I tend to be extremely myopic in terms of life. That I can't see beyond a certain point, I acknowledge. So I be within constraints. I don't see myself anywhere in the next 5 years, like they ask in job interviews. I don't see myself anywhere. I used to keep a vague imagery of myself at 40. But that's slowly fading. Pictures, we can't afford. Sometimes, just merely being, maintaining a decent status quo, is such a struggle. Breath sucking, blood curdling struggle. I had foreseen myself at this age that I am now, but when it's for real, it's nothing like that, actually. It keeps getting more and more disappointing. Because of the cages I built inside my head. And prefer to stay, incarcerated. 

There is an old man. He must be in his seventies. He wears a washed out dhoti and carries a huge sack of mudhi (puffed rice, for the uninitiated) on his head and climbs up four flight of stairs. He calls out in that shrill voice, he addresses the women in the houses as mothers, they may be less than half his age. And asks who wants mudhi. He also sells those balls of mudhi rolled in sweet jaggery. Golden looking delicious balls. He would arrive sharp at 9:30 almost on all week days. And that is the most chaotic time of the day for me, I would be swallowing an unchewed breakfast, in the self immolating shame of being late for work. The old man would ring the bell, I would open and shut the door within the span of a few seconds, refusing, caring not if we had enough mudhi or not. 

In afterthought. I would wonder. If I should have given him some money, just for taking all those stairs. I never did that though. 

Last Monday, I was taking a break, for several reasons. Life can get too much you know. I realized I was getting nowhere despite all the running and all the 9 o'clock chaos undertook daily. So I felt like showering in the evening for a few days, instead in the morning. I felt like being myopic all over again and took those days off. 

So, last Monday, I was there when the old man rang the bell. I was. I bought those delicious balls of mudhi rolled in jaggery.   

Red Light

Today she spread on her pink bedsheet. And stared back at the room once before heading out. The TV was adjacent to the bed, you needed no remote. The window was shut. The light was about dim. And blue. The bejewelled actress in the poster she had hung up, blushed, like everyday.

Out on the street a dozen other girls like her waited. They chuckled. Made expressions with their hands. Some lifted their skirts as they teased the men that walked by, rejecting them for fleshier and prettier looking girls down the street. If that didn't work, they lifted the veils off their breasts, before ultimately slashing their prices by a hundred or two, as a last resort.

But tonite she had decided, she wouldn't let anyone bargain with her. She needed the money. She would coil her hands around any man's neck, with all the love and all the desertion. And have what she is worth. No negotiation. She prayed that there be no raid that night. And went in one final time to check whether the mosquito coil had worked or what.


You lose hope, not overnight. Not over the night. That's too sudden. In the period of a night, you cry out. And wake up swollen. Eyes burning like fire. Skin glistening sorrow. But you don't lose hope. Hope sheds itself over days. Months. At times, years. You slowly let go. Consciously, breathing, let go, like noone's watching. But you are. You believe, that way it will affect you less. Pity you and forgive. Well, does it?

Similar to the process of unloving. Unloving, keep note, is not the same as falling out of love. It's an active verb. Falling out of love is more passive an event. more real, commonplace, easier. Unloving too, doesn't happen overnight. Slow squeezing of the heart, is supposed to take time. There is no anesthesia for this one. Quite the anti-process of amnesia happens here. Instead of forgetting, one remembers. Tiny details. So much that entire events feel little before the little nothings. Unloving takes its own sour time, and mostly with no certainty of results. 

What tempts me the most is that, is there freedom beyond these? Untethered freedom, as you would put it. I don't know. And ironically, I wouldn't want to. Either. 

Losing all hope was freedom.
- Narrator. Fight Club

Force Majeure

Nobody truly knows Anjum. Nobody cares. Nobody.

Anjum is a stout,  almost cuboidal, a person. Her braid finishes above her waist. Thinning towards the end, like a snake's tail and vanishing. She has a shiny black olive color of skin. Her lips are darker. Even, may be, probably. Nobody ever notices.

Anjum is a nurse. Has been for the last years. And years. Living with her parents in their reasonably respectable house.  A few years ago, word went around that her brother killed himself. There could have been a girl involved. Nobody knows a thing. They guess. Merely. Since then, right from the moment of the blood splattered sheets in the ambulance, from the moment of definite truth and numbing vagary of slit wrists, Anjum has taken the onus. Of seeing things through.

She meets death on a daily basis. Wrinkling by the month. Age seems to defy her. She must be what, forty now? Her parents though, don't seem to age. Thanks to hair color. And other things. Everybody considers Anjum to be a part of the walls or like a door. Like something that's never going to change, depreciate, or grow fuller. Sometimes they do greet her in the corridor. The same exact smile of years. 

I wonder. I vaguely do. Does she have thoughts? Does she wait for something that's going to alter everything about her life? 



I feel certain I am going mad again. I feel we can’t go through another of those terrible times. And I shan’t recover this time. I begin to hear voices, and I can’t concentrate. So I am doing what seems the best thing to do. You have given me the greatest possible happiness. You have been in every way all that anyone could be. I don’t think two people could have been happier till this terrible disease came. I can’t fight any longer. I know that I am spoiling your life, that without me you could work. And you will I know. You see I can’t even write this properly. I can’t read. What I want to say is I owe all the happiness of my life to you. You have been entirely patient with me and incredibly good. I want to say that – everybody knows it. If anybody could have saved me it would have been you. Everything has gone from me but the certainty of your goodness. I can’t go on spoiling your life any longer.

I don’t think two people could have been happier than we have been.


Suddenly, I am seventeen again. There is a flickering candle by my window. The thin breeze shakes the flame a bit. Its dancing in the unforeseen darkness. I have a scrap of paper in my hands, crushed, in my fist. Minutes ago, I was writing a name on it. Some guy I was infatuated to at school. I unfold the crush and bare an edge of the sheet to the flame. I watch it catch fire slowly, I see the name burn.

Then I am thirteen, in between. My regular history teacher is on maternity leave. Her replacement's eyes shine when he teaches. He doesn't use the black board much. Just speaks, endlessly. I remember feeling bright eyed and bushy tailed. Pretty squirelly. History could be fun. I wanted the regular teacher to quit, I wish this one continued. 

I am twenty-two. Living in a big city. He brings me a coffee. I smile. We are so young. There are no promises. I tousle his hair. He likes it. These tricks seem to work. Everything feels like a fun experiment. My fingertips are new to touch. I feel the wind in my hair. And outstretch. On the way back that day, I trip and sprain my ankle.

In the end, I am twenty seven again. The time for promises has come and gone. My heart has been erased. Know what I mean. I am driven around. A lot. I run a lot, panting to find peace. I find it momentarily. Then let go, for chaos. I wonder if  anything has any meaning at all. I sob at weddings. Dabbing my fork into cheesecake after another. He asks me look up straight. Ahead. 

Celine: I was having this awful nightmare that I was 32. And then I woke up and I was 23. So relieved. And then I woke up for real, and I was 32.


Memory can free you sometimes. It's a tricky monster.

Here you are trying rigorously to walk out of a long gone love. Yearning for mighty consolation, anything. Anything at all. That could explain. In a quiet couple words, the rationale within the heart ache. Because you remember all the good stuff that love had gotten you.

Sometimes bad memory outlives good memory. But this time, good memory had erroneously outlived the bad one. As luck would have it. The heart cribs. And shrinks. Puts up ugly questions.

Then, one night, you are falling asleep. Exactly half way between being awake beginning to dream, your mind twitches, it unearths a painfull memory. Something you had subconsciously hidden, erased. And it's like God is peeking at you. Reason finds its rightful place. You feel lucky. Safe. Even, probably happy. Memory is one tricky monster.