Friday, July 27, 2007

Absolute Nothingness

People draw inspiration from loss, from love. I draw, if inspiration it can be called from nothingness.
What is my purpose. I know not. Man without a purpose is the highest depravity of all, someone has said.
Process. Evolving.
These are words I relate to very well. I have lived it and will continue doin so. 'Coz that is how it is supposed to be. But the nothingness grows.
Not a leaf shivers to give respite to this sultry heat in dry monsoons at 12 in the night in this far off village. The buzzing of mosquitoes and constant zing of jhingur and occasional barks in the dark is the only sound. And my tacking of the keys.
A lone lizard waits in the corner, my fearful eyes darting upwards after each minute. Its pitch dark here. On other noisy towns they sleep or chat with friends.
Its another night of stolen electricity for the villagers here. The women who were proudly showing what they can now read and write would also have slept by now. They will have to wake up at 4 and start their day in the cover of darkness. By 6 they will be done with their chores of cooking, cleaning and packing lunches. From 8 to 8 they will break their backs in the fields. At 930 they will come for night lessons in the dimly lit room with a blackboard and slogans of women empowerment.
How motivated they are to learn ka, kha, ga, gha….. The little children, some still in their blue school tunics, had promted their mothers when they faltered while reading the alphabets. Each one so proud to show what they had learnt. Guddi, the girl in blue (who accompanies her mother to the night school, daily) had recited a rhyme for me which I did not understand. The young teacher called Naina, daughter of one of the women of night school said how much satisfaction she gets out of teaching the women. “For the 1st 20 days, they could not even hold the chalk properly. Their hands would shake while writing. Partly out of feeling shy.”

“…….If my husband stops me from coming, I tell him that its only 2 hours that I spend on myself…..”, a valiant one had commented.

What motivates me? I know not. Nothing seems to matter. Not even appreciation for myself to have facilitated some kind of change in someone's life.
Slight breeze lifts my red sequined dupatta which serves as a curtain for the night. Shit, the lizard has moved from its corner.
Something rattles outside my window. A lonely peacock also cries somewhere in the dark outside. The dogs seem to have slept off. I keep flashing my torch to check the movement of the lizard. And scratch mosquito bites.
I light another cigarette. My companion of the night.
And let my mind go blank. 1232 am.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Good Bye

He died at 27. Young and charming, he was also quick to temper. He could befriend the young and the old alike. A dear heart to women of all ages, a thorough buddy to his friends, he did not know how not to be happy.

Quite suddenly he passed away. With no illness, with no premonition, with reservations made at a quaint lodge in the hills for his photo shoot the next day, he passed away.

The family cleared his pending bills using the little savings that he had made. He had lived life on his terms, made his fast buck and spent it on all. They lovingly remembered him and attended to visitors who came for sharing in the grief. For much loved that he was.

Friends wrote about him, some sang his favourite songs, some lovingly remembered anecdotes from his days. They remembered aloud how he cared, how he laughed. How he gave his two bits even when not needed. This they remembered not aloud. They remembered times when they had to tell themselves..."If he is hard on us, he is harder on himself." For he expected the best out of others.

Today almost 7 months later there was no one to tease his sisters-in law, to ask about the girl-friends of the little nephews. He had more often than not brightened the dinner conversation. And sometimes strained it by his ethics. Quick on advice and critique he was, many a times unappreciated.

...."Had he been here now"..., they thought, ...."he would comment upon the falling marks of the adolescent niece, the decision of sister-in-law to quit job and take care of growing children, the demand of a mobile-phone by the 7-yr old nephew".

'Everyone cannot be like him. So what if we give into our weaknesses?', they had in their minds so often, thought.

“But why do people die, mama? Why can’t chacha come back?” little nephew asked the silent one’s around the table. They all had listened to all the other friends in grief, intellectualise about death, yet did not have an answer. Why can’t he come back? I will tell him that I have made a kite for him. What fun we’ll have. Won’t we, mama?”

He came back. Wearing his charming smile, he stood at the door.

Time stood still. It was them and him.
He read the emotions running on the faces of his family. Reflections of their conflict flashing like coloured images in the kaleidoscope on their faces.

Was 7 months too early to move on? Was 7 months too long to want to retrace?

His beautiful smile fell. He turned and without a backward glance, passed away. For good, this time.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

no cheers to bushi dam

the plan was to go to malshej, which for some reason did not happen. So we went to the cliche`d Lonavala. A sumptious lunch was in mind which thankfully did happen. But Bushi Dam - damn ! also happened.

This is what it was like.....

(misty therefore hazy)

Many more like us from Mumbai and Pune had headed to Bushi Dam...

(Like a short cut you know about and cleverly give a miss to the traffic jam

and discover that do a lot many people).


How do you reach Bushi Dam?

You pay for this ticket that ticket (pollution ticket included)
You pass by a purple-yellow-orange-green walled eatery called Chinese-hukkas
You get directed to the damn ooops dam by a lot of young boys frantically waving their hands
You pay 50/- parking

You then cross a big puddle of brown water
Some of your friends might not want to enter into that water
So just you or some other determined one like you might have to go

You pass by a lot of men in ugly chuds
and women with hairy legs showing thru raised sarees

You will also find a bhutta wala selling bhutta right in the middle of the trickling water to the picnicers who eat and hurl the chewed off remnants one after another into the same water

When you finally reach up-well almost upto the dam

This is what it will be like...

no it is not a Mela....

they are picnicers squishing their butts to fit in

while the dam'ed water manages to find some space to trickle down

4 more reasons on why to give bushi dam a miss:-

1] as you disgustingly make your way out (having never reached the top), a cow just might raise its tail to shit in that very water you will have to wade thru'

2] you could be caught a traffic jam on your way to and from the dam. Any place with a traffic jam has to be 'touristy' and avoidable

3] the chai you get there will be milky and less than luke warm

4] you still might not like bright yellow chuds on fat men with hanging paunches

What you need to do is head towards Upper Deck which has a steeply priced buffet for an OK meal...but the view is great..and if you are not photogenic, you will be lucky here

And What you definitely need to do is head to Malshej Ghat the next weekend to wash off Bushi

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Heres to the Rains

A man in black another in blue, bent at their waists, valiantly pushing a white choked Maruti engine out of the choked Bandra roads.

Another monsoon…another period of camaraderie over clogged waters. Another day when we say, shit! I just had to go to office and mean it as well. Another day when mad Mumbaikers dive on three feet water- more splash than dive, actually.

When I was in the first standard or was it IInd?, I had to write a composition (thats what we used to call it) on any season. I wrote on the monsoons. But more than write, I watched and pondered and went out to experience what I later wrote about. My teacher, I do not remember, if she appreciated my piece, but I did have a great time, I remember.

Walking barefoot on the pavements with water rushing down the sloped roads. Back then the roads would be clean. We used to put salt on the earthworms and watch them squibble as they breathed their last slow breath. We would walk around with pouches of salt. Then when all the killing (killing…it was more entertainment for us!) would bore us…we would play mud splash in the play ground.
Occasional cricket balls from brothers’ gang would hit us or we would be delegated to do fielding. Till we would have had enough of being screamed at. Big brothers are terrors and like to show off that little sisters are at their beck and call. And most times little sisters are. Even opinionated little sisters who hero worship them. Like on the dry days, I would have to hold the colourful kite and walk backwards with loud instructions simple to understand but impressive when shouted. I was a kite holder. I had the responsible job of holding the kite and giving it a push upwards as it precariously made its upward flight.

In my essay on my favourite season, I described my trudge from school to home - slow and many a times backwards, with our olive-green or khaki bags with golden buckles hidden under white and blue and pink flower patterned raincoats or bright yellow ones. We would stop and peer at puddles waiting for worms to squirm out. And jump across puddles, then on puddles.

I don't think my teacher was impressed.

I remember the greens.

The wild doob grass
which would line up
the pavements of Jamshedpur. And the huge trees with huge branches swaying to the beat of rains and splattering fat drops at the hint of a shake. It was a predictable move yet we would try and douse each other underneath the massive trees. Back then Moms used to let c
hildren go out to play and explore. There was mud and greens and open roads and huge grounds and friends who would not compete over gadgets but over who could run faster. Back then there was less concrete.

Yes, the greens! I have always been fascinated with greens. It depicts a sense of peace and open spaces to me. Walking barefoot on the green grass with tiny blades pricking lightly at different points on the foot…with the sudden giving away of wet mud underneath the foot.

I tried rolling off a green slope once as they do in movies. My elbows would come in the way and I had to push sideways. It hurt when I got up with skirt all twisted and a pattern with elbow dents trailing behind me.

Madonna is singing sensuously now on VH1. Yes rains and water take a different meaning as an adult.

Like washing off holi colour in river under the bridge of 1935, like taking a dip in river Betwa, like clutching onto someone’s sleeve on a swaying tree house over swollen river Ken, like walking on empty streets by the sea the first day on a new city never visited again, amid loud cracking thunder, like feeling fat drops on naked arms and holding tight. Like lying on white Pondi sands as rain hits the face.

If the clog clears from knee deep to shin deep I shall venture out to bandstand. There is something beautiful about Rain. To me it is the feeling that Rain brings about.