Blurred

Isn’t it amazing that there comes a special time when you’re out on a trip to the mountains or somewhere outside the city, and you’re standing outside your little cottage and facing a mammoth night sky – Your hands reach out to your pockets to capture that breathtaking view in your phone. But in that faintly moonlit place, no camera can do justice to what your eyes are witnessing. So you instead hold that magnificent view in your eyesight and save it in your heart. You know that you’ll eventually forget how gorgeous the sky looked tonight. You are aware that over the years, this moment will blur into a memory of something you had once seen but can’t vividly remember. And that evanescent characteristic of the moment is what makes it even more rewarding. You can’t save or share it, but you’ve got to savor its magic all by yourself.

~ Pavan Tarawade.

Brought to you by

The year is 2030.
You live in a macro-rental housing society inhabited by a thousand more people living in matchbox-shaped houses. Google owns it, and they call it a Smart box.
You are in your late thirties. Almost everyone you know works at Amazon or Reliance. Today is Friday. You decide to use the accumulated points on your card. The employers have given you one day’s leave for a month. The office shares a social media update on your behalf – it is an animation of you thanking them for being a great workplace. They brand it as a wellness time for employees.
You decide to go out for some beer. At the café, you meet someone and have a little chat. They dislike your opinions and give you a low rating with two stars.
You hop onto an Uber bus. The facial recognition app greets you by your Citizen code. The driverless bus runs over a bunch of people. Thankfully, they are all homeless, and the system ignores it as an error.
The Spotify chip in your ear begins to play a track by Imagine dragons, but it is interrupted by an advertisement asking you to upgrade to a pro-premium account.
On your way back, you decide to stop at the local Kindle store. You dimly remember it used to be a Crossword book shop at one point. They are all Kindle stores now. You sit down and join a few others who are watching elections. You really hope that the Tesla guy beats Adani to become the new global president. He has promised to run a contest for free tickets to Mars every year.

Evanescent

Remember the smell of winter lurking in your childhood house?
Like your ancestors’ thoughts pinned on the brick walls?
November has brought it back enveloped in its smog.
It gives you a sweet ache for a place you could never move on from.
You know you’d seen the monsoon crawl out of the front door.
Then why do memories of June still chase you like a ferocious dog?
You think of the rain-soaked streets in August.
You miss the flickering street lamps that wept throughout July.
Maybe, we are wired to love the bygones.
We’re bound to search them again in a kaleidoscope of time.
Standing at your bedroom window,
You hear the Palm leaves whisper something to 3 am streets.
“Hold onto the November, love. While you can.”

Carpe diem

Alternate realities

“Every decision made is a decision against something else.”
The multiverse theory is simply mesmerizing.
Whenever you are presented with a choice,
you create an alternate universe with an option you do not pick.
Do you catch the last train, or does your parallel version?
The delicate guillotines of options, aren’t they?
When does it start or end?
Do you choose to collect silences or words?
Do you make sure you touch the roses with or without the thorns?
Do you move out of the town or stay back?
Do you get out of your house and take a left,
Or do you walk straight and bump into a stranger?
A stranger who later becomes your best friend.
You are but accumulations of all these moments,
and yet you vividly mark as yours only a handful of them.
You are now and then.
A thread of forever and nothingness.
A puzzle of summers and raw winters.
You are holding time with both hands
but forgetting it in soft memories.
A thousand of ‘you’ are living your ‘what ifs’
at this very moment in the alternate universes.
Maybe our dreams are our memories from the worlds we don’t live in.

Elixir

It’s a Sunday afternoon.
The old forest is your latest hiding place.
You run deep into the woods,
where the riverbed smells like dreams, you don’t dare sharing.
The dreams that didn’t know where else to flow.
You wonder if forests know what their breathing does to your wounds,
or how often you turn to them.
How much you have already forgotten,
and how many years you would have gained,
if you were more like them – the big, old burly trees.
You like to think of forests as a poem written by you centuries ago.
Your favorite part is ‘a bird looking for a gentle tree to rest.’
And hers is ‘a tree quietly looking for lost birds who wish to be held.’

Oblivion

I began this day as I do most days,
Pouring coffee over the plants in my head.
Filtered pictures with a #throwback,
Make me yearn for places outside the window pane.
But I have reached the rock bottom,
The social tells me I can’t scroll no more.
A tall, sturdy tree is who I have become.
Mourning the mundane work from home.
The seasons blend in the background,
as I’m glued to yet another meeting invite.
With another tall, sturdy tree on a Zoom call.
Is this how the lonely forests are born?

Mumbai

I have had a recurring dream.
It starts with me waking up at the break of purple dawn, my favorite time of day. I have always loved this city, at this hour, when it is still sound asleep. I can look at it through my window for hours. I have. I can hear it breathe and think of myself as an actor in one of its countless dreams.

In my dream, I see myself getting up and leaving the house wearing my night pajamas and a camera slinging across my shoulder. I think I’m headed down to Powai lake. I’m not so sure.

I am walking down the building. It’s the same old place that I had called ‘home’ for years. As I come around the end of stairs, the child in me goes for a jump and skips the last two steps. I say Hello to the security person who looks like he’s just taken over the shift from the night guard. I walk outside and take a deep breathe in. It feels as real as a dream can get.

The society gate has just been opened to the new day. Delivery boys are rushing in with renewed hopes. Oreo, my favorite dog wags his tail and I pet him saying, “good boy!” I look at my favorite couple – a huge tree and a bench sitting beside her. I smile at the thought of all the memories I’ve trusted them with. I’d like to think that they smile back.

I stroll down the loveliest of all streets, one that changes view with my every footstep. It looks perfect for our chance encounters, for our surrealism to merge into our reality.

I see myself hopping onto a local train and share a greeting with a new stranger for the day. The familiar voice from the train announcement gives everyone enough comfort for the day. I stand near the train door and let the wind flirt with my hair.

Blink of an eye and I’m sitting at Prithvi café. I fold the sleeves of my shirt all the way up to my elbows and feel proud at being surrounded by art connoisseurs. I wonder how many of them will later remember the moment they’re sharing right now. Sun beam escapes through the crevices of tree branches above and my eyelids close in.

I open my eyes and find myself playing with the strap of my office shoulder bag. My colleague stares at me like she’s seen a ghost and wears the expression of ‘what the hell I’m waiting for’ on her face. I walk inside the place that’s going to be more than a workplace. Few known faces turn around to say Hi.

With my heart overwhelmed with a pleasant feeling, I find myself in a cab on the way back home. I get down near Powai and walk towards a café at the corner. ‘Aromas’ it says. I keep looking at the place and a man sitting at the table outside turns around. I see myself holding a cup of Americano and with dreams for lifetime in eyes. He shakes his head looking at me and retreats into the conversation.

I think I hear someone calling out my name. I turn around and I’m blinded by sunlight breaking through. With my half-shut eyes, I think I see you across the street. I reach out to you, but I can’t move. My pockets are full of stones. You stare at me from distance and the syllable of your laughter fills the sky. It is mixed with a deafening alarm tune of my clock.

I see myself spiraling skywards. You look up and wave me goodbye.
I wave back to my favorite city.

Aaji

zz

What comes to your mind when someone says Aaji? (Daadi/Grandma)
I immediately think of the MasterChef from our childhood. I remember the one who used to cook delicious sabudana khichdi and thalipeeth for me. The one who would tell my mother, “I know exactly what he will like. Let me cook it for him,” with a sense of love and pride beaming across her face.

The one who narrated stories of Mahabharata to me and my sister. And also the same person who would scold my mother not to fast because ‘Gods would never want their children to stay on an empty stomach’.
I have far too many fond memories of her. Of course, I have seen her fight with my parents too. But the good parts outweigh those times far too easily.

I remember few funny incidences from my childhood. I had an aunt who lived downstairs – the one who never got married. As a kid, I have asked my aaji at least a thousand times ‘Why does she not have children like other people?’. Aaji would burst into a laughter every single time I said that and instead of answering me, let someone else know what I had just said. It was hilarious the way she’d try to control her laughter. Interestingly, she never told me anything else just to kill my curiosity. She’d rather say, “You’re a kid. When you grow up, you’ll know why.”

And I’d just add that to the list of things I was supposed to know automatically once I grow up. My next unanswered question in childhood was about sanitary napkins. As soon as the TV commercial would start, I’d demand everyone in the room to tell me what exactly it was. I had to wait all the way to my teen age to figure out why lady in the commercial was jumping around and throwing blue ink on what i thought were diapers.

I think my aaji along with others cared for my innocence, knowing well that that’s exactly the beauty of childhood years. I’m glad they did.

Recently, I went to meet my aging aaji. She has not been keeping well. She is bedridden and can barely stand on her own. It hurts to know that I would never see her cooking sabudana khichdi in the kitchen again like old times. I doubt she has accepted that though. I think she still thinks that she can do that one day.

When I sat next to her, she started asking me about what’s happening in my life. I told her everything was good, and asked her how she was doing.

“This lady is waiting for her daughter-in-law to cook some jalebis.”

“Who lady?” I was confused.

“This one. The one in green saari.” She pointed a finger at the television screen playing some series that she was so fond of.

She then went on to narrate the entire story plot that she remembered rather well.

In my mind, I thanked the makers of the series for keeping my aaji busy and entertained during her illness.
Thankfully, they make content for everyone. Funny how I had never thought this way before.

While I was lost in my thoughts with my eyes staring at the TV set, she told me to stay alert.

“What for?” I asked her with amusement.

“See, now a butterfly will come. It only listens to the little girl. This girl…Her name is Nanda. Keep watching…,” she spoke without moving her eyes off the screen.

I looked at her and the TV in turns with a smile on my face.

She was right. In the TV series, the girl whose name was Nanda then called the butterfly and an animated butterfly fluttered its wings only to come and land right on Nanda’s shoulder.

“How do they do that no?” Aaji asked with her eyebrows raised and the chin resting on the palm of her hand.

I had not seen her that curious for a long time.

Of course, I could see and knew that it was simply a computer-generated image of a butterfly. But I wasn’t sure if I wanted to give that as an explanation to her.

“How they must be guiding the butterfly to fly when they want and to sit on her shoulder like that no?Aaji smiled with joy as she asked me that. Her eyes were still glued onto the television set.

“You will know how. Once you watch the entire series, I think you will come to know,” I looked at her and grinned.

Interstellar

IMG_20180726_235914

Let’s pick a black hole to plunge into,
Let’s tumble down into the black velvet sky.
Let’s spin around the planets as tiny specks,
Until we transcend the dimensions of space and time.
Inject sunsets into my arm,
Let me feel your rush.
Let me love you violently in the privacy of my heart.
Your rib cage holds an ocean,
It’s the night we drain this sea
And plant flowers on its floor.
I think you’ve become a planet yourself,
Which is why I keep orbiting you like a dead satellite.
Turn the stars back on,
Let the moonlight slice the years gone by.
A taste of the universe sits on your tongue,
Show me how many galaxies you hold in your mouth.
Pour me a thunderstorm or two on the rocks,
Let us riot against the time.
Let’s tumble down, down, and down into the black velvet sky.
It’s the night we become one with the cosmic sublime.

A ghost

456814_10150937408818624_1343781768_o

You tell me you don’t miss home anymore

You stare at the faceless portraits of people you come across

You wait until midnight to listen to your favourite song

In the new city that sucked you in

Just a month before

 

You tell me it’s hard for a ghost

To be dissolved in such a crowd

You tell me you can’t as much work on new art

You stare at rusty drafts that hoped to breathe life

Just a year back

 

You tell me you take the longer route back home

You chew on daydreams more than before

You stumble upon a broken tree and

The old abandoned houses try to pull you in

You wander the city like a ghost from another time

 

You tell me you don’t miss home anymore

As I get ready looking right at you

You mimic me until I smile

Then you draw a half smile in reply

I leave for the new office in the brand new town

You stay back on the other side of the glass