Gustavo II

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Luis places the phone back into the cradle. His father had just informed him in his usual brusque manner that he was in the city for a meeting and would be joining him for dinner. No “would you be free?” or “is it convenient?”. No sir. That wouldn’t suit the stature of the great Gustavo II. What came was a summon- ‘Pick you up at 6.”
 
A sinking feeling begins to float in the pit of his stomach. He pictures his father sitting on an armchair, a disgruntled expression on his face. He often finds himself hoping it is a mask and that someday, it would fall off, revealing the real, better person within.
 
It was hard to tell if Gustavo ever felt happy. He had one predominant emotion driving his interactions- resentment – and he would want to pull everyone around him into his emotional hurricane. Luis would often relent to the temptation, take the challenge and jump into Gustavo’s vortex. But it always ended in a skirmish. When Gustavo was enraged, which was almost a perpetual emotion, he became oppressive and dominant. Luis finds it hard to feel love for him. He recalls reading (was it the ‘Bodhi Tree’ column in the morning daily?) that all negative emotions stem from one single one – fear. If that was true, what was Gustavo afraid of? Could it be fear of failure, of appearing inadequate, of losing control, of being taken for granted, of losing his importance? Whatever it was, they were his own storms, emanating from some damage or triggers from his past, from another place and another time. It had nothing to do with Luis.
 
Giving the knot of his silk tie one final pull, he thinks of the impending maelstrom and suddenly feels drained. Maybe he shouldn’t go. Maybe he should never see Gustavo again. But couldn’t there be something else he could do? In the ornate dresser mirror, he sees an image of his father helping him onto his first bicycle; clapping hard at his first win at the school basketball game. Where were those days? What happened? Was it possible that Gustavo could express love to only those he could control, like a child, perhaps?
 
He extends his hand to touch the mirror, hoping to hold down those moments. They quickly vanish into oblivion, supplanted by a man resembling him, a man with sweat drenched skin, throbbing eyes, rapid breathing- a fearful man. He takes a closer look, nervously touching his stubble. If he carries this inner turmoil to Gustavo, all hell would break loose.
 
He suddenly feels tired. Smoothing down his shirt one last time, he makes up his mind.
 
He would simply imagine himself to be a fly sitting on the wall, watching them both – calm, unperturbed.
 
Perhaps, then, the hurricane would lose its strength in cooler temperatures.
 
Perhaps, then, Gustavo would be tempted to act like a fly himself, albeit on another wall, and soon it would become a comical dance of sorts…

 

 

 

Art- The Italian Painter Giorgio de Chirico, by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Italy, 1968

 

 

 

 

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Mr. Dudley’s Console Table

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Exhausted from the day’s housework, she slumps into her favorite armchair, wiping her hands on an equally weary kitchen napkin, an apron worn like a battle scar, proud and defiant. On the front of the apron, buried deep underneath old stubborn yellow stains of spices, is a sunflower pattern with errant threads hanging out, rebelling against the tight weave of the fabric, now marching to their own drum. She fingers the threads absently. Sure, the threads like to be a sunflower, she idly muses; but they have broken away, having grown tired of the eons old, excruciatingly monotonous woven pattern. Sure, they would welcome being a sunflower again; but woven differently, perhaps in a twill weave the next time round? Continue reading “Mr. Dudley’s Console Table”

Small Spaces

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This was her favourite place, casual and languid, like a late evening cup of coffee. The balcony wasn’t large by any standards, but it was enough for her singledom. But then she never had a penchant for large spaces; their blank walls, vacant corridors mirrored the deep pit in her stomach. Small spaces, in contrast, were not just strong, making her feel safe, but were also quiet mostly and when they spoke, they did so, lovingly, in soft voices.

She looked searchingly at the buzzing street below. Continue reading “Small Spaces”

Comma

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like the warm handiwork
of the sun
on a strikingly cold kitchen floor,
like the fragrance of freshly mowed grass
pervading the still winter air,
or the hum of a lazy song
glued in the head…

some days
are just like that…

like a comma
at the baseline of a text.

 

 

The Music

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At the crack of dawn Mrs Holloway begins her day, pottering about the kitchen, brewing fresh tea for her husband of five decades.  This morning, the first sip of tea has a special
zing—special, not so much because she has added to it a dash of her homegrown window-sill ginger, but more because it is accompanied by soulful music. And the source? A new device sitting on the kitchen sideboard- a gift from her daughter. What is most endearing is that it looks exactly like the good old transistor she’d grown up with-wood around the outside with those now-archaic circular dials and speaker-albeit with a trendy digital makeover.
The device is pre-loaded with a strong repository of retro songs in random order. The songs play in a different sequence each time she plays the device, recreating the old magic of listening to radio that came with a surprise element.  Continue reading “The Music”

New Meanings

scarf.jpgIt is Sunday afternoon.

They are spring cleaning the closet, sorting through clothes, getting rid of clutter. The mild summer breeze from the window is a welcome relief from the relentless blaze of brilliant amber in the sky. The breeze ruffles few long, elegant strands of hair hanging loose over her face. Floaters, he would call them, years ago, at their rendezvous every evening and they would laugh, their eyes shining with the light of new love. He wants to brush them aside but restrains himself as she lifts her hand to keep them at bay. He thinks she looks as beautiful as the first time when they met at a Foo Fighters concert; older yes, but beautiful. Continue reading “New Meanings”

THE SECRET OF SCENT

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The scent was, unmistakably, musk.

The intoxicating odour floated through the mild summer breeze every day right outside her apartment building, when she returned from work. Where was it from? Her eyes scanned the street— the ice-cream vendor besieged by street kids, the toy seller, a mother with her baby in a pram and an unsung, but unbelievably talented, jobless painter with his painting supplies, filling colours in his canvas — everything as commonplace as yesterday.

Continue reading “THE SECRET OF SCENT”

‘je ne sais quoi’

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16th October 2015

 Dear Diary

 I am in the city of romance. Paris. Work begins on Monday and I have a couple of days to settle in. I have been brushing up my French for the past few weeks.  I quite enjoy this morning ritual of having a word from the dictionary pop out, like toast; and I butter it almost immediately because quite frankly, there is nothing quite unappetising like a toast lying cold and dry that no one eats. And tomorrow, will most certainly bring a fresh another. The Word for today is ‘flâneur.  A flaneur is a keen-eyed stroller or a loafer who chronicles the minutiae of city life. Only the French can make the most mundane action of loitering around, sound so elegant and deliciously sexy. It makes one want to immediately drop whatever one had been doing and turn into a flaneur, almost as if that is a matter of great consequence. When you say it, the ‘fla’ and ‘neur’ must be uttered quickly in succession with the ‘neur’ stretched slightly…… “Fla-neu- uhhr.” Notice, how the word just flutters around the tip of the mouth without really reaching the throat and then slides off smoothly. And once it is uttered it doesn’t disappear or turn to dust from lack of sound. It lingers, like the whispers of a lover, or the morning glow atop a shivering leaf long after the dew has slid off it.  What can I say? There is just something…. a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ about French, like love. Of course, love isn’t a spoken language at all. But they both breathe life into me, like nothing else can.

 Gratitude.

 RG

 

(je ne sais quoi’ ) noun  \ zhə-nə-ˌsā-ˈkwä \,  a pleasing quality that cannot be exactly named or described.