We sat at a table draped with a checkered pink and white tablecloth. They matched the tiles on the floor- checkered, but not pink and white. The ceiling fan above us creaked audibly, as though to proclaim it was indeed working, even if the Mumbai heat ensured it served no real purpose. The waiter half-threw, half-placed the menu at our table with a blatant exasperation that was quite usual in restaurants like these. No managers hovering around to ask if we liked the food, that wasn't a thing back then, and not that we'd know even if it were, because we couldn't afford going to such restaurants. We were broke 16 year olds. Panipuri and Vada pav were our guilty pleasures.
The clean wide Matunga streets outside were littered with dried leaves that had fallen down from trees that lined the roads. It was the transition season between winter and summer. We didn't call it autumn or fall, but it was somewhat that.
“Ek Schezwan fried rice aur do lemon soda” we placed our order “Spicy/medium spicy?” “Spicy” “Half/full?” “Full” Why is it that when we ordered food at a restaurant we mostly went for the chinese?
Two college forms stuck out of our bags, carefully rolled up, because important documents were not meant to be folded for some reason. These forms were basically why we were here. We were collecting forms from all prestigious colleges to try our luck everywhere and settle with whichever college accepted us. Two weeks later we'd be here again to check if the list with percentages in descending order had our names on it. This was before everything became online. Our scores would be paraded in notice boards for others to see if we had succeeded or failed. But my friend and I weren't thinking about that, we were wondering whether to have ice cream from the restaurant or from the store outside where it could possibly be cheaper. The waiter arrived with the same exasperated look. If I had to serve unauthentic chinese that the kitchen rolled out all day for a minimum wage, I'd be exasperated too.
There's one thing about chinese food though, no matter how many times you've had it, you would keep coming back to it, not so much because you liked it, but because you know chances of going wrong with chinese (food) were rare. Humans love a safety net, even if it's something as trivial as ordering food in a restaurant.
We split the bill. ₹97 + ₹40. So ₹70 per person. Cool. Food wasn't as expensive back then. Oh the joys of 2011. Walking towards the railway station, we went past roadside book stalls, the women selling jasmine garlands, the bustling Ram Ashraya. It was past 6 PM, meaning the train would be cramped with office crowd. It was amusing to note how office crowd decided what time would be the best to travel in local trains. We'd left home at 1:30, strategically planning that we'd have enough time to collect the forms and come back before the trains got packed. Alas, the last minute hunger pang, and the conveniently located restaurant two minutes away from Ruia college had betrayed us. Not that we minded. Boarding trains that didn't have breathing space was the norm for us. We'd mostly be separated once inside the train, so my friend and I said 'Chal’ to each other before boarding the train. 'Chal’ is an informal ‘bye’. A bye without the undertones of farewell.
We had no clue if we'd get into this college, we didn't care either, we were perfectly fine waiting two more weeks to find out. Those were simpler times, way before anxiety and overthinking came into the picture. We were unprepared for the what-nots that we'd be slammed with a few years down the line, but it didn't matter. We were content with our fried rice, our lemon sodas, and the ice cream bought from the departmental store. We were broke but we always had enough. And if we didn't, we could always choose between Vada Pav and Panipuri.
Do you see how social media rings of criticism these days? If only we hadn't waited until push came to shove. But hey, it's still not too late, amplify your voices. Speak, because they are afraid of us. Our voice can get too loud, louder than taalis and thaalis ☺️
Side note- I understand social distancing, I'm sure so do they. I'm a healthcare professional myself, so no I'm not vilifying the need of the hour. I'm just trying to look at the nuances of life. It's okay to look at some butterflies even when the world is burning. Please don't come at me
did i ever tell you that the clock runs backwards whenever you face south? from west to east, it turns. and you're always a second away from facing the right direction.
"to find the southern cross, first look for the two very bright stars nearby, alpha and beta centauri" (national geographic). but amidst the eighty seven other constellations, i still wonder when will space ever gratify our time.
the number of days you've been here would most likely be the number of sunsets you've encountered. not necessarily seen by the way, because what's over the rooftops and the hazy breeze covers a magnitude of unknown space, a scenery way beyond the depths of the undiscovered ocean life. and as humane as it is, we're too fond of facing our watches in turn of the day that just passed by.
yet, did you ever find answers as to what lies beyond that void? of the pitter pattering rain that echoes your mechanical keyboard and the mouse clicks, the galaxies inside this vast plane. no, not of lifeforms or alienation, or its unexplained scientific phenomenon, but of this infinite collection of stories, unfolded black matter and white stars, and all these invisible colors that remain too close or too far away from each other.
“the milky way has the right name for the wrong reasons,” jeffrey newman once said. "it really is milky white—or, more precisely, it’s the color of fine-grain, new spring snow in the early morning or late evening, about an hour away from dawn or sunset.” but they appear purplish, bluish, yellowish, pinkish in pictures, and too low in light to look as it is for the naked eye. perhaps that is why we stare at our shoes way longer, this visible soil and dirt that magnify our lives.
maybe gazing at this ground for more than half a minute straight doesn't ring a bell to people who spend most of their time looking up. "i have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night" (sarah williams). yet for those who keep their secrets foretold, they don't realize the depth of six feet before their toes grow old. . but despite nicholas sparks' "you are in two places at once," i don't think people are only a collection of who they are now and who they once were.
even the moon failed to speak for several days, and still those number of drafts cannot recognize the right words to say. not much for people who knew not that the sky stays silent most of the time but the thoughts linger anyway, above the clouds that hide the pastel palettes of pablo picasso or vincent van gogh's. yet just as how some antagonists vindicate themselves with all the traumas they've been through, will always hand you closer to the shooting star you once wished will fall right.
I will write this poem , for Maithali , who never wore her white salwar again because someone said , too brights never goes with black skin .
I will write this poem , for that one misplaced digit for that one wrong number dialled in my landline. That's how I and Mrs D'Silva became best friends , because she never got a call from her daughter .
I will write this poem, for the mothers of the boys , who taught them , to embrace rejection , wear pinks and bright reds. And to read the definition of "consent" because they raised people, with whom I feel safe .
So ,if you ever meet , Mrs D'Silva ,Maithali and the Mothers . Say ,that I write poems , for them , neither for likes nor for fame . ~Jagrita #poetry#pod
It's the time of the night when no words loiter within the walls of my room and the world has ended its noisy affair. This is the moment when the clock still runs with its determined pace and I hear all the ticks aimlessly. Even though the ceiling fan has assumed its highest speed, the sound of it is less than the sound of silence the night has brought.
And as if the silence has gathered a human form, it tries to converse with me. My lips are spared from any kind of work. It's my mind that has offered to speak. These two become the ultimate gossiping companions after a while. They talk at length and in detail. They breed on thoughts, and contemplate life in general.
Silence though meek from the outside is lively at the core and it shows my mind places that aren't a part of the mundane world. It slays the lies my mind picks up during the day and offer the truths instead. Its honesty is soothing and it helps me grow. It's like a nocturnal sun ray illuminating the shadows even.
The silence doesn't silence me. It makes me chatter. Inwardly I am sprouting like a seed filled with chat bubbles. The night's host has become my guest and a while later we sleep together, bearing the weight of each other which is at times daunting, but we are built for it. Together we roam in dreams. And before the sun rays settle on the curtains, I hear it slip away. Yet I hope for it to return again.
In the midst of a noise-coated crowd in the middle of the day, I await its return.