The Quote Hanger

"If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance."
- George Bernard Shaw

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Ground Beneath Her Feet

It's funny how much we take for granted. The irony, of course, is that we rarely realise what we're taking for granted - until it's been taken away. Like the carpet protecting your bare feet from the cold marble floor, for instance. You wouldn't even notice it existed unless it were to suddenly absent itself. Realisation of the missing taken-for-granted-object strikes like an unexpected blow; much like the alarm you experience when the rug you're standing on is pulled from under your feet. But that doesn't mean you can't live without the rug, does it? The shock you're experiencing is a momentary lapse of reason, that's all. After you've inhaled deeply a couple of times, and attempted to rationalise your way out of the "fight or flight" reaction, it'll slowly dawn upon you that the situation is not as bleak as you had initially imagined. You'll learn to go barefoot. Soon enough, you might even learn to enjoy it.

[Title courtesy: Salman Rushdie's The Ground Beneath Her Feet]

Thursday, October 8, 2009

... and you're standing still.

You always thought if you loved enough,
Held it close for long enough,
You would never lose;
How wrong you were.

['Standing Still' by Buddahead]

The Red Door

I remember walking into your sparsely furnished room, and finding you utterly engrossed in yet another book (usually of the “Classic Literature” genre), and then the bewildered look in your eyes as you look up on detecting my presence; a look that conveyed your disorientation on being wrenched from the world in the mildewed pages, to your slightly chilly, bare bedroom. We would stare at each other for a few seconds. Unblinking, I ensured that I did not utter a word. I was afraid of dispersing the look in your eyes. Your uncertainty and confusion were intoxicating to me. They were the only glimpses I received of your true self, of your innermost thoughts. Without moving a muscle or emitting a sound, I simply met your gaze, soaking in as much as I could from your large, ebony black eyes. Those few initial minutes of every meeting were usually identical, and, for me, the most meaningful. And of course, though they seemed to last for hours, they spanned a few seconds only.

You would quickly regain your composure, take your index and middle finger away from your lips (while reading, you were wont to placing the former on your lower lip, and the latter on your upper lip), carefully mark your place, and put the book away. Then, you would swing your legs off the bed gracefully, and slowly walk towards me, with that partly sardonic, partly teasing smile on your face. I was always absolutely awestruck by your confident and purposeful stride, and would wait for you to reach me, too intimidated to move towards you. You used to tell me that you thoroughly enjoyed the effect you had on me while you would take your time walking up to me, slipping a gown over your skimpy nightdress in the process, and finally halting a few inches away from me. The eternal tease that you were, you would raise your head and move your mouth merely an inch away from mine, and then pause to look into my eyes while you slowly intertwined your fingers with mine. You wanted me to succumb, and succumb I always did. Strangely, every first kiss with you felt like the first, and the last. I would try to draw that first kiss out as long as possible: I would relish the taste of you; savour the feeling of running my hand through your long, thick dark hair; dwell on the satisfaction in gripping and releasing your hand; and inhale deeply the distinct, lingering scent of you. Too soon, you would snap me out of my reverie by gently detaching yourself from me, and leading me to your unmade bed, with two large, blissfully soft pillows, and a thick white quilt as its only adornments.

Afterwards, I would sit up in bed and look around your room. It seemed as though every time a new aspect would be revealed to me. I was always intrigued by the fact that you substituted cupboards with two large wooden trunks, which were spilling over with your soft, brightly coloured dresses and a pair or two of old, comfortable-looking jeans. At every visit, there would be a different pair of very expensive-looking high-heeled shoes sitting beside a trunk, along with the perennially present pair of battered red Converse All Stars. The two trunks and the waist-high piles of books scattered all around the room were the only belongings which furnished it. No rug covered the worn wooden floor; no pictures graced the spotless white walls. I had noticed a photograph of an exceptionally handsome boy with a schoolboy’s mischievous grin on one of the trunks once, and asked you about it, too. But the aversion of your face and eyes, and the folding of your arms over your chest following your curt response, “He’s my brother,” made it abundantly apparent that the subject was not open for discussion. That photograph, or any other, had never made an appearance again after that day. On having skimmed through a few of your books, I remember asking you how on earth you had developed such an intense adoration for the likes of Wilde, Salinger, Beckett, Anouilh, the Bronte’s, Hardy, Proust, and, of course, Shakespeare, and several others. You just sat on your bed, the white quilt draped over your torso and your long, bronze legs folded sideways beneath you. A cigarette in hand, you surveyed me quietly, narrowing your eyes slightly as you blew the smoke out in perfect rings. Shrugging slightly, you’d smile your smile again, and once again we would lapse into an easy silence. After you’d finished smoking, you’d slide under the covers and rapidly fall asleep. I remember lying awake on my side, watching you sleep, bringing my finger-tips close to your face but never actually touching you.

Eventually, of course, I would drift off to sleep, and wake with a start in the morning. You never stayed till the proverbial “morning after,” always leaving a note on your pillow instead, which provided polite instructions of the amount of money I owed, and where it must be placed. My clothes would be folded neatly at the foot of the bed, and I would, more often than not, discover a new tooth-brush awaiting me in the bathroom. I would dress quickly, resisting the urge to pry into your belongings to wring any possible information about you. Having scribbled a note which merely said, “Thank you,” I’d leave it in the aforementioned location along with money, and rush out of your bedroom, and would be off to the real world again, shutting the red door firmly behind me.