Thursday, July 19, 2007

The inner life

I shifted to a new place.

On Sunday evening, quite late, I stood watching the waves from my basement. The waters seemed far from me—a wilderness stay put right in between. Milky hoods rose up from the surface, stretching and commingling, before crashing into the embankment along the periphery of the row of buildings. There was once a beach there. Was once a beach there, there? There, there was once a beach. Now, there is none.

Over the years, the waters have slowly, certainly, inundated the shore so much so that residents of the buildings survey the watery expanse with eyes that are daubed as much with a lurking foreboding as with an accustomed, yet sheer, thrill.

What’s wrong with this world? Nothing whatsoever. Except that even birdsongs might not be to everyone’s liking.

I trod on ground laid thick with granite chips that had been wet to an almost black by the mist in the air. In the windy cool of the darkness, my body broke a thousand bubbles of spindrift that floated in the air.

The sky was patched in a nightly shade—billowy, rippled, shifty—and collapsing. An aircraft flew through the clouds—its lights helping upward-cast eyes follow the trail—before being muffled by cottony blankets.

Within me, there were a thousand voices speaking in languages that I couldn’t talk in. All assumed personas spoke forth with immaculate articulacy. I remembered weak smiles that had chapped the corner of lips. I could not remember when I spilt into two or even more. A wall was the only thing I had carried along with me, like a treasured item of furniture. And wherever I set my dump, I surrounded myself with it. Sporadically, when the need arose, I filled up the thin, craggy lines of fissures.

Why do people come together? All associations based on loneliness, ennui, a desire to vent, to pour out—what is their destiny? What reduces the strongest relationships to the sharing of everyday banalities? Why is a celebrated form of dependence called love? Does it occasion a loss of individuality in exchange of a secure companion? Can two people who do not need each other, who are complete in themselves, who do not pursue company for want of a listening ear—can’t two such people—come together?

I feel empty, incomplete, like hastily strung words that have not arrived at their denouement. The crux is within. The lights that will guide me home will shine on me while I’m wandering alone on streets that have no name. The door within will answer my knock on a murderous night.

Nowhere…can the world exist except within us.
Our life passes in transformations,
And what is outside us grows steadily smaller, until it vanishes…


Thursday, July 05, 2007

growing up again

Growing up meant outgrowing polka-dotted, fancy 'durga puja' shirts for less gaudier, plain ones... it meant wondering how actors changed costumes in the blink of an eye during song sequences

growing up meant learning about the worlds of Right and Wrong, Dos and Donts, and then witnessing their boundaries dissolve.. it meant watching the black and white blend into solemn grays... it meant learning that the 'ever after' in the 'lived-happily-ever-after' ending stories was actually a Short, Finite period of Time

growing up meant asking questions to which there were no answers: in a fight between a hippo and a shark who will win? do you love daddy more or me?

growing up meant watching adults make funny faces and laughing at their foolishness... or breathing life into battery-powered toys, favourite pencilboxes, and fragrant erasers such that losing them sapped you of reasons to be happy

growing up meant letting school teachers build edifices in your memory that lasted more than a lifetime... it meant piling up birthday candles until there were too many

growing up meant not letting a drop of pee out until mother said 'ssssssss'... it meant learning to tie shoelaces by yourself... or lisping 'baba black sheep' before proud, indulgent Mamuni

growing up meant saying 'god promise' to be privy to deep, dark and mysterious littlechildren secrets... it meant swearing to be 'best friends for ever'

growing up meant dreading when you had to look mother in her eyes and lie and realizing that it was futile... it meant listening to grandma's fantastical stories with rapt attention and then believing in them... it meant being petrified by the palpable dread in ghost tales

growing up meant having an idea of 'adult' questons and wondering who to get their answers from... it meant watching a world of infinite possibilties shrink when you fathomed those answers

having grown up means biting nostalgic pies from memory and almost smiling out loud at the lucidity of bygone years... it also means losing an artlessness and not mourning the Loss...
it means spinning a life gone by on memory's wheel and lending an acceptable shape to its corpus... it means letting wondrous eyes turn into hard marbles and living with the consolation that it was worth it... it means measuring words before others... it means adulterating friendship and gathering and dusting off soulmates... it means fighting against everything and everyone to protect that little something that is still unscathed

P.S.: I had published this post (except the last part) about a year ago