And Those That Remain

Turkey Welcomes Youv1

There I stood on the dilapidated bridge, leaning against the rails in monotonous slumber, gazing at the old river run along in perennial hurry. It was a slow morning. Nothing seemed to move other than water. Not even time. The weather was drenched in sorrows of its own. The rains wouldn’t stop. It never did. It was raining yesterday as well. I remember it clearly. The cyclone that ravaged our town and left it in ashes. Even though I probably slept last night like I’ll never wake up and I somehow feel a little tired, I do remember everything, every tiny detail. After all, it was just yesterday.

Dear old Martha of the Mary Inn couldn’t survive it, nor could her two little grand-kids. It was terrible. I still remember Martha’s face, half-alive, half-dead from making her way back from beneath the river, even at her age, and stepping out of the water only to find the cold corpses of little Sam and Cindy in front of her, littering the shore. She couldn’t fight anymore. There was no reason to, not anymore. She fell right there.

Brother James had lost his wife Lily to the cyclone earlier that day but he kept on trying his best to save anyone he could. He was wailing inside, I could feel it, but he never showed it. All the folks ever saw was that compassionate smile sewn to his face, a painful mask to hide the untold misery eating his very soul away from within. But there was no time to dwell on that, to dwell on emotions. They didn’t matter. Not right now. People needed to be helped, to be saved. And brother James kept running from one end of the town to another all day long.

There were the couple who lived next door to us, the lovable Smiths. Only last month had they celebrated their 50th marriage anniversary. Both me and my wife Sarah were invited to their little get-together. Robert Smith was usually a stoic man who wouldn’t let anyone have the faintest glimpse of what he felt and Samantha Smith was the exact opposite, always full of words, warmth and kindness. Sarah loved Samantha and I respected Robert. But that night was something else. We got to see a different shade of Robert, a shade neither me nor Sarah had ever seen before. He was open, happy and full of words for his lovely wife. And Samantha was the star that lit up that evening. Their love of half-a-century was still as strong and as magical as ever.

Later that night, Sarah would playfully nag me to give her a similar night 45 years later. “I deserve it Will,” she’d whisper and smile. We were just 5 years married and for us to see love like the Smiths’ had was overwhelming and fulfilling. Now Samantha was sitting just ahead of the corpses of Sam, Cindy and old Martha, beside Robert, clutching his cold, dead hands. Without tears and without words. A broken, hollow shadow of the joyful being she once was. Sarah would’ve broken down to see what I saw. I’m glad she never had to see Samantha like that. Or Robert. Or Cindy. Or Sam. Or any of them.

It was already evening as I stood on the bridge reminiscing about yesterday. The rains still hadn’t stopped. The sky was as dead as ever. I began to walk back the familiar path to home. The old cemetery fell on the left of my path. I made my way in. I walked past the flowers gracing the tombstones of Martha, Sam, Cindy, Robert, Lily, the Bishops, the Winchesters and uncle Henry. And there she was, Sarah, resting peacefully. Away from all the death and grief. Away from the gloom and dark that always disturbed her. I looked nowhere else, moved nowhere else. My eyes fell on the writing in front of me.

Here lies Sarah Wordsworth, a loving wife and a worthy friend.

Indeed she was.

29.10.1999.

The birds were making their way back to their homes. It was almost dark now. I wished Sarah goodbye and traced my way back to the gates and onto the road. A little girl and her father were walking just ahead of me. They looked happy and cheerful.

I’m glad it didn’t rain today, daddy. We wouldn’t have been able to go see the fair today if it rained! I’m so happy! It was amazing!

I’m pleased for you dear. Now keep your eyes on the road and let’s get home before it’s too late. Your mother must be very worried.

But daddy we’ll be here next year as well right? Bonnie and Rose kept saying the 2014 fair would be even better. All my friends would be here daddy, I want to be here. Please daddy?!

Okay okay, we’ll think about it but hurry along now!

Okay!

They walked ahead of me and melted into the ubiquitous darkness. I just stood there, frozen. The feet wouldn’t move forward. I walked back to Sarah. I walked a step forward and stood in front of the grave beside hers that, somehow, I hadn’t noticed before. My knees gave way.

Here lies William Wordsworth, loving husband, loyal friend and a valiant warrior. Sacrificed himself to save his fellow men.

29.10.1999.

I smiled as I lay down on the ground, looking up at the starry skies. Taking a gulp of the fresh evening air in, I closed my eyes and opened them again.

I was standing on the old bridge. It seemed a slow morning. I slept well last night but I was still oddly tired. And it was raining. Just like yesterday..

Advertisements

Upward Over The Mountain

Image

It is not always that you find what you’re looking for. And it is even rare to love madly something which you weren’t looking for. Let’s face it, as you try to get yourself high or let yourself drown, in music, a song about your school, college or your parents isn’t always your favourite option. This has nothing to do with how you or I feel about our mothers. You aren’t going to love an artist singing softly about how amazing your mother is when others out there are hypnotising people with stairways leading to heaven or highways leading to hell. Not unless you’re listening to a man called Samuel Beam. I still maintain, this isn’t a theme I was madly scrounging my iPod for. I do that for the Floyds and the Zeppelins, the Cures and the Smiths. They make me happy, they make me sad. They talk to me about things I want to talk about, things I want to listen to, things I want others to take note of and things I want to outrage about. And they do that outrageously well.

But here I am quietly lost in thoughts, when I could be doing a million other things, while listening to Samuel Beam talk to his mother. Thinking about Samuel, his mother, myself and my mother, while Samuel is serenely strumming his guitar away in the soft background of my mind. The softness of the piece creates a sense of calmness, of happiness, of peace and being safe, things you’d associate your childhood and especially your mother with. But this song isn’t about mine or Samuel’s childhood. It’s about our mothers and their lives. So it’s not always calm or peaceful. Not always happy. And herein lies the beauty and the genius of this piece. There isn’t a single instance where you’re agitated while you’re listening to it. Not once will your blood pressure spike as you get charged with adrenaline. You’re always at peace. You’re listening to some really shit stuff that our mothers face as they live their lives but the atmosphere is never violent, never beyond breaking point. It’s just…calm. Like an ocean. Like your mother, like my mother.

This song absorbs our sadness as we get lost in the sorrows of our mothers, just like our mothers absorb her and our sorrows all into herself and still manage to smile when there’s nothing in our lives worth smiling for. You smile back for her and moments later you smile with her. It might be for a moment but you’re in that peaceful shrine of your childhood again. Man hasn’t been able invent the time machine. These words I speak are immortal. Maybe someday some blessed soul chances upon these words of mine when man has in fact managed to make his own time machine. But, although highly backward, we people, of this era, have always been able to travel back in time, if even for the smallest of moments. Those moments you spend with your mother in the evenings of her life and you in your noons, and you get to watch her smile, every single of those moments takes you back in time and believe me, she must have time travelled innumerably more than you ever will.

As Samuel points out, we can tell our mothers not to worry as much we want, it’s futile. She’ll worry. We may have gone just outside the house for a walk in the evening or million miles away fighting a war in some foreign land, she’ll worry. She might worry more or she might worry less, depending on the gravity of the situation, but she’ll worry. We may be rich or we may be poor, we may be kids or we may be 60-year-olds, as long as she’s able to breathe and able to think, she’ll worry. Leave her alone, when you could’ve been with her and she’ll take it in her stride and relive the moments she spent with you back in the old days, the good days. Leave her alone as go out to play as a kid or leave her alone as you fly upwards over the mountain, she won’t complain. She’ll keep her world to herself, keep us in her heart, keep the memories she made with us, from the time we breathed from within her body, in her heart. She’ll keep and relive every single such moment for as long as the Almighty would let her. And even when the Almighty too gets tired of His game and wishes to take her away, she still won’t hold it against Him or us. But whenever He does do it, she’ll still worry. About us. There she is, moments away from having everything she cherishes snatched away from her, yet her eyes and heart can only worry about us. You’d think He really messed up when He created Her. That nobody should be as good and as selfless as Her. No-one deserves to have someone like Her. But He gave us each other and that is something which you or I can’t ever thank Him or Her enough. Life has been a privilege of the highest order, however hard shit might hit us in life, because of that. Nothing can change that. The joy is forever.

“Mother forget me now that the creek drank the cradle you sang to
Mother forgive me, I sold your car for the shoes that I gave you

So may the sunrise bring hope where it once was forgotten
Sons could be birds, taken broken up to the mountain”

Of Beard and Beauty

Image

You look at Samuel Beam for the first time. You are impressed. You are thinking. Samuel Beam is an ordinary man with an extraordinary beard. You are intrigued. You come to know that he makes some music as well. You are impressed. You listen. You remember the moment you looked at him for the first time and what you thought of him. You are thinking. You are sure you were the stupidest thing on this planet at that moment. Then you listen some more. You look at the clock. It’s confusing. You take a peek outside the window. You are amazed. The sun is coming up. But it was night just a mo…ah. You understand now. You smile. Many years pass. Life keeps changing, sometimes for the good, and sometimes, for the worse. But one day, you realise something. At the end of the day, however good or bad, you are still listening to Samuel Beam. And you’re still smiling.

Homesick

The+Cure (7)v1

You’re sitting and you’re thinking. The mind just wouldn’t stop, would it? At least not in my case. There’s always a bit of chatter going on somewhere in my mind’s back alley and it’s relentless. Like a bee buzzing near the ears, close enough for you to listen but just out of your reach so you can’t get rid of it. Round and round, it hovers around you. But then, a song starts. The number of things that may go through your mind, depending on what kind of song it is, are endless. But when Homesick begins, everything stops. Time stands still. The mind thinks nothing. Nothing. As it starts, it tickles your senses sensuously. That’s probably where the trance is set in motion. I wouldn’t know for sure, I’ve never managed to break free from it. Slowly, the walls begin to close around you. The Cure are trying to strangle you, to drown you. They’re pushing you deeper and deeper. Where? I don’t know. But the voice is breaking down. The air is getting thinner. I’m at the bottom. I see nothing, hear nothing. I’m still alive and floating in the deep dark sea. But in that dark, from somewhere, a tune is rearing its head. The sea shivers with a sense of anticipation. I’m excited. What could it be? I wonder. Then, it starts. The Bang! The hair on the skin stands on edge as The Cure throw all modesty to the wind and let the music go wild. A chill rushes through the spine. But the tune is still picking up! It’s filling my world. It’s everywhere now. It’s above me and its below me. Its ahead and its behind. I see it now, see everything. The Cure have created an all-out concert at the bottom of the damned ocean! The lights are blinding and the noise is now deafening. The crowd is out. They are drowning in Smith’s melodious sorrow but they don’t even care. Their eyes and ears are all taken. The boys are already on stage. The stage is floating. We are floating. The concert is floating. The cheers, the noise, it just wouldn’t stop. The hands just wouldn’t go down. “Hey hey! Just one more and I’ll walk away…” The noise reaches a crescendo. It’s pandemonium. Robert Smith is killing everybody. He is hitting every single one of the crowd with darts drugged with overwhelming sorrow. The trance is complete. We are all linked. It’s just the band and us now. Nothing in between. Now nothing can break the atmosphere. We follow them to the end of the earth. And back again. The underwater procession of euphoric depression is all-encompassing. That’s the only thing in our minds and nothing else matters. There’s just one world, the world of Robert Smith. It’s tragic and dead and in that we’re alive. Rhythmically, we all nod and we all sing. It goes on for hours, days, weeks. We never kept track of time. It felt both like an age and a second. And within that time, the moonlight had managed to trickle down every single layer of Smith’s melancholic symphony and had finally made its way to the bottom of the ocean. It hits us. We bathe in it. It wakes us up. We open our eyes. We look up. The Cure are taking a bow. Smith is bidding goodbye. We blink. They’re gone. The night is over.

Part I – Rebirth

Image

The priest was worried. The sun had already set. It was steadily getting darker. The horses were running as fast as they could. The carriage was rushing down the mountain paths with furious speed. It was almost dangerous.

My worst fears will come true! Oh heavens! Protect your children!

The priest was becoming very agitated. His fellow passengers were exchanging worried looks and feeling sorry for him. The carriage had entered the forest, away from the open path. It was pitch dark. From whatever light the coachman could muster from his lantern, he drove on.

But the priest was losing focus. He kept looking at the dark skies and muttering to the wind. The terrains of this land carried unfortunate stories of death and doom from ages old and the priest’s warnings of apocalypse was making his fellow passengers uneasy.

Shut up old man. You are scaring the children. Calm down. It’s all good.

You do not see. My child, you do not see! Oh heavens, why do they not see? Why did it have to be like this? I’m weak and old, I cannot save your children. Oh help me Father! Make them see what I see! This is the end! The Strigoi shall rise tonight!

This dramatic revelation by the priest was met with stunned silence from the crowd. Only the footsteps of the horses and the howling of the wind could be heard as they all looked at each other in alarm. The people of Keatsville had heard many stories about their lands as they grew up. Some were beautiful, some were inspiring, and some were tragic. They loved and cherished every one of those. But there were also the legends that were nowhere near as comforting as these other stories. Legends that nobody dared discuss or make light of. They were spoken in hushed voices, in safer confines and in broad daylight, if at all they needed to be spoken of. So when the priest screamed of Strigoi in the cursed forests engulfed in omnipresent darkness, every soul in the carriage froze. The coachman lost his grip on the horses and the carriage collided with a tree trunk at extreme speed. The lanterns flew into the dark and fell somewhere in the wet ground. Whatever little light they had left, was gone. It was complete and utter darkness now.

The horses were making an almighty racket. The priest was screaming of Armageddon at the top of his voice with everything his lungs could offer. The children were crying. The women and men were terrified of it all. It was a nightmare, or so they thought. Then it happened. The quieter folks could see it clearly. Three pairs of red dots were getting closer and closer from three different directions. As they reached near their carriage, they stopped. They were not just dots. Those were eyes at the height of an average man’s chest. The woods echoed with rhythmic and furious breathing. If those were animals, they had to be gigantic. The air was heavy with fear. The children had stopped crying. The horses had become quiet. The priest, though, was still relentless.

In death and in life, his light shines upon us all! No devil can rise before His holy light! He is our father, his mercy is unbound, he will save our light! He will save our souls tonight and banish this evil fr—-

The priest was gone. So were those eyes. The townsfolk were shaking. They could see the red eyes running away in the distance. One guy had stumbled upon a lantern. He lit it and held it high. The beasts were heading towards the old ruins. Without wasting a second more, they picked their children and began to run the rest of the distance towards Keatsville.

The beasts had taken the priest to the Ruins. Everybody called the place the Ruins. There was a time when it was a part of the town and people used to live there. But then something happened. Nobody knows for sure what but the Keatsville legend has its own version of events. Since then, the place has been abandoned and a dense forest had sprung up separating it from the main town. Nobody ever goes there.

The moon was bright. The beasts were slowing walking past desolate buildings. They were searching for something. They were sniffing and growling. The priest was lying on the biggest of the beasts. He was unconscious, his rosary still hanging from his hand. Slowly, the procession reached the end of the Ruins. They were staring anxiously at the structure in front of them. It was a church. The beasts invited themselves in and made their way towards the altar. There was a passageway on the left leading towards the basement. They growled in joy. They could sense something. They made their way down. There was a coffin. It was covered in numerous layers of dust. It had not been touched in decades, centuries probably. The priest could not see what happened next. One of the three beasts was shaking. Its bones were breaking, one-by-one. It was writhing in agony. Its growls were reverberating throughout the Ruins. And then it stopped. The beast was gone. There was a naked man standing in its place.

He took the priest from the top of the biggest of the beasts and put him beside the coffin. The moonlight was seeping into the room. Slowly, he pushed the coffin open. A strong foul stench made that man recoil violently. He recovered quickly and began slitting the wrist of the priest open. He was collecting his blood. The rosary fell from the priest’s hands and that woke him up. He looked in horror from the unknown man to the two beasts standing beside him near the coffin. No words came out of his mouth. The man laughed an eerie laugh. Soon he was done with the old man and rose to his feet. He poured the blood inside the coffin and turned back into a beast again, right in front of the priest. His painful transformation and his subsequent form were too much for the priest as he began to shout and scream in horror and run wildly towards the door. The beasts growled in amusement, let him escape and then chased him playfully. He ran up the stairs and through the aisle, blood pouring out profusely from his wrists. He was in immense pain. His head was throbbing madly. By this time, the beasts felt hungry. They were done playing. The biggest of the three pounced on him for the final strike. The other two roared in appreciation. The sight inside the church was ungodly. But suddenly the two other beasts became very quiet. The priest was shouting away madly as the largest beast held him in his paws but he too was distracted.  There was a swift movement outside the gates of the church. A second later, both the beasts were nailed to two opposite walls of the aisle in arrows. The largest beast growled in sheer fury. The entire Ruins was trembling with its anger. The beast was mad. He threw the priest to the walls and began searching around for the perpetrator.

His light is bright and beautiful; he shines it on his children in times of joy and sorrow. Lycaon can never stand against His light! Never! Light shall prevail! Forever!

The beast had had enough of his babblings. He growled in fury and opened his mouth wide to dig his teeth deep into his neck. Then it froze. A young man was standing in front of him.

It was me. I killed your two little henchmen. They were rather cute, weren’t they? Hope you didn’t mind much. So, how goes your little night-out?

The beast was trembling with hair-raising anger. It growled an incredible grown and lunged for him with blood lust. It was dead the next second.

Yo, granddad, calm down. Tell me what all has happened so far.

They have the blood! They fed him the blood! I have failed! I have failed Him and his children! Oh Father!

Okay, okay, calm down gramps! Just tell me where they have kept him.

But you cannot see! And how do you know about this? Who are you my son? WHO ARE YOU?

I’m John Keats The 20th. And jeez, you’re making me late! Just tell me where his body is!

But you do not see! You do not see! He is about to rise! Lycaon is about to rise! There is nothing you and your family can do now! I have failed your family as well! I have failed everyone! He’s down there, he’ll be here soon! Oh father, I’ve failed everyone! I don’t deserve your mercy!

Took you long to say that. You speak far too much. And just so you know old man, I can see as well.

The priest became suddenly quiet. There was a rush through the church. The air had become far too thin to breathe. There was a chill sweeping through the place. It made the hair at the end of the skin stand. As John Keats turned around, Lycaon was standing in front of him, holding the priest’s heart in his hand.

Well now, kiddo, so can I.

Shit.

To Joy

Image

In the colours of our melodious times
Swimming in skies with blissful sight
Into swirling blurs in frenzied tides
A mystic moon lights a picture bright
We dance in the rain and in the light
We dance in the rain and in the light

In a shore beyond the turbulent lines
On sparkling sands with dazzling sight
Where dreams embark on thrilling rides
And proud seas roar with steely quiet
We dance in the rain and in the light
We dance in the rain and in the light

To ballads heroic from darkest nights
Of rousing fights and gallant knights
Who rose from ashes for a final fight
And fought again for a sensuous night
In chilly nights around bonfires bright
While seagulls rose for another flight
We dance to songs of the valiant might
We dance tomorrow and we dance tonight
We dance in the rain and in the light
We dance in the rain and in the light
And into the starry night…