The Numbing Silence


Heavy alloys set on descent,
no bumps, nor dent, yet
And without the knowledge,
nobody sat on the edge
Only a few minutes before,
did he try to smash the door
Only a few seconds ago,
made their cries echo
Then the silence—
—the crashing silence.

What’s in the mind of someone who wants to commit suicide?

End life, plain and simple.

But the decision to kill oneself doesn’t come overnight. It may take days or months or years before the fear of pain that results from death is gone — before one is like a log of wood, numbed to the senses. These determined ones may have overcome their pain thresholds by sheer mental prowess. They may have stopped thinking about pain, and have lived a belief that the lifeless aftermath is a beautiful escape.

We have long heard two types of suicide:

1) Those who commit it in the privacy of their room – by hanging, poisoning, etc. – where they may or may not blame others for their voluntary action.

2) Those who commit it in their obsession with an ideology: the suicide bombers brave death’s brutal assault, taking a number of people along with them.

The Germanwings plane crash tells us about a different kind of suicide: one that is voluntary, leading to mass murder (of 149 other souls), and it hasn’t been terrorism.

The co-pilot wanted to destroy the aircraft. He manually changed the autopilot settings – and waited – for the descent. The captain who was locked out of the cockpit kept hitting the door. The co-pilot was relaxed, as the plane descended at 700 kph.

APTOPIX France Plane Crash

Though I understand he was mentally ill and there rests the case, I’ve been asking myself these questions:

1. Did he think that if he crashed the plane the way he did, the pain of death wouldn’t be as excruciating, and more people would share his experience?

2. Was he ready to die? His peers and others said he was a nice man. The airlines stated he was 100% fit to fly. He also lived with his parents, and ran marathons. But the documents recovered at his apartment included a doctor’s letter, which said he wasn’t fit to work. He loved French Alps.

3. Was that, after all, a painless death? Since the descent was perhaps smooth, no passenger probably thought they had only seconds of life left. It was instantaneous, a beautiful escape into the unknown?

B/W Photo Challenge Day 5 (The Bond of Brothers)

For the Day 5 of my B/W Photo Challenge, I wish to present the proof that I am a proud father, and a proud uncle.

My brother and I are two kids in our family. The elder in the pictures is his son and the younger, mine. Both were born – 5 years and 7 seas apart – on the same day (Indian Standard Time), April 20/21.  Why they are “the Bond of Brothers.”

20131103_144459 Casual

IMG_5001 Shush

20131103_144840  Deep

IMG_4382  Hold



B/W Photo Challenge Day 4 (The Empire State Building)

1915207_216692185624_3916343_nClouds may gather, dusk may approach, people may whisper — the Empire stays true to its name.

For the Day 4 of my B/W Photo Challenge, I show you the 360-degree views from the observation deck of the Empire State Building. I have previously posted pictures of the Empire State, but these ones are from atop the structure.

We seek moments of happiness in the sea of structures. We can be in or among the concrete, but can’t become one, can’t become numb.

IMG_3046The South view: Downtown Manhattan, Brooklyn, Hudson River, New Jersey. The Freedom Tower stands tall.

IMG_3078The North view: Midtown, Uptown, Central Park (being an oasis).

IMG_3148The East view: East River, Queens, Brooklyn. 5th avenue, in particular, is a memorable walk in Manhattan.

IMG_3066The West view: Hudson River, New Jersey. It’s a beautiful river dividing Manhattan and New Jersey.

IMG_3051Panoramic view covering East River, Downtown Manhattan, Hudson River, New Jersey, and a slice of the observation deck itself.

I link Sabiscuit for this challenge. Sabiscuit is an impressive blog.

B/W Photo Challenge Day 3 (The Yacht Man)

For the Day 3 of my B/W Photo Challenge, I present to you the Yacht man. I took these pictures in the evening, from the living room of our apartment.

He’s up on the mast, probably repairing the halyard. But when I was clicking him, I wondered as to what he had for lunch, if he’d fought with his family that morning, and strangely, if he would add coke or soda to vodka.

DSCN1555I don’t think he’s checking his mobile here. But he may want to, considering the altitude might give him a good reception.

DSCN1564Here he’s clearly trying to pull a tool out of his repair bag, but first he’ll have to find it.

DSCN1553The work has begun, and he’s peering in the direction of Brooklyn.

DSCN1554Is someone calling him from below, or is he gauging the altitude? “Would I survive if I fall – and if I do – what would I be left with?”

DSCN1562He has a good view of downtown Manhattan. The Hudson River traffic will be at its peak, as dusk approaches.

DSCN1545That’s the full view of the yacht and the man. Quite a way up.

DSCN1559A wider view.

DSCN1561The widest view the camera could capture. Can you spot the yacht man?

DSCN1565This is the most zoomed-out click. The camera had it enough, and he looks tired, too.

It turned out, by the end of it all, that I had forgotten to eat lunch, had fought with family in the morning, and I would add coke or soda to vodka when I drink (socially).

I link Blewbird for this challenge. This blog has several breathtaking pictures. Please visit.

B/W Photo Challenge Day 2 (Love/Hate Snow 2)

For the Day 2 of my B/W Photo Challenge, I wish to continue to assault you with more snow. But I promise I’ll kindle you with warm subjects from Day 3 onwards.

IMG_0359Have you ever tried sitting on them? If they are only flurries the first five seconds would feel cushy – thereafter – sit at your own risk.

11053084_10153219093570625_6815545349298158174_nWorkers shoveling snow was a good sight, because the sun shone bright, made their shadows bigger and them warm.

IMG_0329Most of us may frown at this when we don’t have to answer nature’s call. But when we do, it may be the best thing in the world. Still, there are those who want cleaner options in times of crisis.

11025163_10153219094380625_8579846165506570706_nWhat the wheels could do to the whites: they become muddy, slushy – and, lose what, the white.

IMG_0371All of us have a lone, long journey. We come and go alone. It is the only truth, and once we understand this truth, we’ll feel freer than we did before.

I link Maniparna for this challenge. Her posts are interesting, and her pictures mesmerizing.

B/W Photo Challenge Day 1 (Love/Hate Snow)

This is my B/W post for Day 1 of the 5 Day photo challenge. The wonderful Prior linked me for this challenge.

We all know what happened in Massachusetts when it topped 100 inches of snow in a record breaking winter. Contrary to what the weathermen had predicted, New York, New Jersey and some other states in the East Coast were spared the assault.

Though it’s been snowing in NY and NJ intermittently, last week, snow fell for two consecutive days, showing more purpose.

Five pics from those days:

DSCN1816This gull was perched comfortably on a snow-kissed railing. If you look into its eyes, there’s purpose without a purpose. Now that’s a bit of contradiction. Let me explain: (I felt) they live a purposeless life, but to be purposeless they have to be purposeful. They could be the spiritual guru of the birds fraternity. (My header is this bird without some of the crop).

DSCN1838If bicycle were a man, he would tell the snow to leave him alone, and attack a Mercedes instead. “Spare me,” the bicycle said.

DSCN1867These are not my footsteps, they could’ve been mine. But I followed them, as some followed mine.

DSCN1869A bed of crystals, upside down, will grace the gravity.

IMG_0379“Whose car is it?” “It’s mine.” “What will you do about it?” “What will you?” “Nothing.” “Nothing.”

I link the fascinating Kim Gosselin for this challenge, considering she is a lovely photographer, too.

The Old Bench


Sam and Ron just finished their dinner. Ron was doing dishes when the phone rang. Sam picked the call. 

“Hey Mendes, long time. Where’s Ian?” Sam said. His face gleamed as though he wanted to laugh. He listened to the caller, but the glint in his eyes suggested his mind was elsewhere. “Alright then, let’s meet up next week. Bye.” 

“Who’s that?” Ron said, screaming over the sound of the sink water. 

“I must tell you this.”

Sam and Ron were roommates for over a year, living in a dingy studio apartment in Journal Square. Both were similar in many ways, the two striking parallels being their short statures and skinny figures. But it was impossible to tickle Ron’s funny bone. And Sam wouldn’t give up.

“Go ahead,” Ron said, as he dried his hands on a towel he carried from the kitchen. 

“They are my old buddies, Mendes and Ian. Twins. Will be in Newark for a week.”

“What’s in it to laugh?”  

“Well, the last time the three of us met, we were in a park.” 

People had begun to crowd the park, the green was bright, the afternoon had basked in the autumn sun. Mendes, Ian and Sam had sat on an old, rickety bench; the only one in the park. Sam had sat in the middle, and the twins, who’d each weighed 300 pounds, were on either side.

The wooden bench – which battled 720 pounds already, including Sam’s 120 – had been enduring the extra burden of the trio’s coarse talk. In fact, whenever the three met there, they’d go on some trance, and would offend not only one another, but those who happened to be around. And there were baby boomers, who’d come to the park to spend some minutes of tranquility, which they were entitled to, after paying taxes all their lives.

The trio had bet a Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese, and the challenge was, who would nudge which two off of the bench and be the last man sitting. The losers would buy the Pounder and serve it to the beaming winner on the bench.

The brothers winked at each other over Sam’s scrawniness, deciding to push him off, after which the contest would be in-house. But Sam sat like a bone, reluctant to be a mere paste these giants would squeeze off a tube. But he could only draw on his remaining strength.  The dissonance of their struggle had forced a few boomers off the park. Then Sam fell, his knees hit the ground first, a humiliating defeat he had expected.

He gathered himself, and turned around to check who won the Pounder. But what he saw soothed his ego. The bench was a crushed ruin; its legs buried under the two plus-size men who lay in a heap, entangled in a way that from a distance they’d look nicely positioned and adequately cushioned, like a bench.

“Look at you both.” Sam held his mouth, not keen to bare his teeth. The twins grinned back, but it interspersed with the moans of their aches. They heard soft footsteps approaching them.

When Sam glanced at Ron in the apartment, his face looked stiff.

“Mendes and Ian were big, man,” Sam said, hoping a reaction from his roommate.

Ron threw his towel on a chair, and said, “Who disentangled them?” 

“The boomers — but not before they had their due revenge, by pulling the twins’ ears and banging their heads against each other.” 

“They spared you?” 

“I ran.”

“So when the twins nudged you off the bench, were you like a pin leaving monstrous hands.” 

“You or I would have been that pin.”

“There’s no humor in your story,” Ron said, then leaned forward. “Did you buy the Pounder after all?”

“There was no winner. Story ends. Now, no more Mendes-Ian with you.”

“Why not?”

“I’m sleepy.”

“Not fair.” 


Ron’s stiffness began to peel off his face. “I see humor when you let up,” he said, and laughed.

Then their laughter filled the room. They shared a bed that shook when their he-haws curled their bodies, tightened their muscles, and stretched their mouths, so much — their laughter lost its sound, to the involuntary holding of their breaths.

Who wants to smoke in the stairwell?


I usually take the stairs from our sixth floor apartment to go to the first floor. I like the walk down in the morning, and up back to the apartment in the evening. It’s healthy. But what is not is the smell of the cigarette smoke in the stairwell. 

Cigarette smoke smells different outside, as air slices its thickness off, splintering them in various directions. Smoke is injurious, thick or thin, so most public parks are now no-smoking zones. But when you smoke in a corridor of a closed structure, the thick white stays, and can travel up and down through a stairwell.

We’ve seen No Smoking written in faint red on the grainy walls of the stairwells, on each floor, of the high rise building. The illegibility may have been the invalid excuse for the smokers who have long taken their drags there. Then a time came when the building management issued a warning, a print out, which said: It is not permitted to smoke in the stairwells. A print out pasted on each floor. 36 floors. 4 stairwells. 

Permission? Reveler tenants continued to smoke, though the warning was much legible. 

Nobody has probably been able to catch these smokers red-handed. How, is a question. None knows their smoking schedule, and the odor lingers after the smoker has long left for his abode. Why don’t they smoke in their abode? They love their family to death.

Last month, the management issued another warning, a print out, which said: It is ILLEGAL to smoke in the building. 

ILLEGAL. Yes, in caps. Severe warning it is – so two print outs for each floor. 

The word illegal worked. Yay!!! Smokers after all were law abiding tenants otherwise. Soon the smoking zone outside the front lobby swelled. There was no smell in the vertical shaft, for a fortnight.

This morning the odor was pungent in the stairwell. I slowed my steps down, each foot soft and investigative in its motion. I reached the first floor. I saw him.


He was in the corridor, his back facing me. A cigarette was burning between his fingers, and the strong wind outside hurried the smoke in.

He had opened an emergency door — wonder why no alarm sounded, would have alerted the doorman — and had his right foot in as a door blocker. Fahrenheit was negative, and he was wearing a t-shirt. He’d come prepared to smoke in the corridor.

“Sir, the stairwell is filled with your smoke,” I said.

He turned around, his raised brows made his eyes bigger, his foot unmoved. “Really? But I’m smoking outside.”

“Are you? The wind’s moving in.”

“But my puff is going out.”

“Sir, I live on the sixth. I could smell your puffs there.”

He took two steps out, still holding the door. The corridor – chillier than before – continued to suck the smoke in. “Look, I’m outside now.”

“Are you? Thanks a lot.”

The last I glimpsed him, he had an awkward posture: right hand on the door, left fingers and the fag in shivering rhythm, both feet tap dancing as he fought the chill, his t-shirt ballooning behind him. 

The weather was punishing, and for all his hard work, he was still breaking the law.


You gaze, I glance, we gape


It’s a fact that universally, men look at women more than the other way round, at least evidently. It’s a fact again that men stare at women — and women stare mostly when they know they’re being stared at, by men.

I’ve been careful about how I see and observe others. Most, including me, do coup d’oeil as it may be the smart way.

In today’s time, when eyes flutter at people as much they do at smartphones, it’s important to know that people watch you watching them. The safest soul you could look at without offending, is the one you see in your mirror – where – though neither is offended, you decide whether the reflection grins or frowns.

Have you heard about a man gazing back at a woman because she gazed first? Not that it doesn’t happen, is unlikely to be a routine.

When we step out of our homes we may forget what we’ve come outside for, as we take in images and motions of multiple moods. We may fulfill what we set out to, but these emotions drain and dare us along the way.

Some thoughts:

1. Women look at men too, but there’s patience (and permanence) with which they process their image, unlike in the other case where a man’s processing of a woman may be quick, as though he has more images to capture. Why do men goggle at women when they know their gaze is not welcome? Worse, why does he wait until she tells him to mind his eyes that he gets the message? Perhaps he wants the message.

2. Sometimes you may not be looking at a person, but at a bag or a hair clip, noticing how prominent they look on them. But the ones who’re gaped at in the process may have a wrong idea, which is natural.

3. When we wear t-shirts with captions on them we know people will read us. If my t-shirt says something and a woman (a stranger) reads it, taking her time, I may not (am not supposed to) be offended. But if this happens the other way, it becomes an issue.

That’s my t-shirt.

But wait. A girl is wearing a captioned top. A man in a formal suit, with lust on his mind, reads it. She’s probably fine; another man, shabbily dressed, with purity in his thoughts, reads it. Isn’t he a certain lech?

Which I always maintain — how you dress and how you think are two different worlds. I don’t read captioned clothes. Are they to be read?

3. There have been situations when a man sitting alone in a corner is teased by a group of women, frolicking nearby. They may stare at him, giggle, and chatter about him – which is healthy – but not to an extent where the man realizes he’s become a tool of their taunt. He may get offended, but won’t react, as that might mean discourteousness?  It won’t be appropriate at all if a group of men do this to a woman. The point I’m making is, not every man can ignore being ridiculed.

The outside world is full of strange faces and expressions. Some faces are attractive, some expressions are not. But it’s easy to be trapped in its varied lure.

It’s not a crime to be attracted to, so long as the other person is not uncomfortable in your presence. And since most culprits are men, there’s a saying, which if applied, can drill some sanity in:

Seek respect, not attention, it lasts longer.

Faces and hearts


I see faces, aching
for acceptance, I feel hearts,
prepping for penance.
Acceptance and penance, use them
They’re voluntary, mean them.

An old, homeless man wobbled
Waiting for red to turn green
When a taxi hit a puddle
His soaked shirt stuck to his skin.

The car shrieked to a stop, the driver,
his teeth glistened as he laughed.
The man’s eyes lowered, the poorer,
he stood there as the car moved.

The breeze was cold and wet
The man walked, then paused
He had no cash or check
He walked, and stopped.

Night glowed, as stars assembled
He, on a bench, slipped into his dreaming
Someone patted him, and whispered
I’m the driver, he said, you were forgiving.

Both ate sandwich the driver brought
He scanned the man, a certain deja vu from before
The man had stood, the driver remembered, between him and a gun
Look at the scar, the man said, from the bullet of ’84.

Repentance Graphic_full

The driver’s eyes swelled with tears,
the man’s with pride, and both hugged,
then smiled and sighed
Who said acceptance and penance have died.

But I see faces, aching
for acceptance, I feel hearts,
prepping for penance.
Acceptance and penance, use them
They’re voluntary, mean them.

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