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.

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.

Leftovers from last night!

When my fusty little room is brimming
with leftovers as these from a certain meeting –
your big winter jacket with leather straps,
your weathered pocket book with local road maps,
your box of matches about half-empty,
loose, scattered coins about twenty or thirty,
all left behind on the tabletop, in the dark;
the poetry book you lovingly bookmarked,
the wilting red rose in a fat milk bottle,
my drugged slumber too powerful to throttle;
(hence) your unread message pasted to the door,
with a promise to meet again and so much more,
in the winter garden beyond the street
like crazy teenage lovers, reckless, indiscreet –
I’d buy a glass bowl with that loose change perhaps,
into which would go one of your leather straps,
the wilting rose pressed in my book of poems,
your love message rolled into the bottle,
and a page or two from the tattered guide;
and that bowl will stand by my bedside…
while we steal away into the gleaming moonlight,
with aim and hope to renew our promise by daylight
and thus I mark newer objects for the bowl daily
until all that is yours becomes mine slowly
and all that is mine, yours…
Then we belong to the bowl of memories,
just the two of us, the two of us entirely.
The next winter in the white winter garden
under the falling white snow,
swaying to familiar winter songs,
in a silent bliss,
we might just wonder if
we are that couple in a snow globe!

Two lovers

Two lovers

Things to remember on this Valentine’s Day, especially if you have broken up a relationship recently

Lately having read many a blog-post dripping with cynicism over the tradition of Valentine’s, the overt commercialization, the artificiality of setting aside a day for loved ones, blah blah blah, I, for a change, decided to depart from my own customary cynicism and write something positive about Valentine’s, especially for those of us who are healing the wounds caused by a vicious break-up. After all, there is still space for “love”, the concept as opposed to the emotion, on Earth, in whatever form or method it is practiced. Well, well, I’m atleast trying to be positive.

Love comes in many forms these days. Let me roll out a few examples, as they come to my mind with or without price-tags,…..greeting cards, SMS, e-cards, balloons, cakes, occasional lengthy phone calls, rarely flowers. While these are on the low-end of love tokens, on the high-end they have candle-light dinners, designer clothes, vintage watches, expensive perfumes, diamond-studded  earrings, sleek cars, bungalows, aircraft, nuclear armament…I mean there is no upper limit to it. I don’t mean to underscore the commercial element of it. Money is only secondary; at least, it ought to be so. The reason being – whatever token of love you receive on this symbolic day, it is not as lovely as when you receive it from the man/woman you most desire.

There is a lover in every one of us. While many of us are fortunate enough to be accompanied by a Valentine on this special day, the rest of us can still dream about having that special person by our side in the nearest future. There must be a few of us who may have broken up with  our partners recently. Those of us must be viewing the impending Valentine’s Day as a major stumbling block to the obscenely difficult course of moving on. To this last group of lovers I want to say, cheer up, because there must be better lovers waiting for you elsewhere. Here are a few tips to get yourself back on your feet, feeling great and looking up again.

First and foremost, get out of those social networking websites which can only beleaguer you with a barrage of status updates and photo uploads from people who are ever ready to flaunt their fake love, and loveless gifts from their insincere lovers. (I assure you that those who update their V-Day adventures surely haven’t enjoyed the day as much as they did uploading the pictures in the aftermath. And, if some of those usual self-publicizing dickheads didn’t update it surely means that they didn’t have any worthwhile adventures to share or are just trying to be elusive. So, there is nothing you would likely miss by not logging into those loser-friendly networks anyway, any day.)

Take a warm water bath. Put on your best-loved dress and get out of your cubbyhole. Get yourself some bright-colored fragrant roses, and chocolates… treat yourself.

On this cheerful day spread your love to those who have the capacity to cherish it. Flush out from your fragile mind those unwanted memories of your ex, forever and ever.  Light up his/her photos with a match and wash them down the drain. It works well as surely as it did for Geet and Adi in Jab We Met.

Don’t cringe at posters of romance movies or at the sound of love songs on your i-POD but enjoy them in your new-found freedom.

Gorge on your favorite pastimes in your renewed perspective of being by yourself again.  Try out new clothes, new tastes, new music, new movies, new books, new forms of art.

It is not really a good idea to reconnect with your old friends on V-Day  for you may be risking hearing an aggrandized update of their V-Day news by doing so; but don’t block an old friend from reconnecting with you.

Finally, take a deep breath and take a moment to realize that  the day wouldn’t have been so awesome had you tried to stretch that exhausted relationship this far and spoiled one of the most divine pleasures of mankind – solitude. So congratulate yourself on breaking that unwieldy relationship for the better. Remember not to blame yourself for entering into it or for being the one who was dumped. No mistake is a bad mistake for you get to learn  something from every one of your mistakes. Likewise, no relationship is a bad relationship for you get to learn something from every one of them.

Happy girl

Remember that though it may seem to you presently that every man or every woman, as the case may be, is as big a douche-bag as your ex, it is not quite true.  So do not hesitate to welcome love with open arms into your life. It may come in the form of a cheerful ray of sunlight, or a wild flower blown into your window by a stray breeze; or perhaps, embodied as a lover knocking at your door on this wonderful day.  

(Photo courtesy: http://umangsota.blogspot.com/)