Friday, 29 January 2010


“How is it possible for these things to be genetic?”

“I don’t know but what other explanation is there?!” He ran his hands through his receding hair and slumped on the edge of our bed.

“Ssh. She could hear us.” Oh God, listen to me. Trying to be practical at a time like this. Practical. Me. After nearly two decades of this, this…

“Do you think it could be possible? Oh my god, what do we do now? She can’t know about me. Imagine how scared she must be.. and how stupid. How fricking stoooopid to do it so utterly stupidly. Shit. The cops came, Mary. The cops. She has no alibi, no friends apparently and we can’t back her up. Another few months, or even weeks, and they’ll put together a case and come and arrest her. What the fuck do we do?!”

“Send her away. Say she is pregnant and ran away.” The answer surprised even me by popping out of my mouth almost as soon as John finished his question. [No, our names aren’t actually John and Mary; what, do you think I’m stupid enough to tell you what my real name is?]

My husband of 24 years looked at me. “You know what.. I can do this. I’ve been doing this for 20 years. And nobody except you knows. I can help her.. teach her to disguise herself, keep us updated and not leave any clues behind… Hmm.”

I sighed and sat next to him. “I can’t believe… our girl.. just like you…”

“I know. Me too.”

“It’s all your fault, John. You should have just let me leave when I found out about you.. your.. your habit.” I spat out the last word. I never knew what to call it. I knew my husband was a psychotic closet murderer. Meaning not murdering in closets but murdering, period. I should have left when I got the chance. That was the only thought that kept running through my head. Strangely enough there was only silence from his side. I looked at him and his face was blank. A sudden shiver went through me. “John? Are you okay? I’m sorry.. I just..” He snapped out of it and frowned. He had seen that look before. But never on his wife’s face. “What’s wrong with you?! You really think I would hurt you?!” He got up and started pacing. “Christ. My own wife.”

“Well.. you never know.. I mean.. I don’t understand these things. I was just scared for a minute. Maybe you thought I was going to rat you out or something.”

“Christ, Mary.. anyway, let me handle Sarah first. What do I do? Just tell her to leave?”

“Yes. We’ll handle that in the morning. Go check on her first. She must be pretty tense after the cops grilled her today.”

While he checked on our 16-year-old closet murderer, I weighed our options. If she left, it would be even more obvious that she was responsible for the murder at her boarding school. And how could she leave without anything at all? We would have to continue providing for her security, but…

The phone rang. Wondering who the hell it could be, I picked up.

“Yes? Speaking. Who is this? Oh, okay. Uh-huh. Yes, I remember him. Oh were they? She’s never spoken of him really.” I could hear John walking back down the corridor towards our room. “MARY?”

“Okay,” I continued on the phone. “What? How could that possible be connected to…?”

John came back. “She’s gone,” he wheezed. I froze, listening to the woman over the phone from Sarah’s hostel. “I see. Alright. Could you call back later, please? Thank you.” I put the phone down.

“Yes. And I found this…”

He handed me a little stick. “Is it what I think it is?”

“Where the hell did you find it?”

“In her bathroom. What does it say?”

“It’s positive. And the woman on the phone says a boy from her hostel has gone missing. They were pretty close in school. His name is Andrew.”

“So she’s run away. With her boyfriend and their baby.”

“Yes. Now what?”

“We have to find her. She could be carrying another little murderer.”

Obviously the thought had already occurred to my husband.

“She probably is. But if I know her, Andrew’s body will be found in a few days. And then there’s really going to be hell to pay.”

“Oh my God.”

Wednesday, 27 January 2010


If you're mopey and you know it, clap your hands... oh well. This is courtesy Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project.

1. Go outside into the sunlight. Light deprivation is one reason people feel tired. Research suggests that light stimulates brain chemicals that improve mood. For an extra boost, get your sunlight first thing in the morning. And while you’re outside…

2. Go for a brisk walk. Even a ten-minute walk can give you a surge of energy and decreased tension.

3. Act with energy. We think we ACT because of the way we FEEL, but often we FEEL because of the way we ACT. Trick yourself into feeling energetic by moving more quickly, pacing while you talk on the phone, and putting more energy into your voice.

4. Listen to your favorite zippy song. Hearing stimulating music gives an instant lift.

5. Talk to an energetic friend. Not only do we gain energy from interacting with other people, we also – in what’s called “emotional contagion” — “catch” their emotions. Instead of infecting others with your draggy mood, try to lift yourself by catching the energy of a boisterous friend.

6. Tackle an item on your to-do list. Maybe you need to drive to an out-of-the-way store; or add the last, difficult touches to a homemade gift; or make a phone call to a difficult relative. You’ll be amazed by the huge rush of energy you get when it’s crossed off your list. If you’re having trouble, try doing it first thing in the morning. The night before, decide what you’re going to do, then get up and do it.

7. Clean up. For most people, outer order contributes to inner calm. If you feel overwhelmed and listless, try tidying up. No heavy scrubbing, just tidy the surfaces. Making your surroundings more pleasant will help to give you energy — plus, making visible improvements is a booster, too.

8. Jump! Yes, jump up and down a few times. I just started doing this, and it’s amazing how energizing it is.

9. Note of caution: people often try to use food to boost their low energy. This obviously helps if you’re actually hungry (and in my house, we constantly monitor people’s hunger levels, because we all get so crabby when we’re hungry), but if you’re not hungry, eating ice cream out of the container — tempting as it is — won’t really help.

10. Cut yourself, and other people, some slack. Didn’t do holiday cards this year? Didn’t cook the usual feast? Let it go. Holiday traditions are wonderful, but they can also be the source of anger, disappointment, and guilt — aimed at ourselves and other people. A few years ago, at Halloween time, I somehow neglected to get us a pumpkin! This counts as Mommy malpractice in my book. But you know what? It was okay.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010


walking down the street,
diamonds shine through my hair,
i view the world through my gucci shades,
men stop to whistle and stare.

work is a peach for me and i got time for everything:
reporters call me for vox pops
while i get my nails done, and
daddy gives my employees their sops.

the nights out are the absolute best,
my page 3 friends in our favourite bars,
before we head to the hottest parties,
with our arm candy and our luxury cars.

no matter if my husband and i get there separately,
him with a bleached blonde on his arm.
i know she blew him while he drove the bmw,
and he looks at my boy toy with utter calm.

it happens everywhere, nobody really gives a damn,
after all we are the ones living life in the fast lane:
it’s all about the money and comfort,
and it's all about how you play the game.

there’s only one thing i might regret:
the 14-year-old girl in the suite next door,
my daughter and once, my pride and joy,
i hope she doesn’t turn out to be another moneyed whore.

Monday, 18 January 2010

the end

“Sunshine on a rainy day.. makes my soul, makes my soul, go shoop, shoop..”

She was getting on my nerves now. On every one of them, right up to the nerve endings. The mood swings frustrated me and the few times she was happy and humming, I would get confused. And annoyed. I didn’t understand her anymore. Or more precisely, I understood her even less than I used to. One minute it was, “oh we are all going to die alone anyway” and then “sunshine on a rainy day”. Need I say more?

I think it was the trip with her old college friends which did the trick. A short trip to a beachside house in Mahabalipuram and her batteries were recharged. Temporarily.

“Penny for them.” I suddenly realised she had stopped humming.


“What are you thinking so intently about?”

“You,” I said in all honesty.

She stopped looking at apples at the counter and gave me a long, piercing look. And then no more was said. We paid for the groceries, stacked them all in the car and I was about to get in the passenger seat when she said, “No. You drive.” And handed me the keys. I was confused. She hardly ever let me drive. It wasn’t about having the upper hand in the relationship. She just loved to drive and I didn’t mind sitting in the passenger seat while she weaved in and out in the maddening roads. I looked at her like she was crazy.

“It’s your car,” she shrugged. “You hardly ever drive it because of me. So. Drive.”

I had no clue what was up so I took the keys and followed instructions. Not a word during our journey. What felt like an hour passed. She wasn’t even looking at me; she was looking out the window.

“Alright, what’s going on with….”

“You deserve better..”

We spoke simultaneously. And stopped simultaneously. I looked at her for a split second and then had to look back at the road. She was looking at me too, and I realised her eyes were tearing up.

“What do you mean I deserve better?” I asked, almost angrily, I realised as I heard myself.

“I’m too messed up for you. I’m better off alone.”

“Baby, we’ve been through this. What happened now?”

“You must think I’m bipolar or something. At work I’m in control and confident about everything, and I lose my cool only when it comes to us.”

“I’m used to it now,” I laughed.

“I’m perfectly serious. It’s time this ended.”


“Careful, you nearly hit that guy. See, we’ve been dating how long. Nearly four years now? And that’s excluding the one and half years I went abroad and broke up with you and had flings with random American men. Counting that, you’ve been with me five and a half years. No, shut up and listen. I know you weren’t with any other women during that time, don’t lie to me.” She was crying now. Not weeping copiously but I could see tears running down her face and she was sniffing between every fourth word.

“What’s your point?”

“This isn’t going anywhere and you’re wasting your time with me. I mean how long are you going to wait for me to make up my mind. I confuse myself, Jit. One day I think about having babies with you and the next day I think about going to Himachal Pradesh and writing a book and travelling on my own. I can’t blame you if you’re confused. I wouldn’t blame you if you left me years ago. I’m tough. As nails. But when it comes to relationships… I’m a mess. So maybe, I should just be alone. I don’t mind it. We could be friends. You should find a girl. A good girl who will love you just as much as me but in a different way. Someone who won’t mess with your head and insist on driving your car. Someone who will marry you in a flash and have your babies and not think twice about it, or about living with your parents. Someone who has no other responsibilities.”

“What is wrong with you? Did something happen on that trip?”

“No. But it made me think. All my friends are normal… they’ve been through several boys and some of them have settled down, some of them haven’t. But they know where they are in their lives. I don’t know where the hell I am or what I’m doing. It’s not fair to you.”


In hindsight I know she did the right thing. Logically, at least. That was her problem. She always thought when it came to me, she never felt. I always thought I could change that. I never knew who the guy was, the one who made her stop feeling anything, but I could hazard a guess. I felt like killing him most of the time, but it wasn’t really his fault. He didn’t do anything like raping her or cheating on her. He just didn’t want her. And he was the only guy who she wasn’t logical about. Anyway, so after we broke up, she immersed herself in work and working out. She stopped singing and the album she was working on in her spare time while we were dating never got completed. Between managing herself, her home and her father with Alzheimer’s, she never got time to do much again. She stayed away from me once I got married. I could understand why. She did love me. In her own warped way. And she didn’t want to be negative or jealous about Seema, so she stayed away. Seema. Seema was boring. But she was loving and gave me herself, wholly and unquestioningly. I was unfair to marry her. I compared her to Mig all the time. Even her name was boring compared to Mig’s. Mriganayini. But I grew to love her in time. In almost a fraternal way but she was happy with that. Mig never got married. As I expected. She kept herself busy with work and friends and her brother’s kids; she travelled the world trying to fill up the spaces in her and she wrote travelogues. She was successful by most definitions. She had accomplished what she wanted to. When she was young, she never planned marriage like other girls did. She planned work. She wanted to make a difference. And she did, somehow. But whether she made a difference in her own life, I never knew. I hoped she was satisfied. I know happy was not a word she could use to describe herself.


Time really flies. I turned 47 last month. I stopped feeling sad about getting older. I knew in my mind I’ve always been an old lady. A not-so-wise old lady. 47 is not a bad age to die. I had done a lot in my life. Everything I had wanted to do since I was a teenager. It had all gone according to plan. I had seen places across the world, made friends and contacts everywhere, and many people knew my name now. I helped destitute women and animals, I looked after my brother’s kids when he and his wife wanted a break and yes, I had plenty of sex. I had my own apartment, I could come and go as I pleased, I had plenty of good friends and I had a farm on the outskirts of the city where my six cats lived with my three dogs, two horses, a cow and an ass. I had everything I had ever wanted when I was young. But I could never call myself happy. I didn’t know what happy was. I felt a warmth when I was with people I loved but was it happiness? I missed Ranjit sometimes. A lot, of late. But I didn’t call him. It wasn’t fair to call him and cry on his shoulder. It didn’t matter anyway. We had been very happy once.

You could say my life flashed before my eyes that day. I thought back to my younger years. When I had been in school and college, the first years of my professional career, my first [and last] years with Ranjit… those were good days. Maybe better than the years that followed because I was more human then. I allowed myself to make mistakes and go with the flow, I allowed myself to feel things. I had so many cares in the world. I worried incessantly about my father, my future, and I would drown my sorrows in vodka or in Jit’s shoulder most of the time. I thought I was messed up and unhappy but those were probably the happiest days of my life.

As I thought about these things it also occurred to me that I should call someone. Or not. Natural disasters should take their course. If I went, I went. I stood on the nearly deserted beach, listening to the faraway cries of people. I breathed in the salty air and took in the beauty of it all. I had never seen such skies and racing clouds. And I had never seen a giant wave. Only the sound of it was a little fierce, but otherwise it was magnificent. I wasn’t scared. My last thoughts were of my parents. I would be seeing them soon. I smiled. I had missed them terribly over the years.