Rabbit at knife point

I once held a dirty white rabbit a few years ago, in a lush green valley,  Standing on a bridge as the soon – to -flood -the – valley river roared underneath. Threatening with each magnificent swell. 

 It was thin and it shook violently with each passing second. I had my finger comfortably nestled between two bones of its little trembling rib cage and I cried. 

I draw similarities between the rabbit and myself now, only I am shaking harder. 

Flip goes one page, then two, then two hundredth. Click goes one spreadsheet, then two, then ten. Sigh goes one hour, then two, then eight and spiralling down goes the urge to look out of the office window and watch the sky, gathering up the clouds for what would be a menacing evening of never ending rain.

My windscreen fogged up as I got closer to home, one meter a minute. The day was finally over, I mulled. No, it was far from over. There was more humiliation to be self inflicted, there was still peace to rend and there is still some bravery to be defeated, to be kept on knife point, as it drops to the ground on its scraped knees. 

Still on the ground, head hung to a side, away from the knife point, rain washing away my pride, I manage to look up, for on final act of kindness, I hope to evoke one stir of mad memory. None. 

I smile as the knife retreats. That’s right. You not only defeat bravery, you also gift it as a memory,wrapped in the reddest of shame.

Dust settles

I like the sound of rain, I really like to look at the world through a rain screen, I like the after effects and I have learned to like the muck but, Getting wet in the rain does not make me one bit a happier person.It means sticky hair, sticky skin and a longer bathroom routine. If your immune system is at least half the douche mine is, you will have cold and fever too. 
But that’s an attitude for concrete jungles. My morning walk, is through a well maintained tracks in a national park with an entry fee of twenty rupees. It’s a four kilometre track rampant with peacocks. Both human and bird kinds. Well, today after three kilometres, the sky had a sudden, scary mental breakdown and it rained. If it was a person, I would have ran for my life fearing contagious eccentricity.

But, strangely two minutes in it, I didn’t mind. The sound of rain falling on leaf carpeted mud floor, the sound of rain in puddles of its own doing and the sound of rain on treetops, all of these were strange sounds and it was delicious. I lapped up. Rain sounds sad and wailing on concrete and tar. It gets drawn to drainages, trenches and ditches, if you are lucky or it drowns the city. 

But the forest calls rain its own, treats it with reverence and rejoices in its coming. I like the colour green too, it was hard to get myself out of the forest. I can only imagine what kindness it is to have rains in cities where the only wilderness is at nights on lit floors and ceilings.

I carried the stupor back home, calls to and from chennai helped me keep it tightly still. I write this, sipping sweet tea, wet – crying for a wash hair coiled on my head, sitting cross legged on a dining table chair in wet clothes. 

Little people syndrome. Need cure. ( or not) 

Somewhere between yesterday with me lowering my back at night, going, oooooooooh God, oh god, ooh goood, as my back eased, crackling like a hearth fire,after a long day,to now, where I play a human burrito, wrapped in a sweet blue blanket tortilla, I have apologised, I have made amends and I still feel like little people are walking inside my head, with pitchforks, poking areas that need to absolutely rest. 
Little people most probably are going ” Oh, is that peace and tranquility, I see? How interesting.” * poke poke poke* ” oh, it has scattered, I see. How interesting.” * little person already losing interest*”Oh my god! Is that, by any chance, self love I see by the corner?” *poke poke poke poke boom* 

The areas are going down so fast, like sleepy towns on the banks of a disaster. Rescue efforts are falling short and pride, as it were, is dying a slow death. It has to go sometime. It has started. The slow slipping into realisation, the peek into what is, the projector being switched off and the exit signs glowing green. 

The little people don’t sleep. They are tireless and they have hatched in numbers. Something must be done before they takeover. Pills only seem to work till fever and fatigue. What will cure the little people? 

Dotted lines. 

Surgery, hospital scent, blinding lights

Shut your eyes, real real tight 

Cold cold metal against warm throbbing life

Bite your lips hard, it’s a scalpel not a knife 
Dotted lines run the length of you

They shift, as they cut, what a hard thing to do 

Years later, still on the table, you are reduced.

Still the lines shift, oblivious to you.
Why get on the table 

Why lay stark naked 

Why let the dotted lines desecrate what’s sacred 

They’ll shift, you’ll lay wide awake 

Dreading the scalpel each time; but perfection is at stake  

So, you shut your eyes real real tight

Bite your lips hard

And let the scalpel in plain sight

Cut you, as the lines shift, it’s a perfect postcard. 

Platform no 8 

Waiting isn’t my strongest forte. At least not waiting in its purest form. What is the purest form?

Blinking hard till the image comes into focus and repeating the blur, de blur exercise , drowning in the incoherent sound, looking at the loose stitches on my sandals, noticing a far away vividly painted building. Going off in a thought spiral, being brought back by a loud sound. 

That’s waiting in its purest form and it sickens me. So I bring a book along. 

I read, completely arrogant to my surroundings until I hear the gush of a hose. A man was cleaning the railway tracks, I watch him for a while and I am startled by a groaning noise from hell. 

An old, pale blue engine was trying to connect to a stationary train. It connected but it couldn’t move. The sky was darkening and the engine tried harder, in panic mode . When I was giving up all hope and the sky gave way to a light rain, it honked. It was the happiest sound I heard that day. It honked and cut through the rain, lighting it up, as it sliced through it.

Victories. My phone rings,” Pappa”. The one man who has all the time in the world for me who I don’t have time for. I smile, sadly and lift the call. We talk excitedly for half an hour, about trains. The guy loves trains. The sky darkened to a sherbet red now and the rain was anything but light.
I had to shout on the phone to be heard. He hung up, wishing me good luck. The Rajdhani eased on to the platform in that gruesome setting. A metal beast,slowly making its advance, is enough to make a heart falter. 

In the two minutes it took me to get on board, I was drenched. I found my seat. My wait was an impure one but it let me keep my sanity intact. 

Complaint compliance.

I am stuck in bengaluru. Three years of no headaches, no traffic jams and no broken hearts for anyone who saves me from here. Before Thursday. Tonight, I’ll be waiting.

I have an article to write, an audit to wrap up and three night’s sleep to catch up on, all the while remembering to put the “collect my laundry” sign on my door.  I am still taking the metro, the hike from the station to the hotel has simmered down to an easy walk from the spirited hike it was, three days ago. The menu choices have slowly shifted from “cantonese fried rice” to “steamed rice” and the heat on my hair has dropped to sub zero levels. The theme of now, is survival.

Survival achieved by fighting impulses to get on flights to places, fighting instincts to get up and walk out of rooms and fighting the urge to not get up in the mornings. White linen has a profound effect on how sweet the sleep is. The resurgence of air conditioning is another slow trickle of anaesthesia into my sleep. But there is a pink train every seven minutes two kilometres away and my roommate loves talking to people who are half asleep. I slip out of the blanket and try to make 30 minute, 10 minute slots of the time left, a meek attempt at organisation. Shes a happy person in the mornings, almost too cheerful. It hurts to meet her with a sullen, grumpy face and it hurts more to hear her drill holes into my sweet, anaesthetic sleep.

My rationed courage is fast depleting and I want to be stuck in a true hyderabadi traffic jam, before it disappears altogether.

The night is young and there are one thousand words to be written, three sachets of sugar to be emptied and three spreadsheets to fill.

 

 

A day spent drinking. 

Fever coursed through me, as bottles upon bottles of bisleri were extinguished. In my defence, they were half litre cute bottles that I just felt good drinking from, so my thirst isn’t all to blame. Yesterday was a busy day.

A long walk, an economic shopping spree in an expensive mall, another long walk, sensible soaking in of vitamin D, feeling like a summer goddess. That’s a lot of checkboxes for one Saturday. The day ended well into Sunday, white noise bid me good morning as my eyelids closed shut, at the word ” shining line” .

I wake up early, to my extreme annoyance. I wanted a lazy day not a cranky one. The biggest event of the day was a Punjabi thali that started with a spiced guava Juice and ended with me pushing the plate away,defeated. Few things look as ugly as a half eaten plate.

In the natural progression of things, as a sad day should be, I stick to the rules of lethargy and nap. I love the concept of taking some sunlight away from your life, willingly closing your eyes to light, to sounds, to activity. It’s the delightful bravery of choosing the comfort of night in midday. That gall. The nap.

It felt like soaking in pink cotton candy, but I am sure soaking in pink cotton candy would actually drive me insane from rage. The imagery of it, is pretty and that’s how it felt. Like letting your head fall on someone’s shoulder on a long journey in an uncomfortable car. It felt good.

But I woke up a bloodthirsty monster that wanted more bisleri water. What’s there to do? The lift took me down “stairs” and I attempted a civil dinner. Bisleri. Please. Not dal, not papad, Bis Leri.

All of this nonsensical headache was accentuated by calls from chennai that I greedily lapped up at. Second best thing after bisleri. The TV  was constantly running the entire day, the air conditioning wasn’t working, the Windows didn’t open and the view was breathtakingly good, the clouds were heavy with promise and my legs were heavy as lead. Today was prison.

Now, the table fan runs like a distant river and the TV let’s out screams of anguish as I make a to do list for the night. A night of instant coffee and music and bisleri.

A nineteen rupee adventure. 

Holding on to dear life in a city bus, my mind had to go off on a romantic tangent. What better time to think of childhood friends and work culture than when in a city bus in rush hour. It’s not like the bus was suffocating and the conductor could not hear what I saying. So yeah, my head rolled, lazily, on sunny, grassy planes while I was inhaling poison.

My mind flooded with snippets from three years ago. Walks with Dixita.  Dixu knows me like an open book and the best part, she finds it fascinating. Dixu, who used to drag my overweight flabby self through the coastal city of Vizag, in winding lines, in broad daylight, with me huffing and puffing beside her lithe, graceful form.

Not very different from the bus I was in. Maybe a little bit slower, but the rest matched. I blankly stared at people from the Windows after that little jump into the past. Some stared back, some turned away. When all hope of ever getting down from the bus was slowly vanishing, my stop came. In nineteen rupees, I would call my experience , exploitation. I had exhausted the little journey of all it’s character and was very exhausted.

But I was there to meet someone. A someone I was very curious about and strangely had a soft spot for. This someone was also down with the flu. I met her and we clicked. I thanked all the gods, weird and eccentric for that. I couldn’t commit the crime of asking her how she felt every 10 minutes for the entire time I was there. Thankfully, I didn’t.

We walked in circles, alternating between busy roads where her voice was barely audible and quiet streets where I could hear murderers lurking in the dark. No paranoia. I wish I paid more attention to quranic verses when I could.

So scared, irritated ( is traffic always that annoyingly loud? Sheesh!)  and strangely drawn to her, I walked. Trying not to trip. It wouldn’t really sync if I fell in a pile of leaves while talking about why men are lustful idiots. I emerged victorious. I didn’t fall, I tripped only once.

I remember how she stepped back a small step, every time she spoke of something she felt strongly about. I found that new. I never saw someone do that.

I bid goodbye after a good immersion therapy of 14000 steps and took an auto this time. I have had it with buses and nostalgia.

Although this isn’t about you, Dixu, as much as it should be. This wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t think about you then. I owe you this. Beautiful, ever patient Dixu. She always asked me to write about her. Her curly hair,  big eyes, her music, none of that inspired me. Only her memory does. The memory of the most loving girl I know. I know you wanted poetry, but this is all I have got. So, Dixu, there. I wrote about you. After three years of asking. 

Missings – listed 

The airconditioning in the room was unreal. I was tucked inside a pristine white comforter and was eyeing all metal, cold surfaces with suspicion. I missed warmth. This place was busy, cold and not my home. 

In that downer spirit, I wondered what exactly I missed.

Here’s a list.

I miss waking up before the sun rises, walking in a peacock infested park with  the lady with a fierce red bindi on her forehead.

I miss my office’s insanely bad coffee machine and the resultant steam burns.

I miss being able to wake a lovely person up in chennai, every morning. 

I miss being asked if I wanted to go get momos by a beautiful girl whom I miss but can’t find the incentive to call

I miss my TV. A lot.

I miss my bug of a car which can and will win the messiest car of the year award, should it somehow make its way to the venue without incident 

I miss my mother.

I miss baking experimental cakes that people around me are nice enough to humour with a tasting.

What’s bothering me is, I miss all of them equally. Though, a cursory glance will tell you, mother is probably more important than momos. That’s how I miss Hyderabad. That’s how I miss home. 

Immersion Therapy : 10,000 steps.

I walked 10,000 steps yesterday. My health app vouches for it.  I am calling walking at nights in cold, busy cities, ” Immersion therapy”.  The night is deliciously cold here and the wind whips. Braving it or going along with it, I walk, making conversation with Keerthana. Keerthana likes to walk, she also can talk and walk at the same time. I like that.

The talk is frivolous but the experience is definitely immersive. Immersion therapy feels good. With each minute into it, your heart rate is in harmony with the pulse of the city, your eyes adjust to the night, your sense of smell is brilliant. You’ll lock eyes with dogs and babies alike and it will all become a postcard that will be irrelevant the next day. But the little jolt of memory at the mention of the place, sounds or sights is what I am here for. This is my souvenir.

We enter brilliantly lit malls. We scout for monsoon sales, we check tags before we check sizes. We buy nothing but hand and nail creams, scented with magnolia.

We are out on the street again, immersion resumes. The walk continues, until we spot a row of lantern lit autos fashioned into stalls. The dosa there, has a reputation.  We have three different kinds of fast food. Permutations and combinations of fat and carbs. We burp, we pay with a smile to the fastest bandiwala I ever saw. Kiran, apparently has been running the bandi since 10 years. 10 years of waking up, getting supplies and waiting for the day to get dimmer. Ten years of skill. We pay kiran, leaving him in peace with his tea.

Our walk resumes. We scan the surroundings. There is more to be done. Reluctantly we take our tickets for the metro. Beloved , beloved metro. We get off, relieved, the little pink train dissapeared the next second.The exhaustion was kicking in. The high was taking a backseat. But, not so soon. We had more walking to do and this wasnt necessarily a choice. We had to get to the hotel.We trekked for another two kilometers and breathlessly arrived at our narrow and pretty hotel. The wifi wasnt working, the pepsi was sold out and there was a power cut.

End of the day, coulnt have been more literal.