Monday, June 19, 2006

me and leo at it...

The sub way and a star lit night

The big round clock on a thick pillar of concrete struck the hour and its hollow ring echoed back and forth through every corner of the narrow passages of a subway leading to a railway station in the small town of la Madera in new Mexico…it was twelve o’clock at night Sophia was dashing madly across the rain washed streets to catch the last train home. The next couple of minutes were frantic and hurried with the money being tossed across the counter and a swift snatching of the ticket, the impatient swipe of the card and again a half run through the gates past the metal detectors into the platform where there were 8 other people around. Most of them were average shopkeepers going back home after an uneventful day of mindless profiteering and selling. Many of them drunk and some clicking their heels and aiming at an invisible object on the ground which they tried to fling with their best shot putting Mara Dona to shame. Sophia looked all around breathing a silent prayer thanking for not missing the train. She opened her bag, took out a tiny bottle of liquor and drank it surreptitiously crouching behind her large bag that she was holding with a desperate self consciousness of a drunkard about to drown his parched throat with the first swig of delicious poison. She was a bar maid at a nondescript road side pub, one of the millions that remain neatly arranged along the roads like tiny match boxes with flashy neon lights spreading the cold lurid glare silhouetting the dark shadows of ruddy frail lumps of flesh with a purple haze casting black slimy shadows on cold hard streets of concrete. Many called her attractive with her long curly hair loosely tied together and her long sharp nose and beautiful raven black eyes .she had always looked a little incongruous behind the narrow bar promising escape and revelry in the midst of mindless frivolity of a tiny hole filled with reckless intoxication in a small southern town of new Mexico. With her feet crossed on the bench she took out a pack of cigarettes and lit it with her fathers old lighter that she always kept to herself reminding her of the days in the park when her father smoked his cig with a smile of contentment on his lips while watching his 8yrs old daughter swinging madly with the wind kissing her long golden hair and her laughter mingled with screams of delight ringing in the air. He died the next day in a road accident. The little familiar tune of the lighter that used to mingle with the air whenever she lighted it reminding her of the smell of cheap cigars and olives that used to waft around her father is gone. Now the lighter has become rusty and old and all she remembers faintly are those few moments before her whole world collapsed in the matter of an hour.
She finished the tiny bottle with couple of long quick swigs and relaxed a little. The tiny fragments of the past slowly started seeping through her mind and soon she forgot the train, her home, her man waiting for her back home…. the only thing that remained were those moments of bliss till the crushing wheels of fate and the trailer rammed on him and splattered his entrails all over the street. Sophia often wondered when the pain receded into the background leaving enough scope for objectivity and curiosity that what could have been her father’s last thoughts. What was he thinking before he saw the trailer racing to kill him. Did he not see his death in front of him? How could he miss the huge mass of cold steel pushing him to death? Was it a deliberate attempt to kill him or did he really not see it. Or did he just for those moments want to experience the little thoughts that flicker in front of your eyes… the vision of your own death. How many times has she stood at the edge of the platform thinking what she would feel if she throws herself on the tracks right now. “And let the speeding train chop you to bits. What would I feel for those few seconds before life slips out of every pore of my body? Will it be the truth, the final truth that all the philosophers all the artists of all times have strived to reach? And it will come in those few moments before you are tossed into oblivion. Mans whole life lived and suffered through, for those few moments of clarity, of god, of death, of life, of being….
Right now. Her mind screamed on those occasions right now right now go for it the train is coming no one will watch you. No one will. You are just a lump pf flesh in the crowded vision of gods plan of the universe. Gooooo.jump. Leave. Live. Die at the same moment. But every time her tiny feet slowly brushed past the rim of the platform a voice screamed her not to. Those few moments of indecision where her curiosity was faced by a bigger and tougher opponent her desire to hope for a tomorrow were too long and the train always zipped past her and she mutely obeyed the commands of life and entered the compartment with a humble bow of defeat.
With all these thoughts throbbing her mind with a piercing headache she heard the trains loud wail. She wondered whether she would give death another chance and hurried past the people to make her way to the farthest corner of the platform trying desperately to make up her mind to find out if she would eventually jump and will that day be today. But it seemed like a lot of effort for her to think. Her mind was slowly snuggling in the comfort of dizziness and ennui. She slowly rambled her way into the empty compartment silently hoping that no one will come and disturb her languid tranquility. Suddenly she heard a cackle of laughter coming from what seemed like a distant realm of hollowness with a man’s voice dripping into the abyss and filling her with rage.’ god what an intrusion’. She was almost ready to glare at this rude offender of her peace that she saw a thin short man with his back turned to her talking and laughing to someone on the phone.’ What a loser to laugh like that what’s so funny. Well fuck him’ and she turned to her side and tried to focus on her thoughts. Empty train compartments always filled her with strange thoughts. The series of yellow seats in a row where hundreds of people have sat on through the day, and she often tried to imagine and recreate their lives. Seat no 1 the woman ‘s name was Marie, divorced, two children hmmn and a dog. Seat no 15 man middle aged, cheating on his wife with his secretary two children and one cat… she spend number of hours trying to put faces into the pale trail of humanity that lingered on those empty yellow plastic chairs. But today she couldn’t concentrate for that horrible man and his loud baritone ringing through the empty carriages flinging her thoughts at random. She looked at him one more time waiting for him to turn to her wondering what his life would be like. But happy people have always put her off. She always presumed that their lives would be less interesting coz they are satisfied with the little things that life throws mercifully at them. And then he turned and flashed his blue green eyes at her. She wondered what his name could be judging by his long hair and small figure wrapped in a leather jacket. Then he hung up and sat right across her. All the while Sophia was looking at him with the strange gaze of hers trying to imagine what his life must be like…suddenly she was interested in this seemingly normal man.

Scene 2:
Still smiling from the persistent echo of the phone call’s humor, he tightened his jacket collar around his neck and began to fidget with the overall condition of his appearance. Had he wanted it all to be too perfect? A wrinkle in the pants, a piece of lint on his coat; where they that intolerable? He decided not and draped his arms defiantly over the back of the subway seat, taking a conceited gaze through the compartment. Three women, and one man. “A business man of some type,” he thought in dismissal. “What good does his business do him? He looks nothing more than tired!” The same dismissal nearly caused him to overlook the woman sitting in front of him. But…he knew. He knew she was looking at him. And the image of her persistent stare in the corner of his eye caused him to lift his chin and look beyond her, pretending to be more interested in the design of the compartment than her. His rude smirk quickly diminished to a mild frown. Even without meeting her eyes with his, he knew that the random anonymity of the subway could not disguise him tonight. She was staring. He knew he would eventually have to acknowledge her and forfeit his anonymity. What would follow? Another dull conversation about how cold the compartments were? How unpleasant the constant rattling on the train was? How lazy the repairman was who didn’t fix it? Had he not brought his cell phone to replace one casual conversation with another? And yet he knew. At some point, he must look, and she will look back; total anonymity lost despite the subway’s patent on it. And yet, he put himself in that seat, no one else. There were several other empty seats. He could have chosen one. He could have sat alone.
Feigning his disinterest he casually began to look her over. “Feet crossed? Is the floor too dirty for her? Does she have to smoke? She must cough a lot. She dresses nice,” he mechanically thought to himself, as if she were inventory and his mind a list. Maintaining his disinterested and defiant glance, he resolved to look at her. She squinted at him. Was she being critical? Did she wield her own defiance? “All the smoke must be stinging her eyes,” he joked to himself with a smirk tightening at the corner of his mouth. With the stealth and safety of his arrogant smirk shielding him from the arrows of her immovable gaze, he decided it was a good time to meet her eyes with his. “Fine, have it your way,” he thought. So he looked. And he paused. And the creases at the corner of his eyes forgot the arrogant side effects of his smirk and smoothed. He felt as if his whole face collapsed. “Not criticism, but pain. Not criticism, but pain,” he recited to himself in near prayer. His defiance gave way to panic, as though the floor of the train were pulled out from beneath him, exposing the menacing and hungry teeth of the frenzied tracks below. Ready to grind him to pieces if not consume him entirely.
“You have to go,” he remembered hearing as the door shut in his father’s face. His mother turned and stared at the listless doorknob, nearly begging the knob to forget that she ever turned it shut. “Turn it again. If you turned it to close, you can turn it to open,” she argued with herself. But she couldn’t. The doorknob would not forget. SHE would not forget. She was married to the man behind the apathetic door for nearly 17 years. Married and happy, she believed. The first cracks in their wedded fortress began to show over two years ago. His work, always a priority to the both of them, was beginning to take precedence over their partnership. The day came when he told her, “Business is picking up. The job’s going to need me, but it won’t be long.” It was not a question for her approval, what he said she had to accept. And he never asked; he told.
Her belief in him weakened with every hour “extra” he stayed at work. At first he stayed only two hours longer. Each month the “extra” lengthened, until he was home no sooner than 9 o’clock every night. “I have to…I got no choice. I’ll get fired if I don’t!” he argued, “I’ll take time off, I promise.” But the specter of his job continued to take him from his wife and home. “Or is it work?” she thought. She juggled this thought in her mind with reassurances month after month until at last… the day came when he walked through the door and the slightest scent of perfume caught her senses. She nearly chose to ignore it, but a voice appealed in her mind again and again, “That is not your perfume! It is not YOUR perfume!!” She bridled her suspicions until he fell asleep. She slid quietly out of bed with the familiar hiss of the sheets eager to betray her to her husband. She walked expressionless around the bed. As she neared his clothing thrown by the bedside her brows and lips buckled. She knew. The white collar seemed to form the mouth of some demon who leered at her and mocked her every step nearer to it. It called her fool, it called her pathetic, it called her weak; because she knew the truth for months but denied herself the finality of it. Her foot pressed over a creak in the floor, but it went unheard to the sleeping husband as certainly as it did her own ear. She bent downwards, squatted next to the clothes, and reached for the collar. Her arms quivered and her hands drained of blood. She lifted the shirt, tight in both fists, to her nose and shaky eyebrows. She buried her face in the shirt with tears soaking into the fibers. Her breath caught. She held it. Fear surmounted her willingness to the truth. Eventually she would have to breathe in again. She did. Despite what her heart advised, her body demanded her to breathe. As her belly moved she sucked the air into her nose, sucking with it every scent that hid and clawed for safety in the fibers of her husband’s shirt. The sting of the scent poured through her nostrils and invaded her mind. Its poison and malice choked her lungs with truth. The same truth she naively denied for the sake of happiness. For the sake of security… He was not staying at work. She never saw the overtime pay. There was no proof of it in the bank statements or bill payments. He was somewhere else…WITH someone else. The unfamiliarity of the perfume saturated her lungs. “This is not mine,” she said to herself, her desperate hands squeezing the shirt ever tighter. Her thoughts raced, her heart severed its cords, and her mind battered her with insults until she fell over with sobs more ruthless than Death. And that is how she laid all night…her mind numb, her husband asleep. Her body gripped by automated weeping with a mind long shut off to protect her from the reality. The reality she so doggedly denied. She wept, he slept. She broke, he snored. She shook on the floor, he waded comfortably through the softness of his dreams of another woman. When the morning came he noticed nothing different. He grabbed his coffee, drove away, checked his shave in the mirror, and went to work. After work, at 5 o’clock, he never noticed her following behind. And he certainly didn’t see her parked half a block away as he embraced the woman who supplied to him all that he no longer accepted from his wife.
The smirk deteriorated from the surface of his face. The train continued to rattle. His mind rattled, in a thousand sympathetic shivers, the image of his mother staring at the doorknob, with his father shut behind it. The finality. There was something final in the woman’s eyes, as she sat staring at him from across the seat behind her critical squint. He could see the finality of his mother’s eyes begging mercilessly to the doorknob…in the pair of eyes in the other seat. “Give me death, give me finality,” the stranger’s dark eyes pleaded.
“Hi,” he said, raising his arm from its rest on the seat, “I’m Donovan. Can I bum a smoke off you?” he asked in an attempt to re-mask his nervousness behind his arrogance and counterfeit disinterest. She pulled out a fag from the cigarette box. She liked hardpack, softpack was too delicate for the dramas of her world. He leaned forward and grabbed the fag, exaggerating his movements as part of his re-masking. As he leaned forward she lit the cigarette to the bitter mental protests of, “You would use this lighter on HIM? On THIS conceited man?” “I’m Sophia,” she flatly said.
“Sophia?” he began to lean back, drawing off the cigarette in unison with his movement, “like the Roman Goddess of Wisdom?” That ought to confuse her, he thought, she’ll never figure that one out, and she’ll think I’m all the magic and intelligence for informing her. He continued to lean backwards arrogantly.
“Yeah, like her,” she flatly responded as he smiled his satisfaction. “Only Sophia is Greek. Not Roman.” He winced and paused nearly undetected. There was a hint of challenge and warning in her voice. The mask which had made its way into his eyes dropped away and his body tightened as if stabbed by the threatening tone of her voice.
“Yeah, that’s what I meant,” he recoiled. She continued to stare at him, leading his eyes to settle on anything but her. With a new courage not yet upon him and the old courage not yet dead, he ejected, “She was also adopted by the Christians, you know.”
“Yes I know,” she said with a slight hint of enthusiasm. “The Hebrews, to be exact.” He winced with a cough. She smiled amused at the little fish flopping in his seat as she blew a stream of smoke his way tauntingly. She joked to herself: He’s obviously no better a smoker than he is a scholar. “You’ll die young if you keep taking cigarettes from girls on trains.”
“Hah!” he declared dismissively with a stream of smoke shot towards gods and angels that he believed abandoned him, “and what does Death hold for me that I haven’t already discovered in Life?” She quickly reflected on the speeding tracks which she begged for. She begged release, she begged liberation, she begged an answer, and she begged finality. His mention of death, however trivial, rekindled her former thoughts. She wrestled with her thoughts as she looked into the shapes of smoke for help. She saw her body and the life within her twist and tear beneath the regularly spaced tracks as the smoke spun and splintered…she imagined her soul hovering heavenward as the smoke slowed and gathered together before dispersing away.

She looked at him one more time through the purple haze of smoke with the silent city zipping past her with its empty streets and gleaming lonely lights flickering in the darkness that was slowly creeping past the houses devouring everyone with life slowly snuggling its way to comfortable sleep. The wheels were cutting through the wind as the train shot past life carrying those passengers the only residue of life struggling to stay awake. Sophia looked through the window past the dark houses with the lights switching off one by one till there was darkness everywhere. Ordinarily she would have tried to imagine what those people were doing behind the close curtains. But tonight she couldn’t. Her gaze lingered on each of the houses as they moved past her but she couldn’t avoid the furtive shy glances that the stranger was casting on her. The cigarette episode went, as she had wanted to with her crushing his male pride and his masculine learning. ‘What a moron’, she thought, such a fake…impressing women with Greek myths. What a lame way of picking women in trains‘ She imagined his many conversations with a glass of whiskey in his hands with dolled up women impatiently waiting for men to fan their vanity so that they could grace him with a fuck at the end of the game. One whole night of role-playing each conscious of the gaze, the movements, the eyes, the lips, the dance, the casual small talk bursting, each trying to conceal his or her desire and all that beauty of restrained love making in the mind reduced to a casual impersonal fuck! She stole a glance at the man STILL PRETNDING to stare past her at the dripping drool crawling through a bushy moustache of a drunken man snoring his way to the arms of his mistress. Since she had taken an immediate dislike to this ‘pretentious asshole’ with the smell of cheap cologne wafting around him she thought of the many casual insipid conversations he must have had with the many women who had moaned with him in the painful pleasure of conquest of a brilliant mind with knowledge about Greek myths. ‘ So hi…. what did you say your name was Phoebe…. huh…Hmmn well guessed as much.’ oh do you know what it means I have been so busy getting butt shots that I couldn’t figure out the meaning of my name given by my father who by the way is a fairy fucking pimp…’ ‘‘Oh hush…sweet Diana of my world now lighted by your precious orbs spilling through your tight purple Lycra t- shirt…’’ She suddenly started laughing to herself and before she realized that she is thinking aloud the words escaped from her lips ‘fucking loser’.
‘Ummn did you say something’ asked the man looking at her with a frightened look on his face as if he was caught up among scary cartoon characters creeping up to him with their clownish faces. His words rang hollow in the partly empty compartment. Their eyes met again, the blue rim of his eyes contracted and was caught helplessly in her coal black mesh of wonderment. No one spoke a word. It was as if life has been clasped tight by the iron hands of fate refusing to let the moment pass these two pawns of time trapped in the beautiful consequence of beating hearts and breathing souls. They dared not breath lest the moment was choked by the piercing screech of reality mingled with the deafening rattle of the wheels cutting through the night. The hearts stopped. The mind stopped its mechanical churning of inanities. Suddenly the world that they had so preciously created with the mystique of a mere gaze broke into thousand splinters with the loud sneeze of someone in the compartment. Both looked away out of the window almost simultaneously as if the darkness crawling outside will be enough to mask their inner thoughts, their inner voices, and their inner silence.
‘Martin, I love you, Sophia had always made it a ritual to tell her man after getting up early in the morning.’ as if her love will cease to exist if she didn’t spell it out and force him to listen. Whether or not he responded to it with his casual ‘I love you too sweetie pie’ while scratching his butt on the way to the toilet was inconsequential to her. She always looked out the window and took a deep breath and said those words with the breath rising from her guts, her heart, and the deepest core of her being. It didn’t matter if it ached to say it with the pain increasing with every passing year for two years now. It changed from longing to necessity to habit to monotony and to a mere chant till there was nothing left in those three precious words except smoke rings rising from her lungs and a painful flow of bile from her liver to her mouth making them bitter and meaningless. She had said it today as well.’ Martin I love you. ‘ But today for the first time the she turned around swiftly terrified by the still ness around her. The words echoed back and forth pounding on the damp walls of their one room apartment. Martin was quietly shaving in the bathroom with the water slowly trickling into the void that was slowly gathering in the room crushing them both with the death of years…. two years…. 735 days endless hours…endless seconds just wiped away in a flash…. in a sweep of silence. ‘why do you keep on saying that, do we really need to say all this everyday. God grow up Sophia, you and your Spanish manners.” The constant gurgle of the water dropping mechanically on the bucket and the slow swish of the blade against the rough cheeks of Martin pounded on her ears with their deafening noise. The whole world just came to a stand still save her beating heart. She looked in front and was startled to find a frail woman with hollow cheeks and a face that was once round and full with drooping lids. The mouth she thought was very pretty round and pouty and very desirable she thought with a vain delight…or was desirable…she saw the face suddenly disappearing in the white walls behind her. Just the gray contours were visible barely indicating the presence of life beating silently in it ….she looked away from the mirror …. terrified of her own image. Martin came out of the bathroom ,got dressed and left for work and of course maintained another one of his routines a quick peck on her tear drained cheeks looked at her with impatience and then the door banged and loud pounding of the steps on the concrete down the stairs till it disappeared into the silence. She wondered whether she should go to work or would she just lie down. For a minute. Only a minute. Only 60 seconds just ….she would take out a cigarette from her little brown bag and light it with her fathers lighter smoke it in, breathe it out. Then lie down on the warm bed with the sheets wrapped around her comforting her, warming her with the warmth of her own body just for a few minutes…. Sophia just a few minutes… Martin ….I’ll forget you and the world and when I’ ll open my eyes everything is going to be the same. Everything will be the way it was yesterday. She and martin. Sophia and martin…. just a minute more… god let it all pass… let it all die…. let it all vanish. The stiff nights, the treacherous mornings, the painful love, the harsh breath falling on her neck like blades of steel. All these for the past one-year. And it all came to its natural end today. The habit gone, the love lost, the pain gone, the agony removed with silence. She dozed off….
‘Excuse me ,Sophia hold your bag tightly. It dropped on the floor, hold it ,don’t let it go…. a silky ,soft baritone in a charming drawl echoed from some distant place, a far away land promising magic and release .she only has to go and find that voice smoothening the ruffled cords of her heart. Go Sophia look a little further run towards the soft lushness of the echo from the darkness beyond. ‘But its dark here and its going to be darker still. Where do I look for him.’ Her heart panting feverishly, she knew that if she could find the voice she will get peace, she will find what she is looking for , find WHAT she was looking for so many years. ‘Hello….maaam Sophia wake up..’…. oh the voice knows my name how wonderful how comforting oh ill get to him….who can it be ..I am coming let me just ….let me just…..’she opened her eyes with a lot of effort . As the garish blurriness of the harsh neon lights dimmed she found Donovan leaning on her looking concerned, whispering something.’ there you go, there you go I think you had too much to drink. I saw your little bottle you know. you will end up missing your station.’
He looked down, hoping to find something in her shadow which he could not find by looking directly at her. A dull sensation of contact hummed where her body mushed against his. He could never know her through the sensation: he felt its doorway open into a lengthy shadow strewn across miles of distance, its mouth agape wider ever wider, swallowing a growing space as it advanced. How much of life and interpretation was lost in its mouth? How many events had passed her by without their value ever being realized? How many moments, persons, places, events, words…? Each dropped in the shadowy vortex as it moved across her life: the mouth was only parted lips during adolescence, but heaved into a yawn that enveloped an ever-growing larger portion of her life. Soon it might be a scream. And what remained for her in her going-out towards Womanhood? Only a by-product. A gaseous burp from the stomach of her true self. The feast of life wasn’t available to her; her stomach was filled with too many acids to absorb the flavors.
He shook her, “Will you be alright?” he asked again, already understanding that she wouldn’t be in much shape to return home. The automatic instinct of rescuing loomed over his feelings. ‘Even if she says yes, it doesn’t mean yes. And she’s too proud to say no. Either way, this feeling makes me obligated,’ he thought. “I can’t let her go like this,” he muttered, unconcerned whether Sophia could make sense of it or not. He carefully put both hands to her shoulders (being sure to avoid anything that would be used against him in a court of law) and leaned her back against the seat, squaring her body so as not to slide back over. Her mouth was open, her head dropped to the side, her eyes rolling down in the same direction. However, he recognized that this was not the half-alive slump of a drunken woman, but rather the very-much-alive body language of a woman giving up. Or at least TRYING to give up. But there was something calculated in her slouch, something planned. A drunk obeys the commands of her body. This girl was different. There was a subtle quality of posing in the way that she leaned with her eyes downward, as if she were deciding, “Is it worth it to go on? It used to be, why shouldn’t it be now?”
What was tomorrow to Donovan? What was another day at work? His work didn’t make any difference; a calculator could do the same job. A computer would have the same effect. He skimmed the prospects of tomorrow, witnessed its senselessness, and knew that the woman was first priority. At least tonight. Tomorrow when she was better she could go on her way, but while she was in this state, it wasn’t really an option to let her fare for herself. The subway was cold and the streets even colder, and the only certainty she had of warmth tonight was Donovan. ‘Or so it might seem,’ he thought, remembering that this was the sort of thing people skewed and sued over. ‘I could drop her off somewhere instead, at someone’s house,’ he thought, his face lighting as if drowning and being rescued by the Coast Guard.
“Sophia, listen… Is there anywhere you can go… somebody you know who will take care of you? A relative or a friend maybe?” Her eyes didn’t move. They seemed like a boat rolled over in the sea. “Sophia!? Listen! I can TAKE YOU wherever you need to go. Is there somewhere you can GO?” he signed with his hands as she seemed not to hear.
She sniffled and the sniffle snapped her from her daze, “Look, Donald, or whatever your name is…” her voice stuffy and plugged, “… I’ll be fine. Just mind your own business, all right?”
“Mind my own business? You’re slumped over on a subway seat like a dead fish, you want me to mind my own business? You’re gonna end up leaned against a trashcan, passed out, and I should mind my own business? I should’ve left you on the floor where you were headed. At least you would’ve gotten some used chewing gum out of it,” he teased. She let out an abrupt, understanding, ‘Hmf.’ “See, I thought so,” Donovan said. “Must be pretty good liquor. Hmm, what is it, Russian vodka straight outta Moscow? Lemme see…” he snuck the bottle from her hand and held the label up to his face with exaggeration. “Ohhh, hmm, Jose Cuervo… The Mexican stuff. Someone was headed south of the border tonight, hm?” Sophia watched him like a circus performer, unsure if to even pay much attention.
“And what about you, DONALD? Haven’t you ever suffered for something you love?”
“I’ve never found anything worth suffering for.”
“Hah, figures. Now give me back my goddamn Siberian milkshake,” she snatched back the bottle with murderous intent.
“Uh oh, I’ve woken the beast from her sleep.”
“Damn right, asshole. Shut up. Go away… or something.”
“You never answered my question: Is there someone who takes care of you?”
“What are you getting at, Donald?” she curled her lips wryly.
“Nothing, SOPAPILLA. If I let you out this subway car alone and you stumble onto the tracks, they’ll have MY name printed across every newspaper in New Mexico tomorrow, ‘Wanted: midget mex wanted for MURDER, last seen with a tequila in his hand, headed south.’”
“Or headed up his ass…”
“Com’ on now, I was trying to help YOUR ass, Soapy.”
“Yeah, I know, don’t worry about it. I really do appreciate it,” she said to seconds of silence, her thoughts disarmed. “Here,” she smirked, reaching into her pants… A nickel appeared in her palm, “I pay my debts.”
“They give change at the dollar store?” Donovan retorted.
“I got it from the gumBALLS machine, you should check ‘em out someday… might find something you’re missing.”
“Thanks, Sophia, I really appreciate the gesture of goodwill. Are you this nice to all your after-hours rescuers?”
“I never asked for a fucken first aide kit, Donald. Do you have a resuscitator in your pockets too?”
“There’s no more room in my pockets. It’s all taken up.”
“By what, rolled up socks?”
Donovan couldn’t help but laugh, completely beaten back, “Ahh ookay, youuu winnn. I’m not asshole enough to talk shit. You win.”
“Ehh duh-okay, yoo weeeen,” she wrinkled her nose and mocked his accent. She shook her head with a smirk, looked into the bottle mouth full of nerve. ‘This guy’s nuts,” she thought. ‘Persistent little bastard. But I guess they’re all like that when they’re looking for a fuck…’ she took another drink.
He watched her kick the bottle back again. “So, Sophia, enough with the BS, are you gonna be okay or not? Am I gonna read about you in the obituaries tomorrow or will you make it home alright? Maybe you can call someone to pick you up.”
“Donald? Let ME worry about that, okay?”
“Yeah but…”
“Shut the fuck up, Dirtyvan. Go away, SHEW,” she waved her hands at him.
“Seriously, Sophia, I’m not here to play superhero. Are you GOING to be ALL RIGHT?”
Her voice slipped to solemnity, “Yeah, guess so…” it trailed off into the image of the quickly moving scene. “You know, Donovan, sometimes I wish all this bullshit would end. I get tired of it…”
Donovan sat straight in his seat and re-crossed his legs, looking like a doctor ready to perform a visual anal-probe. He eyed her skeptically, surprised by the frankness of the stranger. ‘A very interesting stranger,’ he thought. He smudged his lips together in thoughtfulness with one brow bent.
“Posing for a photo-op, Donovan?”
“No… just thinking…” About what’s between my legs, probably, she thought. “… about why you’d say that. You’re looking to be saved, aren’t you? You’re one of those types that needs something to keep yourself going,” he said quizzically.
“Doctor fucken Donovan, huh? What other profound insights into my psyche you got, Dr. Donald?”
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to…”
“Shut up, Donovan,” she smiled. Behind all his nerdy ranting and dorky comments, Sophia began to suspect he actually felt concern. She bathed in it, slipped off her shoes and walked barefoot in it for a minute… and then corrected herself: “Don’t apologize, it’s not worth it.”
Donovan heard, “IT is not worth it” but could have sworn he heard “I am not worth it” from behind the calculated dis-concern of the girl. They both sat in silence for a few moments. Sophia suddenly feeling exposed, and Donovan still looking like he was staring at a crossword puzzle, magnifying glass in hand.
“I guess I’ll be all right. I’ll pay for it tomorrow though. This’ll be one hell of a hangover, lemme tell you…” she gestured to hold her forehead.
“You guess?”
“I said I guess, stupid, don’t you have ears or are they being borrowed by other organs?”
“I heard! Fuck, you’re a b-”
“Damn straight! DONALD,” she cut in.
Donovan’s mind was exhausted. A long day working, punching numbers, dead to the world, and now having to play grammar-gladiator with Miss Bitch was taking its toll. He felt himself retreating towards the comfort of silence, where he’d no longer have to feel engaged, where he’d no longer have to feel frustrated, where he’d no longer have to feel impressed. He stared out the window, reacquainting himself with the outside world. He suddenly felt saddened at the thought that the ride was almost over and that he’d have to say a cheap, courteous goodbye to the little gladiator with a bottle being wielded in her proud hand. All their sarcastic and senseless jostling ending with a shitty “bye, see you later, nice meeting you.” The words never meaning anything. Just courtesy. Completely empty. ‘I at least had the pleasure of a few moments with a woman who says more than ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when I try to have a conversation. At least this one was candid,’ he thought.
He let slip an audible sigh.
“What is it, Donovan?”
“Yeah, I do.”
“Huh?” she huffed.
“I said YES. I DO wish it would end sometimes. All the bullshit, I mean. All of it just gets to you, you know?”
“Who’s holding the bottle here, Donovan?...”
“Heh,” he huffed understandably.
“… of course I know.” Her voice calmed, it had cleared some from earlier, she seemed less defensive, and she allowed her empathy to be tangible in her tone. Donovan wrinkled and rubbed his forehead. ‘He must be tired,’ she thought. He seemed nervous now, somehow surrendered and weakened by their exchange. Feeling suddenly guilty, Sophia worked to soothe him over, “Donovan… thanks. I don’t know who you are or where you come from or where you’re going, but I know tonight you’ve been OKAY. That’s more than I can say for a lot of people. Heh, considering we sit on this rattley subway in the middle of the night, I’d say the company tonight wasn’t all that bad, don’t you think?”
“You asking? Or is this a pep-talk?” he smiled.
She smiled with him, “No really, Donovan. Thanks.”
“Hm. I know.”

The two fell silent and the mortality of the moment seemed apparent: it passed across the both of them like a phantasm, reminding them of the afterlife, after the train. He would return to his world, and she would return to hers: the two, strangers again, their brief moments in the subway an afterthought to be lost among other afterthoughts. Maybe they’d be lost perpetually, or show up in some obscure dream, months or years later, forgotten after waking. Or at best she would remember his concern and he would remember her frankness. Could they let it be? Could they try to bridle the outcome? Or would they let it do its own bidding and let a shitty “goodbye, take care,” govern their lives. Donovan felt his own lengthening shadow draw across his future, swallowing up possibilities and potentials along the way. The existential yawn opened wide, and Sophia seemed its next meal. And Donovan seemed the next victim of hers.
“DO something,” they both thought towards the other. But without saying it, how could either know? Should we have a cup of coffee at the next stop can we both miss our stops and forever be in the little compartment moving from station to the other stopping nowhere going nowhere just be here and now???

A cat in the dead of night rushed past the bushes along the tracks listening to the jarring rattle of something inescapable not stopping not knowing to stop not knowing where to stop not knowing how to stop with one swift movement there she comes right in the middle of the cold steel lines of death …her eyes ablaze with fury with defiance and then IT crashed into her …with one loud shriek one loud wail one loud scream it lay splattered on the tracks its entrails mashed with blood strewn all across trailing behind life behind years or months of eating mating sleeping protecting snuggling loving gone dead gone…

The same old theatrics replayed rewinded again and again as if time has stopped its swirling motion rounding it to a continuous rush of moments, past present future stuck in the yellow dusty pages of her grammar book coming alive in one past…. casual touches casual hellos casual good byes coming to causal nothingness….


Monday, June 05, 2006


The whining continues…the old cold letters of broken fragments continue to haunt like scary cartoon characters clawing their way through nightmares…. waking up…Reaching for a glass of cold water singing my throat reminding me of what could have been but never was coz it was never meant to be…somewhere in the white gleaming shore of Portugal there they are holding hands feeling the gentle drops of rain burning their souls for each other and here I am…. looking from the window at the cold steely grayness around me stabbing me with its gory shadow ….i can only bask in their warmth from a distance doomed to be in the fringes always clambering up the walls trying to reach for the center for fulfillment for life….
I can hear the clouds purring softly in the wilderness of night scratching the surface of my heart digging deeper. …And deeper still till there is no me anymore and just hollow darkness in the cask…falling through

Sunday, June 04, 2006


Words words words…slowly gliding through narrow crammed alleys of mind the little gateways of thoughts pushing nudging shoving images in this tortuous exercise of conjuring sense…what do I write about what is there to write…what is there so unique in my thoughts right now that absolutely needs to be told to be recorded…nothing…it is amazing how mind can be vacuous yet yearning to be heard at the same time…. can vacuity be gathered in these tight strictures of words ….can they be reduced to these tiny fragments lighting up my screen in the black hole of eternity….
King of hearts ---queen of misery-----life love----abandonment---disparate memories…
Yessssssssssssss I have got it now…. how come I always borrow material form the little black slime of hell. …Like a greedy whore ready to make more money by a quickie not interested in deep long soliloquies with the mind…. yeha I am all for a quickie when it comes to thoughts...How pathetic how inane how normal. Is this how I wish to inscribe my name in eternity...Is this how I want to scourge my name on the golden templates of time. is this why the slow grinding motion of shifting roles and comfortable impersonations appeals tome so much as long as I am cast in the ONE role of a curious observer the mute loner outside the periphery of life, of being…to be doomed to feel vicariously to think through others donning numerous caps incessantly till I have lost me in the sweep of role-players….my being dissolving into nothingness into normality. Why do I wince at that word. Why do I hold it with contempt with abhor ration with hatred so strong that it burns the entrails of my self or whatever is left ot be called one.yeha I am bullshittign not good with words tonight….they seem to have left me gone in wilderness to play with others…hide and seek….truth and dare tick tock tick tock the time runs out…the words seep through the wires trying desperately to ensnare the fleeting the gone the dead…..

To be continued….

Saturday, June 03, 2006


how does one blog..i know how to post poorly written, horrendously typed ,badly edited ,painfully typed words flung randomly at the screeen here. i have also made my friends read and post comments at gun point wwwwwwwwwhat....
gave a horrible exam yesterday..words seem to have left me ..cant write ,cant read, cant think...ahhhhhhhh...feel brain dead yet yapping away for the heck of it filling up the gaps..always filling up the gaps.....

Monday, May 22, 2006

soap opera ishtyle!! [unfinished]

Shipra closed the front door and went towards the garden adjoining their small bungalow in a posh new alipore area in south Calcutta. It was a Sunday and her husband as always was watering his precious rajanigandha and jasmine trees with a meticulous care that seemed a little perverse at times with his dedication and intense concentration while watching two or three blossoms that bloomed once a week .it seemed like their fragrance and swaying branches and pale white color of their petals was his supreme reward for his hard labour every Sunday…the only exercise that he allowed himself in a week.
“Cha khabe” Shipra asked him with a hint of mild irritation and a wifely indulgence that marked their marriage of 5 years. She didn’t mind the silence between them, it was rather comfortable. Each to his own thoughts and miseries….. she had always clutched on to her private life vehemently and being perennially of a taciturn disposition she didn’t quite mind when Ranjan ,her husband turned out to be as incommunicative as herself on their wedding night and the nights and the days to follow. Moments of uncomfortable silence, some heavy breathing, a faint rhythmic creaking of the bed and a loud gasp from the husband of course desperately trying to act out the part of a passionate lover without knowing how, marked their first night together. Shipra was viewing all this with her characteristic calm detachment and a keen voyeuristic pleasure finding everything extremely funny and faintly arousing which was enough to make her husband smirk with manly confidence and a vigorous belly laugh with a hint of color on his cheeks when asked about his amorous rendezvous ,the next morning by his middle aged colleagues. Was it a happy marriage? Five years together and together still gave an impression of a successful matrimony between the two individuals who are meant to be together. Well that was according to the family astrologers that their respective families have been consulting from time immemorial and besides both were ‘reserved’ and therefore perfectly suited for one another. It’s not that silence is all that they had in common. they had similar habits of reading and listening to music .it didn’t matter if ranjan liked science fiction and read business weekly and debonair with a passionate zeal and shipra immersed herself in the tattered frequently thumbed pages of rabindranath and sarat chandras novels that she knew by heart… as long as it is reading. .Shipra had accidentally found out the debonaires from under the bed and unlike most wives who would have created quite a scene with a volley of abuses mingled with hurt and a veiled threat of leaving for baaper bari. Shipra flipped through the pages and looked at the naked women with fabulous bodies in unbelievable poses with utter nonchalance and a hint of thrill which wasn’t new to her and before ranjan could tell her that those were forced upon his innocent self by his perverse sex starved friends, she looked at him with amusement and feigned hurt that prompted ranjan to brag about his super cool wife to his friends and had a mental image of his wife sprawled on his bed like one of those frirang models to feast his eyes on. His wife did have a fabulous body and with her thick long hair framing her beautiful face with large eyes defined by her thick arched eyebrows, sharp nose and a fuller mouth with pearl white perfect set of sparkling teeth she looked pretty sexy to her husband. Her mother thought that she looked like a Durga Pratima and gave her away with a heavy heart during her wedding…she deserved someone better, but ranjan is the son of an IAS officer.that seemed to make up for everything.her daughters passivity didn’t even give her a faint warning of her stifled pain and hurt and resentment that shipra continued to have towards her family especially her mother for selling her like a cheap prostitute but there was nothing that she could do. Her inability to have the courage to walk out of her home of 25 years with shubhendu’s strong reassuring arms around her made her regard herself with contempt and self loathing. What could she have done? Her father was retired. Her mother had already suffered from 2 mild heart attacks and her job, as a freelance journalist wasn’t enough to feed and take care of three of them. So practical considerations and her Bengali middle class sensibilities stopped her from eloping with shubhendu whom she had been in love for the past 8 years. But she in her own way exacted revenge from her parents and mostly herself by making herself inaccessible to the one man she was supposed to spend her rest of her life with love, adjustment, passion, and if one is lucky enough an enduring friendship. But she allowed herself only the monotony of adjustment. .She took a solemn vow of crushing her hopes of marital bliss that she had dreamt of ever since she could remember and strangled her consciousness of being a WIFE. She did not allow herself even for once the pleasure of the fond recollections of her past but she as much as she tried couldnot forgo the pleasure of remembering and reliving her past with shubhendu in her mind. She couldn’t subject herself to that ultimate torture. She needed that to survive the dreary afternoons, the busy evenings and especially the nights while suffering the indignity of conducting her primary marital duty of entertaining her husband with her body. She tried hard to shut her eyes and clench her fists to stop her from remembering his kind comely face and his long unkempt hair swept from his face by the gentle breeze of maidan and most of all his raw musty smell unadulterated by the cheap fragrance of deos. .His lean hard body wet and slippery with sweat that had tingled her on several occasions with a familiar ecstasy lashed on her brain with a raw pain . The memories of the long afternoons in his apartment overlooking the Dhakuria Bridge where she often soared in the rapid ecstasy of a passionate climax tortured her mind when she suffered the monotonous predictable touches of ranjan. Anyways to go back to the husband……. he wanted after a very long time to go back home early today .The gleaming images of the naked models and the promise of a hot night that the the already hardening mass in his pants confirmed made him impatient ‘. Perhaps a sudden bout of migraine would suffice as an excuse’ .
“Kyun mukerjee babu.another migraine attack. With a pretty wife like yours I don’t blame you. Just two years into marriage I know what your kind of migraine is like. I was married as well remember” said Mr. Agarwal with a glint in his eyes and a leer lurking near his thin pan parag smudged lips with tobacco stained canine teeth with irregular edges, thinking about his fat wife who was always dressed in chiffon sarees that she bought in dozens from burra bazaar and oil smeared hair and perennially had a stench of ghee around her. Mr. Agarwal was by far the ugliest man ranjan had ever seen. Not that ranjan was particularly good looking but with his clean manners and neat appearance and the whiff of expensive deo that he carried around himself gave one a favorable impression and to add to that he is a son of a renowned IAS officer.

But he was quite disappointed that night .His super cool wife did not respond in a manner that he wished she would .She didn’t exactly jump at the prospect of a kinky experience and not only that, she laughed at him derisively with blatant mockery and ridicule that was enough for the poor chap to give up all his hopes for a Bay watch fantasy and concentrated all his attention on the rajanigandha and jasmine trees as revenge from then on.

That brings us to the present circumstances of the Mukerjee family.
“Yes ,bring me some tea ”Ranjan replied .Shipra meekly went inside and went to the kitchen to ask their maid bimola for some tea [she was taking her job as a wife quite seriously she thought with a contemptuous smile on her face ] and then went to her bedroom to catch a nap. Sleep now seemed to be the only way to pass the languid July afternoon. With drooping eyelids and a loud yawn she laid on the bed trying to tie her long mass of hair into a manageable knot and quite eagerly tried to sleep. Her eagerness was probably due to the wonderful dream she had last night, which she was absolutely sure was sometime in the early morning today. Her Dida used to tell her that early morning dreams always come true. But it wasn’t early morning yet still she couldn’t resist dreaming that same dream again although she knew that it was not possible.. ..but it was such a beautiful dream. it was about Shubhendu . They were taking a walk in a park which was almost like one of those parks in salt lake where they used to sit for long hours forgetting everything else, surrounded by the luminous halo of love that blurred everything around them till they were only conscious of each others’ presence .The old middle aged mothers walking their children and sometimes their white furry dogs, watched them with suspicion and horror. And both of them with a brazen contempt towards these people, that can only be accounted to innocent youth where illusions seem to be the only way to survive, paraded their love in front of them making the others squirm with discomfort and most of the times jealousy. In the dream however the disapproving and intrusive presence of those upholders of morality were distinctly absent. Although the dream was blurry in parts yet she distinctly remembered the sound of rain on the cobble stone path and the strange mysterious glow on the rain washed streets by the street lamps, the gentle breeze with tiny drops of rain caressing their faces softly and the noise of their footsteps on the quiet streets harmoniously mingling with each other, their long shadow on the wet roads which seemed to welcome the rain by exuding a mild fragrance that one gets with the first drops of rain falling on the dry ,scorched streets of summer. She distinctly remembered shubhendu’s balmy soft hands in hers.they weren’t even looking at each other yet that sensation of that small expression of shared mutual affection was enough to transport her into a state of paroxysmal bliss.
She with intense concentration tried to dream but after minutes of tossing and turning on the bed and a couple of loud sighs she gave up on it and sat up thinking other means to pass the time. She was terribly bored ……she needed some immediate preoccupation or else she felt her head would burst. She looked all around and glanced at the bookshelf .she didn’t even feel like reading. Lately everything seemed to weigh on her like a tortuous mass crushing her continuously with its gnawing presence. It was Time that she couldn’t get rid of. It constantly kept on haunting her with a pertinence that used to irritate her, constantly reminding her that what she has to live. But for whom and for what? She didn’t have any ambition, never had any aspirations to conquer the world. she had always looked at her life as something to be lived since there is nothing else she could do and death seemed too much of a trouble …that was how she had always felt till shubhendu came along .it wasn’t that he gave her a purpose to live. It just made life more bearable and pleasant.
Ranjan came into the bedroom and went straight to the bathroom without a word. Shipra glanced at the watch. It was 1.30. Time for him to take a bath.shipra again closed her eyes trying to sleep to resist herself from falling into a languorous vacuum. The soft gurgling of the water being slowly poured down had a nice soporific effect that lulled her to drowsiness. But the faint rhythmic noise of the water confirming her husband’s presence around her didn’t let her to sleep. She couldn’t think of shubhendu with him around .no it was too private too personal too intimate. And She glared at the red bathroom door intensely hating ranjan for his intrusion. Suddenly she was tired of herself lying on the bed doing nothing .she needed some action. The air cooler was making a slow humming noise. She slowly rolled on her back. Every action of hers had a delicious sensuality about it .it was as if she was trying to enjoy her boredom. ranjan had already come out of the bathroom and was shaking his head vigorously to dry his hair. Tiny drops of water sprayed on her face as well. She wiped them out with one quick gesture watching her husband count the strands of grey hair with disgust. ‘Lets have sex’ shipra said, suddenly getting up and sliding down her sari in an elaborate gesture.” what?” ranjan almost gasped ‘in the middle of the day’. ‘Yes. Why you have a problem? ‘Shipra asked, almost stifling a yawn. Ranjan wasn’t sure whether she was joking. Five years of marriage has led him to suspect his wife’s sudden whims. Ranjan had always found shipra rather unusual. It wasn’t that he didn’t love her. He thought he did. He had never cheated on her with anyone. And for him that was enough to prove his love. Not that she would have cared about it, he often thought with a vague regret. But he then shrugged of that thought by the one mantra that his father in one of his rare moments of loquacity, had imparted the night before his wedding:” son, women are complex beings. If you want a peaceful married life don’t dare to know their hidden world or else you are a Dead Man. they are better as they are by your side always walking behind you obediently. They need to be protected and to be taken care of. And your job as a MAN is to protect your womenfolk. They are weak and very vulnerable Beta. Almost like this paperweight drop it and it’s broken along with your home. And why bother racking your brains over something that you wont understand. as long as your shoes are in place in the morning and the dinner is served on time. Why bother? So leave your women to themselves. They are better that way. We are men of action. Right…he he, “ ranjan didn’t know what he meant with that laugh but he did remember blushing deeply afterwards. R anjan didn’t believe that women were complicated .in fact they were too simple for his taste they were almost like small animals. Talk lovingly to them and pay them a little attention and they will give their life for you but of course he only had his mother as an example. But he was genuinely disturbed by shipra’s silence and the far away look in her eyes . but he always kept a safe distance from her inner life, as long his needs were satisfied he didn’t care about anything much and too much display of affection always embarrassed him. In the initial years of marriage he did try to gage her thoughts but that was out of curiosity and the novelty of having a woman beside him all the time or perhaps it was a sense of proprietorship .but after seeing her the same as always made him realize with some relief that women weren’t complicated they just didn’t have anything important to share after all . and silence was always a best way of hiding ones weakness. But he was never sure with Shipra . And after some time he just stopped wondering and took up his father’s stance of a comfortable resignation.
“Well” asked shipra looking at him quizzically. It wasn’t for him to refuse sex. But then she did know that he never liked having sex with the lights on and having sex at day was completely out of question. He was strangely uncomfortable with other people looking at his body. Not that shipra cared. Shipra continued to look at him with a steady gaze silently enjoying his embarrassment and humiliation. Ranjan knew that she was just trying to make fun of him and was visibly enjoying his discomfiture.’but well I wont let her win. He decided with a calm determination. She wants a fuck, she will get a fuck…’ he thought silently rejoicing his victory.
‘All right…sugar babe lets …’ranjan said with a triumphant smile. After all he had nothing to lose.
‘Great’ she said with a put on huskiness and started undoing her blouse.
Ranjan looked at her horrified .he was expecting her to be mortified and was almost imagining her begging for mercy for daring to make fun of him.
But he will not let her win. Suddenly he became very angry with her’ how dare she ridicule me’. ‘ You know what, I just remember I have some work to do may be some other time ’ He said going up to her to kiss her on her forehead to seal her humiliation for good. Women hate that .he had read that in one of the magazines. This would do the bitch for good. And he started for the door.
‘But I want you so badly ranjan ‘. She said while walking up to the drawers to get a cigarette. There is nothing that would irritate him more than to see her smoke in front of him. She was quite enjoying this madness and almost wished to be hit savagely by him then.
Well what are you waiting for? Lets fuck each other ‘she said while lighting the cigarette with his father’s lighter.
If Ranjan hadn’t known self-restraint he would have strangled her then and there
But he was taught that hitting women was a sign of weakness. And he wasn’t weak.
But he had never felt so helpless ever in his life .he could feel her laughing at him inwardly.
“Stop acting like a fucking whore.” He said and stormed out of the room slamming the door behind him.
Shipra flung herself on the bed taking a huge drag and suddenly started laughing hysterically.
Ranjan was outside the room listening quietly to listen to her sobbing with shame .he had never been so harsh on her before. ……. And he suddenly felt sorry for what he had said. Slowly he turned the knob and went inside and walked slowly up to her and before shipra knew what was happening she was being savagely raped by her husband.

After reading what I have written so far and after weeks of meditation, which were not without a tinge of frustration, I have suddenly realized that I haven’t mentioned anything about the present condition of the lover whom we have named shubhendu here. Where is he now? What are his thoughts about the marriage of shipra? What did he do when he heard that the love of his life is marrying someone else and what is it about him that shipra cant let go of even after 5 years of separation. But before we get into that its important to remember that our memories of a person specially a loved one after months or years of separation often takes on a hue that seems incongruous with reality. Our mind has its own healing process. It’s horrifying to realize that we have no control over our hearts and mind. Our heart speaks its own language .It has a life of its own guided by its own instincts that our mind cannot comprehend. They are two separate entities bound together by the illusion of control that sustains Man. Death, separation, marriage doesn’t erase memories. They create new ones. The slight distortion of truth seems more comforting and exciting, coz after all reality is so terribly mundane and suffocatingly boring and commonplace. And if one takes life as it is without the floridity of emotions Life doesn’t seem so exalted anymore. It’s the fiction of life that makes life livable and memories worthy of its colossal status. And the lives of all the shipras and shubhendus in the world seem worthy to be the subjects of a novella. One might think and not without fault that after all this is just one of those numerous accounts of one of those numerous arranged marriages gone wrong that is endemic to our culture. The wife always pines after the lover and after few years the smooth placidity of a comfortable repetitious family life puts the shroud of memories over the hideous skeletons of the past. One might argue that a work of art should contain something sublime, something that brings new perspectives to ones life even if it’s just for five minutes. Art should be beyond ordinary .it s the center of ones being .its life transmuted and translated into something closer to the divine. It’s the birth of a new life. It gives one a sense of godlike power and magnitude together with the impotence and helplessness that comes with it. Coz when you allow one to look at it even from a distance you prostitute it and later on you sell it like a cheap whore in the brothel of success like a pimp greedy for fortune and immortality, desperately hoping that it would entertain others for a few languid hours which is nothing compared to the agony you felt when you created it by desperately trying to wring out the tortuous delusion of meaning from every speck of your being, with every breath that you could muster knowing fully well that life is too terrifying and sublime and hopelessly meaningless. It’s a quick sand that you cant get out of, you struggle with it, you scream in the agony of being slowly sucked into it. And yet you are fascinated by it because you want to know what the end is like. That its just these contraries that makes life so baffling, so petrifying and yet so fascinating that you whimper like a pathetic creature in front of its magnificence and grandeur. But when you out of vanity expose your creation even if it’s a scribble or two lines on a used crumpled newspaper off to the thousand leering eyes of humanity then it’s lost forever. You have strangled your baby, and buried it with the filth of fame. That’s creation in this Eden of hell. But don’t misconstrue it as a writer’s frantic quest of imparting meaning to her writing by taking refuge in vacuous abstractions. Being a writer of an optimistic disposition I don’t believe that there are certain fixed subjects for art [yes I am vain enough to call this art]. And that shipra is too inconsequential and her life too ordinary to be consecrated in this monument of words. To ascribe importance solely to the depraved or the genius [the ‘fit’ subjects of art] is to strip human nature of its importance. It’s the ordinary from which the genius emerges. Mediocrity if looked closely is sublime, pathetic, horrifying and sometimes divine.
The biggest question that arose in my mind when I was writing this is that is shubhendu really worth so much agony. Are his memories enough to sustaining shipra for the rest of her life? And can love be so strong that it can consume life itself, which can only be vivified by death. Or does love really exist outside the imagination of poets and artists. Is it a fantasy that we are all trying to live by creating it in our heads guided by the precedents of centuries? Did the prehistoric cave man really know love or could he really understand it? He was a man after all, a primitive man, but a human nevertheless. Or was he just guided by the animal instincts of procreation, which we with the evolution of thought or what we presume to be refinement and culture have glorified as love. Isn’t lust simpler than love as it seems to be without the emotional trappings that it has gathered through ages of misinterpretation thanks to the fertile imagination of our predecessors? But life seems so facile and unattractive and uneventful without the tumult of love. And besides it always makes a good reading. Moreover a prostitute without any amatory it prowess no matter how attractive she maybe doesn’t fetch the pimp enough money or in this case immortality. So love exists. Maybe it really does. I suppose its only when one is dying that one can really understands the import of the self effacing, all consuming transcendental love, outside the world of poor old Plato dragged down through the mires of time for the convenience of artists. If in the tussle between love and death for the supremacy of the emaciated body with life slipping out of its being slowly and perceptively, love triumphs miraculously then love exists, truly and undoubtedly. Therefore I cant make a facile and a comfortable assertion of love coz I have not seen death yet. So for now let me indulge in the intricacies of fiction and depict love as I have imagined it and placed in the temple of my imagination crowning it with a desperate hope of its existence.
And now to go back to my question…. is the love of shipra and shubhendu really transcendental? And if it is then why didn’t shubhendu do anything to save it. And is their love so insignificant as to be able to be strangled deliberately by the gross practicality of shipra? Human nature with all its anomalies is bizarre and incomprehensive. Yet one makes an attempt to unravel it in parts in the primeval quest for the essential truth. That truth could be anything. It can be beauty, or something nameless, indescribable, and according to the modernists absurd, and most of the times its love. And for shipra it WAS love or rather what she perceived to be love that guided all her actions. It was love that she had sought all her life. Love for her mother, father, friend, and her neighbor that she had a crush on when she was 12 years old. The person was incidental. The love was of a different kind in each occasion and of various intensities but was love nevertheless. She refused to believe that she felt any lesser pain when she found out that her first crush had a girlfriend to whom she was of no match with her skinny legs and flat chest. She didn’t know that anatomy was such an essential part in a man woman relationship till puberty hit her later that year. But she often argued with her friends that her love for that Ashishda at that time was purer than all the loves she had felt after that, as it was devoid of animal longing that she often thought blurred love of the simplest and purest kind with lust.
But she could never mention Shubhendus name in the same breath with the rest of them. And there had been quite a number of them who drove her to a kind of ecstasy that she thought was love. But with him it wasn’t ecstasy. No it wasn’t as simple as that. It was madness. It was an addiction so fatal that it almost consumed her very being. It was a force, a power so frightening in its proportion and terrifying in its magnitude that she was rendered powerless in front of it. Her identity was annihilated and her being crushed and re- transformed into a state of trans existence where she was just her soul. She became love. She became shubhendu and shubhendu shipra. The symposium worked its wonderful symphony on their souls and refashioned their each separate distinctive identity of a man and a woman to be one. Complete and whole. Nothing prepared both of them for anything so powerful as the fearful madness that seized their souls. It was as if love had wreaked an unprecedented horror on the two unsuspecting souls leading a normal life with the promise of nirvana driving them forward. What they did not realize was that what they were experiencing then was nirvana, the ultimate release, and a heavenly bliss here on this ridiculously insignificant earth.

Shipra and Shubhendu first saw each other in a very crowded bus on a blistering hot day of May. There was nothing very special about the day apart from the fact that it was the hottest and the sunniest day of the year and the MET with its usual accuracy had predicted heavy rain with great thunderstorm on that day and for the next 4 days. Their fellow passengers in that crowded mini bus crawling with a barely perceptible pace on the sun scorched streets of the city were only short of killing the driver with their violent abuses. Those who have been to kolkata or had the wonderful pleasure of traveling in one of these buses will know that in a situation like this when all the passengers form a formidable group inside the bus to drag the bus in a tolerable speed by virtue of a cacophony of abuses spitted out of foamy sweaty mouths it’s absolutely criminal to possess equanimity or display nonchalance. Shipra however had other thoughts in her mind. She was constantly aware of something poking her from behind. With all the sweat and the grime and the intolerable heat devouring everyone it was hard for shipra to subdue her temper and in a flash she turned around and was about to slap that monster that she saw that it was a woman who was standing behind her and the sharp poking object was the poor woman’s umbrella. Unable to give vent to her temper which was very rightly aroused she turned around to glare at the person who had the cheek to sit when she was standing with tiny drops of sweat pouring on her from all directions like little drops of rain from unknown armpits. Shipra could faint, puke and hit someone savagely at the same time. But her neurosis restrained her. Suddenly the man sitting in front of her who was earlier looking through the window turned his neck to look around him and immediately his eyes rested on a frowning mass of flesh clad in a cotton salwar looking red and puffy glaring at him savagely. And suddenly he started grinning and stood up to get off from the bus. Shipra immediately took the seat and was prepared to smile apologetically at that middle aged man with a mass of curly hair and slightly stooping shoulders with a sly grin on his lips laced with a thin moustache. But before she could do it he had already gotten down the bus. That was the first time shipra had seen shubhendu. They met each other after a year. And this time it was the monsoons that had plagued the city with its slime and mud.