Monday, May 16, 2011

I’d purchase a trailer – one of those with beige exteriors, yellowed by too much exposure to the sun. I’d want it used, I’d want that dried paint under its windows to look rusted and pale - too decayed to move, too absolute in its immobiliness to resemble a car.
I’d come across it, and know, that it’s here- the place I’d be able to empty those bruised leftovers that once were potential expressions perishing at the tip of my tongue, unspoken, and behind my palms, unwritten.
I imagine I’d stand there, looking at it until the shades of trees become duller and fuller, because I wouldn’t be able to decide if I’d choose to paint it royal blue or that Indigo of a night spent on the beach.
I’d decide then to smear “Cap ou pas Cap” on one back, with the grimmest of blacks, that of dice dots and “i “ ‘s in contract signatures. I’d dare it then, to show me the life that sneaked out underneath my doors one Monday afternoon while I was too busy sharpening my pencils to look for suitcases.
I’d vacuum its floor right about then, just to hear that sound of it turning into a living accommodation. I’d buy shades not curtains, and an out-of-place looking fridge I’ve spotted once and wondered what worldly sensible house would place an England-flagged item in its kitchen. But there, I’d contain them all- the odd, the misfit, and reject, animate or not. And on its contrived interior, I’d frame,
I’d plaster two photographs; one of a black and white Road billboard of 1930 branch of Dunkin Doughnuts, and the other of a crowded airport gate.
Nothing more to it,
to that trailer I’d drag to the end of the world by its rusty handle. All those acres of forests I’d dreamed of touching upon lightly, and thrift stores in the middle of nowheres, that sell crisps in orange packets and sodas in retro cans.
Nothing more to it than a child, who poured milk in see-through glasses and stepped on charcoal just to glimpse an adventure, an escape, a gateway where stories were told, somewhere out there.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

To: World,
on a disposed paper plane

Look at him, sleeping with a hand over his ear, fending away the thousand-legged spider, and another under the pillow clutching a toothbrush, a keychain, and his Mama’s wristwatch. Behind his closed eyelids, he’s counting, not sheep, but miracles. One, he says – the way my father laughs. Two, he says- the way my bed hovers like a spacecraft in the dark. Three, he smiles – the way my sister pronounces my name.
Look at him, World,
but don’t you dare touch him.
Look at him, placing his dinosaurs all around the house – under the armchair, to shield his Mama’s friends, behind the photo frame, to look out for memory thieves. He sifts them by color, for the orange, long-necked one is the closest to his heart, and the blue winged one, can barely fly after his injury. He cries sometimes, for him, “ But why can’t you move?”, He cries sometimes, for his Mama, “ But why can’t you see?”, and he cries sometimes, for you too, world “ But why can’t I be an object?”
His Mama once told him the story of Pinocchio, the wooden toy, who strived to be a boy. “ But why, can’t I be a toy?”,
And he asks me for a story, about a toy, named Ali. And I tell him, about a universe called Ali. He laughs, and I see my reflection in his glazed eyes.
“ Tell it again,” He says,
Once upon a time, I start
But where is Ali, he interrupts
He’s in the story,
But why isn’t he THE story?
Once upon an Ali,
I start again
And he laughs, and the laughter never dies down in his throat, and he laughs some more.
In Ali, there lived the most absurd of creatures,
And he sits properly again, and his hands are in his lap, and his smile grows some more.
There was the three-eyed monster,
There was the ball of fur,
There was the crocodile who speak songs.

Because in Ali, there lived the most absurd of creatures!
He shrieks out loud,
And the blue winged dinosaur can fly again!
In Ali, everything flies. I tell him, and he gasps.

Look at him, world, but don’t you dare touch him. Those tiny hands that know not how to build or maim, but how to extract life for life, would one day, be the ultimate change you’d been doomed to neglect.
So, world, take me,
Take all my dreams, memories, and well-built notions,
But world,
Don’t you ever dare, touch him

Sincerely yours,

Sunday, May 01, 2011

“20 Authors under 40” – profile photos depicting the illustrations of those who inked it down, somewhere between their medical school training and insurance jobs. My mind scans in detail - that high collared shirt, that African American afro, that copper necklace.
Writers, I know them – there’s depth in every facet, there’s meaning in purchase choices, there’s a stretch of possibility, there’s a story, there’s a plot right there. There are words in a salesman’s vest, there are words in Fire alarms and cinema tickets, there are words in the mundane; carpools, laundry rooms, and clinics .I turn the page to the snippets of their interviews.

Where were you born? Washinton D.C
Where do you live now? San Francisco
Where were you born? Lima, Peru
Where do you live now? Oakland, California
Where were you born? Nigeria
Where do you live now? Columbia

In precision, I see them. Moving large pieces of furniture in their new apartments, washing dishes after their dozen takeout orders ran out, and stacking plastic bags into corners.
I see them, walking unto life as if on a straight line, a foreign beginning to an unprecedented end. And I see their words- definite, and new; emerging from inexplicable depths shadowing that straight line they walked on.
One life- and they’ve lived.
One life, and they’ve seen its heights when they waited alone in airports, and skimmed through newspapers with enlarged-metaphors for a name, only writers would scoff at; “ The sun” ,“ The spotlight”, and “ The Voice”.
One life, and they’ve had sharpened pencils everywhere, and they wrote as the neighbor told them about somebody else’s tragedy; and they wrote as they’ve heard ambulances on distant nights, and they wrote as they dropped orange peels from the window, and they wrote as they stepped on sewage systems, and they wrote while it rained, and they wrote some more.

And I envy them some more.
One life, and I walk upon circles.
One life, and I stretch experiences until they break on the rims.
One life, and the potential of words die down inside of me.
One life, and the only certainty I know, is how much I don’t.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

If it was as simple as a clean slate, as flat as an expandable storage box- if this world was as detachable as Lego pieces and as reproductive as Russian dolls;
it’d be easy to slice that part of it I’ve always envisioned to own, and carve a new way through. It’d be just easy, to allow everything outside that slice to self-destruct – every nation with it’s red-taped borders, every alley, every government, every student with a too-void backpack and a too-stuffed lunchbox, every grocery store, every street wiped clean off ‘vandalism’, every teacher with a too straight-lined planbook and a too-relevant lesson, every musician with a too-hollow guitar case, every gift shop, every emergency room, every furniture shop with too-little furniture, every resort, every library gathering dust, and just about everything, as much as the word ‘everything’ is capable of bearing.
Yes, I’d let it all saturate itself into non-existence for then, with my own slice intact, I will no longer care.
In that slice of mine though, their ‘nothing’ would be the core of it all; that insanity they ridiculed would be the coastline of my self-proclaimed nation; their too-shabby artists would be its guards, and their too-cynical, too-curious, too-questioning, paranoid youth would be it’s population of 5000. I’d foresee to it all.
For I know someone, who’d be the Head of Education. Someone who’d create portable Schools, with students boarding trains and Fairies, instead of sitting behind scratched-off wooden desks, 1st graders with their copies of “Joody Moody” clutched protectively under their arms, and 5th graders reciting Lorca and writing lines of Darwish’s final words at the back of their hands instead of patriotic anthems and face-painted flags. I know, she’d foresee to all of that. I know, her students, wouldn’t fathom the chemical reactions of a formula but would know the language of despair in Monet’s paintings, and the undeniable tragedy behind Yanni’s compositions. They’d sleep at night with legends under their beds, and stars crashing down on them, too-few to collect, too-many to wish upon. They’d know, her students, they’d know God, they’d know him so well, and would touch upon him, every time they’d listen to her speak.

I also know someone, who’d be the Head of it’s law; Someone who’d build courts with thresholds made of thin steel instead of Golden Gargoyles, and hire lawyers with Comic-stripped ties, neon-colored socks, and opening arguments rimmed with shreds of door-to-door human interaction rather than prospects of bold first page newspaper titles. Someone who’d build prisons with book-bricked walls and issue personal hand-written verdicts; someone whose law would enable street artists and add new color palettes to their buckets. I know she’d foresee to it all; to see citizens with hopscotch-traces beneath their shoes and fathers impersonating Columbus down the streets. I know she cradles reason with one arm, and that utter raw humanity one weeps in the other; justice, would be that man by the door humming “ Somewhere over the rainbow”, justice would be that little boy writing a riddle for a stranger in the subway, justice would be that woman reading “ Kafka on the shore” next to her stroller. Justice would be, and would for centuries that come.

I also know someone who’d be the Head of it’s politics ; Someone who’d choose to invert meaning, into a new form of creation where politics, wouldn’t be in the hand of that tight-suited politician at the end of the mahogany table ,but in the firm grip of that long-haired musician, who wears a Morrissey T-shirt and vows to bring Kurt Kobain back to life. He’d be her politics; yes, he’d be that authority to bring forth foreign policies and dissect national securities, he’d be that person with ink-smudged thumbnails of nights spent writing lyrics and that person who stands on high podiums and shrieks “ liberty” and “ independence”. She’d know how to rewrite that notion of politics, she’d know how to jumble letters, and make it sound like that delicate piece of music she allows herself to touch every now and then – the voice of a human soul, that piano, that violin, that cello, that hard-rock drum, that politics of hers.

Jonathan Safran Foer once wrote, “If there is no love in the world, we will make a new world, and we will give it heavy walls, and we will furnish it with soft red interiors, from the inside out, and give it a knocker that resonates like a diamond falling to a jeweler's felt so that we should never hear it”

Thursday, March 24, 2011

At times, I find myself in Munich,
one summer two years back.
In that apartment we lodged in; located at the far end on the last floor of the building. The ceiling was slightly low - an inverted roof that shaped the space underneath.
The kitchen was in between the rooms- a door that takes you into a more proportioned area than what first met the eye.
At night, I’d lie in bed, vigil, unaccustomed to Insomnia in a barren, white-walled room; No, it wasn’t that familiar Insomnia which usually hauls itself on my chest as the clock pass the realms of 00:00. It was distinct – for instead of the usual rhythm of my dysfunctional Air conditioner, it’s a draft of air – coming from an old-fashioned portable fan , circling the room in a full-round before it lands back on my face; and those bedsheets- their ends too crisp, their surfaces too smooth, like that creased midpoint of a finger ; wrinkling sharply as you lay your hands straight, and evening out like a bland slate as you bend it.
But then, something happens as dawn settles in , through that rectangular window in the kitchen. There’s this dim blueness, this sifted light, that laces everything it touches – the half-opened cereal box at the corner appears grand all of a sudden.
I remember I’d get out of bed, and to the kitchen. Push that wooden chair close to the window, with my copy of Jodi Picoult’s “ Second Glance” at the time, and read about ghost hunts and Native americans until my bitten fingertips were numb. I’d stop at times and look at the identical chimneys and brown roofs outside, oblivious to the city under the bricks.I remember wondering if they were ever red, and if war, and human terror dismantled their color hues during the sullen Nazi era.
In those confined few minutes, between daylight and the recoil of night – In that solitude, and with that unusual and foreign scenery right in front of me, I felt invincible.
I imagined I lived alone,
I imagined that those items in the Kitchen were solely my choices, that Milk carton in the fridge was for the coffee I’d make every morning, and that table was the place where I laid open newspaper drafts and circled mistakes with a ballpoint pen. I remember, the scenarios I loved to weave, the details I added, and how sudden thuds from the other rooms, dismantled everything as quick as I perfected it.

Was a March –
A spring day that brought me into existence once,
And, I made a wish,
To have a Munich Dawn, every now, and then.

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