AN INTRODUCTION TO DEATH

Day turns to night.

Daylight melting away into darkness,

Life melting away into the arms of

The dead.

Laughter turns to silence,

Memories turn to dust,

All that’s left are burning ashes,

Scattered across the planet’s deserted crust.

We’re all his captives.

We’re all his prisoners-

Pale and helpless,

Waiting for the time he knocks on our door

And offers us a ride in his dark carriage.

Kings turn to servants,

Servants turn to slaves,

Names and faces are forgotten

As crowns and spades are abandoned.

He is the ultimate judge

The unquestioned ruler of the darkness.

We all fall to his frozen touch,

His frozen tendrils lingering and crushing both

Mind and heart,

Forcing the soul to desert

the body it used, tore and abused.

He remained the same,

Since the times of Egypt and Rome,

To the worlds of Hitler and Stalin.

Always prompt,

He executes his job,

never taking a single day off.

He’s an excellent worker.

He loves his job.

He never speaks a word.

He only observes from the shadows,

Like a raven perched on a branch at the graveyard,

He’s got no use for words.

Communication is for mortals.

He watches infants grow.

He courts the lonely teenager.

He comforts the wiling adults.

He guides the nostalgic grandmother.

He resides behind the world,

In shadows where the time refuses to move,

But on that one day,

At midnight,

He steps into the world of the living

Parading off his army of

Unconscious believers that the human eye

Is blind towards

He reaps for his job,

For no single being can resist,

His gentle frozen touch.

Black is the absence of white.

Night is the absence of daylight.

Death is the absence of life.

Ghost

The sun was brightest,

The air was hottest,

The rain protested.

She was there.

Old, wrinkled-

A raisin

Dry tendrils of snow-white wispy hair,

Bottomless hazelnut pools of emptiness,

Tattered clothes crushed by age.

She was there.

She was a nameless face-

Fading away into the atmosphere,

Like the shrouds of carbon dioxide that burry our cities,

Exhaled by you and I.

Under that ancient tree,

Tall, imposing and vast-

She was there.

Bending down-

Her bones creaked in silent protest

Fingers shivered, pinching

Black-blue pearls of disregarded fruit that

Fell from the tree-

Tall, imposing and vast.

She stood up again,

A shattered figure that somehow was fixed.

She stood back up-

A hawk without its intimidation,

A swan without its grace,

Her back slightly hunched,

Her thin, dry lips-

lines of trembling palms, quivering,

filled with the unknown berries.

Her clothes, murdered by the weather.

She was there.

She whispered words-

A vanquished language silenced by the air and

The brigade of vehicles and ‘modernity’.

Her eyes, for a brief second,

Met the jade green leaves,

buried under layers of dust-flavored icing,

swaying freely in the cool pre-rain evening.

“are you vanquished woman, are you vanquished?”

The jade green leaves seemed to whisper to her.

She didn’t answer.

She simply repeated her cycle of collecting berries,

While the world past her.

She was the fleeting image in the window of the car-

Forgotten as soon as she was seen.

The air is frost-bitten.

The sun is dim.

The sky is a battlefield of grey.

The jade leaves quiver.

The black-blue berries shudder.

Her skin shivers.

Passing by faces whisper.

Falling raindrops glimmer.

Her body gets stiffer.

Passing by figures bicker.

The smoke in the air gets thicker.

The daylight fades quicker.

The day is over in a flicker.

But she was there.

Part One: Orenda

The orchestra of birds chirping early in the morning-

My 3 am alarm clock that repeats every few minutes. I can’t even reach out to slam it into a much desired state of snooze because this particular alarm clock is privileged enough to have wings that it flaps, flying for hours a day, covering a million times more than what I could even dream of doing on foot. At 3 am, it is already succeeded in making me feel inferior.

I wake up, officially this time, at 8 or 9 am,

“A respectable hour of the morning” as my mother would off course say. Any time later, even if it is just a few minutes past “the morning”, she would automatically classify it as afternoon, according to her watch off course. Naturally, the world follows a much more reliable system of the GMT, according to which, all time before midday is morning. Regardless, I’m awake- if by “awake” you mean the wonderfully dazed state of mind, where I float, halfway between the conscious and sub-conscious realms of my mind, drifting without a single care, watching the world and its events pass by my eyes- blurred, like the images I see from the window of my car. It’s the state for the rest of my day of course.

Morning becomes noon, which transitions to afternoon and then dusk. Or twilight. Whatever you prefer to call it. I know it as evening. Is it only me who finds it odd that 4 words describe one particular time of the day? How beautifully odd really. It’s why I love this language. Each day is a scavenger hunt for new words. Join me sometime. Hunting alone gets terribly lonely don’t you think? Besides, two arrows would hit wider targets right?

Have you ever noticed the skies at dawn and dusk? When I was a child, I thought the skies were stained with candy. I wanted some. I wanted to grow tall enough so that my fingers would grab those cotton-candy clouds, tall enough that I could stick my tongue out and lick the candy stained skies and the giant crimson lollypop floating in the sky. My grandmother heard of this. She didn’t laugh. I spent a large part of my childhood, deceived into drinking milk twice a day, along with curd and all my vegetables and whatever was given to me on my plate for my meals- breakfast, lunch and dinner, in hopes and expectations that I would be that tall one day. I obviously did not. What did happen was that I grew out of my innocent daze of childhood where I viewed the world through my rose-tinted glasses that made the world seem like a wonderful utopia. That is childhood.

I’m no longer a child. Now, the skies at dawn and dusk are on fire in my eyes. The infant rays of the sun pierce the darkness, bringing light. But it isn’t white. Its fire- a demented orchestra of yellow, red, orange and pink- screams echoing, bombs exploding, guns firing. The sky is a battlefield, stained with the blood of those who dare to step foot on it.

The sun rays are like the rain of bullets fired from a gun- revolvers and what not. A gun is a gun and the moment a person holds it, he becomes lethal. The bullet pierces through the young flesh of the innocent teenager who they bribed into fighting for them. A soldier is a pawn to them. Yes them, the ones who sit in their offices, sipping their expensive coffees from their white china cups, leaning back on their leather chairs, swirling around, swimming in their shroud of smoke, high up on floors with double digits. Soon it will be triple won’t it? To them, a soldier is a pawn. They forget, a soldier is a child of someone- a farmer, a laborer, or maybe some innocent teenager who’s lost enough to think that army life would be like a game of Call of Duty. No it won’t. There’s no pause button. Once the bullet rips through the flesh and shatters the heart, life is over once and for all.

Wasn’t it Stalin who said, “One death is a tragedy but a million is a statistic?”

I can’t recall exactly. I read it a while back, off the surface of a book whose name I can’t recall. Perhaps I read it in school, or perhaps I read it while I performed my daily ritual of surfing the internet. Regardless, to them, this applies. War is a board game. A soldier is a piece- a faceless piece whose death means absolutely nothing. The point of the game is money. The one who earns the most wins money is land. That’s all that matters. Only one can win and when that happens, the battle ends. The war never does.

The battle ends. The fighting ends. Cities ruined. Cultures and histories insulted and destroyed mercilessly. People dead- on both sides, and innocent spectators who just couldn’t get away in time and got sucked into hell and never survived to explain how bad it really was. Nevertheless, it’s a grim victory but a victory nonetheless. Thus, the skies that previously burned of war and reeked of the scent of rotting bodies transition into the calm blue, almost white really. That shade stays for the rest of the day until evening when the skies burn again. That’s how wars are fought really. There’s always a moment of calmness which is forgotten, absolutely ignored when the first bullet is fired once again.

Evening turns to night. Black. Actually, its midnight blue. Or Prussian. I don’t know. I didn’t really pay attention in art class as you can see. Either way, it is just dark you know? Its the absence of color all together. But that, I will see that shade again and I’m going to think its various shades of the same color but it won’t be. It would be ripples of black satin that I will see before my eyes for the next 7 or 8 hours as darkness fills the crevasses of my mind that would be normally reserved for dreaming. But my sleep is vacant, dreamless- just the way I like it.

After all, silent solitude is always appreciated