He trembles within his happiness, his secret unhappiness. A lowly being, self aware, hunched​ over his mahogany desk and Clairefontaine pens​, his head lifts in a sudden spasm of delight; the phone starts to ring, lying next to th​e​ many books he thinks he is reading or aspires to read, already uncertain of his intent—a singular, recurring digression occupying only a second (perhaps more) of his time. Looking​ contemptuously​ at the phone still buzzing, he twitches, hesitant to pick it up, afraid it might be the end of some semblance of joy that is this momentary and this rare, a feeling born, and reborn only when the phone rings. When people need him, think of him, and strip him slowly, bit by bit of what he admittedly likes to call ‘essence’. People, ever so demanding, ever so clueless, ever so on the outside of his preserved sweetness.​ ​No one deserves it. Not yet.

He wonders now about memory and whether imagining is better than living, re-living, altering and re-enacting one, as if they were at his disposal, as if he knew all the corners in his hyper-geometrical mind, that he refused to see as half-empty, or even half-full. His eyes start to roam, now rest at the cover of his copy of Identity by Kundera (He loves the author!). Staring blankly at the blurred image of a woman through misted glass (Or an old and ruined photograph perhaps, but that is not the point anyway, he tells himself), he imagines her vacant gaze on him, suddenly touched by her attention. Or perhaps the uncertainty of it.

Now beginning to pick up a pen, writing about the working class, feeling pathetic with its insignificance, he recedes knowing people have done it before and so much better. But wait! He still has ideas, things that are perhaps witnessed but never mentioned, things that are frivolous. But are they always? Things like buzzing phones perhaps. Words fill up his mind, oh the frenzy! How one awaits th​is​ electric moment,​ all​ this fervent engagement with something so profound​,​ throw​ing off​ any sense of urgency attached to anything else, anything sickeningly worldly. This bright moment, ​and ​his very own presence, the fact that he is alive and everything is alive with him drops on him like a persuasive daydream​, pops like a bubble without a pip​. What is more important than to create? To breathe, so that one might create. Or procreate. He chuckles​ at this thought​ and stops quickly, starting now to reconstruct the woman’s face, making her eyes close, slowly.

He recoils, and catches himself in the mirror, to correspond with her pose, finally submitting to memory.

He wishes that the phone would stop buzzing, he’d rather it rang. He’d rather it died.

Being alone in one’s room, he writes, sleeping in the middle of one’s bed is a real privilege. Unafraid of turning over, he continues, and killing something with the weight of his universe. In another city on the coast, there is a shore made up of rocks, it is called Band Stand for some reason. It starts to get plagued with people who go there to kiss and hold each other after an average day, toiling away to achieve something through their successful and mediocre jobs. What is wrong with that? I am stuck between the words ‘everything’ and ‘nothing’, he concedes. Regardless, I still have the middle of my bed to myself, that’s the real prize.

He drops his pen, containing a violence that seems to emerge from time to time, he looks at his phone, because it has stopped buzzing. Things tire too, just in the way people do. One should let things remain things, what is the point of memory? He is stuck between the phrases ‘none, really’ and ‘imagined truth’.

There are two empty wine glasses in the balcony, outlined by the kind glare of the moon, he is intently looking at them, holding his phone, already having forgotten it.


Medha Singh

Medha Singh

Medha Singh is a poet from New Delhi. Her first collection of poems Ecdysis (2017) has been published by Poetrywala, Mumbai. Her poems have previously appeared in Nether, Muse India, Beyond Borders, The Bombay Literary Magazine, The Journal of the Poetry Society, and several others. She has bylines in The Hindu, Mtv (indies), Bordermovement, Rock Street Journal and Rolling Stone Magazine, where she wrote on music. She received her degree in MA, English Studies from Jawaharlal Nehru University. In 2015, she was part of an exchange program as part of her master’s degree, at Sciences Po, Paris where she read International Relations. She is currently working on her second book of poems and a short text on travel fiction. Her poems are forthcoming in the Sahitya Akademi and Red Hen anthologies of Contemporary Indian Writing. Her interests range widely, between philosophy, photography, cinema, music and painting, owed largely to filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky. She is Editor-at-Large at Coldnoon.