Wednesday, August 27, 2008

In a night darker

In a night
darker than the darkest fear
I lost you, dear
to another.

In a night
quieter than the quietest whisper
My pain, stronger and sharper
came for me.

In a night
wetter than the wettest tear
My dream ceased to appear
in my eyes.

In a night
lonelier than my forsaken selves
My life no longer delves
in my soul.

On such a night
My love, my first,
I am solemnly cursed
to laugh at myself.


I think to myself quietly, "I am a man." I hold this thought in my head for exactly two minutes and I ask, "Why? Why am I a man?" And in my silence, I watch the answer change. Not what or how or when. But why? What is it that makes me one? Is the fact that I was born one sufficient?

Question the most basic morsel of truth about yourself for two minutes and watch the answers change. Why am I alive? Why do I snore? Why do I love her? Why do I like colours? Why am I wicked? Why do I write? I ask myself all the whys. The same whys again and again. And I watch the answers change. Float in and out of the fringes of my conscious mind.

I listen to the world asking me the questions. Why did you do this? Why did you not do this? Why are you here? Why are you not on time? Why are you hungry now? Why are you not paying attention? Why did you write this? Why did you ask why? All different questions. And I see myself giving the answer. The same answer every time. I see the answers stick to a corporeal reality that binds them to worldly understanding.

And then I think, what if. What if my questions to myself become fluid and the answers stick to their slots? What if suddenly all the world asks me the same questions again and again, and my answers keep changing, making it impossible for me to answer anything.

Is it not fascinating how what is real and what is surreal merges at the horizon of imagination? Sometimes the questions are real and sometimes the answers are. But maybe what matters is neither the question nor the answer, but just the asking and the answering. And sometimes, just sometimes, it is the "just knowing" that matters.

So is it right to say that no matter what the question and no matter what the answer, I just know me. But do I really?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

At the end

It is one of those weird true stories that nobody seems to know the truth about. But I know. I know because I saw him live, and grow old, and wither away into nothingness.

Tish Trovsky was my neighbour. He was born in the old house that had the old oak in a garden along Old Manor Lane. Tish was an unusual child. He was always waiting for things to happen to him. He waited for his mother to kiss him goodbye everyday before he left for school. When old Mrs. Trovsky succumbed to a sudden bout of pneumonia, Tish had to give up on school, because he could not wait forever for the goodbye kiss.

He then waited in front of the "Jonas and James" machine shop looking wide eyed at the lathe machines eloquently shaping metal till Ole Jonas took him in as an apprentice. Tish always believed that good things come after you have duly waited for them. He even waited for seven nights outside Patricia Gatsby's window because he thought her kiss was the one to wait for. Patricia kissed him when her neighbour threatened to call the police and create perfectly called for nuisance.

Then it happened. The only thing he had not waited for a single day in his life happened. Just like that, while he was returning home from work one evening, he bent down to pick up a hat blowing across Elm Street. It was a beige coloured cloche. He picked it up because it blew right into his feet, he told me later on one of those long summer afternoons when the everything waits for the sun to set. Oh but I am jumping the gun here.

The cloche was closely followed by its owner, a certain Ms. Brunswick. Elena Brunswick went on to love and marry Tish for reasons no one could fathom. Not even Tish. But she had arrived without so much as an inkling of a wait, so Tish took it as some signal from the divine hands of time to stop waiting and got married. For the next six months, Tish did not even remember the day of the week (he said it was always Sunday).

Then it happened again. One fine summer afternoon, when Tish was lazily sitting on the teak bench in the verandah, Elena left house saying, "Give me around 20 minutes. I will be back." So Tish sat waiting. 20 minutes. 25 minutes. 30 minutes. 1 hour. 12 hours. 2 weeks. 4 weeks. 6 months. 5 years. 15 years.

No body knows what happened to Elena. Some say her ex-boyfriend, who was a captain in the navy, suddenly returned alive that day, after being declared dead during combat. Some report the presence of UFO's in the vicinity of Old Manor Lane. But Tish never gave up on the 20 minutes. He waited for her to return. He waited for so long that soon he turned the colour of teak and his roots sank deep into the ground. His legs turned to wood, and then his arms, and finally his head.

You can still make out his silhouette in the gnarled wood that grows through the bench in the verandah of the old house that has the old oak in the garden along Old Manor Lane. And if you put your ear to the bark where it grazes the back rest of the bench, you can still hear the weird "thump, thump, thump" echoing the remnants of Tish's life.

You may think this is a sad story but it is not. At the end, Tish went on doing what he did best. He waited. First, he waited. Most of this life, he waited. At the end, he was still waiting.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Turning back

Things have a way of coming full circle. We all return to where we start from - whole or in parts - alone or together - we all return home - dead or alive.

Chena shonar kon bayire, Jekhane poth nai nayire,
Shekhane ookarone jaayi choote.

Two years ago I left home with a dream in my eyes. A professional dream. A personal dream. A choice. A promise. I left behind a lot of people who loved me and travelled in search of more. More what? I did not know then.

Ghorer mookhe aar ki re, Kono din she jaabe phire,
Jabena jabena deyal joto shob galo toote.

Now I do. It has been a good two years. I have grown. Professionally, I have blossomed into my independence. Personally, I have revelled in my loneliness. I have made the very lonely trip into the dark corners of my heart, hoping to catch a glimpse of someone to share my life with. I have, almost always, met unrecognizable reflections of myself on the way. Gruesome reflections. Sadder and darker versions of myself. I have doubted and feared myself. I have wounded and pierced my heart. Again and again, till the tears have dried up. I have discovered magic. Touched perfection. Witnessed the birth of pure, distilled beauty. I have burnt in the fires of hell. Drowned in splashes of tumultuous desire. Become my worst nightmare. And yet, I have retained the conviction to return to loving myself.

Bristhi nesha bhora shondha bayla, Kon boloramer aami chayla
Aamar shopno ghire naache matal joote, joto maatal joote.

In all this, I have managed to romance my dream. In my fear, anger, hate, jealousy, pettiness, melancholy, I have nurtured my soppy romantic idiotic self. People have told me that my variety of love does not exist in this world, and then have suddenly chanced upon it where they least expected it. People have called my ideas Utopian and antique. And yet these worn out ideas have borne the weight of my dreams all this while. They have salvaged them through the ravages of this material world. For dreams are lived by madmen. Madmen, like me who can see their dreams in someone's eyes. Tangible dreams. Salty dreams. Silent dreams. Dreams that cuddle up with me and soothe me to sleep on long, cold, lonely nights. Dreams that come without price tags and expectations, without weight and light, without burden and freedom, with out and with in. Dreams that are neither born in, nor borne of needs and wants. A dream that is me. And I am still standing. And so is my dream.

Ja na chaibar taayi aaji chayigo, Ja na payibar taayi kotha payigo,
Pabona pabona mori oshombhober paaye matha khoote.

The journey back is starting. I do not what I will return to. I do not know how I will find home to be like after all this time. I do not know what gives me the audacity to keep on loving. I don't even know how long I will be able to keep my dream alive. But I will go back. Let the world stand up and mock my return. I do not care. It is my home. It is my dream. It is my love. It is me.

Pagla hawar badol-dine, Pagol aamar mon jege othe.

The lines in Bangla are form a song by Rabindranath Tagore.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Lines of charming elegance
flow down and cusp
a dollop of confidence.

A pinch of naughtiness
shines in mysterious kohl eyes.

Wet desire smeared
on pursed shying lips.

Dangling bits of red fire
waltz around curvy silhouettes
of a subtle self.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Surreal Times

It was a sweaty July afternoon. The clouds covered the sky in their humid blanket making the heat stick to the skin. Sushmita was relieved to find that the electricity was still there when she return home from work. At least her office was air-conditioned. Sometimes she did not want to come back home, to this oppressive heat. Shaswat had been promising her an AC since last year but the expected pay hike had not happened.

He was already home, as usual, preparing dinner in the kitchen. "Hi Precious. How was your day?" He greeted her with a cool glass of khus-khus sherbet and the smell of freshly fried fish. "Oh the same thing. You know - the deadline for the designs is in two days. I do not know how I will complete them in time." She had sank into the soft red bean bag in the balcony. He got his own glass of sherbet and snuggled in beside her.

She was sweaty from having climbed the stairs to their fourth floor apartment. He was sweaty from the hot kitchen. Their slick pungent smells snuggled into each other, their sweaty bodies soaking the oozing rays of the setting sun. "Don't worry. You'll do it. You always do it. Talk to me about it if you want to."

She leaned back into him. Her hair, choked with the grime of everyday life, felt rejuvenated in his calm breath. She rested her head on his shoulder. She was at peace with the world when she was in his arms. Her thoughts made so much more sense when he was around.

"Lalit gets it, you know. My ideas, my designs. Even before I have completed presenting them to the team. He gets them just the way I want them to be. I talked with him all afternoon about this. He says we will have to work all night tomorrow to get this done."

His fingers were gently curled over hers with a reassuring kindness that she found every time he touched her. "That's good. Then why are you so worried. I am glad you have someone to discuss your work with. I wish I had someone who could tell me why my short-wave radio does not work!" He could hear what he was saying. He did not like the sound of his voice. He just closed his eyes and felt her weight leaning on him. He wished he did not say such things.

"Oh shush! Who can understand those nerdy gadgets you keep fiddling with! Oh it's Lalit on the phone. I've got to take this, love. Mwah." She kissed him lightly on the forehead. He watched her stand and walk over to the edge of the balcony. As she stood there, he could see her face in profile, covered with the dull warm orange of the dying twilight. As he watched her talk on the phone, he noticed that smile on her face. A smile that only appeared when she was talking with him.

Time seemed to flow, all around him, like Dali's melting clocks. He loved it when she smiled like that. A smile of abandon, a smile full of twinkles that lit up her eyes. He waited for that smile. He waited on that smile. He waited because of that smile. He waited, and time kept on flowing.