39th

‘It’s only through death that we understand the meaning of life.’

Another year has passed by and here I am inching slowly and steadily towards forty. Yeahhhhhhhh! I’m famously cranky on my birthday, always have been and probably always will be! One of the reasons I avoid human interaction but since I am about to make my grand exit out of a decade that has been nerve wreaking, painfully depressive but oh so enlightening, I thought I might as well make a thing out of it. Plus, my uncle’s passing has had me spiralling downwards while giving me sleepless nights. The entire process had me reliving a time my mind conveniently blocked out and simultaneously imagining going through it with both my parents. Standing alone next to the pyre will be a bit much even for this lone wolf.

Do you think people change? I don’t think so! I think we add on a few more masks along the way, get a little polished but essentially we remain as we were. As I look back I find very little difference between the 9 year old me and the 39 year old other than the fact the head has taken over the heart, completely. But the head and the heart have remained the same.

The fear of other humans, especially of the herd has remained intact. Though, I have gotten better at handling people and apparently reading them (if you spend more time listening and less time talking you do pick up a trick or two), I’m still baffled by most. You would assume that heart ache and loss may have put a dent on the defiance but I remain just as incorrigible. There was a period when there was a drastic change in my behaviour. But it wasn’t like the metamorphosis of a butterfly but rather just the chameleon changing it’s colour. The self deprecation and the masochism have started masking themselves as humour and eccentricity and the inability to tow the line has become a boon from a bane!

The innocence has unfortunately disappeared into thin air and SC ( super clingy) is hardly ever allowed to come out to play. With her lies to rest the softer, romantic, idealistic, dreamer who lives in lah, lah land and wants a big wooden house which has a plaque with home sweet home on it and lots of babies in it. Every night for a few minutes when the moon shines brightly in the sky and the wind blows through SB’s hair, SC peeps out of her shell. They have both remained the same, one wanting and the other one protecting.

The cloak of mystery or ambiguity that lies on my shoulder which has drawn men and lots of gossip, I’m still covered by. Therefore, neither the men nor the gossip have reduced in all these years. Though the average age of the men has varied there has been a type. The type most women find undesirable, one has dated more virgins than are granted in Jannat ( just kidding). Oh and of course I still love to shock, probe and appall other people to find out more about their so called higher moral ground which they have gained not through their own experiments with good or bad but by prostrating in front of a set of rules which have been shoved down their throats. ‘This is not right!’ they tell my questionable morality. ‘How would you know?’ whispers my defiance, ‘ I’ll agree or disagree when I have done it!’

Ps- For all those who claim mein kitni Sudhar gayee hu because I no longer stick out my middle finger at the drop of a hat, next time you are speaking some patriarchal bullshit and you see me scratching my forehead, notice which finger does it. Doggie ki tail siddhi itni aasani se kaise ho gi, mamu?

Death

What happens to you when you look at a person you know, reduced to being ‘the body’ in just a matter of minutes? As soon as their last breath leaves them they become just that.

A couple of weeks ago, I recorded yet another monologue while driving, about why we surround ourselves with people when all the toughest journeys we have to go on by ourselves. A few people heard it, but I did’nt upload it…though it was twenty minutes of my absolute truth it was a bit harsh even for my ears, my brand of truth is the bitterest kind.

As I sat in front of the man in the metal case, wrapped in white cloth, I was reminded of that monologue. My father’s elder brother succumbed to death today, after fighting a long drawn battle with cancer. We had just returned from the hospital, when my dad got the news. From a man who weeps while watching films, one would expect some emotions. But he had the same look as he did when his parents and his son passed away. Not a tear just a frown. The brothers had the same kind of relationship most eldest and middle born siblings share, love, awe and competitiveness. Lots of fighting and making up and endless hours of conversations. Of course like in the case of his son, he didn’t want to be in the room where his brother lay.

In Kashmir they pray for the departed incessantly. In Delhi I don’t understand why we do what we do? Women walk in wailing like rudalis, from a few minutes of conversation regarding the departed, from questioning to gossip, it goes everywhere, while the family members try to make sense of their mind numbing pain. After the body is cremated, an outsider, a dharam guru prays for your beloved instead of you.

What do you think happens to people when they die? Not where do they go, like how can anyone know that for sure. But between the time they are here and in another realm is there a transition period or is it just an on off switch, like one minute you’re here and another somewhere else? During my brother’s death I instinctively felt like the soul is there for a bit, like there is a transition period.

Do you ever look at that person and wonder what he may be feeling floating around, looking down at all of us? What he may have wanted in his last moments? I’m perpetually plagued by the thought of how lonely that moment must be to suddenly look down at everyone, no one sees you, no one hears you and you’re so afraid. Afraid of where you’re going, afraid that they’ll all forget you, afraid that in the end nothing really matters. And in the end, that’s all we are going to be, just the body in the room and nothing else matters.

Eid Ul Fitr

Eid ul Fitr- the feast of breaking the fast, is celebrated with great fervour by the Muslim community all over the world. The culmination or the grand finale to the fasting in the Holy month of Ramadan, is the festival of Eid Ul Fitr.

With over 1.5 billion adherents across the globe each country has it’s own traditions in which the festival is celebrated, after all there are over 50 Muslim majority countries in the world.

But wherever a Muslim is from, whichever sect he belongs to and whatever traditions he follows after the Eid Namaaz, irrespective of all that the men are required to pray together, in a Jamaat ( congregation) on Eid. In India, the men wear brand new kurta pyjamas, which are usually white, put on some Itar plus the skull cap and head to the Masjid. Eidi is distributed amongst the children and Seviyaan is relished by one and all and of course a Salman Khan film releases and becomes a super duper hit ( considering how mediocre Race 3 is, I have my doubts about this one).

Jumuatul Wida at Sadiq Nagar

Jumuatul Wida

Masjid Moth Sadiq Nagar

Women asking for alms outside the Masjid.

Since tomorrow Eid-Ul-Fitr is being celebrated in India, which makes today the last Friday of the month of that Ramazan. Also known as the Al- Widaa Juma, it’s celebrated annually.

The Sadiq nagar Masjid was packed by the time I reached.