Sunday, April 14, 2013

My sweetest love

Your smooth skin is calling out to me. The skin on the neck. The skin around the armpit. The skin around your nipples and the skin on your…

I fear what I was scared of has come to pass. I can no longer stay without you and be happy. I want to be wrapped up in your arms, I want to be buried in your chest and I want you to be buried within me. Deep. Locked together for a long long time.

Let’s live in a forest. In a hutment but all by ourselves. The canopy overhead covering us from all. We could nurture plants from saplings and call them our baby…or we could make some…in the dense forest under trees. Mark the space with our love and lust. We could go around marking every tree in the forest with our lust and love and our laughter together, and your tenderness and your sweetness and concern, with my patience at your antics, with our silences together and our moans and our groans (yours when my mouth hovers at your minefields).

Let’s live on the beach. In the space made by a half-over-turned, once loved now forgotten boat. We could crouch together, each needing much less space than what we had previously estimated instead melting into each other till one couldn’t say you apart from me. And on the beach, we don’t fret this melding of identities, instead we gaze into the sea, lying half in it - half out of it and we make love incessantly…with our bodies, with our voices, our eyes and eventually someday with our souls. One day we could take that boat to sea and float away, living in nature as part of nature.

Let’s live in the mountains. On some generic rainy hill top, amongst resilient trees and goats and dogs who deal with the rain like a boss. We could find an abandoned old colonial bungalow and share the upstairs with our friend the pregnant black dog. We could lead whimsical lives orchestrated by us. We could walk to old-worldly places like the Milk depot clutching our umbrellas wearing gumboots and splish-sploshing in the rain. One ratty old umbrella and two happy us. Quaint little unknown town we could make our own and stay. Together forever.

Or we could just…

Friday, February 08, 2013

Pickle lady in the closet

It sounded like a death rattle.

Ruhi woke up with her arms flailing in the air. She had been dreaming of her grandmother, her amma. Hers had been the only death rattle she had heard in her life. And that had been that. The sound had signaled the end of her beautiful amma’s life. Ever since then Ruhi had been nightly dreaming of her amma. Her old-lady smile, all wrinkly and toothless and the smell of her lap had been very reassuring in her sleep (and just as jarring in the first moments of awakening as she realised every day, that amma was dead).

Tonight too, just before being awakened by that rude noise, her amma had been talking to her. In her dream, a younger amma (still with all her teeth and lesser wrinkles) – the amma of her childhood had gathered all her cousins in a circle around her and was feeding them fat balls of curd rice mashed with ripe langda mangoes from their orchard. This sort of food smelt of their collective summers and they waited every year to have amma feed them her strange concoctions. There was pickle too on the massive communal plate but none of the children wanted the pickle with their curd rice.

Ruhi had been savouring the lingering taste of the mango and the curd rice of the last round. With her tongue she touched every corner of her mouth chasing the elusive taste. Two more cousins till it was her turn next, and suddenly she was awash with a prickling sensation up and down her body (The grown up Ruhi doing the dreaming felt it in her still sleeping body). Ruhi felt it in her dismay filled heart of hearts that amma was saving the pickle for her.

She opened her mouth wide, tears filling her eyes. Amma’s hand was outstretched towards her. Through her despair and sadness and tears, she saw that her amma had transformed into a different sort of woman. This amma was a young woman. Soil-coloured and raunchy, pushy and leering, she fed Ruhi the curd rice and pickle and with bell like clarity said, “This piece of pickle is meant just for you.” The young Ruhi (and the older sleeping one) felt horrified at the stirrings in her loins.

Ruhi was almost shamed into waking up when she heard the death rattle and actually did. She looked around the dark room and turned to her side to reach out and then remembered that Deb had gone home for Christmas. Ruhi realised that she was now alone in their brand new flat, with its brand new paint smell, in a brand new part of the city (so new, it was almost in another state).

Death rattled again. It was coming from the closet.

The closet had been Deb’s baby. She had meticulously selected the design, the wood. She had bullied the contractor, sat with and cajoled the carpenters to have every bit of the spacious closet, the way she had wanted it.

And now, Deb’s closet had a thing dying in it.

Suddenly, with a flash, she remembered her dream, remembered the spiky feeling run up and down her limbs. “The pickle lady is in the closet,” she thought, “pretending to be my amma.” She jumped out of the bed, and hurriedly looked for her phone. She wanted to call her sister who lived across the city. She wanted to call Deb and scream at her for leaving her in this new house. She wanted to cry and scream at amma for dying, for dying in front of her and leaving her with the death rattle which will stay with her, her entire life.

But mostly, she wanted to open the door of the closet and meet the sexy woman she had just dreamt of.
Ruhi walked till the closet door and fingered the delicate beading work on it. She could smell something spicy. The smell of varnish and something else. Ruhi made up her mind.

She walked out of the room and bolted it behind her. She locked herself in the other room and covered herself from head to toe in her sister’s favourite polka dotted comforter. She breathed in relief, “If there is a ghost in a closet, keep the door to it shut. That’s common sense na?” The sun rose in 3 hours and everything was fine.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Migraine Monster

I walked down the road with fancy uneven lumpy tiles. I was wearing slippers bought street side and they were uncomfortable as hell. I walked down quickly. I was on my way to the cafeteria to grab a bite to eat. I was hurrying for I was hungry and on the verge of a migraine.

The noise is getting louder and my brain is hurting. I resist the urge to shush the moron who speaks loudly on the phone within the lift. I run down the aforementioned lumpy tiles in precarious shoes, because it’s too noisy in the lobby where it all echoes. It takes effort to smile and talk to the servers at subway, I can barely hear them. My ears are almost blocked. I do the ‘hold your nose and swallow’ thing and nothing. I just nod to what he says and end up with grilled chicken in my salad. I pay. I get some change back. I try to calculate if it’s the right change, and I fail. I try again. I just decide to trust the guy.

I have a salad and a sandwich, then a dispirin. The headache is going away. But I am holding my head still in fear that if I move it too much she might come back - The migraine. My head is still mildly throbbing. I love this throbbing. This tells me that the painkiller is working. And that I have been able to thwart a full-blown attack once again.  Success!

And I am not writing 'this' out of self-pity. Just wanted to talk about something terrible I live with. This short episode was of course one of the good ones. There have been times, when I have sat crying in an A.C chilled room, with mint-oil in my hair, having had multiple painkillers, crying and wanting to stab my temples, in my eager desire for the pain to go away. This is not an exaggeration. Migraine is so painful and debilitating that I have had suicidal thoughts. And I am not saying this to garner sympathy, for it is very difficult to explain migraine to people who have headaches that ‘go away on their own,’ normal people. Migraine has to be chased away and prevented. There have been people in my lives, who thought I was using this term as an excuse to get away from chores, or to ask for attention. I remember a friend grabbing me by my hair and shaking my head and almost banging my head to the wall behind, because she had been pissed off at me whining about the pain. She is not in my life anymore. There have been people, (young and immature, I grant them that) who have switched on lights in my dark room and screamed in my ears because they thought I was trying to get away from setting the table at dinnertime. There have been people in my lives who thought I was lying, because, they thought migraine was hereditary and since my parents didn’t have them, I couldn’t.

I am misting up a bit.

However, there have also been friends who have offered to and have applied balm and massaged my forehead and neck till their wrists have ached, sometimes in the oddest of places, like the shoe section ‘Lifestyle’ store. Friends have bought and stacked painkillers for me even late in the night, because I feel so vulnerable and jittery without any at hand. There have been people who have understood or cared. Or at least believed me when I said I was in pain.

The sufferer has to be aware of their triggers. For me, they are sun, humidity, hunger, and cheese. Coffee can be bad too, but since I usually have 0-1 cup of coffee a day, I tend to forgive coffee. Stress is another – or like I like to call it, ‘thinking too much’ can give you a headache. The most dangerous trigger is of course, lack of sleep. I have missed school, days of work. I don’t go out in the sun in the summers, or indeed in the winter. I hate every bit of sunlight, so much so that I hate sunlit rooms. I am terrified of feeling hot. I am always drinking water so I don’t get dehydrated, which is another big trigger of migraine for me.

Lately, I have been abusing my body. I am not sleeping on time, or enough. I have been staying awake for 30-35 hours at a stretch and feeling very unwilling to sleep even after my eyelids are heavy and my eyes refuse to stay open. My mind is not at rest, and I thus don’t let my poor body rest. So, it is no surprise that migraines are a knocking again.

Friday, January 04, 2013

We Want Patriarchy! We Want Patriarchy!

Why do patriarchal men not want things to change and why do they keep citing the Ramayana in order to warn women to toe the line? Why do such men keep living happily, ignorantly, and moustache-twirlingly. It is their world. It is their India. They love things as it is. They don't want change. Any change in the direction of modernity is deemed western thus against Indian culture. In fact, it is against their comfort, against their grain. To recognise women as equals will hinder their perfect little worlds, where their women are for them to control, love and patronize.

Fuck Feminism.

I too want to be a Patriarchal Man and live happily placidly forever. To be a Patriarchal Man in India,. Imagine the (never-ever-felt-by-me) comfort, the going with the grain, of being part of a majority, of knowing my elected leader has the same family values as me, the same disdain for women, the same hatred towards jeans (on women) and skirts.

But I have a vagina and modern western ideas and I can't be servile and I am uncomfortable all the time. In my bra, with my dupatta, in my home, under my grandmother’s judgment, at my marital status, in an auto with the mirror fixed on me, on the streets, in my heels, in my ragged jeans, at my age,  at my more than visible body. I am uncomfortable.

If living in India is easy for you. You know which side you truly belong to.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Of Rape and other fears

The whole country is thinking of rape now. Since Sunday, rape is on their mind. “The Delhi incident” I have heard it being referred to in more formal situation and in male-female interaction, skillfully avoiding the word ‘Rape.’ Men and women bother all over the country are horrified. Facebook statuses are showcasing the shock, the anger and the helplessness. Denizens are asking for death penalties and public hangings and such (I saw a couple of pictures of something horrible happening in Lebanon and shuddered!!)

Having had this fear of rape since I was a child of 4 or 5 (I was a precocious kid) I have some very precise thoughts on this. And I know I can’t be alone in this. I am sure all women in the country if not the world have had and continue to have feelings like this. And it’s just not fear; things come to pass - a grope, a slap on the ass, an elbow in the chest and the like and believe it or not once a kiss on the knee. It all was horrible. It didn’t affect me physically, at least not beyond a few moments, but the feeling of invasion of space remains, mostly forever. The fear of rape changes a woman’s quality of life. I have never taken a walk alone or sat alone or stood alone in public without being guarded, stoic, making no eye-contact. Alone, (and sometimes with my sister and other girl friends) I have never let that guard down. I am always careful with my interaction with strange men. I trust no one. After the knee kissing incident, I don’t behave very well with anyone. Sometimes I am extra aggressive if I feel that someone is coming into my private space. I am very mean. And friends (guys) wonder and ask why I am so confrontational and mean and aggressive. I don’t know what to tell them. All of that comes from being cold and being possessive of my personal space.

Most men (and some women and society in general) don’t understand a very simple thing. When a girl is harassed or eve-teased, the men in her life feel really bad. The first reaction is probably, “If I were there, I would have hit/hurt/killed him.” The second reaction, “Why were you there?” Why were you walking alone in the night? Why were you walking near a slum area? Why did you take that auto? Why did you take that route? I have been asked these questions some time or the other. I have fought and reclaimed my right to do what I want. Even at the risk of extreme harm, I will not let anyone take over my independence.

More thoughts on this coming up soon…

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Silken wisps of whisper
Tumble down the memory tunnel
Scrapbooks of bygone fly open
And I hurriedly sweep up those dust bunnies 

Tuesday, November 06, 2012


They had all been inside the room for about an hour now. Their conical lamp stood lit in the corner diffusing its red light leaving most of the room in shadows. Dinner for five it was supposed to be, but the festivities hadn’t begun yet. The fifth guest hadn’t arrived yet.  The four inside were playing 29. They were playing 29 but their ears pricked up for any sound of the arrival of Sal. Pitter-patter of the footsteps of a dog out on the metallic steps outside result in a collective jerk and lurching towards the door. Everyone was waiting desperately for Sal. They could hear Mr. Mallik, the owner of the flat next door paced up and down the corridor. Sal hadn’t arrived yet.

The evening was balmy. Sweat dropped down Sal’s arm. He was walking up and down the road. The road leading to his safe haven was lit with flickering street lights. Neighbourhood dogs recognized Sal and howled and skipped in his way. Sal staggered towards the door on top of the metallic stairs. The day in office had been long and tiring. The boss was mad, the pretty receptionist pregnant, the egg noodles he had had for lunch had been extra salty. Sal walked up the steep slope to the house, suddenly feeling thirsty. There will be water and more at the house, but the road has started looking steeper and tougher to walk on. Sal took a deep breath and ran up the last few steps.

Sal stood in front of the door. He fumbled in his pocket. He opened the door and entered the flat. “Am Home!” He shouted. Everything looked exactly the same. The kitchen was immaculate. The fridge stocked with beer and cucumber-spinach juice. He poured himself a glass of beer and searched for the remote of the A.C.

Sal entered the living space with the remote in one hand and a glass in the other. But he didn't need the remote. The living room was chilled with the A.C on at full blast. Sal looked around the room. The lamp was switched on. The cards lay littered on the carpet. The glass dropped from his hands. And he ran out of the house. The dogs had been waiting for him. They ran on with him. “It was an accident! I did not kill them!” he screamed as he ran.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

After the Storm - A very short story

She waited. 2 minutes only. Then she walked out of the door holding her orange tote bag in her arms, leaving it all behind. The wooden window cracked and blood and gore oozed out. But she didn’t see. She didn’t look at it. She didn’t turn back. The pollen grains in the air teased her nostrils and her eyes watered. She blinked and crossed the road. That thing followed her till the checkered fence and couldn’t take a step more. Not step, not step. It. That thing wooshed. That thing couldn’t woosh ahead anymore. It stayed shushed at the lamp post. The solar panel of the government issued lamp post hissed at the empty street. She took the last lone rickshaw, sat on it, “Chalo.” The lamp post burst out and the glass shattered on the wet tar. The last shards tried to reach the rickshaw, as it rolled away downstreet.

The downward slope helped the haggard old rickshaw puller speed on empty streets. She adjusted and shifted her old bag on her lap. Her precious cargo. The railway crossing was open. The ancient, rotten wood and stone fixture was blinking its genial green light. Old Ramji and she raced on un-bothered by potholes. The old tamarind tree at the end of the town shimmied and swayed back and forth. That thing back at the ancient house she left behind howled and cried. The old kite that had been stuck outside the window for months now shook free and floated on behind old Ramji’s rickshaw. The level crossing lifted up just in time to catch the kite and destroy it for the second time in its life. She opened her umbrella and held it over herself and the thin almost skeletal rickshaw puller. The precious cargo shifted inside the bag. The skies which had held its breath till they reached bridge over the river at the end of the town let go with all its might.

The thing. That thing whined and stomped, back in the house. But she was miles away now, tucked in her own bed. The rain plundered on outside. Old Ramji sat huddled in the shaded verandah over a cup of hot masala tea. He would spend the night in. indoors. Safe from the rain. Safe from that thing.

The old faded orange tote lay discarded at the bottom of the bed. Her precious cargo now cuddled in her arms. “Oh! The horror the horror!” She crooned to the orange tabby she just stole from her ex-boyfriend, “He kept you on dry food, baby. That thing!” as she deleted the Ex’s texts (He is my cat!!) from her cell phone.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Fuck your sensibilities, bitch!

Censorship in the name of saving our sensibilities is an old ruse we Indians use to stop anyone whose views are different from our own. Forever the ostrich, we feel that if we can’t see the objectionable views, they don’t exist in the minds, hearts or art of others. M.F. Hussain, Salman Rushdie, and Tasleema Nasreen all know how it feels to be censured, exiled, banned, threatened to shut down, or even threatened to kill in the name of protecting the public’s ‘sensibilities’

The internet is a wonderful way to come together to share views. It is a wonderful way to learn what the other is thinking, even if we find it slightly jarring or distasteful. The beauty of Facebook is that you create your own content. If your friends are all dog lovers, your Facebook content is going to be a lot about dogs. On the other hand, if you and your friends are racist bigots, most of the post will be about related content – and you will not disapprove.

We are not in Communist China, but a democratic India and it seems neither feasible nor fair to pre-screen data – for one man’s poison is another man’s daily dose of humour. Pre-screening all data seems not only impossible but also violating an individual’s right to expressing their thoughts.

Google India, which along with 20 websites is facing criminal case for allegedly hosting objectionable material, on Monday told the Delhi High Court that blocking them was not an option as a democratic India does not have a “totalitarian” regime like China. Trying to turn India into anything like China is not only a bad idea which might affect the voters’ mind in the next polls but also against our right to freedom of speech.

“Unity in Diversity” cannot just be a token phrase but the feeling should seep into the everyday fabric of the Indian. To keep India the way it is and then move forward without diminishing our diversity, we need to keep moral censorship at an arm’s length. We should toughen up and accept that we live in a varied, dichotomous society where every member has their own wonderfully individualistic views on politics, religion, art and life in general. This heterogeneity should be encouraged as this is what holds us together.

We don’t need a moral watchdog to save our sensibilities. We should instead self-censor if the need be and remove unwanted content from our Facebook accounts by ‘removing’ it or ‘blocking’ it and even Reporting Abuse - Pornography, hate speech, threats, graphic violence, bullying, and spam are not allowed on Facebook.  We can report abuse and keep off unwanted content even off our T.V screens; even on our Google search pages we can tighten filters if the need be. The bottom-line is that we the general public have to take a stand and keep the politicians from taking a decision on what we want to watch or say or do.

Monday, December 26, 2011

My favourite vegan salad

Spinach-Papaya Salad


Spinach Leaves - 1Bunch (Wash thoroughly in cold water)

Papaya - 1 half

Lemon juice – As much required

Grated Coconut – As much required


           Mix in a salad bowl