Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Don't come back home.

Don’t come back home. Because the night-light guided footsteps of your dream sleepwalked right through my sleep, trampling the simple pleasures of fatigue asunder.

Don’t come back home. Because every time you do, it becomes a new home all over again where I fumble against forgotten passwords of switches and rusty locks, where the pillows forget the curve of my neck, ad where the stove splutters to life only after being asked twice.

Don’t come back home. Because you threw open windows and doors that swept in reams of sunlight that had snubbed my welcome all along through doorcracked shadows.

Don’t come back home. Because you painted in hot oil all over its bare majesty, listened to the mute cries of empty nooks and shelves too proud to ask for sheets and sofas, and left me a difficult cleanliness to live up to. Sentenced. To a constant lifting up to looking down, to dusting what is beneath, to bury dead cockroaches and dead loves, to ignore the grime at the bottom to hiding the crime floating on top of a conscience.

Don’t come back home. Because even your silent presence dimmed the clanks, honks, reverse gear tunes, tears and coughs of the roaring world into a soothing song to which life was danced to. And without you, my solitude has soured into a seething anger at all sound, be it the cooing of doves, the slap of soaped cloth against the washing stone or the banging of doors. Doors that you won’t ever leave unlocked again, laughing cheekily at feeble ghosts that lurked in the dark, waiting for you to leave.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

This city might do what Pilani never did- complete my hindi lessons. My workplace has an atrocious attitude of disobeying rules that don’t lose their emphasis on repetition- No hindi, no telugu.

There is this faint lemony smell of room freshener that permeates this place, the first thing you sense in the air when a tired throng rushes towards a 30-bus long queue is this smell, it clings to everything- toilet seats, Styrofoam cups, Kimberly Clarke dispensers, door knobs and ultimately to us. In the factory, it's different- you come back to an irate mother who repeats her admonitory reminder to take a bath even as the medicinal stink starts fading from my clothes.

The view from my office is pretty indeed- trees forming guard around a lake that emerged unscathed through the landscaping onslaught. The glass library windows that like a shrewd bouncer that lets the sunlight slip through hand in hand with its pretty green picture of a companion while keeping straggler sounds out. Tired 4:30 footsteps that succeed the siren announcing succession between shifts, the desultory talk of trainees dividing their time between lab and plant, the snip-snip of the gardener’s hedge trimmer and the tears of an abandoned hosepipe.

But when I look at the trees the scripted quality of the scene betrays itself to me, the trees are placed as if on stage, like cardboard-cut-out trees that are propped up merely for backdrop’s sake. Too still, too green and too perfect to pass off for real trees, these palms could have been plastic imitations with serial lights dangling from them in front of a newly inaugurated airport. It made me believe that no one had ever slept on the grass on winter afternoons or walked mindlessly through reborn rows of flowers or aimed stones that plopped right into the serene eyes of lotus leaves. It was as if they had set up the place to pose for a camera and their deliberation had nearly ruined the effect. I say nearly because the artificiality didn’t make the view less arresting.

It took me three successive days of missing the 6:15 bus and waiting for the 7:15 bus to understand that dusk does justice to this place more than any other time of the day. That hour of solitude in the cricket grounds is the most special time of the day even for me, someone who’s leading a pristinely solitary life.

If I turn my eyes towards the factory, it leaves them searching for the sea in vain, for that 24X7 rumble that goes on within that nondescript building is indistinguishable from the sounds of the shore. It’s not the monotone of murmuring machinery that I can only hear a tempestuous ocean groaning one minute and sighing another. The trees too nod sadly at the factory for this hair-tousling breeze that is only a hint of a monstrous wind that should have set the waves rolling, for it is easy to grieve for that caged sea that is howling from within.