Let me go in peace,
Let me grow in peace,
Take my feet, if you want,
It’s just a little piece.

You chained me to yourself,
Made me hate myself,
You’ve won this game of yours,
Let me save myself.

Let me go in peace,
I’d like for my tears to cease,
You’ve had your fun enough,
I’d like some breathing space.

I won’t say that I hate you,
There are no words to rate you,
I believe I’m just spent,
So please, grant me the grace of leaving you

Let me go in peace,
Let me grow in peace,
You’ve taken my feet, so congrats,
It’s just a little piece.

I’m not sure what car I’m driving.

All I know is that its a manual transmission, 5 gear system, though my feet has been on the gas for a while now and I haven’t had to slow down yet. I don’t know where I am, or where I’m headed to. I’m just driving.

The last thing I remember was laying in the hospital bed speaking to Katie and Susie. They were crying. Fuck it. *We* were crying. I was unbearably weak and it hurt to cry but I cried nonetheless. It was the thought of not being able to see Susie grow up. The thought of not being able to cuddle with my wife after a long day at work. Cancer was a bitch.

When all was said and done, I opened my eyes to this highway. I don’t know what the weather is like but I can feel the wind in my hair and it feels good. It’s dark. I think I’m in a sandy area. It’s hard to tell from the darkness, but no matter how much I try to focus on my surroundings, my eyes get pulled back to the road. The smoothness of it, the way the car handles.

I’ve been driving long enough that I’m beginning to feel like the car was specifically made for me. It handles so fucking well, it’s like whoever put me in it, created it from scratch from everything in my memory. Everything about the car feels like the best aspect of all the cars I’ve ever driven.

Time is useless. I’ve tried counting the seconds to minutes to hours and I’ve given up on the idea. Time is inconsequential. The more I enjoy riding in the car, the more the wind makes me feel calm, I keep casting my mind back to when I met Katie.

It was at University. First week. The student unions had organised a bar crawl around the local town and I had joined my new housemates out that night. Katie was in the second bar we entered in. She stood by herself at the bar, drinking. I know I was tipsy but the way the light caught her frame, it was like time slowed to a stop. Blonde haired, fit-bodied beauty that I stammered my way to a conversation that made her laugh.

Then she poured her drink over me and stomped out the bar.

I chuckle at the memory. It had taken two months after that before I met her again. Turns out we share a course. I think I had apologized then but she still didn’t accept it. But I’m persistent. I think. Wore her down with my charm. The sudden brightening of my surrounding pulls me out of my memory. I am in a black desert after all. Odd.

Never knew black deserts were possible.

Then again, I don’t think I’ve ever really opened my eyes to new things without Katie’s help. And Susie. And Martha, Joe, Shawn and every other person.

There was this one time when…

I would like to believe that I have been driving for decades at this point. It’s just a random number but it is the best I can estimate. It’s the least I want to estimate. The feeling I had gotten from the drive initially has dissipated away. It took a few years for that glow to wipe away. Now I see it for what it really is.

The black desert had been an illusion. A trick of the eye. A sleight of hand to make me believe I was experiencing that which had never been seen before. I couldn’t be farther from the truth. I quickly found out that the longer I drive, the more I remember about my life. The memories I had once thought forgotten come back to the forefront of my mind. The images would flash through me, vividly as if I am living it anew.

I remember with more detail than I care for, the feeling of my mum’s breastfeeding. I remember the first punch I took to the face because my father decided it was never too early in my life to show me how much of a bastard he was. I remember discovering new sensations under the Oak tree behind the house, before we moved locations after the divorce. I remember the lies. The heartbreaks, every single one of them.

With each memory, the environment lightens up. When I woke up to this scene, it was as dark as a quiet night down the highway. Now it’s as bright as summer’s day. And I understand why. I wonder if Katie would judge me. After all, she’s the reason I’ve done the things I’ve done.

As I said, decades here make you think. And when you’re remembering everything, you remember the bad too. I remember the secrets I’ve buried and all the times I forced it back into the grave whenever it tried to surface.

When Katie was still pregnant with Susie… things were hard. I remember the letters of foreclosure I hid from her view. The mortgages were getting to me, I was demoted at work, funds were tight and I found myself increasingly at the bottom of numerous bottles. It was bleak and with her due date approaching, I found myself in a dark place. She kept saying it will be alright… whenever she saw me worry.

“We’ve got this…

That was her favourite saying.

I remember the downtrodden bar I walked into that night. The seedy kind with the “no camera” rule for accountability or lack thereof purposes. I remember the 10 shots of “me intentionally trying to kill myself” shots I had before I got roped into a conversation on making quick cash. Some men had propositioned me. They needed a driver. And they were offering to pay some disgusting amount of cash.

I was skittish at first, but then I remembered why I was at the bar and not with Katie.

So I agreed.

I was the driver of four unfortunate men that night.

But I got the money I needed to bounce back.

The sun is hanging high in the sky at the moment, and it’s so goddamn hot. The speed of the car doesn’t change but the wind blowing through my hair has lost its cool. It’s hot air now. The uncomfortable kind. I undo the top buttons of the shirt I didn’t notice I was wearing. I guess my awareness is returning with my memories, albeit at a slower pace. My fingers feel cramped up and I take some time to flex both hands.

It is only then I notice that I am not alone in the car. In fact, with that realisation, I get the intense feeling that reveals to me that I haven’t been alone in the car since the beginning of my journey.

So I turn.

I turn to face the four men, whose faces I wished to never see again.

I can’t stare at them for long. My eyes get pulled back to the road. So I take glances at them, just as they take glances at me. I see their expressions change from fear to anger to fear again. They think I am the one who’s brought them here. I want to tell them that we are all stuck in the same car but when my mouth opens, no sound comes out of it. Nothing. I try again but I hear nothing, and my mouth doesn’t move either.

I close it and focus back on the road, even as it transports me back to the night I met the four gentlemen.

Jack, Ahmed, Lewis and Rocky. Jack and Lewis were brothers, with the former being the eldest. Ahmed was a friend of theirs from a life before. They wouldn’t explain where but I don’t think I was lucid enough to demand to know. I was in doubles by then and the talk of money meant I didn’t really care about the extra information. Rocky was like me. A straggler recruited to join an expedition of sorts.

The plan was that I was going to drive them to a location for them to pick up some stuff, then drive to another location where I’d just have to wait for a few moments, before driving to go pick the money up. The location of the money was going to be given after they had returned from wherever I was going to be waiting for them at. Temporarily skittish, but money won.

They had made me chug down a lot of water before the drive began.

You have to be very awake, they had repeated as I threw up and drank more water outside the bar.

You’re our important piece.

Ahmed gave everyone a pair of gloves to wear, on account of the cold, or so I thought before we had all piled into a nondescript white van, with Jack and I in the front. The rest of the lads had piled up in the back. I drove them to the shed of a house out in the country, past midnight, where I waited as they went to retrieve their tools from the shed. I figure, out of mind, out of fucking sight, you know.

If I don’t know what ‘tools’ they are getting from the shed, I don’t have to know what job it is they are doing past freaking midnight.

They all return, excited about the trip ahead. I nervously nod as Jack directed me to the next location. The drive there was quiet. Jack didn’t talk much but instead seemed to periodically massage a slight bulge of sorts in his jacket pocket. My mind had screamed that it was a gun which made my body more obedient. If it was a weapon, I wasn’t going to act out while I was driving. My grip on the wheel had tightened in response.

He made me stop on a quiet street in the suburbs. The street was empty as well as the houses. I didn’t have to wonder anymore about what I had been drawn into. I was with robbers. Jack made me give him my ID, on account of me not getting cold feet at the last minute, which was a plan I had hoped to enact. I curse in my head as he took my wallet before vanishing into the darkness with his boys.

Those were the first longest waiting period I’d ever have to endure. The seconds dragged on and I kept apologising to Katie in my head. I had cried a few times too, lamenting at the stupid excuse I had given her.

“Working late baby… Will be back in the morning”, was my official story.

It felt like I was probably going to die.

My phone had vibrated and I had checked to see who was messaging me. Katie. I read the message from the notification but I don’t reply. I can’t reply. I can’t bring myself to.

Oh Katie…

After an excruciating thirty minutes wait, they had returned rushing back into the van, urging I put my foot on the gas and peel off. The window separating the guys in the back and us in front was open even as the details of the nights’ events spilled out before me. It was worse than I thought. I knew then that I was damned.

“Whatever you do, don’t fucking stop…” Jack had said excitedly as he licked his lips.

He had placed the gun I suspected he had on the dash of the van even as I sped through the street. I look through the rearview mirror and catch the colour of bright red flash before I turn the corner. Smoke. Fire.

As the others chattered on in the background, I gathered more information about the group of men I had associated myself with that night. Hired killers. They hadn’t gone to rob a house. They had gone to kill a man and his family. Except the reason it had taken so long for them to return is because of the heinous acts they had committed to the family. I remembered saying a quiet prayer for them.

I swallowed back a vomit as Jack made a call. I had heard him mumble a few sentences but the words that stood out to me was money and account. Once the call was done, Jack called out to the group.

“Guys… we’re home free. $10 MIllion. They are sending the address over, we can split the cash and pretend we don’t know each other” Jack called out laughing, even as the burner phone buzzed.

10 fucking million…

His eye lit up while mine locked on the gun. For self preservation.

The weather is fucking sweltering at the moment. I feel like I should be dying, dead or melting at this point but the drive continues. My shirt is off. My trousers are off. I’m driving fucking naked. The car moved regardless of whether or not my feet was on the gas. My hands are the only thing glued to the wheel.

My passengers are naked too. They can feel the heat. The car speeds up faster and faster and the heat is unbearable. I know why they look afraid. Why they looked like they were…begging. It made sense after the memory.

My secret is not that I was with them on the night they raped and killed a family.

It is a secret. But not The secret.

The van that night had a locking mechanism that meant whoever is in the back can’t open the door from inside. It had to be done from outside. So when we were close to a bridge I recognised, I grabbed the gun from the dash and put some bullets into Jack without hesitation. I remember the howl his brother made as I grabbed the burner phone. I pointed the van towards the water and exited the vehicle. I watched it go over the edge. I waited to hear the splash. I made a copy of the location of the money before making an anonymous call to the Police.

Then I had left.

Once I had gotten the money, I made another call that night to tell someone that “it’s gone full circle”

“We’ve got this…”

I smile ruefully as the memory dissipates. I glance again and find that the four passengers in my car are gone. It’s just me now. Alone in the burning heat as the car speeds up. I wonder if that’s the trick of the road. Maybe it is supposed to make me reflect on my act. I chuckle at the idea.

I don’t think I’m getting off the road like the four men just did. I think I will be driving for a long time. There is so much more aspects to that secret after all.

I do wonder though…

I wonder when Katie will join me.

It has been forever since I came here to write anything… And to be honest, I’m kinda sad it has taken me that long especially after the whole “I’m going to write more” posts. Nonetheless, I guess I should still be happy I’m here.

I’m here.

To start with, I have been writing… I have been writing a lot more than I thought I would ever write in my life, to be completely honest with you. I have been a redditor (term for person who has a Reddit account) for a while but I joined a subreddit (site within Reddit) dedicated to writing and I’ve been using it to practice and hone the craft.

As a result, I ended up creating a subreddit of mine, where I posted the story responses to the prompts put up on the site. And that spurned out a lot of good things for me.

With all that happening, I was fortunate to befriend a lot of writers in the community who helped me get better with their feedback and criticisms and it all led to the following;

  • I finished and won at NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for the first time in my life.
  • The novel I wrote for NaNo was a novel that spawned out from a prompt on the WritingPrompts subreddit
  • Said novel is complete and currently in the editing process.
  • Also, wrote a few stories which were well received by the community enough for me to kickstart my own Subreddit.
  • And now I have some serialised stories which get posted on a weekly basis for people to read.

There are no words to really express how my writing over the last few months has transformed into something completely different and how the journey has taken me so far. It’s exciting and I can’t wait to do more.

Secondly, if you’ve been here long enough, then you’ve surely seen my back and forth writings about life and what not. Life has been pretty awesome. Turns out I needed to grow some and change my outlook on certain things in my life, and my unwillingness to do so made me experience or rather, deal with my emotions immaturely.

PS: I don’t mean that everything’s fixed or great, but everything’s good and I am content.

Lastly, my girlfriend is awesome, but that’s a different post on its own.

All in all, I’m happy to be back. I’m not going to make the promise of “I’ll write more here” and all that like I did last year, but I will try and be here a lot more than I have been last year.

If anything, I will be cross-posting the serials here also, under the serials tab so that you amazing people here can also read along with everyone else on my subreddit.

Thanks for being here, all the same.

 

The moment drowns out the noises,
Even as the colours fade to from the background.
You’re just left in the cold darkness
Staring into space,
Your heartbeat keeping you company.

It’s louder than usual.

Forcefully going through the motions of life,
That you’re out of breath from the reality of it.
Your lungs are working overtime to compensate.
There isn’t enough oxygen through your nostrils,
So you open your mouth for assistance.

You hear a faraway sound say
“You’ll be alright”
But as if on cue,
Your heart ups the ante and calls the bluff.

Your fingers wrap tightly around the first thing it can grip,
Your eyes get wider and colour comes rushing back into view.
Unyielding, unrelenting.
Everything shines with a glare that mocks you with the opposite statement.
“You’re not going to be alright”

You shut your eyes to blind yourself to the accusations.
You ululate in your mind to block the echoes reinforcing the statement.
It’s like you’ve been dropped in the ocean.
So you sink to the deepest parts,
Your arms flailing in slow motion as you attempt to swim to the top.

But you’re failing.

The darkness has come to claim you.

Then you feel a warmth,
A light breaking through the fog of cloud numbing your external senses.
It pulls you up,
Slowly as you escape the maw of the beast about to consume you.
You hear a voice, calm and soothing.
It repeats one word that widens your nostrils and calms your nerves.

“Breathe…”

Your body complies as if on command,
And your heart relents its force on your veins.
The world returns into focus.

“Breathe…”

So you breathe. Slowly, as you try to regain control of yourself.

So you breathe.

Responsibility is light.
Responsibility is heavy.

Responsibility is as light as a feather,
The spring in your step propelling you further till you fly,
It becomes the wings on your back,
Lifting you past the clouds till you’re up on high…
It is the cool shades you wear when you step into a function,
It draws the eyes of admiration on you.
For you,
It blots out the stars till you’re the only star shining.
The brightness lighting up the dark sky so intensely,
It only made sense for everyone else to shield their eyes.

Responsibility is the twinkle in your eye.
The confidence in your actions that make everyone want to stand behind you.
The winning smile that lets you past the doors that once kept you.
It is the strength you never knew you had or wanted,
Equipped to lift the burden of others.
It is the hope of tomorrow,
The sunrise on another day.
The assurance that you are in a better place than you once were.

It is freedom.

And it makes you cry.

Tears of joy, yes,
But not without merit.

After all those years of waiting, you’ve finally gotten here,
And it is everything you’ve wanted.

Responsibility is heavy.

It drags you off the edge of a cliff,
And lets you hit the waters with no mask.
So you gasp for air but the lack thereof doesn’t kill you.
You just suspend in viscous space,
As the liquid sears your lungs and makes you cry out for relief.

It is the bags beneath your eyes because you haven’t been sleeping.
How can you?
When it is knocking on your walls,
Questioning every decision you’ve made and
berating you for the ones you didn’t make.
So it renames you as “Negligent”

“You thought you had the right stuff but you don’t” It says.

Responsibility is a duty.

It commands. Never requests.
It punishes when you fail to reach the criteria it sets before you,
Even if the rule-book to your actions have been hidden from you.
It demands the entirety of your being,
Gifting you a burden that you can’t give to anyone else.

It gives you the option to ignore it,
Of which it incrues an interesting amount of interest on it.
So that when you return,
You will find your responsibility ripe with profits that you really don’t want.

Responsibility is not kind.
It is not cruel nor is it wicked.
It doesn’t love you and won’t give itself to hate.

It simple requires your best “you”.

And sometimes, that’s not enough.

There are days when the sun in the sky is not as bright as it usually is.
To me.
The heat is either absent or scorching as sweat travels down my face,
never welcoming because there is no such welcome on days like this.
Days when laughter fails to lift your spirit up, instead reminds you of the
very obvious fact that today is one of those days you wish you could pick
up a remote and skip to the end.
But you can’t. I can’t.
Life becomes the cinematic experience that demands I get comfortable
with my popcorn in hand and tolerate the bits that come after.
There are days when music doesn’t move you. Doesn’t move me.
I, instead, dwell on the words till I find myself skipping through tracks as
I search for the musical notes that match the tempo of the mood the day
has put me in.
Days when you feel defeated.
Even when your belt and your trophy case are filled with your victories.
Days when everything just feels… grey.
Like the Instagram filter of reality has decided that the vintage grey-scale
tone is a better fit for your viewing pleasure.
Days when nothing feels right, nothing sounds right and you can’t stop
thinking about the green grass on the other side, except for the fact
that you don’t even know what it looks like.
Days like this when it’s hard to explain the nuances of how you feel
because words don’t quite capture the totality of the emotion…
Like a jigsaw puzzle missing a piece you just can’t place. But you know…
You know, that in some form… it exists.
There are days like these…
When all you want, is for the colour to return back.
And so you wait.

The room is cold. Harsh. Unforgiving.

But it’s safe here.

It’s home here.

Everything freezes in here. Left to hang in the air like unsaid words and unresolved emotions. It’s much better in the long run.

It’s better than the fires outside that are licking the frame of the door, begging that I open up so that they can engulf me in their responsibility.

In their warmth. In their potential for great things spanning countries and changing lives around the globe.

Their fire for making everyone around happy and content that I’m not a popsicle like the rest of them, but the rest of them are here and I can tell they are cool.

But this is better. Much better than playing with a natural energy source and watching it consume me. Why would I risk being burnt alive? What’s the endgame there?

Success or cremation? And they think I would risk it all for that?

So yeah, this is fine.

This is fine.

I agree my fingers might be numbing off from inactivity and the general lack of engagement for it’s better this way.

It means I won’t be able to carry anything after a while.

That said…

It is very cold…

We are who we are

We are the children of the Earth,
the pride of the Motherland,
the beautiful melanated hue of human origin,
the inhabitants of the spectrum between light and dark tones,
comforted at the truth that at our core,
we know who we are…

We are the men seen as lesser men,
by lesser men who had gotten it in their heads,
that we were lesser than them.
So they tied, beat and tortured us,
moved us over the sea in an effort to own us,
and if they couldn’t cull us,
would relegate us to Poseidon’s waters
where we would watch the surface drift farther away,
as our shackles dragged us to the bottom.

And even then,
amongst the creatures at the depths of the world,
they still couldn’t break us.

We are the 5am Nurturers and Gatherers,
toiling through the field for produce
just so that we can feed our young and ensure they see a better tomorrow,
because today just feels a little harder than it should.
We watered the earth with our tears,
and reaped our sown seeds with sweat and death,
even as they tried to break us,
but they only succeeded in making us stronger.

We are the families with one less member in the family.
So Mummy’s out there working two jobs and a late shift,
just to keep a warm bed to cuddle into at night.
Because Daddy’s not coming.
Because Daddy went shopping with Uncle Timmy for some flour.
but Uncle Timmy can still walk the streets,
while Daddy’s under a strict curfew and stricter visiting hours.

We are the marchers and the protesters,
clicking our fingers to the mental replay of Martin’s speech,
so we light the metaphorical candle in our hands,
as we sway from side to side,
humming a consistent song,
“Free at last”, or so it would have gone,
as we realise that they still haven’t managed to break us.

So they switched formation.

Drycleaned the white robes, got into politics.
Burnt all their crosses, and made laws instead.
Decade long feature movies of their hit novel
“How to Oppress from behind the Curtain”
Made strides at conversation with us,
out of the mouth of a metal barrel.
They wanted compliance,
with a medical dose of a bullet per prescription

And yet,

We are still who we are.

We are the entreprenuers of a new age,
with new dreams that have no shackles on.
We are the executives and the cooks, the businessmen and women,
the lawyers, engineers and high school student with 83 college acceptances

We are the trendsetters, the music moguls,
the ” Who Run The World” ladies with unstoppable energy

We are excellence itself.

We are the Kings and Queens of civilisation,
the rulers of ancient lands over the waters,
descendants of the birthplace of life itself.

We are the mothers and fathers,
brothers, sisters and uncles,
that stand side by side with those we call our own.

We are black.

We are proud.

“I remember when I spoke about Kevin to my work colleagues for 30 minutes straight before they understood I was talking about my dog.

And yes. My current companion is Kevin, and he’s an adorable german shepherd. A” good boy”, if you will.

And Kevin is wonderfully intelligent. I mean, He’s far more intelligent than I give him credit for. It could explain why I sometimes talk to him like he can talk to me back. On some days, I wish he can. But dreams are dreams for a reason.”

I recline back on the lawn chair and watch him run back and forth in the backyard, chasing a harmless butterfly. He keeps yelping and leaping rather enthusiastically, I’m inclined to believe he’s putting on a show for me. It’s almost ethereal.

It makes me laugh.

I call out to him and he comes trotting towards me, almost matter-of-factly, like I had just interrupted his day’s work but the manner in which his tail wagged told me he was happy. I was happy too. I had spent enough time not being happy so this…this is nice.

“This is essential. Without Kevin, I would probably have made a bad choice down the line. Sarah’s death took a lot out of me. More than I even knew I had. The days got shorter, the nights got longer. I remember the vivid hours I spent just drinking and crying and then drinking some more before dragging myself to work.

Heck, I think I drank enough to ruin my liver, but I don’t think I’m going to the doctor’s just yet. No reason to chase bad news. If I have, I will find out eventually if it becomes a thing.

At the moment though, I’m okay with Kevin.

I did say he was intelligent, didn’t I? There was this one time, right… I was rushing out of the house, still fresh from Sarah’s death, but feeling much better. Kevin had only been around the house then, like… say… 5 months. Not enough time to be able to get what I mean, you know.

See I got moments, when I’m so comfortable with him, I sometimes call out Sarah’s name before I remember that it’s just me and him.

Anyway, so I’m rushing out of the house now, searching for my house and car keys, and it’s doing my head in, you see. I was already running late, so I was getting kind of desperate. On instinct, I call out to “Sarah” to help me find my keys. I hear his paws as they padded its way up the stairs but I don’t register it.

A few moments later, as I sat on the couch, I hear a woof and I see him, wagging his tail, my keys at his feet. He woofs again, bending to carry the keys in his mouth as he moved to drop it in my open palm. It was then I knew, that He was much more than I give him credit for.

I think it’s the quiet way he just seems to understand what I’m thinking or what I need.”

He nuzzles my open hand and I move to rub his head. He was a good boy.

“Sir… This is what we mean when we say it would be best, if you came to the Home with us. For moments like this. There’s no Kevin in the garden”, I hear the attendant in the white dress next to me.

I can hear the pen as it scribbles on the pad she’s carrying. Probably a stooge from the council to get me to sell my house and move into a home. I laugh quietly. Kevin woofs by my side.

“Of course, there’s no Kevin in the garden. Had to take him to the vet last year…” I clear my throat before continuing…

“…So yeah… I know he’s not in the garden. And yet, he’s next to me wondering why you’re bothering me.”

The attendant remains a straight face and I can’t resist the wide smile that forms on my lips. They will keep sending these guys till I bite a proposal. But I’m in no rush.

Kevin is here. I am content.

I am tired

From the moment I decided to wake up from whatever dream I was having

Tired because of how long the previous day had me feeling

Tired because of the hours spent overnight thinking

Tired because the thoughts in my head prevent my resting

So I wake up tired.

Headache banging, my impromptu alarm clock with no snooze button

Mouth dry and clammy as my body has redirected the liquid to its exit by my eyelids

Exhaustion caused by the mental alchemy of turning depression into physical defects

The shot glass remains ever empty, but I can’t deny the impulse.

The thought of the brief release as it wrecks my nerves.

The bitter aftertaste as the burn travels down my throat

So I look up, past the clouds, with a sincere hope that my Creator is looking back at me.

“I’m here… I’m lost… When you can please holler back at me…

Because the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer and I’m not coping properly…

And I’m using all I have, to do all I can, but things are not as it should be…

I know I’m not the best, I don’t think I measure up to the rest, but please turn your gaze back to me…

Because I’m tired…

…oh so tired…

I’m getting tired of being me”