Arnaav Bhavanani

Note: This is a work of fiction. It is also a work of fantasy, as well as an autobiographical text.This is a work beyond the author’s reach and imagining. It was written by A Period Of Time In Which The World Ceased Its Chatter And Words Flowed As A River. It has not been edited. It is a poem and a scrapbook, a memory, a longing, a whisper. It is as true as all words are true, as memorable as all memories can be remembered. It is a swansong and an opening act. It is an act. It is a play in three lines. It is a work that asked its author to keep quiet so it could work, and was unnecessarily interrupted at odd moments. It was lit by a candle, a smile, a screen, an old scent. It is absolutely terrible in its construction and seems not to care. It finds it necessary to preface itself with self-reflective mumbo jumbo and pretend that it is art. It is tired.


Someday I’ll Love The Man Who Thinks He Understands His Questions

If you promise me a friendship without the conditions of having something to talk about, your free time, to hold me close when you sleep and allow me to love you too. If you smile when you meet me, pull me back when I leave, kiss me at random moments, laugh at the stupidest of my jokes and never break the sarcasm streak. If you’re you with me. If I don’t have to call you at odd times because I’m sitting next to you. If I have the chance to be close to you in every way I can. If I don’t want to watch tv shows and tell you about it; if I’d rather you be there. If I don’t want to laugh at anything on my own anymore; if I want to turn my head and see that maybe you found it funny too. If I’d rather not sleep with your smell lingering on my clothes; if I’d rather be itched to death by your hair and still not move even if we haven’t slept in hours. If it sounds like so much; if it’s the easiest thing in the world to do if you like the way someone smiles at you.


The Ones Who Created The Man Who Thinks He Understands His Memories

I was born of confusion. At the very least, I would assume that the triptych conditions of my life would be of interest to you, in all probability the offspring of monogamy, the product of two sculptors with an identity of one’s own.

I called three men Father. The first was the man who made me.

I know everything about him, his habits and his afterthoughts, the color of his eyes and his yearly income. I know this because I care too much about a man I have never met, whose face for me is like the blur of an impressionist painting. I know everything but the way he looked at me when I was born and the name that is mine by birth.

The second was the man who raised me.

I wouldn’t go so far as to characterize him as Kafkaesque, but he was never the man who loved me. His eyes were the same when he looked at the roadkill under the tires of his truck and when he looked at my face. Impassive, unyielding, the story of things that must be done. Like paying taxes. Like filling gas. I often wondered if his life would change if I left, but more importantly if I had ever changed it at all. He was a pillar in my life, true, but never one I would dare to lean on.

The third was the man who saved me.

I always called him Father, and he always called me son. He guided me to things I would never have found on my own, encouraged me, loved me as his own and chastised me with the knowledge that I would listen. As should be with all fathers. I loved him, and he saved me from the weight of the world that pressed down on me with the intensity of its fragmented misunderstandings and wholesome reductions of identity. He was the man who helped me find the greatest figure of all. He helped me find God.

I was molded at the confluence of my fathers; realized by the man who made me, chiseled by the man who raised me and completed by the man who saved me.

But it was the women in my life who imbued me with soul, with heart, with the power to move when nothing else would.

I call three women Mother. The first was the one who loved me.

She was the fire in the darkness, and if I describe her with a love that borders on infatuation, it is only because she wasn’t the warmth, she wasn’t the caring crux for a lonely child. She was red, and she came and went like flickers on a winter night. It strikes me that I have placed her above the woman who made me; is this really an error? For the men in my life, love did not extend beyond the extremities of indifference and nurture. With the mother who loved me, it was no longer an extremity but a world unrealized, and I fell into it with the force of a falling star. She left, and I lay cratered, smoking and riddled with stories carved into my skin.

The second was the woman who never knew me.

She drifted by the edges of my consciousness, a woman I dreamed about but never saw, who I imagined with the intensity of sunlight enough to be blinded by it. She cared for me, whispered sometimes the things I thought I needed to hear. I believe her to be real, the manifestation of the confusion of my mind. She was the cracked mirror into which I saw the world, the many faces and many voices, and until the age of ten believed that was the way the world was supposed to look. Perhaps the same way old movies saw the gravitas of the world, and never knew its intensity. A color wheel, spinning, fast and faster. I call her mother because I know of nothing else she could be. She is no friend, she is no guardian angel. She radiates the love of motherhood at the distance of an acquaintance. She holds me above the raging waters with hands I cannot see and am forced to believe exists. Is she the God that the man who saved me taught me to love?

The third was the woman who made me.

I miss her.


Train of thought stops.
Quick piss.
Check carriages.
Hop back,
trundle on.



The Dreams of A Man Who Thinks He Understands His Heart

A man wishes to be loved, at times his need may grow beyond one or a group and into the roaring crowd. in his dreams, he will watch the world weep around him as he does what does best, and he imagines that weeping not to be tears of anger or of sadness but of beauty, of joy, of serenity. he will imagine being the one who lifts even a single person out of their well, imagine the music of the world as it sings for him, through him.

A man wishes to love and be loved, to understand goodness, to dream of the things he already has. For those who dream beyond their life have much to live for, and those who are living their happiness are beholden to the beauty of their existence.

A man hopes he will fall for something, truly believe with his whole heart and mind that this be true, and that it turns out so.

A man hopes that at the end of his natural life, as his last breath hangs surreal in the air, his children will remember the name he wrought for them, understand that the legacy they carry is not a burden but an achievable beauty.

A man hopes to be a god, but only a god in that he is free of human folly. For what are the gods but the most beautiful extensions of the human spirit?

A man hopes that his words will inspire generations, even though he will never live to ever see his true effect. He hopes that he may watch the sun rise and the sun set, think about time and his life, and never fall into regret.

A man wishes to be loved. Sometimes by one, sometimes by many. A man wishes to know things and understand the history of his body and his mind. A man imagines the world to be perfect, whether it be so or not, for he wishes to set himself up in such a way that the foibles of the world will never visit.

A man wishes to be a man, but also a god, and yet not a god.

Tom Stoppard defines love in The Real Thing

It’s to do with knowing and being known. I remember how it stopped seeming odd that in biblical Greek, knowing was used for making love. Whosit knew so-and-so. Carnal knowledge. It’s what lovers trust each other with. Knowledge of each other, not of the flesh but through the flesh, knowledge of self, the real him, the real her, in extremis, the mask slipped from the face. Every other version of oneself is on offer to the public. We share our vivacity, grief, sulks, anger, joy… we hand it out to anybody who happens to be standing around, to friends and family with a momentary sense of indecency perhaps, to strangers without hesitation. Our lovers share us with the passing trade. But in pairs we insist that we give ourselves to each other. What selves? What’s left? What else is there that hasn’t been dealt out like a deck of cards? Carnal knowledge. Personal, final, uncompromised. Knowing, being known. I revere that. Having that is being rich, you can be generous about what’s shared — she walks, she talks, she laughs, she lends a sympathetic ear, she kicks off her shoes and dances on the tables, she’s everybody’s and it don’t mean a thing, let them eat cake; knowledge is something else, the undealt card, and while it’s held it makes you free-and-easy and nice to know, and when it’s gone everything is pain. Every single thing. Every object that meets the eye, a pencil, a tangerine, a travel poster. As if the physical world has been wired up to pass a current back to the part of your brain where imagination glows like a filament in a lobe no bigger than a torch bulb. Pain.

Description of The Past of The Man Who Thinks He Understands His Heart

Perhaps the steps are broken. A couple of them- scattered like Lego bricks on the dusty ground. Perhaps the feet they used to hold are long gone, perhaps in search of a better home, or because this home was too far gone to repair.

Perhaps the mold seeps into the cracks in the walls, their graffiti faint and unassuming, no longer the concise representation of the vernacular life they used to be. Perhaps there are deep scratches on the walls, perhaps a result of hooliganism, perhaps the imprints of nails, scratched in as memories were being dragged away.

Sunlight burns the living: perhaps a little slowly, perhaps a bit too fast. Perhaps it slips through the cracks here, rays illuminating everything except the world it’s meant to.

Perhaps rust lines the edges of metal that drags itself across cold concrete, screaming in agony, perhaps real, perhaps a metaphor. Perhaps it sounds quite similar to the birds that herald the soft, radiant mourning.

It’s been more than a hundred years. The palace of kings is no longer one worthy of use. Its broken bridges, the platonic dry leaves that lie cracked and vulnerable on the ground, the poisoned glow of the walls, glowing without light, glowing black fumigate the air into a questioning remembrance.

Perhaps it’s been more than a hundred years. Perhaps a rag flutters from the parapets of the broken castle, perhaps there is no breeze in sight.


Life’s journey begins at the explicit, moves through times and tribulations, toward the implicit.



The Island of Everything

There is an odd sense of unease that I have begun to associate inextricably with my life. i know exactly where it springs from: the space under the bones in my chest. as if my heart were a little shy of life, really, a little anxious to see the world beyond its calcium cage. it’s so common: a passing phenomenon as easy as rain, as sure as summer light.

come from a different planet, and obscurities suddenly become ordinaries. you walk amongst countless crowds and wonder what the person ahead of you is thinking. what are their lives like? do they care about similar things?

at times there is a sense of disdain about the world, as though everybody was born within a caged philosophy, as though the most interesting people are just paintings against the crumbling brick walls of rehashed history.

and sometimes when it rains, you see people naked. their souls are outside their bodies, their eyes tugging against these invisible lives. “follow me, come here, kick this puddle, hold me close.”

but the same rain brings us noise. it brings calamity to the spirit; hands are crushed under the weight of an impatient world, trucks and lorries are suddenly stuck infinitely in the mud and potholes, wheels churning churning churning.

there are times when you forget the world, but that is so rare. it is  so personal, so beautiful, when nothing stands between or behind you, next to you or on your aching shoulders. where the roots in the ground aren’t trying to force their way into your mind and exclude you from the air you know is the life-breath of your being.

and those moments when we feel so happy for everyone? bah. those are nothing but projections, simulations of our own fleeting sense of assuredness, perhaps brought on by success, unexpected beauty or even spontaneous enlightenment.

cynicism then, as well as forgetfulness are the twin polarities of happiness. Circling the promise of hope is a sultry island, where none has ever entered. the nature of solitude, wrapped in linen cloak, basks in the waters nearby. this is the island of everything.


Did you love?
Did you live in fear?

Was this normal?
Were you constrained?


Did you do anything that didn’t further your survival?
How did you shave?

When did you grow old?
Do you shave upwards?

Do you wear loose socks?
Do you prefer your trees green or red or yellow or black or broken?

Do you prefer to be kissed on the lips or the neck?
What kind of music does the thing you love the most remind you of?

When you tilt your head in front of the mirror, do you smile back at yourself?
Do you like the taste of blood?

Do you like the smell of petrol?
When was the last time you felt just right?

Are you procrastinating right now?
Have you ever worn your culture inside out?

Have you ever asked a stupid question?
Is this one of them?




As I sit down to write these vows, I am 20 years old. I don’t know if I will ever fall in love, if I will ever meet someone like you. I am writing to avoid writing a history paper due tomorrow, and I imagine one day reading this out to you, or holding this, printed in my hand, and crumpling it up to say what I feel in the moment.

When I write something, I write it with a purpose. At the end, when I’ve hit a point where I can’t work on it anymore, I realize that everything so far builds up to something. I start out imagining I’m describing the world, and in the end, it’s just another part of everything. The world shapes itself into a story, stories shape themselves inside the thousands of worlds inside us, worlds in which we love, fight, forgive, forget, regret, stories in which writing your vows years before you even meet the person you marry are possible.

I started writing this with the idea that I could write something truer than the most truthful promises, something more organic than a perfect love. The shape of your body in the sunlight, the feel of your heart against our bones, I reach for images I remember from the times I’ve been most content. I imagine love is like contentment, or perhaps it’s like a war that you’re waging against a world that serenely disdains to destroy you.

So much poetry, such verbosity. At this point, I’m realizing that if I read these vows it’ll turn into a speech, the parts I find funny aren’t really at all. How can a kid who’s trying so hard to even begin to love imagine what it’s like to be irrevocably lost in it?

I am 20 years old now, sitting in a smelly college room and imagining what it would be like to be with you. I’ve been looking for you since the first time I imagined I loved someone, since the first time my heart beat when I thought of someone.

Whenever you found me, thank you. However you found me, you made me better. I know that, even now. If the man reading this looks back and smiles at his naiveté, and then looks at you with that same look that tells you he loves you more than he can say, remember that he has been trying to say he loves you for longer than he has known you.

Love him more than you thought you could, because even if he’s faced the fears I’m refusing to face right now, he’ll only ever be complete with you. He’ll love you more than you can bear, he’ll probably be able to tell you this less than you want to hear. If the past is any slight indication of the future, he will love you till his heart breaks into the wind.


When the light is nothing but a memory
held together by the lack of sight,
close your eyes, open them,
it makes no difference.

In the darkness, you’re aware of every part of yourself.
You can imagine yourself into a giant, a monster, a curious ant watching the world,
but the best part is

The world is a canvas
A blank slate

And that’s when you can turn reality
Into a story.



The Man Who Understood His Heart Was Not His Own To Understand

As I held him in my arms, I realized for the umpteenth time that he had an entire life ahead of him. He was everything I was, everything I wasn’t. He could grow into a traveler, a banker, the delightful old man who owns the corner shop down the street. He could record music, find love, lose a tooth in a bar fight, feel the first warmth of spring. There was so much, so much, so much, and I loved him all the more for the person who would, decades from now, gaze into a distant scenery and remember the father that held him now. His futures were infinite, and I felt as though I held in my arms a secret so beautiful only someone his age could understand, but would never be able to explain.


I’ve realized I love the snow because of the way it contours edges and settles over surfaces.

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