Monday, July 28, 2008

Sleep writing

Sleep, sleep I couldn't sleep tonight,
Not for all the jewels in the crown.

So sang Eliza Dolittle. I wish I could do a little of that. Not sleep I mean. Usually. I mean, the norm is, to sit on your desk writing way past midnight if you are good friends with insomnia or you are a damn good writer. I can barely keep my eyes open now and I can barely write. Yet I am wishing on the outskirts of my sanity that time would stay still for bit and words would lend a hand to my madness during that uncanny pause in reality.


I feel like I am breathing on borrowed time. Time that I need to beg, borrow, steal from someone else. I do not know how this happened. I used to breathe my own air supply once. Now I feel I am constantly breathing down someones neck.


I have developed a sudden craving for noise. Any noise. All noise. In an hopeless attempt to drown a silence I feel growing inside. I walk through busy streets, meander my way through the world, earn a living and yet... nothing. Nothing registers. There is no sound, no colour, no pain, no heat, no cold, no air, no land, no people.


Today, I stood at the confluence of two rivers. Mesmerizing. I wish I could lose myself in someone like that - the way one river loses itself into another. After a point one cannot tell which is which. So I stood there and I yearned. No, the rivers did not ask me to get a grip on it and move on. The yearning did.


Even the rain hits a transparent glass cage around me and slides off. A cage I forged out of the sandstorms I passed through and fires I burned in. And as I stumble through the world in this awkward looking invisible space suit, attracting the mockery of the mob around, I constantly search for that one eye that will see the cage and open it. For I cannot open it. I cannot even touch it nor touch anything outside. The only consolation being that it protects me - preserves me - forever. But you know what? I'd give up forever to touch you.

And I don't want the world to see me
Cause I don't think that they'd understand
When everything is made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am.


This is a poem I started writing -

Just write,
Write like nobody is reading,
Write because the cat will not stop mewing unless you do,
Or because the cheese will not melt on your pizza.


This was a story I left unfinished -

"I want to come over. Now. This instant."

She listened to the message on her answering machine one more time. The cool breeze from outside sneaked in through the open window. She could feel its caress in the ruffled fabric of her sari. She lay there on her four poster bed, alone in her bedroom, wrapped in her bronze chiffon and his voice.

Her cellphone rang. She hesitated. The resonant ringing beckoned, growing more and more irresistible with each ring.

"Tell me you do not want me to come over."

"I... "
"The drive does not take long."

She removed the strands of her hair covering her face. His hands had been soft, she remembered. Her hair still had his smell trapped in their locks.

"The dinner was nice."
"I was a fool to let you go after it. Tell me I was."

He was brash and young. He would eat out of her hand, if only she offered it.


My quilt has been leaking wispy feathery shards for a long time now. I sewed one seam and another popped open somewhere else. So I stopped sewing some time ago. The quilt keeps me warm though and does not complain about my laziness. I hope my life is as benign. For I do not have the threads to sew it back. I do not have the time. And I do not have the sanity.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Basket Case

"What am I supposed to do? You tell me."

"Just wait. Have some patience. Let things take their natural course. One can't rush love."

He looked at her with desperate eyes, making no effort to hide the desperation. Was she toying with him? He could not read any malice in her eyes. Hazel eyes, with the sure glint of star fire. Perfectly set in a face that cannot possibly conjure even an hint of malice.

Bhala-manda dekhe, na paraya na saga re,
Naino ko to dasne ka chaska laga re.

"But you had said after you get the job, you will tell me. And now you want to study more?"

"Yes, I did. Didn't I? Well, I've changed my mind."


"I thought you were different from other men. I thought you would understand. Am I supposed to give up everything I have worked so hard for, just because you want me to? You are all the same. I hate men."

"I am... I did not want to... it's not what I meant."

Chauvinist. So that is today's basket. Every time she changed baskets, he felt the cold chill strumming the guitar on his spine. He could not possibly wait for ever. Yet, he would. He gladly would, wouldn't he? His worst fear was not the waiting. It was that she would run out of baskets some day. He tried to peer into her eyes. Eyes, he had read somewhere, are supposed to reflect the true secrets of the heart. Alas, all he could read in them were his own insecurity.

Naino ki jubaan pe bharosa nahi aata
Likhat-padhat, na raseed na khaata.


"It's an Ivy League business school! And you are the first person I am telling it to because you are sooo special."


"Isn't it great! Dad has been wanting me to go there since years. It's where he got his MBA from. Oh tell me you are elated! Tell me. Tell me."

"I am happy for you."

Naina raat ko chalte chalte swargan me le jaaven,
Megh-malhar ke sapne beeje, haryaali dikhlaven.

She is going away. For only two years. For ever! How can she? After so many years of waiting. It is what she has always wanted. I thought she has always wanted me. Has she ever said that? Has she ever said otherwise? I will... I... this is wrong! I can't breathe. I must breathe. I must...



"What did you say? Come again."

"Don't go! Don't go! I... cannot... do not want you to go."

"Took you long enough, didn't it!"


"To speak up. It took you long enough to speak up. I am not going anywhere. Idiot! Neither are you, for that matter. I have told Dad about you. He is waiting to meet you, downstairs."

Oh my God! The basket of all baskets - husband! I was not ready for this. Are my feet shaking? Am I ready? Did I really want this? Why is it so cold suddenly? Why am I sweating? Did she say yes? Should I ask her again? Just to be sure. What if she changes her mind again? Marriage - who said anything about marriage! What if she does not change her mind! Oh my God!

Bin badal barasayen sawan, sawan bin barsatan,
Naina bavra kar denge.


"Naina Thag Lenge" is a haunting song from the Vishal Bharadwaj film Omkara. It is sung by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, with lyrics by Gulzar. You can listen to a live performance version here.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

On the couch by the window

Dust clings to the winds. The skies shriek with the silence of impending war. Standing on higher ground, I see miles and miles of corpses that line the path of the marching behemoth. With every step of their resonant resolve, the earth trembles to submission anew. The fiery white ball of fire burns each and every one of those faces into my heart. Familiar faces. Intimate faces. Reflections. This is a fight to the death.

The morning run was good. Music in my deaf ears, darkness under my tightly shut eyelids, the endless treadmill rolling under my tired feet - a run to the very fringes of deathly exhaustion. I never did realize I had so much to run from or to run for. My legs feel like they are weightless now, as I lie sprawled on my couch beside the Venetian window that overlooks the road.

The sky is overcast with gray clouds that look like damp swabs of cotton wool. The row of trees that line the pavement beside the road looks a darker shade of green, in deference to the impending rain. The air smells of the lilting melody of fresh dew drops, like your wet hair after the morning shower. The road seems to be like a brand new chalk board, dreading the first touch of a powdery, screeching chalk.

The couch is lined with maroon synthetic leather. I can feel the hair on my legs brush against the soft pillows stashed somewhere near my legs. I vaguely remember last night. The dark brown teak side table wobbles every time I put my cup of coffee back on it. The day's newspaper lies neglected on the cold floor. You don't like carpets. My blue flip-flops lie weirdly on top of each other in an entangled mess.

The road to hell is paved by good intentions. The road to my heart has been meticulously erased. Newer lines. More and different kinds of lines were needed to complete the blueprint. Since nobody was going anywhere, roads were not necessary. Soon my erasure will begin. I have been assured it does not hurt at all.

Do I need to shave today? I sit up a little to catch my reflection in the window pane. A plain cream shirt over a pair of worn out blue denims. His messy black hair forms a strange chaotic rhythm as his lanky feet move his lean torso to the beat of the crisp morning sun. I notice that he has a brown-beige shoulder bag strapped across his chest and white headphones in his ears. The blue white Nike sneakers seem to make him glide across the road. Lithe and elegant. You would have liked him. I turn around to find you looking at him, over my shoulder.

Your eyes defocus their twinkling to look at me. I can feel the touch of your hand on my shoulder. I place my hand on yours. Your fingers are cool like scented sandalwood sticks. You bend forward and put one knee on the couch. I can see the day filter in a million parts through your wet hair as you bend your head down to look at me. A look that sucks out my demons into nothingness. I turn over and shift as you effortlessly melt into my curves. I can feel your breath condense hesitantly on my back. Your arms wrap around me in a silken embrace, drawing me out for another voyage. Slowly, surely, subtly I sink into honey-mustard dreams, of rediscovering meandering lost roads, to distant, uncharted war-torn lands.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Observing the obvious

A black iPod nano rests on desk beside my keyboard, the earphone wires lie wrought in a cacophonic jumble beside it. A black Harman Kardon speaker stands, curving backward on a purple plastic tray of miscellaneous junk - a half used bundle of post-its, a glue stick, a box of mints and a telephone list.

Amidst stacks of paper strewn all around, the transparent bottle of lemon flavoured ice tea has a pink cap. The drinking water inside is almost finished. A friend sits a little distance away. Big, bulky headphones rest on his equine features as his nimble fingers gallop on keys of a slanted keyboard.

Four windows. On two, the shutters are up. Outside the leaves are radiant with a ferocious looking evening sun. Patches of green playing truant among the bristling yellow. The shy azure sky peeks out from in-between, time and time again. The other two windows have shutters drawn. Custard yellow shutters that turn the room a shade more delicious.

A wooden doll rests in a half suspended walking pose on the opposite table. My denim jacket languishes in the corner, hanging on the steel coat hanger. Beside that a rack of books stare at me. Mute.

Closer to home, behind the iPod sits a black coat button that I found on the street. The coffee mug that I forgot to return to the cafeteria rests upside down, in disdain. A stack of visiting cards lie unopened in a box of clear plastic. A flimsy, white spoon sticks to the insides of a unwashed glass that held my morning coffee. My purse of gooey brown leather looks like a awkward dumpling beside the svelte flat of the shiny Wacom tablet. The Kangaro stapler sits with its forever gaping mouth, in rapt admiration of me writing these words.

The rustling of leaves mixes with the growl of a bike from outside. A web cam peers into the emptiness of my face. Solid lines diffuse shadows of refracted light as the day grinds to another pause. The work day draws to an end, with a certainty, that only befits time and her cohorts.

I am yawning. I remember yawning when I started the day. Full circle. A series of noughts, nots and knots. And the final sum. The final result?

That I am biodegradable. Thank God for that!