VERDICT: NOT GUILTY.

The world was awfully quiet, unlike the usual days when it roars and thunders to make its presence known. She did not care; she was immersed in another world of her own. That inner world was like a ship about to meet its end in a raging ocean. The wreck, the misery and the fruitlessness of the efforts are common to all whose ships are sinking. She opened the door to the night outside, the cool breeze brushed off against her cheeks. She took a deep breath and embraced the world outside.

She played many scenarios over and over in her head. Each time she viewed herself critically and each time she found herself to be NOT GUILTY. Some people are pure in every sense of the word; they have a pure heart capable of generating pure love. They are compassionate and good natured; they simply do not find the essence of hating anyone in their lives. No matter what others do to them or torture them through inexplicable ways of cruelty, such naïve people always come up with an excuse to forgive them and to bear their wretched beings. But how can you pass a brutal verdict to a soul who has just known love throughout her life? A heart who knows how to love with all its might, the eyes that keep shining with the light of hope and the lips that are decorated with the smile of optimism can never be defeated no matter what. It is not her fault that your heart is dominated by your brain, that you are so damaged that you do not know how to love or even appreciate love, or that you think that everyone who cares for you or comes near you has an agenda. There are still many beautiful souls in the world who meet others just because they want to and they like to; not merely to fulfill their hidden goals.

As she embraced the world and everything within it, she made sure it saw her in her supreme totality. The storm inside her had calmed down now as she had made peace with her inner being. The ship had fought a tremendous battle but was now on its course again. The world outside was awed, however. It rushed to challenge her; but the verdict had been passed. NOT GUILTY.

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Verdict: GUILTY.

Assemble a court. Pick out as many judges as you can. Sound the trumpets, gather the masses. Bring her to judgement. Bombard her with your allegations. She is there. Dazzle all the eyes with your shiny tongue and confound all the ears with your truthful lies. Raise your hands to drink to her health while quietly whispering her to death sentence. She is there. Kill her with your false notions of love and respect and dignity and morals and values and faith. She is there. Like a steadfast rock, she is there.

She is guilty, yes. She is guilty of having the warmth of love in her heart. She is guilty of possessing the magic of hope in her bosom. Faith runs with blood in her veins. Her eyes sparkle with shiny confidence. She is guilty of giving the luxury of trust to everyone. She is guilty of giving it all in every matter, for she does not know any constraints; her feelings and her heart don’t know any boundaries. She is guilty of nurturing false notions of expectations and dreams and happy endings in that little head of hers. She is guilty of believing in magic and miracles and fairytales and love stories. She is guilty of being extraordinary and dramatic and poetic.

She is guilty; such selfless actions must be accounted for. She must be burnt alive. She must be condemned to adopt the veil of the mundane and ordinary. She must be exiled to the fires of the blazing life everyone else cooked up for her. Indeed, that is the most beautifully cruel way of pushing her off the edge, while her body still dwells this earth like a corpse.

All those in favor?

Verdict: Guilty.

 

Literature

 

What is literature? That was the very first question that every Professor threw my way during my first week of Masters in English. I was fed up (really!), going through the same answer again and again. ‘Literature is the expression of ideas, thoughts and feelings’, I would say. It eventually dawned upon me: the significance of doing that simple drill in the initial days opened my eyes to the universality and versatility of this very term. I began to see literature in a whole new perspective that I never had before.

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines literature as “written works (such as poems, plays, and novels) that are considered to be very good and to have lasting importance”; it can also be “books, articles, etc., about a particular subject” or “printed materials (such as booklets, leaflets, and brochures) that provide information about something”. Literature, in its broadest sense, consists of any written productions. There have been various attempts to define “literature”.  Simon and Delyse Ryan begin their attempt to answer the question “What is Literature?” with the observation: “The quest to discover a definition for “literature” is a road that is much traveled, though the point of arrival, if ever reached, is seldom satisfactory. Most attempted definitions are broad and vague, and they inevitably change over time. In fact, the only thing that is certain about defining literature is that the definition will change.”

 The Encyclopedia Britannica Eleventh Edition (1910–11) classifies literature as “the best expression of the best thought reduced to writing”. Coming to my own definition (which was not totally incorrect!), literature is indeed a reflection of ideologies, philosophies and dogmas. It shines light on various beliefs and views regarding economic, political, social, traditional, moral and religious settings. A plus point to this quality is timelessness; even decades and centuries after a literary masterpiece has been written, it does not lose its worth and charisma. Thus, literature is a queerly interesting encyclopedia that allows one to sneak a peek at the history of time and mankind. It is indeed a huge advantage for the kind of people (myself among them) who are terribly bored by the very notion of history. Literature narrates the tales of a certain time and peoples in history in the form of a novel, poem or even a fairytale, hence, keeping the reader spellbound and interested till the very last page.

Another aspect of literature is the expression of feelings, emotions and sentiments that, in my view, are the prime characteristics of any literary work. It allows one to explore the wildest fantasies and the deepest corners of his mind and soul. It is a hope for those who are terrified by the bitterness of harsh realities and helps them take refuge in the valleys of peace, tranquility and serenity.  Literature is the voice of one’s heart and mind that provides him with the freedom of expression. It is a thrill; it challenges and dares him to step beyond the stereotypes and traditional labels of a society. It is a device that helps him to think outside the box and color outside the defined boundaries and lines. It is a dream that urges him to move on fearlessly and courageously. It is a light; it guides many in the dark and assists countless in paving their ways through life. Literature is life, for it beats in every masterpiece ever written by any person at any time.

Literature is every bit and fragment of the thoughts that human mind can imagine, but most of all, it is a delight, an immense pleasure and relaxing pastime. It is what soothes one with a hot cup of coffee in bed during the night. It is a companion that travels with him during a long journey. It is the fountain that quenches his thirst for adventure by taking him to places far off. It is the wand that fulfills his desires for fantasy, magic and mystery. Thanks to literature, we have this all-in-one package! Salman Rushdie shares his opinion about literature as,

“It is literature which for me opened the mysterious and decisive doors of imagination and understanding. To see the way others see. To think the way others think. And above all, to feel.”

Catastrophe

 

Do you know what doesn’t make a sound? The dying hopes. The lost willpower. The unsaid words. The unfulfilled promises. The misplaced anger. The false trust. The broken friendships. The unrequited love. The cold betrayal. The undeserved punishments. The stained loyalty. The lonely outbursts. The unslept nights. The tender emotions. The fragile nature. The slaughtered wishes. The aching body. The unshed tears. The swollen eyes. The dead dreams. Do you know what doesn’t make a noise? A breaking heart.

 

 

Grazie Vita!

All it took was just a moment. It always takes just a moment. A moment to shake up your world, to change your life as you knew it. The milestones you had reached, brick by brick, the monuments you had made, piece by piece, the heights you had touched, all ripped off the wall of your existence. Days and weeks and months and years and ages of struggle and love, patience and resilience, courage and hope, are brought to trial in a single moment. A moment is the separation between a smile and a tear.

But all it took was a moment. It always takes just a moment Amico. A moment to transform. It takes merely a moment to face the music of the deeds of your sentimental, spontaneous, instinctive personality. Only a moment is required to see through the sheer recklessness and plain brutality inflicted upon you. In that lapse of a moment, you open your eyes to the actuality of reality; you reflect upon the pains you took to accommodate people in your life, and their real face shown in the mirror doesn’t look quite so fascinating anymore. People are ferocious and vicious, but covered with facades of affection and love. When the time comes, it takes only a moment for them to throw away all that mattered to you in the garbage.

So, all it took was a moment. It always takes just a moment. You took only a moment to enlighten your own way towards this luminous path. You sip on your tears. You mutter a silent prayer. And you close it with a massive iron lock in your heart. Obviously, it still aches to think to what happened, to fall from such a zenith and pushed by none others than those closest to you, yet you bear it all. Because pain demands to be felt. You cannot deny its presence, but you learn to learn from it. You learn to move away from all the darkness that was trying to engulf you and you, oh you little Light! You kept flickering and never going out completely. That’s what you are supposed to do Amico. Shine as bright as you can. Smile as wide as you can. Take that moment and live it. For it is that moment that vanishes those tears and curves your lips into a smile.

Winter is Coming

It’s a beautiful day. The winter is announcing its arrival by the chilly cold breeze gushing across my face. It is making my feet and legs go numb for I am too feeble to bear any intensity. Yet I don’t mind it, after all I have waited long enough to cherish this winter. I have born the scorching, dehydrating heat of the summers to reach to this most awaited winter. Winter is coming, finally.

Only now do I realize the futility of my long, desperate wait. Here they are, the long, unending nights that I was so longing for. But I have been denied their pleasures, I have been exiled to the realms of loneliness and misery. I have been dethroned from my kingdom of tranquility and peace, only to suffer alone in the desert of redemption and regret. I have all what I asked for yet here I stand empty handed. The heart beats but has lost the one it beat for. My prayers have been answered but my wishes have been refused.

Gul-e-Arzoo

Once upon a time there was a beautiful, comely garden. The garden was nothing less than a heavenly, sublime piece of land on the otherwise barren, arid region. It housed innumerable creatures, plants, trees, insects, birds, small animals; all of whom granted the garden it’s enticing, bewitching grandeur and serenity. The halcyon garden thus got its name- Baagh-e- Arzoo– the Garden of Wishes; for it resembled Eden and offered such peace and tranquility that everyone wishes for.

Every object, creature and organism that surfaced in the Baagh was extraordinary and marvellous in its own way. But everything was put into shade by one particular being the newly born Rose. She had just opened her eyes to the magical land of beauty but it seemed as though it was she who was the benefactor of all that glory and majesty. She was so little, and somewhat confused and hesitant to have become a part of such a big, wide world. She was wrapped in her green sepals that were accomplishing the crucial task of protecting this newcomer. Despite their utmost efforts, they were unwillingly revealing the blood-red of the petals inside. The soft, red petals were peeping shyly out of the cover of their protecting sepals. The Garden of Wishes seemed to be boasting off its pride in the form of the Rose.

The next day, to the Rose’s immense pleasure and sheer surprise, she got a visitor; a young boy of merely 10 years of age. His fair, round face was becoming crimson from all the excitement that he got from just looking at the Rose. She did not mind such attention at all; rather she was enjoying and cherishing it. The boy claimed that he loved her so much and was ready to do anything to have her always with him. The Rose believed him for she was just an innocent, little being and did not know deception or falsehood. She began to savour his remarks, attention and continued to grow into a bigger bud. But poor Rose had yet had to learn about misery and heartbreak. So one morning, the boy left; uttering harsh words that cut deep into the Rose’s heart. He had taken out the frustration and anger that he received from his parents’ fights on her, leaving her disconsolate and dejected. The blows of his severe, cutting words gave her sharp, invisible wounds. The Rose mourned and grieved over her lost love for a long time but eventually learned to focus her excruciating pain to grow. And thus, the once tiny bud now bloomed into an alluring and most appealing Rose.

The Garden blossomed with all its might for now the Rose was at its par of beauty and magnificence. The Rose had learnt her lesson; she kept herself steadfast and haughty; for many claimed to love her just to get a moment of solace with her. But life was not done teaching her yet. So on a bright day, when the sun showed mercy with its heat, and the winds endowed the atmosphere with their slight, welcoming chill, there came an admirer; a fair, tall, handsome one just in his early twenties. His elaborate looks, impressive dignity and unfaltering eloquence stole her heart. She forgot all about her misery and hurting pain of the past and kept waiting for him regularly, just to be with him, to listen to him intently as he spoke in his soft, engaging voice. A Rose without a lover is incomplete, she told him timidly, and you, My Love, complete me.

He loved her like no one else could ever do; she fell for him like no one else could ever. They were inseparable; the complemented each other in most inexplicable ways. When in the Garden, he had eyes for no one but her. When away from him, her heart ached and longed for anyone but him. Every day, the thought of being united with him propelled her to carry on her journey of life. He named her Gul-e-Arzoo-the flower of wishes. She indeed was the fruit of everyone’s wishes; for everyone desired her. The two of them were envied by all other creatures that strode on the earth they lived on. The envy proved to be a bad omen for them.

The Rose was destined to experience pain and agony; Gul-e-Arzoo was cursed to be desired by everyone but to BE no one’s. Such was written in fate; for she was again heartbroken as she got separated from her Beloved, this time due to unfavourable, rough Winds that blew hard and disintegrated her very being. The poor, fragile Rose lost its battle of love and life and its once soft, red petals now rot in the barren soil.

It so unfair. To be always on the losing side. The waiting side. To live in mere illusions. Of happiness. Of elation. To keep dreaming. Having strong impulse about a future that holds nothing but sheer harmony n peace. Madman’s dreams of Utopian world.

It’s so painful. It hurts. It’s just unbearably pinching; to keep shedding tears over such matters that when voiced, seem petty and insignificant to the world. But they don’t know, they don’t realize the momentous and humongous power they have. The sheer force with which they collide with my heart and leaving aching and bleeding. If only, ah, if only the world possessed such an aching, throbbing heart.

But it doesn’t. It doesn’t possess a heart at all. And you are just compelled to thrash n bang your head against the rocky coldness. Till you bleed. Till it claims the last drop of your life from your miserable being.

My Precious

“I’m all yours,” her Precious claimed. She kept looking at the sight being offered to her eyes, as if it was all she had. She felt so complete, so ecstatic with the presence of Precious. Otherwise, the world was a dull, dismal abode for her. “You’re mine, all MINE,” she whispered as she embraced the ‘Precious’ being one more time.

Little Ella was unfortunate in the manner that she had no parents while growing up. She lost them to a car accident when she was just seven and had since then been living with her maternal Aunt and Uncle. They loved her almost just like their own daughter Tia who was a year older than Ella. Well, almost. Sometimes Ella could perceive the bitter reality that Tia is always given the more conspicuous and prominent kind of love. The love her aunt and uncle had for Ella was subtle and often suppressed by the dominance of their feelings for Tia. Ella learnt not to complain; it was enough she was being fed and clothed and educated under their roof. What’s love compared to these needs? Nothing, she always convinced herself.

Love works in mysterious, incomprehensible ways. While Ella was acting quite sensibly for her age, being only in her early teen age and keeping a lookout for love, it found a way to penetrate through her strong defence. Love conquered her in the form of that exquisite and enticing pearl necklace. It was brought for Tia of course, from abroad, by her father. She offered Ella to try it on as a courtesy and as soon as the delicate thing touched her milky, smooth skin, everyone could see that it was made for Ella. Tia could not part with her invaluable, exorbitant present so easily but she was tactful enough to act generously in front of her family. So she kindly offered Ella to share it with her. Little Ella was foolish enough to accept the proposal without any hesitation. If only she had not.

The necklace undoubtedly elevated Ella’s beauty and glory. It was like a charm for Ella; she considered herself to become invincible after wearing it. It empowered her to soar high in the skies of self-confidence and endowed her with a unique kind of elation. If she was not wearing it, she kept feeling as though something significantly vital was missing from her life. The absence of the necklace would make her unbearably grouchy and edgy. It had become her most supreme and precious possession. That’s how it got the name; Ella would run her sleek, long fingers over her neck, feeling the strong sway of the necklace and murmur, “My Precious.”

Little did poor Ella know that Love is barbaric and merciless. It indulges you in a sea of deep obsession and crapulence for the Beloved. You are swiped off your feet by one, single, mighty blow of love and it may take a whole lifetime to stand upright again. Love is a mirage, a façade and nothing more. It extends its vapoury shadows like solid, robust iron towards its victims; the wretched creatures cling to them considering them sturdy and secure. While in fact the shadows are nothing more but mere mists of derisive, cynical suffering, the prey of Love are phantasmagorical; caught in between the logical mind and the loving heart.

Tia being more fortunate and the original owner of the lavaliere, easily noticed Ella’s obsession and conveniently felt jealous of her. She abstained Ella from wearing the necklace ever again, claiming that it was solely hers. Ella felt like the ground had been snatched away from beneath her feet and her lifeline has been cut.

 The deception of Love was over; it had unveiled itself to her in all its ugliness and hideousness. Love blinds you, provides you with the false yet tempting delusion that something or someone belongs to you. Slowly and painfully, it dawns upon you that you could not be any more mistaken. Despite all your logical arguments and brainy, rational thinking, you lose. You forfeit in front of Love’s cunning, convoluted trap. You are broken, you are shattered and you accept your defeat. But how on Earth do you learn to continue living your life without your Precious?

Ten Hours To Live

“Wait for my text”, he had told her and she obeyed; may be because she had no other option. There is always an option; we are all familiar to this cliche. Yet sometimes, despite all the possibilities and choices presenting them to us, we choose the one that is the most difficult and exigent. That is the one that holds the key to changing our lives forever too.

She met him at the coffee-house. She had noticed him on the very first day he entered there; there was something about him that made her keep looking at him. Probably your eyes, she later admitted to him about how impressed she was of him at the first sight. He would always smile and teasingly comment, “Do you X-Ray all the strangers in a similar manner?” leaving her just scowling at him. Little did she know then that first impression was going to beset her entirely.

It was one hour since she had been instructed to wait. If only he had chosen another punishment, she reflected to herself. Dangling on the rope of wait was something she despised and yet had to endure frequently. He had not meant to punish her; making her wait was just a way to let off some steam caused by certain heated arguments exchanged between them. Nevertheless, it was a punishment for her. Sometimes things seem to be perfectly in your grasp but in reality it is a mirage; what you consider to be held tightly in your fist is slowly falling off, leaving you empty-handed at the end of the day. She checked her cell phone, another hour has gone by, she thought and heaved a deep sigh.

The clock seemed to have stuck or had its arms glued so that they would travel slowly. She bore every passing second as a heavy burden inflicted upon her fragile being. Each moment took ages to pass. Her eyes continuously flicked over her cell phone’s screen hoping that it might blink with his name, but deep down her heart she knew it was not going to blink. Not so soon anyway. The little light of the phone’s screen could have been enough to brighten her day, to lighten up her smile but she must suffer. She must writhe with pain for it is what a smile costs. With one lingering glance, she placed the phone over her dressing table and began to get ready for the evening.

“What a waste!” she exclaimed under her breath as she stepped into the brightly lit house that hosted the evening’s party. As she checked her phone and made her way slowly into the main hall, she could not feel but a little exasperated. It had been seven long hours since he had last heard from him. Nonetheless, she composed herself and managed a smile as she spotted her friend in the far corner of the hall, seated on the overly decorated stage. Her childhood bestie was getting engaged that night. She hugged her, praised her elegant attire for the event and tried cracking a joke or two to tease her before securing a seat at the end of the hall. She did not want to mingle; the reason being his absence. He was supposed to accompany her tonight.

How lame and useless it seems to participate in someone else’s happiness when you yourself are dying inside? It appears to be quite silly to congratulate someone when you are in the state of mourning and longing. The fake smile, that she had to pass to people to convince them that she was enjoying herself, required utmost and paramount effort. Nine hours gone, she noticed sadly as her wrist watch struck nine p.m. The unending wait continues.

As she stepped out of the car and walked towards the door, she was shocked to notice that it was already unlocked. Burglars? She was horrified by the thought. Or him? This thought was not less terrifying. After the entire wait and the yearning, she was slightly dreading to face him. What if all the fighting and accusing starts again? The mere thought of it was agonizing. Mustering up her courage, she took short, uneasy steps towards the lounge. No one here, she observed and went straight towards her room. The clock struck ten as she opened the door to her haven.

He was standing there, waiting for her. His eyes met hers and as their gazes locked into each other’s, it was as if the time and everything that moved with it, stopped. She looked at him, first angrily, then dejectedly and lastly complainingly. “You look beautiful”, he remarked as he paced slowly towards her. She crouched towards the corner away from him, avoiding him. He acknowledged her complain and held her firmly in his arms. As she succumbed to his strong yet comforting hold, she murmured, “These ten hours were the hardest to live. Yet they seemed too crucial, too vital to be lived, for at the end of them, YOU were waiting for me.” “I’m sorry I put you through such an arduous task of waiting, it won’t happen again I promise,” he reassured her soothingly. Her lips curved into a lively, charming and precious smile. She had survived the long hours and was HOME finally.