Heat

Published: Tue, 06/01/2010 - 07:51 Updated: Tue, 06/01/2010 - 07:52

The heat has no fragrance, neither feeling, nor touch, or sense or sensuality. The heat has no memory, neither thought nor feeling. The heat moves across the lungs and intestines and enters the skin of the eye and becomes defocused inside the inflamed mind as if the cells of memory are looking for a dark room to unwind the camera and its image. The image is shrouded in a shining funeral of scorching white light - you can only close your eyes to see it, or become a daily sleepwalker of infinite insomnia, looking for a patch of darkness or green or shadow or solitude of silence, where there is neither this naked light nor this slow oppressive heat, multiplied umpteen times by the diesel and petrol fuel, the smoke, the dry humidity, the CO2 emissions, the air-conditioners, the thousands of cars and SUVs, the tar on the road, the concrete, and the male aggression of this power capital. Plus millions of tonnes of dust and mud, building material, dug up pavements and under-construction roads, stadiums, buildings, subways, flyways - all suspended in time and space of the cracked lips of May, all ready to devour us in this commonwealth of shared heat, allegedly threatening to be an athletic celebration of bodies and limbs in cool colonial nostalgia. 

So the suspended dust and the heat move in jarring symphony like a gigantic nuclear wave lining the inside of your shirt and spaces between your eye-lashes and fingers. It turns you eyeless in Gaza, blind and awake at the same time, sinking through this amazing tide of oppression on the streets, and inside the burning walls of your room. And you look at the urban birds and feel how thirsty they are, their wings shrinking, their mouths open, as if they are all posing for a collective painting called Scream. So what if the birds stop tweeting and only celebrities do, cocooned as they are from this heat on the street, outside the brain cells of time present and time future?

Where can you run away from this commonwealth of deconstruction costing thousands of crores of public money? Who benefits from all these mindless constructions, turning an entire city upside down? After demolishing the homes of the poor, are they building a future infrastructure, homes for the homeless, drainage systems, drinking water schemes, water bodies and canals, cycle tracks, schools and hospitals, a new sports culture? After devouring so much money, they just can't clean up a sewage drain called Yamuna in Delhi, and they are promising us a world-class city! What a soulless irony full of shit! Like the river as testimony.

Meanwhile, she is breaking stones, like Nirala's Pathar Torti Aurat. She is breaking stones under this killer sun, inhaling the heat, sinking with the light, building this world-class city, her child on the pavement. An epical poem repeated endlessly in vicious cycles of history, rendered invisible, never to be crafted in stone.

Perhaps the night will arrive with a moment of relief, or self-belief. Perhaps there will be a green dream of a cold stream of water filtered through the stones of the hills and a beam of light through the forest where the grass is agleam and the rhododendron turns pink-red in burning cool and a little firefly can welcome the dark clouds becoming darker and darker in the night. 

Perhaps there will be a childhood whistle played quietly between the lips, and the ghost stories would move from terrace to terrace like ghosts, and the radio would enter the magical realm of the 1960s, and like a Jibonanda Das poem, under the cosmos, she will come with a half-eaten orange next to the mosquito net, as sleepless as all of us. 

Perhaps the night will arrive with a cool wind from the north - a clean, moist, transparent wind  - and detox our lungs and minds of the dust and the heat of these mindless games of the powerful and the rich. Perhaps one day I will escape this hellfire of condemnation and become quiet and peaceful once again, like a full moon on a small town terrace, walking the bylane, as invisible as that woman breaking stones, as non-epical as that epical poem, forever dust and stone, neither sense nor sensuality, just like this heat moving inside the funeral mind looking for a cool image in a dark room.

This story is from print issue of HardNews