Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

What Have You Done?

The street runs from Carlton House, through Piccadilly, and into Oxford Circus, where at the top, the Church is its crown. Although every building in that street was old, the church was the oldest; a spire that rose into the grey London air like an anomaly. To this day he uses that church as his compass as he exits Oxford Circus Station. Direction is his weakness.

You were supposed wait by Margaret Street, she says, by that spirally building - did you get lost?
All Souls Church, you mean.
It's a church? They walk.
Yes. Nash's only surviving design in this street.
Who is Nash? The hazel of her eyes looks in question.
Adorable, he laughs. It is a crisp laugh that belonged to old men, men who returned to laughing like children when all their troubles troubled them no more. Weren't you supposed to be born and bred here?
Well Mr-I-know-it-all, I was actually born in Lahore.

He hadn't noticed how flawless her skin looked against the grey of London. As a child he had an affair with roses and there was a rosy hue always hanging about her cheeks. He stops. She stops. What? He brings his hand up toward her, and like a tailor who sees a rare piece of silk, carefully runs his finger along the length of her face, from cheek to chin. White silk turns red.

Now look what you've done... she murmurs, looking down.
Is the floor more interesting than me?
You'd look into my eyes. It's what you do.


*****


She stands before the mirror and brushes her long brown hair, her blouse still undone. He is in bed, he would pick up his camera but he prefers to use his eyes. It's 5.30 and Thirleby Road has turned dark - the light before the mirror shows him her beauty. He notices that she is buttoning herself up, this makes him uneasy. He does not like clothing in the confines of four walls. And now standing behind her, for every button she did, he undid one. Stop it! He does not stop. They are all waiting for me back home! He turns her around. You have to stop! His hand disappears behind her. Stop…she's reduced to a whisper. There is skill in his fingers. Her breasts are free. You've unhooked many before, haven't you? He does not answer. He's that tailor again, his eyes flashing, running his fingers unto his fabric. White silk turns red. She sighs - now look what you've done…


*****


John Nash, he says, looking at the fire with dim eyes, was the man who designed much of London during the Regency - even the Queen's palace - and consequently, our Regent Street.
How do you know all this? She lifts her head from his chest, looking up to him.
He does not answer that question. But you know which is my favourite?
Regent's Park.
Yes, Regent's Park.

Her milky, rosy hue is a stark contrast to his rusty brown. She notices this and smiles. His dark eyes replies. Two countries of the same land, he says. She feels romantic, he feels cheerful. I'm bridging the gap between our countries, he continues, one Pakistani woman at a time. She smacks his naked chest hard. The sting makes him laugh his crisp laugh. The duvet hides her breasts but not her shoulders - he likes it this way, he fancies that she is wearing a strapless dress; something she would never do outside these four walls. He lays his weight upon his elbow and watches her. His eyes tell her what his mouth will not. He is captivated.

You're looking again, she says, nearly turning away.
I've seen all of you my dear - why turn?
The idea that a man is looking so intensely, as you do, makes me blush. You speak with your eyes, smile with them. When we talk seriously, they grow dim. When we are intimate, they flash. It's all your eyes, and they can say so much, yet say nothing at all.

With a single stroke, he pinches the fire from the candle. His eyes flash. Now look what you've done…

The room darkens.



Monday, 17 June 2013

Poetry 13/06/2013

Bird, what bade you to the land the carrion lives?
where the fire erupts and licks thy wings?
Take your seedlings away for greener pasture
Here, they've felled Good and God's banner

Shan

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

A Condition.

How did we go from the naked child, to the naked man? I heard my father once muse. One happy and oblivious, the other aware and miserable. Beside me, a woman was naked, and I was not happy. I thought if I could take a portrait of E, she would be naked, if I could paint her, she would be naked too - it is how I saw her. There is no perversion here for I am not instantly excited at the sight of her nudity but rather, like a man of analysis, drawn by the prolonged view of it. A view that does not age - it remains like good art suspended on a grand wall, not to be forgotten, but instead, to be gazed upon, and to be discovered within: beauty - again and again - as a scientist would in the vastness of the night sky the existence of new stars. It was a numerous and arduous task, and that did not require the nuisance of clothing.

Within her flesh I sought her heart, within her heart, I sought her love, within her love, I sought - like an innocent child in need of tending - me. In her every molecule, I found the atom that was I - two separate entities bonded to make a whole. But she would not know this until long had passed and the memory of her had begun to fade in me. A man of love seeks what a man of science hunts. They are kindred souls in their quest; like voyagers, setting out to seek new lands in an old world. That is what I sought in her. Do you know the word for it?

The condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death


There are some nights I dream of a man, his hands in his pockets, peering into the night sky before the shores of a calm ocean. And there, with a tired smile upon his face, like one who is set with a laborious but welcomed task, seeks new stars as they litter the horizon. He must be a man of science, the narrator of my dream tends to suggest, but I half believe that the man is I, and the sky, her. A man full of love seeks in his beloved what a man full of science hunts in the stars.

Life.

Friday, 7 June 2013

In the Garden of Gethsemane.

I play the eleventh tape and the music instantly fills my study like the smoke from a fire that fills a burning building. I recognise the song and it is already halfway through. I know this part, I held my wife's hand tighter to this in a dance - I cannot remember where.
Entraînés par la foule qui s'élance
Et qui danse
Une folle farandole
Nos deux mains restent soudées
He is speaking to someone again, but who is this? He speaks as she sings. We hear the both of them as though they are talking about the same thing in different tongues. In the Garden of Gethsemane, he says, there was a man who was kissed. Do you know him? Giotto painted this scene with clubs and fire. I was not clubbed, but set on fire. When I woke up that morning after a troubled sleep, I found her crouched at the end of the room like a wounded animal. She was in distress and confusion. I wanted to console her, but she kissed me like Judas and my flesh burnt where her lips had lingered. The spirit is willing enough that good man said, but the flesh is weak. Hers was the weakest.
Emportés par la foule qui nous traîne
Nous entraîne
Nous éloigne l'un de l'autre
Je lutte et je me débats
Mais le son de ma voix
S'étouffe dans les rires des autres
Et je crie de douleur, de fureur et de rage
Et je pleure...
There was a part of me that was saddened by the sight of her pain, and another, satisfied by it. Betrayal is a state of paradox. It does not turn love into hate; it does not in a hot flash or in a slow gradient, turn from white to black. Hate is spawned from love, and like an illegitimate child ashamed of its own birth, battles with its parent. It splits the being into two, carrying both black and white, joy and grief, both warring upon each other until one is victorious and the other is dead. 
Et je crispe mes poings, maudissant la foule qui me vole
L'homme qu'elle m'avait donné
Et que je n'ai jamais retrouvé...
But for those few unfortunate souls whose hate runs as deep as their love, there is neither defeat nor victory, neither the calm and shame of surrender or the din and celebration of triumph but like the winds of a tornado formed of two opposing forces, only destruction.

He stops speaking. I hear the faint static of the recording and I hear him breathing. The tape ends.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Lepidoptera.

Carl Linnaeus in 1758 called them collectively as Lepidoptera in his Systema Naturae.

A flying insect of the order Lepidoptera, distinguished from moths by their diurnal activity and generally brighter colouring

When I was a child and did not know better, I tried many times to catch one with my bare hands. Once, I succeeded and never wanted to do so again. I remember it now, it was a Graphium agamemnon which came under the Equites Achivi, the group Linnaeus named after the Greek army in the Trojan War. I felt the gentle flaps of his wings within the cusp of my hands; at first rapid and frantic, then slow and fatigued, like a heart on the verge of giving away. The butterfly faded; it was too gentle a creature between the grasp of too ignorant of a beast. Too large a beauty in too small a cage. When I opened my hands I was horror stricken. The dust that God had lain tenderly upon his wings to form the wonderment that is a butterfly was now smudged recklessly on my palms. What made it beautiful killed it, and in trying to catch beauty, I only caught death.

It is the same with love.