Lesson Learnt?


You asked me to pick my battles-
Reserved strength- you called it
What a refreshing lesson
I only take from this
Experience- a song
A far cry from everything I
Have ever known
I can’t hide forever
But I can try

You said you’d guide me
Whilst I traverse
This maze
This rat race
Of flitting, emotional experiences
Magic absorbs you
But it slips through my fingers
And I wonder if
You wrote a travel guide called Life

I wish you had though
When I see you slip and slide
And I see my mighty efforts
At self-comfort sucked into
An abyss
Are-we-pawn-pieces-on-a-giant-chessboard
I wonder if you could save me
If need be
Or can I save you?

Keep off the Grass by Karan Bajaj


At IIM Bangalore, A Yale graduate- An American-Indian who belongs neither here nor there, descends to learn the nitty-gritty of management, although his personal quest is aimed at self-discovery of what the elusive, notorious but much-chased happiness really is. As he tries to settle into the backbiting, sleep-snatching, grade-chasing life of business school in India, he starts to see things in a new light. Happiness takes on a new meaning. All the cliché explanations he has ever heard come together and a big picture begins to emerge.

 

Some books are like gusts of strong winds that just blow you away for a little while. When you land back on your feet, your glasses askew and your hair windswept, you see things a little better- perhaps with a freshness you didn’t think was possible before.

Keep off the Grass is one such book. It uses the simplest of words and without beating around the bush, takes you through a darkly introspective journey filled with tragic humour and  a few refreshing realizations. What sets this book apart? Perhaps the fact that it pits a fast, competitive world against a slow, sluggish, hedonistic lifestyle and lets you decide where you want to end up. For me, a personal touch that brought the experience full circle was how the story wraps up at my hometown and in rather a charming way at that.

The past three weeks have been a rollercoaster. I don’t even understand why the things I have been exposed to make me feel fulfilled in a way years of education haven’t. This book was given to me as a parting gift from a friend I probably wouldn’t see for the next two years (at least). I don’t know why, despite my belief in randomness, things seem to be fitting together like puzzle pieces. Their probably couldn’t have been a better timing for this book.

I am learning to be okay with different. It doesn’t have to be about running after the same things that other people want. I am still not sure what it has to be about, really. A sojourn was what I had felt like I needed and so I grabbed it with both hands, no questions asked. Lazy days examining the rain from a window and enjoying hot food and tea to the beats of romantic songs with a novel in my hand. A weekend spent that way and ending with an evening out and a sleepover. So when I reached home again, somewhat liberated, Keep off the Grass was the perfect answer to the questions in my head.

Arguably, this delightful little pocket-sized story wouldn’t even feature on best book lists. It just happened to be the right place and right time for me to read it. What is happiness, really? Just sitting here and typing this. Or meeting someone new. Or doing the work I am doing these days. Or a nature walk through one of the greenest places I have seen in a long time, especially when the Monsoon clouds are compounding its natural beauty. I feel dreamy and right now, I feel disconnected from life. Just drifting along.

Song of the moment:

Good That You Came.


It is good that you came.

Not good in a conventional sort of way-
Like I feel when I see my mother
After staying away for too long
-But just good. Like watching an eagle soar.
Or hunting for stones on a moss-covered floor.
Or tomato soup on a rainy day.

We stood at the door
And I wondered why your eyes bewitch me
They cannot even exist
I cannot even fly

It hurts that you left
Not the way it would if I lost a good book
Or lost my eyesight, for that matter
It just hurts. Like an old gramophone
That my grandfather used to play
Is lost to us now.

 

 

The Candle Snuffs


I sat on the bed and
Made little chits
To remind myself
How powerful this chance
Can be-
Could I ask for
One return ticket, please?
I want to take this
Journey in reverse
I’m travel-worn
My cloak is torn
I just haven’t seen
The worst of it

I felt the plush carpet
Rich beneath my feet
Something rose inside my throat
A promise or a declaration
Dying unspoken
I think of where I
Had been
And it makes me queasy
Why would I ask for life
To take me somewhere new?
Why can I not be content
Dying in a ten-mile radius
Like people used to

I opened a box of
Old photographs
Surveyed the field and compared
Graying hair, laughter lines
If these decades just pass by
I’ll take one for the team
And surreptitiously I
Understand the feeling
Of some day wanting to die

I talk to people I’ve known
My entire life-
They are different and yet
I see the very same things
Crowding on their living room floors
Filling cabinets with memories
Who will take these away?
And why and where?

So I draw full circle
These Jhodpuri slippers
The chicken-work suits
Or just a stark white sari-
It’s all the same
In the dying calls
Of that house-
To me
It will just be
The darkening of dreams
Looking at wizened people
Wondering when
The candle snuffs and
Where I’ll be when it does.

Refreshing: Just One of the Guys


 

This is one of the most wonderful things I have seen in a while. It rings with truth, it’s liberating. It’s just a little something:

“No matter how hard I try to be just one of the guys
There’s a little something inside that won’t let me
No matter how hard I try to have an open mind
There’s a little clock inside that keeps tickin’”

I cannot help marveling over how brilliant it is:

“There’s only one difference between you and me
When I look at myself, all I can see:
I’m just another lady without a baby”

Might I just add, as an after-thought: Kristen Stewart looks adorable and dorky as a guy.

Song on loop for foreseeable future.

Victory


She called your name-
From the stinking pit
You gathered her in your arms
The fire was raining down on both of you
For a moment at least, you were one
- You come back to the day
When a single word whispered on a park bench
Reminded you of the misery you had borne
It would no longer do to love
Life was only the fusion of days

You questioned morality, existence, harmony-
A letter read out in the name of someone
It bequeathed truckloads of ‘stuff’
You simply stored it in your kitchen
Thinking you won’t even use it on any day
-But the silverware was all good and new
There was crocheted table clothes
Old children’s books you re-read at night
There was magic in those memories
But you did not even know why

The little child lay in your arms-
You remembered her playing under the apple tree
She sat on a low wall, swinging her legs freely
The laugher that filled the house
Was turning into an agonizing shriek
-You weren’t even sure why
They said it was all worth it in the end
You didn’t even believe in anything
It was victory but it was utterly hollow

Of the Men


Of the men who adorn her nightstand
Some glitter, woozy in the dying neon lights
Like actors patterned onto a cheap television screen
Framed with cigarettes, tainted black-and-white
They are men from all walks of life

Some tall and pointed, thickening
With chest hair matted, double chins
Some ticklish, smiling, flirting, lying
Some whispering the words she wants to hear
Some role-playing life into a dream
A casino, chips and the reigning queen
On silver screens she wondered how
These things could turn out quite so hot

Of the men who fill her books with words
Nobody knows how many roost
In arcane, crazy wild parlor stories
She narrates to girlfriends when the party buries

Some perfect gentlemen, they open
Doors and ask her to be the judge
In random matters requiring arbitration
Some beasts with devilish horns of fire
And unconditional loathsome desire
Some taken up for no good reason
But capricious turns between love and treason
The jars are full of countless delights
Lining up behind her wall untouched
They hold the men she taught to cower
Forever entrapping them for her
Saying, ‘oh all is fair in love and war’

Don’t Answer


Don’t answer to the call
That the new day will bring a transformation
We are on bitter recall
With no room for further clarification
This senselessness will dissolve
If time becomes a pardonable officiator
I’ll erase these last few falls

Don’t answer to the call
It will make me feel worthless and dirty
Let all the pain stand tall
I’m ready to be painted in new hues of red and green
Although things will seem to crawl
We’ll trade the town and end the lease
These memories will be stalled

Don’t answer to the call
Sometimes silences are saccharine
There will be other balls
Infused with croquette, snippets and wine
Feelings that ought to enthrall
Will come to life and turn out fine
The world won’t seem so small

Poison


A perfectly fine spinning driedel-
I watch it speed through my dreams
A glimpse of finery; something special
As though someone has drawn up my life for me
Making me watch from a distance as I
Seek to explore the nature of what I behold
A poorly painted, faded impression
Or a precious child’s untamed hand at work

 

A daring game of Russian roulette
My fiery, fueled heart watches breath-taken
The unrequited coquettish charms of tragedy
Laced with charm I strive so hard and fast to win
Making me cry out from a distance as I
See the unmistakable chips fall right into a pattern
Deadly- should I seek to erase it
So I stand catatonically waiting for it to stop

 

An unending blitzkrieg of cruel questions
I watch in a sickly stupor, stilled by time
The agony of feeling these minutes tick by
As though something brilliant awaits the execution
Making me tremble with helplessness so exhausting
There is no room for ecstasy to be a part of it
I wonder if this is how life is supposed to feel
Or am I slowly drinking through a vial of poison

Evanescent


Broke free on the understanding that
Everything on this page of dusky memories
Was just reduced to a single line of unfathomable melody
Tangled, broken, tragic.
Crisp but uninspiring

Lived life on the terms that
Everything felt was a misunderstanding from which arose
A tale of adulterated emotions caught in a ring of fire
Woeful, lustful, heart-breaking
Harmonious but not synchronized

Understood love from the derivation that
This tangential exchange was like an ill-fitting jigsaw
A broken recorder that still lets you make out all the words
Chaotic, unapproved, temperamental
Ethereal but absolute

Saw death as the welcomed sigh of a sufferer’s salvation
Like the utterance of a syllable’s worth of betrayal
Would cause the earth to shatter underneath a torrent
Irrelevant, mysterious, self-sustaining
Hardening  but ultimately evanescent