Friday, December 11, 2015

CATHETER

Veins clog up, refusing to thaw
Cold biting winds sting and jab
The pores plastered with abrasions from
Darts of the needle drawing blood
So a concavity on the chest
A contraption , an extrusion
Something both external yet
Part of the body
Funneled through this tube
Are cells determinant of life or death
While the sickly antiseptic smell
Recalls the pins and needles scent of blood
Sharp, astringent, nauseous
Entropy experienced as white light
Makes out of the exigency of suffering
Metaphysical succor
I carry it around , my dangling foetus
As the unborn me atrophies within.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

SOLITARINESS

It was after months of reclusiveness that i went for a party. I had loosely been a part of the queer circle in my city , a constellation of different individuals with myriad choices and being. At various places in the city i had attended conferences , seminars, protest marches. With many of these individuals separately i had cultivated unique relationships. But my dissociation occurred very quickly. It was a despair borne out of not getting the closeness i sought. Being of a fairly intense nature and prone to importunate exclamations of need and regard i had found myself , perhaps rightly given that much of me was a mystery to the others , a source of contempt , concealed under a generalized conviviality. The slivers of warmth i received were insufficient because they were impersonal. In a group context codes of social propriety were observed , though they manifested in hugs and kisses and cloying , mincing compliments. There were currents of authenticity but my displacement, felt as much within as without, exacerbated my alienation. I had been coming to terms , at this later stage in my young adulthood , with the inconstancy and arbitrariness of love, of both its indiscriminate bestowal and precipitate and unexplained withdrawal. There were conventions , adhered to loosely which concealed a selfishness. I was often struck by, with many gay men, of power politics , indifference. Which is why their saccharine solicitations seemed inauthentic. In this regard gay men are just like human beings, or any man or woman or transgender person. It is neither a mark of specialness nor a pathology, this form of behavior.

In that party i witnessed ebbs and flows of conversations dispersed across smaller sub groups. It is not my intention to claim victimhood or accuse people of selfishness though the observance of social codes seemed restricted only to the temporal jurisdiction of planned events. Many people were genuine friends with each other. My forays now seemed to be increasingly like insinuations and encroachments , of trying to grab some importance , a certain conspicuousness. Some may very well have deemed it narcissistic. One of the ways i have changed is that i no longer perceive many forms of human fallibility as having an undercurrent of pathology. Certain impulses are simply human , deeply human. It is harsh to mock at them though when our simple need for love, affection , our uncomplicated expressions of regard are thwarted or foiled or misunderstood the element of guile becomes noticeable. One begins to doubt one's simplicity, either as being hopelessly naive or overlain by a neediness and attention seeking. The knowledge of this substratum of one's perceived dark nature is transmitted through the elliptical, bitchy rumours that are circulated , of the silent hint, that telephone call ignored repeatedly, of  a real uncaring nature imperfectly concealed. The knowledge not just of my serviceability but also of my unimportance became more painful because i was over sensitively attuned to these parentheses and interstices. Doubtless an element of projection is ineluctable but it is also equally true that there is something sordid about relationships at a certain level, in our fragmented contemporaneity.

At any rate i roamed around desultorily as the party began. I was reticent, fearful of striking up conversations of an unserious nature. Yet a party was a space for small talk and exchange of pleasantries. As i traversed the variously ebullient myriad groups i heard occasional snatches of animated conversations, some theoretical discussions around sexuality , an abidingly fascinating topic and casual conversations. My sense of unreality and distance were sharpened. It wasn't as though my detachment indicated an authenticity amid superficial people. As i had realized my provisional reality was being reaffirmed.

I ran through my head the various blueprints i could embody. I could, by furrowing my brow, bringing an ironic tilt to my observations, become the party wit, entertaining with scurrilous repartee. I could talk about books and art as a bibliophile , i could indulge in confessional intimacy, with that accompanying collusion of something subversive hovering unguessed at but intuited. I had seamlessly played these roles before and ended up feeling great self loathing for such performances. As i enacted these pantomimes of  wit i simultaneously watched myself. My exaggerated gestures , lubricious undertones deepened a sense of unreality. I felt as though i was in the presence of a glittering hall of mirrors where artifice, prevarication and concupiscence refracted and duplicated in varied contexts, diffusing, expending and ultimately burning out. It is here that my solipsism was thrown into relief. What i desired was a propinquity that cut through the integument of these superficialities. I desired a profound interchange where the habitual defenses of reserve and watchfulness could be circumvented and true feeling seep through.

I saw Armaan and , having deemed him perspicacious based on past conversations , tried to chat. I responded to his squirming desire to get away by trying to grab a foothold by monopolizing our conversation. As he wriggled with fake politeness, looking for ways to slink away i became even more intenser in my topic of discourse , which was my experiences with depression. But my heart was not in it. A dismal insipidity crept into my conversation. I was jaded, dispirited , no longer in thrall of dissembling. In fact i feel mortified at how my desperation must have revealed itself , a futile attempt at saving face by fruitlessly seeking some ascendancy.

Within fifteen minutes of the party i left. My heart was heavy and i was close to tears. I felt a great urge to weep copiously. I could feel myself being wracked by unshed tears  accreted through my four years of disenchantment with this group. My reentry after an interlude of self imposed reclusion had failed , had only underscored a profound deracination. Out of sight means out of mind. In order not to make a fool of myself i walked briskly towards the metro station for twenty five minutes, deflecting the energy of primal emotion through strenuous physical activity.

I boarded the cab. The decembral air that night was pungent, the stars gleamed wanly , signalling a defeat i should have accepted but had never. I had a lifetime to do so now.

WITHDRAWAL

I could sense Kirtana's withdrawal. And it was a discovery made through an accumulation of small defections she evinced , the gap between this distance and her claims on probity. I was baffled , bewildered. My initial impulse was to hold her accountable, impute a selfishness i had discerned early on in her and had admired her for. What started the process of this discovery were her laconic, desultory answers to my passionate conversations on people and ideas. I attributed her abstracted air to some inner preoccupation that she refused to talk about. But her manner to my other friends , and because we were a group i noticed therefore, remained studiedly unaffected , unshadowed by conscious misgivings.

Kirtana liked to be the center of attention , like a queen bee. She constantly manouevred conversations to tilt favourably towards  herself. She was not a listener but a solipsist. Her responses to tales of woe were a spontaneous empathy and a circumvention of the depths of the experience her interlocutor sought to articulate. She had an irrepressible optimism, a belief that a drink or a cup of coffee in a cafe or simply shopping would alleviate a distress which she felt was experienced by some with too much intensity. There was, in her own adroit mechanisms of avoiding deep conversation, a certain intensity , the intensity of a hedonist or pleasure seeker , enlivened by a short attention span . Somehow ,in her presence life , liveliness , animation were preponderant. I forgot with her any incipient disquiets and revelled in her uncomplicated self centrality. Her often artless but endearing efforts at self ascendancy were also humored .

She was tall, slim, and beautiful in an equine way. I doubt if she had a depth of interiority though she certainly was capable of strong feeling, specially her own. Her amalgam of practicality and ingenuousness was touching because it masked an inherent selfishness. She disregarded emotional excesses and conveyed an impression of closeness and friendliness that was very deceptive. I know that my own conscious suppression of her essential impersonality was what grated me the most. I was cognizant of it but felt its barbs keenly. And no reasoning could ever obviate that knot of bewilderment at her casual carelessness. Clearly i wanted her to deem me worthy , perceiving in the fitful light of her intermittent moments of approbation, a sense of self i profoundly lacked within myself.

Had i had a more robust disposition i could have met her indifference with disdain. Had i been nuanced in my knowledge of the games people play i would have  engineered my own counter attack of guile and calculation . But because the human condition was so incalculable i miscalculated. Taking a direct , self denigrating , propitiatory approach, making a plea for leniency with my hapless sincerity would only intensify contempt . As also reveal the vulnerability of my neediness. But i did not see this so then. I saw myself as being candid, transparent, authentic. I needed the illusion of  the romance of a self unmediated by dissimulation. Now i realize that in that process i did my own share of dissembling.

Kirtana's withdrawal affected me profoundly and i was conscious that others were witness to it, were perhaps meant to witness my growing embarrassment. Her short replies made me even more expostulatory and i regretted this desperation . I knew , in my heart , that the warm glow she roused in me was febrile, enfeebled by inadequacy but at that time , even that insufficient, indeed artificial warmth was preferable to complete solitude.

I called up Kirtana a week after her withdrawal became an immovable actuality in my inveterately escapist mind. I was completely timid, apologetic, conferring on her the superiority of righteous affront when it was she who had, instead of candor, opted for manipulation. She was willing enough to tell me that my observations on her to another female friend in the group, whom she saw as a rival, had upset her. She relished this account of my betrayal, with inflections alternating between a  searing hurt and incredulity. I could glean that rather than the nature of my criticism of her , on which fact she was notoriously uninformative, it was the fact that it was Preeti with whom she had a condescending rivalry , that hurt her. I apologized fulsomely, with humility. She told me that Preeti had said certain things about me to her which sounded , as she communicated them, harsh and malicious. That night Kirtana insisted on the veracity of her friendship to me and succeeded in inducing guilt which i now see as unmerited. There were layers of awareness and repression and among other things the human mind can be very inventive and ingenious in constructing a narrative that corresponds to how one wants to feel and shape reality. Unnerving facts can be conveniently sidestepped , one's own currents of ingratiation and complicity swept under .

All i knew was that the next day i meted out to Preeti, over the course of three days, the same treatment Kirtana had to me that week.