Ten selfies

Nine shots of jäger

Eight fridge magnets

Seven birthday get-togethers

Six Instagram story tags

Five missed calls at 2am

Four white lies

Three unannounced kisses on the cheek

Two archived, muted WhatsApp groups

One mercurial friendship….

Aneesh lay in bed and watched the ceiling fan turn. Every turn a day, and every day alike, except this one. Sunday meant a visit to the grocery store for his zone, a chance to look up and see the sky and not a fan. He rolled out of bed, and lay on the ground for effect. He liked to think he was the star of a show the world watched. He waited for the taped laughter to roll in his head, stood up, took a bow and walked into the shower. 42 degrees, the precise angle mixed the right…

It announces it’s arrival and then plays coy. The more you try to ignore it, the louder it gets but it’s hard to pinpoint the source.

So you eventually give chase, catching it is the most you’ve ever wanted anything.

It slides down the curve of your neck. Runs deliberate slow circles around each shoulder blade. You follow it nervously, as it saunters across the bridge of your spine, does it know it’s being followed?

You get closer, this is chess but with higher stakes. The mere anticipation make your hands quiver

You pounce talon first, your prey is cornered, it’s pupils tiny, surprisingly, it submits, to your progressively more frequent, unbridled scratching

It quivers, and then finally dies with a smile across its face. You wonder, albeit, for a second, if it was you being hunted all along.

I want someone to blame, don’t you?

To point a finger at

Not this sinister envelope

Is it dead? Is it alive? Is it an Austrian cat?

A missive of wicked prose

Breeding as fast as a yawn or a rumour

I want someone to grab hold of

To strangle, choke and punch

Stomp it till it’s pearly whites

Lie in a puddle of bloody sinew

I wish it would admit to being evil

That it enjoys the destruction and death

So I could blame it

But it just sits there

Shamelessly basking in collective fear

Killing without glee or remorse

Perversely, as just as the blindfolded statue

A virus I’ll forgive

But you, you smug bastard

You, I’ll remember

Her name was Lakshmi

Carefully braided hair, wound up so tight

With two tiny red bows

To let the hair know

Where to start curling upward

The bows were always red

Perhaps to match her shiny name badge

Which pinned down a handkerchief

With the letters L S in cursive

Bordered with floral motifs in a soft purple

She had a raspy voice

Like chalks on a blackboard

Less mellifluous, more tortuous.

But I liked hearing it

I didn’t want to kiss her or say I love you

Or have her say I love you back

I didn’t want to…

You wear the clothes they give you, the snazziest, funkiest, most ridiculous pieces of clothing ever made, with more pockets than buttons, zippers that lead nowhere, and abstract swathes of neon, a cross between a cowboy, an astronaut and a highway signboard.

Balloons everywhere, deflated and tied together, one kid starts to jump on them till they pop, all the other kids join in, the mob has arrived.

As the kids enter the hall, in eyes wide shut fashion, they’re given a mask (not N95), Mickey or Donald (not Trump), held uncomfortably close to the face by a size zero…

In the beginning there was

Nothing, zilch, nada, 0

Now you’re all alone with 1

Packet of Maggi

But 1 is always too little

And 2, is always too much

So you find a friend

And make 3

Goldilocks concurs, it was just about right

Happy us, high 5?

I should stop now before it’s too late

You’re probably hungry thinking about

All the Maggi I just 8

Dream a little dream of me

My favourite recurring dream as a young adult (both an oxymoron and a regular type of moron) was discovering that I could jump really long distances, distances so long that you could squeeze it into the flying category. I wasn’t much of a flapper, but I’d glide over surfaces with ease, and could will myself a little bit farther with impressive resolve. The best thing by far, was that I was pessimistic enough to consider if I was dreaming, I’d quickly conclude I wasn’t, like taking the red pill.

I stopped flying when I…

This is not a political post, any resemblance to this government, the last vote you cast, or the one before that, is purely coincidental

Your old car is rusty and has more scratches than paint, in some ways it’s scratch coloured, with paint marks? It runs okay, but it’s old, and change must be a good thing, you figure, as you trudge over to the nearby dealership.

The sales guy has an overbearing shiny moustache and a Mickey Mouse power tie, he smiles too much and compliments your jawline (you’re pretty certain you never had one, but that’s a minor…

He closes his eyes and repeats the words to a prayer his mother taught him. He knows exactly three and a half minutes of it, because that’s the time it used to take from getting into the car to reaching his school gate every morning.

He then picks up some vibhuti (sacred ash) and applies it on his forehead, pops some into his mouth, a dash on his neck, and lifts out his perfectly tucked in shirt, to dab some just above his belly button. …

Aneesh Sivakumar

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