Friday, July 31, 2009
'good god,' mother said, gathering the folds of her nightie around her, defensively, as she opened her door. 'is she at it again?'
uncle q burst out of his bedroom, as if propelled by the weight of his own paranoia. 'who is it?' he asked, breathless. 'what's happened?'
baba, long gone, may well have woken up, too.
'it's k,' i said. 'she won't want you all inside. please, let me talk to her.'
'are you sure?' said uncle q, never quite sure of words.
mother had already shut her own door, with a not altogether quiet slam.
i opened her door, gently, and asked if i could enter. i only saw her shadow move, but entered anyway. even terror has patterns.
'kya huwa, jaan,' i said, touching a shadow's hand in the darkness.
she just rocked, back, and forth.
'arey baba,' i whispered, careful not to jar the cobwebs of her dreams from her eyes.
'what makes you scream so,' i didn't say.
in hindsight, that was the night the summer really ended. ever after, she accused me of hiding behind fiction. i told her she only really believed in fiction.
'you've got to get out of here,' she said, as i left the room, watching the sunlight stream in.
- keep me in your heart for a while -
Thursday, July 23, 2009
there was nothing, of course, to be done about that now.
ali, his youngest, came trotting out to him, in the garden. they knew they weren't supposed to disturb their father when he was sitting out, in the evenings, having his cup of tea. this did not, however, stop them.
'tell me a story, baba,' said the little one, plaintively.
that was the problem, in the end. they always wanted a story.
'not today,' he said, gently. 'go play with your brother.'
'but that's what you said yesterday,' little ali said, suddenly a keen keeper of records. 'and the day before . .', he added, reproachfully.
'what if i don't have a story to tell you today?' he asked, hoping for a reprieve.
that did it. suddenly, ali went from smiling expectantly, to wide-eyed grimace #34, an expression which required particular muscular dexterity, and was almost always a precursor to tears.
so he told him a story, one so filled with colour, so twisting and intricate that, while it completely captured little ali, also distracted him from the fact that it meant nothing at all.
and, so satisfied, little ali trotted back to the house, to play with his brother. not before, of course, he had given his father's leg an adoring hug.
'tell your mother i'll be a little while longer,' he called out after his son, as the front door clicked closed.
what he needed, he realised, more than anything, was to be someplace a little colder.
- someplace a little colder -
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
breathing the same old air, seeing the same old deal. got to get out to the sea, baby, he said, got to get out to where I can breathe.
somewhere colder, this time. i've got to get out of this city, to somewhere where the shadows aren't quite so dark, the silences not so deep.
got to leave this city, this city doesn't get me. got to go somewhere I can see.
in the shadow of a palace, you once whispered quietly, many years ago, that you'd wait for me. I didn't understand then, quite what you meant. we were younger, of course, and we loved. god, we loved.
somewhere darker, this time, where the chill gets into your bones. somewhere quieter, where the shadows stop speaking. somewhere far away, where your hands stop enveloping mine, in every silent moment, where i can finally bring myself to speak, again.
i love you, he said, so softly that it was only the shadows that heard.
departures always came so much more naturally. staying, ultimately, was always the problem.
- get miles -
Friday, July 10, 2009
i searched for you, that night, in the darkness, amongst the yellow-orange clouds that enveloped this city, our city, but you had flown by then (i wasn't to know till later; till it was, perhaps, much too late). so many miles, we said - just so many words.
and now, there is only silence. lamplight and silence, silence and lamplight, just as there was before (everything seems so much longer ago). and somewhere between that lamplight, the darkness, and the clouds that hang lowest in an impossibly bright night sky, you'll find someone searching, desperately, for something that he thought he lost, once. fingers clawing at the dirt, eyes burning through the deep, deep darkness, palms sweating and legs giving way.
what would zevon do, he found himself asking no-one in particular.
i could call her tonight, he thought.
- humour me -