Friday, December 5, 2014

If you care to choose..

God knows in how much dilemma i am right now.

On one side i can be this brilliant student and a scholar in an institute of repute.. and on the other i have to be a mother, and a daughter without having to compromise on the quality of the relationship. Managing a house is not a joke. Mom used to mention that, but now I know.

I cry.. at times silently at times boohooing at the top pf my voice so i can tell myself it's alright to be upset. But unless i pull on, ill be dead. So iv decided, im going try. Its really scary.. and i feel really lonely and horrified at the thought of having to manage everything. God knows, i can do with a big box of tissues as i type this. But i know i want to do this. And so badly!

While life does give everyone a chance, i dont want to give up without having put up a fight.. But im already so tired.. so scared.. so will i be able to do this? I do close my eyes and try to envisage that i can.. but its too faint to be a picture that i can keep to remind me again later. But it would be a shame if i do not.

Its better when there is only one thing to do.. and you have to do it.. theres no choice you see.. Its when you have a choice that you get so bloody confused!

If only i could see it.. If only there were a way ahead on the path that i choose! Fingers crossed.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Minute Blog


When does a friendship die?

Pretty much like life, friendship too dies a slow, painful death at times (assuming there is no major upheavals causing the same, which by the way can also be a reason for its downfall). It is painful for the people who have to go through it. Like a human strapped to bed with multiple tubes inserted into him/her, the heart and lungs on the job through machines, friendship too may give away to the hug of death. Its breathing which gradually wanes is at times almost audible. True, no one can ignore that, even by choice. And then, when death comes tip toeing, and gobbles up the last breath, stopping it midway, the last and the only is done. Nothing follows. People go on with their lives - in office, being health freaks.. jogging, running, moving to another city, getting married, having kids, quitting a painful job or maybe getting a new one, With close to a million things that can be done than keeping a friendship alive, it doesn't come as a surprise why some would choose to give the latter a convenient miss. It would have been so easy if we could tell exactly when a friendship dies. But we cant. I cant. Not even at the very moment its breath gets stalled midway. It's too hard to hear with all that annoying din that life makes.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Pangs II ~ The Invisible Child

I dint find her anywhere today. Searched all those places i expected to find her. :( Ultimately, brought back the fruits i had packed for the little one. I was really looking forward to sitting down with her and maybe ask her name. Next time, maybe. I'm surely not going to give up...

Friday, September 12, 2014

Pangs I ~ The Smile

Hi Baby!

What is your name? Yes.. i want to know your name...

Are you hungry? Hmm..?

What's your age? You don't know? Ahh.. No problem.. 

Are you hungry? Tell me! What.. are you shy?

Where do you live? Hmm... Do you have to sit here all day and do this? When do you eat then? What do you eat? Doesn't anyone give you anything to eat?

Where are your mummy-papa? Do you have a bhaiya or a didi? What about a nani or a nana or a dadi or a dada?

Do you get any money like this? What do you do with it? Do you give it away to someone else? Do they, then give you something to eat?

Are you sleepy? Where do you sleep when you are tired? Do you hug someone to sleep?

Don't you feel frightened at the sight of so many strangers? Don't you cry when they scold you or slap you or shoo you away? You are so brave! 

Do you have toys? Do you want some?

If there is one thing you would want me to give you, what would that be?

Here, take some bananas... You look hungry.

You know, back home, i have a daughter who is your age. You remind me of her...

Can i find you here at all times? Will you be here on the third day from today? I'll come with food for you and your siblings. Will you meet me here? Pakka? Okay! 

Bye bye!

I kissed her on her cheek and walked away. She stared at me, and so did the passengers at the ticket counter, trying to decide whether i was crazy or just making fun of her. I am neither. I will go back to that ticket station on Monday and give her food. Otherwise i would never be able to forgive myself for being selfish. Otherwise i would never be able to justify my being a human.




Monday, September 1, 2014

The Estimable Author

Pic Courtsey: canvassnap.blogspot.com


He ran his index finger over the spines of the myriad books which were kept on the rack and picked up one. He then flipped through its pages by habit, fingers avoiding a paper cut, coming to the back cover to read more about it. The stories were promising, fresh in content and perspective. It would not drain him out, he knew. This was it. The author, however was new to him. He opened the back cover to read the leaf that folded inwards. It carried a picture of the author. She was young, much about his age, splashing a toothy smile, looking through a window of a building which was perhaps her home, sitting with her knees towards her chest, her hands folded over them. In her yellow top she looked simple, yet someone who had stories to tell. The bespectacled lady sat amidst a range of little clay pots, each one with a sapling, a few with little button roses hanging out. He smiled. Her hair, slightly thin in front and subtly revealing her scalp, was tied into a bun, lacking a last possible trace of vanity. What stories did she want to tell? Maybe she had a dysfuctional family like many authors do, who ultimately seek solace through venting on blogs and finally writing a book, as is the trend nowadays. Perhaps she had some deep rooted medical troubles that she wanted to forget by giving into writing. Or is it nothing? Maybe she wrote because it made her feel happy. And that is how she looked in the picture.
He closed the book, looked around and walked towards the cash counter. Finally, he had bought himself a copy of her bestseller.

The Arrival

Pic Courtesey : www.theguardian.com

When Padmini set her foot out of her hut, she did not think twice lest she shed her confidence for what she was going to do. Her life had witnessed a fair share of torment. And it was now time for her to free herself from the woes, scars of which may remain forever, but whose memories she had already left sleeping amidst the rest of her so called family.

She hitched a ride on Grawahi Chacha's bullock cart to the bus station. He eyed her suspiciously. Girls of respectable families did not roam around alone so early in the morning, especially after an eighteen year old was brutally assaulted and left to die the previous year. But when she mentioned something about how the village priest had ordered her to visit the Rambai Temple that Tuesday alone and precisely at that hour to ward off the advances of evil forces on her family, the cart did not stop till they reached midtown, at the doorsteps of the temple. Grawahi Chacha did wait for about ten minutes outside the temple, gnawing carefully on a strand of hay, and making sure the girl was indeed telling the truth. Padmini tiptoed into the temple. It had just a handful of devotees who had come to attend the aarti at the break of the dawn, maybe at the behest of yet another priest who would have probably earned his family's dinner over a discussion on the current affairs in the land of evil spirits. When Padmini had disappeared into the premises, he slapped the whip on the bullock and started towards his destination, making a mental note to meet Padmini's step father and uncle once he returned. By that time they would have picked her up from the temple and taken her back home anyway, he reminded himself.

Padmini waited for almost an hour, then crossed the road and took the first bus to the outskirts. From there walked a couple of furlongs before she got a ride in a share-auto to the station. She rushed into the platform, Samaira would be there, she knew.

As she climbed on the foot over bridge, she thought of her beautiful friend who she met about two years ago when she had travelled to Ujjain, to attend the naamkaran of her Mamaji's first son, who was born after twelve years of his marriage to Meena Mami. They had three daughters before that. Samaira had an infectious air of energy within her. She lived with her family on the first floor of the chawl and Mamaji on the third. As per her, she was the apple of her Abba's eye as a toddler. Only, her Abba had left their home and progressed to marry a rich Begum from Allahabad and now resided with her. So much for that jinn of a lady, he had never come back to meet them thereafter, she had complained.

Padmini had bumped into Samaira on the eve of Chaturthi, when she was rushing down to fill a bucketful of water to wash the puja flowers. For an instant, Padmini had thought she had encountered the much abhorred panauti kati herself, a legendary poltergeist which was kept at bay using bay leaves and jasmine flowers back in her village. But when the fall was followed by a shower of apologies in pure hindi, sans the bitter accent of her village people, she was enamoured by this beautiful person clad in black burqa. Day by day, their friendship grew despite cold stares and momentary dissent from her Mamaji and his folks. When Padmini left Ujjain, she had made a friend for life, and a week full of memories she would cherish for years to come.

It was in that winter that she got her first letter from Samaira. In neat hindi script, Samaira told Padmini how she had been beaten black and blue when she refused nikah to a Pathan in Pataudi. Her pierced nose ring was torn out along with her skin so much so that the nostril had to be held with a meter long cotton chunni so it would stop bleeding. She had had enough, she had mentioned. Her laments in life were as long as her sentences, adorn with deft commas. If only, it could end like those sentences. Padmini cried for her friend, not able to withstand the imagination of the pain she would have underwent. And it was that very night, as fate would have it, that she was dragged half a kilometer in a jeep and taken into the woods to be abused badly and left to die with a severed hand. If only she had died.

When she had regained consciousness, she did not open her eyes fearing that her tormentors would still be around. But the thorny grass that she last remembered being thrown into was no more there. There was a sting of antiseptic in the air and a sound of intermittent beeps which came from something behind her. Before she realised how sore she was everywhere, she went back to sleep yet again.

By the time, Padmini was in the right senses and physically able to reply to Samaira's letter, three months had passed. Padmini poured her heart into words and in whatever possible way she could write, recited the past few horrifying months she had lived to witness. This time it was Samaira's turn to cry. She beat her chest and wept for her friend... in the kitchen, in the bathroom, back in the garden... every place where she would not be asked for a reason why she had a life of her own.

Mid spring, Samaira wrote back from Pataudi. Apparently, there was a baby in her tummy the previous week which was no more there. She had bled badly that morning and hence received a volley of abuses from her in laws for having eaten the paan from an open box. It was nothing less than suicide for pregnant women, they had contended. She had been reprimanded and kept inside the house till she bore again. It was only the maids in the house who showed any sign of sympathy to the bereaving ex-future mother., who was only too shocked to realise the gravity of the matter.

When Padmini was carefully storing her friends letter in her trunk, her mother's husband, drunk and delirious came on to her. When she mentioned this to her mother, she slapped her and told her it was time she took her to the village ojha. Bah, evil spirits!

Then almost an year went by. Padmini mostly worked throughout the day and slept throughout the night, sometimes lying awake and overhearing the conversations between her mother and her husband... his travails to the town and journeys to Kolkata to sell wares.

At the crack of a dawn one morning during the spring, she sat upright and wrote to Samaira. "Im coming to Ujjain. Will you too come?" she wrote in broken hindi. "On the tenth of next month." She thought about it again, and wrote, "I want to live. I want to be free. Will you too come? I will wait at the railway station till  afternoon and head towards my destination thereafter. My friend, will you too come?"

A train hooted and brought back Padmini from her daydream. Reminiscing the past two years, she clenched her elbows tightly and made way to platoform no.6. Her eyes rummaged the crowd. She would not miss spotting a burqa for sure, she told herself. She walked towards the platform her head turning everywhere, her eyes scanning both sides of the station. She had not come. Had she missed receiving any letter from Samaira explaining why she would not come? Her heart thudded aloud, her ears ringing due to the loud clamor of metal wheels on the tracks. She had not come. Was she being held hostage? How far would Pataudi be from Ujjain? Maybe she was pregnant. Yes, that would explain. She had not come. Hope they kept her alive. Hope she was well. Hope she received her letter. Hope no one else did.

The dark brown dupatta was flowing in the air. The lady was clearly restless, uncomfortable, due to what she was wearing, or what she was not, no one would know. But when she lay her eyes on the platform across her, she knew that Allah himself had showed her this way. She rushed across the bridge, her eyes not leaving the woman. She trotted fast, half excited, half heart broken, at the sight of how frail her companion had become. After about half a dozen miscarriages, she herself looked no less than a jinn herself. She took her hand above her head to adjust her burqa, only to realise she wasn't wearing one. This journey dint require one. Nor did the journey henceforth.

When she arrived at the platform, she deliberately slowed her gait and waited for the climax. The frail woman looked so lost in searching for someone that she had not realised she was right there. She stifled a giggle and put her hand on her chest. That moment, the woman's eyes stopped at her. They breathed for a while, imbibing the moment... looking at each other, not saying a word, one with a huge grin and her hand on her heart and the other holding a bag on her left shoulder, her blue tie-and-dye dupatta revealing a stump instead of a right hand.

As they walked towards each other, they knew they were actually walking towards a new beginning. A train hooted and screeched to halt at the platform. Life had arrived.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The book shop

pic courtesy: http://vi.sualize.us

A lot was going on in the bookshop.
That moment.
When their eyes met.
Some toddler toddled over comic books, some customer cussed over flimsy looks.
In some time came a benign smile, call it a lifetime, call it a while. 
In a silly move, he waved at her, and quickly regretted his demeanor.

A woman ran her finger over the lines, as another held two books by their spines.
In a flash he was a nostalgic mess of those wonderful times of togetherness.
Hadn't he grown over that hurtful phase? Those depressing nights and doleful days?

A rude old woman made the owner bark, silence met a worthy counterpart.
She faked a blink and another two, to make for time to say hello.
Wallowed in a vacuum of words and yet, enjoyed this silent tete-a-tete.

A five hundred pounder plunked on the couch, while the poor furniture stymied an ouch!
And just when they were exchanging smiles, she eagerly tried to read his eyes. 
A lot had changed from those times, from hearty talks to subtle signs.

The cat meowed and tried to pounce, only to miss the bookish mouse.
So this is it, she thought and sighed, there's no running away and nowhere to hide.
Then slowly touching her pouting belly, she sent a message specifically.

The beeper howled in dire protest, when a shop lifter din't try his best.
His nod told her he understands the weight of the current circumstance.
They were now beyond realms of heart, within arm's reach, yet world apart.

The corny owner strained to find some contentment and peace of mind.
"The one who stole from me is dead!", he flung a thesaurus on the crook's head.
He whacked the lights out of the pawing cat, and marched to where the fatso sat.
He growled and ask the man to leave and the sofa heaved a sigh of relief.

The hag meanwhile had zipped her lips to save her dentures and a dented hip.
The others who toyed with his precious books were now reminiscing the vows they took.
While a lot happened, just two of them stood, and weren't bothered as they have should.
Wonder, whether they would ever forget, that moment, when their eyes met.

Poorna-Chandra I (Work in Progress)

Chandra held her father's hands between hers and waited. She was somewhere in the middle of having overlooked and realizing that maybe he had not held his breath to recall something in the middle of a sentence. That was all he had to say. She closed her eyes and pictured him sitting on his charpoy in the little canopy outside their house in Vellore. His face was serene, eyes sealed, taking a moment to pay respect to the Goddess of music as the class started. She smiled and then froze. She opened her eyes and tightened her grip on his hand. Dont. Dont go. Not now. Not when i need you the most....

                  **********************************************************

She kept the steaming cup of kaapi for Murali on the table. He stood near the parapet smoking, gaping at the sky. She waited near the table for his eyes to come find her. And before she could justify this to her conscience, she felt repulsed for having hoped so. She quickly turned and walked away. There was no one in this world who could placate her her torn soul. After years of having been tortured by life, this was almost absolutely normal. The sorrow of Appa's death was deeper than all of that. He was the only one who knew the real her - of what she was capable of doing and what she was not. As for Murali, she would have to wait a little bit more before she unleashed the truth on to him.

She was in the middle of her bath when she heard her voice. "Has she left?", she was perhaps asking the maid. "She is taking a bath." said the other voice. Chandra wiped her body, taking time to watch the towel move on the scars on her hands and back. She clothed herself and wrapped the towel on her wet hair. She went to the kitchen and with trembling hands searched for a knife. Slowly, she walked out on the corridor towards her room. She was waiting there. Chandra kept her cool, though her heart was beating wildly. 

"Why haven't you left yet?", the woman asked. "Haven't you had enough of disrupting the peace of this house? I know you would do everything possible to embarrass me apart from just being alive, which is even more unbearable."

Chandra stood there, listening.

"And your face... your ugly face.. repulses me. If only i could tear it apart and prevent myself from looking at a perverted version of myself."

Oh she agrees Im a version of her, Chandra wondered, amused.

"You... are you smiling? Ha! I knew you always wanted Appa dead. You criminal! You killed him you know that? You killed him!", she shouted, barging forward in anger.

Chandra took out the knife from under the folds of her sari and shoved it in the air. The woman froze, her eyes ready to pop out of her face.

"Don't test my patience. If i can do it once, i can do it again...." Chandra slowly said, her eyes not leaving the woman's face.

Then the widened eyes narrowed. The corners of the woman's lips curved into a wicked smile. "You know what? I know you never did it. I always knew. But you had to go, so i lied. You freak."

"You are mistaken, Poornima. I did it. I killed Aaralan Tambi. And i let you believe you lied. All these years, i let you believe you won. But know this today.. you hadn't. And you never will, my dear sister." said Chandra.

Hearing her name erupt from Chandra's mouth was a little unnerving for her - Poornima.... besides the fact that she was looking at a drawn out knife and staring at a fact that what she believed she had set up was not a set up after all. She stormed out of the room, both extremely irate and frightened what more she may have to witness if she stayed put.

Chandra continued to stare blankly where Poornima had stood a fraction of a second ago... a whiff of her sister's perfume made way into her nostrils as she swept past her, bewildered.

"We could have ended up so fine, Poornima...", Chandra said to herself, clenching the knife to her bosom, ".. if only could you unlove yourself a bit and unhate me a bit."

                ***************************************************************

Chandra and Poornima were born in the month of February of a certain leap year. At least one could say they both had... except that Chandra came into this world a few seconds after Poornima... a few seconds into the very next last of the month - the 29th. From what Chandra had heard her Paatti say, it was as if the devil had entered the room, for her mother, Savitriamma, who was just fine till then suddenly developed convulsions and lost her consciousness. She never recovered from that state thereafter. She hadn't died but wasn't alive either. She would just lie on the bed staring at the ceiling, her lifeless torso and limbs seemingly just a part of a soul which had decided to stay 'undead'. Due to obvious lack of medical explainations for this occurence, the practitioners planted the idea of ill-fate and bad luck and conveniently made the younger of the twins the bearer of this burden for the rest of her life.
Chandra never understood how she, who had no apparent role in even her birth, could be held responsible for her mother's condition. There were times during her childhood when she would sit beside her mother's motionless body and search for answers in her eyes. And when tears would roll out of her mother's eyes, she would realise she was not the only one trapped in the pangs of destiny. The innocent woman who gave birth to her was also in hopeless pain, and agony she never could share. But she knew Chandra's pain and Chandra knew hers. Without having heard her, Chandra would know her mother loved her. And that she dint hold her responsible for her state. Little Chandra would then hug the cold torso of her mother and cry for hours.


To be continued...

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Untamed Quest

Pic courtesy: www.cordair.com

In my quest to do something utterly intellectual I end up with things that are so mundane and archaic that my head splits with pain. There are some evident drops of guilt and disgust. Wish there were something.. even a vision of things that may be remotely close to what I secretly admire and dream of.. Weird is the fact that no one knows about it.... weirder still, they remain a secret to me too. Yet, at times of surreal moments of truth, I realize I have such a long way to go that it seems as if this journey is perennial. When I look up at other beings (my vanity, I must admit) I realize that it is an inexorable attribute of nature to pin us down as seemingly lesser mortals. Alas, if only I could point at nature alone for having conspired against me... for there is an existence beyond it that knows and acknowledges this and also plots against my vain existence.. waiting to entrap my mind which limps helplessly beyond what they call normal.. into profanity... as if dancing to the tunes of the one that stands in the shadows. Is it me, or does the silhouette actually look fiercely familiar to someone I know... or maybe used to? I don't think I want to know. Let me be here. In this dark room. When the time comes, and I have enough in my arsenal, I shall leap out. Oh what? You say it may be an ambush? Wait till you see how I ambush thee. Soon, I shall be out. Till then, let me be.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Etched - III (Contd.)

"....b√£chao!...."
"....agun legechhe!..."
"... bhoy peyo na, bhoy peyo na..."
"...thamun!..."
"Golu da!!....."
"..baba.. darun lagchhe, baba.. baba, mili kothay, baba?... baba?"

He sat up on his bed, pushing away his blanket, breathing hard. Trying to make way for air, he scrambled out and struggled to switch on the light. He blinked and stared blankly at the clock.. it was almost 3 a.m. Catching his breath, he ambled to his desk, slumped into the chair and put his head down ignoring his sodden T-shirt and shaky hands and the ominous residue of a nightmare which never seemed to leave him despite all these years.

When he got up in the morning, Shondeep was already late for the ritualistic jog. After a quick bath, he rushed to the kitchen where Ratnamma was busy preparing breakfast and readying 'tiffin' which he would later carry to work. 
"Shuprobhat, Shondeep babu!", she faked, in Bangla. Ratnamma was originally from Tanjavore, married to Bakul Da who was Baba's man Friday, the all in all when it came to errands and chores at his home. Nobody considered or treated them as servants, though. 
"Good morning, amma", greeted Shondeep. He served himself spoonfuls of chirer pulao, and walked into the living room where Choto Kaku sat reading the newspaper.
"Golu! how come you are late? Hurry  up, come on!", cried Kaku.
"Yeah, dont worry, ill get out in time.. Where's Baba?" Shondeep asked him. Kaku shifted his weight to his left and sniffed. "He's in his room. He said he wanted to talk to you about something." Kaku emphasised, in English. 
Shondeep knew it had to be something serious. Kaku spoke in English only when things were beyond mundane.. things he felt he couldn't explain in Bangla without getting sentimental about it.
"I'll talk to Baba on the way.", he replied, gulping some water to wash down unchewed chirer pulao
"Baba! Come fast! We're getting late!"
*******************************************************************************************************
Etched - I
Etched - II

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Enemies of Promise

She caught herself gawking at a beautiful girl who just walked in, as she waited for her turn with the doc. The broad black spectacles that framed her eyes looked large for her face, not to mention maybe a tad too bit heavy for the little nose which was almost pink... due to the AC or the weight, only the Goddess of the tropical rainforests of India will know. Not that the incumbent was not straight, but truth is usually strange isnt it? So is a woman's mind. So she continued to gawk, awestruck at the beauty - was it what she dint have what struck her hard? or was it what she thought she could never have that blew her off? So, coming back to the scene, the description of which would only look more and more sinister and increasingly vulgar if left open and unexplained to the minds of those who may possibly think in ways more than one, this lass, like the many others who are usually gawked at by men and women both, scratched her forehead with her manicured finger and blinked, chagrined by the doctor who had the audacity to leave her waiting for him. Oh no, there were no vibes of self importance, nor that of vanity... It was just the protagonists misinterpretation. Maybe she was too tired to wait. Anyway, without digressing, what caught the attention of the incumbent who was trying too hard not to stare, was that how and why this little miss perfect, with her highlighted hair and petite rear, looked so simple and yet so beautiful without having to try too hard. In that, albeit the 'modest' pair of jeans and the simple black tee may have been some brand from the other side of the word, it did look so deceivingly simple. Yuck, she told herself.. shame on you... is this what is left of your self esteem? And then went on with the visual odyssey....

The pink toenails were exquisitely painted in some magically transparent color and the little feet rested on these (Oh not again!) simple pair of flats that had some yellow stones lined up everywhere reminding her of those set of teeth that chewed a gum and glistened in the dark (remember that ad?). Did someone mention teeth? Not that the pearly white smile on this face intimidated her (like she would admit it!), but yeah she did give it some credit for the same. What was that again? Oh yeah, self esteem. Sad, that there are some existences that make one feel on the wrong side of the age, the wrong side of the scale and the wrong side of the world. Like there has been some huge mistake in the assembly line of creations. Like some useful function went horribly wrong and made the rest of the batch look like cretins. She recalled a friend who once told her they would all be fat hairless chickens one day. So this is what they call the Judgement Day. Somebody call Mr Speilberg. Oh shucks but goods once sold cant be returned here. Or can they? Maybe Rakhi Sawant would know better... And, in that peaceful drone of hospital machines, she closed her eyes and shut off the world for a second. "You seem to be thinking about something." her companion asked. "Yeah, she said... Something about 'enemies of promise'.", she chuckled to herself, wore the headset, and switched on the FM.