Friday, January 12, 2007

There was terror outside windows, outside doors, outside hearts. Men still took the 9:18 CST local. For life must go on. And the government issued plans and figures and memorandas. And checked your hand baggage twice. And we went on our work like mannequins with a purpose. Or without. Whatever u say. You told me in an emotionless voice about your sister. And i tried to empathize.But you were a stranger. And you could be one of them.

I painted three posters which celebrated the "spirit". And lay on a cold white bed while someone stole some of my blood. I attended three peace rallies and a demonstration that nearly turned violent and effective. I did not attend the fourth, for my feet hurt and i wanted to listen to music. On the ride home, people stared defiantly at each other, determinedly indifferent. And i saw you, or thought i did. Your lurid green kurta and soft speckled beard. And i remembered.

Doors and windows were shut but insecurity seeped in anyway. And i curled tighter against myself while the PA system declared Emergency. Blank, vacant looks greeted unsympathetic unresponsive faces until it all became a blur. There was either colour, or fear in those eyes. And suddenly i was running. Running down the tracks in wild, carefree abandon. Ity might as well have been yesterday. Or last year. Only it wasnt. For i was the only one running. And i was runnin away.

Liquid kisses under flourescent lights.Unknown fingers, unknown lips. And how terribly terribly real. Cracked windows, and a broken PA system. Dancing neon-light-shadows of unreal people in an unreal world. And i remember your hands, though your face is a blur. Intertwined fingers, interlocked hearts, intermingled feelings, and an irreversible act. On unfamiliar unscrubbed floor, amidst muffled voices and undecided sentiments. Sirens blared at a distance. You knew what had happened. Again.
And i remembered about your sister. And quietly wept.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Tobacco Trance

There is smoke-filled coffee haze, there is arguing over Menthol and Marlboro, there is quoting a little Prufrock, a little Yeats, there is a little Dylan, a little Polly.
Sometimes we read plays, and sometimes we play. There are those rare discussions, those rare flashes of wit. Sometimes we are all too insecure, sometimes we curl our lips at other people not-so-different from us.
We got the booz, the weed, the rock-n-roll, the sex, the freedom. We got it all so much, that now we dont know what we want.
I belong to a lost generation. and i have no idea where I'm going. As long as i know i'll have chances to dream and fly. And maybe write poetry at times. Or sing to a tuned-out guitar.
We know we care, yet we cant show it. There is too much of protecting the self from being hurt. Everything is too corny or too lame.
Where is the quest? what are we questing for? As long as we know where the next joint is coming from, the next broken record...the next high and the next dream.
I am the warped mixed up product of an age that believes in Satyajit Ray, communism, consumerism, and John Lennon all at once.

Change? Cholbe na cholbe na...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

An Abstract Piece of Prose

It started pouring. Suddenly, just like that. People everywhere were running for cover. The shops near Deshapriya Park that had stuff hanging outside started closing down. The man selling telebhajas on the road wrapped up his wares in methodical order, looking the least bit bothered about it. The Ballygunge-Esplanade tram derailed in all that confusion. Bright, colourful umbrellas were pulled out of bags, children scooped up in arms. An auto conveniently splashed water over my skirt before speeding away. I noticed that it had jumped the signal. Two policemen nearby were talking about the world cup. I was waiting for an SD4 and hoping that Rooney would play.

“…Amidst the hundred droplets that fall,
I have seen the two closest to the earth…”

It was the only poem anyone had ever written to me. And though it wasn’t a Keats, who incidentally happened to be my favorite, and though it was what you would call extremely corny, I still thought about it all the time, and recited it in my head. It was about the rains. And about me. I couldn’t write poems at all. I could write answers, and really short stories or rather ‘pieces of abstract prose’ as they have been called…but poetry eluded me. Poetry is my favourite part of literature. I alternate hopelessly between Keats and Plath. Sylvia Plath of course.

The tram was still derailed. Two other trams had joined the line behind it. The last one would take me home, it was a Tollygunge-Ballygunge. I got into the first one even though the conductor warned me, “onek deri hobe kintu”. I got a single seat near the front and left my window open. The rain got my left sleeve and made me shiver from time to time.

Some poems made me shiver to. When I read them the first time without understanding the meaning involved, but knew all the same that they made sense somewhere. Sometimes they made by blood run cold, with their sheer intensity. And I always wished I could write even half as well as that. But I could only write answers. Not poems.

A few workmen had gathered near my window. The conductor closed all the windows near the ladies’ seats and then proceeded my way. I put my head outside pretending not to be aware of his presence. Soon, my window was the only one left open in the tram. I pretended not to notice.

The rain would come right onto my bed and desk if the windows on the west were not closed. So in order to avoid that, my grandmother would close every window in the house as soon as the daylight streamed in. During summer it protected the windows against the sun, and in monsoon it protected the windows against rain. The neon light would remain on all the time and it would be hard to say if it was day or night. My cousin and me would sneak out to the chhat whenever nobody noticed. It was always too hot to be there barefoot, so we would hop around like those green insects with wings. During the rains, I was allowed to get wet. My grandfather would stand inside with a towel in his hand while I danced about and sang in the rain.

I knew it would stop raining soon. It was becoming brighter. The workmen had disappeared to the front of the tram. A mother and her kid got into the tram perhaps for the shelter. They sat on the adjacent 2-seater next to mine. The kid wanted to open her window but her mother refused. She even looked at me a little angrily. She obviously thought I was responsible for putting such ideas in the child’s head. I turned away again as the mother started rummaging the girl’s school bag for her homework. I tried to tune out her voice. “Eto kom ki kore pele?”, “Eta to ami shikhiye diyechhilam”, “Ronny koto peche test-e?”

I had got 55/100 in maths on my unit test. And though in school I tried to pretend it was all ok, I knew I was in big trouble. I told them my literature marks first (85), but they wanted maths. Everybody in my family for as much as I could remember worshipped maths. And I just couldn’t get the hang of Boolean algebra. My pride was too mortified to eat that day. I stood on the roof and got wet all night. In the morning I shut the doors and windows so that no one would find out. No one did.

I hoped the tram would get repaired soon. I wanted to see how the Maidan looked after it rained. I love the tram ride to Esplanade. I had done it thrice. However it was the first time I was sitting on a single seat. The kid in the next seat was sneaking glances at me while her mother was reprimanding her. I smiled. She looked away. A couple stood in the bus stop nearby talking. The girl was very pretty. The boy had his back turned to me.

I came home running in the rain. Running because I was late. My mother didn’t look at me before she yelled about how late it was. Then she looked. And asked me if I was crying. I said no—it was only the rain. She told me to get changed so that everyone could eat. That night I stood on the chhat…all dry even though it was pouring around me. It had been covered last year by blue plexiglass.

The rain had stopped by now. The telebhaja man took out his frying pan again. The tram was repaired too. It was waiting for the signal to turn green. The seconds showed. 16,15,… The sun came out. The kid was halfway through her homework. I suddenly felt really silly sitting inside the tram all wet when everything around was dry and sunny. And…I didnt feel like going through the Maidan after all. I jumped off just as the conductor was coming my way.

I decided to walk home. The wind hit me in my left-side wet clothes and made me shiver. Not the kind of shiver I felt when I had understood Snake-charmer the first time. Not the shiver i still feel when i read the Ode.
No, this one just left me feeling cold to the bones. And horribly, horribly empty.