When Machado Writes

You take a liking to them immediately. It’s what they say. Not much how they say it but what they say. It’s how you think they would laugh into their bosom at a private joke you wish you knew. It’s how you imagine them at their table, their laptop fully charged and unplugged, the mug of black coffee on a wooden coaster, one you know they would have spent an entire evening looking for. It’s not so simple, you know. It’s what they are going to be looking and blinking at furiously, while their brows are inked with words that haven’t appeared on the word document yet. The window is open, the blinds are moved to their rightful corners. One doesn’t really use the blinds for their actual purpose in this house. Windows simply look so much more emptier without blinds. They are a dull orange in Machado’s home. But she has bright colored carpets lined with cat hair all over it. Mascot, his name is.

Now she is trimming her toe nail as her foot inches towards the space button on her keyboard. She has logged in and out of Twitter 5 times already. A room in a story is what’s bothering her today. She thought it would be square but this morning she woke up and didn’t care about the room anymore. She is scared now because slowly the room is fading from her story. What if she cares lesser about the story tomorrow?

The coffee is cold now. She drinks some, picks up Zadie Smith and rolls the book like a dice, hoping it will reveal secrets to Zadie Smith- like metaphors. Nothing happens. In 20 minutes, she will start writing. The room is still there, but the painting on one of its walls is more interesting now.

Of Old Homes and New

Today, I saw time slip from between my fingers and hide behind familiar trees and houses and shops and their shadows. Balling up to finally start riding the two wheeler on the main road is the first best thing to have happened last year. I don’t say this to myself often but it has enabled a certain kind of freedom that can only come from being responsible for my own transport no matter where I am or where I have to be. Not that I don’t miss the one and a half/double meter hassling with auto drivers, but it is a strange pride, this one. Getting around the city, knowing certain short-cuts, knowing what routes to avoid at what hours- these, for a long time remained parting wisdom and long prologues to farewells only among grown ups and friends who had vehicles. I would listen with intent, hoping they would make a mistake so I could catch on and instruct them about this other road that nobody knows about and how closer it is to our destination.

I make the mental map myself now. I stop, ask for directions, use GPS and everything and it is bloody intense. But today none of that happened. I rode to the other end of the world to deliver a cheque and caught myself smiling at the prospect of visiting my old house. I took the correct turns and noticed that nothing much had changed. I was pulled 8 years back into Jayanagar 7th Block. I saw Channel 9, Coffee Day, the Government hospital which, I was surprised to see, still functions. The street looked narrow somehow. It was wider in my head, and perfect. It’s like somebody squeezed into my memory and narrowed the streets down. Young boys playing cricket and all, I couldn’t remember if they had always been there, playing cricket, screaming, making way for vehicles. How could I not have remembered this tiny bit of detail?

The house looked the same, thankfully. It stood the way it always has, in my head. White and 3 floors. The owners have now added layers of grills. I tried peeking into the window of a room which I remember now as the most neglected room. I re-winded to when I was 16 and in love. Walking the length of the corridors, making sure my feet were stepping on the insides of the box tiles and not on the lines, whispering into the phone, sitting with books around me and watching snowy make his way into my arms. Snowy was my first dog. I found and lost him within a month in that home. A lot of firsts happened in this house. I remember them all.

I rode slow until the dead-end forced me to look for the bakery my brother would be sent to so often. Bread, cheese, butter, chips and pepsi. The footpath was painted yellow and green. I remember walking there, earphones plugged in, drowning my head in imagined miseries, none of which have come true btw.

As I was heading back to my now home, I took a left instead of right because I wanted to go see my school. It was still there but I expected it to be bigger. It was sad to see it shrunken down in size. I almost felt bad for it. Somehow all the resentment I had against the school and its people seemed to peel away from me. I thought of all the things I hoped would remain permanent when I lived in this part of the city. I looked fondly at the shop in front of a former home and remembered a birthday I tried hard to make perfect. How I wanted to give a box of chuckles to classmates and how I convinced the shopkeeper to get a whole new box for me.

So much has changed, so much more is going to. It’s probably only now that I am not as afraid of change as I was when I grew up in the other part of the city. The city that I spend time in now, is carefree and I don’t want to know why and how but it is making me unafraid of change.