Sunnily Yours

Dear Earth

I have watched you hover around me for as long as the first of humankind has existed. Not much has changed since, except that we separate in some of your regional belts for a few hours. I have watched you create fascinating glimpses for your kids. So many that sometimes, I feel they take you for granted. I am sorry if I sound curt or my revelation is crude and hurting. For all I know, you may not even justify my whining of your offsprings to whom you are this committed to. Moreover, I do not have the right to do so when there is a chink in one’s own armour. Me. I am no exception. The other day in India I was getting ready for my slumber when I overheard a mother and daughter conversing about you and I. As always, I wanted to be oblivious to my kith or kin and their well-being. I could not have cared less about the looming Star in my neighbourhood or the reddening Sky in my aftermath. I had done my time for the day. I wanted to nap. Adieu. And so, I shut my eye. I blinked my way into Horizon as frictionlessly as I usually do. But I felt fluttery at closure. The mother-daughter conversation ruffled my shades of dusk. I wasn’t able to effectuate my dip into Horizon. Until I overheard the two that day, I had forgotten that I am allowed to retire in your world because you make it possible. A lot of your kids grow up with an awareness of my rising in the East and setting in the West. It feels as if a pedagogue skipped a grammar lesson on conjunctions. I wish the learning alters to me rising in the East and setting in the West because of you. All this while, I thought I had your significance surmised right. Irrespective of how I exhibited it on the outside. How ignorant and self-centred I felt that day. What if, you decided someday that you no longer want to orbit me? I am likely to be found fighting my way through a wildfire in heaven. With my heat in tow, stimulating fire across Horizon.

I would be that unbidden volunteer handed over to the magician. My gaze would bore into his’ with unanticipated intents. Bereaved of his simple tips. Gullible to his hidden tricks.

Ma: There we come to the end of another day. The sun has gone to the United States of America.

Daughter (taking a moment to realise what she had just heard): These days, even humans can make it to the USA in twenty-one hours. Yet, the earth remains fastest. It reaches the sun to the US within twelve hours.

Ma: It is not really the sun sets. It is an optical illusion. (a preganant pause) It’s just the earth that moves around. The sun is actually stationary.

Daughter: Yeah. (gazing at the sun as it disappeared into the horizon) Ma, what if the earth stopped revolving one day?

Afternoons are my favourite. I like the space you give me in them. I am at my brightest, and laziest. You circle me by degrees and time stands still for those few blissful hours. Sometimes, I wish you would end your pirouetting around me with midday. I find percolating my heat to be one of the easiest things, for my temperament needs no controlling. It is my way of saying – let go. Sky beckons to my wishes, allowing me to prevail over him according to my mood. I can sprawl over or go crepuscular. Being midway of having completed my journey for the day and finishing the other half appeals to me. This sojourn leaves me with, what many of your inhabitants call, a Friday morning. Just that, I celebrate a Friday morning every noon. As much as I like many of your kids, I cannot help feeling amused when they bundle themselves up in layers of clothes during my shiniest hours on you. Either that or they take refuge in a self-effacing shelter.

It hurts me, though when your children ask amongst themselves – ‘in this heat?’. I find this reasoning grouchy. Am I so unbearable? Or, is it my wrath that intimidates them? Residents of your Indian subcontinent cannot bear me at my finest. I may sound like a desperado, believing you have no other job than to be my bootless detective. Pray, tell me this, if Land chose to be different every few feet, how does it become just my fault? I do not visit certain parts of you in the West; I am uncalled. But little do I know that your occupants there feel otherwise. I see hundreds of dots step out on the day to bask in me. Some enjoy me like their time out. I am their breather; their we-were-on-a-break from routine. Your inhabitants’ hypocrisy is bemusing. And annoying. I like to enjoy Sky to myself. Not just in the afternoons, but throughout. I am sheepish enough to admit it. How must I react when your kids encroach him with paper kites and aeroplanes? At some of such times, I cave in and do what I do the best. I let go. After all, it is You whom I shine upon. Your kids are oblique bearers.

Sometimes, I underplay against Sky. I like to. I feel like an indulgent donator. I lounge around indifferently at Rock Bottom, lazy enough to wake up, while Cloud enjoys the frontline feeling playful and grey-filled. A crack of a thunder, the flash of a purple, and the sight of water kissing mud – your residers are wooed already. Bah, humbug!

Photo: Vinod VV Photography

Although I have never managed to proclaim my affection for you, I hope you do know that you are my favourite of the eight. Given a chance, I would be content as your mistress. Being a spouse would not do me justice. I am not marriage material for I’m fickle. I need to flit in and out of all of you eight siblings. (Now you know better of my whereabouts on days when Cloud takes over.) I cannot settle for one partner. I feel unable, restricting myself to follow commandment(s) the mortal society bestows in the cover of marriage. Infidelity is my strength. And weakness. You say you are okay with an unconventional wedlock. You say you have the strength to take whatever comes your way while I go ahead with my id-like inhibitions. I am convinced by it all. But you need to understand that I am a hypocrite. My state of unfaithfulness will ignite in me a guilty self-conscience. The contrition will consume me. You are settled. And mortal. You have lives to look after. You have chances of being perished after a while. Before your children do. Or afterwards. Not me. I do not understand my lifespan. I do not even know if I am perishable. I am not saying that no one can reach or destroy me; let’s face it, there isn’t a unanimous evidence. At the same, I am insecure coming in the open about our relationship status. My desires towards you are lusty. Being locked to you will destroy my amorous fancies with Venus and Mars. Jupiter and Saturn. And the rest. I am moody. And selfish. Just like I do not care about Sky once I am done with my time in the evening, I cannot stick with being beautified all the time. And that is exactly what you do to me. You complete me. You have always done so. But it is not daily that I want to belong. It is not every day that I want to feel beautiful. Or wholesome.

I want you to continue to be my favourite mistake.

My only holiday in Goa.

Sunnily Yours

Read the earth’s response to the sun here.

This post is written for the ‘love theme’ contest by the Chennai Bloggers Club in association with Woodooz and Indian Superheroes.

“Happiness is, Waking up without a Hangover”

It was past midnight. The curtains were drawn, and the sheets pulled over. Aside from the occasional creaking of ceiling fans in the three rooms, all was silent in the house. Chests heaved in a rhythmic motion, some releasing gentle snores. Although a weekend, it had been a long day for everyone in his family. His three sons and their wives had come together to celebrate the yearly harvest festival. Looking after eight members was a daunting task. Besides the usual chores, preparation of festive delicacies arrested major time and attention. It wasn’t possible without help. Unless they lived in the same number day in and out, which wasn’t the case. Each son worked in a different city. All said and done, the bottom line for this household was people. They gathered for reasons, festive or melancholic. They considered their togetherness the pinnacle, whether they united in person or otherwise. Oneness was of prime significance to every one of those eight members, irrespective of the side any coin flipped. Even if that meant exertion in terms managing the household. Which incidentally, was neither unknown nor unanticipated. At the end of the day, the family was together. There was a sense of belonging, despite individual differences. And that’s all that mattered.

Lights glowed in the hall. It was half past twelve. Of the three rooms his sons had slept in, no one stirred in the last one. A slice of fluorescence crept underneath the creak of the closed door. Noises swept in as one of his sons opened the doorway. They heard yelling in the main hall. It sounded like a conversation that was reeling a heated argument. They did not take long to understand that the conversation was over the phone. Also, there were no prizes reserved for guessing the caller. Another of those countless verbal battles with no visible head or tail to it was in progress. The same battle whose end had become invisible over time. Between the three siblings – the father, his brother and sister. Their tugs of wars were like tunnels with no sight of light. They always had been. The three would pick a side and pull the rope on their ends. Neither did the three pick the same team once, nor did they give the rope away. Alas.

Years had passed. The siblings’ families had grown. They had become grandparents in one way or the other. And the radius of their oral wars had expanded proportionally.

She screamed from the other end of the phone at her brother for being irresponsible despite being the eldest amongst the three. She bawled at him about how their mother mustn’t be abandoned; not when she was inching towards her ninth decade. She spoke of their mother being unattended to in the past couple of days and how she was increasingly growing unwell. His sister’s lecture demonstration was unceasing. More than once, the father’s family of eight mistook her tirade of abuse for the lyrics of Breathless 2.0.

No amount of interruptions or conversational break-ups coaxed his sister. Her brother listened to her, first in wonder then in vain. He did not discourage the youngest of his siblings from having called in the middle of the night. He did not tell her off for having spoilt everyone’s sleep. Not that she was willing to listen to an explanation in any case.

He knew the conspirator of this call in the thick of the night. It was his power-hungry, middle brother.

She wasn’t patient when her eldest brother wanted to offer a reason for not picking up their mother earlier. She didn’t respond to questions he put forth when didn’t understand portions of her monologue. She had no answer when he asked of her denial to pick up their mother when he had visited them a few days ago. She wanted to be the only one to speak. And she expected results. Immediately. She wanted him to collect their mother from her place then and there. She wanted him to travel from one corner of the city to another right then. At one in the morning. On the night of a festival. She couldn’t keep their amma for another day as she felt indulged in too many conflicts of her own. Out of the blue. She began covering the same points in a loop as if she were on the dais reciting an oration. She was stunned of running out of reasons ten minutes into the call for she had probably wanted to make an impact. She began playing with words by repeating bits and stances and shifted her attack to the past. To their yesteryears. About how their mother had taken care of them when they were young. And how they ought to repay her now. Maybe, she expected claps towards the end for having made a moving speech. Or cries and breakdowns for making her brother’s family realise of their negligence. Towards a ninety-year-old lady. Ironically, the one who was the creator of them all. The womb from which the prizefighters of today had birthed.

Apparently, the sister believed in her midnight discourse. That she had a justifiable ground to dictate a permeable verbal exchange. All at an hour when one would have liked nothing more than to shut their senses.

Her spectators – the brother’s family of eight – were patiently watching a dispute, that made no sense to them, unfold. They stood through the tolerance; painful it was, for it sprouted from a different generation. Compromising and adjusting had probably bitten their father, uncle and aunt at some point severely. Though they had stopped trying in the aftermath, they were hung over each other even after years. Their plans and inhibitions had taken a backseat given their choice to pay prime importance to people lay long forgotten. Had Maslow still been around, he would have listed this case as an exception. Or, maybe not. In their resolution to involve sympathy-seekers, the three had conveniently forgotten to tighten their knots of disagreements along the way. And the fire had spread outside the radius, infecting burns on those who had watched the show from the front seats. Why shouldn’t it; the fencing lay forgotten, after all.

“Sometimes when you get hammered till the small hours you feel pretty good in the morning, but really it’s just because you’re still a bit drunk. That old hangover is just toying with you, working out when to bite.” Jojo Moyes, Me Before You

There is always a morning after the night before. What if on some days, there did prevail that sunshine for a spotless mind? For one, people hangover could be brushed off. And second, alcoholic after-effects wouldn’t have appeared friendlier to deal with.

Because even spirit-inflicted hangovers heal, if given time. Sometimes, within a day.

Valparai

Let’s Build a Résumé

In 2009, when I was pursuing my MBA in Bengaluru, the university administrated a workshop on résumé building. We had a visit from two industry experts who spent a couple of days with the students from our batch. They started with a lecture, where they stated that a résumé is like its owner’s table of contents. And that, we cannot elaborate our chapters. We must not. Our episodes must be pitched in shorthand; much like those one-liners we note in our diary when struck with a catchy line or thought out of the blue. They went on to address our earnest gathering of 150 that selling oneself through a résumé is an art. And not everyone gets it.

If only, there was an algorithm that spelt the surest success. Archery as a sport should have been banned long ago.

Musée Rodin, Paris
The Succession Crisis :: What lies behind the Gates?

Résumés help form the first impression. Sometimes, a great one. To presume that this impression is a foolproof image of its creator is a gamble. It is like asking the sun to take cover behind the clouds for a day. The skies could humour the asker and colour themselves grey for a drunken splash. However accidentally. They may not oblige the next day. Persisting rains improve one’s mood and the climate, no doubts. But it isn’t enough. Plenty of sunshine is. It could be. Résumés needn’t be all in and about a person. For my money, I do not believe in the art of selling through them. Because I’m not good at it. Or so I feel. Paraphrasing isn’t my forte. Not yet. Summarising and I are like the like poles of two different magnets. We repel. That’s why, holding my future in the hands of bulleted specifics, printed back-to-back on an A4 sheet makes me apprehensive.

I’m judged. By someone else. For having done something. Or, for not having done enough.

Atop the Eiffel Tower, Paris
Let’s opine on this

These days, applying to any profit-making enterprise requires a push and pull. Inside the corporate firewalls. There must be somebody in the management ladder who can own and drive the recruitment process. And is influential enough to pull the reins in their – the applicant’s – favour. Protocols need moisturising. Such that the joiner’s on-boarding feels like smearing vaseline on a patched elbow on a chilly morning. The applier’s résumé here only tests of their fit into the team. Those with prior work experience fetch flavours of precursory achievements. But, there is nothing to stop one from learning. So, why should a piece of paper carrying not more than 500 words be a predominating criterion?

I took up a job after finishing my MBA. With no prior work experience, I found my résumé not to add much value. Neither a whiz kid at school nor recreationally active, I was average when it came to studies or extracurricular activities. I found it daunting to carry through even a couple of hundred words on my résumé.

I still do.

At the résumé building workshop in 2009, the experts called me for my one-to-one with them. Following their lecture. As a part of this tête-à-tête, they went over everyone’s résumés and shared their feedback and recommendations. I felt insignificant then. As an individual. My esteem searched for hideouts because I did not want anyone to find me. I felt useless, incapable and inept in all that I had become, until then. I had my educational degree to lean on. Excellent grades? Extraordinary achievements? Extracurricular activities? Volunteering? Organising? Meh. Before my face-to-face with the two industry experts, I remember I had indulged in different font styles and sizes. For a long time. I wanted something – anything that would help my résumé look ‘presentable’. If not in terms of my work, then lengthwise. Upon meeting them, they suggested me to introduce jazzy verb forms to ‘colour up’ my summary. ‘Conceptualised’ replaced ‘idea generator’. ‘Collaborated’ substituted ‘worked with’. And, ‘guidance’ superseded ‘support’. I also remember they had recommended me to swap my order of listings. Begin your résumé by introducing yourself. Follow it up with other headings. Start with your recent work experience(s) and trace it back to your school grades. Not vice versa.

If one were to draw a perspective, a blank portion of a résumé could mean that the applicant holds an open mind. And that, the rest is open to the recruiter’s discretion. Who’d choose to read spaces when written lines are louder declarations of one’s worth? I love swimming; it didn’t occur to me to collect certificates of appreciation. I love working sudoku in my spare time. And that’s all there is to it. I travel. A lot. How fair would it be to attach all transport and toll tokens with a note that read ‘PFA with my résumé’?

If someone’s work experience crosses particular years, their education could be discounted. The weight could then shift to recommendation letters, testimonials on online profiles and/or networking forums. Like the deciding factor of a salary package – which is usually in comparison to what one earned last, and not from where they pursued their graduation. Cover letters, online presence, blog space (if any) can replace as the influential factors. Not only will these introduce headhunters to characteristics of the candidate, but also they are likely to discover the latter’s recent contributions. Why restrict to using the 500-word document as a primary judging criterion?

They say they do not have the time to go through pinned pages of a résumé. They also say the grass is greener on the other side. Too little to add, and it feels inconsiderable. Too much to introduce, and it feels boastful. Where is the greenery?

Paris
Here, maybe?

Ideas, workarounds and solutions are spontaneous. They smite you at once. Or not. It is in time that one builds on it, works around its technicalities, improves and improvises upon it. If it doesn’t hold the spark to grab your attention the second it is expressed, it probably isn’t worth your scrutiny. What if, a similar logic were to hold good for an individual too? If they do not have what it takes for you to connect with them, your exercise might be not worth it. Irrespective of how word-perfect their résumé matches to your requirements. They might fit better elsewhere. Indicating you to look up from their lifetime’s summary and call in to examine the next one’s.

Because you either find them to be a fit or not.

Tour Eiffel
Tour Eiffel, Paris

What do I know? I’m still working on increasing the length of my résumé!

(Pictures: Musée Rodin, Paris; Atop the Eiffel Tower, Paris)

“In a Minute, there!”

A couple of days back, I was returning after catching a teatime movie show at a nearby theatre. The night drew closer as I was reaching home. During the short walk from the bus stop to my apartment, I noticed a star in the sky playing catch-up with the moon. It looked brighter than usual, this star. The eyelid of the otherwise clear skies was drooping. Gradually. And mechanically. The shift in its hues was rapid and had surpassed from a grimy grey to a spotless black in a matter of minutes.

The moon had settled, free from premonitions. As if it were allocated its favourite couch. Irrespective of, and indifferent to the time lapse transpiring in its background. That night, the crater-impacted disc had rented a hammock’s guise. It was propped against the heavens in a curvy stupor. Three-fourths of the moon had sunk under the black horizon, while the rest peeked out cheekily. Lying perpendicularly to the earth, it showed no interest whatsoever. Neither in its whereabouts nor surroundings. At first glance, one could have mistaken it for being lethargic. But its attitude spelt nonchalance. Blithe could have been its mood. There was a lull in the atmosphere that surrounded it. My attention shifted to the glowing limb that was trying to reach the moon. Or so, it appeared. If the star were personified, it would have looked as if it was flailing about its arms and legs. The moon could have been completely unaware of its efforts. The might and luck it was putting in, to come at par with the moon. The star could have believed the defendant to be its destination. Which, to an uninformed onlooker appeared a few inches apart. Near, yet so far.

What do we know.

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When the star was particularly close to the moon | Credit :: @showcasemassive

Mahavir Singh Phogat, an Indian wrestler and Olympics coach, begins his daughters’ – Geeta’s and Babita’s – training in the sport in their school days. Wrestling is the spine of Dangal, the movie I had watched at the theatre that afternoon. Dangal in Hindi means ‘wrestling’ or ‘to wrestle’. Childhood yields when left to self-exploration. If a juvenile mind is refrained from doings, which to any kid sounds luring, it wavers. In the movie, not only does the father step in as the girls’ coach but also abstains them from indulging in spicy, tasty and street food. He introduces chicken in their otherwise vegetarian eating habits to supplement for proteins. He directs the earth is their source of entertainment, and the only television channel they must flick through. And that, the sands of time are their props for playtime. As kids, both girls dislike the ‘boxed’ outlook. They begin to feel that they have lost their free will. Mahavir Singh wants their lifestyles to revolve around his vested interests in wrestling, but tables turn. One day, the quick-witted lasses delay the alarm to abandon their practice. A friend’s pre-wedding celebration gathers significance over another day’s dose of physical exertion. Needless to mention, Mahavir Singh Phogat isn’t pleased.

What if, Geeta and Babita had gotten their way? What if, they had left coaching in an excuse to relish their girlhoods? What if, their father had given in? What if, he had let go and not expressed his displeasure on finding the girls at that social gathering? What if, they had stealthily grabbed edibles they weren’t allowed, even if morsels? What if years later, they had wanted to pursue the same sport they had abandoned in their youth? What if, they had hesitated in the wake of a tomorrow to begin giving wrestling serious thought? Could their father have supported them? Would they have received a similar training from him as they did when they were in school? Could they have achieved all that they had already done by then? What if, after years of education, they had discovered of their interest in wrestling? Would they have swung about their arms and legs to reach out to their moon? Just like that star?

Procrastination is that best friend who never ceases to bring along excuses to cover up our rear. When it deserts us, we continue to exist. And tell tales of how it turned out to be a vicarious villain in the name of companionship. Every. Single. Time.

Each morning, I set the alarm at five o’clock to practice singing and writing. The silence and pale skies help to focus. It’s a boon to hit the snooze button in the mornings. I feel grumpy thinking if it is time already. It turns into a bane when I wake up two hours later. The loss of time fetches a hangover so bad that the day feels drab. Disorientation sets in and works like that snake-charmer humming their listless tunes. You feel like you are left with no options than to dance to them. We led ourselves to it, after all. The silver lining in the horizon peeks out, and you find yourself in the middle of making a resolution. That you’ll no longer be an idle mind in the wild. Finding no one in sight, you bump your fist into the palm of your other hand. You’ve struck a deal. You’ve made a pact. With yourself.

Only that, the instance repeats. The next day.

garfield_lazy
Source :: Internet

Margazhi in Chennai, also known as the December Music Season, is a month to hop from one concert to another. To watch live music and dance performances. It brings together artistes drawn and created from sticks long and short, new and old. They are discussed at length. And sorted into the viewers’ files of likes and dislikes. The fine arts fraternity, a person’s journey to make it to the centre stage, and their performing nuances are coffee time banter for many concertgoers. What if, these performers had befriended procrastination every time it had grappled them? What if, they had prioritised a degree, a job and household over years of learning, unlearning and rehearsals? What if, they had not imposed boundaries on their lifestyles to maintain and enhance their modes of expressions? Would we have had examples to cite today? Would we have had inspirations to look up to? Would we have had quotes from who’s who to help us self-drive? The ones we copy on post-its and stick on the inside of our wardrobes. To motivate ourselves.

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Source :: Internet

What if, that star in the sky were personified indeed? What if, it had received just a little help to make it to wherever it wanted to? Could it have done it?

Or, would it have left hope because its help had delayed this time?

A Kiss of Peace even after Death Do Us Part

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Lately, my senses often pervade with thoughts about death. They bemuse my thought form. Could it be that undiscovered ghoul lurking in the neighbour’s attic? Or, a morbid phantom floating about in an invisibility cloak? Coursing its next prey, even as we fantasise about the weekend on a soporific Monday morning. Would it sweep you off like it does in the movies? Or, drop you dead when you’re in the middle of hosting a cheerful banter at the monthly kitty?

The loss of kindred has become a frequently uttered syllable under the living roof. That are residing both, within and beyond the national border. Whether belonging to the direct bloodline or further down the ancestral twine. Its revered occurrence induces an unexpected, recurrent mulling over. Beckoning me to wonder if there would soon come a time when I will be led into enduring an experience alike. The one of having a beloved snatched away. At the snap of a finger.

As inevitable, loss of life is sometimes accompanied by a preamble. And at others, unescorted by any tip-offs. The bottom line being, there is no ideal way to deal with it.

My uncle passed away a few days ago. News as such, particularly when unforeseen, reels the memory lane into an instant flashback. If spieled off over the telephone, the voice on the other end starts drowning out. Because the moment you hear that laconic choice of words, you descend into your train of thoughts. In less than a blink of the eye. It is like staring at a wall that is devoid of any artistic suspensions. You don’t know what to think. And yet, you visualise stray thoughts creating vague smokey patterns.

I tried to recall when I had last heard he was unwell. The cells in my cerebellum countered the idea. Because my memories of him are short-lived but great. And none confined to being in bed. Even otherwise, I had not known him to be a troublesome person. Or, meddlesome. Or, even a handful to tackle. His opinions were never on offer over the counter unless asked. For he was a man difficult to impress. His regards for certain somethings meant eye-tied reliability by the family. Amidst the six siblings, he was neither the eldest nor the most bedridden. While suffering from a bout of viral fever, his pulse had reached a decision. That it wanted to stop ticking. Even before the crack of a daybreak could stretch across the horizon.

It had to be coped up with. Period.

The voice on the other end of my phone fluttered in and out. Enumerating treasonous reasons of his abrupt departure. Showcasing roots and its causes. It didn’t make a difference.

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You may avoid looking me in the eye. But, how will you evade my reflection that’ll pursue you like a shadow? :: Reflection of the moon on the floor

The handset kept buzzing afterwards, and the recital of the monologic discourse continued. Priorities unbuckled. For, the rays of the sun now seemed to shine from the reverse direction. No matter how hard we tried to set our vision straight. Reasoning failed to ruminate over sense and sensibility. Kith and kin flew in on the same day. Still, nothing helped alter the matter-of-fact. Nothing could.

Amidst themselves, the siblings reinforced of all the support they had rendered. With superfluous vigour. The focal points of their chattering began to steer in an unanticipated direction. The drudgery of fulfilling the ceremonial rituals. Their resilience to the persisting fatigue since a couple of days. Lingering ailments that needed looking after, henceforth. The daily duties and chores he attended to imprinted an irreplaceable void. Hued and cried about. It could have easily been a staged avenue hosting chattering parleys. If not, these may have passed as talks that induced some warmth. Neither helped rewind the series of unfortunate incidents.

What had to be done, had to be done.

If only.

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The moon indulges its admirer in a game of hide-n-seek, leaving behind its streaks as a teaser

This eponymous togetherness also brought a version of my uncle whom I had not known to exist. Of course, it wasn’t as if he had, on a fine morning, sprouted into adulthood. His quirky mischiefs as a child were fondly recalled. The nature of which belonged to another era. The fear of their father catching him in the act was rekindled. Added to it, the terrifying aftermath of thwacking him all over, if caught red-handed. Recollections of favouring and conducive group work amidst the similarly aged siblings, when young, were enamoured. So were his telltales of naughtiness and gang-like shenanigans.

Our lifestyles today cause us to separate with families. Stitched to the tag of a promising future. Muddled and meddled with machines and technology. Family get-togethers for arbitrary prattling befall by prior intimations or appointments.

If only, there is a chance to get to learn about people. Even if, blood relations. If only, their kneading revelations are brought to the cover pages when it matters. When they are alive. Maybe, it helps minimise the leftover void. The same vanity that nags you to know someone when you have a lifetime stretching ahead of you.

Sadly, when you hit the end of the road, there beckons a designated diversion. One for each. That you’re meant to take. And when you oblige, you part with a knotted feeling in the pit of your stomach. For having known them barely all this while.

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Photographs: Perungudi, Chennai

To Visit,​ or To Not Visit?

It’s a different story when mum visits over.

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Your presence lingers just like the chimaera of a shadow from the afternoon sun

A cleaner house, a more organised routine, timely meals, and household chores running like a set of well-oiled machine. As kids, there never went by a time when we were left to starve. There never came a moment when we had to pick and wear the same clothes we had dumped in the wash tub yesterday. There never showed up a week when we were late for school. And there never went by a year without new clothes. We took our basic needs, which Maslow has so mindfully defined, for granted. Or, so was the case with many of us.

When age plays its card of reasoning, the tables turn over, and the daylight of it all cracks on us. While accounting for mum’s ubiquity. There is a need to consider all domestic pursuits with the same effervescence. Whether, the regimental mundane or the infrequent extraordinary. It can mean obliterating those lacklustre cobwebs that are beginning to claim their reign across the ceilings. Or, freeing the living space from impending pests and insects. It can involve restitching her clothes from where the seaming has long retired. Or, restocking the refrigerator as so to avoid running out of supplies. It can intend having her routine health check-ups done. Or, ensuring she consumes her after-meal medicines on time. The list of to-dos pulsates as faithfully as the heart pumps blood into the system. In the midst of which, the household dailies are the one arm. And the need to assimilate any me-time with a diplomacy is the other.

The wake of this sojourning pit stop fetches a realisation of selfless dedication. And we find it to be all right if she decides to take some time off. A trip into the hilly valley canvassed with a flowing stream nearby. Or, paying a visit to the near and far relations. Attendance at a social gathering, even if it means compressed absence. Or, spending a few days with another of her offsprings. This is the me-time we crave for. The chance to unwind from the paradoxical routine.

Sometimes, I feel amused at the thought of the concept of time off. Because of its out-of-the-blues prominence. Because of the stressed insistence we make about its presence. Because it was an abstract conviction in days when we grew up. So acclimatised are we to our lifestyle today, that anyone stopping over for a stay becomes nothing short of a moral obligation. And we take our time coming to terms with it.

A lifetime gives us an airtight container worth of opportunities to undergo first-time experiences. We cherish some. And pay our last respects to a handful. No container, yet, is ever enough to collect and bottle those ventures that we engage in with mum. Considering, the memory of every one of her stays is an experience of a first-time. Whether cherished or swept to a corner of the mind.

These days her attention is elsewhere that is sponging a significant chunk of her energy and time. For she is visiting my younger sibling and taking care of my year-and-a-half-old niece. On days when the sun shines on the tropics, it would not make a difference. But today, I couldn’t have cared less about unwinding.

They say, learning to give in and give away is an acquired trait. You tend to pick it up when you have a younger one around. One can be the centre of attention for only so long. Maybe, it is a phase you’re meant to grow out of.

Honestly, I’m not there yet. For, I feel the blister of an old-school sentiment brewing within me while she is away.

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Jealousy.

Photographs: Paris, Kashmir, Kodaikanal

And the Wait Goes On

 

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Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France

Waiting for feedback is like reaching the theatre an hour before showtime. You know you’re early. And yet, the optimist in you wishes that someone would miraculously flick on the movie then. You indulge in restless fingernail-scraping. And try to listen to the negligible sounds they make when rubbed against each other. However vain, the attempt to kill the time might seem.

When you’re working on a piece that’s in anticipation of feedback, you try your best not to slip. For instance, there is a tendency to craft a write-up with extra caution when you need to send it for feedback. You double-check the draft for suitable sentence constructions and grammar. And then, edit it over. Inadequately pleased, you give it another bout of mowing and pruning. Finally, there comes a moment when you throw your hands up in the air. Not to utter Hallelujah, but to interject surrender. That, it is time to make your submission.

And then, the waiting begins.

You tap your feet. First the left and then, the right. You count the number of times you’ve 20160909_160245_copydone it, and equalise it on the other. You head to the kitchen and fill a glass of that odourless, transparent liquid. In slow motion. The little splashes of the spilling water fascinate you. You find it funny how you never paid any attention to this convention earlier. You take an incumbent sip. For you do not want to give away the air of being unoccupied at the moment. In the hopes of having passed a half hour in the kitchen, you race back to your room and check your phone. Doubtful of the internet detecting on your mobile, you wake your laptop up from its sleepy stupor. And refresh your mailbox with a constant, annoying ticking sound. A little part inside you can’t help feeling but dejected.

You want to get back to reality. Having emailed the article six minutes ago. You try to forget about it and move on. Like Ross’s and Rachel’s concept of being on a break.

A growing anticipation piles up within. You pore over the piece even after having emailed it, to check for errors. Even if you don’t find any. Even if it’s including an unnecessary comma. The prospect of a third eye commenting on your work is exciting. At the same time, it is inclusive of a waiting period – an anxious feat when you are at the receiver’s end. You’re eager to receive an input. Because this is somebody unrelated to you by blood, telling you, that you have talent. There is a possibility that the same person transforms into your audience tomorrow.

sundown

Another day strolls by, calling closure, and paving its way to the ink-dipped skies. The sun dyes its near-and-dear ones with a lazy shade of tangerine. Its quotidian absence beckons to the descending twilight. Although you do not like the sound of it, you drag your feet off and lift your lazy rear from the chair. To get on with all the pending and impending chores. A couple of hours pass by. The need to feel in control quashes the need to have obsessed over an email all this while. The former wins your inner tug of war. You feel better and get back to running your errands with a renewed zest.

Just before turning in at night, you give your phone a cursory glance. It is no more than a habitual nightcap. There are a couple of notifications. But deep down, you know your eyes are looking out for just the one.

There you see it. And hear your heartbeat thump simultaneously.

The much-awaited email is lying in your inbox. You check the time and notice it had arrived forty minutes ago. Now, that’s far from being qualified as a damsel in distress. It was a busy evening after all! You check an active chat window that has an acknowledgement of the sent email. In the snap of a finger, you push all the floppy emotions that consumed you through the day to the quayside. And respond with a coolness that you didn’t realise you had in you all this while.

As you’re ushered into the theatre, you succeed in discerning the faint sounds made by rubbing your fingernails. They need to be barely a centimetre away from your ear. Hallelujah!

Photographs: Paris, Chennai