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Posted in Musings

Nirvana

Catharsis is Nirvana.

Cave drawings. Parchments heavy with emotion. Journals soaked in pale ink and vivid memories. An envelope braving the world in search of another. Splashes of paint rebelling against grey walls.

Black letters on a white screen spilling from my fingertips.

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Posted in Musings

Change

As always, another self-centered rant.

Introspection.

Change.

Do I like change?? As an escapist, I welcome it. As an emotional wreck, I despise it. The revelation of the multitudes of meaning the single word has for me makes my sanity come undone; bares open the wounds that years of internal conflicts have wrought upon my mind – those never ending battles between thoughts of my own; I am the saviour and the enemy, I am the fleets of marching infantry and the crowds cowering at their feet.

I prefer to run away when all world seems to be collapsing around me – nightmarish reality or just a nightmare? – and I embrace the wild winds tussling my hair, heading to a new horizon, a new cliff, a new ANYWHERE.. just so I wouldn’t have to stand by and be engulfed by the earth I stand on.

And yet, I shed tears when it’s time to say goodbye, when the grounds and walls do not shake for me, but for someone else – and parting becomes not about wild winds but a tornado shaking my core and tearing me apart.

They say change is inevitable, parting is too, but never how the moments leading up till then seem to sum up to a contorted melee of emotions, memories and vagrant thoughts, sweet moments that one never ever thinks of treasuring past the prosaic milieu of scattered laughs and photographs that dissipate like the occasional cool breeze of a summer siesta.

You wake up to the harsh still air and wonder if it was all a dream.

Was it?

 

Posted in Musings

The Invisible Line

I bought my copy of The Help by Kathryn Stockett at a large book fest last year. The stall offered any 3 books for Rs. 200 which was cheap by any standards. While scrambling for good ones from piles of mostly trash, I found this one. The cover page looked interesting and the title seemed oddly familiar. It was three days ago that I noticed the untouched book tucked into the shelf and decided to give it a go.

It was a revelation.

For one, the setting – the 1960s; only 3 decades before I was born. Whenever I watch a Hollywood movie that features ‘coloured help’, be it Django Unchained or The Notebook, I’d somehow always imagine the story unfolding in the far distant past, the 1800s perhaps. Even when I was nearly halfway through the book I was under the impression it was happening some time yonder. That such racist laws existed so close to the present was definitely a little unnerving.

But a greater shock, one I never ever anticipated, was how much I could relate to this story from another continent. The only dissimilarity would be the fact that, in our case, we were all coloured.

Growing up in a quasi-aristocratic family in rural Kerala, we had our share of servants and labourers working for us both at home and on the fields, some of them migrants from the neighbouring state. We were all shades of brown, but they were different – I know they were never abused, but there was definitely a divide, a line of separation that I painfully realize still exists. But I suppose I was never fully aware of it till now. When I read the conversation about coloured bathrooms in the first chapter, I was warily aware of some recent memories that had started playing in my mind…

“Unbelievable!”, exclaimed a relative, pointing out the flaws in her brother’s new house, “An awful lot of money they spent on this place, with all these useless rooms inside, and they didn’t even have the common sense to build a servant bathroom…!”

“Do you know what their new maid does? After cooking, she takes her share and eats it before the family does… technically that means they are eating her leftovers. If it were me, I’d fire her right away! Such audacity!!”

I didn’t think much about these comments then, although I remember finding the first one somewhat logical and the second mildly disconcerting, but now I am left wondering more than ever.

My family per se, constituting Father, Mother and I, was not exactly rich, thanks to my father’s prodigal ways, but all our relatives were. So while they had multiple cooks and maids at home, Mother just had one, and only after I was born. This was the early 90s and most of the mechanized household equipment had not made its way to our rural hamlet. Laundry is anything but a piece of cake with a perpetually pooping creature at home (diapers were unheard of). So, it came to be that Mrs AA was welcomed with open arms into our home. She figures in all my childhood memories and was an integral part until she moved in with her daughter in another town when I was in high school.

I don’t think we ever explicitly discriminated against her, and indeed Father and Mother aided her a lot financially and emotionally, helping her deal with her daughter’s education and her son’s drug abuse, but there was an invisible line drawn somewhere. I believe she was even more aware of this than we were. I vividly remember how she absolutely refused to sit on chairs… not even the plastic chairs that the servants usually used (wooden furniture was always reserved for family alone), and sat on the floor of the hall while we sat at the table. It was quite a normal phenomenon to pass on old clothes to her and her kin; and these were of course gratefully accepted. The class divide was such. And the bathroom. Our house did not have even a guest bathroom, just the two attached to the two bedrooms. I asked Mother yesterday which one Mrs AA used during her time with us.

“Well..”, Mother paused thinking, visibly bewildered by this question out of the blue, “she was only here during the daytime..”

It was obvious this was something she had never really given a thought to.

“Yes, but what if she needed to use the bathroom in the daytime?”, I persisted.

“I suppose she must have done it in the backyard somewhere”

At a time when even women’s rights were a novel entity, it is not surprising that no one might have given a thought about the needs of a maid.

But when I look at this phenomenon after blurring out the distinctions in class, colour and race, I realize out it all boils down to is convenience and egoistic altercations. If I were to raise the issue with anyone, it’d be less of a debate and more of a discussion culminating in but-this-is-how-it-has-always-been and is-it-not-better-this-way… and maybe even a glimpse of the other spectrum of thought where rigid pseudo-realists call for the line of division to cater to a vague sense of discipline. And this extends across all fields, this phobia of chaos, this rapacious need to submit to order; be it a new army recruit, a new intern at work or a college freshman, the first thing you do is teach them their place. Somewhere in the maze, the components of respect and inherent integrity are forgotten and servility takes an upper hand.

It would seem that the apparently invisible line is quite vivid still.

Posted in Verses

I Float

I float.

Flowing with the current,

Hitting against the banks

The shrubs

The low lying branches

And move on

Bruised and bleeding…

Will I too wash along the shore one day?

To sediment

Amongst the filth

Of inadequacy, ineptitude

A lifetime of ignorant delinquency

Marked by sloth

Misdirection

Tangy blues…

Or emerge miraculously

At the horizon

Riding the rays

Of the setting sun

As I glimmer alongside…

I know not.

Maybe one day I

Will not be

A dead weight for this stream

But today

I can’t help

But float…

Posted in Verses

The Proposal

“Come away with me, love

Marry me..?”

Barely above a whisper

But the words rang clear

I looked down

Cheeks flushed

Ears burning

Heart thumping

Rage pumping

Indignation coursing

Through flesh and blood;

Complacency a woman’s virtue

They taught

Turn your back, ignore

They said

And I follow suit

Cheeks flushed

Ears burning

And eyes downcast

Even as the comments

Continue to rise

From the lewd mouth

Of a migrant

Selling cheap shades on the street,

Daunting,

Flaunting

His rights as a man

Over me,

As I walk away

Livid

But complacent

As taught.

Posted in Musings

The Existential Crisis Of An Overthinking Feminist

I have been married for a little over two months now, and a very unique problem has presented itself to me. I am lost, figuratively.

A little context.

I identify myself as a feminist in all its gore and glory, sharing religiously the links of uplifting poetry recitals, picking up arguments defending the new-born genre of women-centred movies and taking sermons as and when needed on how the society is ridden with casual instances of gender inequality and misogyny that are so rampant and commonplace that they are not even noticed. I even teared up after watching Nanette. (Brilliant piece of work, if I may digress. Stop reading and watch it NOW. Okay wait, read this, hit like and then watch it. It’s all the same. *shrug*)

So, I’m a feminist. What’s the issue you ask? The issue, dear folks, is that Mr Beloved, in spite of all his million virtues is a tad sexist. He expects me to cook, do the dishes and clean the house. And I have a problem with that.

(Disclaimer: Those of you who know me better may contest that the whole feminist angle is a facade to cover up for my inherent laziness, but I’d like you (yes YOU) to keep your thoughts to yourself.)

So what was I saying? Yes, so the whole housekeeping business. I like the idea of getting credit for keeping the house spotless and revelling in the exclamations made by colleagues (who have incidentally known the erstwhile slobby me) when they realize I don’t have a maid, and I do enjoy the privilege of having that as a legitimate reason for why works allotted to me are not done on time, but somewhere deep down in my psyche, I have a fundamentally philosophical worry that I am somehow being sucked into the vortex of an ideological irony. It’s matter of principle, don’t you see?

And adding to this conundrum are three other aspects of reality, so to speak.

One is that Mr Beloved is not resting his legs on the coffee table as I struggle to scrape grease off the frying pan; he is a final year resident in Internal Medicine with 80-hour weeks and no holidays. I have a 9-to-5 work pattern and Sundays off. He feels that it is a good enough reason to shirk housework, and I largely give in except when said grease gets on my nerves.

Secondly, there is the idea of ‘compromise’. Any commentary  on successful marriages would talk about how differences should be dealt with care and love and trivialities should be set aside from becoming a major talking point. Sure. Easier said than done. You know who creates nagging wives? Husbands who do not understand the concept of why a cloth-stand is called a cloth-stand and a laundry basket a laundry basket.

(Okay. Breathe in… breathe out… and again…)

So, where we were?

Ah yes. The third and most distressing aspect is the quintessential nature of womanhood that of late seems to form the driving force and excuse for celebrating Women’s Day. Take any WhatsApp message forwarded (or perhaps broadcasted??) by that well-meaning friend who you don’t know the surname of. “Here’s to all the strong, ambitious, compassionate, selfless, caring, giving, patient, understanding, ..*a hundred odd adjectives later* women in my life.. You guys rock!!”. A compliment? Or a trap? If femininity is linked to being all that, am I being an unworthy woman by pointing out that I need a break? Is being a racy feminist undermining the very values that I am supposedly upholding?? In what universe are selfless and ambitious co-existent properties?? Sure, throw all that at us periodically and then proclaim women are complicated. *passive aggressive eye-roll*

So friends and foes, I set forth the dilemma that has engulfed my sanity in recent days. To clean or not to clean. To fem or not to fem.

What does it really mean to be a feminist, really?

 

 

 

Posted in Verses

Your Light

The sun

Is but a flicker

Against your light;

Your shine knows no twilight

Your smile no dearth

Of charm,

Nor your eyes,

Chasms of radiance..

Let’s dance 

Like the prismatic hues

That engulf me

Enrapture me

As you glance,

Sideways, with the hint of a dimple

On your cheeks 

Mischief on your lips,

And flames in your heart

To warm me;

Yes embrace,

And let me flower

In your light..

Posted in Musings

Want

“What do we want to want?”

Amigo SV’s WhatsApp status intercepted an already spiraling flow of thoughts that had been on my mind for the last couple of days. I frequently tell Mr Beloved that the two of us are probably the most boring people in the town – while residents and tourists alike make a beeline for the many MANY fancy restos and pubs in this erstwhile French colony, our dinner plans go something like this –

“Where shall we eat?”

“Your call”

“You tell me”

“Depends on what you want. Pasta? Pizza? Chinese?”

“Something light”

“You just want dosa, right?”

“Yeah”

“Yeah, me too”

And we head to Surguru.

Every time.

Okay,  not every time, but enough times to justify the term.

Pondicherry is such a happening place (compared to most other parts of India), there are parties all the time, and fests and theatre and whatnot, but apart from that initial excited phase of actually landing here, I’ve not really explored further. Heck, I barely come to know what is going on around to even contemplate being a part of any of it. And when I do, it is all get excited, make plans, maybe next time, repeat.

Saturday happened to be Bastille Day, the celebration of the French Revolution and it is celebrated with gusto here as well. For the first time, we actually managed to drag our reluctant bottoms to White Town to track down a band playing, but we gave out at the doorsteps of the bar and headed to an overpriced restaurant with a fancy name and moderately pathetic food and headed home. The next day greeted me with ardently patriotic status updates of a Pondicherrian with photos of the previous night’s midnight pyrotechnics. Sunday saw the Rock Beach set up with a giant screen to watch the World Cup finale between France and Croatia and spilling over with the entire population of Pondy sans yours truly.

Now, I am no fan of crowds and commotion, but that must have been fun. Oh well.

Am I turning into a boring middle aged woman? Wait, have I always been a boring middle aged woman?? Possible. The thing is, I have come to realize that my general lack of mad energy, and enthusiasm and intrinsic laziness concern me only when I realize everyone around me seems to be having a gala time doing all this. I’ve spent half my life coveting people’s zest for life and the innumerable adventures they seem to be having as a result of it. The travels, the spoils, the tales. They seem to be getting so much out of life. I have always wanted it. But lately I’ve wondered, do I really?? Sure, they look happy, but I am happy as well.. right? The sense of emptiness that sprouts in me is seeded in the fulfilment I see in others, not a reflection of my lack of it.

Maybe, all these years, I’ve just wanted to want all that. And once that is cut out, perhaps fulfillment is also found in a quiet dinner with someone you love, as long as your eyes stay on your plate.

Posted in Musings

Survival

I suppose I write to keep myself sane. Everything makes sense; things fall into place. Not like the hazy words that frame my mind and the random sentences that crop up without reason – they are like hailstones that hurt and obscure. They rain on me every now and then, and I try to keep up, I do, trying to decipher them before they hit the ground and melt into oblivion. But I fail. That is why I write.

I write so I can force them to come together, bound by the rigid rules of grammar and punctuation, come under scrutiny and direction, so I can stop the never ending tip-tap, tip-tap, the chatter that never breaks.

And when I don’t, when I can’t bring myself to rein them, they seep down into the very core  of my being and turn into a murky moor that engulfs me. The quicksand of broken thoughts and emotions suck me in.

But wait.

There is hope yet.

I sit down and throw my soul a length of rope, crafted with syllables, strengthened with the bold strokes of allegories, similes and rhymes. A string, a song, a story.

I survive.

Till next time.

Posted in Anecdotes

Waterproof

I recently discovered that my regular eyeliner is a waste of time compared to the costly gel variant. The lady behind the Maybelline counter was quick to get to work on my eyes with a dexterity achieved by years of customer service and the result, I’ve got to say, is impressive.

But would I be able to recreate the same?

Questionable. 

But then it’s waterproof, so I figured I’ll just not wash my face again. 

😎