Not So Best Friend

Published in The Kathmandu Post on Sep 6, 2015

Picture Courtesy: The Kathmandu Post

Picture Courtesy: The Kathmandu Post

You know how difficult it is to live a wounded life and yet tell the world that you are fine, that you are doing okay. You are suffering, still suffering, and yet you hide all of this. This is difficult, this is goddamned difficult.”
You tell her this.
“Learn to give a damn,” she replies, as usual, sucking on a cigarette. Then she blows the smoke out of her mouth and tries to catch a cloud with her hand. “Sometimes, some things are impossible, so learn to give a damn,” she says.
You are confused about whether you are her primary or secondary smoker: you inhale more than half of the cigarette she sucks on as she blows it out into the air, you try to catch each fume like she does.You are not troubled by the smoking, but you don’t dare smoke yourself, because you don’t want her to start thinking badly of you—or maybe you don’t want the world to start thinking badly of you.These thoughts are characterised by confusion, but you don’t care because these thoughts have been in your mind for too long—every time she smokes in front of you. Something in the way she talks amazes you all the time. Sometimes you find yourself in front of a mirror, trying to imitate her gestures: the way she moves her hands and head. And you know you are going to fail, the same way you fail to smoke as well. You say to yourself, “Come on, that is so not you.”What about that perfect image that you have built through all these years, you think to yourself. You are that perfect woman, and how can you let go of that? The thought of it scares you, and you suddenly see yourself in multiple pieces. You have to recollect the puzzle pieces that make you and make yourself perfect again. You have to smile in front of the mirror. But your feet start trembling, you can’t stop. You remember the dark black Americano you had with her.
You think of telling her everything that happened to you with the mirror and the puzzle pieces, so that she can calm you down. But you also know that she will take it easily and a cigarette talk with her will make you completely fine—you need not share it. And you wait for the next time you see her.  You become desperate in the waiting for her to come. You will never tell her how you actually feel—and she will not make you tell her either. She will not ask anything, unless you ask her to ask you anything. Alas, you think, she might never know how you say yourself fall into a myriad of pieces.
You never ask her anything, and she never asks you anything, but you have the feeling that she is curious, that she will go into the depth of everything she really wants to know. You sometimes lie to her and she accepts these lies, but you know she knows you’re lying. This is when she takes you along with her on one of her cigarette breaks, because she wants you to suffer.
“You have to either bear or share,” she seems to say. Continue reading

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The Photographer

Published on April 15, 2012  in “The Kathmandu Post” –

Picture of Old Woman don't know who took it but matches with the story

Picture of Old Woman don't know who took it but matches with the story

I have never seen a camera as big as the one he has in his hands

in these seventy five years of my life. He is young, well-built and smiles continually as he clicks away at his big camera; its lens pointed towards me. I have never seen such a wonderful young man in my life, apart from you. What’s with age? He proved that I am more beautiful than these young chuckling girls by taking hundreds of pictures of me. Something amazing happened while he pointed the “straight” camera lens right at my face—it reminded me of our unification.

It’s you whom I saw in this young man. Who knows I might still be awaiting your arrival. I have waited fifty years already. I have never put on white clothes because no one has bought your dead body to me. “Dead,” thinking of this makes me suicidal. But again the hope of your arrival has kept me alive till today—till the age of seventy-five. It’s you whom I saw in this young man. Is it that you died and were born in the form of this man? Is it that—in the form of this man—you came to meet me? Or is it that you married some other woman and this is your son? No!! No!! These things can never be possible—I console myself.

“Aama please smile,” the photographer says.

“Please stay in the same position,” he demands.

“Don’t go away, please wait Aama,” he stops me as I try to turn away.

I smile from ear to ear. I am shy; I hide my face with the edge of my bright red dhoti. I move my head. What is this young man doing? Why is he taking pictures of me? Why does he like me so much? Why does he ignore these young girls and come after me? Am I that beautiful even now? Why would I not be beautiful… my ears are decked with gold earrings that have lightened my face all these years. What about the gold necklace from my marriage? Does this young man not see that I am a married woman? A line of sindoor parts my head—proving that I am married to someone else—I belong to someone else. What will he do with my pictures? Will he hang these pictures on his walls and look at me day and night? But why? Am I more beautiful than these young girls? Is he fascinated by me, like I with him? Can I be compared to these young girls now when I am a 75 years old? Well I was young, some fifty years ago. But now, each year my skin loosens, my face is shrinking and my cheeks are no longer seen. Continue reading