Fighting Hell

14 12 2009

You wake up one night,
dreaming a dream often seen
Reminding you of your sins,
the bursting anger under the seams

You wake up one night
sweating and short of breath,
The water reminds you of red blood,
and her merciless death

Your fear haunts you,
“Oh Lord”, a primal groan out of your throat
“Its the devils ploy…”,
Redemption is all you seek,
But its pain inside this decoy

You tread, and you still parley,
Playing with the gods in heaven,
so thoroughly beaten
You fight your own fight,
with the keepers of chances
and the devil’s evil prances

Glory you seek,
Oh Tears you shall get,
This air reeks
of the memories you want’a forget

Its the hell, the red dark hell,
this roads leads to…
You walk the high road,
with a glint of hope,
and a slight smile…
You brandish your sword,
Oh the devils you fend
Its your hopes they are after,
The dreams of glory you have seen
Dont falter lest you fall,
they’ll snatch everything sweet of yours
spitting your empty black soul…

A streak of madness

22 03 2008

You are only given a little spark of madness
You mustn’t lose it

-Robbie Williams

[continued from the previous post]I turned and took the road which led me out of the city. I didn’t look back; Just kept looking down [and in the way I very nearly killed myself by a bullock cart]

On the entire way down I kept walking, contemplating whats the issue with myself.🙂 Trust me! I didn’t find anything wrong. I let out a muted scream in my frustration and managed to scare the school kids away. Frustrations as they say! For a moment, I was almost close to breaking down, the next smiling and then the next talking animatedly with myself.🙂 It was crazy, I tell you.🙂

I kept on walking and I dont-know-when reached VGP Golden Beach. The lawns were well maintained, you know? Visited a chapel in between.It was SughJivam Holy Mother Church.Took a seat on one of the chairs, but how long could I stay silent?Unfortunately the Padre felt I was talking more to myself than the fellow up in the heavens, he saw towards me and gave a disapproving look. I grinned at him.

My next stop was half an hour later. I came cross a road which led itself to the sea shore. It was called the Sparkling Sands Avenue. Trust me for one moment, I forgot, that I was supposed to be frustrated. The pink flowers on the trees, the trees laden with beige leaves, the road ahead and the roaring, inviting sea ahead. I, for a moment felt, this is life.

I didn’t think twice. Took the road and walked down in the cool shades of the trees. The air was laden in a heady aroma of the spring flowers and the leaves rustled in the mischievous winds of the sea. For the next half an hour I spent drenching myself in the blue waters alongside the street urchins and the kids of the fishermen.

It was around 11.20, I guess… I kept on walking. I don’t know what all happened around me. Milestones came and went. Buses stopped and left. People kept on gesturing that the next bus will be soon, but I kept on walking. I don’t know. Lost in the thoughts of mine.
“Whats the problem with you dude?”
“I dont know”
“Tell me, what do you want?”
“I want… I … ”

Sholinganallur [dont try to read it even] was left long back. VGP was far behind. I walked around 11 kilometers from the last place I knew. I was still wondering.Uthandi [u-tan-di]. I was staring myself at an entire troop of policemen, searching for the god-knows-what-contraband.There I was, nonchalantly walked right under the very nose of all those SUV owners and salon drivers.

Uthandi Toll Plaza was half a kilometer away, and trust me, when I crossed the toll booth, the journey just got shorter. The road turned itself from a lifeless entity to a joyful merry life, tempting me to keep walking. The East Coast Road just got a life.

Image courtesy TNRDC

Image courtesy TNRDC

I kept walking and around 12.15 reached Muttukadu [mu-ttu-ka-du]. I sat on the bus stop and had a swig of the bottle. My first swig of water in the last three hours. The milestone said Chennai, 26 kilometers. I thought and then walked up and down the length of the shade, then thought again and for sometime I didnt think at all.
Then it came!
It was here, that I found my answer. It came as a dim ray of light and came flooding in when the realization dropped upon me. I understood what was the reason for my unease. I smiled, thinking it was so easy that it was right in front of me. I felt foolish and then grateful. I smiled, and the old man sitting beside me, flashed a toothy grin. I smiled even brighter, appreciating the beauty of the moment. Here I was 26 kilometers from Chennai, 17 kilometers of walk, tired, drenching my parched tongue with some water, a stranger sitting beside me flashing a toothy grin. It was surreal, let me tell you. I extended my right hand, the bottle in it-
“Tanni?” Water?
“Kurunge” Give.

I soaked in the nature around me. The wind was light. Breeze. Leaves rustled and birds cooed. I took the bottle, emptied it and carried onwards. The ECR got increasingly desolate with only two or three cars rush away at a time. The road ahead felt like curving away to entice me,tease me, with its beauty. Life couldn’t have been better. My legs had started to ache long back. But this was turning out to be a dominating mistress. And then a moment came, when I was all alone, not a single car, not a single life present. I looked back, looked ahead. Zilch. It was so lonely that I could hear my own footsteps, the calling of the birds and the roaring of the seas. I wondered if they can hear all these sitting inside their SUVs and Sedans.

Taj Fishermans Cove, Dakshina Chitra, Green Coconut Resorts…

Image courtesy dream chaser

and then Covelong , 29 kilometers from Chennai, 20 kms on foot. All left behind.

I walked on, 21 kilometers and counting till I reached a bend on the East Coast Road where the road ran parallel to the shore. And I mean dead parallel. From the grey tarmac you could see the horizon vanishing away, the catamarans drifting and at the midst of all, a guy sitting all alone on the scenic ECR facing the blue seas. Heaven!
Time 3:00 p.m 11th March 2008, 24 kilometers on foot, 28 kilometers from Chennai.

I reached home that evening and contemplated on the past two weeks. It was time to act. It was time to prove.
Today, I have joined office again, and doing things which I do the best. I am back doing things which I love doing , sort of back in my elements. Solve challenges, crack problems and reignite my desires . And in this entire process, I understood what I desire and I what I aspire.

Someday, inshallah, I will make this journey once again, only to relive these exciting times, those exciting days… that exciting moment, when I walked 24 kilometers from my office just on a bare whim.

The entire jouney can be found in my google map : here

Two weeks and the walk back to life

11 03 2008

I don’t know, how to start this. I don’t know do I even need to do this. Zilch. Nada. Sifar… I really don’t know.

Many of my friends, almost everybody were offended. I didn’t take up their calls, didn’t reply their mails. When they came in knocking, well they didn’t find anybody inside. Its not just with my friends, it was with my family too. Poor fellas. I didn’t take up the newspaper, no mails, no news, no sms, no nothing…. Nothing which I consume[non food of course]. No corporate mails too. I don’t know from where did the idea germinate. I really don’t know. I was lying on my bed, half-sleepy half-contemplating [ okay don’t ask me, how do I do this, I intend to scare my gfs away with this], then that idea came to me. It was more of a realisation.

“What am  I doing? God! what the hell am I doing”
[trying to sleep? one tiny voice said almost as if asking me]
[Shut up!]

“This sucks! This sucks man!Something is wrong!  I am…. I am..err… yeah… I am not happy, something is wrong! I got to fix this”
[yeah right!]
“Yeah.. I need to fix this”
[but whats wrong?]
[I dont know!, gotto figure it out]

And I don’t know how did the solution come to me, but it was weird. I looked at my cell to check out the time[the revelation hour], and I got pissed off.
No time. No contacts. No news. Nothing…. From now onwards, I don’t know till when maybe days/weeks/months, till I feel like coming back.I switched off my mobile.

The next day I got up[ imagine, if we didn’t have bio clocks] and set onwards to my office. The same slumping thoughts. F*** I hate them. As if all my life force was taken out from me. I thought, okay lets give it some time. In office, once I reached, I pulled out the jack to the server. Pfoof* . Kiss the broadband connectivity goodbye, baby… But wait!! I had to update my files to the common server. What about that… okay, I connected it back, but resolved, No Outlook, no Thunderbird, no Rediff, no Mozilla either.😦 No news, no sneek peak at newspapers too, no blogs[yeah that included the WordPress one too.] and I didnt carry my mobile at all.

Honestly for the first half an hour it felt awful. But you know what? I survived. In fact I started enjoying the solitude. Honestly [no doubt cave men were very satisfied fellas]

It went on. Till today. And honestly I didn’t find an end to the gnawing corrosive thoughts inside me. I was getting stagnant, almost devoid of any life force[ a la Calvin].

I got up pretty early today in the morning. Was good. Felt good[at last!] I dressed up and reached the road that leads to the office. Its where the auto wala leaves me, and I make the last two minutes of my walk.

Two minutes thats it! Just two minutes. Its such a small time. But still thoughts. The same thoughts came to me. I was getting stagnated. I had to solve it. Now and I mean right now!

I slowed down. The sea straight ahead was visible. I looked back.
“Chuck it! I am not going to office today”

I turned back, and was standing on the ECR road[read the wiki slug]which connects Chennai to Pondicherry along the Bay of Bengal coast.

I had the option. One side lead me to the city, the other out of it.

Authors note: Trust me, my family is still spooked out when I told them what I did today.

[Continued in the next part]

Left Behind (VI)

3 02 2008

And then one day, Jon stopped receiving any letters from Kenny. It stopped almost as suddenly it started. Montana for months after kept wondering, while watching the night sky, if Kenny finally found the world he wished for. Montana for the rest of his short life lived with this constant amazement and a gratefulness that fate had not been cruel to him.

In Kenny’s small apartment, there was a table which rested its one side with the window pane. It had something scratched out by a knife. In some ways it reminds me of a custom in prison, etching out ones deepest desires of freedom on its walls, so that the next person will have a bit more courage.

It was a simple sentence which read,

One day, gonna fly through this pane, to freedom.

Left Behind (V)

3 02 2008

$600 per month
6.00 am to 10.00pm

Kenny stared at the sign for a long time. Behind the shiny glasses of McDonalds, letters painted in yellow, gave him a way to start out once again. He had no social security number, no IRS, “no nothing”, as Mr. Stevens said, but McJobs are like that, often “no nothing” does equally well. Kenny realised his battle has started.

“So Mr. Richards, keep in mind, that I have got a business to run”, said Stevens
“Oh yes sir..absolutely, I will try my best to deliver”
“You better be good Mr.Richards, I am already running low on numbers”
“You will not be disappointed, Mr. Stevens”




“Grandpa, there is a letter for you”, yelled Samantha from her porch,
After a moment too long, Jonny arrived on the door.

“Jonny Montana?”, asked the young delivery boy, 18 hardly.
“Yeah it is”
“A letter from some Kenny Richards, sign here please”, handing over the pain to the old man.

“Old Bastard!”, muttered Montana excitedly. He took the knife and cut the envelope.

Dtd: 7th Jan 2008

Hello, Montana

Seasons greetings and a Happy New Year. How is life keeping you? And how is the young lady, Samantha. Tell her, she is beautiful and she will grow upto be a charming lady. And yeah, Montana… keep the log fire burning, it keeps you warm against the Northampton winds at this time of the year.

Hey, Jonny, thanks for that day, for comforting me in your home. In Ohio now. Today I received my first paycheque in as many years. I am working in the local McDonalds . Feels good you know. And yeah, before I forget, I have sent some money for you, keep them. The next time I am ‘broke’ I know where to look for.

Montana with his old hands pressed the edges of the torn envelope close and the mouth widened. Montana peered inside and found two hundred fifty dollars inside.

“Schmuck!”, he cursed. He read on

You know, its hilarous at times how the fellas at work handle the goofups I make. Once, a customer asked me for a Latte, I couldnt serve it fast enough. You know it was hilarious to see him, thumping and fuming. And crazy me, you know for a moment I got so startled, that the latte mug slipped. Poor guy, left cursing at us. [Thats another story, that Mr. Stevens was too upset.] But sometimes guys, whoops cant call them guys, gotto call them customers, Mr. Stevens insists. Yeah the customers are too harsh. There is this young girl, you know, 22 around ,works along with us. A guy came upto her, one day and asked for a burger. She just missed on serving sauce… and man! the noise that young punk created. Jenny almost was on tears. I walked upto her and told its okay, he is a punk. Jonny boy, you know it feels great to console somebody. Four decades of prison, numbs things you know. But I guess you should do it too. It feels good.

Lunch time is almost over. We get a long break of around 15 minutes. Really long, given that I dont eat much. They just allow us some pasta for lunch. But believe me, it finishes long time before our lunch breaks. And so we chit chat for some time. Thats the best time of my day. I like hearing to Jenny and May talking their heart out about trivial things. And there is a guy here, Chris. Poor fella, likes Jenny but she doesnt even give him a shit. Yeah, gotto run, boy…

Your friend,


Jonny felt helpless, in ways he couldn’t fathom. Kenny was just 6 years younger to him, yet had to work harder to keep himself going. A swift tug of luck here, a pull there and life becomes awry, he thought.

And to Jonny it was evident that McD store had the workers of Ohio mines as its loyal customers. People perennially in hurry, people rushing along to catch up with life. People to whom trampling on others didn’t look bad. And Kenny was fighting with his slow hands and weak vision. For the first time in as many years, Jonny felt an ocean of grief grip him.

Kenny as the days passed, got more and more distressed with the inhumanity of world around. And he seeked refuge in those letters which Johnny sent and loved talking about their old days, in his own. Anything as long as it didn’t talk about the present day.

Hey, Montana, Date: 15th Jan 2008

Received your letter just now, Yeah it does feel great to talk to old friends. And sort of it doesn’t seem all that great. You see, what I mean? All these years, down living in the death row, contemplating about when am I gonna go back, when can I start all over again, and all you get is this. Seems hilarious at times. Its sort of a joke gone awry. Each day, I prayed for freedom and at the end I am confused sort of,whether its all that fine with me.

Anyway, you remember, Dawson? He used to read a lot in his days. Loved his books… You know Montana, once he told me- “Kenny, when you set a bird free from its cage, you know what it does? It turns back” I couldnt understand why those birds do it. Now I can understand it. I am thinking a lot these days. But it feels awful. Cant say how awful it feels, boy.

Ohio these days seems to be a different place altogether. I never saw places like these before. And in ways, it tells me, how small I am in this universe. In jail, the story is different. The toughnuts even had that something when talking to me.

I just feel at times, how inadequate I am for these times. Only if I could stop this gnawing pain inside me.


Jonny often at times talked to Samantha about things like these, yet it was more of a catharsis act he was performing. Samantha understood Kenny’s pain and Montana’s helplessness, yet she herself could do even less. She reasoned with Montana, that this last battle, Kenny has to fight alone.

The letter often carried a sense of foreboding and almost always felt something heavy whenever Jonny received them. Jon often wondered if he poured his sorrows into his letters. Yes it did carry his longing for a humanity which slowed a bit and cared a little more, but he often sent his memories of the gone days along with his letters.

Kenny knew it too, and he felt he could understand what is going to happen next. But one lingering doubt in his heart stopped it from being a strong belief. He just bid his time.




Left Behind (IV)

30 01 2008

Kenny took one last breath of the Northampton air and took the bus to the life ahead. The local FM was on.

“These are good times, blue skies, dark nights,
baby… see that you take me, wherever you go.
Baby, see that you save me… a seat next to you”

Kenny let out a lonely smile come to his face, and looked at the arduous road ahead. On the way to Ohio, after 50 years and world just seemed too deliriously fast.
A Goth girl took the seat next to him, all black leather and and a small shiny silver-ish box on her lap and two white wires snaking up to her ears. To Kenny it seemed that she was tethering somewhere in between an orgasmic joy and a head jerking sickness. Kenny looked at her with all the amazement he could muster and the girl kept up at her devotion to her punk star. Suddenly the girl opened her eyes, conscious of a gaze on her. But Kenny couldn’t help.

“You got a problem, Mister? “
It took a fraction of a moment more for Kenny.
“Noh, I was just…”
“Didn’t see a girl before, old man?”

Kenny just smiled at himself and for a moment felt lucky he has been left behind.

“Its okay, don’t mind” , letting a friendly smile do its job.

“Kenny! “, yelled Scott from the road.One more shout and Kenny appeared on his porch, and let a short sharp whistle reach out to Scott. It’s summer in Ohio, and surfing was the best thing a teenager could do. Kenny put on a blue tee on his lanky body, and hopped in his bike. He didn’t have a surfboard. But he loved seeing Scott roll on his board. Sometimes, he would surf on Scott’s blue board and imagine himself touching the blue sky. He loved when the white waves took him along, threw him on another one. And he imagined himself as a conqueror, riding on the blue board, dressed in blue tees, making his way through the blue roaring waves.

“Hey man! wake up!, Ohio is here”, a huge burly guy called Kenny.

Kenny for a moment disoriented, instantly feeling the burden of 60 years.

“Ohio, is it?”
“Yeah man! wake up… hurry along ol’ man”
“Thanks, just managed a shuteye”
A song seemed to be blaring out of radio.

I always knew that I liked this place
You don’t have to look too far
to find a better living place
I feel life while walking down its street

Kenny rubbed the sleep and the waves away from his eyes and got down of the bus.The song of the road seemed to fade away,

The world keeps spinning round and round
this is where all those comes down down, down
Say I love this town, oh yeah I love this town

Kenny had to find Lana and his life again. Ohio was bigger than Northampton, and more dreadful. Kenny found himself strangely disoriented and afraid seeing the skyscrapers and the unending milieu ahead.

“You know what, Richards, why these guys serving time over here feel tough to move back into that world. Its all because, they are somebody out here, boy. He has got friends, he believes he has got a sense of belonginglyness.”

“You mean belongingness”

“Yeah, belonginglyness. Out there nobody knows him, and everybody has forsaken him for good”

“Al , dear ol’ Al “, and he let out a smirk come upto his face. That winter, Al was killed trying to escape. It was a bad plan gone awry. But for the sheer will for freedom, Al almost made it to the compound wall. The next day, even police couldnt identify his face for sure.He jogged his memory, and tried to remember the way to his home. Took another bus and reached the ranch. It was a huge ranch even in those days. But a whole lot many houses have popped up, almost as if sprayed randomly across the panorama. Kenny hobbled his way to the outhouse. With what seemed, Lana has moved away. Or passed away. He went downhill to the nearest neighbor around 600 feet away. Maslows, read the nameplate. He wagered it will be a perfect American family.

He went upto their porch , but hesitated a long time. He stepped forward on the porch to ring the bell, once and took a step back. Hands, tucked inside his pants, betraying apprehension and hesitation from every pore of his body. A young lady, of around 24, opened the door.

“Hello…”, Kenny in his best pleasing tone, that forty three years as a jailbird allowed.

“… I was looking for the Richards family, was just wondering if you know anything about them. Remember the Richards lady, Lana”

” Ohh, yeah… they used to live uphill”, quickly adding seeing the lady change her face from suspicious to puzzled.

The lady’s face instantly seem to lit up.

“Uh huh… the Richards family I see. But dont know much about them. Soon after their elder son, got acquitted, the Richards elders died. With some Lana Gabors still living there till we came, she passed away soon after. She had a son, Mike. A hopeless chap, must say….”

“… Wait a minute, are you a friend of theirs or something like that, didnt you fellas keep in touch?… ” added the lady seeing the hopeful face of Kenny go dead with despair.

” No, nothing like that, I am Kenny, cousin of Lana”

“Aah I see… Kenny… Oh my God!, is it Kenny Richards? The Kenny Richards, the Monster of Northampton?”, her face become horror stricken, yet a faint sense of doubt remained, to see the monster in such a humbling form. Yet instincts are what drives us. She slammed the door shut on Kenny’s face.

Kenny, dejected, started out on the uphill road and when he reached, Kenny gave one last look to his home, and took the long ride back to Ohio.


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Left Behind (III)

30 01 2008

Present day, 2008

“So, Richards, this is the moment, then”. The Warden mouthed as he half-expectedly waited for something profound to come out, from the man.

A nod. Eyes downcast, a silver beard and a frail frame. Forty three years of jail has given him a lot of things to carry home. Forty three years in death row has taken away, too. Now he walks with a slight bent back, and eyes devoid of any life. Lt. Evans flanking him, handed over his belongings, and a pen.

Kenny took that in unsure hands and signed away an identity taken from him long back.

“Mr. Franklin, all these years, I prayed for my freedom. Now I am not sure if I prayed for the right thing” Kenny said, with his eyes half misty and half reminiscent.

“Its okay,Richards, you will do just fine”, said the Warden, glancing at Evans, unable to look towards Kenny.

Kenny Richards, 63, walked out of the Northampton County Jail on that day. A blue denim shirt, a gray loafer and had all been what he took. He glanced back at what had been his home for so long. Franklin looked from his window, two stairs up, slightly puffing his cigar. The Warden for one fleeting moment, felt that he was looking at him through his rheumatic eyes. And then Kenny turned back trying his best to pace with the life ahead but then he was gone.

Kenny faltering steps fell unsure on the new world. Everything seemed to change. World suddenly seemed to be a distant place and its people all of a sudden indifferent. Al these years, Kenny felt a mortal fear. Today for the first time he felt a fear of being alone.He remembered all his friends, his family, his sister and Tina. His eyes got misty and a drop of tear rolled down from his left cheek. Ohio was far, but he has got to make one final trip. Who knows, his cousin Lana may be still there.

Northampton, it was, even 43 years back. Today it looked to him as the entire world has moved leaving him behind. But Kenny wagered, Montana won’t change. He will be still the same man, even 43 years after, if he is alive. He walked to the downtown part of the town, looking for his old pal. Yet each time a car zoomed past him, it gave him shivers. He cursed, he muttered, he whispered but still it took him more than the old Richards to walk in this town.

“Yes, may I help you?”, a petite girl of 16 years opened the door to Kenny.

“Young lady, is it where Montana lives?”

“Montana? No..nobody lives by that name here…”

“Who is it Samantha?”, a voice frail and withered with the ravages of time spoke from inside.

“Dunno, grandpa, somebody asking for Montana”, replied the girl half-unsure and half-concerned.

A frail figure hobbled from inside, with a stick held tentatively in his hand. The stick seemed to cling to him, yet the old man seem to despise it. Kenny for a moment prayed for the ghost of a chance.

“Jonny Montana is it? ” Kenny’s tone suddenly a lot more hopeful and expectant.

“Yeah boy, it is. This is Montana”, Montana’s voice betraying the surprise and joy of an unexpected company.

“This is Kenny, Montana… remember me?” Kenny smiled, Montana’s fading eyes lit up.

“Its a long story Montana, they have taken 43 years of my life. I served time for something I never did. And each day I passed as my last. Jonny boy its horrible “. Kenny took a sip of Earl Grey and managed a sniffle. Montana nodded.

“I understand Kenny, life had been unfair. You cant fret over it now, Kenny. You got a second chance boy, live it”, Montana assured the defeated man, and assuaged some more.Kenny seemed to understand.

“Maybe I will, stay back in Ohio, Jonny. My nephew must be a big man now. Wonder what he does for a living. Lets see, what can I do up there.”

“Montana I needed some money… to go home”, hesitating words from a proud Kenny. Kenny sighed in his heart what all his sentence has taken from him.

“… you see the nickels and pences of those years don’t go these days.” Kenny spoke with a embarrassed smile.

“Yeah, yeah Kenny boy. I always borrowed from you, didn’t know you would remember those things all these years”, said Montana with a toothy grin.

“Wait.. let me get you some”



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