Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The conversation is a tale

The conversation is a tale


(Princeton, Ravi and Vidhya)

"There was not a photograph of truth
in the image you saw. My lips
were whispering over his cheeks like strangers.
His arm chained my waist with ties
I never desired. We came close only for a snapshot."
Her new testament was unfolding in my hands,
her neatly written letters composed to belie
what I had seen in a folder she forgot at my house.


(Freemont, Sukumar and Abhiruchi)

"See this photograph, for example. She loved me.
She had doubts, (who hasn't?) was afraid of failure.
I didn't imagine that after I entertained her from such closeness,
she wishes to walk out with a straight face clean slate. Bitch!"
He announced to a correspondent, who acted on my behalf,
though never revealing that the secrets were being shared with me.


(Princeton, Ravi and Vidhya)

"I had to see him. He showed up at my door. What could I do?"
She pursed her lips, her nose twitched, and she frowned to affect
an apology from me for doubting her. He had flown across the continent
and stayed at her house for four nights. "He was a guest. He isn't half as bad
as you make him out to be. We went for para gliding one day, and the helicopter
ride the next day. I was late for dinner that day, as he lost his sense of direction,
and instead of reaching Princeton, we found ourselves about twenty miles from Atlantic City.
So I thought, might as well see the gambling houses. Don't give me that look,
I had fun, and that is what you want me to have. Don't you sweetie?"

"Thats not the point. He never gets lost. I have known him longer than you have.
He showed up this time, he will show up again. Why shouldn't he, if he knows
how much funnn.... he has when he is here." Fun was stretched mimicking her style.
"Now that he has got a well paying job, he is trying to win you over with his money."

"He didn't pay for anything we did on this trip. I did.
I told him that he can pay when I visit him."
We both were hushed into silence that instant by a lady in next row.
The sonata allegro of Beethoven's fifth symphony was about to begin.

As the cascades of music fell, my blisters fell soothed, though I was thinking:
"The woman who never paid a penny more than required, who never bought me a gift
except on my birthday, had spent all this money, on an undesired guest. Hmmm!"


(Freemont, Sukumar and Abhiruchi)

"My trip was awesome. She was pleasantly surprised.
First evening, I took her to the Comedy Club in the Village in New York City
We went for para gliding next day, and helicopter ride, the day after.
Of course, I had made advanced bookings. I was giving it my best shot.
After the chopper ride, I pretended that we were lost
and took her to Atlantic city, ha ha, by mistake.
My gamble worked, my friend.
She cooked on the last evening. Four dishes, candlelight."
My correspondent relayed these words to me, and also told me
that a return visit was planned for a fortnight later.

I cursed Beethoven heartily, and went off to an uneasy sleep.
I had bought season tickets (for two) for the symphonies that year.


(Princeton, Ravi and Vidhya)

"Arizona is so pretty,"she announced when I picked her from the Airport.
I was angry and yet I was driving her back. She chattered,
lively as always, choosing to ignore my grumpiness, telling me
of treks they both took, the dinners he bought for her.

"Lets stop for ice-cream on the way."

"I have to get back to lab, after dropping you off."
I was driving faster than usual.

Her chatter had died down


(Princeton, Ravi and Vidhya)

"Where have you been?" She asked me.

"I am graduating next month. I am leaving for Singapore soon after."

"Yes, I heard about that. It has been six months
since we sat down for even a coffee. If you can spare
a few minutes, give me a buzz. I'll like to see you."

"Sure," I said. "How about tomorrow?"


(Princeton, Ravi and Vidhya)

"I always liked you," she said. "I don't know what went wrong.
Ever since I visited Phoenix, you changed. I guess I did too.
If I ever hurt you, I did not mean to."

"I just got busy. A man must do what he must do.
I have had plethora of tasks to finish for graduating,
and I chose to focus on them. Thats all."

"I know you never liked him much. Anyway, we separated last week.
The long distance thing wasn't working out." She lied.

My correspondent had fallen in love with him.
I had found it out a week back myself, when after months of silence
she announced it in her bombshell bulletin.
My correspondent was my confidante since childhood,
and I had been hers. "Didn't I tell you once that we women always fall
for men who are already taken? I'll spare you the details, but my friend,
your long cherished enemy has been ambushed and removed by me.
As always, I have come to your rescue." I did not find it funny,
and I did not feel any relief.

An Autumn and a Spring had passed in those six months.

Meanwhile, she honestly lied as she handed out the tea.
"Doesn't the distance make a heart go fonder?" I said, with a smile.
I, a cynic saw that she was willing be convinced about my unabated affection.
Only, things had gone too far this time, and I felt no emotion, but pity for her.
In fact, I was amused. "Distance is bad, bad, bad!" she said, with a pout.
An year ago, I lived and died at the first trace of it,
now it seemed too comical, too artificial. "Is it so?" I sung song
She nodded, in her affected style, pout still suggesting, that a hug,
and an awww.. from me, could cure it all. I faltered. I rose and I walked to her.
Her open arms rose, body followed, and on my cue,
I gave her a peck on the forehead, and then pushing her gently away,
managed to say, "Thats why my dearest,
I am putting an ocean between us."

August 2005 & April 2007

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Love packed in green duffel bag

When I left town, I packed your memoirs in a green duffel bag,
I intended to trash.
'Just do it' the bag said, and I agreed.

That was four years ago.
Your son wasn't born yet, though his father
had arrived to dazzle you with his French accent
and ability to concoct desserts
unknown to mankind.

My afterthoughts have determined that my case was lost
even before I first talked to you,
but by blaming him, my passions can slurp
my bitterness with relish.

Reminders loomed every month,
as dates associated with your birthday,
engagement, his birthday, your son's birthday,
your wedding date, anniversary of our first rendezvous,
our first kiss, that night of Kama, of passion,
our last meeting that had passed without an event,
and of details, that every holiday, every festival
had admitted in your name,
as dates, with their fangs and forks,
raked the dying embers of my lost cause.

I have a confession to make.
I am opening the bag today,
not because I wish to relive my memories.
My pursuit is unholy one,
for in those relics, I wish to find
my ability to love,
to love again.

So many words and feelings,
that sound cliched or my own,
have surfaced from her lips.
So many words, once my own,
seem to have so little effect.

A human heart stands like a mountain unfazed-
unfazed by whispering winds and wailing rain.
You were once a mountain, which I am now.
I am opening the bag today, to find
my ability to love,
to love again.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

First cut, uncut. (A Short Story)

I felt like a car backing out of a driveway. I rather felt like a car that was parked in the garage of a stranger, had overstayed there and was making its escape. Her nails had clawed multi-laned freeways in my back, my teeth had plowed fresh pink wounds on her pale yellow Chinese flesh, and yet as I backed out like a car, my only though was to accelerate away. I felt like my ancestors, the notorious Japanese assaulters who had raided Mainland China and left as many corpses behind as their abacus counters could visualize.

Our escape from the Far East, from the tyranny of Japanese customs for me and from the Communist China for her had thrown us into the misty city of Amsterdam. We both had met just two months back, when she joined as waitress in the same Asian establishment that I worked for. Our Korean boss hated us both, her because his first wife who cheated on him was Chinese, and me because my grandfather's generation had bred more bastards in his country than his generation could in a lifetime. He was a bastard himself.

Xialong was a carrom-board breast; I, Hiroshi was a dwarf centerpiece in this city full of Redlight district display bodies. I am not certain what drew us together, maybe it was the sushi odor in her kisses that always made me hungry for her, maybe it was the soya sauce stains on my shirts that resonated with her memories of Nanjing. Our meeting or union was, as if, coming together of two exiles, two rejects, and of course, a limping horse and a blind mare can take the carriage only so far.

I pulled out, exhausted by the realization that I had ventured beyond the shutters that opened only for the privileged. "I wish to hold you so tight that you crumple like a paper," she said, while I made my retreat, as if on the percussion of my pounding heart.

"Seong Lee will kill me if I don't get there in six minutes," I said, waving my hand as I scurried away. Outside, the fog fell in thick plumes, while smoke from my lips dissipated like my thoughts about her.

Xialong wasn't expected till four. Right from the moment I got there, right from eight in the morning, I cursed the hackneyed slowness of the clock. I nibbled my finger flesh in joyous perplexity, from a spring of kissing blossoms, I had traveled to the monsoon shower of fleshy mangoes. Smiles flared on my lips, and in my eyes at every memory of my dark delights. "Hiroshi, don't work too hard today, for the evening may not arrive in peace," she had said in a cryptic sentence that made only half-sense to me. Her straight hair, lips that pursed every time she drifted into her fancies, the palms that were crisscrossed like canals on the map of Amsterdam, her voice that I had always thought of as funny and scratchy, all seemed as pleasant as was her nibble on my ear and breath was on my neck. Xialong did not come at four.

Xialong did not come at five, did not come at six, or seven or eight or nine or ten. My smiles scuttled away, Seong mouthed more curses than I could allow for my girlfriend. I figured that she would be introduced my girlfriend from that day, and I had responsibilities lined up for me. I was ready to break his jaws but for Hannah who cajoled my anger away. I wiped the dishes with all the temper, and cleaned the floor with more ease than I could use to sweep away my doubts regarding the absence of Xialong.

I reached her house at eleven. A bullet through her forehead was as fresh as my memory of her morning kisses. Cops came. I was arrested. Two days later a letter was found at Seong's restaurant. It read as follows:


Like a filament in a bulb, that appears brightest before like flickers and fades away, I wanted to kill myself, but only after tasting the glamor fruit of Eve's sin. My dearest friend, you supplied me with the joy that I wished to be mine before I bid goodbye to this dead world. I had deduced that my efforts to survive in Amsterdam were no different from my struggles in China. I was the undisclosed daughter of a family, who had a declared son, as their only allowed offspring.

I was a shadow being, who was declared dead at birth and raised like a parrot in a pigeon coop, a parrot who must act and behave as if it was a stuffed toy. I mean I did not exist for the world, and I lived with my family as a secret, safe as long as I wasn't found out. I had escaped in earnest, hitchhiked my way into Tibet and then Nepal, and was smuggled into Amsterdam with the contingent of Hashish by a Maoist woman, packed into sacks of that were supposed to be carrying Tea, with hidden Hashish and instead supplied me. A letter that she had given to me, provided me my first few days of residence and food, and you know my story after the time I started working, which was when I met you.

The gang who had smuggled me into Holland, now wants me to work with them. In two months, I have repulsed their attempts with a failing strength. My passport is fake, and they have announced that they will turn me in if I don't cooperate. Life holds no pleasure for me besides you. But you are too precious to be risked, and my friend, I say goodbye, wishing you well.

Let your optimism keep you afloat in tempests of all kind. My ship has designed to sink, and so it must. Remember me sometimes, and remember me well.


Seong carried this letter to the Police Station. When I came out he shook hands with me. He sounded as corrosive as always, but he made me a sign to follow him, and took me into a pub, and bought some whiskey for me. I gulped my bitterness while he asked to me in all seriousness. "Son, did you, or did you not, kill her?"

"What? Of course, No!" I was flabbergasted. "How can you ask me that question? You have seen her letter."

He lowered his voice, as he touched my hand, and said in a whisper, "Soon after you were arrested, I got a phone call from the Police Station, asking me if you were at work that day. I said you were. Then I was asked to appear at the police station the next day."

He drank his vodka glass neat, and continued, "When I went there the next day, the cops had found the revolver used for the killing, and there were no fingerprints in on the revolver. Since you were found on the spot, they had arrested you on suspicion first. There was no alibi for you, for you had left my shop precisely twenty minutes before the gunshot, and it usually takes only ten minutes to get to her house. They told me that they found your fingerprints at various places in her house, and everything pointed to the fact that you had killed her.

I told them that you had left my shop in temper, and that the reason for your anger was my complaining and cursing about Xialong's absence. Somehow it did not make sense to me that you will kill her after the tantrum you threw at the shop that day. The cops argued that maybe you over-dramatized things as it was a premeditated murder. All in all, I figured that you would be implicated for her murder. I had noticed how you both exchanged glances at work. Since I suspected you to be too much in love with Xialong to kill her, I sat down and concocted that suicide note and its story myself. I took care to post it from a post-box close to her house. It took a day for the post to arrive, and here you are, out in two days."

"Mother of hen!! If it wasn't a suicide, who killed her?"

He hushed me, and asked me to watch what I said. I understood.

For a few months, I was as morose as a car, dumped into a used car showroom, parked in a corner, unused and unclean. My attempts to find what really happened were as unsuccessful as Dr. Watson's guesses, and there wasn't a Sherlock Holmes around to deduce what happened and who did it. Then one day you arrived, or Seong, like a shrewd salesman, led you to me, and within a few hours, I was fueled and full throttle again. Xialong, like a dent in a wrecked car, remained embedded in my being somewhere. So what do you say to this story of my past? My first cut, uncut.

I love women as blossoms love the spring

A sonnet written in response to some comments on Pillowtalk, where some bloggers thought the protagonist, who they confused with the poet's self, hates all women.

Many a muse, wise or ruse, with benevolence,
give me my ardor, my color, my fragrance.
And wouldn't I be just a stem or a tube
if I weren't I, by their cares pursued?

The young like morning, like dew decorate me
and the old, like evening shawls lovingly drape me.
I waltz in their gossips, till they go out of breath,
and bathe in their torrents of sorrow and wrath.

Each season they bloom fresh fancies as me
and praise their ideas, they represent as me,
calligraph with my limbs, Rangoliyan reverent,
and present me to friends, as trophies gallant.

I love the women as blossoms love the spring,
Ah! my lonely winters make them more charming?