who you are..
The wind is blowing. Don’t bend if you want to please him.
– Ljupka Cvetanova
The last few weeks have been quite hectic. First, the chess tournament towards the end of February, where I played 6 matches, won 3, lost 2 and drew 1, and then the National Seminar on Banaras, for which I had the decoration department to lead. So to prove that I was a busy bee would not require more excuses. But the fact is that the beginning months of this year have been the downward fall of a wave. I am not enjoying my stuffs very much. The frequency of sketching has dipped, the quality and the quantity of writing have also slipped and I’m not liking studies like I used to in the last semester. I don’t watch movies and nor do I binge watch Nakamura’s knockouts on youtube. I don’t even play 20 games a day like I used to.
Sometimes I feel like a snake trapped inside his own skin, desperately trying to creep out of its cage. I wear personalities that I’m not. I walk towards my classmates with a smile plastered across my cheeks. It’s a fake smile but they can’t tell because I have practised it a million times. I’ve forgotten what my real smile felt like. The artificial is what I don when I am around people who expect me to behave like the character they think I am. I am just trying to meet their expectations, all the while suffocating under the skin that isn’t alive anymore. I have to act like Ravish – and it’s a terrible thing. It’s so much more perplexing than acting like anybody else. To make yourself into the man the world sees you as is the most disheartening act to pull off.
This morning, I was alone, walking under the mellow sun, with an empty bag on my shoulders. It felt so light – to have no weight pressing down upon you, to have nobody to answer to, nobody to care about. I closed my eyes and let myself sink in this beautiful isolation. The silence around me was enlightening. The warmth of the sun seeped right into my soul and in that moment, my little self lit up with joy. The joy of freedom, of liberty and light.
It’s so relieving to shed your skin and walk naked. That’s how nature made you. And that’s how you should be.
with 8000 counterclockwise revolutions per minute and all that shit….
It was a cold day. The train was parked amidst some godforsaken jungle. The LTE sign on my notification toggle flickered like a dying candle. A mild morning light came seeping through the web of trees. And in front of me lay amorphous pieces of human turd which the last fellow passenger had probably forgotten to flush. That’s a regular scene in North Indian train toilets, so I did not make a fuss about it. I just peed, saving any possible collision of my stream with the last man’s debris, and then I tried to flush but there was no water, so I slipped out like a mouse.
The sleeping beauty on the side-upper berth had finally woken up. She fished in her fancy handbag and pulled out a fancy brush. It was one of those toothbrushes people with Swiss bank account buy – with counterclockwise 8000 revolutions per minute and all that hyper level shit; the ones so expensive that they don’t even advertise during daily soaps, so my mother has no idea about their existence.
I imagined telling my mother about such toothbrushes and about people owning them.
“We used powders and your Nanny rubbed ashes and sand on her teeth. Now I’m beginning to think we are cave people. “She’d say, and then add that toothbrush to her wish list.
The girl did not have a toothpaste though. Maybe it came with an in-built mint flavour, I thought.
Is there any cap to how rich you can get? I could have all the money in the world and still be poor as fuck. If I get rich enough to buy that kind of toothbrush, I’d rather buy one of Saturn’s moons and drill oil out of it to get even richer.
The girl went towards the wash basin. I was not sure if she could bear all that revolting shit. See, with richness there comes a whiff of intolerance. But she handled it pretty well.
A just-woken-up girl brushing her teeth in a train is not exactly how they show you in movies. I mean they look pretty wrecked up, but it’s kind of cute, nevertheless. Yeah, you won’t like to snog her but you could still make art out of her.
I thought I would, but then I gave up that thought. She was too rich and too far. And I had my own worries. So I turned around like a good boy and walked back to my berth, plugged in the earphones and played Kailash Kher on a loop.
The most evil people bring babies to cinema halls…
Yeah. So a few Sundays ago, we stuffed ourselves with fried chicken, and when the breeze ran cold and the sun dipped low, went to watch this famous movie that got its ‘i’ dropped. You know which movie I’m talking about.
Now I’m not a very ardent cinemagoer to begin with. I’ve vague memories of my mother carrying me in her arms to this dreary cinema theatre in Banmankhi where they sold roasted peanuts during the interval. I also remember that they played the same stodgy crap over and over. The movie would be about a woman whose life was hell because her in-laws were children of satan and her own family was a cluster of eunuchs. The husband was a pisshead who fucked whores and had a debt equal to the combined GDP of Bangladesh and Myanmar, which he had acquired from shady people. Not to mention he was vile and violent and loved torturing his wife, which was considered an act of domestic violence before E.L. James came up with Fifty Shades of Grey. The mother-in-law had a PHD in finding faults and the father-in-law was an insignificant character who read newspaper and had no idea what he was doing in the movie. Also, there was unpaid dowry. So they’d beat her up pretty good. But the woman was a devotee of this Goddess, who for the most of the movie, perhaps enjoyed her plight munching popcorn in her higher dimensional sofa, who towards the end realised that the in-laws were pretty evil blokes and so she almost killed them but the good wife requested her to not to do so and then all those evil people somehow got magically transformed into gentle human beings in the last two minutes of the movie. I was a small baby back then, but I swear I knew I had landed up in the wrong place.
When I grew up, we didn’t go to movies that often. Mostly, it would be south Indian mass entertainment crap on Star Gold every sunday at 4 pm, full of ludicrous action sequences and incoherent songs. We did go to watch Veer in JVR Plaza, but it flopped terribly. I also went to watch Kambakht ishq with my mother, a disaster about which I shall talk later.
So anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I don’t drop at multiplexes every Friday, and so when we waited at the fast food counter on the second floor of Vikas Mall cleaning our 3D glasses with the tissue paper, I felt kind of excited. There was a Black Panther poster on one of the walls, and my friends started posing in front of it. There were dozens of army officials, strolling around with big guns. The mall looked like a battle camp.
We went in after a while. And it was a cheap ticket, so we got front seats. They were showing Delhi Police ads against child sexual abuse. The movie started in a while and we put on our 3D glasses. It wasn’t that clear. We’d to really focus hard to see the movie. This intellectual friend of mine tried to explain the science behind it. But when he started using words like refraction, we told him to shut the fuck up.
The movie was good. It could have been better had there not been (1) Stupid people entering the theatre all the time because they were probably given wrong timing or had alzheimer (2) Stupid couple always having to buy some stuff during the movie because they couldn’t buy it later (3) Stupid baby kicking at the back of my chair because, well, wait, why the fuck is it legal to bring babies in a movie theatre (4) Stupid aunties in the back discussing if Malik Kafur was that.
The glasses sucked but I managed somehow. There were very few hot scenes. Khilji was impressive and cruel. I wouldn’t even talk about its historicity because it is pointless. The songs were nice. The plot was a bit stupid. The story sucked towards the end. It wasn’t a Bajirao Mastani. Deepika was pretty but Aditi Rao Haydari looked like someone you could build Taj Mahal for.
Yeah. That was it.
And I almost got converted…
It was around midnight when a blinding light pierced through my eyelids. I squirmed and squinted and shielded my eyes with my palms, but I couldn’t stop seeing the light. I knew I was only conjuring it up, because my palms were perched like a crab upon my clenched eyes, but you know I have this condition that when I think something it just gets into my head. The beam of light broke through my skin, and my veins glowed like neon and my bones smoldered like coal, and the light kept seeping; it burned the tissues, it lit up the blood and it stabbed through the skin, searing each layer of me until it hit my pupils. It made me dizzy. What’s worse was that it wasn’t even real light.
Unable to find solace, I pried open my eyes. There was a white woman with a silver pony, arranging the middle berth on the opposite side. That’s all I could make out apart from her skin tone. I let my eyes dart around for a while. On the other side, I saw another girl. Black hair that sparkled in the light of a distant source, almond eyes that seemed lost in a distant memory – she seemed like a piece of art with deeper hidden meanings. She just sat there, unaware of my existence while I watched her from a shadowed bower that was lit up like a forest fire a few seconds ago. She was making me poetic. Oh my heavens! This compartment was choking full of hot women!
Only that there were slight issues which I discovered the next morning. The white woman actually turned out to be a guy. And the other girl went into hibernation once she got under her blanket. Hmm..so I was sharing a journey with a married woman, a zonked out woman who might as well have been dead, and a woman who was actually a guy with a silver pony – which is not exactly the kinds I picture my voyages with.
I checked the status of the train – it was 9 hours late. I stepped down and took up a seat on the lower berth, by the white guy. He had a rudraksh mala in his hand which struck me as weird. Then I studied him with the precision of a lab attendant. Saffron Kurta, white dhoti, a red tika on his forehead, malas around his neck – the only thing that was odd was his face, white as Sheamus. I wondered if he was an Indian guy with some skin disease. I didn’t ask him anything. I just observed.
“Iskon Temple. “He said as he showed me in his phone. The notifications dropped in a foreign language.
“Where are you from? “I quizzed.
“On vacation? ”
“I’m here to learn Bhaktashashtra. “He said.
Oh my…doesn’t Putin love you anymore? I didn’t even know there was a thing called Bhaktashashtra. They don’t offer it at DU, so anyway.
“How much time has it been…”I almost faltered.
“5 years. “He said as he smiled with great satisfaction, the one you get when your daughter finally gets married to a nice guy.
5 years? I mean is that even legal? 😑
Then he showed me his Bhagwad Geeta, and I began to realise he was completely brainwashed.
“You know about this? ”
Yeah. That’s what they made Amrish Puri pledge upon in a Bollywood courtroom. And it’s full of moral preachings and there are no hot scenes in its entirety.
“It’s a part of Mahabharata. “I said.
Then he started explaining stuffs and Krishna’s messages and I felt like a pagan.
“I guess I am an atheist. “I said. The married woman chuckled at my tragedy.
Then came the Russian guy’s girl, from the other compartment, and I froze, my eyes stuck on her like I was an esthete and she was a Michelangelo masterpiece. You remember the fairies they tell you about in pre-school? That was she. Dressed in a saree, with nose stud and all. I felt weak at my knees even though I was sitting. This is unfair, isn’t it? You can’t learn Bhaktashashtra for 5 years and have an ethereal wife at the same time. Such is life, my dear friends, such is life.
They stayed for a while and then the girl went back. The guy tried to show me some more videos of his Keertan but I said I was sleepy and so I climbed up to my berth and checked if the sleeping beauty had woken up but she had not, and so I slept, wondering why foreigners are so queer.
to be continued…