Thursday, December 4, 2008
through the countryside
and the signposts
and yet we headed
across the dried grass
and lazing cows
and moving mountains
with just faith
that this is the right road
then we either sang
a sigh of relief
or made a U-turn
but for most part
it was hope
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
And nothing had changed though things had grown smaller, like the guest house with the titled roof where yesterday’s children ran in and around balconies playing or hiding each other’s things. Later those children were shouted at by their mothers because a half-read book had got left behind.
Had I come back to get it?
I don’t even remember which shelf the book was left on or if there were any shelves at all. I had come to see the intactness of the place. I was but a passing warrior laden with thoughts.
The place was unmarked by sunlight and surrounded by trees winged with cool air. I marked the place from where the cane baths were removed with a dry stick on the sand. These were the hideouts our younger selves had chosen to hide buckets of shells reeking with black silt and salt water, to outwit the boys.
Under the trees plastic tables and chairs lay. We arrived and sat upon a centre table with a hole at its middle announcing its ability to hold an umbrella. Palms and coconut fronds left breezing shadows on our skin. We ate hot fish. The waiters had changed, but obviously. And amidst the roar of the noon sea came the rotting smell of weed.
I set my squinting eyes on the sea's horizon humming inconsequentials and matching word for memory. The silt and the immovable black stone yawned in the noon more bleached and porous than ever.
A seabird made a shrieking call to the quiet.
Words hung and droplets of sweat etched our backs. A scent of afternoon as contaminated as leftover food, the moo of a distant cow and passing clouds eluded us on the periphery of our minds.
At that moment we could walk into any place restored by memory. We could also live on the other side if we so chose.
Once in a while.
Just once upon a time.
Monday, August 25, 2008
I cannot see
the fisherman’s trail
till my eyes steady
Elephants of the sea
call out to giraffes of the sky
they are all grey
In mental combat
I drink hard glasses of wine
The road rips the field
the rain, the road
They are all mine
The food grows alive
as the first thought
on a second morning
A city confused,
a cousin of the village
- a disqualified town
Bartholomew James Jude
Sinners in ripe youth
Dance in music and
(c) Rochelle Potkar
Saturday, August 23, 2008
And they didn’t even tout it as a spoof-of-sorts.
It starts out all fine with the director believing in telling us right from the start who the perpetrators were going to be and by the interval what they were going to do. So all we are left with is to add up the trailer and the hype and there: you have just the execution and “the how” left to see.
So when it disappoints, making you chuckle instead of jitter you don’t even think ‘why’. Because everything has been already told!
I won’t go into the bickering. I am done. I ‘used’ few friends over a cuppa for that. All I really want to say is about the structure, maybe plead: Couldn’t they play with it? Like not telling us who the perpetrators would be.
Right. It would then become a thriller-horror or some ill-fitting genre but hic “Who cares?”
At least it would have entertained.
Monday, July 28, 2008
There was so much green on the outside
that you could be sick, land sick
And ‘in the middle’
And left to the chance
of a hot meal
when your survival instincts
People spill over the house
like froth from a beer glass
- how well they adjust to
nooks and crannies
how barren are the rooms
- a mind with its ideas, a room with its furniture
what remained weren’t words
but the rusty, rain-watered swing
Shah or Shah Impersonator’s bean-counting face
the grassy dirt paths home
and wet winding wheels
and the people at the back (of the car)
gagging you with rock songs
I told you
there was too much green
[we won’t talk of the states of mind we carry.]
Thursday, June 5, 2008
it was sushi on the round
when we were above the ground
the rail tracks made an arresting sound
when we were above the ground
sound of a large sea surround
when we were above the ground
the wind sped abound
when we were above the ground
the rain fell sound by sound
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Sometimes, it was in the not knowing.
Most of the times, it was in the not knowing. Billy never cared to know and always enjoyed a miracle or two. His auras opened up to miracles. His living became a self-prophecy of his expectations of miracles and we became a saga of a cold, step-by-step process.
We nodded over coffee.
But it was Billy who had a real, good time enjoying up each ‘miracle’ that came his way. In the end, Billy won and when we tired we started enjoying things just like he did. There were other people who went into the cold logic of why it happened. They took on the mantles of analyzing and the coffee.
We ran after the rainbow.
So I awake sometimes in the middle of the night thinking what it must be for Aarushi to lose her life on a bed that she had slept on from the time she came to live in that house or that room. Did she see a dark figure stalling in and slitting her throat in a jiffy, before she could even scream or did she know the face of the person coming to kill her – in that matter her fears even worse of mistrust and sheer terror. Of course you can’t feel death and by the time you feel the wholesome of it you are already dead but what about the minutes or hours before that. What when she ate her dinner and retired to bed? Did she read a comic book? Or watch a late night tv show? Did she say her prayers? Were her thoughts regular? Or did she had an inkling that that was to be the last night of her life, the most gruesome which could never have been imagined. If we were to ever imagine our own deaths, which I am sure we do some time or the other thanks to the powers of imagination bestowed on mankind we do imagine it to be painless and surreal maybe a mishap, an accident but very rarely gruesome, painful, terrifying and so so unexpected.
It is done in the quietness of your own home. What worse place could you have asked to die and what better place I think sometimes? The place where you grew up and knew the best and are so familiar with should be the place where you life ends in a blood-slain way. The bed in which you sleep, soaking with the blood of your body. Too much, I say and the tamasha that follows after this brings out so much of human fallacies that we mask behind glossy ‘mature’ tv serials and uniforms and protocols and proceedings and files. Actually, we are all still barbaric and so wild, almost animalistic.
Anyway, may Aarushi’s soul rest in peace. May she not carry with her the terrors of her last birth (this one) to the next and may she help all the people who loved her find justice and eventual peace. She could have been. She still is. She will never be forgotten – always remembered – for the moments of grief and acute terror she must have gone through in the confines of her own home before her unjustified and untimely death.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
He said he took 6 hours to travel to a place of book signing.
A writer’s life involves a lot of hardwork, nods the enterprising bimbette.
They sat down and he narrated once again with a little quirkiness how he answered his fans never-before-asked questions. The girls, their breasts oozing out, looked at one another. What was it with writers? It was the duty of fans to ask. If they were intelligent, they wouldn’t ask.
They snigger. They sip.
He continues from the memory of heat, dust, crowd…
… Sir, now that you are famous haven’t you thought of rubbing the noses of the publishers in the mud, those that had rejected you?
he: I have not only rubbed their noses but wrestled them down into wet sand. I have knee-jerked their groins and poisoned their wine.
Question 2: Sir, you are the best writer in English (a tapeworm squiggles within). How can my daughters write like you? They have read all your books but I want them to write like you.
Answer: There is a particular grass found on the banks of a river in South Asia. You need to pluck fresh offshoots and eat it within moments of tearing it from the soil. It will fire imagination. For further inspiration, swim naked in the Yamuna for a period of 20 days. And there you have a book ready.
[Two or three people have left the room in inexplicable haste.]
Q 3: Which is your favorite Indian book?
A: The Kamasutra.
Q4: No Sir, literary book.
Answer: Oh. A suitable boy by Vik Seth. He is a story teller like no other. I bought two of his books at the traffic signal. Those mobile boys with snorty noses sold them to me. Must say, your country has a unique cab door-to-cab door delivery system.
Q5: (a chirpy, adamant girl): So, how do you get ideas for your stories?
Answer: Oh, it’s a natural process.
I am God-gifted. Period.
I glean the newspapers – the crime and gore section. I suck on research.
I redraft (around 17 times).
I am totally God-gifted.
q. Sir, would you like to say anything to us, your fans.
1. why do you’ll always find mistakes in my books and send me long messages on them?
2. why are there more writers than fans at every book signing event I go to?
3. why do you’ll have so many questions?
4. why do you’ll drive the way you’ll do on the roads? Why does no one follow the white lines?
5. why is cricket and sex...I mean Bollywood more interesting than literature in this country?
5. why is it so hot?
6. why are women here more attractive than men?
[The mob closes in. There are books to be signed and the store closes at 8:30. There is only half an hour before the next IPL match.]
Friday, May 16, 2008
Also, his pride was palpable and rarely have I come across people even with more ’sophisticated’ jobs talking with this much pride. If the people are good, the processes suck. If the processes are good, the management sucks. If the management is good, the work sucks. If the work is good, the commute sucks. We never have an absolute chime in our sentences when talking of our work. So, my first instinct to Hemant’s absolute pride was lash-fluttering disbelief. But then when I quickly came to terms with it, I congratulated him and joined in this so- rare-a celebration of one’s work.
Ah, Proud to be whoever-that-is-I-am and Completely so.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
I was once taken to a Rinpoche and even his name was not available to me. We sat on wooden benches, my friends and me, and even them I couldn't retell who they were. It was a dream, which was real.
We sat. We waited. Till the Rinpoche entered the room. His eyes steady, deep. He recited his advice to us by mind-reading our problems and I got shifty thinking that my innermost problems were out in the open (because of him) for all to see, or rather hear. But I shouldn't have worried because when I checked later with the others they said the same thing. They heard the solution to only their problems. All else was hidden. How could the Rinpoche talk to one and all at the same time, in the same tongue, with the same language and yet mean differently to different people?
My head spun into the morning.
"It's the same source" my conscious mind concluded.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
The worst thing Fumiyaki-San could have done was sit towards the far end of the swimming pool, watching me climb out of it, as I fumbled over the slippery steps. The best thing Fumiyaki-San could have done was to attempt cooking Japanese fried rice in my kitchen. He was a vague, funny man this guy. Very interested in food, in women and rice wine but very uninterested in language arts and politics, even the history of his own country.
He lived in an inn, one of those cheap one-room accommodations you get in a crowded city like Seoul and he spent most of his evenings with Jackie, my Korean friend, courting her or trying to get her into bed or with me and my husband at the pool or sauna room. He even tried his lop-sided Japanese-English on me ”Ah! you looking very good. very sexy, today” or “Ah, beauteefool” appreciating my attire, which would mostly be a lazily put together maroon skirt with blockprinted gold on it matched with a similar colored t-shirt. It made me blush, those remarks. Understanding from where it was coming and also the uncanny earnestness with which they were delivered.
Fumiyaki-San made me spend a small fortune, the day he proclaimed it was his birthday, on buying spice and chicken. We already had some chicken stored up in the fridge but he insisted it was not going to be enough. However, when he reached home and saw the packets, he said we were over-stocked. I called my husband home early from work and we foursome celebrated with our choicest wine, Fumiyaki-San’s birthday. We toasted, sang on an off-key note and drank. Only later, halfway through the meal were we to realize that it wasn’t his birthday. That was next week. There had been some misunderstanding.
So, we celebrated Fumiyaki-San’s birthday a second time. The real one. This one at Jackie’s parents home tucking into plateloads of kimchi - carrot, spinach, root, and colors that make up for a tangy rainbow with large bowlfuls of mackerel soup and shreds of boiled chicken. We wished him well as the topic changed to politics. Jackie’s father brought out the long-awaited hatred he possessed (through years of thinking, I presume) for the Japanese occupation and sought to be excused by Fumiyaki-San as he was a guest! But Fumiyaki-San wasn’t bothered. Not when we compared the aristocratic British to the ruthless Japanese rulers in an attempt to forge our niche, coy Korean-Indian friendship. Nor when we drew parellels between Pakistan and North Korea.
Fumiyaki-San finished the kimchi and started on a second round of mackerel soup, nodding blatantly and I wondered if Jackie’s mom and grandmom (Aabojee) would have anything left to eat. (Because they stood in the kitchen like two decent women from old time India waiting to serve upon their guest).
I teased Fumiyaki-San later, remembering how he had bluffed me on my tightly controlled budget against surplus chicken, parsley (the bottle of which I brought to India till it rotted away) and tomato sauce (a whole new bottle, when we already had enough for his chicken recipe).
I didn’t tell him how I had cut corners to allow a shopping budget for the end of the stay. He smiled his disarming smile and continued picking at his fish.
Fumiyaki-San didn’t teach me anything. Yet with his flabbergasted, half-flustering sentences he formed the backdrop to my visit in Seoul. I remember him sometimes when I think of Seoul, the snow or the extremely inane moments that come in between great ones.
Or am I being too presumptuous? Maybe, he did teach me something and I refused to learn.
I’ll be back because I need to figure out Fumiyaki-San and why he stuck in my memory for so long (It’s been a year, almost).
I shudder to just let it go.
(c) Rochelle Potkar
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Why had the God’s abandoned me? Is it because pain and fear were already there and were enough to teach? One guiding the other, the other riding the back of the former?
The sky hadn’t been lit with pristine light yet. And already I knew what I wanted to do.
"Eat it" I went to the fruit I had, just the previous day, out of mirth, scribbled on ‘criticism’ and changed it to ‘pain’ ‘fear’.
And don’t you think the Gods had answered, even in their stark silence?
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
There is a man from across the street
who fashions old buttons on fray trousers
and who puts an ending, heavy borders
to my new silk crepe sarees
he sits with his legs strumming the machine and his eyes on the road
to check if he needs to smile
at anyone he knows
there is a laundry guy who waits
like his conscience
in a stained banyaan
a measuring tape over his neck
(for god knows what)
who makes a receipt for every
dry cleaning item you give him
a carbon stuck in his notebook
he hardly looks;
unlike the tailor
who is easy
and waiting to please
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
It was the day he left. She gathered herself up in layers of fine clothes - unwanted by the temperature of the day, unwelcome by the weather of the night. A feeling unknown crept over her skin - heat, fear, rage, maybe even sodden guilt.
She slept under a starry, moonless dome.
The same nakedness that he had once liked and which she had once encouraged seemed sinful to keep. She pulled blankets over her waistline and woolen scraps over herself. Even the sweltering summer heat couldn’t challenge the effect it had on her.
She hated nakedness from now on.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
The cool rays of evening sun is just blending into a point where twilight is about to happen. Birds are going home.
If there is one thing I learnt from my last love, it is staying true. He didn't speak so, but it is the only amalgam of his homecoming.
Arriving on a fluke into a dusty place called home.
It’s a rain forest and you can hear the bleating of germ.
Some nectar flies. Some birds, exoticise.
If you hold your breath long enough, a brook breaks into laughter.
If you release it, spring arrives.
The wind in hair makes trees shake in delight.
Your feet may be covered in sores, ant bites
Your shins epigraphed in thorn
But there is enough melancholy here to graze your throat, vanquishing the short thirsts on a long journey.
He came, wandering through the wilderness of his mind.
Wading through the talk barks of searching, and to understand. And when he sees me he knows we are to be partners in crime.
Well, up until a time.
I sit with his head on my lap. My hair covering my breasts. The wind flapping against us, whispering mimes.
Ah! the erotica of a finding mind.
He sucks onto raw, savage fruit. Its acrid taste renders his tongue insipid.
So we speak, in alternate.
He is prime in his urge to know. I am the same. We are twin soul.
There is a canoe in the distance sitting over rippling, gleaming moon but we have set assail. Not in it.
We settle our ears close to ruddy soil, thinking with our eyes.
The breeze caresses our goose pimpled fleshed skin.
The frogs start croaking from the black river behind
and when the fronds atop a very tall tree shiver we know our journey has come to an end.
He moves a distance. A shadow.
I move a step. A silhouette.
His nose makes a faint mountain against the ridge of his cheek.
We move away further.
My laugh lines are disappearing. It is dark.
I can sense the teeter on his little finger has stopped.
A crackling of jungle wood fires. Orange flecks soaring with desire.
It is the past that is changing her garments, every moment.
She refuses to stay quenched.
There is a blanket of hungry amber ...all over.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Maybe she's a bored housewife
Maybe the men watching her know better
Maybe they don't
Maybe she isn't bored
Maybe she's lonely
Maybe she's not
Maybe she has a loner DNA
Maybe she's thinking of her lost love
Maybe she's not
Maybe she feels she was never loved in the first place
Maybe she's self-pitious
Maybe she thinks too much
Maybe she is just theatrical
Maybe she's playing with us too
Maybe she has too much time on hand
Maybe she is bored
Maybe she's a bored housewife.
Friday, February 22, 2008
she did have no feeling
life would pass by her
fire under its wing
she'd be indifferent
if she were stone
she would be God
people would come with woes,
knowing only too well that
the wishes they so desire
would pass around her
Thursday, February 21, 2008
the days are unbearable
they are hideous and there is the sun
that causes inseparable loss of sense and fluid
it is the night that is calm, aromatic
in its stringent hue
owlish peace; neon blue
where she hides her peace
and the reasons of her persistence
and there are so many, besides her
who are not getting
their nights’ sleep
in this strange city
of faded winter longings
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
We thought it would end when the sun set and waters receded
I thought it would end when my cat died, suddenly
You thought it would end when you didn’t get that raise
I thought, it would, when I saw how you still remembered her
You thought, it would, when you found someone else
I thought, it would, when you didn’t come calling for days on end
You thought, it would, when we meet face to face
I thought, it would, when we draw the last breath of a late evening
You thought, it would, as long as winter lasts (which is not long)
I thought, it would, when summer sets in
You thought, it would, when we finish all our thoughts
I thought, it would, the moment we shared our last embrace
You thought, it would, when we have nothing more to say
It outdid all of us
It outlived all of that
It outwit us
It’s having the last laugh
Friday, February 15, 2008
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
tears welling behind closed eyes
as I heave the corpse of my
to its final resting place
'are you okay?' asks a stranger (or someone I thought I knew)
'define, okay', I say, 'so I can tell'
my soul is watering through my eyes
the stranger embraces me
'happy valentine's day'
love is in the air
I look back
at the fumes arising
out of the ground
where my love story lay
will love ever die?
even to this day
(c) Rochelle Potkar
Monday, February 11, 2008
Didn’t we all want one?
When we wrote our stuff
I have got him by the cuff
He has got me by the strings
(Winding on my neck)
Every inch he moves closer
my eyes turn in
Every inch he moves further
my color is thin
I’ve got the muse
He is the same one
From the shop
The mannequin in the dark
Which you could see only half
He is the same one
Who you would love
and love to forget
But now that he's yours
you have a price to pay
for his huge appetite
his uncaring delight
I have got him by his goat
He has got me by my heart
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
when she touches you
with her smile
when her eyes light your heart
the warm red of your ears
when you hold her hand
Prickly drops of yearn
will rise out of my back
like an exodus of flame
and when you bite into her cheek
Her jaw line
I would melt, morph
Sunday, February 3, 2008
were that many philosophies
that many theories;
lessons of a lifetime
friendships that had to pass a certain test
(all put together)
needed that many words to mend
that much time
that much thought
and I want to forget you
be what I was before
because I never learnt
why you came
and if you came
what you brought
and now that you have gone
I do not understand if I am
less by love or
more by experience
Should I wear the ‘less by love’
as a handicap
or the ‘more by experience’
as an ornament
But one thing is for sure
that you remind me
of how I had left
a boy with dreams in his eyes
across a college road
never to come back
He told me later
he took six months
my absence equaled
in many moments of memory
in many words from friends
probably that’s the same thing now
you have come to make me bleed
and show me the opportunity cost
of a love lost
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
like the mist atop a mountain
that spreads a girdle of thin cloud
over the mouth of a deep, warm crater
some do it loudly
like thunder that crackles
harshly, sharply on window panes
and makes deliberating drops of rain
some do it inanely
like it's someone else's child
that they are cleaning, bathing
some do it purposefully
like it was the only thing
that happened between here and Big Bang
and it would be the last word in the Human Race
I do it quietly, noisily in my head, heavily in my heart
detached, disobedient and disarrayed
and I never use a pain killer
- that's an addiction
it's easier to consume it whole
that is an even better addiction
once you know how rusty it really tastes
of how the morning had dawned
when you first set eyes on me
I had known that your voice
had many textures
but I found its sonorous quilt
the tassel of your mind
from where the spring arose
Remember how we played games
that were once reserved for all
and that now
closed in on us
We drew each other’s souls
in our breaths of hard tea
and matched our conversations
in smoked winter steam
How you painted my countenance
with rosy dew drops of sun
on a milky white morning
in a pink city; where
we left our baggage’s behind
and you carried but your flask
and I, my Pandora’s box
we played magic with each word
and stitched our dreams
with tacky, large-lettered desires
You used blotting paper
to wipe away the tears
that arose out of my eyes
from the chills of a man-pulling ride
how didn’t I tell you that
I had measured you shoulders
(bit by bit)
on the span of my hand
and found my name written all over
we danced in each other’s head
and drank each other’s wine
and see how these sublime spaces
these chance occurences
have spun themselves once again into a frenzy of time
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
to sink deep
like the bed
that gloats with the blood
of the river
See how it stays
like a worm, a fester
as I try to make poetry
of something that is an SMS
or a thought
You are living within me
as we lift our hands
Hold our heads
and look down at our feet
we will find
marking each others
Monday, January 7, 2008
How I wish sleep came to me so the tiredness could drain and how I wish I could be awake while I slept so that I could keep on thinking, looking, watching and observing the night.
These were the days when I wanted to break open from my body. These were the days I wanted wings to fly. My legs would form crooked commas as I lay on the bed with my head tilted and my hair reaching for the floor. Some nights, I thought of the future. The forced, picture-perfect future.
It was always like this. Let’s say a place in Dubai – easily reachable and also closer to home, where I would have a house of my own with a tiled terrace which had a rusted ladder going all the way up to a black water tank. When it would rain I would dance on the terrace and this was my idea of freedom and worldly-wise-speaking, independence.
This is all I wanted then. Independence. Freedom.
Now it is the words that bring me to them. Now that seventeen is long past.
The tiled chips on the terrace, the wrought-iron ladder, the septic tank, the rain; they have converted themselves into shapes and forms of words.
Even the night is a word and the unblinking star a phrase, like memory of faraway friendship on the verge of being strung together and discovered naked.
Seventeen, unbecoming as it is, is another word.