Close to two years ago, I discovered that my eBooks, both of them, were being listed for sale on a site about which I’d never heard before. They were not under contract to sell my eBooks nor was I receiving any payment for the nearly 1000 times the site reported my novel had already been […]
“I love you” –
I hear myself say,
Ten thousand times a day.
In my throat forms
This little knot of love,
Each time I watch you
Leaving, from above.
And I fall hard, for you,
I really, really do,
Ten thousand times a day,
Whether in November or in May.
Ten thousand times I inhale,
Your sweet, heady, male smell,
Caressing your clothes, kerchief,
Or your partly wet towel.
Ten thousand times
Your name I scream,
When, at dawn,
The stars grow dim.
In solitude, tension,
Anger or evasion,
I love you with
A steadfast passion.
And if I were to die tomorrow,
Surely, it won’t be from sorrow –
Dying for love’s a better way,
If I were to die some day.
Ten thousand times will I swear this,
And seal it with a tender kiss.
Not very long ago, there lived a girl called Red, with her brother, Chad, and her mother, in a small house in a very small town situated near a dense forest. Notwithstanding the fact that her father had gone missing when she was still a baby and, therefore, she hardly remembered anything about him except what he had looked like, she was a happy girl who loved to spend her days helping others.
To all those who knew her, it was no great mystery why she had such a strange name – for she had a head of bright auburn hair that really looked quite red. In fact, the winter she was born, her father had given her a bright red poncho, which she had preserved safely as the only gift she had ever had from her father, who had gone missing shortly thereafter.
One winter morning, Red’s mother called her into the kitchen and handing her a basket, which contained some fresh fruits, a jar of home-made cookies and some bread, asked her to go and visit her ailing grandmother, who lived alone in a small house in another small town situated on the other side of the forest.
“Start early, keep to the main road and come back while there’s still daylight,” her mother cautioned her. For popular belief maintained that the forest was the home of the Big Bad Wolf, who prowled the length and breadth of it by day and by night, carrying people away in his ever-hungry jaws to their death. Over the years, countless people had gone missing while travelling through the forest, by day and by night; and their grieving family members whispered tales of the terror that lurked behind the trees, stalking his unwary, hapless victims and pouncing on them when they least expected it.
So Red put on the red muffler and gloves that her mother had woven for her the previous winter, as well as her red coat and a matching pair of boots, took the basket and getting on her bike, set out for her grandmother’s house, merry as a lark.
As she paddled away through the forest as fast as she could, she couldn’t help gaping in surprise at her surroundings. The snow was frequently cleared away in her town to keep the roads and lanes passable; in contrast, nature was at her wildest and most beautiful here – the trees and the ground were covered in snow, as far as the eye could see. There were perks to there being nobody around to clear away the snow in the forest, she thought to herself, smiling. She got down from her bike, and taking out her cell phone from her coat-pocket, started shooting a video of her surroundings.
She was thus employed when she first heard the sound. It was very faint – that of a twig breaking under some unseen weight – and she stood still for a few moments, waiting for it to be repeated and wondering whether her imagination was playing tricks with her. It happened that way sometimes; after hearing a tale of terror, every sound and every sight was wont to seem strange and make one jump out of one’s skin, at the slightest provocation. Maybe she was experiencing the same thing. It just might be a rabbit or a fox that had caused that sound, she reasoned with herself. But soon her ears happened to make out the sound of a strange, heavy breathing that seemed to come from all directions at once and to send shivers down the very trees around her. So, losing no time, she got on her bike and paddled away for dear life.
Now, it really was the Big Bad Wolf whose breathing Red had heard. He was trying to be discreet while following her through the dense undergrowth, awaiting the proper chance to pounce on her, but his advancing age and ever-expanding body made him grow heavier with time (the magic of the forest was such that every time he killed, he grew physically and so did the forest), making it impossible for him to move with his former stealth. He was so very hungry – he hadn’t killed anybody in a long, long time, for nobody ever came this way these days, not since that puny man so many years ago, the one who had tried to kill him – and now his prey had just been warned of his presence and had fled; it made him so angry that he wanted to tear the trees up by their roots, every last one of them. Yet he knew that anger was useless, and so, focused on his cunning instead. Soon he had a plan to lure his prey back to him.
When Red reached her grandmother’s house, quite out of breath, she knocked on the door and finding it open, went inside, expecting to find the old lady resting in her chair by the fireplace; but though she looked up and down the house, she couldn’t find her anywhere. So she went round to the backyard where all the firewood was stored, and it was here that she saw the crooked letters, etched in blood on the door, which read, “Granny is waiting in the forest, little girl!” The blood was fresh and drops of it could be seen leading away from the house towards the forest.
Now, in a like situation, any other girl would have tried to save her own life. But Red loved her grandmother too much to lose her to Big Bad Wolf. So, in spite of her fear that her grandmother was probably already beyond help, she grabbed the sturdiest shovel that she could find and followed the trail of blood to the Wolf’s lair. Here she found him waiting for her – a huge grey hairy presence that seemed to fill the forest. In front of him, carelessly laid across the huge stump of an oak-tree, was her grandmother, dead but still bleeding from her neck where the Wolf had sunk his teeth in, while carrying her away.
“Don’t you worry, little girl. She doesn’t feel pain anymore! As for you, don’t grieve, for you are just about to join her,” said the Wolf, and crouching, leapt towards Red with the intention of tearing her young and supple flesh off her bones and into shreds. At that very moment, without even pausing to think, Red, who was very adept in sports and therefore, had excellent reflexes, pointed the shovel at the Wolf’s throat and thrust it up at him just as he pounced on her with the full force of his massive weight aiding him. The impact was such that Red was sent crashing into the undergrowth behind her as the Wolf’s head flew high into the air, and moments later, both the head and the body of the beast landed squarely at the spot where she had been standing only moments before, with a tremendous thud. Then, before her eyes, the head and body of the Wolf transformed into the head and body of a human – her long-lost father in fact – before turning into dust.
It was late in the evening when Red finally returned home, covered in blood and dirt from her adventure and from having buried her grandmother in the forest, and badly shocked to boot. Her mother and Chad positively panicked when they saw her until she assured them that she was unhurt and told them of her adventure. They were especially hurt and troubled, in equal measures, to hear about her father, and when at night they went to bed with agonised hearts, Red had a very strange dream.
She dreamed that her father was speaking to her, as he lay dying. “Whatever have you done, child? You’ve made the same mistake that I made so many years ago. You know nothing about the dangerous magic of the forest. The Big Bad Wolf is a cursed brute; he can never die. He lives on in his killer…” A shiver ran down Red’s spine as she seemed to hear her father say these words to her in her sleep, and her heart was gripped by a strange fear. Soon she woke up with a growing feeling of intense discomfort. It felt as if something weird was happening inside her body, and no matter how hard she tried to ignore it and go back to sleep, the discomfort continued to mount, until Red was forced to leave her bed. Then, as she switched on the light to grab a glass of water from the table, her eyes caught her reflection in the mirror and she stared at it in abject horror – her body was covered with a thick coat of red fur and her face and limbs were slowly changing into those of a wolf, the earlier discomfort fast changing into an ever-increasing agony, as the very bones in her body began to bend, break and distort into a terrifying new shape, before her own eyes. The inside of her head seemed fit to burst as her skull began to adjust itself into a new shape, and her eyes seemed as if they were being drawn back into her head while her nose and jaws elongated to match a wolf’s snout. As she tried to fight the agony building inside her head by trying to clasp it between her hands, which no longer resembled human hands but the paws of a beast, the long and sharp claws dug into her now-hairy snout, causing blood to spurt from the wounds left behind. And when she screamed in horror, the sound that came out was very like the howl of a gigantic wolf in beastly pain.
As the sound of the howl reverberated through the house and the town as well, every living soul around jumped out of his skin in horrified wonder, even while sleeping. As the people sat shaking in their beds in terror, and still later, started to come out of their houses in ones and twos, looking for the source of the sound, Chad and his mother jumped out of their beds and ran pell-mell towards Red’s room upstairs; but when they reached there, they found the sturdy wooden door fastened from the inside, and strange sounds – the heavy breathing of a massive creature and a sound that seemed very like the sound of bones breaking under pressure – coming from beyond. As they started to beat upon the door like crazy, calling Red’s name and asking her to open the door, inside the room, Red – who, by now, had completely transformed into a wolf, her huge new hairy body filling the room, so much so that it seemed as if she was going to burst out of it at any moment – started to feel very angry and disoriented at the noise outside and the continuous ringing of her cell phone inside, as her mother and Chad tried to call her again and again in desperation, while her mouth started to water at the smell of human flesh and blood so near her. For a few moments, greed and distress fought tooth and nail to gain control over her, until at last distress won, when, at the sound of Chad shoving and kicking at the door to break in, Red was driven so crazy that she struck at the door with a massive paw, sending both Chad and the heavy door, along with that part of the wall, flying through the opposite wall into the room beyond. Just before losing consciousness, Chad saw a huge red hairy snout and a pair of huge eyes, burning red-hot, emerge from the wreck.
As Red shoved her head through the wreck, trying to frighten the humans away, a ravenous hunger assailed her senses and she stuck out her huge pink tongue and licked her mother’s body – inert with shock – hungrily, while her teeth ached to bite into the warm flesh. But Red still had a little bit of humanity left in her, and so, summoning that last bit with all her might, she pushed her mother out of harm’s way with her warm snout, and then, turning, clawed her way through the outer wall of the house, leaped down to the ground with a huge thud, so that the ground shook beneath her weight and the dust rose around her in a massive cloud, and bounded away through the familiar streets, past the gaping, terrified people, into the green darkness of the forest. And that is how the reign of the She-Wolf began.
There is something special about all of us, some special “power” that helps us to help ourselves, our near and dear ones as well as other people around us. This special something can be anything, ranging from being great at giving good advice to being a philanthropist or a social activist dealing with one or a few of the myriad issues that plague the society today. Some of us have great powers, powers that can build or break nations even; others might have puny ones, like that of the proverbial squirrel in the Ramayana, who tried to do his bit to help the Lord in building the bridge to Lanka by carrying nut-sized pebbles and piling them into the ocean, since the carrying of huge blocks of rock wasn’t his forte. Be it puny or earth-shaking, however, every special power counts; we never know when something insubstantial might have more than substantial consequences. That is probably why they are all so “special”.
When I come to think of my special powers (yes, powers, because I do have a handful actually; a couple of them puny, the rest not so puny, though not earth-shaking either), I think of my gift of penmanship as being the most powerful of them. Since I’m one of the quieter ones, I’ve always found Bacon’s idea “Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man and writing, an exact man” as being very close to my heart. It’s my earth-shaker; what couldn’t I do with it? And if I had to choose just one of my few powers and relinquish the rest, I’ve no doubt that I’d choose writing over the others. Good advice, helpfulness, philanthropy – these are either too limited in scope for me or just not suitable enough, one way or the other. Writing, on the other hand, is exactly my niche; it makes me feel powerful, and I’m one hell of a power-hungry nerd. Since I’m one of the quiet ones, how do I make myself heard? I’ve stuff to share that a lot of other people might identify with; how do I reach out to them so that they know that somebody out there somewhere feels exactly how they feel? Through writing. (To be continued…)
We are well into week 3 of January. I am here again with the third guest post on Fear, as part of the series of guest posts. Today’s blogger is Seoti,. someone who I had a chance to live with during my college days. She has beautiful penmanship and that comes out very clearly in […]
It’s been five days since NaNoWriMo started and Phew! I’m already wiping the sweat off my brow. Has it really been just five days? What with the figment of a planning and working on plots, it seems much longer; say, more like five years. And why shouldn’t it? I’m not even a regular writer of prose, much less a novelist. Period! So what the heck am I doing @NaNo? For one thing, I’m training myself to write prose, instead of just poetry, regularly; I’m thinking of it as yoga for my imagination. I’m working on something that might turn out to be something like a novel. Or not. What difference does it make? I’m writing everyday, morning and evening, doggedly persistent; and that has been one of the major goals all along. Most importantly, I’m enjoying myself and that is a really great experience, in every way that I can think of.
Today, however, I’ve decided to take some time off – just a few hours, not more. Not just to write this blog post. No. There are a couple of upcoming events in my personal life that I need to take care of, alongside NaNo. The most exciting one is definitely a wedding. Next Saturday onward, I’m going to be, officially, a married woman. Yikes! My teeth are already working hard at my nails, at the mere mention of it. For believe it or not, aside from being exciting, marriage is also quite the worry-evoking thing for me. Let’s not go into the reasons, though. So, instead of spending the day tapping away at my computer, I too time off to go for a session of self-beautification. (Huge grin decorating my face at the moment, at the memory of the oh!-so-pleasurable time spent pampering myself.) Also, I hadn’t had the chance to talk to my would-be in the last for days, and I was greatly missing his attentions. That was something that needed sorting out, too. I needed some personal time away from all the excitement of NaNoWriMo, too. That being done, I’m ready to be back in the groove.
As far as an update of my NaNo word-count is concerned, I’ve written around 500 words per day. So what about the 50k goal? Ha! Ha! What about it? That’s not going to happen anytime soon. Nah! But what I’m aiming for is a modest 20k, which is HUGE, considering that, in nearly two years of NaNo, I’ve written less than 10k. So 20k in thirty days, what with all the excitement and distractions and everything, is not just MARATHON; it’s going to be front-page NEWS, where I’m concerned.
Whether or not you are doing NaNo, these tips will help you go pro because for the pros? Every month is NaNoWriMo.
In less than a week, NaNo begins.
I’m in a frenzy, tidying up things,
Cooking up ideas, scribbling them down
On stray bits of paper, with a constant frown.
I keep snarling at everyone,
I can’t seem to stop yelling
At every single person or thing
That comes within hearing.
I’m suddenly the wicked witch
Of no small renown,
Who chews heads off people and pets
To decorate her crown.
I’m going bersherk, really,
Trying to plan it all;
To write or not to write
Is the question to forestall.
I’m trying to multitask here;
Why doesn’t anybody understand?
I’m so torn between choices –
Poetry, horror stories or a novel grand.
Who can help me decide what to write?
Who’s going to bolster my courage?
Who’s going to save the world
When I go on a writing rampage?
This is certainly the best of times,
It’s also the worst of them,
For I’ll write through sleepless nights
As ideas continue to overwhelm.
I reached into my darkness
To give way to the light.
Every failing, every slight,
Each weakness and each fright
Helped me swim across the darkness
And glide back into the light.
I surrendered to the darkness,
I didn’t put up a fight;
Just so I could go down under
And rise again out of sight.
Every failure in my plight
I faced with a grim delight;
It helped me tap into my darkness
And rekindle my hidden light.
I’ll have my vengeance yet;
I’ve the will as well as the might,
For I’ve reached into my darkness
To give way to my light.
What lurks behind his eyes?
Seems to me like a woman’s pain –
The burden of carrying lifelong lies
Amid an urge to live again.
His eyes were once so full of life –
He had family, friends, a thousand dreams;
But now, in this time of strife,
Nobody seems to hear his screams.
So what if he’s a transvestite?
Why should it be so disgusting?
They seem so irked by his delight
And turn chiding eyes upon him.
Life’s been unbearable, of late –
They turn away from him in hate.
With an utterly unabashed lack of feeling,
They engage in petty mud-slinging.
No one tries to cool his sighs
Or cares enough to look into his eyes.
A long, lone path awaits him
Powdered with ashes of departed dreams.
I gaze into your eyes
And read everything –
All that you can’t tell me,
All that stuff you’re feeling.
Trust me, I feel the same way;
But, like you, just cannot say.
We’re two lonely, silent souls;
The silence is just taking its toll.
Why must we fear love so?
Why can’t we just let go
Past pains and this loneliness,
Absence of hope and our distress?
Who knows if this love’s real?
Who cares whether we’re ideal?
So many doubts assail me;
Yet I can feel the electricity.
Our stupid, practical minds are fearful
But our hearts can feel each other’s pull.
Amazing, isn’t it, how every time
I claim your breaths, as you do mine?
How our bodies move in perfect sync?
How, when apart, we still share a link?
Whenever we meet, the sparks fly;
Yet we keep wondering – Why?
What say you that we give romance
And this electricity an honest chance?
Maybe it will light up our life
And help us through a sea of strife.
I’d so like us to grow old together
And be buried beneath a quilt of heather.
What is life if we do not dare
To live this love that is so rare?