Living, Without

She opened her medicine box twice the same morning, she had been becoming forgetful. She smiled and shut it the second time. As a kid, she had always confused senility to be a synonym of insanity. And now, she laughed at that silly childish misunderstanding. She never lost track, as such.

But despite all the forgetting, she sometimes remembered too much. Most of which had never happened. They say, you live your thoughts. The subconscious must be a tricky thing you know, to make you live in a world of make-belief. Rather, live on a past of make-belief.

For instance, the gulmohar that dusted off on both sides of the road they walked by. Some red flamboyance, covered the dull asphalt, wind carried the rest away. Some came back and stuck to her hair. He carefully plucked those and placed in her hands. She smiled. Like she smiled now. That road didn't exist, neither did the gulmohar, nor they.

For another instance, those conversations didn't exist. Things she thought he had said to her. She must have imagined them all. There weren't many witnesses sans he. And he wasn't anymore, with her. She deleted the rest (of the witnesses), in a drive of an impassioned massacre, hurrying lest she gained consciousness. Because she wanted to live in belief, rather than without.

Her ridiculous excuses should make you laugh, but the wrinkles on her decaying face would deserve your pity better. You would let her die uncontradicted. Live some more, uncontradicted.

She remembered, she met his mother once, at his ancestral place, and blushed back at him, her firm cheeks then, in faint baby pink. She had imagined the curtains at his place and the other details etcetera.  Everything, as it should have happened. As she yearned for it to happen.

But it didn't. So she lived, without. Only imagining that she lived, with.

The Soldier's Wife

You fight your own battles
I am the woman who waits home alone
Fighting a bigger battle

My emotions alter between
Sorrow and Anger

As I wait by this window
Giving myself false hope

Because you leave no trace
You take me as a given

I worry
For you, on the crests of mountains
In the cold and snow

Amidst gunshots
Smoke and death
When you forget me, for your purpose

I ain't as selfless, I
Want you all mine
Want you all mine

You don't wonder as I do
And weigh possibilities out of nothing
Alone in the dark

Aghast, all I do is wait

When you are all I have
And I still don't have you

Love may be unconditional
Wait isn't.

And everytime you return
To me
Wounded, and lost

I won't be here.

Pic Courtesy: $uch!

A Room of One's Own

Her room is the best melange of any creator's inspirations. Because in her room you see her at her worst, in her element. I have lived my life shifts, changing my room every year. And I ensure I never grow any affection for any room. However I can't help a couple of memories in the cracks of my brain, left behind, by mistake.

There was once a room I lived in. Some four years ago. It was the one in which I fell badly sick for the first time and met a ghost. Probably a ghost, can't be sure. The room was stashed away in a corner of the top floor of a rickety old building. Overlooking the basketball court, overlooking a jungle. A jungle I wanted to walk in someday, but couldn't even once in those long years. And, it was in that room that I came into being, I believe. We all have some stages in our lives when we come into being. Post that I have been pretty much the same.

That room, you wouldn't like the vision that I would now give you. Summer must have been approaching quite like the devil. And it must have been a Saturday, a stolen Saturday of no work. Washed wet clothes hung from a plastic string running from corner to corner, incessantly dripping, filling the depressions in the uneven floor. Salwar kameezes and duppattas, of tens of hues, all washed, dipped in detergent and shown under a running tap, merely to ensure the smell of sweat went away, no qualms for the dirt. Wrung for the sake of it, and hung to dry across the room, squeezing into each others' space, sometimes overlapping, sometimes sliding off the string itself. In such a room, I whiled away the last chapters of adolescence, with my generous share of heartbreak. Waiting for the clothes to dry, so that they could be folded and stacked in a shelf in the wall.

But they never were. The life of my clothes ended on that very string. They were worn right from there and thrown back after use, probably awaiting another wash. Who knew! That string must have become the delicate balance of my life. Because one day the loose nails hammered into the walls that held it, gave in after some mild encouragement from a visitor, some random intruder. And down came the string, along with my world, thrown astray on the floor. I stood there, for a moment, celebrating the sheer shock of it.

Our feet
On wet sand, digging puddles
Chasing crabs into their holes

I stepping into your footprints
Guilelessly, in abandon.
Foam of waves, receding from our toes

We stand still
Our fingers melted into one
My toe ring of silver, glistens like a star in the sea

Sky split into a brilliant dusk
Not even birds, it's just us
You & I

I write our names on the sand
You wait for them to be washed away
And then you laugh

That intoxicating, open mouthed laughter
Waits for me to join in mid-way
I feign anger and walk away

And you console me
The sea won't stand our names
Because we're not forever.

Nothing is forever.
That we're here only for now
After a day has ended, & another hasn't begun

And I am deep in a dream.

beached in tangles of flicker

To make sure none followed where you led
I used my hair to cover our tracks.
Sun set on the island of our bed
night rose
eating echoes
and we were beached there, in tangles of flicker,
candles whispering at our driftwood backs.
Your eyes above me
afraid of the promises I might keep
regretting the truth we did say
less than the lie we didn't,
I went in deep, I went in deep,
to fight the past for you.
Now we both know
sorrows are the seeds of loving.
Now we both know I will live and
I will die for this love.

~Karla Saaranen

I feel it inching closer, I feel my utopia inching closer. I do. Though I know of its weak resistance and that it wouldn't last more than a month, I want my tongue to remember utopia's taste. For solace in the days that will break into me and take my utopia away. 

Utopia is the dampening of my senses, the numbing of feeling. It is perfect isolation. Utopia is the lack of any need to communicate, to explain myself. Nothing enters, nothing leaves, and only the absolute is preserved.

And it's just great! I am almost proud of what I have done to myself.

Drawing Parallels

A book feels like a man. Force yourself enough and you may catch a glimpse of the parallels. One or two, here and there. Your lines may not be parallel enough if you haven't read too many books or haven't met too many men. No offense. Read on if you feel this will make some sense. Or if you want me to give you another reason to quit reading me.

I judge a book by the cover, by the title. A man by his face. I do, I am a hypocrite. I choose a book by its smell. The one that emanates from between unread pages, if you take your nostrils close enough. The smell aspect is the most uselessly non-functional utility of a book. I choose a man on similar useless non-functional parameters. I say I look for connection. But whenever I chance upon a connection guy, I pass him on as a friend. A connection guy is never perfect. The connection I am talking about is the core functional utility of the man, everything else is a useless non-functional utility, if you know what I mean. I choose a man based on what he is, rather than who is. The ones I have had ruthless infatuations on, I have been attracted to for the most evil of reasons.

I love all the books that I have read. I haven't read many, but it's hard to hate one that I have read. It could be because of the sheer amount of time and labor that has gone into finishing it from cover to cover. Each one has too much of my love in it to be hated. I haven't met many men either. But it's hard to hate all those that I have passed by. Even underneath my shallow sheath of hatred, there is a secret love. I never truly get over a man. Just like I can go back to a book I have read and flip through it, read through my favorite lines, pause at the pages folded in their corners. Kiss the creased covers, fill its fragrance into my soul, once again. It's never too late for me to go back to an old flame. Because I can never hate him, no matter how badly he has abandoned me. Because I always see the fault in me, rather than him. And he has had too much my love to be hated.

Books are heartbreaking. Some of them scream the truth so loud in my ears, the truth that I am not, that it breaks my heart to know it. Books tell me of love that I have not, books give me thrill that in my life I have none, books make me understand how despicable life is which I am too inert to feel, books show me that we're all beautiful indeed which I no more believe in. When I am touched by a book, I close my eyes and lay it on my chest. When I inhale and exhale, it seems I am breathing from the book. The book has suddenly reached a place inside me where no one had been before. I didn't know such a place even existed. At that precise moment books are heartbreaking. Men too are heartbreaking.


The puchka wala who wouldn't add extra chillies for my stomach would get upset.
The mystery woman who lived next door, and stumbled up the stairs, drunk most nights.
The kid on sixth floor, with plump cheeks and big eyes, gazing at every passer-by from behind the grille.
The waiter who stared, the waiter who got the wrong orders, always, and the one who waited.
The school bus conductor, who swayed half in the air, on the way back home, on Saturday afternoons.
The bench-mate, who had mushroom like hair, all curled up and like a tree on her head.
The couple who were inseparable, too much in love, yucky, unhealthy love.
The child who screamed, duniya ki sabse kharab chai, when trains halted at midnight.
The eunuch who would ask us for money, whenever we sat facing the sea, all lost.
The woman who sits in her paan shop all day, when the sun burns down her tiny asbestos roof.
The passer-by, the passer-by who knew well the art of holding eyes.
The girl, who sat by me on a bus ride, awake all night, whose lover was to meet her midway.
The security guy, who salutes you whenever you barge into a mall, who you never notice, or smile at.
The stewardess who thanks you for flying with us, when you land safe, and who you may smile at.
The little miss who walks past you, trying to keep pace with daddy-long-legs, who you do smile at.
And keep smiling at, till she vanishes when the road turns.

Men in my Life -6

The airport was three hours away. The drive to it, tortuous. Baby, the dictionary would have to find a new word for tortuous if they spare a glance at that highway. The horribly clogged arterial connection between two states, hadn't felt a wheel glide an inch on it for the last couple of hours. Cars, trucks, even auto-rickshaws, were jammed such I found it difficult to breathe. It had been raining all day, there could have been a landslide someplace ahead, or worse an accident. Speculation was the only affordable time-killer. Not a cop in sight. I was letting all my anguish out on my driver. Coaxing him to discover a shortcut, drop me in the airport somehow, anyhow.

I began hallucinating about superman lifting the car from the jam and placing it down where we could just zoom away. My entire plan was being screwed here if I missed that flight. I would land in a city of strangers with nowhere to go, and with so much luggage. Boy, I was worried! There was no point in calling anyone, there wasn't much to be done anyway. I just sat, distraught, with hundreds of others, and waited. The driver told me it could take six-seven hours to get to the airport, or more. His haplessness made me pity him more than I pitied myself.

Just then, a miracle happened.

Came a commando in an SUV! Somehow, anyhow. My quintessential messiah! He was seated at the back of the vehicle, right in front of my cab. I took one good look at him! I mean a real good look..! Do you believe in adrenaline rushes? I did that moment. My muscles felt jitters, you know. And the same persisted like aftershocks. He looked good. I mean good, you know!

He was drenched in black, a black cap, black shades, black shirt, black trousers. A total black cat! And he held this big gun! I couldn't draw a limiting line to his appeal. Man, the gun! And he sat, dispassionate, not a muscle moved on his face. I wonder if a man like that could ever feel a thing, but I am pretty sure that atleast then he must have been stone cold. I could have pulled his cheeks and he wouldn't have looked at me.

They drove ahead of us, I don't know how, all other vehicles moved aside making a path for them. And I begged the driver to just follow them. Bhaiya unke peeche peeche chalo. And so he did. Throughout, I kept looking at the commando, pretty shamelessly. He had nowhere to stare but my cab. Behind his shades I couldn't read the expression in his eyes. Did he know that he had earned a crazy fan here!

When we were stuck again, he would get down and walk around telling drivers to make way. I looked at him walk, I took note of his every move. And I surprised myself with how momentarily obsessed I could get.

I don't know how, but we were out of that impossible congestion in less than an hour. Then awaited the clean highways. And not for a second, had I taken my eyes off him! I even wanted to get down and thank him. In person ;)

He vanished the way he had appeared. Into nowhere. And I did get on that flight!

The Plight.

Life is not working out the way it should. It's supposed to be objective. Absolute. And it's not. Hence it's not working the should way.

Contradiction is the undercurrent. Contradiction is all that floats on the surface. I have a love-hate relationship with I. And with everything around and inside I. The love-hate rapport is very glaring, very obvious. It puts all at unrest. Attempted escapades fail. There is no way, but to stare at the contradiction point blank.

I do not want to love anything. I want to love nothing. The process of trying to achieve that is very challenging. Maintaining that state of loving nothing is like splitting myself into many halves and ensuring a hellish death for each half. My failure at it is ludicrous. Because I secretly love all the things I pretend to hate. I am not designed not to love. Love is a natural obviousness. But I want it not to be that way. And I want to hate. I try so desperately to hate that in the constant struggle between the opposite forces of love and hate, neither gives up. The chaos is ever escalating, the plight, indescribable. 

I lose self belief. Which is all I want to retain at the end of the day. Honestly, and as selfishly as you can imagine, I want my life to be only and only about me. In existentialism, I trust. But that isn't workoutable. Hence the struggle, the love-hate, the angst, the asphyxic screams, the throttling of heartbeats, the contradiction and the jaded fight against it. Hence the plight.

Say Hello to Stranger!

Episodes on strangers keep running about in my mind. And they do not rest until I write them away. Strangers are relatively more decisive about making me write about them.


I do not open the door in shorts, I don't. The afternoon felt like midsummer as I perched on the couch, legs flung on the teapoy like they weren't mine, watching another absurd movie on HBO. Just then I heard the doorbell. We weren't expecting anyone, but I felt it could be mom early from work. I saw two familiar strangers through the door-eye and opened. I hadn't slipped into anything decently long because I knew they were strangers and won't just walk into our living room! Okay, I am not justifying myself, I was just lazy. Anyway. There stood a stout man smiling and a woman, should be his wife. He asked me if mom was home, and he did look like a typical colleague of hers actually. When I smiled and said no, he asked if I could recall who he was. I obviously couldn't. I mean come on, it's me! Then he just followed me into the house and started talking. I had absolutely no idea why let them in, for all I knew I did not know them. The woman asked for water, mom has coached me to treat people better. I gave them coke! And then he asked me where my mother was working these days. I should have been surprised, because dude, I thought you were her colleague. But guess what, I wasn't. I mean c'mon it's me! I chatted with them, the compulsive gay blabber I enforce on myself when there are people around I am expected to talk to. He asked me where dad worked! Hell.. and he asked for my mom's number. I still didn't wonder if something was fishy. The drama went on for a dozen more minutes before they left. I wasn't duped after all, the man used to know my mom and had come to see a flat in our building.


But there was another situation, sometime ago. I was walking back from the bank, the long line was frustrating and we weren't so much into e-banking and stuff then. A bike slowed down right beside me. I didn't seem to notice. Must have been thinking about Siberia for all I care, I always seem to be lost somehow. The guy said he saw me in the bank, and I said okay. And he told me that he was a distant relative, or some cousin's friend or something and has been to my house many times. I bought that. I bought that. Can you believe it? In fact I told him where I lived, and I was smiling at him. I should be nicer to people I always thought. And he kept throwing stones in the dark, guesses about my cousin and my family, which were all wrong. And I kept correcting him. I didn't, I didn't for a nanosecond think that this guy could be some stalker or something. Finally when he asked me for a coffee, I realized something was wrong. Somehow, random divinity on my side, my stupidity took a break and I got him off myself and denied him the cup of coffee after a long argument. I came up with a series of excuses, yeah excuses. I still didn't accuse him of anything.  He said he would give me a lift anyway seeming pissed off, or even angry. I let him be and walked back home muttering, sonovabitch!

Living, as it is.

The ghostly apartments. An enormous high rise with broken windows, scathed walls. Spat on walls, red pan stains. A tree nearby, leaning up to the first floor, that never bore fruit in the last five years. Silence in its corridors has lasted so long, it has settled in like dust on windowpanes. It is like a man now itself, the silence. It ensures its presence when you walk through, and your footsteps echo. Louder. Overflowing dustbins. Stray dogs and bitches, looking into for an early breakfast of leftovers. The furry ones, the white ones, the ones that look like soft toys, still inside, never left out, fed on milk, tied in chains. A hurrying kaamwali. Sari in place, starched and pinned. The sleeping watchman. Barely present inside his dreary mosquito net. Old man with a paunch, returning with milk packets, from a morning jog or a laughter therapy with comrades, going to shake wake up the dozing wife, and coax her to make tea. Newspapers thrown into grilles, stuck into the gaps under shut doors. Faint sunlight. Mild breeze. Poodles from the rain of last night. Morning yawns. Of reluctant children, to be sent off to school, with heavy bags and slung shoulders, they would walk down these stairs in an hour or so, to wait for the school bus  teeming with other children with slung shoulders, near a gate that has the name of the building cut out on it. Spelt wrong.Their mothers shall climb up again, after seeing off the bits of their heart. The thin ones would scoot up may be. The fatter ones, their sagging thighs, and panting hearts, under shabby nighties, would be counting on it as an exercise may be. There is no elevator. No elevator guy who stares at you as you walk in and out. Just the watchman, still asleep.

Towards the rear end, is a quiet flat, with a young girl in it. Who goes nowhere these days. Her room has a window, that faces between east and north-east. A tree of coconut whose branches almost enter her window, like a begging suitor on sunny mornings, or as a jilted lover on stormy nights. Like last night. Her life has been paused, apparently. She lives in her past present and future, all at the same time. Living, as it is.

Love and other Disasters.

Once I was made to attend a workshop. It was loosely focused about excelling in the workplace. But drifted to personal problems sooner than expected. And the guy was telling us about artificial happyness. I don't know what but I felt something inside me snap. I almost heard it. I nearly screamed at the poor fellow. But it wasn't fair, he deserved the scream. Even stitching together an idea of something like artificial happyness was preposterous. It's oxymoronic.

He argued that it was possible to love someone with all your devotion. But that someone leaving you shouldn't be exactly apocalyptic. It sounded like a contradiction because if you love someone that way, he leaving you should mean the end of the world for you. Shouldn't it.

It's hypocritical of me to feel so because the process of trying to be happy is as continuous as breathing. But when someone else tells you things you yourself have been trying to swallow for so long, it feels like a slap. One feels offended, wondering how did he get there first, before me. I conceived the freaking idea way before he did!

But I did scream, and in front of a lot of people. And the spasms on my face were so immediate, so honest. It totally sucked, opening up in public that way.

Sometime later, I read things here and there, and started practicing indifference like a religion. Drew strict lines around the contours of my body, limiting me, constricting my radius, trying to contain myself. And I wondered if living for oneself was applicable enough a thought.

Someone told his friend, I would die for you. But I wouldn't live for you. It's the same as loving with all your devotion, but learning to live beyond being dumped. Do you understand.

Isn't that a manifestation of unconditional love.

I wonder if that could be workoutable. Bah!




You must wonder why I don't write these days. Because I have been thinking. A lot. I cannot write when there is too much influx into my head. The problem of plenty. The plethora of ideas creates a chaos, which is disturbing as well as consoling at the same time, the latter because it reduces my willpower to categorize thought. But much of this is beyond you, I suppose.

I do not write because I have been reading. You already know how I use fiction to drug my senses. Use it to hasten forgetting the past, and creating a new present, reconstructing.

I don't write because I have been thinking about Dominique. Dominique Francon. Wondering if Rand's characters could be for real. I am forced to think that can there be after all, no reason for my existence besides me. Because all this time,I have engaged myself in a quest to find a reason for my existence which is other than me. But now I am compelled to wonder if the antithesis of that is possible. Can one survive and live, solely, with her own-self as the source of all energy. If she could, then I shall stand healed. Healed. My bibliotherapy would have worked. I would find my muse in me. Do you understand?

Aren't I that way anyway? If it is true that anything creative can be created by only one mind, without any interference from any external collective force, aren't I that way anyway? Haven't I been writing all that I ever wanted to write, without asking you what you wanted? I have prevailed. Only I have prevailed. There has been none but I. At least here. At least here.

So ain't I chasing the impossible that I already have become? At least here. Do you understand? But frankly, you don't need to.