I finally publish

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


There is a restlessness in me which will be my ruin... Sigh! This is one of my favorite poems...D. H Lawrence at his best...

AT the open door of the room I stand and look at the night,
Hold my hand to catch the raindrops, that slant into sight,
Arriving grey from the darkness above suddenly into the light of the room.
I will escape from the hollow room, the box of light,
And be out in the bewildering darkness, which is always fecund, which might
Mate my hungry soul with a germ of its womb.

I will go out to the night, as a man goes down to the shore
To draw his net through the surf’s thin line, at the dawn before
The sun warms the sea, little, lonely and sad, sifting the sobbing tide.
I will sift the surf that edges the night, with my net, the four
Strands of my eyes and my lips and my hands and my feet, sifting the store
Of flotsam until my soul is tired or satisfied.

I will catch in my eyes’ quick net
The faces of all the women as they go past,
Bend over them with my soul, to cherish the wet
Cheeks and wet hair a moment, saying: “Is it you?”
Looking earnestly under the dark umbrellas, held fast
Against the wind; and if, where the lamplight blew
Its rainy swill about us, she answered me
With a laugh and a merry wildness that it was she
Who was seeking me, and had found me at last to free
Me now from the stunting bonds of my chastity,
How glad I should be!

Moving along in the mysterious ebb of the night
Pass the men whose eyes are shut like anemones in a dark pool;
Why don’t they open with vision and speak to me, what have they in sight?
Why do I wander aimless among them, desirous fool?
I can always linger over the huddled books on the stalls,
Always gladden my amorous fingers with the touch of their leaves,
Always kneel in courtship to the shelves in the doorways, where falls
The shadow, always offer myself to one mistress, who always receives.

But oh, it is not enough, it is all no good.
There is something I want to feel in my running blood,
Something I want to touch; I must hold my face to the rain,
I must hold my face to the wind, and let it explain
Me its life as it hurries in secret.
I will trail my hands again through the drenched, cold leaves
Till my hands are full of the chillness and touch of leaves,
Till at length they induce me to sleep, and to forget.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Song without Words...

Going to Pondicherry is always painful… Innumerable buses fly from Chennai to Pondicherry- but never is there a seat in one. Exasperated with myself for calling up every Friday home and asking the car to be sent, I tried the bus.

I stood 2 and a half hours and reached Pondicherry... to sleep the next two days- waking up for breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner to eat and complain of a terrible leg pain and arm pain. 5.2(This is the height that's mentioned in my 'matrimonial' bio-date/profile whatever! And it's a stretched truth!) is not the best height to reach for the hand bar that runs along the length of the bus. It was either stretch a little and hold the bar or fall onto my friend whom I was traveling with.

A few weeks of this and a week of that- and I ventured into enquiring about private travels.

'Universal travels’- it happens near my place and 3 tickets were available for the next Friday. Paid more than twice the price than the normal/regular/everyday buses and booked 3 tickets…

Friday seven thirty in the evening found Deepak, Vardhan and me standing in front of a bakery here-its in front of the bakery that the bus would stop. We talked to each other distractedly for sometime- each of us glancing every now and then onto the road that the bus was to come by…

Eight thirty: I sat down in front of the bakery. I patted on the ground beside me and signed, “Sit down”. Giving me patronizing smiles, Deepak and Vardhan stood on.
Eight forty five (though they would say nine thirty!)- I found Vardhan on one side of me and Deepak on the other.

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Nine thirty: Each of us called up our homes and said that we’ll be late.

Ten: we went for the nth time to the dingy office with a yellow and green board which read 'Universal travels'.

“The bus is on the way”- yeah from Timbuktu!

Ten thirty and we were a small but frustrated and mutinied gang of weary travelers- and the journey hadn’t even begun!

Ten forty five and the wretched/blessed bus finally came.

Squinting in the orange and green(?) light in the bus I read our seat numbers- 31,32 and 33!

But perched on 31 and 32 was already a family! Furiously I marched up to them and said- “You’re sitting in our seats” and glared all I could!

Bang- they produced two pink tickets; identical to the ones I was holding in my hand!!! Then started the saga of the events that were to be- calling the conductor, getting exasperated with his perplexed looks, calling up the office where the guy was long gone home, getting exasperated more at an unanswered call, asking for refund… I looked appreciatively at Vardhan- I never knew in all these years that he was actually capable of doing all this…

Ten minutes later found me sitting next to the lady. Deepak, Vardhan and the lady’s husband sat beside the driver and the conductor. I hastily removed my glasses- I didn’t want to see their glares- well; I was the one who booked the tickets! But it was the wretched man-at-the-office’s fault!

It was stifling hot and my thin T shirt was already soaked with sweat! The bus must have moved on for another ten minutes, when the lady beside me-I usually am friendly with my fellow travelers, but not with this one. But that didn’t stop me from observing her. She looked like someone in her late twenties. And she carried a small baby ( the baby was small!), who looked as if it was 3 or 4 months old…

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I looked at her and wondered- she was clad in a black synthetic purdah!!! I sure hope she didn’t have anything under that! But no, that was not to be! 6 yards of saree inside! I felt warmer just looking at her… *dab, dab* with my tissue!!!

She caught me looking at her and she smiled at me. I managed to stretch the corners of my mouth. Hmph! Little did she know that I would be subject to jeers, snide remarks and what not from Vardhan and Deepak the next day-for re-booking someone’s ticket! You see, this husband-wife family had booked their tickets a few days before I did! Its no fault of mine but totally that of the “The bus is on its way” man at the office… but I was sure it would be mine by the time they were finished with me…

She asked me, “Where are you going?”

Me (curtly): “Pondicherry”

She asked me again: “When will we reach Pondicherry?”

As if I would know. But I told her anyway: “1 to 1.30”

She went on: “We are going to Nagapattinam.”


“For my sisters’ husbands’ sister’s wedding”

No reply from my side…

I closed my eyes. I was still not back to my normal state of whatever.

“That’s my husband, who’s sitting there”

I didn’t open my eyes…

“Are you married?”

Who me? I opened my eyes. Do I look married?



Man… how are you supposed to answer that question… Because I didn’t want to? Because nobody wanted to me? Because…

“My name is Razia. What’s yours?

This I could answer. I did.

“That’s my husband, who’s sitting there”

“You told me before…”

“Yeah- but you didn’t seem to reply then… Who are those two guys?”

Now-this was getting too personal…

“I got married when I was 15”.

She never even wanted answers to her questions!!!

I looked distastefully at her. Married at 15 and proud of that!

“I am 17 now”

What the fuck? 17-married and with a baby! Yeah- better than not married and with a baby- but still….

Her incessant talk woke up the baby. And her baby woke up the other passengers who’d managed to fall asleep despite the heat…

For a full five minutes we were subject to loud and indignant wails!

I looked at the baby. Totally wrapped up in woolen clothing from head to toe- a cap that covered the ears, to woolen socks!

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She tried her level best to quieten the wailing child. Crooning noises... Soothing talk… she even showed the child some random lights out of the window- 3 months old and as if it cares!

“Remove the (damn) cap”, I said.

“Oh- he’ll feel cold”


“Do you?”


“He’s feeling way too hot most probably…”

She pulled out his socks. The cap stayed on. The wails too…

She pulled out the cap… the sobs reduced too…

I smiled triumphantly! Aha!

I heard sighs of relief from people who sat behind me. I settled down comfortably on my seat and closed my eyes again…

“He doesn’t usually cry…”


“My sister’s children are spoilt brats”.


“My mother in law wanted a baby boy. Allah’s blessing and it’s a boy I had!”

“Had it been a girl?”

“My mother in law would have married my husband to another girl…”

I sat there too sick to say anything…

“My husband loves me a lot though… even if he marries again-I’ll always be his favorite...”

Favorite child, yes I’ve heard. Favorite student- many a times… Favorite wife? Sigh- yeah, I’ve heard that too now…

Islam has always been perplexing to me. What is it with that religion that it propagates the wrong message universally? Ask any Muslim and they say: Islam does not talk about violence, fanaticism, several marriages and what not… then why do innumerable Muslims get the wrong message?

I am not even going into higher issues like terrorism.

I remember years after I passed out from school, I was standing beside my mother when she was arguing vociferously with the vegetable vendor, when someone caught hold of my hand and hugged me… It could have been Fida or Falila or Sherin or Nissa or Hafsa or…. Moving aside the wretched cloth from her face- I was subject to a beaming Husna.

The bus droned on and I could hear the gentle snores from the lady behind me… Razia was talking on- unmindful of the fact that I was not listening… I heard random bits of the monologue… I sunk into a gentle and conscious sleep- I was not asleep but I was not awake either- there are states like that you know…

“Waahh…. Waah…”. I jumped out of the seat. Well, the youngest member of the now-three-but-soon-maybe-more family had woken up yet again and was letting everybody know about that!

10 minutes later, the wailing hadn’t stopped but had only grown louder. Exasperated clicks from exasperated passengers were heard at regular intervals of time. Nothing seemed to work this time…

“It must be hungry”, wise old me said.

“He doesn’t drink from the bottle yet…”, otherwise said.

“Ok. So… feed him.”

“Here? In the bus? In front of so many people?”

I didn’t bother to help again. A few minutes passed by… by now everybody in the bus was awake. Deepak walked over to me, I hastily closed my eyes.

Jerking my shoulders, he asked, “how can you sleep in this ruckus?’


Seeing my look, he fled.

“Yeah here. The baby’s hungry. No one’s looking”

She gave me an of-course-not-and-I-think-you-are-shameless-and-insane look, while she kept moving the baby clumsily from one hand to another.

I looked at the weeping child. It was ‘whatever’ and it chose the only means it knew to express this ‘whatever’. It was one of those unfortunate ‘mummy can understand, but cant help’ situations…

I thought of my sister in law who never failed to (much to my acute embarrassment) feed her baby whenever and wherever! And I looked at Razia. And I looked at the baby. Hell, it could as well have been my brother’s child…!!!

Bending down at the now hysterical baby- I talked to it-in a language I knew. Talked to it as I have innumerable times talked to my brother’s child... In Malayalam… in a language that I knew how to croon to a child… in a language that the child would never understand few years down… but does today… because it stopped crying. It could be due to a new/unfamiliar voice… it could have been because it suddenly understood the emotions that transferred so porously from me to it… it could be because it suddenly understood what I did too- that I could love a baby, whosever it maybe…He heard my song without the words…

“What’s his name?”

“Mohammed Kaif. His father loves cricket…”

I continued whispering total nonsense to the now wide awake but silent child. Razia sank back in complete relief. So did everyone around me…

In the dark night, in a sweaty Chennai bus, amidst the not so gentle snores from his ‘favorite’ mother, clutching my finger; Mohamed Kaif slept.

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Saturday, April 16, 2005

The voice I hear…

I stood undecidedly in front of the Sify Internet parlor…

Picking up my mobile from my bag I called my room mate, “What time is it in New York now?”
“9.15 in the morning…”

As all Internet parlors go, the place was musty and smelled of sweat. An old air conditioner whirred with unfailing regularity…

Two cubicles. Thank god I am not fat. I wouldn’t have been able to stand comfortably in one. I have this thing about closed spaces- claustrophobia is the word if the case is extreme… I’ve never tested it…

I dialed the number. “You have reached the voice mail of…”
I knew it. That’s why I never call him when I most want to speak to him. Its the surest way I wouldn’t!

I call him when I am calm and collected. A;; emotions under a rein. In control…
Then I can talk about the weather. About the taxis in New York… Indian taxi drivers… About his friends-the tall one and the short one. About his work. Mine too. About sisters and mothers…

I tried again. I was subject to the same monotonous voice that would have repeated the same lines a hundred thousand times, the same monotonous voice that will repeat the same lines a hundred thousand times…

He’s told me a number of times, “Leave a message”. Its partly the ridiculousness of talking to a machine… its partly, “What message do I leave?”. I never call him up to talk a specific topic…I call him to… I just call him…

Walking out of the parlor, I contemplated-give it up and call him another day and just take an auto home now, shall I?

An auto whizzed past. Seeing me stand there wondering, he instinctively pulled over… The auto sputtered on…I shook my head in the negative to his questioning glance… I walked on searching for another Sify cafe…

No two Sify Internet centers are near each other. At least in Chennai… At least, wherever in Chennai I looked for them…

I learnt that day that I could not decide on a topic and think about it while I was walking. I was supposed to think of all the happy times we’d shared. Instead I found myself thinking how much life’s changed after he’d gone.

I must have walked a good 20 minutes, before another red board announcing “Sify” I found. I called up my roommate again. “What time is it in New York now?”
“9.40 in the morning”

There was only one cubicle here. Tiny would describe the place and there would still be room…


I was holding the receiver tight and kept hoping, “Please let it ring…”

I was surprised when it did.

The connection was not the best. There was a few seconds delay between what he said and what I heard…every time…

That had never happened before…when we sat beside each other, reading books and glanced at each other every few minutes to smile… That had never happened when we walked in the scorching afternoon sun in the deserted beach of Chennai when I was mentally cursing myself for having forgotten my sun block cream… That had never happened when we sat opposite each other and yelled to be heard over the din and the always busy Dhabba near our office… That had never happened before…

I talk to him. Replies were given. A few questions were asked in return. Replies again. I never talked to him what I wanted to…

A few goodbyes later, when the bill was high and my purse was light, I pressed the disconnect button with my finger… I could hear the bill being printed, when I said; “I miss you so much….”

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

One is the loneliest number..

"No" is the saddest experience you'll ever know
Yes, it's the saddest experience you'll ever know...
Because one is the loneliest number that you'll ever do
One is the loneliest number that you'll ever know...

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The shadow of your smile

He was still sleeping when I woke up… That happens all the time... I wake up to anything. Nothing actually. What I mean is there need not be a reason for me to wake up. And there are times when I can go back to sleep almost immediately… and there are the other times when sleep eludes. The latter, they are difficult…

Today was a ‘difficulty’…I looked at him. He was sleeping without a care in the world. I really couldn’t see his expression in the dark. I didn’t have my glasses on anyway… so I bent closer…

The faint glow of the street lamps that so adorned Chennai…that lit his sleeping form... I looked at him. There was a freckle I’d never seen… there was a mosquito bite too… I wanted to touch him then… but I didn’t want to wake him up in the process…

Sleep proved elusive. I propped up a pillow and leaned back. It was then that I heard the rain outside. So, I didn’t wake up to ‘nothing’.

The rain was beating furiously against the window… what a racket… but I liked to hear it… it felt very alive and furious…. It could also have been alive and happy…. The rain felt very like an Indian woman with anklets at her feet- anklets with silver bells on it. She walked slowly and there was a gentle sound. She ran and there was more…. Now she danced….

Lots of thoughts came flooding in. I like it when that happens. I’m scared of the blank moods that I have. I feel nothing- no happiness, no sorrow, no hope, nothing at all. It’s during these times that I am scared… it’s a terrible thing you know, not to feel…

There was a flash of lightning… the whole of the city …as far as the eye could see; lit up…

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I loved the lightning too… I love the way they light up everything for a second and then plunge the whole thing into darkness again. But this time the night would be darker…

He was like that too…. He came into my life and brightened it for the time he was in it… He had to move on… and my like would be darker than before… I had the choice… to see the world for the second that it would brighten or close my eyes at that moment so that I wouldn’t have to face the darker darkness….

I wanted to see… I wanted to feel… I wanted to love and be loved.

So I chose… I chose the shadows that the lightening would cast… electrical shadows… but then, I would be happy too, for I saw, however short it was, whatever I wanted to….

Friday, April 08, 2005

Once upon a March…

I have grown. I was five years old in one posting and now I am seven. Summer holidays are what I remember most. The only thing worth remembering…!

Trivandrum. Daddy’s place. So many cousins to play with. And not just silly old games like dressing up and undressing a silly, sick doll. Hell, I hated changing my clothes…the last thing I was gonna do was help someone change theirs! It helped that I was the only girl among the innumerable boys! And they would never encourage a wail or a cry unless we were playing Red Indians or something.

Anand and Ashok. They were among my favorites. They lived in another country called America… It was supposed to be very far away, for they slept for a whole day after their journey. That tired they were... always!

They were my favorites coz they got me a lot of things from wherever. Pink chewing gum. Blue shoes. Flimsy and gauzy white dresses with sashes. I hated the dresses though. They were so stiff and I really could never move about comfortably in them. And then was the biggest pain of my life-I was not to get them dirty under any circumstances! Worse still- all my cousins seemed to be all queer with me when they saw me in a frock! I would still stick out my tongue at them but the response, if any was a poor one. Making faces too was no longer fun in a frock!!!

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Ashok and Anand-they knew a lot of games which were quite new. Red Indians were introduced to all of us. Seven stones or a game called that. Every vacation taught us something new.

One march, after they woke up from their sleep and their initial bashfulness wore off, we were sitting and eating water melons. This was a treat, coz I’d fallen off the car the last evening. Daddy was driving, and I was leaning out of the window with the wind blowing through my hair. I could hear Amma inside telling me repeatedly, “Put your head inside”. I pretended not to hear. Sometimes that worked…sometimes it didn’t and I was smacked a quick one on my bottom or whichever part of my body was in the nearest reach to Amma’s hand…

Nothing had happened except that my mother yelled, daddy looked awfully worried and my grandmother kept hugging me every two minutes after that. Talk about making a fuss!!

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And the water melon along with a lot of my favorite things was a special ‘treat’ for not crying. I didn’t cry, because I wasn’t given the time to!

We were each spitting the seeds out with the maximum force we could muster… the one that went the farthest was the best ‘spitter’!

After eating the moon shaped slices, staining my dress and spitting seeds everywhere, I smiled at them.

Ashok said, “Let’s play trust”

Anu, Manu, Hari, Tikki and whoever else was there nodded.

“Ok the game goes like this…” continued Ashok. “One person asks the other-do you trust me?” and if you say yes, then you have to do whatever the other person says. If you say no-you are chicken!”

I was convinced that this was a game he made up. And it was lousy.

I looked at him scornfully and said so, “Pooh. What a stupid game.” And put out my tongue at him.

We immediately launched on a wrestling match, with hair pulling, yelling and him sitting on top of me! We played the damn game!

There was this new house Vailachan was constructing, a few meters away from his old one. It was the place of the year.

“Shoo..”, the workers there used to flap their white cotton towels that found a place, wrapped on their heads. It had many purposes, apart from shooing all of us away- it acted as a sweat band for the head and it acted as a place where they could store their beedis ( poor man’s cigarettes- don’t seem to know the English word for it!)

“Shoo… shoo…”, and away we would run gleefully, only to appear a few moments later.

“Do you trust me?”, Ashok asked.

I did not even know what that word exactly meant. And I didn’t know if I would ‘trust whatever’ Ashok. So I said the safest of answers, “yes”, coz I knew a ‘No’ meant I was chicken!

“Ok, climb up to the first floor and jump down from there. I’ll catch you”, he said.

I stood there. I wasn’t sure I’d heard right. Jump down? First floor? And he’ll catch me? God- did he think I’m nuts?

He shoved me- kindness and gentleness didn’t exist in our life then.

I found myself walking up the steps. I reached the first floor all too soon. Walking up to the tip of the floor-after which was a sheer drop, I saw all of them standing down below. They waved to me. I waved back.

I heard Ashok yell, “When I count three, you jump into my hands, ok?”.

I looked at Ashok carefully. He was more than capable of lifting me. If I was 18 something kilos, he was 35 something. Well fed, was the word his mother used to describe him. We called him fat.

It was not all that far off, first floor and the ground floor I mean… it was longer than the guava tree beside it…long enough that you had to climb 12 stairs to reach on top…

I heard him yell, “One… Two… Three”

I jumped. Definitely not onto Ashok’s outstretched hands. Way off course…

I fell flat on my face. I was roughly pulled up and I could see after rubbing the mud from my eyes the shocked and admiring looks on all my cousins’ faces. I touched my nose and somewhere around that area… my hand felt something wet and sticky…that’s the last I remembered…

I woke up to anxious looks and tearful eyes watching me. My mother was an amazing one for crying. She could cry at anything and everything.

She called out to Daddy. Then Ammuma… Valiachan…. Valiamma…. A few neighbors.

My cousins also pushed they way through. They all stared down at my lying form.

After a lot of questions like-does it hurt, you want anything, who pushed you (when I sneaked a glance at the petrified Ashok)… I was tired of the fuss. And it hurt too.

Everyone left after sometime.

Ashok stayed back… he looked at me and said, “You look very ugly”. That was supposed to be a compliment.

I tried smiling, but couldn’t. So I slept…

The next few days were amongst the most boring I’ve ever lived through. Try being seven years old and lying down in a bed doing nothing but sleep, eat painfully and watch the whole world play and you will know.

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I’d done quite a lot of damage to myself. I’d bruised my knee. Scars still remain. I cut my upper lip. Scratches plentiful on my arms…

Ashok was a regular visitor. I soon got bored of him. All he would do was come and sit at the edge of the cot and stare at me. I knew he wanted to tell me something… and I knew he will soon…

I wanted to look at myself… I signed that to him-talking was still painful. And not talking was even more so!

He brought me a mirror. One glance a myself and I was shocked. Blue and pink were the two colors that best described my face. Seeing my expression, Ashok said admiringly, “You look uglier than two days back”.

I smiled at him. It was then that I saw- my tooth had broken too. I don’t know what it was, but seeing my small little tooth broken, I couldn’t stop the rush of hot tears that welled up. It was a tooth that had fallen off and grown again… the pain I had to go through before the new one came… Ouch!!!

Ashok’s face is something I remember to this day… priceless! If I was not so intent on crying and if I honestly hadn’t felt so bad, I would have laughed.

Totally helpless he said, “Please stop crying. Why are you crying…? Is it hurting all of a sudden?”

I pointed to my poor little broken tooth and sobbed my heart out…

Ashok then did the totally unthinkable. Hugging me fiercely he said, “Oh don’t you worry about your broken tooth… even if you look as ugly as this all the time and when you grow up, I’ll marry you. I promise. Cross my heart…”

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Ashok is getting married this July. A red invitation with a picture of Ganesh on it, sits in front of me, with a postmark that says he’s in Delhi now … Do you remember Ashok… what you promised me once upon a March…?

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

It rained in Chennai today…

Through the window Posted by Hello

Walking from my apartment to the road, I saw the most divine puddle ever… I looked ruefully at my dress-pale blue! What a waste of a delicious puddle! And I am old enough to walk around a puddle; not jump into it…

Evening I was thrilled. Work over and walking home, I carried my umbrella in my hand- unopened. The rain fell on… I love the rains…

On the pane Posted by Hello

Nearing the apartment, I was greeted with a wide expanse of brownish black or even blackish brown (I am a woman after all!) water!

My acrobatic skills were again put to test. I walked gingerly around the water body, climbed onto the little bit of verandah that was left of the other apartment in the compound, clung onto window sills and hopped over stones- I finally crossed the totally uninviting waters and reached the other side…

And finally down Posted by Hello

The rest of the way looked decent enough. A few meters from my apartment, there was this small little puddle…

Do not lead me into temptation…Please….

I jumped onto it, splashed all the water around-onto my dress and smiled victoriously! Aha!

This is called bliss. Contentment could also be used. Felicity, Rapture, Ecstasy-the dictionary provides me with a few other synonyms that but help express what I felt.

I walked happily and ‘dirtily’ into my apartment…a trail of dirty water behind me and a beatific smile on my face…

Monday, April 04, 2005

Daddy and Catch 22

I looked lovingly at all of them. I loved all of them with a love I knew not I was capable of. So many of the books, well thumbed. My old books and icky fingerprints. A watch I once thought I lost, it was found ticking off to glory in one of my books. I hate folding the pages of a book as a book mark, neither do I leave the book upturned… book marks I don’t have coz am too lazy to carry them with me or something like that…hence whatever was handy was placed as a mark to resume reading…and one such object that lay forgotten for months was my poor old watch…

I looked on happily at them… you know the proud feeling that a mother hen will have when she sees her chickens frolicking about in the sun. Cluck, cluck… *Beam*… *puff out all the feathers*… cluck, cluck

On one corner was an old green book. A green and cream cover. There is a physical ache each time I see that book… “Catch 22”.

I’ve never read that book… cant…

It was daddy’s favorite book.

Achan’s lap was the best place in the world. The one place I liked to sit. Even if he was reading a newspaper, or correcting reports; he never minded me sitting there. I was small enough to comfortably fit in there and daddy was long enough…

I remember him reading it…

“What are you reading?”
“Catch 22”.

This was what I liked about Daddy. Had it been Amma, it would have been a brusque, “A book”. As if I didn’t have eyes! Hmpf!

“Who’s the hero?”

Yossarin… nice name. I thought about the name for sometime. No one in school was called that… Yossarin…

“When will I get to read that book?”
“Whenever you want to…?”
“Can I read it now?”
“Sure. Take a look…”

I crawled under the book and between daddy’s chin…Hmmm…lots of words…. No pictures…. I slid down again… Daddy continued reading…

“When will I want to read it?”
“When you are old enough”

As if I didn’t talk enough already, daddy made me talk all the more…

“When will I be old enough?”
“When you can read the book”

I burst out into peals of laughter. I liked the way he talked. He had answers to everything…

Lowering the book, daddy smiled at me and said, “I hope you like it when you read it… because I like it a lot…”

I nodded my head. Oh- of course I’ll like it. I liked all what daddy did. To this day I like the smell of cigarettes and pan…

Safest place in the world Posted by Hello

Its many years later… a lot of people I ask tell me that Catch 22 is one hell of a good book. Raving reviews liberally splashed everywhere…

A certain French friend of mine was reading it when in India… laughing over it, quoting from it… he even made me read a few random pages…

But daddy… I still haven’t read it… I can’t seem to progress beyond the first few pages of the green and cream covered book …

I don’t think I am old enough to read it… I don’t think I ever will be…

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Of toilet doors, purple colored wrappers and napkins!

 Posted by Hello

The architect, who constructed the building where my company is situated, will win no prizes. Not true actually… he sure will win-for the lousiest construction ever.

We all sit in ‘bays’-everyone does these days. Spaces that are given to you. Your space that you can decorate- portraits, perfumed candles, flowers and even a potted plant.

You sneeze and the whole wing resounds. Mobile tunes of varying frequencies and horrible tunes are forced upon you. Lunch is eaten at your desk. People open steel vessels packed with loving care from mother’s at home. Or wives’ at home- not many people out here are married though. Tupperware is trendy. You just eat…

The toilets take the cake. ‘Privacy’ was the last of concerns for our very own architect when he built the loos!

The first few days I joined here, I would walk with acute embarrassment to that one place. The people in the bays sitting near the loos would give me distracted looks… I would walk like a limp model on a Parisian ramp-as if the whole world looked on at me… and quite suddenly I would even forget to walk! I might be overdoing it… but this is what I felt…

There is but one common entrance to the ‘bathrooms’! You open that, and you either bang into someone who comes from inside, or you hurry inside. I’ve done both…and several times.

The main door opened after whatever casualty, and there comes a decision making step. To your right or to your left? No help is given. The first time, I walked back embarrassed-I didn’t want to open the wrong door and see things I’ve not seen so far!

I waited for sometime, till I saw a person of the same gender as I, and followed her. The one on the right was the correct answer.

There is hardly enough space for three people to stand, once you reach inside! Two toilets-one of which the door doesn’t lock!

A few weeks later, I wasn’t as conscious about it as before. Then started my other plight-the guy who sits closest to the loo began smiling at me. Each of my ‘visit’ to that place was subject to beams from him! I pretended to ignore him, but he would turn around and look at me… Then came his attempt at friendliness. But I…? I wasn’t kind. I was mad at him, for making my journey all the more difficult!

Ok-everyone goes to the toilet. Everyone. So-what’s all this about?

It’s my plight. My discomfort. And more…

‘Those days of the month’… how on earth are you supposed to carry a napkin to the toilet without anyone knowing about it? Every girl gets her periods. At least, every girl I know does!

With stomach cramps, nausea and a bad mood-I have to find a solution to take the purple colored wrapper-inside which is the napkin!! All this without anyone seeing me carrying it!!

Handbags are one thing I’ve not mastered the art of carrying yet-among many other things I must say! A small backpack carries all I want to- a few packets of tissues which I generously lend my friends to clean their bikes, a comb I’ve not once used, a hair band I carry to tie up my hair in the afternoons when it dries(the rest of the day its held in place by a contraption someone invented called the ‘butterfly clip’)…a book that I am currently reading, an ATM card of someone I love (it has a picture of his!), a few tickets to the near by places I traveled on the bus, bills of things I bought years before…. and my wallet.

Carrying my backpack to the toilet is not the wisest move I’ve made. I’ve done it once and I got knowing smiles from a few girls. ‘Knowing smiles’ coz I went over and barked ‘What?’. To which they smiled all the more and said, “Periods huh?’ How come I never know when someone else has it?

I’ve lived with my flat mate for almost 6 months. Every night before going to bed, she brushes her hair, puts on a layer of powder, her bindi and curls her eyelashes! I’d never noticed this all the 6 months-until my newest flat mate commented on it!

I just never notice things. Warning bells go off when any of my friends come up to me and ask, “So, what’s different on my face today?” man, I dread questions like that. I never notice eye color unless they are striking, I never notice if people wear lenses, I never notice if they have lettuce stuck on their teeth… I never notice anything!

Ok, where was I? Yeah- on the way to the toilet at my office…

‘Those days of the month’ have just become more wretched-I’d never have thought it was possible… but yes they have!

I finally found a solution-I never notice things even if it’s staring at my face… I had to find the solution myself.

I went yesterday and bought a few yards of cloth. Strict instructions to my tailor, “I need pockets …”