It's an eclectic mix of smells in the air, that of cigarette smoke and that of eggs frying early morning. As early as 6. These days, she made it a habit to be up early. It was hard first few weeks. But later on, it grew on her. She wouldn't shut her windows at night. The light flooding her studio apartment, wouldn't let her sleep any later than six. She wouldn't care to wash her face, she was that way. Walking straight into the kitchenette, she would stare at all the plausible ingredients of breakfast.

Breakfast is her most favorite meal of the day. Ever. And today was Sunday. Sunday breakfasts are the most special of them all. She walked to the door, the milkman had left her a packet stranded on the money plant bush. She emptied it into the pan and put it on the stove. In the biggest tumbler off the rack, she added four small spoons of coffee and then sugar. Beating that into a frothy paste, she poured boiling milk on to it. That in hand, she lit her first smoke of the day. And that would be her last, she would tell herself. Tell herself hard.

After coffee, she cracked open two eggs and scrambled them neat. Almost simultaneously, she remembered last night's pasta. Or that of several nights ago. She couldn't remember which. She would over turn the plate of eggs on the pasta and microwave that. Quietly, she would stand near the microwave, looking inside, as if waiting for it to explode and being on her toes already, she would run. As fast as she could. But she doesn't.

The seconds seem to stretch out longer, her patience seems to test her. She grabs the door of the microwave and pulls it open when there's still twenty more seconds to go. She holds the bowl in her hand with a towel, gasping at how hot it is but not letting go.

Hurriedly, she looks for the little jar of oregano on the rack. Oh she has almost never been this famished!

Rotten Nostalgia

He called me at about 6. Closer to 5:30 may be. We decided the place he was going to pick me up from. It wasn't going to be the usual place, so he went on a bit with the detailed directions to the spot. But I already knew. I had been longer in the city than him, after all, I was supposed to.

I walked out of office early, didn't have to sneak out because everyone had left even earlier. Outside, there were lights everywhere. It was the Visharjan night. You know, when they carry the idols of Durga in trucks for immersion, and there is a loud procession and crackers, tens of hundreds standing by the road, watching. All traffic had been deviated. Nothing was plying as normal. That's why he couldn't pick me up the usual place. I got on a bus, somehow and walked about a ten minutes to our place. I waited, it felt like a long time. I took out my phone to call him, twice. But then decided against it. I folded my hands, like they do, chose a spot near the traffic signal and stood there. There seemed to be more cars on the road that night. Every time the green light lit up, I expected him to come. But he didn't just turn up. The procession got close, the music got very loud. It wasn't winter yet, but I began to feel cold, shiver. Soon, the idols would arrive one by one. The road would be clogged and I would probably have to go home without having seen him.

Just then, I saw a car, his color, taking a u turn from the other side. Like a dozen other times, I assumed I would be wrong. But it was him. He slowed down in front of me, pushed the door open, looked out and said Hi. It must have been him. It was such long ago, I can't even remember.

Pocket fulls of sand. Wet magical sand. One stringed bracelet. With our names inscribed. And my prescribed notions for a lifetime. Nothing has turned out as it should have. Most things have just flown from one random destination to another like a lazy holidayer. Somehow leaving me wet and unwanted. Just like the sand in my pockets. Yet, you being you, keep me. Love me. Possess me. Not with the jovial possession of new love. But with the charred traits of a seasoned lover. Like quiet sunlight on fair skin, you fill me with warmth. One moment of which is worth caging and saving for looking back and unwinding upon for years later. When feelings of seclusion corner me, and make me want to run off the next adjacent roof, sometimes not too knowingly I think of you. Your chin. My lip. Our things. Paraphernalia for love. I use them to invent words. To selfishly develop feelings, I not tell you about. Because somethings should be given time to unfold. Somethings should rather be bottled forever. Till we end. I think of our tiny toes and the hard earned grace to make a living out of life. I wonder what we have. And see it vis-a-vis what we require. For contingencies. For answers. For supplying enough proofs. Like juxtapose. I wonder if our stringed bracelet of love would stand us on our tiny toes. It should. Because love should be the sole deciding factor. Of our endless haywire lives. If not it, then what. I am not saying just because I am saying. But as I have learnt. I am not that child that sees and doesn't seep into. But I have witnessed a certain emptiness in the plethora of lives around me. In their guarded drops of sweat upon heavily maintained faces. Heavily to the extent of it being an obsession of creating a pretense. A shallow facade. And that bores me to the extent of scaring me. That's exactly why I want you to look within. Unzip me, unskin me. Look at my naked raw self. And then love me like nothing else matters. It's the mind that will never leave me. So love me in there. Shamelessly. Unbridled.

Exhausted to Live

It's a dark deep tunnel. This tunnel is all that is. Look closely enough, and you shall see. Make it out. Its vague outlines, its hot painful breath. With which it shall swallow us all. Each one in its own specific way. But it does. I hope it does. Because I don't want to be the only one dealing with it. Some of us get past it. They see the world beyond, be happy, cheerful. Some others just float in the gravityless air of this tunnel. I am one of those some. I have been floating for quite a while now. Ever since I can remember I see myself floating in this deep dark tunnel. Flapping my hands, searching for the walls. My feet feeling the groundless sway and shivering in that fear. My shrieks, echoing and finding their way all the way back to me. There has been no past, no future. Only this looming present. I look down, I see flashes of light. But then that's it. 

I have come to know that, that light is an illusion. I can't make it through. Through this. I am going to let it swallow me.

Because I can't try anymore. I just can't. Cannot. Part of me, doesn't even want to. I am too tired. Exhausted for life. Exhausted to live. Whatever the consequences, be. Whatever the end, becomes. I just can't do this anymore. 


It has been so long that I've stayed up a night. Not a single night. And read a story. Or just dreamed with open eyes. So long. This is a passing phase, like every other phase that is. Not a song written, or word scribbled. This breathless chase to get things done, is slowly ruining my appetite for life. One has to get some place, be some one, buy some thing. All the time. I haven't paused. In a long long time. 

Truly, pauses scare me now. And, motion does too. 

This is a time of forced peace, But I don't know why I seem to be pushing this disequilibrium down my throat. All this urge to be moving, is not letting my limbs rest. There is a constant vibration in them. My soul, if there is a thing like that is suffocating in utter restlessness. The excess of this tension is slowly oozing through my skin and settling as wrinkles. 

And under my eyes, is getting darker. And damper. As I age, rather relentlessly every night, every day, every year. 28. 28. 28


There was, in the ruins, a temple in the corner of the village. Amongst the trees of neem, mango and pumpkin. Near a pond, full of algae and hyacinth. Decades ago, they worshipped Radha in the temple. Krsna of course, was there. But the temple was Radha's. They said they felt Radha's dance stir up the still air at night and the rustling sound of the leaves mixed with the ringing of her anklets. Only what was borne in her enormous garden was fed to Radha. Be it a banana or a pile of jackfruit, or coconuts or date palm.

With time though, the temple was forgotten, worshippers had other temples to go to. Then an old man from the city, disillusioned with life, abandoned everything and came to Radha's temple. People turned up at the temple with curiosity, just to check what the man was upto. He was dressed like a sadhu, his beard hadn't grown that long though. He spent days cleaning the garden and the temple. Years and years of cobwebs with his own hands, scrubbing mud and silt off the floor. 

Like a miracle he brought the place back to life. The kadam tree in courtyard of the temple flowered like it had gone insane. Rows and rows of marigold and jasmine made the air so fragrant, men and women forgot their chores and came to visit. Children skipped school to see what it was all about. Old women begged to be carried to the temple. At the end of a week or two, the man, who the villagers had named Radhe Baba, bathed the idol of Radha and Krsna in milk and honey and coconut water and dressed them in new clothes and jewellry. It was Radha's birthday. An elaborate swing had been tied in the kadam tree for Radha. 

Radhe Baba sang and danced like no one was watching. Devotees poured in from a dozen nearby villages, owing to the word of mouth. They brought rice and dals, brinjal,  papaya and pumpkin. The rich ones donated oil and ghee. Radhe Baba cooked for hundreds, with a little assistance from the village women. Scores were made to sit in neat lines in the courtyard, and fed on banana leaves. Radhe Baba served with his own two hands, bucket after bucket of rice and dalma, a broth made of dals and vegetables. Hundreds relished their meals with hot green chillies, the assisting women were awed as they had expected to run out of  food way back. 

Radhe Baba oversaw everything, and smiled. Radha stood beside him and smiled too. The temple became a phenomenon. Devotees fell at the Baba's feet as if he was Radha herself. TV channels had found out that he had left behind an arthritic wife, but all his sons were doctors and engineers, his only daughter settled abroad, and he had a bevy of grandchildren. Some saw him as a runaway shirker, some as a self made godman, some as god herself. 

Amidst all the chaos, one morning, Radhe Baba was nowhere to be seen. The TV channels said, he definitely hadn't gone back home. But he was nowhere to be seen. Devotees got worried and pushed open the door of the sanctum sanctorum to find Krsna standing alone and sulking. Radha was gone too.     


I feel this immense sadness when I remember that Robin Williams is dead. It wasn't that one time. It happens each and  every time the realization strikes me. I feel thoroughly diminished, my faith in life plummets a couple notches when I think that, that man had to die. Or worse, kill himself. And in what way.

Despite all our efforts to hold it together as human beings, we are so hopelessly scattered. So hopeless and so scattered.

After this, all this, the memory of James Gandolfini lingers in my mind and that he too is dead. When I started falling for Tony Soprano, I couldn't believe myself. As if the audacity of that man, adulterous gangster wasn't outrageous enough, I succumbed to his horse life laughter and gigantic appetite. I was crazy about him. Half way into watching The Sopranos, I became aware that he was no more.

Before that, I had seen him in a movie, without knowing who he truly was. I sometimes think of the silent turpitude of the cardiac arrest that finally took him. And the hot Italian summer that my man couldn't stand. I miss him. I do.