All she did was Twirl!

3a86abf49e8e7638c5ea2559fd47cbcf_tutu-clip-art-twirl-kids-twirling-clipart_798-1023Remember the moment in movies when the girl and the guy look into each other’s eyes and the world slows around. It’s when they realize they love the other. While filmy, it got an element of realism in it for I too had one such moment. We were over the water-tank on her terrace and she twirled around for some reason. Am sitting here looking at the city-lights, and she stands up and makes a 360 degree twirl- an innocuous innocent though immensely feminine gesture. Now I haven’t seen a guy do the twirl, less still admire it on the brawnier sex. But as when she did as then, for some inexplicable reason that I just couldn’t fathom, she became an alluring goddess inside my head.

No, it is not love at first-sight. I knew her for over a year then. Also it wasn’t a case wherein the silly cupid does his thing insidiously for one to not notice it as when his arrow slowly pierces your warm beating heart. It was this single precise moment in time, the twirl, and I was smitten.

Now some may consider this a tad shallow of me. If I had fallen for her for something more vague and ill-defined like because she is good-natured, or warm and caring, everything would have been fine. Better still would have been if it was for something like intelligence, sense of humor, or world-wise; as if these are measurable traits that could be quantified and plotted on a graph to figure the percentile standing to any reasonable extent of precision. But no, it was just one single feminine awe-inspiring twirl.

Now social derision as because of the physicality of the attribute that seemed the deciding vote here rather than an intellectual one doesn’t override the fact which remains- I fell for her. But who is to say moving over two dozen muscles in a set pattern that given the sheer enormity of the number of variables involved in the execution of task, is not to accord a personalized version of itself to the person executing it. That her twirl spoke more about her than could any of the decision-making in charged pressing moments would have. I am not trying to de-signify the latter, but what is to say the former is completely without taste or basis. Who is to say, the twirl doesn’t say as much about her, as would her bearing in social situations that requires her to exercise her higher cognitive capabilities.

Be it what it may, I was smitten, she was standing tall, having successfully finished with the flawless execution of that jaw-dropping twirl, and I shifted my gaze from her toward my girlfriend at  my left. I sighed for I knew how it was going to pan out. The girlfriend became an ex, and the twirling beauty the next, and never did the two ever exchange a word again, curiously enough.


Tempered Steel

The glass was transparent, filled three-fourths with water. The subtle curve of the meniscus caught light from above and glimmered. With my chin resting on the table, I observed her animated face magnified through the liquid. She sat across, wearing blue, with her jet-black locks breaking into waves, one layered over another brushing on her shoulders. She blinked those big scary eyes and moved her head from side-to-side. She was trying to make a point I suppose. Every once-in-a-while, her hands would shoot up, forming words in the air. Yes, she sure was saying something. But blame her peculiar nose, a tad-bit voluminous, and that curious stretch of lips; I felt all my attention being pulled as toward, making it difficult to spare any for the words those moving lips formed.

With time the skin over my chin started to feel numb under the weight of my head and started to sting. I sat upright and leaned on the back-rest. She smiled as if to acknowledge my change in posture while yet continuing with the monolog. I wondered how one smiles while talking. Aren’t the lips already busy in sounding the consonants, particularly the labials – ‘m’, ‘p’ and ‘b’. Possibly one times the smile to that portion of the speech when words do not include these. I felt amazed at how talented their brains need to, to be able to predict beforehand which part of their sentence is devoid of words containing those alphabets so that they may smile at that exact moment. Such an arduous strain on brains micro-circuitry. I blinked in awe of her this gift and tried to smile.

Tried to, but couldn’t. This is not the day I smile. It’s a sad sorry day. I broke my coffee mug. Despite the charming presence of her, in near proximity, the ache of the misfortune was too searing to wane. She had given me it. While some might argue the very same ‘she’ is sitting right across the table that seemed to hold a glass of water, two plates, two pairs of spoon, fork and knives, a box of tissues, and a promise of food that was yet to come. Now the latter half of the previous statement in this recital is beside the point, yes, you figured it right. I guess I put it there to shift attention from the unease the former half of the statement had caused within. Yes, the coffee-mug was given by her, but she was that ‘her’ no more. Time leaves indelible insignia of its passage, doesn’t it? Some desirable, while some not. Some tolerable, some not.


Just then, there was a sudden moment of profound quiet. I saw that there were no more ripples in the water in the glass. Her lips had stopped to move as well. I said, ‘yes, I agree’. And she smiled.

Contrary to what you might think, no, this isn’t a failed marriage wherein we just indifferently tolerate the other. In fact, we are not even a couple. It is just that I have something going on. Something that is being a bother. And I can’t tell her that. As to why I can’t tell her, well, I don’t know. Though now I can think and try to come up with reasons in retrospect as to why I can’t tell her; but beforehand I don’t know what made me want to not say and keep it to self. Maybe it just didn’t occur to me to tell her about it. But then isn’t it how we are at times. Inexplicable to self. Not that that mystery can’t be unwoven. It’s just that it would rather be quite a burdensome bother to undertake. And it’s easier side-stepped.

While these philosophical counterpoints subsided inside my head, I noticed that her eyes were downcast and the smile that she had beamed before had turned smug, then sore, and finally sad. It’s incredible how the same stretch of lips could be made to portray such myriad different emotions. A mathematical impossibility if one may. But then, she did, and thus it isn’t an impossibility anymore, is it? So this is that point in the narrative wherein it becomes clear that I have been outstripped in my endeavor to outsmart her. Poor me. Well I don’t actually mean ‘poor me’, but inside my head, I could hear her quip ‘don’t wallow in your own self-pity’ at my that phrase; a nasty retort we had together once discovered in a comic strip. The distraction aside, I felt my heart miss a beat.

Funny that it begins with a series of missed beats, strained breaths and roiled emotions. And this same bunch recurs when you see your better half down and under. ‘better half’ having been used in a literal sense with not too much emphasis on the ‘your’ pronoun that did precede it. Though on a second take, much emphasis has indeed been put on the absence of emphasis on that possessive pronoun. Such a recursive turmoil language adds to the act of living. For what is unsaid is also as affecting as what is said.

I came clean and said, “I dropped that coffee mug you gave on that friendship day”. “The yellow one? The one with a black lid and café coffee day written as upon ?”. “Yes, the same. It fell and broke into a thousand shards of splintered ceramic.” “I knew I should have given you one made of tempered steel!”, and with that, she broke out into her characteristic peal of laughter. I again caught myself gazing at her peculiar nose, admiring, smiling, chuckling as it twitched as she paused for breath between laughs.

Yes, it’s inexplicable; this human contract with its inherent asymmetry of emotional exchange.  In part because we are humans, fallible, with a lifetime spent in cultivating behaviors that are a far cry from ideal. And in part because this portrayal is a consequence of the wistful imagination of a soul reflecting in solitude. Either way, how much harm can come by wishing ‘happy friendship day’, even if the only real aspect of that proposition is ‘day’. Someone said life is a comedy, written by a writer with a tendency to overindulge in the tragic. And given the superlative intellect (quirky smarts, handsomeness, and knightly chivalry) of this ‘someone’, we are bound to concede to his point. As to why his, and not her? Well, it’s apparent I am a guy ain’t it.


Life is intricate, and the life of each one is unique. This life involving person and people around is a wonderful wonderment to behold. I often puzzle self that in spite of the huge multitude of words that constitute the vocabulary of various languages, despite the many dramatic gestures that we can depict and in stark disproportion to the quantity of time, it’s but little moments of few simplistic words stated with the faintest streaks of emotion, the subtleties in our life, that gleam aglow at the end of the day, and possibly, even at the fag end of our lives’.

It was that quiet time of the day when afternoon makes way for the evening. The college canteen, one of the most eventful and also heartful retreats for a student was feebly populated. Seated on a table, alone was she. That fair, gracious, resplendent lady, in a splendid unicolor attire, staring blankly into an empty cup of coffee. And she wasn’t aware of the footsteps that grew louder as they paced nearer.

angry_couple_at_table-2.s300x300The human gait speaks a million if you notice. We are almost never conscious of our gait, and thus we never condition it, i.e. fake it discordant with our inner self. And from the guys gait, or was he a gentleman(!!), anyway, the hesitancy of his steps meant that he was expecting something not very pleasant, while the firmness of the tap indicated that he needed to behold whatever was to befall.

He comes down to the immediate vicinity of our lady and endeavours in a friendly voice, with a mocking dash of honour, “Do you mind if I share your company?” The lady’s lips quivered. Her eyes had an expression of disdain as she spits in an impersonal tone, “As if you will walk away if I say a ‘yes’…”. The guy did not flinch. May be he had this anticipated. He let a long uneasy second tick and then replied, “Then I shall take that for a ‘no’… ” and sits beside.

He places his bag down and sets his hand on the table. He then calls out the waiter. All this while taking care not to meet the lady’s contemptuous gaze. He then looks into those angry blaming, but heavenly white lovely eyes and asks, “Shall I order you a coffee …”, but even before he could complete she spits, “I don’t like coffee.” The guy gives a stupefied look. He has known her for sometime and coffee was one of the two things that occupied the top slot in her ‘like’s’… his mind blinked the thought of the other thing … but he did not allow self complete that thought and asked, “Since when?”. She spat, “Since now. Get me tea.”

Our guy knows more than well not to kindle a lady red with anger and annoyance. He just makes the order to the timid waiter, pity in India we don’t have many waitresses…, anyway, the beautiful company, haan, and then turns to her. Neither speak nothing. Fearing that if the silence is to be broken by her she would drag the conversation to anywhere, though he very well knew where that anywhere was to be, thus gulps his pride and himself endeavours, “Did today’s class on Anaesthetics make sense to you. I felt it to be sort of fragmentary and the amount of details overwhelming.” As he finished, he sort of feels scared.

For the lady who had been just grim and stingy with anger till now went red, she flared and had it not been for the waiter who returned with the coffee and tea, he was sure she would have hit him hard! But then, as if going off his mind, he asks the waiter to drop an extra cube of sugar into madam’s tea. She says ‘No’. The guy just takes his time to be bad, granted, and awaits as she replies, well again spits actually, “I stopped having extra sugar since yesterday afternoon.”

Now our guy is aghast. Plainly, has had enough. He fumes, “Now what’s it with yesterday?” As if just awaiting the moment she sneers with calm contempt, “As if you Mr. don’t know what I mean.” He shoots quick, “If its because I did not tuck my shirt in then do forgive me for that Your Gracious Honour, I could not find my belt…”, while she cuts him short, “To hell with your belt and your shirt, what’s between you and Akansha?”.

He knew more than well this was to be, but then he feigns innocence and hurt. He needs to, that’s how it works. He gives it some time. He zooms his eyes away, from her expansive speckless face and looks out at nothing. This is to mean the guy is sorry and its supposed to make the girl feel a tinge of guilt for having brought his, I mean, this guy’s mood down!

He lets a few more moments to tick. Actually letting that guilt some more time to soak in. Then he says, “It was nothing”. This is the best answer tested time and again by generations. If you straightly negate, then you are in for an extended session of heated arguments, while if you go flat and say, “so what”, then you are in for a few teary   moments of blame and fuss. The best way out is to say that you agree to it that it wasn’t all fair, but at the same time giving a hint of your righteousness by saying it wasn’t supposed to mean anything.

Now the girl knows that her guy stands at the threshold of tumultuous breakdown. One wrong step and she would be in for really cold scolds and the target for a guy’s bad mood. Actually guys could be real dangerous in a bad mood…! She now shifts a gear down, and with a more warm voice, in a tone that is no more accusing but concerned, asks, “You said to me that you don’t like her. And you also promised to me that you won’t go about asking beautiful girls for coffee, right…?”

The guy already has the answer in his mind, “It was completely incidental. I was sitting in here, and she herself came and sat beside. How can I say ‘no’? If there’s an empty chair, every student of this college has a right to sit on it right! And then she started talking about the fight she is having with her mom at home and that Ashish has asked her for a movie the coming weekend and that she has said yes.”

260620121474-001Now the second half of the last statement means more to our lady than the rest of the whole explanation. Though the fact that our guy means no more to Akansha is sort of discrediting to himself, but its all the more reassuring to his, I mean this, lady.

Now its time for second silence. The girl is feeling sorry for all this drama she created and the guy is having his time. Now the ball is in his court. And he more than well knows how to make the most of it.

It a voice that’s completely naïve to the row that had just occurred, its for the guy to forget, read it forgive, for the girl will never on earth asks a ‘sorry’, tells her, “Shall we go to the vantage point atop the hill at St. Thomas Mount this weekend?”

Considering what had passed and the fact that she had been complaining and stingy, and that our guy had been gracious enough to be calm and ‘forgetting’, she can’t but say a ‘yes’ to this offer. Then before they leave, he asks and the girl more than happily pays the bill. She more than deserves some punishment for the row right!

And let come the weekend, given that another apparent fight doesn’t flare up, they go to the vantage point and have a good time together.

Really, I created these men, and these women. But then, seeing them work about, live, fight and reconcile, it’s all a great and involving experience for me to watch, high up above the clouds, seated on my throne in the heaven!

Hues of Reverie

Artist-Easel“I think Pearsy loves me”, said Sam, shaking Gerstrause off the stuporous resignation with which he had immersed himself into the scenery he was painting. He was adding strokes of blue to the white stream of waterfalls that occupied the left half of the canvas. Sam was sitting on a boulder a bit away from the foot of the waterfalls to the right. He and the boulder would make the centre spread and stretch to the right merging with the tall trees of willow that he had planned to speck the lateral extremes of the scenery with. His lips stretched into a smile as he heard Sam.

Gerstrause let Sam indulge with his thought for a while and then said, “You mean that blonde cousin of your’s who visits you family in Summers?” Gerstrause had known Sam since his birth. He and Sam’s dad had attended college together. While Sam’s dad graduated in philosophy and went on to become a priest at the monastery, he pursued his hobby of painting. Sam now being 5, was a cheerful chap he had borrowed from his mother to paint in his scene.

Sam giggled and replied, “yes, that beautiful blonde! She is a nice girl, right uncle.” Gerstrause had met her but once and Pearsy did seem a mannered little child. He peppered Sam saying, “well yes, she is beautiful indeed. Now my dear lad, what makes you say she loves you?” Sam chuckled at the thought. He made an animated face and said, “why won’t she uncle, am so handsome and brave you know. She fell in love with me at first sight!” Gerstrause suppressed his laugh and looked up at Sam from the side of the canvas. He was sitting as he had postured him to on the boulder. ‘Nice lad’, he told himself. And the juvenile thrill on his face brought to his mind his days of childhood, and the little fair dolls that he had friends as. He chuckled at the thought and returned to the painting.

It was sometime before Sam spoke again. Gerstrause had almost started wondering what had gotten into this talkative lad. He picked at Sam, “what is going through your mind young man?”. And as if it was just the spark of inspiration he was waiting, Sam shot back, “uncle, what’s love?” Gerstrause beamed. He did not expect this coming. Gerstrause asked in reply, “Do you love Pearsy, Sam?”. “Well, why yes. I do love Pearsy. She is so beautiful, nice and kind. I like her lot.” Gerstrause immersed the brush in the paint brown for the boulder and said, “well then, you must already know it, young man, what love is!” Sam had a surprised look on his face.

It seemed like a revelation. Why, well of course. If he loved Pearsy, he must obviously know what love is, isn’t it. How can one do something, without actually knowing what it is? But yet, why wasn’t he consciously aware of what love is! “She smiled at me and gave me a daisy the other day. That’s why I love her.” Gerstrause was marvelling at Sam’s perspective. He said, “why Sam, have none else before given u a smile and a daisy?!” Sam crooked his eyebrows and counted on his fingers, “why yes. Bert gave me once. Loona too. And Micky gave a daffodil instead. What makes you ask this?” Gerstrause had got the right shade of brown for coloring the boulder, he looked up at the canvas and said, “then why don’t you love them too? This Bert, Loona and Micky as well?”

Sam was aghast. It had never occurred to him. Why yes, Gerstrause was so correct. Even they had done the same thing which he stated as the cause for him loving Pearsy. But then, why didn’t he love them! Was it like, there is something else about Pearsy that made him love her!? Or he loved Bert, Loona and Micky as well just as Pearsy!? Or he actually loved not Pearsy either!? He crooked his eyebrows as if in deep thought. He wanted to solve the dilemma. He knew for sure that the answer for at least one of the three situations was ‘yes’, with that for the other two being ‘no’. Or was it?!

love_painter_Wallpaper_uvuqaHe voiced his dilemma to Gerstrause. As Sam finished saying, Gerstrause blinked with his brush stilled for a moment. He had not expected this piercing analysing by a kid. He now was thoroughly relishing the conversation just as the scene on the canvas was coming to life. He answered by saying, “what if all are true as well as false.” Sam flung his arms in the air and Gerstrause gave Sam a reprimand. He went to Sam and adjusted the pose back. He said, “be quiet. It’s you that I am painting next. Don’t move a muscle.” And saying so, he moved to his canvas. Once back, he immediately softened and while mixing the colors for Sam’s lush dark hair he gave Sam a knowing smile. Sam endeavoured, “uncle, what did you mean? They being all true as well as false!”

Gerstrause said, “Sam, do you like the grilled tuna that your mom makes?” “But answer me first uncle, all true and false. How ?” “Am coming to it Sam, first tell me. Do you like the tuna your mom makes for you?” Sam visualised the dark biscuits of roasted tuna that mom grills at noon in the open sun. The smell would come wafting to his room and he would come running to request him mom to let him replace the firewood under the grill. He liked the crackling noise that the wood would do in the fire, spewing sparkles off about. But as time went by, it no more gave him any joy. So did neither the taste of tuna.  “I used to like it. But now I don’t think I do.”

Gerstrause chuckled. “There lies your answer. Maybe you loved Bert, Loona and Micky too when they beamed a smile and handed you the flower. It’s just that now you feel all your affections directed towards Pearsy. It’s just the days in between that separates the two. Just as the days in future will separate this again from something else. We don’t decide what to feel Sam. It just happens. Half the time we just wonder and keep guessing about why we feel so. And the irony about all this is, those very same implicit feeling are not evergreen either. They wither like the leaves of the willow in the autumn, the question being, the autumn of which year is the fateful one.”

“And what about it all not being love? You said even that is possible right!” ‘This kid is observant’ thought Gestrause. “Listen Sam. What’s what you call love! Words symbolise idea. But how can I be sure the idea that the word ‘love’ enshrines in my mind is exactly the same as that which you mean by the usage of the same word. We may in fact, be talking about two entirely different notions under the garb of ‘love’. Also, we use words to focus our thoughts. So when we sit alone and analyse, words don’t succeed in capturing the finer details in the idea that’s going through our own mind. Thus, your love for Bert, for Loona, for Micky and for Pearsy may be quite different in actuality, but you tagging it as ‘love’ obviates that fine difference in them. It may all be love, but love of a different kind, while all being not love at the same time.”

“Uncle, you confuse me!” complained Sam. Gestrause smiled, “you will understand it all Sam, in due course. Things happen in their own time, so does the dawn of understanding about something.”

Sam gave a low whistle as if mocking Gestrause and giggled as Gestrause feigned an annoyed look.

‘Never thought of it’ thought Sam, ‘that words aren’t absolute entities. They are just mere symbols. Symbols of ideas. And these ideas are also not rigid. They have a morphing quality. Words don’t mean the same to each. And even in our own thought, while we try analysing something, giving words to ideas is actually compromising on some subtle shade of its meaning. But isn’t it that it’s the small subtle differences that actually matter. Don’t small difference make a big difference in the long run. Maybe short run too.’ Sam gave a big smile as it starts making sense to him.

Gestrause had finished painting a fair bit of Sam. As he mixes the paint his mind wanders into the conversation he has just been having. The thought breaks into many branches bringing in an exodus of notions. But with a big smile, he brushes them all aside and tests the shade of orange for Sam’s shirt.

Just then, Sam clears his throat. Gestrause suppresses a smile as he is aware there’s more in store for today. And Sam ventures, with a glint in his eyes, “Uncle, words are not absolute. They symbolise an idea. But are those ideas absolute? What is the nature of absoluteness? Why do absoluteness and significance seem to go in hand? Is all that’s absolute definitely significant? Is what’s not absolute not significant? Is the idea conveyed by words which aren’t absolute significant? Is the idea conveyed by the word God, absolute or not? Significant or not? Is the idea conveyed by the word life, absolute or not? Significant or not? To begin with, what is the idea conveyed by the word life? What is life?!”

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