The Butcher's Daughter

If nothing else, there is the butcher's daughter. She changes into her work clothes in the bushes. In the bushes by the hyacinth ridden drain canal with floating purple flowers. Work clothes are a must in her profession. Or else where else would the blood spill. Blood of the goat that's throttled. By her father. I suppose he is the father, but he doesn't look the other way when she is changing. Behind the bushes. In the early morning sun. Just before they set up shop. Beneath the tarpaulin strung between mildly inclined poles of bamboo. The butcher girl has sharp piercing eyes. As if she can see everything you are trying to hide. Her hair is dirty. About those eyes, I can't be right. It's a deception. Nobody can see what is going on inside us. We camouflage too easy. Our lives come too cheap.

The butcher girl makes a diligent assistant. She packs meat in plump black polythene bags, wards off  stray dogs and returns the exact change, without an expression on her face. Behind their shop an unseen bird hides beneath the bulbous leaves of the exuberant hyacinth. It walks on water. Impossible, but yes it does. As if it was weightless. No agony of past, no fear of future. One weightess bird. At first sight, the bird looks like a myna. But then, the prints on it are not the same. God must have painted that one, when mildly high. Oh sure. There must have been a love poem at the back of his mind. And he must have been living through the shit of heartbreak when he imagined those eyes on the butcher girl. 
I believe that basically you write for two people; yourself to try to make it absolutely perfect; or if not that then wonderful; Then you write for who you love whether she can read or write or not and whether she is alive or dead. I think Scott in his strange mixed-up Irish catholic monogamy wrote for Zelda and when he lost all hope in her and she destroyed his confidence in himself he was through. 

Ernest Hemigway


Tesseract

Of late, I have been afraid. And afraid is not good. Fear is all consuming. Crippling, sometimes. It takes away a lot from us. I've been trying to fight it. But failing. I guess. It's been years. Yes, years since I had begun looking. Looking for my feet. Still haven't found 'em. My feet. It's been so long, I can't remember.

All the soups I have sipped, men I've ignored, women I've discarded, clothes I have grown out of, books I have read and taken credit for and forgotten, the attachment I have faked, the time I've lost. Ages. Months, years. And I am still looking for my feet. Oh, it's boring. Almost illegal to be this banal. I haven't heard myself. Because, I am mostly dumb.  I used to speak when provoked. But lately, I don't speak at all, I don't know if I have any voice at all. 

Mostly because I have come to believe that I am nothing. I don't mean it in a demeaning or pitiful way. I just claim knowledge of the minisculity of my existence. With humility and arrogance. Mostly I am sick of the way life turns out, eventually unfolds. And I am afraid of the gigantic amount of energy it takes to change its course. Yeah, I am afraid I don't have that kind of energy.  Not right now. And afraid is not good. Fear is all consuming. Crippling, at times. It's taking away my everything. 

Then again, I like to imagine myself in a tesseract. And in a five dimensional space-time. There is a parallel universe may be, in which life unfolds exactly the way it's supposed to. From in there, I am staring at myself through this tesseract, and passing me some sort of answer. About how to find my fucking feet. You know. Yeah, there's that. 

Nostomania

It was a quiet October day. Afternoon. Jhili gathered her clothes from the top racks of the almirah into an air bag that she had bought on her way back from college. The spare pair of good sandals was wrapped up in newspaper and put in a polythene bag. There still remained another pair in the shoe stand which she wore no more. But she would rather leave it behind. Jhili wondered what would happen to anything she left behind. Nobody would have any fond memory of her anyway. She took some photo albums, some trinkets, a few books and pushed everything into that airbag. She didn't want to arouse the suspicion of the neighbors by carrying anymore luggage than one bag. She held her breath, but sweat oozed from her temples anyway. Her fingers and toes, shivered probably. In that hurry, she couldn't be sure. She had to walk down to the defunct marketplace where he would pick her up. Jhili always felt that her name had lost a second word. She could have have been Jhilmil, something that always shines. But she wasn't.

This was one tough call. Choosing to quit college in the prefinal year. Choosing to get married to a man who her father would never approve of. Choosing to leave all the gold jewelry her mother had had gotten made for her. They had wrecked her mind. Her soul had wailed for nights. She had suffered claustrophobic dreams and woken up screaming.

Somehow, among all this, longing for love felt like a solution. Like a closure to a rusty phase of life. Like the beginning of something she had long awaited, without knowing what it was that she was waiting for. It felt like a gamble, at times. But when all your hopes are bottled in one pot, you would rather uncork it. So she did.

Jhili stepped down the stairs. Suddenly her heels felt louder than ever in the time of sleepy siesta. She left the keys with the security guard downstairs, and left. Forever. Left no letter and walked to the defunct marketplace, where he would be waiting.

Nostomania: an irresistible temptation to return home

Iti (Part-1)

Iti had a squint from the beginning. In her left eye. When she was a baby, you could barely make out. But after her brothers were born, and after she began wearing frocks and passed on her toddler clothes to either of them, the squint showed up. Wide and proper.  They never went to a doctor to get it corrected. Nobody even knew if there was anything that was correctable. And some even considered it a good sign of prosperity and would rather let it be. 

So she grew into it. The other children at school referred to her as the girl with the squint. That was for the few days she had gone to this one. But before her name had completely gone around, she was pulled out. 

There was that black magician sorcerer. Who stifled the souls of little children it was said. Many fell into Iti’s example and evaded school with that same excuse. Mothers found a decent alibi to keep the daughters around, gather some more help in carrying the load of pots and pans to the steps of the  village pond where they were washed clean with ash each morning, each afternoon. Some boys were taken fishing in the river, some tended to vegetable gardens. 

Iti and her brothers were pleaded to stay behind their land lord’s compound walls. The only one in many villages around to be made of granite and mortar, well guarded with shards of glass fixed into the cement on top when it was raw. Nobody slid out of the iron gates, only held the rust on the rails and stared out. 

The black magician was learning, they said. Picking up sundry traits. Practicing during the nights, chanting hymns. Walking about alone, to check if the hymns read out during the night had bore fruit during the day. He was the sweet vendor’s son. Instead of inheriting his family business of milking cows and rolling balls of cheese in earthy hands, he broke off from them in an ugly fight over splitting of wealth among brothers. And swore that he would reduce all of them to dust. Somehow, anyhow. 

At cross roads, where four streets met, a few days ago they had found an earthen pot filled with vermillion, shreds of grass and what not. Scraped upon it was a skeletal face of man. As an aftermath of that, all the Bael trees, absolute dozens of those dried to death within a week. There was absolutely no moisture left in their trunks as if someone had sucked each drop of life from their veins and vein-lets, those who saw whispered. This was only a precursor before he started jinxing men and women and killing them. But prior to the grown man and woman, the sweet vendor’s errant son would definitely try his deft hands on children. 

Children with their gullible souls, fragile resistance to desires and new born consciousness, were expected to walk into his hands. So the children were forbidden from school, lest they were wanted to die like the bael trees. To shock Iti and her little brothers the bael tree from which their landlady plucked from amongst thorns the hard crust fruit and for her offering of one hundred and eight leaves had died like its blood brothers around. Its leaves turned black and the fruits yellowed in no time. The tree had died like a person would fall sick from a sudden attack of hemorrhage and perish overnight. On the night of the no moon.

Canvas

You remember that inward facing pizza place? That bulky middle aged lady who baked in a closed room, that circular cafe of hers. Cirle like. Vague smoky, at cross roads, near the bus stop. Most of the times I got down, I sat down there, looking at the walls.

Do you remember the onset of winter? How only a faint sun showed up and how the boughs of trees seemed to sink lower, shrouding me in a canopy when I walked. Turning wherever the road turned, walking back wherever the road ended.

Also that faint whistling noise that the night made, when I wouldn't find sleep. For hours, waiting until dawn. Forging poems and prose with the clay of unrequited love.

When I walked about, one shop to another. Walking in strange towns. Picking vases, tasting pickle, looking at the faces of men and women, totally lost in myself. I might as well be dead to the world.

Left a chance, I would cut out from the canvas of those moments from the past in the shape of a man, and put you in there. And I would never be alone again, ever in my life.

Blanc

Do you remember? That Saturday morning. I was busy making noodles in the kitchen. You were watching the match. You were nostalgic, it was your favorite guy's farewell match. So much so that I was checking on you every five minutes. Sitting on the arm of your chair, as the vegetables waited back on the kitchen slab. I do, remember I do. Even though, I am not a woman of memories.

Sometimes, I feel that as an act of defiance, my brain doesn't save up on memories. But then again, that's a childish excuse. May be I am just plain lazy. Lazy to remember anything. Or, I have begun to truly let go. Life is beautiful, take it as it comes. And stuff like that. But mostly, I am afraid, I believe. That these memories would come back to torment me someday. And then, I wouldn't know what to do.

So I am losing track of the things that are happening. Sundays that pass, weeks that vanish. Months, unaccounted for. Not an inch of forward movement, lifewise. Layers after layers of facial scrub applied and removed, nail paint and hair packs. Shoes, unbuckled. Dresses held together with safety pins, earrings bought and abandoned. Books read in half sleep, as good as unread, untouched. Things unsaid, memories unkept.

Sometimes, I feel that I am aging decades in months. That's impossible, I know. But I do feel that way. And I cannot judge if it's a good or a bad thing.

Is it okay to feel nothing? Murakami says it is. The protagonists that are a reflection of his, say so. I feel nothing. No ambition, no affection, no will to be anywhere, do anything, fulfill anything. I feel blank. Deeply ambivalent about everything. I feel inert, to be exact. Distant. Lazy, yes. Unhinged, but grounded in a way. But more than that, I feel nothing. Murakami says, thats okay.

So, it's okay.