Things like Green Peace

For me to practice vegetarianism,
You’re the collateral meat.
If I were to display literacy,
You’re my sheet.

The scaffolding to my shelter,
I fashion my homes out of you,

On the places you had yours.
For I never really took you seriously.

Maybe you could’ve been mobile,
With pangs or claws,
Too bad you’re turned up a standing duck,
Green and tall.

But then if you were,
You’d be tamed, petted or poached.
Just your consumption would’ve lost its holy sheen,
With your carcass oozing red and not green.

Like in the world of Tolkien, 
Maybe you must’ve learned to speak.
To intimidate and hit back,
Debate and converse.

Then I would’ve warred,
When words lost sanctity, peace lost patience.
For nothing covers the paucity of dignity,
Like destruction does, you see.
I do it all the time,
The right becoming the whim of the last man standing.

But then what else would I consume,
The condescended plant eater; 
The lesser evil of the two,
Air?
I know it is not fair,
But nothing ever that bent before Darwin’s delusion is.

 

 

 

The empty seat behind

The movie was to begin in a few moments. I was ensconced in a seat by the wall corner, all by myself, relishing the comforts of the recliner with my boneless under. No wonder wall corners are the most bidded parts in a theatre once the reservation opens, for if you’re someone who’s looking for an experience beyond the movie, then they’re the designated parts for salacious crimes or narcissistic indulgences.I was there for the latter. A loner by choice, left to myself to pick, I would any day pick a night by myself over hanging out with a bunch of friends. My alone times are special for they let me peep into myself for a start. Another reason is I get to walk the entire length of an experience till its last inch – be it great food, movie or a long drive – without having another person to partake in its pleasure. I wanted to be alone this Saturday and decided to go for a movie. The movie was quite engaging and I was liking it even more from the from the vantage of the theatre’s balcony. There are few things that come close to the escapist peace the experience of watching a good movie from a good place in a good theatre-  while gobbling along some sinful butter popcorn -brings with it. I was paying obeisance to the god of small things as I left my seat during the intermission. So far so good.

This particular theatre is notorious for its overstretched intermissions in which it tries to cramp in as many advertisements as possible, to an extent that the jingles from the ad films go on to subconsciously register in that  part of the head hitherto inhabited by three tables and alphabets. As I was returning to my seat with more things to make my waist thicker, my eyes befell a seat behind me that was unoccupied. Maybe it was taken and its rightful owner was stuck in the beeline before the food counter. The movie had started. A song came few minutes into the second half, that was enough for me to check my phone and the seat behind to see if it was occupied. It wasn’t.

And just like that, my well assimilated peace tumbled in a restless rubble as I sat there discontent. There I was in one of the best seats in the house, with an amazing view, fingers greased from the butter on the popcorn. Yet the empty seat behind was teasing my imagination. I was in B row and if I had learnt anything from a lifetime of systematic conditioning to grading system, A was greater than B. My seat had lost its charm, for it was B grade after all, despite being behind twenty rows before me. Like an unfaithful man nitpicking on his wife’s cooking to validate his infidelity, I was starting to notice things about my seat that were not right- like how I had excess leg space and the hairy hands of the old man next to me were touching mine. By now, I was too distracted to watch the movie and started picking on it. I was having issues with the facial hair of the hero, couldn’t he buy a trimmer when he could go on to buy an Enfield, despite the entire village being under 5 km radius.

I was facing Hamlet’s conundrum albeit under different different circumstances, “To be or not to be.”

I was positively itching to go. I knew I had to go past the seven gentlemen in my row, while almost smudging their faces with my bottom. God, these wall corner seats are such a pain in the ass! From love to hate, my love affair with wall corners had come a whole circle .
I was sugarcoating my shallow pursuit as an antidote to restore my equilibrium, that had gone down the drain long before. Lord of the rings started making sense to me more than ever. I exactly knew what was running in Gollum‘s head over the centuries of separation from “his precious” and why he did the things he did to get to it. Wait! Why was I empathising with Gollum?Hmmm… a new low by my fairly low standards.

I dropped anchor and decided to watch the movie from where I was. It was really hard not to succumb to the lure, but I chose the comforts of my home to the mistress’s.
Like the eclipse lifting off the moon, my evening’s peace was restored as rapidly as it was taken. I became invested in the movie again, despite having missed a good twenty minutes. The hero’s extensive facial hair felt like a favour, for he would’ve looked quite pathetic without it. The movie got over and I rose from my seat to leave.

There’s a certain charm that accompanies things that we don’t have. It’s not innate necessarily, its just the elusiveness the mind craves to conquer than the eluding object itself.

As I was making my way out I turned to look at the empty seat that had almost managed to possess my soul.  We exchanged cold glances at each other for one last time. No doubt I had had the better of the empty seat this bout, but only by a whisker. Yet another empty seat awaits in another circumstance to tantalise. Let’s see how that one goes.

Down the memory lane

It was a damp night, mind you damp and not wet. Chennai’s weather of late has been blowing hot and cold; with almost hot afternoons packed in humid sweat and reluctant drizzles well shy of being holistic downpours in the nights. So it was one of those nights and I was coming from a night show, to find my bike seat gently kissed by several raindrops, that had deceived the sky’s vigil. One of the primary cons of riding a bike during such times is, you can’t wear your lighter trousers. One, the raindrops leave an impression, not a good one- a wet smudge on the sitting area. And two, even if you vigilantly wipe your way off the previous possibility to preserve tushy dignity, there’s no way you can go unscathed, as the several puddles and inconsiderate vehicles on the way would somehow come together to leave a graffiti on the trousers.
Anyways I was wearing a pair of black trousers that night and it held very little consequence to the other happening of the night, primarily about which this piece is .This one’s about the route I took on my way back and the the trip it took me down the memory lane.

While coming back from the theatre, there are two routes to my place. One that goes through a residential  area and the other one that comes a little ahead, connecting me to the main road.  Over the last few years I’ve consciously and later subconsciously been ignoring the former stretch to take the latter. Initially, it felt like a can filled with worms, waiting to be opened up. Worms waiting to feed on my peace of mind. Then with efflux of time, I had grown oblivious and numb to this stretch’s magnetic negativity. It had come to only be a detour and the route that led to the main road had become an obvious choice.
But today was different, I was itching to take the former route. Not to confront the can of worms, but to take stock of my quality of peace. Curiosity had the better of me and there I was in the stretch I had forbidden as a sort of reality check. This trip was straddling between literal and figurative, for so much in my life had transpired in this L shaped stretch, the gravitas of which was getting to me as I was rumbling through it, metre by metre.

A few hundred metres into this road- painted in shadows of the trees behind -came this compound wall on the left. There was nothing fancy about it, just another neglected-marshy structure raised to mark the periphery of the house. But to me, it marked a new beginning. Back then it was always enveloped from the road by a fleet of school vans parked in front of it. It was our second date, I had just kissed her for the first time inside a deserted Mcrennett a little ahead on the corner of the road. She was pink with amusement and I was a cat, who had had a taste of meat for the first time. We soon left hand-in-hand to take a stroll, incidentally my first walk with someone from the fairer sex. She was a bundle of nerves, obviously given that her folks stayed not far away from there and she was walking with a person who had just earmarked her left cheek with his saliva. Fairly educated on each other’s favourites, we had run out of topics and were in a mood for something non-verbal. The secluded compound wall on the right, stood there with in anticipation and we got the cue. I lifted and perched her on it facing me, as I placed my hands on either side of her on the wall. Before we realised, I was kissing all over her face like a caveman, rocking back and forth like a push up in a near state of trance. Together we had debased base one here.

As I drove ahead, came the Mcrennett I had mentioned a little earlier on the corner of the road. Apart from being the unwilling witness and stage to our first sacrilege, it had seen a lot of us. It used to be a favourite spot for it didn’t pinch on my wallet hard and it served the best cheese puff known to humanity. We’ve spoken about movies, debated about choice of careers, stolen kisses when no one’s around and have even gone for each other’s necks when arguments turned futile.

We were sparrows constructing nests on unnoticed loft corners of houses with little information to its owners, raising our own little monuments in common places of others surreptitiously.

As I turned right came this place, a newly fitted majestic metal gate fitted in front precluding my vision beyond. Back then, there used be no gate. It was just a long driveway that winded in a nursery school at the dead end. We fondly called it “nursery”. Only both of us knew what nursery meant, when among a group of friends. So why were two grown-ups frequenting a nursery? This underlit place became uninhabited in the evening and the unregulated driveway that preceded the nursery, with tall trees on either side, became a tantalising prospect for long walks and the accoutrements that ensued.
Here, we became night creatures that made merry after sunset. Unlike the owls, we couldn’t see too well, but we didn’t complain. We could feel and listen to each other like  in no other place with heightened awareness- finding rhythm in our heartbeats, warmth in our touches, wetness in our lips and dexterity in the fingers to render clothes vestigial. This is where we caught up everytime before being away for a while and this is where we came together after being away. This was our ersatz room, before we got a real one.

A few second later came this stretch inundated by tall walls that belonged in fortresses, baring faces of the neighbourhood politician and not so subtle slogans in fluorescent font. I could see a younger me targeting the wall, as I discharged my bladder’s content in a blissful fountain. She was seated on the bike behind, embarrassed about my unconventional way of answering the nature’s call. As I got on the bike, proud and relieved, my comeuppance came as she twisted my ear till I twirled along with it in tandem.

I pulled over my bike to take a leak. I was all alone by myself, , with no one waiting behind to play mother as I sat to ride.

The L of the stretch was coming to an end as the subway in the end was becoming visible. She used to come out of this from the other side of the road, as I restlessly waited near it. I would check myself on the bike’s mirror a hundred times and would strike the best pose on , as she would pop out of the subway onto my bike in a hurry, to emby the harness. After dropping her back late in the evening, I would wait by it till she surfaced from the other side of the subway in one piece.Our days were in short bookbounded by this subway.

Over a decision, things that were very life itself had turned into distant memories I could only live vicariously. I  could revisit them, without craving to recreate. This stretch was like a black box that survived a crash. The drive was like going back to the place of accident after recovering- as a healed person – grateful about the second chance, stronger and peaceful. If I’ve learnt one thing over the years, it’s that there’s no such thing as good or bad in life as every experience culminates systematically in a memory. Good and bad are transitionary, a mere reflection of the state of the mind from the time of impact.

It felt like a place I was leaving place from, not one I was coming into.As I turned left to climb the flyover, I felt like Superman  emerging out of Krypton stronger than before. Life was one fear short.

 

 

Million faces of headless men

To dress a sheep a wolf, to find pack acceptance;
To be an outsider and remain unnoticed.
To be the tantalizing flower on a bee pursuit.
Sometimes the yin to the yang within;
The truth in a realm of bluff;
The mirage on the mirror.

Masks of a myriad stakes he adorns-   

Mask of indifference when intimidated;
Mask of patience to eke tolerance;
Mask of anger to earmark attention;
Mask of valor on a timid day;
Mask of resilience on the periphery of breakdown;
Mask of character on the query of strength.
Mask of love to flatter a beloved;
Mask of faith to sanctify disbelief;
Mask of concern to euphemize hurt;
Mask of diplomacy to find approval;
Mask of contentment when red with envy.


Is he its generic alter ego
Or it, his versatile one?
It is the oldest rhetoric there is,
Whether he wears the mask
Or it wears him?