a love song…

the more i try not to think about myself the more difficult it seems to get. it seems that the mirror and myself are trapped in a wedlock. we look at each and wonder at the resemblance. wonder…yes. but i have been wondering at this for a while now. there have been instances when i have tried to break away from the suffocating look now but all efforts seem to go in vain. and the bastard staring at me doesn’t seem to make an effort either. both of us are in a state of stupor. or rather in a state of stupefied terror.

i am vaguely aware of friends and relatives around me. they come and go. but they do not get reflected in the mirror. i don’t know what goddamn make is it. or what goddamn angle it is that i am looking. there is no one else. just me…

i throw a look, mouth an abuse, spit…and it all comes back with all the brazenness of a mirror. and i cannot escape. that bastard always catches me unaware. i am sick of writing autobiographies.

who do i blame? am i cursed? or just blessed beyond a limit? blessings too hot to handle? if only i knew.

i am desperate for an escape. when the two are are engrossed in the horrible immoral act of mutual admiration…typified by the erotic (unending) climax of masturbation, i will escape…with you. i will leave that horrible bastard standing in front of the mirror unaware that i have left. it MUST be done when the two are staring at each other unaware of anyone else. unaware even of me. that way i may lose my skin. or may be even a leg. but that won’t stop me from making my visit. never to come back.

“Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question . . .
Oh, do not ask, ‘What is it?’
Let us go and make our visit.”
-T.S. Eliot

Advertisements

Since I am not really hitting upon any bright ideas (as I promised to some of my very dear friends) that can be elaborated into stories/plots, I thought I might just as well write something in this blog. Just for the heck of it.

My mind has been going a lot numb in the recent days. The thoughts can be characterized by the lack of them really. It’s not that nothing’s happened. The past 2 months saw 2 trips each to Bombay and Delhi. I met up with a friend…a very close one after 2-3 years…or may be even more. We had a swell time together. In the meanwhile, Sachin scored 200*. That’s a big deal really. And on the flipside, the job front got worse. I didn’t believe that could happen but it did anyway.

But with all this (and much more) happening my mind goes numb, still. Aren’t there enough things to think upon? On top of all this I have been trying to read a lot too. Then? I really cannot answer.

Other things keep happening. I realize that I have changed quite a lot as a person. Certain dogmatic systems of thought I have done away with. Certain changes in the mind are not that celebratory. But there have been changes nevertheless. But as a result, whatever I want to say nowadays is increasingly falling in the domain of secrets. SECRETS! Such a kiddish word! Very phony rather…or gossipy. But I have been like that for a while now. Yeah, I know I am becoming shadier by the day now.

But the problem is that I do have some beautiful secrets too. Anyone who is reading this (if), please do not get ideas. Let the secrets be secretive until you hear from me in person.

The problem (it surely has to be one since I really am not feeling great nowadays) is that what do I do with whatever little I want to say? I don’t want to tell it to anyone in particular. Neither am I looking for an audience. But otherwise I cannot write. I do not maintain diaries where I could have written for myself. I write for an audience…always. This is what Milan Kundera called graphomania. I, then, am a graphomaniac. And I have been trying to convert all the people I know into graphomaniacs too.

I have been trying hard to analyse my problems…or should I call them demons/ ghosts. Can I categorize them and hence, pin them down? Economic? Well, it has one answer…the loan. Social? I am a recluse (with a difference). Alienated from my surroundings, I am more or less well connected with dear ones not near to me. (courtesy the new media) This leaves my social being in a state of limbo which I guess, can be categorized as a problem. Well then…

Literary? This can be fun. Ummm…
…earlier, when I was a kid or even after that, I had the gift of description. A visit to the next room, a turn of the head, a pot bellied man in the C3 bus or more important things like a cloudy morning, a nice cool breeze, a peculiar style of walking etc. set my mind describing. I believe I had a novelist’s turn of the mind. Little details, observations and my remarks on them…would be written down furiously in the mind. This way I think I have written down a thousand novels. And many more short stories. Sometimes with a bit of inspiration from the gut, some poetry too. But all this in the mind.

Now things are a lot different. Nowadays I just get impressions. One day reminds me of another. One person reminds me of another. Or of the same one in a different and earlier setting. I just get a feel. That’s all. No words anymore. Not even a feel really. Some vague impression is all I get. The substance from all things seems to be gone. Just like that.

I have no intention of stopping to write now. But I guess Kanti (the one who cooks for us) has come and I want a cup of tea. And then may be fool around a bit. Or come back and blog again. So, long…

A Moment of Lightness

1

He had a damp dream. Not a wet dream but a damp one. The dream was of a past sunshine, of green meadows, of fenced courtyards. But the dampness came from somewhere. It did not emanate from within but covered the dream like a coloured glass that obstructs one’s vision.

He woke up. His alarm had gone off. He had to get ready. The dream had gone. Completely erased from his mind. The only thing that remained of the dream was the dampness.

A look at the watch showed that it was time to get ready. He had to go for work. But the watch was moving slowly. It wasn’t but it seemed so. This happened only during holidays. He could sense holidays without even knowing. The air hangs at the eye level, the hands of the watch move slowly when you look at them and the crows and pigeons gather at the window sill to tell you that they come there everyday and it is you who remains absent.

It in fact was a holiday. A Sunday actually. He didn’t know how he had missed it. But he had got out of the bed completely and decided not to go back. The whole week had been a busy one and he decided to relax.

Toothbrush, a visit to the matchbox bathroom, Maggi, dip tea, Gold Flake – his morning was all but over. He wondered what to do next.

Sitting on his bed and staring blankly, his thoughts wandered. He thought about the previous day. For the whole day he had been moving. From door to door, shop to shop. His job demanded that. All that had made him dog tired. A good night’s sleep had done him a world of good but the tiredness could not be done away with completely. It still lingered in his body as creases of comfort. All he had to do was stretch them out and swathe his body in a docile pleasant sensation.

He stretched out his mind. It was ages since he had thought in absolute terms. He was preoccupied with this and that. Even his thinking habits had started to need pillars to weave themselves around. He liked to think in a manner that was relatively devoid of ‘issues’. A relatively pure thinking. Pure…and dry.

A shaft of light drafting into the room caught his attention. Rather the dust particles basking in them did. He saw…there they were – the tiny ones. Lit with glory due to a window left slightly ajar, they illustrated the Brownian movement in front of him. He wondered who had given a name like ‘Brownian movement’ to a motion as lyrical as the waltz.

He kept on thinking. The space before his eyes, graced with the dust particles, suddenly came into its own. It seemed to remain there on its own…without any need to rest on the adjacent space below. May be the wistfulness of the dust particles gave him the sense of lack of gravity on that space. He felt relieved. For him till now the space before his eyes had been just a corollary of the space adjoining the floor. In fact it just lay midway between the floor and the ceiling. There was the floor and there was the ceiling. All the other things in the room were merely the ‘in betweens’. But now the space had a throbbing life of its own.

This suddenly induced a sense of lightness in him. A lightness that was the opposite not of heaviness but of dampness. The overwhelmingly damp feeling that he had got earlier in the morning had eased out a bit.

2

Mr. Kelkar and his family lived in the small one bedroom flat for 24 years. They i.e. he and his wife, used to live in a slum prior to that. He wasn’t particularly poor at that time. But renting a flat in Mumbai was out of question. After Mr. Kelkar got a raise in his job he decided to take the flat on rent. Children followed and the couple vegetated into a full grown family.

Mr. Kelkar’s not so spacious flat stood as a metaphor for the family. Not only had it stood around them but also for them. The youth and the middle age of the family was also the youth and middle age of the flat. Change of fortune for the family and the family members was also the change of fortune for the flat.

The flat’s changes of fortune were expressed through its level of dampness. Once Mr. Kelkar had lost his job. He had been implicated on some false accusation and lost his job on disciplinary grounds. The Kelkar family had fallen on bad times. The flat had become unusually damp at that time. The air used to remain heavy and the walls sullen and swollen. When Mr. Kelkar regained his job, the air turned lighter and the place drier.

3

When the Kelkars left the flat, they had left it very damp.

4

He got up and decided to help himself to some more tea. Then he started to while away his time sipping on to his tea, reading the newspaper and watching television – all at once. Sifting through the colourful ad filled pages of the newspaper, he spotted the news of a rebel attack on the police station of a small village somewhere in the northern part of the country. The village he belonged to was in the same district as the one mentioned in the newspaper. Even his village lived under the tension of the rebel attacks. But he had left all of that behind long ago. His father had died when he was in college in the city preparing for his competitive exams. Left were his stepmother – his father’s second wife and his half sister. His father never wanted to remarry. But he had to raise his child alone which became increasingly difficult. On the advice of the villagers, he remarried. But his son was not happy with the marriage. The new wife treated the kid well. But the kid never got along well with the woman.

When the father died, he took leave from his college and went to his village to perform the last rites. He saw his step mother remain silent throughout. One the day before his leaving, she asked him if he needed money for his studies. He hated to say yes but after all he had to buy the forms for his competitive exams. He reluctantly took the money from her. After that he came back to the city, cleared his competitive exams and got a job.

Yesterday, he had got a call from his village. It was his stepsister. The mother was ill and she needed some money. She told that they did not want to trouble him but they really had no other option. But how could he give any money to them? After all, he also had to live. Life in a big metro is expensive.

He told his sister that he would call them whenever he had money and send it across. The people at both the ends of the phone knew that no money was ever going to be sent. But an amicable albeit temporary solution had been reached. Both could keep down the phone without any awkwardness. It was a moment of lightness for him.

5

Mr. Kelkar had struggled with his career. He wasn’t particularly bad at his job but he certainly had been a failure in life. His children were big disappointments. More importantly, they were disappointed with him. He could not provide them with what they wanted. And to make things worse, he had to shift back to the slums from the flat.

Mr. Kelkar never wanted his family to be known by his name. He never wanted Mrs. Kelkar to be known as Mr. Kelkar’s wife. Therefore, he wasn’t authoritative. He did not impose. But his views did not liberate the family. They made him pathetic in the eyes of everyone else. His wife was ashamed of her husband’s lack of manliness. His children didn’t mind when others made fun of their father. In fact they participated. For them he had become an oddball who had to be studied, dissected and ultimately laughed at. Mrs. Kelkar, whose ties were more intrinsically linked with Mr. Kelkar, couldn’t take that liberty. But she secretly admonished her husband for being so unmanly.

Mr. Kelkar, on the other hand, also laughed at himself. He could study, examine and dissect himself as much as the others. But he took himself very seriously nevertheless. He had certain plans for his family but he wanted them to carry them out themselves. He had some financial plans for each of them but he did not want to decide for them. As a result, his wife and children took that for his lack of sense of responsibility.

Mr. Kelkar had shifted to the flat to give his wife a comfortable life. 24 years in it did see moments of comfort. But only moments. When the children grew up and started to venture out on their own, he failed to provide them with any capital. His savings were almost nil. A petty clerk’s life full of travel and tourism does not allow savings. He then decided to shift to the slums in order to save money. His children were not happy. But they did not resist. They were too fed up with their father.

The move back to the slums proved disastrous. Whatever little business that they had gained went away.

When the Kelkars left the flat, they had left it very damp.

6

He was happy. Crisply happy. The moment gave him a sense of isolation from the preceding moments. For long he had felt like a wet cloth. Wet clothes are heavy. He had felt heavy too. But all it took was a phone call and a shaft of light to dry him up.

7

Tughlaq.

8

Sometime ago…may be a couple of months…he had heard that there was a flood in his village. He felt sorry for his native place. A lot of the huts were washed away. He always felt that there should be some development in the village. But the people never raise their voices there. So, nothing happens.

He had also wished that his stepmother and his stepsister were ok. Sometimes, he did feel sorry for them.

9

There was a flood in Mumbai. That year saw the heaviest rainfall in the city. Some said that it wasn’t the rainwater though, that flooded the streets. Some say that it was the drainage system that was fucked up. There are issues of water level they say. That was because swamps and mangrove forests had been filled up for constructions. New houses, new malls. A brand new look for a brand new city. Mumbai, they say, is always new.

Mr. Kelkar died in that flood. He did not die of some waterborne disease. He just drowned! And he just left a bubble of air at the surface of water at the site of his drowning. A perfect dry bubble of air amidst a city in floods.

And his death wasn’t even reported.

Exile

1

It was a Sunday morning. Quite early in the morning actually. Unlike most of his other weekends, S did not stay awake during the Saturday night to ‘make the most of the weekend’. He was dog tired and therefore, slept off. And hence, here he was – nice and foggy winter morning, out there in the street.

S considered it a cardinal sin to get up from the bed early in the morning during winters. But the fog outside had been too inviting. Moreover, he had got a good night’s sleep and was feeling fully refreshed. He got up, freshened up, put on his clothes and his blue sweater and went out, cigarette in hand. Out there in the street (it was quite a main road actually) there were a few cars parked. Wet with dew, they gave the impression of being in slumber and loathe waking up soon so that they could enjoy the weekend. Mr. H D (S had no idea what H and D stood for) was out with his dog for a morning walk. S had no knowledge of dogs whatsoever. But it was of a rich variety, big in size, full of brown fur – the ones that tend to look down upon the street dogs (and bitches) except when they are excited. There were a few other people too, almost all of them out for morning walk. He knew some of them by faces. Then he saw his milkman arriving on his bicycle. He didn’t know his name either and had no idea that he came so early to deliver the milk. And far away he saw a few sweepers cleaning the dust off the roads. He sheepishly wondered who employed them.

Each drag in his cigarette was a pleasure. The smoke coming out of his mouth was doubled up due to the cold. He always liked the sight of a lot of smoke coming out of his mouth.

Walking, he was approaching “Preludes” (Yes! That was the name! It was the best restaurant in his locality, famous for its breakfast) and he felt good about it. A nice foggy morning, starting with a cigarette followed by a sumptuous breakfast – S uttered under his breath his favourite English word – ‘smug’.

He felt that he had entered the first page of a short story.

2

He entered the restaurant. S called for the waiter and ordered for lunch. He had had his breakfast in the same place earlier in the morning. Post breakfast he had gone back to his house and spent his morning reading and listening to music. S was fairly well read. He had no well defined tastes in reading. He often led his mood guide him into reading. The smug morning and his pleasant solitude made his mind wander. He had picked up a few travel books during his last visit to the hills. That was two months back and he had gone northwards. Since then he had all but forgotten about the travel books. They weren’t particularly gripping or fascinating to read but something remotely charming in them kept him going and by the time he finished an entire book, he started feeling hungry. Skipping bath, he came back to the same restaurant to have his lunch.

3

By the time it was mid afternoon, S had started to miss the morning. He wasn’t particularly fond of cloudy or dimly lit afternoons. He liked it warm and sunny during the afternoons, especially during winters. A sunny afternoon, an orange to devour and of course, topped by joblessness was his idea of a perfect afternoon. But this time the perfect morning did not give way to a perfect afternoon.

He picked up the same book he had read earlier in the morning and started reading the last chapter. Then the earlier one. By the time he had read three of them he was secretly hoping to see the morning again. Not the next one. But the one he had spent and had felt smug about. And he dared not to look up to face the inevitable. But he did as his neck had started to hurt. It was growing dark now. And chilly. Actually it wasn’t very chilly outside but somehow his bones were starting to sense the cold.

4

A letter had arrived in the morning when he was reading and listening to Bach. S wanted to finish the chapter he was on and then open the letter. But by the time he finished the chapter he had almost moved on to the next and forgot all about the letter. So it lay all day long on his little glass table.

The letter was a nondescript one. He opened it. And read it. And kept it back in the enveloped. His expression did not change.

It could not. In the morning he had entered the first page of a short story. The story, he knew, was about him. But it did not tell much about him. The story remembered nothing about him. H D’s name could not be remembered. His visit to the hills left him only a few travel books, the backward reading of which took him nowhere. The letter that he had read hadn’t come from his past. Hence, his lack of expression.

S knew the story. But the story didn’t know him. No one knew about him….who he had been. Even S had probably forgotten. But by instinct, he knew one thing that he may inform his story about. That he had been exiled.

The Scavenger’s Love

The vulture wanted to be perched at the highest (12)
And subject the world to its gaze (8)
The gaze of one who looks for the dying and the dead
Finds darkness in the midst of days

It wanted to feel the breeze ruffle its feathers
And the sun to shine on its beak
Its claws would be logged in to the bark of the tree
Watch life down below from the peak

Its eyes, sharp as they were, saw a child down below
Being tugged along by its mother
Young lasses and their young lovers
Strolling without any bother

Life as it is – saw the vulture before it spread
Life as it were, stood for itself
The eyes behind the beak used to seeing only death
They saw life standing for itself

Things could have gone either way now
Life could have risen from down below
Or death descend upon the green grass below

The eyes of the vulture
Began to see the heart pounding inside the carcass
The eyes that can look back towards it
The entrails those are not just to be taken out
The wings wanted to feel a breath that
Wasn’t its own or of another scavenger
The eyes behind the beak had fallen in love

A love with life
A love forbidden

“Then what happened mom?”
Asked the child
But mom wasn’t there anymore
To tell him the story
It was a stranger who continued
To tell
“The vulture swooped down from its perch
The dead cow had its belly punctured
While the sun shone on the beak
Rather on the blood on the beak
And the breeze ruffled the feathers
And carried the stench to more scavengers”

The eyes of the kid withdrew somewhat
Withdrew with grief
Or fear maybe
Or even disgust

But the eyes behind the beak still looked on.

I write as I am on the run
I try to fill up spaces with my words
And scrape some out with my pen
Where there are too many of them

But no matter how hard I try to puncture the surface
The ink doesn’t turn red