Chew on it.

Chances are all we have.

Month: October, 2012

Detour

I’m at my grandparents’ place.

Took a walk in the evening. Borivali’s little neighbourhood has changed so much.

The well outside the temple has disappeared. The dairy is gone, along with all its buffaloes and haystacks and smell of cow-dung that reminded me of walks with Acchappa. I still recognise some shopkeepers, but only one recognised me as Nambiar’s kid. The lane seems longer. More Gujjus. The building next to ours has a gate, and it’s locked the gate at the back which was a shortcut to the temple Aaba used to take me to. The low wall opposite the building has a pointed surface now- so I can’t make my kids walk on it like Dad let me.  The building on the main road with wide balconies and old aunties has been pulled down and there’s a new structure there, with glass exteriors and an HDFC Bank (with ATM) instead- all shiny in a dusty, rusted kingdom. The laundry’s window has sunk in lower thanks to the BMC’s road widening (and thus heightening) project. The photo studio that had my neighbour’s portrait in a red lehenga on the wall is now dusty and insignificant. The other end of the temple lane is narrower. I’d have missed it. The fish market there is dark and dingy, and the kittens have all grown up or gone away. Acchappa’s window can be seen only from one spot, and if you cross over to the other side of the building that blocks the once ample view, you can see the bedroom window of Acchappa’s house. A building named ‘Something-Tower’ is 4 floors high.

Little things that mark my memory that was created when I was led around holding a finger guiding me. Quaint little worlds that I was part of and now I am a spectator to.

Ordinary Lives- 2

“What time is it?”

She checked the watch by the bedside.

“6.41”

He grunted. And turned to go back to sleep. Drawing the blanket over his head. His back to the window, where the sunlight had turned the world an awkward blue. She noted the absence of iron grills. That she would take a while to get used to them.

Then she drew the same blanket over her head and closed her eyes.

When she opened her eyes again, she couldn’t see where she was. But she could feel her breath bouncing off his neck. She closed her eyes and rested her palm softly on the small of his back.

An hour or so later, the maid rang the bell.

“I’ll get it.”

She turned to face the window, taking in the light reflecting off the walls of the building opposite. She wore her clothes and slippers, and stood in front of the mirror. She heard him laugh. She heard the utensils move about and a knock on the door.

“Plans for the day?”

“None. Apart from work.”

He shut the door behind him and sat on the bed. And waited.

“Okay.”

She picked up his suitcase and put it on the bed. They opened it and began sorting his clothes. A pile of clothes that needed washing, even though they were clean, was forming besides her.

After a while, they leaned back. He pushed the suitcase off the bed with his legs and it landed on the floor with a thud. She put her head on his shoulder and closed her eyes.

“I forgot your T-shirts.”

She lifted her head to look at him.

“Did you buy them?”

“No. That’s what I forgot.”

“And the external HD?”

“Other bag.”

“2 TB?”

He nodded and rested his head on the wall behind, his neck against the sunlight. She rested her head back on his shoulders for a brief moment, and then got up to fetch her laptop. On the way, she reminded the maid that the house will be shut the next weekend.

When she returned, he opened his eyes, and a moment later, stretched his arm toward her. She kept her laptop down and smelled his open palm. He rolled his arm around her and they sat there, waiting for nothing.

Ordinary Lives

“So listen, I’ll be home tomorrow.”

“Good. How’s the trip been so far?”

“Not bad. Not entirely good. Have you ever tried counting the douche-bags you meet on the way?”

“No. Why? Too many this time?”

“Yes. And I started counting only on the second half of the tour.”

“How far did you go?”

“6.”

“That’s not too bad. It’s less than what we encounter every day back there, right?”

“Yes. It’s just that seeing them all over again makes me want to explode.”

“How do you define douche-bag?”

“Like, how I classify a person as douche-bag?”

“Yup.”

“I don’t know. I think I’m too brash some of the time. If I don’t like you, DOUCHE-BAG!”

He came home the next day. She was out buying butter, and a facial scrub, which she had forgotten to add to her list. She came back to find the door opened and his shoes on the rack. The bathroom door was closed and the water was running inside. She put his misaligned suitcase back in place and walked to the kitchen, keeping the butter in the fridge and walked back again to keep the scrub in the cupboard opposite the bathroom.

The house smiled.

He was taking a little longer than usual, she realised, as her bladder tugged at her.

She knocked at the bathroom door.

Silence.

She knocked again.

And waited.

“Drowning yourself?”

Do minute, bas.”

She walked into the room, their room. The scent of the cologne was back. The month away wasn’t easy, but it was getting simpler to live by. She took off the clothes from near the window, sun-dried in the winter heat, and started folding them. The lady in the house opposite their window was moving about in the kitchen. As the lady walked out of the kitchen, she realised he was out already.

Khaana is ready.”

Baahar what’s so interesting?”

“I keep wondering what she cooks.”

The skin on her back turned to goose-flesh as he walked closer- but she was used to this too.

“Done cooking or need help?”

“It’s ready.”

He took his pile of clothes from the dried lot to his cupboard. His wet feet making their way around the bedroom. She looked at the floor and made a note of where not to step, turned back and drew the curtains as he started dressing.

Without glancing at him, she walked out of the room and entered the bathroom. Then, later, to the kitchen to set the table. When she did, she sat and waited for him to join her.

“Cabbage, no?”

He had used her soap. Then she remembered. She had used and depleted his over the month. Even though hers was right next to it. Unopened.

“Yup.”

He dragged back the chair opposite her and sat down. She looked up at him for the first time in a month. He was busy serving himself food. The dark hair, ruffled and with streaks of grey, needed a haircut- but it wasn’t that terrible. She saw the side-burns catch a bit of grey and thought of George Clooney. Her mind smiled. The chest was bloating a little, but nothing that a few days of a gym routine couldn’t take care of. The uneven tan was more evident today. She looked at his eyes, and for a moment, was taken aback by them looking back at her. The eyebrow rose.

“Eat?”

“Yes, eat.”

Epiphany

I stood opposite the mirror after this last conversation, at the wash basin. With all intention of rubbing off the tears and the sadness that came along with you being sad.
Then, I looked up and stared at my face. Swollen eyes. Bloated nose. Wet cheeks and the strands of hair clinging on to them.
It struck.
You made me feel for you more than I thought myself capable of. You drove away the conceit and the selfishness. Tonight, you made me a better person by letting me shed your tears.
I smiled at myself. Suddenly aware of how you’ve brought me to life. And how this weeping wasn’t for a heartbreak, but a heartache. How I will try every time to pull us out of the lows and try harder for the happiness on bad days. On days when it seems natural to cry. Aware of how we’re in this together, irrespective of the geography.
Madness is abstract. Madness is magic. Madness is welcome.
For that, love, thank you.

Melee.

So many secrets, so little space

One little turn, another lost face

So many stories, one tired mind

Which lost me did I leave behind?

Names and places opening my eyes

Can’t find my way home even if I tried

Wandering too far, following the heart

I’m at the end, but where did I start?

Forgotten people & their dark songs

All in a little room where I belonged

One little window and you leapt out

I was asleep, I was asleep throughout.

Silences lingered with their little folk tales

A moment of peace before the siren wails

Or is that quiet a warning to impending screams?

A bloodied toenail in the street of dreams.

Sturdy my friend, let’s stop this sting

Let the distances solidify, let our ship sink

But don’t drift any farther, I’ll be alone again

From my heaven of pain, my hell of strength.

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