Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Disrupted Stability

It was dinner time. Like always everyone was at the table ready for a hot meal of chapattis and vegetables. The first signs of summer were setting it – in our small room it was warm and slightly stuffy. I was seething. The warmth became hotter under my heavy breath. Thoughts turned continuously in my head, but there was rage in my heart. Should I make a confrontation? I had to. And with one breath for renewed energy, I broke the silence. “Do you have other children?” All eyes upon me; I had broken a silence that had moved from once being awkward to then being feared and finally had begun to eat on me. “How many families are you maintaining at one time, father?” – I rued up all my strength to speak out loud. A tear rolled down my mother’s eye. The fan whirled slowly, a light breeze cooled the tense moment – a moment in which all of us thought. Slowly my father rose from the table.

It had been a while since a word explaining my father’s late night returns, absences over the weekend and his silent irritation had reached our ears. It was only a word which our mother insisted was wasteful gossip. Ofcourse, my sister and I were so busy with our own lives; the dreary experience of commuting in crowded trains across the city, the heat, the sweat and the ever-growing workload left us all competing for time with ourselves and each other at the end of every day, which seemed so long. Father led a similar life and as tired as we were at the end of each day, there was only a mind for smiles and mindless exchanges about our day. Sometimes father returned very late and mother would wait endlessly for a knock on the door. In the trance of our sleep, we noticed in a blur the fire being cooked up again, the table being laid once more and the swirling of the fan in the next room; continuing until we never knew when. Deep slumber would have taken its course by then.

But then the recession hit. Money was precious, as jobs were an uncertainty. Even between varying dinner timings and the descend in our mindless conversations, the absence of our father on one night troubled us out of sleep, a sleep that was probably rare to come over the next many many months. “He has to work hard as there are not many projects coming our way. Travelling tires him out and so he decided to stay in office last night,” explained mother the next day. As days passed and news of recessions hit the headlines everyday, father’s absences became longer and more frequent. Often he would be home at odd hours in the afternoon, curt when he received the phone. I would call after lunch to chat with Mother. One day father received the phone call and Mother’s asked me not to be so inquisitive. This was when the first word about father having a home in another part the city reached us. In this time of recession, people had little to keep themselves busy with and therefore idle gossip made for empty afternoons and late evenings. Father had been very successful and mother always explained ‘gossip’ as a tactic of unhealthy competition. And we still smiled sometimes; shared stories about our days on now-one-off evenings together. But how long could she have held herself and our family together on that string of thought. Our days were becoming longer as my sister and I began staying up with mother because it was becoming difficult to deal with her disconnected conversations and bouts of inexplicable staring into space.

The more we goaded her for answers the more irritant she became. She would stay up whole nights waiting for the knock on the door. Rare gossip almost became everyday news flowing in from second cousins, wives of father’s friends and eventually even our own aunts. But to put a question, each one of us knew, would be to end an era. Would it be for better or for worse… no one knew.

Father’s silence that evening, not even the slightest protest to my thoroughly outspoken self laid to rest the conflict within ourselves. Upon only a word from my sister and me he packed his bags and left. My mother only watched. I never understood and I never asked whether she disagreed with my conduct that had brought to end her disrupted, yet routine life. In the retrospective, when I see her today, I feel that maybe she always knew, but had learnt to gain strength from the disrupted stability of her life.

It is been five years now. My cousins are still cousins, my aunts are still aunts; my father is no more my father.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Things people do.

I was looking at the creative work of a friend. She has made chairs - very very sit-able chairs - with newspapers. I was so amazed by her innovative self which came about just as she was rolling up newspaper in a distracted state of the mind only to find how tight and firm the roll could become. One can only be in awe of such creativity.

But looking at her work today got me thinking about a certain more relevant thing. Creativity lies in all of us, but what is the time we give creativity to nurture itself, to grow, to be exploited. I am often told to take time off for myself. To do what? - "Creative things - write!" ; About what? - "Whatever you like to?", But what's the use? - "Learn to feel good about it." Naah... I am prompted to write this post today only because I see a new follower. It makes me happy to find that someone's been reading what I write... wrote. Thank you followers.

Does appreciation count as motivations? I guess it does. And so I wrote my friend an email telling her how she left me spell-bound with her work and drifted forth in the happiness of having motivated her towards more creativity. Maybe not.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The Curves of this Gold

The metal still brightly reflected the daylight pouring in through the window. The yellow shone against the word out cloth in which the gold had been knotted away for over a decade.

An old metal box, sealed with celo-tape had been put away into the depths of the locker several years ago. My mother's stridhan. The smell of rusting metal that wafted out as I lifted the seal brought back childhood memories of pre-wedding preparations. Weddings were boring: distant relatives cackling with joy at the sight of you, being passed around from arm to arm, oily puris with sugar-struck shrikhand, aaee coaxing you to play with other toddlers and the smell of sweat soaked bodies setting in, in the afternoon Bombay-heat. Dadar, Bandra, Kandivali... Ajee often dropped the names of these stations in recollection of 'fond' wedding memories.

Bright-eyed and inquisitive I would be allowed to sit in my grandmother's room on the brown sofa, only if I kept very quiet and didn't ask too many questions. The maid servants would be given an off-day, the curtains would be drawn (the room has no doors back then) and my mother, my aunt and my grandmother would open their treasures on the high wooden bed. Bright pink paper would be carefully unfolded to reveal glistening chains, brightly polished bangles and pearl drop earrings; each delicately picked up on the tip of their fingers and admired again and again. Ajee would smile at the thought of her mother who would very often adorn herself with these jewels. The rubies, diamonds and pearls in this box have stories to tell of ages old. After long hours of story telling and laughter, bedecked moments in front of the mirror, selection of ornaments for the next day's wedding, every pink paper, folds intact, would be placed back in the metal box; the lids of little round plastic boxed would be tightly fixed in place and a key would turn the lock in the box that catalyzed magic through many such mornings. For me the excitement would trail into fragments of boredom; unable to whine or ask questions, I would find entertainment in tracing shapes in the dust settled in the corners of the sofa.

Today after so many years, I was once again bright-eyed and inquisitive. It is a pre-wedding preparation. As my fingers trace the intricate designs of earrings and neck pieces, the joy is untold. The laughter and chattering of those dim-lit afternoons echoes as the latch un-turns.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Palms on the floor

The eyes never met
But conversations lingered.
In whispers we accused.

The slow flow of time
Every inch remains etched
There is never a conclusion.

Are kartwheels complete circles?
Then I am kartwheel-ing...

Friday, February 11, 2011

A sunny evening

But no exclamations.
The essence of an end.


Too many feelings equal no feelings.
Kartwheels! Exhaustion ...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

When Reality meets Magic

Curtains down, black out.
Music. Vibrant colours.
Light and shadow come together...
And there is magic.

Lion King was a story. This was a dream.
Every corner of the auditorium came alive when the drums beat, the actors sang and masks came alive.
They created magic, not from mystery, but by being lively, by being loud, by making their presence felt.
A very different experience of what 'magical' can be, I say.

Movement combined with an attire so grand; the scenes compel imagination, awe and enchantment.
I didn't even think of blinking; lest the dream was broken.
Emotions ran high - on stage and off stage.
Lion King - the Musical is a feeling, that must be felt.
A standing applause.