Monday, September 2, 2019

An intense love letter to Delhi

I was traveling in the metro the other day. Taking the violet line, in between Mandi House and Nehru Place. Traveling along the route that I have taken many times when I lived around that area few years ago. I would never take a seat to sit because I loved standing next to the door and looking outside of it. When the metro shifted its route above ground after Jangpura and towards Lajpat Nagar metro station, I would feel like I was emerging out into the crowded world from dark lonely caves. The moment metro compartment I would be standing in would see the light, I would imagine my skin beginning to glow. I would imagine that light running all around, dancing across strange faces and loud phones. The way the world passed below me, after the Greater Kailash metro station, made me feel like I was part of something big. Something much bigger than me or anyone. Recently while I was taking the same route, standing the way I always used to, I hated that it had become about you and not about the city. And very specifically you. I hated that I had somehow lost that excitement of feeling insignificant. That humble feeling that the world would keep moving on no matter how many of us live and die in it. I hated that Lajpat Nagar had become about you. It's funny how I write these posts seeking some kind of closure from mourning but it never ceases to amaze me how constant my state of mourning is. Not for people but for eventualities. For possibilities. For the future. For love. 

I don't know if I am writing this post for you or Delhi. And you are not even from Delhi! Yet you became the city for me. You don't imbibe that Delhi aesthetic (thank god!) despite your fuckboi haircut. You are not anything like those boys from Lajpat Nagar but your accent wants to be. I forgot at what point I started feeling you through Delhi and Delhi through you. So, I adopted a strategy to protect myself. I limited you to that single road and not the entirety that Delhi is. And I limited you to that single roof in Lajpat Nagar. The only problem with this strategy was that the lane and roof felt anything but limiting. That lane felt endless. That roof felt infinite. Like it was going to take over my life. Like the dirty night sky that we both were staring at while stealing glances at each other was filled with hope. You know, I try to be as abstract as I can be while thinking of you? You are not a person - but a brief intimacy. Your kiss is not a kiss - but a passing intense reflecting moment. Your smell is not just any smell - but a discussion point for polyamory.

Why am I doing this? Because lately, I have been getting tired of myself for always writing for men.  I feel ashamed that I keep returning back to mourning. So I try to separate the specificities of men and turn them into abstractions. Into nothingness. Because that way I feel like I am above it all. That I am not bothered by small things that won't matter in the long run. That I am not afraid of losing myself again and again in men like you. 

I was passing the Lajpat Nagar metro station by road the other night. After I had deleted your number because I was tired of hoping. And dreaming. And looking. And abstracting. I was looking at how anxious women and transwomen try selling sex (love?) just few steps away from Exit no. 1 metro gate and I thought maybe I should look at the city through your eyes. Not through hopelessness and despair but optimism. And I couldn't come up with anything. Maybe because I was too afraid of not being hopeless? I guess I felt like there could never be any direction in which I could escape with you. Like I would just be floating around. Like that infinite sky we kept looking at on your roof.

'A date in Lajpat Nagar'
Few days later when I was pouring that infinity and that roof into the painting, my art teacher casually asked me, "who are these two men? Are they good friends?"

I couldn't come up with anything. I had no answer.
Nothing specific
and nothing abstract

Friday, March 8, 2019

Few Heartless Words to Meaningless Days

I have been thinking a lot about how temporary ‘connections’ are. Just when you think something is building up, it disappears. An exciting conversation over coffee never spills beyond, the meaningful ‘hmms’ never cross over the four walls they were exchanged in, the side glances never really turn into long stares. For few weeks I decided to give up on wanting these connections. I thought I could manage living without hoping. Which really meant that I practiced looking down while walking when in fact it had taken me years to start looking up. In between my efforts of trying to look down, my eyes stumbled upon you. I knew your face before I was meant to see it in real life. I had discussed your face with a friend. Till then I had imagined that face with a little irritation. I didn’t really bother stalking that face because I didn’t think it was going to matter much in my life. Trying to contain my general disappointment, I indulged in your face when I first met you. Thinking that this forced connection is only meant for three days and that I shouldn’t ruin it for myself and for people around me. But slowly I kinda stepped away from your face and actually started listening to what was coming out of it. And hey! I didn’t hate it? I was actually…..fine with it…. After exchanging few meaningless phrases, I realized that I was liking hanging around your face. And as your eyes moved from one line to the next in the world of Anthony Doerr, and as the winds continued to collapse against the plane we were sitting in, and as the white uncle sitting next to us dug deep into his pistachios, I think I kept getting lost deeper and deeper into that voice. Maybe I just imagined that you had a certain depth to yourself? Maybe I wished that you did. Or maybe you actually do?

And in that wishing, un-wishing and non-wishing I realized what was happening. Do you ever have those moments in your life where you are very familiar with the kind of silly patterns you keep falling into? And when you do make those same mistakes over and over again, you witness it and see it happening (or rather see yourself make it happen) and think – oh fuck here I go again. And well, fuck, I did go there again. I started thinking about you ‘like that’. No silly, I am not talking about imagining fucking you. I am talking about actually wanting to know you. I am talking about wanting to ‘connect’ with you. One thing I love about myself and equally hate myself for it is that I am too observant of how people act around me – in relation to me. I start reading too much into gestures, I start looking for meanings when in fact many interactions are completely meaningless and I start looking for ‘signs’ when there is an empty void. Why am I like this? Why do I keep looking for eyes which won’t look back? Trust me, the Delhi in you almost forced me to not look….but the Punjab in you kept calling back. Isn’t it strange that we sometimes are willing to keep our entire lives on hold just to make few nights memorable? Isn’t it thrilling that we allow ourselves to fall in love over and over again because we pretend that we want to be heart broken?

I spent three long, slow days with you. I look back at those three days and actually don’t want anything more out of them. I am surprisingly okay with that first night ending abruptly because I was too drunk to be brave in front of you. I don’t think too much about our second night when I thought ‘surely he knows something is up!’ I don’t dwell over the fact that me switching off the lights when everyone else had dozed off was a ‘signal’ you should have picked up (or maybe you did….and that’s why you left?). I don't think too much about why you chose to not tell me yourself that someone confused us to be a couple when we were dancing together on drunken streets. I don't label our interactions as 'you enjoying attention from a gay guy' or 'he's just being polite' as I usually would. I don't feel sad thinking whether you noticed me deliberately withdrawing from you the last day. I don't read into the random questions you asked me over those three days. Even though I remember every minute with you....I don't think of you that often. Haha. I am serious. I don't! I don't randomly text my friend that I miss you. I haven't discussed you with my friends. I haven't kept any nicknames for you, like 'that Miami boy', or 'my future potential something'. 

Miami, February 2019
You know I was reading this novel the other day…about this silly dreamer in a chaotic crazy city who kept running into women who drew no distinction between money and life. And among many chaotic moments, in an ordinary moment, in a boring elevator ride, one woman who this dreamer had never met before, uninterestingly just asks him, ‘do you love me?’ Reading this interaction I recalled our last ordinary interaction. It wasn’t spectacular. We were just one of the many strangers seeing each other off. Ordinary people, just doing ordinary things. You seemed to be in a sad mood. Not about me leaving (of course) but about those three days ending. And among the sappy and sad Bollywood songs, we said goodbye, and hugged and looking into my eyes you said, ‘kitna kathor dil hai iska’ (how cold hearted is he!) because I wasn’t as sad and sappy as those Bollywood songs. 

And I wish I should have just said,
'do you love me?' ‘would you ever love me?’