May and Might

I am afraid I must write this quickly before another Sunday dissolves into another long month that I cannot catch up with. This has been the busiest beginning of year. I didn’t notice BIFFES, META, BQFF nor any of the weekends that came after. I don’t remember the last time I sat in Parisian and read a book, don’t remember the last time I went to BCL, don’t remember the last time I took myself out for lunch (this is Swiggy’s fault)

Too much has changed and a lot more is going to change. I am not comfortable assessing if these changes are going to be good or bad. What I am sure of is that I am looking forward to another version of myself.

I thought I would quit going to Biffes this year because of Orion Mall. Turns out I can resist moping about endlessly if there is promise of 3 hours of stuffing my face with caramel popcorn and watching A abuse Titus. I can’t complain even though half my salary was dumped in cab fare and food because I caught some stunning movies.

Volcano, Corn Island, The Brand New Testament, Passion of Augustine, Gabo, Dheepan, Endless, and 3000 Nights are some movies I am struggling to remember so I can write about them.

Meta happened and happened well. Despite my dipping energy and random people’s capacity for malice, we were able to pull it off. I was on two panels this time and I must say I liked both of them very much. Part of reclaiming my space at Meta happened after one such panel. As I have come to discover, spaces can have more meanings than people. And Meta has become a space for me that has quite aptly gone beyond people.

It is easy to say this now but the ten days took quite their toll on me and I began to get perspective only towards the end.

And before I could sigh away the many lasts there were at the last day of META, BQFF arrived. Googly on white rum, I rode to Vasanth Nagar to catch Lawrence, anyways at Alliance. It felt familiar and nice to lay on the white mattress and watch movies in a half-sleeping half-crouching posture. It reminded me of normalcy and home. It reminded me of last year and how after averting a fiasco, I went to Goethe to watch Mommy’s Coming — all of us lying next to each other, shoes carefully hidden under somebody else’s, half my head resting on my bag, the other half on S’s shin. S and M giggling and slapping their own stomachs when daughter and mommy did the nasty. S’s disgust at the size of penises and A’s everlasting confusion about life in general.

It’s a Sunday. I am sleep-deprived and severely dehydrated as I write this but looking around the quiet and empty department calms me in a way that nothing has in a long time. Not even Old Monk. I need a new routine. I haven’t done Yoga in three months, haven’t done anything on my list in a year. Grr.

In other news, we said bye-bye to Faulkner and jumped to Roald Dahl, Ruskin Bond and R.K. Narayan this week. I don’t know why. It made sense to read short stories after the torture that Faulkner put us through. I am waiting for vacations this year. This is strange because I don’t usually think about them until they arrive but all I can think of now — after three months of 2016 –is that long stretch of laziness with little dots of travel here and there – come soonly, May.

I need to get back to reading and writing in a more sustained way. This month has been cray-cray.

What be this booty?

I remembered that I was supposed to buy the lovely Hang on my blasted Europe trip only after I saw a BIFFES poster in Bengaluru airport after my return. The Hang is sold only in Switzerland and one has to be some kind of a musical genius to be able to buy it. They don’t just sell it to anybody. I first saw the instrument in My Sweet Pepperland where the beautiful Golshifteh Farahani plays it. I have never felt compelled to want to know more about an instrument before. The Hang drove me to research. I listened to various other bald men play. At first it became my writing music. Then it became stalkerish, as is always the case with me. I found out that only a handful of people today own the Hang.

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Still from My Sweet Pepperland. Golshifteh Farahani playing the Hang. Courtesy Tumblr.

Here’s a clip from the movie, My Sweet Pepperland.

My deep deep attraction for this woman grew ten-fold after I watched this movie. For the first time in my  life, I felt like playing an instrument.

Sadly, they have stopped producing the Hang because the makers are trying to focus on perfecting the Gubal, another instrument which is pretty much like the Hang, except that it is clearer and the sounds are somewhat more pronounced. I still think that the Hang is more melodious though.

Effing Switzerland.

P.S: Here’s some extra booty for Golshifteh fans.

Testing 123

A shaky hut stands so quiet on a land so lost; one wouldn’t wonder where the hut had vanished to, if it did. A tree grows right in front of the hut and matches every detail with the dry land. Every morning just before the sun rose, I would see the father-daughter sitting by the bench and waiting. I don’t know what they were waiting for. They would just. I would wait for the cranky engine sound to follow soon after this. The van would start and I would watch it disappear into the giant ball of yellow shining ahead. Hours later, a horse would come speeding ahead, a young man riding it and the girl clutching at his quivering sides. They would stop, she would give him water, and he would drink some and throw the rest on a stone nearby. The water would vanish into various maps before fare welling into Africa and then a dot and then nothing. He too, would disappear like that.

I saw a strange boy one day peering into their house. The girl came out minutes later. He wanted water. She gave him the key to the well. They looked at each other long and hard enough for me to get bored. Before he left he flipped out his camera, took the girl’s photo and smiled. She was as quiet as air in a key hole.

Every night after that he would stop by and shine a round light by the side of her bed. She would come out and look at him. There was stillness and they seemed unbothered by it. He was as fast as light; she was as pale as the moon.

One day the father died. Nobody knows how he died but when he did, the girl took the van and left home. She drove past the tree, past the other tree half a mile away from the first tree, past the spot where her father would tell her to get out from the van, past the spot where she once found a dead crow and then she stopped because she couldn’t go any further. There were fences, tall and strong, all around her. She couldn’t cross the fence so she came back home to find the horse man’s family. He married her and fought with her lover.

The lover fought wisely and won her back. She was quieter than ever.

When the horse man leaves, moon and light would come together and creep under the sheets every night. Legs entwined, fingers tracing eyelashes, eyes looking for secrets, hands reaching out for more, and hearts beating thickly.

One morning, a pile of bombs fell on the land and everything ruptured into nothingness. The sun bellowed into an orange sound, the earth fell from under their feet even as the tree was ripped apart and sent flying across continents.

****

When clouds of dust would come whizzing by, I would close my eyes real tight and make mohre carry me. She was pregnant with Siya but she would carry me still. Often she would smile a heavy smile when I told her to do this. The same smile I would see when uninvited relatives would stop by for coffee at home. She wouldn’t know what to do when they would suddenly stop by. We had no coffee, no juice, and no biscuits. Mohre would crush some ginger into boiling water and hand it to them. ‘It’s so cold today. You must have some hot ginger’, she would say. And they would drink it without complaining. After they left, she would scoop out the bits of ginger and use it in whatever dinner was made that night, which was rare actually because I was told we didn’t like dinner as a family. We made good breakfast, light but good.

I was 10.

‘Mohre’, I asked one day. ‘Why does your wedding dress have so much blood on it’?

She looked upset. I didn’t want her to be mad at me. But the blood scared me and I wanted to know.

‘I will tell you when you grow up’, she would say.

I was 13 when I asked her the same question.

She looked thoughtful, not mad this time. ‘I will tell you’, she said.

I was 16. She brought her wedding dress to me the night before my wedding. She held me close and said, ‘Today I will tell you why there was blood on my dress’

‘I know why there was blood mohre. I just want to know if it hurts’

She hugged me tight and wept. She tore my 45 year old fiancé’s photo to bits and we left home that night and never returned.

****

‘Parvaneh, did you take anything from my bag?’

-No. I wasn’t anywhere near your tent.

‘My bulb is missing. Any idea where you saw it’

-No. I am going to my car to get some cds.

‘Ok. Look for my bulb after you get your cds’

A pair of twins wearing red and white appear on the scene. They each have an arm missing. They are carrying a log with 3 dead ducks hanging on to it. They go just as easily as they come. Two men walk into the woods carrying what we will assume, human flesh in plastic bags. They are talking about a man named Hamid who may or may not have twins. A man and his son are arguing in the woods, their voices are shrill like the air around them. There is blood on the land they know nothing of. There is a faraway murder smell creeping behind them, stopping when they turn around.

A strange man, knife in his side pocket, mouth smelling of old beer, mutton and blood walks up to the son’s bag and starts looking into it.

-HEY, that’s my bag. What are you looking for?

I know, I was just seeing. Do you have gas? I need gas.

–No, we are on our way out.

Look at that! You have full tank. I am taking some. You can go, son. Your father and I will talk business while I get fuel. Go on, go.

Yes, go son! Call your mother soon.

–Er, alright. Take care, Dad. Bye.

The son walks away from the woods. Now and then he turns back to see if the man has killed his father. He wants to stop but he doesn’t. He keeps walking. If something were to happen, I wouldn’t keep walking like this, he says to himself.

A pregnant woman carrying a swing is seen on the camp. This is a rumour so don’t believe it.

A woman stands by the edge of a lake and looks at the mountains ahead. They are at once distant and close, like the memory of an echo. Behind her, her boyfriend narrates the story of how she got 2 different eye colours. Her left eye is purple, and her right, dark grey. The man listening to the story was looking for his bulb only minutes ago and is now thrilled by the story. A year ago, at a kite flying competition, while she was flying her kite, the bulb burst in her face and injured her eye. Since then she has begun to see things. She knows bad things will happen before they do, which is why in a matter of minutes her boyfriend and her will be gone from the camp.

A man hides behind the trees and watches a girl get into a car. She is rummaging through some cds. The man walks towards her, knife in his side pocket, human blood rotting under nails, and animal breath in his hair. She freaks out, puts the window down and asks him what the hell. He needs a favor, he says. He needs her to come with him to close the pump so the camp doesn’t get flooded. —-Why should I come? Can’t you go alone?

No, I need you to come because I am not going to come here everytime to turn the pump off. It won’t take long. Just 5 minutes. You can leave soon after I show you where the pump is.

–I’ll call my friend, you can take him.

No, it’s right here behind those trees. Just come.

–O.K.

Even the leaves ruffled in disapproval. Why was she going? Hadn’t she heard enough stories about what happened to young women who decided to help strangers? Especially when they needed help behind the woods?

A pair of twins wearing red and white appear on the scene. They each have an arm missing. They are carrying a log with 3 dead ducks hanging on to it. They go just as easily as they come. The girl notices them, the twins notice her but nobody says anything. At this point it is difficult to say whether they have really seen each other or not.

‘Parvaneh, did you take anything from my bag?’

-No. I wasn’t anywhere near your tent.

‘My bulb is missing. Any idea where you saw it’

-No. I am going to my car to get some cds.

‘Ok. Look for my bulb after you get your cds’

A man named Hamid who may or may not have twins wanders into the woods, knife in his side pocket, hands all bloodied because he has been butchering animals all morning. He sees a girl sitting under a tree, reading and listening to music. She is listening to her favourite band. She wants to watch this band live before she dies. If she were to know what happens next, she would probably make a new wish.

She sees Hamid and screams. He laughs, she calms down. I am scared. He asks if he may sit next to her. She says ok and he sits. In a matter of minutes he has borrowed her mp3 and they are both listening to her favourite band. Now Hamid slides out a saw from underneath his sleeves. I don’t know what happens to the girl. She may or may not have died. Her favourite band appears in front of them and starts playing.

****