A Late Evening Walk

She walked on the nearly empty streets where the streetlights shone soft, yellow stretches broken by dark strips of the road which was just out of their reach. She strode confidently in the areas that was lit and quickened her pace when darkness enveloped her.

She wouldn’t admit it to many people, but her courage - even at the ripe old age of twenty three - said goodbye at every door that led to darkness. He wasn’t what you’d call a very good friend. But, she liked walks and late evenings, and the torchlight on her phone was a very good alternative to courage.

She had walked about a kilometer and was on her way back to her house when she saw him - a little boy who looked about 6 years old. He was standing in a shadowed area, next to a dumpster, with eyes that looked crazed and calm at the same time. He looked homeless but she knew he wasn’t from his branded clothes. But, that wasn’t what caught her eye. Not the clothes, not the eyes, not even the disheveled hair. It was the blood. The sheer amount of blood.

His shirt was soaked in blood. The left half of his face was smeared with it. The top half of his trousers was crimson and the bottom was the beige. She saw him look at her face and then at the blood on his palms. When he looked up at her the second time, the crazed look in his eyes was gone and now, he looked haunted. His skin was pale, the red on his clothes made it seem paler. He tilted his head a little to the right, and the look seemed out of place on the face of a child. She almost felt like he was… assessing her. And as soon as it came, it was gone.

She took a step closer when she saw his lower lip quiver. It was heart wrenching when he pursed his lips, and tried and failed to appear brave. When she moved forward again, he took two steps backwards until his head hit the dumpster and fear rippled across his face when he realised he had nowhere to go.

‘Hey,’ she called softly.

His head jerked up at her words, surprised.

‘I’m not going to hurt you,’ she said. ‘I promise I won’t hurt you’.

A slow smile crept up the little boy’s face, before it was replaced by what she thought was distrust. She wondered if he had heard those words before. How many times he had heard those words before?

‘Can you tell me your name?’

He shook his head slowly, his eyes never leaving hers.

‘Okay, you don’t have to,’ she sighed. She looked around her, thinking. There was nobody. She could take him to the police station. But it could be too late in the day for them to do anything, and the thought of this scared, little boy spending the night on the cold, bare police station floor strengthened her resolve to give him a warm bed to sleep.

The loud sound that startled her from her thoughts into the present, also sent a shiver down her spine. He was standing just a few feet from her, looking at her expectantly. She hadn’t heard or seen him come closer. What gave him away was the empty plastic bottle he must have stepped on.

Of all the blood on him, none of it seemed to be his own. He looked unharmed to her, and for that, she was grateful. He must have decided she was trustworthy for he had stretched out a bloody hand in her direction. She hesitated, swallowed and then slowly took it.

They walked forward hand in hand.


She was standing outside the bathroom door incase he needed anything and thinking about what the police officer had said when she realised, to her dismay, that she couldn’t remember much. Her memory seemed fogged. She knew that the officer had allowed her to take the boy home, but she had no memory of the conversation. Her uneasiness grew. But she slowly calmed herself down writing off her incomplete memory to the evening’s trauma.

She had stripped him down to his undergarments and helped wash away most of the blood. She found it weird that the back of his shirt and trousers were nearly clean. It was as if he has slipped and fallen face first into a shallow pool of blood. She could hear the shower running. She smiled remembering the childish joy on his face when she showed him how to turn it on. He had nodded to everything she had said and accepted a towel, a pair of brown shorts - the one her little cousin had left behind - and her smallest pale yellow t-shirt.

He walked out unsure, not meeting her eyes, with the towel balled up in his hands, clean damp hair sticking out in every direction and the shirt falling off one shoulder. She stretched her hand and tried to pat his hair down when he jerked back like he was burned. The crazed look was back in his eyes before it was chased away by what she thought was a mixture of revulsion accompanied by fear. She felt sorry for the boy for whatever horror he had experienced.

She tucked him in and was rewarded with a tiny smile which faded away just as quick as it had come. It made her uncomfortable, the speed with which the emotions on the young face changed. Somehow, she knew there was more to his thoughts and emotions than his face let on.

She shook her head slowly acknowledging that she was being ridiculous. He was just a little boy. A strange one, perhaps. But then, aren’t all kids a little strange?

‘Good night,’ she whispered, turning off the room’s bright lights. In the pale pink light of the night lamp, she could see him watching her. She wondered what he was thinking as she slowly walked back to her room. She wondered what had happened to him when she was getting into bed. She wondered why there was blood only on his face and the front of his clothes just before she closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.


She woke up with a jerk to see a curious pair of eyes watching her. He was standing there and looking at her as if he was mesmerized. It took her a full thirty seconds before she coaxed her breathing back to normal.

‘Are you okay?’ she asked him.

He just looked at her.

‘Do you need anything?’

He shook his head.

‘Is there anything I can help you with?’ she tried again, slowly sitting up and leaning against the headboard. He was looking at her with his head tilted to one side. For the second time that day, she felt like she was being assessed by this little boy.

Nothing,’ he replied in a sing-song voice. She gasped in surprise. His voice was beautiful. Like an angel, she thought.

In a move that was too fast for her to follow in her sleep addled state, he snatched her hand. In the next second, he had sunk his teeth into her forearm. She watched him in horror and she couldn’t feel her arm anymore.

As he looked up from her arm, in an instant, everything made sense. The crazed look was back, there was blood flowing out from the sides of his mouth, the shirt he was wearing wasn’t yellow anymore.

That’s why the back of his clothes were clean!
She had felt like he was assessing her, because he was! Like a hunter assessing his prey.

She felt sick. She tried once again to pull her hand from his grasp, but she couldn’t feel her arm-

She woke up panting. Her hand was numb. She looked around her room, rubbing her arm and trying to get some feeling back in it. In the light streaming through the window, she could see the familiar shapes of her things in her room. She tried to calm herself breathing in and out slowly. It was a dream - a nightmare.

‘A bloody nightmare! ‘ she said to herself. ‘This is definitely going on my blog.’

Brother Sister Conversations

A few conversations fueled by a healthy mix of imagination and dreams, with a pinch of reality.


She looked at her brother with innocent eyes, ‘Why can’t I work as a mechanic, like you, if I score low marks? Why do mummy and pappa say they’ll marry me off?’.

Without looking up from the car he was playing with, he replied, ‘You aren’t strong enough to work with all the tools.’

‘What would you do if you can’t lift something?’ the nine-year-old shot back.

‘Ask for help.’

‘Well, I can do that too,’ she told her brother. ‘So why can’t I work in the mechanic shop?’ She wasn’t giving up.

‘Maybe because you hate getting grease all over your hands,’ the eleven-year-old big brother replied thoughtfully.

‘Oh… Okay,’ she agreed. She really hated grease.


‘Always on trees like a monkey,’ he heard his grandmother grumble. Out of the corner of his eyes, he saw his sister put her head in her hands theatrically.

‘Not again,’ she whispered, turning her head sideways and looking at him.

‘Why don’t you play something that girls of your age should be playing?’ she asked, walking into the room. ‘Thirteen years old and you still climb trees like a boy.’

He whispered something in his sister’s ear. It made her giggle.

‘Female monkeys, granny,’ she echoed his words with a sly smile, ‘Female monkeys.’


‘But they said I shouldn’t leave the room,’ she said, unsure.

He shrugged. ‘What’s the worst that can happen?’

‘I’ll be shouted at. Punished,’ she whispered furiously.

‘And you’ll be…’ he prompted. He kept his voice down. He didn’t want to wake anyone up either.

‘I’ll be grounded,’ she said slowly, a smile growing on her face. ‘Asked not to leave my room.’

He winked at her. ‘Let’s go. The terrace. C’mon!’ He knew keeping a teenager cooped up in her room for five whole days was not the best idea.

‘Thank you,’ she said, as they sat leaning against each other looking at the sky.

And then he played his last card. ‘Care for some chocolate, sister?’


‘Can you believe I’m twenty-three?’ She wondered out loud. She was sitting cross-legged floor, leaning against the bed and starting at the half melted bar of chocolate in her hand as if it held answers to all of the universe’s questions.

‘You’ve eaten too much chocolate,’ he commented looking at the wrappers around her. There were a lot of them around himself, too. ‘Huh..’

‘That makes you twenty-five!’ The excitement of the said discovery made her voice seem too loud in the empty house. She giggled and put a hand over her mouth.

‘You’re drunk... On chocolate..’ He trailed off.

‘I still feel like I’m cheating when I tick the box that says “Adult” in forms,’ she whispered conspiratorially.

He knew exactly what she was talking about. Maybe he was drunk, too. Or, maybe, she was sober. Did that make him sober?.. He was too tired to figure it out.


‘Be careful,’ she yelled, for what he thought was the hundredth time. He saw his 10-year-old niece teaching her younger twin cousins how to climb trees, directing them where to place their feet and where to hold, along words of encouragement.

He and his sister were sitting there watching, hearts in their mouths and restraining themselves from letting their fear intervene and stop their children from doing exactly what they themselves did when they were kids.

‘Maybe Granny had a point when she said I shouldn't be climbing trees,’ she wondered out loud.

‘They'll be alright,’ he assured her. ‘You were an arboreal for the most part of your life, and you turned out alright.. Well, mostly alright,’ he finished with a laugh.

Yes, he fully deserved that punch.


She's Afraid.

It's a shaky smile
Before she sets it right.
She loves them still.
That's never changed,
And she knows it never will.
But this is something new.
It's something raw.
It's a growing dread.

It's a fear
She's never felt before.
The one thing
She was never afraid of before.
She never thought she'd be sent away
To a place
She’d never been before,
To live with people
She'd never known before.

She tries to shake it off.
She tries to cover it up.
But the truth, it doesn't go away.
And she finds she cannot hide,
Not from what she's afraid to find.
She's afraid.
She's afraid to go home...
Afraid they'll send her to another.

-Arya


This one is close to the heart, mine and a few other's.

Underneath

Violent storms it has weathered,
Many a tears it has sheltered,
Many a smiles it has harboured.
Now, the cracks spill your thoughts!

It hides hurt that is burning red,
Little marks of needle and thread,
Little burns of love and dread,
A wall that can't be fell?

The carefully built wall forgets
All the nights spent sleepless.
All those eternal secrets-
They show as it slips.

There's beauty in perfection?
But there's life… there’s life in
The face behind that mask..
The person under that veil.

-Arya

A Rant

Dear Rule Breakers,

Not all rules are meant to be broken. Especially, the road safety rules.

Some days , when I see pedestrians waltzing on the roads and vehicles moving confidently on the pavements, I actually wonder if, somehow, I was taught things wrong, or if the rules had changed overnight.

Remember when you were a little kid and your teacher taught you to ‘Look left, right. Then, cross the road’? She was NOT joking. You might have been too young to be told this then, but this rule applies when you are on a vehicle, too, regardless of the size of the vehicle, wheel count, colour, number of people on the vehicle… you see where I'm going. (Even if you are walking across a one-way road, look both sides - yes, you know why. You know where you live.)

It might look misleading, but your helmet is not a fashion accessory; for example, it isn't a Gucci bag to hang on the crook of your elbow when you drive. Neither is it something to put your groceries in after you've been shopping. It's for safety ( - yes, that word again). And it can't keep your head safe if it's on the petrol tank or between your feet. Oh, and head injuries don't just occur when you are in the field of vision of a traffic police officer.

Those small blinking lights on either side of your vehicle can be turned on when you need to take a turn or change lanes. (You do know that they exist, right?... right?) No, it is not a crime to do that. No, you will not be arrested. And when the blinkers on my vehicle are turned on, please pay heed. I'm not doing that because I am practicing for the club I want to start.

Overtaking someone on the road is not a mistake. So, it would not kill you to be less secretive about it and alert the driver before you do zip past him. But not doing that is a sure way to get yourself killed.

Headlights can be dimmed. Surprise, surprise! The next time you think someone is driving like a blind man, remember, you might be right. He might be blinded because you are shining a light in his face and the only thoughts in his head would probably be ‘there was road here’ or ‘am I dead and moving towards the light’ or ‘who taught that #%@# (you) how to drive’.

Red is ‘stop’.
Stop before the white line. And not half way across the pedestrian crossing.
Green is ‘go’. Not amber, GREEN. GREEN! GREEN!!

Another thing, honking does not make the vehicles in front of you go faster. It doesn't make the yellow light turn green - Yes, it’s been tested.

So ... BE SELFISH ! Take care of ‘YOU’rself. Protect ‘YOU’r head. Give up practices that make YOU prone to road accidents. Keep 'YOU'r family safe.

Do that, and you will be making the roads safer for everyone, including ‘YOU’rself.

Yours Sincerely,
That person who does not move until the light turns green.

Crimson.

Lack of recognition
In his bloodshot eyes.
A soft clink of ice.
Reality or vision?

His teeth hit the rim.
A red hot burn in his throat.
Is he drowning or afloat?
Liquid copper threatens to brim.

Fear filled eyes were hidden, -
Protected by her mother- but wet.
The scarlet filter made him forget
That hurting her was forbidden.

Angry drops of crimson dripped
And an angel left the nest
Dragging with her his life's zest.
And, of love he was stripped.

A helpless groan chases the sigh
That escapes the bleeding beast
The vultures of grief enjoyed a feast
Not waiting for him to die.

A shatter of glass. A million pieces.
He awakens with a start.
Was that his heart?
Or, is he really heartless?

-Arya

Alcohol not just brought down his inhibitions but awakened a monster he didn't know existed.
Losing all that he held dear, makes him wonder if the monster was him all along.

Always.

Sometimes I just want to go away.
To be alone. To set my own rules.
To define my boundaries. And test their strength.
To draw a line. Stay inside. Walk on it.
Erase it off. Draw another.

Sometimes I just want to walk.
Go where my feet takes me. To find own way and follow it.
To choose my own destination. Or to walk till I reach one.

Sometimes I just want to find myself.
To know what I am like. To know what I like.
To discover the person I am. To know who I want to be.

Sometimes I want to choose.
To pick a shade, to choose a colour.
To make my own decisions. To make my own mistakes.
To stumble, and find my way again.

Sometimes I just want to live.
To live, to breathe, to love.
I want to live without being judged. I want to breathe the air I want.
I want to love whom I want.
I want to live and be silly. I want to breathe and feel free.
I want to love and be loved.

Sometimes I want to be the girl I'm afraid to be.
Sometimes I want to be the girl I am.

-Arya


You write about things you see or stories you hear. But you write what you feel about it - there's a bit of the author in every story.

In the past few months, I've heard a few stories. Most of them... I wish were just stories. They made me think about a lot of things. Made me wonder 'What if?'. What if I was in their place.

So, this one is for every person in those stories as much as it is for me.

She waits..

A couple sleepless nights and I really began to miss sleep.. Miss it enough to personify it.. ;)

Seconds… Minutes… Hours…
She realizes she isn't lost.
Tears escape her closed eyes.
A shiver runs down her spine
She feels his fingers slip off hers.
And gone is the sweet warmth of wine.
She misses his safe, warm embrace
The sure, soothing beats of his heart
The smell of dreams in his steady breath.
But, she knows she never can
Forget this life and live another.
She cannot wake up in another place,
Or build a world of her own.
As she walks into an endless maze.
She knows he's there
But he’s hidden. Out of sight..
She follows his secret trail,
Wading deep into the labyrinthine.
Yet, she isn't lost,
But he is lost to her...
Eyes closed and, counting breaths,
For him, she searches.
She waits for him.

-Arya

This World I Have Truly Known!

(The Cries Of A Woman!)

Inspired by Kapil Sibal ’s poem "Aankh khuli aazad thi main".


I opened my eyes to my snow white wings.
Such a sweet melody, Freedom sings!
Wind in my wings. Goal in my mind.
But, me, to my nest, with chains you bind.

I crave to advance with a firm tread.
‘Why am I stopped?’, I said.
Why, but why, do you want me dead?!
Being not needed – It fills me with dread.

In quest of myself, I wander, lost!
Why must I smother the whispers of my soul?
Why must I cover my visions with frost?
Why, my life, must you control?

My spirit begs, ‘Stay Alive’.
Into the dark abyss, why force me to dive?
Why do you lust to drown me?
Me as your shadow, why do you crave to see?

I truly understand now,
Why I need to fight and how.

My mind commands, ‘Stride abreast!’
When you can lead, why only follow?
There’s courage vested in my chest.
In my immense strength, I’ll wallow!

Because, I truly understand now,
Why I need to fight and how!

I used to walk on my own.
Rely upon my strength alone.
Now, let me walk on my own.
For, this world I have truly known!!

-Arya


I wrote this poem a long time ago. It was a background-read (?I don't know what it's called) for a play. It's been two years and five months. Now, for absolutely no reason, seems like the perfect time to put it up here. :P

Hope & Magic

I’d been thinking if I could write a poem with someone else’s ideas. But I soon realized it isn't easy to remove my ideas and just, well, 'write'. I tried.. ;)

The prompt was ‘Magic’ and the only thought in my head was: Hope is magic.

And that thought became a 'little' different... :D


Hope

Eyes closed and fingers crossed.
Wishing and willing into existence.
The seed of belief buried deep.
Safe from the cast nets of doubt,
From suspicion's frosty gaze.
The fierce, silent battle
Against everyone and yourself.
A flickering, undying light in the dark.
A thing of beauty to be seen.
Magic

Eyes wide and fingers clasped.
Questioning but believing the existence.
The seed of belief buried deep
And spinning nets alongside doubt,
Welcoming suspicion's curious gaze.
The intricate, stirring dance
Of intimidation and awe.
Sudden, soothing beats in the silence.
So much more beautiful when unseen

The magical thing called hope
And hoping for magic -
Isn’t that what life and love is all about?

- Arya
(with ideas borrowed from my friend, Niranjan )