Saturday, January 17, 2009

My private Oasis

Saturday night.
A sprawling grey road.
Life after life whizzes by past me as I walk alone, overwhelmed by civilization, by concrete and a night brighter than a day.
The sky cloaks itself in black, rendering itself immune to my searching gaze, immune to the suffocating modernity around me.

I just walk on. A headset for company.

All of the stars, are fading away
Just try not to worry, you'll see them someday

Just take what you need
and be on your way...

A smile.
My private oasis.

Friday, January 16, 2009

For Goya

I look in the doorway. Empty.
Closed doors. Blind windows.
It's dark inside. Outside.

The night freezes. The bed is a cold, hard stone.
My heart refuses to close my eyes.
I close them. They open.

Sounds. They seek me out.
Footsteps on gravel.
Applause for a matador.
A paper torn.
Dying leaves.
Incoherent pleas.
Wailing violins.
Clawing into my mind. Tearing me apart.

The voices. The visions.
My paltry afflictions.
If only I could wish them away. If only.

There is a stranger in the mirror tonight.
Do I know him? Do I?
I have his eyes.
And he has my face.

Contented with his two-dimensional existence.
Unperturbed by the silences that prowl around him.
Untroubled by the travesties of this world.
Blind to the burdens he knows not.
Silent. Within his lines. Within himself.

If only I could be him.
I am everything he is, yet I am not.
I am more.
More than ink. More than lines.
More than I need to be. More than I want to be.

If only I could subtract myself from him and just be.
If only I could know what not to know.
If only I could be a figure in ink.
If only I could be a paper.
If only I could be him.
If only I could be.
If only I could.
If only I.
If only.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Dirge for a childhood

An archway into a room, imposts darkened by a lifetime of hands brushing it on the way past.
A curtain where a door should have been.
Peach coloured walls.
A TV in the corner, a foldable calendar on top of it, displaying a marriage of a blue sky and a bluer sea. A VCR in the broken shelf beneath, and a box full of incompletely labelled video tapes.

A window grill, worn away by time, rust screeching through.
A black tape player shrouded in a white lace knit cover on the window sill, its 'rewind' button missing. Music cassettes strewn about.

A groove in the wall that is a bookshelf. Brown, wornout books of literature. A pen stand full of sketch pens and pencils. An old, dark grey dressing table. A lavender talc. A stack of folded papers, a red ink pen and a photo frame with a grey picture. A little red diary.

Another groove in the wall that is a bookshelf. Old newspapers, notebooks, school books, comics and ancient stories. A schoolbag flung into the corner. A pair of dusty school shoes, socks neatly tucked into the soles. Curtains drawn across a window, scarlet pimpernels glowing on a fluttering fabric.

A doublecot with a white headboard, the decolam broken at the edges, brown patches showing. A little alcove behind the headboard, storage space for spare beds, bedsheets and pillows.

A taunt, some movement.

Little, chubby fingers on the headboard. A figure concealed in its hiding place, little eyes peering out from behind the sheets. Another figure tiptoeing towards it from the other side of the bed. A hider, a seeker.

A squeal. A triumphant scream.
Peals of laughter.

A threnody from the future. A dirge for a childhood.

Friday, January 9, 2009


Where am I?
Not here. Anywhere but here. Nowhere but here.
Here. Nowhere. Everywhere.

A dream that is a life? A life that is a dream?

They say that some reality is born out of dreams and some dreams are born out of reality. But what about something that belongs to neither, the netherland, the nowhere that exists everywhere?

Frozen, beyond expression, beyond emotion, my knees give way to the ground as life steps down from its pedestal and reaches out to me. The sky learns to smile down at me, the land learns to endure me and the air learns to breathe me in as the world finally wakes up to me. It slows down for once and lends me a glimpse into its clandestine intricacies. Beyond days, beyond nights, beyond dreams, beyond reality. The past and the future crumble into a blank as I step out of time and watch it amble along, history in its wake. Free from callous clocks and taunting walls, it is then, in that nowhere, that my thoughts finally find their words, and my silence finds its peace.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Random Notes

Note 1 -
To capture the essence of its time, to imbibe in itself the everything, the ether that pervades the milieu that creates it, that is what all art aspires to. Take a Goya, a Michelangelo, a Kafka, a Tchaikovsky, a Van Gogh, a Mozart, a Goethe, a Turner, a Dostoyevsky, a Cartier-Bresson, a Matisse, a Neruda, or any other great piece of art, it is redolent of the times that created it, like a grave where a handful of the sands of its time have been scooped up, funnelled through the artist's genius and encapsulated for the future by his vision. It is for this precise reason that the artist exists, to immerse himself in and carefully preserve the vicissitudes of his time, to elevate his work to the pantheon of greatness, of art worthy enough to be called the graveyard of time.

Note 2 -
Is touch mutual? If I touch something, does it necessarily mean that it touches me? Or, if I'm touched by something, does it mean that I've also touched it in return?

Note 3 -
Poetry is like a solitary streetlamp raging on in the depths of a night. It illuminates only the trifles that lie within its reach, leaving the rest of the prodigious night to your imagination.

Note 4 -
One of the harshest realisations you could have in life is when you realise for the first time that time is not a continuum, that you've been lied to when you were led to believe that it flows in a straight line which, of course, it does not. It might seem only just - some might even go so far as calling it poetic - that man's most complex invention, time, should be represented by his simplest, the straight line. But life isn't poetic, nor is nature. And it would be a mistake to expect time to be. After the realisation, your first feelings would be those of fear (as, doubtlessly, many of the first-timers reading this would be experiencing right now), then panic, then (in some cases) relief and finally (in all cases) indifference.

Note 5 -
Life is like an escalator. Once you get on it, there's no getting back. It takes you where it wants to, whether you want it to or not, and delivers you at the end, whether you want it to or not.

Extended Note 5.1 -
Trying to go back in life and time is like trying to go down an escalator which is going up. It's irritatingly painful, and even if you succeed in moving back a little, you never get to stay there for long. And above all that, the harder you try, the stupider you look.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

For a little girl

She walked up to me and said, 'Popcorn, sir?'

I said, 'No, thanks', and continued walking towards my car. But I could hear her walking behind me, requesting me to buy because she hadn't finished her quota for the day and the night was already done. I thought about all I'd just spent just before walking there and took out a ten from my wallet and turned around to face her. She seemed to misconstrue that as a donation and said, sternly, 'I don't take charity, sir. If you want to, you can buy the popcorn, it's twenty a pack.' I smiled at her and took out another ten, took the pack and walked away to my car.

And, after our little meeting, here's what our respective lives choose to do with us. I get to get into my car, switch on the AC, pop in a CD of my choice and enjoy a marvellous drive under a velvety bright, starry sky. And what does she get to do? Roam around parking lots pursuing strangers and requesting them to buy something they know very well they don't want. Telling them the sad story that is her life, hoping, praying, pleading. Crushing her own spirit, one word at a time. Fair?

I'm just the fortunate one, and she isn't? Life isn't just? And she's supposed to lap up these philosophical treatises and just carry on with her simply 'unfortunate' life? Is that all there is to it? I live with a little girl who is of a similar age yet knows nothing of that. That life isn't about luxuriously decorated duplex homes, ready-to-be-beckoned housemaids, timely arranged meals, chauffeured sedans and designer accessories. Many of us don't. We've lived life, but we don't know how we'd feel if life lived us. We don't know how it would feel to haggle for a single rupee, how it would feel to never know where your next meal would come from, how it would feel to beg somebody for a trifle and get pushed away, how it would feel to be at the mercy of the whims of a cruel life. We don't. Because we choose not to. Fate, we tell ourselves. That word, that impotent word that life teaches us to fall back on when confronted with a question we don't care enough to answer.

We live in an alternate reality, insulated from the truth, looking at it through tinted windows that glorify us and eliminate everything else unpleasant to our sight. How we remove those melancholic sidewalks from our life, how we neglect the ground realities that permeate the consciousness of the country we live in, how we choose not to know that three-quarters of the country we live in survives on less that twenty rupees a day, the same amount I paid for that pack of popcorn. Do we even care that we live in a country which, at the root of it all, irrespective of what overpaid, Armani-clad executives in air conditioned boardrooms may proclaim, still remains a poor old woman, with an ailing heart? Are we doing all we can? When will we realise that placing a few good apples in a basket full of rotten ones cannot hide the stench?

But let's leave it there. I don't want to digress, and I'm not here to judge. I want this to be just about the little girl, nothing else. What should I have done? Maybe I should have bought her whole bag and helped out her quota, maybe I should have written down my number and given it to her to contact me in case she ever needed any help. I don't know what I could or couldn't have done to alleviate her pain but I can't shake the image off my mind. Burnt into my memory, that look in her eyes. Innocence tainted with anguish. Tears prowling at the edges, sick of life, sick of herself, sick of me, sick of you.

There are many emotions stirring inside me at this moment but I admit, above all of them, I'm scared. Scared for her. Scared beyond everything that has ever scared me. Life takes the best of us and breaks us down, what chance does a little girl have?

Friday, January 2, 2009


To exist and yet be unable to do,
To do and yet be unable to see,
To see and yet be unable to feel,
To feel and yet be unable to touch,
To touch and yet be unable to understand,
To understand and yet be unable to know,
To know and yet be unable to say,
To say and yet be unable to mean,
To mean and yet be unable to be,
To be and yet be unable to exist.

That is the semantics of life.