Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Here, on this earth,
Where nothing stays,
The passing cloud,
The flowing stream,
The rushing wind,
The fresh bloom and the fading flower,
The seed, the cub,
The withered tree, the dying lion,
The autumn, the spring,
Like wars, people, and innocence..
You flow too,
And so does that one dream,
That both our eyes painted..
Ah, shades of love,
Smudged by tears;
When colors seem meaningless,
I request for a streak of gold -
Can I hold on to you,
For a minute now -
And cherish it for a lifetime?
The joy of a minute’s beauty.
Friday, December 08, 2006
Siddarth – all I know of him is what I have heard from my parents and my aunts and uncles. Are you surprised when I tell you that I didn’t know of him till I was ten years old? He was like a little box of chocolates hidden away from me; a treasure that remained oblivious till I was deemed fit to be told about it.
It was on December 19 1996, when mom pulled me into the dining room, as I returned from school and threw my bags carelessly on the sofa. I still remember that day so vividly, in all its detail, as if it had happened yesterday. There was a cake with a single, lonely candle, glowing serenely. And my, what did I catch in the light of that candle? It was the photograph of a sweet, chubby face, with such innocent eyes, the photograph of a boy with lovely curls.
I saw Siddarth for the first time in my life, heard of him for the first time during his 20th birthday, 20th if he had been around, with mom, dad, with me. My mom spoke of a brother that I had, a child they had till five years before I was born, a precious child they lost in an accident when they sent him with his grandparents for a vacation.
Somehow, I didn’t pester my mom for details. But I burned with curiosity to know more about my brother, who had drifted away like a beautiful feather, back to God, who wanted him back so badly. How would he have looked? How would he have handled his little sister when she got all the attention that he had received by all means, earlier, exclusively for himself? Would he have flung her new doll to the corner, scribbled with a sketch pen all over its face? Or would he have kissed her gently, stealthily, when mom put her to sleep and disappeared into the kitchen? Would he have run away to grab his share of mom’s lap when the princess slept in her cradle?
What are these questions that remain answered even today? Tormenting figments of imagination, that’s what they are – when one remains clueless about what would have happened, if what happened hadn’t happened.
Siddarth was all but five when he left my parents. I think of my mom now. How many times I would have nagged her as to why I didn’t have a sibling! Why should I be the only one? Oh, how many times I have bothered her! Where would she have buried her face and cried then? My heart feels heavy, like a rock tied to the end of a thread; so heavy with guilt. Don’t give me reasons – you were afterall a kid and anyway, you didn’t know what happened. I tell you, this feeling is beyond any human reasoning.
My brother I hear, was so naughty, that his eyes forever sparkled with innocent mischief – like those of khannaiyah. My aunts tell me that he was one among them, more than belonging to his generation. He used to claim to be Lord Krishna himself and talked all sorts of things, like what big men do, for he declared that he was a big boy when he was four! Another of my aunts fondly recollects that he said he would marry her, when he finished college. The many beautiful facets of a small child that never saw light.
These are like pieces of a puzzle for me. I gather them all together to get the bigger picture, of a brother whom I have grown to love more with every passing day, a brother with whom I wish I could spend at least one day. Sometimes, I sit by the sea, smiling to myself as I let my imagination run loose. How we would have built a castle out of sand, together; how we would have taken sides with mom and dad, and laughed a great deal in the end, together; how we would have shared secrets and sealed our mouths and fooled her, together; together, together, together. I am a lonely dreamer who dreams of us being together. I am Ammu, who became Amritavarshini because Siddarth once said his baby sister would be called Amritavarshini, years before I was born. He lives no more to see it, and I live as an impression of what my brother once uttered – as a fragment of memory called Siddarth.
Friday, November 17, 2006
“Sai,” I called. He was too busy laughing to pay any attention to me.
“Saaaaaaaai,” I screamed, “Now what the hell is up?”
“Oh, here comes our Ms. Moody Memsaab,” he spurted out between giggles, “hehehe..hahahaa”
His whole body shook without any hassles, like ‘laugh laugh, no trouble buddy, am there with you to see through it all.” I stood there with my hands folded, waiting for the uproar to die down. As I did, the jumbo- bimbo’s laughter that spiked and slowed alternately, finally sloped down to a much desired silence.
“Now, could you for heaven’s sake share the joke?” I scorned.
Puffing and panting, Sai lifted his left hand and pointed at Ashok, who sat at his desk, facing his computer.
“Ashok,” he paused gulping down a piece of unavoidable laughter, “our dear handsome man seems to have had a great day.”
Sai shot a glance my way to see if I was responding. “Hmm“I nodded. “Whatever happened?”
“Arrey yaar Purnima, tu itna tube light be nahi ho sakthi hai!”
“Yeah right, you talk everything else other than what you are supposed to. “
“Aww..K, “he said and cleared his throat, as if on the verge of making a crucial announcement, “let me get serious,” he paused, “and not laugh, err and be precise..”
“Our romantic hunter went chasing his favourite bird with rosy dreams and the bird hopped away saying it already had a mate,” he grinned. “Our man proposed with all the romance of a love stricken heart and she told him, Can I ask my fiancé and let you know?” “hahaha, kya slap maara!!” and laughed again.
“Sai, that’s hardly funny!” I said sternly. “Why waste moments laughing?”
“Waste? Naah my dear lady,” he said, “it definitely made me feel better,”
“How unjust Sai,” I retorted, “you feel happy at someone’s expense!”
“That’s not the way you see it, Purnima,” he said meditatively. “I am just lightening up the heavy mood.”
I looked at him and sighed and moved to Ashok’s place.
“Hi Ashok,” I called out softly, “been a bad day, has it?”
“Well, yeah, didn’t expect things to turn out this way,” he spoke, words dribbling out like drops from a soaked sponge. Sadness oozed out from his voice, grief was smeared all over his face.
“Am not going to say it’s alright,” I spoke, “it takes time to get over but I know you will, someday.”
That assurance came readily from me until later when I wondered whatever made me say that. Can you get over something like that with time? Can I even make a claim to have been successful about it? Jesus, no! It’s tough and a struggle, and it hurts, hell of a lot.
“Thanks Purnima,” I heard Ashok say, “It felt good to hear that,”
“Now let me strike a blow to the gloom that’s settling in this work area,” Sai came announcing. “Let go guys, just learn to let things go.”
I smiled, hopelessly.
This man, Sai, Sairam was my immediate boss but to an outsider I suppose it would least seem that way. His heart was as big as he was. You could seek emotional refuge in him and be assured that your tears aren’t wasted. Feeling good? Go to Sai. Feeling utterly dismal? Speak to him. He always had the heart to listen, an unmatched ability to heal. I ought to be grateful to Sai. He tore open the cocoon of silence that I had spun around myself after what happened to me a year back. I suffered from what I may call a ‘loss of love.’
Do you know how it feels to be in love? I am not launching into one of those obsessed, heart wrenching, and utopian discourses on it. Love, I think, is plain, simple and beautiful. It fills one with awe, happiness and fulfillment. But, isn’t there always two sides to a coin? Haven’t we all heard of how love hurts? Few friends have told me that this perspective is farce. It depends on the way one sees it. Losing one’s love, however immature it may sound, hurts. It is like a thousand pins shooting down your heart leaving it bleed in agony.
When I met Shyam for the first time, I never knew love had come knocking. We met at a common friend’s party, started going around and things began to take shape. It reached the climax when he proposed to me on my birthday last year.
You know how it is when you have found the person of your life. You start weaving dreams, literally, thread by thread. And finally, one fine day, someone walks through the door and shreds your fabric to a million pieces and your heart lies shattered like shards of glass strewn devastatingly over the floor. That’s precisely what happened with me. As much easily as he breezed into my life, he slipped out, only that this time, he left a big emotional scar.
You can’t brush away the man just like that, can you? He left me because he couldn’t face familial pressures and finally yielded to it, married some other woman, leaving me alone.
I refused to show any signs of interest in marriage following that and much to the despair of my parents, moved away from Pune to Bangalore. Fussy I sound, don’t I? But I believed that change was a big healer.
The ad agency that I work with and the people around me sprinkled hope back into an emotionally deserted terrain, my heart. And suddenly, at some point in time, I felt I was standing like a fool, trying to leap from one cliff onto another, fully aware of a deadly chasm in between. Sounds cryptic? For all that seriousness in that statement, there is a dose of humour in it too. Laugh it off, horrors and horrors, I realized I was falling in love again -in love, with the man who had just then lost his love.
Ashok joined me over tea the next afternoon.
“Feeling better?” I asked.
“Hmm, just alright,” he said, flatly.
“Guess what Purnima,” he continued, “I truly felt like an idiot yesterday. I mean, it was bizarre. I actually felt burnt up, it that sounds any close to how I felt.”
I nodded, blandly.
Ashok looked into my eyes and I searched in those misery plagued ones, helplessly for love, for me.
Later that day, Sai walked into my cube to inform me of a client meeting.
“Sai, what would you do if you loved a girl like nobody’s business?” I asked him when he was turning to leave.
Shocked, dark silence, broken by a sheepish grin.
“I wouldn’t even tell her!”
“Come on Sai, stop kidding,” I screeched.
“Can we catch up on this during a late evening walk?” he requested. Suddenly, I felt like the boss. (Grin!)
Sai had grabbed a handful of popcorn from God knows where, when we left for a walk. After a string of useless talk, I desperately tried to drive him back to the point.
“Answer my question,” I said.
He nibbled away the single popcorn thoughtfully.
“Well, tell you what Purni, I would really tell her some day. When, I have no clue, I would do it just when it seems right!”
I smiled; Sai and his pretence of orderliness and problem-solution crystallization; Clever, quickwitted, funny and yet, thoughtful and immeasurably kind.
"But, I will tell you another thing," he continued, "I wouldn't care if she liked me or not and wouldn't sink even if she said a no!"
"To me, it's the feeling that matters, and it's just that! which is what I have always told you, ever since we met."
I kept quiet. What he said was true. This is a lesson he had always preached to me for months now.
"So," he startled me, "Let's come to the point. What's running in your head?"
For a moment, I felt like I had a transparent head; as if he could see through everything.
"Sai, I think I am pathetic."
"I think I am falling in love, all over again! With a man, whom you would least imagine."
"Ashok?" he asked me plainly while I looked on, dumbstruck!
"Sai, What the hell! How could you? I mean how did you..for heaven's sake, I tell you.." "Holy shit, you are too much!!" I spoke, broken sentences.
"Now tell me, how did you ever come to know?"
"Magic, magic.." he smiled and walked ahead.
I pulled him by his sleeve.
"Tell me Sai," I persisted.
"At the risk of sounding cliched, but definitely to tell you the truth, I could see it in your eyes."
And I thought I had cleverly avoided leaving any evidence.
"Do what your heart tells you to," he said and walked off.
Ashok. How was I going to tell him? Wouldn't he think I am a moron, who just advised him big time a few days before and now comes to him with a silly proposal? How stupid!
After two horrifying days and restless nights, I went up to him.
"Tea?" I proposed.
Over tea. The usual exchange.
"Ashok, I got to share something with you."
"Hmm..You like someone, don't you?"
"Mighty God, how did you know?"
"And I also know who it is.."
"Well?" I paused.
"Sai, isn't it?", "He loves you man, he told me that once!"
I just felt like a loose end, yet again.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
My words seem to shiver in shame for their inability to duly describe that lingering sadness and the hum of a smiling music, unified in a moment. The force, a strangely magnetic one at that, stripped me of the human resistance I possessed and drew me fiercely, that I could go fall at her feet and slowly look up at her face. I did fall and I did see a face; a face that glowed with an unearthly serenity, a pair of grey eyes that defied the word beauty of its worth. I also saw that all that those soft eyes perceived was a screen of perfect black when her music produced a riot of colorful dreams.
Sunday, October 29, 2006
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Of so many things! Like taking a vacation, and writing a story, and catching up with friends, and buying a bookshelf! Recently, I have been taken in by the charm of a beautiful bookshelf, particularly because of its simplicity and elegance.
I am surprised how I can take liking to certain things almost immediately. While my obsession for books, bags and music are always growing exponentially, there are those other desires that pop up now and then and hold my fantasy for a good length of time. Like the bookshelf that I am talking about. Let me refer to 'it' as a 'she' from now on.
I see her in my dreams because I am always preoccupied about where to place her if she arrives and how I would arrange all my precious darlings from fiction to non fiction to poetry to management to comics. May be this should go into shelf one, that into shelf two and so on.
Now that am writing about this, I should share with you a similar obsession that grew in me when I bought my scooty pep three years ago. I desperately counted down 45 days before the red princess came to belong to me on a rainy evening in Bangalore. Hell, who cared for the rains?
Like some of my friends would know, that day, I actually woke up at two in the night to check if she was alright. I am glad to say that my interest in her hasn't weaned away one bit, even today. I call her my daughter, pretty, sweet, child.
The point is, I am amazed by human attachment to certain things. We care for them like they are the most precious things that define our lives and a small damage to it or a life without it seems unbearable. Suddenly, all philosophy takes a back seat and you can't think of a life without getting your hands on it. Isn't it?
I began a countdown last Monday for yesterday when my hubby promised to take me to the furniture shop. Unfortunately, the rains killed all my dreams of seeing and bringing home my much desired bookshelf. What now, I have begun another countdown for the next weekend for the same mission! :D
Updates will of course be available! :)..Good day till then! :)
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
I hope to make the time soon and get back with a post, really really soon!
Take care all of you and enjoy life (and work!) !! :D
PS : A lot has changed back from when I began blogging. I felt the title of my blog needed a change and hence, it has changed! Request people who have my old blog name on their blogroll to update it with this one!
I have great pleasure in welcoming you to The Storyteller's Hut! :)
Friday, September 15, 2006
I draw lines on the canvas of dew that has settled on the window panes. I would fix them straight but they would trickle down aimlessly, beyond my control; Random, strange patterns. Try again, and again, and again. Random, strange patterns. No straight lines. They behave as they will. Does God script lines of fate similarly?
I watch through the misty glass, the pale yet unusually calm face of the man I so revered and loved – Grandpa. Yesterday was not like this. He and I had had a nice, warm chat, sitting by his bedside. And suddenly, with minimum fuss, he slipped into a coma.
Granddad was telling me about his childhood days. How he and his little friend, Somu, jumped over his neighbours’ compound wall, into their farm, to steal mangoes with great expertise. These for me were like silver screen stories in real life. Where had I ever heard of such stuff? The movies, I bet.
Ageing is such a mysterious reality, even stranger, the phenomenon of death. To me, they are frightful truths that often haunted one in the nights and quietly escaped through the backdoor as morning descended with the illusions called life’s responsibilities. Don’t we categorize them as simply, daily routine?
Coming to think of it, there is the other side. We run in a race, fast and faster, to be the first and always on top. In the process of running, many of us forget that the ultimate finishing line is the end of ourselves. I somehow, can’t subscribe to the fact, “there is only one life, live it.” We should live it, but well aware of our coordinates. We don’t live forever. Sadly, many of us either ignore death or worry too much about it. How many of us can gracefully accept that death is indeed a humbling truth?
Surprisingly, Grandpa always had a calming view of death, not the frightening undertone that it usually presented. He only dealt with it, with such elegant ease. The calm that stemmed from his subconscious glowed on his face, as if preserved till eternity.
We fear missing others, in their deaths and in our own, missing our own selves and lives, those lives, however miserable they may get. We fear death even more, because we have no conclusive control over the causative factors.
I was missing Grandpa’s toothless grin, as soft as a baby’s. I was missing his childish craving for the forbidden jalebis, his assuring talk, his strong will that beat the fragility of his physique. I was missing the complement of me, a weak young woman– he, the strong, old man. I was missing my confidant.
Is there nothing that we can do? I ask the doc, gazing at Grandpa. The doc shrugs in reply. He is deteriorating. I hold grandpa’s hand that had grown to wear the characteristic softness of old age. I will wait for you, Grandpa. Afterall, who am I to draw lines?
Thursday, August 31, 2006
I am not a woman who somebody would easily want for a wife. That was my husband’s last remark, when he was my husband.
“Jane, you are just not happening! Look at you. Now, why don’t you pump some life into your being?”
Now that I think of it, this was never how things began between us. Rosy, picturesque, dainty, and smooth – made for each other, we had imagined. But what we reaped in the end was disdain, hatred, repulsion, tough luck. All those happy moments were ephemeral that evaporated without a trace, to nothingness.
“I don’t for the life of me understand what you want,” I had screamed one day. “Walk around with dipping necklines, revealing thighs, party all time and smoke cigarettes offensively into faces? Is that what life is to you?”
“Come on Jane,” he roared, “That isn’t everything. But that, is also life. Is seclusion, quiet and mute arrogance all that there is in life for you?”
Petty fights weren’t real reasons why we separated. They were trivial, invented, to force a separation. We forced flaws, sharp divisions of attitude to merely get away. We were getting unbearable to each other, so I thought. I had all these days, tried running away from that one truth: What forced us to invent reasons? Was I so incapable of sustaining a relationship? Was I the reason for him to bring up reasons?
These have been days of emotional curfew. I wouldn’t cross the disturbing line, after which I would break down. “Why should I waste my tears for a heartless man?” I used to reason, but the reality was that I was running away from identifying myself, as possibly the core of the entire fault.
Ah, the travails of a wandering mind! I struggle to place the entire relationship and the events associated with it, under a surveillance system – my conscience. Where had it been all these days? Had I just snubbed it all those times when it rose before me to warn me of a possible breakdown?
“Let’s give ourselves some more time,” he had suggested and I had flatly refused to even lend an ear. What could you expect out of a heart that was fuming red with rage and obscene hatred?
“Don’t try to patch up things, Sam. I am tired of showing up this façade of loving you and living happily with you.You hate me, accept it and get done with me!” I had yelled.
“Jane, you are not a woman that someone would easily want to have for a wife,” he had shouted and walked out of the house. And with that he drew the final between us. Rather, it was I who forced him to face the severity of a separation.
Then, I had thought heavily about not compromising on my individuality. Why should I party and mix, when I don’t have the inclination to do it? Why should I stop doing what I love to do, when he doesn’t like it? Even the disappointment on his face wasn’t remedy to the selfishness that I was cultivating inside me. I could have at least tried out that day, couldn’t I? I could have at least made an attempt to set it all right. Give it some space, like he had said. Like I have today; I have worn the skirt that he so wanted me to wear then.
My love for him seems to have been locked away in unfathomable depths and I had let silly things come in between us only to realize that the love choked and died a silent death inside me, inside him, that the damage became irreparable. God damn, my murky, obscure attitude!
The sun has turned a dense ball of orange, and the sky a backdrop of shimmering gold. The water suddenly appears dyed orange, a flowing satin of orange. Time to leave, I decide and walk back, unmindful of the soggy mud. I turn and see that I have left a track of my footprints. These, I think, will be washed out in moments. I fervently hope that the ironies of life will brush aside too. Realization in itself is a big thing and it has begun today. I know I will learn to live, someday.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Nothing very important but nothing unimportant either. I was surprised by a strange phenomenon. Suddenly quite a few people that I know have asked me questions (through Orkut and phone calls) in their own styles, but with an underlying theme that could be framed thus: “How has married life been treating you?” and I got back to them saying more or less, “Yeah, splendid”. And it all happened in a week, when one of the dates coincided with the completion of six months of our married life.
I have to admit I have learnt a lot in these six months. Reflective as it may seem and sound, living with a partner alters one’s lifestyle from what it was when one remained single. It’s so much fun sharing one’s joys, sorrows and fears with a special person where adjustments, compromises made with the right temperament contributes in a big way to a harmonious life together.
There is a thin line that runs between what you would want to do and what your hubby desires and I think if one is smart enough, she should be able to strike the right balance between the two. Like, eating upma, for instance ;). I have hated the very prospect of eating that silly dish for years and I would run miles from the kitchen when I got a hint of it being prepared by my mother. But I cook the same thing for him, these days. And the best (or worst?) thing is: I eat it as well. But halfway through, seeing me struggle, he would kindly ask me to drop the idea. :D. Well, that’s fun. But, the fact is, it could be extrapolated to larger issues that tend to crop up in people’s lives together.
Oh, we have been doing tremendous shopping at Shoppers Stop. Logically speaking, we shouldn’t be talking about clothes for couple of months to come. Nevertheless, I know, we will and may be even go a step further to redo our wardrobes. :D.
Did I miss out “Vettayadu Vilayaadu” in between all this? :O. Oops, I loved the movie, the thrill, the immense change that it brings to the kollywood world which is otherwise increasingly being loaded with silly, soapy, sentimental scripts! Kamal Haasan dons the role of a smart cop and man, he really is, after all those ‘in between humour based movies’ of his. Jyothika does a subdued role and breezes through the movie. But the real eye catcher of the film is the characterization of the villainous men. The Diro-man really makes you hate them. Definitely worth a watch, if you are the sorts who can tolerate a little bit of gruesome scenes and violence.
Lord Ganesha alias Vinayaka better be happy :p. We celebrated his day in all its splendour and made his favourite kozhakattais, sundal, vadai, idlis, payasam and a full course meal! I don’t know whether He really ate it all and felt happy but our friends surely did. My friend was home within an hour of me telling him we made kozhakattais. Hey, you better treat me someday for this!
What’s more? I am now happily listening to a beautiful playlist on winamp and typing this away. But caution soon warms up the insides of this not so bright head. No more of these stretched out, relaxed happy days. No more of those afternoons when hubby comes home for lunch. No more of leisurely book reading, for I report for work (again, after a break of eight months) in exactly one week!
Saturday, August 19, 2006
For all the four years that I had known him, we spoke most when our eyes locked. But I couldn’t decipher its implications. Where was all this heading to? What did it mean when I saw a sparkle in his eyes? Was it love or an imagined, self conceived attraction? It could be love, I guessed, for, the pristine beauty of the feeling meant that there was indeed something special.
But, we weren’t talking. Don’t ask me why. I simply don’t know. Sometimes, the language of silence is far too soothing than any spoken word. We didn’t want to confess something we innately knew. That’s stereotypical, archaic, clichéd. The belief that he loved me, could sustain a parade of dreams for all those years and that was exceptionally sufficient to keep my soul happy.
Someday, I would get a sign, a positive one at that, and I would know the answer, I believed. The sign finally did come, when his eyes beckoned me to his arms, on a beautiful night.
One glance my way and I blushed like those docile touch-me-nots that shrink unto themselves at the touch of a finger. It was a moment pregnant with the joys of newly found love – not a word exchanged, yet it felt like I had known him for eons.
The instant was a perfect confluence of a woman’s femininity, fragility, fluidity – that the warmth of his gaze enveloped my feminine wraps. I surrendered; I melted away like drifting ice. Did he even know about it?
Rishi and I had shared wonderful moments in the three years we spent together at college. It’s hard to find a true friend, someone who can sense your mood, act accordingly, lend a shoulder to lean on and cry, ruffle your hair and let your tears have a beautiful meaning.
Rishi was all that to me, but I was always left groping with a sense of doubt – Why should he do it all for me, a girl who had nothing extraordinary about herself?
I loved taking long walks with him round the campus. This won’t last forever, I told him one day. Isn’t it unkind of fate that all good things had to come to an end? Who said this would end, he asked. How could it end, if we decided to go together forever? I stood still, feeling dizzy and as I can recollect, feeling extremely confused. What ever do you mean? Why me, Rishi? There are so many pretty and interesting women, who dote on you. Why me?
Because you are not extraordinary, he told me. Because I adore the sweet child in you who cries for a Mills n Boon story, who smacks her lips after a dose of ice cream and who without hesitation, truly hugs me and sobs for a badly done test. You are simple and hence, truly beautiful, he said and pressed his lips on my cheek leaving a solemn and tender kiss, for the first time ever.
“You are the music of my life, Maya. Won’t you be my girl?”
Sanjay couldn’t understand what went wrong. Veena’s send off hadn’t been very pleasant in the morning.
“Good bye, honey,” he had said, while leaving for office and was met with cold silence in return.
“What could be wrong?” he wondered all day long.
Back from work in the evening, he tried the hug and pacify formula. It always had fetched good results. But that day it had a different effect. Veena thrust a cup of his favourite badam kheer into his hands and was speaking to herself.
“I am a fool,” she said, “a silly wife who does all that her husband likes and he, he doesn’t care to even speak to her! All he can do is to waste away the morning, talking to a female colleague who he finds much more interesting than his own wife!”
“Ahh, pangs of jealousy. Now, I know!” he thought and grabbed a bunch of roses from the vase, knelt down and said out loud,
“Veena, my true love, come hug me now, right away!” and ran around her following her all over the house.
“I should tell my mom that I have married a monkey,” she said.
“Really, but it so happens that the monkey’s wife is curiously jealous!”
“Nobody is jealous, here, now go away!”
“Ah really, then somebody is trying to suppress a smile, isn’t it? Now come on, don’t lie!”
“Get lost, you meanie!”
“No, no way,” he laughed, and seized her by her waist, pulling her close to him.
“You silly, stupid, leave me now, I hate you, I hate you, I hate you, I hate to hate you, you bum!”
They had been married for over fifty years now. But things were slowly moving away from what it used to be. Lakshmi was distancing herself from their beautiful past, quite without her knowledge. Swaminathan was trying his best to pull her out of the deadly abyss she was plunging into. Her memories were falling prey to Alzheimer’s disease.
“Do you remember this painting?” he asked her one day, pointing at one. She looked at it and drew a blank look. “You gifted me that on our 25th wedding anniversary!” How could he hold her back, she, the essence of all that life had been to him in the last 50 years? A big part of him was nearing annihilation. What was he to do?
One of those nights, he sat, massaging her foot and telling her how the blue in her eyes still remained beautiful, even after so many years. He told her how the warmth of her grasp still communicated a thread of togetherness even that day. He told her, how he missed her voice, their early morning talks sitting in the balcony. He told her of how they had shied away during their first night and how he carried her all over the house, when she confessed her motherhood to him. He told her how he still loved her silver grey curls and her small feet.
He took a deep breath and looked at her face. He saw a tear slipping down her cheek and rushed to hold it in his palm. He believed she heard him.
Saturday, August 12, 2006
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
I realized it’s high time we revived a certain tradition that both of us – you, and me, by virtue of being your daughter, have held so close to our hearts. As you might have very rightly guessed, it’s about getting back to the art of writing letters – it feels like ages since I wrote something to you out of my hand. The fact that my handwriting seems utterly messy would suffice to say that I have moved distantly away from a culture that has a charm of its own and demands special prowess. Nevertheless, I shall attribute that to initial trouble and move on.
Dad, I am planning to do this thing, systematically. Let matters of daily routine rest with our usual telephonic conversations and daily mails. These letters will be different. Let me explain. Do you remember those nights when I returned home for my vacation? We used to sit in the balcony, look up at the sky and talk philosophy watching the stars! I remember how we used to glide from one topic to another and let words play, to put forth our different ideas. Discussions, they were, that taught me plenty and left me wanting for more.
Time has always ushered new things into our lives and can you believe it is seven years since you got me married? Dad, try how much ever, it’s been tough to maintain our relationship the way it had been before my marriage. However, my love and concern for you and mom, have remained unquestionably intact and isn’t it true that love grows even more splendidly in separation?
I want to begin this series of letters, with a special person who has redefined the meaning of my life and in the process, has offered me such interesting perspectives and thoughts that I haven’t really been able to identify myself with, before. Yes, I am indeed talking about the three year old brat that I have for a son and you for a grandson - Aryan. Dad, you got to tell me if I had been such a big trouble for you when I was young. This chap really gives me all the exercise I need to keep me going in my old age – very active, or more appropriately, brimming with ‘difficult-to-manage’ mischief.
I know I have shared aspects of his growing up with you and mom, over the phone. But certain observations, a few realizations, I feel I can best articulate only through writing. It so happens that when you watch your child grow up, it’s almost like looking into a mirror and seeing your own childhood. In a way, it’s an access to insights about what I might have been when I was a child and what as a parent, you would have done (leaving aside photographs) – things that I, in all realistic possibility don’t have an inkling about.
What I want to share with you is the emotional side of bringing up and being with one’s child, after having been one, to one’s parents. Aryan brings inside me a gush of feelings – love, concern, responsibility, pride and sometimes, fear.
It’s surprising as to how a fresh soul can breeze in so much of happiness into one’s life. From the day Aryan was born, I have watched every act of his, as one of divine nature and worthy of all human awe. Ah, what could be more fulfilling than watching your child toddle, seeing his teeth grow, throwing all those fond admonitions for getting his shirt dirty, or for fussing over a glass of milk or for sucking his thumb? I remember you telling me how mom used to scare me that she would tie a cockroach to my finger if I ever sucked it again. May be, it’s time for me, to use those silly tricks again and feel foolishly superior to a child, who knows no fear. Dad, didn’t you feel this way too?
I tremble with pride when he cites nursery rhymes with half audible words and syllables that are yet to find their way to perfection through that sweet tongue. In child talk lies the core of innocence and I wish I could trap that and keep it with me forever. It’s something that experience has eroded off my being and I helplessly realize, my son would be subjected to the same fate.
I feel responsible for his life and sometimes as Akash puts it, get over protective and fussy. Can’t help it, can I? It’s that being a mother, I feel insecure when the child is away from my vicinity, slowly leading to fear. When he holds my hand, I feel overjoyed and overwhelmingly safe. As your child, didn’t I redefine the outlines of your life? May be I did, from what I am learning now.
My son teaches me so many things that I ironically have forgotten; the beauty of simplicity, the power of an inquisitive mind, for example. May be as a child, I had taught you similar things – what you taught your parents and had forgotten. Suddenly, your daughter starts teaching the same things all over again! We teach lessons, to forget them, only to learn them again. Vicious cycle?
It all seems so similar and it’s just that I was a daughter to you whereas Aryan is a son to me. But, we hand down those emotions, those tricks. And those childish pranks run down unstoppably, generation after generation. The phases that we observe and admire are undoubtedly the same through years. May be you used a cassette recorder to tape my rhymes and childish chatter. But today, I do it through my digital camera and my mobile phone. There are things that do not change and there are some that change.
I am led to believe that a chain of changes dominates every generation and at the same time, there are things that are handed down to children – such is life, isn’t it? For all that there is, we have so much to learn and ponder about!
We’ll indeed talk more on anything remotely possible, in the days to come. Do write back to me.
Love to mom and messy darling doggy, Bruno!
Lots of affection,
PS: Dad, I miss your cake and your hug. Wish me Happy Birthday!
Thursday, July 13, 2006
More than a hundred lives lost and over a three hundred injured. Of what worth is all this immense loss, I understand not. Why target the innocent common man? Where is all this leading to? When will peace return to this land?
Bombay. What I share with the bubbling city is a long time love affair. The terror attacks that wrecked havoc in the city, by targeting the lifeline of Bombay, have left me feeling empty and wanting to share my spirit to fight, though I don’t stay there anymore.
A part of humanity wants to instill terror, while another goes about its business undaunted and the city wakes up to live the next day as normal as ever.
What's more. It's high time some relevant action is taken on this front. Meanwhile, the strength of unity is what can help us now. Overcoming differences and joining hands is the need of the hour and Bombay set a perfect example of this spirit yesterday.
I remember how we fought the July 26th floods last year and like I was mesmerized by some supreme force, I got back to office the very next day. I am sure the same calm would have returned over the skyline at the Marine Drive, even today.
Salaam Bombay! Your spirit shall rule over every other evil force that wants to purge the courage out of you! May the kith and kin of those who lost their lives, find themselves even stronger and may those who caused it, tremble with shame for the gruesome act they committed!
Monday, July 10, 2006
Ladies and Gentlemen, put your hands together to welcome,
The Sizzling Brownie!!!!! :)..:)
Thursday, July 06, 2006
When did I smell the hint of my first spring on earth? It was when Sally, my caretaker took me down the slopes near my home, and I caught the sweet scent of spring and received the first shower of dew. Then on, I have come a long way, may be far, far away from the novelty of a new born.
Isn’t it fascinating? The way we all grow up; so many changes manifesting themselves in our physical form and the nature of our being. That, what once seemed meaningful and perfectly valid becomes the ground stone of absurdity; that innocence, turns to be a paradigm so distant, and next to impossible, that we struggle to realign our focus to what we once were?
Pouring over a cup of hot chocolate, landing up with sticky fingers, sticky lips, standing in those long twirling lines in the school, waiting for a chance – to pick up a library book or to get your notebook signed, or maybe for a drill, or may be just to render a prayer with due reverence and hear boring speeches with undue disrespect. Memories – how they rustle like the falling leaves of autumn!
And what about those merry go rounds with Agnes Anderson, Hilda Osborne, Rachel Larson and Matilda Merryweather during school days at Southampton? Would I care to do that today? Come on, I just can’t afford to make a fool of myself, Can I? That’s what I think - openly. Secretly though, I wish I could call all of them to my guest room sometime and do it all over again!
Deals used to be struck those days. Rachel and I would exchange our pencils and pencil cases. Hilda would let me have her doll for a week’s time and I would give her my (much eyed) kitchen set, but mind you, only for a week. Deals often led to complaints, teaming up and pesky fights. And those were followed by courageous reconciliations, ironically through deals struck again, only different ones this time.
As children, I think we asked interesting questions, enthusiastically pondered for answers and surprised elders, out of pure naiveté. Momma, how did I come into this world? May be Momma said, from me. And then she would have gone on to say, God made you and sent you to this world, through me.
“Really, But, where did God come from?”
Today, I have changed, in so many ways. I have grown up. Yes, I have. I no longer let out a shrill cry of joy at the look of a box of toffees. I don’t sink my teeth into a pastry, unmindful of cream smeared all around my mouth and falling onto my dress. I don’t fascinate wearing all those jazzy pink ribbons and laced hair clips that I had once held with so much adoration. I live, carefully treading along the boundaries defined by the society, the world, people. I no longer ask the right questions. Even if I did, I don’t bother to struggle enough to get answers.
I bother. Oh hell, yes, I do. I care for what others would think of me. I care for not messing up.
Time changes one or one changes with Time. May be you realize that or you don’t. Years back I was a kid who ran back home after I lost something as small as my school badge or snapped up my watch strap accidentally, out of fear and agony. Today, I can’t even think of doing all that again.
What’s all that? A part of the package called ‘growing up’?
Thursday, June 22, 2006
Monday, June 12, 2006
Yeah, my sister finally woke me up from my blissful sleep..:)...and I have decided to go in for a weekend roundup..KK and I had an exotic buffet lunch at the Taj, watched Fanaa at PVR Cinemas and visited Landmark and Crossword over the last two days, though there isn't anything significantly surprising about the last mentioned activity!
Fanaa was ok. Kind of predictable storyline. But Aamir and Kajol's pair rocks! My lips now fail to stop murmuring Chand Sifaarish and of course I sway happily to the beats. Nobody could have rendered it better than Shaan.
The next few days are gonna be kind of busy and I wish I could keep my blogging in course.
Oh yes, I also have a small reason to celebrate. 100th post!!! :)
See you all soon..!!
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
A devoted Alarm clock (Crooning mechanically):
Wake up, wake up, my darling,
You gotta get going
It's a new, new beginning
A beautiful day in the making.
A sleepy Me (head popping out):
Oh, stop all that crooning
You tell that every morning
Remember, that gets boring
And, I don't feel like waking.
To the coziest of all divine ladies, Lady Idleness!
A blur of white
rising in might
patting me alright
I know thee, my light!
A bewitched me (looking in her direction):
My, I can't stop gazing
At thy form so pleasing
Despite all the ageing
You still look thriving.
A puzzled Alarm clock (rolling eyes):
Now dear, stop wailing
Look at the sun beaming
How dutiful and inspiring
Your day ahead is waiting.
A half convinced Me(struggling):
Oh, enough of convincing
Yet again, you are winning
In holding me from falling
A prey to idleness so dazzling.
And thus I wake up
steaming coffee in a cup
dabbing fresh make up
Sigh, everyday is a hiccup!!
Yet another night returns
Yet another dawn breaks
Yet again his duty begins
Yet again, my friend sings:
Wake up, wake up, my darling,
You gotta get going
It's a new, new beginning
A beautiful day in the making.
And so the story runs
for days, days and days
As the Lady divine returns
in her ever tempting forms.
Alarm Clock: Wake up, wake up, my darling..
Me: No, no, she is alluring
Lady Idleness: My honey, stop resisting
There's lots in the offing.
Alarm Clock: O' dear, you, she is wooing
Me: 'ts just a day, stop worrying
Lady Idleness: My child, continue dreaming
And witness idleness flourishing
Alarm Clock: O'Sigh, why aren't you holding?
Me: Indeed I am, but to her, smiling
To the hand she is lending
Lady Idleness: Come on, it's happiness calling..
And thus for a day
Feeling happy and gay
From the work,cut away
I slept and slept, all day!
Friday, June 02, 2006
Well, that's what I thought..But there seems to be some terrible problem with the Beckett template. All formatting has disappeared. For now, I go back to Kubrick..
And I also have an appeal out here.
I would like to put forth an appeal made by the "DS Special Children Welfare Association", a group based in Chennai. To briefly tell you about the people in this group, the team is constituted by eight down syndrome children – Ramesh, Dinesh, Santhosh, Sudhakar, Shakthi Balan, Revathy, Vidyavathy and Uma Maheswari. The interesting feature about this group is that these eight children have been given vocational training by a team of eight parents (parents of these children.).
The group works like a regular school and on a daily basis, under the guidance of their parents, the children manufacture, eco friendly plates, cups, fresh fruit juices, paper bags, envelopes, diabetic biscuits, greeting cards, Mopping cloth, kitchen towels, yoga mats, door mats, incense sticks, handicraft gift items and many more. It is heartening to note that the items done by these children have been sold to the public through organized sales, in and around the city.
The support group which got together under this banner only last July, has seen phenomenal success as it has organized more than six sales events in the last one year, including colleges. In a few days from now, the group is moving into a new building (in Virugambakkam) that has been donated to them.
As you may have realized, the parents of these children are very keen on boosting the confidence of these children by engaging them in activities like these. They believe in using their children’s potential to the fullest, thus helping them in their growth. This being the case, the parents initially ventured to put in the start up capital required to buy raw materials, basic machinery etc.
As the team moves into the new premises, they are in need of funds to buy the following.
- Machinery, fans
- Raw Materials
- A van to transport them from their homes and the finished products to the sales outlets.
I have personally seen these children and witnessed their work and I vouch for the great work they do. I place before you, on behalf of the association, a sincere request to help them by contributing whatever you can. Contributions can be made through Cheques or Demand Drafts, drawn in favour of “DS Special Children Welfare Association, Virugambakkam”. I also request you to pass the word around through emails.
The original appeal and details of the group can be accessed here.
Let’s do our small measure to help these special kids feel independent and meaningful.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
I basked in the glory and peace of lustrous motherhood. It was as though a tender flame burned quietly within me, throwing a light never seen thus far. She clung on to me, her little fingers appraising the alien cloth that then seemed to have come between her and me. Did she know that I was her mother? What would I tell her – call me Mom, or Momma, or Mum or whatever? What was she thinking? What was running inside her little mind? Was it blank or was He showing her beautiful dreams as she stirred and smiled?
I held her close to my bosom, her head on my hand, her tiny fingers holding my gown. Oh, how exhilarating it was, I can’t explain. I ran my fingers all over her, feeling the supple and the beautifully tender skin, fresh with the smell of a new born. Such tiny fingers, toes, small eyes that hadn’t even opened completely, a small round mouth, that had broken into just one half smile, a nose that was yet to make its way out, such delicate folds – how marvelously sculpted by the Master Creator. I had carried a priceless gift from God and had delivered it to the world, I felt and hence, beamed with a satisfaction, that was definitely not meagre.
The first time she crawled, the first time she sat up, the first words she uttered (buh, buh for milk) – a long list of unforgettable firsts found a mention in my “My baby book”. One afternoon, while I was in the kitchen checking on baby food, I suddenly turned to see my little honey having taken two steps from where I had put her (it was near the kitchen door). She tottered towards me, carefully lifting her small feet and putting them forward, o-------n-------e, t-------w-------o, th------ree-------, fo--------ur, fiveeeee! I sank on my knees and held her hands. She beamed. I smiled. I cried. My baby had learnt to walk.
It wasn’t long after then that she started running all over the house and the garden, her father, giving her all the company. Vaccines, diaper changes, “Oomy” and “Addy”, baby food, prams, toys, baby clothes; they were symbols that dominated our lives together. Addy dropped her at pre-school and I would pick her up in the evening. “Oomy” she would say, “Colour, colour..”. Colours fascinated her and Addy only pampered her with crayons, colour pencils, more crayons, more colour pencils.
I think the phrase, “And they lived happily ever after..” is destined to find its presence only in fairy tale books. (Oh, how many we used to read out to her – “Beauty and the Beast”, “Cindrella”, “Snow White and the seven dwarfs”, “Sleeping Beauty”, “The Pied Piper”, “Pinocchio”..), for doom descended on us, like a huge black cloud. When my daughter was barely three years old and me, 25, my husband left us groping in the dark, searching for a future, that appeared to exist eons away. He died of cardiac arrest.
Faced with the huge responsibility of bringing up a child, single handedly, I shuddered. God, what would I do? Where would I begin? The amazing trait of family life is the division of responsibility. Momma would cook, run the household, Pappa would work, take care of financial matters, and both would play an equal part in raising the kid. Suddenly, I had to do it all, all alone. I felt stranded, as if abandoned in an island in the middle of the sea, with no one to help but myself.
She was after all, a child. Her questions were alarming and, never ending. She couldn’t understand why dad never returned home, why momma went to work in a bank while she also made food, why Addy never dropped her at school anymore and only a school van picked her up. Why was Oomy signing report cards, why was Oomy talking to teachers – Oh hell, why was the whole world upside down, why was routine so topsy turvy and was like what it once never was?
I was making tremendous effort; to build up my determination, to walk my way up to my ultimate goal. I sought employment, took stock of our family financial condition and retained our house. (We had bought it just a year back). I was earning only half as much as my husband and hence our lifestyle had to be adjusted to the inflows. Fatigue, work pressures, memories and sometimes despair would drive me to a corner.
I wonder how time starts ticking away without even you realizing it. In all those years of my daughter growing up, I wanted to make sure, she didn’t miss her dad but how could that be possible? I was missing my husband and how could I successfully fill up that void he left behind? My daughter seemed to me a mature girl for, over a period of time she realized that life had to go on and that father was no longer a physical presence of support but an entity in the memory, an impression and pillar of strength within our minds.
By the time she was eleven, we had gained ground and established a way of life for ourselves. We were determined to have fun together. After years, we laughed, rolling on our beds, had pillow fights, threw water at each other, cooked together, did homework together, went for picnics, watched horror movies and comedy shows, remembering him all the while, only that this time, we remembered him with happiness and not regret. It’s a lesson that life and time had taught us – to be happy when we could be.
Are anxieties and fears signs of growing old? By the time my daughter was sixteen, I seemed to have all signs of it. I was worrying, to say the least, that my daughter, like many other teens in the country, would lose track of her life. What induced the fear in me, I know not, but it sprouted out of nowhere and was growing to torment me in ways that I had not imagined. At fifteen, she was watching movies with her friends, having late night parties. She was good, she informed me of everything beforehand, yet, I panicked. I feared I was losing my daughter to undesirable ways of life. Drugs, affairs, sex – Oh Jesus, what if my daughter fell a prey to any of these? My daughter’s requests to attend parties slowly met with a cold resistance, which she had never seen of her mother. “Oh Momma, but why?” they are all nice folks, she would say. But I would put a firm foot down.
In the nights, I would see her weep into her pillow and feel terrible about silly notions I was entertaining inside my head. She is my daughter, I would tell myself, Why don’t you trust her? She, she understood but still didn’t understand. She was a nice daughter who loved her mother and knew momma loved her too. But, why wasn’t she letting her go? Why doesn’t Momma trust her anymore?
My fear was driving me to a point of atrocious insanity, bewildering for sure, to my now grown-up daughter. Our lives suddenly seemed to assume the nature of a bundle of contradictions, when each found the other’s attitude a dividing line – to her a fence to her freedom - a fence that pricked when she wanted to jump to her greener pastures, to me the very barricade that rose like a wall between us. In the process of me being protective, and she being assuring, we, like children, were exaggerating the line beyond proportion.
In the end, I trusted my instincts and let her go. She wanted to do her graduation, staying at a hostel. My fears rose in me again but at seventeen, I saw in her eyes, the confidence that had once sparkled in her father’s eyes. I let her go.
It was true I missed her and worried about her but her assurance was not merely words, they were really meant to assure a mother in a distant land, a single mother who had stretched herself to bring her daughter up in the best of comforts. I dutifully collected every single letter she wrote to me, spoke to her once a week over the phone and counted down four months to her winter break and then another four months for her summer break. And my daughter would return, unfailingly every time, to be with her mother.
Her assertion that I was still her best friend warmed up my existence and she spoke of her friends, her college, her professors, her classes and in her final year, her boy friend. I smiled and she sensed the worry plaguing me, “Don’t worry momma, he is a very nice chap,” I will bring him over very soon. I trusted her.
My hair grayed quite a bit over the years and looking at my own reflection in the mirror, I felt the shadow of old age creeping up my physical body. I continued to work even after my daughter was gone for her studies, for it seemed really important to me to keep myself occupied, lest an idle mind would conjure up unwanted thoughts and ideas.
The day my daughter spoke of a new person, a new man in her life, I realized that she was truly grown up and whether I liked it or not, her life would take a different course in which I may no longer be the mainstream personality. She would have her family, her kids to deal with and the ball would just roll on.
I think of the last 25 years in a flash, as my daughter’s latest letter flutters in my hands. She speaks of her work life and discusses her marriage plans. “Momma, I’ll always be there for you, Love you sweetheart” she signs off. Now, I decide, it’s time to see a new phase. It’s time to redefine my goals.
Heart warming victories, silent defeats, ups and downs. It isn’t easy to be a single mother.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
My very dear aunt, her husband, her second daughter, Suganthi, (a down syndrome child) and her grandson (and my nephew) Siddharth (her first daughter's child) all passed away in a fatal road accident on the 21st of May, on their way from Chennai to Trichy. All of them are survived by my cousin, whose parents, sister and her own son, died very tragically.
Suganthi, will you come back once more to do all that you did and say all that you said?
Siddhu kutty, all your cars are still with us. Won't you come back to play again?
Athai and Athimber, we will miss you lots.
May your souls rest in peace.
Folks, when you drive, please do not drive rashly. Not only is your own life precious, but so are the lives of many others who drive on the road. It's a humble request. Thanks.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Through trees that rose to heights
The moon white as a dove
The sky watching with a million eyes
We played the game of love.
By the brook rippling down softly
On the earth that smelled fresh
Wrapped in your arms so closely
We nestled in our youth’s mesh.
Ah, the memory of one glorious night
It pricks the heart and it bleeds
And now, it’s your spite that I fight
No more in the ring of your needs.
The secret, I bury deep in the wood
The truth falling like sullen shadows
Here once hand in hand we stood
O’ the passion in me, still bellows.
You vow your love and steal my right
Never again to see your face
I remain the mistress for a night
A lover distant in time and space.
Some more strokes from a learner's hand..
In the end, I felt a lot lighter! Thank you colours..:)
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Ok, if you please..
(Don't ask me if it's fiction, it isn't!)
The pair in the story is an awesome one, you know! (Yeah, trust me!)..Why not, if it happens to be me and my better half ;)(call him KK)! The Ipod Nano is ours (technically what I own, though my husband sponsored it..:p).
This Ipod Nano has been my secret desire for (if not ages), definitely couple of months.
Me, I was obsessed with the idea of owning an Ipod but was never willing to talk about it, even when tempted into buying it. I have this very strange tendency to say no to things I like. If someone asked me straight on my face, if I wanted something, I would say a no; outright. This is true even if it's a thing that I really loved. After having said a no, I would rue over it and long for it, like a dumb idiot. And that, is a terrible weakness!
Both KK and I, are Forum addicts (the much talked about mall in Bangalore), that we religiously spend every saturday/sunday evening there. For the first five of our last seven visits there, he would take me to the Apple Ipod store inside Forum, and we would gaze dreamily (me, longingly!) at all those cute Ipods sitting there. While I was caught struggling with my unusual emotion, KK was stuck with a different problem. He also (desperately?) wanted to pick up a nano, but his wife (whom he knew wanted to buy one, but unfortunately) was actually convincing him not to buy it, citing a huge list of unwanted reasons - big money, savings, investments, blah, blah..I am sure, he thought "Oh come on, it's just this time! Why all this Ramayana??"
From the third time on, that we walked into the Apple store, I was getting this uneasy, silly feeling that the demo person out there, would recognise us, as the "Couple Craving for a Cute, Compact, Charismatic, Cho Chweet Thing" (or abbreviate that to C7T)". The day we were supposed to make the sixth visit to Forum, we oscillated between buying and not buying an Ipod, hmm...let me put a number to that, 13 times, thanks to me. I think KK convinced me 6 times, and I said No, all the 6 times (remember my weakness?) and finally the 7th time, he saw me sitting glum and before he could ask me what was wrong, I yelled out, "I want an Ipod da!!!" And he, he just sighed!
When we walked into the store the sixth time, we had seen the demo five times already in the white and black models and I was severely warning KK that I would hide my face, in case the folks there recognised who I was. I had shocking (of course useless) premonitions that they would pull us up by the collar and threaten us into buying a piece once and for all!
The sixth time, was a decisive one! Finally, finally, yes, we bought the dream thingy out!
Awww...so much for an Ipod, you think? Don't you? Yes, yes, I know. But, sometimes it's fun to put up crazy posts like these that are not hard on your brain cells! The serious stuff is always there!
For a round up, why not take a peek at the top ten songs in my latest playlist? It's a mad mix!
1) Maru Murai Aval Vizhi (Run)
- Short, quick rap with a beautiful instrumental ending of "Panikaatre"..
2) Enna Idhu (Nala Damayanti)
- Soft, soothing, haunting melody..
3) Oru Maalai (Gajini)
- A treat on an Ipod, Karthik rocks!
4) Thottu Thottu (Kaadhal)
- Can you give a superlative to brilliant? I love the lines, "Karu Vizhi rendum karuvarai thaano, meendum pirandhen"!
5) Vellai Pookal (Kannathil Muthamittal)
- My eyes grow misty everytime, and that's rare! ARR, I bow to thee!
6) Signore (Kannathil Muthamittal)
- Singalathu Melody! Very cute!
7) Kannathil Muthamittal (Kannathil Muthamittal)
- Jayachandran's voice is soul stirring!
8) It's the time to disco (Kal Ho Na Ho)
- I love that beat, and the laziness in the words, "Hey, we are dancing the night away!"
9) Dekho Naa (Swades)
- The strings, Alka, Udit, ARR, simplicity - extraordinary combo!
10) Suraj Hua Madham (K3G)
- The violins steal the show!
Friday, May 12, 2006
So suave, so dignified, so soothing, so elegant..
I close my eyes, open my arms wide,
I speak, I confess, you smile, you listen,
In the gripping power of your silence,
You absorb my fears and my happiness
And caress me with a tender breeze
Filling me with a beautiful tranquility..
What are you, but divine magic?
So enthralling, so mesmerizing, so striking, so magnificent..
O' dear Sea, You are true bliss!
[dedicated to Marine drive, where I have spent some of the best moments of my life..:)]
Monday, May 08, 2006
Ask her. Even today, she would definitely brand me her biggest trouble maker till my sister came into the picture. Not that I make things any better for her now, but atleast am a little grown up.
Ma, remember those days when we used to play those little, little games? Hide and seek, doctor-doctor and teacher-teacher? Well, I know all of it only through pictures you have shown me and the ones you created for me, through your flawless, innocent recollections.
Then, I grew a little bigger and I still recollect those pretty, pretty dresses you designed for me, in Singer Fashion maker. You couldn't have asked for a better model, could you? :)
I have troubled you enough, haven't I? Demanded so much patience from you. But then you did everything for me - you poured strength, inspiration and motivation into me when I needed them the most and you smiled in relief when I crossed the worst hurdles in my life.
Ah, how can I forget those fights over arranged marriages and horoscopes? I told you I would get home a man of my choice.:p. You panicked and pinched my cheek and twisted my ear and then in the night, whispered into my ears, "Trust me, dear, I'll bring you the best," and I smiled and hugged you. And you did find me one, didn't you? ([Oh yes, You did, you did!:)]
Tell you what, You are sweet, you are adorable, you are special, you are my dear friend, my lovely technophobic lady!
As you turn a golden fifty today, I wish you lots and lots of years of happiness, good health and cheer. Happy Birthday Ma, You are the best! :). I promise I will do you proud! :)
Your big dotter..
Saturday, May 06, 2006
For the strength in your grasp,
For the warmth in your touch,
For the care in your eyes,
For the bliss in your kiss,
For the kindness in your words,
For the affection in your actions,
For the selflessness in your thoughts,
For the completeness in your love,
What do I have, to give in return?
I love you, I love you, I love you beyond words, sweetheart.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
It’s surprising how the most of the time, what seems like a fresh and interesting beginning gradually sags down to distressing boredom. When I had stepped into Bombay a year ago, I was captivated by the sheer brilliance of bustling activity at Churchgate station. Then, it had seemed as though I was living life’s best. It isn’t often and infact, not for long, that life gleams with such optimism.
This is how it all began. Bright sunny mornings, chaotically colourful, scurrying, ‘me-my business’ people all over, and me, the solitary walker with earphones plugged on, from the moment I stepped out of my hostel through the 20 minute walk towards the station – we were all a part of this huge machinery that was Bombay, moving in and out, in sync, like nuts, bolts and axles of a system that moved tirelessly 24 X 7. But the bratty Time taught me a lesson – the lesson that there is something really catastrophic about a life that offers very little impedance. Monotony could sometimes make you so weak and could leave you defenseless against change, unless you have the courage to overcome it. Routine is an illusory trap!
My thinking process usually writes itself bold and clear on my face. I very much guess that I could have been an object of muse for co-passengers in the 9.30 local that I usually took to reach office. My mind races back to that particular Tuesday, last April. My disc-man was entertaining me as ever and it was Yanni’s Nostalgia filling the moment with a serenity not experienced for a while. And no big guesses, yeah, I was lost in thought. I could feel the coolers that I had pulled back over my head. New ones. Fast track, light brown, flimsy plastic – 5000 bucks. I was wondering how long its charm would last, for the previous purchase, a pair of high-heeled sandals pleased its owner for only two months. And then the owner settled down for a pair of bare flats, the next best approximation to bathroom slippers (well, these were ethnically designed ones.)
“What am I doing here?” I thought. Mom and Dad wanted me to do an engineering degree and a techy post grad. But I had fought and shouted my lungs out crying a big No. Thankfully, Shridhar Uncle, dad’s brother was big support. I did my graduation in business administration and since my heart lay in writing, went on to do a post graduation in journalism and jumped into the media world. The rest remains history.
I closed my eyes and scenes reeled inside my head when I felt that light tap on my thigh; the tap that was to steer my destiny on a different course. The train had stopped at Charni Road. I opened my eyes and there stood a young girl, wearing the costliest asset she could carry – a bright, wide smile.
“Hmm?” I murmured, still not off my inner world that was ringing with a thousand, unanswered questions.
“Didi, choodi logey?”
“Hmm..No..uh, No..,” I shook my head confused.
“Please didi, yeh pink colour aapke dress key saath bahut achaa dhikegaa, please..”
If not for anything else, I was so pleased by her smile and her brown eyes.
I nodded. “Teek hai, woh pink waala dhikaao”
She helped me try them on. I decided to buy them.
“Didi pandraah,” she replied breathlessly. Come on, she had after all made business for the day.
She surveyed me with her large eyes as I dug into my bag for my wallet.
“Oh oh..,” I said holding a 500 rupee note, “No change..” I shrugged.
Her face fell instantly. Hopes had crashed. May be she had dreamt of having 'dho roti aur dal' that night. I felt pangs of guilt within. Oh, how I had ruined and killed small dreams..
“Teek hai, I will buy it from you tomorrow,” I promised. She nodded and was off to woo other buyers in the ladies coach.
The night meant hectic work. A survey report was due for submission, end of week and I sat on my bed, pouring over a hundred printouts and trying to gather sense and of course, I was biting nails, munching chips, drinking pepsi (did I say that was my dinner or rather I had skipped dinner?) and on top of everything, feeling terribly, terribly bored. The RJ from some FM station chattered endlessly and at one point, I was tuning in and out of stations as a matter of addiction. Search, search, search, for something better. Well, what was I actually searching for? I seriously wished I could gulp down glasses of whisky and lie frothing like a careless drunk because, only because I could chase boredom away for a while. But, work beckoned. I was turning out the front page story for the weekend issue. I couldn’t slip. It’s a mistake that would cost me my reputation. What would people think of me?
The next morning in the train, she stood before me. I wonder how she remembered my face from among the sea of faces that she would have seen the previous day. Secretly, I felt proud but it was a sense of shame that overrode pride for I had completely forgotten a promise that I had made to a small girl. “Hi,” I said and smiled at her.
“Didi, woh pink choodiyan aaj loge?” she asked anxiously.
“Yes,” I nodded and she packed it up in a jiffy.
“Here,” I said, handing her the money, “Kya naam hai tumhara?”
“Muniya,” she said, “Munni..”
“Oh, sweet name,” I smiled, and she blushed.
My eyes followed her as she moved about the coach throwing glances at all ‘working women’. May be she thought, all of them were her sorts. Even she was working, after all, only that she was a girl. On her way back, she smiled at me again. She took me by surprise when she came and settled down in that empty seat next to mine.
“Didi, aapka naam kya hai?”
“Aap kahaan pe uthroge?”
I paused. “Why?” I asked.
“Bas, aise hee,” she said in a breeze.
“Elphinston,” I replied.
“I get down at Dadar”, she told me and explained complex equations of switching trains to do her business. I listened patiently as she rattled on to explain how she had hopped into this whole thing fairly recently.
Did she speak to somebody else on the same train or may be some other train, the way she had been speaking to me in the last few days? I was dumbly curious. Why did I seek that reassurance? Why did she have to tell me and move me by her stories? Did she want money? I was researching intentions. The next day she put me to shame.
She had passed around her box of bangles and quietly came over to me.
“Good Morning,” she said, briskly saluting, the way I had taught her. I smiled and signaled her to sit next to me. Munni was a finely dressed business girl. So what if she didn’t have money, she still looked neat, smart and bright.
“Tho, baath kya hai aaj?” I questioned. She smiled shyly and put down her head.
“Kya hai?” I repeated.
“Didi, woh..” she pointed at my disc-man, “mein sunoon?”
I burst out laughing.
Yeah, yeah, why not? I put on Kajraa re and had to literally pump all my energy in holding her from dancing. How could she be so innocent? I wondered, for she was most willing to throw a cherubic smile at the earliest and put anyone to ease. I envied her.
I had to nudge her back to reality, halfway through the song, for some customer needed attention. Before she left, I thrust a 50 rupee note in her hand. She moved away dismayed. “Nahin didi, nahin chaahiye..aap chaahiye to choodi le lo..” she said sternly and was off.
Munni’s life was the playhouse of a devil – the devil called poverty. Her parents had seven children including her. The first five were girls, the last two boys; Munni was the fifth one and the last child was barely a year old. Let me recall names that she had told me with such vivacious enthusiasm. Heera, Moti, Chandni, Piyu, Muniya, Sanju and Bolu. May be her parents decided to give them all at least rich names, if not anything else. Her father was a watchman somewhere and often returned home drunk. Her mother, well, she just existed, a child producing machine.
My report for the week was finally taking shape. The survey indicated that consumerism was on the rise in urban India. Plastic money was booming – everywhere, everyone wanted to swipe their cards; Why not, when every other business entity was ready to woo its customers with attractive gifts, offers and freebies (of course with a strict, “*conditions apply” tag attached). Four out of every five in the urban working class held a credit or debit card or both. Malls, multiplexes and eat outs remained most frequented places. An urban man and woman on an average would spend close to a thousand a weekend, in entertaining himself or herself. While men usually spent it at bars, eat outs, gadgets and movies, women let out their share into clothes, jewelry and accessories. Yes, you could count me in along with those women. Markets were booming, industries were thriving, and the Indian economy was registering an awesomely positive GDP growth. All was well. But why did slums still exist in Bombay and everywhere else in the country?
I was surprised why Munni never went to school. When I asked her that, she shrugged and replied, “Ladkiyaan school nahin jaathey..” I was stumped. Was that the idea instilled in her – that, girls in her family were never meant to go to school? None of her sisters knew to read a word, only Sanju saw something of a school. Harsh yet real inequality! And why did she start selling bangles? “To supplement the grossly low family income,” she reasoned. Once she almost whispered a business secret. That Saturdays and Sundays, women wanted to buy more bangles. “Holiday mood,” she classified. What a striking similarity between the world of malls and that of a small bangle seller!
Once the report was published, I got a breather. I had a vague idea about something I wanted to do, but wasn’t sure. The next day, I caught Munni, five minutes before I had to get down. “Munni, I want to come and see your home,” and she almost jumped, out of fear or excitement, I knew not. “Kyon?” she asked, bewildered. “Bas, aise hee,” I beamed. She was quick enough to reconcile. We decided we would meet up Friday afternoon at Dadar and move to her place.
I am sure I looked like the firangi memsaab, with my coolers, scribbling pad, handy cam and all that equipment that I was carrying. Munni seemed excited for my arrival and disturbed at what seemed like a threatening and definitely foreign demeanor. I felt like an alien in the territory of the poor. Curious, anxious eyes of men, women and children scanned me from top to bottom. I gestured to Munni to pick up those biscuit packets with me and give it to all the children. If I called that a mad rush, it would be an understatement.
A frail woman invited me into a hut that was bare land with an equally frail roofing on top. People peered into the hut as Munni’s mother made a vain attempt to shoo them away with her weak hands. Munni introduced her sisters and the story of Miraben, Munni’s mother and her narration went straight into the handy cam. I had some tea in a dirty looking glass.
I returned to my hostel and spent the weekend browsing through what I had scribbled and recorded. Miraben was married away when she was thirteen and had her first child when she was barely sixteen. She had seven children with two miscarriages in between and finally got herself operated. Her husband was nowhere to be seen. “Don’t talk about that man,” she screamed.
She was almost wailing in the recording. Her first daughter eloped with a man from another caste and was hence, cast away and disowned by the people of her clan. She hadn’t seen her daughter in three years, she complained. Munni threw an apologetic look at me. She was may be repenting why she ever got me there. I smiled in assurance at the sweetly understanding child, “am ok..”
My usual weekend Marine drive walks were now replaced by visits to Munni’s slum. The place looked unmanageable and petrifying during monsoons. There weren’t well built sanitary and drainage systems and whatever was there of it, looked awful. As if humans weren’t enough, dogs and other animals huddled together inside huts. I got to hear Sarada’s story of how her son died of malnutrition and so many other heart rending tales of Munni’s neighbours.
Immediately following that, somebody at office made a big hue and cry about missing his name in the byline list, for no big deal a contribution. What did people want? The downpours were getting heavier. The next day I didn’t see Munni in the train. What could be wrong? Another day and yet another, she wasn’t to be seen.
May be she was just another acquaintance but why was I bothering so much about her? Somehow I grew restless. That evening, I visited her so called house and her mother reported that Munni was down with jaundice. I had to wait for the weekend to arrive. I visited her at the Government hospital.
She had grown weak and sick. But the eyes and smile were still intact. “Don’t worry, you will be back in action soon,” I told her. It was as though I was feeding her morsels of hope that she was desperate to claim; Emotional food for the soul akin to dry crumbs that would tease the tongue like a heavenly delight. She was poorer by food, by money; poorer by solace, by choice.
“Everything would be okay,” I had told her and she believed me. What was I doing? Wasn’t I just making a passing remark when I consciously knew that my comforting words weren’t practically going to make any difference to her?
More often than not, I am led to believe that I am a fickle minded fool. Spending days together visiting those huge slums left me with a strange sense of bereavement. Could I ever decide for sure what I felt for the likes of such people? It is tough to classify the feeling. Was that pity, a silly feeling covering up an unwillingness to take up responsibility or rather indifference, an irrational and unpardonable selfishness to avoid being a part of gnawing misery? Could I by some personal means, pull off the entire dirt called poverty that rode on the souls of so many such people?
I wanted a way out before the thoughts inside my head grew stale and clogged my mind. A friend of mine once said that out of confusion, clarity is born. For days together I pondered for an answer and it wouldn’t arrive easily for the simple reason that I feared change. I was close to making a decision but that meant I had to forego the boring yet secure and cozy monotony of the life that I had settled into.
It meant I had to travel, see unseen and unheard of villages, realize without any inhibitions the implications of a living condition called poverty. And I knew I wouldn’t understand it unless I whole heartedly embraced the flaws and pitfalls that came with that way of life. It needed a transition from the wholesome to the hollow and it wasn’t easy.
I read and re-read my diary entries and viewed the unedited documentary on my handy cam, and I knew I was almost at it. I knew not how far it would reach, but I would definitely make the attempt.
I decided to write that book and film that documentary.
But, Where do I begin?
I looked up my address book. Shridhar Harihar, Executive Editor, ColorMagic Media.
I applied for a sabbatical at my workplace.
Friday, April 21, 2006
Oh, she was so proud, so proud to display her darlings! And when I said "Smile", she gave me all that she could! :)
Hot day! Come on, that doesn't stop me from practising little bit of football! :p
Boy, it's soo damn sunny and to top it all, such acute water shortage!!! You shall have half of it and me the rest, it's a deal, what say? ;)