Sunday, September 28, 2008

Dream on a sunday afternoon


The wailing women descend upon the house like an air-raid siren. I am lying on my cot and counting the pixies that fly in from the afternoon heat and settle on my fingers. The one that looks alarmingly like my mother settles in a mess of red sari and gold border by the foot of the bed and starts in her loud voice.

‘Have you thought about marriage?’

‘No’

‘Why not?’

‘I don’t know’

‘All self-respecting south Indian women get married’

I yawn.

The old one in the corner starts coughing violently.

‘I want to see you married before I die’ she wheezes. ‘I want all my children to be married and happy’

‘I’m not your child’ I tell her.

‘I want all my grandchildren to be happy.’

‘But I am happy.’

She coughs and brings up a jagged stone of heavy black from her mouth and sets it on the floor to keep the room from spinning.

‘You’re wasting your life’, the one who looks suspiciously like my mother starts up again. She is slicing onions with a knife, a safety pin gripped tightly between her teeth. More pixies float in from the afternoon scorching heat. I watch them settle on my big toe and implode into a ball of furry pixie dust.

‘Do you know to tie a sari?’

 ‘No.’

Chop chop chop.

‘You will learn.’ she says.

Chop chop chop.

‘It is your duty to get married.’ She continues.

‘Why?’

‘Then I will be a success.’

‘How?’

‘Then I have raised two children, put them through engineering, and got them married into respectable families.’

‘And then?’

‘Then you’re on your own.’

‘What if I fail?’

She doesn’t answer. The one is the corner has thrown up four glistening black stones. They have flecks of vomit-and-blood coloured spots in them. One of the black stones crumbles and begins to wail in a slow and steadily increasing Doppler Effect siren.

‘And if I don’t?’ I ask.

‘Then I fail’.

 ‘And me?’

‘You’re a failure anyway’.

Chop chop chop.

The wailing is beginning to spin the room. I walk outside the spinning room with the wailing ladies chopping onions. There is a crooked trail of red ants that lead to a stone well. I follow it and look down.

‘The water is fine’

The voice from the well echoes up. I look into the black hole and see four naked women standing at the bottom.

‘Where?’ I ask.

‘Come down.’

I am standing on the edge of the well. The cold stone creeps up between my toes and bites, injecting little darts of formic acid into my flesh. I step back and shake my head.

‘I haven’t been touched in a long time.’ she says.

 ‘I know’

‘But I’m free.’

‘What’s that?’ I point to a muddy puddle of brown on the floor of the well.

‘That’s my left tit.’

‘What happened to it?’

‘It died of dejection.’

‘I can’t talk to you anymore.’

‘Why?’

‘Mother said to stay away from divorcees, spinsters and lepers. You can catch it from them.’

‘We’re not divorced.’

‘Then you’re prostitutes. You’re in heels.’

‘Prostitutes don’t wear heels. They’re bare-footed and wear a red blouse too tight to contain their small breasts, and sport lipstick stains on their teeth’

The edges of stone are starting to lap and suck around my ankles like quicksand. I extract my feet with a slopsound and walk away to the small brick wall. I hear singing from the naked women in the well.

I sit on the wall, resting my elbows on my knees. The folds of my sari collect in a pool of crumpled cloth between my legs. Wails emanate from the spinning house.

‘Why don’t you marry’ the wail forms words and carry to where I am seated.

‘What if I fail?’

‘That won’t happen.’

‘Then I’ll be divorced. No one likes a divorcee. They throw stones at her in the street and lorry drivers try to force themselves on her when she sleeps at night. I’ll lose all my friends’

‘Then don’t get divorced.’

‘Then I’ll be unhappy, and he’ll force himself on me every night like a sweating grunting pig attacking a dead fish.’

‘You’ll have a family and you’ll be happy.’

‘I’ll have a family and I’ll be trapped. If I leave then, daughters will blame me, my sons will grow cold and stop talking to me, my in-laws will burn my ears with their red-coal words and my parents will wear my shame in their house like a soiled sanitary napkin on a marble floor.’

‘What other way is there?’

‘I’ll just wait.’

A girl in a blue synthetic pavadai jumps from the spinning house and squats down on the grass next to me. She is carrying a handwoven palmleaf rice-sifter containing white jasminey flowers that have just started to wilt. She fishes a needle and string out from somewhere inside her clothing and begins to string them together.

‘What are you doing?’ I ask her.

‘I am stringing a garland of Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings.’

‘How will you know which is which?’

‘Look’, she says and picks out a wilting flower with a strong smell from the heap of white and throws it away. ‘That was a Sunday afternoon.’

‘And then what will you do?’

She gathers the Sunday mornings in her hands and tightly clasps her palms together. A small drop of glistening metal emerges from the folds of her hands and slides into a dirty glass jar she has placed nearby. She opens her palms and wipes the wet crumpled flowers on her petticoat.

‘Be careful to throw out the Sunday afternoons. And definitely no Mondays. They are poison.’

‘What will you do with it?’ I persist.

‘I wear it when I get older’ she says.

‘What for?’

She lifts her top and dabs a little between her small unformed breasts.

‘When they smell it, they will come.’

She hummed as she strung the afternoons and mornings together in a tidy white garland. I saw the string she used was cutting the soft skin on her fingers. She was bleeding pixie dust. She turns to me and smiles, her teeth stained with borrowed red lipstick. Her humming drowns out the singing from the well and the sound of wails from the spinning house. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Of lost souls swimming in a fishbowl


Guppy was. Actually, I should say Guppy was happy, but Guppy was a fish, and fishes do not have a perception of happiness, or any sort of emotion for that matter, and therefore, Guppy simply was. Guppy was in a large pond filled with lots of other fishes and other forms of marine ecosystems. Guppy swam and swam in lots of pointless circles and ate when he ate and slept when he slept, although he slept with his eyes open since fishes don’t have eyelids and no one can tell if a fish is asleep unless you poke it with your index finger and it wakes up and swims off into lots and lots of pointless circles again. Guppy was definitely a he, and this we could be sure of because he didn’t think too much, unlike the other fishes who thought too much and started putting powdered-valium on their seaweed. Also, these other fishes laid eggs and sometimes thought their bums were too big.

Guppy was a fish of simple pleasures. He liked the sun. He liked the sea. He liked the other fishes. And most of all, he liked pointless circles, which he swam in swishing his tailfin this way and that. Life was good, and Guppy was.

One day, a large net lowered into the water and fished Guppy out. The net was attached to a large manhand and the large manhand was attached to a small plastic bag of water into which Guppy went. He swam and swam in smaller pointlesser circles till he was transferred again by the large manhand holding the large net into a slightly larger rectangular apparatus. Since Guppy was a fish, he had no concept of space or dimensions and continued to swim in pointless circles inside the rectangular tank with many different coloured fishes, fishes he’d never seen before, and lots of funny looking plants and a small scary thing near the floor that kept blowing bubbles and didn’t seem to want to be his friend, although Guppy tried.

Guppy no longer found strange and interesting coloured plants to eat. He found strange and interesting little tiny balls bobbing on the surface of the water, and he ate them, because fishes don’t have mothers who pinch their ears for putting everything they find into their mouths. The tiny balls made him happy and so Guppy was. He forgot about the plants, and he forgot about the net and he forgot about everything except the little balls that floated down every day. Guppy swam in lots and lots of pointless circles bumping into other fishes on the way. He tried to make friends but sometimes the others fishes would be here and sometimes they would not and there would be new fishes and this would all be very confusing for Guppy if he could think about it, but he couldn’t and so Guppy kept swimming in his pointless circles bumping into all the other fishes. He bumped into them because this tank was a little crowded and his old place was not so crowded, but Guppy had no perception of time or self-awareness to understand and compare his former state of being with his present condition. Therefore, Guppy simply was.

One day a large manhand attached to a small net lowered itself into the tank and fished out a fish and Guppy found himself in a small glass bowl, only he did not know it was a glass bowl because he was inside it and moreover because he was a fish of (comparatively) limited intelligence. Soon all the shaking and moving around stopped, and Guppy was once more swimming in lots and lots of smaller pointless circles. This new place had no plants. And it had no other fishes. And it didn’t even have the scary thing with the bubble in the bottom. Guppy swam and swam in circles till he saw the familiar little balls bobbing on the surface. He swam up and ate the little balls and soon he was full and he was feeling.

Day turned into night and night turned into day and sometimes when the mandhands drew the curtains there would be evening or dawn or some other hour of the day that was marked, sliced and measured in the continuum of experience of higher beings. But Guppy simply swam and swam, in small circles almost chasing his tail because the bowl was so small, only he didn’t know it was so small, he only knew that he was, and that sometimes there would be the little balls and then he would eat and then he would be. But time went on, and with the passage of time, Guppy began to act strange. He would do what other fishes wouldn’t do. He would stare at the surface of the water for hours. He would bump his nose against the glass of the bowl and do it again and again in a circle till he got back to where he started from. He had nothing to do, except swim in lots and lots of pointless circles.

One day he stopped swimming in circles and went to investigate the bottom of the bowl. Only, Guppy was a fish and therefore did not know he was in a bowl or conducting an investigation. He poked his nose around the bottom, and lay there for a long while, till the tiny balls appeared again at the surface of the water. Sometimes he leapt to where he knew the tiny balls would come from. He wondered what was outside. He wondered about the balls and how they made him feel. He wondered if being ontheotherside would make him feel like he felt after he ate the tiny balls. For the first time, Guppy wondered, although fishes don’t wonder or think or pontificate, but this only went to show Guppy was a special kind of fish.

Guppy lay at the bottom of the bowl more and more and thought about the tiny balls and the manhand and the large net. He thought about the bowl and the water and the surface. He thought about the bottom and the top and the sides. He thought about the inside and the outside. He wondered if he was and he wondered what it was like to be not. Guppy lay in the bottom of the bowl for hours thinking and thinking. The manhands would poke him to make him move but Guppy was. The tiny balls would float on the surface and crowd the little opening to the jar, but Guppy was.

Finally, one day, a large manhand reached into the bowl and fished out the fish and threw it outside to make way for a new fish that came in a plastic bag attached to a manhand. 

Guppy lay on the grass, but he did not know it was grass. He saw the sun shine above, but he did not know it was shining. All he thought of was the tiny balls, millions and millions of strange and interesting tiny balls and the bright shining light moving towards him, and he knew that beyond the light he would find the tiny balls waiting for him… if he could just get ontheotherside. 

Monday, September 8, 2008

Random musings, epiphanies and odds and ends.



  • My blog needs to be updated more often.

  • Chaos is beautiful.

  • My shampoo contains beer. It’s a good conditioner.

  • Sunlight makes me happy. So does rain.

  • Most of my friends are married. They hang out with other married couples, or stay at home with their spouses.

  • If you spent your twenties married to someone that you couldn’t make it work with in the end, have you thrown the best years of your life away? Or is that just something single 30-somethings say to console themselves for the lack of regular sex in their lives?
  • I designed my own calling card. Its pink. With a rainbow-checkered cow in gold heels on the back.

  • The silk moth is born without a mouth. After emerging from the pupae, it flaps its useless wings about – years of domestication and inbreeding have rendered the worm unable to fly – till it finds a mate, copulates, lays eggs, and then dies in a day. Are we actually giving their lives meaning by killing them and rendering them useful?

  • If I could be reborn whenever and wherever as anyone else other than myself, I’d go back to the 70s and Woodstock and become a groupie for Led Zep.

  • Beer rocks. Champagne tastes like shit.

  • After two years of living in the US, my nice well-mannered friend has turned into an obnoxious American who talks loudly and incessantly about things no one really gives a fuck about.

  • I like India. It grows on you.

  • I feel a pang of nostalgia when I see school or college kids these days.

  • Some days I feel the ground slipping away from my feet, and I remember I’m too old for sex, drugs and rock n roll.

  • Thank god for oasis. That’s the one band from my generation I will pass on to my kids.

  • I will always pair my kurtis with keds.

  • I wear jeans to work everyday.

  • Starfish are capable of regenerating any part of their body.

  • If religion is the opium of the masses, is insanity the drug of choice for those privileged few?

  • If I killed because I was cornered, would I feel guilty?

  • I hate twilight.

  • Are fat people happy? Really?

  • Thank god for Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

  • I will name my daughter Zopa. No surname.

  • If you’re feeling blue, find a psychiatrist and pay her to listen to you whine.

  • Sex and the city’s a half-decent show. Vacuous, self-obsessed and peripherally intellectual, it makes for good tv nonetheless.

  • Am I the only person in the world to still use the word nonetheless?

  • I also use albeit.

  • If by some quirk in the universe tomorrow we woke up and everyone was clairvoyant, what would happen to the world in 24 hours?

  • Would you rather be dumb and happy than the opposite?

  • I get high on the Beatles.

  • Kids are great. Parents are scary.

  • If I have kids would I turn into a different person?

  • A good pair of stilettos turn you into a bitch. Really.

  • I never tire of falling in love.

  • One day I will have a toned taut body and then I will take nude black and white shots to look at when I’m old and flatulent.
  • I have an over-developed superego.

  • Money makes you happy.

  • Good food makes you happier.

  • I just had ox tongue. And I liked it.

  • I still haven't finished season 2 of scrubs.

  • In an industrial family, your family politics are your office politics. Do your friends then become your family?

  • How many lovers is too many?

  • I wish I was taller.

  • Can you feel yourself descend into madness?

  • One day I will read the entire discworld series.

  • I listen to Floyd in darkness.

  • How many special people change?

  • How many lives are living strange?

  • Where were you while we were getting high?

  • Om.