>> Saturday, June 30, 2007

It rains off and on and I don’t have much to complain. When the clouds gather, full of thunder, and hang low over the city, the view shines out in a clear golden light, an enamored domain, free of the storm and darkness of night. Only that when it rains, the asphalt full of ditches and pavements with puddles of water reflect pieces of my own self. In a myriad of reflection – a myriad of mirrors. The remains of the carnival called life, is a heap of rubbish but for me it is still a holiday – the private holiday of a hedonist. The way I live, makes me feel, I’m slowly committing suicide. You may not ask for death but sometimes deep within yourself, you long for an end. We keep existing in time, building and rebuilding on its ruins, but for how long can one afford persistent abandonings? I’ve commenced to imagine that there is a sweet smell of decay in my room. Even when all lights burn, my room remains in an unremitting shadow. I can only endeavor to resemble outside it, an imperfect copy of what I’ve already lost somewhere. I stand pure in this decay because our emotions are the rulers. They assail us like robbers, they mock all our resolutions. I’d rather say, I sense deficiency of a land, of a sure terrain, of a sort of permanent landscape of the heart. I'm trapped in my own complex feelings.

Day before when it drizzled, I peered out of my balcony into the coherent and unbroken vastness from horizon to horizon and detected only a void into which I hunted for distance and relief from the mirage of mountains that quivered around me with visible heat. It seemed that the shadowed passes around me could not lead out to those remote and sunlit azure hills but only look down on them as if on fabled kingdoms, across the barrier of possibility. The wind that breathed past me and moved the banal wind chimes hanging everywhere in my living room brought phantasmal sound of bells, and expired again, tired as life. In the patter of rain I could listen sober tenor of expectations reduced, desires blunted, hopes deferred, chances lost, defeats accepted and griefs borne. The progression of sound going from lyrical to even quaint to even harsher. I’ve armed myself with patience and resignation, which is always there in me ready to immunize my failures and curb any desire. Beneath all this is a passive, unmoved repose, the will underlying all personal emotions, my inheritance.

What lingers in some of us, in me is a child but without any childish joy- a pampered, angry little girl, ready to pout if something interferes with my whims. Blandishments and promises will not lure me. I'll sit down expecting the worst. What is worst, is beyond me, but I bet life can devise something. I can not tell whether my reticence expresses coolness of feeling or suppresses happiness that probably I’ve just discovered. In posterity, 'the past', which only scratched old wounds on a tranquil morning, is now, ‘a present’ healing itself and pursuing me into innumerable depleting dreams. The worst injury, the worst betrayal is the knowledge of it. I betray myself, everyday.

So many incredible things have happened that I have become completely blas√©. I’m no heroine of a romantic novel and it never was my ideal to die of romance but I try to delve into the worst of suffering, convincing myself, it is pleasure. Every morning I wait for the twilight when the sky turns deep blue with a wide purple channel through it for the night to come flowing in. I hear memory – voices quarrelling. And the talk too is nearly the same. The kind of things said before, repeated now; chewed swallowed. At times, I strain my name in the clamor, the spirit of the abyss calling me to join them in their nocturnal dance. I hate myself for being back again, from where I’d fled with a bruised forehead, all purple and gold. Those pages are yellow from age, spotted with droppings of ashes and traces of tears. I keep coming back because I’ve held those memories as a beloved locket; inside which is preserved a tiny distorted image of happiness. Perhaps, I need a deeper melancholy, a renovating anguish, an intolerable pain, a dark cave where sensation is drowned in the enormous, which wangles to rouse me, from the approaching langour of death. I might be buried but I’m fiercely alive and so I require a stroboscopic image pulsing to reassure me by subliminal tricks that though I’m nowhere, I’m home.

I keep pouring, not knowing whether I’m thirsty or to buoy my spirits.. I might be immersed in the vainest of passions but I’m only drunk with emotions.. I want to fall asleep quickly, into a place beyond sleep, deep and silent... grappling in the vague gray that transforms into a hollow blackness inside my head. Hmm .. I’ve had one drink too many, but I’m only a little exuberant, not drunk.


Some scattered thoughts

>> Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I’m recurrently the last to respond to a tag. I don’t mind doing it once a while especially when I’m stuck in a writer’s block, at the same time I know, lot of us don’t enjoy this. The last time I was tagged I’d made up my mind that I won’t tag anybody in the future but this is different. I need to pick five bloggers for the ‘thinking blogger award’ and they are expected to do the same. I’ll like to clarify that the ones I’ve picked mean a lot to me personally, it’s my personal acknowledgment and if they don’t want to carry it forward, it isn’t an obligation.

Coming back to the point,
Ano picked me in her list of ‘five’. Getting praised by a versatile writer, in full possession of her art and craft means much! I thank her again for the high praise and also for having me alongside Asuph ! I venerate him .. ahem and I won’t say more coz … never mind .. :D
So here is my list ..

Vi– A reflecting muser! It will be apt to bestow thinking blogger award on someone, who has named her blog – Still thinking! There's an easy charm in her writing. Her regular posts are terse and precise wherein she can open lives, explore ordinary relationships and still manage to penetrate deeper and reveal pulsation of love, emotions, friendship with absolute authenticity. Sadly she rarely posts her stories, poems etc and when she does, after few days, she deletes them. Her novella, Vishal that she’d posted on Sulekha was exemplary.
She is my dearest blogger-friend, one of the most wonderful person I came across over the net and I really mean it. I hope to meet her in person, someday.

Zofo - He has a magnificent love affair with nature. An avid traveler, the photographs he posts uncover some delightful pleasures and dangers of the natural world. The easiest way to head to the wilderness is, visiting his blog! He combines those images with the poet’s sensibility and the effect is uniquely compelling. His poems are passionate, erotic and usually with sorrowful and chaotic undercurrents. While reading him, I’ve often felt I was reading my own words.

Aakash– Another writer with a broad range of talent! He has three diverse blogs, all of a separate genre. His prose is spacious in scope, his poems are rhythmical, his writing in general, is rich in language. He is in command of an array of feelings. For a long time, I wasn’t aware of his poetry blog and marveled at his intriguing and lyrical tales. Quite recently I stumbled on his poetry page and was dazzled by his linguistic exuberance and technical flair.

Inkblot - She seems to me an intrepid explorer of the unseen & invisible because she is sensitive to many changes of colors unnoticed by an average eye. She primarily posts poetry and you can find whole fistfuls of masterpieces on her blog. There are abstruse allusions, casual, even cheeky tones, delightful wordplays, subtle exploration of loss, shapes of varied emotions… I can go on and on. Her occasional prose pieces are equally luminous.

Equivocationalist – I adore his style. His manner is playful and he is both funny and sophisticated. He selects words with a poet's precision and arranges them artfully which conjures up a vivid image. His vocabulary never dwindles to insensitivity. Those who think, I use ‘big’ words should visit him. I unfailingly learn a word or two in every trip. His sense of humor makes these ‘exercises’ quite enjoyable.

Phew! I'm done but taking a cue from
Punds , I’ll like to mention some other bloggers, I admire ..

Cheti – His posts are sporadic but of high quality.
IW – He is again, irregular but viscerally funny.
Merryweather – A tender poetess. She makes me ‘wonder’.
Dooka – I miss her dearly. I hope she comes back.

Basically, all who grace me with their visit are special to me so if I haven’t mentioned someone.. forgive me :(

This award was started

You have to award five others whose blog you think deserve this award.
Should you choose to participate, please make sure you pass this list of rules to the blogs you are tagging.
Write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.
Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.
Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote.
Please, remember to tag blogs with real merits, i.e. relative content, and above all — blogs that really get you thinking!

It took me a while to figure out html links. Thanks Vi for the help you’d provided long back. Thankfully the new blogger has made things easier for a dumbo like me. I hope these links work.
I'm not sure if I merited but the event of acquiring the coveted thinking blogger award almost coincides with my second blogging anniversary. In two years, I’ve posted about sixty write-ups, which isn’t remarkable in terms of quantity. However, as a yearly ritual, I read some old posts and felt, from a
wild kid I’m beginning to sound something like a woman. I sense a perceptible improvement in myself, which is heartening.
I read a 55-word story on Asuph’s blog today and thought of writing my own story in that many words on this ‘grand’ occasion.

Thoughts, sometimes they are wide and practical, sometimes potholed and well used, sometimes deep and silent, sometimes mysterious. At times, indigo and burnt sienna, periodically an apocalyptic vision with mixtures of dark and gray. They change color as they rise and fall, they are never all one thing. Consequently, she decided to be herself.

It was on off-handed try. I promise to get better ;)


Retrograding Glances

>> Wednesday, June 20, 2007

It is my story. Or perhaps, a part of it, is my neighbor’s. Forgive me, what took place forty-fifty years ago is clear to me like yesterday but what happened yesterday seems far away. It’s exacting to face the mirror. My face transformed into a stringed network of wrinkles while it waited for the joys of pubescence. That young girl, who stayed next door, was a replica of my youth. I read my own desires into her slender figure because as an erring mortal I could not be dispassionate. I solemnized my seventy-sixth birthday last month but even at this age, my life is not without it’s moment of unexpected excitement. To understand how completely the dead may survive, one had to meet me. I lived through her, in the outside world..

I occupied a four-bedroom dwelling alone, in perpetual darkness. During the day, intermittently, I fell into light sleep and dreamt I was falling into depths that were darker and tighter. Each time, it seemed I’d reached the bottom, the foundation collapsed under me and I began to sink again with greater speed. In the night, I sat on my terrace smelling the unknown past that had infiltrated the stale air. I looked at the neighborhood I’d grown up in through the tree leaves that had always trembled between my visions. In those times my adolescence came back to me with a sickening poignancy. I’d conceived that being the youngest meant, being the luckiest. Little did I know then, that this so-called luck came with a curse. You watch them all go one after the other and they never return. I comprehended myself to be no different from anything there that the wind was blowing on, my happiness of no relevance, in the dark torrent of nature.

The only ray reached my isolated dump when she came back from work, a few minutes. . preceding the sunset. She had left her parents and small town to chase her dreams; she said and had rented a flat in a house adjacent to mine. I don’t remember how we augmented fondness for each other and cultivated a queer friendship. I was her gray-haired friend and she dropped by everyday, prior to retiring in her own lonely chambers. . The light outside seemed brighter when she arrived and the rectangular patterns of sunlight wavered on the peeling wall, swirling, as though they mirrored the rushing waves of her young heart. Those days, she flashed with prismatic fires as she had found what she’d been looking for. Her man, who was: ‘half saint, half demon, half air, half shade horned like a buck winged like a bat, with the mind of a scholar and heart of a highwayman.’ These were her words or my own, I’m not sure because I’d known a man like that. But that part can wait..

All was well in our world, Rekha’s and mine. Yes, Rekha was her name, till my childhood friend, Shikha, returned. The very same day, Rekha behaved erratically. She kept clenching and unclenching her hands and when she spoke her words were slurred. She enunciated that she could not stand this prosaic city with its noise, hurry, dirt and greed for money. Then she stated something about her wretched love. The entire romantic claptrap wasn’t worth a penny so another philosophy followed. Those ‘romantic loves’ that our poets laud with such lofty phrases actually ruin lives. We were bubbles of the same ocean, moss from the same swap. If we could not love everybody, one should not love anybody. Finally she broke down and all this boiled down to one plain and simple clich√© that the man she was so earnestly in love with was presently dating her best friend.

I'd grasped that much of the love of our time is sheer betrayal. It is often hatred too but I did not know how to console her. It had put me back to an epoch, which I had thought of already belonging to an eternity. My own feeling was that the greatest virtue would be to abandon the body and all its iniquities. I wondered if the fight for survival could opiate her as loneliness had opiated me or she still dreamed of glorious adventures. She retreated and I was contemplating her case, when Shikha called unexpectedly. I had to accede though I did not wish to see her. She’d married and moved to Australia almost fifty years back. Her residence close by had been locked for past twenty years since her parents passed away. She was their only child and visited them occasionally. Though she had lost her husband long ago, I’d cerebrated she would never return. She had been implicated in one of the most painful experiences of my life. The embers of our friendship had turned into ashes, now cold, and blowing on them would neither revive nor extinguish anything.

I waited for her, pondering, what scared me more. The prospect of her being as old and wrinkled like me, or the fear that she would still be the beauty, she once was. She was a few months older and we’d grown together. I was vivacious, a lovely leaping gazelle and she was the lilting incomparable serene beauty. Together we could set any place on fire. The delicious irony was, we fell in love with the same man, Neel. It started as a joke. We’d met him through a common friend in a dingy theater, where he played Shakespearean characters. His pep, his oozing passion, his diligence and effectiveness had cast a deepening spell on young girls, who imagined themselves as Miranda or Rosalind and since then he figured amongst our favorite evening topics. We discussed his aquiline features and fantasized about his muscular body. In that dewy age, he wasn’t any less than an indolent starlet from motion pictures. I’d stealthily started meeting him and we’d even tossed ardent protestations of love at each other. I pretended to not care but I was afraid of losing him. Amidst this Shikha confided in a delirious tone that Neel had proposed to marry her. I noticed that she had flowered into writhing sheaves of blossom, which left me whimpering. I felt cheated and gave her an exaggerated account of my rendezvous with Neel. She listened quietly while tears glistened in her large eyes. We never mentioned him again.

Shortly after, she settled for a marriage arranged by her parents and left the country. We drifted for a long time, down the languid current of reminiscence. I sat unmoved though she tried many times to push her way back through the overgrown channels of past. I cruelly and willfully smashed up the charmed world of love and admiration around me with my incessant cynicism. I’d lost interest in Neel and never cared to inquire his whereabouts. But he remained with me, a word, a name, a guilt in my conscious. There wasn’t enough of me to die then but so I wished. ‘I want to die!’ how often do we say flippantly? Now I don’t need to say that. It is in the proximity.. I can sniff it.. and I’m petrified. How do we know what happens after death? I really hope that death is the end of all our nonsense. Ten years ago, someone apprised me, Neel expired mysteriously.
It was really late when Shikha came and enclosed me into a tight but chilly embrace. She appeared an image of despair. She was now a tall wrinkled bony woman, another version of my stout and furrowed form. She smelled of rosewater and carnations and smiled the smile of those who had long since discovered the vanity of all human endeavors. She oscillated between outbursts of light-chatter and periods of taciturnity when she seemed lost in her own thoughts. We discussed almost everyone. Her parents and mine, my brothers and her favorite cousin, their children, our common friends, carefully avoiding the topic of Neel. A sentimental apology toward a memory already classic was vacuous.

The breaking down of the barricade of reticence between us had discharged buried emotions. She exited but beside her, my private injuries paled. What was the difference between us after so many years? I had lost my vivaciousness, she had lost her beauty and we had both lost our youth. What had the years given us in return of what they had taken away? Some relationships take decades to develop subtle glow. It seemed we were close.

Meanwhile Rekha had transformed into a perfect specimen of lady talkers who vex you with no ideas and try to protect you even with one moment of silence. I’d believed that the present generation would’ve developed new attitudes between sexes. They would no longer demand faithfulness and would be putting an end to jealousy. It disappointed me. What was there left to preach her? nothing but silence. While with Shikha, our eyes met in a lonely simple way such as had never happened before. Tardily, it became my daily routine. A couple of hours after Rekha’s departure, Shikha breezed in and we plunged into reveries of childhood. We dined together and took after-dinner strolls. At times we passed a crematorium which waited for us and our ambitions & illusions.

Our favorite spot was a neighborhood park. On one such night we sat there mutely on a bench. That night had an aura of cosmic change and a hope that I’d never forsaken arose in me. Suddenly I discerned that the ground heaved up and the streetlights intertwined, elongated and foggy. The park began to circle like a carousel. We spotted our proverbial man but his cheeks were sunken and a sickly pallor lay on his face. He looked as if he was on the verge of sleep, his eyes were those of basset hound and his silver eyebrows grew in fat tufts. Soon, the difference began to disappear, as if some hidden power were quickly retouching his face to the image, which remained in my memory. We sat and observed, gripping each other’s hand, waiting for that moment to pass. I perceived a morbid and uncontrollable fear of death stating out in the form of a pair of dreadfully familiar ghosts, one clutching my hand and the other playing spiteful tricks and filling my nostrils with insidious dust. We were frozen for hours.

Finally the sun rose, like a coal glowing on the heap of ashes, casting a light, scarlet as the fire of hell. Shikha silently nodded to me and walked toward her own building & I dragged myself home. I felt drowsy and comforted just as I experienced after any kind of misfortune. It was, as if I’d been delaying the funeral of a death that had occurred long ago. The burial was over and now the process of grieving for my lost years could begin. I was ready to abandon the daily drudgeries, the joys and catastrophes of fools. I dozed off and my eyes would blink open, stunned by a dream I instantly forgot. Gradually, things stopped bothering me. I fell into a stupor for hours and was awakened by a thunderous pounding on the door. There stood Abhinav, my nephew with a small suitcase. I had so much adrenaline in me that I sensed no emotion.

I steered him in and looked at him questioningly. We exchanged few words when I heard another knock. Now Rekha popped in with couple of my neighbors. I felt so addled that I forgot to be surprised by that invasion. Rekha vanished for a brief moment to fetch snacks and drinks from her apartment while others asked aberrant questions about my health and well-being. I retained the impression of nocturnal horrors and answered in a daze. One of my neighbors, enjoined that he’d telephoned Abhinav after discussing with Rekha that in my interest I should be admitted to a ‘home’, as I needed help and round the clock vigilance. I was informed that I wandered in the night at odd hours and had spent the last night alone on the bench in the park. When I protested that I was with Shikha, Abhinav asked, who Shikha was. I reminded him of Aunt Shikha, about whom he had heard from family friends and had perhaps seen her too. He frowned and held my hand gently. He uttered it wasn’t possible and then divulged something that I already knew. Six months ago, in a distant country, Shikha had passed away, in an old age home.



>> Sunday, June 10, 2007

It is not the season
to lie beneath a mughal boulder
with your eyes on the sky
letting the cosmic harmonies rush through you
Nor the time to seek effectual solace
of whiskey and soda
and evoke a memory
to dig details of a crumpled past
beyond which there seems
no present hope of penetrating

It is time to remember
those moments spent with you
as a cruise almost chromolithographic
in vitality of reflection
an epoch in my growth
a verse that gains in perfection
in magnitude
in meaning
as one brings to its interpretation
more experience of life
a finer emotional sense

I’ll remember you
as merely one more grain of frankincense
in the altar of my insatiable passion
as one more testimony to life’s strenuous renewals
of natures secret to draw fragrance from corruption.

I’ll remember your kisses
their crisp and homely flavor
as a native dish -
one of the domestic fusions
for which the exile palate is supposed to yearn

I’ll remember you
quite simply
for I loved you
and it was the last bitterest price
I'd paid to learn
that love has a price
that it is worth so much
and no more

I’ll remember you
but on a long day
when the rain will plunge us both
Into our own separate dreams
I’ll nod and turn away

with that refusal of intelligence
which perpetually asks for more
which makes no contract
with the self of yesterday
which is enticed from its old purpose
by the guiles of the next best thing
it is a poignant case, but a common one
and the next best thing
usually wins............



>> Friday, June 8, 2007

Do you sleep that sleep
of conjugal indifference
as you were drawn toward
that luminous intemperance
where life is a peaceful act
spent in the close-packed
shelter of matrimony?

Are you content
In this austere beauty
In these primal sensations
of colorless well-being
as you’ve swallowed
the last noxious draught
of what they had termed
a filial responsibility?

Or you still retain
in its ineffable hue
A background azure
of intenser memories
the grotesque visions
from love-affair absolved
of marital contingency?

For wisdom my friend
though you pretend
can no further extend
than this first heaven
and from there on
everything is lust -
masquerading as divinity.

I can solely offer
my bare self
for here at least
life beats, as it is –
not brave and garlanded
but naked and grovelling
diseased and dragging
yet lifting its head
to whiff infinity.


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