Tuesday, October 14, 2014
The nights are damp and cold and windy. A vague reminder of the hills. It rains and stops and rains again. I love it. Cold autumn weather. Sweatpants and flannel shirts and scarves weather. Soft blue quilt weather. Hot cocoa weather. Curl up in bed delving into stories or weaving new ones weather. Petrichor weather.
There was a light drizzle when I walked back from work yesterday. The road was wet and shiny, reflecting the old oak trees that lined it on either sides. I stepped into occasional, unavoidable puddles; and my bag bore the brunt of the slanting rain. But the wind that whooshed through the trees was so cold and magical, I didn't want the walk to end and be cooped up in a dark, cramped hostel room. So I decided to head off towards the centre of the college campus, nearly four kilometres away. The evening light and overcast skies threw beautiful shadows on the grand buildings and brought out every shade of green in the foliage. The impending rain was a thrill, waiting to see how far can I make it before it pours down.
The collage centre has landscaped gardens, a temple, large green fields, numerous tiny eateries and a central library housed in a grand, opulent ochre building with brick red domed roof and balconies. Of course, I went to the library.
It was already past the hours to issue new books, but I liked to walk through the huge circular hall lined by tall, never-ending wooden shelves stacked with several thousand books. And the narrow corridors that led off the hall into various sections of rare books and manuscripts, the linguistics section, the book stack housing novels old and new, the arts and sciences sections, research sections, and journals section. It was my own personal heaven. I stayed browsing books till the sun set and tall, yellow lamps were lit in the garden outside.
I took a rickshaw back to the hostel, the magical wind still howling around me. I missed something sorely then. Or maybe someone. But soon I was back in my warm room, munching banana chips, sitting crosslegged on the bed and studying about paragangliomas while "Rocks On The Road" played on my phone. My room-mate came from back from (supposedly) "evening" shift at the hospital well beyond midnight and after an hour of giggles and conversation, she created our routine 'ambience' to bring about sleep, that is switch on the air cooler. Even when it is biting cold outside because we could no longer fall asleep without the pleasant hum of the air cooler.
In the morning, she left for work at eight. And I found myself unable to get out of bed. Head exploded with pain and fever burned every inch off my skin. I called up a friend who readily agreed to replace my duty at the department till I felt better. I spent a couple of hours gathering the strength to walk the few steps to the medicine cabinet!
The day was spent in my darkened room, buried under two blankets, sleeping fitfully and aching for home. I longed for company, someone to just sit by me for a few minutes. For reasons unknown to me, I dreamt of you. Got teary-eyed and went back to sleep. It was only towards three in the evening that my fever broke.
The feeling of utter loneliness and crying continued. I wondered if it had anything to do with the pent up worry about my mother's recent cancer scare. Or was it just hormones? Or maybe it was an embarrassing pining for lost love? I hadn't ate anything since the past twenty hours.
Just then my phone rang to inform me that the books I had ordered online would be delivered in five minutes. I had no choice but to walk downstairs to collect them. Holding the neatly wrapped package of books in my hand brought about an instant change in my mood. I suddenly craved food and went into the dining hall and quietly had a hot meal of rice and rajma.
Feeling strengthened, I returned to my room and set about cleaning it up and opening the door to the balcony to let in fresh air and some pale sunshine. Then with eager fingers I unwrapped the package to unravel the books.
Maus- Art Spiegelman (A graphic novel that is one of the most personal retelling of the Holocaust)
Mr Penumbra's 24-hour bookstore-by Robin Sloan (The title is enough to intrigue me. Books about books and bookstores. Porn for me.)
Delta of Venus- Anais Nin (I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the sexual escapades of Henry Miller to even Khushwant Singh. But I had never read erotica written by a female author. This book would be a welcome start)
So in the bleak mess of damp weather, high grade fever and loneliness, the books and the stories that awaited therein managed to salvage my day, and reinstate my autumnal love. Books always save me.
Saturday, October 11, 2014
You who never arrived
in my arms,
Beloved, who were lost from the start,
I don't even know what songs
would please you.
I have given up trying to recognize you in the surging wave of
the next moment.
All the immense images in me -- the far-off, deeply-felt landscape, cities, towers, and bridges,
and unsuspected turns in the path,
and those powerful lands
that were once pulsing with the life of the gods-- all rise within me
to mean you, who forever elude me.
who are all the gardens I have ever gazed at, longing.
An open window in a country house-- , and you almost stepped out, pensive, to meet me.
Streets that I chanced upon,--
you had just walked down them and vanished.
And sometimes, in a shop, the mirrors were still dizzy with your presence and, startled, gave back my too-sudden image.
Who knows? Perhaps the same
bird echoed through both of us
yesterday, separate, in the evening...
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
Sunday, October 5, 2014
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
One of those days. Cooped up in a darkened room. Black oversized tshirt and grey track pants. Bloated. Sadistic uterus on a torture spree. Umpteen cups of ginger tea. Lying in bed, listening to chirping birds, losing track of time. Aching for home. A book comforts for a couple of hours. Work forgotten. Inertia worshipped. Solitude. Sleep. Slowness. No thoughts. No plans. No 'to-do' list to strike off. Everything awaits behind the bulging door of tomorrow. But today I give up and crave quiet companionship more than my usual preference for solitude. I want someone to make me another cup of ginger tea, hold me, listen to 'wild heart' on my old ipod, and whisper stories throughout this long, blue, autumnal night. But then, its so difficult to realise simple wishes. Definitely, one of those days.
Saturday, September 13, 2014
Yesterday I heard the words I had always known and secretly dreaded, loud and clear. No roundabouts. No vague references. No sugar-coated assurances. The plain, simple truth. That love isn't enough, sometimes. I thanked him. For his kindness in finally saying it out loud, canceling all the earlier vague replies and gestures, ripping of every shred of hope. I just turned off the light and slept off. Part of me never wanted to wake up and face the gaping hole that the lack of hope and his absence would cause. I woke up though, late, and on a wet pillow.
The overcast skies and heavy downpour echoed my mood. I skipped breakfast. And then lunch. I didn't smile at my friends and colleagues. Formalin vapors in the histopathology room became the ready excuse for my reddened eyes. I missed home. A lot. My bed. My books.
I didn't know why was I mourning something I'd always known. Maybe it's just the death of hope. There'd never be any reading between the lines, no searching for subtle clues of love and caring. "No matter what I say or what I do, how many more decades I wait for...he would never love me", I said it out loud. He would never love me. Yes. Fuck it. Why am I crying out a river for him then? As if on cue, part of my mind fell into absolute darkness. I can no longer recall having loved him. It was just that sudden. Just that complete.
The upside is the vast expanse of time before me that is no longer wasted in daydreaming, checking if he is online, writing to him, worrying and worrying some more. I decided to get some food into me. The unpalatable hostel food won't do, and I ordered in my favorite dishes. An hour of delightful banter and racuous laughter with my friends followed. I read for pleasure last night. With a free mind. Love had crippled me. Amplified my negatives. Maybe I'm not cut out for love. Maybe it was the wrong person. The wrong time. Maybe I should just concentrate on creating my own happiness...books, hills, travel. The simple joys. Love should never again be the centre of my happiness. It is risky. And foolish.
Yes, memory is a tricky thing. The sudden darkness that fell over certain bits of it, has blunted the pain and makes it so much easier to go through the day. Essential coping mechanism. I'm meant to survive everything on my own. And maybe it's a good thing.
Sunday, September 7, 2014
Thursday, June 5, 2014
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Friday, May 16, 2014
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
I’m thinking of you and all the places we could roam together"
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
Toba Tek Singh and Other Stories by Saddat Hasan Manto
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
Saturday, November 9, 2013
Thursday, October 31, 2013
Sunday, October 6, 2013
I read Haruki Murakami's 'Sputnik Sweetheart' a couple of weeks ago and found it a surreal and captivating tale of longing. Sumire, the protagonist, has a shaggy mane, reads voraciously, writes until the wee hours of morning, and lives in a tiny apartment crammed with piles of books. She is also obsessively in love with a woman, Miu, who is seventeen years older than her. Miu, harbouring crushed ambitions and a loveless marriage, is equally fond of Sumire's company but doesn't desire her. And there is K, the narrator, who has been in love with Sumire for long years but her aloofness in matters of love and longing, had curbed all his initiatives to reach her. They talk though, they talk a lot. She likes the way he explains things to her and doesn't hesitate to call him up at 3am from a darkened phone booth and talk for hours, with a cigarette dangling from her mouth. They read books together, he is the only one allowed to go through the first drafts of her novels that she had abandoned midway; and he listens to her with such an endearing attention that is reflective of how much he values her presence in his life. Books, chaotic minds full of innumerable questions, a latent ennui, repressed love and longing bind them together. And then a series of bizarre events lead to Sumire's disappearance. Each character is sketched haphazardly, but it is the gaps in their stories, the details beyond the veil, that makes them intriguing. Loose ends abound and the disjointed narrative might put off a major section of readers, but I simply couldn't put it down. Miu crosses their lives, but K and Sumire slowly discovers the unnamed, subtle, unhurried, and unquestionably devoted love, that they had searched for years in the wrong places, in each other. Or was it all just an illusion? This book is more of an acquired taste for the thin line between the surreal and the real, but I loved it.