I was walking home the other day, it was 10:47 and pouring. Unbeknownst to me my phone had taken a few interesting decisions.
Between 10:45 to 10:47 I received several calls from an Uber driver it had ordered. I never noticed and the Uber guy cancelled. For all our troubles Uber had charged us 47 rupees. Naturally I was quite annoyed, and while running water for a bath I noticed there were several other apps that had been opened while I thought my phone was safe in my pocket.
Mostly nonsense, of course, it had opened a few notes. The first was the Uber guys number, the URL for an ad. It had chosen a background- leaves and a green tone, some superfluous feature I never even knew it had. The second, bare note, was what was interesting though. In that note between the “BBBBbbbbgggF”, the “wheeeeeeeeeeenghdf” and other clear indications of falling asleep at the screen, there’s someone pouring their heart out.
It takes a bit of deciphering but between all the button mashing, there’s a letter. It’s like a page from a diary, a long conversation between friends something you wouldn’t forget. Yet I’ve not read that note before, a story about a senior and dealing with friends, a log from someone I don’t know on my phones. There’s no sharing feature, no names and no trace beyond a 10:47 time stamp. Just someone’s deepest, darkest thoughts they wouldn’t even share with a journal, brought to my phone between rain and a walk.
The man had dedicated himself to looking away. It did not matter when or who walked out the store, you would see his back facing you, his face staring intently at something across the street, his arms were folded for effect. Perhaps not the best course of action for a watchman, but that’s how he was.
I always made it a point to hand my bills to him, which pleased him greatly. Maybe he was so firmly turned to the road because other patrons weren’t polite enough to handover their bills so that he could punch them. Today he informed me that it was raining. An odd thing to do I suppose but rather insightful of him. I’d hardly been paying attention to the fact that it was poring outside the store. I wonder how he figured that out.
The supermarket had new hoardings welcoming people in Koramangla. Of course nothing else in the store was new. People stopped their bikes and scrambled under the store’s awnings. They murmured and muttered, careful not to get too loud.
The surge of people felt threatening, the watchman punched his punch machine aggressively, perhaps marking his territory. It worked, people seeped out before the rain had really let up and he was back to staring at the road. Perhaps not a satisfying ending but I thought it was as curious entrance he ended up making between a day dream of mine.
Hypnosis by fire is not just for moths. Fires pull in people, fires become the beating heart under cities, fires gathered stories from primordial men fleeing the night.
It might have begun with a power cut- after life mostly bubble wrapped in modernity, he might have noticed the candle light drawing in insects. The light stays with you after you close your eyes, if you concentrate that is. Behind closed windows, far and towering above him, hounding him into a cold evening, he could still see orange lights tinging the curtains.
Madness, nostalgia or instinct? Maybe all- fire starter, Pyromaniac.
A woman laughes without any hesitation cutting right through the neighborhood, reaching me on the 7th floor.
Small towns have large areas of quiet, parking and shaded greenery that lull you into a sort of luxurious laze. No wonder life seems more pleasant here. Looking down you’ll see just green cover, the coconuts trees give away the boundiers between homes, every house has them.
Maybe apartments makes voyures of us all. Natural vantage points and a view right into your neighbors home. I can see my neighbors at their worst, their uninhibited habits and routines, glimpses of who they are when no one’s looking. It’s like trees across seasons, changing habits and routines slowly but in circles. The same arguments, the same hunched positions at their tables.
I see right into the apartment across the street where others also look for the laugh. There’s no one we can see, only a few dogs sleeping on roofs. They make the best of the steep incline that the neighborhood is on.
I can smell the sea in the air so I stay on the balcony while the rest retreat indoors. It’s a smell you grow fond of.
A lazy motorists makes his way into his yard behind the apartment. He’s got a stream behind him and space he’s done nothing with. The moss grows green on his walls. All old house, old neighborhoods and old memories are closed off by green, green moss. Everything goes back to sleep.
Nobody appreciates a rain coat till they’re on a two wheeler in the rain. It’s herd mentality. The drizzles might as well be some large carnivore that has the two wheelers running. The cars just stand around like overconfident buffalo on the savanna, which some might argue is how they always are.
Not to get carried away with the analogies but you can’t help but watch documentary style. First the herd follows the safe path, pushing and shoving till they’re safe. In this case this was the little stretch of road under the metro. Every bit of cover counts since the crowd was already so drenched you could see their inner-wear. For once it was the scooters pushing the cars of to the side.
By the side of the roads everyone paused to stuff their phone someplace safe. Everyone stops ahead of the parked auto, and everyone after them parks a little ahead, till you’ve got a line along the road that’s stopping, stuffing phones and starting till you hit the signal. The signals always seem to be a nice place to watch people try to find cover and always make me wonder if the bus drivers speed up to cause mayhem to make their drives a little more interesting.
Problem is you aren’t much of a documentarian when you’ve got rain on your glasses. You aren’t much of a driver either but the roads are empty, you aren’t going to be hearing (or seeing any rude comments). No risk at all really. Gives you an insight into the savanna too. While the pedestrians glare at you, the other motorists wish they had the same shelter and scream fresh hell because you’re driving slowly to enjoy the rain while they drown- nobody enjoys the savanna more than the idiots behind the camera. You don’t have to live the rain at all just watch as everyone else struggles to survive 🙂
Too much of everyday experience seems to arrange itself into metaphors. Metaphors I didn’t ask for or don’t know what to do with.
I can only hope the protagonist does well and list ones as they spring to mind-
I’ve got a wisdom tooth coming in, it doesn’t hurt- I have plenty of room for them actually. If only I had any appetite left or any wisdom to chew on.
I haven’t had insomnia in a while now. In fact I’m sleepy all the time. But after all my dosing and yawning I still haven’t got a single dream to show for it.
Bird cages become terrible things if you think about them. They seem to come from a ancient manors covered in dust and with white drappings over furniture. When empty there’s a soft melancholy that comes with rusted, black bars that might break if you pushed hard. A swing is just more lonely when there isn’t a bird on it.
Putting a bird in won’t makes things much better. I’m not one for heavy handed metaphors but it’s hard to image any contentment coming from anything that could claim the entire sky, being restricted to a tiny cage. It’s damnation. Insanity for birds and condemning man to be a callous and unfeeling thing, amused by petty, pretty suffering. Color the cage with your own horrid indifference, the bird might not have much time for you either.
My neighbors either poets or masters of atrocity have gone a step further. In their grotesque tower that looms over the entire neighborhood they got a cage on the highest floor. Rather than put any birds in their cage, they’ve found themselves a better metaphor- they’ve caged light. In a corner they’ve wasted for a concrete, meaninglessly stylized balcony that no one can reach they’ve put a solitary light bulb that’s lit for no one in particular.
In fact I don’t think anyone would bother to look that far beyond the trees, street lights and other squalor all the way up a rich mans house. Maybe they think it looks good no matter how futile; another ornate holding for us to want. I’m not sure they’d take much notice of it themselves so there it glows, in an uninterrupted darkness. Unseen and meaningless, trapped above us all.
There’s nothing to take you back like nostalgia. Maybe cause nostalgia doesn’t have to bother with reality. Reality can never hope to be as perfect thanks to the continued existence of most things.
I always like asking people who were in Joseph’s before I joined it, if things were the same. Did the sun feel the same when it set, do they dream like I did while looking over the banyan, and I wonder just how much of them was left behind- in the air, in the memories of others who we had to feel but didn’t see. What could I have missed and who would I have know? Would we share the same nostalgia?
I ask them these things, in so many words, without saying anything. You might think it’s funny but I ask them about geography, how classes were spread out, how they remember going from one memory to another. Nobody thinks about routine and it melts in memory, something too subconscious for them to reflect on. I draw meaning from it like you’d draw prophecies from tarot cards- except the prophecies point in a different direction.
It’s frustrating how so much seems like the same mundane but with killer details hiding just where I can’t find them, were I can’t understand them. Retro photographs with so much of the same but different.
I’ll reappropriate what sometime once said about men writing about women -A facination with different memories is nothing but a facination with my own doubts, the feeling of uncanniness. What I feel is the same as what one feels in the face of any mirror, any ghost in the face of abrupt reappearance of what one thought lost or overcome.
The nostalgia other people share with you threatens everything you left behind, worrying you with something better, something too simply different. It’s pulls you back, it pulls you apart from different pasts. You might as well stay lost in where you’re familiar.
We played the part like ancient sea gods thundering and hooting while the boats crashed. We laughed and cheered urging the boats on, throwing in monsters and divine smite. Now and then we were the cyclopes hurling boulders as Sinbad fled our island.
Little paper men, our tortured creations struggled on their boats. They were crudely made and wouldn’t survive the water but that’s all they were made for. Irritated fish would take a few peck to our delight, and small whirlpools doomed the sailors who got far.
I wonder if any survivors made it to calmer waters, green ponds and muddy mangrove inlets. It would have been a long journey past much larger fish who liked to ply the surface of the river as if they really thought they were sea monsters, past birds bathing and swooping down in hunger and in the company of the snails who liked to hitch a ride on everything they came by.
By some mossy green pebbles the paper men might have melted with their paper boats ending on a well deserved journey to Valhalla.
I keep a dream journal and while my dreams themselves are too sophisticated in the mundane they aren’t totally incomprehensible. The best entries are the shortest, a mix of sleep, dream and the indescribable:
Dec 27- I’m two blond twins, nearly done with splitting in two- cytokineses makes us mumble incoherently , both of us have orange pupils colored like a bulb filament with none of the warmth.
January 16- We’re around something. I see that it’s armored and think praise has made too much of it.
October 3- In traffic, long curvy cues of cars, I follow the line in my head and get dizzy. The world twists and turns while my mind went the same way. I drank honey, lemon and pepper and it made my throat feel weird and golden while the world broke.
October 23- On the road; navigating. Someone wants to cross over and someone else jokes about the virtues of staying on the middle path. A truck rushes through him while he jokes, and he turns into a tail like shadow behind it.
Nov 6- Draw a mirror with someones soul trapped in it. D says it’s a great drawing. I say yes, it’s you in there after all.
Nov 23- Hold court, defeat, happiness- keep waiting. For what exactly?