Matinee

She was completely soaked in the plan. She went through it again and again. The show was at quarter to three. She had to leave at half past one. The cinema hall was more than ten kilometers away. And he was to meet her at their designated pick up place. She couldn't be late. They wouldn't miss the ice-cream before the show started. He had booked three seats for the two of them in the corner of the last row. So that he could wrap his hand around her shoulder and no one would be bothered. She had made a suitable alibi at home, she was away for back-to-back tuitions and soon after she would go to the beauty parlor. She prayed hard that nobody should find out. What else could she do but pray. What could anyone do but pray. She was a few minutes late and he had been waiting. She tied a scarf so as to hide her face and climbed on to his bike, and sat clutching his chest from behind. Like they do. In a minute, they were on the main road. The wind was unstoppable that afternoon. It shouldn't rain, how would she explain at home if she got drenched. Her head had transformed into this constant alibi manufacturing machine. It didn't. They licked their ice cream cones standing in the alley behind the hall. Her face was uncovered now, and people stared on, uninhibited. In her eyes he saw how nervous she was. In the darkness, when the film played, they held hands and even plucked kisses off each other. But her heart lay in her phone, which might ring anytime. What if they found out. Nobody called, though. In the interval, he bought more soft drinks and wafers. The cold breeze from the air conditioner, gave her the chills and she snuggled as close to him as she could. He whispered things into her ears, making her promise for a few more matinee shows like that. She whispered back, asking what if people back home found out. He whispered back saying that he had his way of taking care of things, if they did. She felt both empowered and bothered, by what he had said. Later, when the show ended, the skies opened up. The wind had stopped and the rain began to look scary. They couldn't ride back in that weather. They waited and waited for what seem like an hour and she couldn't make anymore alibis on the phone. She was at her wits end and her forehead heated up.They were both soaked under their skins. She was in tears, well almost. And he consoled her with all he had. That they were going to be just fine. 

Letting bygones be bygones

I

When I love something, I read about it till exhaustion. And beyond. Mostly, sorrow attracts me the most. Poignance, casts a spell on me and brings me to a standstill, rather where I am compelled to explore. Till exhaustion. Once I can't feel my feet on the ground, I choose to sink deeper and deeper. Even if it means nothing. I discover the agony I have buried within myself and I cannot bring the process to a halt. It's nasty and it's involuntary. Almost like a chronic addiction. For instance, if I love a film, I read about it for days. Until I have had my fulfilment. And fulfilment is a relative word, my friend.

II

My friend was sitting in a bar with his friends. They were all smoked up and were having a few beers. I was back in my room, writing a poem. Or something. We were all of twenty. Or less. A very fragile age that. I was writing a poem called Underachievers Anonymous. Sitting on my bed. On my blog, back then. Mist on my windowpane. Blanket till my waist. Memories are best set in winter, I say. I wrote it in a flow and published it. He read it almost instantaneously. Yes. And my phone rang within a minute. I had barely un-blanketed myself to walk up to the coffee table. And my phone rang. And it was him. He had called to say how exact my timing was and how his gang was now going gung-ho about underachieving etcetera.

III

Something beautiful and terrifying I read today: Love, even if never fully expressed, somehow lasts forever.

In The Mood For Love

Imagine smoke and mirrors. Smoke, often from his cigarette and more than a couple of mirrors, facing each other at varied angles, light reflecting and refracting as it wished, without restraint, through red curtains and green bed spreads and tiled marbled floors coloured like a chessboard, printed wallpaper with chequered designs, of light blue, or deeper, a lampshade or two, a can for carrying soup, an umpteen number of bottles, spread across, the entire room feels like a living kaleidoscope, beside her fuchsia lipstick. And music playing in the background, probably, cello, or the trombone, that digs a hole in your soul. Only that, everything that is is thoroughly jaded. So as not to stand out but to merge with an oblivion, creating a subtle lust in our mind and slowing passing it down to our gut.

Just as, at times the vastness and beauty of the universe makes us feel tiny and inconsequential, a great work or art, a masterpiece such as this, decimates me beyond human imagination. I am all but flattered that I came to witness it, purely as an act of coincidence.

It is as if, by itself an enigmatic repository of memories, the actual events corresponding to which I never experienced, however, I somehow, ironically, carry those memories around. Guilty as charged, my heart full of shame and broken at that, by love that didn't last. This causes a universal amnesia of sorts. We have all been there, ages ago, in that same room of dull yellow light. And impersonated conversations, spaced out with sighs. And rainy alleys and damp staircases and singular light bulbs on the streets that have been proof of so much love, abandoned, so much love, forgotten. So many phrases, left unsaid, so much skin left untouched, unseen.

But just smoke and mirrors. Smoke and mirrors. Smoke and mirrors.



Bottom of the Pyramid

One of the toughest realisations in life is that you're going to be average. And nothing more. Mediocrity is no crime. Except it seems like one. All the time. Forget average, you might as well be below average. Bottom of the pyramid. And your only achievement would be that you survived. Lived to tell your tale. Or better, keep mum about it. Losers are my type. But more definitely when they are the quieter kind. There are always going to be the virtuous others. Who are richer, prettier and more glamorous. Fuck them. You be god damn average. Or poor, ugly and pale. With nothing to say. But just be, already. Just be. Even if it means starting your days thinking that you can't do this anymore. Even if it means laughing at other people's pointless humor. Even if it means ageing and getting fat and getting spotty skin and tired bones. Even if it means counting to the last penny. Even if it means failing at every plausible objective you set for yourself. Even if it means being ambivalent and un-opinionated. Even if it means looking down at yourself. Even if you realize, every passing day, that you are the bottom of the fuckin pyramid. And that, no matter how hard you try, you can't get any better. Still be. Right there. At the bottom. Where you are. What you are. Whatever you are.

The Dung Beetle

Once when I was four or five or six. Years of age. I was a stout little girl roaming around in umbrella cut frocks. You know frocks that swelled up like an umbrella. A dung beetle stung me a bit. On my left hand or right. I don't remember which. Memory doesn't work that way. And you know that. Just that it was either hand. Probably, my right. And it swelled up like a dung beetle itself. Blew up like a balloon, my little hand. It began to smell weird. Nasty. I didn't think I would ever get my original hand back. In my little head, I was so worried. 

But, it did get better. The swelling went down. The pain went away. I must have been happy. And as usual, relief must have overshadowed my happiness. That's the way it works for me. Mostly I am so worried and then, so equally relieved that I strangely, accidently forget to be happy.

There's this kid that lives upstairs. I meet him in the elevator sometimes. When our times match. He has got plump rosy cheeks. We don't have nothing in common. But sometimes, I go up to his floor, bid him goodnight and then come down to my floor. Translucent human attachment, this. Even if I have had a bad day or good. Even if he has had a bad day or good. He stands there, with his backpack on and a smile on his face and waves me goodbye until I vanish downwards. 

His mother left them. Both him and his father. His father, whenever I see him has wry heart ache written all over his face. As if he has lost himself. Forever and ever. And nothing would cure him. His eyes are as sunken, as his son's are bright. His son, is a miracle. 

I see him chasing butterflies in the garden downstairs. To capture them for a moment between his cupped hands and then instantly release them. Colorful butterflies, dozens, flock the magnolia trees. I hope he recognises the colors. I pray that his vision opens up. And so does his mind. Everyone tells me, he is slow. What a horrible thing to say of a child. 

I am afraid, that a dung beetle might sting his tiny little hand as well. It's three decades after. Dung beetles might as well be, extinct. For all we know. It's not even the same garden or the same flowers. But I wonder. 

To Choose is To Be

In some concocted way of mine, I have finally established that I have a choice. Choice is all the freedom one can demand. And claim. And have for her own. Isn't it. And after years of impatient limbo, I have established that in some spaces, I shall have my say. Sometimes this say comes at the cost of money. Sometimes at the cost of a sore throat and incessant screaming. And baby, I am a crier. I am. It can't be classified as nagging, what I do. I secretly, heinously, stick to my point. Quietly, sometimes, without a word or shriek. So I am uncorrupt from within. And exercising my choice in secrecy. It's quite twisted a concept. But choice comes at the cost of secrecy sometimes. After plenty of second chances, I am having things my way. Raw, cooked, baked, fried, salty, sugary, whatever it is, it's something I have picked and let me have it, shall we. 

I have anecdotes of being a conformist. Even now, in this era of independence in my life, I am more a conformist than a rebel. Because life is easier being a conformist and frankly my dear, I don't give a damn. I am beginning to have very few priorities in life. And areas I am a conformist in, don't involve those priorities. At all. So, I choose easy because, I like easy. Haven't we all wailed enough. Enough of rebellion already.

I don't think this contradiction makes sense to you. Life is confusing and my ideas are very fluid. But it's good to have run-off-the-mill-random Sunday night on which I feel free. Freedom is a huge thing. Very huge. It's bigger than the fucking universe for me. Raise a toast, shall we. 

#NowPlayingStephaneWrembrel 

How did we get past all the shit. Those must have been small steps. For every step we took, we went back half a step. Distances traversed felt negligible. We felt static. Coagulated. We felt we should probably give up. Fuck it, we thought. But on most days, we hung on. Got resilient, if that's the word. For the better and for the worse, we are here now. We shattered egos. Melted hubris. Quietened banter. Made peace. Now it feels unbelievable. From where did we derive such power. Such deafening arrogance. How strong was that will. We should take sometime off and appreciate the effort in humbled glory. Because of not this, then what. If not now,  then when.