Aside

Road no 12, Banjara Hills

It was this road that ran a good length into Banjara Hills, flanked protectively by luxury brands on either sides. Amrapali, the store read and an elevated cobblestoned driveway led to the side door. I walked in, step matching with Jigi. The first thing I noticed was some girl’s bleached hair, coloured rainbow, falling dry and limp on her shoulders. I turn away to look at Jigi.

” What are we doing here?” , I ask. We don’t normally just walk into a high end store without first drawing gigantic sketches that always concluded on, ” We’ll probably regret it, but lets do it”.

Standing a good foot tall above me, he barely looks at me and says, ” We are buying you a nosepin.”

“Here?”

“Yeah.”

“Yeah, No”

” Okay, I will buy a nosepin. You do whatever you want to do”

I sigh and maze my way to the bathrooms. When I was out, I could hear the lovely Indian classical music pouring right out of the papered walls onto the perfumed air. I could see the china, whose trims were writhed in pink roses and gold leaves. The world was a better place.

Jigi is waiting.

We climb up the stairs and reach our section of the store, that supposedly has nosepins. Well, not the kind my dear boyfriend envisioned. They were the size of a lemon. We laughed and looked around petty towels and perfumes until we got bored and out we went.

The first bubble of laughter from my lips escaped as fast as his first drag of cigarette that he blew at the setting sun. We walked, our backs against the sun, under a velvety blue sky.

Balcony blues 

The light of now isn’t the light that sweeps clean, the remnants of night from the farthest and the darkest corner of your room. No, the light of now, waiting behind the tallest apartment building, morning but barely, awaits the west side of the sky, to try its luck again. 
It escapes, sometimes, filtered, in patches, and pastes itself on my marble floor. What can I do? I am as helpless as you. I tread upon it, dipping my foot in a puddle of morning, and forget about it just as soon as it complains.
It’s time now, it is now waiting, the west windows of my home are painted red in their veins. It again slips through gaps between buildings, snaking its way through gullies, because the night is chasing, and it must hurry. Gasping, stumbling and reddening, it alights on my walls, breathing.
It changes colours, and dies a content death, fading into the fresh paint of my wall. No traces left, but a moist eye here and there, looking out of balconies, mourning.

Locked away in midnight hour 

Only the moist finger tips of a pregnant sky, irritatingly tingling my spine, running down along it, in rivulets, disappearing, but staining my cotton dresses, has the power to keep me awake after a tiring day.

The tiredness stays and stretches as I move about, it’s there, it’s slowly taking over my movements, slowing them down to a slumber. But, the summer keeps sleep locked away in some midnight hour. Till then, I move, as if wading a sea of mud, making my way to the midnight hour, to collapse, body and soul into the arms of sleep. 

And there I’ll lay dead till the hazy morning sun rises above the hills, and etches my curtain’s lace flowers on me, marking its territory. 

Lay low 

Lay low and let them wash over you, oh no

You are of no notice or nothing new 

Just lay low, cause it’s easier on your back 

To watch them blow over you, and relax
As stations come and go

As the time goes slow 

As the train heaves ho!

As the eyes in slumber roll 
Lay low, let no destination soil your peace

Lay low, till on the platform you put your feet

Lay low, time though slow, is sweet and sweet 

Lay low, be a dead fish on a blue railway berth, go with the flow 

Brake lights

The back attaches itself to the car seat, in anguish and boredom. It’s fine. It has resigned itself to the boring wind through  the pockmarked roads of my city. The arm extends, just as tense as it is bored to the steering wheel, fingers gripping the steering in a mix of lethargy and urgency. The kind of urgency boiling water has as soon as it reaches the boiling point. The kind of urgency, that will die out in vapours of resignation. 
And the eyes restless and vaguely registering everything, flick about, returning to the red light. Bathed in the brake lights red wash, that pours through windows and windshield, a temporary life breeds in the red concoction. A life which suspends itself on the impatient, yet resigned wait of a hundred tired eyes. A life which is red, has the temperament of the faintest mist and the personality of a weakly plotted murder scene from a B grade novel. The eyes flick back to the signal and the brake lights, emit their last fierce roar and the signal clears. The red vanishes like a lunatic’s days of lucidity. 

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.

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.

 

 

 

Mockery of the heathen gods

There are a few things in life, deemed romantic by a majority of the population. And then there are, half asleep, groggy eyes, silently watching with a half smirk on their lips with the taste of bile at the back of their throat, this romance.  I was one of them.  I hated the romance woven around rains. It was like seeing the kid you hated in the finest pink gown at your birthday party. Who invited you?  No, I don’t want your gift.

 The splash wasn’t a good sound, it was a death knell. The thunder was undeniably the true death knell and the smell of earth when it rained was the equivalent of the elixir like voices of cannibalistic sea nymphs. Yes, I have no reservations when it comes to expressing just how much rain ruins my life and it has earned me a lover and a few enemies.

But, one day, I met rain not in the school hallway with her miniskirt too high to be ugly anymore. I spied her from a distance as she sat alone, on the steps, braiding her hair deliberately, reading the fine print at the back of a hand cream. I caught rain in its element and the story follows.

 

I look back upon that day like it’s from five years ago and not five days ago.  The feel good factor about that day is so strong, according to my memory, there has to be thick insulation of nostalgia to it.  So, I let it trick me into it.  Somehow, what I was wearing in a moment becomes an important part of how well I remember that day or through which lens I remember that day. I wore a luxurious silk dress and rightly so, a thin; but noticeable varnish of luxury taints the otherwise pure memory.

I sit down opposite to the man I have missed terribly in these two months and the delicious smell of baked cheese wafts up from the ground floor dominoes kitchen. First bite into the cheeseburst pizza, I turn into a very confusing audio file.  I moan, I yell, I chirp and I almost sing.  Molten cheese is a pain to eat, quite literally and I never had a cheese burst pizza before that.

The man in front of me shrugs and continues eating.

In all this cholesterol championship finals, it started raining outside.  We were sitting next to a ceiling to floor glass window on the first floor. It wasn’t a brightly lit street. The streetlights were perched too high to illuminate anything but the shops and the traffic compensated. So the rain fell in many colors on a background of black and when it hit concrete, the city resisted it, with a tiny splash. A hundred thousand resistances like that, made up a pretty war scene. I took a picture. 

We were done with the intense talk and the intense pizza love; the rain too, had taken a break. The plan was to hail different taxis from there to our respective sleeping alcoves. But the talk was far from over and we had already started walking. To stop a walk is one of the most tasteless things to do. So, we decided to walk till his college from where I would take a taxi back to my hotel.  Agreed. The walk slowed to a more romantic pace, knowing there was a distance to cover.

It started to rain. Both of us hated rain with a passion but, we still walked. He held my hand over wide puddles, I held on to him when traffic skidded. Our talk had reached a crescendo as we turned onto the very desolate stretch of road, by which his college loomed. Ancient trees arched the wide road and the buildings on either side were high and walled. 

Now, the rain was steady and strong and the road was deserted. It was 10 in the night, we were wet to the bone, and I still had to hail a taxi to get back to the hotel. Only one obnoxiously priced taxi was available in the area then, and reluctantly, I took it. The driver would take fifteen more minutes to reach our spot.

Fifteen minutes of waiting when no one dares speak, is an experience worth paying for. I paid for it with a week’s of ill health. The experience started with unrest and wonder at the inconvenience of rain and as the minutes deepened to a five minute wait, I resigned and lost my posture, swerving slightly to his side and hearing, actually listening to the roar of the rain. Seven minutes into the wait, I wrapped my thin, wrinkled fingers around his arm and widened my eyes to a much greater downpour. It was golden, it was alone and it did not care. 

Ten minutes into the wait, I felt my heart beat very loudly against my chest. The rain was getting under my nerves, It rained entirely too much and too loud for me to ignore it. I was forced to acknowledge it and it looked beautiful and sounded like a love song. My love song. Fourteenth minute into the wait, I was maddened with fear. The rain wasn’t stopping, the clock was ticking and my brain couldn’t stop noticing heavenly tinges around the edges of my madness in the rain. One more minute and I would be one of those romantics who weave romances around rain.  In time, two lifesaving lights pierce through the hypnosis and I wave a relieved goodbye and get into the car. The windows were appropriately fogged and restored a sense of normalcy towards rain in me, slowly. It still made lives dreadful.

There will always be a little part of me that will like rain. For those fifteen minutes, I was a slave to its beauty, in a way I will always bow to it a little, like a faithful servant to his queen, even after she is made to wear the scarlet letter.