What do you compare meeting really old friends from school unexpectedly, with?
I felt weightless today. A lot like a paper on which they’d written their initials with today’s date. I’m going to to keep it forever. I have recorded in it the high pitches of our laughter, giggles while going down our memory lane.
With A and H, with H‘s sister especially, I felt as if I was a child again. Like a child who is out in the Spring’s green – running across the meadows, feeling the air hit her face and feet be enamored by lusciousness of grass. A grew taller, more handsome, and from what I learnt, an extremely responsible man. The school-boy out in the punishment has grown up as a tender human being. As for H, she was never so amiable!! She couldn’t help but chuckle at every single signpost in our memory lane. It is insincere to think that way, but I could not believe that she was planning to go further into Plasma Physics. I mean, I was talking to another kid of my size, only better in Physics.
It was like getting a new UNRULED notebook to write in. The coarseness feels so smooth when ink glides over it. I felt unshackled from the chains of times, fly far away from its junction, from the necessity of letting go. Honestly, I don’t think I ever felt this liberated before. Minutes passed in seconds, and an hour just vanished. It was consumed in being with them in person – not in long strings of messages that lacked coherence.
3 June, 16
“T! where are we going today?”
I asked in partial wakefulness, rubbing my eyes vigorously.
“South City, I’d heard?”, T answered as she waded through the bed sheets and side pillows.
“Oh great! Starmark, I love that place!” shrieked I.
“oh of course you do. But now you won’t. Classicism has flown away.” T grins, and smirks slyly. “They have doubled up the prices of almost everything”. T rose up, looking for her glasses.
“Bad”, I tried to mean it without looking funny with mouth stuffed with toothbrush.
“Yea! Also, it has ONLY books these days”, she cried through her towel.
“Best!” I had fireworks in my imagining myself at Starmark. Thousand loves. That’s, that’s the best thing to even the clumsiest bookworm on the Earth: An 8000sqmt area, all lined up on books!
“I know. And they charge you excessively high.” T, in her sly-smile best.
“Oh, that’s bad!” My 8000sqmt fort reduced to a to-buy list.
“Yet more for you. Can you wait to see?”
Of course. I wait desperately for 326 days to have 30 days of complete paper-light vacations with cousins.
Holy Heaven! T was right! SM has indeed turned into a sort of Crossword now, only with a small receding patchy section for DVDs and stationery. One could still read books at Crossword, till half, till one could feel that it’s impossible to leave the store without getting this book in the hand, knowing that one has already begun to grow with it, and with the book on oneself; till you’re in sixty feet deep love for that book. SM, on the other hand wouldn’t let you go beyond the introduction part, by shooting their dart-like looks at you, forcing you to stop turning the page or it is going to handle such persistent customers in its own way. Friendly, but not so friendly.
I picked up a few titles, seated myself on the same yellow couch that used to be in the kids’ section until four years ago. After reading the entry on the backcovers and estimating what better deals I could find at College Street, I placed them back pretty sincerely. Three books- clean five minutes each. No darts thrown.
Sitting in my room, today, as I type out this blog post on older date, I hear doorbell hit furiously. Standing outside is a delivery man, holding the parcel containing those books that I finally ordered online because although I had got hold of at CS, we found them too bulky to pack back to home.
Afternoons downstairs are way bearable, breathable than it is in the rest of the house. I am sitting in the hallway, stiff, staring at the mirror hung above the wash basin across the corridor, my legs spread apart, waiting for being called on for any help whatsoever in the kitchen. Joe tries to pull me to the courtyard by its friendlier looks, but I am too tired to buy that. “Joe, go away”. It doesn’t. Our tiny Tia tries to hang kitchen towels in the courtyard. She jumps hard, fails twice. “Abar!” (“again”) I shout. One last leap- Tia stands taller now.
Rugs are rolled out for the rest of all. D feels between her fingers the bright lime green handknit fabric that one of our cousins had parceled for Mashi (maternal aunt). Joes tugs it off the place. “Joe?”
Joe sits by Tin’s seat after sniffing antagonism here.
I can see no one is calling me yet. Great! Some self-dependent people.
Tia and Madhu emerge from the kitchen with rice mechanically, with a fixed expression on their faces. They are transfixed to their assigned job. Didu (maternal grandmother) totters from the kitchen and sits firmly on the bench facing against the courtyard. The frayed out leaves of the huge eucalyptus at the corner look like green arms with prominent fingers calling me out to the courtyard. Under the bluish gray sky, beside sipping cool home-made lemon juice dashed with mint leaves, stealing pickled green mangoes from the kitchen-store, the summer-pleasure that sitting at the centre of the courtyard gives is just incomparable.
The towels fly frantically now. The string swings madly. Bougainvilleas fly away from the bush-frame, lying in carpet of pink and yellow..
I’m typing on my phone wildly. A sudden outburst of laughter shakes me: R’s same old debate begins to contradict him like a boomerang. Losing on what it used to be earlier, with a bearing of an intellectual element, it has begun to amuse only children now. Mashi-Didu-ma – the girl-gang enjoys its meal more now when the air feels less cloistered, when it starts to get thinner and comfortable, when drizzles have just begun to spray in into the hallway. The daughters seem to steal back to their older times in Didu‘s time machine.
Palbable memories. 🙂
The sky grows darker, trying to prove the hour wrong.
The best thing about the summer vacations at Mashi‘s place is the rain. And its closeness to the soil. Its closeness to me.
“Let’s go outside Joe?”
I open my eyes to a world that through everything powerful-big or small, speaks to me in some language unequal to any that ‘speech’ comprises. But, am i to record them all? I’m not to write the words of the God like Moses. No- because my faith is very close to me and instead I feel strong force pushing me from inside vigorously, to respond to everything that whispers into my ear the subtlety of their existence. Uncanny. That’s my faith. I write, to inform myself that I exist.
I write because ocean’s vastness is ineluctable, and so irresistibly overpowering that my surfing board and I need to think twice before we touch the waves or the bed, or even both.
I write because something of this ocean makes me fearless. I can sense how mysteriously it moves, settles and yet that its current can break my body into crumbles by the force unimaginable. Not sharks, or venomous creatures in the darkness of the inky Prussian Blue, but the enigma of the matter of that infinity that excites me. The sunset kisses its surface, a new kind of silhouette appears before my eyes.
I write because I want to see how far my imagination can stretch.
Did I mention that I’ve not lived near any water body, literally, geographically, ever, for that matter??
I wish if plants could read.. letters? This one’s for my new little sapling that I got recently from Calcutta. Needless to say, Bougainvillea is my favourite; but this tiny, sickly looking, stick figure has got my heart. I wish it grows well, someday. Continue reading
What do you do after you submit your paper??
Fistbumps, high-fives, ice-creams, group merriment, beamy eyes, balloons, pamper food…? yes. no, but more.
The semester-long episode of TP and endless saga over how wretched the topic was gets over as you sign on that dotted lines that politely wrings out from you the Holy Confession- that you have indeed legally picked stuffs from the mentioned sources. ‘Alright, I did!’. Your signature vouches that for you. You take a deep breath, and watch colours fly across the rooms. You have never felt this free before! Even guiltily for a day, because exam comes knocking any minute now.
You walk down the passage, your tired arms hung around the shoulder of your friend, chuckling, and giggling over the hard-harder-hardest times you have with your TP. You retrospect about the nights you have spent wrestling with your computer, how you have marred the entire document with editing and re-editing that was impeding your train of thoughts and what probably had blocked the sole track leading to your argument. You borrowed eight books from the library that you remember to return immediately, got some five essays printed out, and have let twenty more rest on your desktop. You have never bunked the classes this decisively to study for this paper, because you know that you’ll sleep the rest of the day at home, because you’d think life is trouble-packed. You re-modify your clock now, since the TP season is over. The noon probably ends with a pamper lunch and mouthful of laughter with friends. And the day ends approximately at 6 evening, because you’re as dead as a laughing zombie and want to hit the bed ASAP.
ASAP appears a greyish chimera in your dreams. That’s probably the Bard in his new attire with a new MS held in his hand. You see your exam schedule for the first time, on your own risk. Your best friend doesn’t forget to send it on your phone.
You uwillingly step out, because the new day calls you to work on what you love. ❤
28 June, 2016.
Our train, I heard, would be a) reaching on time, b) run via Kharagpur. Point b. was not really known to me until yesterday, and point a. has been a hypothetical truth since ages for all those who still trust the IR for some begone reason. From what it appears to be differs by huge proportion what it actually is. So, technically, it’s no more something to be gravely annoyed by, unless one has to catch a connecting train due for the next hour. Basically, with IR, one does not play dangerous.
But what annoys me the in train journeys are- stinky toilets and co-passengers with outrageous, unmanagable toddlers. The first one is too vague a problem to be solved. But the second issue takes it into your skull..
These kids are not just hyper-ecstatic, overjoyed, excited for each succeeding nano-second for the next 18 hours, but are also unapologetically communicative. Yes! One could be imagined narrating the neighbour’s secrets on loudspeakers around the locality for crowdsourcing help, solutions, logistics, whatever. I have no secret ways to this particular pack of little kids who have just begun at playschools or have learnt to recite Song of Six-pence impeccably. I see notoriety in their faces, and perplexity in their mothers’ habit. Their shrilly voice pierces through the hardbound held firm (and vulnerable) in your hand and darts into your ears like ultra-sound wavelengths. I wish I could change my seat three coaches away today; for, I wished to spend this train journey rather productively.
Soon, I learnt that the kid sitting in front of us was NOT shy at all, went to school, got periodically punished for dancing in the classroom, loved maths, and would dance over the Moon whenever her sums turned out to be correct. She was on vacation and was visiting her mama-r bari (maternal granadma’s place). Ria, apart from many things that she had already confided to me, confessed pretty soon that she was greatly confused by D and me because we, apparently, did not look of our age. She failed to make out why I should be the eldest one among we three and decided to call us by our names. I liked the way she skips the ‘h’ after getting the first syllable in my name. but that, wouldn’t be probably the last to be seen, enough to melt the snow.
“what’s the best thing about train?”
“I can’t see the entire train at once. It’s sooooo long, so big”, she says with her animated eyes as if trying to find out the exact length of the train we are in. I like the way how she puts extra stress upon her expressions meticulously. Silent hysteria.
“do you like maths?” she puts the most dreaded topic topped with innocence as she searches for pencil in her square Hello-Kitty satchel.
“I like it, but I cannot solve them”, I try to look busy turning pages, hoping that she takes it without another question. She tries to hide her giggles by covering her face behind those tasselled hair, but fails.
“I love maths.” That familiar expression, fails to leave me unnoticed. She loves maths, just as I do literature. Her eyes now remain hung in some invisible thread leading to a mysteriously complex mathematical theory. “I like how 1 and 2 always make 3”. That’s the ingenuity of a barely six-year old in being touched by the simplicity of the subject, despite the Number Theory that will soon be cruel to her expectations like ice-picks on the skin. Or, she might get too dazed, too spellbound to be crushed by it . She looks out through the window trying to estimate the stars we are passing by. Soon, waned by disinterest, she comes back to her piece of paper and pencil, trying to draw the solar system. Eccentricity of the concentric circles and trapped hyperbolic ideas.
Her grandfather reminded me every time of my own grandpa. Ria would knock her head at his wobbly tummy, punch his back, rub her cheeks against his, and would look greatly amused by his moustache and unshaven face. I couldn’t help but burst out laughing, when she flaired her fingers around her face, gesticulating amusingly, imagining cat’s whiskers protruding from her cheeks. Both laughed. Balloons. Confetti. Their playfulness reminded me of our moments. It still does of us, framed in steel placed on my study table in my room.
This apple of the eye, frolicking little child, I learnt, liked to run after her granny’s pet cats, away from the mother’s firmament. The two persona stood poles apart- the air would make anyone feel that. She complained to me about the strict dictum of the after-school regiment, as she pulled out her school-timetable neatly copied on a white sheet. The folds lent her creative maneuver a support. Leaves and flowers in colour pencils emerged from the brown frame, leaving the ‘RECESS’ cut asymmetrically.
Two hours of music class after completing homework by 4, and forcefully putting her to bed by 10 were ‘obvious’ reasons for her to chide her mom. I could realize how deranged her routine was- too heavy for a six year old. She tried to smile through the folds of grimaces while adjusting her hair falling upon her forehead despite hard backward strokes.
The train slowed down as it approached Kharagpur Station. The gleam on her face began to radiate twice on seeing her uncle standing on the platform to receive them. She gobbled on her sandwich as fast as she could and tried to reach for the exit impulsively. Her bag matched with her blue pin-tuck frock, and her hairband sat loosely on her disheveled hair, now fearless of her mother’s furious looks at her hair clips that kept falling loose all over in the train.
I have heard a lot of people discussing the unpredictability of life, which I agree is true by all length and breadth, but is it ultimately a viable topic of research? I wonder. I wonder how callous our approaches become- just because life is unpredictable. The man who sends roses in the day, makes smoke rings fly up in the air at night- because, his love runs away with his friend and life is so unpredictable. The question is: why to malign the support of your lungs because of heart ache that is, let’s come straight, exaggerated by both the parties..? I might sound mean, which I do, but does it not amount to trivialising and overlooking the profundity that our lives come packed with?
I tried to remember her face from the memories fading through a screen, after I learnt that her body had given up in the hospital. I tried, very hard, very exhaustively to pull back the riverine memories which is flowing to a mysterious nowhere, forever. I blankly stared at the wall, trying to recall the last year Annual Day Function in the college, where she had draped a beautiful blue silk and was to ensure that the lamps near the stage are always alight. I could remember everything but her face. I felt as miserable as an amnesiac, until a goodhearted junior sent me a prompt, a meticulously edited photo of hers that simplified her existence, at least now, after that she is gone. I went to the college today to collect few document. A tenuously hung down air began to surround me as soon as I entered the gate. I got to know about her active participation in the college theatre group and her brilliant brainwork in mechanising the team. It hurt me more because I love theatre so much, and we shared common interest, and she was just a dreamer like I was.
I glanced at her monochromatic photograph that rests in my phone- she looks behind her right ear, arms resting on the wedge that supports her body firmly upon the wall. There, there she smiles. That smile is now closely braided with numerous laughs, giggles, shines that her family and classmates had had with her. Her smile is an adornment of V’s Farewell Party posts; her smile is the last thing left for her roommates.
Like the thousand words that I have written and never cared about throughout the twenty years of my life, the words I have smeared all over the sheets in last three hours are just a gimmick to prove my insanity. I have again succeeded in dissociating myself from the second episode of the semester-end exam, series 2, the moment I stepped out of the hall.
T’was Shakespeare. And thee knoweth nothing about him unless thee run thy soul upon the sour lines of his tragedies. Comedies too.
Jokes apart, I call them sour because they are far away from sugary sweet, candy crusted romance and maple syrup verse, and still show you what the entire school of literary criticism attempt to prove- everything lies in the man’s belief and outlook. They leave a mild aftertaste of cinnamon in the mouth as you read past the lines, appearing as something you will crave for, more and evermore. From Hamlet’s quintessential question of striking the dagger, his self awareness of his degree of sanity, to the state of euphoria that lines from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest offer; from the despondency of Othello, to the heart aches in As You Like It- this man makes it all, takes it all. I know where to source quotations from, to put up in my room! What else does one need?
They show you the light to burn the bridges of the past to the forge new and rise like phoenix. Phoenix: Because after each reading, emerges a different or totally new perspective, generation of a new interpretation. Now that’s how the size of Shakespearean scholarship grows to become the most gigantic and diverse pool of ideas.
But…there comes the twist! The agenda of exam left me with no other option but to write same old typecasted answers. The scope of exploration stops the moment you limit the period, compartmentalise the focus- resulting in materialisation of the texts. The excitement that having of a handful of intangible, meaningful scholarships and arguments in mind gave, was probably not enough for the ambivalence that the question paper had to offer.
Now that I am in the metro, sitting with my earphones plugged in, I feel sorry for myself for not having justified to, say Hamlet, the critics, my own hypotheses and my very dear little soul who went through sleepless nights and lazy afternoons only to get as much as possible from books and online journals. By now, my script has been already stacked and packed together with around 400 more cumbersome papers like mine, and is waiting to be parcelled to a mysterious underground den where all answer sheets are checked and evaluated. That’s another mysterious thing that I’ll save for some other day. Just that, it’s Gone. Pshh.
A Bruce Springsteen song plays languidly in the background as my brain contemplates the blunders of the answer script.
Ghost of Hamlet shall save me. As well.
If only Hamlet could try Springsteen, on the second thought.. 😉