inspiration

Music in my neighbor’s backyard

I’ve been trying to write lately but my thoughts wander. It’s been about changes in life, embracing growing up, growing old and of noticing changes that makes you realize that it’s not so scary growing old after all. There will always be some people who, when you meet, talk about the same reservations that you have about this trickery of growing old, and so all of a sudden, you’re not alone. There’s always nostalgia, fatigue and the sharply advancing generation around you that makes you realize that late twenties might not be the ‘sought after’ age to be–that’s only till twenty-three. I’ve been listening to this live gig from my room at this hour from our neighbor’s backyard. It’s an intimate gathering—from the noise of it, a bunch of friends, laughter, guitar and songs. It’s almost Spring—where your rooms are cold enough at night to keep the fans turned off, but windows opened, so I can listen to the chatter and every stroke of the pick on guitar. From the looks of it, the company is my age—they have played Wo Lamhay, Tum he tou ho, Wake me up when September ends, The Fray. I don’t know why but it makes me feel connected. Millennials, the depressed generation, the pioneers of social media, generation with the highest suicide rate—we somehow find the reason to connect. The boy who sings is a little rough with his voice but he plays the instrument alright. He plays Wo Lamhay while I carry out ablution, plays Tum he tou ho, while I pray and think about a thousand things unconsciously that the song reminds me of. I’ve started reading W.B Yeats today and was planning to finish a part of the book but the music from my window asks me to write—about unfinished tasks, unfulfilled promises, almost-happiness, driving at night without the music on, unresolved resolutions, lists on my phone and in my notebook and about people close to my heart; in books, in pictures and in real life.

Two of the boys sing Atif’s Ye Meri Kahani and I remember the first the time I heard the song. I still think about the little optimistic girl I used to be. It’s like a reel unraveling. I wonder how it would be moments before you’re going to die. Are there going to be flashbacks? Of good moments and the worse? Or is it going to be all blank? No memories retained, nothing lost?

It has started to rain. Boys have stopped playing. Winter is over. I do not await the summer.

The Homely Feeling

Hum bhool gae har baat magar tera piyar nahi bhoolay

Kia kia hua dil ke sath, magar tera piyar nahi bhoolay

We forgot everything but we did not forget your love/ whatever happened to the heart but did not forget your love

I stand in the light bluish marbled floor lounge, a seven year old, scowling at the cassette playing Lata on the tape. It’s a cold Sunday morning, the light entering through the long horizontal windows that run along the upper edge of the wall with the entrance door, throwing squares of clean sunlight in the living room which is the center of activity on most weekend days. The cassettes play Lata (or her sister, you can never tell who), Rafi and Mehdi Hasan alternating between the three every weekend—their songs audible in all rooms while my father polishes his shoes for the week and mother makes breakfast and then lunch. Often my father sings along with the singer just to tease us, or maybe not, but we get annoyed by the two singers now singing in chorus, one of the them slightly offbeat. All we want to do is, turn on the TV on a Sunday and watch it for the rest of the day. But we wait till the shoes are polished and other weekly house chores done; till the cassette (or one of its sides) has ended, and someone from the siblings stealthily switches it off and turns on the TV instead.

I stand in the marbled floor lounge, eight years old, nine years old, ten years old, listening to Baharo Phool Barsao, Jo Waada Kia Wo Nibhana Paray Ga, Choudhween Ka Chaand ho, until I can’t remember when the songs stopped playing on Sundays, when I started singing along with Rafi, when I finally understood meaning of lyrics or played one of those songs when I was alone and feeling low; but years later when I come across an old song somewhere from those cassettes, in the car, at a dhaaba or a fancy desi restaurant, I am transported back to our old house—bare feet on the cold marbled floor with indistinct noise of the kitchen’s exhaust fan whirring and my father’s clear strokes of brush on his shoes—I think about how home is sometimes a feeling, a nostalgia, an unconscious learning of being at ease with your past.

 

Of Organizing

In my struggle to make sense of this otherwise unpredictable world, I had always resorted to organizing things around me. I knew I couldn’t control time, so I naturally became its treasurer.

I would organize my work bag IMG-20181103-WA0053-1once a month, save all my receipts, undo my closet twice a month and redo it, clean all the surfaces regularly that I would come in contact with, stack books over one another either by their themes or titles or size, make elaborate notes of readings so neat and organized that some of those are still being used by my younger siblings; give away clothes and shoes I wasn’t wearing anymore to clear space, and categorize pieces of cleaning cloths based on things they would clean. My workspace would always have all the things I needed and not an ounce more. I would either shred papers I didn’t need or reuse them. I wouldn’t call myself a clean freak but I had a fascination for organization–obsession if you would. My computer has layers and layers of folders organized into themes, categories, dates and time so I would never forget what happened when.

But then a point came when I started to forget—things, minute events, scheduled work, deadlines—replaced by memories that I wanted to suppress. It wasn’t all of a sudden, but I all can remember is, I slowly began procrastinating on my organization, because I was scared to admit that the disorder around me was due to chaos in my mind. What was once a source of contentment was slowly turning into mayhem. It was deeply disturbing and impeding—more like blockages in the veins but I had so much to do and had so little time. In a haste of losing, and disbelief of what I had already lost, I began setting reminders and alarms and sticking scribbled notes to things to remind me of what I needed to do.

At a point it became so overwhelming that I couldn’t trust what I had written for myself. So I decided to return to organizing. I began from scratch. Little by little. I emptied my bags. Washed them. Filled them first with things of necessity, then of leisure. Made new playlists while listening to old ones, to remind me of passage of a lifetime that once was. Transferred years of data in a hard drive should my computer decide to pull a stunt like me. Undid and redid my wardrobe on the basis of frequency of clothes I wore. Gave away some. Deposited my old receipts and cleared my workspace both at work and home. Felt my head a hundred pounds lighter.

I’m still working on remembering stuff. But it’s so much easier. Because I’ve accepted what happened was the best it could have rather than questioning why it really happened. I know some things are not in our control and time will fly but we need some reins to make sure things that are ours—our imagination and the space that elevates it—remain that way.

 

Flight

Violins.
A play in reversal.
The last tea.
Sunshine dripping through the windows.
Clinking of spoons and tea cups.
Violins.
Jacket hugging the chair–picked up,
Footsteps on the wooden floor.
Footsteps following the footsteps.
Violins.
Last day, last night.
Last dance in a quick time lapse,
Violins – bringing back the last 10 years.
Dropped tea cups
Screams and cries
on the thirtieth floor
at 12 am,
blinded by the lights of the skyline.
Violins, hugs and sobs.

Violins

embraces, trembling waves, goodbyes.
Violins
Flights late at night.
Violins,
Farewells,
and never ending sighs.

Violins

Footsteps in another land.

Violins
Nostalgia, pain and frights.

Redundant

Dang.
It happened yet again.
How many times
after you really understand?
Manipulated, exploited–excruciating pain,
for you they all turned out to be games.
In a land with no beaches,
Mountains I heard and yes, trees with leeches.
‘It’s just a statement’–but times changed.
And so did the seasons.
When temperatures dropped below
I only had cold dry winds that blew,
taking me away from us, from me and you.
The city no longer existed – the memories, laughs or the trees,
Nor did the bling that connected it with you.
And then the chains, the winters came-
the new year that brought you.

You blame me for knowing.
But how would I know?
Oh yes, the hints. The cues,
that shit.
The needles kept pricking,
and the time kept ticking
Until one day
I lost my friend–I lost you.
Only the climax was,
I was this close to changing you.