can’t you hear me
I’m yelling as loud as I can
my body between yours-es, but paper-thin
so that you accidentally slice through me
I’m not really here, but lord do I try
Jack be nimble, Jack be quick
Jack stop putting your foot in it.
My hands are crisscrossed with scars from my cat’s claws, and I’ve spent all my poetry in making her beast eyes mean something. They say, ‘no matter how much you feed the wolf, it keep looking back towards the forest’. Lost cats are like lost chances and failed exams – the panic of missing a step, and falling down, down, down, just like in that one movie I saw when I was seven – the knowledge that this is a calamity waiting to happen. For now, we tuck into each other, a feline and a girl. One vibrating with contentment, the other just dying to change places.
The nights always get away from me. I look at the broken digital clock I stole from someone, and it could be saying 8.10 or 3.49. I go with whichever possibility makes my stomach swoop with guilt. That’s usually how I know the right answer to everything – the certainty of having missed it, again.
1. I’d shave with a straight razor, or get a shave with a straight razor. I’m assuming I’ll be the type to grow a beard quickly, so there is a satisfying rasp as the stubble is shaved off. All the men I ever saw sitting back at the barbershop, getting shaved, had a look of such utter zen on their faces, that I’ve wanted to get a shave forever; even if that means having bits of shaving foam stuck behind my ears.
2. I’d scratch myself in public transport without shame; and I don’t mean I’d go straight for the crotch – being a girl, even scratching your side is unacceptable. Any sort of scratching is unacceptable, period, because girls are not supposed to itch.
3. I’d stare at boys in utter abandon, and hopefully not start any “What’re you lookin’ at?” fights.
As midnight rolled in, I kept chatting with a far-away, newly-married and lonely cousin in the US, while frantically copy-pasting links to cat rescue/adoption pages for an acquaintance who displayed some slight interest in keeping one. A phone call from my best friend. A constant, sub-sonic headache in my right temple. For the first time in 23 years, I don’t want for more. It’s fine. I’m not writing to reassure myself of my newfound zen, but to document it, lest I forget tomorrow, or day after, or a week from now. Lest I fall into my usual miasma of craving constant attention; if I could do without it on my birthday, I can do without it on all other days.
Stumbled out of my room at 1 AM to find Baba supine in front of the TV; he couldn’t sleep. Ended up making myself a cup of tea (with Marie biscuits) and slumping down beside him to watch the last bit of an ancient music program featuring Hemanta Mukhopadhyay. Listened to snatches of my favourite Bangla songs, in his deep, perfect voice. He smiled so rarely, hardly crinkled his face or moved his hands in time to the music. Absolute stillness. Between talking and breaking into song, not a single extra fussy break, or cough. Just a sudden lift.
I finished my tea, and my kitten pounced at the tea-bag string. Dragging it around triumphantly, she left brown patches on the floor. Baba went back to bed. I cleaned up after myself, and found my headache gone. Its so quiet now, at 3 AM. My cat is purring, and the fan is a soft susurrus in the background. This is just fine.