Breathing in

I over think in ways that are always in circles– from point A to point B, going through the same details over and over again with different people. Remember when I was 16 and my mother made me hate myself for falling in love that early? There aren’t many languages free of ego that I can say this in, but she was right. Maybe the only thing she will ever be right about. It’s only now I can see how love cripples me more than anything. Even when I seem to have a fair idea about how it’s going to end; the restlessness is always gnawing, filling the chest with an incessant heaviness. I wonder if my chest was ever lighter, ever capable of deep breaths that are rare as yellow cars these days.

It’s like filling a balloon with water. You know there’s room for more water but for some reason the balloon will only take less than half of what it can, spilling out the rest. Where does the rest go? I think it floats above my lungs for a little while before disintegrating into itself.

Then I have to lunge across my desk, hands canoodling its edges while sitting on my chair; bend forward and stick my butt out while walking so I can inhale a long snake of air before it wriggles around my nose and refuses to go further down. So I eat pomegranate and almonds after slurping my way through rice and rasam these days.That’s my life now. Low Hemoglobin ante, thoo.

In other news, I wake up like an alarm clock these days. At 5:46 am, my ears grow sharp and my brain sends fan noises to whatever it is that I am dreaming about. I rarely feel the urge to slip my covers all the way up to my head these days, thanks to that godforsaken Europe trip; I am still somewhat beautifully hung over by it.

Speaking of which, I promise my next post is going to be about Europe. Just that it means I have to look at my own writing for the next couple of minutes, stew in its filth and its ugly fucking metaphors and emerge hours later, having accomplished nothing, cursing and sweating.

In other words, I take back my promise.

I am growing really fond of my home self these days.I like the slow train speed of Sundays mornings and the airport rush that follows after.I haven’t thought about competing with anybody for months now. My Jain College past has made sure that the only bitter enemy I need to worry about is me. Chopping carrots. Enough said.

My writing yawns at me so painfully that I have at least 7 miserable draft pieces saved in a folder I have ambitiously called ‘Writing’. Although where the writing is happening is a question that even my pillow is not going to answer. I have a gazillion assignments to read, my Sarah Waters to finish, two writing deadlines to meet, and all I can think of during my early morning wakefulness is whether I should go jogging or do yoga.

I tried both last Saturday. Best day ever.

I love this semester, though.The classes all have something to do with writing, every one of them. My reading hasn’t slipped back to its bookshelves either and the fact that I am also teaching Kannada this semester has made my Saturday mornings seriously endearing. I am also teaching Optional English this time so my dying poetry foundation app has found meaning in life. And so has my morning bathroom time. I sit on the commode and read a poem every day.

Don’t say thoo, it is very uplifting. I feel uplifted every morning.

Clem & Clem

I don’t know if the faint light behind curtains is going to make me smile everyday, and maybe it shouldn’t.

Even as I am looking at them morosely and wondering why all mornings cannot be the same, the day begins to yawn quickly into nights and I have nothing accomplished to show you.

The lightness in my smiles weighs the thoughts within me in measured interruptions.

In short, Lorelai Gilmore calls the voices in her head Clem & Clem.

If I could be that funny to the voices in my head, they would shrink and become dust.

But they have serious names, one is yousuck and the other is seriously.

They are both talking to me now.

Tomorrow I will come up with better names, I promise.

Stories

One should avoid either being a bride, or being in a story. After all, stories can sense happiness and snuff it out like a candle. ~ Carmen Maria Machado

Old stories grin like wicked grandmothers who have come to usher you into your wedding bed. They stand behind you, holding you at their arms’ length and fuss over your hair. Their palms grabbing your slightly sweaty ones, they hiss mean little things in your ear with their bad breaths.

You don’t wonder what you were like when you read these stories now. You wonder instead, if any of these stories have come true, here, in the now. And because the way you write now stands in between you and them, the older, discarded stories; you crave to be better.

Here’s one you aren’t entirely ashamed of, here’s another that makes you smile. Like trees and old lamp posts passing us by on journeys that we make every day, our stories stand so –still yet blurring. Now and then, you may cast shy glances at them and wonder why you continued to tell stories knowing you were so bad, knowing there would always be somebody else who could tell that story better.

Did you know that jealousy can speak in two languages and write in none? That’s why they are so darn good. They are bilingual little bastards. They don’t know how to write because they can’t, also because they know that they don’t have to. They can get to you simply by lying there in the Snow Mountains and the mustard fields and the stone chapels. They are telling you it’s pointless to see all this and more when all you are going to do is scramble back into your bed with your laptop, open the new word document because you are so ambitious, blink three times and then watch Game of Thrones.

They know that you will keep the new word document open until the last moment, until all that needs to be watched has been watched, until you sigh into the dying whispers of your closing laptop and go into deep, guilt – free sleep.

New stories are like new lovers. You seek them out by tracing the lines on the palm of their hands, the wet corners of their eyes and lips, and the thickness in their backs. In moments, when time slows down in their eyes, you see the beginning of a tragedy. One that you know is going to leave you battered and poisoned.

On naked afternoons, as the sun empties the room for you two and sends shadow after shadow of windows carpeting up and down your sultry bodies, you wrap each other in stories of shame and embarrassment, of loss and fear. The curtains raise and fall, imitating your breaths and hair as you fling each other from far to close, from close to closer.

You hold them in your arms until you can, until they let you, in much the same way you toy with stories until they need to be written. Because before you know it, they have rescued their arms from your crushing weight; steadied their tired bodies while gathering their clothes, and left you alone with your awake and throbbing nakedness. As you lie listening to the small echo of their footsteps, you hug your cold body and make promises.

Stories are better lovers because they don’t make promises to you. It’s when they begin to, that you need to snuff them out like a candle.

Mad Max

Mad-Max-Fury-Road1-600x889-2

In my head lives a serious feminist. She comes now and then, offers groundbreaking gyaan to people, changes their lives and goes back inside. She is an older feminist, means she’s been here longer. She was shamed into absence by the happier and more down to earth feminist who took charge only recently. So when I was watching Mad Max and dealing with wow after wow, I was also dealing with a personal dilemma. Which of my feminists were purring loudly in response to the movie?

Some fans are shitting all over the movie, some are holding it with superb regard yet whispering to each other ‘Let’s not be in a hurry and call it a feminist movie yet’. I don’t know if it’s a feminist movie. I am happy knowing that for once, both my feminists seemed to agree on having fun.

I want to take a step further here and call it a fun movie. No, I haven’t watched its Mel Gibson prequel, and yes, this movie is so kickass, I doubt I’ll have badass fun with the other. Mad Max kicks all action hero movies’ asses. This is the movie you want to watch if you flung objects at the CIA’s chief in X Men when he said that there is a reason why the CIA is no place for women. Screw your CIA, Mad Max has super hot hero hesitating to operate big gun when super hot heroine stands patiently behind him. Two shots have been fired — last one remaining, and the enemy is at the gates. So what does he do? Yes, he passes her the gun and goes away.

The movie begins the way all post apocalyptic movies do. In a desert. In a city that has become a desert. Max stamps a chameleon and eats it. Next thing you know, he is hunted by war boys who then take him to their home. Scenes later, Charlize Theron is shown driving a truck, a big muscular truck. One you think came out when Arnold Schwarzenegger and Kati Luoto did it.

Theron is escape rani. She is leading away the warlord’s wives. Two of whom are pregnant. Here’s the thing about pregnant women. Most male filmmakers are shit scared about doing anything with pregnant women. And that’s why it was interesting to finally see a movie that flings pretty pregnant woman under some massive truck. This was when I heard both the feminists in my head roar with happiness. Why am I happy about pregnant women dying in the movie? They aren’t treated with ulterior patronizing nonsense. She died because she was doing circus on the sides of the truck that Theron was driving. She died trying to rescue her team. So it’s ok if she was pregnant and got flung under the truck. I am not putting pressure on action movie pregnant women characters to do stunts. And it’s ok if I do, because it’s a movie.  All I am saying is that here’s another role that didn’t have a man– that had a pregnant woman do it.

It is refreshing to see a pregnant woman doing unpregnanty things, is all. The other fun thing is grandma motor bikers, baby.  It’s still quite something to see middle aged female conductors and auto drivers in Bengaluru. So when you watch 5 wrinkled and kickass grannies, one of whom looks like the cute granny from Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries, all of them riding monster motor bikes, you may want to laugh at Nolan and his ‘Here Cat Woman, stop making a fuss. You can ride the Bat Mobile for 2 min’