Friday, 30 April 2010

Don't believe everything you've heard

Sometimes I feel like I've, in some misguided attempt at chivalry (a signature of mine), taken on everybody else' share of pessimism. I mean I think I'm being realistic, but placed against vox populi, my opinion's always the one closest to the floor.

You'd think I'd gone through some deep psychological trauma that had caused me to be diffident, wet blanketish, cynical, annoyingly even and whatever other euphemism people use when they're much too cultured to use that word that rhymes with 'runt'. And I can only hope that that is true.

Maybe some day, that epiphany will come. Maybe it will be on one of my travels. We'll be in the airport terminal awaiting the exact same flight, this serene-looking older gentleman and I. Suddenly he'll notice the spot on my chin, grow visibly pale and say, ''re not Wanda are you?" And I'll be all "Ew, no." And he'll go, "You didn't by any chance used to sing O-bla-di O-bla-da at every single school talent competition till you were asked to stop...?" And I'll turn horrified and twitchy, my pupils would dilate and I'll say "Hey! You're just trying to freak me out. There's no way anyone could know that." And he'll sink into the vinyl and clutch his head in despair saying "Wanda, I'm so sorry, I'm so so sorry." And I'll shrug and say, "Well it's not your fault, I really should have had a wider musical repertoire..." And he'll stare at me, thrown by just how much I've repressed and say slowly, all ominous-like, "I'm... Dilawar." I'll turn to him slowly, tears springing to my eyes and say, "Oh my god, that must be tough." And he'll start to get agitated and say, "No! You stupid girl, it's me Dilawar. I was your backstage hand?" And I'll start to guffaw because my mind is a bit of a toilet and only stop when I realise how silent Dila...the man...has gone. He'll look at me meaningfully and I'll say 'No, no, no." and he'll says "Yes," and I'll say, "so then two bad things happened to me that dreadful night?" And he'll nod ashamed, but say quickly, "I had nothing to do with the O-bla-da O-bla-di bit, I only diddled you. The rest was your doing." And I'll sit down weakly. "So.. my affinity for double entendres? M-my...wariness of boys... my unexplained nightmares about a certain Molly and Desmond Jones were all...?" "Yes," he'll nod morosely. "What about my alarmingly low levels of faith in humanity?" I'll say. "No," he'll shake his head, slightly indignant. "That's definitely just co-incidence." "Oh," I'll say. "Well this was totally unnecessary then, wasn't it?" "Yes," he'll says. "Yes I suppose it was."


I'm just used to calling things as I see them. Haven't you ever been to a party that everyone else thought was 'INSANE!!!' and you thought was only okay? What about the first time you had sex? Was it everything Joanna Trollope said it would be? No, stop lying, it wasn't. And Tina Fey. I was in danger of riding the general orgasm over her when a friend stopped me in the nick of time. She isn't all that. In fact she's not very funny at all. And that's what life can be sometimes - it isn't all it's cranked up to be. You're not all you cranked yourself up to be either. Hey, I thought I'd be a 'loyer' or a 'none' and all I ended up being is a 'no one'. Life isn't all rainbows and Follow Fridays. It's disappointments and split-ends and boys liking you pending what you weigh and the few people you care about thinking you're disgusting.

Like my favourite fictional cynic says "Think white and get real."

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Death Wish

I bathed with spiders
under mournful elms
And pebbles questioned
the balls of my feet
The air singed,
rain drops dripped reproachfully
My own breath felt like cacophony
My body, an excess
Sometimes I wonder
what the last silence will sound like.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

I'd felt we could be something.

Yes I liked your slanted features and you, my nose ring. But our bodies were ancillary, a nice side effect, a welcome addition, nothing more. The first time I saw you, I felt my stomach flip, your force field blazed and inside it and close to you was the only place I knew I should be. Common sense slid off me and cynicism understood what it was up against and dried itself up quickly.

Every syllable that dropped from your lips collected in a pool in my mind, not one anecdote lost, not one pause forgotten. I kept my gaze trained away because I don't know what falling in love is supposed to look like and I embarrass easily. Still there was a taut sense between us that physical touch would only dilute. The jokes got you at exactly the same time they got me, the other faces at the table blurred and the alcohol had only half to do with the night's intoxication.

Usually I have my game face on but I couldn't muster it this time. Because if ever there was someone who had to be shown what lay beneath, it had to be you. I'm not excessively clever, never read the classics and am not even alluringly damaged. I'm quiet not because I'm intense, I just don't know what to say. Truly, I have never had a sense of occasion and supposed-tos have been my particular failing.

And even while I'm trying to show you all of this, I know I'm being that guy who's telling a joke his audience has heard before and they're humouring him anyway. Because you do right? You know me already and I don't know how that could be. Scares me to the bone, too much time I have spent staring from safe distances and your nearness is closing up my windpipe and if I don't get out, I'll choke.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Wriggle free.

The world we're living in, by now we should've been gloriously scaling the acme of individual courage.

Think about it. We have next to no socio-cultural restraints left to speak of, just about anything goes. We've got all sorts of technology doing our work for us, whittling down our actual physical effort to a series of finger clicks. In fact we're a generation whose biggest legacy will be its ability for The Grey Area - we've rallied against stereotypes, sometimes even when we weren't sure why - don't laugh at a sensitive, philosophical biker dude; that lady is just attached to her flannel shirts and billowing leg hair, it says nothing about her sexuality.

And only recently it has dawned on me what our other big legacy is going to be - pussyfooting. Excuse my Truck Driver.

We're going to go down in history for our sheer wealth of cowardice. For our talent for talking endlessly in circles without ever concluding with or even intending a solution. For being victims of our personal histories and for recognising that and continuing to stay that way. We've learned to say everything it takes to say nothing at all. But most importantly for turning the Appropriate Thing To Do into Whatever's Easiest.

Don't get me wrong. I will never trade the loosed leash I have today with what my mother had at 25. I love that my dark jeans can qualify as formals and sex before marriage no longer occupies a top place in Fallen Woman 101. But the things that require heart, you know? That require a strong stomach? They're gone. Buried under layers of diplomacy, suffocating self-consciousness and a misplaced sense of modernity.

Invisible mode on Gchat, silent mode on your mobile phone and accumulating lightweight, feel-good, micro relationships on Twitter are all the totems of our generation. "All touch-me-nots" says my mother, blunt, brave lady that she is and always has been.

But I don't want to end this as a rant. I want to make a choice, I want to take a decision. Any decision. I want to start saying what I really think. I want to start telling strangers they helped me without worrying that it comes off as needy. I want to tell a man I love that I'm going to be there forever without worrying that I'm overstating. I want to tell a joke and then be okay when noone gets the punchline. I want to stop scaring myself every day.

To that end I will start with one truth. Here goes. I have been meaning to write a book for four years now but have still not managed it. I have written untruthful samples that were bad. And truthful samples that were worse. And I still don't even have an outline yet. The real reason is that I am terrified that it will bomb catastrophically and that I will never recover from my own awfulness. So instead I sit and rib on Chetan Bhagat. But as of this moment, I want it to stop being my concern. I feel I have done my part and issued the world a sufficient warning. I am now free to start writing My Great Big Failure Of A Novel with reasonable abandon.

There, all better. Now you tell me something. I am a stranger and I'm asking you to tell me something. I realise you might think I'm due my stay at the funny farm, but I'm asking anyway.