Thursday, October 11, 2007

Over and Out

September '07 - Personal epoch.

Black Coffee- Our college mag.

Telling it straight.



There’s nowt so queer as folk
- Old Yorkshire Saying

The thought holds on. Some do. They scald your mind for good; brands the grey in your head like a piece of hot iron. I believe in the innate goodness of things though, and come to think of it, however unjust the qualms it evokes, the thought is just as well.

When the self wishes to rip off the blinders and get a changed perspective for a change, all one needs to do is run your fingers through that scald, feel the throb of days bygone, tap your fingers in time with the beat of its pulse and breathe in a lungful of life. Watch the world glimmer and blur and glimmer back into focus. The clarity of the sight is overwhelming, almost. And one knows the right thing to do. As simple as that. Coz there is never a right time. No point in kidding oneself on that. The mind sweeps aside the ifs and buts, the could-haves and should-bes and the million other veils hiding the soul. And when the last shroud slips the skin, all that remains is pure sunshine - liquid light pouring through each pore of the self. And I just am!

And the world can call me names – queer, bent, faggot, homo. Tags won’t peter out easy. It’s easy to put back the blinkers on and cop out. But I refrain. I owe it to myself. Ergo, I will shrug away the misgivings as the elaborate act isn’t worth it.

I am gay, out and proud.

The self is split in two, but it’s me, all the same, through and through. It is I – through the moments- hanging out with my straight buddies, whiling away the night over shared fags, toasts over a drink, the road-trips, nodding away to the comments over the new girl on the block, pulling legs over someone’s yet another love, yet another lay.

And it is I – through the moments – living it up with my gay mates, drooling over the new guy around, swapping tales on crushes and boyfriends, romping the streets, planning the next meet, feeling the caress of a partner, making love with him, living shared moments and loving it.

The double life splits the self and the charade keeps building. And when the pain gives way to complacency, the signs should be paid heed to and one should call it a day.

I wish the divide to bridge - fantasize some ancient spell doing the trick. Some pipe dream! And the dime-a-dozen caricatures don’t really help. If anything, it pushes the gear down one notch lower. Tokenisms be damned.

In a lot of ways, the lives of gays and straights are similar. Coz it is the same highs, lows, hopes and fears that drive the average human. But in many other ways, we live so very different lives. Insisting similar lives for similar rights is moot. Why the ginormous rants and raves over the differences? If nothing else, the sheer contrast is reason enough to come together, to connect.

I’ve witnessed plain rancor when a gay friend got beaten up by a couple of homophobes. I’ve seen the whiteness of the sheer warmth that some gay friends share with their accepting straight buddies. The politics of “we gays vs. you straights” entirely fails me. It doesn’t work that way. How you act has got nothing to do with the sexual trait in your genes and has got everything to do with the self within you. My sexuality doesn’t define me anymore than a straight’s does for him. It is a part of me – important - but just a part, nonetheless.

It is one crazy world. And be it straights or gays, there is nothing as queer as us, everyday folk. Coming out unloads its share of extra baggage and the thought ushers in no reprieve.

There would be ones who would clam up on me. And there could be the disappointing sigh of thank-god-i-am-not from the more accepting ones. Some would say that it’s a heavy price to pay. But you don’t balance the books of everyday life that way. At the very least, I wouldn’t have to grin and bear another homophobic joke, pretend to ignore yet another gay slur. Trivial stuff, one might say. But the trivialities add up to something huge. Or cut down to something as simple as feeling comfortable in one’s own skin.

It’s been a long stay in the closet but I’ve finally worked my way out of the dark. As I crack open the door, the sliver of light falling through exorcises the demons within. They say redemption lies in the first rays. I step out and bask in the light. No crystal orbs in sight to do a séance on how things would turn out from now on. But then again, no point in living a moment aforehand.

For now, I will stretch my limbs and feel the cramps easing out. And revel in the welcome warmth. It is golden light everywhere around - plain perfection.

It’s a beautiful morning. And I feel the dawn within me.

The sun is out.

So am I.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Turn !

72 hours are up n ive been all the way thru my personal hell and back... well, almost!
is 'grace under fire' for real? guess, i pulled (something like) it off alright..
its a goddamn bend in my comfy existence n iam scared like shit when i see the curve.
not gonna meditate over the crisis. meditation has got a bad habit of blanking out ur thoughts n pitching u into levitation mode.. dont want tht right now. need all the good sense i can muster n my feet planted firmly on good, sweet earth.
i'll wait for the jitters to pass n if they dont, i'll walk with my eyes wide shut n chase the bend all the same. i nurse no pipe dream that life would be its sweet old self all over again. it wont. thts fine, i guess.
just hope that its bright on the other side... thats not too much to ask for n i never was the asking sort..
Old guy up above ... pay heed n pitch me my Prometheus..

Friday, January 19, 2007

Sepia Blues

The doors gleam with a fresh coat of mud-brown. New graffiti on the walls. Coffee stain on the naked bed. Only the number on the door remains. The half shoddy work of some faceless daily wager. The white scribble on the murky brown seems like an afterthought. But when that’s the last vestige, who cares? The number spells home.

The old graffiti has been whitewashed over. The locked almirahs seem rude almost. Couple of hours back, a dusty curio would have been stashed in hurriedly. Eyes would have swept over the bare-naked room. Fingers would have felt the lock tumblers falling into place; and would have then tugged at the almirah lever – once again – just in case. One can almost hear the cribbing and curses of the poor soul- of his discomfiture on the encroached space. Beneath the bravado, one feels stealth-like – a stranger in a stranger’s room.

All you have is the musty smell and the coffee stain and all I’ve got is my baggage of laundered memories – I feel like saying to the stranger – and all we’ve got between us is the number on the door. Crazy thoughts! Blame that on the twelve hour train ride and the booze en-route. Poetry and piss comes free with a pint of beer.


The tire-swing seems to stagger under my weight; and then it starts to sway in approval. It should look silly. Juggling the coke and vadapav doesn’t help. The New Year resolve of six-pack abs melt away in another bite of sinful fat.

A car cruises and halts on the driveway. A travel-weary couple alight. The faces light up at my sight. Bear hugs and back-slapping follow. Come to think of it, you always back-slap a person twice. One more and the gesture gets too intimate for comfort. One less and it seems perfunctory. As we laze away in the welcome January sun, another odd dozen join the crowd. Still more to come.

Stock-taking follows – of professional conquests, deals won and opportunities lost. Eyes size each other up, measure by measure, and the self keeps falling short of the perfect fit. And soon the sun thaws away the remaining ice. Raucousness rules. More faces join in. Each face retches out an event. As we start walking around the campus, pensiveness sets in. Each sight triggers a memory. And someone starts building on that. And someone else brings in the frills. A long-forgotten tune comes alive and I hum it along. Paths of time turn slippery by the minute.

My mobile starts ringing and I excuse myself and step aside. I spew out instructions to my colleague at the other end. The crowd waits for me, shifting legs impatiently. I come back and walk along. I try humming again but I seem to have lost the tune.


Forty-eight hours have blown away in a gust of gung-ho. The bai is cleaning up the party court-yard, sweeping aside countless cigarette butts and paper graffiti. I feel clearheaded. Only the dull throbbing in the joints remains, reminding me of the mirth and merry of the night. And the slight limp on the right foot too; surprising, considering the fact that all I had were two left feet the night before. No hangover to crib about. Thank God for small mercies!

I light a joint and walk in the morning sun. Some of the old cronies are having their tea at the chota. I join them. Good humored taunting and leg-pulling goes on. Someone cribs on half the batch not turning up. Someone else comments on how the absence of some spoilt the fun of a few. A couple of sympathetic gazes fall on me and someone touches my forearm. I brush it aside and joke about it. I laugh – a bit too loud. And wish for a hangover to settle in.

People start leaving in groups. I should be one of the last to leave. Got an evening flight. Now that the ritual is over, everyone seems to be in a hurry to move on. Back pats and hugs follow. Mail ids and mobile numbers get swapped. Promises to call, to write, to meet up are made. Those should stay alive for another week. That’s the way of the world. Guess that’s the way it should be.

It’s a long walk to the village shop. I go out all the same. The paanwallah has changed. I don’t bother to ask about the old guy. I roam around the streets. Most of the old memories have been discussed and dissected by the old crowd. I nibble at the left-overs. And I savor the fringes which were entirely mine and never up for sharing. I wonder at days bygone when the world revolved around my bloated self. I wonder at the present, of being yet another cog in some godforsaken wheel. And then I laugh at both.

I zip my carry bag and gaze around the room. Another soul should have done the same act a couple of days back. Fear of losing made him do that. It is the leaving behind that I fear.

I walk along with the bag slung over my shoulders. I smile at the guy who walks past me with a bag clutched in his hands. The sleepy eyes acknowledge me. I turn back and see him walking into my room – his rather. The door closes behind him. I walk on.

A wistful feeling creeps over me as I think of things that ain’t what it used to be. Come to think of it, it probably never was. The thought grinds away the rough edges of memories. Some measure of relief! I can feel the past take sepia hues once again – and there it goes back to the back drawers of my thoughts. As I leave the campus gates, that elusive note springs back on my lips. And this time, I hold it tight and hum along.