Lacklustre mornings of today
remind me of yesterday night
unrecognizable laughter wafts back
a lover's stride in unison
shatters against today's discord
You were so extraordinarily awkward
long stooping back, slouching ahead
an occasional glance upwards
shy eyes twinkling with uncertainty
but full of desire to explore
Those strange January days
of tempestuous love and stormy fights
would end with buying condoms
blue, orange and deep red
like the shades of our conversation
Blue from that first film, Rushmore
Orange were the days then
when you peeled off my clothes
and my hesitation and made
red stream down my legs
The first time I loved you
was when you pulled out
that old crumpled t shirt
and quietly, gently, wiped the red
soaking, wiping, patting dry
Like I patted you down,
after our first shower together
steaming scalding hot water
cascading down, burning
I still wanted more
To trace ravines down your back
As you slept I counted the spots
there were many, were you
easily bruised? I didn't ask
and you never said anything
What was it like to be wanted by you
I can't remember, it's so far away
memories at such a distance
that sometimes I wonder
if it happened at all.
Second guessing is my second nature
I am sure I want out
I want to get away
from your cold, piercing silence
I've had enough
You never stop me
In fact, you don't believe me
Do what you will
The most hurtful words
Like you'd cut me loose
suspension is painful
with strung arms
that start stirring at the first
hint of a response from you
I think I've walked cobbled streets
chaffed against the friction
of harsh, rough paths
As I turn at the crossroad
a breath from you pulls me back
I cannot leave, you don't care
If retrospection makes it all sweeter
Will I laugh when I think
of our colder January days
of discord and difference?
To indulge a whim, I scooped out my mother's old cookbooks and recipe-books from a dusty old cupboard in a dingy room at the back of the house. I gathered a bundle of them, old diaries full of scribbles and notes and flopped onto a bed, eager to devour old recipes and anecdotes that I know she has the habit of writing down along the margins. I love those old ruled diaries. Blue and purple lines, blue and red lines, little quotes printed on the edge of each page. The parchment is old with the experience of many a dark corner, many a dust-laden shelf and they spew forth stories by the hundred, only if one cared to inhale the scent. Story-telling scent. Of spiders and hidden silver coins and lost earrings that caused stormy fights. It was so delightful to flip through them. I imagined her, young, newly-married, eager to impress her husband with her culinary skills and wide repertoire, writing down recipes for everything from Mutton Korma to Pineapple tropical salad. Then, strangely enough, in one of the diaries I found a different handwriting and recipes that I know my mother wouldn't be THAT interested in recording. Things like I like. American frosting. Pineapple custard. Ginger Carrot Cake. Chocolate Buttercream-the easy way. I had a hunch that it might be my grandmother's writing but I was too excited and not certain so I ran to mum and confirmed my suspicions. All the while I kept dreaming of my own kitchen and fantasised cooking all those wonderful dishes which made my mouth water endlessly. At one point I was afraid that my appreciative salivation would drip onto the old pages and leave a mark. I also made a mental note of packing these to take away when I have a home of my own and creating a series of my own recipe-books. My mum and I then had a long chat about my grandmother. Wonderful stories. She went to teach in America for 2-3 years when my father was a lad of ten. My great-grandmother came over to look after him during that period and mum tells me that he was very pleased to be away from his mum's strict disciplinary regime. She made some great friends there and she lived all by herself and wrote regular letters to her husband and when her stay drew to a close, she asked my grandfather to meet her in London so they could go on a Europe Tour before returning home, a proposal he readily agreed to. Mum told me how she was such a gutsy lady, so forward in those days...lived all by herself in a foreign country, made numerous friends who cherish her to this day and to that effect maintain good relations with my mum...she had everything from beef to pork and on one occasion even tried Octopus, at the invitation of another bengali family! (some spanish lady who had married a fellow in their family cooked the aforementioned delicacy.) She had impeccable taste, loved expensive jewellery and had the most beautiful saris which she wore perfectly, devoid of a single crease. She marched with head held high, taught mathematics, could speak German fluently and cooked fantastically well...she loved everything rich...even the average korma/kheer was attacked with generous amounts of ghee that would give a heart attack to any high cholesterol patient. I used to be told earlier that I'm a little like her. She was so feisty and I am a little of that too. In those days she had very libertine ideas. And she was so educated! She was a double M.Sc. in Mathematics! During her last days, she'd accept a little water from me... I remember she was extremely fond of me and gave me all sorts of affectionate names. She was also quite crazy and unreasonable at times and superbly dominating but that makes for other interesting stories.
I'm an anxious mess. An utter disappointment. Cynical and Guilty. Guilty guilty guilty. A heap of lies. A bundle of misgivings and bitter qualms. A troubled cure for a troubled mind at best. Funny how my state of being became my very being? I wish I could drug myself and die. Or remain drugged throughout my life. Die painfully, bitterly, as bitter as the most bitter gourd there is. As bitter as a spinster's stark desire. As bitter as the rotten, decaying curtains in a dead man's old chamber. As bitter as the rancid breath of a drunk beggar. As bitter as the pile of sewage collected at the edge of the gutter.
The yellow red curtains mask the sunlight streaming through the window panes and bathe the room in a soft mellow light… I close my eyes and a painted picture of a farmland washes up in front of my eyes. My eyes hurt. They have been, for a while. Looking back, it feels like its been in an overwhelming journey. They say I’ve grown up. I am now officially an adult. I’m not sure I know what those words mean. But yes, I have lived with myself for a while now and its been alternate bouts of reasoning and breaking. Its just the beginning and I know that. My stride is still not in harmony with the streets of this city. I’m still a little unbalanced, a little alone. Yet scattered acts of kindness have taken on a new colour and tinted my life with all its blues, greens and reds. Often I’ve had the feeling that I was standing on the platform of a railway station, and trains were rushing by me. I was caught in a sea, an inferno of people, humanity, beggars and their cries and whispers. Everyone was rushing ahead in their haste to get away, to jump onto the racing trains and there I was, in the midst, alone, deafened by the noise, blinded by the visions, silenced by their cries and whispers. I like my room. That is what I like to call it. My bed is not flea-ridden. The temple, the markets, little lanes and parks envelope my abode. I go to the temple and feel peaceful. I go the market, I feel cheerful. I take a walk down these little lanes and feel hopeful. I haven’t been to the park yet. My eyes still hurt.
Munching on Lay's Magic Masala, I recalled the old advertisement which brought a familiar tag to mind: No one can eat just one.
It has been 2 weeks of me swirling around in this mad globe of dust and granite. Dust is beautiful here. Monkeys perch on the promontory every morning. The wind slaps you around, the dust pricks, searches and finally settles for, on what it finds.
Chips are good.
I found a book on Sugar embroidery, sugar quilting. The one who trades in confectionary keeps them. They're beautiful, like the dust. Only more planned, organised. The dust is intricate too.
Chaos and uncertainty are patterns in my dreams. The red and black from my childhood. Marbles I lost to snakes. Talking in riddles. In the larger frame of life, what matters? The ultimate question stands: What is the colour of water?
This story is not about the very controversial Palmer family. It is also not about the turbulent relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Palmer. It is not even about how Mr. Palmer left the family and ran away with a country girl. It is about the two little Palmers. One little and one, not so little. That is, Philip Palmer and Polly Palmer. Yes, it is about those two. Our story unfolds itself not through phases of time. It really has no reason or rhyme. But our story is important for it tells the story of these 2 little lives, one little and one, not so little. Two lives which are hardly important, had it not been for their intertwining. How they occasionally made little feasts of each other is interesting, not because one did it a little more than the other, but because it tells you about swings and fairy wings, fun and guns, chocolates and dirty traits and those tiny yet incomparable things which spatter existence, with life. The Palmer family did not live in the blue cottage of Polly Palmer's dreams. Instead, they lived in a faded rust cottage. In her imagination, Polly Palmer would often run around the house and paint it with a huge brush that danced while it painted, danced along the hem of her skirt. Once, Polly's friend Pat asked her why she dreamt of a blue cottage. You see, Pat loved his red cottage home and he couldn't understand why anyone would want a cottage that is not red and really, rust came closest to his red. If I remember correctly, Polly had said to Pat, "If only I had a blue cottage! The colour of the sky and the seas and the mountains in early winter. Why, it would seem like I lived in paradise. Paradise is blue, with white clouds to replace couches." Mr. Palmer was a very ugly man. He was fat and he had a potbelly and he had hair sprouting out of his ears and his nostrils and hair everywhere, really. He was like a fat grizzly bear, said Mrs. Palmer. He also had a bulging eyes that went red when he got drunk, which was every night. Mr. Palmer had a fiery temper and each night that his eyes went red and bugled more than usual, he would come home and beat Mrs. Palmer with the back scratcher. In fact, he would beat her with anything that was lying around the house and when there was nothing, he would roll up the paper and when there was no paper, he would roll up his sleeves and beat her. Then he would drink some more and sleep. When morning came and the butterflies flitted around in the sunshine, Mr. Palmer would open his eyes and they would not be red. They would be smiling and all accepting and there would be a nice jolly smile on his hairy face. Mr. Palmer often said, "Morning is the best time of the day. I'm not an evil man, folks. It is just that when the sun goes to sleep and its dark all around and beautiful Mrs. Jones with the smooth round face and ample bosom offers me a mug of beer, me can't do nothing but slurp it all down. You can't call me an evil man for that, folks. Nay, it is but surrendering to the vices of night-time. But come morning with sun shining so bright and the grass so green and the flowers all colours of the rainbow, you can't do nothing then but smile and be a good man. Yes, folks. I am a good man. It’s the time that gets to me." Mrs. Palmer loved mornings too. It is when she cooked her best and dressed her best because she was not like the others. Mrs. Jones and Mrs. Baker and Mrs. Needham dressed in their fancy evening wear and slipped their arms around their husbands and carried them around like an extra accessory and partied and ate and laughed and gossiped. It was only in the daytime that Mrs. Palmer felt like she was living a good life.