Thursday, December 29, 2011

Have a Wonderful New Year

When the day dawns on January 1, what would really have changed? It will be another day that comes after the night, birds will chirp, animals will wake up and go about looking for food, pretty much everything will be the same, except us, the advanced beings that need celebrations and a sense of newness to keep us going. Why is it that we constantly need change? Why do we need a year-end and a new year to renew our spirits? I guess too many of us don't live the way we were intended to live. Boredom is the most underrated menace to existence. We as a civilization have tried very hard to downplay it and portray it as something harmless, but sometimes I think, boredom is a sign. It is a sign that as we spoil ourselves with multifold and complex choices, we lose a bit of what we were intended to be: adventurers. We have reached this far because of the spirit of adventure, because there were men who set out for the unknown on ships onto unfathomed waters, because they cared to climb the Everest, because they believed there was something more, to be seen, experienced, lived, acquired. 

If we look deep enough, we all have that adventurer within us. There is, at least one thing on this earth for each of us that triggers that adventure, that makes us want to know more, and push limits to learn it and do it. But there are too many distractions, too many mirages along the path until we lose sight of what we had set out out for, and give in to boredom. 

This year, find your adventure. Find something that excites you not only for the outcome but also for the effort. Find the one thing that can speed up your heartbeat and make you lose sleep over it. It can be owning a grocery shop or exploring the Tibetan valley,if it gives you the thrill, that is it. Fight for it. Be proud. Be glorious and beautiful. Be passionate. Give it your best because it will bring out the best in you. Because it will show you love and beauty of the greatest form. This year, fight boredom. Create something, learn something, and live freely. Speak your mind, ask questions, find answers, express love. Just this one year, give the habit of life a chance.

Have a wonderful year in the sense of the word, a year full of wonders.

Sunday, December 25, 2011


Some time in the last few years, she changed irreversibly. The realization of it dawns on her sometimes for a few fleeting seconds, in brief dreams when she's half asleep and she feels like she just slipped off the edge of a cliff, or in that headrush when she gets up too quickly from the bed. But then, these are very short insignificant moments and she does not want to make much of it. She is good at deceiving herself. So are a lot of people she knows. She has learnt to remain quiet, but deep down she knows, that her self of a few years back, the one closer to a child, would not have approved of a lot that she approves of now. Some time in the past few years, everything that seemed fair and just as a child, is now hushed away in boxes labeled 'over-simplified' or 'silly' or 'socialist'. Sometime recently, she started to understand the words taboo and censorship, and  realized that democracy is not always 'better' than dictatorship, and freedom is not always better than bondage, that you need to let go of self respect sometimes and label it sacrifice and love, that a mind without fear is a bookish concept, and that most of the times, its too much to expect humanity from human beings. The thoughts give her head a spin sometimes, so she shuts the lid on them tight, and places a heavy object over them, like a dream or a nostalgia. Strange thoughts, you'd say, for Christmas eve. But she does not exercise much control over them, specially on occasions like these. She, is just a bundle of pronouns after all, she could be me, yes, but she could be them, or you, or no one at all.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Guava Tree

A fragment of her, perhaps, never made it to adulthood. It got stuck somewhere on a branch of a black&white guava tree. "It brings bad luck", someone had whispered about the tree, when tragedy had struck the family. And they had brought it down. She had picked up a leaf and smelled it, torn it, scratched it, and rubbed it on her palm, to have the scent long enough. A fragment of the guava tree too, had survived in her nail beds.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Someone like her

He watched her as she hurriedly baked chapattis to pack his lunch, her wet black hair dripping on her saree.  A perfume of incense sticks filled the air. It was unbelievable sometimes, the fact that she was here, in his house, in their house, packing his lunch, running his household like a typical Malayali wife. He still remembers the day he had first seen her draped in a Saree. She looked beautiful, both in the elegance of her attire, and the clumsiness of her steps. It was their convocation day. She had been talking to him excitedly, asking him from time to time, if she looked okay. He was just reassuring her for the nth time that she looked breathtaking, when S had arrived and made a dramatic gasp looking at her. All uncertainties vanished from her face in that moment as she beamed and moved towards him. He noticed the unmistakable pink of her cheeks, when she told S he looked wonderful too. Those were the days of transition. They were days of political unrest and liberation movements, of strong opinions and feminism, and of rainy nights when his heart had started to secretly whisper her name, fully aware that she was deeply in love with S.

D and S were made for each other. They could take up an issue and debate all day, over ilaichi chai and bakery bisuits in her apartment. And at nights, tired of all the disagreement, they would have a slow, quiet dinner on the terrace and watch the lights of the sleepless city under them, and the twinkle of the stars above. She would often fall asleep in his arms under a shared blanket. And he would watch her for a long time before he tucked her in bed and left. They would take off to unseen destinations on instinct, only to come back with animated stories about their experiences. It was as if they had a thirst, to explore and stretch the limits of life, as if there was no tomorrow, as if they could never have enough of each other. He watched them with a mix of envy and awe. He knew S deserved her. Because S was not ordinary like him. He did not spend solitary evenings writing poetry dipped in nature. He did not prefer to remain quiet on controversial issues. S was not like P. For P dreamt of a small life with a scooter, a 2-bedroom apartment, and a loving wife, someone like D. Someone pristine and beautiful like D. Someone passionate and intelligent, and ever understanding, like D. Someone who twitched her nose like D when he talked about his ordinary dreams, but then touched his hand gently to smile and say, "You will have it all.". Someone who could laugh off annoying habits as idiosyncrasies, someone who would question, but always have faith, someone who would bring to his heart a feeling of coming home, every time he saw her. Someone like D. But not D. D was for S. She deserved S. And he deserved her. More than anyone else. The brilliant sparkle of the ring on her finger was a proof of that.

That chilly morning of 3rd February is still etched in his mind. He had rushed when he heard the news. S's parents were standing in a corner, with D's father consoling them. He could see a never-ending haze of known faces, as he looked for D, with desperate concern. There she was, with a bandage on her head from the accident and a stony look in her eyes. He stood there. Fixed to the spot. He did not go near her. He didn't know what to do or say. He backed away from the scene like a horror-struck man.

The days that passed were a haze. D had started to spend more and more time indoors. She had sent her parents back, saying she was okay. P would visit her sometimes, but she did not like to be disturbed, although she never said it. Her dad visited every weekend, just to take her out forcibly for meals, ensuring she got some fresh air. That evening, when he visited her apartment, he saw her sitting in the terrace, gazing at the city lights.This is all she had done for the past few months. Her father slept on the couch in the living room. He went and sat next to her.
"How are you?"
She didn't reply. He exhaled and sat there for what seemed to be an hour when she said, "P, will you marry me?". He turned towards her with a start. Her eyes were still fixed on the lights below, a tear glistening in them.
He turned to look at her father, still sleeping on the couch, looking fatigued, as if he had been running for ages.
"Of course I will.", he replied, and sat beside her in silence for the rest of the night.

D has only vague memories of the wedding and of the many days that followed. P took care of every detail of her time table. He would wake up early to cook for her, run the water down for her bath, make the bed, clean the 2 bedroom house, and then leave for his office on his scooter. The only conversation she had with him were answers she gave to his mundane questions, like, "Did you eat?", "Shall I get you a book?", "I will be in the other room. Call me if you want anything, ok?". She always wanted the lights on.

It was on midnight of 19th October when she was woken up by the ringing of the phone. She heard P's steps in the hall, and his voice saying "Thank you", after which he returned to his room. She remembered then, that it was his birthday. That must be M, his best friend of college, she thought. She noticed in the morning that he had kept the receiver aside.

"I am going to the temple. You want to come?", he had asked the following morning, knowing she did not believe much in 'worship'.
"Ok", she had replied.
She had come back looking breathtaking, draped in a traditional Kasavu. He thought he saw a faint smile in her eyes when she said, "Lets go."
That night, as he lay awake in his bed, he heard her footsteps entering the room. He shut his eyes. She climbed on the bed next to him, and he heard stifled sobs for the next few hours feeling every corner of his heart melt away. Then, he felt her breath on his face, as she kissed his cheek, and whispered, "Happy Birthday, P". He is not sure if she saw the tear that ran sideways to his pillow. She was still sleeping there when he woke up the next day.

It has been five years now. S is still the unmentionable subject in the house, and P thinks, sometimes, she still sobs in the shower when he can hear all the taps opened. P has never aspired to be S. P can not be S. He is ordinary, and safe, like he always was. He buys D little gifts from time to time, that she smiles and accepts. He took her to Coorg last summer, and she petted a rabbit there and brought it home. She laughs sometimes, while playing with the rabbit. She still leaves her hair loose, almost all the time, and sometimes, she  still sits in the small balcony of the 2 BHK apartment to watch the city lights.

"Something on the left cheek", she said, touching his cheek to remove a flake, as she handed him the lunch box.

Friday, December 09, 2011


Sometimes, I turn around on my heels
in a public place
Just to feel small again
and rejoice when I find no one paying attention.

Sometimes, I cook with just a little oil and very little salt
to let all the vegetables have their natural flavour
comparing them, in my mind, to people
young, impressionable and wishing them the freedom
to be.

Sometimes, I read multiple books
one after the other
alternating identities, between Hermione and Jane
David and Celie, Gandhi and Gulzar
My version of a literary peek-a-boo

Sometimes, I cover my face
with all my hair
and open my eyes only a little
to watch ordinary sunlight
transform into marvelous shiny fractals
- hexagonal boxes with mystical secrets
cut by the magician's sword
but still intact
like stubborn, residual, unyielding hope

Sometimes, I still
talk to myself and write self-addressed letters
in order to discover
things I forgot to tell myself.

Sunday, December 04, 2011


I want to go back to being in a classroom. Classroom education should never end if you ask me. I know life teaches a lot outside the classroom, too. But I wish we could go to classes all our lives. Classes with an inspiring teacher, where questions are asked and answers are sought, where theories are stated and examples are demonstrated, where life is simplified on the blackboard and friendships are made effortlessly, the way they are supposed to happen. I love classrooms for the way everyone there is equal and everything being taught is just another lesson. I love that, the homogeneous whole of heterogeneous individuals, the sharing, the discussions, the submergence of egos to the only thirst for learning. Voluntary classrooms, shiny, beautiful subjects of choice that go side by side with regular jobs and life, that is my dream for a better world.