Sunday, November 24, 2013

Red Notebook

I have a red notebook, small, softbound, pages with round edges, that I write in whenever I find myself unable to penetrate the sudden fog of numbness that surround me at times. I have been writing in it. Purposeless, solitary words. Doodles. Scratched out names. The idea of a short story. Lists. Snatches of half-forgotten lyrics. Just to avoid dead ends. Just to board a proverbial train and leave. 'Never look back', I wrote and wrote. Misplaced priorities. Misplaced love. Misplaced trust. Misplaced dreams. Just the thought of putting everything in its right and deserving place in my life is exhausting. But pulsating with the hope that it is never too late.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sweet November

It always seems full of possibilities to me, the month of November, and I eagerly await its advent every year. This time certain unforeseen circumstances and a heart bereft of hope has added a dreary tinge to my beloved month. So, I called on my inner list-maker and set forth to remind myself why I love November. 
There is this brisk wind that ushers in the indigo nights in November. Cue to rummage through the old trunk and find that large, blue sweater with sleeves that overshoot the hands. And the never-ending nights hold umpteen cozy scenarios for me: get under the covers and start a marathon reading session, go down memory lane and rescue fading memories with the combined efforts of family, coffee and conversations with friends at a dimly lit cafe with misty windows, linger on a simple meal of spaghetti with garlic sauce and top it off with some red wine, and go on long drives without any destination.

Nothing feels more alive than sinking into a cold, silken sheet of water. Here public swimming pools shut down towards mid-month, but those early morning swims in November-shivering, gasping for air with each dive, awakening every single pore in the skin-has its own charm. Like a cold shower on a cold morning and cursing loud as you get dressed with shivering hands. Quirky fun.

The bleak weather can sometimes mar the enthusiasm of even the most ardent celebrators of the month. I tackle it by exposing my senses to uplifting cues. Singing along really loud to the songs of Lighthouse Family usually does the trick for me. Or else it is an evening of heart-warming Persian cinema, kinky Spanish movies, melancholic Polish films, witty British movies, dramatic Indian cinema, feel good Studio Ghibli anime or the emotionally manipulative Hollywood romantic comedies.

The joy of running a finger against the spines of books in my shelf that encase stories, entire worlds, that are yet to be explored by me! Here is my somewhat ambitious reading list for November: Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey
Silent House by Orhan Pamuk
The Reader by Bernhard Schlink
Toba Tek Singh and Other Stories by Saddat Hasan Manto
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

This echoes my exact thoughts throughout the entire year and I get an unexplained boost every November to rectify it. I want to do everything, try everything, risk everything. I want to banish 'No' from the vocabulary for the entire month. The advent of my birthday in mid-November acts as a tangible reminder of the passing years and a ready reckoner of mortality, and catalyses the crazy impulse to try and cram a lifetime in this very month. And this utterly stupid instinct occurs every damn year.

Despite the mass commercialism of love with precocious-bodied Cupids and syrupy Hallmark cards in February, for me it will always be November that opens the doors of love. Is it some magic in the crisp air? Or is it the long nights that scream intimacy? An ordinary, hurried glance from the one you love can make you smile throughout the day. You roam around blue-nosed but with a twinkle in the eye. Midnight poets and stargazers are born. A happy anticipation hovers around every thought. Will he, does she, when we, maybe...

  Waking up to the stillness of the world bathed in the pale light of an early November morning brings forth an unparalleled joy. Spending a few moments in solitude absorbing this unhurried and quiet beauty can fade away the chaos in the mind and the sorrow in the heart, even if briefly.

The near naked trees clothed in dying autumn foliage, the flock of birds that traverse foreign skies to land on the shores of a lake and call it home for the winter, the fog that envelops everything in sight, the very sparseness of the landscape in November sets the foundation of a fresh start with the new year looming in the near horizon.
November? A steaming cup of coffee and a good book. Period.
And serendipitous moments like this.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Changes

 
Home. Sanctuary. A father whose cushiony belly serves as a pillow as we talk about everything under the sun; his rhythmic breathing a cocoon of comfort and assurance of protection from every harm. A mother whose quiet, shy smiles light up the days. A sister who is a tornado of joy and fun. A room full of books. Laughter resonating through every molecule of this home. Flowers blooming on the windowsill. Cozy nooks resplendent with warm sunshine. Memories, so many memories; the good overshadowing those of despair. And you, a happy secret full of possibilities, encased in my heart throughout the years.

Life changes in the ordinary instant.

Home. Threatened sanctuary. His face is gaunt and unfamiliar, and his belly is no longer my pillow; but when the thin limbs pull me into an embrace, my cocoon of comfort reappears. Her smiles are infrequent but just as warm and heartening. Her fun quotient has increased as she tries to fill up the gaping holes of fear and despair. The room is full of books I've been meaning to read, someday soon, maybe. It is his hacking cough that punctuates the stillness of the night air. The flowers have withered, winter blossoms weren't planted this year. Cozy nooks are still resplendent with sunshine, but the days are shorter. Memories overflow, and I grab them hungrily. And you, no longer a secret, but a melancholic reality of severed hope.

The familiar and the loved still exists, yet everything has changed, tinged with a fear of losing it all. Why did it have to creep in? I try, I try so hard to overlook this constant fear and sink back into the comforting monotony of ordinary days where nothing ever happens. I work crazy hours. I escape into stories about unseen generations. I try not to dwell on the flatness of the landscape that surround me and miss the hills anymore. I'm home, yet it is like viewing my life through a misted window, blurred and reminiscent of carefree times. My love for you no longer bubbles with happy anticipation and unobtrusive joy, but with a need for quiet companionship as I can't bear the thought of even you fading from my life someday. I live in a new place; new responsibilities and new goals cram my days. Weeding out the disposable and unnecessary, my life is sparse now, a handful of friends, family and the occasional exchanges with you. Life has changed in the ordinary instant. But in all its sparseness and fragility, oddly enough, I am content and happy. Is it changing perspective? Is it the only choice visible to me? Is it better resilience? Or have I just learned to let in the changes? Or is it your presence? I have no clue; but whatever it is, I wish it continues to see me through it all.