Saturday, August 25, 2007

LUCKY


“Hi.”

Unable to understand her friendly banter in what sounded gibberish to me, I started with a ‘hi’. Unaware of the prejudices that reside in me, I felt scared of this beautiful girl. She was an Arab, wearing a customary black niqab. Her face was fair and as pretty as every other Arabian girl.

But, unlike any other girl, she spoke carelessly, unperturbed by the lack of a common language of communication. Her frantic gestures and twisted alien words continued, heavily interspersed with her giggles. It finally dawned on me that she was genuinely friendly and Arab men will not reprimand me for responding in my own peculiar gibberish.

India,” I said, making sense of her mother’s broken English and familiar Persian terms.

Dehli, Bombay, Madras,” came the reply.

“Yea, Dehli,” I smiled at what was now being termed a cultural breakthrough in my head.

Kashmir.

I wasn’t expecting that and I immediately put up my guard again, uncertain of what was coming next.

“Husband?” interrupted the girl who did not want her mother to steal the spotlight.

I tried to control my laughter but gave in. “No husband”.

“Ohhhh!”

She did not respond with her infectious giggle and the disappointment on her face made me wish I had a husband.

The dusky skyline had turned deep purple and the ocean dark green. She started waving her hands and continued talking in Arabic, while I looked at her mother for assistance.

“Beautiful, beautiful, Masha-allah, good,” said the mother.

The laughter on the deserted beach returned.

Shukran,” I said, suddenly remembering the one word I had picked up on the trips to the supermarket.

The girl held up her palm and folded down three fingers. My confused expression made her laugh again and I noticed the kohl under her eyes. She then sketched invisible symbols on her left palm with her index finger.

“Two-zero,” she said and started laughing again.

By now, I was honestly perplexed by her sense of humour, but once again found myself beaming at her.

“Twenty-one,” I said. Her mother added another, “beautiful”.

The girl lifted her niqab till her waist showing the pink pajamas below with blue triangular patterns, and walked into the water. She sat down and pulled up the pajamas, exposing her knees, and skin untouched by the harsh sun.

I felt she will melt away with the waves, and I will probably find her floating over the ocean like golden butter. I was wondering why these poetic notions were swirling around when the flow of her Arabic words resumed. Lifting her arms and impersonating a swimmer’s action she managed to ask me.

“Swim?”

I laughed in reply. She seemed relieved as the possibility of her going in the ocean like her younger brothers in the distance was quite slim. A little boy was wading towards us with a plastic glass in his hand, screaming excitedly. He ran to the mother to show off his catch –- a crab.

“Commerce, college, bank,” says the girl and points at herself with a proud grin.

“Your name?” I asked.

“Sarah.”

It was dark when I returned from my walk to the spot where Sarah was still sitting at the edge of the waves, letting an occasional bunch of sea weed tickle her toes. I wanted to tell her to be careful. She might melt like butter and gleam at noon, when sunlight splits the ocean in tiny crevices and ridges made of gold. This time my thoughts did not surprise me.

I was in love with her happiness.

I wanted to sit among the tiny waves, dig my toes deep in the sand, sing a song that was mine, and wait to laugh with complete strangers.

But, I was walking towards the pavement with my feet now sinking in the dry sand.

She yelled.

“Bye.”

I screamed back, “bye”.

Friday, August 24, 2007

FREE THE MEMORIES OF ME


Now I am free
You always were
Free of you
Now you are

It wasn’t in her nature to spend hours sleeping in a bookshop. But, when she woke up and picked up a brown book, there was an immense urge to never read another word again. It was a travel catalogue and she quickly flipped open a page she had never read or seen before, but knew where to find. Deve.

A lost little town surrounded by an unknown range of green mountains. Hundreds of grey stone steps leading up a mountain to the citadel above, washed with the smiles of little children, walking any which way.

She drew the book closer to her face, fingers scanning the mass of faces, stopping on the face of a five year old. She knew him as soon as the sinking feeling began to draw her away and the tearing inside her chest worsened. She wished she had known him as a five year old boy, but she did. She had known him. Unexplained familiarity scared her more than the dream she was in.

Tears began to trickle down her cheeks. She was watching him run up the stone steps. Her memory betrayed her as she had died soon after, only to wake up and meet him nineteen years later.

He is the man he had the promise to be, and she, the young beautiful lover he had craved for.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

TURN AROUND


How I hate this airport lounge. Not because I am bored. Not because I have four, free wifi connections to choose from. Not because I don’t have some of the best in contemporary fiction to read. Not because I am sort of embarrassed for having laughed out loud watching Spidey Pig.

The airport. A transit between where I am from and where I don’t want to go, reminds me of where I want to be. Every gate. Every announcement. Every smile. Reminds of the lounge being my last resort. My last escape to be there. I am so close to being where he is. I have dreamed of the day I will step out of the airport lounge. Where he is.

But I dare not. I fly towards him, but not far enough. I will probably fly over him, but not to him. I will never walk through the one airport lounge that waits for me. It’s too late. Much too late. I am free of him. But not free of the dream.

My feet slip into the black flip flops. My vest clings me at the right places. I am casual yet ecstatic. I run into him. I can’t hug him. He hugs me so tight. I lose my breath. I lose my heart beat. I collapse. I can feel something wet on his cheeks. It’s us. Oblivious to the past and the future.

And I sit here munching my last chocolate bar, listening to every announcement, hoping the next flight will go to him. Someday, it will take me to him.

I am inventing stories about the Japanese lady wearing blue wedges and the Arab girls who should be in school instead of raiding Mac. The juggler is doing his act. Every minute he drops the blue, red balls. He keeps juggling for me. We both wait. The act never ends.

I wait and stare at the yellow lights, grey panels and filtered sunlight.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

little girl ; little story

A small round shadow was always glued to the cream wood. The silver door knob could be a dead clock, if someone stood all day watching the shadow circle around the knob. They made such things -- stairs, wells, towers, rocks to tell time when the clock was not around. But, did they keep time? Or wait for the shadow to change into an egg to put their children in bed. But, maybe they did not have beds also.

When daddy had first taken me for a walk among the pineapples on the grassy slope, I knew this was the most beautiful home anyone ever lived in. Maybe I am too young to really know if other homes are more beautiful, but yes I remember his hands holding me firmly as I floated over trickling streams of water reaching the roots of giant Dahlias. I am again much too young to be sure if I like the Dahlias but daddy really loves the Dahlias, and I am only one, and Dahlias are so many, and I am also only in one colour.

So I never go to the flower show and stay with
Luxmi who steals butter and gives me a few pieces and I keep my mouth shut. Maybe Luxmi needs all the butter or her big blouse won't fit and she will have to make smaller blouses which she won't and James will drop his food on the floor again and again, and watch her clean it.

The first time I saw the door was with Luxmi. It was not the flower show but fever. My bed was as hot as me so it made me sweat too much and Luxmi refused to give me a bath. So I made her take me to the kitchen garden where corn grew. Funny, now they make me eat baby corn when I got scolded so much for plucking one last year and wasting corn. I wanted to play a game with the rose bushes. Pluck one petal from each shrub without scratching my finger or mom will scold Luxmi and put Dettol and I will scream and daddy will scream because my screaming will be louder than the news. Luxmi would then put the petals in a bowl of water where I could watch a few petals sink in slowly.

Maybe petals also have luck because some of them would not sink. Maybe the sunken petals were sad and the floating petals laughed at their own good luck, but then the next morning the sunken petals will stay pink and fresh while the floating petals will have brown ends. Still the brown petals tasted better than pink petals because they were crispy now. Maybe the brown petals died and the drowned petals were alive and laughing. But I really don't know. Just like I don't know what was behind the door with the silver knob below the stairs. There were no rooms and all the stilts were painted blue. But the door was not blue and the room was just alone. Maybe there were other rooms but maybe just like I loved running around the stilts, daddy did too and so he plucked away the rooms.

I would have asked him about the other rooms if only he did not get so angry about the one room that is still there.

When Luxmi is busy cleaning and James is sleeping under the water tank and daddy is in office where he was just made the head, I go and stare at the door, wishing I could touch it. But, I know I am smart enough to know that the door won't open if I did touch the knob. Mom had come from behind, very quietly even though her shoes always made a loud tip-top noise like my tip-top shoes I got for birthday, and grabbed my shoulders and took me to my room. She also wanted to kill Luxmi, which made me very sad because Luxmi could not put my rose petals in the bowl that evening.

I was crying when mom told me never to go near the door and I swore on my tip-top shoes, and mommy also, to never go to the door. But, maybe like rose petals, promises also die when mommies die. I don't know so I don't touch the door or the knob but when daddy is not there and Luxmi is cleaning and James is sleeping under the water tank, I go see the door.

Friday, August 10, 2007

POET INSPIRED


I saw her eyes shine
with mystery so divine
she said she has to go
beyond the misty shore

I saw her vapor smell
reminds me of her hell
she said she has to cry
in memory of a mine

I saw her cruel smile
haunting for a life
she said she was her
my black doppelganger

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

STORIES OF LONGING, SUFFERING AND A SKULL FILLED WITH CIGARETTE ASH

Do you remember that time?

Yes, I remember that time.

Ahhh, wish I could walk back.

To? That time?

Yeah, to that time.

What do you remember?

I thought you remember too.

I remember the throbbing.

Throbbing?

Yes.

Noway! it was an aching.

They are same. Throbbing, I say.

You could try a thesaurus. It was an ache.

They are much too heavy.

Do you remember the time?

When?

Then.

What time?

But you said you remember!

You are such an insufferable ass.

It's a donkey.

Quit talking!

I am thinking. Do you think this is telepathy?

You are an ass.

I read in a book. I wish I could say arse like they do.

I can feel the throbbing.

Why do they call the bird robin?

Who is they?

Yeah, who says it's arse and robin.

And aching.

Yeah, why not throbbing?

If they were the Beatles then they will tell a story about Beatles.

You mean the insect?

No the story. They always have a story.

But a robin cannot.

Yes the bird cannot.

The bird cannot have a story?

No. Tell a story.

So who are they?

I don't know. My head aches now.

Aha, I told you it's an ache.

What were you aching for?

I wish I remembered.

I don't remember.

But, you do, don't you?


I remember the throbbing.

Oh yes, but you just said it was an ache.

I did?

I need a smoke. Really.

I wish I did not.

Why? I ache for one.

I can't.

I need one right now.

But the ash.

I don't want the ash.

It will colour me black.

I want the smoke, not the black ash.

It's actually gray.

I want to see the red cherry travel closer to me.

It's not red.

It's not?

It's amber.

Really.

They say so.

But they say cherries are red.

On trees?

Yeah, on trees.

Tall trees?

Cherry could be a shrub.

Stop now. Let me hear the pain.

You don't hear the pain.

You feel the pain. I can hear the scream.

Scream is not pain.

It's painful.

What is?

You are.

Where is the cigarette?

It's not here.

I wish I could find one.

It's now gray ash.

In the skull?

In the skull.

I am aching for a smoke.

The ash in the skull fills me and my temples throb.

Your head aches.

YES.

What?

IT ACHES!

I wish I could remember the time I ached.

It aches.

(Longing and suffering feed off each other while the skull overflows with gray ash)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

RED PUMPS

No need to undress. I am not going to pay you for something you won't do.

Then why am I here love?

To talk to me of course!

Right.

Haven't you heard of men who just want to talk?

Yea... they talk real dirty.

Oh... well you should watch more movies. Filled with men talking.

You know I am not a bartender, but as long as you... hey wait you better not be some ex-convict with no cash!

So you have been watching the box office.

I will take a chance on you.

For what?

For being a bartender and not your bitch.

Ok, I will take a shower now.

I thought you wanted to talk.

I shower before I sleep.

But... Ok whatever.

She sits on the couch and flips through the channels. Al Pacino is lying in bed with a girl in black suede, holding on to her like a two year old boy.

Hey... you were right. This movie has a guy... Did you watch this?

She curls up on the couch and watches Michelle Pfeiffer intently.

Hey... do you know which movie this is? You should watch it.

She wonders how waitresses with wrinkles make enough money to not be whores.

Ok, this movie is dead boring.

She goes over to the bed and grabs his deep blue jacket. She finds his wallet in the right pocket and quickly stuffs two, hundred dollar bills in her red bag.

Its definitely your first time love. Next time, go to a bartender and buy booze, not women.

She leaves the hotel room and runs down the fire exit. She hails a cab and quickly gets in. She wonders if he really just wanted to... nah he was taking a shower. The old fag would have definitely asked for anal. She gets off a little distance from a brown apartment block. Her red pumps shine brightly under the yellow street light. She smiles at the glamour of cherry red.

Eight-fifty miss.

She takes out a hundred dollar bill and notices red scribblings.

I didn't want to die alone. Thanks.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

LIFE -- THINK THAT YOU KNOW


Sometimes when I hear that familiar song
that voice quivering for a fraction of a moment
I imagine I can hear my story
the smiles arrive unannounced
and a hug becomes a far cry from unwanted
close your eyes
take a deep breath
now take me in your arms
the violin starts to play
the beat fades out
a drop turns into a puddle
I can hear our story
yes it was us
that trickle from the cloud was us
don't say no
just be fair
just once