Tuesday, October 28, 2008

HAPPY DIWALI!!

It is disgusting... the way people are sending me Diwali greetings.

Ok, not the greetings really, in fact I am quite touched by the messages: most have been sent by people from whom I did not ever expect any greetings of any kind at all! Since dhanteras my cellphone has been beeping innumerable times: strings of greetings, from various people, and quite often, twice from the same person! But yes, coming back to the point, I AM disgusted, and there can be no doubt about it and this is because the MOMENT I see yet another diwali message flashing impatiently on my phone, waiting eagerly to be read(and replied to), I am being reminded once again about the cloud of gloom that is hanging ominously over my (gloomy!!:P) house...

Confused??? If you've said no, then it's plain that you are not interested. No reason why you should be, and I don't blame you. If that is the case then please don't waste time reading the rest of this post(which is written in half-hangover AND in terrible grammar which I didn't bother correcting) and read my previous post if you would be so excessively kind.

Moving on(presuming that a few sympathetic souls have spared some time in order to listen to my listless ramblings), my house is and always has been a favourite haunt of the malarial mosquito, especially during the festive seasons. Don't let this stop you from visiting me, NOT my flat, I have never allowed a mosquito inside it. But my relatives who live in the same apartment as myself, have never been as hostile as I have been to that fatal breed and consequently have invited these not-so-welcome guests to their flats and have had the terrible disease. I have had it too, as a result of their overtly hearty all-encompassing hospitality(reminds me of a little paragraph in one of my elective english textbooks where the missionaries wonder whether God's grace emraces little insects like wasps or stops after having descended a little...).for the last two years my aunt has been suffering from it during durgapuja...this time the mosquito had perhaps been a little late in having bitten her and she developed the rigours and high temperatures right before diwali. Either way, it is the same for me. If it is Durgapuja, I am almost always by her side whenever I am at home, and now that it's diwali I scarcely go out. Her son and his wife are in London and everytime I nurse her back to health she promises that she would transfer all her property to my name!! A good job, eh!? All that I can say is that these three years have opened another vocational option for me: nurse.

Had that been all, I wouldn't have grumbled. But this time my Bhaiphonta might be at stake!! My dear brother is down with malaria AND something else which, the stupid doctors could not detect and as a result of which they sent him straight to the I.C.U.! Fancy a bhaiphonta without one of my most important guests! I have seven first cousins all of whom are invited but barely five can make it on that day! If one of those five goes missing what is the bloody point in calling anyone at all?????

And my brother makes the fireworks at home... so NO diwali for us since we have NEVER had one without him and his crackers....terrible!!!!!

Is there ANY POINT in hoping that my Diwali will be happy this time? It is like assuring a student that she would get a 90% in her board examinations even though she had to write her paper with chicken pox sprouting all over her body! HEH!! And THERE GOES MY PHONE AGAIN!!! But yes, to all those who had sent me Diwali greetings, thanks a tonne for those lovely thoughts, and please don't get discouraged after having read this post, keep sending greetings on such special days; usually, I love it when I receive them!!:P:P:P

Friday, October 24, 2008

It bubbles.
It gushes.
It stinks.
It degenerates.
It is just as human as any of us... the drainpipe.

It bubbles with stench, with black water...
It gushes with life: not vigour, but the very disgust of existence.
With the black water that that flows through it, it gets blackened too.

Whenever it has resisted,
has choked with tangles of dark hair,
has coughed up little spurts of black blood,
whenever it has tried retching the filth away,
Acid has been poured to "clear" her breast, to burn it.

I remember its predecessors:
the first, and the one that came after and the next one too.
All had gradually given way to crumble and decay.
This one was painted bright sporty green,
It became bottlegreen, brown, dirty black, and pitch.
Its outer cover is hard and corrugated...
proceeding gradually towards brittleness.

But its inner layers are soft...
many have peeled off, a few are still left...
It has a continuous chain of malignant tumors,
It is a reluctant human bomb that inevitably kills itself .
Its vitals are dead.

Monday, October 20, 2008

All poetry-lovers must read these...

The following poems have been written by Kamini Banga. She had composed these when she was undergoing chemotherapy to cure the breast cancer that had been handed down to her from her mother, the best heirloom that she could have ever got.....
1.Wrong Prescription
Asha is my oncologist-
Hope- an appropriate name,
Don't you think?
She disapproves of what
I read- the books strewn
Across my room
Have only one thing in
Common- death.
Friends are trying to
Feed me humour and
I follow Asha where gurus
Will stir my soul.
Nobody needs yoga, Reiki,
Naturopathy, positive thinking,
(You name it)
More than I do.
Free advice everywhere,
In books and magazines,
And Asha'a reminders:
Be strong, you are fine,
Think positive, meditate-
It helps control the mind.
If it is my bloody mind,
Why the hell are they,
treating my body?
Tell me Asha.
2.THE SACRIFICE
Omi bua and Toshi maasi,
Would stare at me and mumble,
"Oh my God,
Look at her long tresses,
No one has ever seen
Hair like this."
They would then quickly
braid it into two.
"Oh God, protect her
from the evil eye."
My long braids
Hung on either side of my head
like sentinels.
The two would then lovingly
Pile them on top of my head
Like an offering
To appease the Gods.
The Gods one day
Accepted their offering,
But it was all a fair exchange.
They spared my life
With chemotherapy,
And took away what
Omi bua and Toshi maasi
Had promised them anyway.
These are from a collection of poems that had been written by her over the years when she had undergone the treatment. For anyone who might be interested in reading more poems by her, the collection is called "I PROMISE TO BE GOOD GIRL, GOD". Read them if you can, they are beautiful.

Friday, October 17, 2008

And forget the world

To poetry:
"There's too much noise out in the streets
I couldn't hear you at all.
You snapped the connection.

There's too much traffic on every road,
I tried crossing over to meet you.
I did not see you anymore.

There are too many voices in my head.
I tried thinking about you.
I can't feel you any more.

You're hiding amidst the junk in my mind, behind the dusty curtain...
I must set out on a cleaning spree.
Else, I shall never find direction, never contemplate your beauty."

She read her own lines listlessly, and murmured for the umpteenth time "why, am I, really, an admirer of poetry?..." And suddenly she bent over her own lap and gave a little sob, for the first time not trying to hide it. From whom does she want to hide it anyway? Everyone seems to know that she is not forged out of iron, she herself had known it throughout, but had never accepted it. Acceptance, was, to her, equivalent to defeat, defeat before her own expectations, her own self-conjured image.

She had had friends, but were they to her, anything remotely more than mere companions with whom she could spend some time listening to their opinions on diverse issues and occasionally divulging those of her own? And anyway, she has always been dubious about the permanence of everything, even relationships. She had never had any reason to bear any belief in her mind about the relativity of the concept.

She is manic and depressed at the same time. Her phases of mania are tainted with jolly talk and excited gossip; while those of depression are marked by witty remarks, dry caustic humour and unnoticed intervals of painful silence.

She considers dignity a shield.Without it, she is totally unarmed. Complete frankness, to her, is the final submission to the mental turmoils that are too private to be discussed. Dignity and secrecy are her two weapons that she believes will protect her forever. Are they worthy of her trust? Are they not, rather, two traitors, who are alienating her fom all who might be so much as bothered about her sentiments, and leading her towards an exile from the humn right of expression?

She is fond of music... but never shall one get to hear her hum the lines that she holds to be the most truthful only because they are also blasphemous:
"forget what we're told
before we get too old..."(chasing cars).

Sunday, October 12, 2008

"Shubho" Bijoya(scroll down for meaning)

Earlier, I used to be exuberant at the very thought of bijoya: all those heaps of homemade sweets, chocolates, samosas and little titbits fried hot, and those rivers of soft drinks.... the very thought of those used to make my mouth water. Every evening I used to drag my reluctant mother out of my place to visit some remote relative! Not any more.
Since the last two years I have developed a fear of gaining weight. I simply ADORE soft drinks... so, apart from these I would refuse to eat anything that would be offered. Certain health-conscious relatives would offer juice or even plain water to drink... I would return from those obnoxiously insensitive households as soon as possible, revolted at the idea of a bijoya without soft drinks!
For the last two years, I have been suffering from a fear that is threefold. The first, I have just discussed. The second, of course is what every elderly female relative seems to be worrying about all the time. Slowly shaking their venerable white heads they would censure the freedom that had been granted to me during the Pujas and remark on the ever-increasing generation gap. Well, isn't that obvious? What is there to raise such a hue and cry about? Besides, their sari-clad, vermillion-smeared daughters-in-law would inevitably ask the same question: " My, my, quite the young lady! so, is it your turn to tie the knot next?", a fountain of artificial laughter would drown the room, followed by a subtle nudge and a smirk insinuating that which I would never share with such women who are best described as "irrevocably crass".
However, nothing can surpass the last of these fears: I don't know if there is a psychological term for this but definitely I suffer from it... "JUVENILE PHOBIA". Don't form an opinion too quickly... I am quite fond of children but not spoilt brats.Unfortunately my overtly Indian relatives have managed the miraculous task of bringing up American children who are American in everything else except in skin colour! The word "manners" are missing from their dictionary, they love fiddling with the guests' cellphones, they are extremely addicted to the television and the computer, and disobedience of the elderly is their motto. They consider their fathers' newly washed and ironed trousers paper napkins, their mothers' handbags their own private property, their grandmothers' sari a rope to be ravelled and unravelled continuously and their guests' property their legal claim. Recently, a relative with her family had come over to our place to pay her respects to my grandmother, AND she had bought her granddaughter along. By the time she left, both my mother and I had been driven to the end of our tether and a moment more would have witnessed me storming out of the room trying to control myself from giving the brat one tight slap. By now, our sofa-set was attracting swarms of ants owing to the sticky little hands( the jalebis were the main culprit now!) that she had casually wiped on the sofacover taking it for a towel... the centre table with the glasstop was patchy with pools of sugar syrup and pattyflakes were sticking to them... the entire drawing room was sparkling with the obnoxious glitter particle that her dress shed like fairies do in Dreamland. The only difference was she was not a fairy but a terribly mischievous elf and this was no dream but the cruel disgusting reality.
Like the three-headed dog of Pluto's underworld, These fears haunt me every year before Bijoya and once again before Nababorsho(the bengali new year). This round of ordeal is finally over, it will return only after six months. Thank God!

(* SHUBHO is a bengali word meaning Auspicious and good
BIJOYA is the post-Durga puja greetings before Diwali.)

Shadow

You were heading towards the gallows,
climbing the tall flight of stairs.
Twelve noon,
And the people gathered around.

Everyone strained their eyes,
Protecting the little treasures from the dazzle of the scorching sun...
Save only I.
My eyes were cast down
Observing a shadow that was wearily climbing stairs.

The shadow stopped, shuffled, ruminating,
While others rushed by.
My eyes felt like hurrying it on.
The shadow stumbled once, waited,
For the pain to subside,
Massaged its own ankles...
And all the while my eyes waited-
Observing every little gesture, every subtle nuance.

The crowd languished-
the people sneered.
They laughed and they pitied,
They grinned and they mourned
At your piteous puppet-like spectacle.
But my eyes were stony;
They just followed a shadow.

Even the hangman on the high platform,
was busy with his work.
My hands were steadily weaving
the fabric of my own life.
My body cast off its old clothes everyday.
My heart held meetings with those that matter.
But my eyes,
They followed a mere ghost.
The hangman shouted from the top:
Enquiring after their queer, persistent, focussed indifference.
In reply, my mind emitted a hollow laugh.

At last the shadow reached the platform.
And now its crest was blurred by a black cap.
And now the meagre shadow fell:
Thin as a spectre, spectre-dead.
And now my eyes are looking for a grave:
They have done their best.
Now for sweet, eternal rest.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Caricature

The spectral movements of the torrential rain
Dancing to the frenzied drums of thunder
Are echoing on my roof.
The curtain of the sky now ripped into shreds
By the prying searchlights of the Heavens.
The carnal instinct in nature
is baring its bloody fangs.

But we are scared of this fury no more.

The earth is cracking.
The hurricane is rising.
The tidal wave is gaining greater heights.
The desert sands are pricking the eye.
The glaciers are approaching fast.
And the whole world is alight with fiery meteors.

But the human world is calm.
It has seen too much destruction to be bothered.

These are but ripples in its own ocean of violence,
But distorted reflections in an old mirror,
Amateurish attempts of nature t imitate human brutality.

The Chronicles of Kerala

The twentysecond day of December, year two thousand and seven-this was a very special day for many of us.On that fateful day we had boarded the tarin for our first school trip with ninety classmates and a dozen teachers. Little did we suspect that the next few days would be overflowing with diverse shocks and surprises.
The first shock came when the travel manager announced, rather apologetically, that due to a shortage of reservations a few of us would have to share berths. Although we had cursed the man then, I have always been thankful to him for haveing given me that sleepless night which had given me one of my best friends. the food, while on the train was tolerable, just tolerable. We soon found ourselves having a motley lunch consisting of Rishika's chicken curry, Rukmini's corn and capsicum, and the plain rice of the food that had been supplied by the train(which badly smelled of stale curry and pickle). very soon one of our friends fell sick(which continued throughout the trip), and threw up, and hurriedly gulped down a Domstal tablet. As far as I can recall, she had lived those ten days mostly on those tablets!
When we reached Munnar on Christmas eve, our teachers were quick to sense the bubbles of delight and newfound energy that were building up rapidly inside us.... one of them promptly reminded us that she was a prefect advisor and that we had beter behaved ourselves if we had any hopes of...! THAT was the blunder: that caused all the trivial but the cutting remarks that I had to receive whenever i was so much as polite to the teachers.Nevertheless, our enthusiasm was not to be marred and soon we were dancing around the bonfire! I regret not having taken a snap of the middleaged man who had tried his level best that night to impress us with his "dance". Now that I come to think of it, his "thrusts" indicate that he might have been the choreographer of a popular bollywood song in which the hero had danced in a similar manner clad in a towel to impress his beloved.
After a few bare hours of sleep most of us had got up to witness the breathtaking sunrise and later after a heavy brunch we had set out for Periyar. NOW the people started falling sick! i had always feared this, but I was exempted because I was to emerge among many others as one of the many Florence Nightingales to look after the rest!I remember one particular night when I had twopatients under my charge...and our friend fell sick again, quite predictably,and I spent an entire day in the bus waking her up every half an hour from her painful slumber, trying to force a biscuit, a little electrol or a medicine down her throat.
The first evening at Periyar was meant for shopping and all would have gone smoothly had it not been for a particularly self-restrained, holy man, who, clad in priestly clothes, had tried groping about the girls!The next evening was spent at a programme where ten of us with 4 teachers witnessed a brilliant performance by kalari artistes. This martial art of the state is dying out rapidly and it was asad that only ten of us signed up for the show. Only we know what the rest had missed, i guess they had something better to do, at least I hope they did. That night we held Anushka's birthday party. Our teachers had, unfortunately, given us time only till 11:30. So all the watches were adjusted and the time was pushed an hour ahead and thus we celebrated when Anushka thought it was 12 whereas it was actually 11pm! Our headgirl, Mohor and Harshita made a dramatic entry, dressed as three hideous witches. The candles were blown out, the lights were turned off and there were weird sounds that scared everyone who was not a part of this drama including Anushka and me. The cake was an elaborate, chocolaty, improvised affair made of cookies, cake crumbs, chocolate sauce, chocolates and wafers. W e had pounced on it in the typical MHS fashion!
Our next stop was at Trivandram where we reaached a ten hour long journey.All of us wanted to go off to sleep immediately but soon the tv sets resounded with the news of Benazir's assassination and all of us were appalled beyond words. That night after dinner, I fell sick, unfortunately, THAT was the night when I was compelled to know how diplomatically and trategically I was making subtle moves to become a prefect and to eliminate all the possible threats. Indeed, such radical revelations about myself left me enriched...
None could control themselves when the wild waves of the Kovalam were heard crashing against the rocks! We had been instructed to " let the water approach us and not approach it ourselves"! Promptly, we did just the opposite, much to the panick of our teachers.It was our turn to panick when we found that many of out mobiles had got wet and had grains of sand sticking to them! We had exactly two hours to take a bath a get ready ( in a sari) to visit the padmanabhaswami temple. Sari-clad, we had gone to the temple: a band of young Indian ladies.
Our final stay was at Alleppey where in the morning we had a boatride in the backwaters that stank horribly! Not to be subdued, we engaged in a vigorous picture session and Antakshari. I bought a set of twelve earrings for hundred bucks and thought that I had made an excellent bargain. Six, I discovered later, were broken, two i gave to my friends, and the other four broke within two months. That final night, 14 of us gathered in one room. Horror stories and ghost stories were shared, hairdriers were burnt due to excessive use, pillowfights took place, the prospective headgirls were discussed and prank calls were made...
Finally it was the the adda session in the train that gave the trip its true essence. The ten of us in our group squeezed together in one cubicle and all our favourite stories and films, songs and poetry, religions and faiths AND our opinions of each other were discussed. This is what the trip had done to us- it had bound us in a vow of understanding- to be honoured till the last schoolday, to be treasured throughout our lives.