top of page

From The Afterglow

Verses, Tales, and Thoughts: A Literary Odyssey

By Varsha Panikar

I fell out of reality and into my dream only to wake up under a kaleidoscopic glass ceiling that somehow reminded me of your eyes, and the uneasiness slowly started to creep in. The scene immediately changed. It was as if I was in control. I found myself swimming in the air through a forest. A dazzling world where the ravens and crows strode beside me through the ocean and the whales flew within the un-trespassed rainbow-tinted sky. I was soaring backwards on silver-tipped wings made of supple, snow coloured clouds which opened up like a silk stream and let in a myriad of colours which blinded me. So I turned the other way. There was a parade of neon cloaked figures marching on buildings flowing sideways. A psychedelic scene! Reality seemed flimsy, expanding and contracting at random. Butterflies with stunning poly-chromatic wings were drinking from the beautiful blue petals of serene morning glories enveloping the glass building. A bunch of cats were singing karaoke to the melody of galloping sea horses, the lyrics papered against the sky.

I was swimming along with trees flowing through the forest; regaling in the tales of the lustrous paintings hanging between the branches, like the clothesline in my Mum’s backyard. I was dancing with Kaali, adorned in liquid crystal armour, to the bustling beat of her Tiger’s trumpet. That’s when it hit me. A succulent aroma, the kinds that can whisk you away. It mysteriously flowed in, unsuspected, and enticed me, but before I could react, I was being caressed by the vines of magenta flowers twirling and spreading their petals all over me. The petals appeared to be changing colours in the warm, whistling wind, as I unraveled myself off it and swiftly mounted upon an enormous and magnificent elephant with exquisite legs, brazenly defying gravity, flying through the air. Together we advanced to what looked like a giant beating heart, a human heart. My heart started beating faster as we moved forward, the parade stomping alongside. As I got closer, I jumped off and ran up the foothills of the heart, faster than sound. It felt as though I had left my body behind, for it was too slow. Therefore, what can only be described as my soul, sped towards that essence. Wind howling behind me, I arrived.

It might have been the center because as soon as I got there, time slowed and my existence felt like it was being sucked into the black hole where you should have been. Instead, there was a disco ball, also swirling into the hole beside me. Then there were the people from the parade, the butterflies, the ravens and the crows, the sea-horses. It looked like a tornado of pulsating colours. I caught the twisted smile of one of the cats grappling with Kaali and her tiger, melting into each other, like metamorphosing. Everything was crumbling in space as time itself erratically fluctuated. It looked devastatingly glorious! Everything was piecing into singularity and Bang!

That’s when I heard it. In-spite of the deafening ringing of the bang, I heard your name. The power with which it still makes me shudder, it has yet to relinquish. Your name, like a storm, murmured to my soul like thunder echoing on a rainy night. It struck me like lightning and traveled through my body like a wave of torment. “Replace it! Replace the scene!” But the pain was too immense and I could feel myself losing control. I couldn’t muster the strength to change the scene so I did the next best thing. I forced myself out of the dream and once again, fell back into reality.

The scene in my room is like a weird dream, and this reality is hurting my mind. I am standing and staring at my life in confusion. I guess it is like staring out of an open window. You know that the sky is meant to be blue and the clouds are meant to be white, but nothing is as it should be. This sky is an array of confusing colours, and the clouds do not look like clouds at all. I close and open my eyes again hoping, to see a semblance of reality, hoping it is all a dream, but no, the twisted morbid sky stays. I wish I could escape the vision in front of my eyes, but the sky will not listen.

Traumas are the same. Outside events impact your mind and the way you see the world. You revert back behind the window - scared, anxious, confused, weary and terrified. The world seems weird. You do not feel as confident enough as you’d like to be, to live it. Scared, because terror and fear have happened to you. Mind and world just spin all out of control.

The land I live on is not how it should be. The image beyond my window is what I do not understand or wish to see. White like these traumas that are behind me but still somehow linger within me. It still hurts to look at the world, my life, my past because all I see is a muddled sky with confusing colours, breaking my mind, trapping me, even after all this while.

How do you escape feeling this way? And do you blame yourself once again? I could blame myself or the world, either way, it hurts too much. Sometimes it feels like it all happened to someone else, like a weird distant dream. Maybe, it is just reality confusing me, or it is just a dream.

“Maybe I am just another run of the mill sad indie girl”, she paused.

Everything was a blur of motion and sound. I kept my smile and the laugh I wanted to let out to myself. It was funny, but not the kind you should laugh at. It was that bleeding wound kind of humour that you laughed at out of embarrassment or to relieve tension. I was waiting for the sorrow. This was just a test. I would not waiver. I would wait. I would listen.

She took the last two cigarettes from the pack and lit them for us. ‘The problem with everything is that…well, it’s everything. It’s life, it’s death, it’s joy, it’s sorrow. I went from inspiring a bunch of nobodies to pretty much controlling inspiration. From then on in, it was pretty much the standard crash and burn, too much, too soon scenario. But when it comes to muses there are no overdoes, or car crashes or murderous junkie boyfriend. There is just eternity and regret. No spectacular end for me”. She stubbed out the cigarette, half-smoked. She looked at the empty packet of cigarettes. “Tragedy. I became the muse of tragedy. That was my punishment. Every sad faced clown, every overblown ‘everyone dies in the end’ play, every awful pop song about heartbreak. I’m the one behind all of that junk. That’s the real sorrow. That’s me.” Her eyes were flat as a deconstructed cardboard box. She turned away from me. ‘I bet you wish you’d left after the sex, don’t you?’

“Why would you say that? I like being here… with you.” I placed my hand on her shoulder. She shook it away. I did not try a second time. I could have continued, but I had either made my point or said the same thing she’d heard a million times before from a century or two of lovers. Her shoulders moved slightly. I could not read that movement, so I waited. I waited for ten minutes. She turned to face me. There was no smile, I didn’t want or expect one. The muse of tragedy would never smile. It was her eyes that mattered. They were alive and fresh as newly turned earth.

And upon that moment, undetected; like a waft of flowers, unexpected; the softness of tranquility in that moment, unsuspected, she entered my soul, un-surrendered - to clothe my soul in peace - whilst the world slowly comes to an end.

From my series, Bodies Of Desire.

bottom of page