- Feel a tad bit jealous of the significant other
- Loathe relationships more than you ever did
- Congratulate him/her
- Have a ‘normal’ meet up
- Complete a foreign language course
- Try finding a new fuck buddy
- Learn how to cook
- Clean your room
- Have dreams about them leaving their significant other to be your fuck buddy again
- Laugh at the dream
- Feel guilty about having such a dream
- Give them the remaining condoms so they can ‘put it to better use’
- Think about having a serious relationship
- Laugh at the thought
- Cry because you’re so lonely
- Watch porn
- Take a long, hot shower
- Binge on comfort food
- Meet your ex-fuck buddy’s significant other
- Hate them
- Tell them you ship them
- Tell them they look cute together
- Come to terms with the lack of a fuck buddy in your life
- Work out
- Make canvas paintings
- Sell canvas paintings
when two hands touch,
they tend to hold on to each other
and forget to let go.
when two bodies are close enough,
they find their way to each other
and make contact in places that weren’t intended.
when a tickle is too funny,
the lips hug each other
in an attempt to hush the laughter.
it doesn’t matter what you are wearing
because the body beneath is still the same.
when the tongue fails you
and all that remains are irregular heartbeats,
the body speaks
in a language yet unknown to man,
and invites the other into itself.
we like to read fat books and say big words
and tell the others we can read a language that has no script;
that we can, by merely looking at the twitch of an eyebrow,
tell if a person will commit crime after they turn twenty.
we like to pretend
that we understand the language of another body.
But we leave our knowledge
on bookshelves and on coffee tables,
when we sit in circle of friends and laugh,
thinking to ourselves,
‘why is it that one of them feels like something more?’
it’s just your bodies talking.
we should let the words take a break,
let the bodies speak,
and the let the tongues slip – literally.
You are the song I hum to myself when I am doing the house chores.
You are the tune stuck in my head when I can’t find the words.
You are the lyric that runs through my mind all day.
You are the song I remember.
You are the wind that runs through my hair on a road trip.
You are the salt in my sweat after a day at the beach.
You are the memory I will narrate to my child.
You are the moment I remember.
You are the poem I never fully understood but liked anyway.
You are the book I would read all over again.
You are the words I mumble in my sleep.
You are all that I remember.
After my amnesia
As someone who uses the public transport; and by public transport I mean the local bus; to commute on a daily basis from home to college and back, I travel the same route so often that I can look at the crack in a wall and tell you that we are about halfway there without having to look up and check which stop we were actually at. A normal person, who travels for almost four hours every single day, would read a book through the journey or listen to music to pass the time; but not me.
I spend a lot of time observing and familiarizing myself with so many people without their knowledge. I make note of the ways in which people hold the bars while standing in the bus, and who does or does not give up their seats for pregnant women or old people. I make note of how friendly the conductors are on a scale of Matilda Wormwood to Miss Trunchbull; and with what ease they make their way around the bus. All of this, of course, when I’m not dozing-off in a seat by the window.
Often, I get to see the same face twice or thrice in a row; or same bodies too. You see, a lot of Muslim girls and women come in wearing veils. But I know when the same woman has graced me with her presence when I take a look at the handbag or the phone-case.
More than often, I do not get to see the same face for a long time; until it is forgotten and comes across as a new face once more, perhaps.
But one face, a character really, that I have come across thrice so far, is unforgettable. The woman fancies herself a nurse, or so I believe for she dresses like one – a white doctor’s coat over a white uniform that could belong to anyone from the janitor of a top-notch corporate office to a nurse of a really bad government hospital. This woman is mad.
She is already seated by the time I get on the bus, and busy in her own antics. She sits with her back to the driver, her elbow on the windowsill, looking out of the window, cursing at her imaginary enemies. She does this every time. She starts out slow, muttering under her breath and hollering at nobody over the phone. Unless you observe really closely, you’ll assume she’s just upset regarding some problems at home or work; you won’t notice that she’s holding the mobile the wrong way, buttons and the locked screen telling you that there’s no one on the line – that there is no line.
Next, she angrily stuffs the phone back in her bag and screams for a bit at the bikers and the autowalas right under her window as the confused drivers pass by silently, guilty of a crime they weren’t sure they committed.
By the time we reach her destination, she’s in full swing. Wildly gesturing at and cursing a number of people who had apparently been floating around outside her window all along. She almost has a round-table conference and gets pissed like a mafia in a crazy Japanese movie. Yes, a Japanese movie – without subtitles – because you don’t understand half the things she’s saying. She does everything she does in the local language: Kannada; and if you’re not good at it, if your vocabulary is limited to the swear words you understand in her mono-dialogue, good luck trying to figure out whether or not she’s going to smash your head into the window glass!
But trust me when I say this: the woman is good at heart. She works in the Association for People with Disabilities, and doesn’t harm a soul on the bus – ever. I know because I see her abruptly end her swearing, gather her things, and get off at the right stop every time, leaving the person sharing her seat trembling and in fear of her life. The woman is mad; a mad nurse. But, she’s good a one.
There is a crazy Russian woman living on the ground floor of my apartment. The first time I saw her, she was gardening on her balcony. I looked at her and smiled. She smiled back. That’s it. After that I didn’t see her for a long time. She was a pale, thin woman with light chocolate hair. She often wore a grey sweater and blue denim jeans. I believed she was somewhere in her late twenties.
The next time I saw her, she was five months pregnant. I went ahead and congratulated her. She groaned and thus began her monologue. As I stood and nodded, she told me about the tragedy of her life. ‘Don’t ever marry love, I tell you. Believe me, it is a mistake!’
‘I should’ve listen to my mama…’
‘I don’t like my mama. She always beat me. I love my father. He is dead. I really love him so much!’
‘You see this?’ she pats her belly ‘I don’t want this baby. I don’t want babies at all. I hate babies. So much work! I have two dogs. They are my only babies. I don’t want this baby. You know why I keep him? The doctor tell me he is a boy, born on my father’s birthday. I only keep him for my father, you understand me? This is my father coming back to me! I will call him my father’s name: Victor.’
‘In India they are not allowing to check my baby gender! I went back to my country to check. He is my father, a boy. Do you know, people in India killing babies because they are girls? I don’t think you know… But I tell you, people in this country are evil!’
She goes on and on, unmindful of the fact that I belong to ‘this country’, and that being a 16 year old, studying psychology and sociology, I know about the country what an average citizen does not.
‘You are a nice girl, but. I love you. I really love you, you understand me? Don’t marry for love, I tell you. It is a mistake! A big mistake!’
I didn’t know what to make of the monologue. I shrugged it off thinking the lady had issues. I had often seen her husband sneak out of the house at night and drink like a motherfucker before he went back inside. I felt bad for the woman.
The next time I met her, she was right outside her house thrashing her son who was barely a few months old. I went up to her and asked her what the matter was. ‘Oh thank god you are here! I cannot take care of this boy, you take him!’ I tried rationalizing, but to no avail.
‘Look at how dirty he is! Do you understand me? Look! He is playing with all Indian children in the mud in the park and everything has sand in it. You see his clothes, all mud! The face, hands. It goes inside the mouth! You understand me right? Look, I love you but try to understand me.’
‘I took so much pain when he born, you know? You are a woman, you understand the pain.’ I wanted to remind her I was just 16 and no, I did not understand ‘the pain’, but I kept quiet. She unlocked the door, threw her son inside, asked me to come in and shut the door behind me. Her house stank of dog pee and vomit. Her giant, ferocious 5 year Doberman was locked in a 6×2 feet space and her 7 year Pomeranian sat on the floor with dirty, matted, yellow and brown fur. She kept thrashing the little boy and talking to me at the same time.
‘I keep him locked because he is big. He fights with the small one. It smells bad because he vomit. He is not well. My husband does not clean. How much can I do? You know I run with the baby all the time! I told you I don’t want baby. I keep because he is born on my father’s birthday! I love my father. I hate this baby. Sometimes I just want to kill him! Don’t… I am not wrong, okay? Try to understand me, please! I love you!’
‘The big dog has eye problem, we have to get operation. But I spend so much money in Victor’s vaccine so he don’t infect the dogs, you understand me? I don’t care for him. He is playing in mud and coming home, then he touch the dogs… 7000 rupees, believe me! Only vaccine!’
She pulled out a camera from her back pocket as she stripped her child of his clothes. ‘Look at this, my pregnancy photos.’ Before I could take a look, she described to me the photos I was about to see. She sounded like a disclaimer; a warning. ‘My breasts are as big as basketball! I take so many medicines during pregnancy! Because I cannot make milk you know. I am so old…’
I ask her how old she is. ‘I am forty-two! You can imagine how much problem for me this baby. My back is paining, my breast so big – it hurts! So much medicine. I swear, he fuck my body! I looked so nice before… You seen me! I ask the other Russian woman for help but she doesn’t help. She is a bitch! She is not even Russian! She come to India for school and marry that man… Real bitch I tell you, don’t talk to her.’
I was still trying to recover from the shock that she was not in her late twenties. I wondered why she would have a baby at this age… Oh yeah, she loved her father.
‘I only keep the baby for my father. I even name him after my father! I love him so much…’ I was creeped out enough already, but then I noticed a crazy glitter in her eye every time she spoke of her father. I think her mouth frothed a little too. I told her I had to go and stepped out of the house. I could still hear her scream ‘I love you, I really love you’ till I reached the lift lobby.
I couldn’t get the image of the snot and mud covered by crying for his life and the woman thrashing him. I saw her husband drinking again that night. That night I woke up at 3 am to sounds in my bathroom. As I walked in I heard her screaming through the shaft. First in Russian, then in English, and then she threw a couple chairs around, breaking things… I sighed an went back to bed. Since then we hear her almost every day – be it 3 am or 3pm, she lashes out on nobody in particular at least once.
Once her son turned a little older, she dropped him off at the house opposite hers every chance she got. The lady there ran a crèche and all that this Russian woman wanted was to get rid of her son. I found her crying one day, begging her neighbor. She was almost on the floor crying ‘please, please, please’ over and over again, making quite a scene at around 4pm. I tried running away before she saw me, but I was too late. ‘Look!’ began the monologue.
‘Please tell her, explain to her! I want to go out. I can’t take him with me. She is not taking the baby. She say the playschool is close today. Why?! You tell me. I pay her, why can’t she keep the baby? I tell her, take as much money you want, I give everything but take my baby. She does not!’
I spoke to the crèche owner, mother of my friend. She told me that she was closed today as she had her family coming over and she had to clean up. It was the death anniversary of her husband and they had to perform certain rituals. I turned back to the Russian and I told her that the crèche owner was busy. ‘Look, you understand me, don’t you? I love you! I really do! Please help me!’ I said I couldn’t do anything and left her standing there, begging the woman to take her son as she forced her son into the crèche.
Another day I found her with her husband standing at the shop of a tailor, red faced, her husband trying to negotiate something. She was angry because the tailor had ‘ruined’ the white pants of her son by patching a hole in it with another white cloth – which is what she had asked him to do in the first place.
One time she left her son crying at a shop and went back home. I saw her leave him and so I picked him up. I took him to our apartment and there she ‘found’ him, hugged him and kissed him telling me she was worried sick about him.
I was 18 when she saw me with my dyed hair, and she asked me if my mother didn’t scold. ‘My mother beat me when I color my hair blue color.’ I asked her how old she was when she dyed her hair. ‘Oh, I was 11!’ she said. Then she moved on to inspect my tattoo and asked me if it hurt. I said it didn’t and she went on to shudder and ultimately do a really bad impression of someone having a seizure.
She was beginning to get really nosey. She kept a track of what others did. One day as I walked back home after college in a blue camisole and white jeans, she stopped me. I was dead tired and groaned a little when she walked in my direction. ‘You went out?’ she asked. ‘To college’ I replied. ‘You back now? So late?’ It was 7pm and the usual time I returned. I nodded. ‘No,’ she said. ‘I know you went to meet your boyfriend’ she declared.
I looked at her perplexed. I had been single for two years! She gave me a sly, dirty smile and walked away. I went home.
I never saw her son speak. He was old enough now but I never heard him utter a word. I pitied him and felt bad for the Russian’s husband now. The woman was crazy, and she still is! I found her yesterday, or rather, she found me, now 19, as I was going back home from college. ‘Where are you coming from?’ she asked me with authority. ‘School? Like this?’ I looked at my t-shirt and jeans, nodded, and told her I was in college. She nodded and began talking.
‘I am crying now because of the holiday tomorrow. I don’t care about Indian festivals before, believe me, but I care now because school is closed! He will be home and I will cry! I just want him to go away, you know. I am planning to change his school also. Tell me what language they teach in your school?’ Like she just forgot that I had told her less than a minute ago that I was in college now. I tell her schools have three languages in India and I took up English, Hindi, and Sanskrit.
She groaned. ‘I am looking for school for him but I want only English teaching. In India if you want to become engineer or doctor only English teaching. Why do I need other languages? I don’t want him to learn all Indian things! You know what I am saying… His poor brain!’
‘When I live in Pune, before I come to Bangalore, I learn Hindi, little bit. Then one city and more city, everyone speak different language! I stopped learning! I will speak English, I tell my husband! Why do need all this Hindi, Kannada, Marathi? For me English enough!’
As someone who loves languages and speech, I didn’t understand her at all! Why wouldn’t you like to learn beautiful words?
I told her that before the British every school in India taught in Hindi, Sanskrit and other local languages. ‘No! They teach very many languages. I don’t hink you know! In India everyone speak different different language. In my country, everything one language! Only Russian! And you tell me, why do you need to learn Hindi? You speak Hindi at home! It is your language! Why you need to learn? Also, what will you do with so many language? You don’t speak at home! In my country everything Russian, even science! Only one language you learn inside outside, you speak… Of course you will pass!’
‘I always think why Indians fail school so much. Now I understand! So many language is the problem! I don’t want him to fail, you understand me? I want only English school!’ I asked her which standard his son was in. ‘Kindergarten,’ she said. ‘I will keep him extra year in kindergarten and then look for good school to send him. I don’t want him to fail… I love you! I will go, I have to buy yogurt! I really love you!’
I think her name is something like Monika or Sonia. And she doesn’t even know I have a name.
Something lingers in my mouth after everything has dissolved into my bloodstream. Something still sits on my tongue and the corners of my mouth after your lips have parted mine. Sometimes, it is an orange memory, sometimes, a grey mess… But it’s something, and it’s there. Like the memory of a chocolate I ate in my childhood, it is there. When I lick my lips, it’s still there. It’s not an aftertaste but something that comes after it: a ghost of an aftertaste? I don’t know. But it’s there.
Sometimes it burns, and sometimes it’s very cold in my mouth, after the moment has long passed… Like mint, maybe. And after my lips are no longer caressing your skin, it returns – that something, which is there – and it stays; like a memory. Like an aftertaste of passion. Like the after of an aftertaste of passion; it’s there. It’s something.
And this is how they find me each morning:
lying dead on the floor,
my insides spilt out.
And they blame the cat which never was.
And they pick me up, and put me back in my place.
But they don’t understand the struggles of being a dustbin:
standing alone in a corner all day – punished.
I yearn all day to stretch my legs and walk like them.
And at night, I do.
I gather my dirty-self up
and I take a step, and fall.
And I lie there all night – dead, my insides spilt out.
And this is how they find me each morning.
And they blame the cat which never was.