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Monday, October 21, 2013

Mornings

He felt a sudden need to scratch his foot – must be a mosquito. Without opening his eyes, he reached for his toes, scratched it and turned on the bed.

‘Oru maathrayenkilum kelkaathe vayyan nin Murali pozhikkunna gaanalaapam…’****

He heard K J Yesudas singing in his home. Amma had switched on their tape recorder, and it was belting out her favourite devotional songs. It was that time of the day when M S Subbulakshmi, P Leela, K S Chitra and other maestros performed for them. Amma never failed to play the cassettes in the morning – it was one of her ‘things’. The tapes were worn, and at times Yesudas sounded muffled or the songs dragged a bit, but that ritual never changed. It also meant she was done with her morning puja and she had moved onto her kingdom – the kitchen.

He felt someone gently shaking his shoulders. “Wake up Kanna…don’t you have to go to school…” It was Ammamma’s voice. She bent and gently kissed on his cheek and ruffled his hair. His Ammamma smelt of Chandrika soap, Cuticura talcum powder and incense sticks in the morning. He always associated her with purity – his Ammamma in the white mundum veshti, fresh like morning dew. He refused to open his eyes. Ammamma shook him gently again, amidst her ‘Rama, Rama’ chants. He heard a creaking noise, and felt the diffused sunlight on his face. Ammamma had pushed opened the wooden windows. He felt the morning chill, despite being under a blanket. He rolled himself into a ball. She left and he fell back into sleep.

He woke up with a start, to realize he had been whacked on his behind. “Get up, lazy bum!” It was Rukmini. He waved his arm to retaliate, but he heard her anklets as she left the room. “Look Amma, Appu’s still sleeping! Why is it that he gets to sleep till seven and I have to wake up at five in the morning?!” He heard her complain loudly. “He doesn’t have to write his 10th standard public examination this March. He’s only six years old, Rukku – let him sleep longer. Why don’t you act your age and stop whining...” He heard his Amma from the kitchen. He smiled.

He then heard the sounds of a broom at work; must be Chechi sweeping the courtyard, after which she’d have to get ready for school. He opened his eyes and looked at the walls. Today, the damp patches had created a new set of designs for his pleasure. One looked like an elephant to him. He kept staring to see what else would emerge. “Kanna, wake up now…you will get late” He heard Amma calling from the kitchen. He decided it was time and got out of bed. He walked out and saw Appa sitting at the table, across the nadumuttam. He went to the kitchen, and saw Amma at work on the stove. The idlis, sambar and chutney she made for breakfast was placed on the counter. She was busy preparing Appa’s lunch. The smell of coffee came wafting out. He took a deep breathe in. He liked the smell of coffee.

Amma’s back was wet from the water dripping from her hair. It looked as if she had stepped right out of the bath. He saw that it made damp patches on the back of her blouse; just like the ones he saw on the walls. There was a small strand of mullapoo in her hair. Whenever the jasmine hedges in the courtyard produced some buds, Amma would make a strand for the Gods and a small one for herself. He liked seeing flowers on Amma’s hair. She turned around, and saw him standing at the door. “Ahaaa…Kannan is up? Now be a good boy and brush your teeth. Amma will come by the time you’re done and Amma will help you get ready for school” He nodded as he smiled. He kept walking till he reached the table. Appa was reading the morning newspaper. He was waiting for his breakfast and coffee. He put his paper down, and smiled at him. He smiled back.

Appa left early in the mornings for work, because he had to catch a bus and a train to reach the bank. Some days, he doesn’t see him leave. As he looked at Appa, he realized that Appa’s face looked tired and old. Was it that he hadn’t he noticed it before? The lines on his face, the increasingly greying hair…his friends’ Appa looked young, but his Appa….

Amma served breakfast and Appa was having it quickly. He walked out to the verandah. He heard Amma and Appa talk about money for the maid, some books or guides for Chechi and medicines for Ammamma. He looked at the sky. It looked as if it would rain. He didn’t want it to rain today – at least not during the short break. He wanted to play outside, as it was becoming increasingly rare to do that, thanks to the monsoons. Appa took his black grandfather umbrella, tucked the small leather bag under his arm, took the lunch bag and left.

*****
“Get up Kanna…do you want to go to school today? Feeling better?” It was Ammamma. He rubbed his eyes while opening it; it hurt these days, with all the crying he did. He looked at Ammamma. She still looked miserable; like yesterday. She didn’t wait for a response and left the room. These days, he hardly slept well. He tossed and turned before he could sleep and anything could startle him awake. He stared at the ceiling. He didn’t know what to do with this onslaught of emotions he felt; it always felt the worst on waking up.

He got out of bed, and walked out. There was no music, like before. Chechi was seated on the ground, leaning onto a pillar of the nadumuttam and staring intently at the ground, like she was lost in thoughts. He saw a silent tear run down her cheek. He looked around for Amma. She was seated on the table. He could see that her eyes were red and puffy from constant crying. Tears were silently streaming down her face. She had given up on wiping that steady stream. He looked helplessly at Ammamma – it appeared she was busy trying to attain peace of mind through prayers. She had her eyes shut tightly, forming furrows on her aged and crinkled forehead. She was chanting prayers under her breath. 

He looked at the three of them, one by one. He then looked up at Appa’s photo. Amma had replaced yesterday’s garland, with a fresh string of jasmine today. He looked at Appa smiling in the photo. And he felt something tug at his heart – how could Appa smile when all of them were crying for him?

He went back to bed and curled himself. He shut his eyes. He should get back to sleep. Things would perhaps get back to normal, when he would wake up next time.

****
For non-Malayalis, here’s the meaning/explanation for some of the words I’ve used –

****Famous Devotional Song of Lord Guruvayurappan, sung by K J Yesudas
Amma – Mother
Ammamma – Grandmother
Appa – Father
Mundum veshti – the two-piece clothing, draped/worn like a saree (or a half-saree) by Malayali women
Chechi – Elder sister
Nadumuttam – the inner/central courtyard or quadrangle (a traditional architectural element of olden days)
Mullapoo – Jasmine flowers


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I know, it's been really long - like really long, since I've updated this blog. I wonder if anyone who used to read me before even remember me now! If you do, say 'hello'! Maybe more on my absence on blogs in a later post. How are you all doing? I've been infrequently catching upon the blogs in my Reading list. Good to know you'll are still writing.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

To New Year


It’s customary for me to write a New Year post, reminiscing on how the year went by. It normally comes up before/on New Year’s Eve. But since change’s the only constant, here I am, doing it on New Year's day.

Looking back, it’s one of those years that flashed by. Well, I said the same about last year too. Is it something about the life we live today? I guess it is. Each day gone even before we realize it dawned. The fast pace of life coupled with being busy at work, makes you live life from one weekend to the other (and still it seems so transient). Minutes rushing into hours; hours into days; days into weeks; weeks into months – and then into a whole freakin’ year! When it ends is when it suddenly dawns – a year actually did pass by. What did I do?

I remember the last New Year. On Jan 1, 2012 I watched a movie – Sherlock Holmes 2. They say what you do on New Year’s Day in an indication of what lies ahead. And I did end up doing that for the rest of the year; and in plenty! I think I watched more movies at a theatre this year, compared to what I had watched in my entire life till then! I was disappointed, surprised, depressed, bored, impressed…
Yes, my list of movies at the theatre include the kinds of JTHJ, Mausam and Heroine (yes, I do make bad choices!) to Talaash, Barfi, Ustaad Hotel, Thattathin Marayathu; to a bunch of animated 3D ones too – Ice Age 3, Brave, Hotel Transylvania et al. And I closed the Year with a movie too – The Rise of the Guardians. This came as a surprise plan – I really didn’t have anything cut out for New Year’s Eve. But I am glad I watched it. It is an endearing movie which makes me reaffirm my belief in hope and goodness.

If I had to summarize my year – it was like the movies I had seen. This year, I have been disappointed, surprised, depressed, bored and impressed – for reasons that affect me, my family or friends. I don’t remember being put on such an emotional roller-coaster  any time in the past. There’s a part of me that died; a part of me that grew; a part of me I saw, which I didn’t know existed. I've been pushed into the abyss; I have been on the clouds. It’s been quite a year – nothing much has changed at the face of it – I still work at the same place, I still live in the same place, my marital status is the same, I pretty much look the same (except for some weight I managed to gain!). But something inside me has changed; and hopefully it’s for the good. And I enter this New Year on the note of hope and optimism, just as in the last movie I saw. The headlines, ‘breaking news’ and general bleak outlook notwithstanding – I hope for the best; because as one of my favourite quotes go, “I hope for the best, since hoping for less doesn't seem to improve the results.”

So here’s to a New Year sans resolutions, only hope. Let it bring all what you need, and not what you want. Cheers!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Pretense


So, do you pretend? Yes, you…

No? Really? What did you just say; you are ‘yourself’? Straight as an arrow?

We all pretend. We all do. We all need to.

You pretend that you are not bothered by the aimless drifting of your life. You pretend that you do not see others’ miseries. You pretend that you don’t care that your life has no meaning. You pretend that you don’t see the running tap, the burning light or the wasted papers. You pretend to not see the growing pile of waste, the growing concrete jungles, and the reducing greenery.

You pretend that your son’s behaviour didn’t hurt you. You pretend that you are fine with marrying a man you don’t love. You pretend that you are not hurt that your daughter chose a guy she met yesterday, over you. You pretend that you didn’t notice the lipstick marks on your husband’s shirt. You pretend that you can’t see the inches of flab that has been piling on you. You pretend to not worry about price tags. You pretend that your break-up doesn’t hurt. You pretend that the volatile argument you had with your boss is not affecting you. You pretend that you are okay that your job’s not giving enough time to be with your family. You pretend that your failing marriage isn’t making your life miserable. You pretend to not see the single digit that your bank balance account becomes every month end. You pretend that not finding time to pursue your hobbies does not matter. You pretend to ignore the growing silence between you and your friend. You pretend that not having time to read a book is okay. You pretend that getting or giving bribes to get things done faster (or easier) is perfectly fine. You pretend that giving up on something you love to do, just because it won’t earn you money doesn’t take away something from you.

You pretend that you have all the time in the world.

You pretend. You do – all the time.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Best thing in life is…

The best thing in life is that we don't know what life is going to be like.

It's like taking a shot in the dark. Like flipping a coin.  Like picking a door from the three doors a lovely lady presents to you on a TV show. Like spinning the wheel of fortune and waiting to see what it's going to throw your way. Like choosing a road when you are at crossroads. Like throwing dice and waiting to see the numbers. 

Life doesn't come with an instruction manual. You have to go in it alone, with only your instinct to guide you; and experience, with time. You have to take that chance, not knowing what the outcome will be. You will make the wrong choices (perhaps more often, than not). But that's your life - the choices you make, the decisions you take (or don't). Would you live it any differently, if you knew what it was going to be like? Most importantly - do you want to know what it's going to be like? 

And that's the beauty of it. You don't know what it will be like. And that's the best thing that life gives.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda

Monday, September 17, 2012

To Life

I took all of it – my disappointments, my misgivings, my heartaches. I took all the sleepless nights; all the tears. I took the hurt; the despair I felt. I took the anger that was boiling within, like molten lava waiting to surface. I took the sense of self-pity which laid on me like a cloak. I took the frustration, the dejection, the sense of rejection. I took the pain that stung like a thorn perpetually lodged within me. I took all the dark clouds storming my mind. I took all the ‘would haves’, ‘should haves’, and ‘could haves’. I took all the ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’; the ‘why nots’ and ‘what ifs’. I took the feeling of worthlessness, which had gripped my heart in its brutal fists, paralyzing my existence. I took the frown from my face, the gloom in my eyes. I took the droop off my shoulders, the knot in my stomach. I took the fear of loneliness, of not being understood; and far worse, of being misunderstood. I took all the unanswered questions. I took boredom by its horns. I took the indifference I had for the world. I took the impatience I had with life. I took it all.

I dug a hole in my heart. I patiently layered it all – looking at it for the last time. I had buried it, just like that. Years of torment lay compressed. Like a man buried alive. Clawing to come out in the open; dying to be alive. But I had buried it once and for all.

I sowed the seeds of hope. It lays there, dormant – unwilling to try. Unwilling to sprout. But I’m sure one day it will burst with all its vigour. It will nourish and flourish. The pain and all that lay beneath will be its succor. It will be a plant, a tree tomorrow. It will flower and fruit. It will be the mainstay of my existence. The sun will kiss it, the rain will bless it. The bees will hover, the birds will nest. The squirrels will run up and down, the rabbits will hop about. And in its shade I will lie down and smile. Tomorrow, I will not see the hurt or the pain. I will see that tree. The tree that grew despite it; or perhaps, because of it.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Lights Out

There are a few things I’m scared of. Not cockroaches (really!); perhaps lizards (I think I’m disgusted by those than scared). Snakes! I’m petrified of those. It doesn’t help that I dream of them once in a while. But nothing scares me more than death. Not mine actually; but those close to me. Any accident, natural disaster or calamity, robbery gone bad, terrorist attack – I’m thinking, what if it was someone close to me there? It scares me to lose any one of my family members. But it’s an inevitable truth. An uncomfortable fact we sweep under the carpets and hope that it’s gone. It never is. It’s just hidden. 

Perhaps I hadn’t given it much thought, until I witnessed my Achachan die. And it’s something that made a lasting impression on me; more than I thought. Achachan had Alzheimer’s disease and was slowly caving in. He could do most of the things on his own, but it was as if his childhood had revisited him. Those who know about this disease would know that they behave like kids – they are adamant, forgetful, angry, moody and at times playful too! It is quite something to see an able man lose his memory; and it’s with a sense of sadness we realized that he’s losing his sense of self. Memories come in snatches; they remember far back into their life than the recent past. And they could scream at you, annoy you, go wild – and you know you can’t take it personally; it’s just the disease catching up with them. His helplessness, coupled with your own on seeing him like this is something everybody in the tharavadu took time getting used to. We used to visit regularly and Ammamma would have her share of stories on his antics. 

My uncle was around; he had come down from Dubai for a short leave, and was planning to return on that fateful day. It was early in the morning; I was wiping the car or so. I am not sure what exactly happened. The details are a blur – I could hear loud crying sounds from inside the house. And I remember rushing in. Achachan had tried to stand up and then his limbs started failing him, I suppose. My Amma was hugging him and crying ‘Appa…Appa…’ relentlessly. Everyone had gathered in the bedroom and had surrounded him. Achachan was slowly falling back into the bed, he had gone limp. His eyes rolled back, I think. It was certain the end was near. But it was a truth no one wanted to accept. And yet, there they were, pouring the last drops of water into his mouth. A physician was called in immediately. Of course, he only arrived to certify the one truth no one was ready to deal with, at that moment. He said the needful and quietly left. To this day – the scene haunts me; it’s been eight years since then... and yet. Seeing Amma crying out loud desperately; the anguish, the pain. I don’t know how I can describe what I felt. I was quite shocked, I think. I hadn’t been around when anyone was dying, till then. And it’s something no one is ever prepared for. To see the lights go out of someone’s eyes. I don’t think it has prepared me any better. It is something I don’t wish on anybody. But again, it’s a tough situation – everyone wants to be around at the last moment. You would hate it if you weren’t there; and yet, to see someone so close just slip by. A breathing, living personality becoming just a body – sometimes you think, is that the last thing I want to remember him by?

It’s at times like this that I wish our ages would just freeze – me forever young, a child to my parents; my parents forever of the same age. And we just wouldn’t die. No one would! But then, that’s just wishful thinking on my end. Those who are around today won’t be there tomorrow. That’s the ultimate truth.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Usthad Hotel - My take

I had hardly heard of this movie – okay, so I’m not the most updated person on Malayalam movies; granted. It would be quite another thing if I were in Kerala and missed it; but I’m outside and some releases can go unnoticed. It would have been the same in this case, but for the song ‘Appangal embadum’. A friend introduced me to this song, and later I caught it on TV. The song did the trick, for I was curious; curious to catch this movie. And then I saw two blogs raving about the movie – but I didn’t read them. I just browsed them to figure out if this was recommended. After having been disappointed one day (it was sold out on a weekday in Mangalore!) – I booked a show for the next day. And I wasn’t disappointed.


---Do not read if you want to watch the movie. Spoilers ahead---

Saturday, June 30, 2012

'Item' Songs!


Madam Malai

For the uninitiated, this is not what the Amul girl  will be called when she’ll grow up (if at all). This is Veena Malik in a very nondescript, can-and-will-be-forgotten-before-it-hits-the-theatres movie called Daal Mein Kuch Kaala Hai (thanks for the warning, makers!)

So why talk of her? Or Madam Malai? It’s because I’m going nuts!


Friday, June 22, 2012

Firsts

“Something about first love defies duplication. Before it, your heart is blank. Unwritten. After, the walls are left inscribed and graffitied. When it ends, no amount of scrubbing will purge the scrawled oaths and sketched images, but sooner or later, you find that there’s space for someone else, between the words and in the margins.”


- Tammara Webber

Now that's a quote I loved. There's something about all 'firsts' in our lives. And why are our firsts so important? Perhaps because it is the first of its kind – sets our expectations, becomes our benchmark, our immediate point of reference.

The first love, the first car, the first impression of a new city, the first time you talked to someone, the first drink you tried, the first trip to a place, the first smoke you had, the first date, the first job, the first live show/concert you saw, the first time you went on a plane, the first kiss, the first time you walked into your office/school, the first time you wrote with a pen, the first time you got appreciated, the first dish you cooked, the first time you drove a vehicle, the first pregnancy, the first salary you earned, the first time you went on stage…

But how many firsts of these do you actually remember? Not many. Of course, some because they are among the many mundane ‘firsts’ we achieve. Some, because they weren’t really memorable – it could be something you want to actually forget! Very few ‘firsts’ are treasured, remembered wistfully, appreciated silently. And first love is something like that. With luck (?) it may be your last. Else, you will find space between the words and margins.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Uninvited Guests

Shush! Go back 
 Back to where you came from.
I have neither the patience
Nor the inclination to entertain you.

They keep surprising me,
Like uninvited guests;
They irritate me.

I pacify myself, my heart.
I protect my mind from them.
These unwanted thoughts 
 They do spoil the party.
I am comfortable 
Not knowing.
Not worrying.

Questions I am afraid
I have no answer to.
Don't come! You are never welcome.


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