I finally publish

Friday, April 28, 2006

Take off your clothes

I was reading an article on men and their attitude towards shopping. Now, I've always had a soft corner to the guy species because of the fact that they were consistent. Hell, you've seen one- you've seen them all.

They hate shopping, love the remote, hate their mother-in-law, love their organ, hate your girlfriends, love football, hate pop music, love Harleys... see what I mean?

They're easy. All a girl has to be is smart- well, she already is, but if she didn't let her over powering love for the man blind her- she'll make him think he's top dog while he actually could be licking your hands.

Am not sure how well this is gonna go down with my readers, considering the fact that most of them happen to be men! But...

And S, honey, you've told me disclaimers are to be at the end of an article, but woman that I am, I conveniently forgot. It not only is allowed, but it’s in fact expected. I've known my boyfriends to be thrilled when they pounce on my absentmindedness and classify it to lack of efficiency and hence stroke their pride themselves with a line going- 'She just can't do without me'!

Ok- so where were we? Shopping ha!

We women cannot be stereotyped. No, seriously. For every two women you've seen who loves babies, there exists one who thinks the curse of eve was designed specifically to be avoided. The same with our view on cats, our attitude towards your mothers, your ex-girlfriends and your sense of humor.

Oh come on, don't argue here. Men are easier to classify. Dumb and dumber. S, sweetheart- you are special.

So every guy thinks we spend ages inside a store. It is expected.

When we entered the store to buy a grey Tee with a collar and no sleeves (summer!), I know everything about it. Including my size. And I am the kind of woman who doesn't have to try it on and sashay in front of the mirror.

"That's it?” S asks me a little incredulously. He doesn't want to sound too incredulous and be the one to make me realize that maybe I do need more clothes.

"Yeah. Lets go..."

"Are you sure there's nothing else you want? Like...", here he throws his hand vaguely about. The hint I am supposed to take here is the fact of his boyish charm in his lack of knowledge about women's clothing. I don't fall for it. He knows his A, B, C, Gs and very well at that.


We walk towards the counter. He's thoughtful.

"Is it something I said?"

HUH? He’s always saying things. But remember, I am forgetful. Or I chose to be!


"Is it because of the row over the low waist denim?"

I wish he was as forgetful as I pretended to be!

"Nope. I really don't need anything else!"

The lady at the perfume counter walks over and introduces herself. She then coaxes him to try on some perfume. Oh- not on him. On me! And after the misty spray settles on the skin of my hand, he sniffs it.

"Mmmm... Smells divine"

I DON'T infer that maybe he thinks the perfume I am wearing isn't good. Benefit of doubt. Or I'll deal with it later. Is Axe the only thing around, is something I wont ask him!

I nod my head. Yeah- it’s nice.

"Do you want it?"

Ok- before you all think otherwise- I'm paying.


He is now convinced something's terribly wrong.

He takes my hand. He's really become fond of the perfume.

The road to the counter is full of distractions.

'New Arrivals'

Copper sulfate blue and watermelon pink. Two shades that catch our eye.

He sees the interest in my eyes. It’s just the color, damn it! Walking over, I flip to look at the label.

Size and price.
I'm paying, remember?
One doesn't fit. And he knows what of the two, exactly.
I walk on...

"Why?" he wails!

I turn around, along with all the people around!

"It looks lovely!" ,and hastily, "You'll look wonderful in it. And remember you wanted something for the party over the weekend? This is perfect!"

I see envious looks from all the women around. Ok- they can have him!

I smile, a little strained by now. "I don't really need it now. Let's go..."

"Oh come on... Why don't you try it on?"

I see suspicious looks from the people around- maybe he works for the store.

"Honey, another time… "

The word reassures them that he belongs to me. The drama once again becomes interesting.

"And you have the perfect accessories for it. Those earrings we just bought, they'd go and so well with this".

Many of the women regret their marriage. Maybe they married in haste.

I laugh to dispel all the unwanted feelings in the air.

Pulling me closer to him, he picks up the outfit and says, "There. Just you look how good it is on you. Isn't it?"

Many disagree, I can see that.

Patting my rump playfully, he adds. "Go try it on. Let's see".

Shriveling from embarrassment, I run to the refuge of the trial room.

I don't give him my purse to carry. Neither do I hand him the baby I don't have, while I try on something!

Taking a few deep breaths to calm me down, I linger longer inside, so that the interested crowd of dissatisfied women get back to their lives.

Coming out after standing blankly, looking at the mirror that mirrors my sullen looks, I step out to an audience!

"Superb!” I hear him yell!

What’s with his volume?! Wincing, I try smiling and walking back into where I was before I became a model on the ramp.

He catches my arm and does a twirl! Kissing me on my lips, he looks at me fondly.

We are in CHENNAI for heaven's sake! And we were only shopping!

After the whole session of display of affection and very publicly at that, S lets me change into my sober yet another grey tee and jeans long unwashed.

We walk together till the counter which is hardly two steps away. Envious looks and smiles from women all around assail me.

They don't see the fact that I am the one who is paying.

I walk away with a dress I never wanted in the first place! And a boyfriend who's turned stranger by the minute!

Now, if alone I lay my hands on whoever it is who's informed the male species that women like pink dresses!!!!!

Why the hell is the woman at Pizza Hut smiling at him now for? Was she in the store? Or is it something I can’t see?!

Any takers for him? He's available at the price of a watermelon pink dress. I have the bill intact.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Turtle tales

It was a party. Too long ago to remember what for or even care. So long ago that pink cakes and ice creams meant stuffing yourself without budging from the table while dedicatedly ignoring mother's nudges. They'd brought the wrong baby from the hospital, my mother was convinced and many a times at that. Claims from my half blind grandma that I looked exactly like her mother, made them keep me I guess.

When mother's nudges turned insistent and un-ignorable, I reluctantly left the cakes that weren't remaining and wandered off. It was a grown ups party and the only reason why I was around was because Susie aunty who looked after me when my parents when out, wasn't around.

Stiff frock and tight ribbons, mother made sure anything that could be tied on was. The norms of good behavior in the book my mother's authored was read out yet again. Dad always took the easy way out. He promised me something very promising if I behaved. Eight and I was already smart enough not to promise anything out loud. I always gave a look which meant,"I'll consider".

I'd wandered desolately amidst straight trousers and crisp sarees. Occasional distracted pats on the top of my head from the hands above. I touched the ribbon on my head to see if it still was where it should be.

It was then that I saw it. An aquarium. To me then, it was a fish house. Aquariums had always depressed me. Seeing those melancholy fishes cooped up in restricted cube spaces, blowing empty bubbles at fake plants. The lone man in the bowl who kept lifting his hands up and down relentlessly. I was too young to know why, but enough that I didn't like fish houses. It was years later that someone told me goldfishes had 3 second memory spans.

They're still arguing about it. But that answer depressed me further. Imagine swimming about in the same place and not once realizing it was the same that you touched on a few seconds ago and the same that you will, a few seconds later... But then, maybe in it lay their sanity.

Too young then to take this train of thought, I walked up to the blue glass cage. It was empty except for a few plants that moved listlessly. It wasn't as empty, I realized when I saw the small mound at the corner move.

Mottled brown and tiny, was a turtle. Taking a quick peek, it rushed back into darkness on seeing a pair of eyes peering at it intently, my nose pressed on the glass. To me it then became a game of peek-a-boo.

Toasty beds and turtle stories helped in the absence of fear. I wouldn't have done it today.

Putting my hand into the water, I lifted the turtle out. Dripping wet and terrified, it lay unmoving on my insufficient palm.

Stroking its hard shell, I peeped inside. Mother had always forbidden what was eternally tempting- voyeurism into lives.

And it reacted the way it knew best, by shutting me who was already out; out.

Mother came looking for me. The unmoving pink ribbon on my head must have told her my attention was caught by something. And that I definitely was doing something I shouldn't.

We were leaving and in the flurry of goodbyes that were tossed around, she didn't see what came along with us that day from the party house.

Sitting on daddy's bike, sandwiched between my parents I held on to what had already become, my turtle.

Mother thought it was a cake. Daddy never bothered. And the turtle, well, we were friends weren't we?!

"Where do turtles sleep?"

I asked mother when she shook out sheets furiously, a habit she handed over to me.

"What sleep?"

"Turtles", I explained patiently. Mother was always a little slow.

She looked at daddy helplessly.

"In their beds"

It made a lot of sense to me then.

"Can I bring it to bed with me tonight?" and as an afterthought. "We can buy it another one tomorrow!"

Mother thought it was a book I was talking about. Daddy never bothered. And the turtle, well, we were friends weren't we?!

I knew things were being too easy.

When I heard mother scream, I almost relaxed. This was at least familiar!

But it was only her first reaction. Daddy was terrified of the turtle, something he'd never seen but in pictures. Even at the extent of abandoning his only family to terrifying creatures, daddy plain refused to touch what he called, 'the creature'.

Mother always surprised me. Picking up MY turtle carefully, she turned it upside down and tickled its stomach!

Daddy disowned mother.

Carrying it on her palm, she walked over to the fridge. Vegetables and fruits.

Putting me on her lap, we watched it eat. That's when I felt it was almost a kindred spirit. It was messier an eater than I was!

Mother's clear and happy laugh rang that night.

But I knew, something was coming. I always knew things like these.

Turtles bring bad luck to homes.

On that summer night, I told goodbye to a friend who turned friendlier to my mother.

A thousand apprehensions filled my mind when I saw the turtle sitting in the sand and not budging. We waited on the rocks, mother and I. Daddy was a faint glow of cigarette.

Finally, it crawled in slow paces.

"How many turtles do you think are there in the sea?"




"Hundreds, hundreds?"


Mother held me against her, the summer wind blowing us nowhere.

"I hope he can recognize his mother…"

Her arms gripped me harder. "She'll be able to recognize him."

Monday, April 17, 2006

Looking back when walking away

The slight rain that drizzled caught in our hair. We'd walked the glistening black streets looking for something to take me away.

We hadn't talked much.

I should have thought about it a while ago. Maybe at 12.45.

But I really did want a last look at you. Final attempt at femininity. Or expressing love. To myself even.

Would you as all boys do, wait for the auto to turn the corner or out of sight and walk away thinking of football or would you cross the road immediately searching for that elusive cigarette that you never know is where on you...Or would you wait like lovers on television; forlorn and affected and hope that the auto turns back...

It would have been way too simple if I could. Where plastic windows exist, I had one with a cloth. Opaque. Maybe they make raincoats with it. Or auto windows.

Monday, April 10, 2006

One more entry into the journal of sophisms

There really is no loss. I went discovering this the reverse way. Like I discovered there really was no gain. It was pretty simple.

Curling around him in the car across every road that becomes lonely at night in Chennai. The eyes with a will of their own, close.

He's talking. From him I've learned how to answer at the right moment and the right things.

I was becoming better than him. He never realized where my attention was. Or wasn't.

But I'd never considered him fool. Half a ear caught his voiced words. He would have known otherwise. And I owed it to him.

When the voice stopped falling on the ear, it offended the pattern. I could almost feel him gathering back words that had carelessly left his lips.

He'd called me by her name.

Force of habit, I console myself. Or is it, the voice that always asks, asks.

My hands disentangle themselves from his body. I move away pressing my body to the window by the door.

I see hurt without reflection. I run every syllable of her name over my tongue. They taste bitter.

The car gets into a corner too. His apologetic body turns towards me.

I see a curious onlooker who peeps into our car. My mind yells at him. Go away. We aren't doing anything that will interest you. No tentative fingers at places of your interest.

My cell phone rings silently making a small unwarm glow in the dark. We both watch it.

We're boring. He walks away disappointed.

The words that we don't speak jostle each other trying to escape from the confines of the automobile.

I'm sorry.

I lower the window.

I forgive him. It doesn't mean a thing.

It makes me magnanimous. Maybe...
It makes him more human than he cares to accept. Maybe...

Monday, April 03, 2006

Broken summer spells

So when we're walking from one neon light to another at the beach, we take in the warm and salty smell of the sea, the tinkle of ice cream vendors who watch people distractedly and women who walk around with brown baskets full of summer flowers.

He buys me flowers. I love wearing flowers. The haunting smell that walks with me everywhere... yes, I love wearing flowers.

His hands feel warm and coarse in mine. Unlike the one I'd held before and for long months. Its amazing how one can adapt to different things. Or to different men...Sometimes I wish this was the last one.

We make heads turn. Both of us smile to ourselves knowing that we look good together. It pleases us no end.

His hands run a line connecting the three moles on the length of my hand. They're the perfect points for a straight line - a graph. Like those 3 stars you see forever in the sky. I don't know what they're called, but you do know what I mean, don't you?

I once colored my hair pink, he says fondly. A trifle arrogantly too.

It’s my cue to say something I've done. To regret maybe. But to look back and smile in fondness definitely.

My other hand draws patterns in the sand. No, not those random ones. I realize it’s the one I used to doodle when way back in school.

I have a tattoo, I lie carelessly.

His fingers drop from my hand. The pause. The first step of abandonment.

The longer pause. He takes a step back in our life together. The actual act of abandonment. I wonder what his exit line will be with me, him being creative and all with the women in his life…

Where? Did I ever consider his voice gentle?

I take his hands that have long left my body. Placing them on the lower end of my spine, I lie again. Here.

And recklessly pointing to the sun which I've brought to the sand, 'It looks like this.'

I can now smell the stench of fish. The smell of oil mixed in water from the numerous boats that will never be lost at sea.

Tattoos and them being slutty on women, his voice says.

I lost a guy over a tattoo I never had.
We walk back together to where we never came from.
And I left the flowers behind.