Sunsets

He walked barefoot because the gravel felt like acupressure against his broken, aching soles. Even the occasional pebble’s jab did not bother him much, because by now, pain had started to feel like a relative, that kept visiting even if you kept changing residences to avoid them.
He smiled to himself as he reached the end of the cliff and looked to his right. “Well? This is it eh Fluff?”, he addressed an imaginary dog that had already met its untimely demise a few days earlier.
The late-evening sun from this vantage point looked glorious.
Instead of jumping immediately like he’d intended to, he groaned involuntarily, as he bent and sat down at the edge, letting his tired legs hang out down the side of the cliff.
Looking at nothing in particular he tried to reflect on what had happened over the week but at that point, he drew a blank, as if the walk had drained him of memories as much as energy.
Oh well. It didn’t matter, did it. He was already here.
He pressed one tense hand to the ground behind him, as if to no longer postpone the final task he’d set for himself when he heard a loud “Woof!”.
Turning around to see the source of the sound, he saw a snowy mass bounding up to him and halting at his side. He watched puzzled at this white pup with wide eyes staring back at him with what seemed to be equal bewilderment. After a few seconds, it nuzzled the hand he’d placed on the ground and sat next to him. Still surprised, he patted the now resting pup and relaxed. The soft coat under his palm quivered gently and steadied.
He sighed and looked at the sun again.


It hadn’t set just yet.

Bhagavad Gita …As it was

A post on a book club group on Facebook about the book “Bhagavad Gita As it Is” triggered this memory and I wanted to “pen” it down while I still remembered it –

I don’t care much for religious scriptures anymore except for the mythological offerings that are still very interesting (pardon the harsh tone and read on 😅 ) but I have one memory associated with this book that stands out. We had a quiz contest in school that I was a part of (because my teacher no doubt thought – “This guy is good in Spoken English. Must be good at interpreting scriptures as well.”) . Anyway, I turned out to be surprisingly decently smart about it and learnt enough for the quiz and our team made it to the semi finals (?) where we got weeded out but were sitting in the audience like sheep on a farm looking at birds flying in the sky. 😕

The one consolation was that all of us in the audience had team-based-numbers i.e. one number per team and the quizmaster called out a team number at random when the finalists couldn’t answer a question, to see if the audience teams could. The questions rolled on and on one of them, they ended up calling our number. We were overjoyed. “Oh, we’re going to ROCK this chance”, we thought and started high fiving each other walking down to the podium. I still remember the question (albeit vaguely) they re-read out for our benefit ‘coz in our happiness, we realized we hadn’t paid attention to any part of it except the Number-calling. The question was “What did King Ambarish do with his own hands that proved him to be very humble?” ….Or something to that effect – it’s been 18 years .We blinked at each other. We had no clue.Well, I stepped up and decided, he was a King, so he’d go big or go home..Right? I cleared my throat and confidently spoke into the mic – “Uhh…He Cut off his hands.” . The quizmaster looked at me like they were justified in not passing us through to the finals but were also surprised that we, these ignorant worms, made it till the semis. But they politely said – “No…no…He CLEANED the temple with his own hands.”. I was stumped but put on a brave face and walked back, this time not looking at my friends.

I walked back with my head held high…like a King.

On my own legs.

Apparently just actions as simple as those also count as huge achievements for one. Right?

Ants

I don’t know anything about ants

On my kitchen platform sits a steel plate. This is not the permanent position of said plate. It has been placed there only temporarily and at the time was for the purposes of holding something that will be described in the very next para.

The steel plate, last night, was filled with some quantity of water, perhaps to the 75% mark and squarely in the center of the circular plate sat a plastic container which housed, as of that moment, 2 Gulab Jamuns.

It was 1 AM and I found myself at the crossroads of DecisionLand. On the one hand, there was the healthy, sane option of brushing my teeth, drinking a glass of warm water and going to bed at (what is now considered) a reasonably early hour. On the other, there was the far more tempting, but highly detridental option of tiptoeing to the kitchen and gorging on the gulab jamuns that had been procured earlier that evening. Why, you may ask, must an adult tiptoe in the comfort of his own home. But this is the vice of a habit developed by an individual who has been a minor for some years longer than he has been a legal adult.

Anyway, I found myself in the kitchen with my hand on the plastic container before the results of thorough deliberation were out. And it is at this point that I noticed One ant. A lone warrior, clinging to the side of this container and if it had eyes that I could spot, possibly they would have been full of focus waiting for this precise moment when a human would come and unblock its way to what-it-had-no-doubt smelt its way to – sweet, divine ant-treasure. I wondered how it had made its way across the body of water in the plate but did not linger much on it. Meanwhile, evident that things had not gone the way the Warrior Ant had planned, it darted in the direction opposite the cover sensing perhaps that I had spotted it before the cover was opened. For good measure, I lifted the box out of the “pool” and decided to open it held in my hands, away from a place of familiarity to the Warrior, who had by now dropped into the water below. And it is at this point, that I noticed an extremely disturbing sight. Close to 20 more ants lay scattered in the water, some hidden from view by the box that was now in my hands, and some in plain sight that I had simply not seen. These were Warriors who had not made it to the Holy Jamun Land :O My mind at this time was racing with multiple thoughts, some for the Fallen Warriors, some about the box in my hand. What if the Warrior was just the last one who was about to enter the box and many had already succeeded and were now already partaking of its contents? What would I see when I opened the box?

I stood in silence for a few seconds contemplating the possibilities. It was probably a lesser duration than I exaggerate at this point, but the thoughts were there. “Let’s assume that the worst has not happened”, I thought, “and that this singular Warrior was the only one to make it. “. How did he (not necessarily, might have been a Wonder Womant as well, but for the purposes of this anecdote) make it? Had there been a plan of attack? Was this the leader of the troop? Had the army decided that it would be sufficient if one mant made it, for the greanter good? Was this the ant version of a heist? Did ants have heists? I’d learnt in the few minutes that I’d concentrated in my biology classes back in school that there was fierce collaboration in ant colonies, but was this a part of it?

I moved closer to the platform and looked again at the fallen Warriors….Noble souls, one and all. They drifted there…unaware of their sacrifice’s futility. I placed the box on the side and sadly emptied the contents of the plate into the sink. This was the order of Nature and I was a cold blooded ant disposer 😦 I refilled the contents of the plate with some more water than before, making the moat a little harder to wade than before …My heart wept for the sacrifices to come as I thought about the next batch of Warrior Ants that would indulge in the pursuit of sweet fortunes..And my mind decided. No more.

There would be no more mindless sacrifices. No more Ant drownings.

Not on my watch.

I opened the box and popped the last two Jamuns in my mouth.

Time to brush and go to sleep.

Fan

The fan hung lazily and looked at the other occupants of the room – A lamp, a table, a chair and a human. The human seemed lost in thought. And he didn’t seem like he would be getting off the chair anytime soon. Which meant the fan wouldn’t have to move anytime soon either. That was a relief. It sighed noiselessly. As its eyes drifted from one wing to another looking at through its limited, yet relatively broad perspectives, it got a different angled view of the room everytime. It wondered what the human was thinking about. He didn’t seem to do much at all. He always sat there for most of the day, except to get up and look through a slit in the door and yell at a passerby (what what could be made out) – the fan had learnt a lot of what we humans take for granted, purely by observing and listening over the time it had hung around in the room since its time of installation. Two years . Had it only been that long? It had spun so much, that it felt a bit more woozy everytime. And maybe it was imagining things but it seemed to be descending a bit more of late. Oh well. The mind, even a metallic one can play tricks on you if you’re as dizzy as you were after tens of minutes of spinning.
It jerked out of its reverie as the man got up from his chair.
“Oh boy. Here we go again”, it thought to itself.
He walked up to the only switch on the wall and turned it on.
Slowly, the fan began to spin. 30 rpm….60 rpm…130 rpm…200 rpm..All the way upto its maximum set 350 rpm. The fan felt breathless at this point. It wasn’t a new sensation, but this time, it felt a bit more breathless than usual. It gave in and tried to become one with the spin.
But something…something was wrong.
The stem gave way and jerked away from the ceiling, tipping to one side first and within the fan could realize it, the cable connecting it to the ceiling Snapped and it spun at an angle, into the air, in an arc and towards the unsuspecting man.
The fan closed its eyes as it unintentionally sliced the man’s head clean in two and crashed into the wall opposite his seat just above the table.
It tried to open its eyes…No..eye..The other eye seemed to be missing. And it realized that it had no sensation anywhere else. But it didn’t matter.
The spinning had stopped.

PS – Please don’t be alarmed. This is only …a fan fiction….😂🧐 I’m sorry for the nightmares.

A Wednesday Evening

I sat down on the pavement facing the sunset and opened up the Parle-G packet. There must have been others who followed the crackling opening of the cover with the subsequent sating of his hunger , for he bounded up to me from nowhere at the sound.

Unexpected but welcome, the visitor padded the ground next to my feet and looked in turn at me and the yellow cover in my hand. I held one of the biscuits out in front of him and he bit at it from my hand pausing right at the intersection between my fingers and the biscuit. He waited eagerly and yet patiently, while I had one as well.

We repeated the activity till the cover had been deprived of its contents entirely. 10 minutes? 15 minutes? 20? I’d lost track. I patted the top of his head gingerly and he reciprocated with a gentle nuzzle against my palm.

The light drowning us by now was artificial. The sun had set.

I is for Ignored [#AtoZChallenge]

“Whoaaaaaaa”, he yelled, a sound only he could hear. One second he saw the clear blue skies and in the very next, an expansive patch of brown mud and this pattern repeated as he rose into an arc and his ascent slowed to a halt and then he descended in the same topsy-turvy fashion with increasing velocity before crashing onto a rough surface that was immediately engulfed in darkness. He blinked. He could see nothing for what seemed like ages, but heard muffled voices in a tongue he’d come to understand in bits and pieces – some words more familiar than others. He’d learnt a lot of things over the years. He knew his name was what his handlers called “fifty paisa” , but he was always spoken about carelessly, it seemed, with lesser reverence than others of his kind.

“Heads”, he heard someone call out. And he knew his outing for the day was almost done. A brief glimmer of sunlight when one of the voices would whoop and the other would groan (he’d come to distinguish these sounds over time as well). And back into the recesses of a velcro covered, stifling enclosure he’d go with the rest of his species for company – who didn’t say much but sometimes brushed against him involuntarily. 

He closed his eyes and waited for the familiar scrape of velcros indicating his nap-time. But it never came. Instead, today, he found himself being slipped in a crevice of sorts lined with material he was unfamiliar with. He fell and waited for a landing but he kept slipping further down, grazing a surface, rolling slightly and falling through another hole of sorts for a duration only slightly lesser than the time it had taken him to down the arc moments earlier. “Thump”, he fell face down on something hard and dusty. He whimpered. Again, no one heard him. He waited for some agent to retrieve and return him to his familiar surroundings. No one came. He kept waiting even as dust settled on his side that faced the skies. Once in a while he felt enormous pressure on his backside, but it was always a hurried application that was immediately lifted. Initially he mistook those events to be rescue missions. But they weren’t and he stayed where he was.

After a while, he felt something he hadn’t felt in a long time. He felt akin to what we would describle as …moist. “Patter”. “Patter”. “Patter”. The sound accompanying the object that caused the wetness kept hitting him and eventually he felt himself rising slowly. From his vantage point, all he could see was the surface he had been lying on but from a slight height through a medium he could not explain, but it wasn’t clear. Now this surface seemed to be moving and him along with itself. He felt himself being rocked gently initially – back and forth – and then the surface began pushing him. He kept moving for a while and then fell sharply. Another thump. This time he’d fallen face-up so he could see the new gap he’d fallen from – one among a series of adjacent gaps. By now, the skies had cleared up so he could see the skies but the view was punctuated uniformly by the surface above.

He sighed in resignation. As he felt the moisture slowly abandoning him, so did hopes of his being rescued this time.

Not that it mattered to anyone.

D is for Doodh* [#AtoZChallenge]

Padma sat by the window reading “Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix” for what was probably the fifteenth time. She’d already binged through Goblet of Fire. When she reached the chapter “Silver and Opals”, she looked up for the first time in three hours and out the window. The road outside was empty save for a cat that was scratching the neighbor’s door on the other side. “What if that were Minerva McGonagall?”, Padma thought to herself and chuckled, amused. She decided to give herself a break, leaned against the wall adjoining the window and closed her eyes, her mind buzzing with thoughts of Voldemort taking over Harry’s dreams and wondering if she might fall victim to that too, if she fell asleep just then. She’d just closed her eyes when the doorbell rang. “Now? Really?”, she muttered and made her way unwillingly to the front door. She peered through the peephole cautiously, but there was no one in sight. She slowly opened the door and heard a shuffling noise at her feet. It was the cat she’d seen, trying to nudge past her legs and into the house. Before she could make sense of the situation, it had already made a dash for the living room and paused at the edge of a straw mat by the poojai room. Padma, still bewildered looked outside one last time before she closed the door and wondered who had rung the doorbell. Surely, it wasn’t the cat?! She shook her head. The doorbell mystery could wait. There was a stray cat in her living room. She frowned and stared at her intruder who had by then decided that the mat was an enemy and must be destroyed. Padma meanwhile, had gathered her wits and gently started tiptoeing towards the cat; although what she would do once she approached it, she hadn’t thought about just yet. The cat was still pawing away at the mat, its concentration unwavering. Padma was now within petting distance from it. Now came the almighty question. What was she going to do? What could she do? Shooing it would only drive it deeper inside her house. She couldn’t just pick it up and take it outside her house.. could she? No, that was out of the question. For starters, she had no idea How to lift a cat. What if it scratched her face? No. That was out of the question. As she pondered, she slowly sat down behind the cat. Now she was level with its tail and just looking at it with a vacant expression, head tilted to a side, unable to decide what to do next. Meanwhile, the cat, who had evidently felt an alien presence around it, stiffened and looked around and with a loud and startled miaow backed a couple of steps away from Padma, who was equally startled by the feline shriek. Both looked at each other, the cat with its paws slightly lifted, ready to flee and the human with her hands behind her on the floor, a confused expression across her face. The human acted first. She raised her hands , in an expression of resignment and surrender and mouthed, “Okay, calm down. I am not going to hurt you”, even as a voice in her head said “You are talking…to a cat.”. Another voice in her head said “Yeah, what if it doesn’t know English?”. Padma chuckled for the second time that day having amused herself again. She shook her head again. “This is not the time, Padma.”, she thought and began inching away from the cat. Slowly, she got up and walkedto the kitchen, all the while watching the cat through the corner of her eye. “I might as well get you some milk”, she called out, still aware that her visitor probably didn’t understand the noise that the owner of the house was making. She heated up a bowl of milk to a moderate temperature, took the bowl and placed it cautiously at the edge of the now-somewhat-worse-for-the-wear mat. The cat looked up at Padma with wide eyes and then at the bowl of milk still not moving from its position. She took the cue and backed away. This prompted it to approach the bowl and sniff its contents. Satisfied, it dipped its tongue into the milk and started lapping it up, its eyes initially on Padma and eventually on the contents of the bowl. It must have been really hungry, for it finished drinking within a matter of minutes and placed a foot on the bowl when it found that there was no more milk to drink. It looked up at a smiling Padma, who was glad that her offering had been so well accepted. “Do you want more?”, she enquired, not really expecting a response. Those expectant eyes were answer enough and she went back to the kitchen area to heat up some more milk. This time however, the cat followed her and began poking at the slippers she had left at the entrance of the kitchen. She refilled the bowl and placed it again, this time closer to the cat that did not inch away, but was looking intently as the bowl moved from human to floor. The pace at which the bowl was emptied this time was even quicker, but it evidently sated the cat’s hunger, for it did not look up again at Padma, but moved towards its favorite torn-up mat and lay down. She heated up a glass of milk, this time for herself, picked up the Harry Potter book from near the window and sat next to the cat. She took a sip of milk and opened the page to Silver and Opals and started reading out loud, a gentle palm on the cat’s head – “Where was Dumbledore, and what was he doing?…”. She paused. “What was Dumbledore doing, Minerva?”, she addressed the cat, took another sip of milk and smiled.

(* Doodh is the Hindi word for Milk. The idea here is to convey the ease with which bonds are formed between a human and animal with something as simple as a glass of doodh. There’s no deep meaning here. It’s just a day in the life of a person, that took a minor surprising turn, but ended up being a pleasant experience in the end.)

B is for Bangalore [#AtoZChallenge]

It was a bright summer (already?) day and I was in high spirits. And why not? I'd woken up early and on a Monday no less! Surely that was a sign of a good day? I left home to go to work at 8.45 AM as intended (but seldom carried out. Not today though. Another good sign). I got my vehicle out and was greeted by the familiar sound of the woman who comes everyday to take out the trash. This person who has no need to be on time has more sense of punctuality than the so-called skilled workers that we're dubbed to be. I greeted her in the usual fashion as I do on the days that I'm able to match her time. The ride to the Metro station was uneventful and that in itself was pleasant. I saw the usual sights - vegetable peddlers idly pedalling away on their cycles to get to their usual circuits, no doubt. Shopkeepers chatting with each other as they opened the shutters to their shops ; some early birds had begun their ritual of praying to their gods for a good day of business. Familiar, pleasant sights. I smiled to myself as I continued riding leisurely. I was on time, there was no need to rush.
I reached the Metro station on the dot and proceeded to go to my usual platform. The train was due at 9.03 AM. I had to wait for just a little over a minute and it arrived at the scheduled time. I got in and continued reading a book from where I'd left it last night. As I immersed myself in Nonoguchi's account of the murder that had taken place, I happened to overhear two particularly loud gentlemen. My attention shifted from the book to them and their conversation, quite inadvertently. They seemed well over 50 and with relaxed expressions on their faces. One of them remarked - "Houdu saar, ivag Bengaluru tumbaa change aag bittide" [Oh yes sir, Bangalore (I still prefer the anglicized version of the name) has changed a lot nowadays]. I felt a faint hint of a smile cross my lips as I recalled similar conversations between my dad and his friends. I continued listening, this time with conscious attention, not with the express intent of eavesdropping, but only with curiosity to hear what He felt had particularly changed and hoped he would expound on his statement. He did. He went on to talk about how his children would no longer partake in his interests of taking early Sunday breakfast trips to Brahmin's Bar (an old hotel establishment in Gandhi Bazaar known for its tasty Idly, vada and chutney offerings), but instead woke up late and preferred to order in pizzas from "Dominicos". I chuckled. But I also felt slightly offended by the generalization that he offered that the entire current generation were guilty of what his children had reportedly done the previous day. He went on to rant about how "Pensioner's paradise", as Bangalore was once referred to, was now ridden with modern day incomplete infrastructure and how the number of parks had drastically reduced. I, with no knowledge of the past he was talking about, could only  look on and wait for him to enlighten me (unknown to him) further. At this point however, the person he had been talking to, who had up until this point, been nodding along, finally spoke up. He mentioned the glory days too, but he also had good things to say about the importance of change and how things were not all that bleak - they were in fact travelling by a modern construction that Was the Metro. The voice on the overhead speaker had meanwhile been periodically calling out the stations the train was stopping at and it was time for me to alight at Nadaprabhu Kempegowda station (Majestic). The first gentleman I'd been listening to looked at me as he stood up from his seat, to get down and I smiled at him mentally thanking him for the conversation I had been a part of as well. He confusedly smiled back at me out of courtesy.
As I waited for the train from Majestic to Indiranagar, I found myself thinking about the conversation and about my city. I had lived here for almost my entire life and yet I had not formed that much of a bond with it as the older generation had. No doubt, they had had more time with the city than I did, but surely, close to three decades is a long enough time? I pondered a little longer. The fact that the pace at which things had changed was probably more rapid in my time than theirs was probably a factor that contributed to the limited nostalgia. That and the innumerable other distractions - the virtual world being one of them. Then I remembered the Defence Accounts quarters I'd played in as a child, with friends I was no longer in touch with. I remembered the long walks I'd eagerly been on there to get to the library that had been torn down to make way for a gym of sorts. I even remembered the scary cycle rides through the deluge of vehicles to get to "Sandarshini" hotel just because I favored the sambar there over other closer hotels. I remembered the weekly trips to the Sai Baba mandir and the echoing chants of prayers that subsequently took place. I remembered the number of times I'd shown my school diary to autodrivers after school because I had not yet committed my new residential address to memory. I'd tried to pay attention to the routes they took, admittedly unsuccessfully.
I realised I did have memories of my city after all. As the train arrived at Majestic and I got on, the glimpses of the shops and the familiar sights on the road on the way to the Metro station rose to the surface of my mind. Weren't they memories in the making as well?  🙂

A is for Adieu [#AtoZChallenge]

He stood at the back of the crowd, not wanting to be a part of it, not wanting to talk to anybody. Everyone had varied emotions on their faces – sadness, indifference, even joy? But they were probably happy about something else, surely. A funeral was not really place that induced happiness, even if it was for someone who was your mortal enemy. And Vincent liked to think he hadn’t made any enemies in his lifetime; well, none that would attend his funeral anyway. It was an odd feeling, to linger around, incorporeally, within spitting distance of his own physical body. It was also funny, in a sense. When he had been alive, he had often wondered what people really thought of him. A deep sense of insecurity and cynicism had always shrouded him in social settings and he’d always questioned if any of what was happening around him was real. If the way people spoke, the things they said, if any of it was genuine. He had heard a tale as a child, of a king, who would often disguise himself and wander around his kingdom as a commoner, just to find out what his people thought of him as a person. And Vincent had been very taken with the idea. But it wasn’t practical obviously. And now that he was dead, but lingering in spirit, he was doing the very thing he’d always wanted to do. Well, it wasn’t the same. There was nothing he could do with whatever he learnt, but it was…something. So he leaned against the wall behind him and listened. “He was such a friendly person, always ready to help”, a woman sniffed. Vincent inadvertently smiled. Of course he’d always helped Julia. His only regret was that he’d never asked her out like he’d wanted to. “Really?”, Archie exclaimed, “He was always busy whenever I asked for help!”. Hmph. Archie had been such an annoying person. Vincent had, for the longest time, out of the kindness of his heart, always picked up the phone whenever his classmate, Archie had called, even after graduation. But it seemed after a point, that Archie had always required help, maybe a little too much. And eventually, he, Vincent had stopped answering Archie’s calls. He could hardly be faulted for that. He got tired. “What about all the times I Did help you Arch?”, Vincent muttered to himself. In another corner of the room, John and James were laughing away. “I know right!”, John guffawed, “What was he thinking putting him on as striker?”. Vincent rolled his eyes. He wondered why they’d come. Maybe they’d just seen this as more as a way to catch up and less of a scene for paying respects. His eyes wandered around the room as he saw other familiar faces, and some unfamiliar ones. The air grew silent as the priest slowly stepped up to the pulpit and called for the eulogy. He watched his sister, Mary slowly walked up, ashen faced. She had undoubtedly been crying. Vincent watched as Mary spoke about her version of his life. How he had been the best brother ever. “Thanks for lying, Mary”, Vincent thought. They had been close as children, but had drifted apart as adults, only ever meeting for the holidays. But still, those days Had been fun. He continued to watch as Mary finished her speech and his best friend, Tom took her place. Tom’s tone was less bleak. Trust Tom to liven things up even at a funeral. He even told them about an embarassing incident that had taken place during college that they’d sworn they’d take to the grave. Well, a promise broken eh Tom?

The ceremony ended and people were beginning to say their goodbyes. First, to Vincent’s body in the casket and then to each other. As he saw them leaving, his thoughts went back to the final moments before life had left his body. He never saw the car coming till that last second when he did. His whole life had flashed before his eyes like in the movies. Or had that been the headlights of the car? Why hadn’t he felt any pain? Why wasn’t he given the chance to fight for his life? ….Would he have fought though? He didn’t know. Now it all seemed pointless anyway.

He sighed deeply. Is this how death was supposed to feel? … Hollow? Then again, why should death be any different than life? He smiled to himself at the grim thought and slowly walked out of the church with his hand raised high and waving adieu to an imaginary crowd behind him. Everyone else had already left.

Leafy

1_Zie6FalzvkQh48sG-eEQOQ.jpeg

Blue Leafy flew…guided by the breeze that propelled him over the heads of the people that constituted the busy road. He flew even higher and further for a few seconds as he reached the chimney of the restaurant at the end of the road, then he descended..softly landing at the base of what he saw was the arc of a three-dimensional rubber surface. “This is it”, he thought, “This is how it all ends.”.

He had heard tales of these circular rubber beings trampling over his brethren ending their lives. They who were powerful as long as they stayed affixed to their host fathers, the Trees, were immediately at the mercy of every external agent, once disconnected. And he had heard of their merciless endings — crushed, shredded, ripped up. Some got lucky, of course. They ended up in the warm confines of these mysterious, loved cages called “books” as…”bookermarks”, he decided they were called. But he was wise beyond his years and he knew that even these safe-keepers were themselves descendants of his original caretakers, the Trees.

As he lay there, breathing in heavily and feeling the heat Mr RubberArc near by was radiating silently, he thought of many things. He thought of how it had all come to this, as he knew was the norm. When the end was near, Leaves must think of how it all came to this. And so he thought….

He thought of how even as a baby leaf, he was always the rebel, growing at the edge of Uncle Branch. All the other leaves were free to nestle up closer to Father Bark, but he would stand out — blue instead of green like the rest, he’d decided…err..even though it had sort-of been decided for him. And he thought about how once the evil Mr. Monkien had jumped up and down on Uncle Branch and even threatened to harm him! But his life had not ended then as their friendly visitor Winden had blown Monkien away.

But one incident stood out. It was when a huge metal blob had come out of nowhere and slammed squarely onto the torso of Father. And Father had let out a huge big roar of pain. But he had stood there and taken the brunt of the damage and save for Uncles Chip and Twig (may they wither in peace), the rest of the family was safe. Leafy would later learn that the metal blob was called a “Kaar” and it was intoxicated with some sort of liquid called “Petrol”. Of course, all of these was alien to Leafy and he did not care about things that did not cause him harm. The only liquid (pfft, of course, he knew about liquids — Paati Maramamma next door had yelled out the concepts to him and his siblings, when they were little. Sadly she had mysteriously reduced to a stump one day and Leafy’s lessons had ended there.) he cared about was “Water”, a rejuvenating drink he drank everytime the skies above grew dark and Winden grew very,very loud.

As he remembered these things, he was jerked to reality by the growing vibration of RubberArc and he muttered a silent goodbye to everyone, a goodbye he knew Winden would pass along. RubberArc was moving forward and suddenly came to a halt in sync with the shriek Leafy heard. Someone was moving swiftly towards him and before he knew it, he was being lifted and examined by a pair of glass panes….”Papa! Look! A blue leaf!”, the voice exclaimed. That was the last thing he heard before he passed out.

When he awoke he felt a strange, calming warmth and a gentle rustle on the tip of his head. He also noticed that he was propped up at a strange angle before he registered the fact that he wasn’t dead after all.

He was one of the lucky ones.