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).
Since November – time’s just swished passed by me. One day I was excited about moving to Pune and the next day – I was to continue here in Chennai. You dream things, sew them in a fabric with minute details leaving space for the things to come. And sometimes you don’t get to complete it, just yet. So you fold it and keep it in a trunk for another time, perhaps and pick up a new piece. Its been some time since then and many good-bad-crazy things have happened.
I’ve begun reading again, writing bits of poetry, sketching in odd corners of journals, walking to places I’ve never had time to give a second look, stalking beautiful buildings with gardens and things like that – things I’d lost touch with. And sometimes that messes your head up. I went back to college for the viva and got to get back to the good times with the girls. Its interesting how we change – within a couple of months. Some looked different but were the same; some looked the same but were a changed person. Towards some I felt the same warmth and towards some – I just began to see them in a new light. I spent an entire week in Bengaluru – soaking up the winter sun, binge-watching horror movies with my cousins, riding under the night sky with the winter breeze blowing against us and making plans that never quite materialized. And just when I thought I was having a great week-off, things happened that I can’t quite elaborate upon. Things like these really show you who you are and where you stand. Unnerve you. Tear you enough for you to breakdown behind trees and sit on steps before thresholds wondering what to do next now that you don’t want to go inside. It passed. I understood things and learned that I needed to accept some realities.
The most beautiful things happened, too. I’ve begun reading like I used to before but the books are different. Galadriel’s chants have been replaced by Abeer Hoque’s poetry, dragon-riders no more reside on my shelves – there are letters of love exchanged by an artist and a poet sitting atop Jane Austen’s finest. More Indian authors than fantasy-fiction. More depth, more tears, more black and white photos of things of the past, more feeling, more originality, more questioning, more understanding, little vanity, more secrets than messages and well, more insight. A lot more and yet, a lot less.
(I’m listening to Whitney’s No Woman and have discovered these new bands called Oh Wonder ; Hibou; Foxes in Fiction and Low, as I write. Yes, that’s a lot of distraction, I know but its music, come on.)
I’ve made correspondence with some delightful people. Friends from my childhood, friends from college who I never got a chance to know better and a friend with a mind so beautiful that I want to pique it tirelessly. Their stories, my stories, our stories and everything else around us have kept me pleasantly busy. I’ve come to realize that there are really people who love things I love and see them in a way that tells stories that others can’t hear. People who see the way I do, even deeper, I believe. How I’d wish to get lost with them and go to the places we only talk about. Collecting antiques, savoring moments spent walking by beautiful street- scapes, gazing at old-houses endlessly – just being. Its wonderful to hear similar stories from a mind that’s different from everyone else and yet so familiar. When you think a little differently from others around you it so happens that you either feel a tad bit lost or try to be someone who mixes with the crowd. Either ways, you’re missing out on being yourself. But when you meet someone whom you could tell what you think knowing they’d understand – you’re liberated in a way. You’re being yourself. Alas, time makes sure I don’t pester that mind too much.
Of course, I’ve been narcissistic here. My city suffered deep blows this entire past month. From standing in queues, penniless, to being blow away by a cyclone and losing a gem of a Leader. All said and done, the city is beginning to frown upon Decembers because of all the ghastly surprises it brings with it year after year. But then the clock never stops and we still stand in queues and stock up on candles and instant-noodles at the slightest spotting of dark clouds. We move as does the year.
Hopefully, in my next post I’ll share with you some poetry I’ve under-lined (I used a pencil so don’t frown at me) in my new books and a more interesting read. Christmas looks promising and so does New Year (Family-friends are throwing a bash at their place – a home I love because its got certain spaces that I can’t stop talking about). And there is the Birthday on the first Saturday of the year (is that somehow supposed to make it more cheerful? Or is this just a sly reminder to all you, readers?)
Hope you’re all doing well, so far. Give 2016 a chance – there’s still a week left. Great things can happen, yeah? Happy Holidays!
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.
You meet someone for the first time.
Filled with words that you think to be wisdom.
You hear with utmost curiosity.
You make notes and click mind-images.
You’re bubbling with excitement
waiting to froth all over the place
with appreciation (and flattery?)
but you’re sitting cross-legged.
Weeks turn into months.
And by now all your friends and neighbours
know of the person’s glory.
It tops Sunday-night-dinner-discussion.
As all pumped up things fizzle out
so did your bottle of coca-cola.
And now its nothing but flat sweetness.
The novelty wore off.
Now the person is just someone
who used to make a lot of sense.
And now you don’t even care
to attend gyaan-sessions.
You’re just working by yourself.
A warm bottle of flat coke.
Wondering where your judgement
drove off the hair-pin bend.
Masters you’ll meet many
But who eventually quenches your
intellectual and artistic thirst
is who’ll keep your fizz alive.
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.
Times change and people,too
Heard not a more clichéd truth.
But some things don’t,
The ones etched deep down .
When things don’t work out
You bury them hopes and feelings
Deep inside your soul
Them feelings make you whole.
Since the day you walked
Into that door in a faded grey
And she told me you’ve lived
Upto everything they say…
Since I first met you in
Through our minds, matching,
I don’t know if its was real
Or a child of my imagination
But it meant the world to me
To be that friend that
Walked by your side
And rode behind your back.
You will always be the Hero
I look upto, that man.
Even if I try to erase you
My dreams do bring you back.
It’s been almost half a decade
And I see you less than
A hundredth of before,
And I’ve simmered down too.
But one waft of your presence
Will loosen a barrage of
Broken thoughts and stitch them
To a lifetime of joy.
I miss the man I once
Pestered as a silly kid, for him.
I still ask him before I do
Great things like I will.
You’ll always be my Hero
Wherever life takes us.
You will always be the
One I’ll smile for even if I’m crying.