Tuesday, 31 May 2011

karma is not the bitch here

karma is something humans thought of
when they had evil people to curse
whose bellies only grew fatter
whose riches only grew vaster
whose loved ones only inherited millions

evil people who watched others suffer
who knowingly wreaked havoc in lives
in lives of single mothers with broken children
then later in the lives of those broken children

these people watched as others starved
others close to them could not eat or drink
who were close to dying when they finally
finally threw them out

they threw them out and they watched
as those souls spent their last breaths in this world
asking for help from anyone who would glance their way
strangers who did not know the first thing about them

karma is something humans thought of
when they saw these strangers who would help
help people they did not know
creatures left for dead by the side of a crowded city road

karma is something many wish for
they may not know what it's called
or that they are wishing for it

but at some point in everyone's life they, see what i am talking about:

a bag of bones, with the deepest, most warm and loving eyes in the world
bones which have been left twice:
once on the road, another time in her new home
by her adopted mother and brother
someone she trusted with her life

those eyes were bright when they left the clinic
they returned a little less bright
and now they are fighting to remain open

those strangers i spoke of cry at her bedside
and watch as another stranger's blood
is filtered into her system

her adopted mother does not answer our calls anymore

all i can see when i sleep these days is those eyes
warm, brown and big, looking at me like i am an angel
looking at everyone she meets, like they are her saviour
no matter how many needles they prod her with

all i see are those eyes and those bones
less than 40 pounds of skin and protruding bones

her eyes are dimmer today
and her mother still does not care

it maybe the 21st century
do you see why humans think about karma even now?

Monday, 30 May 2011

lucky

My name is Meera Lakhani. People call me Lucky. I’m part south Indian, part north Indian. Then again, if you’re from India, you would have known that the minute you read my name. Lucky is just a dead giveaway. Who has heard of a Sindi/Punjabi named Lucky… err... everybody?

I am bipolar. I still don’t quite know what that means. For me, it just means that most people don’t stick around in my life for very long. My parents could be called an exception, in several cases at least. But they know even less about me than I do. Which is difficult.

I’m in the earlier half of my 20s. I don’t know why I’m trying to be vague about myself… maybe it just seems safer. People say the Internet is a dangerous thing anyway. Anyway, my best friend is a dog I rescued when she was lying on the road, bleeding. I named her – wait for it – Cecilia. I don’t know why. It’s a very un-hip, infra dig name, I know. But around that time, I had read an oft quoted quote by some chap named Cecil Rhodes. Something along the lines of what Robert Frost said.. miles to go, so much to do.. I can’t remember now. But I was inspired. I was young, in my teens, and had just been officially diagnosed with my manic depression [I realize that is different from bipolar disorder in the eyes of some, I really don’t care. Either way, I’m sick.] I found Cecilia on the road and my heart broke. Literally. I broke down in the middle of the road, called some people, took her to the vet and helped her.

My doctor told my parents it was a good sign I cared for animals – gave me something to be responsible for. Little did they know that it would be the *only* thing I’d ever be responsible for. My dog, I mean.

I lost my job as a secretary to a fat, overpaid, snarky executive recently. I spat in his face. And I didn’t have the nerve to tell my folks. I knew I’d do it during my next high or low. So the last few days have been spent driving around, sometimes with Cecil in the seat next to me… just looking. For I don’t know what.

Then one day I rescued an animal from being beaten to death by humans and though I’ve been taken my meds regularly and all that, though it’s been a couple of months since the last “incident” [that’s what my parents called my highs and lows, my psychotic breaks] I began to think I was going crazy.

I started seeing crows everywhere. Yes, I’m sure. And I haven’t told my psychiatrist about it yet. They’ll all think I’m nuts again.

It’s like they’re watching me. So, I started reading up on crows. And I realized how smart the bloody birds are. I thought about it incessantly but couldn’t figure out for the life of me why they were following me around. Then I remembered. They’re scavengers. They can probably smell death a mile away. So maybe I was dying, or maybe they know I was so screwed in the head that I would die soon. I’m not sure.

And so. I have drawn up a list. Or rather, I intend to. Of things to do before I die. Not very original, yes, I realize that. But who cares. I’m dying. I get to be unoriginal, clich├ęd in the face of my mortality.

I thank the crows for again giving me a reason to wake up in the morning. So I can accomplish whatever I can before Death [I picture her from Gaiman’s Sandman. Pretty cool character, huh?] comes for me. So I’m ready when she comes. *cue for maniacal laughter that I’m not too good at*

Cecil and I are gonna be ready. Or something.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

flocks



Time: around late afternoon when the sun is hot, but not hottest, in the sky.
Place: somewhere in southern India, where the summers are scorching, where animals wander around on the roads of places teeming with office buildings and the trash the offices manage to come up with.

A crow sits on a cow’s back. The cow is patient, but begins to get annoyed when it starts pecking at her. “Like seriously. You have plenty to choose from but you peck at something 500 times your size that’s still alive??”

“Why are you speaking like a black person? And. It’s hot, I’m bored and I know you’re too tired to actually kill me.”

“How do you even know I’m speaking like a black person unless you’ve also….”

“Guys, shut up! I’m trying to snooze here.” Another cow from not-so-yonder speaketh up.

“Snooze? What have you all been listening to?” a crow spat from a tree. Yes, crows don’t spit but it was trying to clean a wing and it sounded like it was spitting words out.

“I’m bored, Ma,” another crow said. “Let’s play a game?”

“Oh for Ram’s sake, fine let’s play a bloody game.” That was a bull from the herd, sleeping by the side of the road. “You crows go and find food. And we go, find food. And at the end of two hours, we’ll see who has found the most food.”

Baby crow was excited. “What’s the prize?”

Silence. Then the bull said, “Eternal sunshine of the spotted mind.”

“EH?!” Yes, that was a chorus.

“I don’t know, I’ll think of a prize. After all, I’m tha man!” That said, tha man goes back to sleep, unaware of the traffic that shoots past him at 70 kmph on a Saturday afternoon.
--

114 minutes later…

“Wha?” The bull opened his eyes blearily. A cow looked at him from her big, dark, soulful eyes. “What are we giving the kid crow? Have we decided?”

“What’s wrong with you woman! You woke me up for this?! For, for.. for THIS?” he spat. “Screw the crow! Cows and crows aren’t even supposed to be friends, what world do you live in? I just wanted it to stop cawing in my ear and gave it something to do!”

Stone cold silence. She cleared her throat. “You might want to turn around.”

The bull did.

He saw an endless cloud of black. Flocks and flocks of crows had gathered to help the brat. Turns out he was some alpha male’s first born (yes, even crows have fertility issues now. One wouldn’t have thought it, right?) and they had decided to help him. The result was a huge pile of.. well, garbage.

Let me make it clear. Crows are smaller than cows, and bulls too, definitely. But they’re useful. You don’t want to annoy the scavengers of a wannabe metropolitan Indian city. One never knows when they will be of use. Say, when it rains and the cows need shelter. The crows fly further than the cows imagine. They’d know where to get plastic to keep dry for the first rains to abate, while the cows managed to find their way to a deserted shed the crows know of. Before you ask – humans are useless. They think of only themselves and their milk, meat, whatever. Calves, even full-grown cows, have died of things like pneumonia after being left in the rain by the two-legged mammals.

“Erm. I was kidding.” Crows flexing their muscles is funny. Trying not to laugh is funnier. So best to say least in such a moment. “Ok, wait. Let me prove it. I’ll go find some food.”

Hysterical crow laughter. Bulls do not *look* for food. It comes to them.

“This should be fun,” alpha crow said.

It was. Sort of. One and a half minutes later, a stupid male motorcyclist was lying in the middle of the road, in a small pool of blood, moaning.

“See! I told you I could do it!” Yes, that was stupid bull-talk. Now we know where the term bull-shit originated from. Alpha crow to alpha bull: “That’s not what you guys eat. You’re not taking this seriously.”

“No, no, I am! See, I never specified what sort of food or whose food. I just said food. You guys can eat this!”

Hmm. Strange. The bull was reasoning with them. Before this could be properly considered by the birds (if one can call them that), there was a big noise. Humans had flocked to the one lying on the road. In languages we do not understand, they hawed and hemmed and pointed at the bull. Two humans promptly started beating the big animal up with wooden planks from a nearby construction site. This was something the crows could not fix before it was too late.

The flock of birds and herd of mammals (four-legged ones) were in discussion as the alpha bull continued to be made mash out of.
--

It was my day off and I was bored. My bipolarness was at it again. I had stolen a cop’s uniform, bought POLICE stickers for my car and cheesy blue and red flashing lights for too. I was happy and whistling and looking for trouble. I found it.

After almost two hours of driving, when I was in some godforsaken industrial area, I came across a cow being bashed up by some idiots on the road. I slowed down and parked nearby. People allowed me to – they thought I was a cop.

I viewed the scene from a little further away and figured.. these were morons. They obviously blamed a poor, dumb animal, which could not talk, for an accident. That too a bike accident by a moron who was obviously drunk and or high or just careless.

I strutted to the men, took out my lathi and whacked the bigger one of them
He turned, eyes wild, “EEEYYYYY!!.....”. His companion also turned, both holding bloody, wooden planks, and both stopped in their tracks seeing my uniform.

“Go, call someone. Animal doctor or something.” Nobody reacted. “GO!” Some people standing by ran, some whipped out their phones. “Call Blue Cross, you son of an unmarried mother!” I swore in the local tongue.

Then I turned back to the men. I calmly whacked them a couple of times with the lathi I stole from somewhere during one of my drunken, psychotic highs. They shrieked and asked for mercy, blaming the cow. I whacked them till they got why I was mad and till they apologized for killing the animal. Well, I don’t know if it was dead, it certainly looked it.

As they crawled away, I called the real cops and waited for Blue Cross before I made a run for it.
--

The crows watched, bewildered at what she was doing. After it was all over and their friend the stupid bull was carted off to animal hospital, they agreed on one thing – if anyone got the best food that day, it was the policewoman. To have two numbskulls begging for mercy, almost begging to be her food, to be killed and eaten by her, was thrilling. Especially since she had done it to save one of them, and not out of boredom.

Alpha crow announced what they were all considering. “The two-legged mammal who saved Bull wins. Since there was no prize discussed, she wins our loyalty. We will keep an eye on her and keep her safe from harm. No human who did that is normal, maybe she is off in her head.”

“I think you mean off with her head,” his female partner whispered.

“I meant crazy, not headless, you chicken!”

And they all dispersed, shaking their heads at the strange happenings of the day. That lady was one of them now. Whether she liked it or not.

Monday, 23 May 2011

it takes two

I walked into my best friend’s house, right past her mother and brother, into her room and sat on her bed. It was six in the morning so I had to shake her awake.

“Humflpilghsphugt.”

“Wake up. Anna. Anna. Anna!”

Mission accomplished. She blinked at me through quarter-open eyes and then tried to sit up. I braced myself for impact. It came, sure enough. I got whacked on my upper arm. From a friend who is a state-level squash player, that can hurt quite a bit.

“What the fuck is wrong with you?? Are you insane? This is why I bloody said I’d go with you! Why didn’t you call me yesterday, do you know how worried I was??”

I winced. In a matter of two seconds, her tone changed.

“Sweetie, are you ok? What happened there? Tell me..”

“I couldn’t do it.”

Silence. I heard a crow cawing outside her window. I was afraid she might try to stone it to death.

“What?” She had gone very quiet.

“I couldn’t do it.. I just couldn’t.”

She took a deep breath. “Ok. This is manageable. We can fix another appointment and I’ll take you there myself.. it’ll all be absolutely fine, don’t wor..”

“I don’t think I can do it.”

More silence.

“What’s wrong with you? You don’t really have a choice, do you?”

“I do! I can keep it! There are so many people who are desperately trying to have kids and can’t. In-vitro, taking temperatures, freezing eggs.. they do all sorts of shit! And I can just give them a baby!”

“Right. If that even is an option, what is going to happen to you?”

Before I could open my mouth to answer, she continued.

“You’re 16. Six-fucking-teen. And you’re in India. Your folks don’t even know you’ve done it!”

I heaved a great, big sigh. “I know, An. But I thought.. well. I donno. I went there and I was all riled up, ready to go through this. Then.. It occurred to me that this is actually a person. Will be a person. And I’m wiping it off the face of the Earth because I was irresponsible and too chicken-shit to do anything but that. I mean.. what if this is the next Gandhi?!”

She gave me a supremely skeptical look.

“I mean.. this is someone’s best friend, first lover, someone’s life partner and parent that I’m wiping off forever! It’s a goddamn person!” I was very high-pitched by then. Anna would have normally shushed me but she was pacing and biting her lower lip.

“So. What would you like to do? Have you told your idiot boyfriend?”

“No. Obviously he’ll freak the fuck out. He’s 19 and slept with a minor and got her pregnant. So…”

I heard a dog barking. It was barking at a bawling baby. The universe could not have been clearer.

“Listen. We’ll do something. I’ll skip this year at school or something. I’ll talk to my parents. If they disown me… well, they won’t. They love me too much. I just… I’m keeping this baby. I mean, till it pops out. Then it can go wherever it wants to. Or the gods want it to. But… I can’t kill it. I… I just can’t…”

“Oh sweetie, don’t cry. I may slap you, I’m so stressed out. I’m sorry that I maybe being a bitch but… I’m just worried for you. You’re so smart and cool and this could ruin your life.”

“It won’t. I know it won’t.”

“Annnnnaaaaaaa!”

“Wait. Mom’s probably worried cos’ we’re yelling. I’ll be right back.”

Once she had left, I sat down on the edge of her bed. I was scared out of my wits. I didn’t know what I was doing and maybe she was right. I hated my emotions and hormones. Obviously they would tell me to keep it, that’s what they called maternal instinct. Or something.

I put my hand on my lower abdomen, close to where my jeans were buttoned. I couldn’t wear those for much longer. It had already been two months.

While I was deep in thought, trying to calm myself down, Anna’s brother walked in. I didn’t even notice. When his hand landed gently on my shoulder, I jumped and squealed.

“Nikhil! You scared the shit out of me.”

“Are you okay?”

I paused. Could I be honest with him? Would he also freak out? “No,” I whispered.

“I figured.”

We sat together in silence for a while before he said, “Are you keeping it?”

“I think so.”

I turned to look at him and found him already looking at me.

“Does your boyfriend know?”

“He doesn’t even know I’m pregnant.”

“Why?”

“I don’t want to drag him into this. It’s my fault.”

“No, I know why you’re not telling him. But why are you keeping it?”

“I don’t know. It feels wrong to abort. What if it ends up being another brilliant squash player?”

I looked at him again.

“We have to tell her at some point,” he said. “I can’t lie to someone living under the same roof as me. Not forever.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll handle it. We should have told her earlier, when it happened. But better late than never. Anyway, I'll tell her. It’s my fau..”

“The hell it’s your fault. I should have used protection!”

“Sshh. She’ll hear us. And, it doesn’t matter now. We’ll figure something out.”

“I’m so, so sorry, Preethi.”

“It’s not your fault. We were drunk. And it takes two. I didn’t even expect you to be so nice about it… I mean offering to drive me to the clinic and all.”

“Yes, well… mom’s brought me up well.”

“You better go. I’ll talk to Anna. Don’t you dare think about telling your mother.”

“Ok.”

As he left, his sister walked in. “Ok, so here’s what we’re gonna do….” she began. I lost track of her, deep in my own thoughts about the universe and babies and encounters with friends’ older brothers.

Monday, 16 May 2011

surrender

“What if I just stop running and give in to all the madness?” I found myself thinking.

After having lived abroad for five years, I missed home. I wanted to come back. And I did.

By that time I was 31. My parents were gentle in their requests for information about my relationships while I had been gone. It seems they were sure I had found someone to settle down with and never worried that they’d have to “arrange” for a boy.

The rest of the north Indian extended family were hyperventilating though. Forget 31, even 28 was nearing an expiry date when it came to the Indian wedding market. And I, having been brought up by fairly open-minded people in an extremely open-minded metro, and living abroad on top of it, was not prepared for the circus that awaited me once I got back.

Picture this: I land in Mumbai after hopping across god only knows how many continents, seas or countries, and my grandmother toddles in at 2 in the morning to ask what my boyfriend looks like. Because she wants to know if her great-grandchildren will be decent looking, she says. I stared open-mouthed before my poor mother ushered her back to bed.

For the next two hours, my parents calmly explain the situation to me – how they have fended off queries for my hand in marriage, how they were sure I’d be against an arranged thing, how they were even surer that I would find someone for myself during my time away. “After all, you’re such a smart cookie, and so pretty too,” my mother smiled at me gently, tucking my hair behind my ear.

I had to pinch myself to check if it was a dream.

It was close to two months after my return, as I was standing by the French windows in my uncle’s house, mulling my esoteric existence in a suddenly traditional set up, when I finally decided. Against all the advice of my equally esoteric friends, I would give in. I would stop running.

Love had let many people down over the years. My own parents had met through their family. So what if I barely knew the man I might marry. Sometimes we think we know people and find we don’t know even the first thing about them. The more I obsessed about it, the more it seemed to make sense.

I find myself today, with a supremely calm exterior, dressed not in my finery, but in fairly normal clothes (to keep at least a part of the typical boy-meets-girl-and-family deal different), sitting across, well, a boy. Or a man. Whatever. I find myself resisting the urge to pinch myself again and check if this is real.

Even before he opens his mouth, I know he is not the one for me. But I am not worried. I’ve stopped worrying and obsessing, I’ve surrendered to the process now. I didn’t expect to find my match in the very first guy I met.

I smiled at him and wondered how to tell Mr Electrical Engineer in a Pink and Blue shirt that well, he wasn’t quite esoteric and strange enough to suit my needs. Then I thought back to the very first boy who had a crush on me, in school, and how till today we remain friends despite the feelings not being reciprocated.

I took a deep breath and opened my mouth to say something.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

ode to the S trio

this has been lying in my notebook, incomplete, for a while. seeing as how I'm still not able to get down to writing, I figured I might as well put the first two up. the third will have to forgive me.

these are short, short poems [??] for the only males who ever have and ever will love me unconditionally - and vice versa.

I love you boys and hope you're running wild with each other in the doggy version of the Elysian fields.

--

Sport the Beagle

he came to us as a tiny ball of fur,
huge elephant ears that we couldn't begin to muster;
large, brown eyes set in tan and white fuzz,
like liquid gold with a puppy smell and energy buzz.

we named him Sport, better known as Sporticus,
he was no-nonsense, loving yet firm, caused no fuss.
you see, he went blind as a baby,
and it left him a little bit more wary.

he added to the chaos that I called home,
he was my rock, his ways were set in stone.
he loved me with all of his heart and giant ears,
that's something that never changed with ill-health or passing years,
he was also partial to those who rubbed his belly,
his fierce snarls and hound howls would reduce to jelly.

Sport had a cream colour, soft, such a soft tummy,
a long, loooonnnggg tail we could spot from even far away.
he loved food almost as much as we loved him,
after epilepsy, eating from the garbage was his biggest sin.

he always warned us of strangers and never ran astray,
he knew he couldn't leave his family for even a day.

i'll always feel sad about the way he went:
catching infection when i was away, then epilepsy,
when i returned after a semester, he was totally spent.

i loved him like i did no other:
you see, Sport and i were very similar.
he went blind, and i got hurt,
he became wary, and i became curt.
but that didn't stop us from loving,
loving with all of our broken heart.

may my Beagle be well-fed and happy,
with his brothers Strike and Sparky.

--

Strike the brindle Boxer

tiny, brown and striped with pure white socks,
that he grew to be the biggest was one big shock.
size didn't matter hough, he was purest of heart,
he couldn't hate any living thing, right from the very start.

his giant brown eyes bowled Ma over as soon as they met,
she was his and he was hers, something she'll never, ever forget.
sure, they loved others too, but she was his Big Momma.

though biggest in size, Strike's brain was disproportionately small:
he never understood our fox terrier's smartness, though he stood so very tall.
as a result, he was often conned into doing stupid things:
marking territory inside his house, running away as a young 'un,
all of which got him scolded by the human beings.

Strike however, loved like it was the only thing that mattered,
if you looked into his eyes, all your logic would be scattered.
he was a gorgeous Boxer brindle who never, ever lost his temper,
maybe a few crows and cats were the only ones who saw him and scampered.

he was the second of the three to leave us:
the way he went, oh boy, caused a lot of fuss.
lots of blood, no eating, skin and bone,
stitches, couldn't stand up, it all left us torn.

he suddenly left us in a flash,
eyes open, tongue hanging, heart still.
i skipped my final college year trip
ran home and fell apart like potato mash.

our gorgeous, much beloved Boxer boy,
we hope you're running amuck with your brothers and toys.

Monday, 2 May 2011

gargoyles in my head


I have never been unable to write before.

bluepapercranes suggested I write, pour all my guilt and fear into one of those morbid pieces I usually concoct. At the time, I was still in shock and didn't even consider it. Now, two days later, when the guilt is still gnawing at me every minute that I'm awake [it's possible I dream about it too] I think about something I could write. But it always comes back to the same thing - screeching tyres, the smelt of burnt rubber, a lot of tears and so on.

People are saying "it happens", "everyone messes up", "what is the point of beating yourself up about it"... it's all true maybe. But I find myself thinking things like, "what if I had killed someone", "if I had let him drive, this wouldn't have happened", "what if my grandparents and uncle could have seen me", "what if there was another car in front of me"... I'm grateful that it wasn't as bad as it could have been. Grateful for my friends and family trying to be supportive, not leaving me alone with myself for very long.

I never intended this blog to be a place for personal rants or whiney posts. It's just that I seem to have writer's block for one of the first times in my life. And somehow, I'm okay with that. If I wrote a marvellous something right now, I'd feel better about myself. I wouldn't hate myself as much as I do now, I wouldn't be as disgusted and angry with me.

And I don't think it's time I felt better just yet.