Losing my breath – 1

When I was younger my grandmother was active. She would make sure the harvest in the paddy fields happened in reasonable order and would marshal us all, reapers, threshers, the guys with wooden vessels called paras with beautiful brass tacks on it who measured out the yield etc. It was my job to distribute the grain to the all people involved and make sure the rest of it, the lion share, gets stored in the wooden granary at the heart of our house. She would be running around and making sure everyone gets fed in this period of 6-10 days. Man, that was a blast, we used to have so much fun together though I could never explain the joy in the implicit common understanding like a private joke between two people involved in such things that reveals softer and warmer sides of common folks with simple wishes. From the time I was 14 to the time I was 20, I have seen 6 harvests.

Each year I felt I grew so much as a person, I learnt to smell the mud, the sweat of the reaper has a peculiarly paddy smell, the mingling of wet mud and masculine sweat with the sweet smell of freshly cut paddy stalks, the yellows of the ripe paddy gently felled square by square under the sky which always seemed more expansive and bluer than anywhere else, in the evenings I would carry my battery Panasonic walkman and wait till the time everyone is getting out as the sun slowly turns the sky red I would play my  favorite Cranberries track, Yellow skies.

Yellow skies, yellow skies,

I can see you in the yellow skies

I see you again in my dreams

Morning light morning light

Outside my door

In my dreams in my dreams

Forever happy forever happy

Holding you responsible

Or whatever, the lyrics weren’t important anyways, what the song said to me was something else not what I guess it actually meant to most people. I would be looking at the skies, quiet yellow now, and I would think about Dolores in Ireland, I would think of James Joyce, and I would bite a stalk of grass and remember Earnest Hemingway, the people leaving the fields made me happy, made me bitterly happy to be alive, what could top this feeling, there’s nothing better to look forward in life, it can only get worse from here, I knew it in my heart and this song was by someone who knew it and lost it, loss of paradise. That’s why so many of them made themselves and others so miserable, Hemingway tried many times to kill himself till at some point managed. The song seemed to stand for all this and I was in awe that someone could put so much in a seemingly dumb fucking rock song, Dolores was a Goddess, a Goddess I dreamt of fucking, a Goddess I could have kids with, in my dreams, she was already married an all, but a public figure has no go but to forgo such restrictions in fantasy.


Whoa, I lose my breath even now when I think of those days. I look in the picture at my freckle faced wife and I know Dolores is my wife today, a better Dolores with more heart and more spunk than any woman I met before. A spastic who could crush your heart to smithereens with one look of defiance, an animal that sought no comfort but your eternal servitude, a madness that became an addiction, all the bittersweet-ness I bargained for and a lifetimes worth more free. Boy, I am losing my breath again thinking of it. The dark rum on ice is smiling at me, downstairs I can hear my grandmom shuffling about looking for the remote to the TV.


They have planted rubber trees in all the paddy fields, they have dug up all the hills and filled up the swamps and wetlands, they have cut down the rainforests and build unsaleable condominiums priced exorbitantly. And I don’t even know who they are, sometimes I even think I am they, at such times I hate drinking rum, I’d prefer some hard drugs that numb you out of the stratosphere. There were days when I would swallow anything that’s a tablet or a capsule just for the heck of it, just make myself more in tune with all the chemistry that ubiquitously surrounds us, poisoning myself to fight the poison. It worked mostly, but one day I had a shock of my life when I lost all control over the physics involved with being me, and I felt my will trapped in a useless and dead chunk of flesh, bones, blood and other allied systems. I remember looking at Dolores as she dragged me under the shower and pulled of my vomit stained clothes, I remember looking at her and thinking shit, what if I never regain my body, I will never be able to fuck this divinity. I was afraid I would die, but more than that at that point I feared I will remain this way for rest of my life, since then I stopped fucking around with chemicals. Boy, the thought of it is making me lose my breath.


The other day I was travelling on my uncles lorry to smuggle sand, one lorry-full of sand would fetch us 50,000 in Changanasserry, and our expense would be less than 10,000, the profit was the payoff for the risk we took, if we get caught the cops would confiscate the lorry and we would have to shell out at least 1,00,000 bribe to get the lorry out and also lose the work we could make money off for about a month when our lorry will sit like a kid in nursery whose parents never came to pick her up, sad fate, the thought of it makes me feel so bad for our lorry. But I pushed such thoughts out of my head, such things don’t happen too often, we just have to chill our asses and behave cool, the shit wont wrap around us.


Anyways I was with Shivan the driver and Santosh his assistant and it was still dark, the sky was blue like in the movies the watch said 3’o’clock and we were zooming down the highway with a full load of sand smoking some killer weed, guys in Mumbai called Kerala Gold everything was well with the world, atleast as well as could be. Shivan and me were talking.


— so, are you planning to live off smuggling like this… aren’t u getting a job


— no man, this is just so I can go see my wife for a while in delhi


— so you r not bringing her here


— she doesn’t like it here, the people stare at her when she wears her jeans and sleeveless blouses and she doesn’t feel comfortable wearing other clothes, I don’t like to get between lechers and her all the time, its embarrassing

— why don’t u get a job


— o that wont work out I am writing a book, so I don’t have time for a job


— You are an idiot… get a job


— Fuck you Shivan, you spend most of your money on drink and women, did I ever tell you to be otherwise


— I have my reasons, my daughters have been married off and my sons have started earning, I have a right to chill out now, its not like that for you, you don’t even have children… you are an idiot only


He had a point there.


— you have a point shivan, but I still cant get a job, I gotta write, you know I write good and its seems such a shame to not write.


Hearing this Santosh couldn’t help it.


— Man, you are an idiot.


You know when I was younger my gramom used to tell me to be a man and be responsible and learn from my uncle, who had made lots of money and whom people respected, mostly because he had money. When I first started writing and growing my hair long and generally being awesome, he would tell me the same thing that Shivan told me, he told me, I was  an idiot. He said I could whatever I wanted after I made my own money, as long as I lived in his house and lived off him I would have to subscribe to all laws of propriety that he prescribed, and he would force me to cut my hair and spend less time on my writing and more time at chasing money and generally make me do things that suck.


To be fair today I understand why he was right, though I don’t agree that I am an idiot even now. If I had listened to him I would probably be free to be with Dolores whenever I want, but if had listened to him I would probably have never met Dolores. But you know the other day my granmom told me that I am the only one among her issue and the issue of her issue that had a heart, somehow this was as good as getting an Oscar award, it somehow vindicated me for some illogical reason only some deep part of my sub-conscious would know. I felt like a long thank you speech but I didn’t reply to her, it seemed like the only thing to do, we just sat and looked the darkness of the night where the fireflies were studded here and there, she with her cataract-ed eyes and I with my extremely myopic eyes, quietly content to be in each other company.


And my mind went out to my uncle still in Dubai, still working for the Dubai airport, he surely has never sat with the person he respects most in the world and watched the fireflies quietly, but he was sleeping with his wife everyday, and Dolores right now would be curling herself around a pillow wishing she had my paws weighing her down as I curled around her fetus form and breathed against her neck, breath swells up again, ah well you lose some and u win some.