I finally publish

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Don't turn and look when you walk away...

There is this place called Riverwalk where I live. A quaint artificial river that gurgles not… A few alive ducks that paddle frenzily and appear calm and collected on the outside. A few guys with Sombreros on boats that take bored tourists up and down... A few bridges that arch coyly and have couples entangled in each other... Musicians who played the same tunes with a blasé air… Petulance…

If you think I didn't like it-oh no. I loved it. It was so naturally artificial and no pretence about it. How can you not love something as charming as that? Slow lazy paces that took us towards nowhere… We weren't going anywhere anyway. But then again, you always are. Kisses at every five paces... I thought I would be shy. And so we walked. Talking too.

There are some people who you never think you'll meet again coz they seem so improbable in your life in the first place that you often wonder- did they ever exist. And you always hope you meet them again... somewhere.... sometime. And you are amazed when you do.

You are wrapped in circles of love- a hug that fits. It is special. You know its just right when you find your arms encircling the other and you close your eyes and take in the warm smell of the other person. You know you haven't been replaced when the hug lingers a few seconds more than it should. And it feels so short a minute. Unfair.

I looked up at him and smiled. The couple in front of us oblivious to everything around them.... He caught me looking at them. We smiled indulgent smiles at each other.

A few flashes and the moment captured forever. Instances that will remind me in years to come of a love that was almost. Of being near perfection only because it didn’t happen.

I wasn't going to ruin it. I never ask. I will never ask. That happens when you never get what you ask for. Its better this way.

His hands are in his pocket and mine are wrapped around myself. The couple in front of us enter an ice cream store. We follow.

"Your eyes still sparkle when you eat ice cream", he tells me.

And when they see you.

We finish our ice creams.

The day is almost over. He's traveled over a 1000 miles to see me. And all that distance has to be traveled back. Staying was never an option. I forget the promise to myself and ask, "Will you stay?"

At least one of us is sensible.

I stand on the grass, ignoring the 'Thank you for not stepping on the grass' sign.
He climbs into the car after a last hug.
This time I keep my hands to myself.

Monday, October 24, 2005

If this is love...

I wish the couch was not this long.
I wish your arms were longer.
I wish the movie was longer.
I wish I had another day.

The couch was unnecessarily long. Or maybe someone else should have sat beside me, on the other side. It would have warranted an excuse for moving towards you in an attempt at making space for the other. I did use the half turned television screen as an excuse and moved from one end of the couch to the center.

That was already very brash of me.

Maybe I'll hold your hand when we cross the street today. So we better go out.

I wish this movie was shorter now.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Another shade of blue

One of those days when a slice of memory from the past hits you hard. So hard that you realize it hits you the way it does coz you are so far away...

“Straight from Bengal. THESE madams are the original Bengal cotton sarees”, he beamed at us. Unmasked pride. “Unlike any others you get in South India. This is ORIGINAL”; drawling at original for emphasis.

Salesmen were common to our house. My favorites remained the bangle-man and the ladoo-man. Hushed squeals of delight when the wares would be opened to sparkling eyes. I would point excitedly at the colored glass bands and my mother would indulge in the whim. Red ones, blue ones, orange ones- every possible color of delight.

Silk saree vendors with yards of heavy cloth and arabesque patterns. Pearl vendors who would bring not only dull tiny objects that would roll in the hollow of your palm but also huge mirrors that lied, for they would make my fat and ugly aunt look almost beautiful. But only when you saw her in the mirror. The many pearls that often choked her neck did nothing to me except develop an allergy to chains. I never wear them.

“I don’t really like pearls”, my mother would politely demur. But she would say the right things when the rest of the people would buy terrible looking stuff which were colossal and ugly.

“I have too many silk sarees”, I would hear my mother murmur in dissent.

There never was a trace of regret. Quiet resolution. Strong. Unwavering. There never was a tinge of envy too. Her tone was and is something I have learned to imitate. To perfection.

But that day was different. I saw her fingers hover over a blue Bengal cotton saree. Hesitant fingers touching the material to find a defect that wasn’t there. To convince herself that it wasn’t as good as it looked like. Fingers that turned reluctant to stop touching it…

The saree wala with an instinct they all have when they know people are hooked, pounced on her. Classy. Would look bee-eau-tee-full on you. Elegant. Words rang. Amma seemed impervious to it all. It was a nice saree. I hoped Amma would buy it. I’d never seen her buy anything at all.

“How much”, she asked quietly. Her walls against temptation turned porous suddenly, I guess.

“350 rupees only madam”

Amma gasped. It was then that I realized that 350 rupees was huge an amount.

I guess even the saree wala knew it was huge an amount. He realized what I did not that day- it was too huge an amount for us. His interest wandered to my many aunts who were gleefully picking up magentas, oranges and purples. He even winced at one of my aunt’s selection and wowed it along with my mother- both of them sharing a conspiratorial smile. The prices went 300, 400, 600, 550… But 350 was huge an amount. Too huge. For us.

I saw my mother say the right things as always. Pretty of course. Oh, yes. Looks very nice and especially on you. Words she was adept at. But that day she was not at her best. Her attention wandered and constantly to the classy blue saree that no one wanted…

Many sarees were sold that day. Not the blue one. My mother must have been glad- I don’t know. I assume she was. She must’ve been…

The saree wala took a strange fancy to this quiet beautiful dark woman, for he said in a hushed tone against all the babble, “You can have it for 300”

My mother smiled a grateful smile, but shook her head in the negative.

“I have too many Bengal cotton sarees”

He smiled a knowing smile, taking in my mother’s old worn cotton saree, which stood in straight folds, starched with pride.

He wasn’t rich enough to lower the price any more and we were poor enough at 350 rupees being too expensive…

He bundled his wares after pocketing most of our family’s fortune, hoisted it up on his shoulders and walked away…

I ran after him. “When will you come again?”

He smiled. “Maybe when the young lady is old enough to wear sarees… and I sure hope you have as good a taste as your mother does”

I am old enough to wear sarees now.

He never came.

350 rupees is not expensive now. I buy my mother sarees regularly. But I’ve never found the shade of blue she wanted, the day 350 rupees was too huge a price to pay for a blue Bengal cotton saree.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Of cosmic laws. And a little dust.

I did glance at the tiny clock on my computer. The last bus would have just been missed. I continued listening to the silence at the other end. We are like that only. Most often than not, I hold the phone and work while he does too. Conversation starts and ends at 'Then what'. I've gotten used to working with the phone cradling comfortably on the curve of my neck and having him on the other end. Different coasts connected by a common silence over a telephone line.

'Ask them to be kinder to the door. That force hurts', I’d hear him say when anyone from my office would open and close the squeaky door near me.

I'd smile and continue working.

'Hold on. Let me get some coffee'.

'Do you want me to hang up?'

'Nah. Just stay on the line.'

A coffee and a bag of chips later, I would be greeted with an 'Am back'

And we would continue working our own different works.

But yesterday, we were talking. Words and all that. I didn't interrupt him. He was listening. Or pretending to. Didn't matter.

'Say, I gotta go. The last bus leaves in 8 minutes'

This would've been the point where I would be hurt, if I chose to. But I am agreeable. Not all that very though.

'My last bus left sometime ago'

A usual silence punctuates our conversation. It never makes me uncomfortable.

'I am sorry about that. Is it a long walk home?'

It’s always a long walk home.

I was walking a lazy walk home when a car pulled up beside me. It was someone from my office.

'You going home?'

I smile a yes. To help them understand, I nod my head.


'I have to drop him at the mosque’, pointing at another colleague. ‘It’s only a few minutes out of the way. Do you mind?'

I smile a no. Of course not.

The guy who was until then sitting beside the person driving, climbs out and ushers me in. He very the gentleman he perhaps he is not, climbs in behind.

A conversation that was interrupted continues. Ramadan, fasting and the people he’d met at the mosque.

The colleague, who was driving, plays some music.

I start in surprise. M.S Subbulakshmi singing a ‘Thousand names of Vishnu’. ‘Vishnu sahasranamam’

Two believers and me... Believers of what they believed in- god, religion or something on those terms... And I, as always, confused. I really didn’t know here, as I didn’t many things in life- what exactly I believed in. Whether I believed at all…

Two believers of two different religions and me in a car talking about Ramadan while listening to a thousand glories of Vishnu on an almost deserted road in the US of A.

It made me smile.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Wake me up when October ends

There is this song that's playing in my head all the time these days.

I've changed a lil bit here and there. As always.

There was this blog I once stumbled upon. I thought it was quite sad and the tone way too bitchy for me to take. It all of a sudden makes more sense to me now, this blog.

My whole apartment is crowded with bad vibes that have to jostle each other to find space.

My posts have become wails. There was this anonymous person who said he/she didn't like any of my posts. That makes sense!

Recount value. That's my selling point. I'm sure one of these days that seem to touch eternity, I'll sit to an amused audience and recount my experiences. The tone would be just right. There wouldn't be a banshee in my head then.

Something good did happen here today though. I woke up and walked into my balcony looking for the buttery yellow sun. Misty sprays greeted me. It rained where I live today. A small quick shower that was soaked in almost before it touched the dusty grey earth.

I ran in to pick up my glasses.

Things aren't so bad. It still rains.