homecoming

There are things more important than a silly sadness that comes at night. Things more real than this.
Men cut through mountains and men move them. My aunt drives on the roads in Sikkim and my uncle here next to me says the mountains are soft and its cliffs will give way.

Men and Woman are real, so they talk at dawn how they will change the world.

My feet walks but I am not here.

I try weakly to collect these scrambled thoughts and memories, but I find nothing but the cold sun rising. I remind myself I am in Bangalore, that Sikkim is someplace else.

This once, we travel south.

The hills will fall, he says. The hills will fall when the seismic plates shift and no man can stop the earth from raining.

The dust spells out a language, but I do not understand it.
So none of us speak.

It is too quiet here.

The cold sun makes for cold walls at six-thirty, when you can only hear the rustling of the avocado tree and father’s footsteps drawing a picture for what he will be today.

The rain from last night comes from the metal tap and makes a loud splatter in the sink. The iron pipes are rusting and the ceiling is high. The houses here are old in Cook Town, the trees are even older and only the first of the many have started to die.
We don’t know how it will fall so my uncle parks the car further down the road.

There’s a red cut on my palm from two days after that. Only the jutting stone slabs on Davis road saw me fall, so I turn it into a party joke –
“ and I heard the perplexed auto driver gasp as I went down-”

Only Davis road saw me fall in the rain before I could panic.

I see the cut on my palm and red skin at the Investiture Ceremony, hidden to all who do not want to see, and think it is better than having cried. The small gash hurts and numbs too much with pain to want more, so I forgive myself for not pressing it. No leader with the badge I wear cries in these streets.

(No leader forgets the two streets he was to cross. No leader forgets the right turn onto Hutchins road. No leader forgets where he was. No leader forgets he was ever walking.

 

 

 

 

 

But they don’t need to know that I did.

 

In the wetness I could see everything-)

Did you see the sky at dawn?

Did you see the sky at dawn?

It was painted a dusty maroon and yellow at the horizon, and the palm and eucalyptus trees were silhouetted inky black like in the Mughal miniatures on your room’s walls. I never believed that an evening could be so surreal, forever born and trapped in paintings from five hundred years ago.  Then again, I never believed in many things being real, like the pain in your throat, which I thought only existed in fanfics on AO3 with a lengthy trigger warning plastered all over it. You should have seen it, the way the lake shimmered saffron and blue in the dying moments of the day and the awakening of the mosque’s lights next to it. The drums from a temple behind the building, on the 8th floor landing of which I was stood, broke the stillness of the night. There have been no winds and no clouds in the sky, except the gradients of grey rising from above the trees like that Japanese painting of waves on Tumblr. Yah, that one. Oh, and the cresent moon was perfectly aligned, a little below Venus, gleaming white together in a water-washed background.

That’s when I realised it was real, because such a sight would have had to have been real for the Sultans and Mughals to paint so exquisitely. That’s also when I realised how pathetically real it was, the way you were being swallowed into the depths of your own hell. Suddenly, words written by someone half way across the world were the same as in the text messages you send me every evening. I can’t read those stories anymore, not without my stomach curling at the thought of yours eating away at the rest of you. It takes so much not to scream and want to shake you back into normalcy because its killing you and I cannot do anything but watch.
I cant watch.
I’m in the car on my way back, listening to the first programme on the government classical music station,  a Tyagarajada-kruti again. The town centre is bustling below the many textile stores, sarees draped over mannequins caged in glass,  sarees which would look sublime on you regardless of whether you can feel your hip bones or your 53 kgs, but I know its not about your weight or frame, its about something else, something more putrid and like ash – something I can’t fix as easily as I turn away from the shops’ blinking lights and clothes of silk. I’m not sure how to end, but I know you are one of the watercolour wonders of the world, and more precious than the dusk today.

Rain

We were sat among the upturned flower pots while it rained. Your smile widened and a lightness spread in your cheekbones, the tip of your nose dipped. Our clothes stuck to our skin in the sticky humidity and the grime of the earth seeped between our toes, but my sobs were lost in the chattering of my teeth in the cold sinking to my bones and to the thumping of the monsoons on the tarpaulin bus stop, under which the school children laughed.
My hair curled and my face was wet with salt brought not from the skies opening up on us in our castle of dirty red pots painted dirty grey. Its a small blessing that you never saw the puffiness in my eyes in the rain because it would have cost too much of the brightness in yours, even though I know they were empty cradles of withered plants while you retched for the sixth time yesterday and when the ghosts of foods you never ate came knocking later at night.
An ache spread through me when I realised you never told me you were in hospital with life being pumped into your veins among the syllables spelling stories of microbiologists and physicists fighting over the last masal dosa at 3:00am in the Institute. I only found out when you told me later with frank enthusiasm in your voice in my concern for somebody else. Yes, my head swirled with the waves that washed away your self preservation, because I should have been at the shore, pulling of my clothes like in ‘Third Star’ to keep you afloat. I want to cry but I can’t because crying is a sacred act I’ve reserved for when you need to in the middle of a row about your freedom to breathe with your demons. Every word I spend on me is one less that is spent keeping you here in this reality, so I will never say a word of when I think I’m stumbling because I know you’ve been dowsed in liquid nitrogen and splintered into nothingness when your head takes over and you need the words I’ve saved to help you pick yourself up.
The rain stops and I kiss you farewell with only a hug and run off before the red grows in my eyes. You go home to the masquerade you dance and I go back to my peace and quiet, keeping my phone next to me for when you text later.

Coin Toss

Then
You weren’t fully aware of how you said it.
But you did.
And it scares you.
You can’t control it. You can’t do anything when you feel a rotting in your stomach, the strange feeling in your limbs. You really can’t help it. So you ask anyone you can, ask them that same question- “Was it bad?”
Over and over and over.
Twelve. Thirteen. Fourteen.
All the same.
“Ooh….yeah, it was rude, but- it’s the truth!”
Again and again.
For fuck’s sake! It’s like they’ve all been told what to say -all of them- the exact same thing.
The desperation and fervor propells you forward, the momentum doesn’t stop.
Fifteen. Sixteen. Seventeen.
“Rude, but-it’s the truth!”
“Rude, but-it’s the truth!”
SHUT UP. SHUT UP. SHUT THE FUCK UP!
It’s on loop. The stupid question and the stupid answer.
It’s all stupid.
Eighteen is when you stop.
“Rude? It comes naturally to you.”
Stupid question. Different answer.
“You made the teachers the guilty party, he made it the students.”
That’s when the momentum stops. That’s when you feel the rotting and strangeness come together.
You lock the door.
You come out.
You’re empty.
Rude?ItcomesnaturallytoyouRude?ItcomesnaturallytoyouRude?Itcomesnaturallytoyou
You eat your dinner.
Rude?Itcomesnaturallytoyou
“You have health and strength.””And we’ll steal the rest?”
“It was the truth!”
Rude?Itcomesnaturallytoyou
You eat your dinner.
You’ve made your decision.

Now
No, you’ve not.
“You have health and strength.””And we’ll steal the rest?”
“You have health and strength.””And we’ll steal the rest?”
“You have health and strength.””And we’ll steal the rest?”
Stop.
Now, you have made a decision.
.
.
What if.
You flip the coin.

Later
I can’t write the line.
It…..doesn’t really matter, but I can’t write the line anyways.
I could have, if I had flipped the coin with my left hand and not my right.(It would have taken forever.)
But in that moment, you were the safest you had felt in a long time.

Heads.
Oh, thank god.

You can’t write the line.
You can’t pretend you weren’t a coward.
You’re sure you can’t see yourself as what you want to be. You’re not the person you want to be.
Rude?It comes naturally to you.
You don’t know what you are.
You will never know what you are.

 

Tails.

Okay, then.