the dead summer afternoon






nimmy joshi


The first step takes all the energy I had to get me through the day.

I, only I, know what it is to fear now. Everyone else ignores it. Or they pretend. How could they? Do they not know? My deepest fears. Their deepest fears. My deepest fears which are theirs too.

I went wrong the day I told them about it. And they heard me and they were thinking what I said too. And at night when they went back to their homes they thought about me. They thought about how I could touch their insecurities and know them all too well. Know them well enough for my picture in their heads to send shivers down their spine.

So they inserted needles into the blue in me. The seconds of blue I had collected running downstream, the ones that have become crystals now; crystals of years of rainfall.

And I can see the rainbow ever so small that takes me back to where I would close my eyes and die alone. And go to the place with dead things in it and missing pieces of my earrings. Like frozen bits of his voice which live deep in my memory and find the worst time to pounce on me. Dig their nails at the back of my earlobes. And the blue tries to come out. But it won’t. It cannot see people. People don’t believe in it.

So I make spiral rings of the water on the floor with my toe and the water keeps dripping. Cool, like the touch of his eyelashes and the wind.


And I fear the day my feet stop listening to me, they don’t have to. They know me. But I know me, too!

What if I want to dance? To dance my way off the cliff into a long graceful fall after a long graceful conversation with him.

But I was born with no moments of grace. So I sit and hear the thud of my fall. And there is that ring inside my head. The shattering noise paper makes when it turns into fragile bits of glass when I touch it.

And I fall. I fall. I did it all. I stepped on the sand at the sharp edge of the river and slid with the avalanche onto the leaves of the Lily. The lily that Ammu adorned the threshold of her door with. I spent countless hours wasting my time with her, buying more time to waste.

Before they found out that I am scared. So scared all the time. So scared of time itself that is full of angst at not being able to turn back.

But no, it shouldn’t. Lest it see my scarred face and then it would be scared too. Of the wrinkles filled deep with dead glances which just fell to the floor. The wrinkles would hiss at time. And it would slow and seep into my paper flowers.

They know they are imitations. They know they will never be caressed, with loving fingers which circle over their petals.

And as for me, I have spent myself on the luxury of waiting.



calcutta


I felt like a spectator, an invisible one at that; one who has all the time to walk slowly and be brushed aside on the sidewalk, one who doesn't have to jostle to get that last seat on the Metro.

Some places make you feel small, in a good way. And oh boy! Does she have a way of letting you know that there is a certain way in which the city functions! Old world charm, some say. Others say seedy bylanes.

I could just walk around for hours. Just that. Like I said, sometimes we just need to sit down and observe. Not be sentimental, but sensitive and not necessarily sensible. Life functions. Shit happens. Both at the same time and in a thousand ways.

What is sympathy but a figment of someone else's imagination planted in your head.

And before you know it, it is going to take roots inside your brain. Creep into it. It will not allow you to see anything till the time you bleed from your ears and drop by single drop your being trickles out and seeps into the cold wet, insatiable earth beneath your cracked heels . Being desensitised is almost like a blessing.


Have you ever felt that if you could you would show someone the exact same thing that you see, the exact same way you see it? Sort of like a peep into your head, like your brain should have been wired to two sets of eyes.

And I want to stress on the sound that you hear most prominently at that time. Standing at the crossroads in an evening as Sepia toned as they come how do you feel your own skin? It blends. And all the other noises cease to exist. Just a faint scratching noise like a sandy chalk on a slate blackboard.

Inside my brain, in the dark recesses of that chest where all the sounds are shut it starts itching. It starts itching and I itch till the Sepia turns Purple and finally Red. It oozes out and the cold wet Red calms me. It feels Smooth, unlike the noise.

My feet dig deep into the mud. The sticky mud, the one that dissolves my footprints dissolves my thoughts too.

I don't know what my eyes focus on; I am sure the reflections of the street lights on the water move like the wings of the flea here right in front of my eyes. It irritates me, I want to shoo it. But it stays. It sticks and slides under my eyelids. My eyes water.

In the hot summer the hot scalding water relieves my eyes. Those very eyes which met the eyes of the devil baby I saw. He stared. I must have stared too.

Should I weep? Should I wail? Right here right now. I am the last one who cared.

And I dream of waking up naked. But the being naked part is not frightening. What frightens is the numbness. Their eyes don't pierce me. Their eyes don't even as much as glide over my skin. They don't see me.

Makes me want attention. So I look. I feel like a spectator.

image by gopal MS