I finally publish

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Sunset in San Antonio

San Antonio. Chicago. Heathrow. Mumbai. Chennai. Pondicherry.

Pondicherry. Home.

After more than 24 hours of travel, lost luggage and a detailed frisk at the airport thanks to him for asking me to get Zippo lighters.

The bed felt hard and new, my room felt smaller and smiles were strained. The word here is jet lag.

Awake when everyone sleeps and sleeping or trying to catch some when my sister is awake is not exactly thrilling. Not possible too.

Christmas and a party. A tree and gifts. Even my mom got one. Santa must be very old.

I was handed a 3-or-around-there old year old, a plate of food and a spoon with a conspiratorial smile from the hostess and words from the same, “Practice session.”

I smiled wryly at my mother, “Well, am at least glad that people don’t put it past me that I can have a kid without having to get married. This is the second time that I am given a hint to have a baby ma!”

My mother pretends we aren’t even vaguely related.

I talk to a guy from France. He tells me he doesn’t feel too well. Falling ill in a strange country can be quite scary. I nod sympathetically.

“But if you promise to come and see me tomorrow, I think I’ll be better.”

I laugh.
My mom doesn’t look too thrilled.
I laugh some more.

Grandma-who’s-not-mine beckons. “Did you have a good time in the US?”

I take her soft and wrinkled hand in mine. “Perfectly lovelly”.

She giggles remembering her favorite movie.

“Next time you should go to Paris”, she tells me firmly and lapses into a reverie about her trip there last summer.

I smile an assurance. “Paris… yes.”

My friend shoots me a look that screams scrutiny. My mother catches it deftly and a puzzled look sets in her face. I give away nothing.

I am pulled into the dark balcony. “Lunch tomorrow. No nos. I hardly got to speak to you.”

Too tired to protest I nod a yes.

I stand there a little longer. Strains of conversation waft past. Rotund Bengali words. Rapid French sentences. English of varying accents.

Our Christmas ends. Somewhere in another country, in a far off land, it just begins.

Happy New Year and all that.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Bye bye blackbird

I must stop writing about him. Maybe another time…

Lying on the grass at Sheep Meadow in Central Park, New York.

The colors of fall. If alone loss was this colorful in life…

He rolls over on his stomach and looks at me. I am in deep thought. I am making stories of people who the only offense they did, was fall in my life of vision.

A couple looking through photo albums. Maybe a son they sent to war...

Two college students kissing each other taking occasional breaks to breathe and drink some water. Must be nouveau love…

He catches me looking at them intently.
A kiss and I taste the coffee only one of us drank.
Eyes lower instinctively and a smile at the corner remains.
Another kiss that tries to steal that smile away. It only spreads it.

Lying on my back looking at a grey that tries to steal the blue of the sky. Successfully.

I've been trying not to say them too long. I give in...

“Main aur meri tanhayee aksar yeh baatein karte hain.
Tum hote toh aisa hota.
Tum hote toh waisa hota.
Tum is baat pe kitna hanste.
Tum is baat pe hairan hote.
Main aur meri tanhayee aksar yeh baatein karte hain.”

He waits. I don’t oblige.

I like to hear his voice. It now says, “And it means…?”

I translate. Or try to. While trying to hold on to the beauty of the lines. The significance shouldn’t overtake the beauty, I insist.

“That was almost poetry”, he tells me.

“I wish you could’ve understood the original without my translation”, I muse lazily plucking at an unrelenting blade of grass.

“Maybe it wouldn’t have been as beautiful”

I realize, yet again, how foolish people in love are.

There remains only a tiny stretch of blue in the sky. Its like an unrung school bell, which tells us, go home.

Like obedient school kids, we pick our bags and walk out.
His warm fingers entangle my cold ones.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Indian Souvenir

I am creatively destructive.

When I actually put into words and time frames and names, things that so long I didn’t; I tend to destroy it all.

Take for example; I've never called him my boyfriend. Never my lover. Not friend.

He is all this and separately so at different contexts and periods and places. I like the namelessness and the vagueness of stuff, which allows the independence of thought.

But there are moments when he introduces me to his friends saying, "She is my Indian friend", that I get all ruffled.

So what does that mean, he has one like me in every nationality? I am but one of those pieces in his international wardrobe?

But I know that I am the only one reading so much into it.
He doesn’t realize what train of thought that careless line made me take.
Nevertheless I turn a little cold, a little distant.

He notices and asks, "Is everything alright?”

I lie, "Yes".

Somehow that lie actually makes it all ok.

I am on page 6, have been over a week. Moon-Tiger by Penelope Lively. Every time I try reading a few words, I hope they string together to make some sense. They don’t.

I sit staring at the night lamp beside my bed, plumped up 3 pillows under my head and look at the phone I never pick to make the call.

I am one of those countless modern women who have moved on from yesterday but not yet reached tomorrow.