The Ghost in the Machine

Yet again, you find yourself slowly immersing in B/W cinema. It’s more like floating than sinking. Less watching and more being watched. It is a background score with raw screeches for music. The walls are full of shadows. Shadows that are more than contours until the head turns to confront with a reflection you’ve searched in vain in-between exhaustive specks of red and green and blue.
It all started with Meshes of the Afternoon by Maya Daren. When I was young, I used to sit idly on terraces and simply watch clouds passing by. It was perhaps the ease in the transmission of clouds from sanguine, buoyant shapes dissolving into disparate entities on the verge of disappearing with time.
Like Maya Daren. And the clouds. And us.


It happened in Sector – 18. That’s one busy street. Buses ply on either route to every corner of the city. Few even cross the highway to the capital.

I used to sit by a table selling tobacco and they had come from the other side. It was a make-shift stand; I was from the village and had little money. Two guys came from the wrong side, smacked below the neck and disappeared grabbing her chain the early morning fog. Here, the fog is mostly dust from the constructions.

Right away I wound up the stall. The police would come, I knew. Ask questions. Hooking on just about whoever they find. I went to my room, cleaned it up for the first time having nothing else to do and didn’t get out until evening when the dust had settled.


Under a thatch roof by the bend uphill, he sat across an acquaintance made a while ago by dint of the colour of his skin. A group of guys from Delhi sprawled on the next table fixing a chillum every now and then. Mirek had been sitting there since dawn. When one of them asked him to share some of his hash, he fished out an ornate, little box and gave them a stick.

After so many years, I still do not trust people, he said. It’s too fleeting a trust on myself I cling onto.

Across the edge loom green hills of the Parvati Valley warm under the afternoon sun. Lapos is still far away. The breeze is cold but pleasant; the kettle constantly on the boil. Wafts of smoke surround them. Every now and then, a shepherd or a cow herder passes them headed toward a small village a few hours along the trek. Horses carry grocery supplies to the seasonal tents at the top of the hill who charge the travelers three, or often, four times the price.

‘This is a beautiful country with the most abhorrent people. But it’s different in the hills. The hills don’t retain any traces.’

What to speak of this nomadic existence dimmed by years of trawling through distant lands, returning seemingly to inhabit the same vacuous space one could not call home?

His head bowed towards his feet, he says, ‘I have changed, I believe I have. But people just don’t see it.’


It was a weird creature with two left hands, one right and a fishtail in place of legs.  Bathed in pure white light, it seemed to lure and then soak all of it leaving dark and ugly patches with irregular shapes aside. Because of all that light, it came across as a silhouette. There possibly could be nothing more alluring than this whimsical form which left everything around it fizzle down to a blur. As I watched on from a fair distance, the harmless creature increased in size incredibly. The white of it against the black now pierced my eyes. The arms got bulkier. The ones on the left left no space even for a sheet of air to squeeze through and were undoubtedly getting conjoined. The right one swelled larger than the two on the left which, in fact, no longer were two. As they constantly grew larger in size, they seemed to flatten out now or maybe it was because of the light. Ever so gracefully, the arms took the form of wings with the growth multiple times than a moment before. The tail too had turned magnanimous. The creature was calm or was it the sedative process of evolution that was going to betray all anticipators and optimists by creative a monster and not God and that made it look calm now? By the look of it, it could’ve been calm and careless as their Gods but it also could’ve been really determined. Even fuelled by a strong and clean motive to destruct. The form had now ceased to grow. It appeared it could grow no longer, no larger. The ugly patches around seemed to have been perforated and much out of them had managed to endure the light, seeming to discharge from the creature now and not from the sun beyond, had turned grey and were fast receding. Blots of light now tore apart from the wings and the tail and the whole body of the massive giant and swallowed the ugliness of its counterpart. They were getting rid of even a miniscule grain of dirt and fought amongst themselves to increase in size before one joined the other and made it more powerful. The initially massive form was no longer to be found as it had now innumerous of those torn out of its own skin fighting for space and yes, light.

Just the next moment a mad wind blew and shockingly there was nothing else then to be seen or found except, obviously, a clear blue sky.


Portrait: Horselover Fat

Pictures flit across his mind. Holding a frosty, opal drink made out of nothing, he picked up bits of un-stringed, clutter – some sounds made in green, dark rooms under a slinking layer of narcotic haze; conflated arguments over pop – psychology, overrated suicides and other crimson faff.  It had been 28 hours since day had struck. The wires were giving out and people had started crouching outside on the porches, sweating from the stifling underbelly heat of the land. Just then, in the second floor of an inclined wooden block by the street, his head pressed to one of the walls of the room, Fat had a stroke. It was anamnesis. And it had struck him thrice in the forty three years of his non – existence.