Tuesday, January 31, 2006

our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. our greatest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. it is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. we ask ourselves, who am i to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? actually, who are you not to be? you are a child of god. your playing small does not serve the world. there is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. we are all meant to shine, as children do. we are born to make manifest the glory of god that is within us. it is not in just some of us; it is in everyone. and as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. as we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

-Marianne Williamson

(now if you insert a few nuances about god into the spoken word, and if you take out that rubbish about being enlightened (some of us are not striving to be enlightened, we are simply trying to live), you may have something. never take anything at face value, just because it reads well. because it's beautiful. you have a truth. find it.)

Saturday, January 21, 2006

it's almost impossible,
like the rain,
or daisies
(do you remember?),
like our hands (tracing
invisible lines on each other).
i know your secrets
(they are mine),
and there is fear,
in our voices,
when we touch,
but we will not stop,
(because it is like the rain).

there are times (i admit
when i want to keep you in a little box,
with me,
but then i realize,
that i already do.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

- revised, but only slightly. it's older than you think. -

He carefully placed (not dropped) two cubes of sugar in the coffee, and stirred it until the swirls of white disappeared into monotonous, deep brown. Presently, he allowed a laugh to escape him.
"What's so funny?" Kamil asked.
"Oh nothing. Nothing terribly interesting, anyway."
"Enlighten me - I was always interested by the mundane, remember?"
"It's just funny. You, me, us - I haven't seen you for years, but here we are. And I can't help but thinking: what's the protocol?"
And Kamil laughed, too, because he realized the ridiculousness that distances create.
"You see what I mean? I don't get it. Everywhere we go, everything we do, there's some sort of order, some sort of prescribed rubric to fall back on. But where do we begin?"
"The issue here is your apparent dependence on what society thinks you should say, Ali. It isn't society's fault that it didn't equip you for this conversation."
"Oh come on, it can equip me on how to deal with the highly unlikely scenario of a sinking ship with only one more berth on it's lifeboats, and myself and a pregnant lady the only ones still on board, but it can't tell me how to talk to someone I was great friends with once upon a time?"
"You give the woman the place on the lifeboat, and wait for the water to swallow you. Ofcourse."
"What if I don't want to die?"
"Completely besides the point. The rubric you so seem to desire demands it. Now shut up and die with some grace, damn it."
A smile arched across Ali's face, again.
"Always with the grace, Ka - always with the grace."
"Ofcourse 'Always with the grace.' Take that away, and what've we left?"
"On the one hand its extraordinary how much you've changed, and on the other its incredible how much you remain the same below your skin."
"I'll take that as a compliment," Kamil said, his own smile widening.


"Give it back!"
"No..calm down. I just want to look at it!"
"I don't care, it's mine! You'll break it!!"
"I will not, for Gods sake."


"I have a cunning plan."
"Do you really?"
"Ok, so it's not very cunning, but it's a start."
"Let's hear it, then."
"You desire a rubric. Here it is: tell me a story."
"A story? Will any story do, or does it have to have a certain number of dragons and maidens in it?"
"Your story - the number of dragons and maidens is wholly dependent on your experience," Kamil said,"Though I warn you that I'm not apt to believe them if they do make an appearance. Based on my experience."
"My story? You know me, dude - no story. Very uninteresting life. We went to college, I got a degree, got a job, a fucking big television and lived the trainspotting dream," said Ali, laughing.
"You're telling me we've got nothing at all to catch up on? Yes, that makes perfect sense.."
"Nothing significant."
"You didn't get married, did you?"
"Shakal dekhi he meri?"
"That not withstanding. What happened between you and Sana?"
"We broke up."
"Ha! So we do have something to catch up on. I didn't know that, and therefore there is a discrepancy between who you were and who you are."
"No...Really? You expected us to be trapped in stasis, perhaps."
"You know what I mean..get on with it."
"With what?"
"With what we've been talking about....you. Your story."
"What is it with your insistence on my 'story'? I don't know - I lived, I worked, I studied, I partied. I partied alot, actually. Drank a bit, smoked alot, and then not at all. Got a job, lost a job, got another job, and now I'm here. Happy?"
"Point taken. It just seems that it would be...simpler."
"What? To have stories?"
"Yes..I suppose it would. But I'm afraid I've got nothing for you - you'll have to worm it out of me," he said, eyes twinkling.


"Are you crazy?!"
"Are you crazy?! Saeed Anwar is ten thousand times better than Tendulkar!!"
"No man...have you seen Tendulkar play? That guy is amazing."
"You're just an indian-lover, that's your problem."
"What?! Don't you dare.."
"Indian-lover, Indian-lover!!"


They stared at the table for a good bit. It was getting to be dinner time, and Kamil broke the silence.
"You want to grab a bite to eat?"
"What time is it?"
Glancing at the clock above Ali's shoulder, "About ten."
"Shit..yea, no wonder I was getting so hungry. Kidhar jaana he?"
"I don't know. Does it matter?"
"Ofcourse it matters. Everything matters."
"Not really. But it should."
"Yea. Probably."
"Kamil..we are desperate need of sustenance, and I vote rolls."
"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"
"My mind is nowhere near that filthy, Ka.."
"Abey ulloo ke pathe. Jafri's chalein?"
"Jafri's? Is that place even still open?"
"I have no idea, but there's just one way to find out."
"Man, that's on the other side of town. Tumhe pata he kitni der lagge gi?"
"Have you no sense of history? No sense of occasion? Look at us...the great Ali and Kamil reunited, and you're quibbling about distance to get to eat the food of the Gods."
"I don't recall ever seeing any Gods eating there."
"It was a figure of speech."
"Must have been rather dirty, unemployed type Gods.." he muttered, as they made their way to the car.


"Ka, uth."
"Kyun? Kya masla he?"
"Dinner scene. Get some clothes on."
"Raat ke do baj rahe hein, yeh koi waqt he dinner scene ka?"
He shrugged, "Call it spontaneous. Asif ne call kiya, abhi. Kapre pehno, we're leaving in five."
"Is my mother asleep?"
"Acha. Get the car, mein aata hoon."


"Atif Aslam?! Man Ali, I'm disowning you. Tumhe ho kya gaya he?"
"Oh shut up - you still haven't lost your sound snobbishness?"
"Sound snobbishness nothing. This is Atif, for God's sake..what happened to the days of knowing keh Ali ki gari mein Doors sunein ge?"
Ali shrugged, "Times change."
"Acha don't sulk."
"Sulk? I never sulked a day in my life."
"Right..right. Not even that time when I beat you on Sports Day?"
"You didn't talk to me for a week...I couldn't believe it," Ali said, not bothering to control his laughter.
"Yea well..it was important to me, for some reason."

Silence for a while, as the lights flew by and familiar roads swept into distances known once.
They turned left.

"Oye, isn't that Basit's old house?"
"Yea..I think it might be."
"Kya huwa uss bunde ka?"
"I don't know...last I heard his family shifted to the States."
"You remember that night of double-sarri?"
"What night?"
"Man, how can you forget? The night we played from six in the evening till six in the morning. Yaad aaya?"
"Arey haan - kitni chai pi thi humne? There was supposed to be dinner, at some point..we just kept playing till the sun was suddenly, inexplicably, in the sky."
"Yea man...what a night. What I wouldn't give to be back, sometimes," Kamil said.
"Yea. Young...free and reckless. Those were the days, man..we were dreamers. This city was our canvas, and we painted our stories on it. Everywhere. People see schon circle, and they think of directions, but I think of the time we hid in the fountain from the tullas."
"Correction, people do not see schon circle any longer."
"That's right...bastards..how could they tear it down? The thing's a landmark, its a part of my life. Yet, with the flourish of some civil planner's pen, it now has ceased to exist. Everything's changing."

Silence at a traffic light, another mangled soul clawing at the window.

"Have you ever felt disconnected, Ali?"
"How do you mean?"
"I'm not sure - but life is so fluid, so fleeting. You and I, we're just here for a blink of an eye in the cosmic scale of things, our place here is really rather insignficant."
"And your point is..?"
"My point, Ali, is that all of this manifests itself in a distinct disconnection of the soul with life."
"Hum khaane keh liyay ja rahe the, aur tum 'soul' aur 'life' pe aa gayay ho.."
"Don't you see?" Kamil said, turning from the passenger seat, his voice more vehement, almost violent with meaning. "None of this matters...I mean we're just here for a short, short time and we make what we can of it before everything moves on, cleans up, shifts forward, and some of us are left sitting back here in a city that does not exist any longer, trying to live a fools life. It doesn't matter."
"Tumne kya socha tha keh yeh shehr humara intezaar karre ga, Ka?"
"Mein sirf shehr ki baat nahin kar raha."
"Tou phir?"
"Zindagi - have you ever felt lost in memory? It's harder and harder to come back, each time, until you find that you're returning to a present you don't even belong in. "
"Is this about coming back home?"
"Partly. But partly it's just about home being a state of mind."


"Here we are."
"If you say 'yea' again, I'm going to smack you."
"I'm a man of my word."
"Yea," Kamil said, grinning.
"This is wonderful. You're leaving in the morning, and we're going to sit here saying 'yea' to each other all night."
"You expected something more dramatic? A speech, a heart-rending sonnet, perhaps?"
"Time's up. Got to go. You take care of yourself. And always remember: Don't Inhale."
"Yea. When do I see you next?"
"I don't know..let's say never."
"Never it is."


"Don't you think it's time you got over that, Ka? I mean all night we've been talking about the past. Which is great..was great, whatever. We had some great times, and I'm not taking away from that - but you've got to live the life you've got, right?"
"Yeah, I know..its nothing serious, just leave it."
"No, somehow I get the feeling that it really is."
"I don't know man...sometimes I just get the feeling that we've lived the greatest moments of our lives already, that it's all downhill from here. What's the point of going gently into that good night?"
"The whole 'live-fast-die-young' thing..you're not serious? I mean yea..we've got lives now, we've got stuff to do, and hell..yea, it isn't as much fun as it used to be, but it's still life, right?"
"Life in a box-"
"-is better than no life at all."
"Sometimes I think that without Stoppard your conversation would wither away."
"I'm just...not all here, anymore. I mean, I came back here...I made a conscious effort to come back, because I love this. But I get the distinct feeling that it isn't even love, anymore. You can't love something that's forgotten your name. Everything's...just memories. Tainted. The people have moved on, the lights have moved on, and I'm standing here thinking whether the life I'd come back for never really existed in the first place."
"Nothing stops, Ka. Nothing."
"Yea. It's a shame."
"Oh well."
"So what now?"
"Sounds like a plan. Next left."
"I remember! I'm not that old. Yet."

The road was just as crowded and the sign said Jafri's, just the same way as in memories of late nights and unauthorized escapades. They drove right by - the unlit neon and dusty, fallen shutter shaking lightly in the wind.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

- tell me, when will the river run green? -

a, exasperated: who are these people?
b: ordinary people under extraordinary pressure, a. what the hell do you expect? Grace and Consistency?

the insider
notes, the second
young writers face a particularly nasty predicament - they can neither afford to sound jaded and staid, for there they lose their 'edge' (as if we're all somehow hewn from rough rock. which we may be, if it comes to that), nor can they ever slip into childishness. and the trick is in finding your own niche without caring a damn whether some other young writer somewhere thinks 'what is that? he sounds fifty..', or if some old hand throws the paper away muttering 'kids...they haven't seen anything, don't know anything.'
the tragedy is that they are both right. we've seen just enough to begin our sentences, but not enough to end them - and there we lose ourselves in the space between letters.
there is no period at the end of this sentence
to those who look to the stars, and find salvation in their enormity and the self's own minute-ness in the 'general scheme of things', to those who fly at night when no-one is watching, and who fall only when the sun rises, i have words. they tell stories of daring, and they speak of not falling back on the sky as an excuse, but holding yourself to it's standard. there is so much beauty.
you're beautiful.
even broken glass shines.
sometimes it's alright to test yourself by fire - but there'll always be someone waiting on the crest of the hill, wishing you didn't have to. love is when they let you hurt yourself a little bit, if only so you can trust yourself a little bit more.
we're all in a cycle. hold yourself to the sky.