Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Someday, an answer

This has been a tough month. It has had its moments when ecstasy and bliss have rippled through the wind. But there have been long periods of a lot of anguish and mountains of questions. Most pertain to relationships. Some pertain to the job. Some others pertain to direction in life. However, all of them seem to be tightly wound with a prickly bandage of 'Why me?'

I really am curious. Why do I go through what I go through. It's not a plaintive wail or a complaint or any of that. Yes, there were times when that question was all of that, but then no-one seemed to be listening. So, I suppose a change of tactic was in order.

I really would like to go somewhere...maybe the 567th floor of some glinty, imposing building. The walls of the buildings will be opaque and made of those really thick and strong fibre-glasses. These glasses will be filled with giant sting rays swimming around. If I stood outside the building, looking up, I'd see the building coated with an aquatic film of poisonous power.

Then I'd go up to the 567th floor and be ushered into a huge room filled with glass lilies. They'd be of various sizes, and each one of them will have something engraved on it. Maybe my observations on the rain, sea, moon, or child that I've made in my lifetime. There will be a large sofa swathed in thick, plush silk in white and pink. Behind that will be a painting.

It will look like an optical illusion at first, with little squares and circles that seem to shift as you stare at them. There will be bold strokes and strong arcs. I imagine that the colour scheme will have a lot of cobalt, white, yellow, pink, teal, and red. I will look closely and long.

Outside, the sun would set and the sting rays would turn an angry orange in the light of an evening under seige. They'd swim peacefully, quietly, while I try to figure out what I'm looking at. And when I spot traces of skylines, ships, and tumultous waves, I'll know. I'm looking at the painting of my life.

I really want that to happen. I want to get lifted over and above where I am now and just understand what's going on. I never liked non-fiction. Why did I suddenly get interested in them and now go through days and nights feeling disturbed with what I read?

I never liked men with clean shaven heads, but now...why does it bother me when they don't quite like me as much as I like them? It disturbs me when people don't quite get the glory that is me. (I have to say that a lot of people don't get that. Hair and gender notwithstanding.)

I used to have restraint and excellent judgment. Now, there is only the tough, fibrous resilience that comes to those who fall hard all the time.

I basically want to understand why I needed to get so calloused.

The night would pass. By the time it's morning and the first light of the day spreads across the folds of white and pink silk, I'd have got my answer here. In this space that is choked with significance as my afterlife nemesis.

On my way out, I'll take a final look around the room. And I will not be surprised to find that all the glass lilies have wilted.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

It happened one summer...

Summer evenings, winter nights,
And monsoon mornings gone,
Meeting, returning, and then departing,
Tomorrows dead before they’re born

Final days in an unreal place
That for so long had been home
For so long had been the light
Melting shadows of being alone

Footsteps finally tumbling down
Old, stained, rickety stairs
Footfalls treading yet again
Over velvet-like despairs

Empty eyes looking out on
Dark and empty streets
Counting types of bleeding hearts
When two wrong people meet

Tarnished hopes and rusty dreams
And hope that would stay a slave
In the empire of empty promises
Love’s loyal soldiers made

She clenched her fist imagining
That she still held his hand
She bit her lip and gasped for breath
Willing her heart to understand

She waited up until dawn
Remembering their first sunrise
But only recalled that when he’d walked out the door
She’d seen midnight in his eyes

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sparse, therefore memorable

When something is completely out of your life, you treasure every little bit of the forsaken pleasure that comes your way. In my case, it’s television.

I had done away with T.V. for a while now. The idea was to have more time for a serious meditation regimen, but that didn’t quite happen. I used to be out, strolling around Carter’s or Yari Road or Juhu Beach, instead of peeling through the layers of my deep, dense sub-conscious mind…which, frankly, didn’t seem to like the intrusion. So I left it alone and was out getting fresh air – and a whole lot of junk food.

So, now, whenever I watch T.V., stuff just seems to stick in my mind. Like pellets of chewing gum on the seat of a bus. Whether it’s a little ticker giving out numbers you could download ring tones from, or opticians who home deliver glasses or innocuous teasers of long forgotten sitcoms. It feels nice, although I am not sure how much good all this trivia is doing to me. Or my sub-conscious, for that matter, that wanted to be left alone in the first place.

But the other day, I caught the tail-end of a Grey’s Anatomy episode. I really liked a line from there. I’d like to have that engraved on my tombstone, should I be buried.

The episode ends with a Voice Over commenting on various statuses of relationships of its ensemble cast. So, there’s a scene of two people hugging and the VO says, “Sometimes, distances reduce.” There’s a scene of two people walking together in silence and the VO says, “It’s ironical that you begin to communicate when you finally shut up.” So on and so forth.

It ends with a lady walking into an empty home. She looks at a crude sketch of some stick figures and remembers her child who had apparently passed away a year ago. As she’s crying, her husband hugs her and she seems grateful for the gesture.

The VO signs off with, “We live and we die…and not necessarily in that order.”

T.V. is worth watching when you see this sort of stuff. And I believe I see this sort of stuff because I don’t watch it that often.

Friday, March 12, 2010

One thinks at night

Looking at the Jaguar showroom in Worli...those cars all sinewy and feral and virile.

Looking at Haji Ali in the light of the moon, with one strong lamp, lighting up a narrow path in the sea.

Standing alone in the midst of highrises, eyes blurring as they travel up lithe spines of architecture.

Counting cars that glide across clean, beautiful roads in smooth circadian rhythm, but paradoxically at night.

Waiters at ajuice centre wiping sweat off their brows, yet smiling and bringing you a napkin even when you're not a patron.

People waiting silently for a bus that doesn't turn up, and decide to walk home whistling.

Men getting into a sruffle, yet pulling each other out of harm's way when a car speeds past recklessly.

Scrambling across Bombay Central station, stopping to smile at an unexpected sight - a young, pretty woman in an orange saree selling eggs at 12:30 at night.

Rushing to get into a train...any train...because it is definitely way too late to get anything, and be proven wrong.

Looking at the surreal, gloomy, empty railway tracks that are stunning in a bizarre way.

Making plans to sit near the window seat because the train's going to be empty...but what do you know, a hundred people are already inside ...and a hundred odd waiting to get in.

Getting ready to say goodnight to the city, only to find out that it's too late. For some, the day has already begun.

And whilst all of the above was happening, one thought of what Voltaire said, "Some thoughts are like prayers. No matter what the position of the body, the soul is on it's knees."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Lunar

I always look at the moon before I sleep. It is usually so late into the night or so early into the day, that the moon is almost forgotten. It has already been the backdrop of whatever longings and yearnings people might have articulated earlier. It has probably seen lovers weep and children sleep and heroes sweep away webs of fear with fiery resolves. When I look at the moon then, it’s simply lying back. Tired, spent, beautiful – marking the night like the delicate welt on ballet dancer’s foot who’s just taken off her slippers.

The other night, the sky was black and wistful. The moon looked like a lady’s luscious lip. It was upturned and seemed to smirk at a world that didn’t have the good taste of looking up. I stared – at the part of my life I could see reclining.

Sometimes I wonder if all my days and nights have been scripted before. And if they have, then clearly it has been scripted by an impatient, creative person who didn’t like the idea of revisiting his work. My existence, many times, seems to lack finesse. It has all the raw stock of luminous and exalting oeuvre…but it falls short of that. It’s like, if my creator could have just gone back to his essay (that had the story of my life penned in purple ink), he’d have shortened a few sentences, re-arranged a few paras, or even deleted sub-plots that didn’t make sense on review. But he didn’t. He was just happy to have got it out of his system.

So, I am living a story filled with spontaneous, sharp bursts of creative outpourings. But no shape or theme or form. My creator didn’t have the discipline or restraint to be bothered with those. My existence is, I conclude, the product of a distracted, impatient mind.

I lay looking at the sky. The moon still shone with a very light salmon tint around it. I could see tops of palm trees sway, as if sweeping away excess of moon dust from the floor of the sky. Chipped, broken tiles of terraces winked and stillness shimmered on drawn curtains.

Somewhere, sometime, maybe a writer sat down at near a fountain in his garden. He thought of a time in my life, this night, and wrote.

He thought, “Hmm…on the 7th of March, we’ll have the moon look like a smile. It’ll be slender…and a little pink glaze over it will be nice. Wait! Does this sound realistic? Pink glaze over the moon? Never mind. This night’s for Mukta…she’ll buy anything. No worries there. She’ll be asleep. No, wait…that’s right…she’ll be awake. Thinking about the fight with her cousin. You know, I could make this the saddest day in her life. She’ll feel so yucky. But then she’ll feel good. Ooh! I think I can give her a little paradox here. Or is it irony? Or metaphor? Damn it! Why can’t I remember these things! Never mind. Here’s what it’ll be like…she’ll probably wonder about being rescued by some hero or something. He’s not going to come by then, right? So I’ll give her this moon that night. Maybe that hero will come later…she likes Nariman Point. Does she? Let me check my notes….oh yes, she does. So, she’ll meet her hero playing the flute in the rain. She’ll be wearing a pink dress, and maybe she’ll be carrying a book of poetry. Or he could be carrying a book of poetry. Flute? Poetry? Too much? Maybe I won’t give him the long, silky hair. Now, what poet shoould it be? Yes, she likes Byron. Or wait…was it Shelley…gah! Where did I note that down? Forget it! I’ll go for my swim now! Lovely breeze we have today. I’ll finish writing up her night later.’

And he never did. So, in all likelihood, the night of 7th March could have been scribbled on a scrap of paper and forgotten forever.

I like the sweet wistfulness of that prospect – of living a masterpiece that lies half-finished on a crumpled piece of paper.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Red, purple, blue, green, yellow...

There is a spoiler for Karthik calling Karthik ahead, so if you won't be reading any further, I'll wish you Happy Holi right here.
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I watched Karthik calling Karthik last evening. I couldn't stop thinking about how lonely Karthik's character was, growing up. His parents can't see his imagined brother. He keeps getting frustrated at being picked on. He must have been feeling abandoned every single time something goes wrong in his life and there's no-one to commisserate with him. How horrible must a man's reality be, that he's willing to flee it even though he is chronocally risk-averse. To feel that alone and hunted for so long in life.

That movie made me very sad. It's like a note on the dresser that tells you of the times we've hit the ground running to chase away our demons. And why we hold on to love so fiercely - real or imagined. It is, without exaggeration, our only chance at getting saved.

After the movie, my friend and I were having coffee. Around us, there were so many people. So many minds, with their own calculations and complications. Their own coping and defense mechanisms, their chinks in the emotional armour; their fears of shadows, their yearnings for the deep night, their endless wait for a dawn where they'll be free. There is so much of that around. It's overwhelming.

I thought of that all the way to Vashi, whilst a big, round moon followed me on the way home. It marked the beginning of a celebration where people will go out, laughing and happy, and smear color on each other's faces.

I find Holi ridiculous. But I realize that, in the thick, coagulated morass of emotions and thoughts that we seep in, face value is a precious thing.

Happy Holi, everyone. Keep it colorful. Keep it light.