Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Mary and the smell of love


Years ago Mary had made me watch Perfume- The Story of a Murderer, of course it was something we were doing back then, movies and only movies, minds that were still so young, almost a tabula rasa, we couldn't help but appreciate the beauty of that cinema. Mary was like that, obsessed with smells, her anglo name never made me look at her in an exotic way but she was different. She could smell more than normal people. I remember how she called herself a bitch, for that specific 'skill-set' of smells, and to her I smelled good. It was the best compliment I received in my adolescent life. 


I don't remember why we fell apart as the years rolled down, I had a little crush on her, but she was always interested in the big boys; may be it was me who decided to keep a distance, but I don't recall at all how we moved apart and I was a bit stupefied when she called me up a few months ago and asked me to help her to study maps and make a sense out of them. Its always awkward when you get a call from someone you had loved a little when you were young, and it's somewhat bittersweet remembering that she remembers the things you were good at. 

I made her download google maps and asked her to fidget a little. I almost get offended when people don't embrace such beautiful technologies our time has to offer. When she told me that she was trying to write a paper on World War II and it was very important for her to understand the lands and the maps, I decided to be more helpful. 


A few meetings later we were again comfortable with each other, at least she was, I felt awkward because she had become prettier from what I remembered of her; we mostly talked about the old days, the smell of seasons and armpits, how the fish markets smelled more chemical now, how her capacity to smell has subdued with the years among other things, her solo Ladakh trip, how she intends to write a book full of beautiful anecdotes on smell and only smell- her own smell dictionary in the lines of Baudelaire; I was a little curious if this dream girl was seeing someone - she hardly puts anything up on facebook and you never ask such a question like that- age has taught you alright, but the years have also taught you not to prevaricate and be smart, listen to what she is saying, I could hear telling myself. And I listened to her alright, she hardly bored me. Days passed quickly and soon we were meeting or talking over the internet most days. I was always looking to impress her, trying my best not to be a show-off at the same time. I was really glad she wasn't much active on Facebook, then she would see all my shit- that so called awesome life we all intend to put up in the world of illusions, that place where everyone is so happy that they all end up being miserable. 


Amidst one of our online map browsing rendezvous she asked me, about my opinion on "how the allied front should advance to Germany through Belgium"- what could she write on this thought, she had some ideas which she told me but she said she didn't like them, and when I heard her ideas I told her I agree with her- but here I was trying to impress her, and here was my chance; this was a serious question, and the imagining of alternate history let alone military strategy was never my forte. The 'Third Reich' is a game that I had only tried to play in a Roberto Bolano novel.  

"Get to work stupid boy."

A few hours later, I came up with an idea, which was neither very scientific nor well researched- what good writing demands is often a wacky sort of a wit, my professor used to say, but I suspected he was talking about copywriting; but nevertheless it could be something Mary could work on, and if it involves smells she might just like it and use it to her advantage. 

"From Calamine to Cologne - An alternate history of smells during the allied invasion". 

You see the Belgian town of Kelmis (La Calamine) is about a hundred kilometre away from the German town of Cologne, two cities with two distinct histories of things that smell, the soldiers wouldn't miss it even amidst all the gunpowder and ash; there could be a little magic too and Mary would write all about the smells- if there was no war there, Mary could bring it through her writing, but the war was everywhere - it was a World War. It was in Calamine, it was in Cologne. 

She did like it, she replied "wow" and as of now I kind of had to settle for being her co-author instead of her lover. Art demands a lot of sacrifices.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

voice of reason and a holy book

if my voice were a voice of
reason I would have never
let you go, I would
have reasoned you to
stay for another couple of
years -

if my voice were a voice of
reason, you would suffer twice
over, because who would say
no to reason- ‘we were never
lovers’;  only lovers would say
no to reason
, and we were
never lovers.

if my voice weren’t clogged
with yesterday’s cough I would
have spoken up when you
walked out with my favorite suitcase
packed with god knows what- and
a decade of memory making will
halt just in time,” that suitcase
has been to places”
, I would say,
take good care

If my voice were a voice of reason,
would you have fallen for me, like
you did, years ago- as the front benches
bothered you, and you had to move back 
a couple of rows? Isn’t that how you found
me, a boy with no voice, breezing through
a philosophy lecture- unnerved by the
attention of a pretty girl.

and if I tell you now, my voice were a voice
of reason till I met you
, would you
believe me; or even if you did, won’t
you be upset thinking just for a while
that may be we were lovers-
 and reason always eluded us. 

As I rode past the murky waters

As I rode past the murky
waters of the old Bagjola canal, I saw
a thousand and one men busy with 
their daily chores- oblivious of my 
decade and a half old rusty bicycle; 
I had  repaired it a month or so ago, 
rebranded it, so that I could
cycle all the way to my swimming
pool, and if I begin to explain why
a cycle is my easiest commute now, 
you may begin to wonder if I am
speaking of the same city where
you and I both live, but you see 
there are so many little cities within
our own city that we would never see,
little neighbourhoods so, different from
one-another, little and big names, with
its own esoteric history and politics, that it 
will certainly boggle our mind,
and these days, if I may disclose that
I follow Google Maps religiously, coupled 
with my own anthropometric sense of 
where I am, each and every moment; I always see
a map with the North upwards, like it's 
supposed to be done, and I am wary
of what one JNU professor tried to warn
us regarding political Maps and their
nationalistic symbolisms, but I am so far from
New Delhi and the surrounding jingoisms and 
it's thesis and counter thesis, I am so far
away from all these noises that will eventually
control my life that I sometimes feel sad and 
refuse to stand to the national anthem when no
ones watching, but I  am hoping you will keep 
that a secret,  and since I have digressed from whatever
I wanted to tell you without further ado, I must
get back onto that topic of where I live, and where
I live is one of the densest places in Planet Earth,
you know, the densest in the already dense 
Gangetic Delta, and I wanted to write this on one
sad day, 'people people everywhere, not anyone to love'
and in this part of Calcutta,  there are two canals 
 that flows parallel and they all go and 
join another canal, and this one 
I know flows by where you live -
(since I am good with Maps and all)
so I was thinking of making a boat so that 
I could just sail to you, and you must think I was 
kidding when I told you that I cycle 
almost eight kilometres everyday because 
it seems the best option, but I was being honest, 
 I wouldn't make that boat though till I am the Mayor 
of Calcutta, the waters you know they need a lot of  
cleaning, and I know you wouldn't mind me visiting 
you in the far South in a boat, jokes apart, you would 
prefer the Taxi, or the bus; about cycling 
I must add that there are no short motor-able roads 
from my place to the place where I go for a swim, 
the canals act as barriers and protects the 
rich neighbourhood on the other side from the crass
-cacophony of subaltern narratives; tough words
I know, but that's why I take the cycle, its easy
carrying it over the footbridges that connects ( and saves time), 
 the daily labourers, some small tea-shop owners, fish wallah,
 balti wallah, dil wallah and a list of  other working class men, 
keeps me for company and often guides me through 
the empty boulevards and blocks, and sometimes a kid or two 
would want to race with me and I would 
pretend to be Lance Armstrong-and as night falls 
and these people who work  here leave, and everything 
becomes quiet again, the old residents 
often feel a oeuvre of melancholy,
and let their phones and computers 
call up their sons and daughters abroad,
who would be busy in their American lives, 
suffering the same loneliness that their parents
suffer back home, and if you ever come around here
I won't take you to a coffee shop or the next
best mall in the city, I will just make you walk
miles and show you the roads where I grew
up, the roads where I used to walk my dog
once upon a time, miles and miles of roads,
that I have walked with old loves not lovers,
the roads of my old neighbourhood, still
so deserted, still so empty, as if all the 
walking couldn't cure them of their loneliness, 
and I will take you to that other canal that
 may lead you  back to your home- and if 
you wish, we could dream of a boat the
one I will built someday and we could 
laugh over it, but darling wear good shoes
because this one here will make 
you walk - a mile or two.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Early Years

We have been there, you know,
hanging with the right folks
in the right time-
but youth is just youth, and
time is just time.
Nothing wrong in there,
nothing right.
Invisible cities conquered
by invincible monsters, we were
curious -who were the Hitties?
How many days are there in the
Rumi Calendar, can we travel -time someday,
I want to see the Berlin wall fall.
Where was your parents home in
Bangladesh, who were the best among
the barbarians;
can we start a revolution?
You always had so many questions,
always the right ones, where was I
last night, you never asked;
" In the library", I wanted to say.
Life is just life, and time is just time,
it shall pass with or
without us

Relax it's just a poem

Once upon a time I knew a poet , who
knew many other poets, and there were many poets,
and then there was this poet, who was the wife
of another big poet, and she woke up one fine morning,
and and looked up in the sky and wrote,
"beautiful mornings were made for beautiful people, not for me."
She turned over and kept on sleeping, letting the morning pass, and as the ugliness of the day settled around her ,
she woke up to find her husband , the big poet , writing, she wanted to see what he was writing,
but there was an obvious chance that peeping at the now private, to be public words
can harm their marital peace, so she left him alone with his words,
like she had trained herself and turned over and slept again;
Goodbye, the big poet wrote.
"I am leaving and not coming back."
He wrote on and on,
explaining in subtle metaphors ,
why he must go, why some birds can't fly, why there were no monsoon rains in his hometown,
why he could never love his mother, and any other woman for that matter, but he must go, that he is leaving ,
and if you are still wondering that he left her, relax, it was just a Poem.

That Ship has Sailed

On the fourth floor of
my new apartment building, lives an
old woman and her daughter.
Sometimes, when I am awake late 
at night , I hear them talk, or rather yell-
domestic disturbances- the easy choice,
the hard choice.
People fight, and people still live- with
one another, because the way out is often
way too lonely, but when we are young
there are always ships that sail away and
we are surrounded by beautiful people,
who interest our brains; as much as our bodies,
and when we are out in another place, far from
the ones we left we feel a tinge of sadness,
sometimes, just sometimes --
Sometimes we leave, and sometimes we don't,
but as far as metaphors go,
the story of life is somewhere richocheting
between the arrivals and the departures.
She once told me that transit lounges
were infact one of the Trinity of her favorite
"saddest places" and I never asked the other two,
and now, I can never know.
She is gone, "that ship
has sailed."

River poetry

I must speak of this pretty village,
On the meander of a great river;
every year the levee broke,
And the flood came, 
Washing away some,
And yet, making the land richer/fertile-
The memory of the flood
Was so ancient and sacred in the heart
Of the villagers that none
Complained, and it was the way
of life in that village-
The coming and going of the
flood,
(some were rumored to worship it's fury)
and I have known wise
men and women , who in their solitude
have compared, their lovers to this flood,
which made me wonder-
If some loves were different than
other loves, "of course they are",
she said,
"but I don't want such a
Love."