She bent over the table holding the cue stick in her right hand, balancing it over the little hump formed by her gloved left fingers. She closed her left eye, eyeing the cue ball lining up with the blue striped one and the corner pocket. Satisfied with the collinearity of the stick, cue, ball and pocket, she thrust the stick to play a neat stroke. The cue hit the blue which rolled to near the pocket, swerved around, hit the rail and returned. She looked up with a gingerly smile and quipped, “Damn!”. I loved this girl! Not as in, ‘loved’ loved. As in, admired loved. She had quick wits, a sharp tongue and an uncanny originality that never seemed to grow old. Also, she had terrific long legs!

I twirled my stick in the chalk and moved to the other end of the table. I was deciding between the orange solid, near the pocket but away from the cue, and the brown solid which was near the latter and away from former. She walked around to near to consider my quandary. “How do you feel about incest?” she queried. May the dear reader not blink at the abruptness of this primer. We often used to come up with ‘surprising’ conversation starters. The usual is for the mediocre. It’s more interesting to speak about the unconventional, the tabooed and the disconcerting! I always considered these strolls out one’s comfort zone into weird terrains great fun. And she was good game, not to mention often the lead.

pool1“As long as they don’t make kids, am cool. Kids if they happen in consanguinity as with incest show birth abnormalities.” My opinion was build on the medical consequence of such acts. A comparable scenario from plant reproduction has a more concrete label for the phenomenon I described, inbreeding depression. The depression is not psychological, as in sad-depressed. It is a genetic decrease in vitality and survivability. Something I came across in my reading. I decided to hit the brown solid, the one closer to the cue. I would have greater control on the stroke. I positioned myself for the shot while she thought for a moment and replied, “Ok, biology apart. How do you feel about it? Isn’t it weird. Sex between brothers and sisters?! I sure am uncool with it.” I held my breath and took the stroke. The cue hit the brown, which rolled slow and stead to the pocket, and came to a halt a whisker from the pocket. I let out a ‘sigh!’.

I took a step back from the table and looked at her. She had a gorgeous face with black eyes and natural brows. She had her hair pulled back. I particularly liked her nose. It just had the perfect proportions with a straight septum, the lower end making an angle of one-twenty degrees, and the nasal-alas forming flat slants sharply merging laterally. And the tip, that dear tip of her pretty nose was rounded forming an ellipse with its major axis lined with the long of the septum. If I were da Vinci, I would paint her nose on Mona Lisa. I got a grip and said, “Well, ‘weird’ is a concept I don’t subscribe to. It’s scientifically untenable. Attraction to a person is inexplicable. You just like a person, like that. One can consciously try to reason it, but then, what are the chances that your stated reason is ‘the reason’ indeed?! Now given that premise, I don’t see why if two people, related if be may, if attracted need hold back. Only don’t make kids. If you want them indeed, well just adopt. One more kid from orphanage would be happy to have a real family.”

It was her turn to take the stroke. But she turned as toward enquiringly. “Take the stripped yellow the far end. Though take care to avoid the 3.” She nodded and moved around while responding to my earlier comment, “Your position is too utopian and divorced of emotion.” I cut her in, “Divorced of emotion, oh come on! I am choosing for respecting the emotions of the involved parties. Who’s else if-is of relevance. Of the by-standing society. Well, they sure need get busy minding their own business”. I noticed her gauging the distances and angles. She presented a sight of intense focus. A swift strike, and the sound of the clash of balls was closely followed by the hollow tumbling bass of the striped yellow going down the pocket. She let out a gleeful chuckle. Her eyes sparkled! I do very much love this pretty girl, all beauty and substantial brains. Her next stroke though was a hopeless fumble. Yet the thrill of the previous pocket had her upbeat. But by now I was tired. We had been on with the last five balls for the last quarter hour. Though only three more remained, I was more willing to shoot myself in the head rather than slumber a moment more over the table.

As if reading my mind she ventured, “Shall we call it quits. It sucks!”. I was glad. Well, more than glad. She had just saved me from my bullet. I happily acquiesced. I replaced the sticks at the stand while she took upon herself to get the balls out and arrange them in the rack into a neat triangle. We turned from that green boring torturous table, it still beats me why we often come to it, and walked away, together. I wanted to hold her hand while we walked. But then, it seemed inappropriate. As about our little conversation about the appropriateness of incestuous flings, well, it faded with table now in background.

Before anyone gets bright ideas, we aren’t related. As in we both do belong to the same species, the Homo sapiens, but don’t share any near ancestor we know of. Only the hypothetical ape-woman Lucy. And walking on along, we soon found ourselves another queer crazy primer to talk over. A curious thought occurred to me. “We talk about things to learn more as about, or so because we just liked something to talk to the other, an act that had us both together in it. A togetherness we had come to appreciate, admire and may-probably looked forward to.”pool2


Free Prose

It’s winter. More precisely, it is that annual quartet when the temperature dips, fog and dew sets in, sunlight becomes sparse, and people seem beefed up with their many layers of woolen upon. Now you might roll your eyes at the redundant verbalization of universal truths. ‘Dude, we all know that’s how winter is!’. But then there are caveats to that exasperated declaration. Winter’s not the same all around. For instance, in south of India, close to coast, winter is non-existent. In Chennai, a city I went for college, people don’t own sweaters or blankets, and are completely oblivious to the blowing of warm breath aka mock-smoke as the cheery young do elsewhere. And quite queerly, they get their rain while its winter elsewhere as due to the retreat of North-western monsoon.

Now this is not to be a prose with a hint of poetic serenade on the beauty and chill of wintery mornings. Nor is it a class in geography and seasonality of weather patterns. It is about a walk. No, not ‘The walk’ of Joseph Gordon Levitt, or it’s real live version Philippe Petit. It’s more de-glam and sober. It’s just me walking from a shopping complex back to my lab while munching on a bar of dark chocolate with quiet, dark and chill upon and around. If you are looking for thrills, well there are no zombies en route. Like I quipped before, it’s a sober account of an inconsequential banality.

winter 1My lower back ached. As while I took steps, keeping sure to keep the strides small and a slow cadence, a dull throbbing pain shot up in my left flank and seemed to radiate towards the lower spine. It was the squash the morning. The game had been a little more intense than usual. And the freeze of winter had slowed the joints. Thus the extra effort to move about on the court had put some strain on a bunch of muscles about the axial skeleton. And with each throb of pain came the very real sensation of the tangible presence of a flank, and a back, and a spine. Am no nihilist. But the human body, my mortal coil, taken for granted as my own, often seems like a silent shadow. Ever present, but one does not really feel as its presence. But this pain seemed to remind me every moment that ‘I have a back!’.

The road was quiet. Lit with occasional lamps. And the yellow smear of light in its near vicinity had a poetic charm. It is incredible how certain things are beautiful. How they capture your attention and seem to leave a gleam of heartening emotion that makes the moment seem significant, life worthwhile and existence non-trivial. ‘What a farce!’. Now that was an exclamation that escaped me without my conscious volition. A reflection of my deep seated beliefs I suppose. Beliefs based more on an understanding of life, a version I have come to conceive. It is queer how the same sight has varied mutually incompatible relevance while viewed from the eyes of different people. Occasionally, even by the same person at different time-points, in changed moods, with the ever accumulating baggage of experience added upon.

I crossed the western labs, the library plot, the coffee place and the gardens to come near the building that houses my lab. Inside, I run experiments. Experiments in biology. Trying to figure life. How it develops and functions. The lab’s lonely. But then a lonely space is where, in the quiet, one’s thoughts soar in the abstract and the intangible. Though I miss those days when I sat in my balcony, back home with coffee in hand and a book on my lap, gazing upon my pretty friend, her sweet face bent over her medical text, nibbling a pen, and trying to figure how to diagnose lupus. Life moves on. And memories remain. But what are memories but an imprint of past occurrences. Why do they carry such emotional pathos in addition to the details of the event. Or is it that the reason for the imprinting of the event was as due to its emotional relevance? If it is this latter, then how successful am I going to be to make an existence divorced of emotions, a concept I see as trivial, innate and unoriginal. Such pain it is to go against what you are, yet feel compelled to, because that is what you want of you. Such pain it is, indeed.