Not yet

I could have swore that you had brown eyes and not black, but who am I say any of these things. Last night, when you entered me and my body relaxed itself, you knew immediately what that meant. And that’s probably all.

But it has already been a long pressing day. And at its peak it was 42 degrees in the afternoon, right when I had left home. The wind was stronger than usual because of which my students at the slum came only an hour after I had arrived. And that irritated me. I was angry so I left early. And luckily caught a volvo fast, for the long ride ahead.

It would approximately take me another hour and a half before I would reach home.

I need a shower. A long shower to take everything off my mind. And the fact that no one would be home for the next two days is a relief.

Maybe I could skip tomorrow’s work. Taking a day off would surely not be a big deal.

It was the first time I had ever kissed a guy yesterday. So thinking of everything that happened last night was certainly not the easiest thing for me to process.

“Certain landscapes demand fidelity,” wrote Agha Shahid Ali. He was a master of poetry that resonated with his past and that of the places he had lived in. I wish he were still alive. And whether he had ever loved Delhi more than Kashmir. And somewhere in my heart, I knew he would say yes. And it would snow so much that night in Kashmir that every house would know the stories of betrayal.

Some lady is shouting on the top of her voice from somewhere in the front of the bus. It seems that her husband(i presume) just got pick pocketed. And of course there is no one to catch. She shouts at the driver first and then at the conductor. I am not sure if she understands all of this at all.

And I, I have decided to just sit and watch this from my seat somewhere in the back. I swear I have never thought of someone so much as I have of you. You have taken up residence in my own intimate memories and something about this feels so right and wrong at the same time.

Smog covered skies and windows shut, the city is capable of poetry only twice a day.
First in the night when the wind is strong and the moon watches over you and your lover. Now holding hands, the stars are capable of promising kisses even in public spaces.
And in the first half hour after dawn, when there are vendors selling jasmine garlands and the sun bearing witness to the eyes that wake up early. Contrary to afternoons, this half hour is when the plants are the greenest and your hickies visible, dark red.

Afternoons aren’t capable of poetry or of lovers kissing in open spaces. Delhi isn’t capable of lilac skies or of the color pink with cherry blossom flowers. Pink here is your shorts and that t-shirt you just saw but left because it was too girlish. Soft pastel shades of pink and blue, and white and yellow. Balloons in the sky, Beyonce’s album, pride parades. Delhi isn’t capable of the color pink, but you are.

I am smiling but I swear I could cry any moment.

My phone rings in the middle of all this, it’s you on the other line. And I remember asking you to call me around this time, knowing I would be done with my work for the day. But right now, I just don’t know what to say.

“Heyyy, Apoorv.”

“Heya. Work ended early today. I am already on my way back home.”

“That’s great. Any plans for the night.”

“None really. It seems that no one is going to be home tonight. Family is leaving for a visit to Rajasthan. Why don’t you come over.”

“Sure.”

We talk some more and I ask you what you want to eat for dinner because I know you haven’t had lunch.

You promise to come before 8 and not leave unless I’m fine. But I fear I’ll never be. This middle part is the hardest. Coming to accept you, means forgetting so much. And I am not ready for that.

Not yet.

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Cities like these.

 

In the past 15 minutes, I had covered the lengths of his rather small garden at least 12 times. I would have preferred to sit down of course but there wasn’t much I could do in this case. I was wearing a pair of shorts, and I am sure even in all my free time, I couldn’t possibly have counted all the mosquitoes near the door of her house. The only place which had amounted up sitting place made out of granite.

The downpour was slow, but there were no signs of it stopping completely. Anjali, the friend I had gone out for dinner with was ranting about her ex-boyfriend the whole time. Like how the first time, they kissed, it was under a huge tree, and he was scared the whole time about being spotted. ‘Bloody faggot,’ he wouldn’t even let me change my clothes in the same room together. I just smirked. He has been taking Spanish classes for a group of teenagers somewhere in Rohini all this while. He dares not come near South Delhi.

The ashtray in front of us was already full. We had smoked some 8 cigarettes. If this was not a rooftop restaurant, our food would have surely been spoiled with all the smoke around us. I remember the last time; I met my uncle, who boasted proudly about how people aren’t allowed to smoke in public spaces at all in the old country. He had only recently moved back to India with his family, after working about 20 years as an engineer in Kuwait. ‘Delhi is better’, my dad was almost always adamant with his statements. ‘Jo Delhi me Milega, wo Kuwait me kahan? Bhaisahab, parathas to yahin ke aache hote hain!’  (You’ll not get what you get in Delhi, back in Kuwait. The parathas are always the best here)

There is a certain sense of pride in everyone who has ever lived in Delhi. Whether it be the South of Delhi, where only the elite live or the noisiest and student occupied North Delhi. A hub of cheap food, liquor, and everything else.

Anjali and I weren’t any exceptions either obviously. Lying, endlessly about our lives. From the kind of cafes, we go to, to how our fathers own Luxury car brands. There is just an endless parade of lies hidden in a cabinet, only waiting for their right occasions. Then there are other constants like there would be days, when I would just walk out from my home at 11 in the night, to get kulfi at the local store nearby. Somehow, the vendor always has things to talk about. Last night, he reminded me how the GST had gone down to 5% and I shouldn’t let the high-end pretentious cafes fool me. And on others, he would tell me stories about the security guard who has probably gone for a cigarette or for a quickie with one of the transgenders, that lean on the walls in a small lane towards the left of the ATM, that the security guard watches over.

Anyway. The rain has stopped now and he is not still not here yet. I wish he could see me right now. Like this. Wet. My hair all messed up. Irritated really.

Anjali said, that the only time, her ex-boyfriend and she really went all out, the boy came too early. Boy, what a shame! I could see that she wanted to ask me about my own sex life. About how gay sex really works, and how much does anal sex really hurt. She muttered some words, but stopped in between, if only for another puff out of the 11th cigarette. This conversation was never brought up again.

My uncle, who was surely in his late sixties now, had his own take towards my sexual preferences
‘Baat to same hai beta. Ye Hole ya vo. Maje hain tumhare. Baache ki daar nahi.’

(It’s the same thing son. This hole or another. You have all the fun since you don’t even have to worry about kids)

It cracks me up every time.

I can hear a car stopping at a slight distance now. It’s been exactly 45 minutes, and my pedometer says that I have walked over 10k steps in this small garden already. It doesn’t matter really.

He looks at me once, smiles apologizes right there and then, without any words.

There was once a time when I wanted to be a poet, a writer of some sorts. Right now, when I look at his face, and my legs are weak, I wish I could really write any poetry at all. I try.

Your smile is like dew drops on rose petals
Falling straight into my hair
It’s all messed up……………..

Grrrr……….
We are finally inside our tiny little home, the keys that I forgot at home today, are lying on the kitchen floor, exactly like I remember.

From porcelain artifacts to beautiful lights in our terrace, we have it all. Maintaining this South Delhi aura around us. For once,

Keep our secrets, here safely, within stories of this ugly old city.

But fuck this story,
I look up straight in the mirror and then at him.
There is hot water running in the shower
He enters slowly.

Naked. Examining if the water is exactly at the right temperature.

He waits. And I must go.

O heart, smile or cry, but never shatter.

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Today seems like just another rainy day, sometime in the month of July. When my house used to be enchanted with the smell of dahlia and jasmine, with a scent so strong that I can still smell them in my Mumbai flat, where the seasons change just as fast as the person living in the slum right outside my flat and not a single flower has grown over the past 6 months of me moving in.

Mother hated the fact that I loved gardening and the fact that I liked dancing in the rain like a girl. But it was always very instinctive to me as if my hands had always known the art to birthing these beautiful flowers or as if my feet sprung to the act of dancing all on their own when they heard the rain drops falling on the cemented road we had outside the house.
It rains here too, and I can still hear the raindrops; I dance too, but very rarely.

It has rained the entire day today but it doesn’t sing for me anymore. It never did after I moved out of my grandmother’s house, I wonder if it sings for the house anymore. Its rubble now, I hear and I fear the house withdrew into silence long ago. Maybe even before I first moved in. Among books and birds, I grew into a house that shone every night with the moon and the stars and woke up even before my grandmother. How often do I wish to go back, maybe just for the air that must have frozen at its place, or to peep right through the windows with those thick steel railings? Maybe too often.

And if nothing, maybe in the wild despair I can still smell the rain on the thick grass that must have grown, right across the bedroom I shared with my grandmother and sister. But oh my darling, do you really believe in any of this? Can you really believe that I lived in such a house, Can you believe that I loved this rubble once?

“In the quiet, the children could hear everything that the house had to say. Even when it was perfectly quiet for everyone else. They heard stories of their grandparents moving in and of their own first steps. The house would giggle too with the children that played within.  And the children were proud, and the house ever so loving.”

But today when it rains, I have no memories of my childhood, or of the urge to dance in the rain anymore. I desire sitting by the window in my desolate flat and stare outside. I desire to be locked in and never let out. I desire nothing but you, not even the momentous pleasure sex brings with itself. And I know I ask for a little too much but trust me I’ve always been like this.

You, my lover, are a cruel irony to my love, akin to wild things that decide their own fate, like the dead leaves that float in the air, in a forest away from anyone’s gaze; you recognize me but care not. And I stand beneath the gaze of onlookers, the moon, and stars that are forever young and old, and have loved many who died in their presence. Memories cuddle and run away, these memories who are souvenirs of our love. And the moon and the stars, rule over my endurance, leave me to die: my longing lost, recognized but flown away by the wind.
You remain in the air.

“O heart, smile or cry, but never shatter.
Endure the agonizing pain of memories,
and survive.”

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Delhi.

 

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Picture credits- The Artidote.

 

“There’s evidence that D.H. Lawrence enjoyed an erotic power exchange relationship with his wife, that James Joyce was into scat (among other things), and that Oscar Wilde—well, most of us know what Oscar Wilde liked.”

The first time I met him, I passed by my lover, in the busy streets of Connaught Place, walking without a reason. Today when he and I are here again, primarily in response to our love for a certain cafe, I am reminded of our abrupt meet. Though in all honesty, I was in need of someone, mostly because of the fact that most of my friends’ lives were peopled already. Under these enormous buildings made of white marble, one is often dazed by the number of shops that have taken permanent residence here.

We sip coffee, munch egg sandwiches and engender rapport. It is easy to loose oneself in the restlessness that the city is always consumed in. I am meeting my boyfriend after a period of 3 months, and both of us know that we’ll make love soon after in either of our tiny flats, but the restlessness in our hearts is perfectly obvious. But that’s fine.

I have decided not to complain.

When we wake up the next morning, my arm splayed across his bare chest, I realize that it’s half past 11 and I have already missed my appointment with the dentist.

My body has reminisced of us making love, so I wear a turtle neck shirt, blushing at the same time. My parents would disapprove of me. Not only am I making love before getting married, but that also with someone from the same sex. Joy feels like a kind of revolt.

I endanger the lives of my neighbors every time my boyfriend is home, or when I am home a little too drunk. Divine is my body that has given birth to my senses. I have come to love a man, just like any straight person would love a woman but divine is my body.

My boyfriend wakes up soon after, but we do not talk for a short while. He tells me that he has to go for a seminar just outside the city and invites me for the same, but I refuse. I’ve come to terms with parting and meeting.There is always a form of urgency even when we meet, lost always in our words.

I leave his place after breakfast, and in hope to find a bus that goes directly towards my place, I wait at the bus stop. The bus stop is unusually crowded for a Sunday morning, so I decide to go to a friend’s place at Hauz Khas. It’s only the month of March, but it’s already over 35 degrees here. The city doesn’t have the same mystic charm as Gregory Davis Robert describes Mumbai with, but it is undoubtedly no less ambiguous to the unwary traveler. I, too am hidden in its smog-filled streets. Leaving the city to decide my fate as it goes.

I leave my friend’s place sometime around 3.3o and the market is filled now. I reach Sarojini Nagar in search of a few basic necessities, and it’s packed. With men who sell only bangles on their carts, bangles that are long discarded by their own wives to small kulfi joints, inevitably crowded by a lousy and loud group of teenagers.

I have conjured most of my life’s realities in dreams and in short write-ups, but today doesn’t feel like a day to write or dream. I feel ashamed of making love with the person I love the most, and my hands reach out for the arteries and bleeding veins inside my heart, prying with force.

But so long as I walk with a smile on my face and nobody notices me bleeding none shall stop or mutter a word. To muster enough care for my heart to nurture again. For life, for love, for sensuality. And for days to come.

 

A series of unfortunate events #1.

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Picture credits- favim.com

The day mother doesn’t come home from work, father gets worried that he will have to raise both of us all on his own. And I and my sister get worried because the father isn’t a good cook, and all we have had for our dinner, the past three nights, are oats and mashed potatoes.

But two children with neither of their parents alive aren’t looked up in the society. So we have decided against killing our father. He also earns, for us, of course.

My sister would be a fine writer one day, I’m sure. And on days when we won’t have a story to tell, we will tell the tale of our dead mother and a father who cooked terribly.

Our friends in the neighborhood are stupid and cannot fend for themselves if their mothers die. Just like little Tim, who fell down on the playground while playing with us the other day, and we tried to bury him, but the sand fell short.

Their parents complain that we make too much noise, but silencers are costly, and real kids don’t use them. Father is annoyed, but he still doesn’t cook very well, and I hope that mother is seeing this.

Father has booked our tickets to our grandparent’s house, and I remember very vividly, that the last time I visited grandmother, we were served apple pies and delicious banana cakes. Funny how they’ll live longer than the father. Or maybe not.

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GIF credits- Pureevilgallery.virb.com

The forbidden sky in the night.

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He asks me if I have I have a girlfriend now, so I shudder and look across to him from across our laptop screens. I guess he waits for an answer now, so I reply, “What is there to say”?. He laughs and changes his question, but I continue to wonder. Am I in a relationship, Have I ever been in a relationship? I am still talking to him, but I think he realized that I intentionally ran away from his question so he apologizes. I say, “What is there to apologize for?”

It is already pretty late to talk any more, so we say our goodbyes. But I get no sleep, so I pick up my notebook and write down the sentences I had hidden, tucked in, deep within. There are about a 100 words that I have scribbled down when I am too tired to go on, and I remind myself that until I have my pen, I can write. I settle down, in the bed, playing Charlie’s first mixtape.

I’ve got one hand on my chest, while the other taps its fingers to the song’s tune. This helps me calm down. I’m 19, and in my second semester at college, unsure about getting up, as a whole, naked and unscarred.

I am still wondering if I could have come up with a better answer to my friend’s question. But I guess not. Maybe. Why did he ask anyway?


These are still better days, at least in comparison to when there is no light at all. When my heart refuses to listen to my brain and I die, slowly, but eventually. But I have found ways to console myself. It has been easier by the day.

Over the past two semesters at college, I have visited modern art galleries and roamed around on the streets of a city I’m still very unfamiliar with. It’s still very pretty, no matter how many times, I visit the same bookshop, that plays by my hours, and allows me to sink in.

Last night, I dreamt about an unknown place, where I sat with my closest friends and drank to these merry days. Dreams are awfully vague, but oh, never too far away.

In reality, I’ve never really gotten drunk, and I wonder, what it is like to be a little out of control, intentionally. And in an everlasting continuation of self-assurances and promises, I make a note of the same. Words consume me, and it’s the most beautiful thing in my life.

Days pass by, and college is only getting better.

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I don’t sleep in the afternoon, but even when I crawl into my tiny bed, waking up in the dark is rather common. I wake up to an odd sound the other day and pick my phone up for light. It shines yellowish as if the light was diseased in itself.

I dream of my house the same night, but it’s a completely different place. A river flows down a road covered in dirt and my house isn’t anything like what I remember, I can’t see my sister or my father. My mother sits in her bedroom but does not talk. But I am conscious of it being a dream, so I refuse to fret.

My alarm buzzes at this point and I wake up, almost in a hurry, worried about my own identity.


That night, when I was sure my roommate was asleep, I went over everything I had seen and taken in with a sensitive kid’s emotional intelligence and cried.


There is a story that I wanted to tell my friend, when he asked me that question, waiting for an answer so earnestly. A story that I want to tell every time someone says why are you so quiet, you should really open up a little, trust people more. There’s a story I want to tell underneath every other story I’ve ever told.

You are sitting in a room that is now part of your life. It’s familiar, like your parent’s bedroom, where you went to sleep when you were a little too scared, or like a motel room, where you first made out, with your lover. You are comfortable now, amidst art that is all across your room: paintings of landscapes and of familiar faces obscured in a thick fog.

Outside, there is none of this, but you are still comfortable. In the same dark foggy night, your cries get muffled down, and the universe doesn’t care. You frown

And so you go back to your room, not because the universe fulfills you, but because you are too scared of the vast wide world. The walls define you better. Just the same way, they define me. And because you are complete within yourself, breaking the shell is not important anymore.

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A terrible day.

 

 

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Picture courtesy- Theabsolutemag.com

 

 

“I hate you as if you were one of my sculptures that I loved but could never complete. My eyes can’t bear your shape and my scalpel won’t touch you, I hate you but love you just as much as to never throw you away.”

Dear Mary,
You remind me that I never owned you because no one can own anybody, and not because the love between us lacked. But I am too old to understand a lot of things so I would still like to believe that I own some parts of you, at least the ones I gave birth.

Nakata was born exactly 2 years after you and in my fear of never neglecting you, I tried and loved you both just the same. However Nakata was the one who always rolled off the mattresses each time, I used to put him to sleep.

I remember driving you two to the Aragusuku Beach in Miyakojima on an extremely windy day, and Nakata fell sick. And you were the one who took care of him in the back of the year. This happened on the 22nd March 1978. By the time we reached home, Nakata was sleeping comfortably on your lap, while you moved your hands softly through his hair.

To make sure that I gave most of my time to the two of you, I barely left home and only crafted when you slept, on the room in the left of the first floor. I very vividly remember your enthusiasms when I first allowed you to paint on the canvas I once used for myself.

And in the small room, concealed within the four walls, your colors flooded everything that any eye could see. Now that you are gone, I fear that my room, that stands peacefully between the four walls is slowly contracting on its own. Smaller and smaller it grows and with itself, it tends to shatter the colors within. I live a little with each shared color. I belong to these colors.

But like every other tale that revolves around life, not all goes the way you want it to. And Nakata died in a car accident 7 months back, while you never turned up, your refusal to mourn Nakata’s death is only a sign of resentment, that’ll fade away, sooner than you might have thought.

Today, it’s his death anniversary, and yet I have more memories of him than of you. Not that I hate you, but not once have you come to meet. Maybe, this is why I was so happy to meet the postman, who told me about the letter that you wrote to me.

An hour after I received your letter, the phone rang, and I picked up, but the person on the other side had already hung up. Maybe it was you, or just some random stranger, who must have realized that he has dialed the wrong number. Despite this, I kept the phone to my ear, listening to the dial tone. At this moment, I am sure that I am not the same person I once was, while the real me continues to sit alone in the same room we once painted together in, watching in disbelief.

But I won’t trouble you for any longer than it takes me to complete this final painting I am doing. I must warn you that I am no longer able to keep up with you and neither has my art. I have grown tired and restless, and my hand shakes when I pick my paintbrush. I refuse to sculpt anymore.

With love.
Truly yours,
Your mother.

“All of us have painted our own beautiful words on the canvas, very precisely articulative of our dreams. But the one thing we forget is that the wind is strong and the sea turbulent. And colors fade away.”

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