Let’s begin, shall we?

Raise one eyebrow. 
That’s easy enough, it’s genetic.
Now, the other.
Ah,now there’s a difficulty. How can I raise the other? I contort my face. I try again. Both go up. They furrow. I try again. Both go up, comically raised in atbutham.
Again.
I try again, press my palm down on one and force the other up. I try 100,000 times. I raise one. Now, the other. There you go, now?
Do you look like one?
I look into the mirror, long and hard. Long hair, kohl-lined eyes, earrings dangling from both eyes.I raise one eyebrow, then the other. I do it rhythmically, increasing my speed to the beat of the chenda. 
Stop.
At most, a clown’s instruments to play the Fool. A veshakaran? No.
Then be that.
What?
The Fool. The Harlequin.

 


	

WeaRIng SenSIble Shoes

What are you wearing? It doesn’t matter.

Where are you going then? It doesn’t matter.

But what you’re wearing would depend on where you’re going.

It doesn’t matter!

But how are you going?

I’m going to walk it.

Then shouldn’t you wear something appropriate?

It doesn’t matter.

Your shoes might matter.

It doesn’t matter.

You might trip.

It doesn’t matter.

What if you fall, face first?

shrugs

What if you fall on your butt and you have a patch of dirt on your behind the entire time?

Then I have a patch of dirt on my behind the whole time.

People will stare. People will laugh. What if a cute guy walks by?

Then we’ll laugh together.

You might fall.

It doesn’t matter. It’s not an obstacle race.

I walked down the road, earphones in ears, bag on back,shoes on feet. I fell. Dirt on butt. Cute guy walks past. No one laughed. Someone smirked. Everyone stared.

I changed into sensible shoes, I walked on the pavement, I turned the volume down for traffic on pavement. The first clump of men stood resolutely still. I walked toward them, hoping they’d move. They stood and watched me walk toward them. I got closer.  They kept looking. One look at my shoes. Others elsewhere on my person. I reached where they stood. They got a closer look. I stepped onto the pavement and navigated around them. They resumed chatting, stray eyes fixed on my back.

I took off the earphones and kept them in my bag as I crossed the road to avoid second clump of men. One man loitered around on this side of the road. I walked toward him. He walked a little closer and stood still. I kept walking. He stood and watched as if admiring the way my pants clung fittingly to my legs. He stood mesmerised as I walked closer. He stood in front of me and then stared after me, finding my eyes staring back. He stared unblinkingly as I walked past.

I lowered bag on back and continued walking. Shoes held on tight and firm. I got to my destination, did what I had to do and walked back home. Quick trip. Barely warranted a change of shoes. But they were on and they were pink along the sides. I walked back and got stuck behind a dusty group of men. I wondered what their original hair colour was, they all sported the dusty white of cement. One turned around, then the rest. They looked, sniggered and stopped. I tried navigating around them and they walked faster. This continued for a while, till I crossed the road again.

I walked faster, bag on back, bag in hand, dust in eyes. Man on bike slows down beside me, I walk faster, he rides faster. I slow down. He rides past me,head turned completely. I marvelled at his flexibility. I fall butt first. Man rides away. Cute guy walks past. Shoes get dirty, but stay on. I walk back and don’t see more or hear anything else.

 

FEast OF FooLS

Almost a year ago when I decided to study abroad for a year, it was a sort of escapism from the deep abyss I saw India slipping into, in the near future. I thought lives would change radically, things would slip into chaos in an unforgiving dictatorship. I lived in a bubble of dystopia in my head, even as everyone continued with their lives with the same degree of normalcy. Some may even say with a higher degree of optimism.

As Winston sat down to write in his diary the mundane realities of an implausible world, he created a schism between phantasm and reality. Either he was mad or the rest of the world was. What seemed more possible? I always thought that book would end up with him in a mental asylum. It didn’t.

As soon as I left the country though, it suddenly felt as if I had set off a pack of dominos in my wake. The only bits of news that pilfered across a continent and two worlds, was news about large scale protest movements and escalating atrocities against the Dalits. I expected a communal riot, but caste ran the first leg. What worried me endlessly was not just that it was happening, but that I was stuck a million miles away and no one around me knew. I sat in endless discussions about Brexit and Donald Trump, Modi who?  Whatsapp conversations, an Indian friend,skype chats with the family added to this nightmarish normalcy. They looked the same, they still spoke about their boyfriends,the menu for lunch and dinner, the cousins who were pregnant. Hadn’t Rohith Vemula just committed suicide? I turned to those friends still in university, they were all student protests, so at least they’d be agitated. They spoke of endless assignments, not having time to read the news, not having seen this particular news, Delhi was so far away, did the locked up students get Hyderabadi biryani? I was keen to come back to India.

Una happened only a few weeks ago. I had a brief chat with Arnab Amuses Me, about the whole Kashmir issue being hyped, he also thinks Una was an isolated incident.GST is big at the dinner table. Meanwhile, I must find a way to pay off that student loan.

What city is this?

walls

What is a city?

walls

Where are the people?

walls

Where is the green, the blue and the brown?

walls

What grows here?

walls

What plagues the people here?

walls

What walls are these?

walls