November Rain

Wednesday, 30 November 2016



“Moi, je deteste la pluie.”
(Me, I hate the rain)

Well why wouldn’t she, the surreptitious sun falls off the horizon so soon these days. By five, the darkened streets are mired in confusion of soft rain but later cajoled by some streetlights. My French teacher, Magalie, had a point. The rain wasn’t a romantic; rather she sided with the sinking sun.

As my teacher was dictating the seasons in French, I remembered my late night drives through the blistering rain back home in Kochi. The old-fashioned music that still played CDs in my car had to bear the morose tones of the album Ultraviolence. Contrary to the mood, the car raced through the swampy roads.  The wait at the inevitable signal was when the car slowed down, I shifted the gear to neutral and always let out that sigh. The view of the blurred cars, simmering bouket lights and finally the music, promising as it always is. That was the rain I knew, the one that brought a certain lightness to every moment, a romantic.







Rove, Rove dear Boat

Amongst the cobblestones, the gritty bricks and the salmon pink streaked skies, I found my trips around London very solitary. Despite how the city had a  few thousands whose footsteps were constant like the rain’s pitter-patter, I was surprised at how I strolled aimlessly, especially without the company of music. Truth be told, I did not find music that struck chords with London air yet. Just until someone’s voice resonated in the open grounds at Covent Garden.

A few weeks ago, I was jaunting through the Jubilee market looking at the trinkets and trying to pick up some vinyl. Just having a peek outside, there was a slight drizzle, many were unperturbed and some drew out their umbrellas. Perhaps I missed the gentle prick of the rain and childishly I just looked towards the sky for the gentle peck. As I walked on, I heard some familiar music inside the atrium. Baritone rich, he emulated the look of the musician. His hair was a little dishevelled, in a casual shirt he sang, “I will not ask you where you came from, I will not ask you, neither should you.” It wasn’t a similar voice, but the rendition was just perfect. In the longest time, I was glad to hear a song of Hozier’s. I settled on a bench, pulled out a notepad and started penning a short story for that moment and that song. That’s how my first no backspace project began in London.

November amused me with where and how I wrote. The stories came to life the old-fashioned way, in a notebook, even sometimes on napkins. On some days, I casually drew some pictures with wiry lines and refused to touch an eraser. There were some embarrassing days I just lay on the grass and recited some random lines like the poets of the earlier centuries. My favourite moment was when I sat in the station and scribbled some words as fast as possible. There were times I wanted to change lines and just press the backspace button or even just cross out some words, but that would just ruin the concept of the project. Thus, here’s the collection of nine short stories and my personal 'wiry' illustrations inspired by music that gave me company during the November rain.

Hope you’ll have a favourite and enjoy the music.


1
November 2, 2016
Covent Garden

I knew that look dear
Eyes always seeking
So I will not ask you
Why you were creeping
In some sad way, I already know
Like Real People Do- Hozier



The wide windows welcomed light that seemed to shine painfully into her eyes. They were capricious for the shadows danced among her disrobed body. She was naked to all eyes but she remained to stay blinded. She wished she could close her eyes and she rarely blinked, for a few stared at them so intently and sketched her lashes on some fresh paper. Amidst the silence, her ears were pricked to hear the rascal like rustles of the blunt pencils against the brown paper. There were some whose hands moved with confident fluidity, while some who gazed to see her unknown flaws. She wondered if they would sketch the permanent scar on her shoulders, the unremarkable paleness of her thighs and a shy mole on her ankle.

When an unexpected breeze rode on her back, it would send chills that made her wince. She saw a few who stared at her to get the basic lines, but there was always a someone with ‘eyes always seeking’. His face was never buried in the easel and his gaze pierced through her sheepish eyes. It was the look that made the lightest hairs on her delicate arms prick. From the corner of her eye, she observed his diligent strokes of the charcoal pencil. Occasionally there was a lustful smile that dissolved into the easel. She longed to feel the softness of the cloth that she sat on, only to comfort her bosom.

And when the tutor called it a day, she comfortably wore her robe. As the students started leaving, she hoped he left.  Seated at the corner, she anticipated a cheque and tried to hide her face from the man who stared so intently at her. He was being lauded with the teacher’s congratulatory pat. Somehow, his smiled lurked in her even after he left the class. The tutor walked towards her with a crisp cheque. He gifted her the drawing that was encased in some rolled paper.
It was his work.
In some sad way, she already knew



2
November 9,2016
Casa Maderia , Embankment

 Lost among a million changing faces
Every day our eyes keep trading places
And I hate it much as you
But if you can brave it
I can brave it
Raging – Kygo ft. Kodaline



She was on the steepest mountain. Afraid to look up, fearing she’ll fall off her rickety stilettos. For a slight fall would agitate the ones behind her. Thus to her comfort she looked down, only to feel belittled by the obliviously steady ones. The escalator disciplined them to stand in a queue. Though it was winter, the mental sweat wafted in the air, cigarettes and more cigarettes stenches sunk into their warmest wool coats. She scorned at how they all became the sheep, getting out of a corporate pen. All of them riding the stairway of hell and clenching on to their suitcases that harboured something far more treacherous than the Divine Comedy. Though the ride reeked of a few deadly sins, she was greedy for it all.  Envy poisoned her, that even her crumbled resume gasped for life in her clenched fists. She was the one of many who sought for a job, one of those million rejects. When she got to the end of the escalator she made it through the foyer to see a few more nervous, cross-legged, pseudo-pompous seated ones on uncomfortable leather chairs. “If you can brave it, I can brave it.” Through the swivelling doors, she stepped out of the pen.



3
November 12, 2016
Travelling Through, Waterloo

Long ago it must be
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They're all that's left you.
Bookends- Simon and Garfunkel


On a Sunday dull noon, in a stifling room of over spiced rice and disastrous chicken roast, we lazed in our loose cotton robes. It was one of those days we admired ourselves just for consolation. Staring into our cluttered wardrobe, my friend sprung up from her bed, “You know what, I think we all reach a prime age when we are the most beautiful. My mother looked so gracious at 23.” With a sudden jolt of energy, she rummaged through her drawer and showed me a withered black and white photograph of her parents’ wedding.

It was jarring to me. Her hair was slicked back and with a certain regiment partitioned at the centre. Her mang tikka did not bulge and under a certain strict command, it was stationed on her forehead. Barely brushed with any makeup, her skin looked flawless and youthful. She had pursed lips and swallowed her smiles, and the fearsome Kohl dominated her teary eyes. I knew it was an arranged alliance but there she stood straight with her stretched out shoulders to seem very composed, for she was to abide by the sacrament. We looked at each other, dishevelled hair, far from manicured eyebrows and still weary about our issues with men. We were 23, and nothing like her mum in the photograph. Anything but composed.

And when my friend turned 30, I stood at the altar as her bridesmaid. Her bob grew out, and her neatly brushed hair was tied into a bun. Her face looked a little tired, layered with contoured makeup, and I could barely catch a glimpse of her eyes. But she smiled.

A month later, the wedding photos came by post. My mother looked and said, “ She looks quite old for a bride, don’t you think, look at her wrinkles.” It was true, she was far from her mother with the put up composure. For she had the most steadfast eyes, all worth it even if the wrinkles came in time.


4
November 17, 2016
Borough Street

I dont want to lie and dont want to tell you the truth
Get the sense that you're on the move
Stop the world, I wanna get off with You- Artic Monkeys


Natalie ran her fingers through the dusty table. Relentless to take a cloth to wipe it, she looked at the letters she wrote to herself. She sunk into her armchair and read them over. They never made it to a mailbox. It just nested itself in a recluse diary. A diary that took the beatings of an adulterous conscience, oh how it brooded with glorious emotions.

A look around the room surprised her with how she lived amongst sullen walls. The same space where she poured her heart to write ‘most ardently’. She tried to imagine how many hearts she broke of the glum homes she promised to be her everlasting abodes.  But in this room, there were some writings on the wall, a clumsy mistake of dropping some ink on the wooden creaky floors, a part of her sunk into the home. “Sentimentalist,” a friend said, as he lit his cigarette. She watched the rings of the smoke dance away like gipsies and loved its short-lived beauty. He left the cigarette butts on her weary table and it enraged her. More hurtful, than how he summed her up with such brevity.

Natalie wasn’t a sad story, what was anyone thinking, she wasn’t a story herself. There was no rush for a resolution, never to be a glorious one who combats life at its crests or troughs. Never a moment she wished the dizzying world should slow down. But today, the world did not become still, but a passion of hers fizzled. She looked at the wishes that aged for years and wrapped them in some paper. Holding on to a diary of beautifully battered stories, she climbed onto the chair, and on the highest shelf, she left her letters. Hoping one would read her, and find their fate in her words and foolishly fall for the feigned truths. For she was leaving more than a room but the ‘whom’ she just couldn’t be.

The letters whispered, “I want to get off with you.” But she knew her diary was to console some more unrequited loves yet to come. The troughs never scared her. The door closed and she walked out into another world.
“We have places to go, “ Natalie said to herself.


5
November 20, 2016
Back to the memory of my room in my room, Kingston

 But you held your course to some distant war
In the corners of your mind
Angela – Lumineers


Everything is all.
It’s everything she saw.
She calculated every second and how every cell of her body depended on her to take rest. She felt the gnarling creepers choking her mind. She was wildly alive. There was a restless storm in her vast mind that she steered into. She only fueled it more when she refused to cut off the sails. Her boat never sunk but prospered to be tortured by the waves.
But she sunk when she new nothing would be fine, and she knew at one point the boat was of hers to mend. The storms were like the moon.
She closed her eyes.
Everything was none.
She knew the nothingness of it all was what every cell of hers should fight for.
It’s nothing now she saw.



6
November 16,2016
Harts Boatyard, Kingston

Tell your secrets to the night
You do yours and I do mine
So we won't have to keep them all inside
Save Yourself – Kaleo


He waited near the wall and cautiously controlled his breath. He knew that he trespassed a property. She slowly crept to the terrace of her building and lit up her phone and waved it. She could hear herself pant and felt a slight tinge of pain on her knees. They both were enveloped in certain darkness and felt like two ends of untethered jigsaws. 

There was something that was cloaked and uncanny about the night. As the elevator cables ground its way up. She imagined how the terrace would eavesdrop into their conversations. She refused to get up when she heard the creak of the old door. He refused to make an entrance, he just sat by her with a pair of steely eyes looking into the nearby dormant apartments.

She looked into him deeply and said, “ I have someone in me, I don’t want to meet.” And his face never changed, he knew her too much to startle her. They had a certain fondness of their indifference towards twisted schemes of life.
He looked at her, “I proposed to a woman I don’t care about.” He then broke off into a laugh, and he put his hands over her shoulders. But she had that gaze: eyes that were brazen with a newly found truth.
She changed, he didn’t.
She got up, and kissed him good night, and wished she just said her secret to the blank night sky and hoped the child in her never heard a word she said.

7
November 20, 2016
Fairfield Park, Kingston 

I said, which way do I turn
Oh I forget everything I learn
Spies- Coldplay 


They sat in a classroom and listened to the words of the teacher. She had a certain chain of command. All of their notebooks ruled, and what she said all written in verbatim. At the end of the day, the books were collected. The teacher evaluated the children’s handwriting. She was enraged whenever she saw a kid miss out a word she said. Every day the teacher's eyes sifted through the students. All heads buried in a book, she just saw gullible heads with ribbons in their tightly braided hair. The boys' hair slicked with fresh oil, a few of the ones itching their hair. She judged them at an instant, the laziness of the mother who could not spot lice on her child’s hair. She held up her neck with pride, she was the guiding light and the woman of values. 

But she felt she failed when not everyone followed her. She had her eye on a girl who wrote so crudely. An intense disdain gradually warmed in her when she looked at the child. Her hair wasn’t beautifully centre partitioned, her pin-a -fore wasn’t neatly ironed enough. She was a daydreamer. But she was always intently writing. She could only think what a disgrace her mother was and enjoyed the fact her mother was a pure failure in being a woman. In her shrill voice, she narrated some life lessons. The students wrote brainlessly. And to her surprise, her disdained student did not pen a word one day.

Every time the student walked towards the class, her heart raced. And many times she just wanted to turn herself away. The student tugged on to a notebook just for herself. Everything that she wrote was the opposite of what her teacher said.
She did not care about the turn she took.
She unlearned the imparted chauvinism.


8
November 23, 2016
Waterloo Station 

I see you, I see you waiting
I saw you, I saw you standing there
Tell 'em what you're here for, you don't know
From the Stalls- Angus and Julia Stone


I ask you not to bring life to the station. It reeks of corpses like us, aimless souls who breathe in illusionary hopes. There’s no story that transpires among the sea of strangers here. More than see, I can feel that none of us has a meaning, and our pulses race to the numbers of man’s invented time. How we aim to be somewhere where we no other than comfort our weary mind. I ask you not to stand there and look at me. For I saw those eyes that roved in confusion. You hope you’ll see the girl with her coat and catch her by her gait. But I take off my coat, walk swiftly among the others and turn back one last time to see you. 

For I imagined we’d meet when the crowds part their ways for us
And where you stand I’ll understand the never understood 
But
I ask you not to bring life to the station. 
For every path, less of life, I could never live with you. 
And I won’t walk into a dream that’s our greatest form of madness. 


9

November 22, 2016
Stour Space, Fish Island

Where the light shivers offshore
Through the tides of oceans
We are shining in the rising sun
I am softly watching you
Oh boy your eyes betray what burns inside you
I  Love You- WoodKid


Just half past two A.M, he drove past the tollgate. Sifting through his pocket for change, he threw some extra coins at the wiry guard- the borderline between arrogance and kindness. He rashly turned the wheel and pushed the pedal on the accelerator. The bridge was quite lonely, a few lights flickered from the nocturnal drivers’ lorries. He parked his car on the side of the bridge, reached out for his bottle of rum, leant against the rails and looked at the undulant ocean beneath his feet. How pathetic the city was he thought to himself, asleep in the youth of night? He felt steady, no anchors attached to his feet, and he dropped his bottle to gradually climb the bridge. His legs hurt as he stretched over the rails, without any hesitation and the kiss of the wind, he dived in.
And the rush of steely mercury ran in his veins, the cold water made every sense alive, and he plummeted to the deepest of the lake and found his oblivion. With his mighty breath, he swam back to the surface and streamlined with the compass of his conscience.

She looked at the rearview mirror.
She wasn’t him
She could not even find the car keys that her father hid from her.
So she just sat in the car and drove through her mind. Her eyes so tamed to be docile, to herself she said, “If I were just a boy.”






6 comments:

  1. Each story holds a world within itself, and the journey from one to the next was liberating. One could only wonder how someone could think so deeply between lines and tones. Keep writing Atheena. Waiting for the next post!

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    1. Music is poetry and well the fact that I don't watch music videos makes it simpler. Thank you for the compliment.

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  2. Sice this is quite long,some time would be consumed to fully appreciate your masterpiece.How is your studies progressing.My hearty greetings and joyful Christmas to you

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    1. Thank you so much, hope you had a favourite:)
      Merry Christmas to you

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  3. Atheena, I think its Maria you have mentioned in one of your stories. Your style simply amuses me. Music has a magic touch allowing a creative space to work.

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    1. Ha ha, not really, although someone else was in my mind.
      But yes, hope I keep on writing amusing stories :)

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