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Alive

One day while smoking cigarettes by the bedside window overlooking some high rise buildings,

you noticed a few words etched on the wall by me .

It was made with the soot from a burnt matchstick -

One of the many that you lit your umpteenth cigarette with.

It was around midday ,

and the following day was the festival of lights , Diwali.

My disappointment upon not getting any fire crackers for Kali Puja was quite evident from the childish handwriting accompanied by a sad emoticon.

As soon as you noticed it , you took me with you to the market and bought me crackers,

even though the money in your purse was scarce .

Years passed after that incident .

I don't remember dates , neither do I remember which grade I was in at that time.

But after you left us ,

memories of moments are what's left of you .

Neither your photographs ,

clothes , books

Nor the faded red ashtray reminds me of you.

The reason I never cried while you lay cold and lifeless ,

the reason my hands didn't waver even an inch while setting fire to that familiar visage ,

the reason why I cringed at the sight of people crying –

Was because I didn't see someone I knew in that lifeless numbered body waiting in queue to be reduced to ashes.

You know I never cry for strangers.

You are not the one whose ashes I let the mighty Ganges engulf,

but you are the one who smiled at my silliest jokes,

you are the one who encouraged the best in me even in the worst situation ,

you are the one to whom I complained about Ma without a second thought,

the one who completed most of my school projects at the eleventh hour ,

and however absurd it might seem to the world ,

I didn't see you even in the body that lay in the hospital , covered in tubes and surrounded by beeping machines,

but now every morning when I wake up and look at myself in the mirror ,

the reflection I see,

looks a lot like you.

By-

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