Friday, January 17, 2014

Song of the Sirens

"You got a photographer yet?"
"Are you travelling some place after?"
"I don't know"
"What are you wearing?"
"I haven't seen it yet. I trust Mom"
"How the fuck are you not losing your mind?"

I arrived three weeks in advance. Everything was almost done and as for the silly, trivial things, I was not going to let them get in my way. I would be a cool bride. I'd  be the opposite of cold-feet, anti-bridezilla. I'd be composure pacified, chilled in the freezer. My friends were impressed.

Reality hit three minutes after I walked out of the airport. When was the last time I was in 38 degree Celsius heat? At 10:30 in the night? Someone once described "Jahannum" to me - "It'd be burning hot and the water would be boiling. You'd drink it, but it'd NEVER quench the thirst." That was what I landed in. But, what is a little heat stroke when you are set to marry the love of your life, right? WRONG. This good man, this sweet soul had never seen me under yellowed skies of dusty Indian summer. Or hung out with both my parents. Acclimatization was in order for both of us.  No amount of chilled beer was going to help and it was too late to elope now.

I had heard all sorts of sordid tales of people getting  married back home. I laughed and I sympathized. I never understood. "You are happy. Don't give a fuck and you'll be fine". But does that ever work? Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, has an opinion and a constant urge to share it with you. I was told by a neighbor Aunty to not sit cross-legged in front of his parents. "Yes, let's pretend they are old-fashioned fascists and my exposed feet will make them reject me as a sanskaari bahu. More importantly, do we even know each other, Aunty?" A saree salesman did not even bother veiling his indignation at my bias for light colored sarees. "Aap dulhan ho, inhe dekho bhi mat." I was left speechless. It always takes a little while to rediscover the existence of my tongue there. Enough of this Amreekan niceness. The ennui of an ordered life is not for the motherland. When in India, do as... Beast Mode On! I embraced the chaos. Morning runs, Bisleri hunts, seamstress woes, rings for toes - all of it.
And so it started. Multiple poojas to bless an agnostic couple seems hardly misplaced in India. Like good kids, we listened to the mothers. They don't ask for much anyway. Or so THEY think. Mine was determined to be perennially stressed with sudden bouts of absolute joy and then of categorical melancholia, surroundings be damned.

"Aww, we brought you home that very day from the hospital after you were born. And now you'll leave home on the same day again."
"Mom, I did leave home. Years ago. And who on earth remembers this kind of detail?"
"Aww you look like a bride (crying in the department store)."

I gave her a hug and then I gave up. After all, what is an Indian wedding if you don't break down in boutiques in front of a hundred strangers? If you aren't found in vulnerable positions in "beauty" salons where at best you'd be naked and at worst in real, scream-inducing pain? If you aren't stuck in traffic en route to your own wedding? If your friends don't go looking for alcohol for you in the middle of  the ceremonies. All this in search of socially acceptable means to be with a man who is as willing to jeopardize his own sanity for you. There exists no bigger test. I would have said we aced it. But then, that'd be egotistical indulgence. We barely survived. Our sanities have been on a break since, at a spa in the Himalayas. We wish them speedy recovery. And that they find their way back home soon or we be able to join them there.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


She doesn't have warm hands they write poetry about. Instead, she has perennially wet fingers for cooking thrice a day. They don't warm me up on a winter morning when she wakes me up. No, they have always crackled like icicles since when she taught me to stand on my own. They are the kind that hold my wrist when my vehement blood boils and soak in the heat running through my veins.They are the kind that are placed on my feverish, dolorous eye-ducts and defy physics to transfer placidity. They are her hands, that I have now.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Time zones - Part 2

I even dream of you now
On the other end of the phone.
Do you know how many miles of submarine communication cables are there between us?
Do you know how many people are there between us?
I would get tired even if they all carried me one-by-one to you.

P.S. Some drafts are meant to see the light of the day years after they were conceived. Oh well!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Chez moi!

Because I'll be leaving my own little haven. And because I love it so much that I need to document it.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Do you remember when we couldn't any more?

Do you remember when the turtles crawled up the ceiling , hanging upside down,
Milky Way gleaming on their shells?
Our own giant stars, they were.

And that one time when you placed a drop of rain on my osmotic throat,
You thought it'd quench my perennial thirst.
All it did was make my insides drier.

When, once, lilies grew in the tumultuous winds
Their petals spinning in spirals.
We were sucked into its vortex, floating in the low pressured center.

Or the time when the clouds caressed my body and you hated them for it?
When we walked carelessly on crunchy snails on the forest path
And the pitter-patter of the rain became an ominous growl.
Was it the snails getting back at us? Or the Gods?

I don't feel gods under my feet, 
I feel only snail squash, and it makes me jump.
I believe in snails, 
Soft and hard
Linear and curvy
Fallible, squashable.
Who can believe in gods?
Infallible, unsquashable.
So unreal, so unlike us!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Waiting in vain?

Sometimes happiness wears you out too. Some days, this inertia, borne out of satisfaction of mere existence, is (weirdly) just enough. I sleep well. I have almost forgotten how to be bluesy (much to the chagrin of my Flamenco teacher). On other occasions, I try to shake my insides for an ounce of any emotion other than glee, to feel something else. Not sadness. Longing, may be, for the summer rain, or for my father's arms. But, I seem to be fine with windy days, sunny skies and perpetual company of me. Then, one hour ago, I found her. I am still figuring if it's too early to be obsessing already. No I am not. I am dancing to her divine voice. It's past midnight. I'll be dipping my fingers in paints soon. I long to lay down on the wooden patio of the shack with him under a billion blinding stars, smelling cold air and thick coniferous cover. The lassitude ebbs away.

Oh Hindi Zahra, your wine-stained mouth is beautiful and, might I add, oddly inspiring.