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Among the first we learn is good-bye,
your tiny wrist between Dad’s forefinger
and thumb forced to wave bye-bye to Mom,
whose hand sails brightly behind a windshield.
Then it’s done to make us follow:
in a crowded mall, a woman waves, “Bye,
we’re leaving,” and her son stands firm
sobbing, until at last he runs after her,
among shoppers drifting like sharks
who must drag their great hulks
underwater, even in sleep, or drown.

Living, we cover vast territories;
imagine your life drawn on a map–
a scribble on the town where you grew up,
each bus trip traced between school
and home, or a clean line across the sea
to a place you flew once. Think of the time
and things we accumulate, all the while growing
more conscious of losing and leaving. Aging,
our bodies collect wrinkles and scars
for each place the world would not give
under our weight. Our thoughts get laced
with strange aches, sweet as the final chord
that hangs in a guitar’s blond torso.

 

Think how a particular ridge of hills
from a summer of your childhood grows
in significance, or one hour of light–
late afternoon, say, when thick sun flings
the shadow of Virginia creeper vines
across the wall of a tiny, white room
where a girl makes love for the first time.
Its leaves tremble like small hands
against the screen while she weeps
in the arms of her bewildered lover.
She’s too young to see that as we gather
losses, we may also grow in love;
as in passion, the body shudders
and clutches what it must release.
 

………I was struggling to construct my thoughts, especially, about “people we meet during our rigmarolic existence…we clad in some colourful fabrics that suit the tone of our skins, that breathe light on our skins, that enhance various cubicles of our cylindrical frames, walk or drive across to a certain destination where we park ourselves for a few hours to implement a string of grey cells that we are blessed with, a  journey during which we stumble upon a few! we decide who to beam a smile at, whose footsteps to follow ardently for a few blocks, who to share a body of words with, whose eyes we stare deeply into for the briefest second and smirk at the “kippered and barbecued” status across,  who to fall in love with, whose fragrance to steal, who to think about while raging a silent war under our eyelids to suppress the sweet pain at the curve of our lips as brought in by the respective memories…”  we are so much like those cylindrical frames brimming with stories and experiences! and when we talk to other frames, we collect some more stories to add to those ones in our closets!   

When I was failing to progress further on my line of thought, I came across this brilliant poem by Julia Spicher Kasdorf. There’s been an inexplicably soft body of silence over my shoulders…how true, when one goes through an experience that is too deep to express, there remains only SILENCE to express it!  I have been working on a series of ideation at my work place, a good stream of thought process has been dedicated to my work table. At times, I pause to look out the window, spread a glance across the destruction that’s happening in a very constructive manner, but alarmingly, I find myself a bit too nonchalant about the whole affair! “Getting used to” is such a bad word! 

My system seems to have lost its ability these days, hope this is fleeting an occurrence, to respond to varied triggers that are strewn on the streets. A day before, for instance, I was watching this old man in a worn-out brown coat (someone must have donated it to him) and white pajamas, who usually sits around the corner with his palm stretched a little further to seek a kind word, a few paisas or something from people who walk past, he seems to hatie this whole job of extending his palm to others seeking alms, and does it with a hint of reluctance! I found him, that morning, standing closer to a few posters stuck outside the book shop, announcing NEW ARRIVALS. I went closer to hear him reading the content of the posters in a low voice. I felt the urge to write a few lines about him, but could not find words. My words failed me once again……..

The lines “Living, we cover vast territories; imagine your life drawn on a map– Think of the time and things we accumulate, all the while growing more conscious of losing and leaving. Aging, our bodies collect wrinkles and scars for each place……” in the aforementioned poem form my favourite set.

I would have written my version in a more or less similar tremor, considering the state of mind I am still struggling with these days. We accumulate a great mix of happy and sad moments from each interaction, the whole basket is so unique to us, and we keep the basket of memories on the window-sill, stare at it admiringly as it glows in the warmth of morning sun, and we, creatures of habit, hope that it would stay the same forever. Little we know that the weather outside could become unpredictable after a while, the evening has a different story to tell, the walls have a different situation to face, when that someone storms out of the room, runs down the stairs, leaving us with a frown or a wrinkle layered in grief on our faces. Thus, begins the story of a “wrinkle” or  “frown” on our faces, which the world around, all of a sudden becomes curious of or it could be a genuine concern! Previous night, the youngster felt the latter for me, and I did not hesitate an inch to open the basket to tell the story behind a wrinkle of sadness on my face, with my voice trembling with a thin wire of grief. How much time do you think one takes to break open his/her heart to share what went wrong a season ago, with the other person, and how long do you think the other person would have taken to release his tight grip over his basket to bring in certain degree of relatability? Experiences and interactions (with pleasant or unpleasant, expected or unexpected, serene or turbulent terminations) leave a whole fabric of memories behind with us, words everyday arrange themselves in their respective slots as if they are getting ready for a performance, unscheduled, anytime, anywhere. But we choose our audiences in the same way we decide to do many other things and when the right audience sits by, there’s an exchange of stories, a desire to understand a newer perspective on the story that we have been sleeping with. Beyond this mere exchange of words, we seek comfort of words to moisturise and smoothen the wrinkle or scar that seems to be threateningly deepening its impact on our faces…..!

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