Tuesday, September 3, 2013

mulberry blues


the world is a jackfruit.

that's what you used to say to me. and now i find that i'm often saying it to myself. inside my head. under my breath. i'll pass a green field while riding in the car as my mother drives. sometimes a neon sign. occasionally the indecisiveness of the evening sky as it swiftly changes colour. almost always there is a song sliding through my ears. my mind wanders. and slowly i slip into the music, in and out of reality. a flash in my memory and i'm suddenly reminded of what you said.

and i'll mutter affectionately, "the world is a jackfruit."

what's a jackfruit? mother asks like this is the first time i'm saying it. it's not. in the same car, on the same route, i've bumped across this phrase countless times, and she's asked me many times before. but i can understand. the jackfruit isn't really the best ambassador of fruit. a slip in memory is forgivable.

"katahar," i say. and then i nod at your decision of saying that one phrase in english. in all our conversations we'd stuck to nepali. but "yo sansaar ta euta katahar ho" has nowhere the same power as "the world is a jackfruit." even if our taste buds are more familiar with katahar, jackfruit it is when you want to go all meta.

you know on most days i don't think of you. okay, i think of you everyday, but not with the same intense longing that once drove me insane.

it may have continued that way had you never mentioned how the world is pretty much a jackfruit. just like my mother, i had asked you what the entire deal with comparing the world to a fruit that isn't really a fruit meant.

"when you cut a jackfruit and try to peel it, what happens?" you'd asked.

and "oh it's a messy business," was how i'd responded. "the juice is sticky and it clings to your skin. it makes your hands look dirty. and it won't go away. no matter how much you wash them."

and that was when something went 'click' in my brain. you didn't need to explain any further.

now that you aren't around, you are always in my mind. and you're so there, so resolutely there, that you're no different from that mug that's been lying on my window sill for days. you're so there that i forget to take note of your existence. and then, out of the blue, there are these moments when the balance tips over and i am once again filled with pangs of pain, longing, regret.

and just as i start wallowing in the sadness of never having you as my own, just as i start filling my heart with desire and my head with words like hopeless and excruciating, words i cannot settle into, "the world is a jackfruit" hits me again.

i mutter it aloud, affectionately. i smile to myself. and i pull myself away from illusions i was willing myself into.

there was a point when i thought that if i had not felt pain, i had not loved. and then i came to a point where i felt so much pain that i thought i'd burst and i was convinced that was what love meant. and i wanted to carry that pain with me wherever i went. and i did, for a while. i felt for certain that if i let go of the pain, it would mean that i had never loved to begin with. i'd so far been so miserly about loving that whatever i knew about it were just theories i'd cooked up in my head. and i wasn't going to let go of those ideas. i wasn't willing to let go of the pain.

when you called the world a jackfruit, you weren't just talking about the outer world, were you? the jackfruit is in my head and in my heart, and i make it a daily task of carving dreams out of it, don't i?

you didn't even have to tell me to let go of the pain. when i became certain this was love, and it was such a kind of love as i'd never felt before. the kind of love that really has no shape, no name, nor any limits. that is moving, moving, but utterly directionless. the kind of love that grows so enormous that it crushes under its weight ideas of you and me. the kind of love that makes you want to tilt your head and arch your back and make you bow in gratefulness. the kind of love that makes you go chameleon, soak up the other's hues, their traits, their soul. when i knew that it was really love this time, i stopped the dream factory in my mind. the pain disappeared on its own.

the love is intact, still. but on most days, it is ordinary, like breathing. it is consistent and vital too, just as breathing is. but who's to keep note of it all day long?

especially when the world is ripe, sexy, alluring. dazzling and enchanting. eternally distracting.

there's enough frustration in it to make you go cuckoo. there's sweet pleasure, too, in stealing glances at pretty boys on tv. there's flattery to indulge in, swollen pride to pamper. there's comfort in bitching about inconvenient others. there's money to be made, money to be spent. there's things to be bought. on every shelf in every store, there are items that promise to dilute the essence of your soul. and they must be owned. there are words to be heard, read, spoken. each missing the mark, yet used endlessly. there are wishes and hopes. continuous loops of desire to get entangled in.

and there are dreams to be woven. big dreams, small dreams. harsh dreams, soft dreams. dreams made of eekie puddles on potholes during the rain. dreams made of marshmallow and puppy love. dreams that your mother birthed on you no sooner than when you were born. dreams that reek of ambition. dreams that take the shape of unborn babies. dreams that sway with the wind like green leaves in a rice field. dreams that are eager to destroy. dreams that wish to undo time, progress, civilisation, and at times, intend to outdo the world, set it right, this time. for sure. finally. and that mild, fragrant, most fragile, most delicate dream that floats through intoxicating melodies that you wish would never stop playing.

the world is at once unbearably cruel, utterly beautiful, baffling, cheerful, noisy, boring, tiring, overwhelming. it pulls and pushes with such vigour. everything about it so irreconcilable. everything so sticky. even the silent greeting of a monochrome doormat, or your neighbour's incomprehensible murmur early in the morning that you receive with half-awake ears. all of it sticks. in the midst of all this, i'm glad what has also stuck is your phrase about the jackfruit.

dearest, do you remember how whenever i got the chance i'd come sit beside you. i'd close my eyes and fold my palms on my lap.

it was during moments of silence, when nothing was spoken, that everything was exchanged. you gave me everything then. love. god. beauty. meaning--everything that i hanker for when i am not lathering up against the ball of distraction that is the world.

in your presence i always healed. i felt like you were able to touch me from a much deeper place than the body, with a much more potent tool than the mind. my thoughts would vanish. my body would dissolve into nothing but a warm tingle of atoms. like gold dust dancing in sunlight. and at one point it got me wondering. if being around you could make me feel this way, what must it be like to be you. i may never know. but i know i will never stop wondering.

in a world so topsy-turvy, you really are top quality jackfruit-soluble soap. occasionally out of stock. like these days. i curse my luck and carry on.

because...you know how i am. today i crave. tomorrow i reject. one moment i know who i am, the next i am clueless. i am known to swing between mania and dejection. you would never let me dream, there was no reason for dreaming with you around. and now, every day, i encounter a thousand random ideas. and each idea, even the tiniest one, is all too eager to hatch into a crazy medley of sticky nightmares and dreams. and there you go, that's how i lose touch with reality again.

can i say i don't long for you anymore? longing does nothing but distract me from loving. and i want to love to the core. but for now, colliding with the world is how it's got to be. there's only jackfruit on the menu this side of reality. and sometimes it makes me a little amnesiac about love. but as long as i know what i'm being served, i think i'll survive. i hope every such encounter makes me wiser. until i meet you again and together, we wash our hands clean.

i have missed you.


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