Thursday, May 19, 2016

Joy


A little warmth wriggles out
Tickling the soul
Escapes curving lips
A delirious laugh

Surprised eyebrows rise
Supressing the urge
But tearing all confines
It twinkles in the kohl eyes

Little anklets ring
And little hands dance
Untamed it erupts
In soft gurgles

Wrinkles deepen
Knowing and wise
Slowly savouring the moment
It plays on hesitant lips

Unmoved grim lines
Attempt to deny
It coughs through the throat
And softens the eye

Unbridled, unashamed
A little boisterous, a little shy
Freeing itself from all shackles
Pure unadulterated joy


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Magical Love


Do you see me?
Beyond my horizons
And beyond yours

Do you see me?
My skirmish, my yearning
Beneath the blanket of calm

Do you see me?
The smile cutting through the pain
The joy in my tears

Do you see me?
Stripped bare
Unadorned and exposed

Do you see me?
For me?
As me?

And still desire me?

Magical love!


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Resurrection



i feel empty
unhooked from myself
away and removed

silent words
voiceless talks
try to stir inside me

an awakened slumber
drowns them all
i drift

it is a maze
i am finding my path
to a destination unknown

i feel nothing
i want nothing
but i still know

a ripple quivers
unguarded and divine
peace

i zoom out
the siesta ends
my daughter chuckles again


The equity equation


A talk on the eve of International Women's Day at office got me mulling over yet again on the idea of gender equity. Gender inequity surfaces in the most average of conversations, the most normal of circumstances which makes it even more difficult to deal with. More often than not, serious dialogue around it becomes so glamourized and extravagant that the glimmer of it all shadows the real lurking issue. I am not a feminist. I like to believe in the concept of equal opportunity for equal merit. Simple enough? Sometimes the seemingly simplest things are the most complexly construed. 

On a personal note, I was fortunate to have experienced a more or less egalitarian approach by my parents in the upbringing of my brother and me. In the previous statement, the phrase "more or less" weighs heavily, which prompted me to include it there. Like it belongs. Nonetheless, I can’t be thankful enough to my lovely parents for their efforts. I had seen my friends not having the same privileges as me sometimes. At times even a simple, but extremely important privilege like trust. It pained to see my friends' parents struggling with trust for their own child.

So, all looked good and hunky dory till I stepped out of school, into college. College was a whole new experience. You were on your own. Breaking out of your well spun cocoon, travelling to and from college on your own, going out, meeting new people and making new friends.

That was, I guess, one of the first brushes with the actual world, the real world. I must admit that the first 2-3 months of college messed up my head like no other. What seemed a given in our equal-ish world back home was suddenly denied to me. Without realization on my part, small talk slowly transformed to judgemental quizzing. I found myself explaining things which earlier required no explanation. These changes were not like a rock solid punch in the face. No. They were worse. Small niggling irritations which together caused a turmoil of emotions. I talked about a few things to one of my friends, asking her how she felt about it. But all I was rewarded with, was an expression that said, "Yeah, so? Tell me something I don’t know!"

It was then that it hit me. The conflict of emotions in me was a result of being nurtured in a certain kind of environment for years and then being suddenly exposed to quite a different one. My friend on the other hand took things in her stride since she did not experience any difference in her environment. This made me question the basis of my character. It made me question the reasons of my parents’ efforts in providing me with this kind of habitat. Astonishingly, it even made me think whether I would have been better off if I didn't have the kind of conditioning I had!

Now I realize that the confused, messed up state of mind made me question a lot of things. I realize today that such conflicts bring about a change. What kind of change? I guess the one your conscience feeds? Yes, I became extremely vulnerable at first, almost succumbing to the pressures. But I had seen the other side, my learning years had been strongly ingrained with a different thought process, so eventually it only made me more resilient.

Unfortunately, my story is not very old. I am told 30s is now the new 20s! 

I am a mother of an exuberant 7 year old daughter today. In my capacity, I fervently try, in subtle ways, to practice and emphasize the equal ground that she stands on with any of the boys. I try hard to nudge her into making her choices, not because she needs to but because she wants to. I try hard to make her think about her decisions and choices. I try. A colossal challenge I face is not germinating  her mind with thoughts, say about equality, until she herself sees and identifies inequality and questions it. I feel it is so very important that the strength of my efforts do not translate into forced thoughts. I am trying to do my part. I am trying to gift her, her very own conflict.

Things definitely look better today. But then I see Kinder Joy (a popular chocolate for kids with a surprise toy) flaunting ‘For Boys’ and ‘For Girls’ tags on it. My daughter explains that the ‘For Girls’ has fairies and the ‘For Boys’ has superheroes. I visibly cringe and the niggling thoughts are back. When my daughter is given options in school for a Christmas gift among Barbie dolls, a tiara as opposed to the race car that she actually wants, the conflicts start again in my head.

We have a long way to go. It seems better today when I look back to a yesterday, so I guess we are getting there!


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Angel


A piece that I wrote for my darling cousin's wedding card, on behalf of her parents:

she fluttered her eyes open, looked up at us
our little angel, enchanting and divine
it was a special day

it was a new world
unspoken without her chuckles,
incomplete without the sound of her anklets

today she looks up at us, we see the maiden
her kohl eyes, a new glint
her anklets, a new ring

it is a special day

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Summer vacations - the shift



Just the other day when one of my friends was discussing her holiday plans, she started this conversation about how she would be doing a hotel booking at a hill station during her son’s summer vacation. The mere mention of summer vacations brought back school memories when summer vacations were the ultimate holiday experience that we had in the whole year.

Sweltering classrooms, exam tension in the air, vacation excitement; the first week of April used to be filled with all of these mixed emotions. Every passing day taking us away from the early morning/late night revisions and closer to happy vacation days ahead.

The last exam paper used to be the toughest to concentrate on. We knew at the back of our minds that at home, Mummy would be packing our bags for the long vacation at Delhi. My brother admitted to leaving a few of the last questions unanswered to reach home early, for which he received his dues from Mummy. It used to be a moment of exhilaration returning home to have a quick lunch and leave for the railway station to board the Jhelum express.

As soon as we boarded the train, the first of the 2 eternal fights ensued, the fight for the most sought after window seat!  I used to win this one comfortably as there were always some goodies that Mummy had, to pacify my foodie brother. The window seat has somehow been very special to me be it in the BEST buses or local trains. I always felt more comfortable just looking out of the window and soaking in the views rather than striking a conversation with people traveling with me. To be truthful, it is much easier for me. The rhythmic movement of the train, I feel, is a healer in some way and when it is coupled with silence and a window seat to look out at the world go by, it creates a strange sense of equilibrium.

During the journey the train used to zip across picturesque locations like large farmlands, huge mountains and riversides. The sound that the fast moving train used to make when going over long, covered bridges used to be a little scary. Every time we crossed the Chambhal ghat we expectantly looked out for a GabbarSingh like daaku riding on his horse. And then there were the occasional tunnels which caused a temporary blackout and an inevitable scream from my brother.

The meals in the train were special. Mummy used to pack her famous ajvain ki pooriyaan and aloo ki sabji complete with aam ka achaar, and some sweets for later, which we relished during the travel. It was always something else having a meal in the train, spreading a newspaper on the seat, neatly placing the food tiffins on it, paper plates, plastic spoons et al. And when one family starting arranging their spread, uncannily it used to be the global lunch time, with other families too reaching out for their lunch boxes. So it used to be like this big, moving lunch!

The other attraction was the vendor who walked through the compartments with a huge steel bucket filled with chilled bottles of Pepsi, Coke and Fanta, a welcome treat in the hot afternoons. Then there were the vendors at each of the stations who used to walk around with their characteristic shouts for selling their wares. Each station had something special or famous, so to speak, to offer the travelers. The large geographic stretch saw the kanda bhaji, vada pav snacks in Maharashtra transforming to the moong daal pakodas and aloo tikkis moving up north, all of them equally delicious. Daund station had the famous omlette-pav, Itarsi and Jhansi had the tea in the earthen cups, Agra had the pethas, Mathura had the milk barfis and Faridabad…well Faridabad had the best to offer. It meant we were minutes away from our destination, Delhi!

On reaching Faridabad, the other fight began as to which side the Delhi station would come on. By then, most of the times, the people of the compartment would be like an extended family and my brother and I used to be on opposite side windows with our heads glued to the window bars to catch a glimpse of the approaching station. A jubilant cry - ‘This side!’- would cause a momentary feeling of defeat in the other, which was soon forgotten, as the other, more interesting, game began. There were always, not one, but at least 3 people out there at the station to receive us and it was an unforgettable competition to spot them first in the crowd from the moving train.

I suddenly came back to today from this distant memory. So much had changed in all these years. The engaging train journey took almost 29 hours which was now reduced to a 2 hour flight. The poori-aloo ki sabji was replaced with club-sandwiches and cappuccinos on the flight. More so the yearly Delhi trips were replaced with resort bookings. Not that I am complaining, but for a moment I couldn’t help but compare the stark contrast of the holiday season that I had experienced and that my daughter would soon experience.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Down came the rain...

it was raining again that day

the rains fuming venom again

old memories came to play

everyone had a story to say...


As I stood in the balcony and watched the incessant rain dance wildly on rooftops, roads, umbrellas, cars, rickshaws alike, flashbacks of another rainy day shot back from the past. It has been 2 years so to say, but memories of that day fail to fade away, not even the little details. I recall every moment in all its clarity.

Human chains meandering on supposed highways, which had transformed to river beds, holding each other lest the other was swept away by a fatal torrent or swallowed by an open manhole. Drowning hutments, uprooted trees, floating cars, submerged buses, people clambering out, trying to get a safe foot somewhere, it was all there in front of me just like in the movies. Water and only water, as far as the eye could stay afloat. I remember holding hands with unknown people and walking over road dividers, whatever was visible of them.

When we were struggling on the over-bridge, I chanced to glance down, and what I saw was a breathtaking scene, a swarm of people, crawling below us, speckled with the most vibrant and bright colored umbrellas. It seemed to add color to that dreadful environment, making the vicious moment look so pretty. Strange are the times you spot beauty.

It was only after 7 grueling hours of marathon wading through water that I managed to trudge home, tired, hungry with a drenched, sore body and a horrified conscience. Even after all that I had seen, the gravity of the whole situation began to sink in only after hearing more horror stories and losing an ex-colleague. I had been lucky.

The day passed, though it seemed it would not end at all, it passed but not before it had enjoyed destruction, death, fear. The city spirit was at rescue again which reinforced the dwindling sentiments for humanity. The new dawn staggered in, with a long TO-DO list at hand.

Two years have passed but even today when the rain gods are in a mood to display their prowess, the scars hurt.