Sunday, 14 December 2014

To You, Non-Believers

(Back-story: Fellow Shahrukh lover, Shaoli asked me to write this letter to convince her friends who never understood the magic of this movie. This may be from her,from me or from all of us who've known and loved DDLJ.)


To You,
Non- Believers



I was 9 when I first watched this movie. I knew more about love then, than I do now.

I’ve seen the world since. I've lived in London, waited on platforms, almost risked getting squeezed into a waffle running to catch a train last minute (always, always looking out for a familiar Indian boy giving me a hand up) and constantly wondered what the soundtrack to my life would sound like.

You don’t faze me when you mock this movie. 

Calling Shahrukh ugly, Simran too conservative and the movie overrated aren’t arguments that will convince me. 
You’re trying to pick physical, superficial flaws in a whole being that I love. Who cares if they have a spot of acne on their forehead, or freckles on their cheek? Have you heard them talk to me on the phone late at night? Plus I can play connect the dots across those freckles.

This was the movie that first showed me what love could look or speak like. 
And I’ve never really stopped searching since.

Here’s my irrational, non-chronological list of why DDLJ just is:

- Because every woman in that house was in love with Raj. 
Simran, Preeti, heck even Preeti’s mom (did you see the kurta wearing non-personality she was married to?), Buaji, Chutki and Fareeda Jalal in her best role ever.

- Because he made suddenly grabbing Simran’s hand while singing antakshari with her family, as rebellious and hot as showing up on a motorcycle. 
All the 'Baby Dolls' of the world cannot match the sensuality of Raj trying to kiss Simran behind a frighteningly narrow pillar in the courtyard of her in-laws house.

- Because he’s a brat whose baggy shirts are almost always only half tucked in. He’s abysmal at studies, spoilt rotten by his father, eerily adept at chess and stubbornly believes in signs. 
After all he chased a girl across a continent because she left a cowbell for him on her front door.

- Because Buaji couldn't buy a saree without his approval. 
Legend goes that 35 plus single women in Punjab still look out their window while buying sarees from a vendor- hoping that a messy-haired boy in a sloppy denim shirt will help her pick one. 
And she’ll feel 19 again. 

- Because he really sucks up to baoji. Wake-up-at-6am-wear-a-dhoti-sucks-up to baoji.

- Because every time I watch this movie, I’m 19 again.

- Because we want to be with a Raj while secretly hiding bits of Raj inside us. 




- Because I've lived in London and on particularly dark, grey days when the sun set at 3pm, I could almost come undone at "Ghar aaja pardesi tera desh bulaye re.."

- Because there’s a madness and kindness to this love- neither of which needs the crutch of drunken declarations, emoticons and half baked texts, confusion or even fear.

- Because he told her he loved her by just saying “nahin.. main nahin aaonga” 



- Because every time I start a new adventure, make a fresh mistake, fall in love or run into another weekend, I tell myself: Ja Simran, jee le apni zindagi

- Because mandolins sound better than the harp to me, and much like Simran I will respond to that tune, wherever I hear it.

- Because he apologies to Preeti before he leaves.

- Because my rule of thumb is – agar woh tumse sachcha pyaar karti hai, woh palat ke dekhegi. 


- Because this story has more heart, bravado, coolness (have you seen those wicked pigeons) and love than most epics.

- Because Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge.



Yours,
Tumhari aankhein mujhe meri daadimaa ki yaad dilate hain






(To You is a letter writing project I started because there are not enough letters and love going around. If you have something to say with love-- for your ex girlfriend, you current husband, pizza (promise not to make it cheesy), your landlord who let you skip rent or even Ryan Gosling-- I'll write that letter for you.

The final letter will be up on my blog and a copy will be handwritten/typed on a typewriter and posted to you or to an intended recipient. Kisses on the envelope only on my discretion.
Give me a shout at: kakulgautam@gmail.com )


Thursday, 4 December 2014

26 Pieces Of You

(Disclaimer: This gorgeous format of alphabets adapted  from David Leviathan's fantastic work- The Lover's Dictionary. Read it, if you haven't yet. AR credit for the post title)



A for Absence

Hour 1:
Nothing was more complete, absolute, alive or more present than that. You'd been here crumpling my sheets just 24 hours ago and now the absence of you is sprawled across, taking more space and hogging the duvet. No wonder I'm shivering in the cold.



B for Braille

Hour 4:
You didn’t need to move two continents to get that second Masters’ degree. You didn’t need to sit up half a night to tell me that distance was a frame of mind. Frame of mind?!

You know why they made Braille into a series of bumps made up of dots? Because even when blind people can’t see, they need to touch.

This long distance relationship has a language of its own that I have to learn. I don’t want to give up my eyesight to learn Braille and eventually write poetry in it. I want to see.
And I want to see you.



C for Complaints

Hour 6:
 I’m fussy when my coffee is too sweet, the traffic too slow or every vacation not long enough. You’d always told me my complaints needed to be well presented, better organized and addressed one at a time.

Well here’s another one for your filing cabinet: Your being away inconveniences my life but I refuse to admit it.



D for Defiance

Hour 7:
Yep. Two hours later, still refuse to admit it.



E for Empathy

Hour 9:
The only upside to sadness is that it makes you a kinder person. Nice people are the ones who get beat up in life, because otherwise we’re all really born as arrogant jerks.

So, fuck you for turning me into a bleeding heart.



F for Feasible

Hour 10:
Our lives are like a math equation: your dreams, my dreams, you and me. The intersection of this Venn diagram is where we and other collisions happened.

Our lives should be made of romance not math”, I’d told you arguing why you shouldn’t leave.

“Romance isn’t always feasible, but math is”, you’d replied.


F for Fear

Hour 11.30:
It coursed through my veins and stirred deep inside my own blood. My heart was pumping this cocktail out, steadily, rhythmically and constantly. Even if I tried, I couldn’t help my paranoia and disbelief of your strategy on how we’d make it work when you were away.

You see, my own body was holding me hostage.



G for Gumption

Hour 13.45:
We were 21 when I first walked up to you and told you that your critique of Keats was a mess, that you in fact would make a better finance student than a Literature major and that if you were to “lose that patronising edge at the end of your sentences”, I would meet you for coffee.

I was right about everything and we had four lattes to go that day.



H for Humour

Hour 15:
But, baby, we can eat dinner together on Skype on Friday nights. It will be like a real date. Plus I won’t be able to pick the Spaghetti off your plate”, you told me on the phone from the airport.

I laughed till I had a stitch in my stomach. The joke was funny, the throbbing in my side wasn’t.



I for Intention

Hour 17:
Our most heated debates had always been around Spaghetti vs. Penne and Intention vs Action. To you meaning to do something was as important as actually doing it.

To me, Penne and good thoughts were identical-- cylindrical shells of promises and hope on the outside and hollow inside.



J for Jealousy

Hour 18:
Let me get this straight, you’re mad at me because I laughed too hard at someone’s joke?” we were fighting that last Saturday night before you left.

It wasn’t like I was slow dancing with him. I was just laughing at what he said.”.

You’ve already turned away and started making a list of the things to take with you when you move next month. The joke’s really on me.


K for Kitten

Hour 18.56:

Munchkin.
Kitten.
That N word. 

Slowy.
Baby.
Hot stuff.


Can we open a joint bank account just to save everything that was mutually exclusive, belonged to us and needs to remain joint property? No one will be allowed drawing rights from this bank, especially if someone new or with hotter stuff were to come along.



L for Love

Hour 19:   
We both knew just that was never going to be enough. But it's what everyone spends their lifetimes looking for anyway.
(See also under: S for Stubborn and I for Idiocy)



M for Model

Still Hour 19: 
There was a reason they were called that. It was to connote a level of perfection so ideal that real life would weep itself to sleep before it could ever match up.

Think about that before you yell at me for “shutting down on me, right before I’m supposed to fucking leave”.

Nothing model was ever real: behaviour or those Victoria Secret ones on your laptop.



N for Night

Hour 20:   
I’m lying here in bed when it’s early morning for you. Your day stretches on while mine has been beaten up and is ready to pass out in its work clothes. I don’t want to call to say goodnight . This is unreal and a skip away from destruction. I turn off the lights and sleep

They say you should never talk to the monsters under your bed at night.



O for Obvious

Still Hour 20:
You asked me a question I never answered. I tried to tell you, without ever saying it, referring to it or even admitting to it.

Couldn’t you just see through me, instead?



P for People

Hour 21:
You and I have never heard of birds going mad, or seals and walruses losing their minds. People bring that on to each other- the madness- either by how they touch or by how little they do.



Q for Queer

Hour 21.30:
It’s unfair and obnoxious to use it to refer to homosexuality.
There are so many actually strange things out there: like banjo solos, vegans, lack of empathy about global warming and people who’re trying to date across countries.

Queer.



R for Romance

Hour 22:
You’re looking at old pictures of me and my ex-boyfriend.

I guess you look happy, but look how lazily his fingers are slumped across yours. If I was him, I’d hold your hand tightly and properly, all the time. You’re a prize to me.”, you told me again as I tossed you folded, ironed shirts to pack into your suitcase.



S for Stay

Hour 22.30:
I shouldn’t have to give you a reason to.




T for Today

Hour 23:
When you and I could’ve been on holiday. Damn it, when you and I should’ve been on holiday. You’d realise that me not paying any attention to you is endearing in person and I’d learn to live with how little my face masks my emotions as compared to my texts.



U for Un-learn

Hour 23.15:
The secrets you spilled into me. The dreams I whispered to you. The way your back arches when you’re tired. The way your eyes close when we’re fighting. The songs we didn't dance to. Your favourite drink. Your next big dream. The name we’d give our dog.



V for Vain

Hour 23.30:
When you took so many pictures of us together, I was never really sure if it was devotion or you checking to see how your hair was looking to others that day.



W for Wine

Hour 23.40: 
You only show me love when you’ve had a couple of glasses”, you complained every weekend.
 I wanted to defend my Merlot, to tell you that you’re incidental to how much I love the searing feeling down my throat. That it actually helps me forget all the reasons you and I are set up for disaster.

I reached over and kissed you instead.



X for x.

Hour 23.45:
Yours, mine, ours. Sleeping like ghosts in our bed. I wish you’d dated fewer people. Sometimes it feels less like being a couple and more like holding hands and being part of a human chain.



Y for You

Hour 23.50:
For stumbling into my life, stumbling out of it and refusing to ever completely leave- all at your whim.



Z for zoom

Hour 23.59:
If I squinted and concentrated hard enough, would I be able to zoom into the exact moment it all came together, fell apart, or you left?

And if I could, would I dare rearrange it?

                                       (Giant, lonely rose- art installation outside the MOMA.
                                         May, 2014. )
                                        
  



Thursday, 27 November 2014

To You~ From The Airport Hater

(Backstory: This may only be the second, but it already is one of my favourite To You letters. I fell in love with this story of the 4 Year Wait-er and The Airport Hater. Because Love's favourite hurdles had always been time and space. This is being sent out, typed out on a typewriter, all the way to London.)



To You
4 Year Wait-er,

I was sitting next to her on that flight, while her fire-brown hair fell over her face, most of which was buried inside the folds of a book. I hate talking to people on a flight, they always end up telling you more than you want to know. This girl, though, had four different boarding cards sticking out from four different places in the book.
Curiosity trumps most things (except global warming).

Hi. I was just wondering. With your, erm system.. how do you know, where you left the book last? Which of your bookmarks actually marks the spot, and which are for decoration?”

She smiled a brilliant smile I would come to know in flashes, Who says you have to begin only where you left off?” 

I knew then, we would spend the next two and a half hours talking. I just didn’t know it would be all about you.

If I told you that she could not tell a story straight, it would be half the truth. If I told you that I pieced her story together from mostly U2 song lyrics she narrated to me, unnerving excitement about coffee and a deep, simmering hatred for airports, it wouldn't even cover the preface. All you need to know (as you read this) is that you filled up every pause between every broken story, none of which began where they first left off.

You’re wondering by now why a strange girl you've never met is writing to you, about the woman you love.

Because she’s never going to. Her words are too full, too big and impregnated by you. Oh, and remind me to ask you, when I’m done, why you live in another country. Though she never once mentioned it explicitly. 
She didn't have to. She just said with a steady voice, “I hate airports. Standing at one gives you more clarity than years put together.” 

I wish now, as I write to you, that she’d told me which came first-- the surprise package of dark chocolates and Pope’s book of poetry at her work desk, a song she saw on your Facebook wall or the wedding where you met. She never stopped long enough to clarify and I kept forgetting to interrupt her.

Did you know that she spoke of you like her fondest memory and fiercest secret? It was almost like she was airing out details just to remember them right. No questions or sudden movements were allowed - the conversation threatened to go back to her uncontained love for coffee at any point.

I told her about the loves and chances I had found and lost, maybe it was then that she made it her 2.5 hour mission to convince me. Or maybe she needed to unravel you from inside of her and air you out again. And there you were, 4 year wait-er, a proof of her theory on believing, her prize and her pride.

Her fingers carelessly traced the jacket lettering of Murakami’s After Dark, as she alternatively encouraged and warned me, “Hey listen, if you've never been, just go to Vienna right now.” “Also, piece of advice: it’s easier when the person you love is in the same time-zone. Did you know that?”

I didn’t know that.

Did you know that some days her heart is strained to the point of breaking, without even losing you, but for never having you present when she needs you. Did you know that sometimes pockets of space need to be filled out by a physical presence- especially one that’s carelessly running his fingers behind your ear? Did you know her voice darkens like thunder when she talks about what 5.5 hours of time difference can do to someone? Did she tell you it can age you? That it can drive you to reading subtext on lyrics which were only meant to be fillers for the bass solo?

Loneliness was never a privilege of the truly lonely.

Did you know, 4 Year Wait-er, that she, Airport Hater, carries you around in her purse, folded neatly next to her cigarettes and mobile phone. This invisible shape of you holds her hand or becomes the cloud over her head, depending on which side of the time difference (warp) she really is on. On particularly bad days, this shape of you is so bruised and blackened with her longing that it can barely sit up at the dinner table.

“I only really like Norwegian Wood, the best”. I told her glancing at her copy of After Dark, as we got up to collect our overhead luggage.

“Maybe you need to have a boy stand in line at 6am in the morning, in the freezing London cold, just to get you a signed copy. And when he doesn’t get one, he goes to The Savoy to explain to the concierge why Murakami has to sign this particular copy. And when the concierge doesn’t oblige, he sits across you on vacation and signs it himself. Maybe you need that .”

And you know what, 4 Year wait-er, maybe I do.



Your Nameless Friend,
Seat 4F.



(Why don't you, Damn you.)



(To You is a letter writing project I started because there are not enough letters and love going around. If you have something to say with love-- for your ex girlfriend, you current husband, pizza (promise not to make it cheesy), your landlord who let you skip rent or even Ryan Gosling-- I'll write that letter for you.
The final letter will be up on my blog and a copy will be handwritten/typed on a typewriter and posted to you or to an intended recipient. Kisses on the envelope only on my discretion.
Give me a shout at: kakulgautam@gmail.com )


Thursday, 20 November 2014

To You~ The girl with the red wine.


(Backstory: Because before a story, there was a story, and so on. Here's the first of the To You letter series. Like most of the requests I got, this one came with aliases and request for anonymity. Anonymous wants to tell a girl he's met 3-4 times that he likes her. "He isn't obsessed with how she looks, and he's just anonymous because he chooses to be".)


To You,
The Girl With The Red Wine


Rolling your eyes every 20 minutes followed with a “..that’s what she said” joke doesn’t make you the life of every party. But darling, you wear that look so well, anyway. I could give you a real compliment, but I think you’ve had too many of those. What else can explain why you take all day to reply to a text?

We’ve met four times now- each time at a party surrounded with other people and wine. I’m not sure, which of these two lights you up the way it does, but you’re good with both. 
People are drawn to you easily, as was I but I resisted long enough.

It’s Saturday night again and you’re telling everyone how much you love company, but I can tell you’re at your best alone. You also have this way of trying to put your hair up into a bun, each time you’re bored. Stop doing that.

Speaking of, order something to eat next time you’re out. And when the table gets something, don’t only dip the nachos in the cheese sauce. The salsa feels left out, as sometimes do I.

Talking to you can be the most inclusive and the loneliest thing in the world.

I’m not going to bore you with clichés about how you should let new people in. Good call that you don’t. There are some real creeps out there. But there are also some great guys who hate you putting your hair up in a bun, drinking red wine way too fast, finishing all the nachos and cheese sauce and rolling your eyes constantly.

I’m not entirely sure why I’m writing to you.
I’m thinking about that night when we were standing outside the bar. You were telling me about that famous movie star you’ve always loved. Your voice wasn’t fluttering with infatuation, you just spoke with a quiet, determined clarity assuring me that you two would have been soul mates had he known and met you.
I’m glad he didn’t, because maybe you would have.

Maybe like me, he too would have noticed that if you stood and talked in the dark long enough, it would be clear that you were “on fire from within and the moon lives in the lining of your skin.”

Are you going to lecture me now on quoting Neruda? On how you think you’re a lone warrior against plagiarism? How monogamy died and you’re the only one who showed up at the funeral? Or tell me the long list of words you can’t stand because of the way they sound.

You cannot marry and live with words, you know. You shouldn’t. 
You should instead, stand in the dark and talk to me about the words you really hate. Explain to me again why just the sound of the word “snog” makes your skin crawl. And when I tell you that you’re dramatic, know that instead I want to just reach out and hold you, and trace the edges of moonlight on your arm.

I’m not going to hold you. So don’t be alarmed when you read this. Don’t immediately think of a joke or a sarcastic comment. I can outmatch you on both. I just can’t hold silence as softly, tightly and closely as you do. Your silences only have room for one, shutting out people right next to you. Thankfully they don’t last long. 
You break out of them quickly enough to tell me why caffeine is your drug of choice. I’m not sure you ever completed that story. Is it because coffee is a hot drink and doesn’t give you hallucinations? Damn you, do you see what you’ve left me with? 

You’re the moonlit girl who looks like she’s always mid-sentence or mid-leaving. 
Maybe you’re afraid of how you’d feel if you stayed. Maybe you think I’ll figure out how your caffeine story actually ends and ruin your big reveal at the next party.

Maybe I should tell you who I really am, but much like you darling girl, I place far too much premium on mystery.


Isn't that half the magic anyway?


Yours In Jest And Without,
Anonymous.


                                     
                                                                    (Because letters were meant to be felt on paper.                                                                           To You, will post your letter for you as well)




(To You is a letter writing project I started because there are not enough letters and love going around. If you have something to say with love-- for your ex girlfriend, you current husband, pizza (promise not to make it cheesy), your landlord who let you skip rent or even Benedict Cumberbatch-- I'll write that letter for you.
The final letter will be up on my blog and a copy will be handwritten and posted to you or to an intended recepient. Kisses on the envelope only on my discretion.
Give me a shout at: kakulgautam@gmail.com )




                                                                                                                                                                           

(

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Most Art Is Havoc


Of all the things you want to be,
Don't hope to turn into poetry.
Verses bend further
than your body ever should.
Rhymes follow patterns,
Inked into permanence.
A certainty your affections
never knew.


Don't look either, little girl,
at turning into art.
Paints never learnt boundaries
A rainbow in reality was only
hysterical, psychedelic chaos.


Don't hope darling boy,
to relive your favourite scene.
The camera never saw
What the corner of your eye did.
No script has ever followed right,
Those voices in your head.


Never wrap the idea of you
Around a hollowed chestnut
Guitar either.
Those strings wear out and break,
When played recklessly
But
You only spilt blood and loved harder
Each time you were.



                                     
(You are the main character—the protagonist—the star at the center of your own unfolding story. You’re surrounded by your supporting cast: friends and family hanging in your immediate orbit. Scattered a little further out, a network of acquaintances who drift in and out of contact over the years. )


                                                ((Noel on Canvas. From here)

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Haunted

No eerie music foreshadowed your arrival.
It happened on a dry, dull summer evening. It must've been a Tuesday.
You walked in, wearing a tuxedo, smoking a cigarette and sinking down into my moss green, rexene covered chair. The one I usually reserve for stacking magazines and worn clothes.


You never asked me any questions, those first few days. To be honest, I was always looking over my shoulder to check if you were still around. I remember that evening after work when I had to rush out on a first date. There you were, sitting on the armchair, flicking cigarette ash onto my floor and refusing to look away as I pulled my t-shirt off my head and slipped into a sexier dress.

You didn't ask me any questions when I came home later either. But I could feel you staring at me in the darkness, while I lay on my bed with my back to the chair, obsessively refreshing my text messages.

I also got used to you being around fairly easily. It's like you'd never left. I don't remember when it was, but I stopped replaying that scene of you storming out of our apartment and slamming the door. I forgot the burn from the pit of fire in my stomach that night. I forgot that I carried nausea with me like a purse, for months to come. It was deliciously romantic how watching you sitting on that chair, I forgot things I once thought I would never unlearn.


Would you like some water?”


Those may have been the first words I spoke, breaking the silence. So oddly formal, to you, who had once known every crevice of every turn of every emotion I ever had. But it was a hot summer day and I know better than anyone else how much smoking parched your throat. That was also the first night I left a glass of water by the side of my bed.


You would think come winter and a new, handsome, wonderful man in my life that I would ask you to leave. I don't know why I never did.
You could've offered to split the rent if you were staying. Refusing to pick a fight and determined to move on I just decided to simply ignore and forget you.

But how does one forget someone who takes over an armchair and fills a corner of your room with cigarette smoke?

I learnt how to change inside the bathroom, except on days when I wanted to remind you what you were missing. I'm almost certain that I saw pain flash across your face when I put on your favorite red dress to go out for dinner with him. Then again, it could've been the dim lighting in my room throwing shadows on your face and tux.

I never let him come over of course. Refusing to answer to myself who I was hiding from whom. However, happiness is more difficult to conceal, given away by stark, simple facts of staying out late, needing less sleep and constantly smiling to oneself. Love shines through, like a hickey on the neck of a boy who has just gotten laid.


“ I didn't want to say anything earlier to you, but I think I need to clarify. It's not that I don't still love you. It's just that he makes me happy. Not happier. It's different.
He's different.
Listen, I really wish you'd say something instead of just sitting there, judging me and making a mess on the floor. There's just so many times I'll sweep the ash up. Ok?"

"Look, he's sweet and kind and I don't want to be consumed whole again. 

Maybe there's nothing more of me left to hurt. Anyway, I don't want to get sucked into this black hole of a discussion again. We were epic and special. Everydays are not lived out in epic and special. That's not how life works.
Plus, I really don't think he will hurt me.


If there's one thing I've learnt in life, is to never make a wish out loud. There's a reason you keep it in your heart and release it only when swathed inside a soft breath while blowing out candles.
A wish come true can break you, in more ways than one that never did.


I was curled on my bed, sobbing. It must've been a Tuesday night.
I was a heaving mess of tears and muffled wails. Maybe that's why I didn't register the moment when you left the chair, lay down and wrapped yourself around me. I just felt your spiced musk on the skin of my arms. Your you-ness rocked me close until I fell asleep against your chest, wondering if I had single handedly discovered time travel or if you were holding me again.


“I hope your suit's not too wrinkled. I can get it dry-cleaned for you”.

Or something awkward to the effect, the next morning. I don't remember my own mumbles, just a heady feeling of wearing your smell on me again.
I must've broken up with him the next day. Or maybe he broke up with me. It was all a blur. I just knew I had to stay away from my apartment and you, so I crashed at my friends' house for a few days. Mourning and longing had spilt into each other, so often and so violently in my life that it took all I had to not come undone. My friend kept telling me how strong I was- to survive these losses. To forget you and him.
If only she would stop pinning bravery medals to my chest she'd notice that those were blood stains on my shirt and not an interesting motif. And suddenly, that morning when my skin started to smell of me again, I knew it was time to go back. It must've been a Tuesday.


Theres a strange charm and disobedience to what my memory remembers and forgets. The next few months, for instance-  I can only recall sighs and sinking into you and not caring about wrinkling your tuxedo anymore. I remember asking you questions, feeling your breath on my neck and faintly convincing myself that maybe it was ok to be consumed again.


A few people repeated the unkind things my own friends have said about me. I haven't met them for months and yes, missed a few birthdays and baby showers, yes. But what do they know of epic and special? I know I could have worked harder and stayed longer hours at my job, maybe that would've bagged me one of the two promotions I missed.
But I always needed to rush back to my room when the smell of you started to fade.



People always underestimate the power of musky smells.
of skin on skin.
and unfinished business.



(Art credit: Herbert List's amazing collection of photographs. See here)


Sunday, 5 October 2014

Haider: A Poetic Rendition

(To Vishal Bhardwaj: Haider may not be perfect, but it needed to be made. 
To Kashmir: You are perfect, we need to stop. 
To all the repeal AFSPA discussions: You're a cause close to my heart, and hopefully one day kids in DU will not use you as a debating topic).



Hai yeh hain nahin

blood churned into mortar
mortar slapped onto betrayal
betrayal spawned by true love
true love for a river (now dry).






Sawaal ka jawaab bhi sawaal hai

homes ravaged by poetry
poetry tattoed onto graveyards
graveyards littered with vows
vows impersonating as questions.





Jaan loon ki jaan doon 

Songs spun out of truth
truth woven into scarves
scarves undone by grief
grief outwitted by rage
rage flirting with tragedy.





main rahoon ki main nahin

To stay or not to stay
To love or not to leave
To be or not to have
To die or not to scream.



Wednesday, 17 September 2014

How To Read People: A Manual

Start with facing them and trying to look them in the eye.
Of course, this will get you as far as knowing four letters in the alphabet will help you write a full novel. But don't be deterred. Learning to read people is an art. Mostly accidental genius.

Watch closely where they place their hands.
Are they on their hips? Both left and right?
In that case, it's no use learning how to read them- they are probably mid sentence declaring that they're Superman searching for Kryptonite. But those kind should only be a few (if you're lucky).

Body language goes a long way in reading people and understanding what they really mean. 
Some giveaways like hugs and kisses generally imply love and affection. Of course, it's never as simple. This could be past love or love in the future tense- 
Let me kiss your cheek because I once loved you. 
I'm now going to hug you, out of social propriety and the hope that one day when you lose weight and if I'm still single we could be together.



People are best read out of their natural habitat. 
Take them somewhere new and unfamiliar, tell them something they never expected to hear and take away their phones. Then step back and watch. 
You'll be able to read them in tiny increments. Like how their eyes and thumbs, so used to scrolling, will be equally wild and ravenous. Searching feverishly for something to rest on.


One place where you will never make any headway, is when you see people with each other. 
Steer clear of their interactions, especially those involving actual words and laughs. 
Look out instead, for sighs, lingering glances, bitten lips and sentences left half unsaid.


But the only way to actually do it, is to read them like Braille.
The only time anything will ever make sense is when skin will met skin.

                                                     
                                                (This gorgeous artwork from here)




Tuesday, 26 August 2014

The Opposite Of A Kiss

The opposite of a kiss,
Is a sigh.
Heavy, burdened, hopeful
And itching for a way out.

The opposite of a kiss
Is an undoing of lips,
Of fingers slipping out of a grip.
It is lonely hands,
Clutching fistfuls of empty air
And inter-locking fingers with Loss.

                                 

The opposite of a kiss,
Is too much love.
Tainted, sullied and broken,
By majestic betrayal
Bleeding all over the carpet,
But still daring to stand.


The opposite of a kiss holding on,
Is an embrace letting go.
People walking away,
Alone and tattooed
With imprints of hugs from a year ago.
A sci-fi movie with a plot gone wrong.

                   


The opposite of a kiss,
Is a rabid crush.
A stomach full of butterflies,
With wings made of feathers.
The flapping of which,
Alternatively tickled
And nauseated you.

The opposite of a kiss
Is heady longing dipped in hope,
That when you finally reach
Her soft lips,
There will be remembering
And forgetting
Feathered butterflies
Sighs
Fistfuls of empty air
And too much love
All tangled between tongues
That instinctively knew-
Actual speaking
Always ruined everything.

               
                                 
                                (From the top:  Henri de Toulouse Lautrec's "In Bed: The Kiss"                                 
                                                                 Gustav Klimt's masterpiece "The Kiss"                                 
                                         my personal favourite: Rene Magritte's  "The Lovers")


Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Monologues Are a One Way Street - 2



(I wrote the sequel to the story last week, here. Because sometimes endings are easier to get to, than the start)

-----


I'm not entirely sure when she found out or how. I was obsessed with knowing though.
As if the mechanics of her discovery would help me roll back what was an unravelled ball of wool now.

To her I lied straight off the bat.

Even before I knew how much she'd found out or through whom, I flew into a valiant, indignant denial and complete refusal of the whole thing. 
If I remember correctly now, I sent her a raging email giving her a detailed version of what I wanted her to believe happened.


It wasn't the first time I'd been found out.

By her, or the other women I now refer to as my exes. 
The drill each time was fairly simple: lie and get really, really angry when they questioned or cried. Your outrage, indignation and anger will make them second guess what they knew. 
If you pulled this off well enough, she'd be willing to believe the half version of truth you were giving her. 
That’s the thing about sadness, when your world is coming undone you’re willing to believe even a ludicrous tale if that means regaining some semblance of control and happiness. I do believe that’s how people invented magic. 

Of course, all of this depended on how much she knew and through whom- I considered this the heat switch which tempered the intensity of my answers.

Some nights, many, many years later I will wonder how things would've turned out had I just come clean. Had I sat her down and explained to her, carefully, that even what she knew and found out was a tiny detail in all that had actually happened. Maybe the truth really would have set us free. But thinking of that now was too exhausting and required me to follow a script I'd never really written.



I'm not sure when the women started to overlap.

I was certain though that each time there was a reason to not call it “cheating”. One time, my girlfriend (at the time) and I were almost breaking up. The other time I did everything but sleep with the other girl. Hooking up with an ex-girlfriend while seeing someone new doesn't count. Neither does flirting and going out for a hot-dog at 2am with someone new while you text your girlfriend goodnight and tell her how madly you’re in love with her .



I could tell you all the stories before this one, or just how this specific one came to light. They blur and almost read the same anyway, so for now let's stick to what had just been found out.


It was mostly around her demanding how I could do “this”.

Unsure what or how many stories comprised of “this” -I feigned ignorance, racked my memory for links of how she could have known while reminding her that baselessly accusing me made her a small, and if I recall my genius words at that heated moment, “ narrow minded, cheap, disgusting person”.

What was laughable was that the affair had ended many, many months ago and she only just found out. It wasn't even my latest or most recent 'indulgence'. 
Forget karma, for me timing was the real bitch.
The girl, my fiancée was so torn up about, was now happily married and living in a different city.

This was something I'd gotten away with and we'd been through so much after that. 
So much better, and so much worse, and yet.
And yet.



You want to know how it started?

Exactly like the ones before this did. That's what gets to me-- people still cheat in those same four or five ways, and yet each time they're found out there’s always horror, sadness and shock. You’d think we’d have emotionally evolved beyond that.



I met her at work. We were friends, until the day we weren't. I wasn't in love with her or madly attracted to her. I just needed new ‘attention’ and lets admit it, action.
There were no sudden moves. I needed to be completely sure. So we just hung out, flirted, while I waited for this girl to trust me.


Now before you assume that I'm some cold hearted predator, know that my moves are nothing more than a series of simple steps that have been perfected over the years and by now are just a stimulus response. I'm not consciously devoid of feeling, but I know when I'm hunting and I know just what to do. It’s primal. It’s who I become between one girls bed and anothers.

I'd tell my fiancée I had to spend time with my parents while I was over at my new friends place. We didn't do much the girl from my office and I, the first few times. I would stay up talking to her, at her apartment where she lived alone, sometimes till 2 am and then leave suddenly telling her it was late. This routine had always worked for me, because the girl knows you’re not waiting to be alone/ drunk with her. That you really care. In any case, unlike other men who make a move the minute they get a chance, this way you steer clear of rejection and jumping to mistaken conclusions.

What followed was what always does. Days of hanging out, getting to know my office colleague, in more ways than one. Fantastic sex. Isn't it always? Telling her how amazing she was, and watching her slowly fall in love with me.

I was still a great boyfriend to my fiancée. I never let her find out. I loved her. To ensure that it wasn't really “cheating” , I didn't even act out of guilt. If someone had told her then that I was cheating, she’d have laugh at them. 
One day while driving to somewhere (now it seems that all we ever did was drive from one place to another), I cupped her face between my hands, looked into her eyes and told her to never, ever worry about another woman because if I ever cheated on her she would never find out. 
She laughed and told me that this was the strangest reassurance she’d gotten. But I’d meant it and what else could be a greater testimony of my love?

The other girl eventually wanted me to “take things forward”. I never understood this about women. I wanted to tell her, that “things” had ended in my head long ago. So I weaned myself off her- calculated, simple steps also practiced over the years.

And now here we were, so many months later.

My fiancee wanting to know how I could do “this”.
A broken heart is always followed by questions. More than from pain and sadness, I want to protect people from their own questions. 
I wanted to tell her that I could never answer her questions honestly, not even to myself. Especially not while I was sober and still surrounded by shiny, sparkling, different women. I wanted to hold her and tell her that my answers would never help her leave. That the way out, was simply straight out

Why did you hurt me?

Did my love not stop you? Did you even love me?

Did you think of me, even once?

Why?

God! I was so stupid

But, weren't we happy then? Everything was fine. Listen, this was that time around my birthday, we were happy. Don’t you remember?

Wait. was this the time I was really ill and in bed for two weeks?

Did it mean nothing? The 7 years together?

Oh god, I was so stupid.

How many others were there? There must’ve been more.

Did you come back to me after spending the night at her apartment?

Why?

What do you even mean it wasn’t about me?

Do you have any idea how hurt I am?

What do you mean you love me? Do you even know how that works?


Many years later I will wonder how it would have turned out had I come clean.

Told her I loved her. Perhaps only in my small, selfish, mangled way but shouldn't it still count? 
I wanted to convince her that despite the many, many other women it was her I wanted to marry. 
I wanted to honestly tell her that no one had ever loved me as much as she had and if she left, despite our problems, my life would never be the same again. 
I wanted to repeat the words “I love you” to her the exact number of times it would take to erase everything else I could have said and should have said and done.

But I will think about these things years later, right now I don't know what telling someone the truth looks like. That it looks small, scared and clean. The truth is like a freshly laundered, new-born baby;  tiny, raw- pink and chafing so viciously at the flesh from all the scrubbing that no one can stand to really look at it without making it put a small sweater or even a sock on. So I said nothing at all.

Except to myself: Different is good. Different is new. Different is all I’ve ever had.


                                   (Secret messages on a wall in Greenwich, New York)


Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Monologues Are A One Way Street- Part 1


I'm not sure when or how I got here. Except, that I did. Didn't your lonely ever need a person to fill it up with?
Her perfume floated up and permeated every corner of  the cramped space. I wasn't sure if I liked it, hated it or was just thankful that it was a foreign smell. 

Different is new. Different is good.

I kissed her neck and felt her squirm. Except she wasn't squirming the way I was used to. It was incomplete, new and different and GOD it was exactly what I needed at this moment.
A foreign body with impulses and reactions I wasn't privy to. 
Different is new. Different is good. Different is release.

I could feel beads of sweat as her arm lay under mine.Heavy with hope. My arm held back, caving low with desire and dependence.

Don't get me wrong, I was definitely turned on. I'm a 30 year old guy and this chick was hot, drunk and clearly easy.

I grazed my stubble against her jawline, tracing it softly. She let out a moan.
One I was too tired to analyse as genuine or rehearsed so I let it pass. She'd wanted this. All night. She whispered.

She didn't have to. I knew it the second she let me buy her a drink.
I did too. Which is why I played my cards right. 
Don't ever act like a pawing, desperate guy- they're milling around every club in this city anyway. Let her believe you're not interested at all. Walk away. Never ever make a move the first time you go out with her.

I pushed her jeans lower with my hand and she rose up slightly to meet me. She kissed my face. It felt good. There's a reason why people are drawn to new experiences. They're such a rush. Different is new. Different is good. Different means it is not what you left behind.

I kissed her back roughly, passionately so she knew I meant business and that she was mine for tonight. By the time we'd be done she'd want to stay forever. Perhaps subconsciously I always counted on that. Getting them to want to stay, so the vacuum automatically filled itself. Different is new. Different is good. Different fills black holes inside you.

I buried myself in her deeper. My hands splayed across her bare chest. With every parting of her expectant lips I knew I wanted to forget: All that didn't work out. All that never could have.

I wanted to forget a smell, a look, a movement. One that seemed etched not only in my mind, but in every reaction of my body.

I reached out to hold a hand knowing how connected interlocked fingers made her feel. But these hands were digging their nails into my back with raw passion. So, fine that's how I responded, with furious, indifferent lust. Willing my mind to forget that which had forgotten me so easily.

I bit her shoulder and found acceptance and what felt like love in her body.
Her sweat and smell seemed more familiar, and I buried my face in the side of her neck every time I had a flashback. Repeating to myself: Different is new. Different is good. Different means you're free.

This would spur her on, distracting me with mechanized precision. My mind was my enemy but my body was my tool, it bended and craved for pleasure. No matter which club or after-party apartment it found this in.

We lay back. Exhausted. She drew her slightly shaking body close to mine and it took all my strength to not hold her and cry or get up and leave. So I lay there telling her how beautiful she was and how happy she made me feel .

Lies guys like me have made so ironic that they're believable. And that's what she did in our post-sex haze, she believed me. About our connection.

And I thought of another severed one.

So I interlocked my fingers with her.

I let her invade the familiar, let her ravage every physical memory so that soon older imprints on my memory and faint traces of finger prints and lingering perfume on parts of my body would evaporate. Like beads of sweat in the cool blast of artificial, central air conditioning.






Wednesday, 23 July 2014

CountDown

She sat lotus-style on the slightly muddied, wet earth. Scooping it out, she noticed  pebbly bits nestled inside her fingernails turning her pearly manicured tips yellowed and brown.
For now though, there was work to be done.


Using both her hands she lifted the heavy black lid and sat staring at what was inside.
Her right arm gently ran across the brittle surface, while she angled the flash-light in her mouth as she went back to her notes.



Promises

Childhood Scabs (mostly found near the knee and the elbows)

“Pick up tomatoes” (scribbled across a palm)

Last kisses




Memories of favourite pets

False bravado

Too may adventures

Too few adventures




Fading tattoos

Songs sung out of tune

Regrets


Smell of walks in the beach




Unkind fights

Afternoons of making love

Recurring nightmares

Un-flossed teeth




Caves of regrets

First loves

Last loves

Unexpressed loves

The smell of rain





Summer vacations from the 16th year

All their Idols

All their Gods

All their doubts about their Idols and their Gods





Each time skin touched skin

The feverish rush to own a perfect body

Crazed joy at eating cake

Bad Decisions




Worlds of regret

Stains of nicotine across their chests

Every despised Monday

Falling wildly in love

Recklessly losing love





8 glasses of water a day, sometimes 12

Jumbled knots of beliefs

Plants that were watered on time

Too few deep breaths




“What Dead People Are Made Of
- She scribbled on top of her notes and slammed her book shut. 
The paper was due tomorrow and her nails needed a fresh coat of polish.
                                                         

{ Suggested Listening- This gorgeous song }





Monday, 14 July 2014

Take Your Clothes Off

Lying down on the cool marble, resting against the foot of his bed, he reached for his laptop.
It lay in a corner buried under a tumble of duvets, gym shirts and sheets. But the letter to her had already started in his head, he'd email it later.


This doesn't have a beginning, because I can't recall what ours was.
I'm livid and want to write you the most vicious love letter that was ever written. 

Love's always been, a bit mad, hasn't it? Violent in its presence, abusive in its silence.


At least we never whimpered, I'll give us that much. 
We laughed too loudly and too often, willing the world to test us. And man, it did just that, systemically. It wore us down thin with a simple lack of tragedy.
I wish I could tell people that your father hated me and our families threatened each other bloody murder. Tragedies are easy to deal with, they follow a predictable arc- great, familiar sadness always leads up to messy joy. But no, our undoing was the everyday nothingness of everything.


I want to put it all in words right now, but my hand is shaking, the computer is too far away and the accounting of it all jumbles itself in my head. Accounting's important, I'm a Math guy. Everyone needs to know what and how much they did- not more, not less.
And anyway, I'm reminding myself to not think about your eyes, they make me want to rip something apart. The way they always rested on something far into the distance, challenging life to present itself to you. 
Why didn't you just stare at the coffee in front of you, or play with your hair, like a normal girl? What made you believe that you were special, so obstinately assured of everything you “deserved”?
Why were you always so afraid to be normal?

Like you were holding some stardust in your tightly clenched fists and were afraid that the world would beat it out of you if you relaxed and let yourself fit in.

Your white-knuckled, stardust-clenching fists, your distant gazing eyes and the steady beat of the blood and resentment coursing through our veins-- I want to scratch all of them out of existence with the tip of a sharp, bloodied pencil.

What is it about epic love that feels like you're invited to perform on stage and your first act has to be to take all your clothes off and walk into the crowd?

No wonder lovers are crazed, manic-eyed, clenched-fists, scared, violent jerks.
In a savage fit of hormones, they promise to commit and to take their clothes off for each other, for life --
Hi, I love you. I promise never to dress again. So you can really see me, understand me and love me. Ok?

Can you imagine picking out groceries with no clothes on?
 NO. I DON'T WANT TO EAT POTATOES TODAY. 
Happiness is distracting, but when there's none even a simple draft of breeze can slice straight through and shatter those bare bodies.
Of course, you're going to be angry all the time, you poor, scared babies. You're naked.

And thats's harsh, at any age.


I'm mad at you. 
Mad at you. 
Mad at you.

I expected you to find solutions and figure things out. I wasn't going to do it, but that didn't mean I didn't want you to. Except your idea was to give me a speech about life and exploring chances. You sad, idiotic girl. No one bets on adventures and hope. Your foolish head of Bukowski and grand plans has let you down now. Or soon it will. Real life is what we were: messy, frayed at the edges and so sharp that your bones can be tattooed with paper cuts if you're not careful.

I remember you going on about some things to do with your feelings, your dreams and the sadness you were carrying around. I don't remember it clearly. I'm not sure I was really listening or that even if I had been I could ever truly understand you.

All I recall is sitting opposite my girlfriend, eating dinner at a dimly lit restaurant where the waiters wore bow ties and jeans. Somewhere after my fourth slice of pizza, I looked down and suddenly I was the only one who was naked.

You'd put on a shirt and jeans and I hadn't even noticed.
I'd been too busy trying to pry your stardust-clenched fists open.



He picked himself off the floor, knowing he wasn't going to email this letter. It's hard to remember how to unbutton a shirt once it's been placed on.

He logged in and posted a selfie instead. #instapic #faith #happy #loveisasmile #instadaily #blessed.


                                    (From this gorgeous art series here)


Monday, 30 June 2014

Love is a Dog From Hell/ Bukowski Reimagined.

Bukowski reimagined.
Because he may have been my favourite drunk and because I want to hang out with him.
Maybe he would say achingly obvious, wise things or maybe he would be crabby and Neruda would laugh at us both.

The Crunch maybe one of his finest works, so here's my not so fine interpretation of what it would look like today.



---

there is an emptiness inside her so great
that you can see it in the furious movement of
a thumb scrolling down a fluorescent screen.


people so fevered
mutilated
either by all the Likes or none at all.


people are just not good to each other.


people don't make sense of each other
across a table
or notice brown, lit-up freckles on a rounded nose
without the affirmation of a #nofilter #tbt.


the Instagrammers are not good to the Bloggers
the Snapchatters are not good to the texters.


we are afraid.


Steve Jobs tells us
that we can all be
big-ass winners.



he hasn't told us
about the gutters
or the suicides.



or the terror of one person
aching in one place
alone

untouched
unspoken to

waiting for a notification.


people are not good to each other.
people are not good to each other.
people are not good to each other.

I suppose they never will be. I don't ask them to be.

But sometimes I think about it.


The computers will suffocate, brunches will no longer be chronicled
and the world will snap into two along a fault-line where the DSL wires are buried deep.


too many too little.
too active too much of a troller too nobody.

more logged in than in love.


people are not good to each other.
perhaps if they were
our newsfeeds would be less cluttered.



-- 



(because my poetry is messed up prose, really. And read asofterworld.com if you haven't)





Thursday, 12 June 2014

23 Reasons Why Everyone Suddenly Loves Lists



1. Because lists are the new short stories.

2. Because short stories are the new novels.



3. Because the last time you saw a novel was when you were using it as a paper –weight.

4. Because less words and more Emojis. 



5. Because the words “LOL”, “ammirite” , “jkbabez” make more sense on a list than in a 700 page novel. 


6. Because ADD became cool. 


7. Because gifs about flying leaves help you understand autumn more than Hemingway, when he said-
You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light."
(Bro, be trippin' on E!)
             
    

8. Because you’ve managed to read so far without thinking of cupcakes. 

9. Because I just made you think of cupcakes. 

10. Because now you’re hungry but you can finish this article and still have time for a second lunch.
Unlike a book which might interfere with your meal schedule.



11. Because now your friend who never read, can regularly share articles about “10 reasons you should date a girl who reads” on your timeline. Ammirite? JKBabez.

12.Because you’ve worked in an office so long that unless something is numbered you don’t register it.

13.Because lists=gifs=you being able to LOL. 


14. Because saying “LOL” as a review of a book or a short story will make you look retarded and illiterate.




15. Because people working at Buzzfeed have jobs which pay taxes.


16. Ok, they don’t. But those Buzzfeed interns deserve to be fed with sandwiches. 


17. Because you’ve wanted to be Type A all your life, and reading these list is the closest you’re getting to it.


18. Because you express your dynamic personality via links. And #tags.  #hereiam #thisisme #theresnowhereelseidratherbe.


19. Because you’re against personality quizzes and slam-books (thankfully, those died in the 1990s- Now to attack the crocs). 


20. Because you can practice how to count with a list. (Currently you’re on number 20, after which comes21. There! now you’re the new Beautiful Mind around).




21. Because Facebook Likes had already cured the world of AIDS, what else was there to do?



22. Because while the rest of your life is falling apart in marvellous chaos, some things should come neatly structured. 



23. Because I was too lazy to write an actual blog post and so this list will have to do.


Tuesday, 3 June 2014

New York, New York

(Suggested Listening: Sinatra here. There's cheesy and then there's classic.)

Living and loving a city is not that different from loving a person.

Being familiar with unduly curves on a body and the odd but distinct placement of a mole gives you as much ownership as knowing about an underground book store makes a city yours. You could spend a decade with someone or have a heady four month relationship and yet never truly quantify which symbolised greater love and passion. And so it is with cities.

I remember discussing this with a friend who lived in London a year longer than I did, and why that made it more hers more than mine. And years later, why two weeks in New York feel as familiar as those years anywhere else.

                          (Fences can't keep the truly wild in. Or out. While walking up the Museum Mile)

But that's what we forget. Two week, eight months, two years or even ten - New York's not going to belong to you. Though you'll make sure you tell everyone who'll hear, that you belong to it. Maybe it almost works because there are around 20 million people on that island attempting the same thing. 
Of course most of them are pissed off daily. I'm guessing it’s because the damned island won't commit.

I didn't get off the plane looking for a relationship with the city; I knew I'd be leaving soon enough. But when did relationships start with contemplation and a well-timed heads-up?


(The Standard Hotel Rooftop: Of skylines which remind you of soaring hearts)


Especially when it involves a city which stretches out every morning with a strong smell of coffee, impatience, lost dreams and new plans. Where Sunday afternoons are almost entirely made up of pancakes with blueberries and mimosas.
Where the coffee, like its cocktails is stiff, tall and if you're living and renting in this city, almost enough to substitute a meal.
A gigantic park here, houses Whimsy (slabs of quotes from Alice in Wonderland), Memories (of Yoko+John and Strawberry Fields) and Practicality (save money by cutting East to West in the city through the park) in the span of 5kms (or miles, if you've even subscribed to their metric system). Whimsy, Memories and Practicality are also the names you've given to the tenants in your apartment building- those you only manage to wave to while rushing in and out.

In this city, you can only walk so far without running head-first into a bar, a homeless man or another Kate Spade outlet.
Of course, most New Yorkers don't have time to look up and notice either. But they will have time to run through abandoned warehouses turned into a set for a play, or on the Highline when the sun's out, clothes are off and hybrid arm-bands help you wear your ipod and your heart on your sleeve.
Tourists on the other hand can be found around Times Square, MoMA, Tom's Restaurant (from Seinfeld) or smiling and talking too much on the L Train.


There's nothing you can't buy in New York, except love. But most nights a good lap dance feels like the same thing, I've been told. If you stop long enough to catch your breath, you might see that this city- its’ museums, stunning views and endless walks- seems to be designed for single people everywhere. To find, immerse and lose themselves in crowds, parks, works of art that you can't bear to look at directly, meals for one so big that they’re begging to be shared and a winter harsh enough to remind you of the benefits of body heat.
But you're not going to find love here. No, not even the Woody Allen version.


                         
                         (Love notes scribbled everywhere you don't expect them to be. Soho)

If you’re lucky and looking up though, other things might happen, like they did with me:
Friendly strangers will hand you charcoal sketches they made of you in the train when you weren't looking; a crazy subway lady will sit with a big plastic bag around her head reminding you of the apocalypse; your phone will go off in the middle of the night declaring a State emergency and lookout for a Honda Civic which abducted a young child. You'll take the uptown train instead of the downtown one and end up at Jackson Heights at one am and miraculously not get mugged or murdered; your friend will more often than not charm her way into free yoghurt at the neighbourhood deli; you'll have margaritas which even your hardened 20-something system will not be able to stomach.

You'll never have had your fill of coffee or Central Park or mustered the sheer will to join the line for the Empire State observatory deck. You’ll somehow manage to fit gigantic bread baskets on the ridiculously tiny Balthazar tables; you’ll get drenched just to get a stunning Instagram of the city’s skyline in the rain; you’ll bemoan constantly how you don’t have enough time to see everything.

You’ll fall in love with stationary and remind yourself that going back home with four notebooks is impractical and silly. You’ll never have enough time or money.

And so you’ll leave New York, like you'd leave a lover. Having tried to bend to become its, but never really succeeding in making it yours.

Pro tip: keep their oversized, I heart NY t-shirt, it fits you better anyway.

                                           (With Lennon at Strawberry Fields, Let It Be)


Monday, 28 April 2014

The Persistence Of Memory

To,
The Lost & Found Department,
The Universe



Dear Sir,


There are somethings I seemed to have lost along the way:



That night in August when it rained too hard and I went to bed early.
A crumpled, yellow paper napkin on which we doodled and detailed, reasons why we would be famous by 2020. The first time I saw ‘Into The Wild’. The last time I took Disney soundtracks seriously. The first time I told you I loved you and  buckled under the sheer relief and horror of having said it out loud.



My first drink which I sipped nervously and that second which I gulped down too fast. That almost worn out, red dress which fit me like a second skin at 22 . That July when I spent every evening watering the garden with my grandmother wondering why summer vacations seemed to stretch on forever. That last summer vacation. My left earring from the first friends' wedding I attended. My gold ring from a baby shower I went to this Saturday. 

The day before the day I learnt that ‘postmodern’ was a term which simply meant “everything’s ok, everything goes”.
The first night I spent talking to you till 4am in the park, convinced that I could never run out of words around you.


That afternoon in college I spent staring at blades of grass because class got cancelled and we had nothing better to do. 
The day after when I concluded that being bored was a burden.
 The frenzied belief I had in every promise you made. The joke I refused to laugh at because I was mad at you. Almost all of the times I’d been mad at you. 
All the evenings I spent last year, being stuck in traffic. The eve of my 25th birthday when I realized that adults are also, in fact, just winging it. The day in school assembly we played that mean prank on her. The earnest effort I put in the first work report I ever submitted. The semi derision and boredom with which I approached the others that followed. The feverish belief with which I argued that love is in fact simple. 
The first time I ran out of words with you. 

                                              Over the Seine, image from (here)

The beach vacation we took in January two years ago. Telling my friend I would punch the guy who broke her heart and not following up. The decision I mostly just talked myself into. The almost toxic hope, potato chips, fizzy drinks, enthusiasm and air that my 21 year old self survived on. Not wishing on a coin in the fountain, like my dad said I should. The draft of my first poem I threw away. The keys I lost for the locks I finally forced open. 

The stories I stored up to tell you for the next time we’d meet.

The music cassettes and my worn-in sweatshirt which I misplaced the last time I moved apartments. The pictures I didn't take with my dog because we were too busy playing. The markers of ‘me’ around a city I no longer lived in. The three girls with knee scrapes identical to mine. The secret password we made up for our play meetings.

What you said after the words, “I need to go”. 

The will to stop you.


On second thoughts, if you do find these. Do not return to sender.

Sincerely,
                                         (Salvador Dali, for post title credit. And photo credit: here)