Monday, December 23, 2013

The Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corasanti

Title: The Almond Tree
Author : Michelle Cohen Corasanti 

Publisher : Fingerprint Publishing (Prakash Book)
Genre : Historical Fiction
ISBN : 9788172344870 
Number of Pages : 352


It is one of the rarest of rare stories that tell you of the triumph of good over evil. Not many stories I have read look into very personal accounts of the protagonist,this being an exception. This was too true to be a fiction!
The story takes us to the mid nineteen fifty and talks of Ahmed and his family and their travails in a war hit Palestine.
The story begins with the protagonist's little sister being torn apart by a landmine. What is heart wrenching is they can't even give her a respectable burial that very night owing to the hostility imposed by the curfew.
The heart rending moments from the story make you think twice about how power and hatred can shred this beautiful world into shambles.
The brutal death of his sisters, the holding of Sara's body by his only living sister and mother to keep the maggots at bay, the blowing up of their house charring it to a rubble, confiscation of their property by the Israelites and their life in the tent, their job at the construction site and the slaughterhouse, the inhuman sighting at the detention centre, the disrespectful barbarism of the Israeli officials towards Ahmed and Abbas when they go to meet their father, Abbas and his accident and the untimely death of Nora are agonizing moments that made my heart cringe.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Why I support LGBT rights (Part 2)

Meeting and knowing Rohan made me realize that love doesn't always have to be heterosexual and a family doesn't always need to have a husband, wife and biological kids. A family of course can have parents of the same sex and children not born of the germs of the husband and wife.
Having met Rohan told me of 'alternative' families that the society always had but wasn't willing to talk of.

Sreelakshmi was the first transgender I had known in person at a Gender Equality meet I had attended in the city organized by a publisher. The only other times that I had known them were at a 'badhai' function of a male child or at the city red lights begging. Everytime I ever came across a transgender I used to think that they would be curseful if I don't give them what they ask for,always making sure to walk away or hand out the money they were soliciting. To having been a beggar and then a prostitute her story ate my heart out. It takes careless courage to talk of a past that was a malady of misery. She had even authored her biography which I couldn't buy then for a poetry collection had been in my mind since a long time. I happened to partake pleasentries with her during lunch and what startled me the most were her intelligent discourses on gender equality. She stressed on why the movement of gender equality should be a collective calling for both the LGBT community and women. You have to be a gender equality believer with substantial sensibility to be talking like that.
She also expressed her desire to adopt a child along with her partner of those times. I have only always been hopeful of many orphans getting a family and home when I meet people like Rohan and Sreelakshmi.


Friday, December 13, 2013

Date

'Google' will draw you a map to my place
as you would hold your phone in your palm
like a magnetic compass,
the red arrow turning its neck
left and right like a kathakali dancer, and then
straight on its nose
as you ring the bell.

I would brake my swiftly
speeding bones to not
plunge into your arms
which I believe
would be spread in
the "Our Father" position
to catch me lest I fall.


When we sit together to read
a book, the afternoon
would write stories of salacious silence,
some we will read
on each other's lips.


A kiss will be the only language
salient against sound

else we can watch a movie
with women in saris
swaying to the pontiffs of patriarchy
then when we get talking
I'll tell you about how crammed
the coaches are
when the hissing metal-head
ferries me home every evening.



Thursday, December 12, 2013

Why I support LGBT rights (Part 1)

Until a few years ago I really didn't know what LGBT meant. Yes I knew that gays and lesbians existed and they are the people who have a sexual preference for those from the same sex, but their existence made me wonder, what was so natural and socially unacceptable about them. For once I wondered why did me or anyone like me, create a hullabaloo about what they wanted to do inside the four walls of their bedroom. Back then the idea of a woman making love to a woman, or a man doing the same was the wierdest unreality I didn't want to come to terms with. I always thought that gays and lesbians were only into same sex relationships for pleasure while they understood nothing about love.
Until I gave a name to my stand for my own rights, which popularly is called feminism, gay-ism or lesbian-ism was something towards which I had an apolitical approach. I thought it was better to seal my lips about same sex relationships which didn't affect my life directly or indirectly, for I had no gay or lesbian friends and no one in the family who practiced homosexuality. Then I met Rohan De'Cruz (name changed). A dashingly handsome guy who was the first of my friends at the Christmas carol group I used to sing for. One look at the man and I bet every woman, every woman who appreciates the beauty in a man would turn a second time to look at him. Rohan was this warm, sweet guy who I thought could be taken home to introduce to mom. The friendship between me and Rohan grew stronger when one day he decided to confide in me. All the single women in our carol group dolled it up everyday, in the vain hope of getting into his good books. For the strangest reason this guy always blessed me, the plain Jane of the group with all the attention. And that made many women go green. I was even told that the more jealous ones had even planned something evil to impair my voice, so that they could get rid of me and take turns to thrill him with their charms.

It was 11th December, exactly two weeks before Christmas. After the practice sessions, we were packing our bags to leave. While me and another friend were swaying with the higher and lower tones in the chorus of a song, a beleaguered Rohan pulled me out of the room and asked me to get into his car. I sensed that something was amiss. His face was pale, washed with tears and he was stuttering to breathe. He drove me towards the South avenue area which is more or less deserted after the peak office hours, in the winters. He stopped the car near an uninhabited corner of the road.
By now, my heart was in my mouth and I regretfully cursed myself for risking my safety while deciding to be out with a guy whom I had barely known for a few months. I didn't know what had gone wrong? I kept asking him about the cause of his worry but he chose to stay silent until we reached that deserted corner of the road.

''I lost my partner in a road accident.'' he yelled.
I tried to dig into his words trying to understand the meaning of the word 'partner'.
''What do you mean by partner?''
I inquired in dismay.
And his reply sent shock waves across my nerves, a spine chilling confession that changed the dynamics of my feelings towards him.
He confessed to being a gay and whimpered like a baby while telling me about how his partner had died in a car crash, a few hours ago, and why he can't make it to his funeral since his family didn't want him to lead the life of a gay guy.
I didn't know what to make of it. Did I have to mourn the death of love that will never be born between us or should I lend my shoulder to a great friend who had been supportive in times of trouble.
There was no love between us and there will never be a future for us. I decided to be the 'friend in need'.
That night, it was for the first time that I had known that gay love was not just sexual. One has to know a homosexual person very closely to understand the finer elements of the love for their partner.
Rohan found love in Jason again and the two have been going strong since three years. They would get married soon and adopt a son. That is what they want from life and that is what most gay and lesbian couples hope to get from life.




Rohan was the first of homosexuals I was ever meeting in my life. And since then our friendship has grown through the thick and thin.
Rohan's mom wanted him to be a 'closet gay'. She wanted to force him into a heterosexual marriage and procreation. I was one of the many 'good' girls who had caught her attention. But Rohan decided to clear the air about his sexuality and not ruin a poor girl's life. His decision to come out of the closet and stick to his ground makes him one of the most wonderful men I have ever known.

Through Rohan, I have known a lot of gay men and lesbian women who cow down to hypocritical calling of the society and marry. Some gays marry lesbians and vice versa while the others marry heterosexuals from their own caste and creed, falling to the tall promises of their families that never want them to come out of their closets. Many have kids that they never wanted to make, due to this fiasco of falsehood and live and die to please the moral mentors of the society.

The SC court ruling that happened in the morning made me think of Rohan suddenly.  I wonder which era we live in?  While martial rape is "legal" and the punishment in that case is negligible, sex between two consenting adults, well over the age of 18 and in the concealed corners of their bedroom is a "criminal offence" in the largest democracy of the world. The democracy that claims for equal rights for its people can't stand for the privileges of a section of the society that is blatantly getting discriminated against, for their choice of sexuality and is often abusively exploited. 

Section 377, Indian Penal Code, 1860 (hereinafter ‘IPC’) was enacted by the British colonial regime to criminalise ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’. It was rooted in the Judeo-Christian religious morality that abhorred non-procreative sex.
You can read more about it here.

(To be continued)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Thoughts of a Apolitical Nota Believer

This assembly election saw us caught between two constituencies. Since we had shifted only two months back, our names weren't included in the voters list of the constituency we had shifted to. And when we made queries about it, they told us that maybe by the time the country goes for the general elections in may or june we will get our right to vote.
By the way, it is not just us but many like us, whose names were missing from the voters list. I saw people creating a choral chaos outside polling booths while watching the morning news and most of them were residents in their constituency since many years. It is appalling that the election commission doesn't mind its business in the way it should. While a few of my brother's friends excitedly sang in chorus for Kejriwal's AAP many others believed in the power of the palm. Later while watching Arnab Goswami blare with the exit poll results, I realized that the broom had indeed swept the mango man off his feet. AC Nielsen and C voter predicts 16-18 seats for AAP and if Kejriwal is in no mood to join hands with the single largest party then a second round of voting might just be around the corner.
Kejriwal if we have to believe in the words in his mouth, is in no mood to barter a business with either the Cong or Bjp. And with the exit polls predicting two to four seats for the other regional parties fighting it out the reality is grim.

For an apolitical voter like me neither the Bjp nor the Congress holds promise, even a debutante AAP has not managed to win my favour. Don't know if either of these parties can arrest the inflation and make the streets safer for women, politics after all is a dirty ditch that rots of corruption.
And with Kejriwal not having done justice to the poor old man Anna Hazare, having let him disappear without crediting him for having brought him into the spotlight, if all the media reports are to be believed I do not know if the broom wielders are an alternative option we can place our trust in.
Had we being given a vote this time, my call would have been the Nota.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

#3

You left memories
Like bread crumbs
on a path,
That would never lead
Me to you.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Lessons I brought back from the Monastery

Sometimes the tunnel is so long and dark, that you slowly begin to enjoy the darkness and stop worrying about the light promised in the end. It can well be called as numbing boredom when pain and fear don't pinch and joy is a fable that only speaks through other's stories.
Of late, was tired of the confounding conundrum of emotions that often used to rig through my soul. My five senses worked like an army but every win or loss in life wasn't a celebration or grievance, it was just another moment in passing. Mom had attended the residential retreat at the monastery a fortnight ago that inspired me to pack my bags. More so walking in the dark with closed eyes wasn't an adventure I was enjoying.
I took a call on thursday and reached the monastery with a red bag stuffed with clothes and a soul stifled with silence. This sound of silence was deafening that had to be put to rest.
We were asked to stay away from the vagaries of the world. Phones were strictly banished which meant that for the next four days 'the facebook wall' won't be the writing I would be forced to read. Sometimes it seems that spending time on facebook fools me into believing that I too have a social life. Although most of the very few people I could befriend happened because I was eager to crawl across the wobbly web of social networking, being honestly vocal. And that means not using social networking was closing the box of my mind from which thoughts popped out like the bubbles in a bath tub, always ready to burst.
I decided to find answers in the spirit that people had given names and atheists had refuted. A few of the lessons I bought back from the monastery shall stay with me until the last nail on my coffin is not hammered. I am amused that it took me eons to realize that this was the person I had always wanted to be.

So here goes that list I had scribbled on a sheet of paper on the metro back home.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

24th October 2013

On days like these I feel boorishly burdened in this business of womanhood. So here goes the tale. Today was the third day that our maid gave us a cold shoulder. Having done the dishes for two days, had been grinding and a third day for a row was never in anticipation. To thank the male members of the family, who have been roped in for the outdoor responsibilities of the house, like fetching milk and groceries, the rut of the dirtier duties befalls on me. Laundry and cooking are practices that do not soil your hands much, but when it comes to doing the dishes all hell breaks loose.
Since all the members in my family are meat eaters, and that too crazed compulsive ones on days when fish curry or roasted meat is served, the sight of a plate that counted its calories is not so pleasing. Fish flints that look like fossils to egg shells broken and discarded into twos to the beefy bones of some animal dead and consumed by now can be the greatest, greatest punishment ever for a staunch vegetarian. But then in my case, there are not much choices left at my will. I got to do the dishes, when the maid goes absconding in the alibi, of having fallen ill. It seems to be one of the many conditions of the the "peaceful co-existence pact" that I signed with other members of the family. In my absence, it becomes mom's call of duty, which I avoid giving her. For most of the times she is fatigued and the guillotine of guilt stabs me so badly, that I am left with no options to pull myself out.
Today was one such day when I thought that I was on an excavation exercise in an old civilization which had gorged on its animals. Having held my breath as if out on an underwater mission, I did the dishes, with all the dead tissues from yesterday's dinner and today's lunch molesting my patience. The silent prayer that went out was for a brighter day tomorrow. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

#2

But I shall miss me too
More than I miss you
will miss what you made of me
I shall miss the first song
that I sang for you
im a careless act of charity
the first gift I shall miss
that I gave away, for clutter was choking my cupboard
The first poem I wrote with a word that meant 'hope'
will miss that evening my hard heart
broke like biscuit crumbs
and I had tea with sugar.
If only I knew you would
feed my heart to dogs
and walk away
tossing the yesterday
like a garbage pile
that stinks of sorrow
I would have never got used
to the taste of sugar
Only if I knew.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Note for House no.519

Today will be the last day in this house. House no. 519 that we stepped into, two and half years ago. Although it takes a lot of time for me to accept a house as my home, this time around it happened with a drop of a hat.
The nostalgia is picking my pieces and strewing them all over like "goodbye" notes I want to leave for this space I fell in love with, without second thoughts. 


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Rapes in India--A Social Evil or a Cultural Endemic?

Rape is not just an epidemic but a culture in a country like India. When a mishap like a rape happens, this school of thought bares it claws. From the laymen to defence lawyers to the police, no one spares a thought for a woman, with whom a very personal crime has happened. No one tries to help her or bring the culprits to book, except casting aspersions on her.

The rape of a 23 years old woman on December 16 th shook the country with a thunderbolt attracting even the international media’s attention. The books of law called it the "rarest of rare" cases because the act was inhuman and beastly that ultimately led to the death of the victim. While the juvenile victim who was four months short of becoming a major, was spared the gallows, the other three men got capital punishment. One of the culprits had already committed suicide soon after the incident, which again was deemed as a murder to cover up the case which had shaken the prospects of the ruling party. Since this rape was an exception which led to the death of the victim, the punishment given was the highest but that strengthened the notion that to bring a rapist to the gallows one has to be raped in the most brutal of circumstances. If not you might never ever get justice, leave alone justice perhaps your case might never even get heard. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A.P.J Abdul Kalam:My Journey

Title: My Journey- Transforming Dreams into Actions
Author : A.P.J Abdul Kalam
Publisher : Rupa Publications
Genre : Non-fiction
ISBN : 9788129124913
Number of Pages: 146
Price : Rs. 195






Our Eleventh President can never get it wrong, it seems. From having designed missiles, to having devised strategic development plans for the country to having written books that share honest anecdotes from his life, he has done everything with excellence and elan. I particularly liked the book for his accounts of the scientific life and the challenges that didn't cow him down. How each failure only shaped his sight and made him a better human. His humility and spiritual connect to the Almighty God doesn't make you wonder, why he always gets it right. 


The first story My Father's Morning Walk talks of his father Jainulabdeen and his connect with nature and divinity. His calmness and composure made him a favourite person in the small town of Rameshwaram where people always used to turn upto him with their woes and wails. His spirituality was a healer to people battered by loneliness and worries and he had answers to souls scavenged by sorrows. 

The Boat inspires us to not force our ambitions and plans on paper and leave them in the care of the greater force called nature which has already charted a path for us. It communicates to us that surviving is gathering those pieces and moving on, just like his father did everytime a natural disaster failed him and his business.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Dear Racists, I am not a Madrasi and nor is any South Indian!

Today was an amazing day, until something uncanny happened! We happened to go out for lunch after many Fridays. Since mom and Roger are in Kerala and I am almost done with clogging up my bags with clothes and books, this was small hope in the offing. For it seems, after hopping homes it would be long before I could catch up on this kind of Friday fun. We first went to buy books, two of us who read and the other three went bowling in the meanwhile. I picked a few more short story collections that won't read like cliche. Seemingly this reading ritual will help me improvise on my writing skills, so will it help a few more story ideas to take root in mind. What scripted the destiny of this day was the behavior and mannerisms of my batch mates that left me wide eyed.
After our shopping spree, both of us ladies, decided to book the tickets for the men in the group. While the movie of choice was something I had seen two weeks ago, the experience didn't ring in my head at all except for John Abraham of course. While that reminds me of the fact that I am yet to review that movie "Madras Cafe" and give it a four star rating for sure. I went over to see a beefy John Abraham playing with fire and ice, any number of times can I sit in the depths of darkness of a movie hall, to see that gorgeous Malayali. While I sat through the meaty tales of the movie, I decided to surprise the other people by taking them for a typical South Indian lunch. For not everyday, do these people mostly from the plains of Northern India get to feed on South Indian cuisine. After the movie, I gave them an intimation of my ideas. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Lessons in Humility from a 22 year old Cancer Patient

From the times I've started visiting the monastery I am seeing a change in me. The anger has gone for a toss so has that ear to ear smile come back. I am getting to loving myself more, for no rhyme or reason. The brickbats against my brown skin colour or ugly face or failures or single status don't catchy my fancy anymore. I am learning both to forgive as well forget. Sometimes when none of these virtues weigh in worth I try staying aloof. Until last year all this never had a place in my life. My blood boiled at anything that others said against me and to be honest I've lost count of the number of times I've put behind friendships to stay sane. And then one day lightening struck me, it seems. I decided to be an accomplice to mom's monthly pilgrimage to the monastery for a midnight mass. Initially I fell on deaf ears when mom instructed me to go over with her. After the first two visits, I started playing the hooky. It wasn't holding my attention for I was ignorant towards the bliss I would taste, in a future unseen. Then slowly I became prayerful and patient. Not that any kind of propaganda that religion wanted to play on me for being a woman was finding favour. I was becoming a better human by the day, and it was an observation that I couldn't give a miss. Mom attributed it to more of meditation and lately that thought started rubbing off on me. I promised to myself to be a visitor to the monastery for the first Saturday midnight mass, from thence. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

2nd September 2013

I wished to watch Madras Cafe today and don't regret a bit in having made that decision. In an era, when popular actors are raking in the moolah by tom-fooling an audience that is finding absurd antics entertaining and worth a see, this actor went one step ahead and tried to show us the mirror by making this film. His performance spells finesse and I admire him for having got into the skin of the character. He looks dashing in the flashback as an army officer who doubles up to be an intelligence agent. While in the second half his shabby beard and drooping eyes make him look every bit the alcoholic he has tried to portray.  I could finally forgive John Abraham for having committed a folly in the past by appearing in a popular men's fairness cream advertisement and for being a bigoted sexist in a personal interview.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

1st September 2013

It is unlikely that I roam around on a Sunday. With me attending most Sunday masses at the Sacred Heart cathedral, I left my parental church for seeable reasons that I couldn't turn a blind eye to. After the mass I love a quiet Sunday breakfast, all by myself. A plate full of brown bread sandwiches and chocolate cakes makes for the ideal Sunday breakfast. Do not know if solitude has adopted me as its only baby or do I love to watch strangers more often than earlier, to strike upon story ideas.                                                                                          
Today was on such amusing Sunday. After the mass I headed straight for the DLF place, Saket. With not many people sticking around malls on a Sunday morning it was indeed quiet and very very lazy. For that matter, I needed some time for myself. When I can sit by the edge of a table and think what needs to be done to nay say an old friend. It never did occur to me that some day, someone will like me for being rebellious. You know in India all such girls are likely to be labelled as "sexually promiscuous"  or "arrogant" or with some such word that defines a girl that is anything but not dutifully obedient. We Indians girls were taught to tie our tongues and jail them behind our teeth. Opinions need to be kept to ourselves and if they are ever expressed, may God help us. With such ancient culture staying fossilized in every speck of dust in this piece of the planet, women like me are the rarest of rare species whose loose tongues can land us in trouble. It has happened many times on earlier occasions having driven away guys interested in me miles apart, but this time around it was a surprise in store. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Defining Spiritual Atheism

I only knew of Danny Boyle as a director who made the movie The Slumdog Millionaire. Until recently curiosity rang a bell in my head and I decided to read more about this guy. I hopped on to his profile from the Slumdog Millionaire's wiki link. Of all his achievements and beliefs, what caught my attention was a term that very much sounded like an oxymoron to me. It was "Spiritual atheist". How can a person be an atheist and believe in the sacred supreme being at the same time? Until I googled to find more. Wikipedia defines a spiritual atheist as a person who self-identifies a life stance of spirituality that rejects traditional organized religion as the sole or most valuable means of furthering spiritual growth.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Do Sisters really need an yearly guarantee of protection on Rakhi?

While channel surfing a few day ago, I happened to see the new Idea advertisement where in a girl on a two wheeler stops at a check post and asks for directions. A traffic policeman guides her with a waver of his hands and in a heavy Jat accent, whereby she takes note that the wrist of this cop is bare on the occasion of Rakhi. She questions him as to why is a Rakhi on his wrist missing to which he replies that he is on duty and couldn't go and meet his sister.She in turn dictates her terms and ties a rakhi around his wrist. In a moment of emotional outpouring he realizes that he has nothing to give to her as a gift and in turn pesters her to save his number for any kind of help in the future. Then the Idea jingle plays in the background and it all comes to a happy ending.
Now for all those who do not know what this festival Rakhi is all about, Wikipedia goes on to say that it is a Hindu festival where in the central ceremony involves the tying of a rakhi (sacred thread) by a sister on her brother's wrist. This symbolizes the sister's love and prayers for her brother's well-being, and the brother's lifelong vow to protect her. The festival is primarily celebrated in the northern parts of India, and often I wonder what about South Indians and the brothers and sisters in the other parts of the world? Since they don't commemorate this festival, are the women out there always at risk and how do their brothers protect them if a mishap happens, in the absence of a rakhi? For that matter, do women who always need to be protected as sisters, wives, mothers and girl friends?  You can read more about the festival here

Facts about Rakshabandhan

Yama, the lord of death, was blessed with eternity as his sister Yamuna tied up a Rakhi thread on his wrist. Since that time the festival of Raksha Bandhan is associated with tying of Rakhi thread.
Lord Krishna was left with a bleeding finger, after Shishupal's death. To stop bleeding, Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas, tore a strip of silk off her sari and tied it around Krishna's wrist. Touched by her concern, Krishna declared that he would protect her and promised to repay the debt manifold, and spent the next 25 years of his life doing just that.
Queen Karmavati of Chittor had sent a Rakhi to Humayun to protect her from Bahadur Shah. Humayun, then engaged in an expedition against Bengal, turned back to carry out his sacred brotherly duty and tried to protect her but was too late. Chittor had already fallen and the Rani had immolated herself in the Rajput custom of Jauhar.
Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel laureate poet used the occasion of the Raksha Bandhan as a community festival and gave a call to tie a rakhi amongst all Hindus and Muslims so as to maintain peace and harmony between them and spread the nationalist spirit among people from different ethnic backgrounds.

These are the fictional stories that support the observance of this festival but are there any written historical manuscripts to ratify this practice. What happened thousands of years ago cannot be held true for today's times. Only if all this was on paper in the holy books of Hindus or in the old manuscripts, this practice could have perhaps become more justified. For that matter any festival that occurs on the calendar every year, much like common cold makes me wonder, are these blind practices or do these rituals really hold meaning?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

16 th August 2013

Yesterday was a bad day for Delhites.  Along with the incessant rains and bottleneck traffic jams, the blue line of the metro stopped working after 11 am! Every passenger keeping their eyes and ears open waited with bated breath for the train to come. Many like me were grinning and bearing it with an itching desire to bang our head against the wall, as every second announcement only embittered the enthusiasm while the train was nowhere to be seen.

And in the midst of this chaos, it was amusing to share a word with random fellow women passengers, since waiting in long queues wasn't a fun filled exercise.

Two of them complained about how women leaders like Sheila Dixit had ruined this country. They went back in history to unearth the fossils of the past and didn't even spare Mrs Indira Gandhi. They were of the opinion that women can't lead from the front and whenever they have, this country has gone to dumps.  
I don't blame them, for Madame G or Sheela aunty are not women with the kind of leadership qualities that anyone on planet earth would want to emulate. They believed in the power of the broom and a certain Kejriwal. Poor women, their eyes were glittering like marbles in the sun, when they were speaking highly of him.
While a fifty something aunty, who got into the connecting metro amidst much pushing and pulling couldn't stay silent for a minute the moment I started cribbing to her, about how a day's rain and VVIP movements can spell havoc in the city. Thereby began her stories, where she yelled at the top of her voice and trumpeted about how her daughter had highhandedly caught a robber a few days ago while puffing in pride about why NRI's still prefer Indian brides and not those brought up on foreign shores! 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Untitled

Those were the best days of my life, when lunch time broke opened to a red box, with sandwiches neatly laid  vertically and horizontally and colored vegetables peeping out of the loaves of bread. I didn't like roti but always asked mom to pack noodles for me. I loved the way I could slurp it into my mouth. She mostly settled on the sandwich which tasted stale on my tongue until some day, those wriggly noodles would appear miraculously like a rabbit from a hat.

Those were the best days of my life when the elaichi flavored Kismi toffee and the orange candy were my favorite delicacies on a day that ended with a stroll with dad and Roger.   

Those were the best days of my life when a girl called G who was ousted by everyone for wearing the shortest skirt in school made friends with me. And we got along like a house on fire. From doting on Dino Morea whom she raved about to holding the fort with me when my other class mates called me "kali" to teaching me to let my hair down. She was the first person to tell me that I was beautiful and being fair wasn't always synonymous to being beautiful.


Those were the best days of my life when my spoken English heavily twisted and tortured by a malayali tongue, didn't bother G and she made every earnest effort to correct the pronunciation. She was my first and only spoken English teacher.

Those were the best days of my life when my younger brother grew as tall as a banyan tree and everyone in school was afraid to stand upto his shoulders. Although his antics always got me into trouble (for being Miss Goody Two shoes who could never ever be wrong) but never did he let any of my guy class mates escape after a round of tattering taunts directed at me. The possessive brother he was, always ready to ward of the devils who teased with a nick name that I will never forget "Touch me not"!

Those were the best days of my life when watching WWE which was then called WWF was an evening exercise we didn't miss out on. Zee Tv then crossed the threshold in India and "Junglee Toofan Tyre puncture", "Banegi Apni baat" and "Hip Hip Hurray" became our favorite shows. Cable tv kept us busy after homework and two hours of play.

Those were the best days of my life, when invitations for birthday parties weren't glittering gold rimmed cards that are now distributed as wedding invitations. There were no formal invitations, just birthday parties which we were expected to attend without fail. They were synonymous to pastries and gifts which were always returned, and never were taken into count. There were no glossy restaurants and coffee shops, only the coziness of homes, the doors of which were always open for friends.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Bhag Milkha Bhag---The Story of the Flying Sikh

This review comes late, but as they say, better late than never. Happened to watch Bhag Milkha Bhag two Saturdays ago. It is very unusual of me to go to a theatre to watch a Bollywood flick, but this time around Farhan Akhtar and a biopic in the offing did the trick. And, I really wanted to catch up on a good movie after having seen English Vinglish on my own at the PVR with only a coke can as a convoy.
The movie talks of Milkha Singh, the Indian athlete, who ran away from his home post partition while bearing witness to his family being butchered (the images of a Pakistani soldier with a black cape riding on a horseback and slaughtering his family reminds the viewer of the same! Also it is repeated too many times which was one of the factors that added to the run time) and how he ends up in a refugee camp becoming a coal thief and a hooligan. To how he fights his inner demons and goes on to become a record holder.


Particularly I would not want to talk of world records since Milkha Singh never had one to his credit and neither a gold at the World championships. These being two of the many flaws that the movie has. The movie is a flashback narrated by Milkha's first coach who goes on to word every minute from his life with dainty detailing. What amused me in the first place was how could another man know so much about Milkha's life without having lived it himself! For example how did he know that Milkha's sister was a martial rape victim? How on earth he could recall every second of that fated mishap without having being there in person? That scene chiseled into my jugular vein, the moans and scary shadows pictured were a larger than life reality . How much more will Indian women suffer in the name of honor and traditions and for how long? These are tough questions, since martial rape isn't a crime in this country called India! 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Groom Price for a Niece

In a few days she will be married. All of 22 and a commerce graduate. She will don the golden white saree and wear the bridal bun, one that has decorously become a habit with Syrian Christian brides. She doesn't know the guy she is going to get married to. I was told she never had a word with him. Just saw him smile at her, while the elders of the family discussed the best bid for the groom price. They asked for a more than five lakhs, and my cousin brother sealed the deal for about two and half lakhs. They say if she had been more educated the prices could have shot up. And deliberately maybe, her father didn't educate her much. Just sent to her to a grad college and did the permutations and combinations.  He couldn't loosen the strings of his purse further so asked her to not study more. Don't know if she understood the implications of not been able to study beyond that and did she ever know of a tomorrow that her father was planning for her.
I only spoke to her once, on my January trip to Kerala. She didn't speak much, except stutter and smile shyly. She kept looking at the dress I was wearing that day, in her land they do not allow girls to wear anything other than sarees and salwar kameezes. In the company of those three children, two of whom are only a few years younger than me, I felt like a fool. A fool haplessly holed in the twelfth century, where girls weren't given the confidence to speak to people they meet for the first time in their life! (Oh yes, that was our very first meeting!)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Orange

My grandfather’s house
bears witness to the river’s anklets
drunk by its song
she entices paddy fields and dusty dribble
an enchantress who doesn’t age and never stoops
unallured by the coughing of an old red bus
red flags are raised
for a plate of food and rusted brass
for every lump in the throat chokes and digs
a grave for another old woman,
oil soaks a school girl’s hair
her red ribbons braided so tight
that she pays salutation
to everyone she meets on the road.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Suicide Note

To the dust dilapidated
under a six inch stiletto
goodbye is giving
a favour for forgiveness
when the neck of the night
wear jasmine as her fragrance.
I count glow worms like stars
trampling to tethers
the arrogant neighbour's cigarette butt
The window pane of the old man's house
broke, strewing silver
on a night bleeding moons.
My hands tremble
to the bruises made by a kitchen knife,
cloaked behind curtains
dancing to the music of a fan
I cling to a door handle not thwarted
by a summer that will strike soon
fighting for my farewell
in tireless thanklessness
when the yellow roses in
a pregnant pot
smile at me in asking
"Who would water us when you go?


Featured in Muse India July August Issue here and in One Title magazine here

Monday, July 8, 2013

Parvati

She fills carcasses of coal
in a casket of copper,
and picks the bulky bully
with ease, scratches the surface
of red, pink and black
to line out lapels
wringing a wrinkle
from a green sari she cannot wear.

She is a bony elfin
to carry those cargo of clothes
clutched in her ailing arms
sometimes, cradling her crop
she never frets or fumes
nor does she lament
for this hand
feeds her misfortune
on a tottery table.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Marriage-Old Testimony

Marriage is a character
you play in a carnival of cliff hangers
you are sought for slavery,
you are the dwarf in the pictures
made to wear spineless stilettos.

Marriage is a question
answers ail to escape from your mouth
with choices that have no chance
you become the woman
behind the successful man
is there anyone telling on you?

Sunday, June 30, 2013

May Rain

On a rainy day once, time stood still
as the leaves clung to brown branches
we wrote poems on each other's lips
and drank from the chalice of our mouths.
In those days I wore purple
they said it will bring luck
Did it? I wonder.
In those days, lies cheated my tongue
writing fables that did not have a Cinderella
while I lost my shoe
In those days wet mud stuck on the soles
left brown trails along the pavement
those footprints don't live there anymore.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Feminist's Love Letter

I have something to tell you today, my love. I don't know you and as I sit back to write this for you I wonder where you will be? What you would be doing at this time? What would be your name? And will you be as boring as me and maybe even brash! A lover of solitude,books and tea! And Plath!
This letter is a wistful confession,one I thought I would never write. I don't know if we have ever met and if yes when? Did we bother to look at each other or were we too callous to pass by without taking note. Don't know if you are my friend or perhaps an acquaintance. Although that gives me cold feet the thought of ever walking into you. Don't know if you will appreciate the extra kilos I wear and my shorter hair that bore the brunt of a scissor when I discovered the first fine line around my left eye. The thought of wearing my age proudly on my sleeves gives me sleepless nights for you might just not like the 'plain Jane' I am. Don't know if you will love me with the fifteen grey hair I have that now gleam through the black mane in a copper brown!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Acts of Everyday Kindness for the Enviornment

The other day someone pulled a joke on me for not having a pet. Keeping an animal at home and tending to its needs is 'animal activism' for some. But the truth is I am allergic to animal fur and an animal anywhere in my vicinity can trigger a sneeze more rapid than the rounds of a machine gun. That's why most of the times when a dog or cat petted at a home I am paying visit to, comes near me I pretend to have a fear for animals and try to shoo it away.
What embarrasses and irritates me more is the fact that these alleged activists who claim to be saviors are the direct reason for the killing of a lot of animals, butchered every year for food and fur. I recently happened to visit KFC, for the very first time and could see people gorging on chicken and other meat products sold there without any apologies. Don't know what kind of an irony is it? Saving four or five animals in your lifetime or maybe a few more by petting them at home and killing hundreds to feed your gastronomic gullibility isn't in anyway a step towards saving the fauna! The same holds true for the incessant cutting and destruction of trees and plants for food and furniture and such nubile necessities. While I turned a plant eater long ago, I knowingly have made sure that I do my bit for the environment everyday. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Another Year passes By (2013)

It was a red-letter year for me. Perhaps the beginning in itself was so momentous that no other firework could have made it more illustrious. One more candle added to that cake and more learning lessons I have to add to this post. Don't know if anyone will bother to take a read, anyone other than me or will this just be another diary entry. After all, even my blog has a new name, for this space now just seems like a diary to me. The pages of which I often flip in times of boredom or on one of those burdensome days when all I want is to close my eyes and melt into the morning mist. Ah! Life! Being a woman is a serious business! One of the most important lessons that came back to me this year.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Business Sutra by Devdutt Pattnaik


Title: Business Sutra: A Very Indian Approach to Management
Author: Devdutt Pattanaik
Publisher: Aleph Books
ISBN: 978-81-923280-7-2
Genre: Non-Fiction, Management, Mythology
Pages: 437





Picking up a book written by an author who calls him the Chief Belief officer was a first timer.

And I was wondering what could a once doctor turned thinker turned an author could offer. Since business in an interesting area of exploration and Vedas and holy books from other religions than what I follow have always kept me hooked, this was a heady concoction that did keep me interested until the end.  Reading the book was like turning the pages of a moral science book, but not that redundant. There were some ideals that didn't support the stories they were trying to talk of, but then most of them were ethics one can follow in real life too. Like the best one in the lot was "If ambition is the force contentment is the counterforce. Enjoying what you have is the key and greed would only dash the ambitions, never drive them.
The other ideals I loved were as follows:

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Sold Out Idea

I have worn tens of hats before having met her. But never in my life did I imagine that the eleventh hat would come with a feather. Alright, I was aware of what the dictionary had to say about an entrepreneur and entrepreneurship, but then as they say to taste how cold the water is, you got to get into it.  In my graduation days, entrepreneurship  development was a compulsory minor subject that we passed as a last minute ritual to garner good grades. Other than the books on entrepreneurship, that I once read as leisurely as Chacha Chaudhary comics, business of any kind was rocket science for me.

Until one day on a cold December night, while dallying around my monday assignments, I got a call. For the first two times, I didn't bother to show any signs of euphoria towards that phone call. Although the third time, something ramified my head and I got up to answer to a vivacious Whitney Houston crooning in chorus.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Sounds of a Morning House

The morning is not a cock's crow
it rings a bell in your head
the alarm is arrogant
it shrieks to make you deaf
as she shivers to teethe a ritual
one that earns her bread and butter
the pots and pans clamor
and the kitchen
turns to a concert hall
water scrubs
like a river to burst soap bubbles
hibernated by a hymn
offered as a token of thanksgiving.

Tanks empty their bellies
through taps, filling the thirst
of empty buckets waiting
to get drowned with dirt
as the maid imitates
the three monkeys of Gandhi.

Oil hisses to lacerate eggs
sold by its shells
on a pan baking
at boiling point
with a tea sip, the crust
of the brown bread breaks
to be chewed like grass
molars bite in vain
a few minutes later
the door closes
with a thump
as the lock copulates
with the key
to seal a house
from the sounds of a home,
ready to sleep again.


First published in the Second issue "Sound" in the Kalyani Magazine.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Behind the Silicon Mask By Eshwar Sundaresan







Title: Behind the Silicon Mask

Author: Eshwar Sundaresan
Publisher : Westland Books
Genre : Fiction
ISBN : 978-93-82618-39-3



The book cover and the title attracted my attention and I expected a roving thriller in store. But as I started reading, tens of characters and places and events were strewn all over the book with none making sense any or which way I tried to skim through the pages. I read and re-read and got lost with most of my enthusiasm dying down with each page. Until about page 175, I felt I was kicking in the muck until finally things started showing up. The events described and the places that initially read like a travelogue to me became a tale after that. Each character in the story then started showing their significance. 


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Boy who Learned to Forgive


He typed hastily into the body of the e-mail, with the subject that read “Uncle Gupta harassed me when I was all of seven.” 
He typed and retyped into the subject line, while his eyes were fixated upon the picture of the lady who had considered cooking for him, her sole ambition in life. She placed the stuffed paranthas on his table and said “Eat them before they get cold and stale.”
He closed the lid of the laptop and went over to the seating area, holding the stuffed brown paranathas his mom had made for him. 
He stared at the tiny scratch on his left forearm. And remembered the kiss she had planted on it, the last time they met. He had forgiven him.



First published in Six Minute Magazine here.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Another Child Bride


The twenty six alphabets
are voiceless vowels
and the table of two
a chart of codes
most like the mantras
she will be coerced to chant,
her dreams were dandified daisies
she had plucked
with the departing dawn
when her doll was
given away in marriage,
a red riding hood
with frills of fallow.

When waken at four
she couldn’t read
through the riddle
that this day
would consummate her
in the holy fire
and she will be confined
in the seven cycles
of mutiny and not matrimony
she never went to school
after that day,
and started wearing a noose spun
of black beads
vermilion was the scarlet sorrow
confined in a chest of confessions,
since then her head stays covered
and tongue prisoned behind
her milk teeth, wisdom in waiting
the first night was a red sea
that would ebb till the time
she becomes a bride again
on the ashes
of her resting pyre.


First published in Copperfield review here

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Spinster Act



She has torn newspaper advertisements
lettered in bold black with
"Brides Wanted" while battering
through the armour of the computer
without asbestos apology.

She has said "no" a thousand times
to women who bottle her in
a "sister in law act"
analytical in her artisty
at homemaking, even when they know
how she doesn't bicker at her ability
to pour the platter
for her pally pathogens.

She has seen baby bumps
breed the bulge, and plummet
in the poise of pride
when 'girl" names she heard
like a list of grocery items
more than boy names.

Her allies have transformed
into women
and mothers of money
while she counts the cliche capers
she wrote as a carol
now being a crime.
the evening sun stalks
those yellow roses in her backyard
with no redressal for remorse
while she anticipates
that the paint in her pen
will repay her in full
one day.


First published in Penwood Review here.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Frock and Hopscotch days

Childhood is the cradle of memories for every human.  So was mine, a cradle of mirthful moments ! Frilled frocks were a fascination and those with pink plaits or polka dots all over them made my heart skip a beat. 

Although when I see my photographs I realize that my parents had not brought me up as a girl, not really the way most Indian girls are brought up. They made me wear shorts with contrasting caps and shoes that always kept the uncle or aunty in the neighbourhood guessing about my sex. Don't know if my parents were fans of  Sherlock Holmes then. A mystery was always thrown upto to every other visitor who came to meet me armed with bags of fruits or cerelac, most of which I tried to boycott with a shriek. Until the aunty from the neighbourhood came sprinting to save my tongue from the bland taste.

While most of my first friends in life, always wore frocks, I have proofs in the charcoal coloured pictures in the albums stacked in my cupboard, and most of us were toothless fairies then. A smirk for the shutterbug was a two toothed or toothless sparkle in most of those pictures, with my partner in crime from those days, Neenu, my first friend.

My parents bought me all kinds of toys, my first ones being the utensils in the kitchen which wasn't brought in my name. They arrested my attention and so did the local vegetable vendor.They say my ambition in life then, was to sell vegetables and make a buck. My dad was my babysitter for the first two years of my life. In the absence of a paid babysitter and my grandparents not buying the thought of taking care of me, he  decided to quit his less paying job when mom got a more respectable government job three months after my arrival. That might be the reason that dad gave me all kinds of toys and games to play with and my grooming was very gender neutral, untouched by inequality. My room was a crib riddled with kitchen set,doctor's set,cars,dolls,and even teddy bears, none mollycoddled to feminine frailty. The visitors to my nest, couldn't really call it a girl child's room, it was a child's room just another child's room full of objects of various shapes,sizes and colours. 
My other activities included racing my walker along the length of the long winding terrace we had, and knock at every neighbour's house. By the time someone in the house would rush to the call I would have reached the end of the balcony! An almost baby Schumacher I was. 

Another interesting fascination was to ride a bike, always had the biker girl's genes it seems. At the age of three when I climbed on to the bulky bike dad's friend had parked in front of our house I happened to suffer from a major fall and my forehead was bruised. Such notorious was that fall that it gave me a furrow on my forehead, one that everyone notices easily when they first happen to meet me. It is like a birthmark, that was given to me after my birth! I thought of preserving it as a childhood memory and haven't attempted surgery to correct that scar ever.


My first period happened at the age of ten. I remember running to mom complaining of blood coming out of the place from where I passed urine.   Mom hurriedly hushed me to another room and without giving any explanations gave me a white cloth to wear. I thought that I will die of a dangerous disease and for the next one month, there wasn't a single day when I didn't cry. Unanticipated was the arrival of my period at the tender age of ten that it took mom about a year to explain me the biology behind menstruation.
Thereby with time I learned to wash my soiled underwear by myself and didn't give it to the laundry maid. Washing machines were expensive then and it was our maid who did the honours of housekeeping for us.

When teenage gave me wings I was never asked to dress down. I wore the smallest shorts unlike my other female friends,  and rode a bicycle in my neighbourhood, otherwise haggled by bad boys. I still remember my time table in those days. I rode my bicycle from 4 to 6 and then played hopscotch for half an hour. Hopscotch always confused me with the large squares and numbers, I never really liked it, although I loved the idea of jumping.On the day my younger brother managed to convince his friends, I used to give hopscotch a miss and played football or cricket with my brother and his friends. Football was all about dribbling and kicking the ball in imitation to the boys and cricket made me a left handed batswoman. I couldn't throw the ball with a hawk eye's perfection and thus,  never became a bowler.

If I were to pen every moment from my my girlhood I am sure that this post won't really end. The transformation was of course a reasoner of why childhood is the best time in any person's life. 

I still raise a howl, but not in celebration for the first bicycle that dad had given to me on my seventh birthday, but for the seventeenth grey hair I have at this age. I think that count is right. I do not ride bicycles anymore, although most of these days I was cribbing to mom about how I should get to doing it again, to tuck my tummy. And she shrieked without an apology and told me that there were no open spaces to tire my legs on the pedal and a twenty something woman riddling along the road would make a hundred heads turn, it wasn't so then when I was seven. 

Yesterday while at the monastery we happened to distribute sweets in celebration of a child's birthday growing up at their orphanage. And I heard a raring request for a coffee candy and not for strawberry molasses and realized that life has indeed been blissful, always having given me more than I ever asked for. It could have been nameless and faceless like it is for an orphan, but it was very kind, kinder than I had anticipated.

Every minute was a merit I have preserved as certificates and trophies from a school that allowed us to play basketball and burn our skin and not faint at the thought of social studies classes that followed. When I see girls in blue pinafores and red ribbons hopping back home in the afternoons, I do miss my frock and hopscotch days terribly. Although they still remain my favourite memory, like that pleasant gust of wind that visits me on evening walks I embark now, instead of going on a ride along the thoughtless terrain of life. 
Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, March 15, 2013

My Lawfully Wedded Husband and other stories by Madhulika Liddle


Title: My Lawfully Wedded Husband and Other Stories
Author:  Madhulika Liddle
Genre : Fiction
Price: Rs. 250
Pages: 225
Publisher:  Westland Limited (2012)






I have a limited attention span and that might be one of the reasons that I absolutely dote on a collection of short stories. The cover was a captivating one with the red and black in sync to the  darkly humorous stories written onto its pages.
The titles intrigued my mind as well, some like St.George and the Dragon and the Howling Waves of Tranquebar and even Sum Total itch your curiosity and might serve as the perfect Bollywood scripts for alternative cinema I am so in love with . Others like the Silent Fear and Night Train weren't monologues of mystery and were predictable and I guess even dragged, although since these were very very short, I was hooked on till the end. Without giving up on my patience.

Sum Total was a story of delusions and fears, crammed inside the head of a woman who wanted to seek revenge against the people, trying to get even with her. Ofttimes because of the fallacies of other humans hate and anger mushrooms inside us. When selfishness pulls the wool over others eyes and they try to make us a scapegoat for their covetous calling, does deceit disguise into fallacy. Veera's day dreams were a product of that kind of a parsimony.
Geeti, a not so smart girl had a lot to lose in the end, when she decided to trust the most reliable girl in school. And the poor soul couldn't have imagined that the girl she looked upto for succor was the main protagonist of the cliff hanger staged in front of her.
Feet of Clay read more like a fairy tale straight from a castle of dreams. It takes a closer look at one of the most cowardly crimes existing in the Indian society which is usually brushed under the carpet for the fear of social stigmatization.