Friday, July 30, 2010

Evening

My friend and I were at the Barista at Bandstand the other evening. It was around 8 o’clock. We had just about managed to book bus tickets to a place and were broke. So broke that we had no business deliberating over vertiginously layered concoctions of chocolate and cream. But there is something about a dense, monsoon night by the sea that makes you feel rich. Lush. Giddy with the prospect of abundance.


My friend ordered a chicken puff and a cappuccino. I got myself a cup of ginger honey and a banana muffin. We munched our food quietly, watching little frills of foam kissing the rocks. Slowly, two big jigsaw pieces of clouds shifted apart and a tiny star shone through. It looked like a sweet little starfish that had gotten washed up in some celestial shore. It twinkled up there, alone and afraid. Then there was a strong gust of wind. Another large plank of cloud slowly moved in and covered the pretty, shivering starfish.

Sometimes, I think, no matter what it is, everything is the sea.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

It was all there in the fine print

Reached home late last night. Woke up late this morning. Okay, not so much late…but lat-er. Overslept a sinful ten minutes. Missed the office bus. (This bus is a strange entity. It demonstrates annoying punctuality when it’s raining like crazy. However, on days when cupids and angels are prancing about on tufts of cloud, the bugger is always delayed.)


Now, my choices are either a BEST or an auto. In either case, the wait promises to be long. Soon enough, though, I get an auto-fellow willing to take me to Marol. I settle in, take out my book (The Carrie Diaries – not too bad), and read. Or at least, try to. As we go through Asalpha and Ghatkopar and other places with scenic ‘War of the Worlds’ collision landscaping, I realize that my auto-fellow is anti-life. His and mine.

Several times, I clench my teeth and shut my eyes. When I open them, I am disoriented. I imagine that I am dead and yet, still in Asalpha. That is a very depressing thought, by the way. I could write a script on this – Asalpha being a sort of hell suspended in eternity – a vision the MMRDA has substantially contributed to. Then maybe I could sell it to the makers of ‘Final Destination.’ Hollywood, my clever mind reasoned, would be interested in Ghatkopar and Asalpha. Think about all the effort and money they’d save on computer graphics. All this rubble and fissures are for real. My multi-million dollar reverie is punctured when the auto almost topples over. Its ambitious, intrepid driver was trying to overtake a truck, a bus and, for good measure, a gamboling cow.

Later, after I had used up some of my good karma to stay alive, my auto fellow screeched to a halt. I had reached office. I got out, shaking a little bit. I paid the fare and just stood there, trying to get my bearings right. He sped off. That’s when I saw the sticker on the back of his auto. It read: ‘Aaj ki taaza kabar.

I suppose I had been warned.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Happens

It was midnight and she stood in the rain, wearing pink. She tried to pin up her frizzy hair but the mushroom-colored clip was too small. A Sumo whizzed past, dunking heavily into a puddle near her. Grimacing, she stepped aside. Her chartreuse skirt was splattered. She looked around for a safe spot, amidst the Hades- type potholes. A few bystanders glanced at her and walked on. A man in a yellow vest, spit next to her and scurried away when he realized she would probably shove him.


She settled down and folded her arms across her chest. It was late, after all. There was a bustle, of course, but she would rather be home. In the couch. In her bed. On her terrace or in her garden or in her kitchen… brewing a cup of orange-cinnamon tea to wind down for the night. Any place, where this wet, cold aloneness didn’t cling and swirl around her. Or drench her little by little.

He’d be coming soon. That’s what he’d said a half hour ago. To be fair, it wasn’t his fault. Saki Naka in the best of times is a place best avoided. During rains, it takes on the fullness of a Russian novel misery. Her body ached and her throat hurt. She felt a dry, parched fever snaking up her bones. She looked to her left, willing him to come faster. She looked to her left and started crying.

Life hadn’t been tough, really. But it had been life, nevertheless. Difficult to please. Nothing was ever enough. If she gave it every single minute of her day, it squeezed out some more. If she gave it every ounce of her energy, it shaved off slivers from somewhere and gulped it down. She was tired and lost.

Her friends and family had been good, but distant. She would’ve liked for someone to get closer – to get too close for comfort, even. But no-one was willing to take the chance now. Not after the way she had lashed out a few months ago. She had expected people to be stronger. Not snap and break at the hint of a little temper. That was the problem, though - she’d expected.

Expectations seemed to be tricky things. Like skis. It’s not like no-one else had expectations. But they clearly knew what to do them…ride them and go gliding down slopes. She, on the other hand, tumbled into a heap the second she put them on.

Her eyes had started burning now. The throat hurt some more. She could feel the fever line her clothes. She was so tired. If she didn’t sit in the next few minutes, she’d buckle over. Her mobile hadn’t rung yet. Where was he? Involuntarily, she sobbed and choked and scared a wet mongrel away.

There he was. She could make out the faded silver stripes on his light blue windcheater. He was trying to weave in and around trucks. The poor guy really was trying to reach her as fast as he could. She cupped her palm to get a handful of rain and wiped her eyes.

In the next five minutes he was there. She sat on the bike, handing over her bag so he could put it in the front. He revved the bike, but went a couple of metres ahead and stopped. He turned back and talked to her. She beamed…like it was summer in the valleys. She chatted… like it was a high school slumber party. He leaned closer, trying to catch on to every word that was getting drowned in the thunder. They high-fived a little later and he drove off. He was happy, so happy to be with her.

In a week, his friends would ask him what he’d seen in his future bride. “I’ve always seen her smiling,” he’d say.

In five years, she’d think why she’d left her husband on a Tuesday afternoon. “He was never around when I cried”, she’d remember.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Unbeckoned

It floated past


like a gilded rose

My life beyond

The pond that froze

On a summer evening with tangled storms

With leaves of night, with sheaves of thorns

It comes back now

On broken wings

Bleeding blue

Yet it lightly sings

This memory of a forgotten time

With unswept mess on the floor of rhymes

A purple petal in a room of ice

With cinnamon flutes and walls of rice

Where madness had made such a mess

But that room, too, once housed a ‘yes’

A ‘Yes’ that tipped the moon and sent it falling

A ‘Yes’ that lived it all when life was calling

Now it lays down quiet near a frozen pond

Staring up, looking beyond

It lays down quiet while its heart still sings

Of gilded roses and broken wings

Monday, July 05, 2010

It makes sense to me now

This is a time of incredible beauty in the city. For so many months in the year, we are parched and wrapped in withered, old, soul-less paper. Sometimes, though, we get glimpses of purity here and there. But these are  fleeting. One spends a second beholding it. Many months after spotting such a moment, we speculate whether it is to be part of nostalgia or imagination.

Then it rains. Skies get grey - so grey that everything with a little smudge of color swells into a globe of its own. The wind gets wet - so wet that every stray piece of aching loveliness gets stuck on to it, the way drenched leaves stick on to car windshields. The sea gets high - on power that you can hear in its deep, sonorous roar...on joy that you sense in its interminable little heaves breaking onto rocks. And the mind gets full - full with analogies to explain everything there is, was, and will be.

Last few days, I have been going around the city a lot - mostly by train. That's my favorite way to travel, by the way. During the other seasons, I have always looked up at the skies, or far beyond, gazing at the hazy blue shimmer of the horizon...the point where you wonder if that is indeed the edge of the world. I wouldn't fix my gaze on any spot close by, for fear of spotting three kinds of muck, or seeing spots of brown, rotting acrid crusts of earth. But lately, everywhere I look, there is green. Lush, healthy, green. The color of life green. The color of joy green. The green of force and exultation and openness that goes 'Yes!Yes!Yes!'

I see that green wrestling through tight cracks in walls. I see that green braid itself around rusty scraps of iron. That green, sometimes mossy and velvety, spreads like roguish charm over portions of gullible ground.

Then, I am reminded of how much rain and ground is like love and heart. You live with your heart for so many years, thinking that you know it so well. You think, "I  could never do this", or "I'd do that in a second". Sometimes you see people almost getting eroded in their capacity to feel and you wonder, "I don't think I have it in me to be that way."

One day it happens. You love. That love pours down unbidden - not knowing what portions of the heart is restricted area. Not caring whether it's supposed to be curbed and measured. And then, the swells of green come out. You are surprised, of course. For as long as you'd known your heart, you hadn't seen it. It lay hidden in the crevices, or dormant underground. Out of sight. Beyond comprehension. Your twinges of jealousy. Your urgency of giving completely. Your conquest of someone's smiles. Your submission to someone's tears.

I feel funny - when I look out the train and see all this green everywhere, glossy in the rain. The rain did not bring it to  the earth. It just brought it out from there.

As it is with rain and the earth, so it is with love and the heart- only when it comes your way, do you realize that you had it in you all along.

This is why, I feel, we all need the rain. Love would be quite incomprehensible without it.