Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Crystal Gazing

I observe him endlessly; he is the beginning and the end, search for signs, always seeing the reflections and drawing the comparisons. I look at old photos, see the semblance. I pick up the phone; "Docto…??", quickly interrupting "Umm, just a minute". We go to a concert. Amma sits between us but my eyes wander nevertheless. I see the way his hand rests on his chin. It is the way I rest my hand on my chin. I see that he searches, as I do, for patterns in the notes, tries to understand how the instrumentalist converts this purely sequential, mathematical progression of notes into this. This. THIS. This thing, indescribable, spellbinding, indecipherable, encapsulating, omniscient, it's all around us, blocks out all our other senses, and we are both caught in a rapture, slaves till the player stops. The show is billed as a duet; Mandolin Srinivas and his younger brother who also plays the mandolin. As well. Nearly. They are both brilliant. But Srinivas is something extra, a tad of genius shining through with his every pluck, every pick. I throw a dart of communion to Rajesh.

After the show, we argue about the dinner venue; but he makes it difficult, puts the onus of choice on me. I have no energy to play this game; throw up options one after another, while he shoots them down, slowly brings out his constraints, one after one after one after one, all the while getting more annoyed at my lack of understanding of him. He orders a plate of Cholle Bature. I do too, but I add a plate of Idly Vada. He lays out the table, one tumbler of water for him, by the side, pills in hand, asks if I need a tumbler as well. I do of course, who doesn't, but I say No.

The dishes arrive; I dig in, eating furiously, ravenously, none of that etiquette-workshop roll-the-noodles categorize-the-spoons for me. I love the feel of this place. I love the crowdedness, the crowd itself; mostly labourers returning from construction sites, garages, factories, workshops, housewives bringing their children home from tuition classes, dance lessons, theatres, wherever. I am one with them, one amongst them, we are all one mass of happy eaters. He is finicky if he does not find a spoon to eat with; a remnant of his days in America. He loves the place. The people. The ideology. He is far more enthused about my new job in the farawayland than I am; takes out maps, atlases, marks out streets and residential areas, scans websites, emails friends, plans out routines. He dreams up ways of repaying his alta mater, giving back to it what he feels is owed. Tries to pull me in, outlines his vision, his ideas, shows me the presentation he made to the graduate school, the spreadsheet outlining the financial outlays he intends to make from his own purse. I am impressed, both by his insight and the uniqueness of his plan. But I can't, won't, don't show it.

He tells me about the various hotels, places to stay in Boston. I am not listening, shut myself out. I am not him. He of the piercing eye is not I of the piercing eye. He of the sharp nose is not I of the sharp nose. He of the bald pate is not I of the balding pate. Earlier, I used to be NOTHIM, !HIM, deliberate, the exact opposite, a pole apart, smoke if he does not, quit if he does, Luddite to his techie, geek to his Luddite, Yes if he is No, No if he is Yes, Maybe NOT if he is Maybe. Today, I am not him. He of the engineering faith is not I of the engineering nonchalance. He of the diligence and the preparation and the forecasting and the creation of supports and fortresses and barriers and the protection is not I of the randomness, of the I-want-to-find-a-way-wherever, the laid-backness, the opening up of new vistas, the breadth of the ocean.

In the evening, we take a long walk around the park. There are clouds in the sky; the sun is covered, and there are no shadows.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

On Possession

An invisible fence;
A magician's ropes,
To blind our sense
And entangle our hopes.

Maybe love is a pullover
To don on wintry nights.
Possession a means to lower
Us. From such dizzy heights.