Thursday, 5 March 2015

"Hour of nostalgia, hour of happiness, hour of solitude"

Weekly backlogs completed. Check.
Festival long weekend. Check.
Looking at the watch every five minutes. Check.
Humming cheesy songs and giggling. Check. 

The algorithm is going perfectly. The pillows drenched by tears for four months, the frustrations, the fights, the hopeless pining, are all meticulously brewing into an intoxicating concoction. Here I sit, nervously twitching at my ring, giving my finger weird bruises. My heart skips a beat or two every three seconds. I nervously hold my breath so as to check my erratic heartbeats. He's on his way. He's coming home, from far, far away. 

While I worry and stress about what I'll wear and how I'll look and what I'll talk to him about when I meet him for the first time after all this time, I take a break and laugh a little at myself. I've never had to worry about this stuff with him. I long to tousle his (oh so long!) hair, hold his head in my lap and blush like I'm 14 again. I long to wear my smile, the one that he loves, while I make him wait for me before our dates. I long to see those frantic messages that buzz on my cell phone every ten seconds when I'm late, and to see that face break into an all-forgiving smile when he sees me. I long for him to grab my hand silently when no one's looking. I long for all those little details of my life that had gone missing while we dueled with work and education and whatnot. 

The distance isn't going away. Its a week away. But that doesn't stop us from living it up now, right? I press my ears to hear his car zoom into the colony gates. I'm sure I can hear him unload his luggage and push the lift doors open. He's home.

"Hour of nostalgia, hour of happiness, hour of solitude,
hour that is mine from among them all!"

P.S: Neruda all the way.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The little one.

Long ago, I remember wanting to have a little sister. I thought of it as sharing secrets, sharing wardrobes and having lots of girl fun together.

And yet, I was given a tiny little brother. I saw him sleep 18 hours a day. I saw him kicking and squalling as soon as he found his legs. I found tiny fingers clutching my hand to guide him whenever he felt unsure of himself. The same  fingers often tore out my hair if he didn't like what I said. I gave him pillion rides on my bicycle because he was so little for so long. I fed him his food after school when I could barely feed myself. He would snuggle beside me at nap-time and run away as soon as I'd dozed off. He would come to my class like the best kid ever to deliver his teachers' summons umpteen times. I cried afterwards and he'd point and laugh. I tried to instigate him into trying the schooltime forbidden fruit - the delectable yet questionable chuski! He would eat it and complain to mom anyway. But inspite of all that happened, I was given a gift. A gift of a person to love for all of my life.
Despite my initial disappointment at the wardrobe I couldn't share because he was a boy, I find ways to do it! And the secrets? All of them. He's the friend who is older than his seventeen years and has big brotherly advice despite being just a little boy. He's the boy who still snuggles when he feels sleepy. He's the boy who will bend my brittle nails if I scratch him accidentally and then ask mum if my nails will be okay. He's the boy who takes me out for cake voluntarily. And he's the one who'll say, "Come back home after 7 or 8 days. 3 days is too less!" He's the one whose face makes me cry at the railway station. He's the boy who's growing up so so fast and has made me crazy proud. He's the one I'll love for an eternity. ❤

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Here I am, falling in love with you.

I didn't like Varanasi. I was irritated and highly disappointed the first time I got here. The constant dust clung to my nerves as adamantly as it clings to my skin, and the pitter-patter of the recycled betel juice would make me want to gouge my skin out with my fingernails. 
Then, something amazing happened. On one of our evening walks to the Ghats, we found a shady rooftop restaurant that served Spanish cuisine overlooking the River Ganga. The steps leading up to the restaurant were dark and dingy. Scary even. A naked, ragged doll lay on the seating area of the restro. We were contemplating a secret escape when the cutest little rag-doll of a girl came out of a room rubbing her eyes. Having solved the mystery of the naked doll, we felt a little more at ease and settled down into a table at the edge of the balcony.
The day was still bright when we ordered our double Parmesan cheese sandwiches with eggs and tomatoes. A Spanish national took our order while his wife and mother and daughters (one of whom we'd met earlier) came out and started chit-chatting with us. The man had worked as a technician in Bollywood for some 6 months and said that he found more peace in Banaras than he ever did anywhere else in the world. He'd been living at this hotel which is a cheap accommodation option and situated adjacent to the river. He started this Spanish cuisine-themed restaurant in partnership with the owner of the hotel, trying something different from the other hotel-owners around them. When the food arrived, it simply blew us away. The man casually lit up a joint and sat talking to us as if he'd known us for ages. We learnt that there was a yoga instructor in the establishment who took students in for free, to practice along with himself. The whole idea sounded ridiculously idyllic, considering the location of the restaurant. We returned the next evening with increased zeal and to try Yoga at the river bank. We started with a few light asanas. The sun started running its last lap in the sky and painted the firmament pink and purple over the azure water of the river. The day darkened bit-by-bit, while my scarcely-used muscles begged for relief. The joy and beauty of the evening, coupled with the soft, singsong voice of the yoga master remain one of the fondest experiences of my life. 
That day utterly and completely changed the way I perceive Banaras. The sound of Bhojpuri is music to my ears now. Tea is a way of life, and the city itself is a source of inspiration. Beauty is to be found at every nook and cranny of the city and the scent of sweetmeats that are fried at first light in the city seem like the smell of Elysium. The body times itself with the sound of temple bells tolling. Every time that a boat eases into the Ganges, the heart flutters like an unbound kite. 
Many-a-times, my friends and I have wondered aloud about the scores of tourists who flock the city - "What do they come for anyway?" and "What's the point?". I think we may have found the answer. 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

I am the fire that burns against the cold, the light that brings the dawn.

I have always believed, there lives a fire within me. Fire is my element. Fire draws me towards itself like I'm a fly, cursed to live and die in its flames. While we're celebrating the festival of fire (The festival of light some would say, but potayto-potahto!), the fly couldn't be more excited, now could she? 

I've been at my father's back for the last two days to come out with me and buy the Diwali lights because our set breathed its last this year. While he acts as nonchalant as possible, I am grown enough to see how much he enjoys my love for fire and light. Today, on Dhanteras, I started sulking for the same reason and he switched on the T.V. He hates to see me sporting a long face (a girl, AND his firstborn), so within ten minutes, he had gotten dressed and was asking me my plans for the porch this year!

Behind my dad on the scooter, I have this habit of staring at the road - At people, at the little shops, and during Diwali, the decorations and the crackers on display. While we proceeded, something that I saw pierced my heart and tore it apart. A little boy, four years old at the most, barefoot and dressed in hand-me-downs that were probably given in charity, was being pulled off the main road by his slightly older sister. He was trying to cross the street to go over to a shop on the opposite side which had a coir bed full of crackers on display. The child's eyes were lit, and in his eyes I saw that fire which draws me to fire- luminous and innocent, beautiful and excited, like pools of magma, yet not looking to sear anyone or anything. The children were untidy and under-dressed for an autumn evening as cold as this one. My heart leapt out to them. Isn't this supposed to be the festival of joy? Don't those children deserve to light a few crackers and get a whiff of their childhood? I asked myself these basic questions and grew sad, pledging to myself to give these children a little Diwali. While on the street, I saw more children like them. Some shopkeepers gave these homeless children a few incense sticks and some small crackers. Words haven't yet been coined to define the joy on those faces. Even more children walked away from shops distraught and crestfallen after being shooed away by less generous shopkeepers. Overall, I saw misery. I saw innocents being deprived of the joy that I was so anxious to buy. 


I wished for these children to come to my house for my mother's awesome Chicken Tikka and to celebrate the festival with us. For them to be bathed and cleaned before the Puja. Yet, none of this will ever happen. They'll forlornly roam the streets on Diwali, when I shall be enjoying myself too much to see. 

Everywhere, on Facebook and Twitter, I see people pledging to have a cracker-free, fume-free, "green" Diwali. What I wish for is much more basic. I want a Happy Diwali. Not just for you and me and the people I know and will wish over WhatsApp on the day of the festival. I want a Happy Diwali for all of these people and all those people who I did not see during the drive today. I pray for a Happy Diwali for all those whom the fire won't engulf in its charm. Equality is a foolish person's grope in the darkness. I wish for equitability. It is mindlessness to expect one person to go around combing out all the poor and homeless kids they see and bring them closer to the light. However, a lot of those children can enjoy the festival if you put one firecracker and one sweet in the hands of one cheerless child.

Have a happy Diwali, everyone! 

Monday, 1 September 2014

Ten Tomes and a Basketful of Memorabilia.

The recent trend that surfaced on the internet has led me down memory lane. Oh, the amazing 10 books challenge. I started working on mine as soon as I saw the trend going around the internet. I was secretly willing at least one of my reader friends to nominate me, and one of them did!

I was transported to the wonderful time when I got the opportunity to bury myself in these great works, and how they shaped my life back when I read them. I remember how Little Women was the first classic I ever read, after reading the story about how Jo got her hair cut to furnish her mother with some extra money in a school text book. I literally begged my mother to get the book for me at the Scholastic Book Fair. I remember writing essays and letters and my diary in Louisa May Alcott's style of writing, because I'd read it so many times over - reading it again as soon as I'd finished. Heck, I'd quote from the book in casual conversations with people. I remember feeling like clumsy Jo who had a hard time handling her crush on Laurie when I was dealing with my first crush. I also remember listing Josephine March as my favorite person in the world in people's slam books. As I grew up, I continued falling in love with a lot of fictional characters. I remember sniffing back tears in class, while keeping P.S. I Love You and Love Story hidden under my desk, as people who lost their loved ones to the Grim Reaper. I remember being alone in a new city and reading A Thousand Splendid Suns, it aiding in the process of me growing up. So many books, so many memories.

Ha! Look at me. I started writing today thinking about Lisbeth Salander, but I guess I couldn't stop about the rest of them in a few sentences. Each one brings so many thoughts and feelings alive, that its impossible to wrap up short. Salander. Oh. My. God. Mostly, all my favorite heroines are those who are independent, courageous women who are happy with a partner, but equally great alone. Jo goes through life alone, grieving over Beth, struggling with guilt, but strong as ever. Holly loses the love of her life, but she not only survives, but "gets by with a little help from her friends". Mariam. Laila. Caroline. Tessa. Cleopatra. All wonderful women who have left an indelible mark on my attitude. But Lisbeth Salander. I hope and pray to the high heavens that there are MANY Lisbeths out there, who bring their situations under control, all by themselves. Ones who tattoo old perverts who take advantage of the physically weaker. Ones who are armed with a taser and mace spray and go into combat without batting an eyelid. Women who would not let their physical structure get in the way of their will. Lisbeth is diminutive. Tiny, even. And yet, when she strikes, she burns you to the ground. She crushes her gigantic half-brother and her abusive father to powder. She's somebody who has faced manhandling and has been a victim of all kinds of abuse ever since she was a child. But she has learnt to attack. Despite her rocky exterior, she falls in love with Blomsvist, which turns out to be unrequited and she just walks away. No fits, no tantrums. The more I talk about her, the more she awes me. The woman is my hero. 

I'm no feminist. I'm all for equality of the sexes, but sometimes, everyone needs someone. A woman needs a man as much as he needs her. While we all date a couple of douchebags at some point in our lives, finding the one during our lifetime is as essential as anything else. But these women worked around all the spitballs that life threw at them and came out victorious. They all found happiness, sooner or later, but were heroes in spite of it. As a reader who's fallen in love with these characters for an eternity, I urge people to read all of these delectable pieces of literature. They'll leave a mark on your lives as much as they have on mine.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Bidding Adieu

I stood at the middle of my drawing room, tears piercing the back of my eyes, threatening to tear my ego apart and come rolling down.Why did each goodbye have to be this haranguing? I mean, I've been saying a lot of goodbyes in the past year. The time to say goodbye comes even before I'm done basking in the glory of the 'Hello'. You see, I'm a toughie. You could say so, I guess. I'll cry my eyes out when reading a book, or at a movie, but never when I'm in a two-person situation. Crying when saying goodbye? It's sitting there, right next to impossible.
I saw him leave, inevitable, obviously. He stayed as long as he could, and then he couldn't, anymore. Everybody has his/her life's work and I understand that we need to keep doing it to keep our sanity. I have two choices from here on out : I can sit and cry after he leaves (which I briefly did) or I can grab a tissue and get on with my life's work. While I sit tight and wait for the tears to fall when I'm comfortable in my loneliness, I decide I'm going to take the separation positively. I swear to myself that I will resume working out, eat healthy, and watch the obscene number of films that I've been procrastinating to watch for the past year. Of course, I slip more times than I stand up. Instead of working out, I sit like a chimp and spoon clumps of processed cheese into my mouth. Instead of watching the new, un-watched films, I do a rerun of F.R.I.E.N.D.S and laugh hysterically, and watch The Fault in Our Stars, and cry like Augustus Waters was my boyfriend. But, this too will pass. It'll be morning again tomorrow, and I think I'll do the twenty prescribed Suryanamaskars. When I'm done however, I'll drink some water, eat some cheese and watch those films.
Goodbyes are pathetic. Hearing them, and not hearing them are equally unpleasant. The worst thing is to not deal with the reality, and that is this: "What goes around comes around". There will always be, repeat after me, a better time.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Tailormade in Heaven

For a long time in my life, I had always been let down by people whom I knew as friends. I made new ones, the older ones left - for good. My paranoia had reached unnatural heights, so bad that I never trusted anyone I met. To me, they were all going to go away, soon. Acquaintances, not friends, I used to remind myself.
Ironically, this was the time the best relationships I've made in this life, blossomed. Quickly, I had found friends in three other weirdos who didn't fit in everywhere they went. There were more people who were wary of us than those who were nice to us. After a few turf wars (Girls' College, politics bound to perchance), we'd charted our territory. We were inseparable. From cracking the dirtiest of jokes in class to being the only people to not know the starting time of an exam (people hated us :P ), we did it all. The best dreams end the earliest, I guess. We were separated after one and a half measly years of togetherness, Fate be blamed. God knows I wanted to spend an eternity with these lovely people. No, I didn't lose my girlfriends to girl-ego fights. It was a sheer twist of events that took it away from us. While I've had my share of bad, nay rotten, luck when it came to friends, I've had some amazing luck too.
We consider ourselves lucky if we get to meet once each year. Often, when one of us falls asleep early, she's woken with 200 unread messages on the WhatsApp group we're part of.
While most of us have a lot of friends, we're lucky if we find just one who will literally give an arm for us. I have three.

(P.S: Love is too small a word to describe what I feel for you three. We'll wait for the English Language to evolve, girls.)