Friday, December 19, 2008

Word-ly Unwise.

You listen to a song, you are furtively intoxicated - and it sticks to your ears, endlessly playing within, like a jammed cassette tape on a vengeance spree. You indulge into it further, and as it grows on you - you play it again and again day and night, make it a whistle and a shoutalong phrase (say for your peeing-time in the loo), become obsessed with all the subtleties and crescendos within its riffs and basses, but it still troubles you aplenty, exactly like your servile-obedient girl(boy)-friend wouldn't do.

That nasty little thing is called an Ear-Worm - a sort of phonological loop. But sometimes I also experience these unceremonious Word-worms - Words sticking onto my cerebral lobes like the conspicuous stains on glasses - words that change the momentary perspectives of the world around, and create some sort of tunnel vision for you. Imagine that word falling like snow all over the places around, wherever you try to steal a snap of things around. Imagine feeling like a slave to the mere idea steeped within that word, or it flowing in a stream both from your outward senses and from the conscience within. Imagine being hobbled with a daisy chain of a single-word-rings, as you stomp your feet out of the reclusiveness it has put you into.

One of them, quite a long earlier, used to be that unapologetic entity - 'Ultimate' or 'Ulti...' in short for the deprived ones. Well I strongly refrain from overusing any whimsically-worthy word (any i-know-what-you-didn't-mean-now-shut-up word, any word that appears as your birth-right whenever you utter it with extreme profligacy) - in any sort of parlance, be it's a business-talk, sex-talk, ruthlessly-friendly-talk, friendly tu-tu-mai-mai talk, classroom-talk, sex-talk, downmarket-bargain-talk, jealousy-talk, hopeless-talk, sex-talk, boast-talk, dream-talk, Tendulkar-praising-talk, Lalu-cribbing-talk, sex-talk, scowling-talk, pretending-talk, muted eye-to-eye-talk, self-talk, sex-talk, advice-giving-talk, swear-lying-talk...you just name it. But what could I've done. 'Ultimate' is (was) just so ultimate. You could chirp it in almost all your pranks you did in your college teen years, from your first drink, to your last crush, to your middle years of classroom renaissance (Note-I never had anyone of these). And I felt so helpless when I had to incriminate that sexy word into... say 14-year-banishment. Poor 'Ultimate' must've felt what Lord Laxman had undergone while imagining his predicament. Throwing 'Ultimate' out of my hollow colloquial, ultimately, was the least ultimate thing to do, I tell you.

And how can I slip away from shouting that silk-smooth sounding word - Slick. Oh my god this word seemed always asking for more. More like the newfound fashion in the street, the new-fangled choice of trying to sound impressive by talking something already impressive. Something that is less ordinary, less pale, less bookish. Inadvertently during the conversations it felt like a nicely conspired replacement for the ubiquitous 'Cool' or less-valued 'Awesome' (Cool as in "That's so cool..." followed by lots of exclamations !!!!...) - yes that drooling word from any of your next-door automatic-casual 20 year-olds, gasping in wonderment of his/her newfound obsession with the new high-end celebrity inner-wear making rounds in the market. The slickness in 'Slick' was like the stickiness of the spit. And then I never felt hesitant feeling it, using it. Using it effortlessly in things like "That's such a slick answer", "Wow, see all her shopping's so slick. Still useless", "I like those awfully-artless-noise-in-between-the-slick-beats in those Himesh Reshamiya's number..." For some linguistically-romanticized days slick used to rule everything - from my bathroom soap to the business ppts to my temporary-crushes-of-the-day's tight outfit. And I used to feel liberated in my expressionisms. And then it dawned on me that something's fishy. That why do I resemble the phrase "When all you've got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." so much. I sighed.

The latest of the culprit has been 'Cynical' - Like I see some genuinely natural smiles on faces and wonder: "See...How less cynical this person is...How can (s)he be this much so...!". Like I meet a stranger on the road and would just flinch from asking him/her: "Hi! can you help me become a little less cynical!". Like I feel like in heaven when my tiny (actionable) thoughts actualize a million times less cynical that I could imagine...and wonder it can't be me who did so. Like I talk to most of my friends - close and far - new and old - hip or practical or ideal - and wonder why the F*** they sound so cynical all the time. I get to hear a lot of 'Why's and 'For What?'s in the times. I remain curious about all the deceptive impossibilities infested in everyone's thought and try to question them. I can see the sapped down fervor in any of the passions one follows, watch it passing away like a careless sugarcane being churned out of all its juice, slowly. Sorry. I just hope they were a lot less so. I hope I could sponge up that complacent, (in)toxicating, and blighted drug of cynicism from within them all...And then say "Now try your wishes for yourself." And I know that nobody is actually lazy here in sensibilities. Laziness is just such a gainful illusion that it can even make something like...the First Kiss sound insipidly boring. Thou (and me) must confess.

** Well I wanted to talk about another such fixation - Disillusioned - but don't feel like it now. Don't want to see such a thing overpowering again.

** The larger (sole) purpose of this post was to remind you that everything around couldn't be captured in the
ultimates or the cynics or any other ideation that rules your line of thought. So remain sensitized about those parasitic terms you are fixed up with promiscuously. What r they by the way?? :)

** Image: HNTAC, HJI, BELCH, PM.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cry Thy Darling City

You doubt your writing sense could ever possibly unfold it. There's a bloody fog all around you, all over the place where you can reach or even where you can't, ever. You tend to venture your eyes out but there's absolutely nothing different to fancy. Not any newness in the malignant truth that has girded you stiff, choking you from within and out, like those childhood nightmares of lightening falling on your head as you would scrunch into your night-bed. All your life you've heard in vernacular about guns and gunshots and its distasteful silence just after being fired, but you still feel a lot stranger to it. And it fades and you try to bring back your cynic and sensibility but then you hear even more gunshots, bombs and blood. You again seek to mend those news as part of your life - no, sorry someone-else's life, forevermore - still that requires almost an obsessive extent of ignorance and helplessness. But yes don't worry you've become enough of a mundane marionette, hanging from nowhere, to shunt all your gnawing empathy's into the trash-cans of yesterdays. Otherwise, you won't be here - as this city bleeds - or in fact anywhere else.

But those yesterdays still scream with ruthless vividness, because you need some time to forget, you are human. After all. And no doubt you still involuntarily feel sticking to those minacaious moments of thenadays, those 3 days and nights of peril wielded by a handful of gun-laden twenty-something Satans, when you had wished that just everyone, every little being in this damn world could all look up together at the skies, at the sun, hands folded at heart, and ask the sun to gift in a new morning and unwind that f****** day back into nothingness.

In those moments of vulnerability, it dawned on you that everything, every thought that comes around you could be ominously holed-up into two formless partings - either that of the terrorists or of their absence. Surely no other choice you had. "Like an untamed child has been handed a real gun" - you listened an eyewitness had attributed them. And you wondered how their pensive indulgence - in pure nihilism - could ever become so mighty. The imposing irony - that they barged into the city from nothing less but almost through the Gateway of India seemed as manifested as the entrenched mistrust in humanity the terror has presented before you. And you saw a heritage glowing terror-ificly, a legacy smirched ferociously.

However, to become more mindless, you casually visited the roads and markets, and noticed the daily faces just as normal as it could ever be...and you wondered was it only you who's been deliberately made conscious by some unholy design. People in this city seem to dispense all their fears within homes and save every whit of their resilience for the outside. Anyways, you boarded the taxis and each driver had his own version to share..."I was in the Taj Area just 15 min before it all begun". Oh the Areas...you drive close to the station area and somewhere within yourself, you bleakly fear if some hiding gunmen would hurl with his AK-47 towards the milling crowd covering your taxi. Getting home early you made calls and enquired to everyone with the usual bonhomie, "Hi, how are you...", but you are often overwhelmed with the thoughts "Ok so? How the hell it really matters if (s)he is doing a little bad, when those hostages are...". And you started speaking with a drawl and pretending to listen to those everyones. Why can't you just lose yourself. You feel hollow, like a half-blown trumpet. But even that makes some noise; and you can't.

In between you tried to spend some lighter moments around but observed that you often end all your smiles and laughter half-way, as the glum and the senseless guilt would soon plunge you. You walked into the office, saw people working full-throttle - engaged in their spreadsheets and con-calls and rigor logic, subdued by deadlines - and you remained amused just damn how they could do that all when there are flames, commandos and explosions few miles away. You could infer they are so more practical, for they've so effortlessly mastered not to shift their unblinding focus away, come what may. And you felt so out-of-the-place, so less belonging there or anywhere, really. You lingered out with your mates and saw them roistering around, unfazed, saw them mocking at the whole setting, mocking at people who caused it and equally at those who haven't...but you hardly felt sick about their larks, and rather wondered at their (and maybe yours) juvenile innocence...you are overpowered.

And you looked away a week back when you and your nation were snuggling in a victorious spree, wiping England out in Cricket. And now you stood bedeviled what to do with Cricket, the wholesome idea of it...And quickly you felt it's perverse even to talk about anything cricket at the moment, let alone the discontinued series. And often the 'cricket' just seemed a stripped down ordinary common noun...like an ocean just bereaved of all its water. Many dimensions of life seemed to have blown away.

At least you were disposed to feel lucky that none of those perished were acquaintances of yours, but soon you learnt your room-mate's friend's friend's friend got a shot near Leopold and is no more...And that he was to be married in 10 days...And now you remained not sure whether to feel being same lucky or not. You felt like all your own worries and torments - yes the life-sum of them all - were so petite dust-like insignificant whiffs before what few most-sinless souls in those hotels are going through, within just a moment's worth of lifelessness. And you didn't feel like asking for help for your own troubles...they can wait, you predict. And you got applauds for things you've been struggling long, but you remained distant and unthankful to yourself.
And further soon you watched the specter taking away from this world a lot many children and brothers and wives...the tycoons and the corporate elites...the swish and the marginalized...the Rabbi and the...Faith. You could just wait for his 2-yr-old to grow up and ask his fate the right questions, he is too little now. You also listened about the champion who saved 150 lives, about the waiter and his immaculate service
...and countless more unnerving chronicles, ready to fade soon.

And what stays are the points for (often) pointless discussions, the constant hum of Fidayeens' gunshots, the new-fangled re-curses on the turgid politicians, the littered questions, the schoolyardy street-corner debates, the rants and bilges at tea-stalls, the New Normal...

But wait, you remain Sick.

* I struggled writing this at the time it was all happening. I struggled even now, wish I hadn't. Sorry if it appears too skewed.
* All Images: Boston.com. See the collection here and here. Browse in one go, please. They'll tell a story.