I think about your life behind an e-mail address that may no longer be valid. I don’t even know if this will be read by you. The only way I can write is if I picture you reading this in my head.

Writing used to be a release. I could write whenever I pictured you reading it. Now I visualize the night. I see the darkness. I see a curved terrace that looks out over green spaces, over ponds being rapidly filled up like spandex in flight, over water bodies that flow, and narrow walls that take off as pedestrians struggle to remain unsandwiched between the latest fast car and the oldest crumbling wall.


The old high street. Night. Middle of somewhere. Copyright: Rony Nair

When I used to write, I would think of a person with a small balcony and lots of colour on the inner walls reading it. A small plant perhaps growing in a corner, occasionally tended. Someone who quizzically read with their eyebrows bending in, sometimes with the hint of a smile in the corners of their eyes, and other times with the glaze of irritation in them. There was a thought that maybe it was worth all the writing it if you smiled when we spoke about it later.

Now I can’t not think of you all the time. How you are, how absent-minded you become sometimes when asking favours of your foes. How your most unloving pith provides the most affection, the sanctuary they need to be ephemeral, to be themselves.

How you juggle so many things with élan, your passion for the greater good, your essential sincerity.

Before the most abject brutality. Before the most unloving gesture. Before the lights fade and the darkness reins in.

We used to talk about the bike and the trip. You and me. India. The works. Driving through the night. Watching out, we always said, for trucks without lights. For those monsters stationed on the road, waiting to gorge their fill on impact.

Now I am struggling to write. I can’t write. Not without knowing you look at it.

I don’t know the exact nature of my crime, but I miss you all the time. When I get to speak to you, I say things in anger. All I am being is angry with myself.

On this night, through the rains, it seems so apt that the mind wanders. The TV squeaks. There is night, silence, and two curved terraces some distance apart; a person in each may perhaps be looking at the sky and thinking of each other.





Let me write of a day. Some years ago.

You and me. And the slow fade. Copyright: Rony Nair

You and me. And the slow fade. Copyright: Rony Nair

I first saw you come September, I think. It was a Friday filled with old friends from public school. We were grabbing a bite on an upper floor quasi-place run by a distant friend of mine. An early lunch, over which we reminisced about old-school times.

We’ve had one leap year since that day, with twenty-nine days in February 2012. Today, it’s probably four years or so to the day, to the night.

Professional. Courteous.

The eyes were kind. Half-mooned. They were your eyes.

I overheard snatches of conversation. The smile. The sense of humor. The cut-to-the-chase perspective you had on things. The no-nonsense demeanor.

Yet the kindness in your eyes.

I doubted then, if you even noticed me when you said a polite, curt, hello.

You are always courteous, no-nonsense, humorous, firm, and incredibly kind. You were the same that day, too.

It felt secure. The clouds rolled in a few hours ago. Night. Not a night that discharges cliché and obligation, but a night with an edge. A resonance. A somnambulist’s grace.

The next day I heard of where you lived. The first time I walked that way, I saw this:

Copyright: Rony Nair

This. Copyright: Rony Nair

I went away and dealt with those feelings the only way I knew: by pretending that I had control over my feelings. Pretending that it was fun, that it was a lark. Not daring to think too hard, or too deep, about you. Putting it away in a corner. Always thinking of you.

Not a day has passed since that first day in September, all those years ago, when I don’t think of you or feel your eyes on me, that crackle when you’re about to say something funny, that way you have when you look …. Not a darn day.

I knew then, and I know now, how much everybody likes you. You have tons of friends. You are much admired. You are busy with doing things that matter. You’ve taught me that life should be about giving, about putting others first, about having time to reflect, about not sacrificing the essence of one’s being, about being brave, about being true to one’s self.

You’ve taught me so much, just by being yourself: your innate loyalty to your friends, the time you give to the less privileged, the ability to understand what really counts in life, I could go on …. Thoughts of you have kept me going in far corners of the world, through numerous late nights, through the what-will-she-say question that I ask myself daily.

That night when I drove myself round the bend, as the dusk gradually played with the palavers that slithered through a humidity that was almost painful, it felt strange to feel all that was familiar.

On this night, through the rains, it seems so apt that the mind wanders. The TV squeaks. There is night, silence, and two curved terraces some distance apart; a person in each may perhaps be looking at the sky and thinking of each other.





We drove past the haze, and the early hours could have been night for all I cared. I held your hand, and it almost could have been night for all I cared.

I saw the flush. The rising sun on your tropical skin. You smiled. And the hands stayed firm until we could have seen this on the culvert near the bund.

Late nights? Early mornings?

Interchangeable angst.

A saree. A first.

A gasp.

A first. Copyright: Rony Nair

A first. Copyright: Rony Nair

When people like me get to the age we’re at, they start thinking of obituaries and the small print in the newspaper. The two inches of column space along with the hundred other people on page four in a local newspaper. I will get two inches not because I was any good, it’s too late for that, but because everybody gets it in the papers.

You will have dumped me by then. Another messianic cause to replace all the emotion that one saw in your eyes that day. You will have cast away the strings, the imagery, the flush you felt when the splinters of glass rained through the half-open car window. You will have discovered that a cause, however tenuous, can compensate for being true to oneself.

Another September will come and go. This time, we wouldn’t be speaking.

On this night, through the rains, it seems so apt that the mind wanders. The TV squeaks. There is night.


There is only the night.



RONY NAIR works as an oil and gas Risk Management Consultant. Rony’s been writing poetry since 1985 and was a published columnist with the Indian Express in the early 1990’s. He is also a professional photographer about to hold his first major exhibition and has previously been published by The Cadet, The Economic Times, New Asian Writing (NAW), Semaphore and YES! Magazine. Rony has been profiled by The Economic Times of Delhi. Philip Larkin’s’ collected poems would be the one book he would like to die with. When the poems perish, as do the thoughts! You can follow him on Twitter @ronynair.


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