Streets of Secunderabad 

Low lying houses with large airy verandahs, behind low iron gates. A burst of bougainvillea against the whitewashed walls, spilling. The colour of crushed Indian  rose. The colour of blood mixed in gold. In tufts, in bunches, in surprises. The yards lie swept, resting under the shade of Gulmohar trees. The trees are in full bloom.  Against the overcast sky of the city, the warm red petals seem to house the sun in their tendril like veins. Now and then, a breeze rustles the calm and sends a few red petals flying into the wind, to fall lightly in the swept yards, beginning the day’s decay. 

” Look!!!”, I said, pointing out of the car’s window. 

He looks out and without turning back to face me, asks what I was pointing at. 

” That. Looks good” I say, pointing at the rows and rows of trees and vines bursting with blossoms against the monsoon sky, as if to asset summer one last time. 

” I used to live here” , he says and his face takes on an expression between the happiness of revisiting old homes and the pain of knowing it’s only a visit. 

We reach our destination. We were meeting my friends for coffee and breakfast and we were the first to arrive. I look up to see the   cozy place tucked into an old house. It looked inviting. I take a step in that direction when he stops me.

” Take a walk with me” , he says, pointing to the other direction. 

” why? “, I ask. 

” Look”, he says. 

I see a wide Secunderabad street, lonely and lovely, running brown and quiet, it was perfect to walk on it’s banks. We walk, in the shade of bougainvillea, Gulmohar trees, and the dark clouds that promised an evening rain. 

The ashes from his cigarette fall crumbling onto the piles of leaves raked in, to the sides of the street. One cigarette later, we climbed the stairs to the coffee place, picking the seat farthest from the morning crowd, beside a window that overlooked the street. We didn’t look out of the window.     Time just ripened to a comfortable lull from there on, with a game of cards and three sandwiches thrown in the mix. 

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. 

Mirrors on ceiling 

I stood, my baby weight bearing down on my bread roll resembling feet, gaping lazily at my mother. Her lithe body, the sunrise colour of her skin and I burst up into flames of joy when she picked me up in her long thin arms. My mother, who has loved me that way since, is now no more lithe, her skin is now more red of a sunset than the bright yellow of a sunrise. 

Sometimes, when I tilt my curly head from a chair, letting the hair fall loose and a ceiling mirror reflects my face, with the hair pushed to the ground, I catch a misty glimpse of her in me. Nowhere near that beautiful or pure, but in my own curropt way, sometimes, mirrors on ceilings play my mother’s shadow of youth on my face. 

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 

Bedroom chills

Looking up at eye level mirror reflections, smiles shot at self’s lemon tinged dark, half taut skin stretched over a narrow frame, arms encircle the said frame, a hybrid hug stemming out of defense and love, head falls back letting the curls loose in the morning bedroom chill, from where a giggle erupts. It could go on forever, this self love. But, there are flyovers to be climbed, handbrakes to be pulled, coffees to be downed and a witnessing pending, of an afternoon turning into sweet sweet night.

Cistern Dreams 

Lying in the cistern of an afternoon, I extend my hand to the faucet, turn it. Pink, frothy water comes gushing out of it, like blood mixed with candy floss and settles at my feet, warm and consoling. Slowly, it fills the cistern, till the water comes over my chest. I drift into sleep.

In my sleep, I am nestled like chiffon at a woman’s waist. I imagine his voice, like sugar left to caramelise, that refuses to. How long has it been since I’ve turned to take a good look at prison that holds this voice for me? It’s eyes, like windows that opened to a camera badly focused, bright. It’s nose, proud and protruding and it’s lips from whence emanated the sound. In my sleep, I encircle the thick neck and stand on my toes, putting my own two lips to his’s, making a soft chirping sound.
The cistern overflows and I turn off the faucet. The water has grown cold and transparent. I step out, shivering and naked, I curl up into a ball under a blanket and text.

Comatose Comfort

There is disease like quality about a closed room. When I say closed, I mean robbed off all light and noise. A ceiling fan turns wretchedly stuck to its rhythm, cursed to creak as days run into years. The virtue of close quartered apartments, is harder to lose as a scrape of any kind on the floor above, sends a screech down your ceiling and walls, reminding you of how non-alone your self inflicted loneliness is.

Your laptop blares blue light, as your thumb flirts with your phone and the only thing that is getting your undivided attention, is the bed. You are stuck to it, like true love’s first kiss is stuck to the human delirium. First Rate Glue. Now and then, your eyes flick around the unchanged room and the room closes in further, making it harder to escape the prison, I like to call ” coma comfort”. You give up too. Its easier to let the semi darkness engulf you whole than to move. Moving takes so much character and right now,  you have the character of  a cardboard cut out lying forgotten at the back of an abandoned house. None.

But, life catches up to you. The evening prayer calls, resounding through the walls, people start coming and going into your room and one of them switches on the light. Ah, the ruin. You have been jerked out of the coma, by a very rude cure, called time. Time to bid goodbye to your infatuation with doing nothing and, oh the floor is so cold against your toes.

Five minutes later, you stand in front of the mirror, water running down your face.

Self Administered Heavy Dose

I love drama. I exaggerate like I am getting evaluated by the drama council of my life. I need to blow things of out proportion for me to make it all comfortable to me. I am my most comfortable when a loud sound is followed by a glitter rain and a tall vase tumbling down the stairs. Keep the tears rolling, keep the eyelashes long and bat those eyes like they are having a seizure. It will not get you true love, but, you will look sensational when you are crying about not getting true love. I am terrible, thank you.

I’ve watched episodes over episodes of successful drama series on my laptop. And as drama series go, they are extreme. Happiness, Anger, love, although love isn’t an emotion. I think, it’s an entirely different ballgame. But, that’s the gist of it. The emotions are extreme.  And, sadness and grief are extreme too.

A few years ago, as I watched men leaving professionally successful women with a reality check to ponder over, in a bed rampaged by last night’s sex, I just watched. I watched it like I would watch a commercial.  I watched women hand over their two year old engagement rings and I watched blankly. I watched people lie down on the floor on my laptop screen, looking blankly up at the ceiling, not answering their phone. I never realized the background music is a blessing. Without that, it would be impossible to watch people disintegrating in front of your eyes. To witness a gutting of a person is impossible to go through without being hallowed out of all sanity.

Today, the background music too betrayed. Because now, when I see someone slide down the door they softly closed on a person they softly asked to go, playing two years of togetherness in their head, I know, I don’t want to feel what they are feeling.  I don’t want to feel what it feels like to sit down on your bed and not have the energy to sleep or the resolve to get up. I don’t want to know what it feels like to get your heartbroken.

And scripted heartbreaks are even worse. Someone took time out, to figure out the lighting, the words, the music, the cameras and of course, it’s perfect, A perfect administration of tragedy into my veins, like a drip over the next three hours after I shut my laptop.