of sleep

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i stalked Shabana Azmi’s Instagram at 4:17 a.m. after coming across one of her posts. i got stuck to it and explored her life, as exhibited on the heavy screen of my cell phone. in a desperate plea for sleep, i look for such intervening factors on the social media that can lull me to close my eyes where i can lose the ra(n)ge of my incessant inner-voice. sometimes, it works and i hand over the reins of the internet and breathe deeply into a light snooze. at other times, i realise after long how bizarre it is and begin to make amends, in the form of shallow breathing to trick myself to sleep. when that does not work, i start worrying about the books that i am not reading, the ones i left in between, the ones i do not know of, the ones i could never write (or something along these lines) till i cross the borders (and uncross them) between levity and foolhardiness one too many times.

in order to feel better, i finished the chapter of one of the books that i was reading and watched the first half an hour of a film. then to bed and breaths and buildups. and back to prompt wakefulness.

at 6:37 a.m., i stand up and go for a floating walk. with the sun burning my industrious eyelids, i miss out on the hornet just ahead of me. after a moment’s delay, we both gawk at each other and turn in opposite directions. my sense of direction does not work well in such circumstances and i end up encountering this mischievous creature again. before the sting, the cry of a crow takes my full attention and i manage to escape.

the scrawny black thing has a worm in its mouth, hanging loose like a scarf around the neck (that can well be a noose). it is a morning angel, cawing and cackling and enjoying its breakfast. it ignores the row of six pigeons on the opposite wall, who are the sentinels of this open court.

there is no judgement in the coming. i think of the law and its acrimonious relationship with hope. i think of the absentee litigator before an absent god, i think of a big advocate with a stamp of contempt on his head. what is the law for but to disembowel the mind and tie the tongues into neat knots?

the law is sans justice. the sleep is sleeplessness. with that in mind, i start writing of this vacuum that can contain all of our lifetimes and those that have not even begun yet.

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© Anmol Arora

Image source (Sleeping Effort, 1953, Jackson Pollock, © Pollock-Krasner Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York)

a dawn song

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as dawn breaks and starts spreading its blush through the dark eyes of a distant cloud-riddled sky, i pick at my skin and hair, trying to be at ease with the chill penetrating me, in more ways than one. the music of early morning routine starts flourishing — the shrill of the water motor, the flush of the sink, the naivety of the kitchen song, the singular bark of the street mutt — gradually the night becomes one with the day, the day becoming one with my insomniac breaths. the bristly winds carry the taste and touch and sound of an impending cold, a sulfur-infused smog, a trilling bird’s sorrow. it is unlike any other wind, any other gust of air that passes through the seasons, through the reverberations of living. i am still pinching myself conscious, the wind is still playing its solemn instrument.

picking at my grief —
the early winds of raw cold
raise the sky in red

~

dawn arrives singing
notes of a known winter’s song —
lights seen through the haze

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© Anmol Arora

For Heeding Haiku With Chèvrefeuille at MLM Menagerie
Image source (City at dawn Painting by Barbara Pastorino)

Wakefulness

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Clicked a few hours back when I was on the bus… did not sleep a minute. Blurry because of the bus tremors.

coursing through the cities,

glorified by the lights that gleam

through the lustrous layers of fog,

dense with the sleeping breaths,

and awake, feeling its presence

from within the windows shut,

counting the seconds till we can,

because that is all we got to do,

.

we are the comrades of the night,

warm to know the other one is there,

strung with the same wakefulness,

even if distant, even if it wouldn’t last,

while I pass through these cities, towns,

half sitting, lying, on the sleeper berth,

chewing a sapless gum, to count up

their comforting numbers in my head