Sailors

img_20180203_190416.jpg

Sailors left behind lockets for their loved ones before they set sail. Mine was a platinum oval that opened into two halves. The small pictures inside had us looking opposite ways. 

I would touch it compulsively, like the fortune rock my mother held in her palms when she needed comforting. Washing dishes over the sink, walking through the market, smelling roses on the way back home. I dreamt dreams in whale sounds. 

Not knowing where you were going was confusing. I did not know how to think of you – was it day where you were, or was the light just setting? Was the ocean the blue of your eyes, had you planned a date of return?

Yet I never visited the dock, I had never lingered there like other families, waiting. I was happy to not picture the place where our distance turned real. Somewhere the land ended and there was only sea, for miles and miles and thousands of uncountable nautical distances, until there was land again. And then there, another lover, holding a pendant between their small fingers, looking at the moon that makes the waves in the water.

SaveSave

Advertisements

Grief etcetera.

56058d6d0bc2180688da0130422751fd

Grief comes with its furniture, misspelled postage on the packaging. It leaves around the bubble wrap and the cushioning hay, empties the cartons and arranges it chaos while humming a French song whose words mix with each other. It places a desk against the wall, like it were here to stay. Your claylike body accepts the weight of its four metal feet, as they are pressed on like tattoos. It brings a typewriter with missing keys, papers torn from thick books no one ever finished reading. A chandelier made from collected shards of glass, sharp enough to slit your fingers. A flowerpot with magnolias that it never waters. 

A second-hand sofa and a table with an Italian lace cover, that shows dust between its cream coloured reticulations. A can of dark blue paint that looks like it could hold stars but doesn’t, to paint the windows nightly. Grief brings no blankets for the cold. But oil lamps, yes, it doesn’t trust electric bulbs. Sometimes, it sits in the dark on a rocking chair that neither recognises it’s weight nor oscillates, and if you pass by it, you may not notice it. 

Grief brings a clock with no hour hand. A cracked cup that cuts its lips every time it tries to take a sip of juice. There is no mirror, no cabinet or extra spoons. There is an eggshell shaped flask that it dreams of keeping a fish in. Grief has no name, and plans to call the fish with hoots. It keeps pebbles on the floor, blue, grey and brown, like a half-made seashore that someone forgot about. And a refrigerator to keep mechanical tools, a spade and an axle. It has a radio that needs a change of batteries and crackles with transmission buzz. A hotplate to cook food, and a piece of paper with emergency numbers written in haphazard handwriting.            

SaveSave

Apricot Conserve

img_20180314_111746.jpg

Sometimes, buying marmalade can be a big step. It could mark the settling down in a space, the waking up to a familiarity, claiming a spot in a refrigerator that wasn’t yours yesterday. I think there is something romantic in walking around the kitchen, eating toast without a plate, and spreading your arms on the sofa, like you belong here.

It might be how you start making a new life.

 

#MarchMosaics

Postcards With Love

IMG_20180201_210204_01_01

Dear darling

I hope you turn this postcard over after it has sat on the lip of your door for a few days. Give this a chance. If you are here, and before you go, I must say I love and miss you more than I can bear. I keep imagining what you must look like now. I have a photo of you as a baby that I wear in my locket, and I look at it often, picturing those big round brown eyes on an older face, with a lady’s nose. I know you must smile beautifully. Are you tall? I think so.

I don’t want to take much time, you must have so much keeping you occupied. I just wanted to send you an old recipe I have kept safe. My mother made blinis for us every Saturday morning, and we ate them very happily in the sun. They are a big favourite among children, your kids would like them. It goes very well with cream, or salmon, if you like fish. I think you do.

That was all really. Maybe you could call someday. Or visit. They allow us to meet visitors every Wednesday between four and five in the evening. Don’t worry, I will not ask you to write back. But know that you I remember you everyday. If you ever do make blinis, I hope you find pieces of my love in them.

Mama

I am sorry I forgot to fix your record player

1461582311-unseen-picture-madhubala-and-dilip-kumar

You liked listening to him sing, didn’t you? I try imagining his strong bass voice, a younger charm in his grey eyes. I think I see why you loved him so. I see you sitting by his side, an old record playing in some corner of the room. He put some ice in his scotch, you smiled and rest your head on the leather-backed chair. Everything smells like a brown memory from an album I saw as a young child, I do not remember much of it, the spaces I miss, I fill with my own imaginations. This is only part-reality.

Yet I see it all confounded in your soft glance as you look at me and smile. I see this history, a life you have lived and I can only dream piece by piece, slipping across your smooth olive skin, unwrinkled, warm. I have come home after ages it seems, although it has only been a few months. You embrace me so completely I do not feel your weight against mine. You gently caress my hair, notice how it has grown long, tie it for me neatly, smile so brightly that only then I realise what being home, safe and loved, feels like. Lying by your side later that evening, I look around the room as you sleep. So very little and so much is here, photographs of all your grandchildren. Dried leaves and flowers pasted inside a photo-frame. A rosary and a pair of woollen socks. I look then at a lighter patch, a dust-rimmed square where something had long sat. The emptiness on the mahogany desk, suddenly reminded me of your broken record player.

Some weeks before I left, I took your charming possession from you, promising to get it repaired. You did not ask me about it when I returned the next week and the one after that, telling me only, repeatedly, to take good care of myself when I am so far away, to eat well, and stay covered in the cold. My thoughts rush back to where I left it last, perhaps it rusts somewhere in my room, in the dark, forgotten and lost. Perhaps it is still singing the last song you played on it, like an echo from a voice you had loved and lived by. I didn’t say anything when you woke up, and spent the night talking to you deeply. Forgive me now, for all the evenings I stole your music from you, and with it, the keepsake of your years. The music you missed would have missed you too, it would have filled the quiet with something whole and familiar. Perhaps, you would have hummed when Kishore sang along an accordion. Perhaps their words would have fallen like snowy kisses on your pillow, songs could have woven together the memories and silvering leaves you have stored on your desk. Can I promise again to return your music to you? Perhaps you could play your favourite records for me once more before I have to leave, and I will carry their songs brownly in my heart as I grow old.

Thingummies

image.php.jpeg

I remember those places I visited as a child through words I do not know. I miss my first home in the flowers that I never learnt to name. Those white petals that had bright orange stems, resembled jasmines, were strewn about the road. I know the way they smelt, and I know how they left wet patches on the soil when crushed by our car tires leaving.

Remembering Love

fixedw_large_4x.jpg

To my dead husband and my eternal love,

Who said time-travel has to be utterly physical in nature? I time-travel into your memories every day. Your memories are paper boats I can step into, row and glide in.

Each morning I travel to the damp porch of the earth, where naked sand is kissed voluptuously by the Dal Lake. The otherwise still water has developed small tremors in the fresh morning breeze, as if the lake was a young child playing joyously in its cradle after waking up from a complete sleep. I look at the warm boat that topples mildly in the lake; the boat seemed warm because it resembled the moon-shaped vessel in which Ammi served curry last night. Curry with thick-spiced Murgh-Masala. The delicious dinner was bland and colorless against my loveless tongue, it immediately took me back to that sunny afternoon where in the wait of your belated letter, I sat and learnt the traditional recipe of the dish from my mother, just so that I could get you to taste its beauty when you returned home. You loved it when I cooked.

I step into this boat dutifully each day, just before dawn is about to crack, when the sky is that tricky color of purple and white that one can never paint. It is just that hour before sunrise, before the birds woke, when you used to turn in bed and sheepishly hum, and rising from sleep, put your arms around me and kiss me with all the love you contained.

I seat myself carefully but with ease, the daily practice has made my movements natural. I untie the boat from the hinge of consciousness and I pick up the oars, and sail away, melodiously traversing this sea of memories, love, loss, pain, or alternatively, a simple sea of tears. I softly row my way to the other shore, the land of dreams…where I can lose myself indefinitely, where the vagaries of time do not trouble me, where I can think of you and remember you without guilt, sorrow or ridicule. Where you and I are one again – if not in soul, then in memory. I am taken back to the first day I met you, the snow-capped hills and the beautiful valley icy, the memory is pungent within me till date. I remember the subtle chase in our eyes, our subsequent interaction when I asked you for directions, and the many boat-trips in the Dal that you consequently took me on, on shikaras of happiness.

Sometimes I think, ever since that day, I have been sailing the same sea, while time and space have transcended and reshaped around me incessantly. To and fro, torturously.

I had decided to leave everything back at home and settle into this paradise only because the immensity and unbounded fearlessness of your love made me stay, provoked me to love you back, make you half as happy as you had the capacity to make me, to free you from all unprecedented sorrows, and forthcoming pain. My love was traditional, but complete.

It pains me to remember you, to memorialize your laughter and your love. But what choice do I have? I cannot afford to forget you or your memories, they keep me alive. I would have forgotten you if you were simply a man I loved. But you had washed into my world like a storm; to me, you had become love. And as you will understand, it is easy to live without the specter who stole your heart, but it is impossible to live without the heart itself.

This sea that I travel is dark, Janum. And this land is villainy. But I must undertake this journey. With your silver hand in mine, as thin as mist, as warm as the sun, I must travel through time to reach your memories, because that is what true love is – unforgetful, forgiving, and lovely.

Inayat