Saturday, November 14, 2015

What I Can Give You



No, I cannot give you abstractions. I cannot give you heart-stopping kisses, undying love nor searing passions. I cannot give you a forever.
But what I can offer you are simple, true and real – this moment, this buttery coffee, this promise of sparkling wit, our togetherness resonating the dance of stars, this inherent sense of each other, this understanding of the passing of time, changing of dreams, of stories hiding in the eye-creases, shoulder-shrugs and yawns. I give you this moment of silence, the answers within a gaze, small empathies, indulgences, a fresh towel, a careful listening, mad ideas, this cane-chair, this chuckle at your neat, curious jokes that no one gets but me, this adoration of your smell - a heady mix of bay leaves and peanut butter. I give you my gratitude, that special chicken soup you make that I am crazy about, the fuzz on our shared blanket, your shoulder becoming a boat that holds me, the calm inside all turbulence, our insane, cackling laughter which startles the neighbour's cat, the comfortable little habits and routines that fit us like smooth three-pin plugs into life’s socket. This music, this tangible day-to-day grind, this madness. I offer you the solace of small things. How is love more real than all this? I want to breakdown this forever-ness and have it, one bite at a time.




Photo: Maria Vasil'kova

Slow Sojourns



Turmeric tinges madden the air 
pollen-suffused, ghosts of unrecalled muses 
slow swarming of bough-shivers
Twirl by twirl. Gathering. Becoming. 
A thing alive, twig-knitted sky.
moth shadows speckle-
a petalous prose intermingling
the indolent unravelling of my breath- knots
bricks warmed in a centuries’ memories
a stair creaks, lights unwind, spill-
this euphoric innerness of being
languor fills brow in slow murmurs
under my skin, bees hum
a connectedness to distant nebulae
blood thrums into nectar,
I become a honey-comb
soaking up
this unbearable lilting-
universe’s secret dance.


Image: Pinterest

Walking through Lavelle Road, Bangalore




Lavelle Road: Aloneness brims, the way back is overgrown. A seed has become a forest as dense as the words choking my throat. Here the city exists not as a scattered physical conglomeration of things but as an abstraction of imagined, unlived memories, heart-tugs and subtle sadness. A kindly, lambent entity of idle benevolence. The air was like a bite into a ripe quince. September – the month of post-card clouds, sleepy trees and sky filtering through a million dragon-fly wings. One could feel the quiescence pooling in the mouth, a rippling light weaving in and out between fingers.
I am wavering. The space between each shivery breath is so vast, it can consume heavens. Undulation after undulation, I am disappearing within until a blue unbrokeness remain.

"A Strange Place Other Than Earlobles" Now in Book Stores




Glad to inform that 'A Strange Place Other Than Earlobes', our anthology, is now physically available in Oxford Book stores in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Bhuvaneshwar.

Our 7 years


Commercial Street, September 2015: Duvetyn sky. Thunder tugs the starless fringe. A moist, expanding blue that drenched our eyes with its limitlessness. The ancient roars echoed in our bones. Minute earth-ghosts wafted up swaying to the call of a distant strumming and clung to our skin. Humid insects. Street lights in golden splashes brimming in puddles, wandering away into the tiny lanes, everything yellow and a little swoony under the gathering night.
We were more than the sum of our meals, breaths and habits. The 7 years grew behind us like wings. Each feather had a song woven into its gossamer strands. Memories distilled, second by second - condensing, dropping and mineralizing - a stalagmite of whispered stories, an infinity of unutterable tenderness in a single crystal. The quivering reflections were older, far more palpable than the real. We were floating along in the drift of voices, smells and lights. Pieces of infinities in a timeless embrace, reflections swallowing each other spawning universes.






Image: With my Nokia camera

A Poem for Growing Up


We don’t know who is stabbing who;
we may be in a circle
or a sky staring at another sky.
Broken mirrors locked
in an endless, helpless glare.

Note the word ‘broken’,
It has changed over the years
and it means unlike things to us-
An indoor game to you
an intransience to me.
Or simply the jagged corners
of our habits.


Our edges have been sandpapered
We fit now, lock and key,
a pleasantly ticking clockwork .
whirring away in synchronized chaos.

Bumps grow under our skin
Knots left by past winters

I guess it’s all part of getting used to
Getting along, getting old
or just a much washed
threadbare picture of love.



Picture: Pinterest

Saturday, August 22, 2015

At the Rangashankara Bookstore


Once at the bookstore in Rangashankara (Bangalore) I found a children's book on trees filled with amazing, highly stylized illustrations (in the style of old fresco paintings) and with actual twigs, flowers and leaves pressed in each page along with seeds that the child could pick out and plant. It was a small book just 10-15 pages made of beautifully-textured, natural-dyed recycled paper and rather expensive (Rs. 600/- I think). For a parent who is looking for a lot of pages filled with 'good, relevant, value-added' stories this may look like a bad deal. Of course, it had no mention of how to succeed in life, it didn't glorify purposefulness or busy-ness, it has no story of ambitious, morally-sound characters conquering larger-than-life bad guys after going on a series of adventures.

The idea behind the book was slowness, of cultivating the art of listening and observing, of perceiving what is beyond the peripheral and to help one live a profoundly enriching, cultured life appreciating art, the aesthetics of color, texture, history and the natural world. One had to delve into and dwell on each page - spend time meandering over the illustrations, the mouth-watering descriptions, touch the reverently placed pressed leaves and then plant the seeds.

None of the parents who walked by wanted to buy that book although many children became engrossed in the beautiful colours and textures. They simply asked the kids to 'keep it back' and when the shop assistant tried to get them interested in buying the book, they commented on how the book is so short. I was surprised to find a lot of parents saying the same identical statement:'Oh, who has the time for all this? S/he will finish it in 2 minutes and I want something that will keep him/her quiet for hours. S/he should watch some cartoons'.

I wondered on the society's preoccupation with parenthood and shaming married adults who are not parents as selfish, lazy individuals. And here I witness parenthood as a troublesome phase that one has to overcome by somehow making the kid study for a series of exams and keep him occupied during free-time with numerous passive-entertainments until childhood somehow passes by and then push him into a world were you are measured based on your monetary success. Even when it is not studies, every other interest (sports, music, art) is encouraged with the intention of making him participate in competitions and win prizes. Any alternate suggestion is furiously attacked. Offense is the best defense apparently. Economically well-off parents simply say 'Who has the time?", "He won't be interested" or "But he has to study." Middle-class parents come up with melodramatic statements, "We are thankful that we can at least send him to school" and even "It is easy for you to say, one day you will be in our position" The solution is so evident, it is sometimes right there in their indignant retorts. I am be generalizing here, but for the crowd who usually comes to Rangashankara, Rs. 600 may not be such a staggering amount, a bit less than one family dinner in a reasonable restaurant.

A little time to spare, a little imagination, a step back into your own childhood, and what a world you will unfold for your child! And such an exquisite, priceless thing to own and cherish for years! It is time to do things for the fun of it. To encourage a sweaty, exhilarating day in a park than in front of a TV, to watch interesting documentaries and children's movies from around the world than an endless feed of sexist, offensive, consumerist programs, to learn an instrument so that she can compose her own music rather than to participate in youth festivals or show-off to relatives, to draw from dreams, to develop an engaging hobby, to collect things, love a pet, to follow seemingly 'scopeless' but soul-satisfying career paths, to understand a kind of happiness which is not in buying cars and owning houses but is eating a perfect little meal, discovering and buying a rare book or having a peaceful sleep every day.

Eventually a middle-aged man bought the book, the shop-assistant eagerly said "Your kids will love the book". To which he replied, "Oh, I don't have kids. But I adore such books."




Image: Pinterest

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Transluced







Interspersed among lung-pauses
indecipherable things an organ would say-
to another.
the language of the toes
talking to the grassy paths
alphabets of bodies’ hidden codes
that had forgotten what they are meant for.
smothering.
the secret eternities between surface and surface,
an umbilical cord of discord.


Image: Double Exposure Portraits by Aneta Ivanova

Laundry Day



There is something so apologetic about
drying clothes.
Confessional;
trembling shucks dripping transparent blood-
turned inside-out,
all secret tucks and patch-ups bared-
stench of a day's routine evaporating;
sun-hued ghosts
-stitches silhouetted.
This, domesticity’s visceral scan.

Wind releases alkaline specters-
sharp bursts of briny mist.
Inbreathe stings in-
the satisfying gut-tug of a detergent sneeze.





                                        - Jeena Mary Chacko


Image: Carlos Pérez Siquier

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Mind


Mind is a corridor – dark, dank, desolate; in the deep stillness of the night an indistinct stir.. The songs whistle through in wavering crescendo until they find their nooks to sit, fluff and fold their wings and sleep.
Mind has its despairing dead ends, unfinished tales, untold lore – they exist in a perpetual pudibund swoon. When awaken, they give birth to the thorny throat beasts clawing inside a trembling neck.
Mind has it’s crawlspaces where every giggle and gasp is accentuated. Delirious acoustics makes a dripping tap unbearable, a drop in the wind soothing. Mind is a lattice of worm holes that collapse upon themselves and spawn a labyrinth.
At times you find a small snail-track, silvery like liquefied moonbeam unspooling away, rounding a corner and suddenly a door! You open and mind is a ferocious garden. Hidden by a clump of desolate shrubs you may come across a shy lily, hiding within its nervous corolla a hushed magnificence. At another end an orchid, almost lurid in its beauty. It lures you until you see a gasping bee tumbling out of its luscious, poisonous whorls.
Mind has unexplored trails laden with redolent rosettes that purl away into the forest dim.


Photo: Pinterest

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Despair is a Thing with Claws


Despair is a thing with claws
scratching across an asbestos roof;
It is the unspittable grind between molars-
root cackling against gum
a sandpaper chewed to death
(Take deep breaths? PAH!)

Despair is the screams painted on gritty sockets,
Deafeningly silent - turning into a sweaty insomnia-
onion tears over a non-stick pan, fish-stained.
The incessant drone of World Cup commentary-
all in a loop, I want to smash something-
your head, for instance.

Instead I make endless therapeutic omelettes,
the ‘woman’s’ magazine insists:
go revamp your wardrobe, you’ll feel better
The-ra-peu-tic – a black cloth rips inside my jaw.
or I could secretly make neat, non-threatening gnashes-
and prattle away – until the voices gnaw into my nails.
a blankness filled with ‘whys’,
unanalysed.
vast, convenient and hidden inside a SHUT UP.
Old crones crawl over my forehead
Leaving furrows-
they turn to splintered singings
ear-splitting; pieces running off-
Into places inside me
(I didn’t know existed)
stalactiting in my stomach.

My despair is a decaying verse-
a drowned caterpillar, unpupated,
ants’ breakfast. How fast the flesh disappears!
The sickening irony sews into a smirk-
Where is that thing with feathers?
                            

Inspired by Emily Dickinson’s Hope is a Thing with Feathers

Image: Pinterest.

From the Corner of My Deluding Eye




 Sometimes it is coffee, dark as the residue of unremembered nightmares lingering on the underside of lashes. Sometimes it is insomnia, like dead satellites etched on skin - dead, grey, hollow. Each with its own terrible echo. Sometimes it is that carousel that starts up inside the skin, rippling lights, that music which make the skies throw-up and drown, the rasp of untranslatable words. Sometimes it is the penumbra of an unwritten poem, a delirious line that slips away from my desperate hands. I am left with only a redolent quaver on my fingers. Sometimes it is a ghost from the chaotic part of wakefulness; its laughter explodes in my throat. My eyes trace maddening bends on the wall, a white-washed corner stretches up, a light socket becomes a hungry mouth. Sometimes it is a clench in the jaw, the pull in the eyebrow, the chasms growing on my forehead, the chortles of my empty notebooks, the horrifying nothingness of a blank page, the heaviness of these blood whispers. 

Image: Google Images

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Leaf-Shaped Hole


The ground was matted with dried rubber-tree leaves. As she neared the gates, Navomi picked up one; she was always amazed by the intricate pattern on a single dry  leaf – a gauzy map of infinitesimal roads, bifurcating, multiplying – a delicate trellis of carefully-woven exasperation.  She wondered if it was the ghost of a poem insculptured by a forgotten poet centuries ago. 

When a rubber tree leaf is completely dry, the skin flakes away to reveal its pellucid skeleton, a convoluted configuration of veins. She marveled at that fragile equilibrium which was holding the whole structure intact instead of crumbling to dust.  It was like that part of her which distilled, then smoldered and years later decomposed into an embittered abstraction.  She sighed un-selfconsciously letting the leaf float down from her fingers. There was no one watching - no Fr. Mulligan with his compassionate, slightly supercilious grin or a simpering Kochu Maria with a smirk pleated under her sycophantic smile - Navomi was free to be her own shattered self.
Her lower lip trembled, her jaws hurt. Uncomprehendingly, she had broken the love laws that dictated "who should be loved, and how. And how much." 

A filigreed elegy, a sublimated fossil of a damaged soul sailed down - earth-smelling, eye-like and so startlingly weightless.

 A leaf-shaped hole in the universe brimmed silently with bitterness.

Image: Google Images



-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 {An extract from a fan fiction I’d written based on the characters created by one of my favourite living authors - Arundathi Roy}


 











Image: Google Images

Saturday, May 9, 2015

For a Young Dreamer


Dear You,
1. Love. Love makes everything ok. Find the real thing, the seemingly impossible thing, the near-nonexistent thing – and then, love.
2. Discern and understand, in splinters and scatters, the hidden wholeness of all things.
3. Savour those little moments when you feel perfect contentedness, a perfect harmony, a magnificent connectedness with the whole.
4. Relish slowness. Live an unhurried, cultured life brimming with ideas. Reading, writing, dreaming, watching the world glide by while you sip tea and introspect.
5. Be absurdly pure, intrinsically beautiful and loftily and determinedly idealistic.
6. When you read, feel verses in the lungs, in the knuckles, in the arch of the feet.
7. Take time to sit in ignored corners – old stair bends, mildewed window-sills, forgotten parks, an inconspicuous café in a street corner.
8. It is ok to dream away a day, or spend it on Tumblr. Really.
9. Be yourself. Absolutely, elementally and staunchly yourself.
10. Get involved exuberantly in things you love. Lose sleep. Skip meals. Flout societal conventions and expectations. Obsess.
11. Read more poems. Dwell, delve and delight in the very vein of poetry.
12. Exist in your own timelessness.
13. Embrace your inner brokenness and its essential fullness.
14. Bloom where you are planted.
15. Sit beside a warbling stream purling away under the sleepy stars. Feel the pebbles, the water flowing between your toes.
16. Don’t limit your curiosity. Ever.
17. Embrace the universe.
18. Explore every cadence of your mind.
19. Study yourself every day. Hack away the inessential.
20. Take long walks. Feel the throb of a city in your muscles, in the ache of your feet, in the sear of your soars.
21. Read Nabokov. Taste the delicately convoluted trellises of unusual syllables.
22. Don’t let anyone con you into following banal conventions.
23. If you love your own company, you’ll never be bored. Don’t let anything intrude upon your precious solitude.
24. Hear music in your marrows. Listen to post rock. Transform.
25. Look beyond the reality of the world around you. When you look up, imagine wings unfurling in the unperturbed evening air.
26. Love sunsets, sunrises, the whole drama of dawn and dusk. Become one with the changing sky - an infused, swirling purple. A piece of cloudy twilight.
27. Simplify the eating experience. Discover the subtle tang in a grape, the bright headiness in a slice of papaya.
28. Understand that this is a precious dawn between two infinities off dusk.
29. Spend a day in a forest; soak up the stirrings and stillness. Talk to a shy fern.
30. Apologize without hesitation, but know if someone is taking advantage of you. If you have to grovel endlessly or listen to ceaseless tirades then move on. Life is too short.
31. Memorize a whole tree - every inch of the bark, every shade of the petals, every whisper of the leaves and fold it away among the pages of remembrance.
32. Go to a second-hand book store. Simply sit there and inhale. If you are allergic to dust, look at photographs of books on Pinterest.
33. Become a river – gently carve into the landscape and nourish the woods you pass by. Listen to the throbs and pulses of the aquatic lives. Sparkle in the sun, dream under the frosty skies and eventually become one with the ocean.
34. Live deeply in this distracted world. Become the renaissance.
35. Catch and treasure the molecules of extraordinary in the ordinary. Store them up to be recollected, drop by tender drop, years later.
36. Watch a nest being built, twig by twig.
37. Have dreams as large as mountains and as brittle as old flowers.
38. When you write, let untamed verses grow from your pores and evaporate. Write at least a page a day.
39. Be like the windows of a mountain cabin – charming, quiet and present. The perceptive lodger shall open you and breathe in the undulating landscapes.
40. Saudade.
41. Expand beyond the prison of your body and embrace this immense mystery.
42. There will always be critics. Just sail by. You are a sheer sphere in this world of foggy circles.
43. Become a tantalizing nuance, the degree of difference between blue and blue.
44. Collect bits of nature - fill your space with pebbles, interesting twigs, fronds, shells.
45. Be like a melting flake. Live in a state of infra-lucidity, peer at the world through the limpid depths of a rain drop.
46. Become marcescent - be exposed to life’s assaults and marvels and abrade away until you become a translucent abstraction, a distilled verse. No walls. No filters.
47. Listen. Listen with every fiber of your body. You will hear a mushroom swelling, a butterfly sighing, a tea leaf unfolding. Trip on that.
48. Leave behind the windows you created for others to open and see.
49. Accept the innate substance of life.
50. Wither with grace.
                                               - Jeena Mary Chacko

Image: Pinterest

Sunday, April 5, 2015

My Advice to Aspiring Writers

My advice to aspiring writers - stay unemployed as long as possible. Sponge off, starve, depend on the goodwill of friends, forage among the trash cans, freelance once a month and mooch around hospital canteens, sneak into university cafeterias for half-price meals....do anything! But until you have completed that one cosmically mind-blowing book, story, poem or even a single transcendentally beautiful line don't even think about a "career". Don't fall into the trap of taking a lucrative job when you can spend another 3-4 years in college. Never, ever get sucked down the corporate drain. You become a soulless, shallow, unbelievably fake, uncaring 'resource'. Always a little under-payed, a little overworked, perpetually tired and a lingering dissatisfaction which they convince you can be solved by spending more and more money on parties, spa sessions to 'unwind', expensive team outings and over-priced yoga and meditation classes. The funny thing is you don't even want to commit that wonderfully planned suicide because of all the fake promises offered to you - bonuses, promotions, quarterly assessments, that vague, shiny undefinable but supposedly tempting something that they dangle in front of you - always a fraction beyond your reach.




Image: Pinterest

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

In Loving Memory of Terra Vera

Imagine a ghost story that doesn’t scare, but manages to leave you feeling pleasurably troubled with a deep sense of pathos. An emotion with perhaps no concrete name, but a vaguely tragic, yet oddly gratifying sense of loss - sublime and redolent: a ‘What if?’ emotion. The number of ‘what ifs’ in one’s life gently purls by under the sleeping stars.
Terra Vera, a charming, yet supposedly haunted house on St. Mark’s Road appeared self-effacing; a hushed-glory amidst the high-rises, bustle, and impatience of a growing Bangalore. Deep in the soporific yellowy-mellow afternoons, you could see this withered, graceful ruin in its full loveliness. For almost a year, every afternoon, I’ve walked past this muted grandeur towards my office which was on Lavelle Road. I’ve dawdled in that street corner on quiet evenings, sipping tea or nibbling a roll, listening to the cadenced silence of this abandoned house. I was in love.

From where I stood, next to The Egg Factory in St. Mark’s Road, I could see the house clearly. Dark shapes could be discerned in the unlit rooms, becoming, as time went by, darker, increasingly fluctuating and shuddering. I forgot the rushing traffic, the boisterous sounds of people passing by; my tea grew cold as I tuned out everything except the aura of that alluring, crumbling house. The voice of silence resonated in the stillness of the air there. I strained to distinguish its broken notes, giggly trebles, sighing basses, a chilling allegro, and a soft larghissimo tiptoeing down my goosepimply spine, while a reassuring andante was suddenly replaced by a deadly pause, a drop in the wind, or an appalling, yet swooning dread. That house haunted me, whilst it whetted my curiosity, and I was truly obsessed with it. And this is that story. The story of a woman who loved a house – a haunted house, a house so steeped in a rich, mellifluous melancholy; a house that is no more.

It was almost a month after I saw it for the first time that I came to know from a colleague that this charming ruin was supposed to be a haunted house. I sieved through the internet and came across a medley of contradicting stories – urban legends, gruesome murders and demonic activities. One of the most popular urban lore surrounding this house was that if you pass by this house after midnight, you could hear someone playing the piano inside. Another more frightening legend is that the house is the abode of a demon and apparently paranormal investigators have found an upside-down crucifix and vandalized religious articles. People claimed to see things, hear noises and a group of teenagers were attacked by a supernatural force when they tried to investigate. Another legend states that a woman was buried in this house and it was she who is heard playing the piano.

The stories enhanced the alluring ambiguity of the house, and now I wanted to explore it. Oh, how I itched to creep around the overgrown courtyard, peep in through the windows, watch spectral hands playing the piano. But everyday life happened – job, chores, projects, assignments…

Terra Vera was built in 1943 on St Mark’s Road by E.J Vaz, an advocate of the Bombay High Court. It was later gifted to his two spinster daughters – Dulcie Vaz, a piano teacher and Vera Vaz, an English tutor. About 10 years back, in 2002, Dulcie Vaz was murdered in this house by an unknown assailant. She was 75 and her sister, 80. The murderer was never caught, and Vera later moved out. In the subsequent years, the deserted house surrendered to the elements. Mildew covered walls gave the house a burnt appearance, a lush climber, once tamed and loved by the two women, now grew in wild abandon, seeping in through the cracks, and  spreading its hardened stems across the tired cheeks of the house. An old Hillman car parked in the courtyard had gathered rust over a decade, the rosy tarnishes shimmering softly in the gathering dusk. The front yard still has the pots that once bloomed with roses and exotic flowers. Kind old trees, as a sign of kinship, lovingly shaded this exquisite despair.

Photographs posted on various blogs by daring teens and amateur paranormal investigators who have ventured into this house showed beautiful rooms now covered in dust and cobwebs. Exquisite and antique articles were strewn around – old tureens, wine glasses in deep blue and green, delicate tea cups, trays, and old wine bottles. Every room had large cabinets, tables, cupboards, and beautiful mirrors all broken and covered in dust. The photographs helped me know the house better. I knew the layout of the rooms, and how the cheerful kitchen must have once looked, with the piano that supposedly played by itself in the night.
I watched Terra Vera in all seasons – looming in quiet grace, oozing with a strange silence that nothing else around it seem to have. On breezy summer nights, I imagined those forgotten, cobweb-infested rooms rotting away in loneliness. The gentle stir of an echo, deep in a fragmented cabinet, as a broken hinge whined tenderly in the hesitant breeze and a begrimed sheet of notations slipping away from a table, falling down – unnoticed, uncared.
During monsoon, after the rain, I saw the lilting drip-drip of rain, tumbling off the wild leaves growing out of the broken pots. The windows would appear darker under the darkened skies and then, suddenly, a golden evening would burst forth – submersed in the blushing post-rain hue. The house looked its best then, like a Pre-Raphaelite painting, diffused in tints of rose and gold. In that hauntingly dim light, the shadows in the darkest part of the house appeared to shift and shiver. The sun would have just slipped the horizon, and I could see the slanting rays filtering in through the orange, green, and blue stained glass window, now grimy with dust. The last golden ray would hit the furthest corner where amidst the restless shadows stood an old rocking chair in a delicate medley of colors. Did it move? Or was my mind playing tricks on me? The room dazzles briefly in the richest hues and suddenly an unlived memory rushes in, imperceptible, but palpable - like a pure blue peak through a winter mist:

A thoughtful woman playing the piano. Alongside, a mirror brimming with the reflected image of a neat, feminine dressing room. A pot simmering in the kitchen. A stack of carefully folded handkerchiefs. A cherished front porch where another woman dreamily sat, reading and playing with a loose strand of hair. A luxurious garden carefully tended with loving hands. A fresh-washed car gleaming on the porch, and a tender voice announcing tea…

Soon, the sun slips away as darkness falls. I’m back to the reality.

It was time to leave. My tea had grown cold and people were giving me weird looks. The house now loomed dark and forlorn. I clench my molars, a cold marble rolling down my throat. It’s not easy to think of ghosts and spirits without feeling a bit unsettled.

Since I was working the evening shift, there were days when after dinner, I could walk past Terra Vera, just to get one glimpse of something ghostly. But I never saw anything, or did I? One could be oblivious to the paranormal activities around him if they are so indirect, so delicate, so understated. I wondered if this was same in my case. Was I not noticing something? The shifts, the soughs, and sighs that settle over things at night were tangible, and suddenly I would notice that a blurred outline against a window is ever so slightly askew, a door is a little more ajar and every time I go near the rusty gate, did I see two dark shadows reflecting momentarily on the leaf-littered ground?
My office decided to shift to a different locale around November last year. It was so abrupt that in the rush to clear my desk, worry about commutation and meeting deadlines, I almost forgot that my tryst with the haunted house was coming to an end. On that melancholic Thursday evening in early November, I stood close to the rusty gates of my beloved haunted house unmindful of the curious stares. I wanted to imprint it into my memory, every tender detail dazzling in the sunlight. With a pang I realized that I may not see it again in a long time, and that there were still a thousand little things about that place that I haven’t noticed – an inconspicuous corner with ferns growing from a crack, a window ledge with a dusty blue porcelain cup, a little carved roof-beam and something, like a pattern that was painted over, has now become faintly visible. I became aware of an infra reality, of an emptiness, of the memories lingering in the air, staining it, a string of laughter hiding among the silhouettes, an imprint of a shadow slipping quietly under a crack on the floor, a whiff of the past preserved in the very air, and in the curtains. Their sighs memorized by the outlines. I noticed those little strangenesses with heaviness and walked away.

Since moving to my new office, I hardly got a chance to visit the haunted house. I dreamt about it, planning to explore it one long weekend, but I was too late. Two months back, while passing St. Mark’s Road, I saw that Terra Vera was demolished, razed to the ground! I think my heart splintered when I realized that those forlorn stain-glass windows, the dusty crockery whispering among themselves in the shadows and the haunting aura have all been destroyed. My disappointment was met with derision. It was a part of life I was told. “How will the country develop if you keep holding on to useless old things?” they asked, always pragmatic.

The loss of that house was the loss of a notion, a loss of a sense of wonder, loss of romance, of aesthetics. In some part of my mind I knew this would happen, just like so many old buildings in Bangalore. But it still broke me. I am not against modernity or development, but I am against those who have enough to want more, and who are determined to get it at the cost of beauty and love. I wish these developments took place in areas that really needed attention. I cried for the loss of the subtler things in life – slowness, tastefulness, and mystery. I despaired for the loss of love.


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This article was written in 2014 and has appeared in Helpost Read (http://read.helpost.com/2014/09/loving-memory-terra-vera/)

Image: Google

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

.

How do you define this? These broken birds clawing the spaces between bones, this pale roar re-vibrating through hollows in my words, this swelling landscape of unspokenness.

Discordance


Shed phantom leaves, barely-there prickle of an imagined line. Veins bird-songed through, poem-space in bus tickets. Fever spill, a pondering- sleep spoons seas into eyelids, see threads knotting quiver and quiver. We understood through lung-pauses, long guesses, held our many-ness like wounds, like weapons, this numb thumbed poem in the fragile dark. Marimayam