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Ignominy of Being Forgotten

Ignominy of being forgotten.

It was long long ago that I read a story written by Anita Desai that beautifully dealt with the above said – ignominy – the shame and disgrace in being comfortably forgotten.

The death-drop – the sinking feeling in your stomach when you think about the possibility that your friends/family/acquaintances could simply carry on – without you. Not after making peace with missing you, but rather forgetting to miss you.

The feeling of being dispensable, forgettable, replaceable – almost denying you your past presence.

Have I felt this way before?

The Wait

She was out of breath.

It had been raining without a break for several hours now and she was caught in it – right and proper. She had just walked up to the shop in the corner to get some snacks for a guest she was expecting later. Despite the drizzles, she refused to take an umbrella.. She hated the commitment that came with holding an umbrella – the obligation to hold on to it while the winds worked hard to bend it in the opposite direction – ‘umbrella etiquettes’ – the need to fold it back and hold it close to your body to make sure you don’t drip water on anyone else. Hated it all – Despised the monotony of umbrellas.

She had walked daintily, avoiding mud puddles, to the store and bought a few things – all replacements for the originals she had on her list. She did not care – after all none of these were going to be the point of her rendezvous later. She frowned to mask a smile that dared to escape.

She walked back – the rain was much heavier now. Each drop fell with a purpose – her hair, restless in a make-shift knot, unwound itself and carelessly fell over her shoulders. On another day, she would not let her conservative, gossip-thirsty neighbors see her like this. But today it did not matter. She knew something that none of them did. Something that put a spring in her step and a smile on her lips.

By the time she got back home, she was dripping – head to toe. She walked through the living room, through the dining up to her bedroom – leaving a trail of water droplets as she walked by. She caught her reflection in the long mirror on her walk-in-wardrobe as she walked past. She had never considered herself pretty – at best – average. But today, there was something about what she saw in the mirror – a sparkle in her shapely brown eyes, an extra curl in her long tresses, a happiness she had not felt in a long long time.

She changed into a new red salwar with thin golden lines on the sides – made to her specifications by a local tailor. The color added subtle drama that the day called for. She decided to leave her hair lose, and drew an elegant but convoluted design on her forehead with her eyeliner brush. No more makeup – she wanted to look pretty – not made up, not rehearsed.  A couple of red bangles and a crumpled gold stole. One more glance at the mirror – She gave herself credit for looking so composed with all the fluttering she felt inside.

For a minute an uneasy feeling crept into her. What if her guest considered this “just” another meeting? What if this was thought of as nothing more than another chore to get done – another box to be ticked? For her own benefit, she quickly dismissed those thoughts.  In her mind, she built up his inquisitiveness. She projected her excitement on to him.

She laid out the precious china ware that was reserved for special occasions – the one with the thin gold line around the rims of the cups; small grey flowers on the sides.

And waited.

She had seen him earlier on several occasions – but this was different. This was a date –or at least as close to one as she could get. In her mind, she flipped through the images she had of him since forever – of how they had first met, of all their meetings thereafter.  So long ago and in such different circumstances – those images seemed fuzzy at best.

The initial excitement made way for a feeling bordering on anxiety as the said time came and went. She wanted to stop the clock there and not visit the possibility that he could have forgotten or made a conscious decision of not coming. Could that have happened? Between when they spoke last and now, had they traveled in completely opposite directions? While every waking minute of hers was spent imagining this perfect day, had the date for their meeting got lost in his busy calendar? Now that she gave that thought a chance, it seemed more and more probable.

The gushing happiness she had felt a few minutes ago was completely replaced by an uncomfortable, tangled knot in her belly. Her eyes welled up as she thought about how she had planned for his visit for days on end – dreaming during the days and staying awake at night. She dabbed her eyes with a tissue– in case he walked in at this moment, she did not want to be seen like a rag-doll with mascara all over her face.

An hour had passed after the time and her guest was conspicuously absent.

Did she feel a sense of relief now that she was sure that he would not turn up? Uncomfortable conversations, awkward silences and cringe worthy references to the past – now saying the truth – she was looking forward none of this. She tied up her hair, and stacked the cups and saucers.  While nibbling on the coconut cookies she had laid out, tears streamed down her cheek. She did not make an effort to stop herself this time. It had taken so long for her to get here and for him to just ignore her like she did not exist was just not fair. She hated herself for needing any acknowledgement from anyone-especially him. She cried her heart out –the closure she needed.

She walked over to the bathroom, washed her face clean and heaved a sigh of relief looking at the mirror. This was now a closed chapter – and she felt fresh and light again.

She sunk herself into the plush sofa and closed her eyes.

The doorbell rang!

Her world froze again. Her heart skipped a beat and danced a happy dance. An unannounced smile escaped her lips. Looking into the mirror, she carefully wiped her face, let her hair down from the knot, rehearsed a calm ‘hello’ and ran to the door – justifying to herself the wait all along!

Shadow

I am, but a shadow of what I was.

My body still flaunting exaggerated curves;
Full breasts – expectant of something that, now, will not happen.
Dull aches and pains in my joints and hips;
painfully reminiscent of the inkling of life inside me – gone by.

Veins in my arms, with fading blue knots on them
reminding me of the innumerable pokes I dared.
Toe nails with no paint on them
bringing back memories of the day I decided.

The lump in my throat
the void in my gut – all too real to ignore,
the perfect absence you left.

Things will change – they say
A spot of sunshine, a rainbow, a song;
Good food, happy evening with friends and time.
We know how hard it is – they say.

I wish they knew.

Without you, I am but a shadow of what I was.

Artist

The first time I took  notice of him was when he asked me if he could draw my eyes. He was my co-passenger. For the next week, he found a seat opposite me in the bus that weaved through the streets between my workplace and home and sketched away, while I read my book. He was an artist who was taking classes in a nearby college, and I was just another subject. I loved the way his hands worked magic on the paper. When he was done, the  eyes on his paper looked like mine – but spoke a different language and told different stories. My co-passenger was an artist, alright.

Yesterday, as my train pulled into London Victoria, I caught a reflection of my tired eyes in the window and was reminded of him.

I guess, the stories my eyes told, on his paper all those years ago, were mine after all.

What kind of a dreamer are you?

Nope.. I am not talking about the dreams you have for your life.

I am talking about the unexplained, unfinished glimpses of stories you see unfold in front of you, when you lose your eyes to sleep each night.

What kind of a dreamer are you??

Do you dream of things that you thought about during the day? Does your dream ensure that all unfinished business during the day has a perfect ending and is placed in a beautiful Tiffany box with a bow on it??

Do you dream of people you have never met? Exciting things you have never done? Do you wake up believing that what you saw was as real as real itself? Do you go through the next day with a spring in your step?

Do you dream of scary, bizarre things – and wake up wanting to forget it??
Do you spend all of next day with a simmering headache and a racing pulse because you still can’t convince yourself that what you saw was just another dream.

Or are you one of those who are cursed with one set of dreams – nightmares that you want to leave behind, but can’t because they come back as fresh as ever – every so often, shaking you out of your  life – reminding you that there is no escape.

Are you a dreamer at all?
Tell me. What kind of a dreamer are you??

The other day

…….

We left the building and almost like she had secret drug to offer me, I followed her- dazed – through narrow walkways with colorful buildings on either sides. On my own, I would never make my way through a street like that. I thanked my new friend. The liberation I knew that was waiting for me at the other end, put a spring in my step. When she reached the doorstep of what seemed like our destination, she looked back, with an intriguing smile. I followed her into the place.

People with tattoos all over their body, piercings and wild hair colors, occupied most seats. I found a ‘distressed’ leather sofa and sat down – feeling a bit whoozy just from the atmosphere.

My friend came back, took my coat and asked me if I wanted wine, champagne or tea. Shushing a number of voices in my head, I asked for champagne. I wanted to acknowledge my complete failure at the event earlier.

As I sipped through the champagne, my friend approached me, with the smile that had now become eerily familiar. She asked me if I was ready and before I could gather my thoughts, she put her fingers with neatly manicured nails through a pair of scissors and started working methodically through my long locks. Over the next hour, she tossed and rummaged through my hair, chopping off curls.

I just sat there, sipping champagne; listening to a song I had never heard before, accompanied by tattooed friends, staring at the mirror at my changing face – as my locks dropped to the floor.

A lump formed somewhere in my throat – may be tear too.

…..

Unfinished

Open pots and pans
Bits and bobs strewn around.
Half-read pages of unfinished books
Stories vying for an end.

Songs with unfamiliar tunes
dancing on my lips;
Broken bits of thoughts,
That will never be finished.

Dreams with no beginnings
drawn across my half-open eyes.
My heart races – and I close my eyes
wishing I could continue on to the end.

Another wish –
Yet another abandoned drift.

The smell of rain

She walked back – the rain was much heavier now. Each drop fell with a purpose – her hair, restless in a make-shift knot, unwound itself and carelessly fell over her shoulders. On another day, she would not let her conservative, sleepy neighbourhood see her like this.. but today it did not matter.

She knew something that none of them did.

Something that put a spring in her step and a smile on her lips.

The smell of fresh rain, on scorched earth. For years to come, every time the first drop of rain fell on the earth, the smell would take her back to this day. this place.