‘Jump, let’s do this today!’ tells Sb to SC. She’s fuming, her head and eyes are hurting with all the crying SC has been doing. ‘In any case this whining of yours is going to get us killed, heart attack, cancer, kuch to nonsense ho jayga. Maar chalang, kar naki! Mummy chahiye, mummy! 41 fucking years old, so many people loose their parents at a much younger age! Itna pyaar ho raha he, maar jump adha khandaan upar he. Mummy kyaa karti? You would have put your head on her lap and wept. Would that have helped?’she’s yelling within my head, as I walk over the railway track.
SB is like a raging bull, my brother would call this avatar, ‘ wild boar’. She’s egoistic, practical, a total control freak and quick to show anyone the finger. Also little bit of a tapori. ‘Kyaa hogaya dusri mummy dhund raha he?’ she says to any man who stares at her. ‘Then there are the pet dialogues that only God knows how, they roll off her tongue! ‘Abbé mammu hum tumhare bas ki baat thodi na he!, ‘Tujh se pehle bohat aye he, tere baad to aur bhi ayeenge’ ‘ Tu nahi to koi aur sahee, koi aur nahin to koi sahi!’ SC is super embarrassed by her but she keeps both of them alive and kicking.
For the past few months their conversations go like this-
SC (crying perpetually) Everyone will die, I will be all alone. What will I do, then?
SB – White kapde pehnege, biliyaa rakhenge. Bhooto ki tarah upar neeche ghumenge. Then we’ll convince people the house is haunted, what fun. Don’t like this option? Okay, we’ll make this into a hostel and keep really hot boys. Na, okay, four kids and four dogs or last option, which is my dad’s idea, practice polygamy!
SC- I need a hug, a shoulder to cry on.
SB- Come, I’ll give you. Mein he hu, hero baby tera. Yeh jo tu dhundti he, woh apni story ke hero to ban nahi paye, tere bare banenge. In any case we all have to rescue ourselves, no one and nothing can do it.
SC- Now I have to get married!
SB- What are you going to tell your kids? My mom died I felt scared, so I got married. So romantic, wow. Marriage is a social contract in which economics plays a big role. It has nothing to do with love and everything to do with attachment. Shadi chahiye ya epic love story, with twists and turns, like mom’s and the brother’s? By the way, room and bed share karna parta he. You can’t sleep in the same room, with a pet, you’ll share it with a man? Kar beta, I’ll give you a month, tops.
SC- I want to make babies!
SB- Wow, what an original idea! Not narcissistic at all!! Such amazing genes, no chances of depression getting triggered with pregnancy. Einstein ka dimaag aur Aishwarya Rai, ki looks to waise hi koi adopted bacche mein nahin hongi, jo apparently tumhare mein he? Amazing.
They go on and on and on and on!
‘Ma’am how do you parents support your decision, to go to Kashmir, right now?’, asks one of the students. ‘Forty darling, I am forty!’ I reply. But I have been saying that ever since I was eighteen and of course one couldn’t have told a class full of impressionable twenty year olds that in my younger years, I would be bashed up and locked up, for my rebellion. They’ve sloooooowllly resigned after trying really hard to discipline me.
Mum, who would actually feel bad, if something was to happen to me, doesn’t say much. She knows me so she knows, I always do what I think, needs to be done. ‘ I love you’, she tells me as I leave. I’m glad she doesn’t realise the enormity of the situation. The Father, reacts as he usually does, with sarcasm, yelling and abusing. ‘Tumhare jessa baccha hone se accha, na hona!’ This helps me more than he realises- pricks my ego, doesn’t make me miss home and I end up taking it all out on any man with authority.
The ex assistant worries, as does my dad’s driver. Don’t fight with anyone, please don’t fight with anyone, they plead with me. My intolerance for bs, is well known but somehow I will try, to keep a lid on it. Somehow!
I return to the comforting silence. The mind races in all directions. One’s always enjoyed hanging out with the brothers and it’s nice to meet them after so long. Oh that’s SC for you, superrrrrr emotional, cries in one second, hugs, kisses and loves more than she should.
And now for the one I like-SB. There she was thinking that she is the most ‘badtameez person’ and feeling so very proud of it. After all, that translates into being transparent and having the ability to call a spade a spade. But someone stole my thunder. If guests came to my house or my party and I treated them badly, I don’t think either of my parents would tolerate it, for a second. Shit, so envious today. Mera khitaab cheen liya, uff!
Like my Daddy says, ‘kabhi kabhi apne baap ki bhi baat manliya karo!’ I feel very bad when he’s right and unfortunately he is- money does make the mare to go.
Khyaal aaye kuch ghar wapis aate hue-
Befazul log ishq ko ahmiyat deti he,
Zindagi mein humari, sirf baap ki gaaliyaan
Aur jo dil do chaar baar tuta he ( thoda zyaada bhi ho sakta he,ya kucch kam bhi )
Yahin kaam aaye he.
Inheene to humme banaya he aisa
Ke jab koi kehta he na
Toh humme sunaie deta haan.
Ajeeb he yeh duniya, jo aadmiyoon ki zidd
Ko taqat manti he
Aur auraton ki zidd ko paagalpan.
As the first public display of Photowalli Gaadee nears the end, one is so impressed with one’s own ability, to mingle. Driving over 16k kms is easy peasy compared to socialising, for this pokey creature. One finds oneself missing having a man, for this purpose. Did I forget to mention that the only common traits between the men I dated were- fabulous memorising abilities and great social skills? I have been unconsciously compensating for my lack of both, I guess.
Anyway, since neither the brother nor the boy nor the bodyguard were there to hide behind, one has handled all social protocols as well as one can, but of course with a few goof ups like forgetting to invite a lot of people. That’s ok, I guess.
To sum up for now, there are things one has learnt from this experiment.
About the work- 1 out of 10 people who walk into an eatery actually care about what hangs on the wall.
The people who do care are curious enough to want to know more.
The intellectuals and the liberals seem to appreciate the work. ‘You keep screaming, till they get it!’ one said to me.
Interestingly, most people like the same photographs in order of preference and for the same reasons.
About people- In my head, I’m constantly amused and frustrated in equal measures by most people but I am most entertained by the practical! It never ceases to amaze me how tangled their thoughts become with my impractical ways. Of course they are the ones who want to know the logistics, the conversation rotates around the Moolah baby. How much you have? How much will you spend and how much will you earn?
About myself- It seems one is starting to loose one’s ability to maintain the poker face. One had perfectly, mastered certain expressions and phrases, which due to tiredness or ill health have been failing me, the past couple of weeks.
SC, who has been kept under the radar for a while, has been frantically trying to get out, I guess. So, of course she has had a very tearful reunion with one friend and totally contrary to SB burst out laughing and spilled coffee on herself when someone was trying to mock her. That’s why I like the other one more, she’s better at playing dumb and giving it back lock, stock and barrel.
So, it seems one will be taking this body of work around. Though, when one does realize it’s of no consequence, in the long run. If there is anything one has learned from her travels -one on one all human beings are tolerant. Put them together and then watch tamasha. One does wonder then, what is a person’s true nature? That which one is, when one is alone or what one becomes, in a herd? Also, if intrinsically we did not want to be surrounded by homogeneousness, to make ourselves feel safer in the first place, wouldn’t it be harder for people to manipulate us, into hating each? The acceptance and the hate exist in equal proportions, though people who have lead more tumultuous lives, I find are far more tolerant.
It’s the month for melodrama and yet there’s no mental turbulence…no depression…no need to make any life altering decisions. Maybe it’s because one can smell change in the air. Intrinsic or extrinsic? It all seems entwined, now. After all, it’s begun like this-
“Do you remember why we stopped speaking to each other?”, he asks sipping the Merlot.
“You were angry with me for going to Kashmir!”, I promptly reply to the man who was once my hero.
“You know if my daughter decided to do that, I would lock her up! I love you and I figured you are just not going to listen to anyone. So we might as well salvage this relationship before it’s too late. But there’s another reason why I was angry. It’s because you stopped tying Rakhi to me. If you had two brothers the thought wouldn’t have crossed your mind. But you made me feel like that’s it! He was your only brother!”
I stare at the trees outside B-11, nursing my drink and flashing back to all the Rakhis. Growing up, I tied that thread to practically all my cousins, my best friend’s brother and most of the domestic help. Not because I needed that much protection but because it was a family tradition. The year my brother passed over, a cousin left the festivities at home and came to meet me. I of course did what I do best – shunned him away. Barring, the one I sat opposite now and the little one who has never forgotten to message even once in the past decade, everyone knew that for me – Rakhi went away with my love.
“If the rest of them were this angry, I would have understood. But you’ve never been like a brother. Growing up, you were a substitute father to me!”, I replied. As a little girl, I was crazy about the Father. After Mom’s illness and some escapades he fell from grace. The closest resemblance I had to a Father figure between the ages of nine to fourteen, was a teenage boy…three years older than I.
A minute of silence and we know enough has been said. Six maybe seven years of ignoring each other wiped away, in ten minutes. There’s non stop chatter after that. We chat like long-lost friends. He no longer seems fatherly though he is a father, now. ‘Wow! I’m actually getting a handle on the Daddy issues,’ I think to myself.
On the way back I wonder if blood is really thicker than water. I find family members gravitate back towards one another irrespective of how far they go. Not necessarily in dire straits but somehow the bond doesn’t break that easily. It maybe due to proximity, a common social circle, marriages, the birth of a child or the death of a relative. My mind wanders to the boy who called me ‘family’. I’m suddenly overwhelmed with gratitude. The letter ‘G’, has very thoughtfully not been mentioned, once.
I head home, leave for Rishikesh with Mom the next day. Bicker over her sleeping habits (she’s a complete nocturne) for three consecutive days. I want to step out and she wants to sleep. Argue and make up every twenty minutes. Laugh, cry, kiss and hug every couple of hours. Our moods swing like pendulums, synchronously. The one thing she gets excited about is the Air Safari on the Flyboy. I make the booking for the two of us. We reach the destination which is on the Haridwar highway. The pilot suggests that in her condition it isn’t a good idea. I board the damn thing and it suddenly hits me, ‘shit I hate to fly!’
The excitement over Mom wanting to leave the hotel makes me forget my discomfort with this kind of adventure. After two failed attempts at taking off, we finally do! I look down and plead, ‘please Death, please take me when I’m in my car alone. Not like this with an amateur pilot.’ The amateur is a certified commercial pilot, by the way who is thoroughly enjoying the terribly windy conditions. I on my part keep chanting, ‘like a bird in the sky, free in it and bound by it’ (a dialogue from my movie Loss) for ten whole minutes. The landing is a bit dramatic for my liking but it’s a must do for people who keep bucket lists of silly things.
A few nights later, I get a call from my friend Ocean at the usual hour (1a.m). I’m awfully chatty. ‘When are we meeting?’, he asks. We haven’t seen each other for a really long now. ‘God knows! I don’t know when am I meant to meet anyone, anymore.’ As I sleep that night I think, water can be pretty thick, too!
My name is Salma. I’m 21 years old. This is the first time that I’m coming to the Jama Masjid. I got married around three months ago and my husband brought me here. No! I’m not too young to be married. We courted for five years and then we had the nikah.
A little while ago, I contemplated discontinuing the monologue section of this blog. Actually, it’s not really a section yet- it will eventually become one. I was in process of forming it, therefore, none of those posts were being shared on other platforms. But I chickened out…just for a little while. It’s easier talking about this, that and the other: rather than what one is or probably feels in the present moment. I’m unusually frail and hypersensitive these days.
One would have made a great case study for Walter Cannon. Bypassing my rational mind, with my impulses quickened and going into Fight or Flight Mode is a usual occurrence. But that can not remain my modus operandi. It’s eventually, going to become counterproductive. Didion said that writing is an ‘aggressive, hostile act’. How can one surpass the chance to impose oneself?
This one goes out to the people who are kind enough to search for this blog, to read my personal thoughts. The things I couldn’t understand myself, I tried to explain to others! So I guess, it’s no longer just about the city I live in and the people I meet. It’s slowly becoming about my gypsy soul, the ‘Being’ in transit. Thank you I’m flattered.
“Dekha hua sa kuch hai,
Socha hua sa kuch
Har waqt uljha hua sa
Mere saath hai kuch.
Hota hai yun bhi raasta
Khulta nahi kahin,
Jangal sa phail jaata hai
Khoya hua sa kuch.
Sahil ki geeli ret par
Bachchon ke khel sa
Har lamha mujh mein banta
Bikharta hua sa kuch.
Fursat ne aaj ghar ko sajaya
Kuch is tarah,
Har shay mein muskurata hai
Rota hua sa kuch.
Dhundli si ek yaad kisi
Qabr ka diya,
Aur mere aas paas
Chamakta hua sa kuch.
Kabhie kabhie yun bhi
Apne jee ko bahlaaya hai,
Jin bantoon ko khudd nahin samjhe
Auro ko samjhaya hai.”-Nida Fazli
I always believed a picture is worth a thousand words. Until, I saw FB summarising what 2014 was like for me. Maybe, I shouldn’t be so hard on our favourite platform. I am after all a seasoned deceiver.
These days only the written word seems to be worthy of my honesty. The ambiguity of it comforts me…Each word, even a punctuation seems like an affirmation-‘I Am’. An exercise sometimes, in futility and always for posterity. My memory after all perpetually fails me.
Here go my thoughts, taking a detour, yet again! Where was I? Oh yes! summarising the year of the meltdown -2014.
The good thing is- at 16, I locked my self up and refused to come out of my room. Ever since, I have been terribly afraid of the recurrence of such an episode of hopelessness. Escapism has helped me many a times. But like my Dad asks, “How much can you run?” So this year I stopped running. I stopped running to places, into my work, into mobs, towards men. I stopped and I cried and I struggled with my own mind, every single day. Fought my inner demeons. It seems I will have to fight them for a while.
I wish I could very poetically say ‘I have emerged a stronger person.’ I don’t feel stronger, I feel exhausted. But I now know that if I ever breakdown again, I will handle it. I can handle it on my own!
Though, I will always remember this year as one of the worst year’s of my life. I will also remember it as the year I became less afraid of myself. The year I started appreciating my flaws-my ego and my stubbornness; my aversion to other women’s men. The year, I started accepting I will never be a people pleaser. The year, I understood that people who claim to be honest are not liars they are just silly.
I will remember this year, as the year I stopped believing in Frogs and Princes. The year I realised no one is coming to rescue me. When I realised I don’t like things that become too common. The year I became kinder to my own kind. The year I became absolutely certain that a Supreme Energy watches over me.
I will always remember 2014, as the year I changed and became my own hero!
Everyone wants to do a number of things before they kick the bucket-hence, the term bucket list. But there are so many things to be grateful for, therefore, this is my Gratitude List. So, Earth calling God, Come in God! Or the Universe or the Sentient Machine that has created this stimulated reality. Whoever is my creator, Thank You!
. Ya, Ya, Ya, of course I’m grateful for the fact that I’m perfectly able. You know that. I don’t fall ill, too often. I’m not suffering from any terminal disease and the mind is a bit fucked up but it functions properly 15 days in a month. Nothing to complain about.
. The eyes are a bit of a problem but Oh! what a sight the night is without my lenses. Street lights look like my cornea has a Starbust filter attached to it and I see what I want to and every time I don’t want to see too clearly, the lenses come off! The World goes back to being a perfect haze.
. I have always wondered why I don’t have a regular need for human interaction? It’s an invaluable gift. Makes it impossible to bully me. Plus, if I’m ever imprisoned or stranded it will come handy. One of my favourite quotes from my childhood is, ”people who lead a lonely existence always have something on their minds that they are eager to talk about.” The lonely should be replaced by ‘solitary’. I ain’t going to be Chekhov, but at least I’ll have something to write about.
. Now, that I’ve crossed 35, the big four-O is a few years away. Tried being good for a decade- Ahhh, I failed miserably:). Six more months of whining and I shall be back to doing what I do best. Especially grateful for the past year. Come on commitment phobia, I’m so looking forward to having you back my dear friend!
. As a little girl, I always wondered why I wasn’t ‘normal’ ? I have wished for regular my entire life. In almost mid-life, I realize there ain’t nothing like normal. All the normal ones are just as nutty as I am, they are just great at disguising it. If you could just make me fake a few smiles a day and make my voice sugar sweet…. If you could just take away the transparency from my face, the uneasiness with which I lie and the tape recorder that plays incessantly in my head about the lies I’ve told or the ones I should have told, I could pass of as normal. They pretend to be good and I just pretend. So, I’m going thank you for making me a first class, what do they call me- ruthless B%$#@#. As the quote goes, ‘society is a masked ball, where everyone hides his real character and reveals it by hiding.’ My real character will always remain a mystery.
. Karma- how can I forget to thank thee? I don’t know who my creator is but Darling do I believe in you? You’re just of course but thankfully, so swift. Each time I screw up- wait for it, wait for it and futtak se chappet. At least, I don’t have to wait forever for the shit that’s going to come my way. I know I have to stay still, admit I messed up and you will pay me be back fair and square, asap. Thank you for the invaluable lessons.
. Two of the richest people I know are my mother and a friend who lives in Goa. For them literally money is ‘haath ki dhool.’ I will probably never be as big a spendthrift or remotely as generous as either of them. But neither would I be enslaved by money. Thank you for always giving me as much I need. For not tying my self worth to my bank balance. For the few people in my life who don’t care about- how much I earn? What car I drive or what my Daddy does? I’m truly blessed.
. If you want me do the whole cliche- thank you for all my family and friends blah blah blah. Ya ok, I am not ungrateful but you know what I’m more grateful for the strangers. The ones who don’t know me, the ones who come in like a breath of fresh air and leave just as quickly- The teachers, the mentors, employees, students, a domestic help…an old man on the street. People who drag me out of my mess without even being aware of it. Thank you for the lovely strangers. They keep me believing in miracles.