Soulbeat

 


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Hey, You


Hey, you – the one resting their chin over their folded arms on their side of the car window, while the others hoot and laugh beside you in the car.
Yes, you – the one leaning against the balcony railing alone in the chilly winds, while the others celebrate in the halls and rooms inside.
Yeah, you – the one sitting atop the grassed land with your eyes fixed above at the otherwordly infinities, while the others now are nowhere in sight.
Yes, you – the one with their chin rested upon their knees, sitting on the chair and looking out the window at 5 AM, while the others weave their mundane dreams.
Psst, you – With their legs dangling in the waking waters and their head gazing ahead, while the others snuff out bonfires and fix their tents.

Continue reading “Hey, You”

Braided


I like my hair in a braid. No, I love my hair in a braid. From where he sits, I bet that all he could see is the braid, if he is willing to.
He never seems to be willing to.

The dutiful scribbling of my pen would loyally fail to betray the sea of thoughts in my head. His thoughts. An urge, like bile rises in me to glance back towards him, which I swallow back. Look up on the blackboard instead, Shireen.

Yes, better.
We’re studying something related to Chemical Energetics in Inorganic Chemistry and I’m getting a D this semester. Needless to mention to whom should the blame for that be directed to; technically. Struggling to distract my mind, I adjust my feline glasses and dart my eyes back on the board. And the urge strikes again.
Screw it, just steal a glimpse. I turn around impulsively.
The caffeinating sight of his coffee-coloured mane, I spy first. Everything else next.
From the dreamy hazel eyes to the jaw occupied with shadowy stubble – that thankfully leaves his jawline unperturbed. Those protruding pink lips that could be chewed like a marshmallow, and that tan, lighter than the shade of the milkiest milk chocolate in the world.
Why of course, thank you for the unwanted maniacal stretch of a smile, dear lips, but I’d like it vanished now. Yes, good.
It’s a freaking wonder how I am the only girl around obsessing over Narcissus here. Was it Narcissi or Narcissus? Darn it, stupid Greek mythologies.
The mechanical board-to-notebooks, notebooks-to-board glances roll all around the classroom. I’m stumped and don’t know what’s the worst of it, whether the fact that my wrist has gone irony after endlessly jotting down the chalked letters and diagrams, or the fact that nothing that I have written makes sense to me. I might as well have been trying to decrypt Egyptian hieroglyphics.
I drop my pen with a sigh and navigate my eyes back towards Narcissi/Narcissus to find his determined eyes dribbling in synchronicity with his pen. His tongue is planted across the corner of his lips and he writes on. Everything else fades into the background.  It’s breathtaking as to how oblivious is this boy to the wonders nature has endowed upon him. My head leans into my hand as I gape at his Hellenic face. My lips part; I even forget how to blink.
And suddenly then, he raises his hand and Sir Baig points towards him, “yes Zamad, answer,” and he blurts out “By drawing the Hess Cycle.” Accompanying his voice, I feel as if a thick wave of a summer zephyr breezed into the room.
Zamad. Could there have been a better name to go with that face, oh perfect stranger?
“Right!” The professor walks up to the board and chalks some more lines.
I return to glare at him with a slight squint of my eyes this time… and he sees me. At the intersection of our eyes I feel a clang of sword beat against sword in my chest; my stomach goes all acrobatic and then there’s a miserable juggling of breath in my lungs.
I’m never going to the circus again.
I think I feel a stroke of thunder within when he squints his eyes into mine, bemused, his lips twitching – he inaudibly challenges with an eyebrow raise, ‘you sure you know what you’re doing?’ Am I sure?
Goosebumps fall on my skin like rows of toppling dominoes. Just his looks could evoke such anarchy?
Against the plenitude of odds, I dare myself to hold his sight. Unblinking, both of ours glare remain. His brown eyes brand into my darker ones. I feel myself in tatters on the inside; yet I find no feathers of skin shedding off of me before my eyes. Even as I inch into this battle by the second, disbelief of my own feat cloaks me. I’m braver than I thought I were.
My lips feel funny. Shireen, hold yourself together. But I can’t.
I do something with my lips that I think might appear cute, but then he gives me a bulging-eyed look before averting his gaze as if he’s walked in on someone who was undressing. I feel a piece of me carve and die out right then. The loss of electricity, the return of eye-blinks and the normalcy of breathing pattern are the trends I’m no longer thankful for.
“Yes, Shireen… Answer what I just asked.”
I immediately turn towards Sir Baig. He has asked me a question. Another surge of electricity rushes through me, but this one I don’t crave again. “Uhh… Hess… Cycle?” I say in my soft timid voice.
“… I didn’t ask any question.”
There was a murmur of laughter.
I fail to grasp that. “Sir?”
He runs a hand along his bald head and barks out this time, “I didn’t ask any question, Ms Shireen! I’d rather you pay attention over here or I’d be more than pleased to throw you out of the class.” Saying that, he turns to the board again, fuming. I wonder if it was just an illusion of light or did I actually saw steam rising from atop his head.
I don’t care whether rest of the class was laughing. My eyes just tread back to Zamad’s seat… and find his face covered behind his notebook. He parts it slightly and I see the playful laugh in his glistening eyes and a corner of his upturned mouth before he shies away from me. Heat rushes up my cheeks.
That was the most beautiful sight I have seen this week. 
 
Yield Shireen, yield, or this’ll be the death of y- 
For once, I snap off the voice in my head like some deity would shut close the Pandora’s box, before giving in to the field of smiles awaiting behind my lips.
I feel a spring blooming in a corner of me where I never thought it’d bloom.

Ignis Fatuus


Purple skies grumpily darkened and the moon’s mark of absence was dotted by the twinkling stars; yet again. For fifth straight night, there was no sign of moon.
Another sliver of wind cut through me, making me raise the hood of my hoodie over my head. I felt cold. My teeth clattered, almost matching the rhythm of my strides. Upon turning down the dreary lifeless alley, I felt relief settled under me. I was back on the street. Glancing sideways, I found the whooshing blurs of cars streaking my vision. I started leftward, and walked along the sidewalk framed with dust, while lampposts dutifully lit my way. I kept my head low, lost in thoughts; my long legs still striding. Like the rise and fall of a seesaw, my shifting shadows danced behind and before me as I passed each lamppost.
1… 2…  3…  4… 5… 6… 7…  8… 9… 10… 11…
 
It took 11 strides to mark each passing lap of those series of lampposts. And hence, I forced my focus on making sure I cross each lap in precisely 11 strides. It proved to be a surprisingly engrossing hobby for a while. But then I got bored and sighed. Steam emerging from my mouth writhed in the air then dissolved into it completely.
Across the sidewalk, a busy overhead road flowed parallelly then declined like a playground slide before merging with the flat main road. It then passed from under the overhead bridge that rooted from across the Eden crossroads ahead of me. Adjacent to the overhead road stood patches of grove.
Crisscross of the winds whistled in my ears every now and then, but the cacophony of the whooshing cars were what dominated the auditory senses. Horns blared and tyres screeched somewhere distant.
I had already failed at keeping up with my 11-stride laps when a crowd of grim-looking pedestrians streamed through, brushing past me like a cloud over moon. I missed their warmth the second they passed.
My long legs started again. Against my dark skin, the neon hands of my watch glittered. It was 7:47 thanks to the extended University session; I had better pick up my pace, I thought.
My head had lingered earthward for too long, I realized. Looking up, I noticed the skies were still clear, festooned with stars. Jetting cars to my right-
Oh, wait…
Is that…? Is that… moonlight?!
My monologue wasn’t alone in its abrupt halt, my legs stopped too. There, beside the overhead road to my right, the grove was backlit softly by a milky light. Through the constricted spaces in between the foundation pillars under the overpass, I spotted the furtive light; painted behind the benign forestry; on the sky. It was the moon.
‘It has to be the moon,’ I thought.

Neglecting now the slicing cold, I ran.

The overhead bridge across the Eden crossroad was the only platform high enough from where I could have spotted the moon. I aimed for there. Was it really the moon? After five tedious days and nights, is the sky willing to fix us a tryst finally?
It has to be the moon, I thought again.
The hood went flying behind me, hovering in the wind – slamming against my knapsack that doddered against my back. My feet engined along the pavement. I was a panther against the wind; my eyes still set on that lit segment of the sky to my right.
Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. 
Blocks of buildings blocked my view of the just apparent moonshine as I neared the bridge. Crossing the road, shimmying past the cars, I reached and climbed the metallic stairs – three steps at a time. I felt like a mad machine.
From atop the bridge, all the unhurdled horizons were apparent. I treaded towards where the source of celestial light would be visible clearly… and stilled.
They were stadium lights… of course.

I sighed and suddenly felt my chest and throat on fire, as if replaced with the breast of a dragon. My lungs too were inflamed. I bent, rested my palms on my knees and tried to catch my breath, still looking at the nimbus of light above the opened-up skull of the sports stadium. Ignis fatuus, I thought, and chuckled with a shudder.

With my lungs relatively calmer, I stood up straight. After the sky’s inspection, it was confirmed:
“No moon…”
I fetched the pack of cigarettes from my pocket, took one out and slid it between my lips.
“Just great,” I grumbled, kindling up a flame.

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