Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Armed And Fabulous

A few months ago, after realizing with a sharp acidic sting that rape and sexual assault aren't just newspaper fillers or misfortunes (to put it very crudely) that befall on those women that God has condemned to a terrible fate, but very real problems that loom over us all like the shadow of an invisible monster with a carnal lust for feminine flesh, I decided that it was time to take matters into my own hands.
Growing up on a steady dose of American sitcoms planted the idea of the incomparable protection offered to a woman in times of distress by pepper-spray and tasers into my mind. We would watch on TV as a pretty blonde wearing a tight red dress would get followed by some cheap scoundrels and led into a dingy alley before they would decide to pounce on her. But that was not to be, as the courageous and quick-witted blonde would draw out her faithful can of pepper-spray and shower their dirty faces with the potent oleoresin capsicum concoction, teaching them a lesson they wouldn't easily manage to forget.
I ordered (upon my father's continuous and copious reminders) my first can of pepper-spray about ninety days ago. It sits like a silent guardian in a corner of my handbag, and I assure you that while it's possible for me to leave home without my wallet, leaving behind my KnockOut Spray (yes, it has a name. Google it) is an unlikely possibility.
I don't depend on male company (however strong/ muscular or weak/ puny) to accompany me to shady places, should I choose or require to visit them. And more importantly, I refuse to allow my whereabouts to be dictated by the savage, animalistic libido of such offenders.
This is a free country, and I am a responsible adult who has taken her security into her own hands. You should try doing that too.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

A Tale Of Two Mangoes

On my dining table this morning, there sat a half-mango in front of me, sliced further into two. The edges of the two halves fitted synchronously with each other like puzzle pieces that hadn't yet been separated. A few millimeters apart, and yet significantly disjointed, the fruit pieces sat on the plate obediently and submissively waiting to be eaten by someone, and finally embarking on a solitary journey that would end with an inevitable transformation into human excrement only to unite with more city sewage. What a fall from gastronomic glory, I thought to myself.
I sensed a very palpable poetic opportunity in what seemed like the metaphorical equivalent of life's humble and solitary beginnings, scattered moments of fame, validation and glory, and the eventual and unavoidable fading into black.
Golden-yellow slices of a fruit that I wholly despise were teaching me how everything on this planet mirrors a universal truth. There is a similarity even in the differences that each situation presents before us, and no matter how bright we shine, or how succulent our offerings are, there is a definite full-stop staring straight into our eyes at a certain distance. Why not make the journey from the cradle to the four-poster bed to the inescapable grave an enchanting and unbelievable tale of unforgettable experiences and victories?
Leave aspirations of mediocrity behind and allow yourself to be a game-changer. The world needs more of those.

An Ode To The Many Men Who Visited Her Halls And Corridors

Running severely short on inspiration worthy enough to immortalize my words with, I stumbled upon the rather prosaic, pedestrian and overcooked topic of my (nonexistent) love-life. 
I sat with my faithful old cup of coffee on this brutally cold night in Wisconsin, and pondered over the dry, shriveled appearance my heart had assumed in the past three years, possibly due to what a medical man would term as disuse atrophy. There had been no room for my heart in my system off late, and moreover, it certainly didn't occupy the same high rank in my hierarchical delegation of power and control over important life decisions anymore. It sat alone, in my deep, dark mediastinum talking to itself and humming sad old love songs that it was beginning to slowly forget.

Occasional visitors had come with their feeble attempts to resuscitate my decaying organ, some through my brain, and some through a more meat-and-flesh route. Some came dressed in suits and fancy ties; some in t-shirts so tight that it seemed imperative to stare at their chiseled chests. Some blanched in musky Bulgari colognes, and some bathed in Axe deodorant. There had been those who spoke in monosyllables and were testosterone driven beyond the point of managing logical thinking, and those who spoke in sentences so flowery that I was left feeling emasculated. Let's not forget the ones who came with silent unspoken promises of a happy future and candlelit dinners, but left my poor heart battered and bruised like it was just with Mike Tyson in the ring. And those who found it appropriate to have an hour long conversation solely about their magnificent yet diabolical ex-girlfriend on a blind date, and also those who turned up high as kites for coffee. Of course, there had also been those who jumped the gun and went ahead and proposed marriage in a matter of a few hours of having spoken to me, and also those that I had sorely yearned to share a white picket-fence with, however brief and perfect that desire was allowed residence in my mind for. There had been married men and fathers of baby girls who had left me red-faced and disgusted with their icky propositions and immoral ways, and also beautiful strangers who had tugged all the right strings and pulled me into those supremely intimate dances you would only dare to dance when on holiday alone in a faraway land where no one knows your name.

I had led a very interesting life thus far, and I wouldn't change a thing that I'd experienced. Yes, there wasn't a textbook romance or an ideal relationship at the moment, but that was fine, I told myself. My situation, so to speak, was honestly anything but that, but even then, I decided to take this moment to thank all the men who had come and gone, visited my prairies and my farms, climbed my mountains and sang my songs, and tattooed their initials on the very heart that I spoke so poorly of at the start of this word-vomit.
Some day, when I would be older and hopefully wiser, with graying hair and crow's feet, a published book and a doting partner at my disposal, and a child that would be mine to love and raise, I aimed to retell all these stories, of all these unique men, so that the world might know where my life got all this colour from. You might have bruised my ego when you walked out of my life (or got thrown out), but you certainly left behind some interesting stories to tell!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The Best Night Of My Life

It's so difficult to string a line of words into a cohesive bundle of perfectly glued-up words, infused with enough flavour to trigger your imagination, and yet enough subtlety to leave scope for dreaming and embellishment.
I read somewhere (a Woody  Allen quote, was it?) that there aren't any good enough words to use to describe a place, or a place in time for that matter, with appropriate adjectives that are potent enough to carry you back to that frozen memory that sits and occupies the highest throne in your mind palace.
So by that virtue, I should be thoroughly unable and unsuccessful in any attempts, however earnest, to recreate through my words, the magic of the happiest night of my life.

No, there wasn't any mystery man, there wasn't any champagne, there wasn't a big fat paycheck with my name on it, there weren't any front-row tickets to a Coldplay concert.
There I sat on a wooden bench with two of the closest friends that I have, with a cup of hot chocolate in my hands, as the Swiss Alps watched over us and eavesdropped on our laughter and on our nonsensical chatter. A half moon shone in the sky stealing away some shine from all the constellations that accompanied it on this glorious night. Our hotel manager played us a rather mellow song in what I guessed was German, and whose lyrics we failed to understand. We sat there and realized how far we were from home and our regular lives at that very moment, not just geographically but also metaphorically. And yet, there was a sense of complete unadulterated peace that I still associate with that beautiful night, and a very certain, very definite knowledge of being in the company of two people who would never leave me, never let me down, never hurt me, and for whom I would gladly take a bullet. Maybe even with a cocky smile on my face, to leave behind a corpse that would scare them shitless and maybe even make them laugh when they thought about my rather strange sense of humour after the bullet had gotten the better of me.

We hunt for companionship in our lives, foolishly associating it with romance and sexuality and a ring on the third finger. What if that's where we, as a race, are going wrong?
What if this much-yearned-for companionship need not entail all those things? What if mere platonic love for another human being is enough, as long as it includes reciprocation and wholehearted acceptance? Maybe I tend to romanticize events and memories, add dashes of poetic adornment that bubble, brew and marinate them over time, and turn them into something that eventually seems as perfect as can possibly be; but this particular night remains to be everything I wish for from my life. Good music, a hot cup to warm my hands with, and the best friends that a girl can ever hope to have. What could be better?

Saturday, 16 August 2014

The Artist

He sat before me with stark brown eyes that reminded me of a wooden cottage on a mountaintop. They distracted me from the grimy glass of beer that I held quite firmly, as if to anchor myself to some dirty truth and not float away into fantasy-land with this beautiful artist as he spoke to me about Dali and the Impressionists. I nodded and added occasionally to the conversation, but for the most part I stared and marveled at his dreadlocks, at the charcoal that tattooed his fingernails, at the slight nicotine stains on his incisors, and at his brown eyes that hid behind the dark curtains of secrecy that his lashes truly were.
I asked him to show me some of his drawings, and he very promptly obliged, pulling out a big green book from his bag.
A surge of excitement ran through me as I opened this book; I had been a fan of his work for a long time now. He drew women, naked and faceless, crouching and standing; and some men, fewer in comparison, with looks of anguish and dissatisfaction on their faces. They were all beautiful but also disturbing, and for a few moments, I was quite speechless. It is one thing to see works of art hide behind frames and hang around museum walls, but to hold something so exquisite in your own hands, and to be able to touch it, feel it, is quite another. I realized that he was probably getting bored while I was obsessing over (and losing myself) in this magnetic book of art which he so casually declared to be 'nothing great'.
I turned my attention back to the beer and tried to kick-start another conversation which would perhaps make me sound less like a fan-girl and a little more like a sane human being. I talked about mundane things, I remember; something like my new job or my plans for my future or about the countries I have visited. He listened intently, which made my cynical self wonder silently-was he already bored of this regular girl sitting in front of him, with her incessant diatribe about her life, or was the alcohol already carrying him to a happier, more elevated state of mind where the spoken word was heard only when desired...?
He stared at me as I spoke, with intermittent jabs at the beef steak that sat in front of him. Every now and then he apologized about his steak, repeatedly asking me if I minded his carnivorous ways.
I told him that I didn't, and I looked right into his eyes when I said so.
There was a distinct moment, even in that alcohol fueled conversation, when I knew that we were both looking hard at each other. I knew at that very instance that I would go home and write about this man. 
I'm not sure if I was emboldened by the beer or whether it was a case of verbal diarrhea where my thoughts turned into audible words, but I asked him to draw me someday. I had always dreamed of seeing myself from the eyes of another, and here was a man who could make my dream come true. 
He nodded and agreed to do so, warning me of the long hours that I'd probably have to pose for as he drew me.
As we drained our mugs and finally parted ways, I was certain that he would never draw me and that the next time we would meet would probably be a chance encounter at a bus stop or a traffic signal. I made peace with the fact that there remained, thus, a poetic romance that made this evening encounter something to remember and reminisce over when I was a crazy old lady living with fifty cats.
A few days later, however, to my complete and utter befuddlement, I checked my email to see two portraits of myself that he had mailed me. They were beautiful and dark and had an irrefutable similarity to me that wasn't as apparent as a photograph would be, but was certainly very solidly there. The angle of my nose, my annoyingly stubborn hair that always hides my right eye, the jagged edges of my irises-he captured all this in these portraits. It made me blush somehow when I realized how much about me he had noticed while I sat there in front of him, mentally beating myself up about possibly boring him to death with my unending rant about love, life and art.
I was happy and shiny all day, thanks to this amazingly talented genius of a man who had taken one thing off my bucket list; I had now successfully been immortalized into a piece of art (thankfully not by myself).
I realized, with an understanding that dawned on me in a slow slither, that we were both looking for inspiration in that shady old bar when we swallowed our cheap beer that evening. Thieves, hunting for ideas, who went their separate ways, content with the knowledge that they got what they came for. 
Every writer needs a muse to wrench their insides and squeeze out some words from their gut so that when ink meets paper, it isn't a complete disaster. Today, he would be my muse, and I hoped that I'd do him justice.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Last Time

With a sudden screech
Like hot rubber tires fighting
An asphalt road,
Your teeth clenched into
A tight comma,
In a moment that was
Otherwise so silent,
So complete in its irrelevance
That it never expected
An encounter so exclamatory...
Like prickly cacti on golden sand,
Goosebumps stood up to salute
Your finger as it traced
An untold story of love lost,
And love gained,
On the flesh of my arms...
Slowly, like candles,
We burned in the significance
Of our hands holding on
And our lips parting ways-
Only to unite after
The briefest of separations...
When you smelled of musk,
And a warm summer's day,
And the earth and its kin;
And I hid beneath layers
Of silk and sheets,
And a bashful shade of red,
And you pushed on, looking
Deep into my eyes, as if
Boring a well to extract my very soul-
I remember the sunlight
That slithered out of a sliver
And onto your back
That was now arching in
The joy of culmination,
And in the anguish of knowing
That this was the end
Of a torrid afternoon dedicated
To polar opposites
As they pretended to love...

Sunday, 10 August 2014

A Storybook Romance

There have been several happy endings of blurry bar encounters that television and films have mythologized over the years. Beautiful girl gets very attractively drunk, slurs some cheesy sentences to the handsome stranger who conveniently happens to be sitting next to her, they gobble down shots together, kiss, fall in love and live happily ever after.
I was convinced of the impossibility of such an event ever happening in real life, and my cynicism was far better developed than any of my other five senses. So, when my girlfriends invited me to a party on a stormy Saturday night (which they would be going to with their beaus' hands around their waist), I wasn't too sure I wanted to go. Such events only made me realize how uncomfortable it was to be single at a party with free-flowing booze and no one to hold on to. However, a lack of anything more exciting to do and my friends' constant text messages urging me to get my derriere to the said event without any unnecessary antics, forced me out of my pyjamas and into my blue miniskirt.
I clearly remember the clothes I wore that night, which is quite an unusual thing for me, and I remember wearing a ratty old red t-shirt over the mini because I was too bored and uninspired to dress up.
After the fervent hugs and shrieks that are expected from girlfriends when they unite at parties and dance floors, the boyfriends took over and pulled them into intimate dances and conversations, as was also expected.
This left me alone in the middle of a crowded, chaotic madhouse with really loud speakers playing some Red Hot Chilli Peppers songs into my ear as if to force-feed the lyrics into my brain. Thus, quite predictably, I made my way to the bar, grabbing one of those bar-stools and settling in for, what I was convinced, would be an uneventful replay of the many such parties that had happened and been forgotten before.
I started my tequila-shot ritual that I had reserved for nights such as this one, and very soon, the boredom and disinterest started fading away from my eyes. I realized that there were actually quite a few people here that I knew. But this definitely didn't mean that I'd get up and let my stellar spot at the bar go. I stayed put, swallowing shot after shot of the concentrated happiness-booster that tequila can prove to be. About half an hour into my solitary drinking game, a friend arrived at the bar to get a few drinks for his table. He was accompanied by this other friend; a guy I had had a gargantuan crush on despite having only vague memories of having seen him a few times in my college. I knew for sure that it wasn't just the alcohol that had certified his cuteness-certificate in my head. He was tall, had perfect white teeth and was conventionally good looking. And with a sudden jolt of excited panic, I realized that he was smiling at me. I have never been that dumbfounded by anything in my entire life.
I knew that by now, I was drunk, but seeing this man smile at me went beyond drunken disbelief. The random friend who he had accompanied to the bar had gone back by now, and for some reason, Mr. Mantastic was now sitting right next to me. Alarm bells started sounding in my head now, because the impossible had happened. I had met someone I knew for a fact I would see again and without a doubt, fall in love with, at a bar; on a night when I foolishly predicted that dressing up and looking my best would be of no consequence.
He introduced himself while flashing me with that brilliant smile, extending his hand towards mine to shake. And yet, my mouth was zipped shut, tight as a Tupperware container. The tequila running in my veins decided that this was a hallucination which could only be dismissed if I could touch him and know that he was indeed a solid entity and not a sadistic joke my brain was playing on me. So, very delicately, my forefinger went and poked his right cheek, and I distinctly remember incredulously informing him that he was, indeed, real. He laughed a manly little laugh, as I melted into a pool of soppiness.
We spoke a little, about things that I don't remember, although I know for a fact that I did finally tell him my name. A few minutes later, my girlfriends reappeared, apparently equally inebriated, and dragged me out towards the exit. I didn't want to leave this beautiful man; I wanted to stay and talk to him for the whole night and then maybe grab a late, lazy breakfast with him. But my luck timed out, and I was forced into a car as the girls and I headed home. I was told it was getting late and reminded of how we had early morning classes we couldn't afford to miss. No one seemed to have noticed my meeting with Mr. Mantastic (a name I shall conveniently and repeatedly use throughout this post, but I assure you, was not his real name) and for that, I was grateful. Even in my drunken stupor, I knew that I was in no mood for a comprehensive inquisition conducted by my supremely protective friends.

As I hit the bed that night, I recall that I didn't change my t-shirt before sleeping. It was a happy reminder of the lovely evening encounter that I wanted not to lose track of. The next morning, we somehow managed to make it to class; groggy, sleep-deprived and horribly hungover. The day went on as such post-mad-party days usually do, but throughout this otherwise regular day, I had butterflies in my stomach, and this very solid feeling that something was about to happen. Something big.
And so it did.
Mantastic and I started talking on the phone and going out on clandestine coffee dates, not telling our friends where we were or who we were with. 
There was a slow but steady graduation to taking long drives in his tiny old car, with Sinatra playing rather loudly on the stereo, ordering pizza and grabbing buckets of ice-cream, with lots of lovely (and cheap) wine that we would drown ourselves in and celebrate our new found passion for each other.
We fell in love, very easily and very effortlessly.

The heartbreak and misfortune that would befall on me thanks to this man in another two years is perhaps bearable to me today largely because of the fact that our beginnings were so happy and real, and also because time and its all-healing ways have once again proved that humans can get over the biggest of losses if they so will themselves into doing.
Life goes on, and we can choose to hate, or we can choose to love.
I have always been a glass-half-full girl, and I know that there's a cute little leprechaun waiting on the other side of this rainbow for me with a pot of gold that has my name on it.
However, I've learned my lessons. 
I shall always be wary of beautiful strangers now; no matter if they have a mysteriously magical pull that works wonders on the poetic consciousness. As they say, once bitten, twice shy.