Thursday, January 19, 2017

With Beer on the Fourth of July

I look at the bottle in my hand. I hate beer, the smell, the texture. I hate it. I am definitely a wine guy. But they don't have wine at Fourth of July barbecue do they? No sir. Not according to my father. Fourth of July means a baseball cap, shorts, sleeveless tee and armpit hair in the backyard, grilling chicken and corn sipping on beer from the cooler. "That is what people do, son. It's expected from us and we do that. We must always do what is expected of us, son. That's the easiest way to avoid conflict and live a happy life."
I look at him standing near my mother. She is holding his arm and talking very animatedly. He raises his bent head, looks at me and urges me with an imperceptible nod. He has always been able to sense my hesitancy and nudge me now and then. Of course, given that he is my best friend, we had that bond even before we had words to speak it out.
I head towards my father. He is talking to a neighbor about baseball. He follows it avidly because it is expected of him. It presents the perfect picture. He can talk politics as if he was an analyst, all this because he believed the easiest way to avoid conflict was to become homogeneous with the rest.
I bring him aside. "I have something to tell you." I hesitate. But damn it! It is Independence day. I am not like the rest and I am ok with it. I celebrate it and I am proud of it. Now, more than ever people need to own up to who they really are. If it is not who we are then we become who we are told to be.
I can see his expectant smile. From what I know of him it will be change in the next few minutes. "Dad! I want to tell you this face to face. I am gay. Happy Fourth of July!" He is dumbstruck and blinks his eyes rapidly. I want to give him a few moments. I turn and look back, he is smiling at me. So is my mother. I feel free.

Monday, January 9, 2017

With Champagne in Spring

It's a beautiful day. The sun is shining, there is music wafting from the speakers at the DJ's bar. Squeals of children splashing in the water and playing drifts through the air. There are dozens of lounge chairs around the pool. Away from the droplets that glitter in the sun spreading more light. These water droplets are like million glass beads wrested away from the chain of light.
The air is perfumed, with the roses. Everyone around the pool has glasses of drink. Colored drinks- pink, orange, green with little yellow, blue and white umbrellas on them. I have a glass of champagne. The flute is glistening with the condensation. The little bubbles dance inside them to the music of mirth.
Ladies around the pool in a riot of color, lazing on the chair, applying sunscreen and adjusting their shades. The men wrestling in the water, joking and swirling their whisky on rocks. It is a great scene. I fill my lungs with the air, my ears with the music and eyes with the beauty. It's a great life..
A lady catches my eye and slightly lifts her hand. I acknowledge with a light nod and walk towards her. She smiles at me when I hand her the glass. "Anything else, madam?", I ask. She shakes her head. I walk back inside. It's a great life..for them! Come the end of this month, I am outta here!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

With Eggnog at Christmas

I stand with my mug of eggnog. I have been working at this company for three years. I am an island. I do not have to talk to anyone. My superiors are in China. I do not know anyone at the party. Normally, I would have declined the invite as I have done for the past three years to every single office party. Today, I changed my mind partly on a whim and partly because I did not feel like reheating leftovers from Sunday night's dinner.
Everyone seems to know everyone at the party. Everyone is having a great time. Mariah Carey is crooning in the background. Someone remembered to spray air freshener that smells like snow forests and pine. They begin playing White Elephant. I got coffee shop gift cards. I sit patiently and steal a thermos mug from someone in the HR department. This is the longest that I have spoken to anyone in this office. I am elated and nervous. Too much! I go out the doors that lead to the balcony. I look at empty walls of the adjacent building. The air is bracing and brisk and my breath forms white clouds. I dump the eggnog into the trash can nearby and head back in.
I stand for a second on the threshold before shutting the doors. Someone kisses me on the cheek. I am shocked and surprised and oh, angry! He smiles gently and points up. Mistletoe.
I smile back and take his extended hand.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The girl with snow white hair

I see her at the park everyday.She sits on the bench by the swings and is usually alone. She always has a smile and always has a word for any child whose ball rolls near her feet. She smiles at the parents of the tots with bigger smiles at the grandparents who carry infants around. She smiles.
She has snow white hair. I have never seen her walk. Usually she is seated in the bench by the time I come and is still seated there when I leave. She does not have a phone in her hand. She probably lives in one of the many condos nearby.
I am curious. I let my twins play by themselves. I keep an eye on them and go over to her bench. I start a conversation with her. Her face becomes a map when she smiles, so many wrinkles. So much beauty in her years. She tells me how she moved from Poland when she was a little girl. How she fell in love with an Irish immigrant. How her children moved away from home and found their own lives. She tells me that she would have celebrated her 60th wedding anniversary with her husband if he had not passed away a couple of years ago. Her life has been so fascinating; her views are not disillusioned by passage of time. She still marvels at technology and the joy of life.
Time flies on. My wife takes the twins home and I stay back talking, enjoying her company. It is now dark and the park has very few people. The overhead light emits an orange glow. My stomach grumbles and she hears it. She smiles and asks me to go home. I leave reluctantly.
As I walk, I look back. She takes small steps to the swing. Very gingerly, she settles into the seat. In the dark of the evening, she swings slowly. Like a leaf fluttering in gentle wind. She swings slowly, the girl with snow white hair.

Monday, September 5, 2016


The award function is in a couple of hours. I am all dressed for it. I check with my assistant if she has taken the outfit for the after party. I go stand in front of the mirror. I twirl around. I check the curve of my butt on the mirror and make a mental note-  more squats on Monday. I tug the bodice of the gown a little higher. My make up seems dewy enough without the sweat. I make sure she has all make up touch up kit as well. She tells me it is time to go. I walk back a few paces from the full length mirror give myself a once over and smile. I ask her to take pictures with her mobile and figure out the right angle to pose with one arm on my waist. I also notice the amount of smile just enough to look pleased and happy without looking maniacal. Again one last look and we are off.
We arrive at the red carpet. There is a huge crowd on the sidelines already. I look out of the car. My assistant spritzes some perfume on me before I get down. I tug the bodice of the gown a little lower. I get down and wave. They clamor for me to pose for pictures. I feel wonderful. I have fun with the photographers, giving them impulsive poses and glamorous poses; one of everything. I also notice the crowd wanting a few pictures with me. I ask my assistant to take a few pictures with the crowd with my phone. I stand in front of them untouched with my practiced smile and arm at waist. My assistant then signals me to take pictures with them. Some have their phones out and begin taking pictures with me in the background. Some take selfies with me..I smile for it all. The light is wrong, the angle wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong!! Then I pluck a phone out of the many extended, turn around and take a selfie. Then while handing it over I delete the picture. I thank them all and wave goodbye. I feel horrible.
That night, #crosseyedspaniel #whysoserious #supwithhereyes #notimpressed #countherteeth start trending with my face plastered all over it.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Past Present Future

I cry for the life I  had. I cry for the life I have. I cry for the life I will have.
I smile for the people that came. I smile for the people that are. I smile for the people that will come.

I cry for the roads I never took. I cry for the roads I never take. I cry for the roads I will never take.
I smile for the people I have loved. I smile for the people I love. I smile for the people I will love.

I cry for all the things I have said. I cry for all the things I say. I cry for all the things I will say.
I smile for the things I have done. I smile for the things I am doing. I smile for the things I will do.

I cry for all the joys I had. I cry for all the joys I have. I cry for all the joys I will have.
I smile for all the sorrow I had. I smile for all the sorrow I have. I smile for all the sorrow I will have.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Will work for food

The heat. I can feel the asphalt's heat despite my thick soled shoes, which is probably why I am feeling it way too much. I don't have a choice. The nights get cold, real cold. I'd rather brave the heat than the cold. My tongue is parched and my t-shirt sticks to my back.If I could see it, it would be drenched in sweat. I am murmuring to myself holding the placard in my hand. "God bless you. Help a needy soul".
I look at her by my side. She has been with me three years consecutively growing thinner. I can see her bones. She doesn't judge me. She looks good to me, but I like her plumper and well-fed than the starving bare bones look. I reach to touch her when a car pulls up. He drops a dollar. I thank them and smile. I know how I look to him. Broken decaying teeth, shaggy hair, dirty nails with the musty smell I seem to have developed.
I see the golden arches beckoning me. They have a meal for a dollar you know. Should I wait or should I buy a meal now? Another car pulls up, she drops a fiver. She wants to know our names, "Daisy" I point to the one beside me, "Duke", I point to myself. "Daisy Duke", I wink. The names change- they have been Bonnie and Clyde, Sonny and Cher, Marie and Pierre, Romeo and Juliet. Both of them look at each other, with amusement I think.
I walk across to the arches. I order two meals and two cups of water. I bring them out sit in the shade. I hold her  and look deep into her eyes and thank her for being my rock. She wolfs down the burger with the patty and spills the water out of the cup.
I borrow a pen from the girl at the counter and write on the back of the placard. I am not hopeful but you never know. "Will work for food for me and my dog".