The toes on those feet. Damn! They look squarer than last year. Cleaner too. Slightly translucent, clinging gingerly to those long pale feet under the slender, athletically long legs of hers. I find myself asking why the nails on those darn toes are so fascinating? But anything to take my mind off those darn ‘lady legs’. They are all around me. Attached to big butts and wide hips, to petite frames and stick figures, to curvy thighs and brown buttocks. I look at my own. Covered well in the flowing black garment of pure Khaddar with grainy white bits losing themselves in the blackness like the stars that dim away in the deep purple sky before the sunrise. Suddenly nails, toes, feet and the legs on them begin to dissolve. The barbeque coals are rupturing my nostrils’ peace with that obtrusive ashen smoke and yet there is no food in sight. Food! The one true source of Nirvana, the higher consciousness we toil for, day in and day out. Nothing else should matter right now, but this heady cocktail of “lady legs’ is ‘all that haze’. Maybe this is just that cursed time of the month again and the cocktail is not of the legs, but of the hormones within me. If only these dudes can hurry up with the grilling. A dose of succulent meat in the tummy can end this bitter hangover.
Smoke emanates from a corner where the smell of the burning coals and meat are in a warm inseparable embrace, tended by the watchful eyes on those lounging bodies, that spewed some more smoke from the slender cigars in their hands, encircling the already brewing concoction.
Meat! This bloody nation of meat lovers. Getting thick in the head- all of them! What is up with all this fuss on the how well done it is now? It is never going to be well done. Dead bodies are done forever. What else does one do with it? We are no worse than vultures. Maybe even worse. Munching on these pieces of flesh, prepared for burial in our tummies with the spices, the colonizers busted the ‘golden sparrow’ for. Ah, how the tremors of this horror will quiver within the flesh-eating birds when they see the Ashraf-ul-makhlooqat (the supreme over all created beings) sitting undeservedly atop the food chain, not just filling their ungrateful stomachs, but revelling in the seasoning of the dead bodies they adorn with all sort of flavour. My core is repulsed by the sight of it. Look at these predators laughing away casually around a clump of burning coals over cruelly beaten iron strips, over an iron case, lying flat under the piercing skewers, holding the decorated dead flesh, ‘skilfully’ arranged on them. Don’t these flesh eaters know they will die too? Ugh! Enough if this. Shun this thought. They are just a bunch of kids enjoying a night of barbeque with each other. Squaffing about the pitiful woes of existence that plague their stuffed intestines, but tremulous souls. If only I could truly hate them for their fleshy indulgences. I cannot. I have my own.
The horizon shows all but twinkling lights against the dark sky. Cars and beings are ant-size from here. The breeze is getting cooler as the hours slip from the evening into the night. The same could not be said of the bodies present. If only there was a Bluetooth device that could connect the human mind to the wireless speaker which is flooding the thin summer air with beat-full music right now, we’d know the cause of the heat within.
That dark look on her face. Whatever goes on in her mind? A decade elapsed and the inner recesses of her mind are still unknown to me. Maybe it is not the companionship of our minds, but our times. The times have been right. Time has been on our side. Even a full circle changed nothing. A strong sturdy support. A silent pact to standby no matter what. Milestones have been achieved. Partners have entered and left and stayed. And she has stood in her corner, waving her cheering banner silently and consistently, through rain and sunshine. But then the clouds in her eyes are beyond me. My cheerleading cannot reach her then. All the strenuous struggle fossilizing that muscle into strong arms, and yet I cannot lift her from the abyss of her own thoughts. If only she could stop looking at the meat and come help put it on the coals, I could try and make the clouds rain.
Mosquitoes throng the lot. Smoke is not abatement strong enough. The occasional firefly or a bat enthral the already cacophonous ring around the fire, and there is some laughter and some screechy tenors letting go of their chords altogether, heady with the night’s stillness.
He is helpless again. He is alone too. I must rise from my snug ensconsement and stand by him, shoulder to shoulder, man for man. But these legs. Ah, begone thy temptress, my blood calls me. My heart too? I too become helpless when I see his gaze drift towards that face. The face aghast with spirits from the Hades. Rise, mortal! Tend to your kin in his hour of need. The call is strong but the weights are heavy. I am tied to my throne, my grave. This pride of gazelles has gathered around their water hole, stubbing cigarette after cigarette into the sparkling stone lap placed in the centre of the Persian rug on the floor of this piece of heaven. I look up at the clear night sky. Each sparkle real and close to me, like the criss-crossing lines on my palm. The smoke from the coals is mixing with the smoke from the pride around me. It is swirling like a restless spirit into the clear night sky. I bring my eyes back to earth and fixate them on the watering hole, the sparkly crystal housing the stubs from the pack. One day, we will all end. Unfulfilled and not fully burnt but useless. She sits there uselessly now. Leaning her back against the wall, folding her knees so she can rest her arms on them and form a bridge between the gap between her legs and rest that darn face on them. Those darkened clouds in her eyes will be the death of me.
The crystal pit of destructive pleasure, slowly filling up to its brim with squashed butts and shunned away filters, rests slothfully midst them. The delectable vapour disrupts the inseparable embrace with its sweet smelling delicate dewy smoke. The dexterous hands of the watchful eyes toil away, blending and preparing for the exotic aroma to spread and hover over the warm bodies, and precariously lifting the baby coals to blow off the miniscule ashes of them. The regal intricately adorned vessels carrying the exhilarating vapours have been cleaned and prepared, to override the coals, the meat and the cigars.
She has her back towards me. Seemingly thoroughly engaged in an animated conversation about something I care not to pay attention to. She seems to be enjoying herself. Feigning to be displeased at a comment they made; he made, she cannot fool me to believe she is truly distressed. Suddenly she stops, looking attentively at the speaker, but visibly lost in the mud of her own mind. Her eyes are glazing over even when her ears are fully conscious of the content. I can see her quivering soul midst all the theatrics of gossip and intellectual discourse. She longs to be alone, aching to have a real conversation. I sense an understanding smile spill over my face. Just at that moment, she turns around her head and looks me in the eye. A tortured gazelle flashes in her earthy brown pupils. I shoot back a reassuring beam, enough to show understanding but also coaxing to carry on and not give up. A menthol like coolness spreads in my eyes and slithers down my throat as I see her eyes light up with recognition of the bond that goes beyond words. This soul kindred to mine, fills the universe with the calmness that stills the tremors of my being. Having her so close but not near is gratifying enough. As if the knowledge of her existence was not blessing enough, she is now around my being, like a thorny ambush of roses.
Cackling laughter filled the night air, contaminating the silence of the city that sleeps early, waking up the gods from their recluse in the heavens above. Being many feet above the ground, closer to the endless skies may have helped. The chortles and the gagging from overwhelming humour, a potent urge to fill the emptiness of existence with connection. But oh, too afraid to let all those walls down. Horrified at the idea of baring the raw throbbing human. Drowning the uproar within by creating a ruckus without. If only the voices on the head were unmuted, the stars won’t seem so far away.