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. 

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.

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 

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.

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.

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.

Cars and Cameras

Moving cameras inside moving cars,  I pass by lights. Many lights. I click pictures. I check. 

Okay. 

Cars and cameras on phones fascinate me to no end. I am riding shotgun, I am jobless, I am thinking of how the ocean is a sink. I am thinking of how the time is 7:00 in the evening and the sun refuses to set. I am thinking of the noise from the backseat. I hope no one is choking. I am too absorbed to care. If they do, they’ll stop the car. I hope they don’t stop the car.

I turn sideways. I look at the steering. It looked so limiting. In front of me was the careless spread of the sky and the steering was taking me into it. How very un romantic. 

I realise, our days are such. We have a sensory ocean to jump into and ropes and technicians to make the jump easier. Easy, is the keyword. Take it easy. 

I ease off. I switch my camera off and drift to sleep.

Drift to a sensory ocean I so romantically hold dear, but hey, ropes and all. Can’t get too hurt,  can’t get a scare. Let’s control life. One inch lowered at a time. I wake up after five hours.