This time, I seek Allah with you.

Dear N,

Remember the first time we discussed the shade of blue?
We had shed a few layers and tied a ribbon around a few food baskets.
It took us six months.

Six months of waiting.

Waiting aloud.

Waiting numb.

And one day, we woke up to gold.

We made our own colours till then.

Added a little water. Bought new brushes.

We were quite the artists.

I guess, that always gave us the edge.

We were sneaky.

The ones who wake up in the middle of the night, aware that the world’s asleep and rub the canvas with a bright orange with our bare hands.

I’ve heard that Allah is looking over us.

He must have noticed the paintings, then.

Each impression on the board. The ones that let the colours accumulate and then pull them to you, taking you slowly to a trance.

We will have our share of Orange skies, then.

And, red ones.

Or, even purple.

We’ve jumped at Blue. Imagine the Eid feast we prepare if we wake up to a Purple day?

Allah will see.

We’ll get a new canvas soon.




Waiting for Spring.

I walk with a pen.

Or maybe a twig. Something that can make an impression in the sand.

My house is right by the Thames.

Quite a lot of sand to write on, you see.

Or draw lines.

Some, unnecessary.

Some, immensely accurate.

The water isn’t too efficient each time.

When you cross the bridge, you’ll see.

Sometimes, you might notice where my hands shook; Sometimes, where the wood could reach the earth.

I have spent quite a lot of time thinking of the shape my lines should make.

This wasn’t the original plan, though.

Back home, I planned to write more.

I have a beautiful handwriting.

You need to see my cursive ‘a’.

However, I am standing by the English water and it’s a geometrical circus.

Frankly, I am not as linear.

I prefer a rough tear to a pair of scissors.

I prefer being followed by the moon to the little red switch of my desk lamp.

I prefer the rainbow chase to a lavishly huge umbrella.

I haven’t done any of it here.

Instead, I have drawn lines.

Perhaps it isn’t time for spring yet.

Then, I will throw the twig in the water, and run behind the rainbow.

The God at the end of my wall.

It was five months ago that I brought my God to London.

Since then, I have talked quite a lot to him.

I have taken him out of a box and made him listen.

He, in turn, has made me do many other things.

Like, walking a few doors and two elevators, everyday. That’s how far A lives.

I have counted airplanes as they passed over the London Sky.

I have lost a few bottle caps.

I have rearranged the cards in my wallet.

I have dialed thirteen numbers.

I have let my hair grow.

I have been a feminist.

I have been a sexist.

I have pulled up the climbs of my window.

I have given a hundred pounds to the wending machine.

I have not slept.

I have tried to understand what the fridge cries about.

I have counted till five to sneeze.

I have changed my camera’s shutter speed.

I have used up a page to sign my name.

I have cut my hair.

I have misunderstood.

I have waited for airplanes.

I have not talked.

I have gotten used to the silence.

It took twenty two years.

But, I got used to the silence.

How else do you talk to your God?

My God doesn’t speak.

He stays, at the end of my wall.

Don’t move. It’s snowing.

There are days when the wheels don’t turn.
When the television network refuses to tune in any channel.
When the hot water tap in your kitchen stops living up to its name.
When the very fragrant milk in your Pasta Sauce curdles and makes a tragic way to the litter bin.

When all that’s moving is the snow.
Right outside your window.
While you sit glued by the window sill. Still.

There’s a Pause.

Many a times have you pressed the resume button.

It’s snowing outside.
White trees. White cars. White roofs.
And, some more white.
Among all that white, there’s an imperfect snow ball in our balcony.

We made it.
Once when A was the only one wearing enough clothes to step out.
Then, sometime later, when we had waited too long to touch it, D and I stepped out too. Brave.
Not wearing the kind of clothes one should, when it’s snowing.

It was white and inviting.
We gave in.

The urge was merely to touch it.

You don’t just go to it.
You can’t.
The first step is to run your fingers on it.
To tell yourself, it’s for real.
The texture making you smile. And then you shout out to all others in the house to come running and see you conversing with the pretty white snow in the balcony.

We went for a walk by the riverside.
We saw people.
People, making more of those imperfect white balls. Some, large. Some, small enough to fall through the spaces between our fingers.

It’s one of those days.
When there’s ice on the wheels.

You don’t brush it off.
You take a step back, and curve your lips, as your eyes follow the sheer daintiness with which the snow has painted itself a place on them.

You pause.
Lie down. Flat, on the snow, and spread your arms to fly.
While the snow takes notes of your efforts to make the flight.
Changing colours.
White to Earth. Earth to White.

It’s one of those days.

We’re not moving today.
The wheels are white.
We’re not complaining, though.
London’s white.

The glass on the dining table.

London is athletic.
It walks.
It walks all day.
With Tall Starbucks Lattes and powder pink strolleys.
It walks so fast that you blink and miss the sun.
We admire that.
Admiration, you see, where one can raise his eyebrow, nod his head and pretend to follow that, in near future.
We do that.
D even talks about walking as fast.
And, she is not kidding.
I admire her too. For not being on good terms with Butter.
You will know when you look at her.
So, it’s fast, here. And, cold.
We love London Winters.
I can hear A chuckle at that, while D looks at me with her eyes, wide.
We have walked.
Walked fast in the cold.
You wake up. Curse the weather. Walk to the bus stop. Curse the weather. Reach School. Curse the weather. Study. Curse the weather. Survive the day. Curse the weather.
And, If you can’t do any of it? Again, blame the weather.
So, for all your life that you’re in London, thank the weather. Because life’s easy with it.
It’s not the same in India.
Ofcourse. You don’t use the term ‘weather’ as much.
We meet atleast twice everyday. A, D and I.
Once for some coffee.
Once, because we’ve been away too long. So, that comes under Mint Tea, Eggs or the generic ‘I’m hungry, Come off!’
A and I have essays. Long ones.
D goes to the Library everyday.
We, however, meet twice over Coffee/Mint Tea and fret over it.
There is a glass on our Dining Table. Curve your thumb along the same lines as your first finger and make a C. This high.
It’s been there since the Christmas Party.
The day we generously opened our bar to the ones who chose not to go for the Christmas Midnight Mass.
We crushed ice and roared Radiohead.
But the party’s been over for some time now.
The glass, however, remains, taking up a wee bit of space amidst the vertical lines of Indian Pickles.
Things have a tendency to stay. Little things, they push the rusty pile of paid bills to a little left, turn to the side and lay flat on the ground, barely breathing, yet, there.
Like the 22nd January of 2012.
Like Shatabdi Express.
Like C’s study desk.
Like the bottom-most shelf of our shoe-rack.
I have a lot of stories.
And, they’re not just mine.
A tells me his. Some have B in them.
So, I have rolled scrolls of stories in my head.
Some tied with golden ribbons, Some, held together with sticky yellow rubberbands.
We open a scroll everyday.
The ribbons carefully put away for re-use.
Beneath the grey English Skies, the ribbons melt some colours.
That is how we paint.
We’ve put the kettle on, and we’re running out of tea bags.
But we sit everyday.
And, share stories.
The glass still there. Not so empty, this time.
A’s put jellybeans in it.
Red ones. Orange ones.Green and Magenta ones.

So,When you walk into the kitchen, you will see, There’s a glass on the dining table.
That is how we paint.

Making eggs.

It was dinner time. A called to remind me. We had promised to meet after a two hour study schedule.

“What are we cooking?”, he asks.

I make a face. Too vague a question.

The fridge whimpers in the kitchen. Like a child trapped inside a dungeon.
It screams everyday. We get worried when it doesn’t.
Like one of those moments when the milk stops at the brim while it boils, and disrupts the shouting and cleaning ritual.

Funny how we swim in irony. And, then we boast about the many strokes we know.

He is still thinking. Hands in his pocket, his lips pursed, as he plucks out the menu in his head.

We  have drawers full of food. A rare percentage of it, healthy. The rest, not so much. We’re butter people. The ones who conveniently blur the font of the text that says Calories.

After a few Veto discussions, we decide on Eggs.
This is a ritual too.
Where we each name a meal we can prepare, until one of us says, Eggs.
We have a Menu in our head. Leather bound. The kind that feels beautiful, holding in hand. Eggs have been underlined far too many times in it.

He steps aside to let me talk to them. The only time he does that.
With everything else, he is quite the culinary artist.

The butter sings as I let it slide down, swishing about in the round pan.

We sit down, fried eggs in yellow plates, as the fridge feels unattended in the background.

While people stand with burning wax in their hand, back home, we sit here, talking about it, with our fork and knives, eating eggs.

A woman just died. The wax needs to burn.

Atleast the wax can burn. They don’t have fire drills in India.

So, where do we live exactly?

We wait under the Nizamuddin Rail bridge for the bus. Take the DTC to Aldwych. Men and women shove and push to get down at Elephant and Castle, and thus we find a place to sit at Kashmere Gate.

We do that all day.

When the white pigeon tries to balance itself on the old antenna across the street.
When the onions turn a beautiful golden colour, like the ones in mother’s frying pan.

But we don’t live in India.

And, we didn’t burn the wax.

We do wonder if we should.

But then, we butter our toast and eat eggs.

I told you. We are butter people.

Would you like some tea?

We make tea everyday. Sometimes with little ginger. Sometimes, cloves. It tastes the same each time. Even when the sugar’s not enough. After nursing it on the stove for a good fifteen minutes, scared it would dance down the edges of steel again, when we sit down to take the final sip, it doesn’t matter. If the ginger’s enough. Or the sugar.
For a lot of people that I know, London would make their eyes twinkle. Sipping tea in a London flat, might even glisten them a bit.
Probably when they think about it, they see an ivory cup. And the tea a lot hotter, and fragrant. They can smell it, yes? The flat’s pretty too. Vintage window panes. The kind you would want London to have. And, raindrops. Pitter-Patter ones. That rush down the glass panes, caressing it.
We don’t have those.
We’re in London though.
With red and blue mugs. We have tea in them everyday. They’re still as blue and as red.
It doesn’t matter, you see.
If the sugar’s not enough.
We’re in London.