I finally publish

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Stain on my notebook ... And coffee in bed

Staying overnight at her place was the rarest of luxuries. It hadn’t happened many times. But the first time he did, he hadn’t slept too well, rubbing her shoulders distractedly every few minutes. And she’d slept curled in his arms with eyes that even when open spoke nothing but of secrets hidden safe.

Waking up early, he’d made coffee and taken it to her, willing her to wake up. And she did. The coffee sat undrunk on the table while he made love to her as if he hadn’t seen her for eons.

The other time, he’d waken up to find her missing in bed. With a panic that refused to be curbed, he’d almost leapt up to rush out looking for her. But she was in the same room, sitting on her armchair reading.

Noticing the movement, she'd looked at him over her book. And as if continuing a conversation that had been suspended, she’d read to him in clear tones words that rang true in the musky night from Musset.

“All men are untruthful, inconstant, false, chatterers, hypocritical, proud, cowardly, contemptible and sensual; all women are perfidious, artful, vain, inquisitive and depraved." She must have skipped a few lines for the pause was a thoughtful one. "But there is in the world a holy thing and sublime, and it is the union of two of these so imperfect and so dreadful beings.”

Pausing she’d looked at him through eyes softened by the sincerity of the words read. In her voice, proud and arrogant led by knowledge of acceptance, she'd read on.

“We are often deceived in our love; we are often wounded and often unhappy, but still we love, and when we are on the brink of the tomb we shall turn round, look back, and say to ourselves: I have often suffered, I have sometimes been deceived, but I have loved. It is I who have lived, and not an unreal being created by my pride and boredom.”

And with perfect knowledge of imperfect mankind and in their superiority of knowing and living life in terms that scorned the weakness by a name called love, they’d made love again.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

I finally found someone

I see him watch me. Cats. Pay them attention and they'll never be yours. Like many women. Like some children.

He slips off the sofa where he till then sat, beside the only woman in his life.
He climbs in beside the brown suede I sit on. How fickle love is.

Unmasked attention after a long time. The woman in me revels in it, noiselessly though.

Let me get it for you. I walk into my room to bring something that I just promised.

A shadow. And another one trails behind.

Opening my cupboard, I rummage through it.

Are you married? My other shadow asks me.

There is a conspiracy, I am convinced.

Do I look like I am, I want to ask. I realize its not a question he can answer correctly. Or even appropriately.

I shake my head in the negative. No.

I find what I want. But the conversation isn't over yet. I pretend to search still. Fossicking, yes.

"Will you marry me?"

That's a first.

I smile at the clothes. Only they can see my amusement.

Why do you want to marry me? I have to know.

"You look pretty."
His reply is nothing but genuinely superficial. But then, maybe that's all there is to it.

How old are you? I ask my only suitor.

"I turned 5 in November."

Hmmm...I always had this thing for Scorpios.

I bend down and looking into eyes that see no more than what's in front, I ask. Will you grow up soon for me?

Does that mean I should eat well?

Does that mean I shouldn't cry?
Not too much, yes.

Does that mean I can't watch Pogo?
Of course you can.

I am not too demanding. I don't want to chase away my only knight who's too young to even climb onto a horse.

My beau thinks I am worth doing it all for. I see the admiring look hasn't vanished.

Giving a quick look-over at my wardrobe, I hear him say, "You have very dull clothes.”

And, “I like red."

And then a few seconds later my-husband-to-be-in-maybe-twenty-years says. "You should show me what dress you wear everyday. And wear it only if I like it."

They're always men. They learn it young.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


‘I have something to show you’, I whispered excitedly to Mu. Grandma.

Whispering was fun, they made things seem more exciting than they usually were.

Lifting out all the neatly folded clothes I’d never wear that summer, I took out my secret for the year.

A black and white poster of Jim Morrison. The Christ stance on the cover of ‘The Best of the Doors’.

'Who is he?', Mu playing along, whispered back.

Handing over the poster to her, I whispered the name that made my stomach turn somersaults inside.

A reverential silence.

'He’s so thin', said the woman who was my grandmother.

'He’s almost naked', said my grandmother who was a woman.

I laughed. Mu who’d seen men wearing fewer clothes than Jim Morrison actually saw his nakedness.

Running her hand over his body, Mu paused when she reached his nipples and blushing she let her fingers run the full course till the end of the poster. That’s how he affected the white haired 60-year-old woman in my life.

'Do you want to hear his songs?', I asked her.

That’s how she heard The Doors, the round band of the Sony Walkman sitting ridiculously on her head, like a line of black flowers marching towards nowhere.

It was sinful, such music to ears that had heard nothing but songs of devotion. I blushed on thinking if she ever understood what he was saying, how horrified she would be. But maybe she did for she blushed too.

Laughing to dispel the blush, we both put up his poster on the dark side of the wall in my room that summer.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The blue taste of rain

I never carry an umbrella. I know you don’t too.

I should have known better. We talked like there was no tomorrow. There really was no tomorrow.

When I walked out of the uniformly frozen room and found the air outside swollen pregnant with the rain, I ran down the stairs.

You never accepted my silent love. You demanded words. Jealously. Tantrums. But I never could act.

It was an unexpected summer rain.

When you told me ever so casually that you’d found a friend, I’d pretended the same nonchalant casualness.

The earth devoured the plump, wet drops with unbecoming eagerness.

Of course I was nice to her. You should have understood I didn’t like her.

The dust settled down with a sigh. Defeat. Acceptance. Maybe even approbation.

I saw you kiss her. I never told you I did.
That’s when I stopped loving you and began pretending to. I scorn your foolishness.

The imperfectly perfect drops touched my tired body.

You stand waiting for me without an umbrella. I despise you for pretending to love the rain because I do.

I dismiss the myth of tear shaped raindrops.

I also dismiss the myth of true love.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The curious incident of the broken vase

Shimmy chechi was the most beautiful person in the whole world- at least to me. I'd grown up believing so. I still do. Graceful, pretty, talented- she was to me the perfect woman. Nothing I could ever hope to be.

I'd never stepped foot inside a beauty parlor in all my school years and college except to cut my hair. And that usually happened after my mother made a mess of trying to cut it.

So when chech asked me to go with her to the parlor, I was more than willing. I've spent hours doing things I detest with her- shopping, parlors and what not. Around her things were always different.

So we walked into the parlor and she sat on the revolving chair that makes me think of the dentist.

'Yes mam?' the lady asks.

'I'd like to get my eyebrows trimmed', she says.

They are already perfect. Now I realize what it is to work on perfection. 5 minutes later, they become perfecter.

Looking at her with absolute adoring eyes, I say, 'Wow'. She smiles at me.

Looking at her eyebrows, I ask, 'Chech, do you think I should get mine done?'

If she is surprised, she doesn’t hide it.

'Why not!'

'Do you think they'll look good?'

She's kind enough not to tell me that they'd perhaps look less awful.

'Sure. Am sure they'll look really good.'

It took hours or 10 minutes. People passing outside would have thought they'd passed a labor room. The pain! Excruciating! No, not even the time I fell flat on the ground from the first floor of a house! But well, I was unconscious then.

Wiping away tears that refused to stop, I look at chech.

She should have taken to the stage.

"Oh! They look great."

I smile through my tears.

I am handed a hand mirror.

I hand it back hurriedly. I'd seen enough.

Getting back home, I sit down with an ice pack on my eye.

He-who-should-have-known-better walks in.

"When did you join boxing class?"

I scowl through my tears.

"But what happened?"

That's when I burst into tears. Crying into his shirt, I make irregular stains. I watch the material absorb with alarming rapidity the salty drops. He's horrified by now. Gruesome thoughts flash through his head.

I sniffle.

"Don't you see anything different?"

Apart from the cuts above my eyes and red eyelids, nothing much I guess.

He-who-knows-a-woman says carefully.

"Which parlor did you go to?"

I-who-should-have-known-better reply.

My head on his shoulder and comfortable I hear him say.

"It looks very good. You look nice."

I smile. "Really?"

"Yeah. The facial's made your face brighter."

That's how the vase was broken.
He was responsible for it.
He shouldn't have ducked.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Uncelebrated Expectations

I was born not without expectations of course. Thankfully mother hadn't read Great Expectations. Not even the title. Hence like everything moderate in her life, expected quite a healthy child and one that would know how to find his worm. Nothing more.

I took some time coming out. It wasn't deliberate. I was just lazy and very early at that I guess. I wasn't one to go in search of better things when whatever was, wasn't bad!

But rejection is one of the earliest things we learn. Before acceptance.

When the warm bag of viscous fluid threw me out, I fell fluttering and clumsy into the world. The birth.

Then came growing up. The rest of the birds of the same feather I knew, did what everybody did. Grew up. So did I.

I think it had to do with all the tragic novels that my mother heard the farmer's wife read aloud in the warm kitchen that she sat everyday while I grew inside her- cheerfulness was never my forte. I delved and splashed around in the pool of unpleasantness. Splashed would be more than fair a word to describe what I did. Waddled morosely would be more apt I guess. Walking around morosely and sighing often on tabescent, tiny shoulders was me.

Who wouldn't, who'd heard those stories of depression, dysphoria, struggle and treachery of vile humans!!

I was thinner than the scrawniest chicken in the farm. I wasn't bad looking I guess. People always gave me a second glance. Well, it might be in amusement, at the tiny little bird that walked around as if carrying the weight of the whole world, that made them. But I bet they haven’t read 'Notre dame de Paris' and heard Quasimodo's crime which was being born.

Maybe I was a humbug. But well, I wouldn't want to discuss that.

Food was never important. My mother in her unimaginative life taught me how to fend for myself even through the farmer's wife was kind enough and more so- not absent minded enough, to give us tiny waifs food. But I knew where to find food and if you'd cared to come out and look, you could have seen me pecking away dejectedly at the tiny bit of rye bread that was always available. Many a days I went about without eating.

Food repelled me often and anybody knows that a well brought up gander wouldn't throw up on his food.

And I grew so, tall and lanky- all skin and bones. My mother had other children and having taught me all she knew, moved on to cluck over her latest offspring. I never knew a father. He just wasn't talked about.

It had to be so. It couldn't have been otherwise.

I'd seen the farmer's wife look at me thoughtfully the last few days. Looking at her through suffering eyes that knew not what suffering was, I gave her a hurt and resigned look before walking away.

Yes, it had to be so. It just couldn't have been otherwise.

They came looking for me. I wasn't one to put up a fight. There never was a reason to have fought for before.

Survival. My legs automatically kicked and struggled.

Taken to the kitchen, I was placed on the stool that stood almost as high as the fat shoulders of the farmer's wife. Holding my neck, forcing open my bill and shoving a long metal pipe that reached all the way down to my soft stomach, food was forced down my throat. Choking and sputtering I threw up several times. I guess my mother failed in making a gentleman out of me as she always wanted. I wouldn't blame her though.

The hand on my neck was relentless. Food was more repulsive than ever. Shame isn't it, what one eats to survive ends up in killing some others?

Four weeks of overfeeding. Four weeks of waking up each day to wonder at the deeper meaning of life. Or even death. Or worse still afterlife, being served at a smart New York restaurant, in crystal plates, which are soft, white and warm.

The death.

I died at the beginning of the fifth week. Having understood what life, faith, integrity, honesty and everything that actually mattered was, in those 4 weeks than all the years I lived. I guess it is but natural that you move on to the next step after that.

So death it is.