Wednesday, January 27, 2010

On a more cheerful tone -

My second Mangalacharan class today. sort of enjoyed it, but I was nervous. Well, I think I was. Suddenly it was hard to concentrate and I couldn't pick up the steps as fast as (I'm sure) I could have. My teacher remarked that I look 'lost'. Maybe I was.

The happiest I have been in, say, the last six months was my three days in Sharada's house. I told her that and I remember her chuckling. Why, she asked, it's a very pedestrian life!
Pedestrian, perhaps. But I loved it so much - listening to her pleasantly incessant flow of stories and thoughts, chopping carrots and beans, flipping chappatis. Home.

Getting to know people is work; staying affectionate is work; relationship, for the most part, is work. Is it possible to block out emotions, attachments, and expectations completely? Pain seems to result from these, and if we can block them out -
But of course we must be prepared to live without hope, without thrusts of delight.

When was the last time I felt happy? Really happy - completely without apprehension or worry of any kind?

1. I seem to no longer have any capacity for thoughts.
2. How can crudeness and sophistication coexist?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Loneliness is funny because it's so pointless and hopeless.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

I need to learn to love life again. I need to find what makes me tick. I've been relying too much on other people's presence to be happy. That's not good.

I have been feeling that people I love don't care for me that much. Maybe I expect too much from them, and I feel that way because I'm doing too little with my life. I'm beginning a graduate programme next week, and I feel, strangely, even more restless than I was last month, when I was without a job. Are these nerves, I wonder.

I am in a frenzy, trying out everything until I find something - something that fits, something that feels right, something that gives me the feeling of being complete or - since perfection should be impossible - near complete. Maybe I should move to a new place. Maybe I should move back to Chennai. Get married and have children? Yeesh.

But right now I am keeping myself busy with many things. Odissi. Volunteering at the local library. Being a graduate student. Joining a theatre group. Re-learning Tamil with determination - in which undertaking papa is a big help. Learning Sanskrit (particularly because this ties in with odissi). Reacquainting myself with French. Beginning Hindi yet again - and hope I don't give up this time. Writing a story. Planning to take up sitar classes. Who knows what I will find out about myself and the world, whom I will meet. I need to find something so that I stop feeling so empty.

Friday, March 27, 2009

I don't know what to do with my life. When are you supposed to find out? And what if you never do?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Well. Every day can be a day of ranting. But I feel particularly ranting-provoked today. It concerns a certain antagonism with a certain Person Too Irksome To Address (P2I2A). In any academic inhabitant, one expects every single Person to be civil and considerate. I find my capacity to do either is sucked dry everytime I'm face to face with P2I2A. I snort in class during lectures whenever I glance at this Person and see her tilting her neck to one side until it seems at the point of breaking, with a smile stretching ever so far. I'm sure it must be a wonderful exercise to the muscles, but I'm concerned. I snort whenever I spot her standing on the corridor, charitably re-rendering past lectures to a few rather unfortunate souls. Lately, I have acquired the ability to snort silently. And I do this whenever I see this Person, because it reminds me of all her previous actions that have made me snort before. Should she, should she ever try anything funny, I will handle her with the power of Speech. It's regrettable that anyone should receive my snorts. But really, in the words of that wonderful Frenchman, I can sincerely ' fart in (her) general direction '.

Kabir’s Duck

Kabir’s Duck

Damn it, Kabir cursed silently, feeling the bump on his forehead. The clatter that issued as he hit the metal bin was loud enough to wake the entire street. He had hit himself against the steering wheel. He adjusted the rearview mirror to try and get a look of the thing that had unceremoniously scuttled across the road. The swerve was lucky and impulsive; minutes before he had been listening to a brokenhearted woman on the car radio recounting a relationship that just ended. The glow from the neon lights wasn’t strong enough to illuminate the street. He was about to back the car up when he heard it. The sound was low at first, almost indiscernible. It grew more distinct as he listened. A duck.
I hit a duck, he thought. Out of all things, a duck.

To Kabir’s relief, there had been no dead duck. The thing had only appeared traumatized. Kabir found it rooted to one spot behind the car, a little more than a duckling, quacking wildly. He wasn’t sure how to approach it, and he had sat cross-legged in the middle of road, waiting for it to calm down. He had then bundled it in his jacket and driven home with the duck on the front seat next to him. He found the whole episode baffling. He had never seen or heard of a solitary duck crossing a city street late at night.

The duck was still pale yellow in colour, with a small bald patch on top of its head. No sooner had it seemed to settle down in the tub did Kabir realize he had no idea what to do with it. He didn’t have a plan when he decided to bundle and carry it home; at the time it seemed the right thing to do. If you hit a person, you wouldn’t leave it lying traumatized on the road. You would carry her home (it was easier for him to think of the victim as a she), feed her something hot, make the necessary phone calls, probably let her stay the night. Only that in this case, Kabir didn’t know who to call or what to offer; the tub of water was as much as he could come up with.

Which was as well, because the bathroom had, for days, been the cleanest place in the house – and only because it was put to regular use. Since Leela left him, Kabir had remained in bed for most of the time. The neighborhood tended to get too quiet at night, so he went out then to catch a late night movie – so late that he could go home and get straight to bed. He hadn’t opened the door to anybody since her leaving; he hadn’t wanted to speak to anybody. The phone was disconnected and his cell phone, for all he knew, was probably clogged with messages.

It was pathetic, almost ridiculous, he thought, for a grown man to be brooding in bed. It would, of course, be too embarrassing to have his daughter come and console him. He was supposed to have seen enough at his age, 41 years old – enough to know how wrong life could go, enough to not be shaken when it did go wrong. To his surprise, he found himself reaching out for Leela when he woke up in the morning. He longed for someone to butter his bread.

Theirs was a relationship you would associate with fireworks. It was instantaneous – the kind that sweeps you away, the kind that makes you breathless. And unlike most relationships that began that way, the afterglow lasted. He liked the feeling of stability he had with her around. He liked having something to look forward to when he came home after a full day’s teaching. The thought of a relaxed dinner with her, possibly accompanied with a movie that contained very little violence, made it that much easier to bear impossible students and coworkers, the occasional hellishness of university bureaucracy. Kabir thought of this as he squatted in his bathroom, crumbling a boiled egg over a newspaper for the duck to eat.

He browsed the Internet to find details as to how one should take care of a duck. He placed a shoebox lined with cotton cloth in the TV room, positioning a stand-up lamp at one corner of the box. Ducklings, as it turned out, if raised without their mother, should be provided a source of sufficient warmth. The website he referred to also mentioned that it was preferable for ducklings to be raised in groups; they are very social beings and tend to not cope well alone. That made him a little anxious. His presence wasn’t going to help much if the duck was lonely. Obviously there wasn’t much in the way of communication. As if to compensate, he did everything else he could do rigorously. He changed the lining of the box everyday, refilled the water basin regularly, made sure that the duck get sufficient swim-time in the plastic tub.

He hardly left the house in the following days – not even for late night movies. To leave the duck alone at home was out of the question. There were so many things that could go wrong. It could squeeze itself in the space between the sofa and the wall and get hurt. It could choke on something. It could get out of the house and get run over by another car – and this time it might just prove disastrous.

In the first days of being alone, Kabir had gone out to stop himself from thinking. During the day the street was busy and he could drown himself in the goings-on of the neighborhood. But when he lay alone in his bed at night, his mind meandered through alleys he wanted to leave well enough alone. His mind acted like a nauseating child he couldn’t control, and he hated it. It helped to be in the presence of strangers. It was perfect, too, because strangers didn’t know him enough to ask questions about his life. The child in the mind, Kabir learnt, was to be dealt with the way you deal with all impossible children: distract them; give them something to play with.

Soon enough Kabir realized the same effect could be achieved by watching endless television. He read magazines about the recent fashion trends, the latest famous person who afforded a ch√Ęteau in the Loire or in Bordeaux. He read about the latest protest against the selling of fur. He spent a significant amount of the day playing with the duck. He avoided newspapers. He wanted, for the time being, no responsibility for global poverty and unhappiness, wars, or for the chaos the world was in.

He had lost people in his life before, of course he had, but it had never been this bad. He had never felt so corroded – as if something was eating away at him. If he were to be logical about the whole thing, about his wife’s leaving, there was – he told himself – very little to mourn over. The relationship, any relationship for that matter, was just a sum of habits. You grow used to being in the company of someone; you grow used to needing someone; you grow used to being needed. Now, he thought, it’s just a matter of dismantling habits. A matter of not expecting her to be there when you come home, not to call or message her, whimsically, when you have something silly to say. But it felt wrong, all of it – like telling the voices in your head to shut up when they wanted to sing. There was no way around it. That was all the heart’s doing.

But a month went by and he found it was possible for whole days to pass without him thinking about Leela. It became easier to think of her only when he wanted to. It was liberating, in a way. He was more in control of his thoughts. He still thought of her when he saw her empty wardrobe, or when he saw his solitary toothbrush in the bathroom. That was it, though: he thought of her. He no longer uncontrollably wished so hard for her to be there and felt a pang that didn’t go away because she, in fact, was not there.

It was possible to live with as little contact as possible with the world. There was the nasty period of adjustment, but it passed quickly enough. Kabir thought it felt a bit like quitting smoking. There was the odd sensation in his stomach after he had gone days without speaking to anybody. Then he felt angry, because the need to talk to other people was so intuitive and he was forcing himself to go against it – like not eating in spite of being hungry. But it wasn’t so bad after a couple a days. The main thing was to keep himself occupied, even if that meant doing the flimsiest things. Kabir reorganized his bookshelf and the spice shelf in the kitchen; he sat down and watched movies he hadn’t seen for a long time; he spent long hours with computer games.

On a rainy Saturday evening Kabir woke up feeling very good about himself. He would fix breakfast as usual, then do what he was in the mood for – whatever was available to occupy him. He woke up to a dark room and a number of mosquitoes on his legs. The TV was still on; two cowboys were dueling. The clock on top of the TV set told him it was ten minutes after six. He remembered he had to switch on the lamp by the shoebox to keep it warm. He turned on the room light and looked around for the duck. The shoebox was empty. Kabir looked under the sofa. He scoured the TV room and the kitchen; he looked all over the house. By the end of the hour, he was frantic.

It must have gone out of the house somehow. The traffic outside was still heavy; he could hear the buzzing of cars from his opened window. He ran shoeless out of his apartment, leaving the door open behind him. He didn’t have to look far. He located it almost immediately: the yellow fluff next to one of the large flowerpots in the parking lot of the building, pecking at something slithery on the ground. Mixed with relief at the sight, Kabir couldn’t help the feeling of something burrowing into him. It all felt too familiar – the panic, the fear of loss. He shirked the thought. He scooped up the duck, clutched it to his chest, and climbed back up to his apartment.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Out of a year, up to thirty bad, ugly days are nothing. Nothing. I need to remind myself because it helps me cope better with the fact. Phuaaah...