Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A goodbye I never wanted; a goodbye I never got..

A goodbye I never wanted; a goodbye I never got..

“Hey, you left without saying goodbye,” she would complain as soon as I would return from school. She would make this fake angry face and I would run behind her, without getting changed. “Please na, sorry na,” I would coax her. She would suppress her giggles, eventually bursting into a smile. It would be priceless.

Did I tell you that she’d make the best aaloo fry in the whole damn world? Did I tell you that she was best fashion designer I’ve met? I’m sure all my barbies are nodding their heads inside the showcase! I didn't need siblings because I had her -- we’d fight, act snooty, ignore each other and then patch up, after which, she’d treat me to all the goodies that she would whip up in the kitchen.

She was my ‘secret’ locker. She knew names of everyone I liked, I hated, I fought with and all of that. I’d come back from school with a bagful of stories, and she’d listen to me with utmost attention. Just to ensure that she’d listened to me properly, I would finish off the verbal diary session with a quiz - and dammit, she would pass with flying colours, all the time. Ludo, snakes and ladders, monopoly and carrom would be dished out of the cupboards as soon as schools would shut for vacations.

But she’d also complain about me to ammai, just like annoying siblings do. “Oh, she didn’t study the whole day,” she would announce unceremoniously as soon as ammai would arrive from office. But as soon as ammai would get angry with me, she would pounce on her, promising that she’d ensure it doesn’t happen again. She’d make me sit on my study table, promising me a hot cup of tea and all her magic from the kitchen. Did I tell you that nobody would be able to plan surprises in her presence?

She’d tease me, annoy me, love me, yell at me. She’d cook for me, play with me, take care of me. She’d sing and crack the silliest of jokes. She’d solve puzzles in a jiffy. She once asked me this puzzle: “A man was called for an interview that would be from two to two to two two. What was time window?” She was a human spray, and we all would laugh at her when she’d spray at us and she would cover her mouth with her hands to prevent any more liquid damage! She was the most animated lady I’d seen!

When I'd be irritated with my tailor for messing up with my dresses, she’d say, “This is the latest ‘passion’”. Please note that the response would be the same for any sort of goof-up -- tight, loose, wrong design, wrong fabric! Oh and she’d give me pocket money, too, on special occasions and otherwise.

In the midst of all this madness, I grew up. But, so did she. She grew old, and older; frail, and frailer. But her charm remained the same. Our equation, that didn’t change.

One day, the tables turned around. She left without saying goodbye. I was angry. I told myself that as soon as she’d come back, I’d say, “Hey, you left with without saying goodbye,” make a fake angry face and wait for her to make me giggle. And wait I did, but she didn’t return. I had an angry face all through, but I closed my eyes and saw her face and I couldn’t be angry anymore.

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Second Innings

They looked at the scorecard and it didn’t look very encouraging. With two wickets left, the they were not even close enough. The last two wickets tumbled and the men trudged towards the pavilion with their heads hanging low. The opposition came in to bat again and posted a close to impossible total on the scoreboard. It was almost over.

“It’s a one-sided affair, boring,” quipped one of the commentators, loud and clear. “They’re staring at a certain loss,” chipped in another. “This pitch tends to behave like a tough nut on the last day of the Test. The numbers are stacked up against them,” said the third commentator, quite convinced that the only possible result was a loss, not even a draw. “Don’t forget that the side they are facing, they’re champions,” reminded another.

Inside the dressing room, the air was pregnant with a grim acceptance. There was no way the match could be steered in their favour. They’d given up. Accusations were flying, tempers were flaring. The skipper stepped out, trying to clear his head and sort the mess. But, the boys’ morale had hibernated.

The day had come. The openers were dreading stepping out into the crease. The captain tried to pep them up, but no, nothing worked. And just like their fallen energies, the wickets kept falling. Some of the batsmen had begun to blossom, but the opposition had outsmarted them. It all came down to the last wicket. The captain was there in the middle, doing everything he could to crawl to a win.

“Howwwwwwwzat?” yelled the bowler, followed by the chorus of slip cordon. The umpire took a pause, perhaps, the longest wait for the captain and his boys. His heart was ramming against his chest, he so desperately wanted the umpire to say “Not Out”.

He closed his eyes, praying to the big gun up there, for the finger to rise. Not Out, it was, as the umpire’s verdict came. He’d gotten a second chance and he made the most of it. He smacked them all around the park, his partner assisting him sneaking in the quick singles. And then, the skipper took them home with a glorious sixer. A captain’s knock. They’d beaten all odds, all predictions, all the mess, all the hurdles and come out, victorious.

The second chance. The second innings. They made it count and how!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The first love

There she was, looking for the outfit that would make her look drop dead gorgeous; afterall, it was her big day. Casting her eyes on every piece that could have fit the bill, she was looking for that ONE piece that would win her heart. But then, nothing did.

She walked on, her legs beginning to protest. But nothing seemed to be good enough. On the verge of giving up, she spotted the one dress that she’d been looking for. Her peach-coloured beauty. Dazzling with intricate works of sequin, she knew this had to be it.

With a gleam in her eyes and a spring in her step, she swayed forward to buy the dress of her dreams. She caressed the material with her hands, imagining herself clad in it, dreamy eyes showing how much she loved this one.

But then, not just was it much more expensive than she would have liked, it was also a couple of sizes smaller and the last piece in the shop. With a heavy heart, she had to bid adieu to the dress she had fallen in love with. She waited for months for the dress to hit the market, but it didn’t.

Compelled by the others, she had to move on. So, once again, there she was, in the market, to hunt for the dress that would make her look gorgeous. This time, she found a good dress -- a beautiful misty blue dress -- something that fit the budget and her frame. She looked no further, she was tired.

On her big day, the world and its wife stopped in awe, she did look drop dead gorgeous, but she didn’t look at herself in the mirror even once -- inside head, she still craved for the peach- coloured beauty. Sadly, even though the blue dress made her look beautiful, the peach dress would always remain her first love..

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Oh Ma!

Language. It gives us many words. Words, we use to pour our souls out. Words that become windows to our thoughts. Words that name, words that specify, words that describe. But when the test of emotions is tough, words fail.

Intense fear. Ecstasy. Excruciating pain. A surprise. Shivers down the spine. A winch. Tired to the marrow. A much needed relief. Wonder. Beauty. Joy. Sarcasm. Disgust. Hunger. Thirst. Sleep. Sneeze. Cough.

Meeting someone you missed after a really long time. Tasting something you were craving for. Living. Laughing till the ribs hurt. Crying. Hurting. Winning. Losing. Trying.

Is there one word that sums up all these emotions?


Perhaps there’s a person you remember.

Oh Ma!

Monday, August 17, 2015

An open letter to my parents

Dear Ammai and Appa,

Remember those times when I was little, hopping between you, my hands, secure, one each in your hands, tightly held, protecting me from stumbling? I remember. I want to hold your hands too, to protect you.

Remember those times, appa, when Saturdays would mean half days, and you would get back home with an assortment of ‘bakery’ biscuit goodies tucked in three-four brown bags? Today, when I spot ‘sugar-free’ cookies in the supermarket aisles, I pick them up for you, waiting for a Saturday to relive our cookie times.

Ammai, remember how you know everything that’s there in my wardrobe, every shade of colour that I own, buying matching accessories, collecting them inside a pretty little basket and surprise me occasionally for being a good girl? I have a little basket too, ammai, which is filled for the times when we meet once in a year. A basketful of shiny goodies, for being the best ammai. And I know, a thousand such baskets wouldn’t be enough.

Do you remember those Durga Puja preparations, appa? When you got your bonus? You transferred all the money to my account for me to buy that fancy Blackberry, when you had that polyphonic little matchbox as a phone? I remember. I’m saving money too, appa, for the day when I will be able to do the same for you.

Appa, remember the day you sobbed when you couldn’t get me the toffee, a ritual you never missed for a single day? Remember how you couldn’t get it when you didn’t have enough? I remember. I feel the same way when a shirt I pick for you falls out of my range. My heart sinks.

Ammai, appa, remember how you always wanted me to get promoted from Class 1, to Class 2, from school to college, from studies to work, from an intern to a trainee? I want you to get promoted too. From running behind a bus, to taking that auto, from that to enjoying a chauffeur-driven car -- I want to feel that bliss of seeing my parents live a life of luxury.

I’m working hard, not as much as you did for me, but hard enough, for me to be able to make that dream come true. I’m working hard for you ammai-appa, because, now, it’s my turn.

I want to buy the world for you. Oh, if only I could gift-wrap everything that’s there, everything that there could be. But, I prefer being a good person, something that you raised me up to be, something that you wanted me to be. And surprise you with everything that money can buy. And things that it can’t.

With much love,

Your only daughter.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A ‘Dosa’ of gyan

She wiped her brow, looking at the crumpled mess of half-cooked dosa batter, sitting adamantly on the tawa. The greasy spatula in her hands had murdered the could-have-been-golden-brown-crispy dosa. Ten minutes of labour promptly dumped into the dustbin.

She started over again. She dipped her ladle into the thick, white batter, tapped a bit to get rid of the excess and poured it on to the tawa that hissed at the breach. Slowly, just like an artist giving final touches to his masterpiece, she moved her hands in a circle, creating a perfect white disk. But then, that was just the beginning.

Just when the underneath of the dosa began turning golden brown, she slid her spatula strategically, patiently through the edges, retaining the shape, careful not to tear the delicate delicacy. Once the disc was fully peeled off, she flipped it with grace.

It isn’t just a dosa that needs to be crafted with care. Relationships can be a mess too, you know. Understanding the heat of the situation, being careful while initiating discussions, being gentle when issues are sensitive and turning things around -- all of these orchestrated together will give you the pleasure of enjoying a perfect dosa and a perfect relationship, too!

Monday, May 11, 2015

A cakewalk?

She was upset. They'd read her completely wrong. The walls seemed to be closing in. Finally, she couldn't take it any more. She pressed the button with her index finger and the monitor went to sleep.

She stepped out of the glass building, soaking in the breeze that seemed to soothe her broken soul.

The park looked inviting. A slow walk, she thought, would heal her.

So, she took the path curved out for walkers. She gazed at the full moon that illuminated the dark blue sky in a dull, intriguing way. She trudged on, feeling the ground beneath in a leisurely way.

A man in grey swung past her, turning behind, a question stamped all over his face. Soon, a lady clad in a yellow gunjee with her earphones secured in, jogged past, halted, plucked her earphones out, burning her with her gaze, her eyebrows coming close together in irritation.

Soon enough, there were people walking, pushing along, some through her left, some past her right, stopping, gazing. She felt her pace increase, she began walking as fast as she could, comfortably overtaking petite in yellow and uncle in grey, turning back and giving them a cold stare.

She stopped suddenly, wondering what she was doing.

All she needed, wanted was a leisurely stroll. But then, she wasn't even allowed to do that.

No place, where she could be, just herself.

She walked back into the glass case, tapping away like nothing happened.