Monday, October 5, 2009
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)