The Creaking Chair - Part V

18 June 1988

Was it sandalwood or Rose?
The smell of incense sticks – a lazy Sunday morning
One where I woke up before 1 PM; a rarity
The days of youth come with their own little jar of idiosyncrasies
Its own set of preformed notions about rules…
Just like my grandson frowns at me for being such a pain, as he says
Nagging him to wake up early, to do his bed, to not leave food on his plate

I always wondered why the flavor of the incense sticks
always was sandalwood in the writings
And never Rose or Jasmine…or Mogra for that matter
Was it because it sounds more imperial or royal
Or was it because I read selectively
Picked up authors who would never write about
Mogra incense stick spreading its scent in the backdrop
of an Indian student living in an English household

But the ideas was not about the incense stick
Or the ideosyncracies of the aged
Or the preformed notion of rules in the mind of my young mind

I intended to write about my fight with Paul
on Religion
To be or not to be is the question
He could quote Shakespeare or Dostoevsky where you never imagined him to
I used to admire that – still do – it’s just that we don’t get to talk much now a days
Alzheimer’s has taken him to its own world of Shakespeare’s sonnets and Pablo Neruda poems

But we did have a debate that day
On Atheism, on the roots of religion,
On how I was a passive agnostic (I still don’t agree that those syllables together make any sense)
They sound like a glorified way of calling yourself an atheist while still being religious

But we did have an argument that Sunday morning
On whether the lighting of incense stick
First thing after my Sunday morning bath
With the mud colored towel still wrapped around my then athletic waist
Was an abominable attempt to run away from my identity
An argument on how I was trying to hide my nakedness  
in the garb of the rising fumes of burnt sandalwood

I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse”, and I’ll do it till he feels guilty
I knew for sure that he added the second half of the quote
But couldn’t refute for I had not yet read ‘The Godfather’

Out of all the Sunday mornings I spent with Paul (8 to be precise)
This one is etched like yesterday night’s dew on my fading memory
I guess I should pay him a visit
I could check if he is still a pious atheist or has Alzheimer’s made him forget that too…

P.S. Go to 1952 for the real fight – My diary entries were much more factual & less philosophical back then – but then those were the days of preformed notions of rules for the young me..

- Ashk

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