Curiosity (Said the Traveller to the Typewriter)
Here we are. Amidst a sea of saffron turbans that cap matted greying temples and sweaty, salty wrinkling brows. Our feet are rivers in black leather that spray silver earth over white creaseless loincloth. Pink and red skirts sway like sailing ships over soft rounding hips and a brown pregnant belly wobbles like the globe of the rising sun beneath a starched blue cotton blouse. Muscular dark arms sit wrapped and caged under white rigid bracelets like dead driftwood branches lined with noisy squawking seagulls. A single hand clutches at a long embroidered scarf to shield an unseen face like a starry night sky veiling a new moon. Loud speakers blare unseemly sounds as folk in their fineries gather on the streets like twinkling lights in the distant horizon. Shopkeepers roll down noisy shutters of closing trade stores and the yellow fire from kerosene lamps attracts a million singing mosquitoes over the sweet smelling tea stalls. Juice carts crash against the flow of the oncoming traffic and little girls with wide black eyes in heeled golden sandals dart around them like ants in a broken line.
Here we are. Drops in a sweeping monsoon sky. Dark thunder rolls to the footsteps of men chasing uninvited scavenging cows; raindrops pelt thrashing windscreen wipers as dripping shepherds navigate sharply swerving cars away from their bleating soaking sheep, sheep and cars encountering each other as ions in a thick white cloud. The nostalgic scent of wet dry earth mixes with urine and dung, the sights and sounds of animals and people co-inhabiting. Climate, weather, time, life, and place dissolve into a single un-captured instance that echoes freely across the arid desert-scape.
Here we are. Like scarecrows hanging on a line, like broken signs across a roughly littered path. We are the narrow roads that wind languidly across ancient shrubby hills and the sandy tracks that halt pointlessly and abruptly at placeless sandy dunes. We are the bursting tires that fire through the still dry air, we are the trucks in search of a way, we are local farmers en-route to the field that direct us through the unpaved trails. We are overhead electric cables that sizzle in warning. We are running milestones narrating like fortune cookies. Directly ahead, atop our flyover we are the oversized vehicle that has crashed into us, a large herd of buffalos, and we lie stinking and dead, not buffalo but corpse. We are the large white sacks of fly ash from our containers that lie scattered across our highway interspersed with our broken flailing bodies of we the keepers and we who were kept.
Anger (Said the Typewriter to the Traveller)
A blue mirage in the land of death. With lights and hues that are vivid too. An orchestrated hallucination of sharp technicolored precision.
Have you sailed those rivered black shoes?
Have you been choice-less and voiceless as a floating log in a thrashing current?
Oh fine connoisseur of spirit; you in little glass bottles amass instances of somebody else’s force. I spot bottles of hope and hopelessness; tagged, named, pinned, documented. Blood samples from the sati palms imprinted on their walls (what did history do here, we wondered); peeling plaster from broken blue homes with quaint copper utensils, (everyday their rooms flood and their father is missing after heading for the city in an overloaded truck); orange fabrics that matched the hem of the skirt of the girl whose face you never saw (she cooked for you, one hand on the stove and the other on her purdah).
Does tragedy accessed outside yourself make you feel alive?
Does your proximity to their stories make their stories yours?
You love to visit these shades and hues. You love to stare. You long to own the stories for a day. You ache to experience their depths, without enduring them. You cruise along these fables. Ah, naïve tourist, you are the visitor to our stories; you come to look and leave. Tourist, like an insurance salesman you love to distribute our stories, don’t you.
Wishing (Says the Traveller to the Typewriter)
Tell me, cynical typewriter, have you never wished for the gift of a thousand lives? You see in the suit of a traveller I roam immortal and infinite. In my body I house a hundred heroes that I may encounter. In a single lifetime I feel what all men ever have felt. I hold your suffering as I would a tender bird in the cup of my hands and it is here that the clay of your frail tale is cast into battle epic and evermore. Through my eyes pinks turn to crimson, greys to silver and yellows to gold. I am the prism that splits your shadows into rainbows. I am the prism that refracts unadorned emotions to superhuman proportions. As I roam, the myths of your strange lands flow like veins across the body of the world. Don’t you understand, cynic, as fresh blood to the brain, as fresh air to the lungs it is these tales of the unheard and these notion of the un-worded that awaken the world to new life each dawn.
Hey you cynic, are you afraid of the men and the women? Do you not see their strength? If they endure, as you say they do, would they be harmed by a gaze of another like me?
Cynic: “Oh the grand tales you tell us, do they belong to this humble place?”
Dreamer: “Nay, in dreams do they reside.”
Sceptic: “And are they more or less than the truth?”
Weaver: “Truthful are they, in sentiment and compassion. But narrower and less imaginative that reality.”
Sentinel: “Do the sounds of you alter the sense of them?”
Spy: “We try to remain quiet, we try to see without being seen.”
Oh Monster Global (The Outburst of a Typewriter)
Remain quiet spy? Your heroes are naught but the devils of time. Never were you quiet as you think you were, typing signs over my open unknowing leaves. Never unique, not even knowing of truth. While you live in the worlds of dreams, here in my daily life, everything is distorted. The stories you wrote never were mine.
I saw cattle everywhere in this desert. In image and in word, we were the oranges and lemons, colours to you; we were the oceans of millions that you touched. We wished you would take away our morbid sense of destiny, we wished you would greet us and meet us and sit by us. We wished you would make us, as yourself, ever-changing neon light; and also we laughed at you and hated you for it. We became those traders that you met and we opened our markets and our stores and we filled them up with the things you might desire, things that we would come to desire ourselves, we filled our pockets with your currency, like pimps we sang and we danced for your entertainment, and to you we bequeathed the best of our women and the worst of our stories. Under your gaze we called you the individualists and the capitalists and ourselves we called as you called us, as you would have us call ourselves. Sometimes we saw ourselves in you and you in us, but only for a fraction, and the course of our lives was altered once again.
You are a sweeping wave of globalisation that destroyed my geography.
You are the observer and the performance, both the tree and the forest in which it resounds as it falls noisily.
You are the mirror to my inner most self-loathing.
The Situation (The Poetry of an Inspired Traveller)
Here we are. An instance that swells like furling smoke into an infinite sky. An instance when your eyes cross mine, and we encounter each other and we stare, eagle vs. vulture, spy vs. spy. And in that instance we are child like lovers and playmates, small, young, vulnerable human life. That is the infinite instance that we live for and die by. Uncloaked, undressed, all colours to white, all truths to black, no longer you or I, but us, together, love. We may snap out of it quickly and fight the war of the traveller and the typewriter, the war of east and west, the war of inner and outer, the war of spirit and substance. But there it was. The situation. I came across the universe to know you, and I do. We part ways, we both do stray. And for an instance we are this situation we created, this place, this time, this geography, this history, this cloak that allowed that wandering heart an encounter with another as itself.
An awkward moment, a raised lip, a single inhaled breathe, a slight hesitation. Here we are, this instance. We are a situation.