Monday, June 19

stillness

Early today morning
as i woke up to the languid slowness of a day
that promised to be half cloudy, half sunny.
The hushed lovemaking of the pigeons,
the noise of a broom sweeping a coarse floor,
the simmer of milk on the kitchen slab,
life around me.
And then all of a sudden
the idea of my death amused me.
a silent going away of 3 decades of life
stillness of hopes & desires
also sweat and grime
failings & hurt
also agony & pain
and after the last of me
is sprinkled from a copper urn
for an unholy union
in the holy river by shriveled,
trembling hands that belongs to a man
who was awaiting his own date with death

what will my roommate
friend of 7 years think
when she wakes up next morning
to see the slump in the adjoining bed
Of my resting back
Will she crease the untidy folds
Of memory stained sheets,
For another inhabitant?

What will the woman
Living in a small town
By the same holy river,
Do?
Shed lonely tears of despair.
Her life now free
Of years of waiting near the phone
And reading cryptic sms
Of strange well being.
Her desperate pain
Weep, for the hands that were
Never smeared by
Bride red mehndi
matched only by an old man’s
misery that he will drown
in the national news
loud, blaring, sensational reporters
bringing fresh
despair, agony, death
till his innards are numbed

And the brother
Who sells painted
Rainbows to little children
To meet the demands
Of his 9 to 6 existence
Would again rise to the occasion
A boy made man too quickly
Against his own wishes
He will shed lonely tears
In the dark
of a sweat soaked bedroom,
For a childhood mate
Who died unplanned
Like always

And a sister
Who wipes tears
Of those not as fortunate
To die young and missed
In a sea swept town
She would spawn hate
Spit venom, negate grief
And sob
Her whole body shaking in
Violent paroxysm

And he, who shared
a slice of me
Who could put his fingers
On every dark line
Under the tired eyes
And tell my day
Fatigue from anger
Anger from fatigue
He would fold parts of my memory
Squabbles & Longings
Joys & Smiles
Love & Fear
All in a white muslin cloth
And keep in his heart
Smug with Napthene balls

What happens when there is no I?
What happens to every bit of me
Labored through the years
Things. Thoughts. Opinions.
Do I live through others
Guest in their memories
In dark bedrooms,
Violent paroxysms
Muslin clothes.
Live through scraps of life
Doled by others.

Monday, June 5

The Orange Wall

The Orange Wall is a love story of our lives and times that could become statistics
The Orange Wall.
I saw the color of the sky change from black to a light blue. The pigeons started squabbling against a closed window. Like passengers negotiating with the reticent conductor to let them in an overcrowded bus.

An effort to find a home. To nestle. Love. Lay eggs. Live. Happily ever after.

I felt a bad churn in my stomach. One that happens from not eating in the night and lying awake till the black sky turns blue.

I had been like that now. Night after night I would remain awake, turning and twisting on an empty stomach, thinking of the times when we were together in the bed. When I would snooze on your arms and you would gently put me back on the pillow. “You smile when I do that,’ you once said. I felt beautiful. It was the way you said it.

I got up from the bed shrugging off your thoughts. Tried to get busy with morning chores. Pouring the bland tea into the mug. Picking up the newspaper in the morning.

The simple things.

We never discussed the bigger things. “The big thing” was lurking on the horizon. Like the unwanted plant on an old wall, that sprouts right in the middle of it and shakes it. Gradually. Brick by brick. Till the informidable wall loses to the insouciant plant. And collapses on a valiant morning.

We were scared of the big thing. The insouciant plant. The collapse.

So we stuck to the simple ones. And we let them define us.

Like I loved to watch you shave. You loved to watch me watch. You would strike an inane conversation while shaving or I would hang around for something inconsequential. I loved the sight of foam on your face, the smell of cologne that filled my nostrils. It was so fresh, so new, so you.

I looked on with fascination. You looked back with amusement. We would talk to each other through the mirror.

I made another attempt to shrug off these thoughts. I switched on the FM. It was a unique leveler to drown thoughts. I could absorb myself in the warm honey like voice of the RJ ignoring the hollow conversation.

FM music filled my ears – badly churned songs dished out by a warm honey like voice.

Music brought us closer.

I remembered the quaint little booze place we went to those days.

Your were surprised at my sense of lyrics. Almost like a new bride who hits upon her mother-in-law’s recipe book in the old attic and tries out one dish a day with meticulous precision, you brought out the half songs in my memory…

It became our routine. Booze, old monk with soda for you, vodka with tonic for me … and loads of music.

You would start with a romantic song…Pal Pal dil ke paas tum rahtee ho .You would look at me flirtatiously… and put your hand on your heart. Till I would move on to intense numbers: Tum Aaaye to aaya mujhe yaad…. Gali mein aaj chand nikla…I would throw a rather victorious glance at seeing you touched while the singer crooned the sublime Dhalta suraj dheere dheere dhalta hee jayega.

I loved the boy in you, the boy who would close his eyes, pucker his eyebrows, shake his head vigorously and sing. From Inside.

We would drink into the night till the flowing music got replaced by rude shutting of lights and pulling of tables. We would then look for you car in the parking lot... I would scream at you for being drunk... while I slurred and bumped into strange cars myself.

‘I don’t think we are working out.’ I would say. “We will work at it”. You would reply.

And it was in the open air restaurant, host to drunken diners swaying to soulful songs scribbled on soggy napkins, I found love. I knew this was real. This was it.

We moved in together. Against all odds. We build our nest like conspiring children who bunked school and went out on a small boat. Away from the laws of land.

The maid switched off the FM. I didn’t notice when she came into the house. I didn’t notice that she had kept the breakfast on the table. I didn’t notice that she was muttering at my lack of interest in the household.

All I knew I wanted you back. No….I wanted us back.

The us that made us different people, made you do things and made me do things.

You painted the living room walls orange, spruced it with yellow lights, built a small bar, and bought our kind of music. I made the morning tea, you made the upma breakfast. We did the laundry together.

In the evening we watched movies or chatted like babies in our little flat at Mahim. In the nights our bodies sought each other for a midnight feral celebration.

We were no longer school kids on a misguided tour.

I was an in-the –face – rebel, a tourist of life while you were the system’s favorite maverick. One who pulls out tricks from his magic satchel, not to shock but to amuse. To make everyone around happy.

And all the while we were bonded by our own needs to shock and please in turn, to an imaginary audience till us happened.

What happened to that us?

If life was a sequential chain reaction consisting of points, I would be unable to explain which of the points were responsible.

Was it the day I spotted fatigue at the corner of your mouth when I screamed at you? Or was it your niceness, the need to keep everyone around you happy that made me want to smirk out loud.

Was it our claustrophobia with orange painted walls and love reeking laundry or a deep rooted primitive need to confirm to all that was standard…all that was in a template?

A chasm grew between us….deep, wide and fearful. At first we both ignored it, and stuck to the simple things. Later we acknowledged it to ourselves yet avoided any discussion with each other.

We were so scared to lose us that we made it our impaired child.

We are like strangers living under the same roof. I know you are getting dressed in the bed room getting irritated that I am being lazy around the house and you will be late again.

I am not going to work today. And since you would come to switch off the computer irritated at my carelessness…. I would want you to read this and understand that I don’t intend to do anything normal or routine till I get us back.

I want to make a new start. Will you give it another chance?

PS- The orange paint in the living room is coming off. We need another coat.

Thanks in advance.

US