Posted in Anecdotes

Playing Dead a.k.a Am I Really Right In The Head..?

I play dead. I wonder if it’s something people do in general, or just a habit of mine.

What I mean to say is, I pretend to sleep or be unconscious when I feel like it. Or rather, when I don’t feel like it – when I don’t feel like getting up, or talking to people, or facing certain situations. I close my eyes and will the world to leave me alone.

When I think about it, I guess it mostly happens when there is an impending social interaction that I’m too tired/lazy to be a part of. Sometimes at home, sometimes while visiting other people. And it’s rarely ever premeditated. I might be resting on the bed when I hear someone coming in to call me and then pause. They’d call my name softly, but I wouldn’t budge. I’d make my eyes stay where they are, make my breathing even, and sometimes turn over to a more comfortable posture as if I’m simply tossing in my dreams. I’d listen intently to the hushed voice of my mother telling the relative that I seem to be asleep, and then the door closing softly behind them. I don’t break the act. I lie there awake, with my eyes closed, for as long as I feel like – usually till after the visitors bid boisterous goodbyes and their car drives away.

Some people are persistant. They suspect you’re fooling them, and keep trying to wake you up. I’d pretend not to hear my name till 4 or 5 times. I’d subtly bite the inside of my cheeks to prevent myself from smiling. The right approach in such cases is to half-open one’s eyes and shoot a grumpy look along with a groggy “whaaaat”, or “leave me alone” or, the winner “string-of-illegible-syllables-delivered-with-a-side-of-groans” and finish oft by turning to the other side and non-chalantly shutting those beauties again. Utmost care has to be taken that any utterance comes out in a slur with deep baritones.

Bonus tip: the groggy-groan phrases work well when you’re dealing with phone calls from people too.

So that’s sleep. Pretending to be unconscious is a whole different ball game altogether. The following stunts are performed by a manic professional; please do not try them at home.

I have done it twice. I think I was around 10 years both times, or perhaps just a tad younger. The first time I was at the town hall at the vaccination camp to get my tetanus shot. They gave every child a candy before getting the shot. The smell of hospitals and spirit always made me queasy (funny how that worked out career-wise) and I’ve always hated needles. I get the shot, feel nauseated and kind of melt into a lump on the floor. I’m alright in approximately two seconds, but by then my uncle has picked me up and put me over his shoulder, heading to the doctor in charge. I lie quietly with my body perfectly limp, and as I relax my hands to make them seem more realistically ‘limper’, the candy slips out of my fist. I hear the distinct sound of the wrapper hitting the busy floor, but now I’m in too deep to break character. I get placed on a table, a doctor checks my vitals, and decides I seem to be alright. Till date, I feel for two things – not knowing whether the doctor bought my little act, and the fact that I lost a perfectly good candy and had to look on as my cousin sucked on his.

The second time was in class. Math teachers pulled this clever trick where they would write a sum on the board for us to do, and the first few to finish them get a tick mark on their notebooks with THE RED PEN. It was such an honour, and it was often quite an aggressive competition. So a random day, she gives us sums, I hastily complete mine and rush over to her desk to get the tick mark. In my excitement, I fail to notice a bag that lies across the path, trips and falls flat on my face.

Now, this is happening bang in the middle of the class. In that split second I’m so embarrassed that I do not feel like getting up and looking at everyone laughing at me. So what do I do? Not get up. I lie on the floor on my face and do not budge. Kids crowd around me, and the teacher runs to pick me up and prop me against the desk. Still nothing. Then I feel the cold sprinkle of some water on my face, and decide it’s time for act 2. I blink, look around, and then blink some more at the worried faces around me. A few more minutes of making sure I don’t have a concussion, and then the show’s over, and the crowd disperses. I avoid eye contact with anyone, and start doing my sums again.

Oh what’s that you say? I’m a drama queen?? I wish I could respond but I’m kind of fast asleep right now, so.

Oh well. Snore, snore.

Posted in Journal

10 Out Of 10000

As part of my work, I’ve been roped in to contribute a dot to a large canvas of research that’s expected to revamp the public health system in the country. I received an email yesterday, asking for a short bio and a photograph to be uploaded to the collaboration’s website. As thrilled as I was about being featured in such a space, having to produce a picture bugged me. I didn’t have any.

Well, I have tons of pictures with friends. In a group, I’m a hoot. I look amazing when there are people around me whose energy I can feed off of. I love being with friends, and that shows in the photographs. You can almost hear the laughter.

So it’s not so much that I hate having my picture taken; I hate having my picture taken when I’m the only one in it and am aware of the fact. There is nothing that discomforts me more than posing for single shots. I get extremely nervous and self-conscious and my smile gets all creepy and fake. Hate it, hate it. Needless to say, photographers had a fairly horrible time at my wedding. I never click selfies either. Of the 10,000 odd photographs in my gallery, there are less than a dozen photographs where I’m the sole object of attention.

It’s quite funny too because I am quite the narcissist. I stare at the mirror and have more than the required level of appreciation for the woman in it. I don’t think I’m ugly; I think photos of me are ugly. And this has been the case for as long as I can remember.


There is a passport size picture of me at 7 or 8 years, long well-oiled hair tied back in the typical Malayali fashion, eyes darkened with kohl, with just the barest of smiles at the corner of my lips. I remember hating that picture, because I always hated my oily long hair. Looking at the black-and-white picture now, I think she looks adorable.

There is another photograph from a couple of years later. I am wearing a red checked sleeveless frock with a white tee-shirt inside, the sole modern outfit among all the dresses I owned at the time. My hair was cut shorter, and I was smiling just a bit more, because I was proud of my dress. When I finally got the print, I remember the dismay that struck me – I had forgotten to hide inside the tee shirt the ritual black thread that I was made to wear around my neck for good fortune. So much for a modern photograph. Now though, I don’t mind the thread so much. I love the innocence in her smile.

The last monochrome passport size picture is from when I was in the 10th grade. I’m in my school uniform, and my hair is braided on either side. I was never very good at braiding, and it always happened that the one on the right would twist 90 degrees once I was done, and no matter what I tried, it would never look symmetrical. My big ears stood out conspicuously. I remember being conscious of the hair and the ears, and wishing I looked more like another classmate, whose picture showed off her silky hair and casual flawless smile. I hold the picture in my hand and struggle to recognise the pale, youthful, fifteen-year-old, and wonder at how small and vulnerable she seemed.

There is a photo of standing against a rock on one of our trips from college. Another picture marred by the skewed stark black thread seen against the clavicles. I was always so fixated on the thread that I never noticed how sweet she looked. On the verge of 20, much too young and innocent.


I look through the gallery and finally find one recent picture that seemed to be fit for submission. I have the institite’s identity tag around my neck. It was taken towards the end of the day by a colleague; my open hair is in a little disarray, and the eyeliner that makes up for my droopy eyes has all but vanished. There is a big toothy smile on my face. My skin looks dark and oily. I put in a subtle filter to make myself look a little better before uploading it.

A few years down the line, I’m sure, I wouldn’t notice my hair or my skin or my bare eyes – all my focus is sure to be on the bright big smile.

Posted in Musings

Broken Branches

“What’s your father?”, ERN asks.

“He’s not much of anything, actually. His primary vocation was drinking with friends and selling off family property so that he could continue drinking with friends”

I was laughing out loud when I typed that, proud of my clever wording and also wondering why I had never used the line before. It was hilarious in the way tragedies tend to be when you’ve given them enough time. Like grapes you crush under your feet that end up making you a little tipsy when you take a sip after ages.

I’ve never particularly liked my father. It could be because of this quality that I have where I try to hold everyone to the same standard. Other than the obvious action of co-creating me (to which I allocated zero brownie points due to aforesaid quality), I could never think of anything impressive about my father that gained my respect. On the other hand, there was ample that I did not care for.

When I think about my childhood, all the stark memories related to him have an undercurrent of negative emotions. One day, he came home very drunk during the day, poured kerosene on our living room floor and threatened to light the house on fire; my mom made me stay at a relative’s place that night, and I burned in humiliation in the knowledge that they knew what went on at home. Once when we visited a small general store that his friend owned, I saw him wink at me and grab a banana when the guy’s back was turned, and I was aghast at the token of dishonesty. I have heard him use casteist slurs and get into physical fights – the sort of thing all other men in our extended family were too sophisticated to do, in public at least. If you tried to set background music to a montage of me growing up, it’d be drowned in drunken fights, laments about mounting loans and the sound of my mother crying.

That being said, there isn’t any dearth in villaneous stories from his childhood – stuff he would recite with some level of smugness even. How he stole money from home and gifted toy pistols to all the boys in his class. How he failed a class on purpose because his friends were bound to fail as well. How he threw such a grand party for his wedding that he ended up with a huge debt that his uncle then had to pay off. I’ve often felt my father is the poster child for the misguided and prodigal youth from rich aristocratic families.

Of course, things are better now. Rather than anger or apathy, I feel sorry for the life he had – losing his mother and a brother very early on, being abandoned by his father to all intents and purposes, being brought up by a terrorising grandfather who never spared the stick – it certainly couldn’t have been easy. But that’s about all I can bring myself to feel – sadness for everything he has been through. Not anything remotely close to love.

I remember S showing me a drawing about inter-generational trauma that I could connect to. My grandmother’s death and grandfather’s subsequent partial abandonment probably has something to do with the bipolar disorder that my father and his sister share, and which, to some extent has percolated down to me. But that is not all that I’ve inherited from him either – there is the penchant for throwing money away, the blunt and undiplomatic comments that are often my undoing, the inadvertent spilling of secrets, the uncanny trust in people, and yes, putting friends before family. Things that weirdly I’ve also come to view with a certain smugness.

As I pen this, I can’t help wondering if I would have been a more sensitive person if my childhood had been different; if this brazen callousness is a second skin that developed to cover up the crude reality of my daily life. But I also wonder if holding him responsible for my shortcomings isn’t an escape on my part. After all, I have my share of happy memories as well.

Is there anyone who isn’t broken in one way or the other?

The last time I was home, Father wanted to cut off the main shoot of our rambuttan tree so that it would grow out closer to the ground, and it’d be easier to harvest the fruits. But Mom was worried that it might never flower or bear fruit again. Apparently that happens sometimes with pruning trees.

Maybe that’s how it is with broken people as well. Everyone learns to sprout and flourish from the chopped ends, and eventually showcase a heavy green canopy, but a few might forget how to truly flower, or may shy away from bearing fruit, for fear of being cut again for it.

Posted in Anecdotes, Musings

Maari

“Off we skip like the most heartless things in the world, which is what children are, but so attractive; and we have an entirely selfish time..”

I do not remember when it was that I came across Peter Pan for the first time; perhaps my vivid memory of being shown the 2003 movie at my school in the 7th grade was the first. I obsessed over it for months or perhaps years; enchanted by the concept of Neverland and never growing up. And when I read somewhere that Sagittarians are known to have ‘Peter Pan Syndrome’, I was elated at the discovery. I divulged to every passer-by my noble intention to never grow up or be an adult. The concepts high-schoolers attach to coolness are strange indeed.

At 29 years old, looking back and recollecting some incidents, I am glad that I grew up. This is going to be a difficult write up, more cathartic than usual, because I am going to talk about things that I had blocked out from my childhood – perhaps because it was inconsequential, and perhaps because I knew that all said and done, I was just being a horrible person. We want childhood to be all about magic and innocence and rarely acknowledge Barrie for his realistic reflections in Peter Pan.

.

Her name was Maari. I remember it distinctly because I was taught the word first by my Malayalam teacher. I remember noting it down, in that little ruled notebook covered neatly in brown paper and with a colourful sticker in front that announced the details of its owner.

Naanarthangal (synonyms)”, she wrote on the board.

Mazha (rain) – maari, varsham

I knew her name must mean something else in Tamil, for she was from an obscure village in Tamil Nadu (I never bothered to find out the name), but it always reminded me of what was taught in class. Rain. And although I would love for someone to be named Rain, surely even myself, I did not want to be called that, as my cousin did at times. He would call me Maari to spite me, and I would be indignant. How could he call me by her name?! Sure, she was all of 10 years like me, and perhaps even the same height and weight, but she was darker, she was illiterate, she was the household help. I did not want to be her namesake.

Looking back, I wonder where my innocence lay. Why I could not accept a girl my age and play with her as I would with a classmate. Why I found it weird that she would be reluctant to approach my cousins and I, and would stick to her mother in the kitchen as far as she could. Why I found it hilarious when my cousin would threaten her with a knife or a pair of scissors or a dummy spider and she would retreat to a corner or squeal like a mouse; why, he was only playing around, wasn’t he? Why was she so scared every time when he really meant no harm at all…!

Perhaps I did not realise that anything can be scary for a 10-year-old living with strangers who speak a different language, because I never had to. Perhaps my entitlement did not allow me to see beyond her skin colour and notice the same fears in her, the same insecurities and the same dreams in her heart as were in mine. Perhaps I was so conditioned to there being two classes of people, masters and servants, that I did not feel the need to question anyone why I went to school and she did not.

I wonder whether I would have been nicer to her if my cousin were not around. Perhaps. Maybe children learn heartlessness from each other, and maybe it is cooler to be cruel than to be nice. And every act of spite eventually gets washed away by our colourful daydreams, and the reality of our childhood becomes that of wonders and laughter and sweet nostalgia.

It has taken me 19 years to come to terms with what I did. I do not know where she is now. All I can do is send my apologies out into the universe, wishing that they would reach another 29 year old woman existing somewhere, a happy place hopefully.

Whenever I come across the question of what I would go back and change, I would always say nothing,. But today, I realise it isn’t true. I wish I could go back and talk to her, be her friend and make her feel welcome. I wish I could go back and have the courage to stand up to my cousin, to tell him to leave her alone. I wish I could go back and tell myself how she and I are the same.

I wish I could go back and make sure that I do not have to write this post with blurry eyes.

Posted in Musings

Pretending To Be A Polyglot

I’ve been fooling myself into calling myself a polyglot for a while, and pretending that I’m somehow better with languages than the average human. The truth is that, barring some scenarios that are more an exception than the norm, you invariably grow up learning two languages in India – Hindi and English. And if you’re from a state where the native spoken language isn’t Hindi, a third one gets added to the list. And if you happen to travel outside your state for educational or occupational purposes, another one jumps on board. Of course, the levels of proficiency in each would vary widely – from a few basic mishapen phrases to fluent speech – depending on your active interest in the matter, but it is in way uncommon to find someone who speaks more than one language.

Speaking for myself, I was tutored in Hindi, English and Malayalam, my native tongue, till the 8th grade, after which I was happy to dispose off the Hindi textbook, and tackle the remaining two alone. Interestingly this was also the time when I got introduced to Bollywood movies, and lamented my earlier disinterest in Hindi, as I vetted on the quality subtitles for emotional connect.

Coming back to where I started off, I have no clear idea when I suddenly decided to become a polyglot, but I do know what it led to – in the two month summer vacation after 10th grade, I armed myself with a tiny booklet that vowed to teach the reader Tamil, and set off on the task. I believe the idea was that I ought to learn the three tongues spoken by the states that bordered mine – Tamil, Kannada and Telugu – before conquering the remaining 20 odd main languages of India.

I proudly learnt the alphabet, but soon realised that speaking with understanding was a different matter altogether. And that was that. As karma could have it, I found myself pursuing higher studies in Tamil nadu and even marrying a Tamilian, and the knowledge of alphabets did come in handy later on.

I have tried to learn multiple langauges since then; Urdu, Kannada, French, Bengali, even Braille! But I never succeeded in finishing what I set out to do, unlike the 16 year old me. Single minded efforts thrive for a few days and then fizzle out over a week. Something else catches my eye, or I find it too complicated a project, or I simply prefer to be lazy. Of course, the call of passive entertainment like YouTube and Netflix and even online window shopping did not exist when I was in school, and my brain might now be re-wired for short term rewarding highs. Perhaps the determination of a school girl doesn’t replicate well in an adult. Or perhaps I am too busy with a myriad of other interests, as I saw more of the world.

I am trying to learn Bengali again now. I hope that I’m able to stick to it, so that I can stop pretending to be a polyglot and actually be one soon.

Posted in Fiction

Yawns

You’ve all heard the story of big old Yawn, haven’t ya?

No??!

Well, well then.. gather around.

I’d start the story off by saying ‘Once upon a time, there lived a big old Yawn..’, but of course, it wouldn’t really be true, cuz they are all still alive. On yes, very much. Anyhow, I guess I should stick to convention.

Once upon a time, there lived a big old Yawn. He didn’t look like much, just like all of ’em other Yawns.. a thick grey mouthstache and a pair of ’em blue spectacles I suppose.. truth is, no one really knows what Yawns actually look like. We fall asleep way before we get a good look!

So, you know what Yawns do don’t ya. They are the helpers of Sandman, of course. Like Santa’s little elves. But then, Santa has only gotta work once in a year. It’s not an easy job going around putting little kids to sleep EVERY DAY, ya know.

Especially those little rascal toddlers that never go to sleep. But of course, there is no kid out there that Yawns cannot take care of. First, they take a massive breath in.. and with that they draw in all the tired energy from the kiddos.. and the kiddos feel all light and cool all at once. And then, before they know what hit them, they are literally blown over and away by a long loud yawn – a magical breeze that draws your eyes shut before you know it.. and as it washes over their tiny bodies, they get find themselves in the tales of secret Neverland that the rest of us adults never get to go to anymore..

Hmm..

Okay now, where was I? Ah yes, big man Yawn.. well you see, he..

Hello?

Hehe. Oh my darling sweet things, looks like the Yawns have done their magic already.

Nighty night, y’all. Guess that tale is for another night..

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

Not Child’s Play

The Open Page of The Hindu today featured a short article titled ‘The World of Chhota Bheem’ which highlighted the dark sides of the highly popular animated TV show for children, stereotypical characters and racist biases being some of them. The writer lamented over how these may subtly influence the multitude of children who watch the show regularly. I, for one, being one of the 90s children brought up on a lavish dosage of Cartoon Network, couldn’t help pondering on my own upbringing. Looking back, I realize I can trace almost every aspect of my personality to one childhood experience or the other.

Yours truly is an environmentalist who faces constant death threats from friends secondary to irritating and long drawn lectures about saving Mother Earth, and today it struck me how my favorite toon as a kid, Captain Planet, might have something to do with it.

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The power is yours!!

For the uninitiated, it was an animated edutainment program which featured five youngsters from five continents, each in possession of a powerful ring that could be used to control the elements (Fire, Water, Wind, Earth and Heart). Working together, they could seek the help of Captain Planet who would fight the enemies (criminal masterminds with no concern for ecosystems) and save the day. Their portrayal  of the perfect Earth with a focus on sustainability, afforestation, animal conservation and responsible waste management had a significant impact on the kind of person I turned out to be.  Today, twenty years down the line, the mantra of Reuse, Reduce and Recycle still stays fresh in my mind and I try to comply with it wherever possible.

On a similar note, I am pretty sure Denver, The Last Dinosaur is to blame for my one devilish craving – potato chips.

The issue does not pertain to TV shows alone. One of my favorite toys as a child was a set of tiny colored wooden cookware I acquired on a visit to Madurai. The minuscule look-alikes of pans, rollers and traditional utensils won my heart like nothing else did. Over the years, the pieces were broken, misplaced, lost.. As I grew up, they became but a fond memory. Fast forward to January 2017 when I come across brightly colored wooden items at a handicraft exhibition in Pondicherry and go gaga over them. I come to know that these are the famous Channapatna Toys from Karnataka – these even have a GI tag! Since then, I have gone back multiple times and acquired more and more of these adorable collectibles. I’m afraid I can’t help it. They are a part of my childhood and that alone deems them a precious and priceless status.

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When I was a little girl, I imagined I would remember not to grow up to be the kind of adults I hated, the ones that forgot all the simple games, the tricks, the ones that did not know how to turn a piece of old newspaper into a little boat, or a ripe coconut leaf into a watch. But as J. M. Barrie ruefully documents in Peter Pan, we forget. All of us grow up and forget what it is to be a child. That in itself is not so dangerous – we only turn potentially boring. What is indeed dangerous is how, as parents, elder siblings, uncles and aunts, we forget how impressionable children are, how every little thing can make or break them and have lasting effects on their lives.

Especially in today’s world where mass media, social media and cyberspace come together to play a major role in our daily lives, we need to be responsible enough to decide and control what the posterity is exposed to. Toddlers do not need iPads, they need attention and care that they can in turn learn to disseminate. Let technology take a backseat; lead them to books, stories and imaginative play.

Let us create the perfect future, the perfect Earth, one child at a time.

Posted in Anecdotes

Pink And Proud

It has been so long since I last posted something that I have actually been framing and editing the opening sentence for a full ten minutes now, till it finally transformed into this. Nothing spectacular, I know. These fingertips are badly in need of inspiration.

It has been exactly a month since I wrote something other than research proposals or official letters. Being back at college is proving to rain on my literary parade. But I can’t quite blame the curriculum for it; it’s me of course. Old habits die hard and laziness is immortal. It’s just so easy and convenient to sit back against a cushion, whip out one’s phone and text the people you -wait for it! – spent the entire day with. So unnecessary, but such an integral part of one’s life these days..

Today.. umm wait. I realise I effectively procrastinated the post so well that it’s actually yesterday. So yesterday, the 19th of April, I came to know through a WhatsApp forward, is the World Cycling Day. Yoo-hoo!! Here is to eco friendly and healthy transportation! Bikers unite!!! 

I was a late bloomer in the cycling scenario and learned to bike quite late. I am reminded of the first time I attempted the antic of riding without side wheels. I was in my 5th grade and it was my friend’s cycle and the road leading up to her house used to be a precarious fall. It either levelled out as I grew or my visual capabilities recovered from imaginative hyperbolic perceptions. Either way, it doesn’t seem as notorious now as it did then. Anyway, I clearly remember screaming in horror as a coconut tree came rushing toward me. Thanks to the impact, the bike was broken and I stayed away from the similar adventures till I got a cycle of my own for the first time in 8th grade. 

My dreams of riding with abandon were soon put to rest as a local toddy shop opened right across my designated cycling route. Mother felt it inappropriate and unsafe for a young girl to bike in the area where drunken hooligans aka potential molesters loitered. The other route was all uphill – not exactly the average weakling’s cuppa tea. So that too came to a premature end.

Childhood whims are like one’s first love, you never quite get over them. Which is probably why, the moment I stepped inside the sprawling campus with its wide shady lanes, I knew I had my opportunity at long last!

Now, 12 years down the line, I am the proud owner of another bike. It did take a couple of weeks for my atrophied thigh muscles to get used to the climb, but they don’t complain as much now. 

The colour does make me cringe, but apparently ladies’ cycles only come in pink and lavendar in this town. Oh well. At least it stands out among the fleet of sober scooters and motorcycles!

Posted in Verses

Calicut

The land of my dreams.

The fantasy that was my childhood.

I look out eagerly from the passenger seat 

At buildings and banners flying by

And search among them

The remembered past.

The fabled streets and the taste of sherbet

The many hued halwas

And sweet faloodas

Flash before me and yet I

See them not;

I try to knead through abstruse reality

And am faced with surrealism,

Illusions of my own making.

I step into my dear aunt’s house

House, not home, mind you

For this is not home

Not this majestic monstrosity in white

With the perfect wooden floors

And the crystal chandelier

Surrounded by limp manicured shrubs

Ordered to stand to attention;

Home was where the flaky paint

Showed off marks of dirt and crayons

Where broken tiles and low parapets

With ageing wisdom

Nestled my young limbs 

While mighty trees swung their shade

Along walls where wild bougainville

Climbed and bloomed

In a frenzy of colours

In the direction of my fancy 

Where cats, no less than nine

Joined in to play with abandon..

I roam from room to room 

Struggling against my senses

And clutching at the scattered pieces

Of a child’s memories 

Afraid to let go

Lest I should lose myself.

A lonely tear strays out of my right eye

And wanders, a vagabond on a misled trail

Like me.