a Spring evening in Kolkata

She looked around. Could not see him.

The couple sitting on the table across from theirs caught her attention. The woman wore a lovely red-yellow-brown Shantiniketani batik silk saree,  her hair was pulled up casually in a loose bun behind her shapely head.  Strands of black curls that just wouldn’t stay tied-in, framed her face. It was a typical Bengali face, slightly heart shaped, with dreamy large black eyes that made one think of the bottom of a dark inky black well. She had creamy olive-brown complexion and a very straight, slightly oily,  shiny nose, the end of which resembled the chiselled tip of a bamboo flute.  A large maroon dot adorned her little forehead. It was a tired but kind face that looked like it could break into a smile any moment.

Her mate looked pensive and he had a face that was hard around the edges, but it shared the same quality of easy gentleness with hers. These people looked like they had never ever slapped anyone or screamed or uttered a word of profanity ever in their lives…they made a fascinating stareable picture together – like a Subrato Gangopadhyay illustration…

But where is he?

Ever since her divorce years back, she hardly ever saw anyone. Reason being, her profession.  She was naturally prevented from meeting unattached  men.  The people she met on a typical day would be parents, teachers, computer professionals and domain experts. They came, they did what they had to do, called her “Madam” and then they left and that was it. She never ever saw any of these people again.

He had been a different story. The first day they had met in the library, she had been excited, they had discussed Contact, a Jodie Foster film she had watched the night before. Turns out that’s his favourite actress too.

She had talked – he had listened quietly. Later, he had asked, “Have you read Atlas Shrugged?” That had seemed to her to be irrelevant and absurd at that time. No, Fountainhead. “Well, you would like this one, I would get it for you”. With that he had disappeared from her space.

She had seen him again six months later. One cool dry spring morning as she walked into the staffroom, she had seen – no, not seen, she isn’t good at seeing people, she senses them or at best perceives their presence with her peripheral vision, so, she had sensed this young man there, and  had raised her eyes to give him the customary polite good morning. He had silently handed her a battered copy of the classic with an almost inaudible “your book” in English.  What?

She had frowned….

Is he making the ice-cream or buying it?

It has been a year since then. Phone calls had followed, but were rare and far between, they hardly ever spoke at work – he was extremely careful not to push, or break into her (sense of) privacy.  This is what had endeared this young person to her. Eventually, they had had a few long silent hours together, so comfortable that he had blurted out one day that hearing her over the phone felt like being wrapped up in a cozy warm kaantha on a holiday winter morning! She had laughed to hide her confusion.

Then she saw him, walking tall, striding easily across the grounds of the Nandan Film Complex, towards her, with a couple of cones in each hand. He held her for a couple of minutes with his eyes even as he continued walking.

She broke away from his gaze, got up from her seat, walked over to the parapet towards the roadside, and hitched herself up on the broad wall. Perched there, above the heads of the milling film festival crowd below, they ate their cones, silently watching, until the sun set.  In the purple darkness that followed, they noticed that couple walk down towards the snaking line in front of the entrance to the main auditorium.

A thin kid in a crumpled white shirt with rumpled black hair standing in a group nearby, forlornly watched the lucky crowd now entering the hall. When the breeze rustled the leaves of the deodar where they sat, a couple of leaves shook loose and fell where the kid stood.  For an instance the kid looked up. He looked puzzled when he had spotted them. Their eyes met.

He turned towards her once and then took out their passes from his back-pocket, raised his left hand slightly in a beckoning gesture. He held up their passes.  The kid looked away as if he hadn’t noticed anything at all and pulled his friend closer and they seemed to have a quick consultation. They looked up, at them now. . A moment of hesitation, then the kid walked over. He reached down and handed him their passes.

The kid dropped his eyes, murmured thanks and looked up at her; the look in his eyes didn’t say “we are grateful”.

She didn’t care.

He hesitated for a moment, then his lips twitched and he flashed her a smile. “Aapni shundor” ( “You are nice”). His friend, waved at them from where he stood. When the kid reached him, both of them walked together to the entrance of the auditorium. While the usher checked their passes, the pair had turned back for one last look at the silhouette of the young man and the woman perched on the wall.

He glanced at her. “Do you know how you look right now?” She ignored him. He was far better looking than she was. He always complained about how she neglected to take care of the way she dressed or let her skin go dry and chapped in winter. He held up his hand and pointed. She looked up. “Exactly like those.” He was pointing at the straight-back slender Asopalav trees skirting the grounds, covered with new-born-frail-pale lime green leaves, swaying gently with the cool February breeze. The baby leaves shone, like sparkling happy eyes, in the neon lights of a city getting busy with its evening chores. What? The leaves? The tree? She was puzzled. What did he mean – good or bad?

He watched her as she studied the trees thoughtfully, then everything around her, really taking in the scene now.

He felt something stirring deep inside of him, clawing at his young heart that made him want to get down from that wall and run. But he didn’t budge. He knew he never could bring himself to tell her. She turned to him.

He knew she could not read the expression on his face in the darkness.

“Aren’t they pretty?”

She stared, unsure. She would not exactly call them pretty – they looked good together, that couple…if that is what he meant.

He shrugged and gave up. “Well, if I hadn’t said that, would you have looked? Or have noticed how beautiful they look when the wind blows?”

Well, probably not. For a minute she hesitated…

What??? The bad – bad man! So, that was about those silly trees? And she almost thought for once he was going to….O well, never mind….she flipped her hair impatiently and turned away. He is only – well, he is just him. He isn’t her date or anything.

He watched her frown gather and then disappear. He lifted his hand in a sudden jerking motion, that jolted her a bit, waving it over her head, fanning the air in front of her face and legs – brushing imaginary mosquitoes away from her. Her face doesn’t quite look right. Stupid woman. Impossible woman. Who is going to waste time with someone like this? His suddenly felt tired inside of him. He fidgeted. Without looking at what he was doing, he drew her bag close to him. It felt warm and nice to hold on to. So he hugged it and held it close and looked away and watched the night traffic.

She relaxed, the sound of his voice felt like a caress to her restless soul. He was wearing a loose warm flannel shirt – it flared out when the wind blew and broke the bite of the chill in the wind shielding her from it. It felt cozy and warm to be near him. She sat still, looking completely at ease with the world around her.

Everyone was inside by now although the grounds were not entirely empty. The chai wallahs wandered lazily about with a large kettle propped in the crook of their left arm and the right holding styrofoam cups arranged in a long white pillar. One looked up at them expectantly but moved on when they smiled down at him.

This was Live – a concert under the open sky, a show they had thought might turn out to be much more interesting than what was in an imported Made in Italy can, inside.

A whiff of breeze blew his hair over his head and his face became fully visible as it caught the neon light of the post in front of them. He is so…quiet and young and clean and like a little bird… lovely – she smiled  – as one would, when a huge round full moon, suddenly sails into view in the summer sky.

there he comes rolling into view!

there he comes rolling into view!

d up

Masakalli Masakalli Udio Na Dariyo

Warning: Rant post on the eve of cruel May

Ah well, ok, ‘on the eve of the V-day this Feb’ if you please…

The more these other girls try to chat this natty man up, the madder he gets. Not about them. At them. They remind him of her. Of course, she is not at all like these other people. She is SHE:  different.

Their presence underlines her absence so intensely that he loses it completely and explodes.

Flaming words of sarcasm fly burning holes into goodwill. Only at unguarded,  perhaps alcohol drenched,  moments. People driven up steep walls lose it too and open fire.  He gets back as good as he ‘gives’ – so he broods about it less now. But still.  He can’t help realizing how UNFAIR this senseless mardon ka world is. For, what she can do, he cannot? He COULD not –

Aye,  Masakalli Masakalli/ Ud matakalli matakalli /Zara pankh jhatak gayi Dhool atak aur lachak machak kar Ud Masakalli…kar le puri dil ki tamanna

Hawa se jud, ada se ud…Masakalli…

Cavort with the Wind Masakalli

Cavort with the Wind Masakalli

No, that was not –  what he would have thought – but then, well, she isn’t a bird  –

Udiyo na Dario

Kar mandmani  !!

Badiyo na – Mudiyo

Kar nadaanii – bas,  tthaan le tu

Jaan le tu – sananana  hawa

Masakali matak matak matak – Hawa se Ud,  ada se Ud…

Go get to know the Wind

He was well aware that she wished he had said that : especially,  that part about “kar le naadaanii, Jaan le tu – sananana Hawa”.

BUT – was this – could this really be the GREAT BIG cause that drove him away? Her hawa se judna ? Her little flight over horizons he seems to have walked like the backyard of his own house.

On the Edge

she would never know

She doesn’t know. She never would know. Ever.

He didn’t either. He thought he did – but he knows if he allowed himself to be honest with himself, he would have to admit that he didn’t KNOW. And also that she scares him. Drives him mad with her unpredictable ways. Of course she is not really unpredictable.

Thoughts of  ‘unpredictability’  – it absolves him of some responsibility of what happened. It is easier to overlook his own cruelty to her.

She did ask him enough number of times – as many as was permissible within graceful limits.

Well?

she worries

Sometimes, in the dead of sleepless nights,  he  knows,  she worries – about how he could be laid up somewhere with a broken arm or a leg – or worse still, cozily ensconced in the arms of some hoori that drives him crazy with “lotsasex” and lovely guile… well, he can’t – he would not deny,  it kind of  – does nice things for his – well,  ego.

He  knows that she sometimes stares at a very bad stupid  picture that  is all of him that remains now – with her, that is. The rest of him is somewhere so bloody far away she can’t even hope to reach him there in her imagination.

he knows she never could reach him

he knows she never could reach him

He tells himself that she has been up and down this slope so many times already.  She knows what it is like.  She KNOWS that it would pass.  She knows she would finally get away and be free. Till that time there would be  licking wounds alone in a hole in that breathless state when every minute is like a year.

He also knows that there would never be forgetting this one.  At least,  she wouldn’t forget him.  And that he would walk the earth wherever she treads. He knows that.  But it doesn’t bother him.

Life would be the same  – petty – insignificant – one track ram rod straight zooming into each unknown day – bumbling along – for her. For him too.  The same as ever.

as ever?

not love

He knows this is NOT love – only,  it could have been.  It is just that,  for her, he realized with great difficulty that he had been the one she had been looking for all her  post millennium year life.  That he had been her dream unfulfilled.

could have been?

could have been?

PN: Pictures sourced from the Internet copyright with respective owners

men

hurt you when you let them get close.

instead of making life easier for me, they end up hurting me and grounding me, making me lose days of my life because am forced underground, nursing wounds

morning mail kills you sometimes. or at least your spirit… sorry folks but am parked here to vent this winter morning…if you care, do stay, if not, please come back in fair weather?

lived 30 years of my little insignificant life in absolute peace and tranquility until they hitched me up with a gay man one fine day. getting over the misery was hard enough…took years to heal and get back on course….but, lately, I slipped landing me in the hurtful spot again. stupid forgetful Sagittarian me!

I know why I had done it. I know what I was looking for. but, don’t know how I forgot. what was I thinking? human frailty I guess. or perhaps my inability to be woman enough to release all the female chemicals required to make me do the right things, say the right things that nurtures the male ego, keeps it safe, makes it feel loved, and prevents it from turning hurtful.

anyway, resolve to take better care now on.

hunt ’em , use ’em, move on should be the trouble free, less wasteful, least painful and easier way for a lesser woman like me. time will tell though. for now,  I allow the woman to mope a bit. for release. and to clear the toxic out of her system.