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गिनती से कल्पना तक

घर के छोटे से ड्राइंग रूम में, एक बड़ा सा दीवान था। हमारा घर जिसे क्वार्टर कहा जाता था – किसी विशाल से मकान का एक चौथाई हिस्सा। इस हिस्से के चार हिस्से और: सोने के लिए दो कमरे, एक कमरे की रसोई, और एक कमरे का ड्राइंग रूम। ड्राइंग रूम में सिमटी हुई कई कई चीज़ें – जैसे छह खाँचो का एक शोकेस और उसमे सिमटी हुई कई बनावटी चीज़ें; मम्मी-पापा की शादी और बिन मांगे दहेज में आया हुआ चार पीस का सोफा सेट, और एक पीस टीवी; एक ज़रुरत से ज़्यादा बड़ा डाइनिंग टेबल जिसकी छह कुर्सियां उसके चारों ओर किन्हीं नराज़ रिश्तेदारों सी बैठी रहतीं; एक गुर्राता हुआ बौना रेफ्रीद्गिटर जिसके कद से मम्मी को कोई ख़ास शिकायत नहीं थी (छोटे से कमरे में शहर बसाना मम्मी को बखूबी आता था); और आखिरकार एक बड़ा सा दीवान।
दीवान जो था, वो कमरे की सबसे बड़ी खिड़की से सटा हुआ था। खिड़की के चार पल्ले थे और उनसे लगे हुए रौशनदान। कभी कभी यूं होता कि अचानक शाम को बारिश होने लगती और मैदान में लड़कों का खेल रुक जाता। तब, मैं बिना किसी अफ़सोस के घर लौट आता और खिड़की के चारों पल्ले और रौशनदान खोलकर एकटक बारिश को देखता रहता। खिड़की के किनारों से मम्मी का चढ़ाया खांकर पर्दा धीमे धीमे हवा में उड़कर क्षण भर के लिए नज़र के आड़े आता और फिर सरक जाता।
मैदान के उस पार, ठीक बारह क्वार्टरों की एक कतार थी – जो हु-ब-हु हमारे क्वार्टरों जैसी थी। बारिश में उन क्वार्टरों को देखकर ऐसा लगता कि उनपर चढ़ा नीला सरकारी रंग, धीरे धीरे पिघल रहा है। मुझे लगता कि मैं अपने ही घर की नीरसता को धुलकर बहते हुए देख रहा हूँ। तब मुझे स्टील प्लांट की चिमनियों का खयाल आता।  पापा रोज़ वहां काम पर जाते थे, लेकिन उस प्लांट को मैंने सिर्फ दूर से देखा था। बहुत दूर से- ट्रैन में किसी दुसरे शहर जाते हुए, या अपने शहर वापस लौटते हुए। इतनी दूर से, प्लांट की सिर्फ चिमनियां ही साफ़ साफ़ दिखाई पड़ती थीं। मैनें उन चिमनियों की कभी गिनती नहीं की, जैसे मैंने कभी नहीं गिने रात के तारे और  नुक्कड़ के पेड़ पर लगे पलाश के फूल. चिमनी से निकलते भूरे धुएँ को गिनना तो खैर नामुमकिन था।
शाम की बारिश में, घर के छोटे से ड्राइंग में, बड़े से दीवान पर बैठकर खिड़की से बाहर झाँकते हुए मै वही करता था जो किया जा सकता है. जैसे मै कल्पना करता था की बारिश में पलाश के फूलों का नारंगी-लाल रंग पिघलकर गलियों में बहने लगेगा। और जब रात होगी, तो बची-कुचि बारिश तारों की चाँदनी में घुलकर टपकेगी। बारिशों में, चिमनी के धुंए का क्या होता होगा, इसकी कल्पना मैं नहीं कर पाता था.
….
bhilai map google earth

something about dreams and sleeping and waking up. a little something about reading and uncovering secrets too

I continue waking up rather late in the morning. Around the time when the old uncle upstairs begins his morning breathing exercises, I crack an eye open and mull over the possibility of an early morning and a long day. Every morning however, this possibility seems just as wretched as the day before and I proceed to sleep- sleep through the noise of the morning and the sigh of stillness once everyone has left. On particularly good mornings the deep rumble in my stomach will wake me up to a large breakfast and all will seem right in the world. Those mornings are often slower than the others, because I reason with myself that a large breakfast needs rest after eating equal to the time taken to consume said breakfast. On particularly bad mornings, an enormous hunger will be met by upma that has carrot and peas in it. A breakfast I continue to refuse to acknowledge without an extraordinarily spiced pickle and piping hot tea. Both of which does not come to me on days that I wake up once everyone has left. Which is everyday.

On mornings that I don’t wake up with a familiar rumble, I begin my day trying to recall a dream. I find most often than not that there was a suggestion of a heavy meal in the dream, which is adequate reason for my stomach to feel heavy when I wake up instead of light and anxious to be filled. These heavy meals I find are always had in dreams where I see myself as a person atleast four times my size. The fat me in my dreams endlessly hurts the politically correct me in reality. Another thing of equal curiosity is that on nights that I begin my dreams with eating, I wake up feeling ravenous. Those are dreams where little pigs go to die and transform into marvellous variations of pork. Unlike my sister, I am neither afraid of birds nor do I find them to be particularly worthy of devouring in such dreams. But many little piggies do make their home happily in my stomach for nights on end.

Some days I dream in volumes and masses. Now this you might think is another way of speaking about my dreams of my fat self, but it is not. People and places appear distorted in relation to their actual sizes in a strange repetition of acts. I mean to say, that if A is giving B a gift I see the act in a hazy distortion of A, B and the gift in their actual sizes and in a magnified version of the same. On one such night I dreamt of giant mangoes rolling down a steep road. Freshly tarred, empty and burning in the hot sun I could see myself running- at once magnified and microscopic – away from mangoes that were palm-sized and boulder-sized. This dream terrified me so much that I woke up in a sweat. But once I had fallen asleep again, I saw myself squashed by a giant mango. Then the image kind of inverted into itself where I saw myself on the inside of the mango eating it inside out in happy reverie. Ever since I can smell ripe mangoes on my skin.

The nights when I read before sleeping, dreams expand into detailed universes that reveal important functions of everyday behaviour. I wake up with a distinct feeling that I have uncovered a secret, a potential epiphany that could change the course of my life. Those are the mornings that begin with an electricity of energy and end in deep vacuum, I seldom remember the secret itself. The next time I read however it occurs to me that I could continue reading without knowing the secret. That maybe I can drift into a dream while reading and continue reading there and wake up and continue dreaming then. Not in a cycle but in parallel lines that never intersect. And then for a while the dream seems infinite. Infinite until the book is over. And then there’s nothing again. Again, I think of uncovering a secret.

 

On beauty as in love. On beauty as is love.

Frida Kahlo about Diego Rivera-

“Growing up from his Asiatic-type head is his fine, thin hair, which somehow gives the impression that it is floating in air. He looks like an immense baby with an amiable but sad-looking face. His wide, dark, and intelligent bulging eyes appear to be barely held in place by his swollen eyelids. They protrude like the eyes of a frog, each separated from the other in a most extraordinary way. They thus seem to enlarge his field of vision beyond that of most persons. It is almost as if they were constructed exclusively for a painter of vast spaces and multitudes. The effect produced by these unusual eyes, situated so far away from each other, encourages one to speculate on the ages-old oriental knowledge contained behind them.

On rare occasions, an ironic yet tender smile appears on his Buddha-like lips. Seeing him in the nude, one is immediately reminded of a young boy-frog standing on his hind legs. His skin is greenish-white, very like that of an aquatic animal. The only dark parts of his whole body are his hands and face, and that is because they are sunburned. His shoulders are like a child’s, narrow and round. They progress without any visible hint of angles, their tapering rotundity making them seem almost feminine. The arms diminish regularly into small, sensitive hands… It is incredible to think that these hands have been capable of achieving such a prodigious number of paintings. Another wonder is that they can still work as indefatigably as they do.

Diego’s chest — of it we have to say, that had he landed on an island governed by Sappho, where male invaders were apt to be executed, Diego would never have been in danger. The sensitivity of his marvelous breasts would have insured his welcome, although his masculine virility, specific and strange, would have made him equally desired in the lands of these queens avidly hungering for masculine love.

His enormous belly, smooth, tightly drawn, and sphere-shaped, is supported by two strong legs which are as beautifully solid as classical columns. They end in feet which point outward at an obtuse angle, as if moulded for a stance wide enough to cover the entire earth.

He sleeps in a foetal position. In his waking hours, he walks with a languorous elegance as if accustomed to living in a liquefied medium. By his movements, one would think that he found air denser to wade through than water.”

This little piece is from https://www.brainpickings.org/2016/01/22/frida-kahlo-diego-rivera-love/

Dear _ ,

I find that as soon as I begin to write as if in a letter, I write differently. As if the letter might reach someone, maybe you. Today, I am wondering what it is like to have a day suitable for a novel. I have not written for more than two months now and still find no particular inclination to write.

I assumed that the romance of the place, the birds, the trees, the lack of internet even would drive me to write. I imagined writing passionate letters to you, continuing half-written stories and hoping that this page would be filled with a long list of vignettes from the extraordinary things that happen here everyday in the nothingness. I imagined I would read such excellent novels that they would serve as my muse even if I were shut up inside a tiny box-like room. I imagined that if I were present again in the same environment that produced writing that has lasted more than a year, I would write again- afresh, anew. The Usha ceiling fan runs well, still. The house is still as decapitated as before- leaky roof, wet walls, lights that don’t work, doors termite-ridden and littered with the kind that creeps and crawls let in everyday through little holes in mosquito meshes and little cracks in the walls. I take bath regularly with frogs and a lizard or two. You have to keep an eye on them, it’s a staring contest until one falls on your head and you vigorously shake it off. They splat, don’t fall, have you noticed?

I have seen things here that I have never before experienced in life, yet I feel unable to write. One could say that I have been weary by the end of everyday after having been out in the humidity. My fingers and toes swell up to little bulbs, causing my little toe much pain as it presses against my shoes. When I return at night, I am exhausted but also filled with the fullness of the day. Then why can’t I write? Where do the words go? There are plenty little spaces for them to slip through and into the forest. Is that what happens? It’s possible. Because it’s just as full of sound as always, the trees stay quiet only until they begin long periods of music. The birds sound cacophonous as if something has happened but they are the only thing that is happening. Yet, I have nothing poignant to say about them.

I’m quite melancholic about how unable I feel to write. And then I think of how beautifully you write and feel a touch of self-pity. There are no raw mangoes on the tree outside even though the branch hangs low. The smell of mangoes and the rain is distinctly missing- these could all be reasons for the lack of words. As for the reading I hoped to do, I have been reading some and even though I am not struck by anyone’s writing as such it captivates me so. That’s where I found this little trinket to begin the letter, what does it mean to have a day suitable for a novel? Is it filled with nothingness or is it filled with events?

The river, by the way is just as exquisite.

the scent of death

 

Flora_Sinensis_-_Sum_Xu_AND_Tortoise

 

The scent of death is warm, moist, and always slightly crumpled
Bundled up in fists like loose earth, shredded like petals of rose
It is the smell of marigolds that accidentally burned in the pyre
And violets that shriveled on tombstones

It is that spectral whisper you catch, amidst the chaos of the ritual
Or a moment you take to taste her breath while in throes of passion
It is restless like a flock of birds fluttering their wings in alien lands
It is also familiar, like the morning newspaper, at the end of the day

It moves slowly and carefully, like the hands of a scavenger
hunting for bones, in the ashy aftermath of sacred fire
Or, it can be swift and jarring – intrusive – like memories
of dull dinners, tasteless sex, and imminent partings

Gloriously romantic, like romping lovers
touched by a hint of melancholy
under the winter sun
next to the creek

Or, it can come
like an even feeling
on a night of blue
nothingness

Welling up in your shimmering eyes,
it flows down the length of my back
I taste it between your thighs
And always find it smeared
on your limitless lips

The scent of death is not climatic
It is not an interval either
It simmers like longing
stretching its limbs
forever in ecstasy
like a poem
interrupted

 

***
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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***

 

 

आकाश के टुकड़े नहीं होते
हर टुकड़े का अपना आकाश होता है
ननिहाल के छज्जे से आकाश को देखो
नानी का सूती आँचल नज़र आता है

 

 

rabbit holes in velvet fabric

I am at a loss for words.

Sometimes it is like that feeling – when you wake up from a nightmare and try to call out to someone but the words are stuck in your throat. You are trying to push them out, but you still seem to be stuck too deep inside your body for them to come out.

Sometimes it is like my voice has just been taken away. And that I should listen now, to the wordlessness. My voice will come to me suddenly, sometimes. In an auto ride, when the driver and I start wondering if there could be just one lover made for us in this world. As I leave, I tell him my favourite line from Devdas, from the mouth of Jackie Shroff, “D se dil bhi hota hai, d se dard bhi, in dono ka rishta bahut gehraa hota hai bondhu.

He nods.

We return to being at a loss for words.

As a child, I spent most of my time in silence. I read in all the gaps of the day. But at night I would go up to the terrace, and lie down and stare at the night sky. With each passing year, the city would swallow more of the sky. But when I lied down on the terrace, it didn’t feel like the sky could be that far away.

Just within my reach.

…stretch my arm…a little more…and maybe I could…just touch…a little…brush against…the sky…

What would it feel like?

like velvet, like felt, like malai, like the skin between my thighs

The sky robbed me of language. Stars don’t need the kind of language I am swallowed into.

But how many men and women through centuries and centuries have looked up at you and written love poetry? As if the sky could care. As if the stars would care. Why won’t they give me poetry too?

I am at a loss for words.

Screen Shot 2018-01-21 at 12.07.27 PM.png
Image from A Popular Treatise on Comets (1861) by James C. Watson