Tuesday, 30 August 2011
I have been cheating on my first work-in-progress:
Nobody was willing to talk straight and the TV set was still busted. The day brought on one terrible thought after another. Aileen was sitting by the Rocks with her little feet making circles in the water. She looked up at me as I padded by.
“Cat?” she said, as if in a question to herself. I stopped. It was the first time I had heard her talking. Her voice was soft and lilted with a rhyme-like melody.
“Cat,” the girl said again. “Felis catus. Feral, predatory and carnivorous creatures. Rampant breeders.” She crinkled her nose with disapproval. “Cats will sleep with their mothers, you know.”
“Well, ha ha, but my mother’s a pig,” said I and walked away. One terrible thought after another.
with a second work-in-progress:
The chameleon hopped on to the pirate’s shoulder looking rather mournful.
“So what’s his name?”
“His name? Pets don’t need names,” he said with a sinister look. “They just need to be put on a leash so you can find them whenever you want.”
“I think his name should be Magellan.”
“There will be no such thing,” the pirate hissed. He brought the knife closer and it gleamed in the moonlight. “Pets have no names, little boy. Maybe you should start thinking about giving yours up too,” he said with an evil grin. “Tell me, then. What’s your name?”
“That’s my name.”
[Captain Sinha: The Baddest Pirate in the World]
and a third:
There was a thud followed by an animal squeal of delight, and then the sound of open-mouthed snacking, all over a low monotone of a groan that went through Kirk’s nerves like a buzzsaw. He chewed on his cigarette and jumped into the driver’s seat. The keys were in. The rickshaw purred to life with a crank and two thuds, Kirk’s head with it.
In the mirror, he saw an animal scrambling out of the ditch with something disturbing dripping from its face. As the rickshaw drove away, it snapped into focus for a moment. It had no monkey fur. It had no tail. It had upright feet below a twisted hip, and breasts hanging over it like meat at a butchershop. It had long hair scattered over its face. It had a face. It had eyes. It had teeth.
God, Kirk thought for a crazy moment. That looked like Kalpana. On drugs.
and a fourth:
When Robin Nair walked out of Organic Chem, nobody really noticed. Robin was too graceful for that. He simply stuffed some books in his bag, pulled a pen out from behind his ear, walked softly up to Sudarshan-sir, said, “Excuse me,” with a little bow, and was out the door before he could be excused.
Mr Govardhan Sudarshan gaped for a moment and then was back to the lecture as if nothing had happened. He had a scientific mind. It probably told him not to bother with things beyond his grasp.
I wouldn’t have noticed Robin either. Except that I had seen him swipe Keya’s sweatband when he tucked in his books. And when he bowed, I could have sworn that he had slipped his pen into Mr Sudarshan’s trouser pocket.
Why would he do that?
[Nair Noir: Ring Around the Roses]
...it's a filthy habit. :(
Friday, 29 October 2010
A weary worker
At a construction site
Retires his tools for a bite
Opens a dabba
Packed by his wife
And finds to his delight
Of a tiny,
Strand of pubic hair
In an elliptical
Over a roti
She has prepared
The worker is wise
To not show surprise
No doubt can find
Many an easy way
And satisfy their
Whims without care
Over the stove
And make rotis
Instead of love
It is his
That makes her
As if in fever
One roti and another
She squeezes the belan
Into her underwear
Friday, 29 January 2010
Lately, things have been changing too fast.
The old year gave in to a few sharp kicks and rolled over. Now it has to be another calendar, another diary and another punctuation mark at the end of a long and unnecessary sentence. Older books have suddenly spawned newer meanings, and all too late to be relevant in any way. Newer discoveries have put to shame what we used to know. And the world has become a little bit larger. Just like always.
At some point last year, I had driven a DeLorean into the future. There, I had run into myself quite by accident in a department store looking for boxer shorts with cartoons printed on them. But there our similarities ended. In the future, I had grown into a rather jumpy individual with shifty eyes and a weary face. There was no telling if I was happy, which seemed to be the fundamental question. I didn't let on much even by way of speech. However, the fact of the matter was that I was in a mood colourful enough for fun underwear, and that was reassuring. I pressed on to discover that I was an interesting person to meet, if only for the fact that I was so unlike myself. I did not drink any hot beverages, I couldn't Egyptian shuffle a deck of cards, and I wasn't any good at (or even interested in) sketching stamp size nudes. It occured to me that a necessary difference here was accorded by the very fact that I was present with me. I had never driven a DeLorean into the future.
The future wasn't THE future, either. It was A future. One of infinite possibilities. I wondered how many different people I must have been in the past. Perhaps I would be shocked to meet them as well - not recognise them at all. The prospect didn't excite me as much as I expected it to. Was I casting ghostly shadows all over my past, or were I always ghostly shadows of all I could have been? It was all too confusing and sad.
I got into the DeLorean and headed back to where I had started, except I had completely lost my way. I knew the time, but not the dimension. How would you define a location in split infinite spacetime anyway? Hang left off the 30-11-09 @ 16:43:33 and take the 23rd synaptic exit at the turnpike? Without a manual, I landed square in the middle of a now with no technology to further power the DeLorean. Classic Hollywood dilemma.
So I sold the parts, killed myself and took my own place in the world. Nobody suspects a thing. For everybody else, the world is as usual - just as it was a year back, except for the calendars and diaries.
But I know better. Lately, things have been changing too fast. Way too fast.
Thursday, 02 April 2009
The green gate doesn't shut completely, but they are clearly closed for the day. Not surprising - it's almost midnight. Through the gap in the padlocked door, I can see a pot-bellied man sitting on the floor, surrounded by a colourful chaos of dying leaves and flowers. He doesn't seem interested. With his back against the table, he has sprawled his lungi-clad legs in front - much like a large human compass ready for action. His focus remains on counting a large wad of money in his hands, and on scratching his hairy belly from time to time.
With profound foreboding, yet strengthened by a strong sense of purpose, I knock.
O bhai, phool milega kya?
Nahi, nahi. Bandh ho gaya.
De do na, yaar. Please. Girlfriend ko manana hai.
Arre, abhi nahi milta.
Malik, dekho na, please. Jhagada ho gaya, yaar, hamara.
Arre, yeh koi time hai kya jhagada karne ka? Abhi toh kuchh nahi milega.
Kuchh toh batao, yaar. Scene ho jaayega. Bekaar ka bawaal kar ke khud ka chutiya kaat ke aa raha hoon.
Bhai, phir toh khud hi wapas chale jaao. Shayad April Phool samajh kar maan jaaye.
Monday, 21 April 2008
I am 11. Already, I go to the library alone. It is a treacherous route, I like to think, from Kidderpore to Ekbalpore and beyond. The difference in these worlds is discernible almost immediately as I turn left from Mansatala Row, down Pipe Road. At the corner is a hair salon. We call it 'saloon', as does the text arched across its window.
It looks like it belongs to an old Westerner. I have been there only once, but its sepia bleached interiors have made it an easy memory for me. Swing doors, hat racks, faded newspapers with curly serif fonts, dusty mirrors and gossip about the race tracks. Bits of hair now fly around the unknown creased faces I associate with it.
One day, quite suddenly, the place was gone. I wouldn't know when. I hadn't been looking for it till I knew it wasn't there. I try to recollect, even now, what shop or service replaced that old saloon. But I cannot. Though the tailor next door still operated out of its blue tube-lit corridor, its neighbour had disappeared like an optical illusion at the wrong angle.
I am 11. And Pipe Road divides Kidderpore and Ekbalpore, the Hindus and the Muslims. The distinction is apparently important. I have, at 11, educated myself to identify rowdy boys with sleek, jet black hair and chiseled features as Muslims. They are abusive and volatile. Muslims, I learn on Pipe Road, are either barbers or tailors, or own meat shops or small roadside restaurants.
After leaving a conspicuous garbage dump behind, Pipe Road opens into Diamond Harbour Road. A little to the right is my school. A poster seller displays his wares on its rough, red walls. Religious depictions of all kinds find unity here, as do sport icons and film stars. And Bruce Lee from Enter the Dragon. He is a phenomenon.
On the other side are tram tracks that continue forward even when the road is cut into a four-way intersection. I am 11. I cross the busy road and take a left from Diamond Harbour Road toward Alipore Zoo.
I am told it is the biggest zoo in India. It has many birds and animals, and it smells like disease. I used to like going there, but I could not find the giraffe enclosure on my own every time I went. That bothered me to no end. Where were they hiding the giraffes? Later, I'd go there only to smoke in relative secrecy. I used to mouth fag, but this was to happen much later. Now I am 11. And I go walking by.
Straight ahead, if you cross the road, are the palatial gates to the National Library, the largest library in India (I am told, again). But these gates are closed. They are merely a secondary entrance, and hence shut forever. Kolkata logic. I walk left, and it is a long walk till I meet the Zoo exit. Here, I cross the busy road and find myself at the entrance to the library grounds. White lions, I believe, sculpted in stone, await the weary booklover.
Inside, there are trees. And that is an understatement.
Bird poop everywhere. Like lime on forgotten paan leaves, they streak the august ground. A trek later, I am at the stairs, the library doors. Here, I walk past. Ahead, to the right, forgotten in a corner is a door that marks the free entrance to the childrens' section.
The smell of books everywhere, old and new. Mostly old. Heavy books, hardbound covers softened with age. Light books, pages tattered and worm eaten. It feels like coming home.
I was 11. Now, at 26, all routes in Kolkata are treacherous. I dare not cross the street. And dust flies off the books in my grandfather's cupboard to give me an allergy.