Happy New Year, friends!
Night was unusually calm and the streets were deserted. I walked out of John and Maria’s house with the backpack heaved on my shoulder stabbing my existence.
I had little money left and the advance sum I had given to John for the room, I had booked for one month I was out in a week, wasted.
I reached the main street. To my right was the beach I could find a place to sleep and a bar I knew open till late was to my left.
“Aunty’s bar”. Locals called her aunty and she preferred her anonymity. She was sitting behind the bar counter, waving off the smoke clouds hovering in the bar with a hand fan.
She had a stern face and her acknowledgment to regular customers was a laden blink, courtesies done away with, she never implied service charges.
She looked at me and my backpack.
“You checked out John’s place?”
“Yeah” I let the backpack ease on the floor.
“Just like that?”
“Just like that” I affirmed. “I need a drink”
She couldn’t resist her smirk as she fetched a quarter and empty glass in front of me.
I moved to the corner table on the outside dimly light, away from the noise. Her eyes were on me but the smirk was gone.
Aunty was quite popular and her story did the rounds in many bars of Goa. Her husband, a fisherman vanished with another woman in his boat to a coastal village down south. Aunty raised her only daughter, running this bar she had rented way back, later she paid off to buy in her name, no one knew. Twenty years by herself and a house to run, standing for hours in the bar had swelled her legs. Now she sits behind the counter and hand massages her legs while the local boys run orders for her. Aunty made sure she only hired boys who lived off their salaries on booze, they drank at aunty’s and she kept a close tab.
I saw Anthony get down from his car parked in the dark of the alley. His German wife had his house and a pending divorce case against Anthony kept him from entering his own place.
I met him at the bar, three days back. That’s when he told me his story and gave me a repeat of aunty’s legend. The regulars in the bar had harped on her life to justify their own, and so it came in a package, every time.
“Hey man” Anthony yawned, scratching his chest “I just woke up, man. Damn night I had yesterday. Fucking Russians, all they do is snot and when they get busted, they call me”
He grabbed my drink and busted it.
“Aunty, send me a glass” His hand now scratching his back, eyes on me and the quarter.
“Leave him alone, you mother fucker” That was her.
Anthony scratched his nape to cool off “Alright, give me half. I promise, I’ll do six hours tomorrow”
“Fuck off” came her reply.
He waited for a while, for her, for someone, for a drink.
Anthony’s hand slipped into his pocket. He pulled out a few notes and dropped it.
“Hey Aunty, look what I found, 300 bucks” He picked them back and waved at everyone inside the bar with a big grin on his face.
Her voice hit my head. Aunty was standing right behind with a half whiskey and a glass. She grabbed the money and left.
Anthony poured himself and me a drink.
“So these Russians, they got busted by the cops. They didn’t have stuff on them but they were smoked up. Three in the morning, I made it to the station. I told the cops, lay off. Fucking corrupt cops, all they want is your fucking money; all is that everyone wants is your damn money. My fucking wife took away all my money, my house. Fucking lawyer says give me money; I will bribe the judge so you can have some of your own fucking money”
He finished his glass and made another large.
“So I asked the cops, how much? Fifty thousand. Can you believe that? I settled them for twenty. Can you believe that? and these Russians have no manners. I said Hey! What about me? That’s when one of them gave me 300. Now aunty has it”
Just then a drunk from the bar stepped out, relentlessly howling and abusing on the phone but obvious to his girl and he had our sympathy. His friends came out and stood there helpless and the guy on phone was pleading his girl to meet, to come back to him but she didn’t budge and he in rage, banged his head on the wall and he told his girl, he banged his head on the wall. She disconnected. Dammit.
He was sobbing, one hand brushing his tears away, and the other pressing redial as he walked back and forth but she didn’t answer.
Then he walked away. We watched him go.
It was closing time. Aunty joined us for a drink, we had in solemn silence. She later made her way back home and I got in Anthony’s car and we rolled off.
We reached outside Anthony’s house and he kept looking at the lit bedroom. Reek of sweat, booze and death in the car was making me dizzy. I stepped out and puked.
I cleaned my mouth with the remaining whisky in the glass.
“You want another?” Anthony asked
“Sure” I said
“I will make you one, meantime why don’t you try hit the fucking window glass down?”
Glass cracked just like a piece of wafer in TV commercials and Anthony’s wife came rushing to the window.
“You fucking asshole! Anthony, I am going to finish you…”
Anthony looked at me in earnest undeterred by the abuses his wife was hurling at him.
“You know what man. I’ve been trying to break that window glass for the last 3 months and you did it in the first try”
“Thanks Anthony, I guess I needed it”
We drove for a while, emptied the bottle. We slept off in the car. The reek got me again in my sleep. I stepped out and puked. Anthony woke up hearing me groan. He saw me from the corner of his eye and smiled.
We had a lot of sleep to catch up.
The salt laden sea
pleads for respite…
The incessant winds
writes waves on the water…
Though I wonder if she ever does think of the moment the way I do, that day, sunny afternoon, I photographed her and she let me.
I skipped my rule #1 : Be discreet, shoot and walk away rather I chose to play fair which is rare, my rule #2 : Ask when you darn sure they won’t refuse.
She utterly refused though not for long perhaps she anticipated I’ll just stand there sulking all day and trust me I’m quite good at it..
When I was a lad
There came a circus in town
Acrobats and a juggler
Midgets and a magician
Lions and a clown…
I went with my folks
Oh, what a show
I wanted more
With friends, I sneaked in
On a packed Friday night
This time the clown
Funny tricks he played on me
Poked fun of me
He performed each show
A routine of his
I knew the drill
Finally, the clown turns the prank on himself
His final act
He howled and cried
Beat his chest
Audience cracked up
The roars of laughter faraway
And the clown in tears
Next to me…
Lights fade out
End of show.
fly in my room
my unsteady eyes
night was sombre
whisky bought me sleep
and the sly fly was smooth
She hesitantly walked towards me
I burped “Hello”
My hair jazzed
My toes curled
My breath uneven choked
A redhead in front of me
Her perfume had struck hard upon my tarred lungs
I could feel her breath on my left hand ring finger
A lucky omen for an old surviving poet
I didn’t notice her hand
Slip into her soft brown handbag
But I sure did, when a .38
Emerge out blatant
Before I could think
My eyes and nose resemble Russians
My ears have a Jewish noise
But I don’t look a pilot capable of flying
I wondered many a times
About my final eventuality.
I never aspired to be a politician
Assassinated, accused, of flirting with Monroe
During office hours behind the office
Clinton though survived
I never cared much about men in uniform
Martyr my life, that’s not my kind of shit
Soldiers die in numbers, names don’t matter
The trigger in act and blood spurting out of my belly
I timed : .00002375 seconds
I ALWAYS WEAR A STOP WATCH.
Blame the Japanese
They stop-watched Pearl Harbor
And later devastated by the mushroom war
They strictly focused on
Small cars and Walkman
I’m dying, right!
Just before I was to drop dead
She punched struck kung fu
Her fingers sneered through my ribs
And pulled my heart out
My small little tender heart
Reminded me of the healthy heart print
On sunflower oil brands
My eyes were in tears
My claims of an innocent, humble, adorable heart
Needed no more better evidence
It had survived all the abuses
The mean world had hurled at me
Oh, my poor heart
Foolishly throbbing on hope
This is worse than being Othello
I never had met this bitch before
It could’ve been a case of mistaken identity
I ain’t famous nor am I dating a beauty pageant
I never got involved with a lesbian
Make her bitch envy me
I hardly curse unless
I have to call a bitch, a bitch
I never had met this bitch before
Alas, there I was, lying in my Budweiser pool
Budweiser did pay me handsome
Endorsed my poems
They send me a day shift maid to get my house cleaned
Poor old lady fainted
She couldn’t deal with my dump collected over a week
Flush didn’t work and my landlady didn’t care
It was my dump and I wasn’t going to disown it
So three cheers to Budweiser
Pool of blood
Right, I am dying
Redhead pressed the knob of her watch
Followed by a star shaped, crimson flash
I faded in gently
lying on a large soft bed
In a palatial room
Head resting on a large black satin pillow
I gasped, sprung up
Facing a mirror, facing me
I looked a model
A handsome young model
Just like the ones in contraceptive commercials
Beethoven’s fifth symphony emerged in surround
I winked in disbelief
Digital bar lines appeared
Dancing in tandem with his composition
I winked again
Redhead star trekked through the bar lines
Her clothes tore in rhythm
With Beethoven’s conducting hands
Naked, she stepped closer to me
I grabbed her
She kissed me
Her tongue snaked wild with mine
I was living a fantasy I had never fantasized before
My fantasies are modest unlike me.
They never dare surpass the road side hookers.
She spread her legs
Inviting me to her world
“I am Eros, the God of Love, the poster boy of the 155th edition of Kama sutra
The contraceptive super model”
I slipped in
Her palms opened wide
Creating a hurricane of rose petals
Rising from the middle of her palm
But then I paused
Guilty, I paused
I’m unworthy of love
I’ve killed the most beautiful moment
A moment of love destroyed in a moment
By my sexual act
“I’m a perverse, self-indulgent moron
Hang me for I deserve none but a painful death”
She smiled, engulfed me in her soft arms
“In resides you an innocent heart. let him free for he deserves no
more pain but love”
My heart sank, speechless
Beethoven paused to silence
I looked up the hollow ceiling
Stars turned off their lights
Candles in million
Lit up in the sky
I surrendered to his voice silent
We resumed in orgasmic trance
She moaned, her soft hands pressed my arms white
Blood gushed from my skin pores
It was a sight, a fountain spring red…
I rocked her, I rolled her
My bones cracked open
My fingers dropped off me
And punched the invisible piano
Stroking the notes in madness
She moaned in multiples
She moaned so loud
Disrupting the sync
She had slipped into her own glory
Forgetting she was to nurse my heart
Youth worn dry
Fuck the sunflower oil brands
Fuck my poems, my drunken nights
Fuck Beethoven and his symphony
I looked up
There were no more candles
Fuck the stars
Clouds hovered in herd
I gave way
to her multiples…
My heart couldn’t bear no more
Ashamed, pained, aghast,
My heart pleaded for death
And there appeared a sharp knife
Floating in the air
I gave way
To my heart, for one more time
The last time
She walks down the street
every evening at 5 sharp
I stood at different spots, rather posed
But her foxy eyes never acknowledged me
That drove me mad, so mad
One day, I blocked her way
and said “Why don’t ya look at me?”
She frowned “silly bear”
And walked away…
Later that night
A girl in 4th grade
Called me – silly bear
She asked me to open the cap of her pen
I broke the pen into two and gave it back
Step by step
I traced backwards
My life in question
What would I like to change?
I hit a firewall right at start
I’m going through a bad patch, you see..
So I let my mind wander
Dig in the past, random
Moments of joy, mind reported
Are bleak and unworthy
But not the times
I sunk low
Apparently morbid, I didn’t deserve it
Can I get a drink please?
Thank you dear
Stuff I wish never happened to me
So many, which one do I pick?
But consider this, if I change any one
Alters following events in my life
There’ll be new memories…
“Stop” screamed my heart
“I’m hurt too much for new hurts…
Give it up
Just let it be
We’ll be fine…have faith
I got you and you got me”
In a deli
one cup of coffee
waited for this day
wasted, I stepped out
it was pouring
no cabs in sight
empty faces on the porch
and the orchestra just won’t stop
“I need a cab”
valet barely smiled
he’s never seen me alone
but this time
he returned in a while
my rescue in sight
took me under his umbrella
“don’t tell him your destination
just step inside
and he can’t refuse”
common sense, now i realize
I got in the cab
my hand reached out to his
from the window glass, half down
he took one as usual
my cry for redemption
is a hoax
he said with a broad smile
I rolled the glass
hazel rain drops race
I got home dry, not quite