Archive for April 2006
“I love you.” He said, “I mean I love talking to you.” oh! But things were conveyed, said, and the mask was discarded.
Surprise…yes…else how would you lose your heart beats; how would you find yourself flummoxed over a relation that is only a few days, or rather few hours – can I say, old yet few lifetimes seem engulfed in it; how would you lose your control to control your thoughts, feelings, rationalities, and all your expedient plans for your life, your future and end up falling in love with a person you barely know, except of some kind of illusionary connection, attachment screaming: you-are-made-for-each-other. This is how miracles happen. This is how you are taken by surprise and thrown up, upbeat, buoyant, among those sparkling, blissful stars. And you realize – yes! – this is what you were waiting for so long, for all your life, passing through so many mundane day-today-ness that you had almost forgotten about it. So, a miracle was needed. A surprise was needed.
“Life is made of crisscross squares. And every cross has its own rule.” When you cover a long distance in just few hours, blink-now-at-moon-blink-again-back-on-earth, as if some infinitely powerful gadget has ordered time to stop, or as if you are made less aware of time as it passes by, whatever may it be, you lose the sense of time-and-space when you travel such an expeditious journey and finally in the end, you see things your eyes wouldn’t believe in, you feel feelings your heart wouldn’t give in, and the world would turn hazy, its eyes drooping, limping upon you, as though it hasn’t slept for nights awaiting your arrival. This is a strange thing to happen. But what else would you call a miracle then? Her world had roads, infinite roads, never ending, from one stop to another, all brief and straight, and today, after her long journey, she, anticipating yet another road to cross hers, grew little weary about losing grip over her own life. She had to make a decision, and making a decision is dangerous. She continued, “You have not seen me, do you realize it?” Why so many strange things were happening to him today? What realization could he achieve, had he seen her? How did she look, or how did she walk, or how did she dress up? Realization is a strange concept. Ah! “You haven’t understood me yet.” What else could he have replied?
Love, where it spawns, scatters a vague delusion around it. You wouldn’t understand what’s going on with you, so to ease you, love projects a special melodramatic show and you fall into its trap: make-believe trap. Besotted as they were, now for the making of love was on, they had to collaborate. The tongues were to slip, the covers were to unveil, the desires were to fly – the forbidden was to set free. Now there was no escape. Things started to swoop down on them, and they were dragged along. And words, those enchanting but interdicted words, came out, in shed, hidden behind a mask. And after a while when all covers matured redundant: “I love you.” He said, “I mean I love talking to you.” oh! But things were conveyed, said, and the mask was discarded.
It took her a while, however, to divulge the sudden spurt of her heart beating. And by the time, normalcy reigned again, she was in love. In spite of never having seen him, or talked to him, or heard his voice, or known his disposition, or read his past, present, in spite of everything that should have been done, as rules say, as the love-tomes say, as those deified lovers say, in spite of un-normalcy, of breach in traditions, she was in love. Love doesn’t ask what-where-how-why-who-when, it just takes you over and things are set. Just like that. Straight and simple! Until then silence prevailed above the fogged suddenness.
And after a brief pause, soundlessness, because a great many words, puissant words, efficacious words, capable of altering the course of stars as they fix their path with other stars, potent to make a life, were imminent, she replied, “I love you too.”
Surprise…was it a surprise?
“When did it start?”
“The day I read your poem for the first time, there was something terribly appealing, and I wished they were written for me.” It was now safe for her to travel back on time, and watch her past unveiling before her, telling tales of that turmoil she was in few days ago, revealing that feeling, that moment of utter confusion, that longing, that desire, that hope to herself, and find peace in the newly found love of her life. “I prayed it to come true.”
“And it did na?”
“Oh! I can’t express it, this is wonderful.”
And a story spawned from the there….
Though they say, everything is preplanned, peremptorily written, still, life doesn’t come to us like in a play a scene comes to an actor performing on stage, life has different rules; it takes us by surprise. That’s why life is alive. For so many years. And love too.
She lay there,
in my imagination
or in reality?
kind of vision,
or a sensation?
or just a muse,
I touch her.
She slithers away,
like a move
Then, out of blue,
she circles closer,
squaring off the silence and
the mute, holds
and transpires in me.
Lost once again.
I reach for her,
But lost in me,
she is not in here.
Like the first rays of dawn,
omnipresent in all the later rays,
Like the fist beat of my heart,
ubiquitous in all the later beats,
She has come to live,
in me, with me.
And I search for her,
in the fool’s paradise.
Like the light,
Fixed with moon.
Like a thought, an idea,
fixed for eternity.
She lay there,
in my imagery
or in reality?
I touch her,
she slips into me.
It’s been two days now. I have been deferring it; thinking up new excuses every time I sit before my laptop to write something. You have to write, nothing should come in your way, a hortatory voice urges me from somewhere inside me. And I summon all my imagination, all the thoughts, and sit before my laptop, stretch my fingers onto the keypad, fumble with few words, write them, then delete them, write them again, then slouch in the chair, and gesture to think about something, something new, something that has never been written, never been thought of, never been talked about, and tend to lose my grip, tend to succumb to my own fallacies, own false world, but then I see a kind of vision, coming to me to guide my ship through the violent water-waves to a tranquil place. I smile then and sit erect, as if now knowing the course of my words, sentences, and the story, to write the journey down on the paper.
It works in this way, and only in this way. It happens to you. It’s a kind of a call. Either it’s made for you, or it is not. You just can’t force it, a word to journey in the way you want it to. No sir!
I know it. Because, for last two days, I am braving the uncertain courses, but see no end to it, see no word coming out of my arsenal, see no battle taking place on my paper. Nothing, absolutely nothing.
I did scribble something, but is that what you would call a literature? Is that what you want to read of me? No. You want my heart on the paper, in the story, gluing words with words making sentences, then paragraphs, then pages, then an ache in the end, which would help you identify yourself with the passage, with the segue of my characters from one form to another, and help you relief of your pain, your inner turmoil. Isn’t this what that you want from me?
Writer’s say, this is a writer’s block. I say this is a block to your imagination. Ah! how it hurts to not being able to imagine, not being able to create a world of your own, not being able to talk to your characters, no one can understand. Only a writer, or to a certain extent a dreamer.
When I had started, I was said, write-and-write, no-matter-what-you-write, just keep on writing. Here and there, about this and that, over day and night, through peace to agitation, every time, all the time, write-and-write. Crap. Crap. Crap.
For last two days, I am writing only crap. I feel so enervated, I can’t explain. Something is not at peace with something.
So, to bring in the harmony I started reading some of my old, discarded stuffs and refined them. Though I wasn’t producing anything, I was, at least, making up with my old lost friends.
This story is an old story, written long back. My present is asking too much of my past these days.
This one is however a crap. Read it at the risk of your sanity.
A world is there, beyond stars
Another era awaits, miles afar
No laments, no paeans
That world is all above par.
They said: past is only a prologue to future. I admitted. Then they said: once done, it’s done for always, can never be reworked upon. And I accepted. Then: your future is destined; things would happen in a pre-decided fashion, like it happens in the dramas. I conceded. Then they added: your life has got a special purpose, some meaning, some reason. And I was confused.
I stopped. Waited for a miracle. All my life like an idle sculpture upon the canvas of earth, doing nothing, going nowhere. Thinking everything. Was this my purpose? Filling up the space that was empty, playing surrogate in others’ lives, adjoining them at ends only to illustrate their being, existing as if I never existed, moron, testy emotional windbag; a nugatory existence on the vast expanse of cosmos. One who demanded in abundance; but received scarcely – happiness on a pro tem basis.
My past, as I would surmise, was like an obliterated chapter of a best-seller that had no impact on the popularity of the book. The book was unaware, the author ignorant, and the readers unknown. I wailed from inside the stern mannequin. Only the reflections came back. Nothing else. I frowned, squalled, pummeled, bumbled and then stopped in full sweat. But it was over. I had lost that. I had lost myself. All the pages were blown away, scattered in every direction, some with wind, some with men, some at home, some on roads, some with her, some with me. Why did it happen – I didn’t know. When did it happen – I couldn’t point. How did it happen? Perhaps, I knew.
I was in bed. It was said that dawning dreams were blessed by ‘Aurora’ and hence were in the closest proximity of reality. I was trying to dream – a dream that I had cherished for long. When you face something out of your control, you give it up upon the almighty, upon the ploy of your own destiny. I was trying the same. The dingy fan, hung by the ceiling, was orbiting reluctantly like a slave who carried a weight on his back, muttering in annoyance; but could do nothing in vengeance. It wailed out its anger in wailing screeches, though, it never decanted the thick layer of dust sprawled all over its back. Only the words came out, the action however remained suspended. It had accepted the script and its role in it. Lack of courage; lack of foresight; or lack of dreams?
I budged slightly inside the blanket. There was no dream. Only few drifting thoughts. Virgin sunlight patted against the window pane. Few of them succeeded in falling inside while rest unified back. Winners triumphed over the newly acquired independence and announced a dream voyage inside my room. Soon they realized their confinement and conceded. They too were slaves, nature’s slaves – abided and aided and abided by universal formulae that didn’t allow them much liberty. After few minutes, one of those laws stimulated little shift in the sun, causing the rays fall candidly upon me. I turned over my back and won the petty battle with the nature. It was a humane approach. Formulate a rationale and run away from the field. You don’t win the battle, neither do you lose it. But you, of course, manifest that the battle wasn’t worth your efforts. Simple! Eh.
Sun was out on its perpetual gadding. It was afresh. No trace of yesterday’s shambles. Ablaze with the sparkle that a sound sleep endows with; blushing so much so that each part of the sky reddened; promising of another great miraculous day as it perched up along the steep inclination of the sky. The rubbles were kept away. It had renounced one more day of its past. And now it was reincarnated anew. Horizon at one end triumphed, another waited patiently for its turn. Soon, it would go higher, oust its soft red with burning blare yellow, settle on the highest peak, smug in defiance, and then would start descending down, reluctant of retiring, receding its achievements, struggling to keep up with the pace of time as long as it could, resistive of the change, and would meet the horizon at the other end. The dice would be reversed.
Every day, it came up with an intent to understand its defeat and then to conquer it; to renovate the ephemeral into eternal. Every day, it summed up, instead, straggling here and there with nothing, nothing at all, except the helluva gloom, the effusive confusion. It wasn’t any God; it was merely a mortal kept from a clear vision. Something had exorcised it – teaching not to see, not to face the failure but to construct a fair logic – following a humane approach – in justification so as to traverse the same path, the same rut for an eternity, making it perseverant.
I was still in bed; still trying to dream.
Sun’s perseverance was an outcome of stupidity: when one doesn’t know what to do next and keeps on doing things that he is habitual to, putting no extra energies, no further thoughts; when one doesn’t know what to fight for and goes on fighting only for bread – the minimal for survival. The cause behind its perseverance was stupidity – foolish, stark and dire stupidity.
Our society ran on a set of principles, deemed necessary for its proper functionality, usually an outcome of evolution. Following the laid path, a general conformity, is one among them. That was why the perseverance of Sun was highly praised not only in religions but also in the general, obvious, mundane life.
My flat was in the heart of the city; nested at the top of a grandiloquent building, it remained unaided but was fortunate in finding few acquaintances to satiate the gulf of loneliness surfaced while saying at the top. On left it had Dixit’s and on right Sinha’s apartment. Two more were there, but I have no remembrance if I ever talked to them or even saw them. Gradually, I started identifying myself with it; with its affecting capitulation, with its distressing silence, and with its impassive non-reluctance.
It had a long protruding construction, fixed tenaciously with its walls, attached with a hoary glassed door that opened inside. A continuance of steel rod, clung intricately with each other, whirled around the loge, offering fortification from falling down. It was a balcony of heart, letting me peep through my neighbors’ house whenever my hormones scrounged for few blissful glimpses.
It had come a long way, a long convoluted way, with me. Together we grew callous, dead to the worldly aspirations, numb to the holy reverence and ignorant to the sardonic sarcasm. I lent its quietness; it imbibed my compliance. Together we flamed, together we were deserted.
An immense jerk of acoustic pressure impinged in my ear drums like an abrupt blow of a harsh cornet made by a cab driver, outside the railway station, cajoling passengers, precisely at the time when you cross by. I opened my eyes. The shrillness prevailed in the air. I scoured for the source. Then, after some vain efforts, I picked my pillow up and there it was. My alarm clock! Lying indifferently, it giggled on me. I cradled it up and undid the alarm settings. It went mute, mewling its characteristic sound ‘tik-tak-tik’ and extolling ‘0815’ on its face.
Time to get up, I thought. I dislodged my blanket and stood up. My sleep was long gone, but my eyes were still in their fallacy denying the truth, abandoning their purpose that was to look out for light and path. I rubbed my fingers over them. By the time, they opened up; my room was flooded with trillions of photons manifesting their success over traditional laws. Fools! They were still in accord with the laws for then the law itself had asked them to triumph. I chortled and went to my laptop.
It resumed with ‘Jagjit Singh’
“Aisi aankhe nahin dekhi, aisa manjar nahin dekha…”
(never seen such eyes, never seen such a milieu…)
He went on, inundating my room with his sweet canorous voice, modulated with entailing tabla and guitar, fashioned in tune with the romantic hagiographic lyrics, and crescendos of her memories in chorus.
I was standing by the door scouring over the graffiti board to find a place to leave my note. A set of papers clipped here, another set fixed there. Among them I saw a scribble about a fashion show to be organized in the city auditorium recently. I focused on it and started hunting for famous names. Shayali Bhagat! Great. She was coming. She was the former Miss-Ind…
“Excuse me.” Someone interrupted me from behind. I budged my head slightly backwards and peered through my shoulder.
“Yes.” A pair of eyes, pride with legacy of startling beauty, stared at mine.
“Would you shift a bit?” Her pride spoke for her. “I am in a hurry and you seem to be staring at …”
“Hmm…ok” I didn’t let her finish and made room for her.
She left after scribbling something on the graffiti. My eyes followed her as if she were their true métier. They were chasing the light – their purpose of existence. Then she was gone. I looked around. I wanted to talk to someone about it. But, I found none.
I came out, crossed the road and walked to ‘Jain Sahib’s Pan Shop’, where I had parked my bike. I smiled at him and he replied with a cigarette. He knew my brand. I ordered for tea, went to my bike and sat upon that.
He was skilled in the art of brewing tea. The dexterity was palpable to my glossa. It tasted great. It was my greatest time pass – sitting beside the shop, puffing round rings out in the air, and sipping tea. It reminded me of my college days, sitting idly like minor reveries, gulping innumerable cups of tea and consuming god-knows-how-many packets of ‘Wills Navy Cut’. I chuckled slightly as I rounded my eyes aimlessly around the premise.
I was looking at her. Yes, it was she, donned in blue-denim lower and a red top. She stood by the front corridor of Indigo premise, waiting for someone. I couldn’t help staring at her. She looked dazzlingly beautiful as if an angel had descended earth and miraculously appeared to me. She wasn’t of earth ilk. She shone like the full moon, arousing my fidgety, denigrating Sun’s archaic talent with her skilled prowess. I bobbed in my imagery. She stood unknown to me, unknown to everything, glancing over her watch frantically.
“Is she waiting for her boy friend?” I thought.
“Go and ask her.” Something quipped on me.
“Shut up. She would not talk to me.” I replied, annoyed.
“Blah! Blah! You are a fool. All you can do is smoke, wait and create excuses for your inactions. No miracles manifest themselves in this way.” It said, angrily.
“You want more tea or what?” Suddenly, I heard Jain Sahib before me, wearing a weird look.
I retuned back to my senses. Was I talking to myself? How stupid! I shrugged so as to evince a rationale of my stupidity. It grinned sarcastically before waning away. I looked back.
She wasn’t there. I feared like losing something precious, very-very precious. Was that precious ever mine? I was behaving non-sense. I condemned myself. And then, in anticipation, I sieved again with more vigilant eyes around the proximity. Ah! My nerves came back to me. She was there.
“Shut the door at the face of an opportunity, and it would never knock you back. Why don’t you simply go?” It wheedled me from inside. Why was it doing such? Probably, out of urgency to fight for existence. It needed a conflict, and wanted me to ploy one.
I stood up, paid the bill, and unmounted my bike. I leaned back to see her once more. And before I could make any move, a boy who had his face behind the helmet and a girl whose head was wrapped in a grisaille stole approached her. I marveled and continued with my gaze at her. But now my target was apportioned into three. I kept my surveillance and they chatted.
Then, she left with them, still unknown to me, unknown to everything that happened on the other side of the road.
Jagjit Singh had gone silent. Perhaps, his tenure was ended and reels of past were finished. Every thing that comes is destined to leave some day; they can’t be stopped; none could ever stop them. This is the way things work here.
It was the paperwallah knocking at the door. Everyday, he used to clip the newspaper with the door-bolt and then would knock the door. It was in his custom, probably, to let the claimant know that his claim was answered. Every thing under the sun needed some sort of proof not to manifest something but merely to understand the nexus. The gulf would, anyhow, remain there, but if we could understand its theme then the alibi of its existence would make sense, and things would become more bearable.
Standing idly in my balcony, leaned with the iron maze, I looked at people on the road. I found every one aimless. No one knew his purpose; no one knew his path. Walking and walking – with no idea of the end – as if they shared a profound kinship with the concrete roads. Roads that had seldom replied; roads that were seldom relied. There stretched a series of tall, coherent pine trees, fixed at the ground alongside the road, bolstering their etymon and tolerating the wind flow. The leafage kept flicking with the wind but never did they abandon their roots, never did they elope with the air either. Double crossing! Poor wind, it was deceived. All its efforts to woo the leaves went haywire. It had to go ultimately. Alone. But it too was perseverant like the Sun.
“Nothing is permanent. Neither you, nor I; neither care, nor despair. This is how the plan is made. The conspiracy takes us by surprise; sets us in motion; then eventually settles us in rest.
“Isn’t it foolish, then, to deem the environs – the air surrounding us – permanent and harbor emotions, profound longings, for them? Isn’t it anserine to cage Love? Things that you fall onto must be finally fallen off.
“Love comes in suddenly; nurtures us thoroughly; makes us feel alive – intensely; and when we grow habitual to it, it abandons us. Leaves us suffering to understand our own self, for only in pain we value the pleasure. You don’t love a person; you love yourself, only yourself. It is only when someone kindles your inner spirit, inner strength and your inner demons, and connects you with your long lost self that you fall in love. But, certainly not with the person. Rather with his/her persona.”
When exactly, do you fall in love? Any clue? Can you pin point the moment where you actually fell? And, can you manage to formulate a rationale for this fall? And, why do you call it a fall? Why you never say: you rose in love? Is love so low, so down, so condemned that without falling you can’t experience it?
While I was thinking of all this, I tried to conclude if I, myself, had fallen down. Was I in love? I had hardly seen her. I didn’t know her words much. I was all aloof of her world. How could it be love? It might be some infatuation, or attraction, or anything, but certainly not love. Love needs time and space to mature. But, it’s always a spark that inflames the mysterious light of love. I couldn’t deny that spark, though. And, then, that night I couldn’t sleep.
I managed her phone number from a common acquaintance – and there was a big story behind it and entailing after it; leave that for the time being – and called her in one sultry midnight. It wasn’t a deliberate attempt; I was just fumbling through my phone book and paused at her name; broke for a while and then, simply, called her; nothing pre-decided; thinking of listening to a female voice as a peaceful bliss amid the raging night. The moon was fed up of the heat and had gone somewhere far from the sky above me, and the stars too accompanied him. And the whole day in office, with the entire world’s tension there, had surfaced in some more vexation. All the worries were there in my share while I sat in angst; alone, down and blue.
She picked up and said something, I didn’t understand exactly what. The heat and the sweat had glued the phone to my ears and scattered the sound. I didn’t reply, waited. Then she said, louder, “Hello” and I disconnected.
It was a mere missed call for her, but for me it was the beginning of several longing nights, that were to be followed. The shrillness and the sweetness of her voice had a mixed effect on me. I longed to hear more. But couldn’t attempt.
After, two or three days, I called her again, this time more resolutely. Well, this time I talked. She was indifferent, impassive; and I impatient, hurried and hasty. My words, and my thoughts, divagated like an adolescent dream. And when I tried controlling them, my legs started shaking. How could I tremble while talking to a girl? Who was she? I wondered and said this to her. She laughed, as if I were trying to flatter her. Boys, usually, do such a stupid, naïve stuff, intentionally, as if their being stupid would free the girl’s heart from the stringent worldly threads. This was a true lie that men spoke; women knew, but, normally, denied. What they didn’t know was that a lie might sometimes happen to be a truth– an intense, impeccant truth.
And with her indifferent laugh, my innocent trembling, her melodious voice, my frequent concern, her habitual care, my occasional despair, her past, my future, and with our – together and shared – present, my story began.
Then on one day, she had an uncommonly hectic schedule – early college, then lunch, then some sleep interrupted and broken by sporadic phone calls, then evening stint with her fashion-designer aunt, then late birthday party, then home, then Chili, and then me. But she was, unusually, in good tempers. She went for an evening walk with Chili around the proximity of her home searching for the hidden moon and pondering how less time she had spared there recently. Life had articulated in such a routine that her locality and her home lay deserted out of her sight. Today, it was the day to rekindle old flames, to reconnect with trifling things of life. Chili ran here and there, in search of a muse, in search of something anew, afresh, complex and passionate and she followed her in search of stability. Life was balanced, and I mute. She broke the silence, asking why I was so quite.
If I had talked, wouldn’t I have meddled with the universal equilibrium that had matured consistent with her silence? I would have spoken something, rather asked something, and then, she had answered with a shrug, or a nod, or even with few words, and then another question, then another answer, and so on. Once the cycle is established, it takes efforts to stop it. And it leaves deep scrapes. Why to increase the entropy of the worlds and the heavens? So I was quite. But, even the silence has its toll. And sometimes, the cost swells so much that you can’t afford it. I had to speak, eventually.
“What do you think of me? Whatever I say, or commit, do you think, is just a pretension? Do you deem it all false?” I needed the answer. It was essential for my own poise. And it was the perfect time. She didn’t always carry such a good mood, ready for anything, with words all set to go out against any explanations expected or demanded.
“Sometimes, I do. How can someone continue along such a path, the too without any expectations? You know Seema said, you should better…” She initiated, and then paused. Perhaps, out of the confusion that every candid truth brings in along.
“Better… what?” I was desperate.
“Better keep your options open.” She continued. But soon, to my surprise, she suddenly asked: “how much substance Time has in your life?”
I wanted to explain that it was not like that; that though I had expectations, but I had convictions too of never forcing them upon her; that I too was normal like any other boy next door, but it was just that I loved her a little more than him, that I wanted to wait for her even without her confirming her coming to me; that I wanted to fight the galaxies for her; that I wanted to live for her, even if it meant living without her…
I had so much to say then, but she was curious for her question. I didn’t understand the purpose of that silly question. Anyways, I had to answer; perhaps more for myself than for her, probably this question wasn’t as silly as I was thinking it to be. It had a connection, may be, with something important to her. Was she worried if my commitments would stand the test of time? Or, did she fret about my stand, thinking it to be capricious against time. Whatever, I got to find an answer, suitable to suffice her doubts, and sufficient for my stand too. All I had, in my arsenal, to offer her was time. And a little space. And a few explanation. I used to feel smug about my own understanding of life; but all those knowledge weren’t helping me.
I commenced my voyage into myself. What was the thing that mattered the most to me? What was that that I would stand for against anything? What was my priority? I was young, approximately of twenty-four, with a prestigious degree, placed in a good position, in a good company that promised of a golden career ahead, with a past, with a promised future, and with – roughly – a good present. Ideally, what could it be that I could go after?
I thought, and thought. And only she was there in those thoughts. I had to make a decision then; to confirm her importance in my life; to answer: why on earth I was mad after her?
She was beautiful, stunningly gorgeous, exquisite, no doubt, but this could hardly be the reason. Beauty stands reasonable as far as temptation, and only the temptation, is concerned. It can’t carry the relation for long. It can’t carry the lunacy for long. And I knew my stand; though I could never explicate – not even to myself. It wasn’t beauty. It might initiate the stuff, but certainly, it can never support a tough stand. It might ignite the spark, but you need something else to keep the fire – that is wind, furious wind. I wondered what it could be. Nothing, absolutely nothing came to me. But she came, and she only came.
Then, I stopped. My face contorted, my voice vanished, and my eyes straggling here and there. They didn’t know where to focus, what was it that I wanted to see. “Some things in life are best unexplained.” She had averred once. But then, I had resisted in letting our life go out of my own control. You needed to know what you are up to, and why? True, it was then, but not now.
Life is an equation. Simple or complex? That depends upon how many questions you ask. Her question was certainly there to make it more complex for me and for her too.
“Time is important, but priorities and principles are beyond it.” I said and, then, went on with my usual volley of words explaining all the parameters, constants, and variables of life. I uttered for long. She waited patiently for me to finish off. And when I went empty, she chuckled.
I might have said something that she didn’t expect. This was the one aspect that life always confused me with. It gave us words, but probably they weren’t enough to express everything you think or you feel. What could I do, how could I fight when I had no weapon? And she started laughing, sorry restrained laugh – chuckling. What could it mean?
“So for you everything trims off where your understanding ends.” She said, her words mingled with her broken laugh, and modulated in a comic, sardonic tone, and with the sense of abstraction that lay back, beneath her laugh.
Lack of words, lack of eloquence, whatever, but I couldn’t convey what innately I thought I had to. She was misled. I thought, once, of ceasing further infringement on the topic, but, wouldn’t that be against what I think they must be. I had to make her understand, not to compliment her laugh with my words, but to prove – myself – that my stand did have a role in the vast, evasive inequality of the universe. I had to tell her that it’s not the understanding that makes a relation; it’s the relation that makes an understanding, that her doubt, and her laugh, is not the end of it, it is exactly where I would commence my journey. We err only out of ignorance, thence, I could never ignore her slightest reactions, her least actions. I wanted it to be free from any contamination; I wanted it to be pure, untainted and pristine.
I started. But precisely then, when you start something important, you are interrupted. Universe takes time in accommodating your trivial existence in its significant one. And you better respite the fight till some better time, for then, no matter, how much you strive, how feverishly you strike, it would remain indifferent. I stopped, saving my energies for later confrontation; and she went to the kitchen as her mother wanted her there.
What way life runs? To which end? Through which equation? Commitment, passion, security or condition? Everything remained unanswered; even the importance of time.
I guess, then I went back on the way home – though, I don’t remember, today, through which way, but it must be home, where else could I have gone? Straggling along the continuous series of pine trees, I was wallowing profoundly into something. And, that must have been something trivial, irrelevant; see, I don’t remember that too. My thoughts were digressing like an abrupt, furious wind current while my legs weren’t able to balance my weight appropriately, and my hands had announced a rebellion against the ethnic correlation between legs and them. The gestalt was lost. The tradition was lost. That’s why people choose wine, when they are forsaken by life, by love. It helps in loosing the tongue and in breaking the tradition – a tradition that forces you to become a good, well-mannered, chivalrous man.
It’s the tradition that connects our past with the future of the universe. It might be touted as a boost to growth, but, on the other hand, it is the culprit of all the human fall downs, be it war, be it crime or be it love. It’s the tradition that teaches us how to behave and, above all, how to react. I had lost my connection.
No link with past; No hope for future. Every single neuron cognized in complete contrast with the other, pushing my cerebrum into a mixture of juxtaposition of dichotomy. I fumbled deep inside the complex world, and what did I avail myself? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I remained alone, all alone, with all the humanity surrounding the air around me, I was alone.
Eventually, I arrived near the labyrinth
staircase that whirled up along an old rusted iron pole, betraying its indigenousness, harping over its own fate, but still, in service to humans. I winked at it with pity, but couldn’t muster courage enough to offer my gratitude. I remained silent, wondering how it too had to suffer through its life. It had a part of my past in its present, and probably, in its future too. I looked up high at the jutting balcony; that too was silent, sad, pensive. Every thing was changed, as if to reflect my mood, my debacle.
I opened the door; it screeched in reluctance, as if I were anew here. Was I? I yanked and entered, ending all the further altercations. My room was drowned into dire silence. No music, no susurration, no noise. Nothing to harry; nothing to merry. The world was still in here; it had nowhere to go; it had nothing to change for. I lay down on the bed slowly, as if it were a fiddling victim waiting for its summon and my behaving hasty would ruffle its crease and would interrupt its integrity. I didn’t want to create anything that could anyhow resemble me.
Then, after an eternity, night fell down, with all its swanky modishness, it tried to lure the earth. It had a limited resource and even more limited time. And everything was needed to be done in time. When you rush, you only end up confused, nonplus and often dreaded, and all your plans, strategies go haywire. The night had confronted the same fate day after day for millions of years, yet it kept coming to the same path, with the same hope, same dream.
Night was, perhaps, merely a foster to Sun’s rotten path filling up the gap that it left during the dark, just to accompany the earth in its loneliness. Night was a surrogate accompanyist.
There was a connection between the Sun and the night, taking each other’s place in turn without any ambiguity. What a great understanding.
I thought, that two minds similarly could be very well connected, as if in unity? Knowing each others’ wandering thoughts, understanding each others’ interpretations, respecting each others’ beliefs; they could be sound threaded like sun is to earth, or say I am with her. I had a dream: to dream of her. And she had a dream: to dream of nothing.
She was prepared to leave everything on time. Equivocally awarding her surrender, she had once said: “you know, sometimes, it drives me off, and sometimes, it brings me to the righteous path that I had desired. It plays with me – it gives me everything, from hope to anguish, from dreams to despair, everything, keeps me twisting, sometimes this, sometimes that; but never does it talk of stability. It never leaves me alone, to think, always ready with something anew. I know, then, it’s bogus; but I don’t know how to bawl it off. I have no weapons to fight with it. I try sometimes bare-hand, but then it evinces such a poignant face that …” Her words trailed off in a hollow and never came back. I wondered if she would go in tears. And then, with some fluid taking away her choke, she would again continue. But, instead, she surrendered to the void. Her eyes fixed in vain, without rolling, rigid unto the boundaries laid by dark kohl; Her fingers clutched together as if to keep them from tearing apart onto the path of dichotomized confusion; and her hairs, as if to complement the stillness, fluttered with the air, saying that everything is normal, under control, and according to a plan.
I knew this. I knew what she thought of when she ran late, which she usually did, even today – questioning herself: “Why am I going to see him?” Mine was the similar case. I was luckier, though; I had a terra-firma ground – I knew that she loved someone else, that she was with him for last four years, that she had past commitments, and that she still loved him, and that he was still around. It wasn’t a self derived fallacy to fool myself; it was a truth, a logically entailed solid truth; she herself had told me this – about her past, and the present, and the planned future. Then, even after knowing all this, I went to see her, putting the enigmatic “Why” off at bay.
While she was all open to me, I was little veiled. She never asked, and I never told. For me then, her concerns came prior to mine. And, as if to renounce my self, I never bothered her with my Whys. Instead, I went all ears whenever she had anything, let alone her silence. If the decision was necessary, then any one of us could make it. It didn’t matter who choose, because anyhow it would affect both of us; both would have to conform eventually. She had more at stake, so she could have that luxury – the power to decide three fates.
The problem was our past that imbued its lineaments into us, and we were scared of the risks involved. It had dug the gulf.
Over that gulf, though, there was a bridge that connected us. It was our intuition that was slowly transmuting into our understanding. And they often were just. Right or wrong? I could never conclude, but they were just, at least for the two of us.
First panoramic foretaste of this nexus, I had, was when we first saw each other – officially, of course. It was monsoon. Sporadic rains, dark clouds, every now and then thunders, and modest quivering cold, all had appeared garnering the prior sweaty milieu. We had been talking over phone for almost fifteen days, before we decided for the long due – part due to her semester examinations, part due to the resistance of facing the unknown – rendezvous. But then with a little push against the traditions, we settled it down. CCD (Café Coffee Day) was decided; sharp at six thirty in evening.
The Alchemist had asserted that if you desire something very strongly then the whole universe would conspire in helping you. Your desire is the metaphor of the desire of the universe. But for me, the whole universe had conspired against. All symbols were cornered out. In the evening, it started raining crossly, something that was obvious of the season, something that you would often have considered innocent, though, but I found it working against my wishes. When you can’t force changes, better let them go themselves, and inure until indifference.
Somehow, despite the heavy rains, I managed to get to the place. I knew that she wouldn’t be there; how could she have come in such a rainfall; and how stupid was I even to expect such? Anticipating her obvious absence I went inside. I had to find a secluded place to sit and mull over but my eyes scoured the place, instead, in her search, pushing their will against the truth.
There was only a faint chance that she would come. Still, like an obstinate man, I sat down on the corner table, waiting for her, with the entire patience I could gather. I wasn’t ready to accept the universal will just like that, I mean, without even striking once how could you accept the defeat? I had been eloping for all my life, this time I had to stand. And I stood. Slowly, slowly the time was elapsing. I struggled using my tenacity with the fading hope; peeping out of the glass that was covered with water-droplets running down from the top, hastily emptying the space for the next drop – a typical quintessential of my fleeting belief. I sat quite, leafing pages of the newspaper I already had read in morning, watching every vehicle longingly so that I wouldn’t miss even a single moment of bliss that her surreptitious glimpse might bring, searching every face for her divine resemblance, and condoning to every new entrant through the door, through which everyone crossed but her.
I wondered if everything was a waste. Gradually, my fervor began to settle down, and for the first time I thought of forsaking the battle. It wasn’t difficult. Later on, I could accuse her and the rain.
Then, with the passing time, an uncertainty crept in. she had never seen her earlier; all I had known of me was my voice. Was it possible that she had come and had searched for me, meanwhile I would have missed her somehow, and then when she couldn’t locate me, went back? If it were the case; I certainly was unlucky – the most ill-fated man on earth.
My thoughts drifted over the possible possibilities, and soon I found myself lost in the quagmire of uncertainty.
I looked around the place, it was crowded; every square foot of the ground was efficiently consumed, some with singles, some with couples; some talking, some staring, some searching, some ogling, some waiting, and some wondering what to do – like me. And some more standing outside for their turn. Few lines came to my mind:
“But, together with this truth
there goes something more
I had waited and
One hour past, the clouds exempted me from their tyranny where I could do nothing but wait; and the phone rang.
“Where are you?” Her characteristic indifference overshadowed the concern that she might have shown, otherwise, for someone who was waiting for her, tolerating the will of the whole universe for last one hour.
“At CCD. I was supposed to be here. Right?”
“But it’s raining.”
She paused a little; thought of something; fought her circumstances; and then announced: “Ok, stay there for little more. I would come in fifteen minutes.”
That was our first triumph over the rigid traditions. It was then that I saw the consecrated spark amid the rain – a spark of love, and soon a dire repair clouded my thoughts. If it was a spark, a sensation, then would it too die away after some day like everything else, like us mortals? But those stark clouds did not last long; and as soon as, she came, drenched wet in rain, the universe ceased the heavenly battle and condoned to my resolve. While she went back, there was no rain, because there was no need of any conflict. We had overcome one, and none of them was needed any more.
If a desire can tame the whole universe, it was certainly of some rare ilk – it wasn’t normal, neither obvious. With those untraditional weapons of desire, I resolved to take on with the galaxies, and, above all, with our own dilemma. She had herself, and I had her. And together we had the dilemma, the inaction – something that revealed us everything, yet abetted not to accept the truth.
Everyone creates his past himself. It is a matter of selection, and thence a matter of your viewpoint. If you choose happy moments, your past would become euphoric; if you choose heartrending moments instead, your past would become painful. I had learnt how to write a blissful past. I favored making it a delight of its own; hence forgot the entire stern defeat, and remembered only the triumphant finale; I forgot the tormenting waits, and preserved only the moments of her arrival. It was the history of my past, that later spoke for me, fought for me.
That night I felt happy over my decisions. I wasn’t aware when I drew off of her thoughts, when the can emptied and when I resigned to sleep. But, the sense of content was omnipresent, during all the transition, everywhere, all around me and my flat.
The incident happened long ago, it re-happened to me yesterday…again…in my world, in my imagery.
In around three o’clock in the morning, my phone rang. I was half-asleep, tipsy. I thought, something in my dream was buzzing. But, dreams were never consistent, and the bell went on and on. I opened up my eyes, betraying the drowsiness, and found my phone ringing furiously in vexation, impatient to relax.
It had Anirudh on the other end. He was in Ujjain, on his way to Indore. He wanted me to pick him up from the station.
I went to bed again. Sleep always helped me keep from the daily chores helping me continue in my dream world – where thoughts were not under scrutiny, aspirations were not threatened, and everything that my brain would weave was possible. In my dreams, she was with me, she loved me, and together we were happy. It was a risky dream for I had no idea how I would react if she actually becomes mine, starts loving me in reality. Some dreams come with so many of risks that you better not go pursuing them. And if you go, prepare yourself for every rout, and every triumph. A triumph could also be derogatory at times. Losing is the law of nature, but once you win something extraordinary happens, which can certainly swing you offbeat. Beware, especially
if you don’t know how to handle the triumph, how to react to them.
But how long could you sleep, especially in those sweaty summer mornings? You must find some alternatives to keep those dreams isolated from the reality. By the time I woke up, Anirudh had already arrived to my flat shaking and waking me up from the virtual ground.
I looked at him and smiled.
He smiled back.
Sun was out on its tour; soon the world would be canopied under heat and lethargy. But that was far then, and we decided to go upstairs. We talked about his home, mother, family business, my job, new bike, our future, and ways to realize them. And soon a theory was out. We called it: working upon option B.
In childhood days, I wanted to become a cricket player, but soon conceded to academics: a target shifting strategy. Then, fell in love with a girl, left her, thinking myself trivial and unworthy against her beauty, good neither at cricket, nor in academics, never even tried to drag things a little further, grew complacent, limited my wishes and accused god for everything: another shift. Then I found studies even more difficult and started searching for a way out. Then I wished I would become a writer, but instead I was trained in engineering: another shift. And now, I wanted to go into journalism.
He, dreamed of literature, but sat for engineering, couldn’t clear and went for management, then into defense, quit his job and now was working on management again.
Despite those failures and those renunciations, we survived. Because we always had a plan B ready, this helped in smooth transition. Had we worked upon the plan B directly, we would have done what we wanted.
He went poignant and said: “I feel that she was the first alternative plan that actually happened to me.” She was his girlfriend, the muse of his life, and he usually talked very little about her or of anything related to her.
Theirs was a typical bollywood style of story. Both studied in the same college for some years, engaged, happy, in their own private life. She had a boy, and he a girl, before they met. The boy was as usual weird, and the girl as usual gorgeous – this is the way you always defend your great stance and destiny’s un-great decree, when you oust something extraordinary with something general. They met, denied at first, gradually talked at length, then met for longer, then redefined the word ‘love’, then shunned the past, then dreamt of a fresh future, and then rewove their present with new equations.
It’s all about the efforts, watch them and never let them waste, he said, neither plan A not B matters, your efforts matter.
“I am sure that shift would again come to me. Something would happen and stop me, or abet me.”
If I were a moment?
It would be a ‘comma’. Something from my past, something from future, connecting both of them, making a present, a presence!
If I were a woman?
It would be Amy Tan. Because all she thinks of is life.
If I were a man?
It would be myself. Some things in life you just don’t want to mess up.
If I were a writer?
It would be myself. Cherishing my abstractness all my life.
If I were a hero?
It would have been Howard Roark. absolute, raw, competent, inculpable, content, devoid of hortatory.
If I were a novel?
It would be The Alchemist. Dreams are all.
If I were a poet?
It would be Ghalib.
If I were a dream?
It would never live.
If I were a comedy?
It would be a satire. Absurd, supercilious, subtle.
If I were a play?
It would be a tragic romance. Lots of villains, single love, multifarious stories, building one upon another, faced off by antagonists all against a presumably sacred love. And lovers fighting their way through precarious ruckus.
If I were a film?
It would be a documentary upon Heroism.
If I were weak?
It would be a lover’s teardrops.
If I were strong?
It would be a lover’s unison.
If I were pain?
It would be a lover’s ache.
If I were free?
I would have been a cloud. Wandering every nook-and-cranny, looking for something, knowing nothing about, carrying small droplets along, at the whim of wind. Selfless yet selfish.
If I were a myth?
It would be ‘love never dies.’
If I were an idea?
It would be ‘man is the supreme most.’