Glitter

I lie in a bed not made for me,
Wrapped in sheets that smell of you.
You, who stay away, far far away,
a thousand miles, a million galaxies
away, in the room adjoining. There,
I spy you, hiding among shadows that
grow as evening turns to night. Sometimes,
what you seek is not what you find.

I am shrouded in darkness – I want
to believe you search for me just as I
turn to you. There is much I imagine as I
breathe you in, but lesser that I forget as I
air you out. We are lost in the dark and to each
other. The night has worn us. You glimmer
pale, reflecting your thoughts. Sometimes,
the people who save us, also enslave us. 

You plague me – as you are and as you could be. 
You are a warlock, an addiction; a spell cast,
a charm thrown, another self invoked. I am as afraid
of seeing as I am of dreaming, for I thought I saw me
when i saw you. Illusions must not last. Now, we
must sink the stone. Before it ends, the surface
will shiver. Now, we must disappear. Because
sometimes, we are just the dust, not the gold. 

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True Love

There was once a boy who knelt in front of me with a bouquet in his hand and said that he loved me by way of asking me out – such was his innocence in matters of the heart. I was his first love (the rest were mere crushes) and he did everything he could think of to keep it going. He bought me flowers, chocolates, food, music, books, walks around beaches, beer (though he was a teetotaller) and oodles of chicken (though he was a vegetarian), he wept for my pain and laughed for my happiness, he sang me songs, he wrote me letters…oh the letters – going away letters, coming back letters, random stream of consciousness letters, gifting letters, celebratory letters.

When he handed me one while we were sitting next to a window in a fast moving bus one day, it blew away. I was reading it with tears in my eyes for it had promises I was desperate to hear. And then the wind blew it away. I turned to him, eyes full of shock and apology, and he just said it was alright. I was going away and he was dropping me to the airport. When I returned 15 days later, he handed me a patched up piece of paper. It was muddy, crumpled and torn in places. He’d gone back to that exact spot and fished about in the gutter and the roadside and found most of the scraps and taped it back. It left me speechless.

Towards the end of our relationship — and I knew it was ending at astronomical speed, and there was nothing I could do to stop it — a very flippant acqaintance of mine commented that he was a very good boy, and that I didn’t deserve him. She’d met him fleetingly once and barely knew me in our two years of shallow camaraderie. I was shocked — and this comment worked to cleave us apart all the more. I know it was unreasonable, i knew it then, but how do you explain all this to a passion-filled heart?!

A year and a half later, I am sorry for how things transpired between us. There are times when I regret my actions, but I know if all this were to happen again, in some other universe or another time-space axis, as they show in the sci-fi movies, I’d end up doing it again. The coordinates may have changed but the climax would’ve stayed the same. At some point in those four years, I’d begun to see the unseeable: This wasn’t it.

I really am sorry. Please take care of him, Universe.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

There was once a girl who radiated happiness in a manner that could put the sun to shame. She came from Kashmir, from a conventional Muslim family, yet, defeating all stereotypes of the world (as most people are wot to do at some point of time or the other) she had attended the hallowed halls of a much cherished, much desired all-girls college in Delhi. Her father was in the merchant navy. She rode to college everyday in a creamy white Corolla Altis with her grandmother and five-year old sister in tow. The surveillance on her life was very heavy. Her stint at the college where we met was her first experience in a co-educational school. It had taken her parents a lot of will power to let her go to a co-ed school for this implied immediate contamination.

But she was a bubbly child, super-excited about being in the company of boys other than her brothers and in an open environment. She wore fully covered salwar kameez with Puma sneakers and a grey backpack, which carried her notebooks onto which she inscribed notes like a dictaphone. She loved the world of hi-fashion and had grown up to venerate the ways of South Delhi ladies. But her innocence made her seem cherubic. She laughed and giggled and hugged and kissed and sang and hummed and danced and burst with such energy that the first thing any of us wanted to see when we reached college was her big smile and a big bear hug — it made it seem like everything in the world would be alright.

I fell for her in a way only a girl can fall for another girl, minus any sexual connotations. I wanted to be the reason she smiled, laughed, i wanted to be her best friend, her secret keeper, her advice giver and seeker, her confidante and co-conspirator. It might seem childish now, but a day of her absence made me restless for I didn’t know who to turn to for company. Some of the best times from college I remember today are with her in the picture.

Halfway through our course, she fell in love with an Afghan fellow. I warned her, attempted to make her understand that these things should be taken one step at a time and not rushed into. She wouldn’t listen — she had an army of Bollywood stories to back up her convictions that he was the one and if you don’t die for your love, it never was love at all. In the end, she listened to another — one who brought the same look into her eyes as she did to mine. I’d never thought I’d be in a platonic love triangle!

Today, I don’t know where she is. None of us know where she is. Even her Afghan sweetheart has no clue where she is, seeing as he was violently thrown out of her life. Her father called us all up and warned us to not speak of her ever again or there wold be dire consequences. Her heartthrob blames the end of their relationship squarely on her. And her FB page looks like a vigil for someone long gone.

Not a day goes by when I don’t think of her. I fell in love with her – it was that simple. She may not have reciprocated, but she had a good heart and does not deserve this state of affairs. Please take care of her too, Universe.

That thing on my arm…

They often ask me, why stars?

To which i can never think of a singular concrete reason. Like a four leaf clover is for luck, angels are for security, chinese letters are, well, to embody whatever they’re supposed to mean. I can’t ever come with an objective-type answer for ‘why stars?’

I remember somebody telling me once that you are preoccupied by what you usually draw on pages subconsciously, like when you’re sitting in a boring class or are on the phone having a long winding conversation. That what you end up doodling is what is uppermost in your mind and will in many ways be a tell-tale sign of what you are and what you want and what will be most important to you. So when i’m asked this question, i remember the many many stars i’ve drawn on the back pages of my notebooks, throughout the years.

I also remember that stars are supposed to mean ambition, like hearts are for love, flowers are for clean-heartedness – among the more common things people end up doodling. I also remember Physics chapters on stars and black holes and the whole phenomenon that had me hooked. That part of Physics was possibly the easiest to understand that entire year.

And i remember lounging on a beach in Goa one October evening many years ago, when the sky was bursting with stars and i was breathless with disbelief at their immensity and wishing like a child for some to fall on my lap so i could preserve them forever in a jar and keep them next to me.

So when the time came to etch one up for good, it seemed like stars would be an obvious option – they’re pretty, they sparkle and they’ve sort of been part of me for the different levels of wonderment and joy they’ve brought.

Maybe, someday, my stars will grow and blossom into something else. Maybe, just maybe, there will be evolution. Until then, they fizz and shoot up and down my arm, up and down my spine.

Tenses

Two years. Two massive years that have just buzzed by in a flurry of fun and fretting, eating, playing, dancing, drinking, poking, jumping, posing, laughing, breaking, singing, screaming, running, copying, studying, dozing, listening, shopping, holding, hugging, crying, kissing, supporting, talking, BCing, reading, writing, fighting, clicking, dragging, begging, teasing, falling, scraping, cutting, flying, burning, freezing, baking, partying, daring, confessing, climbing, snatching, tracking, gossiping, arguing, walking, sitting, following, caring, sighing, wishing, dreaming…coming closer, loving, hating, but always being…together.

In the name of peace, may this present continuous never end.

Mise-en-scene

Location: The isolated room to the left of the main entrance at 802 Kailash, Kaushambi

Circa 2000: The barest of spaces. Walls: newly whitewashed. Floor: the dirty brown tiles, unkempt and untidy, as one is used to in public sector company flats. A small, very bare, pigeon-infested balcony. One diwan (to function as the bed) horizontally pushed up against the wall opposite to the entrance. One pista green study table in the opposite corner, next to the cupboards. A dressing table and mirror next to it. One steel almirah, holder of all off-seasonal clothes and my deepest darkest secrets, next to the bed. One broken bulb lamp. One tubelight. An old aluminium box has my pricest teddies displayed on it. Six months later, there’s an old BPL TV in their place and they find pride of place on the bed. The ceiling is a replica of the sky, only with green glow-in-the-dark stars and moons and planets instead of the real ones.

2002: The dressing table and mirror have been shifted to the fraction of a wall between the balcony door and the bathroom door. Next to the study table has appeared an old Akai TV set, replacing the BPL, now having been demoted from the parents’. The wall i face while studying now has a few posters, mostly of Tom Cruise and the Backstreet Boys.

2004: More posters. More of Tom. New study table. Imported from Papa’s office, it’s a big grey, blue and brown thing, very official, making me feel very important. And it is now where the bed used to be. The bed is on the wall perpendicular. There’s a two-level book shelf nailed right above the table with the top one reserved for the special books, the ones i like to read, and the lower one full of commerce crap. A carpet now hides the icky tiles partially. My first bean bag, which looks a little like a chess board, arrives.

2006: A big collage of photographs, cards and such up on the study wall. notes, time-table, quotes, poetry, butterflies, colors, people…all part of the wall. Tom Cruise and the Backstreet Boys now reside all rolled up in a corner of the cupboard now, gathering dust. The books change from Accountancy and Business Studies and Maths (brrr!) to Milton, Foucault, Shakespeare, Ghosh…over three years of literature compilation. The aluminium box is replaced by a proper TV stand and now boasts of a fancy new Sony music system as well. The study table also has some of my teddies, a few photo frames. One of the old masterbed’s side table is now the reservoir of my music collection, tapes and discs. They all soon become redundant with the arrival of a shiny new iPod Nano. As does the Akai, which is sold off and replaced with the Sony flat-screen as the parents upgrade to an LCD. And then arrives the treadmill.

2009: Two years away, and the room’s now a bigger storage den than the rightfully assigned one in the main balcony. All sorts of debris piled onto the study table, into the shelves, the cupboards. It wears the look of one ignored, abused and exploited. So we begin from scratch: take down the cobwebs, dust everything up, throw a gazillion things out, find other things that seem to have been misled into the space of Losing-It. The room is now purple. The curtains are purple. There’s a new chocolate brown bean bag, a Daughter’s Day gift. The new bedsheets i buy are purple and blue with many many elephants and flowers on them. A carefully crafted rosewood book case, a much craven thing, now towers over the TV. A new study lamp on the old table, paper flowers, paper lamps, knick knacks accumulated as gifts all find place on the corner stand, on stools, on the study table…on any flat surface.

2011: The music set, the treadmill, the TV are all out of working order, but they’re still here, too hard to let go off. Or maybe the hope is we can get them fixed and they’ll be running again. A split A/C to make the heat more bearable arrived the previous year. A pin-up board has posters from the Jaipur Lit Fest, postcards from McLeodganj, some of the oldest, nicest photographs, a redundant time-table and a ‘To Do-Doing-Done’ routine with no post-its under it. Two framed paintings of a sole woman, one communing with nature and the other playing the Sitar, decorate the wall opposite the main door. The balcony is now pigeon-free and is now the most functional space of the room with a washing machine installed in it. The most important thing on the study table is now a laptop – the window to the world.

This is the space i’ve called my room for the past decade. It has been the only constant thing through my teenage, supplying all that is deemed most essential by an adolescent, coming-to-grips-with-adulthood-and-the-big-city girl. In film theory, the representation of space in a scene affects the reading of depth. Perhaps, what populates this space i so proudly call mine is a portrait of me on different dots across the time-space axis.

Virginia Woolf felt that ‘A Room of One’s Own’ was the first and foremost requirement of a woman looking to become free. Mine sure gave me wings (thank you Ma and Papa), and yet, this is where i choose to come back to. I get what those breeding pigeons loved about my room. It is the same even when it changes. Warm, cosy, open. Home.

Mousing into the past

A rat’s gone and died in the storage room of my house. Rat Kill assured us that the targeted rodent shall go ‘outside’ to breathe it’s last. This one’s ‘outside’, it seems, was the covered section of the balcony in a house on the 8th floor. Now, a search party is upturning an entire corner which has barely been touched in the past 11 years.

Store-rooms tend to be the neglected spaces where we dump all that we don’t need anymore but are not yet ready to let go of either. The uncertainty is a sort of shroud on all things past, present and that could possibly be used in the future, and settles in like the accumulating dust and cobwebs, becoming part of a grainy existence. There’s barely any light, for preservation demands darkness. As does death, come to think of it.

So for all the attachment to, say, an old lamp shade, or some old bedsheets, or an aluminum trunk full of sarees and sweaters from the 80s, there are also darkened windows and a tight opaqueness that probably aim to squeeze the life out of those very things. Sustain the articles, kill the memories. And once a sufficient amount of time has elapsed, and considerable amounts of amnesia have set in, we hold up the articles in bright Sunday morning sunlight and wonder what made us hold onto this irrelevant article in the first place. Detox too, then, needs a right place and time.

Now we’re trying to pack up a bunch of things into old decaying cardboard boxes, to be  thrown into the garbage bin or given away. We revisit a decade decayed this February Sunday.

All because of a pesky rat.

Frames

Standing-Facing-Posing-Freezing
Staying-Moving-Smiling-Flirting
Anticipating the perpetuity
That the polaroids would bring
They lost themselves for hours
In skies, strata and seas
Drowned in time and dreams,
Scraped many-a happy knee.
Mischievous impish eyes
Profiles and white lies
Loud grins and side glances,
Now live in rectangles
In my gasping living room,
Scrambling for space through
Precipitous memories at noon.
In the thunder and downpour
Of nostalgia storming through the door
They come to me, ghosts of suns last,
Drink my wine and pluck at my heart.
But O heart, my dear heart!
Take heart, this at least never will part,
We’ll name them in everyday of that past…
But then, my heart, we must go back to the start.

24 and how!

Barthday!

Debby thought it would be apt to have a blog post on birthday. Although i usually find birthdays to be terribly emotional, sensitive areas in time, and told him as much, here’s an attempt at rationally fishing up some random thoughts and consequences of turning 24.

  • I’ve lived for almost a quarter of a century.
  • Dad says i ideally should have had a child by this time, by which he implies i should have gotten married two years back, according to Indian Traditional Time 😐
  • While they say the 20s are a most turbulent time in any individual’s life, by this time, i seem to have realised that for the most part, i’m OK.
  • OK with being alone, having just a few close but meaningful friends, not being 0 size, not being liked by that person that i really adore, with having been stabbed in the back, used and thrown away, because effectively, life is wonderful right now.
  • I made some of the best decisions of my life yet in the past year – coming back to Delhi, coming to Jamia (thank you forever, Shishir 🙂 ) chief among them.
  • I love the gifts i got – the flowers, cakes, chocolates, clothes, the modern lifestyle chart, the super awesome Green Jade perfume, the cool headphones – it’s been about all the things i love the most!
  • The final flourish for this year would be a tattoo. I’d appreciate ideas. tops among choices right now are a cluster of shooting stars, a dragonfly, a snail, Goop-tah in chinese letters ( 😀 ) !
  • There’s always many many things to look forward to. And among other philosophies of life, ‘things always have a way of working themselves out’ remains the most consolatory.
  • I LOVE the people i love, even if i don’t manage to stay in touch with them. but the dilemma of the redundancy of some friendships surfaces. of course the bigger thing to do is keep loving them just for the sake of all that time you’ve spent together even though you know you’ve got nothing left to talk about. It’s not that easy though.
  • Dance is my life. And words. Sheer happiness.
  • The past year has also taught me the importance of laughter. Talking of happiness, and its many forms, this one especially deserves a mention for nothing makes the blues go away like a sharp joke and a loud rotfl!

And so, this year, you might want to wish me some stability, some peace, a little bit of actually growing up, lots and lots of laughter. I might want to wish me that. Cheers to world peace, i say. ;P

When we ‘covered deprivation’ in 2008

[Something i wrote about 2 years ago. old memories. reshared? 🙂 ]

One bright morning in January, a bunch of thirty odd youngsters set out on a trip with a mission- “covering deprivation”. Their motive was to visit the adjoining ‘poor’ district of Krishnagiri, 256 kms away from Chennai, to bring to light the plight of villagers and others who did not belong to the mainstream flow of convenience that makes up metropolitan cities like their own. Spirits soared and bad jokes as well as rumors flew about how they’d have to stay in sad little huts, with no electricity or water. Most had chlorine tablets, purifiers, blankets, thermal body suits and more safely tucked into their strollies. And they prepared for the worst as they kicked back heels, reclined into comfort and enjoyed ‘Ratatouille’ on the LCD screen in their mini tourister on the way.
Six hours and a few mishaps later, they were looking out their windows and drinking in rustic beauty at its best. The horizon was made up of rocky hills and forest land and the highway that they were speeding on was the lifeline that seemed to connect this island to the rest of civilization. Soon, much to the relief of some, they came to a hotel in which they were to be accommodated for the next week. The hotel boasted of a restaurant as well as a bar, thank god, but now, could they get some hot water, pronto please?? And then they were escorted to the district collector’s office where Dr. Santosh Babu, IAS, personally welcomed this bunch of overeager journalists. He was to make his best efforts to help them but they were to keep in mind that this district was also being developed at an extremely rapid pace- the officialdom was putting its best foot forward and they, the press, were to keep in line…
The following few days were a flurry of travel, visiting villages, talking to farmers, understanding the rural setup of life, as well as enjoying the idyllic pleasures of natural beauty, taking rides on fishermen’s boats down the Cauvery, eating, drinking and having ‘fun’ back at the hotel and then falling into bed exhausted but content. From seeing scruffy children running after their bus, and then grouping together with outstretched hands for sweet treats that these exotic looking ‘rich’ people might offer them, to finding out how bigger goals, such a conserving a forest, are achieved at the cost of taking away the livelihood of the marginalized alone- they saw it all.
It was like a pictoral collage of deprivation. A widow who was dumb and deaf, who stood smiling like an idiot, not knowing her plight, since she had no financial statistics of her own whatsoever. An eighty year old woman with no one in the world to call her own, except a brother in whose bathroom she was allowed to spend rainy days. Kaveri, an 8 year old girl, who was so enchanted by the tinkle of bangles on the wrist of one of these foreigners, that she cutely recited ‘ABC..’ in order to gain possession of them. Another girl, who sat watching Sun TV in her one room house, but was never allowed to go to school anymore, since she had gained puberty. Satyamurthy, a young man in his prime who worked in the pantry car of Lal Bagh Express, who believed that purity of the village was important to keep the Gods happy. Sujatha, his wife, who was living in the forest for the time being because she was having her period. Her one year old son, who was deprived of polio vaccination because she was unfit to mingle in social circles.
But with the graphic portraits of deprivation came the ghastly mask of deception. Government officials attempted to gloss over the truth by guiding their guests to their successful endeavors alone. The villagers had seen it all before- these foreigners came once, saw them in their natural habitat, absorbed the shock and went away, never to return. In turn, they had learnt techniques to make profit out of their destitution. They told tales of their poverty and then begged for some form of remuneration to ease their pain if only for a very short while. Kaveri and her friends too, had learnt the art of begging- since nobody could resist the sympathy they’d feel for these cherubs of the wild. The deception, probably, fully and finally existed in the heart of these journalists. What they came looking for, really, was stories and tales they could tell, and it did not much matter what the fates of these people would be.
The fun fair ended where it began. Questions, terrifying answers, doubts and clarifications- all swam together in the mind, but were not really voiced. For lack of concern or for fear of the truth and its reverberations- they all stayed woefully mum. Their hearts and heads were in the right place, probably, since feeling too much might have been something of a mistake. Emotion, after all, obscures objectivity, that much valued characteristic essential to a journalist. They all felt a little bit wiser to the ways of the world, now that they had gone down a road less travelled. They took their memories, and their notes, home.

Fair Weather

SO, it has been long. Contemplation is not on top of my priority list these days. why? For a change, Life is happening. Not only the ‘hep’ way, but also, actually commencing, going on, being proactive. When the mind is blissfully engaged in classrooms and libraries, and cafes and scintillating company, to be honest, and laughter (the real, gushing, blushing, heartwarming, gurgling, bright type) is as inevitable as feeling hungry, or hitting Facebook, it is completeness. And now, winter is in – Ta Da! After long, everything feels RIGHT. Doing what i want to do and doing it wallowing in constant mirth is what i call Doing It with Elan. Gosh, how i gush!

I hate to admit this, but I am a bit superstitious about talking of the good parts of my life. As in I feel, happiness, when shared, is often jinxed, the moment it is talked of loud. Like the proverbial butterfly, lounging on your shoulder – you turn to capture it, it is gone. And so, I wish you’d knock on wood right now for you’d be doing me a great favour and leaving me at peace, if only till my next outpour of joy. cheers!