When I Left… 

When I left home, I

Left poetry in your hands

I left words for you

To grapple with, and

Inhale back in with

Regrets

I left you with summersaults and

Rosemary leaves picked and 

Dried, I left right there

On the table, the family recipe 

That always brought love back 

To your kitchen, did I

Also leave, I guess I did

A pack of cigarettes hidden

In your not so hidden spots

I think I left you contented,

Fulfilled to what I

Could offer you of myself

But when I left home,

I left you 

With a little less of me

And a lot less of you

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The Physics of Writing

Sometimes we write just to fill the empty spaces. It is the paranoia that we respond to, not the urge. When we see empty spaces, emptied perhaps, by farewell of what once existed, we write in remembrance. Or maybe, in remorse. The space now emptied isn’t the same as before. It is a telling of a story that has transpired here, leaving behind some sense of its existence. The things that occupy these spaces distills the silence. They come up, probably, only to unsettle the peace of nothingness. And hence we write. Or maybe, thereto.
We write because we know we can’t have a complete erasure of these existential relics. We write either to sediment the past to a point where it begins to metamorphose into something else or to make that past lose its meaning. As much as it fails almost every time to undo what has been done, I confide my writing to the latter. I know everything has to be seen from a long run perspective but wouldn’t it be easier if I just make my short runs a lot more livable and continue to do so to the point where my long run just cease to exist. A life led in short runs and all what is left for long run is death. Or maybe, afterlife.

So, we write to fill in the spaces demanded by our very own short runs. We know we’re running, literally leaping over momentary realisations just to keep that happiness intact, we know we can’t be scared so we write. We write to fill the burrows of questions left unanswered by the lightness that we ignorantly choose to afford. The lightness that costs burdens of oblivion.

Talking about empty spaces I think the ‘area’ or ‘property’ that excites me the most is the one that remains unexplored somewhere within our bodies. Artists who turn to acting to write about their fulfilling activities, I’ve noticed that playing a nude scene creates that ‘opportunity’ for writers (actors) to fill the emptiness that there bodies felt while not fully committing itself to the job they were destined to pursue. In that particular moment, the writer (actor) provides a narrative to the body that enables her to eliminate the voids that physical inhibitions like body shaming might have created that potentially clogged the writer from discovering the aesthetics of its own body (now body of work). 

Extending the same line of thought, another reason why we write is to cover spaces that part us from our unrealised ‘darkness’. I’m referring to a particular state as ‘darkness’ partially due to the common parlance in the pop culture but significantly due to the lack of recognition or ‘light’ that is casted upon it. So much so that most of the elements of our own being are unconsciously kept aloof from our so called ‘informed choice’. As a writer, it is often exciting to travel distances on a psychedelic trip. And personally, the trip that often unconsciously drives us to take that long psychological road is the journey that spaced out in our own elements. The miles that remain untravelled between the known or the “brighter” side and the unexplored ‘darker’ side. 

Now that we know why we write, it won’t hurt much to say that we’re mostly wrong. If we were correct, or the matter that we respond to was devoid of any flaw, what would have motioned us to take an effort to write? If laws of motion in Newtonian physics are anything to go by, we are not simply ‘writing’. We are responding. We are addressing the miles and directions of emptiness that provide us with a force to move. No matter if it is forward or backward. 

As It Happened on Radio


When the clock strikes 9, RJ Anmol mans up the microphone of 107.2 MHz which is not so famously known as Radio Nasha. After a day of grueling legal manoeuvring at my boss’s chamber, I had finally boarded that late night metro to home that is always decorated with tired homecoming lullabies being reflected in  their beholders’ eyes. Irked by the mechanics of a routine life, I decided to give preference to radio over my iPod playlist for this not so long but weary journey. And as far as perks of this choice are concerned, I was quite satisfied by the welcoming melodies of Dhal Gaya Din. 

Well, the soothing voice of Lata Mangeshkar was not the only thing that touched my heart that night. More profoundly, it was the request made by a man with a thick voice – Tahir.
RJ Anmol has a special late night segment where he randomly calls one of his listeners and tries to fulfill their one request. On the auspicious night of Eid, one of the lucky listeners for this segment turned out to be Tahir. “Eid Mubarak bhaijaan” said Anmol while familiarising himself with the man on the other end of the line. “Aapko bhi bohot bohot Mubarak” replied a spontaneously charged up voice. After explaining the theme of the segment Anmol asked Tahir for his one request to which the middle aged man replied – 

“Bhaijaan, meri bas ek hee khwaish hai. Meri ek paanch saal ki beti hai jiski awaaz sunne ko main taras gaya hu. Agar aap mujhe uski awaaz sunwa do, Allah talah ki kasam, main do saal tak koi khwaish nazdeek nahi rakhunga”. 

(Brother, I have a daughter for whose voice I have yearned for years. If you could make me talk to her, I swear by God, I won’t ask for anything else for next two years) 
Startled by this request Anmol asked the man about the reason for this request. As he’s usually met with requests for old love songs or funny confessions, the thinning of his voice evidenced the fact that this is probably the first time that this cheered up quirky RJ is taken into a sentimental ride on his own show. Talking further about his request, Tahir mentioned that 3 years ago he was separated from his wife Reshma who also managed to get the custody of their only daughter. Since then, Reshma has put an embargo on Tahir’s any communication with his daughter. Despite understanding the extreme difficulty of fulfilling this request, Anmol promised Tahir that he’ll try his best to fulfill the request while the mystic music of azaan provided for an unexpected yet contextualised divine interruption. 
After taking Reshma’s number, I was again introduced to some music.  As Asha Bhonsle’s Aao Na Gale Lagalo Na transpired me to a much needed groovy state, a part of my mind was stuck on what would happen to Tahir’s request. After a couple of interluding songs, the time finally came when Anmol called up Reshma. 
Anmol: Hello Reshma ji, Eid Mubarak

Reshma: (in a joyous voice) Eid Mubarak, aap kaun? (Who’s this)

Anmol: Ji main Anmol bol raha hu Radio Nasha se, meri ek choti see request hai. (Ma’am, I’m Anmol. I have a small favour to ask for)

Reshma: haan boliye (yes..) 

Anmol: Mere ek show hai jisme main sabki ek request poori karta hu. Ek request mere paas Tahir jee ki hai jo apni beti se baat karna chahte hai. ( I run a show where I fulfill people’s requests. One of those requests is from Tahir who wants to talk to his daughter)

Reshma: (suddenly the tone becomes distantly and anguished) ji ye nahi ho sakta aur hume is baare main koi baat nahi karni hai ( Listen, this can’t happen and I don’t want to talk about it) 

As Reshma was about to put the phone down…

Anmol: Bhabi Bhabi suniye.. (Ma’am please listen…)

Reshma: Hume koi baat nahi karni ( I don’t want to talk)

Anmol: Bhabi aaj Eid hai. Humare khatir nahi toh Allah ke khatir hee kisi ko uski khushi ada kar de. (Ma’am, it’s Eid today. If not for us, at least for Allah’s sake, please agree to offer a man his deepest happiness by fulfilling his innate desire)
After seconds of awkward silence and building tensions, the pause finally breaks with Reshma’s voice.
Reshma: Aarzoo idhar aao.. (Aarzoo come here..)
As the line was held for Aarzoo, not only Tahir but I guess every listener must have waited in sheer anticipation to witness what might unravel in just minutes time. 
“Hello..” said Aarzoo sounding clueless about the nature of the conversation she was about to indulge into. 
After that hello, what happened for next 30 seconds warmed my heart to its every vein. As emotions swelled in Tahir’s throat, his voice became thin and his tone gentler. In a brief period of conversation where he could only share greetings ended with his daughter saying, “Abbu, aap aajao mujhse milne” (dad, won’t you come to meet me?). Sensing the baritone of the exchanging tones, Reshma abruptly intervened by saying ‘that’s enough’ and disconnected the call. 
After the abrupt disconnection of the call an awkward silence followed which was for Anmol to break. As he began to ask Tahir about his feelings, a voice from the other end, that has undergone a multiple variations in tone throughout this outplay adorned satisfying gratitude. “I don’t know how to thank you” he said. “What has happened to me today, I’m not sure whether I deserve it or not, I would never cease to be thankful for it.” 

As the last word had been spoken, last tear, shed, Anmol went back to his chair and I was again treated with some serenading melodies. This time, Geeta Dutt.

Why I Talk To Trees

I was always told to refrain from eyeing an eagle. There is something unwavering yet so unclear about this memory that it becomes hard to fathom whether it was the given dictum or the one manufactured by self in someone else’s disguise. Flying eagles and the collection of similar memories have always engendered a distance, or some form of an emotional halt, in the continuing processes of my conscience. As I began to read some of Susan Sontag’s works on visuality and memory, I realised some theorisation on memory can be a plausible scope to pierce through some of these peculiarly constructed memories. However, instead of making it a theoretical importation of Sontag’s elemental study, I have endeavoured to strip my experiences bare naked for you to find a parallel, or probably, a template or catena to some long awaited answers.

We remember our memories, perhaps, are represented to ourselves in shades and charades that are beyond the spacio-socio-temporal existence of our being. I have usually remembered scenes from my village, which is a humbled hamlet from a poorly developed State of Bihar, as stories intertwined with conundrums of an urban nuclear family. I remember running as a half naked child but it’s hard to picture any matter around enabling that run. Not even the ground upon which that run must have been occasioned. As I run aimlessly and in unknown directions, I can feel the joy that is reflected by the smile on my face that immodestly conceals one of my mischiefs. 
Memories are usually broken pieces of a large boulder, scattered maybe, by waves of time. The reweaving of the tapestry is usually a task we never indulge ourselves into. So, when memories come to me as scattered scenes from what seems to be a larger and much more complex production, I get lost in the meanings each piece carries within itself. Instead of holding on to the fundamentals and piercing through this mystery, I get submerged into the layers of unseen charm of these scattered pieces of memory that behold a queer attraction in their own right. I think I remember one hidden staircase I always used to take while coming back from the general store but I just can’t remember what preceded or followed that choice. 

It has never been easy for me to tell other people that I used to talk to trees. The reason that I see behind keeping to myself what might otherwise look like a frivolous juvenile fancy is probably the reality I attach to it. It was not one of those weird childhood habits that I was moulded into by lack of material knowledge. My conversations with trees have been a matter of great revelation for me and probably that’s why I had never trivialised my talks and the memories that they bring in the overtly  denaturing adult conversations. As I’ll talk more about these conversations and other shades of memory in my subsequent posts on the similar theme, it’s important for me to explain that memories are not mere floating relics of the past. They evidence the ongoing process of one’s experimentation with truth.

The “In Betweens” of Life

So, how do we start sentences when there’s no one left for us to hurt, no one, left for us to please? Maybe, talking about mornings is a good start. After spending good couple of weeks in sinking deep into quilts and reading vintage spy novels ( more of non fictional accounts of a condemned PoW), I was yet again pushed by life to stand somewhere in the middle of the queueing up crowd of Delhi metro. 

It’s so unveiling of capitalism to put such diverse stories that move all over the metro premises into contexts that suit its definitive convenience. So much so, that a broken heart would rather roll with the corporate rush rather than rolling in the deep. 

Standing on escalators as they transport me on and off the concourse, I wonder how would I just end up staring at one place for so long.  How could I zone out to the most insignificant of spaces knowing that I’m still dwelling in a world where I’m in the process of fulfilling a practice. But I do. And I do it to the railway track across the concourse I’m standing on, or sometimes, to the long black handle of the escalators. 
Off the station and on the roads. It’s sad that even though you change your spaces you can’t seem to escape the contextualised rush. Well, not always. I tend to get hit by random shreds of unexpected happiness quite often. While on my way to work, riding on a rickshaw, I met an orange butterfly circling me for good. A few seconds of  beauty that has become so rare in the city life was enough to touch me deep within and force a smile somewhere from the inside that I knew would not be tapped upon anytime soon. 

So, I guess the trick to start a sentence without involving others in it is to make yourself the other you always want to have these moments with. There won’t be any quantifiable analysis of the magnitude of happiness you gain from seeing a butterfly but I’m sure that it’ll be your very own. Since it doesn’t subject itself on someone else, nobody would ever take that away from you.