Saturday, 24 March 2012

Highway Rider

Buzzed on beer.
Buttons black leather jacket.

Shedding all inhibitions.

Steadily to alcohol.

Suddenly thrown into air.

Broken bones.
Barely alive at nineteen.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Walking On

Three Word Wednesday. This week's words: Amateur, Diligent, Nurture.

I fumble like an amateur as I tread the stony path to you, like I haven't learnt from my mistakes. My feet are bloody, I have forgotten the place from where I began. It's dark and rather lonely here. Sometimes I wonder why I trudge on because I see no sight of you. Or of anyone else. I wonder if it is because my eyes (and my brain) are set on finding you, and you alone. I hear echoes. If only they didn't resonate from the past. I feel the rubbery graze of a bat and goosebumps erupt on my arm. I curse you for always being more than a step ahead. I hate you for not waiting. The trees make strange shadows overhead. Stretching wily fingers at me. It's not fear that engulfs me but I can't figure out why I feel this nausea.

Do you remember those afternoons on the bed, with the sun filtering in through the sheer white curtains, when we played cards and bickered like children? When my fingers diligently traced the lines of yours as if I could memorize the exact pattern of your fingerprints. My mind drifts to winter evenings cycling to ancient corners for cheap food and loud crowds. When we found the little hill with the lone tree and you looked at me with eyes brimming with awe. I think of that quiet session with your music in our ears and the biting cold at our feet and I'd felt like we'd grown up, but stayed just the same.

I don't want to go on anymore. What used to feel like a blanket nurturing me in snowy weather now feels like a bed of nails. Those childlike antics of ours used to be enough. But innocence has been blackened over the years and what's left of our incredulous theatrics is simply a mediocre pantomime. Endless words and open laughter have given way to pathetic silences. The arms that protected now shirk responsibility, like a superhero past his prime.

I cannot let go, despite it all. My blistered feet walk on.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

The Real Write Ups -- David

As I wrote write-ups for my friends for the College Yearbook, I realised how hollow it is to attempt to compress into three sentences the relationships I have built over three years. Here are the Real Write-Ups.

I can't recollect the beginning of you and I. You're like my favourite purple sweatshirt. I've worn it so often that it's like second skin and it doesn't matter when it began because it feels like it was eons ago. I do remember the cartoons. I still have them in my drawer. In the beginning you were quite fascinating. I was mostly impressed by the fact that you could be so nice to everyone. It was a gift I didn't have and it came effortlessly to you. There I was, developing a crush on this little person with the thick-rimmed glasses sitting next to me. 

It was easy with you. Exchanging secrets over KFC didn't seem like such hard work (the hot wings helped). You do this thing when you laugh, it's as if your entire body is laughing. It's the most adorable thing I've ever seen. But I remember there was such a long time when I used to hold my tongue, lest my dirty mouth ruin your impression of me. For the record, I did try to clean up, but I was too far gone. I really didn't know how to make people laugh without being raunchy.

There's no one else who has convinced me so easily to go to church. I found myself walking to church in the evening with you, silently cribbing because some sort of Jesus-talk would automatically crop up. I found myself arguing with you over all these things about god and religion and being frustrated with you for not giving in and then frustrated with myself for not giving in. There was that book you gave me for my birthday that I tried so hard to make sense out of, but I just couldn't. I sang along to the songs though, because some music is always better than none. I felt happy by the end of it and glad I came.

I never did want to believe you were flawless, but then again, I could never convince myself you weren't. The sort of 'goodness' that beamed out of you was quite too much to process. I felt like I needed to defend you in case someone took advantage of it. No one messes with my David. It wasn't so much a sense of possessiveness as it was protectiveness. 

Then there was this 'paradigm shift' and for the longest time, I couldn't digest the fact that this New and Improved David really existed (someone told me, "David is not feeling well." I thought you had chickenpox). Badder, dirtier and yes, sexier too. Not that Old David wasn't sexy of course. We started all over again with you on my side this time. We began a new journey of firsts, ones that we may not be able to retell to many. But that makes them all the more special. I was always learning from you about the white and pure side of life. Now here I was, teaching you the ways of the dark. Not surprisingly though, your essential goodness stayed just the same. Of course, the level of niceness ranged according to moods and people, but it was still there. So was that gorgeous laugh.

We are more at home with each other now, I think. You finally laugh at my jokes. I feel like we could ride the entire yellow line on the metro and not be bored of each other. Though I'm pretty sure you'd be fidgety because it screwed up your meticulously planned schedule.You still inspire me. The way you read Economics, the way you love guitar and the way your sexiness just drips off you like honey. Yes, I knew you'd like that one. Look at the picture: I've purposely made myself look preggos so that your hotness is magnified. Oh, the self-sacrifice!

We may be light years apart in distance in the years to come. Will I let that keep you away? You bet I won't. You've seen and heard more about me than I am comfortable with and I will be damned if I let you spread that kind of nonsense to the rest of the world.

The most compelling memories of you are the small ones. Like days in the cafe and Google Talk conversations that lift my spirits. Like the little video emails that we send each other and the hugs that never lose their warmth and always manage to embarrass you. Like the bad habits we've developed over the years or the exchanges of Mallu chips for Stickjaws. With your variations of Stephanian sweatshirts with those same old ripped jeans and that big head of hair that my fingers always search for, you've made it impossible for me to let go. It will be these tiny things that I'll hold on to the tightest. From being your protector (at least in my own head), you have become mine. You are the one that witnesses my weaknesses and doesn't flinch. You are the one that knows all my stories and you've never judged. For even though your hands are small and often quite dirty (god knows where they've been), they are the kindest ones I'll ever hold. 

Sunday, 11 March 2012

The Party

I wish I could help you.

Your dark skin hides among the wooden pillars of the shack. As the sun sets on the horizon and the sand begins to glint under the moonlight, you prepare yourself for another long night. You serve us even as you know we are beggars where we come from. You serve with a smile but your beady eyes are bloodshot. I wonder whether it's the daily grind or the ganja. As your feet move in time to the beat, your tanned fingers graze her back and she smiles, "are you hitting on me?" She's so obviously under the influence, but then again, so are you. Her hand is on yours. It takes just a quick shift of my gaze to the DJ for you to get her to walk to one of the rooms with you. It's routine. Do you remember who all they were? Their names or maybe where they were from? You look like you're tired of keeping track.

This place puts you in a trance of sorts. The ocean's waves are as perpetual and incessant as your heart beat. The sounds of the wind and the water form a soothing symphony that floats around in your brain. It's not just the sea. It's the lights reaching out into the night like confident arms and touching the stars. It's the music beating its rhythm till the sunrise. It's the hundreds of bodies moving, not moving, as the party dances on into the night. It's the bright red burn of chillums pouring smoke into the air. It's the smell of chai wafting through that smoke, doing a little tango. In the throng of the crowd, it feels otherworldly. I can't imagine how it must be for you, living on these shores for years, to be in this constant state of disconnection from the real world. The tourists come for a few weeks and return to their cages but your life is their holiday, extended dangerously.

You're back, beers and bottle openers on a tray. I hear you say to a foreigner with a strong accent, "we look like gods. Sex, drugs, money, alcohol. It's all here, we have all of it. The truth is, I am suffering." What makes you exhibit your anguish so openly? What makes you push it away before you can run away? Your arms are mottled with syringe marks and maybe it is the remembrance of a worse time that you tolerate what you are now. I wish I could walk you to the ocean and let the salty water cleanse you. I wish I could take you up on a helicopter and land you in a place that was less unfriendly to the concept of reality. I wish there was a different life for you besides smiling at these dirty white faces.

Suddenly, I look at myself leaning on this flimsy bamboo beam. The black lights make my billowing white dress glow. I look at you and then I scan my eyes across the dance floor. Wasn't I dancing just a second ago? My feet are still moving quietly to the sounds of the DJ. No, I don't want my feet to touch the ground of complete consciousness yet. I no longer find myself wishing another life for you. I look down at my ghostly body and remember the big bump that my tummy has become. "There's a life in there", I tell myself, "that you have the power to change."  It is a reminder that my brain doesn't allow me to hold on to. I touch my skin, leaving sweat marks from my palms. My heart rate steadily climbs as the slow wash of the comedown flows over me. Goosebumps erupt on my arms and legs as I walk barefoot on the cold sand, towards that next beckoning fix. 

Saturday, 3 March 2012

The Real Write Ups -- Ann

As I wrote write-ups for my friends for the College Yearbook, I realised how hollow it is to attempt to compress into three sentences the relationships I have built over three years. Here are the Real Write-Ups. 

The first image that comes to mind when I think of you is one where you are sitting at the back bench, with a book open, one leg crossed over the other, picking at your cuticles with your nails and reading intently. It makes you look curious and stern at the same time. It makes me imagine you as one of those professors that wear gorgeous silk saris and take no nonsense from their students. But of course, as with everyone, despite your shyness you are easily liked by your students. With that stubborn expression and a copy of Frontline along with the attendance register.  I can imagine you giving free attendance and silently smiling to yourself remembering how much we enjoyed it in College.

As my thoughts traverse on, our memories span across my mind like a film reel with your fingerprints marking every frame. When you broke down in the Metro. When you've hugged me for no reason (even though you're not a hugger). Malayalam dictation in Coffee Day. Endless hours of chatter (and quietness) in various comfy chairs and lawns in Delhi. Shopping as an excuse to go restaurant-hopping. Boys and continuous marriage conversations. Home, being away from home. Cherai beach and flopping in each others' homes. Fatness advice and lamentations. Just as it's impossible to isolate one frame from a two-hour long movie, so it's impossible to defragment all the million memories and list them out.

You've awed me, from the beginning. I was once asked why, and I never could come up with a good enough reason. Maybe it's the Malayalam or the music we share. Maybe it's Wills.  Maybe it's because you're so vehemently closed around most people and in contrast, so breathtakingly open around a few. I'd like to think it's an amalgamation of things that compound one over the other.

You are the golden sand that I dig my feet into when I go to the beach. Even as the waves spatter foam all over my legs and distract me, the strong foothold that the sand gives me makes sure that I am not carried away by the current. You are the epitome, not just of stability but this beautiful sense of calm. Even as you break into song sometimes in the middle of a conversation or laugh spontaneously at my ridiculous jokes, it is your unwavering presence holding me upright in times of doubt and confusion that keeps me close to you. It makes you stubborn too. In a way that makes me afraid to question or oppose you. When you say, "no", there is nothing else you mean but that. In a way, I respect that you are strong with your decisions. In a way, I resent that I can't attempt to change your mind.

Your sternness though is never present for long. You always replace it with that childlike smile of yours. I am going to be so very upset when we are forty and you still look like a twenty-five year old. As the weeks and the months pass on and we worry about our place in the world after College, I find myself missing you already. For even as the red brick and stone arches display their charm, the lawns and trees play the songs of the birds and the corridors paint gleaming sunlight rectangles on the floor, none of it has any depth or meaning unless it is filled with the people that made College home. I couldn't think of walking these halls without you right next to me and it is this thought that makes me fear what comes next.

Before I can let myself be sad, your voice plays in my head. The voice of firm assurance. I am reminded that we are not friends that disappear after College. We are the ones that will makes toasts at each others' weddings (I am already writing my speech). We will exchange prawn recipes and share secrets of where to get the best kappa biryani. I will think of you every time I hear Sultans of Swing. I will also laugh to myself when I am on a Spice Jet flight with crying babies. You will always be around, guiding my reckless little boat on this frightening sea of life.