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.

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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.

Gone Case

Into the middle of things, I drive myself daily, and get a bit lost…
Into the midst of your diamond-like words, I push a pebble, and suffer silence.
Into the heart of truth, I send a lie, and die a little.
Into the aura of your presence, I enter, and disappear a little.
Into the bubble of your reality, I squeeze in, and burst at the seams.
Into the light of your being, I step foot, and extinguish a little.
Into you, I am, and I’m gone completely.

Unspoken

Simi rushed upstairs, in a fit of anger and agitation, and fainted all of a sudden as she reached the upper landing in front  of her bedroom door.

After twenty minutes…

“How do you feel now?” asked Kevin, placing a pillow under her head.

“I’m feeling fine. Thank you,” said Simi, with a weak smile. She felt extremely delighted by his earnest gestures and concern but was careful not to show it on her face.

“Okay, sleep and I’ll come back tomorrow. Same time,” said Kevin and left the house. Within no time Simi dozed off to sleep under the effect of her sleeping pills.

Simi woke up after a few hours expecting to see Kevin reading a book in the living room, or fixing something in the garden. But he wasn’t there. She then remembered that he had left in the morning and had promised to be there the next day. She bit her lip in disappointment. She looked around at the room, the empty couch, the piano, the recliner that he bought her, and the soft beige carpet under her feet. The emptiness was overpowering. For her, like many, loneliness was something she could never get used to no matter how many years she lived with it. But, unlike many, she could not even get used to simple human interactions such as social visits from friends or family;  solitude was  precious. She watered the houseplants and cooked some  pasta for dinner.

After eating, she picked the phone to call Kevin but declined on second thoughts. She wondered where he was. She went upstairs to her bedroom, sat by her writing table and tried to add a chapter to her new novel. It was snowing outside her window and there were cars passing on the street below. She noticed snow flakes randomly choosing to settle on her window sill, one by one, accumulating, as if to bury her alive in an icy grave, unnoticed by the world outside. She pondered some  more and it made her dizzy. She could hardly add a sentence to her book; she was too tired that day to meet the demands – of  high wit, active dialogue, new emotions – of the characters she herself created so fondly for her novel. She switched the lights off  and slipped under the warm quilt.

The next day Kevin appeared at her front door as he promised, looking dashing as ever. She could smell the cologne that she was getting addicted to. He got her flowers too. Yellow and white roses, her favorite. Simi felt suddenly conscious of her disheveled hair, her puffy eyes and her shabby appearance. She excused herself to freshen up and get dressed. She put on a  nice new cardigan and jeans; they had breakfast together.

He asked, “How is the novel coming along?”.

“Fine,” she said, looking at the collar of his white cotton shirt.

“You deserve a better, bigger publisher this time.” She didn’t respond to his suggestion. Her face started showing signs of worry.

“I found one to save you the trouble. He agrees to all your terms too. Talk to him when he calls,” said Kevin with a warm smile, as always solving all her problems as his own.

Her face brightened at once. She looked towards him and before she could thank him he nodded his head sideways and said, “I’m your friend, darling. Eat your breakfast in peace now.” After breakfast he cleared the table and she went upstairs to get her writing pad and ink.

He sat at the piano by the time she came down. He started playing music on the instrument; a song she hadn’t heard before.

His music filled her with new emotions, new sentiments, new character. She fulfilled the demands of all her characters, effortlessly. Her pen danced on the paper to the tune of his passionate song. She penned down a good number of pages before he reached the end of his musical exercise.

“Read it out for us, please…” she requested, blushing her cheeks as he took the sheets of paper from her. He abided. Her freshly concocted love scene, being read in his melodious voice, was like a lullaby to her…she drifted into a dreamless sleep. By the time she had woken up, he was making lunch and on the table beside her was a chocolate box. She had opened it quickly as she felt quite hungry. There were no chocolates, only a diamond ring.

She slowly walked into the kitchen, with  the ring in one hand, and stood before him with tears in her eyes. He got down on his knees, held her right hand and asked her the question, for the third time, guessing her answer. This time, unlike the last two times, she hadn’t fainted at his proposal. She pulled her hand back as she was too shy of his touch, she just dropped the ring in his pocket, and said, “Don’t.” He understood her, he understood everything then; he just needed to hear her speak – anything – when she was calm, unagitated. He said, “I know what you want. Preserve the ring.  It belongs to you, only you…” , showing that he understood her. Her heart leapt in joy but she only smiled at him and took the ring from him.

After lunch Kevin left. Both of them were at ease again, after the awkwardness that prevailed in varying degrees over the last two months – ever since he first popped the question.

She eventually finished her book, and many other books in the subsequent years, and dedicated all of them to Kevin. Kevin had her at all his concerts as the chief guest. They often talked of love, but only in the context of characters in books and films. They attended weddings, parties, award ceremonies together. The ring was safe in her possession all those years. They spent even more time together in their old age. She wrote him short stories, love stories, bedtime stories…while he sang to her in his beautiful voice everyday.

She wished to be buried with the ring when her time came.  He was laid to rest next to her. They were devoted to each other. He loved her and she loved him, in popular language. Their love was unspoken, not unrequited.

(Photo courtesy: http://fourlettersword.blogspot.com/2010/04/why.html)

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Susanna’s Seven Husbands

Susanna, sixteen and sweet as honey
loved a boy in her Spanish class.
Cute he was, hadn’t much money,
but soon exchanged rings of brass.
Features fine, manners he lacked many;
soon into his grave she let him pass!

A pleasant gentleman made her stop
at his backyard daily where his roses grew.
He too watched, shyly, at her coffee shop
pretty Susanna who was nearly twenty-two.
Married when, in a letter, the question popp’d
but his laconic love made poison bid him adieu!

Touring the world, she met a rich man;
talkative, humorous, a handsome Dutch.
A man of many hobbies – he wrote,swam,ran…
He loved to talk – of his hobbies and such;
She wedded him when they visited Japan;
also, aptly silenced him as he talked too much!

Thirty, lovelier, more mature,
took to poetry in her idle evening hours;
would read and relish lines so pure
by tranquil poets of love, nature, stars…
So married she, out of innocent allure;
a poet, infidel – soon pushed up daisy flowers!

Forty and pretty, love she did crave;
found a doctor, her suitor, lovable for sure.
After marriage, more and more love he gave,
said often, “For my sadness, it’s the cure…”
till the day she plonked him into his grave.
She thought his love too selfish to endure!

For a very brief period, she married a professor
-a scientist, genius, unselfish, naive-
for he said, “Marry me now,” in a puerile manner
and waited very long, from husband one to five.
At the end of a month, she, with an electric driller,
bored him to death – as he did, in a way, when alive!

The last of her husbands, but not the least-
he loved her in a way she hadn’t known before…
Sixty, as old as she, handsome, was a holy priest;
Prince Charming was he, the stuff of folklore.
Not a day into wedlock he was among the deceased…
because true love they finally got; and so, she too was no more!

P.S. The inspiration to write on this particular subject came from the title of one of Ruskin Bond’s short stories, ‘Susanna’s Seven Husbands’, on which the yet to be released Bollywood flick, ‘7 Khoon Maaf’ is supposedly based. Though I don’t know a single detail further about the short story as such, I picked up hints from the promos of the film (of it being a dark comedy, of  there being murders of husbands etc. ) to conjure up this amateurish play of words to convey my own imagination of a dark story about Susanna’s seven husbands.

P.P.S. Happy Valentine’s Day. This is the primary inspiration to write about love. It had to be dark because it’s my blog and today I celebrate the first anniversary of my blog.

Nowadays!

The following story and all the characters in the story are purely fictitious…

“Nowadays, every five minutes or so, I have to keep telling myself that it is not the end of the world.
Things seem to be going wrong almost EVERYDAY.
                      Like, three weeks back, I had the biggest fight ever with my boyfriend, on Valentine’s day, and as a result, we broke up after promising never to see each other again. And there is absolutely no hope of getting back together because long before the break-up, we reached a point where we couldn’t stand each other’s company for more than a minute. In fact the only thing that was holding us both together till then was the Valentine’s week’s excitement…yeah, weird as it may sound, we exchanged teddy bears, chocolates, and stuff, just like any other couple in love. He is smart but, I guess he is just incapable of love. I’m feeling better that I got out of that meaningless relationship anyway.
                       Just last week,  after a long series of disputes, my parents finally decided to separate forever. I tried desperately to settle things between them. They seemed just too immature to do anything about peacefully solving their silly problems and misunderstandings. Even if I’m their child, it is not like I can’t comprehend the problems faced by two working people in their married life. I had relationships too. They wouldn’t listen to anybody… not even my grandparents. Fine.
                       And two days back, I had the greatest shock of my life when I got a call from mum about my little sister…sis met with an accident, she said, when she was crossing the road. She got hit by a motorcycle. It was Saturday night and I was hanging out with my friends when mum called. I immediately drove down to the hospital, crying and sobbing all the way. I found her with mum and poor mum looked very disturbed. Sis was fine, after all, no major injuries. 
                       Yesterday, I finally found the time to go to the tattoo place that my friends have suggested. I parked my new car outside. It is silvery blue in colour and I still have to christen it. My dad bought it for my birthday last month. It was a surprise actually. My best birthday surprise ever! Well, I went in and got my favourite fairy tattoo on my wrist. My first tattoo! I came out in flying colours and hell! I didn’t notice the tiny Latin lettering on the wings of the fairy. I got it pierced into my skin without noticing the details. I rushed back in to know what it meant, hoping it was something nice…atleast something sensible. The woman translated it to me, with the dirtiest smirk on her face; she said, “It is ‘Hairy fairy’.” I came back out to the parking space, feeling horrible. And bloody hell! My car! Its left tail light cover came off and was lying on the ground. It got hit by something. But thank heavens, just some minor scratches in the rear…fine!
                         And, for the latest mishap, believe it or not, today morning, when I was on the phone with my best friend, wishing her ‘Happy Women’s Day’, the most disastrous thing ever happened to me- my first period. I didn’t want it to happen so soon. I mean, I’m just 13.”

Happy Women’s Day!!

…also, this story is a spinoff from the discussion with a friend on ‘teen freedom, how childhood is changing, and the transition from childhood to adulthood happening too soon in teenagers nowadays’