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  • I
    Somehow we got talking about dying.

    Ankur asked me what I wanted the most as of today, this present day of my life.
    I told him I wanted to be able to journey on well. I laughed into the phone as soon as I said it, I didn't know I had the answer to such a question quite so ready.
    'Explain yourself', he said.
    Oh well, might as well tell him what I really felt, I said to myself.
    'I want to go through all the states of consciousness when the air leaves my body, when the water leaves, when the mass has left, when the light thinks of finally leaving. I think I'm in training right now. Death doesn't seem like an end to me. I read my grandmother through all the stages, from the notes I'd taken in the mountains last year and she wanted me to repeat the sequence out again, her eyes all lit up. She kept my notes with her for four days. She's 86, a conservative Roman Catholic, her children laugh amused when she talks, they think she speaks in loops, but she got me, my grandma, she knew what I was talking about.'
    Pause.
    He stuttered, his voice hoarse. 'I don't know if that will be possible for me. I don't know who will be around when I die, we have cancer in the family, my mother is old, my sister will pass, she shows no signs of wanting to have babies, I don't know if there will be anyone around. They'll cremate me whether I want it or not.'
    'I'll do it.', I said.
    Pause.
    'Write it out. I'll make sure you get some time.'
    'Okay.'

    We have a deal today, Ankur and I.

    II
    I'm writing in a café right now. It has started raining in Mumbai finally. The monsoons have been delayed by three days this year. The rain falls in fast rushes, intermittently, like the monsoon's still not really convinced about giving it a good shot. I've been watching people walk into the café with a Beagle on a leash, for the last half hour. There are six Beagles in the same small space currently. The café owners changed the music to 'Silent Night', all of a sudden. The owners of the dogs appear to be looking for mates. Some of the Beagles have their own human nannies aside from their masters. The Christmas carol blares out loud. The owners clap loudly every time the dogs have a successful mating exhibition in the centre of the café. Clockwork world.

    III
    I get back to my screen, the music playing in my ears makes sense.
    It just struck me that it's the first time Ankur and I have spoken after his father passed away two months back.

    IV
    I'm going to have to break a cowbird rule today, and post some music I do not own, it's the music I was listening to while writing. Sorry, Annie.
    The words are a poem by Kabir, the 15th century weaver poet, the vocals by Pandit Kumar Gandharva, I've subtitled it. I can't sing like him, but it seems like he's singing for me today.

    The photograph is a picture I took in Ahmedabad, the old man was solving a crossword in the early morning light, sitting on his front stairs.
    The mood of the moment reminded me of the conversation I had with Ankur today, like we're both working on our crossword puzzle together in some way, completely absorbed in the patterns, quiet, counting out the letters, filling them in.
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