Smoky Chimneys

The monochromatic room
Speaks in a whispered volume
Through the window by the bed
I look outside at the pouring rain
Holding a cigarette.
Hazy smoke fills the air
Blurring the 70-square foot room
I close my eyes
Listen to the sound of the pouring rain
Holding a cigarette.

In some kind of a dreamy state
Feeling some kind of euphoric sense of freedom
Smoke rises from the chimneys of old roofs
The world has turned grey
From the streets and the skies to the walls of the room
Like the falling ash
Like this metallic chair
On which I sit in my white underwear
Taking in a deep drag
Feeling the sharpness of the smoke
Buzzing through my mind
Through my bare naked feet
It feels right
I wonder why?
Why does everything bad have to feel so good?
The heaviness
The carelessness
The messy sheets
The art on the walls –
The only thing worth holding on to.
This greyness in the air
Is like a song that plays
In some corner of the mind
This greyness in the air
Brings out the freak inside
Looking up at the sky
With one foot on the chair
and one hand resting on the knee
Holding on to this burning desire
A grey wisp of smoke curls in the air.

Holding on to all that’s present in this
Dull artistic greyness
Writing away all that I want
All that I feel,
Old memories come back to life.
Where has that girl gone?
Disappeared like thin air
Into the mist
Reckless and bold,
Sassy and cold.
Hidden somewhere deep inside
Safe in a grey corner of my mind.

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Cafe and Rain

Every time it rains, I go to a cafe.
It’s a blessed land.
It creates an ambience of love.
The comforting homey aroma of warm baked food welcomes you.
The soothing, mellow background music makes you settle in.
The large glass windows are so inviting,
You can while away time dreamily looking outside,
Watching the raindrops and the empty black wet streets.
The warm yellow lights of the cafe elevate the romance in the air.
The rustic wooden interiors bring back that old world charm.
Oh and the mesmerizing, divine scent of coffee,
How it draws on my soul!
That tempting, sinful indulgence.
There’s something about the smell of coffee, I tell you.
That strong attraction!
This is where all the yoga sessions come into play.
Deep deep inhalations and a long sigh of satisfaction.
Somehow wrong but feels so right, perhaps like an extra marital affair.
As I call myself a chai lover.
But, who can deny the combination of butter croissants and coffee.
It’s a match made in heaven, don’t you think?

Now, the best part about cafes is,
Somehow nobody bothers you.
No one gives a second glance.
When you are being all dreamy and pensive by yourself.
It’s like.. they understand that feeling.
Especially these cute lil neighbourhood coffee shops.
Totally love their relaxed vibe.
Everyone is lost in their fancy world of imagination.
You can just sit alone with food and coffee.
Writing down notes on a piece of paper,
Borrowing a pencil or a pen from the attendants.
Or, you will often find someone sitting in a corner reading a book.
Or, somebody with headphones crouched on their laptop.
Or, a couple –
Sitting cozily on a couch
Lost in each other’s eyes.
Or, you will find a group of friends,
Sharing stories excitedly and giggling.
Or, you see a tired soul,
Just stopping by to relax the bones.
Whatever be the reason,
Coffee shops don’t really care who you are.
They just let you be.
Content.

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Candle Girl

It was a silent dark night, the windows flew open and the candle flame quivered – an unexpected storm.

The grumpy old man had fallen asleep by the fireplace while reading a book and was disturbed by the storming wind. The wooden floor creaked in pain when he got up from his rocking chair. The dog lying beside his feet jolted up and whined in fear. The old man barked at him and asked the dog to shut up.

A bolt of lightning struck close followed by a loud thunderous, crackling sound. The dog howled and scampered around the house.

The power went off.

The old man cursed continually under his breath and began to walk slowly towards the kitchen to look for candles.

Suddenly there was a knock on the door.
“Who now?”, he thought.

It took him a good amount of time to reach the door. He opened it and saw a little girl with two braid plaits smiling at him.

“Who are you?”, croaked the old man.
The girl replied, “I live down the road. We moved-in yesterday. I.. uh, we need candles. Can I please borrow a few candles? One will also do.”
“You are soaked to the skin, girl! Come in.” said the old man and started walking, “There’s a dog inside, don’t get frightened. He will bark but he is a fool, never bites.”

The girl followed him, “Thank you sir, you are very kind. I am not scared of dogs, you see I have grown up playing with two massive hounds at my grandma’s place. Do you live alone? Where are your children? Why don’t you sit, it seems like you are finding it difficult to walk. I can help you light the candles. Point me to where they are and I will get them.”

“Chatty little prick, I am not kind. The candles are somewhere in the kitchen, go find them. Take one for yourself, light one for me and leave!”, said the old man and went back to his chair.
“Yes sir, I will be quick. Is there anything the matter with your back?”, asked the girl with a worried look.
“I slipped in my backyard and landed on my back. I was taken to the hospital for a surgery, those damned doctors placed two metal plates in my spine.” said the old man with great effort.
“Oh I am sorry to hear that, can I be of any help? My mother’s making vegetable broth I can quickly fetch some for you. Specially in this weather sir, I am sure the hot broth and some toasted slices of baguette will do you good.”, she said hopefully.
“Like I said earlier, there is no need for you to get pally with me. Take the candles and leave, girl”, he said dismissively.

The girl found the candles in a wooden box beside a pair of oven mitts. While in the kitchen she noticed its messy state, “Clearly he is finding it difficult to do things by himself, silly ol’ grandpa!

She lit a candle and placed it on a table next to him. While the rest of the house was still in darkness, she sneaked out quietly, leaving the door slightly open and ran out.

The girl returned in a few minutes and noticed that the old man had fallen asleep. She placed the hot food on the dining table and lit another candle next to the food. She also left behind a huge basket in the kitchen filled with bread, butter, strawberry jam, and some fruits.

A few days had passed. The old man woke up early in the morning and decided to go on a walk to look for the girl. He had recovered and was neither grumpy or hungry anymore. He searched long and hard but there was no sign of the girl. He asked the neighbours and nearby stores but none had heard or seen a little girl with two braid plaits around. He went back home feeling disheartened.

One night, there was an unexpected storm again, rain pelted on the roof, windows rattled, winds howled, lightning flashed and crackled in the sky. The dog whimpered and hid underneath the old man’s chair. The power went off and he heard a soft knock on the door again.

Photo by Skylar Kang on Pexels.com

Mind the Mud

I woke up to a loud emergency alert on my phone warning me about strong winds and flooding. It has been drizzling all day long since a few days. The weather report states a hurricane is expected to strike Central America. I sigh and get out of bed. The gloomy weather has made me lazy and dull. I drink a banana smoothie and decide to head out for a walk since all I have been doing is lying on the couch and whiling away time doing unimportant things, such as work. So, I decide to start my day by being a little more active even though it’s wet and cold outside.

I grab my rain jacket, plug in my earphones, and step out. I get engrossed in an episode of Radiolab about Time on Spotify and take several rounds around the park in the neighborhood. After an hour long walk, I grab a coffee and a sandwich from a nearby cafe and walk back home. On reaching the entrance to my place, I notice strange, muddy footprints near my front door.

The footprints do not look like shoe prints or animal footprints, they look different. Strange! I get worried and quickly check if I had left my door unlocked. Thankfully the door is locked, but I still do a quick check to see if there is anyone inside. I check the living area, under the couch for any animal, patio, bedrooms, bathrooms, under the kitchen sink, and find nothing.

The strange part is not about seeing the muddy footprints, it is about the unfamiliarity of the footprints and how they abruptly end near my front door.

These footprints kept appearing repeatedly outside my door for the next few days, which I found rather unusual and upsetting. I put in more effort and looked further to find out where the steps start and why they always ended near my door. My futile attempts only led me towards puddles near the entrance of the apartment with no other clue. After wasting a good amount of time, I would groan angrily and go back to doing my daily tasks.

It is Halloween today, my friend from work, invites me over to a costume party at her place. I wear a simple grey dress which has a furry tail and a hood with ears. It is a werewolf costume but it makes me look more like a cat. After a long night of chatting and drinks, I sober up and drive back to my place by 2 AM in the morning. Tiredly and sleepily, I hunt for the house keys inside my handbag without noticing that there is something near my feet. I realise this and pause for a second before looking down. I let out the loudest shrill scream upon seeing a wolf in front of my door.

Immediately, the lights in the neighbour’s house turn on and an old woman grumpily opens the door. She looks at my deeply shocked face, the animal, and starts laughing.

She starts apologizing for not informing me about her new pet, “I am so sorry dear, meet Hemlie!”, she says.

She pets the animal and continues speaking,

“My grand daughter wanted a husky before Halloween so she could dress him up as a werewolf and take him along for trick-and-treating. On her way back with her friends, she lost Hemlie and came home crying. She fell asleep an hour ago after crying all night long. Poor girl and look here he is, I guess he found his way back home. Smart one, this boy!”, she bends down to pat his head and grabs Hemlie’s collar.

“He must have scared you.”, she looks up at me and smiles in the dim light of the corridor.

I smile at her confusedly and look at the dog’s feet and see him wearing a weird pair of oversized boots. I tell my neighbour about the strange muddy footprints that I have noticed near my door.

For a while she looks confused but then immediately looks at me apologetically, “Oh dear, I had no idea about this. My grand daughter has been taking him out in those shoes and must have made Hemlie clean them up on your door mat before entering our home, because you know I am a stickler for cleanliness!”, she says sheepishly.

I crawl into the bed feeling relieved that the strange mystery of the muddy footprints is solved and also silly for worrying too much about little things.

Her Heels

The past few days have been dark and cloudy. So to lift my spirits, I dress up and slip on my new heels.

I book a cab and decide to reach work early. The pleasant breeze on my face from the open windows of the cab makes me chirpier.

Feeling happy and with my head up towards the skies, I step out of the cab and to my horror notice that my heels are stuck deep in wet muck.

*A loud shrill scream*

The driver looks at me and says, “Yikes, that’s disgusting madam!”

The Storm Broke

It was a pitch-dark starless night.

Rain pattered furiously on the streets,

The wind repeatedly rattled on my window screens.

I sat silently on the corner of the bed

With the sheets pulled close to my chest.

A tremendous flash of lightning

Cracked the sky in two,

Followed by a sharp thunderous boom

Sending shivers down my spine.

But, I listened to the violence of the storm all the while.

Frightened yet curiously amazed by the magnanimous power of the skies. 

Tea in Rain

A distant rumbling thunder.

There it comes,

Pitter-pattering rain and with it rises the fresh earthy scent of mud in the air.

Avni goes running out of her mud and straw hut with the pullu of her sari over her head, its tip clenched tightly between her teeth to prevent the pallu from falling.

She hurriedly grabs the washed clothes hanging on the fenced railing and runs back inside the hut.

After a while, white smoke rises from her hut.

Every time it rains, Avni brews tea.

She sits quietly and watches the foamy brown liquid come to a rapid boil.

After a minute, she removes the chai from the fire, pours it over a strainer and into two large mud cups.

She covers the cups with a lid, goes out running again and enters the hut opposite to hers.

Eighty-year old Ajjamma lives here and Avni is very fond of her.

The view from the other side of Ajjamma’s hut is beautiful. It overlooks a large pond with fields of corn surrounding it.

Every time it rains, Avni and Ajjamma sit by the doorstep of the hut in silence and drink chai. 

They watch raindrops splashing and creating bubbles of air in the pond, they watch the field of crops sway gently with the wind and they like the mist softly touching their skin. 

This is happiness to them, in each other’s company and their hot cup of tea.