Sunday, October 8, 2017

This is an attempt to articulate and capture the depth and breadth of what I am feeling at this exact moment.

This is perhaps a futile attempt, but certainly isn’t deprived of a sense of nobility.
This is an expression of the consternation at the epiphany that the lessons learnt through one’s life are for them, and them alone.
This is a dirge for a world that is solely one's own.
This is an embrace with strife.
This is the extent of significance in absolutes.
This is the best a mind balanced on a pin point can rhyme.
This is the joy he feels by knowing he doesn’t have to rhyme.
This is the realization that his every thought has already tied a knot.
This is a submission that his home after the years, he knows not.
This is his terror that the tree will fall without the root.
This is the nostalgic reassurance that the roots are his to boot.
This is the comfort in knowing that meaning is self-defined
This is a dismissal of his thoughts, his mood and his mind.

This is meaningless.
This is bliss.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Skyharbor: Gig Review

Friday is usually a long night at work for me. A 10pm exit is the best case scenario, but the 28th of November was different, not just for me, but for many of the people that were at Counter Culture. It was a night where intentional light physical trauma trumped deadlines. It was the night that we’d get to watch Skyharbor for the first time after the launch of their new album, Guiding Lights.

I’d been blasting the album driving to and from work ever since it came out and to see it performed was something I had been looking forward to. After one lame excuse and a new found apathy toward work, I was at the venue on time to catch Inner Sanctum.

In retrospect, it was the correct decision indeed. My neck shall testify. Sanctum ripped through their set in a spectacular fashion. It drove me to mosh and bang my head way more than I had for the past few months. It felt incredible to just let go and trust the integrity of my shoes as I dived into the pit. The new lineup was insane! And so were the songs off their new album.

Inner Sanctum

Many incredible riffs and solos later, it was waiting time as the stage was being set for Skyharbor, and after much bated breath, they finally came on stage, only to hear that Daniel Tompkins’s vocal chords were swollen. It didn’t seem to slow him down for a second. He was just as active as he was when I saw Skyharbor last in the Strawberry Fields fest about two years back. There was not one note that was off key. It was perfect, and the crowd was appreciative. If I didn’t know any better, it seemed like the band were driven on by the energy that the crowd showed off.

Skyharbor takes stage

The set started off with the opening track of the new album, ‘Allure’. The speedy start to the song pumped life back into the audience and about thirty seconds, when the riff picked up, we were fully on song, singing along to bits of the song that we knew.

The one thing that’s amazing about Skyharbor is their incredible ability to make a song feel heavy with so much melody infused in the song with the use of amazing vocals and the ambience of the songs. The band were truly alive and kicking and it was great to see five people who live quite far away from each other belt out the opener with so much fluidity and enthusiasm. Something I was sorely missing.

The next song was probably my favourite song off the new album, ‘Patience’. It started off with a beautiful section that made you want to bob your head only to realise its deceptively simple. This is another of the numerous abilities of the band, to make odd time signatures seem so natural and melodious. The bass played by Krishna Jhaveri was beautiful, it accented the music perfectly and the drumming was spot on. This was the song that made me go back home and look for lyrics and try to sing along. I wish I knew the lyrics whilst I was at the gig though.

Amazing vocals amidst a sea of flying horns

It was at this point that Dan said that he was having a tough time and he needed us to sing along to the next one, ‘Evolution’. It started off with a fast riff and a slow build up to the main riff that turned most of the audience into a mosh pit spontaneously. It was liberating. ‘Evolution’ definitely has one of the best choruses among the songs from Guiding Lights. Dan stood up on the monitors when it came around, and our vocal chords took one step toward being swollen. It was impossible not to shout out.

Scream for me Bangalore!

Then, we heard a riff on the left speakers that then bounced off to the right speakers and before you knew it, we were all screaming after having realised that it was ‘Catharsis’. It was the first song of Skyharbor’s I had heard and it was amazing watching it being performed after so long. I just love the lyrics of this song, probably the most poignant lyrics from Blinding White Noise. This song also has my favourite solos, which were played with closed eyes and a smile by Devesh Dayal. You know what else is poignant on this song? The vocal parts after the solo. It really makes you think of all those times you were home, sat in your chair, listening to your favourite music.
Next up was Halogen, a song off Guiding Lights. One really must tip his hat to Keshav Dhar. He set up the ambience for each song to perfection. Everywhere I looked around me, there were people lost in the music, wearing nothing more than their favourite metal T-shirt, a pair of jeans and a smile.

The band seemed to appreciate crowd participation

Next up was Guiding Lights, the title song of the new album. It starts off with a terrific atmosphere, again, set up by Keshav. Those who were familiar with the new album got it as soon as the opening riff was played. During the bridge of this song was when the spotlight fell, once again on a very enthusiastic Krishna Jhaveri. He had his eyes closed and was singing along to the lyric. Before this song, Daniel assured us that Skyharbor would always write music together, and the song itself was enough to convince anyone that they weren’t kidding. The chemistry of the band is quite something.
The next song was ‘The Constant’, the longest song from the album, clocking in at 9:33, although it didn’t seem long enough! You can really hear the sound of the band evolving in the new album and this was the culmination of that. Alternating between ethereal clean parts to heavy riffs seemed to come naturally and effortlessly to the band and it was terrific to watch them enjoy playing the song just as much as we enjoyed listening to it.

All focus was on the music

Unfortunately, the next song was also the last one. Many people from the crowd kept screaming ‘Celestial’ wishing that it would be the song ringing in their ears for the night, but the ambience of the next few minutes meant it was obvious, we would get this wish. The whole crowd sang along to the song. It was familiar; it felt like coming home after an amazing journey. For me, this song captures all that Skyharbor is about. The music, the lyrics, the vocals, everything just seemed very unreal in a very intimate setting.

Lights fade out, away

After the set, we were left wanting more. We shouted for an encore, but with a premonition that it was over. The guys were gracious enough to step out and take a picture with their fans though. All in all, it was a spectacular evening. A much needed evening at that. Let’s hope we get to see more and more of these gigs in Bangalore, where the bands and the crowd just have one intent, to enjoy the music.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Seventeen Strangers and One Kindred Soul

Mr. Thompson was the Fourth Grade Math teacher. He was sure of this. He was sure that he was Mr. Thompson. For some reason that seemed just about as certain as the look on the students’ faces as they saw the man’s ego contort to an unimaginable extent. Mr. Thompson’s existence, in his head, was slowly, but surely fading away; although, he knew it wasn't slow. He knew that the past second felt like an eternity to him. Concepts like time and existence seemed to alienate him. He felt betrayed that he was left in a world like the one he was in: a world of hopeless disorientation.

It was the morning of the Sixth of October when little Timmy glanced at his parents fighting over the last loaf of bread. Timmy always felt detached from society; he was an outcast like a horse among donkeys, although he would tell you that he was the donkey, no doubt. He was one of the few children on the planet who liked to go to school. It was his escape, his solace. He enjoyed plucking flowers for Mrs. Beasley just about as much as he enjoyed Mr. Thompson’s classes. He felt close to Mr. Thompson. He looked at him as if he were an enigmatic father figure. The only reason he was enigmatic to Timmy was that he was always afraid of talking to him. Timmy did, however, solve all the problems in class and when Mr. Thompson recognised Timmy’s math skills, he handed him a Rubik’s Cube. Timmy became obsessed with it. He would play it in recess, in between classes, even in the time he had allotted to pluck Mrs. Beasley’s flowers.

Many flower-less ponytails later, Timmy had finally solved the cube and had come to class with an elusive sense of pride. He would show what he had done to Mr. Thompson and he would finally have a man to look up to and admire; a man to confide in. Timmy wanted to know what he had to say, the joy allowed him to sleep with a smile on his face after many nights.

Mr. Thompson felt alone and helpless on the Sixth of October. His head seemed to be floating up above his head and he felt his view was elevated. He felt the angels calling him from above and the devil urging him to give him company. The angel and devil upon his shoulders were making love. There was no right, no wrong. Mr. Thompson was in the midst of mental breakdown in the middle of a class filled with eight year olds.

Memories seemed like glimpses, flashes, like specks in the infinitely wide spectrum of life. Memories of him being bathed as a baby, of him learning to throw a football, of his wife, her scent. She possessed him. Then he saw it, he saw what he had forbidden himself from seeing. He saw her asphyxiated face and her disfigured neck. He fell deeper and deeper into the abyss.

It was strange. Mr. Thompson was incoherent on the Sixth of October, unlike his usual self. Timmy was mildly worried with the tepid manner of his class. There was no excitement, no rush. It was dull, not much of an escape. As the class wore on, Timmy saw something, a brief look of extreme alienation, something familiar to Timmy. He kept his empathetic gaze on the disoriented Mr. Thompson as he dropped the chalk and gazed aimlessly at the board. The children looked around quizzically, but Timmy held his gaze. His eyes met Mr. Thompson’s and he smiled as he showed him the solved Rubik’s cube.

Mr. Thompson felt as if his world was crumbling in the space of a few seconds. He realized just how much of a loner he had become. He lived alone, had Nine pairs of clothes and they were housed in a closet that had more books than clothes. He switched on his Television almost as often has he fed his goldfish. He liked the goldfish for his unobtrusive nature, in fact. It all made sense. He felt empty and he had finally realized why. He looked up at the blonde kid with blue eyes in the second row of the classroom, the only one who seemed not to mind the fact that Mr. Thompson was in his company every day. The kid smiled at him and showed him a solved Rubik’s cube. The kid had finally done it…. Timmy had finally done it.

He instinctively smiled back as it all settled down. He was okay. It had been fifteen years since the Pandora’s Box that was his ego had been stuffed to its brim. It was never opened until a random day, in a random room that had Seventeen strangers and One kindred soul.

It was a shattering orgy of great realization and empathy.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Testament: Gig Review

Everybody needs a lift now and then; there’s no denying this. For most people, this is going out partying or something to that effect, but for me, it was watching Testament brutally attack the audience with songs, each one better than the next. It was an incredible adrenaline surge and although temporarily sidelined by a cold, I could feel the sheer energy of the crowd. I could relate to people when they got that look on their face and ran into the pit. This happened to a friend of mine when the opening riff of Into the Pit was played. It was an instant adrenaline surge.

It was a relatively hot day on the 15th of December 2012 and a bunch of my friends and I reached the Embassy Horse Riding School after a quite an irritating hiccup. The taxi’s tire had gotten punctured. We reached the venue by the time Parikrama were just finishing up their set and by the time we bought our tickets and got in, Kryptos were already on to their second song. Kryptos is an incredible band that is on the cusp of exploding. Their new album, The Coils of Apollyon has been rated highly on many review sites, I mean, we here in India knew that this band was amazing, but there is nothing like the feeling you get when you watch someone ‘underground’ get recognized in the manner that Kryptos has been recently. It’s really a proud moment when I, or any Indian metalhead reads a good review of this album, it deserves to be up there. So anyway, after a near-perfect set, Kryptos were made to vacate the stage before playing what is probably their signature song, Decension, much to our disappointment.

After about forty five minutes of sound checking, the sound of a choir came on the PA. I suspected something as up and I ran as I carefully avoided people so as to not drop my Shawarma and before I knew it, Testament were actually on stage! And there I was, stuffing food into my face. I dropped it and a friend and I immediately rushed toward the stage. It was time to ‘Rise Up’. It took me about two minutes for me to realize that everything was just as it was meant to be. Chuck had his portable mic stand and Alex had his black watch, and sure enough, when Chuck said ‘Rise Up’, we screamed ‘WAR!’ as loudly as we could. It’s a strange thing when a band takes stage. I remember feeling drained and ill during the sound check, but the moment testament hit the stage, all those feelings were gone. They were replaced with a surprisingly flexible neck.

After ‘Rise Up’, we were whisked onto the signature riffs of ‘The New Order’, the title song of their 1988 album, and ‘The Preacher’. Chuck then promptly greeted the crowd by saying, among other things, ‘Namaste’, which led to many loud cheers. It was then time for ‘Native Blood’, another song off the new album, Dark Roots of Earth. The talents of Mark Hernandez were perfectly showcased in this song. Next up was ‘True American Hate’, which is probably my favorite song from Dark Roots. There are few solos more apt than the one in this song, and it was as incredible on stage as it is on the record. This solo, to me, is probably Mr. Skolnick’s finest solo in recent times in a metal context.

The band then totally ripped the crowd in half with ‘More Than Meets the Eye’. The album this song is from, The Formation of Damnation was what got me into Testament; I can only imagine what it must’ve felt like to have heard it after nearly a decade of no new Testament music, and by God, it sounded amazing. We were then treated to the title song of the new album, ‘Dark Roots of Earth’, which got everyone moshing. It was then time to ‘Go old school’, as Chuck put it.

As soon as it was announced that ‘Into the Pit’ was the next song, there was a mass exodus from the standing areas to the mosh pit and it stayed that way for a while, because the next two songs were ‘Practice What You Preach’ and ‘Over the Wall’ and not moshing to these three songs could be considered borderline sacrilege.

Next up was ‘Souls of Black’. Greg Christian was a presence throughout the show, with his rock steady bass playing, but this was when he came out onto the spotlight. The bass intro got everyone in the pit more excited. ‘Alone in the Dark’ was the next song. This, together with ‘More Than Meets the Eye’ were two songs that the audience were really involved in. Songs that everyone enjoyed screaming their lungs out to. The stage went pitch black after ‘Alone in the Dark’, and we knew that something big was coming.

This was one of the best shows I’d attended for sure, but when the opening riff of ‘DNR’ was played, it became so much more than that. There are few concerts that I can recall perfectly, three to be precise. Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and now, Testament. To me it’s a symbol of how good the show was when you can recall many details. I can still remember every part of the song, I can remember Chuck tossing plectrums, I can remember how he spelt out ‘DNR.’ in the air, complete with the full stop, but that wasn’t the end.

It was time for ‘3 Days of Darkness’. Chuck was signaling how in three days, we’d all be gone, or that’s how I perceived it, and it really seemed to resonate with everyone. Including me, I must admit. I suppose everyone romantically likes the idea of everything coming to a complete end, and just like that, we were into the last song, ‘The Formation of Damnation’, the title song of the album which had Alex Skolnick returning as lead guitarist, the album which ended nine years of silence from the Testament camp, it was a fitting end to a brilliant set; what’s more, Chuck descended to the crowd, and to great effect. If you thought he was majestic on stage, you should see him a few feet away from you. People, including me ran towards him like moths to a flame. The band then, unfortunately said their goodbyes, rather reluctantly, because Chuck’s microphone had stopped working for some reason.

All in all, nobody could have asked for a better Saturday night. The band was much more than five excellent musicians on stage. Everyone was at the top of their game. In fact, Alex was so near perfect that I picked up my guitar, wiped all the dust away and found inspiration again. It’s been lacking recently, and this was just the kick I needed.

There were a few complaints about the venue being prohibitively far from the city and that the sound could have been better. Another major complaint was that Gojira were playing a show on the same day. This was a major organizational hiccup, but I didn’t complain, nor did I hear anybody else complain. Everyone was taken aback and were trying to recover from a masterful performance. It would be safe to assume that many car rides back home were really quiet because that was the effect it had on people. I hope they come back, because this was an experience of a lifetime.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Pop Tarts

Brian and I were best friends. I can recall many incidents where I felt inspired by the man, but the one that springs to mind immediately is the following. This happened in the summer of 2011. We had acquired some marijuana after a sojourn to the suburbia of Kelowna, and, as always, the conversations between Brian and myself somehow evolved into a philosophical one.

“What life wants us to do is end it. It doesn’t want us to enjoy it. At every step, all we encounter are obstacles, so either man himself has made life to be a convoluted ass-rape, or life itself, as all beings in nature, wants to end. It needs to”, I said, while rolling Brian and my second joint.

“I’m sorry, it needs to?”, said Brian.

“Yeah, because if nobody dies, then the earth would have either been an overpopulated shit-hole or humans would’ve erased each other, don’t you think so?”

“Well, I consider my life to be a blessing, I don’t think about life as a separate entity like you seem to, I don’t think there’s anything that life ‘wants’ per se. While it may be true that it’s the natural tendency of life to end, I think that is a terrible way to live a life, to live it knowing that it is surely going to end. It either pushes you to work hard and succeed and leave a mark or it totally fucks you up, in most cases, it fucks you up, simply because it gives you a convenient excuse when you fuck up”

Brian took a puff at the joint and gave it to me, and I did the same.

“Life is too short, man”, said Brian, “There is more to life than just smoking weed and feeling bad for yourself. I’ve come to realize that.”

“Really? Enlighten me, oh learned one” I asked quizzically, as I handed back the joint.

“Well, look at it this way, you die eventually. That is an irrefutable fact. Everybody dies. So you may ask, what is the point in living? Well, when you think about it, and you compare the size, the intricacies and the sheer beauty of the universe, we are just like tiny, insignificant specks on a map. It simply doesn’t matter what drink you like, or how you smoke a lot when some girl hurts you. The fact of the matter is that we all die and even if we did something that changed literally everybody’s life on this planet, it is so fucking insignificant when you compare it to how massive everything is”

Helplessness became me, but wait, I have a joint. I sucked at it till my lungs were full and said, “…Actually, you may be right, but still, even considering that death is necessary and the fact that all our existence on this tiny planet is insignificant, I can’t help but feel deep empathy for all those who die every day, I can’t help but feel angry at the fact that we let something as shallow as religion and skin color come between the entire race and peaceful existence. What the fuck is wrong with us?”, I asked expectantly.

“Well, you are a sensitive person. You may not care to admit it, even to yourself, but you are, and so it’s hard for you to accept these facts, but, I maintain that religion is the worst thing that happened to humanity. Don’t get me wrong, when it was established, it was a great success, people were united with a warm sense of belonging, but consider the circumstances under which it was formed. People had no idea of land other than their own and had no knowledge of any science. Consider Plato’s allegory of the cave. Three people are shackled from child birth in a cave with a huge fire behind them and people walking past the flame. They aren’t allowed to move their head, arms, legs, indeed, any part of the body, the shadows on the wall becomes their reality. Now consider that one of the three guys is set loose and is allowed to go outside the cave. He goes outside, and learns the way of the real world and gets back to the cave, Plato, in essence said that when he does come back, he won’t belong to his home, that he might even find it pathetic that his previous reality was just darkness and that if somehow he got the chance to kill the man who let him loose and destroyed his perception of reality, he would do it, because he was, simply put, mind-fucked. We live in the same situation now, more or less. Everybody is living in their own delusional reality that they are doing the right thing by standing true to the writings that somebody delivered thousands of years ago, but the actual reality is that they’re just making life harder for everybody. They are just giving people a reason to be suspicious, to look over their shoulder, to be afraid, they are mind-fucking people” he said, with a smirk.

For a stoner, Brian did have an innate sense of wisdom about him…

“Well, I don’t know how I feel about thinking that my life is insignificant. I guess like any truth, it is hard to swallow”

“That is exactly what I thought when I first read about all of this, but it stuck in my head. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I just feel struck with a never ending malady of helplessness. Eventually, it soothed and liberated me because I am powerless. We are just too deep into this mess. I don’t care if religion is not the only thing that makes people kill each other. Maybe we are hard-wired to kill people who believe in different things because we somehow feel threatened, but at the end of the day, there is nothing we can do about it. So what if Osama died? So what if America has her first black president? There will always be dissent amongst people, and there is nothing we can do about it. All I want to do now is have some pop tarts, so sue me”

All I could do was think deeply about what had just entered my mind, so seemingly harmlessly, and it occurred to me that Brian didn’t utter the word ‘God’, even once during our whole conversation. I smiled to myself and finished off the joint.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Grace For Drowning

It was a warm April night when I decided to go to the beach for some alone time. I always found the beach to be a comforting place. A place where all my troubles go away for a couple of hours. That could be because of the majesty of the Indian Ocean or the cheap liquor. Either way, I decided to stock up before going to the beach. I went to a cordoned off area where there was nobody to supervise me. After reaching my usual spot, I sat there, sipping whiskey and humming to myself whilst looking at waves crushing themselves on the shoreline. That was an apt metaphor for life. You go on living each day, and then suddenly, almost like a countdown ends, you are gone without leaving a mark. All those speeches you give to yourself about how you would seize the day or how you would stop your monotonic patterns and do something else for a change seem irrelevant when you face the same end that everyone on this planet faces. Rich or poor, good or bad, you will die one day. I didn’t know if that made me feel afraid or comfortable.

The stars looked beautiful that night. Like diamonds you could grab on to. You could stare at them for hours without losing a scintilla of wonder. After a while, I looked down at the endless ocean. It looked like the end of the earth here. For some reason I felt drawn to it. The more I tried to control myself from going into the ocean, the harder it was to avoid being seduced by it. It looked so peaceful, and that is all I wanted now. Peace.

I got up off of the sand and walked toward the waves. I closed my eyes as the water touched my feet. I spontaneously smiled. It was almost like going home after a long journey. I could just stand there for an hour, or a day. I figured it was time to return to my spot on the warm sand after some time had passed, but I didn’t want to leave this place. It was so….perfect.

I contemplated going further into the water for a couple of minutes and decided to go for it. Carpe Diem and all that. So I swam until I was about hundred meters from the beach. It felt comfortable, and yes, it felt peaceful. I remained there as I heard the sounds of the ocean and life didn’t seem to be a burden anymore. I realized I wanted nothing more than to be comfortable, to be satisfied. I didn’t care about money or fame or anything of that sort, so long as I could keep coming to this blissful utopia.

I was on my way back to the beach when suddenly, the moonlight seemed to disappear. I knew my number was up as soon as I saw what was behind me. It was a HUGE wave. I knew that I would die that minute. The wave hit me hard. I rapidly descended into the ocean. I tried to force my way through the water, but it was futile. The water was unrelenting and terrifying. I kept trying to force my way through. I was trying to scream, but what was the point? I was submerged. With every try I made to get out of the water, I only got more water into my body. I could no longer hold any air. My lungs felt like they weighed a ton. I was dying. Why so soon? I thought. I have so much to live for, I thought. I made a resolution to actually seize everyday if I got out alive by some miracle. My mind was going at a hundred miles an hour. All I wanted was to get some air into my lungs.

And then, it happened. I could see every little incident that ever provoked a reaction being played in front of my eyes. I looked on as I cried at everything I was about to lose. All the love, the anxiety, the companionship, the LIFE, but I knew in my heart that it was immaterial. I was going to a better place now. I just knew it. There is indeed something after life. As soon as I realized this, I stopped struggling. I stopped trying to get out. I stopped moving my limbs, because my time was up. I had taken my turn to live and played terribly and it was time to go now. I accepted it. I didn’t want a second chance. I just wanted what I’ve always wanted. I wanted to be in peace. I smiled gently as more water entered my body. I smiled gently as I let it all go.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


I embarked on what seemed like a thrilling trip to the Himalayas a few years back. It really did seem very thrilling, there was something very alluring about those peaks and scaling them had been a fantasy since the day I had read about Tenzing Norgay's exploits. Some people wanted to play music, some wanted to be rich. I just wanted to achieve something that very few people had achieved and have fun while doing so. Scaling the tallest mountain seemed perfect.
I went to the Himalayas with a yak and a friend, my best friend. We chose to use the same path that Tenzing had used on his trek, ie, the Southeast Ridge. We set up base on the Khumbu Glacier. The view from near our tent was just breathtaking. It exceeded my expectations and I have never seen something as beautiful in all my life. However, we did not stay there for too long as we both felt we had enough energy to keep moving.

We hiked until about five kilo meters from the death zone, where we ate some much needed food like starved pigs. We were far too hungry to notice how beautiful the setting was. I have to give myself a pat on the back for taking as many photographs of the mountains as possible. I knew that I would definitely enjoy them later.

The weather as harsh as it could've been. It was freezing cold and the brandy we carried definitely did us a world of good. We had some food and we tried to brave the slope into the death zone.

In about two hours, we were gasping for air. Oxygen seemed elusive. It was time to use the oxygen cylinders that were on the yak. We turned around looking for the yak, but we couldn't find it. We envisaged that it had collapsed into the snow. No words could describe the horror on my friend's face as we realized how blatant a mistake it was to not keep track of our fancy mule. We started looking around for the yak in the heavy snowfall. We feared the worst as we dug the bone chilling snow to look for the yak. It looked ominous.

Somehow, I noticed an abrupt shape amidst the snow. We rushed to it and immediately put on our oxygen cylinders. Fuck the food and the brandy, I just want some air, I thought. I took a few breaths and a calm came over me. I grabbed the brandy and gave my friend some of the food and off we were. The summit looked near. I kept thinking every hour that it was half an hour away. My friend was panting heavily as he somehow managed to put one foot ahead of the other. After what seemed like an eternity, we had made it! We had been where only a few people had ever been. We were literally on top of the world. It felt like all the heaviness of my life disappeared in that moment because I had achieved what I was born to do. I took out the flag I had made and planted it on the peak of the Himalayas. The people who had hoisted the flag in Iwo Jima couldn't have been as happy as I was. Hell, Yogi Bear smoking weed on a picnic couldn't be as happy as I was. My friend however seemed spent. He couldn't bask in the glory of our achievement. It was a shame. I managed to take as many pictures as I could as the gust took over. Now for the descent.

In about two hours, we were almost out of the death zone, but my friend was exhausted and inebriated.  He was incoherently mumbling things like this to me:
"You know, I am not going to make it"
"I can see my mother welcoming me to heaven"
And then he stopped me from hiking and said with all seriousness,
"You know, I will be dead in a while, and you will be starving. You have been the best friend I've ever had. You can eat me, save the eyes. I promised to donate them. Promise me you will give them to a person who needs them".

I nodded as he coughed blood. I gently set him down and gave him the last drops of brandy that were left as he faded away with a grin, saying "I'm going drunk to heaven, I fucking hope they don't take breath tests".
I'd be lying if I said I thought nobody would die on this adventure, but this was not a good way to go. Offering oneself as food? Wasn't that a bit of a taboo? Either way, he was gone now. I had lost a yak, my best friend and all the brandy. I did what I was told to do. I cut his eyes out and stored them in the empty bottle of brandy. I breathed a sigh as I let his body go. I thought that I would at least take him to the foothills where he can be buried honourably. In about half an hour, I was spent. I simply could not carry my friend along. I decided to set up camp and retire for the night. I started a bonfire and had the last pieces of meat from the food bag. I stared into the flame, vicious yet filled with hope. I looked at my friend and noticed that he had no eyes. It took me a while to remember that I had his eyes tucked away. Then it happened. I heard a shriek somewhere up in the mountains and the next thing I knew, I was in the middle of an avalanche. I held on to my friend's hand as hard as I could. I fathomed that I'd be a dead man soon. I looked around and saw that I was a foot away from a dangerously placed rock. I felt my back slam against the rock and passed out.

As fate would have it, I was still alive the next morning. I awoke as the sun rays hit my eyes. Somehow, I had still held on to my friend's hand and his eyes were still tied to my belt. I tried and failed many times to pick myself up from the sickening cold. I thought this was it for me and just as I was about to fade away, I gave it one last shot. I gave it everything. Somehow, I was able to get on my knees. I gasped for air and confirmed that I still had my friend's eyes. My friend's body was loosely covered in snow. I managed to thaw him out with my knife as we continued our descent. At twilight, I sat on the snow and stared blankly at the sky. The stars were bright that night.

I gathered some wood from a tree that had fallen nearby and desperately hoped that I could start a fire. I sparked the lighter on the wood, and somehow it caught fire. It must've fallen recently, I thought. There I sat, alone with my thoughts, never ending. A lot had happened that day. I had lost my best friend and I had achieved my destiny, but all I could think of was how delicious my friend's arms looked. As sick and disgusting as it may sound, I thought it would be okay to eat him. I took out my knife and froze as I was about to cut him. All the good times we had shared passed by my eyes in a flash, but I was so fucking hungry. I looked at his face, and somehow, his grin was still intact. I smiled to myself and cut his forearm and cooked it on the fire. This was the best meal I had ever had in my life. I savoured every last sinew.

I had my fix. I couldn't sleep. I must've been a few miles from the base camp. I got up and held my friend by the hand and dragged him. I kept moving. About an eternity later, I could see the camp below a ridge just as the sun was rising. I ran till my muscles were on fire and my heart pumped battery acid. I took the water that we had stacked there on arrival and shoved all of it down my throat. I saw a gerbil and I killed it with my bare hands and ate it. I then realized that my friend was still up on the ridge. I managed to climb up and get him down.

I dug the earth to bury my friend as a man walked up to me. He was probably on his way up the mountain too. I glanced a look at him and returned to the digging. He came to me and said, "Need some help?". I foolishly nodded. After we finished digging, I motioned with my hands to help me pick my friend up. The missing hand was the first thing he saw. He stared in dismay. It was pretty obvious that someone had cut his hand. It was also stale news by now that there was an avalanche. He looked at me in horror as he had realized what had happened. "Did you eat him?!", he asked. His was still staring at me in dismay. I had no patience to lie. I was simply too exhausted, too spent to think, so I nodded as a tear rolled down my cheek.

He ran away from me as I sat in the camp. I noticed the cigars that we had kept in the camp which we had got with us. It was my friend's idea to have a celebratory smoke after our descent. I wiped a tear away as I gripped a cigar and lit it. I came outside and sat by my friend's body as I smoked the cigar. I was unable to hold back the tears, but I wanted to celebrate our achievement in the same manner that my friend would have. I smoked as I took out the bottle of brandy that consumed my eyes. I stared into them and I put the bottle down. I puffed on the cigar as I stared at the sky. I puffed the cigar as I heard the sirens wail in the distance. I finished it and stood up with my hands pointed upwards as I saw the police Jeep zooming towards me.
Hyper Smash