Saturday, August 20, 2011

The boy in the orange shirt.

-Thursday Night, Acrylic on canvas, by Neethi

“Get fucked or rape yourself.  Now you have my favorite shirt.”

It is the third day today. I know it because I had slept three whole nights (most part of the days too) characterized by unnerving fear attacks which pulsed an intense reflex of peeing each time the rainy wind blew over my face from the open slide window, cascading my dreams with unpleasant nuggets of reality.

Yes, right now, every book I touch seems like a Hitchcock movie.

Right now, even perforated salty biscuits taste tasty. 

And now, I find myself on the outside of this world. In another, that can be explained best as inexplicable.

Now, I rephrase the aforementioned as being beyond the world.

The rain just won’t wash itself off, and when you desperately want to be bright and sunshiny, a day like this can put any zombie specimen off. With the zombie-thought raining on my parade, I take out Camus and sip 7-Up as if it is tea- with the icy-hot treatment. I see one too many words and realize I am still squinting. I bury my face in the damask-flock printed cushion and think about the graveyard on which this building was built. I laugh a half-ridiculous laugh, sincerely.

All this seems vaguely familiar. I had passed the same series of events yesterday, except that someone did bring a hot glass of tea for me. I remember yelling at some motherfucker for being loud. Maybe the nice tea-guy. But I swear each word played three rounds of squash on my eardrums. I had passed out again before I had a real shot at the tea. Damn. No tea today.

The rain stops. A gloom fills my hollow insides, and I scratch my head to recall whose mother had died. Failing, I put on a shirt and decide to take a walk to the grocery store. Why so morbid, the luggage counter fellow seems to probe. I float in the tide of washing powder packets. It reminds me of my stinking pants from the day before and I recoil. Some vomit, a lot of beer. I drop three packets into my cart for the flowery redemption my linens deserved. Even the cashier throws an understanding nod. I flip at the sight of Ferrero Rochers lined besides the counter. This is not so bad, I think as my teeth take a dig. Not bad at all.

Yesterday had not been good.

Yesterday –

my head stood peculiarly on my neck. It wasn’t the mirror, no. But I had an aerial view of my body from quite a distance up and my feet seemed oceans away. I wanted my head to stop bobbing physically. What was with the corkscrew motion? If I had another head to see my head, I would have LMFAO!

I pinched myself and didn’t feel a thing. I affirmed that it was indeed real and shoved my head back into the cushion. Someone yelled, so I was loud. The sight of tea gave me shivers. I rolled my eyes at someone and that sent me on another spin. The clock gyrated anti-clockwise and the previous night’s events flashed back. I wasn’t sure if it was the previous night, or a previous life. But slowly my memory drew just the right lines to make a shape, and just the right shades to make a form. It zoomed out presenting a curious picture of the boy in the orange shirt.

It must have been well past midnight because the double ass-faced bumpers living upstairs would usually have their sing-song affairs till late. I woke up with his face on my mind. I remembered sensations. Like the warm feeling when we shook hands, and my mind being blown off. My head, mind and heart, all presented different channels of sensations (magnified to the power of the largest number you can imagine). His face was beautiful. Iridescent with genius and youth. Involuntarily, I threw up on myself. But it didn’t bother me very much. I tried forming a frame with whatever scattered bits of memory I had. But like a killer Cubist painting, several multidimensional intersecting planes of occurrences flashed before my eyes. I feigned waking up with a start, just in case it worked and cleared the cloud. Neah. I surrendered and passed out.

The world seems indifferent towards me. I don’t know why I expect anything different.  After all, it was just the four of us bedazzled by the boy. Or perhaps it was just me, I can’t remember. I turn on the radio. The classical shit easily becomes a part of my milieu. I strain to recall the events that led me to the state in which I am now. I know it will be futile, but I try anyway. Bored of it, I call up Mathew to shoot the breeze. He greets me with his characteristic Fuck You Bro and I know some things never change. I ask him where he is. “In my shack here, whore. Where else do you think I will be on a Sunday.” So it is a Sunday, check. Ten more minutes of our pleasant talk reveals that we were two bottles of rum down when the boy surfaced out of nowhere. A nice, genial young boy who also happened to be loaded, at Dev’s farmhouse party.

It was refreshing to have someone with all the youth flushing out of his pink skin, sit with a bunch of dreamers like us and talk about his accolades like they were mere grey stones. We exchanged silent nods of approval for the boy and were pretty damn impressed. We must have chatted on for hours. It was only when the girls arrived that we digressed. The boy had disappeared and I had wandered off.

Mathew is a nice catholic guy and doesn’t like to disrespect his girlfriend on a Sunday morning. I understand, so I hang up thanking him with my own set of epithets.
That was not just it, I know.

I go out to my little balcony to be on top of that little world I clearly made my way out of recently. I let my eyes scan the view. Clouds with a golden outline, birds, squirrels, some old pots, a clotheswire… wait! An orange shirt on the wire? I run towards it, flipping out of my wits. Dammit!

Before I know, the bats are taking their flight towards East. The dusk totally takes me by surprise. I must have sat there transfixed for god knows how long! Kishan brings a glass of hot water, and I look at him with a newfound brotherliness. I thank him for the water, and he is taken aback. He clearly doesn't appreciate it too much. He thrust forward a piece of paper in return saying- “Voh, koi ladka aya tha, diya ye.” I take a grab at it and ask him to get lost. He smiles in answer.

“I know you are puzzled. And probably will not appreciate it immediately. But get fucked or rape yourself.  That is how I have lived, and it is the only right way to live man. Sorry about the beer, you figured me out. Now you have my favorite shirt. I’d not want to part with it. Address at the back of the slip. –M”

I imagine his happy shiny face saying this out aloud to me, glittery eyes looking sheepishly into mine as he fruitlessly tries to sound ahead of his age. What the fuck happened to him, I wonder. And as though it’s the first time that blood has ever run into my head, I jolt. The blackness clears out my head and I spring to my two feet.

I call Mathew to hear the whole bridge of a song he had picked up on his tour to South India. No answer. “Girlfriend!”, I hit my head. I decide against calling the rest. I lean against the railing on the left, stare into the dark and muse.

In an out of the body experience, the boy with shiny hair stole my soul. Even if it was just for a moment.

The girls had arrived, and I wasn’t quite that high. The innate nervousness pulled me out of the crowd. It was when I was poring over the fullness of the moon that he arrived with two bottles of beer. Pushing one smoothly into my hand, he flashed a perceptive grin. So what do you write about, I asked. I was genuinely curious when he had talked about his stories. “Love, life and death.. Doesn’t that sum up everything?” he proposed. He had sad eyes. Sad gleaming eyes. I didn’t agree with him, but didn’t say so. His eyes were fixed towards the sky. But he wasn’t looking into the infinity. He was looking at something that was really close.  His sight kept shifting curiously and I nearly thought he was dreaming. For a moment there, it seemed that the boy had lost his poise.

When he turned to speak about his writings, he conquered me.

“Engineering was alright.. I thought writing would give me an edge, you know.. “

His casual tone had already made an impression on me. I realized that his articles had been published in a couple of monthly journals which were popular amongst my old group.

I wanted to know more about this little cherub.

“I live just down the block. Have the house, a car, a cook and a few ladies at my disposal. You should come sometime. My girls would be pleased to give you a nice rub.”

Possibly because I was under the influence, I did consider it for a moment before laughing it off.

I learnt that although a Bengali, he had spent most of his life in Punjab. A nice white bungalow was his own at the age of eighteen, when his parents moved back to the native town.

“It was a riot then! Friends and party. We lived everyday like it was the last. But I never missed school.”, he said raising a finger in defense.

I thought about the scoreless times when I have gotten out of the Bank with the will to overhaul my business ambitions.  Wasn’t I just like him, once?

“When I joined IIT, I thought I would miss our tight group. How was I to know that it would be even more 
explosive there?” He continued. “It was in my first year that I fell in love.” I thought he said that more to himself than to me.

“From there, bro, I shot up like a missile” He added. “Ah! The little black dresses they had.”

He spoke ferociously.  “Wilde had a wise ass. A woman’s face is her work of fiction, izn’t it?” he winked. “Wah! But my college did have some. What about you? Your women?”

“I had a wife.” I had had many women in my life, of course. But whenever attacked while my guards are down, I tend of talk of her.  It was my only real heartbreak.

He did not dither. “Come over. I have just the right thing for you man! You seem to be the cool type.”

“Yeah..”I said, unsure.

“I know what you are thinking. About your life, right? I tell you, think about your death. Living in its anticipation will wipe that dirt of fear off. That’s what I tell my girls too.”

I mulled over this for a while. Looking at his profile, this somehow didn’t fit.

I asked about his other friends.

“I keep flying for lectures, so my circle is pretty global. I pick the coolest bunch. We smoke up, party, have a fucking good time!” He roared. “My car is the most precious baby. Don’t worry, all my babes know that too. Y’know, there comes a point in life when all the fucking feels like fuck and you just want some time to generously space out.”

If he appeared casual about his professional success, he certainly did seem to be boisterous about his associations.

“I only stick by my East Indian girls now. They have no games. Plus, my fellows like them same. Heheh. I thought I’d bring them along, but.. y’know..I was a little worried about ..the people. Got to say, I do care. Ha!”

That was it. I wasn’t sure at first, but it seemed plain now. The smile was a cover up. The laugh was a distraction.

“Let’s party soon man. It will be a mindfucking rampage. You will soar!”

He was alone. The boy, all he wanted was a friend.  He was flailing in desperation. He laughed some more and it hurt me.

“You are bluffing, aren’t you?”, I said in an eager slip.

Unblinkingly, he dropped the bottle. My heroic dive to rescue it rendered me colored with beer.

The unintended slap on the face left him silent. I did not see the boy’s face when he slapped my arm.
A yank out of the clouds, and I was flat on the ground. I could see the boy’s face now. It was all around me. I saw his lovely skin shine with a tear when he said,

“A broken heart needs this. I know you need this too.”

He smiled like a rascal.

I felt his face inching closer to mine. A supple energy was throbbing in my body, which lied limp, as my mind took travel. I had no voice. He said it was God’s, I thought he was God. Slowly my existence crept out of my skin, starting from where he had slapped on my arm, and saw the world. Saw wonderful nuances of death and the futility and emptiness of life. “This is how I my every breath”, he was saying. As I slowly lost all sense of time and space, I lost control over my body but gained complete understanding of my surroundings.

I wanted to die, and feel that way forever. I wanted to ride in his warped warren and be his friend.

I never want to feel that way, ever!

The stupid moon is still there. I back off the railing and think about how I reached back home. But my head smarts from thinking. I look at the orange shirt, but with distaste. It induced no enigma, no charm, no humor or anger anymore. He was a drug.

I sit on my bed with the note in my hand, not turning it around for the address. I push the thought of my ex-wife out of my system.

I bury my face in the cushion, and dream about flowers.