Custom Search

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

whitewashed brain

When I was about 4 years old, I broke my arm. I had tried to squeeze into a shelf with my teddy bears, and found myself stuck. I un-stuck myself a few seconds later, only to have a cast on my arm a few hours later. I dint know autographs on casts were fad. I decorated it with mud instead

I absolutely loved going to school. My parents didn't. In the going to school ordeal, I tore about 3 of my Amma's saris, bit my ammumma some 50 times, kicked my achan and made our neighbors rush into our home, with my bawling. No wonder we changed homes every two years

Going to the post office with my Muthassan was my favourite pastime. Especially because my muthassan always told my ammumma that he wouldn’t take her to the post office. I felt jubilant and marched off after my grandfather, happy to stick stamps on with the very murky and smelly glue.

I had to walk barefoot in my school once, for not wearing the proper school shoes. Luckily on unluckily, I said the pledge that day in the assembly. I tried in vain to shut out the sniggering and giggling. Needless to say, my pledge went India is my country. All Indians are my brothers and sisters. I sob... shall always. Sniff sniff. Sob...waaa.....waaa.... they still did not however, let me wear my shoes.

I thought that being a vegetarian was boring. I tried to pass off the dried mango pieces in my lunch box as meat balls. No one believed me.

The first time I was on stage for a dance, I was thrilled at the idea of wearing lipstick. My muthassan spoilt it all by asking the make up person not to put it for me as lip stick contained toxic ingredients.

I told my achan off for not letting me sing all that I wanted to. I was on stage, mic in front of me and around 100 people looking at me. My father was compering. It was a banker's union family meet.

When I was in kindergarten, a boy in my class had a white birthmark under his eyes which looked as if a tear was running across his cheeks. I refused to wipe away my tears for a very long time to get a similar mark. It never happened that way.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

the day...

I wished to have a moment of peace in my home. But that I think is the least I could hope for tonight. There's music blaring from the speakers. The sound of people talking to each other at the top of the voice came from all possible places-inside, outside, the living room, kitchen, bedrooms...everywhere. The phone kept ringing...and no one seemed to pick it up...

I am sitting in my bedroom. There are people all around me. Aunties, grandmothers, babies, little imps of kids...everyone. I want a little peace, a room of my own. But of course am not allowed that. I have to smile, and exchange pleasantries with the million faces that present themselves before me. I cringe inside and keep smiling and nodding my head to the aunty who keeps rambling about my childhood antics to anyone who'd listen. In between wanting a little silence, and trying to ignore the pain in my cheeks from excessive smiling, i wonder how this 'aunty' knows so much about my childhood, when I don’t seem to remember seeing her at all.

My sister, the ever welcome whiff of fresh air comes in and declares. "Amma says Chechi has to sleep early. The function begins early tomorrow". A sudden outburst of "is it time already?", "Look at the time", "poor girl, she must sleep. Dark circles wont do tomorrow" was followed by my sister shepherding the twenty or so people crowded in my room, out to the hall.

I sigh and sit at last in relative silence. The speakers are still blaring.

I open my cupboard to pick out something to wear for the night instead of the heavy Kanjeevaram saree that I am wearing and my eyes fall upon the dozens of velvet boxes sitting on my shelves. Slowly I pull each out and lay them open on my bed. Nagaphanam, kaashi maala, poothaali, palakka mothiram, pearl and ruby, garnet necklaces... and other boxes full of bangles. Some new, some old, yet polished so that they defeat the new ones in their brightness...

I looked at the red Kanjeevaram silk saree that I was supposed to wear tomorrow.

I had longed so long for this day. This hullabaloo happening in my home, the guests, the noise, the colour of the mehendi, now deep on my palm. I had seen myself adorned and bejeweled, looking happy and content beside the man of my dreams. This had mattered so much to me...the wedding, the preparations, the dressing up, the invitations, the fragrance of jasmine flowers, and the scent of the incense sticks, everything...

And yet, today when I should have had genuine smiles on my face, instead of the plastered one, when I should be delighted at how dark my mehendi has come out, all I feel is numbness, a vague fear at the back of my mind, a wild desire to run away...

Tomorrow is my wedding. With the man I love with all my being. I should have been happy….but am not…

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Of times and timings

Its been nice being at home. I wake up to Amma's usual indignation of me sleeping on after the wake-up-deadline of 8am everyday. My father can be seen eating his breakfast at the table, silently oblivious to anything and everyone. Occasionally looking up to check the time on the wall clock. I'd still pretend to be sleeping, though I would have woken up some 2 hours ago, to wake a certain someone up. But I should say that these waking ups do not in any way hamper my sleep. waking up is OK. Its the getting up from bed that is a pain in the 'wrongest' place.

Just when I think Amma has given up on me and that I can steal in another 10-15 mins, I hear Achan thundering my sister's name. My very punctual sister is, as usual late for her classes. Amma and my sister are stalwarts at keeping time. Give them a deadline of 9am in the morning, you can be rest assured that you'll see them out of the house, very punctually, at 10.30 am. I am ready by a quarter to 8, Achan at almost the same time and Ammumma around 5 mins to the said time. Amma meanwhile can be seen humming away a song at the top of her voice, the pitch,rhythm, tune all intact. The lyrics, a mess. This facet never fails me irritate me as am particularly finicky about the lyrics of a song, not much about the other necessary factors. But all said and done, Amma still creates havoc with the lyrics and keeps singing. I bite my tongue and try to convince myself that the lyrics could have been probably written like Amma sings them too.

In between the singing and rushing out of rooms here and there, and the never ending search for safety pins to pin up her Saree, punctuality is lost on Amma. My sister, the boss of my family, and also the youngest member, believes in the motto of going out well-dressed. OK. I get that point. But not the reason why it takes so long. Before going out, my sister changes her hairstyle from a plait to a pony tail, to a french plait and then back to a plait. Her dress changes from jeans and pink top, to a black shirt, to the pink top again and then to her usual favourite white striped shirt. And then, she invariably has to wear the matching earring, slippers and watch. By the time my sister is done with her Queen's dressing and has stepped out of the house, Achan would have already started the car, blared the horn 12 times, and decided to call off the outing 3 times. Amma would have by then realized we are horribly late and begin her woes about how little chores always make her late,and ammumma would have finally finished all her sudoku exercises in our two morning dailies. I would sit next to the window, watch everything happening around me and feign concern over the necessity of punctuality. But honestly am hardly bothered. We invariably make good time anyway-all credit to Achan's brilliant car maneuvering skills.

So to come back to my mornings. I venture out of my bedroom after possibly everyone has stepped out of home. Ammumma would be happily struggling with her Sudoku and would be lost till I voice my need for coffee if she can make it. The coffee is usually the only good thing that happens in the mornings these days. The very thought of dragging myself to the good for nothing internship, at Indian Express, where I see my name printed along with articles, which I would never accept as mine, even when threatend with death, puts me off immensly. But then there are things in life which you've got to do, and counting this as one helps me just a wee little bit. And then there is always a slight twitch of the heart whenever my name appears on paper, and also an opportunity to stun people who think tuppence about you by telling them that you 'work' for the Indian Express...sigh! Probably what they call little pleasures in life.