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Ebb

 

My father sleeps at the edge of the bed adjacent to a chair. Upon that chair, there sits a man with a dark horse-shoe jawline. His collars have little lilies, scattered across the cloth in some harmony. Whenever I visit the room to take out one cold water-bottle from the fridge—cool water is the lady of the night—I see this man with his inhuman straight back, staring right at me. I freeze for a second and then look at his unblinking eyes in the shimmering yellow light of the fridge. You may ask, what is new here? If you were to sleep next to an old shoddy window; sure you’ll see the nearby tree growing out a hand in the beating wind, too.

The difference between you and me, however, is that you get under the covers and say oh, but it is the mere wind, oh, it is the mere rain. I on the other hand, invite the monsters in. I move the refrigerator door just enough to let that tall man’s eye glint in the dark as he sit like he’s been sitting there from the beginning of time. There is an art in conjuring monsters from the nothing. After all the man in my father’s chair is nothing but my dead grandmother’s handbag—not there for sentimental purposes but mostly because things move around in my house with certain amnesia. And in the society we live in, I have become interested in things.

Either people eat them up or some nook drag them down where house-objects retire and dream till their owners are left to do the same in the graves until after all, someone new develops a fancy to these ghosts. Or worst, being munched into paper mache is one way to go. If your things are you, then you better hope you’re not getting picked up for that.

I do that sometimes. I imagine the life of objects fast forward to hundred years. What if there are more survivors than just cockroaches. All these inanimate things that have a sacred river in which they all flow, sometimes caressing each other or other times, singing campfire songs with joined hands. A blue handkerchief wiping off the sweat off a red wallet. Their masters despised each other when they were alive, but here we are.

Rivers into a sea.

A plethora of dead people’s objects. Enough to keep me awake in the dark.

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Walk the talk

July 2, 2016

Dear reader,

I do not mean to be anachronistic in this stylistic nostalgia of ‘dear reader’, but that is how I feel today. It just might be a conversation with one of my scattered selves that I’ve decided to share with you. Yet dear passer-by, I have now defined you. If you will choose to stay here like myself, I will sit by your knee and tell you all my, most ordinary stories. Of Thoureu’s art of sauntering. Where poetry falls into prose and where people who say, ‘oh, you are trying to write prose today?’ are stared at with silly-unkind mischievous eyes. Arts are nothing if not play, as I propose that this letter shall dive down from heaven to be stirred in your often-impatient mind like sugar in warm milk. Like touching several textures at once.

I have a lot of qualms and illogical desires flooding past me like sneaking foxes. But when I write, they sit by you and me and we pet these wild prodigies like dogs. Such is the summary of the whole mind.

The other day I was walking and I saw that the sky was favorably dressed in clouds as if a giant man with a swollen belly, smoking out beautiful cotton-candy smoke. I walked and if you live where I live, you’ll feel injured by the weight of  faded-jeans blue sky too. But not that fine Friday sundown, I didn’t.

The whole day I had my desires fleeting about. I almost felt that I had left my door open in the noon and that the perverse sun had come uninvited, to sit close upon my heart like some nightmarish incubus. But that can be mortally-worded as dehydration. And I decided to sing aimlessly, as if to let out all the water that I’ve swallowed in this reverse-drowning. It helped. The silence afterwards was of a mystical séance. A bad-throated séance-leader was my old fan. The silence where you could hear the gurgling stream of your own mind. That which is only audible around wishful walking and in-depth dreaming. Dreams where someone is throwing handful of cool mud at you, burying you and preventing you from waking up, especially after you’ve slept more than nine hours of your share. I wonder if that is what death feels like?

When the heat came back again in my heart, I switched on the T.V. and wondered why this even need to be put in a future letter or why can’t I forget about this ordinary twitch and nervousness like most people all around. But I couldn’t, thus the T.V.

Anthony Hopkins came on in Surviving Picasso and took the centre stage of my life. Like most divine interventions, I didn’t enjoy it much, or so I thought

When I stepped outside my house to run an errand. I plugged on my earphones like you take antacids to digest complex food that your stomach may feel clumsy with. Funny, I thought. Only yesterday I had to submit a poem on the theme ‘colour’ and the amount of fight I put up with simple themes, is amazing. If you will tell me to write about the flower-pattern lining inside your professor’s shoulder bag that I’ve never even seen, I’ll invite it for a dinner. Yet I found the muse when I had already fulfilled the prompt. An androgynous muse, who changed its gender every time I took a playful step. I was blinded with all the colours, even though my first thought was, maybe Picasso is not my type. The sky was like a mustard colored duck swimming in her own feathers. The road smelled good. The leaves…the trees that had looked rather miserable as if down with a viral fever yesterday, now looked as if they were dressed for an evening ball where all taboo-sparkles and confetti are allowed. I walked so tall that my shoulders ached with the strong grin they made in my silhouette. A stranger came by and noticed my air, asked me my ‘good name’, I flew away like a skittish bird, still entranced. The joy of being lost in every fiber of the world. It sat in my heart and the road I walked, I engraved in me. That night I dreamt of most beautiful colours in the most playful way. I realized, in me lived something that liked and hated things on its own accord. Something so natural and independent of a conscious me, it would corrupt the moment I’ll write it.

Liberated in a small ladder-house, I write till my blood colours my veins red and I blush with happiness.

Such was my walk. And I hope, such will be this awfully ordinary letter to you. To breathe in false glories is something we do every day.

Love,

Writer

 

Down the memory lane

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What I most like about life is, glum yellow bulbs which seem to stay still in the nights of turbulent traffic-jam noises and pub brawls. These are the wavelengths of silences which divert my line of thoughts from a nostalgic topic of red scarves to a luminous frothy texture left by yellow bulbs on papery walls.

Because honestly, I want to write about red scarves. Not too beautiful…but rather corroded by friction, yet wrapped around my bubble head like a lady’s costume…beautiful red scarves. That was when I was in fifth standard and had been pushed by a classmate, for whom I had made best friend proposal cards in the third grade. She had thrown them in dustbin without the naivety of a 7 year old girl. And now she had pushed me off the stairs, not deliberately as much as my mind tries to picture it.

I was cooking some rotis when the smell of hot napkins (they help you shape the bread) filled me and suddenly I was walking down in the crowd of amazed children, hiding my face with one red scarf, just after my classmate had pushed me off.

It was an enthralling time. I am not really talking to you. I am right there on the stairs. I remember the cemented side-support so smooth against the crowd of children who surrounded me with a fuzzy feeling of summer-special lemonades. I shed my body and I am a high-spirited soul of a small person who is pushed down the stairs. Like scientists of a bees, I’m swarmed with questions and speculations . You see I had developed this huge bump on my head (like in cartoons) and half of the small people thought it was a pimple that’ll explode with all the grossness you can imagine. Without a doubt, that is not a good advice to give to anyone suffering from concussion and so I started bawling my eyes out.

Such precious little people, even though strangers. How can children nurse children? Most important case studies ever. But then what about the adults? I was safely transported to my home where I found out that my mother had no clue about the swelling either. She never had a hateful classmate as it goes. And so she administered my bump by heating it off through the napkins and putting them on my head.

Next day I was a school hero; if you may allow me to glorify my memory. A seven year old girl with a red eye, the mighty one with little children myths as a halo around her head. The centre of everyone. Is it sad? I miss the love.

The charming bulb calls to me like a moth. After-life is a beautiful idea. 

Introspection Today: Part 1

29-4-2016

When I look at people in a very general fashion, I cannot distrust them. It is like I have begun to run through their veins, I speak out their words and I erupt from their lips, a joyful moan. I remember reading about a girl who absolutely hated second generation middle-aged people’s butts because them, she peculiarly points out, had the potential of squeezing into every creak and corner of a jam-packed metro. I could only respond, ‘man I have no sense of private space’.

We do not, more or less think philosophically about disgust or love which we tend to feel around crowded places. But I say, the whole experience engrosses me the most. Just as I’ve loved certain smiles and conversations, on the other hand, I’ve also wished a lot of people, per say, chewing or giggling in a certain manner around me to instantly drop dead. But that is the peculiarity of society, it recognizes insanity only if it sustains through time. A little murderous or incestuous thought, here and there and I’ll tell you Freud must have had a hard time in studying the psyche and how to classify it as extraordinary. For Lewis Carroll is right, it has always been dark and as it amounts to it, ‘we all are mad here’.

If you are disgusted by my opinions, I am certain that you’re unaware of your unconscious mind. Mine used to play tricks on me all the time, until recently when I decided to give it a head on, we are on peace for now. Unconscious mind must look like your mysterious orient, against your reasonable structured mind (Edward Said will appreciate the joke) but that does not mean you must lock it away and keep it in bounds (as far as you can help it, I mean I get it that it is called unconscious for some reason). The effect is to make peace with it or simply, just let it breathe. Most people cringe at dark thoughts that ought to be associated with unconscious mind, yet it is children, Freud associates with Id…yes, our very own angels (Id derives of unconscious parts of our psyche). No wonder, my parents still don’t take me seriously.

But I must not confuse you with the binary of reasonable and unreasonable or perhaps, dark and light. It is a dangerous trap that society creates. But how can I blame you, I came out of this entanglement, very recently. I was thinking about my position in the society and found myself in the middle at almost all levels. I belong to middle class, I remain neither happy nor too sad and lastly, I am neither too masculine nor too feminine. Other trivial things I have excused. In conclusion, I realized (which is a very simple idea actually but yet simple ideas are the one which remain out of reach) that everybody ought to be at middle more or less depending upon the things they are competing with. A beggar can be richer than a person in utter debt and yet he can be poorer than his friends who perhaps, earn more than him. So ratios and numbers and other blahs that people like me try not to get entangled in, is what I finally concluded–decides the middle. You can be in middle anywhere.

But then, I asked my friend (in the worst possible articulation) as to what does she think about this whole affair?

‘Yeah but binaries are social construct’

Sure I went into a trance. It is not like I didn’t know what she was saying but she absolutely did startle my inner world. The world was new again. And I was once again, unsure of the principles I live by.

Actually, her and my thought spectrum were not as far as she had thought. For truly, I too had concluded that beggar is neither rich nor poor. And thus relativity occurs due to certain constructions in the society that must force me to see in a certain manner.

Well, I’m sorry if your head hurts. Mine hurts too but I am used to such introspections.

Unconscious minds sure are dark and mysterious places simply because they are out of reach in comparison to the conscious mind, nonetheless they are a construct and not somatic in nature, therefore, it is important for us to not categorize them as unnecessary and unreasonable.

Dreams seem unreasonable precisely because they do not work on the system of boundaries or binaries. Freud notes on Id:

‘…contrary impulses exist side by side, without cancelling each other out…there is nothing in the id that could be compared with negation…nothing in the id which corresponds to the idea of time’

For a long time, I used to wake up in dreams only to observe that the person moving with certain awareness of the metaphysicality of a dream is someone who characterize herself as me, is not actually me. I know—weird? Exactly. This person was a personification of Id that did such deeds in my dreams that my conscious mind ran away with its tail between its legs. But I am certainly not joking, I could not (with complete decisiveness) associate with that person in my dream yet I also cannot deny that the person of the dream was indeed me.

However, I did try to conciliate with this dream phantom of Id. I made a point to accept it and I kid you not, it very well worked. Now whenever, I have such dreams, I no longer feel the division. I feel completely united within my desires and reason.

As I positively look back at the history of puritanism and of all the matter that must decide my heaven-hell outgoing, I go onto give out a heartiest chuckle.

Her body without an armour

                        Kali and her cosmic egg

Body without armour is an armour itself.

I have been thinking about it from a long time. Across time and space, in different languages of various literatures, folklore and legends—when a female sheds her armour, the society takes a bow. You might assume, I’ve been writing it all inspired by the Game of thrones episode. You’re right. Emilia Clarke did a great job in being a naked burning, Khaleesi. But Kannagi from Tamil Literature and Kali from Hindu folklore are already her predecessors.

It is also interesting to note that this naked woman, when she is accepted by the society, instantly transforms into a mother figure. The male gaze ceases. It cannot objectify its own mother. It cannot sexualize it. And yet, it is her sexuality that rages when she stands naked as if ‘She eats up men like thin air’ (Plath). Her body naked, hair open, her eyes wide open, and her legs strong. But why must she become so powerful?

I have had the privilege to study a lot of feminist literature this last semester. I wouldn’t say it doesn’t come back to me now. I can make several connections and perhaps draw conclusions from these examples as to understand why female nudity, a taboo and perversion of patriarchal society, can suddenly become a power symbol. I will dissect the very heterosexual intercourse, if I have to, for understanding this.

When a women sheds, she is horrible to some, goddess for others. She is usually angry when she steps out like that and are later tried to be contained by narratives within the patriarchal discourse, in order to make sense of the event. In Mahasweta Devi’s Draupadi, Dopdi—a negated word for ‘Draupadi’, the wife of Pandavas from the Hindu epic Mahabharata—belongs to a lower caste and becomes associated with insurgency in North eastern India. However, she is caught by the Indian military and is in the process, repetitively raped by several men. In the morning, she is told to dress up and show up at the Chief’s tent. In a brave decision, she chooses to walk naked, ‘her blood matted upon her pubic hair’, becoming an unspeakable terror for the men around her. Laughing and slapping her thighs, she asks, ‘are you a man?’ for they could only unclothe her but not the other way around. Kali was Sati before she was Kali. For her husband, she mutilates her father’s party—if you like your mythology in simple happy terms—and literally danced the dance of death (Tandav) until her husband stopped her from destroying the whole wide earth because in Tandav, with each step, you bring forth apocalypse in the world. If you ignore bringing back the Kali into the patriarchal narrative, you’ll see, that her power is the most terrible of all the naked ladies. Her armour (if not clothes) is the collective set of mutilated body parts. Severed hands become her skirt and chopped off heads as her necklace. Yet we exclaim in awe, she is terribly beautiful. Her dance, her tongue, her hair black as the ravenous cloudy night, are also markers of sexuality that does not design itself upon the platform of male desire.

Kannagi comes from ancient Tamil literature and folklore. Like Kali, she is a goddess too, although she was born a human. As a human, Kannagi had a good share of injustice being done to her. Her husband cheats on her and has a kid with another women. Yet she has to leave with him, hoping for his loyalty when he finally decides to switch back to her. But most importantly when things finally start looking up, her husband gets executed on a false conspiracy. Bam—women have limits you know? So she rips off her breast and fire burns the city. Kings die, the empire collapses.

Danny from Game of Thrones, had two naked-power-lady scenes. The first is birth of dragons and the second is burning of several Dothraki men when they threatened to rape her or simply, decide upon her life. Immune to fire, she burns them down and emerges naked, the figure of awe. Her narrative as well is confirmed to the figure of mother.

To move away from mythology, Mario Vargos llosa’s Who killed Palomino Molero, the restaurant keeper’s wife challenges a harassing police officer into ‘raping’ her by undressing and making lewd gestures at him at the end of the novel, in an epic break from submissive-timid persona.

All these women place themselves outside normal structure when they do so. You might as well call them Unconscious personified. I’m not referring to Freud’s sharp division of rational and non-rational, rather, I would like you to read it as categorical (Super-ego) and non-categorical (Unconscious). When she steps out of society’s categories, she can manifest her sexuality beyond male gaze. Now as to why must men be afraid of it? The answer lies in heterosexual intercourse.

Heterosexual intercourse in a patriarchal society is phallocentric. ‘Penetration’, ‘Key’ ‘Digging’, such is the imagery implied in this line under which women are bound to be the object. However, this is inversed when she steps out of this structure. She is a horror show, a freak. Yet people bow to her in fear. This is because of her capability to invert society’s patriarchal taboos (Luce Irigaray actually argues that women do not have a properly developed Superegos in comparison to men who go through castration complexes) and instead of ‘penetrating space’, she becomes the ‘devourer’. Not to put it too poetically, but she is able to suck back men right from the space from where she put them out. Should it then, not turn men into infants, reminded by the astounding power of womb?

Ace.

 

Silhouette of a city

 

Photo credits: thetravelphotographer.blogspot.com

 

[Personification of Delhi, capital of India.]

 

Old woman.

A mad old woman.

 And I am afraid, she is entirely bonkers.

She, who narrates her tales to a deaf sky which is already overcast with her own suffocating aspirations…

 

At every corner of the rugged roads, there is a mirror where you see her entrapped and then you forget her.

For she rises from the mud, trampled under the polished cars and then very carefully wiped at pavements or dried off from some fancy doormat reading Swagatam ; for you shall disown from your sole, least your soul.

You dream of a Utopian picture and she staggers in her imperfect ways. Yet you were always her children, a Delhi, complete in yourself. For you reflect her mood swings,sometimes, bringing to her that thirst for courage, but mostly a visible form of suppressed rage. A rage that breathes for certain lost lives, however, losing itself amidst the chaos of an endless race. The same rage that had once stirred her during the advent of‘mutiny of 1857’ where her children fought but Alas with a punctured unity; And for unity, unfortunately, nothing has changed today. They come up on roads believing that it is just a serious game for when you bring protest rallies for your women’s rape; the assaulter gives you a laugh and hides within.

Anyways, our old woman has a past of frills and flattery. But it has somehow deranged her immune system so much that it brings her a lot of trouble in the plane of nostalgia. For I tell you, her tales does harass the mind of her children, who sheepishly sits by the rocking chair smoking rich cigars, whispering, “Oh the good old days”.

Like a mantra of holy Gita, she keeps on reciting just one thing in loops. Past is treasure and today is a tragedy. Always daydreaming and remembering her times of aristocracy, her visions from tallest minarets, her luxury in the arms of elites, her lavishing times beside the magnificent thrones of the Turkish emperors and that moment of peeking away shyly from the contours of Asoka pillar, now marveling the blooming gardens of Mughals but right now like any other women of her age, she is so pissed off, complaining, “Oh you are changed”.

She is that typical old Indian woman, who is central to her family but of course for the namesake. Not that the other members are very happy but at least they are spared from all the “capital” baggage. The same ‘capital’ that is personified as horrendous form of devils by the Hindu Times and Indian expressess.Her black and tattered veils called Yamuna, narrating ugly stories of all the carcasses which are dumped in the sooty nights, narrating how the girls are nabbed and forgotten in the crowd, trafficked, sold, used, murdered and then dumped.

Those promises which narrates the sobs of homeless children and dogs, alike.

 

And I say let her murmur in the corners, like that mentally ill women whom you call witch. The one, who shall step out of violent marriage only to become your daily gossip and like the very same one who sleeps at footpath even on cold nights hoping that her son would at last wake up out of the construction holes.

Let her murmur, in the name of the ones who are fighting with identities…every single day.

 

 

 

The Gods of the streets [Short story]

 

If you look through it carefully, it is just distance. And all about distance. It is not limited to kilometers or millimeters. It is not limited to the years it would take you to reach the moon. But It is more important when you know how to conquer that distance. What it would take you to reach, there.

There. Towards the person you think you would belong

There. Towards your dreams.

There. Towards Home.

It is absolutely ridiculous to run down, two miles just to see a glimpse of a burning pile of hay, blazing back into a couple of curious eyes. The eyes, which became the sunset; the hay which became the hot Indian summer afternoon.  And again it still feels absolutely ridiculous to glorify, what meager we saw. What meager, we remained.

I was a teacher with a class full of pupils of my age. A captain with a ship full of stewards who treated me as a laughter stock whenever I, in my utmost spirits, commanded them in some fancy gibberish. However, what was most important than all of us was our ship– forever anchored. It wasn’t a playhouse, it wasn’t even a house.  A wasted municipality park, yes you can say.

They were the sons of washerman (Dhobi), three to be precise; where as I belonged to a middle-class family which could not afford a washing machine and thereby sent all the clothes to this very dhobi spot or adda, a minor hut adjoined to the park. Anyways, I was way too dumb to care about all of these differences. When I first became friends with Ballu, the eldest of the Dhobi gang, I merely told him that his head would grow funny if he kept carrying such heavy piles of clothes upon it. To my surprise, It wasn’t amusing to him at all and being a seven year old without any scruples, although it never made me guilty, it did annoyed me.  But that was that, I learned to never comment such things from then on until a time which left me where I am today, with a fist full of distances…

One Thursday evening when I went out to gaze at birds in the municipality park while my other friends tried to convince me about playing with their defected kitchen sets, I saw Ballu’s brothers imitating his genius of creating a sanctuary out of dry leaves and worshipping little berry like looking lady bugs. I was caught in that very moment. I thought the rectangle in which he kept the bugs was better than the one in my maths book. The dried leaves had a crispy feel to them. I never touched them nor I smelled them but I could feel them in my throat. It was a strange sensation. I didn’t know how to feel that again if I wished to? And that is why I committed myself that day to be friends with him, just to retain the feeling of autumn leaves in my throat which, however, is no longer of capable of taking a refuge in me.

He was a genius. And in my stupidities, a sort of an asset with which I could cause a wave of anxiety amongst my girl friends. A child who did not only knew how to play with toys but also knew how to create them. His brothers would imitate him, but they could never be him for three of them were never the same. As I look back now, I see gods in them. Hindu gods. Passion would be: Ballu aka Bamun; Innocence was never better seen in: Samar; Aggression was in his every fiber: Shiva, his very name derived from the almighty Hindu god, the destroyer and the reaper.

 

“I swear to god, I would etch out every single hair from your filthy little scalp and then only you would realize how much it costs to mess with me!”

I really impressed a lot of people by imitating the hero of the movie I watched; Shiva was almost clapping, my friend Nina was, as she later told me, “horrified” and Ballu, Ballu was left open-mouthed! Oh how I wish, my parents to leave this one alone so that it could have continued to be one of my proudest memories.

Anyhow, I was thirteen, becoming a bucket full of weird and confused feelings and if these feelings managed to turn me into anything-I became a rogue. A rebel.

“Sree, God knows, what are you turning into. Stop playing with those scoundrels” My mother must have pricked my ears, a thousand times, but that day, she said I had done something more horrible.

I had nearly killed someone.

One Sunday afternoon and my play day. Everything was normal and calm until our new neighbor, Rahul came to play the spoilsport. He was everything I despised,  liar, pretentious and most importantly, one pompous idiot. And we were made to forcibly accept him just because he was too majestic to beg for our friendship and was thus thrust upon us by his equally pompous mother! That day, we decided to play our engineered version of bowling game in which one team had to create an obstruction with sticks and stones and the other one had to break it with their bicycles. Undoubtedly Ballu invented this and I chose his side which he never really acknowledged and it somehow, ended up making me really angry.

As a result, I started taking this game too far. I  found a boulder of an obstruction and had I been not stopped I would have made it into a skyscraper. Nonetheless, I found a fierce competitor. Given his attitude of relying on his mother, we thought he might not be the best in his parts and that is why, allotted Shiva by his side, the master of destruction as per his name.

But Rahul was way too misunderstood by ourselves. Every time.

I saw him gradually racing towards our obstruction-structure and almost felt the hilarity of the situation in which he would fall and would cry like a baby. But I was wrong as usual.

It all happened so fast. His bicycle smashed upon the structure like some chemical blast and in his victory, he ran over the vehicle on Ballu’s face. But what came next made me lost it all, perhaps the last night’s argument with father, feeling invisible in front of Ballu and now this rascal, smirking at me while he hit Ballu, as if he was aware, I loved him; as if he was aware, I would do anything to avenge him.

I launched upon him, my imagination of myself being a Kung-fu knowing ninja. I swear I believed, I could punch holes in the walls. Everybody was applauding me in the background as Rahul’s face flushed with terror and then with a malicious glint of anger which I knew, created psychopaths, he smiled at me again! When I went out for a kill then,  I tried to kill this very glint of his face, somehow suffocating him red as he coughed and spitted back on my face.

My kung-fu imagination was short lived however, I was easily lifted in the air by my father who had heard all this Hulla-balloo from our balcony and had come down in order to save his nose. In that moment, I expected Rahul to pretend and cry but he did something more evil…more devilish. He said something to my father which drained all the vengeance from my body and left me weak. It made me lose my power over him.

“Uncle, your daughter was going to elope with this dhobi.”

I never saw such freckles on my father’s forehead before. I wished Rahul’s mother, Mrs Raini should have been there too so that I could have blurted out something similarly ridiculous. I fantasized tortures for Rahul, that night. But what seed had been sown in my father’s conscience was inevitable to extract. I was no longer allowed to meet Ballu and his brothers. Was slapped if I tried to retort back in my classic rogue attitude. Wasn’t even allowed to visit the park anymore. The only relief to me was watching them play in the park, which was thankfully visible from our balcony.

Rahul however came back with his pretentiousness, which I expected from him, the day I met him. He apologized and tried to be my friend which I accepted, partly because I had no friends after leaving Ballu, Shiva and Samar and mostly because I wanted to make Ballu jealous.

I would then, take Rahul to our balcony and he would laugh wickedly at my traditional role of teaching and captainship. Rahul, unlike Ballu became “Sindbadh” the lousy sailor and continued with his pompousness from which I grew unbearably frustrated and thereby, managed to do away with him in most polite gestures and signs.

I wasn’t melancholic however, I had outgrown a lot of things as I reached the age of sixteen. Rahul , fortunately, found other friends to irritate and show-off his gadgets. Ballu or I should say Bamun, was least of anyone that I saw. But somedays, my mother would become kind enough and she would let me meet Shiva and Samar, given that I shared a childhood with them. But to they all have changed, so tremendously that it was like some sorcery to my imagination. Their sculptures dripped with toil. They were much taller and much serious than before. Our ship was then, naturally abandoned with any kind of projects of inventions. More wilderness replaced our playing spots of Municipality park. Ballu had left his A B C s, long time ago and I couldn’t help but wondering how, he would never understand the world the way I do, even though once we thought our perceptions were the most alike in the whole world. We always thought we would grow up merrily and then the four of us will decide to  visit some place where grown-ups can afford to go, somewhere like a beach or maybe foreign. How ridiculous, it seems now.

Shiva had grown in resentment. He was becoming an aggressive man by every passing day, mirror to his father– a merciless man, who would beat anyone up, stubborn enough to stand in his way. The idea of imagining playing with him the game of stick and stones-bowling now, utterly terrified me. But we were friends and if not to anyone, he would smile at me, I think in respect. An attitude that became the highest sought decree in my conscience.

I could not love things, the way I used to do in my childhood passionate tempers. But my lexicon did contained lyrical beauty for ‘adoring’ things. I adored the overgrown plants in the municipality park, the little stars which I never acknowledged over the moon. And I adored the flickering street lights that turned overgrown plants into a blurred imagination of golden waterfall.

It was my favorite part of routine and refreshment from studies as I would stand like a Juliet to the gentle clouds, up on my terrace, lost to the gods of some other world.

 

“Sree, I need to talk to you. Sree? ” He pulled at my shoulders and I realized the  pronunciation of my name wasn’t hallucination.

“Samar! Yar, you scared me…What is the matter? It is late, I am sure my parents wouldn’t like us talking.”

“I am sorry Sree, I didn’t wanted to annoy you. Sorry” He had these enormous insecurities in his eyes. I wonder if  I could fix them. But the society has made us this way, I guess. All I see is walls.

“Go on Samar. Tell me, is Rahul troubling you again?”

“No. I am just. Look I don’t how to explain this to you…But”

“Go on Samar…” I was growing irritated.

“Shiva and Ballu are fighting over you and our father beats me because I don’t tell him what is going on.” He blurted out and for a moment we stood still studying the designs of the floor, lost in our own worlds of refuge from awkwardness.

“I don’t think so it is the case” I finally said with a sigh “but if it is, tell them ‘love’ is a Bollywood word from which I abstain to have any relation, nor would I have ever have any relation with. Not until my parents would agree.”  I actually surprised myself by this statement. I remember how I tossed in bed whole night thinking about the initiation of an inevitable psychological process…was I becoming my father?

Samar left me restless with a nod. My mind played the devil that evening . I kept wondering about things. A lot of boggling things. Was this a conspiracy to force a naive brother into tricking me into something? And what of Ballu…Bamun? Why would Bamun love me now? I could understand and pick up Shiva’s signals, but what about him? Why now? It took me two days, to finally let this drop from my mind and I had eventually started to forget about all of this until the Shaitan himself, the pompous ass, dropped by my door, three days later.

“Why Sree, I think, you should given him a chance. Now I know you can, that’s why I am asking for him.” I knew what this evil bastard was getting at.

“None of your business” I smiled sarcastically.

“I am friends with Shiva and I am friends with you. If you are worried about his..umm…Dhobi job, he said he would try and find a better job for you. Just you. Now where would you get such a caring husband these days?” He winked.

I just can’t believe he said that and added his ‘last-nail-in-the-coffin’ expression. In that moment, I regretted not killing him the first day I met him.

“That’s it. You may leave”

“Now don’t cry—”

“Leave!” I roared and he went away shrugging while I humbly prayed that nobody eavesdropped at our conversation. It was so hard to process on what he said and whatever he implied. Husband? I am sixteen and Shiva has to be insanely diseased enough to say and even think such a thing about me. Had it been Samar, who would have said that, I would have laughed my eyes out. But now it only fills me with hatred. What an utter blasphemy! One brother can’t even look me in the eyes while the other propose to marry me! Oh the ridiculousness of it all!

The days passed painfully then. My love to gods in the sky has been disrupted by  the gods downstairs. I was in disbelief though, was I fought for like a possession? It fails me how our childhood, though spent together, has created such different personalities. Nonetheless, I returned to my admiration of the clouds, only to be disturbed  once again. With every blood and bone, this time.

“What is that lies beyond?

A home at the bank of damp tunnels

Or the sky dripping with orange lights

Hovering over the scriptures to be chanted twice.

 

I am streetlight with a flickering soul

Imagining if I could go beyond

Open into the sky where the twinkling stars

become giants of abode.”

 

“Sree…” I knew who it was.

“You should not have come here.” I said turning at him and then looking back towards the silent street.

“If you are embarrassed that I heard your…your poem and your singing… Have you forgotten, I am but an illiterate man? I never understand what you mean. ”

“You say it as if it you are illiterate to emotions. But you said that right, you never understood and you will never understand.”

“I do not understand your wordplay, anyway. I just came here to tell you that Shiva won’t harm you now. I know he has caused you a lot of trouble but that is just because of Rahul’s devilry. I don’t know why he serves him like a tail. But one thing which I know about my brother is that he doesn’t act like this. Never.”

“Neither do you. Why have you come to talk to me now? I don’t care about your help.”

“Why are you so rude to me?” He pulled at my arm and made me look him into the eyes.

He suddenly let go “Why? Are you crying? You never…when we… you never cry! Did Shiva harm you? Tell me!” He appeared to be angry.

“Shiva! Shiva! All you got is Shiva? Huh? What about you? Samar did say that you were rooting for me! That you were fighting for ME.”

“What! He said that? You just wait… I am going to kill him for this! I never loved you, trust me! He must have been joking!”

I broke out into something which was some sort of hybrid for both laughter and crying. I was in fits of madness and in such a fit, I blurted out something that I do not regret.

“Of course, it was one-sided. You never loved me and I…I always loved you.”

“Are you out of your mind! Do you know what you are even talking about? What madness is this? huh? You’ll marry  the boy to whom your mother sends for washing your clothes? I am just filth washed off you. You must be really mad to imagine anything more than that!”

It felt so comical to me. His mouth was moving but I couldn’t hear a word. I was lost in his eyes reflecting back the moon. His auburn hair shining gently.  It was in this moment that I realized, although I turned to stars long ago, the moon was never lost to me. Call it the lover’s loon or general insanity, but he said he didn’t loved me because he was afraid what others would think and not because he didn’t loved me. I became God too then. The God of ecstasy.

He was speaking so vividly. His explanations as complex as Plato, logic–just gorgeous. He was engineering words which he never studied. And he was speaking for me and my life. Not a single mention or protection for himself. What is this if not love? I don’t know any other definition. O god bless this memory, I lived every man’s dream of becoming a child again. I looked at him the same way I used too. I became the little Sree again, at least for that once. I could happily beat thousands of Rahuls for him. I could elope with a washerman. If only I could. If only I had the chance.

But, one thing, I really caught him off his guard, I held his nervous shoulders to a steady place in this universe. I kissed him on his lips and he stopped shaking in that moment. He didn’t refused me or pushed me away. And for once, we accepted each other completely, forgetting the rebukes that my mother gave to him or the fact that his mother accused me of seducing her sons. We forgot that while he toil all day, I sit and write about the worlds we could be together in. We forgot tha  even though, our parents and our society would probably kill us for this taboo and perhaps, they would tag us as washerman and his fish, I would gladly accept all of this if only, in the end we would be made assured with our survival with each other.

Our perceptions became one again. He never told me but I see the moon as he do. He was always capable of showing things and now, if I could become his words, wouldn’t we become poetry? But of course what would you understand of that? The realizations are always harsh indeed, for now I am incapable of loving anyone as much as I loved him and always will.

I stood back and looked at his face! O I have never seen him blushing! I swear to god I can die for living that moment again. I laughed until he awkwardly hugged me and left. He never smiled, but he hugged me. And that was all to break the blood and bone in me and then to finally expose them to the love radiation. Everyone did asked me about the glow on my face, though. What do you did to your cheeks? Why do you look so rosy? And what did I tell them? Well I just giggled and giggled.

Amidst all this I did recall plodding over the future and its perfectness and then laughed at myself for being so ironic. The best thing, however was, the irony was mutual.

The month of August was a bliss. I would find him somewhere down the streets and make faces at him while he talked and delivered clothes to the residents of the building. I would break into a suppressed laughter as he desperately tried to hide his smile and when asked about the reason of his happiness, just made some silly excuse which caused so much pain in my stomach from laughing. When it rained, I didn’t believed my courage to sneak out of the house in order to walk with an umbrella over his head while he told me about his new theories and inventions. He wasn’t rich of words but I had never met anyone with such riches of imagination. I sometimes wondered if I would ever be envious from his gorgeous good imagination? Possibly not. You cannot love someone and be envious at the same time.

I wish Shiva understood that. But we knew how Rahul entertains himself by enslaving people. He could make a legion out of a white dove, where Shiva was supposedly, the destructor of worlds. Our world, to be precise. He was a war machine who burned with unrequited love and vengeance.

One day, Barum and I were walking past the Eastman market, a place which my parents avoid because of the crowd. We were having a sort of intellectual conversation on various types of mirror and somehow, their paranormal meanings . He told me that his grandfather believed of a world inside a mirror and theatrically knocked at it, when this Shiva launched upon his back. I was terrified by the scene and was immediately ordered by Barum to run away, which I did. And never had curiosity ever haunted me ever like it did that day. I was terrified at the prospect of a fight, penitent in leaving Barum alone and at the same time confident to hit Shiva at the same time. I somehow knew they would come back to my terrace, so I went back and sat their patiently with a big iron bar in case Shiva goes off his line and Barum or Samar become incapable in taming him.

They came. Three of them. Samar being the mediator between them both.

There was blood at the tip of Barum’s lips. And this was enough for my terrified part to be invaded by the angry part but before I could do anything, I saw a warning written all over Barum’s face, I was surprised, he knew I could attack his brother right now, even though I was concealing all anger. He could just read me like an open book. It was strange.

Anyways, I offered three of them seats as I pulled some cube like red stools for them.

Shiva spoke first, making me feel as if we were soldiers negotiating a war.

“You made me a promise to leave her alone, so that you can make babies with her?”

“You…” I would have broken down into poetry of abuses, had it not been Samar to stop me.

“Please Shiva. Leave her out of it.” Samar sighed.

“Why, so that you two could have joys over her, while you deprive me of having them all along”

“I swear to god. I swear to lord Shiva, I’ll kill you! You don’t deserve any girl, let alone me. You’ll rot in hell for this. Do you understand?” I said it with clenched teeth and thankfully for my anger, I got no returns.

“Shiva, I know I am sorry. I shouldn’t love… I didn’t even want to…but I love her, I really do. I know you would say you love her too, but listen to yourself, a lover does not speak like that. Tell me, Is it love then?”

“What are you haaaan? A professor of love? Masterji let me kiss your feet. Teach me how to win sluts!”

After that what happened, even Samar couldn’t stop it. Barum lost any percentage of calm that existed in his body. This is how, I felt, he shows respect for the people he love not just because he loves them but also for the sake of a universal justice, which he was, a God of.                                                            When I saw him giving a slap to Shiva, I didn’t saw a man fighting for his woman, I saw a man fighting for the respect of all the women who become objects of lust and lost their identities.

It is a sort of blur, though. Even after five years of my life after him, I cannot really describe what ended him. A blow by iron bar. Samar and I screaming and losing all summers of innocence which were left in us. Him falling back on his legs towards his inevitable fall towards the ground. My madness to stand at the edge of the roofs. My passion to perceive what he would have perceived. A blow which could not even gift me his last words. His betrayal of falling into abyss before me. I, hitting Shiva who stood in horror and did not fight back. I failing to murder Shiva or Rahul. I dreaming idiotically that even though he was falling off a 5th storey building, he would survive, somehow.  Somehow, he would, so that I could hear him again, see him again. About his inventions, his sanctuaries, love, our ship.

Tell me then dear reader how shall I conquer this distance? It is a strange thing isn’t it? The distance. Created within seconds. My mother’s hand so distant now to reach my ears. My father can’t bend enough to reach me, to carry me, anymore. My friends with all their kitchen-sets at a distance which I would never understand.

Him. And what of him? Well, He was just sitting right next to me and their he is falling…falling into a distance where I can never reach, not even when I decide to walk by the whole earth. It only ends his way. To await, a monsoon where I would fall away myself. Till then, carrying an eternal sooty face to be accused and branded as a women who came between brothers. To walk without a sympathy from vulture-like eyes accusing me, not to love , the way society has designed it. Why then? There should be a constitution for love too. Why not put me in a prison to love someone for their heart and mind and not for their riches? Make me into an island trapped by distances?

Nonetheless, my eyes are faltering now and I think I am falling. I am falling towards my supreme god. I am falling their.

 

Their. Towards the person I belong with.

Their. Towards my dreams.

Their. Towards Home.

 

“People leave strange little memories of themselves behind when they die.”

— Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

 

*****************************************

           FINIS

 

 

Muse of the strange beings

*This poem was written under the prompt: My Quiet place. My Quiet place of muse is however, not very quiet.

I have certain qualms that surround me,
But the sea-green tides today
are not divulging
but low.

I have passions for tumultuous storms
That goes unrequited in the summer’s bowers
But they seem to be bathing under the symmetrical roofs
The flashes of one distant star, gliding past their morrows
And yet here I am strange
for finding a heart in the dilemmas of the off-seasons,
that left me behind a traveler, precipitated
who seek towards some
ever-present tornadoes.

I have my name upon a tree
And it gave me no solace at all
Because I can only dance for the rains
And by paying my subtle abode, above
a call.

 

© Priyanka, All rights reserved.