Home.

I had spent a lot of months looking for a house. I couldn’t afford a house, was struggling with a job so was looking for a house for rent. A friend allowed me to stay with him for some time, but then the feeling of being a burden just went on increasing with time and I wasn’t liking it.
Though he never showed it, I knew he wanted me to find my own place in the city.
One day, I decided to leave his house without letting him know about it.
So, I packed my bag, wrote a short note to him, left it besides his bed, and I left.
It was a decision I made within an hour and it happened to be the most important decision I had ever made.
It was raining very heavily. I didn’t know where I was going to go. But, I had decided that no matter what, I’ll never go back to my friend’s house.

I walked for an hour till I started to feel hungry. I was drenched. The rain slowed down.
I got into a random bus and ended up in an another city by the next morning.
It was still raining a bit. I ate something at a small cafe named ‘Dreams’ in front of the bus stop and then I was completely clueless.

I seriously didn’t know what to do. I had little cash. A heavy bag which made my shoulders hurt. A bottle of water and two packs of cigarettes.

I had to find a place for myself. Anytime soon. I had to have a home.
I went to the cafe again and asked the manager if I could work there for some time. He told me that I could do the job of cleaning tables and washing plates.
Bad, really bad.

But, I said yes. I kept my bag, wore the uniform and started cleaning the tables. I had no idea about why I was doing it, or for how long I would do it, but I was doing it. Because I had to do something.
The place was really small but always crowded. The best thing was, the manager gave me free food. I was sorted.
By the end of the day, I told him that I didn’t have a house. He told me that I could sleep there and work in the morning. AGAIN.
Sounded like a bad plan to me but, I said yes.

I had thought that running away would bring me closer to my goal, and I would be having the time of my life. But, there wasn’t a single touch of serendipity. Here I was, cleaning tables and dishes, and sleeping in a cafe named ‘Dreams’.
The next day, I decided that I will make the most of it. I will talk to customers, tell them amazing facts about the world, impress the ladies with my vocabulary and will make my own contacts.
So, before the cafe opened, I made a short list in my notebook of the good things about me. I didn’t include anything about my qualifications, but just the things I would want to brag about.
It was the kind of motivation I needed for myself, from myself.
‘Best things:
BETTER LOOKING than other waiters.
Knows a lot about pop culture.
I can sing.
I can dance.
Funny. No no wait
Better vocab
I can run away anytime I want
Better looking than other waiters
I paint
I smell good
I look like Ryan Reynolds, no… I don’t. Maybe.’
I read it and I was ready.

Customers started coming in as usual.
No waiter ever asked the customers for the number of seats they were looking for, but then, I was an exception. Of course. (Refer the list)
I was being over friendly to everybody. I was asking them unnecessary questions and details. But, I was doing my job too.
Other waiters were just taking orders. I was the real star. (Though in my head.)
By the evening, I thought that I was wasting time. People weren’t interested. They didn’t want to hear my jokes. They didn’t want me to sing or know about pop culture. I started to feel demotivated but I was still very hopeful.
The next day, I repeated the same thing. I greeted the customers, asked them about their favorite bands, the kind of music they liked, the countries they have visited and so on.
The previous job I was doing, gave me a lot more money. But, this was interesting. And the best part was this uniform had a panda on it. (Though I never understood the reason, but hey, pandas.)
Though I could completely be the manager and handle ‘Dreams’ in a better way, but life wanted me to work as a waiter.A few days later, customers started to smile at me, they asked me what my name was, and were all friendly and also gave me tips. I started painting for the cafe. I painted the walls, the door. The place was much cooler now.

In a week, I was known as the star waiter. I made a lot of friends, my contacts increased with time, and the job became easier
But, I still didn’t have a house. I was not at home. It made me upset but didn’t stop me from working.
One night, I was outside the cafe, leaning on a wall, feeling extremely sad. I wanted to have my own house. I wanted to be at home.
It was drizzling.

The cafe was shut. The shutter was down. I was supposed to be inside, sleeping. But, I was not.
A man came walking like the drizzle. Slowly, as gently as possible, making every footstep audible.

“I am really hungry. I have little money. I have left my house and I have no idea where I am going. Do you have water or something to eat?”

I smiled. Seemed like a similar scenario. I was not supposed to open the cafe, but was some inexplicable reason, I opened the cafe for him.
He seemed to be poor and helpless. I gave him a cup of hot coffee and a burger.
While he was eating, I saw a part of me in him.
Hungry, needy, and most importantly, homeless.
He was insisting me to accept the little amount of money he had, but I didn’t.
I told him to visit us again, anytime soon.

After few days, I read it in a newspaper, that the same man who I met that night, was missing. And his daughter was looking for him. I immediately called up on the number,

“Hi, this is Matt. I work at the Dreams. Your father visited us a few days back at 2 am at night. That was the last time I saw him. He told me that he had no idea about where he was going. I told him to visit us soon.”
The girl started crying.
“My father.. he is mentally sick. He has a bad memory. He.. he might not come back.”
I felt really bad for the girl.
“That’s terrible. If he ever visits us again, or if I see him somewhere, I’ll give you a call. ” I said.
“Give me the cafe’s address.”
I gave her the address.

The girl’s name was Sarah, and she started visiting the cafe daily in the hope that she’ll see her father again.
Even I couldn’t stop thinking of that man. I used to go outside the cafe and look for him. Especially, at night.
Sarah was a teacher. So, after she used to get done with her school, she used to come to the cafe.

Gradually, Sarah and I became really good friends. She used to tell me everything about her father. She spoke about her childhood, her hobbies, her dreams. She loved her father immensely.

She was a beautiful person, with a lot of hope.
She was very fond of me and we eventually fell for each other.

Everyone who knew about Sarah and her father, had started to assume that he is dead. Unfortunately, that seemed possible too. But, Sarah was still hopeful, and so was I.

There were no signs of him, no one saw him anywhere.

But after a month, I saw him outside the cafe in a very terrible condition. Looking lost. Sarah was in school.
I ran out and told him to come inside. I called Sarah  and she came in no time.  When Sarah looked at her father, she couldn’t stop crying. I had seen a lot of reunions in my life, but this was possibly the most magical one. It seemed like someone came to life, again.

Sarah cried and hugged him really tightly. Everyone at the cafe was emotional.
I stood at a distance, teary eyed and happy. Happy about the fact that Sarah finally met her father.

I was looking at them in awe, when Sarah called me near her and hugged both of us together, and that very moment when she embraced us,

I finally felt, at home.

Had written this short story two years ago.  I could have written it in a better way, but this one’s still close to my heart. Open to feedback.

The exchange.

There was something really strange about the evening he left. We started walking from his house, and it was late evening. The road was particularly empty with just a few cars parked here and there. We were walking towards the bus stand. I wouldn’t say we were in a rush. I remember walking slowly because I wanted more time with him. He was holding a book in his hand and had a rucksack on his back.
I wanted to let him know how upset I was about his departure. But, none of us wanted to initiate a conversation as such. It was breezy, and one could predict the possibility of a drizzle. It was getting darker, the hue of a darker blue. The few vehicles that passed created some lights on the road. My eyes were glued to the lights for some reason.

He looked at me a couple of times like he wanted to say something. But, he didn’t utter a word.

When we finally got closer to the bus stand, his hand touched my hand, gently like the breeze. He stopped and looked at me. “I think we have officially run out of words.” I let out a subtle laugh. “I think we still have a few words left,” he replied. “And what are these words?” I asked.
He held my hand and kissed my forehead. “I’ll let you decide.” We exchanged a poetry without uttering a single word.

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The Oak tree.

I hope you don’t forget the time
we’ve spent under the oak tree.
We watched the world being
what it is and realised how vulnerable
we are to everything around us.
We sat next to each other
& watched it pour.
We let our thoughts surrender and
embraced our existence.

Oak Tree

My biggest fear was never losing you.
It was always being forgotten. I hope
some day, you find me here and there,
and a blurry montage comes to find you.
And, I hope you smile and remember
the oak tree we once fondly loved.
That way, I’m sure, I’ll always be with you.

We’ll do it.

I’ve seen you smiling and laughing next to me through summer and spring. It almost feels like a dream that is never-ending. A series of desired events, one after the other. With you, it feels like I’m at home. With you, I feel protected.
You’re my knight without a shining armour. Your existence is my heart’s favourite fireplace. You’re the giver of warmth. You’re the giver of joy. You’re the sun’s kiss when it gets too cold. You’re the rain’s intimacy when I’m thirsty.

large We’ll get lost in the woods and kiss under the moon. The night will get over but we will never run out of love. Your shoulder will be my only support and my lap your only pillow. You’ll fill me with your fire and I’ll fill you with my desire.
We’ll sail through oceans and fight all winds. We’ll go touch horizons and conquer our dream. I’ll save you from the thunder. I swear I’ll fight every storm. I’ll tell you stories and sing you songs that make you feel alive. We’ll write poetries that kick morose and give us the glimmer we’ve always wanted.
You’re everything my words can’t describe. I promise I’ll love you beyond time and existence. You’ll always be my first and last. You’ll always be my home.

What happened to us?

What happened to us?
I never realised how soon you turned into a floating memory. It’s strange how human relationships work. It still feels like yesterday when both of us used to spend hours talking over the phone about absolute bullshit. We never needed reasons to keep a conversation alive.
Both of us were almost inseparable. We were like the hands of a clock. In different directions but always tied together.
You knew my moods. You knew my preferences. You would make fun of my IQ and I would make fun of your face. The first time I saw you I wanted to hit you. I swear.
There are times when I feel like calling you and taking on a normal topic. Like, nothing ever happened. But, it’s not easy to pick up things after they break into something else.
I can still call you to tell you how much I miss you. However, are we ever going back to what we were?
I would have never possibly imagined that we will have awkward conversations. We go on without seeing each other for days. Days when we absolutely skip talking to each other and no one raises a damn concern.
It’s obvious. I know we have changed. And, what sucks is that we have accepted this too.
That’s when it hurts. That’s when it makes me sick. That’s when I want to talk to you and cry. That’s when I want both of us to fight and keep this shit alive.
I miss you. I really do.
Tell me. What happened to us?

That’s you.

 My relationship with Pa was beyond words. He was my grandfather and the only guardian I’ve ever had. We lived in a small house. Pa told me that we lived far away from the real world. Hence, I never had an idea about what the world was like. And because of him, it never mattered.
We also had a dog named Bobo. Bobo was my best friend and the best dog in the world. He would lick my face to wake me up. 
In the morning, Pa would make me some muffins and we would enjoy some music. I swear I could eat those muffins all day. 
I used to play with Bobo around the house while Pa would watch TV. I am guessing he used to watch some army related documentary. There was too much noise. I hated it. Later in the evening, he would take me for walks around the house. It used to be breezy and cold. While walking, he would never leave my hand. He used to tell me stories about his life in the army. I always thought of him as a hero. I remember asking him once,
“Why did you leave the army?”
“I realised people weren’t fighting for freedom anymore,” he said.
His stories were captivating. They always had some meaning attached. He used to tell me about my grandmother too. He missed her, I knew.
At night, I would sleep beside him. Bobo would sleep on the floor, right next to my side of the bed. He was so so furry. Pa would tell me stories at night too. I wouldn’t sleep without listening to them. He was like a story machine. He had so many of them.
My favourite story was about the prince named Zayan who was unstoppable. Pa said he could touch the moon. He wasn’t like the other boys, so he didn’t have friends. However, he was too special. Moon was something out of everyone’s reach, Pa said. I imagined it to be something precious.
Pa used to go somewhere in the afternoon and would ask me to stay inside the house with Bobo. He would tell me he is going to buy groceries.
One day, when Bobo and I were playing outside, he ran away. I couldn’t hear him barking. I started to cry his name.
 Pa and I went out to search him. We couldn’t find him. I was so upset, I didn’t want to eat anything. Not even muffins. At night, I heard him bark and woke up Pa. He asked me to sit in my room and went down. Bobo was back but he had gotten hurt. I hugged him so tight. He was so furry. He licked my face.
There was just one week left for my birthday. I knew Pa was planning something. He was always a step ahead. When I asked him if he knew what’s coming, he would act like he didn’t know. “Christmas is in December, Luke.”
I would giggle and punch his fat stomach.
On my birthday, he asked me to get up early. We were going somewhere. He didn’t give me details. Bobo was also in our car. We were listening to music and singing. Bobo would woof. It was the best time of my life. Every time, I was with them, I felt like the luckiest boy in the world.
As we were approaching the city, I could hear more cars. We stopped after a while and Pa kissed my cheek.
“Where are we?” I asked out of curiosity.
“You are going to meet Prince Zayan,” Pa replied.
I was so excited. I jumped out of the car. Pa held me in his arms. After a while, I heard someone telling him, “He is very brave.” I guessed that person was talking about the prince. He is indeed brave, I thought.
Pa and I were holding hands. Bobo was sitting near my feet. Pa said, “You will have to listen to her. She is going to help you meet Zayan,” I nodded. The woman took me with her inside the room. Pa hugged me tight and kissed my forehead.
After some time, I woke up with a headache. There was something on my face. I could hear Pa murmur something. I was almost about to cry when he hugged me.
The woman said, “Are you ready to meet him?”
I nodded. “We can remove it now,” someone else said.
 Slowly, they took off what was on my face. They told me to keep my eyes closed.
I could hear Pa cry.
“Open your eyes now,” the woman said.
When I opened my eyes, I saw a boy looking back at me. I couldn’t believe it.
“That’s your Prince Zayan,” the woman said.
“That’s you.” Pa added as he was holding the mirror.
 I could finally see.


Unchanged.

When we met after 4 years, I realised how much I missed having her around. She had gotten her nose pierced. Her hair was somewhere between burgundy and brown. She had a different accent and wore charms. She also had a little tattoo on her wrist.
But, she was still the same. Clumsy, naive and so damn beautiful.
It was strange how I had so much to tell her but yet I was stopping myself. There were these awkward glazes we threw at each other. She’d look at me like she was about to say something and then she would just look away.
Our separation did harm both of us in many ways and we sure went on different paths as individuals.
But, yet again, we met for a cup of coffee in the end.
And I realised we were not just two people in a cafe, talking about the weather and our favourite places in the world. We were two individuals trying to run away from the fact that our love still made us feel a little warm in the cold weather. Though we didn’t say it out loud, I knew she was the same girl I loved few years back and I was the same boy she’d want to fulfill her dreams with.
The silence could mean a lot of things to people around us. But deep down it meant exactly the same thing to both of us.
We were still in love.