Bougainvillae

Nobuyoshi Araki 4

As it starts to rain, I draw the curtains
My world now covered in the saddest blue of Indian Railways
My body wrapped in a blanket that still smells of
Someone I used to love, then hate, and then love again

I have decided to stay, here, curled up in my berth
I feel safe now, from my comatose city
And although trains are no place to live
There are a place
With windows and soup
And people who sleep on time
And time that never sleeps
And lonely men with dying phones
Wanting to exchange seats
suffering from old parents, slip disks or young kids
And then in turn the wives offer
Questions I have no answers to
“Would you like a banana?”, “What are you doing?”
“Where is your home?”,  “Where are you going?”

I have a cigarette refusing to light
the darkness of a bathroom vent
And in this black I am surrounded by faces
Of people I’ve found and then lost,
Some to death, some to a beautiful fight
And through the cracks they left in my heart
I have supplied my own light
I’ve found my fire
Right next to the door
Where a man jumped to death
After he’d had too much soup
“But the soup’s allright”
I hear the bride in the side berth say
And order her third cup for the night
That ought to put a stop to this madness,
she whispers to her husband
who looks like he’s had too much for one life

“We ought to put a stop to this madness”,
I hear her voice message on my phone
From a long time ago
Memories come to me like a fever
Of women I used to make soup for
Hot and sour nostalgia
In my time machine heart
All I wanted then was to dream about
All the beds I spent this year’s nights on
With all those women, and all those cats (mostly cats)
But God is snoring in the first class compartment
And in his dreams I can hear my cats purring with ecstacy
And my women screaming his name
I’m going to avenge my god
By stealing his nicotine patches
And leaving him my poems

Now the bride in the side berth
Is singing a sad lullaby to no-one in particular
About a woman stuck in a train to nowhere
Her voice is low and raspy, like a lonely movie star
It reminds me of a place
Somewhere between Delhi and Calcutta
flooding with bougainvillea
I tried to think of something else, but
I came five minutes ago
Sucked in by melancholia
And now my berth smells of something
vaguely between soup and bougainvillea

Sometime around midnight I have
Mastered the art of killing time
As for lessons in forgetting
I’m done with the women (not my cats, yet)
How I wish time was a rabbit
Easy to crush, tender to taste
But it’s wild, growing on the edges of my seat
Dripping on my window sill, just outside my reach
And as dawn crushed the colours of an unknown station
It was still raining outside, but cold on my seat
And I was still between places
Between women, between cats
Between who I was,
And who I could be.
Between.

And while I was there, an answer came to me
Maybe Home was a time, not a place,
Filled with cats,
Flooding with bougainvillae.

New Year’s Eve / Time is a lie

Nan-Goldin.-French-Chris-at-the-Drive-in-New-Jersey-1979.-©-Nan-Goldin-courtesy-Matthew-Marks-Gallery-New-York

I hate parties
that end next year
and houses that burn
with promises and
resolutions doused
with cocktails named after
actors and saints or
sex on airplanes
I’m laughing in a corner
fighting my way through
slithering bodies / snake charmers
embraces that seem invincible
kisses that seem infinite
I’m laughing on the ledge
looking at the fireworks
If only they knew
Time is a lie
I was sent here by a friend
who’s drowning in somebody’s face now
their tongues swirling like a cyclone
that is now complete
I get up for a refill
trying to keep the chicken in
that god set free in my intestines
(Hallelujah!)
Mary pours me a double
says Jesus is away
It’s been a busy night
for gods and monsters
I know better so I walk away
If only she knew
It’s a thin line
between gods and monsters
plus i’ve done this way too many times
life conversations with the girl at the bar
the shine in her eyes, the broken star
all she wants is a girl
and a house in green park
And she promises she has a plan
this year she’s done with falling apart
if only she knew by now its too late
for a house, a conversation or a new start
Anyway, eventually, midnight crawls in
like a man that’s impossible to surprise
and the crowd screams
and the bottles pop
some skirts were torn
some fingers were locked
now I’m drunk in a crowd of vampires
and fake fin mermaids
and it’s hard to remember
which year I am in
and it’s hard to remember
if time is a li(n)e

photograph – New York by Nan Goldin

Remembering, Remembering.

IMG-20150819-WA0027 (1)  IMG-20150819-WA0007 (1)

What becomes of youth? Where does it go? I can’t stand to look at old pictures. I’m going to bury them deep in my hard disk because I can’t stand to lose them either. Such beautiful pictures. Old, and full of years. I don’t know how to remember you, I’m so terribly confused.

The last few years are such a blur, how our faces have changed. I couldn’t bring myself to accept the fact that time is linear and age it’s loyal ally. That the years had lined themselves up on your face, marking little bruises of victory on your body like a forsaken lover. But in the end with all the wrinkles and bones, I only remember the glow, pure as snow. Did I tell you you were stunning ? You reminded me of mangoes, of an old TV Set, of old comics, of home. I was always prepared for this moment, but I feel so restless now. Cold walls and bricks of mortar and all the air conditioning in the world can’t keep down my flaming heart. You know how they say, a body is just a box? I’m going to pretend you’re getting a new one. Facebook me.

” What films do I make? What eulogies should I write? What portraits should I save? Word and colours and songs are defeated by time. Time has won. Now, let me run, faster than horses of lightening, so that my life is a blur, and I catch up to everyone I’ve lost to time. Send me the spaceship newton promised. Give me back my time.”

See you on the other side, with him, and our german shepherd.

xx

A time for you.

yoko

There will be a time, when you’re not alone at 3:47 am in the night. There will be a time when you’ll kiss with open eyes.  And a time for dreams to come true, and eyes to light up when you speak. There will be a time my friend, for love and victory. A time for friends with easy hearts, and teachers with sound minds. A time to fill endless nights with the songs you wrote in the endless nights. There will be a time for dark circles to fill up with light and stretch marks to go climbing mountains. A time for a long swim in the cool arms of an unending ocean. There will be a time to create, and a time to create something truly extraordinary. There will be a time for brilliance, and then some time for exhilaration. Then there will be a time, for the time. And in that time, time will cease to exist. And then you’d open your eyes and realise, there was a time for you. And there will be, a time.


For the photograph, see Fukase’s “The art of losing love.” For the inspiration behind this piece, read The love song of J. Alfred Prufrock.

The Five Minute Knight

                                                  tomatsu

Yes, if I’m being totally honest with myself- i’m scared of connections. There she was staring right into my eyes and there it was; a heavy lump in my throat stuck right in the highway to my heart. I would look up occasionally and it was as if I was staring into a deep, infinite pool where a glitter of interest floated up once in a while. Eventually she gave up too. Since that day, she would talk to me staring at my hair. So I grew my hair long and bought the most ridiculously priced hair wax so that they would stick to my head and flow down my eyes. We had nothing in common, I told myself. She restores monuments and I write stories. Well, if you thought about it objectively – we had a lot in common. We both took on to something hopeless and fell in love with it. We spent years repainting it, rebuilding it. Brick by brick we gave birth to a new kind of old- and it destroyed us eventually. So you see, when I looked into her eyes while ordering my coffee, I did not just see a pool. I saw us dancing in the deep end – wearing tinted sunglasses we’d bought on a flash sale. Listening to some hipster music youtube had so gratefully picked for us that afternoon. Flapping our fins to pink champagne. Talking about my next story and our plans or rather the lack of them. Then colliding in an embrace to shame the most horrific car crashes. And in that image, strangely, I remember not remembering how to swim. And then there are whirlpools and waves and bubbles and sentences that were meant to come out but got caught in that lump stuck in my throat. And so- I’m afraid of connections.  My heart calls out for a swimming lesson but words wander, like they tend to, when fear does it’s dance. And hence, I was proclaimed the master of five minute affairs and a connoisseur of solid half hour friendships. 

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Note: The above photograph is a part of a collection by Shomei Tomatsu ; one of the most influential Japanese photographers of all time. Check more of his work here.

Forgetting Ms. Z.

Image

For some days I couldn’t sleep. I would stay up late, hold my breath  and find something menial to think about for the rest of the night. That day I was contemplating whether the government should ban smoking in auto rickshaws. The thought had been nagging me for a while now.  While returning from the chemist after buying my Xanax, I would smoke a couple in the auto just in case. It was the only time I saw myself from the outside; from the eyes of the auto driver, the passing mothers, the eunuchs under the flyover, and the old guard of my colony. Sometimes I would see Ms. Z sitting next to me in the auto, sharing a drag, running her fingers behind my ears, laughing. It was easy to admire her until she laughed- then it got a little more serious. It was the kind of laughter that opened you up. When she laughed, a small line would trace her smile back to her eyes and they would light up, like a river in moonlight. I had caught her laughter; it was something she had left in me, something that would live on long after I’m gone – in my children, in women I would love. That way, I would never really lose Ms. Z.

With that thought I would often throw away my unfinished cigarette and pop a Xanax. After a couple of hours, that familiar feeling of plastic euphoria would creep up under my skin. Then, I would proceed to write songs. I must have written about six hundred songs in those three months- but they all had the same chords. G, D, A. I would be G – smiling. Ms. Z would be D- laughing. And A- that was the xanax ; a threesome I’d have over and over and over again until my fingers would curl up into fists and my songs would punch my guitar, my bed, my shirt into the stretching night.  I imagined they would chase this winter night to the vast skyline on the highway to mars. At three a.m, when I would finish performing Ms. Z’s song that auto would stop near a tungsten star and Ms. Z would be there, clapping stardust onto my naked body, laughing. The day that star dissolves into these nights of rum fuelled regulars and smoking limos, I will stop writing songs for you, Ms. Z. That day I’d pick up my guitar and make a grand fire out of  anything and everything that burns ; all your cards pasted with birthday lilies and all my shirts pasted with your scent. I’d let go. I would change the way I laugh. And then maybe I could learn to sleep again.

Note: The above photograph is a work by American photographer Richard Tuschman who turns Edward Hopper’s paintings into photographs. See more at http://www.fubiz.net/en/2014/01/22/composite-photography-inspired-by-edward-hopper