Sunday, 20 December 2009

i am three

There are three of us.
Three who sit and fuss.
Three who sit and ponder, what to do next.
Three who decide what is our next conquest.

So often when something goes wrong,
(and it does; life is no song),
I wonder: who is to blame?
When did this all become a game?

It was I. I decided to do something spunky.
Something unlike me, something quite funky.
You see, she’s no good with the opposite sex.
She’s only good when she texts.
So it was up to me;
It was up to me to set the truth free.
So I told the boy, see boy, this is the deal,
We like you, so how about a meal?
Well, things didn’t turn out so well,
And the boy wasn’t so swell.

And now, now she’s blaming me.

To be fair,
It really was quite a dare.
And to be just,
To tell him, well, it was a must.
To see her agonizing everyday,
(someone usually as brave as pepper spray)
Was getting on my nerves.

For a first time, it wasn’t so bad.
But of course, she was mad.
It was the only thing which went wrong this year,
The only thing we tried to wash down with beer.

Well, number two sits quiet, as always.
For her it’s been a tough phase.
The two of us always squabbling,
She, always rationalizing.
It’s toughest for her, she is the public face.
The one we show in any public space.

And we, well we can squabble it out inside,
All her work and thoughts aside.
She’s decide what to do about it,
We have no choice but to wait it out and spit:
No boys? No boys, no joys, no toys.
Why, why would anyone make such a choice?
I think she blames me.
For setting her soul free.
Well unfortunately, it didn’t quite get free.
You see,
It got burnt and came back scorched,
And she, well she doesn’t want to get torched.

And so it is.
Rationalisations and straight faces.
Black ink and work cases.
We’ve covered up all the fear,
We laugh and chat and drink beer.
We’ll probably forget about it soon.
But sometimes.. well sometimes, she cries under the light of the moon.
Especially lately, when it rains.
The weather seems to bring out all the pain.
Under the speedy clouds and hazy city sky,
She sits and waits for the dark to pass her by.

And the next morning, she’s up once more,
Brewing coffee, chatting, acting skills coming to the fore.
“It isn’t acting,” she insists.
It’s just moving away from life’s occasional mists.

She doesn’t blame me anymore.
She isn’t one to keep score.
She knows the three of us are all in it together anyway,
So even if we want, we can never really stray.
But I wish she would stop crying inside.
(she doesn’t do it outside anymore, but I know it hurts within)
I do wish that silly boy would call her and take her for a spin.
After all, everyone needs to play truth or dare.
What is life without the occasional fright or scare?

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

tainted love

“Those who hate most fervently must have once loved deeply; those who want to deny the world must have once embraced what they now set on fire.”
–Kurt Tucholsky

Thank you, Mr Tucholsky. My ability to swing from pure love to icy anger sometimes amazes even me. Some people blame it on the duplicitous nature of my sun sign but that could be a load of pigeon poo. Of course, I will say I have valid reasons and my shifts are based on unblemished (or sometimes slightly adulterated) logic. In my defense I am more logical than most of the other women I know. In bits and sometimes by leaps and bounds. But still. Human emotions are complicated. I will never completely understand them. Sometimes I spend hours analysing my own idiotic overreactions and once I figure out a practical approach to a problem, I botch it up again. Out of pride or hurt or a combination of the two. I’ve given up on analysing others’ behaviour. Because one never knows where it could stem from. They have their reasons, warped or not. Even if you know a person really well, you never, ever know them completely. We’re all tainted, complicated creatures.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

beauty and the beast

There were hushed whispers when she walked into the room, her white sari demurely wrapped around her head and her hands folded in front of her as she took her place in front of her late husband’s body. She couldn’t hear much of it but if she glanced about the room, she would have gotten a fair idea. “She brought death upon that family…”, “He should never have married her…”, “Look at her, so ugly.. poor boy, see what happened”, “That Chatterjee girl was the right match for him… This one, tho…” So on and so forth. You get the idea.


I knew what they were probably saying. Yet, it did not matter anymore. I felt strangely elated. Rid of all that had made me sink to the depths of almost nothing – for that was how I had been treated in the Bose household. When Jaideep finally chose me as his wife (out of dozens of other extraordinarily beautiful and talented women, mind you), his family was shocked. To say the least. His grandmother threatened to take her life, his mother would not come out of her room for a week (“You want to give me grandchildren who look like, like herrr?!” she screeched), and his siblings all chuckled in private (in public they promised to talk their brother out of it) because they thought the property would now go to them. But Jaideep, my future husband, was fixated on me. And for what reason, even I did not know at first. But I did come to know later. Oh, how I did. And how I was treated…


“She won’t get a paisa,” the mother-in-law muttered to herself as she wrapped her own white silk sari around herself a little tighter. “The little bitch… All her fault he died. All her fault..” The last few words trailed off into some genuine tears. After all not only did her beautiful, strapping, fair son marry a girl with a mouth which looked like a hare-lip, but he also died five years later, without producing a single heir. Of course there were rumours. But they were all rumours of course. A boy as fair and good-looking as Jaideep could never, ever do such things or be such a person. His mother shuddered thinking of what she had heard in the last five years. That he was caught with young boys, many under the age of ten, that he bribed the Panchayat head by doing him a couple of ahem favours as well. No, it was all untrue. Lies spread by her daughter-in-law because she was unable to produce an heir for the Bose family. Not that she could blame her son for not sleeping with his wife. What with that mouth of hers. And the mother-in-law gave a little shudder again. Maybe it was a good thing Jaideep died. So that he would never have to kiss that mouth again. And she burst into loud wails. Oh why, why, why did such a handsome, promising Bengali boy pick such a disfigured little bitch.


Suman looked at his sister-in-law. He was amazed. After everything that she had been through she was still standing tall, not breathing a word against anyone or ever speaking up for herself. His mother treated her worse than she treated the maids. At first Saraswati was made to clean the toilets because “the staff cannot do it properly and need to be shown how,” and later she became his father’s nurse. The crotchety old man was paralysed on his left side and needed constant care and attention. His paralysis didn’t stop him from wanting to climb on top of any woman that he came across. His daughter-in-law was the perfect victim especially since he knew his son would not be bedding her. The fag was too busy engaging in activities with any other man he met, who gave off any hints of being “different”. Although young boys were Jaideep’s favourite. Suman remembers having to pay off the maidservant’s family because her seven-year-old was once found bleeding and intoxicated (don’t ask with what) just outside Jaideep’s courtyard one day. The boy had been sodomised several times and his mouth was bleeding from other ahem activities as well. Saras was aware that Jai had no interest in women, and married her only because he was expected to marry. The family adored him, his beauty and manliness. They would never blame him for anything. “He married that girl because he is such a good boy. He knew nobody else would marry her and wanted to give her a good home,” was what the villagers said.

Bullshit. Jaideep wanted an excuse. Not to be obligated to satisfying his wife’s physical needs (which he now left to his father) and not to have any children. Because who could blame him for not regularly visiting his wife’s chambers when she looked the way she did. Suman sighed. His death was probably for the best.


Dr Mukherjee did not know where to look. When he looked at the eldest Mrs Bose weeping copiously into her silk sari, he felt like slapping her and taking out the large stick that she probably had stuck up her rectum. When he looked at the younger Mrs Bose he felt like weeping. Because he had done so much for the family against her. He was told to do so. Then when he saw the corpse, he didn’t know if he should cry or rejoice. Dr Mukherjee had been the Bose’s doctor for decades. He delivered Jaideep and had placed the warm bundle in his mother’s arms. Had he known what havoc Jai would wreak, he may have considered strangulating the baby in his sleep.

But even now, after so much horror, Saraswati was still standing before her husband’s body, her face expressionless yet with a firmness to it. Dr Mukherjee had performed two surgeries on her, as the family had requested him to. One was to “rectify” her hare-lip, and had only made it worse. The second was an abortion. Senior Mrs Bose was worried the baby would inherit the “lip” from Saraswati and asked that the pregnancy be terminated. The doctor knew the truth, though, since he was Jaideep’s doctor as well and was aware that the boy had eccentric sexual habits. The baby had been fathered by Jaideep’s father. His mother of course was blind to all sexual activities of the men in her house, and acceded when old Mr Bose suggested an abortion to prevent having a disfigured grandchild.

Dr Mukherjee also knew how Jaideep really died. The many STDs and alcoholism which had finally crept up on him, destroying his liver and other organs. Though he secretly suspected the boy of being HIV positive, since his immune system had been ridiculously off-colour towards the end. Who’d have thought, the doctor thought quietly, that such a gorgeous boy was so inhuman inside. Raping young boys and men, sometimes even scarring them and their insides for life, providing sexual favours to anybody who asked, and going to anybody to get a blowjob or two. All the while, allowing his decrepit old father to get off on his daughter-in-law because she looked a little different. Dr Mukherjee didn’t know who to be angry with. The family or himself for helping them.


When I finally looked up, I saw these faces. Each with different expressions. My mother-in-law crying, my brother-in-law looking almost amazed and the poor doctor looking grief-stricken. Not because Jai died but because he had partaken in everything. I looked at the corpse. Jai was as beautiful as ever; he looked like he was in a peaceful sleep, except his skin had taken on a yellow tinge after his liver failed. As his body burst into flames after Suman lit the pyre, I looked at my hands. There were cuts where the women had broken my bangles, nail marks where they grabbed my gold jewellery and rubbed off my sindoor. All because I was now a widow.

I felt relieved. I knew what I was going to do with the rest of my life. It had finally begun, now that my husband was dead. Luckily he and his father were too unwell for anybody to suspect that I had a hand in anything. And really, I didn’t. I only nudged them towards the white light, when they were already quite close to it. Jaideep was gone, now soon the father would follow. And I would be free. The thought overwhelmed me. I finally found myself weeping softly.


for a little more light on some of the things I've mentioned here, read about what widowhood entails for some women in India.

Friday, 13 November 2009

time after time

We are approaching the end of a cataclysmic decade. And i have a feeling the next one will leave us as dazed as this one did. Perhaps. Weirdly, this decade seems to have everything except a name. What should I call it… The 2Ks? You could look at it like a series of catastrophes – terror attacks, tsunamis, our democracy beginning to run under a Mario Puzo-esqe family. But there’s also been good stuff, though it doesn’t come to mind immediately! And so stuff from the ages gone by have gotten old and wrinkled and are becoming quaint. Take Friends for instance. Or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I remember drooling over Angel, watching him creep about in the darkness on Star World. And now it’s Twilight. Bye bye MJ, hello Jay-Z; so long Princess Di, greetings Mrs Bruni-Sarkozy?

We are in an age when things pretty much fly past us without us even realising. Then we wake up and we’re 25 or 35 or 50 or 70 and think, Christopher Columbus, where the hell did all the years go? (yes, there are people who say Christopher Columbus; come home and meet my witty grandaunt.) But even if it whizzed by, the first decade of the millennium will be one my generation will remember.

9/11, the exodus to countries like America and Australia, and now the exodus from those countries back to the “Far East”, iPods, ahem George Bush, Harry Potter, swine flu and SARS, Facebook and Twitter and Blackberry… the list is endless. I remember saying a quick thank you as we counted down the last few seconds of the previous millennium. I haven’t the faintest idea what I thanked the powers-that-be for but I foggily remember Nancy Drew making the list. This time, it has to be for all the lessons I’ve learnt in the past decade; for growing up and not turning into the crazy-ass kid who is a drug abuser and skids smoothly out of jail every few months because his daddy owns an MNC or runs a political party. I turned out fairly normal, even though the world around me was pretty insane. And it is insane for everybody now, regardless of their backgrounds.

Happy 2Kteens, everybody (clinks beer mug) and see you soon, hopefully!

Monday, 2 November 2009

young and restless

Adventure. Hmm. It seems that my life seriously lacks any adventure at the moment. But someone very close to me is embarking on what is possibly life’s biggest adventure – marriage.

Yup, my sister is getting married this month. Which is why I’ve decided not to indulge in any Nanowrimo or anything of the sort, because it’s quite possible she might disown me if I pay my writing more attention than her wedding. Fair enough. People get married only once. Erm. Well, most people. And I’m hoping my sister is one among the ‘most’. I’m sure the lovely couple will run into enough hurdles [they already have!] but well, nobody ever said marriage was easy. Hence I say… adventure.

As for why my life lacks any adventure… I’m not quite sure. I’m working myself to the bone but for some reason it’s no enough. And it’s not even “work” per say. I “work” only three days a week. The rest of the week has gone in attending Odissi class or reading [I’m reading a lot of late] or shopping for the wedding, or something of the sort. But for the past few months, something has been missing. I’m in cynical overdrive and there are a few moments of light, but otherwise I’m just plain bored or pondering over extremely philosophical things.

I need change. I know it won’t happen soon. A couple of years perhaps. But I need a different city, a change in lifestyle… something or the other. A change of friends maybe? I really don’t know. I love Chennai. The culture, the beaches, the people [well, most of them at least], the food, my friends, my home and whatnot. But I’m getting seriously restless, and I don’t know why. I need some adventure. Ahem some non-opposite sex-related adventure. A new phone, new dog or new job will just not do. I was thinking I’d save up and go do that masters in Creative Writing that I’ve been dreaming of for a while now. That would also take another couple of years though. Maybe I’ll just have to wait. After all, it’s not like adventure will drop into my lap. I’m going to have to find it on my own. But, in Chennai?! Where?!

For now it’ll have to be my sister’s wedding and the giant lot of relatives and friends my mother and I will be meeting after many, many moons. Family reunions can be fun, right? I hear snorts. It was a rhetorical question; please try to be a tad supportive. Sigh.

Friday, 4 September 2009

the date

There’s only one thing running through my head. Like a chant. Oh God. Oh God oh God oh God oh God. I’ve almost entirely convinced myself that you are the key. To it all.

Do you see it? While you’re sitting across the table from me trying to decide what to order, do you see it? Do you see anything bubbling beneath my surface?

No, of course you don’t. I haven’t told you yet. Because you may not be the key at all. All those books on meditation tell me I have the key, that I’ve always had it. So why should I believe that you could give me any joy which I cannot find for myself?

What if I tell you, and you turn out not to be a key at all? Or what if you don’t fit? Because I’ve obviously built you up way too much in my head. Given you too much credit, dreamt of you too much. Of your stupid voice which is far from perfect but gives me goosebumps, and your long, pale fingers, your pretty face and the shock of black hair.

See what I mean?

So maybe you’re the key to everything. Maybe you’re not. But how would I know unless you get your nose out of the menu and allowed me to make the mini-speech I’ve practiced so many times while lying on my bed?

You look up from the menu and catch me staring at you. Those pretty eyes under that pretty hair. Now you’re staring at me half-nervously, half-expectantly. Like you know what I’m thinking.

It’s time for the practiced speech.

Oh God oh God oh God.

the date

There’s only one thing running through my head. Like a chant. Oh God. Oh God oh God oh God oh God. I’ve almost entirely convinced myself that you are the key. To it all.

Do you see it? While you’re sitting across the table from me trying to decide what to order, do you see it? Do you see anything bubbling beneath my surface?

No, of course you don’t. I haven’t told you yet. Because you may not be the key at all. All those books on meditation tell me I have the key, that I’ve always had it. So why should I believe that you could give me any joy which I cannot find for myself?

What if I tell you, and you turn out not to be a key at all? Or what if you don’t fit? Because I’ve obviously built you up way too much in my head. Given you too much credit, dreamt of you too much. Of your stupid voice which is far from perfect but gives me goosebumps, and your long, pale fingers, your pretty face and the shock of black hair.

See what I mean?

So maybe you’re the key to everything. Maybe you’re not. But how would I know unless you get your nose out of the menu and allowed me to make the mini-speech I’ve practiced so many times while lying on my bed?

You look up from the menu and catch me staring at you. Those pretty eyes under that pretty hair. Now you’re staring at me half-nervously, half-expectantly. Like you know what I’m thinking.

It’s time for the practiced speech.

Oh God oh God oh God.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

10 steps to being an adult

1. Nobody cares about your problems. Except you. If they appear to, it’s because they want something from you. So get a grip and stop whining.
2. Even if they don’t care and pretend to (or not), don’t hate them. It’s not their fault they’re materialistic, scummy humans.
3. You know what. Don’t hate anybody. Ever. There’s no point and you are simply wasting your time and energy. Be the bigger person.
4. The above does not mean allowing people to treat you like their door mat when it pours for 40 days and 40 nights. Be, well, a grown up about it!
5. Expect nothing. From anyone. Even your parents. (Unless you have exceptional parents)
6. If you’re single, it doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. Do you really want to be like the friend who’s been in an abusive relationship for five years but can’t get out, purely because her boyfriend is like a drug habit she can’t kick? Be single. Enjoy it.
7. If you’re in the above relationship, you know what the next step is.
8. Work politics, politics between friends, family politics… get away from it all. It’s too bloody complicating and you lose track of who you’re telling what lies to.
9. Do yoga. Seriously. Why do old people get into yoga or meditation? They’re not boring. They’re realized they’ve wasted the first 50 years of their lives getting into crappy relationships or getting involved in painful politics, and they want to get away from it all. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind.
10. Learn how to cook if you don’t know. And for God’s sake get a job and stand on your own two feet. Okay so that’s two points. Ah well, who said adults could count.

Monday, 20 July 2009

five week plan

My plan was to write. Have I written? A big, resounding NO. But I had also planned to catch up with life, give myself some space, do a little introspecting and have some fun. It was a good month, June 18 to July 18. I did everything but write. The hell with introspection too. We tend to analyse too much anyway. I did give myself space though. From things which normally occupy huge spaces in my head. Maybe that’s how I had fun over the last month.

Alas the time for action and introspection has arrived yet again.

Now I have some new plans. Of course it involves a lot of writing. It also involves meeting new people and discovering new things, perhaps placing myself in situations I’ve never been in before.

Five year plans? Nah. I may die in the next five weeks, forget five years. Which means… I’d better finish my discovering soon!

Monday, 29 June 2009

Kamikaze bear

Sizzling. I was sizzling. And I don’t mean in a red-hot, sensuous kind of way. The sun was high – it was around noon. I was already sweating after dance class, now I could feel it dripping down to the small of my back.

Dazed and on the verge of heat-stroke (yes, I tend to over-dramatise things a tad) I blinked blearily when my bus finally arrived. I clambered on, shoving people out of my way, and managed to find myself a window seat. Then I got a ticket, switched on my iPod and closed my eyes in bliss.

I was nearing home when a random, cheeky boy dumped his black backpack on my lap from outside the bus. (Welcome to India, where strange occurrences are common). Now this is normally done when the bus is overflowing with people and there’s not much standing space either, so the ones lucky enough to be seated are dumped with the bags.

I looked around. Not so crowded bus. Not in the least. And where the hell was the cheeky boy. Why the hell did he even pick my lap to dump it on. I was far away from the doors of the bus. The middle-aged lady sitting next to me glanced at the bag and back at me. I shrugged.

Why, why, why. Why me. Then I thought. What if it was a bomb. And visions of me exploding and meeting an early death suddenly bombarded me. Visions of friends not knowing for several days, and of my brother crying in his white kurta, while lighting the pyre on which my corpse had been kept… the middle-aged lady was looking at me again. I tried subtly re-adjusting my posture and shaking the bag to see what was inside. Upon looking around, the boy was nowhere to be seen. Maybe he had disappeared after planting the bomb. Yellow-hearted, non-kamikaze, fool. And then I thought. What the hell. If some random passer-by dumps his bag on me, why should I allow it. I live in a free country. I can check what’s inside.

So yours truly vehemently tore open the bag. And my breath stopped.

It was a hideous looking creation. Purple in colour, carrying a heart which claimed ‘‘you’re special’’. The teddy bear looked at me with its beady eyes, as if chastising me. And behind him, were a stack of notebooks.

I felt incredibly stupid. Maybe I did have a heat-stroke after all. Or maybe Mr Bear was a ticking bomb.

I thought again. Naah.

Monday, 15 June 2009

chronicles of the absurd

Isn’t it absurd how you can suddenly see old friends in a new light? It’s a class A cliché, I know. But this morning when I met Manu, I thought… why not him? I mean, he has had the hugest crush on me ever since we met. Everytime he comes to town he wants to see me, he’s always saying how nice I look. And look at Zayed. Four years later, I’m wondering what the hell I’ve been doing with him. I think I only remember being happy in the first year.

Isn’t it absurd how I can continue to think these things, but still remain with Zayed. What is it with bad boys? Is there something about the XX chromosome which is drawn only to philanderers and lying nicotine addicts?

And isn’t it absurd how no matter how well you know someone, an outsider ends up having more insight into said person than you do? I never realised Zayed had serious psychological problems till a friend of mine suggested it to me.

It’s even more absurd how people in his life, from his wife to his kids, have never noticed it either. I was wondering whether I should tell my mother about it. But of course, that’s an option only if I want to be branded insane myself. She would ask why, why I thought my father had “psychological problems”. And what could I say. Because he’s screwing his 20-year-old stepdaughter? Mentally and physically? Nope. Definitely not an option. Could I tell him about it? Probably not. Although, perhaps I could blackmail him into seeing a psychiatrist. No more making out or fondling or sex till Zayed visited Dr Nair.

Isn’t it absurd how we always, always hope for the best, though we are too weak to fight the atrocities of life? It really is. It’s ridiculous how I dream of a normal life, but still melt everytime he touches me. It’s silly how the whole world thinks I’m a sensible girl, but every few nights I let my step father do unmentionable things to me. And it is completely absurd how in love he is with my mother, and how she has never noticed anything out of the ordinary.

Life is just plain absurd. Sometimes it’s comic, but most times it’s just terribly tragic for me. I wonder if Manu would want to be with me if he knew just how tragically absurd my life was.

No. I don’t think so either.

Monday, 13 April 2009

tonight i can write...


It's horrible.


Even worse.

Combine both and you have a recipe for disaster.

While my mother is away and my sister and dog are snoring across the hall, I sit and waste time, looking at the minutes pass me by. Precious minutes wasted. I cannot write. I'm too tired. I think. Far too much. And I worry even more. I wonder, do we ever live in the present or are we always stuck in the past or looking to the future?

I can't even read because I'm too sleepy to focus. And the two or three friends I have left in the universe are deeply sleeping. I'm thinking about a Pablo Neruda poem I heard in school and came across again a few weeks ago. I wish I could write like that. And I will keep wishing.
If you haven't read any of Neruda's work, life is incomplete. I think even if you've never been in love, if you read Neruda's work, you'll find out about love and loss. Sigh.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example,'The night is shattered
and the blue stars shiver in the distance.'

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me sometimes, and I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is shattered and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight searches for her as though to go to her.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another's. She will be another's. Like my kisses before.
Her voide. Her bright body. Her inifinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my sould is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

to you

Second post in a night. The five incomplete scripts on my desktop can wait. I’ve been thinking about the people in my life.. they come and go, but many have left marks on me. Smiles, hickeys, scars.. whatever marks you’d like to think of. Call me sentimental or unforgiving but I’ll never forget the marks. Whether they were left in love or war doesn’t make a difference. And I’d like to thank them. Here goes.

1&2. My mother and sister. My world revolves around them and vice versa. Enough said.

3. The Mallu lifesaver. Yes, you helped me pass all my French exams. And many other exams too. You also made me a better person. Less negative. Maybe more positive, even. Wink. We don’t speak so often now, but you’re always there on my mind. I hope you find what you’re looking for.

4. The poet in the valley. The man who first told me and showed me that I could write. The first person (and to date, the only person) who wrote me a poem. And not just me.. he wrote 40 of us a poem. We all love you to pieces and wish we could see you and cry on your shoulder more often. You are sturdier than Cave Rock itself. They valley would not be the same without you.

5. My Mallu wife. Grin. Seas may separate us but 10 paise Hutch to Hutch calls or not, the bond remains. We fight. We make up. We fight again because she’s not called me in ages. We make up again. So on and so forth. She lends me her beautiful books and sometimes designs for me. Think ‘fridge space’. I would need a damn good reason to divorce her.

6. The friend that was. Thank you for everything. For showing me life is never as we see it. For teaching me to be smarter about my friends. For hurting me and teaching me many lessons. You may have gone after college ended but I think of you still. And I will never forget. I hope you are happy now, and smarter. I wish you all the goodness that you never wished for me.

7. For the whiney whiffer. At one time the first person to message me in the morning and the last person to message me at night. I’m so happy you’ve found sturdy ground and found your niche. I’m happy you never let him get to you. I’m happy you never let your family destroy you. Thank you for being my friend.

8. For niyo. You know who you are. You changed my life and will continue to change it every day I know you. Thank you for all the joy. And thank you for all the scars. You have made me stronger as well as weaker. I hope the bond remains forever.

9. Ru fru. The one who has had a million obstacles to overcome and yet she remains positive. I wish I could learn from you and not resent your family for how they treat you. I will miss you when you leave.

10. The Stella gang. One word : madness. A madness which I still miss terribly on occasion. Another word : randomness. Sitting under trees, bunking classes to discuss philosophical issues arising out of our text anyway. Our profs could have learnt something from us. I miss you mad hatters and hope you’re all happy.

11. The Bong ball. I can’t remember if I had the crutches during the ISC or if you had the crutches… or maybe we both had crutches. Somehow we’re extreme opposites but almost identical. How? You’re lucky we don’t live in the same city or I’d have nagged your ear off about your smoking and weight issues by now. Hehe.

12. The skinny one. I’m glad someone is skinnier than me. Or was. You got me through some very bad times. Yes I know we’re estranged now but that doesn’t matter. Thank you for putting up with me when you did.

13. The laughing Buddha. I’m beginning to talk like you now, donkey. But you’ve showed me such joy though I’ve only known you such a short while. You bring a smile to everybody’s face and for that reason we all love you to bits. Go finish your blushing session now.

14. Almost Buddha. I’ve been speaking to you only of late but I already think that I will end up talking to you as long as you live. May you live a very long time and may you dispense all your therapeutic recipes to people during that time.

15. The gameboy. The time we had was short and we didn’t get to do much, but you showed me how to be happy again. And how to live for myself. Bless you and your no nonsense attitude.

The list is very far from done. But I think I’m not doing it justice. More to come when

I’m in a more eloquent mood.

mercury rising

It’s April and it’s already four degrees above the normal temperature where I live. In more ways than one. The world is truly coming to an end… we’re going to melt or drown very soon. So is our so-called democracy. I’m not going to preach or grumble about the media or democracy or elections or politicians… I’m going to sit back, eat some really juicy mangoes, and watch the fun unfold like I’m watching a really bad episode of Heroes. What can I say… I’m hooked to the news now. Unfortunately. And the news here is very bad. In fact it’s inspiring a lot of satirical writing from my end. In between juggling mangoes, the television remote and my laptop though I will also find time to go out and cast my first ever vote, in the coming parliamentary elections. Yes, maybe it’ll be a debacle. Maybe it already is a complete farce and debacle. Okay, it IS. Who am I kidding. But I will vote anyway. As a citizen of this godforsaken democracy. If I don’t care why should the politicians or media care. Damn.. Sorry. And I said I wouldn’t preach.

It’s just that my job involves reporting aforementioned debacles. A job which has taken over my life. That’s nothing new. My work in newspapers itself made me disappear from people’s lives for weeks. Television however is a totally different ballgame. A violent and extreme one at that. Call me a typical print journalist, but I haven’t been able to stomach television media. In my country at least. It’s not only bought all my time, it’s bought my entire life. My friends don’t know I’m alive… let me re-phrase… I have no friends who aren’t reporters now. And my mother actually asked me to quit so she could see me once in a way and put some fat on my bones. Which I’m glad to say I’ve done. [gasp again]. Which brings me to what am I going to do next? I don’t know [bigger gasp?]

Just because I’ve not posted anything on my blog in nearly [gasp!] a month, it does not mean I’m not writing. I have been. So joy to the world! It’s made me very happy, as well as sad. I’m now left wondering how on earth to make a profession out of this when I know nothing whatsoever about how to write or who to sell my writing to. Ahem, if anyone wants it that is. Currently on my plate are [wait, I’m counting] five, yes five, pieces of writing I need to complete asap. Not bad for someone who hadn’t touched pen and paper in almost two years. I have a miles to go before I sleep, though. Literally. And since I’m still working my notice period I have to juggle a 24/7 job and five incomplete scripts. Sigh. It’s April and it’s already four degrees above the normal temperature. I hope I can take the heat.

Monday, 9 March 2009

over the counter

A man approaches the billing counter at a supermarket. He’s wheeling along a trolley which is almost overflowing with stuff and is slowly getting to the counter, both his arms placed on the handle bars of the cart. A woman stands at the counter, doing some accounts. Supermarket is almost empty. Suddenly a voice booms out over the speakers:

“Listen up everybody! It’s almost closing time. So pick up your stuff and head to the nearest billing counter. We will be closing in a few minutes. Thanks.”

The man has reached the counter by then. Cashier looks at the stuff he’s got, raises her eyebrows and looks at him. She stops whatever else she’s doing and smiles at him broadly.

Woman: Hi.

Man: (starts handing her stuff from trolley) Hey.

W: (starts billing stuff) Hmm. Lot of stuff you’ve got there. Not bought groceries in a while, have you?

M: Yeah, sorry… I know it’s almost closing time.

W: Hey, no issues. It’s my job.

M: It’s just that my wife is throwing a party tomorrow. So I’m getting all the stuff for that.

W: (bills a couple of boxes of condoms) And some other stuff too…

M: (looks a little shy) Hmm. Well..

W: (after a few moments) So, what’s the party for?

M: (looks a little surprised at question, lady is still billing stuff) It’s our wedding anniversary tomorrow.

W: (smiles broadly at him) Congratulations.

M: Thanks… (looks at her tag) Pinky.

Pinky: And what’s your name?

M: John.

P: Ah. Ok. (pause) That’s a lot of cheddar cheese you’ve got there. You sure you don’t want some other types of cheese too?

John: Uhm. Yeah, I think so. This is what my wife usually uses. (starts fishing in his pockets for something) She doesn’t like me buying unnecessary stuff, or stuff she won’t use.

P: Ah. (looks up at him searching his pockets) Missing something?

J: No… just checking her list to make sure I’ve got everything. (smiles reassuringly)

P: No alcohol?

J: Nah. Got enough at home.

P: (raises brows) Hmm. How many years you been married? If you don’t mind me asking.

J: No, no.. I don’t. It’ll be four years tomorrow.

P: No kids yet?

J: No.. we’re both pretty busy. No time. She doesn’t want to give up her career right now. (now he’s looking in his bag)

P: Ah. I get that. Making a name for yourself is important. So is making some money.

(she’s about three-fourth of the way through the cart now)

Voice on intercom: Listen up, Pinks. Nearly closing time. Wind up.

P: (to intercom) Yeah, ok. Last customer.

J: Uhmm… (scratches head, looking inside bag)

P: (looks at him) Can’t find the list?

J: Actually… I wasn’t looking for that. Uhm. I don’t seem to have brought my wallet.

(longish pause. P looks up at him and raises her brows a bit)

P: You leaving then? We open at 8am tomorrow.

J: No.. Erm. I can’t leave without this stuff.

P: (looks at the bags.. pointedly at the condoms) Riiighttt.

J: No.. I mean.. we don’t have time to shop for the party tomorrow. And..

P: (holds up her hand) It’s alright. So.. what do we do now? (Stops billing and starts thinking)

J: (almost to himself) We?

P: (hears him, looks up) Listen, if you want to you can just head home and pick this up tomorrow…

J: (interrupts) No.. What I mean is.. You don’t have to go out of your way to help a perfect stranger. Its fine. People don’t usually do that.. Thanks. But… if you could think of something..

P: (suddenly laughs)

J: (looks surprised.. she’s still laughing)Erm. Pinky?

P: (stops gradually) I’m sorry.. It’s just funny. You’re contradicting yourself. And this is the first time in my life I’ve spoken so much to a customer.. (pause) Anyway. I’d be glad to help. (continues to bill the stuff)

J: Wait.. What are you doing. How do I pay for this stuff?

P: Where do you live?

J: Not too close. Why?

P: Hmm. No, I’m just thinking.

J: I could ask my wife to get my wallet but it would take her time to get here…

P: It’s fine. I’ll help you out.

J: (frowns slightly) Erm… how?

P: I’ll pay.

J: (guffaws aloud) You? Why?

P: (raises brows) You’re welcome.

J: No.. I mean. I’m a complete stranger. Why would you pay for all this stuff of mine?

P: Well, you’ll return it obviously.

J: Yes. That’s not the point. WHY?

P: I would like to help. That’s all.

J: (pause) Are you sure?

P: Yes. (long pause) There is something you could do for me though.

J: (quickly) Anything. Tell me.

P: (looks a little hesitant)

J: Hey, Pinky.. Tell me.

P: I’m not trying to flirt with you or pick you up or anything.. I just.. It’s just.. Well..

J: (looks a little curious now) Yeah?

P: Have dinner with me?

J: Huh?

P: Dinner?

J: (looks hesitant now) Erm.. Listen..

P: (interrupts) No. No, listen. It’s not a date. It’s not even alone with me. It’s… it’s with my family and me.

J: I don’t understand. You’re helping me out and you want me to have dinner with your family?

P: See.. (sighs). It’s a long story. But.. basically I work three jobs. To earn some money. And my family doesn’t know it yet but.. I’m pregnant. No, hear me out then decide.. I don’t want anything but a guest appearance from you.

J: As the baby’s father?

P: (pause) I don’t know…

J: Where is the father?

P: He’s not with me anymore. That’s not the point.

J: So what do you want me to do?

P: (looks at him) You’ll do it?

J: Yeah but I don’t know what it is you want me to do so…

P: (long pause) I don’t know either. (pause) See, I haven’t even decided if I want to keep the baby or not. But.. I just don’t want my folks to worry I guess. If they see I’m with someone, they may feel a little better. Baby or not. (pause) I’m 30 and not married yet. And I show no signs of getting married. Plus I work like a dog. They don’t think I have a life.. or any friends.. So.

J: (exhales) I’m married. This can only be a one-time thing. My wife can’t know about it. Obviously.

P: (quickly) Yes, yes. Of course. In fact… you know what. Bring her for dinner too.


P: Yeah. Come as my friends.

J: We’ll see. I will come. But this is getting a little far-fetched. There’s no need to get her into this.

(voice on intercom) : Pinky! What’s taking so long?

P: Sorry, sorry.. We’re done. There was a problem with his credit card.

(she pays with her card and he starts putting the bags in a trolley to take outside)

J: Give me your number.

P: One second.

(writes it down and gives it to him.. he takes off his watch and gives it to her)

J: It’s what my parents gave me as a wedding gift. Omega. I’ll want it back. It’s just for you to know I’ll come back.

P: You don’t need to.. (hands it back to him)

J: No. Keep it. And… Let me know when dinner is. It can’t be tomorrow.

P: No. Obviously. I’ll call you in a few days.. maybe once I’ve figured out some stuff.

J: Ok. Do that. (starts pushing trolley with bags then turns around) Pinky…. Thanks.

P: (smiles) No. Thank you, John.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009


i lost my hands in the hair of the girl i was with last night.
i lost my heart to someone else who felt just right.
i lost my mind to the inane technological work i do.
i lost my breath to the woman on the bus whom i knew.
i lost my voice to the demon who lives in the pit of my belly.
i lost my legs to him too, and now they're jelly.

i am not me anymore,
i belong to
the girls i love,
and the boss i dread,
and the maniacal voice inside my head.

sleepless in Chennai

I feel myself counting down the days every week.. Today is Tuesday. This time I’m counting down to the scriptwriting workshop I’m attending over the weekend. But why am I counting down.. is my normal day-to-day life so painful? No, maybe not; maybe I’m just entrenched in the horror that has become the Indian media today. Hyping up stories which have no relevance just because people love watching crap, running behind mundane incidents because they could be linked to something more important.. so on and so forth. The life of a journalist definitely isn’t as glamorous as it appears.

Yesterday while waiting outside the Chief Minister’s house while a crucial meeting was on inside, I found myself thinking about my writing exercise for the scriptwriting workshop. And I realised, I may never be happy till I can write for a living.. This whole faff of working in the media will eventually get to me (erm, you may say it already has) and then what? With elections around the corner, I’ve not had time to write in the last two weeks. Not even my weekly Sunday Scribbling post. (gasp. Yes, I know. The horror of it.) And that’s only going to get worse over the next 11 weeks or so. I guess I’ll just have to manage my time a little better or stop whining entirely. (catch me doing that :D)

Moving on.. I was reading some Pablo Neruda and e e cummings poems a few days back. And I wish I could write like that. I'm sure most girls would love to have a lover write to them like that. This is one of the poems I came across last week..

somewhere i have never travelled – e e cummings

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near
your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose
or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;
nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing
(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands

On that note I shall sigh and return to chasing stories. Happy March, all.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

cup of jealousy, anyone?

The green- eyed monster that lives in your brain now found (Mail Today)

It is a vice that few can avoid but that nobody craves. The area of the brain which controls jealousy has been found, scientists said. It is the same part which detects physical pain - perhaps explaining why feeling envious of your lover’s philandering ways hurts so much. The spot which makes people delight in others’ misfortune - called schadenfreude - was also located by the team. “ It’s interesting that the part of the brain which detects physical pain is also associated with mental pain,” said Hidehiko Takahashi, who led the research.

Copyright © Mail Today 2008.

Just an interesting thought. Since we all have philandering lovers at one point or another.

Friday, 13 February 2009

living in the past

Sandeep was playing cricket outside while I watched from the window. I was paranoid about a lot of things sometimes. Especially the safety of my children. Who knew if a rapist or serial killer was on the move in our neighbourhood. Who knew anything anymore. It didn’t have anything to do with the fact that my father tried to abuse me as a child. There was no connection between that and my being paranoid. None at all, I told myself.

I returned to chopping carrots into tiny pieces for the stew I was making. The carrots were bad. Expensive, yet bad. Inflation maybe down but it didn’t seem to be when it came to household expenses. Raghav used to asked me why or how I spent so much money on food. Till I told him to go shop for vegetables himself one day. He didn’t take me seriously. So that day there was no food served at his table. Of course the kids didn’t starve. I took them out to dinner.

Everything seemed to be a game for him. Marriage was a sport. Maybe I should treat it like a sport then, I thought sometimes. It seemed to work for my husband after all. Ever since we were teenagers and madly in love, it was always one game after another. And he always won. When we got married, I thought I was the lucky one. I thought I had landed a great guy and we would live happily ever after. I’m not saying he’s terrible. I was just mislead. By him and my own naïveté. By and by I realised, it was he who had won. Finding himself a girl who was totally and utterly at his behest, completely in love with him… one who listened to everything he had to say. Well that didn’t last long. Neither did the love either.

By the time I realised that, it was too late. Realised I hadn’t done the smartest thing by marrying Raghav. Sandeep had already arrived, and my parents had already passed away. My brother and I were estranged and I had no one to help me. A few months later, another baby was on the way. Much to Raghav’s joy and my shock. One thing I still loved him for was the way he brought up our son. He adored Sandeep and the feeling was entirely mutual. Another child would have been a dream come true for them both. I miscarried though. And I didn’t want another child after that. Call me silly but I felt guilty. For not wanting the baby out of my own selfishness and greed for a personal life. And then the baby just went. Like a puff of smoke. One day she was there, growing inside of me. The next day she was just some skin and cells which had to be removed. A baby.

Raghav got over it. Wanted to try again. I put my foot down. Things went sour for a while after we stopped trying for a child. They never really went back to normal. Teenaged days in the throes of love and the first happily married days… it all ended. When you play a sport you lose yourself in it. you give your entire body and soul to it and before you know it you’re too tired, too old to play anymore. You have to retire. I wished I could retire from marriage. Not ask for a divorce. But just retire.

Sometimes I dreamt I had a daughter. Her name was Sameera. I spoke to her, sometimes she even spoke back. She would have looked like my mother. Button nose, slightly slanted eyes, long black hair, slightly wavy, and with a short voluptuous build. Maybe she would have followed my mother and become a dancer or singer as well. I didn’t think of Sameera too often anymore. For some reason the bad carrots were making me think back several years. To the days when I first started playing with Raghav. My first years as a mother and wife. Right upto today. Here I am, a middle-aged woman with a list of regrets she could not do anything about.

I sighed. At first I felt a deep pain which almost reverberated through my body. Then it became a little numb. Like I had become over the years. As if I was sitting on a block of ice and could not feel any pain anymore. It was when the blood began dripping on the carrots that I suddenly realised what I had done. I had sliced neatly through my ring finger. Not entirely, though I was tempted to do so.

I returned to the window to look at my twelve-year-old son running about, getting dirty and tanned under the harsh Noida sun. He was laughing, sweating, flailing his arms about, yelling and generally having the time of his life. I hoped he would never fall in love and treat his lover like I had been treated. Like I was an insignificant maid at times.

Raghav hadn’t even touched me for as long as I could remember. I tried to remember when we last made love.. no, I couldn’t even call it making love anymore. It was just sex. And he was probably getting it elsewhere I suppose. There was a time when I was so hungry for him. Just the feeling of his bare skin against my palms gave me such joy. It used to make me all warm inside and I would smile just thinking about it. I wondered sometimes whether I had changed too much. Maybe that’s why he didn’t love me anymore.

I looked at the hand towel I had wrapped around my finger. It was almost wet with blood now. I remember Raghav once used to kiss my bruises, cuts, stitches or even my heart, when he thought he had hurt me for whatever reason. He hadn’t done that since Sandeep was born.

I didn’t miss it. That’s why I thought I was numb. How could I not miss the love of my life? How could I not try to mend my marriage? How could I just continue comparing it to playing a sport?

My cell phone buzzed and Raghav’s name popped up. I checked the message with my free hand.

“Thanks for not answering any of my calls. Going to Agra for three days. Sudden work. Going straight to station now. Call me. Want to speak to S.”

I called Sandeep and told him. He looked at my hand and looked at me, aghast and petrified. I suddenly realised I still hadn’t cleaned up my finger.

“It’s fine, baba. I just cut it while chopping carrots. Now call your dad.”

He swallowed and came towards me. What he did was totally unexpected. He caught me around my waist and gave me a tight hug, so tight I was gasping for breath. Laughing, I told him not to worry. He could speak to Raghav, clean up and be ready for dinner in half an hour.

What he said next was equally unexpected.

“Ma. Show me your phone.” And I did. He did some technological trick with it and the message details popped up. He showed them to me.

“See. It’s an old message, Ma. You’ve forgotten again. Papa died four years ago. Train de-railed. Remember? You keep forgetting sometimes.”

24/12/2004. 2.46 PM.


The message details said.

I read it again.


The voice seemed to come from very far away. My son was holding me up now. I didn’t realise my legs had gone weak till I felt his firm hand around my elbow. I looked up at him and he seemed so tall, so grown up.

“You’ve gotten so big, babu. Don’t look twelve anymore,” I could hear myself muttering.

Pause. He helped me sit down.

“Ma, I’m turning 17 next week.”

I watched him in amazement as he turned the gas off and brought the medical kit, laying it at my feet. He blew gently on my finger.

He looked just like Raghav.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009


I watch her writhe and struggle,

As she tries to pick up the shards of glass.

With nobody to help her,

But for Self-pity,

Kneeling beside her and weeping,

Holding shards,

Each with a little reflection of herself,

Each a piece of her own essence.

I watch him lying by the side of the road,

Naked and unconscious,

For all the world to see his Nothingness.

I watch them gaze shyly at each other,

Look away as I near them,

Revel in their newfound love,

As Time watches them from afar and sighs,

Staring at his nails,

Waiting for his time to come.

I watch him toil,

As Indifference stands beside him,

Helping him juggle his work,

And his people,

Like they are his toys.

I watch as he weaves a magic spell,

Charm oozes, deadly, smooth.

The spell works,

His invisible web has caught them.

He will fatten them up with

His Charm and illusions of Love,

Finish them off when he is bored.

I watch myself decide, then dissipate,

Un-decide, squander, wander.

I watch myself question, question again,

Till all I have are questions.

Indecision clawing at me,

Restlessness keeping me up at night.

I watch her bite, claw and lick her wounds,

As she tries getting rid

Of the Pain,

And what is sucking out her soul.

I watch him watch her,

Weaving a plan,

As Despair finishes off what’s left of him.

I watch as her daughter curses her,

Impulse gnawing at her,

As it gnaws at youth.

Then I watch as she cries,

Self-hatred and Regret speaking inside her head.

She knows her mother was trying to protect her.

The way her own mother did not.

I watch as her hands tremble

As she picks up the phone to call him.

Her heartbeat quickening,

Fear creeping up on her from behind,

A slow smile on his face,

And enveloping her in his bubble.

I watch myself smile,

And wonder who is watching me.

Is it Love?

Is it Peace?

Maybe Relief?

Or is it even me at all…

Friday, 6 February 2009

Chronicles of Bani - III

The art of smiling in front of the camera isn’t easy. I’ve often been told I look rude, snooty and extremely unapproachable. My interview with the South Indian doe-eyed actress went fine. Except for the fact that I looked like I had a tree-trunk up my.. well, you know.

I practised smiling in front of my mirror. Nah. Too fake. Too much teeth. Little less teeth, maybe that looked a bit more genuine. Sigh. Better but still forced. The eyes need to speak, I remember my drama teacher’s decade-old words echoing in my head. Does that mean I have to feel happy? Too much analysis. Just smile.

“That was XYZ speaking exclusively to us about her new film. With cameraperson Raj, this is Bani Jambulingam for Niyo News.” Grin.

Wait. No. Grin throughout, not suddenly at the end. My phone rang. Thank god. The art of fake smiling was obviously not too easy. My colleague’s faraway voice on the other end of my phone.

“What? No, I didn’t know….. When?..... Ok I’m going, I’m going. Gone! Bye!”

Nonsense. Controversial statement made by South Indian actor aired exclusively by rival news channel. What am I supposed to do now. And when did entertainment become my beat anyway, I wondered. Entertainment means more smiling on camera. I groaned. And ran.


That was a bad week for me. A friend fought with me because I looked “rude” at his play and did not speak to him properly. (the fact that I made time to see the play did not matter to him at the time) I got no stories apart from a couple of lousy entertainment ones. I was told I need to smile more and ask more relevant questions. Softer questions. And then I was told to be more aggressive at getting news. Soft aggression?

I was looking forward to my day off. Which unfortunately came on a day when aforementioned actor made another idiotic statement and I had to run to get it. 24-hour news channels suck. It was that day Sudhish suddenly called me. After so many months and when I had finally begun to move on, it was rather cruel. I, in my usual manner, let loose an expletive when I realised it really was him. And said I would call him back.

Meanwhile my mother’s friend’s son called me out of the blue. A boy I had met once when I was barely 3 feet tall. Amidst thoughts of Sudhish and the art of fake-smiling (which I managed rather well with the idiotic actor, or so I heard), I thought the poor boy was calling from a bank which had been harassing me to invest or take a loan. After I hung up on him and he called again, I listened in amazement.

“I saw you on television. Well my mother and I saw you actually. You managed the piece well, though I’m not too interested in cinema or what actors do and say. Mom said she knows you. I just thought I’d give you a call and er.. you know tell you that I liked your piece.”

I nearly groaned aloud. My mother had perfected the art of matchmaking. Or not rather, because it was still so obvious she was doing it! I sweetly replied to the boy (or maybe he was a man) and told him I would call him back.

I banged my head on the nearest wall before my boss called me and saved my life possibly.

Afterwards, while I was twiddling my thumbs and waiting for the head office to okay my script and send me home, I got bored. And wrote the following on a tissue I found on the floor.

A mosquito buzzed near my ear.

The fan worked in the distance.

Street lights out the window

And dogs lying on the road.

During the day I dream

But at night

I’m wide awake,

Dreams torn apart,

Hopes crashing down.

Disappointment after disappointment.

The night is empty.

Like my bed.

Pillows cannot make up

For where you once lay.

My chin on your shoulder,

Your arm on my waist.

I would listen to you snore gently,

Watch your chest rise in the dark.

I know.

Love doesn’t last forever.

But memories do.

Forgetting takes a lifetime.

The bee stings in a second.

But it takes days to heal.

Mosquitoes buzz around me.

My only companions tonight.

I wonder when I will forget.

Stop missing you.

When I can dream again.

I stopped before it got any worse. Obviously I needed to move on. I walked home that night, wondering when I would get over Sudhish. Maybe I’d call the other boy in a few days. I missed my mother’s cooking and nagging. I always miss her when she’s away visiting relatives in faraway lands. Even though she comes back laden with gifts and anecdotes for me.

I read through the poem before I went to sleep that night. Obviously I had to work on mastering my poetry as well, apart from the smiles. The art of writing poetry had always been a mystery to me. It was like the sun on a cloudy day. Sometimes it decided to come out and bless me with some warmth, but many times it remained hidden behind a layer of grey.

The art of poetry and the art of smiling. Among other things. I had miles to go before I slept.

I sighed, put off the light and fell asleep.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Chronicles of Bani - II

Regrets? Everyone has them. In the past five days though I’ve strangely not had too many of them. Well there’s always the ex-lover and messing up his marriage (I’m wondering when I will forgive myself for that), but generally, the last few days haven’t been so bad. Except for the fact that my parents have been asking me to find a boy and get married soon.

After they started nagging, ever so gently, I made a mental list of how many successful female journalists I know. And how many of them are married, with kids. Surprisingly many do get married, but after the baby comes along, they seem to vanish or stick to less aggressive journalism at least.

Hmm. As I'm wandering along the isles of Nilgiris looking for fruit, I find myself thinking, picking a man isn’t as easy as picking fruit. Looking for actual fruit, not men. Forget picking a man. Indian parents and in-laws will at some point harass you to have a child, which is what scares me more than the thought of marriage. After my I-hate-babies, fashion editor friend dropped the “I’m pregnant” bomb on me, I began worrying. Will all of us end up the same way, even if we don’t want to? If even an editor like Susan gives up her fitting black clothes, salad diet and pointy heels, we’re all doomed.

I sighed. Bad fruit. All of it. No salad leaves. I’d have to eat Maggi noodles while my mother was away. I was still reeling from Susan’s announcement though. The fact that a few months earlier she trod on a seven-year-old’s foot because he spilt milkshake on her Gucci shoes did nothing to ease my confusion. I still didn't have the guts to ask her if she really wanted a baby or not. I could be the next person she trod on. I could not help but wonder if she regretted getting married. Or if one day she would look back and regret having a baby because she missed her chance at being Vogue – India editor.

I had spoken to my friend Priya that morning. She was an aggressive, in-your-face news journalist who quit once she had a baby. Her secret confession was that she didn't want to be the pushy, aggressive reporter forever. “Most women are meant to have babies, Bani. And I got tired. Maybe old. Who knows. Believe me, even Barkha Dutt may want companionship or a child sometimes. Of course I loved running around, meeting top politicians, getting exclusives and breaking news, but I got tired after a while. And Naresh wanted to have a kid, while we were still in our 30s. It happened. And I was scared. But I love my son. And though I miss being a journo sometimes, I’ll survive.” My heart-to-heart with Susan was still due since I decided I’d speak to her once I recovered from my shock.

“Are you sure you want this ma’am?”

The cashier was pointing to a bunch of bananas which didn’t look too great.

“Yes, bill it.”

“Once you buy, you can’t take it back ma’am. Sure ah?”

Would I regret buying the bunch of bananas? For God’s sake, it’s only fruit. ‘Ah but it begins with fruit..’ my evil conscience said. I ignored it and bought the fruit, wondering if evil conscience was even a correct term. Men are not fruit. Babies definitely aren’t. And they could wait. At least a few more years, I thought, dumping my bags in the car.

I would have to practice a speech telling my parents they’d have to wait longer for Mr Bani… leave alone junior Bani. Sighing, I started the car and headed home.