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Friday, January 9, 2009

Story: Poor Thing by Alam



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Story: Poor Thing by Alam

Name: Alam Shah
Pen name: Alam
Title of Story: Poor Thing
Genre: General
Summary: Journey, contemplation, poetry, etc.



It was the year 2015, the month of August. I don’t think the need to specify a date and on exactly what day this occurred would matter. By this, I am referring to the way I feel because I endure these feelings quite often. I was headed home that evening; my objective was to head home in the fastest, most convenient way. All that was on my mind was weariness and a longing for leisurely activity.

What came to mind was a wide, clean cozy bed that came with a set of warm pillows awaiting my body weight. Just the thought of it brought out a sense of pleasure in my mind followed by desire. This was the perfect time to snap back to reality I uttered in my thoughts. I disliked fantasizing about something that isn’t within my grasp. When the mind thinks about something nice, it starts to keep on thinking about it and soon enough the heart follows suits and you have this strong desire building up in you. Day after day the demand to make them realize strengthens and suddenly upon realizing that you were asking for too much and that you’re not able to possess that something the heart immediately starts to sink and in process starts to eat you up.

Coming back to reality, I thought of my hardened mattress and the unshapely pillows that were in my possession. This time it wasn’t comfort that I felt but a sense of familiarity and longing-ness. It serves its purpose that much I can vouch for, if you’re not too picky that is. But I am going to get rid of them anyway due to their unruliness from failing to live up to my expectations of providing constant comfort and also due to its old age and unattractiveness. Yes, I can be cold-blooded like that.

I was currently standing in the subway waiting for the train to arrive, the one I’ve been commuting on almost everyday for the past 5 years, twice a day. I stood there alone with the familiar faces that await the train with me everyday. We all had something in common though; neither of us were interested in wanting to intermingle or to develop a friendship. I was an unhappy individual, so it would only be fair to assume the rest of the people who follows my work pattern and my routine should feel the exact same.

“At least you have a job”, “Hey, it pays man, so quit whining and man up!”, “There are certain things that a man has to do whether he likes it or not, men were destined for such things”. These are some of the things my friends say with good intentions of course and probably to prevent me from going on dreading on the subject. I am a slave for money, a materialist. But then again, who isn’t? I would say that I have not enough wisdom in me to brave myself to not be dependant on it as an excuse. But yes, just as you’re thinking, it is a subjective matter.

The main factor that keeps me going is the ones I see everyday. The homeless people sitting, practically living in the subway. I think to myself that I cannot compare to them.

Dissimilar from what I am, I don’t see their need to impress anyone with good clothing, good manners, and a good job or even about the slightest inclination on what others might think of them. Its either the thought of surviving overwhelms and conquers all the other feelings or they’ve reached a level so low that they do not anymore care about what or how others look at them.

Of course what I am saying is nonsensical; these people are far away from home without any inkling near them. Living in a complete foreign place without having to feel shame and without anyone knowing their past… I am certain if they were to meet their parents, relatives or friends their human side will come out, starting by a feeling of queasiness and then the face starts to redden, almost instantaneously their pride begins to hurt and their thoughts showered by ill and troubled ones, flashbacks and things of the past comes in play and finally leaves them with a feeling of a long discomfort, of regret and disgrace.

Train stations were everywhere these days, as trains were most widely and commonly used. A few busy ones like the one I am standing in are opened 24 hours a day. The people of today have adopted the train system as their main means of transportation.

It wasn’t a surprise or a bad thing for people not to own a car too. Moreover people who owned a car were considered just for show, inefficient and impractical.

Though, we all knew that the issue of oil shortage would one day be significant and end up in producing lesser and lesser till it doesn’t anymore. Anyways, before that could even take place, a group of alliance went out of their heads and bombarded the many oil plantations in existence. It was very intricately planned. they targeted the ones that were the biggest producers and the most important ones.

It was a chaotic moment. The oil sites were so deeply and badly damaged. After a few weeks they announced that the oil sources were completely wiped out. We completely ran out of oil, we have no more oil.

When it was first announced people began to panic, it felt as if it was the end of the world. The economy plummeted to the lowest, everywhere. People started acting crazy, suicidal cases were common everywhere, governments were overthrown, poverty became a wide disaster and as predicted, Wars erupted but they didn’t last long because war needed fuel, oil or gas whatever you want to call it.

Thankfully enough, it only lasted a couple of years. Particularly, in times of desperation and in need people do their best to change their fate. More importantly they show their human side and work together with each other. People managed to come up with a dozen other technologies that didn’t require oil.

And the oil people managed to dig out oil from the damaged ones.. they eventually managed to find new oil pones Just enough to go by with the production but it was never the same.

Jumping back to the present, I think to myself that when my train comes, I’ll take a smaller train that will drop me right in front of the place I was living in. however, this too was just a dream. In reality I still had to walk close to a kilometer to reach home. I see it as dreadful exercising.

Amidst the crowd I found an empty seat. There was a huge fan pointed towards my direction. I felt relaxed and just when I started enjoying and starting to feel comfy, the train arrived. I am now standing with a few hundred more people who are probably on their way home. Most of them are familiar faces and was at their familiar places. There was this cute girl that I used to see everyday, now I see her everyday with her partner. I stopped seeing her.

Since cars were no longer the best way for traveling, and there were no real means to separate and differentiate each other financially and in society, hence they created a way where one would be able to do so and at the same time make more money out of it. They came up with different compartments, one for the rich and the upper middle class, one for the middle class and another for the lower class. And for the really wealthy, they had their own trains and their own tracks to move on.

The journey took exactly 25 minutes, right on time I said to myself, oblivious to the time. This particular stop was a busy one, it was an attraction to street performers, and homeless people but no longer snatch thieves. Ever since the new law of cutting the thieves finger every time they get caught was authorized, snatch thieves had to find a different way to satisfy their needs…………………

I got down, together with the masses. I looked at my watch and it was still earlier than usual. I walked slowly passing one performer after another.

The bright neon lights made me feel safe and reassured. Which brings me to thinking about something that bothered me for quite some time, Imagine a place where you’re so used to and feel comfortable being in and suddenly the lights go off and the comfort and the security turns into fear and obscurity. Why when the place is the same but without the presence of light is able to manipulate peoples feeling towards that place? Not being able to see and to familiarize one self with their surroundings creates uneasiness and insecurity. This makes me come to the conclusion that one who can’t see is in darkness, one who is in darkness

As I walked out the station, the sky was already dark, the wind was cold and the air was a mixture of smells. I could see the huge sky scrapers ahead of me. It was a painful sight, sore to my eyes, I am and will always be a nature person but ironically I prefer and rather live in cities. Only thing is, I despise the rapid growth of buildings whose land was once filled with trees and of course the pollution that ruins the smell in the air.

I walked on looking at the performers doing their thing. Some singing and playing the guitar, some with different instruments like the drums, flute and even the didgeridoo. I waved at some of the performers busy with their performances; the ones that noticed either nodded their heads or waved back in acknowledgement.

Knowing what I wanted, I went directly to my favorite performer. A middle aged guy, with shoulder length hair, loose clothes and pleasant when he smiled, He was sitting down on the pavement with a cloth of sort as his cover as he sat there writing something. I stood right in front of him and he looked up at me and with a jolt of recognition, he said, “hey! You came at the right time! I was just done with my new poem.” He said smiling. His voice was deep and it felt as if his cheerfulness didn’t go ‘hand in hand’ with his groggy voice. This man was a poet, most of the time I didn’t understand what he was trying to convey. But at other times, it was simple and easy to comprehend.

Together with me was another guy. He was dressed the same as me, working attire. Only thing is his clothes appeared more neat and exclusive. His hair was the same length as mine but somewhat slicker, his skin color fairer and his feature better and sharper. He was also slightly taller. I was slightly taken a back and caught myself staring at him, he noticed me, smiled and said, “hello” I greeted him back and quickly turned my attention to the poet. He was standing, with his sketch book in his left hand. He started:

“Our true birthplace is when we first lay an intelligent gaze on ourselves.”

He looked at me nodded as if asking whether I understood. I nodded back as if answering to his question. Upon looking at that he continued,

“White, blue, gray and black,
Thus the alteration from young to old,”

He then looked at us and said, “Okay?” Amused, we replied back, “okay”

“I shall start my poem now he said in a deeper tone” I assumed he was getting serious. He started with his hands in the air and he moved it as he spoke…

“Why give us existence,
When there’s no significance,
Why give us logic,
When life itself is illogical
Why put evil in us,
And expect something pure from it,
Why give us needs,
When you don’t give us the ability to procure it,
Why instill desire in us,
When desires are destroyers,
Why give us power and then corrupt us,
And expect us to be humble and incorruptible,
Why give us mind to think,
When the answer is faith,
Why give us choices,
When you don’t expect us to make them
Why give us fantasy,
When what is reality
Why create knowledge,
When knowledge can misguide
Why create humans,
When they turn out an atheist, agnostic and a deist
Why give us intelligence,
When stupidity can always reign
Why let me wonder, think and ponder,
When there is no answer
What are these if not a test?
Why if not to show the difference between the seeing and the blind
Why if not this life is a prison for the believer.
What if this life does not belong to us?
What if, there is no ‘I’ as one but ‘us’ as one?”

He looked exhausted; obviously it was tiring for him. There were only two of us, but he recited as if there were hundreds before him. His wild hand movements although captivating and strengthen and weighed emotions to his performances had to be tiring. He sat down on the piece of cloth.

I wanted to ask him a few questions but I found myself hesitating as usual. However to my annoyance, the guy beside me beat me to it before I could, “So basically you’re saying that we shouldn’t live our lives not for ourselves but for others?” I corrected him, “no, not for others, but for the creator.” The other guy looked at me as I shifted my gaze and spoke again, “Right?” looking at the poet, seeking confirmation.

The poet looked at us nodded at me but said, “It was just a poem, and it’s up to you how you perceive it as long as it affects you positively.” He smiled a little.

“True.” the other guy said sarcastically, he then added, “a homeless, who sells his own poems and quotes to make his living giving advices on life heh” he said grinning widely. “See you guys later” he said cynically and walked away.

I didn’t have the energy to get worked up over what he said. The poet was looking at me now. I started to feel uneasy, I quickly said, “So how do one become selfless and you know…meek?” He said with his deep voice, “since you asked, dare you cut your ties with the world, Give away everything that you possess and only have with you your essential necessities?” he stopped talking. I looked scared and uncertain. I think, judging from my reaction. He added, “Unless you’re able to have no sense of inclination on your material wealth, you’re allowed to own them.”

“Oh, that’s quite heavy isn’t it?” I said jokingly. But I didn’t hear any laughter, the poet just kept on staring at me. This time I quickly looked at my watch and almost mumbled. “I am going to be late, I have to go now.” I bought a sticker of a quotation and one of poetic books from him, and bid my farewell.

My thoughts were now back on a clean cozy bed that came with a set of warm pillows awaiting my body weight. Just the thought of it brought out a sense of pleasure in my mind followed by desire.

©Alam2008

1 comment:

  1. The poem is good except I can't understand this:

    "When what is reality"

    The storyline is not too bad although I find it rather bland. No offense.

    ReplyDelete