Tuesday, February 21, 2012

To Lolita

Dear Lo,
Hi. So uh, you’re dead. Okay, I know that is possibly THE worst way to start a letter.
Let’s start again.
How are you doing? It’s been a while. And I guess it’ll be a longer while that passes now before we exchange two minute small talk again. Sorry, that’s depressing. I don’t know what to write or why I’m even typing this right now. Okay, that’s a lie. See, the thing is, I’m going nuts. Really, I’m losing my mind.
See? I told you.
Ever since I heard, there’s been this sick feeling at the pit of my stomach. Almost like I want to throw up but I can’t. That horrid sour feeling of nausea where you feel like you’ve swallowed a particularly large eel and you can’t spit it out. You can’t digest it either, so it’s swimming around in those juices half burned and flopping like mad to get away from all the acid. Trypsin, pancreatic amylase, HCl. The works. Anyway, so that’s how it’s been for me the past couple of days. I’ve been in ths weird dull trance where I feel like everything’s coming at me sloooowly from a mile away. When people talk to me, it’s like they’re just words- floating around mid air that make no earthly sense to me. I have to strain very hard to pay attention and come out with some sort of a comprehensible reply. The funny thing is, I don’t see why it should be like this. I mean, it’s not like we were even close. We had that one conversation that one time after I broke up with Karan. You guys are f- were friends and you didn’t want things to get weird between our social groups. “I like you, R. “, you’d said to me. “I know you’re really pissed off right now, and you Should be. But look at it from his point of view- he’s hurt and mad. And besides, you’re the one who moved on first.” It was true.
Wow. Look at me. Here you are, DEAD and I managed to make this about me. We’re so fucking narcissistic. The Facebook generation- self obsessed, with an inflated sense of our own importance and constantly seeking validation. We know entirely too much about other people’s lives. Heck, I know I’ve spent Hours creeping people whom I didn’t even know because they had beautiful photographs, or because they knew someone I knew, or because I was just curious. I know it’s shameful, but it’s not like you can tell anyone right? Sorry, that was rude. I don’t want to hurt you or anything. But is there even a “you” to hurt? What’s it like now? Is it all over? Is that decomposing tangle of dust and bones and flesh all that’s left of you? Are you dust now? Is Lo over? Or are you some part of this higher, greater energy? Merged with the Paramatma or God or the Cosmos or whatever. Maybe there’s still a Lo somewhere- a weird washed out white version of you looking down on us, like in those cheesy movies and TV shows. I don’t know. Maybe the only Lolita that’s left right now is this one- the one I’m addressing this email to. The one that so many of us are thinking about, the one whom all those facebook posts are addressed to, the one whose mother hasn’t eaten in days. Yeah, Lo? Where are you?


I saw Zoravar today. He looked broken. He gave me the usual hi5 and we went to get a plate of mixed hakka noodles from A/C Milan. We sat on the broken steps on top of the basement slide and looked at the bustling crowd at Worldview. Some familiar faces, the majority unknown but vaguely recognizable. We sat there for quite a while- almost an hour I think, not talking. After a while Zo got up and brought us chaa. We sipped in companionable silence. That milky tea in the little red paper cups is one of my favourite things about college. It’s kind of like a feature by itself. I have a nose, college has milky tea.
L, did you know I liked Zo? I mean, I REALLY liked him. That boy is one of the nicest I have ever come across. He’s as good as they get.  With the scruffy jeans and the white teeth, and the easy smile- he’s the most laid back person I’ve ever met. He NEVER gets het up. Not to say he’s a stereotypical stoner dude- he doesn’t just zone out like most of the Arts guys you see lolling about at Worldview. With their bright clothes and colourful sunglasses, there’s a continuous haze of smoke that accompanies them. Sometimes I feel like the smoke that you can see issuing out of their mouths in a continuous stream, takes with it a part of their minds. Slowly seeping out, all the while they’re dreaming.  Lulling them into this wooly smug complacency. They’re smart of course, else they wouldn’t be here in the first place. Crème of the crop. And what are they doing? Talking, talking, smoking up and removing themselves from the everyday, the mundane. They live in clouds of Morrison and ride on waves of Rilke. But you know the other day when that very-serious-filmmaker-fellow came around, Guha something- they wouldn’t stir. He was making some kind of documentary on the whole slutwalk phenomenon that was sweeping the globe at the time. On whether it really made a difference and what we as students, as the idealistic young citizens could do. Rape is something everyone would like to see end, right? It’s universally despised. But these people didn’t stir. Some of them sniggered at his earnestness (and he Was terribly earnest. Perspiring in the heat, he had beads of sweat running from his forehead joining in little rivulets, disappearing down his collar. His glasses were a little foggy from all the humidity and there were sweat patches on his kurta, from dragging the heavy camera around). But still. He was trying to DO something. He rose out of the cloud of self absorption that tends to envelope us all, and he was actually thinking of someone other than himself. OR, what do I know, maybe he was just thinking of the acclaim he could get if the documentary qualified for the Marrchis Festival.
Still. STILL. He was doing Something. And all the rest of them in their brightly coloured scarves and authentic wooden jewelery, with their Dylan and their Dali had done nothing, nothing, NOTHING to speak of. This phenomenon just infuriates me sometimes. I’m not much better, but at least want to DO something.  I don’t want to lull myself to sleep till I can’t feel anything, can’t care about anything other than myself. Art is good, art is a reason for living. But there has to be something to life other than aesthetic pleasures. It is not enough to capture a smile in a photograph, when you have the opportunity to keep that smile in place. Drifters. That’s what they are. Anisha had told me once, very matter of factly, “You know Sen and all are more of the floating around variety. They’d much rather drift than actually jump up and get their hands dirty.”
I can’t stand over-sincerity. REALLY stereotypically cute kids or REALLY disciplined people make my hands itch to SLAP them. But drifting shoudn’t be all there is to life, no?
I’m just neurotic, I guess. Don’t know what I want, perpetually dissatisfied. And I talk too- I talk big in my head, and I’ve accomplished less than I imagine I could. But I was telling you about liking Zoravar! I guess that’ll have to wait now. The sun’s dipped low and I have an essay due tomorrow. At least you don’t have to write 1000 words on the Conflict Resolution Policy of Kotenany Radio.


Dear L,
Have you heard Heartbreak Warfare? I kow John Mayer is touted to be Dylan for dumb girls, but his voice is delicious, and he’s a pretty solid blues guitarist. Also, sometimes, he has a knack for hitting the nail right on the head.

“ Drop his name
Push it in and twist the knife again
Watch my face
As I pretend to feel no pain”

That’s how I felt about Zo and you. I promised you, I’d tell you about liking him, na? It’s better this way- somewhat like a confessional of the things I’ve never even admitted fully to  myself. Laying awake at night, muffling sobs into the pillow like a hysterical girl in a melodramatic soap. Most of the time I tried not to think about him. Because if I started fantasizing, I could go on all day weaving elaborate stories where it was me he’d put his arm around, where he’d come up quietly behind me and rest his head on my shoulder, kiss me softly on the cheek,. Then I’d abruptly snap out of it, all the fantasy induced euphoria seeping out of me, leaving me cold and feeling pathetic. That’s the price you pay for being creative, I guess. Sometimes I feel like I live vicariously inside my head and I fail to, or worse, I don’t even Try to make all that into a reality.
Of course, I couldn’t have made Zo and me into reality. Squabbling over boys is just not something I could ever do. It seems so petty, and high school. Stuff we’re supposed to have outgrown. Besides, he was happy with you. You were pretty and skinny and spunky. You had this straightforwardness about you- what you saw was what you got. Sure, you didn’t bother going too deep. I guess you felt like that took more effort than what it was worth. To be honest, I don’t fully understand what he saw in you. No offence, I’m obviously being a jealous bitch here, but you can allow me that. After all, it was YOU he was dating. I could keep my gripes to myself. I never understood why you hung out with the group you did. So much drama, so much exhibitionism, backbiting, and precious little sense. Life was a party, and what did it matter who you were with, as long as you were having fun. Is that what you thought? Did you even think about it at all? Did Puja’s lack of conversation skills bother you? SO much shit-talking, so much randomness, NEVER making any sense or saying anything of consequence. I hung out with you guys once or twice, back when Suze and I were still close. She admitted that the group could be lame, but at least it was fun. You guys used to be close, up until a month before you – you know.  She declared that she hated you for being a miserable little hypocrite. She was quite venomous in her anger, and you feigned ignorance about WHY exactly she was so upset. You stopped speaking. She wasn’t at the party when it happened. She heard on the phone later. This is all hearsay since I’m not friends with her anymore either. 
Getting back to Zo, I hope you treasured every moment you had with him. I know he could be aloof sometimes, but I’d ascribe that more to his thinking about a zillion things at once, rather than deliberate meanness. I know you guys argued a lot. Strange for someone like Zo, who never raised his voice, who would just smile mockingly when someone started getting worked up. Zo has his convictions and he sticks to them, but I’ve never seen him lose his temper to the extent where he looks foolish.
Being with Zo is like being in the shade. Under the branch of a tree, next to a pool. It’s like rest, like peace, like stillness. Not a boring stillness, and of course you know that. You guys were together for a year. A year that started with Zo and you meeting at Maddie’s 20th. Your eyes met across the dance floor through the haze of smoke. Zo was sitting on a beanbag at one end, drinking a beer. Your eyes must have skimmed over the smallish girl talking to him, who kept glancing at him hesitantly, when he wasn’t looking. She was wondering if he would get up to dance at any point, and panicking a little inside because she had two left feet. She kept adjusting her dress, conscious of the hint of cleavage she was displaying for the first time in her life. But mostly, she was just happy to be sitting there talking to the boy she was falling for. You must have looked at us there, seen Suze laughing with us and rejoiced at this window of opportunity.
Suddenly you were there, stunning us with your red hair and exuberance. You gave Suze a one-armed hug, balancing your drink, and then introduced yourself to Zo and me.  You spoke to all of us for a while about Maddie, college and how odd it was that we hadn’t met before. “Well, we’re meeting now”, Zo said with his trademark smile. 5 minutes of small talk later, you had pulled Zo up to his feet, handed his half-finished beer to me to hold, and dragged him to the dance floor. I didn’t see much of him after that for a few weeks, when he announced to me that you guys were dating. He flopped down beside me on the grass of a college field and told me with a very sheepish expression on his face. I looked down at the grass so he wouldn’t see the eyes that I was sure would betray me. “So that’s what it is”, I said. “I was wondering about the reason for your disappearing act”. “Yeah. “ He grinned like a schoolboy with a packet of gummybears. “She’s been taking up all my energy”. Of course it broke my heart to see him so oblivious and happy. ‘Broke my heart’ is such a trite expression na? It doesn’t really Mean anything. It doesn’t capture the blood suddenly rushing to your ears and making them warm, the muscles of your face that just won’t form a smile, the blood suddenly turned sluggish in your veins, or the dull pounding in your head. I did the only thing I could do. I ran. I congratulated him, gathered up my scattered books and ran to a nonexistent seminar that I said I absolutely HAD to attend.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

n who,xcpt 4 a single-faced beautiful soul cn break n unbreak oneself constantly?