Of love and other inconveniences

Today marks the 35th year of your death mom.

I didn’t even remember the date.

Your daughter texted me today morning.

Mom

I love this picture of yours. I love your smile in this one. How your eyes have that knowing look, amused at some joke only you know. And maybe your husband. They say if you just cut your eyes from a picture and superimpose on mine, no one would know. Or my sisters’ for that matter. Or they said so. I dont know. Maybe once upon a time. Now the whites of my eyes are yellow. They aren’t white but we’ll keep calling them white just the way we keep calling the sky blue when it is grey or almost white, we dont really look do we? So often my kids tell me papa why are your eyes red today?

Maybe it was a gesture, that look. To your husband and your lover. I love the way she is looking at you in absolute adoration. I know the look. My younger ones look at me in the same way. As if i can do no wrong. I know the spell will break in a few years when they will come face to face with my frailties, and there will come a time when they will like nothing in me, before they start liking me again.

You escaped that. In my eyes, you can still do no wrong. Because you can be whatever i want you to be. You are that crutch i can use to create alternate realities. If she hadn’t died, i wouldn’t have been this. If she had lived, we’d have immigrated. If she had lived, we would have loved. Or maybe, when I am in throes of that dangerous crutch called self pity, i say to myself, maybe she’d have noticed that the whites of my eyes have turned yellow and asked me about it. Maybe I’d have been enough for you, and I wouldn’t have this urge to prove myself to the unknown out there every single day.

But I think I will probably never be enough. I am ok with that now.

The love i have for you is convenient to me. To use when i need to. To explain away what I do not like about my life. Love and use cannot be in the same sentence people say, but i believe if there’s anything you can use whichever way you want, it is love.

Maybe what I write for you today should be about you and not about me. Maybe i should say that I will be half as lucky if someone writes about me 35 years after i have died, melted by just a picture. But then pictures have always had a particular thrall for me, a picture of a loved one always triggers my writing genes. And i think people will always love you for what you didn’t do for them, of what you could have done for them. They always end up resenting you for what you have done for them. Its either resentment or indifference, or even worse, gratitude. Never love. You cannot do stuff for people to make them love you, you will always remain separate from the things you do.

Recently me and my wife decided we will praise each other much often, we realised after a minor fight that we end up criticizing and critiquing each other way more than just praise each other. Everything good we are and we do is taken for granted, as is. So suddenly one day she tells me, I love how you can put down exactly what you are feeling into words so easily. I’ve learnt to accept compliments better now, i only had one way of accepting compliments earlier, which involved self-deprecation. I can tell you it is good to hear good things about yourself, it triggers a childlike glee in some corner of your head.

I do agree that telling your parent i love you is way more easier when they are dead than when they are alive. We live in this weird peculiar accounting world where we believe that if we let our guard down totally, if we tell someone we love them, its somehow embarrassing to them and a sort of inadequacy in us. So there’s an invisible accounting always going on, balancing love out with indifference or waiting. We conflate love with need, and start becoming shifty about some catch, some reciprocation expected out of us that we are unable to provide with the same openness. That’s why people write these cheesy things on social media about their loved ones. Writing about a person is way easier than writing to them or talking to them especially when you bring love up as a catalyst in the chemical reaction between the two of you.

But you. You are now just an idea. A possibility. An alternate reality. However let it be recorded in the minutes of the meeting that strangers walk up to us and tell us that we look like you. That they tell my daughter leaving her perplexed that she looks like her grandmother.

Let it be recorded in the minutes of the meeting that people who know us sometimes tell us that we have inherited the kindness that is the hallmark of your genes. That we couldn’t have turned out any other way because of what you were.

Let it be recorded in the minutes of the meeting that you are still loved. It’s a strange travesty of my life that my love always has to be furtive and private. That we will cut a cake in our house on the birthdays of amitabh bachchan and Mohammed rafi but not on your birthday. That a picture of you will float unknown on a private blog where no one sees and knows instead of being a badge of pride in public.

The best of me has always to be private. Almost shameful. All my loves have always been like that, the most important people in my life have always been secret, I can’t help it, it’s started since I was 3 years old. There’s some drama and heroism in that which makes me feel larger than life, as if I have a story worth telling.

However, though it never is enough, though we always keep searching, let it be on record that thirty five years after you died, your kids are and have always been loved to their heart’s content.

And that counts for something, doesn’t it?

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Belligerent

Which idiot said beauty is in the eye of the beholder?

That pompous do gooder sickly sweet prat who goes around saying beauty is everywhere if you know how to look?

What an ass i’d say if they told me this on my face.

Beauty isn’t everywhere. It’s there.

It’s anywhere but here.

And the world has a free access pass.

Everyone but me. I lost my coupon in the rain while didn’t even know what I owned.

Can you click a picture of the mountain standing a 100 feet from the peak stuck there for eternity? You are joyous at having come so close but can you? All you can click is what the mountain sees. And mud under your feet. And the occasional bird chirping away while you do another parikrama. You can go down but you never can unless a snowstorm knocks you over or an avalanche buries you. Freedom is just another con game like the beauty everywhere thing they say.

No. Beauty is there. You can only beg for morsels of it. Receive in EMIs like a middle class person and beg for a raise like a corporate slave. Check your bank statement everyday in the hope there’s some credit, some unexpected dividend.

It’s nowhere else. I’ve looked in every corner of my existence, peered under every rock I could lift. It’s not that I haven’t looked. It’s not that I haven’t tried. It just isn’t anywhere else.

Beauty is buoyant.

And I am dead weight.

Lift me up.

In my dreams I win coupons. All access passes of treasure troves which I can rummage at will. I am not given. I win.

Rarely. In most of my dreams, I lose something. In most of my dreams, I lag behind the EMIs.

A few cheques bounce. I lose.

I lose.

Something. What no one values except me. That is the worst kind of loss where no one realises it’s magnitude except me.

I fall off the edge into the ravine while trying to look at the cliff.

And in my pocket they find a picture.

In you. Everything sinks. Everything that’s mine. The sun and the sea and the moon and laughter and the blue that dazzles and the pink that scrapes off the nails.

Me. Mine. Everything.

That’s what keeps the dead weight buoyant.

Shadowboxing

It is said that as one approaches middle age, one develops a worldview and finds his own lens to see the world through it.

I find that the opposite is happening with me.

I am no longer sure. Of what I believe in. Of what I stand for.

I do not vehemently argue causes. I doubt. I second guess.

The science that i base my life on is turning more diabolical then ever. Sometimes it turns ever more simplistic and others it seems profoundly complicated.

Everything I’ve chased and learned and perfected gets redundant at a pace beyond what I can chase any more.

From the spectrum of child’s play to simple to easy to doable to complicated to complex to impossible.

I flit from rock to rock in an attempt to cross the raging stream. One step forward two step back.

I do not cross confidently and let out a hand to the person following me.

Some of them jump 5 steps and land on solid land and wave at me tempting me to take a leap.

Some others tell me there’s a whirlpool over the pebble i am standing on.

My gods don’t give me a single clue and I am tired of asking.

My footing is no longer sure. I do not know whether to go forward or back.

I envy people with convictions, false they may be.

I do not know whether I love enough. Or whether I am loved enough.

I am unsure, shaken, swayed in winds like a bent bough.

I do not put my neck on the line constantly fearing the guillotine. I am never free but there’s no one holding me back or pushing me forward.

I close one eye and try to peer deep into the unknowable, something that will free me from doubt and disbelief.

I am handed faith like a sealed package on a strange looking platter and am expected to accept it without opening it. I am handed science, like knife on a plate, to cut open the folios of a book whose pages are blank and erased and rewritten over.

The only thing I am left with is doubt. Like dust in a box.

Why give me a box if all it contains is dust?

There are only 2 loves in my life beyond all else, pure and sustaining and nourishing beyond a second thought.

1 has been taken away from me gradually and then abruptly, like taps drying up in global warming.

Where do i put all the boxes?

What do i fill in them?

Do I throw everything away and start afresh?

Give me that one truth which I desperately want.

The one which doesn’t hurt.