A more beautiful month of May has never been. May, being the month of exams, has always ensured us incarcerated in Calcutta with textbooks and terror while the heat and the humidity shoot up to the sky. (This, too, will soon cease to be. One more year and May shall no longer be branded thus. The epoch that has been so long in coming, and yet we wish/unwish it. But at this point we digress and must retrace our thoughtsteps.) I don’t know what turbulence is bringing this but every day it rains, and the old and the squalid are — not dissipated, never entirely dissipated — but at least glossed over with new. I could do with just this much. I could do with the dawns paling violet and crisp, the quiet, heavy skies of afternoon rolling gently into evening showers. I could do with the simple (but complete, but unadulterated) ecstasy of sitting with a favourite novel in the balcony in the spluttering gray-yellow translucence of three o’clock rain; I could be left in that moment — without escapes to the past or the future — for ever and ever and not mind at all. I think of you and what you would make of these pleasures, with your reluctance to travel and your fear of thunderstorms. (This evening, there was a thunderstorm.) It is imperfect empathy, of course–I will never truly understand you. I try not to think of your days, nor think of you in your house, your customs and prohibitions, your dinner-table conversations with father mother brother sister-in-law; for that way lies madness. I think of you only in terms of metaphor: as strangeness and hope, as a landscape beyond the ones I have known to traverse.
Five years is more than one-fifth of your life when you’re still under twenty-five. Simple math, but I suppose I am one of those individuals who never quite register the temporal. To whom all the memorable moments seem like yesterday and the long stretches of nothing-much simply dissolve into unaccountability. I have one year to go but all I want to do is leave and keep moving and keep collecting a few more handfuls of those moments, for the rest will simply melt away; nothing will stick. If you ask me how I’ve grown, I won’t be able to tell you. Only grown wary, only grown restless, grown a fatal patience like a weed.
I want to do the 30 Day Song Challenge but I think I’m too late for it this time. Bye bye, blog. :)
So… well. I’ve been smiling, I’ve been writing, I’ve been thinking/hoping/thinking and I have nothing to say. Who reads this blog anyway? Three people, and I suspect only when they’re otherwise bored. The thought-of-the-day is that perhaps you can only move on (from people, places, obsessions) when you can’t move back in. I am not even sure if this is a thought of the day or a thought I’d had long ago that’s flashing in my mind a lot today but it’s a happy thought. I had lovely lovely extended weekend, there were duststorms and rain in the evenings, phuchka marathons, cheap drinks and expensive drinks, book talk and people talk, and dinner at a fantastic little restaurant with an old friend I had almost thought I’d lost. There was a lot of lazing about and relaxed reading. A lot of happy-making phone conversations. And not much urge to blog about any of it at all. =)
There is this sparkling ball of crystal in my hands that catches the sun at unexpected angles and sends slivers of light into my eyes. I don’t know what to do with it but I’m trying not to drop it, because that will leave shards all over my floor that will sink into my feet and hurt and not sparkle. One day when I can bear to part with it I will give it away, so that it sparkles in another’s hands, because crystal balls are the worst when shattered, and then they are of no use to anyone, and that kinda thing is utter wastage of a harmless, sparkly crystal ball. (The temptation is great — who can hold a fragile, sparkly object in their hands for long enough and not feel the urge to smash it? — but one blow and you’ve had your fun and there are shards on your floor and an absolutely irrepairable crystal ball. This is the wastage. It isn’t worth it.)
This is an important life lesson and should be strictly remembered.
So there’s this book that’s going to happen. It’s not a big-publisher book, but it’s one of those ideas that are just too fantastic to not be published, and this one’s making me extra-cheerful because such ideas are precisely the ones that usually end up not (getting published, that is). So this book – which was created through an online project – contains 33 poems, each by a different writer, illustrated by 33 artists, one poem to one artist. One of the poems is mine, which means I make up only 1/66th of the book’s authorship, hardly enough excuse for my family to send me over to Bombay for the book launch at Wilson College next Saturday.
The book is not going to be available at regular bookstores (only at certain online stores, as far as I understand) but somehow I find myself less perturbed by this than I imagined I would; having observed that the last anthology I was part of – despite being brought out by a more conventional (but small, nevertheless) publishing house – has never particularly been available anywhere except the publisher’s own bookstore. There may not even have been more than one print run. I’ve a feeling that all poetry publication these days is a kind of vanity publication, if not directly the author’s, then the editor’s or the publishing house’s: considering that the books never seem very profitable, and I am yet to come across even a semblance of a standard (but some fanaticism, yes; mostly faulty as all fanaticisms are) that distinguishes good poetry from bad. At times when I’ve had to select poetry myself I have always fallen back on my gut instincts, my personal do-I-like-this rather than any other guideline, and I’ve a feeling that this is what most other poetry editors end up doing. (Which is not to say one person’s gut instincts are as good – or as in-tune with an individual reader’s – as the other’s, of course. Or that being better- or more widely read doesn’t leave its impression on the gut instinct.)
Anyway, not to turn this post into a long ramble on intellectual credibility (yes, to particularly not do that), this is a book that makes me happy and excited. The art for my poem, done by this very talented gentleman, makes me happy and excited and nearly dying to see what it looks like on the book! And it’s being launched next Saturday. =D
This is the interesting paradox: because I wake up late these days my days are a little bleak, I always end up missing the warmth and light of the morning sun in my bones. It is a cold, cold winter; for the first time I understand what the expression “bitterly cold” means, and you would too if you have to come back home every night with a long autoride, dressed in only a flimsy pullover. This is also funny, for just how cold can a tropical winter be? Years and years we complained about it never being cold enough, and years and years we hung out in January in shorts and joke scarves and multicoloured socks and this winter just caught us unawares. I have a cupboardful of winterwear and day in and day out I’ve only been wearing the humongous jacket because the rest will just not withstand this cold. Or maybe I am cold. Inside. It’s been a weird, weird year. Unforgiving life lessons. I’m trying to think/believe they toughen you up in several ways, but the last thing they leave in their wake is warmth.
This week the days have gone brighter. On Saturday I was numb, on Sunday I was upset (again), I was really really unsure (and rather relucant) about Monday but Monday and Tuesday have been unexpectedly nice. On Thursday afternoon I was absolutely elated, there is fantastic work happening which I don’t think I’m allowed to write about or post pictures, although I have the pictures that I’m nearly dying to post! Last afternoon, late last afternoon, I was sitting and chatting with S at the step under the ledge and it occured to me this was exactly the place I wanted to be, right then, that perfectly happy (though transient, of course transient) moment of perfect bliss and zero longing. And then that other afternoon which I spent lounging in R’s room, and R was singing me a song he’d written and I was staring out of the window in the west and there was the sunset in my eye, sharp and blinding and more peaceful than I’ve been in a long time to remember. It occurs to me all my best memories are sun memories. Like the long winter morning/afternoons spent with R (another R, the one more written about in this blog) at the Dakshinapan steps, two years ago, and the things we talked about and the unreality of it and how both of us knew we were creating a bright, shiny bubble – a bauble – in the mostly bleak stream of memory, one that would keep glowing years later and fill our insides with warmth, but one that we would (we could) never return to. A thing of magic. R has been back in town this winter but we’ve barely spent time together, we have gone along different paths in life and have little in common any more, I know we will go farther and farther away but we will always think of that winter with fondness and a kind of naive, absurd idealisation that no degree of cynicism can touch. And because life is long and will change, and because we are stubborn and inconsolable, I keep collecting and loving these little baubles of memory that will – one hopes, one hopes – stand the test of tarnish and time. Everything else will go, but I’ll be there to wave them goodbye and I’ll smile.