Diary entry of a 20 year old.
From today on, I am going to collect some cards.
And with them to hold several other people; with them, several others and several others, like a tree that grows backwards in its trunk and its roots deeply socked in the soil.
I think it started on a winter afternoon when the foggy mornings in Chennai hadn’t faded yet. There were classes like usual. She couldn’t stand the heat, the shock was worse, both the heat from the roads and her own heat. So, she walks crossing places, alleyways, banyan trees, and long trains of cycles, to end up at her lover’s. For us that’s what they were for, for consolation, a touch, even more, the passion with which we had to forget the bouts of heaviness in breathing, and if he holds you close and nods and gives you a room to sleep, better. As usual, he did not fail to give her a room to sleep, and they did the small sex, to calm down the nerves in the excitement of flesh on flesh, in haste, but too tired. She sleeps off. She coils into something like a snail and sleeps off. He says I need to get to complete the paper, and she coils writhes and forgets. She wakes mid-way flashing a dream of the first story she wrote- a young girl in Kashmir who acquires the portraits for her long-lost lover, and she looks out through the window, blinks and thinks about days when she was too radical, too brave, too full of people, human beings who gave her an arm so that she could write about grief as not of her own, as if she hadn’t added enough blood to the vanilla pod. So she blinks and gazes, that’s all there is to it, sometimes to blink and gaze simultaneously when grief strikes you heavy like a low blow, to lose and take the world and to forget it with conveniences like a blow of the betrayal, similar to one of the books, sex and death.
Momma! That's what they call her -In Tarkovsky's movies we find that all women are angry. Towards the last scene of the mirror, we find this most arresting, striking, brutal, and heartbreaking moment. The mother, who is definitely badass sits and watches her house burn. Her children run to have a look. They are too innocent, but they still watch. Mother, however, sits on the rim of the well, and fetches water out of the well; the water should have been thrown at the house, but she sits down patiently, pouring it down to her feet, cleansing herself, and looks at the burning hut from far. Does she smoke, wish she did. Had she smoked, or is that me smoking watching my house burn. Had she smoked, that would have been an addition to it. Somehow, the house burns and everyone watches. That's her favourite part about Mirror, its heroic distance while watching a house burn.
She thought the vignette's hazel hue was what he called the soul, like what spreads to the outside, along the periphery even after one looks at the painting. As if the painting doesn’t stop, or the painting was simply a coil in the chain of many. He used to contrast the pictures she made with tint and said “you are good, you should put them out more often.”
But the one who makes and who doesn’t keep a rest, the one who doesn’t like what she makes at all murmurs a hmm, a dejected and apologising breath.
Now things are different, but how different are they; that she has a window, a real window to gaze through, real afternoons, a love to stumble over, for she has stopped falling long ago, a room, a room, and light and little Z who sits by her bed, who asks her if she feels any better if she wanted some bread or some tea.
She said one day “Malu, we aged very fast”
she turned her face to the sides, she didn't quite like what she said and looked away. She lies next to her, after some very small love-making, caressing and kissing, Z tells me, we aged fast like a swing that doesn’t stop and some days I fear that a goddess visits to talk to me. And she can’t swallow a word, neither manage a bit of the stupor with which her eyes lit up when she spoke about the goddess.
Ah again, a little bit of space is left. I shuffled my cards.
With great attention I realised, that theory of general relativity for the young is different from the theory of general relativity for those who are 10 years or 20 years or 30 years older than the young. That theory of general relativity changed every 10 years. Picasso seeing relativity in his 23 was different from Monet seeing it in his not-so-young. Picasso in 1909 was different. Cezanne, I believe was somewhere in Marseille doing his thing. Picasso, the Spaniard machismo, who was enthralled by bullfights and harlequins, his holy calibre to shade, his mind, and his friendship with Braque, Braque's knowledge- academic, that Picasso changed into the real, just being so good in his craft, who repeatedly scorned, mocked, said Monet was wallpaper, said Degas was trying too hard, said everything about paintings had to be changed, and he did change everything about Painting, but until his late 30s I believe, and with that kind of success, that kind of luxury, and all pretty women late into his life, he probably wanted a rest. When he did Guernica, what I will say I hated in him was his ability to do anything, his dealing with impossibility, his soaring.
There are several downfalls to being young and brilliant, I suppose, one is not knowing how the theory of general relativity would change in the coming years and being open to it, and two is remembering Einstein was your father's favourite scientist for reasons you never knew, for reasons probably he never knew as well, but Einstein changing into your life was another story with which you realised what changed was also nothing changed. And finally, because the theory of general relativity changed every 10 years, even 100 years later, there was a new theory of general relativity that changed every 10 years. You suddenly realise you couldn't be young and hot, but be young and a failure already, that my dear is a life of cowardice already when the world is burning you fishing the ember.
I remember he did not like bodies. He used to tell her about a man who in his middle ages had 4 wives and four left him because he could only sleep with one. He said the three others left because he did not sleep with them and the 4th because he only slept with her and laughed.
To use someone, I remember is like a phrase I heard very little from a forlorn girl who said to her lover about this so often, or my mother said about a man who she met after her marriage (which I love by the way) she wanders around and he, his - like a galaxy with concentric orbits of broken ellipticals. Maybe she was hurt, or somebody was hurt.
I shake and exhausted the water in the laundry and waited for it to finish, we had to pour water from the pipes to the machine. So, I stand by the wall.
I turn and look over my shoulders, oh! the girls who live next to my room. One of them, somewhat like a friend, waves to me and smiles, I give a friendly nod. They whisper to each other and they don’t want me to pay attention. Sensing the air of discomfort, I plug in the earphones and play a song, but I pause as soon as I plug them in-
It rings in my ear what he said, you are also the same.
I am excited about this conversation, a sense of perverse excitement where you remember a life you stopped altogether, and they steal a glance sideways at me. I pretend I am not listening at all, that I am lost in a song that doesn’t have a track.
They have stopped, a pause, and I guess they are waiting to see if I show any response at all, so I stay still, not moving. I thought of walking around to deceive them, to show gestures to make them believe I am immersed in the silent song that I don’t listen to. But I stand still if one thing I have learned, in circumstances of betrayal and performance is to stand still, to stand still during the in-between moments. The pause again, a quiet air that only acquaintances share after their greets. I turn around and collect clothes, I think we should all leave when others are too sure to not give off what they would without us, even if those are the things we desperately need at the moment, and I walk away with the pale full of clothes
I watched La Strada today he tells me as we wait for tea at the corner store by midnight. Did you like it, I ask him. Yeah, very much. I don't like it very much, I told him. Why don't you keep watching Young Sheldon, Sheldon is more like you. I just wanted to know how he thinks, he tells me. Did you find out then? No, but I had fun he goes on. The actress is really cute isn't it, I prod him. Yeah, very very cute, he reassures. That was Fellini's wife I think, was part of the theatre and all. Oh! All directors have cute wives. Are you jealous of Fellini! I ask him. No, just- all arts people have really cool, glamorous wives, in here, there are not even many girls. He trashes a soda can. Why do you not like Fellini, he asks me. I don't know. Your problem is Malu, you are fun, but you can't have fun. Oh wow! I am impressed.
From today, I am going to learn to divide the cards.
Melancholic people tend to wake up very early, it is the mornings that make them feel better. I always heard him say this to her, a feeling of numbness, a form of stillness, cower these mornings.
She has some rice flakes, bananas, and cashews she stored up for morning breakfast. She wakes up very early. She cannot eat. Haven’t you heard them say that there are two kinds of people, or there are millions of people, but she chooses none? This time she says- “What exactly is it that lets the grief of another person makes you aware of your own sorrow you were forced to forget for long. What is it that two griefs got to do to rub their sides off?”.
I worry nothing walks into her head, nothing moves in, I wouldn’t complain about her, because whenever she writes me well, she throws me around and I fall back into more lines. That’s how we have been- unsatisfied with the company of each other. I don’t know whom to plea about this but she goes again “I am scared two griefs when placed on top of the other, explodes into more, into a whirl, a pool where you don’t get out of its stringent pull, you levitate and run off, you give up too soon into it and throw up”
My friend looks happy. He is very merry, one man used to tell him, you look like the happiest man alive. The protruding chin and small eyes and the light in its hem, and the glaze just after he played cricket and the happiness with which he shares things, I smile at him and query:
“What is it, you are very late”
“The writing went very well"
How kind that was of him, some people, they endure more than others, others endure, even more, and others fail to move at all. People like me who sinned early, you wake up next to that person, or some person, or you are talking to them and you ask yourself is this all you got- or why did I at all do what I did, it simply is not death, it is a form of spite that floats in the air. He would have said I had had the responsibility for this death. But I worry I am simply a spiteful girl who kills the other person and not just herself. Just that this time I don’t have many people to kill.
But I can do better than her, way better and I think the pain with which she writes- "how kind it was of him” does more than the pull she explicated with beautiful adjectives. She is slow with it, she spreads out the grief, and she stores her own slink and I want her to write this again.
I am bored with cards.
One of the best things about Tarkovsky is how his mother is always angry, always strutting out on the first things she feels, she senses. One of the best things about Tarkovsky is that he was brought up by a mother like that. That she sits and washes her feet instead of throwing them up at the burning house.
Hey, somebody save the world! Too much for me at the moment.
An old story, edited and rewritten.