Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Fist-sized Fool

This heart of ours. Made of muscle and tissue and looks every bit the bloody mess it is put through. Lubdubbing through the thick and thin. For better or worse. In sickness and in health. Overused, name taken much in vain. This poor heart of ours. Broken, bent out of shape and grossly unappreciated. So strong in its weakness. So ridiculous in its strength. So foolish in its wants. This organ that’s supposed to be the physical counterpart of the conveniently anatomically-absent soul. That wispy, double-crossing soldier of fortune, leading the naive heart into hare-brained schemes and abandoning it completely to face the physical consequences. The wicked leading the blind. “Oh, why not? You love jalebis! The doctor can go to hell?” “It’s okay to go back to him. Will he hurt you again? Like he’s done every single time before? Well, we’ll never find out if you don’t go back, will we?” “You have big dreams. Now grow a pair and freefall into the arms of chance!” This poor heart of ours, always at odds with common sense. Often living in completely estrangement with the brain. Living, eating, sleeping, shedding hair and other unmentionables in the same house; but never talking to each other, never sharing the same room except at dinner, always ignoring the other. A couple that stays together for the kids. 
The soul like a luring mistress - the third party. The heart - the foolish one, the silly one, the relentless one. Always believing. Always breaking. Always needing to be bailed out, rescued from the deep end, carried home from bars well after closing time by the brain. Throwing up ignominiously, face stained with running snot and mascara, into the toilet bowl while brain holds her hair. Thin-lipped, cold-eyed, not-saying-much brain.   
It’s all very well to put one’s heart through the rough rigours of emotions. It’s all very well with the metaphoric heart-attacks and heart-aches and broken hearts. It’s all great in a manner of speaking and even grieving. But what of the biological pieces - the valves, the arteries, the chambers, the vena cavae - do they understand the emotional task they’re set up against? Is the pericardium aware of all the emotional shit that it might have to protect the heart from? The serous fluid, is it conscious of the challenges and implications of the term “external jerk or shock” in its entirety? Are they prepared? Do they realise? The countless times they will have to pump lifeblood into a will that’s given up on living? This function that marks the beginning and end of life. What if they took all that heart-rhetoric to heart and believed it? “Manager, this heart is broken. We refuse to keep working on something that’s broken!” This oxygen-distribution plant - would it have a workers strike situation, if they only knew how overworked they were? How much more they had to perform than what was mentioned in their job descriptions. Would they expect a pay-raise? Would they expect more hands on board? Would there be efficiency inspectors? Would there be talks of layoffs? There is no scope for firing the current line-up in favour of more sturdy workers. One just has to work with what one’s given.

Friday, October 24, 2014


I held nani's hand as her soul slowly withdrew away. Away from her. Away from us. Leaving me holding desperately onto shell of wrinkled skin, grey hair and grandmotherly softness. Did I feel her life slip away? Did I feel the blood freeze in its tracks or that last heart beat that would never complete its neat, predictable rhythm? I'm not sure. All I know is that a thud of celebration and green sparkles in the sky marked the realisation that my nani has left for good. A less-macabre thunderclap; a garish flash of colourful lightning. She’d literally gone out with a bang. While we mourned her loss, the world celebrated with blasts of cracker that echoed one another and ephemeral, neon-hued stars. Every bang, giving sonic form to the end of a certain world for us. Of stories, of family traditions, of soft, starch-scented sarees, of painstakingly fried savouries, of indulgent love. A festive gun salute to the valiant force of nature my nani was. Maybe in retrospect, we might see the poetry in the situation. To have been the eye of mourning in this storm of festive frenzies. But right now, it's just awfully lonely.

**Written for my friend Roop, who lost her grandmother while the rest of the world celebrated Diwali. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

last laugh

The fuss died down. It would. It must. It was the principle that this world moved in. Nothing was forever. Everything must die. Even fusses born out of events that were blown out of proportion. People eventually got bored. The interest waned. Until it became a shriveled, muted version of its booming, turgid former self. The projector flickered and the shadows that once towered and danced on the walls, deflated like black balloons. The last ripple had smoothed in a calming sea, a sea that claimed much. A sea that stirred and waltzed with many a personal storm. But no storms today. Just a dying sea.
Then it came. Loud and clear. A gunshot in a prairie afternoon. A crack of thunder and a sudden whiplash of lightning. A chuckle. No one was supposed to laugh now. The joke was over. Every one nursed spent lungs and hoarse throats. Who had breath to spare? The chuckle grew. A sapling that quickly grew a wider stump, branches that reached out to the sky, leaves popped verdant with a vengeance, flowers bloomed ripe and suggestive of deep secrets. It grew strong. It claimed a life of its own. The chuckle took on the form of a peal of laughter. Echoing through the valley of amazed silences. It was her. The one that was supposed to be the joke. The supposed fallen angel. Where was the penance? Where was the repentance? There was nothing, but this report of apologetic insolence. The last laugh. That amazing twister of roles. That outright ridicule of everything that reduced it to a joke.