Adrift: A Short Story

The grass that grows in my garden is quite green. And so are the weeds. They issue forth an incredible green energy. The fact that they are resplendent fills me with pride: I have a thing or two for flora. As I sit in my balcony overlooking the garden, I can see and hear them swinging and swishing against the wind even as I keep squatting in my chair or scooting around the house. I must confess I love the sound of grass. Not to mention its smell. But wait! Have you, by any chance, presumed that I just grow grass and weeds in my garden? Of course not. Grass and weeds are only the collateral produce. For my garden is an extraordinarily ordinary garden where flowers bloom — flowers of all kinds, all colours, all sizes, all fragrance. And I revel in the whiff that emanates from them — a mixed scent of myriad flowers. My garden is the melting pot of flowers of all hues, a mélange of petals, leaves and, yes, thorns. They are joined by the brotherhood of aroma. Sniffing this aroma has helped me keep my sanity amidst the putrid stench of insanity all around. And the grass and weed have also helped me stay afloat —kept me from going mad and kept my madness going — in their own ways. In ways you would not believe me if I tell you. You will, I am sure, laugh it off. Grass and weed helping us humans endowed with better faculties than any other species? Huh! How can that be?
But trust me. They have. In ways that have taken me, and everyone around, by surprise. In ways that no human being helps his own kind. Sometimes I feel I should have a separate garden for them. For it is not fair that they are reduced to be the mere collateral produce, overshadowed by the bunch of buds, losing their luster amidst the blooming, blossoming petals. I have a genuine concern for grass. As much as I have for my garden. Grass and garden. Garden and grass. A garden of grass. Grass of a garden.
My garden! It has a good array of choicest of flowers — handpicked over all these years — the kinds everyone would do anything to grow: lilacs, roses, daffodils, chrysanthemums. You name it and it grows in my garden. It is a rarity in my neighborhood, as hardly anyone has any time for flowers: My neighbours don’t see any point in wasting time on flowers, they are busy planting money. They are wiser: they grow wealth. Its dividends are real. And more consequential, productive and profitable. What do you get when you shower so much care and currency on flowers? They ask me. What concrete and tangible benefits you get? They argue. I have no answers. So I continue catering to my flowers.
It’s fascinating to see how flowers make you feel. It is fascinating to see how many emotions do they embody, how many worlds of fragrance they emit. They symbolize things full of beauty and joy, charm and grace. They win over hearts. They win over minds. Nature’s blessings, they add an aura to our otherwise lackluster lives. Imagine a life without flowers! A life without fragrance!
I have always loved flowers; this is that part of me having a thing or two for flora. And that also includes my proud green possession: Grass. As I sit and untangle grass roots on this cold, wintry night, in my barren world which crackles with the broken pieces of composure, its whiff lends warmth to my moments, tender touch to my breathings — I have not known such warmth, I’ve never seen such tenderness. They seem to soothe me, alleviate all my grief, assuage all my pain. How could grass have the power to heal? I wonder!
Tonight, like so many nights before, I am on my own, walking the line that has left me alone, entangling with the shadows of my previous selves that are freely floating around. Tired of the silence that fills my world, I take words out for a walk. And, somewhere along the way, try to leave the trace of a tale, leave behind the footprints of alphabets on the sands of troubled time. Everything around me seems to be blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of words, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night. Everything around me seems to be dancing to a rhythm divine; if it were bodies instead of shadows, there would be an incredible carnival in the dead of the night.
My world floats around, singing to the song of life, grooving to an unknown grief…
A little bit about my world. Barren, as I said earlier. Barren and bleak and bare. It’s a windswept shore. A bizarre beach. An oasis of ennui. A stark, austere terrain inhospitable for anyone remotely human. It’s an area of darkness no light ever engulfed. A piece of earth sodden with sorrow. A fragile fresco. A mutilated mural. A world revisited by fears and insecurities and nightmares. A world weighed by painful memories of a lost childhood, of devastating relationships, of broken marriage, of sweeping melancholy, of an uneasy child — memories of a luckless, loveless life. Of peace having been wrenched, of amity having been wrecked, of serenity having been ruined! Ah! the weight of my world! That reminds me of an Evanescence song my daughter Maria (who hates me; she never ever considered me her father and chose to stay with her mother who equally hates me now) used to listen to. It was called Weight of the World. I still remember it in bits and pieces:

Feels like the weight of the world
Like God in heaven gave me a turn
Don’t cling to me, I swear I can’t fix you
Still in the dark, can you fix me.
Free fall, free fall, all through life.

I haven’t listened to that song for a long time. And I don’t want to. It further aches me, bringing back memories, both happy and sad. Talking of music, I’ve of late taken shine to Elvis Costello’s Green Song and Annihilator’s Snake in the Grass. And, mind you, the words green and grass are coincidental. May be they have something to do with my love for grass. I don’t know. And, in any case, that doesn’t matter. But yes, I remember when my wife left me the first song that I listened to was Snake in…before uncorking endless bottles of wine and drowning the memories of my married life in fizz and froth, and, much later, by devouring volumes of books — novels and poetry, memoirs and biographies, history and philosophy:

You were the world to me,
I thought that I would always be there for you
I was too blind to see,
I would have climbed the highest mountain for you
You gave me something to hope for,
You made me feel like new
But tonight it’s over and we’re through,
And we’re through!

And then it was Linkin Park’s In the end:

I kept everything inside
And even though I tried
It all fell apart
What it meant to me
Will eventually
Be a memory
Of a time when I tried so hard
And got so far
But in the end
It doesn’t even matter
I had to fall
To lose it all
But in the end
It doesn’t even matter.

Yes, in the end it doesn’t even matter. Nothing matters, actually. Everything goes. Everything passes. In the end, it doesn’t even matter.
Costello is a late entrant into my world, but I love listening to Green Song (If only everything could be as green as my grass!):

Fine rain was falling on the gravel and glades.
The last rays of September bejeweled broken blades.
But there’s someone that I long for.
Oh, where have you been?
As the red earth lies under a covering of green.
Do you trip on the city’s golden gutters and kerbs?
As the seasons grow wild and the ground undisturbed.
`Till you find what you are now
Is less than you’ve been;
As the red earth lies under a covering of green.

Songs have their own smell. Like grass, they have their own ways to ensnare you, even intoxicate you. Each song smells of some emotion. Each song is enmeshed in a particular memory/reminiscence. Each song has its own way of allaying your pain, its own way of growing on you. Much like books or films. Over all these years (don’t ask me how many; I have lost count of days) that I have been away from Sienna — my wife, my life — verses have found their way into my veins, fiction has begun to sprout on my tongue and biographies have been bubbling forth in my head… stories spill out of my mind, narratives slip out of my heart… So many tales get in the way of my tale; I don’t know how to extricate them all. Sometimes, they get mingled and become one. And my individual story becomes universal. I become all. My yarn begins to incorporate all there is, all that exists. And, may be, all that ails.

The verses, as I mentioned, course through my veins: words mix in my blood corpuscles and my hemoglobin becomes a hymn to humanity. My being becomes the very life-blood of human quests, the epicentre of all that the we aim for, collectively.
As I walk along, looking back and forth in time, memory blooms and from out of the silent crevices of my past, an unknowing weed emerges singing into existence. And yet, and yet, memory is what I forget.
Trailing me along are POT and CANNAB, my two pets — a Labrador and a German Shepherd. They are quiet as they are quite used to my wanderings, aimless, endless. They just tag along. They know even I don’t know where am I headed, where would I land up, where would I come ashore. I keep walking with words trailing along. I don’t know if they add up to anything or not, but words are all I have. They are all that entrails me. (Remember words form my very blood).
As I trek along the torpid pathways, a clutch of words hang on to my mindscape, sticking in the sieve of memory. They come from one of the silent crevices of my past. It is imbued with an image. The image of Sienna whose memory comes in the way of my history.
I read her out a Walt Whitman poem (from Leaves of Grass; Grass, mind you, is coincidental), replacing Camerado with her name:

As I lay with my head in your lap, Sienna,
The confession I made I resume —
What I said to you in the open air I resume:
I know I am restless, and make others so;
I know my words are full of weapon, full of danger, full of death;…
I am more resolute because all have denied me,
Than I could ever have been had all accepted me;
I heed not, and have never heeded, either experience, cautions, majorities, nor ridicule;
And the threat of what’s called hell is little or nothing to me;
And the lure of what is called heaven is little or nothing to me;
Dear Sienna! I confess I have urged you onward with me,
and still urge you,
Without the least idea what is our destination….

My voice is adrift. I can’t and shouldn’t expect it to sing to Sienna as if she is the only one. And yet…And yet…

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