Monday, December 7, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
i got a new place...will be moving in by november 1st. i cannot even begin to explain how relieved i am by this development. although it has slightly overshot my old budget, it is well within my new one. :p. and friends, setting up your crib is not easy, trust me. i am one of the most minimalistic persons but even then i am finding it difficult to figure out what i need and what i don't. of course the mater and the pater are coming over. and all my thinking alouds have been misconstrued as actual future events and everyone is harbouring different ideas and generally confusing one another including me. so yeah...till i actually move in this is going to be the scene...
i met a ghost from the past... brought back a lot of surreal memories. at times i wonder whether i am beginning the cycle again. i seem to be what i was some time back. physically and mentally. i know it sounds strange but the only newness in me is a strange kind of calm that comes with bitter experience. my earlier calm was more of a serene kind of calm and not one of those - been there felt that - kind of calms. maybe i need to tap all those things i did which made me feel light and positive and strong. is it a regression? no. i was afraid that it might be. but i am now convinced that it is not.
and no... im not taking myself too seriously. i am only disconnecting myself from me and watching the changes that are happening within me. it is like coming out of your body, sitting in a corner and watching yourself do stuff, say stuff and react to stuff. :-) and i am liking what i am seeing.
Damn...what have i written. Tch...
ok the other day, i was at my maasi's place. and suddenly the bell rings. i open the door. i see the backs of sardarji boy, friend 1 and friend 2. sardarji boy turns. he goggles at me, gaping mouth and all. and he mutters... "26th...coupons....dinner....150 rupees....garba....". Friend 1 runs a hand through already tousled hair and gives a broad (very attractive) sheepish grin...Friend 2 has an agonized expression on his face...he looks around...(nahi dost...there is no hole where you can go and hide)...i burst into uncontrolled laughter. sardarji boy is even more confounded and has now forgotten why he rang the bell. friend 1 (sheepishness all gone) laughs with me (saala gaddaar)...friend 2 is now turning a shade that could only be described as dark pink...
well can i blame them....? i mean, what would you do if a vision of loveliness was to answer the doorbell....? Hmmnn?
Saturday, September 19, 2009
he is muslim and for the past 2 days a very beautiful happenstance is happening with us...as in with the team.
yesterday was sheer madness. another colleague of mine...i'll call her... Songbird... who is a proper food junkie came to work all hungry and exasperated (cabbie had apparently taken her for a ride...). food, she declared...i want food...and the choice was made. SAMOSAS... not one but 2 each. so that happened in the morning 11:45 ish. after 2 samosas...a lunch seemed slightly discomforting but we did taste some tidbits...
then came evening. what to eat? what to eat? and SRK announces..."break roza with me today..."...ooooh...what a super idea! and i still remember how the stalls overflow with food in that area of our city. Oh my God... it is phenomenal. the variety, the colours, the flavours, the textures, the aromas... such a small stomach and so much to eat. bhajiyas, pakodas, mini samosas, shaami kebabs, naans, ragda, kachumber, falooda, fruit salads....sighhhh!
6:40 pm he said. the time was 4:30. 2 HOURS. how those 2 hours passed only i know. and when the time arrived, we heard the magrib or is it isha (not sure) from a distance. it sounded like divine music to our ears. SRK smiled at me. i smiled at Songbird and Songbird smiled at Shoutfest (colleague number 3). yayyyy....time to stuff our faces. we went upstairs and sat down and ate to our hearts' content.
you know something, i don't think even SRK after his whole day of roza would have waited with such anticipation for the break as we did after our 2 hours roza. and when we sat there... all of us huddled over the overflowing paraats...damn... i felt one with SRK and im sure so did Songbird and Shoutfest. that little sharing of food brought us all together and at one point we all felt that even we should have gone through the niyat ceremony.
the same thing happened today. i'm eating so much. it's not funny. but it feels so good when all of us sit with SRK and eat and pray for him as well as ourselves. it's super beautiful. i still remember him mentioning with a smile (after he'd finished eating) ... "and now off with the topi and on with the dandiya...". he's a dancer so...yeah...he's gonna go dance for the Goddess too... :-))) how much we've gone through as far as our respective religions are concerned. yet when it comes to simple life events all barriers are broken and oneness is achieved.
and i am so glad to be a part of this pure, simple ritual because in a day of turmoils i feel so full of peace when i sit down with the rest of them and .... eat. :-)))))
Thursday, September 10, 2009
then bhandup arrived. and i was asked whether i had to go west or east. and as usual i didn't remember. so i said west. again as usual...i was so wrong. so i did a 'wise' thing. i called a colleague and asked her whether it was east or west. i could hear loud guffaws in the background. OH WELL...SO WHAT???
i told the autowallah...go eastwards, my dear man... and he shook his head. his face expressed many emotions. frustration, helplessness, resignation... i mean...can't blame him, na. he was riding forever. oh did i forget to mention...it was raining and the traffic was SUPERMEAN!!!
then he said (i represent a translated version here. but it is verbatim): "please don't take offence, but i have been watching you. you have been staring into space and thinking. the entire time. remember one thing, there is no point in thinking about something that you're never going to get. in fact it is an utter waste of time..."
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
…quoted a wise man. Did he suggest that I do the same? I don’t quite remember, but that is beside the point.
There is this boy I know. He is young, very young. Every time he looks at me, he quirks an eyebrow and gives me a lazy half-grin. And my heart skips a beat. If I wasn’t governed by the child protection policies then I would have just grabbed him and kept him with me till eternity. And he speaks to me about his experiences at school and about the fact that he finds math a little tough…and all this in that laidback lazy manner which is so signature him. At times I feel that if everything was fine I might have had a son like him. Sigh!! Of course I will have a child someday…but you know…so I listen to him and I gaze into his face and capture all the expressions that flit across and animate his oh so incredible features…and then he abruptly ends the conversation and says bye and goes away. And I smile for the rest of the day. J
The context here is the fact that in the work I do, we tend to see a lot of things that are not normal. Our children are survivors. And at times it gets difficult to resist the emotions that tend to overflow inside the heart towards a particular child. But you are then forced to hold back and be strong. Not just for the child, but for yourself and for the cause too. The trick then is to strike the correct balance between attachment and detachment. Hmmnn…
Monday, July 27, 2009
and aren't we all like that. no matter how old or young , a hug or a caress is all that it takes to fill us with a sense of contentment.
i went to colaba causeway yesterday. we took a pitstop at this place called piccadilly. it's this lebanese/iranian restaurant that makes very tasty food and reminds you of that Planet Food serial where they featured Lebanon. such a pretty little place. and then we came out and all prettiness vanished. there was this really black, looming sky above us and the moon like a sickle blade waved menacingly. the sky was really incredibly black, i don't know how. not a single cloud to mar the blackening effect. extremely chilling. if it wasn't for the hustle bustle and the lights, the scene would have been quite scary. i mean imagine the gothic architecture of VT station and the municipal headquarters with all those gargoyles, with this sky and that sickle-shaped moon in the back-drop.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
We were rooted and speechless. The nature of the violence was extremely clinical, sadistic, remorseless. Have you felt so nauseated that all you can see in front of you is a white sheet. And all you can feel is your head whirling. That's how i felt. He came back. We decided that if he touched her again we are going to bash him up. But he came back, held her head in his hands and wiped off the blood. I don't know what else he did because by then I had walked off.
All this in front of a police chowki - WHICH WAS LOCKED- and in broad daylight. Well, we are going to do about the police chowki being locked. But you might ask, what about the woman? Why won't we do anything for her? The answer to this is - we have tried to intervene in the past. But the women have lashed out at us and asked us to mind our own business. That was between them and their 'aadmis'. Despite this we took the decision to bash him if he hit her again.
EVERY SINGLE WOMAN that I have seen here has some or the other indication of violence on her body. At times it is self-inflicted too. I am confused about the way these women define a relationship. I mean they take utter crap from men whom they are eventually going to leave. It makes them so damn vulnerable. I know, i know - pot calling kettle black, blah, blah... but, hell!!!
Friday, June 12, 2009
Monday, June 8, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
At times I wonder whether I should pen down an anecdote or just randomly scribble whatever words appear behind my eyes. You know, in that space which we feel is somewhere in between our forehead and backhead. And there are many words floating there. Not just words but line chains and paragraphs and phrases…so many unconnectednesses and so little space…I love it when thoughts flip flop around me. You are at one point and suddenly something radically different and absolutely disconnected with the previous thought dances before you. And then I’m left wondering and wandering among these thought-mazes.
At times when I close my eyes I see a blueness around me. Blues of various hues. Transitioning from a light tint to an intenseness that has an aweing depth. Suddenly whites emerge out of these blues, swirling, twirling, ribboning. Thick bands entwining around the blues and creating a massive abstractedness that’s aesthetically marvelous and breath-taking. Maybe it’s an ocean. Maybe it’s a billowing blanket. Maybe it’s the sky and the clouds. Maybe it’s nothing.
At times I wonder why there is so much of happiness and cheer tinged with a deep sense of the greatest grief and worthlessness. When my children smile and laugh with an abandon that speaks of a freeness which you and I would absolutely envy; I am left stunned with the realization that this momentary freeness is just a façade and behind it lurks a bondage, an imprisonment that will follow them till they lay themselves down to rest forever.
When I was at the piano concert listening to Tchaikovsky, Schubert and Schumann being performed with an artistry that was magnifique, my eyes closed on their own and the sounds of music filled me with an immense sense of peace. It went tinkling like bells, and the feeling was akin to loving fingers caressing soft skin. So much power there is in purity! Power to transport you away to a space and a land where everything is sparkling and perfect. Where everyone is beautiful and there is no ugliness of any kind.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Why is sweet not smelling sweet? Why is it cloying the senses? Why does it make me want to cover my nose, in fact every pore of my body, so that the bad smelling sweetness does not enter me? But this is how it is every day. Every single day. As I walk down the street from work, cross the intersection, walk down another street and then get on to the main road. That sweetness follows me everywhere. And it stays with me when I am back home. It lingers on when I am trying to catch the truant sleep. It flows into my dreams, permeating into every second of it. Where does it come from then, you would ask me. It comes from the women’s bodies. I asked one day, why do they make themselves smell so sweet? Is it to hide the other odours? Is it to hide the smell that emanates from their exploited bodies and minds and souls, a smell which haunts them all day, all night even? There they stand on the street. In a line. Dressed up like mannequins. Human mannequins. Bright red gashes for mouths, mascaraed eye lashes, pinked up faces, sequined gowns (for God’s sake). Women just like me. But not ordinary like me. No way.
And what happens to the air after dusk settles in. After the sun decides that he’s had enough and he spews liquid fire, burning the horizon. (Have you ever seen the sunset when the sky’s on fire…??? This is a song by Kenny Rogers called Evening Star). Where was I? Yes…when dusk settles in, something in the air suddenly changes. You can feel it. You walk down that street in the morning then do the same in the evening. And the metamorphosis will startle you. The most insensitive of senses would sense it. There is a crowd all around you, its rush hour, but strangely no one’s ever in a hurry over here. The crowd moves slowly, it’s a rhythm that’s almost hypnotic. Moving slowly, biding their time. Time. Can you believe it? They are not rushing and pushing each other. Time is actually on their side out here. Is this Bombay or is it a parallel space chunked out from the body of the city and placed aside? A place which we would shy from. A place that has a place of its own, cut off from everything and everyone, yet very much a part of everything and everyone. Very much a part of what everyone finds dirty, taboo, disgusting, cheap, horrendous, frightening, diseased…
“Welcome to Dreamland,” says the cabbie to a firang looking person.
Monday, April 6, 2009
I am a man who was known in the circles as one of those grim, grouchy sorts who would brood and mope; who would think twice before smiling and then finally decide not to smile and who always had the look of a thundercloud, an anomaly that did not bode well for his already dark appearance. Women found me intriguing because I was one of those ‘unsoughtables’. I wonder how I managed to ward off those wily, debauched, conspiratory advances made by females of all shapes, sizes, ages, colours, accents and intentions. I then proceed to marvel at the fact that in face of such perils my good sense prevailed and I escaped unscathed. But then that was to be expected of me. I was after all an intellectual, a well-read professor, a seasoned traveler and an authority on several disciplines. Reader, I perceive that you are smirking. You may also harbor the notion that I am a self-glorifying, arrogant bigot. But believe me, I am not what you think I am. This is a mere pose. A façade. An armour that protects me from all evils. You still smirk disbelievingly. Hmmn…let’s see if what I am about to recount can alter your reaction.
My expansive knowledge on several branches of science won me invitations to innumerable gatherings, be it academic or social. One such purely academic gathering took me several miles away from home. Hence it entailed an overnight travel coupled with at least a week away from familiarity. Such transitions tend to bring with them a feeling of impending doom. You may think that this is a rather weak foundation to build my fear upon. But imagine, reader, traveling all those miles in the dark, where mists rise like funeral shrouds and trees devoid of leaves resemble shadowy shapes, half human half corpse-like, empty branches stand stiffly like outstretched, paralyzed limbs, and gaping black holes on tree trunks seem like open mouths screaming noiselessly. This noiselessness is scarier than the loudest of all screams. The unknown unseen brings with it a deeply penetrating, raw fear because it gives the mind the liberty to conjure up all kinds of unwantedness and leave you at its mercy. And yes, I too am a man who has his share of momentary weaknesses. But I am also a man of science. A man who harbours rational thoughts and is a skeptic when it comes to certain unexplainable occurrences that do not have any scientific premise to unravel their explanations.
Several of us were traveling together and an animated discussion ensued regarding the house towards which we were headed. Apparently there was a strange series of events that unfolded in that property just the day before.
“I am ready to lay a wager that it was a ghost,” she remarked with a wicked glance at me.
I stared at her with a deliberate, blank look. She was beautiful, dark, like me. Her lips never smiled completely. And that lazy half smile with the sharp, darting looks from those smoky black eyes would definitely have felled a lesser man. I continued to gaze at her without saying a word. She stared right back at me unblinkingly. A mistimed query from a colleague compelled me to look away. Her triumphant smile literally had me boxing the questioner’s ears. I consoled myself with the knowledge that there would definitely be a next time.
We reached the house. House? It was a mansion. And there it stood with the black sky and the moon like a backdrop prop of an unfinished drama. Wispy clouds hung about the turrets like torn silks and the moon gazed sadly at us. She seemed to sigh heavily and her breath swirled around her like a grey veil. No lights welcomed us. No human being was in sight. The sombre air seemed to spear the chill from the atmosphere into our souls and we huddled deeper in our coats. She stood close to me and I could feel her tremble. (Reader, I am a tall man and I tend to look down ‘on’ people. Figuratively speaking). And I looked down ‘on’ her. She was afraid. All the bravado had vanished. I decided to let go off my customary resistance. I put an arm around her shoulders, gathering her close to me. I knew that this gesture of mine gave her comfort.
An instant later we heard a loud, melancholic cry. It sounded like a child crying out in agony and it echoed into the night. We stood still rooted to the ground. A sudden movement and a black cat rocketing out of a nearby bush had us literally down on our knees thanking God for small mercies. We decided that enough was enough and trudged towards the gates of the mansion. It seemed like a cue because suddenly the doors opened and a herd of people (servants all of them) poured out. Lights came on miraculously. Everywhere was chatter, action and commotion. I felt strange. Surely they knew that we would be reaching at this hour. Why weren’t they ready for us? Why were we made to wait? And why did their smiles seem forced? Maybe I was reading too much. But I kept adjusting the collar of my shirt and twisting my neck, because I felt extremely uncomfortable. Not with my attire, mind you, but with the scene that was being enacted in front of me. I was shown into my room by one of the butlers. A man whose formal demeanour was stiffer than my starched collar. He wouldn’t even look at me, but every move of his bespoke centuries of impeccability.
The feeling of unease was still inside me when I laid myself down on the bed. The room was richly furnished and spotlessly clean. Flawless as far as the externalities were concerned. But there was something embedded within the atmosphere of the room. Something cold and eerie. I closed my eyes and was just surrendering myself to sleep when I felt a cold whiff of air upon my cheek. As though someone had exhaled after swallowing a lump of ice. My eyes opened and I saw her. She was white. Unnaturally white. My first instinct was to demand an explanation. But I realized that she was floating in air like one of those curtains that are suspended from frames, billowing bodylessly.
“Will you?” she implored. Her beautiful face underwent an agonized distortion. And she vanished.
This was not real. There has to be some logical explanation for this. A floating woman cannot find her way inside my room and pose an enigmatic question like that. No. I refuse to believe this. But when ‘this’ occurred twice during the two ensuing nights, I felt that some step ought to be taken.
On the fourth night I waited for her. I would have been the happiest man on earth if she hadn’t come. But then I was one of those men who were neither happy nor lucky. There she stood, her silks and veils flowing sinuously around her. Her gaze imploring, her face agonized.
I sat up and asked her, “What do you want?”
She turned and disappeared inside the wall as though it never existed. Well, I had to use the door and I did. I saw her in the dimly-lit corridor. It was heavily carpeted with gleaming wood and grim faces imprisoned in frames glared down at us. I felt cold as I followed her. What was I doing? What was I thinking? She seemed to know her way well and she took me through labyrinthine passages. I was thankful for the cache of candles and matchsticks lying comfortably inside the pocket of my greatcoat. I felt a sudden sharp wind almost cut into my face. We were outside. I could see a little garden with shrubs in full bloom. The perfumes suffocated me. Roses, lavender, forget-me-nots and what nots. And then she stopped. Her gaze seemed to be transfixed at one particular spot on the ground. It was a newly made flower bed with a neat little border. She pointed at it. Something that belonged to her was obviously buried there. I looked around and found a shovel. I dug and I dug. The effort made me sweat, despite the cold night and the chilling enterprise. And what I unearthed still strikes terror in my heart and makes me break into cold sweat. It was a body. Her body. She had been stabbed. The shovel fell from my hands. I turned to look at her. Her eyes were red. They seemed to have filled with blood. And it over flowed like tears. Incrimsoned.
I am ashamed to confess but I chose this moment to faint and they found me lying there the next morning. My strong physical disposition brought me out of the feverish condition in no time. And I awoke to heated discussions on the murder, by stabbing, of the lady who owned the house. Her husband the culprit, who hankered after her property which was worth millions, tried to cover up his crime by burying her in the garden. But her restless soul clamouring for justice had triumphed in the end. I am relieved to say (albeit shamelessly) that the rest of my time passed uneventfully.
Can you imagine then, reader, what I went through and what I still go through (at times)? A skeptic man of science was singled out by the ghost of a murdered woman and made to unearth a ghastly secret. It almost reduced me to the level of those mediumistic individuals who commune with spirits from the other world. I was confounded and the only way I could save face was to transform myself into a brooding bigot.
But she saw through this. And today we are married. Happily married if I may be allowed to add. It remains though that we have confined ourselves to the crowded cities and never laid a foot in another mansion.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
He makes so much noise, at times I feel that I should probably ask his mother to go get his brain examined. There is so much of hyperactivity and energy in that little body, it stuns me. And this time it was a long yell that seemed a little disjointed. It started off from a distance got really loud and then faded into black. But as always, I tried to shut him out mentally. And I did. I usually do. So tonight was like every other night. A little bit of work, a little bit of food, a little bit of continuing with unfinished art, a little bit of music, a little bit of planning for tomorrow, a little bit of dreaming about nice things…and then sleep. Oh… did I forget to mention a little bit of late night ‘sweet nothing croonings’…??? Well … that too.
As the sounds of the silent night lulled me towards the first few laps of sleepfulness, I heard the wail. It was his mother and she was wailing her heart out. A continuous wail like one of those sirens and the scary similarity being that the wail was as dead and as unemotional as the siren’s sound. There was an eerie emptiness in it and it went on and on as though her mind asked her to not think but just WAIL. I could feel a block of ice in the place where my heart once used to be. And the chill started spreading slowly to every nook and cranny of my body. What was happening?
I rushed out of my apartment. Everyone else gave in to the same idea and there were quite a few of us outside, with arms folded tightly around us. Maybe there were blocks of ice in the place where everyone’s heart once used to be. We glanced at each other questioningly not daring to ask the question. Someone came rushing up from the floor below. His face had a greenish white hue, and he looked like he would vomit any second. We saw him fumble with his keys, and he somehow managed to open the door to his apartment and stumble inside. Then we heard loud retching noises and that just did not help us in any manner. Strangely we were still standing there, folded arms and all and still not mustering the courage to question.
Then came stomping angry treads and the looming form of this elderly gentleman who is a retired army general. He came up, back ramrod straight, walrus moustache in a state of quivering agitation and his eyes spewing fire.
“Rot. Sheer rot.” He growled. “Cable should be banned. Internet should be destroyed. Discipline. That’s what is lacking. In all of you.”
With this outburst he glared at all of us and we hung our heads in shame. Though why on earth were we being blamed and made to feel shameful??? None of us knew the answer to this one. Yet we felt ashamed. I’d had enough of this ridiculousness. So I went downstairs to see what the matter was. If only I hadn’t. Oh well…too late for if onlys. I went towards the direction from which the wails were emanating. Yes they still continued. It scared the soul out of me. The door to the flat was slightly ajar throwing out a bar of golden light on the black floor; light that broke and serrated sharply at points where it was obstructed by obstructions.
I opened the door cautiously and stepped inside. He was lying on the floor. His eyes were staring at the ceiling. He was quite dead. His mouth was open. The damned kid would have his mouth open even in death, wouldn’t he? But no noise would come out of it. Ever again. Why hadn’t they closed his eyes? And that mouth? Suddenly he turned his head and looked at me and his mouth opened wider. A black cavernous yawn which invited me to step inside it and lose myself in the cavity, in the space. My heart stopped. I took a step backwards and heard an agonized “OUCH”. It was the idiot from my next door apartment. He had followed me. Like he always did. Serves him right. I glared at him unapologizingly. And predictably, HE apologized – shouldn’t have come up from behind like that without warning, not a problem, blah blah…
I ignored him and went back up. I was a little worried about what I’d seen. I dreamt about dark cavernous spaces, free falling into bottomless abysses and shouting boys playing football. I had a restless night. And I woke up bleary-eyed, the next morning. Thank God it was Sunday. As the day went by I got bits and pieces of what happened last night. Apparently the boy was playing with the rest of his friends on the terrace and he had fallen off the ledge. It was the result of some juvenile dare. Hmmnn…that explained the disjointed yell. Coming from a distance, increasing in decibels and then fading into black. Seems a simple satisfying enough explanation. Then why was a feeling of doubt nagging me like one of those nails that start growing inward and continuously pierce the flesh till it gets infected and hurts like mad. Ok I admit. I was not satisfied. But there was nothing much I could do. So I forgot about it.
I went out for a walk. As I was coming up the stairs the door to one of the apartments opened and a face peeped out. I knew this lady. Her son was a member of the YELL GANG and apparently he had fallen very ill. She looked worried and asked me to spend some time with her. I went inside her son’s room and saw him lying on the bed. He was very unwell and his eyes were glued to the window. I followed the path of his stare and saw a huge tree with strong sturdy branches standing like a sentinel for what seemed like centuries together. After sometime of superficial chatting I left.
The next day was Manic Monday. Work, rush, crowd, racing against time, skipping lunch, quick little mini chats with Knight Eternal and my sister…I did all that and came back tired and ready to dive into sleepy oblivion. But it was not meant to be. A crowd had gathered outside the building. Everyone talking at the top of their voices, everyone talking at the same time. The data that I could gather from this cacophony was that all the members of the YELL GANG had strangely fallen sick and had succumbed to their illnesses. To put it crudely – THEY WERE ALL DEAD! SEVEN AT ONE BLOW!
Ok. THIS was certainly not normal. I walked up the stairs. I heard a patter of steps running towards the terrace. I followed the noise hoping to catch up with the running persons. And the noise grew louder, but why couldn’t I see anyone? I reached the terrace. I looked around. The terrace was empty. In fact everything was empty. Even the sky. No moon. No stars even. Just a wide cavernous wet blanket. Suddenly I saw them. They were all standing on the ledge. Every single one of them. Their leader THE SCREAMER turned and looked straight at me. And still looking at me he jumped, opening his mouth wide, cavernously wide and screaming noiselessly. The others followed suit. I stood rooted to the spot. I was paralyzed. After what seemed like a very long time I went back to my apartment.
A hyperactive kid like that would obviously feel bored even on the other side, wouldn’t he? He would then definitely want his friends to be with him. So he took them along. Was that little ill boy gazing at the leader who might probably have been sitting amongst the strong, sturdy branches of the sentinel tree?…
I still hear them screaming their disjointed yells each time they jump. Mental shut-outs have stopped working.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Days have merged into night. I can’t seem to find a difference between the two. I sleep at 12, wake up at 5 and I wonder how the day transformed into night transformed into day. I am smiling at the day transforming into night transforming into day.
This night was no different. I heard Chris Martin croon in that gravelly voice – “bones sinking like stones…” and I looked out into the Thane creek. I didn't see bones sinking and I thank God for small mercies. I saw mist. Like a white wispy billowing curtain rising from the black water. Edging it were tiny golden orbs in the distance. Here and there were crouched blackening bushes like those hunters who hide from their prey. I wonder why the bushes crouched like this. I looked at them and felt that they might rise any second and that thought chilled me. I looked away. A girl was staring at me. She was on the opposite seat in the train. It was one of the last locals and there were very few of us. Seeking solace from the fact that we were there for each other as the day transformed into night. Why is it that at moments of fear the mind thinks only of ghosts and rapists and accidents? Weak beings. That’s what we are. She smiled at me. I smiled back. Maybe she smiled because as usual I might have been jamming to the track that blasted my ear drums into oblivion. Andheri was round the corner. Literally. Literally because the track curved at one point and then straightened out into the station.
Like the whoosh that happens when a baby swims out of the mother’s womb the entire foetus of the train whooshed out into the platform and swam towards the entrance. Some patiently going with the flow. Others pushing and shoving and groping breasts, hips, thighs whatever they could lay their grimy palms on. Tired faces, thinking thoughts which if voiced might have been eerily same (who knows). Tori Amos was screaming now…"made my own pretty hate machine…” and she was so totally inside my brain that if it was not for that tickling nape I might not have seen him.
He stood there. Arms folded. Grey shirt. Black trousers. And those eyes. It bored into me. Into mine. The red and yellow lights in the weighing machine behind him winked at me. I looked at him and I looked away. Then I turned back. To test if he was still looking at me. He was. And all I wanted to do was to run away from him. More than him it was the stare. The eyes. Then imagine my sheer fright when the next night I saw him again. Same place, same clothes, same eyes, same stance, same stare, eerily same. Eerily same?? I felt a sense of déjà vu. This happened night after night.
What does he want from me? Why is he staring at me? Why can’t he leave me alone? Why am I seeing those eyes in my dreams? Who is he?
Something was terribly wrong here. This was not normal. Should I speak to him? I might have debated this at least a million times before I finally mustered enough courage to speak to him. Yes. I did speak. And this is how it happened.
I decided that I would stare right back at him and only I know how the blood in my veins turned into ice when I did this. Humid, sweltering Andheri station metamorphosed into Arctic Pole. Big mistake I thought when I saw him walk towards me. Very big mistake. Well, it was now or never. I had to get rid of this person from my life and now was the only chance.
“Please help me”…
What??? Did he say, “Please help me…?”
Yes he did, because he repeated it.
“Who are you?” I asked warily. “And what do you want from me?”
“You have to help me get myself cremated? You have to set me free.”
He was obviously on some major acid-induced high.
By now fear had turned into anger and exasperation. I said, “Look. If you want to continue like this I am sorry I can’t help you. Tell me properly what you want and if I can I will help you.”
He came close and said with a desperation that I’d never seen in anyone, “I am dead. I want to go back to where I really belong. But I need to be cremated for that. And they are watching me. They are following me.”
As though by reflex I caught hold of a passing girl. “Can you see him?” I asked. She stared at me. Maybe she thought I was crazy. “Of course I can see him,” she said in a tone that was a mixture of hesitation, mockery and … oh… let’s not get diverted. He could be seen by others. That meant he was not a ghost. That also meant that I was not one of those mediums. High five, God! Satan...up yours!
The realization hit me like a Mack truck. I remembered the Serial Pleaser and smiled. Wrong place, wrong time as always. Why do I space out like this? The realization was – HE IS THE LIVING DEAD. They are called zombies. I’d read about them.
I heard myself saying. “I can’t help you. Because I don’t know how to. And there are processes, special people who save someone like you. I’m sorry.”
The sadness that leaked out of his eyes was something that wrenched my heart. Like a black viscosity. I almost saw the thick path that it made on his face. Was he crying? No. He was not. Then what did I see? Did I imagine it? No I did not imagine it. He turned and walked away. Unlike me he didn’t look back. But like him, I was staring at his receding form. What was he feeling? He was dead and he was living amongst us.
Every night after that as I stepped out of the train and walked towards the entrance my eyes would seek him at that spot. I never saw him again.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Suddenly the lift stopped. And so did my heart. It was the 4th floor. I held my breath and then exhaled when I saw this girl step inside.
“Hi”, she said. Sweet voice. Cute girl. Fifteen, maybe sixteen. I smiled back.
“My name is Nirmala,” this was said with a slight lift of shoulders and a sidelong glance.
I smiled again and said, “I am Preeti. Which floor?”
“Uhmmm, the last one…”
“That’s mine too…”
We got out together. She turned to me and said, “I live on the 4th floor. Number 4001.” Then she smiled and climbed up the stairs that led to the terrace.
This happened for one week. I met Nirmala every night and the same routine followed. The mirror was removed from the lift since an over-enthusiatic child had decided to punch it. Injuring himself seriously in the process and also leaving me without a distraction from the fear factor. Scribblers ought to be banned!!
One day I had company. He was one of those people whom you know lives in your apartment block and you nod at each other. I was speaking to Nirmala and he happened to get inside the lift from the 5th floor. His sister lived on the 6th one and he often visited her. That night he gave me a strange look. Then he turned to Nirmala and gave her a strange look too. We looked at each other behind his back and grinned knowingly. Men, can be so pathetic at times.
The next night, Nirmala had something to show me. We were inside the lift and suddenly the lights went out. We were stuck. The red emergency light went on automatically. We sat down on the floor. Nirmala was bathed in a strange red light and I suddenly realized that she had pitch black eyes. No light in them. None whatsoever. Maybe it was the power cut. I ignored it. She removed a book from inside her t-shirt. It looked old and dog-eared. She gave it to me. I saw poems inside the pages. Very beautiful poems.
“These are beautiful, Nirmala. You’ve written them?”
No reply. I looked up.
She was staring at me. She was smiling. And there was light in her eyes. But the light was strangely black.
“Yes. I’ve written them. I’ve always wanted to get them published. Would you help me, Preeti?”
I looked at her for some time.
“Yes. I will.”
Why on earth did I say that? I really don’t know. But I spoke to a few people and yes I did get her published. Meanwhile we met every night. She was quite a bundle of mirth and mystery. And there was something very unreal about her.
The day her book released I got a copy. I wanted to surprise her. And I waited for her to step in from the 4th floor. She did as usual and I said nothing, but just showed her the book. She looked at it. She looked at me. Her eyes turned blacker than black. And she stood speechless. Suddenly the lift stopped. It was the last floor. The lights turned red. And no, there was no power cut. I wondered what was going on.
I looked at Nirmala. She stood there with the book in her hand. Her book. Her poems. She was smiling. And her eyes were shining blackly. She stepped outside the lift and went up the stairs to the terrace. Without looking back.
I walked down the stairs to the 4th floor. To number 4001. I rang the bell and a middle-aged lady opened the door.
“Where’s Nirmala?” I asked.
She stared at me and I saw a man, her husband, come and stand behind her. They stared at me. Nirmala’s only wish was to get her poems published. She tried her best but her wish remained unfulfilled. One night, five years back, she stepped inside the lift and went up to the last floor. She climbed the stairs that led to the terrace and she jumped.
I stood there and images flashed across my mind. That man staring strangely at me. Obviously he would. For all that he knew I was speaking to myself, for God’s sake. The black light in the eyes. The unrealness.
I have stopped using the lift.
Friday, February 13, 2009
And life also seems to be rewinding. It is scarier than shit scary. There is music, there is the reuniting with dark othernesses (well, I say reuniting, but maybe it was dormant and has risen up and uncoiled itself, like one of those serpents that wait and strike at the right second), there is poetry, there is novelty in work, there is also a kind of crippling responsibility (new place, bills, cleaning sprees, sob sniff) which can be quite hmmmmish but oh well…what the hell… [that rhymed…:-)]
Lots of things are on the agenda. All of them might happen, might not happen. It’s all right. If we get everything we want the fun would cease to exist in our lives. There should be a thirst for ungot things, a drive to get those things, a fire to fight for those things.
OH DAMN… I love life. I love me. I love the earth. I love the otherworld, the never world (so what…I love the idea of it, ok, hmph). I love the nature around me. And I truly truly love you!
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Two of us were going down M. G. Road. This was when Bangalore was extremely beautiful, with an unpredictably English weather where it would rain suddenly and where grey was actually the colour of the times. M.G. Road was resplendent with the boulevard and Plaza and the cafés. The year was hmmnnn… 1997. R (as she would be known from now on) was riding a Hero Puch and pillioning me. As we rode down, enchanted by the boulevard, we happened to see a vision of handsome manliness on the other side of the road. It was none other than Marc Robinson, fresh from the Alisha Chinai hit (damn, which was that one?). So the coincidence was that just the other day we had been discussing this man and reveling in the fact that he was a Piscean. And now there he was. In all his glory. R turned the bike in the middle of an ongoing traffic (and there was no divider on M. G. Road at that time, mind you). Horns blasted, people swore, abuses galore…but she went on mindlessly deaf, but mindfully focused. There we were on the opposite side parked, waiting and watching him. He came walking down. He’d seen all the commotion and understood what it was for. And as he passed us, his head was bent and there was an enigmatic smile on his face, waiting to break into a laugh. And all we did was gape goggle-eyed at him and watch him till he turned at one of the bends.
Three of us at Fort, Bombay. We were in the vicinity of SNDT. There happened to be this thela wala who was making chai and batata wadas. Hunger pangs were creating a bloody din inside our insides. So we thought we should capitalize on the presence of this God-sent solution to our gastronomical yellings. It also must be understood by all of you that we were at a phase where the dough was sparse to say the least so we had to make do with such alternative alternatives. So there we were holding kaanch ka glasses stuffing our faces with batata wadas (that were extremely delicious, by the by) and a car stopped right in front of us. The door opened and we saw this muscled leg encased in boots and wrapped in well-fitting blue jeans. As our eyes went north wards we saw a beautiful, taut chest and broad shoulders hidden inside this black t-shirt that seemed to have been sewed on to the skin till it became a second skin itself. Further north wards and we FROZE. Arjun Rampal. Yes, there he was. And we stood with chai glasses and mouthful of wadas literally transfixed. I mean, I remember I couldn’t even move. All I did was just stand and stare. Oh well, he smiled at us and imagine our chagrin when we saw Mehr Jessia on the other side of the car. She wasn’t smiling though. Come to think of it, she looked rather miffed. So… we saw him go and sighed at how cruel life could be.
I call it a foible. But in actuality it is these little incidents that make it worthwhile going through youthood and living it well. What not have we done when we were young. And how beautiful are all those experiences and events. Every little thing had an enchantment of its own and brought with it a wealth of memories that I still treasure. But if you ask me, I think I would do the same thing even today. I mean if I were to see, say … Ethan Hawke or Ajay Devgan, I might stand and gape goggle-eyed. So there. I feel all of us need to keep the child in us alive forever. Because the wide-eyed wonderment is a feeling that is so divine that it leads to nothing but a happiness that can only be described as pure.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
I met up with a few blogger friends. it got me wondering how we strike a connection over a distance which in some strange sense of measurement could be millions of kilobytes away. there is a feeling of onement and friendliness which is warm and cool...:p
at times one might feel weird doing such things but at the end of it, all that remains is a gladness that it happened. because some people whom you truly connect with and with whom you start on an anonymous level, initially, end up being true pals.
I love them...TOTALLY!!