Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Longing is an eternal gnawing of raw knuckles

The infinite imagined impossibilities
little perforations on the wall-
of linear thought, my targetless arrow.
Sometimes here, sometimes there
Sometimes caught in a horizontal stare.
Where does the waxy molten skin end?
Where do heavens begin? Dripping darkness-
all over the tiled floor and twitching fingers.
I curl into myself feeling bones eating bones.

Longing is an eternal gnawing of raw knuckles
I’m terrified of my love for you,
of its own destructive strength
howling within its furious silence.
How far does the musk of your sweat widen?
cross-stitched with the thunder in my eyes?
Demented, doomed in its incompleteness
a fine crochet of misery and longing
woven around my lichen grown face.
The little displacement of air, occupied
by my quaking frame is an endless desert
of tangled thorns, the garden of my torment.
Each time I feebly grope for you, you brute!
Needles of grief pierce something-
malleable, mad and metaphoric within.

Monday, September 13, 2010

In The Café One Afternoon

Even humdrum events,
the frothing cup’s rising steam,
or a paper bag spilling contents,
is a slow build-up to a curious dream.
Speech is redundant then, instead-
we balance the quietness on our tongues.

Inside us a thousand mad hornets
stir up a sand-storm which the-
bitter espresso fails to subdue.

You smile your languorous smile-
lips widen across half-shaven jowl.
I long to lick it up from your face-
that smile and the coffee perfume-
to welter in those endless skies
hidden in your mouth, and to
chew on the strange something
that always lingers there.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mobius Strip

An ever repeating sequence
By splitting yourself
You multiply.
One entity
of eternal replication
a convoluted connive
full of twists and turns,
an illusion of manifold faces
Trapped with yourself
in a Euclidean space.
disoriented, relentlessly circling
One sided, one edged
A flat - reality?
Or a depthless infinity?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Ode to Meris*

Meris, she seeks the eye-shaped
skeletal leaves, glow worms
shed by ancient autumns,
Her hand in vacant hover
invokes invisible moths.
Merihim! you, fallen angel
Meris, iris, Isis!
Soft tendril over
broken moonbeams.

Her scratching nib
sprouts leafy landscapes
Meris , Meresin,
The dark air before
the birth of a word-
a cloud, a song, a poem
Merisin, my sin, my medicine
Pain, yes, but bliss too.
my mood-swing, you moor wind!

A flame of pink
sprung from a grisaille paradise.
Not real, arboreal-
a mist of sunset, a roll of rainbow-
Merasin, mirage, a desert dream-
a potent purple poison,
tanha, tamanna
She, a treasure, a torment,
a blooming buttercup
Meris, my bitter cup.

* Insipred by Lorca's Ode to Salvador Dali
Picture above: Paper butterflies I made for my sister's birthday.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Love Letter

Dearest beloved…this is I speaking to you, yes me, you know me very well; rack your brains, think hard, how can you not know me? Of course, it will be a bit difficult to recognize me since you probably never imagined me speaking to you like this, but this where I was created - in your imagination. I don’t exist in the real sense of the term, I exist only in your mind, for you see, I am the girl of your dreams – your dream girl, the woman almost every man conjures up in his mind and long to bring to life. I am the manifestation of all that you want in a woman; the whimsical depiction of the way a man perceives how a woman should know and love him. And this love story is about us, about you and me, the greatest love story in any man’s life and the one which will hardly ever be a reality. No, don’t deny my existence, you cannot, you will have thought of me atleast at some point of your life, imagined my face, my mannerisms, my body….come on admit it my love, haven’t you fantasized me? Oh yes you have! Doesn’t all men, infact all humans, have a dream soul mate for whom they long for?

When does a guy first fantasize about his dream girl? Let me tell you, much earlier than you think. Breaking voices, downy beards and the first wet dreams are just physical manifestations of manhood. I know I was there in your mind way before that. I was there before social conditions, lifestyle and upbringing fashion a male psyche. I know you more than anyone else because that’s how you want me to be, that’s how you have made me to be. And we know that we share the most intense, sibylline and marvelous relationship on earth.

I am not a permanent representation of your ideal woman, I change overtime, acquire and let go of traits and physical attributes according to your whims and impulses. Sometimes I remain the same throughout your lifetime but mostly I change as you grow older and get to see more of the world. We both transform together usually don’t we? I attain all the pleasing characteristics that you find in your favourite actresses, models and other women you come across. If a character in a book or a movie has a quality you admire, you add it to me, making me better and more compatible to you. Think back…my love… was it Megan fox’s curves? Demi Moore’s sexiness? Cameron Diaz’s bubbliness? the cool intelligence of that pretty news reporter? perhaps the adorable craziness of the blue-haired rock star? the demure smile of the girl you saw at the bus stop? or the luscious expression of pleasure on the face of the woman in the porn flick you saw last week? Oh, wouldn’t it be so awesome if I could materialize in front of you, a conglomeration of all those delicious qualities? You build me like an unending jig saw puzzle, piece by piece, adding or discarding parts fashioning me into that perfect non-existent woman, the woman of your dreams.

You wish I were real, that I was there beside you to hold your hand, listen to you, and together do all those delightful, dark and magical things that you crave to do … in short, fulfill your wildest fantasies. I know my love, deep within me is that tender understanding that you constantly seek in other women of flesh and blood in whom you try to find my likeness.

I was the one you turned to comfort while you struggled with the complexities of adolescence - the fear of adulthood, peer pressure, identity crisis, the fuzzy stubble that took ages to grow and your own uncontrollable urges that you tried to satiate while you clung to me desperately and made me do what you will probably never get any woman to do for you. I sat by you for hours and perfectly understood your problems, your anxieties. I spoke at the correct times and remained silent when I knew you wanted to be alone, I gave you the perfect advices, the apt suggestion, smiled, frowned, laughed, all at the appropriate moments, oh how you yearned for my presence, how you wished that I really existed. I patted you, petted you, fondled you did everything exactly how you wanted it to be. I appeased atleast temporarily, your cravings, your confusions and your sorrow.

But I am not real, you knew it so my abilities stopped where your imagination ceased, the real world caught up with you while I lingered behind waiting for you to summon me into your presence once more.

The more you find traces of me in a woman, the more attracted you become to her. But they are not me, they are real people with limitations and hence imperfections. No one can be perfect as we are my love, you and I, in our secret little world.
Usually you hook up with a girl who resembles me the most. In each of her features and mannerisms, you try to identify me. Still they are not absolute because they are not me. But you will get used to them perhaps even learn to like them because, after all, reality is hardly ever faultless. At times your mind wishes they were different. “If only her hair was curly”, “If only she liked pizzas we could have had more fun”, “If only she wasn’t so obsessed with movies, we could have gone to the beach”, “Wish she wasn’t so pessimistic”, “Wish she had smaller lips”, “Why is she lying like a corpse? doesn’t she enjoy it?”, “Why doesn’t she understand that I don’t want her advises, I just want her to shut up and hold me”, “Damn that woman, doesn’t she know that I am so fucked up, why is she sitting silently?”, “Why is so inhibited about leaving the lights on?”, “Wish she would lighten up instead of brooding over my every remark”. Your heart screams in frustration, you try to mould her into me but eventually you sigh and give up, adapting yourself to the situation.

You spent all your life searching for me in other women. Perhaps you will find traces of me in them; remember that primary school teacher who had my appealing voice? the classmate who had my face? the cousin that you secretly wished weren’t your cousin? then in your girl-friend whom you initially thought was I until you discovered that I wasn’t fully visible in her and your wife, whom you dearly love yet at times you wished were a bit different?.You might even be permanently disillusioned, jumping from woman to woman, having affairs, craving only their bodies because you know you’ll never discover me in then.

There are times when you have killed me in anger, in despair when veracity hits you and you know I am a waste of your energy and time, but I don’t die so easily. However hard you try, every now and then in the deep stillness of the night, in some sudden flash, perhaps when you least expect, I come to you in a flood of passion and emotions. You cannot prevent me as I envelope you in my overwhelming embrace which is both blissful and torturous at the same time. I cannot let you go as much as you cannot let me go, we need each other to exist, my love.
Sometimes, once in a rare lifetime, I’ll manifest to you as a real woman. If you have that destiny then you’ll have the most fulfilling life which you will never regret. But such incidents are exceptional. Life is all about adjustments and making the best out of what is available. Hence, we constantly live in that enchanting realm where we enact our love story each day. In those moments you and I are filled with that immense joy, satisfaction and unbearable love all tinged with a sad realization that it’s not real because I am only a figment of your imagination. But we still hold on to it, you and I, because you need me and I need you. You still hope that one day I can come to you in real, be with you, touch you, caress you and love you the way you have imagined a thousand times over. It’s that hope that keeps our love going, that keeps our little fantasy world alive. I can exist as long as you have that spark of imagination left in you, as long as despair and age doesn’t drown out your dreams. Invoke me, my love, let me come into your dreams and spent precious moments in your arms once more. This is who I am, your dream girl and this is our love story.

Monday, June 14, 2010


Squares are gratifying,
neat, structured equilibrium.
A flattened finality,
reproduced in modern dwellings,
in handkerchiefs, in leaflets.
In the television that encloses-
unbounded experiences,
for the mind yearning to forget.

Circles, I see in daily living,
cornerless perpetuity,
the simplest symbol of
cosmic inescapability-
of seasons, menstruation cycles
birth, death and re-birth.

Rectangles, personification of
geometric elegance.
Houses, buses,
The urban garden of conclusiveness,
a four lined copybook of
carefully emulated alphabets.

But triangles loath I, fear too
their vacant supercilious shapes.
Odd numbered, indivisible
sometimes fraught with fractions-
triangles made me share him with her-
Me, him, her
Me, mine, him,
Him, me, her
Angle A, Angle B, Angle C
Acute, obtuse, isosceles,
slithering, shape shifting, sometimes-
a rigid unforgiving right angle,
at times equilateral which is worse,
as I get what she gets-
nothing more, nothing less,
then the possessive scalene that
fluctuates hope and despair!
Caught in the unchangeable rules
of triangle inequality, a tragic game,
So far apart, what painful perfection!
And one day it will break
the fixed lines, oh, it can’t go on indeed!
this seamless connection of agony-
he will go, she will go
Angle A and Angle B
and only C will remain,
no longer the part of-
a perfect line of you and me
but just another lonely point,
a dot, period.

Inspired after reading a Maths textbook.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


The hero, the heroine,
the man, the woman and
the apple, the quintessential plot.
And an off-stage guttural voice-
over a faulty microphone.
Throw in a snake for a dramatic effect
for a heart-wrenching twist.
A common one will do,
we’ll make the off-stage voice
mime the hiss and the dialogue.
the villain and the nemesis.

Some good props,
a large fictional tree
Some extras with wings,
with verses to sing.
Go check the slums, the prisons,
all baby-faces can join-
an hour’s pay and a can of beer.

A gentle persuasion,
a bite, more bites
Cover ups, blame games,
faulty lines, expletives.
Curtain falls, lights dim.

The play without script,
no rehearsal, no stage,
Nobody invited, no audience to clap,
The first tragedy enacted
And the ones who ask “why?” were damned.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dream and Awakening - A Random Piece

I had another absurd dream in which I am spying at a dining table from a dank wooden ceiling. I don’t know how I came to be on the ceiling, but I seem to be stuck there ( Infact a lot of my dreams seem to be related to ceilings). An enormous woman is serving chicken soup to two sniveling kids in blue uniforms. The woman is muttering curses and the soup is swirling and churning by itself in the bowls, strange chirping and cooing sounds came from the soup. Sometimes drops of soup formed shapes, became faces and belched loudly before dissolving into steaming liquid. In the background was an unnerving grainy sound like the white noise in the old TV sets. Suddenly my nose started to bleed. A drop of blood trickled down and fell plop right in the middle of the table. I watch with dismal horror as the three faces turn up to look at me. Instead of eyes I saw three pairs of hollow sockets through with appalling screams where echoing and filling the room. The faces shrunk around the eye sockets until all that was left were three lumps of flesh, each with a pair of dark chasms which emitted soulless shrieks.

I had a vaguely irritating sensation of being a displaced and slightly awkward Spiderman. I was definitely in the wrong movie, my hands were stuck, my mask was itching and before I could ponder further on the gender identity crisis which I’ll have to face if this is the state of things, I woke up and fell off the bed onto the suitcase below. It was raining outside; I suppose it was the sound of the rain which I heard as the white noise in my dream.

There is nothing to be done, I cant go back to sleep. I search my bag for fags, but the last one was soaked in yesterday’s rain so I had no choice but to throw it away and mutter some newly-learnt profanities at my snoring room-mate. It’s during times like this, when you wake up for no reason and cannot go back to sleep, that you are plagued by utterly gloomy thoughts that you have to forcefully stuff back into your head before it shrouds and suffocates you. I huddle in my blanket and watch the rain until daylight trickled in.

Hours later I go up to the dining hall to get my quota of food and a cup of watery coffee which comprises my breakfast. The pea stew was full of overcooked squashed peas bobbing on the surface like sludgy bubbles that appear on a swamp after someone had been sucked down.

I stared with my aching, blood-shot eyes at the soup. The peas and the onions floated about sometimes they looked like faces of goblins full of warts. I gave the stew a swirl with a spoon and the faces contorted, grinned, frowned and dissolved. I had an overwhelming sense of déjà vu. The rain lashed the walls, leaked in through the roof while I stuffed in the pieces of bread soaked in stew into my reluctant mouth and forced it down with sips of coffee. Somebody giggled seeing my stuffed, puffed up cheeks while I struggle to chew. I imagined their horror if I just choked and died on this piece of bread right now. But it wasn’t worth the effort. Later, while I was in the bus stuck between drenched bodies, I felt like laughing for no reason. Water slapped around our ankles and as the bus dragged on we staggered and rolled like a bundle of dead pythons in a suitcase.

Switched on system-wrote article-checked face book-article-facebook-banana chips-facebook-article-chips-facebook-dream-drink water-get depressed-watch rain-article-bite nails-article-facebook-talk with colleagues-think of names for a pet cat that I might get in future-bite nails-article-facebook-cough-article.

In the afternoon I dismantled the paper punch, collected the tiny round paper bits and dropped them down from the terrace. They fluttered down the moist air like fragments of baby dreams falling softly over an infant’s sleeping head. A sense of vertigo, the wet ground far below seem to be lurching and tilting. Pavements opened to reveal hidden hollows and terrible voices that can never occupy a body. I turn quickly, probably a little too quickly, causing a crick on my neck. After muttering another stream of expletives I walk down to my cubicle. Suddenly the 3.00 deadline which had earlier resembled a negligible little dung beetle now assumed the proportions of a rabid tyrannosaurus. Nursing the crick I settled down to finish the task. It’s Thursday anyway, two more days to go and then it’s –sigh – Sunday!

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Billion Beginnings

I must begin again,
over and over
from the scratch-
the long, red one-
on the left shoulder.
No, not there, here,
behind the ear-
see the scar? Open it!
Dismantle a few bricks-
you can place your finger in.
Feel it. A hard, papery wall.
Dig, claw, and clear the web,
bring a sweep, storm it clean.
The swinging doors never close-
but sway in the midnight breeze,
Come on, go on, go in.

Trace the elusive echo-
the tear on the fabric of present.
Past is the viscous oil, lazily floating,
at the bottom of an oval jar.
Upturn, shake, squeeze-
let it trickle, seep in through the tear-
become a tear and dribble down-
fill the limpid frame
with the tired resonance of long ago.

On a night
a hundred moons ago,
arced necks assembled
and watched the drama unfold-
of death, silence and blood.
Played out on the tarred dust.
Muted video, as though of-
a grainy sequence shot
with a clandestine camera-
it filled the amazed eye.
Blood black on the monochrome body,
broken, bend and lifeless.
A mass of destroyed ego.

It splayed out, sucking in all shades
inhaled breath, motion and emotion-
a slow shutter, a prolonged exposure,
a moment stilled, petrified
captured and stored
wrapped up in the shroud of past.

How memories can be conjured up!
When near-asleep, or sipping tea,
chewing a crumbling cake,
perhaps the sight of the empty cup
or of a spittle-speckled street.

Indelible streaks, looping footage-
playing over and over again,
emitting numerous beginning,
identical starts, like the morning anthem-
singing in all radios,
across the sub-continent.
On sooty walls, tea shops, shelves.
A systematic chorus of genesis.

I dread these snakes,
reptiles of still-born time,
fate and haunting irreversibilities-
biting their own tails and spinning out
unending beginnings, impossible endings-
the hours go on and on and on.

- Jeena Mary Chacko

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Hole in the Wall

A hole in the wall, in the lecture hall
A point of destruction, a poetic distraction
The indolent students’ idle fixation,
an entity defying definition.

The hole in the wall-
a subtle transition,
between concentration and suspended abstraction
We traced its spiralling roundness,
delved in its meandering distances.

The hole in the wall, the swallower of light,
sucker of rationale, the lifter-
of a vague, pestering pain.
As somna descends, the dark dot becomes two,
then many, bullet holes, sun spots,
minute black-holes inhaling logic, exhaling vacuum,
a continuum of deranged desires,
a conundrum for the languid observer.

Talks, subjects blend, mingled-
Hyper-reality, ethics,
Phantom-limb, all 'isms',
a whirl wind of minute beads-
connecting, disconnecting,
over my head, vaporizing
crystallizing into broken icicles,
in scraps of paper, underlined text books,
in sticky notes, on sweaty palms.

The hole in the wall, the only constant-
perpendicular above the teachers’ forehead.
The converse of the sword of Damocles-
unmoving, nonthreatening,
the object of idle speculation.
A persistent subject of arbitrary contemplation,
a subtle sensuality, a mid-morning perversion.

The hole in the wall, it inspired dreams,
of caverns, wells, wombs and wounds.
hazy edged, smooth, hung in semi-sleep-
it stared, got stared at, loathed and loved.
Hands itched to imitate it, nature copied it,
concentric circles carved on benches,
dark hollows under the weary eye rims,
dank concave mouths kissed in
unused toilets, shared emptiness
until inevitable boredom filled
between trembling tongues
and budding wisdom teeth.
Debates that went on in circles
like the hole in the wall
their unvarying inflexibility.

Hole in the wall, one day it was gone.
In time for the NAAC assessment,
the crumbling old  college
turned into a glossy university.
The hole was cemented up and white-washed over,
sank in silence into non-existence.

The romance ended, I graduated.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The theater of infinite possibilities

Ignoramus, dumbo,
punching bag, trash can,
divine mother,
comforting shoulder,
fuck doll, suggestion box,
watering can, humble pie,
father confessor,
sadist, masochist
classmate, soul mate
walking contradiction,
back-up plan, second-hand
safety net, life boat
spring flower, thunder storm
clinger, whiner
pretender, dream weaver
heart breaker, forgiver
cello-tape, skipping rope
poison, prison
succubus, cheshire cat
typewriter, hard drive
scissors, archives, Inbox
Voluptas, Medusa, Manna.

Theatre Of Infinite Possibilities, Life.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Learning to laugh

I watched ants making their way up the wall a whole hour. Watched the stinging hot white sky shooting painful rays into the room, shriveling my soul into a dried walnut – wrinkled, hard and useless.

When the detergent frothed up in white foam, I blew them out of the window. They fell down in wet patches, glimmered briefly in rainbow colours and then burst with tiny pops. For some reason it reminded me of distant mountains, walnut brownies and long walks through misty forests.

When I wrung each cloth, I imagined them as people, situations, lost opportunities. I break their necks one by one, squeeze out their lives, unsaturate them and spread out the skins.

The evening was spent in deliberate absence of remembrance, in staving off the inevitable, the imminent heaviness, the despair that will hit me with its monstrous blows. I laugh, I converse, I bite small mouthfuls of chicken dripping in sauce and chew, swallow along with a sob that rises from the throat, stifle an urge to scream.

I am nagged by small things, the unwashed lunch box, the dusty shoes, the very existence of the cloth bag, the silver mascara that I now will never use, and the memories that I’ll have to lock up in tiny cupboards, seal with beeswax and drown in the watery chasm of forgetfulness.

A pillow soaked in dilute salt, a pair of sticky eyes, red, bloated. For some reason I laughed hysterically at each lame joke that went on in that stupid movie - Jab We Met. What an irony life is! The cruelty of it was choking. I smirked mirthlessly at the heroine’s pathetic antics, her contrived liveliness. When the second portion of the movie dragged on I shut out my mind, eyes turned glassy and my face froze into a glassy smile.

Sorted out a portion of what needed to be sorted out, erase a line of memories. A rudimentary, unsuccessful attempt at lobotomy. New folders, large shopping bags dragged out to be stuffed with things that recently lost their significances.

A candle blown out in the unavoidable wind. Oh, the choices we make, the chances we take, the ruthless turn of events that level all decisions, all plans.
That night I got some lousy SMS forward that made me giggle uncontrollably - a metallic, hollow giggle that came from a heart-shaped hollow that once held something warm, happy and hopeful.

Fantasies have exhausted itself.

Tomorrow is another, another day of silences, of emptiness, of brave nonchalant plaster smiles, of immersion into mundane Monday work, and learning to laugh, to fake, to forget.


Monday, March 8, 2010


I was re-reading and chuckling over some of my old scribbling when I came across this short story I wrote two years ago on May 1, 2008.
It was a dull Thursday and terribly hot when I wrote it. Kindly excuse any lameness that you might find in the story.


She sat at the doorstep, a wrinkled mass of flesh and bones. On her hand was a ceramic bowl – cracked at the edge. In it were bunches of grapes. She put one into her mouth, chewed and spat out the seeds. One by one the little purple marbles went into that destructive, shriveled, pink hole to be crushed and swallowed – the very core, the essence, the seed – spat out.
A young male voice called from inside
She lifted her head, slowly, languorously as if waking from a hundred year old sleep. Leaving the ceramic bowl on the steps, she went inside.
I watched this scene of everydayness from where I sat on the roof. My tiny heart went out to those helpless bunches of grapes waiting to be crushed.
The roof was a comfortable place to sit; warmed up by the morning sun. I stretched myself upon it. My yellow fur is nicely warmed in the afternoon sun and my whiskers are almost shimmering with a silver sheen. I give my left paw a thorough cleaning. I licked away the tiny bits of hair, blood and dust on it until it was moist and pink with cleanliness.
The woman was back on the steps resuming the process of crushing each grape between her teeth. My elliptical pupils contracted until they became thin black lines across the glassy green disks. My tail twitched angrily. Adjusting my furry body, I leapt into space, blindly crashed onto the bowl, upset it and vanished into the public waste bin.
The woman yelled curses after me. I watched her wrinkled face contorted with fury. The cracked bowl lay empty on the dusty road and the grapes rolled off in all directions. She limped away inside muttering.
The putrid stench of the rotting waste inside the garbage bin and the warm sun on my back made me drowsy. Sinking upon the bursting plastic bags I dreamt…

I dreamt that I was a 22-year-old woman. The window in my room is high and small, barred diagonally. The panes were of translucent glass on which I stuck old film negatives so that the setting rays passing through the old films illuminated the room in a brownish glow. The walls turned amber as if brushed with a coating of rich honey. It was like being inside a gothic cathedral. The window was so high that if I looked out all I saw was the roof of the neighboring house and a neem tree in the distance.
I saw a cat crouching on the roof, a funny cross-eyed cat. I looked intently at it for so long that the barred window seemed superimposed on the cat. Its yellow fur gleamed golden and the bars in the foreground stood out in stark contrast.
The cat suddenly got up and leapt off.
I heard a loud clatter.
And I woke up.

I can’t decide when I can sleep or wake. Sometimes against my will I’m put to sleep. And when in the midst of a splendid dream I’m rudely awakened. It’s all because I’m not a living being, just a soulless object, a digital gadget.
I belong to a bearded guy with a gloomy face. Each day I hang helplessly from his thin scrawny neck. If the black strap breaks, I’ll fall and die – no I’ll be destroyed. I belong to that category of objects that don’t have souls. We don’t die, we are destroyed.

I hung on to the black strap in a dreamy sleep.
The bearded face was pressed against me, a bony finger groped, forcing my eyes open. I looked at the blurred landscape, but only briefly. I’m not allowed to look where I want to – the bony hands manipulated my eye lens and I was forced to stare at the deep, orange center of the flower. But that wasn’t enough for my bearded owner. He adjusts my eyes and moved me closer to the flower (I longed to look away) until my entire vision was filled with the orange petals.
With a click I memorized its smooth surface, the subtle difference in the shades and the red core deep inside.
This is my life, just stare and memorize whatever I am made to see - my sole purpose of existence.
I also have a bulb inside me so that I can see everything clearly in case the lighting was not good. How many plastered smiling faces have I memorized – such useless scenes that I have no wish to remember. Up, down, sideways – I’ve looked in everyway possible memorizing faithfully what my bearded boss wanted me to.

But after a point my capacity to retain what I saw ends, a point where I have memorized so much that I am simply not able to capture another fragment of information. When I’ve reached this point he opens me up. I can feel the cool air touching my insides and my memory is taken away.
Is this what it feels like to be dead?
To loose all conscience, to sleep a dreamless sleep?
Then I must have died a thousand deaths.
I’ve heard him talk about death and soul when he wasn’t talking about world matters. I’ve seen him with his friends sitting in low couches with cups of steaming brown liquid in their hands, talking, waving their hands, airy gestures, while in the background lay fat books and bundles of newspapers. I am forced to memorize their faces so many times!

Now it is the face of a longhaired girl that I had to capture. She stood next to a diagonally barred window decorated with strips of fading negatives. The light that fell on her face was soft and golden – I guess it was evening. My owner was talking to her in a distracted voice.
‘Chin up’
‘a little to the left…’
The girl obediently moved her head staring right into me. Then he pressed his eyes close to mine (how I loathed his oily face that left smudges on me). I captured her glowing cheeks and melancholy eyes.
‘Memory card’s full, damn!’ he growled.
For a moment I panicked, I wanted to see more, I didn’t want to die now, not so soon...there… on the table I saw a bunch of peacock feathers shimmering blue and green, out of the window I sensed the presence of living things, breathing, pulsating, beautiful, ephemeral things that will one day receive the touch of death. How I longed to see them! Things that weren’t dead like me, but oh, so gloriously alive!
But I heard the familiar scratchy noises.
I was opened up – I knew my conscience would be lost. And when I regained it, I’ll forget all that I saw- my mind would be blank – ready to store up fresh memories, to be taken out again… again and again.
Bony fingers reached into my depths.
I died.

I lived in a container. When she opened the lid, I woke up with a start from my slumber. I’m neither solid, liquid nor gaseous – just a yellow gooey mess. The container bore the label ‘Almond under-eye cream ‘Every night she opens the lid and takes a little bit of me to put it under her eyes. I found it funny yet felt important that I was part of her daily regime.
I can be at many places and at the same time be one single entity with a single thought.
I was there as a part of her until she washed me off. Then I melted and went down with the water. Every day I shrunk inside the container, while the parts of me traveled in bits …growing smaller and smaller until I was so insignificant that I no longer cared to observe or think.
She had switched off the light and sat in the semi darkness. I could feel her thin skin on which I was smeared.
Minuscule wrinkles had already appeared on it and soon they will get deeper and longer until she resembles the grape-eating old woman. Keeping away the half eaten plate of toasts she slept. While I, according to the promises on the container should begin my work of replenishing, rejuvenating the skin and reducing wrinkles and dark circles. I don’t know whether I could do it or not – all that matter to me is that I existed and in the dark I fell into a dreamy sleep.

Dreams are tunnels, black holes that distorts space and time. Mystifying, miasmic, magical and malevolent. Once, centuries ago I learnt how to distill them. I had a pale purple shawl then, covered with occult patterns, embroidered with yarns of spider-web dipped in opal dust off a dying moth’s wing. I cackled all night those days, screamed at the bats, stole snake-eggs and spent 235 years fashioning a teapot that can hold everything that escape through the little slits between sleep and wakefulness. I called them the ‘Things-that-Escape’.
But the chasm was too deep and the torrent was too strong that my poor teapot could barely gather a few luminous drops of those ‘Things-That-Escape’. I brew them over medium flame and wove the little wisps of smoke into grey gossamer pillows. Later when I heard that I am going to be driven out of the town, I scattered them over the sleeping townsfolk and escaped. They lived the rest of their lives in sapient peace.
At the break of dawn dreams condense into sticky bluish resin-like clumps and hang in the air. I collected them in old soda bottles and blocked them with silver marbles. The kids loved the ice cold lemonade with a subtle flavour or mint and ginger. They all grew into script writers and weather forecasters.
Later I got bored with it, this make-believe world, it was seeping into my carefully preserved mundane reality, I had to stop. One April night I slipped into a nightmare from which I woke up with a shudder, sweating and terrified.

She was writing yet another story. She was always writing stories but they stop half way because she can’t think of any conclusions. Yesterday her photographer friend clicked her snap as she stood on a high stool next to the window. The alarm bell rang. She dumped the bundle of half finished stories and the half eaten toast into the dustbin. Her eyes were sticky with the cream she put around it, mingled with the kohl from previous day. She still remembered a little bit of the dream she had the previous night, of eating grapes, cleaning her paws and then brewing tea inside a cracked, battered teapot.
She stepped out into the hot afternoon sun; the dusty road was empty except for some grapes strewn around.
In spite of the ban on plastics announced by the district collector, the corporate garbage bin near the road was overflowing with plastic bags filled with waste. She dumped her share of waste tied inside a plastic bag.
The cat gave a start as the bag landed in the bin. It yawned – a big mouthy yawn that swallowed half of its face, stretched and looked up at her. Eyes stared at crossed-eyes. Tail twitched and then relaxed. The cat meowed softly and jumped out. It was thirsty from the long slumber in the hot sun. She walked away. The grapes decayed under the hot sun, flies covered it. The cat was lapping up the slimy water in the open drain near the road. Later it sniffed at the rotting grapes and walked away.

Somewhere inside the white washed house the wrinkled grape-eater slept, dreaming of depressed cameras, cynical eye-creams, oily faced photographers, cross eyed cats and of a paranoid woman. She chuckled softly in her sleep.


"A mouth opens within another mouth
and within this mouth another mouth
and within this mouth another mouth
and so on, without an end
it is a sad perspective."

- Hans Arp (The Domestic Stones)


Saturday, February 20, 2010

The half-hearted recordings of a few phenomenal apparitions

Grapes and potato chips. The seedless sweet dark grapes and potato chips. I wish I got nostalgic and longed for the seeded, sour semi-purple globules I ate once. But I didn’t, I was wishing that the chips didn’t make so much noise while I ate them.

Chips apart, lets focus on the train. There were always trains, chugging, rattling, squealing to a painful stop and starting again. They moved through the beaten paths and left behind a trail of metal memories. Once I woke up at dawn to find one chugging around the edge of my toe nail. Ten years later I saw one entering an ear-shaped tunnel. For weeks I felt it crawling over the vein-covered cranium until it found a small gap on the wet floor. It passed through the crack and entered the secret garden within. The gardener was a dwarf covered with blue warts. It was a neglected, overgrown garden full of mushrooms and weeds. Later the train came out through another ear-shaped tunnel.

Imagine a super-long slug moving over a clump of over-cooked pasta. A metal-and-wood centipede on moving wheels. I am tired of thinking things that happen for real. The garden cannot be cleared and the dwarf cant be bothered. It had remained untended too long and was choking with fleshy pink , grey and white creepers, thorny stems, black orchids and cypress trees. Broken toys and green marbles lay scattered on the ground.

The warty dwarf stuck its hand inside its mouth and turned itself inside-out. Have you seen the reverse side of a wart? On the reverse side are tiny sparkling round mirrors. Have you seen a warty dwarf turned inside-out? It looks like a small, brown, oblong cushion studded with mirrors. The innards, intestines, veins and arteries curved and twirled into a rich and intricate embroidery over the soft brown surface. And the bones? They had long ago sprouted into giant mushrooms and got eaten by the slugs.

The train turns into a finger and runs over the embroidery, the sparkling mirrors and the soft surface.

You know what they say about shadows? Shadows are the anti-matter that remained after the soul is created out of reflections and liquefied emotions. It cannot exist by itself, the anti-matter, so it attaches itself to the soul and takes the shape of the body. It doesn’t have a volume or a mass, its just dark nothingness. Your shadow comes alive when you are sleeping and stand vigil over your unconscious, watching the dreams trickling in and floating out. At the waking hour they snip off the sharp edges, the umbilical cord of the dreams, fold them into paper planes and throw them out of the window. Or else the dreams will stay stuck to the mind and seep into your daily life.

The paper planes made from folded dreams glide along fine waves made up of wish particles. Wishes and dreams blend well, both are slightly citrus scented and very light to touch. They can be rolled up tight like toilet paper and flung into the air where it will form an arc like a rainbow and shower the world with watches, perfumes, coins, hot teas, party dresses, tickets and football jerseys.
Fear works better. Because fear is liquid, pure white liquid like milk. Pure fear without any adulterated contents like hope or faith is so white that it glows in the dark. Soak the tight roll of dreams and wishes in fear and squeeze it over the sleeper. A stream of sludge pours out. The sludge is red, colour of dried blood and fills the head with nightmares.

Lets get back to the train.

Its rattling over a dark city with twinkling lights. There are two fans stuck to the ceiling, encased in a metal mesh clogged with dirt and dust and dried chewing gum. There is a red panda above one of the fans. I thought I had seen his broken body lying in the dwarf’s garden. But now he’s here, in the train. He is grinning at me, only at me and not others because no one can see him. I know he is going to open his mouth and scream. He can make the train run off the track, jump over the wall and go gallivanting over the hills. I ask him to shut up. He blinks, breathes deep and rock with the movement of the train.

The panda is my old friend. I met him when I was 5. He came in through the window while I was trying to stuff back a dream into my head. It was trying to wriggle out of my ear and escape. I banged my head against the wall. The panda pulled out the dream and turned it into a gob of mayonnaise and threw it right on my face. Splat! The mayonnaise hardened and became a mask. Its pretty, the panda said, but it wont stay forever. Preserve it, here, use a hair spray every week and a coat of varnish ever year. He smiled.

Watery coffee, it’s the standard rule of the railways. Like the once-a-month hair-spray rule, the daily gargling rule and the million other rules. My nose is reflected on the surface on the coffee, each pore on the nose enhanced. It looked like a round, brown, mouthless monster with two dark sockets instead of eyes.

The passing landscape is played backwards, upside down on the milky, watery surface of the coffee. A fast moving coffee-world, where everything is brown, upside down and silent. Coming? the monster asked. I turned away. The panda jumped onto my lap and then into the cup after the monster, they disappear. In the coffee-world he’ll live inside a quaint espresso-maker under an old oak tree. He’ll eat crimson ice-candy, play with balloons all day and ride a bicycle over long windy roads. He’ll also get cute friends like Winnie-the-pooh, Mad hatter and Tinker-bell and he’ll forget me because I’m all grown-up now and don’t believe in fairies, toys which come alive after dark nor talking pandas who play with dreams.
I was caught somewhere between a laugh and a sigh. I drank up the coffee-world, threw out the cup. The mayonnaise was getting a bit gooey. I fished out the hair-spray and sprayed my face. The mask was fixed, perfect, not a scratch, like a smooth eggshell staring out of the window.

Only the grey-blue train rattled on. Grey-blue, the colour of the seats, of the fan, of corpses, of unremembered dreams.


Then take me disappearin' through the smoke rings of my mind,
Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves,
The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach,
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow.
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free,
Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands,
With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves,
Let me forget about today until tomorrow.

- Bob Dylan (Tambourine Man)


Monday, January 11, 2010

Nine souls

"In the sunset of dissolution, everything is illuminated by the aura of nostalgia, even the guillotine." - Milan Kundera

They were no longer separate individuals, but a single creature with nine tongues, nine hearts and one raw instinct - survival.
Friendships quickly formed, foes too; bitchiness is inevitable. Women are the biggest misogynists I read once, sadly there is a lot of truth in that.
It’s the animal impulse for survival I think, the fight for attention, to get the best mate, to preserve, to procreate. Refinement can never take away inborn instinct. But something greater held them together, made them forget, at least overlook the differences, the irritations, the suspicious. They lived, bathed, cooked, watched the sunsets and sunrises, bonded.

It was the summer of disillusionment; of incompleteness; of loss

Icings smeared across faces, birthday songs, laptops exchanged, borrowed milk, love, trust, reluctant sharing of space and the evening talks, so many evenings that scattered like burning blobs of revelations across that one year. That’s when the guts were spilled, where they exposed each other’s shameful secrets.

They are very good at coercing someone to talk, no truth potion required, just the right setting. Words tumbled over each other, incoherent, spurts of giggles.

Throat cleared, an encouraging hand pats a nervous back. The story continues with all the delicious details.  They drank in every word. Each pair of eyes shining, dilated, transported into different imaginary worlds where the stories were enacted as plays, nine separate plays, but one story.

Same story, same old story.

 Any given day the cloths line was full. Full of swishing, dripping wet cloths along with half-dried and fully dried ones waving in the wind. It filled the cemented terrace with the airy scent of detergent. It was a fabric extravaganza - pastel sheets, crimson and yellow dupattas, skirts in earthy shades, sparkling t-shirts, cotton kurtas and chaddis galore.

Chaddis, a heterogeneous mass - pink, green and blue, chaddis with pretty bows, laces, chaddis in satin, chaddis with naughty phrases, branded chaddis with the brand names proudly displayed all over them, chaddis that were washed with special soaps, shampoos and fabric conditioners - all fluttering like strange flags in the afternoon sun and gathered at twilight into sweet smelling colourful piles on the beds.

And then there were those sensible, uninteresting, quadrilateral chaddis that hung dripping in stoic silence. The ones washed with plain bar soap, dried, meticulously folded and arranged in drawers - no frills or fluffs, mere utilitarian existences.

Finally there were the sad, threadbare chaddis - scrubbed clean but still having faint indelible stains. The shabby chaddis, torn and re-stitched - the black and red thread like fresh, sore scars on wrinkled skin. The miserable, shameful chaddis soaked in loneliness. These were never flaunted, they never flapped proudly in wind. No, these sulked under half-dried skirts, under damp bed sheets and fading t-shirts. They never felt the wind nor the sun, but the filtered musty air through wet fabric pores. There they crouched quietly and dried slowly, their owners are ashamed of them but desparately took care of them - gently washing them at night, secretly and furiously stitching up the tears. Sometimes they are caught peeking under a careless shirt or seen when they fall down accidentally from a clumsy hand (if the hand isn’t quick enough to hide them in the bundle of dry cloths). Once seen, they wear the look of a criminal guilty of heinous crimes. Under the burning disgusted eyes, they cringe. Their owners, with fearfully beating hearts instantly disown them ("eww.. how can anyone were this! must be R...'s"). They are gawked at, mocked and kicked to a corner where they lie alternatively drying and drenching in the sun and rain until they disintegrate and disappear one day. 

Four years have passed since the nine souls dispersed, flew, walked and crawled away.
The walls filled with million scrawls are repainted perhaps; the cockroach infested shelf that once held nine mugs, nine plates, several orphaned spoons, forks, and plastic jars might now holds a different set of things.

It wasn’t the end, the conclusion or the one giant step as I expected it to be. It was not the metamorphosis, nor the transitions; it was just a mediocre, microcosmic sample of life as everywhere else. Routine followed by routine, even the not-so-routine soon became routine. It was just a game, a gambling, with no second chances. No going back and reliving, no, your course is over kid, move out and move on.
The giggles, the conversations, the secrets, the screams, the tears, the boy friends, the crushes, the loves, the tragedies, the fights, the food, the laughter - all so human, so forgettable, so sad.

Friday, January 1, 2010

January 2nd

Constrains, remorse tarnish me
Selective amnesia, emotional paralysis
Books pile up read, re-read, underlined, highlighted, and worn;
given away with a subtle arrogance. You fools!
Remnants of delectable nectar stain the stomach lining-
half-chewed chicken churn in the digestive juices.

You sigh and whisper an expletive,
that reverberates, like an eternal echo-
through my trembling self, a shell.
It wasn’t a mockery you plead, I smile.
I turn my fleshless skull skywards,
awaiting a single drop of solace.

A brand new diary, the old diaries some pulped,
some lost, some stolen, hidden in hated nooks,
the rest, like tombstones, arranged
in straight line on the cemented shelf.
Cynical lipstick, frosted cherries always the same colour;
Year after year, brownish orange like anodyne blood-
dried too soon, coating a bloated lip.

Cobwebs creep across the drying decked up tree-
Sudden longing for parents, for things that were.
Voice break, swing between fantasy and reality,
grows larger until it swallows the frame-
takes a form, becomes a lost paradise.

Kisses, “surprise!” yelled into deaf ears, hugs.
wrapped goodies, another book, another bangle
an envelope smelling of roses, a crisp currency.
Advanced, belated, you name it, its there.

Grasshopper treads softly over the yellow leaves, dew-laden,
green, curved needles, construction of cells and tissue;
pierced patterns invisible,
dew falls silently, like transparent pot-bellies.

Ear strain to catch a sound, a plop-plop. Nothing.
Damn. the tongue has lashed through clenched teeth.
Reflex action, the God has lost control over his creation,
they obey their own laws; mind scolds the unruly pink invertebrate,
it screams again, mocking, the faceless head thrashing,
eye sniggers, the grey matter grumbles.

A useful box of handkerchiefs, immaculate white, blue bordered,
no kitten this year too, atleast a tiny gold fish?
Curry, conversations, a candle blown-
piece of icing and cake stuffed into a wrinkled mouth,
The weary tongue barely tastes the creamy morsel.

Sorrow of unfinished deeds, incomplete thoughts
Unfulfilled dreams, a vague scrawl,
etched, charcoal-black, across the moon mirror.
The pink head twitches again, curling and tasting unspoken words
mind throbs angrily, silences the wet slob;
rattles against the drying skull, a rasping sigh.

Ego gives away to egolessness;
Suspended animation, a limp balloon.
Cataracted inner eye shuts slowly
Cerebral metabolism has slowed down
Creaking bones strain with each move.

Age has withered thoughts,
A stale, out-dated fragment
An archaic ramble; the metaphorical toothlessness,
A long drawn bitter shriek-
I mumble intelligibly while the rest of the world moves away;
grating breath leaves odour of decayed memories.
Shrunken, withered, old
Senility hath set in

I turned 24 today.