The Other Day.

The other day, I ran into her parents. Them, who I had barely met when we were us, seemed to have aged twice as fast than they would have, had time been more merciful. After a moment's raw hesitation and an unsuccessful attempt to flee the spot, I stood with the poise of a man and approached them. Her mother blinked at me, with faint recognition. With a bravado I was unaware I had, I introduced myself as a friend of their daughter's. A friend they had never known of. She welcomed me with a confused but affectionate smile. I hadn't expected much anyway. She had shrunk from the photographs of the steadfast woman I had seen in the pictures I had been shown, a couple years ago. I greeted the father similarly, the lines on his face had become more precise. Those dictions of his which she would tell me over and over again, repeatedly, and never tire of, hardly ever left my mind those days. Like her father was permanent company, always watching over her. In a moment's notice I was carried away, wondering what kind of an alternate reality would it have been to actually have been a part of their lives. It's funny in a way, whatever the wish that did not fulfill. Whatever the love that vanished, passed away peacefully like death from senility. I always told her that she looked like her mother. She could never catch the parallels though. And would argue that even though they might look alike, as a person she was quite the antithesis of her mother. Like she was selfish and aloud, inconsiderate and obstinate. Quite the contrary to her mother, quite the contrary to any decent human being, quite the contrary to the beautiful person I sometimes saw in her.

I ran into her parents, the other day. But not a word was spoken of her.



It's a ridiculous wish I had. To see Khushwant Singh in person. He's the one who taught me how to live without shame. Now he is dead and gone. That's one item struck off like that. Sooner more than later, I am sure I will forget who I am. It's like losing sight of oneself. And it's a horrible thing to say. To become someone with no identity, wishes and aspirations. My autobiography could be named the autobiography of a corpse. Because my life is pretty much a list of things to be done, things to constantly worry about, work wise, life wise. I feel I have made too many unwise decisions and now there is no getting away from those. Like a vicious circle, the aftermath leads to the cause itself. And can't look out, look within. I am entangled such, I can't see. My biases are such, I don't think I even understand my environment very well. It's like being really stupid, immune to the obviousness of the world. I am so serious when I say I can't see, I can't see a damn thing. 

I need a filter, something that tells me what I should see, what I should ignore. Because there is so much fucked up stuff happening around, they all merge into a haze, I can't differenciate one from another. There is nothing definitive, it's all infinite and irrational. I feel small, incapable. And stupid. Like a failure.

A friend recently halted at a guest house by a lagoon on a rainy night because their car broke down on the way. In the morning when she woke up, the lagoon and the sea it merged into and the sky, everything looked like one grey screen of nothing. She stood on her feet and stared, unable to figure where the sea ended, where the sky began, they were all so homogenous. No sight of the horizon, of the distances we could go, of the persons we could become. Nada, nothing. Then, minutes later an orange sun punctured that grey screen. It rose slowly up the sky, shooting out rays, drawing out a horizon in front of her eyes. Separating the sea and the sky. Differentiating the closer from the distant. Showing her what exactly to see.

I want to see. Just like that. 

The Girl

The girl glided into the compound of the building. She had gotten down from the bus a moment ago. City buses, town buses that ran between home and school. That carried her to and fro. Except for today, when she got down in between. In a place that was neither school nor home. Nobody was startled, nobody cared. Or gave a damn. She stood right beside the building and craned her neck to see the top, she couldn't. Approaching the flight of stairs she stood by the board which read which offices were on which floor. On the second or the third, there was a bank. Which sold out forms for an exam she was to apply to and write to find a place to be in, after she finished school. Upstairs there would be a security guard standing near the grille entry to the bank who wouldn't even spare a glance as the girl would walk in and join the que of dozens. And spend the next hour staring at the red spit on the walls and its corners. The disgruntled breath that held the air together in that place.

Downstairs, there was a middle aged man with an eye on her. Staring at her every move, trying to draw out her intentions. What was a girl like her doing alone in a building like this. And at this time? In the afternoon, when nobody is home. She, he had been made to believe was going to one of the top floors and engage in something illicit. Anything at all, outside of rules she was expected to abide by. Anything that should bring shame. 

Torn between the man and the Girl, we would hardly know where was it that she headed for real. Knowing is as good as not knowing anyway. Who can tell. May be we are only fooling ourselves. Who can tell. 

The Virtue of Indifference

I lost my innocence very early in life. Not owing to any incident in particular, but I just grew up faster I believe. Things that people realized ten years hence, I was done and dusted with in my adolescence. I don't blame anybody specifically, I was just the way I was. Sometimes this extra dollop of maturity acted to my advantage, i.e. I could get over stuff faster. 

I have hardly ever truly believed in the goodness of the people. World is a comedy of errors and I have gradually taught myself to laugh and then appreciate those errors. I sometimes even gorge on the beauty evident in some of these blatant flaws. Like nothing, absolutely nothing is up to our expectations, so you have got to dissolve your daily dissatisfaction with nicotine, caffeine, whatever it is. Or just woman up and stick with it. Like given a chance, life would fuck itself up. It's like Murphy is the father of the world. Bad things constantly happen, it's like the law of inertia. People, men and woman, are tightly wound nut jobs. They are narcissistic fools, arrogant buffoons, with mommy issues and daddy issues et cetera. The only way to get past their shit and focus on yours is just to give them a hearing. Only a hearing, mind you. Never listen to people, if you prefer sanity. Hardly anyone would actually be right beside you when you need anything, so never let them in. 

Mostly as you could already guess, I did not believe that goodness could actually exist in our species. And so I was never actually good, per se. I would just make do. Just be nice. And indifferent. Sometimes, even this would take a toll on me as it is. But it is a load less than being truly deeply madly good. 

That I have been the above for so many years now, reverting back to innocence is such a tough choice. It's so damn hard to actually mean it when I say, I am a good woman.

3:00 pm

The crumple of skin behind knuckles, 
A slight itch in the corner of an eye
The corner of the shelf, where
I store our bodily smells, like I hoard them
Protect them against time
Shut out from the volatile rest 
And this untiring motion
Breathless commotion 
As a fragile constant
Tethered to my soul

The woman downstairs
In a purple-blue nighty
A child clinging to her waist
Like a creeper to a tree
Being fed from a bowl of silver
The smile of that silver, in the afternoon sun
The belly of that child
The mashed dal in that bowl
His refusal to swallow
Her persistence to make him

Like, we do
That (corner in the) shelf, forgotten
Chasing something we can't even see. 
Can't spare one constant unmoving hour in a day
Going through circles
And arcs, circles that don't even care to finish.

We wait at the ends of those arcs, 
To automatically shred into smithereens. 


The stink of henna on her hands kept her awake. She was in one of those, umbrella cutout kurtis, that bloat up in air, from right below your chest. The kohl that day, was thicker somehow. More blatant than usual. It was, the kohl, made of the same black ash her heart was composed of. You know, how that is. It was a day in May. In the month of. See, how that untidy little month is named after a tricky adjective of uncertainty. Like the lover she may or may not meet. Like the clouds that may or may not give in. That afternoon. Of a late day in May. With waiting rain, and blistering summer. Her dusky had gotten closer to a color of charred chocolate. She constantly felt the prick around her newly pierced nose ring. Almost like the constant persistence of a heartache. During all this, the storm hit. Not the cherry blossom precursor to the Monsoon, but the kalbaisakh. Violent winds swept rooftops, rain filled into roads like a river. The lightening cast a chill down the spine. But nothing could stop her. She has this thing. Of being possessed, and chasing without any thought, mirages that tempted her. She wanted to be with the lover when the first rain struck. And though she was already delayed, like the rain, still she had to make it. To him. So she closed her eyes. And leaped. You know, how that is. To make the love, that may or may not be. May or May not. 

The Road

It was one long road. With trees on both sides, of mixed variety, unknown species. Big old trees facing each other on parallel borders of the road, full of leaves meeting right over its midline. Like forming a content canopy of thought.

He and I, we walked down that road. Only seven years ago on a faintly similar afternoon of February. Talking of things that seem the most inane now. Like what we would do with our lives, in our futures. Non collapsible ever expandable futures. What higher schools would we want to get into. What jobs would we walk into, what kind of money that would give us, what kind of lives.

And the suddenly it rained. Like in buckets. I am not joking, it did. Nor am I saying this just to make it sound romantic or anything, it did. And we had to run towards a tree. Beneath that we stood for what seemed like eras. Breathing out cold vapor with whatever little we spoke. Whispered. The noise from the rain dropping down the leaves was so gigantically deafening. And children on cycles were chasing each other down faster than the rain. Autorickshaws impatiently zoomed in and out of our canvas. The world seemed to move pretty much in fast forward as we stood there, temporarily frozen in our own thought, glued together to the trunk of our tree.

Today, I went back there again. Not in time travel, but in reality. Walking alone down the same road. And picked up my drenched self. A raw girl. With her mind full of things that were yet to happen. Living in the future. Which actually is, now. And it's barely what she thought it would be like. Barely. Sigh. What a wreck!