I should never have called Sania. If you're going to consult your girlfriend's best friend, do it before you do anything
“You did what?”
“I put a bunch of rose petals all over the bed. I’ve wanted to do that ever since Bon Jovi sang Bed of roses. Or since American Beauty. Or since Shahrukh Khan shot that ad in that bath-tub full of petals. I don’t know, it’s all very confusing.” Everything’s a copy of a copy of a copy.
She laughed. “And what’d she say?”
“Nothing, she’s still asleep.”
“Well, I’ll tell you what she’ll say. She hates flowers! Especially roses. She says she hates them on Principle.”
I disconnected the call and set the tripod up by the window and clicked away. Paloma always looked most beautiful when she was asleep. So I decided to put to good use the camera Sabuchayan gifted me before I moved to Chennai. I stared mesmerized at one particular photograph, now safely etched in Betsy’s memory. I tried adding a touch of red to the lighting but it just ended up looking ghastly. On second look though, it had a kind of gothic appeal to it. Her hair covered most of her face; her left eye was the one discernible feature on it. There were rose petals on her breasts, her stomach, her thighs. I tried to un-do the red, and gave up. I just couldn't get my head around iPhoto.
“What’re you looking at Charliebum?” I hadn’t heard her wake up. “You look unbelievable,” I said, overcome by how the photograph had suddenly taken on a life of it’s own by her presence. I wrapped a hand around her waist and nestled my head into the side of her stomach and she moved away. “What’s wrong?” I asked. She lit a cigarette and perched herself atop the computer table. “I like it,” she said, “it’s just that I look so…so dead. I’d make a beautiful corpse that’s all.” I looked up not really impressed by the incongruity of the statement. She said things like that all the time. “It’s a picture,” I said, “you can’t jump and shout in a picture. Every photograph’s dead in that sense. It’s like a leaf in a book. It’s dead, but it looks great, right?” “Touché,” she murmured and looked out the window.
I was incensed. I hadn’t expected her to agree. “What do you mean you look dead?” I asked. She turned around. “It’s all those fucking petals,” she said vaguely, as though that explained everything. I hated her then, right then and there. “What’s wrong with them?” I asked, “what’s so deathly about roses? Most people seem to think they're kinda romantic.” “Flowers, man,” she shook her head, “flowers in general just freak me out. Most unseemly witnesses to love-making, ever. Flowers and marital consummation, in every South Indian movie ever made! A boquet or a wreath on a coffin. Flowers for your mom on her birthday. What’s the fucking difference? They’re all flowers right? And they’re dead, right? Formerly beautiful living things, breathing things, cut up into disgusting little petals and spread all over a bed, so we can lie on it and fuck ourselves to glory in some kind of Garden-of-Eden, pseudo-naturalist fantasy. Fucking on a deathbed, more like.” And she climbed off the table, chucked her cigarette out the window and left. But we're still doing flowers on Valentine's Day, right?
*Excerpt from Cough Syrup Surrealism