Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Long Pending List Of All Lists To Be Destroyed By the Last One Standing

1. The profile and ‘likes’ of the dead employee who left a cryptic cough on the voice recorder.
2. The inconsequentialities of bus rides and dead flies (too lengthy, need to be re-worked).
3. Coordinates of a cancer cell north-west to the pouting cleavage, unnoticed, hidden under cotton fabric.
4. The recurring clichés of shadows, haunted dolls, funny bones and suicides (detailed dissertation to be submitted by H.L).
5. That wet, wet, wet, monsoon when we stopped drinking for better or worse or good.
6. The million identical voices asking us, in unison, to stop. (*Inserted in pencil* Stop what?)
7. Our precious oaths flung from the 11th floor.
8. Hearts classified as needing a lick of paint by the end of this year (P is assigned to sandpaper the rust off).
9. Strobe Effect in the found eye outside the seminary.
10. Things lost during the hunt for the eye’s origin. (blood, a key, a friendship).
11. The growing annoyance at the inability to create found footage horror. (step-by-step listing of each rants and complains).
12. The list of useless tapes recording countless hours of us moving about the house.
13. The list of lost tapes containing our disclosures and the strange buzz in the background.
14. List of times our heads did not close quickly.
15. The list of recitations to listen to while tearing up lists in the kitchens.
16. Hymns to sing while clawing one’s nerves out (cross check with the list of songs to write before dismantling the trapdoors)
17. The categories of various bumps on the floor (three do not fit into any known form)
18. Things sawed/plucked or gouged out from our bodies that we shall never bury but drown in marshes at night.
19. Things that we have left to gurgle at the brink of loneliness
20. List of mannequins that underwent a front lobe probe
21. List of precautions to be taken against these mannequins’ nightly visits (meditation, green tea and affirmative thinking) and prevent them from stealing our precious madnesses.
22. Things to think about when eyes go into suspended animation.
23. List of rituals to follow to turn oneself into a line at the back of a book, possibly the epilogue.
24. The notes on our discussion regarding the tiredness and triteness of adulthood, and ways to escape it.
25. The debate on the real or fictional Mr. N. Why did he show us his penis from behind the wall? Why does he hiss? Why does he still visit our dreams?
26. The list of spectacles that one cannot unsee once seen (the horror! the horror!)
27. List of reasons R has, which does not really prove that these events were a Folie à deux.
28. Minutes of the meeting regarding the incident that occurred in the churchyard 17 years ago. (part of the list of things we long to unsee, long to forget)
29. List of reactions recorded after noticing the odd twitches on the freshly painted walls.
30. Things we unconsciously thought of while dismembering the time portal.
31. The list of beauty remedies that involves sacrificing one of us.
32. List of houses where childhood overstayed its welcome.
33. List of simple techniques to help us forget what those digging fingers did to us at the procession many Septembers ago.
34. The screams and blinks observed coming from a white building.
35. List of lies we tell ourselves (to be updated on a regular basis).
36. Number of clouds we need to hold down and step on to reach the sky.
37. List of gods we raised, worshipped and sacrificed.
38. List of times we fed ourselves lumps of sugar and orchids to chock down and swallow the sobs.
39. The purgation of sleep we practiced by emitted shrill screams at regular intervals.
40. The list of aspects about our day to day activities that don’t add up to the universal scheme of things.
41. The lost records of our failed austerity experiment.
42. List of sins we forgot to include in our confessions.
43. List of things we felt guilty about although they were not sins.
44. The list of self-inflicted punishments that resulted in the loss of a hallucination and the abrupt disappearance of our dear friend.
45. The number of times we became untranslatable to ourselves.
46. The odours of things yet to arrive, but we wait for with baited breath.
47. Number of shoe flowers and butterflies we secretly ate to become non-human.
48. The lost pages found at the bottom of T’s cupboard that tells the secrets of travelling from billboard to billboard.
49. Unmoving things to hold on to while the stars start to tilt.
50. Methods to achieve that resigned calm before ingesting corrosive substances and unicorn tears.
51. The list of singular brick corners existing all by themselves and how to hide in them when the time comes.
52. Marrows of things we will never understand, tied around a broken tile and flung into a sea.
53. List of the possible places to hide our suicide notes

                                       - Jeena Mary Chacko

Picture: Still from the movie Innocence (2004) by Lucile Hadžihalilović

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Time Has Come

Hey you! Do ask me things. How I am doing. What I am doing… anything. It’s high time you start acknowledging the fact that I’m right here, for good, plugged to you, becoming mad multiples of you. Oh, do stop shrieking and clutching yourself! Isn’t it becoming a cliché? Here, let me tread by invisibly; let me wave my long dark hair. My lidless eyes and abnormally fitted limbs are just props you have built up. They should have restricted your TV time.
Pity you were not easily moved in the beginning. But now I see you have noticed the air radiating a grey dread and a strong fever-smell. No, don’t go to those counsellors again! Stupid charlatans all of them! Really. Your dreams mingle with my wakefulness as I prowl around inside your head feeling the bumps on the wall, the phantom doors, whorls and vortexes – some quite big and static shaped like vague Jurassic animals - their low-frequency hums too soft for your mortal eardrums. When I flit between them, you hear the rush and rumbles in your ribs. Others are so tiny and constantly moving that they get caught in your hair, their tiny shifts sounding like a child’s whispers to you. There, you are pausing again, your hair standing on end, sweat breaking. How adorable you look when chills run down your spine!

Do you know that you DO sleep even though you believe otherwise? The elusive sleep which, when it comes, comes in annoying jerks. The sticky sleep, freezing legs, sweating neck, nausea, a kind of horrible oppression, so sickly sweet – I feed off your sleep, they taste of stale almonds, detergent and melting toffee. And then, and then, there is the dawn… the dawn that falls like a brilliant blob of lucidity, a tear drop, a splash from an old perfume bottle, a melted piece of ice. It’s so edible, so limpid that if you touch the air, it trembles, like a butterfly’s wings. Do you notice them? I wish I could tell you all about it. I wish I could scoop up a piece of dawn in my cupped hands and show it to you. But that would defeat the purpose. No, I don’t disappear at day break; I stick around all the time, until the right time. I see you trying to meditating, taking deep breaths – for a moment you heave a sigh of relief until you catch a glimpse of my jawless, winged figure just beyond the corner of your eye. There is only one ending to this story, you know that.

It rained yesterday while I was waiting for you, and then all night while I was grappling with a nightmare that was wringing your throat. Have you tried choking yourself? The pain on your throat is unbearable, but there is a bizarre, peaceful silence in your ears, a kind of numbness of the cheeks and if you look at the blank white wall, you can see a swirl of softly pulsating rainbows, your finger tips turn cold. Darling, shall I strangle you? Would you strangle yourself?

You are late, and you slide in through the window. I am always reminded of a thundercloud, an impending storm looming in the air when you enter. You don't notice my transparent feet swinging from the fan's cobwebby blades, nor the eyes at the end of my feelers dangling down, crawling all over you. My quagmire-voice drips with trepidation as I hover close to your ear. I can see you twitching your neck uneasily and I know you’ll dream of unattainable ice-creams or of drowning in dark lake full of tangled weeds tonight. I move closer to you all the while laughing my carefully designed laugh - the half-wit laugh, the mirthless laugh, a jawless, rasping laugh - the laugh your neighbour’s son heard before he jumped off the 8th floor, the one Virginia Woolf heard while she filled her pockets with stones, the one that Sylvia was hounded with all her life, and Judas heard just before kissing an affable bearded cheek. It is the right time, darling, all of us are waiting for you right here. Be careful, mistakes are pretty painful and second chances are tough. 


Friday, August 19, 2016

Saying Goodbye To A Life That We Knew Well

Our lives packed away in boxes. The house is unusually silent suddenly. And large - yes. 

With new spaces and corners - wait, what did we have here? how come we never noticed this bend before? That light falling over the floor, wavering, an almost-pattern before tear blurs everything. 

A dying of footsteps and distant laughter.

Do these walls know? A lonely shell full of memories of the creature that lived within it. A sudden echo that was previously muffled by a hundred little noises. 

A grief for those moments in time and space where these adored things existed - now fading memories.
The shape on the ceiling where water seeped in, it looks like a serene sheep. We never noticed it before. 

Smells remain, I suppose. Clinging to the underside of things - slowly evaporating. And the vague traces we leave behind in accidental handprints, a little scribble over the bed-side wall - remembering a dream, a forgotten sticky-note, a shoe-lace, a stray hair, an empty bottle of nail paint. 

A rush of so many things planned but never fulfilled, an
unbearably sweet sorrow. We are leaving our beautiful home by the forest.
                       - June 2016

Images: Snippets of our 4 years of living in a small, darling, derelict apartment near a reserve forest in JP Nagar, Bangalore. We moved out in June 2016 to another wilderness in Yelahanka. That will be a story for another time.  

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Preparation for a Descent

Deafening whispers rising from each strand. The cold has a voice that slices into nerves building tiny painful peaks. Scrawl relentlessly. That way one's sanity remains. The escape route is thorn-heavy, mold-melded doors growing outside eye-lines. Ink it down, add firm periods to lock them in. Let the nib tear through the page.Who cares? Let loose, they flap themselves to exhaustion against one's skull, banging into dusty windows (oh, if only one would break!) their ruthless claws will dig up hideous dreams, peck and carve a landscape of howls. 
                                                     - Jeena Mary Chacko  

Image: Screen cap from Hardwood Process (1996)

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

All She Is

Perhaps one day I could replace the tiny blue piece of enamel that chipped off the edge of her cup when I dropped it. She never noticed that chipped edge, all the more reason for me to want to stick it back. 
She was like the pure mountain air, clear and measured. I remember her buying white roses every Sunday evening when we went for our walk under the yellow street lights. The light that made our skins glow and eyes capacious. She cut the stems of the roses and placed them inside a jar full of sugary water on my table. Always on my table. Always that slow, careful stirring until the sugar crystals became translucent wisps and then disappeared into the water.
The distances we walked then! The routine walk to the library where were inhaled the scent of old books while our grey plastic shoes went tap..tap..tap on the wooden floor. We spoke in delightful whispers, read delirious passages to each other from the dog-eared copies of Virginia Woolf and Kundera, got drunk on Baudelaire and drank the ice cold water from the cooler outside. Cold water in white styrofoam cups - I remember the wafer-like texture of the cup on my lip. Sometimes we fished out a little paper cone full of peanuts we bought on the way and ate them secretly, hoping the librarian won't hear our crunches diffusing into the fragile papery air. She later (much later) told me that to her Woolf and Kundera will always be synonymous with our ‘patina days’ (as she called them) and that her memories smelt of old pages and roasted peanuts. Mine smelt of incompleteness, hunger and shabbiness.
On those cool windy nights we listened to Pal Pal Dil Ke Pas in her old Walkman. It was the era of ipods and mp3 but she refused to let go of the past, the bygone days of a distant childhood. So we lay on my bed side by side and listed to the squeaky, scratchy cassette. Our legs twined around the pillows and we ate forkfuls of Maggie noodles that I made with butter and fried onions. The bed always smelt of noodles and detergent. 
The pink plastic bowl with white and green leaf prints left warm, round depressions on the mattress when we moved it around. We pressed our face on these hot little circles and giggled while the wind howled outside. The noodles would be over by then, but the bowl would still be warm. We experimented with prose - crude, infantile and haunting, scratched onto pristine foolscap papers. 

Haunting. How they still haunt. Not the words, but the helplessness of those moist letters, the smell of wet ink and the minute perforations where the nib pierced the paper. Deeper into the night, when we experimented with other things, our bodies left petal-like imprints on those carefully written pages - crushing the Chelpark blue-black lines, smudging them with our soft laughs and impatient jostles.
She knew how much I loved noodles and gave me her share always. When the cassette became too squeaky we dismantled it with scissors and tweezers, cleaned the reel with aftershave and replaced it. It always worked. It always wailed. Every night I cried for things I couldn't comprehend.

Sometimes she told me stories of her childhood filled with cold winters spent dreaming beside roaring, rustling bonfires and falling in love with snow - it tastes like wet skies and prehistoric animal dreams, she said. Sometimes she asked me to stop staring at her and then smiled when I dropped my gaze. Sometimes she cried for me when I cruelly pushed her away and wrapped myself within my chaos. The chaos that ate me up cell by cell and then coughed me up - a mess of bile and despair. She said my eyes were like sacred stoups filled with immaculate awe and I laughed because I didn’t know what ‘stoup’ was and I didn’t care for her strange endearments. Later when I looked it up, something dropped inside my chest, releasing a haze of pale insects. 

On the last day we went to the old church to see the painted ceiling and then parted forever.
Later a few brief meetings, briefer phone calls, and then, silence. Everything from that life has disappeared except for a sudden longing to stand in that unforgettable narrow windy balcony. From there I want to watch the dirty city glow in the evening sun, hold the blue chipped mug full of watery tea we used to make with condensed milk, water and tea bags and watch her chubby pink hand working the volume button on the Walkman. I shall then place that chipped piece of enamel on the mug, watch it heal itself and become whole once again, like her. I want that moment to stay as it is, to freeze that completeness forever. 

Picture: Two girls among the sand dunes - Hermann Seeger