Creation

It’s been a while since I wrote. So far, I hadn’t thought about it. But when I found myself at the centre of a universe of books – the sort of stuff my dreams are made of – I felt a twinge of regret. Where had my urgency to write gone? Was my writing only fuelled by excessive emotion, a hot outpouring of rage, my heartbeat that refused to slow down until I had feverishly scribbled feelings I never even knew I possessed?

Other things have been claiming my time though. A one hour metro ride, for one, where I try my best to flip pages without finding my face slamming into the armpit of the person next to me, who is simultaneously holding his bag between his legs and glaring at me. Then there’s the hours at the office, which pass faster than office hours are supposed to. And then, there’s my new passion – cooking.

I’ve always known to cook. In a spacious kitchen shaded by mango trees, I’ve watched my mother gently rub an electric red paste into gleaming, silver fish. I began with washing her dishes. Slowly, from cookies that left soft sugary powder on your fingertips to chicken drowned in gravy thickened with silky coconut milk, I grew to love my time amidst the granite tabletops and sober grey tiles, with my mother’s expert fingers ever ready to fix any mistake.

It’s been a year since I’ve moved to a flat. A kitchen that fills when the three of us occupy it, my roommates and I divided cooking into three neat columns – breakfast, lunch and dinner – spanning from week to week. Sometimes, I lost the happiness I felt at home, when cooking was an indulgence, not a necessity.

Now, with my two months of staying alone coming to an end, cooking once again relaxes me. Coming back from work, strangely exhausted, I peel and slice. My hands are swift and purposeful. In the kitchen, I realize more than ever that I am becoming like my mother. It isn’t a realization that frightens me.

The oil here is a sunshine yellow, not the amber of the coconut oil Amma uses. It feels less heavy, like the teaspoon of coffee Amma used to mix with my milk when I’d told her I was too old to drink plain milk anymore. I feel strangely cheated. However, the onions quench their stinging nature in the sunshine yellow oil, seething in delight they lap up the burning liquid.

The onions are soft now. They’d taste sweet, if I took them out now. I put in the crushed garlic and ginger. The overwhelming aroma of the garlic eager to burn and stick on the pan’s surface never fails to bring a smile to my face. I inhale deeply, the smell filling my stomach more than my nose. The scent changes every few seconds, the onions are rimmed in gold, the garlic and ginger have slipped their way through every corner.

The sliced tomatoes that fall into the pan now aren’t the fiery red I’d like them to be, but the flaming green of the chopped chillis contrast with the paleness of the onion. I stir as the tomatoes shudder as they release the water in them and lose their colour. The salt goes in, and the flaming chilli powder rushes its hue throughout the pan. The paneer, white and soft, slices easily under my knife. It’s delicacy protests the spicy red gravy it’s going to be soaked in. I watch as the paneer rapidly absorbs the gravy, the surrender complete as the white leaps into shades of yellow and a sombre orange.

My mouth waters as the tip of my tongue tastes the gravy, and then swiftly licks the spoon, burning it in the process, as usual. My hands have already been marked with burgundy souvenirs from previous culinary expeditions, which unhurriedly fade into beige.

The spiciness is tempting, and for a moment I re-consider the final step. But finally, I pour in the fresh cream, and its thick, creamy whiteness gently invites the scorching red to gentler shades.

Am I not the author of this? This fills my heart too, in a very similar way to what writing does. But it leaves me full, contented, sober. Masochist that I am, I want what leaves me exhausted, panting, restless. And so, I pick up my pen again. I don’t know how quickly I’ll place it down, shuddering, but for now, I pick it up.

Waiting

One day, I hope not to wait

Watching as you erase  me

In new faces, places and stations.

I do not want to always hear

Your hurried goodbyes, two and a half minute

Long conversations about how busy you are,

While your friends laugh in the background.

.

I do not want to watch my days go away

As I watch my phone to make it ring,

My decision to be cold and not pick up

Evaporating the moment I hear your hey.

.

One day I hope to be you

Letting places and people push me around

Then I will not have to try

To make you a memory, it would be too easy

To forget you in the time I am busy.

 

 

The Lovely Lady in Grey

Writing201: Poetry

Day#6 Prompt: Hero/Heroine, Form: Ballad, Device: Anaphora, epistrophe

.

The children loved to wait in the way

Where walked the lovely lady in grey

Their lives were mostly sad blues

The lady’s smile gave it a brilliant hue.

.

The children were poor, you see

Their clothes were torn and dirty.

But when walked the lovely lady in grey

They felt the beam of the brightest part of the day.

.

The children in wait every morning lay

For there walked the lovely lady in grey

She brought food, she lingered a while

They loved it best when she would smile.

.

The children led rough lives in mean streets

And slept cold beneath tattered sheets

So when here walked the lady in grey

Her smile was like a pretty bouquet.

.

One day the lovely lady in grey looked in the mirror

And decided life wasn’t worth living with all the horror

Her death mattered to few, no flowers on her grave except

The wayside flowers picked by the children who wept

For the lovely lady in grey.

If I Lay Here

Response to Writing101 Prompt: Write about the three most important songs in your life — what do they mean to you?

I wouldn’t call it my favourite song, but Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol is one song which I have listened to over and over again and still haven’t gotten sick of. Sometimes, the meaning of the lyrics change. Sometimes, I realize that each line has many more layers to it than what is just on the surface. It’s a beautiful song, mostly because of the meaning its lyrics hold which transcends to the music. But my favourite lines are these:

If I lay here

If I just lay here,

Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

People come and go in life. There are people with whom you have so much of fun that every moment you spend with them is soaked in stomach aching laughter. There are people who irritate you so much that their mere presence clouds your face. There are people you call friends when you’re in the same place, but whom you forget once you move away; and when you finally realize you’ve forgotten, you know they didn’t matter anyway. There are people you think would be by your side till the end of your life, the people you imagine you’d die for, but who slowly fade away as you try desperately to hold on through awkward phone conversations and one-line texts. There are people who make you wonder why you put up with them, yet to whom you stick to, maybe merely as a force of habit. There are people who make your heart beat so loud you’re almost positive they heard it when they smiled at you. There are people of whom you’re so insanely jealous that you already hate them before they’ve said a word. People come and go in life. It’s difficult to accept this, but it is inevitable.

But the ones that stay, the ones who even after they’ve gone, have such a grip on your memory that you’re overwhelmed when you think about them, the ones you know have unmistakeably, irrevocably changed your life are the ones who’ve passed the Chasing Cars test. It’s the person who lies with you, amidst the rush and the noise, amid the people and the pain, and forget the world with you. And you remember them mostly, for that time you forgot the world together.

The Day My Friend Cried

Writing 101: Unlock the Mind

This post is written in context of the flood that is ravaging Jammu and Kashmir, India currently. This is a personal account of a friend’s grief. If you can contribute towards the cause, please do.

I saw her cry for the first time. The person whom I thought was the strongest in the world. The person who goes through more in a year than what I have gone through throughout my life. She cried in my arms. As her sobs travelled up her body, I felt so inadequate trying to contain her sorrow in my arms. But I couldn’t let go.

Her parents hadn’t called her in five days. She didn’t know where her sister was, or half of her relatives. Were they alive and stuck? Had they been rescued by the army? Or, was it…too late? She didn’t know. Being away from it all made it harder. It was her land that was drowning, her people that were isolated. And all she could do was cry in my inadequate arms, trying to contain the sorrow within her. There was nothing she could do. Helplessness is the most painful emotion. It compounds grief and kills fleeting moments of relief. She was helpless because she was away. She was alone because she wasn’t there.

She scans the news every day. When I sit next to her in class, I see her refresh her screen every now and then. Her eyes are constantly drawn towards the unresponsive phone, as if staring at it would make it ring. For the first time, I see that the allure of Literature has failed to seduce her. As our teacher talks about Eliot’s existentialism and Hemingway’s sparse writing style, her mind roams, refusing to be captivated by words which she’d hung on to eagerly, earlier.

I do not know how to comfort her. I hug her as tightly as I can, trying to contain the sorrow, letting her know that she’s not alone. But when she looks at me and says, “What will I go back to? Everything will have changed. When the hard earth which I can feel on my palm begins to slip away from my grasp, what is home anymore?”

I cannot answer her.

The Blue Bird Flies

NaPoWriMo Day#5: Write a “golden shovel.” This form was invented by Terrance Hayes in his poem, The Golden Shovel. The last word of each line of Hayes’ poem is a word from Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem We Real Cool.

 

The poem I’ve chosen to shovel-ize is Langston Hughes’s beautiful Dreams:

Hold fast to dreams

For if dreams die

Life is a broken-winged bird

That cannot fly.

 

Hold fast to dreams

For when dreams go

Life is a barren field

Frozen with snow. 

 

The shovel-ized version:

I slip from your hold

Falling freely, falling fast

With nothing to hold on to

I fly with my dreams.

 

What was I holding back for?

If only I had fallen sooner, only if

I’d known how beautiful were my dreams

I wouldn’t have let them die

So silently, condemning myself to a life

Where I forgot what love is,

A life where exhaustion reigned, a

World were every day left me feeling broken-winged

Never realizing I was a blue bird

So tiny, so insignificant that

I often feel I cannot

Let go, never knowing I can fly.

 

I slip from your hold

Falling freely, falling fast

With nothing to hold on to

I fly with my dreams.

 

What was I holding back for?

If only I had fallen sooner, only if

I’d known how beautiful were my dreams

I wouldn’t have let them go

So easily, condemning myself to a life

Where I forgot what love is,

A life where exhaustion reigned, a

World where days were barren

Like a drought fed field,

An existence so frozen

That I’d forgotten that with

My song, I could make it snow. 

 

Tiny Pieces

Tiny Pieces

After everything,

I decided to say 

Goodbye to you.

 

It felt as if a great wind

Was blowing in the spaces

You occupied, but I didn’t rush

To fill them, letting tiny things

Accumulate, till I could feel 

Complete again.

 

I took the leap

I said goodbye,

Some days I wonder

How I would feel

If I was still that full.

 

But then I listen to the wind

Inside my emptiness,

Its force gentler now

As I’m being filled

By tiny pieces from everywhere

Occupying the spaces you left,

And I feel happy for

The emptiness within me.