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Blue is the Warmest Colour

Floating-Jordan-Dead-Sea

In school, it was made compulsory, where we had two classes a week. I was deeply conscious of my jiggles and wiggles, and I dreaded donning the suit. It didn’t necessarily have to be Monday for me to feel the blues.

But try as I might, the water kept coming back for me. I’m quite absent-minded, and had this uncanny knack for landing plop! In the middle of puddles even though I had so carefully avoided them in my head. The water bridged this dissonance between my imagination and the harsh reality. But sometimes, it came to my rescue. I was socially awkward for the longest time, and when I wanted to cancel a date, all I did was take one look at the sky above, and imagine that the clouds looked like stones being angrily rubbed against each other to start a fire. Only of course, it wouldn’t be fire, but torrential rain. That my predictions almost never came true is another matter. I had succeeded in wriggling out of my commitment.

I made up my mind to live only in sunny places when I grew up. I remember when I was little, I spread out the moth-eaten map that belonged to my grandfather in front of me, and traced my fingers along the places where the sun never set. Thailand. India. Libya. Perhaps Spain. In those moments, I imagined myself a traveller walking across hot sands and sipping cool drinks, and a warm flood washed over me.

But before I could grow up and chase the sun, I still had school to complete. In the 12th grade, my class teacher announced that she would be taking us on a surprise trip somewhere. I groaned. I was always trepid about surprises. “Just make sure you carry lots of sunscreen.” She had said, and my soul soared. We were going to a sunny place! For the first time in my entire life, I was excited about a school trip.

But when we reached, I felt betrayed. The sunscreen was to guard us against the sun…at the beach! I was so upset; it looked like the sun in my face had already set. I sat on the sand, under the shade of an umbrella and looked mutinously at all my classmates who were playing Frisbee, or swimming. No amount of coaxing would make me so much as dip my feet in the water. I sighed and took out my pen and paper, to vent out my angst in pretentious poetry.

Just when I thought the day couldn’t get any worse, the wind swooped down on me like a bird and pecked the papers out of my hand. I let out a small shriek and chased after it, unmindful of where my feet where headed. The ocean wrapped around me like a net, and arrested my fall. For a while I choked and gasped, arms flailing, but eventually I began to bob like an apple in a bucket. In fact, my calm was reinstated in a bit, and the water was surprisingly not so cold. My fear melted into the warm giant blue puddle.

My papers were lost, but the poetry remained. If the world was my oyster, then I was glad I was a creature of the sea.

Daily Prompts

Don’t Need a Seatbelt

bus.jpg

This is what you say when you see me: That my smile tells you stories of a lifetime, stories you would read and reread everyday. That words don’t pour out of me just when I speak, but when I try to smooth my hair that inevitably stands up in oblique lines like the Japanese alphabet, or when I grow silent in those moments I’m creating poetry in my head. 

You fell in love with me, quite ‘literary’.

This is what I tell you every time I see you: My organs shift like gears inside me. My heart revs up, and my lungs become warm enough to start a fire within me. My joy resounds like a foghorn and my feet turn to wheels. I never have to worry about the traffic light turning red, because our love is always green.

I always preferred to go places on foot. But I fell in love with a bus driver who lets me ride without a ticket because I’m his favourite passenger.

Via Daily Prompt: Passenger

Daily Prompts

Noodle Fangs

You promised me you wouldn’t that day.

We went to your favourite Asian restaurant. You had worn an orange dress with a collar studded with rhinestones. You’d ordered pho, and I still remember how a noodle dribbled down your chin, making you look like you had a squiggly fang. You were animated and your hands…they were always moving, waving, creating imaginary shapes in the air. I would know later that those shapes meant something.

We came home late. While I quickly flipped through the TV channels, you called it a day. Or so I thought.

Sometime after I came in, you were fast asleep, your cheeks still tinged with the wine we had drunk. As I was about to switch off the bedside lamp, I noticed your hands-there were traces of charcoal. I sighed. “You’re incorrigible,” I thought to myself as I set out to find your latest sketch.

It didn’t take me long to find it, it was propped proudly on my study table.

You had drawn a picture of us: you, drinking pho and me, laughing at your noodle fang.

I guess some promises are meant to be broken. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

Via Daily Prompt: Trace

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Lava

lava

They are afraid of you, and they will never admit it.

Sometimes you’re ablaze, because the sun has temporarily set to rise again in your eyes. Other times they’ll shake their heads in perplexity, you will blink and all that will be left is a dull, incandescent glow.

Lovers pour their hearts out to you in pretentious poetry and plastic roses. Even the chocolates they feed you taste like margarine, not butter. Their kisses feel sticky, like cello tape-how else will they shut you up? You see, people dismiss things they don’t understand.

Before you sleep, they will remind you that pillows are for smothering your thoughts, your ideas, dreams…and feelings, what are they?

But you won’t die a soft, feathery death.

You’re tired of only standing by the edge of the pool. You muster up enough courage to do a cannonball. You’re tired of skirting the edges, so you hit bullseye. You’re done with being a molehill because really, you’re a mountain, a volcano, poised to erupt. And when you do, the doubts will be set adrift amidst the lava, and you will feel content because you finally woke up and decided to wear your passion on your sleeve. You will remind yourself daily that no matter what, you will never roll up those sleeves.

But people will still complain.

That you always set things on fire.

 

Via Daily Prompt: Adrift

Daily Prompts

Muse

chaos

You’ve finally given up on the muse who promised to come, but never did.

So you take a walk to clear your head, ambling along like an untethered cow. The sun is dipping, cloaking everything in partial shadows. But you’re caught in between, half-illumined.

You see children leap over potholes and garbage heaps-and hope that they don’t vault into adulthood too soon. You pass a bevy of tittering women, and stop to stare at their faces. Caked with an illusory whiteness, you wonder whether they realise that their kohl-lined eyes betray ancient sorrows. You want to tell them that youth is a farce of time.

Several hands string flowers together but you cannot discern their perfume-the atmosphere is wreathed with sweat, tears, staccato outbursts of laughs and the pungency of unfulfilled desires. You stand there, realising that there are no stand-alones, only amalgamations.

As you keep walking you are jostled, assaulted by sights, smells and sounds, and you understand that this is how it has been, will always be. The world is a chaos of colours, a web of dreams and a swamp of uncertainties. You, the artist has seen and felt much-but not overwhelmingly so. Inspiration sometimes traces its sensuous fingers up your spine or rakes its nails down it, but you will endure both sensations to reproduce the curious things that have touched you.

You cannot be a child playing hopscotch, hopping from one box to the next, carefully avoiding the lines. You must be brave enough to step on them-they are the artistic boundaries that cannot be explored by anyone but you.

You hold your thoughts close, but your ideas closer.

And that is when you know that all along, you were your own muse.

 

Inspired by Ben Okri’s novel ‘Dangerous Love’ previously titled ‘The Landscapes Within’.

Via Daily Prompt: Farce

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Before you send this to voicemail…

tele

Hello.

Everyday, I hear a million conversations. Many of them are unspoken.

I consider it a painful privilege.

I often dwell on all the calls that never went through-calls that were disconnected even before I began to ring. Calls intended to convey emotions that somehow got lost in transit.

Some people pick me up and don’t say anything. They vacillate between sighs and silence. Between sigh-lence. They finger my little black cable listlessly. I curl around their fingers imperceptibly, to offer solace in the best way I can.

Then there are those who pick me up to rehearse what they want to say. Deaths. Breakups. Unwanted pregnancies. But they never get around to making the call. They leave me behind with the weight of their untold secrets.

But I’ve enjoyed a fair share of happy conversations. Promotions. Marriages. Birthdays. Listening to their squeals of pleasure, I produce a burst of static, unable to control my own excitement. But I take care not to cause too much disturbance and ruin the moment. There is only so much we can do as inanimate objects to partake in moments of joy.

I remember no names. Only sentiments.

If you were to take me apart one day, you’d see a vault of thoughts. Perhaps you’d find some of yours too.

And so I sit, for time to come, replaying conversations that don’t belong to me.

You always speak into me, through me. But someday, will you pick me up to just…speak to me?