We were shown a shock of curly locks. The guy was really pissed off, maan…he said his hair required careful washing and lots of serum to keep it in place. Yes. This is what they got. Or is this what they wanted to go looking for? They found a little kid who said in her lisping voice, “I dident bruuush my teeth” while another boy moaned that he had not bathed and then he showed us the large ball he was playing with caked with mud. “Even my ball is dirty,” he said.
As a concession to the ‘other side’ the channel’s reporters went to dhobi ghat, a typical touristy hangout, where a washman mouthed a rehearsed script, “Aaj hum kapde nahin dhoyenge, paani nahin hai. Aaj hamari chhutti hai.” (We won’t wash clothes today, there is no water. It is a holiday for us.)
I won’t go into the stories of people who suffer from water shortage every day of their lives. We have heard about it and can do nothing. The so-called improvement that the water department is planning may not benefit them at all.
And here we were filling buckets and every available vessel. Today I look with sadness at all the water that will be thrown away because the taps will be gushing forth again. The water we stored has gathered dust and is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. We cannot keep it for long.
If it were dreadfully cold weather it may have turned to ice, like some hearts do; if it were hot and sultry, the water might hiss like steam and fly away…
Like all things, liquid too, must one day evaporate…
Although I feel awkward talking about it, perhaps this might serve as a moment for us to realise just how fortunate we are. When I had first got the brochures from the organisation I was put off for only one reason: they had pictures of kids and you could tick-mark the one you liked. We were told that if the particular choice was not available, then they’d allot someone else.
I had cringed then. Was this a shopping mall? I looked at those faces and wondered if they knew how their fate was decided. I tore those papers and threw them away. Seeing the bits in the dustbin among my garbage, I realised that I too hadn’t shown much respect. I may not have chosen to select because it was so insensitive, but by doing away with the idea and relegating it to the dump I had done no better. My crime was worse because I was not doing anything, not even offering choices or making them.
Perhaps someone heard the voices in my head. A week later another packet arrived. This time they did not ask me to select. With an amount that most of us throw away on non-essentials, a child would have education, health and clothes for a year.
That day when I saw the picture, my first reaction after all that sulking over some stupid Existential dilemma was to smile. It was a loud smile, if anything like this is possible. I picked up the frame and looked at the boy. I had not specified girl child, although a part of me wanted to. I am sure someone somewhere would have been gifted with a girl…the boy’s eyes are disturbing and riveting at the same time. They stared back at me. I felt as though I was in known territory, I was seeing someone I knew.
Yes, of course. He has my eyes!
We all send wishes to people for the New Year. I don’t know him, but I can only hope that his vision can make him see things beyond the obvious. And I have to thank him for that one smile that lasted till late into the night after hours of believing I had become nothing to myself. He has given me a reason to think that I too have a little something to give. I may not have touched his heart for he knows me only as a distant ‘sponsor’, but he has touched me in ways that cannot be comprehended. He has made me alive to the very thought that existence is about symbiosis.
I may not seek islands anymore. I shall find my oasis in every barren soul, including sometimes my own, and drink off it.
Will you let me in your world just as I will let you?
I begin to have a life of my own and she watches from a distance, not too far, just far enough so that I can move around and not get suffocated.
She frightens me often, though, when she takes those words and strangles them; I know it is she who is choking. I can’t do anything. Most people know me; they do not know her without me or any of her writings. I am conscious of the devastation words have caused in her life; I know that everything of significance and insignificance to her is completely meshed with her written word. You think she tells you everything?
I know better. She wants to. She types out whatever comes to her mind, and a lot does, and then she moves her finger over these words and feels the pinpricks. No, those are far too close to the bone. Besides, how would anyone understand her Now when they do not know that part of her history?
It is natural for me to be biased in her favour, but when they say she is self-obsessed I do get a bit perturbed. For, those who write about their lives, or even provide opinions that are their own, are talking about themselves. If she is obsessed at all it is about the incident, event, moment she wants to capture. Then she becomes a maniac. She throws caution to the winds and writes exactly as she has experienced/felt it. It would be difficult to exaggerate these for they have occurred with far greater lusciousness and sharpness, as the case may be.
There are times I don’t want her to write about illness and here I must confide in you: I don’t wish to see her so vulnerable. I have stopped her occasionally. I suddenly create technical problems or make sure she gets cut off…perhaps when those lines have disappeared into nothingness she may rethink. Alas, her memory stretches as far as her last birth and her imagination to her next!
One would think she would treat me as a place to stop by and rest. No, she makes me into her journey as well. I go along with her, as baggage or as fellow-traveller or as a pendant that can feel her heartbeat. She has never claimed she wants me forever, because she has had strange experiences with forever-dealers. Yet, once when she was playing around with templates and almost lost me, she hit herself. I let her do it. I wanted to see how much I mattered. We all do this – test commitment. She tried everything to resuscitate me, every possible thing a person who does not understand how RSS Feeds or HTML tags work can do. I had gone nowhere, but in that time I saw her soldier on and regain most of what was lost.
She does that if she values something. Recently, someone told her in a rather insensitive manner, “Oh, so this goes into your next blog post!” She writes about how she feels and what she does…she does not feel and do those things to write a blog post. There is too much to write about anyway…
It surprises me that she extends me the same energy and enthusiasm as she would an article on politics or feminism; she has often stayed awake late only because she did not want to see me alone and hungry. On days when she knows there will be no food, she informs me and I sleep the pangs away.
This is her way to give me time to think. Then she returns, as I know she will. There are times she has woken me up well past midnight or in the early hours of the morn. There is at these times a ferocious intensity to take me or a gentle nudge to just snuggle up to me and talk about the dreams she has had or could have…
There are things I do not like about her:
- Her short temper. Phew. You are fortunate to be away. For when she lashes out it is worse than any whip I have felt.
- Her extreme emotions. For her own sake, some balance would be good. Her emotions are not a Bollywood film; they cannot be larger-than-life.
- She can be a bit wide-eyed and I am afraid this can be misconstrued.
- She tends to over-write. I wish she would be a little spare (and sparing!).
- She could also consider not writing about some things, but then where would I be?
There are other things you may not be aware of…no one from her own family or her immediate friends knows about this blog; she hasn’t told them; they haven’t asked. She gets a thrill out of this ‘secret’ she has managed to keep from them…and she knows she can because why would they run a Google search when they have access to her?
She writes these posts sometimes while writing an article…so there will be a para on that word file for this space with some special colour…it can get crazy. Then she has this need to put up pictures; she has just clicked some of her room and I may have to house them. I have often wondered if the few photographs she has uploaded would leave the words feeling left out. But she will never leave words.
When she kills she also dies for she does away with poison. Her naiveté in this respect is her enemy. She won’t desert me.
I say so with confidence because we have a few parameters in our relationship. One of them is an understanding that we may take each other for granted. So, in that respect, all love is conditional. As only love can be…
“Hello!” I say, not even aware of what they look like. I scream a muffled scream when the shot is poked in my behind every alternate day. And then I lie there for a few minutes. The cold of the antiseptic only sharpens the feeling of something having hurt me. Then I look up and laugh.
I have become a veteran at managing dizziness and despair. I just swot them like flies. My hands ache because these flies are not known to be static. I try. I pop pills to make the world around stable for me.
Yesterday, I picked up the courage to look at those bruises. I stood before the mirror and turned to one side, then the other. It seems as though I have been branded. Strangely enough, they look beautiful, like tattoos. I imagine them in various shapes – a snake curling towards the tailbone, a crab on silky sand, or a pond craning to see its own reflection.
Soon I will know whether the iron that deserted my soul when I needed it most has at least found a home in my bloodstream.
My blood is hospitable, trust me. Platelets dance in it. It has become a crowded room, with too many gatecrashers. They call themselves guests.
My blood is a perfect host. It lets them stay; they drink off it, a squat glass of Bloody Mary salted at the rim. I get the message. Tears dot the lashes to mimic what is inside.
“What flower? There are only thorns.”
I told him about one reader’s reaction, a reader who had written, “It would take a necrophiliac to enjoy this poem. Trust you to make even sex seem disgusting.”
“That is a literal reading.”
It is worse, but I stopped expecting understanding. Why should the world empathise with my internal monologues, my tangential thoughts, my strange metaphors?
Yes, I agree with what I wrote towards the end… “it’s requiem for spring smiles as she gathers autumn leaves…”!
Half a Night
March 26, 2004
How does it feel to take a woman
after she has risen from the grave
the white sheath speckled with dust
the past a flaky crust
where she lives
on the charity of a slave:
memories in rigor mortis?
Is it death you take to bed
or her awakening
when you bleed her bits
and call her a bitch?
Roll over, dog.
Your lips burn with
for half-baked desires
heat turning to steam
in the deep folds of
a ribbed, flavoured lie.
You are too drenched to notice
she rains too.
It takes a lifetime
obsessions are not certainties.
It’s requiem for spring smiles
as she gathers autumn leaves
in the dirt roads
squeezing her thighs.
She awaits another morgue night.
This is supposed to be the apogee of romance and commitment. I think it sucks. If someone wants to grow old together with you, you’d rather know whether you will also have company in the grave.
And what if there is a vast age difference? Must the younger person start growing old quicker than the normal pace or will the older partner work hard at looking and feeling young, assuming that genes and temperament are not providing the necessary impetus?
“I want to grow old with you…”
Sounds like a retirement plan to me.
Oh, you don’t understand, I can hear you say. It means that the devotion is so deep that wrinkles and everything else do not matter.
If that is the case, then please do visit an old age home. I’d love to see you get goosebumps when a toothless smile greets you. Will your heart beat fast as you watch the person of your choice hobble along the corridors? Will you look into cataract eyes and promise the moon? Will you sing to a hearing aid the songs of tinkling bells and whistling winds?
But, you will interject, these are strangers, not the person you know and want to spend the rest of your life with.
Do you know about this minute or the next? So, what do you know about another person? Is their life a replica of yours?
How much time does it take for this familiar person you want to grow old with to become a stranger? Will you recognise the sagging breasts and appreciate them with the same intensity as you did the perkiness they once possessed? Will you love him whose hands shake as soup drools down his chin when the words he used to utter, “You eat soup, not drink it” in his posh tenor at the spiffy restaurant, take you back to the him you fell in love with?
This is a test of true love when you accept the changes, you will say.
You test love? Then, will you accept that as people grow older, they could grow apart? Doesn’t growing old bring changes upon the mind and soul and not just the body?
Values too are victims to the vagaries of Time.
Why don’t we bother to grow old with our values, our ideals? Why do we walk away from them to conform and connive with errant fads?
When people say they want to grow old together they are merely seeking the comfort of lethargy, the scent of skin they can recognise from a distance so that when the senses go slow they can grope their way to safety.
No one takes risks that are not insured.
Let me tell you one thing: Anything a day old is stale. Yes, stale. Even yesterday is a leftover. That does not mean it never meant anything, or has no worth today. It does, if you do not seek to repeat it word-for-word, moment-for-moment.
All foods do not turn rancid and spoil. I, in fact, prefer rice the day after it has been cooked. As it is heated, the grains at the bottom stick to the pan. I love those most. I scrape them and add them on top of the white mound. The slightly-burnt smell is reassuring.
People don’t grow old together; they just learn to take the heat better. Life is about going through a bit of fire.
As a report says, “Kolkata’s public loos will never be the same after a designer toilet with its facade emulating the Sydney Opera comes up at Southern Avenue…"
Please don’t be such killjoys and scream, “Tchhah, raabish, chara…”
Given the penchant of the residents for kaalchur (culture), I envisage the stuff operas are made of. Purists they are, so they might stick to authentic music, a Cavally crescendo and a Debussy dip orchestrating the blabber of the bladder. There may be the occasional deliberate lapse into Robindro shongeet on special days like Durga poojo or on one more sudden reappearance of Subhas Chandra Bose.
They will celebrate his being alive by synchronised flushing. Frantic invitations will be sent out to each one’s
The men may decide to hold their evening addas within the hallowed precincts and, the inauguration being in still-nippy weather, they will enter wearing their monkey caps and rubber chappals and discuss weighty issues like the doctoral work of Binod babu on ‘Darwin and the theory of excretion’. They’ll carry little packets of jhal moodi to maanch (munch).
The ladies will have their special soirées here to prepare for the next poojo; marriages may be made here as match-making boudis and pishimas smile at the young lass sitting with her legs crossed. “Shusheel konya,” they will tell each other not realising what she is holding back is a little more basic than waywardness.
I can’t wait to get there. Who knows how they will herald this event. Perhaps take out a rally with the cries of “Joi mutra” renting the air?
“How does it feel to be a curiosity?”
“How do you know what that feels like? You have never died.”
“I implied it feels like death…to feel you do not have to be/do a thing…”
“So how does this curiosity-death work?”
“It is like being poked, dug up, scraped, torn, torn apart, opened up, entered into, walked upon, walked with, walked out of…”
“Too many verbs.”
“Too much happens.”
“But you do these things to yourself too, so are you curious about yourself, are you like death?”
“It is like this: P dies because P had never lived.”
“Who is P?”
“I don’t know.”
“Then how does P come in here?”
“P is a misunderstanding. I had mentioned going to a place with P; it was construed as going to some place with some P when I meant a place with the letter P, a name that I couldn’t recollect…”
“Without intending to; for brevity’s sake I lost clarity. P became a person, an idea.”
“Is there a P?”
“There must be a P.”
“Who could it be?”
“And the two are the same?”
“No, similar…pain can be passionate, passion can be painful.”
“Only if you give too much attention to it…”
“I don’t. But as a curiosity these droppings are there.”
“If they are so palpable, then how can they be mere droppings?”
“Because P dies, P died.”
“You said P never lived.”
“No one does. They all live through others, we all do.”
“Then is everything fake?”
“No, everything dies.”
“Is death fake?”
“There is no one single death; there are deaths. Deaths are precious.”
“Is P precious?”
“P lives because P died, so P is precious.”
She says, "Haan, tau?"
"Don't you know? It is the anniversary of Babri Masjid. I have put up a piece..."
"Get ready and go for your injection. Yeh yaad karne se kya hoga?"
I have just returned. There were cops reading newspapers a lane away from home. Precautionary measures, they call it.
The Legacy Of Babri Masjid
By Farzana Versey
06 December, 2006, Countercurrents
I have got a new father. He died before I was born. He died before my mother was born. He died before my grandmother was born. He died generations ago. But Zahir ud-Din Mohammad is Papa. Yes, I am Babar ki aulad.
The progeny of a tyrant. A face I do not recognise. A mosque I would never have known about. A legacy I carry as a mortuary dumped with an unclaimed corpse.
* * *
“I am from a minority community.” My words circled the compressed air in the plane.
“What did you just say?” asked the gentleman sitting next to me.
“I am from a minority community.”
“Is that how you introduce yourself?” he shrugged. A wonderful conversation that had begun about the media, Naxals, politicians, industrialists had ended.
He was candid: “This comment has left me disturbed. It has taken away from all the ideas we talked about.”
So many thousands of feet above sea-level, at the mercy of technology and nature, we became Hindu and Muslim. This was the first time in spoken communication that I had uttered the phrase ‘minority community’ for myself. Was this not a statement of fact? Should I feel ashamed of it? Why was I limiting the expanse of my sky?
That morning there had been a newspaper report that had filled me with trepidation as I read it on the way to the airport. It talked about how certain frequent travellers in Mumbai were being hauled up for questioning by the police. Your crime? Being a Muslim.
In the lounge, I curled up the paper and tucked it away. I did not want to show them what had become of us. No one watched me suspiciously, but I looked around with suspicion. Antenna and armour were both in place.
I wasn’t afraid for myself, but I was afraid about my reaction. What if I lost my temper? What if I made scathing comments and asked them to prove their loyalty, their credentials. Worse, my destination was Dubai, where they say all my ‘brothers’ are in hiding after committing terrorist acts in the new corporatised Bharat, where history is being hawked on saffron bandanas.
It does not matter what political party is in power. Today, power rests on the mighty prongs of the trishul.
We are a non-violent nation; we hate guns; we distress over road rage. But we go on raths, simulate the archaic, our ennui satiated with impotent anger over spectres shrouded in lies.
Why do I remember December 6 at all? Because they remind me about it.
Look at this report of December 4: “Uttar Pradesh government has sounded an alert across the state and asked district authorities to take measures to maintain communal harmony on December 6 anniversary of Babri mosque demolition.”
They have anyway barricaded the make-shift temple. It is high-security area. God does not live there; god has been trapped there. Is the cradle of Ram lalla the cradle of civilisation? Does this civilisation make you demolish a mosque in six hours? Can you imagine the planning and effort that must have gone into this quickie attempt, how well-synchronised it was?
You ask, did not the Muslims destroy a temple that was there? I shall quote the words of a Sufi singer from Sindh, Allan Fakir, who on a visit to Delhi a few years ago had said, “Yes, Babar must have come to Ayodhya, he must have stumbled on a ruined structure and asked what it was. He must have been told that it is the birthplace of Ram and Lakshman – ‘then it is pavitra bhoomi. There should be ibaadat in such a place. Prayers and devotion. Raise a mosque here’. And thus a Babri Masjid must have come to be.”
100 people have been pronounced guilty in the 1993 bomb blasts case. Now tell us who are the guilty for the riots that preceded it?
A little over nine years later, when Gujarat happened, we realised that a Hindu life was worth Rs. 2 lakh, a Muslim’s one lakh.
This is the legacy of Babri.
They say their resentment is over things like Article 370 for Kashmir and the Muslim Personal Law. While the former was formulated as an administrative necessity, the latter, though undesirable, seems to be causing problems only for the Brahmin-Rajput sections, minorities themselves. (The rath yatra as a response to Mandal makes its own ironic statement.) Why did no one think about a Uniform Civil Code in 1947? Why did no one shout slogans of “Jai Sri Ram” then?
I do want to know how those going to Ayodhya on December 6, 1992 could be called pilgrims when they had a specific agenda. Do people go on Haj carrying weapons?
There are several other questions one asks. I have still not got adequate answers.
How many Muslims have been traitors to the country?
Haven’t riots put them back by a few years?
Have they progressed economically?
What have they gained?
Has there been no contribution at all from the community?
Have they really tainted the purity of the ancient civilisation?
Why do 800 million Indians find us a threat? The Muslim is an abstraction now. S/he would be forced to ask: Who am I? And the response would be…I am the AK-47 rifle, I am the detonated bomb, I am the dynamite that has blown up cars, trains, bodies, I am the beard, the burqa, I am the voice that shouts out loud in the streets to support dictators who look like thieves, I am the bent over figure taking up public space for my prayers, I am the loudspeaker that beckons believers and is a nuisance to the ears, I am the butcher with the knife over a poor goat’s neck, I am the one that the metal detector detects faster than anyone else. I am not like you anymore.
This is the legacy of Babri.
14 years ago, a BBC reporter had hesitantly asked me, “Would you still wear a bindi after all this?”
What was ‘this’? Just an onion-domed structure in a town I knew little about? No, it was the blood on the walls in my city. I do not revisit those areas, for when I had done so they were washing the stains and those would not go away.
Remembrance comes in other garbs: The pregnant woman who was kicked in the stomach repeatedly to tell her, and us and everyone who did not go along with their narrow beliefs, that nothing new should be born.
She did give birth. Another Babar ki aulad was here. Prematurely. This is what happens when you hit so hard.
We often traverse through the terrain of togetherness, formalize life into an impregnable fort, while feelings fall like a pack of cards. We feel desired, even destroyed. Sometimes, nothing happens. Like that day. Before I could wilt in the suffocation of despair, I bent over and felt the welt with a dewdrop from my tongue. It would cling to me, a blushing bud blooming into blue.
This happened once. It may happen again. For I have been unable to get rid of loneliness. I give it other names: recluse, misfit, alone but not lonely, but these are just words enshrined on a crumbling edifice. I shy away from admitting it due to the fear that I will have to accept an indictment I have brought upon myself, and that my emotional demons have scarred me with. I deny it with vehemence and yet…
That is the reason I don’t let go. I swallow the constricting feeling in my throat, call it commitment, courage or whatever, and stay on. Why? Because I am afraid of losing even the shroud that covers me. Loneliness hovers like an undertaker. I know I am not the only one, but even if we were to form a sorority of lonesome souls, you and I will still not be together in it. Your moments may find echoes in mine, but can you hear my voice?
I screamed. It was a bright day. Sunlight streamed in through the bay windows, the distant ocean a muffled sound. The untiled floor was uneven, the walls scraped and plastered. It was a house waiting to become a home. Mine. For the first time I would feel like I had something concrete – some concrete – to call my own. Bought by me. I had packed things that would embellish my fantasies rather than the place: statuettes, paintings, knick-knacks, and I had nowhere to put them. And now I was told that I would not be moving in. Plans had changed. Just like that. But I resisted reality. I started cutting out bits and pieces from magazines and pasted them on cardboard sheets; a collage had formed. I was hoping that having made a pattern, things would fall into place. Do they ever? The verdict was clear. My house would remain bare. And as I fought those unsaid words, the thoughtless thoughts, I had thrown open the windows, let in the breeze and screamed. No one could listen. I was the dog howling at the moon. However loud I was, it would remain a moan. I knew that even if people rallied around me, I was doomed to be alone. No one would fully comprehend what I had lost, for no one had understood what I stood to gain.
Since that day, I have never wanted to belong anywhere. I do not feel out of place in new surroundings because I am designed for alienation. I know that I am a stranger amongst the known, for there is nothing to overwhelm me and claim me.
Last New Year’s Eve was another such day. I sat curled up on a sofa watching television. Friends had plans. I had none. My excuse for not going along was I felt so happy that I wanted to be by myself. The truth is that I did not want my solitude interrupted for a few brief hours. How would it feel after the hangover to return to my one-man army and fire rounds in the air and find that, in the twisted loneliness, I had failed to see that the barrel of the gun was facing me?
Some people think I am brave and self-sufficient. “You don’t need anyone, which is wonderful.” If only they knew I can fill a stranger’s vacuum into mine through hours compressed into moments. Even in blissful slumber, I am threatened by the nightmare of emptiness. I start missing people before they have left. I assume they will leave. And so, instead of letting experiences grow, I wallow in episodes. I see in every zebra crossing a milestone. The contradiction within a lonely heart is that it attracts people; it becomes the terrain on which they can pitch their tents. The nomads depart in time and I have the rubble of memories to showcase as life.
This constitutes my inheritance – the stuff I have held close to my bosom and things that I have had to discard in the garbage heap. I go scavenging often to look for traces of myself and, among other people’s leftovers, I find that I have left nothing at all. How can I differentiate the bones I had chewed on from a stray’s?
I have formed an unspoken relationship with a beggar. He salaams me with his solitary arm and, being mute, he can only smile. In the years I have known him, I haven’t given him a single paisa, yet he sprints across from wherever he is to meet me. He even knows my moods, or so I think. The other day, after I was returning disheartened after a meeting that did not take place, I saw him pass me by. How could he! He too was giving me the boot. Behind my shades, I let the tears well in my eyes. Once again I was alone. Just when the traffic lights were changing, he came, having retraced his steps. He gesticulated wildly, and I fathomed he was indicating that he had not spotted me and was sorry. Yes, I had made it. I was not alone. He was there. You will have to believe me when I tell you that I forgot all the disappointments of the day and went home in a happy frame of mind. Till I realised that even if the chrysalis had become a butterfly, all it could do was flutter about, suck the juice of a flower, and then what?
Are lonely people born that way? What lessons do we learn in the womb? I remember as a child in a joint family I had plenty of company. But the fear would not leave me that one day they would all go away. I’d wake up at night and go checking to see if everyone was breathing and then return to the bed satisfied that their lives would give me reason to live. Next morning I would feel crowded by them. And lonely.
This is something difficult to write about. It is like being trapped in a blank sheet of paper, thoughts running faster than wheels on an empty street. I am too afraid to chase them, capture them and then sentence them to a page. But I cannot stop being fascinated by how the pen holds itself back -- a few dots expanding into bubbles that might burst any minute.
Sometimes, like now, in spite of myself, words form. I try slashing them, hoping to see them bleed. Instead, like the royal blue of their ink, they regally shun my attempts and brush me away as another speck of dust.
Is that why I like the feel of mud? I have told them that I would like to be buried next to Nanima. Grandma died years ago and six feet below the ground there will be no trace of her left. Yet, it is comforting -- the thought that I will not be alone. In the graveyard I familiarise myself with the scent of rotting flowers and the sight of worms. Are dead people lonely as well?
What darkness? If they want to see me, there are many roads. But they all end in one. The essay I wrote long ago has been reproduced in places, and for some reason been empathised with by all kinds of people. There came a time when if anyone asked me, "I want to know more about you", I'd direct them to that piece.
Once an academic, a wholly pretentious intellectual, wanted to 'know' me. If there is one thing I find more insufferable than fools it is these pumped-up pretenders. It was harakiri of sorts to challenge him, but I said, "Read The Lonely Road."
His response left me amused, "Why do you think I want to know you? I have read the piece, that is why!"
If there is anything that I feel has completely submerged me and got submerged in me, this is it.
Will put it up in a minute...it needs more than just a link...
She looked like a child. “Hiiiiii!” I could hear her greet the doctor when he went to meet her outside. The door to his consulting room was ajar. I could see her, a toothless smile and sparkling eyes. I had to wait until I got some reports, so I sat on the sofa near her. A cheery “Hiiii” greeted me too. I responded. Her mother helped the girl get up and walk towards the room. I could hear her screams, the doctor and her mother pacifying her. When she was done, she came out and greeted me with another “Hi!!” Her mother bent down to help her wear her shoes.
The assistant was asked to escort them to the door. The doc looked quite shaken. This was no child. She was in her late teens. He was an old family friend. He said, “She was a beautiful girl at one time, completely normal, lovely long hair, at all our functions she sang and performed the Bharat Natyam…this was one person I was keen to watch, to see what she would grow to be, such talent.”
Then one day high fever struck followed by convulsions. She lost her teeth, her sight and most of her neurological functions. She has regressed.
I did feel sorry for her. Not because she has regressed (I have seen worse sorts of regression), but because she has to start anew. She was not born this way; she has to take those tiny steps, utter words with care and live looking like a child. But guess what? She is coping. I could hear her stop the doctor with a, “One minute”, if he was hurting her. She could not see anyone, but she could sense human presence and acknowledge it. How many of us have the grace to do that?
And despite it all, no one could take away her smile. Just writing this makes my lips curve upwards. I feel like saying “Hi!”…hi to those reading this, hi to people I have hurt, hi to anyone I have not understood or who has not understood me, hi to those who are willing to wait, hi to those who want to go, hi to the painful memories, hi to precious moments that have come and will come again…and a silly giggly-wiggly hi to me.
“Is all being well worth even a punctuation mark?” I asked.
“Just something to convey…”
“A question mark raises more questions.”
“Conveys a pause…”
“A pregnant pause…”
“An exclamation mark!”
“Proclaims nothing about something.”
“And a full stop?”
“I gave up on that long ago. Nothing stops.”
“Make a poem now…”
Fire leaves behind smoke
There is water on the floor
I must start digging for more.”
“Ah, very exciting moments you have.”
“One day I shall chain them together and wear them round my neck and strangle myself with life.”