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?!”