Saturday, November 24, 2007

Yaaron Dosti: The Performance Bank [anecdote, video]

Those three videos are from the "Performance Bank", the performance of the slum kids in Aundh at the Vaishwik Art Environment on 01-04-07. Tanu and I had been teaching them some theatre, dance and painting since the beginning of the year, and we came up with the "Performance Bank" where one could donate and show-case one's talent. The kids were absolutely fabulous, as you can see for yourselves!
Anandi was of great help in helping us to work with the kids. She diligently came once or twice a week with her guitar, and accompanied the kids in helping them to find the right note and the right tune! Yaaron Dosti... that's what they sang!
Here's the thank-you time to all the people without whom there would not be a "Performance Bank": Mr and Mrs Gandhi (Anandi's parents for their support), Mr Bhaskar Hande, Gurleen for her beautiful words, Meghna for being there, Nisha and Varsha for allowing the kids to see art from altogether new eyes, Preetal and Namrata, Mi and her family, my parents for the costumes, and above all, Tanu for her faith in carrying the project forward!
Life is beautiful... Smiles are meant to be shared!

Nadi Dance: The Performance Bank [anecdote, video]

This video is about the "nadi-dance". It's a piece of contemporary dance that I taught the kids, based on a theme.
The dance portrays the life of the river, as it starts it's quiet journey and flows through various rythms and emotions. We thus depict its various flows, its turmoils, it's cascade angst, and the end of the piece (the video here) shows the confluence of two rivers.
Kudos to the kids! May the river flow...

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Teaching The Kids The Sega: The Performance Bank [anecdote and a video]

Teaching the sega to the kids was fun! The sega is the Mauritian folk music/dance, and is comprised of a series of instruments (the 'ravanne', the 'triangle', the 'maravanne' etc.), and is mostly drum-based. Though the bone-structure of the sega is the music- an entity complete in itself; the flesh, the beauty, the energy of the sega arises out of its dance, whereby the dance adds to the completeness of the music.
As all folk dances, it represents a crucial part of social life, and such a social activity sees its ideal, its perfection in a bonfire on the beach, by the setting sun, with the musicians playing and singing while the dancers merge with the sound of the 'ravanne', the energy of the fire, and make one with their skirts that they cavort with flair round their waist.
When i decided to teach the sega to the kids, i was anxious as to their reaction to the music, the dance, and what i was trying to teach them. The sega in essence has to be 'felt', without which, try as one may, one would never be able to learn it. Its a dance about the pulsating energy in each human being, to find it, and to express it. So did i wonder: "What if they can't feel it?"
I remember myself getting 8 dupattas to Vaishwik and using them in guise of skirts while trying to teach them the sega. It looks like the pulsating energy is something that is imbibed in the children and their childish spirit. They quickly felt the music deep within and let the flow and verve animate them.
You can see the results for yourselves!
Through dance, we erased all barriers of age, cultural difference, social difference, language...

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Dumb, Dumber and Dumberer [anecdote, opinion]

Anyone who knows me at least a bit well would know the deep emotional and intellectual interest I have in blondes!

Please don’t be too shocked for I may be doing my Masters and I may pretend to have profound interests in philosophy, language, politics and social theory and all, but let’s face it, the core of me consists after all of being a gay man born with pink ribbons tied to my hair; the first time I walked (was just 18 months old, mind you), I was wearing my mum’s high heels (Aaaah! They were silver in colour, I still remember); by the age of 5, I had managed to amass (let’s not use the word steal) a collection of Barbie dolls (including dresses, shoes, accessories, and I won’t even mention Ken); round 7 I had already learnt to sing I Will Survive (*sigh*); when I was 10, I created a scene when my dad bought us a computer (What the hell would I do with a black computer?? It hurt my aesthetic sensitivity, isn’t pink so much better?); at the age of 14 I was convinced the Spice Girls was the best thing that ever happened to the history of humanity; at 15 started reading Cosmopolitan to take care of my education (thought since education and fashion rhymed, they meant the same thing); at 17 started believing Jean Paul Gaultier was God (well yeah, he is!); and by the time I cleared my A-Levels at the age of 18, I could have significant and meaningful conversations about the philosophical axioms underlying the use of the eye-liner, the political consequences of using lip gloss after having layered one’s lips with lipstick (instead of doing it the other way round), and I could proudly and systematically, in the most rhetorical manner prove that the invention of my purple hair-dryer was the biggest invention ever, the one that contributed the most to the happiness of humanity (does that mean I see myself as the centre of the earth?).

Well now here I am! I still listen to the Spice Girls, sing I Will Survive (*sigh*) and I still haven’t figured out what’s the big deal about coffee machines if they can’t even dispense champagne. But now, at the age of 23, I know a few things that I didn’t know in the past. I know for example that there is no one God, there are many of them e.g. Vikram Seth, Salman Rushdie, Brad Pitt (%!@#$!!!), Aristotle, AJ, Simone de Beauvoir, Sundar Sarukkai… And the other thing that I have learnt by now (yeah, I managed to learn quite a few things! :P) is that there is a limit to everything. Of course there is a limit to everything! Everything! Beauty, pride, intelligence, money, grace, my degree of blondness, the amount one can eat, the amount one can read, the amount one can sleep (concerned people please note) etc… etc…

But, now there’s something that defies my (what I thought was irrefutable) logic. The more I step out of my world- where the sky is purple, there are champagne machines and one finds ready-made joints at the paanwala- the more I realize that there is something wrong with the so-called 'real world'. And I think I know what I’m speaking about, for I’ve been spending a few years here and I came to a conclusion that is revolutionary. I am no Marx, Darwin or Freud, but my conclusion is still one that is ground-breaking, world-chattering, or may be I should say appalling, alarming, scary, terrifying… there is one thing that has no limit in this world, and that thing is stupidity!!!

Well, yeah, I may be a blonde at heart (fine, at soul as well, I grant it) but I’ve never seen such profound dumbness ever! I’ve lately encountered a few people who seem to defy all my scientific rules and philosophical principles of limit. There simply is no limit to how dumb they are!

I shall explain. There are, according to me 5 categories of people:

1- smart;
2- ignorant;
3- blondes;
4- pseudos (i.e. pseudo-intellectual);
5- simply DUMB!

I shall not dwell on the first category, and just take it for granted that all of you know what I mean by smart people. It is just really important- and please take note- that when thinking of smart people never think of yourself as smart. Always take as referent, as example, as epitome, as whatever-you-wanna-call-it somebody else. I would say AJ is an intelligent man for example, or MeerA is an intelligent woman. Well it is true that to me that they are both small Gods, but that’s not the point. (For those who don’t know what I’m speaking about, the above-mentioned people- AJ and MeerA- are Professors who’ve had a major impact on my life and are real sources of inspiration to me).

Now, the reason why I am saying one should never think of oneself as being a major contributor to the intelligence of the world has solid grounds. I shall develop that point later, for it is related to the pseudo category, but for now, I will just mention the fact that there are a lot of people who think so highly of themselves, and so highly of their quasi-inexistent brains that they think they are smart. The point is that THEY ARE NOT!! Further details later…

I am not planning to dwell on the second category either: ignorant. We all know what is meant by ignorant, and I must say, I love ignorant people, for at least they are just people who do not know (whatever the epistemic field is). And the reason why I am so fond of them is that they are way better than the pseudo or dumb categories. They may not ‘know’ but at least they know that they don’t know.

Next we come to the blondes! Well the blondes, we all know them! For those who don’t have a single clue what I’m speaking about, watching Legally Blonde would act as a very good beginning. You know, it’s not about being dumb, but it’s just about seeing the world from a different angle, that is, a blonde angle! I mean, asking what’s the use of coffee machines if they can’t even dispense champagne is a relevant question. Or thinking that ‘caesarian sections’ refer the ‘Roman districts’ or ‘labour pain’ means ‘one got hurt at work’ are mistakes we could all make (okay, may be not!!). My contention is that the blonde-perspective is understandable for the only difference between blondes and non-blondes is that blondes happen to be intelligent beings, but it’s just that they don’t have grey material but pink or purple instead. As a consequence, they tend to see the world from different eyes and live the world from different perspectives, the result of which is that they simply use their brains for different intellectual matters. Their concern seems to be in handbags, hair styles etc, and not in deep existential or politico-economic questions. (AS A RULE: never talk about world poverty to a blonde. Possible reactions: poor people? No that’s not true I never saw any! Oh if we kill them all, there’ll be no poor people left. Well yeah I don’t mind poverty, but why do poor people dress so badly?!)

Next comes the final categories: pseudos and dumb people. It just so happens that the former is a sub-section of the latter. Let us study the smaller section first and see how pseudos are a sub-section of dumb people. The fact is that pseudos are ignorant people, let’s face that fact. The problem occurs when they try to act smart, and that’s where things go wrong. The very ‘dumb-ness’ of pseudos is that they speak of matters they do not know anything about, or may be have a very broad idea of, but they never actually took the pains of finding out what those things are about. I mentioned already that the really smart people are the ones who have the power, inclination and wisdom of recognizing and acknowledging that they do not ‘know’. Socrates is without doubt the prime example, for we all know how the Oracle at Delphi said that Socrates was the wisest man of Athens, to which he replied that all I know is that I do not know anything. His very wisdom lies in his humility, in realizing the fact that there’s so much that he does not know. Now my argument is that when one does not know but pretends to know, that is exactly where that person commits the unforgivable mistake, for that is exactly where one is not only dumb, but also acts dumb! To me, that portrays the heights of being ridiculous, and that too, stupidly so.

I shall now take my favorite example to illustrate that point. See a summer school on philosophy in one of the most recognized research institutes of the country, where for three weeks, we are studying philosophy, talking philosophy and even writing a paper on philosophy. Amongst us are rather mediocre students like me, who study the social sciences and the humanities, and really brilliant PhD students in philosophy who really master their subject. Quite obviously, the interaction gets more interesting by the day where we look forward to the classes, and the discussions with the other philosophy students whom we regard as priceless sources of knowledge. Picture the following: an evening where a few are us are sitting and listening to those philosophy students explaining Kant and Descartes, what they said, and the importance of what they said. One of them was ‘the philosophy student’ (who seemed very close to a Socrates of the modern times), and at a point of time we are joined by ‘baby’ who is a student of English (what a shame!) who thinks doing a Masters in English is solely about understanding the emotions that the poet expresses througha poetry (huh? what is she speaking about?), that there is no such thing as a caste system that in India, who writes assignments after reading Wikipedia, and claims that the ultimate aim of doing a Masters in English is ‘to understand books better’ (somebody please kill me!!).

The Philo Student: Whatever it is, Descartes, Kant and Leibniz are my ultimate favorite philosophers.

Baby: Oh! So you like the empiricists?!

The Philo Student (with a look of stupefied horror on his face that seemed to wonder how one can blaspheme thus): Euuhhh… No… They were all rationalists.

Why couldn’t she simply keep quiet and listen?

Well that’s what I call the prime example of being dumb. When one does not know about something, one learns about it, and does not pretend to know about it. There’s nothing worse than pseudos…

We thus come to the final category now: dumb. I don’t know how to describe dumb people except through the use of examples. We’ve all met them, we’ve all talked to them, we’ve all realized how dumb they are. I shall now give my ultimate favorite epitomic instance of how dumb one can be. That was THE event that made me realized that there is actually no limit at all to how dumb one can be.

Setting: University of Pune, Department of English. There we do see the brilliant minds of the city, the thinkers, the ones who have a passion for literature, for politics, the media, culture studies, philosophy, in short the humanities.

INSTANCE 1: just 5 mins before a poetry exam where we had to study something like forty poems. Princess comes in.

Princess: Can you explain Yeats’ poem Ode To A Grecian Urn to me please?

Amak: Hmmm, it’s not Yeats, but it’s Keats and its not Ode ‘to’ but Ode ‘on’ a Grecian Urn. The exam’s staring in 5. It would take me at least an hour to discuss the whole poem, so may be you should just ditch it and go and find your seat.

Princess: But… But… Noooooo… Teach me the first stanza!

Amak: Just the first stanza would take me 20 mins at least, so just get going.

Princess: Okay, Okay… just the first line then.

Did she actually think that knowing just the first line of a whole 50 lines poem would help her in any way to understand anything at all about the poem?

Princess: Tell me, tell me, why does he say “Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness” in the first line??

I knew that in just 3.5 minutes I could not go into the details of the persona’s quest for immortality, of the transience of human life as opposed to the aeonian nature of the work of art and how even if the urn is seen as silenced in the beginning, it ‘voices out' its truth by the end of the poem.

Princess: Does he say that because the bride on the day of the wedding is supposed to keep quiet and all, and not talk?!!!

(I tried my best not to faint, and I told myself, may be she’s not dumb, may be she’s just too stressed out, or may be she just did not read any of the 40 poems she had to study, so I will let it pass and not be judgmental and not call her dumb)

INSTANCE 2: (at the canteen, while talking politics with a group of friends.)

Amak: Well I guess it’s just too much of my Communist ideas that make me think so.

Princess: What?? You are a Communist??!!! (She had tears in her eyes: she did not know what communist meant, but she just knew it was a real bad disease; a pact with the devil, an anti-Christ who wanted to destroy the world. Later on we learnt that our Princess- a student of humanities doing her masters- thought Communist meant something on the lines of Taliban.)

I very nicely did not pass off any comments, shrugged it off under the name of ignorance though I was shocked and highly embarrassed to know I am studying at a university where we even studied Marxism and where somebody did not know what communism means.

INSTANCE 3: (While discussing a poem in class with AJ our kickass-est professor)

Princess: Sir in the second paragraph of the poem…

AJ (cutting her with a horrifying look in his eyes): Eeuuuuuhhhh, PARAGRAPH???

I felt pity for him. He must be the most brilliant mind that is there in Pune and having his M.A. student calling a stanza a paragraph must have really hurt. Sigh… had I been in his place, am quite sure I would have exploded with rage. Now to me, that’s the heights of being dumb. And princess is not a lay-woman, she brags all over the place that she is a ‘tam-brahm’, that she graduated in English and aspires to join the civil services. That was painful to me as well. At least the blondes make me laugh, but that chick was simply painfully dumb!

And as if to defy all my resignation in the face of pure dumbness, she had to come up with INSTANCE 4, and I swear that one nearly killed me. It was the climax of how dumb people can be, and since then I just never ‘see’ her when she is around and I never ‘hear’ her when she speaks for she killed all faith that I could have had in humanity and a better world.

INSTANCE 4: In class, an M.A. class, where AJ is explaining that we will try to study the very notion of poetry. We will seek to find and establish what is that ‘thing’ that people call poetry, if there is any such thing. The method we’ll adopt will be by studying various types of poetry, have case-studies of each, and then by the end of those three months, we’ll hopefully be able to derive the a conclusion as to what poetry is, what makes poetry and what is the thread that connects all that we term as poesy (is there is any such thing). So he tells us that we’ll start off by studying the epic as a form, then move on to the sonnet, the villanelle etc.

AJ: We will read sections from Homer’s Odyssey and The Iliad and then have a look at Virgil’s Aeneid, quite obviously spend some time on Milton’s Paradise Lost etc. etc…

Now, mind you, I cannot help myself reiterating the fact that this is an M.A. class, studying literature, and Princess is a student who already studied 3 YEARS of literature in the past.

The class gets over, AJ walks out and we start picking up our books and all so we can be off.

Princess: Tell me please, what is the book he said we will study?

Amak: Homer, Virgil…

Princess: Yeah, yeah that one! What is the name?

Amak: Virgil’s Aeneid.

Princess: Can you spell it out for me?

(Gosh! She’s mad!! At this point Nisha comes to the rescue.)

Nisha: A.E.N.E.I.D; Virgil’s Aeneid.

Princess: Oh yeah! I always get confused! AND WHO IS THE AUTHOR OF THE BOOK??!!!!

Amak and Nisha: #@#$%^^**fgf*&@#!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I nearly died. I wish I could die… Nisha trying to conceal the dread in her expression said it was Virgil who wrote it.

And Princess wrote it in her notebook: Aeneid by VIRGIN…
There'll be no conclusion to that piece of writing. You are all free to infer whatever you want from it. Please check the comments, it has a post-scriptum there.

Friday, September 7, 2007

The Tinkle Of Those Gunghroos [a sonnet]

Tap of feet shimmering in my ears,
Eyebrow raised, ivory neck adheres
To Sitar stirring notes of dupatta flowing,
Unforeseen: A Deity in a lotus bowing.

Fingers touch, caress, divorce each other,
Flute, matki, ghat- a form, yet another.
Tabla narrating a Bindravan romance,
He twirls to the flute: Is he in a trance?

Dha Ge Na Ti, Na Ga Dhi Na,
Dha Ge Na Ti, Na Ga Dhi Na…
Suddenly he freezes: a moulded sculpture
A leg raised, hands united in prayer.

Do the Gods beguile me; is he a mirage?
Divine clay immobile he, becomes the Nataraj.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Rains' Daughter [poetry]

Her skin,
Happy as a toad hopping amongst silver pearls in wet grass,
Bided adieu to its clothing:
The oily layers of filth and dust.

Rain drops slapped her face
Like icy shooting stars hitting the ocean.
Cold enveloped her body,
A blanket of ice, she thought,
Mummification in snow!

Muddy water inundated her shoes.
Coffee powder added to milk,
White socks turned brown,
Sticking to her skin,
Like jelly fish on a fisherman’s foot.

The sky’s shower dampened her hair,
Made every inch of her face wet.
The lusty tongue licked her thin lips,
Her pointed nose, grey eyes, emaciated eyebrows…
Smudged black lines flowed down her marble eyes.
She gave in to the rain and kissed it back:

Her tongue traveled over the edge of her upper lip.
It tasted of diluted apple juice-
Pink gloss dissolving in water.
Small pearls formed down the lobe of her ears;
She changed ear rings every eight seconds.
Then they fell,
And disappeared within the cotton of her grey kurti.

The deluge raided every inch of her self:
Thunder beat its drums in her ears,
Spider drops weaved a watery net round her legs,
Thighs, breasts, neck: her whole body;

Like horse leeches refusing to let go,
Black jeans agglutinated themselves to
Her calves, legs, knees and buttocks:
She walked in her new denim skin.

The Drop of Red [fiction]

She listens to the static on the radio and assumes that there’s nothing left to explore. There’s a bitter taste in her mouth. A gale of haze runs through her nostrils down to her lungs and reaches her blood stream: the half-smoked joint makes her heartbeats slow down. The room projects a rainbow of smells: camphor, burnt leaves, wet earth… The yellow light of the lampshade is adulterated by the circles and waves of white smoke that fly around till they thaw in the air.

She lies naked in her bed. Her dark skin against the white. She is the drop of black that fell onto the veil of the bride. The sheets are contaminated with warmth. Heat that her own body (and somebody else’s?) transferred onto the bed. She feels the moist of the cotton pillow cover against her cheek. Her whole body is still covered with beads of perspiration that came unto her like tiny spiders cornering a mosquito.

She realizes that it was not only her own body that gave birth to that thin layer of pearly water that lends a glow to her skin. There, on her tainted skin, also lies the sweat, the saliva, the toxic chemicals of another one. She wonders whether his excrements and hers will make love and give birth to a monster. Not the same monster that was under her bed when she was a child: she sees her bronze skin covered with pestilence and pandemic boils. Gloomy craters vomiting blackened purple liquids. Dry skin being ripped off like iron foils in stormy weather exposing the shame of her charcoal blood.

She sits up, her arms around her legs, chin on her knees, black curls falling on her face. She hugs herself in the fetus-like position listening to the clock ticking thirty times or so.

She finally gets out of bed. The tip of her toes touches the cold white marble- her first touch with the earth! Goosebumps, like small snowy hills suddenly cropping up on a desert, assault her legs. And it’s tip-toed that she makes her way through the paints, brushes, books, papers, canvasses lying on the ground. Her hand reaches the tap, and she lets herself drown in the boiling drops excreted by the shower. They wrap each part of her body- her face, her hair, her tongue, her lips and even her most private parts.

In the room, alone, amongst the snow of the bed sheets... remains the drop of red.

Mother India [poetry]

Orange Pills.
White Pills.
Green Pills.

Mother India, I'll die for you.

The Blank Page [poetry]

Old rag picker leaning on a stick,
She bends over the desk.
Her spine curves itself:
Reed giving in to the wind,
She bows to a new Deity-
The White Page.

Black curls cover her face.
Crimson tip of her slim fingers
Push back the silken net.

Her diamond pendant touches the desk,
(Like flowers at the feet of a Goddess)
And as the reed again stands straight,
The gleaming ornament flutters back
To the black of her blouse,
Like a fire-fly in the midst of dark night.

Globe revolving around the sun,
She turns her head, looks around.
Kajal-butterfly eyes search for nectar,
And settle down on the white Goddess.

She stares at the blank page in front of her:
A portrait that ran away from its frame.

Fifteen eye-blinks later,
Whispers amble in her ears.
She grabs her pen
With the zeal of a young man
Throwing himself over his lover.

Like ants ravaging a lump of sugar,
Blue alphabets violate the virginity of the page;
Like Arachne weaving a new attire,
A new work of art is stitched upon the page.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

In the Land of Dreams... [poetry]

In the land of dreams I met a sage:
Said I’m destined to be a Queen on stage,
He saw me shine in the dark like a beam,
Perfecting the art in an act supreme!

His deep voice addressed me with finesse,
Guided me on the road to success,
Cautioned me to always strive and fight
So the flame in me I would ignite.

“If you want triumph to be your song,
Always remain strong all along,
For nothing in life is trouble-free,
Fly like a bee on a honey spree!”

Ever since, I perform my best,
Trounce the hardships that come as a test
Into my life to dispute my resolve
My passions I’ll never let dissolve!

Nightly by the light of a candle,
I pray that obstacles I can handle
That my aspirations never strife
So I can find blessedness in my life.

I know that real was that dream,
That someday like a star I will gleam;
That deep within me rests a seed,
Waiting to grow till the day I succeed.

The Daily PMT Experience [fiction]

My hands hold on tight to the pole. I shift my weight with the grace of a ballerina, a toss of the head and a straight spine: back to reality. Half my body feels secure, welded to the tiny space I managed to claim for myself. Once cold, the metal net against which half my chest reclines has soaked up some of my body heat. In exchange, it’s giving me a tattoo of grids that remind me of a fishing net. The other half of my body is still hanging out of the bus.

The fifteen minutes spent in front of the mirror this morning brushing my hair was a waste of time. But I don’t mind: it feels good to have the wind slapping my face, flapping the end of its dupatta at my skin.

I’m flying over Pune like a bat in broad daylight. Hundreds of images swiftly sweep by: trees, walls, slums, bikes, rickshaws, dogs, cows, donkeys, men… The forms appear, the colors get smudged, the outlines are blurred and they merge into something else. An amalgam of odours whirl their way to my nostrils: flowers’ aromas, dust, garbage, dung, and more prominently the acrid smell of carbon and other chemicals being vomited out of a jungle of engines. I feel the bile getting active inside: the coffee and toasts I had this morning want to get out of the comfort of my stomach. I close my eyes and turn my head to the other side, trying to move further inside the bus. That can only make me feel better, but it doesn’t!

I realise I’m now suffocating: a fat humpty-dumpty man is pressing his fleshy circular corpulence against my back. I feel the moist and the warmth from his armpit on my right shoulder. His straight black hair is vaporizing the entire bus with a smell of ripe jackfruit fried in coconut oil. “Lucky nahi, Champi!” Well the advertisement is definitely misleading: am the unlucky one out here! My bag is trapped between an old lady’s hips and the fat men’s legs; my right foot gets trampled on by a school kid trying to pave his way to the insides of this moving furnace.

“Vidyapeeth, Vidyapeeth” shouts the man in brown. There’s a forceful shuffling, combinations and permutations of men, women and children trying to get near the door, or trying to secure a seat. A couple of more shouts, pushing and pulling, ‘ding-ding’, and before the bus comes to a halt, I’m out on secure land.

Things have settled a bit in my stomach, but I can still feel the acidity burning my insides.
My hands now smell of a metallic vinegary odour. That’s the price to pay for traveling by the PMT buses! I take my yellow ticket, and I start rubbing it against my hands. It’s not that the bus ticket has anything pleasant about it’s texture, in fact, it is just a thin piece of paper impregnated with black grids and numbers I cannot even understand. However by crushing it against my palms, and rolling it round my fingers, I am hoping to get rid of the sour smell on my hands, and infuse them instead with the smell of the paper.

I start walking…

Incest [poetry]

You are my father,
You are my brother,
You cannot be my lover;
But I still fell in love with you.

I tried to hide my feelings,
Stabbed my mind to convince myself,
False consciousness of the real world:
My love repressed, twisted, closeted and twirled.

I was in love with you,
I had desired you,
And wanted to make love to you,
But incest’s shame was looking down on me.

I used to love you… to love you,
But now I hate you:

You pretended to be my brother,
You pretended to be my father.
I pretended to be your brother,
I pretended to be your son.

Wasn’t I all the while your lover?

No More Optimism [poetry]

You took hold of her,
You abused her,
And threw her off the window.

She felt so crushed,
She agonized in pain,
Thus left, she bled in the rain.

But you came back to her,
Fell down on your knees,
And asked her to forgive.

No more optimism
No point in building
On bases that are collapsing

As the sun was rising,
You made scrambled eggs,
And brought her breakfast in bed.

She felt so delighted,
Jumped on you excited,
You lost hold of the plate.

No more optimism
No point in building
On bases that are collapsing

You looked for the perfect ring,
All was there for the wedding,
You in black and she in white.

Her face smiled under the veil,
Her dress danced like an aquarelle,
But she stepped on it and down she fell.

No more optimism
No point in building
On bases that are collapsing

Years just went by
In your senseless life
And you often tried and tried.

But in the end you wouldn’t make it;
That’s how she woke up of her dream
Realizing you’d thrown her off the window.

No more optimism
No point in building
On bases that are collapsing

The Wife [fiction]

Twilight, the gradual descent. The exhausted light finally gives way to darkness. The firmament puts on a black mask, sprinkled with silver particles. Except for the taken for granted evening sounds of bikes, children shouting, doors banging, televisions playing louder than necessary and pressure cookers exhaling unending gusts of steam, it’s rather quiet. I’m out on the balcony for a smoke.

The alchemist street lights, lend a golden touch to the lane under my balcony. The wind blows carrying in its bowels the smells of masalas, bhajis, turmeric, fried chillies, and freshly baked chapattis. I suddenly see my wife nine years ago in the kitchen.

There she is in her perfectly draped virgin-white sari. Her slightly round shoulders, her slim arms, her firm round voluptuous breasts quietly lying in her tight bodice, her thin waist and curvy buttocks, her bronze hair tied in a bun- all that I had found beautiful in her. There is a slight parting near her forehead with a small red line running through, like a small stream in the midst of dense growth. Adorning her neck, a series of golden and black droplets.

She’s removed all her rings and her scarlet bracelets, and her small fair hands are frantically busy pulling, pushing, squeezing and cuddling. She seems inexperienced when it comes to the whole matter… But soon the dough for the rotis is ready. Lightning strikes in her eyes and her thin lips part slightly betraying the smile of satisfaction that she gives to herself.

“Jaan, dinner will be ready soon” she tells me. And I’m already drooling at the idea of the rotis and sabjis served on the new crème porcelain ware with candles being witness to such bliss.

“Oye bastard, I need your help!” I concentrate on my smoke and pretend not to hear.

“Oyyyy, u coming?”

I wish I could disappear, but I can’t, and it’s with a sigh of exasperation that I see her now as she is in the kitchen. With the army-green sari she is wearing she looks like a commander in her headquarters. She keeps running to and fro, carrying the burden of her corpulence around, from the sink, to the gas stove, to the cupboard, and to the sink again. The aluminum and steel clashes and clatters as she cuts and chops, and mixes the vegetables in the frying pan. I look at the ceiling and thank the Gods for the creation of those unbreakable precious metals: otherwise she would have ruined me more than she already did. I stand against our broken fridge, on which lies our broken micro-wave.

“What is it that you want now?”

“Go and get me palak, and come back fast!”

Go and get you palak. Go and do this. Go and do that. Yes Commander! Yes!

I leave looking at her… Her green saree… Her fiery red henna-dyed hair loose and falling all over her oily wrinkled face… How she reminds me of a bunch of half-dried palak that’s on fire!

Silence And Its Persian Accent [fiction]

The clanking, clashing and clattering of cups and plates slowly faded as we strolled further away from the canteen. Our promenade started finally, and the sun, as if jealous of the smiles on our face, immediately started burning the back of our necks. The comments started right away: “Let us observe, scrutinize and examine; let us share this experience with each other…”

I started walking faster, seeking the silence of those green beings who would provide us an escape from the scorching sun. Oh! They all looked so old: coarse bodies that have been standing there in all their majesty for centuries altogether; their darkened brown roots holding a firm grip into the ground and the wrinkled cracks that Nature made in their trunks seemed likely to remain there forever, never to be restored to new attire.

Fragments of words in a Persian accent reached my ears: “Creativity, express, inspiration…” Our stroll would turn out to be a treasure hunt: golden silence in a hidden chest. I started walking faster, they started walking faster, but even he started walking faster. The monkeys lost their heads and cried in despair.

“Oh! Just keep quiet!” she finally shouted. She was about to blow his head apart, and make him freeze out there just like all the monkey-without-heads dustbins. “You have to keep quiet and only then will you be able to observe. Just be silent, and observe!”

Our ears were at once tickled by the sound of water flowing, and a distant chirping of birds. The distortions on her face disappeared: her two eye-brows that had come together as one now parted from each other and took back their original place. Her nostrils came to peace and stopped their slight throbbing each time she inhaled and exhaled. The slight prominence of her jaws vanished and her pressed nicotine lips that had looked smaller than usual relaxed, went back to their normal size, and the expression on her face betrayed an almost imperceptible smile of satisfaction.

It seems our treasure had been found! We started walking in silence, accompanied by the cacophony of our footsteps. Our shoes trod on stones, leaves and muck, and sometimes, a splash of water would add to the dissonance. I wasn’t too content with the grandness of the trees… The triangular, round, square, oval leaves… The olive-green, bottle-green, jade-green… The Rahuls and Radhikas carved in wood and put to display as works of art… I wanted more adventure.

“Let us go to the main building,” I said. “There may be a treasure waiting to be found out there!”

Yellow Jungle [fiction]

The sun is trying hard to break through the thick grey clouds. It’s wet outside, remnants of last night’s heavy rains. A new day ahead: I walk to the bus stop.

The road is covered with a viscous sheath of mud, instilled with prints of tyres and chappals. It’s now my turn to pay tribute to the road: I stamp my Nike hoof mark on the mire with each step I take. I look at the clouds, feel the tickle of the wind’s silk hands on my face, smell the litres of Hugo Boss that I showered on my body this morning, grin at myself for being handsome and wearing a new Fab India Kurta, when I step on something softer than the sludge.

“Shit!” I shout! I look down. It’s just a rotten papaya...

No, it’s not! It’s actually on a yellow pile of mustard coloured shit of some unknown cursed animal that my Nike shoe royally trod on! I decide not to spoil my mood because of some creature’s excrement and I pretend that it was really a rotten papaya that I had stepped on. So, I make my way to the bus stop with a smile on my face.

I reach there. There is a yellow rectangular cubicle just across the road. It’s a men’s public toilet. Public in all the senses of the word! So public that it gives an open-view of it’s two lavatories, once white may be, but now soiled to the point where they look more murky than the road itself. So public that you can actually notice the red splotches inside that are now an integrate part of the cubicle’s identity. So public also, that it is open to all to admire our local men pull up their lungis and dhotis to “privately” urinate.

The whole place smells of urine: fresh urine, two days old urine, one week old urine, antic urine…

Next to the over-public loo, on the right lies a yellow trapez… (well yeah, YELLOW again) It seems I didn’t dream. The good soul that feeds on the all the garbage of the surrounding area happens to be a yellow trapezium-shaped metal container as big in size as a car. There it reclines, slowly digesting it’s food at it’s ease, and burping and farting putrid-eggs flavoured gases.

Here’s a donkey also. The mud wrapped animal, it’s tail swinging like a pendulum, and it’s triangular ears pointed upwards, has it’s head bent down in a pile of rubbish that adorns the garbage bin on all the sides. The animal searches cautiously. The grey tip of its nose goes through the plastic bags, the wet garbage, the dry garbage… It goes round the yellow bin, searches some more, and seemingly unsatisfied, strolls to the other side of the road in the hope of better luck.

And now comes my way three brunette goats. They look like beauty queens ramp-modelling on the muddy road. Each of their step is taken at regular intervals, in a synchronized way. Their dark fur looks like it has been oiled, shampooed, conditionned, and blown dry. They even have golden strips of hair on their body that lends them a “i-just-went-to-the-parlour-for-a-bleach” attitude.

One of them stops walking. It stands still and suddenly an assortment of black pearls come out of its behind and spread on the road, rolling in all directions. I turn my head away from such wealth and look around.

“Shit, donkeys, goats, men… Am I in a jungle?!”