The Random Experiment

He lives in an old-fashioned house that aged accordingly. The spacious, rustic setting inside was saturated with a haze of chrome. Everything had a jaundiced facade, like a pencil drawing from a decaying book. Ever since the experiment began, he had sold most of his amenities.

There was a point in time when he was obsessed with paintings. He was a connoisseur of sorts and he’d amassed an impressive collection during his short lifetime. But sickness put his materialism in perspective, a turn in tide that washed ashore revulsion. The experiment’s ambiguity about his place in the treatment group or the control made him re-evaluate his life choices.

And he was forever transformed after that. He turned calm and mellow, like an austere monk who’s shunned worldly pleasures. The slightest displays of emotion make him putty. Just the other day, he found himself welling up to an old memory of his mother.

She held his sister on one arm and himself on the other. He was five and his sister two. He remembered looking at his mother. She was struggling to keep from falling, but she was laughing heartily. Smiling at her two gems. She was so proud.

His sister was giggling away the whole time. She still dons that smile whenever she sees him. A warmth radiates as her lips curve. It’s a contagious smile. A heart-warming smile. A virgin smile.

The only other woman who could evoke such emotion was his high-school sweetheart. Tall, blonde, and beautiful, he fell for Diane in an instant. Despite knowing she wasn’t single, he had persevered to chase his dream. Diane would be lying if she said she had felt any different. But she had decided to stay put, for she wasn’t a dreamer like him.

Well years later, here she is, barely rebounded from an ugly marriage. She now stays close to help him. And sometimes, she stays over. Her shattered life was beyond repair, a price she paid for choosing the nightmare over the dream. She needed him, as much as he needed her.

Their conversations were succinct. Preoccupied in their emotional traumas, they had hardly anything to say. They’d established a daily routine that left little need for it. Anyone watching their silhouettes on the window, as they sit in his study and ponder over the past, would mistake them for mannequins.

He never told her that he couldn’t love anyone else as much as he had loved her. It’s fascinating how little that feeling remains, despite being so profound once. His departure from the feeling was progressive, although slow.

But lately, his sense of morbidity accelerated its pace. He was growing increasingly distant from his past but not his memories. He’d find himself reminiscing but not longing. A life in technicolor reduced to monochrome.

He was uncertain if he should consider the ensuing years as his last or as the precursor to a new beginning. He missed the magic that once graced his life. He wondered where it went. So he set out to find the spark. The spark to a new flame. Seems like his outlook broadened, as his lifespan narrowed.

She, on the other hand, never told him that she’d seen his test results. That she secretly pitied him for being a ‘control’. That she felt torn apart between hope and truth.


The Dilemma

He was pacing around the terrace like a madman. Grave indecision had taken him over and he was running out of time. Festive spirit was in the air and he found it invigorating. Fireworks exploded in the night sky, causing commotion all around.

The atmosphere was analogous to his turmoil. For a minute he was excited and for the next, he was tensed. He was happy he’d meet her but was afraid he’d intrude. He knew this was an opportunity but he also wished he didn’t have it.

It was all very new to him. In fact, to them both. Neither knew how to handle it, so they tried to play it cool. This foolish charade kept him wondering if she didn’t want to invite him or if she was hesitant as well.

She did give him subtle hints but it only seemed like she was kidding around. He never received an official invite and he was struggling to come to terms with it. But after pacing for about a mile, he finally decided to take the matter into his own hands. To show her its okay. To take the leap forward. To finally break the ice.

He marched towards her house, pretending to be cool to mask his tension. And when he got there, after what seemed like an eternity, he saw her in a new light, literally. Her face, basking in the glow of fireworks, seemed to have a soft golden radiance. It was a sight he wouldn’t forget and it’s still etched on his heart.

There wasn’t any tension. There was only anxiety, the good kind.

And maybe he would’ve felt better had he known she felt the same.

The Silent Retreat

His last day at the university wasn’t any special. With bags packed, chores done and goodbyes told, Professor Wilkins was ready to go. After 50 exhausting years, his physical energy and his love for teaching could no longer work in tandem. Which one waned more with time? He couldn’t tell. 
He’d spent so many years at the university that he’d forgotten what life outside was like. He’d ensconced himself within the campus walls which many joked was his cocoon. He always considered it his second home, not only because of the time he spent there, but also because it felt just as deserted as his first.
He’d been a loner all his life which he insisted was by choice. He’d never been married, hence no family to go home to. The other professors couldn’t care for someone who wouldn’t keep-up with the “trend”, and for that reason he was eccentric. 
Few knew of his turmoil as societal pressure pestered his personal tenets. He forever failed to resolve the tension and always failed to adjust. A perpetual battle raged within him as he tried to suppress his conscience. When around his peers, he felt just as uncomfortable as they did. It was easier for him to evade battle than lose the war. So loner by choice he was. 
But he did have one friend to talk to; Samuel Hensberg. He was his lone companion at the university, and for that matter, his world. He felt compassion for the old man, but was wise enough not to show. He pitied his state but respected his resilience. He recognized that he was unique, but not eccentric. 
Wilkins was tired and would’ve liked nothing better than to leave. He preferred a peaceful goodbye; some time alone to feel one with his second home. His wish was granted, rather unsurprisingly. He stepped out, faced the entrance of the university and closed his eyes to reminisce. 
He wasn’t unhappy and was grateful for everything. He’d never made any breakthroughs, but he was content with his research and was glad to have passed knowledge across generations. It irked him a little that nobody had come to personally acknowledge his retirement. “I deserved better. Was it my fault?”
Although, he didn’t really blame himself.  He never did. But failure of his varied efforts to “fit-in” forced him to rethink and everytime he reached the same conclusion: it was a matter of incompatible attitudes. Nevertheless, he’d decided to finally let go. 
He put an end to the conflicting mental arguments. Hopes of a peaceful future helped assuage the woes of yesteryear. The only thing left now is an occasional pang of sadness. A lonely retirement qestioned his life-long profession and passion. “I made no difference? I inspired no one? Will my absence be felt?”.
This was a disapointment he wouldn’t be able to shake off, but he believed in himself. He reached his parking spot and found a note clipped under the windshield wiper. He picked it up with curiosity. And read.
“You mattered. Thank you!”

He looked around but found no one. The note had spared him years of guilt and he was eternally grateful for it. Hensberg was watching from afar and was happy to see him go with a smile. He didn’t know if Wilkins had recognized his script. What he did know was he didn’t have to. 

An Impulsive Being

All eyes were on him. On his scraggly beard, worn-out shorts and skinny legs, as he rambled casually in the neighborhood. Max had never been an embodiment of good looks, but he did occasionally appreciate tidiness.

He had recently adopted a free-spirited lifestyle that he asserted would liberate his soul. Albeit, the people around him felt otherwise. An orthodox lady at the stationery, held her son’s hand as soon as she saw Max coming. “I will not see him grow into a mess”.

He wanted to take it a step further by acting like he was on drugs. He was tempted to freak her out, but seeing that she was already gaping wide, decided he didn’t have to try. He gave her a cordial smile before leaving, and she returned an evanescent one.

Heads turned while he took a stroll, but all for the wrong reasons. It wasn’t unprecedented and that made him smirk. He condescended the head-turners as he considered himself morally superior. More mature.

He willed himself to surpass man-made moral boundaries and sharpen his sense of intuition. He wanted to read. Learn. Love. And shut everything else out. He ensconced himself in an unkempt lifestyle that complemented his protean behavior.

He had everything to prove and nothing to lose. He had everyone to judge but none to impress. He had time for skill but none to kill. He couldn’t care less for mundane activities but he was always game for something crazy.

He got dumb hair-cuts, grew curly hair, wore shorts wherever he went, and ate whatever he wanted whenever he wanted. That was pretty much his life right now. Impulsive.

How lucky they must be!

An ebullient young couple,
Strolling down the street,
Holding hands tightly,
And smiling while they speak.

A blue Cadillac passes them,
In which a “star couple” they could see,
The couple coveted the lavish stars,
“How lucky they must be”

The stars in the Cadillac,
Notice the couple on the street,
Who are holding hands tightly,
And smiling while they speak.

The liberty to roam the streets,
So unbridled and free,
How unrestricted their life is,
“How lucky they must be”



Hope for Convalescence

Candace woke up early and sat upright. She never was a morning person, but as the due date came closer, she couldn’t help insomnia. Today was ‘The Day’, but she didn’t feel ready for it. “Nobody ever does“, the doctor had told her and after deep thought, she had acquiesced to his suggestion of getting the operation done.


It would’ve been a usual Tuesday for anybody else, but it seemed extra gloomy to Candace. Lately, her pensive demeanor had been apparent to anyone who had cared to notice. From people around her, sympathy was plenty but empathy was scarce. Having been a loner all her life, Candace didn’t feel the need to have someone to share her melancholy with, but having a shoulder to cry on, once in a while, would’ve been nice. Her pet dog ‘Chase’, with its heart-melting eyes, and intoned whimpers and whines, provided her with occasional solace.


Her appointment was due 3 hours from now, but she decided to get out of the house early and get some fresh air. After a quick shower, she took a look at herself in the mirror. Her neatly shaven head accentuated her once plump face which was now gaunt from all the chemotherapy. Dark circles draped her eyes but she still, somehow, managed to look good. She was quite the show-stopper back when she was in high school, but all that seemed superficial now.


She stepped out of the house in an attire that was dull and insipid on a day which was bright and vibrant. A prickling sense of inequity impinged on her but by now she had learned to parry it. In a meek attempt to take the most circuitous route to the hospital, she decided to walk across the park and then take a bus.


She entered the park and found it scarcely populated. “Perfect!”, she mused for it was in perfect harmony with her mood. She chose to sit on an empty park bench overlooking the pool. This way she wouldn’t have to face the happy strangers who gave her hapless looks as they passed by. She didn’t need their sympathy. She didn’t need another reminder of her life. She didn’t need their ephemeral concern. She was fine by herself.


When she finally finished wallowing in contemplation, she realized that a little girl had come to sit beside her a while ago. She was probably only 5 years old and had her hair tied in adorable pigtails. She was completely immersed in relishing a cone of strawberry ice-cream, smiling after every lick, and swaying her legs in excitement. Now it took her a while to notice that Candace was watching her. And then instinctively, with her outstretched elfin arms, she offered Candace what little was left of her strawberry ice-cream. And as she giggled, a mischievous pleasure was radiant in her eyes and she wanted Candace too to experience it.


The innocence and naivety of the little girl bemused Candace and eventually suffused with a heartwarming feeling. She refused politely and patted her on the head tenderly as she watched her finish the cone. The little girl’s cheeks were now flushed pink from all the ice-cream she had smeared on her face. She gave a satiated giggle after completion and waved Candace goodbye.


After she left, Candace couldn’t fathom why the place suddenly felt so empty. “Wasn’t this what I had hoped for?”. She was already missing the little girl she had known from minutes ago. The question puzzled her, but there was no mental turmoil. It felt happy. It felt right. Her reclusive lifestyle has robbed her of experiencing the little nuances of life that made it interesting. Although, now she was reminded of her own childhood. The friends she had. Her family.


But she wasn’t nostalgic and neither did she crave for something new. She had reached a vantage point in her life which made her see things differently. All her life she had taught herself to be independent. To be strong and ready to face tides. And today is just a test of time. She only needed someone to jerk the negativity off of her cluttered brain. And the little girl’s naivety had hit it out of the stadium.


Candace walked across the park with her head held high. A palpable smile arching on her lips. She boarded the bus, took a seat by the window, and was humming all along the journey. She closed her eyes and could still picture the little girl, with her ice-cream smeared cheeks, giggling at her mischievously. And then she smiled too. For the first time in a long time, she felt happy. She was finally ready.





The Final Flight

1000 feet

Wind whizzes past, rocketing upwards to make room for him. His shirt flutters violently, like a kite soaring high in the backdrop of a clear summer sky. Birds, with their silhouette, would have beautified the scene , but he was otherwise. He was a blot on an immaculate canvas. A tiny speck of dust in the vast blue expanse. A miniscule spot that no one cares to notice, or acknowledge. 

900 feet 

Thoughts rolled. They flowed and ebbed. Here, of all places, he could think clearly. Now, of all times, he could reason. Had he done this before, he wouldn’t have been there again. But there’s no coming back to this place. 

800 feet

He felt sorry for no one, but for himself. A pathetic life that touched no one. It was never his fault, and he never blamed himself for it. If it were, it would’ve been possible to solve, but it wasn’t. 

700 feet

He flushed away memories and stripped himself of feelings. A clean slate. Not to start afresh, but to end it once and for all. 

500 feet

The freedom that this flight gave him was lovely. The frosty wind was invigorating. With no one there to question him or criticize, he innately found peace. He was finally one with himself. He was finally…free.

300 feet

The buoyance was thinning by the moment, much like his resilience over the past few years. It melted off over time and trickled down to this. 

100 feet

His momma once said, “Don’t do  something that’ll you’ll later regret.” He wasn’t.

50 feet

A smile

0 feet