Sunday, 25 January 2009

phantoms and shadows

Memories delude me.

Some stay, will remain till I’m dead.

Some vanish, wisps of mist in my head.

I remember my first kiss,

My arms entwined with his;

The taste of vodka on my lips,

My tummy doing nervous flips.

But what would he remember?

Tipsy, free and stoned out of his mind,

Maybe with the first girl he could find?

Memories are selective.

Twisted, secretive,

Shadowy and elusive.

Memories are all we have.

Of people lost and people gone,

Each day new memories born.

25th August, 2004.

A day different in each of our lives.

The day I lost the man I love,

The day even gods cried from up above.

Some rejoiced; a foe they had lost,

For some, he went at a great cost.

See them memories…

You try to remember some, try to forget some.

Some will make you laugh till you cry,

Some you can’t forget even if you try.

Memories are all I have.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Chronicles of Bani - I

I used to think that love meant everything. Note the use of past tense. Now I’m older and a bit wiser. Alright, that was only a few months ago, but so much can happen in a few months! My friends call me their local Bridget Jones. And believe me, it’s not a compliment. I’d hate to think I had more in common with a fictitious character like her, apart from sharing her initials. No offense to single 30-something women out there. I’m sure we’re all lovely. I just couldn’t stand the way they brought her down and reduced her to.. oh, whatever. It was almost as bad as Ally McBeal.

Now, sitting across a single 30-something, not-so-ugly chap at my new workplace, I know I’ve changed. Because I’m not looking at him the way I usually look at men and size them up. Like I’m shopping for fruit. I don’t even care whether this one “likes” me or not. Men at work = trouble. Okay, so maybe I have one more thing in common with the British Jones. But he wasn’t my boss. And I was in love with him. or so I thought. And he definitely didn’t look like Hugh Grant. Sudhish was a 40-something womanising liar who wrapped me around his little finger and convinced me he would file for divorce once his financial issues were all ironed out. Then his wife found out, left him, abused me and it turned out that his only financial “issue” was that he was broke and living off his wife’s inheritance. Needless to say that didn’t work out. Not because I ditched him. Hell, I offered to pay for his expenses, even his divorce lawyer! It didn’t work out because I realised he never intended to leave his wife and their kids. And because he wasn’t in love with me. In hindsight, he never really said the words. Of course the ‘I love you, babe’ when I saved his ass a few times. But no soul-shaking, looking into my brown eyes and melting type i-love-yous.

Sigh. And now I was down with a proverbial case of the ‘once bitten, twice shy’ bug. Both of us quit our job. Given the fact that we were found atop the studio table, wrapped around each other, I thought that was the best thing to do. Sudhish moved to Delhi and I switched professions. Almost five years earlier I had left my job, anchoring for a news channel in Delhi, and swore never to get into the media again. I took to designing and other arty things which made me happy. And now I was back. Sigh again.

My parents had given up on me. They didn’t know why I quit my job, obviously. Or they would have disowned me. Sudhish’s wife was nice enough not to go too public with my once-clandestine affair with her ex. Though some people did suddenly begin ignoring my Facebook messages and attempts to get in touch with them. I wondered what I would say to Shalini (the ex) if I ever came face to face with her. (She had yelled at me over the phone so I’d never met her.) The only thing I could do was grovel. Sigh.

The male colleague had raised his eyebrows at me.

“Need any help?”

“No, no. I mean they’re just joining forms, right. I’ll manage.”

I sighed too much, obviously.

Instead of writing a letter to the HR Manager of my new company, I wrote down resolutions for the new year. The new year of course is a hoax. Resolutions even more so. But maybe it was time to change. 2009. Hmm. 9 resolutions would do…

I, Bani Jambulingam, will try my best not to break the below resolutions for the next 365 days and to accomplish the below acts within the next one year:

  1. Do not fall in love with married men.
  2. Do not daydream or get lost in unprofessional thoughts when at work.
  3. Give up smoking.
  4. Take a 6-month break from men.
  5. Apologise to Shalini. If she lets you.
  6. Never contact Sudhish again.
  7. Stop whining about hating the media and work at kicking some ass.
  8. Be happy with who you are. Apart from the smoking and extra-marital affairs of course.

The last one had me stumped. What would be my 9th and final resolution for the year?

Any suggestions?

Monday, 19 January 2009


Give me a minute to collect my wits,

A minute to forget that last kiss.

I need to let go of my naïve notions,

Not think of you when I look across oceans.

Give me some time to grow up,

Leave you behind,

Like a fly in my champagne cup.

I’m already halfway there..

Thinking about you less,

Forgetting each curl and wave of your hair.

Gone are the days when I worshiped you,

Did all the things you asked me to.

I’m not your pilgrim any more,

Everytime you hurt me, I’m keeping score.

Running through things you’ve said,

Running them endlessly in my head.

With each day I get more hurt,

All that’s left between us is the dirt.

Let me go. Please.

With my self-respect in tact.

Let me get off my knees.

By the beach this morning,

Wet hair, stomach growling,

I think of us again.

But it wasn’t you I dreamt of last night.

With you now I don’t even fight.

It’s not you I share my fears with.

You’re so far away, our love feels like a myth.

Woo them new girls, while I move on,

Just let me go; you’ll manage with one less pawn.

I’m trying to cut the corners now,

I’m letting you go, I don’t care how.

My arduous journey is ending now.

I’m waiting to exit, take a bow.

Loving you has been beautiful but so unkind.

It’s time to walk away, and see what else I find.

Memories may keep haunting me,

But I’ll survive if you let me be.

Walking the length of the beach alone,

Not bothered about messages on my phone.

Only one pair of footprints as I look behind.

But I turn back.. to a clear sky and a clearer mind.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

the end of a chapter

Sparky Kumaramangalam aka Selwor Star of India (as named by his kennel) was born on a bright, sunny but chilly day in Sydney. He entered the world on May 15th 1994 along with his five siblings. Blue blood ran in their veins and the pedigree puppies were very much in demand. Soon all of them were sent to different parts of the world. Sparky (as named by his future owners) was sent to Madras, India.

Fox terriers are supposed to be temperamental dogs. Sparky proved this to be true. Hyper-sensitive and temperamental, he soon took first place for most dramatic person in the Kumaramangalam household. He was also obnoxious. And very, very clever. But like all dogs in that house, he was loved very much.

Sparky reached his new home after a long flight, cooped up in a cage with his future brother, a boxer-brindle named Strike. His other brother, a beagle named Sport, shared his cage with a dim-witted golden retriever. These three dogs would remain together for the next dozen or so years and live in well, comparative harmony.

Sparky spent his first night next to his human mother, displacing her from her comfortable pillow. He managed to do this despite the fact that he was probably 1/15th her size. He grew quickly, dominating the slightly dumb but extremely loyal Strike. Sport was a different matter. They were close but the beagle always remained his own master. Sparky shot to fame amongst Madras’ kennel clubs. Driven by some dim-witted humans and his own arrogance, he ruled at the city’s dog shows and soon became a champion. Doe-eyed female fox terriers came to visit him, one by one, and he produced gorgeous pedigree progeny. He was the only one of the three brothers who became a father. That too three times over. And I mean he fathered three litters, not three puppies. Though he outlived them all…

Fox terrier-like royalty apart, Sparky was a first class Madras mutt at times. His hobbies included eating from the bin, fighting with his brothers and trying to eat their food, peeing inside the house if he felt like marking his space… the list is endless. His family nicknamed him the ‘kitchen supervisor’ because he spent most of his time in the kitchen. It was only once his brothers died that he began dogging his owners’ heels.

Sparky was almost entirely black, with a white under-belly and white legs. Little patches of tan were scattered across his sharp nose and front legs. He never grew any white hair, though the patches went white. His eyes clouded over with cataract and his back legs finally grew stiff in his last few months, but he was always extremely healthy and active.

His brothers left him within a span of four weeks. Sport developed epilepsy and passed away exactly 12 years after the three first entered the Kumaramangalam home as boisterous pups. Strike died four weeks later due to an internal growth. Sparky (and his owners of course) was devastated. The once sharp, independent and domineering terrier seemed lost. The sharpness remained though and the family did not know if he would accept a puppy or try to kill it. They got a pup finally… to cheer him and themselves up. The blonde, brown-eyed Labrador called Tammy arrived about a month after Strike’s heart stop beating less than two feet away from where Sparky was lying.

Sparky’s life changed entirely after that. He now had a reason to do many things with renewed vigour. The Labrador was tiny when she first came, and initially kept away from the terrier. But they soon became thick friends. She grew bigger than him but he was always the master in that relationship. Not as sharp as the terrier, she was often torn between obeying her human masters and obeying Sparky. They would play till he grew tired (he was 12 and half years old after all) after which he would sleep blissfully. His masters never knew if he missed his brothers.

Though he was happy, age crept up on him. His senses of smell, hearing and sight soon began to fade, though he remained as intelligent as ever. Tammy realised this and became quite protective of him. His life revolved around his meals, short walks and eating from the bin. When he was 14, the family moved house, leaving behind the place they had lived in for 25 years. Though Sparky adjusted, his human mother would always wonder if she had made the wrong decision in moving him when he was so old. He became even more obnoxious, though. Peeing more often inside the house, climbing onto all the furniture and rubbing his dirty mug on it… the list of course, was endless.

Old age and and health finally snatched him away from the Kumaramangalams. The last of the S trio to leave, his departure left the family sighing at the end of a very long and very happy chapter in their lives. And it left Tammy very, very lonely. Sparky was 14 and a half years old when he died on January 4th, 2009. He will be remembered always… for his temperament and many, many others things. And he will be missed.


My dogs have always been a part of my family. I wanted to write something more creative for Sparky but the melancholy which hit after his death seems to have dimmed my imagination. I wanted to write a happy poem for him but could not put 14 years of memories into a few couplets. I hope his last few days were not too painful for him. And I hope the S trio are galloping across some Elysian fields, together again, young again. I miss them. Everyday.