Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Views of My City

Storm Clouds Hovering Over the City
View from My Window

Garbage Strewn under Flowers

One of Our Favourite Haunts

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Our Words

How do I live one entire day without talking to you?
I don’t know when I last did that. Maybe twenty-one months ago.
But afterwards, even when we could picture only the dimmest outline of each other’s faces,
We had each other’s words; we recognized each other by our voices.
That was all that existed: a voice.
A voice that stood for friendship, for understanding, for forgiveness, for hope.

Now I wake up each day with your face close to mine.
I start each day with a kiss or a caress.
I have the sight of you, the sound of your voice, your touch, your thoughts, your words,
To get me through the day.
Words through your voice, words on the computer, words on paper.
Words that have become so much a part of my life that they are less obtrusive than silence.

How do I bear the silence of this day?
How do I live through this day and hear your words again?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

My Name

I had a number of names when I was small. My dad had several teasing nicknames for me at various stages of my childhood. My sister had her own name for her baby sister. My mother called me by a name that seemed to me to be the most wonderful sound in the word, and I didn’t – and still don’t – like anyone else using it. Relatives outside immediate family, family friends and the like had another name for me – and their own interpretations of it.

It may be due to my myriad names, maybe due to other as yet unexplained reasons, that I took a long time accepting myself as Unmana. I remember staring at the name on my school notebook and repeating it in my mind, trying to realise that it meant me.

I remember being near the end of every queue, because my school believed in organising alphabetically. I remember that strangers, on first getting introduced to me, often asked what my name meant, or commented that it was unusual or beautiful. It did not mean much to me then except some probing from near strangers that my painfully shy self would gladly have avoided.

It was perhaps strange, then, that as I grew up, I became more attached to my name. You might say it grew on me. I resented being called by an abbreviation or nickname – something I had never minded when I was younger. I resented new acquaintances wanting to call me by one of the names relatives knew me by. As I grew up, my name and I seemed more a part of each other.

It helped, I suppose, that it’s an uncommon name; that I never had to call anyone else by it. A practical benefit of this is that I can usually get my desired username on any website or email service.

I still fumble when people ask me what my name means. Because it’s difficult to explain, and much of it gets lost in translation. Because it reminds me of my dad’s motives in naming me so, the prime one being that it rhymed with my sister’s name.

Perversely, I feel glad when someone who knows what it means compliments me on it. Even though some of them end up singing, “Unmona, mone mathu…” a popular song that appeared when I was in college. (Yes, I have heard it a hundred times, and never in the original.) The depiction of the word that I preferred was in an older song that I have regrettably forgotten.

What inspired this diatribe? That one person I do not even know has decided to name his daughter (if his unborn child is female) after me.

Congratulations, Rupam. I hope little Unmana - or her brother - will grow up to be the pride of your soul and the joy of your life.