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.

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3 Responses to Sometimes, Life's a Pendulum

  1. B.R. says:

    Optimism of the will certainly will triumph over the pessimism of the mind. It won't be long for the swing to move to the brighter side. It has to. Laws of Physics.

  2. aravind says:

    u'll make ur dad proud :-)

  3. Ramprasad sir: You are truly incredible. You bring so much optimism. yes, indeed. :)
    it has to.
    inevitably! :)
    Ara: I just want him cured. please do continue to keep him in your prayers.

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