The monsoon is here at last. Windows are constantly open
now to welcome it, to get wet and drowsy and fall asleep
over and over again with the soft splatter of its coming.
Drip drip drip… Rain splashes over the treetops, the rooftops,
the closeted rickshaw pullers'eyes. Tears swept away by
so much of water everywhere. The monsoon comes softly almost
unnoticed at first with its drizzle.
drop too many afterwards.
you had appeared… soft as your footsteps, your homecoming
is becoming more than was possible. Honest black eyes--not
shiny not too flashy is a halo of dark sadness surrounding
them. Never knew someone to whom despair was so welcome,
you called it your 'friendly ghost'. More than a ghost,
more of your shadow that hovered around you. Chiding you--
at times protecting you from what you did not wish to do,
but had to do often. It was your ally and you two knew my
ambivalence towards your 'unholy alliance'. How perplexed
I was, felt like a fool in front of you and your shadow
and those two dark halos around your lovely eyes.
got to know you to the extent I wished, did I reach the
core where no one had been before--every lover's illusion.
I kissed your forehead you did not wish it to end, it was
just a beginning. A million more kisses to come, affection
was never wanting between us. What we lacked we compensated
with, what we could gather we did to stay alive and together.
To hope beyond hope with 'despair' knocking at our door.
Fidgety wanderers. Happy with irrelevant details. Missing
each other every day. Messing up and clearing.
were we when we both started working for other people. Other
women and men, each with her or his own agenda. Our only
agenda had been happiness among the ruins- our 'Love in
the time of cholera'-day in day out. We started meeting
on Thursdays and Fridays instead of every day every evening
every afternoon. More faces and fewer friends. Bigger pay
checks and lesser needs. You earned and I worked. We hardly
made it to the end of the month though. This is the best
collection of essays ever….this earthen vase is just what
I need by my window…let us go to the sea….the little island
in the Bay of Bengal forgotten by tourists…
let us leave all this ...let us run run run away from here
for a while. For this weekend. For that earned leave, casual
leave, sick leave. Truants taunting the employers' patience.
Cleverer than our average office-goer go-getter "sad
bossy and successful colleagues, we beat them by an inch
and a half. We held on to our holidays with a religious
fervour our agnostic souls could bear to do. To live fully
with our mad plans our increasingly dreary working slaving
lives to laugh and to keep from bursting into tears. How
we walked on the sands of distant shores, farthest from
the 'city of jobs'. Planning to take off and end up anywhere
taught me and I made you see. Life must go on from one delight
to another, as exotic as our imagination can teach us, from
this idea to another, shuttle trains taking us back and
forth from here to anywhere. Move on move on. Induce dreams,
invite troubles, share cradles, burrow fears, anything to
beat the dull daily habits. Anything to dodge the gloom
that boredom brings.
we succeed ? I tried. You were enthusiastic. I remember
our rigorous practices. How to go on without blinking. Who
can do it better-- you or me. Dive and hold your breath.
Open your eyes and be silent. Let us see how long can you
go on without looking at me. Remember the dreams we had
last night. Write your worst fears and latest nightmares.
Run barefoot, upon the grass. Climb the nearest tree. Draw
me a portrait of my best and beautiful self. Sing to me.
Let us pretend we had never met. Come close to me. Come
very close and let me hold you. Our private precious games
ended more often in that vein than any other. You would
tease me for my serious lack of humour. I had called you
fleeting even in your sorrow.
are you now? Hiding your face, looking away. Let me see
you as you are. Your shape your form your chin your earlobes
your body your intangible soul. Do not go away no more.
I try to hold on to you. Morning spent in anticipation and
afternoons heavy with sighs. Evenings lonelier. Nights unbearable.Your
words suspended in mid-air whirling here and there. The
intimate sight of your little green note-book lying on the
sofa. Telling me you are home. Showers and soaps and shampoos
mingling with the trickle of our sweats. Smelling fresh,
coming out of our private self-centred closets, our eyes
meeting, both of us falling into fits of laughter.
walls of my room bear witness to our breezy regular lives.
This door marks the entrance to our holy cave. That lamp--the
lighthouse to our vagrant moods. Books on my side and yours.
Some we read together as lifesaving 'mantras' and some of
yours I would not bother, some of mine you would not have
any desire to get into. Your desk-- a bizarre image, shocking
and fascinating with its tumults of books-fragments -papers-pencil
rubbish-drop of ink-hint of paint. Looking at it, tenderness
would surge in. I ruffled your hair, drawing your head towards
me telling you softly what disaster your rigorous mind was
capable of. Mine you praised for its sense of uncertainty.
Not knowing what to expect. Neat today and piles of dirt
in another… You and I liked the things that belonged to
us. We had taken care of them. We did take care of ourselves.
morning. I was writing to you and the bell rang. I went
up to see who it was. Was it you. Or anyone you knew or
I knew or we knew. An old friend at a wrong time ? So very
early. The bell rang impatiently. It was your old friend.
Later became mine, too. But this morning I did not know
how to welcome our mutual friend. My mind was so engrossed
with your thoughts your smiles your sweet arrogance and
your tears. Then I wished to discuss you-YOU. Not everyone
liked you much. When your friends stop liking you, where
do you go? If they begin to settle down with memories, how
do we stay alive? This particular friend shows all the signs
of forgetfulness that is common, natural, something everyone
needs to do at one point or another. Maybe that is why friendship
tends to be fickle. Any relationship is. Fickle. You don't
wish to end it. I do not want to stop. Still it dies. Withers
because of its lack of sunshine. Rain. Air. Not enough oxygen.
told me that story. Two trees growing side by side. Towards
the sun and the heavy clouds and everything lofty the high
ideals that trees are liable to harbour. And as they were
growing, each delirious with her own height, birds began
to make nests in their long arms and they nestled them and
took care not to hurt them.
day the birds lay eggs i.e., they bore children who grew
up and flew away. The old parent birds died and new birds
came. They lay eggs i.e.,they bore children who grew up
and new birds came… New birds came…They lay eggs i.e., they
bore children…who grew up… and new birds…
--STOP IT!!! you are driving me insane. What kind of story
is that ?
--Our kind of story. No ending. Goes on and on.
--It must end. Every story should end somewhere.
--Does it ? Where do we end ?
--We separate in life. We die.
--Is separation the end? Can death be the full stop ?
--Look ! You are not going to get into that spiritual ha-ha,
we stopped. We changed the topic of our conversation. We
changed our clothes. Changed occupations. We changed our
home. New place. Newer friends.
movement. Needed a pace at which all gets dizzy. Dancing
made us dizzy. The whirling dance of the dervishes-strange
and esoteric illusions. You collected them all. The mist
of music to cover up all that was gloomy in life. Me and
you drowned together into a life inside life that we created
with painstaking details. Such obsessionals--our favourite
label. So depressing!--some would say. Mood swings-hysterical
tears-crazy laughter-steady rocking syllables, singing lullabies
to each other, screaming obscenities, shaking our limbs
in fits of mad rage!
we do it all? Am I imagining too much? Creating fresh memories,
false memories out of the old ones. I have our baskets,
drawers, suitcases, bookcases and staircases full of memories.
My head, my hands, my feet, my navel, my chin, my neck,
my waist, my breasts, my insides are full of them.
of you and me.
These memories make up for the suspended living. And you
said: Be gentle to them. As gentle one should be even to
a tooth brush-- the little inanimate object that keeps a
small part of one self clean--the bare teeth. Or the little
wooden comb that keeps the hair in some considerable shape.
A chair on which we can sit comfortably. Ah! you were gentle
to them all.
you had been ruthless. Kind eyes flashed fiercely when met
with the rash insensitivity in people, within ourselves.
'Let there be more light.' Not a shade of self-denying cruelty
to be tolerated. The worst kind is the cruel kind. Big bad
wolves that we are potentially. Be careful with the full
moon, the daily troubles, the higher aims. Violence in the
name of Love. Beware of them all.
stayed aware. Beaten and bound up within tradition you had
rebel. You screamed. You destroyed. You hated as you wished
to care. I found you out. Standing there at the doorway,
a little overweight, premature grey hair on you, my silver
you, I calmed down. Before I knew, this was what is commonly
known as 'settling down'. Even the heartbeats started to
regularise themselves. Days and nights spent up, now seemed
to gather themselves around a central theme. “Call off the
search party!” -- our favourite aphorism. Relief took over
me. Not to look for anyone anymore. Haunting lonely desperate
days. Over. Discovering you I discovered happiness.
was scary, shifting, unpredictable. What do you do when
you are not a seeker anymore? If a search is over what is
left of a life based primarily on the hope that one could
spend all the time looking, looking, looking? I thought
I could spend this lifetime in this research, melancholy
written all over my face. Sad, romantic figure churning
poetry out of self-denial.
took all that comfort away. Could not live the way I had
do you like this fairy tale so far?
of high-sounding words. Magic words. Words filled with tenderness.
Sad syntax. Lazy syllables. Our words. Resting somewhere
around the corner, ready to leap to our tongues, sharp and
tender. To caress as much as to critique.
had we not questioned….between us and among the rest of
the world. The fluidity of our ideals, the flexibility of
actions, and the rigid prohibition on anything remotely
linked to cruelty….admiration for dead people, contempt
for the living sinners.
had quite a few mirrors. Loved to watch our faces behind
the daily masks that we had put on. Our efforts to break
open-“The Seven Seals”.
all the macabre films, this was exceptional.
and Death… what a pair !
won after all.
You or I .
dusk or the dawn
you mind me going on and on about you me us? This is an
open letter. Everyone to read. To wonder if I have invented
you, if you are actually 'real'. Someone to be continued…