The Ketchup Bottle

Living is frustrating, isn’t it? I mean what’s the point of this life? Always being led by the breeze, floating, helpless, sometimes trying to be a rebel without a cause. Sometimes, trying to dream, be that dream just for a minute, just for a second or even less than that. But there is no dream, is there? There is just delusion. You don’t have it in you. You just don’t. You keep telling yourself that you can do it until you think you believe it but then you never really do and finally you give up. I know, I know, I know, I am talking bullshit here, ain’t I? This is not going on a positive direction. You think? Why am I even trying to impose my own spoiled mood on you? You didn’t wake up to read this kind of shit. Remember 2018 is the year you resolved to stay away from this negativity. The truth, however, is you can’t stay away. Denying is more painful than simply accepting. So accept it. You will experience an unusual kind of freedom. It’s not like I am not fighting, you know. I think I still have energy to put on a brave and bold face and occasionally shout, “Shut up!” to this babbling brain. I still have some calories to spare for this kind of cool shit. But it’s not always easy being that person. Like today.

 

However, here’s another thing though – when you try to think of a life without a dream, you realize that it is even more pathetic. Getting up, doing some weird kind of work without will and without heart. Every morning brings another headache and every evening you cheerfully bid adieu to another pathetic day with a few cocktails swirling inside you and generating a temporary feeling of euphoria. Before you know it, you are already an alcoholic or a pothead. Some people get away with more socially acceptable and non hazardous ways – they hide in books, movies and TV series. Sometimes, I feel that the whole entertainment industry is kind of dubious in its motives. Why do we need entertainment at all? What are we trying to distract ourselves from? Umm..our own lives? Of course, it’s a shallow way of thinking. We are not always distracting ourselves, are we? Sometimes, we are just looking for new ideas and inspiration. The kind of ideas that complete us, maybe?

 

Anyway, it’s not quite awesome – living like this. You are happy and in another moment you are bombarded with the reasons you shouldn’t be happy. Because there is always, always, always so much to do. All those things that we need to do but we never actually do. Why? Make a choice woman! If it’s too difficult, then choose something else to do. Choose something that you think you can do. Really. If you feel it is doable, then fucking do it! Why aren’t you? What is stopping you? Just fucking give it all your shot. You are the one who made the choice, remember? You wanted this! But we won’t do that. What we would do instead is write a bullshit post like this and laugh. Hahahaha. Joke’s on you, miss. Well, shut the fuck up.

 

Why are we such asshole to our own selves? I don’t get it really. Fucking take the things that you think you deserve. Look them in the eye and tell those people that you fucking deserve it and they will be convinced. They will be. The hardest part is convincing your own self. It is such a useless war. Well, like all wars. How are we so important and not important at the same time? Sometimes, life seems as insignificant as an unused 2017 executive diary. We are flooded with despair when life makes us appear tinier than a speck of dust in a speck of dust. Individualism – they tell you how important you are. Are we really? We just want to be important. And sometimes, we don’t want to be important. We want to know. But we don’t want to know. We want to want. But we don’t want to want. Because if there is indeed something you really want, then why the fuck are you not doing anything about it. If you want it, get it. Keep trying unless you have it. Yeah, these words look pretty as an instagram post. Not so much in life. I am a fucking hypocrite.

 

Ah, it’s not simple – being human. It can be simple. But brain, brain, brain, brain. Why do we keep repeating the same mistakes our whole lives? We do things we didn’t really want to do and then we keep wondering about the stuff we wanted to do. Boring. Boring. Boring. I curse my life. It is not boring. It is anything but boring but I can’t see it another way. If I perceive it to be too exciting, somebody’s gonna come along the way and hammer some senses into my thick skull about how it’s really not. Oh my important fucking life, my important, important, important life that I wish to keep talking about. But really you don’t give a fuck. You are waiting for me to shut up now. You want to talk about your own life – agreeing, disagreeing, presenting a copied idea as your own. Shameless bastards, all of us. Mass produced industrial product – with the same fucking ingredients, same fucking taste, same fucking packaging. We are all the same. There are selected few who are not but they are produced in another sophisticated and elite factory altogether. We, on the other hand, are those low quality cheap products that supermarkets are bombarded with. We come in identical bottles just with a different date of manufacturing and expiry dates. Sometimes, even those are same.

 

But even a bottle can have a story. Can it not? I want to believe that it can. Get up. Get up. Get the fuck up. Ask yourself again. What do you want? Ask yourself again if you really want it. If the answer is yes, go for it all the way. Don’t be another bottle with the same conveyor belt to getting rotten in the fridge story .

 

Actually no, you are that another bottle already.

 

Or maybe there is still hope.

 

Whatever makes you happy, man. Whatever makes you happy.

*

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Lonely Bunch of Fuckers

Aren’t we all lonely bunch of fuckers?
Trying to hide from our own demons in each other’s company,
Trying to find our own selves in others,
How does that even work?
How does it even end?
Our eternal search for eternal connection – something or someone who could save us from destroying ourselves.
Aren’t we all lonely bunch of fuckers?
Settling for company we don’t even like,
Listening to things that we sort of despise,
But better that than listening to our babbling brain –
The person will eventually shut up, the brain won’t.
Aren’t we all lonely bunch of fuckers?
We flee with numb solitude when we actually need companionship the most.
Such lonely misguided souls!
Wanting to lead, wanting to be led,
Searching for truth, searching for love,
And at the same time shit scared of both.

Aren’t we both such lonely pair of fuckers?
Cheers to yet another glass of whiskey!
Hope it melts the frozen insides,
And the frozen tongue,
So that the vocal words flow better than the thoughts.
There’s no need for love tonight, for love is scary and too fantastical to be true,
So let’s wait until the line between lust and love vanishes out of the blue.
I might agree to meet you next time,
and the next time next to that,
I might agree to see you, talk to you, laugh with you,
And hate you even more than I possibly can,
But that doesn’t matter as long as you drive my emptiness away,

Until it returns again.

*

Infinity Loop

The other side of the dream
lies another dream
lies another clean slate
that you need to start scribbling on –
Infinity loop
According to my disoriented head
And according to my head high with hope
I am just in a bad mood.

The other side of dream
lies new sets of insecurities,
More shit to deal with.
What did you think, you’d get away so easily?
What the hell is wrong with you?
I think even happiness hurts sometimes
When I laugh
often my heart yearns for the solace in sorrow.
Crazy, isn’t it?
What the hell is wrong with me?
Most of us don’t even know how to live!
Why do they not train you before throwing you out to Earth?
Here, we are trying to decipher the meaning of life
through random Instagram posts
deemed inspirational according to current popular culture.
Perfect.
Hence, the training,
Hence, my point.

Anyway, the other side of dream
lies a new list of confusions
But wait
Why is this moron complaining again?
Can’t she just revere what she has?
Who’s complaining?
I am not complaining!
I am just trying to get rid of some pathetic filters of my mood
I hate it when I am poetic like this
I hate it
I hate poems
Though those are mostly what I write
I hate the honesty it drips with
And I hate how people simply don’t get it
Not their fault though
Poetry is pathetic.
Here, I admit it.

The other side of the dream
lies the new kind of rage
and ungratefulness,
New sets of blows to conscience
New sets of excuses
New kinds of cruel addictions
You thought you could get away so easily?
Sit back
Relax
And get another cup of coffee;
The door just leads into another room
for you to find another door
to yet another room.
I guess the key is to not lose patience
(At least, that’s what the tweet said)
What do you even want from your life?
Maybe food?
Or a quick nap?
Long naps, actually,
Very long indeed
But then you cross a threshold
And you enter into a series of nightmares
Not your position of particular liking,
But you are too lazy to wake up
And your brain is too desperate for you to do the very same.
So ultimately you give in,
Eyes open
Mind shut.
Inherent surviving skills, I figure.
I am impressed
Maybe they will come handy
when I am being too harsh on life
on myself,
like today?
Come on get me out of here,
Brain!
Brain?
Where the hell does it go when you need it the most?
Wake me up, will you?
No,
I know,
It will watch me suffer.
Let me get some popcorn for you
Loser. Fucker.
Oh, you need coke too?

But anyway,
The other side of the dream;
Welcome to the infinity loop,
To the Hotel California rules
It will be easier to ignore, easier not to perceive
That once you check in, you kind of never leave.
The hotel is humongous;
Infinite rooms, infinite doors
You are lost now
Just like you were lost before.
So does it really make a difference?
On the other hand,
I heard the room service is great
And the food ain’t that bad
And despite being in the gigantic maze of rooms,
And corridors,
And floors,
And halls,
And what not,
You can still easily find the bar.

I mean, just saying.

*

I am an Alien

Beautiful places, beautiful people, beautiful pictures
And I am not a part of it
Despite being a part of it
My existence – dusted at some neglected corner
not meant to be discovered,
I stand silent, trying to admire, trying to convince
that I am in love with what lays before me
An ineffective camouflage for how really detached I feel
In my head, I am already miles away
Though I stand right here
In my head, I am already mourning the separation
Though I haven’t felt a single ounce of love for your company
In my head, I am crying over an alternate future
Though I can’t even admire the present.
Beautiful pictures, beautiful places, beautiful you!
Would you call me insensitive?
Is my heart really a stone?
Never overwhelmed or underwhelmed
I am just whelmed
Not too happy, not too hurt, not too furious
I anticipate a storm inside
But there’s no destruction
There’s no scope for creation
For a poet –
I am surprisingly devoid of turbulences
Maybe I am being too harsh
Maybe I am being too vain
All this meaningless rant –
Beautiful pictures, beautiful places, beautiful people!
And I am not a part of it
Despite being a part of it.
I am an alien and I couldn’t be more ordinary.

*

Somewhere in the Universe

“You have nothing to say to me?” you asked, sounding a bit surprised.

I looked at you and my head jolted me with a series of flashbacks of numerous diary entries, self-conversations and monologues.

It’s not like I have nothing to say to you. Perhaps I have a million things to say to you. But I can’t say anything. You can’t say anything, despite being a writer?  Writers are the ones who struggle the most for the right words! Of course I don’t have words to say it! But are there really any confessions or accusations I would like to make? No. I am a blank chit, devoid of emotions. I am not generally like this. You know how I am! I am brimming with all kinds of emotions most of the time. Sometimes, it’s so overwhelming that it gets quite out of control. I have pictured this conversation so many times in my head and every time in every single scenario, I had no words to say to you. Why? You might ask. It’s not like I have not been hurt by you. Maybe I am still in denial and I am not willing to truly accept it. Maybe I am not that hurt and I want myself to be hurt just to know what heart-break tastes like. I have no definite answer for that. But you give me nothing but indifference and all these fictitious conversations in my head. Each day I am colder and more aloof. However, I still remember – You. I don’t know how I do that. I am sure you never intended this. Well, of course, you never intended this! But to be honest, your intentions don’t matter anyway. I know what I meant to you – Nothing! And there is nothing wrong with that. When I think about you, I never consider my own judgment or perception or my own state of mind/heart; I become you or whoever I think you are. And from your point of view, my meaninglessness in your life makes perfect sense. That’s why maybe I don’t have anything held against you. If am zero for you, well, I am a zero. I don’t mind being like that. It’s refreshing in a way. Obviously if I had any choice, I would definitely like to change that. But I can’t do that. It’s your life. You are the protagonist. Protagonists have their own characteristics; they don’t follow a writer’s rule! They make their own rules! I have nothing to say to you because you still mean so much to me and I can’t really confess that without you being offended. Offending you would be a delight but I have no energy for that neither the will. Maybe what you’d feel is not offence but guilt and then you’d ask for my forgiveness. How can I forgive you if I don’t even have an answer for whether at all I had ever been hurt? I have nothing to say to you because in my head I have said it all. There are things that I remember. There are things that I have forgotten. There are things that I am grateful for. There are things that I am sorry for. In my life you would always have a value despite my failure in gaining the same in yours. It’s not a shame. It’s a tragic beauty. But I can’t say it, at least not in a way that makes sense to you or even to me.

“No” I nodded as I nervously glanced down at my wrist watch and eagerly waited for time to pass by. You glanced at your watch too. “Is there anything you would like to say?” I asked trying to ease the awkwardness. I received a familiar nod from you. We both looked at each other with artificial smiles pasted on our faces and secretly acknowledged that this was indeed the last time we were (not) enjoying each other’s company. And yet, I saw the fireworks in the background at our last good bye as if conveying that even our last miscommunication and small insignificant mis-story had the capability to create a minuscule impact somewhere in the universe.

***

The Lost Virginity

Not that she ever asked for it or did anything to prove it in her entire life, but virginity had always been deemed pure much to her now-lost curiosity and newly-found annoyance. Right from her birth, every one – her parents, her siblings, her relatives, even her neighbors had announced that she was a deity to be worshipped, to be protected from evil and to be preserved in the shelter of innocence and compulsory happiness. There was no way to find out if this devotion, this surmount importance given to her protection was real or just a hypocritical lie. But then, it didn’t matter. What mattered was that virginity herself had to believe that she was fragile. And allowing her to be saved could indeed serve as a direct stairway to heaven for herself and everyone who knew her. And hence, it had begun even before her own beginning – the house arrest. Virginity was never permitted to step outside her house. The obvious reason being that too many things could go wrong and if she, god forbid, got lost in the wilderness outside, she wouldn’t be pure anymore! She wouldn’t remain the goddess that she supposedly was. In fact, she would turn into something quite contrary – shame. So, virginity spent her life locked inside her lovely home. There were days when she would insist if she could be allowed to go outside and at least be permitted to feel the freedom for a tiny moment. But she would be tactfully persuaded, manipulated and sometimes even violently subjugated to stay. The tactics didn’t work for long. To the acute annoyance of the fellow members of her family, she became more adamant over the time. When the truth ran out of its authenticity, when the lies stopped working, when the non-existent reasons could no longer be created, they lost their trust and began to lock the doors. Virginity, O the poor girl virginity, still longed to explore the wilderness, the captivating world beyond the walls. But as the rules became more stringent and the ways to confine her became more brutal, she started losing hope and slowly began to accept her unfair fate. Meanwhile, a different story continued to spin among her family – a story completely different from what they publically told. Secretly every person living inside that house knew her destiny. After all, one look at her and you would know that Virginity was bound to be lost. But no one could dare to accept that.
And so it happened, on a quiet careless night, virginity stumbled upon the doors that were accidentally left unlocked. Had the day she never thought would arrive was finally there? She wondered if she should go. She wondered if that risk was really worth taking. But hadn’t she dreamed about this moment her entire life? This was fate! This was her prayers coming true. This was everything she wished for – A chance! And so she ran with eyes filled with excitement and her toes bare that were longing to touch the grass for the first time. The wetness of the dews traversed right across her spine sending shivers through out her body. The smell of the wet soil intoxicated her. Never had a touch or a smell felt this amazing. Her eyes could finally find the vast sky above adorned with multiple diamonds. The view was heavenly. Never had she ever experienced this breathtaking beauty before. Never had she thought that her paradise would turn out to be even more beautiful than her wildest imagination! So, she ran fearlessly into oblivion. She ran further and further away from her home, from rules, from shame, from meaningless myths and traditions. Finally she arrived at a juncture where stood destiny gazing at her with her arms wide open. A step ahead and she knew she might not be able to find her way back home. She had travelled too far. Maybe it wasn’t a good idea to completely abandon the sense of familiarity. Maybe the unknown was exaggerated. Maybe it was indeed time that she’d return. She stepped back reluctantly but destiny didn’t move. “Beautiful sensations lied ahead – how could you deny them?” she asked. Destiny was right – she couldn’t deny them. Hence, she took the path she wasn’t supposed to take.  She knew things would never be the same. And even if she did, she knew she might never be accepted. But all those ugly truths didn’t bother her. She had melted into her pleasure, into her excitement and into the emotions she had never felt before. Though her feet bled and calves pained but she did not stop. She had merged into this beautiful land now. Every touch mattered. Every sound resonated. The taste of freedom was divine. If this was the price she had paid for being lost. Then, this was worth it. Lost? Wait. What was that? Panic? The night suddenly turned dark and the forest became too dangerous to stay in any longer. In that moment of her vulnerability, sharp tinges of pain began to assault her. She grew too conscious of her bleeding feet. She frantically started running back in hopes of finding the way to her home. But she had no idea how she could return. She was lost! Virginity was lost! How did you let it happen to yourself? A voice rebuked. How could she explain the power of that impulse? In that moment, when she took the path, she had been in love. In that moment, she knew she couldn’t be saved. She had no choice. There are things that are too beautiful to miss despite the lurking dangers. She just had to experience that beauty. And hence she did.

She searched in darkness for signs that could lead her home. Then in the mud, under the glowing light of moon, she found her own footprints. Overjoyed, she started following them. It pained to walk but she walked anyway and eventually she reached the juncture that had transformed her life. She limped the way back through the familiar road. Soon, her home, her prison came into the view. The door was still unlocked and her jailers were nowhere to be seen. She tiptoed back into her room and began to wonder about the surreal events of that night. How beautiful it had been! She was lost and she was found. And now she was here! Back home! Would she lose her stature of “being a symbol for purity”? But what had been this purity? Why had people taken such drastic measures to retain something that didn’t even have any true meaning?  What would they do if they found about her? Would she forever be branded ‘lost’? But didn’t the fact that she had experienced something so mystic and returned also made her qualified for being called ‘found’? Why could virginity always be lost and never be found?

Peeking out of the curtains of her thoughts, she looked herself in the mirror and asked, “Who is Virginity anyway? Lost or found – what difference does it make as long as she is happy?”

***

The Study Table – III

I

II

III

Life moves on. So, I moved on too –

My new destination? A scrap yard. How did I come to be there? Didn’t I tell you that my ex-owner found me too old and too obese for his “renovated” home? He was so sure of my ugliness and my uselessness that he didn’t even put me up on sale – He threw me straight to the Scrap yard. Before I could even analyze my surroundings, I was taken by a roadside barber. So, now I had a new job role. I watched people come and go, some getting shaved, some getting massaged and some getting their hair cut. I remember how happy the mirror placed on me used to be. I despised her. Her happiness made me grow immensely jealous of her. With each passing day, I became more and more morose. Throwing me away like garbage after all those years of my diligent service wasn’t a fair treatment. Couldn’t he just chop me off and use me in a bonfire? I would have been happy with that. Sitting there, by the road, was humiliating! I am the one who needs to be kept sedated with smell of books. I am the one who survives in the presence of poetry or the equations of chemical reactions or trigonometry problems. The lumps of hair accumulating on me were infuriating. The barber scratching the razors on me didn’t make me feel better either. Initially, I had thought that the girl was worst. Then I thought that the scrap yard was the worst. But somehow, I kept descending to worse of worsts! I was tempted to call the barber worst too. But I couldn’t, fearing the ironic implication of that statement. Nevertheless, fate took the unintentional and the unsaid challenge anyway.

The barber abruptly left one day. Initially, it seemed like a dream come true. But in reality, it has been a nightmare. I spend my days and nights alone on the road side. So, I get roasted in the afternoons, wet in the rains and remain immensely dusty all the time. The horns of the cars haunt me, my loneliness haunts me, my uselessness haunts me, my existence haunts me and I stand waiting, waiting for my end to finally make an entrance. The way things are progressing or regressing, I am sure my end isn’t far. But if it is, if it is somehow still far, then the worst haunts me. And here you are – miraculously standing with that unwavering look of admiration in your eyes. I am not flattered. I am amazed. For a moment, I am tempted to forget what I have been through. For a moment, I am tempted to be hopeful. For the first time in a really long time, I am happy. It doesn’t have to last long. I know it won’t. But I am grateful to you for this. I am grateful to you indeed.

“It’s a pity how this table is thrown here. It should be used, it’s so pretty!” I hear the woman’s voice.

“Pretty old, you mean. Pretty broken, you mean. Pretty ugly, you mean.”  Her friend replies and I find myself agreeing with him.

“Pretty apt for our café, I meant.” The woman replies.

“This? For our café? No way!”

“What’s wrong! It matches with the theme. Plus, I will work on it. I will make it pretty presentable and pretty awesome, you will see!”

“I am not so sure…”

The woman comes near me. I shiver at her proximity. I shiver at her touch. It really had been a long time since any human had stood so close to me.

“The table is old, yes, I know. But the wood is still good, see? They don’t make such furniture anymore! Let’s take it to our garage. I will repair it.”

“You do that in a month’s time. Or else I will throw it.”

“You can count on me!” she replies excitedly.

I refuse to believe my ears. Does she really mean it? After this long series of abandonment, did this just happen for real?

Epilogue

I was sure I was going to return to the road again. I didn’t think I was repairable. I was sure that the woman would give up on me soon. Miraculously, she didn’t. I ended up being in her café instead. I couldn’t believe my own transformation. Though I am no longer a study table I admit, but I am always sedated with a stack of books at my corner. Quite often, I am also greeted by the heat of laptops and the mild heat of the hot coffee filtered through the coasters. Sometimes I am greeted by interesting conversations, interesting people scribbling interesting things in their notebooks and I love it.  I love it all. But then amidst all these beautiful chaos and entropy, I keep myself reminding that I am, at the end of the day, just a table.

***

Things that I don’t understand – II

  1. Fluid mechanics. Office politics. And heart.
  2. Black holes. Black-heads. What existed before big bang. And heart.

So, what’s the most popular topic available in the market for us average folks? Politics? Partly. Sports? Partly. Game of Thrones? Yes, definitely. Shit, this post should have been about that. But, okay I settled for the second best thing – Opposite gender! Of course! The most common thing that we don’t understand yet! Yeah, yeah, yeah as mainstream as it is, this is indeed going to be about him. About that guy.  “What guy?” you might ask. Good question. He is the guy you mostly hate but secretly love. The guy you secretly love and that’s why you mostly hate yourself. He is the one who has technically departed from the circle of relevance of your life. But, oh, he is there alright. The guy you are almost tempted to text when drunk. But self-control matters and you don’t really want to climb down the ladder of self-esteem anymore. So, you don’t. But still you are “tempted”. Point to be noted, your highness! The guy you might have met just once but then that was enough. The guy who never bought you any flowers or took you on a “formal” date (or let you do the vice versa) but even the lack of these things was enough. Enough for what? Enough for your obvious inference that you need to stay away. But you didn’t. Because how could you simply do things that you shouldn’t and make your life a hell lot simpler? The guy who offends you, who disrespects you in the most obvious ways and yet he matters. The guy who is not interested in you even a bit and hence all your interest comes pouring down on him. Yes, that guy. You don’t like him. Or rather you don’t want to like him. You wish for indifference. You wish that the fact that he has a satisfactory life without you doesn’t bother you. He is that guy whose proximity might be something you yearn for. But you wish both for his presence and absence. He is toxic. So, you stay away. He is toxic. So, you search for an antidote so that you could stay with him. You don’t wish to acknowledge his impact on your life and usually you don’t. But for how long would you deny?  You can’t hide the truth from your own self. Your self knows about the way he is there in your thoughts – lurking, hovering and always peeking through the curtain. “Why? Why that guy?” You ask everyone present in your body. And oh so cutely they all nod their heads with innocence dripping through their faces and they will tell you – “On ne sait pas! (We don’t know!)” You don’t know. I don’t know. God doesn’t know. Science doesn’t know. So, who knows! Damn. That guy. “Come on! You could do better surely,” you tell yourself. But then why must you belittle yourself and him both by such line of thought! You could do better. He could do better. Who knows who could do better? He is not worth it. He doesn’t deserve you. But you don’t know that. Maybe it’s not you who deserves better maybe it’s him who deserves better. Maybe his negative projections in your brain are merely one of your futile efforts to get him out of your head. For what it’s worth maybe he is indeed amazing. Too good for you. Maybe not, who knows? Can we really have an unbiased opinion about this? But do we really need that opinion? So, why insult ourselves (and him) by this pointless debate? Pause. Let’s acknowledge that our paths intersected for a reason. Pause. Let’s acknowledge that nothing lasts forever. Pause. Let’s recall that there are many people who once meant the world to you but are nothing more than a name in your Facebook friend list now. Things like that happen all the time and with everybody. Pause. Yes, you both shouldn’t be together. And thankfully that’s not even going to happen. But can somebody tell you that it’s okay to think about him? Pause. He had been amazing and you are grateful. Pause. This is a phase and it will pass. You learn and move on. That’s life. Stop. Okay?

Okay. But that guy, that person – ‘Why exactly’ is what I don’t understand.

*

The Portrait of a Writer

The artist looks at the writer again, this time a few minutes more than his usual duration. He then dips his paint brush in the palette for blending the colors together into just the right kind of shade. A slight stroke over the eyebrow and he looks back at the writer searching for his own permission. After the slight approving nod from his intuition, he makes a few more bold strokes over the other eyebrow. The result is magnificent. The imperfections that had been bothering him suddenly melt away. He looks at the face of the writer again and compares it with the portrait. He had been working on it for the past three months and finally he has arrived at the point where he can proudly say that it’s been completed. He puts down his brush and allows himself a brief moment of pride. Then, he asks the writer to see his portrait for the first time.

The writer’s reaction was not quite what the painter expected. He imagined a proud smile, a string of compliments and a pair of grateful eyes but all he received was a single inexpressive word (just a single word, mind you from a writer!) – “Good”. The laconic reply suddenly turned his masterpiece into garbage. The writer’s suppressed smirk still haunts him.

The portrait of the writer stares back at him, teasing at his shocking incompetency. He picks up his brush once again to give a last finishing touch to the painting but he is too distracted by the writer’s lack of appreciation.What could possibly be missing in this painting? Nothing! It’s perfect! How dare that insolent bastard insult his work? How dare he? What does he know about painting anyway? No, there’s nothing else that needs to be added here. The portrait is complete. Even a single stroke would prove to be redundant in this painting. And redundancy is not permitted in the work of reputed artist like him. So, he puts down his brush and pours himself a glass of the most expensive wine he owns in order to celebrate his moment; His moment of arrogant denial. He moans at the exotic taste of the wine only to feel annoyance instead of satisfaction.

The portrait stares back at him with his screaming dishonesty.

No, this can’t be like this. As if under a spell, suddenly he realizes what has been missing in the painting. Almost immediately, he engages himself in series of ferocious strokes, completely taken over by his instincts and subconscious memories. Caught up in a symphony that only he is capable of hearing, he engages in beautiful dance with his artistic instincts. When he at lasts stops, he is dumbfounded by the transformation. The man in the canvas looks back at him like he knows all his secrets, like he has looked into every corner of his heart, even in the most reticent spaces in his mind that is known to him better than the artist himself. This baffles him. He immediately looks away in embarrassment. However, when the amazing beauty of his creation begins to sink in, he sheds his cowardice and faces the portrait again. This time the gaze of the writer intensifies. The man in the portrait is no longer whispering but speaking in resounding words that while the artist was busy capturing every detail of his face in the canvas, he had been writing a story of his own – where the roles are reversed, where he is penning down his entire existence in a bunch of syllables, recording every insecurity, every emotion, every story that his physical presence unconsciously conveys. While he painted the veins emerging and disappearing at the back of his hand, while he painted the cuff link peeking out of his coat, while he struggled getting the correct shape of his specs resting on his nose, the man in the portrait had already written a tome on him. The painter feels completely naked, a feeling he had not been willing to accept since the very beginning of this painting.

The next day when the writer walks into the studio, he is shocked after seeing his portrait. The intensity of his own gaze doesn’t spare him. Through the corner of his eyes he sees the artist smiling at him. The writer smiles back in appreciation. Their eyes meet but no word is spoken. The emotion is conveyed perfectly.

Touché, comrade.Touché.

***

“What is wrong with your choice?”

I step into the coffee shop for maybe the twenty seventh time (Actually, one hundred and twenty seventh time) and I find my usual spot in the corner; a small table adorned with two yellow chairs which lies next to the turquoise wall and to the right of another similar set of table and chairs which often act as a latent source of entertainment for me when I eavesdrop into the conversations of the people occupying it. Yes, writers are shameless that way. The waiter arrives shortly with a bottle of water (How I wish I could write wine or a pint of beer here) and smiles at me in acknowledgement. I smile back and take out the same book from the adjacent book shelf that I was reading the last time I was here.  The waiter gives me the menu. But he knows it’s of no use to me. After serving other people, when he returns, he throws a dazzling smile and asks, “Latte?” Noticed the adjective dazzling? No, I am not exaggerating. Screw lungs, in that moment, my heart must have pumped all the blood in my body to my cheeks. I try to show every tooth in my mouth in the best way I can. Too busy managing my red cheeks, I obviously can’t find voice in my voice box so I simply nod yes. My brain retorts angrily, “Stop blushing, you idiot!”

I might try to be and sound all mature and wise like most of the time. But say one word nicely and I will transform into this idiot before I know it. I stop blushing on my brain’s order and go back to my book – Go set a watchman. A wonderful line catches my attention.  Jean Louise, who is now all grown up (or maybe not) says this to her lover, “Once you get past all the boa feathers, every woman born in this world wants a strong man who knows her like a book, who’s not only her lover but he who keepeth Israel. Stupid, isn’t?”

I am jostled into a similar track of thought, “Stupid indeed. But true at the same time – A man who knows her like a book!  A man who not only loves her but he who keepeth Israel. But do all women really want the same thing? I am not really sure. I am sure that I am no different but I am also sure that there must be people out there who are. Not all of us can be the same. We have different genes after all! –

I am pushed out of my thought realm when the waiter returns with a cup of latte and throws that smile again. Stop it with that? Will you? I blush again and scold myself for being such an obvious teenager. I return to my book hoping that I would find some shelter away from my stupidity there.

All women want the same thing. All women act the same way. You think you are different but you are not. You think you are special but you are not. If that’s true then the concept of one true love shouldn’t exist at all.

God, you are overthinking.

The pages turn to chapters, chapters turn to parts. All that is left in my cup is the ghost of a steaming hot coffee; the leftover foam on the edges. All that is left in my head are the Negroes in Maycomb County. On the saucer plate lays two small packets of sugar that sit as if troubled, in fact, horrified by my refusal to consume them. Keeping them company is a destitute piece of crumpled tissue paper that is too hopeless to even complain. I guess the only happy members at my table are the book and the empty glass of water. I realize that it’s been two hours and I decide to leave. I make my way to the counter. I find the same waiter there. How lovely.  He smiles (Oh god that smile) and asks my name. I tell him and before I could even realize what just happened, he has thrown in other questions. I don’t hesitate to reply them all but at the same time my brain makes an ironic enquiry, “What is wrong with your choice?”

This question isn’t asked by the part which often admonishes me over how my priorities are not arranged right in life. And if they are, how I always seem to follow the ascending order rather than the descending one. The question isn’t asked by the fundamentalist part of me who absolutely refuses to acknowledge my mild attack of pervert-ness. The question is not asked by the classist, who I think, lives in the fantasy world where I have royal blood flowing through my arteries. This question isn’t asked by the part who often tells me, in a rather hurtful tone, that I am a young woman with ambitions so I mustn’t  invest my attention, efforts and time on the things that don’t really matter – like opposite gender. I am in search of satisfaction, meaning, happiness, not a groom or even a boring company for a night. For what you know, he says, loneliness comes and goes. (But does it?) This question isn’t asked by the motivational speaker in my head who doesn’t ironically speak much but when he does he makes sure that I am aware of the fact that I deserve absolute best and nothing a decimal point less.

So, who has asked this question? I am sure I heard it in my head! Well, it has been asked by that part, the most interesting part, my best friend who keeps me company all the time. “What is wrong with your choice?” Oh no, it is NOT talking about my choice here. It’s his – the guy talking to me at the counter.

***