In the room the seasons come and go
Speaking of Michelangelo
Now, when women put their smile on windows and approach, inside dank tiny rooms like the one where I stay, it should rain in heart of hearts. And it should rain till far away, in the morning, when the sun should’ve risen but because it rains, we don’t see it rising, though it really has. Perhaps. And when those drops smashed against the pane, I saw how the world, whirling, twisting and untwisting itself along the edges & contours of time and trembling with its chaos & harmony, would splatter itself across all significances of our barebacked Universe. It rains only when everything falls silent. And whatever sound, other than that of rain gnashing against the hard surfaces of the world, approaches the eardrums when it rains – such as ships bugling out from the jetty, caterpillar-trains rambling past, horizonbound, cloudbursts, people splashing past puddles, people talking in miffmuffled whispers, toads challenging the sky, it all echoes. And there’s this other echo, when it rains at night on hills and the other hills, where it doesn’t rain, reflect it, like sincere Gods holding the mirror we haven’t been looking for. That’s how prophesies sound, or so we believe.
Venus of Urbino, her form stretches before the eye till as far as vision reaches. There are drops of water, forming little pearls of beauty, the sort that wipes the muck of mind and often waters eyes, like only pretty women, pretty poetry and other little big pretty things can do. And the drops are all over her body, forming little, rounded globes, trickling down her brave nipples to her tender forefingertip, and gathering up, to fall, like autumn-leaves, on fertile soil. And they gather like the seven jewels of wisdom, around her mighty blooming navel, curving down her smooth underbelly to the folds of her moist pubus. Man, have you ever pressed your face against woman’s hair and wept? You should see her, our Lady of fond giving, in the soft light that peeps out when it stops raining. That’s the light we see on her eyes, and we can see inside our hearts, like an X-Ray plate. Earliest memory involved green mornings after the rain had stopped and the leaves were greener. I would look outside our living-room window, across the pond, to the coconut and other trees. Granma had cut out an unused water-bottle, put some soil inside, and had planted a bit of green that popped up, proudly, in the tint. She used to say that green is good for the eyes.
I remember early autumn evenings. There was a Gulmohar tree behind our Government-colony apartment, and its head would be just outside our bedroom window. It was red with flowers and a lot of birds would sit and move around. My favourite one was this little colourblast, BashontoBouri or Barbet. And all the chirping to wipe dying sunlight off their feathers. Mother was a nest and father was a big tree of wisdom and solutions. And red petals would soak in the last drips of daylight, and the skies would turn from red to magenta to mauve. There was a lot of green in those off Calcutta suburbs and beyond the tree our tiny compound wall would be covered with shrubs and there was a little canal beyond it, and a row of coconut trees lined up like war criminals before the firing squad. Colonel Aureliano would have thought up snow by then. Beyond the criminals lay a stretch of green, on one side of which there was a dense bush of bamboo and more shrubs. By the time the skies and the world would be the dark blue pearls of Blue Danube, a million fireflies would surround the bush and little dots of fire would surround it in strange worship of living, and crickets would start singing when the first conch-shell sounds pierced out of the lower-middle class apartments to mingle with the Azan from our neighbourhood mosque. The hawk, which had nested itself on the palm tree beyond the bushes, would flutter its big brown wings for one last time, and that would be it. Dad would return from the world across the yellow streets – my first knowing of the city below yellow streets of night – in a few hours. First erection was sometime around then. Our hero and heroine were singing and dancing by some waterfall on television and I had a toy helicopter and our relatives from Assam had arrived.
That was late autumn, sometime in November, as winter was sharpening its claws and little Oskar hadn’t yet gone inside his granma’s rainbow-faded skirt as she sat on the oven-heated bricks. Don’t know how there stars had placed themselves and how the Milky Way floated in our deep dark form-interrupted space. The moon could’ve been a big bowl of silver or it could’ve been in ox-horned, knit-brow frown. The sun hadn’t entered the eastern piece of land we inherit and windows opened and shut in forced cacophony. And untimely rain arrived, between these two seasons, and little drops flew around in trembling breeze, that sort that stabs the bones of the Universe and kisses them, in the wintry, baleful game of woe and death. Perhaps, the moon was down. I remember, bending over the volcanoes, in darkness, with sharp droplets flying across the sword, in the breeze, calling out for the shadowy blends, for lightning and oblivion, as she arrived. That was lady midnight. Her gown was purple, and the fond folds her applemoon shoulderbaldes held the waves of living, with mint and silver of life, love, death and everything in between. I kissed them once. And I kissed them again. And again.
There wasn’t affliction all around. Yolk-mornings of winter, for example, staring at sparrows jumping along the sunlight on balcony and portico, from the other side of my blue nylon mosquito-net, were kind. The Giver gave. Faint sounds of cooking would come out of the kitchen. Sunflower-headed lions, softly smiling through their lips and eyes, would glide in. That was warmth, and warmth was yellow, like it always is. And things melted, blending senses in fresh dewey light, sweeping all nice things up from conscious corners and piling them up in a heap. That was the earliest connection with good. Good was kind, and was smiling all the time. Even the lizards would be happy on the walls, and elephants would trumpet happiness from faraway green forests, by unknown rivers from books of hunting. Books had started filtering in and so had cricket till lunch. Some things would reach late, but there were always other things to fill the void up. Thus, the distances behind eyes. I had discovered solitude pretty early, and the sun would set on all trees and houses of clouds. Ophelia, our great white lily, floated by the river-bends, and willows stooped over her closed eye-lids, reaching out for her, seeking to caress her cold face which could be seen, but couldn’t see anymore.
Spring was all about Guernica and white horses. The piano-reeds would inevitably be soft, like petals from twilight flowers, and the candle-stand had a stone-fairy holding the candle on her head, and, when the flame made candles weep, wax would fall, like dazed tears, on her proud, perky breasts. That was in one such spring. Each time I tried to light the candle, it would go off. Fairy, and her perky bosoms, were mocking. Suddenly, through the swelling curtains and through cold music from the battery-operated radio, and through the light and darkness of the room, now enlightened by the flicked matchstick and now shunted to the sharp calendula-tinctured darkness of children in Roman masks of pain and wilderness, frozen while screaming, it arrived. There were shapes of monstrosity on the walls as the vineyard of dark tales of crime coiled and tolled up, roofbound, in muted rebellion and conquest, like those softly burning petals of beauty. I attacked Bastille. I stood tall and proud, the emperor of my doom.
Summers weren’t much, except for sweat sticking to meat and meat sticking to meat, yearning for more. And there were dogs in dogged afternoon streets, rolling on black asphalt, leaving little traces on the semi-molten macadam. Mornings would be waiting by the deodar trees for the school-bus of scare, and afternoons would be waiting in a file to board the bus back home, staring at the mirror of a photography studio and observing a line a sweat trickling down from the corner of one of the eyebrows and streaming down, chinwards. Books and copies would be in a rectangular suitcase with my name written on it. Back-home, it was all about Mama-Television and siesta as evenings passed through needle-eyed tear and snot, trying to draw lines and squares and circles. Summer had more misery in it than the entire history of our melancholic world of dementia and margins.
There was this Chinese king who had a map of his kingdom drawn out, and the map was so big and detailed that it was as big as the kingdom itself. And the map stayed on even when the kingdom didn’t. Now we all have our little big maps, and we are all in it. Dead moments pile up below the ocean. And soon enough, they will rise, like DiscoveryChanneled coral reefs, tearing the face of water, booming tall prophesies over our dark hedonist lays. Where will we let them keep their raised feet? Head becomes pointed, like a question mark, and I enter the room where the huge flame of the huge candle flickers. My fingers show their white, thin bones as I hug the candlebody with my fleshbody, and weep, dark water shivers on the walled, framed mirrors. They are burying our prophet twenty feet below our dark soil that knows of it all. Full fathom five thy father lies. We see the face of our unknown idol, her screams and echoes shooting from room to room, making shapes of fury on the tiled walls, plastered roofs, and on our weary frames. The flame flops down like red tongue of thirsty desert-hound and like its demon of starless eyes.
I don’t remember when I was born. There’s a calendar with a picture of god on the wall, and there are numbers and letters written on it. That might have an answer, but the numbers are blind without the letters and vice versa. I didn’t know that I was being born when I was being born. I don’t know whether I knew that I was born when I was born. I could never trust my sincerity in knowing, and whenever I feel like I know something, a little voice from somewhere asks me whether I really know it or whether I have learned it from books. To step down into this labyrinth without any clue, without knowing where the doors are, to be doomed to move around in circles till forever lasts, is the first idea of fear. And could we ever penetrate that? Theseus had his ball of threads. We have the seasons.
Or maybe, we don’t.
Is this why we have come this far?
Is this not why we have come thus far?