Quiet

Yoda Press Bookstore, 2012

He is listening to songs by the band ‘When Chai met toast’, on a loop. I adore his childlike glee at sprinkled Tamil lyrics in a Hindi song.

In the early morning hours, drifting in and out of sleep, I dreamt of narrow lanes, blurry silhouettes of people rushing past, dark corridors, slate blue and dark green shop fronts illuminated by the diffuse haze of yellow lights. I remember being happy.

Throughout the day I tried to recall if it was a random image conjured by my mind or a real memory. If yes, then from where and when? Finally it came to me. Hauz Khas, Delhi. Dusk. Autumn evening. 2012. A solo trip. Walking through the busy lanes. Eating butter garlic prawns at a restaurant after walking six flights of rickety stairs. I remember hearing a strange, high-pitched bird cry, and was told it was a peacock from the adjacent forest. Later, chanced upon the Yoda Press bookstore and it was lit up with soft yellow lights. Browsed for hours. Sat cross-legged on the floor, taking my own time to decide, adding to the book pile. Roamed in the dark corridor studded with paintings and photographs. It was an unfamiliar vibe, a new feeling, very different from the small town I grew up in. More strolling around with a bag full of books. Ate gelato. I enjoyed that ordinary evening of roaming around alone. And this memory jumped to surface today, eight years later!

It is so important to be comfortable being on your own. And I am grateful that I finally do. I relish going to the movies alone every once in a while, and also eating alone at a restaurant , bookstore browsing, visiting museums and galleries, reading for hours , or going for a walk alone. Not just a refreshing break of solitude in a world that just can’t keep quiet, but also being able to do things at my own pace and be in the moment without worrying about making conversation.

At a lab I worked in very briefly, I was horrified at the thought of eating lunch together with a huge group, EVERY SINGLE DAY! At the risk of appearing rude (and I definitely must have appeared so) , I used to return to my room, eat my lunch alone, read for a few minutes while making coffee, and revel in the solitude! This need of mine becomes difficult to explain to those who thrive in being around others. I love being around people too, but I treasure my solitude equally. So much that I sometimes dream of solitude! 🙂

The day

It is a no pants day. An acute craving for freshly squeezed orange juice day. A wake up frighteningly early yet stay in bed day. An old Goan melody day.

A trying to find meaning in the checkerboard of light and shade stretched across my floor day. A speaking just a handful of words throughout the day.

A darkened room and the whirring of the fan and the whiff of the fragrant body lotion day. An Adrienne Rich poetry day. A graphic novel day. A book about books day.

A counting blessings day. A soupy noodles day. A red socks day. A staying in the present day. A call in sick and grateful for the headache day.

An internal day. A tree watching day. A piecing together the perspective puzzle day.

A quiet day.

(Note: This is a recycled post from a now deleted blog of mine)

Stuck Inside

Stuck Inside
60 days till exam.
61 days till freedom.
124 days till the verdict.

Surges of pleasure in this dark abyss:
1. The Complete Haiku of Basho.
2. Studying in bed.
3. Dairy Milk Silk.
4. Willie Nelson.
5. Sunrises. Early morning rain.
6. A Rubberband journal and a purple pen.
7.Catnaps. Coffee.Catnaps. Coffee. Catnaps.
8. Blue shards of sky through the leafy canopy outside my window.
9. Cuddles. Laughter. Family.
10. Legitimate excuse for a loner to avoid small talk. Exams.
11. Quiet by Susan Cain.
12. Birthday anticipation.

Weekend

This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done,
Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou
lovest best.
Night, sleep, and the stars.

-Walt Whitman

The magic hour when all the ideas are yours and the pillow is soft and the windows are open and the moon throws oblong shadows on your bed and the cicadas sing and the breeze softly brushes your feet.

I have been reading poems. Poems about love and desire, life and death, spring and autumn, hope and despair, books and travels, men and women, days and nights, time and eternity. Poems by Walt Whitman, E.E. Cummings, Pablo Neruda, Rabindranath Tagore, Emily Dickinson, Maya Angelou,John Keats and Sylvia Plath. Poems that exhilarate me, kindle flaming hopes, drown me in despair, bind me in a realm of fantasy, curl my toes, awaken myriad questions, isolate me, melt me into the unknown, swirl my soul and harbinger a good night’s rest.


I have also been reading a book that caused furrows in my mother’s forehead when I had unpacked it in front of her. It is Mario Vargas Llosa’s ‘The Bad Girl‘. This is the book I chose to linger the charm of ‘Aunt Julia and The Scriptwriter‘. A flip of forty pages and I’m thrown into Miraflores teenagers and Parisian bureaucrats,  bad girl who toys with the heart of a good boy, Peruvian guerrilla warfare and military coup. I vainly try to curb the erotomania for authors that seduce me with their words; this desire to devote my entire being to their genius and gaining a scandalously long list of potential lovers in the form of Hemingway, Pamuk, Nabokov, Chekhov, Saki, Jules Verne and now Mario Vargas Llosa.

I felt around in the dark for the switch that operates the need to stay connected and be within reach of a writing wall, 140 words or a beeping mailbox icon; then turned it off for the weekend. I read poems and the novel, I crossed off items in my ‘to study’ list, I took catnaps, I listened to Nat King Cole and even ‘The Kooks’, I watched a Woody Allen movie, and I got scared by a pigeon on my bathroom window. I heard the song ‘Tokari‘ by Papon and couldn’t stop the tapping foot and the heart bursting with a blazing love for Assam. I read the obituary of Armstrong and at night watched the moon that he walked on, and the space where a woman of Indian origin is still floating in, with gravity defying hair framing her face.

I basked in much needed solitude; it is so addictive, I think I will continue it till it gets on my nerves.