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Escape

There is much to escape from: traffic, heat, dust and grime, the noise and unpleasantness. There is a reality we try to escape and the truth the we refuse to see.

We do our best to escape criticism, work, conflict, violence of every kind. We go to great lengths to shield ourselves from what we find inconvenient, and often, unnecessary.

But the escape we make from our inner voice is perhaps the most dangerous- it forces us to behave in ways that aren’t us, it makes us hard, it pawns reason for ego and it makes things blurred.

Sometimes we need distance, we need to be kind but firm and ask ourselves about what we are doing (or not doing). Sometimes, friends allow us an asylum and then gently but firmly show us we are trying to escape and stop us in time, before great harm is done. In a manner of speaking, they bring us home.

A year. 

A year is gone. When and how, I don’t quite know. The memories of this morning last year are crystal clear as if no time has passed. 

I remember the rain. The coldness of the hospital. Dada and Maushi standing under the foyer, utterly helpless and completely bereft. 

I remember phone calls and not knowing what to say. I remember phone calls with instructions and requests, specific and to the point. I remember growing up, once again. 

I remember the rains lashing hard and incessant, as if trying to wash away tears and failing. 

I remember the shock of losing my grandma, suddenly, without notice or warning.

A year has passed and we have learned to live without her. But the void she has left behind persists. I wonder what she’d say about the Maggi ban, how she’d react to Pumpkin’s new guitar and Kanika’s poems. 

It’s been a year and I still expect to see her when I go to my aunt’s, gently asking me how my day was and if I am hungry. 

It’s been a year and we haven’t quite said goodbye. 

Picnic

As I wrestle with complex issues of absolute values and functions of pesky variables and exponents, I drop into a reverie. A time when exams aren’t on the agenda but reading, frisbee, a park or a beach and food definitely are!

I acknowledge the Enid Blyton influence on my love for picnics. I imagine baskets filled with lemonade and ginger-beer, thin sandwiches, cakes and tarts, idyllic countryside and a beautiful dog. I long for a day out and spaces where one could have a picnic. The last I had was about a month ago, on a friend’s lovely farm with a bunch of 11 year old girls.

I’m dreaming of Lodhi Garden on a winter’s day, Parc Citroën in spring, hell, even Girgaum, on a pleasant evening will be awesome.

There were grand picnic plans, with clandestine screwdrivers, an outfit specially bought for the occasion, of a quiet, comfortable day filled with nothing but a picnic. The season turned, and now the picnic has been washed out.

That Girl…

Either the GRE prep has addled my brains or I’ve just had an epiphany.

No one writes songs about strong, independent women. Poems are dedicated to nazakat, shabab, and jhuki nazar but never to the death stare of a busy woman in control.  People don’t care about girls with fly-away hair and chipped (or bare) nails, dark circles (from over-worked nights) and body hair. No one wants a girl who can fix a flat tyre, chug beer, fight patriarchy and yet, mysteriously, doesn’t always smell good.

So, I have decided to turn a leaf. To give up my independence for some ishhhh; trade the Bullet for bashful, you know, go the whole hog and be a girl someone will write poems on (and for).

Pumpkin, my very wise 11-year old niece thinks it’s a terrible idea, “It doesn’t go with her personality and she should be accepted for how she is; and if someone loves her, he will write a poem for her.”  But what does she know, yeah?

Now, who’s going to give this damsel a ride to work tomorrow?

7:24 pm, Friday

It’s 7:24 and I’ve just shut every window and door hoping to keep mosquitoes out. Its dark and I have no inclination to get up from my floor bed-desk to switch a couple of lights on. The house is quiet, and I sit here, alone, bathed in eerie glow of a laptop.

Out of habit, I made coffee for two. I’m halfway thru my mom’s share. Only it’s bitter, of course and there is no milk or sugar. It was day day of excess- Cheetos, flavoured yogurt, a whole packet of Jim-Jams and two cookies. Oh, noodles for lunch. I remembered why I never bought junk food. Alone at home, trying to study, I spent all my will power on exponents with no control left for biscuits.

I wonder what I’ll be doing Friday after the next– will I be happy and celebrating or cursing my inability to do maths fast and little patience with standardised tests? I think a lot rides on what I do over the next two weeks. Focus and practice, enjoy the process, learn. Be calm, do your best.

A Blue Whale

In an uncharacteristic move, I sat down for breakfast with today’s newspaper. I usually get my news fix online and dislike the papers that come home, but today, the front page story made me sad. A blue whale was washed ashore near Bombay and died. She was breathing- but was hurt and possibly unwell. The story said she could have been hurt by a ship’s propeller. The damage we inflict on the world isn’t newsworthy anymore but seeing the gigantic whale beached and now dead, makes one feel worse about mankind, and ashamed too.

As I read through the story a small picture caught my eye. As they buried the whale, someone had garlanded her- and symbolically performed a funeral. The gesture instantly made me laugh and cry a little bit. Perhaps too late, too little, but there was a glimmer of humanity.

At what point are you too old to be naïve? At what point does enthusiasm become juvenile? And when do you stop living with conviction and complete abandon?

When does it get too late… ?

At some point, one gets jaded. Equal parts hurt and cynical. Too aware to be trusting, too busy to stop and too old to play. Then a song comes along, listing all that you are too old to do. A beautiful tune hides hard truths about life. Perhaps, there are a few things that you can’t do after a point.

Vay nighun gele… 

Where do these thoughts come from, you wonder? Well, in a break from my 6th Standard struggles, my mom and I watched the famous Nakshatrache Dene, a series dedicated to marathi music and poetry. We listened to the Suresh Bhat edition, a poet who brought Ghazals into Marathi- not only adapted the form but made it Marathi’s own. Bhav geet as a genre existed of course, but Suresh Bhat took it to the next level.

Nakshatrache Dene (loosely translated to ‘A Celestial Gift’) Suresh Bhat: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLOTD8UinR-RwDTDqLTdVW-tESdgc8rMyF)  There are many more editions, available on DVD. Nakshatrache Dene is spectacular for the range of performers and iconic Marathi nivedan by Bharti Acherekar and Tushar Dalvi.

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