Creepy Log #2: The Face of Death

face-of-death

 

“You can see it, of course. Can’t you.”

 

“See what?”

 

“The anomaly with that photo.”

 

“The photo looks okay to me. Nothing out of the ordinary.”

 

“Look again. Look more closely.”

 

So I did. In the photo, there was a young man, probably early twenties, leaning on the ledge of a bridge, facing the camera. In the background, behind him, there was the outline of the distant horizon: mountainous, slightly bluish with distance. The sky depicted there was almost completely clear: only a few wisps of clouds were visible. The young man himself was wearing a checked shirt, and brown trousers.

 

And then I spotted the anomaly.

 

The young man’s face looked hazy. Out of focus. Which stood out, since everything else in the photo was in sharp focus. Right up to the buttons on his shirt. Even the knuckles of his right arm, resting against the top of the bridge’s ledge behind him, were all clearly defined. His left arm was in his trouser pocket.

 

“His face is out of focus.”

 

“Yes. Well, no. Technically, that’s the face of someone with less than two hours to live.”

 

Silence. I looked up from the photo, and stared at Rosemary. She didn’t seem to be joking. She shrugged slightly, and continued looking at me, across the table. So I sought more information.

 

“Huh?”

 

“That’s my kid brother. Less than two hours after I took that photo, he simply collapsed and died”.

 

“Whaaat?”

 

“After I took that photo, we continued on with our walk to the picnic site. There was no hurry. My brother looked jovial, as usual. We talked about all manner of things. I remember teasing him about his new girlfriend. He laughed, and teased me too, about you. But I noticed that every once in a while, an indescribable expression would flash across his face, before he transformed back to being jovial. This happened several times before we got to the picnic site.”

 

“Did you ask him about that expression?”

 

“I didn’t. Thought it was insignificant at that time. But a few meters to the actual site we were walking towards, he suddenly stopped on the path, looked at me in a strange way, and then his eyes rolled up, as he collapsed onto the ground. Dead.”

 

“That must have been terrifying.”

 

“I called my parents. They drove over, picked me up, together with my brother’s body, and we drove to the nearest hospital. Procedure was followed. Hospital. Post mortem. Mortuary. Funeral. Cause of death? Unknown. Only much later – weeks, actually – did I remember to develop the photographic film. And I discovered that hazy anomaly on his face.”

 

“What did your parents say about this photo?”

 

“Mom is… well, _spiritual_. More than dad, anyways. She told me that the face in that photo is invisible because my brother had already started to die, when I took the photo. That his soul had already left him.”

 

“Whoa.”

 

“Yeah. I don’t know what to think. But I also don’t have a better explanation.”

Mind Flow: Part 5: The Enchanted

mind-flow-9-the-enchanted

 

And unto your question of why I’m so enchanted by you, the following response suffices:

 

It’s the small things in life.

 

Such as standing out, in the night, and looking up at the sky, and seeing all those sparkling diamonds spread across the heavens. Each one of them is, in reality, just as big as our sun, but they look infinitely small from earth, due to their distance from us. And yet, from across trillions of miles, they deliver their pin-points of light to us, and twinkle and sparkle and paint tomes of poetry in the night. And if you listen carefully, you can hear them sing, over and over, about the beauty and majesty of the cosmos out there. And you can feel your own heart lift up, in unutterable joy and awe.

 

So it is between you and I. I look at your eyes, and see trillions of miles of history written between us. I see you through the distance of a trillion shared experiences, and a billion words spoken to each other. I remember a million laughs, a million hugs, and a million silences shared by a fireside. And I remember thousands of instances of missing you, even when you were there, right beside me. All these are tiny pinpoints of light, distributed all over my memories, and they twinkle and sparkle and light up all the isles of my history. And just like starlight, they too fill me with unutterable joy.

 

There are other times too, when it rains, especially after a long dry period. And I go to my window, and stand by it, and watch the hitherto dry ground gradually become wet. Billions of tiny drops of water falling from the skies, landing on the thirsty ground, and sinking in. Each drop catching a slice of sunshine, and splitting it into seven hues, even as the drop rushes towards the ground. And as the earth starts absorbing these guests from the skies, a sweet smell arises from the ground – the smell of freshly wet earth. Petrichor. It’s a scent hard to describe, but it is earthy, and highly enjoyable, and sometimes has notes of ozone within it.

 

And as I watch the rains transform the earth, my thoughts once again fasten upon you. And I remember how we transform each other, whenever we meet. I remember how my heart leaps in joy on sighting you. And I remember how your own face softens up and delivers the most heart-melting smile I’ve ever seen. And when we hug, I often feel your heart beating against mine, and a very unique scent rising up from your neck. An intoxicating scent – probably pheromones – that very quickly reduces me to a needy wreck. A wreck that just wants to keep holding you, forever. And you look up, into my eyes, and I can practically feel you touching my soul with your eyesight.

 

Some people have a label for all this. They call it love. They write poems about it. They compose songs about it. Me, I just walk out into the night, crane my head to the skies, and see all the poems and songs about us already written up there. And I wait for the rains, and let the wet earth blow the very scent of a million slices of you and I, right up my nostrils. It is intoxicating.

 

And it is all enchanting.

Creepy Log #1: The Strange Case of Ricky Muya

Ricky Muya

 

I suppose we should have suspected that something was amiss the moment he approached us. We had just booked our rooms at Naromoru River Lodge – our first stop-over in a long road trip from Nairobi to Marsabit. There were three of us, all taking a much needed break from the busy Nairobi life. The moment we started asking around for a photographer, he simply appeared, carrying his Nikon.

 

He introduced himself as Ricky Muya. Said that he would gladly offer us his services during our stay in that Lodge. He seemed solid and experienced, so we accepted his services.

 

Our stay in Naromoru River Lodge lasted three days, during which we explored the neighborhood, and even attempted hiking to the lowest camp on the Mt. Kenya trail. On the first day, Muya accompanied us everywhere, cheerfully snapping away. In the evening, at around six, we let him retire, and he promised to come back the following day with the processed photos. So we spent the rest of the evening and the night without him.

 

The following morning, at exactly eight, Muya came back, and handed us the bunch of photos from the previous day. He told us they were 80 photos in total. We offered to pay him right then, but he declined, saying that we would pay him the total amount at the end of the third day. So he accompanied us the whole of the second day, once again taking more photos. He seemed to be genuinely passionate about his craft, and would regularly suggest strategic places for us to pose for the photos. Eventually, evening came by, and once again, he promised to bring the processed photos of the day the following day.

 

On the third day, Muya never showed up. We waited for him up to 11 in the morning, before we started asking around about his whereabouts. The first person we approached was the hotel’s receptionist. And a most surreal conversation took place:

 

Us: “Say, do you know how we can locate a certain Ricky Muya? He is a photographer.”

 

Receptionist: “Are you relatives?”

 

Us: “No, we are his customers. He was supposed to accompany us today, but didn’t show up.”

 

Receptionist: “Oh. I’m sorry, but Mr. Muya passed away two weeks ago. We’ve been trying to locate his relatives for a while now. His body is still in the town mortuary.”

 

At this, we stood in stunned silence, looked at each other, and then walked out of the receptionist’s office. Certainly, the receptionist must have been mistaken. Or maybe there were two Ricky Muyas in the area. We dismissed the entire episode, and went about the day’s activities, hoping that our photographer would still show up.  But by the evening, he still hadn’t.

 

That last night in that Lodge, we decided to finally go through the photos that Muya had taken on the first day. They were all high quality photos: good lighting, perfect angles and timing. Muya hadn’t been kidding about his experience. Every single photo was professionally done. But as we went through the pile, three photos suddenly gave us deep chills.

 

The three photos were simply impossible.

 

And yet, they were right there, in front of our eyes.

 

In one photo, we were taking a drink in one of the lodge’s terraces, by a certain artificial river. We were sure that on that evening, we had been alone there. Muya had already retired for the night. And yet, that photo was taken from within three meters of us. And in another photo, we were walking on one of the footpaths towards the cottages. The photo had been taken from in front of us, at a distance of about five meters. Once again, the three of us could remember, very clearly, that no one had been in front of us that evening, on that footpath.

 

The last photo was the most chilling. It had apparently been taken from within our particular cottage, just before we went to bed. We were sitting around the round table in there, taking a last drink before going to sleep. And as we all could clearly remember, we had been completely alone that first night, and had locked the cottage’s door. And yet, from less than two meters away, apparently standing by the door, Muya had managed to take a photo of our smiling faces. At 10 in the night. When he had clearly retired at six in the evening.

 

That third night, none of us slept a wink. And the following morning, we all got all our stuff back into the car, and turned back towards Nairobi. The road trip couldn’t continue. Not with the one very open question hanging over all of us:

 

Who – or, more likely, what  – had accompanied us for two days, and taken all those photos of us?

Mind Flow: Part 4: The Muse

Mindflow 8 - The Muse

 

You once asked me: so where do the words come from? Where does the poetry come from?

 

And I, for the first time ever, actually sat down and thought about it. And the answer came to me, clear as daylight: the words and the prose and the poetry came from my interactions with you. For in you, I found my muse. In your presence, worlds unbound rushed towards me, rich in bounty. And I’d perceive them, and be caught up in endless awe, and I’d try to describe all this in mere letters and numbers.

 

There was a time when we hugged, you and I, and a chroma-flared vista opened up right in front of my eyes. And I saw infinity. I saw the various Aleph levels of infinity, complete in their colorful glory: terracotta, ochre, mauve, turquoise … all irradiant, all sparkling. I saw an infinity of possibilities – the breadth and stretch and vastness of ideas and visions, all weaving around each other, all waiting to be pulled into prose: to be written down, so that other mortals could also partake of them.

 

And there was a time I caught a whiff of your scent, and once again, an entire universe opened up for me. A universe of sounds: melodies written on alien starves… symphonies that tugged at my very soul strings. These were sounds so sweet, and so beautifully arranged, that the earworms they created in my head lasted days. And once again, ideas unbound in space or time flashed in front of my eyes. Some of which were of such an exotic nature that mere letters and words in any human language couldn’t capture their essence.

 

From all this, I realized that you truly were my muse. In every single sense of the word. A single handshake from you, and a thousand words would come tumbling through my mind. Words that demanded to be expressed in writing. A single hug from you, and hundreds of new ideas and visuals would fill my mind. Some I would write down, and others I would just lie back, and experience them in sheer awe.

 

So to the question of where the words and the prose and the poetry come from, I submit this: they come from some recess somewhere in the cosmos, and you, you are the conduit.

All I See is Code 4: I, Cyborg

Even more excerpts from Tessa Musings: All I see is code 4 - I, Cyborg

 

Technically, I’m a bionic: a literal chimera between a human and a machine. Over the years, I’ve come to integrate more and more artificial materials into my natural body. Metallic alloys, electronic chips, pacers, nano-servomotors, etc. I’m the very manifestation of the frontiers of biomechatronics, and as time goes, I’m becoming more machine than human.

 

There’s an RFID chip in the stretch of flesh between my left thumb and the forefinger. It authenticates me to my phone, to my safe, and to various other vaults placed strategically across the country. There’s a pellet-like chip implanted just behind my left ear, and it constantly releases a painkiller to my brain, and suppresses otherwise debilitating migraines. The rods and cones in my right retina are artificial, with enhanced ultra-violet rays receptivity in the cones, and infrared light receptivity in the rods. My night vision, hence, is better than that of owls and pumas, and my day vision gives me tolerance to ultra-bright light, such as arc-welding light. And there are approximately 2.7 grams of nanobots coursing through my blood: always measuring criticals, and graphing them on an app in my phone and computers.

 

I’m a transhumanist.

 

I believe that in due time, human knowledge will expand to the point where we will be capable of bio-engineering ourselves completely: right from the DNA configuration, to the skins we inhabit, and the bones that support our structures. We will even defeat aging, by replacing telomeres at the edges of the chromosomes with more durable, or more regenerative, materials. Certainly, with present advances in medicine and other fields such as nanotechnology and robotics, the first human who will hit 150 years of age is already alive. And in a few decades, lifespans of up to 200 years will become commonplace. The bicentennial man is almost here.

 

Essentially, the entire universe is just but a code, written billions of years ago, that continues evolving over time, trying to perfect itself, against a backdrop of an all-pervasive entropy. And the human form is no different. Modern medicine is perhaps two centuries old. But within that time, so much has been discovered, and invented, that hundreds of diseases that once portended major plagues have been wiped off the face of the planet. And now, in the early 21st Century, we are finally in the age of biomechatronics: the age of combining the human and the machine. Bones made from metallic alloys or rattan wood. Mechanical phalanges with servomotors that can be actuated by the human brain, through neuron-electrode array bridges, and sieve integrated-circuit electrodes. Bileaflet heart valves made from polymers or ceramics. Pancreatic pacemakers for diabetics. Bone conduction audio devices for the deaf.

 

In due time, man and machine will be indistinguishable. And man will ditch his natural body for a more enhanced body. This inevitability is written into the very code of humanity’s future.

 

Behold, All I see is Code.

Mind Flow: Part 3: Rhythm from a distant past

 

Mind flow part three - Rhythm from a distant past

Though you weren’t a trained dancer, I saw the dance in you the very first time we met. I saw the natural rhythm in your steps as you walked, the natural elegance and grace in your body form: how you walked with a natural, animal-like spring in your steps, seemingly floating from one step to the next. And I was enchanted, and resolved to train you and bring that natural harmony into actual choreography: I, a choreographer by profession, sought to light your natural rhythm into ordered steps and swoops and swirls and gyrates that could resonate with human music.

 

And you, you accepted my proposal, and fell into my arms, and we started with dance moves that further developed your natural elegance, such as ballet, and you took so well to the jumps that even I was amazed: the sautés, the jetes, the entrechats, and even the complex Pas de Chat: in all these, you grasped the concepts, and practiced till you perfected, within days. It was breathtaking, seeing how fast you perfected what many people took years to even perform comfortably. And so we enjoyed a period of bliss, where I took the lead, and you followed my lead, and together, we became swans in flight: light on our feet, hands waving and weaving, and feeling the cosmic music flowing through us.

 

And then I taught you the Caribbean moves: the energy, the vigor, and the sheer magic of listening to, and appreciating syncopated beats. I taught you how to step on the off-beat, and change moves on the off-beat, and top-break on the off-beat. And once again, like a wizard well versed in the alchemy of percussion and codas and flangers, you took to this counter-intuitive dancing like fish to water. And so we skanked, and jigged, and you did the dutty wine, and we limboed, and you gyrated and did complete splits, and I, your former trainer, sat down, mesmerized, as I watched you do things that I had previously considered impossible. You hypnotized me when you got into rhythm.

 

So many years have passed since then. And in those years, providence has had us drift away from each other. You went abroad on a scholarship. I immersed myself into business. The phone calls between us grew fewer and fewer in number until, eventually, they dried up altogether. But every now and then, when I look up into the skies, and see birds in flight, I remember you, and I remember your natural elegance and gait. I remember you, and I feel deep pangs of nostalgia. Wherever you are, whatever you do nowadays, I hope that every once in a while you too remember me, and that you too remember the utter freedom of raising your hands up, and performing the Grand Jete: as naturally as a swan, soaring in the winds.

End of Days

 

End of Days

So many things left unsaid… so many visions unrealized. And yet, a huge contentment settled upon her. For although she was on her death bed, her soul mate was right beside her, clasping her frail hand in both of his own, and letting his tears fall freely on that union of hands. But her eyes were bright, and her weak, exhausted smile, genuine. For, at the end of her days, she’d finally understood: that life was like a piece of art, on to which new details were added daily, but that never quite ever got finished.  And that, at this very last moment, only the highlights of her life mattered: the many shared long walks through many a nature trails, the many joyous birthday celebrations of herself and her soul mate, and those regular, still moments when both just gazed into each other’s eyes, without saying anything.

 

Life had been a grand, precious gift to her, and she had lived it to the fullest. She had often climbed to the highest heights of pure joy and exhilaration, where even angels would have wept in ecstasy. And she had also, every now and then, descended to the lowest echelons of sorrow, where only her soul mate could reach her, and pull her back up. But the world around had been vast, and multi-colored, and every new day had always brought with it new experiences, and new memories to hold on to. And she had realized, that life was full of nuances – so many shades, so many hues, so many delicate and fragile sentiments – and that all these only made it all, all the richer. Looking back at all that, she knew that her life, her piece of art – her fresco – was firmly etched into the aisles of time and history.

 

And now, as the curtains fell on her life, she made one last effort to talk to her soul mate. And she told him, in a surprisingly clear voice:

 

“It has been one wild but endearing ride, dear. Now promise me… promise me, that when I finally fade away, that you will not continue weeping, for I will no longer be able to wipe your tears away.”