I finally publish

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A bed of her own

Angeline Mary came into my life quite early. I wouldn't say 'life'. Threshold of it. Like in class photos. The girl who helped during school dramas to plaster yourself with cheap makeup lifted mostlty from older sister's make up kits.

She had no special friend. Like one of my friends said- Angeline Mary was everyone's friend and yet nobody’s.

Frankly, we never could believe anyone had so sweet a disposition all the time. Swapnil often would come to find her pencils sharpened when she'd kept them blunt to draw caricatures of our teachers. It was a tough task to stop Swapnil from what she threatened 'beating up' Angeline, but we were successful nevertheless.

So when she joined the same college as I, it was but natural that we huddled together on the first day while being scrutinized by fearsome seniors.

When we were allotted cots, it was but natural Angeline gave up her cot when they discovered that they were short of one. It didn't matter to whom her cot went. All that mattered to Angeline was that the shine on her halo didn't diminish.

4 years of Angeline again seemed bad. Especially when we were at a new place where familiarity meant best of friends.

I was the unlucky one to whom she 'gave away' her cot. This happened only because of my prolonged goodbye to mother whom I kept saying goodbye to, long after she was gone. Standing by the iron gates of the hostel, looking at an empty road with a few stray dogs and a car that stays only in front of your eyes; I was late on my first day.

That made a misplaced sense of guilt on my already guilt laden shoulders. First, I pretended to ignore her walking around with bed sheets and pillow in hand by staring studiously away. Or sometimes right through her.

But after most of the lights were turned off, I'd walk across rows of sleeping girls, looking for the lump that was Angeline. I always found her in borrowed beds. Maybe she was dreaming borrowed dreams...

Though she was later allotted a cot of her own, I'd see her walk around looking for an empty cot everyday.

For someone I thought wasn't worth thinking about, I thought a lot about Angeline. I'd see her wash her face everyday, squeezing the honey brown gel from plastic tubes of Pears. The smell of which would linger in the washed air saying, "Angeline was here".

She's wash her face every twenty minutes or so. The smell of Pears was forever.

Once over yet another late night talk, I remember someone sniffing the air and saying, "Ssshhh... Angeline is here". We'd discovered one of the sleeping forms in the room to be Angeline's, her freshly washed face making almost a glow.

In her world, in which hardly anything belonged to her, to even call her own- even a bed of her own didn't make much sense I guess.

It was the weekend when almost everybody went home. I hadn't.

When Angeline Mary walked that night with bed sheets in hand and her pillow, there was an extra bounce to her step. It was her day of choice. Not so many beds were to be chosen from everyday.

She chose the empty one near mine. I pretended to read my book… pretended to be thinking great thoughts…I was concentrating so much on pretending, that I actually started on hearing her voice.

I am not sure this happened. But it did. We talked. About school. Past ghosts of teachers. The skeleton in the biology lab which we were convinced belonged to Sr. Regina who went missing. Hangman's copse and the story that came down with it from generations of seniors. Friends. Acquaintances. Incidents. Angeline Mary knew every play I'd enacted in school. Every character that I'd exaggerated, getting into skins that weren't mine. Every story I'd recounted to open mouthed girls, drawing them closer with fabrics of fiction.

She'd held her sanity by belonging to what was dutifully others'. And she'd held it longer by not sharing her secret. She was part of a gang that excluded her. She heard words not directed at her. She played roles not given to her. And she never shared credit that wouldn't have been hers.

That night was perhaps Angeline's. And mine. Ours. To share but with ourselves.

Tomorrow was another day. We had our separate worlds. She would never be welcome in mine. And I could never belong in her borrowed world.

We didn't sleep that night. Just to share it a little longer.

I have it on my lost autograph book, that she dreamt the best dreams while lying on my bed.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

The begining

It rained the day I was born. An unexpected Libran rain. Kottayam Medical College found itself walked on by women with lifted skirts and men with their mundus hitched higher than the high it already was.

Mother must have screamed, her first and perhaps only emotion when concerning me. And I cried for I hadn’t wanted to be born.

After the many nurses touched me, cleaned me and handed me over with forced emotion to my mother’s mother. It was she who first held me. I’d fallen asleep in her arms, tired from my journey.

Taking one look at my not so pink cheeks and the lower half of my body that was wrapped snugly in a clinical white Turkish towel, she’d prayed that my father wouldn’t be too unhappy. The first born being a girl.

Father was too drunk with joy and alcohol. He couldn’t have cared less. He was a father. A product of his elaborate efforts at love making with his dark and passive wife. Perhaps he wouldn’t have to go through the act of sex with her after this. He hoped so.

Before handing me over to him, my grandmother had pinched my cheeks to make them redder. And I’d woken up to cry in protest. Through his red eyes, father held me uncomfortably and awkwardly. When placed into his hands that formed the most uncomfortable cradle ever, he looked at everyone around foolishly.

Already in a strange land, I was moved from place to place. I’d stopped crying because I was tired of crying too- yes, even then.

The last person to hold me was mother. And when she did I’d realized, she hadn’t wanted me born either. The hostility and hatred penetrated through the warm folds of the blanket and making an effort through all the fear I felt, I’d screamed; terrified.

How do I know all this?
Because I know everything. That’s the curse I am born with.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Many persons of love

Tell me you love me, I demand. An arrogance born with knowledge of superiority.
He shudders his love to me.

Tell me you love me, I moan. The words make the act more respectable somehow.
He answers. I believe in it because I want to.

Tell me you love me, I plead. Don't make me beg you again.
He obliges because he wants it done with.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Voyeuristic confessions of the eye

We'd kissed and with careless abandon. In front of people and not.
We'd held hands.
We'd danced.
Sure fingers that entwined suggestively.
Laughs that carried far in the summer wind.

I'd locked him out of the car only to let him in after he'd kissed the dust stained windows more times than I wanted.

Eyes. They watched.

Resentful looks. Envious and bitter looks that bruised us purple. They were the ones who married without love.

Lost looks. Bemused ones even. They were the ones who lost a love after they married.

Scornful looks. Dripping with contempt and disdain. They were the ones who were the infidels.

Shy looks. Bashful and coy, like a teenager. An innocence that will soon be raped of.

Sneaking looks. Warm breaths drawn back, lined with sidelong second glances. Voyeurism even when not from a secret vantage point.

All the people who'd watched us must have made love that night. Or at least had sex.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A summer kind of love

I look at him, he who is sleeping in the crook of my arm. No, not because he likes it there. Because I do.

Those perfect eyelashes that fan around those perfect eyes.

The traffic outside is loud. So are the voices in my head. Both clear and cluttered.

The unbearable heat of summer. And a summer kind of love. Seasonal. Strong. Potent. Leaves you exhausted. Very like the way we made love.

The clumsy fumbling of our fingers in the dark, cursing hooks and eyes and buttons and belts. The frantic removing of our clothes and shoving them aside...

The scattered clothes around us, a testimonial to the love we made.

His breath touches those soft hairs on the side of my neck. I stroke his hair. I hope he's having a good dream.

His breathing labors and turns into snores.

I cannot sleep with someone who snores. But I never sleep. It’s always the other person who does. I wait to pretend waking up. To leave. I always do that. Before the other does. They always do. So I leave before them.

He can snore. I will be gone with the summer.

We'd laughed a great deal that day. He'd said I need to laugh more. Makes me look younger.

I fondly wipe those tiny droplets of sweat on his forehead. I also wipe the fondness aside.

That tiny mole on the corner of his lips. One kissed a thousand times by me. And a thousand women before me. A hundred later maybe.

I hate them all.

He opens his eyes to find me looking at him.

Smiling he says sleepily, "If our children have anything but brown eyes, you're gonna be in serious trouble lady."

I hug him and tuck him into where he belongs. For now.

Maybe I'll stay this time.