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Aishwarya Iyer

Blindness  |  In Search of Time   |  Nocturnal Stupor | Strange Days   |  Scratches   |  In sight   |  The State of Afternoons in a Café   |  Cha Wali   |  When a Thing is Perfect, It Dies  |   Uneven Midnight Song   |  Blue Flower

Blindness

I went looking for the sun. The sun was hidden in the folds of two films of irregular convex clouds. A queer picture created itself. The shadow of a cloud fell on the nearer one and the larger shadows merged the city. Only the bounded sun's escaping rays illumined a tin roof, or the flat of a road. There was a river of gold in the sky, a lake at its birth place, that moved to different positions of my seeing canvas as the auto rollicked off at its edges, cutting through listless lanes and startling pedestrians. The lake of gold mesmerized my eyes. The pedestrians who happened to catch my eye caught the amnesia from me. All of us, even the auto driver began to look at the coagulating gold raining limbs of sunlight into our eyes, through green fields lining roadside tanks; we forgot our way and jumped onto a mound of sand. The sun was pushing itself out. Behind the white muscular buildings reeling on my left, I felt the sun bursting the seams of the clouds, melting the blue to whitish sun, wheat of gold everywhere, the sultan of summers and the desire of deserts, filled my eye. I was so drunk that I could see nothing else, only swimming blue goldlets of camels and porcelain trees, ruby oases with fireflies where the sky refracted itself through clouds of wine, cities lost in an endless tower to endless skies. I was almost weary of traveling, my feet were sore, so much had I seen. And they said I went blind.

Footnote

At every peak or end of knowledge, we reach a different mask, a different act. Because perception is not infinitely linear, but endlessly centripetal. Understanding existence is acting different roles. We are not one person. So many, millions of imagined and real.



In Search of Time

Today is the 18th of May. The weather is ambiguous. Yesterday the norwesters cleaned the city of heat. And today the sun was light, frizzled, and sometimes I felt I had caught it in my intestines burning through my navel. We were sweating like monkeys. The dog slept in an incandescent heap in the evening light on the department stairs.

My head veered toward the sky for help. As a child the sky on the sea baffled me. My father once told me that the colour of the sky was reflected from the sea, just as the sea's was reflected from the sky. Both were mirrors to each other. Later on I found out that the sky did not exist. In between was just a universe of light.

A few days back I observed a strange effect. Smoking by the lobby and recollecting the concert guitar, in between splashed across me a vision of the world where every object had a mirror surface. All matter to its most primordial particle was a mirror. Some objects were transparent. When we looked up at the sky we saw the universe of the ocean mingle with stars, and at sea, planets and comets hurtled through the well of water. It was as if this was the plan which is the basis of the parallel mirrors in dressing rooms. Narcissus would have gone blind. And all mankind lived in dreams and visions. What was true was the perfect illusion in the mind refracted endlessly by the wild mirror sheen of the outside. In the mind one sang, one wrote, one played, swam. And more often than not, the trajectory of the light from the image had already passed through someone's else's mind, or more minds, leaving us with an infinitely reduced and refined truth. For the mind too was an open mirror. I gasped as I sought the end of this long strange galaxy. Hurtling down a vacuum of darkness, I arrived at a vision of the universe, in the farthest point in space, a sort of yellow spot in the mind's eye, where a situation of perfect focus is achieved. I imagined all angles and all reflections and all objects, real and conceptual reeling in this dark pool of space.

And today I find myself sitting in a blue painted room, the noise of tv from the next room, gazing road sounds, feet on sand, the hum of conversations, the beating of iron outside my centre window and yellow streetlight freckling through to my fingers.



Nocturnal Stupor

Red green blue city lights, a host of flamingoes breathing through your shirt, rhythmic like a sea of gongs. The arctic of my mind bleeds to a new desert, plane of your breath fallen, we are asleep, I see a swamp of crows cracking a tarpaulin sky, watching rows of new coffins waiting for life in the grave. I press the walls, more defiable than skin, this summer dawn a stranger's bed looking for sleep.

The purple flowers fall like still drops against the dawn moon. The dawn is the sea reclaiming its image in the sky. Drunkenness is a proof of limitless desire, limitless truth. That cannot be bordered. The morning taxi ride swims through the sleep of the city. Taxi drivers, stall holders, rickshawwallahs, meat sellers, aged women at stone balconies emerging from red brick, crows racing with your own taxi, with the speed of thought. Morning opens into the emptiness of night. With just light. Shards and lanes of light spreading through crevices and lane ends and master clouds, soon to blind the city with day. Morning.



Strange Days

The brown streets have flown into the wind melting into lazy blue noon shadows and half-dreamt dreams. Sudden tunes linger blue-eyed, smells of worn-out dust balconies and confused strangers on new lanes, looking for the forest of strangeness to stay longer, for all paths to be unknown and full of warm mysteries of flowers. Each universe unfurls and causes forgetting. Lost in the newness of skies and afternoons.



Scratches

To compose music. Or compose feeling. Create it bit by bit and see the whole even before the parts are placed. One day there was a strange phenomenon in a city. All the drains, sidewalks, broken trees, busstands, tramstands, riversides and all possible places hidden from the sun, opened out in a wild frenzy of mosquitoes. They rushed out filling the streets with a sense of unbroken freedom, they entered through windows and down from the drains into bathrooms. In some cases, they could even be found splaying out of loudspeakers through the music. There were mosquitoes in dreams daydreams fantasies. The river was full of mosquito eggs. The sky soon began to reflect a mottled surface, torn and drunk by the fury of mosquitoes. They fed on everything, even thought.

Her voice rings like a siren mourning, aggressive, melancholy, suddenly bringing forth through invocation, the sense of tragedy and grandeur at the same time. A heavy voice, a sense of iron, melting in its temporality. Her song filled my brain, letting it free and completely broken at the same time. Where did I hear her voice? She haunts me.

Sometimes the word swallows its own sound, and paintings leave unfinished a fourth dimension, changing and growing through time. We swim in and out of it, brushing the grass, changing the tone of its silence or noise. We tune it and tune into it. I want to see moths growing wings, cockroaches mating, monochromatic visions of a mosquito before death.



In Sight

Insight functions outside of language. Once the insight occurs, the mind finds the appropriate thought strands to fit the impression of the insight. Then meaning forms like a cloud of locusts through the yellow sky, shaping patterns and shadows over buildings, lanes, fields, me.



The State of Afternoons in a Café

They come in different colours and moods. A long string of syllables. Floating around the heat, out of the faint window. Cycles, autorickshaws and pedestrians have left vague memories of motion on the parallel street. Circles of words, corners. The coffee stems out through memory. I am here, edged at the inception of an open green room filtered by windows in all dimensions, tuning through mysterious worlds. I hope to die down, at the perfect edges of things and return. The limit of truth cannot exist. I saw the road disappear through the car window.

The next day, like in another song, I find another window by my side, at the perfect end of the room, at an angle to the road. I can see, from here, without disturbing the components of the street. No walking face may unearth mine, from here, especially those curious ones who feed onto visions of window-eyes on silent or stormy streets. The sun slurs around on the roof-tops of autos. Expectation of evening unsettles the room and the street. At some point in thought, the coffee arrives. The competing voices in the café seem to slow down, staying separate and universal, unique flowers. Each perforating time, at its own risk. I wish to stand outside, but sounds are both real and imagined.

The waiters take eons to reach my table, though I know they will come. I can see that their inclination to come to my table increases as I look on in their direction. However, it is difficult to be sure. The other people sitting in the room seem to exist beyond the waiter, they do not need his presence. The voices grow fuller and fuller. I can hear them only as a simultaneous string of tonal words, further as coalesced syllables and then as separate sounds, half-sounds, intermingling and colouring the ray of sunlight warming my still fingers. If here, we are going inside the wormhole of time, through its infinite fractions till the end, it is very tedious perception. Because now, shapes have broken from their specific dimension, from my angle of looking to a colloid of sight. Meeting at various points presumed by the mind, are spectra and further, grains of minuscule differential wavelengths, infinitesimally accurate, growing toward inner dissolution, so much that now I am no more distinct from the others.

Even to make a decision to leave the café now, would interfere with the decay of time. And perhaps I am to see its end.

Directions are no longer visible. I turn my head to look at the sky, to see the stain of clouds ripping its film. It isn't there. I must only float fire-armed on the strain of words, I can survive. The afternoon cracking down turning on the china town afternoon busy town broken down some day's noon dream of windows grown on lawns in afternoon towns here somewhere.
7-8 February, 2005, Indian Coffee House



Cha Wali*

Streetside, she watches the street
Laughing at movement
Her circle is tea and omlettes and bread
Cakes and laddoo and the bench
Moving under the shadow
The dust has crossed her skin
And it looks like glass
Transparent
Water eyes at the street
She remembers passengers
And old songs that fade off
As she begins to sing
A nestle of rickshaws yawn
To the right through afternoon
The strikes may have happened
Movies pass through theatres
She sees the street grow beyond her
As she sleeps
*Cha wali - Hindi for 'the woman who sells tea'



When a Thing is Perfect, It Dies

the dark night, the shadowy morning
and shards of light through time
a love that flows out of the window
one cold winter to the sky
a gaze that travels to oblivion
rainbow feet sing to white
do not take me to the delirium of colour
what can I find
the sky skinning itself
as I watch trams truck
and the city passing through me
I am time



Uneven Midnight Song

The men under orange light fly open off the truck. It seems to be loaded with sweet smelling cement. The constant roar of these men beehunts my senses. They are talking in various tongues of the lascivious/strange/uneven/melancholy heat of the day, pouring in vines through the haze of the long drawn streets. Perhaps some sudden woman is in their minds, some object, some ideal. Their skin gleams snakeskin, wrought in the iron evening skies and roads. I don't know what brings me to dream of them so.

I want the city to lose itself in my skin. Reflect from me as if from a mirror. I see myself in all the passing scenes, wafting like a crazed river.

The truck has vanished from my window. Sitting on a newspaper pile, the shadow of the guitar swims through the mosquito nets. I see myself in all the passing scenes, wafting like a crazed river.



Blue Flower

The colour of this song
Is scattered in different directions
Somewhere along the smell of dusty libraries
When the lost tune of an older song
Crossed my mind and let it bleed
I remember the sense
A colour of skin earth
Like the first time in a new city
As the new edges of roads
Carve upon memory
And for that first time
You feel moth eaten
Gobbled up by the sky
At that moment of namelessness
This song appears
Like when one night
In the perfectly darkened room
A firefly groaned its light for hours
And you stared looking for patterns
That disappeared in refrains
The colour of this song is
The hole in time through parallel points
When as you were listening
You left the song
And acquired colour
While none of them remained