Words weave a confusing maze, too. A loud cobweb of neon reds that doesn’t let you breathe, nor blink. The telephone receiver could very well be a part of the face for future generations.
I miss him because I need a lap to lie down upon. Because I just spent a lot of money taking a cab to Nandan to watch a movie called “I Know Where I’m Going” and when I arrived, all out of breath, I realised that the state electricity minister has passed away and that Nandan is in mourning. No shows today.
I never do justice to the part of me that reacts to such incidents. The part that is dismayed, annoyed and even amused. I tend to respond to the demands of the ghost whispers all around me. Like the woman who used to appear in a TV commercial for the analgesic, Panjon, a voice that asks, “Ab aap kya karoge?”
I ate a sandwich. Ruminated. And then set off for St. Paul’s Cathedral. A beggar woman on the way had a thin sheet struggling to cover her little son. A dented vessel in which the passers by would drop their offerings. A hollow sound echoing their hollow intentions. I walked on by. Found a couple of mute hawkers on the pavement where the path bent right. Jhaalmuri, chhola and nimki. For the mother and her son. As I give her what I bought for them, what stays is the nonchalant look in her eyes and all over her body. She stretches out her hand as a little boy runs to her with a pale blue plastic bottle full of water. She doesn’t look at me again. A momentary clasp around my throat. All that under ten bucks. I saved money where I shouldn’t have, to compensate for the guilt of having splurged where I shouldn’t have.
The cathedral is beautiful. The cathedral needs no explanation. In the absence of his hand on my head, I find myself a huge shelter of love. It’s feverish. The murmurs at the back as you let your weight gently drop on the wooden benches. I’m not here to beg for forgiveness or confess my sins. I’m here because I need to be alone with my sins. The sunlight that reflects off the painted glass. Shards of a brilliant red. The gentle fluorescent green. The sound of footsteps. People who come in to pray. People who are in awe. People who are curious. And people who are here because they have been called.
I am here because I want to speak. And to realise that you can only, truly be silent when you know that God understands you and loves you.
It’s amazing how at the exact moment when a pigeon flew over our heads, I realised once again that I need to communicate. I need to look for a cure for loneliness. I need to express myself. What would be the behavioural equivalent of illumination?
Am I looking for God when I insist that he and I enjoy our meals in silence? Am I looking for God in him? When I yield to temptation and let it wash over me and within? When I pull him towards me ever so gently because a cab just sped past us? When I look at him and pray that he looks back?
And then there are those times when I fall in love with Marianne Dashwood (Kate Winslet’s character in Sense and Sensibility)?
Maybe she did fall in love with Willoughby. Maybe she fell in love with love. But she haunts me with feverish chants, drenched in the rain.
“Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, nor bends with the remover to remove. Oh no, it is an ever fixed mark that looks upon tempests and is never shaken.”
And then again, you leave the Cathedral to face the world outside. And you tell yourself, “Kate Winslet is an Oscar winning actress”.