Thursday, January 27, 2011

Merchant of Dreams

Photo: courtesy Kirti.

It was that time of the day when people came back from offices, tea shops became abuzz with discussions and women rushed back to their kitchens after what had initially started as an afternoon gossip. The hard sun had wilted in its own heat and fallen in the dust which was in the air, on the street and in the silent sobs of one more ordinary day coming to its jinxed end under the scrutiny of large street lamps. In the old park of the neighborhood, last ball of the last cricket match had been bowled; the kids, covered in sweat and mud, though were still debating over something. A group of elderly men was going back to their homes after their evening walk. A young girl on the footsteps of teenage was sitting on an old wooden bench and still blushing about something that happened in school that day. A man, not older than 40 but certainly not too young either, caught their attention. He stood near the entrance of the park, smiling at passers by. There was something ridiculous about him, something that was intriguing and fascinating too... Something other than his dark red jacket with large metallic, golden colored buttons. Something other than his thin and dramatic mustache. It was the serenity in his eyes, the grace with which he held up his hands to greet everyone, the all-knowing smile he flashed.

They waited for him to say something. There was soon a little gathering outside the park. Men and women, young and old, and a few kids looked at him with intrigue. After he was convinced with the size of the audience, he started his speech. His voice was child-like but sounded convincing, "Good evening my beautiful people! I once lived in this very neighborhood when I was a little boy. When the grass of the park was greener and the flowers smelled sweeter, I played here too. You must be curious where I had been all these years.. Why haven't you seen me? In my childhood I was an ordinary boy, like the ones you see everyday on the bus-stops, traffic lights and side-walks. Do you remember their faces? No! And so you have forgotten me too. My name is Salesman. I am here to sell you something."

A man in suit-coat and trousers wanted to turn away and go but he saw that the Salesman was looking straight in his eyes. Instead of going, he asked the Salesman,"What do you want from us?". The Salesman replied with a sigh," I don't want anything. I am here to offer you something. But since my experiences with this world tell me that for something to be worth having, it must cost something to own it so I want to sell you something." A bespectacled young lady in her neatly pressed shirt and trousers interrupted him," Look, we don't want anything and you have no bags or catalogs either...". The Salesman turned back sharply and climbed on a small rock near the park. He raised both his arms and cleared his throat," In the times of insurances and money-back guarantees, all I have to offer you is a dream. A dream that you have lost, a dream that you need. A dream that you have ignored, a dream you have once talked about and cried upon. A dream you can't refuse. Do you want to buy your dream? I am here not for you but for the dream."

To be continued...


An old boy in his twenties sat in the grimmest layer of the darkness and quietly allowed himself to do the unforgivable sin of being weak and cried. Nobody saw him crying but we all knew. He was left stranded in the race of everything. He had been dreaming for a little too long and now he was left in the cold silence of being oh-so-alone with his dreams. He wanted to buy death but he had nothing to buy it with. Life is cheap but death?
He had nothing except a fragile hope in an unvisited corner of his mind. He knew what had to be done. That very day which has been now erased from our memories, he sold the little hope he had and bought a small slice of death.

End of part 2.

PART 1 continued...

The crowd looked bemused. A man whose eyes looked as dull as the muddy waters of a drying local river asked the Salesman,"What is the price of my dream? How can I buy it? And how do I know that you aren't fooling me?"
The Salesman, now looking like a monk dressed as clown, closed his eyes and spoke out,"You have to trust me here because I have been in your shoes. I have sold my dreams to buy me tired days and sad evenings like this. I have bought them back when I could, to light up my nights. You have to pay a dear price too." He thought for a second and then paused  so as to hold the secret, the price.
The crowd, tired of this game now and reluctant after guessing what the price might be, asked in a hush, "What's the price anyway?" The salesman, now looking like a boy who has just got a new gift, said,"The price is hefty as it should be. You have to give something you have held so close to your heart for all your life. You have to give me your greatest fear....

The crowd dissolved, knowing too well that he was trying to  trick them. There had to be some conspiracy in it. It was late too and dinner had to be made, works had to be done. What a waste of their precious time?

But a man stood there, thinking. The same man whose eyes looked as dull as the muddy waters of a drying local river. He asked silently, "How does it work? You are talking as if there is some.....". The Salesman smiled and completed his question,"..... as if there is some MAGIC? " The man nodded his head,"Yes, how do I trust you?" The Salesman said,"There is a Magic. You have been seeing magic all you life but you have never believed it. You have dismissed it as a trick. You have been wrong. You can trust me... For one, the shine in your eyes is back...

(c) Ankur Srivastava

Monday, January 3, 2011

Loner 2

He was tired
Of unending days of gray.
Smoke-spitting evenings,
And dark silence of nights.

He had once read
A pretty love poem
In a sad, sulking twilight
To lit up its face with a kiss.

He had watched ever since,
The afterglow of his love
Dimming with every stroke of time
He had remained silent,
Trying not to cry.

He was told,
There are things more important
Than love and love poems.
And the sorrow of this twilight.

So he wished every night,
For tomorrow to be a new day.
With pastel hued mornings
And glittering afternoons.

A beginning often marks an end,
The whispering dreams
Of these dear dark nights,
Had to be muted.

So he did,
Silently sucking the life
Out of a burning love
And letting out the tarnished warmth
In little clouds of smoke.

He looked back, for the last time...
As far as he could
And saw nothing.

When they all waved,
With misty eyes,
He knew it was time.

He picked his bag, confused, and left...

The sadness of the end
The joy of a beginning...
He could not feel it
And tried not to pretend..

He was, as always,
A lonely man.

(c) Ankur Srivastava