Friday, November 13, 2009

Cubicle Discourses

This post is dedicated to my old classmate and one of the best writers I've ever known who once wrote the story of the lonely ceiling fan that sliced everything during its monotonous spin. I miss those creative writing classes.

My tiny cubicle comprises of ply wood, books and other odds and ends. The computer, hordes of dusty books are piled up on the floor on the sides of my tiny table and the small shelf is crammed with obscure files, catalogues, a broken umbrella and a nameless fading silver trophy.
It is a typical publishing office. There is barely any conversation - the clicking of the mouse, the rustle of papers, the occasional, ambiguously phrased remarks and the startling whir of the printer are the only sounds. Some times a guffaw, a lonely sigh somewhere, a shifting of a cramped butt on a revolving chair.

There is the dull, monotonous drone of the ceiling fan as it tries to slice away each sigh, each frustrated thought, and each of those tiny skeptical musings that rises from me like invisible fumes. The table is full of round coffee stains, they almost make a pretty pattern.

A large jar of Amruthanjan (My left nose is perpetually blocked and I believe exotic hypomyces are growing inside that warm, airless muggy space), a replica of X-files poster, empty tic-tac boxes, ball point pens and an enormous coffee mug that is always half full with stale coffee gives that personal touch to my desk.

I squiggle random things in my battered note book during my free time before the ennui kills me slowly each day usually by mid afternoon.

When I am dead, which is usually post lunch, I pick up one of those plastic bubble wrap papers horded by my predecessors for no particular purpose and break them one by one. 




As my thumb presses against the tender surface of the bubble - boredom swelled, breaks its heavy husk and plops its glutinous tentacles over me.
With great reluctance that I put away the wrap when the boss is around the corner.

This cubicle has become my sanctuary, my bell jar, my little bubble of escapism. It is in here that I spent the major portion of my day.
Its musty smell lulls me into a passive numbness, I stare fixedly into the luminous screen while my fingers tap on the keyboard like programmed puppets.

Another story edited; someone’s desperate attempt at creativity, a raw, passionate spewing is moulded and shaped into a presentable, publishable, marketable commodity. A title, a synopsis, a blurb – there! it goes alone into the world of readers, critics, admirers and skeptics to be praised, over hyped or mercilessly ripped apart and killed.Its all written for kids.

In here I forget my innumerable grievances against life, my indifference to everything which has now started to frighten me, that slow sinking into routine, passivity and anonymity and the worst  - my realization that I am too tired even to escape.

In here I ponder on those millions of pointless existential problems knowing very well that I can never find a solution. I grieve over my dead cat, my fucked up, depressed college life, my inability to 'socialize'.... and all those self-absorbed, painful thoughts that gives me a queer pleasure which borders onto strange levels of emotional masochism. This could be a figment of my imagination, I wish I just woke up. 

 In here I secretly read soft porn novellas, it is in here that I dream up innumerable parallel lives. It is in here that the dust particles seep in through my every pore, act on my brain, my soul as I fester and decompose languidly all the while making up more and more imaginative lies to make my drab life look eventful in front of the world.

I have burst all the bubbles on the bubble wrapper, a fly buzzes by, briefly explores the rim of my coffee mug but decides it isn't worth the trouble, zoom up to the fan and gets knocked down. I watch it twitching on the floor; I am torn between saving it and killing it.
It was already in throes of dying and wouldn't probably survive. I crushed it under my foot. A yellowish black stain on the floor. My colleague wandered in just then, on seeing the crushed body of the fly he chuckled, fished out his cell phone, clicked a picture of that splattered mess, chuckled again and went off.

It was 3.00 p.m

The fan stopped spinning.

I burst into tears.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I have a serious case of adjustment disorder. I had moved into a new town two months back and I am already fluctuating between paranoia and amazement. There is the excitement of discovering new mysterious roads, patches of wilderness that flourish occasionally, the perpetual rush of the sea breeze that leaves its salty stain on everything, the remains of the colonial past, the glorious growth and corrosion, the sepia colors broken by startling bursts of reds, blues and pinks and the creaking, rainy nights.
There is also that dreadful sameness, a flamboyant monotony here, beneath the flood of developments. Crowds rushed, always in a desperate hurry to reach somewhere as though the whole town has come under a mass attack of diarrhea, and the totally jobless ones mooching around sidewalks. There are a large number of sadly similar billboards and several blindly rushing buses.
But the worst are those eyes - those wretched eyes that follow me, when I say me, I mean us - the pathetic, deluded, frigid, half-dead cluster of female human beings living in this part of the country.
Those wretched eyes track each one of us, yes it does.
Until we are old and rotting those eyes won’t leave us alone - staring, angry, hungry, penetrating, curious, indifferent, amused, abusive, they dig us out and strip us ruthlessly each moment.
Eyes - an entity in itself, attached yet detached from the frustrated, desperate bodies on which they cling. They float upon their own invisible fluid made up of a million assumptions, dissatisfactions and presumptions painstakingly build up through generations of pointless moral rigidity.
Eyes like spheres, like clawing, crushing hands, like unpitying slaps – they are made not out of human tissue but something unspeakable and repulsive.
They have the power to tear you apart, hurt, make you flinch with shame for things that aren’t your fault, they can delve into your most commonplace thoughts, glances, and movements and give it new and horrifying meanings, they can molest you, rape you silently and kill you a million times. You cannot even scream or plead for mercy.
They trap you, them - eyes, in a helpless devastating eddy. And you slowly grow numb, the nauseating disgust you feel about them and yourself will be replaced by a hardened immobile face, a thick, heavy dupatta, a different longer route, the anonymity provided by the shadowy trees, a bland umbrella and eventually suspended animation. Then they find another happy spirit to maul, rape and kill with their eyes until she is reduced into a nervous, frantic bundle of unhappiness hiding under layers and layers of cloths that buries all mounds, curves, joy and smiles.
The situation might be different elsewhere, but under all the show of open-mindedness, freedom and modernity lies that twitching, angry, insecure monster waiting to pounce when the right chance comes.
It may not always come in the form of violent aggression, sometimes it happens in the form of continuous whining, complaining, mockery, subtle references, persuasions, verbal abuse, constant criticism, blaming oh…anything, even disguised as chivalry or love. Watch out, it would be so cleverly done that it would be years later when you even realize what was happening. Believe me.

Friday, October 16, 2009

More on trains and children

There’s something invariably sticky about trains and small kids.
I love trains, the traveling part, I mean, you know, looking out of the windows and watching the passing landscape and stuff. But these second-class compartments are forever dusty and sticky with tiny cockroaches running all over the floor. I spent a small part of train traveling stamping and squashing these creatures before settling down to stare at the landscape or read. There are also those overtly friendly fellow passengers hell bent on striking up some inane conversation with you.
But the worst part of train journey is the abundant, overwhelming presence of those particularly whiny, sniffling, noisy kids. They are an inevitable part of every train journey. Their screeches, tantrums and idiotic jabber add to the constant rattle as I try to make myself as unobstreperous as possible.
It made me come to the conclusion that my life is an exaggerated example of Murphy’s Law gone berserk. (I always come to such conclusions about my life).

It was the journey back from a recent visit to my hometown. It was as usual horribly hot. Sun heated up the air inside the compartment and since I am normally an unpleasant, crabby, depressed human being, this cramped uncomfortable atmosphere made me even more depressed. I sunk into a crushing vortex of self-pity and crankiness and pictured myself as a silent suffering saint.
At the next station a woman got in with two tiny, big-eyed brats, a toddler barely a year old and its bigger sibling probably about 3 years old. I already made up my mind to avoid all eye contact and pretend to be part of the limited interior decoration.
Her husband had disappeared somewhere to watch the landscape probably as I guess most traveling husbands do. It seems that once they have impregnated their wives, made them bear as many kids as they could manage and convinced themselves of their manliness and appeased their ego, men drift into a sort of nonchalance from which they resurface when these offspring turn into surely, cranky adolescents. Then they yell at their wives for not bringing up the kids properly and letting them have all the freedom and get upset over the fact that these smart-ass beings are not turning into disciplined, obedient, meek little chips of the old block.
This woman had that typical strained, worried look on her face, which many interpret as the ultimate, pure, all-encompassing motherly love. The toddler had a disfigured piece of a toy car dripping with saliva and remnants of its previous meal stuck to the wheels. The kid waved that wet plastic thing dangerously near my face; I sunk further down into my seat pretending to blend in with the surroundings. I could see this attempt at camouflage wasn’t too successful. The woman was trying to catch my eye.
The baby banged the poor woman on her head, tried to kick its big brother or sister (its difficult to say) and went off into a babbling stream of unintelligibility. The older one was like a neurotic clockwork mouse. It tried to scramble up the window bars, pull off the blinds, kicked almost all the passengers, upset a bottle of water and proceeded to climb out of the emergency exit while all the passengers shrilled ‘Ayo Mone….’ (Roughly means ‘Oh dear boy’ or something like that) It was like a cycle, repeating all over again.
Each time the poor woman dragged that fidgety mass of arms and legs back to the seat, it sat still for a fraction of a second and went off again to repeat the same set of senseless activities from which it got a queer sort of pleasure.
The baby was excitedly watching its sibling’s antics. To show its frustration it started kicking and squirming and giving short piercing yelps.
The child eventually got bored with the wandering and came back to its mother. I thought perhaps now things will just settle down and plunged comfortably into my own morose thoughts.
Soon a screaming match started between the two. There was a murderous glint in the toddler’s eyes. Given a chance, it would have smashed the big one with that soggy toy car.
The woman was slowly cracking under the strain, she glanced anxiously towards the door where I saw the dark head of a man lazily leaning on the door and looking out, I suppose that is the father.
Eventually seeing some trace of kindness on my face, she placed that tiny, sniveling, sweating inanity onto my lap. It looked at me with its large bambi eyes and proceeded to pull my hair and gouge my eyes. All the while bloated lumps of drool dripped down its chin onto my arms.
I glared at its mother hoping it will yell some words of rebuke, but she was resolutely, almost rigidly, staring out of the window taking a sudden, exaggerated interest in the arid landscape outside.
Seeing that my eyeball was not coming unstuck, it jabbed my face with its stubby fingers and shrieked for no reason.
Out of sheer panic, I fished out the last of my precious dwindling horde of Ferrero Rocher chocolates and gave it unwilling to this grubby, wriggling lump of petulant restlessness. It grabbed it viciously; my heart broke seeing that divine morsel being squished brutally. The mother beamed benignly at me, probably mistaking this generous move as some sort of an inherent maternal instinct.
I guess she was seeking in me what all women look for in other women, compassion, a capacity for tenderness. There are a lot of people, who believe that I am capable of both and another lot who think I am monstrously loveless and selfish.
I guess I have a sort of pitiful love and consideration for my fellow human beings, and because of that, I end up doing the weirdest things for making life easier for someone less fortunate.
The baby licked the squashed fragments with great relish sending chocolate colored drool all over my lap. Occasionally, when I am on the verge of giving it a good shake, it stared at me with its large, melting bambi eyes and I had to restrain myself with a sigh.
Most kids have those wide, big eyes. I guess it’s a very clever ploy on the part of nature to ensure their survival and thus guaranteeing the survival of the whole human race.
Babies can drive you to insanity; they are irritable and cumbersome, but just when you reach the verge of doing something drastic they look at you with their large, baby-eyes that can melt even the toughest heart. Hence, these drooling, sticky pink things aren’t strangulated but instead taken care of until they grow up into another set of stupid adults.
But even the eyes can lose their charm after a point. Luckily they had to get down at the next station. Amidst a lot of bawling, and scuffling the mother managed to pull out both the kids and disappear into the anonymous crowd.
I found a battered copy of an evening tabloid wedged on the berth above me and immersed into the swirling images of blood splattered bodies and exaggerated headlines detailed in every page.
The the next bunch of kids have just got in, one of them’s got a large lobotomized doll in her hand and the haggard mother was looking hopefully at me, I stared fixedly into the newspaper and switched off the outer world.
Ah, bliss.

Ps: For those who don’t know, I have emerged from my months of reclusive life and finally got an underpaid job in a children’s publication as an editor. Occasionally I write random articles for a highly experimental and completely unoriginal tabloid with a very limited readership. I have a feeling it is destined for an early death, the paper I mean.

Peace ~
Ps: Picture above, titled Deflated, MS paint.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A weekend

A small place it was, a place of casually elegant understatement, a tad-tongue-in-cheek perhaps, but cozily anonymous and expensive.
Dougnuts topped with cream and strawberry jam, a greasy sandwich stuffed with chicken and coffee.
Its always coffee. Invariably.
It acted as a landmark, marking the different junctures of the two lives. It was the continuing motif, an excuse, a reason, almost an identity.
In the beginning it was a hesitant, watery coffee, then powerful dozes of ultra sweet brew, then the ones spiced up with exotic ingredients. As the journey progressed, it became more experimental, the tang, the variety and the layers of flavor. Right now it is the raw stage - the sugar-less, milk-less, pure, onyx colored concoction in a pretty cup.
We ignored the heavy strain on our almost empty purses that this place left.
We sip, one sip, two sip and stare over the flaking gold rim.
The steam toast the tip of our noses.
The air dense with indiscernible things.
Hands long to reach out, but the touch would be brief, restrained, to end too soon. We knew the futility and the melancholy that lingers around half-done things.
It was not even a conversation, fragmented phrases, and observations. Comfortable silences in between, half of a sad smile, the smell of unhurried peace.
A few grotesque jokes, brutal sarcasm, it goes so well with the doughnuts. Smell of fresh smoke rising up, a cough, a puff.

Our eyes follow the non-existent blue humming birds flying around the ceiling. We are too afraid to check the time.
Blue is the persistent foreground hue. Unvarying.
It painted everything, the sky, the walls, the deep smudgy line under my eyes, the imaginary door, the emotions.
The clocks tick persistently always blindly running forward.

Tick, tick, another tick, a second dead, a second older, another heartbeat closer.

Soft, sensuous twanging of the guitar punctuated by the strains of the flute and the melancholic wail of the violin in the background, we smile over the porcelain arc.

We have the third eye with us, the eye with so many lenses that can memorize every detail, the eye that we held lovingly, to capture the inconsistent, ever changing visual grandeur around us.
The silent happy man gave us a thumbs-up, grinning, walking in the mellow watery sunlight.

We stood in the leafy shadows, we always stood there in the shadow, sunshine made us mad.
We were made that way, to hide in the deep green shadows, among grey clouds, to be lost, to drift off and reside on the edges of everything.

The dark, crumbling ruins of the bygone era was like a gothic backdrop with the grey cloudy brooding sky above. The multi-hued cotton skirt swishes, laughs and flutters in the rushing breeze, the teasing wind trails between the toes, salty almost-kisses, the tiny curve of a finger nail explored minutely, hair rumples.

Whispers of a million sea ghosts fills all the nooks, fissures and the yawning, silently wailing heart-shaped hollows. A sigh, eyelids close slowly, a pink cycloramic nothingness fills the gaze, bare feet twirls, the heady fragrance of a sun-warmed shoulder.

Sea is menacing, gnawing at the black rocks, a white starfish rotting in the sand.

The healing is slow and the deep red scars still sore.

The starfish is washed away by an extra powerful wave. We go back.
The next journey planned, worked out over another coffee, a slice of bread dripping with melted cheese.
We don't need maps, we've never referred one so far. We followed the teasing call of adventure, that elusive, dangerous temptress. Exploring the inky darkness that lie beneath the sunny cerebrum.

Oh, the risks, the adrenalin rush, the pungent exhilaration of taunting pain, stretching the limits, teasing death.

Pain. It’s a cosmos in itself.

An invisible pattern traced on my wrist, the finger moves away, the tingling sensation remains.
We look at the slow, monotonous spinning of the dusty ceiling fan.The waitress's lip gloss is orange, like a faded marigold. She is in a hurry I could see the nervous blue vein jerking near the jaw.
We walk to through the narrow silent streets,nothing new to see, a locked synagogue, a deserted playground and lots of small dark shops.

Peace ebbed around me like warm waves.
I held the hand that once saved me from myself. that became the deep silence at the core of my storm, the calm amidst the chaos that raged within me, the mountain of comfortable sanity that soothed my violent gales, the sea that drowns my rushing, incoherent, blind torrents. If I died now perhaps I wouldn't have a single regret.
The wind-chimes tinkle mockingly.
The sky frowned, frothed, swirled and churned up a grey storm. Rain wailed hysterically and bloated droplets clung to my lashes.
The waitress is hurrying away down a steep path. Her pink umbrella is bent but she carried it defiantly with a furious pride.
In the distance the ancient fort became a damp yellow color, another brick disintegrated. The sea thundered away.
This is heaven, it must be. This is all that I always hoped for, dreamt a million times but never thought would be possible.
This peace, this moment, this dream, is life.

(Inside Kashi Art Cafe, Fort Cochin. 27.9.2009)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Un-numbing tongues

Humid night. Heat was like a physical presence, like a heavy hot blanket wrapped around us.
I'm gripping the edges of the toilet seat tightly; bitter sweet sticky taste hit the back of my mouth. Awful choking sounds come from my throat; some lurid thing inside me was laughing, a disgustingly hiccupy laughter.
I empty another load of things into the shallow, watery depth of the loo. Liquid things, viscous, indiscernible, dark, things from the other side of the grave that has long been sleeping inside me. I stagger out as the flush swirl out the remnants.
The room was dimly lit, lots of laughter, jokes, stories exchanged in slurred, giggly voices amidst a lot of interruptions. Melting ice cubes made little icy pools on the floor, someone was walking on them emitting little delightful squeals, everyone was barefoot.
‘Some one keep a bucket here, he might puke any moment’
‘Bloody song’
‘What’s wrong with that’
It cuts off, like all the innumerable unfinished conversations, hanging in the mid air like half dead moths.
‘I have eaten bats’
‘T-A-L-C-U-M P-O-W-D-E-R’
‘That’s static electricity, everything I touched sparked today’
‘I think I’m dying’
Lots of wispy, white smoke floated above our heads, salt, slices of lemon, another round of funny stories, laughter, choking, chips, fries, long hair sprawled across cushions, over the floor, slender legs sticking out of a pretty layered skirt in rainbow colours, soulless eyes, dazed eyes, dried phlegm, smoky eyes, scars of old wounds, sleepy eyes, eyes that have seen unspeakable horrors, gadgets, pickles, pink curtains, faded cushions, ribbons, UV lights, bean bags, disillusioned eyes, crushed lip-stick, a rusty razor, cynical eyes, dead eyes .
‘Here, more ice?’
‘No I like eating ice separately’
‘Hehehehhehehehee... she, she.... hehhehe’
‘I saw a chicken getting beheaded today’
‘There’s a new song about a two-headed bird’
‘No, no, I want the toffee’
The contents trickled down my laughing throat, burning sensation. Music played from somewhere, someone said its Cat stevens, but I couldn’t distinguish it anyway, music rarely made an impact on me. Hairy hands beat rhythm on the table, the tune was like an extension of the talking and laughter. The cold detachment, the deep attachments we shared, our resemblances, our cruelty, our selflessness, our masochism, our fear and fascination for pain, and all its dreadful forms we have seen.
I bit my tongue while eating a piece of chicken. There was an initial sharp pain and then the tip of my tongue went numb.
‘God, she’s bleeding! Look at her mouth’
‘Here eat ice’
‘Hehehhe... heeehehheheeh..’
I pressed my tongue between my lips, more blood squeezed out, ran down my chin. The taste of blood, the feel of it trickling over my chin, it was sensuous, almost erotic.
‘Yumm.. ‘
‘Ewww, gross!
Here put more cubes in your glass and drink it up, it’ll freeze your tongue’
It was so effervescent, a group of people connected by invisible threads of familiarity and similarities, unattractive, weird, jumbled. Mere perishable, bodies, bodies that will age too soon, that can be broken, humiliated, judged. Bodies, so alike, so futile, like old tin soldiers, lying about in an abandoned toy room.
Under the delicate perfumes, colognes, shirts, skirts, jeans, plasters, the dark spreading khol, the blushers, the gels, we were just tin soldiers, all similar, slowly wearing out as each second goes by.
Everything was in extremes, too much of sarcasm, too much of taking-nothing- seriously, too much of fun, irresponsibility, cynicism, bitterness, laughter, loosely connected lives, floating people, floating in little bubbles of airy, shining, madness. We who have been labeled, branded and categorized under so many categories, labeled over and over by the confused, category-obsessed folks, we have heard it too many times.
We the bunch of adults, still treated like ‘unadults’, so sadly alike though each one of us furiously, desperately hold on to that illusion of uniqueness that we claim to possess.
We the sexless assemblage of arms, legs and torso, we who have ceased to be surprised at anything, yet perpetually living in a state of joyful amazement. The contradictions, the dreams, the music we fought over, the loveless bonding of familiarity and bliss, the thousand lies, the uncomfortable truths, the feverish affections and loyalty we feel for each other, the pain, and the laughter, always the laughter, arising like a mighty wave, mocking, joyful, child-like, loud, rising , rising and coming down in an enormous crash, that infectious laughter that wipes away the tears, the frustrations, the failures, the loneliness, hypocrisies, restrictions and all the fucking labels that they tried to stick on us.
I heard more laughter, office jokes, more nicotine surging through my veins, eyes bloodshot, sparkling liquid amber, my numb tongue floats upon it, another mouthful, another, it burns, oh! it burns, its artificial, unhealthy, self destructive, but who cares!
‘God! I think I just swallowed a cockroach!”
At three in the morning we go racing through the sleeping city. Everything is in monochrome; the night has sucked out all the hues leaving the landscape to display the beauty of lines and curves untainted by any colours.
Odd bits of paper fly across the deserted roads; we go to the beach to watch the stray dogs fucking. The air is warm, moon is bloated, dogs prance around us, playfully biting each other and then copulating, some of them hang around waiting for their turn. It was like an ancient ritual.

More sex jokes, stories, not about dogs, but humans, more laughter, and we race back to the little apartment.
Complete bliss, more ice, strawberry ice cream, more things puked into the toilet, bitter sweet aftertaste of vomit, here a little rum, a little fizz, some conversations, chipped blue nail polish, dried crusty blood on the lips, lipstick-stained teeth, cricket highlights, music again, some bitching, a sudden swooning kiss, more laughter.
The ordinariness of all this was painful, we all knew that deep within, so was its brevity and repetitively. It would continue, as it had been going on since ages, the same liquor, the same smoke, the same questions, the same answers, the same swaying movements we call ‘dancing’, the same conversations, the same intense happiness, the same sadness, the same painful awareness that all this is so brief, yet eternal, to be repeated again and again but with a different set of actors like us.
We knew it, but we pretended we didn’t, we pretended that we were entirely different from the rest of the world.
‘Hey, you finished it’
‘Lets race across ECR and watch the sun rise’
‘Naw we’ll go to the haunted house’
‘I want to sleeeeeep’
‘More garlic sauce’
‘My tongue is numb’
‘My foot is stuck ‘
‘God, I’m sick, get me some paracetamol’
‘I want syrup’
‘No we are going to see the dawn’
The dawn. Of course the dawn, it brought us a sense of delight and inevitability.
So we raced, like our predecessors, mad, drunk, irresponsible, blissful, unconnected, ordinary sexless people, like the many millions out there. Forever classified as just ‘people’, ‘humans’, ‘mass’, mere homo sapiens, population, a noun, a flow chart, a sad example of the non-existence of God. Always disillusioned, but ever hopeful, little clumps of contradictions, we go racing, the wind on our faces, making our eyes water. The velvety night melt around us as we go searching, searching for haunted houses, garlic sauce, for dawn, for getting feet unstuck, for paracetamol, for un-numbing tongues, for sleep, for syrup, for sunrise.
Forever laughing, laughing, laughing.

For everyone is pained by the thought of disappearing, unheard and unseen, into an indifferent universe, and because of that everyone wants, while there is still time, to turn himself into a universe of words.
- Milan Kundera (Book of Laughter and Forgetting)


Monday, May 18, 2009

On reflections

All that registered in my boggled mind were a series of unconnected images and sounds as I flipped channels and ate soft cubes of cheese. A teary daughter-in-law tremblingly trying to convince a terrifying mother-in-law of her chastity, a B&W couple under a bush smooching and defying all logics of evolution a bunch of dinosaurs attacking a mighty gorilla who had a sparsely-clad female clutched between its paws. Blink. Blink.
My eyes were brimming after that continued dazed stare. Whenever the screen darkened I saw my reflection, curled up on the sofa, bleary eyed, one hand stretched out, holding the remote, a static frame.

They were showing Koyaanisquatsi again on MGM. I have seen this film umpteen times but I’ve still not got tired of it. It is one of those films that makes the whole film-watching process almost a transcendental experience. Its always telecasted late in the night when my mind is already whirling from gaping too long at the stars and then at the flashing images on the TV.
Night time at this place is awesome because that’s the only time I’m perfectly alert and tingling with energy. And its easy to remain anonymous in the dark. When I was living in that city beyond the ghats I loved those twilight walks through the shady tree-lined paths. There were no faces, no eyes, the downy afterglow swallowed the disgusting soul stench, the scowls, the irritations, the melancholy…
Only dark shapes outlined in orange walking past like floating nothingness, negativity, faceless human-shaped black holes.
Here people are terrified of the dark, after 7.00 they huddle inside their homes, over their Tvs, kitchen and home works. Nights are cool, lonely and scented with so many different fragrances. There’s a little open place on the terrace shaded by the leafy branches of the banyan tree from there I could watch owls.

This place is stuck in the 1940’s. Huge papaya trees and wild creepers grew among tiled roof buildings reminiscent of the colonial times. The only new building, a towering 10 floor construction, has been abandoned half way through and now houses hundreds of owls and bats. After a couple of hours there, I go back to get my head woozy with disjointed images.

Koyaanisquasi is pure cinema, no plot, dialogues, just a fascinating series images in slow motion and time-lapse photography (not sure if that’s the exact word) and a haunting background score.
I switch off all the lights, crank up the volume and sink into a stupor. Sometimes I switch to looking at the tiled floor where I can see the gauzy, reddish reflection of the screen. Images appear warped on the uneven floor, streaked by shadows, it quivers, shifts and moves.
After the constant shift from the TV to the floor and back, I feel that the whole area has becomes one massive theatre where images are played twice simultaneously.

That night I dreamt that I was a rich, stunningly beautiful heiress who has dedicated her life to the study of reflective surfaces. In my lab were innumerable specimens through which I saw weird and strange things that cannot be seen with the plain eye.
Next morning, while I was digging for earth worms, I unearthed seven small square mirrors from under the tamarind tree. They were wrapped in a blue silk cloth that was hardly faded, even the mirrors were sparkling like new. The ground had prints of a bird’s foot.
The day started off with the usual doze of depression, cynicism, scribbling, online job hunting, cursing the almighty and people-watching. One advantage of being jobless and single is that I have all the time on earth to do whatever I want within the limited space of my home.
And after exhausting all possible ways of spending the morning I turned to the mirrors wrapped in silk. They had a slight smoky grey hue and the reflections had an odd misty appearance as thought the little worlds trapped inside the mirrors were cottony, dreamy realms of the spirits.
It was a no moon day.
The next day it rained in the afternoon and the neighbour’s dog ran away.
The dog was quite old with a pathetic name ‘Cutie’ - a name that could make anyone feel morose to the point of committing suicide. Its owners uses that special baby voice to talk to the dog - a nasal squeal, ‘Cutieeeee’
They always had dogs, my next-door neighbours, and all of them mysteriously disappeared after a year.

Cutie was not a particularly remarkable dog, it once ate all the balloons on the Christmas tree and that’s just about the only interesting thing that happened in its life I guess. One bite, the balloons popped, and it swallowed the rubbery pieces.
The little boy who owned the dog was in tears, we decided to go and search for it. The afternoon sun washed the trees and houses in a yellow glow. Water lay in muddy puddles everywhere. We splashed through the water yelling ‘Cutie…..Cutie….’.
No luck!
The boy went home sobbing. The puddles gleamed under the rays of the setting sun and the dark reflections of the cloudy sky moved on its surface. The reflections had an illusion of depth, if I stepped into it I’d sink into an inverted cloudy sky where rain went upwards and trees grew downwards.

Behind my house is an empty plot crowded with lots of bushes, trees and weeds. It was separated from our backyard by an old, crumbling brick wall covered with creepers and large red ants. It always wore a desolate appearance, water lay in pools everywhere.
There was a moment among the bushes and then a wet nose emerged to lap up the water. ’Cutie’!
I climbed over the wall and it ran to me with a small ‘woof‘. The poor thing was drenched I saw my own distorted image reflected in its melancholy brown eyes.
They gave it some meat and rice and a basin of water. Cutie finished the water in two minutes, lapped up its own rippling reflection until its tongue rubbed the surface with a wet noise.

The next day I broke the mirrors. The moon hung in the sky like a pale curved shard. I took the mirrors and a large hammer, placed them in a line and smashed the surface. Hundreds of tiny shining fragments lay and in it I could see my cloudy reflections like many shadows. Breaking mirrors, they say, brings seven years of bad luck. According to some legend, what is reflected in the mirror is the soul of a person and by breaking a mirror the soul is destroyed. It takes seven years for the soul to grow back and hence the bad luck.

My soul, broken seven times in the seven mirrors lay under the ghostly moon light. With each crack the thin filament between the seven mirror worlds and the night split open, releasing all its spectres and phantasms into dark, damp atmosphere.
There was heavy rain and the next day minuscule peach coloured mushrooms grew among the shards.
I dropped my bottle of green ink. The chairs, the window and the world outside appeared on the dark surface but not my own face. I felt I had ceased to exist.
I left the little mirror bits for an entire moon circle to absorb the moon light. Each night I went to look at the fragments of my dead soul shimmering softly, soaking the moon beams and the velvety air of the night.
On the full moon day, Cutie ran away again and never came back. Cutie's old basin was leaking badly, it couldn’t hold water for more than a minute so they threw it away.
Under the corpulent moon, the fragments came alive, sighed and gave out a subtle scent. It rained again the next day as I buried my soul under the tamarind tree.
I did not recognize the blinking, sleepy, messy haired woman staring at me out of the bathroom mirror. While clearing her old sewing basket my grandmother gave me a dozen tiny round mirrors to sew onto my old jute bag.
The moon disappeared once more. It was a soulless cloudy sky, soulless voices arose from various televisions, someone was frying some soulless chicken to fill a soulless stomach. It was a soulless world full of soulless people. I heard a glass shatter and a soulless wail.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Enchanted hours

Inspirations. Like an elusive leprechaun it springs forth suddenly and before I can capture it , it vanishes, leaving behind a subtle fragrance, a taunting laughter. Too late to imprison that little shimmering spark too late to manipulate, mould, paint and polish it.
I will be caught up in some mind-numbing activity when it suddenly appears and sinks through the gauzy layers of consciousness, making me long to drop everything that I’m doing and plunge into that mysterious chimerical realm. But logic whispers - ‘ have to finish this… later you can write it, draw it, ponder on it’.
But later it can never be recalled. Like the most beautiful of dreams, the loveliest of scents and the most delectable of tastes, only a faint memory of it lingers, the magic is lost.

Most often it appears at the early hours of dawn, when I lay tossing on the hot pillow hoping for a slight breeze to cool my sweating brow and dozing uncomfortably. The iridescent wings flutters and I see the pixyish smile, then those intangible earthy scents, the gurgling laughter, the teasing, the flirting, the seduction, the stunning marvel of that moment - but flesh is so weak ! I’m too hot and sleepy to sit up and capture it on paper.
‘Later..later…later..” I murmer… “Just tell me,speak to me,let me feel, let me sink into that exquisiteness, let me drown in this delightful fantasy, I’ll reveal it to the world later’.
Another gleeful laugh, a shower of glistening flames and it is gone. I sleep.

I wake up dazed and sticky with the residue of the numerous creams that are yet to fulfill their promises of taking away my dark circles and giving me glowing skin. The watery sun light does nothing to help me recall the midnight phantasmagoria. I stumble about like a grouchy cat that had been given a de-worming shot.

I sit under the crude, tinkling windchime made up of tiny keys hung from pale green thread - inspired by a lyrical story I read long ago. The lone enormous banyan tree and its innumerable feathered and furry inhabitants form a cool green and yellow, rustling, whistling, screeching, crying, shadowy backdrop.

I have only read of people getting inspired while watching the trees and cows but it doesn’t seem to be happening to me.
I sit for hours sipping infinite cups of ginger tea and eating juicy bits of jackfruit and papaya, doodling, dreaming, sometimes reading, mostly staring at the tree, the cuckoos, the squirrels, biting nails, people watching, chewing a stray strand of hair and all the time my pen fills pages and pages with distorted lines, circles, snatches of songs sometimes I almost capture a vague shadow of the little spark that visited me, a lot of squiggles, stick figures, until someone tells me to get up and do something useful.

Today while I was trying to be useful someone got me a packet of tiny rubbery beads. I soaked it in water and after a while I saw that it has grown into such unimaginably charming, sparkling, transparent, cute, jelly-like bubbles in different pretty colours!
They were like something out of a fairy tale - magical eggs from which elves and pixies hatches and fly off , their rainbow coloured wings shining in the sunlight.

My parents said they were poisonous because some stupid kid had swallowed one of these 'crystal jelly balls' got bloated up and died. It was there in the newspaper, a single column report along with a note that it’s sale has been banned in this district. And that was that.

But those strange, crystal-like globules remained with me, became my obsession, becamea fodder for many wild and weird dreams.
I spent hours gazing into their glowing,glassy depths, run my fingers over the jelly surface, squeezing them, bouncing them, holding them, letting them fall from one palm to another and watching them catch the light of the morning sun and imagined little magical embryos sleeping inside their moist souls.

Seeing this obsession my cousin gave me another packet, these contained tiny black beads. I soaked them but they grew into a hedious cluster of plain, opaque blue and black globules. So alike yet so unlike my lovely, fairy eggs!
These were so disappointingly opaque and ugly! I put them in an old plastic bottle and kept it inside the bathroom window sill.
Much later I wrote a story about a boy who wanted to commit suicide. He mixed up all the medicines in the medicine box and swallowed it. But all the medicines cancelled off each other and the boy escapes with just a mild headache. The story sounded so corny that I flushed a handful of those horrible black bubbles down the loo to distract my confused mind. They tossed and bounced like a bunch of pigeon eyes being electrocuted.

That last line is the corniest sentence I’ve written so far - pigeons’ eyes getting electrocuted !

“Do people flush little, black, jelly-like bubbles down the toilet when they hate the stories that they have written?”

“Wow .. That is so, um.... you know, Post-modernistic!”, a buddy send me that sms in answer to my answerless question.

A million tiny suns in wonderful hues set inside the glassy eggs.

Its already past midnight nearing the enchanted hour when the little crystal eggs will hatch and baby pixies crawl out, spread their gossamer wings and come to peep at me and once more the shimmering sparkles will fly, rare tunes will be whistled, there will be delightful laughter, enticements … all the while, too sleepy to think straight, I will melt into this awesome dream mumbling “later…later…later”.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Bones ‘un -marrowed’

I prefer to use my ‘silly, fluffy, womanish’ brains to indulge in all the softy, stupid activities which would be of no interest to anyone but which gives so much exquisite joy to my existence.
I have force-fed my brain with some very bare basic facts about the happening around the world - just enough that would enable me to keep up an average conversation with my fellow human beings without getting dragged off into an asylum. Well otherwise my life is the personification of how a human life can survive each day by doing the most ordinary, mindless, harmless and uncomplicated things like spider -watching, blowing saliva bubbles, making circular tea-stains on the news paper, sipping a cup of coffee while watching ants climb up a tree trunk, making paper boats, hanging upside down, tickling a cat, slowly eating a slice of pineapple, face painting, re-reading a lovely piece of poetry. Well I'm atleast earning a decent living without burdening any other human being.

I write about the least important thing always. There was some point in this blog post but I’ve forgotten what it was.

~ Peace~

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Badly in need of title ideas

This will hopefully be the last of the sudden series of short pointless postings that has attained new levels of lousiness.
Someone started using the word ‘metaphor’ as a metaphor for everything that could have been described as anything under the sun except as a metaphor. Others saw it, and decided it was a clever idea and lifted it, more people saw that and repeated it, and this went on. Now everything is a metaphor - life, love, people, sex, paint brushes, politicians, telephones, recession, monsoon, typhoid, shit, movies blah, blah and more blah.
Every second blog including mine has a ‘metaphor’ used somewhere in some context which the writer thinks is spectacularly different and tremendous significant. Sometime back it was ‘paradigm’ before that ‘irony‘, ‘insecurity‘, ‘rocking’ and once upon a time ‘cool’ (there‘s more but I don’t remember).
Yet another example of how a word can be used, over and over and over by so many people in so many varied suitable and unsuitable contexts that now when I hear the word 'metaphor' it reminds me of a yellowish-brown, crumpled and re-smoothened, almost fossilised, slightly soggy toilet paper.

Above picture: Collage attempt with bits of an old atlas. Douglas Adams' quotes.

My current state of existence is too good to be true !!!
and I am painfully aware of its brevity.