Dreams are renewable. No matter what our age or condition, there are still untapped possibilities within us and new beauty waiting to be born.

-Dale Turner-

Monday 29 October 2012

mood swings & matrimonial profiles



Sometimes I am a writer, a storyteller, and the dreamer of dreams… 
and sometimes I am a builder of unblinking attention.

Some days I burn the oil, for midnights, daybreaks and twilights… 
and on some others, the crown jewels couldn’t drag a whisper from me.

Sometimes I am the sister, the friend who holds hands and dries tears… 
and sometimes I am the one who sheds them on the same beach.

But always, I am the aunt who loves her nephew fiercely. :-)

I am the one to curl around a book by the window sill… 
and also the one to brave storms and uprooted trees to keep at my work.

I am the delightful granddaughter, niece, and my father’s princess…
I am also the girl my mother wishes she never had. :-)

Strangely conservative, surprisingly liberal, cheerfully sociable, deeply private, jumps into rain puddles, walks on the night beach… razor sharp perception.

I am this and I am that,
but mostly I am just the plain-old-girl next door. :-)

~ the window siller

Friday 6 January 2012

hens, roosters, and lazy afternoon wishes

You are sitting by the window, and I am stretched out behind you.
And sunlight streams over the both of us, with the gentle warmth of a January sun.

I am trying to teach you to identify the crows of roosters and hens, as we look out for them.
For we come across these characters often enough in songs and rhymes.
And every time we did, your eyebrows would bridge trying hard to understand.

Now, after four or five times, you have picked it up easily.
And you point excitedly and say something in baby talk, every time you hear one crow.

When I get back to work soon, it will be hours like these, that I will miss the most.
This last year of a sabbatical has been wonderful, mostly because of you.

Work will take me away, and I will miss you so much.
I will miss lazy afternoons of snuggling, packed park visits, our fantastic sessions of singing and dancing, and breathlessly fielding ball for you.
And you will grow up so soon, before we know how it happened.

I can easily imagine you walking into a room as a strapping young man.
I know I will wear a proud grin. I know I will rise to give you a hug.
I will also cup your face and smack a kiss, no matter how embarrassed you are. :-)

But I only wish that I won't have to bore you, by talking only of all these wonderful babyhood days.
I wish we will always have something to do together, something to learn or play together.
I wish we always will be friends.

with one of the greatest loves that I have ever known,
your aunt, the window siller.

Thursday 17 November 2011

laughter

Chintoo's eyes are tightly shut, but his eyelids are fluttering, his mouth is quivering, and his tummy is rolling. And it happens every time the drizzle outside falls hard as rain.

If there is anything more beautiful than a child's laughter, it is a child laughing fast asleep. :-) :-)

Monday 15 November 2010

On the fence

" ...between the hard, obvious things that are printed in books, and the soft, subtle things that lodge themselves into the soul."

there are people who believe in the first and some in the next, and then there is me who struggles in-between...

Sunday 14 November 2010

Pray for her sister...

November 12th, 2010:

Ray was a gloriously tall, slender, and beautiful girl. Round eyes, ready smile, and a thick, long plait, that I used to ogle every time we had a common class.

Ray was mostly shy, a “ooru ponnu” (the girl from the town), and spoke chaste tamil with a southern lilt. She mostly complained about her hostels and the pollution in Madras.

We fell out of touch very quickly, and the last I heard, she had stayed in the city against all odds to join a top MNC.

That was the Ray I knew from university, forwards and facebook.

Three days back, I brought Ray to stay overnight. I rarely bring friends home, let alone for a night stay… but after hearing her on email and phone, after seeing her in person after so many years, and after hearing her speak to the therapist, there was no way I could walk away.

I rushed her to my room before my parents could ask any awkward questions. And a shrunken and red-eyed Ray began to speak…

~~

Like millions of Indian daughters Ray was brought up with a single-point agenda: study hard, get a good job, and don’t speak with boys along the way.

Like lakhs of Indian girls, Ray wore these blinkers to school, college, university and work.

And like thousands of other Indian women, Ray trusted her parents to bring her the knight she wanted.

But just like so many of us, she was in for a rude shock. For at the question of marriage, her education, job and career were quickly forgotten. She was expected to live in a small town and cook without complaints.

Amidst dowry seekers and horoscope matchers, there came one lone guy who was okay with her working. And within two meetings in the drawing room, and halting conversations over the phone, Ray was head-long in love. With the innocence of a teen, and the intensity of a 29-year old.

But alliances arranged by others are broken by them as well. And suddenly Ray was left mailing and calling to no reply.

Quickly forced into another engagement, beaten for honour, and blackmailed for love, the usual routine of depression, pills, hospital and therapy had followed. ~~

We are seeing a new therapist now. A therapist who speaks her tamil. A therapist who has patiently listened to her for hours at a stretch. And a therapist who understands the business of temple soothsayers and meddling match-fixers.

So Ray now gets some sleep on the thin mattress on the floor. Her eyes are no longer red and I see resolve in her, when she sits next to me today morning:

“I’m breaking this forced engagement myself. I will face the drama. I am going to meet the person I liked and clear the mess. If it fails, I will focus on my career, and adopt a child, and live well.”

As I look into her face, I know that Ray is just like you and me, she is just one of the millions of Indian women caught in the same space. Between the world of MNCs and masters degrees, and family honour and dowry-seekers.

I don’t know if Ray understands that she is breaking from her family cast. I don’t know if she realises that she will become responsible for her life. I don’t know if she can handle it all. All I can do is pray… why don’t you as well.

10 things about Ra:

  1. For every one sequence we edit, her phone will ring 10 times.
  2. And she has to help, solve an issue, or counsel for the next 15 minutes.
  3. If it is not a friend or relative, it is a daughter.
  4. She has 50 daughters and a few sons.
  5. She makes sure they finish school and go to work.
  6. She then puts up their profiles on bharat matrimony.
  7. There is one wedding coming up now.
  8. She loves cooking.
  9. She loves bells.
  10. And she stays up to put together the sequence that was interrupted so many times, and surprises me every morning.

Sunday 10 October 2010

when life feels like geometry

A walk, a bus or two, a train, a walk, a share auto, a walk down a deserted stretch (an auto if I am lucky)…. All to meet Ra, who lets me fumble around her, and who doesn’t shout when I log the wrong tape.

I come back, I do the laundry, eyes drooping, I set the alarm for 4.30. It goes off for half an hour, before I can even hear it. Very little, or no money. Nano money. :-) A crazy client. A no-budget documentary.

Day-dreams of a project on water. Endless proposal writing. A shadow of my life with Stick and Egg.

But I call my grandmother every day. I don’t waste a minute. I pick up groceries. I help a cousin. I dance. I don’t obsess. I play with Chintoo like never before.

I may leave it all, yet again. I could decide that medicine is the only way to make a difference. Eventually, I may do corporate communications, to take care of mum and dad. I may become a loser-daughter.

I don’t know anything. I don’t have any answers. “Where will it lead me?” “What am I doing?”

But I feel, like a better daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece and aunt. And life feels like a geometric diagram. Simple. Clean. Good.

That is all I know, at the moment.

Friday 24 September 2010

dead chicken and holy cows

"You have such painful periods because you eat eggs on fridays, amavasais and purattasi saturdays... it is bad, bad karma." Welcome to my family's timeless hindu traditions. "Don't even keep it at home. Give the eggs to the maid, just get it out of your fridge," fine nuances of customs are being passed down.

I share 25 per cent of my DNA with her. I love my aunt. And I keep my mouth shut.

But when my mother - who is usually introduced with her four college degrees and innovations in kindergarten education, and who recently went over to the dark side - tries to enforce these friday values, I go dizzy with blood pressure. Must be the eggs.

Two things changed me forever.

At 9, the ravenous account of my friend's X'mas feast. Eggs (I love them), roast rabbit and chicken biriyani.

"Are we not supposed to be good and not eat meat on god's birthdays," I asked. "Shouldn't we celebrate his birthday as we always celebrate good times," Angel reasoned. I could not agree more.

At 11, reading Amar Chitra Katha. Cow-killing and beef-eating was banned and vegetarianism of all shades was invented to keep hindus from Buddha's allure.

I went on to read huge tomes of Ramayan and Mahabharat, where food was fondly described in great detail. So I ran to my dad, "did princes and priests make merry at auspicious occasions with sacrifices and feasts of animals?"

"Of course," the historian smiled. He rattled off about surviving traditions where meat is still offered to the gods, of socio-political decisions in ancient India, and finished off with a reading list.

But he cannot fight for the eggs in the fridge. He cannot remember if he had lunch himself.

Errands to the butcher's shop made me a saint for several years. Acute protein deficiency reunited me with eggs, and I no longer sit with the vegetarian section at Bajji's Eid feasts. I eat with her, fervently discussing recipes.

Now, where did I start? Ah... amavasais and fridays. Well, I may become a saint again, but you can be sure that I will observe auspicious days with eggs (did I mention I love them) and biriyanis.

glossary: amavasai: no moon day; purattasi: 6th month in the tamil calendar; biriyani: ah... you must have had them.

Sunday 1 August 2010

An equal music

It is said, "even in the most perfect love, you are not equals. And to meet in a kiss, one has to look down and the other up."

But friends meet as equals~

Saturday 19 June 2010

In defence of Duryodhana

a translation of one of the many poems that celebrate this shade of the Kaurava prince. for a beautiful tamil original (in english script), go here. the others bear with me:

~~
the disease of suspicion-
is never in my being.
for I am a king who can respect
the friendship that flowers
between a man and a woman.

my friend must have arrived,
looking for me,
my wife must be attending,
with a smiling face.

what could the two be talking,
all this while.
what could they be doing,
all this time.

no such worries,
trouble my heart,
with a pace as steady
as my mind,
I walk back home
to find them both.

entering my palace,
a scene I see,
strange as one,
ever can be.

in my friend's grasp,
is my wife.
a broken chain
is spilling its pearls.

how well the wise spoke:
"all that you see,
is but a lie.
and all that you hear,
is mere falsehood."

but how do I tell them,
of what I have gleaned?

by speaking too much,
I would be a boast.
and by speaking none,
confusion would reign.

All I need are two words,
to put them at ease.

the pearls don't still,
for the king's crown,
the pearls call upon,
laughing on the floor.

to pick them up is quite easy,
it doesn't call for much sense.
to string them is a little harder,
calling for untiring attention.

without merely collecting,
I can string them as well.

tell me, my beautiful wife,
tell me, my dearest friend,
"should I pick them up,
or string them as well?"

~~
"edukkavo, kokkavo?"

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