Posted in Musings

To 2016 With Love

You gave me the courage to quit my first real job.

Yes, it was a temporary job anyway, but I learnt an important lesson from that one experience – that money can simply not be an incentive for me to put up with a horrible work environment. The place was isolated and filled with people whose primary occupation was talking about each other behind each other’s backs. Granted, I made a couple (only a couple!) of good acquaintances but it was hell and I am glad that I got out when I could.

You gave me my second job.

Seven months in heaven. The change was so drastic, it hit me like warm sunshine after a frigid night out in the street. Everyone was friendly and I felt right at home. I met some great doctors who taught me quite a lot, and my confidence received a major boost in the process. It also gave me the financial support that I direly needed. I am so happy it happened and thankful for everyone I came across there. Tiruvalla shall always remain a fond memory.

You taught me some hard truths about love.

You showed me fairy tales exist, and that they don’t necessarily end in a happily ever after. That everything you’ve ever wanted may not be what you truly needed. That being ready to fight for something does not mean that the battle gets any easier. That sometimes letting go is the best thing you can do for someone you care about, even if they don’t know it just yet.

You let me get back on track.

I had not been the best student at college. In school I was known to be studious, the nerd invisible but for her grades, and in college I was anything but that. I flourished under new found attention and was perpetually involved in a myriad of activities – dances, sports, the works. Time flew and I earned some cheap trophies and poor grades along the way. This year I finally redeemed myself. Although the results are not yet out, I can proudly say I did my best.

You created Ilakkiyaa, the writer.

At the end of high school, everyone passes around little books for friends to fill in. Nickname, Birthday, Favorite things, What do you want to be… That last question always had me stumped. I had never been ambitious and no profession ever beckoned to me so to speak. Everyone always assumed I’d turn into a doctor due to my grades, but it never was my passion. I remember filling in the words in a friend’s slam book with a trembling heart, unsure about whether it would come true or whether it was something I was capable of or even allowed to dream of; I want to be a writer..

That girl grew up and forgot all about her dreams as the real world caught up. She wrote notes and assignments and drew anatomy figures. She danced and sang and made merry. The pages of her diary were forsaken, and her slender fingers stopped penning poetry. But you brought her back, drove her to wield her quill again with a flourish. I am no author yet, but you made me write again, and to write is to be myself, to be alive. Thank you for making me remember, for helping me breathe again.

I’ll miss you.

Posted in SYW

Share Your World – 2016 Week 52

My answers for Cee’s last SYW challenge of the year

What’s your favorite ice cream flavor? This has less to do with my taste buds and more to do with my love for animation. Oswald was one of the shows I watched as a kid, and I distinctly remember an episode where Oswald gets a black current cone from the Vendor Snowman. At the time the only flavors I had been exposed to were the classics – vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and so forth. I was so in awe of the purple colored exotic flavor that it stole my heart even before the first time I tasted it years later. All my friends think it tastes like cough medicine but to me it tastes like a childhood fantasy.

If you were to treat yourself to the “finer things” what would you treat yourself to? A ride on the Maharaja Express. I came to know of its existence after reading Around India In 80 Trains by Monisha Rajesh. A delightful travelogue, it talked about said train among others and intrigued me enough to investigate further. Winner of World’s Best Luxury Train for 4 consecutive years, the fares for all packages are priced at thousands of dollars. I realize I will never part with money on something so ostentatious, but then again I’ve got my fingers crossed. In case I win a lottery some day, I’m gonna see what the fuss is about.

Have you ever been drunk? Nope, and I don’t intend to. I like to be in control of my senses. I get into enough trouble talking in my sleep anyway.

My favorite supposedly guilty pleasure is.. Black Forest cakes. I do not have a sweet tooth, and I try to eat healthily as much as I can, but if there is one thing I cannot pass up on, its a helping of Black Forest. I have even gone as far as having half a kilogram of cake by myself in one sitting!

What are you grateful from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? My friends and I got together for an absolutely amazing day prior to Christmas. It was a struggle to make it work, what with work schedules and other holiday plans and I am so thankful we got to do it. We had a great time together in Idukki that culminated at sunset atop Mount Calvary. As for the next week, I look forward to the new year of course. A new diary, a new calendar, a new tale.




Posted in Anecdotes

Book Binge

A slightly overdue post in response to a Daily Post Prompt.

Around 15 years ago, I came to know of an offer that a certain bookshop/publishing house in Kerala decided to put forth in order to promote reading and attract customers on the side. An initial deposit of 1000/3000 rupees would make you a Silver/Gold member respectively of a so called book club for a period of four years during which you were entitled to a certain number of free books and discounts on all the others. And the best part was, the money got refunded after the period expired!

Being a voracious reader and neurotic book collector with limited allowances, it seemed like a dream come true. I became a Gold card holder and went on to renew my tenure after every 4 years, walking away with my choice of paperbacks every time with my wallet none the worse for it. It was quite a happy affair.

Yesterday when I went over to collect my bounty for the year, they gave me the grave news. After all these years, it had suddenly come to their notice that giving away books for free without any monetary benefit whatsoever was not really a good marketing strategy. The whole selfless Book Club idea had been put to rest and a simple discount plan introduced. So I would be required to close my account prematurely. And instead of the money getting refunded, I would get free books for that amount too. Plus the interest drawn up over the years. Plus the yearly lot. The whole thing came up to 4400 rupees (around 70 dollars)!

Needless to say, the next one hour was spent running around the store in euphoric mania, rummaging the shelves in a frenzy. My yearly purchases are usually well thought out and heavily influenced by reviews on goodreads, but with the princely sum at my disposal to squander as I wished, the spendthrift in me ran amok, piling my cart high with fanciful jackets and unread authors. I felt rich enough to be benevolent and even bought an overpriced collection of fairy tales for my niece.

It was a very happy day indeed. I am sitting amidst my spoils now, wondering what to read first.

My Bounty


Posted in Verses

At Crossroads 

At crossroads we met

Weary of solitude

Having trudged long days

On our own forlorn paths.

I saw you across the road

A mirage, a dream long fostered

Of laughter and love,

And you saw me

A mirage, a wildflower,

A haven for your heart.

Briefly we dwelled

In the solace of illusions

Under the summer sun

Red blossoms and green shade,

Whistling to the wind

In each other’s arms

Souls adrift

In breezy gaity;

Briefly we dwelled

In each other’s dreams.

Twilight set in,

Two shadows parted

With stars singing

Quiet requiems for the passing light

As the twinning roads

Again took us

On our lone journeys home.

Posted in Musings

A Craving For Tasteful Movies

I am increasingly drawn to biopics now. Ennu Ninte Moideen (Yours truly, Moideen), a 2015 release based on the love legacy of a Muslim boy and a Hindu girl from Kerala in the 1960s featured on television yesterday. It had been both critically acclaimed and commercially successful (a rare combination in today’s world) but I had put off watching it because of the tragic story line. The epic tale of Moideen and Kanchanamala, with plot twists and heartening moments surpassing fantasy, inspires and shatters us in a way Romeo And Juliet never can, having been lived in flesh and blood in all its wretched glory.

Movie poster of Ennu Ninte Moideen with photos of Moideen and Kanchanamala on the left side

I have been lucky enough to grow up, movie wise, under the artful eye of an uncle who frowns severely upon commercial flicks. His disdain for mediocre screenplays and direction borders on condescension, a trait that he has, to a degree, managed to pass on to me. He would cringe at the sight of romantic comedies and action packed thrillers and with the air of a savior tell me, “Let me introduce you to some tasteful films”. And he did indeed. He lent me CDs from his sprawling collection during weekends and summer vacations and under his guidance I thrived, feasting my eyes and mind on the likes of The Sound Of Music (which I watched so many times I ended up learning all the songs and most of the script by heart), Children Of Heaven, Life Is Beautiful, The Bicycle Thief, 12 Angry Men and Pather Panchali among others.

The movies on my hard drive today are a reflection of the same. Numerous times, friends of mine have gone through my collections with chagrin, unable to find anything conventional (read pertaining to traditional tags of romance, action and comedy) in them. My uncle in contrast beamed with pride at finding It’s A Wonderful Life, The Artist and Psycho on my list of favorites.

It pains me to see exemplary films failing to make a mark at the box office while worthless ones that are a disgrace to the art make millions. I accompanied my uncle to watch the debut of acclaimed director Anjali Menon, Manjaadikuru (Lucky Red Seeds) which won multiple awards at film festivals around the world and yet opened to near-empty theaters back home. I remember looking around at the empty seats once the movie ended and wondering how the crowds managed to miss out on such a gem. Masaan is another such movie, the directorial debut of Neeraj Ghaywan that bagged two awards at 2015 Cannes Film Festival and still failed to make an impact here, thanks to the public’s aversion to realistic plot lines.


The one thing that can accentuate the innate splendor of fine movie making is the plot being biographical. This is a realm that is slowly but surely beginning to descend upon Indian cinema. Some truly amazing stories have been brought to light in recent years. Manjhi, the Mountain Man, Neerja, Mary Kom, and the upcoming Dangal, to name some of them, are tributes to some of the greatest heroes out there, who are proof that inspiration need not necessarily stem from fables and that when it comes to certain people, fact can truly prove more astonishing than fiction. Here’s hoping that more of the same come our way in 2017.

Posted in Verses

Time Traveller

Every night before I sleep

I travel back in time,

Relive the days spent by your side

And erase them one by one

Filling in a new story

Less haunting

In its place.

That first phone call


So I don’t lose myself

In your mellow voice

And late night lullabies;

Your offer for that first ride home


I’d rather take the cab

Lest I should miss your shoulder

On long drives;

I blot out the way your one hand

Glided over the steering wheel

While the other held mine in secrecy,

Filling in instead dreary rides

Under lusterless skies,

And keep hidden behind the dark clouds

Sun rays and larks and smiles;

I paint the passing fields brown

Over the luscious greens

And scrawl over the chatter

Till all is but white noise

I go over each halcyon day

Undoing the treasured past

And return a weary traveller

With less memories to forget.


Posted in Verses

Bleeding Ink

Words fall back from the tip of my tongue


Choking me.

Scrambled letters

An ode to the chaotic madness

That are my thoughts.

I need to write, write

Write on

Till I grow lightheaded

With verses spurting out,

Bloody utterances drenching the white sheets

Of sanity

Often draped over the wounded soul

Ever so carefully

So the gaps do not show.

The ink seeps through

And I stand, a blur of red and black,


And free.