We are talking of Oscar Wilde when Brown Beard, probably a history major, lists major historical figures who were homosexual. Big, Round Glasses, probably an engineer, perks up on the mention of Alan Turing. He wants to say something but before he can get a word in, Beak Nose, probably a law student, says how this central issue of gay rights is like history repeating itself over again as it did with other rights issues like slavery. You hear these injustices over and over and you get numb to them, says Red Dress, probably a heart breaker. An echo, I say. You hear it again and again but it’s fainter each time. Other than compartmentalizing people I am also a hypocrite because I dislike metaphors.
Everyone has spoken all there is to say about the topic and how not homophobic each one of them is. That’s when there is an awkward pause. A gap in conversation always makes me nervous. It’s as if I am personally responsible to keep the conversation going and everyone is looking at me rather accusingly for allowing this silence to creep in. It’s as if my wit is at stake here. If I don’t come up with something smart to say then I have failed all these fine people gathered here. In particular Red Dress, with that infectious smile. The smile she flashed at me when I said being gay is not a choice but being an asshole is.
I am still racking my brain when she walks away with Manicured Nails, probably an envious homemaker. She’s already getting haughty with all the attention. And it’s not even a Red Dress if I am being honest. It’s the bourbon’s doing. Over the evening it transformed her to the hypothetical Red Dress. And yet I am nearly kicking myself for not having told her of my awkward experience in a queer Parisian nightclub.
Oh, were you here all the time? You are giving me the evil eye like I did something wrong. Red Dress? Sure, I want her to like me. I want everyone to like me. That does not mean I want to jump in bed with her. It does not mean I don’t want to either. Of course I am kidding. I am just being me, all charming … and tongue tied at the same time. Sigh. Despite all my protestations, I know I’ll be sleeping on the couch tonight instead of by your side. At least I have the sweet taste of bourbon on my lips.
I got tired of seeing the same sights and hearing the same sounds and getting the same scares night after night. So last night I decided to pay you a surprise visit.
I was mesmerized by the abundance of color. The grass felt smooth. The breeze felt cool. The melody of a canary filled the air. I got lost in the vastness.
It was late but I lingered as we watched rainbows bloom forth from our hands.
I wondered if it was always magical here. When I turned to ask you that you weren’t there. I saw you fading into the distance as you floated, like a butterfly in its beautifully chaotic pattern.
I knew I had to return. And when I did I was deep under water. I was trying to swim to the surface but the more I tried the further away it appeared. I shouldn’t be sweating under water, should I? I shouldn’t be hearing footsteps. And I certainly shouldn’t be smelling your perfume.
I should wake up before you leave. But the more I try to reach the surface the further it appears.
They were gathered under the blue moon. They had gathered to bury John’s cat. For the ninth time. She had fallen off a tree, narrowly missed being hit by a car and plagued by various diseases, but it was curiosity that finally did her in.
They didn’t want to be interrupted, so Junaid had brought a glass eye. He kept it out, just beyond the circle they had formed.
John took her out of the bag and buried her head first in the sand.
Jiao took out a stack of playing cards and tossed a few into the grave. He never played with a full deck in any case.
Jai looked resigned. He took an eight ball from his pocket and dutifully placed it on the ground in front of him.
Jamie voiced his opinion. Someone tossed two cents his way.
Jonjo had nothing to say. He had purchased a beautiful picture of a sunset (or was it a sunrise?) two days back. He had had to trade a thousand words in return. Choice words, too.
It was almost time to go. They all pulled their woolen scarves over their eyes. In the distance they could hear cows mooing. They too were headed back home.
She hides behind the hundreds of miles of cables between them. Not in the closet though. Too many skeletons there. But from behind all the cables it is somewhat easier for her to say goodbye.
As cliched as it sounds, it’s not you, it’s me, she says.
And he is thinking of this stray cat outside his home. One day she is all like pet me and feed me and I will always be yours, he thinks, and the next day she is nowhere to be seen except for a pungent reminder hastily covered in the front yard while she has gone whoring herself on some other street and you are left to wonder what it was all about.
After a long silence she says, say something.
I am going to watch Kubrick tonight, he finally says.
Keep the rewind button warm, she says almost automatically, something he used to tell her for her wont of constantly rewinding to re-watch scenes.
Maybe I will. Just so you know, only reason to watch is because I could use a little less drama in my life right now, he says.
Sorry, she says.
Could be worse. I could be watching Wes Craven, he says.
A sigh from the other end. I just want you to know that …
Gotta go, he interrupts her abruptly and just before disconnecting the line he says, I think I hear a cat outside and I am pretty sure she needs me.
I have to grade the pain on a scale of 1 to 10
I want to say maybe 6
To me everything feels like a 10
But 10 is probably a dangerous grade
One from which you are not meant to survive.
If you had not fought with me this morning
I would be home now
Instead of walking out angry
Ankle twisting on the treacherous curb
I’d be home instead of here thinking of a number.
I debate buying you a gift on my way back
Maybe a chic scarf
But would that be smart?
The message I’d be sending to you
Fight with me and I’ll gift you a nice present.
A nurse wraps a brace around my ankle
I picture a scarf
Around her delicate neck
And in my twisted imagination
You are jealous, at least a 6 on a scale of 1 to 10.
My year old nephew eats everything except food. The only way to get him to eat food is probably to scatter it on the floor like dirt.
He’s eating the petals of my orchid! I complain to my sister
Just keep it out of reach, she replies
The worst part is my dog wants to learn from the kid. She now wants to lick scented candles. I tried to find a bright side to it and immediately googled if the soy wax in my candles could be a source of protein, which she is deficient of. No such luck.
My sister subscribes to laissez faire parenting. Remember how mom used to scare us into submission? That was her mantra whenever I told her she should discipline her son.
If you don’t drink your milk then a monster will come to drink it. And you don’t want a monster coming home, do you? our mother would say.
Scared, I would shake my head and drink, worried all night what if the monster still came for the milk that was now in my stomach.
At least our mother didn’t let my sister experiment on me or I would have certainly grown up on a steady diet of bugs. Undoubtedly a good source of protein, that.
Every time she cooks I examine the food carefully, pretending to check the contents.
One time, she says exasperated to the table, One time a beetle crawled into his cereal under my watch. And somehow I become a witch who feeds bugs!
Nah. You are still a sweetheart. But can you please look after your son? He’s chewing through my Wodehouse collection.
I – Pebbles
Splash as I drop them into a still lake
The ripples flow outward in beautiful waves
Dance as I string them together
The smiles spreads across your face in beautiful arcs
Like the ripples die so does the magic of the words
Luckily I enjoy dropping more pebbles into the lake
II – The comet
She is here
Lighting up the night sky
She won’t be back again
Not in my lifetime
But I am glad
At least I get tonight
To spend with her
III – Rye
My throat is parched and lips are dry
Sure, beer, wine, vodka or rum
Can quench my thirst
But only bourbon can satisfy
Are you repelled? Don’t avert your eyes.
Do you see the discoloration? Like bruises on roughly handled fruit. Like mold on peeling wall. A lack of splendor. Well past the sell-by date.
Come closer. Inspect me.
Do you see the infestation? Like maggots on a rotting corpse. Like termites on dilapidated wood. Constantly gnawed at. Constantly being less whole.
Look closer still. At what is inside.
Do you see the attrition? Like mountains eroded by rivers. Like iron corroded by rust. The crevices run deep. Furrowing all the way to the heart.
The morbidity of it all. Succumbing to the only true Arbiters. What? Is that blasphemous?
There is one significant difference. You do notice it, don’t you? The impermanence of the damage? Apparently it all can be healed. And the scars will barely show! If only you could accept and not recoil in revulsion.
Her name is Avaricia.
You have heard about her numerous times.
Although you openly show your contempt for her shamelessly seductive ways there have been times when you have secretly craved her. For she appears to be beautiful in your visions.
But in truth she is ugly. Underneath her mascara and her concealer and her foundation, her skin is wrinkled. Underneath her designer dresses she has torn and dirty undergarments. She is fat and bloated.
Her leather purse bulges with her life’s debris, junk that she will never need but can’t seem to part away. Maybe to compensate for her life that is empty.
Don’t pity her, she preys on weakness.
Avoid her. Judicio would.
The doctors hadn’t given up even though there was very little hope for the boy. Hope was not a word they were used to using. They were used to using words like blood loss and trauma and hematoma.
Had the boy’s little sister been there outside the ER she would not have recognized the screams from her mother. She would have barely recognized her mother’s face, contorted as it were by grief.
The little girl felt a bit guilty. After all it was her kite that got snagged on the power line. Downwind drag. Her brother gallantly volunteered to free it using several iron rods tied end to end. Little did he know about the physics of electricity and conductors.
Two years back, when she was just 3, her father had replaced their dead beagle with a pup beagle. Identical tan and white colors. Father told her Dash had gone to a better place and had now come back as a younger Dash.
Anything is true if you believe in it strongly enough, right? Damn the evidence. Water turns to wine. Dead come back to life. Amen.
There was a loud bang. The boy was thrown several yards from where he had stood with his contraption of rods. It was not the electricity that did him in, although that did leave his fingers burnt to a crisp. It was the rock on which he landed, leaving a concave imprint on his skull.
When her father tucked her in that night she asked him, Did Paul go to a better place? And will he now be back as baby Paul? There was hope in her voice, oblivious to the welling tears in her father’s eyes.