Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Blue Women

“I got you something.”

“What? Ooooh, that’s my favorite brand, how did you know?”

“I didn’t know, I just liked the color of the packet. Don’t some famous people smoke Camel?”

“And what’s this written on the pack?”

“That’s a little poem for you,” I smiled.

“Yeah, lemme see how you flirt with your women. With poems, huh?”

She reads the short poem . . .

“I’m very much a prose person, and hey, wherefrom did you get the notion that I flirt? I gottu find out who’s responsible for all this damage.”

She is taller than I expected. When I first saw her, it was from a distance, and from another perspective. Tall, with her hair falling on her forehead and eyes, she made a pretty picture. Sharp eyes, I noticed. Why did she say I would find her unwomanly? I was already pretty conscious of being in the presence of a strong, beautiful woman, who probably likes to call all the shots in a relation. But we are not friends yet. We are gauging the possibility of a friendship in this. I am. Maybe she isn’t even thinking.

“Okay, so every time there will be something that burns out? Hmm, candles, perhaps?”

“Hey, guess what, I wanted to get you aromatic candles. Only didn’t find time to go to Forum. They have some nice candles there.”

“But good you got the ciggies, Manas. Do you want to smoke a joint?”

“That’s what I’ve come for,” I lied. I had come to meet a woman, perhaps watch her out of the corner of one eye, or maybe even stare. I can look at beautiful women for hours on end. But so can you all. I have stared at these stills on my desktop for hours. I am exaggerating . . . not hours, probably a few minutes.

She meticulously filled her bong with some exotic weed. From Kerala, she informed. While she was at it, I lapped up all there was to offer in her room. There were these acrylic paintings that she told me about. Very vibrant colors, and some of them were worth a second look. Almost all of them, in fact. I think, out of the seven paintings displayed on the walls, I didn’t like one. One that I, with my limited levels of art appreciation, couldn’t make any sense of. She calls it Blue Women.

"You know what, one Suraj Mansukhani wanted to buy Blue Women. He offered an absurdly high price."

"Yeah, I know him. He is obssessive, people say. He can go to any length to get what he wants. Have you ever met him?"

"No, man . . . in fact I have an exhibition coming up. My paintings are never for sale. If I am not driving a merc, who cares? I paint for myself. For some friends too at times."

Will she ever paint something for me one day? I will wait, perhaps. Perhaps not.

After the smoke, everything became lighter. I realized I was rather stiff till then, sitting across the breadth of her living room, facing her, watching. What is she thinking? The intros are over, as in mine is. I never wanted to know anything about her. Somehow I find it difficult to ask too many questions for the sake of a conversation. I also realize that the weed has opened some valve in my brain that was bringing out words from Babel.

So I talk, looking into her eyes. Her intense, piercing eyes. What is she thinking, I find myself wondering again. We are talking about short stories now.


PTI 22 March, 2005: The famous painter Arundhuti was found dead in her condominium yesterday. The police suspected suicide but the post mortem report found poisoning as the cause of death. The police found some foreign cigarettes laced with poison among her belongings. They found no fingerprints, just a short poem scribbled on the pack. The investigating officer refused to comment.

Tomorrow there is an auction of Ms Arundhuti's paintings.


The phone rings.

"Hello, Manas speaking . . ."

"Hello, Mr Mansukhani? There's some good news for you," it was my agent Vinod, "we picked up Blue Women."

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Letter from Nowhere to "Catherine" in Pune

rishikesh is where my mom wanted to go for her vanaprastha . . . only she dint live long enough. she wasnt religious. a nonbeliever, actually. but rishikesh to her was this place with a pleasant weather up in the hills . . . no pollution, and better still, no family to look after.

she never wanted a family. one mistake was to get married. was never forgiven for that mistake. she never wanted a child. she told me that she wanted her own life. but she never could have one.
wish i could give her life back to her.

from her i learned that you should not compromise on anything that you want in life for others. you die a sad death. there are happy deaths and there are sad deaths. hers was a sad death. although she never realized how she was dying, she still had many unfulfilled wishes. many.

i have many wishes too. i will try to fulfil them in this lifetime. because, unlike you, i don't believe in an afterlife. wish i were a hindu. then i could be born as a butterfly away from the reach of cruel children. again, somewhere in the hills.
so, if i ride my bike to the hills tomorrow, don't blame me. i will be doing it for my mom. because that's something i wish for. doing something for the memory of my mom.

my mom i never got the chance to know.

i never saw my mom in you. you were always like the younger sibling. wayward, lacking discipline. wish i could cane you sometimes. cane you into sanity. back to sanity? or maybe you were never sane at all? maybe you were this insane little girl roaming around the lake, testing the murky water for pollution and waiting for the moon on top of that hill.

i saw in you a lot of unbridled energy . . . which i used to get back on my own two feet. so when i moved ahead . . . i left you weaker, while i was strong. fresh as a young gorilla ready to lick the world single-handed. who said that? Carl Muller?