Amazing people who make me go on n on n on:)

09 November, 2014


About a fortnight ago I joined a party, too late. So late in fact that I wanted to vent my guts out about how bowled over I was but refrained thinking of the bored eyebrows it would raise at what was she even doing all these years. I saw Inception finally, four years post its release. It came around the same time when I was hands down tied with a year old Seeya, hell bent in trying to give up on everything only to be able to tell her some twenty years later about how I gave up on everything. Sigh! Okay, that sob story for some time later folks.
Anyway, Inception had me in awe for a long while like I assume it would have done to anyone who’s a movie buff and had this cinematic experience. It’s not every day that you watch something on screen that takes your mind out for a jog and makes you return as though you trotted the unreachable domains of the galaxy and mind. The idea that one head could fathom it all through his imagination, Christopher Nolan had found a new albeit not a very vocal fan in me.
And now last night I was bowled over again by Interstellar. Too much bowling over I’d say in a month, but what the heck. Sometimes the Gods are kind. Despite the stupid claims in the first paragraph, I had managed to catch 'Gravity' last year and thought what could be better than Sandra Bullock now. I think Nolan unknowingly took that as a challenge. Also I went to a theatre in Kanpur and my husband thought there was no need to pre-book the tickets for barely is there an audience here out to watch English movies. We reached there 5 minutes late and were informed that the show is all booked. And I pleaded and cried, almost short of a howl at the counter. I only get a Saturday to leave back Seeya behind for she does not sleep early otherwise, next day for school. So you can’t imagine the murderous look I gave my husband when he parked the car and reached the counter and I told him no tickets. I think the guy at the counter was a married man who realized how delicate the situation was and asked for a few minutes to check again. And yaay we got two tickets!
It’s been a very long time since I saw a movie to packed seats and I think many light years since I heard the audience clap and applaud on scenes. And before you grow all cute enough to check, I know light years is not a unit of measuring time. Please, I know my science I think for I not just understood the movie but also enjoyed it. Baring a few references to Singularity, Event horizon and Relativity of course. Damn!
Dear Science,
I abhored you at school.
I'm so sorry,
A supposed, still-lost poet.
Although when I heard some IITians sitting ahead of me just as confused in those bits, I almost got on my seat to do a little jig. But hey, I got the crux, so yeah.
Also, I’ve had a crush on Matthew McConaughey since the time I could not pronounce his surname. I think I still can’t waise. But those were the days when he did romantic comedies and I remember renting a very dumb surfing movie just because it bore his name and I could ogle at him, though the movie bored me enough to tear my hair apart. But then the eyes felt so good.
Anyway, back to Interstellar, needless to say, it’s spectacular in every frame. It’s like you too have that bubble mask on your head and are an invisible co-passanger in this wondrous space travel. It’s like you know what’s a wormhole as if you studied it for years, even though you’ve never heard of the term before. And the travelling ahead of twenty three years in a matter of few minutes of scenes on screen, is as amazingly natural as it seems incredible.
Can you imagine the prowess of these actors who make you sit at the edge of your seat just by the merit of their facial expressions, made perhaps while looking at a wall? McConaughey is such a delight. The tears, the fright, the smile, the tense nerves, he just transmits them to your own face through some invisible connect from the other side of the screen and you can’t help but clap and be awed. And who would have thought love would find its way in such a scientific stellar experience. Awww! Also, the climax is just so OH MY GOD! Like it did in Inception, it left me gaping and forgetting to breathe for just a second. So much wow! It’s like a ride that is most thrilling just when you would expect it to drag on its closure. Such is a wonderful aftertaste it leaves you with.
I think I finally understand the hype around Nolan!
Such a one of a kind screen experience was this, that I actually dreamt for the most night post it about some of my own intergalactic adventures.
You still want to hear more of why you should watch this?
P.S. Although hey, when we returned back and my father-in-law asked G how was the movie, his response was "Balwinder". Yes, it means exactly what it sounds.

I Finally Met Him.

Yes, I finally did. And I never imagined it would be like this, becoming a milestone of sorts for both of us. Here he was, in all his glory in this mansion, hosting his larger-than-life presence and here I was, a nobody who had managed to get entry into the who's who circle by some stroke of last minute luck. And while he was gracious enough to allow being personally introduced to about only 50 enthralled guests awaiting to catch some stardust, I somehow found myself at the end of the line. Great! He must have been already exhausted of polite conversations and fake smiles.

Host: And last but not the least, she's Suruchi. A very popular blogger and extremely influential on Twitter too. And Suruchi, this ofcourse, Shahrukh.
Shahrukh: Ah! Writers, we can't live with or without them.
(He takes my hand in his for a handshake and allows it to be there a bit longer than usual, holding me by that ever famous gaze we have grown watching and swooning over on screen. I was a bundle of nerves within but had a surprisingly composed exterior)
Me: Not such a forbidding lot actually. If you let them see how par excellence an actor you are instead of how striking is your star power raising 100 crores.
Shahrukh: Waah, we have a little critic here. Good. It's been a while.
(I watch my host getting uncomfortable and my head is filled with unpleasant images of me putting my foot in my mouth literally)
Shahrukh: So you watch my movies?
Me: The last one was My Name is Khan. And you never really bothered to make me change that.
(Farah calls to our host and he takes Shahrukh by the arm saying they must go but Shahrukh waves him with his hand saying he'd be there in a moment. I feel all eyes on me now and trust me it felt as though I'd forgotten to wear clothes for this evening)
Shahrukh- So a fan once and a critic now. Tell me Madam Writer, can you please everyone?
Me- Sir...
Shahrukh- Please call me Shahrukh. I only look old, I really am not.
(I smile, besides myself. Shahrukh's wit has always been his biggest asset to charm his listeners and here he was, letting it rub a bit on me)
Me: Do we need to please everyone Shahrukh? Even from that spotlight in which you live all your hours? A man with a mind like yours, pulsating with invigorating ideas, thumping with the need for innovation, how can you let the performer in you be satiated by what it just a sip when the whole goblet of elixir awaits you. Stop suffocating him.
Shahrukh: Whoa! So many big words. Tch! I forgot my dictionary today.
Me: That's okay. I teach English to school kids. I'd be glad to help. So stop pulling my leg. We all know what a wordsmith you are.
(We both smile and there's an awkward pause. I don't know when but we had started walking and were now almost at the balcony when "Indiawaale" started blaring in the backdrop. He took me gently by the arm and led me out. He asked if he could light a smoke without really waiting for me to affirm or negate)
Me: Can I ask you something? (He nods) Strangely it's not visible on screen, but I see so much sadness in your eyes. Like a haunting loneliness of some sorts despite the menagerie around you.
Shahrukh: Suruchi...that's a beautiful name by the way. What if I say, I see the same light or the lack of it in yours? They say hungry, searching or lonely souls recognize each other, carrying a similar haunting while the rest of the world moves on like it's everyday.
Me: Oh come on this is not about me.
(Shahrukh's secretary peeps in and they speak something aside in whispers. I knew my time was up. He was wanted by too many, to pose with, to touch, to feel his aura, to exchange pleasantries that they could tell their grandchildren about some day. I move towards the door. He stands in my way)
Shahrukh: Ek storm khada karke aise kaise chal de Senorita? Picture to abhi baaki hain.
Me: Sometimes it is the storm that ensures the calm follows it. Kya dhoondh rahe hain aap?
Shahrukh: Kaash ke pata hota na. Humme kya chahiye. Aur jab woh mil jaaye tab kya?
Me: Kuch aur dhoondhe. Us sab se hat ke. Kuch chota. Like tiny infinite particles filling bit by bit a big hole. The slow excruciating process of collecting those bits rather than looking for something big?
Shahrukh: Is chote se sheher mein samet paate ho apne itne bade soch, Suruchi?
Bahut bade ho gaye hain?
Me: Haan?
Instructor: Bahut bade ho gaye hai aapke arse. Aur ab half an hour ke cycling se bhi kuch nahi hoga. Utar jaaeye. Line lag gaye hain.
Me: (Sigh, I look around and find myself in the gym) I know. But yeh dekho Facebook pe. Mere bhai ke saath Shahrukh ke photo.
Instructor: Arre waah, dikhao, dikhao.
Aur is tarah, kids, No, that's not how I met your father. Is tarah, kuch dreams bahut bade ho jaate hain. Aur kuch day dreams chote reh jaate hain. Aur kuch stupid arses, tass se mass nahi hote!

27 April, 2014

And The Mountains Echoed in me.

So after a hiatus of probably half a dozen years I return to reading. And return back like I was never gone. Sitting hours at an end in some cozy corner, trapped between the lines written by authors who wrote and moved on, probably oblivious to the lives they touch each day around the world.

Well, not exactly hours at an end now, for there is no mommy around, to put a plate before you in between your literary sojourns and says “Eat while you read” for she understands the urgency of being enticed by words that do not warrant even a moment’s break. And then there’s a mommy in me now instead who remembers it’s been ten minutes too long without Seeya peeking in, if she’s not already around.

This time it’s love blossoming for Khaled Hosseini, for I do not remember story telling being at this high and beautiful notch of excellence. I began with “And The Mountain Echoed” and I think the book would not end for me even though the pages ran off eventually. I remember a good friend giving me ‘The Kite Runner’ around five years back, out of his precious collection, telling me to read and fall in love with it. I also remember starting it and going on for about 50 pages when I lost interest and let the book adorn the bookshelf like many others that I began but never really could conclude. Active participation in social media, the commencing new role as a mother, the unwavering expectations and grinds of everyday life and reading covertly turned into a luxury.

Maybe, there’s always a right time to read someone’s words if you really want to appreciate them. The background of Afghanistan and the wars, the Muslim customs and cultural differences, the long descriptions of upheavals for the impatient reader in me, kind of bogged me down as opposed to a light reading that I was perhaps looking for then.

But then came 'And The Mountain Echoed', thank god for hyper bout of unseen boredom. Little stories that transport you to little worlds, characters that you tend to identify with, irrespective of the gender or age or background they come from. Because eventually our problems may be different, but they feel the same. Pain does not come in different languages or versions.  It just hurts universally. Love does not know the bounds of religion or nationality, it just grows naturally and tugs at a heart that has known it. Desire may be requited or unrequited but seldom is it wrong or right for the person who experiences it, running down in his veins like the very blood that supports his being.

I think Hosseini had me from the very onset, the first story that Saboor narrated to his children. I told the story to Seeya with a bit of necessary editing for a four year old to fathom it in accordance with her bounds. And when there was light in her eyes and a constant “Mamma, then?” there was light in my eyes too. I want so much for her to see the world through her eyes that could have been mine.

I wondered then if I had taints of Uncle Nabi, who pined in silent desire for Nila or shades of Nila who had too gypsy a spirit in her to be bogged down by social norms and confirm to the mundane. I wondered how I would behave were I in place of Parwana or her sister Masooma within a quickly dimming conscience over selfish grabbing of hope for materializing the dreams that you’ve aspired for all your life. I shivered under the thoughts of having to part with a child because poverty becomes too big a strain or the idea of living without a sibling who meant the world to you. Somewhere Pari and her struggles left me with a subconscious nervousness for Seeya and a “heaven forbid” prayer said silently.

The novel grows on you. Each time the author ends one long chapter of a life he paints before you with deft strokes, you feel the loss of having parted with a loved one. I remember a dear friend once saying he could not relate to fiction stories, with characters that he knew did not exist but were born out of the mind of one writer penning them. I also remember how I had argued with the notion for how could you not picture the character most vividly in your head once you read such brilliance. For me these people were living, breathing, feeling and ageing right before my eyes. The idea of having walked through with them in their journey like a silent companion in the shadows. Another dear friend mentioned how he had tears in his eyes after having read Hosseini. Well, as surprised as I was at such an effect of books on people, it really would get comprehensible perhaps if you submerged yourself with sensitivity in a book, that maybe I still lack.

I want to go on talking about the characters but then I’d want you to experience them first, if you haven’t already. The Kite Runner followed this and I’m not so sure if I have managed to come out of the ravaged lanes of Afghanistan or the lofty humans Hosseini left me with as fellow travelers in the maze of emotions and life, even though it’s been a week of having read them. This time around, I loved The Kite Runner too, experiencing the familiar disinclination to keep down the book from my hand without my eyes having devoured it all, in an innate sense of urgency.

I return back to reading and I am filled with a sense of completion. You know how sometimes in your lives so full, you move around with unnamed voids and just don’t know how to deal with them? I think I just dealt with one of them. Reading is perhaps like swimming, like loving. You could be years out of practice but one right dip and a splash of it on you and you begin to wade through with open arms till you swirl and glide and drench in it with the confidence of being at home. At peace!

“Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing, there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.”

The lines he began with and the lines where I end.

03 April, 2014

Your Beliefs or Mine?

People I know, closer and around the year I descended on this planet, are indulging and how. In satsangs, chanting, joining cults, motivational meetings, self-disciple-ing and the likes. And here I am beginning again to read books, exchanging ideas with newer people (sometimes half my age), thinking of travelling, giving up on 'No-chicken on Tuesdays' notions, wondering if it's too late to start a new vocation and the likes.
It is quite confounding to see how we are formulated with this basic urge to slink into roles at different phases of our lives almost as though sleep walking through it. My mom tells me "High time you start devoting your mind to some place now" like she began telling me I must get regular facials as soon as I stepped into my thirties. Like it's an unwritten rule and blasphemous to go otherwise.
However, I look around and wonder who's getting the better or closer to what's within! The same are these spiritual devotees who return back satiated with the idea of having “found” themselves at a certain level and then let manipulative bitchiness of the television serials consume them. Or allow the desires of flaunting their assets or knowledge, override enjoying the simple pleasures. Splurge on materialistic acquisitions and squirm at the idea of not being invited at someone's party while the whole town was there. Gossip and judging others is what feeds them, doubts nurture and the "me" surfaces most conspicuously while they demand time to do something for self to make them selfless. Kahe ka self improvement! Ghanta!
I also muse over my own relationship of convenience with God. Say a "Thank you for being with me and stay with me" is the only prayer I manage to sneak in everyday and sometimes I forget even that. Cramming my head with the notion that God shouldn't be narcissist enough to want to hear you praise him in mantras and read holy scriptures all day. That's a human craving, isn't it, minus the semblance to divine, or so we've learnt? Spirituality sounds like all the things that you already know being told to you so that you forget and be told about it differently next time. Tell us about it if you remember it still while you look down upon someone wearing a tacky dress or narrating animatedly how you heard XYZ's wife is having an affair. Some people don't need to grow within. They first need to grow up. And if it is just a brilliant ideology that dazzles you, dive in Literature, saunter around the lanes of fiction, join Twitter, whatever!
Maybe they are right and I am wrong. I do have these occasional bursts of inner ruffle. Don't they? I'd like to reform too as soon as someone convinces me that reformation comes with the guaranteed assurance of no-ruffling. “The frequency would be less”, they argue. “You'd be more patient and make peace with problems”. Hmm, isn't that what we anyways do when problems don't seem to be fringing on solutions? Tell me about the middlemen who've shunned limelight to light your soul. Who say beyond what age-old moralistic values have upheld almost blindly through time! Who let you believe what you believe in and not what you should believe in!
The priests and the sadhus and the babas and the gurus and the palm readers, insist they can change your life but for that you must have faith. I say bring that change first for me to watch that faith being born within, than have to cultivate it in, as though through surrogate mothers of your believers.
Or maybe I miss G who's gone on tour and Seeya who's begun school from today or this is just because I've not eaten anything remotely exciting since Navratri fasts ~ the ranting of a hungry woman. Why I keep them? I have no idea. Just been keeping them forever. Perhaps because the only reflection for me of God can be "ma". Perhaps because I want to clear my conscience with the idea that "Kuch to mein bhi karte hoon" after all. Or perhaps, dizzy in this pseudo superior complex of my idea being better than theirs, I’m looking for an excuse to give up fasting from next time and indulge in the pleasures of food. God would understand, won’t He? He does not want me to stay empty stomach to feed His ego? Well, I always win in the argument against him never mind if the world thinks He is just a silent observer.

28 March, 2014

I'm the Queen of the World!

So I saw Queen last night finally-
A. Because of all the hype created around it.
B. Because in all cuteness people were asking if I had seen the flick and wanted to know how I felt about it *I feel so critic-ishly kicked*
For otherwise, it would have been difficult to make me watch a Kangana Renawat movie just by the merit of her being in it.

Like I’ve said before, it is always better to watch a movie before they cram you with their opinions on it. The perspective is always truer.

Queen IS beautiful!

Also, I am beginning to realize that I can relate to anything onscreen that is based on a sense of abandon, with streaks of freedom from the stereotyped molds. It sometimes sends me into self introspection mode going in circles in my mind till real life takes over (Also the reason perhaps why I never watch anything on television). Aren’t we all trying to break free from whatever it is that defines us? Those tucked deep in riches want to live life the common man way, the common man strives to get out of his mediocrity, the house bound wife seeks adventure, the nomad travels relentlessly to find a base to root into and so on. Hence we are unified by a common thread for that desire to experience the uncommon of our lives.

Perhaps this craving is right. Why else should we get up from our beds each morning or what else would we dream of when we go to bed at night?

Queen celebrates the idea of being on your own.
Such a defining thought!
And for someone like me, it was a personal nudge. I CANNOT travel alone. Is there a name for the fear of traveling alone, some kind of phobia? Well, if there is, it would be what I suffer from. Ironically for someone who in her heart only sees herself as a nomad, experiencing life from place to place, is declaredly scared if she finds herself alone at the airport for over 5 minutes for the fear of being left behind or someone digging out drugs from her bags and getting her arrested before anyone even discovers she is missing. Not that I’d be travelling by air in those mind dreams.

Anyway, how beautifully does the movie sketch the female psyche!
I remembered my own mehndi and a thousand different thoughts zig zagging in that little head of mine like in Rani’s while the entire space around was a menagerie of sorts. That flickering doubt that came and went- Is it too soon? I haven’t even become anything in life yet? I might not become anything in life post this? But too many hopes hanging on me of everyone I’m pinned with, to tell them now to let me live my life first instead of building another one as a couple. My grandfather telling me he was glad he was seeing me getting married and could now die in peace; which he did within just three months of me leaving that house. Girls are like that or grow up conditioned like that in varying degrees - whether they live in Lajpat Nagar or not.

But then not everyone would be as lucky as Rani to be able to squeeze out a life from a latent existence in an unknown land. In a sense, the movie was real but dipped in a beautiful fairy tale flavor. The freshness emitting out of the fact that she became her own Prince Charming rescuing her from the gnawing miseries!

G looked at me intermittently through the scenes telling me now and again, “Seekho” implying on the streaks of independence as was being sketched out on screen. Little did he care to ponder over though that with an independent body comes a very independent mind! While driving back from the theatre, I asked him what did he learn from the movie. He’s a smart one now, my husband; he asks back- “What do you think I should learn from the movie?”

And very complacently I said, that it IS possible to have friends all over the world, who may or may not subscribe to the same age group, social strata or thinking genre as our lives are in. It is not always sexual. (Dear Mohnish Behl saying in Meine Pyar Kiya- “Ek ladka aur ladke kabhi dost nahi ho sakte”. Yes, fuck off!)

And he smiled mischievously for he refuses to believe one can find genuine friends over the internet and be close to them, even sometimes surpassing real life friends we’ve lived with. He shakes his head when I tell him of a 23 year old friend who confides in me, his life's trials and tribulations or of a 55 years old someone whose voyages on the sea fascinate me as though I journeyed with him. It is possible to share lives with strangers. Not all strangers come with dangerous motives. Some come with empathy that familiar faces find it strange to offer, without petty judging. And a woman thinking out of the box is not playing with her character.

But the most important thing that dawned upon me from there - Nothing good will happen to your stuck up life till daaroo happens to you! Oh yes!

I always forget I am reviewing a movie after a paragraph on it.
·        I wished I could see myself standing on a crowded threshold with that huge-ish map and make out anything from what seems like gibberish there.
·        I wished I knew what heeng was called in English, for friends around then looked up to the “English ma’am” honouring her presence to the group, to enlighten them.
·        I wished I knew how to contrive golgappas, even on Indian soil for that matter, to be able to eventually have that first kiss with that Italian hottie.
·        I wished I was streamlined Lisa Haydon-ish enough to be able to wear some Alexander’s shirt and scream out of the bathroom for the fear of some lizard, which I anyway do.
·        I wished I knew how to wear a bra like that under the covers just as stealthily as I can take out one.
·        I wished my parents would have at least let me go on that all-girls school trip in class 9 from my convent school. At least some kind of taste of that life on my lips for my life to look back on and not write such dreary reviews.

Let everyone live their lives before someone decides they should walk the aisle. Let that someone be the one who has to do it.

P.S. I still loved Highway more. While everyone gushed over Alia’s performance, I still can’t get over Randeep’s characterization and how well he sank and vanished into it, losing every iota of who he is otherwise. To an extent Kangana did too. That’s why these movies work for me. Also I’ve told my husband I am going to America alone now just to face my fears. He says, first try and book tickets uptil Unnao from here, some 100 odd kms from Kanpur. And to think I thought he’d be a new man post the movie. Tch!

15 December, 2013

To have Loved and lost...

Dear Love,
Every morning that I wake up without you by my side, I wake up as though in parts, leaving something of me behind on the pillow, on the sheet, that has my curves twisting and turning all through the night. The arms extending to an empty bed, hoping to feel at my finger’s edge, the rush of brushing against your skin, but returning empty, paralyzed in an unknown dread. I wonder if I fear more the absence of you or the absence of myself in all my presence.

The body rises to do its chores while the mind drifts to a weary sleeplessness, a queer numbness to disappointment or elation, although the mouth animates into automated frowns and smiles. It is like walking with a hole in the heart, whose margins threaten to extend on every side, to eventually take the shape of me. My quivering hands hold the pots and pans, till I sit back and clench them in a silent anguish, for they miss your fingers clasped within. I light the fire under my tea, even as my own slowly whimpers dying within me.

I wash my face with cold water, hoping to break the reverie of your thoughts that barge in one after another so seamlessly that I just watch, helpless, letting each one walk all over me. I look up at my face in the mirror and don’t see me no matter how much I scrunch my eyes. I see you, I feel you. And with the trickling droplets perhaps, shed a tear or two. 
Another day, another strife, and the same life but without you!

I pretty up my face, fill color on my lips, I wear the clothes that once froze your gaze to me. I go out, seem brave, show I’ve moved on but waiting within for the mask to become me. I shut tight my eyes at every little thing that reminds me, of you, of being yours ~ the steaming cup of black coffee, the fresh flower on the vase placed near me, the post-it notes on the to-do board, with yours missing conspicuously. I wipe the ketchup edging my mouth with a sorry napkin, missing your lips tasting it off me.

I move through the day knowing not if I am glad it has ended or sad that begins now the night, the returning to an empty house, no welcome smiles, no gentle rub of tired shoulders, no I’ll-join-you-in-the-shower fights. No putting me up on the kitchen shelf while flour scatters in the air so wild. No steaming kisses, no cuddles in bed, no blanket over my sleeping body covering me from the cold night.

Another day, another strife, and the same life but without you!
Yours piningly,

(I can’t imagine how brave are the souls that move on in life after losing a loved one. I shuddered as I wrote this, thankful in the same breath of whatever’s mine. Also strength and love to those who walk tall in such a life, may love find you again soon.)

25 September, 2013

Lunchboxing with my Mind.

And I’ve just returned from watching The Lunchbox.
Strange it is how sometimes things happening around you are not motivation enough to write but a contrived screenplay of a couple of hours on the big screen forces you to send your brain cells for a little jog or may be a leisurely saunter in the by-lanes of your mind, so far blocked or ignored in life’s humdrum.

I knew the story would not appeal to my husband, so I tagged along a couple of my girlfriends. We had seen Lootera and although he enjoyed it, he went weary with the pace. The Lunchbox seemed even tardier, like a soft uncertain wind trying to raise its head in a placid backdrop but bogged down before it can rise, managing only to rustle a few already withered or on-the-verge-of-crumpling leaves. Most people can’t relate to sentiments, especially when we are used to of motion or suppression.

I loved the movie.
Perhaps because I am, at a certain level one such leaf watching autumn slowly color my evergreen pride?
Perhaps because the idea of two people who are absolute strangers getting to bond through a thread of simple conversations, is not new skin for me?
Perhaps because as a woman I could relate to the restlessness in Ila’s form that wants to be heard, wants to be important and seeks a purpose of this all?
Perhaps because as a human I could empathize with Mr. Fernandez, a man who knows how to take care of himself but yearns to be taken care of?

Irrfan’s character is heart-warming, a face in the crowd yet subconsciously refusing to accept being one. He looked into that bathroom mirror and said that the space smelt of his grandfather and stiflingly comprehended that he was that grandfather ~ it was nothing short of a revelation for anyone who beholds such a marvelous conceptualization. He says he realized then he had turned old. Here was a man welcoming an early retirement, a man who lost his wife to old age and the same man who did not fathom when old age dawned on him. How amazingly well captured an emotion it was that only someone on this side of the fence would relate to!

Do we really realize how gradually age catches up on us? One day we are twenty and things move on, like a whirlwind sometimes and like the standstill of waters at the other. While weighed down in the twenties to establish our identity and lives, all too soon, thirty knocks at our door. We open the gates and let him in, as though it was in guise of opportunity, with a bit of apprehensions and some exhilaration too, for such a thing is anticipation. Little by little every day the same old drudgery as nothing changes and then one fine day we are forty and out of the blue everything’s changed forever.

But does the person who live inside the aging body really change? His aspirations, his fancies, his dreams, his desires, they remain ageless. He molds himself to the accepted beliefs of the society to behave in a certain mature way because that’s what adults do, to think in a grown up manner, to give up on particular things because it is the way the wheels of the society turn. He surrenders considering perhaps his aging bones too weak to stand before the frail fingers that could be raised. But the heart ~ It still remains at some threshold where it found its identity and continues to stay there. It just loses its legs or will to move on.

How empty are lives that get trapped in the wheels of earning a livelihood everyday so they have no time to stop and stare even at each other perhaps? And then some other voids that just make you stop and stare at them, having no motivation to stop doing it? Lives that have within their grasp everything a normal person should be glad to have and yet feel like sand hastening through the gaping edges of the begging palm.

I remember in the early years of my marriage I would leave little notes in my husband’s lunchbox, his office pouch, his wallet, his cupboard drawer, etc.-something that would remind him of me out of the blue and make him smile. Yes, a hopeless romantic like that. I would put up a picture of someone with open arms asking for an embrace or a sticker that said “I want you every day” in the inner cupboard door to catch his eye as soon as he’d open it. I would send him random messages of “miss you” at particular times to build the stimulation of meeting me upon reaching home eventually. I don’t know when I stopped. I don’t know when it began to seem that he had more important things to do than get bothered by inconsequential notes popping every now and then, every here and somewhere.
We give up and give in without realization.

When the protagonist says he should have looked at his wife laughing at those now forlorn serials a bit longer, my heart went out to him. Why do we realize we should have loved a little more, laughed a little longer, lived a little livelier only when it is no longer possible to do so?

I came across arguments on Twitter that stated had it been an aging woman and a young man in the same scenario, the society would have not been so generous in accepting it. Sad, that we want acceptance of the society for every bloody thing. They fail to realize that it’s not so much a matter of an old man and a young woman, or a married woman and a single man and other such classifications. Marital status or age is immaterial here. It’s the matter of two mortals trying to haul out their individuality through a reflection of similar needs in each other; the acceptance that such an unearthing of oneself is possible at any milestone in life and through our co-passengers in this journey, whether they boarded on the same route with us or not.

I was quite glad that the director here did not make a moral issue out of the entire predicament where the characters find themselves. When the man writes back to her asking if she would go to Bhutan with him, I quite anticipated a horrified Indian woman sentimentality surfacing that would go aghast at the idea of having crossed the line or even of its thought crossing her mind.
I silently rejoiced when she didn’t.

It is distressing to see people judge others without knowing what places in life they come from. What’s wrong with an old man finding a girlfriend? How is it morally a crime if a married woman finds solace in someone’s words outside the bounds of her matrimony that the dwindling threads of it fail to ensure? What right do we have to stop someone from getting happiness from whatever that redeems him unless we have better ways to ensuring it for him that pleases his hungry soul?

It’s a love deprived epoch that we live in,
Where money is easy to get and people difficult to find!
Where faces abound but familiarity fails!
Where we laugh too often but smile too less!

We live in a world where living it up is not thought as much as finishing it all up. Yes, the streaks of such ideas cross by even the sanest of minds. Like she said, we all find ourselves at some point or the other, ready to take the plunge but the depths to which we would have to fall, freezes our feet and numbs the mind. We continue where we are, allowing it to lead to a slow, excruciating death than a sudden, end-all one.

Little battles of little people. Millions of lunchboxes opening every day and so do millions of hearts. And day after day, without a second glance, with eyes riveted to some other priority each time, they come to a close. And the sun sets and the sun rises and the fan on the ceiling continues to sway.

07 August, 2013

I love...

I love the way you look at me every morning when I raise from bed,
Love how you remember the morning kiss, like a ritual unsaid.
I love how it's just a hand clasp sometimes or a bone-crushing hug,
Love how just a text be it and my day-long grin of blissful smug.

I love how you pretend to not notice yet know when something's changed,
Love how you call it sweet insanity when others think I'm deranged.
I love how even before I hear the voices in my head, you read my mind,
Love how you let me be and free, even when they bind.

I love how you defend me when I go all self critical,
Love how you see in me 100 things otherwise to criticize.
I love how you show you don't try yet you give in your all,
Love how I don't hate you even when I hate you don't call.

I love how you feel my arm, forgetting people are watching,
Love how you hold me when tears leave me gasping.
I love how we're so different, yet the very same,
Love how you know when to wild me up and when to tame.

I love how you love me, unlike in poems or songs.
Love how you ease me out of all my wrongs.
I love how seamlessly yet, you complete me each time.
Love how you make me thoughtful and then make such silly rhymes.

29 December, 2012

Dear People in Power

Dear People in Power (for I feel quite Powerless),

I have been quiet from a while on something that is conspicuously gnawing at my fabric, as the modesty, life and aspirations of a young girl have been slithered and sacrificed at the altar like goats slaughtered to please the deities of ancient times. I noticed but turned away as gory details of a gruesome crime flashed across my screen via Twitter, Facebook and messages. A coward’s attempt to close the eyes to feel that a problem does not exist-a lame mechanism of self defence! I gave up on the newspapers and the news a while back. Some people chose not to be a part of certain things or speak, for in words they live and words allow the realization to sink in. But sometimes peace that you seek creates a chaos within.

I have a three years old daughter. She smiles with impish beauty, she prances about in her loveliness, she dramatises every situation with her adorable whims and looks like a divine flower that I embrace at every possible opportunity. She attracts attention and people with her non-chalant allure. When I look at her now, I fear. I think of the parents who painstakingly brought up that twenty three year old for so many years. I think of how she would be just as precious, weaving just as many dreams in her parents’ eyes, being just as much solace to their weary minds, meandering in the worldly cares. How she must have been a responsible adult, working towards some goals! How one moment of a decision taken, turned her life irrevocably to death! It matters little perhaps to them whether the daughter's rapists are hanged or life imprisoned, their own life is now like an every minute death.

I shudder within. I cannot be around my bundle of joy 24*7. Someday she would move out of my domain and watchful range, into a world that is unknown. She would tread to live her own experiences and face the wolves with hidden agendas. Would I be able to make her brave enough? Even if I did, would I be able to ensure she is safe enough and her strength not tested beyond the limits of endurance like happened with this young girl who succumbed to death for no fault of her own?

What must be passing through her mind in her last moments? “I wish we had not taken that bus? What if we had got a little more delayed and that bus just passed by? I wish there were more people on board? I wish one of them would have listened to my pleas and be moved by my helpless cries of pain...” My mind goes numb thinking how God allows a young girl to face what she did.

As I took a shower today, the news of her death could not cleanse me off the muck that is leaving me disgusted. Flashes of a girl who wants to live because like all of us, she had just one life too, kept playing on my mind. How a hand that must be wanting to reach out just fell on the side of the bed, giving up! The thought every time chokes me till I have to breathe deeply to be able to breathe again.

Rapes have been occurring in this country since forever. Something a woman protects and treasures, her body, is just snatched away by brutes, without her consent, by greedy, lust driven men who know no gentleness but cruel force. A man cannot imagine how this could scar her body and a woman who has just experienced happy, consensual sex cannot imagine how it kills the mind. But then one can’t either imagine the brutality here of the savage minds that did not get satisfaction enough by ripping apart her body and had to insert a rod through her to satiate some beastly urges. How can civilization turn so grim and such an oxymoron? What can be done to such deranged minds? How can someone even possibly think of giving them a fair trial?

A part of me has always wished for super powers. Today I wish I had some by which I could pick up these hard-nosed characters from the protective government walls, strip them off all clothes and put them up in some open ground, allowing the hungry and enraged common man to do with them in front of one and all, whatever they like. Sadist it may be, I want to watch as angry men, women and children alike, come forward with knives, belts, stones, acid bottles and whatever else in their hands, to do these scavengers. I don’t want to think of them in terms of somebody’s sons or fathers at the moment, for they never can really be.

How would a private death sentence serve as a deterrent to an uneducated, unread man on the street, who gives in to his baser instinct any time he sees a woman he can latch on, to derive momentary bodily pleasure? These men don’t read the newspapers, they don’t know of what MIGHT happen to them if they are caught. They just know there’s a helpless woman out there and they CAN get away. Such people form the crux of these repulsive crimes. The punishment needs to be just as brutal and public so that it makes news just as the protests are. Everyone should talk about it. So that even someone like me (who gave up on reading newspapers because they only spoke of how little girls as old as a few years are raped) knows just as well as the milkman who comes to deliver milk at my house and watches my daughter with supposed doting eyes playing in the compound. I don’t trust any man, neither should you.

I agree with women when they say “Don’t tell us what to wear, tell boys not to take them off our bodies”. Totally accepted, but then can we honestly expect a government officer at each street corner at each hour of the day to ensure some letchy eyes do not get away with stripping us of our dignity? We cannot compare ourselves to the Western countries and expect the same amount of securities just because we are being educated in the same way or being flooded with brands in our markets. We must remember that till a decade back, this nation still had women covered up and men on the street possessed eyes that were adapted to watching the same. I am not justifying the rapists, I am trying to explain to you their psyche.

In the recent times, the almost-elite who have easy and ample access to skin show in movies, advertisements, porn, etc, also have reasonable sex education and exposure to girls they meet at social dos. The lot that gets provoked to hideousness often constitutes the sweat-drenched, grubby man on the street, who perhaps has all the clippings in his cheap mobile but looks at these clean women from far, waiting to catch one in a vulnerable moment.

I am not saying that rapes and molestations do not occur in richer or other stratas of the society or with three year olds, the burkha clad or the sixty years ones. But then we need to understand and work on the deranged mentality of some who get excited seeing flesh for they are not used to it. We need to warn the girls to be careful. Yes, it is totally their fault and not ours if someone eyes us with vulgarity in his vision but we must not forget caution.

It would take a while for mentalities to change even if awareness spreads and laws are passed. Till then, the girls must not expect to be protected but learn to protect themselves not just with weapons but with sensibility. I have witnessed how it's being upheld that all girls must carry pepper sprays or knives in bags. I was recently travelling by train with my family when a group of marriage revellers had some twenty year olds indulging in merry making. Suddenly one of the girls, who lost in a battle of words with one of the guys, decided to make the score even and used the pepper spray in her bag to ward him off. The entire coach within a few minutes was coughing and we had to rush out to catch breath. My daughter vomited and an asthmatic aged man had almost hit an emergency point just because a young girl wanted to prove some whims. That spray could have come in the hands of a child too.

Don’t mindlessly suggest solutions. Don’t limit but do set borders. Don’t mock the efforts of the government to shut off discotheques post 1a.m. Whatever can be done must be done to first ensure order. Once established there can be organisation. Individuals can only express their wrath, it is the government body that can act. Provoke them to act, not to suppress. Speak against corrupt leaders but check yourself too when as men you crack lewd jokes or as women allow men to objectify you. And I so wonder about the politicians-not satisfied with filling their corrupt pockets, how do they manage to live with such guilty consciences of having the power and yet do nothing?

Delhi boasts of the infrastructure but not structuring of minds yet. It is a city reeking in show-off, youngsters willing to seek attention at all costs and people moving at too fast a pace of life and morals to catch up. Teach your daughters to dress according to the time and place. Till we can’t really be safe, at least we can try not to be sorry. It’s NOT the skirts that get girls raped. But we won’t let them use it as an excuse to let go of those who do it. I will wear skirts but I will also be responsible enough to see if it is not attracting the wrong attention at the wrong time and place.

It is not the time to point fingers but time to join hands. As women accept awareness, caution and sense; as men accept respect and responsibility of being the stronger sex (at least physically) and protect. It’s a sad state of affairs if we have to fear for our girls every time we have to have them away from our eyes even for a few hours. We must talk of abuse at whatever level we face at the hands of men-at schools, colleges, workplaces, etc. Every time we let go, we let them believe they can get away with it. It only makes them more confident. Speak out. Reach out.

Here’s hoping against hope, things will change and during our lifetimes so that we live to see it happening. I pray her death does not go waste and this case serves as an example for generations to come.

Just Another Common Voice. 

16 December, 2012

My New Grown-Up Drug.

Once upon a time, I read books, dedicatedly, painstakingly, like a pilgrim at the threshold of his pilgrimage. Books consumed me, as I would devour page after page, lost in translation. Then along came people-with speaking faces and myriad feelings, with mincing grudges and obsessions, with overriding affections and affectations, with intense emotions and motions. Their moving hands, the receptive ears, beholding the tingled skin, the eager or hesitant mouths which round and widen, taking shapes of smiles and frowns, as words flowed out of them effortlessly and sometimes, post great deliberation!
Yes, I had found the more grown-up drug.

Faces can beam and rot you know, taking from blossoms. Not due to age, but experiences. It’s not about ‘Does the face make you swoon?’ It’s more about ‘Does it make you smile?’ Faces tell stories, they are an index of our minds, of all that is otherwise latent and sublime. Not eyes, they just need an empathetic heart. Have you noticed someone getting goose bumps on their skin post something you said? Yes, priceless! Sensual pleasures are just not restricted to bed-they can be derived by receptive senses, anywhere and anytime.

The voices, ah! You see most by listening. You could travel up and down an entire scale of passions with the voice that perhaps could personify character itself-the way it ranges from sometimes jingling with excitement like a fresh water spring to soft whispers, like falling into a bed of cotton caressing you with gentle taps till within. Voices don’t lie, people do. Voices entice, beckon, ensnare-like little magical spells that are woven by their mere echo on a person’s hearing. Eargasms, anyone? A soft, passion-smeared whisper in the ear can often be equivalent to the adrenalin rush received by wild searching fingers on the body, the chill down the spine.

I began to study people as though with a voracious starvation, live little lives and learn little lessons. They come wrapped in bundles of expectations and a cartload of disappointments, helping them evolve every minute. Sometimes they live, at other times let-live. Real, breathing, heaving, sighing human beings-they brought along with them hitherto untold stories, of lives they’ve led in bodies and mind. They respond to touch, whether or not there is any skin contact and they embody drama that we only hear of, for like they say, truth is stranger than fiction.

Words are potent, as books prove. However, when they emanate from voices separated from us by miles, generations and no relations, they just touch or instruct us. But when they stem from a person we know and look up to, how quickly they take, to not just touching but clinging and mingling in our very fabric. Words become you. They fill the empty specs, some voids that need to reverberate with some words, magnetically searching each other in the noises of the world. Romance, you ask? Well, yes, to a certain extent. For when he fills your mouth with his words, it is also a kiss or something like that.

I took to people-fascinated by the realms of lives unravelling layer by layer into a common man’s grand saga. How like a bud someone slowly opens to you and how like the petals then slowly encompass you within an embrace of trust! I took to being a co-passenger with some, lighting their path with whatever wispily shone within my own horizon, lending a listening ear to a mouth that craved to be heard, or just giving the complacent pleasure of the knowledge that someone’s there to care.

It’s a more long term gratification that a book could compete to concede. They say you live lives with books-fall in unadulterated love, climb lofty, indomitable mountains, dive into the alluring depths of oceans, conquer countries, travel path-breaking journeys and the likes. Human experience is all that and more.

Reach out to people. Be interested in their stories than in relating your own woes. For in un-knotting someone else’s tangles, you derive solutions for your own. Get outside of books, get into people. Find those worth drenching in, for such are the showers of communicating with brilliant minds that leave you wet in ecstasy of an unheard kinds. Books could help you search your soul, people could end your search for the soul mate.

As I write, I look wistfully at three freshly bought books lying beckoning on my writing table. The scent of a new paperback how like the scent of a man, tends to sneak in your insides to pull from within. Perhaps, I would return to my old love again. Or perhaps, there’d someday be someone to read to me the same. A cold winter evening, a balmy fire place, hands curling onto a simmering coffee mug and a huge bean bag wanting for us to give it shape. Come, let’s glow in this fire and as I sit looking at you mesmerized, read to me from a book and then from a life!

15 July, 2012

What if your life had a past too?

This happened some four months ago during my visit to Jaipur with friends although I chose to remain quiet and ignore it till today until evidence came knocking me off my feet this morning. I am not superstitious and I stay at an arm’s distance from anyone who believes in irrationally of horoscopes, planetary predictions and past life regression. But then what I have experienced makes me rethink my entire surmise.

In March, my husband and I along with another couple and our kids took a four days trip to Jaipur and Ajmer. On the second day we decided to hire a hotel cab and visit the famous Amber Fort. It was all marvellously exhilarating to see history drenched walls and chambers and walk through the royal whims and fancies. However, all the mirth became a little dimmed when I became conscious of someone staring at me. No, this was not a situation where a street loafer checks you out. Here was a typical ripened Rajasthani man, with the signatory big and excessively greying moustache, the head covered in a red turban, adorning a white kurta pajama along with the jutees completing the look-the kinds you see or rather un-see merging in the backdrop of some filmy moments on screen.

I noticed him first outside the huge gates of the inner fort area and looked past him thinking it to be the curiosity for visitors. But then as sharp as my sensory perceptions have always been, I soon realized I was being followed by a very intent pair of eyes. He stopped when I did, pretended to look around and then walked on while he saw us strut. After a while I became very uncomfortable more so with the idea that we had two little girls with us and the world is becoming weirder.

My husband was duly informed and he gave him a stern look. The stranger seemed to have backed off, when shortly we spotted him again almost running after our car as it left for the hotel. The matter ended for me then but for him had just begun.

The next morning I became aware of him outside our hotel premises while we left for the sight-seeing and again after two hours when we returned-juxtaposed there like a pole. I generally would not have recognized him had he not got that same peculiar stare that he brutally and unsparingly showered me with. Something was wrong. He didn’t seem like an old man in heat or greed. I spoke to my husband and we got the man called inside although we thought it safe to meet him in the lobby itself.

What he said thereafter left us totally befuddled. At the very onset he showed us a picture to get what he desired-our riveted attention and jaws dropping. Within the frame was he and a woman in her twenties that anybody would agree to, was me. Only I didn’t know the man, had never been to this part of the world before and why would I get clicked with him in a traditionally Rajasthani outfit?
The picture was of his daughter’s. He then narrated a tale which I would relate to you, minus the historical and religious names that he had mouthed but I can’t seem to remember now however much I jog my memory. His daughter’s name was Ajeeta, a wonderful girl born in a humble family-cheerful, outgoing and rarely intelligent for someone brought up by his almost poor means. He had a set of six camels that he supplied to the Fort, to earn his livelihood-a kind of family business he explained.

Ajeeta was married at the age of twenty one and allowed to study by her husband who was in the police force, due to her love for learning. She became a professor of Economics at Rajasthan University. However, she could not bear children despite many years of attempting for it. It was then that they went to a local tantrik to seek for some ‘cure’ while he opened skeletons from the past instead. He said that Ajeeta’s soul was cursed. It was a set of seven souls, conjoined at the origin and bearing the same fate and face as I did, that followed a predefined circle of life till death.

He lost me as soon as he brought in the tantrik stuff but my husband and the couple with us were intrigued. I left to put my daughter to sleep, while he narrated more. About half an hour later, my husband returned to the room very concerned and his face death pale. I almost regretted getting the old man inside to talk-a complete waste of the afternoon over gibberish and hallucinations of a lunatic.

He made me sit on the bed before explaining more. Apparently Ajeeta and I had many similarities. She had near death experiences at the age of 18 and 25. The man had asked if I did too. My husband knew of an accident that I had at the age of 25 when our driver almost rammed into a lorry with me getting severe injuries on the left side of the body. He asked me if something had happened at the age of 18. I told him I had severe jaundice that lasted for almost two months but laughed it off as a coincidence.

What about being over intelligent and the love for learning, he asked. So now, did I have the copyright on that, I reasoned. He was getting exasperated for he wanted to convince me and yet not, to keep me away from the fears that had gripped his being.

He: “He asked if you have a big birth mark on your right thigh. Please, tell me this is a coincidence too. He reasserted that this set of souls cannot bear children, Suruchi. He said when he saw you with our daughter that it was the only perplexing factor. He begged me to tell him if the daughter really is ours. Can you still disagree? When I told him we have adopted her after years of turmoil for being unable to have our own, I cannot tell you whether there was reassurance more on his face or pain....”

Me: “But so what even if all of this was true. Does it affect our lives? Okay, there may be seven women of my face walking about the earth right now, with extra ordinary intelligence, leg birth marks and no children and near death experiences, so what?”

I was losing my mind here because I often get into these disagreements with him when like his mother he gives way too much importance to astrology and planetary influence and stuff that I consider as total hogwash.

He: “Had it been just that I would not have bothered so much. There’s more. It seems that Ajeeta died three years ago of a mysterious fever at the age of 32. The souls transfixed to your face and destiny come a full circle after completing thirty two years. We are just four months away from reaching yours. And since everything else has come true, what if....”

And his voice faded and he broke down like a little child. Although I still did not believe it was possible yet I chose not to laugh at it this time. How do you handle a grown up man, crying with unshakable belief that he was going to lose the only love of his life, the mother of his child in a few months? He was almost convinced that this would happen. I was wondering why all the drama has been destined in my life only although this peculiar epiphany really took the cake.

I became silent too, I know not because of seeing him like that or subconsciously realizing that death was as real as life and probably lurking around some corner for more significant instances were quoted to prove the similarities of our lives. I now had questions of my own circling and churning my mind.

What would a random stranger gain out of creating such a story anyway? How would he know exact details of my life? And most importantly, what was his motive behind telling it all to me? My husband then related that I was the last link of that chain and the other six have already succumbed to the same fate through the ages. The tantrik had foretold him that I would come. He was the envoy of sorts of this foreboding and....

And just then my daughter awoke and began to cry. We abruptly ended the conversation there and the same evening left for Pushkar. Although every one lightened up soon but the conscious effort of it was straining the natural enjoyment that we would have otherwise had on this trip. The matter was never brought up again until this morning.

Being a lazy Sunday and while everyone still being engulfed in the comforting arms of sleep, I sauntered outside the room, my eyes falling upon the silent newspaper as though beckoning me. After ages and after a severe bout of boredom, I picked it up. On the fifth page my eyes fell on the face of a dead, aged Rajasthani man with a peaceful pallor spread on his countenance. The report said that within minutes he had died of a mysterious fever on the road side outside the Kanpur Central station. It was reported that he carried a picture of his daughter and asked the people around if they had seen her. He also seemed to be saying repeatedly “They are coming, they are coming...”

I folded the newspaper with a sick dread swallowing up my heart.
For a long while I was lost in a reverie or perhaps blank in my mind.

And in the backdrop crooned actress Rakhi’s voice in some movie as she hammed a line again and again, “Mere Karan Arjun aayenge....mere Karan Arjun aayenge”. I got up and switched off the television. What crap lady! At least my story above is more believable than yours. I sipped my coffee and waited for husband to get up and tell him how he married me and wasted my life in Kanpur. I should be writing scripts in Bollywood! *Sigh*

 P.S. Just so you know and see above, I really did go to Jaipur :p
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