Rain in the Valley

It was a long distance call. I could hear the lines grumbling garbage. It sounded as if it were raining down on the window panes at her end.  There were long stretches of silences between sentences. She would ask me a question and then wait for eternity for an answer that would not come. I used to use this silence to imagine where she would be standing. I would picture her in the master bedroom overlooking the valley. I would imagine the dress she would be wearing, the color of her top, the color of her leggings. She had thunder thighs and I fell for them long before I fell for her.

Are you there? I am asking you something... Why don't you respond?

Her bungalow had those brass roof linings which channeled rain water from the roof to run through British gargoyles into a small pond. Some of channels used to leak from the corners. I remember the sound falling rain used to make on the tiled roof and windows. The noise used to be so loud that we had to shout to be heard. We rarely shouted when it rained. She used to calm down, huddle close to me and snuggle into some corners and wedges in me. I loved her in the rains. Actually, I loved her as long as she could keep her trap shut. She had a way of sounding very whiny when she was agitated. She would turn on her lawyer side, and shoot a question a second and wait for me to respond.

Are you there? She asked again.
Yes. I am. Is it raining in the valley again?
What? Have you gone bonkers? Or are you trying to wriggle out of this one?
Tell me D, is it raining outside?
Yes it is. So what? This does not answer my question.
I have no answers to your questions D. Good bye.

Beep beep.

One Laugh Less

Photo for representation only

I have wedding album from one of my many marriages that did not work. Buried in there are smiling faces of friends and relatives who had attended the ceremony. Like many chapters in my life, this too passed almost a decade and a half ago. Today, I am scared of opening that album. Most men and women who could laugh an unrestrained uncouth villagers laugh are dead. They dropped out of my life over the years, without much noise, most without good byes. Every time I see that old photo album, I remember the laughter that I miss in my life.
Most of my loved ones now stand forlorn, as coconut trees, untended, uncared for, in some corner of large tracts of land which now remains barren. We are now dwellers of large cities. My village postman could not compete with the Dominoes delivery boy. He too is now gone, but not before a final whoosh of laughter from his toothless creaky betel stained mouth.
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PS: As an ancient Hindu ritual, we plant coconut trees at the spot where we bury the Ashes of our loved ones.

Almost

It was difficult for him to act normal. For years, he had not had to wait for the right moment to say something. He was known to be blunt. He also felt too old for all this. The music was not the kind he was fond of. It was more of hip hop and he was a lover of good old rock. There were too many people, mostly the young crowd with the blush still on their faces. There was too much light. He could see his ridged and craggy hands, there were grey hairs on his fingers that he had not noticed earlier. For the tenth time he felt his breast pockets; the wallet was there. She said she would be in by 7, he was in by 5.30.
There was this one waitress who had heavy legs. Oddly, she reminded him of Jyothi, his first wife. Tall, lithe but heavy in all the right places. He found himself looking at her more often. There seemed to be some connection. The waitress kept glancing at him every now and then and caught him looking at her. Her eyes were the eyes of a yakshini, deep dark and full.
And just then she walked in. Stately, elegant and exquisitely dressed in black. She was wearing the pearls he had gifted her last Diwali. She smelt of sandal, his favorite fragrance, and she was not wearing those sandals that made those tick tock sound and attracted curious glances from strangers.
They hugged each other and he stole a secret glance at the waitress. He found her looking at him from across the aisle. For a fleeting moment, he thought he saw something in her eyes that he could not place.
What will you have, the waitress asked, once they were seated. Her question was directed at her, we serve good Indian. Continental she said, and ordered some greens. What is your favorite, he asked the waitress. Kachauri, she said, not really looking at him. And what else, he asked again. This time she looked at him in the eyes and said, dum biryani. Bring me that, he said, followed by Kachauri. Her eyes lit up. He loved looking at her. She was actually beautiful.
He made a mental note to come here more often. It was a good place.

In the little time that remains

Yes, I can walk back in time and join our lives together into one. I can make two rivers merge into the same sea. I can make both of us lose our identity and become strangers to ourselves. And then we will fall in love again. I can help you and me crawl out of our skin, each using the other, and grow new names and new identities. I can paint this sky crimson and plant 8 birds of love who will continuously flutter their wings for you...flying nowhere. I can. I can erase your memories of strife and loneliness. Of fights with your papa and nights of sobs in your attic. I can help your dog live longer so that you don't have to see him die. I can babble as you drive me into the night and light you a smoke every time you feel like it. I never fall asleep.

I am God. I can do miracles.

Long Winter Chill

In me I harbor a cold winter chill. Each day I wake up with prayer on my frosty lips that this long winter of discontent should give way to warm summer breeze.

I go out into the cold and trudge through winter gloom. I collect firewood from trees that have given up their greens years ago. My breath turns to icicles and merge with the white below. Every now and then, I come across birds frozen cold. I hold them close to my ears, almost believing that I will hear their little heart beat. These are the times when I am most afraid of snow.

The frost has a way of getting into places inside you when you are not looking. And then, in a lonely silent cold winter night, I hear my feeble heart beat. I believe.

How well do I know you?

From the time we were together to this day when you live in me through my words, I have often asked myself how well I knew you. I have heard this spoken about myself, as to how hard it is to understand me, as if I were a mystery, a Dan Brown novel. I have known you just as well as I have known myself through you. In the fleeting moments of togetherness, I have heard my heart sync with yours and sing the same songs, dance to the same beats. I have felt two souls resonating, as if we were strung to two separate guitars but  strummed by the same cosmic guitarist. I have inhaled your shampooed hair and fell in love with the way you smell. You have breathed me in as I held you close, and from the way I could hear your heart beat, like that of a little humming bird, I knew how much you loved it with me around.

I have heard your Hindi poems late into night and I so believe that your lines are far closer to perfection than my meandering thoughts. I have crossed busy Hyderabad streets with you, helped you buy your lehanga and taught you better bad words to describe your boss. I have sat behind your Scooty and held on to you (and my dear life), and fought with cops and parking attendants. I have even suffered your seat dance through a Salman Khan movie.

Life is a roller coaster ride. The waves that peak and trough snare and separate. It is said that the sea keeps no secrets. Someday, she will return you to me.

Luca Brasi

I am sure you have read The Godfather. It is one of those very rare books I have read more than once. I have often wondered, when younger, about the relationship Luca had with the Don. It is only now, closer to forty that I understand some bit of it.

As we grow older, our personalities crystalline and go on to take shapes that we might not always love. I love myself, I am also at ease with the way this world sees me. But deep in my heart, there is a silent longing that everyone I ever come across come and tell me that I am a wonderful person. I have always wanted to impact every life I touched, positively. However, when I look back, I see that this is far from reality. Back there in my past are numerous graves of people I have hurt grievously. The worst thing about these graves are that so many of them are unmarked. These are those of strangers to whom I have been less than kind, impolite or mean at various times in my life. There are some who walk around wounded still. These are the once closest to me, my dearest, whom I have hurt the most. When you hurt the once closest to your soul, they bleed and walk around you until you tend to their wounds with love, or until you are are dead.

The problem with Luca was that of all the people in this world, there was only one from whom he wanted respect and love. Respect and love in return of respect and love. The Don knew him as he were, graves and memories and darkness and all. If the Don could love Luca for the devil he was, that would obviously transform Don Corleone into Luca's personal God.

In our lives, we also have our Don Corleone's. People from whom we want acceptance of who we are, as we are, warts and all. When your Don abandons you, this life becomes insufferable. You will look into the mirror and hate what you have gone on to become, or, worse still, you will hate mirrors for the rest of your lives.

Luca was lucky. His Don loved him right till the end. I wish you also to have your personal Dons, and I pray that they love you for whoever and whatever you are and will go on to become. You cannot control your tomorrows. You cannot rewrite your past. Don't bother changing your present, there is very little time for edits. We are not software codes, there are no testers to tweak the codes. No beta versions.

Wallpaper Love

I am sure
Your face would have begun
To share tales of times passed by.
A couple of those smile lines
That now give you company
Were originally planted with love
Possibly by I

I have captured you in 22 pictures
Each frozen in time
Each forever mine.

Someday
Should you wish to see yourself
Through my eyes
I will share with you my wallpapers
In there, you always wear a smile
And there are no lines.



From Life in a Multiverse