Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Venus and Venus

The song was slow and melodious. The lyrics profound and abstruse, just the way he loved them. A melancholy singer, who had died too young to prove his mettle, was crooning in the most wistful of voices. The book lay on the bed, untouched and unopened. The bookmark still extruded from the page he had last been reading. In juxtaposition, the novel had been devoured in a fashion that could only be described as ravenous. But then wait. He had not meant to write about songs or books. So should we, if you don’t mind, digress?

Let’s jump straight to the point. The other point if you please. There’s something about girls. There has to be. The way they carry off nonchalance in the most dignified fashion. The way they make spite sound so amusing. The way they can inspire the very notion of infinity. The way they balance the crooked equation of humanity. The way they instigate malice and malevolence in their most sinister incarnations. The way in which they have turned persuasion into an art form, honed to perfection. The way their hair smells delicious after every bath. The way they can make you read the most absurd of letters until your eyes have started to smart. The way they turn dumbness into a hypothetical concept, not worthy of their attention. The way they have led themselves to believe that spotting one bird, instead of two, is just fine. The way they inspire literature and music alike. The way you can be the one to share their most intimate secrets and yet be frighteningly distant from their affection. The way they can be the only overbearing presence in your life and yet make it feel like it’s perfectly normal. The way they can make you remember each and every nuance of the colored rays of a dying sun, a picture perfect ending to the last evening you spent together. The way you go over their old photographs, just to catch a glimpse of the person you now miss. The way their humility teaches you more lessons than one. The way you feel jealous of their manifold skills and yet adore them for the very same reasons. The way their smiles usher in sunshine in the darkest corners of your lives. The way they bring completeness and void in our lives in such extremities that you begin to hate them for that. Yes, they must be having something to them. Something much beyond our limited comprehension. Something special.

Ah girls. They make the highs higher and the lows more frequent. They can be the light at the end of the tunnel, the silver lining, or the curse with no cure. They can do black magic and still get away with it.

PS - Certain glaring grammatical errors in this post were pointed out by Kartoon. Have now rectified them (Y).

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Parched Lips of Desire

Inspired by the television drama, “Tell Me You Love Me”.

Akanksha demurely fussed over her skirt as she waited outside the closed teak doors. She had been, for some time now, pretending to straighten out a few imaginary creases. Or plausibly not. One couldn’t be too sure. The fidgeting had caught the attention of the small urchin who was trying to serve tea to the victimized faces in the waiting room. He looked at her expectedly, smiling his most affable grin. She politely turned down the offer and shooed him off. “This is no time for tea”, she reprimanded herself. The urchin loitered off, disgusted, and the fidgeting resumed after a moment’s notice.

Her pale blue blouse was in sharp contrast with the black skirt. A necklace of perfectly white pearls and a pair of modish sandals completed the guise. The dress had seemed so somber that she had thought about changing into something livelier more than once. She didn’t want Shlok suspecting anything. Not now at least. However, deciding that the purpose was probably just as gruesome, she had gone along with the prior choice.

A sign on the door, in golden letters, proclaimed the presence of Dr. Renu Makhija, Psychotherapist within the hallowed confines. She waited for it to devolve into something less intimidating. When she started smarting with the lack of consequence, she chose to look away. Another couple shared the waiting room. It would be some time before she would be called in, it dawned on her.

The leave from work had been difficult to explain. But she had handled the situation deftly. Shlok did not know. Of course. It was best that way. Akanksha had deliberated over this visit for some time now. He had been apprehensive about the whole idea. His unwillingness had even metamorphosed into an altercation that had seen him sleeping in the guest bedroom. He had held onto the opinion that once they accepted the idea they were a couple with problems, they would become one too. She had been a bit more open minded. Or maybe plain ignorant. Ultimately, she had decided to proceed on her own.

Five minutes later, the couple went in. They somehow seemed a bit ill at ease for people who were going to share their best kept secrets with a total stranger. Secrets about their troubled relationship. Taboos about their sex life. Squabbles over in laws and what not. Maybe theirs was a first time too. And mulling over that line of thought, Akanksha began to retrospect on what had gone wrong.

It was a ritual she had indulged in often. Without much consequence. A money plant in the lobby caught her wary eye. She smiled absent mindedly. Shlok and her were comfortably well off. But affluence can not guarantee everything. She had only now begun to comprehend the beauty of the cliché. Their busy schedules hardly gave them time for each other. The problem was, neither of them complained about it. But that was just one of the reasons, some obvious many indistinct.

What had started off as a picture perfect love affair, had now managed to assume a much more sinister form. Conversations had assumed the garb of a compulsion with alarming ease. As long as they possibly could, they avoided every mention of everything. It had been almost a year since they had made love to each other. It was not like any of them was having an affair. They still loved each other. Very much. But the spark had somehow fizzled out. She questioned whether loving each other was enough. Shlok simply chose to ignore the questions, fearing the answers might throw up more demons than he was prepared to face. Their life had turned into one of the clichés they had once abhorred.

The daytime reverie breathed its last when it was finally time for her to see the therapist. Akanksha thought about running away when her name was called out. About giving Shlok another chance. About crying and hoping everything would be set in order. About somehow resolving their differences just like they had managed to as a young couple, madly in love with life. And with each other. Maybe even she had come to believe that there was no coming back from this. It would just be a desperate attempt to salvage something that had already been lost. A fight against a few evens, and several odds. But she was not willing to witness the downfall like a mute spectator. So she steadied herself once again and walked in.

Dr. Renu turned out to be a wizened old granny who had somehow managed to hold on to the glow of her youth. Her face was comforting, as if she knew the cure. Already. Without even listening to her problems. The beige couch was frighteningly comfortable and Akanksha made it her oasis in the desert of the office.

Dr. Renu spoke nothing for the first few minutes, probably trying to weigh the gravity of the desperation she would be confronted with. She had, as a marriage counselor, managed to salvage several wrecked relationships. Hopefully, this would end up as being another one of them. Once the introductions were over, she asked Akanksha why her husband wasn’t there.

“He, Shlok, has some misgivings about this rigmarole. His apprehensions. We have our differences.”

“The sad part is, Shlok’s apprehensions probably have more weight than you give them credit for. It won’t be long before you both start arguing over this, well, rigmarole. Your husband will feel misrepresented and outraged that he doesn’t have a voice in something that’s so important for your relationship. He will feel angry and would invariably end up on the same couch, beside you, hyperventilating about how unfair all this has been. Then we might progress to the next phase of this therapy. Is that how you want it?”

The wily old fox seems to understand this, thought Akanksha. It’s her job after all, thought she again. “I guess he will understand”, she ended up muttering, more under her breath than over it.

“Let’s forget about your husband for a while. What do you want?”

“I don’t know. I guess I want to be close to him again. Like we used to be.”

“Do you think something like sex would make that happen? Or is it connection on a philosophical level that has gone missing? Do you feel that you want to have the same kind of romance that you enjoyed when you guys first started off?”

“I was hoping you would be able to sort out that tangle.”


A few days into therapy, Akanksha decided to break the news to Shlok. Office had not been pleasant for him that day. The traffic even more so. Common sense dictated she postpone the trauma for some other day. However, she decided to pile it on him all at once. The melodrama turned out to just as she had expected it to be.

“Shlok, we don’t try out anything anymore. I mean it’s been almost a year. Not that I am hinting at anything. But still. We sometimes need to get out of this mess we have landed ourselves into. Get it out of our system.”

“You know, we do my version of things.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“That means I love you. And that’s what matters. We have been around for a while now. We are not going anywhere. Not me. Not you.”

“This is not who I want to be Shlok. Or not what I wanted to be. You never help me.”

“Akanksha, all I do is help you. So much so, I am sometimes sick of helping.”

“I just feel we need to talk about this with someone.”

“Oh, that. Oh. Oh! So you have been seeing a therapist? Haven’t you? And you did not think I was important enough to be included in the decision? Since when have the sessions been going on dear? Since when? And when did you plan on letting the cat out of the bag?”

“It’s just been a few days. You don’t need to get paranoid and start getting hyper about this. I was sick of all the things that kept going around in circles in my head. I needed a way out. You were not ready for it. So I decided to proceed on my own.”

“You really want to do that? Turn us into a couple with problems? That’s a slippery slope you know.”

“So is this. Well, I just did. I am just gonna see how this goes.”

“You talk about me?”

“A little. Not really. It’s mostly about me.”

“Why are you doing all this?”

“Why do you care?”

“If we have sex, will all this go away?”

“Are you kidding? Please don’t dwell on that subject.”

“No. Maybe this was needed for me to know how much it matters to you.”

“Please don’t. Please.”


A month later, Akanksha chanced to meet Nethra, a friend from college. Over a cup of coffee and two sugar free pastries, she opened up to her. The incessant battering of her emotions over the past few weeks had left her considerably weak as far as restraint was concerned. Even things not meant to be discussed over coffee were debated about with abandon. For a second, even Nethra was stumped. But she must have sensed the plight in her friend’s voice. So she chose to just listen. Sometimes that is all it takes.

“Do couples start hating each other if they stop having sex?”

“I think they stop having sex, and then they realize they hate each other.”

“No, is it like they start hating each other because they stop having sex? Or the other way round?”

“Sex is a great thing to hide behind, you know. Do you get what I mean?”

“I am not that sure. It should be more than just that. Love was a beautiful experience.”

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Clichés of Conceit

One can not get any more conceited if every line of a post starts with “I”. I would have loved to deprecate my worth one more time and then feel all smug about it. But I guess we need to be selfish some most of the times. Or else we won’t be ourselves. So let us celebrate vanity for once and be content with it. Everything else should take the proverbial back seat.

Oh by the way, this tag came from El. I wonder who that might be.

I am a conceited pompous ass. I am always thinking about myself.
I think continuously. It’s almost on the lines of an ailment. I am thinking of seeing a shrink about this.
I know this post is already getting tedious. But don’t blame me. Needed to do it.
I want nothing more than a bed and looooong dream sequence. Did I tell you I never dream? Well now you know.
I have a lot of smelly clothes in my room that I need to wash asap. The stench is getting overbearing man.
I wish someone would come and wash them for me. I am as lazy as He makes them.
I hate arrogance. Even when it comes from me.
I miss mangoes. As of now.
I smell like a sweating pig. Seriously. Ha ha.
I crave something I can not divulge.
I search for contentment. This is the first of the clichés.
I wonder why you still haven’t given up reading this.
I love the way she smiles. Who? Well, I am not telling.
I care about my family. But they don’t know that.
I ache for Samtse, Bhutan.
I am not as depressing as I might seem.
I believe God made women because he found man was imperfection personified.
I dance like a madcap. You step on my tail and watch me fly off the hook.
I sing in the bathroom. Sometimes when I shit. Most of the times when I am alone.
I cry rarely. Though it’s an activity one should indulge in more often.
I don’t always like these tag thingies. They are boring half the time.
I write loads of stuff. Some good. Most mundane. Rest hogwash.
I win when I am the only one playing.
I lose when there is someone else too.
I always end up confused.
I listen to what gets my gun.
I can usually be found in my room, fussing over the most trivial things. God. This was the mother of all clichés.
I am happy about this tag ending.
I imagine her. All the time.

I tag Chandni and Abhinav. Listen both of you. Feel free to ignore this tag. I know tags are a pain.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Everybody Loves a Loser

Ritwick tottered on the edge of indecision. Quite literally. The parapet was dangerously low for his height. The dormant mortar, four floors below, seemed frighteningly distant. It glistened in the summer heat like some Neolithic monster, ready to ambush him. The sun was beating its hammer on the anvil with a hitherto unknown fury. A welcome breeze had already begun to breathe its last, accentuating the apprehension in air. Months of tormenting heat had by now parched the leaves. The grass had shriveled up and turned yellow. Even the squirrels had taken refuge somewhere.

Ritwick smiled. The feeling was almost electric. Wiping his brow, he took a swig of whiskey from the improvised hip flask. The vile tasting liquid numbed his hyper active senses, bringing less important matters into focus. Fast-forward.

He realized he had been waiting for the two juniors to finish their cigarettes. He could see them sharing the joint, thinking they had already faded into oblivion, notice the smoke curling into various shapes, each distinct like the snowflakes, and then melt away. But none of this today. Ritwick shook himself out of the reverie to utter just two words. “Bloody addicts”. They had been going on, like forever, and beginning to get on his nerves now. Just when he had begun to make a move towards them, they puffed their last rings and scuttled down the stairs, not forgetting to glance sideways like terrified terriers, lest the warden catch them in the act. Ritwick smiled again, even if unwillingly. Everything was going against plans. That was surely a good sign.

The subject had received enough attention. Hadn’t it? Yes. The eddy of thoughts had made its presence known a few days ago. The pros and cones had been analyzed with clinical precision and their mortal remains dissected with a certain surgical finesse. It was nothing new. The same old monsters had reared their dormant heads. They had made him think. Again. They had made him repent. Again. Even the skeletons in his closet had jeered at him, as if they already knew what was bound to happen. He wanted to disappoint them, more than anything else. But he feared he lacked the guts and the feeling made him sick. So he took another swig to calm his demons. It seemed to be working. The voices were distant now, feeble and weak, already giving up on him. The cacophony of uncertainty had faded to give way to a morbid symphony. He relished it with a satisfaction that was almost diabolic. Peace.

It was now time to reach a decision. Should he or shouldn’t he? What was he thinking? Nonsense. This time it was not the solution that had seemed abstruse. It had dawned on him in a moment of inspiration, quite suddenly, yet failing to take him by surprise. It was its implementation. Would they react? How and why? He smiled again. He had decided he wouldn’t think about it.

Last night, she had been exceptionally beautiful and remarkable. Just like a freshly cut nail. Wispy clouds had tried to hide her from view as he lay on the grass, ruminating on his decisions. But they had only managed to accentuate his love for her. Her light was pure and virginal. She had appeared out of hiding after several days and Ritwick basked in the satisfaction of her presence. He called out to her and poured his heart out. Surprisingly, he felt light and better. He stayed back longer than usual, taking it in. He went back and slept soundly for the first time in many months.

Morning was cheerful and full of promises. For everyone. Ritwick had a promise to keep too. He smiled. The lunch he bought that afternoon ended up being left untouched. Flies had taken to the orange juice with delectable delight. Ditto for the squirrels, who had gorged on the dry chapattis. Chakram and Shlok were nonplussed. Ritwick was not one to miss his meals. On being grilled about his non existent love affairs, he had left the mess in a huff. They won’t understand. Never. Hence the terrace. Ah! Now you see.

The smell of nicotine lingered in the air. Ritwick waited for it to clear. He wanted this to be perfect in every way. The sweat made his shirt cling to his body. As he stood there, he thought about last night and pondered whether he should reconsider. But he smiled again. There would be time for contemplation. More then asked for. And more than desired. No more cogitating over a spent force.

And then, in one final act of defiance, he stepped over the parapet. As the peeling paint on the walls flew past his eyes for one last time, Ritwick sighed with eventuality. He could feel the wind pass through him, as if he were already a shadow, no more a part of the substance. He didn’t see his life flash past him. None of the montage of images and faces he had thought about just a few seconds before. He had never expected the stories to be true anyway. So he accepted this as one of the umpteen compromises in his life. All that he could think about in his final moments was the impending thud – terrifying and absolute. As the black mortar threatened to engulf him whole, Ritwick felt himself floating, leaving his body. He could see himself fall but he knew he won’t feel it. When it did happen, Ritwick smiled one last time. This would not be the end. He realized with a satisfaction that was, this time, innocent. I guess we know better.

For all I know, he would get up. Again. Entertain us in some other world. For doesn’t everyone love a loser? For doesn’t everyone like a clown? Falling over himself. Getting up again, only to falter again. Just like the starry eyed junta on the sidelines. They see their reflection in his eyes, finding acceptance not from the crowd but from the tiny little voice within. Failure, someone said, finds approval more readily than success. Maybe they loved Ritwick for being just like them. For floundering in the ocean and then finally giving up. For giving up when he should have tried. For blaming himself for faltering. For being too much like them for his own good. I guess it must be so. Don’t worry. He’ll be back. In some other life.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Let's Fly Tonight

The clock's running down
The team's losing ground
To the opposing defense
The young quarterback
Waits for the snap
When suddenly it all starts to make sense

He's got all kinds of time
He's got all kinds of time
All kinds of time
He's got all kinds of time
All kinds of time

He takes a step back
He's under attack
But he knows that no one can touch him now
He seems so at ease
A strange inner peace
Is all that he's feeling somehow

He looks to the left
He looks to the right
And there in a golden ray of light
Is his open man
Just as he planned
The whole world is his tonight

- All Kinds of Time, Fountains of Wayne

Sometimes, just sometimes, one feels like letting go of everything. Oh yes, the feeling lasts only a moment. And it should. It must. But tonight, I feel like floating. Flying. Let’s. Yes? We will.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Faces on My Wall

Last night, while shifting in an uneasy slumber,
I saw them all. I saw those faces on my wall.
They winked and smiled, stunned in wonder,
For I had surprised them, and invited them all.

I drew them on my wall, canvas of fickle whims.
Each of their expressions – sadness, disquiet,
Laughter, agony – I imagined hard and painted.
New feelings surfaced; appeased emotional riot.

Each scorn, and all the love, it breathed anew;
One by one I saw them live again on my wall.
Wanton hair flew amuck, so did nascent smiles,
Sunshine skipped around; I was there to see it all.

For so long I had ignored them in my vanity;
But they were there for me, at my beck and call.
One wistful pleading, or a fall from humility
Was all it needed to bring my faces to my wall.

They pondered why I was being so generous;
But little did they know about my dirty secret.
My fears had instigated this party so frivolous;
Fears so dark that even in my sleep I had fret.

But this time I have vowed not to let them go.
(And even in my dreams I promised them so)
For what’s a canvas with just blankness to show?
I hope the feeling lasts just long enough to grow.