Just a pretty face

I read in an article somewhere that people who think they are not beautiful tend to mistakenly believe that the declared beauties (or the conventionally beautiful people) of the world are unconditionally happy and at peace with themselves. I too had believed the same about beauty being the ultimate immunity from melancholy and insulation from mental unrest until I started recognizing my own beauty as conventional and explicit.

I remember reading that article with a sort of sympathetic feeling towards the lot of people who are resigned to the belief that they are not born beautiful, and subsequently believe that there is a higher level of happiness which is forever inaccessible to them. That is to say, I did believe then that I would’ve been not as happy as I was had I been (or considered myself) a little less beautiful than I thought I was. I was passively vain: if not about being pretty exactly, then at least about having no explicit ugliness in my appearance.

And, by the time I came to write this poem titled ‘Just a pretty face’ in 2012, I think the notion that it’s more important to be happy than to be beautiful had became strongly rooted in my heart. Also, maybe I was striving philosophically to feel happy while disassociating with the idea that I was beautiful/pretty, as a clear differentiation was being made in mind between ‘believing one is beautiful and deriving happiness out of it’ and ‘believing one’s happiness is not bounded by one’s idea of one’s beauty’.

‘Just a pretty face’ is a short verse that I wrote about two years back for posting in a website (hellopoetry.com). It was a spontaneous effort to translate into words an idea that crossed my head that day (March 22, 2012). I think it’s a great translation, by my standards, because it makes perfect sense to me even today and it brings back a picture of what my sentiments and my idea of beauty might have been that had propelled me to write about ‘misplaced sentiments’ in the tone I used in the poem.

Just a pretty face

If misplaced sentiments were like pimples
on odd places of the face
then I’d pop each and every one of them
until my face hurt, bled, and got mutilated.
With one of those pimples would go
the sentiments attached
to my otherwise pretty face.
I’d be a happier person.

Tweet-sized

The last time I was prompted to write 16-word stories was in 2007/8 for a website. They came in a flood and I did not record them on this blog.  The website was pulled down sometime between then and now and today, I feel nostalgic about the spurt in creativity I experienced around that time at IIT-K and I long to revisit the stories to learn what I was like back in 2007/8 as seen from 2014. Sigh!

So, I’m now recording a tiny collection of tweet-sized stories that I enjoyed writing today on being prompted by Miss U, one of my favorite kiddos:

1. He wrote her a love letter in blood. She relished every word of it…before she could read it. She’s a vampire, now hungry for more.

2. Sex bored her. She prayed to Satan to revive her libido. Her libido improved, and appetite too, when he turned her into a black widow spider.

3. She sat a little away from her crush daily. He is her Sun and she, the Earth. Their separation is necessary, and distance sufficient.

4. He begged her, “Stop it!”

She lit the candle a minute and blew off the flame. Lit it again and blew again. His pleading waned as the candle melted. She had turned him into a candle at his, “Hey bitch, blow me!”

[^Couldn’t cut this down to tweet-size]

5. “So long, and thanks for all the fish,” said the female fish to the male fish with a long penis, after a satisfying session of copulation towards procreation.

Happy birthday, Blog!

Dearest Blog,

I can’t seem to recollect your year of birth. Sorry, for being such a callous mother, or should I call myself Creator? ‘God’ should be apt in this scenario, don’t you think? You must’ve turned 4 today, if my memory is any good. I am fighting off the urge to check the archives (for the date of the first blogpost) until I finish writing what I woke up in the middle of the night to write. As you well know, I’m suffering from a severe lack of inspiration to write and, as ashamed as I am to admit it, I ought to confess that the driving force behind this particular post is the lack of mental drive to recall your date of birth from memory. I lulled my mental facilities into a convenient coma over the last so many months I’ve kept myself away from you. At first, the lulling was actively facilitated by the urbane professional occupation I leaped into after graduating from a business school. Later, it passively continued in the short-spanned state of inactivity I committed myself to right after I quit the anti-Utopian job. It’s been two and a half months of complete and satisfactory levels of inactivity till date..with the only disappointment being my absence from the blog. I don’t expect you to empathize. My love for writing, and thereby for you, is not insincere. It’s more correct to label it my insecurity than anything else. The moments of exhilaration and that tempestuous stirring of inspiration I feel with you when words just pour out of me in eager enthusiasm, surpass even the fiercest passions of a love affair, or ‘breathing human passion’ as Keats calls it. Yet, I hesitated to come here for the fear of proving to be a poor writer. A complete state of inactivity has garnered for me a sense of peace and quiet over the last two months: I was afraid that a failed attempt at writing anything good would damage that sense of tranquility I was nestled in.

Today, I pledge to be more expressive of my love for you by writing regularly. The insecurity prevails but I couldn’t keep away from wishing you on your birthday. I love you.

Happy birthday, Blog!

With Love.

Happy Valentine’s Day, to all!

Hunger

That’s the name of the book I’m trying to read. Hunger. Or at least, it’s the name of the book that is on my mind most of the time these days, although I’m really reading another book which is a pretty decent one. It’s on the top of my mind especially when I’m hungrily shopping for more books even before I’m done with the pretty decent one and a pile of others fighting to be read next.

That’s the name of the predominant sensation I experience every day, may be because I eat very little – may be not more than a little bite a day when I’m in the mood – and that may be because I can barely sense the taste of food when in public spaces – like a restaurant, a mess, a family dinner, a lunch break at office and that sort of a thing.

That’s the name of love that is not reciprocated at all, or worse  yet: that which is returned in meager doses. It is also another name for lust. Love. Lust. Hunger. What sin, what pain, what pleasure.

That’s the name of everything that drives every man to do what he does. That’s the inner voice, the spirit, the sinner and the saint, the will and the winter within.

That’s the name of self-penance, the pleasure of punishing the self. Being the master and the slave. Being the torture and the victim.  The offence and the defense. The test and the outcome. The victory and the failure. The victory is to survive hunger that long and the failure is to not survive it for much longer. Hunger prevails over hunger.

Hunger is what I’d like to call you, my love, if not for your beautiful name, because I want you so bad all the time but I know I’d die if I have you for any longer than this. You are good for my soul in little doses. I think I can kill you any day with just one good meal but you aren’t really dead, are you? You are just temporarily buried under all the barbecue chicken and mushroom sauce and chocolate mousse; you come back to me the next day or the day after, and I receive you with open arms just the same and lie down over there with you, under the sheets, curled up and delirious, happy and hoping to die of you some day, some distant day when I’m happier than ever.

Oh Hunger, I love you.

Do you know I am going to leave you?

Today. Maybe, tomorrow. One day I am going to leave you and wouldn’t give you a clue. I’m burning all the letters that ever passed between us, one at a time. The letters you sent that summer you were abroad boning that older woman while writing about how much you missed me. The letters you sent from college while you were still figuring out if you’d fallen in love with me. The letters you sent, while you were trying hard to be a kid at heart, from home where you were catching your breath mostly. I tore up all our pictures in half. I flushed down all the little trinkets you called ‘twinkly valentine gifts’ and shed one solid tear to go along. I’m making fast and steady progress, don’t you think? The kids, well, expired. I wonder if you remember how many there were. One sultry Sunday evening we gave birth to four, lying on our bare backs, under the stars. We squeezed in one more a little later that night, and you declared, “let’s have a glorious bundle of five, not four,” because there was still space for one more in the imaginary crib and the imaginary car and we were young enough to accommodate, if only in imagination. It’s not like I had to drown them in the bathtub or anything. I don’t think of them and they don’t exist therefore. One way or another, the physical objects and the imaginary ones are shown the exit door. What would I do with the memories though? They stick on to me like skin. Last Sunday the skin on my fingers got burnt by accident on a hot plate. It pained like hell that day. Over the last one week I couldn’t feel anything on those burnt parts of my hand. But, today when I woke up I saw the skin on those fingers started peeling off painlessly. How do I make the same happen to my memories of you, and your letters, and your trinkets and the babies?
I’m positive I’ll figure out a way soon and the day I do that I would leave you without giving you a clue, just the way you did.

Olivia’s husband

Part I

Olivia left home for work at the usual time that day.  Onir stood at the threshold of the house every day to look upon Olivia’s lovely frame till she disappeared around the corner. That day, she walked away from home slowly and without looking back, and paused only to pluck flowers along the way. Gently she plucked them – the magenta flowers of early spring – off the shrubs along the blue-gray road – to feel the softness of their petals against her cheeks and eyes – then softly blew them off into space – watching them as they landed delicately on the grass carpet below. They did not bear the fragrance that she had expected. They had no smell at all. She walked away, the flowers forgotten and wilting fast.

Not far behind, Onir walked and paused too, to pick flowers. He picked them off the grass blades, those magenta flowers that he wouldn’t leave lying there for the insects to feed upon. He remembered to take them back home and put them in a vase. Every day. He remembered to breathe life into them, to slacken the wilting, even if it was just for a couple of hours more. The way the flowers tumbled towards the ground – alighting on the blades of fresh green grass that then brushed against Olivia’s dark blue stockings as she walked off – that… he wished to remember forever.

The flowers had wilted in the vase, by sunset, before Olivia returned home from work each day. They fought that night too, husband and wife. This time over bills and payments. He dragged her by her arm, into the bedroom – latched the door, to be unheard by curious neighbors – slapped her across her face – she cried – their argument ended there. Olivia  stopped crying and Onir was on the verge of a breakdown outside the bedroom. The screams that night were the worst by far. The flowers drooped dead by now.

After concluding the fight, Olivia and her husband emerged from their bedroom, for dinner. Olivia’s tired eyes fell on the faded magenta flowers in the dining room but maybe she didn’t recognize them from that morning. She didn’t seem to try anyway. Morning and evening were like parts of two different lifetimes for her – she couldn’t recall one when she was in the other. She blew her nose into a handkerchief, ran her hands through her long, black hair to set it straight. Husband and wife sat themselves at either end of the dining table. Onir, the butler, looked at her helplessly as he began to serve dinner to the couple.

Part II

With the tip of her index finger she flicked off a tear that had flown over her cheek from one corner of her right eye. That made her suddenly remember the tenderness of the flaring magenta flowers on her cheeks, and her eyes, that morning. She recognized the faded flowers now. She shot a glance in Onir’s direction; he was nervously pouring water out of a jug into her glass.

Her glance persisted and quietly pressed Onir to look into her eyes. He gathered up all his courage, peeled his diligent eyes off the jug to look into her watery eyes – eyes that posed a question.  Onir briefly swept his deep blue eyes across her tear-stained face – her eyes, her cheeks, her nose, her lips – and in that fraction of time he effectively communicated the answer she sought and more. Onir proceeded to the other edge of the table and poured out another glass of water for the husband who was busy gulping down the contents of his plate to leave the table as soon as possible. Olivia smiled at her husband who was not even looking in her direction; she smiled at the dead flowers on the table; she smiled at the plate of food and the glass of water in front of her. Dinner was done in a few minutes after that. Onir cleaned the table for the couple’s breakfast of next morning. She slept peacefully that night.

Part III

The next day, after breakfast they wanted red roses for their bedroom. Olivia walked down to the flower-beds in the backyard to pick some. Onir, who at long last gathered the guts and got rid of his lover’s abusive husband the previous night, set the table for lunch. He forgot to remove the jug of poisoned water the previous night. He replaced that jug with a fine bottle of wine to celebrate. Olivia’s husband turned in his grave below the chrysanthemums in the garden.

Show me a good time!

That’s what I hear my inner voice screaming out to my inorganic exterior every time I go back into the ladies washroom (because it is seemingly private unlike any other space in the office) to check upon how my ‘rich, inner self’ is doing in the course of a workday. That, very often, and some times it repeatedly warns me with a nervous twitch, “Abhi meeting hain, aur leakage ki tension” where leakage is not as in a Whisper ad, but as in ’emotional leakage’. Yes, I need to be warned because I find it excruciatingly painful to have to conceal signs of revulsion – like nausea, shortness of breath, palpitations, shakiness, pins and needles, flushing – when I’m expected to watch a series of videos like this AND applaud AND be moved to tears like every other co-employee, as part of the ‘Office Day’ celebrations presided over by the CEO, once a month. Menstruation is not the worst part of the month anymore.

The CEO of the place I work at eats clichés for breakfast, packs clichés in a lunch-box and force-feeds everyone in office with clichés dipped in condescension. I hate him, much like I hate every one else I come into the slightest contact with at office and my hatred runs to the molecular level…that if you rub off some cells from the inside of my cheek onto a cotton swab while I’m at office and isolate the DNA and then check that DNA under a high-powered electron microscope, English translation of my DNA sequence would read different combinations of the letters H, A, T, E and not A, T, C, G running along the length of every strand. In a manner of speaking. That is extreme epigenetics at play.

As sour and plagued as I may sound by the idea of working a white-collar job, the fact is that I have only had to work for a mere three months minus seven days so far. I am a new yuppie on the bandwagon. I’d managed to squeeze in more weekend parties and reunions and girls’ night-outs than what I estimated I could under two months, given the work conditions. So, I am supposed to be having a good time right now in this new and exciting place but I am not. My soul is still screaming out to the universe to show it a good time. In the middle of a workday, in the middle of a meeting with the snob-stink CEO, in the middle of a regular weekend outing, in the middle of shopping for a good book, in the middle of running into an old friend, in the middle of a good short nap. Nothing I do on the weekend to placate my enraged inner self seems to make up for the A-class shit I have to put it through for the rest of the week.

While I’m spending my precious weekend time every week (of which I just get half because Saturday is a working day) cribbing and mentally reliving the cock-flavored working days of the week like this, every other person I know (in more or less the same situation as me) is enjoying the weekend hours with no thought or flying fuck spared to give to their respective offices/bosses. Why am I not able to do that? I have no logical answer to that but I pose that question to myself every now and then in order to keep up the good habit of introspection or psychological self-preservation.

Some of the statements that emanate out of the sparsely distributed, fleeting moments of my vague introspection: I lost my sparkle and my sense of humor and I know not where to look for those. I struggle to put my thoughts to paper. I am afraid of censure now more than ever. I am afraid of love and I ooze ghosts of my past lovers. I hate to get back in touch with my friends who are married (whether they married total strangers or long-time lovers.) More so if they married their lovers. I believe it is hypocritical and unnatural to marry someone you already love. It’s all over for me now. I enjoy drinking coffee only as much as I enjoy looking at it in pictures. With chocolate, the situation is much worse.

On a side note, some of the things that were waiting all these years to fall into my list of most-hated things ever AND finally did: touch-sensitive phones, friends who talk too much about themselves and not even bother asking what’s up with you, high-school friends who you had no respect for when in high school. There were reasons why you hated someone when in school and those reasons remain whether or not you remember them.