Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Musings

I am becoming more and more removed from the world, from the things that I used to understand and the things that understand me.

I witnessed the death of an experiment when I saw the ridiculous disappointment in a parent's eyes when his son told him that he wanted to become a cartoonist.

There are two kinds of people, the ones who love their school-days and believe those were the best days of their lives and the ones who love their college days. I belong to the first category, I still miss school. Somedays I dream of waking up as a child again from a terrible nightmare about being a grown up and running to school. College was a disappointment except for that one brilliant but eccentric teacher who taught us film-making and that old, magnificent  library.

Small things return to me from time to time, like the book 'To the Lighthouse' that I once read. I was a maladjusted undergraduate when I picked up a cheap edition of this remarkable book from a road-side bookseller. But the moment I started reading it, a whole new world burst open upon me, I stepped into an avenue of new experiences and a new level of aesthetics that I was unaware of previously. Reality faded along with the petty and trivial jabberings of my classmates and the shallowness and maliciousness that surrounded me. Suddenly nothing seem to matter, all those trivial things that the world thought was important seem to crumble and melt.
It was the second part, 'Time Passes' that filled me with so much of something incomprehensible, a rich sense of mellowness and nostalgia and a desire to love, protect and live in that beauty of everydayness. From then on there was no turning back, I regained that sense of wonder I had as a child, I realised that adulthood was optional, I may grow old, but I refuse to grow up and be sucked into that ridiculous bigoted world.


"So loveliness reigned and stillness, and together made the shape of loveliness itself, a form from which life had parted; solitary like a pool at evening, far distant, seen from a train window, vanishing so quickly that the pool, pale in the evening, is scarcely robbed of its solitude, though once seen. Loveliness and stillness clasped hands in the bedroom, and among the shrouded jugs and sheeted chairs even the prying of the wind, and the soft nose of the clammy sea airs, rubbing, snuffling, iterating, and reiterating their questions —”Will you fade? Will you perish?”— scarcely disturbed the peace, the indifference, the air of pure integrity, as if the question they asked scarcely needed that they should answer: we remain.


Nothing it seemed could break that image, corrupt that innocence, or disturb the swaying mantle of silence which, week after week, in the empty room, wove into itself the falling cries of birds, ships hooting, the drone and hum of the fields, a dog’s bark, a man’s shout, and folded them round the house in silence. Once only a board sprang on the landing; once in the middle of the night with a roar, with a rupture, as after centuries of quiescence, a rock rends itself from the mountain and hurtles crashing into the valley, one fold of the shawl loosened and swung to and fro. Then again peace descended; and the shadow wavered; light bent to its own image in adoration on the bedroom wall..."   


-  Virginia Woolf (To The Lighthouse)




Some dawns ignite in me an overwhelming desire to get out of my bed and run away, just grab a few essentials and sprint for life. I am yet to figure out from what I want to run away.

Friday, March 2, 2012

March


March is always a month of indecisions, of sparse preoccupations and of deep, deep incomprehensible sorrow. The morning sky is stretched out like a stale, over-chewed blue bubble-gum. I can almost smell the March sky, it smelt of lengthy delays, long-distances and of old buses. It turns its enormous, sticky eye at me all day long, its gaze becoming fiercer as the day starts to sweat a fine mist of despair. Things change in March, I suddenly notice things, how they have grown old, how their stubborn stains and shadows remain clinging to the walls, the drain pipes and in memories. It leaves an unpleasant taste at the back of my throat. The slush left by an old monsoon flood has eaten into the metal gate, the silver and sangria patterns on the corroding gate appear in layers, like a stack of x-rays. Bones and wings of exotic creatures, fossils of carboniferous plants and eyes of giant dragonflies all showed through the rust. There is something about rust that is so alluring; it is a reminder of the fickleness of things. It’s distressing to know that I cannot remove the ugly green paint on the house next to mine, or bury the broken bangles that I found lying on the side walk. The pigeons outside my window will never talk to me. Someone once told me that my eyes were the colour of rust; I didn’t know if that was a compliment or an insult. Perhaps all the memories of the universes I’ve seen are now slowly rusting away from my eyes.
Every night I nervously huddle in my bed with a stack of books feverishly turning pages, trying to eat up the pages or perhaps willing, almost beseeching the pages to consume me, allow me to sink into the multiple worlds it held within its lines. This is like a secret ritual that I performed possessively and obsessively along with the lines I bleed onto my notebook - oh, you can’t call it something as banal as writing. The words struggle to fit into the rigid shapes of the alphabets, grammar, phrases and sentences. But there is something more here that I struggle to capture, an elusive something like a torn wing of a fairy fluttering on a dusty window sill, always a little beyond your desperate grasp. There it dances manically and all you can catch is the fine dust it leaves on your finger tips and its filigree-like lengthening shadow trembling on the wall.
There is a tree outside my window that is always laden with heavy pomegranate-coloured flowers. The petals look like clusters of puppy-ears, furry and creamy attracting myrid bees, cuckoos and one lone squirrel.  I may not see it ever again and this makes me want to cry so I kept watching it yesterday until the sun set. In March ordinary things assume significance, the stack of empty instant-noodle cups have grown taller over the months, the tear on the pillow case has become longer and I am possessed with an intense pain at the thought of leaving behind the small pencil scribbles on the wall above my bed.
March is when old memories visit you. As a child I used to scream in terror and wake up in the middle of the night from monstrous nightmares and my parents rushed to me with glasses of hot water, a jar of Vicks vaporub and sometimes even a small tidbit to calm me down, a rolled up chappati with red jam dripping over the sides or a few milk biscuits. After marking a customary cross on my forehead, they bundled me back into bed and left sleepily. I lay there for hours blinking and staring into the inky blackness forming shapes that watched me with their dark eyes. Everything had eyes at night, even the innocuous sofa, the derelict cupboard and the half-open door opened their tiny, piercing black vacant eyes and watched the huddled, frightened girl. I fearfully strain to catch the last, sleepy mumbles of my parents as the replace the vessels in the kitchen, trip over the hall mat, bump into some furniture and finally go to bed. When the last sigh and the last cough had died down, then begins my lone fearful vigilance;  my gaze madly bounding from wall to wall, to the table, to the cupboard, to the inky darkness beyond the door, the ticking of the clock, wondering when the first blue light of the day would dispel the terrors in the room. Falling asleep was hard each night, especially on nights when I knew by some instinct that the dreams were going to be bad. The prettier dreams left me delirious in the morning as I woke up with my fists in tight clenches hoping against hope that I was still holding the hand of the cute, cerulean fairy who visited me in my dream, or perhaps a handful of moon-like dream pebbles that I picked from a forest stream.
As I grew, I stopped having those hideous nightmares; I suppose the nightmares of daily living in an adult world full of terrors left me too exhausted to dream of further horrors. What I see now are amorphous;  flickering  pools, spilling, swirling shadows, shape-shifting organic diagrams and mirrors that laughed at themselves, burst into million pieces and swallowing  iridescent landscapes.
Last time I went to my home town, one of the old nightmares returned, I don’t remember the details except that I knew that it was March, that it was hot and that there where cruel, disgusting, uncannily human-like creatures in my dream, all slowly, cruelly taking apart a shabby China doll.  I woke up screaming and my parents, though a bit surprised, again brought me glasses of warm water, dabbed Vicks vaporub on my head and nose and put the cross on my forehead. But this time my parents didn’t leave me and go back to their bed, something made them stay with me for a while, eventually my mom lay next to me for a long time stroking my head. Perhaps they knew that leaving me alone this time might send me over the brink, the darkness would have probably broken me. The furniture didn’t open their vacant eyes that night. Despite being a grown woman and definitely stronger than my mother, I felt much safer feeling her fingers on my hair. The next morning I was unusually cranky and found transparent violet smudges on my windows. I am yet to figure out what they are. While leaving, I picked up a handful of pink seeds from a broken seed pods, they were sighing. I wish I knew what seeds they were. A bird wailed in the wind, its sound elongating over the electric lines. Dawn was breaking and I knew I could go on and on, it’s March after all, when things just start losing their outlines. 


Picture: Seeds found outside my home.