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.

Monday, May 4, 2015

All the glitters...

"On your mark, get set, go!"

The shrill whistle and the loud instructions meant that it was time for them to race towards the finishing line, blurred because of the distance threatening to consume them. She sprang up to life, dashing for the ultimate line that got to decide who walked away with the cake and who trailed back, head hung in shame.

She gave it her all, people from across the ropes staring at her in awe and wonderment. "She got nice shoes," shouted someone and suddenly, all the attention was now on the pretty little thing she was wearing. Grey and black with streaks of mad fluorescent, her pair of shoes were looking posh.

Suddenly, she began to lose momentum. Her legs refused to cooperate. "Oh, come on," she cussed under her breath, but her legs just couldn't seem to fathom how important that thin line at the other end was. She dragged them, through the pain, others egging her on.

She crossed the finishing line, after two of her competitors were waiting for her. "Such a shame," she could hear someone saying, clucking their tongue, "she had nice shoes to help her, you know."

She walked away, her head hung in shame, sitting down and examining her soles: they were bruised and torn, all the fragments of stone piercing through them, finding their way to nibble into her soft flesh. Her shoes looked pretty to everyone, but what they failed to see were the torn soles.

It's easy to want to be into someone's pretty shoes, but stepping into them could be a rather difficult affair. Looks are deceptive.

Monday, April 13, 2015

An early morning struggle

I hurriedly crossed the roads, taking one step forward and stepping two steps back, all in the flash of a second after my husband dropped me on the main road. I ran, curling my nimble toes inside my pink shoes whenever a vehicle came threateningly close. My lips curved into an elongated 'O', my palms patting and subsiding the yawn that spread to the eyes, my early morning sleep oozing out of my eyes in the form of saline water.

As I made my way to my office to teach an early morning batch, I recalled my bed, the comfort of snuggling into my warm blanket, deciphering the struggle of an early morning start. As several of these thoughts flashed across my mind, I saw a lady, clad in an orange saree, clutching her pallu and dashing past me. Confused for a while, I figured that the bus was what the woman was after. She ran for a good distance, relentlessly, refusing to slow down, her goal looking well withing sight. As the woman screeched closer to her target, it whirred away, faster than she'd anticipated, leaving her in the cloud of grey smoke that marked an indication of its departure. She stopped, unable to breathe, the tears threatening to invade her cheeks.

Perhaps that's what an early morning struggle actually is. A husband ready to drop me, without a crease on his brow, teaching students in an ac classroom -- all these count for comfort.

As I entered my classroom, with seven pairs of eyes eager to learn, I chided myself and made a promise -- to look at the world with my pink shades on, always.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A fall, a lesson

She was tapping away on her computer, the intense honking on the roads indicating it was the home-going rush. She tapped away a little more, waiting for him, thinking of all that had happened, a blunt pain pricking her insides.

The soft voice of the lady crooning away into her ears made her eyes warm, the tears, threatening to break the dams they were being held captive within. She was tapping away, without blinking, without reading, her eyes playing scenes on the blank wall; scenes that disturbed her sanity. A sigh escaped her parted lips.

Then she heard it, the unmistakable thud of pain, a couple of scared shrieks. He was downstairs and he would have been heading up to her. Was it him? Had the wicked stairs snatched the ground beneath his feet? What would it be? Would he be clutching his head in pain? Would there be blood? "Let him be ok, let him be ok," she prayed, desperately.

All of these clouds gathered in her mind in a split second as she raced towards the place where doom beckoned, her heart ramming violently, her lips dry. She saw a petite girl, clutching a broom in her hand, shivering and looking helpless. Two helping hands and a bottle of water, a considerate rub of her back and she was a little better.

As she walked back into her cabin, looking at her shoes lying in two different parts of the room, she realised, sometimes it takes a sudden jolt to tell us what someone means, to tell us how much we are ready to forgive and forget, how much much we are willing to let go, to ensure that the ones we love are happy and healthy.

Ego battles are best fought with strangers, for when we fight with the ones we love, we are just fighting with ourselves.

The petite girl, meanwhile, went about, brooming the office floors.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Guns and Roses

“Let’s do some duck-faced selfies,” she requested. “It’s trending,” she added, making the best of her know-it-all faces. He continued watching TV like it was nobody’s business. She walked away. I knew I had to intervene. “Hey, it’s okie,” I cooed, playing a harp inside my head. “I want to show my friends that I’m in love, but he doesn’t understand…” her voice trailed off.

What is being in love? Is it falling for someone, acting all school-girly? Is it all hearts and roses? When we say it’s love at first sight, aren’t we just falling for looks and mannerisms? What if the person outside is nothing like the person inside? Do we fall out of love then? Maybe yes.

More often than not, we bump into the realisation that the person we fell for is hardly the person we are with. It’s nobody’s fault, really. Situations change, people change, therefore, we change too. It’s not on purpose. The initial few months (or days), best described as the honeymoon period, is all about showing each other the best shades. It’s only with comfort that this external please-all mask erodes and the real person within emerges. Do we fall out of love then? Maybe yes.

Love isn’t easy. It requires stability, understanding, compromise, acceptance of mistakes and willpower. With time, tipping points are reached, tempers flare, accusations fly and there are tears. Do we fall out of love then? Maybe yes.

But sometimes, these things don’t matter. When we ask ourself what is more important: the issue or the person and if we chose the latter, we’re in love. If we can close our eyes and erase all the shades of grey that come as a package, and still say, “I love you”, then, we are in love. If we can see off the rough patches, while still holding hands, emerge stronger to still say, “I love you”, then we are in love. If even after waking up in the middle of the night to a snoring husband, we can murmur “I love you”, then we are in love. If we can forgive and forget and still say, “I love you”, we are in love. It’s not easy. But can we do it? Yes, definitely yes.

It isn’t hearts and roses. It’s guns and roses.