Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Certain Joys


Certain things waft in a joy that is hard to contain in a moment and invariably explodes to invade and linger in a million more. Like cleaving through clear blue waters in the early light of a summer morning, surrendering to the silken touch and pleasant chill. It’s in the wildly beating heart that is quietly aware of the trajectory of a lover’s glance resting on the sheen of your shoulder and jumping back to your eyes, before resting on your mouth, and knowing that it is the prelude to a kiss, unplanned and unexpected, springing up on you with a delightful nervousness, and you are consumed with a love so profound it makes you dizzy and lingers infinitely in each recall, as you are sure to do it.

Like driving down a tree-lined road on an autumnal day, spellbound by the play of orange and grey. It’s in a tiny arm wrapped around your neck and another tiny hand gripping your nose as a baby leans in to plant a wet sloppy kiss on your cheek. It's in stroking the papery skin on the hands of a grandmother and tracing the age spots as she tells you endless tales interspersed with adorable gummy smiles. It's in sitting on the verandah of a place far away from home, rolling your toes up and down the spine of a big, brown and instantly familiar dog that lets you rub the back of its warm fuzzy ear as it watches the sun go down with you. Or in the reading a big book that leaves you exhausted, agitated, mollified, troubled, understood and speculative, all at once. It's in the joy of finding the right words at the right moment. And when serendipity finds you.

It's in reading a poem so good that you want to gobble it up and never let it go. It's in cuddling up to a parent, unabashedly evoking your inner child, the one that loves the familiar hand running through your hair and remain cocooned in a safety and comfort rarely replicated ever again. Like the reading a letter from the one you love again and again, mouthing each word; and imagining him write your name in that intimate and slightly lopsided print. It’s also in the head thrown back in laughter as you sit down with an old friend to indulge in the joy of reminiscing, sitting on a terrace, and exchanging stories in the long blue twilights of summer.

Like walking up a narrow, winding road on wet, misty mornings to a picturesque home with ivy-lined stone walls and a blazing log fire, and remain nestled by a window where the clouds knock. It’s always in the hills, in the sound of water, at dawn, in the foamy waves, in the scintillating stars, and in the trees. It's in staying awake to hear the rain splattering off the roof and window sill. It's in getting soaked to the skin, and shivering and shivering, kicking puddles, and laughing and laughing. It's in speed. And also in Sunday siestas. It’s in splurging on expensive lingerie and wearing them underneath an old t-shirt and a faded pair of denims on an ordinary day, just because it ushers in such a secret, solitary, risqué joy. And in wearing cherry red lip colour.

It's in driving aimlessly, on impulsive journeys. It’s also in no longer mothballing the past and lugging around the deadwood; it’s in the anticipatory joy of opening new doors. It’s in the stories we tell each other in the dark, just the two of us, with our bare hearts and slowly entwining memories, letting each other into our secret worlds. It’s in the sanctity of trust. It’s in epiphanies and clear realizations. It’s in the responsibility of love, the urge to care for and protect; the knowledge and awareness of which thrives us. It’s in working endlessly to watch dreams materialize into something substantial.

It’s in the desire to share and live these simple joys with you; it’s in everything between us.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Torpor, Verses

Forced into a heat and humidity induced torpor, I had let the urge to write slip away in favour of quiet evenings of sitting cross-legged on a woven reed mat in my semi-darkened room, dressed in my favourite pair of red and grey checkered shorts and powder blue t-shirt, listening to the pleasant hum of the air-conditioner, sipping a tall glass of iced lemonade, and reading 'Stories of Vladimir Nabokov' and 'Zorba the Greek' in the faint yellow light of a book-lamp. This explains the brief, disjointed, stream of consciousness blog posts in the recent past. Content and length has been massacred by the brutal weather and accompanying ennui. So, I share few verses and a quote I came upon recently:

Had I told the sea
What I felt for you,
It would have left its shores,
Its shells,
Its fish,
And followed me
.
~
Nizar Qabbani

Strangest, and sad as a blind child, not to see
Ever you, never to hear you, endlessly
Neither you there, nor coming  … Heavy change!—
~ John Berryman
 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

unsent, moth-eaten

stashed under the bed
in crumpled and minute print
unsent, moth-eaten love

Monday, June 10, 2013

today

the sound of water
the echoing happiness of a dream from last night being recollected in all its vivid details
Calvinian alternative story of genesis
licking off ice-cream dripping down the wrist
a clove-scented soap and a foggy shower
a dark room with a window that looked out onto a luscious golden afternoon
a conversation that warmed 'the cockles of the heart'
just two syllables
the quiet thrill of a secret
a song about midnight

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Simple Feelings, Simple Words

 

I knew what you needed: simple feelings, simple words.
Your silence was effortless and windless, like the silence of clouds or plants.
All silence is the recognition of a mystery.
There was much about you that seemed mysterious.

~ Sounds, Vladimir Nabokov


Friday, June 7, 2013

Eveything Else Is A Bonus

“I know what the fear is.
The fear is not for what is lost.
What is lost is already in the wall.
What is lost is already behind the locked doors.
The fear is for what is still to be lost.”
 

In Blue Nights, Joan Didion writes about the long and blue twilights, during summer, just before it gets engulfed by the inky blackness of the night as an analogy for how 'ordinary and expected blessings' like good health, finding love, marriage, bringing up a child, travels, new beginnings can be wiped away by sudden and unexpected catastrophes, uprooting the very foundation of a life that one had carefully built over the years. She has a career as a successful novelist and memoirist; a wonderful family; travels around the world; fame and money; and then came the irreparable and sudden loss of her husband and only daughter within a span of less than two years. The anxiety, sense of foreboding, grief and the subdued nihilism in her words made me realize how flippant most of us are towards the "ordinary blessings".

I have everything I need; a late-blooming yet deep and strong bond with my parents, a sibling who knows me inside out and loves me despite it, seven 'soul sisters' who creates unmeasured joy and camaraderie, a job that enables me to pay my bills comfortably and brings in a sense of making a direct and real difference in the lives of others (in whatever small way), a cosy home resounding with love and laughter; good health of my near ones, and here I use the term loosely to denote just the absence of any major illnesses; a sense of wanderlust, wonder and stubborn hope that (now) fails to get marred even by the dreariest of circumstances; stacks and stacks of books overspilling from every shelf in my room; and an (almost) six feet love trapped in the six inches of my heart for as long as I remember.

Yet, not so long ago, I was drowning in the dark and turbulent waters of mourning about what I want and didn't (yet) get. I am a doctor, a career lakhs of students aspire for and only a couple of thousand gets chosen every year. Yet, I didn't consider myself lucky; because I was an 'ordinary' MBBS and had failed to secure a post-graduate subject of my choice in my first attempt. And no one wants to be ordinary. The hopelessness that stems from the knowledge that one has not yet achieved the universally accepted cornerstones of 'success' in their specific profession, negates every little achievement and joy that were present at the beginning of the career. Tangled in self-doubt and an unfulfilled and misplaced sense of entitlement, the thought of settling for less pained me to the very core. My parents are quite supportive and happy with the very fact that I am the first and only doctor in the entire extended family including the past generations. But it meant nothing to me, because I had failed my own expectations. Anxiety didn't help as much as ruined my confidence every passing moment. My whole worth as a person began to be centred around my academic performance. Nothing else mattered.

Yesterday my little cousin asked me the reason behind the recent suicide of a movie starlet and I replied that it was allegedly due to depression over a stagnant career. My cousin failed to understand why an actress who had surpassed thousands of people struggling to get just a minute role in a movie and had attained country-wide fame and recognition (at least so many people knew who she was!) had killed herself. How was she a 'failure'? I struggled to explain to my cousin that success is a subjective term, rooted deeply in comparison to others,  and that happiness and well-being is centred around it to varying degrees.

Today I have reached a point in my life where I am thankful for every blessing I had been given unasked for; but I know the helplessness that the starlet might have due to failed expectations and the vicious thoughts it spurs about the absence of any way out, the complete oblivion of hope, the negligible sense of self-worth and the highly exaggerated delusion of what others will say. I had been trapped in that web of negativity and depression a few years ago for long enough to toy with the idea of embracing death in a bid to escape living. It was the result of a cumulative despair, feeding on certain untoward incidents in my life, that tipped me over the edge when I was challenged with a a period of stagnancy in my career.

While I was battling such negativity, a childhood friend passed away due to post-operative complications following a minor surgery. The day after she died the sun shone brightly in a brilliant blue sky, the bougainvillea was a riot of colour, my mother prepared my favourite dish, my father broke through my wall of gloom with his booming laughter; my sister kicked me in the butt and grinned impishly when I wanted to borrow something from her wardrobe; the television blared upcoming movie trailers, a few friends sent me a postcard from a holiday in Ladakh (because they knew how much I loved the mountains); I read an Alice Munro story; and I had an overwhelming realization that my friend will never experience these ordinary and mundane blessings again. The world will go on, will bring in the new and hold on to the nostalgia of the past, and she won't be there to know any of it. Happiness is being alive. That's it. Everything else is a bonus. And I had let the fleeting thoughts of ending it all creep in to my mind; I don't regret those thoughts, nor am I ashamed. I am immensely relieved to pry myself away from the clutches of such hopelessness and despair. Even now, my life is devoid of the 'certain things that I want', but I am ready to work for them, strive towards them, wait for them. I realize that I will never have all the things I want; but I have everything I need, a wider focus of what this world has to offer and yes, I am alive to enjoy it all.