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Young With Scabby Knees

Whether we be old or bald.

6 months hence: Piertotum Locomotor

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How can the sky be the limit when it in itself is limitless?

I laughed, I cried.

I fell, I flew.

I learned.

I grew.

Fuck us.

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Oh, we do not deserve this world.

You may think you’re a traveller, not a tourist.

But, no, neither of you deserve this world.

None of us do.

The world is big, and you are small.

You do not own any of it.

The world was here first.

Fuck you.

Fuck us.

Bannerghatta.

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It is strange that we need ‘sanctuaries’ for animals and birds; to think we think we own the planet. I look all around me and can’t help but shrug, can’t help but reject this too. The irony that runs in the name of civilisation is a thing of distaste and of wonder; oh how we ogle at these beasts, oh how we think we care for them by binding their spirits that were born free. I cringe at the sighs, the gasps and the cries that fill my ears. I look up at the clear blue sky, and I know where my heart lies, where I lie – and perhaps where their hearts lie too. This one and every other one’s for the clouds.

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October 8th, 2016
Bangalore, India

 

Who are you today?

Imagine two people. Both are fiercely independent and both like quiet. One wishes to carpe diem unto infinity. He wants to walk a million miles with no accoutrements, no entanglements and no predispositions, and then a million miles more. He wants to sleep under the night sky and wake up to the sound of waves lapping at his travel-worn feet, with the smell of salt in the gentle warm breeze whispering sweet nothings to the bare bits of his skin. He wants to roll in cold, white snow and swim in oxbow lakes even though he never learnt how to swim. He wants to stand on the edge of the world with arms akimbo, wishing he had a cape fluttering behind him and an S imprinted on his chest. He wants to dangle his legs from a sea-facing cliff and eat food from a box with chopsticks. He does not know how to use chopsticks nor can the food, the name of which he knows not, be eaten with chopsticks but he never fancied limitations and definitions anyway. He wants to light a cigarette – only light it – whilst sitting on a precipice; he’d stub it out on the rocky surface, and then flick it into the nothingness below him, as if the cigarette were an ivory striker on a carrom board he had grown up playing with. He wants to sit atop a speeding bus that is weaving its way through the labyrinth of roads nestled in hills and valleys, with wind in his hair, music in his ears and smell of wet copper red earth mixed with dew-kissed leaves smeared on his skin. He wants to watch the northern lights from his yellow tent with nothing but a flask of coffee that his gracious hostess, from the night before, lent him, a torch light and a book that he bought from the local post office, because he was overwhelmed to find that they stocked novels in his spoken language, especially after having meandered for so many days through kindness and beauty of unknown tongues and origins.

The other one breeds realism of the paranoid variety in every molecule of his being. He likes safety nets, contingency plans and insurance. He is anxious of under-using the faculties he was born with and of misusing the privileges he unfairly receives. He likes the nighttime. He’s not an insomniac; he simply thinks sleep is a waste of breath that could be used to knit the worlds that his perception of reality has denied him thus far. He likes order, design and to-do lists. He has more calendars, checklists and Post-Its pasted on the walls of his room than he has posters and pictures. He likes to sleep till late to avoid waking up to the claustrophobia he’s churning out each day. He reassures himself that he’ll change, he will.. when the ‘appropriate time’ comes and the ‘circumstances’ are conducive. He shushes the impulses that seldom course through him. He likes the occasional self-endangering, masochistic thrill. He’s self-conscious and, outbursts are despicable things to him. He doesn’t look up at the sky through the window from his room at all.

Imagine another. He has a deep distaste for the excesses of materialism and consumerism. He despises furniture and luxury transportation. He fancies walking and ponders on the insufferable self-pity swallowing us all whole. He ponders on our desperate need for nomenclature and our abuse of it. He thinks of one of the quotes by one of his favourite authors: “Cats don’t have names. Now, you people have names. That’s because you don’t know who you are. We know who we are, so we don’t need names.” He ponders on “the ineffable yearning to be saved” and to find meaning. He does not find it in him to be able to give himself over completely to another person by way of the thing they call ‘love’. He’s known infatuation, longing and lust but the notion of love eludes him. He wishes to melt away by melting into the teeming throngs that suffocate the world. He wishes to expand across the sky and be one with the universe, uncaring of the multitudes populating the world below with their cantankerous politics and insatiable thirst to control what was never theirs to control. He likes music, dance, a few best friends, sleepy Saturday mornings and spunky, sexy conversations that last till dawn.

And imagine one more. He is painfully aware of himself, of the gaps and the surpluses in him, of the war inside and out, and of the faceless stranger he sees look back at him from a mirror. He is swimming against the current in an ocean that is the universe whose ends he’s unable to grasp. Put them all together into one person: this is she and she is a you or a me or a he. Who are you today?

The Lines I Coloured When I Read Catch 22..

It’s a very recent habit when reading a book that I own – to mark the lines that mean something to me. Maybe if I ever lend the book to someone, they would know if we liked the same lines. Maybe if I read the book again when I’m older, it’ll be nice to compare notes with my younger self. Maybe I’ll never touch or open the book again and all I’m trying to do is leave as much of me as I can with book, as it will leave much of itself with me.

I finished reading Catch 22 twenty-four hours ago. I didn’t always have a highlighter pen with me, but the times I did, I sat and coloured the lines that moved me the most.

Twenty-four hours hence, I want to shout those lines out to the world.

  1. He was working hard at increasing his life span. He did it by cultivating boredom.
  2. Men went mad and were rewarded with medals.
  3. There were many principles in which Clevinger believed passionately. He was crazy.
  4. ‘Maybe a long life does have to be filled with many unpleasant conditions if it’s to seem long. But in that event, who wants one?’ ‘I do,’ Dunbar told him. ‘Why?’ Clevinger asked. ‘What else is there?
  5. Fortunately, just when things were blackest, the war broke out.
  6. ‘..I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving that girl. She was built like a dream..’
  7. Doc Daneeka rose without a word and moved his chair outside the tent, his back bowed by the compact kit of injustices that was his perpetual burden.
  8. Chief White Halfoat demanded with simulated belligerence..
  9. ..and the piercing obscenities they flung into the air every night from their separate places in the squadron rang against each other in the darkness romantically like mating calls of songbirds with dirty minds.
  10. ‘If you’re going to be shot, whose side do you expect me to be on?’
  11. ‘What could you do?’ Major Major asked himself again. What could you do with a man who looked you squarely in the eye and said he would rather die than be killed in combat, a man who was at least as mature and intelligent as you were and who you had to pretend was not? What could you say to him?
  12. ‘But suppose everybody on our side felt that way.’ ‘Then I’d certainly be a damned fool to feel any other way. Wouldn’t I?’
  13. ‘..I used to get a big kick out of saving people’s lives. Now I wonder what the hell’s the point, since they all have to die anyway.’ ‘Oh, there’s a point, all right,’ Dunbar assured him.’ ‘Is there? What is the point?’ ‘The point is to keep them from dying for as long as you can.’ ‘Yeah, but what’s the point, since they all have to die anyway?’ ‘The trick is not to think about that.’ ‘Never mind the trick. What the hell’s the point?’ Dunbar pondered in silence for a few moments. ‘Who the hell knows?’

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  14. She was not interested in money or cameras. She was interested in fornication.
  15. There were strands of enlisted men molded in a curve around the three officers, as inflexible as lumps of wood, and four idle gravediggers in streaked fatigues lounging indifferently on spades near the shocking, incongruous heap of loose copper-red earth.
  16. Yossarian thought he knew why Nately’s whore held him responsible for Nately’s death and wanted to kill him. Why the hell shouldn’t she? It was a man’s world, and she and everyone younger had every right to blame him and everyone older for every unnatural tragedy that befell them; just as she, even in her grief, was to blame for every man-made misery that landed on her kid sister and on all other children behind her. Someone had to do something sometime. Every victim was a culprit, every culprit a victim, and somebody had to stand up sometime to try to break the lousy chain of inherited habit that was imperiling them all. In parts of Africa little boys were still stolen away by adult slave traders and sold for money to men who disemboweled them and ate them. Yossarian marveled that children could suffer such barbaric sacrifice without evincing the slightest hint of fear or pain. He took it for granted that they did submit so stoically. If not, he reasoned, the custom would certainly have died, for no craving for wealth or immortality could be so great, he felt, as to subsist on the sorrow of children.
  17. The night was raw. A boy in a thin shirt and thin tattered trousers walked out of the darkness on bare feet. The boy had black hair and needed a haircut and shoes and socks. His sickly face was pale and sad. His feet made grisly, soft, sucking sounds in the rain puddles on the wet pavement as he passed, and Yossarian was moved by such intense pity for his poverty that he wanted to smash his pale, sad, sickly face with his fist and knock him out of existence because he brought to mind all the pale, sad, sickly children in Italy that same night who needed haircuts and needed shoes and socks. He made Yossarian think of cripples and of cold and hungry men and women, and of all the dumb, passive, devout mothers with catatonic eyes nursing infants outdoors that same night with chilled animal udders bared insensibly to that same raw rain. Cows. Almost on cue, a nursing mother padded past holding an infant in black rags, and Yossarian wanted to smash her too, because she reminded him of the barefoot boy in the thin shirt and thin, tattered trousers and of all the shivering, stupefying misery in a world that never yet had provided enough heat and food and justice for all but an ingenious and unscrupulous handful. What a lousy earth! He wondered how many people were destitute that same night even in his own prosperous country, how many homes were shanties, how many husbands were drunk and wives socked, and how many children were bullied, abused or abandoned. How many families hungered for food they could not afford to buy? How many hearts were broken? How many suicides would take place that same night, how many people would go insane? How many cockroaches and landlords would triumph? How many winners were losers, successes failures, rich men poor men? How many wise guys were stupid? How many happy endings were unhappy endings? How many honest men were liars, brave men cowards, loyal men traitors, how many sainted men were corrupt, how many people in positions of trust had sold their souls to blackguards for petty cash, how many had never had souls? How many straight-and-narrow paths were crooked paths? How many best families were worst families and how many good people were bad people? When you added them all up and then subtracted, you might be left with only the children, and perhaps with Albert Einstein and an old violinist or sculptor somewhere.

I can’t remember the last time that I both loved and hated a book so much, in equal measure, at the same time. Joseph Heller sure knew his way around the human mind as he did around words. Fin!

Plateau.

Do you ever want something so much that you don’t? Do you ever not want something so much that you do?

September 7th, 2016
Mumbai, India

Corny poem 1.

What if I told you that the only thing real
is the hymn sung by every millimetre of your sun-kissed skin?

What if I told you that the only thing real
is the hammering of your brave porcelain heart, scarcely contained within?

What if I told you that the only thing real
is the flake of clear white snow on your weary fingertips?

What if I told you that the only thing real
is the words that pour out of your soul but never your lips?

What if I told you that the only thing real
is the turn of the wind and the canopy of stars that you are beholden to?

What if I told you that the only thing real
is the universe inside you?

What if I told you that the first time I saw you, I ceased
to be real.

Sublimation.

Like slicing butter with a double-edged sword, your fingers cut through to my nervous system to set my peripheral neurons on holy fire.

Like electricity coursing through yard fences, your hands sparked in my body a few hundred volts of sensuality.

Like lightning tearing the sky asunder, your arms struck me with the burning radiance of a thousand silver satellites.

And ice turned vapour.

Fantasies.

Fantasies.

Debilitating fantasies.

Of flying on broomsticks. Of finding the perfect cheesecake – and eating all of it. Of teleporting to the world of penguins – hell, of teleporting from anywhere to anywhere. Of bungee jumping off dizzying heights and levitating too. Of befriending enough number of dogs that you could make a football team out of them. Of willingly losing your way inside a maze of wood-panelled bookshelves that rise high into the clouds. Of northern lights, yellow tents and cups of coffee. Of endless nights of stargazing lying on warm (or cool) white sand. Of listening to the sound of waves till dawn breaks. Of Neverlands. Of Shires. Of the worlds beyond what meets the eye.

Of writing.

Of tracing continents on the palms of someone.

Of running your fingers across every inch of the face of someone, memorising every freckle, curve and crease, absorbing every smell.

Of swaying bodies, wind-swept hair and rain-soaked streets, and inebriation in moderation.

Of interlocked fingers spinning a world inside them; of eyes that are more vocal than words in a speech.

Of losing yourself – of disintegrating, against every fibre of reason, in someone else’s hands, legs and lips.

Fucking fantasies.

July 18th, 2016
Mumbai, India

Hello, world.

A smattering of rain, irregular traffic, skyscrapers that dare scrape the sky and poverty that dare be ubiquitous, claustrophobic hotel rooms and cute bell-boys greet me. I greet back.

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Hello, world.

As I walk through a maze of human bodies and squalor, side-stepping puddles of muddy water that the erratic rain leaves behind, a gentle breeze slips like silk through my fingers. My consciousness without permission fragments and my fingers, of their own volition, feel forlorn. The rest of me takes stock of the world as I pass it by, one step at a time, but my fingers.. my fingers are forlorn. The breeze rekindles in them memories of a yesterday, of a you, of a me and of ‘inside jokes’ that our interlinked hands held and kept. I stutter in my step but ever so slightly. The maze thins a little.

Hello, world.

Almost everywhere the eyes can see, they are met by a plethora of roads, freeways and highways that snake around and above the too tall towers, the too small blue-topped shacks and the occasional clump of green, all shadowed by an unending rainy haze. There are little drops of water, along the edges of the window railing, waiting to lose the fight to gravity. Sometimes I like those little drops of water more than I like rain. I sit down to compress everything that I am feeling into words in ink and paper with a trembling hand. It is only then that I realise that I don’t feel different, that I don’t care about a city or all things (pertaining to a prosperous, degenerate human civilisation) that mar the said city. Is this what ‘shapeless’ feels like – that leaving home evokes no sense of nostalgia, that finding (or losing?) your own place in the world evokes no sense of apprehension?

Hello, world.

July 1st, 2016
Mumbai, India

Of a God, of my God.

Disclaimer: If God is someone you have unshakeable faith in, is someone you’re fond of yet also angry with and disappointed in, and is someone you believe possesses power no other human can possess, Roger Federer is my God. 

I don’t remember how it all began, how I started watching tennis but it was at least ten years ago, back when Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal started to be the only names worth remembering. I confess that I had initially taken to supporting Rafael Nadal – more out of loyalty to a friend than out of personal preferences – but like the earth unquestionably revolves around the sun, I inevitably gravitated towards the man who personifies grace in a game that largely is about sinews and aggression. I remember remaining in awe of his unfaltering serve. I remember my brother never resigning to doubt if Roger Federer was cornered in his own service game. “He’s going to fire straight  aces and brush the opponent  over,” he would say, which of course is exactly  what would happen. My awe towards the man only multiplied thereon. I cannot add nor redefine more praise for Roger Federer since all that can be said for the man, has been said. His movements are like brush strokes on canvass – a waltz across the court, especially if it is the central, green one at Wimbledon. As I type this tonight, Roger Federer failed to convert three of five sets in his Wimbledon semifinal against Canadian Milos Raonic. When Raonic took the fourth set, a part of me knew too well that he was going to take it all and I couldn’t find it in me to sit through the anxiety of it. Was it cowardly? I don’t know but I felt the onslaught of a downpour of tears coming my way and I tore out of the room as soon as I could. Disappointment crashed on me wave by wave. Two nights ago, I was more elated than words could describe, suddenly empowered by the belief that anything was possible, that Sunday night I would be atop the world, even if my world is making less sense every passing day. Two nights ago, I was happy and Roger Federer was sex on fire. Is this how it feels to see your heroes ride out their descent? It agonised me to see him throw away so many points that ordinarily he’d have won in his sleep. But what is ‘ordinary’ anymore? I couldn’t tell if Raonic was playing better than him or he worse than Raonic. My heart is broken for the light inside Roger Federer rages and burns but it also flickers and sometimes, dims. My heart is broken because watching tennis will seem meaningless without the calm exterior of the man I have come to love and worship. My heart is broken as the plethora of commentators and onlookers, dabbling in numbers, reduce players to statistics and a stock of score-lines.. and I dread that tomorrow’s headlines will read that it’s the first time that Roger Federer has failed to win a Wimbledon semifinal – his eleventh. Don’t they understand that it does not matter if it’s the first or the second or the fifteenth time that he lost a Wimbledon semifinal? What matters is that Roger Federer is not done yet, not yet.. not yet. And my heart is broken that perhaps we won’t see all that he can give us.

35

But for thirty-five seconds,
Can I weave a harmless dream?
Of a place where tomorrow brings true,
That what today hopes to do.

Please for thirty-five seconds,
May I weave a harmless dream?
Of a place where I love you,
While the shooting stars streak across the endless grey and blue.

Himalayan love affairs.

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I can never read more than fifty or sixty pages of Ruskin Bond in one day. I feel the overpowering desire to close the book after every page and to imagine the sights and the smells that he so effortlessly describes (served with a side of refreshing humour entirely devoid of insult or malice). I have no conscious memory of snowy mountains but his love affair with the Himalayas makes me feel things that I did not know I could feel, accentuating my personal madness with his every word.

“All night the rain had been drumming on the corrugated tin roof. There has been no storm, no thunder, just the steady swish of a tropical downpour. It helps one to lie awake, at the same time, it doesn’t keep one from sleeping.”

As the train wheels continue to grate against the tracks in an almost musical rhythm and as the unimaginative chatter persists in the background, I am transported to his world of long walks, of deodars, of ‘contemplation’ and above all, of rain in the Himalayas.

“And the earth itself. It smells differently in different places. But its loveliest fragrance is known only when it receives a shower of rain. And then the scent of wet earth rises as though it were giving something beautiful back to the clouds – a blend of all the fragrant things that grow in it.”

For a home away from home.

 

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As I clutch a red-capped jar, filled with delicious little homemade orbs of sugar-sweet glory and twenty-two years of childhood, close to my chest and return to a place I will – dramatically speaking – soon cease to call ‘home’, a sudden wave of feelings hits me in the gut, asking me to hold on tight and let go too easily – all at the same time.

Do I begin now?

‘Perspective’ can be downright elusive and transient. One minute you look through the glass and you’re overwhelmed by a sense of direction and purpose. The next minute you’re floundering, grasping stray bits of Bukowski wisdom by their ends – to not fall off.. fall off the wagon that’s helping you steer clear of the trap of the tragic allure of cosy comforts and little green bills; to not lose most of your direction and some of your purpose.

Let’s begin now. No, really, let’s.

June 25th, 2016
Kolkata, India

“I am still on my zigzag way, pursuing the diagonal between reason and the heart.”

Petrichor.

The sky was orange before the rain began, a kind of dusty orange, reminiscent of brick kilns. The winds rattled the doors and windows, and the heavens tore themselves apart to pacify the parched earth. The rain fell fast and hard. The lights went out, so I stood there, in the balcony, engulfed in absolute darkness, understanding the language of the rain through the other four senses. The storm outside mirrored the storm inside. The raindrops mirrored the teardrops. What is this life? I talked to the rain, out loud, asking it if it knew any better, wondering if it was insane — this.. talking to myself, the rain, the swaying trees et al. The rain fell faster and harder. The chilly winds enveloped me and I found comfort and warmth in its cold. I tightly wrapped my arms around my chest and breathed in the overwhelming perfume of nature. The rain has stopped now. And I look at the sky from the window in my room. The lights are still out. The sky is ashen.

May 7th, 2016
Kolkata, India

“But the trees know their own. They will cherish the wild spirits and frighten the daylight out of the tame.”

Time flew.
Some day I will too.

Sigh.

42.

Dear reader,

I don’t know. I don’t have words, at least not those that sound like I mean them.

The “on paper” (with exaggerated use of hyperboles, adjectives and metaphors – words, in general) person knows, or so she thinks.

But the “in person” person doesn’t know shit.
tryjumping
Tik tok.
Round the clock.

Bodies race.
Lips do too.

Words are lost.
So few of us listen.

Trees sneeze.
And the stars lean in.

Minds fly.
Can I store away the light in your eye?
(For when the world doesn’t feel so bright)

-Sigh.

46 Days

Did you know?
Did you know your little one would be brave?
Or did you know she would never believe in tomorrow?

Did you see?
Did you see her grow?
Or did you see her scatter to the winds, like many anxious bits?

Did you feel?
Did you feel her hands reach for the stars?
Or did you feel the weight heavy on her shoulders?

Did you hear?
Did you hear the quiet song on her lips?
Or did you hear her treacherous heart – like a smug bastard – beat?

Mother, did you understand?
Did you understand her fight?
Or did you understand the nightmares she lived and built?

Will you tell her?
Will you tell her there is a tomorrow?
Ma, she doesn’t know.

 

(Fear)

A drip of cold sweat.
A corporeal tremor steeped in indecision and hate.
A swirl of words in a message laced with fire and nerves frayed.
A fluttering heart pounding against a frail ribcage.

A seed of doubt.
A hesitance congealed in my lungs and breath.
A restless energy curled around my feet and neck.
A knot in my stomach echoing in the ripple on my skin.

A twinge of shame.
A weight latched onto my shoulder blades.
A distrust of the tangible cradled my consciousness.
A warm drop of water pooling in my palms.

The clock tower chimes:
Four unique times.
Another bead of sweat, down that treacherous spine.

Ah, fuck it.

You are the master of your fate
And the captain of your soul.

Fire.

There’s a fire, a fierce one.
It’s nestled inside of my heart; it yearns as it burns.
It flickers, splutters and roars.
But there’s another one.
Outside in the world:
One that scorches all that it touches as it burns.

And tonight,
I accept both of them,
I accept them.

I accept that a fire burns in me
and that another burns the world.
I looked for absolution but tonight,
I know that I shall never find it.
I accept the smoke.

I will spend hours watching dusk melt into night
and night into that unimposing dawn.
I will look for stars, and sometimes
I’ll find them.
As I will the northern lights, and
every explosion of blue, green and white.

I accept that man, woman and child shall suffer:
Of their own accord and
by Lottery.
I tried to make sense of the world, its order
but tonight I know that I shall never find it.
I accept the noise.

I will lose the lines I liked the most
from books, poems and prose.
But I will remember that ineffable emotion which stayed
with me after reading them, holding each close.
As I will the humility felt towards an unknown hand and
the universe at large.

I accept that all that we touch, feel and see is ephemeral:
a ripple in the tide of time.
I searched for the Point Of It All but tonight I know
that I shall never find it.
I accept the sands.

I will walk as far as my own two feet
carry me.
I will be enslaved by music and lust,
and the restless wind in your letterbox.
As I will be by the sigh on your lips
(that unyielding confidence laced with tacit longing)
and
the smell of your skin
(that freshly baked something made off a clay oven).

There’s a fire, a fierce one.
And tonight, I begin.

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