When I spent a year living among the nomad tribes of the Tarukka Desert, I met a man named Darhul. He was an odd man, even by the tribes’ standards, and the reason for that was his strange obsession with sandstorms.
I walked along a beach I used to know, rejected by both the wind and the water. One sought to tear my face off, slashing at me with pressured claws, while the other sought to drown me in a deluge of rain. But being the more docile of the two, my tainted skin the water dared not touch, so I walked through the downpour undisturbed, non-existent.
Mother Earth and her servants are not like us humans. Their memories last, engraved in the sift of the sand and the ache of the earth. They do not forget betrayal. What possessed me to come back to this town? This town that I had been chased from 15 years ago? The ghastly wind offered me no answers, for it wondered the same.
I returned to the corner where the beach met the mangroves, where the sand was thicker and not too grainy, the perfect texture for building sandcastles. I returned to the spot where, if you lay at a certain angle, you could find a little hole in the middle of the canopy, through which the stars always seemed to shine the brightest.
Was this some kind of joke?
After 15 years it was still there, a cross made of two twigs tied together with enough rubber bands to make a mother scream. It stood in the sand, bent at an angle, but still there. The waves didn’t reach that spot, but there was no reason for anyone to leave that ugly monument there.
Except to punish me.
My knees sank into the sand. If I had dug, would I have found some of those bones you always loved? Maybe I would have found yours, and mistook them for something else’s. Either way, I didn’t. Because I couldn’t. I couldn’t bring myself to touch those grains you loved to play with so much, because I was afraid they would stain my fingers red with your blood. I was afraid I would touch them and find your soft fur and the weak, desperate throbbing of your heart as it grew quieter, and quieter…
Oh, Poppy. My dear, dear Poppy.
The oblivious rain descends upon the send-off, lashing against the windows of the moving car to form streaks that look like the clawmarks of voracious demons. An omen, perhaps, of trials to come. But the Fool pays no heed, just as he does the rest of the noise in the world.
He arrives at the gate of departure where he meets a boatman bearing the cross of the Hanged Man. His guide across this River Styx. The boatman says: Name yourself, traveller. For the unwilled shall not pass.
And the Fool replies: I bear-
A sword in my chest.
A cup in my soul.
A wand in my hand.
And a coin in my pocket.
The boatman nods expressionless and beckons him to embark. And off they go into the mist, across the horizon between dawn and dusk, life and death, and every other pair of opposites in the world. For all becomes one at the world’s edge. Nothing else matters. Time comes to a standstill. All one needs to do is entrust their fate to the cards.
The Tower awaits.
Maybe I’m writing so desperately because it’s in those words, in those stories I want to be. Not here. Maybe if I write enough, once all is said and done, someone will hand me a ticket on the other side. To ride the train that runs on rails of dreams.
Depending on how your life has fared, you may have heard of this person. They are one unchosen by fate and luck, one who has lost everything yet bears only pain, no resentment. They willingly carry the suffering meant for thousands and fight to prevent any of it from falling, so no one else will have to taste what they have experienced. They are nameless on the surface, always struggling with their pain when nobody’s looking, secretly pulling the strings that lift everyone’s smiles – they won’t stop, because failure is not an option. They are constantly afraid, afraid of watching tears fall from someone else’s face – because they know the image will remind them of the moment everything changed, but what they don’t know is if they could survive it. So pray for the Unchosen.
I’m a firm believer in the idea that the amount of satisfaction or pleasure you derive from something in your life is largely dependent on your attitude towards it. In this regard, video games are an especially powerful medium with the potential to deliver highly intense experiences. With the right mindset, playing a video game is no different from hopping into an inter-dimensional crosspod or some shit and zooming off to different dimensions. So here’s a project I’ve been working on for half a year which tries to sort of materialize/literify this idea. Go ahead and give it a read if you like – it’s your chance to experience what it’s like to play Pokemon as a crazy guy with way too much time and imagination on his hands.
The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh
There’s a funny story behind how I discovered this book. In order to fulfil my course requirements, I took a certain module in my first year of university. It was titled – Beasts, People and Wild Environments in South Asia. As an animal and nature-lover since young, the name of this module instantly stood out to me among the sea of cultural, societal and science-based modules that made up the list I had to choose from. This book was one of the very first readings specified for the module. And like all good university students, I didn’t finish it. I don’t think I even reached the quarter-mark. However, the book and its writing left an inexplicable mark on me. So when I started taking my writing career and reading more seriously, I decided that this was one book I had to eventually return to and finish.
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