Sunday, August 30, 2015

Be you

If I try,
If I really do,
I may wake up one day
To find myself
Next to someone new.

But it won’t be you,
It won’t be you.

If I look,
If I look hard enough,
I may find someone too,

But it won’t be you,
It won’t be you.

It won’t be the kiss,
That makes me smile from inside.
Or the look of warmth,
That you never hide.

It’ll be another smile,
On another’s face.
In another time,
In another place.

Maybe I’ll be happy,
And the skies will be blue,
But it won’t be with you.

It won’t be you.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Have you ever seen the rain?

Jimmy couldn't see the rain.
He couldn't see the stars either.
He could feel the heat off of them, radiating from a million light years away.
A curious speckled warmth in the cool delicious part of the night.
He couldn't hear the whisper of the drops as they sped past him, dissolving into the hissing ground.
Each crystal clear droplet zipping past, as cool as ice, but he couldn't see it.
The grass beneath his feet danced erratically, to music of its own, to a drumbeat with no rhythm, but their bobbing, bent heads were beautiful nonetheless.
He couldn't breathe in the heady earthy scent, pregnant with promises.
He couldn't even see the inky blue night wash over his skin, illuminating it from within.
He could only see her eyes. He could just feel her gaze completely, in all its forms, penetrating his being with remorse.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Piku

Today, a tear down the middle. Right down the middle. She hands it to me quietly, smiling tightly, her eyes looking down all the time. She adjusts her heavily embroidered dupatta. She gets many compliments on it. Mrs. Sharma even asks where she got it from.

It’s purple, so it matches what she’s hiding just under the neckline. She says the colour bled off. Well, I don’t see how the colour could make her wince as she adjusts it higher and higher, engulfing her beautiful long neck, strangling her slowly.



Meanwhile, I resume looking down. The slow whirr of the machine starts up again, and I, with my ability to heal, begin patching her life back together.





For much of the time, I have known Janki. I have known her life, and sitting here, I have seen her bloom and wilt and wither.

My talent is to repair and renew and restore whatever little life resides in the fabric. Heal with stitches, hide it in the seam, unseen, yet a tear can never be undone. A scar remains always, pointing fingers at what happened, raising questions.



I never ask, I just know. I always know. Why she visits, what she brings and how I fix these only elements in her life that are fixable.

She dilutes her fear when she visits, it is visible on her face. Seeing the fabric pretend to be new, she can also stitch up a smile and remind herself of the gossamer nights of her dreams.



But the nights of her reality are torn where the edges meet. I have sown together her salwars, ripped and stained at the fork. So many times, it is hard to believe that they were accidents. But more so because I know they are not.



Sanjay honks his horn in the distance, waiting for her to return to the car. Impatient, as he always is, his diminutive Maruti unable to contain his expansive anger.

Their two children sit sullenly in the backseat, having visibly been reprimanded for being children.

She gives me a tight smile, “I’ll pick these up tomorrow evening. Thank you.”

Janki scurries away, holding her head down. A habit that is unbecoming of her.



This is when I remember her in my past. Not this present that has been crafted for her, not the past that may have been hers, but my memories. I can remember that girl who would come skipping up to my father as I sat shyly in the background, ripping seams. I would look at her and wonder how someone could pack so much happiness in one face. Moving only my eyes, I would look at her, being certain to keep those ripping noises going.



She would see me stealing glances and smile. ‘Namaste’ to my father and she would be off, laughing with her group of friends, dressed in tight salwar kameezes hardly hiding their blossoming figures, their hair flowing behind them. No one wonder I had so many ripped seams to tackle.



Today though, I see one of her old friends crossing her path, she is too busy looking down to notice that half hearted smile that comes her way. Gathering her child into her arms, Janki’s old friend slowly fades away into the narrow lanes, the ghost of smile fading on her lips.




I can remember clearly those days, when as children, she would come to me. I would, in my idle time, away from the stern gaze of my father, embark on flights of fancy with her.



While she waited for her mother’s little nicks and tears to be healed, she would join me behind the shop, hiding small little laces and colourful bits in her hands. Barely able to contain the fluffy wads of cloth with uneven edge, she would open her palms and they would bloom forth, dropping into my lap.



We would sit together, stringing our bits of imagination into a large tale. Where the blue shreds, never the perfect shade, would be the sky and the green fabric with the lilies on it would be our garden.



The largest piece of cloth we could find became our roof, and we set up our house in there. Grinning at each other, imagining what life would be like, 10 years from then.



She would constantly catch me staring at her in wonder. I would constantly be marvelling at her tinkling laugh and would simply appreciate the presence of a female force around me.




I would treasure these precious few minutes I had away from him, the few minutes I imagined a life differently. Then my father’s voice would ring out in the distance and I would have to run back, breaking this fantasy land apart.



Janki shuddered as she came upto me today. She gets out of the car and there it is, a tremor that courses through her being. It’s hard to understand the expression behind it though. I don’t know if it is fear, or disgust or just the changing wind. But in her demeanour, I’ve never actually seen her let herself go even this much.

When she comes up to me, her nearly unbound tousled hair and her eyes unlined with kohl remind me of the Janki of my past. So much so that it prompts me to say “Kuku,” the name of the wife of my childhood.

She smiles, startled, her eyes wide.

Looking away, she stares into empty space, lost in an internal soliloquy. Suddenly, she straightens up, tucking a few flyway strands behind her ears. She’s spots her husband in the distance, sullenly indulging his children’s demands for toys, haggling mercilessly.

He heads up to her, tells her he’s leaving for his mother’s and that her absence was appreciated. He disappears into the dusk, giving her a fleeting opportunity to kiss her children goodbye and run after them, tucking in their shirts.

She then comes back and stands facing away from me, listening to the staccato whirr of the machine. Her shoulders are loose as she unties her unravelling bun. Her hair streams across her face with the wind as she turns to face me.

“Why?” she asks, an intent expression on her face.

I look up.

A single tear rolls down her cheek, unabashed. Her dupatta is askew this time. She looks infinitely beautiful.

I stare at her as she holds me gaze. A moment passes, a couple of heartbeats, a veritable eternity.

“You made the choice.” I say.

She capsizes, crestfallen.

“What a cruel game.” She murmurs, her eyes bright with an intangible decision.



I smile, her decision falters. I hand her hale and hearty kurta back, she takes it slightly huffily, hesitates as her hand touches mine, pays me and heads off, meandering aimlessly through the market, pausing to examine the tinkling glass bangles across the road.



As the gaslights come on, I pull the shutters down and direct myself towards my evening tea and cigarette. She is sitting right next to the tea stall, cloaked by her locks. A henna pattern slowly describing the artist’s weary hand on her palm.



I sit down behind her, unnoticed, place a cup of tea next to her and light up.

She picks it up with her free hand without looking back and takes a tentative sip.



“I didn’t know you smoked.” She said.

“I’ve needed other vices,” I say.

She smiles and bends down to examine the pattern in the flickering light. She pays the mehendiwala without complaint and turns to get up.

Standing across from me, she taps her foot. Her impatience is surprising. It’s like watching a seam unravel with a single tug.

I rise quickly and fall into step beside her.

We walk to the cycle stand silently, she knows where I am parked even before I do, picking on the red cloth tied around the bell. I untangle it from the stand, straddle it and wait for her to place herself daintily of the pile of clothes in the carrier. She was always a fan of the cushion it created.



We ride silently to her home, her hand on my shoulder, tightening at the turns.



I stop in front of her house, visibly tired. The fading vigour of my youth and the weight of her age glistening on my forehead. She invites me in and I follow, my throat is parched.

She removes her dupatta and hurries into the kitchen, brings me a steel tumbler full of cold water and then heads back to start the water for tea. I don’t even pretend to protest.



She places the tea in front of me, a modest smattering of biscuits along side, I pick one up, dip it in my tea and swallow the mushy mass. I place my cup of tea down and she comes back from the kitchen with her own.



From my pocket, I withdraw a scrap of cloth. It’s a gentle cerulean blue, the kind that doesn’t say if it’s dawn or dusk.

She places her cup on the table, and sits down next to me with a thump. She breathes through it deeply. It smells of scissors, cotton and a bit of sweat.



“How long?” she asks.

“Six years.” I say.

“Why?”

“It’s the sky you wanted.”



She looks at me, then buries her face into the blue sky of her dream home, lets down only a tear or two before she regains her composure. Looking up at me, she says “Thank you. For the future I could have had.”



I raise my hand, hesitatingly, and wipe off her tears. My hand rests on her cheek as I hold her chin. I pull her closer, lean in and she closes her eyes.






A week passes by before I see her again. Every night since, she has accompanied me in my thoughts, I have seen the anger burst forth and take tough decisions. I have seen myself turn into a stern father to her children. I have also seen unhappy endings for the man who tears her life apart everyday. I have seen many things in my mind.



The tip of the needle mesmerises me as it weaves in and out of countless fabrics, poking holes through what was whole, to heal.



I am disturbed out of reverie by a subdued plaintive voice calling for attention. It’s her son.



She stands in the distance, furtively looking into the depths of her handbag, trying to find something that isn’t there. She doesn’t look up.



I take the packet of torn stories and begin piecing them together. This time there is only one story in there. My mind’s eye can see that piece of cloth lying on the floor, crumpled, devoid of her curvaceous body. I can see the seam on the side torn, I can see my hands tearing that seam, I can even see everything that happened after.



I move it mechanically under the needle, trying to piece together a story that I wish would remain unravelled. Like her hair that was a curtain above me as she moved. Like her soul that came undone when she did. Like her tight fist that opened up to me. Like her.



This is one tear, I cannot heal. I wish not to. Yet I do, and soon, it is no longer a crumpled tear of the past, but a blank canvas.



She does come to pick it up. I hardly look at her, she hardly looks at me and picks up the kurta to examine it. She turns it inside out, and the lining is a gentle cerulean blue, the kind that doesn’t betray if it’s dawn or dusk.



For one blissful moment, her eyes widen, look at me and come undone. She places the money next to me sewing machine and walks away, wiping her eyes on the sky of her dreams. A future that could’ve been,



“Goodbye Kuku,” I say.



Saturday, January 17, 2015

Nothing

Suspended in your palm,
Lies a secret.

It's one that absolves us
Of the truth we harbour,
That one day we will realize,
Nothing.

Waiting to coalesce into your blood,
Just out of touch,
It shines in the moonlight
Temptingly.

But one day you will realize,
When the secret hits your heart,
That you knew
Nothing.

So it sits there,
Glinting,
Suspended in the silence,
That we refuse to break.

For we are afraid when we open our mouths,
To say all that we always wanted to,
That out will tumble amongst the pearls of experience and diamonds of troubles,
The things that will be remembered are,
Nothing.