Phase

An effective way to get past a phase, any phase, is to let it run its course. Just bear it for a certain amount of time, instead of constantly fighting it. And the phase, will begin to feel that you are soft, mouldable, yet somewhat indestructible and it will leave you alone. So it's up to you to now decide what is a respectable amount of time you must spend bearing the said phase. Is it a week, or a month? Sometimes a phase goes on for years, to be honest. It becomes so inbuilt in your life that you cannot separate, like, draw a distinct line, which characteristics are yours, which are the phase's. In that case, perhaps, you have lost. Or the phase has. Or it's just a tie. Like in any kind of competition.

But the most wicked kind of phase is the one that keeps coming back. It never completely leaves you. First few times it catches you, you fight it. Then you bear it, then ignore it. But it keeps coming back. You simply lose out on all methods and don't know what to do anymore. It leaves you in peace for a month or two and then down a week or so you realise you got it again. It's merciless. It wrings you of all your potency. It's basically a slow but persistent process of self decay.

For instance, you remember how I baked silly cakes on every Sunday afternoon for over a year and a half. No matter how far from decent the cakes were, or how many containers I broke, or how I had no eggs left for Monday ever. Nothing could get me rid of it.

Then, do you remember smoking. Nicotine has been my closest accomplice. In many many of the acts I have participated in, it has stood by me. When everything else stood me up, I had it. So that's a phase, that keeps coming back. It keeps away the blues with its greys. It does a good job of giving me the short lived illusion that I am as calm as I could humanly be.

Then there were times when I would embroider, till my eyes hurt. I would learn new stitches and make them. And screw up old dresses with new thread. Other times, I would do origami and play around with glitter. Paper flowers with gold borders. Also I invested in real plants, like real alive plants. They were like my pets, my friends, and when they flowered, I felt like I had children. And when they died, my world came crashing down.

Then, again, do you remember lulls. I mean, I keep having these lull phases. They are like a limbo. Nothing is practically still, for the sake of all that is holy. Everything is moving and fast. I am chasing cabs, and climbing stairs and ordering groceries, doing my daily walks, talking on the phone, behaving all normal, drinking two cups of coffee at work, daily. There is this facade of normalcy. But inside, I am extremely quiet. As in there is a vacuum inside my entire body. And a mellow realisation that almost everything of value has been lost. And no amount of love, or time, or rest could even begin to help me fill myself back up. And in phases of these lulls. I would lose my mind for brief instances and scream and cry. Like really loudly, biting into pillows and stuff. So when I'm doing this, am I running the phase out, or am I fighting it with all I have got? I couldn't tell you. 

Leaving

“You have gone insane, haven’t you?” She asked me from the between the curls of hair that fell on her face. 

Her irises appeared darker than before, literally like bottomless twin pools. That I could drown in and not surface from. I had doubts if I would even try to hold on to the hands of a rescuer whilst I drowned in her eyes or any other pool in general. I had begun feeling like an ascetic from the past few days.

She reiterated the question, had I gone crazy. Her words felt like wisps of air escaping her brown lips, which were otherwise tightly pursed, awaiting an affirmative answer from me. I had begun wearing sunglasses in the house to keep out the excessive day light. She pulled them out from my face and I shut my eyes into darkness.

When I opened them again, in the clear afternoon light she appeared feral. Exasperated with my muteness she stood up and began pacing up and down the room. She hadn't evolved much in the last six or seven months that I hadn't seen her. I had imagined she would be unrecognizable. But why would she even alter at all?

I told her. “You haven’t changed much. You haven’t changed at all.”

She approached my chair and placed her left palm on my right knee and sighed deeply.

“You have to move on”

“I have. I mean clearly I have”

“You have gone insane, is what you have done”

“You make it seem like I had a choice”

“Oh don’t be silly. We had talked about this. So many times, over and over again”

“Well clearly, now that you've seen the aftermath, you must conclude, I am not the one for the talking”, I said hoping she would calm down with my ridiculous retorts.

“Honestly, I don’t have time for this. I have to get back, I can’t be gone for such long. You take care and, and just get your shit together”

“Yeah sure, get my shit together I will” This was more disgusting than expected. 

“You should go.” I paused. “Because if you stayed any longer, you never know, what I might do.”

That didn't slow her gait but she turned and looked at me. “What does that even mean?”

“I’m kidding. I’m joking. You of all people should know that”

“Can we just talk for five minutes, before I leave?”

She came closer and sat on the floor, with her legs crossed, instantly persuading me to climb down from my chair.

On the floor, she held my hand in hers and began speaking in slow wisps again.

“This is the last time you’re seeing me. I am not coming back. Never again. I want you to know this.”

I stayed mum, feeling rough in my throat, having nothing to say.

She spoke again. “I want you to tell me that you know you are not going to see me again”

“You sound like you are the one that needs some convincing”

“Shut up. Do you want my husband to explain it to you, how all this works?”

The mention of him crashed me back into reality. For a stretch of the hour I had imagined she was here for my sake and my sake only.

“Say it!”

“I know, I know you’re not coming back”

“I strongly urge you get a life. Listen to me, see someone else”

“Why don’t you fix me up with one of your single friends?”

“I can’t stay involved. But there are lots of women. I am told there are some dating apps and some real nice young things. You've always been lecherous, you would know everything”

“Serious accusation alert!”

“C’mon we know each other. We don’t have to wear facades.”

I broke her off in the middle. “If we know each other, why the fuck did you even leave me? Why did you abandon me? Why did you break my heart so irreversibly?”

Before I realized, I was screaming at her. She put her hand on my mouth to quieten me I guess but nothing worked.

And the next minute she was gone.

She had vanished so neatly, it was almost as if she had never been here. That’s exactly how people go. People who have made up their minds to go, they just leave so immaculately, the one left behind often is seen trying to grab on to the air that rushed in to fill the vacuum of sudden absence.

Flight

We hadn't ever flown together. But this flight, we were taking together. So together. But we hadn't planned it much. He was an adhoc kind of man. He texted to check if I had reached the airport. I hadn't. I wasn't running late at all, in fact I was ahead of time. And he was further ahead of me. When I was in the washroom peeing, he called, where had I been? Clearly he was bored and wanted some company, even if it was mine. I calmly went about things and found him in the exact place he'd told me he'd be at. So far we were doing ok.

He looked different. Not very different. But not exactly the same either. There were strips of difference. His face had a rugged 9 am charm. He looked like a man who was about to tell me a story. Usually, he would appear extremely taciturn, always carefully choosing his words. But not this morning. He asked me if I wanted to eat. Nope, I was gonna have a brunch in the air.

Quietly, we began the endless walk in the airport, through longish isles, taking escalators down and up and then vice versa. Looking into stores, clothes and toys and other travel memorabilia that people liked to pick up at twice the price. But we just looked at and passed them non chalantly, while making mildly awkward yet conscious small talk. I kept smiling hoping that would break some of the  ice, and he responded too, not smiling as much, but a little bit here and there.

When we reached the departure gate, we had over an hour to kill, oh an hour. Why did I even have to wake up that early, I was going to have to simply strangle this extra hour to death and drink its blood. There were hardly any empty chairs. We found an empty half row in the distance. He sat down and I didn't sit on the adjacent chair, thinking that would be too close. I placed my bag in the chair in the middle and he followed suit. This proximity was bearable.

I was afraid the silence was gonna get haunting. I kept looking away as if waiting for my entourage to join me, but no one was coming. We both knew. This time, he invented chit chat topics. We got up at adequate intervals to drink water and pee. We guarded each other's stuff like obliging copassengers. Talked quite much before we boarded.

In the flight, the stewardess wore zing nail paint and her fingers looked delicious. I was gonna have to spend the two odd hours staring at them, I composed myself. He was seated next to me, but on the other side of the aisle. I noticed his shirt had tiny flowers, flowers really. I was wearing black, I cannot recall why. After we took off, we talked in signs across the aisle and sometimes bent over to hear the other person. It felt close and comforting. In an aircraft of a hundred people, a stranger who was less strange than the other ninety nine, yes it did feel sweet.

He has always been sweet, his sweetness can be utterly disarming so I had to tread on thin ice around him. I did not want to fall for him. I knew I wasn't capable of falling anymore, but I was not ready to tempt fate yet. I bought noodles. He ate a pack of nuts, but barely. He had a coffee, I had a Diet Coke.  Later, when we were above the sea, and flew over ships that appeared and disappeared between thick nimbus clouds I expected some turbulence.

Even when everything is going normal or sub normal, I have this slightly irresistible temptation to jump off. But the flight was smooth. When we landed, he waited for me by the conveyor belt since my bag, as usual, came out the last, the very ultimate fucking last, I kid you not.

Singularity

Sitting alone in the balcony
Turning thirty five in four years
Fifty, in exactly nineteen
A few years forth, dying, unheard of

Days go by
Nothing changes
Incessant callous waiting fill hours
Erode weeks and fortnights

Suddenly it's two thousand and eighteen
Past July
Seems like only yesterday 
Was new year's, when I sat in the balcony too

No sight of babies
Or the money
Or the glory
Or the awry badass writer of fiction 

I've nothing but this 
Singularity
It's not that I don't talk to folks
But slowly I've burnt the bridges

Bridges that connect me to the outside
Nobody comes in
And I never get out
In spools of dreamy thread, entangled I lay, singular 

Too spoilt to move
Too rigid to break out
Waiting to merely age like your average human
And die out, unseen of 

Deranged

My home is in major disarray. It smells. Of weird smells and squished bananas and leftover chocolate and sweat, perhaps. I can't say what more precisely. It almost has some captured odours of regret that it has mixed with real smells. Regrets that I didn't probe enough, that I didn't try enough, that I got carried away. What it doesn't recall is that there was no space to maneuver. Since the beginning, since the time I was mere stardust, I have never truely felt empowered. It's nobody's fault. Just that I haven't felt real power, over anything or anyone else. I have felt also too ashamed to seek out support. Right since the beginning I have been too weak and hapless. And since I am shy, I have never liked company per se, and people, I have been shrouded in the darkness with myself. I have shrunk and shrunk and shrunk, therefore into non existence. It's a quagmire I am trapped in. I have trapped myself. Now it has gone out of my hands. I truly cannot control how I feel, how I think, how I process thoughts and store memories. I am powerless even over myself, so weak I have become, I feel deranged. There is no love. There is not much hope. Just a bottomless hole. And I am shooting into it, into it deeper and hoping to see something, someone to hold on to, but I don't, I cannot. I sit in my smelly house in afternoons through long nights, waiting for sleep that doesn't even show up. And I don't know how to get out of here. 

Caring for Plants

Wherever I go, a tree accompanies. Imagine me, walking with a tree. It's not like that per se. But wherever I have been, a tree has been beside me. In my childhood bedroom, near the window rose a coastal coconut. I saw entire monsoons through it. Near my current bedroom, my neighbors who I have never encountered, have a coconut grow right through their house. It's not a courtyard, but almost. Tonite I see the moon through it. When I was a toddler, at my grandmother's, they had a hibiscus in the courtyard. It shot up to the roof where it mixed with the tendrils of the rangoon creeper. Red velvet hibiscus flowered amongst vines that weren't its own, but almost. Now I keep a potted jade plant at my desk, and water it not more than twice a week. I keep the plant for company, for I am a lonely lonely person. I am a very lonely person. Ironically so because alone is the way I want to be.

I have potted plants too, but they are permanently in convalescence. Never has it been that all of them are happy and fertile and flowering at the same time. Sometimes, one is broken by the wind, one is overwatered, one is yellowing in its leaves, one has forgotten to flower, one is recovering from autumn, so on and forth. They wilt and come back to life, but never at the same time. Clearly, I am not a carer. I have my own moods to handle. Sometimes I get away for weeks without a house sitter. Sometimes I just don't love them enough. But mostly, I keep losing hope. Mostly I am hopeless. That's the reason I have plants accompanying me everywhere, to keep the hope flowing. But I abandon them, they abandon me, it never goes well. It's not the mutually beneficial relationship I would want it to be. Nobody ask the plants, because they can't speak.

A sickle shaped jamun tree stood on the other shore. Of the river. Boughs of it bent on the water, like a lover. With the complicated emotions of a paramour. The boughs remained the same, except for a few leaves that fell off and the new ones that sprouted, but the river constantly changed, the water of it, changed every godamn instant. The boughs tried to remember the lover of last night in today's water and found nothing to connect then and now. Yet, they somehow ended up loving the river everyday, because they had fallen in love with her once. Back in the day. When its water had been an omniscient monsoon green and frothy, and also in spring when the water had been crystal clean and the boughs had seen their own impeccable reflection in it.

Thus, now they gotta havta love the river in summer too, when it doesn't even exist. 

Dirty Dancing

Won't you come outside with me?
I know, inside is more fun,
Clearly.
The lights are dimmed and disco
And we're dancing

Like there's no tomorrow
Sans any bodily coordination
Clearly
We're too high to dance
Too high to stand, or sit

So, I whisper
Into your eyes,
'Wanna go out in the dark, with me?'
You push back the hair behind my ears
And whisper back, 'in a minute'

Outside, it's 2 AM
No earthly hour this
And the sea's running wild
Tides are high and water's splashing
With delirious intentions

We are squeezed in between,
Land and sea
And standing still,
But no matter how hard we try
We're shaking, shivering and dancing

You keep your distance and ask
'Now we're outside'
'Whaddya wanna do'
I say, 'Nothing'
'Let's go back in, shall we'

Suddenly, I remember
For the briefest moment
When you'd bent down to whisper
Your lip had touched my ears
And then a current passes through me

Nausea

When she was a little girl of nine, her mother gave her a sliced lemon with salt every morning. She was a nauseous girl and the school bus, with its sweaty kids and shut windows and the gas fumes on the road made her want to puke. Her head rolled and her stomach turned. The lemon helped, somewhat in the forty five minute onward bus journey in the morning.

But there was nothing when she returned in the afternoon. No lemon, no salt. Nauseous and with too much saliva under her tongue, she would keep looking at the watch on her wrist and count minutes for the bus to drop her at her stop. There was no respite, but one.

There was a senior girl whose hair stood like a dense tree on her head, and she also wore thick spectacles with black frames. The school bus took somewhat of a detour to drop this senior girl home. And every day before she got down at her stop, the bus moved through a few narrow streets full of snack shops. Any street food her nine year old mind could imagine, was being sold there, undoubtedly. And more. 

Those streets saved her, those smells warded off her nausea and wafted through her nostrils into her stomach. Her mouth salivated and she waited patiently to eat whatever mother would have cooked the moment she stepped into home. She nick named it the street of spices, through which the bus traveled hardly for seven minutes or eight, but she waited and counted minutes to get there. 

Also, there was this friend who saved her some egg rolls from lunch. His mother worked with her mother and hence they were friends. They sat side by side in the library period and hence they were friends. She loved his slimy egg rolls, hence they were friends. She got him a band aid that time he scraped his knee playing kho-kho and hence they were friends. They lived nearby and their bus stops were consecutive, hence they were friends. 

Their friendship bloomed like a concomitant to the chaos of their nine year old lives. Yet she was so nauseous and she imagined, why he was not?