Nightwalk

I could feel, almost hear even in my most indolent frame, my heart heavily throbbing and flaming on the surface of my skin like a final pulse stuck in the cold chest of a dying person, beating visibly, metastasizing towards the throat and back to the chest again. It was a hot May that year with unusual cold rains and scary storms. My body laid on the couch like a shriveling rose thriving on those last beats of breath before withering into dust. I walked barefoot on the cold floor towards the dusty verandah, and laid myself down on the ground for the cold rain to soak in my bosom. I opened my mouth for the rain to embrace my tongue and licked the sweet drops off my lips. The stormy winds shook the Devdar trees around, the leaves swirled to the sad music of the wind and cluttered in my verandah. I gathered myself up from the ground and touched my gossamer gown rinsed with the frosty mountain rains. I walked into the house, my feet leaving wet muddy prints on the floor, like foot trails of the big cat in the muggy forest grounds. My gown stuck to my wet body like a second skin till I let it peel slowly off to my feet. I sauntered naked around the empty house like an insouciant cat. The windows creaked with the gushing wind and entered the house to startle my wet body with its cold embrace. A hot shower was all I needed, so I stood beneath the burning water longer than I should have. The porcelain floor was a riot of russet and dirt flowing down my body. As much as I wished to shut my eyes beneath the shower, it scared me to death. I felt gearless and unguarded in the colossal depths of the muggy ocean waters, drowning with a rock on my chest. So I decided against closing my eyes. Just then, I felt an assertive hand making its way from my neck to the roots of my hair. It felt like a silhouetted, faceless figure from the past perhaps. I moved forward to plunge myself onto it, only to fall flat against the wall. Hot showers don’t always fix the barren insides.

Tripping on every step and too tired, I still decided to take a midnight walk when the clouds screened the moon and wolves howled in the thicket of the forests, when there would be lesser known faces out on the empty roads and when the crickets would chirp in every bush, the sounds that twinkling stars would make in the sky if they could. Like a stray canine, I fearlessly sauntered the lonely roads carefree of stepping on or stumbling off something. Back to my cove, I lounged on my empty bed that smelled of nutmeg and sage. It smelled of someone’s presence. A someone I knew or may have known. Regardless, I plunged into the bed and felt a soft hand brushing my hair, tucking them behind my ear. Was it air? or a breath? I felt the hand on my chest, where lay my heavily throbbing heart, as if trying to push itself out of my chest. The hand pressed itself against my chest softly to calm the heavy throbbing. I placed my hand over it to seal it there forever. It felt warm like a lover’s hug. Was it a lover’s hand or did I make it up in my head?

Stories from Agha Gate

Copyright Pintrest: https://i.pinimg.com/originals/5b/43/93/5b439362251953a30b53b45fa3038d1e.jpg

With its numb fingers and nippy breath, recedes December down in my heart. I walk to the window that swings open with every gush of wind and shuts even forcefully. I cannot recall when and how did the latch break. It’s the little things we ignore that cause the most inconvenience. The specters of the past resurrect in the maddening chill of this weather. I suddenly remember things I had shoved in the outhouse of my heart. Reclining in the armchair, I close my eyes to surrender to these involuntary thoughts. They rain over me. Incessantly. I remember the little yellow lights glowing on the roof of the Agha Gate Café, where we would sit for hours and relish the dreamy Posset. The lights would dim after ten at night, and they would light the candlesticks on the table. I remember your hazel eyes fixed on me, your hands navigating towards my thighs under the table, my hand interrupting yours further and that hearty laugh we would break into together!

Agha Gate had watched us happen and grow in love. It had witnessed me waiting long hours on window side table. It had witnessed you sneaking inside and pecking on my cheek secretly, It had also witnessed me getting surprised each time you did that. The warm roof lights cascaded on our interlocked fingers, the wooden table top kept our hands steady. Everything at the Agha Gate conspired to unite us, every time, everyday. On the way back home you would hold my cold hands and place them in the pocket of your overcoat. Your hands were always warm. And your lips, weightless on mine, yet touching every chord in my heart. How gentle was your love. Your balmy fingers mapping my naked back. Your stubble ticking my collarbone when you would come closer to kiss my neck. Everything about you was maddening, no different that this weather. We would make love amidst the borrowed books from that library across the street, among the piling bills and boiling milk on the stove. Waking up to the burnt milk and unread books gathering dust. Grabbing our coats and running down the street, to Agha Gate, to relish the Possum, where space and time melted. Where the bills were steady, milk unburnt, and love effortless.

Now I walk alone back home with my cold hands in the cold pockets of your old coat. Agha Gate has watched us fall in love, and fall harder. I take the same street back home. I wait on that table under the same lights, so you know where to find me, when you do.

October Ache

October knows my fatigue, where once amidst the candle glow, I had read Dante’s Inferno and,maybe a poem or two by Poe.

How I walk that lonely aisle again, its dark sides desiring to devour me. This season of parting birds, longer nights and bloated pumpkins, this season of life failing and leaves falling, this season aches my heart.

Gazing at the crimson sunset, I recline in the discomfort of my thoughts, that play like an old song stuck in my head.

Sorrow with its outstretched arms tip toes towards me, crawls up my cold feet, tired legs and hides in my aching chest.

The cold breeze through the pines whispers a monodic rhyme, and you come to me faceless, inodorous, voiceless. Do you look like those hazy pictures you share? Do you smell of floral hues or of aqua blues? What do you like? What do you dream? Do you think we’d ever meet? And where?

The night spreads on my balcony, slouching on my creaking rock chair, I open my eyes and I reek of the piled up uncertainties. I sit up and feel a pair of soft hands at the back, detangling my curly locks, pressing my shoulders, kissing the back of my head. “Were those hands yours?” Walking without an answer, I assume they were yours.

I open the door to a hopeless room and a hapless life. As I enter and shut the door behind, I affirm, “ Those were your hands, yes yours!”

And I feel them around me, clutching me tight, undressing me, walking me towards the hot shower, holding my chin up, showing me the vapouring sorrow, the burden off my chest, stroking my wet head, kissing my moist lips, and faceless, voiceless, Inodorous, vanishing in thin air.

Liquid Ache

Six winters waging a lonely war against myself, beneath a rougher sea, whelmed in deeper gulfs. A lonely woman leaning out of the tiny wooden window, my sable eyes staring at the wasted garden, waiting ceaselessly. Soft December night curled and fell asleep on my empty lap. Waking up to a bitter morning, time stained memories worsened my ache. Of friends, Of hope, of all bereft I strangled myself to a deep sleep, again.

His memories would wake me up from my deepest sleep. He would unlace the sloppy silver anklet of my foot, and kiss my bare heel with his scarlet lips. His lips would drive down my nape, tracing and tapping my collar bone softly. In crumpled sheets we would spend our days, amidst wine frenzy our mellow nights.

Sitting by the fireplace, gazing at the lofty pine trees covered with mist, and koti hills decked with twinkling lights. Restless nights, midnight smokes, long walks, all shorlived, a hundred indecisions all abruptly decided. The fabric of his presence started to fall apart. My tears unattended, my screams unheard. My calling rejected. Potting my bleeding heart in my pale hands, blood dripping. I swallowed the pain down my parched throat.

I would still go mad with tenderness at the mere sight of his face. But now my too tired heart started to retire. I knew no games I had only words to play with!

Sick sweet

Winter night sternly frowned at my doorstep; the sick sweet December air numbed my lips with its cold kisses. Unease muffled around me like a worn out pashmina shawl. The feeble wanderings of my brain guided me to his faded aisles, yet again. Dropping my exhaustion with ice cubes in the bitter whiskey, the despair for love grew in me. It had been long since I had tasted the salt of my tears.

His cold touch sweated my body, his rough hands wounded my bosom, and his faint red lips swelled mine. Wounded whispers of my heart in his ears left unheard, I watched our love withering leaf by leaf.

How bitter was it to taste his smoke stench fingers, how savagely suppressing the weight of his bony body on mine. How addictive his coaxing me to sleep, how compelling his beguiling hazel eyes.

He’d stroke my cold feet, hold them close to his chest, kiss them fondly and I’d smile at its brief stay. Turning off the lights, how much he loved the darkness, and darkness he became. The chimes, the sickening cold lights, the pale snow on the mountains, the blood red wine, everything plunged me back to him. The better days of life were ours, the worst mine and mine alone.

MORSELS OF ‘MAKE BELIEVE’

They say Rome wasn’t built in a day

But your kitchen can be!

And when bedtime comes around at last

Brisk LIPTON tea revives you fast!

“No more cavities” make mothers happy

Makes them feel that they’ve done well their duty.

From “open happiness” to “taste the feeling”

Coca cola did some relationship healing.

Some tears and “no more tears”

Absolut “drinks and memories” are here.

“Impossible is nothing” they tell you

“Just Do It” why don’t you?

I couldn’t agree more with Philip Kotler’s quote – “the best advertising is done by satisfied customers.” Advertising is a one sided persuasive communication with the customers, in which the customers are free to respond in their own way. A good advertisement appeals on many grounds and aspects of its customers – aesthetic, intellectual, emotional, and humorous.  I feel that an ad becomes truly powerful when the product’s essence is distilled, and a human connection is created. How the ad of Wildcraft, persuades us to ‘come alive’ by experiencing the outdoor and the boondocks, makes us desire to go to the mountains and how the Tata Salt tugs to our emotions with its emotive jingoistic tagline – “desh ka namak”. It’s a fact that people depend more on emotions than on information when it comes to making brand decisions, and those emotional responses become more influential on a customer’s intent to buy that product. The emotional marketing strategy serves a very important purpose, that is – it creates customer loyalty. It is true that people do not buy products; rather they buy relations, stories and magic. This is how a customer creates more customers, and the purpose of business and advertising is met. Advertising doesn’t build a business, it builds people and then those people build the business. It’s a belief that art and attention grabbing advertising don’t always work well together, but if for instance we take into consideration the example of Coke, its spot found a charming balance of romantic visuals, well crafted words and cultural resonance – all while effectively selling soda, a soda which even today after 127 years, pops and chats with us in our college canteens, becomes our movie-popcorn partner at the theatres, and we still ponder over its “hush-hush” recipe.

Let’s consider another example, which also happens to be the staple food of millions of young and old in the country. The quintessential “Maggie mother” and her “bas do minute” magic has been ruling over our hearts from the past 36 years or so. Maggie as a brand plays on nostalgia to win the hearts of the customers as well as their trust. Maggie has been an important part of the growing years of 80’s and 90’s kids, and “Maggie, Maggie, Maggie” is still etched in our hearts.

Paper Boat ads too tug to our nostalgia with its campaign that includes heartwarming lyrics penned by Gulzar and that magical soundtrack of ‘Malgudi Days’, however this experience of a childhood spent in running after the kites, climbing trees to eat guavas etc. wouldn’t be of much relevance to the present generation, but it does its duty well by providing its customers with a raw and healthy option in a maverick packaging.

The advertisements have created a convincing space for the customers to believe in that alternate space that may or may not exist. In simple words, the advertisements, by showcasing families, mothers, childhood and perfect households try to present that image of an “AMERICAN DREAM” that could be realized if the customers buy a particular vacuum cleaner, or a pressure cooker, or a barbeque grill that would be the ‘life’ of any house party and very mobile. The family picture doubtlessly plays its part well in persuading customers to go for a particular brand.

Apart from playing the family coin, some advertisements showcase gods and goddesses on the pedestal, advertising, for instance a soap bar. Take for instance a vintage ad of pears soap in which the image off mother Goddess Saraswati is portrayed in such a harmony with the brand.

The markets target all sorts of audience and buyers, the advertisers know what customers expect and how to bring to them what they desire. It is all about showing value, creating an experience, and always striving to meet or even exceed the customers’ expectations. Good advertising is simple; it simply makes good food taste better “taste kahan hai? Taste yaha hai” (Everest spices), it makes cars run better – “your journey, our passion” (Bridgestone tyres), it changes the perception of everything. Advertising is simply looking at usual things with unusual eyes and showing the same to the customers.

The ravishing “Wildstone perfumes and soap” seductively brings alive the power of smelling good in endearing ways. Though the campaign has evolved from being the usual tongue-in-cheek reference to what smelling good could do to a “Man”, and all those images of men drenching and dousing themselves with deodorants and women going haywire and crazy with lust, has recently broken all those “topless men and women in heat” conventions, to make it appear more intelligible and less sensual. Music, just like celebrities in an ad prove to be of a great use for the success of an advertisement and a product altogether. The songs in the backdrop consciously nostalgic and engaging, with all their lyrics and honeyed verses drive the audience to develop an emotional bond with the product. The Imperial Blue’s “pyaar ki raah me chalna seekh”, stands as a melodious example for the aforementioned. This strategy leads to instant happiness and gratification. An old adage fits best here – “people buy emotionally, and then justify logically.” Advertisements focus broadly on the middle class audiences, the prospective buyers turn out to be from the middle class and marketing to the present day middle class (the people who neither smell of some expensive cologne, nor of sweat), it requires a little fancy juggling, as the cash-strapped consumers are choosier when it comes to where they spend their shrinking discretionary income. This section of society has great expectations from whatever is introduced in the market. I would conclude with a quote by Zig Ziglar- “If the customers like you they’ll listen to you but if they trust you they will do business with you.”

 

Image courtesy : pintrest

 

MORSELS OF ‘MAKE BELIEVE’

They say Rome wasn’t built in a day

But your kitchen can be!

And when bedtime comes around at last

Brisk LIPTON tea revives you fast!

“No more cavities” make mothers happy

Makes them feel that they’ve done well their duty.

From “open happiness” to “taste the feeling”

Coca cola did some relationship healing.

Some tears and “no more tears”

Absolut “drinks and memories” are here.

“Impossible is nothing” they tell you

“Just Do It” why don’t you?

I couldn’t agree more with Philip Kotler’s quote – “the best advertising is done by satisfied customers.” Advertising is a one sided persuasive communication with the customers, in which the customers are free to respond in their own way. A good advertisement appeals on many grounds and aspects of its customers – aesthetic, intellectual, emotional, and humorous.  I feel that an ad becomes truly powerful when the product’s essence is distilled, and a human connection is created. How the ad of Wildcraft, persuades us to ‘come alive’ by experiencing the outdoor and the boondocks, makes us desire to go to the mountains and how the Tata Salt tugs to our emotions with its emotive jingoistic tagline – “desh ka namak”. It’s a fact that people depend more on emotions than on information when it comes to making brand decisions, and those emotional responses become more influential on a customer’s intent to buy that product. The emotional marketing strategy serves a very important purpose, that is – it creates customer loyalty. It is true that people do not buy products; rather they buy relations, stories and magic. This is how a customer creates more customers, and the purpose of business and advertising is met. Advertising doesn’t build a business, it builds people and then those people build the business. It’s a belief that art and attention grabbing advertising don’t always work well together, but if for instance we take into consideration the example of Coke, its spot found a charming balance of romantic visuals, well crafted words and cultural resonance – all while effectively selling soda, a soda which even today after 127 years, pops and chats with us in our college canteens, becomes our movie-popcorn partner at the theatres, and we still ponder over its “hush-hush” recipe.

Let’s consider another example, which also happens to be the staple food of millions of young and old in the country. The quintessential “Maggie mother” and her “bas do minute” magic has been ruling over our hearts from the past 36 years or so. Maggie as a brand plays on nostalgia to win the hearts of the customers as well as their trust. Maggie has been an important part of the growing years of 80’s and 90’s kids, and “Maggie, Maggie, Maggie” is still etched in our hearts.

Paper Boat ads too tug to our nostalgia with its campaign that includes heartwarming lyrics penned by Gulzar and that magical soundtrack of ‘Malgudi Days’, however this experience of a childhood spent in running after the kites, climbing trees to eat guavas etc. wouldn’t be of much relevance to the present generation, but it does its duty well by providing its customers with a raw and healthy option in a maverick packaging.

The advertisements have created a convincing space for the customers to believe in that alternate space that may or may not exist. In simple words, the advertisements, by showcasing families, mothers, childhood and perfect households try to present that image of an “AMERICAN DREAM” that could be realized if the customers buy a particular vacuum cleaner, or a pressure cooker, or a barbeque grill that would be the ‘life’ of any house party and very mobile. The family picture doubtlessly plays its part well in persuading customers to go for a particular brand.

Apart from playing the family coin, some advertisements showcase gods and goddesses on the pedestal, advertising, for instance a soap bar. Take for instance a vintage ad of pears soap in which the image off mother Goddess Saraswati is portrayed in such a harmony with the brand.

The markets target all sorts of audience and buyers, the advertisers know what customers expect and how to bring to them what they desire. It is all about showing value, creating an experience, and always striving to meet or even exceed the customers’ expectations. Good advertising is simple; it simply makes good food taste better “taste kahan hai? Taste yaha hai” (Everest spices), it makes cars run better – “your journey, our passion” (Bridgestone tyres), it changes the perception of everything. Advertising is simply looking at usual things with unusual eyes and showing the same to the customers.

The ravishing “Wildstone perfumes and soap” seductively brings alive the power of smelling good in endearing ways. Though the campaign has evolved from being the usual tongue-in-cheek reference to what smelling good could do to a “Man”, and all those images of men drenching and dousing themselves with deodorants and women going haywire and crazy with lust, has recently broken all those “topless men and women in heat” conventions, to make it appear more intelligible and less sensual. Music, just like celebrities in an ad prove to be of a great use for the success of an advertisement and a product altogether. The songs in the backdrop consciously nostalgic and engaging, with all their lyrics and honeyed verses drive the audience to develop an emotional bond with the product. The Imperial Blue’s “pyaar ki raah me chalna seekh”, stands as a melodious example for the aforementioned. This strategy leads to instant happiness and gratification. An old adage fits best here – “people buy emotionally, and then justify logically.” Advertisements focus broadly on the middle class audiences, the prospective buyers turn out to be from the middle class and marketing to the present day middle class (the people who neither smell of some expensive cologne, nor of sweat), it requires a little fancy juggling, as the cash-strapped consumers are choosier when it comes to where they spend their shrinking discretionary income. This section of society has great expectations from whatever is introduced in the market. I would conclude with a quote by Zig Ziglar- “If the customers like you they’ll listen to you but if they trust you they will do business with you.”

 

Image courtesy : pintrest

 

 

Winter Beats

Would you now walk through those half deserted streets, lounging away the restless nights in one night cheap hotels? Would you be the age old whiskey to my now so parched throat? Do you remember under the light muslin the love we made?

Your pale hands I’ve loved beside those rosewood hued lips. Frozen in your warm embraces, did you leave me alive just so I could be lonely? And here I’ve prayed for you midst the minarets and sunsets, when the foggy days rubbed their muzzle on my window pane, and the rainy nights dampened the backyard of my heart.

SPECTRE GREY FROST everywhere.

I’d part the thick curtains of my room and muse over how like winter hath my absence been from thee. What old December’s bareness deep down I’ve felt. But I never mentioned longing or fear. I crouched like a good refugee and forgot why Autumn is harder than Spring.

Moonlit autumnal nights, rummaging through old pictures. Someone shot the air gun in the sky, a bluebird fell dead in the backyard, and so did you in the backyard of my heart.

Better my art you batterer of my heart! Live in these words while I fill these pages, live while my fingers ragingly ache. Live and die, die and live altogether.

Pic credits : Pinterest https://wallpaper.arabaresmi.com/2019/12/10/34598/

A Testimony

A halt. My heart needed to halt. The weight of those memories hung heavy on me, pulled me into those depths that I feared. “You look miserable dear,” said he, “has life not been treating you well?”

I collapsed into those hazel hued eyes, those scarlet lips pressing a cigarette between them, those fingers gently pulling out the cigarette from the subtle clutch of lips and those lips rounding to puff the smoke out…I drowned into him as he spoke – “what have you done to yourself?”

Long tiring years of loving in the wrong zones, I asked myself how real it was right now? I wanted to touch every inch of his flesh, every strand of his newly cut hair, the soft stubble on his face, I wanted to touch him and he would briskly deny. Deny my touch – physical and emotional.

He did not enter me, break me, tear me, or rip me, but I still felt that all! My body broke under the weight of his denials. That kiss on the lips didn’t last long, that warm nakedness clothed itself fast, that stupor of wine vanished, those tears dried, the smoke dissipated and he faded.

I walked back carrying myself, sadly in love, yet again! I started loving the rain, yet again! That night under the shower, rubbing to rashes, the spots of his essence, burning my body in that flaming water, disappointed I came out, this time caring even more- about him, his essence, his presence.

And he danced with another body while our song was still playing! Swirling in the caresses of her silken lips and warm bosom, her lovely words, and balmy touch…while I built castles in the clouds and craved to touch his body once, enter the domains that he kept shut for the world, I craved for him to look at me once the way lovers did! I craved to drink that ale to the brim and collapse into his arms. My silent testimony held me, my tears couldn’t show the enormity of pain.

Need is not transitive, that one may need without oneself being needed! I let my heart halt, till the time that would be right, and the love that wouldn’t be one sided. Befriended the inky nights and ale, the masks and deceptions…till he would be ready to reveal all that’s hidden in the folds of his heart.

मुन्तज़िर (Awaiting)

ज़ीना ज़ीना उतर रही है रात

बुन रही हूँ रेशम ओ अतलस में टूटे हुए दिल की बात|

सबा के साथ गुज़रती है मौज-ए-दर्द-ए-फ़िराक़-ए-यार,

आज भी कर रही हूँ जल्वा-गाह-ए-विसाल में तेरा इंतज़ार|

तू नहीं तो ज़िंदगी में और क्या रह जाएगा,

दूर तक तन्हाइयों का सिलसिला रह जाएगा|

मैं कब तन्हा हुई थी याद होगा…

तुम्हारा फ़ैसला था याद होगा…

वो ख़त पागल हवा के आँचलों पर …

किसने तुम्हे लिखा था याद होगा …

मुलाकातें अधूरी रही,

मुकम्मल करुँगी ये वादा रहा…

तन्हाइयों से भी मैं तेरी,

बातें करुँगी ये वादा रहा…