the palace, the hospital, and the museum.

the palace.

you have grown into the habit of walking out,
and grown out of the habit of sneaking past the door
when we slept-
because you were convinced
that the walls slammed into our bones
hard enough to make us sick.

you used to think of every coincidence
as fate.

i don’t know what you think of anymore.

these last few years,
you’ve been leaving too many footprints
on the floors
from the number of times
you’ve almost walked out,
because the seasons were seeping through the ceiling
and you’ve been away for far too long
to remember how to
adapt.

the hospital.

we keep painting everything in white
the night
before you come back-

because apparently,
it’s tragic for new tables to have old mats,
but not nearly as much as
for old faces to have new feelings.

the museum.

the thing about hatred is that
it festers-
you can smoke a pack of cigarettes,
build it a necropolis on the branches
of your bronchi, and then
let the city mourn in a year long winter
with violent snowstorms
that rip your trachea out of it’s ground,

and still,
hatred will kill your cells faster
than the cold.

you have stuffed every brick in my body
with the feeling that comes
from never being understood,
and painted it on your tongue
like a mural
hungry for plaudits.

you brought tsunamis crashing into my muscles,
seismic waves rippling under my skin,
where the tectonic plates don’t just
slam into each other,
but skewer through.

some globes make for a much better map-
especially those
with oceans bleeding out through
the rips in the eyelids.

some people make for a much better centerpiece-
especially those
who you’ve already spent years chiseling slowly,
until the only thing holding them upright
was the fear of
falling.

you’ve become a connoisseur of sorts-
collecting our silences disguised
as obedience.

you’ve become something
in the name of being someone else,
and i’ve become just another
mistaken effigy with a broken mouth
screaming at you
to throw me out.

••ari purkayastha


for the person i respect, and the person i resent.

god is dead.

god is dead.

he died seven years ago, on the streets of mumbai- hit by a car, while he stumbled on the sidewalks, mumbling all sorts of obsolescent prayers, as the meth in his veins slowly bestrewed his significance on those half eaten concrete roads, that wrapped itself like a ragged hand-me-down scarf, around a city standing on human bones.

his body lay there for three days before it was discovered by a fisher-maid, setting up her baits, trying to catch skeletons that had somehow learned to float in just that layer of water that was reserved for the living. she never screamed. she never did anything, but walk to a nearby cigarette shop- that sold faux maturity to eleven-years-olds for just a measly price of 5 rupees (or if you were short on the money, you could always pay with the excess of the cells in your lungs), and picked up the half-broken telephone that had gone out-of-date some twenty years ago, to call men who had seen far too many bodies- in more states of decay than a lifelong sexton.

it lay there for another hour- unsupervised- before moving shadows started crowding around it with judgemental eyes, that knew more about him, than he probably ever did. there were more stories on his sullen skin than his tongue ever let on; stories full of naivete, hope and failure. stories that could probably rob the world of another century of hunting answers, in pages written by men a lot less learned than those seeking them.

but he never spoke.

those answers, and those questions, and their answers- they all gradually lost their pallor as the blood drained out of him during his postmortem. they declared that he had overdosed. that he would have died, even if the car hadn’t bashed his head in. that he had been dying long before he finally did. that he had cancer harvesting in his heart. that he was probably suicidal, because his hands looked like they had been a brutal war-ground, where the only winner were those who were not breathing. they said his wrists looked just like the humans he was rumored to have created- scarred and failed. he was depressed, they said.

his face was in the newspapers for eighteen days, waiting to be claimed- in news articles read desperately, only by desperate family members of desperately lost people, who were more conversant about themselves than the rest, to actually advertise that they were indeed lost, and in need of help.

on the twenty-first day, they burned him in a pit with rest of the homeless corpses- no one recognized him.

no children.
no wife.
no family.
no name.

no one knew what god looked like after all.

••ari purkayastha


i’m not trying to make a statement. it’s merely an idea. religion has nothing to do with this essay.

of suicides and the living.

“watch-
as your hand falters and falls between five lines of a music sheet, torn right before a hastily scribbled apology. suicides do that. they climb over your back and break your spine with the slightest pressure of their voices, while you still hear the hum-
missing a note. skipping a note like it never existed.”

•••

there are too many different sorts of variations to this song and i still couldn’t seem to remember the first line before you were gone.

i never knew that you could lose people to the turbulence of a whiskey bottle until you proved that gravity was unbiased; that a one litre bottle could be just as deep, and hold just as many coffins as the bermuda triangle.

guess you learn something new each day.

sometimes i wish you hadn’t left anything behind. voices tend to have a ghost like ability to be heard when they had never even bothered to speak, and yet they can’t be shut down- you can’t silence what’s “there” and not yet gone, because “gone” is from the global list of living people and not from the list of people i “let go”.

you can’t let go of the living.

especially not when your own lungs have been acting like a surrogate for their collapsed ones.

isn’t that how you differentiate between the living and the dead anyways? by the people who are breathing and the people who are not?

••ari purkayastha

when i remembered him.

he was that ghost of my imagination at the victorian graveyards that seemed to flicker like a hesitant word on my tongue betraying my speech- because i have seen him in an aisle of the train wrecks on my vertebrae, and he always skipped my pupils when he stared at me.

he walked away-

like a stray tempest, that had forgotten it’s path one drunken night, crashing into the silhouettes cowering within the cracks of an unremembered back alley

and then, he moved on-

with the remnants of broken melancholy sticking to the soles of his toes- rotting from the years they remained drenched in a disharmonious distance from people who spoke in poisoned whispers on his clavicle, and laughed with their distaste on his lips. 

it was a process- learning to watch him chisel his hands with sun baked lies, and watching them kiss his palm with blisters of clouded judgements; but slowly, as each day grew longer, i taught myself to observe him wordlessly mutilate his photographs, reclining on tender march deaths, when summer forgot to let december out of our rundown windows.

we withered that year- me and him, under the branches of a starving tree that pretended to beg for rain in midst of a drugged tsunami.

 

••ari purkayastha

wearing a mask with ‘pretense’ calligraphied on it’s skin.

all these last years, i have floundered to find harmony in the number of coincidences that decayed on my palm, as i raised my wrist towards a hungry comet that swallowed the pretense of living. somedays, i’d almost forget the pattern on the sidewalks that i spent decades and centuries memorizing, as i stumbled on drunken pavements struggling to remember their sobriquets; and those days, i’d often be unable to walk a single step away- from myself. a self that manifested within a haughty river that has forgotten the definition of veracity- that has lost the definition of identity to slumber.

and then, i’d wake up to a sky that would much rather crumble than rain, and a bed that would much rather burn than let me sleep. because when i sleep, the air tends to solidify into a statuesque remainder of past, and the river seems to forget it’s illusion of stillness. because they’re still quite lost watching me writhe in the present, alone-

with the memory of a dying ghost. within the memoirs of a neglected god. and without the preachings of a priest that failed to teach me that-

love is like a star.

it burns in the name of happily ever afters and dies in the lie of forever.

because when i woke up, i found myself trapped in the reflection of a stranger without a name..

••ari purkayastha