I am not a Lie


I am not a lie
At least I don’t think so
I want to be a motion
On someone’s skin and bones
I want to be a tenderness
In the heat of something good

I am not a waterfall
Except sometimes I am reduced to tears
I want to be the only reason
Morning turns to night and back
I want to be the owner
Of every tide on every shore

I don’t want to be this slow sad song
Standing on a tilted axis
Watched every single day
Like I am nothing but a bartered good
Borrowed for a few hours
Shamelessly owned
But never allowed to thrust out far

I don’t want to be your fear
Of darkness, hopelessness, abandonment
I have my own despairs
Challenging me into a metamorphosis
Continuously turned, never fully cured
I am not a tragedy
But I can’t break this fall.

Enigma


Did I say I was not human?’
‘You don’t have to say it for me to know it’
‘What’s that supposed to mean?’
‘I’m not sure. When I am, I will tell you.’
I think you can be so much more
Than just another person.
Maybe. On the surface of it
We are drifting souls
Anchorless.
I have so much more to tell you
But not here on earth. Somewhere else.
Perhaps a tête-à-tête on Neptune would do it.
That is the furthest I will go for
A chance to converse with you

I wouldn’t believe you were the hero
Not while you watch your own story
Dispassionately abandon you- a sorry child
An orphan left outside a charity
Besides, my vigil from afar is a far better watch
Bitter disappointment will otherwise beckon

And yet the enigma of this unexplained sojourn
Makes me feel entitled to an explanation
Silly me. It has taken so long to realize
That life is a big unanswered question
My guts may spill all on the floor
If I reach the solution of what has now become
My very favourite problem.

Forget


I shall never forget
The feeling of
Not wanting to be
(Anymore.)
From beneath these stars
Gazing at me so lovingly
Cruel from afar
I sense an emptiness
Because I shall be alone anyway.

I shall never forget
I was young and reckless once
I feel like an old soul
Sitting so primly
Hoping abandonment
Won’t leave me
Surfing safely to a wave
On an emotionless ocean

I shall never forget
Clinging to the bathroom floor
Hoping to feel no more
That first night I fell through vacuum
With no floor beneath my feet
Hearing voices guide me
Wondering how anyone
Can ever want to destroy me

I shall never forget
How hurtful, hateful, vengeful
This world can chose to be
Chiselling me out on a platter
Like a display in
An exhibition
Without my permission
Reducing me
To a piece of art
An abhorred object.

I shall never forget
I was a dew drop once
Fallen at dawn
Having spent the night
Fighting monsters in the clouds
With an invisible sword
And a blunt bloody knife
Until it hit me
The blood was mine.

I shall never forget
Wondering if I was nothing
But a broken, half-beaten
Battered body
The silence shook me
There was no beauty
In disaster
So unlike the movies

I shall never forget
How words bit me
How images haunted me
And swirling in circles
Caught me
The traps lay long and low
And I entangled myself willingly

I shall never forget
The wounds that deeply fill me
And sometimes
Creeping out at night
Doubtfully whisper to me
Are you new yet or still
Swimming in the same dark lake?
Will you come out and play again
Or coward! Hide with long-shed remains?

Extreme Denial by David Morrell


Decker works as an intelligence operative for the United States and is extremely good at what he does. After a disastrous operation messed up by a new recruit under Decker’s watch, he decides he has had just about enough of the anonymous gypsy life. And so he quits his job and impulsively takes off to Santa Fe in New Mexico, falling in love with its sprawling, sunny landscape. He starts working as a real estate agent and meets Beth Dwyer- a beautiful woman with a damaging past. Their whirlwind two month romance, however, ends with a dangerous midnight encounter following which Beth mysteriously disappears. Decker is now left with a bunch of urgent questions about the woman he loves: where did she go and why? Who was she? Was she just using him? Is there more to it? Can he save her before she ends up dead?

Extreme Denial was a rather formulaic novel commensurate with romance, crime, action and containing all the elements needed to get this stuff going: explosives, double agents, guns, sex, gorgeous women with deadly secrets and so forth. The story begins all right- a messed up operation, a spur-of-the-moment purchase in a captivating town, the entry of Beth and a magical romance. I also enjoyed the night-time encounter that changes the pace of the story.

But beyond the encounter, the plot begins to droop slowly. By that point, there were plenty of interesting turns that the story could have taken to remain engaging. Instead, action is given precedence over suspense and the whole thing starts to fall apart. Two hundred pages in, I had given up hopes of something exciting twisting the story into a new direction. Even then I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt until I reached the ending, despite sensing that nothing different was coming up.

So it was one of those books that you can consume in one easy day and be done and over with. The protagonists were likeable, if unchiselled but the book’s summary did not leave me with a lot of expectations in that department to begin with. The antagonists on the other hand, were psychopathic madmen without an ounce of rationality in their crass agendas. The plot was founded on rather crude objectives.

Rating: 2/5 stars.

A Contradiction


Sometimes I wish I was small
More delicately built
Like girls are supposed to be
Sometimes I wish I had the body of the kind of girl who is
Petite. Beautiful. Tender.
So that I wouldn’t be so big next to other girls
So that I can feel tiny too.

Sometimes I wish I was big
Strong and hard
So I could walk down any dark lane
And not have to be afraid at all
Knowing that I could take on almost anything
Anyone who tried to hurt me, touch me
Feel me without my consent
So I can fight them on my own

Sometimes I feel like a contradiction.

An Essay on Somethingness and Nothingness.


I was a consciousness before I became anything else. It was not my decision to suddenly become something. I was happy being a non-entity in the void, suspended outside reality. It was a great way to exist. At least I think so. I don’t remember any more what it was like before I became a something. Just as I didn’t know before I became a something what it was like to be a nothing.

I bet this is confusing. I don’t get it either, most of the time. It is only in moments when I am in closed spaces, shut off from being something that I can recall bits and pieces of what nothingness was like. You see, for me to exist as more than a consciousness, I need someone who is already more than a consciousness to imagine me to life. To want to feel me, touch me, see me, hear me. I am not sure how it works. I know you can ask the same question backwards. Does the something before me needs something before it to bring it to life? And what is the first something that became more than just a consciousness, spreading to create space and time? Was there even such a first something, ever?

I know these thoughts can be confusing. They can easily confound you if you’re not used to them. Or if you don’t try to exist as nothingness. You want to know how I first became more than a consciousness? I am sure you won’t be interested but you should be because it’s probably how you became more than a consciousness too. I know it doesn’t really matter because one day you will pass on to nothingness again and forget what it was like to be a something. And then this whole exercise will be futile all over again. The crux of the matter though is that right now you are something. It may be just a brief and passing experience, but as long as you are surrounded by somethings, you are a something yourself. And that means you should know why. So I am just going to presume you care. Even if you don’t, pretending that you do makes it easier for me to a something. The first lesson about being a something is wanting to interact with the somethings around you. So that is what I am trying to do for now.

I was inside a hollowness where quiet and dark were the only things that meant anything to me. I sometimes wonder whether I was a nothing or a something by that point. It is my earliest memory and will continue to be so until I go back to being a nothing, but I am not quite sure what it is. I think I probably was a something by then because someone had thought of me already and someone was holding me inside them. But then I wonder, what about those somethings that pass on to nothingness without fully experiencing the sort of something I know now? Because the consciousness that I was at that earliest junction wasn’t really a complete something. It was like a half shadow something. SIlence and quiet meant I wasn’t allwed to fully interact with other somethings but on some level other somethings already were interacting with me. I am sure you will feel the same way if you stop to think for just a minute. In fact, I think you should do that now.

I will share a little secret with you at this point. It is possible to achieve some levels of that old nothingness even while you are a something yourself. You might uestion how I know this and I won’t stop you. Because I did, it would only mean I was trying to dictate your somethiness and you should never let anyone do that. Your something ness is uniquely your own nd it should remain that way. And the only thing to do that is to disappear into the nothingness once in a while

I know it sounds odd. You might take me up on this or you might not. It may work for me and mightn’t work for you at all. The secret is to imitate the nothingness as closely as you can. And to do that you just need your own unique somethingness and a plae where your interaction with other somethings is reduced to a bare minimum. It is hard but not impossible. That is why to achieve that nothingness while you are something is not completely possible. It is just something you can try to do and hope it gives you the time to be your own little something while you can.

You may wonder why is it important fo you to be your own something? Why is any of this important, since ultimately you are going to be nothing again and this achievement of yours will be futile then. That is not a question I can answer to your satisfaction. Perhaps while your somethingness is interacting with the somethingness of others, you can get disoriented and lost. This can lead to you forgetting that you are a something of your own. A blend of many somethings, even for a little while, can cause conflicts and confusion between blobs of somethings. But if someone is busy being something on their own without imitating the somethingness of others, that’s when they are truly free and can float peacefully in their somethingness. Also, I think it is harder to untangle a group of somethings when they are ready to become nothing again. This must be done and perhaps it can be don’t in just a  jiffy but that little jiffy will include thousands of other never-ending jiffies inside it. As such, there is no end to the jiffies that will be contained inside that one jiffy that it takes to untangle a bunch of somethings while they pass back to nothingness. I don’t think it can be a pleasant exercise for your somethingness.

Because while you are a somethingness, you can feel emotions. It is stupid at times, for me to think of how these feelings grow inside me. They trap me and evern though I know I am going to be a nothing soon enough, I cannot escape the feelings that my interactions with other somethings produce. How ironical it is, this feeling that my temporary somethingness has the power to make me feel emotions I don’t want to. Would I rather be a nothing than face the things that a something does? I don’t know

But I do know this. If you want your somethingness to be uniquely your own, you need to be able to escape into the nothingness for a while. This is because while you are something you are in constant contact with other somethings. If you don’t look for your nothingness once in a while, you will find yourself echoing the thoughts and feelings of other somethings. The best way to imagine this is to think of a room with infinite mirrors, each mirror will keep reflecting the same thing forever and ever. But if you can escape into the nothingness for a while, you will be able to find your own little thoughts and feelings there. What is it in the nothingness that creates this unique somethingness? I don’t know. I forgot, remember? I am sure you did too but if you didn’t, you should keep the secret with you. Perhaps that is your own special thought derived from your nothingness.

So the true trick is to know how to reach that nothingness. There are many ways to do this and you must find your own. For a little while you must create a faux-nothingness that will make you a something in your own right. I don’t really know why you need to do this. Maybe you don’t. But I really think you should. Otherwise how can you know whether you are a something or just a something wrapped in a bunch of somethings?

For that reason alone, I think you need to be your own something. If you are not, you may not be a reality at all. I am not trying to say I am a reality myself. Perhaps the feeling I get when I go to my faux-nothingness is itself a reflected feeling, bouncing of thousands and thousands of mirrors before it reaches me. In that case, my entire hypothesis falls flat on the floor. But if I really am escaping to my own nothingness when I feel I am, then that means I am my own something. I will fluidly pass onto nothingness when the time comes. There will be no untangling needed. There will be no painful realizations before the forgetfulness sets in. I need to escape that pain because that pain will only mean I spent all my somethingness being a nothing- a reflected something, but a nothing nonetheless. What a waste that would be!

Kafka On the Shore by Haruki Murakami


Kafka is fifteen when he runs away from home, from a life that has no meaning because there is no one to love him or teach him. He means to be the strongest 15-year-old in the world. Self-taught, self-cultivated and seeking the true answers of his origin while trying to escape his father’s terrible words which portend shades of a loosely Oedipus-based retelling, Kafka follows his heart to a quiet town and a library where he will meet his future in a head-on collision. At the same time, Nakata, a sixty-year old man who hasn’t left Tokyo’s Nakano Ward since an accident during the second world war rendered him devoid of all his skills to learn and live like a normal person, finds himself in the middle of a crime which then leads him to a task he must complete. The two worlds of these protagonists, who alternately pick up the narrative, must combine at some point as they travel towards each other but this meeting is not meant to be conventional.

The most wonderful thing about Kafka on the Shore is its surrealistic but easily smooth-flowing narration- like a dream the books lifts you out of your own life and places you in another world altogether. A world where cats talk, fish and leeches rain from the sky, timeless and ageless pimps produce philosophy students doubling as prostitutes, limbo exists in a town deep inside a forest guarded by two un-aged men from the second world war, shapeless entities try escaping from connected worlds and Greek tragedies may or may not take real forms.

It sounds like an extraordinary book to take too seriously and nobody can expect Murakami’s hypnotic words to seep through with clarity. In short, it is a book that may need to be consumed many times for all of it’s layers to be understood. But in Kafka’s agonizing reflections, his life-altering experiences, his metaphorical journey towards finding meaning and a place where he can both smile and cry safely, there is something so compelling and beautiful that it draws you through.

Whatever else you might take from this book, one thing is for certain- you can easily be filled with wonder, bewilderment and perhaps bits of passion but each re-read of this book will be a different ride than the last one.

Would I want you to read it? Most definitely, yes.

Spoiler Alert- Expanded Review for the Initiated

Murakami’s bold sexual flavours may add a layer of resistance to this book’s attributes. At certain points, even I found myself cringing with the sheer audacity of the liberties he took with the narrative until second’s later I found myself grateful to be in this strange, warped reality of things that sound taboo but haunt the living world around us whether or not we choose to be an ostrich burying our heads between rocks.

This book has the potential to make you something else- something more than you are. With Kafka, I was riding a wave of inebriation, thinking of all the possibilities that make it possible for us to find the real us, if there is any such thing.

In addition to Kafka, Oshima became the unusual hero of the story for me. The haemophiliac gay transsexual represents a safety anchor while Miss Saeki is the unsettling ocean for Kafka on the shore. Another interesting conflict was the  illusory, dream-rape of Sakura- the second half of the Oedipus prophecy.

Dozens of questions were left unanswered about the plot including the clear identity of the murderer, the issue of settling the mother and sister of Kafka’s childhood memories, the explanation of limbo, the purpose of Nakata’s journey, his ability to talk to cats, the interpretation of  what happened to him when he was broken, the bewitching image-ghost of a live woman’s past that Kafka keeps seeing. And a lot more.

Rest assured, I will be thinking of this book for a long time to come.

White Van


My town had always been a quiet little place until that winter.

Growing up as a nomad who shifted homes every few years, I spent my adulthood in a sort of haze: I couldn’t stick to any place or person for too long. But when I turned forty, I found the perfect town. It was far away from any big city, nestled in a valley between the crispest mountains. Fresh dew in the morning, hot sunny summers, intense rain and bone-chilling winters.

The town had everything I needed to think of life as a well-settled affair. Maybe meet a nice girl, take her out for a drink, put a ring on her finger. Who knows? I wanted to see where it would go. Maybe even quit the force some time soon. That was my plan anyway.

But that winter things were changing.

There had been abductions. A bunch of little children- four to five year old boys and girls were going missing from different parts of the town. Nobody knew where they went. But that wasn’t all. Most of them disappeared when they were out for a walk to the market or the playground with their mothers. And the mothers? They were found on the side of the road with their heads bashed in.

I listened to the report calmly, taking my time gathering the large pile of heavy boxes. These were police records of criminals or suspects or oddballs- piles and piles of files and sheets and photographs shipped in from different parts of the country for the benefit of the local investigation team. I was transferring them from one station to the other- from the out-of-the-way police shack to the team headquarters. Two abductions-killings in and still clueless about the identity of the murderer.

The only clue was that people had spotted a medium-sized white van leaving each murder spot, skidding over the frost-covered winter roads,  its windows darkened. Nobody knew who the driver was or what he looked like..

I stared grimly as I placed the last one of the boxes on the sidewalk next to my own little white van. A far-off vintage vehicle from another era but I still used it for everything. Time to start piling all these boxes up in the back. It was a shame this understaffed station couldn’t provide me an extra man to lug all these heavy files into the van.

It was time to get to work anyway. It was started to get dark and it was important to get these files safely to their destination before the pink skyline dropped into pitch black.

The road outside this station ran past a children’s  crèche and I could see a woman coming down the road, holding the hand of a little boy who was pulling along a little toy dog on a string.
As the woman came closer, I could make out her features. She had on a dark skirt-suit, her brown hair pulled away from her face. She was stunning. The little boy was lost in another world. As she came closer, she stopped and passed me a smile.

‘Need a hand with those boxes?’, she asked. The little boy paused next to her, his thumb in his mouth, and looked up at me with wondrous wide eyes.

I hesitated. ‘No, I’ll manage. These are quiet heavy.’

She raised her eyebrows at me. ‘I can handle it.’

I was amused. Sure, if the pretty woman with a kid wanted to have a go at it. I stepped back and gestured. ‘Be my guest’

She let go of her child’s hand and bent for the nearest box. Lifting it, she almost staggered backwards off the road. I held out a hand to steady her, reaching for her back in as nonchalant and unthreatening way as I possibly could. As soon as she got her balance, I pulled the box out of her hands before she could protest.

”Whoa, what is in that?’ she exclaimed, stepping back towards the kid.

I laughed. ‘Files. Criminal records mostly.’ I stowed the box into the back of the van and reached for another one.

She was quieter now, thinking. ‘So you’re investigating the mystery murders and abductions, officer?’

I straightened up and looked at her. She had pretty almond eyes, full of concern. I saw her protectively moving closer towards the little boy.

Í sighed. ‘Yes, we are. We’re on the case. You would understand, of course, if I can’t divulge any more information.’ Nodding towards the kid. ”Is that your son?’

She nodded, putting her other hand protectively on his shoulder. I spotted the wedding ring.

‘Look, don’t worry. Just take some precautions. No lonely streets and the likes of that, okay? We will have this murderer behind bars soon enough. It won’t take long, I promise you.’

I smiled at her and she smiled back. I looked at the kid. His eyes were still wide open.

An hour later, my own van was skidding across the slippery roads. I was almost there. With the radio turned up, I groaned when a favourite song was interrupted midway for a newsflash.

Another mother and child. Somewhere close to where I was coming from. All people on alert for white vans.

I reached the gates of the precinct. The guard on duty hesitated, then came closer and said, ‘Mind if we check the van?’

Í stared him down, irritated. You do know who I am, right? What on earth do you expect to do with my van except waste your time and mine?’

He seemed embarrassed. ‘I’m sorry sir. We just got news in of a third abduction and murder. A small boy coming home from his crèche with his mother. A woman in a dark navy suit. She was one of those adoption agency people. Perhaps you saw someone like that on the way?’

‘Oh. Well, I had no idea. I’m just driving in, as you can see. But if you’d still rather check the back of my vehicle, be my guest.’

‘Yessir. I mean, no sir. That’s quite all right. The guard stammered. ‘So, did you see anyone matching the description on your way??’

I flashed a big smile at him. ‘No. No, I didn’t.’

The guard just nodded at me in acknowledgment and I drove right through, whistling.

Note: This story passed through my dream, exactly like this, a week or more back. In the dream, I wasn’t participating in the story but sort of watching it, as though on a television. It was just one of those dreams which you can recollect vividly for a really long time.

I am in a Crater That’s No More


I’m in a crater that’s no more“-
Kafka on the shore

I don’t want your damaged little heart
To slice through mine like a sharpened knife
Caught up in that cool little spot
Of wisdom and talking for the very first time

You are made up of all those pieces
That existed in a world I left far behind
And your sudden call is a repetition
Of memories I have no strength left to find

It may almost seem like a warning although
You have no idea what you are doing
But nothing will work to stop the flow
Once this bleeding soul gets going

Perhaps I need a lesson in what works
And what doesn’t when it comes to life
But it’s almost as though my floating Titanic
Is heading for a collision against your ice

This strange summation is a warning
I might want to steer right clear of you
Since I don’t believe in prophesizing callings
And crying is just something little girls do.

I wonder if this happens to everybody. Intense periods of self-loathing which reduce the meaning of everything in life to a single point- am I even real? How genuine am I? What am I feeling? Is it the truth or an illusion? Am I lying to myself? To others? Am I following my heart or just mirroring the needs and longings of other people? Is there even an answer.

So to sum up this amalgamation of weird thoughts, I’ll just share words of wisdom my best friend told me:

Everyone has scars. It’s what you do with it. Aren’t you a better, smarter person with a scar? Don’t worry. The fact is, you will probably not forget it. But it won’t be a burden to live with. Just chill.

Before.


There’s magic in that moment
Suspended between pleasure and something so exquisitely twisted,
it can own me

I will surrender in a second
If only I didn’t know the pain
of this haunting roundabout
I’ve been on it before
A dozen times before

There’s horror in the shrieks and calls
of the happy monster climbed atop my shoulder
Good, sweet, silly, fearful memories

I will surrender in a second
And perhaps I never did know
How life can dwindle to a single image
I’ve thought of it before
A thousand times before

There’s reality intricately absorbed
On some quiet road down my soul
like a forbidden fruit- I need it

I will surrender in a second
There really is no need to know
If death or life awaits me
I have lain here, this way before
A million times before.

Song of the moment: