I hope I cleared any doubts about this being a post about Valentine’s Day. I’m trying really hard not to look down upon the celebrations as best I can. I’ve not sent cheeky messages to friends who’ve changed their display pictures into pouting selfies; I’ve not bitten off the heads of the few who came to talk to me about Valentine’s nor did I reply bitterly to anyone who thought it would be a good idea to wish me. So, I’ve behaved pretty well, now, haven’t I? Moving on.
For those of you who don’t know how seriously I take Instagram – I should warn you that the way I fall in love with certain posts that introduce me to a whole new Universe almost every week – can seem quite weird to you. Of the three hundred odd people whose accounts I’ve subscribed to, there are a few that have added pages to my life by giving me tiny bursts of inspiration. It could be the quotes they share or a certain picture they took while travelling – a work in progress – a memory – portraits of people – views I’d never have seen if I hadn’t followed them – experiences that inspire me to go the extra mile. I know this is a generic list but one must find pleasure within their means.
Dayanita Singh is one such person. Photography as art. Subtlety and originality. A curator of memories she is. Her posts capture the essence of her travels and encounters with people and places. Sometimes they speak of the art that she’s making and sometimes about the musician on a bus. Through her I met my love : Vikram Seth.
I had bought A Suitable Boy with great interest in a book fair from one of those second-hand stores – it was one of the early-prints of the book – its white jacked tattered and pages yellowing. My Mother wondered how I’d ever get to finishing the book – it being thicker than her arm – as she paid for it. It’s stayed on my shelf ever since because I believe that every book has its time and I never force myself to read – anything. That was my first encounter with Seth and now suddenly, after two months I see him again on Singh’s post – its a quote, I thought, before realizing its in verse.
I smiled at you because I thought that you
Were someone else; you smiled back; and there grew
Between two strangers in a library
Something that seems like love; but you loved me
(If that’s the word) because you thought that I
Was other than I was. And by and by
We found we’d been mistaken all the while
From that first glance, that first mistaken smile.
And that’s it. I dropped what I was doing and began searching for where I could get more of this. Like a cat lapping up milk. I tracked the book down and then a larger collection of poems until I had almost five of his poetry books in my hands within a weak. And I devoured it – in silent passion. I did’t note verses down or speak about it to anyone because I wanted it all for myself. I’d sit hour after hour in my sanctuary – reading about love, about places afar, sculpture, anguish, resignation, sleep, kinship – and a myriad of other things. I like how simple Seth is. The images that form in my head as I read line after line – are clear and resonate with feelings of my own. I didn’t stop at poetry – I wanted to hear the voice that spoke in his head. And once I found his voice – speaking to me about his impulsiveness and his process of making anything – art or novella – I fell. You can almost here a certain tone of self-importance but at the same time he flashes a humble smile and his fragile hands move in the air painting something from his mind that he’s trying very hard for us to understand.
I am yet to read A Suitable Boy, Two Lives and An Equal Music (All of which I’ve bought and kept in my shelf for the right time) but when I do read them I will write about it because something tells me I will love it. Also, I hope I read these books before he releases A Suitable Girl (whenever that is).
Deserving affection is
now a thing of the past.
What ties we make,
for long, don’t last.
Its not because we cannot
Love to our heart’s content.
Its not that I’ve reached
an exhaustion in feeling.
Its the prejudice and pride
the malice in our mind.
Its the worry of a future
That is incomprehensible.
Its the voices of the people
whom you’ve been allowing
to have a say or at least have an
opinion, in your life.
Its the suffocation of distance.
The pangs of jealousy
The fading of the novelty
that alas, never lasts.
Its the stories of the past
of crisis and betrayal
that keep you from
taking the leap of trust.
I don’t blame myself
for feeling the need for
unstrapping Myself from Us
because it was holding me back.
I knew I couldn’t give back
what I’d taken from you:
the reassurance, the trust and
the implicit love (that I never trusted)
For I know, if both the ends
of the bridges don’t meet
then the two of us
are headed for a fall.
I never stop hoping
for a zesty romance
but it doesn’t have to be a
person, necessarily, it can
be a Passion or a Chance.
You’re lost amidst echoes.
Blood’s pumping into your head.
Crickets sound like people calling out.
Someone’s clapping from afar.
Its dark, your thoughts are falling in place.
The broken signals are harmonizing.
You were running away from something.
Work, love, hate, separation, reality, responsibility?
Your eyes got fixated upon the sunset.
And your mind was far away
Thinking of the evenings you spent
colouring books and eating with your face.
Days when you weren’t actually smiling
for the camera but were just smiling.
Days when you made up stories
about the smallest of incidents.
Days when love came naturally.
And people lifted you up with joy.
And you stole extra pieces of cake
and hid under tables, giggling.
And somewhere you got lost.
You stopped telling stars stories.
You forgot about imaginary friends.
You don’t feel excited when the sun’s up.
You don’t paint your face green.
Yo don’t make paper boats
and set them afloat in drains.
Or write notes to your parents.
These memories turned into music
Your footsteps became beats
and suddenly you’re living your past
in your head, like a movie and laughing.
You lost your way
while you found yourself.
Would you still write poems
when the walls come crashing down
and walk beside me on the sidewalk
in the numbing, cold rains.
Someone who keeps me up
with words that make a difference
and goes on silent, long-drawn
bookshop dates and nostalgia trips.
Someone who scribbles in my
sketchbook his wiry handiwork
just to annoy the hell out of me
and then take me to poetry-slams.
Someone I can ponder with
about all the mysteries in our mind
Someone who says things
without worrying about time.
Someone I can talk art with
And not worry what he thinks
about my opinion and
Has one of his Own.
I see images of you in many,
but I settle down for none.
Because you’re somewhere out there,
looking for the one.
Roll down the window
Let your face out
Feel the wind gush.
Smell the burning
Watch the flames
Gravitating you closer.
Bottle up urges
Press the pedal
Away from it.
Away from what
You cannot Contain.
It will Burn you
And you want it.
Now its an image
on the rear-view mirror
but you can smell
your heart singe.
Puzzle pieces that fit but separated by a box.
While one’s stuck inside the walls.
The other waits outside (im)patiently
waiting for the One to jump out.
But these walls have a magic
of their own with nostalgic charms
that keep the One within its hold,
a false sense of safety.
Hell-bent to stay safe,
the One is missing out on its Other
because it takes a lot
to break out of the past.
They talk, they laugh, they plan
outings in the near future.
The Other still hopes the box
lets the One out, soon, someday.
Hope is a player of sly tricks.
Keeps two of a kind
hoping in different directions
while they’re headed in the same.
Such is life for these
Two pieces of one
puzzle, misplaced in time.
A fruit and its Jam.
In a world where streets
are extensions of homes
and windows are merely
punched into walls;
Where wealth is a meal
and warmth to share
and health is escaping
dengue and death, itself;
Where they burn old planks
to boil cheap broken-rice grains
and their entire lifetime
fits in a carton box;
Where marriages are fixed not
by love or tradition
but by the needs of the
owners of livelihoods;
Where kids play in
the sand that their
parents build houses with,
in unpalatable haste;
And school is an abstract
idea of keeping kids busy;
Where streets are front yards
and backyards and entertainment.
And tiny boxes are living rooms;
Where dreams are seen, love is made
and so is food and violence between
short spells of sweaty sleep;
Where people bathe upon the drains
because pipes are too expensive
and kids are washed away in drains
when the rains are excessive;
Where money is made on daily wages
and the threat of displacement and
poverty wakes them from their
light slumber: a predicament;
Such is the land where I see
children filling coins in plastic jars
Dreaming of owning cycles
pedaling them to Schools
Where women laugh despite
the scars they hide.
And men buy kids scrap
toys and things to play with
despite their bones
sticking out through their hide.
Each hut here is the same
Single rooms and leaky-roofs.
But everyone has a story.
A beginning and an end.
The last of them,
Packed in a tiny box with
holes to breathe.
Is our heart packed in a life,too,then?
We need to breathe
Make holes to break
Inhibitions that strangle us.
Beliefs that enslave us.
Norms that tie us to a stone.
We need to breathe, to love, to live, to die
knowing that our heart didn’t beat for nothing.
We tend to overload the word love with a million expectations and price tags. Thats when it loses its magic.
Be it family, friends or a single person…never bind your affections with conditions, expecting reciprocation. Because no two souls are similar, nor are their experiences and responses. And that’s why they don’t see things the way you do. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of your love. Everybody is worthy of oodles of love and care.
With time and mutual experiences, our patterns begin to fuse together and overlap…and thus we synchronise into something beautiful. No discrepancies occur then. While we wait to reach that point of fluidity in a relationship or friendship, we should be patient and unconditional.
Be free. Let your loved ones feel free. True love always comes back to you. Words, experiences and memories are always anchors that bring the most lost soul back home. Your affection is the north star for your significant other. Never lose hope on someone you think you can’t forget with the tides of time.