Archive for 2010

Sometimes, Life's a Pendulum

The smile is jovial, wide. Above it, the blunt nose sits like it never grew with the rest of the face. But the eyes-- they are brimming with an enthusiasm. The life energy is savoring with coy amusement the pastel shades of the rosy eye shadow, the natural pink to the cheeks and the raven black limp hair tied away non-obstructively, ever- ready to curtain the face. Princess, I think.

The mirror that hangs docile on the bathroom wall in a corner of the marriage hall concedes. I turn away from the reflection and shuffle out to take a quick peek. They are gathering. By the multitude.

The cheap plastic-framed mirror has shocked me today, pleasantly so. It is hard to recognize my sense of self with this sari, decked in jewels, decorated head to foot. The soft lights of the evening reflect off the expensive marble, bringing opulence. The shadows are coming down long and patterned from the glass windows, and the hills are celebrating in the beyond. The carpets are grand, the people: frivolous. I can see them down there, tall and handsome in their tuxedos. We are glowing. I stir. I take a breath. I feel young and beautiful. I saunter out into the hall to socialize.

It all comes back to me, pulling me behind rather forcefully as I gather unprecedented momentum. I'm at granny's place now. I allow the ancient swing of my sweeter childhood days to rock me in joyous disregard like the familiar and naïve times, legs dangling freely, weary but happily so, succumbing to a fresh batch of laughter every once in a while. Never have I felt more alive! Today had been the best of days.

Someone should have looked at me, I think. Cousin’s weddings don’t come every day you know. Neither do opportunities. And today, I had been on my best behavior. Yes, someone would have noticed me.....

Why couldn’t everything just stay this way?-- Full of nameless anticipation, quiet expectation that quickened the heart so wonderfully…...If there was something beautiful about life, I thought, it had to be this. It was amazing to be caught in this web, smiling without knowing why.

My day dreams are fantastic, but I spot intrusions. Such a bother!! Oh, those trivialities. The hiss of something in the kitchen, the loud clank of something else in the distance, a phone ringing….I ignore it all. In my peaceful reverie, everything is perfect. Needless to say, the grandparents leave the pampered kid to day-dream; Thatha attends the phone call.

“Yes, yes, yes, I know, don’t worry….”

Granny comes in with tumblers of coffee. Steaming. I don’t think about "thank you’s" as I take it from her, faking intense exhaustion. I continue to watch TV, trying not to muddle up my head.

Inside, fairytales are taking shape.

Outside, disasters are tiptoeing to ensnare a hapless heart. And I—I am oscillating, baseless on a happy swing. How could I come to expect it?

The movie is almost over. The jokes have been laughed at. The tumbler is empty. But the heart is still infatuated, the smile is still impulsive, the fairytales, spectacularly endless. I focus on them with a selfish concentration, they bring joy. I am unaware. I am drifting. I am content.

It is the busy, pleasant happiness of a preoccupied heart.

His coffee tumbler, on the other hand, is not empty. It is cold, still full. I notice his wrinkled hands clutching the phone rather tightly. Headline news for the journalist? Someone bombed the Taj Mahal? I could hardly care less. I’m home, I’m happy.

And then with sudden, polite sympathy, Grandpa pulls me out of the reverie. (The phone is for me? Really?) I question him and read his eyes. But they are explained from miles away, on a battered phone line.


I had been oscillating today: sweetly savoring the depths of deep exhilaration. But I guess my happy swing had moved to the other brink, the gravity compels. It takes just one word to bring my world crashing down. Inside, the flimsy fairytales explode to smithereens as rooted love screams to the heavens with inconsolable deliberation.


Shoudav made you listen

I felt that I was amongst the clouds. Because I was amongst them. Snugly enveloped, distant and loved. Floating away, effortless. In the lazy beauty of an infant dream, seeking respite from logic. Reason wasn’t my intrusion. It left the hopeless poet unprovoked. And she easily hemmed together improbably fantastic fantasies, coming alive now through a slightly parted window, inch by inch.

It was a magical day, Papa. In fact, it was your biggest gift to me. A plane ticket home. To everything I had ever wished for. I didn’t need no Disneyland and you knew how to pick your presents. I flitted, in between the clouds, in between sleep and wakefulness. Time seems to have discovered relapse. Maybe it had stopped. Maybe, Papa, the globe was too big a place for me to fit my head into. I didn’t know.

“And my heart is too light for anything to matter,” I wrote on the 19th of August, “Anything to matter at all.”

Beneath, the bloated pacific spanned the spaces, sparkling brilliantly in its amethyst glory, and the soul felt it’s throb, the low hum of its dips and fluid curves, the playful energy which exploded on many hundreds of shores, the raw majesty in its ecstatic pulse, the assured calm that it feigned from distance, the mischief, the shimmer, the vital force. It occupied me expansively like the lingering boom of a drum gently sounded. I was overwhelmed without a reason. As it filled me, I let it, settling into sleep-- this time, unencumbered.

There were no days, Papa. In that illusion, there were no nights. No light and no dark in my chimera. Just my thoughts to hold me, and just the love. Feel Happiness, I told myself, you ought to.

I waited.

It was strange. Happiness didn’t come in purity. It came with the pain of going so away from you, to half way across the globe. It came with the guilt that I hadn’t said the proper goodbyes, when my hurry made me ignorant. When I had overlooked your presence, when I had laughed off your remarks, when I had buried our conversations in mad excitement. The pleasant frenzy might have bothered you…oh, why couldn’t I behave? If I told you, you’d think I would be lying. Because I don’t behave, and I don’t tell you the things I’m supposed to, I know. But you see, Papa, no matter how much I cannot behave, no matter how much I never show it so splendidly, no matter how caught up I am in a the things that will not matter, I’ll never forget to love you. And then, some more.

I remembered.

The clouds were gold now. They effused life. They ignited. And as the heart rate quickened to a plastic smile from somewhere across, I awoke. Awoke to see the gold clouds. Awoke to see the happiness in existing, in comprehension. Awoke to understand that there was so much that I wanted to tell you, which I should, some day. Maybe a book. Maybe a poem. Maybe a conversation. But I would, someday. A new idea.

And as dehydrated fingers weakly moved to adjust the earphones, I knew which song to choose. Taylor Swift softly voiced another. I snuggled into the blanket, thinking of the music that you never heard, that I never thrust in your ear, because I believed that your favorites….had to be dense. And this was just a puerile teenager. Both of us. Such faulty assumptions make your daughter shifty sometimes.

But then as she spoke of our simplicity, of how below all the complex chaos I create.... there was this intact love, and it stirred in me. Below the layered excuses of too many relationships to manage, too many hands to hold, too many friends to talk to, too many midterms to write, too many miles to walk, too many busses to take, it had always been there. Right from the time when I didn’t know anything, to the time when I did gather a little wisdom….it had stayed familiar to me. The assuring permanence touched me as the biggest of human miracles. Simple, true and sure.

And as the sun came around again, illuminating my world with a bold dash of orange, vitality gushed back to me.

You gave me a plane ticket home, Papa. And I've had the best days with you. The thanks was in my head, the gratefulness in my heart. You had given me the best days, and now, you had granted me some more.....and you would, always.

I could feel again. I cried.

I knew I was heading towards something special. New Horizons were emerging. Both outside my window and within a grasp of an invisible future.

The song became lullaby, repeating again and again.

I was moving away, and towards--an adventure.

And then, I allowed the revebrations to break on distant shores.....



Twenty years of an uneventful existence. I went to school, I studied, I grew up, I bickered, I moved on, I giggled, I cried. I have loving parents. I have a gem of a brother, which is another way of saying that he’s not fretful and yet manages to be bothersome. I have uncles who come up with bland jokes, a traditional grandma who loves temples and tons of thick coconut oil on my hair. Friends, who can be too crazy to be called human. I never wash my dishes; I don’t see a point to making up my bed. I have faithfully orbited the sun for many years just like all the rest of you. I’m completely normal. Life could never have been more uneventful, regular and more defined. I, in fact, couldn’t point to one thing that I’ve done in these twenty years that somebody else on the planet hasn’t already envisioned, thought about, or achieved.

And yet, if you’d chose to call my life commonplace and blasé, you couldn’t be more wrong. It’s interesting, this life of mine. Every experience of that belongs to me either finds excessive flattery, admirable complaints, a happy distortion or a careful polishing for affectionate preservation. As memories, as thoughts, or sometimes, as words. It is maybe because I want them to endure. Much after their times, much after their end, much after me. Because their worth grows with me, with every single day….

I’ve been blessed to be here. And yet, I have not found causes to question as to why I’m deserving of a doting mother, a perfect father, so much love and care. I have never asked why is it that my every whim and fancy should be satisfied, the tantrums attended to, the ignorance that I carelessly throw their way allowed for. It’s so easy to not ask weird questions. Hell, I’m no philosopher. I don’t talk dense with my family. But 20, I guess, knocked a little substance into a very fortunate pea brain.

You know when they launch rockets, we stand and stare? But they say, and I have found, that if a small equation goes awry, the most ambitious missions can fail. And it would be impossible then, to propel yourself into a brilliant future. Well, I had a clever mathematician managing for me till today. Somewhere when I grew up, however, he decided to take a little break for awhile, just to show a heedless heart never to take the gift of life for granted. And more importantly, to tell the people who constitute all that life in you that you believe in them. It’s everything that I have ever come to love. That I shall forever remember—to hold them close.

So, now, I begin a new writing project. For you, Papa. Because I believe in your courage. I believe in living in a perfect future together. For I believe that you’ll be proud of this careless, irresolute daughter of yours someday. For I believe that someday farfaraway, I could be making these words a book. For those times shall come, and I shan’t stop dreaming. It’s time to write our story, step by step, until it becomes the biggest book ever written. Because it’ll be a story worth telling, allright.

I hope that at the end of the day, I could do you proud. Because this belongs to us. And I promised my mathematician that I’d make those equations work. I think you know your physics right. For one thing, you forced me to pass my hardest physics course with an irritating fortitude.

Because cancers can go away and you'll heal.

Because you gave me the best days of my life and always will.

Because our story should endure......

Because I love you, Papa.