Dear Motorcyclist Ji

Dear Motorcyclist ji,

I assure you, we respect you.

You don’t let the road rules affect you.

It’s just an observation,

But you happen to be the  bane of vehicular creation.

We find,

That you are out to blow your own mind,

Challenging yourself in the traffic with your speed,

But I’m telling you there is no need,

To skip red lights or head the opposite direction,

It’s just a minute objection.

And since we’re here, we might as well talk,

About, the footpath, the sidewalk.

It’s meant to walk on, Motorcyclist ji,

It’s in the bloody name, if you can’t see.

So I’m asking you, no ifs, no buts,

To not use this sidewalk as a shortcut,

To advance by two milimeters,

You sly, goddamned two seater.

And then you have the audacity to sound horn ok,

Behind someone using the footpath the right way.

And to mention, in traffic, when there is no movement,

Two inches forward is not an improvement.

You don’t have to stuff yourself in nonexistent spaces,

Have you ever looked around at your surrounding irate faces?

To be honest, you make the jam worse,

But what can we do, but show fingers and curse?

And since we’ve not left this realm yet,

Would it kill you to wear your helmet?

It would kill you if you did without,

As you weave through the traffic, in and out.

And if, by chance, you get hit,

Tell me, whose fault is it?

Unfortunately, when things heat up,

It’s the rule-following car driver who gets beat up.

But to the motorcyclists who don’t cause,

Such a disruption and let me cross.

To the motorcyclists who follow the rules,

And are more concerned about their safety than acting cool.

I thank you for existing and will say you are the real,

Kings on the Roads, Gentlemen (or women) on the wheels.

So I ask you to teach,

Your sons and daughters not to breach,

The rules, show them the proper way to drive –

To leave the roads a little less chaotic, to leave themselves a little more alive,

But till then, we’ll have to continue with this –

Where you act like an idiot, and leave others so pissed.

I will shout ‘Abbe yaar

When you try to inch in front of a car,

And you will reply, ‘WHAT’S YOUR PROBLEM? I’M NOT IN THE WAY!

DON’T ACT SO STUPID, YOU -‘

And that’s when I walk away.

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R&B: Rhyme and Blues

(Count the syllables in each line)

The pi-a-no keeps the beat at first,

Four keys are played ev-er-y four beats.

May-be go-ing in patt-erns of three.

Chords and then they re-peat.

 

I catch on to the beat soon en-ough,

And imag-ine the sin-ger count-ing,

Them in her head as well, as she sings,

The pace then starts mount-ing.

 

The mel-o-dy is ee-rie and the

Ly-rics om-in-ous, but it is all,

Ov-er-pow-ered by the se-xy beats,

Stea-dy as the tune falls.

 

A 1-2-3

A 1-1 – 2 – 3

A 1-2-3

A 1-1 – 2- 3

 

I in-stinct-ive-ly res-pond to this,

What I hear, my bo-dy wants to show,

With snap-ping fing-ers, and bob-bing head,

Joined by my tap-ping toes.

 

I love how bet-ween the main beats, there

Are de-vi-at-ions, sud-den bursts of,

Speed that fit per-fect-ly, I just can

Not seem to get eno-ugh.

 

The in-stru-ments all com-ple-ment each

Oth-er, with or in bet-ween to form

A whole musi-cal piece, sub-tle-ties

With which a song is born.

 

A 1-2-3

A 1-1 2- 3

A 1-2-3

A 1-1 2- 3

 

The ap-peal the beats hold ov-er me

Is not some-thing just words can con-vey

I let the beat be-come me as I

Get up and dance away.

 

 

Endgame

It’s not going to be the eyes whose gaze sends shivers down your spine and tingles up your palms,

It’s going to be the eyes that shoot you messages in a language only you understand.

It’s not going to be the low chuckle that you replay in your mind, perfect teeth flashing, a hint of a dimple in his soft skin,

It’s going to be the loud laugh, and the screechy one, that bounce off painted walls, and respond to each other over the phone lines on a sunny Sunday afternoon, when there’s other work to be done.

It’s not going to be the hundreds of potential responses you think of and analyse to the death, before settling on a “nothing much, how about u?’

It’s going to be the ‘shut up’s and ‘piss off’s and ‘what’s your problem?’s  and the worst insults that roll off your tongue with ease, that won’t earn you anything more than a half hearted punch on the shoulder, or at worst, a half-day’s worth of silent treatment.

It’s not going to be the hand you’ve imagined holding so many times, but are so scared to do so, because aren’t your palms too sweaty?

It’s going to be the shoulder around you when you can barely breathe for crying, it’s the hand that slaps you tight across the face and pulls your hair and stretches your lips into a smile that makes you look like a buffoon.

It’s not going to be formal dress events, where he asks you out, and you are so conscious of every movement he’s making as you and he both stumble across the dance floor,

It’s going to be the little jigs you have right before going home, you and her, shaking your butt, and raising your hands, and kicking your legs.

It’s not going to be the name you stare at for thirty minutes before sending a ‘hi’,

It’s going to be the first person you call after each day of college, so you can bitch to her about people she doesn’t even know, people who she’ll insult anyways.

It’s not going to be the comments that people pass on the photo of the two of you –

‘So cute!’/’What an adorable couple!’/’OTP’, comments you enjoy.

It’s going to be the comments people pass when you laugh too loudly on the road or start hitting each other in class, comments you don’t listen to.

It’s not going to be the ‘Get Well Soon :)’ that makes your heart balloon with happiness,

It’s going to be the jokes you hear all day in the bus that make sure you feel better.

It’s not going to be the jealousy of seeing her with someone you want as yours,

It’s going to be the jealousy of seeing her with someone you know is yours.

It’s not going to be the boy who broke your heart, had your attention (how many of those are there?), flirted with you, or even (just) the boy who makes you feel at home,

It’s going to be them – the people who you consider a part of yourself,  the people who bend over backwards to make you smile, it’s going to be your friends

They’re going to be your happily ever after.

They’re going to be your endgame.

Linear Expressions

 

 

My father thought in mathematics.

The first thing he saw anywhere were shapes. Hexagons, decagons, trapeziums, strange combinations of the same. He saw parallel lines for busy roads and arcs for pretty rainbows. Colours were ratios of other colours. Sounds were different frequencies. Emotions were rankings of how you felt compared to yesterday, or in the same situation on another day.

My father thought in mathematics.

He respected physics, enjoyed the other sciences, and understood economics. Even the exactness of grammar brightened him up. There was only one field he didn’t understand.

“Your mother was an artist,” He told me on the 3rd of December, her birthday and the day she left us.

My mother.

She was one of those bizarre cases in math, like 0/0; you expect it to give you 1, but it doesn’t. It’s undefined. It’s where math goes haywire.

She made me go haywire.

***

Just because my father didn’t understand expression or emotion, doesn’t mean he didn’t try. He did his best to mentally catalogue people’s reactions to words and actions. He tried hard to feel their pain.

“Everyone works in a certain way, and stereotypes, no matter how criticised they are, are correct at a broad level. They’re like algorithms for people. But there’s one thing with people, their algorithms can change. And you just can’t understand why.”

There was one more thing he used to say about people, “If a situation is a linear equation, then one x should give you a particular y, right? But with people, the same x can give different y values. We all react differently, and that’s not something we can quantify.”

Relationships could not be given equations – it was a fact that both frustrated and fascinated my father. So on the eleventh Valentine’s Day of my life I sat down to make him a card.

It was a simple graph, gray pencil marks against light green boxes, with the graph shooting up, parallel to y axis at x=1.

My love for you is equal to the slope of the graph at x=1.

“Infinity,” my father whispered when he saw it.

That tattered old paper is still up on the wall in my dad’s bedroom.

***

I used to plot how my day went on a long piece of paper stuck on my wall. It was yet another graph, I ranked my day from 1- 10 (1 is the least and 10 is the most) every day, and my father would come and see it. He showed me that apart from some bad days of fever and fights, and some good days of laughter and friends, my moods stayed relatively the same. As I got older, the graph looped up and down, up and down, like a sine wave.

Sometimes when I tried to explain why I felt especially sad or happy, I would find myself talking to a blank face.

I felt crazy for feeling so up-and-down, “I feel like I’m being irrational.”

And that’s when he sat me down and explained to me the concept of irrational numbers.

“See? Even numbers can be crazy.”

***

I don’t remember when I started reading.

I do remember there was a book I had to choose for a book review, and the only books at home were big, fat, and sciencey.

My father was not just a mathematician, he was a problem solver.

So he took me over to the library and introduced me to the librarian, Cara. She helped me select my book for that project.

But I came back after that, again and again.

For the first time, words were not a medium to express mathematics, they were a world unto themselves. Constructed right, words built sentences that built stories.

When my father pointed to a tree, wanting me to notice its perfectly cylindrical trunk, I saw metaphors, for growing up, for home, for love.

One of the assignments that we got from school was to write a story. It automatically triggered my interest and I found myself telling my father the idea. He smiled at me for long enough and turned back.

My teacher called me aside the next week to tell me she wanted to submit it for a competition. I won the second prize.

My father was elated at the news, and I think, disappointed in himself for not taking it seriously enough, so he made it a point to read the story, which I rewrote for him.

I saw him sitting on a chair deep in thought when I came back home from school, holding the paper in front of him.

“Did you like it, Dad?” I asked, happy that he had kept up to his promise.

“Yes.”

But the lack of a sparkle in his eye told me a different story.

He hadn’t understood it.

Maybe that was when I started dreaming more about my mother.

***

I found her.

Not on-purpose found her.

I found her by accident.

I was staring at myself in the mirror in a mall, eagerly trying on a new dress when I saw two eyes looking right at me. Those eyes could have been mine.

They belonged to a short lady with brown hair (exactly my shade of brown!) and a red bag.

She realized before I did.

I turned around to see her approaching me.

“Are you who I think you are?” She asked breathlessly, “Are you .. are you Mia?”

I nodded.

“Mia Jones?”

I nodded again.

“Like Professor Derek Jones’s daughter? Are you – ”

I ran and hugged her.

She smelled like home.

***

I think, despite everything, my father wanted me to meet her.

I told him right after reaching home – Mom had to go out, but she promised to come back for me – and at first he was shocked, and displeased.

But after she called the following morning and a whispering-match followed (I was listening at the door), I was told that she would come by on Friday.

And so she did, at dot four o’ clock.

I wanted to ask her where she had been all those years, why she had left. Instead, when she asked me how my day was, I giggled nervously.

I showed her around the house, and my room, as my father stood there at the side, stiff, like a bodyguard.

But she finally managed to get me alone when she suggested we go for ice cream, and that’s when she told me.

“I shouldn’t have left. I never should have left. I’m so sorry.”

***

I expected things to ramp up slowly, a steady increase in her time with us, in her time with me.

Instead, within two weeks, she wanted to take me to New York for another fortnight.

My father would not allow it.

I didn’t eat that day, didn’t sleep. I skipped school.

“How long will you do this?” He asked, when he found out.

“Until I get to go to New York.”

“Keep trying, then.”

I did.

My father, furious, and sickened with worry, finally relented.

As I said bye to him at the airport, I ignored the twinge of guilt in my stomach.

***

My mother was determined to teach me art.

“Your father is too exact, he’s brought you up all wrong,” she decided, and I said nothing in reply.

She showed me the art in the city.

The graffiti, the Subway musicians, even the hobos.

“That one,” She said, pointing at a pink haired teenager, “is scared of going home. She believes in aliens. She wants to get another piercing.”

I tilted my head, trying to assess the same girl until she caught us staring at her and hissed in response.

My heart thudding, I looked up to Mom, “How do you know?”

“That’s the thing. Sometimes, you just know. There is nothing to support you, it’s just a feeling, and it’s correct.”

“Or you’ve unconsciously observed it, and you turn out to be right.”

“You’re your father’s daughter, aren’t you?” The smile on Mom’s face wasn’t as bright anymore.

***

I responded instinctively to the more symmetric paintings in the museum. They just looked more beautiful to me.

“They’re nice, but they aren’t passionate,” Mom concluded and dragged me to an art store before dragging me back to the hotel.

“Now, paint how you felt when you met me. Use your fingers, and use your heart. Only colours, no designs.”

Was I just supposed to throw paint around?

“Exactly,” my mother nodded.

So I tried. What did I feel?

Confused. Gray.

Happy. Yellow.

Melancholic. Light Blue.

Nostalgic. Dark Brown.

But as I saw the swirling patterns on the canvas all I found myself thinking was, what a waste of good paints.

Mom, on the other hand, found it lovely.

***

She discovered that I could write.

“I knew there was an artist in you!” She said before cracking open my journal, as I stood nervously to the side.

But as she read, her smile slowly fell away until it was a grim face before a bright pink book.

“There are too many math and science references,” was her only comment.

***

That was one week into the trip.

I knew then that something had changed. My mother was looking at me as though I were a bad painting.

As an artist, she wanted perfection (like my father) – and I wasn’t her ideal child.

I knew that when she dropped me back home, she wasn’t coming back. Not any time soon, anyhow.

Before she let me go, she sighed and enveloped me in a hug.

“I’m sorry, I just thought I could teach you the difference between words and numbers.”

“Well,” I said, “You did teach me the difference between your words and Dad’s actions.”

And then I went home.

***

My father thought in mathematics.

The first thing he saw anywhere were shapes. Hexagons, decagons, trapeziums, strange combinations of the same. He saw parallel lines for busy roads and arcs for pretty rainbows. Colours were ratios of other colours. Sounds were different frequencies. Emotions were rankings of how you felt compared to yesterday, or in the same situation on another day.

I thought in metaphors.

Comparisons with science and math and just a bit of emotion.

I showed him who I thought we were when I took two shards of a broken glass.

“These pieces are us. We don’t fit together perfectly, not in all areas. Humans aren’t perfect 3D figures. We’re all broken, all chipped, but sometimes, some of our cracks and crevices fit together just right. And that’s what matters.”