Monday, December 23, 2013


There was a day two weeks back when I was told some forms of love are illegal; I thought what it'd be like to love someone, to touch him or her for years in secret places and feeling shivering magic run through one's veins and then being told one day that no one wants you to love that way, that people will tell you how to touch him or her, how to place your head on the side of his/her neck, how to look at him/ her after you are spent from hours of lovemaking on sticky afternoons...and when you have done what they have told you, just the way they want it; like it's not your body and his/hers but all of their bodies forcing themselves on yours, all their voices being pushed down your throats in long forced kisses down reluctant loveless mouths. Only then will they say you have loved, only then will you have really loved. I didn't have an answer to how it would feel, I don't know what it feels to be pushed to the other side of law because of loving, because of having one's own way to love.
I cant think of a thing more violent.
There is a library in Calcutta I went to and didn't know about the existence of its Delhi branch. Someone told me they are shutting down and selling off their stock. There is nothing sadder than seeing shelves of books with gaping vacant spaces in between stacks. This is a library that loved its books- neatly wrapping each book in clear covers, stamps that don't go overboard and issue slips that are cut to size and pasted without any damage. To see them parting with these just because too many people in this city have too little time to waste on reading, is perhaps the deepest pain I have felt in a very long time.
All books have stories that go beyond the print. In libraries one can literally hear them breathe; you touch them and you feel someone else's fingerprints on the leaves- left behind perhaps on a rainy evening beside fogged windows when there was nowhere to go, imprinted over tea with a little bit of the milk tea brown on the pages, as a keepsake. You turn each page and there are sounds of busy roads, terrible traffic jams braved through by casting one's eyes on the printed word, all dealt with from one seat in one corner- settled within canopies of permanent black, bubbled amidst the buzzing of the intoxicating fill of the vanilla like smell we have rubbed our noses against.
And to think that all this will go, into boxes and bags- shredded, torn and glued to hold grocery, to bleed into machines so that they can be rolled back into being nothing again, creates this mist between one's eyelashes that descends and pours out in silence. Some drops find their way into the letters- making love like there is no end after all, becoming at once the smell of vanilla and the taste of salt. Seeping into dog eared skin, locked in a kiss in its bid to be immortal and eternal.
And all I can do is say nothing when I hold my stack between my frozen palms, my shoulders drooping from the weight of stories.
I have known nothing sadder.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The First Born

To Pat and the other first born

The tug came first and then the kick
Melting everything into that one long morning retch;
You saw first with your new eyes and even newer lashes
Her insides red and dark like waves, rising and falling within its raw stretch.

She held in her a sea that moved
Taking you in its quiet, measured tides;
All her world that came rushing to you which you ate up in your gulps-
Dancing among the crests and troughs, moving as she moved sides.

There is dance that began in her and ended in you;
Breathed in bits of sky that came out in quaint little tunes
A long hurried wave of frenzies and tunes washed down by her waves-
She sang out low and sang out loud as your reds danced into her blue.

One day her song was too loud and the dance too wild
You shivered and opened out your digits she planned to touch and count.
Your mouth opened wide and spat out her blue-
Ears locked, eyes shut, feet refusing to dance around to that sound. 

The sound blue makes when it misses its red,
The sound red makes when its blue parts ways
The sound of retches, the sound of cries;
Sounds clocking the end of nights, sounds timing the start of days.

You tumbled through the dark no one had seen;
Glimmering in your all your reds- fresh and bright,
While bits of blue floated around lost
And leaked into feeding her nights.

Tears live on saltwater, on every bit she drinks;
Tears are meant to be held in seas and never seen.
And tides are meant to keep moving forever slinking in their own shade of blue-
Always managing a little dance danced to the reds that have been, reds bathed in her own hue.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

All characters insufferably imaginary.

She didnt have her camera that afternoon so she decided to memorise all of it.So she did.
The wall was the brightest shade of yellow and the curtains a dark green-failing miserably to keep the Delhi afternoon sun out. There were little beads of sweat lining his new haircut- his otherwise black eyes shone a translucent brown in the sun. There were old beer bottles kept on the windowpane- the green glass glowing in the sun and bursting out into the tendrils of moneyplants. "Epipremnum aureum", she remembered reading off the blackboard sitting sweating in a classroom a few thousand moons back- under a whirring ceiling fan, amidst the bustle of Tollygunge. The leaves-more green than yellow- tried climbing up the wall standing at a sharp contrast to the yellow. She missed her camera.

He read the menu with his eyebrows bunched together-like he'd be tested on his knowledge of it.She stared straight at his face noticing the dark circles.
"Vodka Lemonade," she thought.
"Vodka Lemonade. And you?", he asked.
"Pineapple Juice with White Rum."

The ugly bit was done away with while they waited for their drinks. Not very surprisingly, she didn't cry.She never did once the worst was over. He knew it was only when she feared the worst that the tears came and the fights got bad. Past that, there was only the tapping of finger nails on the touchscreen and the occasional cough punctuating the radio silence she was capable of gutting people's beings out with.On bad days, he'd do just about anything to dig a word out of her mouth. He remembered her telling him of the times her grandmother would tell her that she'd be a pauper if the government ever levied taxes on words. He wanted to ask her if the bulb in her staircase got replaced.

She had only begun to fidget when he asked her if she'd mind a smoke, he had forgotten his cigarettes in the car. They walked to the little balcony that overlooked the market- she lit one in silence, looking down at the cars that came in and went out in queues managed by the whistling of the attendants in orange caps. He noticed her chipped finger nails when she passed on the cigarette and she noticed how their skins touched for the last time. "A Parenthesis in Eternity,"she had called it when she described their first meeting. On someone's balcony, sharing a light one sweaty summer night because he couldn't find his lighter.

She took in the smell while they drank. That weird concoction of aftershave, iron, tea leaves,cologne and sweat laced with the tang of cigarettes. She will remember this more than anything else, she thought. Well, apart from the time he held the blower to the back of her head because her sprained shoulder wouldn't allow her arms to reach there, and maybe the time when he tried massaging the back of her neck and she exclaimed how bad he was. He remembered the way she'd move her lips in sleep- like she couldn't shut up even in her dreams. And he remembered the way she twisted her hair into a bun and threatened to cut it all off if it got any hotter.He never believed that she would. But that she didnt need to know.

She left very suddenly, almost as if she had forgotten something very important back at home. She said no to the constant offers of being dropped and drove back with a slight headache from all the drinking, and rushed to her cupboard the moment she reached. Running her urgent fingers through the pile of clothes, she found the CDs and the plates.
The only proof of the life that had burnt inside her in silence three months back-buried under layers of skin and blood, sometimes shrieking out in bursts of pain. She put them all in a big manila envelope.

This he didn't need to know.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

"What will you get me?", he had asked months back over one of those called-in meals of thick curried chicken and fat rotis.
She snapped back saying something he couldn't decipher with her mouth full, while licking her fingertips."Shit", he probably assumed.

Over the months, the meals grew lesser and snapping increased-only this time, it didn't end in bad druken jokes and his silly inebriated giggle but with either one slamming the phone on the other's face or with one spending nights staring at the ceiling waiting for the phone to buzz. The silence eventually got filled in with time and its usual melodrama- there were tears of course, and a lot of shouting till it was realised that there was nothing left to fight for, fight about or fight against. Everything was lost by then, everything was decided upon- that was your fault, this was mine; this is your shirt and that book is mine; this was much how much I owed you and you should pay me back for that. Life was being written off under columns again, distributed in sturdy boxes neatly labelled with a clear hand.
Traffic sounds, wedding party laughs, drunken crying, washing machine whirring, egg beating- they all took turns in filling up the radio silence that followed. Each doing its best to assure the person that there was really no silence left.
Her plane departed on time. The tears were really unnecessary, she thought. She landed in the new city and roamed around for days-stopping at a coffee shop here and eating a plate of Fish and Chips there. Then there was that bookshop which was nothing like what she had seen before- nothing like the sanitised ones with vacuum cleaned carpets and freshener scented air she was used to. This was a conglomerate of only shelves-with books living on them. Not books scrubbed clean to live their lives in alphabetical order, but books that breathed, lived and had time leaving behind its dust on them. They didn't smell of dead canned flowers this time but that musty smell that rides up your nose and and becomes one with every inch of your being- that one that tiptoes into your brain and reminds you of log cabins, rainy afternoons and cups of tea. She drew a line in the dust with the tip of her index finger and felt her blood rush to her brain. Her face was flushed and the hair on her arms stood on their ends as she felt a tingle ride down the nape of her neck.

And then she smiled. "This", she whispered.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I don't remember being this scared in my life. Of Everything and of nothing at the same time.
It is becoming progressively difficult for me to walk down a road- I am scared a truck will run me down, or I will receive another of those texts or maybe a phone call from someone who will say something I am scared of hearing.
Hurt is essential but I have realised that a lot of hurt is actually fear. Hurt is actually nothing but being scared with something you didn't expect. If I have cried the past week over one conversation, it is essentially because I was scared to face the consequences of it.
One believes because one is scared to be left alone, one talks because one is scared to be called socially awkward, one keeps shut because one is scared one will never be understood.
When exactly does all of life become a part of that scare?
When exactly did I stop running for something rather than from it? And when exactly did I let this sense of constant fear take over all of me.
When did all tears become about what I will lose and not about what I stand to gain.

Friday, January 25, 2013

This corner suited her fine.
Especially now that the rum was beginning to run its course not just through her veins but through the feet of the people whose heads moved together in a feverish unison to that song that would remain stuck inside her head for the rest of the night, or whatever little that was left of it.
Socially awkward would be a wrong term to use. She just did not enjoy being drunk with everyone, or so she liked to believe. She remembered a few nights with a secret smile- nights that danced into mornings without the hostel warden coming to know, nights lit with fairy lights shining yellow over their flushed cheeks.

Someone had finally changed the song- the feet had decided to go easy for a while, while two people tried their efforts at really close slow dancing and at blocking out the inherent cacophony of life around.

Thanks to the alcohol, she hadn't even realised when she had started singing along-more to herself than anyone else, the times when it feels like you're quizzing yourself on the lyrics of a song.
"Simon and Garfunkel fan?", he asked suddenly with an awkward tilt of head as he was walking past.
"Is that a rhetorical question?", she asked with a smile.

And right then, thanks to some wicked twist of fate ordained by some God with a pathetic sense of humour, some idiot changed the song.
They laughed. 
In a way only two people with too much rum in them, and each looking for their own corners can.