Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"And the soul of the rose went into my blood/As the music clash'd in the hall"

It is impossible to be lonely when you have the hills for company. Every time I look up, I grin and ask myself, "How did I get so lucky?" You see, reader, I've been living in this place with its wind and hills and butterflies. Its every aspect reminds me of a calendar we had one year, where every month was a different watercolour of a forest, each greener than the last. So June was greener than April and December so green, it was almost black. I won't be here in December.  
It will rain today; the wind is heavy with promise. It's been whipping me up into a frenzy all day, churning my clothes around me, snatching away my tea cup, spattering the grass with its contents, and then whistling away. I am as restless as it, unable to concentrate on anything too long. The rain will come and then, we will be calm.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

"I wandered dizzy as a moth, towards the lodestar of my one desire"

There is a bug in my room. It is big and black and buzzes constantly. It is too heavy to reach the tube light, so instead, it hurls itself over and over again at the wall below the light with suicidal desperation.

I felt sorry for it and shooed it outside, but it returned the next time I opened the door, flew unerringly to below the tube light, and resumed throwing itself against the wall. "Fly away," I want to tell it. "The night is cool and fragrant; the sky is full of clouds and glows with a misshapen moon. Strange flowers bloom there, and snakes hiss in the silence. There are so many others to fall in love with, and a night is a long time for a bug."

But the bug cannot listen. It will be dead by morning. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I'm lonely today reader, and not even the dog will do. It's odd, because I'm quite surrounded by books and people, and I have this screen that I'm writing on that connects me to the entire world. Yet I'm strongly tempted to fall into a decline and am aweary, aweary. I don't would that I were dead yet; that would be taking it too far. But I think I would like to sleep for a long time. It's the winter, perhaps. I went for a walk this morning and the fog was so thick that we could barely see ten feet ahead. The street looked like I was seeing it through an Instagram filter. It was lovely, and chillingly remote For all that we scream that we want to be alone, the thought of being really, truly alone, without anyone to talk to or think of, is rather frightening, isn't it?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

It is Diwali tonight. I went out to the terrace to watch the fireworks. There are rockets that rise up like squiggly-tailed comets and explode in showers of red, green and yellow sparks. The houses on our street are lit up. The one on our right in a mesh of multicoloured, blinking lights, the one on our right is lined with what are shaped like oil lamps, but glow through the night without a single flicker. Our house is dark save for one lamp above the gate. We are in mourning this year.
The dog came out with me and for a while, he was kept very busy. He would bark at one rocket before being distracted by another whistling past. A thousand-shot thunderbomb finally silenced him: he couldn't get a bark in edgewise.
It sounds like a thousand drummers are all playing while very drunk. There are beats, high pitched and low, with rapidly changing patterns. The steady beat every two seconds is from one of those crackers that goes up once and explodes over and over, sometimes in pink, sometimes in gold and sometimes in red and blue. Then there are whooshes from the flowerpots and hisses from uncoiling fiery snakes. The rockets whistle. A police siren wails.
The air is heavy with gunpowder. Every so often, the fireworks reveal patches of grey smoke in the ruddy sky. It is like the largest palette ever seen: the grey blends into the black and the red while the sprays of green and yellow and blue and pink quickly disappear into the grotesque mix. There is no moon tonight; it did well to keep away. Its brightness has been surpassed, a thousand times over.
Tomorrow, the children will go back to school on streets littered with ash. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

We are waiting for the monsoon. The earth around here has heated till the water on it boils and rises and hangs in the air in a dense, humid cloud. Breathing is difficult and smells never dissipate. We are surrounded by the unmistakeable smell of rot.
It is in the flesh of the mangoes, too soft, too yielding. They begin to rot from the moment they are picked. The flesh, once so firm and turgid, putrefies into an acidic slurry. There is the smell of sweat in the streets, the sweat of thousands, walking, their heads bowed under the assault of the sun. They plod past, dimly seeking shade, and relief. We spray scents to cover the smell of sweat, and they linger in the air, too heavy, too floral... unnatural. The flowers shrivel quickly, their petals curling and turning brown, as their stems, buried in water in a hopeless effort to keep them alive, turn grey and gangrenous. Food begins to spoil from the moment it is lifted off the stove. We smother it in spice to keep from remembering that we are eating dead things.
All this is captured in the windless air, collapsing around us with impenetrable lassitude. This is it: the smell of rot, of cloying sweetness and of decay, of the sense that we can't carry on much longer, in this manner. This is how it will smell when the world ends, when the rains don't come any more.
But not yet. The rains will come this year; the satellites say so. We wait for it and count off the days. We watch maps charting its progress and listen for the weatherman. We wander about with dull, heavy-eyed hope, while the sunshine clubs our eyelids.
It is the greatest theatre known to us. First will come the clouds, then the wind, then the expectation. This will happen over and over again, working our nerves into a frenzy that goes far past the unbearable. We will come to a standstill, all our senses trained upwards in mute hope. Then and only then will the skies split apart, and bring down the deluge.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Reader, I discovered a poem by A. E. Housman today, and I can't stop reading it over and over. Discovering a piece of great writing is a lot like discovering gold, isn't it? You sift through pebbles and dust for weeks and months till finally, you find a nugget.
Read it with me?

When green buds hang in the elm like dust 
And sprinkle the lime like rain, 
Forth I wander, forth I must 
And drink of life again. 

Forth I must by hedgerow bowers 
To look at the leaves uncurled 
And stand in the fields where cuckoo flowers 
Are lying about the world.
- A. E. Housman

Saturday, April 20, 2013

It is summer now, and I feel cheated by spring.

Panda treats the floor of the house like a Victorian fainting couch, collapsing on it dramatically, at my feet. He is there now, panting dully. We've shifted subtly into our summer routine, which is pretty much the same as our winter routine, just later by half an hour and with less cussing on my part.

I like routines. I like that once in place they don't require too much thought, freeing up my mind for daydreaming. I like the stability they bring and the sense of constancy, however artificial. I remember only too well just how fragile this structure is and how devastating its collapse can be. I like to think that I am strengthening it, little by little, day after day, as I read my newspaper and sip my coffee, while Panda peeks at me coyly from behind the marigolds. It is painstaking work with little apparent reward, except when I look back and see just how far I've come.