Sunday, June 23, 2013

Cat Smoking (Part 1/4)

The car, a plush Innova, raced on the serpentine stretch of clear tar, unzipping the face of the earth, leaving its embarrassed red nakedness exposed to the skies. Pushmeet instructed the driver to roll the windows down and let some of his stench out.

“Will you please roll down the windows. I could use some fresh air.”

The air that blasted his lungs was heavy with dust from the Bellary mines.

“How much iron ore does the world need, Meet... how much greed can the earth suffer?”

Veronica had looked genuinely perturbed when she reported the illegal stone quarrying near the Hampi ruins.

“It's stone I thought, not iron ore.”

“Same earth. Same pigs. Same greed.”

“Pigs actually are very friendly to the earth. They love wallowing in squishy, squelchy places.” He had chuckled as he gave her a pat on her shapely bum.

“You are a pig too mister Meet. A thoroughly enjoyable one at that. Come... let's see you wallow some more and save the earth in the process.”

Pushmeet was yanked out of his libidinous reverie by the sudden swerve of the car. A large container loomed large for a moment on one side as the Innova overtook it with ease, the driver muttering his chagrin in Kannada. They had been driving for two hours now. It would take four or five hours more to reach the airport. The driver had not slept in the last 24 hours, neither had Pushmeet. He sounds like her, sleepy-sharp, overworked and pissed-off about not being allowed to design the wall like she wants too.

“Let it be Trina, its only a wall... come to bed na... soon you will be off to work again.”

“Shut up P! You know this is important. The structure needs this wall almost as much as you need me in bed right now.”

Pushmeet watched her peering at her laptop screen, her half smoked cigarette balanced precariously between her fingers, in a state of partial undress. She had received the sms announcing the demise of her beloved wall while he was unhooking her silk crepe blouse. She had muttered an abuse and turned towards the laptop. All Pushmeet could do was gaze longingly at the red satin balconette that she had on her. He had already slipped into half dreamy sleep when he felt her cool skin beside him.

The driver insisted on honking every few meters. The speed of the Innova made sure that meant a continuously sounding flurry of honks that kept everybody on the road alert. Windmills on distant hills turned with the deftness of government plans to generate power for its people.

I hope the laptop battery lasts long enough for me to finish this. The story was already due and he did not have a clue about what to write. A choice of words had never left him as flummoxed as a choice of women. So he had decided to become a writer. Of fiction. To his not so unexpected surprise he found women drawn to his words like talking parakeets to pirate sagas. They always held the secret code to the treasure on the island of cannibals – unlike the stories however, sometimes he hit the jackpot, sometimes he got eaten by cannibals and still worse sometimes, he had to let the parakeets fly away because the treasure seemed to good to be true.

He had met Veronica and Trina on the same day. In a bookshop and a cafe that lay beside each other on the loneliest stretch of road that led to his apartment. He landed his first book deal the next day. A constant stream of words, ideas, cigarettes and lovemaking had filled the next few weeks. Ron and Tri weaved in and out of his unkempt life, sewing him to reality in between them. Both parakeets that held no promise of secret treasure and refused to fly away. Even after they had pecked his mind threadbare.

To his questions about why do they continue to see him, Trina had answered, “Because you are the only unkempt wilderness I can tolerate cultivating.” Veronica had been more unabashed in announcing, “It's the sex dear, and a free supply of cigarettes. And an intelligence that does not insult mine.” That was a year ago. He had constantly tested his ideas about the world and its women on them. Leeched their thoughts into his words. Lingered on their gaze and sketched their gestures with his thoughts. Trina had inspired his mind just as violently as she had inflamed his passions. Veronica was on the other hand, kept him steady and straight, both when his mind and hands wandered.

The Macbook Air rested on crossed legs, as he gazed out at the dusty brown skies stretching over miles of hills in the distance and miles of history in time. History that stands witness to the plunder that reduced the majestic city of Hampi to ruins and history that is witnessing the plunder that is erasing itself from the slates of time. His fingers hovered above the keys, waiting to catch the words that fell from his imagination. His imagination, however, lay captive with his muse and guide. He had managed to not tell them about each other so far. They did not pry. They only wanted him for themselves when they were around and in this, he had been honest. Not thinking about the other, when he was with one of them.

The strain of this existence was beginning to show. The strain of remoulding himself, in entirety, to fit their moulds. Like oft kneaded clay that was beginning to dry, he was finding it difficult to stay cohesive and form a shape. The very words that demanded he made bedfellows of both his women, were freezing up in indecision in his head. Maybe, the thought had teased him, it is time to let one of them go.

But which one?