Monday, January 17, 2011

Two on top of two

January 16
(Small Stone # 5)

It's so bitterly cold, but they stand at the gate, still. Waving, even though they can't see our hands through the darkness and the speeding car, still. Shouting back, even though they can't hear our goodbyes, still. Standing, in between the empty nest and the desolate road, still.

January 15
(Small Stone # 4)

Amid a jumble of socks and unfinished craft projects, a small sighting of a hand-written letter in black ink and warm love. Blogmate, friend, aunt, whale lover. Amid the debris of routine, I caress the creases out of promises and take a trip with her words.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A stack of pebbles

January 14
(Small Stone # 3)

He climbed across the parapet confidently, his agility belying his age. She followed, shy, hesitant, happy to out of the cold and lonely home, onto the open terrace, winds teasing her grey and thinning hair. Once more he will hoist the kite, tug and pull and shape it into soaring greatness; once more she will guide the thread spool, holding back and letting go, picking up and setting free, so he can touch the azure horizon.

January 13
(Small Stone # 2)

Frequently checking to see if there's a mail, tiny words of affection, a smile, a sigh, a feeling of being understood. Blogging again is a little bit like falling in love. No?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


(Small Stone #1)

Five fat, thick, uneven arcs
I love how your rainbow is bigger than the sky.

Small stone project

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ayodhya: the Right No

One of the thumb rules for solving most relationship problems is that you focus on present pain rather than the accumulated slights of the past. Forgiveness is inherent to healing: it is not to be misunderstood as charity. You forgive so you can move on and heal, you gain more from it than the other person does. If we had to go back and make every act actionable, we would find our very definitions of right and wrong, good and bad, human and divine, challenged.

The Supreme Court's decision to allow the Ayodhya verdict to come through on Thursday, brought forth a surge of emotions, not unlike any relationship knot. I am willing to predict what the verdict will be: and it will uphold the respect that our judiciary still deserves, despite its many afflictions. And it will bring with it a sense of patriotism that even my jaded self will not be able to overshadow.

What is the definition of an outsider, usurper? Does it mean migrants - to countries, places, areas, localities, homes? Does it mean assimilation - of cultures, languages, needs, expressions, fears, reactions? Does it mean identity in terms of time - days, months, weeks, years, generations? Who decides when and how we deserve to belong? Whether we add, deduct, embellish or deface: it is our territorial instincts at play, so in a way, we belong to even that which we hate.

The shastras, literally the 'sacred books' of Hinduism comprise of four classes of scriptures: Shruti (the 'directly heard' or 'revealed' scriptures - the Vedas), Smriti('remembered' lores such as the Ramayana and Mahabharata), Puranas (literally meaning 'ancient' allegories), and the Tantra (rituals and rites). As the incredibly wise Sri Paramhansa Yogananda aptly says, the shastras convey profound truths under a veil of detailed symbolism. Never directly: always thought-provoking, letting your soul grow step by step with your free will.

Symbolism. That part of being Hindu that makes us at once pagan and nature worshipers, as it makes us perennial and primordial, to a time before language and culture, civilizations and its various architectural expressions.

The Ramayana has been remembered, quoted, embellished, misinterpreted and cherished for millenia now. Ram, the just ruler, symbolized how rulers/administrators in an ideal world should behave. When we cry for 'Rama Rajya', we don't cry for a Hindu government, we cry for justice, for democracy, for unity. Have you ever heard any Hindu asking for 'Krishna Rajya'? No: the Lord was many things, but he was not at able administrator.

By going back to who built, who broke down, who forced in, who chipped out: are we adding to our learnings from the Ramayana? Must we plunder and burn by placing our convictions on, not the lessons of a 'handed down by memory and recitation' text, but on its geographical interpretations? Who are we battling here? Ghazni died a 1000 years ago.

The right no on Thursday will be a no to Hindu fundamentalists. The right no will be a refusal to spend national time, tax-payers money and satellite feed on a bunch of hooligans who have been deprived of their fifteen seconds of fame. The right no will be to work, to commute, to live, to love and to fight, as always, regularly. The right no will be to make September 30 a regular Thursday. The right no will be making plans to show our children one of the oldest mosques in our beautifully diverse country.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Lessons for the future

Etched in black ink, a time of my life that I will never forget. That newer memories will never wash away, so that I don't accuse my own short-sightedness for my pain.

A time when I destroyed, constructed and battled to preserve my soul, every day. A trinity of pain, relief and the spasm in between: and because this is a battle that I can win only if I lose some bits of me, I carve it on my body, like a birth mark, so I take its memories and lessons to the void and beyond. I may not take this body further with me, but this is the closest I came to actually marking my soul. Will I remember me still, then?


Nino is very excited about my new tattoo. He's seen the one on my ankle, but that has always been there. This one, this trishul on my back, is new. He's seen it bleed, he's helped me dress it, and rubbed vaseline onto it when the scabs began to fall off.

Why din't you just paint one, he asks me. Well, it'll wash off in the shower, no? I tell him. He watches me answer the many queries the tattoos get. Permanent means what, mama? he says. Permanent is what will be with you forever: it does not go away, I say, and before I can add an example to cement the meaning - that old soul in the toddler's body says, so Permanent is Painful?

I brushed that answer away quickly, saying silly stuff like my love for you is permanent, that tickle in Nanan's nose is permanent... but his answer shook me for a bit. Sometimes I wonder if I teach you the lessons of age too early in life, Nino.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Missing memories

If I told you that I forget things, you would probably nod with me, and say me too. If I told you that I forget things so completely, that when I do chance upon things I said, wrote, did or clicked, I feel like I'm looking into another person's life, you'd probably stare back, hard.

I don't know how or when this happened: I can only remember bits and pieces of myself over these 29 years,barring the mandatory sharp clear high points, or dull large low points. It has been that way in my relationships as well: I can tell you the firsts, but I cannot for the life of me, map the evolutionary trajectory of how things have come to be.

I spent Janmashtami last week with my folks, dressing up Nino as Kanha, seeking the familiar smells and sights of Mum's much loved silver diyas and jhula for the little God.

As with everytime I stay over, my father tires to pack off some of my leftovers from the house - books, diaries, photographs, letters. He handed me a beautiful spiral notebook that contained a massively long report of the time that I spent as a television production assistant in Mumbai: and I was startled to realise that I had pursued something with such passion once. The realisation was metallic in taste: not necessarily regret, but perhaps an awe of someone who was once me.

A few loose graph papers had angsty poems about love and longing and cigarettes scrawled over them... and again I marveled at this person who spoke her mind so freely, who caved under her feelings, welcoming her weaknesses. I leave you with one such poem.

The Guilt of the Audience.

I left the auditorium,
before you said all you had to say,
munched popcorn outside,
beside sound-proof doors
that closed out your cries.

I walk back in,
to see you gone,
flash-bulb lit empty stage
costumes on the stairs
and trees in the wings.

I can imagine the pain in your face when you turned
to face an empty hall,
the grimace on the face
as you pulled your best mask off -
Had you imagined me cry
as you prepared your part,
smiled as you anticipated my claps
and fierce attention?

I betrayed you then -
felt bored,
got up
stretched a little,
and walked out of the electrocution-chamber.

Monday, August 16, 2010


And so it seems, that the stars HAVE conspired to make life tougher than it is.

My father, very nonchalantly, tells me I've a 'ghatak shani dasha'. And that is as heavyweight as it sounds. 'Since you will continue to remain ill, perhaps seriously so, till the middle of 2011, you might as well develop some grace about it,' he says, without even looking away from the steering wheel. No, there's no chanting that I can do, no offerings, no certain colour clothes that will keep me safe. And do I believe him? Considering that I'm ready to try anything to understand why my body is acting as if it hates me, I'm tempted to agree.

Sigh. I've signed up for a membership with the local Planet Health chain. Might as well save some money.