Late Night Vibes

Coffee kissing your lips, and

old Jazz making love to aural senses;  the 3am thoughts

I see and write. Holding hands,

stealing kisses on necks,

the smell of a whole day of mundaneness

washed away by a late night rain.

The roads are empty, emotionless,

surreal.

Neon signs are sleeping.

It’s just you and me, and a thought of a city,

roaming around like nomads, drinking the leftovers

with passion.

 

[Photo by Masashi Wakui]

 

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Natural Disaster

The topology of a natural disaster is simple. It

rises from nowhere, and ravages everything in sight.

Some say there’s a soul in the tsunami. A decay so

wild, a longing so great that it has become

relentless.

*

You eat like a pig, someone had said to me

in a city afternoon that was smelling of o – of loneliness.

Meandering into the thicket of clouds,

my thoughts were singularly focused on

making love to her.

*

The notes, the messages on the phone, the news headlines

were telling the same thing; that some natural disasters

have souls, and all of them

are out to destroy.

 

Saudade

A cold, wooden almirah full of old bones.

A dresser full of clothes that are choked by more clothes.

A gray river full of emotions that are dumped carelessly to the sea.

A toasty morning full of morsels of depression in a cereal bowl.

A lighthouse full of people that vanished one day and never came back.

 

The calling is almost visceral.

The disillusionment gnawing at you like hyenas nibbling flesh out of

a carcass.

The only truth seems to be the mirage of a past

that never was, never will be. It’s like a saudade

for the ether.

 

Picture Courtesy: Blendscapes by Oriol Angrill Jorda

Finite spoils of war

Smelling love on a day when the yellow cabs were on a strike,

she had bared herself out, naked

in the streets of passion;

Twenty minutes of sweat had turned into war.

Bearing shell scars between her legs

she had dug herself out of a grave

and jumped right back into

the madness.

 

drawing by Ariane Mayumi

Holiday Cheer

We reached the church rather early, in time to see the choir practice. This was my first time attending a Christmas service, my wife having done it during her school days (she used to be a choir singer in her Diocese days). We were greeted by the charming Pastor and also by a little boy who was trying his best not to smile, only to break into toothless laughter the moment he saw someone, including my wife, who came back with a glee in her eyes after she spent two minutes adoring him.

With freezing, howling winds outside, the Christmas eve was certain to be one to be indoors. Two hours later, we were coming out of the church with smiles, meeting new people, yet my memory was already painting a different picture.

My end-year memories are all over the place. They have the joyfulness of a first kiss, yet there are pangs of heartbreak as well; calm ripples of a gray sea are there, with the remnants a tsunami had left dead corals on the beach – you are bound to land on one of two extremes. I met my wife in one of such highs more than ten years ago (feels like an eternity, or yesterday!). I distinctly remember calling her during the end of my engineering exams, since there was a change in the schedule and all of a sudden I had three days’ to spare – I wanted to check if she could meet me. In my excitement I had worn a particularly choice, hideous florescent orange t-shirt for the occasion, sure to turn off any prospective gazes from opposite sex. There I was, standing in a popular destination for the lovebirds (how cliched!), looking like a scarecrow, waiting for a disaster to happen.

We had gone to the Cathedral. Not because we wanted to pray, but because it was silent, detached from the crowstorms of a clunky city. That winter morning had painted a spectacular picture in my mind. My mother thought I looked particularly giddy that night when I returned home, though it didn’t take her long enough to figure out what had happened to her son. I was on cloud nine, and for good reason.

But there was a winter when I had told someone to forget me, that ‘we’ couldn’t happen, that ‘it’ was going nowhere. Sitting on my balcony, listening to her quivering voice at the other end, I had cried for the very first time on the account of heartbreak. For this was the very first time. Umpteen years later, that forgotten chapter had found its way to the same city, and on a rainy afternoon, we were standing in front of each other, eons between us, two people who had lost parts of their soul on that fateful wintry night, thinking about how awkward it was.

In Bengal, the suburb winters are different than city winters. Suburb winter afternoons are spent in typical laziness, rolling around on warm blankets and pillows, catching up on Sunday potpourri. In the city, the smell of jaggery is masked by aroma of cakes. A particular nostalgic favorite, Nahoum’s, brought out Parsee goodness every winter from its unending stash. A favorite of my father’s, the love-shaped cake, or paan-cake, as he calls it, is still smeared all over my childhood memories.

Winter is a difficult season to endure at times. Here, at times the temperature goes beyond zero, sending a chill through the body with every gush of wind. Bengal winters, in comparison, are much more spring-like than we want to admit; there are hardly a week of sweater-wearing cold. More often than not, it’s the zeal of the Bong parents that makes us wear monkey-caps and scarfs. Those memories, childish and joyous, have no fixed places in my brain. They come and go as they please.

This Christmas, two benches before us was sitting a guy with mental disability. While the entire church was filled to the brim, no one sat by him. We sat alone too, our bench a stark contrast to others. It left a drop of disjointed, unwelcome cold in my otherwise warm evening. Were we to be judged based on how we dressed and talked and in certain cases, behaved? I don’t know the rules of the world, I must say. Differences are not considered necessary for society; for everyone must wear the same mask.

I am no one to judge. I cannot even judge my memories. People I chose to be my close compatriots have often abandoned me. But I don’t turn a blind eye on things that happen around me, be it the nauseating stiffness in acceptance, or warm embrace of love.

A winter always has two sides.

Happy Holidays!