Tuesday 7 December, 2010

One Minute Book

Here's a story I wrote a couple of years back. Well, it's a short short or something.


The jogger’s shoes pound against the cobble-stoned sidewalk as he runs past an old ground in South Mumbai. One little spin bowler successfully cracks the stumps, bowling out the bespectacled hero of the hour. One ball, one wicket, eleven shrieks of animated appeal to the fictitious umpire. One bespectacled bat drags dust on its way to the stone bench. One minute to the school bell; soon it will be time to go home. No commercial breaks, no sponsored jerseys, no brand ambassadors. Just one little spinner who broke enough windows to perfect the turn of the ball. The scrawny bowler pumps his fist in the air. The young players saunter away from the field and hear a loud burst of thunder. The sky is clear, but the fence around the playground has come bursting in.

Dodging the late afternoon shoppers on Colaba Causeway, the jogger sweats his way past an old saleswoman on the brink of a smile. A young hippie in the wrong decade hands over five hundred-rupee notes to the toothless smile. Four too many for a shawl with a secret hole in it. The hippie casts a sidelong glance at the jogger who smiles in appreciation. Curling her fingers around the notes, the old woman sighs in anticipation of all the pegs of rum that will go un-sacrificed that evening. Tucking the shawl into her bag where her freshly purchased marijuana nestles next to her copy of Lonely Planet, the hippie turns to leave, thinking about sex and joggers. A big blinding light and the sound of a hundred cannonballs prematurely ends her imaginary one-night stand.

The jogger looks into the window of an old coffee shop with a colonial hangover, a shroud that almost all of Colaba proudly shares. A reflection of himself comes back at him like a message garbled in the vision of a couple on a date. He pants by as the stubble in the coffee shop looks soulfully into the black crevices between the toes of a goddess. The deity in question looks at the clock, looks at the door, looks at the clock. The stubble twitches uncomfortably at the ground that refuses to open up below him. Light leaves his eyes as it fills those of the goddess. A clean-shaven dimple- that master of puppets- enters the coffee shop and locks the goddess in a fate-sealing embrace. The stubble holds back an expletive as a waiter condescends on underachieving breadsticks. The door of the coffee shop bursts into a million little teardrops of glass, chairs fly upwards and inwards and people are thrown off the checkered tablecloths like so many chessmen.

An undernourished rabid dog scratches the heat and grime off his ears as the jogger comes into his line of vision. Standing up in delirious euphoria, the dog chases the jogger, happy to have met a friend. As he runs to catch up, the light catches the shimmer of a metal fastener on the jogger’s torso. The jogger looks at the dog and looks up at the sky. He screams to an unseeing God before he presses a button strapped to his body. Little bits of the rabid dog splatter on the rubble of cobblestones.

In the air filled with the stench of so many unconnected deaths, hangs a single thought: That in the movie which will be made some years hence, this scene will be in slow motion, and the censor board will cut the footage of the flying flesh and the look of lust that passed between a jogger and a hippie.

Tuesday 24 August, 2010

Godawful Poem #4: The Incidence of Light

The incidence of light
on bee-hive glass panels
not unfavourably tinted by beer within.
The incidence of light
was the high point of that evening.

Cannot read the newly-acquired book
for reasons of tiny fontage,
will not talk to the gaping guzzler
for reasons of affrontage.

On that listless evening
when even the weather did nothing new,
the incidence of light
soon became minor gossip in the pub.

Now the bartenders insist
on bee-hive glass panels on their beer mugs:
It keeps the regulars happy,
it unites the lonely,
it makes patterns on the walls.

The evenings are still mostly listless
except for so many incidents of light.

Monday 23 August, 2010

Godawful Poem #3: In which the sniffles take over

like punctuation marks,
pepper my conversation.

Those who love me less
for being a stickler,
now detest the grotesque

It's far worse when I sneeze:
I feel like a stage artist,
suddenly naked,
everyone staring,
holding breath,
what will she say now,
will she embarrass her loved ones,
will she impress?

It's far worse when I sneeze:
Microphone in hand,
the first awkward 'hello',
a squeal from the mic,
people waiting, judging,
"today I will be singing..."
and the song is forgotten,
averted eyes,
poor woman, poor woman,
squirming and squeezing
the tissue in her hand.

are like the curtains opening
before a massive audience glares at you,
demanding their money's worth.

Now when I sneeze,
I imagine the audience is naked,
I imagine the spotlight is on them,
dimpled thighs and wrinkled breast.
The fantastic bark escapes my lips,
and I feel tall,
the sniffles that follow
are a raucous curtain call.

Inherited traits

She chopped vegetables by the window
for years,
watching her son grow.
The neighbours, his uncles, her lovers-
all the jigsaw bits of a father.

She chopped vegetables by the window
each day,
he grew taller and stronger and stranger,
in the image of his father,
forever earning, forever "abroad".

On the first day of his first job,
just for a moment nervous like the child,
he trembled at his mother.
Pulling a knot below his collar,
the stale scent of lavender sachets she put between clothes,
she looked into his eyes,
the eternal wall between them falling.
"You have your father's ties."

Sunday 22 August, 2010

Godawful Poem #2: In which a muse appears

On most evenings when the ink runs dry,
I can explain why:
Poems are rarely of use
When there is no muse.

On such evenings, one appears in my head,
Of magnificent soul and passions that are red,
Of cruelty so attractive, and kindness like a drug,
With tears for a puppy, but for mankind just a shrug.

On these evenings, I steel my heart
I steel my heart, not steal my heart.
(Imagine the state of oneself,
If oneself were to fall for oneself!)

On these evenings, I steel my heart:
I turn away before I can start.
I put away the pen again,
Close the inkpot and count to ten.

A bad poem, even if factual
Is the result of a muse that is actual.
A good poem about an apparition
Is a lie, a farce, a kick in the shin.

Saturday 21 August, 2010

Godawful Poetry Fortnight

Hello nears and dears!
Yes, I'm aliiiive. And it's Godawful Poetry Fortnight, which is right up my alley.
Here. Read about it. And 'attend the event' as they say on Facebook:

Here's my Godawful Poem #1

Poem #1

Some art is laboured like
learning to ride a bike,
some art is unforgivingly fun
like squeezing a bullet out of a gun.

I know how to ride a bicycle-
it's something you'll never forget;
but the gun-toting abominable
I'll never ever get.

Some art is weird, for example
a portrait of a stool sample.
But my heart in rooted in the thrill
of writing poetry made of swill.