November 30, 2009

A Tin Full of Tomorrows

At night
in thunderstorms
in the balcony full of potted Philodendrons
pregnant and big
she shudders
and bleeds.

At other times
you could hear her scream
but that’s only
Tinnitus in her ears
you know, that noise within.

Last night
I heard her again
when I pressed my ear to the wall
she doesn’t wish for death, she said,
and likes to go for walks.
She also likes the colours pink and white
Walt Whitman
and Snickers Bar.

November 18, 2009

Little Stoic and her friends

This was on one muggy summer afternoon from the years of unstructured rearing when disobedience and shenanigans are nonchalantly tolerable.
Every evening upon finishing our homework and a glass of milk, the friends would gather at the derelict outhouse which provided the most suitable setting for our juvenile games.
Out of the seven, after the ritualistic chant of ``in-pin-safety-pin-in-pin-out, khelna hai to khelo warna (play if you like or else) get out!'', I was the singled-out participant for the `dare you’ game of the day. Very compliantly I climbed into the corroded age-old closet wherein I, `poorani almari wali chudail' ( the witch of the old closet) , the spell-weaver, had to remain till my companions would challenge and call out in choral rhyme, kya tu hum sabse darkar, baithee jo almari ke andar, bana sakti kya hum sabko bandar, chala kar apna jadoo mantar? ( are you afraid of us that you hide in that closet? Do you have the power to weave a magic spell and turn us into monkeys? ). Thereupon, I, the closet witch, had to come out of my cubbyhole and cast my spell on whoever I’d come upon first.
I did not see the lever turn in the black opacity, nor did I hear the hurried footfalls fading on the desiccating grass. I waited alertly for that signal from my friends, instead, I heard my sniggering mates yelling out that they had tossed up the key to my freedom high up which the sky devoured. Funnily, I did not find my friends' meanness peculiar.
It must have been the clamminess inside, or the suspended stale air, or the cold solid metal against which I reclined sideways, tucking my legs together. In next to no time my olfactory nerves became comatose and I slept. Or fainted.
A weepy and a very hysterical mother discovered me.
Sometimes I dream of those tittering friends from my childhood days.
The key, it was never retrieved.

November 11, 2009

Cyclone alert, my bloody ass

Last evening was at Worli, by the sea. Good idea, left the umbrella back in the car, bad idea, was in denims and a cold shoulder top. Took off the scrunch and let my hair loose. Rolled up the frayed ends of my jeans. Walked over to the bench, the one at the distant end, unoccupied, all of them. Hugged my knees to the chest, resting my chin. The sea, a disparate version of Monet’s unflawed watercolours. Pelt down through the murky, weakening light. Still too early to return. Missed ma's divine bhuna gosht, a ritual every monsoon..she makes it fiery with pepper corns and lal mirch that goes in the phoron.
Shivered uncontrollably. Noisy chatter of the teeth. Cuddled up closer, tighter.
On my way back, a frankie at the Linking Road, pretty decent. Two of the old fashioned doughnuts, the ones dusted with powdered sugar, supple and warm. Another two take-away for the just in case post-midnight-sweet-yen.
Two days, two nights, the out of season gentle sprinkle continues today.
All this and there is no diversion.

November 7, 2009

Vacation (2)

This woman in diaphanous white, in some verdant outdoorsy land, captures a brilliant butterfly. Perhaps the Monarch or the Clouded Sulphur or some unbeknown species. Dead black with thin splodges of untarnished gold all over its wings and delicate fiery scarlet trimmings. The woman panders to this unsophisticated instinct, with childlike naivete, she pinches it just so lightly between her thumb and the middle finger and unhurriedly places it on the tip of her nose. So amused by the prickle and the tickle of its teensy feet on her skin, she begins to chuckle in gurgled mirth. Blithely, she then places it on her cleavage, holding it there for a few sensational seconds just before setting it free. It quivers and quickly flutters away. Unthinkingly she runs her palm over her bosom as if to smooth away the goose-bumps.
The spirit of this diurnal insect is so catching. It does not die away with the lengthening shadows of the day. It is simple, elemental, unspoiled. It is happiness.