What’s a relationship all about!? 😒
The train was late by two hours. Then, they announced that it’d arrive at platform number 4, which was on the other side of the world, somewhere around Peru. I was exhausted by the wait – rolling the trolley bag felt like hauling a dinosaur egg. I dragged it through the stairway – my palms tired and sweaty – overtaking slow, fat, redfaced aunties who had travelbags so large that you could suspect them of felony. When I landed my bag at the dilapidated floor of platform number 4 and heaved a sigh of relief, they announced that the train would – due to some technical issues – now arrive at platform number 3. So I hauled my luggage and tagged my soul along to platform number 3 where the train showed up after thirty minutes. Before that, I tried to update my phone using railway wifi, but it seemed Indian railways was still using pigeon services, and I did not want another pretext for my brain to go crazy, so I unplugged and decided to write a scathing article about the appalling fall in the standards of government bodies. But then I was too tired so I just watched a flock of birds fly away in the stratosphere above the high roof of platform number one and wondered why don’t they ever get tired. I also wondered if Icarus’ flight was worth it, if what he experienced in those tiny fractions of time would ever be felt by Daedalus, and if history has been unfair to him. Then, the train arrived and I crawled in.
Okay. Let’s establish the facts first. I had a hot copassenger. But her husband was a bit of an appendix. A wheatish poker face. And he wore a black sweater on a dark pink shirt which gave me sort of a headache. And what’s unfortunate is that they had a child. Picturing them having sex was kind of weird – like watching a cult porn or something. In small towns, you can have hot chics plus dowry if you earn well. I can, too. But what attracts me more is intelligence, which is a rare thing in both the genders. This intellectual friend of mine has even higher standards about which we shall talk later.
So, what kind of women do I like?
Well it’s tough. I can’t draw an eligibility chart. I’m in the last year of my teenage and I don’t exactly find Gwen Tennyson hot anymore. I like girls who play chess. But that’s not all.
I guess I liked Doctor. No, not someone like her or someone of the same name or appearance or intelligence or DNA coding or whatever. Just Doctor. It’s not easy to explain, didn’t I tell you.
In a relationship you look for compatibility, because love cannot haul you all along. So yeah, maybe compatibility is the word I’m looking for. But I’m not sure. It could be all about blowjobs for all I know.
Anyways, they looked kind of happy. I mean almost perfect. Compatibility. Blowjob. Or maybe both. I guess you establish that much when you’ve made a baby together. It’s a huge risk, and if it turns out ugly or dumb, you would most probably not relish wiping poop off its ass for years. But then, what do I know. I don’t exactly adore them.
The train trundled on the eternal tracks, and through the tinted glass I stared out; trees, throngs and time past me in a flurry of blurred paintings. I realised I am passing a moment and this was enough to make me sad.
to be continued…
Now that the sea retreats, the sand has a doubt…maybe you’re just a thought that I thought…
I was beginning to learn that your life is a story told about you, not one that you tell.
-John Green, Turtles All the Way Down.
Chicken Biryani @ Rs. 80 – I read from the giant menu board with a picturesque background printed right out of Laura Vitale’s YouTube thumbnails, and me being in a state of starvation, the doormat at the entrance seemed no less than God’s own flying carpet. My brain felt like a centrifuge – and I don’t even know that word properly – it just felt moving round and round and round – as if my mind was Jupiter and my thoughts were cyclones. If I fell unconscious at the door, I’d lose my phone, my wallet and my key, and so I did not have that luxury, I reminded myself.
I trudged in and walked up to the counter. The receptionist was a lanky man. There was nothing attractive about him. I know as a writer I’m supposed to give you descriptions but when my great immortal love story is written, I am pretty sure we won’t need this guy. So stick with the adjective lanky for a while because that’s all I remember.
” Chicken Biryani. “I said. He looked at me, registered my voice, had them transferred to his basilar membrane where tiny hairs did a little piano show before transferring the message through electric pulses which hit his auditory cortex where the brain decoded it and then his primary motor cortex told him to get his hand out of his pocket through a really long chain of nerves sparkling with electricity and so he moved it out, took out his pen, took out another hand to pull out the cap, kept the cap on the table, then flipped the register on his desk, after which he put his pen on a blank space and made really slow loops.
Yeah that’s how long it went.
“That’d be 80 rupees. “He said. He didn’t like his job. I keep meeting all those people who don’t like their jobs. And then I wonder why there’s so much negative energy all around me. I took a seat and let my mind do a little free fall into the cyclone.
The world may seem quiet and everything, but if you flip every human being inside out, you’ll know what Dante Alighieri meant by hell when he wrote Inferno 700 years ago.
This is a sick place and a sick millennium. And that’s how it’s always been in every millennium and in every place. The utopias exist only in our imaginations. So here’s a little thought –
our utopia is almost perfect. The contrasts of it are limited to diverse shades of a butterfly, or diverse shapes of a snowflake, which do not, for example, produce energy equivalent to 50 megatons of TNT up somebody’s ass. So the ideal world that we create are free of our own concepts of sin, and are attempts towards a little more organised and beautiful landscape.
Now suppose you are the creation of an other worldly being. All your physical realities are the result of somebody’s overdose of philosophy. Just like your Utopian puppets don’t realise the fakeness of their existence, you don’t have the tools to realise the fakeness of yours. Just like you are making up a world of your own, sitting in a random chair at Bhagalpur Junction, maybe you too are a made up thought. Maybe somebody’s in a 4 dimensional sofa, munching 4 dimensional pop corns and thinking of a character at a railway station which is you. Maybe you are a part of his Utopia.
Having established that, I delve further into the world of higher beings. Previous versions characterise them as omnipotent, omnipresent noble beings – people with long sparkling white beards who’d make it rain bullion with a click of their fingers, for example.
But here’s a contrast – if we are a part of their utopia, we are, by their definition, at an ideal state. The horrible sins of our world is just a contrast of shades to them, a diversity of shapes, a difference that’s not really harmful. I wonder at what levels do the criminals operate there. Like, what sort of badassry is a bailable offence in a higher dimension district court. And like how do you divorce somebody?
It gives me deep chills. I dart my eyes around in nervousness and tell myself that I’m not a made up thought. My heart beats frantically. This demon of inside is hard to kill.
I am not a made up thought.
That’s what she thinks, too.
Shut up. She is real.
Yes. I’ve seen her. We’ve chatted. We fuckin went to the same school. I’ve known her for half my life. She is real. Doctor is real. I’ve got her pictures.
Is she, though?
In Memento, Lenny creates the memories that drive his life. Without them, he’s just a working human body. At some far horizons, the difference between real and unreal vanishes. The solid land beneath your feet floods every full moon, but when the beautiful night is over, all you’re left with is a tide retreating back to the sea – a reality touched by an unreality. The imprints left on the wet sand is what you refer to as life.
“Here it is. “Said the waiter as he plonked the food at my table. My stomach started live drum ceremonies, so I ate like it was my last meal, the image of a retreating tide ebbing away in the back of my mind.
to be continued….
love, thoughts and winter…
The last time it was this cold, Magdalenians were throwing harpoons into the Mediterranean. It takes me two hours to creep out of my blanket, and if you have ever scraped a scab, you’d know how that feels. The screen has been showing a single digit number in the temperature box for a week now. My family has already turned hydrophobic and we have pretty much compensated for a year of global water wastage. We even got an email from change.org, which, however, on further examination turned out to be a donation campaign. I reminded myself that I was poor and discarded the message.
I am poor. I mean I’m taking dumps in a makeshift toilet. What could be worse?
Actually, our little house is getting a little touch up, which is a euphemism for ‘being totally reconstructed’. So, we had to break the toilet and make a small one on the other side of the compound. The day they struck the first chisel, my soul died a bit inside. The toilet used to be the best part of my little home. You know why. Also, it had a geyser and everything.
My mother decided last summer that she couldn’t take the heat anymore and that this house needed to have either an AC or a reconstruction. Since my father is eco-friendly, he went for the latter. And so my mother applied for a loan and made us swear that we’d pay it back with our salaries and that’s how this whole business started. We had no idea that the temperature would drop this low this year. And so here we are, buried inside our blankets and making calculated movements.
In these Antarctic temperatures, PC and Captain, instead of hibernating in their holes, throttle their scooteys and get to my house. Every-fucking-day.
“Wear shoes. “Says PC, his eyes sparkling. It’s kind of a codeword for a really long ride.
“I don’t have one. “I fib, “I’ve applied for a loan at SBI, as soon as I get that, I’d buy a pair on EMI. ”
He gives me a poker face. He’s heard enough of my loan jokes. I remind myself to work on my humour as I sit behind him. Actually, all the three pairs of shoes I currently own are heinous. If I have to attend my commencement and I have only a pair of pink stilettos and my three pairs of shoes to choose from, I’d go for stilettos without thinking for a second. Stilettos remind me of Doctor. But I don’t remember if she loved or hated them. She said she hated them, though. She couldn’t walk two steps wearing them. That’s what she said.
Anyway, I sit behind him and we zoom away, fighting the glacial winds with chattering teeth and shivering bones. The wind cuts through the skeleton and charges up the spine like a flurry of supercooled matter. My body feels like the experiment-house of Bose-Einstein condensate.
“It’s like some other geologic time epoch. “I comment. I don’t hear a response though. Maybe it’s PC’s corpse driving the scootey. I wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case. Or maybe he does not understand what an epoch means.
We fool around in the stadium for a while and then it gets dark, and PC needs his cigarette, and so we rush towards the kiosk. Captain tries capturing a flank of trees for the umpteenth time, but he never gets the perfect shot. I don’t know what he’s looking for.
I look back at Doctor’s house, which is lonely like outer space. I wonder how long it’s been since she’s been up there, trying to squint through this hazy world. She won’t be able to make out a melon from a man from that distance, but in her own blurred kaleidoscope, she finds a rare comfort that doesn’t come with a clear eyesight.
She’s not there, I remind myself. But the thought won’t go. I am having a John Green hangover, I tell myself. But the thought won’t go anyway. I want to figure out what she’s seeing, not as in what’s being projected on her retina, but what her mind is drawing on the canvas.
“I think it’s a good one. “Captain wonders out loud. It’s a nice click, but I’d probably never know how it’s different from the thousand others he rejected. That makes me wonder if you can ever understand a person completely, no matter how close you are. My parents were squabbling over headphones last night, and they have, like, literally, created babies together.
This makes me wonder if understanding is just subjective, if you can still love somebody without understanding them.
And then I stop wondering about what Doctor is searching in her blurred kaleidoscope, because I know I would never be able to figure that out, but I smile in the realisation that I made an effort, and probably that’s all she wanted from me….
The final part of the journey…
We hail a cab which drops us at Ratu Road, from where, another cab drops us at the main gate of SAIL township, from where we walk through the Satellite Road to enter Shyamli. All the while, we are talking about her friends, her friends’ friends and her ex-boyfriends’ ex-girlfriends. I don’t have to say anything as my life has been quite unextraordinary. Imagine me as the agricultural tv channel they put on government set top boxes and imagine her as the flamboyant ESPN, in HD.
Shyamli is this beautiful township of Mecon, so serene that if Anurag Kashyap visited this place he’d start directing Bhajans. It was my idea to smoke in Shyamli. We walk and walk and walk and stop at a park which looks desolate except for a man fooling around with his German Shepherd. Why do people hang out with dogs? Like, what the fuck are cats for?
“Are you sure we should go in? “I do not feel safe in a park with a German Shepherd dancing around. She looks at me and starts walking. Into the park. Damnit! I follow her. Godamnit!
That goliath monster charges at us as if we ran away with his engagement ring, barking like German artillery of World War 2. Heer screams in fear. I am already bleached out, my heart on the tip of my tongue and my ribcage ready to slip through my ass. That’s how I’m dying! Godspeed!
But I jump in front of her anyway, and I’m not sure if I peed or what, but as I sacrifice myself to keep her from harm I tell her to get away. I don’t know what I am thinking right now but somehow I know that when I’ll look at this in retrospect, I will choose to visualise myself as a caped Zorro.
A miracle saves us though. The dog turns as his owner calls him back. He’s chuckling at a distance and even though I give him a nervous laughter in response, I want to sue him for life. We race out, swearing and wheezing. Then, we laugh and swear and laugh and life suddenly gets better, and safer. We could have kissed but I have the heart of a mouse so we just slow down in a street which looks devoid of people. That’s the place.
“We’ll smoke here. “She says. There’s no one around, except for a guard who looks like his wife became a monk and that’s why his life is hell and so he wants to poke around and have some fun from observing people’s activities.
I nervously pluck two cigarettes out and hand one over to her. Then, I light up the matchstick and light my piece, my heart a canon of Arras inside my chest. Then, with shaky hands, I light her cigarette too. I don’t want to die of lung cancer. And I don’t want her to die of lung cancer.
“You first. “She says. Dear Lord, forgive my sins! My lips touch the cigarette butt and even though it doesn’t feel like orgasm, goosebumps cover my skin. I inhale smoke little by little, as suggested by the Wikihow article for beginners, and look at her. She doesn’t look that ecstatic.
“It’s gone. Light it up again. “She frowns. I rub the stick against the box and light her cigarette. And just like that, we are taking drags. It tastes like burnt corns, which is not exactly delicious and it doesn’t have a soothing effect on any of my senses, as they swear on their mother’s life. In fact, I feel like I should have bought a Frootie instead. But a Frootie Date won’t look good on a blog post title.
Heer is grumbling about something. She looks beautiful while doing so. She wants to blow smoke clouds and it’s not happening. I tell her that that only happens in movies, but it doesn’t calm her down. She wants her smoke rings. She says that this friend of her blows smoke rings every Tuesday night at India Gate and people from all over Delhi flock around him to watch this spectacle.
As I look behind, the guard is gawking at us. He seriously needs to have fun with his wife more often, he looks so downtrodden. She gives up after a few drags and since I don’t have any good reason to do so, I carry on. My lungs still feel like lungs. But yeah, the smoke stings my eyes.
We walk under the starry sky, along the quiet avenues, not talking, our steps parallel and slow and in synchronization. And a few seconds later, Heer asks for my piece. I’m gobsmacked. ( Gobsmacked is this new word I’d run into in Lord Evans’ Merriam-Webster, and it means dumbfounded. )
“What? “She looks at me quizzically as I hand it over to her. As if sharing cigarettes is a normal thing! It’s quite intimate, it’s as intimate as sharing herpes. She deftly holds it between her fingers, like she’s Augustus Waters, and she begins to draw smoke. I blush like Hazel Grace Lancaster. After two drags, she scrunches her face and coughs.
“You okay? ”
She nods through the hazy cloud of vapour and goes back to sucking through the cigarette as I steal longer, intent glances at her. Heer is ethereal. Not in terms of physical attributes or the ability to talk interestingly and consistently, but in terms of being so expressive without having to make an effort. You have to see her to be able to believe. She’s not a person, she’s an event. Witness her unfold and smile in joy.
She tries a few more drags and then gives up. She returns it to me with a frown. I have developed a sudden liking for smoking. And I love this girl who smokes because I-have-to-exhale-puffy-clouds-and-watch-them-glide-away. And I absolutely abhor, loathe and detest the guard who’s following us like a tail. We take a U-turn and keep on walking. I am drawing smoke from the same spot her lips touched moments ago, and in a rather unconventional way, it does feel like kissing. As I’m relishing the evanescent taste of her mouth on the brown tip, she pirouettes and gives the guard a spectacular display of her middle finger. I am blank and confused and awestruck and terrified. But that’s the normal psychological state when you’re with her. The guard stares at us and I tell Heer to run.
“No need to run. HE’S A FUCKING STALKER. “She says and I’m ready to sprint, but the guard is only staring at us, expressionlessly, so we cancel running and simply assume he is a zombie, and float away.
“This is the principal’s house. “I point to K/95 and she paces up.
“Oh no! I’m dead if he sees us. “She speaks in hushed undertones.
“He won’t. Only the guard will. “I say as I peer at the armed guard who also has the longest moustache I’ve ever seen in real life.
“Damn! “She says as her steps are hastier than before.
“The guard. He was at school, you remember? ”
“He sits at gate number 3 nowadays. What about him? ”
“He sits there because of us. Umm..we were late one day. One of my friends flashed a hundred rupee note before his eyes and he grabbed it and let us enter. Well, I recorded it on my phone. And then, I blackmailed him. I always reached school late, and then one day, he disappeared. ”
“Poor guy. That’s so wrong. ”
“That’s not. He is a corrupt man. He deserved it. ”
I do not say anything. I feel sorry for the guard but I don’t want to discuss morality and ethics on a cigarette date. Also, Heer could nuke an entire continent and I’d still love her with same passion. As we’re about to enter the E/16 street, I see a familiar gigantic homo sapien trudging towards us. He is Lord Evans. THE FUCK!
“Shit! Run! “I say, and we wheel and run. He has already spotted us though. But anyway, we keep running.
“Why are we running? “She asks, panting.
“Lord Evans. ”
“What the hell was he doing there?”She says, exasperated and baffled.
“There is an empty house there. We go there and click pictures and make scary videos of the place. ”
“He didn’t see us, right? ”
“He did. I’m so screwed. Let’s go somewhere else. NOP. ”
She nods and then, we go to NOP. We watch the famous Haunted guest house, buy chewing gums, sit at a bench, take selfies, share the silence, feel weird and leave together.
On the way, she asks,
“What after tomorrow? ”
And all of a sudden I am just an empty space.
“Seventy more days to go. ” She reminds.
I know. And I know it won’t be the same after she leaves. I’m suddenly enveloped in this gloomy shroud of sadness. People leave, after all. I don’t know how to stop her. You can’t deceive time. It’s just not in your hands. I don’t want to lose her, but today’s warm moments will be blisters tomorrow, and they’ll pinch and hurt and stay. So I don’t want to say anything. I’m already missing her, and I know I’ll miss her more when it ends. That’s the theory Einstein won’t give you – the closer you get, the worse you break. I don’t want to break, I’m scared. Moreover, we are playing roles, so maybe I’ll have to be careful and hold my emotions before they begin to fly high.
“We’ll see. ”
The smoke fills my heart. I’m just ash.
She doesn’t say anything. I don’t have the guts to. So we leave it there, the question of tomorrow, floating in the streets, rustling in the breeze, looking for something, somewhere, some time…..
“Hi. “She says.
I mouth a faint hi and hand over the wrapped book to her.
She looks beautiful in black. And she’s saying something that it was unnecessary and all, but I fake deafness and we start for our second walk. As always, I ask her to get to my left, because left is safer, and she responds with a
“What’s the point? “. Then, she gets to my left.
I don’t have a place in my mind. She decides for Airport road and I am fine with it. I mean she could have chosen a mortuary and I’d have been fine with it. Places don’t matter when the company does. I nod and we start walking.
“Did I tell you that I’m scared of crossing roads? “She says as we reach the two-lane. We have to get to the other side to catch an auto.
“I’m not. Don’t worry just follow me. “I lie as we begin traversing the wide lane, vehicles zooming along at super sonic speed. Our father in the heaven. May your holy name be honored. Please save my ass from getting squashed.
“You are, like, the worst ever pedestrian in this world. I mean if people were ranked on the basis of road crossing skills, you’ll be the only person with legs to not make it into the list. “She says as she stops in the middle of the road, letting the bike pass. Who does that?
“Well, my horoscope says I’ll die in a road mishap. “I shrug. She rolls her eyes. I want to tell her that she looks kind of cute when she does that.
We hail an auto and set off to Birsa Chowk. She shows me some hot chicks on the way and I don’t know whether to feel excited or dubious about it. You can never risk your character with girls. As my mother says, they’re expert in setting traps. I pretend that I’m asexual and gaze at the hoardings. Then she starts showing me hot chicks on the hoardings. And at last, I have to admit that the poster featuring Sunny Leone was really hot. She knits her eyebrows and pouts her lips and pretends to be angry. I get sweaty palms just by the realisation that I’m in the same auto as she is. I don’t know what to say. How do you react when someone pretends to be angry? Like do you play on, or just apologise? Why the fuck does our school curriculum teach us about tec-fucking-tonic plates when what we really need to know is brow behaviour and pout analysis?
We have to cross a couple of roads when we reach Birsa Chowk and after we are done, I feel like that’s enough for a day’s adventure. Anyways, Birsa Chowk has traffic lights and traffic police and gleaming roads and dazzling shops. It’s the first time I’m here and it looks great.
“We have to walk from here. 2 kilometers. ”
2 what!!??? The last time I walked this long, I was a dinosaur.
“Okay. “I say. I guess 2 kilometers is a walk-able distance. She wouldn’t suggest that otherwise.
“When you’re with me, you can’t pause. Just keep walking. With me. “She says.
We cross the road again and this time she is convinced about my incapability to cross the road. I remind her of my horoscope and she doesn’t comment whatever she was going to. And then, we walk, and talk.
Airport Road is maintained like a national treasure, unlike the roads in my hometown where most of the asphalt is covered with cowdung, horseshit, or red spittle. Airport Road looks like they mop it every day with Lizol. The street lamps remind me of movies. It looks like a highway. There are small trees lined up between two lanes, the shrub beneath them fluttering in the breeze.
The population goes on diminishing as we go further. The sky is beautiful now, an ethereal mix of red and blue. There’s Venus shining bright above us, and a few stray stars, and then, the streetlights sparkle the road. I listen to distant cacophony of humanity, fading away, slowly, as we amble towards a quieter part of the earth. We’re doing what we always do – she’s talking and I’m listening. She’s telling me about her last visit to this place. More than the content, her voice is what hooks me. The sound of she speaking is what soothes my troubled soul. It feels like a scene from some Nicholas Sparks novel, only that we are not forty years old divorced loners.
“Where’s the cigarette? Show it to me. “She’s suddenly excited and I don’t want to ruin it, but I don’t want to pull it out of my pocket in full public view either. A bald guy has been following us for a long time. Maybe he works for some espionage organisation.
“I’ll. Let’s find a place first. “I suggest.
“Okay. Keep my phone in your pocket. I don’t have one. “She says. I adjust her gigantic phone in my pocket, and now I feel heavier by twenty kilograms. She goes on talking about her adventures from std. 3 to right now, which is one hell of a collection. I’m also scared for her, because this place has, like, a million eve-teasers, which is not fair in any way. I don’t want people to comment on her.
“Hmm..this. “I pull the Goldflake and show it to her. Her eyes grow bigger and her face brightens up. She takes it from me, fiddles with it and then gives it back.
“Open the pack. “She says. I obey. She smiles.
“Where shall we smoke?” I ask. She’s not sure either. I don’t want to smoke here and get into trouble.
“What time is it? “She asks.
“6:19. “I check on my phone.
We see a bench and she asks,
“Will it be okay to smoke there? ”
For some weird reason, that bench did not look romantic at all.
“I don’t think so. It looks eerie. ”
“Umm..where then? ”
It’s been some time and we cannot reach a decision. And we haven’t seen any plane either.
“How about we go back? Try smoking at the Dibdi bridge. “I suggest.
“Seeee!!!!! Plane!!!! “She almost squeals as we watch a gigantic airship take off and zoom away. The sky is the colour of my uncle’s desktop wallpaper. The crescent moon looks like a silvery arch drawn in the middle of it.
“Look at the sky! Prussian blue. I haven’t seen it anywhere except in paintings. “She almost screams with joy. Yeah. The sky is a magic. And so is she.
As the plane disappears, we trudge back, her voice in my ears, the cold Goldflake in my pocket, and her favorite sky gleaming blue behind us.