In memory of

Could we trade the next gush of wind for your soul’s return

could we end all sorrow with your laughter

could we go back to the beginning

to when forgetting was a passage

forged from brighter memories.

Can tomorrow take her back to you

can you wish upon the next shooting star

from the bed of roses you lie on

wish for just one more day

just a few more minutes

for her to tell you.

I was absent in my presence

expecting assured tomorrows

I ran away as soon as I heard

I had to use the night’s darkness

shroud myself from the guilt, numb

I didn’t feel pain , just emptiness

just a void where snatches

of our conversations

of conversations about you

spiraled, hurled through my continuum.

I drowned it in the sound of the sea

the vastness of the sky

the grains of sand

each one stuck to me

like the words you never heard

the love you never had.

She’s broken but strong

she deserved to know

who they were, what they’ve done

maybe in a parallel universe

she knows and it’s all okay

and there’s no coffin

and no tears

no silence

and no fears

Maybe one day she’ll know

and when she does

I’ll be there, kuku

I promise you.

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Blood On My Hands

Do you see her writhing in pain, slithering like a slippery noodle twisting through chopsticks, fingers outstretched one second, curled up, knuckles red, the next?

“No fever? See a doctor, drink more water”

Water made her throat run drier, she could imagine its walls like the floor of an arid, cracked desert that’s long gone, no flood or prophetic Moses could heal it now, for the sun would take away what was given in a second, leaving behind a thirst that would stick to the roof of her mouth like the plastic feeling of dried up glue on a child’s finger.

“Blood in your phlegm? See a doctor, drink more water”

Blood is not news to a woman; blood is a ritual. Blood is the alarm bell that goes off to remind her twelve times a year that she is, still, a woman. Her indifference was a constant, to nosebleeds and coughed up blood, both painless, both signs that the veins that sewed our flesh together are not the work of the finest tailor.

“Headaches, exhaustion? See a doctor, drink more water”

Throbbing, like the first night, except this time there was no pleasure involved, it was everywhere but there, there was no duty-free guilt and no stupid giggle to end the pain. Her head throbbed, her arms ached while her legs went limp in protest and her chest was drafting a letter of resignation. White flags everywhere, strewn all over the bed, crumpled tissues filled with the inheritance of her times.

“Still alive? See a doctor, drink more water”

Not dead yet, beyond it without having passed it. A convenient bubble of nonchalance that excused her from having to care about the living, they were alive enough to care and to protest those who didn’t. She didn’t know when to bring her bubble down, she didn’t know where reality ended and her feelings began, where pain flowed into life and stirred the waters of victimhood. All her smiles were subterfuge, all her screams only rehearsed echoes.

The doctor gave her water and a strange white pill.  She lies crumpled under a bed of rust coloured leaves but they say she’s happy now.

 

Dear Friend

We were shooting stars once
Now you’re a cracker
Just smoke and illusion
A manifestation

We were deep as the ocean once
Now you’re as hollow
as the shells you wear
Your bones, they pick and tear

We were curious once
Now you know the world
Cynicist claiming realist
Pointing fingers at fundamentalists

You were alive once
Now you’re in a coma
A period of death, still in motion
Between recklessness and recollection

You told me once
How you’ll never change
Maybe it’s me
Maybe it’s the world
But I guess now we’ve grown old.

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I’m emotionally attached to my calculator.

I’ve forgotten how much I paid for it but I guess it was around $20 because I remember asking my mother for $30; I wanted extra pocket money to have donuts for the rest of the week. Who knew I’d become so attached to this tiny gray computing beast? It saw me through everything, from Singapore to Kerala to Guajarat; even Malaysia and Australia scattered intermittently. It must have chuckled wisely at my struggle to understand exponentials for it had been born with the knowledge of e; felt amused at all those lame jokes I’d crack about Mdm ‘wobbly’ Yeoh, our oversized Lit teacher in Secondary one, shook its head in disapproval at our hooliganism, watched over me and Nadiah; her calculator and mine were probably best friends too till the friendship was painfully cut short. I’d forget to take it out of my bag on Saturdays, on my way to Benedemeer Primary with KitKat, Vicky, Nish and Yana (not their real names).
It’s seen me hop from one crush to the other, my teenage hormones cooking up childish thoughts of High School Musical-esque romances with every cute guy in class. It’s witnessed the change of my piano teacher, from the young, pretty and airheaded Ms Jolynne to the middle-aged-but-so-worn-out-she-looks-fifty Ms Wong. It’s heard my Kingsburg, the Steinway and Sons at Ms Wong’s place and my Kawai. It’s heard me fight with my mom when I didn’t want to practice or when I couldn’t drag myself to Ms Wong’s class because I knew she’d pick on how my wrists would lift up when I played the scales (‘like an octopus!’) and on how emotionless my Sonatas felt (‘feeel the song in your veins!’). It’s heard me fumble through Mendelssohn and Chopin, heard me play Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum a thousand times because it was the fastest piece I knew and I’d show it off to my friends. It’s seen me flit through malls, through shops like Popular and MiniToons, Roxy and Ripcurl, fawning over cute and even cuter stationery pouches to house it in, from kawaii Japanese ones to oversized branded ones.
It had a break of around four years when we migrated to Kerala. It’s watched me go through a kind of hell that I didn’t know existed. Then Surat; college began and it was working on a daily basis, enduring my fingers constantly punching and probing, questioning and commanding it. It’s seen the highs and the lows, literally and figuratively. It’s seen my every effort,waited patiently in my Smiggle pouch everytime I tried, failed and cried. Vacations, birthdays, it was always there. Its final trip was in my suitcase to Goa; at least it died in a happy place. I was unaware of its passing till I came back to college, when I took it out one day, a quantum mechanics problem requiring its talents. It was unresponsive. I took it to the watch shop across the road to get the battery replaced. The amazing thing about my calculator was that I’d never once in eight long years replaced it battery, a 1.5V AAA that served me loyally till its last breath. The cause of death was internal bleeding; the heart (battery) had lost too much blood, which had then spilled over to the organs (circuitry). Although we cleaned out the inside and tried a heart transplant, it was clear that it was beyond all points of recovery. Here is the apology it deserves:

To my calci,
You’ve been a great friend, one of the best companions I’ve had. I’ve taken your patience and your silent demeanour for granted way too long. It took me your death to realize how awesome you were. I won’t insult your memory by replacing your place with one of those cheap models like the fx-82MS with no natural textbook display. I’m planning to get the fx-991ES plus. It displays the way you do, its body is more sophisticated, one of your pedigree. I’m sure you’d approve of it being part of your lineage. The loss of my phones have never saddened me this deeply, though they held images, videos, music and messages that were of sentimental value. You stored nothing but calculus functions and the value of the constants I’d saved in you. I hope you are happy wherever you are. Your intelligence and your hardwork and your calculative nature will always be remembered.
With love
-your mathematically inadept owner

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