Dreamcatchers

I’ve walked this way many times before. Haven’t ever found you at the end of it. How do I then know that you are there? That, if I walked this road enough, I would find you someday?

I remember that day vividly. Like it was just yesterday – though it has been many sleepless nights since then. The same black and white meadow, the same path. The same unreal whisper of a world not complete. The same leaves whistling a windless song. The black, stoic in it’s all-knowing stands stark against the white, joyful in it’s disregard for knowledge. Me. Dressed in a cacophony of colours that shrink back to stand out. There is courage in cowardice too, they tell me. I’m puzzled, but I nod back. My feet move involuntarily on the tiles, my eyes take in everything. I sense a deja vu. Like, I’ve been here before, but can’t place it.

Something scurries across my tracks and I stop. It’s a tiny squirrel, almost like a black and white cartoon. Lost before I can find it. I notice something from the corner of my eye. Something amiss in the pure black and white-ness. A streak of red on the white tiles. Tracing out the path the squirrel took. I follow it gingerly, unsure of what I’ll find. I follow the red to the trunk of a tree, at the bottom of which lay a tiny bird. The red stopped here, but the bird has no traces of it. I consider going around the tree to see what the red leads to, but give up when I catch a closer look at the bird. It is a strange little thing, this bird. Black beak, white feathers, beady eyes. All normal. But it has the strangest claws. Almost, coloured. Somewhere between being and not being, he is caught in between worlds, probably wandering in from someone else’s. I softly hold him for a while, till he loses all colour and becomes a part of mine. Then I open my hands, blow a kiss and let him go.

I look back to my path, but it seems a long way off. I make my way back to it slowly, the bird having alerted me. Perhaps there were others that might have wandered here. I look for signs of company. Walking alone becomes tiring after awhile. I start noticing signs of encroachment. The leaves that seem to rustle to a hint of a wind. The path that loops to places I don’t recognise. I quicken my footsteps. I need to find the source before I get lost, or worse – wake up. I look under stones – it could be an insect. I look into mounds of earth – it could be a mole. I peep into windows – maybe it is another person? I hear a distant bell. My time is running out. I begin to run. I am struck by an urge to know. Suddenly, I trip and find myself catapulting through the air. As my eyes slowly focus to the world spinning, they see you upside down. Lying without a care in the world, grinning lopsidedly at the idiot who tripped into your dream. I begin to smile back, but by the time I finish, I’m facing the other way around. The next cycle, you aren’t there anymore, and before I can try and figure out where you could have possibly gone, I land.

And, I wake up.

Dance

I dance in ecstasy, I dance in pain,
I dance in fear, sometimes in vain.
I dance for knowledge, I dance for gain,
I dance for release, often for restraint.
I dance to remember, I dance to forget,
I dance to awake, awaken the dead.
I dance in creation, I dance in narration,
I dance in elation, for no occassion.
Dance is for the world, for the world to see, Dance is mine, Dance is me.

Character

A quiet night. Cold, cold fingers moving swiftly against the keyboard. Characters, scenes, plots swirl around the head, materialising and vanishing just like the words on the screen. Nothing feels right. Everything is misty.

How does a character get created? I see a shadow of a person sitting next to me at the table, without a chair. I nudge. I don’t know if it is a him or her. But suddenly, I feel a swish of nearly invisible hair. It is a girl. Smiling vaguely, lost, empty. As though without any thoughts. I look at her for a while. Then I realise. This is the woman I’ve been writing. Empty and lost. Thoughtless, for I haven’t put any thoughts. But shouldn’t characters have thoughts for themselves? I suppose you have to start them off first, though.

Let’s see. What do we put first? A childhood memory, perhaps. Playing with a toy. Maybe it breaks, maybe she cries. Maybe she feels betrayed by the friend she thought she had in that toy. Sad.

I look up at her. She seems to be more real now. She is cradling something in her hands. I ask her to show it. It is the broken pieces of the toy.

The story is beginning.

Drown

Scene change. Dissolve. Cut to. Fade in.

The world crumbles around me. Walls are built, broken down, lamps shine and flicker in the light and darkness, people materialise, emotions surge and disappear. Things change in the blink of an eye. I do what I’m told. I enter doors, exit lives, all in a matter of a second.

Sometimes, I don’t like it. This person seems interesting. Why can’t I speak to him longer? But I wonder if he is being directed by the quill, too. What would he do without the quill? He seems nice enough.

Maybe I should say something. ‘Hello?’ The quill stops scratching furiously. I’m dumbstruck, I didn’t really expect it to stop. I splutter bits of un-dried ink from the page. I hadn’t thought this through.

The quill looms over me ominously. I try to say something quickly before it comes back down on me again. But I find I can’t speak. I have no words in my mouth. I have no words in my mind. I feel what I want to say, but I can’t find a way to say it.

Then it dawns on me. I can’t speak unless I have the words in me. The words that come from the quill, the words that it wants me to say. Words that I have no control over, actions that I cannot stop. I can feel what I am feeling. But I can say only what I am made do.

It all makes sense. But I still drown.

Going Home

There is no feeling like the countdown to going home.

‘Home.’ It’s a conflict-ridden word for me. Is it a place, a situation, a state-of-mind? When I am in Madras, I long to go back ‘home’, Mumbai. But I don’t really love Mumbai. Not in the way normal Mumbaikars do. I have all the qualities that can be found in a typical Mumbaikar – a crazy sense of punctuality, the do-or-die mentality, the ability to wriggle myself through any situation – pretty much like wriggling oneself through a quarter-inch space in the crowded ladies compartment in a local train. But I don’t feel ‘at home’ there. I can’t keep up with that pace, with that lifestyle. The rush always makes me feel something deep inside. ‘I want to go home’.

So, in that respect, Madras should be home, right? I love Madras. It has given me enough reasons and more to love it extra every day. The smell of medu-vadas on the road, the beach bajjis, the buses-that-take-you-anywhere-anytime, the theatre elite, the kutcheri season vayira mookuthi mamis, the Tam Brahm tamash’s and the Non-Brahm biriyanis. But no matter how much I love Madras, I don’t have a home here. Irrespective of whether I am at my grandparents’, my Amma-like dance teacher’s or at the awesome Jyashree’s, I still get that feeing. ‘I want to go home.’

All-in-all, one might conclude that I am, to put it mildly, homeless. Or perhaps going through a spiritual crisis.

However, someone then told me, ‘Pea. Home is where the heart is. -And if the heart is not sure, then where Amma-Appa are.’

It was so simple, I was surprised I hadn’t seen that earlier. Home is where Amma-Appa are. Where I can run into their warm hugs, where they can awkwardly push me away while I try to plant wet, sloppy kisses on them publicly, where we can fight about them unfairly usurping my room while I was away, where we can have long discussion about the future, the country, the universe and life – and then try to find logic behind my intense dislike for Okra. Home is where I can sleep at 3AM and not have a bath, not answer the door, not clean my cupboard, not look minty fresh all the time. Home is where I can be me – because Amma-Appa are the only people who will love me unconditionally in spite of that.

There is no feeling like the countdown to going home. I’m coming home, Amma-Appa. Leave your arms wide open.

Moving On

Everything comes to an end. The good, the bad, the ugly. Everything has a shelf life. Whether you like it or not. Friendships, relationships, love, life. Nothing can prepare you for it. It comes out of nowhere and hits you smack in the face – and leaves you feeling empty inside. Like a bit of yourself has gone away and left you with nothing but bits and pieces of a broken past. Trying to fix it only leaves your hands scratched and bleeding. But you still try. You try to pick them up, you try to put them together – like trying to make a whole of something that always missed a piece – only you never noticed it missing till you tried putting it together. You keep trying, not giving up. But there is that one point – you have to give up. You have got to stop.

But you know, new things come along. Just like the old things that end – they turn up when you least expect them. You are wiser now. You don’t expect, you don’t fantasise, you don’t try too hard. You let it be. Warily, doubtfully, you observe from a distance. The void gets filled slowly, but surely. You resist it – the feeling of wholeness has deceived you before. But it doesn’t stop. It forces its way in. It makes you complete. It makes you forget what you had lost, and remember what you have gained. It creates your new jigsaw puzzle. You put it together, like bits of your life.

Are you missing a piece here, too? Will you find out too late? Everything comes to an end.

Then you discover the answer. It is the memories. They are the missing piece – the piece that completes every relationship, everything that has ended – and will end. Put them in – the puzzle will be complete. Complete, for cherishing, but also for finally putting away. For moving on.

Running

What is it, that makes one want to run away so much? Is it fear, itchy feet or just simply boredom? Is it thirst for adventure, or search for solitude? Is it to dip your feet in a stream, or raft down the current?

It creeps up on you, this need to run away. Sometimes, as you are reading at a play. Sometimes, as your sitting on your windowsill, drinking coffee. Sometimes, even when you’re actually running. You can’t really explain it, it’s not like something is going dramatically wrong. You just want to run away. Where to? Maybe you’ll find out. Maybe you’ll be surprised, maybe you’ll realise it was there all along, maybe you’ll figure out you always knew. Maybe, you’ll understand, life has brought you full circle and you’re back where you started. It’s all about the timing. Always the timing.

‘All I want is a place somewhere’, it can even be the cold night air. For all I know, that’s what I am looking for.