Thursday, March 27, 2014

An Absence and a Presence: Hiraeth.

I swear to you I hated everything about my locality.

It's not posh, it's not posh at all.

I would shudder to invite my friends here.

Because everything about the place I live in is different from the places I've been to after I got into  school, have hung out at with my friends, and even traveled to with my family.

So I always feel like I'd be judged for being a hypocrite,  projecting a certain level of  normalcy about my life, when in fact my home address didn't even have a street sign  saying this is the place in no man's land that you're looking for, until very recently, like this month.

Funny thing though? All my life I've lived here and nobody felt the need for a street sign. Weird.

With the onslaught of time, one might even characterize my address as being  quaint, where shops, business.. life shuts down at 10 pm, where the only excitement and buzz is  about marriage ceremonies, tenant landowner scandals and family tussles.But they don't happen everyday, and there's nothing newspaper worthy about it either.

Some relatives have commented on the quiet that prevails if one just sat and listened, the kind that allows you to hear birds chirping covert messages to each other.

I have never known a different way of "being at home." When we come back  from a day's trip to anywhere at the heart of the city, my mother says, "and we're back to our hamlet, again." Although she sighs and huffs about it, I know that she calls this place home just as I do, with a grudging acceptance of Ugly Duckling's mom.

Because our place of residence is so unlike us, we have stuck out in our neighbourhood. This was what was initially built by immigrants after the partition of Bengal. But I doubt if those families live here anymore. We were perhaps the first struggling family that moved in here for rent(mom and dad had wanted a fresh, nuclear start) , and then had to deal with the after effects of a broken home. My father moved out. Everybody talked. And of course as I was the kid, a lot of questions that they wouldn't dare ask my mom were directed towards me. I never did mind telling them the absolute truth. And this was a problem, because five year olds have no concept of privacy. So I was asked not to hang out with the neighbourhood kids. We had a maid. And she was all I had for a childhood friend. Sometimes my isolation would be so complete that I would pick fights with her just so I could find some reason to cry. I was an odd child. This one time I cried the entire afternoon at a Dumbo mask I'd made at school( maybe that was my way of willing it to come to life.)

Now there are new kids that have moved in with their Baba s and Ma s . New families that are less intrusive about me and mummy's little world. Because that's what it is really, a tiny bit of cosmos that does not appreciate grey areas. In a sense, growing up in this kind of setting was perfect for my ever indecisive mind: pick a side: baba or mummy, pick a friend: cook or maid, pick a dress: pinafores or dungarees. Sheesh! So when I found my mother marking clear boundaries for herself, painting a black and a white over the events unfurling in our lives, I was in pain but very relieved at her decisiveness.

 That was it then.

And then there was only one thing left, wishing for things to work out in their odd jigsaw puzzle way. It did, because I can't help but look at the new street sign with fondness now. I can't help but wish that everyone enjoy the tremendous righteousness with which my mother raised me and continues to  live her own life.  No excuses, no exceptions. It was painful every step of the way, but you know what? That kind of pain makes you appreciate all that is luminescent and good in this world, a rare gift that I joyously experience in our humble abode every day.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Over Thinking BuzzFeed Quizzes

So BuzzFeed quizes are very popular.

And every time someone publishes a quiz result, I get all pissy at this person and go "seriously? you need to know what kind of pastry you are?"

Then I always end up taking  the same quiz because now I'm too curious to know what I am.

VIENNOISERIES (croissants & roul├ęs au chocOlat) - There's absolutely nothing better than chocolate croissants
I am a French croissant, just in case you were wondering.
Image Courtesy: Pinterest. 

But I will never publish these results on my time line.

Can't help but wonder if this makes me a hypocrite.

This one time I thought I would actually make an excel sheet of all these quizes I'm taking with the results and then post it in the About Me page of this blog. But most of the time, I click on an option in the quiz because it sounds fun rather than something I would really pick-because-that's-me, so I don't know how much of these quiz results would really reflect me....I think?

And now I'm thinking about thinking on BuzzFeed Quizzes. Worst. Wormhole. Ever. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Mrs Sen Gives Me A Reality Check, Gloriously.

You know you're taking yourself too seriously when you overlook something like this: 

Mrs Sen : "It's a fuck- all ride darling, enjoy it while it lasts." 

It's been a  week of brooding and it doesn't help that I have an attention span of a fly. So I've been trying extra hard to make up for lost time, read between the lines, stay focused and please people at work. I know, I annoy me too. Somewhere in the middle of all of this I forgot to breathe, smile and allow myself to just...let it be. Then we went out on a work meeting in my Boss's car and my colleague pointed Mrs Sen (because her name can't be anything other than Mrs Sen, you guys)  out to me. And I'm like what the hell...this is my area of expertise..(My Twitter handle is "quirkyweirdo" for crying out loud!) how could I not see this sitting at the front seat of the freaking car? 

So yeah...I need to re-evaluate my priorities a little bit. And maybe visit my Optometrist.  

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Expanse.

I take immense pleasure in staying at home on Saturdays. My mother likes to call it: being  "the Big Bore".

 I have no idea how we've come to be such different people.

Moreover, my definition of spending a day out does not always boil down to visiting  one of the many malls of the city( or so I'd like to think). Because that's the general direction everyone heads to these days.Got nothing to do at home? Let's just head to the mall, and shop for more clothes, and more shoes and more accessories and more food and call it a day well spent. 


When does the emptiness begin to hit you? Or are we so busy multi tasking these days that we pretend to have managed to  shun this emptiness.. or fool ourselves into believing that it does not exist? Because it does, oh it does.

The Void is Great but it does not fool, it does not lie. 

 I am flabbergasted at the lack of choices, so I chose to stay at home almost as a form of protest. (This is how one justifies being lazy, see?) 

I miss the old Kolkata or Calcutta as it was called. It had more than just  malls, and the  concrete madness to offer then. I was not a conscious part of this sadly. That Calcutta to me was more like  a small nondescript train station, the ones whose names are so easy to forget on my journey through childhood. Now I only remember the essence of it, the easy implied warmth I took for granted then. I can't find it anymore, not even in my dreams. I can only read about it in books,  and sigh at the magical twinkling lights of glow worms that became such an ordinary delight in the author's world, simple ephemeral beauties,  that seemed to light up their nights. 

And sometimes,  there's  a paragraph or maybe a line...of familiar lost memories of my own childhood...

Fireflies belong in poems.  They have appeared in at least one of mine.

I haven't seen a glow worm in years. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Dreaming Without Consequences: An Ode to Winter

So, last month I wrote about cheesy stories I used to write as a kid in school, that got me thinking...what would my stories sound like now? There was only one way to find out. I wrote a new one! 

These characters live in my head. They are a concoction of reality and my perception of it. It feels nice to be able to take control of moments in other people's lives, that may or may not ever play out. Dreaming without consequences I call it. 

Last night I thought I kissed
the loneliness from out your belly button.
I thought I did, but later you sat up,
all bones and restless hands, and told me that
there is a knot in your body that I cannot undo.

I never know what to say to these things.
“It’s okay.” “Come back to bed.”
“Please don’t go away again.”
Sometimes you are gone for days at a time
and it is all I can do not to call the police,
file a missing person’s report, even though
you are right there, still sleeping next to me
in bed. But your eyes are like an empty house
in winter: lights left on to scare away intruders.
Except in this case I am the intruder and you
are already locked up so tight that no one
could possibly jimmy their way in.
Last night I thought I gave you a reason
not to be so sad when I held your body like
a high note and we both trembled from the effort.
Some people, though, are sad against all reason,
all sensibility, all love. I know better now.
I know what to say to the things you admit to me
in the dark, all bones and restless hands.
“It’s okay.” “You can stay in bed.”
“Please come back to me again.”

~ Donna- Marie Riley 

“I hate the world today, “she sighed.

“You’re so good to me I know, but I can’t change?” he chimed in with a cocky grin.

“Stop. This has ceased to be fun.”

“What has?” he frowned.



For a moment the word took up the tiny spaces between them.

He placed his hand at the nape of her neck. “How can I help?” he muttered softly against her ears.

She stifled a sob and caved into  his arms  a little further.

She knew he couldn't.

He said, "nobody's perfect. Neither is she."  He knew her mother would sometimes purposely hurt her, just to see that she still had that effect on her daughter. It was so cruel...but it was love, in a certain way. The cracks had begun to show. He stroked both her  arms gently. He wanted the sharp lines to go away. But the hurt was too tender, too raw


 He disentangled himself from her to get to the refrigerator.He'd kept ice chips in cups in the freezer as would be customary in the abode of the self destructive.

She was lying face down on the bed. Her bare shoulders looked exquisite against the gentle sunlight. He took a piece of ice chip and traced a heart right there, like a skilled tattoo artist. He could tell just by looking at the contours of her cheeks that she was smiling. The bleeding stopped. She kept chewing on the ice.

Every day she would follow the patterns of  the empty structure that had become her life. She would pretend that this was enough.  Her whole life had been a bad drama, the kind you give in and watch  when no one's around to judge. She got up and switched the telly on. Bunheads. Fun.

He curled up against her, placing his head against her chest. His head rose and fell with her breathing. She watched his bobbing head and a surge of love passed through her. "We should take a break, I can only imagine how much this must overwhelm you, " she said in a measured tone. "You can try all you want, I'm not going anywhere. I'm not upset though, I get that it's a part of the process," he said calmly. This is odd, she thought. Will everything I say henceforth stop  making any real sense to him? Who does he love then? 

 "I'm going to go take Winter for a walk."Almost as if on cue their grey cocker spaniel receded further into his cushy den with a soft whine. "Winter's afraid of the cold. Do you want to go out? It's going to get dark soon." There he was crowding in on her again. She wished he'd stop planning every moment for her. "That's alright then. Let's just stay in," she sighed.

The doorbell rang. It was Rita. "Who wants ice cream?" she sang out. She hugged both of them,  "I'm staying the night with you guys. Let's put some  music on and get the  party started."  Rita had issues living alone. A year long relationship had ended. Badly.  "What do you have for drinks? because I just had a fabulous idea, IceCream.Cocktail kind of like a float, but stronger!!" He opened up his cellar to help Rita get started on her "fabulous idea" while her phone started belting out one Beyonce song after another.

The house felt crowded, with just the three of them.

She took advantage of this sudden distraction and dragged Winter out for the walk, muttering something about getting some Coke, to go with that cocktail.

A whiff of acrid air greeted her. Someone was burning leaves, that smoky smell followed her for some time. Her neighbors were surprised to see her, tentative smiles everywhere she looked.

Distraction, was needed.

She dialed his number, "hey, how's it going?"

He:Er, fine I guess, Rita is calling some old friends over.I'm working on it,just give me ten minutes.

She: You don't have to. Let them come.

He: really?

She: Do you live in fear of me?

He: why would you say that?

She: because sometimes I'm such a monster.

He: Don't talk like that.

She: Winter agrees.

He: he will agree to anything just to get back home.

She: I'll be there in a while....I love you.

He: ~pause~ I neve you.

She: what's that?

He: Need and Love darling, need and love.

They traced the smell of burning leaves and walked into the  park. Some men were getting a fire started. Winter watched them fascinated, nothing would make her budge. She sat down on a bench, let the dog stare into the flames that were beginning to engulf the cold. "What's your name?" she hadn't realised the man had walked up to her. His breath stank of alcohol. The cheap kind.

Her impulse dictated that she run. She leaned back on her bench, "Won't you ask me if I want a drink first?"

"Lily? Is that you?" a voice floated in from behind her. A man's voice. Ron's voice. She wouldn't forget the voice that had sang to her. A romantic gesture, a call to say it loved her. Ron's voice had become an entity in their relationship. It had come to an abrupt end when she realised that it was only just the voice she'd ever loved. It felt wrong, like infidelity.

The man with the cheap alcohol breath stepped away.

Ron came and sat next to her on the bench. "Was he bothering you?" She didn't look at him. "We both know I'm no damsel in distress, Ron."

"How have you been?" he continued unhindered.

"Fine and terribly late for a party that I'm supposedly the host of. I should get back." She didn't understand this sudden need of hers to sound ostentatious.

"Am I not invited?"

"You could come. But I doubt you'd enjoy it. We're playing Beyonce. Lots of Beyonce." She knew he hated pop/hip-hop.

"I like Beyonce!" She rolled her eyes...why was he being so...persistent?

He shrugged. Okay, fine, kidding. I have a date anyway.

She didn't want to know. It meant so little to her. But she'd walked into her own trap, hadn't she? If she were to ignore this overture and say nothing about it, he might construe that she was jealous.

"Anyone I know?" she asked.

"No I haven't really  had the time to introduce you to my wife. She's quite something though. You should stay and meet her. She'll be here soon." Ron was getting excited.

"I'd love to, but I have to be getting back to this party. Nice meeting you though.."

Winter followed her obediently. She felt stupid. Why did she always imagine things that didn't exist? This little unexpected meet and greet had culminated well after all. There was an odd sense of exhilaration in feeling ordinary, like a cog in the wheel of Ron's social life, an ex turned friend turned acquaintance who he'd stop and talk to when life threw them together by some form of coincidence but that was only just it. A hello. A Goodbye. Comforting in its brevity, solid in its sincerity. 


Ron had always been  an exceptional story teller. That made him a favorite with his students at acting school. Give him a few minutes, and he will convince you he is married and even has children of his own. 

But he knew he couldn't have that kind of life anymore. Not after Lily. It was like being taken to Mars and not finding it strange at all...but realizing that that had always been his home and then  being plopped back to earth with a gentle thud and being told, "you'll never get to be in Mars again, sorry your entry ticket has expired."

He often found himself here, in her neighborhood, ever since he came to know  she had moved in with Rick to this place. His legs took him, like it wasn't even under his control. Today had happened to be a lucky day. 

 He watched her go away.In the future,  she would or wouldn't discover that he wasn't married after all.

 But it didn't matter because if she ever did,  it could  only be a source of fondness, amusement even, directed towards him for  coming up with this bit of a...tale.