6th day

Same drama….similar breathing problem, only a different environment. Call up the wall, panicking. ‘I can’t breathe properly!’ He asks me to step out immediately. I start banging on the shutter, asking the guard to let me out.

Poor guy, gets a fright! We start looking for the oxygen can frantically. They are in the office upstairs, he runs up to get them as I pant, holding on to my chest. A couple of hours before that, one had called up the house to say, I’m not well. But the men, as usual, were drunk out of their freaking minds. Plus, ever since mom and I have left, the house has been converted into a tavern. So, my dear Bhaskar, was busy taking care of the guests. Soon other things will start, too. But not that us being around really stopped anyone, earlier.

I pump as many meds as I can, take the oxygen that makes me feel better and get a lecture. ‘ How could you give that man what he wanted, so easily?’ He’s echoing what other well wishers had said, when I moved here. ‘ I got tired of everything- the accusations, the constant microscope I was under, the back and forth calls which were being made to my friends. The listening in, I got exhausted! Most of all, it pissed me off. My mum died and everyone behaved as if she didn’t exist. As if this was their time to make merry. The fact that they abandoned her, in her last few years, I’m mad about but to watch them sit in what was her house and celebrate, it makes so damn livid.’ I want to yell but I’m too uneasy. ‘ I got tired, for now!’ I repeat, as I have been for the past week.

I look for SB but can’t find her. So SC, just imagines lying on her mum’s chest (as usual, that’s why she was called chipkoo) and falls asleep, as the cough syrup kicks in. Tomorrow will be another day.

What’s up?

Five days on the couch, with a rat (I can’t get my hands on) for company and the only thing that keeps me going is work and memories. One minute I am in Pushkar, sitting on the terrace of the only place I stay at, the next minute I am sitting by the side of the Dal. In a blink of an eye I am driving down the Western Ghats as it rains.

Worried relatives and friends message. It’s sweet, that they think this would be hard for me. Four stories of silence, with just me, in the building, in a containment zone, feels like cakewalk compared to most people’s company, at the moment.

The workers try to scare me. ‘Didi sat baje ke bad bhoot aate he!’ The building down the road, had burnt down a few years ago. Many more than were reported, died in that fire. Ever since, it has been constructed and furnished, again. But people find it hard to work, there. Well, thank God for tanhai and the rat, they’ll protect me!

Between doing dad’s work and figuring out what to do about mine, one has started to feel a little bit like one’s self. On the photography front, everything is at a halt, at the moment. Kashmir, is out of reach, the exhibitions which were lined up for the coming year, I don’t know if they will actually take place…..one does have to start working on one of the books. Let’s see how everything plays out.

Anyhow, a friend called up to check up on me and I had a realisation about human relationships. This is a person who has always been incredibly nice to me but on the other hand has some not so nice things, to say about most people. Therefore, many a times, I get to hear what she’s said about me, too. I realised after speaking to her today, that the reason one never gets furious with her, ever, is because the good that she does, all outweighs the bad that she speaks.

It’s convenient for me to ignore what she says because she makes up for everything, with what she does. That’s not what you can say, about most people. So, we may be all idealistic or just hyper sensitive ( like the shrink, astrologer, teachers, boyfriends have claimed I am) but we are all creatures of convenience. We ignore what is convenient for us to ignore. I wish I could push that spot more often, keep SC hidden, forever or maybe at least keep her on a leash.

Lockdown 4.0

The father was here today, completely clueless about why I would move out. Well, at forty it should be for obvious reasons but considering the circumstance of being, the only child of a man who has a drinking problem, it does seem quite cruel. Of course one would want to look more liberated, in a more westernised version of parent/child relationship. But though one looks quite, fickle, footloose and fancy free, one’s not good at abandoning someone in their weakest moments.

So, why? Well, one has been in a precarious situation since the mother’s passing. From conspiracy theories about us murdering my mom, to my dad’s drinking and his loose tongue, this perpetual feeling of being under a scanner, to this constant flow of information about one’s life, to theories about how I will murder my father, it’s all a bit much for me. I know it’s all said out of callousness, sometimes spite and sometimes because people want a piece of the pie but the Bollywood version of my life, I am not enjoying. A friend just confessed, she went through the same thing with her relatives, when her mum passed away. Considering, she was much younger I should be able to handle things better, at my age. But honestly, I am sucking at it, right now. People tell me how strong I am, all the time but I have never been more frail, more unsure and as afraid as I am, right now.

Lying on a sofa staring at the fan, wondering what to do in life. Between some friends and suitors one has been receiving offers to move into people’s homes. One’s quite comfortable on the couch, tanhai is back, so I have pleasant company. When I get tired of her, a few friends and the ex assistant listen to me ranting.

Then there are the tantrum throwers, who are still throwing a fit. What is it with men and this warped way in which they apparently, love? Yeh kiss kisam ki mohabbat he, jo dusre ko bas paana chahtee he? Mohabbat hoti he jisse na doori, na khamoshi, na waqt mitata he. Jab aap ki har ek dua, me kissi ka naam ho aur uss ki khushi mein hi, aap ki khushi. Love is not getting, owning, marrying…love is yearning. But this is the twice in a lifetime kind of love, the kind that gets tattooed on your skin. Doesn’t happen always but it stays for what seems like forever!

Do I look like my sisters?

Do I look like my sisters?

My skin is a few shades darker ( I never got any treatment done, to look white) and my hair unruly and unmanageable.

Though they all are a little loud, I’m the one with the most viscous tongue. I am untameable.

Do you think, like them you can tie me to men at then tell me, this is your lot in life, deal with it?

Do I look like my sisters, who are day in and day out made to feel like they are less than a penis? The brothers, the fathers, the husbands own them, can trade them, ill treat them, beat them, leave them and the society still won’t spare them!

Do I look like my sisters? They’ve bought into the patriarchy without knowing it. Accepting their fates without a fight. All the time thinking, balls to women’s rights!

Do I look like my sisters? Oh hell, no, I don’t! I look just a little like the one who nursed me when I was in a cot. She was a force of nature, she always got her way. We all revolved around her, she made us all sway. To her tunes we danced, we laughed and we played. But she taught me, to always stand tall and never let anyone, tell me what I can do and what I can not!

By hook or by crook

As I mentioned, the men in the house, will try to get what they want by hook or by crook. One is under a tremendous amount of mental pressure, as they have tried everything else and now they are using emotional blackmailing tactics. So, I am supposed to give up all my legal rights otherwise, the one I am left with, will drink himself to death and not eat anything.

I thought I would pick up a fight. I tried to but they are too conniving. There are only two options, I am left with. Either this becomes a huge legal battle- I mark my territory, never travel, resent the man more, if it’s possible or just leave! So for now, I’m just packing up and either tomorrow or day after, I will move into my office, which is in a red zone. Rather die of corona than deal with this drunken nonsense day and night.

Juliet

www.facebook.com/a100reflections/videos/632680213952391/

I mentioned one’s feeling these uncharacteristic , intense bouts of loneliness. ‘Nothing an inflated doll won’t fix’, I tell myself…’don’t rush into something out of a desperation to feel like you are part of something’. It is quite tempting, to throw caution to the wind and accept one of the proposals but I’m guessing, as soon as I start feeling like myself, again, I will split, so fast. Runaway bride, or some version of it.

This maturity of mine is quite new found. Don’t be fooled by it, lots of times bitten (I ain’t easy, infact I am going to start handing out bravery awards to the exes at some point) and only once shy, the saying applies to me. ‘But oh, how romantic it would be to just let someone rescue me, right now!’ is the thought that plays on my mind as I look down from the balcony.

Then I remembered, one of the boy’s I was dating at eighteen, wanting to climb up, one night. Poor thing, was drunk out of his mind, standing below, wanting to do the deed. Of course, it was a failed attempt, as there’s a grill and barbed wire. But it was sweet.

The pigeons going at each other, in the morning is making me miss my exes. I should stop sitting in the damn balcony! Ironically, the one I spent the maximum years with, I have the least amount of lovey dicey pics with that one. The rest I look at from time to time and wonder what happened to that girl, who couldn’t imagine her life without a man. Wanting to play Romeo mostly and Juliet, sometimes!

The thought of loving someone, somehow miraculously and then having to live without them because they’ll die on you, puts a damper on everything. Plus, I’ve had a realisation-I’ve suffered from penis envy my entire life to only realize now, men are quite weak. Strong enough to be my man? My God, no! You got to do that for your own self. Though, the rabbit is there, men are good for a nice cuddle, haan…I think I should get a dog!

Silence is golden

One’s been getting a lot of enquiries about one’s emotional condition. While we all have fair weather friends, we all thankfully, also have people who are there, when the shit hits the ceiling. What can one say? Like I said, if I’m damned if I talk and I’m damned if I don’t, then it’s better to just shut the fuck up.

Let me just say, this has to be THE MOST defining moment of one’s life. To call out misogyny, when one sees it, is very different from standing up against in in your personal space. Unfortunately, a lot of what my mother and I put up with, will go with us to our graves. But sometimes, you just have to say, enough!

So, this is that moment. This is the time to say, I ain’t going to run, I ain’t gong to hide, I am going to show you what I am made up of. Sometime, next year, I will write about this in retrospect. I will tell you how I crushed the patriarchy! I will tell you how, women are the biggest perpetrators of patriarchy and the kind of bullshit I have had to put up with, if I were a guy, no one would have dared to say, think or do it. I will tell you, how I did it all alone, by myself. I will tell you every little detail of it- the pressure, the emotional blackmail, the justifications, the mind games and the manipulations. I will tell you how, there was no man, hence, no shoulder to cry on, no hand to hold, no one to say, ‘don’t worry, we got this!’. I will tell you, how I, Saadiya Kochar, came out of this guns blazing ; yes, single, yes, without boyfriend or husband!

But for now, I just have to get through it. I have to survive till next year. I have to remain in one piece, irrespective of what happens. I have to remain in one piece, irrespective of how many times I am told who said what! Irrespective of who knows me how well or so well , irrespective of who thinks what and irrespective who does what! I have to keep reminding myself of what I think I am. I have to remind myself that I am my mother’s daughter and how forward thinking, she was. I have to respect her wishes. I have to look at myself and see the lioness in the mirror, even though I feel like a bheegi billi, right now.

This moment will define me. Someday, when I look at my little girl, I will tell her, how hard it was and how I fought, with everything I had! So, that she learns from her mom, like I did from mine, to never play second fiddle to a man!

God knows!

So on a day, when for the first time in a long time I thought of getting over with it and the only way I could deal with all those feelings, was by sleeping, God had other plans.

Being a little bit not normal gets aggravated before the menstrual cycle. With the amount of stress I am under, it made me terribly agitated and extremely melancholic, today. So I did what I do, locked myself away. It’s just for symbolism, the help would be the only one who would notice, in any case.

Out of the blue, the phone started to buzz, with messages from friends who had been trying to get in touch, generally. A number of video calls and chats later, I’ve survived a day. Pretending to be fine, actually makes you feel a bit okay, sometimes.

I always mocked those, suicide awareness messages, people shared on their fb walls. ‘ if you are feeling like this…know that you can call me, blah, blah and all that shit’. I always looked at those and thought, ‘these people would throw, the poor person who calls them, under the bus, themselves!’. I am partially right in my assessment of this world, in fact I’m not cynical enough. But on the other hand, I may have lost sight of how the universe functions.

The best piece of advice, came from a friend, a little while ago, who generally messaged to give her condolences. She asked me to let go and let someone in. To which I replied, ‘ I tried to and in the bargain lost friends rather than finding any solace.’ To which she replied, ‘the true and hard nuts always come around!’ Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. Maybe your life becomes a soap opera. The voyeuristic tendencies, of everyone coming to the fore. Who knows? The universe on the other hand, ensures you remain glued together, by any means possible, through anybody it can, for as long as it wants you to!

Anywhere but here

timesofindia.indiatimes.com/business/india-business/government-suspends-domestic-flight-operations-from-wednesday/articleshow/74775742.cms

So Ma passed away on the 18th of March and due to the Janta curfew, the chautha was preponed by a day. After the 21st, I wanted to leave and go anywhere, where one could grieve in peace. But unfortunately, the flights were shut down by the 25th. I knew I couldn’t be held, nothing and no one would have made me feel better in any case. But the environment at home was driving me up the wall. It seemed like too much of a celebration and I had just lost my family.

God, does have a wicked sense of humour. If he wants to teach you something, somehow, he will ensure that you learn it. That’s the reason, I will have to resolve my father issues, at some point or the other in life. Now, is not the time, ghaayal sherni aur khukaar hoti he.

I’m convinced that the only reason my mum survived after her Burr hole surgery, was because I owed her, something. I was supposed to do some stuff for her and I hope I did, all of it, like I was supposed to. It may sound all superstitious and nonsensical to an atheist but my brother’s death and my trip through the country, have converted me into a fatalist. It may also be because, on one of her visits to the hospital, in a daze, she yelled out to her dead son, ‘ Dustu, I’m not coming, now!’.

She went without a fight, a woman who had ten times more fight than I will ever have. Many got fooled by her cuteness, she was fierce and she taught her daughter, to not play second fiddle to any man. Hence, my question remains, ‘tumhe pata he Meri Ma kaun he?’ If there’s a shred of any good quality, in me, I probably picked it up from her- My Amma, Chottu, Pinky, Ma, Mummy, Ammi!

So, as we are on the verge of Lockdown 3, I wonder, how I will survive a couple more weeks of this environment? I popped an Alprax to calm my fraught nerves, last night. But nothing, is helping, this sheer feeling of despair and an intense loneliness, that even a loner like me can’t handle. SB tries to keep SC down but every few days, she pops up and asks, ‘how are we going to survive this, in one piece?’ ‘ God knows!’ , replies a tired SB.

Dating

So while in a parallel universe, one is dating many men, in this one even the rabbit and I are separated. The tragedy of the billi going on hajj, is after the 100th chua, they will still think there’s a 101st/102nd.

So one is an extremist- it’s all or nothing. Now, that the whole world and it’s mummy is asking me to get married and the rest of it is hatching conspiracies of me, eloping, I login to Tinder, to figure out dating. This being friends with men without doing them, is seriously backfiring on me. The billi has to get in to action mode, at some point. Not particularly this one, when one is a mess. But one will need a distraction, soon.

But before that, one question- Aae ki he? This unromantic, shadi.com type thing is how people meet these days? Really? Oh my bloody God, I have never felt this old, in my life!