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Monday, August 15, 2016
The darkness seemed to clear, my head started to pound and the body ached like someone had pulled me through a clothes wringer machine. Looking around, I see that I am in a dimly lit room with white florescent light lining the ceiling .
Looking out the solitary window, all I see are stars and a lonely moon travelling across the sky. I rubbed my head wishing the awful splitting headache away. My legs are weak as if all the energy had been drained out of my system. As the pounding headache and body aches disappear, I look around and see a man sitting across from me and another man leaning against the far wall. I start to inquire why I am being interrogated and what I am being charged for.
“Hello. I am Detective Sam and that’s Detective Ryan. It seems like you have regained your senses. I need you to explain to me once again what you were doing at the tavern.” Asked the investigating officer as he flashed me his badge..
I started to gentle massage my forehead to get rid of hangover induced headache. A glass of water and a bottle of Asprin appeared before me. As the headache receded, memories rushed back and I remembered the turn of events that led to this.
All I was doing was sitting on a garden chair while listening to one of my relatives telling me the importance of getting married as early as possible to any woman in town even if she is a total stranger and having a few dozen kids. I was getting bored listening to my aunts babble which went on and on.
My attention started to wander around and I noticed a girl wearing a knee length one piece skirt and pocket watch emerge from one of the hedges located near me. Seeing that she had caught my attention she muttered “My names is Alice. Have you seen a rabbit anywhere? Harvey wanted to go on an adventure but I can’t find him anywhere. and “Oh my ears and whiskers! I'm late, I'm late I'm late!” as she stared at the pocket watch as she ran past. I got up and started to chase her to inquire about her nonexistent whiskers and what she’s late for.
My clothes started to tear, and scratches appeared as I hopped through neatly trimmed hedges and the chase lead through grassy plains. In the distance, I saw a huge tree and the blabbering girl standing underneath gesturing me to hurry up. As I neared, my heart skipped a beat as I saw her jump into a hole.
I stood at the edge and peered into the dark hole. Nothing could be seen. I mumbled and then yelled “Hello. Hello. You okay down there?” But I heard no response. Seconds turned into minutes and I assumed the worst. I turned around and started to hop away when I heard an echoing voice “Want to munch on something that says Eat me? Meet a hooka smoking caterpillar sitting on a huge mushroom asking you if you want to get high as a kite, find dragons in the fridge and drink its blood to make your wishes come true?”
I said “Of course. What do I do? I can’t see a dang thing down there. I haven’t brought along a torch and I hope you aren’t expecting me to jump down there.”
Alice’s head popped out of the ground and she heaved herself up till her elbows were resting on the grassy ground. Looking upwards, I saw the sun peeking through the leaves as if trying to figure out what’s happening under the tree shade. Looking at the blond haired girl, I saw that the face had turned beet red in anger as she stared at me and yelled “Look here mister what’s your name. I can’t do everything for you and if you didn’t remember to bring along a torch and something to lower yourself then that’s your bad luck. Why don’t you try jumping down here you old fart?”
I woke up and let out a loud groan. My body ached and I wondered how many bones had broken as I fell into the hole. Looking around, I saw a room with multiple doors with a table located in the center. On the table was a bottle with a sign “Drink me.” With nothing else to quench my thirst, I took a gulp or two. The world started to spin and my clothes became a few sizes too large. As I emerged from under a pile of clothing, I noticed that I was totally nude and looking upwards I saw that the table size had increased it seems.
While searching for food and drinks, I saw a familiar face. I cleared my throat and said “Awhile back, you had gotten your panties in a knot because I was taking too long. Well. I made it here. Make me a sandwich and get me a beer. While you are at it, show me the fridge full of dragons.” And officer, that’s when the fight started.
“Well. The folks who attended the gathering at Mr. Macpherson daughters wedding reception aren’t too happy with you and the host has a different version. You got bored talking to your aunt. You wandered off and found yourself at the coffee, snacks and bar. You need to watch the Dark English Ales they had there. Alice, the bartender says you got a bit tipsy and started to strip on one of the tables. Court date in a few days. The lawyer is coming over tomorrow. And did you find any dragons in their fridge?” Replied the tired and visibly irritated officer.
“I never got that far. And Mr. MacPherson is wrong. It wasn't the dark ales. I'm used to those. I don't remember a wedding, but remember distinctly needing something to drink.”
The officer spat his tobacco juice he'd been hoarding in his cheek over top the chair where it landed with a splat near the corner of the gray interrogation room. “Suffice it to say, you wrecked the place, took out three fake gazebo's and turned the doves loose before the wedding party got to leave.”
“I slightly remember a Jabbor-Wockey.”
“No, Mr. McTwisp, they were doves, not a...a...Jabbor-Wockey.”
“Doves you say?” Mr. McTwisp recollected no doves in any box but a huge flying nine headed Jabbor Wockey. They heard a door clang, and two sets of feet walking down the hallway. The door to the room opened, spilling in bright yellow faded florescent light from the outside.
“Hey Fargus, his aunt is here to get him.” “Well. Lucky you.” Fargus sarcastically stated. He'd heard enough, had enough and knew enough to know that this guy was heading to Bellevue as soon as the judge could write the order out.
“Aunt Mona!” Mr. McTwisp stood up unsteadily still on his feet, holding on to the brown industrial made chair.
“Come on Simpson, we can't keep Harvey waiting, you know he gets agitated in these places.”
“Yes Auntie. Where is he?”
“Waiting out in the hall.”
Both officers looked at each other as the one who brought her in shrugged. “Uh, ma'am, may I inquire as to whom this Harvey is? Brother? Father? Friend?”
Aunt Mona looked at the cop like he'd just lost his head in front of her. “He's a six foot rabbit of course! Now, come on Simpson, get to hopping, we can't keep him waiting!”
Posted by Nikhil Pant at 7:30 AM
Tuesday, August 2, 2016
Image Taken Off The Net
The following poem has been written in the Kryielle format. A kyrielle is written in quatrains (a stanza consisting of 4 lines). Each quatrain must have a repeating line or phrase as a refrain (usually appearing as the last line of each stanza). Each line within the poem consists of only eight syllables
The headstrong winds raging inside
Showing no emotions I’ve died
The heavy burden weighs me down
Lingering hate in which I drown
Bitter memories haunting past
Moments linger on shrapnel blast
Seeking to topple your crown
Lingering hate in which I drown
Seeking peace for my mind
Troubled memories past far behind
Brace to topple the demon crown
Lingering hate in which I drown
Looking inside searching for release
Prison I am locked in no peace
The whispering memories frown
Lingering hate in which I drown
Posted by Nikhil Pant at 12:00 AM
Sunday, July 31, 2016
About a few years ago when I had gotten up from a short nap on a Sunday afternoon, I noticed that a bunch of cats were making lots of noise outside the house. At first, I ignored it thinking that they will go away by themselves. But the sound was persistent. So I went outside and took a peek. It was not exactly what I had expected.
There was a mother cat with 3 kittens sitting on the driveway. The kittens were really hungry it seemed. The mother cat saw me and just froze. So I backed up a bit and started thinking what should be done next. After taking stock of the situation, I went inside to hunt for some food for the cat family. Going thru all the food items in the fridge, it was decided that just a simple bowl of milk was the best option at the moment. After locating a medium sized disposable bowl, I quickly poured some milk in the bowl and placed it near the cat/kittens, withdrew to a safe distance and hid behind the car to watch them. All four looked at me and the bowl as if I was some alien from outer space and then at the bowl of milk and then back in my general direction and then back at the bowl of milk, not knowing what to do. Finally, the mother got curious and started investigating the bowl of milk. The kittens followed suit. Apparently they liked it so much that the milk simply disappeared in a matter of minutes. I refilled the bowl of milk so that they could have something whenever they got hungry.
After hiding the kittens behind some leftover construction stuff, the mother cat went off somewhere....probably to hunt for food. She used to come by on a regular basis initially, but as the kittens grew older...the visits became less frequent.
Of the three kittens, we gave the first 2 kittens the following names: Softy and blackie. I really do not remember what the third kitten was called. I don't think we ever gave it a proper name. No name suited it. It just seemed so unfriendly and mean. We really fell in love with Softie and Blackie. We really looked forward to seeing them each and every day. They were really inquisitive, friendly, adorable and it seemed like they really did like us.
We fed them on a regular basis with whatever leftover food item we had. Whenever they got hungry between meals, they usually went on a hunting mission to see if they could catch something to eat like a mouse or a bird. As night time approached, they usually found a safe cosy corner in one of the trees or in between the leftover construction material. Early in the morning when I used to go out to get the paper, they used to see me from where ever they were hiding, run up to me and follow me around.
As time flew by, they got older, bigger, and bolder; they started venturing more and more outside our property. Pretty soon they only used to show up in the morning and in the evening by our front door and go meow...meow and wait till we showed up with something to eat. They always managed to lighten up our dull day and put a smile on our face. But I guess it was bound to happen. One fine day, they were all gone, and it has been ages since they disappeared. I think it all started with the meanie cat as I sometimes called it. It was the first one to leave. But it never occurred to me that one day that the remaining two would seek their own place. I guess what they say is true. We don't adopt cats, it's the cats who adopt us.
Posted by Nikhil Pant at 2:39 AM
Sunday, October 25, 2015
(Photo Taken From The Net)
A neglected dirt road led to a town where the creaking, weather worn swinging board at the entrance said Welcome to Indian Wells and it showed a barren land where the harsh winds refused to die down. A coyote let out a lonesome howl somewhere in the distance. The moonlit town seemed deserted except for the stray dog that was asleep under the front porch one of the few houses that stood out like eyesore on a barren landscape. It seemed to be lost in some fleeting dream as it let out a growl and then a bark before quieting down once more.
It was a lonesome Sunday night as the old woman sat on her porch, smoked the last of her cigarette and finished off her beer. Looking upwards, she saw a few stray clouds which floated past the full moon and seemed to mesmerize the viewer with its light. Tilting the hat back and wiping the sweat off her brow, the old woman looked down the valley, heard the rumble, rattle of some vehicle that sounded like it was about to fall apart. Hardly anyone ever passed through this barren, rocky, desolate windswept landscape which seemed all but forgotten unless it was hired help or if they wanted something from the Smith folks over at the other side of the hill.
The seasons had flown by and it was already early spring. A young woman had once stood on the same porch, staring outwards at the agricultural fields, yet age had taken its toll and now an ageing woman stood in her place. The memories which she had thought were long forgotten resurfaced every so often to haunt me. “You still awake?” Jim asked as he ran his fingers down the sleeping woman’s bare arm. Taking a deep breath, she shook her head and mumbled in the negative. He started to massage her neck as he heard her sob quietly as the bittersweet memories flooded back into her mind. A tinge of sadness at the loss of humanity and the promise of immortality made the woman wonder why she agreed to give it all up for the guy she loved.
Time had flown by and one moment blended into another as she tried to forget her bitter past. Her only faithful companions now were the moon and stars which lit her path. The coyotes had gone quiet as they had their fill and would leave the farm alone this night. Looking down at the field now overgrown with weeds, wild grass and shrubs, she wondered if it was possible to keep on farming in these inhospitable lands all by herself.
The over grown field needed to be plowed, leveled, seeded and fertilizer spread evenly so that another bountiful harvest could be harvested, yet the hired help had not arrived yet. Shaking her clenched fist at the sky, the old woman cursed every God she could think of and grumbled about the slim chance of rain and how it might ruin the harvest if the drought continued much longer. Looking across the field and into the barn, she decided to check the harvester, tractor and the trucks to see if they were up to the task.
Firing up the harvester was easier than the tractor which refused to cooperate. The starter coil needed to be replaced and pistons were worn out. After loading the truck with drums for diesel, she hollered at the one of the men sitting in the dark shadows that the hired help might arrive at any time and that she needed to head off to town to see what can be done about certain pending business. Grunting back an acknowledgment, a giant beast of a man hobbled down the dusty path to light the lanterns near the entrance of the farm and wait for the hired help to show up. Driving down the road towards town excited her since trips down there were rare and it gave her an opportunity to stock up on essentials and get in touch with what was happening in town. Time flew by and the huge farm fields came to an end and the truck soon started to follow a lonesome river. Looking over her shoulder, Nancy realized that the river looked so cool and refreshing and she wanted to walk barefoot on the green grass. The river looked so free and it seemed to call her out so strongly that truck seemed to hesitate for a moment.
Time started to move on ever so slowly like thickening molasses in a cold winter day. The meandering river threw her back in time to an era long forgotten. Gasping for breath she started to drown in time. One after the other, memories started to sweep past her. The dark thoughts flowing like a raging river swept her back into the past which she thought was long forgotten.
She slowly came to the senses like a snake waking up from deep sleep. The sound of a truck horn barreling past like demon on a hunt drew her out the dark thoughts she was floating in. Nancy found her way to the edge of the stream and took a moment which seemed like an eternity to wash off all the dust, grime and sweat off. Looking at the reflection in the water while the water dripped off her head and face made her realize where once stood a young woman now stood a white haired wrinkled woman who had the haunted look in her eyes. She sat awhile under the outstretched limbs of the tree and realized how lonesome her life was and wondered where she had gone wrong.
She slowly drove on and on and the remaining part of the journey was uneventful as the town grew nearer. Electricity poles, town lights and small houses started to dot the moving landscape. It was getting late, the moon would soon start sinking lower into the horizon and soon she will have to get back home before the sun reappeared over the horizon. Time flew by and pretty soon lush countryside replaced the dry dusty lands. The river had disappeared off into some other direction and heavily populated roads were seen running near the dusty road from which the lonesome traveler emerged. The sounds of long haul trucks were heard humming nearby and a lonesome train horn went off somewhere in the distance reminding her how far from home she was.
A town square emerged and the dusty truck pulled into the only rest stop. Emerging from the shadows, a large burly man stepped up to the cab door, and asked her if she wanted a takeout or would be dining inside. As the old woman stepped into the restaurant, a soft hiss and then a cough from one of the kitchen guys who was taking orders brought her out of the thoughts she was in. An order was placed and the old woman wandered off to one of the tables. After what seemed like an eternity, light spilled onto her face from the high intensity torch as one of the gargoyles who had occupied this timeless eateries stomped impatiently once more to hiss at her that the slop was ready and asked if she was heading off to the eating section or not. The infuriated woman cursed loudly, grabbed her food, headed down the hallway and back towards the eating area.
Pulling out of the joint, the truck ate up the miles as quickly as the swift winds above. A tow truck was seen pulling a car out of the ditch. The train station soon loomed into view. The train finally arrived though very late. There were a number of compartments. All were empty except the very last box. Realizing that they had reached their destination, the boys started to dismount the train and made their way to the waiting car near the exit. The small group checked their bags once more to see if everything was unloaded from the train before it was put in the car’s trunk. The constant chatter of the boys kept the old ladys mind away from the grim thoughts that were floating around in her mind. The oldest of the boys introduced himself as Tom who talked just about everything under the sun and everyone really seemed to enjoy the monologue. Pretty soon, the wandering group fell asleep one by one and the only sounds heard was the occasional snore or some deep sleep mumble as if someone was plagued by some bad dream.
The moon was lazily moving through the sky, yet it seemed like the old woman’s hunger was growing stronger with each passing moment. She tried to shrug it off till she reached her own farmlands, yet she finally decided to pull over to the side of the road near an old abandoned farmhouse. She sat awhile gripping the steering wheel tight, yet the vortex was dragging her deeper into itself.
Her malevolent eyes roamed around till it focused on the blood soaked passenger seat behind her. The eyes suddenly stopped on man who seeing the gaze fixated upon him started to hyperventilate and become wide eyed. The deep red stains on the floor in the far to corner of the left hand side door made her slowly let out a long throaty growl and the hunger grew in her stronger with each passing moment. Squirming backwards, the only surviving boy kept begging her to let him go while he started looking for an escape. The only response he heard was harsh laughter, a snarl and a swift slap which snapped his head around till it slammed into the side door. Not being able to back any further, he started to push himself up with his back towards the door while making a last ditch effort to open it while grimacing in pain as sharp teeth sunk into his neck. The last sounds that were heard before abandoning the cab after pushing it into dense undergrowth was the gasping breath of a man on his last leg. It was only a matter of time till they came home and she’ll be waiting like she did for the rest.
An old pickup truck slowly rumbled past the wooded area as if searching for something. A giant beast of a shadow leaned out and whispered the old ladys name. A few leaves rustled as a shadowy figure emerged from the woods and rushed into the waiting vehicle. A moment of silence and then the rumbling truck switched off its headlights, backed into the wooded area. A door was heard opening, truck swayed a bit and grunting sounds as if something heavy being lifted and dropped. A door slammed shut and the engine roared to life once more. Without a sound, the truck wound its way around the bend and into the dusty hills.
As the truck slowly wound its way back to the farm, a shadowy figure appeared on the passenger side and the woman asked in a hushed tone “Have they arrived yet?” A momentary silence and then replied “Yes master. I’ve lodged them in their rooms and I’ve put their luggage in their as well. They are waiting for you to return and then they’ll start their work”. Fiercely glowing lantern lit the entrance of the farm and the truck took a turn into the barren farm and finally stopped in front of the porch. Yellow light spilled out of the partially open door and in its light revealed not the stooped aging woman but a vibrant, youthful woman who had seen it all. “Back the truck into the barn and dump it all in the back. Make sure u tie them all down to the pole in the back. Don’t want them wandering off till they are ready” barked the woman. The night was drawing to a close as the moon was sinking deeper and deeper into the horizon. Walking inside, the woman shut the door waiting till the darkness covered the land once more.
Posted by Nikhil Pant at 4:54 AM
Sunday, October 11, 2015
Approximately 100 kilometers from Lucknow, there is a small temple town called Naimisharanya. It takes about two hours one way in a car. In this album, I am sharing a few photos of our journey. It includes many things like the temple itself, the agricultural fields, toll bridge, etc. Hope you enjoy the photos.
The Naimisharanya temple a major pilgrimage center and attracts devotees from all over India. Naimisharanya is situated on the left bank of the Gomti river, which is a tributary of the Ganges river. Naimisharanya is popularly known as Neemsar or Naimisha. In the Bhagavata Purana it is mentioned: naimishe animisha-kshetre. This means that Naimisha is the abode of Lord Vishnu called by his name Animisha. Sri Vishnu Sahasranama (Sloka 23) describes Lord Vishnu as Animisha, which means the one who is ever awake, ever alert, and ever vigilant.
According to ancient legends, Lord Maha Vishnu had killed demons at this place within a nimisha (nimisha is a unit of time, the time it takes to blink) and thence forth this are was called as Naimishaaranya. It is also said that when Lord Maha Vishnu killed the demon Gayasura with his Sudarshana Chakra his body was cut into three parts that fell at three places, namely Paada Gaya (Gaya Kshetra in Bihar), Naabhi Gaya in Naimisharanya and Kapali Gaya in Badri Kshetra (Badrinath). Hence Naimisharanya is also called Nabhi Gaya Kshetra.
Nemi means the outer surface of the disc (chakra) and the place where it fell is called by the name of Nemisharanya or popularly called as Naimisharanya. The spot where the Nemi of the chakra fell came to be known as Chakra Tirtha (a holy bathing place in the shape of a chakra) and the surrounding forest area as Naimisharanya. The spot where the Chakra struck the earth and water sprung out became known as Chakra Tirtha. It is said to be the center of the universe. It is said that the large sweet-water spring that marks the location of Chakra Tirtha has no bottom. It is said that if you bathe in Chakra Tirtha and make an offering to the presiding deity, Sri Lalitha Devi, on a full Moon or new Moon day that falls on a Monday, you will wash away all the sins committed in a lifetime.
Today, Naimisharanya Misrikh has numerous pilgrim places to see around. This temple is renowned from the time of Satya Yug or Kritha Yug, the most ancient times. It is the holy place where many sages have performed their penance. It is believed that on visiting this sacred place, people are rid of their sins. Upon visiting Naimisharanya, man attains Moksh (liberation)
People say that anyone who meditates hard enough over here and rids oneself of worldly desires will definitely attain some amount of divine power and force. Every year, in the Hindu month of Phalgun, a temple festival known as Chaurasi Kosi Parikrama is held in the honor of the sage.