29 August, 2012

Where I learn that it is fashionable to read Bukowski nowadays

I walk into a well-worn bookshop:
the kind with geriatric book-people
discussing obscure book-things
in those jaundiced book-voices;
laced with too much coffee
and drenched in puddles of yellowing lamplight.

I ask for Ham on Rye
"A second-hand copy please."
A deep weary breath and then 
"My dear, Dear," ol' Gerry says, clucking his tongue as if
I had said something quite unfashionable. 
"You'd have to have a pot of money 
to be able to afford a second-hand Bukowski."

Wide-eyed, I blink an unfashionable-blink,
give him an unfashionable-halfgrin,
and mutter insignificant nothings
in that unfashionable-mutter that comes with
drinking too much coffee
and being drenched in puddles of yellowing lamplight.

I then walk out 
with a shiny new
hideously bright 
white-paper-ink-fresh edition
of Henry Chinaski's sorry lifetale.

"...there is a loneliness in this world so great 
that you can see it in the slow movement of  
the hands of a clock.
people so tired 
either by love or no love..." 
 Excerpt from 'The Crunch' from Love is a Dog from Hell

10 August, 2012


Picture from: Can'trememberwhere

i've taken the bypass on humanity
it's the long road home

hop skotching 
from one time warp to the next 

i take it everyday

quick sharp little paces
along this meandering detour

where I find not 
a face I can lay claim to.

I'm reading two books at the same time:
yaa-haa, that is my idea of fun.

Vivekananda meets Murakami meets Boo-caw-skeee
a drunken sphaggetti bowl of meanderings.

on a great day, I eat some cherries
and bin the seeds out my window.

How far can I spit?

I down my wine water
and curl into a bubble. 

as the morning dew steams the window pane.

08 August, 2012

Letters: Reading


It’s getting cold here and you know how I shrivel up in the winters. I become a cranky wrinkled prune, wrapped up in quilts, romancing a book and refusing to step into the chill. How I would relish a cup of tea made by you. Remember how I’d asked you for step-wise instructions on how to make tea just like you, but we both knew, even then, that I’d never make it. I think half the charm of drinking tea is having to not make it yourself. On grey days like these, I love snuggling. Perhaps even more than kissing, but I can see you shake that planet-sized brain of yours at something so blasphemous, so I won’t elaborate.

After days that seem more like months, of lying in my lonely bed and conjuring you from my memories, (rather unsuccessfully for they languish my dear, your absence leaves them so threadbare), I’ve buttoned and laced up. I’m determined to brave the cold. To fight this Solitude-induced Snuggle Starvation that threatens to engulf me. As soon as I walk out, my nose turns an unflattering shade of plum. I rub it with my mittened palms and remember how your hands laughed as they ran over its limited surface. “Such a small nose! And so flat!” “It goes perfectly well with my face”, I’d retorted and you’d made peace by planting a kiss on it.  

Ek zara chehra udhar kijiye inayat hogi
Aapko dekh ke badi der se, meri saans ruki hain

In this wintry mood of sombre longing, I find myself on the periphery of the lake. It’s my place of calm – familiar, yet engrossing. In summer I had picked blackberries here, the plump berries collapsing into delightful mush as I picked them, staining my fingers a passionate purple. Then I had discovered a raspberry bush in late autumn and the scarlet fruit perked up many a lonely walk. I have seen the trees around this lake change colours with the seasons. Like tragic skeletons after the fire of autumn, they now stand disrobed, skeletal shadows of themselves. Summer saw them show off such enviable greens. Rich olives and fanciful limes, shades merging and dancing in the summer sun, how warm the world seemed then! The thought of summer reminds me of that sweltering day we had fought to escape it, sweating by the bucket, two filthy lovers hounding Delhi’s parks for some respite. I struggle to shake myself out of one reverie only to collapse into another.

We're not the same, dear, as we used to be.
The seasons have changed and so have we.
There was little we could say, and even less we could do
To stop the ice from getting thinner under me and you.

I look at the lake now. Its surface is frozen at this time of the year, but just about. The water slides over itself in broken sheets of glass. The ducks paddle about in small huddles and I have again forgotten to bring the bread I’d kept aside for them. They look at me expectantly, hoping for some crumbs and then seeing me empty-handed, turn away, shaking their beaks disapprovingly. An evening from another time, we had fought over the phylogeny of ducks and geese. I had been trying to find you in the maze of our favourite gardens and you’d said, “I’m where the ducks are.” “You mean the geese”, I’d said and saw you sitting on a bench, surrounded by their white cackles. I’d smiled as I saw you (I still marvel at how my face always manages to do that when it sees you, no matter how sombre the impending conversation). Those smiles, are my way of telling you (and my incredulous self) that after all this while, I still skip heartbeats. I had watched you see me and get up. The geese (which they undoubtedly were) scattered and looked for other prospective feeders. We had been standing on opposite banks of the pond that day and smiled across the expanse of water. I’d followed your steps watching you make your way to me, it had been a mellow evening. No one looks back at me across the lake today and I carry on walking.

A cold wind has started blowing and my hands feel lonely within their mittens. I look up and see a battalion of clouds march into my share of the sky. Have you ever wondered about how clouds must feel at being pushed about? Do they have existential crises as they are blown into and out of shape constantly? And what if they are having conversations and are metamorphosed mid-sentence? What happens to all those lost words and incomplete thoughts? Does the wind gobble them up the way it feeds on my pathetic little wishes? I meander along such significant wonderings and tread back home. As I’m latching the gate, a black Labrador smartly turned out in a red and blue checked coat greets me. I smile at him gratefully. He sees the vacancy in my eyes and immediately knows the winter is making my soul shudder. The underside of his jaw is white with age and I respectfully wish him a warm evening. In return, as we pass each other, he rubs his cold nose against my hand. It is fleeting, so imperceptible, I could’ve imagined it. But either way, I felt it and gratefully smile back at him. 

Tonight, that nuzzle alone will have to keep me warm.

Goodnight, love.
[February, 2011]

Chapter 1


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