Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
Life brought your toes up my shin
Like the message in a bottle came to the shore
When I ran myself up your lane, though
Was it time for you to reason or run?
"And then, the permutations of age brought me to twenty-six and you became twenty-three or so. It was still you though, this time thrown in together with me at a crucial juncture of our lives. Traveling salesmen don't have it easy, and as we rode my scooter from one client to another in the summer, it was just us clutching on to each other for comfort. If my sales dwindled one month, you covered up for me, and I did the same for you. You were way smarter, just like you were ten years back and I happily became your sidekick. We traded clients, covered up for each other but nobody minded as long as the sales figures didn't go down. I knew I couldn't live without you but couldn't tell you so. You told me ten years later. Ten years too late, don't you think? And why? Your black Peshawar eyes still dance my blues away."
A button-less shirt that can hardly cover a bust, I wanted so you don't see the tears
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Three: So, how did you feel when your wife left you?
Me: I felt bad. I was in love with her and had absolutely NO clue that it wasn't working for her. What hurt most was how abrupt it was.
Three: Did it ever occur to you that you perhaps brought some arrogance into the relationship with your good looks? (he stared deep into my eyes now...is he complimenting me? is he referring to One being handsome?)
Me (this was difficult to answer, posing as a handsome man!): I can't help being handsome and, by the way, where did you notice the arrogance? I was just doing my job as a husband. I used to buy her flowers, I took her out regularly, and even went with her to her concerts.
(We were given a lot of details about the characters we would have to pose as, and I did my bit of homework. One's wife plays the violin and often had these concerts at various places in India and abroad. She has even worked with Dr L. Subramaniam and Jean Luc Ponty, so I could see where the breach must have come from. One wasn't possibly as intellectually inclined or capable as her and probably couldn't provide her any stimulation or useful company. But being in his shoes, I had to defend him.)
Me: We married knowing our vastly different backgrounds because there was love. I can't appreciate Carnatic Classical music and she knew my limitations. But then she doesn't know about software either. I am one of the best programmers at Oracle and even have five patents in the US for my work on the Oracle 8 database. So the basic premise was love. If it had worn out for her so soon, she could have told me, given me a hint at least? You can't just walk out on someone just like that? I still can't believe it."
This entire exercise was very emotionally draining. We all had to shelve our own problems, read up about the other person, enact his/her role ignoring the fact that the person being discussed is present in that room, in the darkness, probably fuming. There were many gasps and grunts, and at one point when Three was enacting me, I protested. He had read me all wrong. He kept talking about how I pushed Shobhan away. I didn't want to agree with that, but Dr Rao asked me to sit quietly. Was this therapy? What shit was this? How could Three read into my mind so well? How the hell does he know that I was the one who drove Shobhan up the wall? Oh my god!
I hated him for this. I wanted to hit him on the head. I kept thinking about Three the entire evening and late into the night. Who is he? Why was he so cocksure? And as my tablets started taking effect the hatred turned into reluctant lust. I noticed his thighs today. And when he stared deep into my eyes, I could feel something stirring in my tummy. My friend Sohini says her tummy hurts when she's aroused. I was not thinking of him, I wasn't aroused. You just notice these things but then you don't really act on them, do you? One asked me if I really found him handsome, to which I said he should actually ask Three about it because it was him who brought it up. How irritating. No wonder his wife left him and is perhaps composing music in Luc Ponty's studio, sitting naked with him. Serves you right, you prick.
The classes were going on fine for many months and we were even given our real identities after that exercise on Trust. We were made to fall backward trusting the person behind us to break the fall. It takes a hell lot to let go. I waited for my turn to be held by Three and when I fell backward, he held me firmly from behind, making my knees buckle. He is Pranjal, an Assamese. He told me about the accident but wasn't very curious about my husband. I asked her why he assumed I was the one who drove Shobhan mad and he said he was just playacting and that unless he added some color, it would have got really boring. Should I tell him the truth? Never.
He has asked me out next week. We will go to CCD Jayanagar, perhaps. He says he will come over in his jeep and pick me up sometime in the morning. He wants to drive around aimlessly and also mentioned that he might "abduct" me, which I didn't understand quite. This wait, this anticipation is so exciting, I end up shaking my leg a lot. I do that when am excited. Don't you? I can't show him my excitement. Was I too hasty in saying yes? What will he make of it? What have I said yes to anyway? Nothing. He says he wants to abduct me. Does he mean keep me for good? Gotta wait and find out.
"Hi, you're late."
"Yeah darling, what to do...the same bullshit routine...how did your Friday yoga classes go?"
"Oh those, Shobhan? Boring, as usual. Sushma is like good, but not brilliant."
"Hmm...why go then?"
"Just need to do something on Friday evenings, don't I? Did you get the veggies I asked you to?"
"Yeah, but I couldn't find those fat aubergines...what are those called? BT Brinjals?"
"Daddyyyyyyyyyy" a little girl runs into the room and straight into his lap.
"Oh Trisha baby, my woogly baby...lemme rinse me hands first?"
She'd scribbled descriptions of all the articles on post-its behind the postcards and photographs. There was one paper napkin she'd saved from our visit to Lori's Diner. Neatly folded and as white even after being mothballed in the yellow manila for more than two years now. That evening at Lori's Diner we ordered one banana split, which, when it arrived, had us gasping.
It was a very big banana.
And then there were these unused BART tickets that she never used. Just so I could save them as memories. All this prompted me to shoot off an e-mail to her. As I waited for a reply, I thought about the last evening we spent sitting on abandoned railroad tracks facing a lake.
"Why didn't I meet you in school?"
"Yeah, that would have been nice. You'd have been this tall girl two classes my senior, on whom I'd have had a crush. And we could have gone biking in abandoned wastelands."
"Why abandoned? Why not on streets with cars? Or people?"
"Then I wouldn't have to share you with anybody else's gaze. I could watch you in peace."
"Oks, let it be abandoned wastelands then."
We didn't speak for a long time after that. She was dropping me to the airport that night and I still hadn't packed.
I didn't get a reply to my e-mail the next day. The message came back saying there were permanent, fatal errors with the address.
Monday, February 14, 2011
The first car came and went after four years. She never tried it. The second one was a relatively new jeep, which she tried driving a couple of times. She managed pretty well given the jeep's steering sends you zero feedback about the road and the brakes lend you no confidence at all. I was getting hopeful that one day from the jeep she will graduate to a truck. I was proving people wrong and would take videos of her at the helm, with the jeep doing most of the driving. Driving this jeep is like taking your St Bernard out to walk and letting him take control of you, so sometimes I wondered if she was driving at all or just sitting there, pretending to.
But she was the driver indeed, as all her four licenses (from four different Indian states) stated with authority. It is criminal to have more than one license in this country, but you can have as many as you like. This probably explains why she makes a U-turn every time there's a cop on the road. Once at this junction the traffic lights weren't working and the cop was managing the traffic. When he gestured towards us, she made a sudden U-turn, pushed the smallish car in the right lane onto the median, and sped back towards home. I realized most of our weekend outings would go waste if all we did was to go a certain distance and turn back because there were cops on the road. I took over. And she went to the passenger side.
Our child, who watches most of his classmates being ferried from home by their driving moms, was waiting to show off a jeep-driving mom, but that was not to be. Using the cops as an excuse, she gradually forgot to drive, like she forgot how to ride a bicycle. Unbelievable, but true. I tried reasoning that we should keep only the local license in the jeep and put the rest in the locker, but her fear of cops probably has something to do with her being a criminal in her past life, as her mother poignantly observed from the rear seat.
Meanwhile, people from the past, who had pitied me for having taken up such an impossible task, started showing up on various social networks. Some were fat, some were beautiful, some divorced, some married multiple times, and they were all suddenly curious (after having found me in the virtual world), how I was doing as far as buying a truck was concerned. I argued for a while that a jeep can also be called a truck, but that was what we had initially settled for years back when a truck meant a lorry.
I was generally burnt out with all this drivery I had to do and one fine day just dragged her to a car showroom and made her buy a car. The smallest available because she had forgotten how to handle the breadth of the jeep and wanted to start with a small car. Easy on the pocket in the long run, frugal, and peppy, so we were generally happy. Although it was a step backward (jeep > truck being the logical progression), I welcomed it with open arms. Finally someone is going to share some of the burden of driving and she can soon move from the small one to the jeep to eventually a truck. And then I will show my Facebook friends what a gentleman's promise really means. And she started driving.
First with a lot of trepidation, seat pulled to the front, eyes glued to the road, one foot on the clutch, one hand on the gearknob, one husband by her side. The husband in turn had one hand on the handbrake and the other held outside the window to warn all the other vehicles of a potential disaster. But gradually the husband learnt to relax and even breathe at times. One hand came in and the other one came off the handbrake. She moved from one gear to another, and settled for an optimal third, which can take you everywhere inside Bangalore pretty quickly.
All this while the little one was watching this progress from the rear seat. And yesterday when she did a 30 km stretch through relatively crowded roads from the south to the north of Bangalore, he decided to make a suggestion about how to handle the impatient, honking drivers behind you.
"You have to have the confidence of a cow, mamma."
"A cow?" I could almost see her eyebrows taking on this weird shape at this bovine hint. "What do you mean?"
"A cow, simply. What else? Haven't you seen how they don't budge from the road even if you honk? That's confidence. You should also ignore those guys honking behind you. Just like a cow."