I finally publish

Friday, September 30, 2005

Maktub- everything I have understood and not

Chennai- Mumbai- Paris- Somewhere in the US.

All in 3 days- planning, packing, panicking- in whatever order.

Leaving- the final step.

Arriving- the one after the final step.

Armed with numbers that are way too many digits long of random names of people I'll never call and apprehensions, I trudged through airports.

How's it- people ask. No aliens around. Or if there are- I haven’t seen any. I am but fresh off the boat.

Dont stay out late. This is not India- advises aplenty. I wish it was food instead.

Friends- sometimes the choices you make in life are not very wise. They are otherwise. To the most often asked question- "So, do you have many friends in the US?", I have to think before answering. To some people to whom I want to appear smarter than I am, I want to tell them a lot of wonderful sounding statements with important words. But words don’t come as and when you like them. I manage a "maybe" or a silly affected laugh that says, "No". People never take me seriously. Never figured out yet if that's a good thing.

Things I noticed so far (lack of a better alternative)

1. There are TCSians everywhere. The last of my friends to see me off at the airport was a TCSian. Chennai to Mumbai- TCSian as the guy on the seat beside mine. Mumbai to Newark- TCSian (another one), beside me again. The person who came to pick me up from the airport- TCS again!

Whoever coined the joke about Malayalees being everywhere apparently hadn't heard about TCSians. And mind you- none of these people above hailed from the so called God's own country.

2. I will never forgive my roommates. For being so good to me that I got used to being pampered. Right from packing my lunch box to packing my many suitcases- those girls have plain loved me too much. If I turn murderer here- they are to blame. It’s all their fault!!

3. My sister does love me a lot. I never expected her to burst into tears when I left- but well, she did cry. And she stayed awake the whole night and messaged me until I reached Mumbai. These months are going to be long for both of us.

4. The last voice I carried with me when I left India, I miss hearing it as often as I used to.

5. Everyone is alone. One just has to accept it and get used to it.

6. I bought myself a dreamcatcher.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

55 -why not!

Twirling, twisting, tapping, laughing, eyes shining we danced.

The music played on. Or not.

Breathless, sweaty bodies held in the infinite embrace of a few minutes.

The dark and sweet smell of two bodies and the night.

I don’t want to remember it. Or forget.

Of course he wasn’t the marrying kind. They never are.


I know she’s watching. When I add the wrong spices to the right curry. When making love. When I suck in the flabby stomach.

She drives me crazy with my need to be perfect for him.

An eternal punishment. For having stolen him. Not because I loved him more than she. I’d hated her more…


I listen. Not too keenly. It would offend him, had I.

He talks about her. Then another. And so on.

It’s when he doesn’t talk about other women that I worry.

His little fallacies keep alive. Our marriage. My surrealist superiority. My sanity.

I hope he doesn’t notice that I don’t talk of him anymore.


"I’ll only marry someone who can drive a car and very well at that.”, he said lazily stretching himself, “And someone who can cook exceptionally”

Unthinking words thrown carelessly.

She looked at the words scornfully. Conditional love never met with her approval.

She joined driving classes secretly the next day. Cooking classes that same afternoon.


They lost their way everyday. At least ever since she started accepting a ride from him.

“He wants to spend more time with me and hence the delightfully foolish excuse”, shyly looking at him she hugged her secret joyfully.

“These damned Chennai roads. And all the cursed buildings look alike. Damn!”, he swore to himself.


1706 miles from San Antonio to Delaware.

"Come and see me", I say.

A pregnant pause. Uncomfortable and heavy.

I laugh. It then becomes a sophisticated joke, which even I don't understand.

But I mean every word I say.

"Of course I will", he says.

We laugh.

He doesn't mean a single word he says.


The vase is full of myriad sprays.

Very like the men in my life. Good men, men whom I cared. None whom I loved.

I slide off the bed. Practiced ease.

It was good though. Like many times before.

No note left that would but say, “I wouldn’t recognize you if I saw you again”


Sleep was a million miles away. The television, a remote away. Entertainment, a furtive window across.

Standing by the shadows, she watches him.

She blushes when she sees him the next day.

He smiles politely at his gray spinster of a neighbor who plays the television loudly when he makes love to same named women.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Touch and go

It was a difficult weekend. Things not bargained for, unanticipated and definitely not welcome things, yet another test of whatever… Suffice to say- it was a difficult weekend.

A visit to the doctor’s and we got into the car. Even if it is a minute long drive, we play some music. And with it vanishes all traces of exhaustion, irritation and even despair. If I can hear music and think yet again how beautiful it is, all is not lost… yet.

I think I even sank back in the seat. My cousin was driving and smiled at me. I gave him a tired smile back. Smiles are to be returned, this is firmly believed. And we both went back to looking at the road ahead.

Sunday service was over sometime ago and late dwellers at the church trickled past in a lazy Sunday kind of walk.

It was then that I saw him. 20 years old at the max, a prostrate form on the middle of the road. We were used to seeing several people lying completely drunk, blissfully unaware of scornful and disgusted looks and curses aplenty of veering motorists. After all we lived in Pondicherry. But this time there was something wrong. I saw his body twitch in spasms. An epileptic seizure that had caught him unawares on the middle of the road. People came and people went... his seizures too...for a minute that lasted forever.

I yelled and the car immediately pulled to a stop and I leapt out before I even realized what was happening. Running over to the person I bent down. My cousin followed right at my heels.

“A key”, I told him. “Make him clasp that.”

I knew not whether it’ll help subside the attack, but this much I knew, that he wouldn’t maul himself with his hands if something was clutched.

We both looked in chagrin at the car key, a single rather pathetic, single affair. Lazy cyclists sailed past. Cars too; lethargically. We might as well have been invisible. Unfortunately our car which stood right in the very center as if in protest too, called for a lot of vehicles to stop.

I sat crouched beside him, helpless, while my cousin ran to the shops nearby yelling, "Someone give me something, keys, something in iron… anything..."

Help even if asked in loud, clear tones is not something easily obtained.

Blank looks and helpless shrugs later, he ran back with a bunch of keys.

By then a small mob had gathered around us. A hit-and-stop affair, interested onlookers expected.

Holding the bakery’s keys, the young boy twitched some more. It gradually stopped. People carried him to the pavement on the side. A bottle of some drink was thrust to his hands. The crowd shifted to the center of activity.

Several coins had scattered around where he first lay, he must have been returning home to a waiting household… I stood there and looked at scattered coins. Some people picked it up. I hope they returned it to him.

I saw his slippers, which had been flung afar. Torn affairs. Worn affairs, which were stitched several times over.

I picked them up and put them together by the side of a cycle near which he’d fallen. He’ll need them again.

I went back to the car.

Mummy looked at me enquiringly, her tired eyes full of concern.

I nodded. He’ll be alright.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Sunrise on my pillow

It was a Sunday morning. And Sunday morning's I’ve hardly seen. The room was dark- mom'd turned off the AC but it was still cold. Wrapped up in bed sheets, cocooned in pillows as always when at home... Pondicherry in summer is way too summery.

My mobile finds a constant place on one side of my pillow. And sometime in between the night, it is switched to the other side. Its not that I am always expecting someone’s call. No. But I like to see the time whenever I wake up- the clock is too far away for my eyes to see without the lenses or glasses on.

My mobile rang. I saw the name, black letters on a yellow display. They lit up my pillow and my life. I wondered for a second as to why he was calling me so early.


I didn’t hear him speak.

Hello again. I couldn’t hear anything. Not true actually. I heard something.

"Are you driving? Is that the traffic I can hear?"

"It’s the rain"

We both listened to it. Across miles... across a landscapes of dryness and another of rain.

Waking up to music is so much fun. Going back to sleep with the music playing in your ears is too.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The French chronicles

Miss. Tapashi came into my life when I was in class 4. My mother teaching in the same school as I was learning, was the eternal bane of my life. Until I met Miss. Tapashi that is.

To my utter horror, she became my mother’s fast friend. Together they saw to it that most of my lovely sunny days at school were quite gloomy.

If my mom missed the episode where I was sent out of class for not completing my geography charts, Miss. Tapashi would chose the wretched moment to walk past my class.

I had two choices when I moved on to grade 6- Hindi or French. My mother handled Hindi all the way from 6th to 12th. Six years of Hindi and my mother… I chose French. And with that I unwittingly chose 6 years of Miss. Tapashi, torn answer sheets, red color liberally splashed on my books…

It is said, isn’t it that a teacher’s child is always hated by the children? Thankfully in my case it wasn’t so. My mother was a holy terror in school. Miss. Tapashi was a holier terror then!

My classmates oozed sympathy. Once Miss. Tapashi came up with this wretched rule that any kind of conversation in class should only be in French. You couldn’t have found a quieter class. How on earth were you to make sentences of words like monkeys, cows, cats, dogs, ties, socks, cars, fishes, the market…the only words we seemed to ever know.

To most of Miss. Tapashi’s questions, we would answer , “Oui”.

Sometimes she meant something like, “Have you not completed the homework”.

Notebook with painfully constructed sentences, I would stretch out at her and in all innocence say, “Oui”.Yes, I haven't completed the homework.

We became cleverer at spotting the traps. Any sentence that had even a faint tint of “Non” or “ne” we would answer the same. Oh-we got into innumerable scrapes, but like all survivors we survived too.

It was one of those wretched days when I felt rebellious against the whole world. I fought with my friends, immediately made up, was sent out of class, was called back in… it was that kind of a day.

We had this huge French prayer to memorize. All of us would religiously chant it-we were then too young to make a decision on to be religious or not.

Miss. Tapashi was a little late to class. I brought a long stick of chalk and began drawing on my brown desk. That was something forbidden. Chalks were meant only for teachers except when you had to write something on the board, but then it took all the fun out of touching those cool fingers of chalk- doing math and all wrong at that in front of the whole class tends to take away any kind of joy.

When Miss. Tapashi bustled in, my friend warned me, “You better put it back”

I promptly stuck my tongue out at her. But there was a small pang of fear in my mind. Today was the day I was rebellious- but even I drew my line when it came to Miss. Tapashi.

Recklessness is contagious. My friend told me, “I bet you can’t throw the chalk from here to the desk”

“I bet I can. And it wont break too”

Now both of us knew that was next to impossible. But it was my reckless, rebellious spree and when on sprees like this, I make sure I make the biggest mess ever possible.

“Dites vos priers” Say your prayers.

I should have read an omen in that. A sign at least.

50 pairs of eyes closed in habit. Two opened after ‘Seigneur’. Lord.

I aimed carefully and threw the chalk. Right at Miss. Tapashi’s thick glasses. My friend and I frantically joined the others loudly at ‘donnez-nous la patience’, give us the patience. We both changed the words to best fit the situation. “Give Miss. Tapashi the patience”.

Prayer was in vain. My first instance at realizing that. For someone who told us, we should close our eyes while praying, Miss. Tapashi broke the protocol. She had her eyes open and to her horror she’d seen a white missile like object that flew straight at her eyes.

“Qui a jeté la craie?”, she asked quietly.

To the rest of the girls, she might have very well have asked, “How many of you washed your ears”. That good was our French even after months of learning.

A usual silence filled the class. For the very simple reason that only 3 of us understood what the question was.

Miss. Tapashi was known for many things. Her beautiful Bengal cotton sarees, her staunch loyalty to her friend my mother and her temper. A story of how she shook a girl who was caught bullying one of the girls from lower classes was almost a legend.

“Who threw the chalk”, she asked in English. She’d realized by then why our class was one of the quietest she’d handled in her many teaching years.

A collective gasp went off from the class. I gasped too. Not out of pretence. But the sheer temerity of the act shocked me. All of a sudden my rebellious streak left me. I wished I was part of the background. A piece of furniture maybe. Something non living instead of this living, eating, heart beating creature that I was.

I was sitting and feeling miserable for myself and almost deciding to get over with it and ‘fess, come what may, when I heard my (ex) friend say, “She did”, pointing at me.

Another gasp went up. I stood up. My legs shook. I looked scornfully at my (ex)friend hoping that she felt like a worm in a cabbage.

Then belligerently at Miss. Tapashi, “Oui. J'ai jeté la craie”

My classmates were on a breathless and sighing spree I guess. I heard another loud gasp- it could only be for the fact that I spoke in French, right or not was irrelevant.

I was the first girl to ever construct an answer to Miss. Tapashi’s question.

Miss. Tapashi asked me, her voice unnervingly quiet and even, “Would you have confessed if she hadn’t pointed you out?”

I realized that a ‘yes’ would have made me the heroine that I never would be. I heard myself say, “I don’t know”.

That was the right answer to any question in the question paper. Technically speaking I knew the right answer here. Then what on earth made me give a lame answer like, “I don’t know”, I know not till today.

Miss. Tapashi’s face showed a plethora of changing emotions. To all of our astonishment and my relief, she laughed.

She came over to my desk and peering down at me said, “I wouldn’t have believed you if you’d answered yes. I wouldn’t have believed you either if you’d answered no. I know those moments of indecision. And am glad you told me what you felt honestly.”

Walking back to the front of the class she also said, “But I do know, you would have stood up and confessed. That much I do know”

Something in me changed that day. I realized I actually liked Miss. Tapashi.
I realized I had bad aim.
I realized too that not all people close their eyes while praying.

I looked at my friend who was laboriously writing, her tongue out with the effort. I even forgave her in a fit of magnanimity- after all you cant help be friends in times of adversity. But I guess it was partly because she had an even more complex sentence to write out than I did. I had a lot of time to think all this while I sat writing “Je ne jetterai pas la craie” 500 times outside the classroom along with my friend.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Never say Adieu. Say Au Revoir.

I hate it when people go. Why is it I'm never the one leaving?

I remember after 12th, all my friends were leaving. Standing in the bus terminal, I threw my arms around my then best friend and wept. With her went a lot of things. She was the Miss. Always-right. And she made sure I was never Miss. Always-wrong. If there was anything good in life I did, any good element that rubbed onto me it was because of her. And I knew things would change. They did. Every vacation she came back, all she had to talk was about her college, her friends, her crushes, her parties... 'Our' was soon replaced. And from that so was I.

When I left her and came back to Pondicherry after Engineering, the last look I had of her was an early morn bedraggled look with misery writ large on her face. I was happy in a weird sort of way, ah- she's the one saying goodbye. Goodbyes were never two sided to me. But she had to ruin it. She came a few days later to Pondicherry and redid the scene- I was left standing waving to a long gone bus.

Someone leaving to London and I remember sobbing my heart out. So much so, that his mother who was crying delicate tears, wiped hers in amazement and helped my mom wipe mine. I guess its just coz I hardly cry that all the instances I did are clearly etched and when I do cry, I cry in not buckets but oceans. Piled up grief.

These days I'm those quiet and efficient farewellers.

5 trunks, 1 handbag and 2 children.
Reach and call, else I might forget all about you.
Oh- you'll miss me?
I might. Cant say.

Of Virgos and wishes

The list of people I love in life is pretty small. And I discovered of late that most of them happen to be Virgos. Saves trouble in a way. A one-stop wish for all of them on my blog.

He's started his flying lessons and am a trifle scared. Don't know why. Could be because its so different from the desk jobs that I know everyone does. What do you tell a guy who's flying a plane? Look left and right and don't overtake? Use the horn? Ah- take care sweetheart and an I love you to the winds which touch you and ruffle your hair.

I could write a book on him. I am terrified of using names to relationships. 'Best friend', 'Lover'; the moment I use such words, they turn to be otherwise or someone else's. I've known him for 8 years now. My love for him is ever changing- a little more than yesterday and a little less than tomorrow. I love the way he sleeps with his mouth partly open and when I nudge him, he would curl into a complete ball and sleep holding the corner of the bed sheet. He would always come to my house to sleep. I wouldn’t' know whether to be amused or irritated. He says he never slept as well anywhere. It wouldn’t be uncommon for me to come home from hostel during weekends to find him opening my door and going back inside to sleep. I did wonder if I came to the wrong house, but well... how on earth do you expect me to have normal friends?

He brought sanity to my otherwise insane world. That's the most I can say.

That's my little sister. My bank balance, that's an oxymoron actually. There is a bank. But no balance. I owe it all to her. But hell, I always enjoy buying stuff for her. Mom says I spoil her. But that's what little sisters are for aren't they?

What do you write about a guy who can make you completely happy and completely unhappy? He's got my unconditional love. I love his voice, the sexy-cigarette-smoke-husky voice, the way he laughs, the way he writes, the way he talks, what he talks and yes, even the way he sings. Sigh- yeah, women are so dumb.

I'm glad I have you all in my life. It makes more sense having you.

There's a catch though- most of them don’t read my blog or even know of its existence.