Drumbeat

Silence rules us. We abide by its palm pressed tightly against our mouths. A breathtaking morning is felt, not laid out neatly like tarot cards, in handpicked cherry like sentences. A freshly laid tar road, ambushed by the autumn shedding is taken in, not talked of.

But a change of season is too tempting to let go of without at least once, half swinging, sneakily to the drum beats of the heralding song.  Winter is here and the moon lingers, the sun behaves like a caffeine addict. It rises grumbling, slowly and by noon, with coffee in its system it rains down anxiety on my city.  The winter sun stings, we scurry off to cold walls, in dug out sweaters.

Cleanse the city of its gods.

The Tip off

“Did you look at the moon? It’s crazy”, texted Jigi.

I went into my balcony which faced east and looked up.  I couldn’t see the crazy moon. Crazy moon was on the other side, the side, I was not dressed for. I told him I couldn’t and went to sleep.

 

The sighting

I find it unfair that the light just before morning is no different from the light at midnight. The only indication of it being morning, were the huge, rumbling milk vans zooming past me as I braked.  Idiots.  I accelerate in anger; my car gives a jerk and effortlessly climbs the flyover.

As we go higher, it gets calmer. I am tempted to slow down, but I resist. When I reach the highest, I see the moon, now against a slightly lightened sky, which was at least a little indicative of the morning to come.

It was crazy. It stuck to the top right corner of my windshield, like a maniac. I take a turn, losing it for quite a few minutes. By the time it appeared again, it was pasted against a soft blue sky.

The sight

The wrappings of cold, desolate and far were ripped off of it, it shyly shone, like someone stretched a net of silver across a vessel of light. It was beautiful like I know it will never be after those three minutes I spent, with a glass partition between us.

It hung like an enchantment waiting to be cast upon Hyderabad.  If I touch it, will white dust light me up?  If I pray, will god grant my wishes? No.

The sun cleansed the city of the mist and the drunkenness.  Who will cleanse the city of the goddesses?

Killed in an encounter.

My day is a series of nonevents. Turning my car into the parking lot is one. But, since the last two days, it has become a delight. Hyderabad is recovering from the rain battery it received a week ago.

Monsoons are receding but every now and then, a spell of rain, still threatens us. After each threat, the boughs of the arched trees of my lane, usually arrogant enough to let even sunlight through, grudgingly, in patches, tremble. This quiver lets loose the tiny, white flowers they hold dear all summer. The nature wars with itself, as the flowers are strewn, white and tiny all across the lane, on either side.

Destruction of all orders, ritually complete each other as the night approaches, colder than yesterday. And, as my car takes the much wished for curve into the lane, it lights the lane up. The streetlights are too few and apart. Just when I take the turn to my parking lot, the flowers come into sight, like tiny apparitions. Oh look, a crime scene.

They are stark and sudden. In the glare of my headlamps, they look disturbed, a hundred eyes widened in wonder and fear. I brake slowly, and stare. The petals stand up straight and defiant against the light I inflict on them.

They have grown wiser since their fall from the lofty perch. By the time, the first petal touched Earth, their reality shifted. They don’t look at me like an intrusion. They know that by daylight, they would be raked in by the city municipality. They know that they would be crushed under the weight of plastic in another 14 hours. The imminence of their existence is their reality, which they never forget, never let me forget.

They know that I would, after getting over my childish infatuation, drive my car over them, in another two minutes, killing a few so mercilessly, not even the tragic image of a crushed petal would be left behind. They would die pressed flat to my tire or pressed hard into the ground and then, be trodden upon, again and again and again, until, they became one with the oppressor or the prison.

The Breakfast Show with Arnab

Sleep sometimes refuses to come. Sometimes it feels like trying  on  an old blouse, now two sizes smaller. Its a stubborn effort, its painstakingly long and it is a grim reminder of the forgotten resolutions. kale, my ass.

 I lay, eyes closed forcing all my fatigue to my brain. I was not dropping hints anymore. This was the romance less, “You, me, here and now” rendition.

I kept waking up throughout and my alarm went off at 5am. Relieved, I took a shower. At least now, there was no pressure to sleep.

Sleep eyed, I sat beside Jigi’s brother in the car, as he drove. I kept talking to keep myself awake at the expense of his divided attention. In the bus stand, we waited for Jigi to arrive, whatever time we had, we hunted for tea, drank coffee, he smoked a cigarette while I tainted his early morning cigarette experience ( if there is one? I dont know. What is the fuss all about? The entire trip, right? The exhale, the little masturbation exercise of watching the smoke drift by, like life, one cigarette at a time.)

Bored, we went back to the parking lot and waited in the car, watching a particularly charismatic Indian journalist turned entertainer yelling on national television. On a news channel.  His familiar voice calmed my nerves. The senseless pride we feel at showing a friend the big garbage dump in the  neighborhood was  replicated. Come, see, here is India’s finest entertainment, disguised as news.

 *Preach Begins*You watch some people do somethings not because there is any intellectual value in it, but only and only because, there is a shock factor to it, which when not coupled with brutality, is entertaining in healthy doses. *Preach Ends*

Arnab Goswami was the shock factor that refused to wear off. He was slow, killing, numbing and always, the entertainer. I let go. Entertain me, Arnab.

It was hot and comfortable inside the car and I was getting sleepier, in spite of the unnecessarily high pitched and dramatic narration by Arnab. Yes, Arnab. No, Arnab. Whatever, Arnab. No Arnab, a questioning is not reasoning. Reasoning results from… Alright, sorry Arnab. I will shut my mouth. Your show. Shame on me.

Jigi called. He was here. We pick him up.

Jigi eases into the backseat wearing a grey T shirt and all the misery of Chennai on his face. He shuts the door and says “Roll it”.

Flirtations, Listed.

Most of life’s mundanities unravel to me when I take a sharp left or when I go on an adventure of lazy lane switches. And, almost always, the Radio is blaring. I prefer the bad song sounds to my bad engine sound.

Today, while coming back from work, I was wondering if I could phase out and still drive and still reach safely?  I phased out for two seconds. At a red light. I love life, I am glutton about it. So I crank up the volume and refocus and the radio mulled over ” Two minute relationships”

What are those?  Like a silent pact between two strangers sharing standing space on a divider, waiting to cross the road? An agreement to not die or not push the other under a bus. Sounds like an important agreement to me. Then, I started thinking about all the two minute relationships I’ve had.

Flirtations Listed:

  • The never ending stranger meets in elevator. Who’ll push the buttons? Whats that perfume?
  • The red light romance. I see you, you see me. I turn away, because I have to pick my nose.
  • The co shopper. You and I, same aisle, same cereal? I walk away, muttering prayers for the oats in her cart and mine. Look at our waistlines, we don’t eat oats.
  • The book shop love.That one person who picks just the right book. So long, lover
  • The wait at the chemist’s. I know you are lactating, You know I am constipating. We share a bond beyond words.
  • The salesman at the jewelry store. Everything looks good on me? Can I model? No ? Why are you smiling?
  • The everyday guy gang at the end of my street. They hate me for my obnoxious honking, I hate them for the hoots.
  • My watchman, who is picked right out of a ghost story. We only stare, intensely.

And intensely staring, I get into my car, for another adventure. I lead the bug to the morning sunlight. Bathe, little bug. We have a lot more flirting to do.

 

 

 

My Name is Sacred.

I turn when someone calls my name and I do not stop and think about it. My mother must have spent a year, thinking about it.

My mother had a different name before she got married to my father, before she became a Muslim. She had the name of the Hindu goddess of prosperity. Now, her Arabic name means “Beautiful”. One night, while watching a particularly old movie with her on the laptop, lying beside her, I asked her, “ How do you even turn, when someone calls you by your new name?”. She was used to this name for twenty one years now.

 “I am used to it now”, she said

“But, what’s your name?”, I asked her

“Internally, I start when I hear my old name. It’s a little shock, a little jolt, I am alert, and I turn. But, no one calls me by that now. So, I know it’s not for Me.”, she said

I was about to say something when I realized she wasn’t ever asked this very vital question. I knew she would like to continue. She didn’t and that saddened me more than anything else. My convert of a mother, doesn’t talk much about herself.

My first identity was my name. To that, lot of other identities added and their hold of me was fickle and slight. They slid off, as I grew older. The one identity which stayed, like one’s scent, was my name.

Moving away from the coast.

I lived by a coast for eight years. Eight years of watching a doomed sea, rush psychotically towards the city, sometimes breaking sadly on the rocks, sometimes touching the feet of tourists, but all the times, sulkily being pulled back into itself. It’s a mental exercise to look at the sea.  It’s deafening, its senseless and it eats away your time.

But, who is to explain the sadistic soup of salt and humidity that the sea brews up?  The struggle is endless.  My hair is not on the list of “Types of Hair” articles on the internet, I see myself comparing my hair to coconut coir. My skin isn’t dry, isn’t oily, isn’t combination. It is dreadful, is what it is. My complexion is inexplicable. I will still try to explain it. I look like a marble cake made out of dark chocolate and milk chocolate but left to dry out in the sun for a month. And to that explanation, there isn’t a complexion correcting serum on the market.

My day starts with waking up, sweating under a blanket in the middle of winter. I take a bath, to which end, I cannot explain. Even before I exit the washroom, I am bathed in sweat again. Still, I defy and get ready. I come to my hair. I don’t even try to do anything with it. It gets pulled and twisted into a braid. I step out of the house and the humidity and salt, take me prisoner.

After 10 hours, I come home and submit myself to the self-inflicted torture of looking into the mirror. I see a coal mine writing poetry on my face. It’s distressing. I wash my face, I change and I channel into the virtual world.

It was an eight year exercise. I now live in the highlands of Hyderabad and I do not know what humidity is, the only salt I tolerate is in my food.

Before leaving the coastal town, I paid one last visit to the sea. It was the happiest sendoff I got from anyone. It was the same; it promised to be the same if and when I ever returned to it. Selflessly, it played it’s sick, old game of rush and retreat and repeat and the last I saw of it, was from the small window of the flight. I don’t miss it enough to let the absence make it fonder for me, but I do miss it just enough to throw one stray thought its way. Catch.