Decades ago, there was a bride. A sari crudely wrapped around her frail figure, whatever skin showed, was filled in with gold. There was a groom, and that old grunting ambassador adorned in threads of jasmine. A dozen drunken men, dancing in mad moves; a perfumed night. Dimming yellow bulbs, shamianas hung out, colors of which aren’t readable in the black and white pictures now stuck on forgotten albums.

There was a bride, not too young, not too old. The groom may or may not have had a moustache. Nobody had seen nobody. Love hadn’t been discovered in those ages. Decades ago. Hymns were read out, women with saris drawn to their noses, sat beside the summer night fire, and dozed. Funnily enough, there is no proof to that demi-heavenly drama. Almost everyone must have been half asleep. But there is the continuance.

Continuance. Scores of fights behind bedroom doors, disagreements, many scars. Children born and fed because they had to be born and fed. Who grew by inches in months, and fell apart. Strings of the womb couldn’t hold anyone together. Each had a mind of his own, too many minds inside one rather.

They fought over who should have the TV remote, they sat on terraces, hidden, stealing a smoke every now and then. Each tenaciously clutched her own secrets, under one roof. Nothing shared, not even glances. Slept turning sides, secretly hating each other. And still posed for photographs together, some of them framed and kept in the living room. Space became a problem, the big problem.

And so the menagerie was complete. Too much for continuance!

A Time Traveller's Whim

Hundreds of years ago, a land where reality was nothing short of magic, was struck by the insomnia plague. Contagious that it was, soon an entire village was gobbled up. In the beginning, the people couldn't have been more thankful to God because they had twice the time they used to have. But gradually, the peril unveiled itself, insomnia was obviously accompanied by amnesia. People began to forget. Everything about everything. Soon they had post-its on their cows saying that this was a cow. And later, lest they forgot, what to do with the cow, a note was added that it was to be milked every morning, milk which was to be boiled, added to coffee and sugar and drunk.

In a matter of months, entire houses had chits pasted on every inch of the wall. But one thing was inevitable, the past began to erase itself. Quietly, people began to lose track of who they were, who they had been. Like their life had been reduced to a single point; now. There used to be a palmist cum card reader who used to foretell the future before the plague had struck. Now she was asked by many, to read the past. And this old woman, studied lines on palms from their very origin, to reconstruct what had been, before hungry eyes who had lost all sense of their being.

This story appealed to me, got me thinking. The past is all I have. Despite being strewn with my anger and disappointments, strangely enough I owe it my entire life. And besides, before I deny it, I have wanted to go back in moments, sometimes to etched dates on the calender, sometimes to random stretches of time. To one of those grueling days at college, when I would open my eyes after a night's journey to the familiarity of home. To one of those long pre-dawn walks, intended to go nowhere, not even to see sunrise, but just to keep walking till the calves gave up. To not staring at the crackers bursting in the night sky, but at their reflection in his glasses, and being asked, what kind of a guy I thought he was. Some changed answers could have changed a lifetime of other things, filled solitude with compassion or even love.

But that's not why I want to go back, I wouldn't ever want to change what has happened. Like I said, I owe myself to the past, as it is. But the sheer wish to go back in time, the helplessness of not being able to do so, makes me realize that I am still, no matter how frailly, connected to myself. That fleeting whim of time travel, also makes me believe that what has been has almost been a trifle worth it.

Portrait of a Woman

There is a love that unsettles you. One that makes an unbelievable, wildly passionate, insane maniac out of you. Also, there is another, which makes you know peace, makes you grow roots. But who could choose..

She would write in wild bursts of energy. Words that, least to say never flowed rationally, from what was written before. Every new scribble felt like a non-sequitur. There could have been a flow though, not an obvious one but. A connection too vague, in your plane. Too obvious in hers. No body read her mind, she wouldn't stay as long to let them.

In unwashed jeans and with the collar of her jacket raised up, she would roam around. In this obscure, neglected hilly town. Wherein she arrived because she wanted to be treated like the town itself, thrown away, forgotten. Dwell in absolute solitude. Once a month, she would while into the grocery store, hurl in jars of coffee and packs of cigarettes into her bag. Like she was greedy, and she wouldn't survive till her next visit there.

She would walk back, glide rather, on the uphill roads breathing in the sooty exhaust of standstill cars in unending traffic jams. Panting, underneath her layers of wool and the jacket with the collar raised up. With an umbrella in one hand, that she would throw away the moment it rained, and get drenched. Would stop at the most unpredictable of places, never take pictures, or notes. Visit the wildest of dreams, clandestine brothels, deserted monasteries, abattoirs. Stare, with still eyes, a mocking cold glare in them, and move on.

She had abandoned, nobody knew how many accomplished years behind. Middle-aged she was. With no past. No future, only a fleeting present. With a quest, a faint one though, to empty herself into words. And to live by those.

Alone, you soak pillows, yearning for love. In the company of a man, who doesn't get you, you're lonely. On a lunch table with family, you feel even lonelier. More the listless souls, the more left out you are. In a crowd, you feel the loneliest. The only company that survives, is the one which is drawn to you by the measureless understanding of solitude..

Just Friends -3

I took those glances for a tantrum. Her explicit efforts to avoid me, at times behave like nothing had changed. Thought it would pass. And we would come around, to where we were before, before one accidental night happened. I tried not to be alone with her, was afraid she would ask me something I wouldn't have the answer to. I never had the answers to anything those days. Wasn't a seeker of sorts, I lived like a life had been thrown upon me from the clouds, and I could do nothing else with it but live it through. She too pretended to be like me, and may be that's why we hung out together. But she wasn't, she was only trying too hard. She had to get a thick skin of indifference to defend the dangerously sensitive person she was. I knew that, but didn't make a fuss over it because I just wanted to keep her with me. I was teaching her stoicism, but an accidental night came our way.

I hadn't returned the shoes she had forgotten at my place the morning after. She had walked out in haste with a pair of my slippers instead, and it was only after I found them missing, I traced her shoes flung under my bed. Did she want them back? Because those slippers were the only pair I had. I couldn't ask, she couldn't tell. A week ago, we were friends, who could talk about any damn thing. And we literally sunk our minds into each other, we were like this one siamese soul, trading notions till we reached a mental orgasm. That some things would alter so irreversibly, I hadn't quite calculated.

She would often repeat her ideas to me, many times over. I mistook those to be the principles of her life. I had no idea that she told them to me again and again, because she herself wanted to believe in them. Funny, isn't it. And from those mindless babblings of hers, I had made a strict mental note. That she felt no relationship could go from physical to emotional, only vice versa. Had I doubted her, I could have asked her if she wanted her shoes back! And some other things too. I didn't. Couldn't.

Just Friends-2
Just Friends-1


Chhaya. You're not beautiful. You have one of those thousand faces, that one could easily miss. Very predictable. Very rejectable. You ain't fair. And your dusky doesn't sell either. It's a bad dusky. Almost tending to dark. Tanned. Like grilled in the sun. Your lips are too thin. Very unkissable. They're not even rosy, they're a darker shade of brown. Brown lips. Your nose isn't like that of a princess. Not as pointed. And look, you don't have a nose ring either, that could have added some quotient. You don't. The eyes, they don't have lashes long enough. Not dreamy enough, no. Big eyes, don't make up for all your other lacunae. Big eyes are not worth a dime. Your hair doesn't stand up for your face either. It's not straight, like ironed. It's not curly, like curly is supposed to be. It's a mad wavy. Nobody would fuck that. Take my word. The chin, even the very end of your face is a ridiculous bony protrusion. It makes you look older. Way older. Yours is a lost battle. Your cheeks are sunken. And despite your sunken cheeks, you have a double chin. Have you asked yourself why. Because, you're ugly. 

There is no thing called inner beauty. It is one of the most pseudointellectual illusions ever created, to satisfy man, to euphemize your ugliness. Don't listen to them, Chhaya. Listen to me. I am the truth. 

And beauty is an opiate older than life itself. It's a myth because nobody knows what it is, truly is. Beauty is a bias, not even the creator could overcome, Chhaya. So I have created thee. To always remind me that your exact antithesis is what appeases.

Between Us

Intimacy cannot fade. It is merely coated on top by other emotions, for other people. The naked warmth, the sighs and whispers shared, the confessions and intimacies traded, do not fade. Illusions, as if seen by only one pair of eyes, stay, unforgotten. Intimacy cannot fade, no, time isn't that powerful. Once you scrape off those settled layers of dust, you can see it preserved, far from fossilized. 

Because, when minds have conversed, mouths needn't reassure. What has been said, is never taken back. And whenever you turn your head to see what you have left behind, you find some memories, unmoved, as you created them. Even after a million waves have crashed on the beach where you felt it for the first time; even after the creases on the bed on which you slept for the first time have gone amiss, and it has been unmade and remade as days whiled away, one glance is sometimes 'nough to take you back.

Or a date. When you look at your cellphone and realize that it's the anniversary you once celebrated. But now it's another useless, unaccountable day. You skip a breath, palms go sweaty like you were nervous, about to make a speech to yourself. You fling the cellphone back, and stare at the wall opposite, re-living, trying not to, yet re-living.

'Her earrings were made out of metal twisted into circles, tiny stones hung from which, delicately, relfecting the setting sun's rays. He felt dazed by that shine, and by her faint golden summer skin. He held back her hands as she tried to tie her hair wildly yielding to the wind, and it fell like waves on both sides of her face. To that, he smiled. And asked, 'Do you remember, what day it is?''

So much for a book!

Someone once asked me to write a book. I tried hard to listen to his sarcastic laughter. I couldn't. Loss of hearing I guess.

On second thoughts, I have tried to stitch together some nights, and write a story. A story. It doesn't begin, it doesn't end. It doesn't even go on. It's short, shorter than expected. It's just a flap of time. Stolen, by a self obsessed writer, who sees herself in every character.

She can't otherwise. It's difficult for my story to have more than one character, I cannot be that generous. A severe limitation of my imagination, it's pretty constricted, can't stretch a bit. I find it challenging. To create a person, out of nothing, inside my mind, whose every cell I am supposed to know, to knit together his attributes, to bring into existence his subconscious, and then hide it, to ensure he justifies his presence in the plot's every move, it's hard. It's hard to create a character you don't know.

So I create me, the only one I know. Again and again. And sometimes I crib in the guilt of selfishness.

There have been books, of course in which all the characters are reflections of real people in the author's life. With names changed, so that they can't file that hefty lawsuit. Writing that way must be easier. But I wonder if it's worth it. May be it is. How does it even matter!

A night of memories and of sighs

A night of memories and of sighs. Awaits me. On the other side of this orangish evening. Leaning off a precarious terrace. Into dust filled air. Mild summer breeze. Sweaty summer skin. Glowing in remnant sunlight.

Feeling like the connector of fates. When she asks me a question. Should she stay with him. Or move away. He, who betrays, loses his way, comes back to beg forgiveness. She, a mixture of fiction and many realities.

I, the confidant.

Can see the unwithstandable pain, obvious in her eyes. Even when, we, women try to engage in friendly banter. Try to shift topics. To forget her heartbreak. And just be girls.

And just be girls.With hair blowing carelessly in the wind. Messing up. Skirts gloating up like umbrellas. But despair takes over. Cars on the highway. Hundreds of them. Forming human chains, homebound.

I tell her, I may listen, but cannot answer. For I don't know, a bit, about him, about her. About love.

Of accurate misunderstandings, and clashing egos, of straying fantasies, and fluctuating loyalties, of the weaning of attachment, and voids between hearts, of being pragmatic over romantic and vice versa, of expecting things, and learning to be unconditional, I do not understand love. For me, it's a thing too far away. How could I be even expected to answer her.

I laugh, and it gets to her by contagion. I don't have any answers. Nobody has them rather. The night takes over the orangish evening. Smothered by memories and by sighs. And we part.

The Fever Bird

A poet of repute writes about love. He mentions how he wakes up disturbed to the cries of the papiha in his garden, in the dead of the night. The lunatic bird sings in the midnight heat, without relief. Like a bone of pain is stuck in its throat. And our poet doesn't know sleep. He feels that the papiha is conspiring only against him, because there is no one else in the house awake. He looks out of his room, and can't trace the hidden bird. Its throttling cries split his heart apart. Those cries of pee-kahan, pee-kahan. Where is my love, where is my love. The poet christens this emotion as love. And tries to make me believe so.

Yet again, I have been lied to. Call me a man for having said this. But love is an extended mating-ritual. It's like fore-foreplay. At least this once, men are right. It's a terrible facade that love puts on, it cheats you for half a life. It's all about chemicals gone crazy in your brain. Some hormones out stepping their fucking limits. The same ones that ensure you get hair under your arms. That's about it. It's animal instinct. All that we suppose sets man apart from animals has been doctored to fill in books, to make people fantasize. And make this hunt for an okayish mate, a pink one after all. That's about it.

I saw a blind man and a blind woman. I don't know if I could impose our jargons on them. But they would have been objectionable had they not been blind. It was a public place, there were scores of people, like me, like you, who would but ogle at people who make out in public. But I couldn't find a term for them. I couldn't force any thought on what I saw. No one else was watching, so I could just stare on. Like an almost involved by stander. The woman was taking the man's hand and running it across her face, above her eyes, with almost all white and the squinted black, the dark circles around her eyes, her nose, the slightly hollow cheeks, and then his hands paused for a short breathtaking moment on her mouth, fingered gradually from the upper lip to the lower, like a beat of music. Then down to her chin and below her neck. There was a smile on the man's face. It was a like a mad man's. He must have been happy. So must have been the woman. Now I wonder, was that about it?

Poet in reference: Vikram Seth


It's a much denied fact, but we all look for support. And when all else fails, we look for an ideology we could stick to. So as to say, if at the end of the day, everything else is taken away from you, you could still say, you stood by what you believed in. Or pretended to believe in.

I am going fishing. For one such comforting ideology to stick to. You see I do not have many other sources of solace or engagement. So I would rather hunt down my beliefs, and try to knit them into what they call a belief system. And call it a day. And go off to sleep again, as my mom says.

It's a funny post, me writing about all this. You see I never had the time or more importantly the stretchable attention span to look for an ideology, I was running the rat race like all of you. I don't intend to call you a rat anyway, if you quit, I do bow before thee. Why I was engaged breathlessly doing what everyone else was doing was because the risks of being unique and hence ostracize-able weren't involved at all. So there was a comfort, a safety rather. It's my typical middle class, I-don't-want-to-be-left-homeless fear. It has nothing to do with anything. I have been brought up on fear. Not that I aspire for the filthy rich worthless millionaires, or sympathize any less for the decaying chunk of the population in slums.

Just that I have been so busy with me, that there has hardly been anytime to be actually concerned per se. But now, I have been lounging lazy for two months, and I need something desperately to comfort myself. So I am here to knit my belief system. So that I can call something my own.

I was never slightly inclined towards the left, but as a kid I have seen appalling poverty around. I mean really! So I began thinking that something should be done about all the poor people. I read a few books, I wouldn't name them and bore you to death, but the filth in their lives was so accurately described, I was drawn closer and closer to wanting to find a solution.

Then I saw the helplessness of it. Conversations with people, with myself, the absolute inability of the system to change, the lackadaisical attitude towards it all, frustrated me. And since I had so many other frustrations in my life, I quit on this one and became indifferent.

Later, I read some more books and gave my heart to individualism. And thanks to my stint with a master's degree, I supported the staunch capitalist, and became a vague rightist. You get these bi-directional sways of my heart, don't you?

There were too many questions, a quagmire of them actually. A mess inside my mind, justifications I sake, guilt I felt. The lingering silence became very disturbing, but that disturbance is anyway a respite from my perennial issue of heartache.

However, now I have stopped looking for the absolut. My solution, if I may call it one, is that I have begun seeing things on scale, that extends indefinitely in opposite directions. And everything can be explained in a relative context to something else. But that something else is never the absolute, can be explained again with respect to something else. And so we move on the scale, in either direction, and sometimes multi-dimensionally.

And if the luster of the title attracted you, but the post bored you to death, but still you read on till the end, then you may in fact ask for an apology!