Happy holi Pinky! Dhum macha rahee ke nahin? Ever since you’ve passed over to the other side, I’ve decided to celebrate everything with aplomb. How much you missed celebrations! I wish we would have quit behaving like the world has come to an end and shared the enthusiasm you had on your ‘high days’, your joie de vivre.
Unfortunately, holi can’t be big this year, due to the pandemic but let this thing get over and we’re going to paaarrtyyyy, baby! New trip in life is, mauj kar! That’s what I tell myself all the time, ‘enjoy! Life ain’t going to get any easier, so you make hay while the sun shines!’ The self hypnosis is helping me deal with the breaking into cold sweat in the middle of the night, the anxiety which has now started giving me palpitations, the absolute paralysing fear that grips my heart about the future. I know, I need help but one is not open to the idea of a conversation. If I go to a shrink, it just might trigger something else, all together, which one is not emotionally equipped to handle right, now. So, for now, it’s mauj kar, which kind of works.
Some nights, one longs to hear, ‘ don’t worry I got you. This too shall pass and I’ll be by your side as this rips you apart.’ Then one remembers, one is trying so hard to be one’s own hero! But old habits, die hard!
The Father, goes on and on about dying and mostly one lets it pass but these days, the humour is lost on me. ‘Find yourself a boy before I do!’ he says. ‘ If God wanted me to stay with one man, why has he made so many?’ I reply. The joke ( truth) doesn’t land well. ‘ I have you to fight with, what do I need a man for?’ this he gets.
The favourite topic of discussion, in our house of course has always been dying. So, a list of instructions are yelled at me, ‘ If I fall ill, hire a male attendant. You aren’t going to take me to the toilet. Don’t come to the hospital, you have to run my factory. Don’t do this pakhaand baazi when I die, no kirtan and all for me. Throw a party!’ It goes on and on, without a thought, about how I will manage. But, I’m superwoman, you see.
I saw the Meghan Markle interview and realized that, my whining must sound like that to people. Of course your feelings are valid but when you’re privileged, your issues seem rather superficial to people who are trying to make ends meet, especially at this time. Not to discount my feelings or hers but we live in a world, where materialistic comfort tops everything else and if you have it, you have to at some point learn to suck it up. ‘How’s are you?’ should be replied with ‘Great!’ and ‘how are things?’ with ‘ just peaches’. While the world sleeps, the fortress can turn into a home, the quills can be removed and masks can slowly be taken off, albeit for a little while.
Have you noticed how some people occupy a place in your heart akin to the thirty year old sofa that’s plonked itself in the drawing room? Or like the rickety dinning table with broken chairs, that your grandmother gave to her daughter, which you look at everyday and think you got to get rid off but somehow just can’t? Some people become like that, constant fixtures you don’t pay attention to anymore, till someone wants to come and sweep under them. Then you realize the size and the weight of what’s taking up so much space. I wonder sometimes, what would it be like to have an empty room?
Kai log aap ke dil mein aise baste he, jaise woh tees baras purana sofa, jo kissi tarah se ek kamre mein bas gaya he. Jaise woh purana mez aur tuti, futi kursiya, jo nani ne ma ko di thi, jinhe dekh har roz khayaal aata he, ke aaj inhe bedakhal kar diya jay, magar kabhi ho nahi pata. Kai log, waise hi, jagah mal lete he. Kitni jagah le li tab pata lagta he, jab koi hatane ki koshish karta he. Kabhi, kabhi mere dil mein ye khyaal aata he, ki khali kamra hota, ek khali dil hota, to kaisa hota?
I get messages from people all the time, telling me how loving and giving you were. You my darling, were one of the kindest people I’ve met in my life. For you giving may have been a barter, too but in return for only love. That’s admirable but completely naive.I wish sometimes, my bitterness would have rubbed off a little on you but we are all the way we are. We don’t change too much as we age. I though, have become a bigger monster , in the past year. The part which is a little like you, is tucked away, properly and the one that helps me survive, roaring all the time. ‘Tu nahi to koi aur sahi, koi aur nahi to koi aur sahi!’ is no longer just for men, it’s my general attitude towards everything, these days. I’m sure, it would have pissed you off, as much as it does people. But I have no intentions, of unintentionally dying as lonely as you did. So I’ve made a conscious choice, to, avoid any attachments.
What a year, it’s been my darling! But before one starts to wallow in self pity, it’s been a terrible year for everyone. You on the other hand must be upto no good, I’m sure. You’re gregariousness mixed with your naughtiness must be getting you into trouble, whichever side you must have popped up on!
Pop up in your husband’s dreams too and scare him a bit, tonight. I love how you all have decided that, I somehow will manage, everything, without for a minute thinking, what will happen to me. The mess, I will manage, somehow, I’ll sort it all out. But each time life is going to get tougher, one of you ups and leaves. Well, sorry, too bad, ain’t happening this time around! So, you better ask him to stall any exit strategy.
If you think, ‘ women can’t ride bikes and they are each other’s worst enemies!’, think again. These women will shatter that belief. Not only do they ride like the wind, they cheer each other on. This year, one wasn’t in the mood to celebrate womankind. Someday, the past year, will become what artists do with their feelings, turn it into a body of work. But somehow, one bumped into this incredible bunch of women, thanks to Amit Saini from Lets Ryde Academy.
One attended the motor cycle riding workshop, which entailed learning how to pick up the bike if it fell and learning how to walk with it. That of course did not qualify me, for the ride to Leopard’s Trail, which was organised, yesterday. This was done in honour of women and was called The Women’s Day Ride.
‘Let’s break the stereotype’, is Amit’s favourite line, that he repeats, constantly. It seems to work because women from all walks of life, attend these classes. Abha, who led the ride, is a doctor and the owner of a BMW bike. Someone, with an infectious laugh and camaraderie that trickles down to each member. She held court, effortlessly and made everyone comfortable.
Tarana, a 34 year old, Muslim woman, will shatter your belief that the women of her community are suppressed. She works, rides and does as she pleases, while keeping her head covered, laying to rest, the idea, that women’s strength and independence can be gauged by the size of their clothing. Anita, who was just about to graduate from the academy, is all excited about riding to Ladakh, bro! From air hostesses to directors, to advocates to wives who bought Royal Enfield’s on a whim because, ‘they loved how it looked’ are all learning at this academy in Gurugram, that has been running for the past few years. So, if you feel the need to break the shackles, do check out their classes.
Ever since mum has gone, life’s become more difficult, much more than usual. So every fallacy, I had growing up, about things getting better eventually, have thankfully been shattered, leaving one with three options- Giving up in totality, disappearing or locking horns. Though, the first two are hugely enticing but something about the enormity of the pressure ( financially, mentally and emotionally), the difficulty and hopelessness of the situation, one finds oneself in and my mother’s life, stop me from gravitating towards what one is naturally inclined towards.
The life, that seems all hunky dory on the onset of course is filled with tremendous instability and chaos. The apparent perpetrator of that long gone, the actual one, still to be unravelled. So, one moves at a pace these days, that has concerned friends worried. ‘ Don’t you think you need to stop and process your grief? Be gentle with your self!’ asked me a friend, recently. That would be the sensible thing to do. But my maturity levels are definitely, not something to write home about! So, one moves from one thing to other, no longer in the quest for love or to find something to hold on to but to remain out of the house, just for the sake of remaining in movement. So that my basic masochistic nature, doesn’t over power better sense and the voice in my head, doesn’t render me useless.
I’m glad it does, though. One’s met some very interesting individuals in the past year. Fascinating to say the least and just when I almost gave up on my gender, I recently bumped into some women who with came their own fight, with their own struggles, their own battling of stereotypes. I never knew they could be spotted so easily. Women who walk as if they are reclaiming their spot on this earth, who sit with their legs wide apart, stating they’re the alpha, with just their posture. Who are as quick to light a cigarette as they are to help their own. Who abuse so easily and frequently they would put a sailor to shame but who cheer each other on, selflessly. Someone, once said, ‘if you feel out of place, you haven’t found your tribe!’ I don’t think I ever will, some of us are meant to wander by ourselves but I love the display of sisterhood.
Last year, I said that I would talk about the terrible, what I thought were atrocities (in hindsight the most valuable lessons) I went through, on women’s day. But one having been cynical one’s entire life, has become more so, in the past year. Jo beet gaya, usse bhulane walloh mein se to nahi he hum, lekin khudd khuredna apne zakhmo ko, uss mein bhi koi samajhdari nahi he!
Let’s just put it like this-If I was to celebrate, womenkind this year, just because I am one or because I do this ever year, there wouldn’t be a bigger hypocrite than me. One’s a terribly flawed woman but a little straightforward. So, I ain’t going put up an act to seem evolved and forgiving. When I do forgive and evolve that too shall be recorded. In a world full of people pretending to be perfect, emanating Godliness and yet not having a single good word to say about another person, at least a few of us, can be damaged, vindictive and honest in our Devilishness.
This year, I’m pissed off with my kind, in a way that can be understood only by a woman who has a mother in law, who encourages her son to ill treat the wife. By all those women who get surpassed for jobs that they deserve because the female boss doesn’t want the competition. By women who have their conversations recorded by other women, edited in a way, to prove their point about how terrible she is. By someone who has a sister in law who keeps tabs on her through the drivers and the help, through a woman who has friends who tarnish her reputation because they can’t bear that her husband is good to her. By a woman who turns down a man’s proposal and is ridiculed by him in front of her own female friends who repeatedly encourage the behaviour. By a girl who is molested or raped but is shamed, rather than supported. By someone who is sexually frustrated but is asked to deal with the husband’s coldness because well, he is a man. By someone whose mother convinces her to bear with the infidelity of the husband because he’s wealthy.
By a girl who is told to drop her ambitions by her female relatives. By all the little girls who come from low income households, who are made to give up their education, so that their male siblings can be taught. By all those rebellious women who make up their own rules as they go along, rather than follow in the footsteps of the one’s who have gone. By all those ladies, who have been made to sign away their legal rights over paternal properties by their own mothers, just so that the sons can be pleased. By a lady who is mocked by her female relatives for being divorced, childless or unmarried. By all those women who are told by ‘society’ they can’t reach for the stars, just because they have vaginas. By all those girls, who are shamed by the colony aunties, for their short skirts and by each and every female fetus that is killed by her mother, for being the same gender as herself. I’m mad at my kind this year, so I shall refrain from saying anything, at all!!
P.S- I know you’re going to argue that these are the byproducts of patriarchy. But better sense should have prevailed by 2021.
For someone who doesn’t follow any religion, oddly enough, one tends to find oneself in the vicinities of believers. I’m fascinated by the varied paths that lead to God, exactly the way I am with men (kissi aanken achi he, kissi ki awaaz achi he) but ask me to live with one and I will flee, in the opposite direction. I do enjoy the show, let me admit that. People frantically prostrating in front of a book, kissing a door frame, idol worshipping, beating oneself up in the name of God, all of it is quite lovely to watch and capture. Javed Akhtar, once declared during an interview that if you didn’t give a child a religious upbringing, he /she would be much more logical and feel no need to follow anything, or anyone. I have my doubts about the logical, but with the rest, I concur.
The Qawaals at Qutub Sahab’s Dargah, find my what my brother called ‘nastik’ ways, odd. Ever so often, someone will ask, ‘Andar’ and I sheepishly smile. ‘Apne mein to hum jaate nahin, janaab aap walle mein kyaa kare jaake?’ I want to ask. But people are usually appalled by real talk. So, I buy the flowers, spread them in front of of a door, sprinkle some ittar around that area, light the agarbatis, not at all for a God or for a wish to be granted but for all those who will end up kneeling there, hoping the Sufi, a friend of Allah, will help convey their message to him. There’s undeniably a beautiful energy at these places, that activates a part of you, which is normally dormant and I love the music, all of it, whether it’s the arti, a qawali, a hymn or a kirtan. So, even if you are an atheist, an agnostic or just simply rebellious, like me, it’s a good idea, to visit places of worship just for the vibrations.
The God one believes in, can’t be found in these places, of course. Mine is a limitless one not restricted to a place, not even restricted by good and bad. He can be felt in the wind and seen in the sky. Each time I weep, in the middle of the night, he answers my prayers. He’s in my ego, my ‘chaud’ ( my father calls it), my belief that I will get through it, however tough it is, by myself, against all odds, against the entire world and its mother if it has to be. I’ve felt him in the most beautiful and the most devastating places at some of my most ecstatic and torturous moments. But mostly, I find him in the words of teachers and poets. Every time, I despair, a teacher or a poem appear from somewhere, that propel me forward. Today, the one above did the trick.