i get it. we all had a fabulous year.
move on now. go get drunk.
sukhi evaro, sumukhi evaro
i get it. we all had a fabulous year.
you're not laughing
at my freezing toes
or the pink hearts
on my purple socks.
you're not witness
to romantic nights
with ginger tea
and tomorrow's reading.
you're not asking me
which song is next
beatles or p'njaabi
on your playlist or mine.
i'm stuck in a cold wave
but i doubt that has
anything to do
with the weather.
for me, because my proxy winter now includes a brand new pair of old socks and a third purple sweater. bring on the cold wave, i say!
also for m, because her winter apparently includes a scarf. tsk.
walk away, now.
leave behind your memories
in trinkets on the fridge -
a chocolate wrapper, long forgotten
a photograph, worn at the edges
a bill, for coffee and a book
a parking ticket, and its unfinished song.
but whatever you do, don't forget
to take your smells with you -
some beer, some whiskey
some food, some mint.
old books, cinnamon tea
is that you, or is that me?
i. between sleep and waking
It is a world made up of chance and coincidence, and in this I firmly believe. There were days and nights and days and nights in the past, when I didn't know whether the sun was up, the fog had cleared or the mist had gathered in the winter chill. I like to call this the hibernation phase of my life, when I lived like an animal in a hole in the ground, eating when I felt like it, frozen foods reheated in an old microwave, and getting out of bed only when my body absolutely demanded it. I don't know what led me to drown in that whirlpool, but one day I almost woke up from my sleep, turned in bed and stared at the wall, but it took me ages to feel awake.
I could say that it lasted for that many days, like days that are crossed off on a calendar I could say, two weeks, I could count it, a hundred and twenty four days, for sure, twelve hours, it might have been. But if I have to be true to myself, I won't do it. Because even though I know how many days it actually was, I didn't know it then, and I can't tell for sure even now. Time had no meaning for me, not dusk nor dawn, not lunchtime nor bedtime, not noon nor five o clock, not even am nor pm. I can't even say that time passed by slow as a snail, or time was suspended and the clocks had stopped. Nothing moved for me then, nothing went forward or backward, nothing froze, nothing remained in suspended animation. There simply was nothing, and that's just how it was.
In that state of nothing, my sleep was plagued by a constant nightmare. You can choose how you want to end your dreams, they say. You can choose whether you want to fall or fly. With nightmares, however, you don't really have much of a choice. With nightmares, it's tougher to resolve them. They come into your sleep from the depths of your fears, they hang around in your thoughts and haunt you in your waking hours. They hide everywhere to confuse you, they blind you when it's brightest and make silences frightening. In the night, you're left sleepless, walking about in a daze, trying to compose the world around you, seeing if you actually fit in.
In my nightmare, there was a pale woman who you may call beautiful if not for the fear she inspired, her eyes were cold as the middle of winter, leaving you only with a faint memory of the warmth of the sun. In a twisted way, she is real to me, more real than my neighbor or the woman who sells vegetables, a product of my imagination she may be, but she is closer to my reality than any of my lovers or any of my friends. Even thinking of her now, my stomach clenches in fear, my head feels clouded and my hands go cold. She is my darkest, the only thing that I wish I could cut away from myself.
The woman in my nightmare was the most awe- and terror- inspiring entity I have ever come across. I ran from her for what seemed to be hours, while she consumed the world around me. I rallied, I hid, I taught myself how to fight her, I taught myself how to control my fear, all in my nightmare. I ran and I ran, and the ground was coming apart behind me. I had no strength to turn around to see what she had wrought upon the world. I had an acute sense of what I was running towards - an orange and purple sunset that would save me somehow, the prospect of blue skies that would make me happy again somehow. I could feel feel her behind me, stalking unhurriedly, her wicked smile piercing my neck as everything melted away to it.
Once, and only once I would turn around to see her. It was when I turned around to see her, every single time I turned around to see her, without exception, that the nightmare would end and I would wake up. Almost. Even today, I can't come to terms with what I saw. I don't know what it was that I saw in her face, or what it was that I saw in her eyes, or what it was about her smile that made everything inside me shrivel up. It was in this nightmare that I lived when I lived in the hole I dug for myself. I lived in the world that was dying away, the world in which the beast stalked and that woman took my world away. It was this world that I was clawing my way out of.
ii. the dead of the night
The beast had come to see me in the dead of the night.
It dug its nails into my heels and hauled itself over me.
Before I knew what I was doing,
I screamed and screamed into the dark.
Through my mouth it entered and took a hold of me.
In my shock I gave in, in my shame I surrendered,
before I knew what had happened,
that beast was me and I was the beast.
I looked into the mirror in the morning.
I saw, I saw that I could not see.
What would the mirror know, but for what it was shown?
What would the mirror show, but for the facets that it knows?
There I was before it, plain as plain could be.
My hair was flat, my lips were dry, my eyebrows completely out of shape.
If you saw my eyes you’d know, if you looked within you’d see,
I was the beast within, I was within the beast.
I wrapped the cold around me, darkness came in clouds.
In the mist I walked the night, in the fog I stalked.
When I saw people, I knew what I was, for sure.
For all I could see was flesh and blood, all I could hear was the sound of hearts,
all I could smell was the stink of fear, and all I could feel was their anger.
Fallen people everywhere, sex, drugs, alcohol,
on the roads I walked all night, feeding on greed and lust.
If they searched their nightmares, they’d find my beloved beast.
If you searched my beast, you’d only find me.
It was a winter for my heart, a grey winter whose ice I lay beneath. I lay there timelessly, pulling myself together, dreaming my nightmare over and over again. In between lapsing into sleep and waking in fear with her face etched in my mind, the world was a blur, one moment swirling into the next, one smell as insipid as the other. What I thought as 'I' was strewn everywhere formlessly, gathering dust and memories to find its way together again. What I thought as 'I' was forming itself anew, it seemed, realigning itself to this strange thing I now call reality.
I ran and ran as fast as I could, until one day I stood my ground. I remembered somehow that I wasn't to look, I remembered her tricks and her guile. I could see her face in my mind if I tried, in the mind of my dreams. She was coming towards me, this I could tell, in long paces, relaxed and calm. In my mind, I knew who she was. I knew that I had to save myself, I knew I had to try.
I told myself a story, I sang a lullaby. I told myself about the girl who married the king. What did she do for thousand nights and one, that she couldn't sleep at all? Did her dreams die unseen, did their lies not sing? I told myself about the girl who slept a hundred years. What did she think of the prince's kiss when she finally woke? Did she find him in her dreams, did he kiss her there? I told myself about the man who slept for twenty years. What did he feel when his home was gone when he finally woke? Did he dream of days gone by, did his nights feel true?
That was when I felt again, that was when I woke - The sun was rising in the east in an orange and purple dawn.
to himself, far away:
a guitar occasionally
a chill in the air
and lazy sunlight
when i woke up
to a december
and the end of the year.
and then, out of nowhere she said, "i love you".
i was so taken aback for a second, i didn't really know how to respond. i hesitated. i mumbled something even i didn't hear. before i knew what to say, that moment had passed. we just stood there awkwardly, hand in hand, the waves coming up to our toes, and the sun going down. i could tell she was totally appalled at my lack of response. we walked back slowly and bought ourselves more beer. we spent the rest of the evening making the most perfunctory conversation.
to this day, i wonder how that would have turned out if i had said it. "i love you too."