Thursday, June 30, 2011

so in this story

everywhere becomes so beautiful
when you are around

but sometimes when you aren't
this turns into a sad little story.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

now that the time for writing has come

last night
with myself on a scooter and the rain all over me
and my thirsty tongue pointing towards the sky
the rain and i
we made a beautiful poem

on my tongue it tasted
wet and sweet

i've forgotten it now
but i hope the rain still remembers.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

so in this story (ii)

my baby is lost
is sleeping on a frown
while god sits beside him
and looks upon him with wide eyes

my baby with sunglasses
turns away from the light

baby, you are my pot of gold
take off your glasses
for me
start to shine.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Be Water (iv)

For us, adulthood meant uncoiling from each other, crawling out of the skin we were born into and drifting apart, taking part of the journey with new people, but mostly just alone. Unwinding the common placenta from our necks, we've arrived at a true flowering of ourselves; we are finally free. When we're face to face, it is not his face I look at; weary of looking into the other's eyes, afraid to find ourselves all too familiar, living inside. Looking away, I wonder what's really true in our flowering and whether where we've peaked at isn't merely a plateau.

When it began, we toddled into the school gates together dressed in uniforms that looked like sailors' suits. With delighted faces, red cheeks fit to be apples of mother's eyes, we entered rooms - walls covered in colored paper, furniture aligned in rows unlike anything we'd seen at home, chairs filled with young faces just as delighted as our own.  We tumbled along, learning alphabets, climbing grades, letting sharp shrieks emanate from our tiny bodies as they bobbed and swooshed around the playground. When we tripped and fell, we picked ourselves up clumsily and that innocent grazing of a knee healed quickly. Endlessly we chattered about things of absolute importance in our abundant, little lives while adults looked on with awe, listening intently.

We should have known that entering these gates would lead to a slow and steady departure from the innocence of childhood. Each passing grade left us decidedly more knowledgeable, disciplined, self assured – as if the formula of life was written between pages of our alphabet books. The more we wanted to speak, those in charge of us lost the smile on their faces until we learned to keep our questions to ourselves. We burrowed our little heads in textbooks, although they did not contain any answers. When my parents decided to change schools for him, we knew little about how expensive this boarding school education was going to turn out to be. Maybe he ended up speaking more than he should have there, maybe not enough, but when we weren't looking, they beat him up. And while the intent was to beat him into shape, I think all the shaping left scars so deep, even those unwounded could not forget.

Before institutions like schools tainted our experience of life and while our half aanaa backyard was still the entire world to us, did we ever make mistakes? I don't remember either of us ever doing anything wrong, although consistently notorious we were.  As children, unschooled, we were our own teachers and our mistakes always led us eventually to the right places. In school we learned to identify our mistakes as wrong. Each mistake we made turned us a little sour, humiliated, ashamed, staining our consciousness, eroding into our self esteem.

When being ourselves began to feel wrong, we took refuge in facades, facades that hardened into personalities helping us become unique, identifiable, socially acceptable. We clung to those identities like we still cling to the edge of our sleeves in winter to prevent the warmth of our bodies from escaping. We couldn't afford to let our real selves escape out into the real world. We could no longer embarrass ourselves, make mistakes, admit defeat. At any cost we had to prevent the real from spilling out of us.

Like everyone else, we are made of yearning, curiosity, love; we are made of creativity, imagination and the capacity to relate. But most of all, we are made of water – and it is inherent in us, the desire to flow. When things couldn't flow, they began to leak out anyway.

He drew. I wrote. We let insanity pour out of us in unreasonable proportions through our mediums. During late nights free of institutional obligations, we confided to sheets of paper printing on them our versions of questions about life, love and the universe. We also confided in friends whom we invited back home because school time, cut into equal portions of academic 'periods', did no justice to the potential friendships offered. While sipping coffee in our dimly lit kitchen late into the night, we talked and shared our thoughts, let ideas infuse and grow. We talked about One Hundred Years of Solitude like it was a book that could change your life from the moment you touched the first page. Back then, books still changed our lives. Conversations oozed out of us, pricking our minds and bodies, giving us goose bumps, making our synapses edgy.

With a misplaced priority, academics attacked us to make us ready for the world. School replaced spontaneity, grades replaced inquisitiveness, mediocrity replaced metabolism, duplicity replaced authenticity, half hearted replaced wholesome. Within thick and shiny exteriors, we carried fragile, distorted souls. Our commitment to hypocrisy strengthened in spite of ourselves. By the time we exited school we realized the real world was a cruel, demanding, oppressive, prejudiced, and reductive place. Cold, docile, submissive, incapacitated, we were ready for the world.

Nowadays, it takes courage to look into him. In the rare moments that I find the courage, I can spot a crack on his shell and peering in, I see pale shadows of the real thing. Like today, when I saw remnants of the six year old boy I once used to know with gleaming eyes, unsure of himself, asking questions he's unable to answer, as if sowing seeds of unanswerable questions today will bring forth fruits of wisdom in the future. He says he is painting again, but how it's difficult to remain true to art while coming up with a politically motivated agenda for creating it.

Look at your eyes gleaming. What are they gleaming with, but water?

Be like water; let it flow out of you; stay in tune with your emotions and you'll know exactly what to do are words I offer.

We part for the day, but are there invisible threads tying us together again?

(Published in today's Kathmandu Post. Lucky me.)

Friday, June 17, 2011

wild nights and mild epiphanies

last night the moon, it was so tender
and all it seemed to be telling me was to let my body move.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Dhobi Ghat from February | this blogger experiments with prose

You walk into the movie theatre wrapped in an invisible cloak of silence. A 120 rupees ticket is more than you'd expected to pay at this shabby looking cinema hall. The small yellow ticket is thin and translucent - you're immediately suspicious of whether it will get you a real seat inside the theatre.

As the movie starts, you're glad you came to watch it alone. Often, your own words and commentary are so abundant and abrasive, you barely get time to absorb and appreciate the films you watch. But not today. Today, you've come to face a film one on one.

Into the first scene, you feel the distance between yourself and the screen evaporate as Yasmin begins her story. Yasmin is easily the most captivating character in the film, presented to the audience in a collage of visual fragments she creates to send as letters to her brother. Viewing these clips from the same positions as those Yasmin shoots from, you find yourself slipping into Yasmin's shoes to feel as she feels, to live has she lives.

As the most pervasive presence in the film, Shai is in the vulnerable position to be the least likeable. You're not going to say that anything is unlikeable about her. The young woman whose name you don't know has done a great job of playing this role. But by the end of the movie, you've almost forgotten her. The actor has been getting a lot of praise for her portrayal of Shai, but you wonder why nobody has bothered to mention anything about Yasmin.

For it is Yasmin's smile, her laugh, her voice that clings to you. There is an earnestness in her tale, an innocence. It is almost as if she doesn't really belong in the film, but being part of it, she manages to infuse it with new life.

For the first time, you find it effortless to like a character played by Aamir, a reclusive voyeur who is enchanted by the elusive Yasmin available to him only through video tapes through which she consciously constructs herself. Aamir's Arun speaks barely anything through the course of the movie and it is in the lack of dialogues that his acting achieves a rawness, a freshness that is still untainted by his stardom. In the film, Aamir is invisible, and thus Arun blossoms.

It is not the decided worth or quality of this film that captivates you. Your feelings towards the film are just as ambiguous as the film itself. But by the time it ends, you are packed with emotions. Empty of the understanding of the plot, but packed with emotions.

The film is less a story, more an evocation of feeling. And as you walk out of the theatre, amidst dissatisfied viewers who feel cheated of their money at the movie that showcases no tantalizing lives, no charming characters, and tells no tangible story, you feel as though you're a segment of the film trailing on in real life long after the movie has ended - without a tantalizing life, with an incomplete sense of self, and an ambiguous, intangible story many may feel unworthy of being told.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

mutilate (ii)

this body is a collage stitched together by gazes that pierce.

so in this story...

the rain came down
and tickled my memory

and inside it
i found you giggling.

because you do not own a phone and i miss you and wanted to say hello and i know you'll eventually come here snooping around looking for a poem about you. so there.

you do know that
whenever you're dancing
i like to watch you

as your frail body flaps back and forth like a white sheet of paper
and those untidy curls bounce on a head like medusa's
a smile sprouts from within the forest of your bushy beard

that smile
is a smile that tells me
you've finally caught on to the cosmic joke

you must know that
i like to watch you with envy

you really have risen to the occasion of god with arms open
haven't you
you infectious thing

it's too late to hold on to just envy
isn't it

i like what i can taste on the tip of my soul's tongue.

Friday, June 10, 2011

be water (iii)

i sat between rocks
facing the river
my bottom cold
with the sand underneath
wet with dew
but tightly packed
like grain hugging grain
locks warmth

next to my large feet - tentacle-toes included -
a tiny photograph
with only the pudgy toed feet of my master
lazy pixels held together
a tiny, grainy photograph

the wind curdled behind my back
wet things gurgled underneath the water
half invisible - distinctly alive

on that side of the hills
dawn was long
and journeyed into all shades of gray before
it touched the sun

i let the ganga be wind and grain and the shadow of trees
toes curling - grains in between
i let it be the alternating rhythms of
movement and calmness
sound and silence
i let it be what conspires between source and destination
i let it be something on the edge of which i sat

anything but water

had i stretched out my hand and touched it
had i made a move
and moved and moved
into the water
i might have known

with water

you must start shallow
before it turns deep

my solitude has been a
yearning for depth
while i forgo all things deep

i resisted washing

have turned to

Thursday, June 9, 2011

like water VI

at ease.

like water V

our faces as they turn towards the sky
mouths open
waiting for the rain.

like water IV

sipping conversations with tea
at dusk

like water III

looking out the window of a tattered bus
on my way from madanapalle to bangalore

the rain, it brought out the true colors of the earth
and pressed wet memories into my heart

firm forever
memory of rain sealing cracks
healing hearts
penetrating sacred spaces
where nothing fades and none can be forgotten

every time it rains like that though, even here in kathmandu,
water deepens the color of memory
and hearts find new comfort in breaking for old reasons.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

like water II

like water
clinging to your skin

like water
waiting to evaporate

like water
clinging to cycles of eternal life
and eternal doom.

like water

like water
so keen to touch
like water
irreverent of boundaries

spilling, seeping, soaking, wet
therein lies my desire to possess

better than good keeps us together
together we grow worse
better no longer is good enough
and soon it's best to stay apart

at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter who we end up with

on some days, i turn into water
and while i touch you with the palm of my hand
and my fingers stroke your cheeks
you probably think they are just tears



feeling like water these days
like i'm made up of water
like i'm being washed over and over again
like i'm always ready to dripdrip

i've been listening to all these new songs lately
and i dont know...
it makes me want to be mute
and wear these songs on my body
like clothes
and let that be my face and my eyes and my words and my smile to the world
between its hellos and goodbyes.

might i mention here how much you tire me, world.

something needs to change now
this needs to turn towards
documenting authentic living

i think i met a love bomb today
which is why suddenly being watery and lost and frail falling apart like i've been all this while
amounts to a beautiful thing
where i'm flowing
and sparkle every which way

something needs to change now
still hasn't changed
into something where what we lose isn't the authentic.

it's a good thing these songs never seem to end.