What if the afterlife is an actual place where every act of kindness or cruelty you ever committed is handed back to you?

Would you call it heaven or hell?

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 Musings


“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, 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


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, Musings

House Of Cards

My father has always been a rather distant entity in my life. Always there, but never really. I’ve never exactly been petted by him, as is the case with most fathers in the Indian scenario. But two things that I hold fast to my heart till date are cards and carroms – games I shared with him, and those he excelled at.

It was pure joy to watch him deal a hand, shuffling them this way and that, and even more so for a child. He is a leftie which was unique itself then – the way he held his deck and flung them out in triumph. We’d sit in a circle, Father, his friends, their kids and I, and we’d play for hours even as our mothers chided us in the background. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him lose; he was great at cheating even. And carrom! He would always make the first strike, hitting the coins exactly at that sweet spot that never revealed itself to me even after years of persistent practice; I can still recall the awe I’d feel when he sent coins flying in four directions with that single strike, bagging four coins at once. Two blacks and two whites. And of course, the red queen would land in his lap in no time.

He had a drinking problem, and managed to gamble away a lot of money. As time went on, responsibilities and liabilities grew and Father quietened down. I cannot ascertain if the change was abrupt or gradual.. He refused to play with us anymore even when we pleaded. Maybe one round of rummy once in a while, but then those too stopped. Even as the drinking came down and he started getting a hold on his life, he was not the same fun person he used to be, and I do remember that I often wished he’d just drink, just so he’d look happy. The cards lay unused and gradually disappeared in the way things do, and the carrom board came to life infrequently when I had a random cousin or friend come over. Cracks developed on the board and the wood pealed at places and it was quietly put away. I too grew up.

A few days ago, some friends came together and organised a little party for Christmas on the roof of their house. Someone brought along a few decks of cards, and as I spread my share in my hand after more than a decade, I was reminded of the rare laughter and fun and frolic that I shared with Father. Fragile times. A huff and a puff and it all fell down. My childhood really was a house of cards.

When I left the party, I held on to a deck and took it back with me. For home.

Posted in Musings


I am bound by walls  and chained by prejudices of my own making.

The weight upon my wings is not a storm but a sigh; the blemish on my face not a scar but a tear that I refuse to wipe away.

I pull a shroud upon my features and hide from the sun, not knowing that the fire I fear is burning me from within. That the hot breaths scald not my skin but my soul.

I search for paths, riddled ways away from home and yet cower in the shadows when the winds whistles to say it’s time. Never ready. Not now, not ever – for I am not a girl yet to come of age and learn of the world but a woman who makes a mockery of herself hailing change and recklessness and that touch of infinity on the sly, and still end up yearning for approval and compassion.

I reach for the skies and fall to ground.

No, I am not free.

For I refuse to be.

Posted in Anecdotes, Musings


“Take care of yourself. You’re very important.”

That is what SV said as our conversation drew to a close. I had been rambling on for an hour about how horrible I felt lately, how the signs of depression seemed to be returning at a crucial point in my life. It felt good to vent to him; it always did. He always knew what to say.

And yet it’s those last words that really made a difference. He did not personalise it, did not smother the letters with a show of care; no ‘you’re important to me’ or ‘us’. Just important. Like an open ending to be interpreted as one wished, as if the whole world hid silently behind that last syllable. That my existence had a value that cannot be quantified by sheer numbers of aquientances, that maybe it extended to realms that I did not truly fathom.

I felt a ray of sunshine trickling in.

Posted in Musings

Wounded Healers 

“When Parvaneh gives him a look studded with a long line of question marks and exclamation marks, the doctor sighs again in that way young doctors with glasses and plastic slippers and a stick up their bottom often do when confronted by people who do not even have the common bloody decency to attend medical school before they come to the hospital.”

This one sentence amused me more than anything else in the wonderful novel ‘A Man Called Ove‘ by Fredrik Backman. It has everything to do with the fact that on multiple occasions, I too have been that very young doctor (sans glasses) with a stick up my bottom who grows exasperated when the illiterate patients in front of me can’t comprehend the complications of a cerebrovascular accident or even pyelonephritis. Of course, the frustration was always fueled not so much by their ignorance as my incompetence in making them understand. But what truly amazed me on reading this was the realization that this phenomenon is not localized to our part of the world, with our overcrowded public hospitals and overburdened health system; that this is indeed a global phenomenon!

I remember my mother once warning me about how people go into medical school as humans and come out as robots, hardened by exposure and oblivious to common suffering. I looked at her then skeptically, but I realize it’s true – somewhere between dissecting cadavers and running around sleepless writing endless case notes, our souls crack from numbness; when frustration mounts it enlarges to a chasm that separates empathy from the methodological, the functional. And easily enough everything starts irritating us. ‘Wounded healers’.. the term stays with me a decade after reading Erich Segal’s Doctors. 

Rising violence against doctors in India is a direct outcome of the same. Patients no longer lie docile when shows of irritation are meted out. Miscommunication is no longer pardonable. Time and again, the newspapers are filled with tales of health providers being manhandled for what is perceived as inadequate treatment. It is in times such as these that I pat myself on the back for opting to specialize in a non-clinical subject.

Neither side is to blame, really. It’s always lack of proper communication. Here’s hoping that both parties soon learn to empathize with the other’s plight in the future. Only then can we expect the untoward incidents to show a descending trend.