December 10, 2009

Broken Sisterhoods

They sat, eyes fixed on the images that flickered in front of their eyes, friends trapped in a radio station so they can tell the world what dirty politics is all about. They sat, listening to what the friends had to say as they held hands in their very last minutes, tears streaming down their faces.

When the screen went lifeless after three long hours, they waited for the lights to come on, for the credits to roll, for the people to file out of the hall, for the stillness of an empty theatre. They waited, until the stall boy came to usher them out, saying it was time for the next show and they had to clear the place.

They filtered out of the hall then, footsteps in slo-mo, and made their way to the cafe that had seen them spend five years of studying, competitions, lectures, bunking class, love, hatred, envy and conversations. An hour to the farewell in college, two weeks before the final exams that would then determine their worth. Two weeks before they would take those first tentative steps into worlds that would be waiting for them, worlds that they may not go to, together.

"Let's do this...let's promise to be together across geographies, lets know what is happening in each other's lives."

"Yeah, totally. And let's make this a pact, right? We will approve each other's men and if we don't, then we will just have to look for the man that everybody approves of."

"Dude, that IS silly now."

"No, I don't think so, c'mon, that way we will all be involved and stay in touch."

"I still think it's a bit much..."

"Deal or not...?"

"Uhh...okay. Deal."

And so it was. The farewell happened. Post graduations happened. And so did jobs.

They moved cities, they moved countries, they moved continents. Marriages happened, houses were bought.

Fashions changed and so did career interests. And all this, on the foundation of broken sisterhoods. Long forgotten, long lost. To the extent that death may come...but time still happens. Life still goes on.

November 10, 2009

Forty Years

Nothing he did made her happy. There always was something that could be corrected, improved, tweaked, changed, worked upon.

Nothing was perfect...of course, perfect was not a possibility and everybody had a different definition of perfection. But he tried. Every time. Every day.

Forty years hence, she knew he would never come close to what she wanted him to do. Forty years hence, he knew she would never really say - This is exactly how I wanted it.

Forty years hence, they would sometimes ask themselves if it was all in vain, the effort, the trials. They would have varying answers depending on their moods.

Forty years hence, they would wonder what would life be like had they made other choices. Forty years...

Forty-one years later, they would know this...if not this, they would have another life, another future, but not this.

This, that they have now. This, that keeps them going. This, that they have found with each other.

Forty-one years later, they would trade those forty years for one more year with each other. Minus all the hunting for perfection, the expectations, the assumptions. One more year.

October 26, 2009

Raiments And Ruminations

Sometimes, several years down the line when you look at all those clothes in your wardrobe, you will run over all the clothes you already had. Interesting little bits of cloth, bought at reasonable and unreasonable prices. Clothes that are now, perhaps, in the cupboards of once flood victims, earthquake victims, in the house of the utensil seller who gave you a saucepan in exchange for the pair of denims that did not fit you any longer.

Clothes tucked away in unfamiliar cupboards, in unknown crevices of people's lives, clothes that were once yours and are now fragments in an unknown world. Clothes that you once flaunted, that are now recycled and make the packaging for the latest brand of eco-friendly LEDs.

Clothes that kept you warm, that you held close to your body and heart oftentimes. Clothes that have melted colours and texture to become less and more than what they once were, fresh from the factory, smelling of dyes and chemical wash.

Clothes like people, that came and went, left an impression and then were too old to continue with you on your journeys. Clothes like people, that you donated, discarded, grew out of, loved, hated, felt awkward with, loved all the time, any time of the day and night, clothes like people that made you feel comfortable before a scary stage show, an important interview, that perfect proposal where you hoped the answer would be in the affirmative.

Clothes like people, new and old, in style and out of style, sometimes utilitarian, sometimes fancy, sometimes just accessories, sometimes too expensive and sometimes on heavy discounts.

And your wardrobe, like life. Changing, changing, changing.

September 29, 2009

Only For A Day

It flies over several horizons, sometimes chasing the sun, sometimes the moon, sometimes a constellation, in circles, in straight cut lines. But fly it does, across time and distance, over forests that have frozen over time into canyons and steep cliffs, over rivers that have turned to glacial masses, over seas that have crusted over and turned into saline lands, over fiery volcanoes that have turned to islands.

Fly it does, over the wilderness, where beasts know nature and stand in silent worship, over generations that see drops of water frozen into glistening flint. Fly it does, on a wing, fighting snow storms, fighting blizzards, sandstorms and gales. Fly it does, for a minute in your embrace. For a single glimpse of you, who mirrors its own, for one look of recognition when you look into those eyes and see yourself looking back at you.

Fly it does, for its love is selfish and it comes just to know that such love exists for it, beyond lifetimes and learnings. Fly it does, for its love is selfless, who else should undertake a journey so impossible for a singular glimpse of this love?

You call it a soul mate, a lover, a spouse, a parent, a is neither of those names and still all those names, but how will you trap that which has no bounds into words? For fly it will, tomorrow, when you awaken, it will be gone, it will leave no trace. It was here, but only for a day.

For selfish it is, it came for a glimpse of that love that it knew waited endlessly for it, across trees blackened with age, across caves clogged with ice. For fly it must, selfless that it is, lest you trap it and yourself into the illusion that there is 'two'.

Two is too painful for one to exist. And so, fly it must. And fly it will.

September 16, 2009

The Choice

He had little fingers. Small, pink and they curled around her index finger, making her realize how big her hands were compared to his tiny ones. His eyes were sealed shut and his pink eyelids were almost translucent, under which swam dreams, colors and angels, while he readied to see sights that were only sounds and feeling for nine long months.

All of a sudden, he heard her voice. The same voice that he would hear, words that made no sense, but filled him with an uncomfortable feeling nevertheless. He didn't like it and he cringed, his skin bristling even as it formed in her body.

She was leaving. She was not waiting for him to open his eyes and look at the body that fed his, the voice that spoke to him, the mouth that sometimes sang to him, sometimes yelled, sometimes wept.

He felt an urgent need to block all feeling out suddenly, to go back to where he came from, to stop breathing, it hurt so much anyway, his little lungs bursting with the effort. He did not want to open those eyelids that were pressed shut, and he did not want to lose sight of the angels that were preparing him for this new world - he beckoned to them and asked them to take him away, this was the world he did not want to see anymore, behold anymore.

The angels agreed.

His fingers went limp around her finger. She didn't want him. And he didn't want this world, without her. She was all he knew. He knew he was granted an exception before he left with the angels.

And that every child like him did not have that same choice.

August 27, 2009

Till Death Do Us Part

When they fought, he would make up. And eventually, in a few minutes, she would relent, and the world would be perfect again.

So when he left home to buy a strip of medicines that she needed, locking her inside the house like he did when she was cooking and not free to come close the door behind him, she did not sense anything amiss. She let him go. She decided to make up once he came back. She would be calmer, he would be calmer and the world would be perfect again.

Ten minutes, Fifteen. Twenty. She started panicking. She reached for her cell phone, dialling his speed dial and heard the familiar ring-ring. Only, this time, it rang not only in her ears, but also in her bedroom. He had forgotten his cell phone home. Paranoia set in as she leapt out of the bed and ran to the door, pounding it, pulling until the handle wobbled. But it didn't budge. She ran to the balcony, wondering if she could leap out and reach the terrace, find her way down and go look for him.

She grabbed a rosary, chanting his name, back and forth between the door and the balcony, looking out for him, his retracing footsteps, the sound of his vehicle. When she saw the familiar, relief would break in, before realising that the footsteps were a stranger's, approaching other doors, other lives. Fresh waves of hysteria would break in and threaten to break her will.

Anything if you let him come home, she gasped, her eyes on the altar, the god she worshipped smiling down at her.

Her eyes darted around the house they had built, the things they had filled it with, each meaningless if he did not come home. She thought about the assigments pending at her work place, all valueless if he did not come home. She saw the discarded bit of toffee wrapper he had left on the floor, suddenly so precious, the last thng he touched before leaving home.

She thought of his mother, his family, the baby they had still not had, the plans that had still not materialized, the house they had still not built, the plans they had made together, suspended in time, caught in an unbreakable time warp. She rocked back and forth, back and forth, huddled and curled up on the bed he had slept on once, when she poured a bottle of water over his head and he had chased her round the house.

And under that hysteria, the paranoia, was a voice telling her she knew this, she knew death, he was a familiar friend, this was not the unknown she was facing, this was not the fear she had not been warned of. This...this was an old friend come to revisit...perhaps, perhaps, maybe in passing, maybe to stay.

A calm gradually settled in, silence took over, a silence so thick, she could cut it with a knife. A silence so thick, she thought she would drown in it, as the sobs subsided and she thought of ways to get out, find him, and bring him back...or find him, and then find ways to end her own life.

The silence frightened her more than anything else, the realisation that she could think of death in a neat flow chart-like way was alarming. It brought on a fresh wave of sobbing that threatened to tear her down and rip her apart. She wound the rosary tightly around her wrist, hoping it would sear and burn through her pulse and end her life when she heard a familiar ring again. Her phone. She shot out of her curled up position and headed for the bedroom and her phone, jabbing the 'answer' keypad and whispering a raspy 'hello'.

'I can't find it anywhere. Should I go a little ahead and see if its available?"

She broke down in wails, her voice breaking and tearing, while he grew increasingly alarmed on the other end.

"Baby, what happened?"

"Come home. Now!" she rasped, hanging up after he said a hurried 'yes'.

She wept into the phone and promised to never, ever fight with him. She had come dangerously close to losing him and her sanity and nothing demanded that she go through the same again. She cried for five more minutes before getting up to fry his eggs.

When they sat down for dinner, it was an unusually quiet affair, his stealing concerned glances at her, her lowered eyes trying to force the tears back into her eyes. One big tear rolled, 'plop', into her plate.

He smiled. "That is going to be one salty affair."

She looked at him and forced a smile. "Whatever," she said.

Whatever it takes to make you come back.

August 18, 2009


The kitchen. Pretty much where she spent a greater part of her time. Randomly throwing spices, cleaning up and spraying repellent on little red ants that crawled their way up to some new tidbit they had stumbled upon.

The bedroom. Clothes flying, arranging shelves, holding up curtains, wiping windown clean, making the bed, lounging and feeling the ache in various parts of her body and mind. Sweeping, mopping, swatting flies and reading. Working. Trying hopelessly to declare it a no-laptops zone.

The living room. The little seating lounge she has fashioned out of nothing. The lights, the lamps, lighting little fire lamps and letting the breeze flood into her home, warm her hearth and lighten her heart.

The dining room, where she saw him eat, work and talk, where she heard the breeze flow helter skelter, drying her clothes and carrying aromas from other kitchens into her home, some palatable, some disgusting.

The bathroom, where she let the water run on her skin, feel the cold trickles seep into te warm skin, blood gushing in her veins, scrubbing her face and hair, brushing her teeth, drying the floor and collecting stray bits of hair.

The balcony, clothes drying up and windswept hair on her face. Neighbours peering in, some smiling, some looking through.

Her feet on the floor, her eyes on the sights. How do they make a house a home? By making it lived in.

August 11, 2009

The Wisdom Of Dusk

Sorrow can be solid; you can feel it thumping, knocking the air out of your lungs, rendering you incapable of drawing breath, air inches away but so still, you cannot suck it in.

A thousand thoughts rush through your brain and rush into your veins, pushing your blood harder and harder until you feel that your nerves are too narrow to carry them. You can feel the edge of an ancient rock being scraped, an impression digging deeper and deeper, making its mark, a mark no sculptor will find it easy to erase and camouflage.

The sculpture is marred, and marred for life. Time brushes against its wounds, sometimes carressing, sometimes tearing, bloodless blood leaking out invisible to known eyes. There are no tears anymore, for rocks do not shed them, but the anguish lives on.

Until of course, the rock remembers what it is. A rock. That time will smoothen out its jagged edges, that the winds will even out its crevices, the water wash out the filth it has gathered, the soil root it firmly to the earth and leave it capable of standing: alone, not lonely. Wounded but healed.

Until it remembers that rocks do not feel. And returns, true to its nature, to that space where all emotion, good and bad, happy and sad, washes over it like the gentle waves of the sea, salt crusting over its features, but unable to sear its scars. Not any more.

And so, they must forget not, what they are and what they are becoming, for they shall stand past eternity, for they are human, and made of soil. Just like sculptures.

July 27, 2009

Revisiting Playtime

He rode quietly, feeling the wind on his face, feeling her snuggling up to him behind, pillion rider wife. The song he had caught off the radio at a snacks store still auto-played in his head.

Eleven children, all in their khaki shorts, scratches healing on their rugged knees, scuttling between lanes with bats on their shoulders, balls bouncing ahead, chasing, chasing until they fell in line behind each other, all the way to the play ground. Their own stadium. The best cricket team, born to defeat. Playing on the world's best pitch. Sydney. Sydney, tucked in quietly, amidst wavy grass and dusty lanes, in a small town to the east of Tamil Nadu.


He shifted into fourth gear, avoiding overtaking a rash biker straight ahead. Safety was imperative, remembering the figure that was huddled in shape with his body, gently humming a song that only she knew - her own piece of nostalgia, perhaps.

Five-over cricket, rushed in between study times and mothers shouting, the time for lighting the evening lamp overhead already. Hungry growls escaping from stomachs, while all eleven made their way to his house and they sat perched on the verandah, slapping in jest, giggling, elbowing, singing songs from different movies. The idea? No more than one song from one movie.

He would hum an unfamiliar song then - tricking his opponents into believing that the movie was not taken - and when they sang a song from the movie, he would squeal - Taken! The others would complain and he would guffaw along with a few others who were in on the secret.

He turned at the bend, heading home, asking her if she needed to buy something for the house. She thought for a minute before saying no. He went straight into the parking lot and pulled over. She jumped off the bike in one smooth motion, heading for the elevator. He parked.

The song played all over again in his head. Only he knew, a well-kept secret. A not very popular song from a popular film that he sings. Time flies. Nobody notices the sands sift. Except a few who are in on the secret.

June 24, 2009

Lifetime Journeys

She has been sitting on that parapet wall for an hour now. She gazes out at a landscape that isn’t exactly a great view but it is a view to her nevertheless. There is a wide open ground. At the very far end of that ground, she sees a few shanties where labourers live and work on a new building that is far enough to not block the breeze that gushes into her home and ears every night but close enough to still be a near eyesore.

A few children to her right have built a cricket pitch and are playing. On her left, stands another building, dwarfed by the one she stays in. She can see its terrace and she can see a couple strolling there, hand in hand. Far away, she sees part of a road, vehicles zipping by on it. A large banyan tree shadows the road.

He likes the tree. He likes how it spreads out its hands, how it offers a moment’s respite to the people who walk under it. He feels it is old. She finds it young. She can see from this distance, the smoothness of its bark, the freshness on its leaves, the natural spring in its swaying. It has to be young, she tells herself.

She knows he has never visited the tree. Never went and hugged it. Never whispered into its ears, hope it hears and hope it tries to respond. In some way. Maybe an extra breeze from its branches, maybe a few falling leaves, maybe an extra bit of swaying…anything. From so far away, does it know it is being watched? Does it know it is liked? By two people who stay far far away in a house on top of a building that stands on top of a mound?

This is her domain, she feels, and she looks down on it, wondering how long before this too becomes a fragment of her memory. A day when she will pack up one more time and go away, forgetting the tree, the road, the ground, the building that does not even exist yet. After the last goodbye. No more coming and going, no more rainy terraces, no more breezy well lit homes, no more smells of cooking wafting on this sphere where they live now?

He comes out then and catches her looking at nothing. Stop thinking, he nudges. She smiles. She isn’t thinking. She is drifting. Those are different, aren’t they? Will she remember him in an afterlife? Will he? If she does, will he know from afar that he is loved?

June 13, 2009

Of Stainless Steel Spice Holders

There is nothing overtly special about this day. It is just another Saturday, the day of the week that goes fastest, and she is back to her domain, the kitchen, aromas sashaying their way out of the open windows, mustard and asafetida, curry leaves and green chillies chopped fine, like little green nose rings.

She fastens the lid on the pressure cooker, split beans soaked with tomatoes, garlic and onions simmering. She remembers the turmeric, forgotten in its container, straining to remind her that it belongs inside the cooked too.

It catches her attention then. Sitting camouflaged amidst other vessels with lids. Stainless steel, glistening through the smudges that her fingers have left on it. Lid shut tight in place. She falters for a second and then reaches out for the turmeric. It goes right into the vessel and she turns again to the vessel that caught her attention. Five spices. They used it with careless abandon in her part of the world.

She hasn't used it even once here, not knowing how the unfamiliar tastes will be welcomed in this house, her house was a foreign taste here. Not on her tongue though. On her tongue, it tastes like home. Mud and rain and sandal paste and jasmines. Her home. She reaches out to the vessel. It almost seems to leap into her hand, overjoyed after this long spell of inattention.

She cradles it in her hands, kissing it gently and opening the lid. The fragrance wafts into her nostrils and she takes it all in, the heady feeling of nostalgia hitting her hard. She flinches at the tears that seep onto her lips. She takes a pinch of the five spice and tosses it into the vessel. The split bean sizzles and crackles with new life. She shuts the lid.

An hour later when they sit at the table and she ladles out spoonfuls of the lentil soup to his plate, and he digs in, she looks for a reaction. There is none. He is perfectly at home with the taste. She settles into her chair and puts a ball of rice mixed with the lentils into her mouth. It is the first time she has appetite for something her hands have made.

May 08, 2009

Lost Love

This is what she had wanted. With a maddening urgency and desperation, like thirst for water after a long spell of draught. So what if the rains came four months ago, so what if it had rained often in these last four months of water and wetness, moisture soaking into clothes, bones, walls, books, rooves.

So what…she still wanted it to rain and rain and drench every tile on her floor, seep into every crevice and drench her inside out. She still wanted it to wash over her, leave her feeling heady and wanted. Because she had known draught for twenty long years and four months of water was no justice to her wanting.

She did not want dry floors and she did not want dry clothes. She loved the coldness that seeped into her skin when she wore half dry clothes. She loved it when water splashed on her on roads, when a vehicle passing by sped by. The mud, the muck, the storms, the thunder, the lightning. All of that.

Especially on this night when it had not rained. Especially when it was damp and sweaty and the air around her swelled with the heat that it could no longer absorb. She twisted and turned in her bed, rumpled up the sheets, reached for the window, hoping she could grab a passing cloud and beg it to soak her to the skin. But she could not. And it ended there.

She checked the weather reports, hoping they would hint at oncoming rains again. But they did not – it’s not time yet – there was some reason or the other. So she savoured the memory of the rains gone by, her desire looming out of her control. Until she stopped waiting.

She walked to the terrace, looked quietly up at the clouds that were unaware of her, of how long she had waited. She spoke a language they did not understand. She had eyes that they could not decipher. And quietly, she let go of the madness that was assaulting her every nerve, every night and every day.

It has been a while now that the clouds have not taken notice. It has been a while now since she stopped waiting. It did rain again. She walked out of the door and let it soak her. She stayed for a few minutes, sneezed and went back in, grabbing a towel to dry her hair. Something she would never have done before. It does not matter anymore. The clouds will never know, too caught up in their heights to notice.

Will they ever know that they lost a lover?

April 27, 2009

Living With You - by Blue Feather

Moon light rays scattering
Over the grey deserted night roads
All the way to your home and on you
Where you lie unconscious
Of me.
Sweet misery, looking at you from afar
Turn in your sleep, turn in me
Breath mingling
The mellowness of your night of wine
Deep in my blood
And me
All the way to your glory, stark
And unfettered
Peace melting into liquids
On this floor
You walk on
Leave your footprints and I will gather
Them, before the water rushes in again
Filling the vacuums that you create
For me.

March 30, 2009

The Chase

You walk ahead of me. And I keep pace with you when I can. Often, I lose sight of you.

Suddenly…when I look down at a pebble I trip on, if I look at one of the sights that lie around me, if I stop for a moment to catch my breath. And you are gone, in one jiffy.

It has now so become that I keep my eyes on you and walk. Ignoring the stumbles and falls, the sights and sounds. You race ahead, sometimes look back, taking in all that is offered by this world, absorbing and singing, dancing and whistling a tune, a smile on your lips. The lips that I have been chasing for centuries now.

Why do you follow me? You ask that once in a while and I don’t know what to say to you. I don’t know if there really is anything else I can do. So I follow you because that is all I know to do.
But one day, I stop chasing and following. And I collapse and fall and lie down on the sand, face down, the sun beating down on me because my feet are too tired of following you. They will carry me no more and I must stop, body stretched beyond the forces of the will. I breathe, finally at rest, but panic building that I have lost sight of you again.

I look up once and see a mirage, an oasis and I am too tired to get up and reach the cool palms and the blue little pond. And I sleep.

I wake up after what feels like ages. I don’t know how long I have slept but it feels like it’s been a long long time. I am parched and I need water. I look up and the oasis is still there. I struggle to my feet and slip, get up again and the sight in front of me shimmers unrealistically. But I walk on, and I reach the oasis. It is not a mirage and I feel a stab of guilt at not having walked to it earlier.
I drink deeply from the waters and I see you, sitting a little way further, drinking from the waters too.

You look up and smile at me and I want to ask you why you are not running away from me now. It is exactly what I wanted, for you to not run, and now that you are doing what I want you to, I want to know why you are doing it…so I shut up and just look at you and manage to smile back.

You finish drinking and dust your clothes, wash your face and find a fruit to chew on. You take your own time again and finally, you notice me again and walk up to me. It is so odd to see you walking to me that I stay very still, afraid that everything will disappear if I move. You come and stand in front of me and offer a hand.

“Do you like this place?”

“Is that the question I want after centuries of chasing you?”

“May be not but do you like it?”

“Yes. Better than the arid lands.”

“I am glad you like it.”

“Why did you make me chase you?”

“I didn’t ask you to. You followed me.”

“You could have walked with me.”

“We would never have made it on time then.”

“I didn’t want to keep losing sight of you.”

“You had to. You were too busy chasing me to notice the sights on the way. So I had to disappear so you would look around a bit before resuming.”

“But you didn’t leave me much time to look around either.”

“Because you had to remember that the final destination is here.”

“What if I had not chased you?”

“You would have still made it here. All your roads lead to the same place.”

“But why did you ask me, now and then, the reason behind my chasing you?”

“To make you ask yourself that you do not chase me. You chase this and I am only leading you here.”

I stay quiet. You leave my hand. You ask your last question.

“Why didn’t you run? I would have followed. We would have reached the same place.”

March 23, 2009

On Cold Winter Nights

Its 2 am. And its sub zero outside. When she exhales through her mouth, there is a tiny little fog that she creates. She does this on glass panes and traces odd shapes on it until they slowly disappear. There are people sitting around the room, laughing, talking, asking questions and giving answers, while she nods in agreement and pretends to be interested.

She is a little sleepy and happy drawing patterns on the glass and answering an occasional question, making an occasional non-controversial comment, making sure she does not get drawn into any conversation that would pull her out of her little corner and make her leave the comfort of not actively thinking.

She holds a little white porcelain teacup in her hands, cupping it with her palms, letting the heat of the drink sink into her skin like liquid fire. The soup is hot and just out of the pot. Red and oranges swirl in her cup, flecks of carrot and pureed tomato. A swig of mint and a small shredded basil leaf. Tiny oregano dots swim around with bits of black pepper, the aroma of tamarind curling up into her nostrils.

She can smell the tang of ginger and the raw sensuousness of onions and garlics floating in the cup she holds. She closes her eyes, breathes in deeply once and identifies every spice that must have boiled its way to heaven after leaving a bit of its identity in this soup. She peers into the cup again, looking at the swirls of creamy white that have been casually drawn on the surface of the soup, like a little whirlpool.

The mint leaf sits right in the middle of the eye of this whirlpool. Delicious.

It is nice to drink tomato soup in a teacup. Not much, not little and just enough to keep her warm. The cold is severe and everybody is wrapped in woolens, thermals and small talk. She hears something about beer and chaai and she looks up. She sees him animatedly starting another pointless debate, like most other debates.

“So what wins? Beer on a hot night or chaai on a cold night?”

There are catcalls and hoots and yeses and noes. The argument lasts for about 5 minutes. Nobody reaches any consensus, the Indianness in chaai and the coolness in beer at war. 2.30 am. She smiles before draining her cup.

Tomato soup.

March 17, 2009

Fiction Garden

Here's another new start.

This blog has no theme except for the fact that all work is purely fictional and any coincidence to any incident, place or character living or dead, may or may not be purely purely coincidental.

Of course it is not Relevant ravings reincarnated. If you find similarities, its because the hand that yields the forces is still the same.

More readings to you.

The Wandering Minstrel

PS: Tell me if you like the template :)