The ashtray was overflowing with cigarettes stubs. Some burned, some crushed and scattered like the half burned hands and limbs of the unclaimed body pile in Municipality Incineration ground. The thought always gravely disturbed me.
The evening crowd started to pour in at Coffee House. The day has lashed at them, but yet again they have survived and as if to celebrate another victory of survival they gathered over a cup of coffee. The college students of Presidency were laughing hysterically at one corner huddled in their group and the grey haired bureaucrats mused over politics and diabetes. The waiters visibly tired and disinterested over the meagre tips were moving like zombies in the labyrinth of the tables and misplaced chairs. And in midst of all these the big portrait of Rabindranath stood silently and stared right through us to an unknown distant.
In the left corner I sat on my 4 foot by 4 foot table decorated with a glass of water and my lonely ashtray. By now the cigarette smoke was slowly engulfing the high ceilings and burning nicotine slowly numbed my senses that I could no longer smell the fresh winter breeze outside. It always feels good to be invisible in the crowd, to see life from a distance, to see happiness from a distance so that you can’t touch it and ruin the moment. Maybe this is what life is supposed to mean, a cup of coffee in a winter evening and an occasional cigarette. Maybe there is no higher meaning. No higher thought. Maybe even no god. It’s just us alone in a lonely planet, a mistake, a miracle.
What if there is no heaven? No one waiting at the pearly gates. If everything is just a myth. The fountains of youth, the happiness, and the virgins. What if there are no 72 virgins awaiting us but it’s just an endless void.
I shuddered at the thought. Commander-Sir has told me again and again that god tests his chosen disciple with impure thoughts and one should not give in to such feelings. How could I lose my self control so easily? It has to be done for the greater good. I took my handkerchief and slowly slid it inside the plaster casing over my belly to wipe of the accumulated sweat.
They said it was a safe explosive, but it still isn’t a comforting thought to sit strapped with half a kilo of strapped C4 RDX explosive. I mentally repeated the instructions, clip the electrodes, punch in inside the C4 and for the last 2 minutes pray to Holy God, because I am lucky enough to be the chosen one, but am I?
"May I join you if you don’t mind?" She interrupted
"Ye..Yeas...Yes Sure", I said spontaneously as if out of control. Last thing I needed was someone sitting close to me and getting suspicious.
She was not beautiful, but she was comforting. She has a calmness inside her that always makes you feel good.
"So you are an activist?"
"What gave me away?" She said with a fake amusement.
"The book on History of Communism to begin with. But isn’t it a sinking ship. It’s a lost cause I presume"
She smirked, the kind a mother smile when her kid asks her the most innocent question in a serious manner.
"Bapi Da, 1 coffee and 1 sandwich. Should I order something for you too?"
I stared amused at the waiter who till now so conveniently ignored me and suddenly revived his interest in his job.
"No, I am already late. I should have left early" I said to her but more to myself.
"Do you know in Rome, gladiators used to fight animals? Yes, its brave and few did manage to kill the beasts. But most died a pathetic death", she said staring right through me with those fiery kajal lined eyes.
"Not that I approve of it, but yes I have heard about such stuff. But weren’t they forced to fight"
"Yes they were. But my point is, faced by impossible odds for being torn apart by beasts, won’t you just gift yourself with a peaceful death of suicide.Isnt it more logical?"
I smiled at the trap of words I walked into, “Yes, I guess so"
"Yes communism is a sinking ship. But if the other option is to drown in the waters of this so called democracy. I will take chances with mending holes in my ship."
"But what’s in it for you. What will you achieve?" I said a bit arrogantly.
"Tell me what you achieve by a cup of coffee and a handful of cigarettes. They are certainly not to satiate your hunger is it?"
"No but it at least gives me pleasure, which I feel is important"
"Exactly, pleasure. Pleasure is only thing apart from need that forces us to do things. Maybe I need a good job or a nice salary. But I don’t find pleasure in something I don’t believe in. You believe in your cup of coffee and I believe in equality or call it communism maybe even naxalism"
"Do you know I am a Muslim", I said as if to dare her. I always found it amusing to see how people reacted when I said my name. In their fake mask of secularism, they always squirmed a bit, their voice turned softer, and a bit more cordial, with a hint of pity.
"No I did not know that, nor could have guessed.
But if you think that your religion defines you, then I am glad to know you are Muslim"
"No, my religion does not. But what does is the fact that I grew up in a slum listening fairy tale stories of the lost riches before partition. What defines me is the fact that I am tired of feeling scared of any person staring at me. What defines me is how you people unashamed take the liberty to judge me." The words flowed out of me, as if escaping a life sentence inside my mind.
She still retained the smirk, the smile, which now felt like a mockery, mockery of my exposed emotions.
"But are you not changing that definition. I think you are scared of revolution, scared of struggle isn’t it. So I guess you are even scared of changing that definition."
"I am not scared of changing it. I am just scared, if I am following the right way to change it. I am scared that maybe in process of changing my definition, I will lose touch with my goal."
"But the path is not important. What important is the end, or at least hope of the end. Do you know what the difference between hopes and dreams is? Dream is a romanticism of future, but hope is need of future. Have you lost hope?"
A thin array of wrinkles of worry appeared on her forehead like a rippled sand on river shore. A harmony in noise.
"No, certainly not. But I have lost trust. Trust in humanity. I have lost trust in right and wrong. I don’t even trust judgement. Does that make me inhuman?"
"Yes, I guess that does. But humanity is always being a myth to hide our selfish self. We are scared of chaos inside us. Hence the veil of sanity", she said in a sad melancholic way, as if reflecting some forgotten past.
Then as if suddenly realising the flimsiness of the surroundings she smiled and started picking up her bag.
"Care to join me to the Metro Station? You seem quite lonely and a little bit sad. I guess it’s the peeling paints on the walls of Coffee House"
I smiled as if hide my emotions.
"Yes this walls are old, even the fans needs some rest. They do look tired, don’t they? Nah!! You carry on. Maybe I should start changing the system with some renovations out here" I smiled a satisfied smile first time in ages.
Bapi da came running as she put the money in his pocket. The extra tip was visible excess and the smile of Bapi da told why madam got better treatment.
"Hey, you haven’t told your name?" she shouted over the hum and bustle of crowd near the door.
"Neither have you, but I guess that is not important" I retorted.
"Hey! By the way, you know we are not much different, we both hate the system to such an extent that we believe, whatever is on the other side of this life, is at least better than what we have now!" I shouted with a rising excitement
She smiled her first genuine smile and walked down the stairs.
The evening breeze has turned chilly and I had forgotten my sweater.
She did not know how long she lay on the sidewalk. It was like a sudden gust of hot wind, a desert storm in winter night that swept her off her feet. The distinct screech in her ears deafened her from all the scream and chaos, giving her much needed moment of peace.
She closed her eyes to rest as the peeling walls of Coffee House burned in a cold silent night and hands and limbs were strewn across like an overturned ashtray full of cigarette stubs. The irony.
"When It's Time To Live And Let Die
And You Can't Get Another Try
Something Inside This Heart Has Died
You're In Ruins"
-21 Guns, Greenday
P.S: 1 Post in 2 months is pathetic, and yes i know it. But when life itself is pathetic cant exactly blame my blog. I hate the word writers block...coz i m not even a writer enough to have a block...but sometime its a comforting excuse..isnt it?
I myself think conversations could have been a bit more deeper...but I refrain from editing it, coz apart from being just a fiction, it has bit of my personal views as well.... As always let me know ur honest opinions....but that doesnt means u will be outright brutal :P
I am not stereotyping anyone here and if anyone finds this post offensive in any manner do let me know...i will amend...just dont kill me without giving me a chance to explain myself :|