A day in my life

This is an image of various objects on a table. They include a map, a globe and ink. I've used this image because it symbolizes life and my post is about a day in my life.

I get stoned these days; not an intentional, ‘I need to get high,’ stoned, but I struggle with migraines, skin rashes and cold, and I’m on cough syrups and antihistamines. Maybe I take an extra swig of the syrup because I’m tired, and just want the day to get over. But I’m not sure. I went to the departmental store to pick up an energy drink and found myself staring at the woman behind the counter. It wasn’t because she’s hot or anything, I basically looked right through her with dilated pupils, while she kept asking me for some details. I liked standing there, while people rushed in and out, surrounding me, but then I couldn’t do the catatonic thing forever, and so I snapped out of it, paid her, and left. I then went to a small tea shop and bought some cigarettes, and drank my lemon tea, and suddenly that whole light, euphoric buzz started becoming something ugly, just like the sickening feeling you get when you smoke too much bad weed. And so, I didn’t finish my tea, paid the guy quickly and walked home. It’s like certain places give me this cool solitude and gentle atmosphere when I’m high, but other places just make me feel sick and nauseated. But I don’t really need to get high. I’m usually a total recluse who loves solitude, and when I get it, my mood and being shifts into something ethereal, and I feel like I’m floating, suspended in mid-air, or defeating gravity. I had a friend preach to me today while I was catching up on blog posts. He basically judged me and said that I’m doing nothing with my life. I guess he’s both right and wrong. He’s right in a superficial sense, but in a deeper sense, I don’t want to lead his life: Working as a software engineer, drinking like a fish, gambling and then preaching the prosperity gospel in some hysterical charismatic church. He takes a half-day vacation, and then gets up and goes to work. Fuck! If you’re taking a break at least make it four days is my motto. But hell, who am I to judge? Live and let live, I guess. The problem with him is that he won’t stop arguing until he has the last say, and so, I just blocked him. Let him think he won the argument and ‘humbled’ me, or whatever. I guess I’ll read a little Fitzgerald tonight and then hit the sack. I’m sort of nonchalant now, and I like that too. Anything’s better than paranoia or neurosis. But as I dig deeper, I’ve realized that my subconscious and conscious mind got merged at some point in my life. So regardless of if I’m writing or talking, I’m passively spilling words out. And when I’m walking, I’m mechanically crossing the street. All my actions are passive. Even my strength is a passive strength. It’s never an active grit. Maybe it’s a good thing, or maybe not, but I’m past caring.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Being and not-being

This is an image of a grey background. I've chosen it because it symbolizes apathy which is central theme around which my post revolves.

He wakes up at one in the afternoon these days, walks to the dinner table, pops his prescription, nonchalantly, not caring anymore about bubblegum skin, sawed off hair, or bloodshot eyes that itch. Having said that, he does look perfectly fine. His gait is a little knock-kneed, perhaps it’s another side effect or it’s just this self-imposed malnutrition. He picks up his iPod and plays an EP called Re-Traced by Cynic. They’re this progressive rock band with eclectic influences, a little jazzy, a little groovy, with passages that are a little metal sounding and others that are a little mellow. He prefers them to Dream Theater though most will win an argument about which band is better. He doesn’t care about petty squabbles or disputes anymore though. I’m not sure he cares about anything anymore. They say everyone worships something, and it’s often either something materialistic or another person, or themselves, but he begs to differ. Perhaps he worships solitude, or apathy, but then again he stopped giving that thought any room a long time ago. Thoughts often turn into equations that need balancing, or puzzles that need solving, and so he just lets a non-linear sequence of ideas or the lack of them place themselves in those alleys of his mind, now neglected. He walks to the kitchen and uses a sharp knife to cut open a packet of milk. He can’t be bothered about finding the scissors anymore. A bit spills on the floor, which he can’t be bothered cleaning up. He pours the milk into a large glass, pours some coffee into it, mixes it, and goes to his balcony and drinks it while he puffs on a cigarette. Once he’s done, he grabs whichever book he can find and reads at a stretch, losing his identity and sense of self, and then some inner clock makes him go to the shower, strip and let the lukewarm water wash away yesterday’s grime. He does this without concentrating, and then brushes his teeth, which are slightly ashen now. He wears a shirt and a jean and it’s already seven in the evening. He goes to a pub, and dances with a girl who’s very attractive and alluring: her slightly cascading hair, her somewhat lean frame and her top and jean entices him. She gives him his number after a few drinks and he tells her that he’ll call her tomorrow. He keeps his promise and she arrives at his apartment the next day and they make love. She’s great in bed and it’s a treat, and there is a part of her that is attracted to him. Perhaps she wants more than an evening spent together, but he’s too jaded for a relationship or even a fling. He politely shifts the conversation to something else until she leaves a little frustrated. A lot of women are attracted to him, and he doesn’t know why, and can’t really spend time reasoning and figuring out the solution. In this millennial age, they’d probably call it no game-game, but he doesn’t give dating that much thought. He moves from woman to woman, each possessing their unique charm, their unique vibe that he senses, though not thoroughly, and perhaps his disregard for existence makes him an enigma to them. But in the end, he prefers the wall of his bathroom, his cigarette, and his own space and time, which exists both within and outside the clock. Some might call this sort of thing nihilism with a slight bent to degeneracy, but labels don’t define him, and that’s the freedom that divides him from the romance that spills from a screen into life. Even the books he loses himself in don’t really shape him, and that’s the emancipation from syllables, vowels or nouns: the stream of thought that does not run parallel to lines of poetry with meter. He rests now at three in the night, and as he shuts his eye, a sense of closure unlike love, belief or the need to work envelops him. He does work and often changes jobs, but he distances himself from the grit and yet functions just fine. I guess this is a different transcendence without the need for self-actualization. And I don’t judge the man or his lifestyle.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Post Tenebras Lux

This is an image of the aurora borealis. I've chosen this image because it's surreal and augments my post which is full of abstract symbolism.

They gather in a pristine room, spotless and immaculate, and unsullied places don’t haunt; it’s the clique that I can’t tolerate with teeth a little too transparent like glass, unwarranted piety which spells ‘duplicity’ in pitch-black on a serpentine tongue, rolled back, while gums either bold red or plain pink, flap or keep mute. They’re a book club that basks in self-proclaimed ‘esoteric’ gnosis with a pride that rages, howls, screams and shrieks. “The rest aren’t like us,” they scoff with a Pharisaic, “Our Father is Abraham,” philistinism, which only defeats them. “See man! For crying aloud! See!” I’d like to yell, and I recently somewhat did, and the leader and I had an anti-tête-à-tête, a war of the worlds and the words (or the Word) and I unmasked his contempt, disrespect and disregard, while he retreated like a turtle into a shell of armored self-righteousness. The thing about peering into people’s minds and intuiting, before using a justified sociopathy to manipulate the puppeteer that strings narrow or open-minded thoughts dangling and dancing to the tune of consciousness is simple: Know the hierarchy, know where you stand with respect to their mind’s eye, and upset it until their mind sees spots, because when you do that, they’ll regress immediately. “Him! I thought this scoundrel was beneath me! This bastard of all people!” They’ll exclaim with shrieks of a wounded ego, with cuts of that switch-blade still seething. And you can use a switch-blade of contempt, or sardonicism, or disregard, but cleverly use it. It doesn’t take physics for you to know that each action has a reciprocation. And here’s the question: Can you handle the heat with swashbuckling passive ardor? Ardor of a gym and protein shake variety breaks you in the long run: You become a one-dimensional pugilist, with a frigid, sore body, inflexible, and unable to stretch without breaking something. And I think we all know that tattoos and piercings are a statement or a proclamation; never the real deal.

So, I’m done with him, and then there’s the second point. Why do men lack love for absolute beauty? I lack it myself. I love finitude with its imperfection, but infinite absolute love, I can’t make myself love. I guess it’s reprobation. But if it’s that, then our notion of the absolute has flaws, because if the absolute hates, then beauty and wrath are connected. You delight in the wrath too if you truly love the absolute, but I can’t, and I can’t live one moment drinking the fiercest black coffee and looking up with an energy drink passion, and then be wishy-washy. So, it’s cold. But was it ever my choice? The butcher of Geneva will say never. But let this be. So, what now? I look to philosophy, literature, music and the higher pursuits given to finitude. I find in them a kind of cleansing. A baptism of sorts: Out with years of my own Janus-faced religiosity, and now I wear a multi-colored Joseph’s coat of ideas, theories, jazz, soft cadences, and abstractions. But must I trade this coat for one of a pure hue? That will be absolute foolishness. Please note the pun. When I’m not confronted with the absolute anymore, I embrace the abstract or the vague, and stay open to change, and the shift in balance of my inner dimension. And I call this a regeneration, or me wearing a new avatar.

Finally, ah! The question of all questions: The future? Right now, yes, it’s veiled by a curtain of doubt, and no, you don’t become what you think or feel. So will the journey end in an exclamation, a euphoric, “Post Tenebras Lux indeed!” Is it a part-time, “Well, it pays the bills?” Is it a book – the dream, finally a reality, and enough to live off the craft? Or is it a tougher, hard ground, “This is the last thing I wanted, but I don’t have a choice?” Or is it, “Take away the itch, until you lull me to sleep, while I spot trains until I die?” Or is it, “Fuck this! Come, get this emaciated self, but though my bones break, and my beard grows, though my head throbs, and I bleed, my fucking heart’s made of steel! So, come! Fucking come!” Whatever, the answer is, the key to life is the journey: each step, victories or defeats, “Yes, I did it!” Or, “I’m fucking comatose,” and looking at the long road behind, and not the short one, and with that I’ll end.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Crossroads

This is an image of crossroads when viewed from above. I've chosen it because it depicts the penultimate scene in my story where an abuser finally reflects at the crossroads before sadly returning to his old ways.

He grew up in a semi-urban, hot and humid neighborhood in India, and prided himself more in his caste than in his ethnicity. He believed that the term, ‘Brahmin’, brought with it a plethora of intelligence that fate denied men of other castes. He feasted on his social status, and the wisdom that the gods bestowed on the ‘chosen few’ or to use an Anglicized term, the ‘elect’ because his parents taught him exactly that: His father, an archetypal ruler of the household, erect and stiff-necked, and his mother, immersed in making sure prayers with bells ringing, and honey and milk were attended to with intricate detail. Both his parents believed in omens and the right alignment of the stars and called it ‘science’.

As he grew up, he lived his dream of making money, and making his parents proud, and giving them something to boast about, which was his father’s dream, and which in turn will be his son’s dream. He got the grades necessary, applying his acute intelligence, and won a scholarship abroad. He landed in the Bible belt, and lived there with a Southern Baptist family for the duration of his MBA. He found them odd at first, and could never reconcile with their religious beliefs, but their conservatism appealed to him, and like most Indian men who study abroad and then return, he came home with an accent that’s put on, and a façade of Americanism, while fundamentally clinging to his tradition. He got a high paying job as a management consultant, and soon traveled, sticking to his vegetarian roots, burps after each meal, and the loud, boisterous fart in public, while wearing an Armani suit, a Christian Dior watch, and fashionable leather shoes.

He gave his talks in his fake accent, while CEOs nodded in approval, secretaries gave him the look, although he wasn’t great looking, and women bosses found him alluring, despite the idiosyncratic fart. He returned to India later; spoke to the crème de la crème only, and soon owned a pristine white Contessa, because he preferred it to the Ambassador, and those were the only two elite vehicles then, owned by politicians in white and powerful men. Sure, there were the Fiats, and the small Marutis, but he jettisoned the very thought of them, like the thought of chicken curry that the ‘uncultured’ cooked. His parents soon decided on finding him a cousin he’d marry, and settled on a squint-eyed Brahmin girl, who’d be her mother-in-law’s devout assistant, and the bearer of his son. But, he was a man of untamed lust, and couldn’t picture himself settling down with his cousin. He’d after all seen the most beautiful women and had struggled to keep chaste. He’d furiously masturbate, in posh hotel rooms for hours.

Now it was too much to handle, and he needed a beauty. And so, he befriended a middle class Christian family, and set his sights on their daughter who was fourteen years younger than him. He was nearing forty, while she had just graduated from college. And her beauty captivated him; despite him holding the thought that Indian Christian women were ‘immoral’. He went against his parent’s wishes, seduced her, pulling the strings of her naïvety, and married her. He didn’t want a Church wedding and so it was a secular affair of sorts that his parents refused to attend.

Until he got home after the ceremony – the urge to bed her, pulsating within him – he spoke to her kindly. His voice possessed a deceitful charm, a soft tenor that made her blush. But he then couldn’t find the keys to the Bungalow he’d built, and suddenly yelled at her. “Where did you keep the bloody keys?” he bellowed. She stood flabbergasted, and shaken to the core, until he realized that it was in his pocket. “Now, don’t tell me it’s my fault!” He raged, and she stood mute, not knowing what to say.

Years of this transcended to physical violence, and since she couldn’t give him a child, he disregarded her as a barren woman. Adopting a child was beneath his dignity. He’d take her to parties though, where she’d smile though she wept inside, and he talked boisterously and farted. He imposed vegetarianism and Brahmin beliefs on her. Soon decades passed, and porn had arrived in its resplendent glory. His CEO friends gave him the CDs, and he got away with pretty much anything by gifting policemen bottles of champagne, or bribing them when the neighbors complained of a wife mistreated. One day, after one too many blows, finding catharsis in a group sex video, he strolled in his expensive, rich neighborhood, greeting influential men walking their dogs with their own trophy wives, and stood at a crossroads, when a thought occurred. “If I go back, I’ll continue abusing her, and somewhere it gives me no peace, but the roads to the right and the left eventually go back home too. So change is futile. And if I let her go, I’ll give her freedom and be frowned upon by society.” And so, making his choice, he went back to his bungalow with its red roof, white luxurious bathtubs, a new Mercedes parked in the garage, and a puppy that was her only consolation.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Lessons

This is an image of a man looking up at the stars. I've chosen it because it represents a contemplative, sorrowed man who's learned his lessons, which is what my poem is about.

My sorrow, she comes to me, when lifeless apartment
complexes with inanimate windows like cardboard
boxes with holes punched in them, replace the
honey chested, sweet ashen-winged thrush
with her vivacious, polyphonic birdsong,
and echoes of who I’ve become are the only voices
in my mind – saying, ‘You’re forever failing, and falling into a
fading symphony…you’re forever falling, and failing like
a fading symphony…’

I wish I could let her go, I wish I didn’t hold her dear.
I wish I can see past her, I wish she didn’t stay.

But life’s taught me that sometimes dog-eared, beaten
books give us the best knowledge, both reprimanding
and edifying us, both reproaching and elevating us
because of their sheer wealth of experience.

Suffering refines us in fires of grit, in a strong, stony forge
and then imbues us with the greatest of muses.

The women in my life come and go, and love’s both
lost and regained, but in the softest nights when no
one’s near, and I long for a hold or a hand to grasp,
my sorrow, she comes to me, and she’s here to stay.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

I think of her

This is an image of train tracks surrounded by a barren landscape. I've used it because it symbolizes a hard life which urges us to move on no matter what. Sometimes the thought of a loved one keeps us going and that's what my poem is about.

I thought of her when that romantic cottage
with its burgundy chimney, walls of stone
and dreamy garden leading up to a calm,
comforting, consoling canal became a favela:
a machine gun, overpopulated, tumbledown
town with littered streets, giving a sojourner
no succor.

I thought of her when post-rock songs by Mogwai,
If These Trees Could Talk, Explosions in the Sky and
Mono infused with a profound sadness became a
jarring, atonal cacophony – a noisy Tophet
where the off-tune screeching was the
scorching flame and the pneumatic drill reverberating
was the worm that didn’t stop gnawing.

I thought of her when Biblical verses didn’t speak anymore
and my reading of the Psalms turned against me,
making me David’s foe, and each Proverb stung
like a wasp and though I tried, tired and browbeaten,
I found no aesthetic, celestial grasp and needed
love; not validation, just love.

I thought of her when the temperature in my room
dropped, and I covered myself with bed sheets and
wore sweaters, but still shivered, my teeth chattering,
and no cigarette or swig of The Old Admiral helped,
and yesterday’s warmth seemed a sepia memory,
dissolving in the acid of self-loathing and scruples,
condemning me, chastising me and making
me wage war on myself, a personality split right
in the center with an ax of false guilt.

I thought of her when I sat among friends in some
noisy bar, the reckless revelry never appealing, the
gossip and the boisterous joking so repulsive,
and though they got me to dance, all I saw
were the faces of demons, ready to devour in their
intoxicated false fire, the clinking of the glasses
and the ‘Hurrahs!’ Only betraying a monochromatic
banality beneath a gaudy façade of togetherness.

I thought of her when I scored that goal on the football
field, a step-over and a low, left footed drive, an ephemeral
thrill, a false euphoria, a momentary increase of dopamine
levels that left just as quickly as it arrived, like the breeze,
and I didn’t bother celebrating or even acknowledging
pats on the back which became curses yelled the very next
day when nothing I did worked, and I went home and
tossed the studs in the corner of the attic,
vowing to never play again.

I thought of her when I kissed another, she smiled and so
did I, but my thoughts were elsewhere, a mistake, a foolish
thrill that loneliness made me seek, just like it
often makes me want to jump off this apartment
complex. We closed our eyes and it seemed perfect,
just like things masquerade wearing gilded crowns
adorned with gemstones, when they’re just thorns
stitched together haphazardly.

I thought of her when I read fantasy books, placing
myself in the protagonist’s shoes and her the other
who makes him whole, fighting demons using wards,
or drawing from the source and destroying the
forsaken, or just warring using sword and shield, a mere
mortal with her immortal talisman, until I found
myself on an ashen road purged of both magic
and technology, never-ending, a dystopian
journey, the very antithesis of life.

I think of her even now, though my thoughts don’t
reach her and I’ve kept all the poems I wrote her
locked, and plan on never re-reading them, though
I look at the crossroads outside my apartment complex
at night, the streets lit by dim streetlights and the
blaring headlights of speeding cars, each man or
woman journeying, traveling, traversing and
lost in transition.

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)

Half a sonnet by a goldfish in a bowl who’s too lazy to complete the poem

This is an image of a goldfish in a bowl. I've used it because my poem is a humorous piece written from the perspective of a goldfish.

Each day entails mere turning and spinning
Clockwise, anti-clockwise, O what must I do!
There’s a world out there, so beautiful and true!
Which sadly isn’t mine for the winning

I want more than the angst of rotating
Like a schmuck. I wish to see the sky, so blue!
But I only see pink walls that make me rue!
And days pass with the earth revolving…

© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)