Tuesday, May 26, 2009

1. k

This is a weird city.

When I had come to the arsehole of the world, I found it dead. I felt imprisoned in it. Trapped between the forest of four storied lifeless buildings. I wanted to break free. I wanted to run back home. Coming from a fast paced city, I felt the zero pace of this suburb suffocating. I wanted to run madly around it. And I wanted the place to run with me. I wanted to fill it up with action. Pump Life into its laziness. Send its adrenaline rushing. I wanted the people create a cacophony. I was not used to this silence. I wanted to change this place. Because I badly felt out of place here.

And then Dilip came up with an idea one evening. To leave the suburbs and visit the city. We took the city bus.

And the moment I stepped into the, I felt the lost hustle and bustle of my last city come back to me. The city had embraced me in its arms. It had dissolved me in. I had felt the rhythm of it. I had touched its heart beat. And it had touched mine. I had found life on the barren patch of land. And I was into an affair with it.

Content was gushing through my heart and spreading all over through my veins. That was when I had discovered a connection between us. A connection between me and the city. A connection between my city and me. A connection between this city and my city. A connection between the two inseparable entities. A connection of love, hate, friendship, jealousy and other such contrasting feelings. A connection with feelings. A connection which is today an Expressway. A dream project that had come true.

My hatred for the place slowly turned into love with time. I have developed a thick bonding with it now. But the period of this struggle to create it was troublesome. Yet all is well…that ends well.
As I stand on the footpath of JM Road waiting for her, I realize this. That this is a weird city. On one hand it isolates you, and on the other, it clutches you close to her heart. A crazy city.

She doesn’t come yet. But I hear weird voices coming from a distance. I walk in their direction.I am supposed to wait for Aparna near the large Gulmohur tree. Opposite Crosswords. Our regular location. We were to go to her place as her parents had gone for a wedding to my city. Which also means I will have to rush with my undertaking, as the distance between the two cities was just two and half hours by Expressway, and they could return any moment. Otherwise, there are other days too, when they go to office. But that was during the day. Such evenings seldom occur.

The sound gets sharper. I am pulled towards that mysterious sound. It sounds like a cacophonic rhythm played aloud on speakers. With a harmonium and little cymbals. The curiosity builds up in me. It grows. It grips my being. Like a huge creeper it winds itself around me and drags me towards itself. As I approach closer to the voice, the words slowly appear before me from the cloud of voices and music. Their haze moves aside as I advance closer to the words. At last they fill my ears with their sharp edges.

‘Hare Rama. Hare Rama. Hare Rama. Hare. Hare…
Hare Krishna. Hare Krishna. Hare Krishna. Hare. Hare…’

The words wrapped around me. I felt the soothing coldness of them touching me. I opened my mouth to follow their rises and dips with my voice. And the phone rang. A hard vibration and then the tune. ‘Vibrate then ring’.

I am shaken out of reverie. I come back to Anay. I see four bald foreigners dressed in light saffronish pink robes. They were chanting the name of Rama and Krishna in their own trance. A similar stated Indian stood besides them with a counter full of books on Krishna. And the center stage was grabbed by the ever famous Bhagwad Geeta.

The book of the books. The base of Hindu culture. Quoted some thousands of years ago by the Lord himself, to guide his beloved friend Arjun. It has been the national bestseller since the day it was spoken. People went crazy for it. And not just a generation, but generations after generations. It had given an identity to a religion which was struggling for a holy scripture. A religion which only had epics, statistics, philosophy, psychology, mathematics and medicine but no holy scripture to follow. A religion which must’ve felt left out without it. And it must’ve come finally. From a sage with fourteen assistants writing it. Smartly inserted in an epic. Safely spoken out of an Incarnation’s mouth.

It’s relevance changed over time. From a way of life, to a code of conduct, to a secret knowledge of the high castes, to a religious propaganda, to a means of attracting west, to a base to run your religious sect and endorse it to laymen, to a subject of research. It has traveled a long journey.
It has been the motivator of wars. The source of clashes and reason for uprisings. The bloodiest of hostilities have initiated from this holy book. Covered under the veil of righteousness.
In modern times it is the weapon of the fundamentalists. The senior IIM Baba’s management curriculum. And book of trust for the Indian courts. ‘Geeta par haath rakhkar kasam khaaiye…..ke main jo bhi kahunga sach kahunga’.

Yet Geeta is the source of life for so many people around our lives, who follow and believe every word in it religiously.Another religion sellers were putting the word of god on sale once again. Along with an exclusive cover showing Krishna driving Arjun’s chariot.

‘Bhagwad Geeta. As it is.’

And the ISKON logo.

But what had caught my eye was the picture of Krishna. A young confident gentleman as on the book. Firmly holding the straps to the horses. Eyes set on the opponent, road or the aim, whatever applies. A charming lad with a peacock’s feather on his crown. A friend, a philosopher, a guide and a God! Krishna the ultimate being. The pole star of the Pandavas. The lover of Radha. And the man behind the Kurukshetra war. The US of those days. And the meaning of my name. Krishna.

The phone rang again. I hurried thrusted my hand into my jean’s pocket and pulled it out. ‘Aparna Calling…’.
I press ‘Answer’.

“Where are you?” her voice overcomes the surrounding traffic.

I look around for a landmark. I see the petrol pump. Oh Damn! I am not supposed to be here.

“Near the petrol pump"
“Why did you go there??.....weren’t we supposed to meet opposite the Crossword?”
“Yeah…but I felt like walking few more steps…”
“Shut up! Liar….now wait there…I’m coming..”
“Okay!”

I had met Aparna in my free time. Every time is a free time for me actually. But then I had enough time from my lethargy to go to a cybercaf√© and check social networking sites. And in one such visits I had found her through a common fan club. I loved these sites then. These were my gateway to socializing. At minimal costs of 10 or 15 per hour, I could a hell lot of people. From different places. Of different ethnicities and with same enthusiasm to socialize. Finding new friends. I would say, finding someone to lie down with. Socializing is just a name. All that everybody wants to do is to get laid. And they find new ways to do that. Social networking is a new medium for it. For the likes of me, who cannot afford pubs, discos or even coffee joints, social networking comes as an answer. I had met Aparna through one such endeavour. I wan on a Dom Moraes’ fan club. She was there too. I dropped her a ‘Hi!’ She dropped me a ‘Hi!’ That’s where it all began. Fortunately she was from the weird city. Localite! Been staying there since childhood. That augmented our chats more. And the day arrived when we finally met. And then there were coffees, poetries, movies, readings, screenings and at times shopping too. Rest all followed too. Sometimes I feel I am in love with her. Sometimes I feel, there would be a vacuum after she leaves. Sometimes I feel, we should be together for lifetime. But, that’s just sometimes. There are no promises. There are no commitments. There are just moments to live. All we do is just live them to the fullest.

Her scooty halts beside me. Its shrill horn fills my ears. She wont stop honking till I plug my ears with my fingers.

“Yes…Yes…Yes! I saw you Appy!....now stop honking!” I say shouting over the honk device.
“Why are you standing here?” Ma’m asks.
“Waiting for you…”
“But you were supposed to wait there.” She points out to the large Gulmohur.
“But I am waiting here!” I hold her hand and change the direction.
“leave my hand you jerk!”
“I won’t!”
“Bachao bachao….dekho yeh gunda meri iijaat loot raha hai!” She gets faux melodramatic. Aparna occasionally burst into such fake overtly melodramatic episodes. With enactments that match the flavour of a 1980s Masala movies.

“Yahaan tumhaari awaaj sunanewaala koi nahi hai raani….aa jao meri baahon mein!” I perform my Amrish Puri.

She punches me in my belly. I cry ‘Bitch!’. She snaps ‘Arsehhole!’ We both laugh.

“Now tell me….what were u doing here?” she always has this tone of authority as she talks to me. Before the world, she is just clinically harsh. A hard nut to crack. Which I had already cracked with the cyber nutcracker. I only had to enjoy the core now. And I had got used to it now. So much that it would not be easy to let it go.

“I was seeing these books!” I pointed at the ISKON books.
“Really??...you liar!”
“Really!”
“Bhagwad Geeta?”
“Not exactly….all of them”
“Why?...want to wash the sins of sleeping with me?”
“Is that a sin??...Then let me be a sinner”
“This assures me that you weren’t watching Bhagwad Geeta at all!....jerk!…You must’ve reached here come chasing some girl…”
“No really…”
“Yeah…I know…..Bhagwad Geeta...you are Krishna anyways...but in sense of women...not otherwise!!”

The line struck me hard. ‘You are Krishna anyways’. I couldn't her the rest of the sentence. It just vapourised in air. That one line give birth to an unfamiliar turmoil within me. It churned within me my state of being. I felt something come to my throat. Maybe the same universe I had swallowed with butter when I was a kid. Which Yashomati Maiyya was shocked to see. I look up. A blue tarpaulin hung some feet above me. It had cast a blue shadow on my body. As if it was an integral part of me. I remembered the notes of a Basuri that Ameya had taught me in the school years. The peacock feather my Granddad had given me many years ago, came swinging down from the branch of the tree above me. The words reverberated in my ears. ‘you are Krishna anyways’

“O re!....what are you thinking?” She pulls me out. Like most women, she too was good at it.
“Nothing!”
“Nothing??....liar….Must be thinking of a new way of getting me laid…..saalaa Fucker!”
“Yeah…that gaali suits me in your case!” I divert the investigation with humour.
“Yeah…yeah…come get seated now and molest me on the road…horny arse!”

I sit on the pillion seat. I neglect her words. Her only words that remain with me are, “you are Krishna anyways”. Was I Krishna? Would I quote Bhagwad Geeta? Would I start a war? Would I cleanse earth of wrong doings? Will I carry Gowardhan mountain on my pinky? Or will I dance over the Shesh Naag‘s fang after defeating it? Or……will I bed 16000 women?

Aparna rode past a cow. I found the cow staring at me. And me at her. Like an old connection that goes beyond centuries. Of a God dressed up as a Gwala or the cowherd and a cow standing behind him. It seemed to me like the same one.

I knew her…in my last life!

* * *

(Contd.)