It’s almost an hour past midnight, so I suggest, over the sound of our roaring motorcycles and sleepy laughter, that we pull over for the night. The wind is almost prickly, accompanied with the agony of loneliness that a starless night brings. One would call it rather disgraceful to drive 7000 feet uphill and not see the mighty claws of the Big Bear, in this part of the country. As the bike slows down for the curve, I touch your temple and put your fraying, windswept grey hair behind your ear; I feel your sweat on my fingertips (it’s a humid night); usually I rub my hands against the fabric of my jeans, but sometimes, only sometimes, when you’re not looking, I taste it and with every gulp, a part of you is inside me forever. I like to call it an expression of my unconsolidated daringness, much like the peach scene from Call me by your name, but I doubt you’ll understand.
We pull over at a small clearing. From a shack across the road, Rhai drinks the unsweetened water of an unripened coconut, while Moohn plays a rather shoddy ensemble on his handcrafted banjo. His voice is heavy and rumbling – something a poet would call painfully satisfying.
He puts together a few notes and sings a verse I had composed some decades ago-
But on most days
we’re just homes,
waiting to be lived in
whatever is to come,
will come in its own time
Yet if you cry,
if you dry your eyes out crying
it’ll probably stay a little longer.
But God, will it hurt when it leaves
It is symbolic.
It is symbolic how no song sounds so agonizingly flawless on his tongue,
but one which I wrote years ago about the city that had borne our cursed pasts,
where the emptiness within us never settled, only hovered above like a ghostly reminder of what this world had made of us.
It is symbolic when Rhai lets out a deep, heavy sigh as if to drench himself in the pain of Moohn’s song,
as if to say he’s longing for something,
but has no intention of finding it,
for he loves the journey
God, do we all love this hellbound journey,
nostalgic for a life we never had
only seen briskly in the passing life of a vagabond,
only heard in the painful trilling voice of a broken, longing heart
and the roar of a mountain motorcycle
Maybe we’re only hollow in places we’ve never been visited,
where nobody took a sip of our daringness. Come, fill our emptiness; vagabond through the streets of our nostalgia. You’re almost asleep now. I look up at the sky – I see something twinkling almost like the glimmer of your eyes; maybe running forever isn’t such a waste if you’re running under a starlit sky.
Photograph © 2018 Sanjukta Bhowal