Saturday, November 05, 2005

I then saw lalitha chithi and ran to her. Mani mama shouted and said, "Now you have touched her and you are going to pollute the whole house. Don't you know she is out-of-doors?" "No, how was i supposed to know?", I thought. "You have to sleep next to her today!" he said. I just didn't understand why my aunts were treated like untouchables on some days.

I knew what happened on those days, my aunts would go secretly into a room and quickly slip a cloth between their feet and cover it with their panties. I had witnessed it when I was around five. That day, they sneaked into a room and called mt to look for ammama. I looked for her and took my ammama to them. They they asked me to stay out. And because they asked me to stay out, I had to know what was happening. I saw my ammama help them do it. I later asked her the reason for placing the cloth like that. She said, "Oh that, you will have to do it when you grow up!" "But why not now? I want to do it now!" I said. Then she consoled me by saying "Kozhandai, later."

But that was still on my mind, so I took two ribbons, one red one and another a blue one, so that they seem as big as the actual cloth. And I wondered how I would do it. Those days I had waist-band, which was tied to ward off all evil. I put that to use. I put the ribbons through my front and took it till my back and through the waist-band again. The ribbons were hanging from both sides, so i took the edges and tied them tightly in the middle. Then I put my panty on it. It was extremely uncomfortable. The ribbons were irritating the skin on my posterior. My urethra was itching. I was slightly disgusted with the whole thing, but I was happy that I got it right, so I had to exhibit it. I ran to my grandma, those days I used to run around in my under clothes as I was small and insisted that she look at my panty. She did, but she didn't say a thing. So I realised that she hadn't seen it. I therefore, removed my panty and turned around and showed her the whole thing, and I said, "I did it on my own!" My grandma, aghast said, "Ayyo, what have you done? Take it off." Then she spent around an hour convincing me to take it off. I listened to her only after I exhibited my prowess to every single person in the house!

Monday, September 12, 2005

It was friday and a public holiday. But my mother's organisation never shared a holiday with others. So I had to wait till the evening for her to return and go to my grandparents. That day my father had a holiday too. So i never wanted to wake up in the morning. But the thought of meeting my grandparents cheered me up.

I pretended to study because I didn't want to talk to him. Suddenly he announced that he was going out. "Thank god", I felt. I ran out of my house to the neghbouring building where i practically lived. There were a few kids of my age. There was Sapna and her elder sister, Kavita. Their cousins Shweta and Salomi and their neighbour Khyati. The building was replete with Sapna's relatives but i was only concerned with these people. We used to go for tutions together and her aunt taught us. I went there because my mother sent me there to study. She thought I would never study on my own.

I was teased all the time by these girls. They were all Maharashtrians. I learnt their language from them. They teased me for the clothes i wore, which they thought were too short for me. But i thought my clothes were just perfect for me. Anyway, my main aim was to play. And i wasn't a great player at all. I ran when i felt like running. I hated being the denner because they could dodge me around. I was puny and thin and weak. But I still would throw tantrums and try to get my way around. I was really difficult to play with. Sometimes they would scheme to make me the denner. I didn't mind that because i knew how to tackle it. I would become the denner and sit in the same place and never look around for them till they got bored to death! Then there would be a huge fight - me against the rest, where I would be questioned on my integrity towards the game. My reply would be, "I am the denner so I have the choice to either look for you and catch you or just let you be. So I chose to just let you be, that is all." Then they stopped scheming against me. But I was always teased about something or the other by Sapna and the others would follow suit. She was their leader I suppose.

I remember an instance when I was teased by her in school in front of a lot of students from her class. This happened for a while and I was really irritated. Suddenly one day I gathered courage walked up to her class room, called her out and slapped her hard and told her, "This is for teasing me", and walked away. Her class stared at me and she threatened to complain to my teacher. I smiled, I felt powerful. I felt like the Goddess Durga who slain Mahishasura! Now, it all seems like a joke but i really felt great.

In spite of all that had passed between us, we still continued playing together. That is something I can never understand. My mother, my tution teacher (her aunt), would tell me to stay away from her. But I wouldn't. That is really inexplicable. I always wanted to play, may be it was never her that i wanted to play with, but there was no one else. And I had to play.

I saw my father walking down the lane towards the house and I ran home. I was home before him and was back to my pretense of studying. Someone was with him. His friend, I believe. I was called as usual and he introduced me as his daughter. Suddenly all fondness crept in for me. I always wondered how that happened. Then of course, the visitor had to ask me questions. He asked, "What are you doing now?" I said, "Waiting for my mother to go to my granparents' house". Then suddenly my father corrected me and said, "She is studying in the third standard." I was asked to sit there. I sat. Then he told my father, "She is a very quiet girl." I stared. My father agreed with him. I got up and walked out.

I stood at the window and waited for it to be six o'clock. It was six-thirty, but my mother hadn't arrived. Tears started rolling down my cheeks. "Had she been killed by a running bus? Was she dead? Was she not going to take me there? Was she going to tell me that she was tired and so would take me only tomorrow?", these were my thoughts. But what a relief, I saw her at a distance. I put on my clothes and got ready to leave. I was careful not to attract my father's attention as it would prompt him to say something sarcastic to me. But no care was enough. It did attract my father's attention. And he said, "So all this was for going there haan?" I nodded, no. Then he said, "You are not going there today." I was really scared.

My mother entered. I clung to her and told her this silently. I didn't want my father to hear it. She convinced me that she would take me and she went towards my father. He told her not to go that day. And they started fighting. But I had to go. I wanted to meet my grandparents. My mother was crying. I hated it all. She picked up the bag and we left. My father told me not to return. I was scared, but I also felt happy at the thought of not returning.

I asked my mother, "Do I not have to return with you?" My mother said, "Of course you have to. Oh don't bother about what he says. We fought because you wanted to go to meet your grandparents and he doesn't like it." I just didn't talk anymore.

We reached there at ten in the night. I went and hugged my grandmom. My uncle asked my mother, "what is the need for you to come so late?" My mother said, "oh she wants to come here and she waits to come here." I smiled when she said that. To which he said, "She will say a lot of things, she is a child. You have to make her listen to you. There is no need to come here from next time, if it gets so late." And he looked at me angrily. I didn't know what to say and held tightly on to my grandmom's hands.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

This is not a part of the story.

Memories are strangers sometimes. Each day brings with it new feelings and memories keep distancing themselves. But they are there. Then you wonder how you ever felt that? Is it the same thing or the same person that you are seeing now? They all seem so different, they are strangers. Memories create strangers. They refuse to acknowledge that change is constant. They linger in the past. They hold you back, they never let you change. They have such a strong hold on you that they throttle you and sometimes you die. You may be alive but you are still dead. You are not living anymore. It is memories that live.

Look at your hands. Aren't they different? Your eyes may agree but memories don't. They will tell you that your hands now are as beautiful as the hands with which you were born. But they are the same hands. When did they change? You don't have an answer to that so you trust your memory. That seems to be the most reliable friend. Because everything is not always beautiful but you want to see only beautiful things, so you trust memory.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Tears just kept rolling down, I couldn't control them. My grandparents burst out crying. All of us were crying. My world of the three of us was broken. The train moved and I could just see images far away at a distance. That was the end of my speech. My mother was crying. Someone in the train asked her why we both were crying. She said that she had to take me with her, separating me from my grandparents and she was sad because of that. I found that revelation ridiculous. That lady looked at me like sympathetically. I hated that look. Could she save me from the situation? Why the hell should she know about me? I think my mother wanted some sympathy, may be.

The keys opened a door. I entered a dark house, suddenly my mother switched on the lights and said, "This is your house." I stared. I sat and she went into the kitchen to cook. It was almost an hour after entering the house. I was still, sitting in the same place. I wasn't thinking anymore. Somebody rang the bell. It was the same bearded man, my father. He came in and smiled, "Hello, how are you?" I feigned a smile. He came to touch my cheek and I moved my face away. Then my mother came and said, "say hello to him, he is your father." I stared at her. Then again she said, "come, say hello." I nodded. And she came close to me and said, "come baby, say hello". I was exasperated, "I don't know", I said. Then this father of mine asked her, "Is she always like this? Can't she talk? See how your parents have brought her up!" To which she promptly replied,"It is the first day, she has just come. And she was crying so much.." "Was she crying?", he asked, "Wasn't she happy to come here?" "She has stayed with my parents for so long, she is attached to them. It will take time", said my mother. I watched. I was really scared, I wanted to run away.

I was asked to sleep on a bed along with them. I was put in between them. I didn't like that. Suddenly my mother said, "My mother used to say that parents shouldn't put their children in between, this distances the couple. So let her sleep near the wall." To which my father agreed. I was put near the wall (the side of the bed near the wall). I held my hands tight and almost crouched towards the wall. Then my mother's arm fell on me. I pushed it away. I wanted my grandparents' arms. I was very afraid of these people. Some sounds woke me up early in the morning. I looked around. My parents were talking loudly. They were fighting. My mother said, "You took so much money, where is the account for it?" To which the reply was, "I earn, so I spent, you don't need to have an account of it." She said, "I give all the money to the house..." I got down from the bed and went there. I watched them shout. Suddenly my mother noticed me. "Oh, she has woken up", she said. "Why have you woken up so early, why don't you go and sleep?", he asked. I didn't know what to say. I looked at my mother and went back. I just sat there. I wanted to run away. I wanted to cry, but i was too scared to cry. Then he came in and said, "Last night you were asking your grandpa to save you from here. You were telling him that we were beating you. You think he is going to save you?" "Yes", I said. Then I asked him, "Was I saying such things? " Then my mother came and said, "You were speaking in your dreams." I said, "ok." I was happy, I had dreamt of my grandpa.

They went away and continued shouting. I was too scared to step out and go to the loo. It had been almost an hour. I saw my mother fall against the edge of the wall. The marble hit her on the forehead. That man had beaten her. She beat him back. "Good", I thought. But I was very scared. She came to give me milk, I drank it. She said she was going to the doctor. I asked her the reason for going to the doctor. She showed me the wound. I told her that i will accompany her. She said the doctor was close by and she would be back soon. I said, "I am scared." She assured me that she would be back soon. I sat there still and stared at the walls and prayed that that man shouldn't come into the room while I am alone.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

This is a digression from the story.

There are some thoughts that keep haunting me, certain injustices that haunt me. I can't tolerate injustice and unprofessionalism. I know it is too much to expect from everyone, but these thoughts weigh me down and so I write. They torture me and I can concentrate on nothing...

Thursday, August 04, 2005

I contemplated running away from there so that my mother could never find me. But then I thought, I could never be with my grandparents if I ran away. So that wasn't a viable solution. There wasn't any solution, I just had to follow what was told to me. I tried reasoning it out with my mother, I asked her how I could reverse this decision, could we return that leaving certificate? She told me that even if we returned it, my uncle didn't want me to stay there. But I said that the house was my grandfather's and he could let me stay if he wanted to. How could my uncle have a say in it and why was he deciding for me? My grandfather said that the house wasn't in his name. Name, what name? Wasn't he the eldest in the family? He said he was, but that was it. Nobody could rescue me from this. Everyone else decided my fate. Everyone else decided where I should stay and with whom and for how long. But I had to live it all. I wished, then for the first time, everyone else other than my grandparents dead. I never realised that they all were my grandparents children.

The days were running. At that time some of my cousin brothers came to stay there. The elder one was eleven and the younger one was three years old. I really liked the younger one, he was cute and chubby. We would play together. Suddenly I marked a change in my uncles' behaviour. They were very nice to both my cousins. I wasn't allowed to rest my legs on the wall but they were. I wasn't allowed to scream or throw tantrums but they were. I just ignored it. My uncles then decided to take them out as my cousins were getting bored. I was excited that we were going out. I was all ready with my clothes and shoes. My cousins and my uncles just shut the door to my face and disappeared. I was never a part of their plan. They were anyway planning to get rid of me. My aunt Vidya, who dressed me for the occassion asked me why I was left behind. I told her, "I don't know." I wanted to drown somewhere and hide my face. I was the most hated person there. I went to my grandpa and asked him to take me out. He and I went walking in the evening. And we talked and talked. By then a realisation dawned on me, being a child meant being powerless. It meant being ridiculed for thinking and expressing one's opinions. I thought to myself then that I would slap my uncles one day when I became as big as them. I would hurt them too. Then I looked at my grandparents and loved them even more.
I didn't know that the end of my stay with my grandparents was nearing and also probably the end of my feeling of security. I was seven years old and had completed my second standard education. Suddenly one day my uncle Ramakrishnan said that I had to live with my parents henceforth. I was aghast. "Why?", I asked. I didn't know that such a day would ever come when I would have to be away from my grandparents inspite of being in the same city. I ran to my grandpa and cried. My grandmom heard me say that I was going to be sent away and started worrying. My grandpa just smiled and consoled us. He called my uncle and told him that I should stay with them at least for two more years. But my uncle never paid heed to this. I realised that when he called my mother and handed over my school Leaving Certificate to her. For the first time I saw my name printed on it. It said - Nandini Srinivasan. I pointed out that it was a mistake and that my name should be Nandini Narayanan Iyer. I had seen my aunts write that suffix. But then I was told that the suffix is generally the father's name. But my grandfather was elder to my father and if we have to respect our elders as we are told, then why can't we take their name as suffix? And also, my mother's name had that suffix, didn't it? It didn't, I was told. Only my father's name mattered. But I wanted to take on my grandpa's name. There was nobody to listen to me.

My memories of my father were very grim. I had the image of him as a huge man with a moustache. I was scared of him. My grandpa never had a moustache. I remembered that this man had pinched me hard when I refused to go to him, when he called me. Nobody saw him pinching me but the mark stayed on. He would play with me on his stray visits to Kerala, where I stayed with my grandparents before coming to Bombay. And I would play with him too, not because I liked it, but because I was scared of being violated. I was scared of being beaten or pinched. I never liked him. I didn't know him. How could stay with him? I shuddered at the thought. I knew my mother but I never trusted her. She was a stranger, she was nice to me now but she too had beaten me for not listening to her when I was two years old. I didn't want to listen to her then. I didn't think she was worth listening to, only my grandparents were worth listening to.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

I asked my aunt once, my mentor-aunt, the reason for being left here with my grandparents. She said that my parents worked so they couldn't take care of me. She said it was a blessing in disguise for me as I had so many people here to love me. "Really?" I asked. She hugged me tight. My other aunt Shweta, was listening to all this. She was the youngest of the lot, just ten years elder to me. She said that my other aunt, Vidya was lying. She said the truth is that my parents wanted freedom to roam around. They had seen kodaikkanal, Nepal and a few other places without me. And if I were with them, they wouldn't be able to do so. I told her that I don't care to see all these places as long as I had my ammama and thatha. But her words stayed in my mind. I went to sleep knowing that nobody, no one other than my grandparents actually loved me, and may be my aunt Vidya. But I wasn't sure.
My Grandparents were excellent story-tellers. I had started listening to stories since the age of two. My grandmother was educated till standard eight, so she would read to me patiently from the English Picture-story books that were given to me by my mother. I loved "The fox and the crow" as I liked looking at the picture of the fox carrying bread in its mouth after having fooled the crow. Not that I approved of it, as the moral of the story stated that One should beware of people who praise, but that bread looked very tempting. I could empathise with the fox who snatched the bread. Apart from my granparents my mother would always make it a point to tell me stories whenever we met. I liked listening to the same stories again and again. I had heard 'Cindrella', 'Aladdin' and 'Alibaba and the forty Thieves' umptene times. I never got bored of stories. My grandma and grandpa too frequently heard requests for the stories that they knew from me. So I loved studying English as there were so many stories in the text book and I never had to struggle for answers as I would read those stories many times, as in whenever I was asked to study that was always my preferred subject.

On the other hand I didn't like maths. I would always avoid it. There was so much to memorize in that. We had to learn tables till ten but my grandpa insisted that i should know tables till sixteen, so i had to learn them. I was considered abysmal in math by everyone in the house. My uncle had declared that, so that was the truth. I didn't care much, but that led me to fear math. I started hating it so much that once I put my bench-mate in trouble. Our school math teacher was checking our math books. I saw her book and saw many signs in it '+', '-' etc. She was talking to someone else when I took her book and started scribbling numbers at random as answers to the problems given. She suddenly saw me and was annoyed, I said I was just generally solving further. She was happy as it saved her a lot of work. When the teacher called her for checking, she shouted at her for not solving the sums properly. But she never sneaked on me. I apologised for my actions. But I realised that I would have done it in my book too, unfortunately I wasn't carrying mine. I was genuinely sorry that I had scribbled in hers, but I did want to scribble numbers. I just wanted them to leave me alone. I hated numbers around me so I was actually scribbling in anger. I wanted those numbers to know that I didn't like them as I was humiliated in my house because of them. I was too naive then, to point a finger at my teacher, my uncle Ramakrishnan.
In these two years I had been to visit my 'supposed' parents a couple of times. Before that I had been to that house when my mother was living alone. I was told that my father was staying abroad. I met my paternal cousins, my father's sister, my paternal grandfather and his b-i-l. I was put in really absurd suroundings. I always cried before going there as my grandparents wouldn't come along. They used to console me saying that I would be back with them the same evening. As these events always led to the separation of my grandparents from me, I never liked these events. The brunt of this dislike was obviously borne by the people I met in the house in which my mother lived.

She was actually very sweet to me. She would give me all her attention. She was the only person I knew there so I would always hide behind her. I would see that I never answered any questions that were asked by any of those unknown people, not even my mother. I used to be quiet, almost like a robot, just sitting, eating when I was supposed to, sometimes even controlling nature's calls as I was in an unfamiliar surrounding. I just waited for the clock to strike six, so that Ramakrishnan's younger brother (my second uncle) would come to pick me up. My eyes always brightened and a smile automatically crept in. But I wasn't sure if I could smile at this uncle, Manikumar, as I didn't know if he liked me. But most definitely I knew him much more than anyone else in that house. On one such occassion when I was preparing to leave, my uncle was asked to sit and have coffee. I usually stood at the door, all set to go with my footwear on, so that my uncle wouldn't waste any minute after drinking coffee and that we could reach home early. On this particular day, my father's sister's husband asked my mom why I was behaving like this. My mom immediately replied that I was close to her parents so I was waiting to go. I smiled at her as she knew my mind. Then he told me to sit as I was anyway going to go. I nodded and continued standing. Then my paternal grandpa who was blind, asked me if i knew his name. Why would I know his name, I don't even know him. I replied in the negative. Then he asked me my grandpa's name and I promptly replied "C. Narayana Iyer." I even knew what 'C' stood for, his village name Cranganoore. Then he said that I should know his name too. I asked, "why?" He didn't have any reply.
A school picnic was announced to Borivali National Park. I was really excited as our teacher told us that picnic meant fun and frolic. I had never been on picnics before. When I was in the 1st standard I was considered too small to go on picnics so I was not allowed to go. But now I was in the second, so I had hopes of joining my class. I ran home excited and made the announcement. My grandpa asked me why I wanted to go. I stared, the reason was obvious I wanted to enjoy. I just couldn't reply, then he said I was too small to go with a large crowd! He said he would take me there. I protested. I wanted to go with the class and I started crying. I never spoke to my grandpa for two whole hours that day.

My fate was such that my 'T-shirt' uncle, whom I didn't like anymore had to poke his nose in all my affairs. As I have admitted that I had started disliking him, I shall call him by his name, Ramakrishnan. He was determined to put an end to my happiness, so he obviously refused to send me. He said I could go if I was staying with my parents as they couldn't take responsibility if my safety. I immediately responded, "But I am staying with you." Then I recollected that I had a mother, so I said, "alright, can you ask my mother?" To which he replied that I wasn't staying with her so she really had no say. I was heart-broken. My granparents told him to control his words, but I realised that was the truth. My grandpa came upto me and said that he would take me there. I just smiled at him, trying hard to control my tears, as I knew my tears would hurt him.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

I reached this new place where I was with my grandparents. They were with our would-be neighbours. We were supposed to eat there. I wondered where my other aunts and uncles were, but didn't ask. I was just going around the house and looking at strangers when i heard my uncle tell my grandpa that I always want to eat out and that my stomach growls automatically when i go out of the house. My grandpa just responded saying that I was a small child and he should just let it be. I remembered then that the food incident had occured twice before. But didnt his mouth water when he saw eatables? Then why was he blaming me?

Never mind. I met new people there. Here too, there were lots of kids, slightly older though. I played with them for a while and was a sitting with one of the boys when he said that my uncle told him that I was intelligent and he too finds me so. "What does that mean?", I asked. "Clever", he said. "Ohh, wise?" I asked. And then we just stared and changed the topic.

This was the first time I felt humiliated. My uncle slapped me and i fell against the cupboard. It was really hard. It was my second day to school and I got off from the school bus at a stop before mine. When I realised that I started walking towards my stop. My uncle was waiting there for me. I reached there and i told him that i mistook the earlier one to be mine. He heard me and didnt say a word. I reached and I was just narrating the event to my grandparents when a huge hand just ran across my face and i fell down. I was shocked. My aunt told me that my uncle got worried when I didnt get off the bus and he slapped me because he was concerned. Really? But I returned, didn't I? Don't people mistake routes sometimes? And it was just my second day, I admitted my mistake. Who the hell was he to slap me? I didn't want anyone to be concerned about me. It is my life.
I somehow managed to secure a 96 or 98 pc in my first standard and my mom came to congratulate me. I didn't know what that word meant or why I should be wished for getting marks. My 'T-shirt' uncled then voiced my thoughts differently. He said that in this standard i ought to have gained a cent percent and didn't deserve any appreciation. I acceded to this statement openly. "Right", I said, "why should anyone give me chocolates for getting marks?" I thoought ovr what he said and then realised that he wasn't voicing my thoughts but disparaging my efforts. But I was happy with what I got, so why should he bother? Never mind, what does cent percent mean? I had no concept of percentages yet.

Soon I had to shift my home with my grandparents and my uncles and aunts to another home. I cried because I didn't want to leave the place. Was I attached to it, I didn't know. Tears just flowed and I cried. I had to travel by train with my 'T-shirt' uncle for seeking admission into another school. I didn't want to go and i said it. I was shouted at for voicing my thoughts and was dragged along. I got admission there, into a supposedly good school. But the journey by train to that place is what i want to describe. I had travelled by train before and was really enthralled by the stalls there. They had some interesting yellow balls, red buns and cloured liquids exhibited. I asked my uncle what they were and he gave me a few names. My mouth watered and i told him I was thirsty. He said I shouldn't eat from these places. "why", I asked. "Because they aren't good", he said. "But why aren't they good"?, I asked. "Because they aren't!" That was a harsh tone, so I realised that I shouldn't ask anymore. I was really hungry later, but never asked for food, I was too scared of being shouted at.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

This uncle had bought me a T-shirt when I was around two. It was a grey one with horizontal black stripes. That was the first time someone had gifted me. That was just for me. I was so excited that I put it in a cloth-bag i used to play with, so that it would be safe. Rather, I wanted to feel that it was always with me. I was warned by my aunt that cockroaches frequently visited that bag. So I resolved to guard the T- shirt from them. The next day I woke up to see that my favorite T-shirt had holes in it. I wanted to know how cockroaches bore holes in my T-shirt. My aunt held it up and said, "see this, just like this!" and pointed at the existing holes.

I thought this 'T-shirt' uncle was really nice and I liked him a lot but I didn't like taking permission from him or from anyone else.

I was at a new place with so many people around me. I was sent to a new school. There were a lot of kids around in our locality, so I found it a nice place. I am not sure I liked my school so much. It was nice, but I didn'd like studying. I only wanted to play or just sit gaping at something. My class teacher there chose me as one of the participants for a dance programme. But I couldn't dance then. She didn't select me as I was not as good as she wanted me to be. My aunt, lalitha had taken me there. She was my mentor in my formative years. She would teach me, bear my tantrums, scold me, love me and also play with me. I went back home crying as I was not chosen. But I felt I could dance.

Soon there came up a Ganapathi festival in our area. They had a mandap and ten days of programmes. I would diligently complete my homework on those days and go to watch the programme. My grandmom loved it. There were Kuchipudi, Bharatanatyam, Carnatic music performances. I found them beautiful. I loved the make-up on the dancers' faces and enjoyed watching their eye movements. I was wonder-struck. Could I move my eyes like that?

There was a strange thing about me. I always wanted to do everything in my way, even if I was found to be bad at something. I was terrible at drawing. I could never fill colours in the given area. But I wanted to paint in my school drawing books. My aunts would want to do it for me as there were some marks reserved for this subject. But I would insist on doing it myself as I didn't care about marks. Actually then, I didnt even know what marks meant. I used to study as i was forced to do so and didn't have any other option. Whenever I refused to study, my aunt would complain to the 'T-shirt' uncle and then they threatened to send me back to my parents. I would occassionally get beaten for not studying. One day the argument heightened so much that my uncle threw my books away and told me in anger that I need not study anymore. And I got up and happily walked towards the door to go out and play. His anger just risened, when my grandparents came to my rescue. I didn't know what I did wrong. I thought my uncle had got me right for the first time, I didn't want to study!

Friday, July 29, 2005

Everyone was so huge as compared to me. I was scared of losing them due to my height. I was quite dispensable. But I knew that my grandparents would find me among any crowd in the universe. "Kozhandai" (little one) is what i am called. My grandpa's voice was firm, yet it oozed love. My grandmom had the voice of a very mature person. There was loads of love in it but it was a little controlled, as if she knew-it-all. Then when you looked at her face, you realised that there could be no face more pious and more loving than that. Her eyes spoke volumes. All her apprehensions were hidden there. She held them all close to her heart. My grandfather had a fatherly air. You would just want to go and sit on his lap to feel comforted. When he laughed he just opened his heart out. That laughter is resounding and really melodious.

I just wanted to be with these two wonderful people around me. I never wanted to see them cry. I hated all those who hurt them in any way. I really consider myself blessed for having known these great beings. But yes, there were my two uncles, four aunts and my grandpa's sister with us here, in Mumbai. I really can't define what it was, but it definitely can be categorized as some sort of a power-struggle, which my uncles, aunts and I experienced. They all were much older to me. The eldest being ten years elder to me. I was around four. I could never understand their urge to discipline me. My grandfather never disciplined me. Or may be he did, but I never felt like i was being disciplined. My grandmom too, never said anything. I have never heard a 'no' from them! It was never 'no' because they knew better than i did. They just told me sometimes, that I needed to wait to get there or wait to get whatever I wanted. My grandmom always felt that her son would object, so she always told me to restrict my demands.

But who is my uncle? My grandfather is the only one who can tell me anything at all. Only he needs to consent. When did the power equations change?
Someone else held my hand, that was my mother, as i was told. But I didn't like it. I ran to my Grandpa. I saw he was carrying too many things. So I went to my aunt whom i knew for three years now. My mother just smiled and came close to me. I held my aunt's arm tightly. Luckily my grandmom came to my rescue and started talking to my mom. She liked my grandmom. Oh yes! my grandmom was her mother. She liked her. They seemed to have a very affectionate conversation. I held my grandmom's hand and slowly brought a smile on my face. That was for my mother. She was probably nice, if she was so nice to my grandmom, my ammama.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

I was holding a water-bottle in my right-hand. The strong hold of my grandpa's hand left my left-hand. I shivered. There were a whole lot of people around me - my uncles, my aunts and someone I knew as my mother. She smiled. I looked at my grandpa. He was busy talking to my uncle. They were trying to gather our luggage. My grandma was with my aunt. I pulled at my grandpa's sleeve as far as my hand could reach. He gave a smile. And I smiled at my mother.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Hunger rules! Hunger gets you everything from food to riches. Go hungry, Be hungry,stay hungry and look for means to satisfy it permanently. And then you shouldn't be hungry again, ever!Hungry attracts Hungry and Hungry is what hungry does. Hungry me, hungry you, hungry all.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

If I have to write, I cant write when I feel like. I have to write everyday as a matter of habit. Right? yes, I read that Joyce used to write almost 200 pages everyday! Well, that makes Joyce, not me:).
I am trying but I just dont know what to write about. Let me try- can i write about my existence? My world right now, at this point of time in front of the comp or can i write about the myriads of thoughts in my head...? Let me start with right now- My fingers touch the key board, writing. My legs are twitching each other, in one of my legs efforts to scratch the other. My body itches in places, my hand leaves the key board to scratch it. "Oh what a treachery!", says the key board. "Of course not", says the part that itches, "I need it". Any which way, my fingers would be the treacherers. What is to be done? My legs shake on their own, My mind tries to control that movement, they stop. My mind wonders what next - where is the person I want to talk to? My legs shake again a bit, my mind notices, they stop. Why am I wrting, wonders the mind. I am actually waiting for somebody. Is it to kill time? May be, but I am enjoying this. I am enjoying this process of observation. How do I smell? I have a human smell. What does that mean? Where is the person? Oh yes, the smell. I am thinking - my mind is. My legs twitch again. My smell - the Megha smell? My hands go to itch again. What do I smell like? I smell of sweat and some perfume that I wore last night. The itching doesn't stop. My hands dont stop either. It is different part each time.

Where is the person? Is he coming? I want to speak to him. How do I smell? Different from your smell? most definitely. I have a warm smell, a beautiful smell. My sweat smells good to me, it smells warm to me, I dont know what else. My legs twitch again. I am thinking. I scratch. I suddenly think of Shakuntala. Should I write that, rather than this? Well no, I am doing this now. I remove some dirt from my hair - time for a wash. I click my fingers. well, I am sleepy again. Too many numbers i dealt with, last night. I scratch my eyes this time. I shake my legs again and my mind notices. My hair floats in front of my eyes. The position of my legs have changed. I scratch my ears. I stare. Where is the person? I want to talk. God, call him. I dont know why I want to talk, but here I am, waiting. I stare. I have to leave. I shall lie down for a while. I have to go out today. Oh, I have a class today. I need to run. I stare. I dont know what next. I am off to sleep.
Little things make me happy, like a knowing-smile, a phone call, a touch, a sneeze from a baby, the look of a child's fingers, children's giggles, their smell, their babble. They just transfer me to an unknown, yet a known world of innocence, of freedom, of unconditional love.
Their little nose invites me to grab them and kiss it, their touch is soothing, soothes away all pain, I learn to laugh again when i am with them, their sweet pranks, their indulgence all yell to us, telling us that they have come into this world just to be loved and to love all. Taking a child's call is like talking to sounds, the very sounds that reprsent certain alphabets today. We seem to think they are babbling, but they are not. Just that we aren't good enough to make sense of their words. They think, they feel, they understand.

Then why do we as if omnescient beings,try to manouver them into our 'ways of seeing'? They see and that is all they want to see. They have a mind of their own, they dont need any tutoring. First we kill all their intellect and teach them a methodical way of seeing and then after they are grown-up, ask them to think 'out of the box', as if we do! For us thinking different means thinking in accordance with our individual belief systems, that is what we teach them too. How do we think? Do we tell them let your mind feel? Do we tell them monitor your thoughts? We tell them, Think like I do, for I know what is best for you! Why do we know best, just because we were born before them? Well, if that is the case, we are all supposedly mature beings. But our actions speak differently.

When we aren't mature enough how do we tell them what to do? It is all because we can bully them with our sizes for a while. Is that the way of bringing up children? Shouldn't we let them fly on their own and just provide them with wings, if they need? Definitely not like Icarus's wax-wings that burnt him. Let them make their own wings! Just smile with them and may be we shall grow-up then!

Friday, May 27, 2005

It has been a month now. Amazing, how time just flies but I am where I was a month ago. So much has passed yet nothing has changed. One always seeks change but for the better. What is better? Everything is nebulous. You know words, yet you never know them and yet they are so common. What is commonality if experiences are different? Yet you can't deny that there are common experiences, which is why we relate to each other.
It is all a maze that we run around. We seek destinations, we will never find them, there are none. Yet we run because there is nothing else to do. This is the other side of madness. See again, we know what madness means, yet we call it the 'other side of madness' although feel the same: the people we term mad and ourselves.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

can one be ever sure of love? Are there soul-mates? Is the person I am with, my soul-mate? Whenever I meet you i come up with a new set of questions, I dont know of that is for my good, but it happens. Why marry and lose out on all those people who make a difference to your life? Marriage is like a prison where you enter without any external force. But why do we all enter it? yes, nobody wants to be alone, definitely nobody wants to accept the fact that we all are alone. Therefore we get into this marital rut where you not only have to understand things yourself but also explain your way of seeing it. Then you have to stand up for your thought if s/he does not agree with it. Why do you have to prove your thoughts to anyone? They are yours and are personal, you don't disclose it because you want people to agree with you, you just do because you are habituated to disclosing your thoughts.

To top it all, you love different people at different points in time. can you marry all of them? you need them all.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

I don't know why i am writing today, may be because you mean a lot like my grandpa. I love you thatha. He is not with me in body anymore but lives in our minds, in our hearts., he is immortal, like Virginia Woolf 's Mrs Ramsay in To The Lighthouse. Great people live, so do others, but great people impart pleasant memories. I didn't want to see my grandpa breath his last, so i didn't. I am happy I could stay awake with him through those nights. I realised how much I could love a human being as I never felt like i was cleaning his shit, it felt like I was serving him. It is Hanuman Jayanti today and my grandpa has gone to my 'Ishta' Devtaa,. My grandpa is a great devotee like Hanuman, I think that's why God took him today. I Love God like I love my grandpa. My aunt refused to come. I think all his children have been really blessed to have him as their father and i am most blessed as in spite of not being born to my grandparents, I still got their love. They loved me, they love me more than their children.

I dont know whether I should laugh or cry, he was suffering, this would rid him of his suffering. But I am afraid I can't speak to him in body anymore, but I hear his voice. May be this is what is communication. I will miss seeing him, but he is alive and is with me, like he always was and he will be. HE is the best, he is my father, my God, my friend, my confidante, my mentor, my love. He is the greatest human being who can look beyond himself and understand others for what they are. Of course, one doesn't expect him to step completely out of this patriarchal mindset but he has transcended it all. HE is 90 years old and he can accept any deviation in norms of marriage, religion, sex, inspite of being a priest. He is an icon that one should look up to. He knows I love him a lot. I could see my grandmom smiling, they are finally together after almost 9 years. Yes, they were together even in these 9 years in spirit, but now they belong to the same world. My grandmom is there for me... I love them both. Haven't experienced this kind of love before, haven't experienced their kind of story telling, their kind of hands, their kind of feel, their kind of love....

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The question is what makes good literature? A lot of people might find Sidney Sheldon, Archer or Stephen king comprehensible as compared to Joyce, Woolf or even Shakespeare, but why then do we call the latter good literature and not the former? This applies to all art forms like Indian classical dance, music and so on. The ubiquitous nature of art makes it accessible to all but its intensity or depth draws only a specific audience. The fact that art is ubiquitous makes people feel that all can assimilate it, but when it immerses itself in a philosophical quest, which it usually does, it distances its audiences. The fact that it seems accessible to all leads to its corruption, corruption by so-called popular forms. A lot of the above questions will be answered if one considers art as a discipline like science or mathematics and as accessible to only those who study it. For the rest it will remain entertainment and therefore will be drawn only to what we call pop culture. It is essential now to look into the details of this discipline and also the reason for emergence of such questions when it concerns field of humanities, art in specific and not when it concerns the field of science or technology.

It is not possible for a student with a graduation degree in the field of humanities to pursue further degrees in science but the converse of it is valid. This reveals the treatment meted to humanities as a discipline. Further people are dissuaded from pursuing humanities due to a lack of incentives from the Government. A closer look at the Indian education system reveals that the number of exams available to an enthusiast in humanities is nil when compared with the umptene opportunities available to an enthusiast in science in the form of BTS and MTS exams (w.r.t Maharashtra) and olympiads. When it has been thrusted upon the society that pursuing humanities means leading an inane life, there will be an obvious decline in true enthusiasts pursuing the field of humanities due to societal biases. This also leads to a lot of people taking humanities for granted and not ascribing it with the fact that it is in fact a discipline all by itself.

With this as the reference point one delves deeper into the contamination of art and the reason for the emergence of questions regarding its existence. As art (literature, dance etc.) seems like a hobby than a discipline, it is considered to be inferior to pursuing a career in science or technology. Therefore it ends up as a side-kick than a main actor, a position that it definitely does not deserve. One can therefore conclude that art is a discipline and not a hobby, it involves an in-depth study of History, Psychology, Sociology and knowledge of advancement in science and technology and its effect on humankind. A student of art, who studies art therefore comes with an interest in all these disciplines but a narrow view like that of the sciences is definitely not suitable for its study.

It is unfortunate that people who systematise education refuse to see its significance and therefore do not allot any means to propel its application in terms of employment other than in the field of education. It is therefore unfair to expect laypersons to understand this discipline or even admit them to pursue it without a relevant background. This will only lead to the dumbing down of its status as a discipline, and make it more of a path that accomodates all. One has to conclude that the reason for these questions is a result of the treatment of art by society or by governements in power and their inability to acknowledge it as a discipline.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

It has been 2 days now, have gone through a bit in these two days. Emotions never leave you in peace. Past loves, past hatreds, memories... they just keep coming back. 'Rememory'- that's what Toni Morrison calls it, not that mine ever can reach the nadir that a collective community has, but it is unsettling. I have just kept running after it, kept it in my hold, my fault. I don't know how to let go. But you know what, they have formed me, my memories - good and bad ones. They surely create longing and put me in bouts of sadness but they are there. They are the reason i feel. They just don't go, i think they have gone, but they come back. They haunt me and i question my present. My present meets the past and determines my future- is that how it is?

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Today's HOLI... Holi Hey! Happy Holi!
It really makes me happy. Didn't play this time. I m missing my friends. This festival is filled with so much fun and frolic, it is so full of life. Completely different from the rest of the festivals. Being in Mumbai, this is the only festival that doesn't seem to have any religious roots anymore, although in reality it does. It feels like it enables one to break free. One ends up looking like a ghost ( i.e. if ghosts look like that) at the end of it. It gives me a feeling of breaking free.. free of all inhibitions, 'cos colours don't restrict. It is beautiful to watch others laugh aloud and hear them shout with joy. That's a rare moment.

Friday, March 25, 2005

The noose tightens around my neck.
I observed it now. It has been there for almost two decades now.
I wasn't blind then, but I just couldn't see.
I didn't see, I thought I saw.

Now the noose pulls me and takes me wherever it goes.
I resist, but the noose is really tight, it won't let go.
It going to hang me someday
Is there an escape? I cry, I moan, nobody listens.

There is nobody, they have their necks to be freed.
The noose grows tight, tighter, I pull it apart, I fight.
They have nooses around them, they suffer. Yet
they bind me. They won't listen. They don't know strangulation.

They laugh, they smile, they scream, they die. With nooses.
It kills them, but they know no other way of dying, or living.
They are born to kill, to strangulate, to tie nooses and drag
they drag me like cattle. They pretend to listen. They say they know.

But they don't feel it, feel me, feel what I feel.
They hold me back, 'cos they, they couldn't break free.
They killed everyone who did.
I am doomed to live, but i can change my death.
The ropes are thick together, but they will be tired,
I shall tire them, resist. I shall die with dignity.
How is that story? It is incomplete. May be you can complete it for me.
Doesn't being in love mean accepting people as they are, respecting each other and being willing to listen? None of this existed, Rati realises as she thinks about it. But she never thought it was love, it was something strange, even when it was happening. She felt he was a friend. Was she attracted to men holding positions? May be, she is attracted to anyone in position. She tends to idolise them. Hmmm, that's her fault. He didn't have such a great position either, then what was it? It is killing her now that she knows she made a mistake.

She called them both when she went to visit their family-god. She felt more at ease talking to her friend she had known for at least six years now. But he seemed to do everything right, he kept calling, where as her friend didn't. She called him. Her mother insisted that she was in love with him and that's how love feels. But she always felt there was something missing. May be her mother was right. He said that she should discontinue talking to her best friend, but he continued talking to his ex-girl friend. She didn't mind that, but she minded him trying to control her. He knew her only for two months and her best friend for six years. Why did she then even think of parting ways with her best friend whom she thought she loved? She doubted that relationship for something she knew was ephemeral. Rati just can't stop wondering about it.
She wishes that part of her life had never occured. She kept telling him that he doesn't know her, but continued to go with the flow. Too many things have happened. Thank God, he is gone. He stuck to her like a bone in her throat. She too is to be blamed, she knows that. But she can't figure why it happened. She kept introspecting but then everything seemed right, her mother too supported it. Was she carried away by her mother's thoughts? But what happened to her's then? She is not able to forgive herself for this.
Rati sits staring at her watch, time has passed. What is she waiting for? He left an hour ago? may be two hours or three, doesn't matter. She has been sitting right there, wondering why it happened. May be she was drawn to him but it feels different. It isn't anything close to what she knows about it. What do they want from each other? She knows she hates anyone commenting on her appearance, her style, her clothes. She is what she is, then why didn't she react to anything he said? It felt so superficial, she always knew it was ephemeral. She kept saying, this is not going to last. Then what happened? She hates herself now, now that it is over, now that she has put an end to it.

He said, " The protagonist of the magician story cannot be a woman, because it is impossible to show that scar on a woman's chest! And women can't revenge, it is more believable to see a man there." Rati vehemently opposed, "Of course not, Women do revenge. Women feel everything that men do and it is definitely believable to see a female protagonist there. You have no authority to speak for all women." He stared. He then switched to discussing their colleagues, music and so on. Rati followed, she never kept anything in her mind. She knew what she wanted and that's all that mattered. They talked, they sang. She said she wanted to learn Carnatic music, he asked to learn Hindustani, because he hated Carnatic. It seemed to lack flow, for him. To Rati it didn't matter, she said when she finds a Hindustani guru she would learn that too. She likes all forms of Indian classical music.

They met again, they talked. Touch felt straight out of Keats's 'Ode to the Grecian Urn'. But now it seems farcical. It now feels like it was a dream, a bad one. It seems like life's way of playing games. How come she couldn't see through him? It has never happened. All her friends are well-chosen. She would keep distance at the slightest hint of affectation or lack of clarity of direction. She invested emotions on very few people. It is not that she invested emotions here, it hardly mattered in this case, but it is just that she got carried away. She kept telling him and herself that it wouldn't last, because something was lacking. She still doesn't know what it is. She doesn't even cherish the thought of having known him. Why do we just let go of our guard? Her fault was that she believed people very easily. She never wanted to distrust anyone.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

I am extremely bored today. There is some sense of stagnation but there is some movement. Have been trying to study 'To The Lighthouse'. Have slept a lot in the process, exercised and what not, have done a lot except analysing the text. Why does one need to defie characters by symbols? Aren't people already complicated that you complicate them further? Never mind, I shall read Woolf's book again and again and again!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Nobody wrote back, I am waiting. When you realise people aren't to be taken for granted, by then it is too late. That's why nobody wrote back. They don't feel the same anymore, that hurts. You still feel the same, even more. Then why? Why don't they write, I continue to wait. There is nobody for you. Life goes on, alone.
Each morning I wake up and stare
At the walls, at my hands, they are still the same
the way I left them last night.
If I change, they will change.

My family is just the same
I just never saw that before. They all talk the
same tongue. Do all have pink tongues?
Some are black, I am sure. They suck my life,
And I their's. It seems If I change, so will they.

My lover has the same eyes, same voice, same touch
He is gender-aware, he won't say so. That won't change.
The same flair, same confidence, different topics.
We are parasites on each other.
He won't change, nor will I.

Molecules change, atoms change, mass changes
But the essence doesn't seem to change
Essence sucks life out of you, slow-murderer,
It kills me everyday.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

My definition of TV Industry today:
"The most unorganised sector that thrives on exploitation and mediocrity. Creativity here is the process of remanufacturing products, a delusion of the human minds.
The Somnambulist

Alone I walk into a deserted land.
I search for something, I do not know how it looks,
is it, It or Is it a He or She? Can I see it?
Or should I feel it?

I feel something in the air, I seek water
there is only sand, but no, it was mud just minutes ago.
I still feel something, ignoring the mud I proceed
trees, are they shoots or trees, I still do not know.

Is there an escape? Trees disappear, so does the land.
I run, run, run, but where to? The air carries me
or do I run?
I disappear, can they see me? They pass me unnoticed
I am alone again, but no, I still want to be with them.
Do I?