Lost in translation

They always ask why I chose so poorly when it comes to love. Why I don’t chose the guy at a karaoke bar who sings like Frank Sinatra and asks me to sing along. Why I don’t stay and chat with the boy in a bookstore, who saw me holding a copy of The Idiot and asks if I thought the unevenness of the story made it more whole. Why I don’t stand and listen to the student who sits on a bench by the art gallery playing his violin, even though the strings pull at the chords in my heart.

I don’t chose wisely because I fear love. The possibility that I might find someone who would ask me to dance with him in an empty ballroom or a newly bought studio apartment. That he might have his favourite bedtime poem for nights when sleep evades him, that someday it might lull me to sleep. That I would one day hold his hand sitting side by side on rocking chairs out on the porch and listen to the crickets. It’s like that one frequency of sound which resonates with every crystal in the glass before it shatters. It is those shards I fear because they are impossible to put back together. 

 I imagine that feeling every night before I go to bed. Yes I am a romantic if you hadn’t guessed by now. But every morning as the sun shines through the blinds I put my dream to rest. It does peek out from the grave quite unexpectedly. That I might have met him sometime somewhere but I chose to walk away. That even though I sing like a crow I should have taken his hand as he reached out while singing “if you go away.”  That I didn’t ask him if he identified with the Prince or that he wondered if he world sometimes feels so full yet so desolate? That I chose to walk past and never gave the music a chance to thaw my frozen heart.

I chose instead that which cannot comprehend my love. That which cannot hold me captive to its tune. I chose that soul so foreign that it’s words are always lost in translation. I chose that which I couldn’t love even if I tried. So my heart remains and there it shall lie buried in my chest till the day I die.

  

Unfinished conversations

“There is flattery in friendship” – William Shakespeare.

I don’t know if you remember, but the first time we talked it was about literature. You said you love Shakespeare’s comedy plays. And all I could do was smile.

You seemed to like Indian ghazals. I did not tell you I cry every time I listen to “kagaz ki kashti”. Or that sometimes i dream of that unknown silhouette and a midnight seranade with an old Hindi song I heard over the radio.

You are the only person (without dentures or wrinkles) who knows a perfect cup of tea is a work of art.

I know you have your own version of literary characters. I often wonder how different your Anna Karenin is from mine. Every time someone mentions Sherlock Holmes do you conjure him out of thin air and does it remind you of the smell of pipe tobacco?

Sometimes I wish I didn’t hide behind a veil of *everything blonde*! I will never find out if you like moments of silent meditation.

Paris in the rain or the sound of hoofs on paved London streets? Lonely passes in the Himalayas or the parathewali galli in Chandni Chowk?

You know the subtle beauty of old age. It is not the profound wisdom but the toothless smile of innocence. That is why our grandparents are our best friends.

I met a dreamer and did not ask if his dreams ever came true.

These unfinished conversations will haunt me forever. Of Philosophical discussions, of favourite Rusty stories, of tea on a rainy day, of sunsets and valleys.

Goodbye and good luck.

B



Hauntings

A face, her face,
Strains of a song,
Wafting into the room,
And a bleeding heart.

My heavy heart,
My bitter tears,
Her arms around me,
And her lips on mine.

Our bed? Our space?
Her raggedy doll,
And her peaceful face,
Her tiny hands holding mine,
Dreams cloaked by sleepy eyes.

Her laugh like a wave,
So innocent, so soothing,
Watching her sleep, amused,
Head on the pillow feet in the air.

If she had loved I couldn’t ask,
If she had asked I wouldn’t tell,
If she had felt that way,
I wouldn’t be writing this today.

A thunderstorm in my chest,
She stands there in white,
Oh how Cupid mocks!
As I watch him take her arm.

She looks at me,
Standing at the door
Suddenly the shadows shift ,
My eyes had so much to say.

She couldn’t understand.
Should I tell her I loved her?
an inaudible whisper escaped.
Betrayal and hurt in her eyes,
metal doors close,
a conversation unfinished.

On the island of my heart,
wind whistled, palm trees swayed,
Crusoe on that raft drifting away,
days got longer, nights colder,
My eye on the horizon,
It grows weary each day.

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Life lessons from my grandmother

She is 86 a surgeon in retirement and a real badass.

#1 the pubertal,hormonal, immature kind of love happens. And then one day it leaves you lying flat on the pavement with your nose touching the ground.
When it was my turn and I was 17 she called me to her room. Asked me to sit down. And said “it will hurt and you will bleed. But you will live through it. And you will never fall head over heels again. Because whenever love truly is
it is forever. It is not the excitement of youth but the comfort of old age.”

#2 karma is THE bitch. No one is a goody two shoes and when you mess with someone you get your ass kicked.
I was not quite the devil in prada (those girls are in for major ass kicking). I was the girl in dirty sneakers who one day decided to fight back. The teacher called home to tell my parents what I did to miss prissy.
My grandmother heard about it and next day on the phone all she said to me was “young lady, don’t get your hands dirty. You will always have an assassin to do it for you she is called karma.”

#3 DIY.
Be it a card or a cake it is best when you do it yourself. The fun of the process, the glue and glitter on your hands, the ruined kitchen table, the messy apron, the hours of admiring that ‘masterpiece’. All of it, immensely satisfying.

#4 Over achieve
She always says she is a woman of average intelligence and almost pleasant to look at. When she was down and out she imagined her most difficult case and said tomorrow it could be a patient with acreeta (a condition where the placenta that attaches the baby’s cord to the mothers uterus invades into her abdomen) with twins and i have to keep standing if they will ever have a shot at life.

#5 Family is everything.
You have friends and then you don’t. But the one thing as constant as the sun is your family. She (whom her father did not leave much in his will) fed and clothed the children of her almost royal step sister(who squandered the wealth that comes with being the first child of a very competent judge and counsellor to a king). When I asked why she looked at me with those all knowing eyes, “the cinders and soot from the kitchens blackened my skin and clothes but it couldn’t touch my heart.”

#6Treasure. “Some people covet gold and diamonds. But they forget about that old box of precious things, a broken pencil from the first time you spoke to your crush, the sweater you knit for your child, the letters from your mom when you were at medical school, the trinket the love of your life got you during that walk through the local market. They are the gems of a life full of love.”

#7 make up is a face devoid of beauty. “The colour in your cheeks should be that which comes with a good haemoglobin level and a long walk through the moors. Never forget, the twinkle in your eyes and the smile on your lips and the tousled hair every morning will be beautiful till the end of time.”

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What could have been.

We all grow up doing pretty much the same things. But sometimes after you reach your twenties being the irresponsible adults you were destined to be, you meet someone. Someone who makes you wish you knew them since high school.

To skip class just so you could read Emily Dickinson and Whitman. To meet up everyday after school and talk about how one day you will graduate and go backpacking through Europe. Someone to knock your head against the lockers every time you go dreamy eyed and weak in your knees when….the cliché high school drama. Someone who knows you spill more food than you eat. Someone your mom knows better than she knows you.

Someone to binge watch cartoons and all the TV shows that are now ancient. To sneak out at night through the bedroom window. Whispering so that your parents don’t wake up. To drive to your favourite spot. The lights from the town twinkle in the valley below. You lie down on the grass and look up at the stars. Side by side, like that is where you were meant to be.

I wish I knew him when all that mattered was the canvas and the palette in my hand. When every emotion had a shape, a word, a colour. Every dream had wings. When every laugh was carefree.

To spend countless hours on Internet chat rooms. Hanging out in Record stores. All those mixed tapes. My room, from when I was less anal about where the sweaty clothes should be. Nirvana, Springsteen, U2 on the radio. I can picture him there in that dump loving it every bit as much as I did. If my life were to be anything like a John Hughes movie he would be there holding a boombox outside my window. If I get to change one thing it won’t be wishing I didn’t barf during that debate in school. It would be to grow up with him.

It is too late now for endless conversations over telephones with cords or box TV sets with musicals and black and white movies. It is too late for notes exchanged in school libraries. Now we can’t spend time by that stream skipping stones like tomorrow is a distant dream. We meet as we part, the memories we share are the one page that was from a book that could have been.

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Being Oliver Twist

What is it really to be free? Freedom is an empty stomach and having nothing to live on but dreams. That is what an orphan on the streets taught me.

Be brave. Because a life without imprudence will be spent in a warehouse with gruel that makes your stomach turn.

You might be a pickpocket or an investment banker. It doesn’t matter which. If you can close your eyes and think of something, anything and smile you have all you need from life.

Family is not always around. Sometimes you gain one along the way. Also every family is not apple pies and thanksgiving dinners. Sometimes a fire on a cold winters night is what brings a family together.

So what if you don’t have a roof over your head? Its a sign that says adventure is around the next block. And I don’t know what you may find but your life will never be the same again.

Friends may not be morally right and might be the scum of the earth. But friends don’t have to be right they just have to be there when you need them.

Love may not be around so much. But when it is it fills your heart. That is reason enough to live without it. For tomorrow it might turn up again.

Happy endings exist. If you believe they exist. They are why you keep walking through a blizzard. There is a field with butterflies and sunshine. It exists.

Survive that is all you have to do. And in the end you have to sit back with a glass of wine and tell your story.

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Midnight Memories

Yellowing pages
Fading pictures
In her mind
suddenly brought back to life
To be forgotten again

A city so bright
A girl so shy
His face so different
Almost innocent
His eyes like hers
With a hint of madness

Beer bottles with a story
Everything flashing by so fast
The cars The thoughts
The lights
But he stood still
Amongst it all
Looking at her
They barely knew each other
But they knew each other

She waited for that kiss
that never happened
She knew how it would feel
That was enough
She didn’t know it then

They talked
she couldn’t remember
what he said
It didn’t matter
It was new years eve
December they were strangers
January they were friends
that was all they would ever be
She knew that when they first met
She wished she didn’t

A box of junk of memories
She held a beer bottle cap
And smiled to herself
It was real, he was real
It meant nothing
Yet everything
It changed nothing
yet everything
She was different
yet the same