Saturday, July 28, 2012

Freaky Friday

A story inspired after a lunch at a restaurant. Is purely coincidental and a figment of my imagination. If you find it objectionable or unacceptable, do let me know. Hope you enjoy it though.

Freaky Friday

The tables were laid out, the restaurant empty, their table booked. He scanned the length of the restaurant to look for her, trying to place the pictures of her he had seen online on the one or two faces that were present there. She sat there grim and brooding in the farthest corner of the room, scarcely visible from where he was looking. He asked for Sophia and was directed to the table that had been booked for them. The restaurant had an eerie feeling about it, despite the staff being cordial and warm there was a general sense of coldness in the air, he couldn’t tell where it came from but was sure he sensed it. The restaurant despite being on one of the busiest streets was particularly deserted, except for two tables. He wondered why despite all that space in the restaurant she would choose to occupy the farthest and least visible corner of the room. He guessed she’d have been a regular and therefore had her space marked out for the sake of comfort and convenience. He cleared his mind of these banal observations and followed the waiter. The waiter pointed to his table and left immediately. He located the corner and saw that that the table had been laid out for two, but he could see no one. Joshua was a little taken aback. He turned around to the waiter to ask if she was still expected or if she had excused herself to the loo, but to his surprise as he turned, the waiter had disappeared and there was no one in sight. Not bothering to walk the entire length to the reception he turned back to make way to his table, she was there now, basking in some strange sort of spotlight that encapsulated her petite frame. Her body spoke of a languor that comes with sitting in a place for a long time. She looked up and smiled and extended her hand for a handshake. Joshua pleased to have finally met his guest forgot about the intangible sequence of events and shook hands with her as cordially as he could. But as soon as he shook her hand there was a shudder that ran down his spine, but suspecting the air conditioning for the chills he ignored and made his way to take a seat next to her.
The food was ordered and they began to chat. It all seemed alright to Joshua, only his deepest and most poignant instincts told him that despite everything seemed to be normal and ordinary there was some external force, unknown, unseen, unfathomable, that was giving him creeps in the guts of his stomach. The food came, they finished eating, but the conversation continued. Joshua felt that Sophia’s face went pale very obviously more than once during their conversation for no particular reason, and she was oblivious to these external physical changes to which he was the only observer sitting right across her table. Finally he gave to reason and thought that it could be resulting from her white silhouette. She looked good in white but he wondered why she would wear all white to a lunch, for some reason it seemed a little out of place and unconventional. Suddenly she picked up the butter knife and began playing with without any cause or reason. Then she started rubbing it around her hands as if trying to check for its sharpness. The reflection of light coming from the knife blinded Joshua in the eye, for a moment he thought that this was not a restaurant, nor the woman sitting across her was the Sophia he had lunched with. It was as if he was teleported to some other world altogether. There was darkness all around, as he tried to grope into the darkness he realised that some weird stink pierced through his nostrils, it was too pungent and he had never smelled anything like that ever in his life. As he regained his sight all he could make of the space around him was the rudiments of an old deserted attic with butcher knives neatly placed on a table right in front of him. And there she was Sophia, in her all white dress, her long tresses curling down her waist and she was turned to the fireplace, as he neared closer to her, she was still playing with the butter knife, only now she was polishing it over a knife sharpener and trying to shape up the blunt butter knife.
Joshua didn’t understand what was happening, where he was, where the restaurant had disappeared or if all of this even real or just a figment of his fertile imagination. He couldn’t make sense of anything. He finally went up to her and placed her hand on her shoulder so that he could turn her around and confront her with all the strange happenings. As soon as he turned her...her eyes shone like diamonds piercing his own, and he could feel another flash blinding his eyes. The next moment he began to hear his name in a dull repetitive chant, sounding like one of those ominous pre-sacrificial humming and chanting. Joshua felt a tingling feeling racing down the length of his spine and found himself trickling of sweat and fear that not only chilled his spine but ran through the entire length of his body having its source in the pit of his stomach. Then he felt as if he was being anointed before being sacrificed to some supernatural deity, the chanting too grew louder, only now it was not similar to the initial humming and chanting, but was broken un-simulated and anxious. Sophia approached him, with the sharpened butter knife and began tapping it on his cheeks. Joshua let out a blood curdling scream of fear and shut his eyes out of fear. When he opened them again after the shock had subsided he found that he was lying on the floor of the restaurant was wriggling in uncontrollable concussions and was sweating profusely, the cold hands that he felt on his face were that of Sophia trying to wake him up. He looked around, the attic had changed back to the restaurant. The waiter who had showed him his table was standing over his head with a glass of water. They all told him how he had suddenly passed out without any cause and that they were extremely worried about him, that he had been shaking wildly, was mumbling his own name in some sort of half sleep. Joshua took hold of himself, got up, and excused himself to the washroom. There he washed his face, wiped it clean, came out, asked for the check and offered to drop Sophia.
During their drive to her house, they didn’t exchange a word. He was uncomfortable with the idea of being in such proximity to her but thought it was only decent to drop her home after the fiasco at the restaurant. He asked her if she was embarrassed considering she visited there often, to which she said she had never been there before today. As he drove closer to her house he sensed the same chill, but he ignored it thinking of it as an aftershock of his convulsion at the restaurant. The roads were deserted, covered with long pine trees on both sides. She asked him to stop at the solitary bungalow that was at the end of the road. He looked at the house, it seemed old and deserted, he saw the name plate, it was tattered and carried number 13 on the name plate with no name underneath. Then he noticed a light on the top floor that must have been the attic, it seemed like a light coming from a fire in the fireplace. He mentioned it to her and she appeared quite un-alarmed about it. She thanked him for the ride, he turned his car around and looked out the window in order to wave a final bye, he saw her turn about and again saw her eyes shining like two solitaire diamonds. Again a chilling fear gripped him and he raced his car back home.
When he reached home, he slumped back on his recliner trying to make sense of the happenings of the day. All of the parts that were supposedly in his dreams had felt so real and he had experienced the same fear, the same chill when he was dropping Sophia as when she had drawn closer to him with the sharpened knife. He shrugged off the spooky thoughts and got up to check the calendar to check for something, suddenly he noticed that today was Friday the 13th and that it was circled in red, and underneath, it was written, a date with your fears!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Gilded or the Sordid, never the valid

Just like that was supposed to be what it reads, and I was supposed to be honest and diligent to it. I apologise, mostly to myself for not committing to my own voice. The opinions had to be unapologetic free flowing and casual, and given the kind of blabbering I can manage in a day and with a troubling mind that would cease to work itself out and even in the subconscious find expression in countless dreams everyday, coming up with an article of my and other’s interest wasn’t quite such a task. In fact like in all other things of creativity (in which I involve myself in a  non committal mediocre fashion) writing was suppose to flow affluently from a person who claims a degree in English and would soon be pursuing masters. Its amusing when my friends believe I ought to be a writer because I am doing English major, only a fool otherwise would invest in a stream that is one with lesser economic returns and is pursued solely as interest (they must read my blogs to revise their opinions). I am often told I am lucky for pursuing what I am. Now this really puzzles me, is this appreciation for someone who has responded to her seemingly true calling and has taken the resolute decision of taking it up and being diligent with it, or otherwise its a well guarded and well garbed scathing taunt, telling me you there have been complacent (and also apparently less smart) enough to pursue an education that is likely to fetch lesser returns in a world driven by the rat race of money making where a person is asked what s/he does followed by the uncouth ritual that impeaches decency to ask of your package next. This still can be explained, I am pursuing what I am passionate about ( passionate is a handy word for engaging in a profession you enjoy doing, and are relatively more driven towards, because honestly even the most exciting jobs can give you a bore like the blog was fun and not burden, but whom am I kidding).
Yes it is my passion to read, and while it may be yours too, I am slightly more inclined and bolder to give my choice a chance. Now this article may seem as justifying my choice for a course that I chose out of will (well also because I was hopeless at maths, and science wasn’t quite my drill) nonetheless, I just wanted to register the kinds of responses that I get for pursuing it, which are of a range that stretches from hilarious and ridiculous to strange and a few times disgusting. Being an English graduate I am supposed to be an excellent editor, as also I am supposed to be good with writing formal letters, the inability of which, at home, is frowned upon. I am either told that my language is too direct or else it has too much literary ornamentation, I can’t seem to strike the right chord. Yes, i can’t I am sorry I was not taught to write official letters in my literature class. The next attack is launched when I sometimes can’t get the accents of some foreign actor/singer correct. I am immediately given a disconcerting look as if menacingly taunting, “you call yourself an English enthusiast, really? You presumptuous smug, check ya’self”. Yes I did, while you were straining every iota of your grey matter to catch each line of the movie, I was wondering if there were any accented men or women, children or aliens that I grew up with to be flawlessly accustomed to foreign accents, the answer was no, wait a second, aren’t you more of Macaulay’s lost progeny than me?
I am as much a cast out as an overly thinking person as someone who doesn’t at all. Since I am a book reading individual, I am immediately slotted as a type, geek, bookish, introvert, and even insidious (because I think too much!). What I say has to be perpetually far fetched, over the fence, and a flashing of my classroom theories. The world is my oyster and my lab and I am only allowed to play with my ideas as long as I don’t subscribe to them, because that would be threatening, wouldn’t it? Well I am quite an example for the nomenclaturing gurus. I fulfil all their said traits, and a few others I know do too. But I know enough who would prove as lively (pun) examples for their skewed theories as petty prejudices. When I argue, I am always already too implicated in theory, very opinionated and therefore either snubbed or disinterestedly given into. Yes, I am all of the above and sometimes wrong too, but aren’t you too sometimes? Why phrase me when you do the same. Yes I am a slave of words, for it is language that drives all our interactions, and in a world which before hearing me castigates me as imbecile the farce of intelligibility has to be employed to say the simplest of things that don’t go through thick skins who are accustomed to fancy gargoyles that are empty of integrity.
And there are some others yet, who accept me, despite all the apparent misgivings about me being a spoilt brat who by virtue of her field of interest is by default implicated in a life of social, cultural and religious transgressions, in the name of the field being a feasible career option. I am told that it would be easier for me to cook, bear children and look after them if I took an easier job that comes with this field. It is here alone that I am ranked higher than women of other professions who have equal or even more grit than me to follow their passions, that I would be a better vassal to my family and my children. I am even advised to take professorship because they see me as a bright individual and a sharp intellectual or they have any faith in my communication skills but only because it would make my life easier than women who are more ambitious. My virtue therefore is my ostensible lack of ambition. Yeah that’s quite flattering! It is not what I should do because I am perceived to be good at it, but because while at it I might get the chance and time to be better at other things I wobble with right now. However, when the professor argues at home, she’d be asked to shut her books, her dream land and engage with reality (the house hasn’t been dusted, woman, whose got time for your feminist rant)
Who knows, I might make something of my life, even teach if things fall in place and I am able to remain focussed. But it would not be because its an easier option, not because I want to set people’s perspectives right, or else commercially justify the viability of literature, but it would be for who I am, what I believed in all these years and what I’d like to see myself doing as I grow older. I may sit at home and very well do what most homemakers do, but that wouldn’t stop me from asserting myself and speaking out, from reading, from understanding lives, from dreaming.