Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Written by him

The silver nib of the fountain pen slid ahead of sinuous curves of black ink. He paused and looked at the unfinished page of text. The page seemed to give off an eerie, dull glow in the flicker of the candle. The hands of the grandfather clock had stealthily ticked over the hour and his page was still only half full. His temple glistened with sweat. Every nerve was taut as if they held back the wheels of time from running free.

The page did not look right. Not just yet. It looked too light, as if the white space overruled the encroaching strokes of black. The painting looked lopsided. He lacked the ability to look at his writings for the words that made them up. For him, they were always paintings. Today he did not have the time to ponder about his choice of colours. His memories got mangled under the furious passion of his strokes.

You cannot write. The darn things are words! Not lines or curves or brush strokes on a canvas. They are suppose to join and make sense. He only saw how the light danced in the air as her tresses filtered the amber beams. Where is the context of this? What is this idea doing in the middle of nowhere? Writing has form and structure. Narration should flow in and around some context. No one will read what you are writing. Her skin seemed translucent and weightless. Like she was a mirage, an apparition of his imagination.

The damp, hot air from outside waited at the window sill, refusing to blow in. It gave the room a feeling of resigned stuffiness. He returned to his painting with a renewed vengeance. It had to make sense now. He looked to the ream of paper that lay beside, filled with the same sprawling curves of black. Page after page, he had drawn her. Her every manner, every smell, every sparkle in her eyes, every note of her laughter, every drop of her tears. Just a few more pages and his portrait would be complete. He would have her, right there, forever.

The shadows flickered on the wall and the table top. They were laughing at him again. You silly, silly man. My first novel took years to publish. No one has the time to extract sense from this chaos you spread in ink. Your characters have no substance. They do not seem real. Just then, she had doubled up with that awful wheezing cough that seemed to drain more of her life out with every burst. The leaves in the trees had come and gone, the season of disease had not budged. Time had never paid heed to his pleadings, but this time was different. This time was his alone.

Promise me you will take care of yourself. You are too special to be wasted on this world that refuses to understand. Promise me you will make them understand. He could see her lips move like a symphony lilting in the breeze. He could feel the longing in her touch. He could do nothing, except what he was doing now.

It had been five months since he had found a surprise admirer of his work. Someone who had agreed to publish what he wrote. It was as if destiny had decided to guide his hand herself. He still painted the pages, but now with the paint, flowed life. A life that should have lived outside the folds of a few sheets of papyrus. A life that flowed out of him.

Promise me you will write so that thousands can see the beauty I saw. Promise me... His hand wavered as he felt a cold shiver run through his veins. A sudden gust of truant wind clattered the window panes. His breathing was now heavy with anticipation. His masterpiece was almost complete. It pulsated with the beauty that had seeped into it. A drop of sweat fell on the sheet as he put the last dot, smudging it, making the ink spread. He could see her reflection in the sea of words, shimmering and sparkling with joy of being understood.

Finally, he could let go of himself. He slumped on his chair and lay his head to rest on the table. The first ray of sunlight found him like that. Calm, resplendent and one with his reflection.

Saturday, February 23, 2008


The gauntlet of pain overflows. The pain drips slowly, honey-like, draining into the shimmering desert of isolation. Fighting its way through this desert is my shouting, screaming, crowded self. So much commotion.

A red dustbin of thoughts floats near the horizon. A ball of dreams rises and slam-dunks into it. The lid falls shut with a metallic clatter that echoes through the curtains of twilight that hang listlessly over the walls. Stifled air builds walls of steel. Steel that is cold. Cold perfection set in the molds of eternity.

The symmetry of misery beckons. So subtle, so sublime the call that the very threads of sanity reverberate with it's touch. History stands witness as the spirit is executed. The executioner smiles with glee as time mangles herself in the claws of destiny. The guillotine drops. The steel blade glints with the malice of love.

Love born out of solitary confinement. The confinement of freedom running wild. Running far. The farther he runs, the closer is the oozing numbness of distance. Distance bridged by crooked, awry, helpless words. Imperfect words. Crafted in haste, the bridges creak under the weight of aging trust.

Water-tight bonds are drenched in the cold sweat of reason. The silence leaks drop by drop. Into the gauntlet of pain.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The taste on her lips

Posky had decided to walk home. The tram was no fun in the snow. The black branches of the naked trees waved to her as she trudged on. Chimney smoke swirled up from the many roofs lining the sapphire blue sky. Like ideas lost in math class.

She was half lost between Nabokov and Sailor Moon when the tram overtook her. The earth shook like the huge centipede was burping in the underworld. She shook her head, as if shaking off stubborn bubbles of mint flavoured shampoo from her amber curls.

The snow was already melting. It made even the cleanest of sidewalks look murky with all the slush lying around. Her boots made a sucking squelching sound as she walked. Didn't the kiss sound like that? Eeeew!

His hands had felt nice though. Like someone had handed the first prize to her in the dream-like butt contest. She stopped and reached up in the sky, and caught for herself a fistful of chilled air. It was fog-breath season! She blew out her breath there. There, there and there. The window of the sandwich shop turned smoky white, as did her glasses.

Twilight was upon the world. Leaves of pine tree round the corner seemed to swish in the wind. Her hands in his hair, his tic-tac breath and his clumsy toes stepping over her's. All in all, it had gone better than she had expected. Even though his bean bag was leaking plastic foam at the seams and the air had smelt of sweaty socks and wet underwear.

The sweatshirt had stayed in place. Firmly. Hands had scurried and fumbled. She was sure he would have beaten the insane level in the Ultimate Ninja Heroes game in her PSP, if he could keep up at that pace for another hour.

The way back home was ridiculously short. How was anybody supposed to do any serious thinking in a fifteen minute walk? She climbed the few steps that led to the front door of her house. The chocolate brown door held another world within. Loud, cozy and intimate. She turned around and looked at her footsteps in the slushy snow. They would be gone by morning. But the taste on Posceska's lips would stay on.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Pulverize fear with words
Try. Try.
More to try. More to fear.
Dog-eared corners from memory,
Hard to return to,
Harder still to misplace.
Froth. Disappearing surfaces of water,
Bridged with air, refracted clarity.
Fluidly trespassed lines of incongruence
Ushering in tomorrow before today
Disconnected realities forge illusions
Eroded faith, rounded at the edges
To fit windows of limited understanding
Curled back into the womb
That bore the pain that
we return to

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

On another sanguine eve

Petty second-hand needs

Heartbeats pulsing through veins
One, two, three, one too many
constricted flows
of thought, bulge and explode

Symmetric distances curve in space
Footsteps wait
Eavesdropping on passers-by
My mind to your mind

Need to be spoken to
To see sounds take form
in thin air and in dreams

Thrashed understanding
of the insufficiently artsy
Simply normal
in form and action

Threads of need stitch
with pricking needles of singularity
Random patterns
in a quilt of mouldy hearts

Run, run and overtake
my shadow
Before the night, the day
for I hate needles

howsoever insignificant they still
prick and bleed

This not a poem
It is not in a language
you can read and I can speak in
presumptuous prose faking
the remnants of a random taste
I can still taste
on my lips.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Wait


Darkness melts....
Light blinds...
Time freezes..
Air drips.
I wait

When. When. When.

In charcoal and pencil, on paper. Photographed from sketchbook.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Komal Gandhar

The rain outside is confused. It has strayed out of character and turned into molten snow. The sky seems resigned to its fate, disillusioned without the sun. February has started.

I am splitting. My identity has suffered it's share of crises. As the seam starts to burst open again, none of the questions seem to have been answered.

My modest efforts at writing have sought to structure these questions in words. Time and again, I have tried. Fumbling with words, littering them around on the screen of a computer, hoping that they form a pattern out of the chaos that gave them birth. They resonate with my confusion, shiver and shake off any semblance of reality that gets attached to them by mistake.

Kaan pete chi, chokh mele chi,
Dhorar booke praan dhelechi,
Janaar majhe, Ojanaar i korechi shondhaan,
Bishmoye taayi jaage, jaage amaar gaan.

I do not have the capacity for images or words that can express this. I cannot speak and make someone understand. I cannot write what my calm does not betray. Why! Why! Why should I be any different? From the million others who flow around in this world unperturbed by any knowledge. How can I not get impatient with myself, trying restlessly to cut through this clarity that hides my conflict.

The world reflects in my shards. Unfortunately, the reflection is broken. Not complete in every shard. The world reverberates with energy, calls, beckons. Can you not hear? Love flows and drips though lands parched by years of turmoil. Can you not feel? Hearts wrenched from living beings beat to the rhythm of dreams. Can you not see?

Celebrate the crumbs of cosmic consciousness that your dreams have eaten. Look around you and rebel. Pulverize every ounce of artifice in your thought. Let every drop of your sweat electrify a thousand light bulbs and disperse the illusion of helpless misery. Embrace your memory of self and fuse it with your soul. Be one. Be pure. How can I? Be all this that I see, and be all that I am?

The lines are from a Tagore poem/song, sung beautifully by Debabrata Biswas in the Ritwik Ghatak film Komal Gandhar. They roughly and very literally translate to:

I have lain eternally in wait, to listen, to see,
I have poured my life into the heart of this earth,
I have searched for the unknown in the midst of the known,
That is why, in wonder, that is what has awakened my song.

Tagore juxtaposes the eternal bond between man and his self with the bond between man and nature. The harmony and the wonder that spring from and define this bond gives rise to these words from the poet.