Mean Animals

“When I was a kid, I used to nag – a lot. I would go to my room, shut the door, often latch it from inside, and talk to the posters of animals in my room and nag some more. Yell out my side of the story, seek sympathy, say things out loud that hurt me. Talk about other the mean kids. Yell out bad words.”

Mom would barge in and say, “Keep the door open baby. Don’t latch it from inside.”

“But why mom?”

“Because kids shouldn’t be confined in their rooms all alone. That’s why. God forbid, if something goes wrong, we wouldn’t even come to know about it.”

“Okay. Fineee, mom!”

“And that happened every other day. Any time things went wrong, or upset me, I did the same thing; locked myself in and talked to these lifeless posters for hours and hours.  And it was not always just a one sided vent. These animals talked too. And I listened to them more than I listened to my best friend, or my teacher, or my own parents.  And this went on, say, till I was in my late teen years.”

“And then what happened?” asked the doctor.

boy-and-dog

“Then it stopped. Obviously. I grew up.”

“But why is it the obvious, Sam?” Continue reading

of Salt and Assaults

“Can you pass the salt?” he said.

“Which one?” she asked.

“The white one. What do you mean which one?” he said.

“Sorry” she said, “I was distracted.”

“By?” he asked, stuffing handful of rice in his mouth, chewing it loudly, rolling his eyes.

“By that!” she said. Pointing at his face.

He slowly turned his head around, expecting a ghost or an intruder or at least an animal waiting to pounce at him.

“By … whatttt?” he said, his mouth half open in terror and half stuffed with yellow rice.

“Ughh … by thatttt” she yelled, “look at your fucking hand.”

So he looked at his hand. Turned his palm around and looked at the other side of his hand. He couldn’t see much. Then he lifted his left arm resting on his knees, hiding under the dinning table and looked at that. Still nothing. He stared harder.

“Aaa … what are you doing?” she said

“Looking at my hand” he said.

“And?”

“And what?”

“There is dal all over it” she said.

“Ah! Okay. I get it, you are mad that our marriage ring is soaked in dal? Aren’t you?”

“Nope! Not at all” she said.

“Then? What are you mad at?”

“Oh god! How do I begin?” She sighed.

“No, no … tell me. Go on … What is it?”

“Sweetie, it’s not just our ring,” she said, “all your fingers are soaked in dal. You have folded your sleeves , which is a smart thing to do, given how you eat, but you should have folded it till your elbows, there is daal on your sleeves too! You know what? You should wear half sleeves at the dinner table. Yup, from now on, you are going to wear half sleeves while eating. In fact, no wait … you should wear sleeveless t-shirts. In fact wear a fucking vest. Eat naked. I don’t care. ”

manfrom04

“Aan huh”he nodded, swallowing her hateful words and the left over yellow rice in his mouth, “I am listening. Go on …”

“Good! Because you usually don’t.” she said. “But now that you are, can you tell me what is that chunk of rice doing on your left hand?” Continue reading

Goodbye and all that “stuff”

I am shoving her suitcase in the car trunk and then shoving it further down between her other bags, is when she says, “what are you doing? Be gentle! This one’s fragile.”

“Yeah?” I say, “Unfortunately I am not your cabin crew … and put a fucking sticker on this thing. Make it bold.”

“I have put a sticker on it. And it is bold. Look,” she points.

“Well then make it more bolder. I can barely see it,” I say.

“There is no such thing as, “more bolder””, she corrects me.

“Well, there is now,” I say, “And sorry, I am not born or brought up or moving to America, unlike some other people. For me, more bolder means, more bolder, you get it? Something I can see or read from 20 mtrs away … And oh! Boulder also means something I want people to get smeared by, when they annoy me.”

“I am sure, you can read this from far. If only you want to,” she says.

“Nope! I can’t. I can’t read or write things. I am stupid. Okay?”

She breathes deeply. Looks away and looks back at me.

“Really? Right Now? God! You are such a jerk” she says, not loud enough for me to hear it but loud enough to grab my attention.

“I heard that!”

“Good. Coz I wanted you to!” She yells, walking towards the house and slams the door behind her.

all-that-stuff

I stand there, staring at the open car door and appreciating a pigeon fidgeting with a dark spot on the windshield. His feathers are messed up. He is probably hungry too, but look at him; he is so calm and beautiful, he is not shouting at me, plus he is not even flying to a different country by himself. Even though he could – free of cost. This pigeon is a star!

Why can’t she be like this? Why does she have to either be an ugly monk or a raging bitchface?  Why there is no in between?

And a voice from within, that I am way too familiar with, shoots up to my head and whispers, “stop it! You know it’s you. It’s always you. She’s more of a gentleman than you are. She has the calmness of a bomb squad, you on the other hand, look like you are always in a moshpit of a metal concert, elbowing the person behind you. Screaming, “Hell yeahhh!!!”, or whatever the fuck they yell in moshpits.”

And while I am having a moment with myself, she comes back with some more stuff. She has more luggage labeled as “stuff” than what should be called as “stuff”. And all her “stuff” come with her other “stuff”. Because she buys “stuff” and doesn’t throw them away. Then she buys more stuff to match the “stuff” that she has bought before. So there are twice as many and as much “stuff” with her than there should have been in the first place.

She stands and looks at me for help.

“What?” I shrug.

“What what?” Help me with these, she says, pointing at her “stuff”.

So then, I stuff all her “stuff” with all her other “stuff” in the car. Fuck it! It’s all stuffed now.

“Happy?” I bang shut the door. She frowns.

And we drive away to the airport. She is checking her phone and I am honking at every next person; scooters, bikers, fucking autorickshaws, vegetable vendors. All of them. The Madmax in me is looking to ram this car somewhere. Take it to a desert and destroy it, put it on fire. Cut through a bridge railing and drown it in the sea. Call it a day and die somewhere. I am done.

But since I can’t do all that, I play the FM at a deafening level. She doesn’t say much, gives me the look and turns the volume knob down. So I give her the look now and I turn it back up. She turns it back down. I turn it back up. She turns it back down.

I take a pause. My hands are reaching to turn it back up, but I am also a little scared …

“Staaaaaaaphhhhh it!” She yells.

The rebel in me still wants to turn it up, but what’s the point, really? I don’t like that kind of noise either. It would annoy me more than it would annoy her. So I let it be. But in my head, I haven’t lost this to her. I have lost this to myself. Which is fine, I don’t mind losing to myself.

And then I drive ZIG-ZAG, don’t slow down at speed breakers, break signals, honk occasionally at no one, and also sudden unexpected breaks are my new favorites at this moment.

Next, I switch off the AC at a signal.

“What’s that for?” She says.

“Saving petrol.”

“Fine!” She says. Wipes sweat off of her forehead. I check my face in the mirror. My cheeks and ears are burning with the heat and the frustration that I have brought upon myself.

I peek outside the window like a dog. Bark at the traffic. Honk harder. Abuse pedestrians in local language, that I can barely speak.

You see, I don’t usually do these things. I am not “that” guy. But today I have turned into one and at this point, I am also afraid, that if someone abuses me back in the same language, I wouldn’t have a comeback. I would lose the fight and probably get beaten up. Yelling at random no-ones is never a smart thing to do anyway. You don’t know which sidewalk the next Jeffrey Dahmer is walking on.

She sits through all this. Unbuzzed. Fiddles with her phone. Breathes heavily. Stares at me occasionally- with love, anger and pity.  I don’t look back. She knows me and knows how I behave in the moments when I don’t know how to behave.

Now we are at the parking lot of the airport, I put her luggage in the cart, roll it up the escalator and turn left at the end of it. She turns right.

“Hello? Where are you going? It’s this way.” I say, pointing at the signboard.

“How do you know how to read a bold signboard, when you don’t know how to read or write bold things? It’s such a paradox.” She giggles.

“Well. Ha Ha” I mock her.

At the entrance, where we stand, her passport is in her left hand with ticket printouts sticking out of it.

“18 months,” she says, sliding her phone in the back-pocket of her jeans.

“18 fucking months, that’s fucking long. Okay? ”I say.

“I know. I know. I know. But don’t put it like that and it will be over before you know. Also we will Skype. Daily. I promise. Okay?”

“Yeah, well that never goes well.” I say, “People die. Haven’t you seen that movie … what’s it called? Befriended or Unfriended … or something like that?”

“Shush … it’s not important and listen it will be fine … trust me. This is not a movie. Although at this point it almost seems like one. But it isn’t.  And please don’t make it a sad goodbye.” She stands on her toes and kisses me on my cheek.

“Alright! If you insist.”

“Yes. I do.” She says. “Now smile.” She hugs me. I hug her back, but not like how I usually hug her. “This hug is as cold as her intentions right now.” I tell myself.

“Yeah whatever.” I say, and push her to the entrance, “you are late.”

And she waves back at me and disappears in the mob.

“She is never coming back,” I tell myself. “And if she ever does. She will never be the same. I know this. I have seen enough movies to claim that I exactly know how this will end.”,  I keep talking to myself holding a teardrop or two as I walk my way back to the car.

When I open the car-door, a kitty cat from nowhere appears and hugs my leg. So I pick it up and drive him home. Feed him milk or something.

“The animal has found me in these dark times to keep me company” I tell myself, “because, I guess, animals know these things?”

Pretty Fucking Please?

“Did you do something with your hair? It looks like you kinda did … you did right? It used to be all, I don’t know, wavy, somewhat curly. Right? It looks like it is more straight now … and wait … is it correct to say more straight or is it supposed to be straighter? And straighter? Is that how you say it? Straighter? Is that even a word? I don’t know. Anyway … how … how have you been?”

So that was a no-brainer, I was over-compensating for the damage by doing the awkward talk and she said, “Really? You called me all the way here to talk about my hairdo?”

I sagged in the chair. On my way to the coffee shop, I had already had an entire, fuck this, fuck that, fuck you conversation with myself, but as soon as I saw her, I, by the very own default nature of mine, wanted to be nice; give her a hug, ruffle her hair, tell her she is beautiful and all that. Basically, my feeling was: hello? Can we end this already? It is too much for me to handle, plus, I kinda, sorta, miss you.

bad-date-girl-disgusted-with-boy

And after the long pause and more awkwardness, she decided to flinch her eyebrows, which I thought was an inappropriate reflex and also somewhat late in arrival. And then she removed her glasses, placed it on the table and said, “So when was the last time you’d actually noticed my hair?” Continue reading

Palash ji, let me explain …

At first I thought he was joking, but no, this man was dead serious and I could tell that soon, by the way his hands moved; persuasively, making signs in the air, pointing at stuff around, like he was the boss—a smart fucking Aleck, wrapped in polka dots. His statements were quotes, his words were jargons (well most of them), his gestures were unduly animated, and his one sided emotional blabber was fairly convincing for the man who sat next to him.

“Palash ji”, he said. “I had a very terrible childhood. I was very young, say, twelve or thirteen, when my mother passed away.”

coffee

That was, I kid you not, his opening line. I was at Starbucks, a table away from this man, and of course, Palash ji—the pumpkin of a man, who was wearing thick rimmed glasses over his frog eyes. He also had a pink baby face and wavy coconut hair, and if you made an effort to look closely, you could have seen the deposited clutters of dry heena on the scalp, lurking on the edge of the patchy hairlines. Continue reading

Of Drugs and Cookies and Shallow Conversations

Pacing in the hallway, part thirsty and part zombie like, listening to some dopey numbers, and eating muggy crisps; that I otherwise wouldn’t; I realized, I was angry.  And constipated. If I had a functional mind, there was something on it.

The scalp itched when I thought and I thought a lot. Some thoughts, had no tops or  bottoms, they were just nothing or if they were something, I couldn’t make sense of them, like pieces of multi colored eight by eight rubix cube puzzles, mocking my acuity to put them together and draw valid conclusions out of them.litlatte._cookies

I looked at my hand. My fingers had painful and reeking cracks and my nails … my nails, were black and lifeless and long, like a fake Halloween witch art. There was no electricity. The bills were unpaid and my utensils and the hall mirror and the window pane and the whole house was a fucking shithole. Continue reading