Thursday, October 24, 2013

Akhon Onek Raat

Words found in a limbo of languages,
Extinct dialects of the heart,
Forced cacophony of the world around,
Sounds that mean what we make them mean.

Akhon onek raat,
Tomar kaandhe amaar nishshash,
Aami benche aachi, tomar bhalobashaye.

Simple lines, spoken a million times over,
in many love stories, like ours,
Beaten to death by authors, and burnt to ash,
by poets and blurred off paper by painters.

Chuye dile haath,
Aamar briddho booke tomar maatha chepe dhore,
Dolchi kamon neshaye.

Drunk in meaning, of eons of stories,
Heavy with the weight of so many souls,
Lines, still just lines of words after all,
in an alien language.

Kano je oshonkoche ondho gaaner koli,
Pakhar blade-er taale shojashuji kotha boli.

Nonsense and sense, churned like buttermilk,
Indistinguishable anguish of the once loved,
Unfathomable logic of the still loved,
Hopeless hope of a still to be loved. 

Ami bhabte parini tumi buker bhetor phatcho
amaar shorir jure tomar premer beej.

Yet surprise they do, sometimes, all the time,
How well they say my mind,
Your mind, this effervescent syntax of ink on paper,
forced to breathe, somewhere on our common ground. 

Ami thamte parini tomar gale norom dukkho
aamaye duhaat diye munchte diyo please.

Note: The Bangla lyrics are from a fantastic song from the film Hemlock Society (listen to it here). It has been written and sung by Anupam Roy.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Self Deception

Does someone else feel it too? A vacuum? Of words that one once used to speak? To loved ones, to strangers, to confidantes? Why do I feel that the words are ebbing away slowly. From my fibre, inch by inch, gram by gram.

This is what comes of reading a book made of letters. I read one a few days before, and I wanted to write about it. But I guess I am even more of a wallflower than Charlie. Epistolary. And now it is this one. It is curious, the path that has led to this book. Or led this book to me. Curious, to say the least.

I once used to write long letters. To friends and lovers alike. Even when they would not write back. Most of those friends have morphed into silent curtains. And lovers have been sucked in by reality. My devotion to the written word has thus suffered a severe lack in companionship.

I once used to write long emails. I can still manage a few. My earlier abandon though, lies spent somewhere, whimpering at having been kicked in the gut. It has shrunk, like a rejected lover's self-esteem, to cover only the bare essentials.

And so now is it only the perfidious sms that one gets. Terse to read and cumbersome to write, it conveys no emotion to me except an desperate, unreal urgency to exhale.

I wanted to write a letter in this post, and look what I ended up writing. And though it is quite unclear why anybody reads this blog at all, surprisingly, people do. And even more surprisingly, they write in sometimes, telling me how they passed an evening reading this electronic reflection of me. Sustenance for my narcissistic writerly self it is. Written morsels that reveal an interested person behind them. Such luxuries.

Luxuries one can always dream of indulging in. So now, my anonymous reader, be a dear, and write to me.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Cat Smoking (Part 4/4)

The bright lights of the road to airport snapped Pushmeet out of his frantic typing. He stared stupefied at the screen. The words he had typed were staring at him. The soft white glow of the screen lit his face, which he saw reflected in the car window. It had an expression of veiled fright. The look on his face changed as he realized what he was looking at. His phone buzzed.

He checked the inbox to see a sms from Trina saying, “Waiting for you at the departure lounge. How far off are you? Want to cancel the flight back and check-in into a hotel for the night?” He felt a longing to feel Tri's fingers on his stubble. They made it seem more like a Monet brush stroke than an ugly outgrowth of his lethargy. The first time he had met her at an airport, he was coming back from his first book tour. She was coming back from a meeting with clients. The idea of giving the flight a miss had been his. She had resisted the change from schedule initially, even insisted that they check-in into separate rooms. Later that night she had told him her entire travel schedule for the month. He had coordinated his book tours to match her tours. Airport hotels became erotic stopovers for a month. By the time the book tours became infrequent, her visits to his apartment had become a habit both had become used to. He had barely finished typing an emphatic yes, when his phone buzzed again.

With a message from Veronica that read, “Waiting in your apartment with Cat.” His mind played back images from the evening when he had walked into Ron's apartment with the stray cat he found on his way back home from the pub the night before. Ron simply called her Cat. He had hungrily dug into Ron's half finished cup of instant noodles before hitting the shower. He remembered how he had come out of the shower to find Ron crouched on the floor, talking to Cat in hushed whispers. He could not decide who looked more cat-like between the two of them. That night, their lovemaking had been infused with a feline energy interspersed with subdued mewls from Cat. It felt exhibitionistic to be making love in front of Cat. That only made him crave it more.

His hand wavered on his phone buttons. Not knowing who to reply to as the car drew into the airport departure porch. Getting out the car seemed more like the end of an expedition than the end of a road trip to get to the airport. The journey had been a revelation. The journey of listening to them tell their stories. Of letting them talk without his thoughts moderating the conversation. He showed his driving license and ticket to the airport security as he walked into the departure terminal. He was still standing their undecided about who to answer to when his phone buzzed again.

Without looking at the message, he walked to the flight ticket counter and cancelled his flight ticket. He walked out of the airport terminal, hailed a cab and headed back to Hampi. The journey held the promise of a story that had to play out itself in his head. The cab turned away from the airport as his fingers embraced the backlit keyboard of his laptop. He had to know his story. The story of what he wanted more. Lovemaking or stories? Who he wanted more. His lovers or himself?

The journey was essential. The story was necessary. The questions were undeniable. The women were merely characters.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

He Just Touched Her

He just touched her.

Tip of his finger, slowly grazed
the back of her flowing neck
Rising tides, churned far away
kept deep down in check

He just touched her.

A rumbling echoed beneath
her ribs, stoked alive in a pit
The moment his skin touched hers
like a sentence in flames, writ.

He just touched her.

Winds changed their song
A howl and a sigh of the dead
When a bead of sweat slid down
to meet his hesitant tread.

He just touched her.

Threads unravelled in her fabric
falling apart in the face of pure
Desire slicing veils and walls
erected by her, so firm, so sure.

He just touched her.

Helpless. So helpless in broad daylight,
between crowds, a prison of solitary
Delight coursing through veins,
betraying a self, wild in her, free.

He just touched her.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Cat Smoking (Part 3/4)

The sea laps the dark boulders that line the shore, consoling them for being immovable, and commending them for being absolute. On one such boulder, sat Veronica, legs folded, held close to her bosom, arms resting on knees, tracing the waves as they rolled in from the horizon and broke stride on the rocks. She is clad in frayed denim shorts and a loose worn-out drab grey t-shirt, with her curls tied into an unkempt bun, held fast with a red hair pin.

Beside her, on a lower ledge of the same boulder, is Trina. Leaning on the boulder with her palms supporting her lithe frame as her legs dangle off the ledge, feet pointing toward the sea. Dressed in smartly cut tangerine salwar-kameez and an ivory white dupatta, she is looking towards the clouds in the sky as the breeze blows her short tresses onto her face. Pondicherry is an escape to many, but both these women are here on work.

Trina, as a consulting architect to a resort being built few miles out of town. Veronica, on the hunt for a story about fishermen being displaced by rampant urban development. They have been forced to share a room for two nights, as the hotel has had to undertake sudden repairs in a few rooms due to a burst water pipe. They have grudgingly grown to like each other. Each aware of the other's femininity as only a woman can be. Each wary of the other's femininity as only a woman can be.

“The sea doesn't care who we are. We are specks on the rocks it sees everyday. The sea will be here long after we are gone.”

“Not at the rate at which we are going. The sea may not last that long after all.”

“Nothing on the sea shore looks out of order. Nothing natural every looks unnatural. Every wonder why? Why can't we design our structures to be more natural?”

“Why must we build anything here? Doesn't it defeat the point?”

“Can you think of a better place to make love than a room with a glass wall that looks out into the sea?”

“Yes I can. The beach.”

“You will make love out in the open beach?”

“Try it. On a moonlit night, the sea lapping at your toes, the waves drowning out all other sound and a lover amazed by your shamelessness make for heavenly lovemaking. Don't forget a sheet to lie on. Sand has a habit of getting into unwanted places.”

The thought struck Trina as being rather unhygienic. Curious, maybe even erotic, but decidedly unhygienic. She stared at Veronica's nose-ring. “Silver,” she thought, “I haven't seen silver jewellery in a long time.” Sunlight skids on silver, like a ninja on water. “Ninjas? What have I been drinking! Why am I thinking of ninjas and silver! Weren't we talking about the sea and lovemaking and nature. P.”

“Do you want a cigarette?” Veronica's dusky voice seemed to wrench her out of her silvery fog.

“I am trying to give up. I want my lover to give it up actually. But he says I am hypocrite if I don't give it up myself first.”

“Mine smokes like a chimney. And hides his stash in my apartment - his is searched it seems, by what he calls 'the cigarette police!' Have you ever kissed a mouth full of smoke? Exchanged smoke like saliva? I found the thought disgusting till he made me do it.”

“No... I don't quite like the saliva bit either, much to his chagrin. I am more of a touch person, than a kiss person.”

“I am all for touch, kiss, lick and other forms of bodily interaction, to put it mildly. ”

“Hmmm... I think I am more of a mental person. As opposed to being physical I mean.”

Veronica let out a laugh and shook her head.

Meet says about the same thing for me. That I am a mental person. Meet is my lover and friend.”

“In that order?”


“I would like a friend first. Though I am not sure I would want it. I am not sure P understands the difference. He does look sad when I tell him he does not understand. I think I hate it more that he tries so hard to understand than I do his not understanding.”

“How do you design anything thinking like that?”

“I keep work and love separate. I either work at love or love my work. I don't do both together.”

“I can't seem to keep one aside to make room for the other long enough to separate them in my head. I need good lovemaking to work well and crave good work to be able to make love.”

“You have sex at work?”

“You don't want to know! You seem to be too proper to be scandalized by such revelations. I like working at Meet's apartment though. That gives me high. And that is not only because of a constant supply of cigarettes.”

“I hate working at P's place. The place smells of decadence. I cannot work in such a place. I like his place precisely because of the reason I hate it. I think I'll have that cigarette after all.”

“Thinking about Meet makes me want to smoke. I don't think that is called having a positive influence on someone. Don't you find falling for all the wrong types too stereotypical? I always pegged myself to be more of an outcast than this.”

“These days being the outcast is being stereotyped. It's like history rewriting itself.”

“Do you have other lover's too?”

“No. I don't. I am monogamous.”

“I am not though currently I am only with Meet. It is not infidelity when I do not invest in another lover. You know – only the occasional fling.”

“Between the otherwise steadier fling, you mean?”

“Kind of. Though I find I am losing my taste for lovers after being with Meet for sometime. It's how being a smoker kills off your taste-buds.”

“And still I smoke. We are not that different in some ways. I wonder how different our lovers are. I think I do not know mine well enough to answer that. I think I do not want to know mine well enough to answer that. Knowing too well dulls your taste-buds too.”

“The familiarity-contempt line of thinking. I agree. We are useful as lovers as long as we hold the secret of our charms close to our hearts. After that, maybe we are only useful as friends or companions.”

“I don't want to give up being a lover to being a companion.”