Epitaph

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An intense song by King Crimson. It’s lyrics should be pondered upon…

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Life.

I am writing after so long that the feel of my laptop’s keys seem unfamiliar to my fingertips. I am making a lot of typos, pressing ‘t’ instead of ‘y’ and writing ‘og’ instead of ‘of’. The layout of the laptop which was ingrained into my muscle memory now feels cold and foreign to my touch.

My head is stuffed with questions and answers; answers which ignite more questions and the cycle continues to spin around and around and around until my mind feels it has been through the spin cycle of a cranky old washing machine.

The month of December 2014 was a nightmare; for me, for my family, for my friends and for my countrymen. Illness, blood, violence, loss; both loss of life and material, followed me like a perverted shadow. I went through a phase of extreme procrastination and depression. Even music, my saviour, lost its charm; King Crimson started to make me physically sick. I have already talked about my phases on my blog and those who are my loyal readers will know.

Oh, my loyal readers! Half the reason I did not start writing again was due to my shame of facing those I had forgotten about. How I had made friendships and left those sweet people hanging, never even reading or contemplating on their own words of woe. For that, I am very sorry.

Every time I return to the world of writing after an unannounced hiatus, I promise my readers I’ll continue writing regularly now. But this time, I will not make another hollow promise. I may not return to the world of WordPress for another two months, for a year, or forever; I do not know.

As the year drew to a close, the nightmare began with the martyrdom of more than 141 students and teachers whose only fault was to attend one of the most prestigious schools in the country. The sentiments of each and every Pakistani were hard to understand. We all felt guilty, angry, depressed and helpless.

It continued when all educational institutions in my country were closed down due to the looming threat of similar attacks. My own university which was founded by our Army’s welfare organization, Fauji Foundation, had received such threats. The last time I was on university premises was on Friday, the 19th of December. We have not been allowed to even step foot inside the college building since then. While us students stay at home and “enjoy”, my university is being renovated into a fortress for our protection.

I have had all the time in the world to contemplate on what was happening around me, and my thoughts dragged me down into a black hole.

While all this was going on, I fell ill and during the course of three days I had had my share of 13 intravenous and 6 muscular injections which my father administered twice a day. For more than four days I did not eat a single bite or took a single sip of water. I spent New Year’s Eve staring at the ceiling of my mother’s room which had been turned into a temporary hospital room. And at the end, it turned out all the medication was just a precaution and a result of misdiagnosis. I had only suffered a severe case of vertigo which had unsettled my stomach, while I was treated for complete intestinal obstruction!

While I was ill, my chronically ill paternal aunt’s condition also worsened. Her kidneys were failing and she was rushed to several hospitals during the course of 5 hours by my brother and cousins. My siblings and my father simultaneously took care of two severely ill loved ones, and I shall never forget their dedication.

As I recovered, my father’s health dropped. At the age of almost 7 decades he has no chronic illness except a deficiency of B-12 and the tendency to stress over things, resulting in higher blood pressure. It was my fault that he had high BP during the course of my illness and days after that. He says he is better now, but the doctor will determine that tomorrow.

I caught up with numerous semester final projects which were due in 3 days.  I slept at 3 AM and woke at 9 AM to try my best to save my 3.8/4 grade point average.

On the 10th of January, I turned 20. Two decades of my life closed among chaos.  But it was not complete chaos. As with every dark cloud, the silver lining had begun to emerge a few days before my birthday. One of my sisters got the job she always wanted while the other had a substantial pay raise which had her dancing at regular intervals during the day. They are also upgrading their car. My father’s business is booming. My aunt, after finally agreeing to dialysis, is now successfully on the road to recovery. She visited on my birthday and brought balloons and gave me cash. She looked groomed and healthy and was even talking about getting a new haircut.

My personal silver lining happens to be the existential crisis I am going through. It may seem like a conundrum to some, and yes it is terribly tiring to think so much, but introspection is something that was required. Ignorance is bliss until you get yanked out of it by a series of unfortunate events. Nonchalance never works out in the long run. Writing, what I had been calling ‘passion’ for lack of a better one, might not be after all. ‘Art’ which I had pushed away indifferently may as well be. But that too, does not make my eyes shine anymore so I am looking for something that does.

I am looking for my ‘calling’, a purpose of existing. For a dream, an aim, which will turn my humdrum existence into what we call life. I finally understand that to live and to exist are two very different things, and I am tired of simply existing like a leaf blowing in the wind.

To life; I hope it comes to me soon.

I Have Not Forgotten

I am really sorry for not reading, commenting and writing on WordPress for the whole month. It’s just that our teachers seem to think that we don’t have a life outside of college and due to their kind consideration, now we actually don’t have a life outside of college.

So much has been going on lately that I have not had the time or energy to write. I leave for college at eight,come home at five. I change, eat and start working on assignments and projects by six. And then I stay at it till 11:30 or 12 and then I just crash.

I also want to write about so many things that I just can’t pinpoint a single one.

So to tide over my frequent readers, here is the first chapter of the novel I started writing as a teeny-bopper back in 2012:

The Love of a Father – A Vampyr Story

Chapter 1: Survivor

A violent mob. The burning pitchforks. The shouts. That was what Leah Dragos woke up to on the eve of her mother’s death. She was asleep on the hard floor holding her still and cold mother in her lap. She wanted to bury her in the forest behind their hovel, but she was so tired and drained with the tears she had shed and the keening wails she had no control over, that she had dropped off in a dark, haunted, dreamless sleep. Now she realized she would never get to bury her in the way she deserved, because the noisy mob was almost upon her home.

She sighed, she wasn’t afraid; it was merely an inconvenience, a nuisance that these people were presenting her with. She was confident in her abilities to thwart a crowd of “witch” mumbling hooligans. But she would be left without a home. Well I won’t be able to keep the house anyway, where would I get the rent money from? A house, like that’s what it is, a hovel more like it. But the memories, yes the memories…. She was jolted awake from her daydream of good times with her mother and landed back in her bizarre reality, when a particularly loud celebratory cheer on her mother’s death went up outside.

She shut off her emotions then, just like she had so many times before. A trait of hers for which she was called witch. Like it’s the only unnatural one I have. She thought bitterly. Leah’s ‘abilities’, as her mother called them, were a source of fear and trepidation among the village folk. Some said she was cursed at birth, others said she was a changeling, switched at birth by a mighty witch. Others simply claimed she WAS a witch, just like her mother. A monster, a ghost’s child, a shape-shifter. Leah chuckled while she carried her mother’s tiny body to the rotting mattress on the floor. She covered her up in her threadbare shawl and set her hands on her chest.

A tiny pearly tear was all her hardened heart allowed to escape from her eyes. Sorry Mama, you know I love you, but I have to disappear now or it will be too late. Yes, she had a heart as cold as the relentless ice that hardened the ground as she ran from the back of the hovel into the dark woods, but she knew it will be what would keep her alive now.

She was so lost in thought and remorse, that she did not see the dark, lithe figure emerging from the house, with a bundle over its shoulder.

********

He looked at her face; it was starting to discolor now. Silly girl, he thought, what was she thinking sleeping at a time like this! But he was proud of the calm façade she had put on later, he knew how she was hurting, but she hadn’t panicked, she was clever.

He swept a lock of hair from his eternal lover’s face. Eternal? She’s dead! He chided himself on the direction his thoughts were taking. Now’s not the time to revisit the mistakes already made.

He rolled up the sleeves of his raven-black coat, and set to work digging his beloved’s grave. His superhuman strength made short work of it. He cradled Irina’s body in his arms, close to his heart for a moment, before lightly jumping in the cave and placing her on the wet soil. He climbed out and started covering her fragile body with the cool earth. She always was breakable, he thought amusedly, focusing on the better memories of their love, rather than the bitter ones.

He stood up when he was finished; throwing the iron shovel in a tree over his head like it was a feather.

Now to see what my progeny is up too….

********

Leah curled into a ball in the hole made by a hollowed out tree. This was her sanctuary, a place to come to when things got too much for her to bear. It was a beautiful night; the orb-like full moon was hanging in the sky, the stars twinkling. A cool breeze was blowing, but Leah was shielded from its bite by her tree.

She thought about the crazy turn her already crazy life was taking. She realized she would have to live on the streets now. The village was small, but Leah had an idea where she would be safest from the rapers and the murderers.

There was an old abandoned side of the village, named the ‘Ghost Street’ by the villagers. It was said to be haunted. An old legend was famous around these parts, that the mansion at the end of the street was once the abode of a blood-sucking monster, a Lord. His land stretched miles around his home, a village was established there. Apparently the village people revolted against him and burned his house to the ground, seemingly with him inside it. Some said it was his ghost that haunted the place now. Some forms of the legend claimed that the people who had tried to kill him were killed off one by one in painful ways, and they were THEIR spirits that haunted the place now. She thought about what the mansion looked like now, the stone walls were still intact, but the wooden structures were burned. There were abandoned and dilapidated cottages all around the mansion’s ground. Yes, ample shelter, she thought. And nobody would venture out there, the cowards that these people were. A few teenagers on a dare or drunken men maybe, but there were plenty of places to hide out there. She made up her mind and started to uncurl from her fetal position on the hard ground. She picked up her bundle, settling all she had in the world on her shoulders. A dress, a pair of shoes, her mother’s diary, and a book, the only one she owned….

But the most prized possession she owned was around her wrist: a delicate gold bracelet embedded with three blood-red rubies on the front. And at the back were the words “In Aeternitatem”. Her mother had told her they were of an ancient language, meaning ‘for eternity’. She was very protective about it, she had given it to Leah on her 10th birthday, and after that it had always stayed around Leah’s wrist. Once when she was 13, it was a cold and brutal winter, Leah suggested her mother to sell or barter the bracelet, and she had never seen her mother that angry.

Her mother never said who had given it to her, but Leah was clever enough to figure out it must have been her father. Like I should call him that, my sire maybe, not FATHER, what has he done to deserve that name and status in my life? If I could just find him, demand answers, SEE him! Hell, I don’t even know if he’s human!

She wasn’t aware of the shadow trailing behind her, chuckling lightly on his daughter’s thoughts, which were swirling about crystal clear in his head. Her mixed blood had always unconsciously provided her a shield to thwart his telepathy, but not when she was upset and overly emotional. His smile turned into a frown. She must really be hurting then, her mother’s death and her absent father who she thinks abandoned her, if only she knew how much I care…

Just as Leah stopped behind the last row of trees behind his old mansion, he heard the message his second-in-command, his creation, Roman, was sending him through their telepathic link. Sorry child, you’re on your own for now, he thought, sighing.

He whooshed around and disappeared in thin air.