PS*: This is a writing exercise to be read with Cigarettes After Sex in your ears.
Today I want to be a writer. So, I will write down all her thoughts just as they come. I was at the bookstore the other week, or (silently correcting myself), she was at the store. It was only a small alcove at a literary fest. She watched the names of the authors printed in bold typeface on the covers of their books. Words strung together, words going places, narrating stories. She stood there and read a story of Shashi Deshpande. It was called “Stone Women”. Her story reminded her of all those trips she took to Belur and Halebeedu, every time they had the road trips to Hassan, where her granduncle and grandaunt lived, with all their sons in the Americas. Those roads had the best view of the night skies. If she knew how to recognise the milky way, she would. But all that came to her then, was a poem recited in English class. Cheriyan Sir writing on the board, “O God, Cover me with the star-eaten blanket of the sky”. She likes to think sometimes that she can write poetry. Random words strung together to create a surreal painting.
She just finished correcting the spelling mistakes. Writing is hard. But Writing will not leave. Amrita Ma’am said, sometimes it was really about what you choose to leave out, rather than what you want to say. That’s true of course. But then, she thinks of Joyce – why would he write an entire chapter about Catholic retreats if it was more about leaving out? The chapter was easy to finish, but was extremely tiring. Easy, because she had lived it. Tiring, because she had lived it. So, is it like this? The tiny nuances that had to be made to feel? Was that all writing was?
Honestly, I don’t know. We’ve reached that point now – the space-time drop where you must find a way to connect what we’ve written so far, with what is coming next. Thoughts hurtle down the corners of million neurons that look just like the universe in miniature. Spaces, electric threads and black holes. Wait. She is going to play Apocalypse by Cigarettes After Sex. She talked to A about this yesterday, “What is that voice dude?” “It gets under your skin.” She squealed. I can’t put the reaction into words. This is one of the difficulties. I can say, she was extremely delighted. I can use metaphors, like the woman who wrote a story for children told V and me to do. Hmmm, let’s see, A’s reaction was like a reaction of a person you know, getting excited when she/he knows exactly how the same experience has made you feel. That’s not a metaphor. Or is it? A’s reaction was like everybody here, wanting to soak in the sun, wanting the sun to make you go tingly and warm all over, because its cold inside and everywhere else. That’s a kind of metaphor. But I must edit it, too long.
I just had a conversation with S. “I’m trying to write” I told her. “Like, I don’t know how to do it anymore. I just know I want to, I have to, but I don’t know how to do it anymore.” “I know what you mean, dude. I feel the same way.” Her poems startle me out of my naive imaginations. She has the gift to string words together that will lead you astray until she shocks it into you. Leaving you wanting to know, more. She, like her, and me, and you, and everyone here, we have another world in our heads – a space that is our own, and when its too crowded, the words have to come out, although like for me now – it isn’t easy, and you’re not very happy with it afterwards.
I think Cigarettes After Sex is going to be my writing playlist. Sometimes you see, you forget that we’re all simply trying to translate our love. Our love for that head-space in our selves. It kills us, but we cannot be sane without it. She smirks. What is sanity, really? I’m trying to think of a way to describe her poem to you. Her name I don’t want to say. My name, comes from her name – a long, long time ago, although our faiths sadly overlook this. Smirk Again. Back to her poem. Yesterday, she – the one who is trying to be a writer – she sat on the floor of the sixth-floor extension, to soak up the sun. The wind was blowing softly, she was staring at the glade of overgrowth. If you hugged the floor and closed your eyes to a favourite Tamil song, you could hear the earth move. And that’s when her poem comes to me. Neon lights hurtling by, a sad-happy night, the wind in your hair. Clichés I know. But this cliché has been on her mind, while she wrote all of her last three poems. See, sometimes that’s the beauty of poetry – the power to linger. H’s poem lingers. Comfortably. Sad-Happily.
Is that too many words? I don’t know. She doesn’t care. The itch is gone. The pain will always remain, like the welt on her thigh after the ant bit. I will stop now. She thinks that, for today, this is enough.
*PS – Pre-Script