Studded with gems, crafted with gold.

A lustre so bright… the moon held an intent to conspire the world against it.

A smile so kind… the ink stopped bleeding praises for a mother’s heart.

Eyes so deep… no man could quieten his curiosity to explore the mystic realm behind.

No sculptor’s hands would have dreamt of carving a nose so sharp.

The brow screamed the wisdom that the charming silhouette promised to behold.

It was a mask… Oh! So fine!

It must have taken the nobility of a prince.
It must have taken a heart, as pure as ash… to be honoured with such an adornment.

Or, so the world believed… until a harsh blow of wind claimed rebellion and knocked the mask off.

The crime was “Contempt of the royal visor”…

The wind wasn’t guilty…

But, the appalling sight that followed, it poisoned the air.

It was a corpse for a face.

Deep dark ditches for those beautiful eyes.

A long sharp thorn for the finest of the noses.

A rotten scab for that skin of gold.

Folks yelled curses, hissed at the ghoul.

Babies wailed with fear as they hugged their mothers.

“To boycott and shun the guest of dishonour”, was the court’s way to bring justice.

The trial would have been the ghastliest of them all…

Only if, another masked man wouldn’t have stepped into the arena.

Only if, another gleaming piece of gold wouldn’t have inebriated the eyes of the rank and file.

‘cause, who frowns at the evil when they get to gasp for the artistry.

The world has a way to forget justice for glory.

That rugged and withered wooden door…it stood in front of me as it greeted my somber mask… A mask, my soul wore with pride.

My hand reached out for the door knob and rested at it for a while.

I stared at my hand….with eyes hollow enough to engulf the world around me.

Paying my due respects to the time I wasted for this inane ritual, I tightened my grip and opened the door…. closing my eyes, for…I expected to meet a sharp and piercing glare.

But… Rather…I was welcomed by ostracizing darkness.

I stepped inside the room, unknown to the world that lay ahead.

My fear would have paid the merchants well… The room lit up, as bright as a jovial day… as soon as I stepped in.

I was in the middle of a sea of books… both, bulky and thin.

Yes… It was a library… except, this one wasn’t preaching me some modern science. They called it, “The library of life”.

A book called me out. It was the frailest of them all… Its cover was as dark as nothing.

I pulled it out. The cover refused to share an essence to the wisdom ahead, hence… tempting me to dive into the book.

I followed suit, out of grave curiosity.

A cruel flash of light fell on my eyes, forcing me to turn my face away.

The mystic gleam, soon, faded away… and, I… I dared to look at the only page.

It was, but, a mirror.

Engraved at the top, was a sentence that must always echo in my head…

“For once, you may challenge the facts, but the wise don’t question ordeal.”

That was the greatest book of them all.

It compelled me to read myself.

The thunder is the sinner… It sins to defy the clouds. It roars for the agony, yells curses at the gloom.
And oh! How the world gasps at the sight of that war!

Those tiny drops of water… the ones to abandon the magnificence of the heavens… the ones to fall on the loathed and barren fields. They will be cursed for their compassion!

Those clouds… those cruel and audacious clouds, they just deprived the world of its light. They dared to contempt the sun. They will be doomed with the wrath of coward hearts… The ones who are scared of the dark.

These winds… they must be held for causing bereavement. They left another house in drought. They left the thirsty throats suffering… dry and choking… to bring rains to another land of arid torture.

All of these… they are sinners.

Guilty…

They must be sued…

For caressing the wounds of the broken hearts…
For bringing love to the despised…
For bringing peace to the devastated…
For bringing hope to the forlorn…

That is how the world works…
We need to follow the law of the land…

It was a dark and lonely night.

The sky would have been a vision to behold with all the lovely stars, and a bright full moon…. if…. only if, it wasn’t bequeathed with an awning of heavy storm-ridden clouds.

The air was taught… It prophesied a demonic storm.

There I was, beside the lake… kneeling down.

My arm bled…body covered in scars and bruises.

My hand, pressed against my chest as I gasped for breathe.

My eyes squinted as the pain rendered me numb and senseless.

Everything seemed like a blur.

In front of me, my sword had lain for years, waiting for me…. desperate for victory.

It was a blade of Honor, it shone with brilliance, a luster like no other…. except, now, its shine was a gleam of crimson…for…it was now drenched in blood.

I gathered my strength. My body lost its power, but …. I couldn’t have lost my desire to conquer.

I stood up… Limping….my legs quivered.

My hands clinched around the hilt of the blade.

I swayed it, in all the ways known to my kind…. like a sloshed fool … hoping to kill my rival, once and for all.

But…alas, the knights of obscure wisdom shouldn’t dream the dreams of their reign.

Another sword came flashing, piercing through the air. The assailant aimed at my calf and knocked me down.

I was lying there… helpless… grunting curses at the silhouette of my enemy.

Suddenly, the clouds withdrew their rebellion.

The Moon enlightened the world… revealing the face of my opponent.

It was me.

I hated myself.

 

These roads, they have never known peace.

“Quiet and calm”, no poet dares to gift these words to his lover.

Yes…his lover…the fuel to his art… Life.

My feet have sores, I walked barefoot for years…but I won’t dare to caress them…for…my rendezvous with this pilgrimage hasn’t borne any fruit yet.

Every lonely night, I stare at the stars and think. Aren’t we all travelers?… Vagabonds… The delusional vagabonds!!

No place called home has ever been warm enough for cold nights.

No lake could wash away the filth and dirt off our soiled silhouettes.

We, are all misers.

Life is a sorceress, we fall for its magic.

Life is the mistress in this facade of beauty.

A dawn ago… I halted to hear some songs of praise for her highness.

The singer hailed loud and clear,

“Everything “life” is beauty!
Everything “death” is beauty too!!”

My heart smiled and blurted out loud,

“Then why does my soul yearn for peace!?”

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.

Fallacy…

When I walked through….

I pushed the door aside and rested my foot on the ground, in hopes of finding fresh and young grass, waiting for me, excited to tingle the sole of my feet!

I pushed the door aside and took a deep breath, in hopes of finding a sweet and flowery scent, waiting for me, excited to warm my heart!

I pushed the door aside and slowly opened my eyes, in hopes of adoring the beauty of nature, waiting for me, excited to calm my senses!

But…I found myself standing in the middle of spiny scrubs, thorns piercing through the sole of my feet; the rotten smell filled my heart with agony; the carcass that made me feel eerie!

They said… this was, once, a paradise!
They said… they are sorry for not showering it with love!

My heart cried for the forgotten paradise!
My soul wailed for the bereaved hearts!

Click here to read chapter-1.

Stella stood in front of the door; her hand was resting on the door knob and her eyes were closed…not to hide the gloom that ruled her heart for the past seven years…but to feel the warmth of the sun that had just dawned on the sky of her life.

“Are you sure?” asked Alex as Stella signed the cheque.

“I don’t think that I have any reason to not be sure!”

“But, didn’t you save this money to start your own company?”

“I did! But, when I was saving this money, I was wasting my life like a wreck, ignoring my happiness, my family’s happiness. In the last seven years of my life, I have tried to live a fool’s dream! I was trying to barter smiles for applause; I was trying to give away the beautiful life that I already had to buy a much cheaper and a fabricated world, a world of mirages, it does not even lets you see its voids before you become as hollow as this world! If giving away this money brings back those smiles on my parents’ face, then I don’t think that anything or any reason is valid enough to stop me from repaying this debt!”

A wide smile graced Stella’s lips as she relived that moment! She was proud…proud of her decision…she was proud of the fact that now, she knew what she really wants from her life.

That moment, that serene moment…as she stood in front of the door of her room, was the happiest moment of her life.  Nothing beats the beauty that lies in the strength needed to rebuild the fortress of your life.

She took a deep breath to feel the happiness that surrounded her and pushed the door open. She, then, slowly opened her eyes as she stepped inside her room. She witnessed every memory coming back to life, greeting her on her arrival. The woody scent that filled the air soothed Stella’s senses. She wanted to freeze that moment, then and there.

She felt like a traveler, who just returned from a long journey; she just came back to a home that she left behind in her endeavors; a home, that she once despised for its comfort and beauty, for the fact that it lacked adventure! That adventure, which was offered by the rugged roads that waited for her, outside the four walls! She left this home for them…but today, she could fight the world to call this home her own!

“Help me!”

Stella turned around to find John struggling with the luggage.

“Oh! I am sorry! I forgot that you were getting the luggage out of the car!”

Stella helped John and kept the bags on the table beside the bed. Tired from carrying the suitcases all by him, john threw himself onto the sofa. Meanwhile Stella got busy in unpacking her suitcase. To make some place for the clothes, Stella decided to examine the closet. A huge blow of dust came on her face as she opened the closet door. She started coughing.

“Oh God! This place has to be cleaned!” she managed to utter those words while she still coughed badly.

“No need! The lawyer has completed all the paperwork. Just sign on the dotted and we will be free!” John played with his fingers as he said that, trying to avoid making an eye contact with Stella. He suspected that after meeting her parents, meeting Alex and listening to their story, she might have changed her mind. His fear found a very firm ground in his head when he got to know about her decision to repay the debt using her life savings.

Stella gave out a deep sigh. “I am not selling the house!”

From her tone, she sounded uninterested to voice any further arguments in this regard. She expected her boyfriend of five years, and now his fiancé, to take that affirmation as obvious. She wanted his heart to answer that question before his mind would have even decided to give birth to it!

The fact that it was still unanswered, felt like a sword through Stella’s soul. The fact that john still expected her to sell the house was a red-flag for her, and definitely not the first one! She came across a similar red-flag when she saw a change in John’s expressions on hearing her decision to pay back the debt!

She knew that John was not on the same page as her…but this time, she was determined to not move even a single page to please him!

“I knew it!” John’s lips twisted in anger, his brow frowned in frustration. “I knew that you were an emotional fool! Oh God! How stupid am I? How did I even expect practicality from a person like you?” John was blazing with anger. He jumped up from the couch and started pacing back and forth as he attacked Stella with those words.

But Stella…her armor was strong; it was made with her deep emotions. An armor made of reasoning can be broken with an arrow of a strong argument, but an armor made of emotions is unparalleled!

“You can call me whatever you wish to! I am not selling this house!” Stella’ eyes oozed out the firmness of her decision.

John felt helpless! He kicked the side-table as he exited the room. The vase on the top of it fell down and broke into a thousand pieces. This time, those pieces were not a metaphor of her broken heart… but they represented the fall of that hollow and vulnerable Stella, whose part she played for the last seven years.

A tear left her eye to pay the due condolences to that Stella, and then she resumed her work as she gulped the rest of her feelings!

“Pass me that blue color!”

”Yes Sir!” Stella exclaimed as she passed the tube of color to her dad; she went, stood beside his canvas and started looking at his face!

“What are you looking at?”

“The face that I yearned to see for so many years!”

“Well! My face has wrinkled a lot since then!’

“Makes you look cuter!” Stella pulled her father’s cheek as she said that.

David took some blue paint and stroked it on Stella’s nose.

“Dad!’ He smiled and giggled.

“Don’t you trouble my daughter!” Emma entered the room with four glasses of juice. She kept them on the table and handed over a glass to Alex.

Stella noticed his plaster, “Hey! How is that so white? Why haven’t I drawn on it already?”

Stella picked up a marker and started drawing on the plaster in his hand. Emma took Stella’s place and started watching David paint with keen interest, her hand resting on his shoulder. They both looked at each other and smiled every now and then.

Looking at these smiles filled Stella’s heart with joy!
“They look so happy!”

“Yes! I can die for those smiles!”

“What about you? Are you happy Stella?”

“Yeah! Of-course! I am very happy! I am still pursuing my dream job and helping my father with his art gallery at the same time! I can’t even explain how much joy that brings to my heart! I won’t lie! Travelling every weekend is a little exhausting, but it is totally worth it!” Stella said that with the widest smile on her face!

“Do you have any idea about how beautiful you look when you smile? Start smiling more often, Stupid!” Alex said that as he pinched her nose.

Stella giggled and continued her drawing.

The wounds of her past were still red. She was still not over John…but her heart was not dead and barren now . Her heart was waiting for love to blossom!

She knew that Alex liked her…she liked him too!

But…she was not ready, her heart was not ready to risk a beautiful relationship, to exhaust its purity, force it to fill the wounds of her heart. She knew that she had to heal herself first, fall in love with herself again…and then allow love to cover her scars!

She smiled as she told that to herself!

THE END!

Left in the storm…

When I walked through….

I have been running along these withering walls for what seems like an eternity. The walls are old; their paint falling off at places, baring the tired bricks which must have held this structure for years. Rugged and faded portraits grace them like a fatigued smile, hiding the melancholy of a broken heart. The lights on the ceiling flicker as I pace through this abandoned alley; my lungs ache from all the running as I make my way through the ruins of my present!

The path ahead seems like a far-fetched dream. No withering walls, no saddened paintings; only angelic lights. What lies ahead, seems like an ethereal aisle, a walk down which must lead you to heavens; the epiphany of happiness!

Every now and then, I try to catch a glimpse of what follows me….and I find myself staring down the eyes of darkness, sheer darkness, engulfing the foyer and its carcass. Brisk steps give way to long leaps as I think about the roads of regret which I left behind.

I am running because I have been there before, beyond the dark wall, fallen for the trickery of the past; spent days thinking about “What would have been…” and “What would have not…”!

I have been running along these withering walls for what seems like an eternity but….

I never reached that light, the past never stopped following me and I never escaped the ruins of my present!

 

Click here to read chapter-10.

Alex slowly opened his eyes as he woke up from a long night’s sleep. His head was slightly hurting and he felt a little dizzy because of the influence of all the medicines. It took a while before he completely gained his consciousness. He looked around in hopes of finding Stella in his room, but she wasn’t there.

“Must have gone back to take rest!”

He said to himself as he smiled. Someone knocked on his door.

“Come in!”

A tall man, probably in his late twenties, entered the room.

“Yes?” A sudden fear struck Alex as he saw him.

“Hi! Alex! I am John, Stella’s boyfriend!”

Alex’s frown eased as he heard that and a small, welcoming smile took its place.

“Oh! Hi! Nice to meet you! I am sorry….”

“No! Don’t be sorry! I can totally understand! After that fight, you must have been very scared of every other stranger!”

“Yeah!” Alex smiled and nodded in agreement…then an awkward silence took abode in the room. Alex started playing with his fingers, giving away his restlessness. John sensed that.

To lighten the air and start a conversation, he asked, “Would you mind if I take that chair and sit beside your bed?”

“No! Please make yourself comfortable!”

“Thanks!”

He helped himself with the chair and sat beside Alex. There was an unforeseen change in Alex’s expression. A thought dawned over him, “If John is in the town then Stella might have gone to complete the formalities to sell the house.” Alex panicked for a second but then he took a long deep breath and came back to his senses.

“Hey, John! I am feeling a little uneasy; will you please call the nurse for me?”

“Yeah! Sure!”

John left the room to find the nurse. Meanwhile, Alex got up from his bed and reached for the phone in his room taking support from tables and chairs as they came in his way. Tripping over a few times, Alex finally managed to reach the phone, he picked up the receiver and dialed Stella’s number.

“The number you have dialed is either switched off or not reachable at the moment….”

Alex slammed the receiver on the table. “NO! NO! NO! Alex you can’t let this happen! I need to do something.”

Alex walked towards the door to inspect any signs of John coming back. He was nowhere around. Alex made his way out of the room into the corridor and started to walk towards the exit of the hospital.

“Alex!”

John called from behind. Alex stopped dead at his spot. John ran towards him and put his arm around the shoulder to support him.  “What happened? You should go and take rest!”

With a snap, Alex pulled back his arm. The force knocked Alex off his feet and he fell down.

“Alex!”

John quickly kneeled down to pick him up. “Alex, stop behaving like a kid! Tell me, where do you want to go? I will take you there!”

“John! Take me to Stella! Quick! We don’t have much time!”

“She has gone back to take rest! What’s so urgent?”

“Have you both sold the house already?”

“NO! Some formalities are yet to be completed! Why?”

Alex eased down; he gave out a deep sigh and ran his fingers through his hair. The fact that the house wasn’t sold yet was a big relief! But…But Alex needed to stop Stella before it was too late. “John! Don’t ask questions! Just take me to Stella!”

The urgency in Alex’s voice prompted John to be quick on his feet. He quickly took Alex to the car, helped him in and drove off to the house. Within no time, they were at their destination.

John helped Alex get off the car and took him towards the front door, but before they could have gone any further, Alex held John back.

“Do you hear those voices?”
Alex peeked into the front yard and pulled himself back immediately, his hand covering his mouth to imprison the cry of long-wished joy. He couldn’t believe what he just saw. He couldn’t believe that Stella and her parents were together, sitting in the front yard of their house, looking like a family.

“Is that all related to the….”

“Art gallery!” Stella’s mom intervened and then continued, “When you went away, our life felt empty. Drought doomed over our happiness. Every day, every single moment that we spent breathing felt like a pilgrimage to seek you back….” Emma pushed back her tears, the tears begged for freedom, “The only thing that brightened your father’s day was his art… he spent night and day, working on his paintings. He missed the court proceedings, his client lost their cases, his reputation as a lawyer started fading away and eventually new cases stopped coming in.”

Stella took her mother’s hands in her own as she fought with her own tears, “…eventually, our financial condition started declining, we came under debt, and everything…everything became so difficult. Your father started his own art gallery in hopes of being able to do something about the situation. He used the basement of the house to set up the gallery. By god’s grace, he was even able to secure good deals for his paintings but as soon as the lenders got to know about the hefty price that we were being paid for the paintings, they planned to smuggle them away and started trading on them. All those people who you came across with in the past few days were the landlords and the money lenders. God bless Alex, he has been protecting us against them since years. We decided to not tell you about any of this so that you can be at peace in your world.”

“Then why did you transfer the house in my name? You could have sold it and paid back the debt!”

“A life drowned under debt is much more comfortable than a life spent yearning for the memories of our beloved daughter. We were in debt but selling this house would have rendered us poor.”

Alex and John didn’t even realize when they entered the yard while listening to the conversation.

Stella opened her mouth to say something but she ditched her words when she saw them.

“Alex! John!”

After getting to know about her parents’ feelings for the house, will Stella still be able to sell it? How will her calling affect her relationships? What new turn will her life take now?Find out in the upcoming chapters of “When I walked through…..”Follow the blog to receive an e-mail every time we release a new chapter.