Tuesday, June 18, 2013

And Through Yellow Eyes: An Ode to Memory

My skin glistens with a pale yellow hue, eyes too full, unbrimming, pen too far, hand unsteady. Words too quiet, the heat too thick for voices to trickle through; another poem evaporated off the golden, fever-skin. I have no measurable sleep, no meal track, yet my skin tells me stories of food, and my eyes of unsleep, of my weeping liver.  My worries are pleated into the musty folds in the air. Bloody hepatitis, another soul-sucking monster on my back draining me slowly, leaving me a feeble, quivering vegetable.  

I seem to have been given a faulty, leaky, unhealthy body to live in. Every six months I am down with some annoying, sometimes life-threatening illness. As a child I remember recovering, as if in a dream, from leptospirosis. I sank and surfaced from a fever that gave birth to this flickering, gauzily giggling, tentacled and winged flocculation of microbial creatures that now live with me inside my head. They keep growing comelier, crazier and somehow more real with every illness.

More sprit-crushing diseases followed and followed me all the way to adulthood, and this year, after barely recovering from my second nasal polypectomy I am down with hepatitis. The usual routine; doctor’s annoying, brisk humour, parent’s worry, the copious amount of blood pulled out of my body for various tests and I am finally left in peace with a bunch of pills and a hot wipe with diluted antiseptic - to recover. Days spent just blinking at the walls that turn watery, misty and then melting off before my flickering eyes.  Everything is hitting my pupil with horrifying clarity. There are either fuzzy yellow blotches or dead bees scattered over the tiled floor. Ants crawling on the floor looking like a crowd from afar. Ants are such an integral part of my adult life, accurately describing life’s utter triteness and its hideous recurring pattern. I wish butter came in shapes of thunder bolts and leaves instead of soft, yellow slabs.

These 5 ‘o’ clocks are so swollen with beauty: the flushed sun brimming over the silver birches and bamboo groves and the crowding nimbus clouds making love to the trembling ground.  Shadows of embryonic thunders that will grow monstrous branches and vein across the sky at night and tomorrow the ground would have given birth to mushrooms, scores of them huddling around mossy rocks and gnarled roots.

From my iron cot, I can see into the depths of the forest, a million, quivering, parting, crowding charmingly insignificant details revealed by every trickling breeze. A dew soaked tendril hugging a branch reaching up, up as the sun’s rays sparkles through the limpid crystal depths of each droplets. A peel of avian laughter echoes within the rippling green depths of the trees and furry feet bound across mossy branches.

Every moment a leaf, a breeze, a thunder or a squirrel rustles, rushes, rumbles and remembers.

Just lying here, looking at the sky filtering through the million libellula-wings, the pealing bark of the silver oaks...one soon grows beyond the flesh, becomes something porous, transparent, soaking up the stillness and expands wisp by wisp into a dreamscape of greens, silver and blue. I want to become that pale after-taste of purples lingering among wet leaves, the blazing orange definitions seen in pendulous cumulus billows at sunset.  I long to evaporate, expand into this vastness; become everything: the crackles and crunches, chirps and wails, the smells, the vague cloudy depths, the thousand murmurs of leaves whispering to the rain.  

All this lying down in a feverish-stupor doing nothing but swallowing pills and gallons of boiled water has turned me into a being so insanely and desperately living in my memory. Nabokov once stated:   “I think it is all a matter of love; the more you love a memory the stronger and stranger it becomes …”

I am in love with the memory of love which in turn is love itself. And the sharpest memories are the oldest, the first page of the first textbook, the first alphabet feverishly penciled on a four-line notebook, the first friend, the first shared biscuit, and then a shocking myriad of the loveliest memories.

I had one of the most amazing childhood (not a bouncy, fun filled, candy-coloured one) but an introspective, slow, sublime kind of upbringing in a rather quiet neighbourhood which enabled me to really savour the joy of being with myself surrounded by a books, trees, an old, old house (I used to live in a house that was nearly 100 years old) and imaginary friends. But what I keep going back to most of the time is to the memories of my school. A cluster of old buildings, almost like something from a gothic fairy-tale with vast corridors, old labs, spiralling stair-cases and large, large trees with gnarly roots and spreading leaves.The quietest utopia hidden in the heart of a bustling city, the very air there was different, vibrated differently. It was more crystalline, purified, and strangely limpid as if everything was immersed in an infinitely precious, gossamer medium.

Everything was tinged with the aura of a pristine and irrational exquisiteness. And that is what I learnt there, to love, live and celebrate the mellow ululations, subtle convolutions, the minuscule, the illogical but the oh-so achingly prepossessing beauty of ordinariness.

I miss that sense of security that I haven't felt anywhere since. Sometimes I feel that it was all a kind of a transcendental dream. I think nothing else in life since could be compared to those times, I live in the past, clinging to it, and by loving it, it becomes more dazzling until I have arranged it in my head, a tiny sanctuary that I visit more and more often now.

 In my hot delirium I occasionally catch myself joyfully sprinting, skipping over a pebble, a root or a patch of leafy ground running after some vague but alluring giggle, a stirring or a charming mystery that remains tantalizingly unsolved beckoning me from the depths of this indelible, beloved memory.

 There is no misery more agonizing than being in love with love, that malignant, hugely dysfunctional, carcinogenic, drug. That strange thing that gives birth to so many cancerous feelings, eating into one's body, permineralizing it, replacing each cell with something volatile, limpid and effervescent. It’s not about falling in love with an object or a person that you cannot possess, that’s easy; but oh, the misery of falling in love with love itself. The feeling of plummeting into a vortex; the exhilarating heights to which one soars! Love, tremblingly delicate as the thrill of an old violin, toe-curling, teeth-peeling, stomach-churning, tear-inducing; every pain and joy associated with it! One longs to feel it at every waking moment for an eternity and is in distress when s/he can’t feel it. I desperately seek it in the cloud soaked dusks, in moonlight’s embraces, lachrymose dawns, in the gathering storms, in the words of dead authors, in the eyes of dreaming strangers in cafeterias, laughs, ripples, rainbows, verses and vaporous hills… in everything that comes under my spectrum of aesthetics. I want to subsume in its intricacy, evaporate into its undulating caresses, disintegrate molecule by molecule into its translucent mellifluousness. 

I try to create it; delving deep into nostalgia, conjuring it from memories, moments that made me want to die and relive it over and over again, an old sun-lit classroom, a hall filled with the twangs of a guitar, a teacher, a blue tie, a rain, a book, a lost pebble, a postcard, a touch.

Picture: The spiralling stairways of my school. Picture source:https://www.facebook.com/groups/HolyAngelsConventSchoolTrivandrum/photos/


deeps said...

thats been like Tailing the White Rabbit experience

Vikas Chandra said...

loved it would be an understatement. read it, quoted it, recommended it, re-read it and treasured it

phil said...

i just can;t leave silently. its too awesome! how Do you write thus? an 'undescribably wondrous' ode!!!! ykw