When Ariadne sat down to write, no story would come. They were right there, there was one fully finished sentence, an almost complete dream, an incident too good to be true. But when she sat down to write, they just weren’t there anymore.

Her mother said if she didn’t pour water over the vessels after she ate, her heart would dry out. Would her memory dry out too? She routinely left the vessels at the edge of the sink. Somehow the turning on and off of the tap was too much of a chore.

In the nights when everyone slept she crept back downstairs to search for a snack. Her mother always said that if you ate at midnight, the banshees would get into you. That was when they ate, you were not allowed to interrupt that. Those were the times she always believed she could write, in the dead quiet of the night. The snack was to fill gaps between empty sentences. Had the banshees crawled into her? Because the sentences never came. It was one gaping gap.

 

Ariadne was a Greek name. I’m not sure why that was the first name that popped into my head for a character. Why Greek? Ever since I began writing stories, I have always been reluctant to write characters with Hindu names. They just didn’t sound right in books. Indian names appeared in books that sounded weird in English. The names had to be English too. But Greek came out of nowhere. There is something about beginning with Greek that sounds like I might also descend into Genesis.

Two times two was always four. I had a problem with that. Ariadne could also have a problem with that. Sometimes i feel limited in writing my characters out. They can have no interest in Math or Science as I don’t understand them myself. They can have no understanding of Indian languages, poetry, literature, even to a large extent popular culture because I grew up with images of blackened chimney tops and Oliver Twist picking pockets.

How does one understand when one is writing anyway? Is there a hint to be found somewhere that the story one is writing is not utterly dumb?

 

Who would believe what my mum said? I don’t and I routinely scoff at her. Yet, in my dreams all my vessels have dried out. As if vessels could dry out. But somewhere in my mind it means that I will dry out, die of a slow, lonely dryness. Like a withered plant that has nevertheless stayed in its assigned plot at the corner of a window that never received any sun because it didn’t face the east or the west.

 

If Ariadne were a woman, would she have long hair like I do? I could make it curly at the end and leave it to the knees to stop them in their track.

 

My mum says if I leave my hair lying loose and strewn over my back, banshees would swoop in and live there. I imagine swinging women moving fluidly like Tarzan from strand to strand or twisted bodies stuck in a braided twist. Couldn’t I wring them out or drown them in the shower or lather them in a soapy massage? Death by shampoo. I’m sure mine are toxic. When I see hair fallen and strewn on the white tiled floor I imagine I have wrecked homes like demolitions of illegal buildings in Bombay. Illegal buildings, illegitimate owners.

Perhaps I could write a thought piece on superstitious old women in modern India- double shifts and twisted minds of the working class woman. These stories come out only in hushed whispers, when you sit down to write you cannot divulge such secrets.

 

Ariadne could be a modern Scheherazade or an Indian Eva Luna – since i borrowed the term modern scheherazade from her in the first place. A magic realism novel, postmodern, postcolonial piece de resistance.

 

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***
फूंक-फूंककर किए सारे तारे किनारे
अम्बर की स्याही में डुबोकर ऊँगली हमने
देखो, सफ़ेद कागज़ पर काले काले तारे उतारे हैं

 

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a page from an old diary, 118 months ago

in two days it will rain

ten things will arrange themselves
ten things will arrange themselves in rows
ten columns will cut across the ten rows
a hundred images will place themselves in ten rows and columns
one thousand twenty-two words will accompany them
 in a few minutes the clock will die
it’s been there for ten years, for ten years it was nine twenty-five
a bonsai plant will appear by the window some day
and that will then live for ten years
i may buy it at nine twenty-five and the dying clock will say it is nine twenty-five
in six pages the book will end
it will last me only a few months
three hundred and fifty-seven pages lasted me two days
there is a stalk on the cover of the book
you have to go back three hundred and seventy-two pages to see it
at nine twenty-five i will finish this book
two of the six pages were blank
in ten small light bulbs the year will come to an end
it goes around a plastic christmas tree by the night stand
a bonsai christmas tree that will live more than ten years.
The light bulbs and the clock compete in a tick-tock to the end
in three hundred and sixty five days they say,
the twenty-fifth line of the poem will be done

A List of : Assata Shakur(?) posters

erasure by omission

click on image

 

back to safety

p on swing
what about edward gorey

what about gardens . what about names . what about clothes without pockets

what about the little finger . what about quotes . what about book covers

what about water bottles . what about names with two syllables . what about twins
what about the chair . what about queen and king-sized beds . what about trees
what about photographs
what about monographs
what about microscopes
what about the seconds hand . what about 12 o’clock . what about mirrors
what about fabric and textile . what about notebook . what about blinking light
what about Maxim Gorky
what about two times two . what about chocolate . what about colouring books
what about fill-in-the-blanks . what about circles . what about the index finger
what about wire . what about radio
what about font
what about sundown . what about bath . what about horror films
what about windows . what about columns and rows . what about shadow
what about gobo . what about ‘many moons ago’ . what about mango
what about pulleys and levers
what about curtains . what about holes
what about brown