April is the Cruellest Month

April is the cruellest month,
So said the Fool.
When old feelings start unraveling
From a long forgotten spool.

With parched lips I bid goodbye
To every illusion held dear.
My voice was gone, I had no voice
My eyes were dry. No tears.

I remember that April day
In that room that’s up the stairs
Where we made so many promises
That were broken without fanfare.

I remember the kisses
As you bruised my lips
And I in turn had drank you
In those oh-so-sinful sips.

That fateful April night I found
My kingdom in your bed.
But when I looked into your eyes
I found something else instead.

Waves of heat washed over me
As I tossed and turned in sweat
My mind a blur of could-have-beens
A pocketful of regrets.

Well, now you’re gone,
And here I must remain.
I no longer look for you
In my wreaths of daisy chains.

I tried my hand at needlework
Stitching broken bits of my heart
A button here, a pattern there
A patchwork piece of art.

And a bit of you I kept with me
Packed with infinite care
In a wooden box of memories
Sealed with a little prayer.

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Leaves

Is it only autumn when the leaves brown?
Being broken bit by bit
Withering away ever so gently
By the time it’s winter.
A silent farewell midst a riot of
Oranges, yellows and browns.
Picture book pretty even as they die.
So delicate, so fragile
Crumbling at the slightest touch.
Do they never get bruised
In the lushness of spring?

Please Call Again Later

“Your call is waiting…the person you are trying to reach is speaking to someone else…”

I have heard this recorded voice so  many times over the years that it’s almost as if I have formed a strange kinship with the woman saying it. I saw her today, in a little cafe. No, I didn’t recognize her by how she looks. But by her inimitable voice as she ordered a coffee. And I think, a sandwich.

So many times I have found the line busy, her voice my only companion. So many times, as I heard her repeat the same lines over and over, I have thought of her. Wondered how she looked. What she liked eating. Who all were there in her family. So many times, being unable to reach my friends over the phone, I have poured out my heart to her. And only her. She seemed so distant. So nonjudgmental. So mechanically comforting.

And there she sat in front of me. Having a cup of coffee. Probably waiting for someone.

It was an early wintry morning in Calcutta. A slight drizzle, a bit of fog.

What I really wanted was to sit down with her over a cup of coffee. But she was on her phone, trying to call someone. Over and over. Not getting through.

What fun! She must have been hearing her own voice, over and over. Telling herself to wait. Like we all often say. Just that we don’t get to hear it in our own voice.

There was a slight drizzle outside, a bit of fog.

P’s first day at work: G&G Enterprise

“That’s your desk,” the portly man announced with some authority. He fished in his black trouser pockets and pulled a blue and white handkerchief from it, blew his nose in a slow, deliberate manner, and shoved it back into his pocket after a perfunctory peek into it to check whether he had gotten anything interesting.

“Thank you,” I cleared my throat. He blinked at me. Once, twice.
“Well, you better start. We at G&G Enterprise, believe in quality along with quantity.” The fluorescent light made the bald patch on his head gleam. Sleek. He would have looked like a seal, had his face not been pinched into a perpetual scowl. He seemed deeply rueful of the general incompetence of his staff and humanity in general.

He didn’t return my half smile.

He took out a stack of paper from under an exceptionally dusty desk and slammed it on my would-be work space which was equally, cringeworthily dusty. An alarmingly stuffy room in a basement stacked with garbage. Piles of paper staggering ominously on crumbling, wooden desks and tables. One locked steel almirah. A lopsided calendar from two years back on a damp wall. A chair that was to be my seat of honour. And a remarkably stupid painting of flowers in a vase right in front of my desk. It was so ironic that I had to stifle a chuckle. A wastepaper basket filled to the brim with crumpled paper. A pen stand, a diary, a paper weight, a blotter. A telephone that I soon discovered was dead. These were to be my companions for Idon’tknowhowlong.

“Of course we don’t allow smoking under any circumstances. It is against our ethics. We believe in having a strong moral foundation.”

“Of course,” I quietly felt the pack of cigarettes in my pocket.
Officious, bald bastard. I threw my fakest smile at him.

“G&G Enterprise has 15 stellar employees. We are a small family with a solid core,” he said in a proud, scholarly 
voice. “Dedicated to Deadlines. That is our motto,” he paused. Probably for some response from my end.

What shit was he on? What’s with the speech?
“That is rather inspiring Mr K.”

“Very well. I understand you are aware of your work scope and been assigned your daily tasks? I do not tolerate lackadaisical loafers, mind you. I take daily updates and conduct surprise checks. Your generation is all about fast food, fast talking and foolery. Remember, nobody gets a free lunch,” he snickered maliciously at his own little wisecrack.”Anyhow, haven’t got all day to waste. We are very busy people. Any questions?”

“No,” I quietly shook my head.
“Well then! I shall be off now,” he waddled towards the door.
“Uh, Mr K?”
“Yes?”
“Who do I ask for a cup of tea?”
“Tea? Why, there’s a tea stall ride downstairs, across the road. Wonderful stuff for Rs 5/-”

Great. I sat down on my chair and sifted through the pile of yellow papers that I was expected to edit/salvage/study/puke over/burn. How wonderful.

The Feast of Voudon

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The sky glowed iridescent. Streaks of brilliant purple and dull red.

As the thunder growled at an ominously low decibel, the lightning came through in bursts, melting the twilight shades into a puddle. Flecks of ash flew in the air with a bizarre finality. Almost with a sense of purpose.The shadows loomed large. Expectant. Anticipating.

The foot-falls quick and heavy, they made their way. Murmurs and soft chanting as the congregation approached the altar. The smell of sweat and iron in the air ablaze with torches. Silent human eyes reflecting desire. This was no time for patience or forgiveness. The flames glowed scarlet and gold. The lithe bodies swayed, as they formed a circle. Round and round they went. Hand in hand. The chants growing louder.

Neverville shall not sleep tonight. After a long and uninterrupted stretch of rest, it is awake. And tonight, it’s time to celebrate. 

(part of my sketch series.)

Lost in the Woods

lost in the woods

The woodland sounds grew louder as the skies got darker. It was late evening, and the fading daylight died among the trees.

Emily was scared. But she had to be brave for her little brother.

Suddenly, the forest seemed illuminated by a million little lights.
Pairs and pairs of glowing eyes, drawing closer to the two little children.

The trees were coming to life and there was nowhere to run.

(Another sketch I had made.)

Beyond the Garden

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Sunlight on the tips of dew drenched leaves.
The smell of wet vegetation overpowering the air.
Verdant. Evoking newness, the promise of spring.
The cacophony of songbirds as the small, naked feet run out the kitchen door, into the garden.

Lost.

Somewhere in that garden with its orchards and thickets and dangerously twining vines and a dried up fountain with an angel looking up towards the sky with its mouth wide open. Naked. Like the small feet. Innocent in its nakedness. Without a sense of shame. Without the infiltration of sin.

Stark.

The skin breaks into goose-flesh as it grazes the cold marble. As pure and lifeless as ice. The feet now hurry along the wet pebbled pathway, beyond the orchard. Past the tree house. Never looking back at the wooden fences. The kitchen door stays wide open.

The Umbrella Girl

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Dee had seen the leaves falling outside her large, glass window. The leaves were a warm shade of autumn as they fell into piles in her backyard. As a quiet girl of 14, Dee did not have too many friends. What she did have was a lovely, silken umbrella of many, many colours. And it was magical. Each time Dee opened the umbrella, the world changed around her. It’s true. Through its shade, everything around seemed just a shade brighter, the smiles a bit wider, and flowers more fragrant. So whenever Dee went out, she always carried it with her and happiness rushed in, quickening all her senses, as her long legs took big strides and she disappeared around some corner.

(This is something I had sketched, some time back. I was playing around with patterns. My sketches tends to automatically veer towards childhood for some odd reason.)

Breaking the Hiatus

It’s been a long, long time, since I have blogged. Primarily because I am lazy. Secondarily because I am a self conscious writer. Tertiarily (no that’s not a real word) because, well, I can’t think of a reason right now. Excuses, excuses, hah! Okay. Hopefully there weren’t too many tears shed or love lost or protests staged to mourn my absence.

From time to time, I face these inane Prufrockian dilemmas. The “Do I dare?” kind. The procrastinating kind. The kind which really have no reason or rhyme to plague my mind to begin with, but do anyhow (it’s called procrastination for a reason). That’s why, I wanted to name my new and improved blog “Prufrockian Lamentations”. But I realized that it sounds too much like an eulogy for a tragic hero. Or a vague, cursory commentary on the tragedy of modernity. That’s not it at all…not really what I want to do. I also thought of “Prometheus Unbound”, but immediately got vivid images of a hapless, semi naked man tied to a rock, with an enthusiastic eagle feasting on his liver. Too much violence for an otherwise benign morning, I say. Nomenclature is important. It’s what we are known as for the rest of our lives. It’s what we are, in more ways than one, even if Shakespeare disagrees. It’s what gives rise to pseudonyms. It causes dissent among agitated youths, if deemed uncool. It gives occasion for heated clannish arguments when there’s a birth in the family. It causes embarrassment. It can strike fear and awe in others if you make something of yourself, something worthwhile. And if you’re unlucky, it can even be an expletive. (“What a Dick!”, “Stop being a Potol,” “Why are you such a Stuti?”) Bengalis tend to face this even more, thanks to the marvelously bizarre and intensely common nicknames that parents bestow on us. We all know a Babu, and a Mamoni and a Shonai. We all laugh. But we all feel a tug of knowing empathy. So yes, names are important.

I thought, why not Shakespeherian Rag? It sounds fancy, maybe even pretentious. Evidently. But you see, it is “The Mysterious Rag.” And as the great Eliot noted, “it’s so eloquent, so intelligent.” Good thing to aspire to then. I like it, and since this is my creation, this is what it shall be known as, forever and ever. Amen.

But no. This is about hitch-hiking. Of transgressions and stumbling upons. What I figured is, too many thoughts, too many stray incidences pass by every day, day after day. And I forget. I try to remember, but I forget. So, this blog shall be all about recollections and observations. Things which fascinate me- randomly, passionately, hazily. It won’t be a well crafted exaltation on the glory of life, or sermons on how to adopt hygienic means for the betterment of the self, it doesn’t aim to inspire or incite. It’s more like a quick scribble on all things fleeting- ideas, experiences, stories chanced upon, recurring thoughts and random musings on all and sundry.

Thank you for being a compassionate and large hearted (and thankfully invisible) audience.