Small steps mattered so much. They were the most hope we could gather in the chaos of our lives. Tiny stretches of distance, stepped, tongue bit between teeth, so afraid we may be wrong, yet not looking back, taking that step anyway. Because, all we wanted lay on the other end of those series of steps. But one day, we merely stopped taking those. Tiny steps. Put our feet to rest. Probably, it was fatigue. The loss of hope. We preferred the chaos of our lives, instead of giving it any direction. Or there was no reason, at all. Years later, we are exactly where we left ourselves that day. Or we have regressed a bit. So, we cry like a baby, like the world's gonna end, watching the climax of one silly movie. Beg ourselves to hold on to what we have. And ask, to be held in return. Tight. And for long.
You don't keep any memory. Somehow you are never inside your body. Flesh is too loose an envelope to be in, for your mighty soul. Your frivolous mind. Winged, all the time, you are never exactly where you are. Your co-ordinates are imprecise.
That's because there's some concern hidden somewhere. How to get home early. What excuses to make, for this and that. How did that book end? Some movie character that's hanging in your for longer than required. Nagging you, making you lose your mind, over issues that barely exist in the premises of the beautiful present you are in.
The moment you are in, is unfortunate never to have you.
A by product of that being, you don't have any memory of this life you are living. Rain showering, from above, and spraying back up from moist earth, the smoothness of bare skin, the smell of mouths, feel of cold wind on warm cheeks, the whispers of confessions made and forgotten, slant sunlight filtering through sky-lights, staring at endless horizons, getting lost in mist, letting go of your hands and spinning around your vertebrae, faster and faster, turning blind, dumb and deaf, ultimately; there are absolutely no memories, of anything at all. Because all that time, I reiterate you have been somewhere else.
So you are relieved that once this beautiful present passes away, you wont miss it anyway. Because you are devoid of memory. Sounds so riskless huh.
In the end, though, nothing can assure you, that. After everything is over, you won't be alone for one moment and not remember each damn thing. Every memory suddenly recollecting in corners of your mind. Debilitating you from standing. Making you take the fall. You find yourself resurrected amongst a pile of ashes.
The most undying of love stories, always end in the middle.
Even after invigorating beginnings and debilitating climaxes, the story per se, doesn't end.
You, reader, are taken to a point, somewhere vaguely in the middle of the story. An approximate midpoint.
When the love was ripe enough, not sour yet.
Some rendezvous. Very distinct, disconnected from the consequential chain of events.
Something fragile, mostly inconsequential.
Like they*, for instance. They met, drawn together due to the heat in their young blood, had numerous conversations on their ideologies, on movements they thought would change the world, how they would all break free et al. They got married, she got pregnant. And he was killed. The rest of the story continued sans him. The humdrum around them went on. Countries, rivers, seas, snow and sand.
In the end, you, reader are told, what he saw when he was killed. Before his eyes flashed a scene from the forgotten midpoint. Each had fallen for the other, entirely. But there was this stalemate. He had asked her to come for a movie. Matinee show. He would hold her hands, in the dark. For the first time, touch her, in that way. She hadn't made it till the interval. He had waited for her in the sun alone. And when she did come, they must have smiled. He angled down his head, his hand forming a canopy between them to shield her from the sun.
They stood there pretty much frozen in time, as the story ended. Slowly, simultaneously as he died.
Sometimes all you remember after having shut the book, despite all its drama, the meandering of the story line, is this singular moment stolen from the middle, and craftily placed in the end.
* Gauri & Udayan: picked up from The Lowland, Jhumpa Lahiri (words in italics are verbatim)
What date would you keep safe for memory's sake. Because the days of our lives are listless, least said. A list of forgettable activities lined back to back, front to front. No space in between, to squeeze in one breath. So we need one day to celebrate, commemorate, birth, death, love, estrangement.
For love, it gets slightly ambiguous. Which day do you pick? The day of the wedding? The day of the unholy rings? The day you confessed, you loved, indeed, you did? The day he confessed, he loved, he did? Your first official date? Was it dinner? Just coffee, or a drive? Or just flowers? Gerbera and roses? The day you fought for the first time, and you imagined a disagreement was even possible? Or when you shared the warmth of the same sheets? Which? Tell me.
I chose the day when his eyes caught mine. For the very first time. As absolute strangers. The first passing comment. Pleasantries. Stretch of a couple minutes.
But the exact date was again lost in memory, I hadn't noted it down. So I played a small trick of assumption. Hit -n- trial. I remembered the month, and the day of the week too, approximately. He had made me feel like Friday, always, anyway. So I forcibly assigned the day, I was going to commemorate, say a quiet prayer in my head. Whisper a wish, count the months.
And that's how I chose the exact day. I picked today.
One amongst those multiple of packaged honeymoon offers, ones with cash back offers on booked hotel rooms, particularly. Arranged in the worst kind of rush, stress levels bursting your pulmonary, the one hurried event of a lifetime, all scheduled to happen in the right time, in between the right witnesses, enough pictures to taken of the wedding, in plastic predestined poses. To ensure with certainty that you have left behind all your friends and enemies in arranging meticulously the most ostentatious expression of the time and wealth you didn't have, you end up at an obscure airport. Standing in front of arrivals, congested red bangles in hands, shades et al, posing with all your luggage for a stranger to take picture, to commemorate the beginning of your honeymoon. The stranger is your husband. Yes, the man to who you had once quite mentioned that x went to Bali, z went to Maldives, which one do you think is better?
Then the series of lone photographs begins. You click him, he clicks you. Sometimes, you even switch shades, his deep golden tint, for your dark green. Vice versa. You enter rooms, err suites, of fairy white, scattered with pink. Emblems of the love stationed in every possible shelf to remind you, that make love is all you are ever supposed to do. And then you take some pictures of that room as well. From various angles. Fitting in windows and sea facing balconies in your tiny 13 megapixels frame. Ultimately you coat yourself with sunblock and head out. Some more suffocations to be endured, you take pictures of the delectables ( with their fair share of aphrodisiacs, I believe) and then head back to the suite, sun tanned anyway, to indulge in the sundry. Because you are expected to.
Sometimes, company is so much more asphyxiating than solitude. So much much more.
Disclaimer: No offense meant. Please ensure, none is taken.
Tormented by a whim to confess, she looked the truth in the eye finally. That she had loved brothers. Two men, in adjacent phases (shamelessly) of her ordinary life. But brothers. Not exactly brothers though, first cousins, their mothers were sisters. Who had brought up their families parallel-y, fiercely matriarchal.
The older brother, with the credentials of an above average geek, was tall. Wore glasses. Pinstripe shirts. Had some sense of humor. But did not take many chances in love. The younger one, was shorter. Believed he was flamboyant. Strictly held on to the idea that he was a babe magnet. He wasn't. But he liked that idea and that oozed out from his presence. Heavily. Obnoxious.
The streaks of similarity between the two, however couldn't be denied. Faces, mildly alike, each's laughter scarily reminding her of the other, stemming from common genes.
At first, when she was seeing the older one, the one love of her life, her Eve's apple, of the numerous conjunctions in their conversation, one was about this kid brother he had. The older brother would often bring to her notice how his kid brother was good with women, good at women.
After the snapping of ties in this affair, the philandering younger one, rode by one day. Two days. And then again, until he didn't give up on her. Innocent child, he did ask her a few times, how she knew his older cousin. Casual acquaintance. Oh. Okay.
During the life and time of this new courtship, she would be banged by awkward moments, when he repeated their childhood tales, which the older one already had reiterated a dozen times over, narrations of weddings of sisters, and who wore what, habits of mothers and aunts, aunts and mothers now, and one common maternal grandmother. The tainted tree of life.
Sometimes she could only stare at the roof, shut her eyes and restlessly shift between the two. Loving brothers.
I must have never known, until then, what Mickey Mouse looked like. So I drew out the stuffed toy that used to appear on Amulspray tins. And filled in the outlines with crayons. On battered chart paper and glued it on top of a piece of wood I chanced upon. I still can't remember where I must have procured the glue from, from among the thousand destinations in a child's mind. Signed my name in one corner, in bad handwriting. And gave it to my school principal before leaving, the school, the place, that life. In these numerous decades, only once did I go back to that school, to the principal's room, which was occupied by another man now, who nevertheless recognized me instantly and showed me that picture I had drawn. No matter what you do, where you go, relics of the past, fair and ugly, show up. No memory is discrete enough to let you walk away
A couple years ago, I was texting and walking. I tripped and fell. Like fell on my face, flat on the road. Got up immediately to finish typing that text and sending it away. But the next day, my swollen ankle kept me from going to work. I limped to the doctor's alone and got an x-ray done. The inflammation of flesh went away, but the pain stayed. For which, for some reason, I never decided to see another doctor. Because after weeks of tying crape bandages around it, the ache would freely reappear at its own will and hardly go away, irrespective of how much Volini I massaged it with. I at times believed that the pain was psychosomatic. That term I found out existed much later. But I did believe that I was imagining I was undergoing that pain, because there was no reason I should. Some agonies stay forever. Psychosomatic, psychosoma-, psychoso-, psycho..
This is not a Haiku. I just named it that to drag you here. If you already know what a Haiku is i.e., or just Google it. Take a break from your respective missions, everybody.
Because I am on none. It's disheartening to see my time whiled away as I see everyone around me haranguing about how else I should take things. Coating layer on layer of paint on their faces. Coaxing themselves to thinner waists. Comparing bust sizes. Buying things en-route to their materialistic paralysis. I see nothing except a race.
In the beginning, before a lot of beginnings, I had believed that the ultimate idea behind running this race was to be able to get out of it someday, to become capable enough to call it sham. But that isn't true, is it?
Once you run, you have gotta run. Once you fall, you fall.
There is always a list of things to be done with. Wrinkles to be tightened, belly fat to be lost, money to be saved, money to be spent, places to fly to, pictures to be flaunted, things to be bought and stacked, and stacked, until they suffocate you with regret of ever having been that incorrigibly desperate.
They sell magazines, don't they, which apparently tell you that there is a shortcut to get flat abs and have great sex. And you buy them, only to discover that it's after all not a shortcut at all. Then there is the harangue. Somebody just pops up from behind the white clouds on the blue skies and tells you, that see, s/he had told you there was no shortcut. And that you have to burn your ass. And you should turn your sleep cycle topsy turvy to actually get there. So back in the race you go.
There seems to be no way around here. To take things at my own pace. All I sometimes want to do is, watch a solo crow fly revolving about an unknown axis in the blackish white monsoon skies, full of rain and never landing. Being in that state of perennial fight. Apart from that, I merely want to be. And write things that are abandoned unread.