7 June 2018

Summer trip 2018: Kasauli

I’ve dreamed of hills and mountains more often than I’ve visited them.  But sometimes – not too often – but sometimes, dreams, in part, come true. And so I found myself on a trip to Kasauli with Pupu and Suvro da, the last week. The days preceding the holiday deserve a blogpost of their own – but I’ll stick to the trip for this one.

We left at an early 6.30 a.m. Pupu and Suvro da being veteran travelers said we would stop for breakfast on the way. We were waiting at our assigned pick-up point and the driver came along in a few minutes. I had the sinking feeling about the driver for when I called him, he yowled on the phone saying that he had missed CCD and was returning to the pick-up point. We got into the car and were off on the road. The Delhi roads seemed and looked peaceful at that hour. I was sitting in the frontseat and looking about. The highway roads are in excellent shape and if it weren’t for our horrible habit of ignoring lane rules – it could have been a highway from the US. Pupu’s to-be university rose up on the right and she pointed out to it. We stopped at a roadside place for breakfast. The restaurant while it was named Shiva dhaba had a huge three-headed grinning dragon adorning its front. The road journey would have been absolutely fine, despite the heat, if it hadn’t been for the rude and yowling driver who had an uneven and unpleasant temper, kept texting or jabbering over the phone, and insisted upon playing the radio all through the journey. There were toll taxes and state taxes stops as we made our way across Delhi into Haryana, and crossed over to Punjab before journeying into Himachal. The heat was intense. The road in front seemed to be shimmering with rising heat waves. Yet inside the car, it was pleasant. I was waiting for the mountains to fist appear on the horizon, and almost on cue Pupu called out to her father and pointed to the mountains. They appeared as a haze in the distance – barely sketched into the distant landscape. And then came the winding mountain road with cars and buses hurtling in from around the bending road, which always seem to me to disappear into thin air before the road swerves back into one’s vision.

We reached Sukhi Johri, a hamlet in the Shivalik Range. The exact road to the hotel was hard to locate. Suvro da asked at a roadside shop and the owner helped out. The road wasn’t much of a road and when we came to a halt in front of two tracks – one at a sharp decline, winding about the hill and disappearing at a curve and which looked about half a foot in width and another which rose steeply only to end at a gated house/home/could that be our hotel? As we debated and the driver was of no help – Suvro da got out of the car and trotted off on the horsetrack path which disappeared around the curve. I hopped out to ask a couple of men sitting by the roadside – and sure enough they told us to take the road Suvro da had taken. We followed in the car for Suvro da had walked quite far along that narrow footpath. The winding path curved about and it looked like an alarmingly precarious track but Suvro da was walking along nonchalantly and speedily. The car inched forward and the bellboys from the hotel arrived to meet us, and told the driver where to park. I noticed Suvro da standing near the edge of the path and smiling, and he remarked on how apt the name of the hotel was.

It was a little past 2 in the afternoon or so, and I could hear the wind whispering through the pine trees. God knows what secrets and songs the wind was whispering.

The Whispering Winds Villa was truly a lovely place that Pupu had picked on-line with her unerring eye. The rooms with a view and the terrace were delightful.  The Villa was perched high up on that weird and precarious goat track/horsetrack/dirt road but what a lovely, clean forest it was that surrounded it on all sides. The room was a fine one with a view on three sides and my bed was right next to a grand view. The private terrace was all ours since there were no other guests, and the wind kept whispering away, softly and gently and continuously as I stepped out and sat in the shade smiling beatifically and with a somewhat goofy expression on my face, I’m sure. I couldn’t quite believe the sights, sounds and least of all the fact that I was really there with Pupu and Suvro da whose voices I could hear drifting about with the wind in my ears.

I didn’t think I was particularly hungry but as I sat for lunch I polished off more than my fair share of rajma , roti, dahi and salad, and I’m sure I felt guilty later but the deed was done. Very soon after that amidst the looks and comments of disbelief (for the A/C was running – it was rather warm inside the room) from both Pupu and Suvro da, I wrapped myself up in a black and white harlequin-like printed blanket and dozed off into a deep sleep in my bed right next to the huge glass window.

One of the best things of traveling anywhere with Pupu and Suvro da is that one gets to walk about. So after the noon snooze, we went off on a walk. The precarious horsetrack was negotiated and I stayed as far away from the ledge as was possible. The French have some term for the feeling of being pulled and drawn by some force when one is looking down from a height or even glancing at the earth from a height. We reached the curving mountain highway, which was still bustling with trucks, buses and cars. An old, old Sikh man who gave off the distinct but gentle and harmless living-in-his-own-world air and who had greeted Suvro da earlier on in the afternoon when we were trying to locate the hotel road waved to Suvro da as though he were seeing an old friend after a long time. The old Sikh told Suvro da to visit Giani da Dhaba on the other side of the road. We did indeed cross the road after a bit and walked up the slatted stairway to the dhaba. There was an old Sikh woman manning the counter. I’m not sure any more whether we were supposed to have had ice-cream or something else but Suvro da spotted the sign of ‘Chilled Beer” and asked Pupu what she wanted. We ended up sharing a nice bottle of chilled beer among the three of us. The waiter brought out three paper cups and the old Sikh woman scolded the boy softly but roundly and told him to get the glass beer mugs for us. After the beer was over, we walked along the mountain road, enjoying the scenery and avoiding the traffic. A motorbike backfiring noisily made me leap up like a goat. It sounded like some rapid gunshots but otherwise the stroll was idyllic. We walked back to the pine forests along the sides of the hotel. The wind had stopped whispering. Maybe it had gone to sleep. We sat there along some edges and ledges and as the train, which quite honestly looked like a toy train to me with its six little carriages tooted loudly and sonorously – the sound and sights in the middle of the approaching dusk felt like the scenes from some book or film. Pupu and Suvro da were reminiscing about the time that they themselves had travelled on the train so many years ago.

We walked back to the hotel through the gathering dark. By then I couldn’t see much but managed to skip along without falling on my face as Suvro da and Pupu created some trail ahead of me. We went back to the terrace and sat there chatting and admiring the lights and views. Dinner was as tasty – well, even tastier than lunch with chicken curry, rice, yogurt, and a green salad. Thank heavens though that Suvro da had told me to inform the owner that half a chicken was going to be more than enough. I had rather rashly said a ‘sure, fine’ to a whole chicken for the three of us after my mountain-air appetite during lunch. We sat out in the night light for quite a while. The first evening had come to an end, but not quite.

Suvro da, Pupu and I were chatting about myriad things and then out came Parashuram’s book. Suvro da read out – nay, performed the story of the utterly eccentric, bizarre and loveable Lambokorno, the goat. I kept breaking out into hoots of laughter. Pupu couldn’t stop laughing at one point and even Suvro da was laughing while deftly donning roles in the story. The evening and night came to a close with that hilarious and marvelously read-out tale. I stepped out onto the terrace one last time for the night, and could hear the strange cicadas. They make a twanging noise like some musical instrument – a zither, I think would come closest to it. And they keep at it, twanging and twingging away. The lights in the dark and distant hills shimmered and swayed and flickered. Yet the lights closer by stayed still like little unmoving blobs. It was time to go off to sleep and I trudged back in and went off to sleep in my bed near the window. As I tucked up in bed with my black-and-white harlequin patterned blanket – I fell asleep even before I knew I was asleep.

I could feel the sun and the hills even before I fully awoke into consciousness in the morning. After leisurely cups of tea, we proceeded to Giani da Dhaba for a breakfast of aloo parathas, pickles and yogurt.

For the umpteenth time I wondered how lovely it must be for mountain folks (with some money) who can stay in the mountains all their lives and what a Godwaful wrench it must be for those who have to leave and be stuck in the plains for some reason or the other. I feel that way about people who might still have homes near or in the forests and near rivers and in the mountains and even right near the sea sometimes…if it’s the seas – it cannot be in the tropics. That merely gives one a headache in the blast of summer.

Post breakfast it was off to Kasauli – an army and air-force cantonment. We passed the military hospital along the way and I followed it from above the winding mountain roads. I was reminded of the T.V. series M.A.S.H from decades ago. Kasauli was so awfully clean, quaint, quiet, lovely and neat that it seemed like an unreal town. We drove past Christ Church and to the air-force base. Monkey Point or Manki Point – I’m not sure why or how “Manki” came about – is located right within the ramparts of the air-force base, and I found that more than peculiar. Suvro da pointed out that the “Monkey Point” had been there for ages and the vantage point offered to the air-force was something that couldn’t be passed up, and so some reconciliation was made. There were monkeys of all sizes and one toddler monkey was being fed some tidbits by a tourist, and the little monkey was far more polite and sweet than many human beings I have come across. We walked up the slope of a road, and sat upon a bench looking about and around, and then went over to a small shack for some excellent cold coffee. Many of the roads within the cantonment barring the steps leading to the Monkey temple were closed off to civilians. The coffee took awhile in the making but it was awfully good. I watched the dark green military trucks winding up one road and turning into the air-force base and uniformed men coming and going on bikes and on foot, and a little child running about not too far away from his caretaker. Soon it was time to leave and I downed the icy coffee in one lovely delicious gulp. On our walk back to the car, Suvro da shot off the names of the air-force fighter jets – the pictures were gracing the roadsides of the air-force base. From there, we went to the church and a walk around the town of Kasauli. The church itself also looked like it was out of a picture book but I would have preferred far fewer people running about hollering and shouting on the grounds. Inside the church, it was very quiet and there were more than a few lit candles at the altar. The stained glass window had one panel of the Christ on the crucifix. On one of the walls there was a long scroll with The Lord’s Prayer.

From there we took a long and winding walk about the town. The town is so clean and quiet that I loved it. It looked like a town from a dream. There were pretty and large villas dotted all along both sides of the road, and beautiful blooming flowers, and the sun dappled in and out magically from in between the trees. It felt like it should be a little cooler but on the whole, the weather was fine. There were military and army and air-force placards and posters all along the roadsides. A few of them made me wince (and I am a person who from her late 20s wished she had joined the army) There were pictures of military martyrs along with one poster, which kept appearing at intervals that said military men are always prepared to die but they never will. But the roads were lovely and long and a couple of the villas made me sigh. One was named ‘Pahari Villa”. We reached one army stop-post and took a detour and I spotted a little brown puppy sitting very smartly near the army check-point. The off-road track sloped down gently and wound around and along the way we spotted a place called “Blarney Place”. Both Pupu and I remarked that it sounded like it was from an Agatha Christie book. Suvro da painted a picture of words on how the place must have been more than a good century ago. I found myself imagining how the Englishmen, Scotsmen, Welsh and Irish had managed to come up 6000 feet on horses and some basic amenities. The detour road although it was well-shaded felt distinctly warmer and the sun felt like it was shining more brightly near Blarney Place. In a few gentle turns around the mountain road, we spotted the main road. We had made a complete circle back to the army check-point, and I found the brown little puppy whom I petted happily while he wagged his tail nineteen to the dozen. It tried leaping into Pupu’s lap as she bent down to pet the little mongrel. On our way back we paused at one of the rest benches and then stopped by Khushwant Singh’s Villa. It was right against a ridge, a little off the main road – a white house with red paneling. I couldn’t help wondering whether the old Sikh was watching us from somewhere above.

We returned via another road, and Pupu picked up a lovely like birdhouse from a market. I was playing with some bells and looking at the various colourful and interesting little and medium-sized knick-knacks for sale. Back to the car it was after that and the petulant driver wasn’t happy about even driving back to the hotel. Back at the hotel we lazed about and wandered about on “the banks and brae of”, if not the Scottish “bonny doon” of Burns – the Shivalik range. It was enchanting. Pupu asked her father at one point while looking intently at the sky whether it might rain. To me it looked like there was not the slightest possibility of even a wee drop – but what did I know. The pinewood forests had soft and clean turf and I slipped many times by accident and one time I slid a bit on purpose but not once could I slide down all the way with a whoopee or yippee or even a short whee. No. The turf had a mind of its own. Suvro da did not slip even once. Pupu slipped once. We took a few pictures, romped abut a bi’ and then it was back to the room with a view. I dutifully went off for a snooze and without a shred of guilt.

At some point I dreamt I was in the middle of a glorious hailstorm. I should have known it was a dream because I could feel the chill and I could see the hailstones. I woke up and it was raining in thick and wild sheets. One could hear the rain sheets as they flew down and hard and they were being whipped about by the wind whistling through them. And outside on the terrace – it was a sight to behold. I caught sight of one mesmerizing violet lightning fork shoot straight down the entire expanse of the sky. Otherwise there was the continuous rumble of thunder, the steady sheets of rain, the scudding clouds which looked as though they were racing along for a terribly important meeting or maybe carrying fragile news, the freshly washed trees swaying and almost dancing in the wind and the rains. The temperature had dropped suddenly and sharply. Pupu and Suvro da were wrapped in blankets and I was spreading my arms like Superman in my jacket. It doesn’t even feel very real when I remember the images. They feel like they are images from some dream.

The rain showed no signs of ebbing. It sounded like an intermittent magnificent drum roll and the wind kept hurrying into it and kept slamming against it playfully. The power had gone out and so we couldn’t make tea or coffee in the room but we ordered a huge bowl of egg bhurji, which was as tasty as could be, and we chatted a lot about this and that. Later on as the rain slowed down and the wind stopped playing with it – the sky looked like it had been painted with a soft golden paint made of light. The whole landscape looked clear and stark. I felt like I were wearing new glasses. And the trees placed artistically all along the hilltops really looked like they were from a fake too-good-to-be-true painting.

Once the rains stopped – the silence could be felt. We trooped out to Giani da dhaba later on in the eve’ and supped on some poori sabzi and the staple yogurt. I was so busy stuffing myself that I missed tasting the pickle on the side. The power was still out so there was one long and stern candle at the table standing like a sentinel in the dark. We walked back to the hotel, and before too long I was back in my bed tucked up under my blanket. The second day and night had come to a close.

The next morning, we left at 10.30 in the morning, and were back in Delhi by 5 p.m. Early in the morning or I guess that should be in the middle of the night, Pupu and Suvro da departed for Durgapur from IGI Terminal 3.

11 March 2018

Hardwar 2018

Let me put up this long and winding post. I wrote it a couple of weeks ago.


Where do I begin for this post? Andy Williams would say something, and Julie Andrews would say that one might as well start from the very beginning. But where does the very beginning begin? I could reminisce about looking at pictures from back in school when I was in class VIII, and seeing pictures of a clear green, sparkling river and a river bank and known smiling faces, and how I had been wishing I could have been there. I remember lingering over a couple of pics while trying not to. Or should I just zoom forth – some two decades through – and consider January this year? A smooth ride on the highway and sit-ins and conversations in a garden with a riot of flowers and squirrels and my best friend, and delightful fat puppies to cuddle in the early evenings before the sun went down? Or should I mention how I found myself in Delhi a month ago – because if I hadn’t been here and hadn’t joined work – there was going to be no holiday – stolen from that thief of time. I’m not sure whether the beginning is really located in any of these beginnings – so I’ll jump to the jumbled middle.

I didn’t really think I would be going for an utterly unexpected holiday for a whole day off to Hardwar. Even when I booked the tickets – back on the 28th of January, once Suvro da told me to – there was a part of me, which was quietly and stoically sceptical. But the holiday did happen.

Early one morning, a week ago, I took the train from New Delhi Railway Station. I do not mind waking up early to take trains or buses or aeroplanes. In fact, I usually prefer early morning travel for varied reasons. The taxi ride to New Delhi Railway Station was my first in remembered memory. I rather enjoyed it. The roads were dark, empty and looked clean. Yet I couldn’t see how that road could be traversed in less than 55 minutes during normal hours. The train journey was quite nice too apart from a passenger who nudged me by accident while sleeping. I nudged him back hard and instinctively and he waved his hand in apology while still sleeping. The journey was not too terribly long and yet it was long enough to be able to catch mini snoozes, mini phone calls and a breakfast. There wasn’t much of a view apart from one short stretch where there were emerald green wheat fields and a couple of lonely farmers.

At Hardwar, I got a rickshaw at the station and soon enough then came the narrow, winding alleys with colourful shops, set (merry) cheek by (happy) jowl selling everything from bells to blankets to bangles. I was awfully tempted to buy bangles or take pictures but I did neither. But there was a flash and flurry of colours and mixed fragrances, and I could quite see why foreigners would find the medley of colours and narrow alleys – for better or worse – exotic. Just as suddenly – when I started wondering how the Ganga would appear in the midst of what I was seeing – the sinuous shop alley ended. Before I knew it – there was the Ganga to my right. I paid the rickshaw driver and hopped off. I looked at the Ganga and smiled before knowing I was smiling. It felt cooler even though the afternoon sun was hot.

I reached Hotel Teerth and getting a room was a two minute deal since Suvro da had already mentioned that I would be arriving. And there up on the balcony – I gazed at the Ganga. I love small ponds and even little fountains. I find water bodies – small or large – magical. I love rivers and mighty seas and oceans. But this was something else – and I know why. I searched with my eyes for I knew I’d find “Shiva guarding his own”, and I did. I had to bend low from my balcony to find him though. He was turned away and at an angle, and looked jauntier and haughtier and grander than I remembered him from a picture seen close to a decade ago.

Suvro da and his mum arrived from Mussoorie, and I skipped up the flight of stairs to their room. Shiva from Suvro da’s room was not hiding. He was standing there all tall and grand and I didn’t have to bend low to find him from that balcony! The afternoon was blissful even though there was an annoying hammer that started hammering away at some point. I didn’t think I was going to snooze – in fact, I had no intentions of snoozing and I was determined to stay awake. But at some point I was dreaming that I was falling from a great height and jolted awake – and I went back to snoozing.

At four it was off to the Manasa Temple. Suvro da and I stopped at a roadside shop for tea and a flaky biscuit that the French would have been proud of. We walked along those alleys, and the bangles and bells and blankets kept beckoning at me. I was half-loping through and half-looking at those colorful alleys with all kinds of smells floating through from incense to fried food to even the fragrance from the bells (or was that in my head?) so as to not lose sight of Suvro da. I had no idea how we were getting to Manasa Temple but I was all-in for anything really. Suvro da had earlier pointed out to the landmark and said there was a view up there. Soon enough he was getting the tickets for the ropeway. I didn’t bat an eyelid but to think I had stayed away from ever taking the ropeway from the time I was an 8-year old stubborn mule along a lakeside in Switzerland, and had loudly claimed for a long time that I never would. Let me not go into reasons. Even some three years ago when a whole bunch of 70 people took the ropeway (Gondola) in Gulmarg – I had gone off for a walk in the snowy mountains.

The ropeway ride was marvelous. If there was something I was sad about it was that it came to an end too soon. On the ropeway, Suvro da said “And now you’ll tell me that you’ve never been on a ropeway…” to which I had to grunt in affirmation and mumble under my breath. Suvro da pointed out that the odds of being hit by a random vehicle back in Muchipara were higher than falling off a cable car and breaking one’s neck. He pointed out to the curving hill road, which he and his entire troop had taken during the school excursion back in 1989. We reached the Manasa temple and took a sandy rocky slope to the view-point. The path wasn’t too terribly precarious if one were wearing sneakers but Suvro da went about in his flip-flops and I kept muttering ‘don’t go that close to the ledge…’ Apparently, the monkeys at the view-point are a menace. Just before taking the ropeway there was a panda who was trying to get Suvro da to buy a bag of offerings not for the deity but for the langurs! They take the food offerings but there seemed to be random stuff like pictures and boxes that people had left up there at the view-point, and a couple of curious monkeys were going through the stuff. One monkey also took a bag of puffed rice offered to it by a visitor, and ran off and sat with it next to the ledge. The view from the top was kingly. Hardwar lay like a toy town way down and Suvro da pointed out to the original route of the Ganga, which the British had diverted, and he pointed out to the dam they had built. I could have sat there on the view-point just admiring the view and watching the Ganga winding about at a distance if it hadn’t been for the pesky monkeys, I guess. I took a couple of pictures, on Suvro da’s bidding, but my pics look nothing like what I saw through my eyes. I am reminded of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”.

I half-skidded and slid down the sandy ridge while we were going back down. Suvro da did better in his flip-flops. We had piping hot samosas and great big jalebis at a shop next to the temple, and we wondered what made people decide that they would set up an eatery next to a temple up on the hills… I didn’t pray at Manasa temple. They say that one can make a wish (or wishes, I suppose if one is so inclined) and tie a thread and do the perambulation around the Sanctum Sanctorum, and if the Goddess is feeling benevolent and grants one’s wish – one goes back at some point and unties one’s thread. But how does one find one’s own thread? – I wonder. Anyhow, I didn’t know what exactly I could pray for when I was ambling about up there, and so I shook my head at the thought of praying any prayers at Manasa Temple. I made all the clear prayers I could at 22 and I haven’t changed any of them since then.

We came back on the ropeway and I managed to take one hasty picture but I watched the descent carefully trying to record every bit in my mind and greatly enjoyed it. I don’t know why I had been so scared of ropeways almost all my life…

Suvro da was racing back along once we were on flat ground because the Ganga aarti was to begin at 6 p.m. We walked over to Har-ki-Pauri and it was already full of people. But we edged along and took our places. I was sort of in a dream-like state by then. Maybe this is what the Durkheim-ian collective conscience is all about? Or maybe I was looking at and feeling only what I wanted to feel. The fire lamps and the chanting in the background felt incredibly familiar. My gaze was fixed and I don’t even think I cared too much about the crowds thronging the ghat. The aarti came to an end in ten minutes, and we walked off and away from the centre. I had thought there would be a sudden river of human beings leaving the ghat but I didn’t feel the crowd dispersing. I saw a couple of chaps sitting next to the Ganga with their feet in the river and I very badly wanted to do the same. In fact I had been wanting to quietly dip into the Ganga and take a swim since the afternoon. But I did nothing of that sort. The current of the waters looked very strong but Suvro da pointed out to some people who were wading about in the middle of the Mother Ganges. She wasn’t in full swell. I still didn’t leap into the Ganga nor did I go about on a canoe. Back in the work-place, folks asked me later whether I had had fun white-water rafting in Rishikesh. Somehow people had assumed that I had gone for rafting or canoeing or for some water adventure sports with my mentor in Rishikesh.

Suvro da’s mum had also been there at Ganga-aarti and we joined her and strolled over to a roadside tea-shop. I saw the statue of Netaji. Barring his distinct INA uniform – he rather looked like he were in disguise. Suvro da’s mum later narrated a story about Netaji when he really had been in disguise and was about to cross the ice-cold Volga (I believe it was). His accomplice urged him to take a swig of Vodka. Netaji refused saying he had promised his mum and his Mother (his country) that he would never do such a thing. His accomplice told him that it would be better to take a swig and cross the river with the help of the warmth that the Vodka provided to cross the Volga than becoming incapacitated. That convinced Netaji and so he prayed a prayer, took a swig and crossed the river. We of course sat out there for our tea. The tea here is heavy, incredibly sweet and doesn’t taste too much like tea. However this cuppa wasn’t bad. I could hear the river as I sipped on the tea, had some biscuits that Mashi had brought along and heard gentle voices around me and in my head…

We went for a walk along the river banks and Suvro da shared a bit about the time that he had come over with a bunch of his school-boys back in 1989 and how they had stayed at the only lodge on the other side of the Ganga, and how he had got all of them – teachers included – to walk across to the other side for their daily meals…He even shared a wee-bit about a visit to Rajaji National Park during the course of that excursion. The National Park could be seen as a forest shroud in the distance, up in the high hills across the banks from the hotel balcony. While we were standing on the bridge and watching the river rush along below I was looking at the lit flower diyas, which were sailing with the river current, carrying their offerings to the river Goddess and perhaps her God. I wanted to float a diya. As we returned from our stroll down the river-side I was musing aloud that it would be rather nice to have a small shop selling colourful trinkets and who-knows-what-else right next to the river. Suvro da stated that the locals would never let outsiders in. I like to imagine that maybe in some lifetime I had become an insider – maybe far up The River. I was reminded of a vague story that had begun in flashes inside my head (when I was a trifle barmy many years ago), about a woman who had loved and probably lost in worldly terms, and left behind whatever she could, and went off to spend the rest of whatever remained in Hardwar…I never got to see more flashes and there never was a complete story.

I did float a diya. Suvro da remembered in his way matter-of-fact way. I had forgotten by then although I was looking at all the beautiful flower diyas along the way and on the way back from our river stroll. I bought one diya and was badgered into buying two and nearly caved in but I stuck to one. There was a priest who appeared. I was asking Suvro da whether I couldn’t just float my diya on my own, Mashi was watching, and Suvro da was telling me to take off my shoes. The priest asked me a question to which I shook my head while looking resolutely away, and then before I knew it – the chanting began and was over. I got to bathe my feet in the Ganga. I got to touch the holy waters. And then I floated my diya in the Ganga…

The evening came to an end with the roar of the mighty river and rather too soon and suddenly. It would have been too soon, for me, no matter when it might have come to an end. I fell into a deep sleep ridiculously early. I could hear the Ganga in the middle of the night. I woke up and sat out in the balcony for a bit. The waters were lovely, dark and deep and looked like they were cast in a magical light. I could hear the notes and the low roar of the waves. God knows when I went back in and fell asleep again. It came to me in my half-sleep state that the odd bouts of fever and the persistent body-aches had disappeared, and so I grinned when Fimh said something, and he said something else.

There was one delightful mini-walk by the Ganga early in the morning and a very strange cup of tea. Suvro da didn’t find the tea strange. He found it awful. And then there was the ride to the station through the dark. The train was late but it came along eventually to Hardwar. I think I could write a whole blog-post about the wait and the train ride back to New Delhi Railway station. But let that be.

The train was late in arriving at New Delhi, and it put a damper to my erstwhile envisioned plans. Suvro da’s mum and I sat put on an empty bench and chatted, Suvro da sat and chatted for a bit but walked about here and there for the most part, and as the afternoon lingered on, Aakash, Suvro da’s old student arrived. We had a neat lunch at the station. We walked over to Platform 13. Suvro da and Aakash went back to help a passenger with her luggage onto a train. Rajdhani chugged into the station and we all boarded. I was rather impressed by the clean and nifty interiors. Suvro da was telling me how there was originally only a Calcutta-New Delhi Rajdhani and a Bombay-New Delhi Rajdhani until all other cities like Madras and others started yowling that they too wanted a “Rajdhani” Express.  But soon enough it was time for Aakash and me to get off the train and Suvro da nudged us to get off. I couldn’t pretend that I too was a traveler. Aakash was loitering about on the platform as the train started chugging out. I asked him what he was doing and he said he was wondering whether to run alongside the train because that is what they used to do as children – and one can actually run “faster” than a train till a point. I sort of chuckled at the thought of Suvro da seeing two of his students running alongside his window. Suvro da and his mum departed on the Rajdhani for Durgapur in the late afternoon, and it was time to leave the station.

31 December 2017

Christmas Truce and 2017

There are fireworks going about as I write this. I, quite in a muddled-headed manner, had forgotten, every now and then that it was New Year’s Eve – just every now and then. I did not entirely forget and I did remember a few central matters. And I remember, quite clearly, the previous New Year’s Eve’ (and that did not just happen in my head – Professor Dumbledore!). In fact, I had been grinning about the same while out on a walk in the evening…so maybe my own subliminal worries about progressive dementia are unfounded.

I remember my best friend saying that the German language is a language that is beautiful to the ears (he used different words) – I don’t quite remember when exactly that was though. I remember – well let’s say I remember a little more but I do know that I can now never again call the German language only a marching and military and merely peremptory language after chancing upon this.

The carol is my all-time favourite. But I had never before heard the German version. And that led me to glance through the comment-section. It is peculiar how memories are stored in the mind and forgotten and then retrieved. I sometimes think that psychologists – no matter how many studies they conduct on human memories (among other matters) – should do lots more studies. And I keep wishing the psychologists “good luck”.

I was reminded of the story I had first heard when I could not have been older than 8 – about The Christmas Truce during World War I. But I had forgotten all about it through the passing years. It is not that I have not thought about or worried or brooded over war and given the two Wars, WWII and even the Cold War had always stuck into me far more until I was over 26 – but the Christmas Truce! It is not only about war and killing and loss of life and meaninglessness and the utterly ridiculous nature of war per se – although of course one cannot miss any of that – but it is about a bit of hope and faith and camaraderie and comradeship and even the bare hints of possible friendship across fire-lines and in the bleakest of times. And given that I am an obsessed creature (I have had to finally accept my best friend and Fimh’s judgment on the matter of being obsessed) – I sort of hunted about. Anyone who is interested can go to the Wikipedia page of course. Here is a link of a Sainsbury grocery stores ad – a recreation of what "may-have-transpired" during Christmas 1914.

And it is very soon to be 2018. And we are still here. Human beings, animals, other life-forms, the environment, and our planet – we are here. Humanity is here and we, even in individual or shared spots manage to touch bliss – well, maybe in our minds and for bits of time in the virtual and real world. So maybe it is not a bad thing to keep one's faith and hope alive, and to believe in God – whatever one's conception of God might be. Beats many of the things that are currently viewed to be "better" or "progressive" or "holy" or "developed". 

I think I will go back to reading the interesting, perplexing and even (pleasantly) infuriating book I had been before this post becomes longer than a mile. Wishing you a happy year ahead.

24 December 2017

A Poem by Nicki Giovanni

I read a poem by Nicki Giovanni (1943-) sometime this year – I forget when – which runs as follows:

Some people forget that love is
tucking you in and kissing you
“Good night”
no matter how young or old you are.

Some people don’t remember that
love is
listening and laughing
and asking
no matter what your age.

Few recognize that love is
commitment, responsibility,
and no fun
at all

Love is
You and me.

I keep wanting to add something here or there but somehow the poem sort of captures in snapshots of deft images of what I have long felt and still feel – in essence – even though I can’t, sadly enough, say that I have been able to fulfill all the points.

It is Christmas Eve’ and I shall go and make some coffee and listen to a few carols and look outwards and inwards for a little bit and take a walk. I have been sitting hunched over, typing and editing and framing word documents for almost the whole weekend, barring a few delightful moments upon unexpected mini phone-calls. I didn’t even notice when dusk approached and twilight descended. Now it feels like a dark and rather silent winter night outside. I can almost see the soft snow covering the ground and feel the blue, crisp air but that is my imagination running away.

Merry Christmas and a lovely New Year to my loved ones – Fimh included.

30 October 2017

The oddities of Time

It feels odd to me, to put it in mildly, when I stand outside of myself sometimes and see the passage of time. Sometimes across more than three decades or across the years which have now officially become more than a decade but even across weeks. I remember writing a bit on the oddities of time from 14 years ago (2003) about a memory from a year before that (2002)…and a general musing on my perception of time:

It’s (time for) take-off: The seven hours have gone by in a snap. Just like seven years or seven minutes. Time seems to be such an amusing concept. I’m ‘gaining’ a day while travelling to the other side of the planet. That feels like such a cheeky thing to be doing — almost against the rules. While I’m doing up my seat belt, I can’t help but gurgle at that thought. I’m constantly calculating the time back on the part of the globe that I left early in the morning. An adorable baby boy is standing up in his seat and looking at me. I feel an irresistible urge to cuddle him. But it’s time for the most magnificent of moments — the glorious take-off. Later on in the flight the baby boy Ian, pulls off the blanket from my eyes and says, “Peek-a-boo.” He then proceeds to make some toast for me in his (imaginary) ‘oven’ while carrying on a conversation with me. I stare at him with bright, bright eyes while I take a slice of his ‘just-perfect-toast’…
Time warps ever so frequently for me. It (almost?) never travels in a linear motion. Sometimes it collapses and I can’t differentiate between the ‘now’ and the ‘then’; the past, present and future, the before and the after get sadly jumbled up in my head; sometimes it balloons up into a rising mist, floating, hanging overhead —not letting go; sometimes I’m stuck in a time dimension while the world moves along at its normal pace; sometimes I’m granted a sneak preview of the what-is-to-be and then I’m sent shooting back into the past (or should that be the present?) Sometimes time seems to be nothing but a capsule; a reservoir of memories. Does it seem this way to me because I’m mad or merely absent minded? Or is it because time is truly relative and everything is happening right now and there’s only an artificial separation, an illusory slower-ing down of vibrations so that we can live through experiences ‘in time’? Maybe then the sense of déjà vu that hits us is not about the ‘already seen’ but about the ‘being seen’ and the ‘being experienced’ – very much like the sneak previews…but (happening) at the same time in a parallel universe? Maybe my Fimh comes from some place that’s located near the mysterious zone of ‘time warps’. It’s confusing at moments and unsettling. There’s a sensation of inexpressible disorientation, similar to the experience of living through a gripping film in a darkened movie hall and then walking out into the bright sunlight. A part of the self is still locked in the movie or somewhere in between — and there’s a fragmented sense of reality. I’ve been through reality warps of different orders, different intensities; some just mildly confusing like the time warp, some distinctly more aggravating (and some distinctly, if even strangely, wondrous)…

Time takes its own time and works according to its own whimsy – I am almost completely convinced of this. There is nothing absolute and fixed about the passage of time. It works according to its own fancies and feelings. Clock-time says not much about the feelings on the passage of time and those human feelings – I have been thinking more and more, and quite in contrast to what I used to think as a teen are not matters that can be or even should be entirely snuffed out by reason and rationality and logic – although these latter matters are all good and important and useful aspects. Maybe recent conversations, the different blogposts, chapters and rather odd books that I’ve been reading and re-visiting and my general state of being and whatever it is that I am doing have some hand in this. I remember having pooh-poohed the arena of ‘Sociology of Emotions’ when it had become a rather hot and also contentious topic – and yet, now I find myself reconsidering my earlier presumptuousness. But this post is about time and its oddities – not about emotions. About emotions, intentions and motivations – maybe, I’ll write on another day.

The week that went by seemed to take its own sweet time in going by – if even some random passer-by had told me casually that two and a half weeks had passed by since the previous Saturday – I would have merely nodded my head and gone back to editing or re-writing a piece of work or worrying or wondering or missing or maybe walking. And yet if I consider the four whole glorious days just before that – during Diwali and my best friend’s birthday – it seems time just decided to whizz by as though it were a flash of light.

I remember I was looking at and listening to the rain one morning, feeling the huge gusts of wind, and shivering every once in a while while sitting out on the verandah and watching a lazy dog and reading a rather weird (interestingly weird in parts but not as a whole) book on meditation, consciousness and psychology (Sam Harris ‘Waking Up’), and knowing someone was snoozing and there I was feeling an indescribable feeling of childish delight and quiet bliss. I remember walks and conversations, scoldings and tremblings, incomprehension and perfect conversations, mushrooming questions which never quite get answers, stories, and boisterous celebrations with fire crackers and lights and colours and talks and quietness and laughter and togetherness. I have no pictures or recordings to show myself that all of it really happened out-there and not just in my loony head. But I find myself thinking that maybe time while being a silent and wicked thief exists for many reasons but also so that we can separate events as they happen, cherish some memories in retrospect and remember what and whom we remember and choose to remember and why?

18 September 2017

Precious Lord, Chiroshokha he...

Two songs, which say more than I possibly can:

Jim Reeves with Precious Lord, take my hand...

And (best experienced with eyes shut) Chiroshokha He and a Salim Chisti Sufi fusion:

27 August 2017

Meera and Krishna II

I wanted to title this ‘Muddled conversations with Meera’ or a more proper ‘Conversations with Meera’ or maybe, with apologies, ‘Conversations with a muddled Meera’ – but this has to be titled the way it has been. The following is a continuation of the previous post:

Do I see him even then? – You ask me. After he leaves – you mean? – Do I feel him? Can I hear him?

Yes. I do. I feel his presence in his absence. Is that strange? Is that madness? I feel him, sense him, hear him, and even when I try not to or experience ludicrous doubt about my experiences or am miserable or angry or even try to be very composed and reasonable. It is his voice I hear streaming through the breeze. It is a glimpse of him that I glance at when I see the blue of the sky kissing the green of the leaves on tall trees. It is his eyes that I chance upon when the storm rips the sky and black clouds gather billow upon billow over the lonely white sands. It is him I see laughing and winking at me when I see an iridescent river flowing by even when I, very solemnly, try – to think of other things. It is his touch that undulates within me when an impatient gust of air slows down upon meeting its very own loved one. It is him I see as the raindrops finer than the tiniest shards of glass pierce my skin and become one with my tears. It is his smile for me that I see when I live and die a little every day as I breathe in and out. So I suppose I see him, and then, I suppose, I do not see him always? Or do I? I do not know what to say – I am sorry. I do not know everything. I told you I am not a saint. I feel him unless I am too full of anger, resentment or spite or misery to notice.

You look shocked and discomfited and nonplussed – all at the same time. Why? – You ask me. Why what? Why do I feel resentment, anger, spite and misery? Do you think I must not feel such lowly emotions because I am a saint? Or do you now see me as being not so saint-like? I have a twinkle in my eye –? I am tickled to see you now wondering what I am: a saint or not-a-saint but then, 'what is she'? I am supposed to be a bhakti yogini, am I not? Not a gyana yogini. The latter are far more composed and rational and very reasonable. So are the karma yoginis. I imagine I can be all-in-one – but I fail.

Yes, yes – I have fallen silent. I am gathering my thoughts, am I not? I want to be clear, do I not? You have been trying to look at my thoughts for a long time but you can never pin them down to see the whole picture. You get muddled in your higgledy-piggledy head. You listen to something I say and not to other matters because they do not fit your pretty but imaginary picture of “the beautiful and blissful and beatific Meera”. You get all garbled and then you go around bellowing and yelling from the rooftops about love! You do not?! Of course you do. Almost every year for so many years. Haha. I have noticed. That is not about me and Krishna – you say? That is what you think. Now quiet! Stop your chatter. Let me tell you what I have to say, and listen and look carefully – if you can – without interrupting. Otherwise we will be conversing till kingdom come. Do you have nothing else to do apart from talking with beings in your head – you silly girl!

Yes – so where was I? Yes – those emotions. I feel all those emotions and more. He loves so many – do you not see? Do you not know anything – about history? He has his favourites. And he has his second and third lists and fourth lists of favourites and many more, and on and on. So I rage and am filled with dumb and angry resentment and angry tears right when I imagine I am far above such lowly sentiments. And I wonder where or when exactly I went wrong. You are tittering? I am jealous, you say? I am mean-spirited and small-minded, you say? I am mindless, you claim? I am like a little imbecilic, sad simpleton who does not know about expansive love webs? I am spoilt, pampered and mad – you say?! How dare you?! – You silly girl. You said none of these things? – But you thought all of them and some more. You imagine only you can espy thoughts? – I am none of those things. There you were calling me a saint, now you are calling me all this, and in the middle you wanted to pack me off to a loony bin?! Tsk-tsk. No, he does not love me – do you not see? I am nowhere on his list of sixteen thousand or sixteen thousand and three! I am not even on his – what do you call it? – waiting list. I do not care whether I am contradicting myself! You can go away now. I do not want to talk to you. Of course it irks me! Not you, you silly girl! Him. I could smack or bite or scratch him or embrace him and cry against him now and then – if I could. But then when I can hear him or he does appear – my rage and resentment – all – disappear. I cannot even cry when he is there in front of me. It seems pretentious and fake to cry when I can see him or hear him. I weep later.

Why can I not cry, you ask me? I answered that already. Why does it feel pretentious and fake? – You ask me?

He glows like Life which is real and matters. I cannot cry when Life stands in front of me. He is dark, you see. But he is light. He glows with his changing moods – sometimes darkly, and sometimes through the dark – lightly. Oh, of course he is mine – you silly girl! So what if he is God and everybody’s God? – He is still mine. No, you cannot have him – that is why you cannot see him. There – I have answered your second question.

Why are you smiling?!

Am I his? – No – I am not his – you pesky girl pestering me with presumptuous questions. That is so because he does not want me and is not fond of me in such a way. And do not ask me what I mean by “Such a way”. I will not tell you.

Yes, yes. You can ask me other questions. – Why does he visit me then if he is not fond of me?  

That is how he is – is he not? He knows all there is to know – does he not? He knows Meera loves him and has forever loved him and always will unless Meera stops being born and dying altogether and enters into some state of oblivion that she cannot imagine. And he is sometimes – what do you call it? – suffused with kindness and compassion or maybe pity, and so he blesses his lonely and useless devotee by dropping in or by calling in to – .

What, now?

 – Of course, I am useless! I have not won battles. I have not conquered lands and people and ruled over with a benevolent, just but canny hand. I have not created grand empires with my wit and guiles and wiles. I have not created and amassed grand and almost endless material wealth, and then given almost all of it away. There have been powerful and stunning queens who have gone to battle and even a young peasant girl – so I hear or did I dream of her? Anyhow. I do not lead a many-dimensional, many-tiered, busy, grand, great life – do I? He glowers at me for looking at him sometimes or for trying to talk to him or for asking him questions. It irks him. So what do I really do? – I sing. I compose poetry. I dance. I worship him. It is all to give voice and form to my love for him and because I cannot help it – and I wait for him. I am not beautiful – so beautiful, so full of breathtaking grace, exquisite finesse and innate talents that I can enchant him with my very being, shy smile and limpid eyes from behind a veil. What is it that you say? – I am? Beautiful? – Why, thank you. There are more than thousands and thousands and another thousands like me and they all love him. I often wonder how that is possible – do you know? To be singularly enchanting – what else? No. I see. Of course, you would not. I am grimacing? No, no. It is nothing. I certainly did not say or think your ugliness is revolting! The things you imagine! What - ? Oh, okay. It was only a passing, insignificant thought. Forget that now. There, there. Stop moping – it does not matter how you – look. But you were saying I sing, were you not? – I do sing. Did you not yourself hear me, at least once – maybe faintly but clearly – so many years ago? That is what I can do and so I do what I can do.

I write poetry? – You ask me? Yes, I dream up poetry – because I must and I can and it is a beautiful act. I forget what I am at. I am with him or some disembodied being of pure consciousness floating about, skimming about, coursing the universes with him – even when the poems are angry or measured or full of abandoned passion or I am disconsolate or I have perfect clarity or I am yearning for him. It is as if there are two beings when I am writing poetry – one physical Meera who is here and another Meera who is there with him laughing and making him laugh with wild abandon.

Of course I love him. So do millions – do they not? – He does not want me around. He appears when he does – fleetingly, in snatches – and he leaves just as unpredictably. Bad? – You ask? What is bad? Bad to need him? Bad to love him? Whom would you need then? Who else would you love if not him? What would you need if you do not need him and his love, and for him to accept you and your love? 

– but, what?! But what do you do after loving him and needing him? – You ask me, again?! Are you deaf and silly and forgetful? – You do whatever it is that you do and keep at it! Did I not say that a hundred thousand times already? – That is what you do. Whatever you can and are able. I too do what I can, do I not?!

Easy? – Who said anything about it being easy? Did I say it was or is easy? Do people imagine that that is easy? Why should it be easy? I am not a cow. A cow has a fairly easy life – I would say. A cow may disagree with me and may grumble and moo, and sadly say that I know nothing about being a cow and how difficult it is being a cow. There is nothing wrong in being a cow and maybe the life of a cow is very difficult in a way I do not know about – but I did not come to the world as one of his cows which he used to love. I came here as a human being. I did not come here to win trifles as a human being. That too would be easy. Maybe. Many people will disagree with me and so I shall add – maybe not. What do I know? – Maybe it is very difficult indeed to win and hoard trifles, and preen and prance and dance about flaunting trifles. Indeed, maybe it is exhausting and very difficult. What do I know? – Maybe their trifles are very important to them or mean everything to them, and they will take those trifles with them when they die and they will look upon their trifles after they are dead, and feel jubilant. What do I know? – Maybe the Lord will love them always for being who they are. Let them be. I cannot be one of them and do not want to be. So, no. It is not easy. And no, I do not ‘move on’ – whatever that means. But it is terribly simple sometimes and I am made to move along sometimes despite my obstinacy.

What do I mean? – You ask me? – I am being difficult and contradictory?! 

Is it an adventure, you ask me?

Now which question do you wish for me to answer?! 

Oh, I am being called. I have to go now. Why? I have to go attend to the preparations for the Sravan palace celebrations. I am in charge of some of the preparations – am I not? The staying arrangements, the accommodations, setting up the palace grounds and the competitions. I am a participant too. In what? – archery, horse riding, sword fighting and a few of the debates. Who will be attending? – all kinds of people from distant lands and people from our kingdom too. Yes, yes – princes and queens and ministers and teachers and courtiers and singers and philosophers and merchants and writers and painters and performers of all kinds and silversmiths and blacksmiths and wandering minstrels and more. Sing?! – No, of course I will not sing. Are you quite mad?!  The prince is calling me. I must go now. You go do something else. – Do you not have any work? Do you not have anything else to do? Oh, stop looking like a glum goblin, you silly girl. Do you not believe in God? – And even after yesterday?  – There is a time and place for everything  do you not know anything? I will talk to you some other time, maybe.

19 August 2017

Meera and Krishna

Krishna and Meera have been visiting my mind, now and then, for quite some years now. It was 18 or 19 years ago – I cannot quite recall; the two years (1998 and 1999) seem to have become one in my mind – when they first appeared and with Fimh and my best friend. After a few years of semi-silence they appeared again and now it’s been a decade and a half with a few missing years, here and there. I used to imagine at some point that I could write a whole book about Meera but I can’t. Yet Meera and Krishna have appeared in very odd dreams or as very tantalising images - or maybe it’s all a delicious piece of imagined reality or my delusions? I don’t really know but I don’t really think that’s what it is. This year too Meera visited and I kept asking her questions, and it was Krishna’s Birthday, and Fimh absolutely insisted that I write about what transpired. So here is a part of it:

Janmashtami 13th/ 14th  August –

There is a time when silence is sharper and clearer than any possible sound. The silence rings away in my ears and thuds away with my heartbeat – especially when I am waiting and waiting, and waiting some more to hear what I want to hear, to sense what I wish to sense, to feel what I want to feel and some of what I do not know and cannot expect  – the footsteps, the embrace, the whispers and his voice murmuring near the nape of my neck, the sense of touch from The One who has caressed my mind and soul, the whispers through the night, listening with my very being so as not to forget later, fighting, arguing, laughing, teasing and being teased in turn – and I do not care then about weeping with the departing strains of his voice and the fainter notes of his flute as I see dawn riding in through my windows and hijacking my dream – or was that my reality? Was he here? Was he not? Did I not hear him? Did I not feel him? Why was he here, and why did he leave?

What? – What is it that you’re asking me? Do I see him? – You ask me.

Yes. I do.

Why can’t you? – You ask me. To that I’ll give you different answers depending on my mood.

…because you do not have the eyes – I will say. Because you have not tried hard enough. Because you think you can see him with the same eyes that you see the world. Because you think you can hear him the same way you do your listening in the world. Because you are too full of what does not matter. Because you are blind and maybe deaf? Oh, I am so sorry – I have offended you. Well it is because you have not loved him like I have. Because I love him – I see him. I see now that you are all teary-eyed and you are hurt and you are angry and offended – all at the same time. There, there. You love him? Maybe you have not called him loud enough? Any louder and you’ll sound like a tuneless foghorn? – You say. Oh, no! – I do not think you should sing. Well then, maybe I sense him because I am mad, and utterly deaf and blind to the world. And so I feel him in communion with my body, spirit, soul, mind and everything about me – till there is no space or place that is private or “just” mine or me any longer. I do not know what this “me” or “I” is apart from that which recognises him, knows him, adores him and worships him. I do not know of any “I” or “me” which does not adore him.

Just seconds ago you were relieved – and almost smugly happy that I had called myself mad – how do I know that?  – I could see it on your face! – and now you call me a saint, you silly girl?! Would you rather have me be sick and mad or are you calling me a saint?

I am no saint.

I am evil and cruel and depraved and a wretch in more ways than you or anybody else can count, and many have counted and told me why I am disgusting and they have seen the better sides of me. Oh, it does not matter if I have not acted upon every terrible thought and feeling in this life. They are all there in me from other times and other places, and the selves and voices - which carry them - erupt from within me like macabre monsters and self-righteous angels and demons and they are all in me. I am not stupid, you say? - Oh, I am stupid, vapid, inert and mindless in so many countless ways too. You would be horrified to see all the selves and parts of me which move around about me and which I know prowl about in me with their mangy bad breath trying to spit at this “me” which you see (which you want to be – and only because I see him and can sing out my love for him) and which want to consume me with their evil.

What is evil? – You ask me?

That thing which feels no love and senses no love and which knows no love – that is evil. That thing becomes evil. It becomes putrid. It rots itself, and it tries to rot and corrupt everything else that comes close to it or that which it sees as easy prey. There are worse things than just murdering a person – even yourself – with a sword or dagger. It is to rot from the inside.

What is love? – You ask me? Why am I smiling? – You ask me? Love means different things to different people. I smile at what different people call love. But you called me a saint, not seconds ago! That is what I am saying too. I am not a saint.

Lust, greed, sloth, avarice, rage, resentment, anger, apathy, violence, mindlessness jostle about for space in every other cell that I carry in me. They are imprinted in me. They flow like sudden poisonous, malodorous lava spewing from ugly volcanoes lying dormant, which I think are dead and they catch me unawares, and right when I am convinced that I am holier-than-thou and deserve my Lord. Did you know that?

You call me a saint?!

“Who is this person?!” – I scream at myself.
“Who are you?” I ask myself in a whisper.
It is me.
Yes. It is.
And yet - He saves me from myself – from those mangy-breathed monsters I carry within me, which want to feed upon me and leave me to rot with no love or memory of love. He with his flute and with that insouciant feather and humour and everything else that makes him him. Each of my cells of terrible memories, each of those horrible and twisted strands that carry the tides and imprints of evil, malice, resentment, spite and vicious rage – all of that upon which I have acted somewhere, sometime – aeons ago, ages ago, many or more summers ago even – it does not matter – but even those, even those horrors and the numerous insipid, petty, ghastly vulgarities and inanities in me are washed over by gigantic, tremendous and complete waves of love and tenderness for him and from him.

Which comes first? – His love or mine – You ask me? – I do not know that. How does that matter, you silly girl?!

I lose myself in him. I find myself in him. I melt with him. I am cast asunder from him. There is bliss – infinite, ineffable, eternal, and there is the utter and absolute agony – of the sort you maybe cannot imagine in separation, in estrangement, in abandonment – in being tossed aside like a tiny, insignificant, ugly, cheap, unwanted raft by the mighty, expansive, gorgeous and churning oceans. And there are in-betweens too, are there not?

How does he love…? – You ask me?

I wonder too. He stands before me. He smiles. He speaks. He sits. He teases. He is cold. He allows an embrace. He is vulnerable. He ignores. He is aloof. He talks. He laughs with his eyes. He banters. He is brusque. He listens. He responds. He is quiet. He laughs. He is silent. He thunders. He shoots lightning forks at you which are beautiful and can burn. He reaches out his hand for you to touch – maybe once or maybe twice – and that is what you want to remember. He quarrels. He sulks. He talks like the adorable young boy he once was about his loves. He is insouciant (yes, like his feather! – You remember). He is naughty. He is wicked. He is irritated. He plays his flute. He talks of the heavens and earth. He shows you glimpses from his universes. He makes you laugh. You carry that laughter, that beauty, that love and the memories through strange days and stranger nights as time spins about like a spinning wheel. He caresses with a caress, like no other and the only one you want or will ever desire. He tells you about dharma, artha, karma, kama, karuna, gyana, bhakti, prem, moksha, shanti…You want to know more and more, and everything about him. He looks at you with those deep eyes almost mirroring your love, tenderness and bizarre desire.

What, then? – Then what?!

Then – he is gone. He leaves. With not a backward glance. He leaves you bereft. Shaking, screaming and wailing, and out of your mind. What? – No, of course not. That does not make him cruel. No! Are you out of your mind? Why would he want to be with me all the time? Can you not be reasonable? He has many things to do and he loves many  – do you not know?! And even if he wants to be alone? Is he not allowed to get bored by me and my prattle and my love? What about the Gods and Goddesses? – You ask. Speak up, you incoherent girl – I cannot hear you when you mumble beneath your breath. Hahaha! Shiva and Shakti, Vishnu and Lakshmi, Rudra and Tara - they do not get bored of one another! That is what you say? - You must ask them. I am not Lakshmi or Parvati or Durga or Tara. I am Meera.