11 September, 2012

The Last Laugh

For more Peanuts, go here

somebody once told me that
my laughter doesn't reach my eyes
i'd laughed it off
but a queer corner
within my mind
(the one that hoardes
old heartaches
and new wisdom)
It doesn't like confronting the truth.

somebody told me today
that i am the happiest person he knows
how wonderful i looked when i laughed,
for i laughed not with my mouth,
but my voice and my hands
and my eyes.

that queer mind-corner chuckled.
it has learnt well
how to shroud ambiguities
and iron out contradictions.
my face is calm:
cruising on auto-pilot.
as my laughter reaches my eyes
and my sorrows fill my gut.

07 September, 2012

Letters: Winchester


Here, breathing in the fragrance of a dying summer, I realise, it takes a love affair to make you feel lonely. The pleasures of Solitude seem a hollow promise I was lied about. Oh the laughable irony of it all! I find myself face to face with Loneliness and I refuse to make eye contact. I fight, with all I have. My books, these words, poems trailing on notebook margins, complaints gurgling up my throat.

“Zindagi mein jab tumhare ghum nahin the
Itne tanha the ki hum bhi hum nahin the.”

There is a queer romanticism in writhing in loneliness. I admire and abhor it with such passion, confusion blurs my emotions into a wobble sometimes. Literature, my sole comfort has also turned its back on me – no one loves a mopey person. As days leaf through me, I oscillate from one alarming notion to another. They get uncomfortable when I talk loopy, for I am not meant to. I am the sane, balanced one. I make the right choices and meet the deadlines. I wake up when my alarm rings and laugh at the right places. I am not supposed to crumble. I am not expected to write that note.

“I hurt myself today, to see if I still feel,
I focus on the pain, the only thing that’s real.”

The sun was a benevolent orb today. I went alone, and felt liberated in my own company. Winchester is a beautiful little town, and I walked into its famous Cathedral. A sermon was underway and the choir sang, their angelic voices echoing off the ancient walls. An ephemeral calm descended over me and prayers found their way to my lips. I walked past Jane Austen's tomb, her bone-powder and dust seemed more alive to me than many living people I knew. I shadowed the path Keats used to walk centuries ago. He wrote his Ode to Autumn here you know. My blue dress fluttered, a little too gaily for my taste. I walked briskly, as always. It was a rare day: calm and leisurely. 

“When your weight adds to mine
We’re weightless for a while”

I might be sleeping well, but I dream no longer.

02 September, 2012

The Ugly

I sit subdued. In the yellow light pool that the lamp breathes on me. I have just watched Gone Baby Gone. It follows the story of Amanda, a 4 year old girl who goes missing in an ugly part of Boston. As the tale unfolds, through a young local detective’s eyes, things get murkier, a cocaine powdered trail is unearthed, and everyone seems suspect. As the tone gets greyer, one realises, this was never meant to be an easy story. Alcoholic, coke-snorting mothers and gun-toting, foulmouthed men litter the scene. A few moral men try to do The Right Thing in a largely amoral world. Little Amanda is too young to comprehend the decisions being made for her. The movie ends on a discouraging note. Amidst the moral questions raises, it uncovers an ugly picture of humanity I find myself far removed from.   

After a while, I lie down. I shift about, the quilt frowns, annoyed at being misarranged again. I struggle to find a good spot, but you can never be really comfortable when reading Bukowski. His words are ugly and disturbing – just as he wants them to be. I can almost see the crusty old man smiling at my discomfort, as I hungrily gulp his harrowing words about abusive parents and a childhood coloured by violence and hatred. An America from another era, and I meet the same stories. Lives lived in fear, vacant dreams shattered and left to evaporate. I follow little (Hank) Chinaski as he grows from a bewildered child to an angry teenager to a rudderless young man. He uses his fists and boisterous talk, because he has learnt that the ugly and the poor are never loved. Again, I am isolated. I have not lived these words, I have never known them and am bewildered (and sadistically curious) at the world they paint. 

I close my book and put away my specs. The lamp is eased of its luminance. I think of my childhood, coloured vibrant with laughter and love. If there were tears, they were wiped away; if there were fears, they were stood up to. I was brought up by strong women and kind men. I had enough to eat and the occasional ice cream too. I had a school to go to and a home to come back to. I was taught to be curious. I grew up believing strength and weakness were as important as each other. It was not perfect, someone always had a better pencil box, but I grew up happy. 

I am worn and I close my eyes. In the nebulous in between world that is neither awake nor asleep, words and scenes from the movie and book coalesce into a continuous ugliness. I wished I could hold Amanda and teach her how to draw V-shaped birds. I always used to put them in my mountain-house-pine-tree pictures. I wanted to give Hank some peace, telling him fighting wasn't the only way. I wished to give them the hope I was brought up on. 


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