Paints the lid red

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Tendons on her agile limbs

A ten-legged cart wheel in the sky

Tips of her toes oozing blood

She paints the lid red

 

A whirl towards the sky above

A swish of white robes in swirls

With arms wide open

She paints the lid red

 

The comets crash

The shootings stars

Constellations collapse, as

She paints the lid red

 

She peeks through a crevice

The din of dusty existence

Before her wait and lie, so

She paints the lid red

 

The shower of un-reality

Is on the shore awash

She lays there still, as

She paints the lid red

 

*based on a lucid dream session

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If you can imagine it, it must exist – Of wandering in Istanbul

Dream catchers and cashmere scarves, hung lazily in the smallish spaces, Istanbulites introduce as “scurry shops” or maybe what my eccentric, fiercely Turkish in her genes but rather dubious of that origin and a firm belief of having Nordic or maybe Germanic ancestors, calls them. What she means by scurry is not really the meaning an average English speaker would mean, even if English was not their first language. She means that these shops are overpriced and aimed at looting foreigners (creatures who are naïve enough to fall for merchandise just because it looks pretty and is not even representative of real Turkish traditions) while they are scurrying past them to reach Istiklal street. You can trust economists and creatures like them to take the magic away from everything, something I often find myself guilty for. But there is magic in dreams and a natural born lucid dreamer can verify that for you.

But is there magic in imagination too? I want to apologize for the nuisance value of the neuro-economist creeping in, but the fact that human mind thinks in images as well as the fact that research now claims that the human mind accumulates an inventory of images that it draws upon  and one cannot conjure up images that one has not consciously or subconsciously seen somewhere (I hope there is more development in this area) because during my state of lucid dreaming, I come across places and architectural details that I do not remember viewing ever in my waking life nor having read about it; except for this recent one where Paris and Istanbul are just districts in the same city and there is a concert in another that I am trying to get too. Extending the research on image inventory, neuroscientists and psychologists who specialize in dreams explain this by asking a question, “Have you ever encountered someone in your dream that you do not know?”

The answer would be no for most people. We either view friends, family, celebrities, famous people and maybe our secret crush. And from my own little knowledge about dream comes from the movie “Inception”, where the brain is actually capable of attacking foreign bodies in a dream. Scientists must be right about ‘no strangers in a dream’, then? Maybe that is why I feel more comfortable in my dreams because there are no elements being introduced and therefore no social anxiety. (I know those who know me personally will claim this is a sympathy seeking tactic on my part for I am forever present on major social events within my circle of friends and acquaintances, seem to enjoy company and commotion, and am available almost all the time for obnoxious early morning breakfast plan. And yet I admit to not enjoying more than one additional human being in my space at a time- hint that is why I do better in one on one breakfast plans). Familiarity is comforting to the human brain and therefore we enjoy the company of childhood friends, for at least an hour or so until we realize they have become a starkly different human being than you and conversational topics have fewer over laps in the Venn diagram of conversation? We also experience warmth and comfort when we listen to an old song that we were introduced to during our formative years (our romantic teens or melancholic teens maybe?) even if we hated or criticized from our core at the time.

 

The Smoke and the Shadow that stood up (From Dreams to Post Cards- Chapter: Dreams, Emotions and Decisions)

And there I stood at one corner of her apartment’s lounge. A sturdy wooden table snuggled in that corner blocking my leaning against the wall, stubbing its flat wooden edges into my legs as I inadvertently searched for some kind of physical support to be able to stand for a longer time. I looked at her standing on the other side of the room, looking at me or in my direction with blood shot eyes, fear and shock as evident in her eyes as the smoke from a forest fire in the mountains. The source of smoke was not visible but there must be a fire somewhere for her eyes to have that look. I questioned her with my eyes. The only answer I got was the bloodshot stare. With no words and a stare so blank and potent, I moved out of my body and looked at myself through her eyes, confident that the fire will be visible now that I am in her eyes. And I saw that shadow hovering over my body, lurched in the corner, with that look of inquisition on my face. I saw how my shadow did not fall on the floor, rather it towered behind me, like a giant me standing right behind me but with only a dark presence and no fleshly features. Even in her body, seeing through her eyes with the look of incredulity and shock emitting from her bloodshot eyes, I could not fathom where the fire was. The shadow was my shadow. It did not cause a fear in me. It was mine after all. It is getting bigger every day for I see the fear and dread in her eyes. Maybe I will see it in other eyes too. But for me, it is not harmful. Not for the time being at least. It might grow too big that it will block the light around me. But it might also give me the shade from the scorching heat. Do I want it to grow stronger? Yes. Do I want to help it grow bigger? I am not sure for I do not know what power it will have over me or others around me. But it does not harm me. It just has my back.

Dulhan Bus and Quarantines and sleepy anterior cingulate cortex ( From Dreams to Post Cards: Chapter Dreams, Emotions and Decisions)

Dulhan Bus and Quarantines and sleepy anterior cingulate cortex

It’s a rickety bus, seats covered with cheap faux leather, splinters of twisted metal frame, prodding the buttocks from underneath the worn-out leather, clutching the foam like there is no tomorrow. The four-wheeled liability is headed towards heritage site in the country. It is called the Dulhan Bus (the bride bus) because it is decorated like a bride, with all its frills and fillies. Bright paint and intricate glass work also commonly found on fabrics and cultural outfits, hide the weariness of the bus chassis. The many years of coughing out diesel are apparent on the pipes protruding from beneath the bus, like an old maiden, who knew many lovers and yet adorned like a virgin. There are seats in the front row for women only- typical of any public transport in the Islami Jamhuria of Pakistan.

She chose to sit in a corner in the front row for all she wanted to do was, get to the destination. The smell of diesel caustically making her nauseous. The leather seats making her sit up straight on the edge, mindful not to let the metal bits dig in too deep on the hind. Arms crossed, looking straight into her book without any acknowledgement of human being around her, everything in her posture, reeked of the sense that she wanted to speak to no one. She crouched on the edge of her seat, hoping that no one sat next to her so she can wallow and roll over the messy mud in her mind and soak in the earthiness of being lowly in thoughts. Her aversion to human company was not because of any disgust with human beings but with herself, for existing below the normal decency of human existence. The convoluted thoughts she was capable of, of wronging all that is good and of redeeming all that is evil, baseness her mind can conjure, repel her. She wants to not be touched nor seen nor felt lest she infects someone with the restlessness of the mind and soul. She wants to quarantine her being so she can keep those who are enjoying the bliss that comes with less convoluted thoughts, clear from the curse. She is even more careful since the last time she had found another infected being. She felt she can be around him for he is already affected. She could let him inside the quarantine she had built around her. But he did not want to come out of his quarantine. He felt his was more toxic than her’s. The same disgust not from people or her but from his own mind and its charcoal gray darkness. Through a glass door they saw each other, waved and smiled, but a dark look came upon both when they saw that between the glass doors there is a chasm, an endless pit of earth and mud. Crossing over to the other’s glass door is impossible, for there will be wallowing and rolling over in the mud and there will be no end to it. They remained behind their glass doors until she turned away from hers, walked in the opposite direction, where she could move cautiously among those that had no glass doors or muddy floors beneath. And yet once in a while she wanted a recluse to indulge herself the company of her thoughts away from the untouched people. A price had to be paid. The vertigo that comes with the meandering roads to the hermitage of silence of worldly sounds. Bracing herself for the ride, like Sita’s walking on fire towards a greater reward, she had just made herself in the container of self.

And there he was, entering the bus from the back door and spotting her, beamed full throttle, his joy half hidden in his controlled demeanour. She felt her body tighten and dread filled her, for her walls had just been able to dry in the heat of hatred. She could not allow that wetness of the soil emerge again and dampen the resolve she had so carefully reconstructed. And yet all her will and force of mind could not stop him from taking the seat right next to her. His face still lit up from the amusement his mind offered upon seeing her recoil as he put his arm in the back of her seat. The more he smiled, the more she felt the heat scorch the walls she had wrapped around her now. She smiled inwardly, congratulating herself for not melting away at the lack of distance between them.

She returned to her book, after glaring at him long enough to convey that she no longer wants to look through the glass door and smile, from near or far. No glare could wipe away that smirk and it made her blood boil but she took a deep breath and continued to go deeper into her own muddy little pool. He tapped her shoulder with two fingers. Another deep breath before she slowly but menacingly looked up at the tapper. Still the full beam and a pleading look in the eyes. Rolling her eyes, she returned to her book. Another tap. This time she chose to ignore. The bus began to cough and roar, a cringe worthy crackle resounding loud within, scratching the layers of its passengers’ sanity. Midst this commotion, she did not realize his arm slip from the back of her seat to her shoulders. Once the rock- a- bye bus had settled into a stable sputter, she became conscious of the arm gently clutching her to the side of the man she had been glaring at to keep him from extending any bodily contact. Slowly, a furious heat began to rise from her core, something she could not immediately decipher as anger. Her walls began to crack under the heat so she regulated the thermostat to a cooler degree. The regulator in her, her anterior cingulate cortex, must be top of the range, for the subsequent glare in his direction was full of ice and shivers. His arm quickly returned to the back of the seat. The glare continued and the arm moved from the back to the front; the front of his big, muscular chest. He folded his arms, but the circumference of his existence was too big for the smallish seats of the bus. His arm sat snuggly next to hers. This was more torturous than the ‘back-of-the-seat’ position. The only thing that kept up the quarantine was the fabric of her muslin white blouse and his chocolate brown Khaddar (thick cotton fabric from south of Punjab worn in summers) Kamiz (long shirt worn by men and women over trousers). She knew it won’t last but like a mighty warrior she will put up a fight as long as she could.

Her chief of army, her anterior cingulate cortex was slowly beginning to tire, as minutes turned into hours and hours extended into late afternoon, with the sun peaking at its hottest. The mud wallowing had to give way to the magnificence of the universe that came to life as some parts of the brain factory shut down, spurred on by the giving away of the body. Careful to not to give away her exhausted warriors, she leaned against the window of the Dulhan bus as she put herself in the safest quarantined position to sleep.

As the bus chortled onwards, her prefrontal cortex in all its entirety shut down. And in those moments of un-guardedness, the tiny thief behind her walls let the trap door open. Her head bobbed up and down as the bus made its way to the solace of silent mountains. In its bobbing, it landed on his sturdy shoulder. His tired beam returned. His weary eyes struggling to keep away slumber were finally rewarded. His quarantine was porous. He did not want her to mix the black dead earth with her red, fertile mud. And yet there was very little of his roots that were alive in the thickened, charred ground of his core, that he could possibly offer. But the moisture of her being had made tiny roots sprout somewhere in the hardened ground he had stopped nurturing. He could not let her see the charred roots just yet. Her rich redness was just so pure and raw. He did not have it in him to infect her just yet. He put his arm around her so her head did not bob up and down so much, not for her sake to secure her slumber so her mind and body could rest, but for his sake. For in her prefrontal cortex’s unguarded moments, he could bask in the richness of her soil without contaminating it. He gently kissed her forehead, careful to not wake her up. Sliding down a bit in his own seat for head to find a place to rest without having to bend, he settled into a position where the two could rest in peace.

The Tigress in the Sun (From Dreams to Postcards- Chapter: The Whimsical Jukebox)

Over grown grass, brown and dusty  from the baking summer sun, rustled as the wind bristled through the field. The damp shadows from the distant green trees were their own faraway paradise in the full afternoon of a wintry day. The landscape’s surrounding serenity is only a veneer; the prey is being watched from under the canopy of her thick eyelashes.

Her silky mane glistening with the gold of the sun-rays gently falling on her elongated neck and her eyes seem heavy with the drowsiness that comes from a full stomach, basking in the glory of the otherworldly ball of fire. But her graceful body sprawled over the corn-coloured grassy field was anything but slothful. The languid posture on the surface was masking a sanguine vigilance hinting at the thousand passions buried in her bosom. A throttling heartbeat, enough to silence any preachers on nirvana, a fiery gaze fixed on the distance horizon, seeing the yet invisible to the naked eye, piercing through the mirage of existence. A deep breath to calm the qualms of the unseen future, she let the heavy lashes fall on that damp crater above her cheeks and below her eyes. A few watery drops slid down the bends of her cheeks and the blazing glare of the predator in her dissolved within them. For once, she proudly looked down on her on coat, be-speckled with dark spots against the amber stretch of skin across her body and smiled. Closing her eyes again she raised her slender neck, towards the sun. With the orange darkness penetrating her eyes through her tightly closed but not sunlight – proof lids, she replayed the image of her own skin glistening in the sun and smiled with the pride of a goddess who accepts the darkness within her and airs it out in the sun so that the darkness does not mix with the dampness and spoil the glory that she knows she has.

As she opened her eyes, she was on the other side of the horizon, the glistening coat gone, replaced by a fluid fabric, synthetic, processed, reeking of industrialization. The flaxen flowers of the corn-coloured grass were gone and the urban existence reared its face. Yet she looked down proudly on her elongated neck, noticing a single spot near the collar bone, feeling the same assurance she did in the savannahs.

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