Ashes

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust…

Ash. It fascinates me. I believe in the principle many religions have in common…

From this Earth we were risen, to this earth we shall return. Form this dust we were sculpted, to this dust we shall return. Everything will, at its end, turn into dust and ash.

Everything will eventually burn itself out.

Even the Sun may, in a cataclysmic event that changes the course of the universe, burn itself and turn into nothing but a suspended cloud of glittering ash, hovering in the vast nothingness we call space.

Everything is volatile. Fate is volatile. One broken thread, one action, one word can change the past present and future of one or many people. Everything is flammable. And its burning is inevitable.

Everything burns.

With the course of time it fizzles out, leaving behind nothing but an acrid smell and a pile of ashes.

Everything turns into ashes.

Ashes. Are they not fascinating? A thing that was once alive, reduced to nothing but tiny particles. All the essence of its life, its virility, destined to be nothing but a grey mound. Is this why it is said that the phoenix rises from its ashes?

I believe it does. To me a phoenix is not a mythical creature, instead it is a metaphor that goes well with my life and I believe, every person’s, life.

Segments of our life start as sparks and gradually turn into small flames. We nurture and feed those flames until a bright, brilliant fire is lit. We bask in its heat. But, as is the course of nature, the brilliance of the flame slowly begins to dwindle. A wind blows. The flames flicker. Raindrops fall. The flames are about to die out. What can you do to stop it? Can you stop the wind that blows? Can you shelter the flames from the torrential rain? Do you add fuel to the fire? One day you will run out of fuel as well. One day the fire will burn out. And you will be left cold and bereft, staring into a pile of ashes and watching the glowing embers as they slowly fade into darkness.

For me, many fires have been extinguished over time. Some had water thrown on them, some became covered with sand over time. Some were stomped out in a fit of rage. And some just burned and burned without being watched over, and died with time.

I have never been able to add much fuel to my fires. After nurturing the flames for a while, I grow tired and bored.

I have lost many opportunities in the past year. Some I gave up myself and now regret, some were taken away from me

I have started many fires in the past year. Some remain lit, some have fizzled. All have been forgotten.

I have started many friendships in the past year. All have deteriorated.

I am, in this vast world full of dust and ashes, a lost soul. An alien that is seldom understood. Whose expectations can never be met.

A lonely existence is deadly. When you keep secrets to yourself because you have no one to share them with, when you yearn to laugh and wander about with friends, but can’t, when you have dreams that cannot be achieved due to circumstance or lack of motivation, when you have goals you cannot accomplish without support, you burn on the inside.

It becomes too much and you turn into fire.

And we all know what happens to fire; it turns into ash.

But from the ash, rises a phoenix. Beautiful, majestic. With wings that span the length of a room, with talons that can cut through the hardest of steels, rises a phoenix. Calm and wise, it spreads it’s wings and soars into the air. Alone, watching, listening, thinking, it observes the people it once called friends from its otherworldly view. It pays them no heed but turns it’s head to the Sun and determines to rise as high as that flaming ball on its own.

A new era has began. I am a phoenix, rising from the ashes of the last three month’s betrayals, broken trusts, lies and hopelessness. From the utter lack of motivation and passion. From the letdown of having no recognition of my talents whatsoever. From the insecurities that have been ingrained into me since childhood.

I have not lived on this Earth for almost two decades only to hide in the shadows and flutter about like blown ashes.

I must rise like a phoenix to blind those who doubt me with my brilliance and my light. A phoenix, a solitary creature, that does not require the fake support of masked hypocrites who only want me to turn into ashes.

For me, That day has not come yet. When it does, all will be earth to earth, dust to dust and ashes to ashes…

Thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. – The Bible, Genesis 3:19

From the earth We created you, and into it We will return you, and from it We will extract you another time. – The Quran, Taha 20:55

Angel

Luck has worked in my favor that a relevant daily prompt has arrived on just the day I had decided to post my story; the same story that I mentioned last week. This story is not about me or a chance I may have given to someone. It is fiction. A figment of my imagination where a woman has given a chance to a fragile man. Read and criticize. I will appreciate any and all feedback! This very short story is a first draft.

******

He had made me promise never to give up on him.

He was broken, and I was anything but that. His childhood was a nightmare. Mine was filled with overprotective parents, brothers and sisters. His wrists had scars. Mine had a bracelet my longtime best friend had given me. He had a history of drug abuse and rehab. I had a history of gold medals and achievement certificates. He was tattooed. I seldom let my hair out of its ever-present bun or ponytail. He smoked and before I came into his life, drank gallons of whiskey every month. I turned up my nose even at the smell of tobacco or alcohol. I was Yin. He was Yang.  And together we were each other’s equilibrium.

Still the job of balancing our relationship often fell to me. He would lapse into one of his dark moods, locking himself into the attic. He would be so quiet that only the wisps of cigarette smoke coming from under the door would tell me where he was. He would try to push me away. He would say poisonous words just to hurt me. He knew me enough to always taunt me where it hurt most.

And yet, he was my Angel. It was what I liked to call him. He had saved me from a mundane life of only working as an architect and listening to my mother rant about me being single on every Sunday brunch. He made fun of himself. Pointing out that his dark looks and darker demeanor was anything but angelic. And I would rebut by saying he was my Fallen Angel, thrown out by the Big Man for being too handsome. My silly compliment would be rewarded by a small smile. And that smile would be my achievement for the day.

My friends asked why I kept up with such a cynical, sadistic man, who couldn’t bear to see himself, happy. What they didn’t know was how every morning; he wakes me up with a small kiss on my forehead and a loving whisper in my ear, or how he battles his trust issues everyday and opens up to me nonetheless. How, because he could never say the words, he would leave me little notes telling me how much he cherished me. How he would sweetly apologize to me after one of his black moods. Those were parts of the enigma only I knew how to solve.

But today, today even I had reached my limits. I lay next to him, looking up at the off-white ceiling. With the thunder rumbling outside, the day had become even more dreary than usual. I felt a sob coming up my throat. All through our tumultuous relationship, I have never let myself cry over the words he says to me. But today I was hurt beyond measure. I was already raw with emotion, and he had ripped me apart even more.

Just a few hours ago, I had come back from a long stay at the hospital.

I had lost my child, our child.

When I had told him of the life we had made together, he had, as I had expected, locked himself up. But at the end of the day, he had come out and held me, and given me a slow wondrous smile. We spent the next two weeks in a bubble of happiness.

The bubble was burst in the worst way possible when I miscarried. The days I spent in the hospital, he never said a single word other than to ask me how I felt once or twice a day. Or to relay some instructions the doctor had given me. I knew he was hurt, I understood. How could I not when it was I whose body could not sustain the life God had blessed us with. I was distraught. I needed him. He was not there.

The day we came home, he blamed me and said to me that which I could never forget. Yet, I have vowed to forget. I will not rewrite his speech here or anywhere else for as long as I live.

But then when I lay there, his cold voice came back to me, and tears prickled behind my eyes. I turned my head to look at his silent profile. His perfect features, his neck that I loved to place kisses on, marred by an ugly scar that ran across it. I wondered, for the thousandth time, how he had survived. Determination. That was the only answer that came to me as I eyed his set jaw. Stubbornness. Will power. And as I waited for an apology that may never come, I decided that I was going to be stubborn as well and break a promise for the first time in my life.

Quietly, I turned and swung my legs over the edge of the bed. I looked back at my Angel one more time before I got up. I, like the stereotypical partner who walks out, was not going to pull out a suitcase from the closet and start filling it with a huff. Instead, I went to the door and with apparent resolve, opened it and stepped outside. As I gently closed the door, I heard the bed-springs creek.

I went down the stairs, grabbed my handbag and car keys. As I went out the front door, I heard footsteps thudding down the staircase inside. I stood with my hand on the doorknob. My resolve was weakening. But, I shook off the moment of weakness, squared my shoulders, turned and made my way to my red Jeep. I started the car, and without looking back, I drove off, leaving my Angel behind.

Despite my promise, I had given up on him, just like everyone else had.

*****

The pills had always been there. For depression, for insomnia, for anxiety, for this, for that. Ever since she had come into his life, he had seldom felt the need to take out one of the many bottles in the cabinet. She knew they were there, but she had never questioned him about them. She was like that, minding her own business. Until it came to someone trying to hurt the people she loved. She would attack then. Despite her calm appearance, she had a quick temper. It amused him. And at times, reprimanded him.

He looked at the bottle in his hands, and thought about the idiocy of the doctor who had prescribed them, knowing his history of suicide attempts. A smirk twisted his full lips into a menacing look. He laid on her side of the bed, on his back, looking up, just like she had been lying moments ago. He rolled the bottle between his hands.

He was a grown man, he was ashamed at what he was about to do. He imagined her eyes narrowing if she were to find him in this moment. She would snatch the bottle from his hands, and then place her hands on her waist. She would glare at him. A lecture would follow. Of his worth. Of how much he meant to her. Her eyes would soften then. She would pull him up. And then hold him. And say a hundred words of love.

It had happened before, when he had cut himself accidentally while he was shaving. She had entered the bathroom just as the first drop of blood had fallen. Her anger knew no limits; even that she didn’t notice the cut was on his finger, nowhere near any dangerous vein.

He prayed that his thoughts would come true. She would come back. He looked at the storm raging outside through the window. He prayed again. He prayed that she would be safe. He prayed she would drive carefully.

As he unscrewed the cap, his thoughts were of two warm brown eyes narrowed at him playfully…

*****

She thought of all the knives in the kitchen. Of all the scissors in the drawers. Of the razors; her pink ones, his blue ones. Of the cabinet full of drugs. And the licensed pistol she kept in the locker.

She slammed her foot hard on the brakes and sat with her hands clutching the wheel as all around her, rain poured down in torrents. She rested her head back and let the first few tears fall. Several minutes passed as she wept along with the sky.

She had made up her mind. She made a U-turn, and as she did, she called an ambulance to their residence.

*****

He had lined up the pills on the floor. A memory crossed his mind of when he was a teenager, lining up white powder in the same way as he lined up the pills. He thought of crushing the pills into powder, as a twisted tribute to his younger days.

Thoughts about her still plagued him. They said, and he himself had experienced, that when about to commit suicide, the mind goes blank. No thought remains of those who you are leaving behind. And yet his mind still would not stop conjuring up images of a pale face and a luscious body. Fat, she called herself. Sensual, he called her. She had issues of her own. But she was stronger than him.

His wandering mind came back to the present as he heard sirens in the night. He sat up alert. The sirens grew closer and closer until finally stopping just beneath his window.

And, as he threw his head back and let out a bark of laughter, he heard the familiar rumble of her Jeep followed by the loud slamming of a car door.

*****

“Wherever there is you, I will be there too”

Looking At Myself : My TV Debut

According to the Daily Mail, the average British woman looks in the mirror up to 71 times a day.

I myself, being a woman, although non-British, look in the mirror about, I would say, 20 times a day. That is not counting the number of side-view mirrors of cars and any other reflective surface in my path where I just have to take a peek at my unruly hair and usually askew glasses.

But the ultimate ‘looking at myself’ moment came when I, in all my overweight glory, witnessed myself on TV.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, thanks to my wonderful sisters’ links in the media industry, I was part of a one-hour youth talk-show on the topic ‘forgiveness’.

My daily readers will know my views on this particularly cringe-worthy (for me) topic, so imagine how I managed to give diplomatic answers to the host for 45 minutes straight.

Keeping the topic issue aside, it was a moment of complete reflection when I saw myself as others saw me. On national television. Let’s just say that I have a lot of things to work upon.

On the other hand, it was a successful show all-in-all. The host liked my answers. I was expressing my radical point-of-view in a diplomatic manner and if I say so myself, I speak well. Thankfully the show was in English, or (as my siblings often make fun of me) I would have said words like Arrmaree and Ookhbar.

It was aired on our internationally broadcasted public TV channel PTV World.

Between me, my sisters and a pair of guys my age who were participating as well, it was a good show on such a dry topic.

Two things I learned that will really help me in any such future experiences are one, I should have a pair of prescription contact lenses made and two, I should wear clothes my own size. I had to take off my glasses as they glared a lot on camera. And due to my half-blind state and even more blinding studio lights, I was, for lack of a better word, blind as I did the show. And my slouchy clothes meant there was no shape whatsoever to my body!

As soon as the video is uploaded, I will be sharing the link here if some of my readers would like to really look at me at listen to me rambling on and on about how “I don’t forgive easily” and people “have to work for it!”