February 25, 2004

Sleep

At night in bed I patiently wait for the arrival of sleep, like a husband awaits his tired and weary housewife. And when she arrives finally, after having taken care of everyone else, we make love in an ordinary and matter-of-factly way. It has of late become an unavoidable necessity. It is more like an agreement or a treaty signed in alcohol's ink, which evaporates in a flash.

It takes more than a while to understand and accept that is more important to know how things are, than how they came to be. Life starts all over again then, sort of an unpleasant, uneventful and dreamless sleep. One that leaves you unchanged from the perspective of freshness, a string of continuous and predictable monotony, running towards and away from death at the same time.

A sharp tamarind-like taste oozes from the corners of my mouth, like muffled words of protest that wants to emerge out of my firmly closed mouth. The room is now illuminated only by the television that paints its own confused pantomime on the walls. It is the customary precursor to the long-awaited arrival as more images flash by. Few more minutes and she would be here. I cross my fingers.

Like a distant oasis, a new resolve emerges. I have already started to feel like a recently moulted snake. Only bits of the old skin remain now. Sans substance, it looks uncomfortably hollow. Dead, translucent tissue. I am not unhappy anymore, but I am not happy either. At the most it can be called relief, relative and temporary. Like the movie name goes, I guess, this is as good as it gets.

It is late now, I must slide into her arms before the alcohol wears off, into the cacophony inside my head. Morning is just a few hours away and it will soon be at my doorstep, with its bag full of recycled purpose, targets, tangents and destinations. High time I made my escape and as if on cue there she comes.

February 20, 2004

Memory

The greatest burden that persistence places on you is the not-so-welcome virtue of impatience. Since the endgame is already known, all you want to do get the rites of passage out of the way as soon as possible and move on towards the next world. Only if it were that easy. The lords of emotions, sentiments and memories rule their lands with an iron hand which no one can escape. It is only after one pays the required homage in the currency of tears, seemingly unending darkness and wasted time, the soul is unburdened and set free.

Beyond which the same landscape rises again, under the glare of a new day's sun, like a patient emerging out a deep coma. There is so much to be learnt, so many places to go and so many things to look back at, all without the customary bitterness that used to haunt these same alleyways. Life often feels like a screw's worn thread, you never know how much longer it will hold. A turn and another and it all lets go. Back to square one again, turn and same result. And one day it holds. Finally, we have reached the end of the lords' kingdom. Freedom.

It is not as much about vindication as it is about lending a hand to hold on to, when it is needed the most, even if it goes against every single thing you ever stood for. It is not as much about spelling things out as it is about reading correctly the bouts of silence. It is not as much about counting the moments of your presence as it is about counting the moments of your absence. In the end, it is not as much about remembering the times that you disliked about someone as it is about remembering the times you liked. It is all so simple, yet so very difficult.

February 17, 2004

Nainital

And we went driving on Friday, in near-zero visibility and over ledges that could barely be described as roads, towards a quaint old town that grew up from the shores of a lake. The higher we climbed, the colder the wind became and it gradually blew away the foliage of misery that has come to litter the grounds of life. For once, I felt no need to sweep it off, this was going to be a short-lived pleasure. The leaves could wait.

With a flourish of romantic keystrokes I could have called the town, I saw at four in the morning, surreal. But it was not, it was just a town that was about to wake up. We started walking towards the center, while the others drove on ahead trying to find a place to stay. The lake, reaching far out on our left, did not take any notice. It has seen so many city slickers in its time and continued on its slumber, caressed every now and then by the moon lazily glistening over another tiny wave or two.

After couple of hours of sleep in a room that looked like a drawing straight out of a kindergarten sketchbook we were out again. A town that still had its shutters down, for a cause we cared little about, greeted us with its trademark lethargy. The sun was shining down in full force now and another dimension was added to the enduring confusion in my life. I definitely liked the place, but I did not like it enough to stay there for good, this was just another temporary destination, another rock the river would touch. The ocean, this was not.

We eventually found our sustenance, in an even tinier town, 12 kilometers from where we were. The main road twisted and turned through the collection of houses and shops in a boa-like manner. And onwards we went from there, with no definite plans or destinations, making decisions on the fly and then we stopped at what was the best part of the journey - a tea nursery.

It was nestled in a valley with huge hills in the distance, on a terrain that was deliciously up and down. The calm was something to be experienced. Every now and then the wind would pick up, gently howling its way through the trees like a Mexican wave and fade away, only to unexpectedly start again from another part. We were served cups of tea made from the finest leaves, it had the colour of the setting sun and tasted like honey.

I told my boss that, come Monday, he could hire someone new. I was not going anywhere from there.

Later, we spent a lot of time lazing around in an island in the middle of a huge lake, ate some horribly cooked and greasy Chinese food and made our way back to the quaint town. Over boiled eggs, heady rum and an assortment of food, that I cannot recollect much about, we bitched and cursed about every possible thing we could dig up.

It was so much like being back in college, it was so much fun and it so had to end, come Sunday morning.

The drive back was not fun, at least most parts of it was not. Places that we drove through at breakneck speeds on late Friday night were now packed with people and we were crawling through most tiny towns. The only saving grace was the highways that were flanked by lush green wheat fields on either side. I wanted that part to never end.

But it did end, at eight in the night, when I got back to my tiny home and the musty, smelly routine called life.

Even as short as it was, the trip was a great thing. It has been thirteen months since I had headed out of town and this was a very welcome break. The past few months have not been good and the worst is not over yet. There is so much work to be done, a few loose ends need tying up before I can move on.

This little journey is only a reflection of another journey that has come to an end. My work here is over; I have paid my dues; the mansion of memories need to be locked up and the keys given to time?s keeper.

To where, when and why are questions that will only answer itself in the time that is to come.

For now, I am a slave only to momentum.

February 09, 2004

Intergalactic

I thought I would write the obligatory 'winter-turns-to-summer-and-there-is-plenty-of-sweat-to-go-around' post, but I did not. There is no particular reason I have to give for sparing the world and its mongrels from another incredibly repetitive metaphorical onslaught. I just did not feel like it, like how very married people approach sex after being umm.. very married for a long time. So what do I write about?

I could start with how Potatoface is once again the target of my inscrutable snubbing, move on to the finer details of another 'unproductive-yet-productive-sounding' conversation with Pintsize and end with how dreary and dull the day has been and yes, the smell of sweat of course, how can anyone ignore it when it constantly rises up the nostrils in an endless stream?

Obviously, nobody actually notices any of this, precisely because nobody ever did. Add zero to zero, subtract zero from zero, it is only zero in the end. The benefit of being classified as a "weird one" is that I can laugh out loud for no reason, hop like a marsupial down the hallway and talk to myself, without anyone giving it a second glance. Normalcy? Perish the thought!

But we are digressing from a totally pointless and inane post here. Earth calling Mars, Earth calling Mars, Come back, come back. What do you think? Mars has nothing to do in life? Mars will not come back, Earth might as well go to hell. Earth going to hell? That should be something. Will Earth actually fit in hell? Imagine. Sorry Mr. Earth, we can't let you in, you are, apparently, very oversize. Hell regrets the inconvenience.

Forget Mars, we must go on, regardless. Fight them on the beaches (I should point out here that the nearest ocean is at least a thousand kilometres away, but what the heck) and fight them in the pubs (this one is more likely). And when the time finally comes, we will sneak out of town like bank robbers, move out with our cargo of worries and leave them all dumbfounded. Now, how in the world did they manage that?

For now, that will have to wait. Excuse me miss, we are too busy digging trenches, you are either with us or against us. Bomber or the bombed, which one do you pick? Psst.. hint.. hint.. bomber.. bomber.. No, it was not me! It was him, the man in the long black coat who was doing the prompting! Pat, pat, we are too smart for them. Them don't see the obvious, we always see what them can't see. Agreed, not to good effect all the time.

The clock, though, is ticking and ticking fast (evil grin). The date has been set, these moments are your last. Summers will go away and winters will be back. A few more days and I won't cut you anymore slack. We'll rip off all the pages and start a new chapter; colour it with smiles and there will be no more vile laughter. And thus it ends, all set to a marching band. Was it not fun, was it not fun?

Now, why do you look at me like that?

February 02, 2004

Experiment

"So, you've known it all this while?" She asked in a surprised tone.

"Yes, I have. You thought I did not?" I replied.

"Yeah," came the 'damn-what-do-I-say-now' response.

It is a graphic description of how much you can talk about an issue, one which everyone pretends to be unaware of, and still not talk about it at all.

Did it smart? Yes and no. No to the degree and yes to the sensation. It is something like getting bruised. Each subsequent trip to the doctor, after the first, is always a degree lesser in intensity in the suffering it causes. But I am doing rather well, taking the blows in my stride and moving on, philosophising, rationalising and commenting here in a 'yes-baby-I-know-it-all' manner, in the hope that the frequent non-seperation from the subject matter would degrade with time and with some luck, erase itself from my memory.

Then there are excuses. And then there are reasons and arguments. Like two old friends at a common acquaintances's memorial service, we would recount past instances, tally the notes, cry a lot, laugh a bit and agree that it was a good chap and it was a good time. Then we would go back to our respective lives, to brood, to rejoice, to bring up kids, buy a house, buy a car, pay back loans and tell ourselves facts that have been written before, a million times, about time and its merciless progress and then move on to yet another compartment of our worldly worries.

It is in this background that I find myself more and more attracted to the status of being incommunicado. The words here only express a minute portion of the 'broken-record' feeling. Change a few faces, a name or two and the story remains the same. I can't ignore for much longer the cries of the salesman within me, loudly advertising the latest exchange offer to get rid of the old and get something new. But I do not want anything new, I just want to keep quiet, not say anything at all and demonstrate to myself how life goes on regardless.

But the thing I want to least look at is my sense of judgement and value. It has already had a very checkered history and to be very honest, is becoming quite a liability. A liability that I cannot quite get rid of. But what do I replace it with? To live without feeling is an oxymoron and quite a stupid concept. After all, it is a matter of proportion, there must be a right one for me too. A concept not very unlike the existence of life elsewhere in the universe. We do not quite know where it is, but we sure do hope and spend a mammoth amount of energy and time on it, while ordinary life here pass us by, unnoticed.