<%-- Page Title--%> Fiction <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 114 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

July 18, 2003

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Two Without Consequence


July 1, 2003

My dear beloved,
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.

One drop too many afterwards.

As 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.

Never got to know you to the extent I wished, did I reach the core where no one had been before--every lover's illusion.

When 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.

Where 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 but here.

You 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.

Did 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.

Where 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.

The 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.

This 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.

You 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.

One 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, are you?

There we stopped. We changed the topic of our conversation. We changed our clothes. Changed occupations. We changed our home. New place. Newer friends.

Needed 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!

Did 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.

Full 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.

As 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.

You stayed aware. Beaten and bound up within tradition you had been.

A 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 head.

Meeting 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.

It 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.

You took all that comfort away. Could not live the way I had envisioned life.
Never after.

July 1, 2003

How do you like this fairy tale so far?

Full 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.

What 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.

July 1, 2003

We 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”.

Of all the macabre films, this was exceptional.

Despair and Death… what a pair !

Who won after all.
You or I .

The dusk or the dawn

July 1,2003

Do 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…




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