Toothbrush


For one, it wasn't even my regular toothbrush
I had it at home, when I lived two hops away
And lest it get mixed up with the rest of their toothbrushes
I hid it in the cabinet in the living room
On the last shelf but one,
Alongside the teddy bears that my girlfriends
Had gifted me in high school
With our names scribbled on their bellies, you know

Every weekend, or so, I went home
I didn't have to carry my toothbrush with me
Tremendous, gasping liberty that
I could go home anytime I wanted
Didn't feel like working, go home
Didn't feel like eating what I cooked, go home
Felt  like sliding into weird combinations of pajamas
Which  I had abandoned long back, but mama kept
Go home

That toothbrush was my thing, really
Like my time capsule
You know, how movie characters hide things
Quietly in their childhood homes
And go back decades later to retrieve the toys
They had stashed above the fireplace, behind a brick
Or something, like that
That toothbrush, held time still for me
Whenever I wanted to unwind time, freeze space
It was there for me,

But then they moved
Pushed everything in cartons, clothes piled in suitcases
And crockery wrapped in old newspaper,
They hired a shitty mover, and moved
And I wasn't even there then
Nobody remembered my toothbrush, I guess
It must have been heaped with the mounds of other junk
That we had collected over decades,
But didn't have any use for, no more
College books, ties we wore in school,
Our Saturday white sneakers, purple bowls we slurped noodles out of
None of it was to be hoarded anymore
So much for low inventory

A lot of things broke while moving
Lives were shattered even
It was like utter metamorphosis
The next time I went home,
Toothbrush  aside, I no recognize nobody
Their faces had changed
Times had eroded them, hoarse
Their voices had gotten coarser
Stories had become more fumbled
I looked in the trash and fidgeted for our old life

Found nothing, nothing at all.

Low Light

Sometimes I wonder if I can see in darkness. I don't trust the dark enough. But once the lights are off, I see almost everything. How eyes adapt. Even the streaks of mellow street lights filtering thought tight maroon curtains are enough. The notification light of the cell phone is enough. Multiple cell phones, iPads and such. 

I had a knack for total darkness back in the day. I celebrated my tweety-fifth, sitting alone on the bathroom floor and smoking, in the dark. My roommate knocked on the door when she had to pee, badly. I don't remember her name. All I remember is that she had straight hair, like ironed hair. She would iron her hair every morning before we left for work and I would steal glances at her, in between my several morning pretend chores. 

Morning chores. Evening chores. Now, night chores. I don't need the strength to go on from day to day, week to week, hour to hour because I busy myself with such chores. Water the plants, assemble breakfast, pack a lunch, dry out the clothes, don't forget this, don't forget that and such. One after the other, jam packed schedule. My routine is my one bloody saviour. Never having a moment to sit in the blank, pitch black darkness to merely think is probably my secret. Otherwise I wouldn't get a reason to get out of bed. In a way, this is the best thing ever. In other ways, it's the worst possible damage I could cause to my soul. 

When I am in a routine, I don't let the little sorrows of life catch me. And when life crumbles like a pack of cards, instantaneously catching me unawares, it's probably the numerous alarms I set to wake up, to go back to sleep, to take pills, to pay bills, to get to work because I need money to pay said bills, that eventually get me back on track in my no thinking life. 

Earlier I loved the darkness so much, it brought me ecstasy. Somewhere in the middle I weaned myself off it, you know, how we do that. But now, again, I am using darkness to catch a break from this mindfucking to do list that I have turned my life into. Because I want to probably grow that courage to go on from today to tomorrow, inside me, for real, and not just fake it around.

Hallelujah 

Matter

You know how Amazon does what Amazon feels like. So they delivered a little foldable table to me in a cardboard box more than twice its size. Initially I thought that I would throw the box away. Then a couple days after I thought why not make a shoe stand out of it, like one of my little anti depressant craft projects. I even bought tape. The storekeeper smiled at me. Not your usual storekeeper kind of smile, I wouldn't bother. But his over warmth made me suspicious and shaky. Like literally I kept the cash on the counter and ran. Should have also ordered the tape from Amazon. But anyway, that shoe stand thing never happened. So I thought I would help my sterile pegions. There is a couple of pegions that has been trying to have chicks for like a year now. They gather hay and leaves in my balcony, build a nest, lay eggs and care for them everyday. But those eggs never hatch. Like I watch those eggs, check on them every other week. But they don't show any signs of life. I even googled pegion gestation. But still no. And one day my maid would lose her mind and sweep the whole balcony away. Now I am thinking if I just kept that box in the balcony instead of making a shoe stand out of it, may be the sterile, infertile, subfertile couple of pegions would find a more hospitable nest. And I would ask my maid to just not interfere. In their business. Everybody needs warmth, it's November. Today I gave away two of my old sweaters to her. One pink, which I had bought about ten years ago as a Valentine's Day gift to self. Now it's too small for me. Also another fairy white one. That one would fit me even now. But somehow I don't like it, never wore it. A friend of mine, a rich one, had bought it for herself and hadn't liked it either and she had given it away to me. I didn't like it much. But given my rudimentary sense of fashion, I thought I would keep it. That sweater moved with me wherever I moved, and that's like half a dozen places, I never touched it once. And today I gave it away. Got rid of it. My maid didn't like it either. I had to tempt her with the pink one and said she would have to keep them both. May be she won't keep it either. Nobody would ever love that sweater. It's going to be discarded unused after an extremely stretched shelf life, I wonder what that sweater thinks. 

A Jibe at the CalorieCounter

Most of my life revolves around food. Food is not the centre of it. But it's a big part of the underlying. It's a motivator to get through the hours. No I am not one of those thin people who make memes about googling their next meal. I am actually fat. Remember, the fat gay man in Sopranos who was beaten the crap out of, to death. Vito Spatafore. Him, I sometimes remember. His food issues. He fucked a chef at a local restaurant. I relate to him. And think a bit much about food. I am fat shamed, yes. I am unsuitable, hell yeah. Always have been. I have been rejected on account of being a fatso. And have rejected some even fatter people. There is bias everywhere. There is so much fucking bias everywhere, you cannot live with yourself. I like to watch movies about fat people and their food distractions and how their lives fall in order. Long ago, after tremendous self coaching I made my peace with it. Accepted myself as I am built. But it keeps returning, those slight jibes. They push you into the abyss. I stress eat. I follow several food handles on Instagram. I follow people on Twitter who fake tweet about body positivity. Who knows who thinks what and says what. I don't know how to starve, I mean I did know. Not anymore. In the beginning I used to assume it's my mother. But no, it's me. I am responsible for myself. Food is an endearing distraction for me. And even if I am not hungry, I gotta eat, I am a compulsive one. Torn between food websites that post ten different pictures of cheese and spaghetti pasta by the hour and aneroxic women who eat nothing but thin air, I can't help myself. And probably don't want to. Is this self love.

Yes, it is. 

But, who'll take care of the Baby

Your shirt always creased 
In that mild way
That only with someone
With eyes for you
Could only see

I remember, those road side stalls
Where we stood and slurped
Cold-drink-ice-cream-float
With greasy egg chicken noodles
You, applauded me

We walked into the 5 am forest
A flower stuck in my hair
Your sweet-man-gait
Broad chinned smile
When my ovaries leaped

Today, I compare
Myself with a dozen others
And look for scraps of 
Happiness
You're a rich badass, though

I don't wait for you to salvage me
Man, you stuck in my memories
In numerous parallel pasts
That didn't even happen, ouch
I write

I write to create that past
Alternate threadbare truths, 
You know.
Even-though no one reads
Relentless, I never cease
At constructing what could've been 

Sunroof

Our Saturday home has a Sunroof. Rented for a couple thousand bucks. Couple thousand. Swiped off an unsuspecting credit card, to pop up as a surprise in the bill, a month later, like an unwanted child and what not. 

Downstairs there is a Champaca tree. Magnolia Champaca. The one with seductive yellow bud like flowers and honey like smell. We have a swing tied onto one of its branches. With nylon rope of fluorescent green and one discarded wooden table top as a seat. Sometimes I sit in the sun and swing. 

When I am inside, I use the Sunroof. It's right above the empty hall, by the stairway. Leaning on the railing of the spiral stairway, I can see the sun. Clouds. Sometimes the moon. Sometimes the birds. And when it lashes, I can see the rain. Falling vertically, forcefully, under gravity and striking the glass top of our Sunroof. 

In Autumn mornings, when the Champaca flowers I walk down the stairway, pick up fallen flowers from the dust and clutch them onto my hair. Back in the house, a thick beam of sunlight falling through the Sunroof lightens the hall. I stretch myself under the beam of light and bathe for a while. On afternoons, I pull a chair or just sit on the floor and watch the night envelope the sky.

A Sunroof is an amazing thing to have when it intensifies one's propensity for life. Just for a couple thousand, off an unsuspecting credit card.  

Covalent Bond

That afternoon, he picked me up from chemistry tuition. That day we were going to learn about the covalent bond. How ironic.

I made an excuse. Something very pretty silly. Meeting him was a consequence of a chain of careful excuses. Some at home. Some to friends. Lies made me anxious. Back then, I didn't even know how to contain anxiety. Meeting him had become synonymous to this anxiety. Love, like carbon, does rarely come in its purest form. Love often manifests itself in one form or another. Going down, this anxiety would probably be synonymous with love. And one would have to quietly and patiently unfurl this anxiety, one petal after another, like flowering a rose bud. And at the center of it, find love, untouched, unhinged.

For me, it was always the little things. His face was always neutral of any expression. It wasn't a poker face, never a poker face. Yet, devoid of joy or sorrow. He was always in his skin, contained. But when something genuinely funny happened, his taught face would break into a smile. A slight half smile, if I may. And then, that would lead to a laugh. He didn't laugh that way at jokes. At jokes, he guffawed. That guffaw was devoid of emotion too. But that slight half smile, that one's truly one of my favorite things of him. Most cherished.

The afternoon that reluctantly replaced the class of chemistry was misty. His bike made an usual sound. Probably, it always did. But this was the first time I heard it, being away from the traffic, and all. We rode into what appeared to be the country. I diligently held on to his shoulders. He did cajole me to hold on to more, but that didn't augur much in his favor. Holding on was not my preferred act then. I never assumed we were for the long run.

I was astonishingly young to take it by the day, but I did. We stopped for some tender coconut. After I drank all the water, I sucked in lots of air through my straw, just to ensure I hadn't wasted a drop. And that had led to that sheepish half smile of his. The hawker scraped out the soft coconut cream for him, mine had none. He teased me with it, before giving all of his to me.  He was a serious guy, and that probably made him engaging in trivial acts like these very adorable. Yes, he was adorable, whenever he gave in.

It was rather confusing, why we would go out. It didn't seem to fit. All the zigs and zags were out of place. He wasn't my quintessential type. And I wasn't anyone's type. But once we were together, these rationales seemed to matter much less.

Later, I tried very hard to take it by the day. But somewhere down the line, I forgot how to anymore. And got extremely involved. Like head over heels over head. He was quite brilliant. He would make up for the bunked classes eventually, I told myself. And help me too, probably. I swayed and twirled.

Years later, I realize, how much time erodes us. His half smile has stayed. But he has lost some hair though. And I, I have recently got my first few rounds of dark circles. I tell myself they're faint enough and it's gonna be quite alright.