À mes meilleurs amis

I don’t usually write requests so I’m not sure where this is going. Graduating is a weird thing, so weird that I feel awkward even writing about it. I’m not really sentimental but it’s really been eating my head.

I went to a college interview today. It was boring and I had plenty of time to mull over it it, realizing that I really was graduating. The thing about Joseph’s is that it kinda feels like no one has any lives outside it. It was nice having the two of you around because I might have gone crazy otherwise. It’s funny how most of my best friends from Joseph’s are people who graduated long before I did.

In fact I think the only time I ever saw you in college when I was trying to figure out who was whistling at me in the PG canteen. A warning of things to come. I told Mel how nice the sun was and your eyelids looked like the wings of a bird about to fly.

I hope you don’t mind if I hijack this response for allegory.

People go on and on about how everything used to be great and meant so much to them. Well to be honest life is usually just mundane. Eventually you have so much mundane stuff to do in other places you forget why you cared about a college or friend so much. One day you see seniors eating near the ground, then no one eats there and then you realize the college hasn’t had much of a ground for a year now.

You can always keep your friends but they’ll never be the same people to you. The college you talked about was uncanny. The same thing but smaller, with emptier places, and thinner teachers. Nobody in your stories behave how I think they should and I have a terrible suspicion that maybe things used to be better in the college. I’ll be sure to say we’re better than our juniors at least.

Stupid posturing aside I’ll miss the three of us, the endless arguments about TW and Maoism, my stupid batch-mates and friends I spend too much time around and the fishbowl Joseph’s has been.

I guess I’ll have plenty of time for nostalgia later. You said it best- “Thank you for all the memories.”

Ave

Hello distance,

You’ll always have me

Remember.

 

Your endless laughter,

Your skin like summer.

Why do you lament?

Just lend me your lips

So I can sweeten them.

 

Lift your head through storms

At least we’ll have those days

Which went on forever

Like your curls and the depth

Of your light brown eyes.

 

Tell me your dream again,

No tolls for the emperor of dread

No one has escaped yet.

 

Tears from Ceylon

Won’t cut through fate.

I’ll remember crimson grins

and flowers in your hair.

 

Write to me, dear friend.

We’ll see where we go.

Grounded flight

A pet store next to a wide road. It’s nearly a basement and inside are birds, fish and household pets. But mostly just birds.

The cats circle at your feet and paw at the hamster cages. Fish in segregated aquariums covered in dirt and murky water. There are baby cockatoos in an incubator.

Apart from the smell of bird droppings, the only constant in the store is the screeching of its avian residents. The noise is shrill and constant but the people at the store are used to it. Every bird they have from every continent have had their wings clipped.

They’ll go to rich houses to live in metal cages. Really a special kind of hell.

Across the map

All the things you said,

It’s not enough.

It’s not enough,

That you have it going on.

 
Show me your hand

You’re never playing

It doesn’t match your fate.


I feel like silence,

But not when you’re​ around

I love the way, the day feels today.

 
Are you afraid 

while I look your way?

We should have stayed home.

But now we know,

No forgetting now.


Put some wind in your hair,

While we run away,

Never leave us out.




Out of light

The smell of burning wax always takes me back. Somehow life isn’t the same without the weekly power cuts we had in Mangalore.

I remember conspiring about aliens with my cousins. We’d star watch but we were usually inside. In the bungalow’s indoor corridors people would walk with candles in hand, the shadows and light like slow cars on a highway. People would gather around the candles but stayed just out of its reach. Outlines and feet were all you could see. I guess every liked staying just out reach.

Everyone would stop what they were doing. I can’t say what because we all stuck to our own rooms and balcony spaces.Maybe it’s instinct when you live in huge joint family. But they were around, now and then they’d venture conversation never really leaving their bits of darkness. They’d smile when they knew their smiles were just out of sight. I’d sneak around them, behind sofas and conversations happy that’d I’d manage to sneak by unnoticed. You hear a lot you weren’t supposed to; I’d follow their lead and smile while I was out of sight, out of light.

For some reason we’d always gravitate towards the candle, no one went outside while the candles were lit. The long windows never figure in my memory; nothing of the city lights that night. A cousin would flick her fingers over the flame and say it never burned her nails.

A step back

Stone steps rise from dirty lawns to reach hopelessly for nowhere.

The sceleton of a compound wall, the wet dirt under unkept bushes. An empty plot filled with the neighbour’s garbage. An electric pole wrapped with so much wire it’s like an insect caught in a cobwebs​. Eighty years ago it was farmland, then a small shack, a home, an apartment, a memory of someone who moved away.

Time passes and forgets but there are still reminders that go way back. Someone lived there. There’s no reason to care but you can see. The steps don’t go nowhere. One they used to lead to someone’s home.