Saturday, May 13, 2017

April Reveries

The melancholy of a forgotten bauble left over from Christmas in an abandoned room, the dust covering the sticky side of a half-peeled tape, or photographs on the wall bloating and distorting in these humid afternoons, of your absence chiseling into the air, concave shapes where your laughter used to hang.   Nature seems to be in a state of deep meditation. A hushed, almost frightening glory. It is not the bridal glow of colours and festivity but the austere, intense beauty of nunhood. The elegance of lines rather than colours, of slow marcescence rather than blooms, of echoes and modulations rather than songs.   The way back seem to have grown longer and petal-sprinkled. Shadows are cleaner, sharp, every tendril detailed over the road unlike the soft, smudged shadows of November. This is April - the month of screaming flowers - their loudness etched into the air, stabbing the eye. It is the season of sleepless nights, damp armpits, strange epiphanies, headaches and rotting fruit.   My weary bicycle creaks and crunches over the leaf-clogged ruts. The late afternoon sun turns the road into a silken ribbon, a light so bright that it tugs at my nerves. The quietness intensifies; broken only by the rustling of trees and a leaf-laden wind carrying the spice of April. Everything seem to be suspended in a magnificent pause. Silence swelled, brimmed like a held-back tear. Nature has become diffused and haunting. There is a stark, startling beauty of bare branches clawing the sky. Flowers eagerly wait to be gathered by the arms of the wind and swept up in a delirious gasp before floating down. The sides of the road are stained with a paste of crushed, decaying petals and leaves - a sweet, vegetal stench bringing back memories of a childhood so fleeting before coerced into reluctant adulthood.  I pause to gather the delicate seedpods of a Crape Myrtle tree (I am learning the names of trees), examine a slightly spotty leaf closely. It is the season of seeds, waiting to spawn, sprout and flourish. In the presence of that gently expanding enormity, that intricately connected web of plant life, plant dreams and plant time - I suddenly felt small. My life seemed too sudden, jarring, a rush in a crowded train from birth to death, a snap of the finger or a twig.   I wanted to wander inside this moment for an eternity. I wanted to adore the shape of things -the inner diagram, the core clockwork, the pared-down quintessence of a thing - explore that finest distillate, the pith that remains when everything else is stripped away. I want to examine the secret timbre hidden under a bark, the sigh under a pulse, a twitch under a jaw, the faint whisper resonating from within, the first synapse, perhaps.   Someone whistles, I hear a bike slow down. For a second sheer terror creeps into my heart. The road is rather lonely. I mentally test all possible defences that I have (screaming, imploring or using some kind of Sherlockian mind-game). Thankfully the bike moves away. I take off my shoes and cycle barefoot through the winding paths smothered with dry leaves. One of the loveliest pleasures of life is the feel of wind between ones' toes.  The bicycle squeaks on into the small, uneven mud path and then crosses the enormous water tank where the road becomes tarred again. I put back my shoes there. Bits of my sojourn clung to me for the rest of the day and eventually seeped into my dreams mutating into fantastic beasts and landscapes full of distorted mirrors.   April is the month remembrance. This is my letter to you. The crumbling cathedrals within my ventricles remember prayers of bygone times. A rusty bell chimes and I turn the echoes into hymns. I too have folded up; wrapped in the cloak of nunhood, shedding all festivities, shutting all windows, lowering the lantern for a pared-down existence in quiet despair of you. I have retreated into the hush of my cloister, waiting for you.

Curiouser and Curiouser

St. Foy abbey-church in Conques, South France is a fantastic architecture, built between 8th and 11th century AD, it was a popular stop for medieval pilgrims. It is a lovingly and quirkily built church with carved pillars, galleries, exquisite ceilings and arches all filled with scrumptious carvings of human and animal figures, strange creatures and angels. It is a feast for the senses- coils, convolutions, curlicues adoringly coaxed out of stone a long time ago. One particularly amazing carving is that of the condemned being eaten by a Leviathan and excreted into Hell. Although what happens to the virtuous is not too vividly portrayed, the tortures of hell are depicted in all its delightfully horrifying and splendid details. 
Compared to the utilitarian austerity of contemporary architecture, this church may appear as an extravagant, unnecessarily elaborate structure, built at a time where days moved slower and artists had time to manifest on stone, every detail of their imagination. 
What I found most quaint and whimsical among all the figures were those small sets of carvings of tiny beings seen on the tympanum. Known as 'Curieux', these figures can almost go unnoticed and they appear to be peeking at the visitors. The photo of this little one is too irresistible and touching because it seem to be existing for no reason than the whimsy of the sculptor and for the pleasure of the discerning, curious spectator. I wish I could meet the person who imagined this. It exists almost as a little inside joke, a small, dear secret, only to be passed along to a chosen few in every century. Oh, this ache. My little muse.

Image: Google.

Small. Static. Soft.

"Run your fingers through my soul. For once, just once, feel exactly what I feel, believe what I believe, perceive as I perceive, look, experience, examine, and for once; just once, understand.”
                                                                                                   __ Anon

With all this regressiveness, aggressiveness and downright stupidity that seem to be happening all over the world, I think it is time to announce that I don't identify as any gender, with any religion or race. I am but a harmless lump of cells functioning as an organism pulsating along through life in the most self-effacing, goofy fashion. If I have to identify as anything, then I am a sad, exceptionally inconsequential nihilist meme or the physical manifestation of a bad, slightly obscure pun.
I stand for "raw, unalloyed, agenda-less kindness", intelligent and informed empathy, that pause before deciding to lash out, to abuse, mock and destroy. I stand for that understanding that "speaking one's mind" is not an excuse for cruelly breaking down someone, of the importance of taking time to look carefully, patiently and critically and give a clear, precise feedback which is constructive rather than destructive.
In a world where increasingly people are forgetting to listen, where most opinions, arguments or suggestions are dismissed unless forcefully and powerfully presented, where too much importance is given to talking than listening, I stand for bringing in a culture of listening - careful, intelligent and deeply involved listening.
I stand for that sense of wonder that comes with the utter emptying of oneself, the total dissolving of every preconceived notions, assumptions or that sense of 'I' in the presence of beauty (of that odd, soft, crumbly kind), sheer brilliance (the kind I witness everyday from the young people around me), pure thought, a leap of imagination. 

Image: From Tumblr

Sunday, March 26, 2017

It has been a while. And it may go on. But now, here, we chose to pause. Picking apart the litter of pages, scattered entries, queries, and reveries. We despair, we puzzle. Somewhere the anchors and floats fitted too well. We became too comfortable; a numbing comfort - the comfort of a Band-Aid, a painkiller, a heat pad. While the wounds festered into a maggoty swamp that we ignored. Now there is only one way forward. A tiny wisp of an idea that is weaving into our heads. ‘Isn’t it awesome!” we are saying, in unison. That is the power of telepathy. For now, lets fix on the basics. Bliss, a brimming, dizzying glee, the moments - gathered and inhaled lovingly, the preemptive surrendering to all agonies and ecstasies yet to come, living so ironically that everything becomes transparent. We float like sniggering ghosts - our defense being our self-depreciating humor, our acceptance of our own shallowness, our brokenness, our inadequacies. How they loathe us! Because we cannot be touched. How can you kill something that is already departed? We invite you to the stabbing. Make it ceremonious, give your best shot, we are your punching bags.

Back to us. Let us meander; sauntering through the undulating anatomy of the city, bag in hand, becoming the gatherers of all the found exquisiteness.

Let us tenderly watch and fall in love with strangers, with overheard conversations, fragments of whispered stories, a name shouted across the street, a wave from a bus window, a smile not meant for us. Let us adore the nameless crowd - passersbys observed and loved dearly from wayside coffee shops and park benches - a certain tilt, a bemused brow, a turn of a chin, a skip in the step, a beard, an eyelash turning gold against the sunset sky, a sun fleck on a dimple, a wavering tear, an uncontrollable giggle.

Remember the moments. Pillion riding; cheek against your shoulder, watching the world float by through half-closed eyes. The bougainvillea abuzz with bees. That ‘gaze’ oh, that lovely, wondrous, heart stopping ‘gaze’ before the kiss. A sudden appuppanthadi (Crassocephalum crepidioides) or a lone bubble floating away above a traffic jam.

To be made of half-composed poems, decomposed reveries, dish-soap residue, the unreachable little morsel between molars, fern spores, unlived remembrances, angiosperms and moths. Unhinging, unspooling, thawing - a flickering eddy of dust in an abandoned classroom, a lute, an accidental thought, a dawning understanding, a serendipitous conversation, a sea, a menagerie of antediluvian insects. All this will be cherished. Music discovered, words breathed in, your sudden hugs, that thing with bicycles and vintage tin boxes, long discussions between impatient mouthfuls of messy breakfasts, those inside-jokes that only we know, that we alone can invent, that make me crack up, that I know I will remember with many chuckles even when I am old and senile.

From the first inhale to the last exhale - a series of synapses and pulses connecting, dancing, miniscule fires, gamboling stars, enrapture of cells.
You and I - strangers, lovers, kindred spirits. Why think of the destination when the journey itself is a carnival? So, let us dance, shall we? Here, take my hand.

Image: Pinterest

Today, I went to Lulu and nearly got sick of seeing the excessive consumerism. Today I tried hunting for vazhakoombu (banana blooms) and muringa poo (moringa flowers) I got neither. I have thought about you so much in the last several months. I secretly visit that old, old blog of yours. The few poems that you left there. I turned 31 this year. When I first spoke to you, I was only 22. How old are you now? 

Today, I am more dissolved. disarticulated. disintegrated. Delightfully unsure of where I stand, what I am. No more a woman, but an arboreal ecosystem of connected, secret loves, loveliness and loneliness.
Image: Pinterest

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

“The past fascinates me obsessively, I suppose, because it’s such a strange phenomenon,” he said. “The past was the present at some point, and it was just as boring as the present. What makes it so important? What gives it that luminous, exalted quality where it becomes the past? When does the past become ‘the past’? Is yesterday ‘the past’? Is last week ‘the past’? How far do you have to go until the past becomes ‘the past’? These are things I’ve never found an answer to, and that’s why they fascinate me.”

                 - John Banville {On The Utter Mystery Of Writing}

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Falling, A Dissonance

We entered each other like hunger-mad rodents. Our collision made time stretch colder. It was a union of unspokenness that had the timbre and texture of our restless, incomplete dreams. 
I remember the tender in-betweens more than our tumultuous intertwinings. 

There was no soul-matey forever-ness about us. Any similarity was assumed to be coincidence. Especially the hallucinations which were uncannily similar although patterned and paced differently – yours took you sooner, mine was slower. We both made detailed lists, planned the day in advance. That was part of the therapy. That’s how it all started. You passed me your list after a particularly long session. On it you had written: 

Blow soap-bubbles for the dead daughter 
Kill a dying plant 
Outrun my aching knee 
Lose sleep over a certain smile. Yours. 

The apartment is now empty. The dust imposed its subtle tyranny. Dust turned to sludge and back to dust as monsoons and summers created vague anthropoid creatures on the walls. The expensive plant you planned to kill eventually produced tight half-rotting buds. I ate them one by one after another bought of vomiting. 

I think the rooms miss us - the mess of breathes, footsteps, shadows and stains. The string of cow-bells has disintegrated on an excessively windy July and fell with a heart-wrenching clang. I swept away its mute corpse that resembled yours. The crumbled red rope and bits of rust reminded me of your cracked skull on the parking lot. 

Whenever they ask me where I am going, a lie pillows in my tongue - puffing into a soft yeasty story that I grind and scatter before them with relish. Perhaps they believe my lies, perhaps they don’t care anymore. But these weekly visits will soon end. They don’t know that I still have the key. They are planning to give it on rent hiding the fact it is haunted by all the versions of you. 

We were the knots of our routines and irrelevancies. We listed our habits too and our compulsions - your habit of eating grapes from a coffee-mug at night, my compulsion to collect misplaced ear-phone buds. I know this grape-eating began while trying to figure that old murder you thought you witnessed. We go over the details again – the nun’s habit, the concrete walls of the well, the rosary falling off dramatically, the cross catching the glint from the street light. You frown at the effort of remembering – a groove appearing between your brows which later became the chasm that separated you from your sanity and from me. You were an altar boy then. You say you remember blood, a wound behind the ear. But it was suicide by drowning, I tell you. I Google it for you. That’s bullshit, you say. I am an eye-witness. Afterwards you gulp another burning mouthful of whiskey in an effort to forget. But the vortex within the well screeched at you all night. 

While you are lying there going over all angles of the story, I shape rolls of plasticine that your daughter left behind into lizard eggs and arrange them on our heaving stomachs. We try to balance them while breathing. The first one to lose an egg lost the game. Neither of us ever lost. Now if I try to place the eggs on my stomach, they roll off. I can’t even lie down straight without feeling nauseated. 

Our leisure days were slow. We made love to the woody clinks of the cow-bells and the crooning of the pigeons who watched us from the window. In many ways we resembled them in the amusing act of mating – lots of flapping, squealing, awkward laughing and underneath it all, an almost imperceptible lyricism. In the afternoon you smoked and we tried to solve the assignments that our therapist gave us. It rained a lot then and by late evening, the air was stained golden. Iridescent desolation spread across the water-brimmed fractures on the pavement outside. 

Everyday doves came to peck the crumbs of bread, nightmares and dandruff that fell on the window sill when you shook out the pillow case. 
At night the smoke turned to translucent Mobius strips puff after puff. An ovoid shell of tomorrows hung heavy in the air. We could barely sleep. It was as if a gritty new life tore apart the heavy wings of the night leaving us restless, feverish and awake. We start telling stories to each other. You explained how your dead wife used to put egg whites on her eyelids to keep them from sagging and then dabbed rose oil on her eye brows to keep the eggy smell off. The room filled with our hysterical laughter. We told stories until silence folded and packed us away into its dark spongarium. 

The egg motifs continued even after we fall asleep. You suddenly wake up screaming about a girl who gauges out the eyes of her dolls and put flowers into the yawning sockets. I dreamt about breaking pink, petal-soft eggs. Instead of yolks I found eye-balls. 

The wake-unsleep-sleep continued month after month, interspersed by our story telling and those dreams that increasingly pulverized our skulls. On quiet days, we gave shapes to our nightmares using plaster-of-Paris and ceramic mixed in a 1:5 ration with glue. They were stronger and more satisfying than our Plasticine eggs. One violent days, we smashed them against the wall. Their crashes were also satisfying, not like the soft Plasticine plops. And then one day in a dream-induced panic you knock me over. My foot is cut by the sharp edge of a broken nightmare. A yawn concaves your face. “Sorry,” you say trying to fix a bandage. Sleep makes you clumsy and angry. I leave, limping towards the balcony and spend the night there tuning my guitar and watching the flickering street lights. 

The next day you wake up with blood-shot eyes. There were several new broken nightmares on the floor around you. You make me a cup of tea and we finish a bowl of stale upma left over from yesterday. The cumin was slightly burnt. Later you washed all our bed sheets, hung them up neatly to dry, took off your sandals and then jumped off the balcony. 

Silence balloons and empties. My wound throbs under the waterproof bandage. Feet have their own palpable sentience - when touching a warm rock, a cool stretch of pebbles or when the wind glides between the toes. The pleasure enhances when there is a slight illusion of touch - a small injury, an itch, a plaster, a blister. The feet are capable of accumulating, at the end of a long bare-foot walk, a million memories. 

Your feet, the heels scrubbed pink, kept twitching on the parking lot while the back of my mouth turned to cotton and cement. Terror - a hardened paper pulp, tight and grey – hung from my throat. How clichéd that blood had to pool around your head! It was too theatrical. A momentarily sense of déjà vu and the parking lot turned to white noise. I was reminded of the forest ants that once gathered around our lunch in the park. Your sandals remained on the wall, feetless, scooped-out insect-shells. The sun-warmed detergent smell wafts into my head. I retch. 

My life has been permanently divided into two – before the jump and after the jump. Any event was recalled using this timeline.Your dead daughter began to appear in my room after the jump, the little box of tablets got over before the jump, my nausea, after the jump… 

The sound of your head hitting the concrete still makes my stomach warble. Did you know that it came in all the newspapers? Later a bunch of students came by to make a short film about it. After extensively interviewing our terrified therapist and the group, they trampled all over the apartment with their camera and equipment, laying bare our little memories for the whole world to see – our lists, the crusty pickle tins, the box of doll-eyes, our empty bread-boxes. A stretchy plastic cheeriness mixed with impatience and tight, loud politeness seemed to be the governing emotion. Every time they spoke, I jumped with nervousness - feeling soft and useless before their efficiency. I was just a husk of stories. Porous. Recordable. Discardable. 

Now I am the sonorous resonance of my small sadnesses. A puff of pollen in the wind. A feather under an indifferent wheel. I don’t keep lists anymore, I let my thoughts hum and create chaos. 

It was after the jump that I began feeling increasingly dizzy. They took me to the hospital in a huff. I wanted to say something, but between their horrified ‘O’s and the doctor’s plastic grin, it was better to keep my mouth shut. I think it is made of plasticine – translucent and reptilian. It moves though, every shift cracking open the delicate crust of my saneness. As months went by, the reporters and cameras disappeared. The little lizard made me sick and lethargic. I started visiting the apartment furtively. With every visit I felt lightness growing under my skin, a sense of minuscule wings under nails and earlobes. 

Nights created a semi-dark gloom in these rooms, far more horrifying than pitch-blackness. Slumbering things sprouted and snuck in through our windows. They metamorphosed into silhouettes and dismantled my head. Pulling me apart piece by piece, and rearranging me again and again. I sort through the remains of your ceramic nightmares. You have names scratched on each of them: Unkind Ground, Merry-Go-Round, Tongue-Quell, Found-Spell, Tepal. Petal. Sepal, Bone Leaps, Mono-Logs, Lung-Loops, Soul-Shrug, Moon Clone Popsicle, Rustic Rut Pickle, Plastic-Fantastic, Elastic Bandana, Fata Fickle Morgana, Value Added Tabula Rasa. The names, when arranged on paper, made a rope of uneven knots. Later, they will spend a week trying to interpret the list since I’d have smashed the ceramic originals. 

By then, I would have left. 

I vividly remember the day we first shared our lists. It was the beginning of my obsession with egg metaphors. Strange insects started growing in our bones. Our eyes met frequently, twin raw eggs plopping into an unruffled bowl of flour. The same day, during lunch break, we took a walk and discovered the desolate park behind the hospital. We carried our carefully packed lunches through the rusty gates, my translucent twin eggs balancing on your flour and vice-verse. Wobble. Wobble. From eye to eye. 

The forest ants were big, black and awkward gathered around the remnants of our lunch. They looked like uniform crumbles of a terrifying wholeness that encompassed the sugary leaf cells, the rhythmic thumping of the insect cries, and the roar of the wind. I knew this was ephemeral. “Soap bubbles?” you ask. “Nope,” I answered and caulked up my body so that not a single butterfly escaped. 
My body remained that way until my last visit to our apartment when I un-caulked, unspooled and dissolved into a swirl of pale butterflies on the balcony. A sudden breeze pulled me further from the wavering wall. Everything was so bright, a vague consciousness. The air tore open a mouth and laughed. 

I wonder if they’ll miss me, or even realize I was gone. Only my shoes remained on the wall, slightly warm and out-of-place.

                                               - Jeena Mary Chacko

Image: Pinterest

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Long Pending List Of All Lists To Be Destroyed By the Last One Standing

1. The profile and ‘likes’ of the dead employee who left a cryptic cough on the voice recorder.
2. The inconsequentialities of bus rides and dead flies (too lengthy, need to be re-worked).
3. Coordinates of a cancer cell north-west to the pouting cleavage, unnoticed, hidden under cotton fabric.
4. The recurring clichés of shadows, haunted dolls, funny bones and suicides (detailed dissertation to be submitted by H.L).
5. That wet, wet, wet, monsoon when we stopped drinking for better or worse or good.
6. The million identical voices asking us, in unison, to stop. (*Inserted in pencil* Stop what?)
7. Our precious oaths flung from the 11th floor.
8. Hearts classified as needing a lick of paint by the end of this year (P is assigned to sandpaper the rust off).
9. Strobe Effect in the found eye outside the seminary.
10. Things lost during the hunt for the eye’s origin. (blood, a key, a friendship).
11. The growing annoyance at the inability to create found footage horror. (step-by-step listing of each rants and complains).
12. The list of useless tapes recording countless hours of us moving about the house.
13. The list of lost tapes containing our disclosures and the strange buzz in the background.
14. List of times our heads did not close quickly.
15. The list of recitations to listen to while tearing up lists in the kitchens.
16. Hymns to sing while clawing one’s nerves out (cross check with the list of songs to write before dismantling the trapdoors)
17. The categories of various bumps on the floor (three do not fit into any known form)
18. Things sawed/plucked or gouged out from our bodies that we shall never bury but drown in marshes at night.
19. Things that we have left to gurgle at the brink of loneliness
20. List of mannequins that underwent a front lobe probe
21. List of precautions to be taken against these mannequins’ nightly visits (meditation, green tea and affirmative thinking) and prevent them from stealing our precious madnesses.
22. Things to think about when eyes go into suspended animation.
23. List of rituals to follow to turn oneself into a line at the back of a book, possibly the epilogue.
24. The notes on our discussion regarding the tiredness and triteness of adulthood, and ways to escape it.
25. The debate on the real or fictional Mr. N. Why did he show us his penis from behind the wall? Why does he hiss? Why does he still visit our dreams?
26. The list of spectacles that one cannot unsee once seen (the horror! the horror!)
27. List of reasons R has, which does not really prove that these events were a Folie à deux.
28. Minutes of the meeting regarding the incident that occurred in the churchyard 17 years ago. (part of the list of things we long to unsee, long to forget)
29. List of reactions recorded after noticing the odd twitches on the freshly painted walls.
30. Things we unconsciously thought of while dismembering the time portal.
31. The list of beauty remedies that involves sacrificing one of us.
32. List of houses where childhood overstayed its welcome.
33. List of simple techniques to help us forget what those digging fingers did to us at the procession many Septembers ago.
34. The screams and blinks observed coming from a white building.
35. List of lies we tell ourselves (to be updated on a regular basis).
36. Number of clouds we need to hold down and step on to reach the sky.
37. List of gods we raised, worshipped and sacrificed.
38. List of times we fed ourselves lumps of sugar and orchids to chock down and swallow the sobs.
39. The purgation of sleep we practiced by emitted shrill screams at regular intervals.
40. The list of aspects about our day to day activities that don’t add up to the universal scheme of things.
41. The lost records of our failed austerity experiment.
42. List of sins we forgot to include in our confessions.
43. List of things we felt guilty about although they were not sins.
44. The list of self-inflicted punishments that resulted in the loss of a hallucination and the abrupt disappearance of our dear friend.
45. The number of times we became untranslatable to ourselves.
46. The odours of things yet to arrive, but we wait for with baited breath.
47. Number of shoe flowers and butterflies we secretly ate to become non-human.
48. The lost pages found at the bottom of T’s cupboard that tells the secrets of travelling from billboard to billboard.
49. Unmoving things to hold on to while the stars start to tilt.
50. Methods to achieve that resigned calm before ingesting corrosive substances and unicorn tears.
51. The list of singular brick corners existing all by themselves and how to hide in them when the time comes.
52. Marrows of things we will never understand, tied around a broken tile and flung into a sea.
53. List of the possible places to hide our suicide notes

                                       - Jeena Mary Chacko

Picture: Still from the movie Innocence (2004) by Lucile Hadžihalilović

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Time Has Come

Hey you! Do ask me things. How I am doing. What I am doing… anything. It’s high time you start acknowledging the fact that I’m right here, for good, plugged to you, becoming mad multiples of you. Oh, do stop shrieking and clutching yourself! Isn’t it becoming a cliché? Here, let me tread by invisibly; let me wave my long dark hair. My lidless eyes and abnormally fitted limbs are just props you have built up. They should have restricted your TV time.
Pity you were not easily moved in the beginning. But now I see you have noticed the air radiating a grey dread and a strong fever-smell. No, don’t go to those counsellors again! Stupid charlatans all of them! Really. Your dreams mingle with my wakefulness as I prowl around inside your head feeling the bumps on the wall, the phantom doors, whorls and vortexes – some quite big and static shaped like vague Jurassic animals - their low-frequency hums too soft for your mortal eardrums. When I flit between them, you hear the rush and rumbles in your ribs. Others are so tiny and constantly moving that they get caught in your hair, their tiny shifts sounding like a child’s whispers to you. There, you are pausing again, your hair standing on end, sweat breaking. How adorable you look when chills run down your spine!

Do you know that you DO sleep even though you believe otherwise? The elusive sleep which, when it comes, comes in annoying jerks. The sticky sleep, freezing legs, sweating neck, nausea, a kind of horrible oppression, so sickly sweet – I feed off your sleep, they taste of stale almonds, detergent and melting toffee. And then, and then, there is the dawn… the dawn that falls like a brilliant blob of lucidity, a tear drop, a splash from an old perfume bottle, a melted piece of ice. It’s so edible, so limpid that if you touch the air, it trembles, like a butterfly’s wings. Do you notice them? I wish I could tell you all about it. I wish I could scoop up a piece of dawn in my cupped hands and show it to you. But that would defeat the purpose. No, I don’t disappear at day break; I stick around all the time, until the right time. I see you trying to meditating, taking deep breaths – for a moment you heave a sigh of relief until you catch a glimpse of my jawless, winged figure just beyond the corner of your eye. There is only one ending to this story, you know that.

It rained yesterday while I was waiting for you, and then all night while I was grappling with a nightmare that was wringing your throat. Have you tried choking yourself? The pain on your throat is unbearable, but there is a bizarre, peaceful silence in your ears, a kind of numbness of the cheeks and if you look at the blank white wall, you can see a swirl of softly pulsating rainbows, your finger tips turn cold. Darling, shall I strangle you? Would you strangle yourself?

You are late, and you slide in through the window. I am always reminded of a thundercloud, an impending storm looming in the air when you enter. You don't notice my transparent feet swinging from the fan's cobwebby blades, nor the eyes at the end of my feelers dangling down, crawling all over you. My quagmire-voice drips with trepidation as I hover close to your ear. I can see you twitching your neck uneasily and I know you’ll dream of unattainable ice-creams or of drowning in dark lake full of tangled weeds tonight. I move closer to you all the while laughing my carefully designed laugh - the half-wit laugh, the mirthless laugh, a jawless, rasping laugh - the laugh your neighbour’s son heard before he jumped off the 8th floor, the one Virginia Woolf heard while she filled her pockets with stones, the one that Sylvia was hounded with all her life, and Judas heard just before kissing an affable bearded cheek. It is the right time, darling, all of us are waiting for you right here. Be careful, mistakes are pretty painful and second chances are tough. 


Friday, August 19, 2016

Saying Goodbye To A Life That We Knew Well

Our lives packed away in boxes. The house is unusually silent suddenly. And large - yes. 

With new spaces and corners - wait, what did we have here? how come we never noticed this bend before? That light falling over the floor, wavering, an almost-pattern before tear blurs everything. 

A dying of footsteps and distant laughter.

Do these walls know? A lonely shell full of memories of the creature that lived within it. A sudden echo that was previously muffled by a hundred little noises. 

A grief for those moments in time and space where these adored things existed - now fading memories.
The shape on the ceiling where water seeped in, it looks like a serene sheep. We never noticed it before. 

Smells remain, I suppose. Clinging to the underside of things - slowly evaporating. And the vague traces we leave behind in accidental handprints, a little scribble over the bed-side wall - remembering a dream, a forgotten sticky-note, a shoe-lace, a stray hair, an empty bottle of nail paint. 

A rush of so many things planned but never fulfilled, an
unbearably sweet sorrow. We are leaving our beautiful home by the forest.
                       - June 2016

Images: Snippets of our 4 years of living in a small, darling, derelict apartment near a reserve forest in JP Nagar, Bangalore. We moved out in June 2016 to another wilderness in Yelahanka. That will be a story for another time.  

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Preparation for a Descent

Deafening whispers rising from each strand. The cold has a voice that slices into nerves building tiny painful peaks. Scrawl relentlessly. That way one's sanity remains. The escape route is thorn-heavy, mold-melded doors growing outside eye-lines. Ink it down, add firm periods to lock them in. Let the nib tear through the page.Who cares? Let loose, they flap themselves to exhaustion against one's skull, banging into dusty windows (oh, if only one would break!) their ruthless claws will dig up hideous dreams, peck and carve a landscape of howls. 
                                                     - Jeena Mary Chacko  

Image: Screen cap from Hardwood Process (1996)

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

All She Is

Perhaps one day I could replace the tiny blue piece of enamel that chipped off the edge of her cup when I dropped it. She never noticed that chipped edge, all the more reason for me to want to stick it back. 
She was like the pure mountain air, clear and measured. I remember her buying white roses every Sunday evening when we went for our walk under the yellow street lights. The light that made our skins glow and eyes capacious. She cut the stems of the roses and placed them inside a jar full of sugary water on my table. Always on my table. Always that slow, careful stirring until the sugar crystals became translucent wisps and then disappeared into the water.
The distances we walked then! The routine walk to the library where were inhaled the scent of old books while our grey plastic shoes went tap..tap..tap on the wooden floor. We spoke in delightful whispers, read delirious passages to each other from the dog-eared copies of Virginia Woolf and Kundera, got drunk on Baudelaire and drank the ice cold water from the cooler outside. Cold water in white styrofoam cups - I remember the wafer-like texture of the cup on my lip. Sometimes we fished out a little paper cone full of peanuts we bought on the way and ate them secretly, hoping the librarian won't hear our crunches diffusing into the fragile papery air. She later (much later) told me that to her Woolf and Kundera will always be synonymous with our ‘patina days’ (as she called them) and that her memories smelt of old pages and roasted peanuts. Mine smelt of incompleteness, hunger and shabbiness.
On those cool windy nights we listened to Pal Pal Dil Ke Pas in her old Walkman. It was the era of ipods and mp3 but she refused to let go of the past, the bygone days of a distant childhood. So we lay on my bed side by side and listed to the squeaky, scratchy cassette. Our legs twined around the pillows and we ate forkfuls of Maggie noodles that I made with butter and fried onions. The bed always smelt of noodles and detergent. 
The pink plastic bowl with white and green leaf prints left warm, round depressions on the mattress when we moved it around. We pressed our face on these hot little circles and giggled while the wind howled outside. The noodles would be over by then, but the bowl would still be warm. We experimented with prose - crude, infantile and haunting, scratched onto pristine foolscap papers. 

Haunting. How they still haunt. Not the words, but the helplessness of those moist letters, the smell of wet ink and the minute perforations where the nib pierced the paper. Deeper into the night, when we experimented with other things, our bodies left petal-like imprints on those carefully written pages - crushing the Chelpark blue-black lines, smudging them with our soft laughs and impatient jostles.
She knew how much I loved noodles and gave me her share always. When the cassette became too squeaky we dismantled it with scissors and tweezers, cleaned the reel with aftershave and replaced it. It always worked. It always wailed. Every night I cried for things I couldn't comprehend.

Sometimes she told me stories of her childhood filled with cold winters spent dreaming beside roaring, rustling bonfires and falling in love with snow - it tastes like wet skies and prehistoric animal dreams, she said. Sometimes she asked me to stop staring at her and then smiled when I dropped my gaze. Sometimes she cried for me when I cruelly pushed her away and wrapped myself within my chaos. The chaos that ate me up cell by cell and then coughed me up - a mess of bile and despair. She said my eyes were like sacred stoups filled with immaculate awe and I laughed because I didn’t know what ‘stoup’ was and I didn’t care for her strange endearments. Later when I looked it up, something dropped inside my chest, releasing a haze of pale insects. 

On the last day we went to the old church to see the painted ceiling and then parted forever.
Later a few brief meetings, briefer phone calls, and then, silence. Everything from that life has disappeared except for a sudden longing to stand in that unforgettable narrow windy balcony. From there I want to watch the dirty city glow in the evening sun, hold the blue chipped mug full of watery tea we used to make with condensed milk, water and tea bags and watch her chubby pink hand working the volume button on the Walkman. I shall then place that chipped piece of enamel on the mug, watch it heal itself and become whole once again, like her. I want that moment to stay as it is, to freeze that completeness forever. 

Picture: Two girls among the sand dunes - Hermann Seeger