Sales pitch

He came back to his fast-paced consulting job after a costly trip to the Bahamas with his wife and two kids. He flew in the night before, and the next morning he stood in front of his new clients. They attentively looked at him while he tried to sell an ambiguous product. With much practice and experience, he had several tag lines all lined up to generate the hype. Using honesty as a tactic, he told his customers that he was strictly fueling on an energy drink since he had just returned from vacation the night before and hadn’t gotten enough sleep. He also let them know that he was only there physically, and was somewhere else mentally. Several members of the audience stared at him like pit bulls and were ready to interrogate him on the meaningless product that he was going to get them to buy. He clapped his hands and said, “Ok! Let’s begin.” He then said, “But first, can you please push the play button?” He lowered his head in front of a female client. She thought for a second, then pressed on the middle of his forehead. They shared a laugh, and he began talking.
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Entering a flower

A smiling woman wearing a magenta dress-suit, which resembles that of an air-hostess, stands next to a big rose and repeats an announcement. She informs the public that tickets are going on sale for a rose tour. People form a long line and stick their heads out to take a peak at the massive rose before them. They stand on the outward rose petal after they’ve climbed through a treacherous thorny stem. The closer their line gets to the rose entrance, the more refreshing, cool, moist, and fragrant the air gets. A skinny guy is up next to get a piece of ticket for the tour. He gets it, then follows the person before him. He glances around at the maroon and succulent grandeur as he walks in. Trickles of dew drip on him one at a time. His shirt is moist from rose water and fragrance. The more he gets inside, the more the folds of the rose get tighter and thicker. He begins to crawl on all fours and then eventually on his stomach. With each drag inwards, he is surrounded by soft, tight, cushion of lush. His fingernails scratch a bit of delicate rose skin while he pushes himself in as much as he can. He gnaws a bit of it with his teeth too, and it tastes subtly sweet and rosy. Eventually, he pops into the airy center of the rose bud and catches up with the rest who were before him. From the center onward, they slip and slide one at a time into a swirly downward slippery slope. At the end of the slide, they softly land one at a time into a large green leaf. They slowly slide off the silky curved leaf and gently fall into a soft puffy nutrient rich black soil that smells of earth and fresh rain. The man gets covered with the easy fragile clumps of soft soil. He climbs up a tad bit and shakes it off effortlessly. He lies on his back atop the mound and looks up at the massive rose against the sunny blue sky, and smiles dumbfoundedly.

2002_SDrose

Prostitute

He saw her standing around in the middle of the road. She seemed disconnected and out of place. She hair was dirty, matted, and unkempt. She had scars over her dark skin. Her fabric of clothing, a saree, was dirty and had holes in it. She was really no different from any other young beggars out there on the streets. Her skin was plump; although she was diminutive in size and quite thin from malnutrition. It’s not like he had a lot to eat too. He wore his basic white shirt that was too big for him, and walked down that familiar road he usually walked with his hands in his pockets. Yeah, he was going “home” from his so called “job,” but he scrambled to make ends meet. His job, where he tutored a couple of bratty kids from an affluent family, was temporary and he knew it. Temporary jobs were a common phenomenon in his life, and it was a constant struggle for him to make ends meet. In the middle of the polluted city, he lived in a small dark room where he cooked, ate, and slept. The hip folks would probably call it a “studio,” but in reality, it was just a rat hole. It was a far cry from living amid clean water and open fresh air of his former little village.

He zoomed past her and avoided assessing any further. Just a street beggar of some formerly exploited indigenous tribe he thought. He replaced his thought by imagining a humble fair skinned wife he would be arranged to marry from an adjacent village that would be of his own high caste. He reminded himself that he came to the city to make money and was far superior relative to these slum dwellers. He moved his long skinny legs hastily up the hilly road as if to run away, and disappeared into the crowd.

A few days later, he saw her again during his walk home from the tutoring gig. This time, she appeared to be doing a little better. She stood on the side of the road with a couple of dull balloons for sale. A few kids turned to look, but none of their guardians stopped to buy. Even the beggars are becoming entrepreneurs, he thought with slight disdain while feeling helpless about his own pathetic situation. He heard her repeat the price of the balloon again and again. Twenty rupees? He thought. He could buy some basic biscuits with that. He took one last look at her distant frozen eyes, while her mouth moved in repetition on the price of the balloon, before he disappeared into the crowd once more.

A few days later, he didn’t see her at her regular spot. However, in the next few days after that, he saw her lying on the side of a nearby road. Swarms of people walked past her on the busy streets. He stopped in his tracks, and peered from far away. She wasn’t moving, and she had no balloons to sell. Her face rested on the tarnished road, and the fabric of her clothing waved with the movement of people’s legs walking around her. He rubbed his chin; which was something he did in moments of internal conflict, and moved his leg forward to walk away. He did walk, but it was slower than usual. He turned around and saw that she was still lying on the ground.

He headed towards her and figured he would donate five rupees. He told her to take it, but there was no response. He looked around and hoped that no one saw him before he kneeled down and tapped her shoulder. He was uncomfortable at the thought of touching a dirty untouchable. She gave a slight whimper. He thought about what one would do in situations like these, and figured that she may be dehydrated. He went to a nearby stall shop on the side of the road and bought a bottle of water for twenty rupees. This would mean his dinner portion for the evening would be cut in half.

Disbelieving in himself that he was buying water for a beggar while putting himself at a disadvantage, he walked hurriedly towards her. He first sprinkled some water over her face, then he let her drink from the bottle as he held it near her mouth. She slowly drank the water, then coughed as she got up. He let go of the water bottle and told her to take it. He stood up, checked his white shirt that was a little too big for him, and dusted off his black pants before he left.

His tutoring gig eventually ended, and he no longer walked down that road again. It was months later when he happened to walk by that location that he saw her again. He stopped in his tracks and she came hurriedly towards him after spotting him. She looked a little more put together this time. Her clothing was not as raggedy, and her hair was combed back in a long braid. She was wearing a red lipstick that was a bit smeared, and there were beads of sweat drops on her upper lip. She had managed to put on a little black dot on her forehead. She stood quietly before him. He walked away and she followed him behind. He turned around and she stood there looking at him again. It slowly began to dawn on him that she must have turned into a prostitute. Feeling sick to his stomach, he gestured with his hand for her to go away and that he didn’t have any money, but it looked like that wasn’t her aim. She placed her hand on her stomach, indicating that she was hungry.

He had recently obtained a new job as a teacher in a local public school, so his income had become relatively more stable than before; although it hadn’t changed the fact that he could still only afford to live in a rat hole. He decided that he could skip out on dinner and lunch tomorrow and use that money to eat out today. He said, “Come on” to her in a mutually understandable national language that they both could understand, and took her out to lunch.

He took her to a common restaurant that specialized in dumplings for the locals. They walked into the cool room away from the humidity outside. She looked around with big eyes. They sat down across from each other at a table, and he looked at the menu and pretended like he knew what he was doing. For a split second, he felt like a city folk. When the waiter came to their table, he ordered cabbage dumplings; which were a cheaper alternative to the chicken or the goat.

He couldn’t budget to order anything for himself, so he ordered only for her. He sat quietly with his arms folded and watched her eat. She didn’t know how to use the fork, so she picked up the dumpling with her fingers. She dipped it into the tangy sauce and then engulfed it wholly. There were twelve pieces that came in a plate, and they were gone in an instant. She then chugged her glass full of water while it dripped out of her mouth. The busy waiter rushed back and asked if they wanted anything more. He asked her, and she nodded her head. He ordered her another plate full of cabbage dumplings. After it arrived, she dipped it into the sauce and then savored it a little bit more in her mouth. She licked her lips and then went for the next dumpling before she finished them all. When he asked her if she was done this time, she nodded her head. She finished her second glass of water, and they scooted out of their seats.

He walked with her silently towards her road, and then left her there. He continued walking towards his own home. He unlocked the door to his rat hole and stepped into the dusty, cold, dark chamber. He took off his white shirt and laid down on his bed in his undershirt. He put his hands behind his head and looked up at the ceiling. With his stomach growling, he peaked out the small window that was high up on the wall where light shined through a dirty rag of fabric. The fabric tethered in the wind, and he could hear the sounds of street kids playing once in a while. He wondered if he looked like a beggar himself from this angle. He was tired, and the room was cool. Tomorrow was another day, another bread to win. He felt heavy, and slowly drifted to sleep.

prostitute

You look real good sister

A young woman was walking in the city during her work lunch break. She was well-dressed and had high heels on. Her long hair gently flowed with her, yet she was busy in thought. A man was calmly walking down the street with his hands in his pockets. They crossed paths and he said, “You look good sister, you look realll good.”
She responded, “Yeah, but I got a shitty personality though.”

City

The precise problem

She went down to the kitchen in the morning and chugged a bottle of alcohol from the fridge. Her husband acknowledged her with a glance and stirred his mug of coffee as he watched her walk back upstairs.

A few days later they were at the shrink’s office.
“So what you’re telling me, ma’am, is that there’s a problem in this marriage” said the shrink. The office was sort of dark but there was a bright lamp and some light coming through the windows.

She leaned back into her chair and crossed her leg widely.
“Sort of” she said as she paused. She shifted her legs back down and put her arms over her knees as she clasped her hands together below her chin.
“The problem” she said, “Is that there is no problem.”
The shrink wrote that down. He shifted his dark rimmed glasses and looked up. Then looking back down at his writing he said, “So what you’re telling me, ma’am, is that the problem is that there is no problem.” He looked at her and said, “So there is no problem.”
She rubbed her temples with her fingers as she closed her eyes. She looked back at him, “But that is the problem.”
“No problem is a problem?”
“The problem is no problem.”
The shrink scribbled something on his notepad. He shifted his legs. He opened his mouth to say something, then closed it again.
“Ma’am you’re telling me, that because there is no problem, you have a problem with not having a problem, and that is your problem?”
The woman tried to calm her nerves and took a deep breath.
“Yes, that is a problem, I have a problem with not having a problem.”
The shrink slammed his pen into the desk.
“And how is having no problem a problem?!” He shouted.
“How could not having a problem not be a problem?!” She shouted back.
“Ma’am, I wouldn’t have a problem not having a problem” he tried to convince her.
“Sir, that is a major, fucking, problem” she told him.
The shrink smoothed his mustache. He looked at the husband and the wife, then he looked at the husband.
“Did you know of the problem?” He asked him.
The husband shrugged, “I wasn’t aware of the problem” he said.

The shrink took some time, wrote something on his notepad, then debriefed. He looked at the husband and said, “Because there is none.” He then looked at his notepad and said, “And that, is the problem” he concluded and underlined.
“Precisely!” The wife sighed with relief. After getting up, she turned to the side and hugged her husband as if something was accomplished. At the end of the day, the shrink made a lot of money. He also reached into his drawer and took some medications as they left.

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Stuck with a fly

She sat bored, disgusted, and as distant as she could be away from him in the little closed space that they shared together. She tried to ignore him, but he made squeamish noises that constantly reminded her of him being right there next to her. She closed her eyes and placed her fingers over her ears. After what seemed like a long time, which might have only been minutes, she turned around and glared at him angrily. His filthy look made her nauseous. He tried to move the palps on the bottom of his face, as if he acknowledged her watching him. He stared off ahead with his massive black and netted bug eyes. He was a fly, sort of. His head was that of a fly, but the rest of his body was that of a man. It repulsed her. She was stuck with him inside a clear glass jar. When she looked outside from the glass jar, she saw flasks emitting gasses and other types of colorful experiments occurring. The jar in which they were in rested atop a lab bench. She squinted her eyes and searched as far as she could and found two other human couples, a male and a female, inside a similar jar far away from them. She envied the woman because she was stuck with a real man. Of all the guys she could have been stuck with, she was stuck with a disgusting half a fly. He sputtered something and buzzed, flapping fibers on the sides of his face. She huddled herself into a ball and cringed. She closed her eyes and wished it was a bad dream. Soon enough, her heart began to beat slower and she felt the oxygen levels slowly change inside the jar.

She woke up and she was thoughtless. She looked outside of the glass jar and saw multiple kaleidoscopic-like images. She turned to face the fly and saw his image in multiples as well. He sputtered something and buzzed, and she sputtered something and buzzed back.

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Real versus unreal

“Did you write this?” She asked him directly. In a surge of embarrassment, he walked away with a flushed face. She picked up her pace to match his quick steps. She touched his shoulder from behind and he shivered as he stopped. He placed his palms over his eyes. He wanted to disappear from the face of the earth.
“Why don’t you admit it?” She walked in front of him and drew his hands away. She looked at him. He looked at the ground.
“I’m sorry” he mumbled through clenched jaw. His breath left a trail of fog in the cold weather. His cheekbones were pink and his dark hair had subtle brown highlights that stood out against the snow filled background.
In a burst of anger she threw the secret love letter that she had found, at his face. He had written it for her, but had never intended for her to find out. He grimaced with pain inside as it brushed against his skin.
“Why didn’t you utter a word? Why were you so reserved all this time? Why did you pretend that you never cared?”
He was silent.
“Why don’t you look me in the eye? Why do you leave when I walk in? Why did you ignore me for so long? How could you deny that I had wanted you too? You’ve ruined my life!”
“I didn’t mean to” he said, “I didn’t want to hurt you. I never wanted you to find out, I didn’t want my feelings for you to ever end.”
“I don’t understand! Why couldn’t we be together? Why couldn’t we have gotten to know each other better? Lived happily ever after? You see, everything’s messed up now. I can never wake up and face the day without sensing that something is missing. I can never not think… about this, about you, about what you did! I’m forever trapped” she continued, “Because now it’s too late. I’m obligated to the future. I’m bound by societal rules and plans that have been made for me. I’m fixed into settling down and having a family with someone else” she placed her hands over her face and cried, “I can never be happy.”
He tried to touch her hand but she brushed it away. “Because of you!” she said through her teeth and with teary eyes, “Why didn’t you tell me all this when you could have? Three years of acquaintance and not a single word of truth from you! Why didn’t you tell me all this before I found someone else? It’s too late now. I could have been with you. My life’s an empty, meaningless, waste of time.”
“You’ll move on… eventually” he said.
“I’ll never move on. I’ll always be in love with you and never be able to be with you. I hate you because of that. It’s all your doing. You’ve played a game with my heart.”
“I promise you, that I didn’t mean to…”
“You’re admitting that it’s a game?”
“I suppose l…” he could barely say the word, “I suppose love is a game.”
“Then it isn’t true, is it? It’s not real, it’s just make-believe, like a game!”
“Can’t a game be for real? I engaged in it with all my heart, and I almost died because of it.”
“You can’t expect a game to last forever.”
“What meaning does forever carry?”
“What meaning does a moment carry?”
“Sometimes, it carries great depth.”
“Can’t a forever bond have depth too?”
“Then it wouldn’t have the length.”
“But momentary encounters are so sporadic, temporary, and heartbreaking. You’re left with shattered, empty, non-existent memories.”
“Are memories non-existent? Were all those feelings that once made your heart swoon, unreal? Are encounters make-believe? If so, is depth unreal?”
“Yes. The only thing that’s real is a forever and ongoing bond through time.”
“I wish that for you. I want you to feel, taste, and live in what’s real.”
“But I’m not happy in reality.”
“Then you’ll have to deal with heart-breaking encounters” he said as he kissed her. Soft snowflakes fell over them in their silent surrounding. They embraced for however long, before reality drifted them apart.

RealUnreal