Monday, March 20, 2006

The chapel

Math exam. As I gather sheets with hastily scribbled formulae for a last minute cram, gulit overpowers me. Guilt. I start to panic. Funny, isn't it? A mere exam does that to me. Guilt. It's all my mistake..

Give it an hour.

I am at perfect peace with the world. Silence prevails. I place my bag on the bench and kneel on the wooden plank below. The room, I observe, has two other girls doing the same. With a glimpse of the cross before me, I close my eyes.What a pleasant feeling! I am drifting away. Where, I know not. I see nothing but the cross..Christ nailed to the cross. I dare not look at him. I do not have the right to ask a favour. It was my mistake. A whole year spent in frolic. Guilty again.

With a sudden rush of understanding, I take my bag and walk away, stopping only for a sprinkle of the Holy Water placed in a corner, a sheet of formulae crumpled in my fist. Christ had given me a message. Guilt cannot be washed away in the church.

I know what I have to do to get rid of the guilt before my next exam. Alas, as I walk towards the exam room, I can only hope that the one night stand with my textbook will fetch me a neat little 60.

Moral : Never visit the chapel on the day of your exam.

Remember me

Another day. I wake up with the sun and utter a small prayer. Then the usual brush,wash and rush. I miss the 8 am bus. Been missing it as long as I can remember. Alas, if only I had known I would miss it even today, these few minutes could be spent for a decent breakfast than waiting for the next bus. I move over to the bus stop. Three schoolgirls and a middle aged lady seated on one of the three slabs, engaged in conversation.Without warning, my cellphone starts buzzing. I take out the damn thing from my bag..'damn' because the vibration makes my hand numb, as I sit on a slab clutching tight my jacket. A cold day. Oh, the alarm buzzing. November 15, 2005. Today. Why did I mark this day on my calendar? The image changes.

I see a teenager bending over something,her fingers on her temples,frowning..concentrating. An old man sits before her. He is as calm as the girl is tensed. I should've guessed. It's a game of chess they are playing. Minutes pass in silence. Two moves from both sides and a quick third move by the old man. I see the White Queen being taken out.

"Oh no. One chance, Grandpa. Just one more chance. I didn't see the queen there."
"No Chinu. I already gave you a chance. How else would you learn?"
"Yeah OK..but stop calling me that. You know I don't like that name. Call me by my name."

For a moment, their eyes meet. One moment. Eternity.

"Your name...your.."

The man goes blank.

Two months later, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Gradual loss of memory. A silent assasin.

I see the old man again, this time on the bed. His eyes lie unfocused on the ceiling. A dull clunk of a glass of something being placed on the table. His eyes shift to the girl beside him, now hastily smoothening the sheets on his bed. He continues to look at her with a slight frown, as if trying to remember something. She seeks a smile on his face. A smile..that sign of recognition.

Did she get one, I do not know.

A thump on my back. "Hey, what are you thinking?"
Huh? Where am I? How did I get here? The man..the girl..where are they?

The schoolgirls must have gone. I don't see the lady either. I look at the person on my right. The sudden smile on my face must have alarmed her.

"Happy birthday", I say, trying hard not to sound breathless.
Her face lights up. "Oh! You remember. How nice!"

Yes..I remember..I remember..

The temptress

Moonlight calls,
Waves slap the rocks,
A cool breeze sweeps away my tresses.
Midnight blue sky,
Stars wink at me,
A seeming temptress, the sea..the sea..

Ah! The pleasure of solitude,
Waves scurry back, back and forth.
The surf tickles my toes.
A game of hide and seek,
Moon with the clouds.
And a drizzle to perfect
This date with the temptress.

The drizzle turns to rain
Yet I stand still,
A part of me sanguine
To merge with the rising tide,
To be carried away
To the land of no return.