One day horror story.

I did not run today, second day in a row.  Half asleep, I look at the time. It was high time. I still, always find time to check face book, like it’s the first sapling I ever planted, I have to keep checking on it, every hour, having full knowledge that it takes a week for the first signs of growth to be visible. But, knowledge and expectations get compartmentalised with an ocean to cross in between.

Face book was, as always. Only, today was Rakshabandhan, the festival where sisters and brothers are for once, honest about how much they mean to each other.

I switched to messenger, as soon as I could.

The curtains closed around me, thick and drawn and it felt good. More the insulation, lesser cries get out of the room.  I remember at least twelve rakshabandhans where I found it difficult to go through the day. The ones before that, I don’t remember.

Of the ones I do remember, my viewpoint evolved from hiding behind my mother, to hiding behind a screen. Mother served the dual purpose of a hideout and a tissue; screens don’t, so I further evolved to hiding behind “It’s not a big deal”, although from time to time, its a big deal. Big enough to ruin my breakfast.

I have no siblings but, I have many cousins, owing to my great grandfather’s insatiable lust. But, there have been times I had to rummage through a long index of names, while talking to the cousin, just so I could end the conversation with“ Goodbye, Shabana” , while sincerely hoping it was Shabana I was speaking to and not her younger sister, Roshan. So, cousins for me are like an email address ending with “@yahoo.co.in”.

That leaves me with one alternative on Rakshabandhan; I sit down and listen to stories streaked with turmeric, vermilion, rice, camphor.

Hear the sound of thread on thread as the rakhi is tightened, the sound of unwrapping of presents, the sound crisp 500 rupee notes make.

See wrists crowded with rakhis typing away, shaking my hand, waving at me. I wave back and go home. This day will end soon.

When the coffee shops are asleep.

White, thoroughly sieved through a fine mesh of pale clouds, sunlight filtered hot and comfortable through the car windows, as we went up and down Banjara Hills Rd no 2., as she stretched like a cat beside me on the passenger side and said , “ This Sunday is so Sunday”.

Pratha was right. This Sunday felt like a Sunday description in an old book with words like “ pinafore” and “sweet temperament”

The awakening

I was wriggling like a very snug worm under my comforter, when my phone rang. It was Pratha.

“Heeeeeeeey, Ssup? “ Says I

“ I just wanted to give you  a wake up call” ,Says she

I mumble a series of words, broken bits.

“Are we still meeting” ,she asks.  I snap out of my reverie and say

“ Do we have to do this today?”

“ Yes, wake up. Don’t be lazy” , she says

I grunt a “okay “and get up, get dressed and admire last night’s eyeliner’s superb artwork around my eyes. I looked like someone raccoons would worship and sacrifice baby raccoons for.

I pick her up and we park, where pratha directed me. It was where her father generally parked.  With that little throw of a twig to yesteryear, there was no stopping her. She slipped into nostalgia so suddenly and completely, I had to sit at the surface and wait for her to resurface.

The walk

It was a crisp, sunny morning. A textbook pleasant day. We walked the route she generally walked with her father, stopping to take pictures of grass, stopping so much, it’s a miracle we ever came out of the park.She spoke of her grandfather’s bungalow, I spoke of my grandmother’s bungalow. We discovered both the bungalows had similar courtyards and wells and trees and I found out, that she used to feed cows through iron gates and that cows can devour a mango like an industrial peeler.

The rest of the walk, we clicked pictures of bugs, we spotted two grown men poking a small snake, we spoke of the park’s infamous corners and how one shouldn’t be too surprised if two half naked people jump out of a bush, or three. But that is largely dependent.

By the end of the walk, we were craving something cold down our throats. I spied a tap dripping cold water on  the mud floor. There was no one to judge me if I just went and had a drink. Pratha doesn’t count. But, bouts of diarrhea and skyrocketing temperatures have taught me better than that, so I close my eyes and make haste., fighting temptation, winning over the evil of milling bacteria.

Back in the car, We were tired and thirsty as we discussed the merits of barefoot driving, as I removed my socks and shoes, under the warm gaze of pratha, who approved of the habit with such intensity, I felt honoured. The merits, we decided included putting people off. I am happy with that arrangement.

The breakfast

We head out to this place called “Dosa house” that pratha has spoken about more fondly that she speaks about people and feelings. She was right. The dosa was spot on. We ordered pomegranate juice, and it was the best juice I had in ages! It was just the right amount of cold, the right amount of bitter and sweet, and the right shade of pink, plus it came with a pink straw.  I slurped, as we discussed people we didn’t like, all the while, she kept slipping in and out of somewhere. She was so lazy to talk, to reply, to say yes, to agree, to say no, she just wanted to eat her cheese dosa and drink her juice and just be happy that I was there with her. So her conversation was part shrug, part speech, part slurp and part silent absent nodding.

  I was thoroughly enjoying her laziness. It was just the purest expression of “ Can I please not talk, can you please still stay and lets have a great time” and I was more than ready to give her what she wanted. I was liking the morning too much to really zone it out, completely with incessant chatter.

We paid the happy bill of three hundred rupees.

Jigi’s mother always said three hundred is my limit for spending without throwing a tantrum. She couldn’t have been more right. Three hundred rupees is the happiest total.

I dropped her off at her place, glad that I didn’t cancel the plan and rang up Chennai.  Jigi and I spoke more on where I left it with Pratha, he was just up after a nap and was a very good listener. I prattled, car prattled and I reach home, acutely aware of my instagram responsibility of posting pretty pictures of grass in another hour or so. 

This Sunday was traditionally glorious. Like a very pretty omelet. Thoughts on pretty omlettes is another rant.

 

Sleep soirees, no sorries

When I sleep and when I wake up couldn’t have been more indifferent to each other. No matter when sleep decides to grace my prickling conscience, my alarm will go off at 5 sharp and somehow, my body doesn’t revolt then. It suddenly, gets a jolt of never before found motivation and is on a power drive. Brush, tablet, brush hair, check hair, re do hair, chuck hair, grab keys, purse and shoes and off I go, to walk in the chilly monsoon mornings, headfirst, brain freeze.

Did you see that? You saw what it did?

It didn’t care and laughed that sly, raspy laugh of an aristocrat to another.
Does sleep care? Hardly. It’s too cold to be sleeping with the windows open and not cold enough to be thankful for Windows and doors, the time is neither so late that the leftover bits of guilt put me to forced sleep nor so early that I do not worry about it, the sounds are not quiet enough to put me in an involuntary state of mourning, nor are they loud enough to elicit an artless expression of disgust. The night isn’t going anywhere, it’s hanging but not quite dead.

Tiny little somethings start playing tiny little somethings with my eyes and I get the hint of , just the bare whiff of delicious sleep.Overjoyed, I close my eyes and lay, still, afraid to disturb the Royal, revered oncoming of the sleep, my stillness is my prayer. I close my eyes harder, awwwww yes, there it is, almost there, I can even foresee a generous spell of good dreams for the night…..

Something must have gone wrong. My Sleep refuses to cross the threshold of temptation and step into this bleak world of reality where, I have to wake up early in the morning tomorrow. Told you, doesn’t care.

It reminds me of all the poets I know. Obsessed with character, obsessed with the play, obsessed with how their own letters curve and crawl but never quite sure when asked ” Yeah, that’s fine. What next?”

My sleep was that poet. It was vain and stupid and completely blind to tomorrow morning, where I will face the world alone, with half functionality ,zero chill and 100 percent snap.

Are you happy now? Moron.

Mockery of the gods.

Starlight, they say lights novels up like a gaudy wedding celebration. I have to agree. Sunlight is too tame and moonlight, too overdone. So starlight, fits the description perfectly. It has magic, it has mystery and we somehow, think stars are pretty, cause they glitter, which they don’t. Even if they do, god alone knows, why we have this fairytale crow complex of picking up shiny spoons and diamonds. Even if there is any sense for a crow to do it, why would you find a star, which is, by the way, not giving you light and is just a mocking little dot, I cannot tell you, how far away!  So far away,  we limit our romances to going just to “the moon and back”.

In such a delirious state, I speak to jigi and I tell him why starlight is not light and he agrees. Then he tells me,

“Adi, likes to look at the moon”

I don’t know Adi, so he shall be spared. But, I do know the moon and we sort of had an affair a few months ago. The steamy details, follow.

 

Bangalore , 2016, February

All I could think of, was how extinct moonlight was in cities. Standing on the terrace in the dead of the night, while my two friends confessed love in the background, I heard myself breathe and I looked up, there hung the moon. I didn’t care. It was pretty much how it always is, a white illuminated wasteland, kind of like a religious fundamentalist’s head.

 Tired, I look down from the terrace.I tried to make out how many graves there were, don’t judge me, we were staying adjacent to a graveyard and counting graves is a tough job (How do you know, that’s just one grave? Who is to say, Mr Ram wasn’t buried 100 years later on the remains of Mr Balram) and I wasn’t wearing my spectacles so I lost count soon.

I was back to staring at the sky, lit red, blue and green, like the city was a giant vat of colorful flames reflecting skywards. Where does the moonlight stand its chance in such a carnival?

Moonlight, which was celebrated through moth ridden pages, through reels and reels of cinema, through verses shamelessly redundant now cast shadows, barely discernible, of one brick structure on another, as my friends proceeded to share a cigarette.

I proceeded to taunt the moonlight more. It filtered unnoticed through window panes throughout the night, a suspended gloom, an insistence bordering on audacity!  The courage!  Just how does it plan to retreat when one switches on a light to check on a sleeping baby? Just how fast, would be the merciless killing of it? It stays, as if in defiance of my thoughts, like a wife in denial.

I turn to look at my friends, they were still drinking and smoking, grey smoke wafted up as an answer, when one of them smoked towards the sky, and for one split second, it caught the moonlight and my eyes widened. Just as it materialized, it vanished, like those stories of apparitions, leaving me once again, in confrontation with the protesting moonlight., but leaving me weak kneed, slack jawed and rose cheeked.

It still stayed, hanging like a forgotten proposal, indifferent to the terrible beauty it still possessed for the little romantic in everyone, indifferent to the sudden change of my heart and I realize, I’ll die and it will cast light on my tombstone, every night, after the lights are out. Mockery of the gods.

Look at the moon, Adi. Maybe, It’ll be kinder , softer, bluer on your grave.

The drunk drinks harder.

Two cups of diluted decoction, two long breaks, two times I felt the urge to look out of the window for a long long time and by the end of it, I was grabbing the keys off the table and making a run for the stairs. The day was over early and there were still a few minutes of twilight I could catch, filtered blue and big through my dusty windscreen.

Dusty, dotted and neglected, my windshield still did a great job at filtering the blue. I stopped at a red light and saw  stray bits of cloud making a slow, reluctant retreat, like the last ones to leave a funeral. The dots and the dust bothered me. It spoke of a drunkard.

The durnkard

She earned odd notes of 50s and 100s, she sometimes pushed him back, she at times, hit at him with all her might, she sometimes cried it out. All this I see in the short walk from the car door to the lift. Sometimes she stood adamant, arms crossed in front of my mother, she absolutely needed five thousand rupees to pay her bills and the drunkard woke up each day, cleaned all the cars in the parking lot, lazed, and the odd 50s and 100s broke down to just bouts of guileless drunken slumber, that I sometimes spied beyond oily curtains, barely hiding anything from view.

The she, is my watchman’s lawfully wedded and bedded wife and the he, is the drunk watchman.  The spots on my windshield  turn green around the edges and off I go, as the blue runs deeper into itself, I climb the flyover, still mulling about the drunk.

When I finally park the car in the parking lot, I stare at the dots and dust. He hasn’t been cleaning the car for three days now. He never misses a day.

I haven’t even seen his wife around for three days now, I haven’t seen his children.

Later, I come to know, I might never see one of his children again. His son is in the hospital battling fatal burns, that burnt as deep as his breathing vitals. Each breath must hurt, I think as I exhale, feeling privileged.

I try not to imagine the pain, as I stare at the ceiling, my mother is still talking. Does it matter?

Will it really matter if someone pointed out that there wasn’t anything to tie together between the boy’s burns and the father’s habit? Dots and dust on my windshield speak of a drunkard, who might never hear a kind word again.

How do you fight two battles at once? The loss and the lost.

The next day, I clean the dots and the dust myself, as the dots browned, they sang of the kid’s slow demise and I didn’t have the strength to pray for a half burnt life of nine years.

 

 

Velvet Trims

Velvet trimmed night, laced up tighter than a vintage corset on a plump woman, that’s how the night  fell. Demanding and beautiful.

It was

Slate coloured, cold water down parched throat

A messenger, sweet cries of a birth

A canopy, firm grasp of a hand

An invisible rain, a shower of lights

Expectant, a sea swell’s freeze

A storm, brewing in a teacup

A prayer, darkened by age

A charge, forever waiting, never acting

A tension, blooming and blossoming.

Night is,

A world, that is

Balanced delicately

On one side is morality

On the other sanity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sounds of my day. 

Click of the seatbelt,Ignition, hand brake, brake, reverse, straight, go.

To

Ease in the spot, brake, hand brake, turn off ignition,withdraw the key, click of the seatbelt, the slither of the belt through metal, the scrape of leather on leather, shut goes the door. Heels on concrete, clip clop of a horse, blank stares at empty space where the claustrophobic transportation cube will arrive, shortly.

Screech and screams of the elevator, more horse norse, click goes the switch, sigh goes the spine, as the wheels of the chair roll in delight, as my head, dripping wet, sticks to my neck, an unwanted tattoo and the screen, blue and blaring glares back at me.

Thousands of small cells, a military tension wire on the screen. Millions of wires, waiting to be loved, who moan at the slightest touch of a key, turn yellow, red and green, however I want them to be.

Faded beige clock ticks it’s ridiculously long life away to 12, to 1 and to 1:30. Fingers tear; deceptively delicately at bread, dip it in salty stews and stain the lips red and yellow. Turmeric, mother is your third love. I know. 
Three hours go and coffee beans in my system I sow. 

5:55 P.M. Little world I scatter around, I gather and zip up. Step. Step. Step. Out in the evening air. Watered down indigo sky. Winter will be here soon. 

Ignition, hand brake, seatbelt clicks, brake, reverse, straight, wave, go

To

Cut the call, ignition off, withdraw the key, click and slither of the belt, shut goes the door and I look at another empty space, where the airy elevator arrives, carrying with it wafts of Chicken curry from the fourth floor and dried fish from the second. 

Door opens and shuts.