The crackle at the other end of the line
told me that he was still there,
despite the dead silence.
The click at the back of his teeth,
and the sudden sharp uncontrolled intake of breath,
Impatient at the rising pitch of my voice,
wavering perilously close to tears.
Tremulous and shaky,
for the third phone call this month.
I am stricken by the irritation in his voice,
and struggle to make amends.
I apologize for being irritable,
for being a bore, for being predictable
and for the lack of sparkle in our conversation.
I dredge out the same dull things each time.
The worry in my thoughts
translate to a crease in between my eyebrows,
turning into a ceaseless litany of woe on the phone.
I can imagine the mouse
hovering over a link in red
and the impatience perched at the corner of his absent smile.
I hang up feeling stupid.
That evening sitting with work,
with cats lolling on the floor,
and stray roommates behind closed doors,
I remember my grandmother,
and us children rolling our eyes, every time her voice would start to rise
about my dead grandfather,
about money, and the servants.
The crack was coming, we knew it
because it came so often.
Impatience, and irritation.
‘I love her, but why can’t she just keep her misery to herself?’
I did not think those thoughts,
I did not vocalize them,
not even to myself.
Am I a bad person,
I wonder.
Don’t think so much,
a friend told me over the phone.
Isn’t it exhausting,
she asked, bewildered, frustrated.
Yes, I said.
But not giving shape to the thought in your head,
doesn’t un-make it.
But I am a fool,
who thinks too much, and sleeps too little, and gets confused,
and cries on the phone.
Offering apologies, swallowing the knot in my stomach.
So I keep my feelings to myself,
and try to take up littler space.
I will not intrude in your world.
I will back away one half footfall at a time,
and you will not hear me leave.
You will not care.
And I will make a mental note to myself,
to be kinder to my grandmother
when she tries not to cry.

UFF this is like fake pre exam time. can i please go somewhere else, be someone else. i’m sick of umreeka. want to go live somewhere in india where i know lots of people but will see no one because i’ll be sitting, no lying down on a green bedcover in an ac room with green curtains, reading, reading, reading.

i just described the master bedroom in park’er baari. dhyat.

i am just sick of being told what to do, and sick of thinking so much about it all the time. wouldn’t it be nice if i could just know what i’m doing next year and be happy with it, no unexpected surprises, thank you very much.

i’m sick of being politically correct and understanding, sick of being a hard worker, sick of a neverending to-do list, and a boy who is a stubborn, lazy ass. i’m sick of having a house without a fan, and a blocked nose. i want to be in kerala with my family, ten years old, taking pictures on a dinky toy camera. i also want to be a goat, but a pet goat, not one that is being slaughtered to make delicious mutton curry- “kheye nao, shiggir, rontoo”

DHYATT.

i don’t want to have feelings ever again. NO MORE EMOTIONS, THANK YOU. ALSO NO MORE CATSICK ON THE STAIRS WHEN I WOKE UP. also no more people saying things like ‘lovely femmeness’. also i cannot listen to music anymore. 

the baba (not the father, the sattam) emailed me and told me not to do this thing with my eyebrows where i look like a nervous, sad puppy, when i give my talk. i was trying to figure out what the devil he meant, while doing it, such is life etcetera. yesterday i wore a dress from the seventh grade that i used to wear a tank top under, only i didn’t yesterday because i’m bigger? but my boobs were on display, and i kept alternating between ‘WORLD HERE ARE MY BOOBS’ and ‘ughh i wish i had a bib because they are DISTRACTING’.

i woke up from uneasy sleep where i’d buzzed off all my hair and was passing as a boy with some strange name like Rat. also crazy amounts of police sirens outside my window for a longtime, and in my sleep i thought they were coming after me ‘cuz i hadn’t finished my presentation. 

dhurr. i am sick of glitter, sick of being politically correct, and having to think about whether i’m being ‘oppressive’ every time i open my mouth.

all i want is to be on a footpath somewhere, drinking thums up and waiting for an auto.

okay? okay.

i have probably written too many things i shouldn’t have, but fuck that. in other news, i showed ma something fictional and now she’s paranoid that i’m sleeping with my boss (I’M NOT. I’M NOT, UFF RUBBISH).

fgkhfdgknfhpjj

Bout of nostalgia

Annesha’s latest mix made me listen to the Gangs of Wasseypur soundtrack again. Right now I have ‘Womaniya’ blasting through my ears, and I want so, so badly to be back in Cal, on that day when I first watched the movie. That morning we reached Forum nearly three hours too early, crammed into the metro with a hundred other jostling, sweaty bodies. I was afraid that there was going to be a lot of awkwardness with someone who was there because of drunken antics that had happened a little while ago. There was no real awkwardness, and our motley assortment of people wandered Elgin Road searching for Crossword, taking the longest route possible. I remember sitting on the top floor with said person and looking out at this gigantic hoarding of Shahrukh Khan advertising some sort of vest(?) that bordered on the obscene. We were listening to these new-ish old songs and sharing a bowl of something or the other that was not enough for a single person, but we had no money. We kept getting the song names right, and then we wanted to look at the CD that was playing but the manager very firmly told us that it was against the rules. He took it out and let us stare at the CD cover though- lurid pink hearts and all. Then we walked back to the movie, and the Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi theme song began, and then the rest of the utterly brilliant movie followed. I was blown away by a Hindi movie after a long time, and when we staggered out into the sunlight, we were wobbly on our legs, and I was starving, but still broke so Chandrima fed me some sort of egg-fry thing from the roadside vendor on the footpath opposite Forum. It was delicious and then Squg turned up, glasses and all- and we debated for a long time where to go adventuring. Finally we let our stomachs guide us, and stopped at Sharma’s because K wanted kochuri and puri of which I stole some. Then A did his impression of Arunava which was incredibly spot on, and I laughed, and then I felt guilty for laughing, but it was all in good fun, so I laughed some more. We were back to wondering what to do next, and then someone started chanting ‘momos, momos’, so we started walking to the Metro Station to get to Denzong’s. I remember walking down the Gujarati part of the city for the first time and I was doing my usual thing, stopping to take pictures of cars, and saying ‘Byeee’ to random passersby on the street. Squg and I didn’t know each other as well back then, and she was torn between amusement and firmly taking me by the hand and dragging me along before I could cause any trouble. Anyway, so we wound up at Denzong’s and I remember texting N maybe(?)- we were always texting back then- and we settled down on the stairs/road next to the shop, and there was a cat mewling at us, and a turd somewhere close by, and ants too, but the momos were delicous, and salty, and the soup burned my tongue, and I wasn’t paying, so I sat down and gobbled a plate and a half. Then I went home, and I was very, very happy.

I loved Wasseypur 2 even more, if possible. N came along for that one, only the viewing experience was super uncomfortable for me. We watched it at some seedy, shady cinema hall- Roxy or something like that, with a coolio bar-lounge monstrosity on the top floor that said ‘On the Roxxx’. My seat was right in front of the AC vent, and I shivered through the entirety of the next three hours. I stuck my ice cold hands into N’s shirt out of desperation, which didn’t help much, and made him squirm. We’d just started dating though, so he didn’t say anything, just twitched his lips and looked amused. My favourite scene was at the end when Faisal just would not stop shooting at Ramadhir Singh’s body. Sweet, sweet release it was, and it fed my bloodlust, and man, Sneha K was a genius with the score.
I don’t really remember what we did before and after very well- I vaguely remember walking with N along New Market and trying (and failing) to pick out a decent tee for him at Sanjay’s. Chandrima and Squg were straggling behind us. When we got out of the theatre, blinking in the sunlight, we were starving as usual and we wanted to go to this place that Tridipta kept telling us about. So we walked all the way, but it was a Sunday, and it was closed, so we wound up eating roadside chowmein again. Then we wanted lassi, so I stole about half of N’s mango lassi. Then someone wanted shoes or something, so we walked along the tram line where Tridipta told N and I that if he ever had a girlfriend, he would like to sit with her on a tram and not get off for the entirety of the way, and just talk, talk, talk. I thought that this was great, and poetic, and all that, only I remembered some Splitsvilla episode or something equally heinous where one of the vapid girls on the show had to impress Rannvijay on a tram journey like they were hitting on him- so that ruined it a bit- but I didn’t say anything, just smiled and nodded.
I think about last summer sometimes, and it’s strange that it happened to me. It was so great, so much fun, so- life-altering- which is a grandiose statement to make, but it really was. It brought a bunch of people into my life who are now my people, and there were so many new things I tried, and just good emotions I felt. I guess if someday I have to remember being young, and being happy, that summer will stand out even though a lot of great stuff has happened since- stuff that has been a lot shinier, and a lot more exciting. We airbrush our memories though- I cried a bunch over summer, and did many stupid things- but I do know that last summer, I’d never been happier in my life.
I go home in a month. Everything has changed. People are now old and familiar, like ha’pant-genji, and I love them infinitely more. But there are people still to meet, and new experiences to have with the old ones. Chaa awaits, and aimless rambles, and stuffing face, and getting wet, and lazy afternoons with music and kulfi, and falling asleep happy together, if I can.