Tag Archives: Life

the photo

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Here I am, laughing boisterously-

Nobody misses the flying hair,

the static twinkle in the eye,

the fingers wrapped around my waist,

a sliver of skin where the dress slips off my shoulder.

A moment captured for posterity.

Those who see, think-

“At the still point, there the dance is.”

Only,

The hair is unwashed, the dress is burlap,

the fingers are leaving a mark,

the twinkle is the reflection of artifice.

I am laughing at myself.

 

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The Sunday Disconnect

I would rather write about a glorious Sunday. One that we all have painted out and ready in our heads, you know, a pretty little virtual movie with one of those watermarked Audiojunkie happy tunes in the background. One where I sleep in late and wake up to the familiar warmth of the midday sun or the sounds of a busy kitchen or the annoying screaming of kids playing cricket in the streets of a utopian gated community or the crackle of oil and the smell of breakfast or the floral scent of soap from Amma’s morning shower. Whichever happens first. But it is not to be. I wake up early, early for a Sunday that is, and try to remember what it is that woke me up, waiting for the all too familiar gushy feeling of I-have-nothing-to-do-it’s-a-Sunday to spread through my veins and provide the adrenaline to do nothing. I hit a blank. I just woke up, it seems. Outside the window the sun is bleak, looking like it did not sleep very well. Or maybe it just hasn’t reached its full potential yet. I realise all I ought to need is some brisk morning air to wake myself up. I step out into the garden.
The air is still and the ground is wet. It has apparently rained through the night, and this should be a relief. Google tells me today’s forecast for Coimbatore is 34 degrees with a thunderstorm. There’s nothing in there about the calm before the storm though. So much for the high hopes that the cool morning breeze will ruffle me up. The leaves stand in attention and the ants silently make their way up and down the stems, pushing me into a deep existential probe about the similarities between Sisyphus and the Ant. Out of the blue, I decide to sing to the plants. Surely that will wake both of us up? Unfortunately, I am not well informed about the song choices of the venerable Hibiscus rosa-sinensis and start humming Aerosmith’s Dream On . Like I discover, the song does not become humming very much and I growl out the refrain. I swear the plant shudders, and the thought disturbs me more than the fact that I have been unconsciously singing to the beat of the distant barks of a dog. At least somebody’s got their thing going this morning, I think.
I abandon the singing and pick up The Hindu, lying half wet on the porch. The paper boy must have overshot his aim today. It sits there, looking well informed and meaty and a little demonic. If newspapers can look that. It is Sunday and there is Jerry Pinto’s column to read, my mind rejoices. It is about snow. The article is well written, of course, but Pinto’s despondency only adds to mine. The two lines in the entire essay that I can relate to is when I picked my nose and found my finger completely red too, not due to low temperatures like in Pinto’s case, but from when I had dengue fever. That mental image refuses to make way for any more snow imagery and I sigh and give up on the article half way. The Sunday Disconnect weighs heavily upon me.
I trudge back to my room and put on my Sennheisers. The muffs need to be replaced, but my ears love them anyway, like the one pillow you love to hug though it’s not fluffy anymore. I hit play on my phone, and the tune picks up from where it left off.
Kitni dafaa subah ko meri tere aangan me baithe maine shaam kiya. Channa mereyaa..
How often my day has morphed into night waiting for you.

Rediscovery

The evening passes in tense awkwardness

of politesse and thank-yous inching around

soul aches and knee touches seemingly oblivious

Until the charade comes to an end

and a simple “Drive?” hangs in the air.

We loop around roads I told apart

Once

by the aging temple, the Gulmohar

in full bloom, the coy stationery

huddled in between, but no more.

They go by, hurt,defiant at being

forgotten. I memorize instead

You.

Your checkered shirt stretched taut across

shoulders that promise respite

The ache to trace a finger across that back

translating to a pathetic, wandering

finger on the strap slung across

and when you shake your head trying to understand

if what boils in you wells up in me

I count the small number of grey hair,

Register the exact tint of your Ray-Ban,

trace the shape of your teeth through the boyish smile-

Only stopping when

I look at the soul shining out of the reflection

of your gaze in the rear-view

And gasp

Terrified to see the same fire in mine

And with an effort that might have

Ousted Atlas’s, wrench eyes away.

I see

the temple, the Gulmohar, the stationery-

they’re all ablaze.

When half a year’s done, a balance-sheet

Six months into the year, nothing is new any longer. The prime minister, the phones, the books and the movies have all settled comfortably into the “accustomed to” category. All but the resolutions we made earnestly over that eventful New Year’s-eve.

As the clock struck twelve and 2015 dawned upon us, I remember thinking with steely determination of all the things to be accomplished during the year. The Internet was heavily browsed for the easiest way to stick to the resolutions. Glorious images of one floating around the kitchen looking chic with apron and top hat, a bit like the contestants on MasterChef; a fitter body that didn’t have to grunt every time it tried to touch its toes; and a better-read shelf with Kafka finally done, flitted in and out of the mind. I should have realised then it was the adrenaline and the delicious plum cake speaking.

The first step was to look up challenges. Because aren’t they fun to accomplish? The Goodreads challenge was hastily signed up for and reading a hundred books promised to the book-loving Internet society. Second-hand bookstores were raided and shelves stocked. Ever heard of the squirrel that couldn’t get through even half of its hoard of nuts? You’re looking at it. Sleep became a more important event than exercise. For hey, flab is lost and gained, but the time spent sleeping can never be replaced. So after weeks of setting my alarm early and shutting it off myself without batting an eyelid, I gave up on the exercise routine. And the MasterChef plan, well, um. Perhaps I thought watching the show was better than being one, for that has not yet materialised either.

Sometimes, they say, all that a man needs to succeed is to challenge himself. But sometimes all we need is to do what we want to, and the momentum builds up by itself. True, I did not and perhaps cannot now fulfil my Goodreads challenge, and Kafka has not yet been touched. But I discovered instead D.H. Lawrence and Emily Dickinson. The former I picked up quite unabashedly because of the particularly beautiful cover of Lady Chatterly’s Lover, and the latter because of a snip of her verse I read – “I’m nobody. Who are you? / Are you nobody too?”. That stood out in stark contrast from the side of me that wanted very badly to be somebody. I skipped a masterpiece, but gained masters of writing. Mother decided, against loud feminist protests from my side, that twenty one was old enough to help her out in cooking, and I discovered strange solitude in adding dollops of sugar to tea and coffee, mixing batter and just contentedly listening to the grinder whir.

The year so far, thus, has been beautiful. I have not visited an exotic place, but have seen the serene quiet waves of the neighbouring town by the sea. I have not caught up on the ‘Game of Thrones’ TV series, but have discovered ‘The Newsroom’ instead. And though the daily Guardian Crossword remains unsolved, my interest in the genre of cryptic crosswords grows. You see, as they say, the best moments of life are the unplanned ones.

(This was published in The Hindu on June 16. Yay! )

Tiptoe

We had both a fair share of secrets buried deep,
Though woes were shared and souls were bared-
These secrets we did keep.

It wasn’t that we had no trust, we were both very kind,
Though beastly scares had made us one-
We couldn’t speak our mind

All we did was heave a sigh and talk when secrets slept,
And though in sleep our joys awoke –
The secret still was kept

A day came by when finally we had to bid goodbye,
And secrets gnawed at us inside-
Made us look up and sigh

We knew that we could neither say nor part with things unsaid,
Though we had each things concealed-
Our hearts- they broke, they bled.

Depart we didn’t, though fair share of secrets we did keep,
It has been years and we still do-
Locked up in souls them heap.

The Kalyug Ramble

Disease. War. Depression. Misery. Death.

The story of the world today chronicles around this paradigm. Be it the Gaza conflict or the bitter news of someone close afflicted by cancer, there’s not a sliver of hope anywhere. The worst part is only the most innocent seem to be given the worst. Is it the brilliant girl’s fault that she lost the love of her life in a society that reeks of ostracizing against widows? Perhaps it was the blind boy’s karma that got to him when his mother got terminal cancer. I am tired of sympathizing with people and sympathizing with myself. Do I become a masochist, inflicting pain upon myself so I may not feel selfish for singularly feeling happy when misery floats around depreciating hope? It feels strangely hypocritical writing about love and joy and anything not connected to pain when there is so much of it around for inspiration. I am leaning too much towards idealism, maybe? I think I don’t really know anything right now. I refuse to delve myself too much into religion, and yet find myself wanting to accuse Him, falteringly because of fear on one hand, of unfairly doling out misery in haphazard proportions to those that least deserve it. Perhaps it is true, the concept of the “absentee landlord” but somewhere my conservative upbringing refuses to believe it, for it it is in my blood that when all is lost, a force helps you. One interpretation of this force is God, but to me the interpretation is forever hope.

Maybe the Indian scriptures are right after all. We are now in the Kali Yuga, in a world chronicling despair. Maybe all this is in the mostly ambiguous plans that the unknown force has laid out for us. Still, it is this submission of life into the hands of some indomitable force, this helplessness that irks. If man were not supposed to take his destiny into his own hands, he should not have been bestowed with the ability to think. But this train of though makes me shudderingly think of all those young girls of four being raped by insane pedophiles, when they clearly do not know enough to think. How are they to save themselves then, how are they to take their fates on their own hand. Worse, how about the cases of female infanticide where hypothetical iron ladies are crumbled to dust before flesh forms? So, yes humans can think, but to think you need to develop, and to develop you need to live. I wonder if it is terrorists we go to begging for our lives, abandoning the moral compass, the government, abandoning dignity, or God, abandoning/ in the quest for hope.

Call me weak. Some part of me says that if I were Atlas, I would abandon the earth. Why do humans have emotions at all? If we did not know extreme happiness we would not mind sadness, if we did not feel hope we would not mind despair and if we did not feel , we would exist, which is more that what a lot of people are doing right now. In the wide depressing ocean of grief then, do the droplets of joy fading into nothingness count? I don’t know. Furthermore, I might sound selfish in saying I don’t want to find out. I just want to live without the hundred voices around me screaming despondently and the one voice inside me asking if it should shout too, just to match the ones outside. Soon, osmosis should start acting up, and the voices outside will start seeping in.

Sigh. Hot pasta awaits. I will be joyous in the tiny ways I can until guilt seeps in again.