Roads

2017-05-25-14-18-59-914

Two roads diverged

and I met someone at the crossroads,

the meeting fleeting

like the flash of headlights

of a car passing;

And  my dilemma

was no longer about the path

that I have to take

but the person I encountered.

 

Two roads diverged

And I met someone at the crossroads,

the meeting fleeting

like the flash of headlights

of a car passing;

Among the  blood-soaked leaves

my voice box lay out of place-

The mouth organ that cannot play.

 

Two roads diverged

And I met someone at the crossroads,

the meeting fleeting,

the flash of headlights

of a car passing;

And I was nearly killed

by someone I love.

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Review of ‘Lexicon’ by Max Barry

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Lexicon by Max Barry is a disappointing novel.

Max Barry builds on an interesting premise but fails to create a convincing dystopian landscape. The novel is about an organization of “poets”, master manipulators who use words to warp others to their will. The members of the organization are given the names of famous writers such as Bronte, Eliot; to conceal their true identities. According to the novel, a person’s personality can be classified into one of 228 psychographic categories, depending on which they could be compromised or controlled by using category-specific words. The conflict emerges when a deadly word is unleashed, a word whose power is fatal to humanity. The novel begins on a promising note but ends with the “love solves everything” cliché. And even the love that suddenly blossoms between Emily and Harry seems contrived. I wouldn’t call this a hardcore science fiction novel compared to novels like The Martian by Andy Weir and Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. I wish that author had included more details about the organization, the psychographic segments, and the intricacies of what they learn and do.

Moving onto the characters, none of the characters are memorable:

Emily Ruff is not a likeable. Sure, she makes mistakes which is normal; but what I despise is her predatory behaviour, this coming from someone who was victimized herself is alarming.

Harry Wilson/Wil Parke is an interesting character, who initially appears to be baffled but later rises to the catastrophic event that was unfolding. His understanding of the organization and the “Poets” grows leaps and bounds once he gets into a conversation with Eliot. The sudden onset of this understanding is not believable.

Eliot, Emily Ruff’s mentor, is yet another cold and unfeeling poet who finally reveals his ability to emote. (SPOILER ALERT: His death beyond the obvious sacrificial role appears to be more pathetic than tragic.)

What is most intriguing about this novel is its examination of privacy issues which is an integral part of our life today. Max Barry made me think of the real intent of the numerous surveys and the polls one comes across on a daily basis and the dangers of revealing too much about oneself.

Lexicon’ is essentially a novel about the powers of persuasion and sadly nothing could persuade me to give it a favourable review.

Morning Tricks

view-of-persons-legs-on-path

 

The steady sound of sport shoes slapping on gravel could be heard loud and clear in the wee hours of the day in State Memorial Park. 5:35 a.m. to Sumi and Beena meant “levitation time”, a time when they would jog and talk about their young-adult problems, and would feel light both physically and mentally. They associated the lightness they experienced after jogging to the levitation trick pulled off by magicians, and hence they named it “levitation time.”

“You know, Rohith never comments on what I wear, I have to pester him with questions and then he comes up with the usual boring compliments. He is straight-forward, but I wish he would make something up, just shower me with praises to make me feel special, he is just too practical!”, Beena ranted as they jogged on their usual gravel path.

“ Akash is the exact opposite, he compliments me on everything I wear, I do..it’s crazy”, panted Sumi.

“Wow.. I wish Rohith was like him.”

“No, no, you don’t get it… I don’t like that. It’s as if he says all that because he is supposed to say them, like he is following instructions straight out of a book, I would rather he mean the things he says than lie to make me feel valued” , said Sumi as they neared the end of the path.

The girls stopped by a purple bougainvillea shrub that marked the end of the path. Beena wiped the sweat off her brow with a hanky and exclaimed, “If only we could exchange our boyfriends, then we would have exactly what we want”

Sumi who had bent down on her knee to tie her shoe laces shrugged at her friend in amusement, suddenly the smile on her face was replaced by a perplexed frown as she stood up. The friends exchanged a knowing look, and they knew what they had to do. From levitation they had moved onto another trick, telepathy.

Coffee Love

coffee

 

They entered the coffee shop exhausted from the day’s work at the IT Park. The interior of the shop was painted a soft brown colour. The yellow ceiling lights on the brown walls created a perpetual dusk, some Expressionist paintings adorned the walls interspersed with witty coffee quotes. The Western instrumental music which played continuously in the cafe was drowned by chatter and the clinking of cutlery. The aroma of freshly ground coffee wafted from the kitchen stealing its way to the customers, heightening their craving for coffee. Rekha plopped herself on a comfy chair at a table next to the entrance, Rita sat opposite her.

“Nothing beats the smell of coffee! I wake up to take a whiff of this wonderful beverage.”exclaimed Rekha adjusting the pleats of her saree.

Rita laughed at her friend’s addiction to coffee.

A waiter dressed in a white shirt, black coat and pants appeared to take their order.

“Two capuccino and two croissants, do you want anything else Rita?” asked Rekha.

“No… this would do”, Rita replied.

She waited until the waiter left their side and then leaned her elbows on the table, eager to tell her friend something that has occupied her mind for days.

“You know Rekha, I really am in love,I know it. I just feel so happy, so light, it’s like I am floating among the clouds. I have never felt his good in my entire life. I find myself smiling at everything and that too for no reason, it’s like I have lost my mind… Am I making any sense to you?” Rita asked, an embarrassed grin on her face.

Rekha listened to her friend with a sad smile on her face.

“What’s with that smile of yours? Aren’t you happy for me?” Rita asked with a hint of annoyance in her voice.

Two steaming mugs of coffee and two plates of the pastry were placed on the table with a slight display of gallantry by the waiter.

“Of course I am, I am just afraid of what will happen after…”

“Oh my God Rekha, just because you got divorced, doesn’t mean that the entire world will be filled with divorces and heartbreaks!” said Rita with her hand on her head.

“You can never be too sure. Maybe even love has an expiration date, the day when love sours and turns into hate. I don’t know Rita, I don’t intend to be such a killjoy, but I will tell you this, nothing stays the same. When I married him, I was over the moon, but then years later, it became mechanical. There were days when I felt strange and uneasy. My life was just reduced to a mere routine devoid of any sentiments, any palpable feelings. I woke up in the mornings, cooked, went to work, returned home , chatted casually with my him while having dinner, slept; the same routine on repeat, it was mentally exhausting. Love had disappeared from our life without our own knowledge, like a candlelight that dies out in the day, you don’t notice it initially but then eventually you realize. We got separated on amicable terms. I was hesitant at first, you know, being an married woman in India I had to consider not just what I thought of myself, but what the society would think me if I separated from him. Anyway we got divorced, and that’s the end. But the absence of love when you recognize it, is unsettling Rita.”

“So what are you saying? Not to fall in love? No, you just said that the absence of love is unsettling. Honestly it is like you talk in circles all the time.”

“Nothing. I am just letting my tongue get the better of me. You really should be friends with girls of your age. I am like seven years older than you” , sighed Rekha as she stirred her coffee.

“Okay, stop being such a nag grandma. Just be happy for me and we will just see what happens next”, giggled Rita.

“Meanwhile let me enjoy my evening with my true love, coffee” , said Rekha as she sipped her favourite beverage.

Goodbye

 

bloody-heart

They had broken up. She looked at him from the doorway of their apartment. He looked as handsome as ever. Tears welled up in her eyes and she felt an unbearable pain in her heart. It was time to say goodbye.

She walked to where he was standing lost in thought and embraced him tightly.

“What had happened to us?”she sobbed, her tears wetting his navy blue shirt. He remained silent. He was standing like a stiff stump, not caring to return her hug.

She felt a fury surge through her whole body. Her arms suddenly closed in on his throat, she gripped it harder and harder. He was struggling, gasping for breath. He tried to push her aside but her grip tightened on his throat like a noose. With a sudden burst of energy she pushed him to the ground and squeezed the remaining life out of him. Sweat clung to her like a slippery garment. She realized that she was breathing heavily. She withdrew her arms and wiped them on her jeans.

Then she stared deep into his cold, dead eyes and said “Now we’re done.”

Before Lunch

Will you marry me?” he asked his best friend.

She stopped short and a soft smile broke out across her pretty face.

I don’t know…um…are you sure? I mean come on, we have just known each other for twenty years, that’s such a short period”, she said seriously.

I know we are supposed to know each other for a hundred years or more, but I don’t think I’m going to live that long”, he replied with a grin.

Okay…but first let us have lunch, I’m starving!” she said with a laugh as they crossed the road to their favourite cafe.

A Painful Remembrance

I climbed down from the train carrying my backpack; the large clock in the railway station showed 7:30 p.m. I weaved my way through the crowd towards the exit.

“Hi”

I heard a familiar female voice, I turned to find her standing in the dimly lit station.

“Prema, why are you standing there? we have to get a cab”, exclaimed Prema’s sister as she pulled her away.

Seeing her again, the wound caused by the invisible arrow started hurting again.