just another silly love song

I miss your voice in the still mornings.

There was a melancholy entwined with our arms and my dry lipstick rubbed off on your discoloured white cardigan.
I miss the way the weak gold of the morning shimmered through the slit in the curtains in the wisps of sandal incense.

Your voice sits in the thick green of the curtain cloth, and as you whispered I kept my eyes on the way nothing could breach it.

I cannot remember what your face looked like.
I remember you from the spots in the house, where the afternoon made the table a sullen brown, and how our feet shuffled noisily in the terrace. We needed jackets and soft blankets with our coffee mugs as we watched the sun slowly rise in the dampness.

I miss the comfort that came in the cold midnight.

There was a blue fog that never went, and I miss it as I miss your bleached hair and freckled skin, the curve of your eyes which my fingers know by heart.

(We made love in front of the gods as if we could and didn’t care for what they thought, they couldn’t be heard as we walked, background noise muffled and muted. Only the green of palm and vines on the buildings seemed alive, and shyly the yellow rose around the block in a happy film.)

We never had a car, but I remember the both of us sat in one. You were singing your heart out and your eyes were pressed when you hit the high note. We went nowhere but wherever you sang us to, the windows hazed and the blue paint silvered. Your hand was in mine but I felt nothing.

(I felt an ecstacy and a joy but even today all of it feels like you were a ghost, and I am holding onto wisps of nothing.)

I miss the old peach and white bed-cover we used to have, and how your mother hated it.

 

 

We were sad, but we were happy enough to put up with it, and now in this loneliness in the summer with all the sun for our skin to soak, you are not here, only the cold.

 

This summer is insipid.

 

You never left- you faded away as winter turned to spring and the mornings grew so bright it blinded me and I could not see you any further. You faded as the sun came and only the stars can speak of what we were.

 

 

The synthesizer hums behind us, somewhere in the calendar when we first met. You’re gone but the keys still play at the small of my back, a place that is still safe.
I miss December, but I know now that every December  will be our December with every new calendar I buy.

So for you I write love songs, but my voice breaks and the words die in the wetness on my cheeks-

 

 

I decide to pause the recording because it is half past midnight and this grief for tonight has been appeased enough.

(Tonight the moon will rise again.)

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Cardboard boxes

My grandfather calls for dinner. My grandmother says he will get none, its only eight-
“Its eight o clock!”
“You have done nothing today, you slept the whole afternoon through and now you want to eat?”
“Well! Now do you see how your grandmother treats me?”

An Indonesian batik painting emerges from behind the worn sofa my mother and I move to the living room. It’s the third one in the house, caked in dust, its thin protective film of plastic torn.
“What will we do with all of these?”
It is a question for my grandmother to ask and for us to give no answer to.
My father has the answer, but he’s not in the country for the next week, so there is only silence today.

There is little my father does not share with his friends, and into this small box of the untold goes another truth.
So, he lies into the phone and says that he’s here in Kolkata on holiday, and yes, the family is here too. No, he’ll be back in Bangalore next week, sure Venky, they can meet up then.
He hides much from us and is who he really is with them, so when they aren’t told it cannot feel like this decision is a good one.

(They are people who excel in their fields, so secrets from them like this cannot be good, but we cannot suggest it.)

We set up new house with our old things, and with every new house I see these things are unfamiliar to me altogether.

It hasn’t been a month, but I already  associate a different anxiety to the roads that lead ‘home’. This time, it is shame. The city lights are beacons that tell me there is no time left, and that the box of truths is too full, its metal lid can’t sit without pressing down on it.

My grandfather helps himself to a second sweet after dinner, and after telling him off, my grandmother lets him. I think this is how it should be, not the constant quiet that lingers over food between my own parents.

(it is as it should be)

 

The flowers in my grandmother’s balcony bloom, and she can’t contain herself. She limps into the room and reverentially places the three small flowers before the framed pictures of her blue god.

 

 

 

 

I look at them and hate it.

green

The lady had green hair threaded with black and droop down eyes that said, ‘if you do something you don’t want to for the rest of your life it becomes a shoe bite that eats away at you forever.’
She’s tall with collarbones that branch into shoulders which hug my mother.
‘Earning money? Your parents must love what they do to have been doing it everyday for all these years, and theyre very luck for it.’
She has green hair and a flight to florence the tomorrow evening.
We pull out the museum guide books.

‘Dont take all of them down, she doesn’t need to see all of them’
No, behind our nameplates and chipped plaster walls, I don’t think my parents are lucky. Not when father is yelling at arsenal half the world away because its the only thing that really matters and not when  mother yells over dal and rice that she never wanted to be one, that this is all a mistake.
She’s sat on the grey sofa with a glass of our apple juice in her hands, flicking through medieval Italian art and a hidden hurt in her voice.
Father won’t be home till midnight and mother is alseep, so maybe this is the time to breathe.
Shes gone, but not really. My head hurts from the memory of her in this house, and there’s the threat of bringing dinner back up at the thought of her coming back.
Is she right or a lucky delusional, is my mother true or not, does father really know what he’s doing as we pack the house and mark the boxes and ourselves with fragile warnings again.

I can’t see anything through this mask in which my face grows hot and my head pounds, the sound of my breathing and gasping roaring loud against cardboard.
Shes the green the hair I wish I had and the downward turn at the end of my eyes, but I am too scared to take off these shoes so I shall walk with the bite.

Of stars.

Its January and you can’t believe it yet.

If we are born under the stars, then some stars have died and the moon shines too bright trying to crack open the concrete of the night at 9.

You walk with stars girdled around your waist and eternity crowning your temples, and from my seat in the third row I can only clap you in and clap you out again. The ink I was meant to scribble down the astronomical equations of my future with slips through my fingers and leaves a trail on the runway behind the clicking of your heels.

The masked glass is splattered with the stardust of the first monsoon showers. Humidity builds up in the metal bus with rattling loose parts on the way back home. The sculptor’s urban hut of blue plastic and brick on the highway is close to collapsing, straw and jute left unmoved at the feet of a clay woman, hands raised in position.
“Food?”
“Raagi dosa, you want?”
“S’okay.”
This world was made from simple words and I shall sip the drink of the gods.

Its too sunny to be this cold, but there is no warmth that come from the orange afternoon in the yard. Its getting harder to feel great again and easier to sleep. I really don’t know where this is going.

You can’t make me smile anymore and I stopped being enough. Don’t know when that happened.
“Wassup?”
“I don’t know, you tell me. Water?”
The gods are dead.

I’m afraid I’ll never go beyond the numbers in score cards and words on a blog, that you’ll forever be the face of a younger lover shackled to yellow buses and green sweaters in the winter and crying in pale light.

 

But the cherry trees have blossomed early and cherry perfume smells of nothing but desperation in cold weather. Lavender comes with the new year and a dead man’s things to call your own.

Winter

via Daily Prompt: Moody

There’s something horribly melancholy about your face. You’re meant to be painted in pastel shades in dull light and framed in wide screens of rolled film, stacked in shoe boxes in the attic for ‘later use’.
You’d know that doesn’t really make sense but hell, you’re not real and I’m not as great as I think I am. For now it’s okay that you’re only the ghost of contentment and the temptation of comfort that seeps like a mist through what the reality is, scattered on my desk.
You’re forever pulling me with an arm around my waist, away from the real world while I desperately cling to the table, knuckles bruised from rubbing against the wood for too long. Sometimes, you win and the chair falls back with a snap, and I resign myself for wherever you take me. I lose hours. When I’m back, the sharp stabs of an insatiable want for just a little bit more of you constantly nags at me and pulls my hair until I’ve done enough to buy me another day.

There should be a passionate goddamn it in there somewhere, I think.

It’s a bit silly that I write of winter hurting me when cities are burning, so I’ll stop here.

 

 

 

 

I may never be great, but I want to be good.

Alamgir

The sun was low in the sky when we pulled up outside the mosque. The shops lining the square hung the everyday needs of domestic India from its hooks and shelves. Heavy-eyed goats moved through the thinning crowds, the village young boys running after them. The sound of evening gossip filled the air as we trespassed the ordinary lives of these men and women in rural Maharashtra.

“Ha, ha, andar ja sakte hai, ladki!”

Ellora caves had left my mother and sister tired from a day in the heat, so my father and I ventured forth into mosque. The lazy breeze in the large courtyard reassured me, my anxiety of breaking unspoken rules quietening down with the sound of the local village elderlies guffawing under a tree, enjoying the last few minutes of daylight. We were pointed to a metal-and-paper banner, hanging precariously from two smaller minarets.

“That’s what you’re looking for!”

We entered the smaller courtyard, shepherded gently into the white marble enclosure on our right. The three simple white screens of marble, carved with the ‘jali’ work of the Deccan barely accommodated the twelve of us, shoulders pressed against each other and backs stuck to the stone. Before us, was a mound, covered with a white cloth and held down by make-shift paper weights of discarded marble. There were a few flowers, withered, and a cluster of a cluster of twigs, bound by thread at the head of the mound.

‘The tomb of the mogul emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir’

That is all four hundred years has left of a man who ruled an empire at its epoch. It is all that has been spared by the mutiny against every thirty-one million seconds of each of those four hundred years. Mere skin and fingers of his body mean nothing without the cities he built, without his name dotted in books and on signboards pointing to streets in a world that didn’t care to wait.

The mahgrib moans from speakers.

In a mosque tucked away in an unnamed town, lost in the ridges of the Sahyadris, maybe he knew that there’s an inevitability we fight while the rotting of our bones reduces us to the sparsity of this his dying wish for anonymity. The cawing of crows and endless violet dusk in the sky above are the only witnesses of our feet walking the earth.

We climbed back into the car and drove out, Pune waiting beyond the hills.

Ghat Section

Soft flute is enough to distract you from the comfort if steel under white light. Enough, for now.
When the tabla’s thumping settles into constant rhythm, that soft flute is the blanket of clouds over the Ghats. It is the endless panel of red earth that is left from when the winding roads were stretched and plastered forcefully on the face of the hills, gagging mouths and flattening nose tips.
Soon, the violet grows as the sun vanishes behind you, the car moving inland. You try to reach Pune before it gets too dark. You have yet to see the last of the ridges clump into piles of boulders and then lay its wide arms to the endless rough plateau of the Deccan.

But for now, you are the child of the hills and of the sea, trapped in constant agitation. You are forged from its turbulence and find home in any land its anarchy lies.