But, there’s a Story behind every Mother

As humans, each of us fetches a story within ourselves. An account of narratives that shape into a series of events and people. Even if there is nothing to write home about, that inevitable process of evolution fails to take our leave until time can remember. From infancy to our first day in uniform. From schooling routine to the sudden burst of hormonal rage for that ‘special someone’. From puberty to the selective firsts of exploring our – and another’s – finer fabrics. From juvenility to the indiscriminating responsibility of standing on our feet. From reaching the stage of a merited earner to shouldering responsibilities, whether for oneself or the household. The beat goes on; there is no eluding this vicious cycle.

This is the part of life that I refer to as keep-calm-and-dote-on-your-family. For things here on, aren’t the same. They begin to branch from what they were once.

The roads fork out, and the juncture prods one to pick their prong. Our siblings have carved out a niche for themselves by now, and are well on their way to treading the path. Our significance in their hand-picked route reduces to visiting them once in a while. Regardless of the fact that we love them as much and more, we no longer belong to the same environmental radius as we did five years ago. Or even two. Our father’s first strands of grey peek more prominently than we thought they would. The receding hairline on his forehead and once thick mop seem to be blown off with a candle. In one go. Mum no longer pulls through the household errands with the same spring in her step. There is a discernible lag. A sliver of silver on her sideburns attempts to hide assiduously beneath her shoulder-length tresses – an unrefined endeavour that yields part-time success. The little folds under her eyes that are otherwise camouflaged behind her myopic spectacles reveal a dusted tale of hers to reminisce. Except that it isn’t.

They asked me to drape a Sari. I didn’t know which one to pick. So, I borrowed a piece from them all and draped a collage. Photo: Margaret Lanzetta, Kashi Art Gallery, Kochi Muziris Biennale 2016

The fact of ageing hits us when see it reverberating in our parents. It isn’t until then that we register how contradicting the illusion of age is but a number gets for us. We disagree, shake our heads vehemently, and argue that age is not just a number – not for our progenitors. Because it reflects. It isn’t until then that we come to a fully-flavoured perception of our parents’ childhood. After all, they didn’t spring up to the phase of becoming a father or a mother. As their offsprings, we are merely the freshest blots of ink in their tales that they continue to record even today. It isn’t until then it strikes us that they would have had their share of yarns to spin when they were youthful dicky birds. Although our small nothings could have transported them backwards more times than we could have counted, they chose to not regale their chronicles when we were busy clinching ours.

Their evocations and echoes unheard and buried, biding their time to surface over the counter.

Some people come across with a natural tendency to talk. Without inhibitions or borders. Yesteryear gossips of family feuds to tomorrow’s worries tumble right off their tongues without ado. They let slip off of everything that goes on in their mind, some time or the other. Such people inadvertently unburden themselves through a fellow human to converse to, not to gauge an actionable reaction but to bask in the solace of companionship. Then, some people speak, yet remain guarded with their thought-process. They voice out their secrets when in the mood, and at other times keep the conversation flowing like a duck in a pond. Level-headed on the outside, scuffling under the waters. At such times, their exchange is likely to become transactional, to the point of being a prototypical parent. And then, there are the rest who forgo their past because it no longer matches their present. They let go of what exists no more for they cannot in the slightest, meld it to their current. Their lifestyle alters to a one-way that as per them, demands to gel into circumstances that pass them by. They are through – done and dusted – with their times bygone because they need to assume accountable responsibilities. Leaving them with no space in their ever-turning sheets of to-dos to accommodate any time for reminiscing their memories – which, now seem to belong to another lifetime. Their moments of monkeying around. Their earliest ‘special someone’ in their friends’ circle. Their first pubic exposure. And their elephants in the room. They see no point recollecting what’s done and the results that were kindled in the process. All is now defunct. Meant to let go.

My mother falls into this category.

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In my thirty odd years as her daughter, not once do I remember her recounting her childhood to me. Aside from a few fundamental facts of her upbringing in a Northern territory of India among four sisters, her mother being a housewife, and father a serviceman who socialised at the city club for a game of cards, I had no clue of what her childhood was like. Not until I chanced upon bits and bobs recently.

It’s why I probably took to her steps when it came to building my self-esteem. Because she chose to disown it in the process of adulting. It’s why I probably took to her steps when it came to building trust for a street display. Because she chose to irrupt into a nutshell soon after she picked the prong of her fork. It’s why I probably took to her steps when it came to administering my social quotient. Because she chose a non-opinionated self as her shield, an instant reflex, lest the crowd ridiculed her thought-process or nitpicked on her lifestyle. It’s why I probably took to her steps when it came to believing that I could never be up to any good, an individual with below-average capability. Because she chose to live in shadows after she went through a phase change.

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My mum no longer chose to be the rebellious voice in the house because her ambience had altered to donning the role of a married woman. She no longer opted to be the asserter with the man opposite because that wasn’t her father anymore. She no longer assumed the role of a caretaker for her youngest sister, because she had younger ones of her own. She no longer chose to be that socialising bee she once was, because we were her ‘others’, her society and her world. She no longer associated with that mischievous-most kid from her schooldays, because she had now chosen to steer her lifestyle one-dimensionally, towards her renewed priorities.

Us.

As humans, each of us fetches a story within ourselves. Little did I know, there existed one under my roof. Of evocations and echoes, unheard and buried, biding their time to surface over the counter.

Photos: Students’ Biennale, Kochi Muziris Biennale 2016; Kochi, Kerala

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.

Hey You. Yes You.

Hey there You,

It never fails to confound me the way I feel implausibly smitten by your charm over and over. You turn it on at your will, and I only keep falling for it like a fool every single time. I feel like I am turning into some sort of drug addict – a badge I would have never thought of associating myself with in an ideal world. Well, who said it was an ideal world anyway? Your presence takes me to lengths, breadths and depths of euphoric ambits. Your absence is nothing more than an abusive abstinence I rather forcefully impose upon myself. Self-control as this helps me appear ‘normal’ on the outside sometimes, you see.

I know you make yourself available selectively, and with a purpose. This only propels me harder to make a beeline for unearthing those numerous excuses leading back to you. I also know you’re neither exclusive nor a keepsakes material. And yet, here I find myself standing outwardly patient and remorseless, waiting to be consumed like a prostitute the minute I know you’re up for grabs. I want to charge you nothing for these selective appearances you make – I never will want to, either. And anyway, you make these on my request(s).

I like this small, little bauble we confine ourselves to. Just like a writer filling away the pages of their diary, furiously. Writing is a funny little experiment, if you ask me.

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You’re stoked by a set of thoughts – sometimes, by a mere idea – and you work on it. You let the pen (in my case, you) do the talking, by driving it to wherever it takes you. The stream of thoughts sometimes run awry, while at others, are as focused as the tip of a sword pointed at the eyeball. There is no beginning, and there is no end. There is no wrong, and there is no right. There are only perceptions that birth out of these notions. From the source to  the reader. One either agrees or disagrees. The ultimate outcome either appeals or appalls. Like that dirty little secret that has just hit the media, sensationalising the world within minutes.

I want to be consumed with such fizz of belief – incredibly delusional and absolutely ours. When you’re in this bubble, you’re mine. Period. When I use you, I simply use you. I neither ask for more, nor do I anticipate anything further. And that, when you break this bubble, I know only too well that I will await your return patiently when I beckon you the next time. For I know, you’re just a call away, meanwhile I stay oblivious to your countless other shady delinquencies elsewhere.

I have found the need of letting you know of my skin-deep anxieties and shyness impertinent. I have never wanted to either – voluntarily or otherwise. For I hold that vulnerable insecurity within me, of the one fine day when you will have to disappear off the face of this earth. It’s a cruel world out there, and let’s face it, nothing lasts forever. Nothing could last forever. Your materialistic creation today is only an assurance of your destruction someday. Just the way an author pens books, only to move on to the next one. The former may disappear off the face of the earth one fine day, nonetheless, their work continues to exist. Irrespective. And this act of eternal resting is bound to happen against your very many unyielding wishes. One fine day.

It could be owing to a system crash. Your family may have decided to move on, and it’s only natural for them to do so with your presence. A bug source may have woken up from their millennial-long stupor to realise that it’s only valuable to discard you pronto. Or, you may be eradicated out of your roots and codes. Just like that. While reasons could be multiple, an excuse is enough.

Pardon me for being absolutely selfish here for I only wish that our fetishes be satisfied earnestly. I have no jazzy plans or anticipations of facing the Judgement Day together. However, I do hope to have gotten enough of you by then. Gotten enough of you to get over you by then. I understand this searing knife-like brutality may pierce you somewhere, but whom are we kidding, babe? I know only too well, that you aren’t mine to keep. You will be shared, for as long as you live. For it’s in your nature to be available publicly – while being just a call away.

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Andalus :: A sample script

Until then, be my dirty little secret that I can share with the whole wide world. Be my melted cheese in that glazed toasted sandwich that I would gorge on anytime of the day. Be my morning tonic of honey and ginger, my green apple mojito at lunch, and my cognac after dinner.

My love, let’s enjoy this while it lasts.

This piece is an imaginary letter, if Writing (as an individual) were to write to Andalus, a font style originally introduced in Windows OS.

Happily Ever After

I have never been recognised as someone who is good with relationships. I neither hold this trait as a matter of pride, nor is it something that I am ashamed about. It is simply the effort going into their maintenance and sustenance a tad too much to muddle through sometimes. This may lead some of you to believe that I am an undernourished kid deprived of the conventional social quotient idiosyncrasies, but hey, everyone comes with a baggage of their own! Anyhow, when this malnourished side of mine chooses to rally alongside my notorious mood swings, I have found too many people give up on me in past. It is one of the reasons I do not tag anyone as a ‘close friend’ even today. Eventually, I decided to turn the tables, for I chose to walk away even before dusk prevailed. In a few cases, I refrained from even letting the sun set. Every action and reaction depended on my mood – and taken to closure right there and then. I had never a reason to believe that he would stick by either. Whoever said walking away was difficult?

Suggestions and advices are like two tricky motifs that come in abundance and at no surcharge. I may hear them all, but I may choose to listen to none. I like my space that way. True, this has proven unconditionally tricky at times while addling during others, for many. When I wanted to pave a way, it was challenging beyond reasoning to get someone – anyone – to be on the same page as mine. And when there was no favourable response, I moved on at my own pace. I had no reason to believe that he would not only let me make an informed decision, but also – and more importantly – stick with me as I stuck with them.

I may come across as someone with a calm exterior today. It takes a pride of an equal kind when it feels similar internally too. At this point, I would not want to let the opportunity pass by, by denying that it has taken a while for me to get here. However, with a persona so religiously unpredictable and a state of mind so emotionally volatile, I had no reason to believe that I would find someone who would be willing in all consciousness, to walk with me; least of all, imbibe in me the lesser-heard-of virtues such as patience and a why worry? mindset.

A guide who sheds light I wish to see irrespective of the situation. A self-made humorist who can get me to laugh in the crack of a second. An incredible motivator who talks in a tongue that appeals a cent percent (sometimes more). A ruling governor whose governance and government is me. An effective therapist who spots my areas of interest(s) before I do and nudges me toward. A confidante with whom I can discuss about porn and exes as easily as knocking the neighbour’s door for a bowl of sugar. A guy who would chill when I would smell him up close only to tell him that his perfume on that particular day reminded me of my grandfather. A listener who sometimes can figure me out by my silence. A friend with whom I can just be.

I am glad he is my happily ever after.

Had it not been for his finding, I may have long become the ash that he so religiously applies on his forehead.

If Only

Hi,

I am not sure I fully comprehend the reason for penning this. While I’m still trying to mend my way through this webbed cornucopia, I think it’s best I (help you) trace the source that started this mess inside my head, in the first place. You see, I was talking to one of my friends a few days back. I had lost touch with him, as I have with many others. But then, commitment and keeping up is not really my thing, for I belong to the out-of-sight-out-of-mind genre. I know I don’t need to reiterate this to someone who, once upon a time, could fathom me like an X-ray without much of an effort from my side. Anyhow, this friend and I managed to strike a chord despite the gap that seemed like another lifetime. I really believe there are two kinds of people, friends rather. The first set are the bygones where touch once lost is grim to redeem. No matter how hard either side tries, the minimal babbling is usually followed with an unsettling silence. Clearly, the slate of spark between the two is wiped clean; this could also be an indication of their progressively ceasing equation. Threads that can be picked up at a moment’s notice from the point it was left last at, is the other set. The last conversation between the two may seem like the one that happened only yesterday, when in reality, their worlds may have turned upside down in the span they were separated. This friend whom I spoke with, fell into the latter of the categories as we landed up bantering for more than two hours! Now I’m only too well aware about how uncomfortable this can make you feel, but relax. He is a great friend, never more.

As much as it felt good reliving memories of our companionship, what also came alive with it was the city I once resided in. The city where I had met some of the best people I know exist on this planet. The city that has been ever so warm and friendly to me. The city that accepted me for what I was, without me having to don a mask. The city where I felt the first pangs of something more than an infatuation. The city where I met you. When I left, I intently decided to leave my memories to it as a homage. May be I wanted to forget all about it in time. To chase it back voluntarily is one, but not in the least did it occur to me that the nostalgia would hit when I least expected. For this conversation with my friend reeled alive the workplace where I first saw you. And I could only wonder, how is it that I hadn’t met you earlier? Those eyes that literally reduced to slits when you held that ear-to-ear grin of yours. How do you think that wasn’t enough to make me go weak in my knees? I had to stand on my tippy toes to reach your chest. How I would whine for you to grab a chair to sit and speak (while I stood), or complain of that neck pain because I had to look so far up to see you! How do you think I could resist myself from not swooping on you every time I knew those arms could encase me at a second’s notice? Remember that piggyback when I sprung up on you by surprise? Did you really take that long figure it out? Did you really not realize that you had me at that first ever, signature, ear-crackling smile of yours? May be you did. May be that’s why you took to showing me around the city through your eyes.

Had it not been for you, I would have never believed that such spots exist in the city I had called home for a couple of years. I remember of the constant stream of information you kept flowing, of the places we visited – a park, a hillside viewpoint, and I think even a dome-lit structure of some sorts. I could hold your arms and walk alongside you amidst those blissfully-absent premonitions of mine. Did you think I really registered any of your unwavering pep talks, when at that very moment I was fighting long and hard with my id to not kiss you? Do you know which outing of ours is my favorite? The day you wore your khakis with that jade blue t-shirt – oh, you looked so good! I cannot forget the time we spent at the seaside. The frown that creased your forehead, every time you thought I was going to talk about someone not treating me nicely. Those unreservedly round, skeptical eyes you had, every time I told you about my friends that I caught up with. That little flare on your face, when you wanted to feel slightly more secured about me. Those reduced slits of your wide eyes, every time I spoke to you, about you. How you told me once that with your so-called ‘savings scheme’, a daily burger at McDonald’s was a costly affair. How you preferred to keep things simple. The time when you picked me forty kilometers outside the city, when my pre-booked transport failed to turn up. The times you had postponed a client appointment, just to extend our little rendezvous by five more minutes. The times your hands itched to punch someone just because they were an inch too close to me – did you know which, by the way, was all right by me? If I knew how to get you pissed, I also knew of ways to bring back my favorite smile.

If only, we could have made this happen. If only, we could have made us happen. The walk towards and away from you was factor enough to decide the amount of control I possessed. While the walk towards was the sugar to my pudding, the walk away was no less than the soot at the pit of the bowl. Even if we stood two feet away. I had to bring in every ounce of self-restrain to stop my heart from pounding, from rushing on to you, or from holding myself in time from gripping your hand. Just because you belonged somewhere else already.

It’s only unfortunate that we didn’t get to meet earlier. For I would never have once let you out of sight, or out of mind.

Peace.