Friday, December 20, 2013

Introspection, and angst.

All your life you overdose on saturated fats and rely on your metabolic rate to do things you are too lazy and too stupid to do. Then one day you wake up morbidly obese.

I am told life catches up to you like that. That you keep running to keep pace with it, taking every hinge and every cranny as another logistical consideration, till one day you wake up and you realise you don’t even know who you are anymore.

Myra felt like that often. Her father was ape shit crazy.  At first he used to be just another Asian man who had made his life as a cabbie in Birmingham and then one day decided the wife’s  income and his entitlement to unemployment benefits were enough to get him by quite comfortably. He had paid tax to these bastard goras and he was going to get every penny back. Things changed when he discovered religion through sheer idleness. Validated by a beard and pir sahib who was equally useless and an equal strain on other people’s bank balances, he felt he had found his true calling in life. His life’s other mission was to get his children married and so he searched for a husband for Myra among the men of good virtue that enjoyed his pir sahab’s favour. The daughters were expected to stay away from the evils of men on their own, unless it was pir sahib, who had access to their hands to touch in a handshake of pure goodness and their heads to pat his blessings on and their backs to say enchantments into to cure them from the evil of men.

When her university boyfriend left her, she was in a bad place. What sort of relationships didn’t result in marriage? First she cried secretly, pleaded with him to reconsider, he did, then stood her up multiple times, then she realised it was over and it was time to find something else to fill the vacuum in her life. It was all very angsty and unfair. That was around the time she transitioned from being angry to really, fucking angry on the inside and girls weren’t allowed expressions of anger in the household – because it is unbecoming, because no man wants a wife who is miserable and complains, because her father was an asshole, because.. she didn’t really know exactly why.

It also didn’t help that all her siblings were married and manufacturing babies with appalling regularity. She spent a large part of her time taking care of these babies, changing their diapers, feeding them, putting up with their tantrums, waking up in the night because they couldn’t sleep, and then sometimes she felt like she was doing the exact thing for her siblings and their spouses too. The world was no place for a single girl. Yet, she thought she had a reasonable deal because she had her pharmacy degree and a job that paid well and no rent to pay. The money just all went into a savings account because there were no beautiful things she wanted to buy because what was the point of looking beautiful when you felt miserable inside.

One day, her father found a boy of good virtue for her – her second-cousin who had some business degree from some college. He looked like a villager and spoke like one but he was sufficiently domesticated, she had heard. He’d never cheat on her, and since she was better-looking and more educated, she’d retain the power in the relationship, according to her mother. She was twenty five too, so the perpetual doom of being a spinster forever was a real possibility. Her father told her that it wouldn’t be long before the men who came to ask for her hand in marriage would start devolving into cripples or divorcees or both, so she had better hurry the fuck up. The second-cousin wasn’t a divorcee and he wasn’t a cripple in any of the usual senses of the word, so she said yes. I mean, why not? What else was she supposed to do? Maybe he’d be entertaining and she’d be the centre of his life because, let’s face it, where else would he find a girl like her?

In a whirlwind, Myra packed her bags and went back to Rawalpindi to meet this second-cousin for the first time so she could cross off marriage from the list of things you do without always knowing why. The honey moon was a week, at some hill station from British times which was almost pleasant. Her new husband had clearly never been with a woman before so he tried to be gentle. It was a little pathetic and it felt a little like those elephants doing it on National Geographic. She had thought about her first time for a very long time. In reality, it was more grotesque than it had been in her thoughts so she wanted to re-visit it as many times as humanly possible in that one week to try to recreate her version of it. The hillstation may as well have been a wasteland. There was a day there when the sun may not have risen and she would never had noticed.

Then the week was over and it was time to go back to Birmingham. The second-cousin-turned-husband waited in Pindi for the paperwork for his visa to be sorted out. She came back and soon found out she was pregnant.

That morning when she woke up after a hellish few hours of pushing and sweating, there was a baby twisting his face and crying for her and then she realised it was hers. A little person born out of a week of protection-free screwing with what was the memory of her husband who was still waiting for his paperwork to be finalised. 

They told her post-natal depression was very common. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


I've lost the will to water your flowers. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Flying without you - an email.

He writes stories with short, crisp sentences, but finds a way to insert semi-colons into them and that was what made me love him once. Well, not love-love, but enough to laterally lift me into a sort of frenetic compulsion that was borne out of the way the slant of his S’s seems to say, ‘I’m a stranger; tell me everything.”

Everyone else was getting married and making babies in a display of staunch Fordism, while I was working twelve hour shifts, followed by two hours at the gym, followed by one of eating alone. It is a fate worse than any, a fate I often prized over all else, coming back to an empty house, inebriated in its colour-coded splendour. And then there was a stranger, and another, and another.

There’s no story here. I was just overwhelmed by an urge to write, and even more so by an urge to write to you.
I once tried to take this man to your Rose Garden. I wanted him to see it in its unapologetic glory. But he was in a suit, and it was a warm day, and the laptop bag in his arms was heavy, so we sat by a bench about ten minutes or so off, and never quite made it. He was a good man, but it was an awkward encounter. We had kissed before in another country, at first by accident, and then not by accident, but on that bench our hands just fiddled away from each other. He was the first man I kissed ever; he tasted of fine cheese and salt and paint. But then we were running to St Pancras and apparently there’s a rule which says you can’t kiss when you fast, so I suppose I broke my fast with fine cheese and salt and paint that day. Your Garden, I never went back to it. It was one year to that day, give or take a few, and I was breaking my fast to Bloomberg, because that was perhaps my eternal love. That man, things just didn’t work: he tried so hard to be good for me that he stopped being good to me. It was sad, he cried, I cried. It was messy. I vowed never to kiss again.

The man with the slant on his S’s, he’s gone too. He just disappeared one day in the afternoon. I loved him like I loved myself, because he was my own reflection, and because he never tangibly existed to begin with. It’s complicated. I should tell you some time. He made me write and then he pushed me away and out and pulled and tugged and made me write more. I hope he’s okay, whoever he is, and wherever.

I don’t know what an epic love story is. I feel like I’ve had many, though I’ve had none. Maybe one day, I’ll write independently of them all, but then perhaps, I don’t need to. In the meantime, there are strangers from Dublin, their eyes so blue and their voices so titillating, who sit drinking on stages, recounting stories from momentary loves that inspired them. One day. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Tipping Point.

When I finally woke up the morning after, there were only five Euros left in my purse and my ankles had bloodied clots in a semi-crescent formation. An ambulance blared through the drone of the Monday morning traffic, and a church bell chimed unmusically. Swearing at the whole universe, I stumbled out of bed, with a white-hot hang over and the faint memories of a complete loss of dignity.

I don’t know when or how, my life had become a drunken stupor. At about 7 pm every day without exception, I could be found at the nearest watering hole and within the hour, a long glass of Red eroded into a Long Island. Life became merry then, and sometimes rather dramatic, so we all laughed on things that often didn’t make sense, and not-so-secretly hoped someone would make out with someone so that we would have something new to talk about. Scandal. How unexciting life can be without it. It was not possible to escape it unless you used religion as crutches, and these crutches gradually gave way and you found yourself smoking again within a year of quitting. Then your subconscious would suggestively hand someone mints, while a sober you would be shocked at such candour: what an absolute hussy!

Then there was yesterday, beautiful, sunny yesterday when the geese were all out to play by the Serpentine in Hyde Park. Or was it the Boating Lake in Regent’s Park? Oh, for fuck’s sake. What difference did it make? There was a lake, and it was a fucking beautiful day, and you smoked and drank and life went on till someone pulled out Tagore’s ‘Unending Love’ and there was chaos again.

I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times…
In life after life, in age after age, forever.
My spellbound heart has made and remade the necklace of songs,
That you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms,
In life after life, in age after age, forever.

So, it made you remember of what you were once and who you hoped to be, and this mess, this was definitely not it, but the memory of the memory was so infinitely painful, that you chose to fall deeper into your cycle of trying to forget. A moral compass broke somewhere. There was a rave. No, dubstep. What was the difference? Did it matter? Rivers of Jack Daniels flowed and there was LSD and MDMA so we were all tripping, but then it became unbearable and someone pushed and stepped on a foot and danced and shoved while they danced and her boyfriend felt up other girls and I saw him and everyone else saw him too but he lost his wallet and threw his drink at someone and there was smoke, so much smoke, and the lights blinked on and off in epileptic frenzy and there were so many people to be taken care of in the Moulin Rouge-esque terraces and no amount of alcohol could get you drunk suddenly. Moulin Rouge. Paris. Only tourists did that shit. He had told me once that the local blend was too sophisticated for that sort of thing. Him. And his total disregard for all that was mainstream. I missed him and that made me sad, but then I thought about how there was always a boy in every sad story, and that made me laugh, but I missed him still, except I missed him fondly, not sadly.

You and I have floated here on the stream that brings from the fount.
At the heart of time, love of one for another.
We have played along side millions of lovers, shared in the same 
Shy sweetness of meeting, the same distressful tears of farewell-
Old love but in shapes that renew and renew forever.

When I fell into the bathroom to throw up, I tried to push my hair away but there was too much of it and I wanted to cut it all off. No, I wanted to stand in the shower for hours and hours till I could wash this decadence off me, but the window was ajar as it always was and there was a man in his full frontal nudity and a hairy belly in one of the windows in the hotel right across me, and in customary fashion, I closed it, much to his disappointment and stepped into the shower and over Estee Lauder’s rosy Pleasures shower gel, I decided that I had had enough.