I’ve been told I make stories out of the most mundane things. Maybe it’s just me being a woman, but I somehow use too many words for too trivial a matter and make a whole narrative out of it. Off late however I’ve been too tied up with trying to complete a piece of fiction that suddenly flashed on my mind while doing an extremely boring (read dumb) Software Engineering class to actually find enough inspiration to write about all the things that have overwhelmed me in the last couple of days. And there have been quite a few, because maybe that’s what Sufi music does to me. Makes me more sensitive… intensifies my consciousness. I couldn’t find a common connect to all these snapshots (I call them snapshots because I could actually paint a picture from each of them) so these are just some random sentiments strewn over my plain perception.
Snapshot 1: Discovery and memory: My semi-dark room with just my laptop screen glowing and the low hum of the processor the only sound I can hear right then…. That time of the evening when I have just woken up from my afternoon siesta, and relishing the emptiness. For once my mind is too lazy to churn out thoughts. And very slowly awareness creeps in. I open my eyes and the first thing I notice is my laptop screen and that happy bubble announcing “Abida Parveen Raqs-e-bismil has finished downloading”. Blessed, blessed Tata Indicom Photon Plus, and blessed those six “seeds” in UTorrent, I muse. Even while lying down I just stretch out my hands to listen to the opening tunes of “Ishq mein Tere”. I almost weep out… The song takes me back to a humid flat in Delhi six years ago, with my extremely good cook of a brother crooning (or at least trying to) out these same tunes in the kitchen (dinner that day was toasted bread and bhejja fry…aah, you sinful memory!) while his speakers blare out the song from the bedroom. And years later this song has the same affect of me. The ability to make me stop doing everything…. My phone rings but I can hardly carry on a conversation. Leave me alone with my music, I feel like saying. And alone I am with the music for the whole of the evening.
Snapshot 2: Love and restlessness: The same room, except that it is the dead of the night, early morning rather, and I am wide awake, unable to close my eyes for more than a minute at a time, and unable to even read a book or watch a movie like I’d prefer to. Must have turned off and on the laptop like five times in a row. And after realizing that of all things I end up thinking of love, I decide it’s gone too far. I have to hold myself back by letting myself go. So this is what I come up with…
“What do you do when you are torn between wanting to sleep to end the night and longing to stay awake so that the night doesn’t end? What do you do when you are addicted to pain….that dull ache in your heart, from listening to music that touches every bit of your core and draws out the best and worst of your musings? What do you do when you know that all you need to do is turn off the damn I-pod, and just go off to sleep, and the moment you do that you feel empty and crave to turn it on again, and listen to just one more song, because it makes you feel after what seems like ages, and that is the only thing that makes you feel alive? Worst of all, what do you do when you find yourself thinking of love in the dead of the night and feel all the more restless because of it, instead of it bringing easy serenity to you?
You wake up, after having given up the fight to fall asleep….and you write down whatever comes to your mind without giving a damn to how coherent it sounds. Tonight, there’s so much going on in my Sufi-infused heart that I have to let it out. And I really don’t care if I don’t sound intelligent or funny or well-informed or opinionated tonight.
And no, I am not depressed…. Just a little high on Abida Parveen, and been feeling much more than I am thinking…. It is kind of like surrendering myself to all sorts of emotions, and sometimes I wonder why it is that more than contentment it is melancholy that gets to you. And then I wonder why I relate melancholy to love…. It’s not like I believe love brings only pain. I’ve myself had a love-hate relationship with love for ages now. But I can’t even deny that love is legendary for the agony it brings. And over the years, I have realized that love can ache in so many more ways than just one. Tonight, I am not mourning for lost love. I am celebrating love found.
And yet I am melancholy…. I know now what it is to lose myself in love, to forget all rhyme or reason… and to want someone with every fiber of your being. And being away is like being denied my first spring morning… my first monsoon rain….and my first winter chill. I now know what they mean when they say you destroy yourself in love….when you burn yourself in this pain. Love is a self-inflicted wound. “
By then it is five-thirty in the morning and I realize my eyes have had enough, and I go off to sleep, with the low hum this time of my own ears, from having denied sleep for the whole of the night.
Snapshot 3: Humdrum… and peace still: The very next afternoon I go out to the market, and with the weather being so pleasant I decide to walk. And as I walk amidst the chaos of the Bihu-shopping crowd, I realize I feel almost disconnected. Like I am above all these petty affairs… and all the faces, all the people, they all look the same to me. Lost, all of them somehow. And the color of the street turns sepia inside my head. Like I am somehow watching some video depicting a lost world. Then all of a sudden, while on my way back in the richshaw, I see a flash of eye-strikingly bright orange. Then, a rickety scooter and a newly “completed” family on it. The dad driving immensely carefully, and the mom covering her baby’s head with her dupatta. That’s the orange I had seen. The baby sleeping peacefully in his mom’s arms, shielded and unaware of all the chaos. And with each bump Dad would look behind, and check out the baby, and Mom would reassure him. Don’t know what it did to me, but I felt a warm feeling inside my stomach, like I was almost welling up. How can the mere sight of a family do this to me, I wonder.
I’m through for now with my snapshots….. And I think it’ll be a long time before I can get used to this high I feel when I listen to Abida Parveen. Someday, maybe someday, I will paint a whole portrait out of this. For now let them just be post-cards to be pinned on my wall. And make me smile.