Who invented the human heart, I wonder? Tell me, and then show me the place where he was hanged…Lawrence Durrel from the work Justine
Bimba: wife of Gautama the Buddha.
Says Bimba : How would I know ?
…that like being a
river – nomad ;
you can be an
Staring at that once occupied integral pillow that is now a rude metaphor of absence. Vanished. Gone. Ebbed away. How would I perhaps know that inside…
Inside the city of mirrors lies the city of forests and even deep inside that city is the city of cactus. Thorny. Hurtful. Long vertical poles with pricks at their side.
Yet as you moved towards a spiritual longing. You left me to fend with my own ugly mirror image. My spine had to remain ramrod.
Each time you move from mirror to the forest and from the forest to the cactus landscape…your already bleeding body needs urgent treatment. Perhaps you should not have made that trip. Perhaps you should have been safely ensconced in some safe corner of a sofa looking at your 3D television screen broadcasting high-definition fiction.
Perhaps it was a better idea to reduce yourself to a mere popcorn. Just be amongst many small globules in a tub waiting to be eaten. Perhaps all happen chances are indeed chance happenings.
C’mon tell me. Hey, don’t be smug. Don’t wallow in your predictable self-pity. Self-righteousness. Tell me. Tell me. How do you differentiate between end and closure. Or are they synonyms couched as antonyms.
What is their red – line which distinguishes
humane and the profane.
Nights inside the city of cactus are elastic. They neatly fold up and fits into your wallet. Into your transactions. Into your dominance. Into your victim-hood. Into your standard response. Into your aftermath. Into those blank spaces in the burial ground that awaits a new corpse.
Siddharta (says) I am struggling to keep my spine straight as you move towards nirvana.
Let’s take a census of all those who are political nomads. The real ones. Not the cause-hoppers or the because-hoppers. They are the increasingly lonely tribe which every ideology used, sucked up their youth and then left them high and dry. Cast them away into a statistically irrelevant “leftover” group that needs to be forgotten. This is/was/will be a systematic habit with every so-called private fascist/ public liberal mash who wants to tinker with the shape of our memory.
What is memory ?
What was memory ?
What will be memory ?
What should be memory ?
What will not be memory ?
Isn’t it a
of unrelenting images
playing out through
a never ending slide show- getting back at us- with new press button keys- lapse, relapse, locate, relocate, structure, de-structure, condition, de-condition, belong, unbelong, dead-alive, alive-dead, unfettered, uncluttered, unhinged- almost a new genre of music- the refugee blues.
I am not surprised seeing my irrelevance. I am not overly concerned over the fact that my
looks more fashionable or cool than it looks to be persistent. I know soon inside a multiplex we will be seeking varieties of violence inside a Pearl-pet jar.
With happy hours.
All this. All that.
Gautama: how do I keep my spine straight.
What will I do for myself that very day. When I’ll enter the shop and face this fresh-faced earnest looking salesman ready to sell violence in small pockets.
(Let me share with you a little secret. I have met him already. Inside some multiplex. Inside the belly of a river. Inside the freshly dug earth of an illegal mining site just before sunset and much before lingering shadows became dark parabolas.)
The God that you and I know is neither statistical nor empirical.
He/She needs you to know that his/her application whether it is a broadcast or a podcast needs to be done with a sense of restraint. Even the quiver is jampacked with arrows and you do have many targets…
take it easy…Inhale. Exhale. Exhale again.
Don’t just shoot your arrows…give them to the museum.
It is terrifying enough to know that the quiver exists. Now let’s calm the pitch. Lick the edges of our plate.
Reconfigure our violent mind-space. And move on.
(Not to emancipate others but to brutally interrogate one’s own self)
Move on. Move on from what?
From that culture of half-baked kindness shown by quarter-baked people.
Move on from sunshine to moonshine.
Move on from too much light and shadow to too much of dawn and dusk.
Only then we shall not be terrified of mirrors.
Make or break isn’t a choice.
Choice is Make and Bake.
Craft and Reveal not Create and Conceal.
There is an infinity beyond one plus one. Only then we shall not attempt to change any words but only ours.
Only then we will be
Siddhartha from Kapilavastu: my spine is bending but I am not giving up.
You can now keep a zillion mirrors in the room. I am not afraid. I am ready to see a zillion split images of my already dissected halal self. And I will now move on to a nether zone that is unreachable even by imagination. City of forests would then be a cakewalk. Because I have turned all that is rational to all that is notional.
Gautama underneath the Bodhi tree: they want to bend my spine so that I become spineless. But I am not giving up.
Love. Sex. Understanding.
Loneliness bytes becoming an inane tweet,
a stupid facebook post or putting a noise-cancellation headphone on my ears and not switching off any device.
I want to cancel noise yet not hear music.
I do switch off and switch on -now- almost at the same time.
All abnormalcy is pathological – all larger truth is a hypothetical lie- all earned Euros- is subject to future recession.
Having learnt all that, I now know that I won’t bleed that easily. City of cactus as always will be a tough pit stop. But my car will roll by. Will negotiate the chicane. Real-life zebra crossings. And zoom towards a carnival-esque space, where humour mind you is contagious. Even black humour.
There- in that space- I’ll have my private chess match with demons, morons, patriots, feminists, nationalists, zealots, revolutionaries, fascists, communists, green ones, saffron ones, the damaged, the fragile, the disadvantaged, the chewed, the eaten, the moth-attacked, the barbecued, the roasted, the unnecessarily stressed, the disappeared- of course.
Buddha The Supreme One: Can I for one last time play a game of chess with you? Both of us sitting straight. Mindful. Spine position erect as Angulimal distributes the chess pieces.
We would lay out the chessboard.
And I’ll ask them that same, silly inane question- which colour did you prefer :
black or white ?
And each one invariably said grey
So we invented our chess. Like an Alladin lamp miracle. We are delivered with a new board. (All this appears from nowhere.) We are impregnated with new rules. These are wired into a new set of hitherto unknown pieces marked inside the once-chessboard which is now an apocalyptic chessboard. All matches are finally over now. It has taken a million years. Fair enough. We shake hands.
Gautama, Siddharatha, the beloved of Shuddhodhana you remain where you are. Sitting.
Smiling. Spine straight. I have to go back to the mundane. But my spine is not bent.
And now with a passport in my hand I move towards the immigration check.
The flight is boarding.
To your house.
It will land on your bed of thoughts.
I will sit near your lap and read this excavation out to you.
You will find me some lip-balm for my dry parched lips.
When I finish reading I will melt into the night.
as and when you wake up (you hardly sleep)- you’ll see the folds on that imaginary bedsheet inside the forest.
(You’ll know this was the airstrip where the flight-from-somewhere-had-landed.)
It now needs fresh airports. Fresh shelter. Fresh refuelling.
Till then don’t allow your nostalgia to become violent. Nostalgia also kills. Because all the neutral memories are dangerously vagrant. They waft, bite and chew. From the mirrorpolis to forestpolis to cactuspolis- it was one helluva journey.
And who said that it is over?
With these thoughts Bimba fell asleep knowing that Gautama-the-husband has become Gautama-the-Buddha. And Buddhas don’t come back home. Because the only office they operate from is called-
But they teach you in such times to keep your spine a little straight.
Step across the line. Unzip your guitar. And join Tom waiting to sing:
I got the cards but not the luck/
I got the wheels but not the truck
Dear Mr/Miss glib talker, don’t let this be your crib. Don’t let this be your dirge or for that matter your lament. Let this be your primal scream. Let loose, before you pick up the backpack and hit the road again.
For Buddha’s exile isn’t just a mere roadshow. It is a state of mind to join dissenting dots, straightening up the frayed edges and all that it takes to make the individual universes talk to the larger multi-verse.
With that I, Bimba, proceeded to fall asleep for the night.
And as they so predictably utter:
Another day. Another place. Another time. Another space.
Or shall we say this day, this place, this time, this space, next week. Next lifetime.
I’m really sleepy now. Very sleepy.
Even insomniacs need some occasional dozing off.
How else will they wake up and keep their spine straight?
When his life was ruined, his family killed and farm destroyed, Job knelt down on the ground and yelled up to the heavens, “Why god? Why me?” and the thundering voice of the God answered, “There’s just something about you that pisses me off.” From the pen of Stephen King
Mayangkhola from the Ao clan: February 24. Jat regiment. 1957. Ungma. Nagaland.
(Incident sourced from Kaka. D. Iralu’s Nagaland and India: the Blood and the Tears)
Mayangkhola with two of her brothers Markaba and Kikamongba had gone the mountains to build a camp site for the Naga Army. The news had reached Jat regiment posted there. At 6.30 am, their house was encircled by a section of the regiment under the command of Major Trilok Singh.
Then begins the story of being severely beaten up. Battered. Molested. The cloth almost hanging on to the bruises and not to the skin any more. The parade of the three began in local church. How? Stripped and then a hour long orgy where the soldiers raped her one by one. The villagers looked on. But could not do much because the platoon was armed.
After a long time, an old woman offered her cloth. She was almost insane by then and shoved her way out. The soldiers beat up the old woman and continued the next bout of rape. Then brother Kikamongba and sister Mayangkhola was dragged inside the church compound and made to have an intercourse. As the soldiers cheered and clapped.
After that they were taken to a camp. Blindfolded. Inside the cell. For almost a week, Mayangkhola had to rewrite her vagina monologue over and over again.
Markaba died a madman.
On October 23, 1998, Mayangkhola passed away. A little more than four decades of living with memories of being roasted alive. Her story was published much later.
She still lives in the body of twenty-year old Rose Manchui (who committed suicide), fifteen-year old Nandeibam Sanjita (who committed suicide) and many others who lived to die and died to live.
I am looking at the body of the butt. Butt of the body. Rifle butt. Real butt. Rifle butt. Skin butt. Rifle butt. Butt of the behind. Rifle butt. Behind of the butt. Unending and unhinged butt. Butt that heals. Butt here and now.
Which butt? Which one?
Between the “nostos” of the return and the “algos” of the suffering. I am figuring out that night.
When the spine ran through the butt.