But he never knew what his son looked like. Whether his son had the same nose as his baba’s, whether he had the same contagious smile. He wished he could see amma, my mom for the last time before the blackout, it’s my mission to make sure he sees her for the rest of his life.
Baba always took it playfully. Cancer is very mysterious.
The brains of the soldier cells in our bodies go haywire and commence in friendly fire in order to survive. It’s the analogy my dad used. I remember how he advised me to never try to high-five a blind guy.
It turns out that the cancer left traces of it in the eyes even after the initial surgery. We had to hurry and do something about it. The doctors suggested that maybe we could do an organ transplant and baba could have his vision back too! It was good news, a silver lining to the mighty dark cloud looming above our heads.

I pull my window down, let the cool breeze push out the thick air which usually envelopes me whenever I think about cancer. Solitary moments like these help me clear my mind. I close my eyes for a few minutes. Doze off to the sound of crickets chattering. I wonder what kind of gossip they have to share in the middle of the night.

“Crickets chirping is an indication of relief.” My mom used to say that. I wonder if she was being superstitious or was she just making it up. I miss her, but leaving her behind in Udaipur was necessary. I feel guilty for separating my parents for a while, but he had to come to Mumbai for the surgery. I know how eager amma is to see dad, this will be the reason why she’ll dress beautifully again.

The phone rings pulling me out of the trance I was lost in. I may have forgotten to turn off the app. I look over and turn off the app in aggression. “I’m glad this is the last day of me as an uber driver.” I say to myself with a grin. Monetary issues pulled me into this dreaded job. I somehow had to make ends meet, baba’s life was at stake. Today is a relief because I’ve finally saved enough, earned enough for the surgery. The doctors can make those retina’s function again. They’ll finally pull out those soldiers from war.

The ATM light flickers, inviting me to complete the journey I had embarked upon a year ago.

I pull up the window, grab the essentials before leaving the car. I feel a certain kind of euphoria walking towards the ATM. Time seems frozen. I’ll finally provide my baba what he deserves. Amma will finally breathe that sigh of relief she had held back ever since baba was diagnosed. We’ll finally be out of financial ruin. I’ll finally see them smile again. I’ll finally see the doom that has been lurking over our heads disappear.

I remember what baba said in the ICU before “I want to see you get married before I go.” I can’t wait to prove him wrong, I can’t wait to assure him that he isn’t going anywhere.

A blast of cool air hits me as soon as I pull the door of the lone ATM on the abandoned street. I didn’t realize that I had been smiling wide the whole time until I saw my reflection upon the dimly lit ATM screen. ATMs have made it very convenient to transfer money nowadays. No filling lengthy deposit forms, no standing in hour long queues. Just push some buttons and Voila!
I push my debit card into the slot and pull out with a firm grip. I look upon the screen and see a strange reflection behind me. Someone grabs a hold of my hand as soon as I pull the debit card. Fear seeps in slowly.

“Push the withdraw button” the man whispers into my ears. As soon as I resist, I feel a cold sharp sensation near my hip.
“Push the button or else you’ll regret it” he says he pokes the knife into my hip.

I feel dizzy all of a sudden. A dozen possibilities run through my head as I stand there frozen. I can’t give the money away, not in any circumstance.

I felt instinctive and helpless at the same time. I had to deposit the money no matter what.

 “Please, don’t. I don’t have a lot of it.” I say trying to stay calm.
He makes a gentle slash around my hips. I could feel the warm blood running down my thighs. I squeal.
“Does it look like I care? Do as I say or you’ll be here all night.” he says pushing me towards the ATM.
As soon as he pushes me towards the ATM, I sneakily push the deposit button. I cover the screen up so that he doesn’t catch a glimpse of it.
“I don’t live here. My family is really poor, baba is dying. Please, have mercy.” I try beg in a muffled voice.
“You made the wrong decision of coming here!” He screams into my ears. He grabs a hold of my hair and bangs my head over the glass door.  I could see the cracks on the door through my blurred vision. My head rang, I could feel the blood droplets trailing down my forehead and some of it trapped in my eyebrow and eyelids.
He realizes that he made a mess and it’s hard to get away with what he has done now.
“Do as I say or else you’ll regret it” he says shoving me towards the screen again.

I see the amount bar flickering, I know I have meager chances at this. I take a deep breath, try and calculate the odds. I close my eyes, I know what my next move is.

“Or else what?” I say as I dart to the side and give him a strong push. He looses his footing and falls to the corner of the cabin, screaming. I hurry and type the amount. “2,00,980”
The green deposit button was just inches away until he got up got a hold of me. He pushed me away, that sly criminal.

He’s so disturbed by the fact that I was giving him a fight, he didn’t realize that I was inches away from rendering all of his efforts futile.

“How dare you!” he screams into my ear locking both my arms and pushing me towards the door. I feel a drop of blood on my lip, warm and salty. Both of his hands are engaged in restraining my arms. The knife dangles from the holster in his front pocket.
He catches me eyeing it.
“You better not move again” he says grinning. He grinds his teeth as he says it. The odd smell from his mouth disgusts me. He has grimy hands and an extremely firm grip.
“Do as I say” he says clenching onto my wrists locked behind my back.
“Okay I’ll do as you say. Spare my life, please. I have a family.” I beg.
“Exit the deposit option. Now!” he says with urgency.
“I can’t do it, I need my hands for it.” I say trying to sound pleasing enough.

This is my final chance, the last resort.
He lets go off my hand. He tries to grab the knife dangling from his waist.
I spring into action, push him away. I jump onto the machine and hover my hand over the green deposit button.
He doesn’t lose his composure this time. With a swift movement, he stabs me right in the abdomen. I knew it was coming, my body seemed ready for that sharp sensation.
I could feel the world recede. The cold, stainless steel leaves a sharp thumping sensation in the flesh. I lose my breath. I try to muffle my scream, as my job isn’t done yet.

I push him, with all my might. I press the deposit button, it shows an array of pictures of people I send money to frequently. A picture of my mother flickers on the buzzing screen. She has a broken smile, she never smiled fully. I’m glad I could see my amma smile for the last moments of my life though. I could see the monster through the reflection. Furious and infused with rage, he leaps onto me. I make sure I tap my mom’s face before going down.

“It’s done.” I laugh at his wicked face.

He screams as he leaps onto me as i laid helpless on the floor. With his enormous body towering over me, he stabs my chest several times. The cold look in his eyes seemed comforting. He grabs my collar and screams some slurs at me. I can hardly figure out what he’s saying as I smile. He looks over the screen and then looks at me with more bottled up rage.
He scurries to check my pocket for any other valuable stuff.

He looks at me and says “you brought this upon yourself.” before leaving sneakily.

I pull myself up, lean over the glass door. My vision gets blurrier with every breath I take. I lie straight with my head resting on the glass doorway. I look at the street and see my car being driven off on the other end of the street. I still can’t help but smile.

Baba finally got what he deserves. Mom will need to hold that sigh of relief for a while more, but baba will make it alright. I did justice to the struggles they went through to bring me up. People usually find inner peace in romantic settings, i find inner peace lying on this cold floor.

I breathe in the cool air, sigh a little. I hear crickets chirping outside, maybe they gossip about the sins people commit during nighttime. Relief is the only thing on my mind. The pain builds ever so slightly, the vision recedes ever so slightly. The AC buzzes in its ignorance, the bright light stings my eyes. I look over my chest and see the knife still buried in my chest. I giggle. I look over and see the CCTV peering at me. It almost felt like it blinked like a Cyclops.

“Justice will come looking for you and when it does, you brought it upon yourself” I say to the empty cabin in the lonely street.

I feel lost in a trance, I feel at peace. I might not have followed my ambitions. I didn’t chase the arbitrary thought of being rich. Success wasn’t tangible for me. Success was accomplishing this dream. Baba deserves this. Baba deserves the world.

“I want to see you get married before I go” I say to myself mocking baba’s voice.

I giggle. Look over to the dark blue sky decorated with scattered clouds and the bone white moon.

I might not get married, but I find solace in the fact that he isn’t going anywhere.

Afterword- I sincerely thank you if you made it all the way! 🙂 Your attention means the world to me. Share this story with someone who’ll surely sacrifice themselves for their parents. I hope this had some kind of impact.

Post it as a story on instagram if you liked it a lot. Tag me and your friends 🙂 I’d appreciate that.
Love to all of the people reading this, i hope you have a wonderful day 🙂
Cheers!

What about the vows?

6AxK

The storm last night was terrifying. The winds whistled as they plowed down trees. The rain battered the streets. It seemed like the storm was there for a reason. It seemed like the winds wanted to convey a message. Maybe it was there to punish the ungrateful, it was there to punish those who have sinned.

The storm passed, faded into the sunlight that peered shyly through the clouds. I could hear the rumbling fade. I clenched onto the mattress, covered my face with a pillow to gently ignore the sunlight. I stared onto the mirror to the side of our bed. Mornings like these are reminiscent of the good old times.

As I let out a deep sigh, her hand slid through my waist. It trailed right across my waist and onto the chest. The soft touch seemed to ease the stiffened muscles on my chest. I’ve never felt better.

“Brad?” she said with a creaky yet soft voice. The voice had a persona of its own.
“You were shivering last night” she said as she caressed my chest. I could feel her chin on my shoulder. The warm air from her breath was somehow comforting.

“Really? I couldn’t know Ellie” I said as I held onto her lurking hand. Her palms were cold, They always were. I rubbed them, took a deep breath.

“You always shiver on nights like those. You’re just one 30 year old baby..” she said.

I hear a soft giggle at the far end of the room. Dorothy is surely an early bird. I could almost picture her fiddling with her fat elephant buddy in her cradle. ‘Dumdum’ is what we call him.

“Bad luck, you know you have two babies to look after right?” I say with a grin.

“I’m glad I don’t have to change diapers for the both of you.” She giggles.

I take a second to embrace the atmosphere. The cold touch of her hands, the blood rushing down the tiny veins in her palms. The creases of wear on those palms, her soft and light presence.

“Isn’t it beautiful? The fact that such a sunny day had to follow a storm.” She sighs.

“It sure is, mornings like these remind me of the time you told me you were pregnant” I said as I gazed upon us on the mirror.

“Oh sure. You reminisce a lot of the times when I’m fat and ugly” she sighs again.

“You’re not fat now?” I ask with a queer smile.

She seemed to ignore the question altogether. I could almost imagine that disgusted grin on her pretty face.

“What do mornings like these remind you of?” I ask her.

“The day we met. The day you proposed. The day we made our vows.” She says in trance.

So days like these remind you of our whole lives?” I said smiling again.

“It kinda does. Remember the time you took me on a picnic? We had wine in an abandoned playground.” She said.

“Yeah. We were reckless. We had so much fun. Remember the time you rejected me in highschool?” I said with a grin.

“Twas just a test!” she said. Elli probably should never audition for a play.

“I’m glad you’re here. I’m glad we’re here. In this moment, in this bed.” She pecks my neck with a soft kiss.

“I’m glad that Dorothy is here!” I try to add in. I clench onto her hands. Cold, yet soothing.

The silence that followed was a melody. I wish we were in that moment for eternity.

I hear rumbling down the street. I look towards the window, I see a bolt of lightning fall into our lawn.

I feel startled. Ellie’s hand clenches back. She buries her face into my neck.

The sky turns black as soon as the bolt strikes, clouds reappear in a jiffy.

As I look through the window feeling terrified, Ellie leans into my ear and whispers.

Where were you Brad?” she whispers with a hoarse voice. Her hand claps down on my hand like a bear trap.

Where were you when we needed you?” she says with a higher tone.

I’m slowly reminded of the worst day I could’ve possibly had.

“Where were you that night?” she screams into my ears. My hand bleeds as she digs her nails into my palms.

I remember, I was away that night. With an excuse of being to a meeting, I was out partying. I needed to blow off some steam. How I wish I could take that night back. How I wish I would’ve just stayed, played with my little girl. Her little giggles still lingers, her smile etched onto my broken heart. Instead, I spent a countless amount of cash on liquor.
Trying to numb a kind of pain that didn’t exist.

“We needed you.” She cries.

“How could you Brad?”

“The vows you made, they were in my head as he put the bullet through it!” she wails.

The giggles turn into silent cries, I see blood drip down the cradle.

I feel suffocated. Deep regret grips me.

Couldn’t you be here for Dorothy? Couldn’t you be here for her little, fragile life?” she scratches my arms with brute force.

I cry. I scream. Why did have to be that night? Why did someone have to rob the house on that night? Why not the countless nights we slept with our doors unlocked? Why did it have to be the night I wasn’t around? Why did he have take two lives along with the money? Why couldn’t he just ask for money? Why couldn’t he spare my helpless child? It was my fault. I was responsible. He might’ve pulled the trigger, but I was the reason behind it.

“Why?” she cries.

I want to hug her for the last time. I want to cuddle Dorothy was the final time. How I wish I could play with her for the last time. Feed her, watch her fall asleep in my arms. Her tiny posture sinking into my lap. Watch her clasp onto my finger with her tiny little paw.
I want to hug ellie, how I wish I could hug her, it always made her feel alright.

“You still don’t remember, do you?” she said sniffing.

I try to pay attention to her words but I’m lost. I didn’t realize the tears running down my cheeks. I squeeze my eyes tight. I scream.

The storm had passed as soon as i opened my eyes. Maybe it was a bad dream, maybe she’s still behind me. Engaged in a deep slumber. Maybe our little Dorothy is still in the cradle, my only bundle of happiness.
I turn around, lay my hand on the other side of the bed.

The cold spot on the other side of the bed sends shivers down my spine.

I hear a whisper, “You were there. Why were you there? Why were you here? Why did you do this to us? Was that even you?”

I look onto the mirror, I see a bloody pistol laying on my side of the bed.