Friday, December 3, 2010

batman and the gramophone

I have an hour off from work so I go my old place. This is long overdue.

My landlord, busy getting granite tiles in what used to be a beautiful front lawn, says he’ll send someone upstairs to help me get the stuff down.

It’s a long walk to the second floor. The place was an open terrace with two fairly large rooms by the side. We spent winter afternoons there reclining on borrowed bean bags and drinking beer. An impolite old man who used to stand there at his balcony in the distance staring at us libertines was dispatched to his private middle class hell one afternoon when a close friend and I made out to freak him out. He went in and was never seen again (and if so, never staring). There were parties here where girls passed out, infidelities played themselves out and A BANDE APART was projected silently on the terrace wall while Noctuary by Bonobo haunted the fuck out of everyone present. We had adopted squirrels as children here and watched them die helplessly and tried making things easier for each other by mentioning they were playing outside in the sun as they dried, dead, covered by discarded half sleeve sweaters. An acid trip here convinced me that my love was an angel and my angel that I was the devil. Paintings and guitars and unknown Rajasthani violins lined the walls. An old music system was the bookcase. There was a kitchen where we never cooked. Inexplicable, untraceable and exotic underwear would be found on the chairs, in the kitchen and, of course, in the bed. You could find a sex toy or two lying about randomly. Sometimes, you’d realize after it was on your finger, demand an explanation and rush off to the washer (complete with malfunctioning shower and exotic soaps and shampoos and a magazine rack with an old New Yorker, last month’s Rolling Stones and all the Time Outs ever published).

As I enter, I realize the terrace has been covered completely. The floor is marble tiles. What was a lovely view is now a window. My things lie in the middle in a mound of concrete. Out of this stack of love and brick and dust, I salvage a gramophone. A batman poster I stole in my second year in college and had framed is damaged but not destroyed. The music system-cum-bookshelf is destroyed. All the DVDs are in an impenetrable sack. The magazines lie in tatters. The instruments lie about in pieces. A collage I made for my ex and her paintings lie swollen and soaked. A kindly old man in a beard appears. He’s my help. He has a quiet smile that comforts. He helps me carry the things down.

‘Everything else is to be destroyed?’ asks my landlord, still getting the tiles down. ‘Do whatever you want with it’, I whisper under my breath. The man with the beard places the gramophone and the batman poster, all that’s left, in my cab.

The winter sunlight is beautiful. I refrain from putting on my headphones.

Strangely, I feel happy. Maybe even free.