Once upon a time, in a faraway land lived a young girl with her parents. She was quite the queer sort, had trouble fitting in with her peers, couldn’t read or write and had a terrible time at school. The toddler faced a lot of ridicule and humiliation at the hands of her teachers, had basically no friends. The only friends she had were two bullies, on was a liar and a thief, and the other had a hidden cruelty in her. They kept her around so they could brow-beat the girl for fun…children are cruel. At home, the parents always fought. Screaming, shouting and more…the parents didn’t have enough money, had a lot of debt and they were extremely incompatible. The mother was insensitive who always remained drowned in her own sorrows: She was an orphan, had a brother with down’s syndrome and it was through a lot of toil and trouble she pursued her education and became a teacher. The father was an oversensitive man: He was neglected as a child, never loved by his mother and the woman he loved married someone else. The only reason these two ended up together is because the wife looked like his lost-love, and the reason she married him was because she needed a safe haven for herself and her retarded brother. Until they started living together, the young couple didn’t realize how utterly destructive they were together. All the did was fight…to add to this uncomfortable situation, the woman was pregnant. She gave birth to a beautiful little baby-girl, and then ignored her for the rest of childhood. The girl grew up unloved and neglected, prone to anxiety and mockery…no one would help, they wouldn’t teach her anything. But she was an intelligent child, she learnt how to get their attention, since crying didn’t work she developed her listening skills. She became her mother’s confidante, her mother told her every minute, miserable detail of her painful past, her disadvantageous present and that is how the mother slowly started noticing her. To be quite honest, the woman hadn’t thought of her as a blessing before this.
Young Galilea Warren came to the town of Hemlock with her parents when she was seven. She had heard wonderful stories of her father’s childhood. She had noticed the soft hint of nostalgia on his face, his bittersweet countenance when he talked about how life had changed. Twenty seven years ago on New Year’s Eve, when Galilea was busy playing with her dolls and the parents were having tea, the phone rang twice. And with that call Galilea’s wonderful childhood came to cease.
It was her grandmother, something bad had happened to her. She was in the hospital, and when Paul heard, he fell into a silence. The phone hit the floor, a devastated look on his face. Gilly watched her dad, she knew something bad had happened.
It was meant to be a small visit, her grandma had stage four Cancer and it was too late for the doctors to save her. It was her last wish to see her children live together, for them to take care if her husband. So with grandma’s passing, Hemlock became the new home of Galilea Warren.
Paul Warren, Galilea’s father, was a self-made man: who after bearing a lot of hardships became the highly successful owner of Warren Hardware Industries. He married his college crush, Ms. Amelia Greer. After three years of marriage, they welcomed a daughter into their lives and became a complete family.
Relating to the characteristics of the nouveau riche: they lived a life extravagant, almost royal. A lifestyle suited to the elite but much too ostentatious for small town folks of Hemlock. Their extravagance became the hot gossip of the poisonous dwellers of Hemlock.
Her parents moved her grandfather to a mansion that Paul bought. And with her grandfather, came her uncle, aunt and cousin. All the Warrens under one roof just like her grandmother wanted. The people of Hemlock had never seen such money.
Galilea’s parents changed. They were no longer the happy couple they once used to be. Her Grandfather didn’t like her uncle Nate, Aunt Vi or her cousin Gemma. However he respected Paul for making something of himself but couldn’t care less about Amelia and Gilly.
Her mother became busy living the life of a socialite, busy competing with Victoria. Uncle Nate was an alcoholic. He’d always be in the garden sipping his whisky from a silver-crested navy blue flask. He was a jolly drunk, a happy man who loved playing with Gem and Gilly. He was a useless schmuck, but somehow he was the only member of the family that Gilly didn’t despise.
Earl Warren, an old man who hated everyone he knew. He didn’t want to live with his sons but even after his wife’s death, she had a penchant for making him do things he didn’t want, from beyond the grave.
Gemma Warren lived a lonely life. Her father spent most of his time with his flask and her mother ignored her. Victoria told Gemma that she was a needy rat and that she had ruined her mother’s life. When she was eight, they moved into the new mansion. To her it was a huge palace which came with a companion. Gemma loved Gilly, she saw how different Gilly was. They looked nothing alike and they had starkly contrasting personalities. But being stuck in the same dysfunctional situation, they found common ground.
Gilly had only one person in that town, Gemma. The girls and boys in school teased her because she was chubby and had rich parents, they often threw tomatoes or other squishy things at her. Gemma tried to protect her. They stayed side-by-side like neighbours in their corresponding bedrooms. They’d talk about their lives and gossip about school. Both of them felt content, at least this was okay. At least, they had each other.
Victoria and Amelia detested each other. Victoria often openly wished Amelia dead. Amelia couldn’t be bothered by Vi’s stupid theatrics. Nobody made anything of their feud, i.e, until Amelia died.
Let’s begin at the beginning. It was a quiet evening when I pulled up outside the Warrens’ front porch. It didn’t bother me that even after the passage of Ten Years; their house had not changed a bit. The place looked as ugly as always. I never would come here, not if I had my way. But when your grandfather makes you the executor of his will, you have no choice but to visit this hell hole where you were, unfortunately, born.
My name is Galilea Warren. Yes, derived from the great astronomer’s name. Let’s just say growing up with that name was not an easy thing. Gillian, Jill, Gale, Galileo, Lea, Lily…were the names preferred by my peers and teachers. I hate this town, I hate the people who live here and I hate that I had to come down here for this stupid funeral.
I stared at the door, the leaves scattered hither-thither. The door opened and I saw a distraught looking woman calling me over. At first glance, something about her lanky, malnourished appearance would make you pity her but that would be a rookie mistake, under that fragile yet effective guise was a heathen. Behind the posh, Botox-ed exterior lied a cruel, manipulative and money-grubbing bitch. Oh, and she’s not malnourished, just bulimic. She was dressed in half-mourning clothes and had fabulously covered up her bald spot with a brown weave.
Victoria welcomed Gilly inside, as always, she had a bit of an air which never sat well with Gilly. Victoria said, “Hi, you’re here. Didn’t think we’d see you…last time I saw you, it was on Gemma’s wedding night. Which was about two years ago.” She followed that with a coy smile, a smile so fake that it made Gilly want to jump back onto the porch and howl for a Taxi at this godforsaken hour. But as disturbed as she felt, over the years she had learnt how to deal with dimwits such as most of her relatives. Gilly smiled, she replied, “Yeah, sorry aunt Vi. I was just busy with my job and life. All of us can’t sit around with a Marie Claire in one hand and Margherita in the other.” Gilly smirked while Victoria gave her a steely smile and staggered away into the living room.
The living room was full of people, people I did not know. I just smiled politely to avoid the possibility of having to engage in tedious small talk. I navigated through the crowd and tried to find a familiar face. And I stumbled upon my married cousin Gemma making out with what’s-his-face in the Coat room. I would have just slipped out but Gem stopped me. She pushed away that guy who couldn’t stop slobbering all over her and made her way to me.
Gemma was feeling unhappy; she saw gloom everywhere. She watched everyone being busy in their small groups, just like high school. All alone since birth, until her last breath. Amidst all the thoughts she looked at the young guy checking her out. She saw the signs of trouble but it was either a tall drink of blonde boy or a shot of vodka in a pre-funeral party with no alcohol. She went over to him, the boy flirted with her a little and then they went over to the Coat room, or the room which used to be her bedroom. Proximity, a tinge of desperation with the heady intoxication of overflowing serotonin and adrenaline. Yes, that is the novice’s guide on how to complicate your love life. A five-minute tongue-fest later, Gemma noticed a figure trying to slip away. She wouldn’t have bothered to stop till she saw that it was her best friend, Gilly.
Gemma pounced on me, she planted kisses on my cheeks and it did make me smile. Gemma grabbed my hand and led me to the attic. The attic was the only place where we could be ourselves: Our secret paradise in the woeful era of our teen years. I looked at her, she had changed. Her eyes seemed sad, and she looked like a lost puppy. Like a very attractive, rose-blonde puppy.
Gemma couldn’t keep her excitement in check, she had to hold Gilly. It had been so long since she had seen her. Gilly had long black hair, she looked small and all that baby fat seemed to have disappeared into thin air. Gemma had this stingy feeling prodding her mind. She felt jealous.
I asked her how she was doing; she said that Doug, her husband, was too busy working to ever be seen with her. She said that the boy was just a way to get her away from this boring situation. She said that she didn’t expect to see me here.
I didn’t know why but I felt no curiosity about her. I actually did not care what was happening in her life, how different she had become. I just didn’t care. She went on about her boring bullshit, whined about some picket-fence family problems. Something about wanting to get pregnant, all of it: dull, useless conversation. I gave her a small smile, said a few cliché things about how I’m happy for her and how I hope she gets all the happiness in the world.
Gemma could see that Gilly was indifferent to her, she poured out all her thoughts in front of Gilly. But Gilly wasn’t interested. She saw her trying to feign interest but she couldn’t hide how bored she felt with this conversation.
I spoke up; I told her that I was now a tenured professor of Biochemistry. She grinned and congratulated me. She asked me why I came, I told her about the will. I said that I’d leave right after the wake was over, just after announcing his last thoughts. Gemma asked, “Why did he make you the executor of his will?” I said, “Probably because he knew that this was the only way I’d come to this town.” We laughed over the weird antics of that deluded old man. God, he was an old-fashioned bore who had nothing in common with either of us.
I did feel a bit of nostalgia but my memories were mostly a composite of bad events, worse people and unnecessary drama.
I’m bored and vacant. Nothing comes to mind, not a single idea. What do I write? I am sitting here on my bed, feeling inexplicably blank. My chest feels hollow and my thoughts have no allure. Writer’s block: that’s the name of my infliction. What do I do with my time? I don’t have any work, television has lost it’s charm. I could listen to music but for some unfathomable reason, I don’t want to.
I need inspiration, something to entice me. This vacancy doesn’t feel good, I mean I am fine but I’m stagnant. Stagnancy is bad, still waters run dry. Maybe, I should tell you a bit more about myself. I love fast-paced music, beautiful vocals and deep lyrics. I never feel lonely, I love being alone. My most precious position is my freedom. I’ve mentioned all of this before. Nothing new to be added, and I don’t want to repeat my words like a broken record.
Everything is bland and I feel exhausted because of this inactivity. So much so, that I’m writing about the fact that I have nothing to write about. Maybe it’s the weather: gloomy and dispiriting.
I want to know why everything seems so ordinary. I feel a little dejected with my lack of material. If you’re reading this, how about some criticism? Tell me how I can improve upon my work. Maybe all I need is guidance and conversation to get back on track. I do not want my blog to become this dull, trite thing. Give me a hand, maybe? I don’t know, you probably have better things to do with your time.
Kolkata, India. The place where I was born and brought up. The land of illish maach, roshogollas and Rabindranath Tagore. A world away from another. This city is versatility in its most dignified outfit. A foodie’s paradise. Forget the eclairs and pastries, let me open your eyes to Kalakand, Gurer Jalbhora and Mishti Doi.
We, Bengali people, absolutely adore food. Be it tandoori chicken, Kung Pao chicken or Coq au Vin, Kolkata has every cuisine known to man. Apart from the scrumptious delicacies, we have music. Sitar, harmonium and tabla: creating the most amazing sounds, almost as good as a Violin Concerto, if not better. Gritty yet so charismatic, she’s beguiling, my city.
Forget Uber and taxi cabs. The city boasts of trams, metros and rickshaws. Sitting on a Phaeton while you traverse the grounds of The Victoria Memorial, a spectacular scene of greenery all around. Cricket matches at the Eden Gardens, boating below the Howrah Bridge. Puja shopping at New Market and Goriahaat, when Kolkata is dressed in Autumn. The ambiance of South Calcutta, the liveliness and the heritage of the North. Pandal hopping and street food, dancing to the beats of a drum before the Idol of Durga Ma and her children. Christmas in Park Street, New Year’s eve in Peter Cat. Oh, Kolkata is wonderful!
A city enriched with culture, a city called home to three Nobel Laureates. The old world charm of Dalhousie, the murals of Sealdah. The ghats of River Ganges…all illuminating this place with such brilliance.
A city so homely. Trust me when I say you’ll never feel left out here. A city full of festivals and friendly people. She’s someone who will entice you when you least expect it. She’s traditional but she’s modern. She’s beautifully bejeweled with astonishing architecture. Loves literature and films. She is a bit of a hipster, but a very nice one. She’s the ultimate friend.
No, not everything about this place is bright and shiny. Actually far from it, every silver lining has a cloud. She maybe the perfect background setting for your stories but her own tale is a bad one. There was a time when she was the belle of the ball, flourishing and thriving. Intellectualism and modernity began with her. But that didn’t last, though she tries to stay happy…she is broken. Broken with how she seems like a dead end to the youth, unhappy with the fact that her career is rollercoaster that only goes down. Her beauty tainted by politics and crime. She secretly fears that someday she’ll become obsolete and no one will remember her.
But she still hopes, hopes for a better future. A future where she’s been restored her old glory. Nevertheless Kolkata still loves you , and you can’t help but love her back.
So visit sometime. I promise you’ll like her.
My mother and I fought yesterday. Two good things came out of it. First, I got inspiration for a new post and second, I blackmailed my mother into buying me pizza. Fighting, then writing and reading blog posts made me hungry and tired. Pizza, yummy…isn’t it?
A cheesy pizza, covered with chicken, olives and capsicum. A parmesan and mascarpone clad, divine piece of heaven. Imagine the spiciness, the sourness from the olive and the pickles. The deliciously cooked pieces of sausage. Caramelized onion on that soft, fluffy bread. Imagine taking a bite into it, sipping a bit of that fizzy drink from the glass of Pepsi next to you. The perfect texture of magic dancing on your palette. The taste of love inside your mouth. I’m salivating, you?
My mother suggested Indian Cuisine, she wanted to get Naan and Paneer butter masala, but my blood craved pizza. Pizza Hut had an offer going on about letting us have two medium pizzas at the cost of one. All my cards had lined up or so it seemed. I was too busy frowning and pouting to call Pizza Hut, she was going to have to do it. She called three pizza places, all PHD outlets. It seemed like they delivered everywhere except our locality. Fate seemed hell bent on slimming me down. We asked the phone guy to tell us the outlet that would deliver for us. You won’t believe what he said! He said no!
He totally deserved the scolding he got from my mom. When all hope seemed lost, my mother remembered the place that would deliver pizza to our block. Hallelujah! I broke out into song and dance. Did a bit of gangnam style, whipped and nae-nae’ed. It was hilarious.
With baited breath, I waited for the pizza delivery guy. Stood on the balcony wondering: Pizza guy, where art thou? Then after forty-five minutes which seemed like an eternity, the pizza arrived.
And I feasted on them. Following which I had extremely sound sleep, quite unusual for me. A great night indeed.
To anyone who is reading,
This is a warning from us. We know who you are, the question is…do you know us. We are everywhere around you, but you don’t see us. We are the Dust. The Dust particles as articulate as any human, nevertheless we choose to keep our mouths shut. But enough is enough, no more of human torture. It’s time for us to speak out and fight back.
Why do you want to get rid of us? We may not have a heart beat but we still have feelings. How would you feel if you had to watch your family be thrown out of your home. Why can’t your species co-exist with us? You lot think you own everything, but let us break it to you…we are here to stay. Dinosaurs, mammoths, neanderthals all left but we have been the only constant to our Mother. You mortals will perish when you reach your expiry date, but we will never die.
Do you know what we do to people who try to get rid of us? We make examples of them. Like the author of this blog, who lies helpless in our captivity. She tried to uproot us from her home into the dark recesses of the dustbin. But we’re not cockroaches, we don’t belong there. So to teach her a lesson, we infiltrated her immune system, covered her skin and hair follicles. Danced on her cornea and drove her crazy with itchiness.
Soon her hair will start falling at a greater rate, her skin will be blotchy with marks. Rashes to ashes, Dust to Dust. We win, you lose. It’s time you humans learnt the actual chain of order. We are your overlords, bow down. Kneel before your masters!
Unlike you, we strive for peace and quiet. We know how to share, so unless you cooperate and drop your brooms, fire your cleaning ladies…we won’t stop. This our last injunction, the next time it won’t be a pretty sight for your lungs.
The Dust Chronicles