Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bright Star

Have you ever had this feeling? Looking at an old photograph of someone you know and love and wondering who they used to be before you ever knew them.

I tell myself he's essentially the same person - those same beloved features that can be traced now with the mind's eye. But the familiar crinkles at the corners of his eyes are missing from the still carefree smile that he's carried over into adulthood. The intent look in his dark eyes with his luxuriant eyelashes that gives him his mildly Byronic, unintentionally serious air, which was the first thing that I ever noticed about him, is already present in this photograph. The hair is almost a golden brown in this evening light, and there's more of it. The posture is one thing that's remarkably different. That ramrod straight back I am so accustomed to seeing slouches ever-so-slightly forward in the photo. The shoulders seem to have become rounded as they so often do with tall people trying to shrink themselves when photographed around considerably shorter people.

What I love most about this photograph is his hands. He clasps them together in a gesture rather frequently seen in school pictures - it's something I remember Chaitanya used to do in class photos, too. To me, it's my favourite thing about him here. This familiar quirk that my brother and this boy from half a world away have in common.

He is impatient for the picture to be taken perhaps. He's probably waiting to go back to play with his friends. In the background is a field of green grass and far off, a mountain. A school picnic in all probability.

I wonder what he must've been like at that age, more than fifteen years ago. I wonder if we'd have been friends had we met then. Likely not. What would we have talked about? At that age, a seven year age difference is unconquerable conversation-wise.

He looks like someone unfinished to my eyes. Like a pencil drawing waiting to be coloured in with crayons. And I marvel at how time sculpts us and we continually morph into different people who are too engrossed to notice its effect until much later. I tell him this and he smiles. The same smile from the photograph in my hands. I want to touch his face and tell him how glad I am for things that time doesn't change. But I can't muster enough courage yet, it would be too intimate too early I think. I decide to look some more at the old photograph instead.

"Look how tall I was at thirteen!" he exclaims. I nod. Outside it looks like the rain has stopped. "Would you like to go get some chai?" he asks. It's almost dawn. The sky is still overcast. But I can see the brightest star in the sky. "I used to look at it from the roof of my house in the summertime." he whispers in my ear. "Me too. It's always there when you look up. Even in Bombay." I whisper back.

I want to tell him what an amazing night I've had talking to him. But the tea is too hot and I scald my tongue. I need to get started with my morning collections. I say goodbye and start to walk away. "Hey Kari!" he calls behind me. "Good morning!" and he smiles. I laugh at that greeting and think to myself that this is a moment I shall always hold in my mind, much like that old photograph that I realise I've forgotten to return to him.

P.S. This was written on 15th July 2011 at 10:38 AM and thought of as too sentimental to put up on the blog. But I suppose tonight I'm too overwhelmed by the memory to care about the sentimentality.


Aayushi Mehta said...

Glad you put it up.

I still can't get over how well you write, at times.

Arumugam said...

Simply WOW! Beautifully poignant..

I was just reading an anthology by Indian writers,Urban Shots.You really must think of contributing to future editions!:-)

Jester said...

memories bring out the best writing, and this one is beautiful!!

Astha said...

I just love this one :)
Your posts are surreal!

Also, I wanted to ask you: Why is your blog's title 'Why is everything four?' :)

Sinduja said...

I simply have no words. I sincerely believe you should try your hand at publishing fiction. These words could have easily passed for one written by a famous household name. Truly shows you lived the moment of the experience and your words have a way of making us live through them as well, and that in my opinion, is the benchmark of brilliance in writing! :)

Tangled up in blue... said...

Aayushi, your poetry gives me the exact same sensation! :)

Arumugam, thank you so much for that awesome comment. If it does happen for me one day, I'll tell everyone that you're my first ever fan! :)

Jester, indeed! :)

Tangled up in blue... said...

Astha, thank you! And well, only one person's asked me that question before. There are two reasons for it actually. This is the fourth iteration of my blog. There were three earlier versions called Once Upon A Time, Two Tales, I loved three men called Pablo and this fourth one is called 'Why is everything four?' as a play on the question 'What is everything for?' that my brother often likes to ask me.

Tangled up in blue... said...

Sinduja, thank you so much. That is the best compliment anyone's paid me so far. I would really really love to write a my memoirs one day, I've already thought of a title. I want it to be like a collection of character sketches of the most intriguing people I've met in my life so far. :) Maybe I'll luck out! Fingers crossed. :D

R said...

Y'know, I found your blog circa 'I loved three men called Pablo' because I was seeing this guy called Pablo at the time, and one very jobless afternoon I googled 'Pablo'. I always wanted to ask- who were the three? Picasso, Neruda and?

R said...

Shameful confession: At point I was scared that you were an intelligent ex. Of course you weren't :p

Tangled up in blue... said...

Riddhi, I did not know that! :D The third one was a photographer called Pablo Bartholomew. I always loved the pictures he took. :) And well, I wouldn't have minded being thought of as an 'intelligent' ex really. ;)

S. Susan Deborah said...

I want to see that photograph.

Joy always,

Sinduja said...

Okay... I might sound like a sycophant but I just want to say this - I really love the way you respond to comments. They seem to exude so much of warmth and sincerity. And for someone like me who can be quite egoistic (trying to get over it), I have ceased to even read many blogs simply because their comments seemed very shallow, superficial and for-the-sake-of-it.

True, they didn't mean any offense but then, you can never separate the blog from the person (or at least the person you perceive them to be); and the way the blogger responds goes a long way in defining them to the reader.

That way, hats off to you! This shall be your path to glory and I have learned something today! :)

Arumugam said...

I too wanted to say that for a long long time:-)You really take out the time to respond in a thoughtful and meaningful way that make your comments a joy to read like your posts :-) And since I dont maintain a blog (yet),the joy of interaction and exchange of thoughts ,ideas, perspectives through comments is the only thing that makes it feel like a 2 way street for me.I am so grateful for your blog:-)If I ever do have a blog someday,I'll know how it is to be done:-)

Tangled up in blue... said...

Susan, I actually did return that photograph to him later. I thought it would have been too rom-commish and corny to keep it forever. ;) But don't you think my description evokes it rather well? :)

Sinduja, aww! Thank you! I actually never considered it, you know. The whole comment-responding bit. But I think that honestly if someone's taken the thought and time to say something to you, it'd be weird not to talk back, you know what I mean? Besides if you knew me in real life, too, or if you heard from my friends, they'd tell you that it is very difficult to get me to stop talking and to actually end a conversation, and that I love to have the last word! :D Maybe it's that which is responsible but I think it's amazing the way the comments section on your blog turns out as well. I can actually comment on some of the awesome comments your posts inspire. :)

Tangled up in blue... said...

Arumugam, thank you! Might I say you're one of my all-time favourite commenters (or is it commentators?) on my blog! I had another fellow blogger called Ketan who used to write these very involved and analytic comments on my posts and sometimes they'd be longer than my posts and I wondered if something I wrote even deserved that much mulling over. :D

But I sincerely feel that you'd be an awesome blogger should you decide to start a blog of your own in the near future I hope! You always have so much to share with me that I really look forward to your comments.

Please do start up a blog, really really soon so I can return the favour! :)

Gustaf Valström said...

Your writing is as always very skillful but the evident warmth and the flashes of humour are very you. It is like following a vivid and affectionate stream-of-consciousness to read this.

To switch to a less impersonal tone, these lines - "He looks like someone unfinished to my eyes. Like a pencil drawing waiting to be coloured in with crayons." - simply take my breath away.

And it is not schmaltzy or sentimental at all. It is sweet, gentle and moving enough to reach out through a computer screen and touch hearts.

I have something to show to you. Check your inbox. :))

Tangled up in blue... said...

Gus, you know, one of the reasons I think I'd be a very mediocre fiction writer is because I'm very bad at getting rid of this very distinctive "me" voice. But I shall try. And thank you! :) Thank you for everything you said. And on my way! :D

Sakshi said...

Just suffice to say this.
You are AWESOME!

Tangled up in blue... said...

Sakshi, aww! Thank you! :) The feeling is absolutely mutual! ;)

--Sunrise-- said...

I feel this so, so much. Dear girl, HOW you manage to evoke feelings in me I thought long dead is beyond me! But move on we all must. I am glad you found the strength to post this. Funny this, that you're posting all these old memories in one corner of the world, while I am sitting in the other corner of the world slowly removing those 'senti' posts from my blog because I felt they have stayed there and scarred me for long enough. Funny how life shapes out, eh.

And by the way, this was not in the least "too sentimental" - like someone I think mentioned above, it is like a gentle breeze of sweet and simple emotions, capturing the raw innocence, love and simplicity that you yourself must have felt on looking at that photograph. I bet you will never forget the taste of that tea on your tongue-tip... and you never should, either, in my humble opinion. :)

I love your writing and I love this!