Sunday, December 25, 2011

Skipping Stones

May 12, 2005

“You hold it like this, supported by the middle finger, between the thumb and the index finger,” he said.

I copied the curl of his fingers around the flat, circular, smooth stone, trapping it in my grip.

“Now, spin the stone while releasing it, like this,” he said, and released the stone.

His stone went click, click, click, jumping on the water. It skipped seven times before drowning finally.

But when I released my stone, spinning it as much as I could, it went WHOOSH into the water.  Dead.

“Now that’s called a submarine,” he said. “You don’t throw it like that. You ought to keep it low, like this,” he said, and threw another one. Six skips.

I tried again. Two skips.

“Well, it should make an angle of about twenty degrees when it hits the water,” he said, and let out a breath.

Now that was some sensible way of teaching. My stone skipped five times.

“You scientific brain, you need to breed some intuition, some way of relating to things and actions based on how you feel you should relate to them,  without setting down the rules and laws of the interaction beforehand.  You’ll realize how much more you would learn,” he said.


Sometimes, I see your smile on strange faces. I recognize the way the lips, full and able, reach out to the cheeks, and stay there for a second, in a deep, knowing bond. I get so caught up in the smile that I register the face only a little later and by that time, whoever’s face it is, stops smiling and starts looking at me with a mixture of confusion and concern. The confusion needs no explanation. The concern probably springs out of how I look when I register the face.

Then I try to smile apologetically, as a person who mistakes somebody for somebody else would, but I realize that the concern on the stranger’s face just grows larger, probably because my face doesn’t do a good job of putting up a show. I feel my neck getting warm and the lump rising in my throat. I turn around and rush away.


You don’t know this, of course, but I was around when they declared you dead.

You’d never let me near you in any of the ITP spells. So when your parents came out to make arrangements, and I entered the room, I didn’t know what to expect.

Slowly, I lifted my hand to remove the cloth from your face, fearing that there would be red spots all over you, spots that you’d never let me see in the three years we’d known each other.

I shut my eyes, removed the cloth in one stroke, and opened them back again. And honey, there wasn’t a spec on your face. It’s so indescribably strange, but the fact that I didn’t have to see you like you’d never wanted to be seen, came like a sharp streak of light in the dark realm of my pain. I remember the relief at seeing how good you looked, and the uncontrollable sobs that followed, when I realized that it seemed as if you’d shaved just the previous evening.

I bent down and kissed you, and felt your lips one last time. The next I remember thinking anything was when I heard footsteps approaching. That was when I wiped my warm tears from your cold face.


Sometimes I think that my life would have been so much easier with you around. Now I have to figure everything out for myself.  But you know, I’ve not been a submarine. Had you been here, you would have taken some pride in that.

I think, the day you died and I came to your room, I established a resigned understanding with death. Since then, while I know that the faceoff waits somewhere out there, I skip as a stone in an ocean, and defy the laws in that the successive skips aren’t smaller. Here’s to you, and to all the time we spent together.


©Rasagya Kabra, December 24, 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Little Things

It was late evening and we were looking at rock and mineral specimens from somebody’s personal collection, on display, in an old, forgotten building in CP. The particular specimen in front of us was a sparkling thing, some sort of a zeolite with a scientific name that was hard to pronounce. It had a beautiful broad base and finger like projections that dazzled under the pale light.

I looked at him, by my side, and we exchanged a little surprised glance.

‘It is found near waterfalls. It looks like this because of being hit by the forceful running water, for hundreds of years,’ we were informed.

The idea of becoming so interesting by constantly being in the way of something forceful seemed fascinating to me. The water didn’t matter to that rock anymore. But it was a part of the way the rock was, its pressure had been internalized and made into the shape and being of the rock. It was like life and evolution. Things impact you, things go, but the impact stays and becomes a part of you.


We didn’t intend to go to anyplace remotely like a museum. Not that day, not then. We’d just come out to eat and take a stroll.

It’s a little strange, but, for me the line between imagining things and recollecting them from memory blurs if there aren’t distinct external things that I can tag some of my memories to. Such and such a thing with person X in that restaurant, that street, that corner, makes the whole episode with person X easier to remember. It’s as if I need the physical world to testify to me that I’m not hallucinating, that things I remember actually happened.

So we were out on a stroll when we landed there, in that gallery. Some sign board caught his eye and we climbed up the steps, curious and smiling in our languor. 

In a corner of my mind I knew that it was going to be the last hour or so we would spend together. We could go back to his room after that. But there wasn’t any point in that because he would need time to pack his stuff.


I came across a blue octagonal specimen that seemed to have razor sharp edges. It was frozen as an iceberg, with very fine cuts all over, that refracted light. I turned to my side to draw his attention to it, but realized that he was a few paces ahead of me.

He was looking at a massive Scolecite, studying it with clean, simple attention.

I like looking at him from a distance. At such times, I tell myself that I don’t know that man. He’s just somebody I have seen for the first time. Then I ask myself if I find him interesting, like that, from a distance, as an outsider. Having asked the question, I try to answer myself. That day, the answer was a very violent yes.   

I was still gazing at him when he turned to me. He noticed the look in my eyes before I could do anything about it. He smiled his measured, deep smile. He walked back.

His arm felt warm around me. “That’s some good time together, isn’t it?” he said.

“That’s some really good time together,” I said.

We started walking toward the exit.

“So, when exactly do you leave?” I said.

“By midnight.”

I looked at my watch. “It’s about time you started packing.”

“Packing’s done. I did it while you were asleep,” he said.


©Rasagya Kabra, December 14, 2011