If I search I’m sure I’ll find an answer, maybe even the answer.
It might be hidden in the spray created by splattering drops on roads,
Or in the morse code of the sun coming in and out of fast-moving clouds,
Perhaps in the lonely of a supermarket parking lot at 4 am.
If I search, I am sure to find the question to fit the answer as well,
It might be a matter of discovering silence in a fish market,
Or dancing with the soaring, swirling blue tongues of a sulphur fire.
Perhaps at the core of a supercell, in the juggernaut churn of its violence.
Maybe it lies in the life and times of the shifty, sub-atomic character: Muon,
That attends no social gathering or event for more than 2.2 microseconds,
Or in the infinite schemes and plans spinning in the round eyes of a two year old,
Whose pupils are always dilated to swallow the world whole.
Somewhere beneath this copper sulphate blue tent lie both parts:
The perfect duet of the right question and the right answer, waltzing away,
And I’d want to sit and watch their performance from beyond the rink,
If only someone would give me directions to the damn ticket counter.
Take the peeler,
And begin with your forearm,
You’ll be tempted to cry out. Don’t.
As the peels of bloody skin roll up and out,
Think of how ordinary pain is.
Blood is blood inside the veins,
Within the body it counts,
Outside, it loses all meaning,
Just drops of red on a marble floor.
Crack. crack. crack.
My bones break one by one,
But that’s okay,
I was bored today.
Are you bored tonight?
Is your heartbeat quite right?
Listen to it a while.
Don’t drop the peeler,
Keep going even when it’s a mess,
It’s a lovely night after all,
And later, I promise, you’ll get to rest.
It’s a 2 am ache,
Rising sharp at 5 pm,
Like every hour before it,
Like every hour after.
In the in-between minutes,
There are heartbeats,
Mingling and distracting
From this punctual vacuum.
I swear I deleted your face,
I don’t remember your name,
I can’t recall your smile,
Or your scent or taste.
I’ve removed your words,
The brand of your touch,
You don’t laugh in memories,
Because you don’t exist anymore.
You never were, never will be,
It was the easiest thing to do,
After a while of being the toughest,
Reached last but finished my race.
There’s the 2 am ache,
An SOS no other radio can receive,
Emitted and caught by atoms in my bones,
On a special kind of stupid loop,
It’s feedback without melodic genius:
This special, non-hummable 2 am ache.
Feathers danced around in my head as I set off from Andheri this Saturday evening. Much clarity had been bestowed upon my living situation and it made me grateful towards the universe and all its denizens.
6.30 pm wore dark, heavy clouds like a shroud making clairvoyantes out of all who beheld it. The prediction was singular: rain. Lots of it. My Uber ride was going to be a peaceful albeit long one with my tiny driver and his earnest driving style. The tragedy, and there always is one, was that my headphones were playing truant somewhere in my Colaba apartment and the only thing left for me to do during the one and a half hour long ride was to catch up with people I had been ignoring for a while. So I called everyone and their uncles. As I was talking to an old acquaintance, the interrupting, insistent beep of another soul trying to connect with me through the miracle of telecommunication played within my ear.
‘Nush Mom’ flashed on the mobile screen.
I continued with my current call for a few more minutes before hanging up and returning the call of the woman who off late had become a sort of messiah for me. It was her daughter, my supervisor, my close friend, and colleague who answered with a damning, “Dude, you forgot your charger!”
There were dark clouds in my mind now. All of a sudden I had to preserve battery like it was non-renewable resource. I informed the three people who would most take offence at my falling off the grid and then put my phone on airplane mode.
There is much to be said for staring out of the window of an AC car during rainfall. Even if you are joyful, it shall, given time, bring you down to reflections of a melancholic nature: did I spend too much on that dress? Why is my rent so god damn high? Will I ever find the perfect man? Why is Andheri so far?
Everything was going as per plan till we began our approach to the sea link and then: the world vista changed. There was Worli’s skyline hazed out by the moist grey of clouds. It was like someone had smudged the tops of the buildings with an impatient stroke. The sky, had it always been so large? And clouds the perfect pause to a fulmination?
To hell with battery. I whipped out my mobile and began to take pictures. I don’t know what it is about these ethereal moments that make me want to hold onto them at any cost even if it is through the cheapest imprints and saddest pixels.
And there was more to come.
On the sea link to the right, the sun was setting and the sky was streaks of the most magnificent pink-reds, beset with blue-gray clouds. It was another world. Like someone had cut open the horizon and we could for once glimpse a different reality. The clouds and the lights and the colours were arranged to form the breathtaking terrain of a different planet, a planet with arachnid like creatures, perhaps the scene of a war (think Starship Troopers in a gorgeous setting). I opened the window of the cab and took pictures, a strange desperation enjoining my finger to press the capture button again and again. And then, out of nowhere, epiphany! I was so desperate not to miss this moment that I was missing the moment. So I let go of the phone and marvelled and sighed under the drama of the heavens.
There is beauty that holds your heart in a tight fist and refuses to let go. There is beauty that makes you aware of a yearning hum present within your bones that you’ve only just noticed for the first time. There is beauty that makes you forget the ugliness and banality of everything you have ever seen. This was that beauty.
The next panorama was the sombre green light of Haji Ali Dargah set against the sky roiling above the sea. It looked eerie. A beacon, but not of hope. A call, expecting none in return. A symbol, that meant too much to mean anything. This kind of dark beauty made me want to put the entire scene in a crystal ball and watch it, hypnotised forever.
The great monsoon pulchritude is to be seen to be believed.
Rain brings more than just water.
Rain brings stories.
Let’s set the AC at a temperature that freezes my soul. To preserve it from the canker spreading across my organs like pus-oozing sores. What is this pus made of, you ask? Nothing. It is the gagging vomit that heaves up nothing while twisting the stomach inside out.
Turn green, turn green, red of my fucking life, for once turn green.
Everyone wants a piece of control but there is none left to steal.
The larder runs dry. From the cobwebs lining its shelves I sew a dress and then, as an afterthought, cut it up into ribbons. These ribbons I leave in the scorching sun so they turn to dust. The greedy wind takes this dust away to a land of no consequence. Then I start all over again.
Thank God for Mondays!
Did I chase peace out the door like a stray cat? It doesn’t come around anymore. I keep a bowl of milk on the window sill each day, but still no cat, and all I get is spoilt milk.
There it is. Brewing in the corner of my eye: darkness that eats light whole. How long could it stay away? I light lamps everywhere, that’s what I’ve taught myself to do. It’s the only way I survive. But the dark always watches from beyond the boundary of my light, sitting at the edge of my laughter, waiting. It is a shrieking gale that comes time and again to blow the flames out. And at times I’m too tired to light the lamps all over again.
I’ve been enchanted by a magician’s trick, too focused on the diversion, on the distraction to see through the illusion. Now the trick becomes clearer, and I wake up from this drugged stupor I’ve been in, happy and high in my head. The withdrawal is acid. In my heart, in my gut, in my windpipe and in my sight.
If I am one of the lost, floating on these dark placid waters in my little dingy with the rest of these adrift souls, then I see more than I should to remain calm. I taste my purpose and don’t understand its flavour: like seeing a person you have loved your whole life and being unable to conjure up a drop of love for them. You know you should love them because you always have, and yet one day the love is dead and it has been dead so long, you didn’t even notice when it turned to dust and vanished.
I am appalled at how comfortable I am in the jaws of this staid, numb life. Afraid to rock the dingy, afraid to follow through on what I know makes me happy. Always the fear. Be brave, the magician told me once, as he pulled out the rabbit from his hat and handed it to me. I thought he intended it as a gift solely for me. But the rabbit was the diversion: a side road into the pretty countryside when the moon was at its beautiful best. For that one night, the world was lit silver and blue and my mind knew no other colour. But then came morning, bright and blazing and yellow, and I was suddenly reacquainted with the sun and how little I had done to reduce the distance between us. The sun no longer questioned me, I had silenced him long ago. He had been my dream and now he asked me for the first time in years, “What happened to you?”
When I whisper about this darkness to other lost souls they shush me. With fluttering hands and soothing murmurs they stroke my bruises. “Don’t think too much, here drink.” “Don’t worry too much, here smoke.” “Don’t be too much, here eat.” “Don’t say too much, here sleep.” For them tomorrow is a land of perpetual comfort. Today is just an off day, tomorrow will be good. But today, in this pain, I feel more awake, more alive than I have been in a long time. I don’t want pipe dreams. I want the jagged truth. Even if I cut myself holding it to my chest. I don’t want to wake up to a tomorrow that numbs me, that allows my mind to anaesthetise itself so I can go through the day without screaming out loud. I don’t want a tomorrow as much as I want a today.
And I don’t want a today as much as I want a now.