Friday, November 18, 2011

Wishes for the MORTICIAN !

Even before destiny got them together the DREAMER had known the MORTICIAN; he had known her through the eyes of someone else. Someone else whom he had loved and she also had loved no less. To him she had then been that crazy psychotic creature who incessantly spoke of love and other sad dreams; smart and intelligent with a razor sharp memory; addicted to games of words and mind, wrote gothic poems, read tarot and her favourite colour, black. She was completely crazy; getting musical notes inked on her body hoping to find harmony. Horribly screwed up in life, frustrated, she threw tantrums on everyone around and he was warned and asked to keep safe distance. He knew he would be a real lucky dog if he could manage to be in her good books or else Gods save him. That’s the picture he had of her a year back and so he had all the reasons to avoid her.

But things changed as they propelled away from the shore and started their journey. Patching grief with proverbs two strangers started sailing, hoping to find a new shore somewhere.... Often you open the wardrobe thinking of something and then find something which you have never thought of, but you end up with a smile; and life indeed is beautiful with such little wonders. She is one such precious wonders in his life.

....He usually bakes a cake on all his friend’s birthdays. Last December he wanted to bake a cake for her as well. But he did not. They were not so close and he knew her through the lunatic that time. He was scared what will every one think. May be baking a cake and getting that for her would unnecessarily draw every one’s attention and evoke controversy; that’s what he thought and with the terror of being exposed and the fear of the lunatic altogether rejected the idea. He was scared, too scared and anxious to loose the lunatic at any cost. Later on when she had come home on Christmas, he had baked two cakes instead of one, somewhere in the subterranean of his heart he wanted to compensate. Compensate for not baking a cake for her on her birthday, compensate for everything and nothing that happened between them!

….A lot actually happened between them after that and how they both survived the precarious catch of the dream seller. For him, it was those wine sweet days of attention. The joy of being desired; the naughty fun of being watched and not letting oneself touched…. How he smiles with a smirk when he recollects those days now. He had called her up from the far away land to wish Good Night; when she told him about her new found love, the dream seller. A flurry of quandary flooded the high fortifications of fortitude, while the shapeless words got mute at his throat as they found way through his eyes and rolled down his cheek. The past was revisited and he was shrouded with memories that he should not have had. On the other side of the phone she could hear him panting for air standing on the balcony of the crummy hotel in the suburb; and soon he found himself giving her the biggest truth of his life. The truth, that he had been carefully hiding all his life. Strong as she always had been, hugged him with her words and promised to be there with him. They both did it, trapped the trap of the dream seller!

The guilt and the pain would not be gone, but they survived. They consoled each other saying the trap was a boon in disguise; and realized how more close they have become after the catastrophe. They survived, but the poison is still in their wounds and the wounds are open. The wounds are dormant but not extinct and they have still NOT learnt not to presume the permanence of any relationship!

….Raw and uncovered they both stand under the night sky and the blue moon watches them as they pacify each other every night. Now parked in the crater they talk about their flight across the moon in the past. The Heartless Casanova, the Thoughtless Spineless Lunatic, the Cruel Dream Seller, the Funny Little Hill Boy and the Mysterious Maya often twinkle in their nights. Two brunt neon night skies of the two far away cities…. The distance, the void between them is filled with songs; the notes float around in sepia undertones as they go back to the past again…. ”Dnariye aacho tumi amar gaaner opare!”
DREAMER – tui gaaner kon paarey?
MORTICIAN – ami gaaner majkhane!
DREAMER – shei bhalo, gaaner kono eipaar-opar nei. Shudhu aayinar oparer manush tai thake, aar kew thakena, kew kotha rakhena!
MORTICIAN – abar tui swopno dekhchish meenshey!
DREAMER – bol khelaghor bnadhchi! Swopno shottyi eishob niye naiba bhabli meye….
MORTICIAN – aachcha, tui Hemnolinir doley na Komolar doley?
DREAMER – tui bidhoba Binodinir doley na oi notun boutar doley, proshnota onekta oirokom holo na….
MORTICIAN – je jaar nijer jwalaye jwolchey rey!
DREAMER – jwoloner o onek moja, tui ki janbi rey mukhpuri!

Sometimes when she thought she didn't need to do it anymore, times when she thought she was done with it. She liked having the ability to inflict pain whenever she wanted, and she liked that she could stop it. Not that she really wanted to. She would ask herself if this was happiness, and told herself that if it was, she hated it. Cutting made her feel different than everyone else, but she also knew that other people did it for the same reasons, which made her feel that she was a part of something. Then there were times when the tears from her eyes burned a path down her cheek, and her throat was so tight she couldn't scream no matter how much she tried. Those times she would find relief only by cutting up her skin and bleeding out all the painful screams. The pain of living altogether flowed from one simple cut. She didn't care where she cut, arms, legs, stomach, or wrists. As long as she keeps cutting she can live to tomorrow.

Today while he reads her letter; thinks of writing to her, a gust of dilemma floods the high walls of determination, everything seems muddled to his stupid mind and all reason seems pointless. He feels like sharing with her all that he had left unsaid at the most tempting moment; that fistful of lesser significant nothings! How he suffered, how he cried, when he first read her letter and he thought this is the real punishment. How does one stop thinking of someone one used to love? How does one stop remembering? It is something they both got used to, it happens all the time.... Days passes empty like the days before. He has forgotten who he was, whom he loved and all other obligations and many a times knowingly unknowingly she rubs chillies on his wounds, but he never holds that against her; he knows she is doing that to herself and not to him. She is miserably trying to build a wall of defence to protect the faint heart and trying hard to make him see reason. Though sense hardly makes sense at such situations; he has learnt he could not be simple; he has no business to be simple and live in this world and know nothing about its cruel ways.

...and it rained during the busiest time of the day in the crazy city. DREAMER and his letter, she never thought life comes in small pockets of emotions!
She looks for that stupid boy from “Aarshi-Nagar“ insanely when she cries. Now, that Aarshi is broken...the Nagar is filled with void and the ruthless girl keeps on walking in the debris to find the little remaining pieces of them, together. The stars, the hatred, the pain, the anger - everything makes her a motley of a cold blanket. At night when she unmasks herself, she sits alone with a Marley Joint and wonders where the lost DREAMER is, whom she once hated so much. She has forgotten what love is all about! She doesn't feel the feeling. She looks for Dreamer in every face that she meets, post work when she crosses the street she looks for him perpetually and every time she fails. There's no one to hold her hands while crossing the road. She gets scared even now while crossing those busy routes. She doesn't have him by her side; the thought makes her feel miserable. No, he doesn't make her cry, he makes her feel angry, ANGER - that's the only thing she has. She doesn’t go to the coffee shop - the by lanes and dark corners bring him back to her though she knows he is NOT there anymore.

MAYA calls her and asks her to take care of herself. Though the she knows even MAYA doesn't know what 'taking care' means. The closet, the warmth in the call, the feeling of belonging, the wait - another blanket of fondness that MAYA gives; she takes all of it with deep breath and happy heart though she knows, she's alone - just like the way they are!

She takes the last puff from the joint, wipes her tears and smiles. As the dreamer once said, "Rest everything is fine. Just Fine!"

Her words still hover on his head and he wonders what is it that made a MORTICIAN out of a LOVER. May be Love indeed is too young to know what conscience is....

The past one long year had been a witness to a thousand oscillations…. And it’s the MORTICIAN’s birthday again. Opps! The LOVER’S birth day again! He wishes he could be there with her, with the little girl who would find it difficult to cross the road while coming home after getting drunk on her birthday!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Rest everything is fine, it’s just fine!

This place is politically very sensitive because of Tribal Militants. They kill people, burn trains and rape women. Children here play with AK47-doppelganger toys and innocence is nowhere to be found. People here live with suspicion and fear; the fear of death. Some say they are fighting for truth, fighting for their birth right. Some call them Terrorists. I don’t understand what exactly is going on in here; neither do I want to. The community of weavers I work with belong to the same tribe in question. The love and warmth they have showered me with, the way they have taken care of me while on my field-work, the way they have helped me whenever needed, I am deeply touched. I have put up in the District’s Circuit House. Every night when I return after work, I thank god because I came back safe.

Many a times I feel like asking Maya and Mortician to come down for a short trip, but then I stop myself, thinking why should I risk their lives just because I miss them. Old life recedes further and further away and I console myself saying that they are just a few digits away. Though I call Mortician frequently I never call Maya. Strange thoughts plague me and I feel that the gulf between me and Maya would never be bridged; what if Maya does not pick up the call, what if Maya does all that the lunatic left me to suffer with.... I often feel like spreading out all my anguish at Maya’s feet, I often feel like giving all my secrets to Maya, but then I step back. No Maya, why should I burden you with my heartaches when you have enough of your own? Also what if Maya turns out to be like one of them! It’s not that I don’t trust Maya; I can’t trust anyone for that matter. Thanks to the lunatic, that word is lost in my dictionary.... and I like a fool had lain awake nights wondering why.... Sometimes I would wish that.... but what do I wish? Reconciliation and humiliation? All these thoughts keep splitting me in two equally unacceptable pieces.

Maya came down to Calcutta to meet me before I left the city. I was happy, incredulously happy, as happy as happiness could be, but I could not properly ever tell that to Maya. Back at home I used to wait for the weekends for Maya to come down but now in this exile, I don’t even have that luxury of pleasing myself by waiting for the weekends. Four months seem ever so long. I don’t know exactly what is it that’s disquieting me so much; I don’t know what I am so scared of. I know for sure I am not scared of Maya; maybe it’s my own self I am so scared of. All I know is that I wait for Maya and I don’t know why. I know I wait for Maya like I never have waited for anyone. My soul revolts and torment increases with each passing day. It is helpless, crying is no good, it is the faith I live by; the thoughts imprinted on my mind, my heart and my soul so strongly that I live in a shadowy insubstantial land.... and life goes on with everything else a little faded at the back of my mind.

There are police check posts at every turning of the roads. On our way to work, they stop our cab and check our papers every day. This morning while clicking photographs in the village bazar an old tea shop lady started hissing at us with her face puckered with distress; “Amar chele taake toh liye gelo rey ! Amar ghor ta jwaliye dilo rey! Akhon abar salara chobi nitey eshechey ken rey! (“They killed my son! They brunt my home! For what joy do the assholes now want to click photographs?“) Seeing her rage I was shocked and surprised at the same time. My whole body tightened with tension. She wasn’t ready to listen to us; neither did she wait for us to explain to her what actually we were there for. I have never faced such circumstances before. For some strange and unknown reason I felt guilty and ashamed, I felt as if I could not live with myself. I did not have any word to console her neither did I know how to react when all the eyes in the bazar got glued to us as a result of her screaming. I felt brutally helpless standing there in the market like a callous and facing the red eyes of those people there; I felt out of place, an out caste amongst all these people. I again thought of Maya who came down to meet me and I told myself that I should be satisfied with that. Despite the heaviness in my heart, I somehow hurried to drag myself towards the cab, and soon while it started for the next village, I fixed my gaze on the moving world beyond the window. The scenery blurred as my eyes grew hot and started to prickle. The desolate woman’s screams are still echoing in my ears and hammering on my head, even while I am typing out this letter.

While returning from work the roads ran cutting through fields of fire flies; as if a hundred thousand stars were strewn about on my way. Nature is always a wonderful resort when one is disturbed, it always offers harmony. Absolute bliss! Beautiful! The vast open evening sky allowed me all the room for shying hopes, suppressed fears and speculations of the unacknowledged.... the beauty in the surroundings added to the pain and I ached with that nothingness gnawing inside me. I wanted Maya and Mortician to be there with me. I miss them the most when I am happy; I feel as if life is so meaningless if not shared with them.... but I guess the luxury of living, how and where one wants, is not for me anymore.

Later, this evening, after coming back from the remote village we gathered that a shopkeeper has been shot dead in the town-market. The shops were shut on the way and very few people were seen on the roads. The front gate was shut and we entered our den through the back door.... once again I thanked God.

Scary stories of how outsiders had been often abducted in this territory are all known. I was never so scared of death.... recently I have realised that I am scared of death now. I want to live, I want to live again and I want to love again.... I want to love as if I have never been hurt. I get drunk and spoilt in the evenings all alone in the Circuit House and dream. Dreams that I have never dreamt before.... Mortician thinks it’s perilous. She warns me, gets upset, throws tantrums at times and calls me “silly’, calls me a “fool” and we talk ceaselessly about the layers of love, life and lunacy....

The endless soliloquies continue....

Some things come with their own punishments and do not change though life seems to have taken a new turn after I shifted from Calcutta. I know nobody here in this new town, nor does anyone know me. This is the life I had so asked for; a brand NEW life, where solitude would be tranquillity. No old ties! No old questions to be answered, no old acquaintances to be faced, no old songs to be sung! During my College days I had stayed alone, away from my place and had managed fairly well; I enjoyed the freedom, the independence. But this time being away from my city, away from my home, away from my household activities, away from my daily drama is not the same like before. Though this is the life I had been praying for till I managed to bag this Project, now the feeling is a little odd because how much ever I pretend to cope up, or try and actually understand, every moment I keep meeting the same wretched me of my past, and fail to cope up. I realize there is no escape. The joy in freedom is lost; the independence wreck less and dangerous. I am scared the newness of the new life is again tainted with the old wounds stifling me!

Lot of things though have changed; new faces around, new places, new roads, new rivers but often I am reminded of the Ganga while I walk along the banks of Gourang. Life here moves at a slow pace; we go to remote villages every day for work and I see how different their ways are from ours. These people in the villages are so poles apart from us, yet they are so like us, so known and so close. I talk to them, talk for hours. Try understanding them; delve deep into their lives, slowly and gradually, like peeling an old lover’s clothes. We talk about life, nature, society, poverty, miseries, happiness, fears and also about thousand other things; and with such natters the meaning of life seems perfectly simple. The respect, love and affection they show us are unadulterated.

Nature here is bountifully painted on the canvas of the mother planet; some of these villages we go for work are flanked by the Bhutan hills, blue and misty. But I don’t see the hills, I don’t look at the sky, the clouds don’t touch me; I want to come back and see them with Maya and Mortician. I walk down the hills hoping to see them waiting for me down the valley with their arms stretched apart. I wonder how long is too long while I wait for their much awaited arrival which never happens. At every turning of the road I wait for a miracle, I hope to see the faces I long for. The darkness under the saal trees, the bits and pieces of winter sky through the canopy of branches and the gusts of cold wind rustling the leaves make me wonder how cold must have been the winters there this time. The corner couch at the coffee shop would still be warmed up, Black Coffee with sugar-free in a take away pack would still be Black Coffee, would have the same rich aroma and Maya would call it the bitter sweet symphony…. Few lesser significance of life! And now I long for them even more. Back home I had so long waited to run away from the city, and now I wait for my city here; all I know is to wait…. the wait, again! I see kids in the villages, they run after our car in the evening on the dusty roads with the setting sun on the horizon in the backdrop.... and in all their faces I look for Maya and Mortician.

Rest everything is fine, it’s just fine!

Kokrajhar (17.10.2011)