Mayank was lost in thought when Avni slid a plate of honey glazed pancakes in front of him. Last night was the goriest of them all. He saw her walking around the house with knives. She even stabbed herself in the leg a few times. What scared him the most was her nonchalance to the pain that must have followed! It was almost like her body wasn’t feeling anything anymore. 

He took the plate and bit into one of the cherries with no courage to glance over his shoulder. He just peeped through the edges of his eyes to know that she was, indeed, smiling one of her brightest smiles. 

In a way, that was a relief. Had long since he last saw her happy. 

He grinned to himself and took a bite of the pancake and then turned to her. 

But… she… her smile was painfully wide… eerie… She looked annoyed. Her eyes seemed bigger and darker… like she was having one of those fits right in the morning. 

Before Mayank could have done something, he felt a strange fire building up in his throat; choking him down to his guts. He wasn’t breathing easy, just about enough to stay alive! It felt like someone wanted him to go through the labors of death, without ever falling into its arms. 

Mayank rushed to the kitchen for a glass of water. Nothing helped.

Water. Honey. Nothing. 

He had no options left but just to let the fire eat him up. He turned around to find Avni standing there, right behind him; her pupils had now grown large enough to eat up all the whites in her eyes and make them look like a black hole. A strange, creepy black hole which will seduce you enough to yearn for a trip down to its edge, yet will scare you enough to wish doom upon yourself just to escape its sorcery. 

“Don’t you love me, Mayank?”

Mayank tried to speak, but his words died in his mouth. His tongue had been a grave to his emotions lately… that day was no exception.

She repeated, 

“Don’t you love me?”

Another attempt to speak; succumbed to the fire! 

She placed a hand on his cheek, brushing some tears away, looking right into his eyes. 

Her voice cracked as if she was at the edge of tears. 

“You know, Mayank! I know you don’t love me. But I love you…”

She leaned forward, diving deeper into his eyes, “… And I always will.”

Her palm started to grow hotter… and hotter… and hotter… and soon, his cheek started burning just as bad as his throat. 

She dug her nails into his cheek… deeper… deeper… until she reached the bone. 

There was blood all over the floor. 

Alas! He couldn’t even weep to that!

“I wake up to nightmares these days!”

“Nightmares?”

“Yeah! Random flashes of pinching white light come charging at me until I fall out of breath and wake up gasping!”

“Hmm… Screwed!”

“Is it?”

“Yeah!” Mayank shrugged. 

“How much?”

“You are acting so weird, Avni!”

She was… Indeed, acting weird. Mayank felt like he was waking up to a stranger every day. Her eyes had a strange fire in them. The flames were cold… cold enough to turn your existence into ashes. 

In the middle of some odd nights, Avni would wake up to frightening fits of rage, throw stuff around the room, break lamps, pull the curtains down… only to fall to the ground and cry for hours. 

When this first happened, a month ago, it scared the wits out of Mayank. A conversation with Avni, and he immediately knew that she had no idea about the entire event. He searched online, read texts only to draw and settle for vague conclusions at the end.

Soon, the horror faded away, and everything got back to normal. Avni didn’t have any of those attacks for weeks until she gave into another one of those last night.

Screaming. Wailing. Tearing up. She fumbled around the room; all of this, while Mayank pretended to be in the deepest of his sleep, his hand pressed against his lips to keep him from yelling out her name. If that man would ever be asked about the terror of oblivion, he will talk about that night. Nothing kills people more than love anyway!

Unlike last time, Avni never got up from the floor. Everything went quiet… so quiet that he could hear her wheeze under her breath. His heartbeat was high, too high for comfort! Silence rang in his ears. 

Another night of stinging torment. Another night of hushed tears. He was exhausted!

We live in a lost world.
We are wanderers, miserable vagabonds!
We feed on anger and breathe out fires, then cry at the sight of burnt cities and homeless hearts.
We gulp tears and our eyes bleed, then we frown at the sight of spilled gore.
We smoke ashes, bathe in swamps, wear mere shreds of envy and then flaunt our prides.
Such is our foolery.
And, in a world as lost as ours, we dream of love and preach its beauty.
Sing it to glory.
I believe; hiding behind our quest for bliss, we are at strife for a ‘home’.
Enraged by our solitude and grieving our nostalgia…we are demons!
We are demons, hiding behind a charming bouquet of scented paper roses.
We hawk those flowers and break inside the deserted hearts of our patrons, vowing to fill their void with nectar and honey.
But….
We are hungry bandits!
We rob them off their peace and leave them to suffer in the torment of heartbreak.
Dear ‘home’,
I know; I know that you are lost in this pack of howling misers and you fear the day when you will have to wake up… to the nightmare of a shattered heart and an empty soul.
I know; I know that you want to find your ‘home’, as much as I want to find you.
But… what assures you, that our greed won’t take over and we won’t abandon each other, as soon as we catch our breathes and the sores on our feet stop oozing blood?
What assures you, that our ‘forever’ won’t be just another voice in the piercing cacophony of lies and that our ‘happy ending’ will not abide to the taunting title of ‘crippled rainbows and fantasies’?
Dear ‘home’,
Don’t you fret the horror… It may be lying at the end of our quests?
Isn’t ‘homelessness’ a bliss, when the walls of your abode chase the daylight out of your life?
With love,
From the ‘home’ that you may never find.

Have you ever stared down the demonic depths of a dingy abyss?

Or

Have you ever felt that sudden urge to resign…when those dark eyes of lucid heights call you?

If not… then allow my words,
To take you,
Through the tranquilizing horror,
And the anxiety-ridden silence,
Of that moment.

That moment when life knocks you down,
You hit your head on the cold and rough floor;
The world goes dead;
Your feet go numb;
Your eyes meet the dark;
And your ears…
Your ears embody those maniacs,
Who talk to the hushed nights
And claim to have learnt the secrets of life.
Those maniacs might be poets!!

Anyhow…

That moment, my friend…
Can be the death of your soul.
That moment, my friend…
Can bequeath you with scars…so deep;

So deep…
That an artist won’t shy away before carving them onto a stone and shouting out loud,

“Has the world ever seen a carve so abstract?”

You… my friend,
Will be standing in that crowd of mute spectators,
About to raise your hand to claim that,

“This is the relic to my crippling agony!”

But…
Those words will never leave your lips;
Your teeth will bite your tongue before it sins to let them out!

Why?

Because…
When you take your pain and pour it onto those words;
When those words escape your mouth and reach some ears;
Then… your pain comes to life;

It becomes your “Forever”!

The night smothered you,
With the smoke that rose above,
The burnt remains
Of your tender heart.

Now…
Now, your lungs ache,
Your guts lie,
Tied in knots,
Churning,
Wringing your life out of you.

Coiled like a foetus,
Drenched in tears,
Is that you?
Who carved these scars
Deep… in the tenders of your skin.
Is that a memoir
To your unworthy sin?

Pulling your hair,
Clenching your jaw,
Is that you?
Who strangled that beauty,
Over the rotting remains,
Of the fantasy of a paradise?

I know…
I know my friend,
You’ve waited for the dawn…
Like the staunch nightingale,
Waits for the last of the amber,
To fade away.

Don’t you fall prey,
To your bouts of fear!
Don’t you dare concede,
To the taunts,
Blurted by the deadly demons,
Of your crippling anxiety…!

For…
The dawn mustn’t shine
On your grave….

“Do you believe in ghosts?”

Yeah…

They live in my closet,

And yours too,

Don’t they?

 

There are nights, when I wake up,

Lying in this pool of sweat,

Or… is that blood?

I never chose to know…

 

Those eerie nights, I hear then growl,

Or… is that, their kind of a scream?

I never chose to know..

 

They must stare at me, from the creek and crevice,

Of the worn wood,

To know that, I am trembling with fear,

To know that, they need to howl,

Sing those tears.

 

There are days when I hear them knock,

Knock on my mind,

Knock me, off my ground,

In a ditch of worms,

Eating me up.

 

Perhaps… they’ve been dead since the dawn of the last summer,

But they are waiting for me,

To bury them,

… And, what am I waiting for?

The night of the next winter?

 

They are dead, yet alive enough,

To have an appetite,

To fantasise a feast,

the want… to feed on my soul.

 

They are dead, yet alive enough,

To be ridiculed for their deeds,

To be cursed for the gore,

Yet… to be called a part of my heart,

The corpse of a dead Ghoul.

I was lying there. Still. Lifeless. Numb….yet breathing.

With a body, curled up…. curled up like a fetus, waiting for light to dawn upon her untouched body.

But….with a body, cold…. cold as a dead and stale corpse, waiting for the ferocious hungry beasts to take away what death left behind.

With eyes, wide and open…. wide and open as they tried to make sense of the warm whispers in my ear, prophesying a life longer than I would want.

With a brow, frowned…. frowned to greet the thought of filling my lungs with the poisoned air…. poisoned with crippling regrets.

I was tired. Exhausted.

My eyelids felt heavy, like they weighed pounds. So, I allowed them to fall and shut the world away…. for…. I wanted to explore my world, the realm within.

But alas, torment doomed over my joy.

I found myself standing in a cage of glass, a cage that I built for myself over these years of agony….

Within no time, I was out of breath.

I was helpless, running my hands over the four glass walls.

I would have cried for help…. but the dark is cursed to be deaf.

I would have broken the glass…. but I crafted it to be unparalleled.

My lungs ached, I was choking….my body lost its power and my heart lost its hope. I surrendered to the fate that I chose for myself.

I was lying there. Still. Lifeless. Numb….yet breathing…. for…. I learnt to breathe in, on my emptiness.