Thursday, 29 December 2011

This strange, cutting solitude is slicing through me. It's killing me. I got up at 5 again today, made coffee, had a smoke, and came back to write. Last night I was so sleepy and sad and mildly inebriated that I had fallen asleep as I was dressed in the pub, when I woke up I had raccoon eyes and an aching stomach; not having dinner is becoming a habit. However, early morning was really nice-until I fell asleep again-somewhere around 7:30. Sleep is the brother of death.

Then I dreamed of beaches-it was a lovely beach, but also a backwater beach, with dolphins and little boats and mosquitoes, and the water was greenish and slightly murky, and the beach was just outside this very window. Here where this ugly backyard is. But in this dream I knew I was not only not loved, but that my family and loved ones were receding further and further away into the horizons of that infinite sea, and that I was alone. Alone. This winter is very long. Sometimes, like now, I am convinced I will not survive it.

Margaret, Margaret, or Rosebud- do you know them? Could you tell me where they live? So that on one such winter morning as this, I could creep out of my lonely house, and go walking in the bleak sunshine-looking for addresses and pretty strangers, who give me tea and scones and a little bit of kindness? Margaret is not a woman, you persuasively argue, she is a girl and she is a cruel girl. What of that? I must try my luck. What am I? A young halfwit? In my dream, I also saw I was trying to convince you, but you kept changing the topic.

The dream about the beach was hardest of all. It was not at all like Goa, which is my favourite beach. This was like a pond, except my dream told me it was a beach. I stared at it from this very window, like a stupefied dog asked not to bark by the master.

I have no master, and no slave either.

Perhaps if you are reading this, you will be kind enough to understand. You cannot break a woman's heart by dismissing her as slightly mad. Either you denounce her as a witch, a completely insane genius-or you embrace her as the love of your life. In this either-or plan of things, the middle path of Buddha has no relevance. Come, be my eros and thanatos, let us rediscover how to live.

These days I practise how to die like sophisticated English gentry; sheer boredom and bottled frenzy. I am dying, Oxford, dying. I am dying, my dearest, dying. But you don't care, you timeless and significant proper nouns. There in the rarefied grammar of your existence, madness is typographical error.

While I compose this wretched metaphor, the backyard outside behaves like a chameleon sea-lagoon. This is going to be a long winter.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Homeless

I have been living in England for a while now, albeit in rather straitened circumstances, as my friends would know. While it is not exactly what I had hoped it to be, and I have received three marriage proposals from very old men of questionable sanity, and it isn't even cold yet, the thing that has struck me the most is the large number of people without homes. England has always had poverty in a rather maudlin way; what Americans would once have called "cute", and I remember reading about tramps and err people in caravans in Enid Blytons and Richmal Cromptons. Unquestionably cute in childhood, now I see people without homes on the street in the cold, and some of them definitely die in winter. On park benches, curled up on stairs, some of them puffing away on cigarettes-given-as-alms, some of them selling newspapers, they stare nonchalantly and vacantly at the cold grey skies. I wonder how they feel, sometimes as I sit and contemplate England on lonely park benches, I must have the same cold vacuity on my face-which is why I have spoken to many homeless people by now. Some of my newly made friends think I am insane and "funny" which, of course I am, but I plea a healthy insanity, and am now trying to structure some kind of method into the madness.

Therefore, in my little way, I shall chronicle the stories of some homeless people. It is a little project that I have vowed to undertake, and this not a pretentious Down and Out etc project. You see, most intelligent people take success for granted, but though I know I am intelligent enough to string some beautifully poetic sentences after drinking tequila that somebody else has paid for, I am not successful. This is largely my own fault because I have an ugly naivete that prevents me from doing things with force and conviction. I am dazzling but only in my own mind, and to my own self. This can be a problem when you appear for interviews and suchlike; because you cannot convey your, as the Americans so succinctly put it, awesomeness.

So yes, I think everyone loves me like my grandmother does, loving benevolence that bestows and compliments- and a lot of homeless people are like that. They have trusted people-spouses, children, relatives, friends, the government-and their trust has been betrayed. They have been stripped of money, dignity, friends, everything that we-trained as good liberals-take for granted. Many of them have dogs. Big dogs keep them warm in winter. They love their dogs very much. They love their dogs far more than we love them. Some of my friends give homeless people a pound or so. The kindness of strangers can be overwhelming. Some of my friends (and that includes myself) spare a cigarette. For me, that's a tremendous sacrifice. Every time I part with a fag, my hand shakes, my brow sweats, and my heart feels dizzy. There is nothing in life called a free lunch, but THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING CALLED A SPARE FAG. Therefore, I feel like a Christian martyr when I part with one, and hasten a homeless man to a speedier death. I am a very kind girl.

But really, my kindness is overwhelming when I actually sit and speak to homeless people. There was a woman who openly confessed she was going to get some stuff, ya kno, stuff with the two pounds I gave her. So what does the err stuff do to you, I asked her. The stuff kinda makes me feel at home with myself, she said. Her endearing honesty brought tears to my eyes. I would almost have given her another quid, except I needed it for a mocha. Besides, why would I help her have drugs that would make her feel at home, when I-like the other quintessential Western homeless heroine Antigone- was perpetually without one? Nothing doing.

That night I read Heidegger. It helped me, I felt better. Heidegger's prose cannot make anyone feel better, you argue. You are obviously foolish and not an Oxonian. You might even come from Cambridge. At this point my sarcasm is sickening me, so I will proceed to the next paragraph.

One day, as I adorned the bench in front of Balliol. as majestic Broad Street bustled in front of me, a man with droopy eyes came and sat next to me and salivated at the sight of my Gauloises. Camus smoked Gauloises. So you can see how very l'etranger I was, how well suited to the scene, how the poor bugger was dying to talk to me. So he asked me for a spare cigarette, and I was about to tell him that there is nothing in life called a spare cigarette, when I noticed he looked a bit like my favourite writer Borges (without the glasses, in his prime.) A remarkably handsome man- so I gladly gave him one. I thought he was a nice man, a bit of a junkie, and then he said, "I just lost my job." "Oh no" I sympathized. "Yes, I feel sad. Where are you from?""India."
"Are you rich?"
"Not remotely."
"Hmm. Would you happen to have 20 quid?"
"No?"
"That's alright. Could I have another cigarette?"
*smoke break*
"So, do you know I don't have a home?"
"Errr?"
"I stay on the street now. I want books to read. And food to eat."
I suspect the books bit was to impress me. Alas, poor Droopy Eyes.
"India is a poor country, isn't it?"
Indignant me: "Strange you should be saying that."
Startled Homeless Man: "Hey, no offence. Hey, you're pretty. Do you want to go out with me? Tomorrow, 4 pm, here?"Startled Me:"Hey but where will we go to?"
Sad Homeless Man with Droopier Eyes: "OK, you have a point there. Hehe."
Exit l'etranger.

I brooded on this. Why would a man without a home want to date a girl? How could he? I mean, how dare he? I mean, what do I look like, a Dater of Homeless Men?
Me, Antigone? Me, Hamlet? Me, Mersault?
No.

And then, I realized, we are so used to seeing people without jobs, without homes, without love, without success, we whose fathers have money, or something close to money, we sans merit, but with classical liberalism flowing through our veins- we suck. We're ugly. Our flirtations with the Left, with Marxism, with history and the Hegelian dialectic, with life and art, with authenticity and resistance, with our black, white, yellow and brown skins(and masques)- we stink.

As Baudelaire so nicely put, and Eliot so beautifully quoted, and I- in a show of dashing originality will replicate-

Tu le connais, lecteur, ce monstre délicat,
— Hypocrite lecteur, — mon semblable, — mon frère!

Of course the monster is delicate, you fool. Facebook is a very fragile thing too, isn't it? Sometimes the monstrosity of the changeling called social networking astonishes me. It is so utterly pointless, except we find an illusive home in it- a home within a home.And then there are some people out there, just outside this cozy English house, who cannot afford a laptop with an internet connection and they, unlike my poor third world brethren, even know what information technology is. Hell, they even know how to spell it.

La sottise, l'erreur, le péché, la lésine,
Occupent nos esprits et travaillent nos corps,
Et nous alimentons nos aimables remords,
Comme les mendiants nourrissent leur vermine.

(Now for the non French speaking people, this is from the same Baudelaire poem that Eliot did not quote,translated it means something like

Folly and error, avarice and vice,
Employ our souls and waste our bodies' force.
As mangey beggars incubate their lice,
We nourish our innocuous remorse.)

And now my French has run its course, let me bid you a teary adieu, my neighbour, my reader, my brethren. I go to smoke a cigarette and contemplate the perils of being bored.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Why must our lives be so alone? I trace and retrace my steps in time, but here I am-trying to make sense of who I am and what I must do. This is difficult to figure out because I always took for granted that the wretched strains of violins I hear in my head are part of a song. And now that song is not just in my head, it's my life. The vast embracing sky here is always cloudy, and it's so cold here, so cold, that this embrace can kill me if I don't shield myself from it.

There is much happiness around, but this happiness is not for me. When you realize this, you know that your life is gradually losing meaning or perhaps it is gaining greater meaning. Nowadays I take recourse into fantasy and fiction, and this room becomes my universe, my one little room is Everywhere. But there is no lover here to make my macrocosm into a microcosm, all that metaphysical love poetry is left behind in another world- a comfortable cocoon in retrospect. He is no longer all that I survey.

I am shielding myself from the cold, but I cannot shield me from myself. I glimpse you outside sometimes, but not all the time. In little light, and you disappear so soon, in the blink of an eye. I lose you before I can realize what it is- you're like a blazing shooting star, an elusive idea, a trembling idea, a character, a personality, you're my novel gradually developing in my head- and I have to see you more often before I can write you down. I desire lucidity, the erotic texture of lucidity, its endless possibilities...

Fuck it, come back. I have not yearned anything so much, no lover, no man, no woman, no friend has made my heart shake so much, depressed me so much. I can see your story, I can see your distinct narrative spread over time, and my time itself ceases to matter to me, as long as your unreal and false time can be encapsulated by my worthless fingers on a blank white page.

Love, love, love. They say love is something that you need to live the good life. I don't want any love, the men in the canvas of my life are fading out gradually, the colours are running out, and even he who I loved so much-whose heartbeat I still hear occasionally against my lonely pillow-even he has carved out another life on a better fresco. All I have is you, you are my sole source of solace and desire and love and life. Do not let me die another death, here in my ugly and cold room, make my life vibrant and illusive with the colours of fantasy.

Embrace me, fiction.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

4 am

Yesterday
When you held me
And I felt your heart
beat,
it was not yesterday-
it was eternal.
And time dissolved,
it was 4 am,
it was not yesterday
it was today.

And the last bus
left
at 4 am
today.