‘So, what do you seek through your travels?’
He asked as he poured me a cup.
‘I hope to learn…, from the people I come across, the places I chance upon, and from nature itself.’ I replied.
‘By observing them?’
‘No, by feeling them.’

Khaled Saeed – Storyteller’s Tales

Khaled Saeed – Storyteller’s Tales

‘So, what do you seek through your travels?’
He asked as he poured me a cup.
‘I hope to learn…, from the people I come across, the places I chance upon, and from nature itself.’ I replied.
‘By observing them?’
‘No, by feeling them.’

Khaled Saeed – Storyteller’s Tales

Storyteller's Tales - Some Excerpts

Day-Boarders

‘The streets are a smart teacher, They soon taught me that for a homeless vagrant, ego and morality were unaffordable luxuries. Another quick lesson was to avoid looking in the mirrors, lest the starkness of bitter reality overwhelms you.
To subsist, one had to shed the burden of feelings, and to complain was uselessly immaterial. People didn’t see you as a fellow human being. You did not exist.
Existence meant passing through each day as it came, and hoping that life itself didn’t forsake you when the dark casing of the night encircled you.
However, grumbling didn’t count, so I grumbled as I rose to my feet.’

Cost of Freedom

‘I stared at the windowless walls, plastered with glossy pictures torn from fashion magazines. Those carefree looks, those flowing dresses. Those confident, self-assured eyes.
Luxuries of freedom!
My lightweight windbreaker bore an inscription, ‘Born Free’. My way to defy the circumstances.
Like pretending to be asleep at lunchtime, eating late at night. Falling sick at head-count and calling them Mister instead of Sir.
It didn’t make sense to spend my birthday and all those festival holidays in there. But it didn’t really matter. Within those four walls, behind the bars, in view of the armed guard, I refuse to accept that I have lost.
Because deep inside, I am still free.’

Ali

‘A love of my life was a child I hardly felt in my arms.
His first encounter with life was mortal.

He came into this world then departed, like a bubble.
A moment here and then gone.
And I wanted to mourn. Oh, I wanted to cry.’

One Lifetime

‘This can’t be real… who really are you?’ He sat across me.
‘Like I told you, my name is Lifetime and I am your life.’
‘No tricks?’
‘No tricks.’ This time it was me who kept looking down and nibble at the food.
‘You said, I have the option of reliving my life once over?’
‘Yes, if you so desire.’ I still kept eating my lunch.
‘What should I change if given a second lifetime?’
‘Use your imagination.’ I shrugged.

Identities in Abyss

‘One of the earliest burdens she shed were truthfulness and loyalty. In her realm, she could not afford these luxuries, not even with her own self. Another weakness she could not allow within was fear. These were the privileges affordable only by the protected ones, and she had to contend with scavengers and predators.’

Just Another Superman

‘Sometime before dawn, we decided to sleep. I brought him a blanket and soon Superman was snoring softly on the couch.
I put the lights out and slumped against the wall on the far corner of the room, watching the figure that had been my childhood hero.
A dazzling figure then, the regretful end that lay on my couch. His trademark suit, now ill-fitting, that glamorous elegance, lost somewhere in time.
As I walked to my room, my thoughts drifted to my own state of affairs.
I was still young, had a nice girl, a reasonable job but that was pretty much it. There was no meaning, no insight, no depth; a newspaper buffeted by the winds in the empty streets of life.
I drifted off to sleep a very disturbed man.’

Lost Realities

‘Pain, how much we detest this feeling…’ he continued, ‘but it is actually a signal, a favor upon us to communicate any physical damage that has occurred. It is also a link that communicates emotional turmoil, highlights the value of the ones you care for by forewarning that without them life is not complete.
Similarly love, unlike infatuation, love is a reciprocal feeling, a mutual bond. So if we love to go out in nature, shouldn’t nature be loving you back?
‘Our horses respond to our calls, whistles, and nudges and we think we’ve trained them. In fact, like everything else in nature, they were always communicative but only when we reach out to them, do they tell us they understand.’

Direction

‘Should we humans, the elite among mortals, remain oblivious to the value of time, the majestic beauty of life? The devil must be having the time of his life, picking his teeth while watching humanity waste away.
God! How I wish he becomes afflicted and wastes his devious life away!’

Desert Stormed

‘I had been a friend of the desert for a long time.
Whenever I wanted to sulk it out, I would approach it. And the desert offered me refuge in its sobering voids.
It had watched me mature, then witnessed my fall from grace; devoid of all spiritual vitality, totally numbed by overpowering events.
It would then soothe me, nurture me. In my struggles with the experiences of life, its solitude would fulfil me.
And when I had recovered, had begun to regain some semblance of humanness, it would gently nudge me back to humanity.’

Alice and Her Wonderland

‘As she grew more self-assured, Alice began to sense a budding rebel rise within. The presence of the mentor was comforting but she had a life of her own. Still unwilling to brush him aside, she preferred to maintain a detached silence, no longer sharing her thoughts, or seek his advice. It pained him to watch her drifting away, a rudderless boat heading towards the deep seas. For she was still so vulnerable, yet ill-prepared for the turbulent life ahead; the rebel should have waited.’

Of Vices & Sins

‘Ah! The lures of sinning.
The temptations of immorality are so enchanting, and its pleasures so enticing.
The idea of bedding shapely ladies with chiseled features, mesmerizes the heart, almost takes the breath away. The mind, raked with the thoughts of breathless whispers uttered in stolen ecstasy, and of imagined acts, unfolded so shamelessly and overtly.’

Whispers to the Wind

‘The caravans are always predictable.
Their pace has a rhythm, and the chaotic commotion upon their stopover has an underlying discipline. They never waste excessive water, they never strip clean the fruit trees. Sometimes, they even plant fresh saplings.
The minders ensure that only the dried and withered branches are used as firewood and that their caravans never overstay.
Because I sustain life for them, they know they have to sustain me.
Long before they pack their beasts again for the onward journey, I silently whisper to the winds, and the dusty streets and the bazaars of the destination know of their imminent arrival. Never, since the beginning of time, has a caravan reached the periphery of a town but the residents already knew of its imminent arrival.
You see, the wind is my friend.’

Timeless Times

‘Here he was, sitting on the bench with me, nonchalant in his manners, and yet so dutifully engrossed with his given task.
‘When you mentioned about dying young, was it the earth or you?’
‘Both.’ He said matter-of-factly.
‘And this doesn’t bother you?’
‘You have your choices, you have desires. Phenomenon simply implements the tasks, obeys the commands.’
‘Heartless, huh?’ I looked straight into his eyes.
‘Logically… With a thinking mind, a tsunami would turn into a rebel against the ordained. With a feeling heart, the angel of death would be a sulking recluse.’
I made a mental note; he had intelligence but not the feelings.
Robotics was invented a long time ago.’

The Sapling & the Tree

‘A lonely shepherd walked leisurely into the forest.
The tree was alarmed. His uneasiness was not because of the man but the herd that he goaded into the woodland; a flock of sheep that fed on the juicy blades of fresh wild grass, and the budding sprouts that were just as succulent under their coarse, salivating tongues.
Through his many years, he had observed that the sheep always changed their direction away from his unpalatable leaves.
He looked down at the sapling, who curiously examined those fluffs of wool in fascination.
Aware of the danger, he began shedding his leaves over the sapling to cover her.
‘Hey!!,’ the sapling shouted with indignity. ‘Stop throwing your dirt on me!’
It was all a matter of perspective, but the tree knew why he did what he did.’

Re-visiting Humanity

‘On the first day, we spent most of the time at the ridge, in the tranquil softness of the view. I explained about my tormenting visions and how I left everything to flee from it all.
He listened intently, knowingly. Once in a while, he’d share his complimenting thoughts and acknowledging experiences. Mild interjections like, ‘yeah, I know what you mean.’
I admired his acceptance of whatever I said. No questions, no doubts, on the content or context of my words.
This was the day of my catharsis.’

Two Blinks

There was something surreal about her.
‘Her fascinating beauty would make anyone wish to live a lifetime all over again, yet her soft eyes conveyed the distant depths which made one lose faith in fidelity of life itself.
I was distressed by the realization that she could never truly be mine, no matter how intimate we became.’

‘I write what I feel, not feel what I write’

The One Within

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