On love and loss

Different things at different times provoke different degrees of an emotion from me. But never at any point do they mean nothing at all. 
If I loved you once, I will love for all time. 

Like the angles sunlight falls at, it’s intensity varing noticeably every hour. I am the day that hopes to last forever. The relentless afternoon unfortunately, the 6 o’clock evening softness, the dawn. I am also the illusion of dusk falling, because I am only human. But you know, the sun still shines behind the mountains. Would you call that unfortunate?

Phases of the Moon

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There are refreshments other than tea that Indians enjoy. Thank goodness for that because Rao needed a change. His tea stall was sold, the removables packed up and the customers left unsettled and a little lethargic. Although he was grey and old, his tastes kept him from feeling his age. They dictated his way of life, kept him working hard even at 64 and took him on a cycle to the beaches of Calicut, selling ice-cream.

 

The sound of the cycle’s bell beckoned everyone whiling away their time to stop and have an ice-cream. Or two.
Every afternoon just before lunch when Kozhikode was most crowded, Rao would ride its sands, ruining good appetites. Despite the sun’s peak the beach was filled with people. What people do for pleasure and how they vacation are not for us to question. Rao certainly didn’t, he was happy that it all fell in line for him.

 

Aadhira was on vacation too, spending more time at the beach than with her grandmother whose house overlooked it. Typically nine years old, she was indistinguishable from any other. After cooling herself in the water and when the findings in the sand lost its novelty for the day, she would wait for Rao at the spot she knew he’d stop. She’d have two ice-creams despite being given money sufficient for just one. The second one was free. You see, summer vacations last long enough to build friendships and set routines. Rao loved watching her, as he approached, patiently waiting. Even from a far distance he could see her smiling. It was another reason he made a shift to ice-cream – the faces that need tea are much different from those that want ice-cream. That and the conversations – discussions over tea include such unsubstantial assessing of life. And Rao had been exposed to enough.

 

She was the first and last customer of his afternoon shift. While he worked, Aadhira would sit on the sand just in front of the cycle looking out at the infinite stretch of water eating ice-creams. The beach was hers, as we feel is every place with a view. He would join her later when everyone finally retreated for shade, and they would speak. About just the beach. And although they knew nothing about the other’s life, they knew each other. Aadhira understood Rao in the way a nine year old would. This is how he enjoyed her company, and she his. There’s a certain type of acceptance that only a child can give. It’s because they accept themselves first.

 

He handed her her second ice-cream and sat two feet away from her.

“It’s so bright but I can’t see the sun only,” she arched her back and looked up far behind to find it.

“It burst,” he replied nonchalantly. She immediately looked at him suspicious of a lie. He avoided her eyes afraid of giving in to them. But they persisted, and conquered him.

The sound of the waves drowned their giggles.

 

The days of Aadhira’s vacation rolled by and soon, away.
It was a new week, Rao cycled to an empty spot. He wondered. Seemingly, she had vanished, like a new moon. Illiterate and ignorant in such matters, it didn’t strike him to think about her schooling in another city, he had simply assumed she shifted or some other such alternative, or she was just late. And she didn’t think a goodbye would be required – he would be there next summer. Things are quite inconsequential at nine and sixty-five; at one you’re oblivious, at the other you’re lenient with life.

 

He kept an eye out for her through his day. Patrons came and went but none of them were regulars. He even waited beyond his usual hours, not with the hope that she might turn up but with the fear that she will. He went over his thoughts of asking around about Aadhira’s absence, but decided against it. Even if he wanted to, he couldn’t, because while their conversations included the spotting of birds and the intruding crabs and the chipped shells, they were too shy to enquire about names.
But had they, he would later come to realise how apt hers is.

 

***

 

Picture Credits: Nitish Singh

 

Yours


Since Your breath kindled my fingers to move

As it does everyday

I have come not far, not an inch

I have nothing to offer You.

Returned with Your gifts untouched

My hands held them steady

And the work You asked of me

Busied someone else.

Nothing to my name

I am no writer

The love in me, is but Yours

The light I rode to get here is Yours

I am nothing, but Yours.

In the midnight hour

​I know it too. 

To be scared of losing something before it begins.

Of never knowing the warmth of a touch upon yours. 

Of missing out on what could have been your best.

Come, let the night pass, the worry will too. And the light of the sun, when it comes, will tear at your distress and the ruling of the day will belittle these nocturnal thoughts. 

Let’s not heed to the call of the midnight hour any more. 

Let’s not be part-time poets and philosophers musing over thoughts that invite themselves upon the drop of silence. 

Let’s go to sleep. You won’t lose me overnight. 

Strong Woman, the song.

I wrote this a year back.

Mizael DeRosario composed the melody and lent his voice to these words. Thank you, Miz. Will always love you.

Posting this now isn’t a result of delay, it’s just perfect timing.

 

STRONG WOMAN

You know where your hair ends. And you know where your back begins
Under its horizons, where your blades sing
But only I know you
Were made for love
Parts and pieces I’ve seen as you show
Strong strong woman
Hand held out for me, because your touch heals
Wiping away hurt, you’ve stained my shirt. And I know you’ve been here before
Won’t you come here
I’ve written songs for you
Come like you always do
Strong strong woman
You don’t dance or sing
But I’ve seen your soul
And you’re beautiful
For a while and longer
Hold me and don’t be strong
Strong strong woman
And steal my eyes, take them with you
And show me perspective, a new world where I’ve always lived
And we’ll scratch our names everywhere
And on walls, I’ll paint your picture
And now, I’ve seen your core
And now, I know more of you today
Strong strong woman.
Body shaped to hold
Sold! I’m yours.

Leave it under the mat

​You can’t go back in time to place a hand on the shoulder of your younger self, but you can consciously leave something to help the future you breathe a little more easily. Like a key under the mat. Leave a piece of advice, leave a memory, a reminder. I did. I told myself to remind me this: it will be hard but it will be alright. I sat myself down and said, “She’s gonna want to stop and turn around and run in the opposite direction. Don’t let her. Remind her how strong she was in this moment we sit here, and tell her how smart she was in this moment we sit here. Tell her that she still is.”

I’m leaving love under the mat. Use it to open your mind. Maybe give it to someone after you’ve filled your heart and bones. Yea, give it to someone after you’ve filled your heart and bones. 

Happy Birthday, Papa.

It’s where we come from that makes us, no? I’ve come from the balcony where we sat and shared food and counted planes; from your bedside where we played cards and helped each other cheat, and from the kitchen where you had cut fruit for me. I have so many memories of you, and I have to thank you for them because through them you remain close. Because of them, I still feel the warmth of the days only we shared. Happy Birthday, Papa. I love you. 

25th September 2016

Broken Petals

 

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There were shreds of petals all over the floor. Of roses with fragrance. The bunch scattered after it fell from the table. The vase might have rolled under the bed, it was no where in sight. Red spots dotted the ground and white feet stood surrounded by them. Black eyes surveyed; confusion did not satisfy curiosity and they searched for answers in the mess. The mind was focused, or stagnant with stale perception.

Raahil heard the fall from his bedroom and ran towards her, Maya, where she stood on bloody roses. He stood at the door, hands on its frame, confirming his thoughts and then hurried towards her trying to avoid the shards of glass. “Don’t move,” he shouted but he didn’t need to, she was standing very still. He got to her and picked her up. They both held each other tight. Raahil was annoyed – “I told her not to. That damn vase. Should’ve filled it and weighed it down.”. Maya felt safe touching something she understood – her brother. An observation – they’d discover so much of themselves if they’d exchange and embrace each others’ names. It would be an uncovering, a turning to light of a part of self that they had no mind about, and all because they gave it a chance to be. It – themselves. 

“Why did you walk into this mess?” unbothered about who created it in the first place because it was an inevitable accident – that rose studded vase wouldn’t last. Obviously, it was her. Or the wind, it could’ve whipped the curtain or shaken the table. Or it was her. “How did the petals break?” her voice was inaudible, but he was close enough to hear her. “I told you they were delicate,” he spoke mindlessly, naturally, as he carried her to the bathroom. They were both present to their own thoughts, only hers were questions. “But how can petals break?” she asked after a while. “The whole vase is made of glass, Maya,” he said gently washing her feet. “Shit,” again mindlessly. 

She had stood before, in the corner of the room where the vase was safe and ignored and the petals fresh and soft, looking for answers with her touch. The painted details felt velvety.

“The closer I get, the more I’ll know.”
“These flowers, they’re so different, so beautiful.”
“Why does Raahil not notice these flowers? Why doesn’t he realise how pure they look and how beautiful they are? I can’t stay away from them anymore, who cares what he says.”

She treated them like they were too real; like they could welcome her to the force of nature that they brought with them. He treated them like they were too fragile to handle its purpose. Her feet hurt, the petal ruins lay in a bin and two minds perceived the same thing differently.

 

 

*Raahil, an Islamic name meaning ‘path guider’
Maya means illusion.

 

Home To

I love her for her oblivion. The last thing I want is to carry work home. My bad days crave her company because she overlooks their power to persist through the night; gloom is disarmed and forced to fade. So when I do get home, I go to a different world where I get to actually forget about little annoyances that I can effortlessly magnify.
It’s easy with her. She makes it easy without trivialising things.

“Exams begin next week, right? Yeah, work was good. Still refining the Happy Creeks project,” I reply.

Her name is Sharadini, it means autumn and she feels like it. If you had the honour of holding her in your arms, you’d agree with me. She’s a teacher and her kids adore her. We all do.
Our backs are to each other, I’m folding clean laundry, she’s checking our bills. As I finish speaking I turn around to love her from five feet away, her silk blouse is in my hands.

I can see her concentrating. She snaps out in a second, looks at me and smiles. I die again. It’s like a wave throwing me down, drowning my heart. She’s mundane now, how can she kill me over and over with a flood like that.

“Speaking of projects, check this out,” she walks to me and grabs my hand knowing that I won’t follow her without her coaxing. She knows me and she doesn’t have time for that. I drop the blouse on the bed and we walk to the living room.

“Woah! What’s all this?”

“Our project.”

“Our project?”

She had opened the balcony door to almost fifteen different potted plants, a pebbled path to the center of them, and a ridiculous electrical fountain about a foot high in a corner near the switch board – a garden, our project.

We carve out a life together. It’s exciting.